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Obama approval graph, steady since 2010
"Forty-six percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing, up 5 points from late April€" http://t.co/...
@DemFromCT
Matthew Dickinson:
My point is that we should not be surprised by the VA operators’ behavior. Nor should we expect that the solution to the problem lies in hiring more “honest” schedulers, or in replacing the recently fired VA Secretary Eric Shinseki with a more competent executive. Operators, such as the VA schedulers, define their tasks in response to situational imperatives, and not the well-meaning directives of reformers. Calls for “clearer standards” or “more transparency” are unlikely to have much impact as long as there remains a disjunction between what schedulers are asked to do – and how they are evaluated – and what it is possible to do, given limited time and resources. Like most bureaucratic scandals, the fault lies less with the failing of individuals than it does in systemic factors that govern how those individuals behave within a particular bureaucratic context.

Similarly, it is easy to blame Shinseki for his failure to “manage” the VA, but the truth is that Shinseki was not hired by President Obama because of his working knowledge of the situational imperatives that dictate how VA schedulers do their jobs. Instead, he was appointed for his symbolic value as a former military officer who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart.

Dan Munro:
Fellow Forbes Contributor (and physician) Paul Hsieh cited three factors underlying the most recent allegations of corruption at the VA (here). Referencing a New York Times article, Dr. Hsieh summarized the three factors as:

1) Doctor Shortage
2) Perverse Incentives
3) Culture of Dishonesty

He’s absolutely right – on all three counts.

Philip Longman:
Well, yes, as the author of the title Best Care Anywhere, Why VA Health Care would be Better for Everyone, it’s been dispiriting to have it confirmed by a preliminary inspector general’s report that some frontline VA employees in Phoenix and elsewhere have been gaming a key performance metric regarding wait times. But what’s really has me enervated is how the dominate media narrative of the VA “scandal” has become so essentially misleading and damaging to the cause of the health care delivery system reform.

I don’t mean just the fulminations of the right wing press. It’s nothing new when Fox rolls out Ollie North to proclaim that any real or reported failure of the VA is proof of the case against socialized medicine.

I’m also talking about the work of hard-working and earnest reporters, who due to a combination insufficient background knowledge and the conventions of Washington scandal coverage, wind up giving the public a fundamentally false idea of how well the VA is performing as an institution. Over the next several days, I plan to make a series of posts here at Political Animal that I hope will be helpful to those covering the story, or for those who are just trying to get the full context for forming an opinion.

More politics and policy below the fold.

AP:

The number of companies offering health plans in New Hampshire under the Affordable Care Act will increase from one to five next year, the state insurance department said Monday.
Ta-Nehesi Coates:
I wanted to take moment to reply to Kevin Williamson's Case Against Reparations. I wanted to do that, primarily, because his piece covers many of the most common objections to my piece, but also because I've always been an admirer of Williamson's writing, if not his ideas. Among those ideas is a kind of historical creationism which holds that "race" is a fixed thing. The problems with this approach are many, and duly apparent from the outset.

Williamson says he is opposed to "converting the liberal Anglo-American tradition of justice into a system of racial apportionment." He then observes that, in fact, that tradition, itself, has always been deeply concerned with "racial apportionment." Thus within the second paragraph, Williamson is undermining his own thesis—if the Anglo-American tradition is what he concedes it to be, no "converting" is required. We reverse polarity for a time, and then we all live happily ever after.

Or probably not. That is because Williamson's entire framing is wrong. Reparations are not due because black people are black, but because black people have been injured. And the Anglo-American tradition has never been a system of "racial apportionment," but of racist apportionment.

More on this important topic in this forum presented by Black Kos.

Frank Bruni:

We no longer have news. We have springboards for commentary. We have cues for Tweets.

Something happens, and before the facts are even settled, the morals are deduced and the lessons drawn. The story is absorbed into agendas. Everyone has a preferred take on it, a particular use for it. And as one person after another posits its real significance, the discussion travels so far from what set it in motion that the truth — the knowable, verifiable truth — is left in the dust.

The economy of contemporary journalism encourages this. It favors riffing over reportage, and it’s lousy with opinions, including the one expressed here. I sin whereof I speak. I also present this as a confession and a penance.

Simon Maloy:
If you go back and search for that era of journalism in which facts were nailed down concretely before interested parties co-opted the story for their own purposes, you’ll find that it doesn’t exist except in the gauzy reminiscences of mid- to late-career pundits.

This culture of reverence for The Good Old Days that never were is particularly strong at legacy media outfits like the New York Times, which long enjoyed the capability to dominate news coverage — both in terms of what was covered and how it was covered – before people started writing things on the internet. The loss of control over the narrative is what Bruni is really upset about, which becomes clear as his column transitions to critiquing the coverage of the firing of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson.

Ron Fournier:
What Your Opinion on the Bergdahl Swap Says About Your Views Toward Obama

We know next to nothing about Bergdahl or the president's plan to monitor the terrorists he freed. So unless you're partisan, it's too soon to form an opinion.

TPM:
Republican operatives apparently believe there's something to be gained by painting Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a deserter.

The New York Times ran one of the manifold articles Monday focused on resentment toward Bergdahl among some of the soldiers in his unit, and the paper disclosed the interviews were arranged by GOP strategists.

Kathleen Parker:
Obama critics naturally saw the president’s mouth tip in a smile, though it could be interpreted as a grimace. What was he to do, grab the microphone? Stare grimly at a father announcing the release of his boy after five years in captivity?

There is nothing trivial about these events, but the questions raised are, nonetheless, “Homeland”-ishly intriguing: Did Bob Bergdahl convert to Islam? Did his son? Did Bowe Bergdahl abandon his post, as fellow soldiers claim? Is he a traitor?

Until the Army provides answers, we’ll have to make do with speculation. Meanwhile, the only question that required an immediate response was, did the United States want Bergdahl back and what were we willing to trade?

This was indeed a hard choice — and the answer had to be yes.

If you don't remember what it was like right after 9/11, just watch the GOP on Bergdahl: it was like that. Reflexive jingoism, pressure to conform, false patriotism. It's all there on display.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Maybe making appts for their heartwarming symbolic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JJ In Illinois, exlrrp, rl en france

    value isnt such a great idea. Esp for offices like Head of the VA with major responsibilities. Is the VA Chief just supposed to be a decorative prop? The way Shinseki hid from the press and, much more important, most VA employees, except for his small circle of yes men who wouldnt give the boss any bad news and blocked anyone else from trying, suggests he KNEW he wasnt up to the job and was afraid everyone would figure it out.
    You want symbolism? Wear a flag pin or stick a bald eagle paperweight on your desk.

    •  Irrelevant as Philip Longman shows (10+ / 0-)

      The VA wait times problem is an issue confined to the parts of the US that are lacking VA facilities. In places like the Twin Cities in Minnesota, VA wait times are almost nonexistent.

      Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

      by Phoenix Woman on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:04:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same in Detroit. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rl en france, Amber6541, salmo

        Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

        by judyms9 on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:10:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  San Antonio has horrendous wait times. (0+ / 0-)

        But until the last military base alignment closures, San Antonio was home to three air force bases and two army posts.  I would wager a good 20% of the families in San Antonio include one or more veterans.  The population of military retirees here is huge.

        So I would say contributor (and physician) Paul Hsieh's  three factors underlying the most recent allegations of corruption at the VA , as referenced by Dan Munro, gets only two factors correct:
        1) Doctor Shortage - Absolutely
        2) Perverse Incentives - No argument
        3) Culture of Dishonesty - This is wrong - I have never heard the VA referred to as having a culture of dishonesty.  
         The third factor should be the number of soldiers and veterans the agency has to serve with limited funds.  There are not enough hours in the day to schedule appointments for the burgeoning numbers of patients entitled to care, much less enough doctors to handle the load.
          And I would add a fourth factor:
        4)  Shortage of facilities.

        It's amazing to me the wait is not much, much longer.

        "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

        by SueDe on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:13:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They wanted Shinsecki fired (18+ / 0-)

      because Congress can then pretend that they have accomplished something, and won't waste time on House Committees actually investigating and finding out what actually needs to be fixed.
      This is not Shinsecki's problem, it's been going on for decades:

      Despite a growing number of public officials calling for his resignation in light of a new Inspector General’s report on the dramatically longer wait times in a Phoenix hospital than what they were reporting, General Eric Shinseki is not the problem at the Veteran’s Administration (VA). The calls for him to be fired seem to be from those want a quick and simple solution to what is a much deeper problem. Firing someone, anyone, appears to be “doing something,” whether or not it will help or hurt the search for a solution.

      Given the general’s history and capability, he has actually made many things much better at the VA during his term of office. Forcing him out now is likely to make the situation at the VA worse — not better — as there will be no one in place for some time to actually take charge to fix the problem. A new secretary, even after the staggeringly long time it would take for nomination and confirmation, will take months more to learn who is who in the department: who is trustworthy, who is or is not competent, and which systems are the root cause of the problems. No one gets four stars without being extraordinarily capable; thus Shinseki may actually be the best person to identify the sources of the problems and to get them fixed.

      The fundamental problems at the VA are systemic and not individual, though some individuals undoubtedly did very bad things. In large organizations, it is systems that drive behavior. No one individual, even a cabinet secretary, can dictate systemic behavior to such a degree.

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/...

      Even though Shinsecki resigned, those calling for his firing were short sighted and obviously had no interest in fact finding.

      •  Virtually tipped (3+ / 0-)

        N/T

        Obama is the most progressive president in my lifetime.

        by freakofsociety on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:58:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The WH was justified in firing him (0+ / 0-)

        and God knows Im not an Obama booster.
        Saying the problems were systemic, or systemic but not universal, isnt a defense. Shinseki was there for years, yet says he was unaware of the true nature of the problem because his people lied to him, despite media reports, blowback from veteran's groups and negative internal reports. Maybe he should have cleaned the wax out of his ears. And this is the guy you're going to trust to find new people who wont lie to him and fix the problem? No company would do that.
        The question about the time wasted getting a new head confirmed is also a nonstarter. Obama will quickly appt an acting head and he will be the de facto director.
        Going thru a rain dance at COngress will be a job for the next admin.

  •  What journalism? It's bad performance art (4+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:44:37 AM PDT

    •  here's some good journalism (5+ / 0-)

      Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky

      http://www.nytimes.com/...

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

      by Greg Dworkin on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:46:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As we all know, "murky" is a good enough (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541

        connection to keep that story alive.

        It has been chronicled as "fact" on myriad conservative blogs, web sites, facebook, Twitter, etc..

        And forever more, Google will offer up these sites as "proof" when someone searches "6 soldiers died looking for Bergdahl".

        Facts?  Facts?  We don't need no steenkin' facts!

        (That would make a good sig line!)

    •  It's the Same as Candy Making or Cell Phone Data. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, KingBolete

      Raw material gathered at the least possible expense, given the least possible added value, sold at the highest amount the clientele will pay.

      And like everything else humans do in enterprises, it has to compete with the sometimes high returns from under-regulated finance for investors. So journalism damned well better be seriously profitable.

      That in a nutshell is press freedom, a value that along with speech freedom Americans hold even higher than the Constitutional system.

      Anyone's free to practice journalism, unless they have to answer to owners and investors. It's not only the law that can infringe freedom.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:58:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Munro -- Yup. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exlrrp, KingBolete

    Hmmm. How many times have  I said that the existence of Medicare and Medicaid is a symptom of what's wrong with our health care "system"?  Guess I should add VA care.

    And -- how many times have I bemoaned the fact that Democrats went after the outer skin of the onion (insurance) and called it health care reform?  Better than nothing, I suppose, even if it is expensive, reduces choice, and subjects us all to IRS enforcement for the simple act of breathing.

    Genuine health care reform would cure sooooo many ills.  Wonder if we'll ever get it?

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

    by dinotrac on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:45:02 AM PDT

    •  not with R majorities in Congress (10+ / 0-)

      it's that simple. true fact, dino. Mull it over.

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

      by Greg Dworkin on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:47:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  btw, don't make a common mistake (14+ / 0-)

      VA is a health care system, so is Kaiser, but medicare, medicaid and O care are not.

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

      by Greg Dworkin on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:48:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True that, but we wouldn't need medicare or (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo, Hoghead99, Amber6541

        medicaid if we had a rational health care system that provided care for all.

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

        by dinotrac on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:53:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That would interfere with evil rich people (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Amber6541, FogCityJohn

          making money.

          I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

          by a2nite on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:12:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Read the Philip Longman link in this post. (5+ / 0-)

          The VA "wait times scandal" only exists in those places with a shortage of VA facilities relative to the population.

          Notice that you're not hearing about wait time scandals in Minneapolis or Detroit? There's a reason for that, and it's not because of a "cover up", it's because there are no wait time problems in those places.

          Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

          by Phoenix Woman on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:12:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  An interesting essay, almost surprised Greg (0+ / 0-)

            included it as it goes against the prevailing Democratic party talking points.

            It absolutely makes sense that wait times were fraudulently reported only in those places with doctor shortages.  That kind of fraud usually results when wrong-headed review standards are applied to a difficult or impossible situation. If you don't have enough doctors to handle the load and refuse to adjust the way you evaluate the people running the place, those people tend to get creative.  It happens in private industry and it happens in government.

            But -- here's the part that goes against talking points:

            We keep hearing how dreadfully underfunded the VA is, even though it's funding has gone up by 50%.  If Longman is to be believed, and he seems a pretty credible source, the actual number of vets has tailed off significantly, to the point where many VA facilities are seriously under-utilized.  Even with the newly eligible vets, that 50% increase might be more than enough if VA resources were redistributed to match the distribution of veterans.

            Don't know how political the siting of VA locations is, but that could represent VA mismanagement.

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

            by dinotrac on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:10:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  eh, long time readers like yourself (5+ / 0-)

              know i don't just post propaganda.

              "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

              by Greg Dworkin on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:42:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  this is the issue (3+ / 0-)
              Don't know how political the siting of VA locations is,
              It's a political as the siting (or closing) of military bases.

              If it was a matter of shifting resources, closing or downsizing some underused facilities and opening new ones because of shifting demographics, they would have been doing that already.

              When congressional approval is required politics trumps rational planning.

              •  Bingo. From a few days ago: (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Urban Space Cowboy, glynis, wonmug

                Real fixes would involve closing treasured local pork and reallocating resources. Even if budget was there—and the original comment is way off if you look at budget increases in light of demand increases and long term neglect—such actions would run into a buzz saw of pork protection.

                I've no idea on the actual numbers related to that large Fargo facility, but I noted the sparsely populated region has quite a few smaller facilities. We can be sure they are major employers in such places and removal of that payroll would be fought to the death even if the ratio of VA doctors and health professionals to vets was downright outrageous compared to more populated and needful areas. There would be frothing at the mouth.

                Bloody hunks of our tax "pork" is the staple of a set of politicians with near zero interest, though loud mouths, in actual effective performance. The rest may not be disinterested in the stuff, but compared to the real addicts they are casual hunters. The real addicts tend to want to "drown government in a bathtub" as long as the payroll being drowned is outside their electorate map. Inside? They will fight tooth and nail to keep a damn Army buggy whip shop going! They will fight to staff a VA hospital down to the single, last vet in commuting distance. They aren't interested in the vets (except as bloody banners at election time), they are interested in the $$$$$ in their districts.

                At a deep level I expect it is one of the nightmares of those Congresscritters representing large numbers of trees and cattle and fields in proportion to their hated "urban" fellows. Reallocation of resources to where people live . . . nightmare.

                The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                by pelagicray on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:56:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Unnecessarily snide (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Urban Space Cowboy

              You know, if you want to accuse Greg of being some kind of dishonest shill who only posts links that support his views, then please have the courage to make the accusation directly and then face the consequences. Your thinly veiled attack on his intellectual honesty is as unfair as it is unsupported.

               So please have the courage of your convictions and state plainly what you're trying to hide beneath the weasel words.

              "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

              by FogCityJohn on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 08:30:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I take it in the spirot (0+ / 0-)

                dino dishes it, which is to say I'm way harder on him than he is on me.

                Deservedly, i might add, but no offense taken either way.

                "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

                by Greg Dworkin on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:46:33 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  However, it is perfectly reasonable (0+ / 0-)

        To use the terminology "US health care system".

    •  No simple solutions (3+ / 0-)

      Just go read the BBC website on all the difficulties the National Health Service is having -- the same kinds of issues one would expect when the government is trying to keep costs low (and similar in many ways to the US), such as understaffing in hospitals that put patients at risk, doctors not using known best practices, and wide disparities in care and outcomes between different facilities. A fully public system is subject to the goons cutting funding (just because they can), and to all the same temptations to corruption, fraud, etc. that our current system has.

      I'd still rather see a more public or single-payer system -- but do not expect that it would solve everything.

      •  No magic bullets, that's for sure. (0+ / 0-)

        But the NHS is a very good deal and its results stand up pretty well.

        In the US, such a thing might be exactly what it takes to keep people focused on Washington shenanigans.  Or it might result in the appropriation of two aspirin per voter.

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

        by dinotrac on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:14:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  bin Ladin.....Obama didn't do that....it was the (6+ / 0-)

    Seals.....He was just sitting around watching.

  •  I'm willing to wait for more info on Bergdahl, (0+ / 0-)

    but so far, it doesn't look good.

    And even if the GOP is taking advantage of the situation and actively promoting testimony of Bergdahl's fellow soldiers, it doesn't mean the soldiers are lying.  However, as these things usually go, I doubt we'll ever get the real truth.

    Also, the White House's excuse of Bergdahl's poor health also looks likely to be bullshit as well.

    Taliban video shows Bergdahl release

    While he might have any number of hidden illnesses not apparent on a video, his condition doesn't seem dire enough to justify the White House's violation of the law.

    But at least we're not talking about the VA debacle as much!

  •  Some say, some say? (10+ / 0-)

    Oh my.  Top of the last hour, a CNN tool did a double “some say”.  

    SOMEthing like:  “Some say the President made a bad deal for who some say is a deserter.”

  •  Thanks for the roundup, Greg (5+ / 0-)

    It would be almost amusing to watch the Bergdahl hating if it weren't so expected. But just think--now there is a new Rethuglican meme for election season:

    BERGDAHL BENGHAZI!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:52:39 AM PDT

  •  I'm stunned by the confidence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sweatyb

    some here have that he Bergdahl situation will backfire on the Republicans and not Obama. Do we not think the media is going to take their side? they already have. The NY Daily News is practically calling for Obama to be impeached over this. Some British news outlets called it "a PR disaster."

    there's a good chance I think this backfires on the administration badly, perhaps worse than any other scandal.

    •  Frank Bruni gives some perspective above. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bufffan20, a2nite
    •  or perhaps not and just goes away (6+ / 0-)

      A week from now we could be talking about something else.

      Remember the VA scandal?  Nobody is talking about that.

      One thing about the media it shifts to the next "hot" in a minute.

      President Obama, January 9, 2012: "Change is hard, but it is possible. I've Seen it. I've Lived it."

      by Drdemocrat on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:01:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think it will hurt them in the future (5+ / 0-)

      Like their opposition to the ACA is hurting them now.

      The Republicans are so desperate for a scandal that they're trying to create one out of a POW exchange. They don't even understand that this is GOP territory they're blowing up. Support for the troops, patriotism, leave-no-man-behind machismo. They're submarining all of that to score cheap shots against who? Bergdahl? He's nobody.

      I think the GOP is walking a fine like here between dissing this American POW (and his dad?!) and diminishing all POWs and undermining a central tenet of the American military service that has stood since Vietnam.

      If they can stay under control, they might pull it off and walk away unscathed (they gain nothing and lose nothing). But this group of headline seekers and outright morons isn't exactly known for its restraint.

      As when the Benghazi obsession sank Mitt Romney, it's usually not the initial response that hurts the Republicans (our press is too craven). It's that they don't seem capable of letting go of their fantasy. They are repeatedly hoist on their own petard and each time they think "next time I will put more explosives in the grenade".

      •  idk (0+ / 0-)
        They don't even understand that this is GOP territory they're blowing up. Support for the troops, patriotism, leave-no-man-behind machismo
        But this is a different scenario. They're painting this guy as a traitor who put good patriotic troops in jeopardy, so it doesn't stray too far from that.

        Idk, I'm just not ready to assume this would backfire on them.

    •  Why don't you send the RS and TP links... (0+ / 0-)

      ...to the NYDN, then?

       Or post them in their comments sections where they can be seen?

      Don't assume they know what's relly going on here.

      http://thinkprogress.org/...

      http://m.rollingstone.com/...

      Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

      by Phoenix Woman on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:10:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mika....'I'm hearing all the noise around the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hulibow

    (Bowe) story.

    Yep....noise o'plenty.

  •  Never heard of this Matthew Dickensen (0+ / 0-)

    But he sure is an asshole...

    Obama is the most progressive president in my lifetime.

    by freakofsociety on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 04:57:57 AM PDT

  •  Anything to get "their voters" to turn out (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tampaedski, Amber6541

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:02:35 AM PDT

  •  My Dad was a disabled Battle of the Bulge WW2 (11+ / 0-)

    veteran. He spent the last ten years of his life in pretty bad shape physically and mentally living in Tucson. The services he received from the VA Hospital in Tucson while he was living at home and in the end at their Hospice were top notch and comprehensive. The hospital itself was the cleanest and best run I have ever seen. The staff were caring and competent. Just thought I would add my anecdote to the pile.

  •  Questions About Reparations (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JJ In Illinois, Stude Dude, Amber6541

    Since the issue of reparations is being raised, I have some highly specific questions for supporters of this policy.  

    1) Who gets them?  Who is "black"?  Do people with mainly European ancestry, but who are black by US social standards, qualify?  What about people descended from Caribbean immigrants who arrived post-1865?  Their ancestors were slaves, but not of Americans.  How do we weed out black people descended from African immigrants whose ancestors were never slaves (in the US)?  What about socially "white" people who turn out to have a proportion of black ancestry?  If Rush Limbaugh turns out to have had a slave ancestor, does he qualify?  How do we decide who gets these reparations?

    2) How much do people get?  What is the rationale for determining the amount?

    3) Who pays for them?  Is a special tax that black people are exempt from going to be set up?  Or do black people pay taxes to pay for their own reparations?  Are white immigrants who arrived post-1964 required to pay the tax?  What about Native American nations with a history of owning black slaves?  Can a federal tax apply to them?

    4) Which injuries are the reparations paying for, and how do we determine who was most exposed?  

    5) The situation is unique in that black people do continue to experience ill effects due to the history of slavery, segregation, and widespread discrimination, but living black people did not experience all of those directly.  More concerning, white people cannot control the past behavior or their ancestors.  If you support reparations for black Americans, do you support other circumstances in which penalties for wrong actions by ancestors are placed on descendants?  Should this principle be extended to other crimes?  For example, the brutal BTK serial killer had a family, who were not involved in his crimes, and indeed small children or not born when crimes were committed in some cases.  Families of his victims still suffer psychological harm.  Should children and grandchildren, and perhaps all descendants, be required to make financial payments to victim families?

    6) Many systems of discrimination against groups of people worldwide are grounded in claims that ancestors of a group of people committed some wrong deed.  If we accept the idea that people should be held responsible for actions of ancestors in the past, doesn't that mean that such systems are justified?

    7) What about white people descended from abolitionists?  Large numbers of white people opposed slavery.  Do we make an effort to figure out who is descended from who, or do all white people make restitution for the bad acts of uncontrollable actions of some white peoples' ancestors?

    8) What if a modern white person advocates racist or white supremacist policies, but is found to have substantial slave and/or abolitionist ancestry?  Should that person's reparations burden be more based on the actions of their ancestors at the time bad actions were committed, or on their present attitude?

    •  My grandfather emigrated from Europe in 1917 (0+ / 0-)

      so I am exempt!

      Another good question.. Does Barack Obama pay himself?

      Or, since his father was from Kenya and Obama has no slave blood in him, does he not get reparations?

      •  Your family benefitted from the 14th (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, JJ In Illinois

        amendment. You're white so you're more Anerican than me although we've been here longer.

        Congratulations!

        I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

        by a2nite on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:45:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  they're good questions but TNC has tried to (4+ / 0-)

      answer them.

      read also:

      The Radical Practicality Of Reparations
      A Reply To David Frum

      The Case for American History
      A reply to National Review's Kevin D. Williamson

      and the other essays here

      http://www.theatlantic.com/...

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

      by Greg Dworkin on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:25:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Link does not show any answers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541, JJ In Illinois

        I already saw that link.  It makes the false analogy to Japanese American internment.  Those reparations were paid directly to the formerly interned people.  Internment was a recent and direct active US federal government policy, so the paying of reparations by the US federal government has a clear rationale.  None of this is the case for slavery etc.  If living people had been kept as slaves due to a direct US federal law, of course I would support US federal reparations for those people.

        Beyond that it seems to merely note the obvious, that slavery, segregation, and racism were horrible social wrongs.

        I deeply resent even the slightest implication that my questions in any way understate the horrible human atrocities of slavery, lynching, segregation, open racism, etc.  We all agree that those things were horrific.  

        Obviously 99% of people who comment at Daily Kos believe that we should abandon racism in all forms going forward, and I am one of them.

        However, the question of whether having some contemporary people give other contemporary people money in a legal settlement like way, SPECIFICALLY  for actions that were out of the control of all parties, is a highly relevant one.

        The idea holding individuals responsible for actions that they did not commit and could not possibly have controlled is a very non-progressive, anti-humane, and dangerous one overall.  

        •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

          Coates answers this misguided critique in the post Greg links. He explains that sovereigns do not go out of existence, and thus they remain liable for their previous actions.

          To take an obvious example, no one would contend that the Russian or Argentinian people had any real say in the actions of their former authoritarian governments. Yet Russia and Argentina remain liable for the debts incurred by those governments, although they doubtless spent money on things -- like gulags and disappearances -- that their populations despised.

          So, too, is the American government liable for its past wrongs. Those wrongs continue to have very real, identifiable present-day effects. Why shouldn't the American people bear that responsibility?

          "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

          by FogCityJohn on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:23:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The pro reparations view (3+ / 0-)

      is that these are things that can be untangled. The idea that we would let the mechanics of how keep us from discussing the moral case of why is not persuasive.

      However, my view is that the mechanics of the thing is the essence of the thing as the moral case to me is clearly already won. For most normal people. There isnt much more any of us can do to convince people that Slavery, Jim Crow, and modern American racism are historic wrongs. Those who dont agree by now just arent going to be persuaded by anything.

      But I go beyond even that: Even if you could come up with a number and a mechanism for gathering and appropriating the money, it isnt clear to me that it would actually make any difference...if that is one of the goals.

      But I am glad Coates used his platform and credibility to bring the subject to the forefront. Well done.

      •  then answer questions about moral case (0+ / 0-)

        "The idea that we would let the mechanics of how keep us from discussing the moral case of why is not persuasive."

        The mechanics ARE the moral case.  Who is giving exactly what to whom and what is the rationale for determining who gives how much, and to who?  That IS the moral case.  

        "However, my view is that the mechanics of the thing is the essence of the thing as the moral case to me is clearly already won. For most normal people. There isnt much more any of us can do to convince people that Slavery, Jim Crow, and modern American racism are historic wrongs. "

        Agreeing that they were historic wrongs does not mean agreeing with any 'reparations' strategy whatsoever.  The moral case AGAINST SLAVERY, SEGREGATION AND BIGOTRY is clear.  The moral case that people should pay for the uncontrollable actions of dead ancestors is not clear.

        Before I go on let me note that discussion of reparations is a symbolic issue, since there is no reasonable probability of any legislation on the issue, but that my concern here is that when progressives take stances that are imperfectly thought out, the progressive stance on highly relevant contemporary issues may suffer by association.

        These questions all address the moral case -

        5) The situation is unique in that black people do continue to experience ill effects due to the history of slavery, segregation, and widespread discrimination, but living black people did not experience all of those directly.  More concerning, white people cannot control the past behavior or their ancestors.  If you support reparations for black Americans, do you support other circumstances in which penalties for wrong actions by ancestors are placed on descendants?  Should this principle be extended to other crimes?  For example, the brutal BTK serial killer had a family, who were not involved in his crimes, and indeed small children or not born when crimes were committed in some cases.  Families of his victims still suffer psychological harm.  Should children and grandchildren, and perhaps all descendants, be required to make financial payments to victim families?

        6) Many systems of discrimination against groups of people worldwide are grounded in claims that ancestors of a group of people committed some wrong deed.  If we accept the idea that people should be held responsible for actions of ancestors in the past, doesn't that mean that such systems are justified?

        7) What about white people descended from abolitionists?  Large numbers of white people opposed slavery.  Do we make an effort to figure out who is descended from who, or do all white people make restitution for the bad acts of uncontrollable actions of some white peoples' ancestors?

        8) What if a modern white person advocates racist or white supremacist policies, but is found to have substantial slave and/or abolitionist ancestry?  Should that person's reparations burden be more based on the actions of their ancestors at the ti

        •  So, (3+ / 0-)
          Agreeing that they were historic wrongs does not mean agreeing with any 'reparations' strategy whatsoever.  The moral case AGAINST SLAVERY, SEGREGATION AND BIGOTRY is clear.  The moral case that people should pay for the uncontrollable actions of dead ancestors is not clear.
          Youre saying the situations for Japanese internments and the Holocaust weren't clearly justified?
        •  We do pay; we're paying for all of the stupid (0+ / 0-)

          wars during my lifetime.

          Why should I pay for stupid white men's decisions?
          Because I am a citizen & that's how it works.

          I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

          by a2nite on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:08:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  y'know, it's interesting (0+ / 0-)

          Like most Americans, I feel in my gut that I, we, have some obligation to survivors of Katrina. Nothing to do with feeling guilty about Katrina. Not even considering the conditions that put some people at greater risk from Katrina. Just: whoa, those people obviously deserve help — their struggles aren't basically a condign consequence of bad choices — and they are our people.

          In the context of racial reparations, unfortunately, there is no "act of God." Making the case that people's struggles aren't simply what they deserve or "the way it is" entails pointing out how other people — yes, very disproportionately white people — have created those struggles. At that point, quite unlike the Katrina scenario, it seems that many whites become preoccupied with our desire not to bear the blame. Meanwhile, again, there are people who obviously deserve help, and they are our people.

          "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

          by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:58:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Help and reparations are not the same (0+ / 0-)

            This will be my final comment.  There's no point in obsessively wrangling over a purely symbolic issue.

            I strongly support helping people who need help.  Although people of all ethnic groups, genders, ages, and ability levels can need help, due to our history of slavery, segregation, and various other racist atrocities, black communities are disproportionately in need of help.

            Reparations are not "help", in fact, at least some Japanese Americans who received reparations were prosperous and did not need reparations for help.

            Reparations are something you pay to someone because your wrongdoing harmed them.  Whether they have recovered, whether they need help, is irrelevant.  A struggling white single mother with a disability related to military combat would owe LeBron James reparations if we decide that "white" people owe "black" people reparations.  Note because LeBron James needs help, nor because the payer doesn't need help, but because under a model in which all white people are judged to have committed a wrong that justifies a reparation that's how it works.  It's as if she was speeding to a second minimum wage job in her broken down twenty year old car, due to lack of public transit, and dented Lebron James's parked tenth luxury vehicle.  She owes because she's technically in the wrong, not because he needs help.  I'm not suggesting that the example of LeBron James reflects a general lack of need for help, of course, just using an example that illustrates that "reparations" are not the same as "help".

            But in my imaginary example she was physically driving the car and it was in her control to drive in a way that didn't hit his car.  And LeBron James owns the other car, it isn't his that he is indirectly damaged by something that happened to his grandfather's car.  Just as the US government had recently interned Japanese-American citizens and the US government thus paid reparations to exactly the same Japanese-Americans who had been interned (again, whether they needed "help" or not).

            She never owned slaves, supported slavery, or requested any benefits that she may unwittingly or involuntarily accrue from past or present racism.

            My questions address the general topic of holding people responsible for things that they cannot possibly control.  Do you support bulldozing houses because because someone else in the same village supposedly did something wrong?

            Or maybe you'd like to actually make an intelligent case, by directly answering my questions.  They're questions.  I'm literally inviting answers.  Feel free.

            •  LOL (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              a2nite

              Nice harrumph there.

              As described by John Conyers, his reparations bill would create a committee to, inter alia, "make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies to redress the harm inflicted on living African Americans" by past and present discrimination.

              Reparations aren't necessarily something that I pay because my wrongdoing harmed someone else. I can understand thinking of them in that way, but it isn't a platonic truth.

              My questions address the general topic of holding people responsible for things that they cannot possibly control.  Do you support bulldozing houses because because someone else in the same village supposedly did something wrong?
              Can I hold myself responsible for fixing things that I didn't break? Yes, absolutely. It has nothing to do with anyone bulldozing my house, nor anyone else's.

              "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

              by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 08:57:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I suggest you ask here (0+ / 0-)

              I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

              by a2nite on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:25:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Have you actually read Ta-Nehesi Coates? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, ratcityreprobate, FogCityJohn

      His actual Case for Reparations, not this response, though that's also worthwhile.
      A large part of the point is that it's not just the effects of some long ago ancestors that we're dealing with, but systematic discrimination up until the present.
      Which renders much of the "What about descendents of abolitionists or of post slavery African immigrants" kind of questions you're asking basically irrelevant.

      The Empire never ended.

      by thejeff on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:48:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Many proposals are for restitution to communities (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Amber6541

      not to individuals.

      Reparations are not about assessing individual guilt or entitlement, as much as recognizing and seeking to compensate for generations of structural racism -- extraction of resources (including labor) from one group of people, for the benefit of another, and systemic policies (private and governmental) that barred certain groups from the benefits that the dominant group got.

      So, for example, a university that was closed (by policy) to people of color until the 1940s could use affirmative admissions policies. Brown University's Slavery and Justice commission led to programs that serve the Providence public schools, which are 85% children of color.  

      Racial slavery as an economic system (along with the displacement of indigenous peoples to seize their land) was the foundation for the wealth in the current world -- insurance companies, finance, land-wealth, fortunes. Even after slavery, government policy deliberately disadvantaged people of color, for example, by excluding farm workers and domestic workers (most of whom were black) from Social Security, and by designing the GI Bill after WWII so it didn't benefit the cooks and other support troops who were predominantly black.

      Read Randall Robinson's The Debt, which deals with all this and with the various ways reparations could work.

  •  I think its curtains for Thad Cochran. (8+ / 0-)

    Barring something extraordinary,  he's headed for defeat. McDaniel will be Senator.

  •  Thank you for linking (6+ / 0-)

    to the Black Kos forum yesterday - the conversations are still going ...and will be continued

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:05:00 AM PDT

  •  25th anniversary of Tiananmen massacre (0+ / 0-)

    Chinafile.com has a number of good retrospectives.

    Schedule permitting, PROOF WILL BE PROVIDED ON HOW I AM BEING "CONSTANTLY CALLED OUT" AND "UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED" FOR BEING BAD. Moreover, the dossier on my activities during the Bush administration will have an appendix concluding that I am Wrong.

    by Inland on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:31:39 AM PDT

  •  Malicious Compliance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, a2nite

    That's the term that comes to my mind regarding the VA appointment scheduling. It's a term I learned years ago when I was doing compensation.

    There was an evidently impossible goal tied to a bonus. The workers found a way to comply with this goal and protect their bonus. The engaged in malicious compliance.

    This is something that happens in all kinds of organizations when they set goals - especially goals tied to compensation.

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