Friday Mashup (5/23/14)

May 23, 2014

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  • This from Fix Noise tells us the following…

    Four years have passed since President Obama visited Kansas City’s main airport, rolled up his shirt sleeves and admonished the skeptics who said Smith Electric Vehicles was unlikely to make good on its promises to build 510 experimental electric-powered trucks and buses suitable for commercial use.

    “Come see what’s going on at Smith Electric,” the president said, inspecting a table full of bright green truck batteries in what was once a maintenance hangar for TWA. “I think they’re going to be hard-pressed to tell you that you’re not better off than you would be if we hadn’t made the investments in this plant.”

    The skeptics turned out to be right.

    Despite $32 million in federal stimulus funds and status as one of Obama’s favorite “green” companies, the firm has halted production, having built just 439 of the promised 510 vehicles.

    Gee, “just” 439 out of 510? That happens to be “just” 86 percent, for those of you playing along at home (and the story also tells us that production of the vehicles may resume this summer…money is slow in the pipeline these days, and that’s definitely affecting manufacturing, among other industries).

    I’m not going to say much about the “follow the money” stuff in the linked Washington Examiner story (from Fox), alleging that Smith “stiffed” the “Missouri University of Science and Technology, the state government, and a local electrical supply company, as well as its landlord, the Kansas City city government.” Also adding to the complicated financial picture is the fact that Smith is apparently an American subsidiary of a British firm. The Examiner article alleges impropriety, but upon a couple of reviews, I think there’s no “there” there (sounds to me like some financial stuff that would be normal for a lot of other established firms…I’m open to an opposing point of view on that one).

    I mainly want to point out that how the wingnuts have been attacking the Obama Energy Department and their loans to electric car manufacturers for a little while now, including here where the number of companies that applied for loans versus the number that actually received DOE loans was flipped on purpose (all part and parcel from this playbook).

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    Actually, this issue gives me an excuse to plug this great documentary from a few years ago, telling us that, among other things, we were on track for electric cars in this country before a certain President With The Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History sent us on a merry goose chase in search of hydrogen cars (more on him later; of course, hybrid vehicles are flourishing now also – good news on that front).

  • Next, I give you more corporate media “SKY IS FALLING!!!” wankery from Matt Bai here (opining in part about a perhaps-inevitable Hillary Clinton presidential run)…

    The truth is that, leaving aside all this bravado about happy demographics and the disunion of Republicans, Democrats are scared out of their minds right now. The House is solidly out of reach. The Senate is slipping away. And the White House could be close behind, especially if Clinton doesn’t run, and if Republicans can rally around a credible candidate.

    I’ll admit that the odds are long on the Dems retaking the House, but I think it’s premature at best to say that such a goal is “out of reach,” partly for the reason noted here.

    And as far as the Senate “slipping away,” this tells us that, among other things, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan and former Dubya confidant/Repug lobbyist Ed Gillespie in Virginia aren’t faring too well (and while Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao has pulled out close races before, he’s not currently in a comfortable spot with Dem candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes – the slime is already at work, of course…I Googled Grimes and the first hit I got was a site proclaiming her a liberal, naturally, as well as “Obama’s Nominee for Kentucky”…OOOGA BOOGA, WINGNUTS! Blow that dog whistle a little louder, OK?).

    In addition, I give you the following from kos here

    Republicans are acting as if they’ve already won control of the next Senate, and the media appears happy to play along.

    But despite tens of millions of dollars in attack ads and the right wing’s religious certainty that ObamaCare will ride them to victory, a race-by-race look reveals that Democrats aren’t only competitive in this November’s Senate elections — they’re steadily improving.

    The math is simple: Republicans need to win six seats to take control of the Senate, and are prohibitive favorites in two Democratic-held seats: South Dakota and West Virginia. That means they have to win four of the six competitive Democratic seats — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina — while holding on to two endangered GOP seats in Georgia and Kentucky.

    On the macro level, Republicans are banking that discontent over the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s unpopularity will prove the keys to the majority. In both cases, the trends aren’t in the GOP’s favor.

    In Gallup polling, Obama’s unpopularity peaked in mid-February, with a 41 percent job approval rating and 54 percent disapproval rating. Early this week, that number was 45 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval, a 9-point shift.

    Similarly, the stunning early ObamaCare success — 8 million signups on the exchange and still counting — has already led to improving poll numbers across the board, like the ABC/Washington Post poll showing support of the law at 49 percent to 48 percent against. In November, the numbers were 40/57.

    I think those numbers are also borne out by this.

    And speaking of Senatorial races, it looks like “Wall Street Scott” Brown isn’t faring too well either (here, engaging in more trickery), despite Bai’s efforts to inflate his candidacy here – second bullet.

  • Further, I give you the latest right-wing propaganda on the Affordable Care Law (here, on the subject of so-called “risk corridors”)…

    The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

    The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.

    Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a “bailout” for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.

    They continue to argue that most insurers shouldn’t need to substantially increase premiums because safeguards in the healthcare law will protect them over the next several years.

    I’m automatically suspicious of this story because there are no links to source material that confirms this accusation. Even if it were true, though, I think the following should also be noted (here)…

    The distortion that risk corridors are an insurance company bailout is a frequent theme (not just on Fox but in conservative media generally), but this latest narrative is especially misleading. What the Fox hosts failed to acknowledge is that the estimated $5.5 billion payment doesn’t come from taxpayers, but from the insurance companies themselves. The risk corridor provision transfers money from insurance companies with healthier risk pools to companies with less healthy risk pools with higher than anticipated costs.

    While the federal government may be required to subsidize some of the payment in extreme circumstances, White House officials expect that the entire risk corridor cost over the next year will be borne by the insurance companies themselves.

    And as long as we’re talking about risk corridors, this reminds us that those in the Affordable Care Law are temporary. On the other hand, those in the Medicare Part D scam under Number 43 are permanent (Heaven forbid that conservatives don’t applaud the intrusion into this supposedly sacrosanct, glorious-private-sector concoction…no such complaints about the “corridors” from 2006, of course).

  • Continuing (and in consideration of the upcoming holiday), I give you this from a few days ago…

    With the Department of Veterans Affairs coming under attack, meanwhile down in Texas, on the ranch of the former president, another way was being shown to support our vets. This past week former President George W. Bush brought together wounded veterans and active soldiers to honor them with a mountain bike ride. The message was clear – even when you leave active duty, we will still care for you.

    This from the individual who was taking up space in An Oval Office when the Walter Reed Hospital VA scandal was taking place, and of course the Foxies had precious little to say about it as opposed to the braying they’re doing right now, as noted here.

    (Also, this Fox screed was concocted by Dr. Marc Siegel, who last wrote about “typically unselfish” Number 43 here and the questions surrounding Dubya’s stent procedure – fourth bullet.)

    And as long as I’m talking about Siegel’s piece, I give you another excerpt…

    “Some of the people riding mountain bikes here have PTS (post-traumatic stress),” Bush said. “Mountain biking is helping them get back to as normal a life as possible. And that’s not a VA function, its a private sector function.”

    God, what a baboon – helping our vets isn’t just a “private sector” function – it’s a “function” for everyone whether they’re in public life or not!

    The scandal (yes, Repugs, a legitimate one – at long last, your dreams have come true!) of what is taking place with our veterans and providing the care they need is a bipartisan one, I’ll admit (well, maybe their dreams haven’t come true after all). And I don’t know if Gen. Eric Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. If he does, I hope it will not be just in response to a typical attack of conservative umbrage and, at the very least, an administrator at least as competent as Shinseki will be able to transition into the job relatively smoothly (that will make a big difference in how quickly our veterans receive care also, which should of course be the most important consideration). All I’m saying is that we should have a little perspective.

    You want to go after Shinseki? Fine. But let’s remember that the reason so many veterans require care is because of two wars that weren’t started on Obama’s watch (and, in the case of Dubya’s Not So Excellent Adventure in Iraq, this should have been an anticipated consequence of “the surge,” again, before Obama was sworn in).

    And you want to talk about a VA scandal and a certain president? Let’s not forget the following:

  • This tells us about Daniel Cooper of the Bush VA and how he thought his Bible study was more important than taking care of our wounded heroes (along with Dubya’s remark about battle being “romantic”).
  • This tells us how Cooper’s one-time boss Jim Nicholson approved $3.8 million in bonuses for VA executives even though the VA had underestimated the number of Iraq war vets who were expected to seek medical treatment in 2005 by nearly 80,000.
  • And among other things, this (a column from 2007 by Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), tells us that, for years under Dubya, PTSD was misdiagnosed as a “personality disorder” (the column has to do with the nomination of Lt. Gen. James Peake, M.D., to head the VA after Nicholson’s departure).
  • So there’s a lot more all of us can do to pay better attention to our veterans who have sacrificed (and in many cases, continue to sacrifice) for us. And sure, if Obama’s wretched predecessor wants to host a bike run or a golf tournament for them (which still sticks in my craw because of this, and this), then I have to admit that he deserves a bit of credit too, even though he was overwhelmingly responsible for the wars they had to fight that led to the death and injury of our personnel.

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    And as long as I’m on this topic, I have a request – people, can you please fly your damn flags on Monday?

    Update: Uh, yep.

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  • Finally (and speaking of people suffering), according to The Daily Tucker (cherry picking from a Harris poll), nearly 47 percent of unemployed Americans have given up looking for work due to the still-moribund (for just about everyone, anyone I know at least) economy, as noted here.

    In response, this tells you that “Man Tan” Boehner has pissed away just about $5 billion in economic gains due to refusing to renew an extension to unemployment benefits.

    Are you disgusted by that? Good. Click here.


  • 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).


  • Friday Mashup Part One (3/19/10)

    March 19, 2010

  • 1) Time to get the WHAAAmbulance for “Governor Appalachian Argentinean Trail” based on this…

    Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina agreed Thursday to pay $74,000 to settle charges that his personal travel and campaign spending violated state ethics laws, but he continued to deny wrongdoing.

    In November, the State Ethics Commission charged Mr. Sanford with 37 ethics violations, including spending taxpayer money on business-class flights, using state aircraft for personal travel and spending campaign funds for noncampaign expenses. The charges surfaced in the wake of his confession last summer to an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina.

    Mr. Sanford will pay $2,000 per charge and avoid a hearing. But though he chose not to contest the charges, he insisted he had been held to a stricter and less fair standard than previous governors.

    Really? As noted here…

    How can there be accountability in South Carolina when it seems that there is a direct collusion between the Republican Party, the U.S. Attorney’s office, (the SC State Law Enforcement Divison), and the media to keep these politicians that abuse their elected position in power, and, at worst, mitigate the penalty they get for even the most egregious of crimes they commit?

    The State newspaper would have SC citizen’s believe that the most important thing happening in the state is that taxes on cigarettes should be raised to help alleviate the budget shortfall. In the meantime, you have the Town of Lexington City Council believing they are above the law. You have various police departments in South Carolina abdicating their responsibility, not once, but over and over, in order to protect GOP politician’s (sic).

    The Docudharma post, in addition to Sanford, mentions Repug State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald (a Bushco appointee), and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. All have benefited to one degree or another from the cozy treatment received by the state’s Republican establishment.

    Given this, Sanford shut just shut up and be grateful that he’s still governor, which is enough of a travesty by itself (and that state’s attorney general is little better based on this).

  • 2) Partly out of a sense of masochism I suppose, I’m prone to check the Fix Noise site for the latest wingnut propaganda, and Dana Perino obliged as follows here…

    One of the most humbling parts of serving as the White House press secretary is getting to meet so many of our brave military men and women. It is hard to explain how they affected me — they are professional, courageous, and enthusiastic, as well as serene and grounded. Their decision to volunteer to serve our country — despite the hardships and dangers — made my decisions seem easy by comparison. One of the great joys of having been the press secretary, however, is to have a chance to help vets I get to meet — like Dave Sharpe.

    Dave Sharpe came home from serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and realized his life would never be the same. Unfortunately, due to what he experienced while fighting for his country, he struggled to re-acclimate back into his post-deployment world. He told me he lived in a state of constant despair and could not see a way back to happiness. His official diagnosis was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition affecting millions of our nation’s veterans.

    A friend of his thought that meeting up with a rescue dog could help Dave feel better. He introduced him to a pit-bull puppy named Cheyenne. Their bond was immediate. One night, Dave says he reached a turning point when he woke up pounding on the wall and saw Cheyenne looking up at him. From there, he started to gain control of the difficult emotions he was feeling and drastically improved his condition. Dave says that he and Cheyenne are proof that there’s an incredible human-animal bond that exists and that it can help people many struggling with PTSD.

    I have to tell you that I’m having a hard time coming up with the words to describe how obscene it is that a charter member of Bushco like Perino can actually pretend to care about our veterans when you consider the following (this post by Jon Soltz of VoteVets from last year tells us of the steps to correct this the Obama Administration took in its first 100 days)…

    (Funding of veterans care was) the shame of the Bush administration. The Department of Veterans Affairs was consistently underfunded…The low-point came when then-Secretary Jim Nicholson had to come groveling to Congress for more than a billion dollars in emergency funding, admitting that the administration had not prepared for the boom in returning veterans in need of care, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The underfunding had dramatic consequences across the board – from research and treatment into Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the shameful commonplace practice of veterans having to duct tape their prosthetic limbs, because the VA couldn’t get them decent ones.

    The gap between DOD care and VA care was more like a chasm for many veterans in need of care. Brian McGough, who is now legislative director for VoteVets.org, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. The gap in his care between active and veteran status was so big that he had to apply for unemployment insurance, because of the delay in getting the disability benefits he was due.

    And this post by Bob Geiger tells us of Jonathan Schulze, a Marine who earned two Purple Hearts but grew so despondent from PTSD upon his return to Minnesota that he eventually took his own life (when the VA under Bushco was notified that Schulze was suicidal, Schulze was told that he was 26th in line for care).

    I will acknowledge that the story of Dave Sharpe and his pit bull puppy is just the sort of “aww, isn’t that nice,” feel good bit of fluff to lull Fix Noise’s audience of dutifully compliant lemmings into complacency while the harder issue of why the hell our prior ruling cabal had no clue about how to treat our dead or wounded heroes goes unaddressed.

    Still, I’ll grant that Perino’s story is symbolic if nothing else, because, as far as a member of our military under Bushco was concerned, it truly was a dog’s life.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Dana Rohrabacher of California (another Bushco insult to our veterans)…

    Yesterday, the libertarian Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion on conservatism and the war in Afghanistan with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN). When the conversation shifted to the war in Iraq, Rohrabacher said that “once President Bush decided to go into Iraq, I thought it was a mistake because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan,” but that once Bush “decided to go in,” he “felt compelled” to “back him up.” He then added that “the decision to go in, in retrospect, almost all of us think that was a horrible mistake.”

    As Think Progress tells us, McClintock wasn’t in Congress when the Iraq war was authorized, and Duncan opposed the vote, some truly rare courage for a Repug. However, Dana Rohrabacher has no such excuse (and a particularly awful admission on today of all days, the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the war).

    And, as noted here (in a post written by Retired U.S. Army Reserves Colonel Ann Wright)…

    “I HOPE IT’S YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS THAT DIE” said US Representative Dana Rohrabacher to American citizens who questioned the Bush Administration’s unlawful extraordinary rendition policies.

    Congressional hearings provide a deep insight into the inner spirit of our elected representatives-and sometimes, the insight is not pretty.

    On April 17, we witnessed Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) unleash his unbridled anger onto members of the European Parliament’s committee on Human rights who were invited guests and witnesses in the House Foreign Affairs European subcommittee hearing. The European Parliamentary human rights committee had issued a report in January, 2007 sharply critical of the Bush administration’s extraordinary rendition program in which persons from all over the world were detained by either CIA or local police and then flown by CIA jet (torture taxi) to other countries where they were imprisoned (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Djibouti, Morocco, Yemen. The report was equally critical of European governments for allowing the unlawful flights to take place.

    And let’s not forget Rohrabacher’s untidy dealings with the Taliban and a certain founder of al Qaeda, as noted here.

    So basically, Rohrabacher is now admitting to a friendly audience of Cato Institute flunkies that, gee, maybe Iraq was a bad idea after all. This was after he wished death upon the family members of those who opposed the “extraordinary rendition” of Bushco (and yes, I know Clinton practiced rendition also, but nothing like his successor did).

    I’d pay good money to see Bill Maher get in Rohrabacher’s face about this next time the congressman appears on “Real Time.” However, I’m not holding my breath on that.


  • 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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