UPDATE for June 6, 2014
Maybe we can’t blame the Obama administration for all of what happened at the VA. Maybe the GOP is responsible for wrecking the VA medical system so it broke down and was failing in its mission long before Obama was sworn in as President and moved into the White House.
From Forbes, we learn: “In the “old days” of the VHA, before President Clinton, many of those eligible for care wouldn’t use the system – the care was considered sub-optimal. Through reforms implemented during the Clinton years by Dr. Kenneth Kizer, the VHA went through an amazing transformation – and patient enrollment surged. Great primary care, a beautiful and relatively easy to use electronic medical record, AND a culture of accountability. Veterans received wonderful care for a great price. Unfortunately, in 1999, the GOP made it clear they were going to refuse Dr. Kizer’s renomination, and instead of being slung through mud, he resigned and went to the private sector.”
UPDATE for June 4, 2014
ProPublica reports: “The scandal surrounding long wait times within the Veterans Affairs’ health care system has garnered national attention as VA secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amidst growing opposition to his leadership. To help make sense of the institutional problems that led to the scandal, we’ve compiled some of the best reporting about chronic issues of mismanagement in the VA.”
UPDATE for May 29, 2014
“An array of lawmakers from both parties called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign on Wednesday following the publication of a new report describing the “systemic” practice of mishandling medical appointments at a Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix that may have led to the deaths of 23 veterans.” – Foreign Policy Magazine
UPDATE for May 26, 2014
The American Legion reports that a Department of Veterans Affairs memorandum written four years ago warned that “inappropriate scheduling practices” were being used at some VA medical facilities “in order to improve scores on assorted access measures.” These practices were sometimes referred to as “gaming strategies.” The document, dated April 26, 2010, was written by William Schoenhard (appointed to the VA by President Obama in 2009), who then served as VA’s deputy under secretary for health operations and management. The nine-page memo lists several specific scheduling practices to avoid.
President Obama appointed Eric Shinseki as the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2009.
Arne Duncan, who is orchestrating the destruction and dismantling of the democratic U.S. Public schools was appointed by President Obama to be the US Secretary of Education in 2009.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was appointed by President Obama to lead the US Federal Communication Commission in 2013, and now he is attempting to end Internet Neutrality and allow corporations to control the Internet with pay to play power to choke anyone’s site from being easily accessed—a clear form of censorship.
Do you see the pattern here?
UPDATE for May 22, 2014
Only in this White House could a Cabinet Secretary (Eric Shinseki at the VA) get not just one but two public presidential statements of confidence. … as internal documents emerge ( a 2010 memo) showing that an agency (the VA) knew about fraud and left the problem to such an extent that people died while waiting for medical care. What does it take to get fired from a job in the Barack Obama Administration? (The Fiscal Times)
What does this tell us—that Arne Duncan after being connected to fraud and lies in the Department of Education will be with us until the end of 2016? See Smoking Gun 1 and 2 to discover the scandal at the Department of Education and how that is also being ignored. When will memos and e-mails of Duncan’s incompetence and fraud be splashed across the media, and when will Republicans (the GOP) admit that America’s public schools are the best in the world and the problem is poverty (see Smoking Gun)?
The GOP continues to hammer the Obama White House over four deaths in Benghazi (after several Congressional investigations find nothing that leads to the White House) but ignores that fact that children are dying in the public schools due to cutbacks thanks to Arne Duncan’s Department of Education spending billions on useless testing leading to full-time nurses losing their jobs in the schools. See: Another student dies after falling sick at Philly school with no nurse on duty
UPDATE May 20, 2014
The top official for veterans’ health care resigned Friday, as the Obama administration and Congress begin to respond to a growing political firestorm over allegations of treatment delays and falsified records at veterans’ hospitals nationwide. The House has scheduled a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki greater authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical Centers. (You may read the rest of this report @ Military.com http://www.military.com/veterans-report/steps-taken-to-address-va-firestorm?ESRC=vr.nl)
First published May 13, 2014:
What’s going on? First the Public Schools and now the VA!
First: Under President Clinton and a Congress dominated by a GOP majority, the Glass Steagall Act of 1933 that was meant to protect the United States from another Great Depression was repealed in 1999 leading to the Great Recession of 2007-08 under President G. W. Bush, the 2nd worse global financial disaster since the Great Depression.
Second: President G. W. Bush—with approval from a GOP dominated Congress—enacts the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act and the U.S. Government declares war on its own Public Schools under the false claims that the public schools are failing when they aren’t.
Third: President Obama, with overwhelming approval from Congress enacts Race to the Top in 2009 along with the Common Core Standards as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act escalating the White House’s war on Public Education to Machiavellian levels.
Fourth: In early April 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court—dominated by a conservative majority—wipes out the overall limit on what a wealthy donor can give to political parties and federal candidates during an election cycle with the McCutcheon decision. This ruling reinforced the unwritten iron law that now prevails in American politics: Pay to Play
Fifth: A very real threat to Net Neutrality. Network neutrality is basically the principle that Internet access providers—[including] companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast—shouldn’t discriminate in how they handle traffic on the Internet. And without this neutrality, the Internet also becomes “Pay to Play” or vanish into obscurity.
Sixth: Now medical care through the Veterans Administration (VA)! Since the late 1990s under President Bill Clinton, the VA became an efficient model medical care system, and President Obama can’t reform something that works so what’s the best way to change that? The answer: make sure it needs reforming by introducing corruption through the VA’s top leaders.
The Obama Administration and the Congress seem hell bent to privatize government. The public schools are in the middle of an all-out war with the federal government to turn education over to private sector Charter schools that are riddled with corruption and mostly worse than the public schools. It also seems that the VA is under attack as services and support has been eroding under the Obama White House and Congress.
Does this mean the VA has also been targeted to be privatized just like the public schools, prison systems, and even the military? After all, if the VA failed to provide adequate services, then the White House will have an excuse to demand reforms and that usually means privatization.
The American Legion.org reports: “At a May 5 press conference in Indianapolis, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger called for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (appointed by President Obama in 2009), as well as Robert Petzel (appointed in 2010) and Allison Hickey (appointed in 2011), VA’s undersecretaries for health and benefits, respectively. It was a decision the Legion arrived at gradually, after years of support. …
“Dellinger noted two of the most recent revelations that finally convinced him that top VA leadership in Washington needed to change: allegations that the Phoenix VA medical center kept a secret list of patients waiting months for medical care, which was linked by CNN to preventable deaths of about 40 veterans; and findings by a VA investigation that workers at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., had been instructed on how to falsify appointment records. …
“The American Legion expects when such errors and lapses are discovered, that they are dealt with swiftly and that the responsible parties are held accountable,” Dellinger said. “This has not happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There needs to be a change, and that change needs to occur at the top.”
The American Legion may demand changes within the VA but the problem originates from the White House and a neo-liberal president and his administration, who have clearly signaled that they are allied with neo-conservatives in the Republican Party with a common goal to privatize most if not all of government services.
Once the VA, the public schools, the military and the prisons are turned over to private sector, for profit corporations, does that mean the Constitution and Bill of Rights will be meaningless. After all, what the Founding Fathers wrote in 1776 was meant to protect all U.S. citizens from their own elected government and not private sector corporations (that didn’t exist in the 18th century) run by billionaire oligarchs and CEO autocrats.
For instance, the 1st Amendment freedom of speech protections only protects Americans from their elected federal and state governments. The 2nd Amendment’s right to own and bear arms also protects America’s citizens only from our elected governments—the feds and the states can’t legally take away a citizen’s right to own firearms.
But what happens when there is only a puppet government owned by the wealthiest 1% of Americans and all federal and state services have been turned over to, for instance, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, the Koch brothers, the (Wall-Mart) Walton family, and Hedge Fund billionaire’s on Wall Street?
Imagine what will happen if the IRS is turned over to Microsoft or Rupert Murdock’s Media Corp; if the U.S. Forest Service is privatized and turned over to the Koch brothers, and if President Obama is successful in doing away with Internet Neutrality.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.
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