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Governmental Malpractice

Disgust in the wake of the Walter Reed revelations. Also: Bubba Tyrrell's photo op. Sinners on Hannity. Not everyone digs Ben. Plus more.

3.16.07

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PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Picture This:

Hmm, so now it's "Bubba" Tyrrell? This isn't going to help us Rudy supporters, at all. Maybe, Newt will get into the race and give us a way out.
--Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

I guess this was a "private party" and he was not in a public place? It seems like he gave permission to you to use the photo when he gave permission to have it taken with you. You own the photo. I don't understand why you had to get his permission again. But, then I'm not a lawyer; just a regular person. Maybe the lawyers could explain.
-- Jacqueline Zaring

It's only a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy when compared to the Half-Vast Left-Wing one.
-- Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

ARMY, HEAL THYSELF?
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Mission Unaccomplished:

I'm not surprised but I am disgusted about the medical care scandal. As a retired Army NCO I can tell you this. The organization culture (as opposed to the military culture) rewards "managers" with awards and promotions for creating situations like this. Especially under Rummy's regime. Cutting costs at the cost of troop's welfare is an old and time honored tradition. They sit around in meetings giving wonderful PowerPoint presentations about their great work and rake in the MSMs and LOMs for screwing over real soldiers. And move on to their next promotion. Kiley resigned but how do you think he became a 3 star General? The military has too many managers but not enough leaders. After all they learn from our elected officials.
-- Chris Buckley
Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army, Retired

I suggest that Mr. Reiland and readers of his article spend a few minutes listening to Maj. Gen. Edison E Scholes, USA (ret.) and read his "Don't Paint the Medical Corps with One Brush" published by American Thinker on Wednesday.

Originally it circulated around the Internet in the form of a letter written to Fox News online in response to an opinion piece written by a military officer that was highly critical of the medical corps. A copy ended up in my email Monday as part of a weekly newsletter I receive as a member of an organization whose members are former military aircrew members. When I read it, my suspicion that the Walter Reed brouhaha was overblown and being used as a political bludgeon was confirmed. So I decided to contact General Scholes and ask his permission to let American Thinker publish it and the publisher, Thomas Lifson, was happy to do so.

Problems do exist at Walter Reed. Try to find any medical facility where zero patients fall through the cracks. Good luck. However, Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon's experience may just be quite atypical and quite far from that of most Walter Reed patients. Not that there is any excuse for it. And once again, the politicos are having themselves a field day at the expense of the military. Will our Congressmen ever take personal responsibility for anything? Other than contributions, perks, and earmarks, that is. Now there are some things that aren't underfunded!
-- Dennis Sevakis
Bloomfield, Michigan
P.S. Hmmm, this is interesting. Guess General Scholes knows whereof he speaks...

As distressing as the recent situation is for seriously injured military personnel and their families, their care is obviously going to extend over decades, long after the Walter Reed problem is dealt with. So the larger issues demanding attention are 1.) the care that these veterans will receive in the VA system; and 2.) how best to manage short-lived increases in demand for complex care when many injured active duty personnel are brought back home at once.

First topic: There is no better time than the present to think about the long-term viability of the Veterans Administration's network of hospitals and outpatient centers. Anyone who has worked in or been a patient in one of these centers is impressed with how cumbersome the system is and how unimpressive the care is for the amount of money spent for it. The reality is that the VA hospital system is a sort of patronage system for those who administer it: Yes, of course they try their best to care for the patients but such concerns are on an equal footing with their own worries about their fiefdoms, their benefits, etc. This is not an indictment of the individuals who work for the VA but just a fair appraisal of what happens in a big government operation over time. Nothing new to report in this regard.

Let us crunch a number or two: Simply take the entire amount of the VA budget for health care ($ 31.5 billion in 2007) and divide by the number of patients covered (about 5.5 million) and you get something like $5,700 per year, certainly enough for a top-drawer individual health care policy. My figures here come from a site for military families and their concerns.

In fact, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program administers a lot of health care plans for federal employees, a number roughly twice the number of veterans currently cared for by the VA. Some 56 percent of FEHBP enrollees (this represents perhaps three million or more federal employees) are in two plans provided by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and their premiums are exactly $134.30 biweekly for a whole family's (not just an individual's) coverage ($3491.80 per annum approximately). My source for this is a recent article at a site advocating health savings accounts. Way less than our first estimate, and the entire family gets care too, not just the individual policyholder.

Such simple estimates suggest to a lot of persons: Why not just give eligible veterans and their families vouchers for the same health insurance coverage available to federal employees? It appears this would be more cost-effective than maintaining the archaic and not-user-friendly VA health care system. The veterans would be free to seek care anywhere they wished. Patient satisfaction would increase. Quality of care would depend on where the patient decided to go. But he would be free to go where the quality (as he perceived it) was acceptable.

Note that I am not advocating doing away with the VA, just that part of it dealing with providing health care. The other half of the VA budget involves administering death and disability benefits to veterans and their families and providing and maintaining military cemeteries. The VA would continue its work in these areas.

What would happen to all the health care and administrative personnel currently employed in the VA system? Shortages exist for almost all health care personnel nationwide. No group of professionals is better suited to find alternative employment within a matter of weeks. Definitely do not worry about this.

Second topic: The mission of military hospitals such as Walter Reed is separate and distinct from anything found in the private health care world. The scope of what they do includes providing specialized mobile care in war zones and patient transport in similar circumstances. There is nothing remotely like it in civilian medicine. Of course military hospitals need to survive and evolve as they are doing.

But active-duty patients, for example those with severe neurological injuries, once back in the United States, should be allowed to avail themselves of the best care around. Especially when the military health care system is overwhelmed, as it is now. They could easily (but for bureaucratic, authoritarian, and turf considerations) be treated in one of several superb medical centers located in the Baltimore-Washington area or nearby in New York or Boston. Or for that matter, anywhere in the country. There is no reason why such an injured patient on active duty could not be given a similar "voucher" for care outside the military hospital system, one similar to that which I have suggested above for the veteran patient.

In fact, doesn't the VA have such a system in place already in the form of TRICARE? Doesn't TRICARE pay for treatment in a civilian setting when such care is unavailable or unsuitable in the VA system? Well, why not make a TRICARE for active duty personnel? This is essentially what I have in mind.

The first impression many would have of such a notion is that it would be the demise of military hospitals and that it would be a disgrace. Quite the opposite: It would allow a lot of cross-connecting between military hospitals and excellent civilian medical centers, and there would be a lot of informal learning going in both directions. It would alleviate the shortage of military physicians. It would allow the military hospital to focus more on the specialized things that make it unique, and allow the civilian hospital do what it does best: Deliver complex care. In medicine, this specialization of mission is the name of the game.

We should face the reality that health care is a highly modernized, extremely specialized, technology-intensive, rapidly changing, and competitive field. It requires constant, ongoing adaptation to change. It is therefore unrealistic to expect isolated, antiquated and highly bureaucratized divisions of the federal government to do this mission well, in either the active duty (military hospitals) or civilian (VA) settings. This in spite of their best efforts to do so.
-- Francis Dillon, MD
Indianapolis, Indiana

May I respectfully request that Mr. Reiland be assigned to write an article of equal or greater detail and specificity on this particular problem once per week, every week, until at least a small dent is made in the problem? This problem has been with us since at least WWII. It would have been a problem before, but in 1919 our society did not think that government had the duty to our wounded warriors that we demand today.

This is a problem of bureaucracy, and those that "demand" government provided health care and/or health insurance better hope that they do NOT get what they claim to want. Regardless, whatever the problem, it must be fixed once and for all, right now. This is another "Katrina," and it is also on the watch of George Bush. He needs to worry more about getting this fixed and less about whether some Mexican national is allowed to come to America illegally, get on welfare, sire some kids to be instant citizens, and accept a blanket amnesty so that they can register and vote for Democrats.

I would, however, like to suggest that there is another source of the problem. On Sept. 12, 2001, George Bush chose NOT to put the American citizenry on a war time footing. He told us to just go about our business and he would handle everything. So we have. As a result, taxes have been cut and the military budget is now below the budgets of the 1970s and '80s in terms of real inflation adjusted dollars, and in terms of percentage of the overall discretionary budget. Now I am always for tax cuts as a means of downsizing government, in every area except national defense and the military.

This move by Bush has given the anti-war and anti-American types free reign to ramp up their movements at warp speed. This told the majority of regular Americans that they did not have to worry about our warrior's welfare or about the proliferation of cut and run Dems and their supporters here at home. I would argue that the only counteracting force on the support for our warriors front, has been the hard core horde of citizens (myself included) who refuse to let our warriors suffer the treatment that was handed their predecessors in the years of the Viet Nam era.

Bush had the opportunity to ask America to join him on a war footing until the scourge of Islamic Jihadism was beaten. I maintain that we would have responded positively. I believe that we would have also responded positively to a move to tax ourselves to pay for the ramped up military/national defense connected bill.

The Bush administration better dang well fix this crisis in the medical treatment and support system for our wounded warriors and their families. There are a whole bunch of us watching, and pay back will not be pleasant for bureaucratic failure in this instance.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Just wanted to pass along my thanks for the fine article on how our veterans are being treated by the same Congress who always wants to appear pro-veteran on camera.

The facts mentioned in this article go back to the Vietnam war and possibly before that, but never before has anyone seemed to turn the spotlight on this mess. Could I also point out the other travesty your fine magazine might want to discuss some day soon?

That would be the law established in 1890 -- yes, 1890 -- that denies retired military personnel who served 20 yrs. active duty their full military pension, if they also receive disability pay from the VA for injuries suffered on active duty. It's called the "concurrent receipt" law which specifies whichever amount the veteran receives for his injuries from the Veterans Administration, that amount must be DEDUCTED from his military pension each month.

Now to be fair, Congress has rectified this recently to a small degree -- right now if you are disabled by at least 50%, you eventually do get all your retirement pay. However by far, most veterans are not that severely injured and only rate a 40% disabled rating so they continue to lose that amount of their pension each month.

Please consider writing something about this in the future, it would be a great help to those of us working to get it changed. By the way, ONLY military veterans are treated this way. If you retire from say, the postal service or the FBI, you get your full pension.

Wonder how many of your readers are completely unaware of this?

Thanks!
-- M.L. Schwartzberg
LT USN (Ret)
Submarines
Columbus, Nebraska

The Professor hates the Army -- what else is new? Could we give the Army a week or two to correct the problem? This article is just a rehash of all the news of the past weeks. And, his point would be what?
-- Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky

THE LIBERAL HEGEMON
Re: James Bowman's Rules for Disengagement:

To describe Mr. Schlesinger as an "unabashed liberal partisan" is to blissfully ignore the folly of the many years of disingenuous and dangerous advice, that elites, like Mr. Schlesinger, have and are espousing in their attempt to lead America towards its destruction. It is beyond comprehension that a man of his intellect could be so fundamentally wrong, in so many ways, for so many decades, when it came to appreciating what was vital and necessary for the security of America.

The absurdity of his blind partisanship towards Democrats and liberals came to its ultimate degradation when he came to the defense of Bill Clinton. You may recall that it was Schlesinger who gave the Democrats and the liberal media their talking points, with his bizarre description of Clinton's perverse assignation with a woman staffer half his age, by his blithe explanation of Clinton's repeated lies as an innocent act, that being, a "gentleman does not discuss his discrete affairs", or language close to this. I believe it was this disgraceful attempt of a defense that caused the once notorious liberal writer and now war defender, Christopher Hitchens, to explode on TV as he described Schlesinger as a "bow tied popinjay", or words to that effect. And yet, the recently departed Schlesinger is venerated today more than ever.

If there was ever a more dangerous example of the liberal hermetically sealed hegemony at its perverse and most dangerous, this is it. And it continues with their views on Iraq, global warming and America's future. America's future is dangerously precarious with each day of these folks being in power; yet the Bush Administration continues to cower and kowtow to them. Go figure, I'm clueless.
-- A. DiPentima

MATTERS OF FAITH
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Resent or Repent? and the letters under "Our Sunday Visitors" in Reader Mail's Tuning Out:

In reading the letters under the above topic, I was amazed at the amount of opinions that were stated. Truth carries weight, not opinion. Consider two opposing opinions; one can be wrong and one can be correct, both can be wrong, but both can not be correct. No one quoted book, chapter and verse. One came close though (it was 70 times 7)

How can we know truth? By study and logic. Is the Bible true or is it not? If it is not true then why even belong to a "church"? It would make zero sense. But if it is true then we had better follow it to its fullest.

Luk 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait (very narrow) gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

The word "many", (Greek meaning "polus" = many, much, large numbers) implies there are many "Christian" people who "think" (tzeteo) they will enter the gate but will not be permitted to enter. Why? They did not keep the commandments of Jesus. It's that simple.

Jhn 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

2Ti 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Is Jesus a liar or not?

Jesus spoke this in Jhn 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

If the Bible is true and Jesus is no liar, then we must be able to find the truth.

How do we find the truth?

2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Is there one church or many? Paul said there was one.

Ephesians 4:3-6, 3. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4. [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6. One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all.

We need to stop speaking in opinions and speak in truths. We need to quit following "leaders" blindly and search the scriptures as those did in Thessalonica.

Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Thanks,
-- Kevin W.
Morgantown, West Virginia

Since Mike Dooley decided to write in the spirit of the Portrait of the Artist as a Hun Man, it seems appropriate to recall that the autobiographical character in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man responded when asked whether he had become a Protestant after leaving the Catholic Church: "No. I lost my faith, not my reason." And that's not show biz, Mike, which is your description of Catholicism.

Diane from the Star of the North is so silly in her statement, it hardly merits attention. Nonetheless, it seems worthwhile to point out that besides the main good acts that Jesus encourages as criteria for being in the ranks of the saved ("Whatsoever you do...." etc.,etc., etc.) and the prevention of the opposite, there is this point: Divine forgiveness can be compared to a meal God serves up, as Diane implied. The gift is God's, indeed, and it includes forgiveness.

What Jesus tells us is that when we forgive others, it effectuates acceptance of forgiveness. He wants to prevent the sin of not forgiving and what sometimes flows from that (hatred, revenge, indifference). So Jesus did want to prevent sin in order to have salvation effectuated in us, contrary to Diane's assertion that Jesus didn't spend time trying to prevent sin. Hell has been portrayed as a condition of spoons too long to feed oneself, with people in Hell declining to feed one another. That is, though provided by God with grace, love, and forgiveness, hellish people refuse to accept them by not sharing grace, love, and forgiveness with others.

These refusals are what Jesus wanted to prevent. The sharing is what he wanted to promote so that in those very acts we will be saved. Moreover, some Protestants have pointed out that faith (in God, grace, and forgiveness) is itself a human act -- which Jesus wanted to promote, and the rejection of that act of faith is one thing Jesus wanted to prevent.
-- Richard L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

I enjoy listening to Sean Sanity's radio show and TV show. He often reveals genuine conservative issues. But, I don't think anyone who knows Sean would ever consider him an intellectual or a deep thinker. He is a likeable guy who has a conservative point of view. I am amazed that anyone would consider Sean's comments (the taking the lesser of two evils -- birth control over abortion) as more than the knee jerk thoughts of a not too well educated talk show host.
-- Paul
Gainesville, Virginia

MISSING BEN
Re: Ben Stein's Terribly Exciting:

After I read "Terribly Exciting" all I could think was "Where is Ben Stein and what have you done to him?"

This column was written by a compassionate man who vilifies the greedy rich and laments the fall of the common man and the decline of the middle class at the hands of big corporations and their wealthy owners. He took some shots at investment bankers and he bemoaned the plight of teachers making $28,000 a year.

Obviously this was not written by Ben Stein. That old conservative curmudgeon has not a drop of compassion in his entire body. He doesn't care for the hoi polloi and he loves the rich and their big corporations. He's a cheerleader for George W. Bush, tax cuts for the rich and program cuts for the poor.

So, where are you hiding the real Ben Stein? And who is this liberal who took his place? I'd like to know, because the liberal guy makes more sense than that old heartless conservative curmudgeon Ben Stein ever did.
-- Tom Bell
Aurora, Colorado

Please tell Ben Stein that he gets the economy he voted for. The GOP has been in charge for the last 6 years with no accountability, no oversight, and no limit to their glee in running up this country's deficit.

Thanks Ben Stein. The old GOP of lower taxes, less government has turned into a corrupt big spending totalitarianism.

Thank God the Dems are in to do some fixing!!!
-- D. Chambers

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