Show Some Damn Leadership

So, President Obama met with VA Secretary Shinseki about misconduct at VA hospitals and made a statement on it awhile ago. Basically, he said our veterans deserve better, the allegations are terrible, he won’t stand for it, wrongdoing will be punished, etc., but let’s wrap up the investigation before we start lopping off heads.

This insistence on conducting a thorough review before sacking cabinet officials and turning the VA over to a private equity group sounds sensible. But it blatantly ignores the needs of two key players in our political reality show extravaganza: Republicans and horserace media types.

They’ve tried a vast array of scandals on for size only to come up empty every time, like Mama Boo-Boo flipping sadly through the rack at a fat-shaming Abercrombie & Fitch store. This state of affairs cannot persist.

Maybe it’s time for Mr. Obama to put rank partisan concerns about quality care for veterans and fairness toward caregivers and administrators aside and just fire some people and shutter some clinics already. Ron Fournier would praise him for his leadership if he did.

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126 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    nobody gives a fuck what Ron Fournier has to say about anything.

  2. 2
    Campionrules says:

    This would make sense, if the White House was just now finding out about the issues. But no, they’ve had multiple warnings – both from the outgoing Bush White House and more recently a year ago by the Veteran Affairs Committee.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a.....ng-it.html

    But apparently, the President finds this stuff out when we do. On the DailyShow. That’s a fantastic excuse.

  3. 3
    different-church-lady says:

    Sentence first, verdict afterwards!

  4. 4
    Poopyman says:

    @cleek: Au contraire! I’m sure the Ron Fournier Fan Club, consisting entirely of White House Press Corps members, cares passionately.

  5. 5
    dubo says:

    Maybe we need Breitbart to release an edited video of a VA employee saying something that could be taken as demeaning to white people. The entire VA would be sacked faster than you could blink!

  6. 6
    hildebrand says:

    @Campionrules: You are citing a Ron Christie article from the Daily Beast? Brilliant, why not just link to Erik, Son of Erik, while you are it. May as well be as fair and balanced as possible.

    Yes, let us get to the bottom of story, but let us get to the bottom of the real story. Honestly.

  7. 7
    rikyrah says:

    I want a list of the times the Democrats have asked for more money for the VA>

    And, I then want a list of the Republicans who voted against it.

    One of my deepest pet peeves are the Republicans wrapping their asses in the flag, all the while voting against anything that helps the common soldier.

    They know their sociopathic asses wanted to privatize the VA.

  8. 8
    Soprano2 says:

    I wonder if it’s occurred to any Republicans or to the media types yelling for heads to roll that the actual problem is the huge number of wounded vets caused by two wars, and the VA not having enough money to hire enough docs to serve those vets. Just sayin’, knee-jerk firing people might not solve anything, but it would sure make those hollering for Obama to show “leadership” feel better. It frustrates me a lot that often people seem to care more about how something looks than whether any actual improvement happens.

    That reminds me, I need to listen to the extended version of Jon Stewart’s interview last night.

  9. 9

    My wife’s post on her love of listicles and how adulthood crept up on her.

  10. 10
    max says:

    and just fire some people

    I have no problem with sacking people, and I think Obama could have done himself a favor by starting to sack people faster a while ago – I just don’t see yet that Shineski should be sacked. One suspects the R’s want his head over the Iraq issue from long ago.

    and shutter some clinics already.

    That would make the waiting lists longer. Some hospital admins should certainly go.

    Ron Fournier would praise him for his leadership if he did.

    Nah. Obama doesn’t have a codpiece.

    max
    [‘There is only two measures of Fournier-style leadership – stupid and mean.’]

  11. 11

    Cut funding for embassy security and then throw a fit when an embassy gets attacked.

    Cut funding for VA and then throw a fit when vets are treated badly.

    It’s amazing that these are viable tactics in the information age.

  12. 12
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Campionrules:

    they’ve had multiple warnings – both from the outgoing Bush White House

    Which would certainly have known how badly the government was neglecting its veterans. And which did fuck all about it.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    So annoying to have an adult in the White House. It’s fair to say that it’s quite unusual, so the press corps simply doesn’t know how to deal with it.

  14. 14
    Campionrules says:

    @ranchandsyrup: Quick – link to a source that shows that VA funding has decreased at all in last 6 years. (Hint: It hasn’t. In fact’s it’s increased by several percent each year.)

  15. 15
    Campionrules says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Exactly. Somehow, someway, the 40 odd veterans that died on waiting lists in the last year is the fault of the Bush Administration.

  16. 16
    Cacti says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    Cut funding for VA and then throw a fit when vets are treated badly.

    You forgot the first part:

    Create more physically and mentally damaged vets through unnecessary wars.

  17. 17
    Belafon says:

    @rikyrah: It’s even better, they were for it while they were against it, a vote on expanding benefits for veterans:

    [The senate] cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote

    and then

    By a vote of 56-41, the Senate failed Republicans refused to waive budget rules that would have allowed the bill to proceed. (My strikethrough)

  18. 18
    Kay says:

    You wrote this, Betty:

    and turning the VA over to a private equity group

    So I know you’re aware of the risk, but that’s my fear. They’ll use this to divide it up and sell it off. Bernie Sanders said this is his fear, too.

    It’s such a pain in the ass that conservatives never actually want to improve a public program, because you can’t trust them not to dismantle it the moment they get their teeth in. My father loves the VA, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t have huge problems, it just means that handing it over to the wrecking crew who will privatize it and mine it for profit isn’t a solution.

  19. 19
    scav says:

    @Campionrules: Well, for that matter, show that funding has increased comensurate with need or even comensurate with the maintaining the quality (gkhgshf) of care we learned to relish under the Divine GW. Money up, money down is understanding in crayons.

  20. 20
    agorabum says:

    @rikyrah: this. They can’t do their jobs in part because they don’t have the resources. The scheduling system is over 25 years old.
    But there is also a reporting system to make sure schedules are kept. The thing about this scandal is that the Arizona VA just lied about the results.
    When you falsify inputs it’s tough to get good outputs.

  21. 21
    rb says:

    @Campionrules: Several percent!!? Somebody fetch my fainting couch.

    Surely SEVERAL PERCENT must be outpacing growth of the costs associated with permanent war. There’s simply no way resources directed toward the care of our veterans could possibly be insufficient.

  22. 22
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Campionrules: You linked an article from Ron Christie. No one is ever going to take you seriously from this point forward. You might as well change your username and start over.

  23. 23
    MattF says:

    @Kay: Putting aside the little moral problem of a private equity group making a profit from treating military veterans.

  24. 24
    Schlemizel says:

    Can someone explain why all care has to be via a VA hospital? Why couldn’t the vets get an insurance card like Medicare & use private doctors and hospitals at least for some of the work?

    Wouldn’t that eliminate the backlog and provide a better end result?

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:

    @rikyrah:

    One of my deepest pet peeves are the Republicans wrapping their asses in the flag, all the while voting against anything that helps the common soldier.

    They wrap their ass in the flag, then shit in their pants and blame the mess on the Democrats.

  26. 26
    Belafon says:

    OT: The pope, talking about how ignoring climate change is a sin, is coming really close to denouncing Ayn Rand:

    Francis also said that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, likening it to self-idolatry.

    “But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”

  27. 27
    raven says:

    @Campionrules: Yea motherfucker and the 10,000 that died for nothing in this trumped up bullshit? Fuck you.

  28. 28
    piratedan says:

    @rikyrah: agreed, in this ongoing austerity craze they’ll feel free to not recognize the hypocrisy inherent in why didn’t the government do a better job while we were starving it tack….

  29. 29
    Bob In Portland says:

    Obama and the Dems need to hit over and over that the GOP has been starving the government while complaining about it.

  30. 30
    Belafon says:

    @Schlemizel: I thought about giving an answer, but I think Soonergrunt might be able to give a better one.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The Rethugs hates them some near sheriff and some slant-eyed retired general who popped the neocon Iraq fantasy. Fuck them, and the horse they rode in on.

    As for the media, well, refer to my nym.

    Wipe them out, all of them.

  32. 32
    hildebrand says:

    @Campionrules: Has the VA budget increased proportionally to the number of veterans needing their services? Have Republicans hindered, in any way, the effective operation of the VA? Have the Republicans asked for the expansion of services for wounded veterans? Hell, have Republicans ever cared about veterans after they have come home from the wars? They don’t mind creating veterans, but they sure don’t care about them during and after service to the country.

  33. 33
    The Very Reverend Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    @Campionrules: As a veteran, I would like to recommend an act of autosodomy to you. The scandalous treatment of America’s vets has been going on since at least the Civil War, you loquacious rectum. Yet it only attracts the attention of people such as yourself when it provides an opportune means of attacking this President. Why now, we wonders? What COULD it be . . .

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Belafon: What the fuck is Paul Ryan going to do? He’s going to have to decide which religion he’s going to follow, for one thing.

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    It’s amazing that these are viable tactics in the information age.

    The Republicans realize that any media that can be used to spread the truth can just as easily be used to spew lies and hate. Until we have automatic filters that recognize and remove bullshit, we’ll remain in the Misinformation Age.

  36. 36
    burnspbesq says:

    @Campionrules:

    In fact’s it’s increased by several percent each year.

    In real terms, i.e., faster than medical cost inflation?

    If not, then all you’ve got is Republicans paying lip service to a problem while failing to address it in a meaningful way. Which only happens on days that end in “y.”

  37. 37
    Schlemizel says:

    @Bobby Thomson: While true that is not an excuse for the current admin to play whokoodaknowd. If nothing else Shinseki & the admin could have at least been on the record as recognizing the problem & trying to do something – even if that meant asking for more money. Think how great it would be to be able to point to past requests that goopers had pissed on.

  38. 38
    raven says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Whether he left his foot in 3 corps or not.

  39. 39
    Schlemizel says:

    @Belafon:
    Thats fine, I assume there must be a reason but nobody I know seems to be able to articulate it.

  40. 40
    Zam says:

    @Schlemizel: Because creating that would require political will and likely end up with dems caving to republican demands that a private company handles the care, putting profit motive into the equation.

  41. 41
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Belafon: I can’t believe they let that one slip through the net sometimes. My hubby, who was raised in the Catholic Church and far more cynical than I, claims Pope Francis is just a PR makeover. Maybe. But it sure is fun to watch people like K-Lo at NRO twist themselves into pretzels to interpret his pronouncements.

  42. 42
    Gene108 says:

    How did the problems at the VA hospitals come to light?

    I believe it is from a government audit.

    I could be wrong because I am not following this closely. All I gather from skimming MSM offerings is this the latest in how Obama has failed.

    I bring up the audit part, because the mess at Walter Reed was uncovered by journalists, IIRC and by the government auditing itself.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Schlemizel: The VA’s ideal is to provide the actual care for veterans, to get some control of that. The biggest problem is they don”t have the resources (I thank maggots like Michelle Bachmann for this) to do what they want to do, so then they have to go into a triage mode.

    I’ve never experienced VA emergency care, so I have no idea how that works, but I do know that you make an appointment well in advance of a doctor’s visit or to see a specialist, and the waiting rooms are always full…lots of oldsters (most oldster than me) but a shocking number of people younger that me, who got mangled in the great Mesopotamian and Afghan adventures.

  44. 44
    scuffletuffle says:

    @rikyrah: And yet my brother, a retired common soldier, eats sleeps and shits Republicanism. Go figure….

  45. 45
    raven says:

    @Schlemizel:

    What is CHAMPVA?

    Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a health benefits program in which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shares the cost of certain health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries.

    CHAMPVA is managed by the VA’s Chief Business Office Purchased Care (CBOPC) in Denver, Colorado. We process CHAMPVA applications, determine eligibility, authorize benefits, and process medical claims.

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kay:

    So I know you’re aware of the risk, but that’s my fear. They’ll use this to divide it up and sell it off.

    That’s my theory of what’s behind the crap that’s happening with the Post Office. They’re forcing the Post Office to massively overfund their pensions and run a deficit to do so. Once the funding is complete, they’ll use the deficits to justify privatizing it at a bargain basement price (“we’re lucky they’re willing to pay anything for it”) after which the private equity firm that buys it will loot the pension fund. It’s incredibly obvious, but nobody is willing to stand up and point out that’s the obvious plan.

  47. 47
    catclub says:

    I will point out that firing Shirley Sherrod, well before any information was in, helped defuse any shit throwing from the GOP. There is no Sherrodgate – apalooza now, is there?

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gene108:

    I bring up the audit part, because the mess at Walter Reed was uncovered by journalists, IIRC and by the government auditing itself.

    That was during the deserting coward malassministration. You know, the guy who slept like a baby the night after announcing we were going to war in Iraq.

    Shitstain needs to swing for that.

  49. 49
    raven says:

    @Gene108:

    The most disturbing and striking problems emerged in Arizona last month, with sources revealing to CNN details of a secret waiting list for veterans at the Phoenix VA. According to the sources, at least 40 American veterans died in Phoenix while waiting for care at the VA there.
    Now, an internal VA memo from 2010, first disclosed at a congressional hearing last week, showed officials warned of “inappropriate scheduling practices” to cover up excessive waits for veterans four years ago.

  50. 50
    Anoniminous says:

    @Schlemizel:

    Cost. Government doesn’t have to make a profit and private industry does. Thus the same amount of care necessarily costs more if the latter are the providers.

  51. 51
    feebog says:

    Maybe it’s time for Mr. Obama to put rank partisan concerns about quality care for veterans and fairness toward caregivers and administrators aside and just fire some people and shutter some clinics already. Ron Fournier would praise him for his leadership if he did.

    Yes, because that worked out so well with Shirley Sherrod.

  52. 52
    catclub says:

    @Schlemizel: “even if that meant asking for more money.”

    I bet they have done that. Will bring it up as necessary.

  53. 53
    Belafon says:

    @Schlemizel:
    The biggest reasons I can think of are:
    1. Privatizing veteran care would lead down all the paths associated with that. And would doctors want the additional scrutiny of dealing with the VA watching over them as they spend the money?
    2. You would really have to create a “military medicaid” because of things like psychiatric care.

  54. 54
    Kay says:

    @MattF:

    Putting aside the little moral problem of a private equity group making a profit from treating military veterans.

    Right, thanks.

    I got such a sense of Bernie Sanders’ dilemma when I heard him on the radio. I didn’t know he was an big veterans advocate/policy person but apparently he is, because Wolf Blitzer said he is.

    He was more frantic than usual, because he has to spin from “we have to fix these problems” to “don’t take the VA!”

    It’s a very difficult balance to strike. I sympathize completely. There’s a huge difference between valuing something and earnestly wanting to improve it and saying “finally! We get to pitch that thing we always hated in the trash!” but that seems to be lost in all the screaming.

  55. 55
    Anoniminous says:

    Trigger Alert! Trigger Alert! Readeth no further if you are offended by bad language!

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Kind of amazing there was an increase in veterans going to the VA DURING A MOTHERFUCKING WAR.

    Who coudahnode & all that.

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    @feebog: I just posted that it worked out well for Obama.
    Shirley Sherrod had a much longer wait.

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    @Schlemizel:

    Can someone explain why all care has to be via a VA hospital?

    I can think of two good reasons:

    1) Providing care directly is more cost effective. All the available evidence shows that you get the best bang for your buck with an integrated payer/provider system like the VA.

    2) There are a lot of specific health problems that show up disproportionately among veterans (e.g. PTSD, traumatic brain injury, amputation) so it’s helpful to have a system like VA that specializes in those problems.

    ETA: If it were just a lack of doctors, your proposal would work as a temporary patch. But the underlying problem is a lack of funding, so your proposal would do nothing unless it came along with enough money to pay for the extra services.

  58. 58
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Hill Dweller: No shit – went from GOP fluffer to pie eater extreme in two seconds flat.

  59. 59
    sharl says:

    A former Army guy now involved in veterans’ issues tried to put some of the numbers being tossed around into perspective in some his tweets today:

    Some perspective: According to the BLS CPS report 27,000 #veterans died in March of this year as the WWII and Korea generation passes.

    From BLS: 25K veterans died in Jan and 32K in Feb. Dying while on a waiting list doesn’t mean dying BECAUSE of being on a waiting list.

    Would be nice to have context from “advocates”. CPS reports we’ve lost 84,000 #veterans in first 3 mos of this year as our older vets pass.

    BillPutnamPhoto it’s shocking isn’t it? Experts not checking the facts and offering the big picture.

    So 7,000 older #veterans are dying every WEEK according to the monthly BLS_gov uscensusbureau Current Population Survey reports. Get it?

    I only care about #veterans not political games. I want issues fixed not posturing. This “crisis” is a bunch of BS. Both sides are lying.

    anitabrenner my point is perspective. People are clearly lying and gaming the system. But to claim mass crisis without perspective is BS

    anitabrenner I’ve said from day 1 that mid-level federal employees need to be fired. Now. But to say VA as a whole is failing is false.

    {I removed a bunch of ‘at’ characters to avoid the risk of FYWP treating them as links and throwing this comment into the moderation queue.}

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I will not add to the Campionrules dogpile, other than to say I’ve read and approve of the posts recommending that he do something physically impossible.

  61. 61
    catclub says:

    @Schlemizel: As to the ‘we asked for more money and you said no’,
    This seems like a great point to make repeatedly, but the Obama admin seems to avoid doing it much.
    The state department security case is another one where I had expected to hear it much more.

    My theory is that any statement, even if true, that sounds like whining, is rejected by them on image grounds. Obama could be saying this a lot more, but does not.

    I also have a theory about the brontosaurus if you would like to hear it.

  62. 62
    feebog says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Its not the pension fund the Post Office is required to pre-fund, its health benefits. So far the USPS has pre-funded 44 Billion dollars for the health benefits of workers who are not even born yet. This article from Time sums it up pretty well.

    http://business.time.com/2013/.....-delivery/

  63. 63
    Cassidy says:

    @Schlemizel: The VA has a lot of specialties under one roof, just like an MTF. It’s cheaper that way and, in my experience, you get a superior level of care with a great deal of resources targeted at prevention.

  64. 64
    Emma says:

    @Belafon: That man’s going to get himself killed.

  65. 65
    hildebrand says:

    This Washington Post link might help to put a better time frame on this particular ‘scandal’.

  66. 66
    Kay says:

    @sharl:

    I admire the energy, but you know how this snowballs once they get on one of these “failing!” binges.

  67. 67
    Belafon says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    @Emma:
    As much as there’s a lot of things he needs to do better, it’s about time someone claiming to follow Jesus threatened the moneychangers and the pharisees.

  68. 68

    @Belafon:
    Denouncing Ayn Rand should be a no-brainer for the Pope. The only (and I admit it’s a big) reason he wouldn’t is that she’s quite likely a name he’s barely heard of. The only reason I can think of for the Catholic Church (as opposed to individual American Catholics) to put up with Randianism is if the hierarchy felt a need to make common cause with the most assholish of American politicians to push bigotry issues over every other aspect of the Church’s agenda.

  69. 69
    The Very Reverend Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    @catclub: My theory, which is mine, and what it is, too.

  70. 70
    Roger Moore says:

    @Emma:

    That man’s going to get himself killed.

    He managed to survive in Argentina under the Junta, so he is not a novice at navigating potentially lethal politics. I wonder if that was a consideration in picking him, and if that explains why he’s staying out of the official papal palace.

  71. 71
    🌷 Martin says:

    @hildebrand: It’s not an issue of budget necessarily. Large process transitions like this are hard. You’re going to double or triple workload for a limited period of time as you build out parallel systems, redesign processes, train people, etc. During that period, you inevitably wind up with difficult circumstances – the new system doesn’t handle this class of problem, so that remains on paper while everyone else is electronic, stuff like that. When you then add a set of hard priorities, as the administration has done to get wait times down, it’s almost inevitable that someone will ‘solve’ the problem by prioritizing the electronic patients and deferring the paper ones. Wait times go down, and nobody can easily spot the slight-of-hand.

    It may have even started as a well-intentioned decision – if we prioritize this group and get caught up, that will free up everyone to tackle these harder cases, etc. Administrators need to make those decisions all the time. Sometimes they fail to make them right later, though.

    And this simply may not be a problem of ‘throw more money at it’. The VA is the largest healthcare system on earth. It stretches around the globe. Adding people may simply add the need to manage more people, without improving results (I see that happen all the time). Oftentimes what is needed is the vision and authority to reinvent how you do the job. It’s hard enough to find people with the vision – they’re very rare – and then you have an even bigger problem of giving them enough authority given limitations by Congress and the VA and institutional calcification and all of that. It’s just not going to happen without scandals like this. They need to break the institution in a big way, and they’re going to need a big justification to do that. It shouldn’t need to work this way, but it almost always does.

  72. 72
    rikyrah says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That’s my theory of what’s behind the crap that’s happening with the Post Office. They’re forcing the Post Office to massively overfund their pensions and run a deficit to do so. Once the funding is complete, they’ll use the deficits to justify privatizing it at a bargain basement price (“we’re lucky they’re willing to pay anything for it”) after which the private equity firm that buys it will loot the pension fund. It’s incredibly obvious, but nobody is willing to stand up and point out that’s the obvious plan.

    DING DING DING DING

    We have a winner.

    You are on the money.

    The GOP hasn’t ever given two shyts EVER about working folks’ pensions. So, it should have set off alarm bells when they set up this scam of ‘ fully funding the USPS Pensions’.

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Belafon: The don’t follow Jesus, son of Yahweh. They follow Jeebus, son of Mammon.

  74. 74
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That’s my theory of what’s behind the crap that’s happening with the Post Office. They’re forcing the Post Office to massively overfund their pensions and run a deficit to do so. Once the funding is complete, they’ll use the deficits to justify privatizing it at a bargain basement price (“we’re lucky they’re willing to pay anything for it”) after which the private equity firm that buys it will loot the pension fund. It’s incredibly obvious, but nobody is willing to stand up and point out that’s the obvious plan.

    I agree. The bookkeeping is nuts, and it does look like it was a deliberate effort to keep them insolvent.

    I have such complicated opinions about the Postal Service. I worked for them at one time. I would have given them additional duties- services, to replace first class letter mail.

    It’s an amazing asset, this national system with brick and mortar presence in every town and this really well-developed capacity to serve everyone. I think that has value, aside from first class mail. They took on additional duties even during my time there. Selective service registration is one, passports is another. They’re (essentially) a national recording agency, broadly, or that’s how they could function.

    I would have given them some portion of election administration, because it’s exactly the sort of thing they do (really well) now; names, addresses, moving, etc. I would also go along with the “public bank” idea because poor people use post offices as one place they can conduct their personal business anyway.

    I hate to throw it away. Just the wastefulness and what I consider recklessness of that offends me.

  75. 75

    @Campionrules: Yer smarm aside, there was a filibuster in the senate on increases a few weeks ago.

  76. 76
    slag says:

    Neglected systems are neglectful.

    I long for the day when each task on our list doesn’t have to be crossed off with a fire extinguisher.

  77. 77
    catclub says:

    @Kay: Universal access Banking is where they should go.
    I am not the originator of that thought.

  78. 78
    slag says:

    @Kay:

    I would have given them some portion of election administration, because it’s exactly the sort of thing they do now; names, addresses, moving, etc. I would also go along with the “public bank” idea because poor people use post offices as one place they can conduct their personal business anyway.

    No way. Selling our information to junkmail services is way more valuable to us as a nation.

  79. 79
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @catclub: Banksters will scream in pain if that gets serious consideration.

    Pass the popcorn.

    They should team up with the credit union movement and make it a twofer. Time to take the Ferengi assholes down.

  80. 80
    catclub says:

    @slag: How about getting people to pay not to be on junkmail lists?

  81. 81
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kay:
    Not to mention that the Post Office is something that was explicitly intended to be part of the federal government by the framers. Yet they seem to be thoroughly loathed by the kind of people who love describing themselves as “Constitutional Conservatives” and who claim to want nothing but the original intent of the Constitution. I have yet to see anyone even try to square that circle.

  82. 82
    slag says:

    @catclub: Exactly. It’s as if they invented the perpetual motion machine. Innovation!

  83. 83
    El Caganer says:

    I have no idea who or what Ron Christie is, but if the congressman’s letter he links to is genuine that would certainly create some bad optics for the administration.

  84. 84
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Banksters will scream in pain if that gets serious consideration.

    I don’t see how or why they have a right to complain. They could be offering banking services to poor people, but they’ve refused every opportunity to do so. They are in no position to complain when somebody else comes along and picks up the customers they’ve refused to serve.

  85. 85
    Belafon says:

    @Roger Moore: They constitution, “Atlas Shrugged”, says that all services should be private corporations. You’re just reading the wrong constitution.

  86. 86
    Kay says:

    @catclub:

    No, I know, nor me. I think it was Elizabeth Warren, right? It’s fine, but it doesn’t go to their real strength, which is names and addresses and national. There’s a reason they send election notices in the mail when they’re cleaning up voter rolls. Because the post office list is much, much better than the Bd of Elections list. The post office knows where everyone is. It’s harder than you think, finding these people! Fully half the time it was carriers, people, not a data set or whatever. “She was a Jones and then she got married and then he died”…they’re a treasure trove of information.

  87. 87
    fidelio says:

    @Schlemizel: That’s been suggested but a good many of the veterans themselves aren’t all that thrilled by the idea–they’ve said they like the idea of treatment from sources specifically aware of issues and problems copmmon among veterans.

    It’s important in talking about this to separate the issues involving VA medical centers and clinics from the benefits system. The medical care can be (and has been) highly variable, depending on who’s in charge of a facility and what they allow to slide by; “The fish rots from the head” had been proved true in too many cases. I know of VA facilities which have provided innovative and effective treatment for issues like PTSD, and I know of places I’d want to surround with yellow police tape and post guards to keep the area safe.

    The benefits system is something else–the disability process suffers from chronic understaffing and other complications. The urgent need to provide medical care has often outweighted the need for updates in procedures and IT systems, as well as personnel hiring and training, in the offices that handle benefits claims. Just throwing money at things won’t fix it all–there are some people who need to face diciplinary action and job termination (just letting them ease themselves out the door on their own is too kind; we want them marked as not elegible for rehire in any gummint job.) They need to know their work will be checked and given close oversight, so as to prevent the temptation to do some of the things that happened in Arizona and other places.

    The VA has been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul for a good many years now, and although they weren’t subjected to the same sort of cuts as other agencies while the idiots in the House were being obstructive about the budget, they weren’t in any position to do the sort of things they need to do to handle their problems. Good IT costs money. Good staffers cost money. Thorough oversight costs money. Effective training costs money.

    Just throwing money at things won’t fix it all–there are some people who need to face diciplinary action and job termination (just letting them ease themselves out the door on their own is too kind; we want them marked as not elegible for rehire in any gummint job.) They need to know their work will be checked and given close oversight, so as to prevent the temptation to do some of the things that happened in Arizona and other places.

    Turning all of this around is not a fast process; the degree of institutional inertia at the VA is impressive even by government standards, and there are a lot of stakeholders whose demands have to handled in one way or another. I’m impressed that Shinseki has accomplished as much as he has, given what he’s had to deal with and how restricted his resources have been since he took over.

  88. 88
    raven says:

    @El Caganer: He’s an oreo with a bad eye.

  89. 89
    D58826 says:

    @hildebrand: We don’t know how badly screwed up the system was when Bush left office. Maybe they have made major improvements and the media is just now catching up with the story. The IRS ‘scandal’ comes to mind. The media didn’t find out about it until the IRS apologized and upon investigation it turned out a lot less of a ‘scandal’.

    What ever mistakes have been made I suspect that the root cause will be to many patients and not enough resources. But the GOP doesn’t care

    But by all means lets fire, aim, ready. The approach worked so well for Bush

  90. 90
    El Caganer says:

    @raven: That’s a rather striking image.

  91. 91
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Schlemizel:

    trying to do something – even if that meant asking for more money. Think how great it would be to be able to point to past requests that goopers had pissed on.

    You mean like all the requested increases in funding that Republicans have filibustered?

    Assuming that your statement was made in ignorance, best to educate yourself.

  92. 92
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Schlemizel: Most VA hospitals provide better care more efficiently and at lower cost than by privatizing veterans’ health care. Using neglect at a few poorly run hospitals (and the inevitable problems that result from underfunding) as a cudgel to eliminate the entire system is pretty transparent.

  93. 93
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I actually love the history of it. It was huge, just so, so central to the formation of the country.

    For one thing, it went a long way in promoting literacy.

    The other part that gets lost is the jobs were a real entry point into the middle class, particularly for African-Americans and working women of all colors. It was a system they could break into, and become managers and supervisors when the “private sector” was all but closed to them.

  94. 94
    Campionrules says:

    Just a note with regardto the VA budget increasing: in 2009 it was 70 odd billion, by 2012 it had grown to over 150 billion dollars and since tgat point by several percent each year. For those struggling with math, thats several billion dollars a year

    But if course, they cut the budget amirite?

  95. 95
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    The other part that gets lost is the jobs were a real entry point into the middle class, particularly for African-Americans and working women of all colors. It was a system they could break into, and become managers and supervisors when the “private sector” was all but closed to them.

    Do you not understand that also is why it’s been targeted by the GOP?

  96. 96
    Paul in KY says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: He’s jesuit trained, so I would assume he’s heard of Ayn Rand.

  97. 97
    Paul in KY says:

    Will also say that if Pres. Obama thinks that it would help to fire Mr. Shineski, then fired he should be.

  98. 98
    Suzanne says:

    The thing is, though, that firing anyone won’t make a damn bit of difference until we actually give them enough resources to do their jobs adequately.

  99. 99
    scav says:

    Some points are so assiduously missed you almost want to pat them on the head.

  100. 100
    different-church-lady says:

    @Kay:

    …this really well-developed capacity to serve everyone.

    From a republican viewpoint, “Bug, not feature.” See earlier today for reference.

  101. 101
    Kay says:

    @rikyrah:

    I do. I’m slow but I figured it out during the SB5 fight in Ohio when 70-80% of people at the rallies in cities were black people and women. Without the firemen it would have been higher. 90%. That’s when it dawned on me.

    It’s something like 98% white in this county. I have to get in my car to get the big picture, or, talk to you :)

    One thing that’s probably consistent everywhere is veterans working for the Postal Service. There were a LOT of them. Way more than the general population distribution, I think, or that’s been my work experience.

    I worked for a great female manager, a postmaster. Just very good. I learned a lot from her. Both she and her husband started at GM as line workers and he was bright too and he got trained and promoted at GM and she didn’t. She left for the Postal Service and they made her a boss.

  102. 102
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Soprano2: It’d be refreshing if the “leadership” BHO shows came in repurposing all the funds the Teahad has allocated for, say, the second engine for the F-35 to the VA instead, so the VA would get appropriate financing and a needless defense expenditure would be prevented.

  103. 103
    different-church-lady says:

    @boatboy_srq: Now how the heck you gonna treat PTSD if you don’t create it in the first place[؟]

  104. 104
    Roger Moore says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    It’d be refreshing if the “leadership” BHO shows came in repurposing all the funds the Teahad has allocated for, say, the second engine for the F-35 to the VA instead

    I think you misspelled “unconstitutional”.

  105. 105
    divF says:

    @Campionrules:
    Link ?
    In any case, without demographic data these numbers are meaningless. 2009 is around the time that the big bulge in the Vietnam-era veterans started hitting their 60’s, and therefore the major susceptibility to the Big Bad Diseases (e.g. Cancer, Heart Attack). Not to mention the casualties from Idiot Son’s Excellent Adventure.

  106. 106
    Pogonip says:

    @Schlemizel: They can if they are really old, Korean War vintage. It’s called Tricare for Life. My parents were put in this. They don’t mind it, but it does seem sort of silly that they are no longer allowed to use the base hospital 3 miles from their house.

  107. 107
    Someguy says:

    This is just another bullshit made up scandal. The VA has never been great, never will be. Sure, everybody wants the best for the vets blah blah blah. But nobody wants to pay for it particularly since Bush’s Great Brown Peepuil Killin’ Budget Slashin’ Texas Crusade of 2001-2006.5 and a Half. That the VA is crawling out from a system-wide underfunding and probably always will be isn’t really news, and apparently the way the Bush tax cuts wreaked havoc isn’t really news either. But there’s a Dem preznit so he must have ordered the mistreatment of vets, lets hold him responsible! Or, Get the Ni-Clang, in other words.

    Hey,don’t let me kill your buzz campionissimo. If made up scandals about the IRS doing its job and Benghazi aren’t getting it done for you, feel free to make another one up about this. Gotta keep that O’ Hate going until the next catastrophic Republican defeat in 2016, after which you Reps can find somebody new to irrationally hate…

  108. 108
    AxelFoley says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    @Campionrules: You linked an article from Ron Christie. No one is ever going to take you seriously from this point forward. You might as well change your username and start over.

    Ether.

  109. 109
    NCSteve says:

    @Campionrules: I guess you missed the part where we were in two protracted wars that increased demand for VA services faster than funding was rising throughout those years.

  110. 110
    NCSteve says:

    @Campionrules: I guess you missed the part where we were in two protracted wars that increased demand for VA services faster than funding was rising throughout those years.

  111. 111
    voncey says:

    @ El Caganer Ron Christie used to work for Dick Cheney, so…

  112. 112
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: Who says they have a right to complain? They’ll complain anyway, their past actions being forgotten as they wail about competition for accounts they don’t even want.

    They need to be shown no quarter at all. They’ve earned that through their incessant whining about competition from credit unions for other accounts they don’t really want, because they can’t extract maximum vigorish from them.

  113. 113
    Soonergrunt says:

    @ranchandsyrup: If Obama were white, it wouldn’t be a viable tactic.
    #YesIWentThere

  114. 114
    Schlemizel says:

    To be clear at no time did I ever suggest a privatized VA of any kind. What I was wondering was why couldn’t some care, things that do not require the specialties that VA is best at, be handled by a doctor & reimbursed like medicare?

    Trust me I understand the goopers would whine about this but it is a perfect issue to beat them about the head and neck with. You want better care for veterans? that costs money, put up or shut up.

    What I don’t know is how VA care is used. Are the people trying to get in all service injured? Are they people without other healthcare? Those things would affect how a bigger program would be shaped.

  115. 115

    @Campionrules: WTF?!?!? No warning for a Ron Christie link? Curse you!!

  116. 116
    Brendan in NC says:

    @ranchandsyrup: But the information age was ushered in using Science and Technology – and since neither can be directly attributed to G-O-D, they are to be shunned.

  117. 117
    Joel says:

    @Campionrules: Trolly trolly trolly trolly trolly trolly rock is my home…

  118. 118
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    When you inherit a decade of war, then you also inherit 60 years of VA cases.

    Now: are the GOP going to pay for that? Doctors and nurses and therapists don’t come cheap.

  119. 119
    Bill Arnold says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    Cut funding for VA and then throw a fit when vets are treated badly.

    It also smells very Rovian. Sure it’s real but if I were investigating it I would be keeping an eye out for evidence that it was orchestrated by people who wanted to attack the closest thing to a working socialized health care system that we have in the U.S..

  120. 120
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    The other point is that private hospitals don’t receive much in the way of scrutiny and oversight. When something fucks up at the VA, there’s a chain of responsibility that goes all the way up to the White House; when something fucks up at Local Megahospital, that usually stops at their board and gets filed in the bin.

  121. 121
    Keith G says:

    As much as modern progressives seem to disdain this notion, there is a good deal of theatrics and symbolic behaviors involved in the process of effective leadership and governance. I am not saying that Betty’s sarcastic advice should be heeded, but clearly this President has had a lengthy challenge in using communications to get larger numbers of citizens on board with what his administration has been doing, needs to do, and wants to do. This has helped to lead to leadership approval ratings bouncing around the mid 40% range.

    If the Republicans are able to leverage this sorry affair to some advantage, it will be because the Obama administration let them.

  122. 122
    Talentless Hack says:

    At the Silent Generation reser…er…parents’ house this week, where Fox News is the media of record. Sat through The Five for half an hour before running for pizza. This really is an alternate universe they live in. Fortunately, they don’t appear to be listening all that closely, and they’re actually good people. On balance, it’s like being on vacation compared to being on vacation with my wife, which is more like being at work than being at work.

    Anyway, they just rattled off these fake scandals in this long, scary list as if they were something we really need to be concerned about. The thing I was going to say next about the News Corporation building in New York would probably get me a DHS visit, so I’m not going to say it.

  123. 123
    Ruckus says:

    @Schlemizel:
    No.
    One reason you get decedent results with the VA is that you normally see the same doctor for a while and there is a comprehensive medical reporting system. If you go to a private dr maybe you will have a chart, possibly there will be electronic files. Already there in the VA.
    Betty,
    Closing clinics will just make it worse. I live in socal, along with a bazillion other people, some of who are vets. My closest clinic is 8 miles, not bad at all. The next clinic is about 30 in on direction and about 60 in the other. So in a very populated area some people have to drive/whatever 20-25 miles. That doesn’t sound bad but not an insubstantial number can’t drive. Clinics are spread even farther apart in less populated areas.

  124. 124
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Scientology. He should fit right in.

  125. 125
    Ruckus says:

    @D58826:
    As a patient at the VA I can tell you it is much better than it was decades ago when I knew people working there, who said it was horrible either as an employee or as a patient. I have been told that it has gotten much, much better in the last 5-6 yrs and that would align with President Obama and a new cabinet.

  126. 126
    Ruckus says:

    @Schlemizel:
    There are 8 groups for VA care.
    If you were a POW, if you served in a theater of operations rather than just during a war, wounded, wounded and disabled (I think 20 and 50 percent), served during a time of war, and the last one is served and have too much in assets/make too much. Some of these may overlap.
    You get placed in a group and if you are in 8 and your financial situation deteriorates enough you can be moved into group 7.
    Health care needs are prioritized, an operation that can wait, will be scheduled when possible, while emergent needs are handled as necessary.
    Everything is just like the military or any large organization, you wait to make appointments, you wait to see your doc(but less than I used to in private care) but on the up side I’ve never had in private care, the level of discussion nor time that I get with the VA docs.

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