Lydia Dennett, Project on Government Oversight - In California, a Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient pharmacy supervisor was placed on administrative leave and ordered not to speak out after protesting what he described as errors and delays in the delivery of medications to patients.
In Pennsylvania, a former VA doctor was removed from clinical work and forced to spend his days in an office with nothing to do, he told the Project On Government Oversight. This action occurred after he complained that, in medical emergencies, physicians who were supposed to be on call were failing or refusing to report to the hospital. Theres a culture of bullying employees .Its just a culture of harassment that goes on if you report wrongdoing.
In Appalachia, a former VA nurse was bullied by management and forced out of her job after complaining that patients with serious injuries were being neglected, she told POGO. Such an upsetting thing for a nurse just to see this blatant neglect occur almost on a daily basis. It was not only overlooked but appeared to be embraced, she said.
These people are among the hundreds who contacted POGO over the past several weeks after we joined forces with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to seek inside perspectives on the Department of Veterans Affairs. Together, we and IAVA created the website VAOversight.org and asked people within the VA system to share their stories.
In its 33-year history, POGO has never received as many submissions on a single issuenearly 800 current and former VA employees and veterans contacted us. POGO reviewed each of the submissions, and the comments indicate that concerns about the VA go far beyond long or falsified wait times for medical appointments; they extend to the quality of health care services veterans receive.
POGO received allegations of wrongdoing from 35 states and the District of Columbia, and in the limited time we have had thus far to analyze the information, a recurring and fundamental theme has become clear: VA employees across the country fear they will face repercussions if they dare to raise a dissenting voice.
Paul F. deLespinasse, Statesman Journal- A key difference between Medicare on the one hand and veterans benefits and Obamacare on the other hand, is that Medicare patients can go to virtually any doctor or hospital in the country, most of which are not operated by the federal government. The VA has only limited facilities, not always conveniently located and insurance policies sold under Obamacare often severely restrict the doctors and hospitals people can go to.
... A major reform is needed here, and the simplest approach would be to privatize or close all VA facilities and put veterans on Medicare without regard to their age.
Like all other Medicare patients, veterans could then choose freely among doctors and hospitals and not have to wait for appointments any longer than anybody else. Money saved by closing VA facilities could be moved to the Medicare Trust Fund; perhaps part of the savings could be used to provide supplemental insurance to veterans if that is needed to duplicate the coverage they had under the VA.
The United States is unique in the industrialized world in having completely separate medical insurance systems for veterans, retired people, employed people, the unemployed and native Americans. Other countries have single-payer systems covering everybody, systems which have worked quite well and which hold administrative costs down to a bare minimum.
Lets treat the current criticisms of VA medical facilities not just as a problem, but as an opportunity. Moving all veterans into Medicare would eliminate one of these separate systems and would be a step in the right direction towards eliminating all of them and providing Medicare for all.
Popular Resistance - Just days before its international debut at an airshow in the United Kingdom, the entire fleet of the Pentagons next generation fighter plane known as the F-35 II Lightning, or the Joint Strike Fighter has been grounded, highlighting just what a boondoggle the project has been. With the vast amounts spent so far on the aircraft, the United States could have worked wonders, including providing every homeless person in the U.S. a $600,000 home.
... On any given night in 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded, there were an estimated 600,000 homeless Americans living on the streets. Numerous studies, however, have showed that rather than putting money into temporary shelters or incarceration, communities have saved millions of dollars by investing in permanent homes for the homeless. A recent report showed that in one Florida community, it cost taxpayers an estimated $30,000 to take the homeless off the streets through traditional methods, but only around $10,000 per person to give them permanent housing and provide job training and other support. Expanding that concept to the Federal level, even taking into account things like varying real estate prices around the country, its possible that $7.4 billion would be more than enough to start a program nationwide. With the full amount spent on the F-35 at its disposal, the U.S. could afford to purchase every person on the streets a $664,000 home.
Common Dreams - As the trial continues against Blackwater mercenaries accused of a bloody massacre that took place in Iraq in 2007 and left seventeen civilians dead, new documents reveal that just weeks prior to that incident a State Department investigation into the practices of the private military company was cut short after threats of deadly violence.
According to the New York Times, citing previously unpublished State Department documents, the internal "inquiry was abandoned after Blackwaters top manager there issued a threat: 'that he could kill' the governments chief investigator and 'no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq.'"
The documents and Times reporting detail how the behavior of the military contractors concerned the investigative team sent to Iraq to assess their peformance and protocols, but that efforts to make changes were rebuffed by Blackwater operatives and embassy personnel who "had gotten too close to the contractor."
Electronic Intifada - Almost three years have passed since the United States government extra-judicially murdered American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki with a drone strike in Yemen. Al-Awlaki, although described by the government as a terrorist mastermind, had never been charged with any crime.
The Obama adminstration refused to disclose the legal reasoning behind the killing. But thanks to Freedom Information Act lawsuits by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union, a redacted version of the Department of Justice memo which outlines the Obama administrations rationale for killing American citizens abroad without trial is now public.
Authored by David Barron former chief of the Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel, who has since been appointed by Obama to a federal judgeship the 41-page document seeks to legitimize so-called targeted killings, a practice Obamas predecessor, George W. Bush, vigorously condemned Israel for using against Palestinians during the second intifada.
This makes it all the more ironic that the Obama administrations kill memo cites an Israeli Supreme Court decision to justify al-Awlakis summary execution..
The memo cites Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v. Government of Israel, a 2006 Israeli Supreme Court decision that ruled that the targeted assassinations of hundreds of Palestinians since the start of the second intifada were legal and did not violate international law. The memo provides this as the basis for determining the infeasibility of al-Awlakis capture.
VIA ANTHONY CAHILL
Worst sentence of the day Military action doesnt mean war, of course. - Ezra Klein, Washington Post
When in history has a country as powerful as America been as afraid of a force as small as Al Qaeda?
Name one significant thing the American government has done since 9/11 to make it less likely that some in the MId East would want to attack it.
David Keen has taken a great step toward revising our thinking about war in his book Useful Enemies:When Waging Wars Is More Important Than Winning Them. George Kenney interviews him
@GeorgeCarlinSez - Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.
Panetta: U.S. running out of patience with Pakistan on militant havens - CNN
Word: The post Cold War is over: David Stockman - We are now at a historical inflection point at which the time has arrived for a classic post-war demobilization of the entire military establishment. The Cold War is long over. The wars of occupation are almost over and were complete failures Afghanistan and Iraq. The American empire is done. There are no real seriously armed enemies left in the world that can possibly justify an $800 billion national defense and security establishment, including Homeland Security
How to tell you're no longer an empire
John Mueller, Foreign Affairs: An al Qaeda computer seized in Afghanistan in 2001 indicated that the groups budget for research and weapons of mass destruction, almost all of it focused on primitive chemical weapons work, was some $2,000 to $4,000.
Businessman claims Blackwater paid him to buy steroids and weapons on black market
IN THE AIR FORCE'S BATTLE AGAINST TERRORISM
We recently ran pictures of flight accomodations (top) for high Air Force brass provided by the Project on Government Oversight. POGO has now come up with the enlisted equivalent. Troops have sat for hours on long flights in mangled seats and on netting inside cargo aircraft. This photo (bottom) was taken at Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar. Al Udeid is a major logistics hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, and is a command center for operations in Iraq. It is home to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the U.S. Air Force.
THE COST OF PREJUDICE: 2-3 BATTLE BRIGADES
US AIR FORCE ADOPTS NAZI MOTTO
US AIR FORCE - The Air Force has a new advertising campaign to recruit the next generation of Airmen as well as better inform people about the Air Force mission: "Above All."
Although the phrase 'uber alles' describing Germany well precedes the rise of Hitler, any one who lived through World War II would easily associate it with its Nazi use. The adoption by the Air Force is either stupid or scary.
ONE MAN'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE ILLEGAL MERCENARIES IN IRAQ
[From the Independent, UK]
2,973 Total number of people killed (excluding the 19 hijackers) in the September 11, 2001 attacks
2,932 Total number of US servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 2001
72,000 Estimated number of civilians killed worldwide since September 11, 2001 as a result of the war on terror
2 Number of years since US intelligence had any credible lead to Osama bin Laden's whereabouts
1,248 Number of published books relating to the September 11 attacks
$40bn Airline industry losses since September 2001
91 per cent Terror cases from FBI and others that US Justice Dept declined to prosecute in first eight months of 2006
THIS CHART, compiled by Ryan Singel at Wired, shows come of the the relative risks in contemporary life over the past five years. Other useful comparisons include those in a recent article in Foreign Affairs that estimates the probability of an American being killed in an terrorist incident is about 1 in 80,000. And as we have reported previously, you are also more likely to die of a workplace accident, be murdered, commit suicide, be killed by the side effects of a prescription drug, or die of cancer or heart disease.
ANNALS OF IMPROBABLE RESEARCH - After anxious months of waiting, Gregg F. Martin's superiors have again validated his strategic leadership principles. Martin wrote the classic military guide "Jesus the Strategic Leader." On February 17, G.W. Bush's nomination of Gregg F. Martin was confirmed by the Senate. After writing his famous study, then-Lieutenant Colonel Martin was promoted to command the 130th Engineer Brigade of the Army's 5th Corps. The 51-page-long "Jesus the Strategic Leader" [in the Army War College Journal] includes a drawing of Martin's "pyramid model" of Jesus the strategic leader. According to this model, Jesus is a pyramid, resting atop and partially intersecting God. God is a pyramid, too, but with a broader base. A third, inverted pyramid is supported atop Jesus' pyramid. This third pyramid begins with what Martin calls the "Top Three" disciples (Peter, James and John) and broadens to include the other apostles, then the disciples and, topping everything, the masses. Admirers are eager to see how high up the military pyramid the new general will rise.
GEORGE ORWELL ON THE LONG WAR
GEORGE ORWELL, 1984 - In past ages, a war, almost by definition, was something that sooner or later came to an end, usually in unmistakable victory or defeat. In the past, also, war was one of the main instruments by which human societies were kept in touch with physical reality. . . Physical facts could not be ignored. In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an airplane they had to make four.
Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions. Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly accurate idea of what had happened in the past. Newspapers and history books were, of course, always colored and biased, but falsification of the kind that is practiced today would have been impossible. War was a sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned it was probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible.
But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous. When war is continuous there is no such thing as military necessity. Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded. As we have seen, researches that could be called scientific are still carried out for the purposes of war, but they are essentially a kind of daydreaming, and their failure to show results is not important. Efficiency, even military efficiency, is no longer needed. Nothing is efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police. . .
War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word 'war', therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU'VE WON: A guide for would-be empires
MARTIAL LAW: Excerpts from an an article in a defense journal
A VETERAN SPEAKS: "I killed innocent people for my government"
The Tillman Story: Tillman, as he is being fired on by fellow American soldiers, says "I'm Pat fuckiing Tillman."
Drift by Rachel Maddow: Where's war going?
When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home by Paula J. Caplan.. When veterans who make it home from Afghanistan or Iraq have psychological issues, the assumption often is that they need therapy and psychiatric drugs. A Harvard-based psychologist argues that in many cases what they are experiencing is a healthy reaction to an inhumane experience, and that therapy and drugs isolate them at a time when they most need honest communication with loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers. She gives detailed, practical advice for non-veterans about how to ask the right questions and how to listen, both so veterans will be able to share what theyve been through and so the society that sent them will have a better understanding of the wars realities.Work Site
Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War by Richard E. Rubenstein: From the American Revolution to the end of World War II, the United States spent nineteen years at war against other nations. But since 1950, the total is twenty-two years and counting. On four occasions, U.S. presidents elected as "peace candidates" have gone on to lead the nation into armed conflicts. Repeatedly. In Reasons to Kill noted scholar Richard E. Rubenstein explores both the rhetoric that sells war to the public and the underlying cultural and social factors that make it so effective.
War is a Lie by David Swanson
In 2010 a cross-ideological group got together for a day to discuss an antiwar coalition. Out of that session has come this book edited by Paul Buhle, Bill Kauffman, George ONeill Jr. and Kevin Zeese. Among the contributors: Jesse Walker, Doug Bandow, Bill Kauffman, Cindy Sheehan, Ralph Nader and Sam Smith. As the book describes itself, "Throughout American history there have been times when movements developed that were outside the limited political dialogue of the two major parties, such as the abolitionists, the Anti-Imperialist League, the Non-Partisan League, and aspects of the Old Right and the New Left. Sometimes those movements have broken through and created paradigm shifting moments." ORDER
War is the joint exercise of things we were trained not to do as children.
War is doing things overseas that we would go to prison for at home.
Anyone can start a war. Starting a peace is really hard. Therefore it is much harder to be a peace expert than a war expert.
The media treats war as just another professional sport.
War has rules, which means that we can change the rules.
Murder, rape and slavery still exist. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have banned them. The same is true of war.
Telling a country we won't negotiate with it until it does what you want is like saying you won't play a game unless you are allowed to win.
There is no evidence that supporting war, or telling presidents to do so, improves your testosterone level, so Ivy League professors are better advised to stick to tennis.
There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive. The trick is to undermine the violence of the most bitter by dealing honestly with the problems and complaints of the most rational.
Of course, there can be peace with so-called terrorist organizations; it's just a matter of whether one waits the better part of a century, as the British did in Northern Ireland, or whether you start talking and negotiating now.
Three thousand people is, of course, far too many to die for any reason. But it is also far too weak an argument for the end of democracy.
Peace is a state of reciprocity, of trust, of empirically based confidence that no one is about to do you in. It exists not because of intrinsic goodness or rampant naivete but because of a common, implicit understanding that that it works for everyone.
Implicit in the "what about their violence?" argument is the idea that what we do wrong is excusable because it has been matched by the other side. Of course, the other side sees it the same way so you end up with a perfect stalemate of violence. When I raised a similar argument as a kid, my mother's response was, "If Johnny were to jump off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff, too?" I never could come up with good answer to that and so eventually had to concede that somebody else's stupidity was not a good excuse for my own.
From the moment we commence a moral intervention we become a part of the story, and part of the good and evil. We are no longer the innocent bystander but a full participant whose acts will either help or make things worse. Our intentions become irrelevant; they are overwhelmed by the character of our response to them. The morality of the disease is supplanted by the morality of the cure. In fact, every moral act in the face of mental or physical injury carries twin responsibilities: to mend the injury and to avoid replacing it with another
One of the reasons America is in so much trouble is because it happily makes all sorts of compromises in order to get along with large dictatorships such as Russia and China, but thinks it can handle smaller operations like Hamas, North Korea, and Iran by simple obstinacy and belligerence. In other words, it is happy to talk with big terrorists, but not little ones. In fact, most of these small entities - and those who lead them - suffer from extreme inferiority complexes. By threatening war, imposing massive embargos and so forth, America merely feeds the sense of persecution and encourages the least rational reaction. A more sensible approach would be to constantly negotiate with these leaders and edge them towards reasonable participation in world affairs.
Imagine if we had told Israel and Palestine a few years ago that if they would just make nice we would give them enough money to equal Israel's GDP for one year and Palestine's for three. Take the time off, go to the Riviera or the Catskills, forget about productivity, and just party on thanks to the American taxpayer. Or if Israel and Palestine wanted to be really sensible, they could have invested in their countries' future instead. Think how much safer we would be today. . . But where would such a large sum of money come from? Well, all we would have had to have done was to cancel the invasion of Iraq and used the money as a carrot rather than as a bludgeon. For that is just what it has cost us so far. (2007)
The people who built castles and walled cities and moats are all dead now and their efforts at security seem puny and ultimately futile as we visit their unintended monuments to the vanity of human presumption. Like the castle-dwellers behind the moat, we are now spending huge sums to put ourselves inside a prison of our own making. It is unlikely to provide either security for our bodies nor solace for our souls, for we are simply attacking ourselves before others get a chance.
Empires and cultures are not permanent and while thinking about the possibility that ours is collapsing may seem a dismal exercise it is far less so than enduring the dangerous frustrations and failures involved in having one's contrary myth constantly butt up against reality - like a boozer who insists he is not drunk attempting to drive home. Instead of defending the non-existent, we could turn our energies instead towards devising a new and saner reality.
Places like Harvard and Oxford - and their after-school programs such as the Washington think tanks - teach the few how to control the many and it is impossible to do this without various forms of abuse ranging from sophism to corporate control systems to napalm. It is no accident that a large number of advocates of war - in government and the media - are the products of elite educations where they were taught both the inevitability of their hegemony and the tools with which to enforce it. It will, therefore, be some time before places such as Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations are seen for what they are: the White Citizens Councils of state violence.
Castro, in his early days, spoke at the UN. But the hotels of New York refused him space. The result: Malcolm X found him a hotel in Harlem and a key early step was taken in the alienation of a man who, with just a little respect and effort, might not have tormented every American president since by refusing to die or fade away. Respect is important because it is a door wide enough for peace to enter. We need to try it more often.