Meanwhile, Back in Reality

With the Trump campaign in full meltdown, it’s easy to miss some of the other big news going around. At any other time, these would be our headlines.

  • We are practically in a shooting war with Yemen.
  • Obama is claiming he fired a bunch of people over the VA scandal. This is a lie. Only three were actually fired. One was suspended, one firing was reversed, three retired, five resigned and two were demoted. If a political campaign fired that many people, it wouldn’t even make the news.
  • And in probably the scariest news, tensions are escalating with Russia, with the Russians moving nuclear missile submarines and recalling overseas personnel. Just as a reminder: one of our major Presidential candidates has proposed getting into a shooting war with the Russians over Syria. Over Syria. And it was not Donald Trump who said that.

This is yet another reason why I was opposed to the radioactive hamster. If the GOP had nominated Rubio, the October Surprise would be his overdue water bill and he’d be hitting Clinton hard on Russia. If the GOP had even nominated Bush, we’d be talking about some minor dumb thing he did as governor and he’d be hitting Clinton hard on the VA. Instead, we’re talking about Trump’s serial groping and total ignorance of policy. Look at all three of those stories — major challenges that will face the next President — and tell me that you trust either of these two jackanapes to handle them.

Wednesday Quick Hits

A few stories that have been lurking in my tabs:

  • Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return was leaked last week and showed a nearly billion dollar loss that he could have used to offset profits for years and thus pay no tax. It’s perfectly legitimate to criticize Trump for losing a billion dollars and proclaiming himself to be a business genius. Criticizing the NOL rule, however, is insanity. Allowing businesses to carry losses into future years allows them to navigate sometimes uncertain business waters without going bankrupt. Criticizing the rule because of Trump is sheer wealth envy. Trump should be making this point.
  • You remember the Phoenix VA scandal? Well, the government responded to this disaster by … funding the VA more generously, firing no one and appointing a new manager who had a series of failures. Stunningly, this has not worked. Coyote Blog reminds us that this is how government works. Failure means you get more funding and more people. Success means budget cuts.
  • An Iowa prosecutor wants to hit a 14-year-old with kiddie porn charges for taking non-nude pictures of herself. This is insanity. And it will not stop until we start shitcanning prosecutors who abuse their power this way.
  • John Oliver had a good show on police accountability.

More to come …

The VA Scandal

I’m glad that we are finally getting some attention paid to the scandal at the Veterans Administration. Vox has a rundown:

Flawed policies at the US Department of Veteran Affairs might be hurting — and in some cases killing — American veterans.

The ongoing crisis began after allegations surfaced that poor scheduling practices in a Phoenix, Arizona, VA hospital might have led to the deaths of more than 40 veterans. The issue has drawn national attention, pulling in congressional leaders, veterans’ advocates, and even the Obama administration.

Here’s what was happening: the Phoenix VA was getting backlogged with sick and wounded veterans. Their response to this was to lie about the situation. The created a bogus wait list they could use to claim that veterans were being seen within a couple of weeks of needing a doctor. All the while, they maintained a secret wait list that had the actual wait times, which were frequently months. When wait listed veterans died, they simply struck their name from the secret wait list. And there are hints that his may have been going on at three other location. At least.

The thing is, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. The problems at the VA have been obvious for over a decade. Reason made a video about it last year. The VA has always had issues but those have only gotten worse with the two recent wars. You may remember that someone estimated the long-term cost of the Iraq War might be in the neighborhood of $6 trillion, once veterans benefits and healthcare were factored in? Well, Congress and the VA have not made any allowance for the tens of thousands of wounded coming back from our wars. And this is the result: neglect, secret wait lists, cover-up, scandal.

So far, the response has been to prepare Eric Shinseki for retirement under the nearest convenient bus. But the blame for this can only be partially laid at his door. Part of the blame goes to a Congress that hasn’t given the VA the funds they need. And part of the blame goes to the Administration, who are now acting all surprised that the system they run has problems (and who I’m sure had no reason whatsoever to conceal the failings of the system they have held up as a model for the rest of the country).

This is big. And I’m hoping that this will finally focus some attention on the disgraceful state of the VA.