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President Obama has just finished a meeting with Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki and is scheduled to make comments from the White House at 11:15 AM ET. A live feed from the White House is at the top of this post and we'll provide updates throughout the president's remarks.

8:18 AM PT: President Obama begins by saying he met with Secretary Shinseki and Rob Nabors, the White House aide tasked to the VA problems. He says they told him their review shows widespread misconduct throughout the system. Shinseki, Obama says, offered his resignation. Obama says "with considerable regret" he accepted the resignation.

8:21 AM PT: "I'm grateful for his service [...] but as he told me this morning, the VA needs new leadership" to fix its problems. The president says Shinseki does not "to be a distraction." In the meantime, Sloan Gibson will run the VA on an interim basis.

8:26 AM PT: In response to a question about what changed in his judgment of Shinseki, the president says the deciding factor was Shinseki's view that he would be a distraction. "I want to reiterate," the president says, "he's a good person." He's walking a fine line here, trying to salute Shinseki's exemplary leadership while explaining why he accepted the resignation. "He's been a champion of our veterans [...] he's not adverse to admitting where there's a problem and going after it." But "we've also got to deal with Congress, and you guys [the media], and I think it was Rick's judgment that he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself."

8:26 AM PT: "I regret that he has to resign under these circumstances," the president says.

8:32 AM PT: The second question is whether criminal activity occurred, and whether the president feels he is personally responsible. The president says the question of criminality is something DOJ will need to address. On the question of responsibility, he says that ultimately, as president, it's his responsibility. But he also offers a defense of the work that he has done on behalf of veterans, and says that he wasn't aware of the scheduling problems at the heart of the current controversy. Aside from fixing the underlying problem, the president is also concerned about how it was possible for these problems to persist without being surfaced, because you can only fix a problem once you know about it.

8:33 AM PT: The president, in a point that implicitly takes on the privatizers, says that the quality of health care at the V.A. is excellent: The issue is the wait list, he says—but when people get access to the system, the care is great.

8:35 AM PT: Final question is whether Shinseki is a scapegoat—whether the firing was political. President Obama says that politics comes into play in the sense that he wants a V.A. secretary that can be focused on the task at hand instead of outside political distractions imposed by Congress and the press.

8:39 AM PT: And with that, the press conference has concluded.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I support Shinseki 100% (67+ / 0-)

    Not as Obama's VA Secretary...not because I'm a Democrat...but because he already established his bona fides with me over ten years ago. He is an honest man doing a thankless job being excoriated in the usual ways by the worst humans on the planet--GOP politicians and FOX News broadcasts.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:14:37 AM PDT

    •  I support his removal 100% (19+ / 0-)

      His actions ten years ago were laudable, and contributed heavily to his selection for this position.

      However, he has held that position for 5 1/2 years now, and he is fully accountable for all that occurs on his watch.

      Fraud has occurred on his watch. Not isolated fraud either, but widespread and systemic, per the report out on Wednesday. It is estimated that this fraud contributed to 40 deaths, but we will know for sure later.

      In any case, Shinseki has failed veterans, the American people and the President. He must be held accountable for the misconduct of his administrators.

      •  The same could be said (15+ / 0-)

        of the President. The buck stops where?

        The only thing that should matter is, will the problems be more easily addressed with Shinseki there, or with him gone?

        I suspect the former, but that doesn't appear to the primary concern.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:25:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The President has other responsibilities. (15+ / 0-)

          Shinseki did not. The management of VA administrators was his whole job, and he failed to do it.

          The President is responsible for Shinseki's failure, as he is the one who hired him, and he is rectifying he mistake by firing Shinseki.

          •  So Shinseki can fire (15+ / 0-)

            the people directly responsible for problem (saying 'the management of the VA was his whole job' is like saying 'management of the United States is Obama's whole job--there's a lot of 'whole' there), and he rectifies the mistake? This specific scandal isn't a sign of bad management on Shinseki's part.

            The truth is, I have no idea if he should stay or go, if he did a better job or a worse one than any other competent person in his situation. But this is almost literally scapegoating (except, y'know, for the goat and the scaping). Maybe it's wise, maybe someone new will turn things around. But I haven't seen a compelling argument other than 'people are yelling at us, make it stop.'

            I suspect that this is a step toward handling outrage, not solving problems.

            "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

            by GussieFN on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:35:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The people directly responsible will go to jail, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              aaraujo

              their supervisors will go to the unemployment line.

              That's what you see happening right now.

              •  Right. The question is, (7+ / 0-)

                'how far up the ladder should that go?'

                The answer could be, 'depends on if we're more interested in handling the scandal or addressing the problem.'

                I suspect that the perfect person to address this would've been Shinseki: he's the one who was personally deceived, and who was penultimately responsible. He strikes me as motivated to the nth degree. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the new person will do a better job than he possibly could've.

                All I'm saying is, that's the question we should be asking. What's the best way to fix the problem? And, is there any argument that firing Shinseki is a step in that direction?

                I mean, it's done. So it's moot. Yay! We rooted out a bad administrator! Our job is done here.

                "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                by GussieFN on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:47:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  At this point, what fool would take the job? (13+ / 0-)

                  As a news report said, the long waiting lists are because the VA doesn't have enough doctors.  That's because it doesn't have enough money.  A wise person wouldn't even consider taking the job of running the VA without an ironclad promise to increase the budget by 50%.

                  We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

                  by david78209 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:06:58 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  In his many years as the head of the VA (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Militarytracy, david78209

                    Why did Shinseki just "trust" his heads and never "verify" the facts.  There were always reports of long delays and he should have gotten thru some layers and reported the underfunding to the public. It was his job and had if he made it public, (like with Iraq) the recalcitrant Republicans in Congress would have been eventually shamed into the needed funding earlier.

                    I knew when Charlie Crist stated that he believed Shinseki should resign that it was going to happen once the report was made public.  Charlie Crist's campaign manager was Obama's. (I kept my keyboard silent when I read all the comments dissing Crist and stating that he was suddenly separating himself from our President...which he never has done)

                    Charlie was also, taking incoming feedback from having two huge regional VA hospitals in Tampa Bay. He has always been very involved with them and our active military in our Pinellas and Hillsborough Co. area.   He showed up to both of my National Guard Sgt. 1st class son's deployments to the middle east and the 1st time he traveled special from Tallahassee to attend.

                •  Motivated != good at your job (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Neo Control

                  The guy may be a great guy, but he simply failed.

                  Sure he may have been able to turn it around but there was no reason to be exceptionally hopeful about that. Past performance is the best indicator of future performance.

                  "'how far up the ladder should that go?'"

                  Thats rather strait forward.

                  The directly responsible go to jail
                  Their supervisors get fired
                  The head of the VA got to resign
                  Obama gets flack and should do some serious soul searching.

                  You ask? "And, is there any argument that firing Shinseki is a step in that direction?"

                  Thats rather backwards it would be better to ask if there was any argument that NOT firing him was a step in the right direction.

                  The man was simply THAT bad at his job.

                  No matter how much you like the guy, incompetence at that level is unacceptable.

                •  Too late to rec the comment, but I agree... (0+ / 0-)

                  I mean the DOJ has utterly failed at literally everything it's responsible for in terms of implementing the President's publicly-stated policies and positions. But Holder still has his job. Not only does Holder still have his job, but the heads of the DEA, and the US Attorneys who have gone overboard prosecuting marijuana cases, while completely neglecting Wall Street still have theirs. At least Shinseki was inclined to immediately get rid of the people responsible for implementing out-policy and dicking around with the President's stated commitments.

              •  The people directly responsible, (12+ / 0-)

                will get re-elected to Congress.

                The last VA bill was championed by Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The law, supported by President Obama and Sec. Shineski, would have specifically set aside money to attract and hire qualified health professionals and to alleviate backlog at the VA among other veterans benefits. Of course, the bill was blocked by Republicans — led by tea partiers in the House and by Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama in the Senate.

                This is all on video: https://www.youtube.com/...

                Republicans block VA benefits, then blame Obama when the VA doesn’t work. Just like they cut embassy security over Hillary’s objections, then blamed her when lax security led to Benghazi. Voters need to get rid of Republicans so we can properly fund our priorities and make government work again, but how to convince them to do that? Who knows.

                •  I totally agree with defiant one. It's the GOP'... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DaddyO, Vetwife, Zinman

                  I totally agree with defiant one. It's the GOP's fault. They all have blood on their hands and have for years. They are traitors always have been. They are trying to privatize the VA and this is the way they will do it. They are scum and I hope the public wakes up soon and gets rid of all of them. SICK and tired of them.

                •  This is another one of the reasons why (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  freakofsociety

                  voting for the "lesser evil" is so important.

                  If the Democrats had their way, we'd have increased VA funding and maybe this crisis is mitigated or averted.

                  It doesn't absolve the VA or the administration of all responsibility, but it's another real world implication of our elections.

                  When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

                  by PhillyJeff on Fri May 30, 2014 at 01:35:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  It is just a step toward dealing w/ reality (5+ / 0-)

              High level bureaucrats who've already fallen short of their mission requirements can't be expected to elevate their game and transform a bureaucracy that serves 10 million people while also managing through a political shitstorm.

              Sometimes you need to clean house. It's not pretty but it's reality.

              Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

              by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:42:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's the argument for (6+ / 0-)

                Secretary Clinton's responsibility for #Benghazi.

                I think it makes more sense to look at the actual facts and try to determine of the high-level bureaucrat was negligent, in some way. If so, fuck 'em, file charges if you can.

                If not, and 'cleaning house' will still help address the problem, fuck 'em. Clean house.

                But if there's no reason to think that 'cleaning house' will help, or might even add a level of disarray to the problem, then it's just 'sometimes we've got to pick up some crappy little administrator and throw him against the wall, just to show the media we mean business.'

                I've no idea if 'cleaning house' will help or hinder efforts to address the problems. But to my mind, that's the key question.

                "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                by GussieFN on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:54:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  What the VA needed was some good (5+ / 0-)

                  whistle blowers.  But...  the military environment doesn't help that, or Obama's treatment of them.  

                  "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

                  by Ginny in CO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:08:18 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Assuming you are referring to Snowdon on this? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    indres, Ginny in CO

                    All those calling for Shinseki's resignation....where were they last week, or month, or year on these problems?  

                    POTUS hit the nail on the head here:

                    Aside from fixing the underlying problem, the president is also concerned about how it was possible for these problems to persist without being surfaced, because you can only fix a problem once you know about it.
                    What is the solution to multiple problems in a complex world and how can serious problems (of all kinds) be effectively addressed?

                    Where are the communication barriers???

                    •  Fixing the underlying problem = S1982 (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ginny in CO, akmk, Dilbatt

                      A few months ago Senator Bernie Sanders introduced S1982, a Bill to greatly strengthen the VA by significantly greater funding, including the construction of dozens of new VA facilities. The veterans' organizations strongly supported the Bill, calling it a major corrective action for what was lacking in veterans' services. What happened was it was filibustered to death by the Republicans in the Senate. No Democrats voted with them.

                      The tragedy of insufficient funding for veterans' care continues solely due to Senate Republicans choosing to be obstructionists. Look how their game works: they refuse to fund required services, then they blame the Administration for insufficient health care for veterans. Meanwhile, real pain is felt by those denied medical care, but the Republicans don't care about that. Scoring points against Democrats is more important to them than the suffering of veterans in need.

                      Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 401.25 ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

                      by Zinman on Fri May 30, 2014 at 11:26:18 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Snowden, Manning, Thomas Drake and (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      akmk, Zinman

                      the others that have faced nasty trials and imprisonment.

                      I am also peeved about this: House GOP Backs Tax Breaks That Add $300 Billion To Deficit   [Huffpo]

                      Your questions are excellent and need significant work to develop the answers and solutions. One that Obama promised and then ? abandoned, was transparency.

                       I do think the military culture contributes to this. While the VA is not military, all vets were military and some things are part of the bonding experiences of serving. Squealing has 2 barriers: making a unit look bad and backlash from command.

                      So there needs to be a real clear process to make complaints and file grievances. I'm pretty sure Vetwife has written extensively on this problem, to the point of acknowledging Michelle and Jill's interest and efforts to help.  

                      The way this developed really needs a lot of attention so that the next time a CiC wants to go to war, the US citizens demand a much better accounting of the upfront, duration and long term costs. We have not adequately funded the VA for at least 3 generations and 4 wars. The VA IT system is antiquated, the active military is still on paper from what I have read. They both need advanced electronic record systems that can be transferred or synched.

                       The increase in numbers of vets qualifying for care had several sources that dramatically increased the numbers. I heard or read a suggestion that funding the VA may need to be taken away from the whims of Congress and put into an entitlement style program. So much money per vet. Privatizing really doesn't work for vets  because the whole system has very different features - before you get to the actual care, which can be much more complex than the general public PCP is familiar with.

                      There also need to be quality control and accountability assessments, which can't be faked, skewed or altered.

                      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

                      by Ginny in CO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 02:53:17 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Problem is, how do you blow the whistle? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ginny in CO

                    Hagel is now investigating active duty military facilities.  I think they may have been incentivizing civilian doctors to " meet budget there too".  All I know is that my contractor PCM is horrible at following through with treatments, proper testing, everything the HMOs did.

                    There is no independent oversight anything to report to to look into anything.  Without that, someone has to be prepared to upend and destroy their whole life trying to get the word out.

                    The system was/is designed that way on purpose too.

                  •  Don't conflate VA and military... (0+ / 0-)

                    "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

                    by CitizenJoe on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:20:57 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Despite the VA being vets, (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      akmk, Zinman

                      they were all once military. The culture goes with them to a significant extent.

                      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

                      by Ginny in CO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 01:59:38 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  For me, it's not "they"--- (0+ / 0-)

                        I've been in both systems. The differences are huge.

                        "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

                        by CitizenJoe on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 08:20:52 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  The difference (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Limpbaugh

                  is this scandal is a bit worse than the Benghazi incident, and Clinton has proven she was relatively ok at her job.

                  This was not a partial failure, it was a complete failure.

                  •  A complete failure? (11+ / 0-)

                    Really? As per a poll downthread, 62% of veterans receiving care from the VA--not just veterans--said he should NOT be fired. Seems to me that they're pretty satisfied with the job he was doing. Seems to me that Obama would ENVY approval numbers like that. Seems to me that they have an even-handed point of view of Eric Shinseki, and you do not.

                    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

                    by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:21:42 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes a complete failure (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Limpbaugh

                      He has some popular support big deal? Plenty of incompetent people have had popular support before.

                      The man got a fair few people killed by nothing but incompatible.

                      You can choose your own poison for what type of incompetence. But that detail does not matter.

                      It sounds like he may be great as an advocate or some other type of position, but at this particular one he was/is not capable of doing well.

                      Never hear of "promotion to the point of incompetence?" Its a real thing.

                      •  Big deal? In the case of the VA, it means that (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Jackson L Haveck, Zinman, van353

                        veterans are gettting some decent care, because that is primarily what the VA is about.

                        Here's a good question:

                        Was the VA better or worse under Shinseki than it was before?

                        While pondering that, you might want to consider the US economy and how terrible it is.  Should we ditch Obama for that or do we find hope in the meager improvements that have taken place?

                        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                        by dinotrac on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:45:01 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Is that really the right question? (0+ / 0-)
                          Was the VA better or worse under Shinseki than it was before?
                          It may be a good question since, obviously if the answer were "no", his removal would almost certainly be called for (assuming no exceptional circumstances such as simultaneous terrorist attacks destroying all major VA facilities and killing most of staff).

                          However, a "yes" answer means little so it's not the "right" question.

                          Suppose my house needs repainting before winter and I hire a contractor who understands that the job needs to be completed by December 21st but when December 21st rolls around only the west side of the house is painted. Obviously, this is a complete failure on the part of the contractor, but the answer to "Is the house in better shape now than when the contractor started?" is "yes".

                          A "yes" answer to this question is necessary, but not sufficient, to judge success.

                      •  I certainly have heard of it (6+ / 0-)

                        Did you read the comment below asking folks to compare those who die waiting for care in Medicare, private insurance, etc? That the numbers are at least comparable, if not better, at the VA?

                        Popular support from the people most directly affected and INTERESTED in the issue has to be the most important poll and support one could ask for...and you pooh-pooh it? They're just easily-persuaded dupes, those veterans who HAVE RECEIVED CARE from Shinseki's VA?

                        I get the feeling no argument or data is going to change your mind, so...but one thing almost everyone can agree on except maybe you is this: This is about politics and headlines, NOT about improving care or making those responsible face the consequences. If it really were...then Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice would all be facing FIRING SQUADS.

                        "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

                        by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:45:55 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  failure? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        DaddyO

                        I think you both make good points. It seems like a complete failure in an impossible situation. The problem won't be easy for anyone to fix. The fact that Shinseki didn't know more about what was going on could very well be an indication of incompetence. But he might also possibly be the best person to improve the situation now that he does know about it. I would favor leaving him on probation while investigating the details of why he didn't know myself. Since I don't know why he didn't know more, either keeping him or not keeping him could turn out to be the best choice.

                        •  That's pretty much my opinion, summed up (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Zinman

                          Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is rarely the right decision, but we almost always choose it inevitably in this headlines-driven America.

                          THAT'S the bottom line here. What do we do? Respond to the NEED, or the HEADLINES?

                          "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

                          by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:04:27 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

            •  ? (0+ / 0-)

              Just curious...I'm assuming your name refers to Gussie Finknottle???

          •  I agree (7+ / 0-)

            If this had happened under GWB, liberals would have excoriated Bush.  Same thing applies to Obama -- he owns this disaster.

            •  This DID happen under GWB. Google Walter Reed. (14+ / 0-)

              Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

              by bigtimecynic on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:07:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  and Bush had huge warnings in 2004 (7+ / 0-)

                about how out of control things were getting. He ignored them. Mush like he ignored 9/11 warnings.

                What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

                by agnostic on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:24:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Mother Jones has some good analysis out (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

                  by Satya1 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:54:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I've heard pretty much these same stories since my (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DaddyO, mmacdDE

                  uncle came home from Korea in 1953. The BIG difference now is that so many veterans think VA care is good to excellent. Back then, VA health care was widely believed among its recipients to have been second rate -- or worse.

                  If the WHOLE truth comes out, people will learn that our entire medical system -- not just for veterans but for everybody -- is badly damaged if not completely broken. A few years ago, when my husband went in 6 months from being a daily runner to walking with a walker to using a wheelchair while going from 175 to 125 lbs., it took 4 months for his primary care physician to get him an appointment with a local neurologist who referred him to another neurologist a few hundred miles away who also had his own 4-month waiting list. The first thing I did every morning during that wait was check to see whether he was still alive.

                  System wide, we do NOT have enough physicians, and we will have fewer and fewer on a per-capita basis as long as the incentives to assume the debt load for training and the work load as an employee of some huge medical corporation are so dispiriting. These corporations are actually doing Kafkaesque time/motion studies to get physicians to see more patients faster than one every seven minutes!

                  As Ronald Reagan asked (I'm paraphrasing), "do you hear that giant sucking sound?" That's corporate executives at for-profit hospitals, medical centers, and insurance companies slurping up the biggest chunk of the resources that should be available to treat both veterans and the rest of us.

                  Firing Shinseki won't change much at all.

                  "Portion of the adolescent prisoners in solitary on Rikers Island who have been diagnosed with a mental illness: 7/10." Tell someone.

                  by RJDixon74135 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:47:21 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And I think keeping him would have made a (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RJDixon74135

                    ...statement that Obama and he were going to FIX it. NOW. Like Sebelius. She had his confidence. Hell, she was ready to step down, but she COULDN'T because of the shitstorm of the rollout.

                    They've sent the wrong 'message' by firing him, or by accepting his resignation. Eh. Giving in to GOP maniacs has been a bad habit of this administration from the very first day.

                    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

                    by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:07:02 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  The VA system should be better, but (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RJDixon74135

                    wait times are ridiculous in general. I finally got health insurance under the ACA and it took 3 months I believe to get my first family doctor appointment.

                    It's not just the VA. The VA should be run better, but who in America gets a first appointment with a doctor in under 14 days?

                    When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

                    by PhillyJeff on Fri May 30, 2014 at 01:38:14 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Y'know... (14+ / 0-)

            I think the GOP Congress and the sequester and two un-funded wars and Benghazi! and Obama sniping had 90% more to do with ANY problems in the VA than Eric Shinseki.

            I used to say the same thing about every President, and I stil do. But all you can do is complain about a President. You can't remove him or fire him. So, yes, as Harry S said so long ago, the buck stops here.

            But firing Shinseki? Who is going to do a better job? How is this NOT simply sweeping the real problem under the rug? As soon as this story cools, NOTHING is going to be done about the problems. If Shinseki were allowed to stay, I would trust him to make changes much better than any alternative I or anyone else could come up with.

            In war and in peace, sometimes the best thing to do is NOTHING. Try telling that to any American screeching for a fall guy...

            "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

            by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:41:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yup. I look at it this way. You can only put out (0+ / 0-)

              wildfires so fast. And Shinseski inherited a huge multistatate/multi-terrain fire.

              If there were a massive fire in my area, I'd be pleased if he were heading up the logistics of getting it extinguished. I mean that quite literally. He has a great mind, a good heart and works tirelessly.

              I don't know who they're going to bring in that can command respect and manage a desperately underfunded VA better. Maybe the GOP would give Petreaus money if he took the job.  The Republicans really dig him, and he is pretty good with guerrilla warfare.

              But he's working as a consultant making good money. And there's that pesky issue of how he left the government previously.

              © grover


              So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

              by grover on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:32:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Shinseki (11+ / 0-)

            also had a complex job to do and your categorical label on him as failure is simply not fair or realistic.

            He succeeded in some areas and failed in others.

            I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

            by Satya1 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:44:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  His failures were very significant. N/T (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AnnieR, Militarytracy
              •  What were his failures? (7+ / 0-)

                I'm not very familiar with the VA except for the underfunding by Congress, some past scandals and this latest scandal. I'd like to see a ledger of Shinseki's successes and failures. Some polls indicated that vets were satisfied with Shinseki, trusted him and wanted him to stay in the position. I assume vets would know something. Are you a vet?

                •  My gosh, really? (0+ / 0-)

                  Only vets are really qualified to have an opinion here?

                  Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

                  by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:54:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sure you can have an opinion. (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jackson L Haveck, Zinman, pashber, van353

                    I'm asking if you have an informed opinion, what facts and experience you use to form your opinion. I don't put any stock in opinions unless I know their basis.

                    •  You weren't challenging anybody else's opinion... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Neo Control

                      ...or credentials.

                      Just the one whose conclusions you didn't cotton to.

                      Information, believe it or not, can come from a variety of sources beyond the personal.

                      I have no doubt that there are a few veterans whose VA experience has been a wet dream.

                      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

                      by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:33:37 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Well the assertion is out there (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Zinman, SoCalSal

                    "His failures were significant."   If so, it shouldn't be hard to enumerate what those failures are.

                    Clearly, he didn't get the wait times down. And he didn't prevent people under his administration from lying about it.

                    The important question is: what could he have done to prevent those failures?

                    I can understand the position that states, even if there was nothing he could have done about these things, he needs to resign to preserve the principle of accountability.

                    That's fine, but if there was nothing he could have done about these things, and we simply appoint someone new into exactly the same situation, then that's not exactly adhering to the spirit of accountability.  It's more like scapegoating.

                    I've lost my faith in nihilism

                    by grumpynerd on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:21:33 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I AM a disabled veteran. I am not happy with him. (0+ / 0-)

                  N/T

              •  You're generalizations about Shinseki (6+ / 0-)

                and the singular focus on him while giving the Bush administration and GOPers in Congress a pass is an overly simplistic view that has no place in a reality based discussion.  

                At no point do I dismiss Shinseki's part in this (as soon as we know the fuller scope of what that part is).

                It turns out the VA has attempted to work on the wait-list incentive system problems in Obama's term.  It turns out that the whole suspect system was started and ignored under the Bush administration.

                But according to VA inspector general reports and other documents that have gone overlooked in the current firestorm, federal officials knew about the scheme at the heart of the scandal—falsifying VA records to cover up treatment delays—years before Obama became president. VA officials first learned of the problems in 2005, when George W. Bush was entering his second term, and the problems went unfixed for the duration of his presidency.

                The underlying issues date back even further. In 1995, as part of a broader overhaul, the VA began pressing clinics to cut wait times for new patient appointments to 30 days. But there was no system for tracking which facilities were meeting this target until 2002, when the VA introduced electronic waiting lists to keep tabs on patients who couldn't be seen within a month. Managers who slashed wait times were given bonuses and other perks. This created an incentive to game the system, especially after veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars began flooding into VA clinics and straining their already stretched resources.

                ...

                VA higher-ups certainly knew about the ongoing problem. In April 2010, William Schoenhard, the VA's deputy undersecretary for health for operations and management, sent a lengthy memo to the VA's regional directors that outlined 17 "gaming strategies" schedulers were using to hide treatment delays—including paper waiting lists.

                But the 2010 memo shows that the VA took some steps to solve the problem. Schoenhard called on VA network directors across the country to take "immediate action" to "identify and eliminate" the gaming strategies and offered detailed instructions for detecting these schemes, which he warned "will not be tolerated."

                ...

                While the VA pressed its managers to redress the backlog, the Obama administration opened the VA health system to a flood of new claims. In 2010, the administration expanded treatment for post-traumatic stress and diseases stemming from Agent Orange exposure—a move that veterans and their advocates had sought for decades.
                http://www.motherjones.com/...

                This is obviously a deeply embedded systemic system with a large number of people trying to profit from it (or keep their jobs) in the face of GOPers denying them the funds they need to do the job.

                I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

                by Satya1 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:49:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  The President has additional responsibilities, but (0+ / 0-)

            the VA is his responsibility.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:40:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I was just going to say... (0+ / 0-)

          "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

          by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:36:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It's really unlikely that Sec'y Shinseki (10+ / 0-)

        I think it's HIGHLY unlikely that Eric Shinseki, himself, had anything to do with the waitlist scandals, or for that matter, a lot of the systemic problems the VA has had to deal with....

        But: as an ex-military man (let alone of General rank), he has to know that responsibility flows upwards, and - like it or not - he had the responsibility - it was on his watch.

      •  The majority of veterans do not agree with your (14+ / 0-)

        assessment.  And did not want Shinseki to resign.

        But, as usual, who cares what veterans actually think.  It's politicians and media pundits and anonymous bloggers who know best.  Richard Burr concurs.

        Watch how quickly all those who attack Shinseki go back to ignoring the fight for veterans lives against the powerful Republican forces that want to destroy it by privatizing and under-funding the VA.

        "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

        by Uncle Moji on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:59:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How do you know that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Militarytracy

          Do a "majority" of veterans report to you daily? weekly?

          I haven't seen one poll exclusively of vets.

          Vet organizations, like the American Legion have called for his resignation.

          •  The American Legion, VFW... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JJ In Illinois, Jackson L Haveck

            All rightwing nutjobs 'leading' their members. All Republicans. All war mongers. All idiots.

            Okay, so I'm overgeneralizing...but I couldn't care less whose resignation they call for. They are among the least objective of any group of Americans since the Teabaggers.

            "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

            by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:51:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  VFW, Paralyzed Veterans of America..heard of them? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            carrps, Jackson L Haveck

            VoteVets.org Poll

            They don't report to me or to you, clearly, daily, weekly, or at all, I'd guess from your response.

            You name one veterans organization to support your point but seem to ignore the rest.  Why?  Do some veterans matter more to you than all veterans?

            The American Legion does not believe in the separation of Church and State (Article 1 of the Bill of Rights) and has lobbied to end the "secular attack" on American institutions and eliminate that separation (I supposed eliminate Article 1 of the Bill of Rights)  They represent a particularly fundamentalist strain of right wing vets focused on NOT on veterans issues but on government supported religion.  Why?  I don't know.

            The VFW which did not want Shinseki to resign is a support and advocacy organization for veterans who have served in combat overseas and is focused principally on veterans health care and benefits.  

            Paralyzed Vets of America, well, you get the idea.

            I remember your peculiar comments on why raising the minimum wage mattered to almost nobody, based on a limited understanding of the scope of the impact of a $10.10 wage hike, and here as there, your comments demonstrate a very limited understanding of the facts at hand.

            But, regardless, General Shinseki has resigned, according to the front page, and those veterans who are impacted most critically by the loss of his leadership at the helm of the VA will be the ones who suffer the most because of his loss.  

            Have a good day.

            "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

            by Uncle Moji on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:15:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  A bit much, you think ? (6+ / 0-)
        In any case, Shinseki has failed veterans, the American people and the President.
      •  It's not so easy to say that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zinman

        The VA is underfunded. They increased funding something like 50% to a system that was already failing veterans and doubled at least the number of patients.

        Many of those patients were suffering devastating injuries because of the elective wars we've just fought. Shinseki actually fought to bring more veterans into the system.

        Are the Republicans going to suddenly increase VA funding now that Shinseki is gone? No, they're going to try to privatize the system and decrease funding.

        When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

        by PhillyJeff on Fri May 30, 2014 at 01:33:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm aware of this. The political battle ahead is (0+ / 0-)

          going to be a shit storm.

          However, finally there is real urgency to solve this issue. Finally we are going to get a VA administrator that actually meets with the President on a regular basis (Guess how many one on one meetings Shinseki had with POTUS. Guess.) and finally we are going to have a media invested in the outcome.

          Those things all give me considerable hope.

          •  What exactly does meeting with the president (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Zinman

            accomplish? Does the president control congressional funding?

            You seem unable to credit Shinseki for ANY positive outcomes. I don't know where that's coming from.

            Do you really think the media cares about the outcome? Remember Walter Reed? We have a tragedy, the media covers the "political fallout" and then ignores veterans as soon as someone dangles another shiny object in front of them.

            I haven't seen ANY media reports about increasing VA funding or basically anything that would make any substantive changes in the VA.

            Everything has been "Shinseki needs to be fired! He's the problem!" Now that he's gone expect this to disappear as a topic other than Republican plans to privatize the VA or expressly political GOP hearings directed at President Obama.

            When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

            by PhillyJeff on Fri May 30, 2014 at 03:38:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Its too late for Shinseki (7+ / 0-)

      Iraq War Vet Tammy Duckworth Says Shinseki 'Has To Go'

    •  He is a deer in the headlights (7+ / 0-)

      By no means do I want to suggest his job is easy or that he is not a good person, but he's not cut out for this post. I think the situation speaks for itself.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:20:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Totally agree (4+ / 0-)

      with everything you just said. This man had a passionate commitment to Veterans. Unfortunately, he got run over by a very corrupt system. Buck stops here and all that.

      KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

      by fcvaguy on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:26:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree 100% with DaddyO (18+ / 0-)

      As a disabled Vet I can tell you the VA both hospital and administration have improved 1000% with Gen. Shinseki.  The blame for the problems at the VA should be put exactly where they belong.  Remember Rumsfeld "we go to war with the Army we have?"  We also went to war with the VA we had and they did nothing to improve it.  Then to add insult to injury the reptiles filibustered a bill to improve the VA in Feb.  They have no shame.

      One of the stated reasons for the Revolution was "taxation without representation." Now we have "legislation without representation" or "representation without legislation."

      by regis on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:43:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tammy Duckworth (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mjd in florida

      wants him gone

      “Our first priority should be the veterans and at this point whether Secretary Shinseki will stay or go is too much of a distraction,” the congresswoman said. "I think he has to go. He certainly loves veterans, but it’s time for new leadership, it’s time to get someone in who will put veterans first. We’ve moved away from veterans being the primacy of the conversation. It’s now a political discussion and that’s now where it should be when it comes to our nation’s heroes."


      "Republicans are shameless dicks. No, that’s not fair. Republican politicians are shameless dicks." - Al Franken

      by AlyoshaKaramazov on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:00:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same as Franken...shame. This is disgusting, they (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        714day

        shouldn't be calling for his head and helping them make this into a witch hunt when the GOP has done everything possible to harm vets.  This is BS, plain and simple.

      •  Duckworth's first priority should be (0+ / 0-)

        to significantly increase the VA budget. That would be much more difficult than calling for Shinseki to resign, but the budget increase is the only way to fix the problems.

        •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SoCalSal

          ...the first priority is to make it clear to everyone down the chain that obfuscation and manipulation of data is completely unacceptable and will result in rapid dismissal and prosecution of anyone participating AND dismissal of their immediate supervisors (and, with discretion, the next level of supervisor as well).

          Without accurate data, all the money in the world won't solve the problem - and if the money was spent wisely won't be known.

          At least Shinseki's firing will make it crystal clear to his replacement that cleaning up the reporting, establishing clear ways to "whistleblow" without retribution (and, with rewards for those who report real wrongdoings), and improving auditing (including talking to individuals who have received service from the VA) is essential.

    •  not unlike HHS Secretary Sebelius's resignation (0+ / 0-)
      .....ending a tumultuous tenure as the public face of the (       )
      politics happens...

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

      by annieli on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:03:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I forgot about that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sweatyb

        But Sebelius resigned when she was READY, not when she was 'forced' to resign by GOP asshats. Obama had her back in the beginning of the 'disastrous' rollout. I don't know for a fact, but who really wants to serve as a Cabinet Secretary for 8 straight years--especially in this day and age of FOX News propaganda cycles?

        From where I was watching, it appeared that Obama would never have wanted her gone as a reflex against that 'scandal'; she stayed until it was RESOLVED, at least in the minds of the general populace.

        Not this time. Instead, Shinseki has 'resigned' in the middle of the crap attack. And who gets hurt?

        "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

        by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:31:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And who gets hurt? (0+ / 0-)

          My son, who leaves for Afganistan tomorrow as an SF Green Beret Medic, 2nd tour. He's a volunteer, unlike me who was drafted in Vietnam. The best care I ever got was miitary Medicaine while I was in the AF as a pilot. Of course, we were paying for wars in those days.

          I know Nurses who worked at VA, and uniformly praise how much better it's gotten. I know Nurses today that are engaged in research on TBI and PTSD, and she hears all the stories about how bad these guys are and the help they need. I dated a government (AF) Nurse for 5 years, and knew how military medical worked (yes I know, active military is different from VA).

          But Wait times??? That's no different from a car dealer. You need a certain number of mechanics to service the customers.

          To decrease wait times, you need more doctors and Nurse Practitioners. To do that, you need funding.

           Shinseki Doesn't do funding, congress does. They are the ultimate cause of wait times at VA.

          But the political climate wants a scapegoat, and wants to blame Obama for...something. Now that Shinseki has resigned, maybe his successor will improve things, maybe not. but given the history, almost certainly not. If Congress won't pay for the war it voted for and consequent costs, all they will do is try and blame someone else. But they're happy that they "got" Gen Shinseki, the one General that stood up to Rumsfeld and Cheney and predicted this whole  clusterfuck.

          And under Shinseki and Obama, many more Vets from my era, Agent Orange (made by Monsanto or Dow Chemical) damaged, were encouraged to apply for treatment. It's taken a generation to let people I fought alonside to be allowed to apply.

          My son is in Army medicine, outside the wire. His job is to get to people who are in a firefight and injured, stabilized, and medevced. He may get injured himself. He trusts that his country will take care of him. He is probably wrong. He will probably leave the Army after this hitch and go to grad school.

          GOP won't fund the VA because they won't raise taxes, and indeed (Bush Tax Cuts) starved the treasury going into two wars that have lasted longer than WWII and WWI combined.

          Maybe Shinseki really hoped that with more funding for the VA in a recent bill he could start turning this around, but the GOP killed that.

          They want to privatize, in spite of the fact that 62% of Vets who are actually in VA care are happy, under the circumstances.

          Kinda tells you where their priorities lie, doesn't it? Fund the VA properly, or use Disaster Capitalism by defunding / unfunding to make it worse so a private for-profit mechanism can take it over.

          Shinseki wasn't fired. he was driven out by the GOP  - and some Democrats - to make sure things don't get better.

          Looks Completely transparent to me.

          Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

          by blindcynic on Fri May 30, 2014 at 03:42:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Honest, perhaps. But, incompetent. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prognosticator

      Listening to the President's bullshit that these scheduling problems never "came to the surface" makes my blood boil.

      These problems were known about at the TOP in 2010!

      All we get from this administration is double talk and spin and lies.

      This memo shows that the VA knew of records manipulation in 2010

      Robert Petzel resigned last week as the top health official for the Department of Veterans Affairs, just one day after testifying before a Senate committee that he knew VA health clinics were using inappropriate scheduling practices as early as 2010.
      What would you call a person who allows this kind of thing to go on for four years without kicking some ass and fixing it?  Maybe as a general his  chain of command was more reliable.  But in this capacity, he was a failure.
    •  you can only fix a problem you know about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mwm341

      Shinseki took steps to fix the problem as soon as he learned about it. The head of an organization as large as the VA cannot be expected to know at all times everything that every employee or group is doing. What counts is what is done when a problem is known.

      This politicizing saddens me. It's a wonder that anyone is willing to take on responsibility of heavyweight and visible jobs in government. I only wish that legislators and Supreme Court justices were held to the same standards.

  •  Has anyone asked what the core problem is? (27+ / 0-)

    Is it too few doctors, too few facilities, too little funding, an outdated process? I've been paying attention and I don't know what the problem is.  Still, I'll bet firing one guy won't solve it.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard

    by illinifan17 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:17:49 AM PDT

    •  It's pervasive (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neo Control, Pinto Pony, shrike, wasatch

      People, process, technology, culture. All of it.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:22:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  All of the above (7+ / 0-)

      Hillary does not have the benefit of a glib tongue.

      by The Dead Man on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:25:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Problem Is That Veterans That Are On (3+ / 0-)

      Medicare are going to the VA instead of their local clinics who take Medicare.  Many of these older veterans don't need to go to the VA anymore because of war disabilities.  The young veterans in my opinion should get priority because they have just come out of two wars.  I don't know why there aren't rules in effect that says if you are a veteran over 65 than you should go to a local facility that takes Medicare first and if cannot find a qualified doctor than you can be seen at the VA.  This would fix the problem in my opinion.  I don't think privatizing the VA is a solution.

      "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

      by rssrai on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:25:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  this may be your opinion (0+ / 0-)

        about how things could be improved, but if older vets are happy with their VA care, they should be allowed to keep using it. Remember, the VA does NOT cover all vets-only those injured in combat or who have low income.

        Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        by hopeful on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:58:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  T'ain't so. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mmacdDE

          I worked for an enormously wealthy WWII vet who had not been injured in combat but enjoyed the camaraderie of his former peeps at the nearby VA in Westwood where he could get "free" services; eyeglasses, hearing aids, basic medical services.
          From the VA site,

          Basic Eligibility

          If you served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well.

          •  The VA has 8 priority groups (0+ / 0-)

            http://www.va.gov/...

            For Payment=higher income, priority 8 do not currently quallify for VA benefits. Other groups are a range of disability and income.

            There is a carveout, in Priority 6 for veterans who served in Vietnam. That may be where "your" vet gets his eligibility.

            Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

            by hopeful on Fri May 30, 2014 at 02:05:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly (10+ / 0-)

      We all knew that after Iraq and Afghanistan, the demands on the VA would be extraordinary. Congress, once again, is guilty of derelection of duty.

      KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

      by fcvaguy on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:28:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Too few resources (9+ / 0-)

      We more than doubled the number of veterans eligible for medical care and increased the budget for it by about 50 percent.

      I want my government to be big enough to drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub.

      by sercanet on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:34:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  None of the above mentioned MONEY (7+ / 0-)

      Who funds the VA? Who funds the government?

      Who runs elections and photo ops on kissing veterans' asses every other year? Who glorifies war and sends them to shooting galleries and makes ordinary Americans looking for work into 'heroes'?

      If Democrats actually ran the government, Republicans would be complaining about them spending TOO MUCH MONEY on veterans. And with any luck, they'd be RIGHT.

      "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

      by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:47:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is a bureaucracy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mister T

      And that is how all bureaucracies run - terribly inefficiently.

      There is no incentive, when working for a bureaucracy, to do better.  As a matter of fact, these people killed vets in order to get bonuses.  So, it was actually a reverse incentive.

      The VA's budget tripled since 2000.  There are currently 4 million less vets than in 2000.

      So, lack of funds were not to blame.

      It comes down to incompetency and a culture that allows it - nay, rewards it!

      •  Not all bureaucracies (4+ / 0-)

        That's a dangerous canard to buy into and popular on the right.

        The Social Security Administration dispenses 99 cents for every dollar in FICA revenue it collects. In other words, its administrative costs are 1%.

        There is tons of OD wisdom on how to get non-profit and government organizations to function at a high level.

        Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

        by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:04:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  SS Admin is the exception, yes (0+ / 0-)

          But, they have a fairly simple main mission.  Collect revenue, dispense benefits.

          I worked at the state level here in Illinois, and I have seen this culture up close.

          There is a very real reason the phrase "close enough for government work" exists.  Believe me.

          •  I have worked for 5 corporations (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sweatyb

            It's not a public sector thing.

            90% of "jobs" are drudgery. 90% of people in those jobs are going to do what they have to do to keep their job and little else besides.

            Most corporate cultures are toxic.

            Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

            by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:31:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Administrative overhead... (0+ / 0-)

          ...is not necessarily a great measure of effectiveness or efficiency.

          In the coming years, there is likely to be a scandal about SS disability claims not being properly vetted for those who don't deserve them and being over vetted for those who do deserve them. If that occurs, 1% "administrative cost" won't be viewed as a feature, but as a flaw.

          But, in any event,

          The Social Security Administration dispenses 99 cents for every dollar in FICA revenue it collects. In other words, its administrative costs are 1%.
          isn't very meaningful. The SSA is collecting more money than they pay out due to demographics. By this measure, in 1937 through 1939, a period where there were no recipients but most workers/employers were paying in up to 2% of their salary, the SSA would have had −∞ "administrative costs" -- but eventually the money that was collected has to be paid out. By this definition, when the trust fund begins to shrink (soon), the "administrative costs" will begin to climb to unimpressive levels even if the SSA becomes more efficient in reality.
          •  A few questions (0+ / 0-)

            First, what sort of crystal ball do you have about upcoming SS scandals?

            Secondly, re: your math: if the correct figure today is 1% of revenues, and the department doubles its overhead to manage a larger pool of beneficiaries (not going to happen, but stay with me for this thought experiment) then assuming the revenues stay static it's still 2%.

            I disagree profoundly that margin is not a good measure of efficiency. That's what we're talking about here.

            And it's not magic. Government may be challenged in attracting "the best and brightest" -- that's a reality of the labor market. But it is also a reality of economics that scale delivers margin. Were we to privatize social security as Bush The Dimmer proposed, it would have been broken up into a bunch of contracting interests with redundant infrastructure and overhead, and the whole shooting match would have become far less efficient (unless you happen to be one of the investment banks invited to play in the sandbox).

            Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

            by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 02:08:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The error in analysis was,... (0+ / 0-)

              ... as you stated it, that the administrative costs could be determined by the difference between SS revenue and benefits. That is not in any sense a measure of administrative costs for Social Security.

              As you know, this difference can be negative if the age demographics of the contributor/recipient pool is weighted, at a particular time (as it has been for decades), towards younger people who are contributing but not yet collecting. Surely you would not suggest that means that SS had less than 0% administrative costs? Indeed, by this computation, the overall administrative costs for the entire program have likely been negative for its entire existence (unless the total administrative costs have exceeded the current size of the trust fund - adjusted for time value of money of course).

              Perhaps the 1% number is real, but if calculated as you say, it's just a coincidence.

              The spike in SS disability claims suggests that many who have applied in the past few years really aren't disabled -- there's no reason I can think of that a rise in unemployment should cause a significant rise in actual disabilities. I think it's much more likely that some who can't get a job are applying for disability when they could work -- not being able to find a job does not mean you're disabled. It appears that there are insufficient SS investigators to track down most of the frauds and hiring more (thereby increasing the real administrative costs) may be more than paid for by trimming the rolls of those who don't deserve it and, by example of criminal prosecution, discourage others (including slimy lawyers and doctors who are involved) from making fraudulent claims.

      •  I've heard differently (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mmacdDE, WillR

        Since the first Gulf War, the VA has been improved consistently. During the 2009 ACA debate, progressives on this very blog and elsewhere used the VA as a GOOD example of the government providing health care; conservatives loudly mocked them for their stands. It's just not possible to have it both ways.

        Every bureaucracy ever created is also the easiest target on the planet. Especially when someone's making a point. But all I've heard about the VA in the last ten years is about how much better it is than in the days of post-Vietnam and Korea Wars, when it was TERRIBLE...

        "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

        by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:25:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why didn't he declare an emergency then? (5+ / 0-)

      Because it is an emergency.

      And he is responsible for incentivizing "meeting budget" and not services provided.

      If he had declared an emergency in front of the cameras the beltway would have to listen.  He didn't.  He had never been courageous in that fashion.  All his military career he was rewarded for not rocking the bureaucracy boat too much, but just enough to stand out himself.

      He is not the fighter the VA needs

      •  Thank you Tracy. (0+ / 0-)

        With all the good that he has done in the past,  it was Shinseki's main job at the VA to "rock that boat" and "shout" to get the necessary resources and funds for the massively increasing size of the program.

      •  Why didn't Obama? (0+ / 0-)

        I completely agree with your question, and would have liked that scenario to have happened, but...

        From elsewhere on this thread, it's been reported that Obama has met with Shinseki TWICE in the years of his term--and one of them was about TODAY. If anyone's ignoring ANYTHING...

        "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

        by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:27:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

      I think it's all of that.

      And given all of that, they do a really good job.

      If they had more facilities and money, they could do a better job.

  •  He is fired. Good. N/T (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zornorph, Militarytracy
    •  No. It's not "good" (9+ / 0-)

      Maybe it is necessary.  But is never "good" when an actually good person is pushed out of government because he (or she) did not succeed in bringing a problematic agency under control. Perhaps, he should have been given more help and support earlier.  Did he ask for it -- and it wasn't forthcoming?  Or vice versa.  We don't know.  But it is certainly more appropriate to feel regret than to wave your hands in the air and shout in triumph.

      •  I am no shouting in triumph, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shrike, Militarytracy

        I am sighing in relief. Now we can finally get someone in place who can fix this mess, and with a mandate to fix it.

        Shinseki was a deer in the headlights. His testimony before Congress was absolutely damning to my confidence in him.

        •  Running the VA and testifying before Congress (5+ / 0-)

          Not necessarily two skill sets that are matched in the best candidate.

          "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

          by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:50:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neo Control, Militarytracy

            Which is why you don't want somebody who's embattled politically running a bureaucracy, regardless of his estimable resume.

            It is unfair that Shinseki falls on his sword while Republicans aren't held accountable for defunding the VA. No doubt. It doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do at this juncture.

            IMO.

            Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

            by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:55:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  How would this scenario played differently? (0+ / 0-)

              Shinseki stays

              President gets daily briefing on discoveries and progress

              Shinseki fires the guilty including those requiring Senate confirmation

              President berates any elected or candidate who opens their yap about the reorg while it is in progress

              Repukes bitch but don't vote any more money or give up confirmation authority on top VA positions

              Dems beat them up in radio & TV ads

              Meanwhile top management people from outside of government are recruited and hired on contractual basis to clean up 69 years of neglect

              . . . just sayin'

              The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

              by llbear on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:36:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I've been to the VA only one in my lifetime (5+ / 0-)

    to in-process into the program after coming back from Afghanistan.  

    It was not unlike any other hospital or medical clinic that I have ever visited.

    The staff and the patience all seemed happy and content to me.

    I do not have any service-related issues so that may be my only interaction with the VA, ever.

    •  I hope not. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife

      You should see your primary doc twice a year if for no other reason than to establish your medical history. Those of you who have returned with no apparent problems may not know that where you were exposed you to chemicals you never knew about. Agent Orange is the classic example of that. It took 20 years before I showed symptoms. I'm now 69. Yesterday I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis.

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:09:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  When this investigation is actually complete (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaddyO

      I predict that we're going to find that a dozen or so "bottlenecks" were perpetrated by fewer than 100 people in total. Inexcusable, but certainly no excuse to trash the entire VA system. The reasons for creating the bottlenecks will be petty and trivial compared to the impact on those deserving so very much more.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:15:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So Everything's Going To Be Fixed Now, Right? (19+ / 0-)

    Congress is going to vote to give his successor the resources to actually DO the job?  Y'know, like MONEY?

  •  I've been expecting this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, wishingwell, Neo Control

    Really, there wasn't any other option at this point.

    This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

    by Ellid on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:23:20 AM PDT

  •  US Senator James Webb should be the next (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, PsychoSavannah, DaddyO

    Secretary.....

  •  Fixes nothing. Systemic under-resourcing by design (24+ / 0-)

    This is where the bully pulpit should come into play. Right now the President should be chastising Republicans for blocking every veterans bill for years. All in the name of "costs". He should be blasting the way we always have money with no offsets for war, but never have money to treat the veterans.

    He should call on Congress to immediately--TODAY--appropriate 100 million to begin the process of fixing the problems, and he should call for it to be done with no offsets.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:26:50 AM PDT

  •  bull (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northerntier, Aquarius40, Bailey2001

    shit!

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:28:04 AM PDT

  •  Republicans took out Shinkseki (14+ / 0-)

    When the hell are they going to take responsibility for the God damned fuckup in the VA because of funding cuts?

  •  Countdown to new Issa investigation in 5..4..3.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, DaddyO

    Because 'investigating scandals' is way more effective at using for fundraising than actually governing and trying to fix a problem.

    "War is not a political game." - Senator John McCain

    by Fordmandalay on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:32:01 AM PDT

  •  It's not Shinseki who's the distraction... (12+ / 0-)

    it's the outrage factory commonly called the GOP/TP/Libertarian Party that is MAKING shinseki the distraction.

    THE GOP/TP/Libertarian Party put a spur in the hoof of the VA (I am referencing a Rifleman episode, btw) and then said the the VA was broken. That is, underfunding and creating an underfunded Iraq and Afghanistan 10 year war yielded a whole new crop of veterans on top of our WW2, Korean, Vietnam and other vets in need.

    The system could not handle such an underfunded demand.

    And then they made the very person who knows the most about the VA resign, just out of their bloodthirsty and rabid manufactured outrage.

    This NATION is a reeking pile of shite anymore.

    Ugh. --UB.

    The Republican Party is run by the KOCH BROTHERS.

    by unclebucky on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:34:33 AM PDT

  •  Who are they going to get to take the job now? (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe McCain.  He would be terrific.

  •  Look, Obama KNEW the VA was fucked up (17+ / 0-)

    when he took office.  He knew this.

    What I am amazed at is the fact that this White House STILL does not understanding DAMAGE CONTROL and taking CONTROL of any controversy.  They continue to let that shit spin out in the wind!!!  Where is the War Room on Republicans?

    And is this administration going to go after the GOP for DEFUNDING the VA?  Are they?  Because that is 1/2 of the problem here.  Are they going to call them out BY NAME?  Or play pussy-foot with the GOP again.

    This is why Democrats are frustrated with this administration and rightfully so.

    •  THIS (5+ / 0-)

      there was no need for this to spin this far out of control; indeed the first 6 months-1 year of ANY new administration should be discerning what's working, what's not, and how to fix what is not working.

      Now some of this stuff would have happened to ANY administration...I never did understand how Condi Rice held on to her job anytime after 9/12/01.

    •  "Can't anybody here play this game?" (6+ / 0-)

      Instead of the pre-emptive failure of accepting resignations, POTUS should have publicly proclaimed that he's not accepting Shinseki's resignation. He should then have given the podium to Shinseki, who would then have gone down the list of "asks" from the VA system that have been denied or otherwise left to rot by Congress. Then Reid and/or Pelosi would have come to the podium to present a selected list of proposals that had been killed by various miscreants, naming actual names of those who had personally killed funding or other initiatives, with emphasis on names and actions that should have the greatest impact on upcoming elections.

      But no, we get more of what KILLS Democratic partisan fervor. Stupid, stupid, stupid. At some point, political calculus must enter into your decisions and actions. We really don't have the luxury of ignoring that aspect of the daily grind inside the beltway.

    •  Possibly the laziest administration... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      icebergslim

      ... during my lifetime in terms of actually keeping tabs of the functioning of government departments and agencies.  Mind you, executive supervision during certain previous administrations may have had some malign intentions, but it existed.  Not so much now. Now, it's basically  "hands off" until there's a PR problem.

      •  Your mileage may vary (4+ / 0-)
        Possibly the laziest administration during my lifetime in terms of actually keeping tabs of the functioning of government departments and agencies.
        The government that presided over FEMA during hurricane Katrina and watched an American city drown on television with the rest of us, is by far the laziest and most incompetent administration in my lifetime in terms of actually keeping tabs of the functioning of government departments and agencies.

        This was the same administration that presided over the Walter Reed Medical Center neglect.

        I just don't see a chronic, systemic problem across agencies that merits this administration as being the laziest administration.

        "I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights." (From "You Said a Mouthful" by Bishop Desmond Tutu - South African bishop & activist, b.1931)

        by FiredUpInCA on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:30:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I totally disagree with this (0+ / 0-)

        I think this administration has done a better job of keeping the "trains running on time" than any in a long time.  For example this administration's FEMA has been exceptionally on the ball.  Despite this scandal in the VA this administration's VA has done an admirable job of clearing up the backlog.  Just to name a couple of ways this administration is not lazy,

  •  Regret? Probably not. (8+ / 0-)

     photo ObamaRegret_zpsf14f605e.png

    If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

    by SpamNunn on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:37:53 AM PDT

      •  Does that imply that the image is true? and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bigtimecynic

        just unfair to our Dear Leader? Who now assures us, with that "serious" face, that he will declare the thing we call the Afghanistan War to be "over" as of Dec. 31, 2016? So that we are getting closer to finding out who the last person to die for our sins and imperial stupidity in Notagainistan will be?

        Bunch of nice safe fucking COWARDS, playing their little Game with the troops and our economy and security as tokens, all cozy there inside the Imperial Bubble. So they've killed the sacrificial lamb, no more to see here, move along, because after all, neoliberalism is never having to pay for your predations and idiocy, and don't forget the shit they were selling, including Obama and his "chained CPI" and other crap, DEFICIT!

        "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

        by jm214 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:50:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Shinseki is a war hero. He did a bad job carrying (4+ / 0-)

        through the President's original campaign promise to reform the VA.  I wonder how he could have done better, given that today's meeting was only the second one on one meeting he has had with the President since he took office. You can look that one up.  

        If reforming the VA was really a priority for the President, he would have done something when he had control of Congress.   He did nothing.    

        Now, he throws a war hero under the bus, instead of asking him what he needs to complete the mission the President promised he would undertake.   That's what he should have done, and taken the heat for not supporting the mission.

        Do I think my post was justified?  Yes.  Yes, I do.  I believe that the President thinks that giving the wolves some red meat to chew on a Friday will take some of the heat off of his office.  

        It won't.  

        This is a major problem that must be addressed.   There is a VA hospital in every state, so every member of Congress will be on this during the coming election cycle, and veterans come in Red and Blue.  And they vote.  

        If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

        by SpamNunn on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:11:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just another excuse to scream bloody murder (0+ / 0-)

          at Obama. If you seriously believe that Obama or Shinseki
          were behind this you are nuts.
          What about the Sequester and massively underfunding the entire government by GOP?
          That too must be Obama's fault. Why won't he lead.

        •  I agree completely (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SpamNunn, Jackson L Haveck

          It's politics, Obama's specialty. And politics can't hurt him now. So we're seeing the 'real' Obama--the one who met with Shinseki TWICE. Oy.

          "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

          by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:34:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You mean for the 4 MONTHS he had 60 votes (0+ / 0-)

          in the Senate which included such deficit hawks as Blanche Lincoln and Max Baucus?  Because that is the sum total of the time he had "control of the congress" due to the delay in Al Franken getting seated and Teddy Kennedy passing.  During that time the economy was in free fall and he was trying to get health reform passed.  

          As for Shinseki's resignation, forced or not, I am on the fence about it.  On one hand I can see giving him the chance to clean up the mess.  On the other sometimes a fresh start is needed.  See Target.  It certainly wasn't the CEO's fault there was a massive security breach but both the CEO and the CIO left in order to give Target a chance to move forward without that baggage.  

          •  He managed to get the ACA passed then, didn't he? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Militarytracy

            Not exactly "free fall economy-centric" legislation.  

            That still does not make the Republicans responsible for the VA lying about the problem, instead of screaming to get it fixed.  The onus is on the VA and the President for that.

            If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

            by SpamNunn on Fri May 30, 2014 at 02:17:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I disagree. To me HC reform is at its heart (0+ / 0-)

              economic legislation.  So, to me, it was "free  fall" legislation in my estimation.  Also where did I say that the Republicans are responsible for the cover up?  I did not so kindly do not make  completely unfounded assumptions.

              In fact I said I was on the fence about Shinseki resigning because I do think as head of the VA the responsibility lies with him, more than anyone, for the cover-up.  

  •  Wonder why? (4+ / 0-)

    So, you ask a top-notch person to do the impossible for too many veterans with too few resources and too little money and then, when he can't meet expectations, is excoriated and then fired.

    Wonder why the VA hospital administrators felt that they had to falsify records to keep their jobs?

    I want my government to be big enough to drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub.

    by sercanet on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:38:40 AM PDT

  •  Good answer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, mwm341

    Especially considering the turds we have in Congress.

    President Obama says that politics comes into play in the sense that he wants a V.A. secretary that can be focused on the task at hand instead of outside political distractions imposed by Congress and the press.

    I ♥ rock crushers.

    by fly on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:39:14 AM PDT

    •  WE are turds, too -- letting this play out the (6+ / 0-)

      usual way, sacrifice the dude who told the truth too many times, and applauding the Only POresident We Got for doing what, again?

      A little aside: I'm a disabled vet, and a nurse. I get VA and Medicare medical care and treatment. Both have problems, the Medicare from greed and special interest warpage, the VA from overlodaing and underfunding and a bureaucracy that includes a lot of Reagan and Bush-attracted and selected employees, just like a lot of other Big Federal Agencies, that all being a part of the Reagan Revolution to cripple, though not reduce, Big Government. Guess what? Thousands of people with private health insurance, and Medicaid, and Medipass, and even Medicare and Tricare and stuff, DIE WHILE WAITING FOR APPOINTMENTS TOO. Anybody taken a look at equivalent statistics for the general public? A person in the last stages of CHF or cancer may die "waiting for an appointment" and stuff like that. What a surprise that it happens to VA patients too...

      What the VA hospital admins did is sick and wrong, but it's part and parcel of the hypocrisy that we all swim in every day.

      Maybe we could concentrate on NOT MAKING ANY MORE WOUNDED WARRIORS, since "we" are finally leaving Notagainistan via a "Vietnamization" scenario that can in no way prop up the Kabul regime, in no way create a self-sustaining national police and army, and once again do a Big Huge War, $4 or $6 trillion, find out that trying imperial land wars in Asia is a losing proposition, and now Obama is making noises about pulling in our Imperial horns a little bit, but not until enough damaged troops have been made and enough of the nation's wealth has been transferred to the War Machine and corruption in far off places.

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:06:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pot, meet kettle (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Uncle Moji, northerntier, BvueDem, wasatch

    How about all 56 Republicans who blocked a bill that would have expanded veteran's benefits, resign as well.  Their reason: "too expensive".

  •  now... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Uncle Moji, Aquarius40, DaddyO

    unnecessary capital has to be expended getting someone else confirmed for the job.

    Bad, bad move.

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:52:00 AM PDT

  •  Great job, Mr. Obama. That will satisfy the GOP! (7+ / 0-)

    After all, the bully NEVER comes back for more lunch money....

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:56:00 AM PDT

  •  so now GOP has their scalp (0+ / 0-)

    the question is are they really serious about reforming the VA or is this just posturing.  If the former, maybe they should revisit their decision to filibuster funding increases for the VA.

    1. Books are for use.

    by looty on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:59:14 AM PDT

  •  Shinseki is a scapegoat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caniac41, wasatch, Jackson L Haveck

    Pure and simple. A highly competent military officer and leader, a man of integrity and honor who was overwhelmed by an overloaded, underfunded, and dysfunctional system. Now the hyenas will call for dismantling the VA and giving veterans vouchers for health care, an idea that must be discredited and debunked immediately. We are living with the tens of thousands of casualties returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The system must be scaled up to care for them, and yes, that means MONEY, and lots of it. VA Primary Care Physicians compensation tops out at $195K. The MEDIAN income for PCPs is $221K. For specialists, the disparities are even worse. How is that going to aid in recruitment?

    Start off by forgiving student debt of doctors and nurses. How about exempting VA medicos from federal income tax? The next SecVA has to be someone with experience and skill in running a health care organization, not just an old soldier. Much as I love Jim Webb, he's not the guy to do it.

    Finally, keep the heat on Congress to provide adequate funding. Hit those 41 Republicans in the Senate who squelched funding. Put the blame where it belongs.

  •  we need to hold the GOP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northerntier, The Termite

    squarely accountable NOW unlike what we've let them do with Beghazi. What is the real problem? Not enough resources? Why? GOP has refused to adequately fund these efforts for years.

    Yeah, maybe Shinseki should've been hung to dry as a "figure head/symbol" for VA issues, but who is going to take his place?

    Should Hillary be hung out to dry because of Benghazi? I don't think anyone here would argue that.

    How do we change the conversation?

    Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    by hopeful on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:03:46 AM PDT

  •  and to those (4+ / 0-)

    who truly believe that the VA has not improved in 40/50 years, you are dead wrong. It ain't perfect, but it is better.

    Take a look at the movie "Article 99" to see how much better it is.

    Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    by hopeful on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:04:42 AM PDT

    •  Absolutely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jackson L Haveck, 714day

      I've talked to a lot of Vietnam Vets while waiting in my VA clinic, and they all have said it used to be far worse. Heck, I've only been a veteran for 14 years, and even I've noticed improvements.

      Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole. - Ta-Nehisi Coates

      by moviemeister76 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:11:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The asshat Republicans dirty tricks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northerntier, BvueDem, Caniac41, DaddyO

    First, they successfully filibustered and stopped a VA funding bill a few months ago, and now we find that the VA didn't have the resources to hire the doctors and staff to do a complete job in every hospital.   And Shinseki has to take the hit?   It sure looks like the Republicans set him up to fail and he failed in a few places.  And now the Republicans can crow about it?  Why hasn't the (right wing) conservative mass media telling it like it really is?  

  •  Thank you, Sir, for your service to our Nation, (6+ / 0-)

    General Shinseki.  

    As usual, the ever honorable warrior, you left your future in the hands of your commander, and sadly, he blinked.  

    Kama'aina, time to return home, Sir, time to come back Hawai'i where we understand and venerate our military and our veterans. Where veterans are not simply another momentary "feel good" accessory for craven politicians, media know-it-alls, and the latest vehicle for the "jump on the bandwagon" types, but an on-going commitment based in gratitude.

    Our nation remains forever in your debt for the service you have given to our people and to our veterans.  

    Honor, sadly, is lost to the politics of our time, but not to you.

    Mahalo.

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:15:16 AM PDT

    •  Run for the Senate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Uncle Moji, mwm341

      Hawaii sent the late great veteran Daniel Inouye to D.C....send Shinseki BACK there to finish the job!

      Best way to turn lemons into lemonade I've seen on this thread. Very good post, Uncle Moji.

      "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

      by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:39:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a tremendous idea, but I don't think General (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jackson L Haveck, indres

        Shinseki would consider such a wonderful opportunity for the people of Hawai'i to have another veteran like him serve the state, at this time in his life.  

        He's a man of a different, more honorable time, and the Senate has devolved into a place where petty politics are placed about duty to your country and personal honor.  

        The good thing is that he will always be honored and respected in Hawai'i.  We understand that, like our other native son, how the game is played on the Mainland is different than in a place where older people are called "auntie" and "uncle" by local kids as a sign of respect on an islands so small, they probably are your ohana (family) in some way.  

        I am disappointed in Barack and in Tammy Duckworth, but I understand that this is how things are done in Washington.  I know that in their hearts, they are heartbroken, but politics "ain't beanbag" as they say.  

        We do our best, and accept the consequences for the failures and successes on our watch.  I felt the successes out-weighed the failures, and the General was addressing those failures when they came to his attention.  But others of good will, one of good will, disagreed.

        Sad day for veterans.

        "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

        by Uncle Moji on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:56:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You can't win if you surrender (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Uncle Moji

          It's up to General Shinseki. If someone suggests it to him at the right time...but I know what you mean, and can't really say you are wrong. Personally I think he'd be a GREAT Senator. Imagine him serving as many decades as the idiot McCain...or as VP. It could happen.

          "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

          by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:41:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hate that the GOP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    carrps, indres

    got their wish - and hung this guy out to dry AGAIN - after Rumsfeld did it during the Bush Administration.  

    What is the over/under on the GOP blocking any attempt at putting someone else in charge.  The MF'ers 'won' again. Damnit.

    Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

    by Caniac41 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:33:47 AM PDT

  •  I am deeply appreciative of Shinseki's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite

    efforts but also support his replacement.
    First the good:
    1. increased coverage for people as me who have severe PTSD, AO illness, head trauma, but only minor bleeding wounds. In VN, WWII and Korea, it was generally only a wound if one bled.
    2. improvement in the application and interview process.
    3. expansion of mental health and chronic headache services
    4. expansion of other services for homeless, education and training.
    The bad:
    1. little apparent oversight of VA hospital heads
    2. nothing to reduce the VA crony system
    3. too much trust of VA heads who are largely cronies of the elite
    4. apparent cluelessness and refusal to believe that VA heads and employees are as vile and venal as they are.

    IMHO this is Obama's largest crisis and will be bad for dems in the fall elections.

    And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

    by shigeru on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:36:11 AM PDT

    •  I take a different view (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shigeru, mwm341

      It looks like Shinseki moved the ball in the right direction at the VA but he had to deal with a bad bureaucratic system and also a massive increase in a demanding case load due to Bush's 2 wars. Most Americans will take a realistic view of this issue and most will look at it from their own personal experience...which has largely improved for the majority of veterans under Obama.

      Obama is pretty good at getting stuff done once it has been determined that there is a real problem that needs fixing.

      Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit http://www.globalshakedown.com.

      by khyber900 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:47:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think we agree in principle but may (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        indres

        differ in terms of what will resonate with the public between now and the elections.

        Shinseki did a lot that improved my lot as I noted above. However, he should have been able to see that much of the entrenched VA heads do not give a shit about veterans' well being. Many in fact have been appointed only as a political favor .

        My story is that it has taken 60 days so far to get an appointment, took 15 months to file a successful claim and has taken 6 months so far to get an appeal through. I do have some other, costlier options that I use so I am not as bad off as some. But even with this the situation is 200% better than it was in 1970, 1980, 1990 and the aughts. At least the basic ailments are recognized and there are people to answer the phones.

        BTW did you know that standard open hours for VA services are from 8 am to 4 pm (local time) only? It would seem in the case of severe crises it might be profitable to increase hours to 10 hours a day.

        And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

        by shigeru on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:02:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Obama asked Shinseki if he felt he could (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, sweatyb, mwm341, doroma

    be effective at fixing the problem and he said he could not because he had become a target of politicians and the media.  It seems to have been a forthright assessment on his part.  I'm sure his replacement will be focused on fixing the problem.  This will fade from the news within a week or two.

    Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit http://www.globalshakedown.com.

    by khyber900 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:43:53 AM PDT

  •  Eric Shineski (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    carrps, indres, DaddyO

    General Shinseki resigning brings two other people to mind. George Tenet seemed like the opposite of Eric Shinseki. Shinseki disagreed with the Bush Administration on troop levels in Iraq, and he was right. Tenet went along with hyping up the false WMD threats, and he was wrong. Tenet was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And as disgraceful as that was, the other two honorees at the time, Tommy Franks and Paul Bremer, might have been even worse. It casts doubt on the accomplishments of people who deserve their medals, and diminishes their awards.

    Whether or not Shinseki should have been ousted, I don't know. Maybe the situation was bad enough where he should have known more. Maybe he set unrealistic goals for the VA and didn't follow up enough. At worst, he is an honest and honorable man who wasn't up to the task. I personally favored giving him a chance to correct the problems, or at least waiting until more facts are known. That brings me to the second person I am reminded of, Shirley Sherrod. She was forced to resign after Andrew Breitbart made her look racist with a deceptively edited video. She was actually speaking out against racism but Democrats panicked and acted based on Fox News coverage before they got the facts.

  •  My Goodness (5+ / 0-)

    So many tears for Shinseki, not so many for those that died and died suffering, probably even suicided.

    My husband soldier is an independent and once I expressed grief over a General being fired and he shhhhh-ed me.

    "We don't feel sorry for Generals in this house.  They are all well cared for.  Go look at the boards he sits on Tracy!  Some fall on a sword for the nation, some don't, but they are all well cared for and die rich men!"

    He's right.  And Veterans need help now.  Eric Shinseki failed them.  And before you start sobbing for poor poor poor Eric Shinseki you might want to go take a look at the boards he sits on.

    •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Militarytracy, Neo Control, Mr Robert

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:08:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I support Shinseki not because he's a general (0+ / 0-)

      ...but because the actual vets who got care under him support him to the tune of 62%.

      Who else has an opinion more important or to the point than THEIRS? You got it wrong, kiddo, very wrong. He was and still is the best man for the job, based on the improvements he has made, and NOT the scandals that would have happened no matter who was in charge.

      "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

      by DaddyO on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:45:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The soldiers sleeping on park benches (0+ / 0-)

        Or locked in their bedrooms at home did not weigh in on this poll.  More functional Vets were available for this polling.  IMO it's bullshit at this point.  I want the poll displaying the votes of only Iraq and Afghanistan Vets.  Let's take a good look at that poll!

    •  Whether or not there were secret waiting lists (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Militarytracy

      the VA was underfunded. These vets would not have been seen any earlier - it would have just looked worse for those administrators.

      What is going to change with a new VA leader? Is congress going to appropriate more money? The new push from congress is to privatize the VA.

      No one is saying that they don't care about the vets who died or have suffered. We want something done about it.

      And if more people listened to Eric Shinseki 10+ years ago a few thousand of those veterans would be a live and tens of thousands wouldn't be terribly injured.

      I think he deserves some credit for that one.

      When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

      by PhillyJeff on Fri May 30, 2014 at 01:49:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hear you (0+ / 0-)

        But it's sort of Bullshit, doesn't fully add up

        Shinseki was handing out bonuses for meeting the existing budget.  He was working hard to not expose the need for more funding and guess what?   Here we are!

        •  If Shinseki knew or should have known (0+ / 0-)

          that these guys were covering this up then yes, it's very bad for him.

          Shinseki was handing out bonuses for meeting the existing budget.  He was working hard to not expose the need for more funding and guess what?   Here we are!
          From what I understand there have been terrible backlogs since 2002 and they were working very hard to improve things.

          There's no evidence that Shinseki was trying to fake evidence to justify the existing budget. These administrators were for some reason trying to justify things. I don't know if it was stress, greed, or incompetence.

          But you're assuming that had these goals not been met the Republican led House would have increased funding.

          From past experience, I can tell you with near absolute certainty that had the truth been discovered earlier the Republicans would have been fighting to cut funding from the VA and privatize it.

          So there was no incentive IMO for Shinseki to hurt vets and try to make the system look good.

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Fri May 30, 2014 at 03:35:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Mother Jones article is a must read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indres

    http://www.motherjones.com/...

    It discusses the root origins of the wait list incentive issue under the Bush administration.  It mentions a few improvement for expanding vets coverage (and thus taxing resources more) under Obama and discusses some of the response to the wait list problem.

    There is a deep systematic problem here and Shinseki in the face of an increasing influx of patients and lack of funding by the GOP deserves a little more of a listen than he is getting from some of the comments..

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:59:13 AM PDT

    •  Obama let Shinseki throw himself under the bus (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Satya1, Jackson L Haveck, sweatyb, DaddyO

      on this one.

      When real leadership was needed.  As a FULL FORCE press conference by Obama and Shinseki addressing the politics and DEFUNDING of funds for the VA.  With Shinseki listing the GOP rejection LINE BY LINE.

      Instead we got a President that let shit fly in the wind with NO PUSHBACK.  He did not defend his own man, Shinseki.  That there is WEAK leadership, especially when you KNOW where the problem is.  The CONGRESS run by GOP.

      •  I'm inclined to agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jackson L Haveck

        I really get the "avoid the distraction" angle.  But for Shinseki who was in that chair for so long and also has some successes to show for it...  I just think he deserved a little more time and a different strategy in that time for holding the GOP accountable.

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:14:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  what he did wrong (0+ / 0-)

    Veto 23 billion for vets in February then act surprised at systematic problems that many have been screaming about for years, WTF? The solution  to the wait problem is very simple to fix.  If the appointment is going to take longer than acceptable send them to the local medical market and send the bill to Washington. it will be expensive, (and why is that? could the real problem is our health care system is broken?) Problem  solved.

    What did Shinsecki do wrong? He should have screamed louder or maybe lit his hair on fire and yes for that failure, I do think he should be fired along with 3/4th of congress.

    Anyone who thinks that Eric Shinseki was the problem with the VA should look into some serious self reflection. like way to many problem is this country we would rather stick our collective heads in the sand than address the real issues. I know the drill ,lets get indignant, blow a lot of hot air then go back to not making changes because it's too expensive. Change is hard, doing what is right is sometimes even harder and the hard truth is some times may even take sacrifice.

  •  Isn't this how it is supposed to work? (0+ / 0-)

    I’m not sure, why is the administration not getting credit for the fact that they are actually holding people accountable for all of these issues that are supposedly scandals. Think of all of these scandals and the procedure seems pretty dang straight forward.

    Benghazi – Problem happens, investigation initiated, people in positions of responsibility fired or resigned.
    IRS – Problem happens, investigation initiated, people in positions of responsibility fired or resigned.
    VA – Problem happens, investigation initiated, people in positions of responsibility fired or resigned.
    ACA Website rollout – Problem happens, investigation initiated, people in positions of responsibility fired or resigned.

    Obviously for Sibelius (sp?) with a Senate situation that would never allow a replacement to be named, she could not step down even if she should have.

    This is the way it is supposed to work, we have just gotten used to it not working that way.

  •  And now, yet another nomination that'll get (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sweatyb

    filibustered to hell and back and go nowhere! Hooray!

    •  Cabinet Positions (0+ / 0-)

      can't be filibustered now after the rules changes...
      But Obama will probably appoint a Republican anyway...it's well known Democrats can't be trusted in any leadership positions when it comes to the Military or National security...just ask any pundit.

  •  Obama now owns this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    icebergslim

    the same way he ended up owning the botched creation and rollout of the ACA, the Sequester fiasco, and the Debt ceiling cliffhangers.
    In his never ending obsession with trying to appease and beg for Republican approval at any cost to satisfy his Ronald Reagan fantasies, he once again sees a situation that should have been squarely placed on the shoulders of the obstructionist Republicans come back to bite him instead.
    Will he ever, ever learn?

  •  Just heard john boner come out and say " the ve... (0+ / 0-)

    Just heard john boner come out and say " the veterans deserve better ". Yes. Better than the GOP that treats them like shit until they need to get votes

  •  "Shinseki firing political", that is the question? (0+ / 0-)

    "Do Bears poop in the woods?"  Imho, he is a scapegoat.  

    My uncle is a Korean Vet who works as a VA patient advocate in Phoenix.  He is a Republican who scorns the decades of veteran neglect.  It is truly a bipartisan cluster f*ck.

    President Obama and staff are not focused on the tasks at hand.  We supporters are constantly in a damage control mode, pourquoi?

  •  Taking a Scalp.....then what (0+ / 0-)

       It's been a few hours and I am still angry about Gen Shinseki resignation.    What does it solve - Nothing.

         I took to FB to the DEM Senator's who joined in the "we demand a scalp" - and told them I am done donating to your campaign.

          It doesn't solve anything.  What I fear is that now that this ritual is completed - the entire issue will go away/ be buried.   GOP have already said they don't want to increase spending - its the deficit you know - now please ignore the +600 B that we just added to it with our re-authorized in tax cuts.

           Scalp Taking is one of the dumbest ideas ever - did it solve anything in Abu-Ghraib - or did it just go to other rendition sites.  

  •  Good. It's about time. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:33:48 PM PDT

  •  I didn't even see this here (0+ / 0-)

    And I thought no one on here had posted it. I wasn't aware that this happened so early in the day.

    Obama is the most progressive president in my lifetime.

    by freakofsociety on Fri May 30, 2014 at 03:51:56 PM PDT

  •  Of course if Shinsheki had been in charge (0+ / 0-)

    of a  multi billion failed airplane he would have been promoted to something.

    ALL of our institutions have been hollowed out by the greed ethos. There are none left with heart intact or souls for that matter. So the zombie is all around us - me

    by glitterscale on Fri May 30, 2014 at 05:10:09 PM PDT

  •  Likely a victim of the GOP's crush Obama's game... (0+ / 0-)

    Look, it's obvious there are serious problems going on at the VA, and in a perfect world, there would be agreement between the parties to not inject partisan politics into trying to address practical problems with practical solutions. Want to use the issue on the campaign trail, fine, but when it comes to legislating fixes to problems involving our veteran's, let's do the work jointly, and in good faith. Do the damn work, and save the politics for your campaign ads.. Obviously, not the GOP's M.O.

    Too bad, because I believe Shinseki was pretty damn serious about improving the state of affairs with Veteran's issues, and likely would have done a good job taking on this situation.

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