Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Veterans Affairs

People think of the VA as mostly an immense integrated medical system, but it also administers numerous non-medical benefit programs and has a cemetery department as well. As has been widely reported lately in relation to the new nominee to be VA Secretary, VA budget is $273 billion, although a billion or so of that is actually the cost of disability benefits and other direct payments. Still, $170 billion is a chunk of change, and it supports some 378,000 people.

I can tell you from personal experience that the VA has labyrinthine bureaucracy, in part unavoidably because they need to have a very high level of security concern and congress has given them intricate legal obligations. There have been a lot of reports about long waits for care and other problems with the adequacy and quality of services. This is not, however, because most VA employees aren't trying to do their best for veterans. It's because George Bush II started two big wars and some smaller ones that he pretended weren't going to cost anything or actually hurt anybody. Instead we wound up with 8,000 military personnel killed in action and more than 50,000 wounded, plus hundreds of thousands more with non-combat injuries and psychological trauma, and 2.6 million post-911 veterans. (The VA has officially diagnosed more than 200,000 post-911 veterans with PTSD.) Bush didn't ask for any money to take care of them, on the assumption that they wouldn't exist, so the VA is still trying to catch up.

So fixing this is a big job which requires somebody with major management skills and experience. White House doc Ronnie Jackson is not that. He got nominated for the job because he gave a speech declaring the Resident to be the healthiest person who ever lived, while trimming his weight and stretching his height enough to make him officially non-obese. That's it. As Yglesias says, who cares if he drinks on the job or hands out happy pills? He doesn't know what he's doing in such a job, has absolutely no relevant qualifications (the job does not involve actually being a doctor), and the weirdest thing about all this is that Jackson would actually want it, because he is guaranteed to fail.

Sure, the Republicans want to destroy HUD and the EPA and the DOE, which is why they appointed grossly unqualified people. But presumably they don't want to destroy the VA. Why on earth would Republican senators vote to confirm this clown? Loyalty to the country and the Republican party have nothing to do with each other.


Gay Boy Bob said...

It's just weird how you believe GWB just unilaterally went to war. In his defense, he put both matters before congress.

The majority of Democratic Senators voted for the Iraq war including Hillary, Reid, Schumer and Biden. After it became not so popular, they walked it back by saying they were all fooled when, in fact, they had access to the same intel.

On the matter of Afghanistan, the senate vote was 98-0 with two senators either abstaining or not present.

While I like your posts, you take seem to take every opportunity to shape history to your liking.

mojrim said...

Oh, GBB, your mendacity is matched only by your stupidity. Bush the Younger falsified intelligence, fed it Powell, and used that to lie us all into two unnecessary and immoral wars. The senate approved this insanity because they never thought the president would lie to them in such bald-faced way.

Science IT and Leisure said...

have a great day.

Gay Boy Bob said...

mojrim said...

I get my water a little closer to the well, as it were. It was well known at the time that Cheney rejected reports that didn't support his claim. The CIA was told to produce "correct" reports or heads would roll, even as Arabists at NSA were screaming about how stupid it all was. Colin Powell won't say anything because he's like that, but his then CoS, Col Wilkerson, talks constantly about how the white house lied to them, then threw them under the bus. And that's before we get to the PFNAC "five countries in four years" plan.

So, yeah, GBB, it was essentially unilateral.

Gay Boy Bob said...

I always enjoy a good conspiracy theory and that's pretty much what you have. AND it might be true, who knows? But you have so little to back this up.

"It was well known..."

"The CIA was told..."

"Colin Powell won't say anything because he's like that..."

Besides the lack of facts, one big issues that would make any reasonable person question your theory is how GWB's detractors told us time after time how stupid he was and now, in retrospect, he was so smart and so cunning that he fooled all of Congress, The NYT and even the German and British intelligence agencies.

Cervantes said...

All you had to do was read the European press. They knew Bush (and Tony Blair) were lying. It was our corporate media that fell down on the job. And yes, Bush is and was stupid. The conspiracy was led by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Bush was a tool.

Gay Boy Bob said...

Well, now I'm really confused.

All I heard at the time was George W. Bush wanted to invade Iraq 'cuz "Saddam tried to kill his daddy".

Now I learn that GWB is just a Yale grad and Harvard MBA rube, and it was actually Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney that were so much smarter than everyone else that they were able to fool President Bush, all of congress, the NSA, CIA, British Intelligence, Israeli Intelligence, German Intelligence, The UN Security Council and the entire media who was always very critical of the Bush Administration.

That's amazing!

To bring all of these disparate players with completely different agendas together in a world-wide secret conspiracy has got to be the feat of the century!!

Cervantes said...

Bush was an affirmative action legacy admission who got Cs. And when the President of the United States (acting as a ventroliquist dummy, but people didn't know that) makes public claims about intelligence, people believe them. The CIA and NSA weren't fooled, they were very skeptical, but the administration cherry picked the stuff that fit their case. British intelligence actually didn't,believe it either, but Tony Blair was in on the scam. ("The facts are being fixed around the policy.") The UN security council did not vote to approve the war. And the entire media was not "always very critical of the Bush Administration" in fact at that time they treated him like a rock star. So as usual, you are completely wrong, about everything.

Anonymous said...

Your story is an interesting one, but as most conspiracy tales go, it's a whole lot of opinion about who knew what and who didn't believe what and how the CIA and NSA weren't fooled, etc.

Now, the GWB poor grades issue is a known fact and I can appreciate facts. There are many successful people who didn't have good grades.

**Al Gore's grades weren't very good: a D, a C-minus, two C’s, two C-pluses, and a B-minus, marks that put him in the lowest fifth of his class during his sophomore year at Harvard.

**Biden ranked 506th out of 688 students in the University of Delaware’s class of 1965

**Kerry rang up D’s in geology, two history classes, and – strangely enough for a future Senator – political science. While Kerry’s 2004 campaign presented him as a more cerebral alternative to Bush, the two men’s grades at Yale were roughly equivalent.

**McCain’s classes knocked him out, though. His grades were so poor that in his graduating class of 899, he earned spot 894 in the rankings.