Friday Mashup (5/9/14)

May 9, 2014
  • This from clownhall.com tells us the following (with the understated headline of “Guns Don’t Cause Gang Violence – Democrats Do”)…

    Between Friday night, and Sunday evening, 28 people had been shot in Rahm Emanuel’s gun control utopia (Chicago). Which, unbelievably, shows an improvement over the previous weekend, which tacked on more than 40 gunshot victims to the city’s climbing statistics. And, heck, with the CPD’s recent scandal surrounding how they classify various crimes, it almost makes you wonder if these numbers are more “ballpark” figures than actual stats.

    I mean, heck, (gun control) hasn’t exactly worked out that well so far, but why not double down? Right? The fact is, the failure of Liberalism has brought the city to its current state of deterioration. The Chicago model of unconstitutional restrictions on keeping and bearing arms has done little more than add fuel to the fire. Politicians, meanwhile, have been more than happy to ignore the easily identifiable, but politically tricky, origins of gang violence, and criminal activity.

    Yeah, well, this is part and parcel of the wingnut caterwauling on guns I realize. However, did you know that the state of Illinois recently passed a concealed carry law, as noted here?

    Well then, isn’t the Michael Schaus post proof, then, that concealed carry leads to more crime?

    And as noted here, the NRA is pushing for a national concealed carry law that would override other more sensible state laws (the party of “state’s rights” strikes again, considering how “simpatico” the NRA is with the “party of Lincoln”). Which is all part and parcel of this (and by the way, Politifact strikes again on the whole “half true” thing – the U.S. has the highest gun casualty rate among “other affluent nations on a per capita basis,” so that settles it as far as I’m concerned).

  • Next, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” is back to inflict the following (here)…

    The qualifications of a Tommy “Dude” Vietor or Ben Rhodes that placed them in the Situation Room during Obama-administration crises were not years of distinguished public service, military service, prior elected office, a string of impressive publications, an academic career, previous diplomatic postings, or any of the usual criteria that have placed others at the nerve center of America in times of crisis. Their trajectory was based on yeoman partisan PR work, and largely on being young, hip, and well-connected politically. I don’t think either of these operatives has a particular worldview or competency that would promote the interests of the United States. But they do talk well, know the right people, and are hip. Again, they have no real expertise or even ideology other than that.

    (The “Dude” reference, for the uninitiated, has to do with Vietor pretty much laughing off more BENGHAZI!!! idiocy from Bret Baier of Fix Noise, which I think was definitely the correct response.)

    So a certain V.D. Hanson is criticizing Vietor and Rhodes because of their ascent in the Obama Administration from a background of “yeoman partisan PR work.”

    Well then, let’s take a look at Obama’s ruinous predecessor, as long as Hanson has opened that “can of worms”:

  • Longtime Bushie Karen Hughes was a “communications strategist” who, as a member of the White House Iraq Group, helped to sell Number 43’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq (here).
  • And speaking of the quagmire in Mesopotamia, former PR flak Dan Bartlett once said that his boss “never had a ‘stay the course’ strategy” here (liar).
  • When it comes to PR and marketing, though, I don’t think either Hughes or Bartlett can top Andrew Card, who rose to Chief of Staff and notoriously said here that “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August” in response to the question of why Bushco started beating the drums for war in Iraq in earnest in September 2002.
  • Given this, I would say that, when it comes to “yeoman partisan PR work,” Vietor and Rhodes are chumps by comparison (and speaking of Iraq, more “fun” with Hanson is here).

  • Further, I think it’s time to take a look at some true revisionist wingnuttery on The Sainted Ronnie R, first from Michael Barone here

    Second-term presidents over the last generation have tried, with varying results, to achieve breakthroughs. Ronald Reagan, after cutting tax rates in his first term, called for further cuts combined with elimination of tax preferences that had encrusted the tax code.

    House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski and Senate Finance chairman Bob Packwood — a Democrat and a Republican — achieved a historic breakthrough with the tax-reform legislation of 1986, thanks in part to intensive coaching from Treasury Secretary James Baker.

    See, the point of Barone’s screed is that Obama isn’t being “bipartisan” enough for his liking, with Barone’s definition of “bipartisan” being, apparently, to get beaten up and let the Republicans do whatever they want (Barone lists other examples of supposed “bipartisanship” that got things done in Washington).

    I guess that, living in the world of reality, it may not be necessary to point out at every opportunity to you, dear reader, that Number 40 raised taxes a dozen times, as noted here. However, since the other side is constantly trying to form reality to their twisted worldview, I believe that I must engage in this exercise.

    And sticking with the decade in which Reagan took up space in An Oval Office, this post from The Daily Tucker discusses a TV program called “The Americans,” which I guess has to do with Soviet-era spies living in this country.

    So what is this show about, exactly…

    In one recent scene, for example, KGB agent Elizabeth goes off on a standard 80s liberal spiel about the Nicaragua war, complete with hypocritical sympathy for Catholic nuns and dissident journalists.

    Well OK then – it looks like this Will Rahn person isn’t a big fan of ‘80s-era political activism in particular.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    I first confronted this pattern while covering Reagan’s hard-line policies toward Central America. The lies started just weeks after Reagan’s 1980 election, when four American churchwomen were raped and murdered by government security forces in rightist-ruled El Salvador.

    On the night of Dec. 2, 1980, two of the women, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, drove a white mini-van to the international airport outside San Salvador. There, they picked up Ita Ford and Maura Clarke who had attended a conference in Nicaragua.

    Leaving the airport, the van turned onto the road that heads into the capital city. At a roadblock, a squad of soldiers stopped the van and took the women into custody. After a phone call apparently to a superior officer, the sergeant in charge said the orders were to kill the women. The soldiers raped them first and then executed the women with high-powered rifles.

    The atrocity was only one of hundreds committed each month by the Salvadoran security forces in a “dirty war” against leftists and their suspected supporters, a conflict that was more mass murder than a war, a butchery that would eventually claim some 70,000 lives. The Dec. 2 atrocity stood out only because Americans were the victims.

    The proper response from U.S. officials would have seemed obvious: to join U.S. Ambassador Robert White in denouncing the brutal rape and murder of four American citizens. But the incoming Reagan foreign policy team didn’t see it that way; Reagan was on the side of the rightist Salvadoran military.

    So, the rape-murder was treated like a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s choice for United Nations ambassador, depicted the victims as “not just nuns. The nuns were political activists – on behalf of the [leftist opposition] Frente.”

    Kirkpatrick’s implication was that it wasn’t all that bad to rape and murder “political activists.”

    And as far as the “Fourth Estate” is concerned (here)…

    To conceal the truth about the war crimes of Central America, Reagan also authorized a systematic program of distorting information and intimidating American journalists.

    Called “public diplomacy” or “perception management,” the project was run by a CIA propaganda veteran, Walter Raymond Jr., who was assigned to the National Security Council staff. The explicit goal of the operation was to manage U.S. “perceptions” of the wars in Central America.

    The project’s key operatives developed propaganda “themes,” selected “hot buttons” to excite the American people, cultivated pliable journalists who would cooperate and bullied reporters who wouldn’t go along.

    The best-known attacks were directed against New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing Salvadoran army massacres of civilians, including the slaughter of more than 800 men, women and children in El Mozote in December 1981.

    But Bonner was not alone. Reagan’s operatives pressured scores of reporters and their editors in an ultimately successful campaign to minimize information about these human rights crimes reaching the American people. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

    The tamed reporters, in turn, gave the administration a far freer hand to pursue its anticommunist operations throughout Central America.

    Despite the tens of thousands of civilian deaths and now-corroborated accounts of massacres and genocide, not a single senior military officer in Central America was held accountable for the bloodshed.

    The U.S. officials who sponsored and encouraged these war crimes not only escaped any legal judgment, but remained highly respected figures in Washington. Reagan has been honored as few recent presidents have.

    The journalists who played along by playing down the atrocities — the likes of Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer — saw their careers skyrocket, while those who told the truth suffered severe consequences.

    And given the BENGHAZI!!! fever currently sweeping the “leadership” of the U.S. House, I think this is a timely article.

  • Continuing, it looks like VA head Eric Shinseki (who, once again, is a huge improvement over his Bushco counterpart) is in hot water, as noted here

    (Reuters) – Two Republican senators on Tuesday joined veterans groups in calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign amid claims that up to 40 people died while waiting for treatment in the U.S. veterans’ healthcare system.

    Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, said the Veterans Affairs Department needed a “true transformation … from top to bottom.”

    “I ask the secretary to submit his resignation and I ask President (Barack) Obama to accept that resignation,” Moran said on the Senate floor.

    Assistant Senate Republican leader John Cornyn said: “The president needs to find a new leader to lead this organization out of the wilderness, and back to providing the service our veterans deserve.”

    As noted here, Cornyn voted against a bill to provide $12 billion in medical, educational and job-training benefits for our veterans returning from the wars (to be fair, Moran voted Yes as noted here).

    However, it’s not as if the Kansas senator doesn’t have his own baggage in these matters. He gave conditional-at-best support here to the military sexual assault bill sponsored by Dem Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Moran also voted against the Veterans with Disabilities Act (here), despite the request from former Kansas Sen. (and WWII-disabled vet, of course) Bob Dole that Moran and everyone else in the U.S. Senate support it.

    The Reuters story also tells us the following…

    The American Legion, the biggest U.S. veterans’ group, and Concerned Veterans for America called on Monday for Shinseki, a former Army general twice wounded in Vietnam, to step down.

    I’m not going to take issue with The American Legion, but Concerned Veterans for America…hmmm…

    Oh yeah – as noted here, that’s another “dark money” front group for Chuck and Dave Koch (kind of like “Concerned Women of America” who are apparently trying to torpedo a women’s history museum sponsored by Dem Carolyn Maloney and Repug Marsha Blackburn (!), as noted here, with “Moon Unit” Bachmann opposing it even though the plan is for her to be featured in an exhibit – way too funny).

    Returning to the main topic, I don’t know if Gen. Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. However, I think it’s more than a bit hypocritical to blame only him for trying to clean up a mess originated by our prior ruling cabal (which he, among a very select few – and more’s the pity on that – actually stood up to, as noted here).

  • Finally (and speaking of war), I give you former Bushco U.N. rep John “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton (here, with what you might call some “crackpot history” in concert with his claim that President Obama’s recent far east tour didn’t go well since Obama looked tired, or something)…

    In 1932, Secretary of State Henry Stimson declared his “non-recognition” doctrine regarding Japanese aggression in China and subsequent annexations. Although politically symbolic, Stimson’s high-collared moralisms did nothing to deter further Japanese expansionism.

    Years later, when President Roosevelt finally imposed sanctions that could actually inhibit Japan’s military, the increasing likelihood of war against the Nazis was apparent. Pearl Harbor followed, but one can ask if stronger U.S. Asia policies in the 1930’s might have caused a different result.

    Yes, “one” can ask indeed if “one” were a total moron, I suppose. As noted from here

    In 1933, President (Franklin D.) Roosevelt proposed a Congressional measure that would have granted him the right to consult with other nations to place pressure on aggressors in international conflicts. The bill ran into strong opposition from the leading isolationists in Congress, including progressive politicians such as Senators Hiram Johnson of California, William Borah of Idaho, and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. In 1935, controversy over U.S. participation in the World Court elicited similar opposition. As tensions rose in Europe over Nazi Germany’s aggressive maneuvers, Congress pushed through a series of Neutrality Acts, which served to prevent American ships and citizens from becoming entangled in outside conflicts. Roosevelt lamented the restrictive nature of the acts, but because he still required Congressional support for his domestic New Deal policies, he reluctantly acquiesced.

    The isolationists were a diverse group, including progressives and conservatives, business owners and peace activists, but because they faced no consistent, organized opposition from internationalists, their ideology triumphed time and again. Roosevelt appeared to accept the strength of the isolationist elements in Congress until 1937. In that year, as the situation in Europe continued to grow worse and the Second Sino-Japanese War began in Asia, the President gave a speech in which he likened international aggression to a disease that other nations must work to “quarantine.” At that time, however, Americans were still not prepared to risk their lives and livelihoods for peace abroad. Even the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 did not suddenly diffuse popular desire to avoid international entanglements. Instead, public opinion shifted from favoring complete neutrality to supporting limited U.S. aid to the Allies short of actual intervention in the war. The surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 served to convince the majority of Americans that the United States should enter the war on the side of the Allies.

    And as noted from here

    By 1940, the (Second Sino-Japanese) war descended into stalemate. The Japanese seemed unable to force victory, nor the Chinese to evict the Japanese from the territory they had conquered. But western intervention in the form of economic sanctions (most importantly oil) against Japan would transform the nature of the war. It was in response to these sanctions that Japan decided to attack America at Pearl Harbor, and so initiate World War II in the Far East.

    OK, so, to review:

  • Sanctions against Japan were probably necessary in hindsight, but to try and make the argument that Roosevelt sought them too late and Pearl Harbor might have been prevented is ridiculous. If anything, if sanctions had been imposed earlier, an attack might have happened earlier (again, not saying that sanctions were wrong) when we would have been less adequately prepared to fight it than we were.
  • As the article states above, there was not enough of a “push back” against the isolationist sentiment Roosevelt faced across the political spectrum at home after World War I. And he needed those same senators opposing military action to support the New Deal.
  • I’m not a bit surprised, however, to find out that Bolton knows nothing about that period of history, given that he finished his column with the following (again, using this totally inaccurate reading to justify another attack on Number 44)…

    In December, 1937, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of all people observed that, “It is always best and safest to count on nothing from the Americans but words.”

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    And the fact that Bolton would say that without a single word of acknowledgment of the price this country paid to defeat the Axis Powers in World War II (particularly repugnant as we approach Memorial Day) tells you how callow and ignorant he truly is.


  • Wednesday Mashup (10/24/12)

    October 24, 2012
  • Mikey The Beloved’s PR’s service notified us of the following recently (here)…

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is criticizing the Veterans Administration for awarding bonuses to employees at a time when there’s a massive disability claims backlog, improper payments have made national news and a systematic pattern of mail destruction is plaguing the agency.

    Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, said the Philadelphia regional office, where the problems have occurred, has received $1.4 million worth of bonuses in the past three years.

    “These are taxpayer dollars being spent to reward a system that is in chronic failure,” he said. “If employees at the Veterans Administration are getting bonuses when they’re failing, what incentive do they have to fix the problem, and who’s holding them accountable?”

    By the way, it should be noted that the bonuses were discovered by the VA’s Inspector General, not Congress, something Mikey’s loyal stenographer Gary Weckselblatt dutifully omitted (here), leaving the reader the impression that Mikey and his pals in Congress somehow discovered it themselves. It should also be noted that a bill has been introduced to curb VA bonuses, as noted here.

    All of this is nothing but typical grandstanding, though, when you find out that the party of Fitzpatrick, Boehner, Cantor, Todd Akin, etc. decided that veterans’ benefits should be on the budgetary “chopping block,” as noted here. And it’s not as if Mikey has such a shining voting record concerning our vets, as noted here.

    Besides, does Mikey really want a comparison between current VA head Eric Shinseki and Bushco’s Jim Nicholson (here)? It looks like the current benchmark is 125 days to turnaround claims, but it was 145-150 under Bushco (still too long, but better). And this tells us how Nicholson underestimated VA funding requirements by $2.6 billion, expecting to provide care originally for about 25,000 of our military in 2005, though he ended up having to more than quadruple that figure. Oh, and there was that matter of veterans’ info that fell prey to identity theft under Nicholson’s tenure also (here).

    And for good measure, this tells you about Number 44’s efforts overall on behalf of our veterans.

    If you’re as fed up with Mikey’s antics as I am (not just on veterans issues, but everything), then click here to donate to Kathy Boockvar or help with the “get out the vote” effort (less than two weeks to go).

  • Next, I give you the following from one of Mikey’s U.S. House playmates, and that would be Sam Graves of Missouri (here – I can’t find anyone running against Graves, so I assume he’s unopposed; love to be wrong because Graves needs an opponent)…

    The Obama administration’s relentless government expansion has become a disturbing pattern. Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) report today (October 23) is a devastating list of the president’s failures and misplaced policies. The common thread is the drastic expansion of government’s role, without being too picky about the means. The attitude seems to be that nothing can or should stand in the way of this big government agenda – not the law, not the people’s representatives, not the deliberative legislative process envisioned by our nation’s founders.

    As chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I follow closely the effect of these decisions on small businesses. Job creators are frozen by the Administration’s tax and regulatory policies, and the fear of more.

    Taxes are a big part of the cloud of uncertainty looming over our job creators.

    To begin, I don’t know how Graves can claim that Obama has “expanded” government when he has, in fact, shrunk it, so much so that he was actually attacked for that in a campaign ad by Willard Mitt Romney and Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv here. On top of that, this tells us that two Goldman Sachs economists pointed out that “uncertainty” is just a normal part of an economic recovery, and we’re starting to come out of that (with the caveat being that I personally don’t consider our repeated cycle over the last 30 years or so of going from bubble to bust economically as “normal”).

    Here is more on Graves, including his support for “Jesus Q. Nutbar,” otherwise known as Todd Akin, his vote in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (abortion already isn’t federally funded because of the Hyde Amendment – this is a recording), his vote in favor of a government shutdown over the debt ceiling hissy fit even though he voted to raise the debt ceiling in 2004, etc.

    As I always say, there are people out there who actually vote for these characters.

  • And speaking of characters, the Old Gray Lady recently opined here on The Republican Former 43rd President Who Shall Not Be Named…

    He does not speak on the stump or appear in television ads. Campaign audiences rarely hear his name.

    But aside from President Obama and Mitt Romney, no one has shaped the 2012 election more than George W. Bush — on the economy and on the foreign policy issues in the spotlight during the final presidential debate on Monday.

    For Mr. Romney, the battered reputation of Mr. Bush represents a burden to minimize in a tight race for the White House. The two have not appeared together this year.

    When an audience member asked about Mr. Bush in the debate last week, Mr. Romney separated himself from what he characterized as Mr. Bush’s shortcomings on the budget deficit and on trade with China.

    For Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush’s economic record offers a shield against voters’ wrath over high unemployment and slow growth; majorities in polls describe the nation’s economic woes as something the incumbent inherited rather than caused.

    Continuing…

    Mr. Bush’s former aides chafe at criticism of his record from fellow Republicans, as well as from Democrats. Tony Fratto, a spokesman in the Bush White House and the Treasury Department, rebutted both of Mr. Romney’s barbs from the debate last week.

    “There are good reasons why we didn’t balance the budget,” like the fight against terrorism, Mr. Fratto said. On trade, “we were very effective with the Chinese” in paving the way for a rise in the value of its currency, to the benefit of American businesses.

    Oh, by the way, I should note that this column was written by John Harwood. That explains the cowardly tactic of paraphrasing a supposed reason from a former Bushie, basically acting as Fratto’s stenographer instead of showing the courage of whatever convictions Harwood has and making Fratto go on the record with an exact quote.

    Also, It’s funny to hear Fratto justify, on the one hand, whatever it was that Dubya supposedly did for China’s currency (color me skeptical on that one), while, on the other hand, Romany criticizes China as a currency manipulator here (actually getting something right for a change…see “Blind Squirrel” and “Nut”). Which one is it?

    The real howler from Fratto, though, is the line about how the GLOBAL WAR ON TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! was supposedly responsible for Dubya’s wretched non-management of our government’s finances under his watch; this provides the reality point of view on that subject (#3 in particular).

  • I guess that’s a bit of a transition to this idiocy from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Election ’12: From Moscow to Caracas to Havana, something disturbing is happening: Dictators with long records of enmity toward the U.S. are endorsing Obama for president. What does that say about the Obama presidency?

    Fresh from abusing Venezuela’s opposition after his own rigged re-election, Chavez declared, “If I were American, I would vote for Obama. He is my candidate.” It was his second direct endorsement of Obama in a week. After that, he spooled off his plans to impose socialism on his country.

    Around the same time, Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s ruling communist capo Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, told CNN: “As a citizen of the world, I would like for (Obama) to win.”

    She added: “Obama deserves a second chance and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects which I believe come from the heart.”

    One or two silly endorsements from movie stars or Honey Boo Boo are one thing.

    But with this president, there’s a sustained and disturbing pattern of America’s enemies signaling preference for Obama over the alternative as U.S. president.

    In the case of Chavez and the Castro oligarchs, it’s obvious enough that Obama governs in a way that resembles their own — increasing state employees and state dependency, ruling by decree, singling out companies for punishment, and engaging in a cult of personality where the state is replaced by the leader.

    You want to talk about presidents and dictators, IBD? Really?

    OK, then, let’s go way back to here, where Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger endorsed the murderous brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, playing a role in the coup that ousted Socialist (for real) Chilean President Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet, igniting a “reign of terror which Pinochet’s secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe.”

    Also, let’s go here, where The Sainted Ronnie R made nice with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and our former pal in Iraq, none other than Saddam Hussein himself.

    And as far as Reagan’s “son” is concerned, the following should be noted from here, according to human rights attorney Scott Horton, as well as Glenn Greenwald (doing Tricky Dick and The Gipper each one better, you could say)…

    “We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it.”

    And as far as Obama “increasing state employees” (not totally sure what “state” IBD is talking about here)…well, once again, I give you the reality point of view here.

  • Finally, I give you the latest from the right wing umbrage factory, The Daily Tucker in particular (here)…

    If you ever wanted a glimpse into potentially just how rabidly left-of-center your average MSNBC viewer is, you had an opportunity this morning during the “What have we learned today?” segment on “Morning Joe.”

    As the Tuesday broadcast of “Morning Joe” was wrapping up, co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced viewers to 9-year-old Annabelle.

    “I have Annabelle,” Brzezinski said. “She is nine and a half. She has four brothers so she kind of feels my pain this morning. But Annabelle, who do you think should win the election, Annabelle?”

    Annabelle replied, “Mitt Romney,” which was met with a chorus of boos on the show’s live set at Racks Downtown Eatery and Tavern in Boca Raton, Fla.’s Mizner Park.

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl?” co-host Willie Geist said. “Clean it up.”

    Um, if you actually watch the video, you’ll see people laughing over it, OK? In other words, it…was…a…joke.

    (By the way, if you want to hear an audience booing someone or voicing disapproval for real over a political matter, click here.)

    Oh, and I give you this from the Daily Tucker item…

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl, a lot of these people must have come down from Philly or something,” Time magazine’s Joe Klein added.

    Oh, ha and ha, Joe (yes, we know the “short hand” by heart…Philly, the place where they booed Santa Claus, etc., etc.).

    Well, maybe I’m being a little thin-skinned myself here I’ll admit, but as long as Klein is bad-mouthing Philadelphia, let me share this item I happened to come across recently (here)…

    We can all agree that Philly gets a bad rap in the national media, especially when we witness wedding parties duking it out at the Society Hill Sheraton (“One dead, 3 held in wedding free-for-all,” Oct. 8). However, just a few blocks away, a number of Philadelphians showed their true colors.

    My 19-year-old daughter, a freshman at Drexel University, was out with one of her classmates on Church Street in Old City on the afternoon of Oct. 4. Her classmate (a Dallas native) was a few steps ahead when my daughter started to black out and have a seizure. A passerby saw what was happening and quickly caught her just before her head hit the sidewalk. Her friend turned around to see my daughter convulsing on the sidewalk. The friend then saw people pour out of nearby shops, offering assistance, bringing water and blankets, and calling 911. EMTs arrived within minutes and rushed her to the ER at Hahnemann.

    Fortunately, my daughter came out of it fairly quickly and is now OK.

    Her friend from Dallas was blown away at the random acts of kindness and how quickly everyone responded. As a parent, I thank God, the guardian angels watching over my daughter, and the good Samaritan who caught my daughter before she split her head open on the sidewalk.

    I am equally thankful for the other Philadephians who stepped up, did the right thing, and showed my daughter how kind and caring we can be as residents of this great city. This story will never make the national media, but it is a story that will be in our hearts for all eternity.

    John Pogas
    Hatfield, PA

    And if I were to venture a guess, I’m sure there were more than a few sports fans in the crowd that came to the aid of the daughter of Mr. Pogas.

    One more thing – I’m sure none of the people in Boca Raton Klein was bitching about ever acted as sock puppets for one-time U.S. House Rep Pete Hoekstra (here).


  • A “Heal The Vet” “Reset” At The VA?

    August 27, 2009

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    This AP story tells us the following…

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs now estimates that more than 600 veterans erroneously received letters telling them they had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said Thursday.

    As a result of the panic the letters caused, the agency plans to create a more rigorous screening process for its notification letters and is offering to reimburse veterans for medical expenses incurred as a result of the letters.

    “That’s the least they can do,” said former Air Force reservist Gale Reid in Montgomery, Ala. She racked up more than $3,000 in bills for medical tests last week to get a second opinion. Her civilian doctor concluded she did not have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    ALS is a rapidly progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling muscles and typically kills people within five years.

    This takes us to the VA home page where there is a Q&A on the ALS-related mixup at the bottom, including the following (the explanation provided here is a computer glitch)…

    Why did Veterans who do not have ALS get letters?

    • VA used data and information from its data base to identify Veterans diagnosed with ALS or who had filed a claim for ALS, but were not currently receiving disability compensation benefits for the condition. However, as a result of problems in the codes VA used to identify these Veterans, VA sent the letter to some Veterans who do not have ALS.

    What is VA doing to correct the mistake?

    • We are working to identify the specific problems that caused the misidentification of Veterans records. We will ensure any future data extracts for similar outreach purposes are properly formulated and independently validated to prevent these types of problems in the future.

    What will VA do to prevent this from happening again?

    • As a result of this incident, VA is creating a more rigorous process that includes thorough and careful screening of the data, comprehensive review and approval process that will include involvement from our stakeholders before release of notifications letters.

    This 2005 story tells us that Bushco and the Republican-controlled Congress tried to make changes to the VA’s computer recordkeeping system, but ran into predictable results…

    A $3.5-billion computer overhaul at veterans’ hospitals across the country is poised to fail unless the Department of Veterans Affairs makes drastic changes, according to a closely guarded government study obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.

    The multiyear project is designed to modernize almost all phases of hospital computing at the VA, including appointment schedules, lab reports, drug prescriptions and a clinical record system already widely admired as one of the best in the world.

    But a February report by Carnegie Mellon University, which the VA hired to evaluate the computer conversion, says the ambitious undertaking – known as HealtheVet, or HeV – is “not viable” and an “unacceptably high risk.”

    And if the project fails, the VA could not deliver timely medical care to 5-million veterans, another internal VA document says. The result would be “gridlock.”

    “The VA must rethink HealtheVet,” says the Carnegie Mellon report. “Current plans are not realistic given the complexity and magnitude of HeV and the VA’s ability” to carry out those plans.

    And this story from about a year ago tells us that “HealtheVet” was “far from complete,” in particular…

    Without an integrated plan that includes independently validated cost estimates, VA increases the risk that HealtheVet could incur cost increases and continued schedule slippages and not achieve its intended outcomes. Various levels and types of oversight are currently being provided for the HealtheVet initiative by business owners, developers, and departmental information technology governance boards. However, the business owners have not yet implemented a complete governance structure, several key leadership positions within the developers’ organization are either vacant or filled with acting personnel, and the governance boards have not yet scheduled critical reviews of HealtheVet projects. Until all elements of governance and oversight are in place, the risk to the success of the HealtheVet initiative is increased.

    And it’s not as if former Bushco VA Secretary Jim Nicholson was completely truthful on other agency-related matters to Congress (here and here). But in the matter of “HealtheVet,” Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers For Common Sense said in the 2005 story that…

    “At this time of record-high budget deficits, it makes sense that agencies of the federal government be extra vigilant with taxpayers’ money,” Nelson wrote. “Not addressing potential problems with a national health-data repository now could lead to another fiscal disaster.”

    “It’s horrifying, billions of dollars at stake and it seems nobody is minding the ship over there.”

    I will acknowledge that a conversion of medical data on the scale of “HealtheVet” is a daunting task for anyone regardless of their political affiliation. However, we had years to get this right when we were under Republican “governance,” and the massive ALS screwup, though perhaps not a “smoking gun,” is at the very least evidence that Secretary Shinseki should testify to Congress exactly at what state of operational readiness we are – or aren’t – as this stage of the “HealtheVet” initiative.

    (No posting tomorrow, by the way – talk amongst yourselves…)


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