Sacrificial Scapegoat

The ‘Court has been busy.  Very busy in fact. I’ve been asked to build a new website. It’s coming along nicely but it is eating into my blogging time. I expect that to continue for the next several weeks.

This is a heads-up. Blogging may be light until the new website, WMSA, is finished.


VA Secretary Eric Shinseki January 2009 – May 2014

Obama and the dems in jeopardy are blaming the situation in the VA on retired General Eric  Shinseki. He’s a relative newcomer as VA Secretary. As retired military, they’ve decided to make him the whipping boy for the institutional failings of the VA.

Obama wants someone to blame for his own failings in leadership. The dems in jeopardy want someone to blame and say, “See! We fired him. All is fixed,” and then proceed with business as usual. They want a scapegoat and Shinseki is the one they have picked. Shinseki has been VA Secretary since January, 2009 and is himself a wounded combat veteran having lost part of one foot to a landmine while in combat as a Forward Artillery Controller.

As I was writing the paragraph above, this news item dropped into my Inbox.

Eric Shinseki is out! Obama sacks Veterans Affairs secretary

President Obama accepted the resignation Friday of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, amid a burgeoning scandal over delayed care for veterans at VA hospitals.

In a hastily arranged statement after meeting with Mr. Shinseki at the White House, the president said he accepted the resignation “with considerable regret.”

The president said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will take over on an interim basis.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Shinseki presented him with preliminary findings that showed the delayed care has affected veterans at “many” facilities across the country. The president said it was “totally unacceptable.”

The president also said Mr. Shinseki had begun to fire several VA officials deemed responsible for the problems.

Asked if he’s responsible for the problems, Mr. Obama said, “I always take responsibility for whatever happens” in his administration. But he also said the VA’s problem “predates my presidency.”

“The VA is a big organization that has had problems for a very long time,” he said.

The scandal began last month when a whistleblower revealed that veterans were being placed on a “secret wait list” at the Phoenix VA facility that almost guaranteed they would not receive timely care. The initial report caused a handful of GOP lawmakers to call for Mr. Shinseki to step down.

A preliminary investigator general report released Wednesday, however, substantiated many of the claims and opened the floodgates, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding the retired four-star general step down immediately.

The report found that 1,700 veterans at the Phoenix facility had never been placed on the official electronic wait list, meaning their wait time couldn’t be tracked and they likely would not see a doctor. This delay in care and manipulation of data was systemic, stretching across the entire VA system, according to the report. More than 40 facilities across the country are under investigation, the report said.

Prior to his resignation, almost 120 lawmakers — 38 of whom were Democrats — had called for Mr. Shinseki to step down.

While the president was initially supportive of his Cabinet chief, Mr. Obama’s faith in Mr. Shinseki appeared to wane after the report was released. In a press conference Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama was anxiously awaiting results of an internal VA audit due early next month that will give a sense for how widespread the problems are at the embattled department.

“When he receives the internal audit, he’ll be able to evaluate those findings,” Mr. Carney told reporters at the White House, backing away from previous expressions of support. “I’m just not going to speculate more about personnel.”
Mr. Shinseki was sworn in as the secretary of veterans affairs in 2009. Prior to that, he served as the Army Chief of Staff and leader of the Army during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, according to his VA bio. The West Point Graduate was awarded two Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars with valor during his almost 40-year military career.

Military veterans have a proprietary view of the VA. VA Hospitals are THEIR hospitals. Wounded veterans were, until the VA was turned into a bureaucracy, guaranteed free healthcare for the rest of their lives. They earned that guarantee with their service and bodies.

Some politicians think privatizing would help restore confidence in the VA and return it to the level of service veterans want and expect. Many veterans also oppose this idea, believing privatization is a refutation of those guarantees. The VA is not, and has not delivered those guarantees for a long time.

I’m a veteran. I’ve been fortunate to not have needed the VA, except to guarantee the mortgage on my first home in the 1970s. I have no service related documented injuries that would require using the VA. I don’t have that proprietary view that so many veterans have. I believe privatization would help and help is desperately needed.

Perhaps, like so many needed changes in the FedGov, it is time to make one more change—not a new VA Secretary, but moving the VA out of the incompetent hands of the government.


I’ve never claimed to have a good memory. All too often I will get focused on something (currently building a website for an organization,) and the world goes away while I’m working on it.

Today, repercussions of that tendency has caught up with me. I have had a To-Do task for our church’s website pending and I had forgotten it. Finally, our Pastor sent me a text early this morning to remind me.

What does this mean? No post today. As soon as I update the church’s website, I’m off to take my Tahoe to the doc to get a niggling little irritant fixed. The two rear tire pressure sensors have gone bad. The left is only reading 50% of the actual pressure, the right is intermittent. I can take intermittent, but giving a false reading—that has to be fixed. It’s a quirk with me.

I know, I know, it’s a minor thing and doesn’t affect how the Tahoe runs. But I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. I expect to own the Tahoe for several more years and at least another hundred or two thousand miles. I want it all to be operating just as it did when it rolled off the assembly lines.

I’ll be back tomorrow, y’all have a very good day.

Lies and Revelations

With McConnell’s win over his Tea Party primary challenger and the GOP primary poll lead of Senator Lindsey Grahamnesty (R-SC), the media and the GOP establishment proclaimed, “the Tea Party is dead!”


For example, Ted Cruz loudly and strongly supported a number of Tea Party candidates across Texas. He traveled extensively, campaigning for them. Every one of those candidates beat their primary opponents.

Ted Cruz, Tea Party Dominate Texas Republican Primary Politics

27 May 2014

HOUSTON, Texas—The clear winner in the 2014 Republican Primary and runoff election is the grassroots effort spawned by the Tea Party, no matter what candidates win. Every candidate on the ballot has shaped their campaign around illustrating their support of the Tea Party principles of limited government, reducing taxes and fiscal responsibility.

The other big winner in this Primary election is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). His election in 2012 ignited Tea Party activists across Texas who have worked for the past two years to find viable candidates and support them through this long election process. Nearly every candidate on the ballot has tried to find some way of connecting themselves to Ted Cruz and the Tea Party movement by using quotes from or pictures with the prominent junior senator from Texas.

The Dallas Morning News reported, “In virtually every Republican matchup, candidates have espoused the movement’s talking points, attended groups’ forums, and adopted their issues.”  The Houston Chronicle also picked up this theme and reported, “Though the tea party has sputtered this year in elections around the country, Texas’ conservative insurgents are the front-runners in Republican primary runoffs for major statewide offices and positioned to bolster their ranks in the Legislature.”

In the race to be the next Lt. Governor of Texas, both the incumbent, David Dewhurst and his challenger, State Senator Dan Patrick, have claimed Tea Party support in their speeches and advertisements. Both candidates have also succeeded in gaining support from the various grassroots groups across Texas.

The same is true in the race to succeed Greg Abbott as the next Attorney General of Texas. State Senator Ken Paxton has been a clear leader in the Tea Party movement since its inception in 2009 while his opponent, former AFL-CIO union group lobbyist and State Representative Dan Branch has struggled to attempt to show Tea Party support.

Reuters reports, “Republican politics in Texas has become a race to the right,” Republican strategist Bill Miller said. “I do think the Republican Party could be eclipsed by the Tea Party here.”

State Senate District 10 candidate Konni Burton has leveraged her Tea Party relationships to place herself in a strong position for victory in this election. The Tea Party News Network reported, “The other race within the state that signals the strength of the Tea Party in Texas is the race to fill the state senate seat formerly occupied by Wendy Davis, currently the Democrat gubernatorial nominee. Konni Burton, a Republican and Tea Party leader from Fort Worth, has been endorsed by Ted Cruz in the race for that vacated seat.”

The exception to the potential Tea Party Texas takeover may be the race for the Congressional seat that has been held by Ralph Hall for thirty-six years. According to a report by Reuters, “Congressman Ralph Hall, a 91-year-old lawmaker running for an 18th term, is favored over his Tea Party-backed challenger, John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. Attorney.” Reuters stated Ratcliffe, age 48, has attempted to use Hall’s age against him. Much like Ronald Reagan who refused to use his opponent’s youth and inexperience against him, Hall has joked about his wrinkles he earned from battling liberal policies.“ Hall said, “By gosh, I’ve got room for a few more wrinkles.”

The full extent of the Texas takeover by Tea Party politics may become clear quickly after the polls close at 7 p.m. (CDT).

Of particular note is the defeat of these two GOP members of the Texas Establishment.

• “The oldest-ever member of the House of Representatives has been ousted at age 91, after a primary runoff against a little-known Republican challenger in Texas. Rep. Ralph Hall also Tuesday became the first congressional incumbent to lose a primary this year. He had told voters if he had been elected to an 18th term, it would be his last. Hall was defeated by John Ratcliffe, a 48-year-old former U.S. attorney… He also has won the support of powerful national conservative groups with strong Tea Party ties, including the Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund.” Fox News

• “Tea Party-backed candidate State Sen. Dan Patrick defeated three-term incumbent David Dewhurst for the Republican nomination for Texas lieutenant governor Tuesday after a nasty race that evolved into personal attacks. Patrick, a fiery radio talk show host who founded the Tea Party caucus in the Texas state legislature, ousted Dewhurst after a campaign full of attack ads and mudslinging over which candidate was more conservative.” Fox News


For all you Bill O’Reilly fans out there—never forget O’Reilly is not a conservative. In fact, he’s quite the statist. On his show last night, he said the government should round up around 10% of the population and put them in gulags. “only selected, very bad people,” he said. “To fight crime,” he said.

It bothered him not that it would be the government who would be deciding whom were the ‘bad people’ that would be rounded up. I’m sure O’Reilly’s competition at CNN/MSNBC/CBS/ABC/NPR would like to have O’Reilly on one of those ‘selected’ lists.

O’Reilly Pushes Mass Incarceration Of Americans As Solution To Crime

Brendan Bordelon, 10:40 PM 05/27/2014

Bill O’Reilly and Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers clashed over the efficacy of America’s criminal justice system on Tuesday, with the Fox News host urging the imprisonment of around 10 percent of the population — “only selected, very bad people” — in order to extend the long-term decline of crime in the United States.

O’Reilly was reacting to a New York Times editorial “demanding” an end to the large-scale imprisonment of vast swathes of the population. At current levels, 2.2 million Americans — roughly 1 in 100 adults — are incarcerated, a precipitous drop from 2005-2006 but still the highest reported rate in the world.

Over half of these individuals are in jail for nonviolent, often drug-related crimes, with many being locked up for life due to arbitrary “three strikes” laws that can put someone away for life even if they commit a minor offense.

But “The O’Reilly Factor” host thinks that a decline in the prison population will lead to a rapid increase in crime, and slammed the “uber-liberal” Times for advocating such a measure.

“With victories in the gay marriage arena and legalized pot, the left is turning its attention to changing the criminal justice system,” he said. “The opinion piece says the USA is putting too many people in prison, but not ONCE did this editorial mention the victims of crime. Not once!”

But Powers pushed back on O’Reilly’s thesis. “Well, first of all, it’s not just liberals who are concerned about this,” she noted. “There are conservatives who are concerned about it. Newt Gingrich, in particular, is somebody who has spoken with the problems with mass incarceration in the country. So I don’t think we have to say this is just a liberal issue.”

“For you to quote the fact that the violent crime rate has dropped as somehow evidence of ‘We don’t have a problem’ doesn’t make any sense to me,” she continued, noting that most of the discussion revolved around “people who have been thrown in jail for 15 to 25 years for selling two ounces of marijuana.”

“Ok, that never happens,” O’Reilly replied. “If you can cite –”

“Are you kidding me?” Powers responded incredulously. “You don’t think under the Rockefeller drug laws people have been put in jail for that long? Under the Rockefeller drug laws, that’s the law, Bill! I’m sorry!”

“But that never happens,” O’Reilly interrupted, “you plea everything down.”

“That is astonishing,” Powers claimed.

Fox contributor Monica Crowley tried to walk a middle ground between the two points, but O’Reilly and Powers continued to disagree.

“I say, there are only selected, very bad people who hurt other people — maybe ten percent of the population,” O’Reilly explained. “You isolate them, you take them off the streets, and then the crime rate comes down.”

“But you don’t buy that,” he asked Powers — setting off another yell fest between the two talking heads.

Eventually Powers got a word in. “It’s a national trend,” she said, referencing the country-wide reduction in crime. “And for you to try to pretend that it’s just because you’re putting all these people in jail is not correct.”

“The more people you take off the streets, the less crime there is,” O’Reilly asserted. “And that is irrefutable.”

I’ve never cared much for Bill O’Reilly. He doesn’t support the 2nd Amendment, he doesn’t support pro-life issues, he loves to tax and spend. But…because he’s on FOX News, people think he’s a conservative. That could not be further from the truth.


No Post today

I’ve appointments today and eat into my blog writing time. I’ll be back tomorrow.


My Memorial Day post was last Friday’s. People are out and about today. Many won’t be surfing and I don’t expect many to read my post for today.

But, it is important to remember individual stories. We cannot record the lives of every fallen veteran, but when we can for one or another, here and there, we have an obligation to do so.

This is a repost from several years ago. It’s a story worth telling…and retelling.

Eagle Veteran

The photo below and the link to the news article is self-explanatory.  Let’s remember what Independence Day is really about and how we’ve had to fight to retain it.

(H/T to Mobius.)

Frank Glick took this photo at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. When he recorded the shot, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to the widow of the World War II veteran buried there.

It was a crow that first caught Frank Glick’s attention. It was flying around erratically, so Glick got out his Nikon camera and followed it. It was around 6 a.m. on a hazy spring day and he was driving through Fort Snelling National Cemetery because he was early for a training meeting at Delta Airlines, where he works.

Glick is an amateur photographer, but he always carries his camera, just in case. So he followed the crow, in some cultures a symbol of good luck and magic, until he saw it: a huge eagle perched on a tombstone, its eyes alert, its head craned, looking for prey. In the foreground, dew glistened on the grass.

He didn’t think too much about the photo, until he showed it to a co-worker, Tom Ryan, who e-mailed it to his brother, Paul.

Paul wondered whether a relative of the soldier might want a copy. The tail of the eagle partially covered the man’s name, but Paul did some research and looked up the soldier’s name in newspaper obituaries. The eagle had landed on the grave of Sgt. Maurice Ruch, who had been a member of the St. Anthony Kiwanis Club, the obituary said.

Paul called the club, and it put him in touch with Jack Kiefner, Ruch’s best friend. When Glick took his photo, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to Kiefner and Ruch’s widow, Vivian.

One day this week, I met with Kiefner and Vivian Ruch in her St. Anthony condo. The actual print would be delivered later that day, but Vivian held a copy of the statuesque photo and her voice broke as she talked about Maurie, his nickname, who died from a form of Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 86.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is very emotional for me.”

Maurie graduated from college in mechanical engineering in December of 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Known for his keen eye, he became a rifle marksman and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He served four years in the military and earned a bronze star.

To those who knew Maurie, he was a calm and deliberate giant. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with broad shoulders, but he was also unassuming and unpretentious.

“Used to call him Mr. Precise,” because of his love of order and knack for fixing things, said Vivian. The Ruches had a rotary telephone long after they became obsolete because Maurie scavenged parts and kept the phone working.

Go here for the complete article.

Coming into Memorial Day

This is Memorial Day weekend. The holiday was originally called Decoration Day and many oldsters still call it that. The first Decoration Day was organized by Union Civil War veterans who collectively were called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). That first celebration was held in Arlington National Cemetery three years after the end of that  war.

It has been nearly 150 years since that first observance. Over the years the name has changed to Memorial Day and instead of being a veterans-only memorial, it has expanded to include all of those who have preceded us into that next phase of life.

Still, we continue to memorialize veterans first over the others. Each of us have some one whom we remember because as long as we still remember them, they will not fade into History; their individuality gone from our collective memory.

Tomorrow, my local city will hold a Veteran’s March, a few blocks from a local church to a cemetery where some Civil War veterans are buried. We no longer remember them as individuals, their personalities have been lost in time. But, we can remember their names, their units, and, with some research, we could rebuild some of their history, fleshing their names into people with families and deeds. Perhaps that would be a good school project, researching some of those names and recreating, as much as possible, the people who wore them and their lives.


Sgt. Kenneth Wayne Tate, US Army, 1946-1967

I’ve one name I remember, Kenneth Tate, a distant cousin who was the first from Franklin County, IL to die in the Viet Nam War. We weren’t close but we were high school classmates and we shared a number of common cousins. We lived at opposite ends of the county, he in the northeast, me in the southwest. Outside of school, we would meet occasionally at family functions. I wrote a blog post about Ken Tate a few years ago.

It is a bit unnerving to realize Ken Tate has been gone 47 years. I can still remember him as he appeared, sitting next to me in high school chemistry, physics and math classes.

People talk about the dwindling number of WW2 veterans. They are not the only ones slipping away. My brother-in-law was a Korean War veteran. He’s long gone, too. And as those of us, of my generation, who served, our numbers are diminishing as well.

The attention now is focused, rightfully, to those entering the veteran ranks, the ones who landed on Grenada, Panama, Gulf Wars I and II and finally, Afghanistan. They have needs, as much and often more, than those of us from earlier times. I’ve been fortunate to not need assistance from the Veteran’s Administration. I hope to never need any, let those who do need help have priority.

But never forget. The nation owes veterans. Veterans should never take second place to any group, any segment of the population. Veterans have earned their rights the hard way with their bodies and their lives.

Now that Memorial Day weekend is here, remember what is owed to veterans. Winston Churchill said, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” It is still applicable today.


Thursday’s Topics

Quote and question of the day:

Does The Tea Party Need More Experienced Candidates?

This election season’s primary results, in particular Mitch McConnell’s lopsided trouncing yesterday of Matt Bevin, have produced their share of obituaries for the Tea Party. But the experience so far of Tea Party and other insurgent showdowns against the GOP establishment just goes to show that candidates and campaigns still matter – and that’s not likely to change. While both “Establishment” and Tea Party campaigns have gotten savvier in learning how to play the primary game, we are likely for the foreseeable future to see Tea Party challengers win when they are good candidates, with some prior political experience, talent and funding – and lose when they lack one or more of those attributes. I’d like to look here in particular at the importance of political experience, and whether Tea Party campaigns has been losing races because it was running complete political novices. — Red State.

After last week’s primary, the ‘net abounded with articles that proclaimed the Tea Party was dead. McConnell bragged about his win over Matt Bevin and other RINOs facing primary opposition took heart. They conveniently overlook Tea Party wins such as Ben Sasse in Nebraska and Alex Moony in West Virginia. The battle between the GOP establishment and the grassroot reformers, collectively called the Tea Party, is not over.


Democrats claim government cannot be accountable. What a despicable statement. Everyone, every organization is accountable—if we make them so.

If government is not accountable, then what are we? What is our relationship with government? Are we serfs? Peasants? Have we no rights? The Constitution says otherwise. That is why the liberals hate it.

Accountable government is impossible, according to liberals

John Hayward  | 

No sooner did I encourage Republicans to make accountability one of their primary campaign themes then I came across Ron Fournier at National Journal tearing into lefty Ezra Klein for arguing that accountable government is a superhero fantasy:

“Presidents consistently overpromise and underdeliver,” he begins, a fair start. Surely, the editor-in-chief of Vox is going to make the obvious point that presidents and presidential candidates should know enough about the political process (including the limits on the executive branch) to avoid such a breach of trust.

Klein is a data guy. He must know that the public’s faith in government and poltics is on a decades-long slide, a dangerous trend due in no small part to the fact that candidates make promises they know they can’t keep. In Washington, we call it pandering. In the rest of the country, it’s called a lie. Klein yawns.

Klein is basically asking us to accept all of Obama’s lies and failures because we need to understand that politicians promise a lot of stuff they can’t deliver.  Presumably we’re supposed to smile and clap when a slick character like Obama does an especially good job of tricking us into believing he can deliver the moon and stars, but it’s extremely rude and unrealistic to complain when those celestial goodies aren’t delivered on schedule.

Fournier is having none of it: “A Harvard-trained lawyer and Constitutional scholar like Obama didn’t stumble into the 2008 presidential campaign unaware of the balance of powers, the polarization of politics, the right-ward march of the GOP and other structural limits on the presidency. He made those promises because he thought those goals were neither unreasonable nor unattainable. Either that, or he was lying.”  He goes on to note how eagerly Klein tries to separate Obama from his promises, writing as if some non-human entity called The Obama Campaign made all those inconvenient commitments to stuff like improving the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It’s not exactly new for Obama apologists to claim that running the mega-government they support is effectively impossible, a task too difficult even for the super-genius messiah they adore.  Obama himself is making that argument, every time he claims he learned what his Administration is up to by reading yesterday’s newspaper.  One of his efforts to avoid responsible for the ObamaCare launch debacle involved him whining that government agencies are “outdated” and “not designed properly,” which would seem difficult to square with his enthusiasm for making government ever larger.    His adviser David Axelrod said Obama should be let off the hook for all responsibility in the IRS scandal because “part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know, because the government is so vast.”

In order for Obama to save his own hide, and protect his top appointees – which is part of saving his hide, because he believes firing anyone, over anything, would make it difficult for the media to ignore his scandals to death – he’s basically making the accountability argument for Republicans.  All you have to do is quote his endless evasions and childish tantrums.  What good does it do the victims of bureaucracy to hear that Barack Obama’s super-angry about what happened to them, when all he does is order the offending agency to investigate itself, and maybe get back to him after the next election with the results?

It’s the Left that keeps inadvertently dropping these killer soundbites, and writing these op-ed screeds, to make the case that their beloved Big Government is inherently corrupt and out of control.  They’re doing a great job of indicting their philosophy, in order to protect their heroes from consequence.  They’re so wrapped up in personalized politics that they don’t realize how much their excuse-making is eroding public confidence in government.  They’re essentially telling the American people that nobody will ever be held responsible for anything that goes wrong, because the system has grown so powerful that it no longer fears the wrath of its subjects.

…it’s not good enough to simply restore the oversight functions of the press, by electing someone they’re not in love with.  The system itself has to be whittled down to size.  The quest for accountability is a crusade with bipartisan appeal, because a lot of rank-and-file Democrat voters expect it too.  Some of them believe in government control precisely because it thinks bureaucrats and politicians are more accountable than the robber barons of the private sector.  They are hideously mistaken, and the Obama years have given us plenty of examples to prove it.  Start with the VA scandal, but don’t stop there.  Go through the whole sorry mess, and ask voters if they can point to a single act of genuine responsibility from Obama’s government.

Not only has it become impossible for the public to hold any high official responsible for his actions, but there’s no way to escape from the broken system.  You can’t demand new management, you can’t escape from lousy “deals” that bear little resemblance to what you were promised, and you can’t stop paying for the government’s mistakes.  All of this is going to get a lot worse, as the power and reach of government grows, and more of its unsustainable plans collapse.

People are suckers for Big Government because they think the bums can be thrown out of office if they mess up.  The Obama years offer enduring proof that this belief is hopelessly naive.  Where do you go to vote the permanent bureaucracy out of office?  How do you hold a politician accountable for his errors, when he’s got an army of constituents hungry for more of the favors he dispenses?

But don’t take it from me.  Just listen to the liberal politicians and pundits who are increasingly insistent that no one can be held responsible for the failures of the Leviathan State, because no hand is strong enough to hold Leviathan’s reins.

To an extent, the liberals are correct in that a change of leadership will not return accountability to government. Any leadership change that want to limit government and constrict its growth and power, must have an internal house-cleaning from top to the very bottom. The abuses of regulations and the federal agencies is not possible without the willing compliance of all, to the lowest employee. Replacing the patronage appointees will do nothing to impose change. Only wholesale disbandment of those agencies and their regulations can achieve what this country needs.

When there are more unemployed federal workers than private sector workers, only then will we achieve any of our goals.