Senate Majority Leader and Zombie Voldemort, Mitch McConnell, went viral this weekend after a close friend of legendary Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings refused to shake the hand of He Who Should Not Be Named.
Bobby Rankin, a longtime friend of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), served as a pallbearer at Cummings’ memorial service on Thursday. At the end of the service, cameras caught Rankin shaking hands in the VIP section of the funeral as he exited. After embracing Rep John Lewis (D-Ga.), Rankin issued small servings of dap to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and seemed to intentionally skip McConnell before acknowledging Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Some speculated that Rankin’s snub was related to McConnell’s history of opposing everything Cummings stood for. Others posited that Rankin didn’t know McConnell was a Kentucky senator and—after looking at McConnell’s face—may have been offended that someone came to Cummings’ funeral wearing a mask that looked like E.T. died and became a White Walker. But the story behind Rankin’s diss is even more disturbing and serves as an example of how McConnell has obstructed progress at every turn.
According to the Washington Post, Rankin’s brother, Jerry, died last year after an extended battle with cancer. The cancer was reportedly caused by contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Jerry was stationed while serving in the Marines. Rankin said McConnell is part of the reason his brother didn’t receive his veterans’ benefits before he died.
“When I saw Mitch McConnell, all I saw was my brother’s face,” said Rankin.
The Washington Post reports:
“Elijah Cummings reached across party lines trying to help my brother get his military benefits, and Mitch McConnell was one of the persons he reached out to,” Rankin said.
McConnell did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Rankin’s claims.
Rankin said his brother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that causes malignant cells to accumulate in a person’s bone marrow, more than a decade ago, after leaving the Marines. Multiple myeloma is one of 15 health conditions linked to Camp Lejeune’s tainted drinking water, which contained industrial solvents, benzene and other chemicals for roughly 30 years beginning in the 1950s, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who were exposed to the water and later developed any of the conditions can qualify for benefits, including free health care and disability compensation, VA said.
On Thursday, Rankin said his brother was already on his mind when he spotted McConnell, noting that Friday marked the anniversary of Jerry’s death. Rankin wasn’t clear about exactly why his brother didn’t receive VA benefits or McConnell’s precise role in Jerry’s battle to get them after his cancer returned in 2016.
Rankin’s story is part of one of the most egregious examples of dereliction of duty in history. It relates to a decades-long scandal where the government has denied benefits to the victims of the largest environmental scandals in the world. Worst of all, politicians have repeatedly refused to compensate the veterans who were affected while serving their country.
Beginning in the 1950s, dry-cleaning solvents, industrial waste and military gasoline were either buried in the ground or dumped at a chemical waste facility near Camp Lejeune. The biggest contaminant was benzene, a colorless, odorless, flammable liquid that just happens to be a deadly cancer-causing agent, according to the American Cancer Society and National Institutes of Health.
For decades, benzene and other chemicals leaked into Camp Lejeune’s soil, contaminating the drinking water, food and even the rain. The problem wasn’t discovered until 1985. The Associated Press reported on it in 1992. A military contractor reported on it again in 1994. But U.S. military leaders buried those reports until 2010 when the AP reported that the “Marine Corps had been warned nearly a decade earlier about the dangerously high levels of benzene, which was traced to massive leaks from fuel tanks at the base on the North Carolina coast.”
A subsequent investigation found that cancer deaths were 10 percent higher at the base. Workers at Lejeune had higher risks for kidney cancer, leukemia, prostate cancer, rectal cancer, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry report, it was the largest water contamination in U.S. history.
In 2012, Barack Obama signed the Ensminger Act, to provide healthcare for the Marines affected by the tainted tap water. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) breezed through the House and Senate. There was just one problem, though; the law didn’t provide the victims with survivor benefits or disability.
So in 2014, Sen. Bernie Sanders sponsored a bill that would use the unspent funds from the Iraq war to open new facilities, boost healthcare, and offer education and increase job training benefits for military veterans, according to the Associated Press. Even though McConnell wasn’t the Senate majority leader at the time, he used an arcane procedural move to prevent a full vote on the legislation.
He said the proposal increased the number of people eligible for benefits, which would overburden the VA and cost too much. Most of the victims thought the issue was finally settled in 2017…until the Navy announced that they would still deny all claims related to the contaminated water.
Most of the soldiers and civilians who worked on the base still haven’t received compensation for decades of poisoning. Congress has legislation in process to address the issue but Skopos Labs’ legislation experts give it a 2 percent chance of being signed.
“I could not put my hands in the man’s hand who refused to help somebody who served his country,” Rankin told the Post. “I couldn’t do it, because I was thinking about my brother.”
I guess Rankin has no sympathy for the devil.