On Memorial Day weekend, scores of thousands of bikers arrived here for their annual Rolling Thunder tribute to America's veterans, especially those lost in our wars or left behind. But this year the tribute has been sullied by a squalid scandal in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sick vets seeking medical care at the Phoenix VA hospital were put on waiting lists, but never got to see a doctor. Dozens died. Then waiting lists were altered to make it appear that VA staffers had not failed in their duty to provide the vets access to care in the required 14 days. Some vets suffered for months before dying.
There is truly something rotten in the state.
But, rest assured, this scandal of deceit, dishonor and betrayal is not going to go away soon.
For unlike Benghazi and the IRS scandals, the major media are looking into how widespread was this practice of denying care to vets and doctoring waiting lists to lie about what was done, and not done, at the VA hospitals. And as this is both an easily understood and deeply emotional issue, the public is fully engaged.
Our commander in chief wisely used his weekend to visit our troops in Afghanistan. But between Memorial Day and June 6, when the president speaks at Normandy on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, this metastasizing scandal is going to bleed his administration.
And this crisis gripping the second largest Cabinet department underscores a larger truth.
The core belief of liberalism, the political philosophy that has guided the Democratic Party since FDR's New Deal — that competent, caring, compassionate government is the instrument best suited to addressing America's social disorders — is being fatally undermined.
The VA hospitals are supposed to represent the best in quality care for those we owe the most. They are America's example to the world of government-run health care and a single-payer system that liberals have championed for decades.
Does anyone still believe that universal health care modeled on the VA is what we want for America?
Looking around, America's public sector appears to be everywhere in crisis.
Before the VA scandal we had the rollout of Obamacare, the disastrous results of which were so unanticipated and adverse they could cost the Democratic Party control of the Senate in November.
Democrats point to Social Security and Medicare as the ideal of what a caring, compassionate and competent government can do. But what has Big Government accomplished lately?
In the new century, we have fought our two longest wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are the results worth the lost blood and treasure? Or are the results of our interventions the reasons why Americans want to stay out of Syria and Ukraine?
Perhaps the largest of all government programs is education. Yet despite the trillions of dollars plunged into public education at the local, state and federal levels from the Great Society to No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top, U.S. test scores continue to plummet in international competition and the gap between black and Hispanic and Asian and white continues to persist.
To bring up test scores, we have seen the dumbing down of tests and rampant cheating by principals and teachers erasing and changing answers for students in school districts including D.C. and Atlanta. Corrupt conduct by those charged with instructing America's children in the moral superiority of democratic government. Is not the charter school movement a vote of no confidence in a school system that was once the pride of the nation?
The sub-prime mortgage scandal, which almost plunged us into a second Great Depression, was a product of Big Government.
And despite five trillion in federal deficits under Obama, and a Fed policy of pumping endless trillions into the banks, U.S. growth in the first quarter flatlined, and has been anemic for years.
The bankruptcy of Detroit, the downgrades of public debt in Illinois, Puerto Rico and New Jersey — were they not all caused by the political class that runs state governments?
Yes, there are well-run VA hospitals, outstanding public schools, and state and local governments that are magnets for business. And government has accomplished goals in which all of us take pride. NASA put our astronauts on the moon. After Pearl Harbor, Washington led America to victory in less than four years. But lately government's failures seem to outnumber its successes.
Republicans rightly view with alarm demographic trends showing their core constituencies shrinking and the Democrats' rising. But Democrats should also take heed. For declining confidence in government's ability to solve America's problems, which is likely to be translated into Republican gains in Congress this year, represents a declining faith in the Democratic idea that government is the answer.
In the last century, communism was The God That Failed.
It should be a cause for concern that in the new century the god that appears to be failing is American democracy.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 10:14
To The Daily Sun,
There is nothing better than good friends, good music, and good cheer — all in a beautiful setting. On Saturday, June 7th at the Historic Belknap Mill, Temple B'Nai Israel is bringing Gathering Time, a well-known New York-based folk-rock trio, back to the Lakes Region. Ranked as one of the top 20 folk bands in New York, Gathering Time joined by guest artist Mara Levine, is truly back by popular demand. What make this concert even more extraordinary is that the net proceeds raised from Gathering Time will go to benefit Lakes Region Community Services (LRCS).
I am reminded on a daily basis that the Lakes Region is a generous community; and the actions of Temple B'Nai Israel solidified this for me. Generosity can be defined as 'the individual's pure intentions of looking out for society's common good and giving from the heart,' which is exactly what the members of the Temple B'Nai Israel are doing by bringing back Gathering Time. Please consider attending the Belknap Mill concert on June 7th — refreshments, music, camaraderie and Tzedakah (Charitable Giving — Hebrew) all in one great evening. For tickets and further information, visit www.tbinh.org. I hope to see you tapping your feet and enjoying the music!
Christine Santaniello, Executive Director
Lakes Region Community Services
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 08:12
To The Daily Sun,
Oh, Oh, Oh, Bernadette how you do try to divert attention from reality and facts unfavorable to your incompetent in chief, Obama. With two left feet she crab walks (to the left of course) trying to draw away the bright spotlight of reality from the president but to no avail because even the lame-stream media is finally looking with a critical eye for once. The tried and true tactic of blaming Bush isn't going to work this time because there were no reports of deaths before Obama's watch. It was Obama who made the issue a center piece of his campaign calling it "A Sacred Duty" to reform the VA. (Oh dear, just another broken promise. After all what does it really matter?) Guess not much to this president and administration.
Now about Benghazi. Just what are all these new "facts" you refer to that are making the Repubs look bad, and where did you get them? Did MSNBC reveal Ambassador Stephens wasn't really killed in the attack on the compound in Benghazi? Or are you jumping into the loonie bin with Eleanor Cliff who attributes the ambassador's death to smoke inhalation, not murder? I don't know about you but I watched and listened to the president, Secretaru Clinton, Jay Carney, and every other lying Democrat who could get their face on the TV tell us it was all because of a YouTube video. Day after day, week after week they stuck to this made up lie. When Congress (led by Republicans because rubber-stamp Dems only wanted it all to just fade away) held hearings your Dems did nothing but blow smoke and try to make it all just go away and of course the infamous flustered outburst of Mrs. Clinton, " What does it, after all this time, really matter"? ( Not what I'd call a very presidential moment.)
So aside from the administration sending 25 thousand redacted pages of unanswered questions to congress, stonewalling and proven lies under oath. just what have your Democratc hereos contributed to the honor and decent respect law, justice and the Constitution of the U.S., there Bernedette?
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 08:10
To The Daily Sun,
Just a reminder to people that love to feed the birds: please make sure you take in your feeder as you might get this bear in your yard as we did on May 14 around 7 p.m. One bite and it was gone. He must of weigh 400-500 pounds and solid, he has been eating good.
It was scarey and amazing to see something that lives in the wild so close. Please bring in your feeders.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 08:02
To The Daily Sun,
This is in response to the column that appeared Thursday, May 22, written by Froma Harrop, a member of the progressive Providence (RI) Journal editorial board, on the subject of "Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list."
She is right when she says, "The theme is: government can't do anything right..." However, she then goes on and on defending big government, quoting none other than the only self-described socialist in either of the elective bodies of Congress, Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont!
Heavy duty leftist commentators and editorial writers, like Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof, and Ezra Klein were apparently embarrassed beyond belief by their writings in recent months, carrying water for Obama, defending his handling of the chaos at the VA, when, within the past couple of days, members of Obama's own party have been critical of him on the floors of their respective houses of Congress, saying that he is acting "weak" and "indecisive" on the VA issue.
So, in response to all that, Obama came out Wednesday, May 21, and said that his deputy chief of staff is writing a report on the abuses at the VA, and he wants to wait till next month for that report to be completed before taking any corrective action, and meanwhile, there are still sick veterans waiting for care!
Just a word about the "secret lists" at the VA, for those who have not kept up with this unbelievably scandalous story. Federal employees in some agencies of government, including the VA, receive financial bonuses for achieving or exceeding certain incentive quotas, and one such quota at the VA is based on "wait times" — how long a patient has to wait to see a doctor. The maximum wait time allowed is 14 days. After 14 days the VA is required to give the veteran a referral to a doctor in the private sector.
At many of these Veterans hospitals, patients had to wait several months for treatment, and were never referred to outside doctors, and some of these vets died while waiting to have their first doctor visit! And instead of accurately recording how long people had to wait (as required by law), fake lists were kept that falsely showed good performance, so that those federal employees would continue to receive regular financial bonuses that are given out when people do excellent work. So basically, government employees were finding ways to greedily, and dishonestly, take additional money they didn't earn from the taxpayers, while veterans who sacrificed and fought for their country died for lack of care they earned bravely.
Even before he took office in 2009, Obama knew all about these issues at the VA, the long wait times for treatment, and the secret wait lists. He has made speeches about this every year for the last six years, so, of course he knew. He can't rationally deny it! He just had no intention of doing anything about it until... until it got so bad that reports began to surface that veterans were dying waiting for their first visit to see a doctor! That is disgusting! That is outrageous! That is criminal, and people should go to jail for it!
And of course, the reason this is so troubling for him and his legacy is, he knows that eventually that's how things will be for all of us under his "signature" legislation — "Obamacare" — in a few years. Progressives and left-wing radicals have always known things will become that way under Obamacare, but they didn't care. As long as big government is involved, they are hoping by then it will be so entrenched into the culture that it will be too late to repeal it. As long as they, the smartest people in the room, are in charge, that's all that matters.
These latest revelations about the quality of care at the VA should, no — must — change the debate regarding Obamacare. Average folks need to pay attention and get involved, before it's too late. Obamacare should never have become law. The federal government lied to us when they passed this monster, and they are still lying to us. Most of the 8 million they claim have signed up are on welfare already, and are going to get their health insurance free through state-funded Medicaid.
Medicare works fairly well because the private sector is involved at almost every point in the process. And every year seniors can change the plan they have, and make choices about their doctors, and generally are not restricted to certain hospitals. And they pay a monthly premium that is automatically deducted from their Social Security check. Veterans covered under the VA health system have no such choices. They are treated by doctors and nurses who are government employees, who are paid a civil-service salary, with little or no incentive to provide quality results. Why? Because they can't be fired for incompetence!
Of all the scandalous mess-ups associated with this "big-government" president (Fast and Furious illegal gun running to Mexican drug cartels; the cover-up of the aftermath of the murder of the U.S. Ambassador in Benghazi; the targeting and denying the rights of politically conservative groups by the IRS; the illegal eavesdropping of Fox News investigative reporters; the inability to construct a website for Obamacare), the VA health system "secret lists," and resulting deaths of veterans waiting for the government-run care they've earned, will have, by far, the most damaging effect on his legacy, in spite of the bias of the press to cover for him.
If we are to achieve the standard of excellence that our country's founders envisioned three centuries ago, we must admit that for the last 60 years, the country has been moving in the wrong direction, due largely to the "baby boomer" generation, and their progressive "worldview" of bigger government is better government.
A very positive first step would be to institute a voucher system into every government "entitlement" program, that, for example, would allow each citizen the choice of (1) where to send their children to school, or (2) what doctor to go to, whether civilian, eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, or veteran.
Thomas Jefferson said, "... the government is a necessary evil." And Ronald Reagan said, "... the government can't fix the problem, because the government IS the problem!"
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 07:59