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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another Blue Ribbon Panel to Ignore

It looks like someone shook Bob Dole out of a nap. Dole and former secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala have been chosen to lead a panel reviewing health care for wounded vets following the Walter Reed scandal.

Both are inspired choices -- Dole is a disabled vet himself and Shalala not only oversaw HHS, but was the president of Hunter College, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, and currently serves as president of the University of Michigan. She has the institutional administrative experience for the job.

But, here's the problem, the Bush administration has a history of putting together blue ribbon panels, then completely ignoring them. Remember the 9/11 commission? Bush made a big deal about putting that together, read the recommendations, then told them, "Yeah, I'm not going to do that." The Iraq Study Group got the same treatment. After submitting the results of their study, Bush ignored it and announce he was going to do this big Hail Mary surge thing. Screw the ISG.

So you could be excused for thinking that this new Dole/Shalala Panel will do a lot of good work that will be ignored. Bush uses these reviews to provide political cover. He probably already knows what he's going to do and, when Dole and Shalala submit their report, he'll scratch out the parts he doesn't agree with and tell everyone that X and Y were recommended by the panel. He doesn't look for new ideas, he looks for points of agreement and ignores everything else.

One thing the panel may recommend is using federal employees, instead of private firms, for maintenance. Bush wouldn't like that one bit. A tertiary reason for invading Iraq was to set up a model of a state run by conservative ideology -- Iraq now has a flat tax, for example. That way, future conservatives can say, "Golly, look how well this is working in Iraq... Maybe we should do it here." In fact, the Heritage Foundation is already trying to convince people that a flat tax is working great in Iraq -- when the truth is that nothing's working in Iraq. If you ask the average iraqi what they're most thankful for at any given moment, they'll probably say either one more day of life or lunch. A flat tax is going to be pretty damned low on the list.

There's no way that Bush would accept the idea that maybe privatizing all things governmental is a bad idea. That would mean that ideology is wrong. The cult mindset of the modern conservative movement won't allow that. What's a matter of faith is a matter of fact. Ronald Reagan, like Jesus, was right about everything. That recommendation would go nowhere.

Another idea might be to limit how long a vet can be kept on medical hold. Often, veterans are given a choice; you can leave now and get no benefits or you can sit in a military hospital, getting jacked around and living in squalor, until they finally release you. It's a waiting game the military uses to frustrate veterans into abandoning their benefits. Both the Iraq War and benefits for the disabled veterans it creates are extremely expensive. Something's got to give and it's not going to be the war.

In the end, Bob Dole and Donna Shalala will be wasted on this panel. That is, unless congress takes the lead in implementing the recommendations. The 9/11 commission and Baker-Hamilton had to deal with a Bush-friendly congress. Dole and Shalala won't have that impediment. If you think Bush's veto of the stem cell bill hurt republicans, wait until Bush vetoes the Disabled Veterans' Bill of Rights.

That's really gonna smart.


Technorati tags: ; ; ; ; ; ; if is given a choice between and ideology, we both know what he'll choose

1 comment:

RoseCovered Glasses said...

We need to be careful to differentiate between the Active Service Hospitals and the Veteran’s Administration. There are major differences.

I am currently a resident in a Veteran’s Home after having undergone treatment through the VA for PTSD and Depression, long overdue some 40 years after the Tet Offensive that cap stoned my military 2nd tour in Vietnam with a lifetime of illness.

My blog has attracted the stories of many veterans such as myself and other sufferers from PTSD who were victimized by elements of society other than the VA system of medical and mental treatment. I, for one, became trapped in the Military Industrial Complex for 36 years working on weapons systems that are saving lives today but with such high security clearances that I dared not get treated for fear of losing my career:

When my disorders became life threatening I was entered into the VA System for treatment in Minneapolis. It saved my life and I am now in complete recovery and functioning as a volunteer for SCORE, as well as authoring books and blogging the world.

When I was in the VA system I was amazed at how well it functioned and how state of the art it is for its massive mission. Below is a feature article from Time Magazine which does a good job of explaining why it is a class act:,9171,1376238,00.html

I had state of the art medical and mental care, met some of the most dedicated professionals I have ever seen and was cared for by a handful of very special nurses among the 60,000 + nursing population that make up that mammoth system. While I was resident at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis I observed many returnees from Iraq getting excellent care.

I do not say the VA system is perfect but it is certainly being run better on a $39B budget than the Pentagon is running on $494B.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.
The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.
For more details see: