Andrea Mitchell ON FIRE roasts GOP congressman over denial of death benefits to US troops

Andrea Mitchell interviews Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin about the disgraceful fact that the Republican shutdown has now cut off survivor benefits to the families of 17 US service members killed in action since the shutdown began.

You have to give credit to Duffy for one thing: He makes clear during the seven-minute interview that the entire shutdown is about Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare.

It’s an interesting admission, as the Republicans, over the past day, have steadily moved away from the health care reform talking point as the public is decidedly not on their side about shutting down the government to protest the Affordable Care Act.

Suddenly, the Republicans are talking more broadly about “cutting the deficit,” rather than admitting up front that they’re taking benefits away from the families of dead US service members out of spite against a law they don’t like.


One of the US service members killed this weekend, whose family will not be receiving their death benefits, is from Wisconsin, the state that Cong. Duffy represents.

Political Carnival has some of the transcript. Mitchell is on fire:

But the larger point, Congressman Duffy, is these mini CR s– mini continuing resolutions — that’s the whole question of taking little pieces of the government. The issue is not that this is a small matter, it’s a very big matter, but so is the matter of the kids in Head Start.

So is the problem of the single moms who aren’t getting food stamps and aren’t getting their help.

So down the road are the survivors benefits and that fund is going to run out in weeks if not months.

So you can’t take this piecemeal, Congressman. Isn’t the issue that someone has to sit down and figure out what to do about the stalemate that has led to this disgrace?….

After Duffy filibusters about Obamacare for a few minutes, Mitchell jumps in:

sean-duffyWith all due respect, this is about military death benefits to kids, 19-year-old kids who died in Afghanistan and who are not returning home, this is about what their families are entitled to by law and what they are not getting.

This is not about what you want in Obamacare and not about what the president wants on the debt ceiling.


Mitchell should have asked Duffy when was the last time he went to the “essential” House gym.

The fun begins at 6:45 into the video:

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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86 Responses to “Andrea Mitchell ON FIRE roasts GOP congressman over denial of death benefits to US troops”

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  3. karmanot says:

    You GO Lynchie. I’m with ya.

  4. lynchie says:

    They at least had a choice. Our troops were sent to hell in Iraq and Afghanistan by a congress of cowards and crooks and the death and amputations continue. We treat our troops no better than Blackwater, we hide them and deny them health benefits and then tie a yellow ribbon around a tree or put a made in China sticker on our SUV and claim we support our troops. The only thing most Americans support is themselves and their belief we as a nation are superior.

  5. lynchie says:

    The grand bargain is what is going to come out of this shutdown which is what O’Highness has wanted since he got elected. The rest was theater, an end run to put fear into the masses, drop the market so the 1% can win on shorting stock and in the end we will get cuts to SS and Medicare and be made to feel that this is a compromise. Also heard discussed yesterday that Obama and the dems have basically endorsed the Ryan budget.

    So the nation rejected Romney/Ryan, elected Obozo to second term and here we are putting the worst of ideas into practice. We sit around with our fingers in our asses thinking our man in the WH has grown a spine and what he has really done, along with the rest of the Dems is game us on an austerity budget with cuts to entitlements which aren’t in the fucking budget to begin with. All I hear is crickets.

  6. KC Jenner says:

    I was going to say almost the same thing. How dare he say something like that. Congress is in ACA, but they are employees of the Government.
    PS Are the Congressmen still getting their pay? How did that selectively shut-down the goverment? ?? I guess whatever was shut down and is making them look bad is what these CRs are all about.

  7. KC Jenner says:

    Aside from all the talk of Obamacare it is interesting that in the last 7 to 8 days there have been 18 deaths in that war. Kind of a poor yardstick being shown that is being brought to light.

  8. The_Fixer says:

    You haven’t seen Manos: the Hand of Fate until you see it done MST3K style.

  9. The_Fixer says:

    Living here (and not being able to escape) for 30+ years, I have to say that a lot of Wisconsinites have stones… in their head.

  10. Joseph Irwin says:

    Duffy is so full of shit his eyes are brown.

  11. karmanot says:

    Not true—-I send you a friendly Internet spoon.

  12. pricknick says:

    If you call that a roast John, you need to come by for a bonfire. The vodka whore always softballs those who helped her husband destroy this nations economy.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Another detail I found funny was how much of the time Warren kept the actors’ faces hidden from the camera, so as to make the later dubbing easier.

  14. BeccaM says:

    I concur, actually. There’s willing suspension of disbelief — like whenever I decide it’s time to watch Hero again. (I love that film.) Even when the protagonists are doing something impossible — like fighting high up in bamboo forests, or running across water — it doesn’t FEEL impossible. Just improbable and magical. There’s an effortlessness to it, fluid motion. Plus yes, they were doing most of it on wires, very little CGI, so humanity itself wasn’t lost.

    Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions though… ugh. You’re right: They took mere ‘disbelief’ and went full-tilt into ridiculous. Classic “let’s take an unexpected original hit movie and milk it dry.”

  15. karmanot says:


  16. karmanot says:

    Yet the GOP slime has managed to out fox Obozo at every turn.

  17. Monoceros Forth says:

    There is a crucial difference I think, though, between that Matrix Reloaded scene and the sort of fights you see in a chop socky movie or a Japanese sentai TV show. Sure, it’s ridiculous when a whole crowd of bad guys obligingly keeps its distance while only one or two of them actually fight the hero at any given moment, as is standard in those entertainments. But it’s still actual people flying around and doing stunts. The Matrix Reloaded scene, though, is all computer animation, so there’s no sense at all of weight or natural motion. Both Neo and all the Smiths toss one another around like the human body weighs only three ounces and not a bit of it looks convincing.

  18. BeccaM says:

    I’ll get to do that as soon as I get around to loading up Saints Row IV… ;-)

  19. BeccaM says:

    I think you just critiqued every single martial arts movie ever made. ;-)

  20. jeff asbed says:

    Members of Congress aren’t on Obamacare? What a lying piece of shit! Members of Congress are on the FEHB, not the ACA. He’s a lying scumbag. Nothing about this guy is reasonable. Andrea Mitchell got steamrolled by this lightweight. God, I’d love to have 10 minutes with him one on one. I love to make liars look like fools.

  21. emjayay says:

    They are even worse when you call them Mooshell and Obummer.

  22. jeff asbed says:

    What a terrible interview. This GOP position is transparent and cruel. They wait for a negative effect of their shutdown and then pass a mini-CRA to address it to try to garner appreciation from the American people and make the Administration look unreasonable. This is simple to counter. What they couldn’t get legislatively, in the Courts or at the ballot box, they are now trying to get by taking hostages. The GOP is pathetic. Their arguments are sophomoric at beast, specious at worst. I would just have asked this clown what would Bush and the GOP Senate have done if in 2005 the minority of Dems in the House had closed down the government until they got single payer or repeal of the Bush Tax Cuts, or immediate withdraw from Iraq or, better still, comprehensive gun control. The GOP would have called for the execution of every democratic traitor in the House. The GOP is pure slime.

  23. dula says:

    This must be so frustrating for the kinder and gentler oligarchs like Mitchell and her dirty banker husband. This sort of chaotic, systemic breakdown was never supposed to happen. All they wanted was to work with Republicans to destroy the middle class and make us all wage slaves so they could feel superior. That was as far as it was supposed to go.

  24. Tony Gilder says:

    Sorry, but this story attempts a spin in the liberal direction that just wasn’t there.

  25. Naja pallida says:

    This is a man in a position of power which necessitates someone from the Secret Service specifically assigned to collect his feces and urine and make sure it is properly destroyed, lest it fall into the hands of the “enemy”. It’s really kind of hard to even consider him having to make an appointment at the local clinic for health care. These idiot members of Congress have an inflated sense of self-worth, and since reality doesn’t apply to them, it’s impossible to attempt to use logic to form an argument.

  26. Naja pallida says:

    Guess I’ll just have to sleep alone then. Nobody wants to spoon with me.

  27. UncleBucky says:

    Oh, he’s a high school debate club star… Meh.

    But with no ethical basis.

  28. Naja pallida says:

    They are paid a lot more. At one point Blackwater was hiring for something like $750 a day, but the average was probably more in the $400-500 range, depending on duties, security clearances, and what any given contract was actually for, etc. Truck drivers were easily making $100k salaries. But does that extra pay change the fact that many of these people have been involved in the stress of living and working in a combat zone, some actively participated in the war (and some even committed atrocities), some were injured while on the job, and some may be returning home with PTSD. But they’re not veterans. They chose profit over service, so they don’t get to call themselves veterans. They just have to hope they made enough money while they were there to cover any future affect the war could have had on them. Well, at least now with the Affordable Care Act, any condition they may have acquired as a result of war doesn’t disqualify them for health insurance. But I wouldn’t count on Blackwater going out of their way to make sure their employees are taken care of once they can no longer be of profit to the company.

  29. Monoceros Forth says:

    … why not show the entire video?

    The human stomach can hold only so much vomit, you know.

  30. gman says:

    Why the comments and spin, why not show the entire video? Anyone who has seen it knows why John has to spin it. Way to avoid the truth John, but I guess that’s required on this blog.

  31. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’ve seen the film all by itself because my mate kicked a bit of money (via Kickstarter) towards its restoration. There’s something utterly fascinating about the movie, dreadful as it is. What’s really obvious in the restored version screened in a proper movie theater is that none of the actors seems to know quite what’s going on. There are long pauses (because every shot in the movie seems to run about five seconds too long) where can see the actors’ faces fall and their eyes shift uncertainly as if they’re thinking, “Is the camera still on me? Am I supposed to be saying something here?”

  32. UncleBucky says:

    Another Wisconsonian without a pie in the face.

    Wisconsonites? Don’t you need to be daylighting this GOPer with billboards, bumper snikers and and calls to local talk radio? Do they not have “stones” in Wisconsin?

  33. Naja pallida says:

    There was a hash tag on Twitter the other day, #ruinamoviewithoneword, ie, take the title of a movie and add one word to it to ruin it entirely… and someone tweeted: The Matrix Reloaded.

  34. cole3244 says:

    when are the american voters going to realize that the con gop are nothing more than insensitive, bigoted, immoral, cowards, but thats why they are referred to as chicken hawks and that slanderous word says it all.

  35. AnitaMann says:

    She’s paid the big bucks – millions – to do her job. That is, at minimum, don’t sit there like an Easter Island statue while a Teahadi ex-fratboy screams nonsense. Cut him off, dismiss his strawman argument, direct the interview back to the subject at hand. It really isn’t that hard.

  36. BeccaM says:

    As ever, this is just another injustice being served to the American people by the GOP’s insistence on having a temper tantrum.

    Let’s not forget all the other areas of damage.

    My list wasn’t even close to comprehensive, either.

    Yes, this is heartbreaking. But so is knowing there are people being denied cancer treatment due to GOP intransigence. And Arizona TANF recipients who’ve been cut off. And seniors all over America who won’t be able to apply for heating assistance this winter because the Social Security Administration won’t provide the necessary proof-of-income letters. Federal disaster aid has been suspended — so flood victims in Colorado and New Mexico are S.O.L, as are the farmers in the upper midwest who’ve just had their cattle herds wiped out in yesterday’s blizzard. And all the people who want to sell their homes, but can’t because despite being paid up, the I.R.S won’t process lien removals. Not to mention that anybody due a tax refund check won’t get it for the duration.

    Want a new job? Sorry — e-Verify, the federal service that provides legally-required employment eligibility info is shut down. You get to be idle, right along with the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who’ve been furloughed.

    WIC and TANF money is running out nationwide. The VA has said it’ll run out of benefits money in another week or two.

    As for the military, it isn’t just death benefits. It’s everything beyond basic salary that’s been suspended, including hazard and combat pay, tuition assistance, and more. Military families are also having to deal with their commissaries being shut down which, in normal times, enable them to buy food and basic supplies at discounted prices.

    So, death benefits… yeah, it’s bad. But it’s just one steaming nugget of GOP offal in a great big pile of it. All so they can have their slow motion impeachment and coup.

  37. BeccaM says:

    There are two treatments of Manos that make it actually rather enjoyable to watch. One is the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 show. And the other is the live show done by the RiffTrax guys — Mike Nelson et. al.

    I laughed so hard it hurt.

  38. goulo says:

    The problem is that modern “journalism” doesn’t point out when someone being interviewed says false things. Somehow doing so wouldn’t be “objective”, and so you end up with ridiculous nonsense being presented as just as valid as real stuff. (E.g. a lot of reporting on climate change denialism, or creationism, which just presents it as “2 sides of the story”.)

  39. Andreas says:

    She is always stymied but that is our TV reporters anymore, don’t dare rock the boat, don’t ever all someone on lies, let them lie all they want, just report.

  40. loooking says:

    It’s a shame Andrea has not studied up on the subject and is not informed enough to call the Congressman out on his lies. Is it too much to ask for an intelligent newscaster.

  41. Andreas says:

    I know, granted short amount of time, maybe not her job to argue the administration’s side but it is her job to question him & call him on his BS which she did not & she never does. Doesn’t matter about his looks or his perfect teeth, he is still an ass & she did not do her job but after all she is Greenspan’s wife I guess.

  42. JSJ says:

    To be honest, I was waiting for her to tell him to go back to work and do what he was elected to do and stop harping about an issue that they lost on through the DEMOCRATIC process. If they really want to repeal Obamacare, win a freaking election, get a majority on both houses and then have at it. Only they know that, by then, it will be a wildly UNPOPULAR thing to do. I don’t think Andrea Mitchel taught him anything at all. If anything, she allowed that douchebag to have a platform to, once again, repeat the same GOP talking points they’ve been trying to pass off as the gospel truth about the shuthdown and about the ACA. The left should loudly and often start to compare this Tea Party extremist gang as the US version of the Taliban. I don’t think that’s an image they want in anyone’s mind Tea Party = Taliban

  43. Monoceros Forth says:

    You know, I’ve always wondered what the real cost to the government was for using mercs from Blackwater or Xe or whatever the hell they’re calling themselves these days instead of soldiers. Aren’t they paid a tremendously lot more than what the government pays a soldier?

  44. Monoceros Forth says:

    Indeed. It’s depressing beyond belief to realize that, as much as we might be inclined to laugh at all the Republican posturing and histrionics, this is a crucial event in the history of our nation, far more important than Newt Gingrich’s stunt in the ’90s. If the GOP succeeds–if they even partly succeed–in weakening the ACA, then they will have set a fatal precedent: they will have openly and successfully undermined a key principle of representative government, the rule of the majority.

  45. lynchie says:

    Andrea what a waste of space.

  46. Richard says:

    What fun ? Mitchell just sat there with a blank stare and let the teapartier go on and on. What a joke of an interview !

  47. Bomer says:

    Oh god. Manos: The Hand of Fate…what a stinker that was. Watched it on Elvira once and once was enough.

  48. dcinsider says:

    The problem, of course, is we are not dealing with rational people. It’s like negotiating with Al Queda. The other side is so totally off the rails that you cannot have a logical debate with them.

    Democrats: “We will discuss anything with you, but not under the threat of defaulting on the national debt.”

    Republicans: “blah, blah, blah, Obomacare, blah, blah, Donuts, blah, blah, fetus.”

    Democrats: “I don;t understand what you want.”

    Republicans: “To negotiate, blah, blah Obomacare, blah, blah, Fox, blah Donuts.”

  49. Monoceros Forth says:

    Oh, God, that must have been the second Matrix film, The Matrix Reloaded, and the fight where Agent Smith reveals that he can replicate himself ad infinitum. It’s probably one of the most ridiculous and laughable fight scenes I’ve ever watched and I’m not forgetting the wives’ fighting in Manos: The Hands of Fate, the pommel horse scene from Gymkata or anything with Legolas from the Lord of the Rings movies.

  50. nicho says:

    I was watching one of the matrix movies with a friend. Not my choice. First, there was a guy fighting another guy. Then, the guy was fighting two guys. Then, four guys. Then, 10 guys. Finally, he was fighting something like 50 guys at the same time. My friend said “okay this is getting ridiculous. “I said, “you mean it’s only getting ridiculous now? It wasn’t ridiculous when he was fighting 10 guys?”

  51. nicho says:

    Not to mention being President of the United States.

  52. BeccaM says:

    That’s the point isn’t it? If the GOP can force an entire program out of existence by shutting down the government and threatening to cause a default on the national debt, what’s to stop them from doing it again to repeal Social Security or Medicare? Or to demand full passage of any budget or law they want?

    Nothing, but their own willingness to take a flying leap off that cliff. I don’t know — maybe Obama and the Dems are realizing this is what it’s come to. Too bad they didn’t realize it back in 2010.

  53. The_Fixer says:

    She doesn’t already? Huh!

  54. Backs up the Jon Stewart gag of having a hostage negotiator on the show to explain how to talk to republicans – they quite literally believe their own propaganda.

  55. BeccaM says:

    “There is no spoon.”

  56. AnitaMann says:

    He’s a teabagger. He doesn’t have to make a coherent point. He just needs to yell at a “liberal” and his clan of mouth breathers will love him. I’m waiting for one of them to start speaking in tongues in an interview. My bet is Bachmann.

  57. emjayay says:

    She’s on the teevee, she only has a short amount of time, and it’s not really her job to argue the administration side. She could have thrown a few biggies at him though, which she didn’t manage to do in the blizzard of well delivered total spin. Also, he’s young, good looking, and has perfect teeth or veneers or whatever they are.

  58. AnitaMann says:

    The “fun” starts where?? She starts off with the “both sides are to blame” lie, and then let this jackass grandstand for five minutes. The only way to make this interview fun is to see bystanders punch and kick this creep. My god if America can’t squash these cockroaches in 2014 we’re well and truly fucked.

  59. Monoceros Forth says:

    It’s like all the right-wing catchphrases and shibboleths are just flying out in any random order. “Obamacare” is bad; Michelle Obama is bad; so the both of them together are even worse.

  60. Monoceros Forth says:

    Oh, I know the feeling all too well, that nightmarish sensation of inhabiting a different reality completely sundered from the right-wing world and speaking an entirely different language. It was the presidency of Bush Jr. that really made me aware of the schism. Was it possible that I wasn’t seeing the same man that the Republicans saw? I saw, or thought I saw, an unappetizing, aging frat-boy with a contemptuous manner and a perpetual smirk and whose stumbling and semi-coherent speech made me think he’d swallowed a fistful of Seconals. But they saw a tough and virile sodbuster, a real man’s man of the people who’d be a swell down-to-earth sort of guy to drink a beer with. What explained this gigantic disparity? After a while you get to doubting the evidence of your own senses.

  61. emjayay says:

    I kept wanting to explain reality to this guy, like I and others often do at Yahoo!News comments on the ACA topic. But of course he knows already, unlike the rubes who believe what Rush tells them. He has just latched (and very well I must say) on a bunch of the latest focus group tested talking points. That’s why right wing sites think he won. His arguements are very convincing, if you don’t know anything about health insurance policies or the ACA or legislation or the Constitution.

  62. Monoceros Forth says:

    Shooting things, mostly. But also there’s the nerd fantasy of being to acquire any skill in the world at all–flying a helicopter, handling firearms, hand-to-hand combat–without any effort or practice whatsoever.

  63. Naja pallida says:

    There’s a point, besides a couple hours of mindless entertainment? :)


  64. emjayay says:

    Oh right, and his stay at home taking care of the kids wife was making tons of money on the teevee.

  65. emjayay says:

    I watched the original movie twice, once at home with a fan. I never quite ever got the point.

  66. Naja pallida says:

    To a Republican, that’s a feature, not a bug. It’s just an excuse to privatize it all. That way we don’t create any more veterans. A Halliburton “security contractor”, even if they have seen war first hand, are not considered a veteran when they come home.

  67. Naja pallida says:

    Seems to me she could have defended reality, without necessarily defending the President. She could have defended a functional government, without taking a side. I’m sure hindsight is 20-20 when doing live television, you always think of something you should have said or could have said after the fact, but she knew exactly what was going to happen by having this nitwit on her show. She should have been ready to cream him.

  68. Naja pallida says:

    There’s a problem with that, in the past, rich white kids always managed to get a deferment, or a cushy stateside duty where they didn’t even have to show up. Just ask Dick Cheney and George W. Bush… or the countless other chicken-hawks in Congress and elsewhere in politics who managed to avoid service during the Vietnam era. No rich white kid ends up on the front lines unless he wants to be there.

  69. Naja pallida says:

    Deep throat, swallow, with absolutely no gag reflex.

  70. Naja pallida says:

    That’s ultimately the problem here. We may share the same physical plane in space and time, but we don’t live in the same world with them. It’s like we’re in the Republican Matrix, and the Republicans have nominated themselves the psycho Agents that can defy reality at will… and we have no one interested in being Morpheus or Neo to save us.

  71. jomicur says:

    As if there weren’t already enough reasons not to join the military…

  72. Josh says:

    It is AMAZING to me how this exact video is being thrown around right-wing blogs as a win for THEM. They live in such a world that they only see positive on their side, no matter the truth.

  73. I think she was a bit stymied. As an objective journalist, you don’t want to get into a shouting match, or be defending one side or the other, and he was forcing her to defend the President, and she caught herself, backed away at the end, so she didn’t become part of the fight. She should have ripped his head off.

  74. kevinbgoode says:

    What good is “drafting legislation” if some small group of radicals can just decide to shutdown the government if they don’t like any part of the bill?

    Essentially, over the last week or so, I’ve learned a few things about the state of the American government: 1). The Republican Party believes they are the only ones entitled to govern; 2) They don’t like government unless they are the ones in charge of governing; 3) The “rule of law” only applies to laws passed and approved by the Tea Party

  75. keirmeister says:

    Waaah! Why can’t the President have the same healthcare as Congressmen?!?


  76. Andreas says:

    Yeah he is an ass but I think she did not do a very good job of countering him. She just sit there.

  77. silas1898 says:

    10 of 11 kids. His breeder parents should have quit while they were behind.

  78. DastiusKrazitauc says:

    Ah, that’s who that is. He’s as obnoxious and repellent as his wife.

  79. says:

    Better yet, reinstate the draft. Lets see how many rich white kids it takes getting blown up end a decade long war that’s causalities have mostly been poor minorities.

  80. DastiusKrazitauc says:

    So, we’re supposed to believe all this Republican ire is about them wanting families to be treated exactly like big businesses? Hahahahaha. Or that they want to shut the government down because Michelle Obama isn’t required to have Obamacare? People actually swallow that stuff?

  81. keirmeister says:

    Ah, Sean Duffy! I remember when he was on MTV’s The Real World Boston. A total frat boy…nice to see him making “something” of himself. /snark

  82. Indigo says:

    They’re only mercenaries. Ask any GOPer.

  83. Drew2u says:

    (Oh goddamnit…) Even without gerrymandering which gave him even more red counties in 2010, I think he’s safe in his district. Just check out his facebook page and read the comments:

  84. olandp says:

    What a jackass.

  85. heimaey says:

    The soldiers are invisible to them. They’re just casualties that stuff their wallets. The media should be required to read the names of the dead soldiers who have fallen that day every night on the news. See how long these “wars” would last after that.

  86. TonyT says:

    Hey Congressman. Eff off.

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