How Can The GOP So Openly Despise Our American Heroes?



Written By: Anton Sawyer



How Can The GOP So Openly Despise Our American Heroes?



Deflection can be an incredibly effective tool when lying to someone. Pointing out the deficiencies in an enemy, thereby attempting to cover your own, or accusing someone of doing the same things that you are in an attempt to put them on their heels is Deception Tactics 101. This device has been used by every political side to one degree or another since politicking began. But, as history shows us, there’s only so much mileage either political side can get out of using the same deception tactics over and over again before the untruth gains critical mass—in layman’s terms, “when the lie’s too big.” I’m hoping that the complete disregard the GOP’s actions have shown for all of our American heroes gets to this point soon and they can begin to take accountability for their mistreatment of some of America’s greatest patriots during this century.



Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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9/11 Responders

It’s no surprise that September 11th assistance bills have always been used as capitol to one degree or another when it comes to political advantage; please do not think I’m giving the DNC a pass—they’ve been just as guilty (and will be the focus of a future article in this regard). What IS surprising though is how much the GOP has been trying to fight updated versions of them for almost a decade now. For example, in 2015 a bill called the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would have reauthorized an expiring health care program for 9/11 first responders permanently, while at the same time reauthorizing a victims compensation fund for five years. The bill was being spearheaded by a bipartisan group from the New York congressional delegation, which said renewing the programs is "a real-life or death issue.” Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell tried tagging a plan onto it where the highway bill would also lift the US ban on oil exports. When that was not agreed to, he stopped the Zadroga Act from being included in the five-year highway legislation. First responders were livid and went to McConnell’s office to find out what happened exactly. “It’s absolutely disgusting that we have to keep on coming back down here and to keep on begging, it’s like we’re beggars,” Anthony Flammia, a retired New York City Police Officer and 9/11 responder said outside McConnell’s office. Flammia and a group of over two dozen 9/11 first responders met with a top staffer for Senator McConnell to ask why the bill was left out of the highway legislation. “He knew the popularity of the bill and when he didn’t get his way this is the one he pulled off the bill,” 9/11 first responder Kenny Specht told reporters of McConnell. “That says something about the type of man we’re dealing with here. He held us hostage and it’s not right, it’s not right.” Eventually, funding was agreed upon and got extended for those five years. During this time, a more permanent solution was supposed to be enacted. This did not happen.

Because of congressional inaction on the matter, 2019 saw a flurry of activity begin when comedian Jon Stewart publicly admonished the inaction of the Senate, and McConnell specifically. Due to the length of time Washington had been dragging their feet, the allocations were about to dry up. When this information (along with Stewart’s responses) was made public, they blew up on every major news outlet. McConnell initially responded that he didn’t understand why everyone was so upset about the situation and then proceeded to make excuses. “Well, many things in Congress happen at the last minute. We never failed to address this issue and we will address it again,” McConnell told Fox News. “I don’t know why he is all bent out of shape. We will take care of the 9/11 compensation fund.”


Fast-forward one year to September 10th, 2020, when McConnell released a statement on the anniversary-eve of the September 11th attacks. In it he made remarks which included statements like, “Nineteen years ago tomorrow, thousands of our fellow Americans were murdered by terrorists. National landmarks were burning. Brave first responders in New York City, Arlington, and Pennsylvania rushed into mortal danger, putting their lives on the line to save strangers.” And, “So as we reflect on this anniversary tomorrow, we’ll remember the thousands of innocent Americans who died that day... and the brave servicemen and women who went on to pay the ultimate sacrifice to do justice and to prevent more attacks.” But it’s the last sentence that holds the key to the hypocrisy of it all. “May we never fail to honor them. And may we never tire of the toughness, vigilance, and persistence it has taken—and will continue to take—to make our pledge, ‘Never Again,’ a reality.”




The US Military and the PACT Act

Before we go too far into what this Act is and the GOP vote on its passage, I need to discuss Colorado Republican Representative Lauren Boebert and her “representation” of the interest of our military heroes.


Some people are going to assume that I’m going to pen some tirade about the level of disrespect that Boebert showed during the 2022 State of the Union Address. I can’t really do that because to be upset, you first have to have your expectations dashed. Ever since the infamous “You lie!” was yelled during the Obama SOTU speech, I’ve accepted that if the President at the time the SOTU is being delivered has the letter “D” next to their name, the GOP membership will act like a five-year-old at church. And like a five-year-old acting up in church, you ignore them and pay attention to the grown-ups; the more you feed into it, the more they see it as attention of some kind. The fact that she doubled down when asked about her lashing out kind of speaks volumes. “The left is pissed because I called out Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan that left 13 of America’s finest in a flag-draped coffin. They are mad because a speech was ‘interrupted’. Ask the families who lost their loved ones how interrupted their lives are now,” the Colorado Republican tweeted. Though I do agree with her in the fact that the Afghanistan withdrawal was a nightmare (link), her complete lack of self-awareness when it comes to her statements versus her actions involving the military is startling. While texting all of the above with a straight face, she voted against a bill that would provide healthcare assistance to 3.5 million veterans after serving overseas in the PACT Act.

Vast, open-air burn pits were used to dispose of trash on US military bases during troops’ deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. After breathing in the toxic fumes every day, thousands of veterans returned home from the wars and developed rare forms of cancers, respiratory conditions, and other illnesses but many found themselves shut out of access to healthcare and disability benefits from the Veteran Affairs (VA). The PACT Act is looking to rectify this. The bill would increase direct benefit payments by $208 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. A provision of new health care benefits, financed through the annual appropriations process, and VA administrative costs could require another $114 billion. When the vote was presented to the House, it passed 256-174, with the bill receiving support from only 34 Republicans. Those conservatives who voted against the bill claimed the cost as the primary concern. Boebert was one of those who voted against it.


It never ceases to amaze me when Republicans complain about wasting money or Democrats spending frivolously. Keep in mind that this is the party that’s allocating millions of tax dollars for pet political projects. Projects like allocating welfare as an incentive to get people to stay home if their job requires them to get a vaccine (link), or trying to “own the libs” by gathering up illegal immigrants and giving them a plane ticket to sanctuary cities (link). But even beyond these examples, you would think that with the level of lip service that the Republican party gives to our national heroes, their reticence to open the pocketbook would at least be based on some reality. But it isn’t.


And for their millions upon millions of followers, it’s working.

The mental gymnastics illustrated by the GOP never ceases to amaze me. To come out and profess a concern for American troops that were put into harm by a president you oppose, and then refuse to help those same troops when they come home with a variety of ailments is nothing short of cold … calloused. But maybe to the conservatives, this is what “love and admiration” for your heroes looks like. That you will do everything possible to fix a problem … well, up to the point of serious action anyway.


 

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