There's a great deal of news today about the progressive perspective on national security, something that goes after the GOP in an area in which their performance has been catastrophic. Yet, with the help of their corporate media allies they have, to a great extent, successfully persuaded the American people that they are the "national security party," and that without them... we're all going to die. The reality, which combines their cluelessness about the world, their uncontrollable greed and selfishness, and their general incompetence, is that the GOP is the anti-national security party.
Something else that would probably surprise many victims of Republican propaganda is that they have also been horrible for our veterans and horrible for our active duty military personnel. Let's look at the far right extremist senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe. Most folks just know him as a Climate Change Denier but that barely scratches the surface of what's wrong with Inhofe. For someone who is so aggressively pro-war, he's incredibly anti-veteran and anti-service member. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America looked at his voting record and gave him a D-. On October 5, 2005 his deciding vote against the bipartisan Health Care for Veterans Amendment killed a bill that had passed in the House 398 to 19. The following month Chuck Grassley and Barbara Boxer co-sponsored a bill to get desperately needed funds for counseling, mental health, and rehabilitation services for veterans diagnosed with mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, or substance abuse. Again, Inhofe voted against our military veterans. That's been his pattern, a pattern that includes outrageous tax cuts for millionaires while short-changing vets.
But vets aren't the only people Inhofe has consistently short-changed. His voting record on active duty military personnel is abysmal-- the worst in the entire U.S. Senate. Of the 14 roll calls involving the welfare of our fighting men and women since May, 2003, Inhofe has voted against them a breathtaking 14 times.
He voted against funding for troops in the field including armored vehicles (twice) and in 2003, Inhofe was one of only three Senators to vote against requiring that federal employees who take leave without pay to serve in the National Guard be reimbursed for the difference between their salary and the pay and allowances they receive while on duty. He also voted several times against body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He certainly cares more about making sure corporate donors get fat tax deductions than the state of the equipment our soldiers in the field are using. Inhofe voted against instructing conferees on the tax reconciliation bill to include funding to strengthen the military instead of extending capital gains and dividends tax cuts for the wealthy. Sen. Reed (D-RI), who sponsored the motion, asked that $50 million be spent to repair military equipment, arguing, "Because they depend upon this equipment for their lives, we can't tolerate equipment that won't operate properly." Inhofe can tolerate it and voted no.
He voted in July, 2007 against the Hagel amendment to H.R. 1585, to limit the length of deployment of members of the Armed Forces in Iraq. The amendment sought to implement fair deployment practices so that when soldiers serve 15 months in Iraq, they are assured of spending the next 15 months at home. At the same time he has consistently voted against health care for the troops and their families, against pay protection for reservists, and against an increase in the death gratuity payments (now $12,000) for the families of military personnel killed in battle. And on top of all that Inhofe has also voted consistently against repealing the heinous "disabled veterans tax," which penalizes disabled veterans who receive both disability pay and retired pay. Tax cuts for millionaires; always count on Inhofe. Tax cuts for disabled vets; they need to look elsewhere.
Why single out Inhofe, you ask? He's the epitome of what it is to be a Bush rubber stamp senator-- and he's up for re-election in 8 months-- and in a state where they take the welfare of our troops and veterans very, very seriously. The Democrat running against him, Andrew Rice, isn't just a decent red state Democrat who will usually vote better than an extremist like Inhofe. Rice lost his brother in the World Trade Center bombing on 9/11 and, unlike Inhofe, he does take national security seriously. As a state Senator, Rice has a record as someone who brings all sides together to solve problems, the opposite of Inhofe's brittle, ultra-partisan behavior. If you'd like to get to know him better, check out his recent live blog sessions at Firedoglake, his introduction, last October, and a recent special session on health care. Or just go to the Blue America page and make a $5 or $10 contribution that will help replace someone who thinks pro-military is equivalent to funding defense contractors and attacking strange countries, with Andrew Rice, someone who is working to solve the mess 7 years of the Bush Regime has left us with.