Archive for US Military

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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Welcome Home, Bowe Bergdahl!

I find it hard to quarrel with Obama bringing home an American POW.

But others are free to fire away!

In exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdahl, the U.S. has released five senior Taliban commanders from the Guantanamo Bay prison. They are considered some of the worst of the worst.

The five Guantanamo detainees released by the Obama administration in exchange for America’s last prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, are bad guys. They are top Taliban commanders the group has tried to free for more than a decade.

According to a 2008 Pentagon dossier on Guantanamo Bay inmates, all five men released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated. The exchange shows that the Obama administration was willing to pay a steep price, indeed, for Bergdahl’s freedom. The administration says they will be transferred to Qatar, which played a key role in the negotiations.

While not as well known as Guantanamo inmates like 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Taliban 5 were some of the worst outlaws in the U.S. war on terror. And their release will end up replenishing the diminished leadership ranks of the Afghan Taliban at a moment when the United States is winding down the war there.

“They are undoubtedly among the most dangerous Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior editor at the Long War Journal who keeps a close watch on developments concerning the detainees left at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

I think one American life is worth five Taliban lives, even 500, 5,000. I’m not sure where I stop. But if these scum don’t have GPS devices planted up their recta for later reckoning, I will be heartily disappointed.

PS: Under law, I heard on the news, Obama was to have given Congress 30 days notice. But he claimed time was of the essence. I am in no position to contradict him, but there will be consequences for this rash action. The best of those consequences, of course is the return of Sgt. Bergdahl to his family. For the worst of them we’ll just have to wait and see.

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The RICO Administration [UPDATED]

For President Obama’s criminal enterprise to be brought down by the VA scandal is a bit like Al Capone going away for tax evasion. After the Benghazi massacre and cover-up, the IRS hit-job on the Tea Party, Fast & Furious gun-running, government by whim and fiat, and myriad other scandals reaching all the way back to fundraising irregularities in his ’08 campaign, it’s a little anticlimactic to see this racketeering-influenced and corrupt organization brought low by an atrocity not of their own making.

Or is it?

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid at least $11.4 million to 174 nurses, mental-health specialists, therapists, and other health-care professionals who, instead of caring for veterans, worked full-time doing union business.

The list of these taxpayer-funded union representatives at VA offices around the nation and their salaries was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Georgia representative Phil Gingrey’s staff and provided to National Review Online.

“So many health-care providers were on that list — nurses or physical therapists or whatever they may be — when so many veterans are falling through the cracks,” a Gingrey aide tells me. “It’s kind of shocking that these paid employees wouldn’t be fully dedicated to patient care.”

In total, the VA spent at least $13.77 million on 251 salaried employees performing full-time union work. Others, who were not included on the list provided by the VA, work part-time for unions at the taxpayer expense. In fiscal year 2011, the latest on record, the VA used 998,483 hours of this “official time,” costing taxpayers more than $42 million.

The newly released records show that in Baltimore, which has the nation’s longest wait times for veterans’ claims, taxpayers covered $372,674 in salary costs in 2012 for a clinical dietetic technician, a patient-services assistant, a health technician, a medical-support assistant, and two nurses to spend all their time at work on union issues and none of it working with veterans.

What difference, at this point, does it make?

Let’s ask someone who knows:

Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served in over 400 combat missions. He suffered from fibromyalgia and PTSD and killed himself last year after he received treatment from the Phoenix VA hospital. He wrote that his body had become “nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems.”

Somers’ parents read an excerpt of his suicide note on CNN Friday afternoon: “Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the State of the Union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic but rather by our system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.”

It took three months for Somers to receive initial treatment because the VA was confused over his status as a member of the National Guard. He was shuffled around the system, going from the Phoenix VA hospital to a Department of Defense hospital before the Phoenix VA finally agreed to give him care.

If he’d only joined the union, he might a stood a chance. But it’s not another person’s words, however heartbreaking, that damn President Obama,

It’s his own words:

Before Obama was president, he promised to end wait times at the VA and streamline services. But six years later he simultaneously claims that he’s been working on the problems, and that he knew nothing about the problems.

“How can the president say that the VA’s problems had not reached the White House, when the president himself says he’s been working on this for six years?” he said.

Krauthammer said the president is “trying to have it every which way…”

A point we’ve been making for about a week now, Dr. Charles. But thanks for playing.

The Obama regime didn’t invent incompetence and malfeasance at the VA, as everyone attests. But no one else claimed to have all the answers, as Obama did while campaigning to be the commander-in-chief of the very vets he would later betray. No one else pointed to his running of the agency as the model of government-provided health care—all the while Iraq and Afghanistan (and Vietnam and Korea and WWII) vets were waiting and suffering like Daniel Somers, quoted above.

Perhaps it is fitting after all that this disgrace be the end of this RICO mob. Above all, Obama promised Hope and Change™. He delivered neither, at least as far as our wounded veterans were concerned. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” was another slogan. Too many are still waiting. And dying.

UPDATE
Let’s not forget how “mad” Obama is about this state of affairs. Hopping mad:

President Obama today is playing golf with Wall Street banker Robert Wolf, a megadonor to Obama and other Democrats who is also reportedly a personal friend of the president’s.

The two are playing at Fort Belvoir along with White House aides Joe Paulsen and Marvin Nicholson, two of Obama’s usual partners.

It’s a beautiful and breezy 74 degrees here in the Washington area.

It’s Obama 17th time playing this year and the 174th trip to the greens since his presidency began.

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Hee-Hee

One can but laugh:

HOWARD DEAN: [...] The problem here is not the president. It’s the media. The media doesn’t know how to deal with a more sophisticated foreign policy. I happened to be driving from Vermont to New York yesterday, I listened to the whole speech on the radio. I thought it was a good speech. I think what this president has consistently said is that we are no longer living in a polar world. We are going to — our foreign policy is based on cooperation with other people. He showed it in Libya. He has showed it in Ukraine.

Howie was referring to the President’s universally-panned commencement speech at West Point. If it had been a Broadway play, it would have closed in previews.

Sophisticated? Sophisticated?

Untitled

Untitled

This was the rather more typical reaction:

LT. COL. RALPH PETERS: [...] It was an absolute exercise in self-adoration. The bit you just played about America’s most — in most respects, America has been relatively strong, blah, blah, blah. Look, America is perceived as weaker because of Obama’s lack of leadership. And then when he said well, we will take unilateral military action, he immediately qualified it by saying, ‘but we must be nearly certain that there will be no civilian casualties.’

I just found some of the claims in this speech absolutely fantastic. First of all yesterday and today, Obama keeps saying I have ended two wars. Well, that’s great. You know, we could have ended the Second World War in 1942 by surrendering to the Japanese and Germans. It’s how you end the wars.

In Iraq, he threw away the advantage we gained in blood. In Afghanistan, I agree we want a much smaller presence. But you don’t tell the Taliban, hey, we’ll be all gone in two years. And then the worst part of the speech, the shameless part for me, I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. It was when he claimed that American leadership has provided success in Ukraine.

I mean, as he was speaking Putin was pouring special operators, hired mercenaries and weapons across the border into eastern Ukraine which is bloodier than ever.

What Colonel Peters misses is that Obama says no civilian casualties. The actual casual-tizing of civilians is irrelevant. Sorry, “sophisticated”.

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AWOL

Just over a week ago, President Obama assured us he was the man to clean up the VA health are system because, in his own words, “[T]hat’s not a new issue. That’s an issue that I was working on when I was running for the United States Senate.”

Which means he’s been all over this issue for a decade.

Troubling, that:

An independent review has determined that Department of Veterans Affairs officials falsified records to hide the amount of time former service members have had to wait for medical appointments, calling a crisis that arose in one VA hospital in Phoenix a “systemic problem nationwide.”

“We are finding that inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide,” the report stated. “We have identified multiple types of scheduling practices not in compliance with VHA [Veterans Health Administration] policy.”

The report did not say definitively whether the extended waits caused veteran deaths, but it noted that “significant delays in access to care negatively impacted the quality of care” at the Phoenix clinic.

That’s just because old soldiers never die, they just languish on VA waiting lists.

If I had to crawl inside Obama’s head (in a level 4 hazmat suit), I’d guess he was trying to lessen his responsibility for the VA disgrace: hey, it was going on long before I came along. So it was.

But by telling you’ve been working on the issue for ten years, you leave me wondering what the hell you’ve been doing for the last five-plus that you’ve been commander in chief of the armed forces. Not so “articulate” now, are you?

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