Happy Memorial Day! Your Chickenhawk Congressman Loves the War & Hates the Troops.

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There’s just no way around it, no polite way to put it: If you live in Orange County and you’re not in Loretta’s district, then your Congressman is a chickenhawk* (that is, a politician who loves to send others off to war but avoided service when his country called him) who has voted and continues to vote in favor of continuing the war in Iraq while also voting against veterans’ needs.

Or to be more specific, last week Gary Miller, John Campbell, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher (pictured above) voted against the long-overdue expansion of veterans’ educational benefits known as the GI Bill of 2008. [Campbell actually skipped the vote, but look below at his record on vets’ issues and guess how he would have voted.] The bill still passed, 266-166, but not by enough votes to overcome a promised veto from the King of All Chickenhawks, President George W. Bush; and, barring some sudden unheard-of midlife discovery of a conscience, your chickenhawk Congressmen will not be helping to override that veto (even though the Senate has just passed the same bill by a much larger margin.)

The GI Bill of 2008

This admirable and necessary bill will enable our brave veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to attend a 4-year college for free, something the current GI Bill, signed into law by FDR 68 years ago, no longer manages at today’s tuition costs. After all the dangers, horrors and abuse our government has put these young men and women through, and given how hard it has been for veterans of harrowing guerrilla wars to re-adjust to society, the least America owes them is a four-year education, wouldn’t you say? The website devoted to this bill makes some other excellent points:

…Today’s veterans deserve a real reintegration program to help adjust to the civilian world. At the same time, a renewed GI Bill is a practical answer to the military’s troop shortage. Despite investing $4 billion in recruiting annually, the military has had serious problems recruiting high-caliber personnel. The Pentagon has responded by lowering age, education, and aptitude standards for new recruits, as well as upping the number of recruiters and increasing enlistment bonuses. These stopgap measures will not address long-term problems with recruiting, especially as the overall size of the armed forces is expanded.

Rather than continuing to spend billions in bonuses for lower-standard enlistees, increasing GI Bill benefits would encourage high-aptitude young people to join the military. The GI Bill is the military’s single most effective recruitment tool: the number-one reason civilians join the military is to get money for college. As our military recovers and resets in the coming years, an expanded GI Bill will play a crucial role in ensuring that our military remains the strongest and most advanced in the world.

But your Chickenhawk Congressmen don’t see it the same way. For one thing it is “too expensive” – as in 52 billion over ten years – this from guys who have been signing over blank checks for over five years to Bush and Cheney for unimaginable war profiteering, for an unnecessary war which at this point is going to cost us 3 TRILLION. That is, Three Thousand Billion. Also they fear troop levels will decline further as soldiers and marines learn they can leave after one tour, go home and get a decent education. Well hey, I say, that’s okay! We’re going to end this war next year anyway. Aw, shucks, where are my manners!? It’s time to meet your Chickenhawk Congressmen who love the war and hate the troops:

Ed Royce, 40th District (Fullerton…)

MILITARY SERVICE: Born in 1951, Royce’s bio lists no military service; we are still researching how he avoided Vietnam and will update when we find out.
SUPPORT OF IRAQ WAR: Cautiously critical of it now, but voted to start it and has consistently voted to continue it; 14% rating from Peace Action and 7% rating from Council for a Livable World.
SUPPORT OF VETERANS: mediocre; the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave him a “C” for his votes in 2006, and Disabled American Veterans gave him an average 22% voting record in the last three years they have listed.
HIS OPPONENT: The quiet anti-war progressive Christina Avalos.

Dana Rohrabacher, 46th District (Huntington Beach…)

MILITARY SERVICE: Well, everybody knows that Dana avoided the draft with a “bad hip,” and spent the 70’s surfing! Still he thought the Vietnam War was a great idea and we should have stayed there longer.
SUPPORT OF IRAQ WAR: As I’ve shown earlier, he was one of the war’s earliest and shrillest cheerleaders, has voted consistently to continue it, and is only now, in terror of Debbie Cook and looking like a little boy trying to hide the mess he made, trying to pose as a war critic.
SUPPORT OF VETERANS: Pretty halfhearted. His low ratings are based on his votes against increases in VA funding; in his typical cockamamie “libertarian” way, his solution is to privatize more and more of the system, When we locals think of Dana and vets we think of his ill-tempered Irish aide Kathleen Hollingsworth (with whom many of us from every party have had unpleasant dealings) and her unsuccessful charge of assault against elderly PTSD Navy Seal Jack Frost for grabbing his files from her hands and trying to leave the office. Since that day they keep Dana’s office locked, and answer visitors tremulously through an intercom.
HIS OPPONENT: The marvelous Debbie Cook, who has signed on to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, which contains generous provisions for veterans; Debbie’s two brothers served in the military. (Also notable: Green Party challenger and anti-war stalwart Tom Lash was a Navy corpsman.)

John Campbell, 48th District (Irvine…)

MILITARY SERVICE: Campbell graduated from high school in 1972, three years before the Vietnam draft ended. Was he just lucky or did he do something to avoid it? Again, we are looking into that. He sure didn’t volunteer though.
SUPPORT OF IRAQ WAR: Constant, since slithering into Chris Cox’s seat in ’06 and leaving his state senate seat for slimy Tom Harman to slither into. Support of this disastrous war goes hand-in-hand with denial and dishonesty, and last year Campbell claimed that “Iraq is safer than Washington DC.”
SUPPORT OF VETERANS: Abysmal. The vet groups that gave Ed and Gary a C gave John an F, and last year he notoriously defended his vote against veterans’ health benefits by claiming “Veterans commit fraud!”
HIS OPPONENT: The mighty Steve Young, whose constant hammering on Campbell for his abuse of veterans may have driven him to avoid the vote on this bill. Still no cookie, John.

Gary Miller, 42nd District (Brea, Mission Viejo…)

MILITARY SERVICE: * Asterisk here: We may not be able to call Dirty Gary a chickenhawk, as some of his online bios claim that he was in the Army in 1967, although other bios do not make that claim. On reflection, this seemed odd and suspicious – only one year or less would be highly unusual during Vietnam, and he has never spoken about his time in the military that we can determine. His military record is now being researched by both the Shepston and Chau camps, and I CALL DIBS on that bombshell! Dishonorable discharge? Or pure fabrication? Either way, could be the final blow for old Dirty Gary! Keep checking back here.
SUPPORT OF IRAQ WAR: Constant. Quote from last year’s “surge”-fest: “As we cannot – and must not – turn back, we need a fresh approach to move forward. The President’s plan… is the only plan that provides for a way forward in Iraq. While the majority party proposes to stand still and do nothing, the President’s plan aims to allow American forces to stand down as the Iraqi people stand up. For us in Congress, it is not our job to become involved in the tactical decisions that will lead to success in our mission…”
SUPPORT OF VETERANS: Similar to Royce, mediocre (C’s, 20%’s, etc.)
HIS OPPONENT: Either the estimable Ed Chau, or my friend Ron Shepston who manned missile sites for the Air Force during four long years of the 60’s, who has also signed onto the same Responsible Plan as Debbie Cook.

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As you can see this post will be subject to frequent interesting updates in the near future, but we needed to get it out today so you could enjoy the wonderful Photoshop by my mystery Photoshop wizard friend, and have a Great Memorial Day! Let’s bring the troops home!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.