Military Archives

The Real Issue With the VA

(This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

Presidential candidate Barack Obama, back in 2007, gave a speech titled “A Sacred Trust”. It was a speech about the military; his plans for it, and for the veterans who came home from it. Here is one thing he said in it, “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months – even years – to get an appointment at the VA.”

How was he going to fulfill that goal? Here was his promise, “It’s time for comprehensive reform. When I am President, building a 21st century VA to serve our veterans will be an equal priority to building a 21st century military to fight our wars. My Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs will be just as important as my Secretary of Defense.” He followed that with specific changes he was going to make. But, whether he made those changes or not, whether or not vets are means-tested for care, whether or not VA budgets were passed on time every year, the result is still the same; long waits, and deaths due to them.

Obama knew of the problems in the VA before he became President. At least 5 years ago, he was warned about the specific wait time issue. What has changed? Nothing. And now he claiming he was shocked to hear about it; not from his advisors, but from the media. Let’s not forget that he was shocked about the IRS targeting conservatives, up until the point where he claimed that there was “not a smidgen of corruption”. I guess his views on that “evolved”.

There is another line from that speech that I think bears considering. His plans for the VA were a blueprint for something else. “The VA will also be at the cutting edge of my plan for universal health care, with better preventive care, more research and specialty treatment, and more Vet Centers, particularly in rural areas.” That’s right. ObamaCare was the next step, and what’s happening now with the VA is the future of what’s going to be happening with you. Centralized health care, or passing laws to create facilities and doctors out of thin air, doesn’t work.

And honestly, this has been the issue for decades. It didn’t start when Obama was elected. Presidents from both parties have presided over this long-running debacle, some say as far back as the Kennedy administration, because the fundamental problems are always there. On MSNBC, one of their military analysts, Army Col. Jack Jacobs, spoke on The Reid Report about how Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki was a good guy and was doing a good job, but in the end, the VA’s system of health care itself cannot give us what we need from it, regardless of how much money you throw at it.

Yeah, that really aired on MSNBC. But if the VA is the blueprint for ObamaCare, then the question is this: If we can’t take care of those we are the most indebted to, how is it going to work for all of us? Centralization like this – one of the pillars of the liberal view of government – is a failure. It has been shown not to work, specifically with regards to health care, and yet we just keep doing it bigger and costlier. Vets are dying in service to this social and political experiment. That’s certainly not the war they signed up for.

And in the meantime, Army Private and convicted felon Bradley Manning has been on the fast-track to get his sex change. Got to have your priorities.

The White House vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by year’s end. That’s if they agree to leave. Comedian Argus Hamilton says, if given the choice between surviving Taliban attacks in the Afghan mountains and surviving VA care when they get home, they like their chances in the mountains.

    Friday Link Wrap-up

    It has been said that we’ve not had global warming on the scale that we have it now, and therefor this time around it must be human-induced. The Medieval Warming Period, it is said (and reiterated by the IPCC), was merely localized and therefore can’t be compared with today. New evidence, however, shows that indeed the MWP was felt as far away as Antarctica. Not exactly localized.

    Taxing the rich rarely lives up to expectations of the amount it will bring in. That’s because the rich have many options of where to put their money. Cause pain in one place, the cash moves to another place. (Some on the Left will inevitably say that this makes the case for a global tax. Well, when our government can’t get by on $4 trillion a year, it’s not the fault of the rich.)

    A crowd larger than any OWS gathering protested in San Francisco, but the media ignored it. Why? (Wait for it…) Because they were religious people protesting Obama. Some news is clearly more newsworthy than others. Oh, that liberal media.

    Liberals were so absolutely sure that their view of the "living" Constitution was right, they were predicting a near-slam-dunk for them in the Supreme Court over ObamaCare. But exhibit A of how they simply failed to take seriously the arguments against it is Jeffrey Tubin of CNN. He was sure it would be 7-2 or even 8-1 in favor of the ACA, and was just gobsmacked after day 2. Why? The very same arguments used against ACA had been out there for months. But the news wouldn’t give it adequate coverage. Mr. Tubin, you could blame CNN for your ignorance. But then, that would mean you have no responsibility as a journalist to find it out for yourself. Oh, that liberal media.

    And finally, something for the "separation of church and state" crowd. A US Army issued New Testament with a letter from the President recommending that soldiers should read it.

      Preserve, Protect and Defend

      "…and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God." These words complete the US Presidential oath of office.

      Preserve. Protect. Defend. What do those words mean? Aren’t these the duties of the President? If the President of the failed to do that, could he be brought up on criminal charges? How, in fact, do  you defend the Constitution?

      Here are some ideas. Preserve the principles of the Constitution. Protect Constitutional rights of the people. And here’s one: Defend the laws passed using the process defined in the Constitution.

      But our President has decided which laws he will preserve, protect and defend, and those he won’t. It started with the Defense of Marriage Act, and now this:

      The Obama Justice Department has concluded that legislation banning same-sex couples from receiving military and veterans benefits violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment and will no longer defend the statute in court, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders on Friday.

      “The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”

      But that’s not his call to make. He isn’t there to decide which laws, in his estimation, are worth defending and which aren’t. The duly elected representatives of the people have made these laws. The executive branch does not have the Constitutional right to override the people or the legislative branch. It is, I contend, a breach of his oath of office.

      Instead, the Justice Department is pre-empting the judicial branch’s process.

      Holder said DOJ would no longer defend the provisions in Title 38 which prevent same-sex couples who are legally married from obtaining benefits. He said that Congress would be provided a “full and fair opportunity” to defend the statues in the McLaughlin v. Panetta case if they wished to do so.

      Congress does not have the role of defending its legislation; that is Holder’s job.

      Comments on the liberal "Talking Points Memo" blog on this article are uniformly positive about this move by the DOJ. But I wonder if they would be so happy about some social conservative President deciding he wouldn’t press federal charges against someone who killed an abortion doctor. For the Left, the decision as to whether something is Constitutional always takes a back seat to whether it’s politically expedient for their side. They like the outcome, so never mind the law, and never mind the people. Win at all costs.

      Even if one of those costs is our founding principles.

        Friday Link Wrap-up

        Medical

        UK cancer survival rates are the worst in the Western world. And yet another example of Sarah Palin’s death panels, "And the elderly are routinely denied surgery or drugs to remove tumours because doctors think it is not worthwhile."

        Politics

        President Obama brings bi-partisanship to Washington. "Crossing party lines to deliver a stunning rebuke to the commander in chief, the vast majority of the House voted Friday for resolutions telling President Obama he has broken the constitutional chain of authority by committing U.S. troops to the international military mission in Libya.

        Obama wouldn’t defend federal law in court (DOMA), wouldn’t abide by the War Powers Act, and is now ignoring a law intended to protect Medicare.

        Medical & Politics

        You can keep your current insurance under ObamaCare…unless your employer is one of the 30% that say they’d drop it.

        Under a Republican administration, this would be considered a church/state entanglement. For a Democrat, free pass.

        U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked black pastors and clergy members to help the administration fight what she called “mistruths” about the health care reform law President Barack Obama signed into law last year

        Middle East

        When 90% of folks in the Middle East hold an unfavorable opinion of Jews (Jordan 97%, Palestinians 97%, Egypt 95%, Lebanon 98%), you gotta’ wonder how possible peace is between them. You also gotta’ wonder how much is prejudice. Once you get to know those Jews, attitudes turn around. "By contrast, only 35% of Israeli Arabs expressed a negative opinion of Jews, while 56% voiced a favorable opinion."

        Iran suggests that the day after their first nuclear test would be no big deal. They are floating the trial balloon. Will the world notice?

         

        And finally, some sacrifice is shared rather unequally. (Click for a larger version.)

          A Scintillating Post on Budgets

          Well, no, it won’t necessarily be, as there’s very little scintillating about that topic (unless you’re an economist, but maybe not even then). But I just wanted to weigh in on the big topic at hand in Washington; the battle over the budget.

          Understand that this is the current year’s budget we’re talking about. When the Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress, they couldn’t pass a budget. And now that the Republicans have been swept into the budgetary side of the legislature, it’s even more difficult. But the Dems have no one to blame but themselves for this situation. If they’d passed a budget, Republicans, and especially the Tea Partiers among them, would have little to say on real spending until the fall. But free-for-all spending without a budget is sort of liberal utopia in a nutshell, so being hoist on their own petard elicits some satisfying schadenfreude.

          OK, enough clichés. Moving on.

          Both sides say they want to be responsible with the budget, but the tsunami of red ink the Democrats have drowned us and our grandchildren in doesn’t speak to any real underlying principle of restraint. Things were bad when Republicans held Congress and the Oval Office, but, as predicted, the Democrats were orders of magnitude worse. The Tea Party was a response to both issues, and some of the Republican leadership sees this and is doing something about it. Not nearly enough, mind you, but a more concerted effort than we’ve seen in quite a long time.

          Yet both sides have their sacrosanct programs. For Republicans, this is generally the military, and for Democrats, this is generally entitlements. Let’s start with the latter. A blogger I know from the Left asked an open question on how to cut $300 billion. His answer was, of course, stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (though Libya went interestingly unmentioned; perhaps because that’s a "kinetic military action" and not a war) and cut military programs. Viola. He asked for other ideas, with one stipulation being that it shouldn’t be done "on the backs of the poor, sick, elderly and otherwise marginalized". That kind of phrasing generally means "entitlements are untouchable, and if you even look at them sideways, we have a demagogue script all ready to go." Thus, for liberals, entitlements can only ever go up, period. Yet that is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Entitlements are eating up so much of the budget that much of the rest is just a case of nibbling around the edges. One suggestion I heard was to just take the 2008 budget and pass it. It would cut spending, including entitlements, and somehow, with that budget, we didn’t have rampant homelessness and the elderly starving to death. (And don’t talk to me about inflation; that was just 3 years ago.)

          Which brings us to the Republicans. If entitlements are an 800 pound gorilla, the military is it’s 600 pound cousin. But here’s are the differences:

          • The military is a constitutionally-enumerated power of the government. Wealth redistribution is not.
          • While the rest of the world look down their collective noses at the size of our military and the money we spend on it, this is the same world that asks, "Where are the Americans?" anytime we don’t show up to an atrocity or a despot or any other international incident. Europe wouldn’t handle Kosovo. The Arab League wouldn’t handle Libya. Everyone sneers at our military, but wouldn’t know what to do if we didn’t have it.

          Indeed, I would like to see some saving in military spending by, for starters, shutting down all those bases in Europe that were there to protect it from Soviet aggression. Turn them over to the locals and let them man the battle stations, or abandon them, whatever. But before you start cutting military spending on current hot spots, let’s get rid of the spending on spots that haven’t been hot for decades. There is money to be cut from the military if you’re willing to look. I’m sorry that manufacturing jobs may be lost, but if you’re keeping the jobs for the jobs’ sake and not for what’s being produced, how is that any different than socialist/communist make-work jobs?

          The sacred cows need to be put on a diet. All of them

            Don’t Dis the Commander-in-Chief

            As much as General Stanley McChrystal’s comments in his Rolling Stone magazine interview may accurately reflect the military’s view of Obama as Commander-in-Chief, he was wrong to make them to the news media.  He’s not the policy maker; Obama is. 

            I disapproved of this sort of behavior under George W. Bush, and I want to say for the record that I disapprove of it under Barack Obama. 

            That is all.

              Defense Spending: Not As Much As You Might Think

              What if I told you that we’re spending as much on defense now as we were when Jimmy Carter was President?  Yeah, I’d laugh, too.  But the Cato Institute notes that, as a percentage of the gross domestic product, defense spending is indeed at late-1970s levels.

              What’s also interesting to see is that non-defense spending, by the same measure, having stayed at about the same percentage of GDP for 30 years or so, has skyrocketed under Obama.

               

              (Click on the image for the accompanying article.)

              Defense spending, a constitutional role of government, is really not the problem when it comes to our national debt.  Just an FYI.

                Aid NGOs Complain Military is Doing Their Job

                From Instapundit yesterday:

                HAITI RELIEF? Soldiers told to stop handing out food. “Food handouts were shut off Tuesday to thousands of people at a tent city here when the main U.S. aid agency said the Army should not be distributing the packages. It was not known whether the action reflected a high-level policy decision at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or confusion in a city where dozens of entities are involved in aid efforts.”

                One is likely to assume that the lack of a cohesive government down there and logistical problems would be to blame.  However, one of Glenn’s readers replied with his first-hand experiences.

                The “aid” agencies did the same thing in Afghanistan. Being a logistics specialist, I volunteered to help an American NGO with rebuilding schools, and was on the ground in Kabul in January of ‘02. (I later ended up in charge of UNICEF’s warehouse/distribution operation for all of the new school supplies…leaving me with a complete and total disdain for all things UN-related.)

                For the NGO community, to be seen co-operating with the US military was the kiss of death. NGO co-ordination meetings specifically warned against co-operation with the US military, as opposed to UN agencies. The supposed reason was that they wanted a clear line between the “killers” and those that were “there to help”.

                Hey folks, get over it.  Stereotyping the military in this way does no one any good.  How many NGOs have facilities to desalinate ocean water and provide food as much as an aircraft carrier does?  Yeah, thought so.  America is using it’s vast resources to help and all you can do is this:

                They would actually COMPLAIN that the military was out doing things like rehabilitating wells and such, whining that these were things that should be left to the aid agencies. The irony of the fact that we were all sitting in a meeting, DISCUSSING it, while the US military had already been out DOING it, was completely lost on them.

                Sounds like it’s same-old, same-old. Nothing but tools, the lot of them.

                Yup, ya’ gotta’ get over it.

                  Honor the Jackson 5

                  No, not that Jackson 5. The first 5 American servicemen and women named "Jackson" who died in Iraq. They won’t get media coverage or the attention of those following celebrities, but theirs was a sacrifice we should honor.

                  PowerLine has the details.

                    …(and his post has the quotes to show that many Lefty bloggers do), then Collin Brendemuehl wants to know if the Left is going to blame itself for what one of its "peace activists" did; killing a military recruiter. 

                    The question is simple: Where is the contrition? Where is the self-deprecating admission that maybe, just maybe, the mainstream Left might be entirely wrong? They vandalize our nation and kill people and pretend that they have nothing to do with any of it. They protect the radicals and act like nothing is wrong.

                    (Ok, this is what I anticipate some them to say about this crime: The murderer was a convert to Islam and did this because he hated what Bush started. Bush made him do it. Right. And Nixon made Armstrong blow up the math building at UW.)

                    May they pretend to set an example by acknowledging that they might actually be doing what they contrive for us.

                    As of right now, big blogs from the left — Think Progress, TalkLeft, Talking Points Memo (can’t link to a search result) and Daily Kos — have absolutely nothing mentioning "William Long", the man who died in this killing. 

                    And yet blogs on the Right are all over themselves denouncing the violence done, ironically, in the name of the pro-life movement.  I’ll state for the record here that I find the killing of Dr. George Tiller absolutely wrong, just as wrong as the millions of abortions done each year, and just as wrong as killing a military recruiter who is posing no threat to you. 

                    Will the big voices of Left do the same?  Or is their outrage so very selective?

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