Tuesday, March 06, 2007



Are the Democrats so crass, so cowardly, so unconcerned with the massive and unrelenting criminality being perpetrated against our nation that it will take a Republican to call for the obvious: the impeachment of Cheney and Bush? In the new Esquire Chuck Hagel (R-NE) brings up the I-word that should be Topic-A instead of Anna Nicole Smith, Ann Coulter, Paris Hilton or any of the other nonsense the corporate mass media is passing off as "news."
"The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore," Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. "He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes."
The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word-- impeachment-- spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It's barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.
"Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility," he says. "The press abdicated its responsibility, and the American people abdicated their responsibilities. Terror was on the minds of everyone, and nobody questioned anything, quite frankly."

This morning a powerful crooked Democrat-almost-as-bad-as-a-Republican, Rahm Emanuel, suggested there is a new dynamic at work in Washington now, one that puts genuine oversight into the equation. OK, that can only lead to one thing: first hand Cheney his resignation letter to sign and then impeach the other criminal, turn them both over to a tribunal for judgment and punishment and get busy now cleaning up the disgraceful mess his they and their cronies have subjected us to for these last 6 years.

Today the news is about the conviction of Cheney's top aide, Irving Libby (AKA- "Scooter") as the fall guy for Rove and Cheney himself, Bush's two top lieutenants, and about the absolute destruction of the Justice Department under the Bush Regime, and about the nauseating disgrace of the way our wounded servicemen have been systematically treated-- as though they were nothing but a bunch of disposable Katrina survivors-- by these contemptible criminals who have hijacked our government. No one ever says it better than Paul Krugman.
When Salon, the online magazine, reported on mistreatment of veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center two years ago, officials simply denied that there were any problems. And they initially tried to brush off last month’s exposé in the Washington Post.

But this time, with President Bush’s approval at 29 percent, Democrats in control of Congress, and Donald Rumsfeld no longer defense secretary-- Robert Gates, his successor, appears genuinely distressed at the situation-- the whitewash didn't stick.

Yet even now it's not clear whether the public will be told the full story, which is that the horrors of Walter Reed's outpatient unit are no aberration. For all its cries of "support the troops," the Bush administration has treated veterans’ medical care the same way it treats everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent and privatizing everything it can.

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. (It probably still is: Walter Reed is a military facility, not run by the V.H.A.)

But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done all it can to undermine that achievement. And the Walter Reed scandal is another Hurricane Katrina: the moment when the administration's misgovernment became obvious to everyone.

The problem starts with money. The administration uses carefully cooked numbers to pretend that it has been generous to veterans, but the historical data contained in its own budget for fiscal 2008 tell the true story. The quagmire in Iraq has vastly increased the demands on the Veterans Administration, yet since 2001 federal outlays for veterans’ medical care have actually lagged behind overall national health spending.

To save money, the administration has been charging veterans for many formerly free services. For example, in 2005 Salon reported that some Walter Reed patients were forced to pay hundreds of dollars each month for their meals.

More important, the administration has broken longstanding promises of lifetime health care to those who defend our nation. Two months before the invasion of Iraq the V.H.A., which previously offered care to all veterans, introduced severe new restrictions on who is entitled to enroll in its health care system. As the agency's Web site helpfully explains, veterans whose income exceeds as little as $27,790 a year, and who lack "special eligibilities such as a compensable service connected condition or recent combat service," will be turned away.

So when you hear stories of veterans who spend months or years fighting to get the care they deserve, trying to prove that their injuries are service-related, remember this: all this red tape was created not by the inherent inefficiency of government bureaucracy, but by the Bush administration's penny-pinching.

But money is only part of the problem.

We know from Hurricane Katrina postmortems that one of the factors degrading FEMA's effectiveness was the Bush administration's relentless push to outsource and privatize disaster management, which demoralized government employees and drove away many of the agency's most experienced professionals. It appears that the same thing has been happening to veterans’ care.

The redoubtable Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, points out that IAP Worldwide Services, a company run by two former Halliburton executives, received a large contract to run Walter Reed under suspicious circumstances: the Army reversed the results of an audit concluding that government employees could do the job more cheaply.

And Mr. Waxman, who will be holding a hearing on the issue today, appears to have solid evidence, including an internal Walter Reed memo from last year, that the prospect of privatization led to a FEMA-type exodus of skilled personnel.

What comes next? Francis J. Harvey, who as far as I can tell was the first defense contractor appointed secretary of the Army, has been forced out. But the parallels between what happened at Walter Reed and what happened to New Orleans-- not to mention parallels with the mother of all scandals, the failed reconstruction of Iraq-- tell us that the roots of the scandal run far deeper than the actions of a few bad men.

Meanwhile Charlie Cook points out that "one would have to go back to the Watergate scandal and its aftermath to find a time [when Republicans] seemed to be as disillusioned as they are today." He posits that Republican voters' apparent attraction to Rudy Giuliani, a man who stands for almost everything they despise, could be a "primal scream for help." Or are they just too ignorant to know what they're endorsing? Republican primary voters are, after all, the ultimate in the low information voter-- or at least the misinformation voter. Last month a Gallup Poll showed that only 17% of Republican voters were aware that Giuliani favors civil unions between same sex couples and only 20% were aware that he is pro-choice. (When told he favors civil unions and that he is pro-choice 18% said that that would rule out any chance of them voting for him and 25% said it would make them less likely to vote for him; that's 43%. They are going to find out-- either during the primaries... or after.

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At 4:26 PM, Blogger woid said...

You said it.

Impeachment, followed by war crimes trials. These evil dimwits deserve it all.

One thing... At the end of Hagel's quote, spreading around the blame for the war, he says,

"... the American people abdicated their responsibilities. Terror was on the minds of everyone, and nobody questioned anything, quite frankly."

Nobody questioned anything? I did, I'm sure you did, and so did millions of other people who saw from the beginning where we were going.

I don't think we should ever let remarks like Hagel's go by without comment. It's the current conventional wisdom, spouted by the same pundits and politicians who were wrong back then, and are clinging to their jobs now. And it's wrong.

The Hillarys of the world shoudn't be asked to issue an apology. Instead, they should be apologizing over and over again, every time the subject comes up -- and acknowledging the people who were right all along.

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the laughter...but are you people serious?

Why pursue something that you people KNOW damm well won’t ever be considered.

You folks must lead a sad existence.

I hope I see y’all in DC in a couple of weeks so I can experience the madness first hand.


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