As a firm believer that the government is our servant not our master few things set me off more than an elected official using the power of their position to bully someone. Yesterday that happened at a hearing on Capitol Hill when Tammy Duckworth (D-Il) unloaded on a private businessman over his VA awarded disability.
The businessman, Braulio Castillo, is the president and CEO of Strong Castle Inc., is the subject of concern by Darrell Issa's House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. Issa feels that Castillo gamed a particular contracting category, the SBA HUBZone, to strike gold at the IRS. The IRS IG disagrees. I don't know and really don't care. These special carve-outs in contracting laws are wrong on every conceivable level, other than creating a feel good moment for the Congress, and one can no more be shocked, surprised, and upset when they are manipulated than one should be shocked, surprised, and upset when you are hit by a car when walking across the freeway. Maybe he gamed the system, maybe he defrauded the system, maybe he played the rules straight. I'm not only agnostic on that, I am completely uninterested in the answer.
If that had been what caused the juvenile outburst from Duckworth, it wouldn't have bothered me. I understand political theater as well as the next guy.
But Castillo's actions that brought him before the committee were not what set Duckworth into her rage-boy routine... something she hasn't demonstrated against the parade of Obama IRS officials pleading the Fifth before this same committee. No, what got her mad was that Duckworth took umbrage at the fact that Mr. Castillo has a VA awarded service connected disability rating of 30%.
Stipulated: the VA system is broken. Stipulated: an industry exists to help veterans get a VA awarded service connected disability rating. Stipulated: the military services are a part of that system. Regardless of what "Doctor" Duckworth might think of Mr. Castillo's injuries, the facts are that he applied for the disability rating and the VA granted him that rating. She doesn't get a vote on it and no one should lionize her for her asshattery.
The fact that Duckworth was more unlucky than Castillo and doesn't like the fact that he doesn't look sufficiently injured to gain her respect is irrelevant. I wonder how she would treat someone suffering from PTSD?
I've been stunned to see people I generally respect applauding a member of Congress for heaping invective upon a private citizen who is not given the opportunity to respond without creating legal difficulties for himself. It doesn't take a large person to hector a defenseless witness for the benefit of the cameras. To the contrary, it takes a small, petty, and vindictive person to abuse their position of power.
Duckworth's talent is completely defined by her combat injuries. She is a political hack of the worst sort. She has coasted from obscurity to a House seat by toeing the Democrat party line and milking her injuries for all they are worth. Her supporters, like those of the unlamented Max Cleland, paint her opponents as anti-veteran simply because she is a disabled veteran. She is the poster child for how to use a service connected disability to mask your underlying mediocrity while playing the victim when challenged on policy matters.
Members of Congress are not our masters. They have no right to treat any American the way Duckworth treated Mr. Castillo.