Military Archives

The Real Issue With the VA

(This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry,, or the podcast app of your choice.)

Presidential candidate Barack Obama, back in 2007, gave a speech titled “A Sacred Trust”. It was a speech about the military; his plans for it, and for the veterans who came home from it. Here is one thing he said in it, “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months – even years – to get an appointment at the VA.”

How was he going to fulfill that goal? Here was his promise, “It’s time for comprehensive reform. When I am President, building a 21st century VA to serve our veterans will be an equal priority to building a 21st century military to fight our wars. My Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs will be just as important as my Secretary of Defense.” He followed that with specific changes he was going to make. But, whether he made those changes or not, whether or not vets are means-tested for care, whether or not VA budgets were passed on time every year, the result is still the same; long waits, and deaths due to them.

Obama knew of the problems in the VA before he became President. At least 5 years ago, he was warned about the specific wait time issue. What has changed? Nothing. And now he claiming he was shocked to hear about it; not from his advisors, but from the media. Let’s not forget that he was shocked about the IRS targeting conservatives, up until the point where he claimed that there was “not a smidgen of corruption”. I guess his views on that “evolved”.

There is another line from that speech that I think bears considering. His plans for the VA were a blueprint for something else. “The VA will also be at the cutting edge of my plan for universal health care, with better preventive care, more research and specialty treatment, and more Vet Centers, particularly in rural areas.” That’s right. ObamaCare was the next step, and what’s happening now with the VA is the future of what’s going to be happening with you. Centralized health care, or passing laws to create facilities and doctors out of thin air, doesn’t work.

And honestly, this has been the issue for decades. It didn’t start when Obama was elected. Presidents from both parties have presided over this long-running debacle, some say as far back as the Kennedy administration, because the fundamental problems are always there. On MSNBC, one of their military analysts, Army Col. Jack Jacobs, spoke on The Reid Report about how Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki was a good guy and was doing a good job, but in the end, the VA’s system of health care itself cannot give us what we need from it, regardless of how much money you throw at it.

Yeah, that really aired on MSNBC. But if the VA is the blueprint for ObamaCare, then the question is this: If we can’t take care of those we are the most indebted to, how is it going to work for all of us? Centralization like this – one of the pillars of the liberal view of government – is a failure. It has been shown not to work, specifically with regards to health care, and yet we just keep doing it bigger and costlier. Vets are dying in service to this social and political experiment. That’s certainly not the war they signed up for.

And in the meantime, Army Private and convicted felon Bradley Manning has been on the fast-track to get his sex change. Got to have your priorities.

The White House vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by year’s end. That’s if they agree to leave. Comedian Argus Hamilton says, if given the choice between surviving Taliban attacks in the Afghan mountains and surviving VA care when they get home, they like their chances in the mountains.

11 years on

11 years after 9/11 we see that the problem still exists (witness the recent events in Cairo and Libya).

What we need to realize here is that on December 7, 1952 (11 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor), not only was World War II over, but Japan was our ally, and we were in the midst of the Korean War (which would not be over for another 7 months). The dynamics of the acts of aggression in those conflicts are categorically separate than what we now face. This is different – very different. As for the events of the past few days, to blame an insignificant movie as the cause demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the core issue. Furthermore, to blame an insignificant movie for the murder of 4 Americans in Libya would be like blaming Wall Street for the toppling of the Twin Towers. Oh, I forgot, some people already do.

Links for Friday, 23 March 2012

“The Mass murder in Afghanistan was predictable.”
So says Michael Yon. And he’s one who should know. From his post,

The mass murder in Afghanistan was predictable. Twice in the past three weeks, I published that it was coming. Why was I able to write this with sad confidence? I’ve spent more time with combat troops in these wars than any other writer: about four years in total in country, and three with combat troops.

About 200 coalition members have been killed or wounded from insider attacks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is tantamount to being Taliban and has not bothered to apologize. Instead, Karzai whips up anti-U.S. fervor at every opportunity. Twice, Karzai has threatened to leave politics and join the Taliban.

Even our most disciplined troops — not the few problem troops — have lost all idealism. They have not lost heart for the fight. Mostly, they just don’t care. They fight because they are ordered to fight, but they have eyes wide open. The halfhearted surge and sudden drawdown leave little room for success.

Afghans will seek revenge and they will have it. This will lead to yet greater possibilities of another mass murder from our side. We are considering holding the trial in Afghanistan. Pashtuns don’t care about our justice system. They don’t even care about the Afghan government; they want blood for blood. We are being drawn into a feud.


CNN covers Fast & Furious
ICE Agents Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata. By all rights you should have heard their stories at least a small percentage as much as that of Trayvon Martin’s.


When Cultures Diverge?
Joe Carter links to a story about the massive rate of suicide in Japan, tied to the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. From the post,

According to Bloomberg, suicides rose in April, May, June and August—the months following the natural disasters that devastated towns in northeastern Japan and triggered a nuclear crisis. For a 14th straight year, suicides in Japan have exceeded 30,000.

After the disaster the West marveled at how orderly the Japanese responded – especially the fact that there was little to no looting and unrest. It was hinted that such was evidence that their culture was superior to that found in most of the West.

Yet, despite the orderliness that their culture rests on, we still see the fruits of what can only be termed a “here and now” philosophy. Whether in East or West, the human condition is woefully insufficient to provide the Hope that all humanity needs.


Citizen registers his dog to demonstrate lax voter registration procedures
So authorities launch an investigation of… the citizen.

A Republican voter in New Mexico is under criminal investigation for signing up his dog as a Democrat in a bid to highlight what he considers deficiencies in the state’s registration process.

No mention is made as to whether or not an investigation on voter registration procedures is forthcoming.


The Elephant in the church


Know your rights as a victim of ID Theft
From Consumer Reports,

The FCRA and FACT protect your rights if you are a victim if ID theft by enabling you to put fraud alerts on your credit report with the consumer reporting agencies, get a free credit report from the three national consumer reporting agencies when placing a fraud alert, block fraudulent information from appearing in your credit report, and receive a notice of these and other rights from the consumer reporting agencies.

The difference

You’re probably well aware by now of the murderous attack that left 15 people dead in Pakistan.

What? You thought it was 16 people in Afghanistan who were killed? Well, certainly that news is making the headlines on newswires across the world. But I’m referring to a suicide attack on mourners at a funeral in Pakistan. From Bill Roggio, at The Long War Journal,

A suicide bomber killed 15 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a funeral in the Pakistani city of Peshawar today. The attack appears to have targeted a senior provincial government official who has raised an anti-Taliban militia in the area.

Pakistani officials confirmed that a suicide bomber carried out today’s attack as mourners were offering prayers for a woman during a funeral in the Badaber area of Peshawar.

Had you heard about this? If you had, was it a news headline or merely another one-of-many filler stories?

In a way, perhaps the fact that such stories get so little airplay, and stories of U.S. military personnel committing crimes get so much airplay is an indication of the very difference between our moral high ground and the terrorist enemy’s.

Consider the following account of Muslim on Muslim killings, per The Long War Journal.

Over the past five years, the Taliban and allied Pakistani terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Punjabi Taliban have shown no reservations about striking inside mosques and other religious sites, as well as during religious processions and events. There have been 36 major attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007, according to information compiled by The Long War Journal.

One of the most brazen attacks took place on Dec. 4, 2009, when a suicide assault team stormed a mosque frequented by military officers in Rawalpindi. Two senior generals were among the 40 people killed.

Another major attack took place on July 1, 2010, when suicide bombers struck the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170. Three suicide bombers detonated their vests at the shrine at a time when it was most frequented, in an effort to maximize casualties.

The last major attack against religious targets took place on Sept. 15, 2011, when a suicide bomber killed 31 people in an attack at a funeral in Lower Dir.

All told, The Long War Journal lists 36 major attacks since December 2007 (in Pakistan alone), resulting in 805 people killed. That’s an average of 22 people killed per attack – attacks at mosques and other Islamic institutions.

Try to find that on CNN.

Links for Thursday, 23 February 2012

Have you heard of the MEDEVAC issue with the Army?
Does it make sense to essentially paint a target on medic helicopters evacuating wounded military personnel from the battlefield? Michael Yon has written on it, and FoxNews now has a piece.


Michael Yon on Britches for the Troops


Victoria’s Secret Model gives it all up because of her faith?
Original HT to Joe Carter. From the CBS story,

After reaching the pinnacle of her career, a Victoria’s Secret model says she recently quit the runway because she wants to be a more positive role model for young girls and because baring so much skin conflicted with her Christian beliefs.

It took time for her to figure this out? Color me just a tad skeptical of this story and/or the circumstances.


Alcohol, high-speed crash, 3 Marines dead
Perhaps we should be more concerned with anti-driving laws than with anti-gun laws?


Has the U.S. Constitution seen better days?
From the New York Times,

The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.

In an interview, Professor Law identified a central reason for the trend: the availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. “Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1,” he said.

In a television interview during a visit to Egypt last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court seemed to agree. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.

Didn’t CS Lewis refer to this type of thinking as chronological snobbery?


Uh-Oh. This election cycle might get even nastier

Preserve, Protect and Defend

"…and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God." These words complete the US Presidential oath of office.

Preserve. Protect. Defend. What do those words mean? Aren’t these the duties of the President? If the President of the failed to do that, could he be brought up on criminal charges? How, in fact, do  you defend the Constitution?

Here are some ideas. Preserve the principles of the Constitution. Protect Constitutional rights of the people. And here’s one: Defend the laws passed using the process defined in the Constitution.

But our President has decided which laws he will preserve, protect and defend, and those he won’t. It started with the Defense of Marriage Act, and now this:

The Obama Justice Department has concluded that legislation banning same-sex couples from receiving military and veterans benefits violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment and will no longer defend the statute in court, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders on Friday.

“The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”

But that’s not his call to make. He isn’t there to decide which laws, in his estimation, are worth defending and which aren’t. The duly elected representatives of the people have made these laws. The executive branch does not have the Constitutional right to override the people or the legislative branch. It is, I contend, a breach of his oath of office.

Instead, the Justice Department is pre-empting the judicial branch’s process.

Holder said DOJ would no longer defend the provisions in Title 38 which prevent same-sex couples who are legally married from obtaining benefits. He said that Congress would be provided a “full and fair opportunity” to defend the statues in the McLaughlin v. Panetta case if they wished to do so.

Congress does not have the role of defending its legislation; that is Holder’s job.

Comments on the liberal "Talking Points Memo" blog on this article are uniformly positive about this move by the DOJ. But I wonder if they would be so happy about some social conservative President deciding he wouldn’t press federal charges against someone who killed an abortion doctor. For the Left, the decision as to whether something is Constitutional always takes a back seat to whether it’s politically expedient for their side. They like the outcome, so never mind the law, and never mind the people. Win at all costs.

Even if one of those costs is our founding principles.

Friday Link Wrap-up


UK cancer survival rates are the worst in the Western world. And yet another example of Sarah Palin’s death panels, "And the elderly are routinely denied surgery or drugs to remove tumours because doctors think it is not worthwhile."


President Obama brings bi-partisanship to Washington. "Crossing party lines to deliver a stunning rebuke to the commander in chief, the vast majority of the House voted Friday for resolutions telling President Obama he has broken the constitutional chain of authority by committing U.S. troops to the international military mission in Libya.

Obama wouldn’t defend federal law in court (DOMA), wouldn’t abide by the War Powers Act, and is now ignoring a law intended to protect Medicare.

Medical & Politics

You can keep your current insurance under ObamaCare…unless your employer is one of the 30% that say they’d drop it.

Under a Republican administration, this would be considered a church/state entanglement. For a Democrat, free pass.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked black pastors and clergy members to help the administration fight what she called “mistruths” about the health care reform law President Barack Obama signed into law last year

Middle East

When 90% of folks in the Middle East hold an unfavorable opinion of Jews (Jordan 97%, Palestinians 97%, Egypt 95%, Lebanon 98%), you gotta’ wonder how possible peace is between them. You also gotta’ wonder how much is prejudice. Once you get to know those Jews, attitudes turn around. "By contrast, only 35% of Israeli Arabs expressed a negative opinion of Jews, while 56% voiced a favorable opinion."

Iran suggests that the day after their first nuclear test would be no big deal. They are floating the trial balloon. Will the world notice?


And finally, some sacrifice is shared rather unequally. (Click for a larger version.)

Never Forget

67 years ago today one of the most daring military operations was launched at Normandy. President Ronald Reagan had just the right words to mark the occasion of the 40th anniversary:

We should never forget their sacrifice.

Related: A Great and Terrible Day.

Also related: A Pure Miracle, war correspondent Ernie Pyle’s account of the invasion.

And, General Eisenhower’s D-Day speech.

A Scintillating Post on Budgets

Well, no, it won’t necessarily be, as there’s very little scintillating about that topic (unless you’re an economist, but maybe not even then). But I just wanted to weigh in on the big topic at hand in Washington; the battle over the budget.

Understand that this is the current year’s budget we’re talking about. When the Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress, they couldn’t pass a budget. And now that the Republicans have been swept into the budgetary side of the legislature, it’s even more difficult. But the Dems have no one to blame but themselves for this situation. If they’d passed a budget, Republicans, and especially the Tea Partiers among them, would have little to say on real spending until the fall. But free-for-all spending without a budget is sort of liberal utopia in a nutshell, so being hoist on their own petard elicits some satisfying schadenfreude.

OK, enough clichés. Moving on.

Both sides say they want to be responsible with the budget, but the tsunami of red ink the Democrats have drowned us and our grandchildren in doesn’t speak to any real underlying principle of restraint. Things were bad when Republicans held Congress and the Oval Office, but, as predicted, the Democrats were orders of magnitude worse. The Tea Party was a response to both issues, and some of the Republican leadership sees this and is doing something about it. Not nearly enough, mind you, but a more concerted effort than we’ve seen in quite a long time.

Yet both sides have their sacrosanct programs. For Republicans, this is generally the military, and for Democrats, this is generally entitlements. Let’s start with the latter. A blogger I know from the Left asked an open question on how to cut $300 billion. His answer was, of course, stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (though Libya went interestingly unmentioned; perhaps because that’s a "kinetic military action" and not a war) and cut military programs. Viola. He asked for other ideas, with one stipulation being that it shouldn’t be done "on the backs of the poor, sick, elderly and otherwise marginalized". That kind of phrasing generally means "entitlements are untouchable, and if you even look at them sideways, we have a demagogue script all ready to go." Thus, for liberals, entitlements can only ever go up, period. Yet that is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Entitlements are eating up so much of the budget that much of the rest is just a case of nibbling around the edges. One suggestion I heard was to just take the 2008 budget and pass it. It would cut spending, including entitlements, and somehow, with that budget, we didn’t have rampant homelessness and the elderly starving to death. (And don’t talk to me about inflation; that was just 3 years ago.)

Which brings us to the Republicans. If entitlements are an 800 pound gorilla, the military is it’s 600 pound cousin. But here’s are the differences:

  • The military is a constitutionally-enumerated power of the government. Wealth redistribution is not.
  • While the rest of the world look down their collective noses at the size of our military and the money we spend on it, this is the same world that asks, "Where are the Americans?" anytime we don’t show up to an atrocity or a despot or any other international incident. Europe wouldn’t handle Kosovo. The Arab League wouldn’t handle Libya. Everyone sneers at our military, but wouldn’t know what to do if we didn’t have it.

Indeed, I would like to see some saving in military spending by, for starters, shutting down all those bases in Europe that were there to protect it from Soviet aggression. Turn them over to the locals and let them man the battle stations, or abandon them, whatever. But before you start cutting military spending on current hot spots, let’s get rid of the spending on spots that haven’t been hot for decades. There is money to be cut from the military if you’re willing to look. I’m sorry that manufacturing jobs may be lost, but if you’re keeping the jobs for the jobs’ sake and not for what’s being produced, how is that any different than socialist/communist make-work jobs?

The sacred cows need to be put on a diet. All of them

Rusty Nails (SCO v. 15)

Valor Take the time to view the sequence of events which led to Staff Sgt Robert Miller being awarded the Medal of Honor.


Bad News / Good News The Bad News – from Mark Dever (HT: Joe Carter),

One part of clarity sometimes missed by earnest evangelists, however, is the willingness to offend. Clarity with the claims of Christ certainly will include the translation of the Gospel into words that our hearer understands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean translating it into words that our hearer will like. Too often advocates of relevant evangelism verge over into being advocates of irrelevant non-evangelism. A gospel which in no way offends the sinner has not been understood.

The Good News – Most evangelicals are looking forward to having a whole lot of fun at church this coming Sunday (ostensibly so that non-Christians will like what they experience).


Anti-Anti-Government Uh, no, Tea Party protests, and the like, are not “anti-government”. Advocating small government is completely contrary to advocating anarchy.


Politics, as meant to be If the GOP makes gains in November, then it will be “hand to hand combat” in Congress next year. Bring it on! That’s what the founders counted on.


Huh? Janet Napolitano “doesn’t know the answer” to the question of what to do with illegal alien Nicky Diaz? What’s not to know? Aren’t illegal aliens supposed to be deported to their country of origin? Methinks the first part of “immigration reform” would be to start enforcing the laws as they stand.


Pessimism on U.S. Race Relations? Many people, prior to the election in 2008, categorically stated that they were voting for Obama because he was black [sic], and some people implied it was morally wrong to not vote for him, presumably because he would be the first black [sic] president. With that type of naive thinking (i.e., racist), are the results of this poll surprising?

Don’t Dis the Commander-in-Chief

As much as General Stanley McChrystal’s comments in his Rolling Stone magazine interview may accurately reflect the military’s view of Obama as Commander-in-Chief, he was wrong to make them to the news media.  He’s not the policy maker; Obama is. 

I disapproved of this sort of behavior under George W. Bush, and I want to say for the record that I disapprove of it under Barack Obama. 

That is all.

On Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day. Keep in mind that, while we certainly should honor our veterans, Memorial Day is the day we remember those who have died in service to our country.

Whatever your choice of activities for today, whether it be picnic, barbecue, parade, beach, lake, or all of the above, take the time to remember those who, by virtue of their sacrifice, are unable to partake in today’s festivities. And… take the time to teach your children to respect the freedoms we remember today.


Images: National Cemetery, Springfield, MO; American Flag, Cambria, CA © A. R. Lopez

Remembering a Soldier of the Greatest Generation

Memorial Day 2010
When I think of men and women of the armed forces who paid the ultimate price to fight for freedom and justice, I think of their peers and how they honor those who didn’t make it.   Those who remember soldiers who fought and died on the battlefields of  the last century are now bowed men in their seventies and eighties speaking hesitantly about their colleagues and their service a lifetime ago in the killing fields of Europe and Asia. We owe our nation to them, because of their moral strength, their youthful sacrifices, and their country-building ethic.
Harry Jewell, 1945 (5th Army, 34th Division, 135th Infantry)

Harry Jewell, 1945 (5th Army, 34th Division, 135th Infantry)

There has been much courage and dreadful sacrifice by veterans in the intervening years, but on Memorial Day and all days when we honor veterans, I think of  my favorite veteran, my father, who left us to be with the Lord he loved in January 2004 at the age of 79.

“They were better than we are,” said Tom Brokaw about the generation that saved the world from the last century’s Axis of Evil. The stark statement is true, we know. My father, Harry Jewell, was better than I am, I know.

Dad was a member of what they’ve called The Greatest Generation. He served his country mostly in Italy during World War II, and he was a hero of the American variety—putting his life on the line to save the world, and spending his life to serve his family, assuring their well-being in so many ways.

Dad told very few stories of the War, like most of his comrades in arms who saw their service as opportunities for duty, not celebrity; and didn’t relish the ugly memories. But from time to time we’d pull out a remarkable tale. Such as the time he was racing his jeep across an open field, with German artillery following him, but missing by just a few paces each time. Or the time he and others stepped inside a building, and their friend was obliterated by a shell on the front step they had just left. Death was always so close.

A sense of purpose prevailed and soldiers like Dad never asked why. Evil is evil, and men like Dad didn’t have any trouble recognizing it, as many seem to today.

A man of deep faith, my Dad demonstrated his peace with God in his final days and his homegoing. In life and at death he was an example to all of us.

Thanks to all who have served, then and now. And thanks Dad. I miss you.

Apologizing, once again

It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them.

President Obama

Guess what, Mr. President? We LIKE it (and we do not like the alternative).

Defense Spending: Not As Much As You Might Think

What if I told you that we’re spending as much on defense now as we were when Jimmy Carter was President?  Yeah, I’d laugh, too.  But the Cato Institute notes that, as a percentage of the gross domestic product, defense spending is indeed at late-1970s levels.

What’s also interesting to see is that non-defense spending, by the same measure, having stayed at about the same percentage of GDP for 30 years or so, has skyrocketed under Obama.


(Click on the image for the accompanying article.)

Defense spending, a constitutional role of government, is really not the problem when it comes to our national debt.  Just an FYI.

 Page 1 of 3  1  2  3 »