This article was originally published at Reader Supported News
Dear Senator McCain,
What would you call a war veteran who answers a veteran’s question about providing more jobs to veterans by saying it’s his “highest priority,” only to vote against more jobs for veterans when he’s back in Washington? What would you call a veteran who was tortured, survived miraculously, got elected to the U.S. Senate, sent more young men to die in a foreign war, voted to deny them jobs and benefits, and yet demands the arrest and full prosecution of those who exercise the constitutional rights he supposedly fought for? To borrow phrasing from you, Senator, I would call you low-life scum.
The Code PINK protesters you called “low-life scum” during a Senate hearing this week are Americans exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, which you swore an oath to defend both as a naval officer and as a member of Congress. These protesters were also within their right to make a citizens’ arrest against someone who has committed a felony – in this case, war crimes. It’s critical for you to understand why these protesters are patriotic Americans and not “low-life scum,” as you called them.
When Henry Kissinger, whom you just vociferously defended from the dais, authorized the secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia in 1969 and 1970, his actions killed over 40,000 people, including civilians who had nothing to do with the Vietnam War. Kissinger has said he did so to stop North Vietnamese troops from using Cambodia as a staging ground. However, research has shown that all Kissinger’s bombing campaign did was pave the way for the brutal Khmer Rouge to take over Cambodia, then use the B-52 bombings as propaganda to justify their cause, leading to more death and destruction. Kissinger illegally bombed a sovereign nation that we never officially declared war on, destabilized its government, and allowed a violent, autocratic regime to seize power. If that isn’t a felony, I don’t know what is.
Washington D.C. statute allows for citizens’ arrests in the case of a felony. And in Code PINK’s case, war crimes are certainly a felony offense. When you called on the capitol police, it should’ve been to arrest Kissinger, not Code PINK activists. But your classless outburst during that hearing is indicative of the allegiances you hold, and the longstanding hypocrisy of your entire Congressional career.
Despite going through a war firsthand, and going on record saying “war is wretched beyond description,” you are one of the loudest voices consistently in favor of going to war with anyone at the drop of a hat. You bragged to a conservative radio host that nobody supported President Bush’s war in Iraq more than you. You were the first member of the Senate to call for airstrikes on Syria. You’ve openly said you’d like to keep troops in Iraq for 100 years. You even made a joke about bombing Iran at a campaign rally. As a Vietnam veteran, haven’t you had enough war for one lifetime?
Speaking of veterans, I would think that someone who has personally experienced the worst imaginable hell of war would be the first one to stand up for veterans when given the chance. But you, Senator McCain, have turned your back repeatedly on America’s veterans when they asked for even the most concrete necessities.
When the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) urged you to pass the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits & Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014, you voted against even bringing it to the floor for debate, despite the fact that several of your Republican colleagues supported it. You claim to support better healthcare for veterans, and that bill would’ve provided that care by, among other things, expanding the Comprehensive Caregiver Assistance Program, and advanced veterans’ retirement payments even in the event of a government shutdown. As a fellow veteran who bears permanent scars of war, how could you deny your brothers and sisters at the PVA this vote?
After you came home from Vietnam, where you endured years of cruel imprisonment, solitary confinement, and torture, where would you be if you didn’t have for a father a four-star admiral who commanded all U.S. forces in Vietnam? Unlike you, many of the veterans who are lucky enough to come back from the wars you eagerly sent them off to don’t have wealthy, highly-connected families to support them when they return stateside. Almost 50,000 veterans today are struggling to survive on the streets despite serving their country. Yet when you were given multiple opportunities to show your commitment to homeless veterans, you did nothing.
When the House of Representatives passed the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which would have funded the transition for veterans to go from wandering the streets to having a roof over their head, you allowed the bill to die, and said nothing. You even allowed your party to kill the Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans with Children Act of 2009, which would have provided homes for single mothers who served their countries with distinction in the military. But as bad as your inaction was on those bills, it still wasn’t your biggest slight to America’s veterans.
At the 2012 Republican National Convention, Meg Lanker-Simons, a veteran and journalist, asked you about providing more jobs to veterans, 14 percent of whom are unemployed. You responded, to her face, that you were going to “try to find more and better ways to hire veterans,” that chronic unemployment of veterans was a “national disgrace,” and that making more jobs available to veterans was your “highest priority.” But just a month later, when the Senate was voting on the Veterans Job Corps Bill, which would’ve paired veterans up with job opportunities based on their skill sets, you mocked the idea before voting it down. While your reason was that the $1 billion cost was too high, the bill would have paid for itself by $1 billion of new revenue for the office of Veterans’ Affairs. So, Mr. McCain, not only are you a hypocrite, but a liar as well. If you didn’t run for elected office to serve your fellow veterans, why did you run in the first place?
With a net worth of over $10 million, you are one of the richest members of Congress. And as everyone learned in 2008, you own 8 properties, making you one of the wealthiest 0.01 percent of Americans. During your Congressional career, you voted 19 times against increasing the minimum wage, yet in 2010, you voted to extend George W. Bush’s tax cut package. That was a complete 180 from your earlier position against it, in which you rightly called it “generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower and middle-income taxpayers.” You also voted for a $700 billion bailout of the big banks that crashed our economy in 2008. Those same banks gave you almost $2 million in campaign and leadership PAC donations between 2005 and 2010, including over $50,000 from bailout king Goldman Sachs. If someone who didn’t know any better took a look at that data, they would think you’re only in office to serve yourself.
You’ve been in Washington long enough, Senator McCain, and you’ve done enough damage to veterans and working people. Either resign now with some semblance of dignity, or prepare to be thrown out of office in 2016.