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Lot more people responsible for VA mess than just the president

To The Daily Sun,

Our fearless leaders in Congress are at it again. With mid-term elections approaching, they've stumbled upon yet another scandal to blame on Mr. Obama and divert public focus away from their own miserable performance.

VA Chief Eric Shinseki is the latest whipping boy. He resigned Friday in response to angry demands from the "Hill" — it was impossible for Mr. Obama to ignore that chest beating troop of 98 pound gorillas that inhabits the Capitol, seeking the director's head on the president's platter.

Members of his own party called on the president to relieve Shinseki over "systemic" failures of the VA health care system. The lack of proper care for veterans, called "criminal," prompted Senator McCain (R-Ariz.) to inquire whether the Justice Department should investigate.

It's probably a toss-up whether Congress will achieve more political yardage over Benghazi, or the VA, but one thing's for sure, in the coming months, the voters' attention will be drawn to the failures of a presidential hopeful, a retired four-star general, and the president, with whom the buck stops. After all, the president hired the members of his Cabinet — he's ultimately accountable for his own judgment in selecting them. This is especially true when it comes to the man he picked to run the massive bureaucracy that provides healthcare for our nation's veterans.

But wait a minute. Is the fact that the VA's a horrible mess really news to anyone? The "whistleblower" and VA inspector general didn't surface much that millions of veterans and their families haven't experienced for decades.

I spent 38 years in the service — I knew there'd come a day when I'd find out if I should've believed the horrific stories I'd heard about the VA. My recent hour-long physical exam in Pensacola — after waiting a year and a half for an appointment — was amazing, but not surprising.

This VA debacle can't have come as a news flash for our intrepid lawmakers in DC, can it? Sen. McCain didn't know about lengthy waits for appointments in his home state? If not, why not? If so, why didn't he do something about it? He's been in Washington longer than most, and a veteran to boot.

Our politicians in Washington — especially the ones who've been there for years — share the burden with Messrs. Shinseki and Obama for the mess at the VA. Directors and presidents have come and gone over the past decades. There have been seven bosses at the VA since its inception, and I'm relatively certain the department was as screwed up at the beginning as it is now. So, aren't all the prior directors and presidents to blame? Congress has been there the whole time — do they get a free pass?

Mr. Obama is being called to task for the misdeeds of his cabinet appointee. Maybe the president picked the wrong guy (although, if you can't count on a four-star general, former Army Chief and combat veteran with two purple hearts to get the job done, who can you pick?)

But what of our U.S. senators who unanimously confirmed General Shinseki as director? Don't they have a hand in this insult to America's veterans? Isn't their judgment suspect as well as Mr. Obama's?

What of the members of Congress who've been serving on the various committees involving the military and veterans? Aren't they responsible for "oversight" of how the VA is run? Of course they are, and they should have been howling for years about why our vets complain of substandard treatment at VA hospitals all over the country. Why is it that Congress seems shocked by all this — and the best they can do is call on the president to fire the guy their upper house brethren all agreed was the perfect candidate to lead the VA?

What about Florida's representative in the First District? His official biography crows about his role: "United States Representative Jeff Miller serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Committee on Veterans' Affairs is responsible for authorization and oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA is the second largest department in the federal government with over 300,000 employees and a budget of over $150 billion."

Maybe along with calling on General Shinseki to resign, Mr. Miller should have pulled out paper and pen as well.

This failure of congressional oversight can't be the result of their being overworked. No, Congress just has better things to do. Take the bill that's just been introduced with bi-partisan support by representatives Ruiz (D-Calif.), Barrow (D-Ga.), Gozar (R-Ariz.) and Jones (R-N.C.), titled the "If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then So Should Congress" Act. The law seeks to prohibit members of the legislative branch (aka Congress and Senate) from flying first class. Mr. Gosar called the federal legislation an attempt to "eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in federal government." Mr. Ruiz said, "It's wrong that members of Congress can purchase luxury airfare with taxpayer money" when constituents are struggling to make ends meet.

Imagine that: the politicians are introducing a bill to keep themselves from ripping off the American taxpayer, announcing that what's good enough for the American GI is good enough for them. They're trying to protect us, from them. Congress is outraged at the abuses over at the VA, while at the same time, they're going to take up a bill to curb their own waste of government funds? Besides proposing a law to prohibit doing something that any good public servant would know is wrong, they're pandering for votes from America's military.

Maybe Congress should have passed a law requiring them to use the VA health care system, if they want a taste of life in the trenches. At least they'd have figured out before now, what everybody else knows about the VA. And, having suffered with the system, the question is whether they'd do anything besides sucking it up and grousing like the rest of us. I have no doubt, the answer to that one.

Whenever I hear politicians refer to American fighting men and women as "boots on the ground," I wonder if that's what they think of us — and why fixing the VA healthcare nightmare hasn't long been the focus of their constant attention. I hope when everyone who served the nation in uniform — their families, friends and anyone else who cares about veterans — turns out to vote in November, they remember this pathetic example of incumbent congressional "oversight" and cast their ballot accordingly.

Bruce Van Derven

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 08:29

Hits: 221

More oil! More coal! That's just more lazy Republican thinking

To The Daily Sun,

President Clinton was rightfully worried that Iraq was producing weapons of mass destruction. He supported the U.N. weapons inspectors, obviously the right thing to do. Saddam Hussein allowed this to go on for a while, then kicked them out, then I believe he let them back in only to kick them out again. Saddam then made the fatal mistake of believing a president of the U.S. wouldn't use lies to invade a country, especially when we had a very real and necessary war already going on. That error was too bad for Saddam and the citizens of his country, not to mention thousands of American soldiers.

Now, if this was in any way a humanitarian exercise, why were the oil wells the first, and apparently only real estate that our troops went to protect? Leaving museums and other treasures open for looting. Do you remember Condoleeza Rice making her mushroom cloud as the smoking gun comment, or Colin Powell and his "certainty" that the building he was pointing at was producing WMD. Again not to mention every other member of Bush's cabinet making similar statements, as well as Cheney also adding to the mix of very real lies.

I am truly surprised that Mr. Earle would use the "lame stream" media to make a point. Any of the entities that Mr. Earle notes, if they did say President Obama lied, did so in their editorial venues, which means it was their opinion, not exactly tangible proof. And the video, I believe it's called "The Innocents Of Muslims" was being reported on for at least a few days prior to 9-11-11.

When the president came out on 9-12-11 and said something to the effect that the terrorists who committed this attack would be brought to justice, what did that mean to you Mr. Earle, or did you and Mitt Romney miss that? The CIA provided the talking points that followed during the next two weeks. Including Susan Rice's showing up on the Sunday talk shows. So the CIA, the same agency that was led by Bush's daddy, the same one that produced the lies Bush would use to go to war with Iraq, maybe "accidentally" gave them the wrong story. Sure, I believe that.

Here we go again, with the "if you like your insurance you can keep it" nonsense. While certainly a colossal mistake, from a president who should have known better, having dealt with the right-wing nonsense for so long. President Obama should have said if you have insurance that is worth the paper it was written on you can keep it. The .06 percent of Americans that were affected by this "lie" will be far better off now than they were with their substandard policies. As far as keeping your doctor, that's something you should contact your provider about, that is entirely up to them.

Now, I know Mr. Earle is a climate change denier, and believes that using coal and oil to produce power is the only way to go. That just more lazy Republican thinking. Too bad, because I firmly believe that Americans are very capable of handling this problem if not stymied every step of the way by the oil and coal industries. The very real threat of climate change will cause more death and destruction than having to pay more for fuel until we can get it right. Natural gas could work in the interim if it wasn't so costly to the communities it comes from.

I'm glad Mr. Earle finally learned how to spell my name, but if he thought changing one letter of my name would get my dander up, he must be joking. I have lived with my name for my whole life and am proud of my heritage. I used to have a collection of more than 30 envelopes with our name spelled hilariously wrong, so you are a piker when it comes to at least that, Mr. Earle.

Marty Valengavich


Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 08:24

Hits: 111

Fire truck purchase back before Gilmanton voters on Tuesday

To The Daily Sun,

An open letter to Gilmanton voters:

On Tuesday, June 10, the voters of the town will be asked to vote once again to support the lease/purchase of our proposed replacement fire engine.

As you know the truck purchase was approved by the voters back in March. However, due to an issue with the warrant, we are required to vote once again to ratify the article so that we may proceed with the acquisition of the fire engine. This is a very important article, and needs your support, and our organization would ask that you take a few moments and vote to support this article.

The polls at the Town Hall will be opened on June 10 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

It is not often that we convene a special town meeting to address an issue, your vote is important and counts. Please support this article at the polls on Tuesday, June 10.

Fire Chief Paul J. Hempel III


Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 08:19

Hits: 135

Middle class is in decline & lower class has doubled in size

To The Daily Sun,

Fifty years ago Ronald Regan gave one of the most famous speeches of his presidency. It was called "a time for choosing" where he described the great differences between the two paths forward for America. One was the continuation of the Democrats' vision of ever larger, more intrusive, more regulating government, highlighted with deficit spending and soaring debt as millions of main street Americans become dependent on government programs to live. The other path would bring lower taxes, less spending, lower debt with diluted power in Washington marked with increased freedom for all.

Regan reminded us the centralized power of government in the hands of Washington, D.C., was the was the one thing our founders sought to avoid at all costs. Power was divided among three separate branches of government, not by accident, but by intent. The Founding Fathers recognized outside its most basic legitimate functions government did nothing as well or efficiently as the private sector.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson recognized the incredible danger to the people from centralized power in the hands of a few individuals within a single party.

Democrats for a century have been trying to destroy, demolish and diminish everything Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton stood for. There was no single issue these famous men focused on more than preventing the federal government from usurping full power and authority over the people of the republic. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has spent his entire presidency as a one-man wrecking ball to the Constitution, assailing and assaulting its every pillar while attempting to increase and consolidate singular, solitary federal power in the hands of himself and Democrats, while refusing to admit what was more than clear to Ronald Regan and is now more than obvious to every other American. That is, larger government, more benevolent government, more subsidizing government, more interventionist government over the past half century has led this country to the brink of financial and social disaster.

Who can deny where the Democrats path of expanded government has ended. The middle class is in continual decline, the lower economic class has doubled in size, the number of Americans dependent on government to eat has exploded while the debts of government have mushroomed to incredible levels crimping our economic strength. Debt that will be repaid on the backs of our children with lowered living standards. Government has never been more powerful than it is today while the prosperity of 90 percent of Americans has declined in a straight line with that increase.

What do we hear from Democrats today? Just one more subsidy, just one more promise (program) from government and one more increase of government control (like Obamacare) and all will be well.

Did you learn nothing from Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson about the threats from the ever increasing power and promises of government? They warned that however enticing those promises would be made to appear, screams for increased government power are hidden behind every individual's failure to succeed. The protective cloak and bogeyman to increased government power is called inequality. It is the greatest Trojan horse of them all and has been around since clocks had wooden gears.

Tony Boutin


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 10:04

Hits: 133

Senator Jeanie Forrester voted against increasing the minimum wage

To The Daily Sun,

Who does state Sen. Jeanie Forrester represent?

In May, our state Senate voted down a bill to raise the minimum wage (Bill 1403), in spite of the fact that it had widespread public support and had passed in the House— 65 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats supported it.

This leads me to wonder who our senators represent. For instance, Jeanie Forrester voted against it, in spite of the support of most of her constituents. The people in her district would have greatly benefit from this gradual raise. According to the N.H. Fiscal Policy Institute's research, over 12 percent of our areas workers would have more money in their pockets to spend around town — about $1,200 per year, as a matter of fact. Women would benefit more than men, since so many adult women — many with children and working full time — are stuck in our local low-paying jobs in the retail and the tourist industries.

New Hampshire now lags behind every other state in New England and half of the country on this issue. This embarrassing statistic is enhanced by the fact that our cost of living is the 20th highest in the country. However can people make ends meet?

Senator Jeanie Forrester needs to listen to the people she represents and vote according to their needs, or else we need to find a new senator.

Joyce Weston


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 10:00

Hits: 222

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