Because Our Ruling Class Cares So Much About our Troops

Thousands of sick Marine veterans and their families might be on the verge of taking a giant leap toward receiving health care for illnesses they suffered from decades of water contamination at Marines Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Legislation that has languished for years was expected to be voted on in the full Senate this week under an across-the-aisle deal between the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. But a South Carolina senator has blocked the bill, saying he worries about fraud.

Happily DeMint blinked and the bill passed the Senate.  But it’s the thought that counts. Better the sick troops should suffer than that some hypothetical person might commit fraud.  In fact, all help for all needy troops who have sacrificed–indeed all care for anybody–should be forbidden because somebody somewhere might cheat.

Me: I think Republican Jim DeMint’s entire fortune he has acquired since his election to the Senate (with the exception of his salary as Senator) should be confiscated by the state under eminent domain and distributed to every Marine family afflicted by the contaminated water.  I think DeMint should also be required to spend the rest of his natural life shining the shoes of each member of each family and then he should be required to kiss their feet and publicly declare, “I am not worthy of the office entrusted to me.  Please forgive my disgraceful disregard and repulsive ingratitude for your service.  I am a swine.”  Then, after his death, give him a state funeral and bury him in a landfill.

  • Sean O

    How quickly YOU forget Mr Shea. I’ll have you know Mr DeMint had a premium yellow magnetic support the troops ribbon on BOTH his Mercedes and his Cadillac Escalade AND his wife’s Lexus RS400LS. How many vehicles with troop ribbons did you have Mr Shea?

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    I guess I’m missing the hook here. It looks like this bill had bipartisan support. Then it looks like DeMint said he had concerns that there could be fraudulent claims because current anti-fraud language might not be good enough to prevent it. Fraud being important because, as in anything, it could hurt the overall effectiveness of a program. He talked it over with those working the bill, and they agreed to put direct anti-fraud language into this in order to avoid it being exploited by those who weren’t hurt by the problem. He then agreed to pass the bill and it passed. I mean, that’s nothing. He apparently supported the bill, too. I say that because he voted yes once they took care of his concern. So where’s the ‘our ruling class’ or ‘DeMint hates our troops’? I’m just not seeing it.

    • MikeTheGeek

      It’s much easier for some to jump to the worst possible conclusions about a human being and his motives than it is to actually take the effort to analyze what really happened.

      looked up the contaminants on Wikipedia (which is, of course, completely reliable :-) The Marines must have been usinng pretty shallow wells for surface contamination to have that large an effect – surprised they didn’t have any epidemics of dysentery or cholera. Always make sure there’s a nice rock layer between the surface and the bottom of your well. Not a guarantee, but the bad stuff will have a harder time making it into your iced tea.

  • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

    Not bad for the list of punishments, Mark, but I would have slashed his Senate salary too. Make not mistake: I am proud I served our country, and especially proud that I did so as a Marine; and I would do it again. But when I was a lance corporal I earned about $12,000 per year, protecting shits like Demint. Pay for junior enlisted Marines stationed at LeJeune in the 50s and 60s was about $40 per month or less. Even a lieutennant woud have earned no more than about $20,000 a year back then, probably less. So yeah, slash his salary.

    In fact, slash all Senators’ and Congresscritters’ salaries, and use the proceeds for better salaries and benefits for servicemen and women, and their families.

  • James Kennedy

    I struggle to understand how overreacting in this very public way is a good catholic witness. Jesus told us to love our enemies, not to wish them buried in Gehenna (which was literally a jewish landfill).

  • Marthe Lépine

    Follows an excerpt and a quote from another blog (which is actually linked on the right of this page – “A Provocative Essay on Law and Order”, Patheos Blogs) that seems quite appropriate to this discussion:
    “Konczal’s deeper objection, as I understand it, is to what Zygmunt Bauman called “the gardening state,” which, like a gardener, uses its power to manage undesirable elements, to exclude, to segregate, etc. He contrasts this vision against one in which an inclusive state provides free, high-quality public services to all:
    “More broadly, policy has been re-designed to be concerned with “moral hazard.” Everything from health care mandates to laws surrounding mortgage and student debts are less about providing goods broadly to citizens than making sure nobody is shirking or behaving irresponsibly.”

  • John

    Mark,
    Is it safe to assume that you have the same level of knowledge about this issue as you do about most of the others about which you reflexively post a extremely hostile and simplistic condemnation of some actor in the controversy?

    I’m not saying this is the case, but is it just possible that DeMint had some other object in mind than screwing “the troops”?

    Any bets on when the “mea culpa” post on this one will come out?

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    Given the amount of money all Congressmen and women accept, they shouldn’t receive ANY salary. At all. What they should do is be forced to wear shirts, jackets, and caps with the logos of their sponsors, much like Nascar racers do.

    Of course, doing that would shatter the illusion that our Congress gives a flying flip about the will of the people or justice. They are there to do as they are told by their masters. Nothing more.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      Fair enough. Now, what exactly was wrong with how this particular bill was handled?

  • j. blum

    Congress is concerned about fraud save of course when the likelihood of fraud is actually high, a likelihood which strongly corresponds with the number of lobbyists in the fraudster’s pay.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      So I guess what folks are saying is that we don’t need an actual story to prove whatever about politicians, either in general or specific individuals. Just put a story about anything, and let the ‘government suck, pols are stupid and evil, and Washington is corrupt’ comments fly? Forgive me for noticing, but that seems to be the type of behavior that outlets like talk radio are accused of, and subsequently condemned for.

  • Disgusted in DC

    As it so happens, I lived in Camp LeJeune during the period of time during the tainted water. I strongly believe that those who were injured by tainted water, especially Marine Corps wives and children, ought to be compensated by the federal government for their injuries. I am also not a fan of the DeMint political machine which, in my view, was one of the causes of the totally unnecessary debt limit crisis last year. On the other hand, it is not clear to me what DeMint did that was so despicable other than requesting an anti-fraud provision that, at least on the surface, is not unlike anti-fraud provisions contained in other federal compensation schemes. I tiink we need more information before condemning him as the World’s Greatest Legislative Monster.

    • Patrick

      “…was one of the causes of the totally unnecessary debt limit crisis last year.”

      Well then it sounds as if Jim DeMint has a record of trying to keep costs down, and might not be motivated by animus toward Marines. Which means we should *really* take the time to be informed before rushing to confiscate his property and bury him in a landfill.

      • Sean O

        Nothing wrong with fighting fraud. But is this where the real waste and abuse lies, a couple of soldiers getting medical care or payouts that may not be absolutely necessary?

        I’ll bet DeMint never worried his ass about trillions in no strings bailout money for Wall St brokerages and banks. What about all the NO BID contacts in Iraq, disappearing millions, fraudulent overcharges by private sector contractors, hell Defense spending in general? Don’t remember DeMint & his ilk raising fraud concerns when millions & billions WERE & ARE being wasted.

        No. But direct spending on military grunts and their families, well we can’t be too careful or stingy on this kind of spending. But of course Defense contractors make campaign donations while military grunts don’t. That’s all you really need to know about DeMint and his ilk—corporate lapdogs and errand boys.

        • John

          “I’ll bet DeMint never worried his ass about trillions in no strings bailout money for Wall St brokerages and banks. ”

          I’ll take that bet–especially since a basic Google search will reveal that in 2008 DeMint was one of only 25 Senators to vote against the Economic Stabilization Act which, among other things, established the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

          At the time this was viewed by all the people who know everything as essential to fixing the economy. Current views are more nuanced, to say the least.

          While we’re on the subject, it is worth noting that DeMint is the author of a 2007 change to senate rules that requires Senators to make public their earmarks within 48 hours and strongly supported a change that would make it harder for members to steer defense contracts to friendly companies.

          But it’s a lucky thing you know everything about the man–otherwise you might lose that bet.

          • Sean O

            Hey John

            I’m going to do a bit of research on mr DeMint. My general unstudied impression is that he is an ass. I’m guessing he has more in common with the odious Tom DeLay than the mr smith who went to Washington. I’m a gambler and may still win my bet.

            Sean

            • John

              Sean,

              My goal here is not necessarily to defend DeMint (with whom I disagree on several issues) but to point out that in order to have a meaningful discussion about politics or policy you need to have done that bit of research before you shoot your mouth off.

              Obviously, our political system is broken but the cynical, assumption-based style of many people commenting here is a huge part of the problem. Many people here think they aren’t knee-jerk tribalists merely because they belong to some third or forth minor tribe. That’s not being independent it’s being lazy in a more original way than most.

  • Observer

    Instead of immediate legislation, why didn’t they simply compensate the families? If the water was tainted, how long did they wait and get bottled water? If new equipment, plumbing, and source of water was needed, then a project should had been designed and put into affect for a clean, healthy, and reliable water supply. Reminds me of the silly S*bucks worker who refused to give firemen bottled water because they needed to pay for it (which, by the way, was a personal choice of the person working and doesn’t reflect the company.) When you have an immediate problem, you do something immediately. Afterwards, you legislate and ensure the prior engagement fell within law. And, later, you take care of falling outside of law in the proper manner which they ought to be handled.

  • http://www.theleenmachine.blogspot.com KML

    As a side note, anyone interested in the welfare of our troops needs to read the Time cover story this week:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2119337,00.html

    Heartbreaking.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      It is heartbreaking.

  • James

    Scr*w that DeMint. My father was stationed at Camp Lejeune, and he had two results from that time: deafness in both ears from all the noise damage to his ear drums, and stage-four kidney cancer from the benzene-laced water supply.

    He had to fight for 3 years to get any sort of compensation for the cancer that he was very lucky to survive. They purposely stretch out the process so more veterans die before the cases are settled. And what he got is a couple of hundred bucks a month—only when he currently has cancer does he get the full compensation. So he’ll have to wait until it comes back first! Unfortunately he’s only got one kidney left.

  • Jonathan Carpenter

    If you want to understand why people like Jim Demint and others act the way they do read the following from Peter Schweizer.
    http://peterschweizer.com/wordpress/?page_id=30

  • sahale93

    Badmouthing other people, even potentially corrupt lawmakers without all the facts is not a Christian practice. It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles, but what comes out of it…

  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

    I do not know about this issue except for the articles linked to your story. A procedural hold resulting in discussion and the agreement of the sponsors of the bill to insert the language requested which then passes by unanimous consent is exactly how the legislative process is supposed to work. Senators are supposed to stand up and get in the way of overwhelmingly popular bills and delay them just enough so that they can be improved. By the datelines of the two articles (both July 18) it seems as if the DeMint delay actually caused a zero day delay in relief for those affected by the water problem. The DeMint requested change was added to the bill and brought this relief bill in line with all the other military relief bills in terms of anti-fraud provisions.

    So either the anti-fraud provisions on all those other relief bills are unjust, in which case DeMint deserves condemnation and we’ve got a bigger problem on our hands as we should be campaigning to adjust *all* these relief bills or the anti-fraud provisions are just and DeMint’s insistence on a change that did not delay relief was justified and you owe an apology.

    So which is it?

  • Julianne Wiley

    Mark, in view of my own habitual sinful passions, I find I have to remind myself daily that rash judgment, slander and detraction are still offenses against justice and charity. And serious ones: these are sins that can kill.

    I’m going to write that on a post-it note and stick it to my monitor. You may want to consider this.


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