Madison Cawthorn was too busy virtue signaling to do his job

This is the first time I learned about the Burn Pits problem.

During the live recorded meeting, which ran close to three hours, politicians listened to veteran advocacy groups discuss how uniformed military personnel have been exposed to dangerous toxins when ordered to stand by burn pits—an ill-conceived method of burning trash at military sites in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

That grimy duty usually fell to low-ranking soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, some of whom developed heart, lung, and digestive ailments after hours of standing over smoke from the burning plastics, rubber, and paper envelopes from families back home.

That’s bad on a couple of levels: bad for the environment, bad for the people living there, bad and wasteful of resources. I can see why it’s an important issue, and I didn’t even listen to the testimony, but I hadn’t heard anything about it before. That I now have we can thank Madison Cawthorn for being such a colossal, posturing asshole, so I guess his bad behavior did one good thing. He was on the committee, and instead of paying close attention, he used that time to…play with his gun? I guess he was bored. Other members of the panel noticed how little attention he paid to a life-or-death issue for veterans.

Rosie Lopez Torres, the cofounder of Burn Pits 360, told The Daily Beast that she did not notice that Cawthorn was working on his gun. She only recalled that he seemed distracted at times. But when she saw the picture of what he was doing, she was livid.

“Oh wow,” she said. “That is insane. Total disregard and disrespect to America’s war fighters. He was so bored with the topic. Those that are sick and dying and the widows in his district should see how much he cares about the issue.”

Don’t worry. Cawthorn has an excuse.

The Daily Beast asked Cawthorn’s office if the congressman thought this an appropriate time to clean his firearm. His communications director, Luke Ball, responded: “What could possibly be more patriotic than guns and veterans?”

That’s a problem right there, that anyone thinks guns are “patriotic”.

I kinda think dedicated civil service is more patriotic than guns.


  1. HidariMak says

    It’s not just the claim that guns are patriotic, it’s that veterans aren’t even worth considering by comparison. “What could be more patriotic than guns and… whatever the hell he was ignoring?”

  2. wzrd1 says

    Burn pits, the go-to for military waste disposal. Paper goods, including paper plates from the chow hole, burn pit. Plastics, burn pit. Electronic devices, burn pit. Vehicle components with carc paint (Chemical Agent Resistant Coating) and known carcinogen containing, burn pit. Useless second lieutenant, retained for mine detection duty…
    Pretty much everything, even lithium batteries went into burn pits.
    The cancer rate is quite high, mysteriously enough…

    From what I gathered, Cawthorn was at home and teleconferencing into the meeting and testimony, so he can’t take heat over a firearm outside of his office (the only location authorized by law). Pity that he unloaded it before playing with the trigger.
    Still, he said he was going to go to the Naval Academy, given their rejection before his accident, likely he was invited to a party there…

    Still, we veterans are well used to “Veterans are #1”, as we see the third digit being raised to indicate our number. We even have a saying, “When the revolt comes, the VA will go against the wall right after Congress”.
    Although, to be honest, I think that entire bit would be a dreadful waste of ammunition. Perhaps instead, immersion in CARC paint…

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    Cawfield and other right-wingers view patriotism the same way they view their much-touted Christianity: A “Real” Patriotism is by faith alone, not works. For him it is simply enough to love and embrace the idea and ideology of the jingoistic, star-spangled, white Christian nationalist, guns-guts-and-glory America that should be to label himself a “patriot.” Those who want government to do something more than preserve Cawfield’s Americana are to be viewed with suspicion while those who request government assistance are objects of disgust.

  4. says

    If you click through to the story you’ll see in the zoom picture that Jon Stewart is one of the witnesses. I assume that that is because of all the work he did supporting the firefighters from 9/11 in getting assistance (financial and medical). The 9/11 debris was pretty similar to the burn pits, if you think about it.

  5. PaulBC says

    This is why I literally have no appetite for satire anymore. It hit me when a friend was recommending Don’t Look Up. I just thought, why would I need to watch that? Isn’t there something fun I could watch that makes me forget how crappy human beings can be? Cawthorn’s behavior would fit right into Dr. Strangelove, which I enjoyed back when I liked satire. There’s no way to make these people more ridiculous or more malicious.

  6. Doc Bill says

    A work mate of mine was in the Air Force and did a couple of tours in Iraq. He was around the burn pits a lot. They would dump a truck load of junk into a pit, spray it with fuel and torch it with flares. It would burn for days and the smoke went everywhere.

    My work mate took early early retirement, basically disability, before he was 50 and has spent the past ten years in and out of the VA hospital. I think he has his own parking spot. He’s got more things wrong with him than a New York nightclub described by Stefon. Non-specific screwed-up human machine. He’s had so many CAT scans that he’s on a diet of Whiskas. I’ve seen a picture of him when he was a young airman and what they did to him is nothing short of a crime.

  7. davidc1 says

    It seems the military are not content with leaving depleted uranium from 30mm cannon shells all over Iraqi and Afghanistan and elsewhere.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    … he used that time to…play with his gun?

    Why does this irresistibly remind me of Jeffrey Toobin?

  9. PaulBC says

    davidc1@13 “What could possibly be more patriotic than …” asserting the right to shit all over the planet.

  10. unclefrogy says

    it is simply enough to love and embrace the idea and ideology of the jingoistic, star-spangled, white Christian nationalist, guns-guts-and-glory America that should be to label himself a “patriot.

    yes that is what conservative is and very clearly stated.
    goes the same with much of conservative christianity as well they may know the words but they do not live the life.

    burn pits, while there is a case to be made for burn pits and security, there is no excuse for a modern military that is equipped and capable of fighting in any front including post atomic weapon use and is capable of using and defending against chemical agents for exposing their own personal needlessly to any harmful agents or situation with out the issuing and use of the already existing protective gear
    they manage the burn pits like 19th century dirt farmers it is ridiculous

  11. DonDueed says

    ahcuah @9: Jon Stewart has been an outspoken critic of the VA since the aftermath of the first Gulf War. It was a recurring theme on The Daily Show when he hosted it.

  12. rrutis1 says

    While I understand the hate for the VA, that hatred is misplaced. The people who fund the VA (congress) have the same attitude about it as Amtrack and the Post Office, they fund it just enough to keep it stumbling along (and they do good work in spite of this) to give the appearance of care for the Vets. We all know this but it bears repeating.

    Admittedly I have a soft spot for the VA. When my dad was dying of cancer it got to the point where my mom could not take care of him anymore and there were no more treatment options so he went to the VA for hospice. The building itself was rundown but the people running the show inside did their absolute best to make my dad’s last days comfortable and I am glad for the care he got.

  13. Walter Solomon says

    I first learned of burn pits when workers at the Groom Lake facility popularly known as “Area 51” sued the US government for health problems sustained from burn pits used there. This was nearly 29 years ago. It seems they still use burn pits.

  14. PaulBC says

    Walter Solomon@23 I can comprehend some rationale behind using burn pits in a war zone, though it ought to count as a war crime (or misdemeanor if there is such a thing) since it causes damage with no strategic purpose. A burn pit in a permanent facility has no justification whatsoever except that the military is not subject to environmental regulation. That’s an outrage.

  15. wzrd1 says

    @rrutis1, it’s a joke borne out of frustration. We know intimately well how Congress hobbled the VA and assorted other services. It’s all part of their war on entitlements, entitlements better described for what they are: rights.
    Hell, for the first year or so of our recent wars, Congress, knowing full well we’d be sending new veterans to the VA, still cut the budget.

  16. Walter Solomon says

    PaulBC @24
    If you’ve seen the documentary Mann vs. Ford and a few others, it would seem it isn’t just the military that’s exempt from environmental regulation. Quite a few large corporations are as well.