Archive for US Military

Killing More GIs Than ISIS

To be fair, ISIS doesn’t run hospitals:

WASHINGTON — In a contentious hearing before Congress, a senior official from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ watchdog agency acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that delays in care had contributed to the deaths of patients at the department’s medical center in Phoenix.

The disclosure by an official from the department’s inspector general’s office, coming after more than two hours of tough, sometimes confrontational exchanges with members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was a significant development in what has become a heated dispute over the quality of care at the Phoenix hospital, where revelations of secret waiting lists and other schemes to disguise long delays in care turned into a national scandal.

[U]nder questioning by Representative David Jolly, Republican of Florida, Dr. John D. Daigh, the assistant inspector general for health care inspections, conceded that medical-care delays in Phoenix had contributed to some patient deaths.

“Would you be willing to say that wait lists contributed to deaths of veterans?” Mr. Jolly asked.

“No problem with that,” Dr. Daigh replied. “The issue is cause.”

Dr. Daigh did not say how many times he believed medical-care delays had contributed to deaths in Phoenix. In addition to the six veterans who died after experiencing clinically significant delays, the inspector general’s office revealed Wednesday that 293 veterans had died out of 3,409 cases it reviewed in Phoenix.

“We can play with semantics all we want,” Mr. Jolly said, “but right here at the table it was acknowledged by the I.G.’s office that the wait lists contributed to the deaths of veterans.”

Ain’t no ISIS terrorist ever killed an American veteran.

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Read His Lips

Let him be clear:

Speaking at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, after visiting U.S. Central Command, Obama told troops: “I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”

-ish:

But shortly afterward, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest clarified that Dempsey was talking about the possible need to put U.S. troops already in Iraq into “forward-deployed positions with Iraqi troops.”

Earnest said that step has not yet been necessary, but if Dempsey asks to “forward deploy” American advisers, “the president said he would consider it on a case-by-case basis.”

He said, in that scenario, U.S. troops “would be providing tactical advice to Iraqi security forces” or be in position to call in airstrikes.

“They would not have a combat role. They would not be personally or directly engaging the enemy,” Earnest stressed.

Uh-huh. And if the enemy engages them? What then?

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing Sept. 16 about the U.S. policy to combat the Islamic State featuring testimony from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey. Here is Dempsey’s statement.

“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President.”

Barack Obama thinks he’s a better general than his generals.

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Don’t Mention the War! [UPDATED] [TWICE!]

Just so everybody understands: we aim to “destroy” ISIS, not go to war with it.

Got it?

“What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counter-terrorism operation,” Kerry said on Thursday. “It’s going to go on for some period of time. If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL, they can do so, but the fact is it’s a major counter-terrorism operation that will have many different moving parts.”

In a separate interview with CBS News State Department Correspondent Margaret Brennan, Kerry said “war is the wrong terminology” to describe U.S. operations against ISIS.

“We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it’s going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity,” Kerry said.

We can all agree that that is patently absurd, right? No need for further discussion? Good.

If I had to guess, such equivocation is in line with Obama’s left-foot-in-left-foot-out strategy:

Quoting two U.S. military officials, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said “that his best military advice was to send a modest contingent of American troops, principally Special Operations forces, to advise and assist Iraqi army units in fighting the militants.”

In a nationally-televised speech on Wednesday evening, President Obama repeatedly emphasized that U.S. forces will not have a combat role in Iraq. “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq,” the president said. He specifically underscored that “this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and will resemble U.S. counterterrorism campaigns in Yemen and Somalia.

Austin’s predecessor, Marine Gen. James Mattis, told the Washington Post that the president’s decision may place the mission at risk. “The American people will once again see us in a war that doesn’t seem to be making progress,” Mattis told the paper. “You’re giving the enemy the initiative for a longer period.”

You may understand war, General, but you’re a but you’re a buck private at politics. You can’t wrap yourself in the Not Bush Cloak for six years, and then slough it off to reveal yourself as the drawling Texan himself. Soldiers and American people be damned, he’d rather lose as Obama than win as Bush.

PS: Oh wait. There’s an even more obvious (and absurd) reason John Kerry won’t call it a war. They’d have to get Congress’s permisssion. Which is also what Bush did. Can’t have that.

UPDATE: To war! To war! Fredonia’s going to war!

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday during his daily press briefing that the battle against ISIS now mirrors the ongoing War on Terror closely enough to use the ‘W’ word.

‘The fact is ISIL has indicated that they’re ready to go to war against the world,’ Earnest said, ‘and this president – as is expected of American presidents – is stepping up to lead an international coalition to confront that threat and to deny ISIL a safe haven. And ultimately this international coalition will be responsible for degrading and destroying ISIL.’

‘So I think what you could conclude from this is the United States is at war with ISIL in the same way we are at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates all around the globe.’

Of course you know, this means war.

UPPERDATE

Or does it?

BLITZER: It sounds like a war to me. Is it fair to call it a war?

[SUSAN] RICE: Well, Wolf, I don’t know whether you want to call it a war or a sustained counterterrorism campaign or — I think, frankly, this is a counterterrorism operation that will take time. It will be sustained. We will not have American combat forces on the ground fighting, as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is what I think the American people think of when they think of a war.

So I think this is very different from that.

Be as Earnest as you like, Josh, you wouldn’t know war if it bit you in the ass. I just hope this isn’t literally the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Sraight.

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Run Him Up the Flag Pole and See Who Salutes

Boy, President Obama really knocked ‘em dead at the Legionnaires meeting yesterday!

Just ask him:

Remarks by the President to the American Legion National Convention
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2014
Charlotte Convention Center
Charlotte, North Carolina

12:07 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Please, everybody, have a seat. Hello, Legionnaires!

AUDIENCE: Hello!

They love him. They really love him.

Don’t they?

A Virginia legionnaire who served in the U.S. Marine Corps told MailOnline that ‘a small group of Obama’s admirers – and there are some here – sat near the front and tried to generate applause for him about 10 times.’

‘They didn’t get much pickup,’ the retired lieutenant colonel said of the ‘instigators’ gathered at the Charlotte, North Carolina event, but ‘they were persistent. You could tell when the applause was genuine and when it wasn’t. It was obvious to everyone here.’

Most of the veterans sat on their hands, leaving awkward silences where White House speechwriters expected ovations.

‘Some of these guys – well, most of them – remember that Obama sent Biden to speak to us last year in Houston, and blew us off entirely during his 2012 campaign.’

That year, the president sent a 3-minute video message instead of coming to Indianapolis. Mitt Romney, his Republican rival, flew 1,000 miles to speak in person.

The veteran asked MailOnline to conceal his identity. ‘I don’t need that kind of trouble,’ he said. ‘I work for a government contractor.’

But the crickets gave him two antennae up!


“Hello!”

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Don’t Mention the War Deserter!

Self-censorship is the worst censorship:

While the U.S. Army weighs whether to bring charges against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed earlier this year after spending nearly five years as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan, six of his former platoon mates are shopping proposals for a book and movie that would render their own harsh verdicts.

A draft of their book proposal, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, depicts Bergdahl as a “premeditated” deserter who “put all of our lives in danger” — and possibly aided the Taliban — when he disappeared from his observation post in eastern Afghanistan in the early morning hours of June 30, 2009.

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends,” Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers’ agents.

“[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama,” Durand wrote, “and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'” — a reference to the group behind a controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign.

Yeah, but the Swift Boaters were telling the truth.

“There was no way we were going to sit down and be quiet while Obama was calling him a war hero,” said Evan Buetow, Bergdahl’s former team leader, in an interview with Yahoo News. “We’re just trying to tell the truth. It’s not my fault this would make Obama look bad.”

“We didn’t politicize this,” added Cody Full, Bergdahl’s former roommate. “They brought his parents out at a White House Rose Garden ceremony and presented him as a hero. … Why wouldn’t you just have a quiet press release? Why do you have to have a big parade? You don’t do that for the parents who have kids who have died in Afghanistan.”

This is a smoking gun, but the arsenal of left-wing bias in the news, academia, and across the culture is much greater than this. The so-called low information crowd includes New York Times readers, NPR listeners, and the like. In fact, they are the low information crowd.

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Pol Pot Pols

Two weeks ago, in a piece highlighting America’s unreliability as an ally, Mark Steyn laid this heavy quotation on us:

Forty years ago, as another American client regime crumbled, the US Ambassador sportingly offered asylum to a former Cambodian prime minister, Prince Sirik Matak. His response is worth quoting:

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection and we can do nothing about it. You leave us and it is my wish that you and your country will find happiness under the sky. But mark it well that, if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad because we are all born and must die one day. I have only committed the mistake of believing in you, the Americans.

So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and was murdered by the Khmer Rouge, but so were another 1.7 million people, and in a pile of skulls that high it’s hard to remember this or that individual. But there are many in Iraq and Afghanistan who are reflecting, as Sirik Matak did, that they made the mistake of “believing in you, the Americans”.

“Happiness under the sky” has the same resonance of simple truth as American Indian aphorisms, to my ear, another people we hosed royally.

Chief Seattle’s famous (if apocryphal) speech:

[W]hen the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless.

Chief Joseph’s capitulation:

I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohulhulsote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead.

It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are–perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.

Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.

Leaving aside the nobility of our adversaries, the USA didn’t use to be “harmless as an enemy, treacherous as a friend”, as Steyn quotes Bernard Lewis. Seattle and Joseph knew our treachery, but never saw us as harmless.

Now there can be no doubt. The same regime that swears the US “will always have Israel’s back” now recognizes as legitimate a fraudulent government of a fraudulent people, with Hamass—a very real and legitimate terror gang—as a member. Our treachery lies bare for all to see. ISIS, the Taliban, Iran, to name just a few of our enemies, can better tell you how harmful they find us.

I see the latest news is that whatever passes for Iraqi military are pushing back against the ISIS marauders. Good, I guess. (Are there any good guys?) It sure beats our answer that Iraq needs to build a more inclusive government. As if anyone, besides Saddam, has figured out how to include Sunnnis, Shiites, and Kurds in one country. As if even if they did, “inclusiveness” is useless against tanks. Never bring a liberal piety to a gun fight. (How many divisions does the Pope have, Stalin once wryly asked.)

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Grim Milestone Watch

The Democrats debate whether anyone died under their administration of the VA health care system.

Good thing they have so many to choose from:

More than 1,000 veterans may have died in the last decade because of malpractice or lack of care from Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, a new report issued by the office of Sen. Tom Coburn finds.

The report aggregates government investigations and media reports to trace a history of fraudulent scheduling practices, budget mismanagement, insufficient oversight and lack of accountability that have led to the current controversy plaguing the VA.

The VA has admitted that 23 patients have died because of delayed care in recent years, but the report, titled “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay, and Dismay at the VA,” shows many more patient deaths have been linked to systemic issues affecting VA hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S.

Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and physician, says that if the VA’s budget had been properly handled and the right management had been in place, many of these deaths could have been avoided.

“Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA malfeasance,” said Coburn, a three-time cancer survivor who says the government should offer veterans access to private hospitals.

“Poor management is costing the department billions of dollars more and compromising veterans’ access to medical care,” he said.

Twenty-three or over a thousand—how about we split the difference and say at least 512?

To which we in Massachusetts have contributed our small part:

Two psychiatric patients at a veterans facility in Brockton received no regular evaluations of their condition for years, part of a “troubling pattern of deficient patient care” that federal investigators say they have confirmed at veterans health care facilities nationwide.

One of the neglected patients at the Brockton Community Living Center who had been admitted for “significant and chronic mental health issues” was living in the 106-bed facility for eight years before he received his first psychiatric evaluation, investigators reported.

The other unidentified patient, although he was classified as 100 percent mentally disabled due to his military service, had only a single “psychiatric note” placed in his medical file between 2005 and 2013.

To be sure, these problems predate the Obama administration. But when you claim an issue as personal to you, as then-Senator Obama did with the VA system, you ought to be held to account.

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Back to Baghdad

As Mr. Incredible said, “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved, you know?”

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders believe he does not need authorization from Congress for some steps he might take to quell the al-Qaida-inspired insurgency sweeping through Iraq, the Senate’s top Republican and Capitol Hill aides said after the president briefed senior lawmakers Wednesday.

Still, the prospect of the president sidestepping Congress raises the potential for clashes between the White House and rank-and-file lawmakers, particularly if Obama should launch strikes with manned aircrafts or take other direct U.S. military action in Iraq.

Obama huddled in the Oval Office for over an hour to discuss options for responding the crumbling security situation in Iraq with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Speaking to reporters as he returned to the Capitol, McConnell said the president “indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for steps that he might take.”

Pelosi concurred with the president, saying in a statement after the meeting that Obama does not need “any further legislative authority to pursue the particular options for increased security assistance discussed today.”

Last summer, Obama did seek approval for possible strikes against Syria, but he scrapped the effort when it became clear that lawmakers would not grant him the authority.

However, administration officials have suggested that the president may be able to act on his own in this case because Iraq’s government has requested U.S. military assistance.

“I think it certainly is a distinction and difference worth noting,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday of the comparisons to the Syrian situation.

In addition, an authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, passed by Congress in 2002, is still on the books and could potentially be used as a rationale for the White House acting without additional approval. Before the outburst of violence in Iraq, Obama had called for that authorization to be repealed.

I think we should go after ISIS. But how is it that Obama doesn’t need authorization from Congress? And how is it that Congress is so compliant? It was Obama himself who closed the book on US operations in Iraq; it was Obama himself who wanted any future operations unauthorized. And it was Nancy Pelosi who felt the original authorization was illegitimate when she voted against it. Even as a state senator, Obama argued against going into Iraq—it’s how he beat Hillary.

Perhaps there’s a clear legal argument to justify Obama’s claim. But that doesn’t mean he and Pelosi and all the other moonbats don’t have to eat their words. Just don’t tell Michelle. She deplores binging on empty calories and junk food.

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Bowe Knows Desertion

No, not that Bo:

This Bowe:

Emotions ran high Wednesday at a hearing on Capitol Hill to examine the circumstances surrounding Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban in 2009 and the deal that led to his release in late May.

Spc. Cody Full, who was Bergdahl’s roommate before their deployment and served closely with him at the base, said at the hearing that he has no doubt Bergdahl deserted and that the desertion was pre-meditated.

“Knowing that someone you needed to trust deserted you in war and did so on his own free will is the ultimate betrayal,” Full told members of two subcommittees of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mike Waltz, who commanded an Army Special Forces unit in eastern Afghanistan when Bergdahl was captured, told subcommittee members that all military resources in that part of the country were redirected to search for Bergdahl and that the Taliban capitalized on that effort to launch attacks.

“They began feeding false information into our informant network in order to lure our forces into a trap,” Waltz said.

Waltz, who is now a senior national security fellow with the New America Foundation, added that if “someone was killed during that specific amount of time, unless they tripped and hit their head on the way to the mess hall, they were out looking for Sgt. Bergdahl.”

Members of Bergdahl’s former platoon have said at least six soldiers were killed searching for him, including 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, whose father Andy Andrews also testified at Wednesday’s hearing.

“Exactly why did my son die?” Andrews asked. “Tell me one more time because I don’t know what we’ve accomplished.”

I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I don’t know nothin’, and I wasn’t there. But now that I’ve heard from those who did know Bergdahl, I can begin to draw my own conclusions. And I already know this administration all too well:

In particular, National Security Adviser Susan Rice has come under fire for saying that Sgt. Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction.”

Full addressed that comment directly on Wednesday.

“Bowe Bergdahl should not be characterized as having served with ‘honor and distinction,'” said Full, who said that he was motivated to speak out because he was offended by the “hero’s welcome” given to Bergdahl, which he said was not extended to those who died searching for him.

In perhaps the most poignant moment of the hearing, Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, asked Andy Andrews whether, given the option, he would be willing to trade five senior Taliban leaders to have his son back.

“If my son had been a deserter, then no,” Andrews said. “Absolutely not.”

“But my son was a man of honor,” he continued, fighting back tears, “and I would do almost anything.”

Republicans in Congress are wary about passing any serious legislation because they don’t trust Obama to implement it as it was written. They have a point.

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Good News, Bad News

The VA says the 57,000 veterans of the US military had to wait at least three months to see a doctor.

And that’s the good news!

[A] government report released Monday found that more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting 90 days or more for their first VA medical appointments, and an additional 64,000 appear to have never gotten appointments at all after enrolling.

Talk about burying the lede!

“This behavior runs counter to our core values,” the report said. “The overarching environment and culture which allowed this state of practice to take root must be confronted head-on.”

You mean this “overarching environment and culture”?

The Department of Veterans Affairs suspended a program that sent teams of doctors and monitors to try to improve its worst-performing facilities for approximately two years, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing agency doctors and internal records, reported that the visits were “paused” beginning in early 2011. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the head of the agency’s quality and safety program, said the VA had begun to revive the program about a year ago.

The Journal report specifies seven VA hospitals that have consistently received a rating of one star out of a possible five from the VA since at least 2011. Those hospitals are located in Augusta, Ga.; Little Rock, Ark.; Providence, R.I.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; and Puget Sound (Seattle), Wash. The star rating system measures hospitals according to key performance standards, including death rates among acute-care patients and among patients suffering from congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Length of stays and readmission rates are also taken into consideration.

It is not clear why the agency halted the visits, though the Journal report cites current and former VA doctors who claim that top managers of the agency played down the utility of basing the ratings system on specific medical outcomes.

Richard Griffin, the VA’s acting inspector general, said his office was investigating 69 VA medical facilities nationwide for possible wrongdoing, up from 42 two weeks ago. The investigations could result in criminal charges, which Griffin said may be needed to combat senior VA leaders who have allowed and even encouraged fraudulent scheduling practices often referred to as “gaming” the system.

Isn’t is also “gaming” the system to stop investigating the worst-performing hospitals? Policy by see-no-evil.

This scandal would be disgraceful for any president, but for a president who claimed to be all over the issue when he was a senator, who pointed to the VA as a model for government-run health care system, and who was at best indifferent to the US military (unless a member was holding an umbrella over him), this systemic abuse of America’s veterans would prove politically fatal. It won’t, but in a just world it would.

Love the Islamic imagery in the background.

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D-Day

Charles Durning (he begins at about 1:30):

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America in Free Fall

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war.
Ronald Reagan, Normandy, 1984

Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely…. That’s been true of all the prisoners that were released from Guantánamo. There’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place.
Barack Obama, Poland, 2014

The commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States of America is on the fecal roster of most of his underlings. I know the man is credited with giving good speeches (not to my taste, but…), but he’ll have to out Gettysburg Lincoln and out Mall Dr. King to soften the hearts of American soldiers.

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