Wednesday, March 07, 2007

From the Wards of New Orleans to the Wards of Walter Reed

As with most Americans, I have been seething about the care badly wounded vets are receiving after coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you realize how difficult it is for this administration to hit a new low? I guess if you are capable of sending a young person into harm's way under false pretenses, anything is possible, but this is still shocking. I tell you one thing the Bush administration can be thankful for: That my mother didn't live to see it.

She spent some very difficult years helping American soldiers in hospital wards in France and elsewhere during World War 2, and I can only imagine what she'd do if she found out the federal government was mistreating "her boys."

What's happened to this country? How can we go on enjoying ourselves while these scoundrels in charge screw over these badly wounded soldiers? Okay, let's put aside the anger for a moment and analyze this for what it says about the character of Bush and Cheney and their loyal supporters. That's right: This is an issue that defines your moral character.

We have an administration here that lives to spin. They've never really taken an interest in governing right, even when the consequences of poor management hurt them. It's all about enriching their friends - giving tax breaks to Exxon while they cut the Vets budget. Then you throw in the incompetence - the sheer inability and lack of desire to get things done correctly. That's the key clue here. This story doesn't help them but Bush and Cheney don't care or can't work the problem. They don't have the moral fiber, the drive, or the skill. They would rather run their mouths about how great it's going, than make it so. They rely more on the careful line in the press, than really doing their jobs. Then they unleash the right wing talking-points machine and trust that things will turn out okay. As usual, their morally-challenged group of sheep-like supporters nod their heads in reverence as the new lies come tumbling down.

Did you see what Brit Hume of Fox "News" said about this? It may have been the most revealing comment about this entire wretched crew. Summing up the mistreatment of our wounded soldiers he said, "It looks terrible, which is the problem." It's not the reality that's the concern here - the problem is how it looks. It's a failure of spin.

The Drudge Report called it an "embarrassment." An embarrassment? It's a national disgrace and a human tragedy. With the Bush administration there are only two outcomes to any situation: Spin that works, and spin that doesn't work. Of course, if it doesn't work you try and spin that.

Maybe it's the idealist in me, but I always maintained some appreciation for the Republicans skill in governing. I didn't go so much for the foreign policy hype - I never believed they were as good as they claimed at that, but I gave even Richard Nixon some credit for being able to turn the knobs and flip the switches of the apparatus of government. He was actually someone who could be in charge of something.

But this group? Every decision just happens to be the lazy thing to do. Really get in there and research something? Really plan for anything? Nah, that would be too much hassle. They would rather screw up and try and talk their way out of it, than do it right. I wouldn't hire Dick Cheney or George Bush to run a hot dog stand at the Rose Festival. Disregarding everything else that's wrong with them, they just suck at doing their jobs.

It's only appropriate - in some horrible way - that the people who have paid the worst price in the Iraq fiasco should get screwed over by Bush and Cheney upon their return. Why? Because it's the most incompetent, shameful, disgusting thing that could possibly be, so with the Bush administration it was bound to happen.


At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Carol said...

Bill, I agree with your outrage, but to put the blame on this administration is just naive. Any soldier and retired soldier will tell you stories about how extremely hard it is to deal with the Veterans Administration. This travesty has been going on long before Bush came into fact the VA was a mess even as he was out partying and making excuses for not doing HIS service. I am not a Bush fan, but to lay the blame at his admin's doesn't speak to the whole story. I think that our soldiers have been getting screwed medically since Vietnam.

My brother was forced to retire from the Army after 19 1/2 years of service because of a back injury obtained while loading crates of food! 10 years later he is still trying to get the medical benefits he deserves. My ex-hubby, a Vietnam vet and field medic, STILL struggles to get the treatments he needs because of kidney problems occurred from being shot as he carried a soldier to a waiting Huey (helicopter). He came back to finish his service training medics at Valley Forge where he described just horrible conditions. He left the Army a very angry man because of how our nation treated our wounded!

It is not just the Bush Administration who is responsible. It comes from decades of poorly run veteran affairs admins.

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't begin a response without offering my sympathies to Carol, her brother and her ex for the needless hassles they've experienced with the VA. She's correct in saying that the VA has been substandard for years.

But Bill's definitely right about the sheer lack of competence and human empathy throughout the Bush Administration. Last night, CNN had a report on relief efforts for victims of the tornadoes last month in Mississippi, Georgia and Arkansas. FEMA has provided aid and temporary housing trailers to families in Mississippi and Georgia. But Arkansas, in which 150 people are now homeless, has been unable to obtain any trailers even though FEMA has an inventory of 1,100 sitting idle.

FEMA says it can't do anything because the Arkansas region where the tornado touched down hasn't been declared a disaster area.
And why might that be? Could it be that Arkansas made the mistake of electing a Democratic governor?

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I didn't mean to imply that things had been fine up till 2000, and I thought it was disgraceful the way the generals went off for their book tours and parades leaving the Gulf War vets to prove that something was wrong with them - possibly exposure to depleted uranium.
I also have no doubt the Vietnam vets didn't get their due, and that's also disgraceful. I once read the number of Vietnam Vets who are homeless just in Los Angeles and it was horrifying - homeless because they didn't get the care they needed.
One thing that is new about this war is the ratio of wounded to killed, and I realize that sounds cold. I think it's gone from 3 to 1 in Vietnam to 16 to 1 now, so many more vets with serious injuries are surviving. That's the kind of change the Bush administration did not respond to.
I also don't think right wing radio and FOX have shown the right level of outrage, considering how they tried to lord it over us about how much they support the troops, and anti-war people don't.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous eileen said...

Just to clear up something, according to Paul Krugman in Monday's New York Times, Walter Reed is a military facility, not run by the Veterans Health Administration.

Krugman also says, and has said in other columns, that "What makes this a particular shame is that in the Clinton years, veterans’ health care — like the Federal Emergency Management Agency — became a shining example of how good leadership can revitalize a troubled government program. By the early years of this decade the Veterans Health Administration was, by many measures, providing the highest-quality health care in America."

So although it may have been a mess for our Vietnam vets, it apparently was doing better during the 90s. Now it's back to being a mess again. Why? What happened?

At 12:18 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

It's true that the VA doesn't run Walter Reed. But the VA has a lot of faults, and its leader, Jim Nicolson, is a Bush appointee (of course).

He previous experience (other than generating a lot of money for Republicans) was as a real estate developer.

Maybe he sold land to that FEMA guy Brownine to raise horses on.

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous butch said...

Carol, don't you get it? If you can't blame it on Bush, it doesn't warrant discussion here.

PS - eileen, "according to Paul Krugman" was as far as you needed to go.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Butch, are you saying President Bush isn't responsible for the war in Iraq and the soldiers who got wounded there? Is that the best you can come up with? How about just saying we didn't go to Iraq at all and this is all a creation of the liberal media to make Bush look bad?

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Daoud said...

If I had to guess the way the writer who created this character "Butch" would make him grade the Bush Administration, it would go like this:

A+ Commander in Chief
A War on Terror
B+ Iraq
A- Afghanistan
A- Katrina
B Vets
A Economy
B+ Education
B- Environment
A+ Moral integrity

So, madame l'ecrivaine, am I close? Would "Butch" say that George W. is an honor roll president ready to go down in history as one of our greatest?

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous butch said...

I think that Saddam Hussein is more responsible for the war in Iraq than President Bush. Just silly that way, I guess.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

See, the problem here was that your go-to move of blaming Walter Reed on Clinton was negated before you could get there. You haven't mentioned all the vets who needed treatment after Kosovo either.
So if it's not Clinton's fault, it must be the Bush haters. Those are your two moves. I'm just sorry your love of Bush overrides your support for the troops.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup butch, you are pretty silly.

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous butch said...

I never said the sitiuation with Walter Reed is acceptable, and I don't blame Clinton for everything like you suggest. I only bring up Clinton when you Bush-haters try to contrast this administration with the 'Good ol' days'.

Example: when you state that Bush is trampling our Civil Rights and shredding the Constitution with his 'domestic wire tapping' program or by detaining and interrogating terrorists, I bring up Clinton only to point out that he authorized non-warrant PHYSICAL ransacking of suspects homes and that he authorized redition of terror suspects to foreign countries that torture. I'm not "blaming Clinton" for what happens under Bush, just merely pointing out that things have not gotten worse, the status quo has merely been maintained.

In other words, the 'Good ol' days' maybe weren't as "good" as your selective memory seems to recall them to be.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

That's fair about the selective memory. I didn't pay as much attention to Clinton's transgressions because I never felt like America was about to end. Besides, it was all about Monica, wasn't it?

However to say that the status quo has just been maintained, is not working on me. I think you're dreaming on that one. And besides Clinton is over and this is now. When Bush is done it might be useful to compare in a historical sense. Right now I'm just trying to make sure he doesn't blow up the world in the last 2 years.

By the way when I was typing a comment I accidentally wrote President Butch. Now that was really weird.

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous butch said...

whew! I thought that was a Freudian slip indicating you'd uncovered my secret identity. I was going to go down the hall and scream at Cheney for leaking it to you.

My point about comparing now to Clinton, and past administrations, is that all of this stuff has been going on for decades and our Democracy remains intact (although you 'the elections were stolen' types probably would take exception to that). Our government is not now, nor has it ever been perfect. But you that think the present state of affairs - the 'worst President EVER' types - are unprecedented are simply way off base. Bush is as good (or as bad) a President as Clinton, his father, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, Kennedy, etc etc. The only difference between now and then is that more people are aware and in tune to what's going on. Welcome to the internet age.


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