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The Price Of War

We look at veterans back from war and waiting way too long for benefits. The price of war delayed and denied.

Marine Cpl. Tyler Huffman looks over a waterfall at the 9/11 Memorial in New York. (AP)

Marine Cpl. Tyler Huffman looks over a waterfall at the 9/11 Memorial in New York. (AP)

Apparent meltdown at the VA over getting benefits to veterans.

As vets have crowded home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – with all kinds of needs and wounds and disabilities – waiting times for help have soared. 273 days on average, for vets with immediate problems.

642 days for vets in New York. 619 in LA. 500-plus days in Chicago. Nearly a million vets waiting. 600,000 backlogged. Applications lost. Vets in trouble.

It’s a scandal. And maybe a sign of a country delaying and denying the true cost of war.

This hour On Point: veterans back from war and backlogged.

- Tom Ashbrook


Aaron Glantz, Reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting covering veterans and domestic military issues, and author of “The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans” (2009). (@Aaron_Glantz)

Linda Bilmes, Professor of public policy, Harvard University, and author of: The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict” (with Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2008).

Jeff Miller, Republican U.S. Representative for Florida, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Tom Tarantino, Chief of Policy, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

From Tom’s Reading List

Center for Investigative Reporting “Despite agency promises to eliminate the claims backlog by 2015, the internal documents show the VA expects the number of veterans waiting – currently about 900,000 – to continue to increase throughout 2013 and top a million by the end of this month.” (March 2013.)

The Hill “Shinseki said a lack of funding was not the issue, noting that his department has received 40 percent in budget increases over the past four years, while most other agencies have taken hits. He instead pointed to the massive amount of paperwork that needed to be transferred to digital formats, the need to sync with Department of Defense (DOD) records and the addition of more veterans who qualify for disability claims as reasons for the backlog.”

USA Today “Allison Hickey, the retired Air Force brigadier general who for two years has been VA’s undersecretary for benefits, said she continues to believe it is possible to eliminate the backlog of claims by the end of 2015 and to complete initial claims within 125 days with 98% accuracy.”

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  • Steve__T

    This man said it all, in the link below. I live in a Military town, the bumper stickers and the back window RIP’s are numerous.
    The one that sticks out the most “Some gave all all gave some” I add to that some are still giving.


  • LinRP

    The way we treat our veterans is one of our country’s biggest shames. Where’s the “support our troops” now? 

  • Ray in VT

    Hopefully Representative Miler and his Senate counterpart, Senator Bernie Sanders, can do some productive work via their committees in order to get these wait times and such under control.  Hospital and medical spending by the VA has doubled over the past decade, and that spending and VA infrastructure appears to not be cutting it for many veterans.

  • Shag_Wevera


  • Gregg Smith

    God bless them.

    • creaker

      That’s certainly a lot cheaper than giving them the benefits they are entitled to.

      • Gregg Smith

        I agree.

  • Gregg Smith

    Maybe a show on the price of peace is in order.

    • Ray in VT

      Sure.  Just point us to some numbers detailing how much damage to the U.S. Iraq could have done with their mobile weapons labs and all of the other stuff that they didn’t have, weren’t trying to acquire, or weren’t working to develop.

      • Gregg Smith

        Freedom isn’t free.

        • jimino

          You mean we should have actually been required to pay for the Iraq invasion, occupation and its aftermath with our taxes? 

          I agree.


          • Gregg Smith

            We did but I was not talking about dollars.

        • creaker

          But we would have the same freedom whether or not all that death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan took place or not.

          On the other hand, I agree it was hardly free – it cost over $4 trillion, with more to come for decades.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    It’s about time someone address the horrific burden born by the many survivors of the Neocon’s last exercise in flexing power on the international stage.

    The chicken hawks who beat the drums of war, wrapped themselves up in the flag and  anyone who questioned their motives were accused of being un-American.

    Support Our Troops yellow ribbon magnets appeared on every other car. Talk is cheap. Action is a sign of character.

    Now many soldiers who volunteered to go into harms way ‘for our country’, are left struggling day today, some from moment to moment, many in extreme physical and psychological pain that few can imagine. Services across the country have been consistently inconsistent. Where is the commitment now to support these poor souls to whom our nation is greatly indebted?

    The price of the Neocon’s naïveté, hubris and treachery is there for all to see, but few want to be confronted by the implications. No one wants to own up to responsibility and help care for the victims of the mess they helped create.

    Even today we hear more drumbeats of war. Will no one learn from even this most recent history?

  • 1Brett1

    Which was the last war in which we were involved that was worth the casualties? 

    Why do so many injured veterans have such a consistently difficult time getting proper benefits and treatment? (Perhaps a good question for Jeff Miller in particular?)

    • Ray in VT

      Maybe the first gulf war?  If not, then I think that the next best argument would probably be for World War II.  I think that Vietnam would be out of the discussion, but maybe an argument could be made for Korea.

      • keltcrusader

        If I remember correctly, there were a lot of Veterans that suffered after the Gulf War with strange & unexplained illnesses, possibly from chemical/biological warefare exposure (Gulf War Syndrome). They were routinley denied care even then.

        • Ray in VT

          True.  They mentioned treating claims by Vietnam vets for Agent Orange exposure, but I wonder what the VA’s current stance on Gulf War Syndrome is.  There is also the issue that some Iraq vets were exposed to some highly toxic materials at certain sites.

          • keltcrusader

            My cousins husband was exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war – their first child was born with severe heart defects, but they could never get the Army to admit it had anything to do with his exposure.

          • Ray in VT

            I’m very sorry to hear about that.  My children were all born very healthy, and my wife and I have been very thankful for that.  One of our college friends and his wife had a very premature baby, and it has been gut-wrenching just to read the updates on Facebook, although things are looking up for him.

      • 1Brett1

        I kind of sit with a similar view as yours. Our involvement in WWII was necessary, I believe…I’m ambivalent about Korea, having a father who was disabled while a Marine in Korea, and his brother, my uncle, was killed in Korea. 

        Hindsight is always going to be 20/20…that said, in our modern world, our leaders need to get a lot smarter about responding to conditions that might lead us into a military conflict. Additionally, the political theater and corruption that has gone along with the issues that have surrounded Afghanistan and Iraq need to be prevented (or at least seriously kept on a short leash) in future.

    • Gregg Smith

      That question (the 1st one) is impossible to answer without factoring the cost of not going to war which is unquantifiable without a crystal ball. I understand to many here it’s a no brainer that Iraq was not worth the cost. I feel differently but don’t have a crystal ball either so I’m not trying to dredge up yet another Iraq debate. I offer it only as a matter of logic not as a defense of any war. 

    • creaker

      Everyone that gets turned away or falls through the cracks is one less they have to pay for and divert money away from defense contractors.

  • albert Sordi

    Victims of continuous corporate wars reaping obscene profits and providing salaries to the silent guilty who live quite well behind white picket fences while offering hollow platitudes such as “freedom isn’t free” and other such nonsense.

    Legs and arms are gone, families burdened forever.
    Thank you Halliburton, AIPAC, General Dynamics, Exxon-Mobile.  And I really enjoyed the Army Nascar promotional hat when I joined up.

    Same old story.  War is meant to cull the lower classes from the population, relieve unemployment and divert attention from corporate elitist theft.

    People never learn.  Bread and circus continues.

  • Jim

    The Price of War:

    Risk Free for GW Bush, Karl Rove and the administration, even if lies were given and the citizens of the US were duped to entering the war. Absolutely Risk Free and absolutely free from any accountability including treason.

    • DeJay79

       “You go to War with the credit card you have” … and worry about the results later!

  • Bluejay2fly

    The treatment of the wounded at the Fort Hood shooting is especially appalling. The incident was considered work place violence so the victims do not get what few enhanced benefits combat veterans get. Tragically, this is all too often how we often treat our service members. In my 22 yrs. I could tell you some horror stories. USNR Retired.

  • creaker

    All that “support our troops” stuff sounds pretty hollow. Maybe a few more bumper stickers would help.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

    I guess I was fortunate, I filed for my disability claim last April and was approved just this January.  I’m grateful that my story doesn’t fit with some of these horrible profiles we’re hearing about.

    • hennorama

      Thank you for your service, and sorry for your disability.  Best wishes.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Excuse me, we’re expecting THIS congress, and THIS president, to do something about vets issues? They couldn’t run a soup kitchen without screwing it up.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      I wouldn’t be going on about THIS president when it was THAT president that did the damage in the first place. Very similar to blaming this president for not cleaning up that president’s econ crash fast enough.

      That said, this timid conservadem president does not have strong leadership. I hope that Hagel will help, as he has actually “been there”. 

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Bush said iraq wd cost $50 billion and iraqi oil wd pay for the reconstruction.

    The long term care of injured vets alone will be over $50 bil.

    But we’re hearing “WMD” scare stories again and the lessons were not learned! Vietnam and the Tonkin gulf didn’t make us skeptical about  saddam’s nonexistent WMD, and saddam’s nonexistent WMD aren’t making a lot of folks skeptical about the big bad iran/syria threat. When will we ever learn?

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Sounds like a case of business process paralysis which is complicated by bureaucratic paralysis. This is very sad.

  • creaker

    Rip out the structure of the VA – and replace them with vets who had to go through the system themselves.

  • X-Ray

    Another proof that this Administration is feckless. Obama mentioned the
    problem at the start of his first term and yet it has grown worse. Sad.

    • jefe68

      Here’s some news for you. All of the administrations, with the exception of FDR and Truman, have dropped the ball on vets. 

      • X-Ray

        Well, that’s a justification for the fecklessness of the current
        Administration; most of the previous ones have done a poor job too.

  • creaker

    This isn’t just about vets – all of them have families, and many have families of their own.

  • Scott B

    Shouldn’t servicemen that are coming home with obvious medical and physical issues (missing body parts,  unable to walk, in a brace, etc.) just be automatically be given some standard benefit, THEN it can be adjusted (and no penalty if it’s adjusted down. It’s a helluva lot easier to wait when they’re getting something, anything, rather than nothing.

    Put the injured servicepeople to work scanning the paperwork! Kills several birds with one stone! It gives them jobs and purpose, and clears the backlog.

    There’s a scanning system that’s out there now, that’s being used to bring medical services into the electronic medical record compliance laws, that can scan an outrageous amount of paperwork in a big damned hurry and it actually works, unlike whatever electric abacus the government bought.

  • Ray in VT

    Is there a change in nature of the conditions that the VA is having to deal with, and is that having an impact.  For instance, there has been much reporting regarding traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress.  Is the system ill equipped to handle these sorts of issues?

  • TVPC58

    VBA Workforce:

    In regard to the VA Benefits Administration (VBA) where they process claims, I have been waiting for several months for a response to a job interview in one of their TX offices as a Veterans Service Representative (VSR).  I live near Winston-Salem, NC (where the building is about to collapse because of the amount of the paper claims) and would like to work in that office, but have never seen a job posting for a VSR the last two years that I have been looking. 

    Yes, I understand that the Providence, RI VBA office is on the ball.

  • creaker

    “underpriced the war” – I remember when we were told we supposedly were going to be in and out in 3 months – before the hot days of summer

  • jefe68

    This show is exposing the mess of the VA. We spent billions on the war in Iraq and somehow we can’t fix this?

    All Americans should be ashamed. The other issue is the huge amount of homeless vets out there. 

    War destroys people. My great uncle who saw a fair amount of action (Battle of the Bugle, awarded a Bronze Star) in WW2 had PTSD in the last ten years of his life. I was not old enough to remember if he was treated well, but I do know the last years of his life were not good. 

    • creaker

      they don’t want to fix it – simply because they don’t want to pay for it

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Also, it is a GOVERNMENT agency, and the righty agenda is bashing and demoralizing civil servants, attacking gvt agencies, and ultimately privatizing them to steer more $ to their cronies in the private sector (anyone not understand why privatizing SS has such a high priority?).

    • hennorama

      jefe68 – correction – we’ve spent HUNDREDS OF billions on the war in Iraq and will eventually spend as much as $3 TRILLION.

      Here’s the ‘Jeopardy’ answer and question combo, in response:

      Clue:  There’s no profit in it.

      Response:  Why won’t U.S. VA system be fixed any time soon?

      • jefe68

        I have to say you seem to have a problem with parsing what people post, or so it would seem. When someone writes the word billions, it’s obvious, at least to me, that this could be anywhere from ten too hundreds. 

        Also it’s clear that the Obama administration is dropping the ball on fixing this. The Bush administration created this mess, but they are no longer in office. 

        • hennorama

          jefe68 – Apologies if you took offense, as none was intended.

          I don’t disagree with you. My point in posting my “correction” was to emphasize the magnitude of the total costs of the Iraq war, occupation, and aftermath.

          I also do not disagree with you about the problem not being fixed fast enough. But as my post indicated, it is not going to be fixed any time soon, regardless of who caused the problem, and regardless of who is tasked with cleaning up the mess.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Shinseki was driven out by the Bush administration for testifying about more realistic troop requirements for the Iraq ‘cakewalk’.

    Much of Veterans’ plight is fallout from the Bush administration’s propaganda deflating the cost of the war and underestimating force level requirements for stabilization which sped the ensuing collapse of Iraq’s society, protracted the engagement and overwhelmed the already broken VA.

  • hennorama

    Combat troops are out of Iraq.  However, the US is not completely out of Iraq – we still have about 10,500 personnel remaining at the US Embassy in Baghdad, according to U.S. Ambassador Robert Stephen Beecroft.

    In the aftermath of the Iraq war, and amidst the ongoing war in Afghanistan, we now have hundreds of thousands of trained killers upset with the US government – US miltary veterans who are unable to promptly get the benefits they paid such a high price to qualify for.

    History will harshly judge the Bush/Chaney unprecedented policy of preemptive war against the invented strategic threat of supposed Iraqi WMD. 

    Tens of thousands of US and Coalition soldiers and contractors have  been killed and wounded.  Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have perished in these wars, and millions were displaced both internally and externally.  The memories of this war and occupation, and the resulting hatred of the U.S. will persist in Iraqi society and elsewhere for decades, and may indeed foster future real enemies.

    U.S. prestige in the world has been so diminished that it will take many years to recover, if it ever does.

    Not to mention the crippling economic, political and societal costs of the illegitimate war in Iraq.  Not only was this multi-trillion-dollar war unfunded (another precedent set by Bush/Cheney), but we also have tens and hundreds of thousands of veterans who will require decades of care.

    The Iraq war was worthwhile to those who pump oil; to weapons manufacturers given a giant sandbox to play in to test new weapons systems; and to terrorists who have been given an enormous opportunity to practice and refine their techniques.

    • Gregg Smith

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion but you are making assumption. Obama’s approval rating in the world in way down. In Muslim countries the US was rated higher during Bush’s last year than it is now. It might have something to do with liberating 50 million. In Africa Bush was loved and even idolized. This is a good piece by a raging yet honest liberal from a while back.

      The Iraq war was about far more than WMD and if you read Bush’s speech to the UN Sept.12, 2002 you will see many issues raised before he even gets to WMD. At the time the “supposed” threat was nearly universally agreed upon. Clinton’s CIA director said it was a “slam dunk”.

      The war was funded. You have done a good job of parroting talking point but they don’t agree with the facts on the ground. But again, you’re entitled to your opinion.

      • jefe68

        How was the war funded? If it was then how come we are still paying for it? How could they fund something they thought would be over in about six months when it has lasted ten years?

        The war was not funded, it was put on the USA charge card.

        • Gregg Smith

          It was funded by tacking on the spending to other bills. There were no stand alone war funding bills but it was paid for. However, in the sense that every dime any President spends adds to the deficit, if that’s what you mean, you are correct. 

          • anamaria23

            Please reference the “other bills”.
            Is this new news?

          • Gregg Smith

            It’s not new news it’s very old news that’s been muffled by talking points. There was money for Iraq in Pentagon bills, Farm bills and others. It was a long time ago, I’m going by memory but it’s out there if you want to look it up. 

          • anamaria23

            Please research it and refresh your memory for us.  It is important information.
            Who muffled it?   As a close followere of the news I have never heard such.  

          • Gregg Smith

            With all due respect, were you a close follower of the news a decade ago. I thought you were young and even assumed from your moniker you were 23. I think I got that from you but I certainly might be mistaken. I’ve always tried to cut you a lot of slack but I notice you often click “like” on the most vile ad hominem attacks on me so I must say I’ve soured a bit. Disagreement is fine. Piling on to meaningless hate puts me off a tad.

            If I get some time I’ll look it up but IMO the claim “the war wasn’t paid of” is the one that was not backed up.

      • anamaria23

        According to Mr. Smith, we are not to hold President G. Bush responsible for anything, yet he collects grievances against Barack  Obama like some collect stamps. 
        Perhaps we all should take responsibility for not protesting the Iraq war louder,  but let us not pretend that George Bush was a reluctant participant led on by the CIA, Hilllary Clinton, Tony Blair et al.     Hans Blitz was regarded as a fool, yet he was right.

        Bush and company have much to answer for.

        • Gregg Smith

          I was very hard on Bush at the time for spending, immigration, Dubai Ports, Harriet Meyers and a host of other things. Obama seems to be a good father.

          • http://www.facebook.com/RoberteKelly Robert Kelly

             Ha! But not the Iraq war, I see…spending? Spending. How about cutting taxes for the wealthy during a war? Nope, that was fine. Immigration? Why because Bush wanted a moderate plan?…which we will get anyway…you people just stood in the way. As usual.  Harriet Myers was a pawn in a larger game….ugh…Mr. Smith, don’t ever go to Washington, we don’t need another idiot there. 

          • Gregg Smith

            I supported the Iraq war so yea. I’m a broken record on this but the tax cuts were for the poor too, the poor fared much better than the rich and 6 million of the poorest quit paying altogether. The rich paid more of the bill and had their rates lowered less than the bottom bracket. Revenue went up. It was a spending problem and cutting taxes is not spending. Anyone who uses the phrase “tax cuts for the rich” is parroting talking points.

            But thanks for the kind words.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        The threat was agreed upon by the beltway echo chamber, which is just groupthink and not independent voices. It’s funny that you cite “universal” agreement of the iraq threat lemmings as a big deal while you belittle the universal agreement of real scientists on global warming. 

        The fact is that there was plenty of questioning of the “consensus” about big bad saddam, who couldn’t even keep the kurds from setting up an independent state in the north of “his” country. Problem was, it was crushed in the corporate righty media.

        • Gregg Smith

          I’m not going to repost the quotes of the Clintons, Albright, Kerry, Pelosi, Berger, Senator Obama, Durbin, and the rest yet again. You obviously refuse to acknowledge the mindset in late 2002 when the debate was taking place. 

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Thanks, and I won’t repost the non-beltway quotes of those who did not follow the “consensus”.

            BTW we all know that iraq ONCE had the chem weapons approved by reagan, and it’s dishonest to use quotes from an earlier period in the context of 2003. Chem weapons have a limited shelf life, as inspector scott ritter explained.

            You’re wrong that I “refuse to acknowledge the mindset”. I’m talking about the mindset, the groupthink, that prevented a serious evaluation of the scare tactics.

            Geez, it’s all coming back to me. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”. Generic aluminum tubes being used for uranium enrichment. Can’t you tell when you’re being played?

          • http://www.facebook.com/RoberteKelly Robert Kelly

             Yeah, I remember watching PBS News Hour when I was living in Canada during the run-up and thinking the arguments for war were B.S. And they were B.S. It WAS a group-think mindset and if you were not with the Bush administration you were against it…a so-called “bad American”. I remember, even if conservatives have their heads in the sand. As usual…

          • Ray in VT

            I wonder if many of those statements were based upon the selective use of intelligence and the false sense of intelligence community consensus that the administration peddled to the American public.  If they had access to the time to the information which was contradictory, then they should certainly be blamed.  Maybe they can get a medal for being wrong too.

            Your long list of quotes, many of which, if I recall correctly, were from the late 1990s, certainly shows that many were wrong.  Some seem to have been intentionally wrong, especially in light of information that was collected from 1998 or so until early 2003.

            It’s just such a shame that the Bush administration seems to have made up its mind that it was going to take the country to war at least by mid-2002.  Perhaps if they had been chomping at the bit less then the U.N. inspectors in late 2002 and early 2003 might have been able to prove just how wrong the intelligence was.  The administration having been more honest with the public would have helped too.

          • Gregg Smith

            Any information that was collected between 1998 and 2003 was done without verification of inspectors. Many of the quotes were from the debate over Clinton’s “Iraq Liberation Act” (H.R. 4655) which passed the House 360-38 and passed in the Senate by unanimous consent. There were also a lot of quotes from the lead up to the vote on UN resolution 1441 which passed the security council on Nov. 8,2002 by a vote of 15-0. There Iraq war resolution was passed at about the same time in Congress. The vote in the House was 297-133, and 77-23 in the Senate. That was October 2, 2002. Here’s one from Hillary the day before the Senate vote.

            There wasn’t much that happened between then and March of 2003 other than giving Hussein one more last chance to come clean.

            I stand by my claim and do not understand why you do back flips to deny it.

          • Ray in VT

            Hmmm, so we went to war based upon information that was collected without the verification of inspectors, who returned in late 2002, yet there was such certainty in the minds of some of our leaders, and when there were contradictory views from within the intelligence communities, those got pushed under the carpet.

            I’m not making excuses, as you suggested above.  I’m talking about actual differences of opinion and doubts that existed within the intelligence community that the American public was not made aware of.  If you want to continue to make excuses for the previous administration and its shoddy handling of the intelligence and the questionable job that they did in honestly presenting the facts to the American public, then feel free to do so until you are blue in the face.  After all, I guess that the buck only stops with the President when he is a Democrat.

            The Congress did certainly take the votes that you cited, although I am not sure how fully informed they were of the doubts from within intelligence circles.  If they were not fully aware, then perhaps that knowledge would have changed some minds, but perhaps not.  If they were fully aware, then they should be condemned just as fully as the top Executive officials have and should be.

            I can pretty much agree with everything from the Obama quote.  I don’t think that you’ll find many people defending Saddam.  He was awful, but so have been numerous other dictators that we have not moved against.  Also, Obama was then a state senator, so it is likely that he only knew what was being reported in the media, and they didn’t exactly to a bang up job during that period of time.

            I would have been quite happy to have given the regime a last chance to come clean, but some certainly seemed determined to go to war well before that point no matter what the inspectors said or turned up, seemingly.

          • Gregg Smith

            The inspectors had virtually zero access after 1998 and the access they did have was a farce. That they didn’t physically leave until 2002 is meaningless. But if you agree with Obama’s statement then you know that.

            Yes you are making excuses. According to the votes the world approved, the Congress approved. There has NEVER in the history of the universe or politics been a time when there wasn’t a faction that disagreed. Remember Chamberlain?There are processes and debates all of which were undertook before the war.

            “Also, Obama was then a state senator, so it is likely that he only knew what was being reported in the media, and they didn’t exactly to a bang up job during that period of time.”

            C’mon man, if that’s not making excuses, what is? You have not even attempted to dispute there was nearly universal agreement, have you?

            And to be clear, I do not hate Democrats. There is no way in hell that I would base my opinion based on party. I don’t relate at all. I guess you are projecting your thoughts on me as you’ve proven over and over you dismiss views based on party, I don’t.

          • Ray in VT

            Everything else aside, please don’t tell me what I think or what I do.  I give credit where credit is due.  It’s not my fault that the GOP has decided to fill its ranks with religious nuts who deny science, with devotees of 19th century social and economic models, as well as red baiters who don’t realize that the Cold War ended 20 years ago.

            I just can’t abide any of that, and it just about seems that you need to have one of those traits to get on the GOP big stage these days.  Our Lt. Governor is a businessman and a Republican.  He seems to do a fine job, and I voted for him.  It’s just too bad that the national party has left so many like him behind, but maybe that’s what they had to do in order to solidify their base in order to become the NDP (New Dixiecrat Party) inside of the once proud GOP that was the party of Lincoln and of progress in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

      • hennorama

        Gregg Smith – given that others have refuted your post, I feel no need to pile on. 

        Perhaps I’m mellowed by a walk in the woods with my dog.  Certainly the aroma of irises has had the desired calming effect.

        • Gregg Smith

          I’m glad for your dog and nostrils, really I am. I love my dog but my Irises (or is it Iri) are barely out of the ground and a ways from blooming, you must be in the South. 

          No one refuted the pew poll showing Obama’s drop. No one refuted Muslim countries were more favorable of America in Bush’s last year than they are now. No one refuted the affection felt for Bush in Africa or commented on Geldof’s most excellent Time piece. No one refuted the Iraq war, according to Bush, was about far more than WMD or commented on his Sept. 2002 speech to the UN that proves it. No one refuted Clinton’s CIA director said it was a “slam dunk” and that one was an invitation of sorts. All of that was refuting your comment so my refutation has not been refuted. 

          Anamaria23 questioned my claim that the war was indeed funded but she did not refute it.
          However, I did chase a few unrelated post into the weeds concerning the Democrat WMD quotes and even taxes. This is typical and I’m a sucker for going there. So I really don’t know what you are referring to in my post above that has been refuted. It’s really quite amazing to me how fractured and distant from my comment the replies are. I got called an idiot and was told what I think but I’m used to it.

          It’s cool if you don’t choose to refute it, I really don’t want to argue I was just replying to parts of your opinion with some facts.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            I said you should try looking at the “universal consensus” on the threat from crumbling iraq with the same glasses you use to look at the scientific consensus on man-made global warming. Funny how you’re impressed with consensus  when it fits your preconception.

            I said saddam was unable to stop the kurds from declaring effective independence in the north of “his” own country. Might make you wonder if he was such a powerful dictator, if you were actually looking for evidence.

            BTW, there were no WMD.


          • Gregg Smith

            Clear it up for me, you are not refuting the fact there was near universal consensus, you are criticizing me for being impressed by it.  Right?

            Okay, leaving aside “scientific consensus” is an oxymoron, and hindsight is 20/20, turn it around. Why aren’t you as impressed with the consensus  of the threat from WMD as much as you are with the alleged consensus of scientist?

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – Fine, fine. You wish to engage further. Fine.

            You add yet another guess/assumption about me, writing “you must be in the South” presumably because I discussed “the aroma of irises”. This “conclusion” narrowed-mindedly excludes multiple possibilities that have nothing at all to do with geography – conservatories and other indoor growing locations, and various products containing “the aroma of irises”. Not that one is surprised by such “reasoning” on your part, of course.

            BTW, if your standard for refutation is that each and every statement in a post must be challenged, then let me point out that you personally repeatedly fail such a standard. Again, it would be unsurprising that you might be blind to such an assertion, and one predicts it will fall on blind eyes.

            Let’s address your points in order:

            1. “No one refuted the pew poll showing Obama’s drop. No one refuted Muslim countries were more favorable of America in Bush’s last year than they are now. No one refuted the affection felt for Bush in Africa or commented on Geldof’s most excellent Time piece.”

            This refers to your original post, apparently contradicting my sentence “U.S. prestige in the world has been so diminished that it will take many years to recover, if it ever does.”

            If you think “U.S. prestige in the world” is the same as opinions about individual US Presidents, or is limited somehow to “Muslim countries” or a particular continent, I’ll just quote your own words:

            “You are certainly entitled to your opinion but you are making assumptions.”

            2. “No one refuted the Iraq war, according to Bush, was about far more than WMD or commented on his Sept. 2002 speech to the UN that proves it.”

            “the Iraq war, according to Bush,” – is that the title of Bush’s upcoming novel? I must have missed the announcement. But I digress. Continuing on …

            Suuuure it was. And for sure the American people and the U.S. Congress would have gone along with a PREEMPTIVE war because of Saddam Hussein’s:

            “contempt for the United Nations …

            “repression of [his] own people …

            “grave violations of human rights …

            “arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape …

            “[failure to] return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands …

            “involvement with terrorism … ”

            Pres. Bush II forgot to mention “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad at one time.”


            Sure. Sure. Of course. All of that is what the Iraq war was about. Uh huh.

            Again, “You are certainly entitled to your opinion but you are making assumptions.”

            According to the official US DOD defense.gov website, on May 09, 2003, Iraq war architect Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said this during an interview with Sam Tannenhoff, a contributing editor for “Vanity Fair”:

            “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason” for the invasion of Iraq.

            Wolfowitz goes on to say “there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there’s a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.”

            “The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it’s not a reason to put American kids’ lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there’s the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we’ve arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his UN presentation.”

            In other words, WMD was the ONLY issue everyone could agree on, which means they didn’t agree on the others. This contradicts Pres. Bush II’s remarks as well as yours.

            See:http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=2594 (the words quoted are very near the end)

            3. “No one refuted there was near universal agreement of the threat … ”

            You missed some very important points in my original post. Again, not a surprise.

            I will repeat what I wrote, quote your initial reply, and point out what I did NOT write:

            I wrote “History will harshly judge the Bush/Chaney unprecedented policy of preemptive war against the invented strategic threat of supposed Iraqi WMD.”

            Note the terms “strategic threat” and “supposed Iraqi WMD”.

            Your initial reply included the following sentence, which not only truncated and resequenced my words, it also conflated my words. Again, not surprisingly:

            “At the time the “supposed” threat was nearly universally agreed upon. Clinton’s CIA director said it was a “slam dunk”.

            Please note that I quite purposely did not simply type “threat”, nor did I write ["supposed" threat].

            Sorry you were unable to comprehend my post, and instead focused only on the word “threat”, then quoted my words out of sequence. You might want to get checked for dyslexia, and to take a class in reading comprehension.

            A strategic threat is NOT a localized threat. Rather, it is a national security threat, or to use the Orwellian-sounding Bush/Cheney term, a “Homeland Security” threat. That is why I used the term, to distinguish it from localized threats. The word “supposed” was in reference to “Iraqi WMD”, which were indeed non-existent.

            Even if Iraq had WMD, they were only a localized threat and not a strategic threat to the US without a delivery system, which Iraq clearly did not have.

            Even if Iraq had both WMD (in the form of chemical and biological weapons, which is what was quote universally agreed end quote) AND a delivery system, AND somehow successfully delivered them inside the US, the effects of such attacks would be localized and would not be existential threats.

            The so-called ” near universal agreement” was about the existence of WMDs, not about any level of threat posed to the US if “WMDs” did indeed exist.

            “there was near universal agreement of the threat ” – Sure, sure.

            Except for those pesky people in various US intelligence agencies and elsewhere who questioned virtually every single item about “WMD”.

            And no doubt Sec. Powell was “in agreement of the threat”, when this happened:

            ” …Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff at the time, recalls the day Congress passed a resolution authorizing Bush to attack Iraq:

            “Powell walked into my office and without so much as a fare-thee-well, he walked over to the window and he said, “I wonder what’ll happen when we put 500,000 troops into Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and find nothing?” And he turned around and walked back in his office. And I—I wrote that down on my calendar—as close for—to verbatim as I could, because I thought that was a profound statement coming from the secretary of state, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.”


            And those pesky UN inspectors, who reported in January 2003 that they found no indication that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons or an active program. Even Scott Ritter, who had resigned as a UN weapons inspector in 1998, because he thought the inspection efforts weren’t sufficently vigorous, later said that the chemical and biological WMDs Saddam admitted having in his possession in the early and mid 1990s would have long since turned to harmless substances.

            4. “No one refuted Clinton’s CIA director said it was a “slam dunk”

            As to George Tenet’s “slam dunk” – that again was about the existence of WMDs and not the threat posed by such existence. Tenet subsequently resigned and later said his remark was taken out of context.

            5. “All of that was refuting your comment. My refutation has not been refuted and most of it wasn’t even commented on unless I missed it.”

            Again, if your standard for refutation is that each and every statement in a post must be challenged, then let me point out that you personally repeatedly fail such a standard.

            6. “Anamaria23 questioned my claim that the war was indeed funded but she did not refute it.”

            Fine. I’ll simply refer you to the following:




            FYI, it is nearly impossible to get an accurate accounting for the costs of the Iraq war, as noted by the CRS report (third link above). Quoting from that report:

            “CBO has also estimated total war funding, excluding some funds appropriated in supplementals that are not war-related. CRS and CBO estimates are generally close.

            “GAO has raised questions about whether DOD war cost reporting accurately captures the split between Afghanistan and Iraq, noting that the services have considerable difficulty in allocating funds between the two operations, and have tended to overstate the amounts attributable to Iraq “since it is viewed as the larger of the two operations … ”.

            “This is particularly the case with procurement funding which peaked in FY2008 at over $60 billion. Judging the overall accuracy of DOD-reported war obligations is problematic because other
            sources are not available.”

            So if you think you can show that the Iraq war WAS funded, please do so. Please include the costs during each fiscal year, and the corresponding appropriated funding.

            You wrote to another poster “There were no stand alone war funding bills but it was paid for.” Again, an unsurprising conflation of the terms “funded” and “paid for”.

            One also needs to point out, that I wrote “funded”. If you wish to switch to “paid for”, then one needs to define the term “paid for”.

            If by “paid for” one means “paid for from taxes collected”, then one only need look at the fact of Federal deficits each fiscal year since 2001, two years prior to the Iraq war.

            If you have some other definition, please enlighten the forum by posting it.

            7. Yes, yes, you bravely “did chase a few unrelated post [sic] into the weeds concerning the Democrat WMD quotes and even taxes.”

            Are you familiar with the term “humblebragging”? You might want to look it up.

            8. “I really don’t want to argue.” OK, sure, if you say so. Is this like “I don’t care what you think”?

            Thank you for inviting my response.

          • Gregg Smith

            Lighten up Henn, you said you were in the woods not indoors. Dogs are not generally allowed in conservatories. I don’t care where you live, it was just a comment. Why are you so defensive? And then you go on and make judgements on my reasoning, it’s just gratuitously nasty. 

            I wrote about America’s approval not individual Presidents approval. The topic is Iraq which is in the Middle East. You said history will judge Bush/Cheney harshly for Iraq. 

            You are amazing with your parsing. We went to war with the overwhelming support of Congress and the UN because Hussein was a threat. He was shooting at out planes weekly, he attempted to assassinate our President, he harbored terrorist, threatened us with WMD he had used in the past and on and on. It was a post 9/11 world.

            You used the word “unfunded” and my reply to you used the word “funded”. Focus. In other comments (again a distraction) by paid for I meant funded. NOTHING is paid for in the literal sense from Obamacare to Libya. That the war was unfunded is a talking point that you are parroting, you can’t back it up because it’s not true. The other commonly used term is “off the books” which is equally untrue. I’m not doing your homework assignment.

            So you were wrong when you wrote my points were refuted. You are wrong about the view of America in the world in general and the mideast in particular. You still can’t bring yourself to address Africa even though you are now trying to say you meant the world instead of the middle east. It’s bizarre.

            You really are quite condescending and nasty for no apparent reason. Try a little humility. I mean, you are the one who says I exhibit willful ignorance in the face of information and knowledge and define the face as you quoting the dictionary as if I don’t know the definition of gender. As if I’ve never looked it up. As if I was wrong. 

            And BTW, you wrote that I wished to engage you further which is untrue. I was pointing out your claim of others refuting my refutation of your comment was BS, that’s all. O well, at least you tried as the world gives up on Obama and you obsess on Bush. It’s really hard for me sometimes to remain so lovable.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – TY for your response. Apologies in advance for the length, but … well I’ve already described why lengthly replies to your posts are needed.

            My post in general was on the topic of your rather suspect “reasoning”. Using the simple example about what you wrote about where I “must be” was merely one example of your “reasoning” on an innocuous topic.

            Sorry you didn’t understand the first time (again). Repeating from a reply to you from 2 days ago: “By the way, this is not ‘nasty’ according to my lexicon. Rather, this is ‘not suffering fools gladly,’ despite St. Paul’s admonition.”

            Perhaps a memory enhancing supplement is in order.

            Again, as to your points, in order:

            1. “I [Gregg Smith] wrote about America’s approval not individual Presidents approval.”

            Uh huh. Except that’s not true, is it? Please allow me to quote you, sir:

            “Obama’s approval rating in the world is way down.”

            “In Africa Bush was loved and even idolized.”

            Please reconcile those three quotes, and then demonstrate how they align with your standard of “honest” debate. Assuming you have any actual standard, of course.

            2. “The topic is Iraq which is in the Middle East.”

            Uh huh. Please allow me to (again) repeat a portion of the post I wrote and that you responded to: “U.S. prestige in the world has been so diminished that it will take many years to recover, if it ever does.”

            Are you now claiming that you were:

            A) Not responding to that portion of my post?

            B) Responding to that portion of my post, but instead narrowing your response to what you describe as “”The topic is Iraq …”?

            Reminder: the title of the On Point segment was “The Price Of War” not “The Price Of War [in Iraq which is in the Middle East.]”

            3. “You said history will judge Bush/Cheney harshly for Iraq.”

            Again, that’s not true, is it? Close, but no cigar. I actually wrote

            “History will harshly judge the Bush/Chaney [sic] unprecedented policy of preemptive war against the invented strategic threat of supposed Iraqi WMD.”

            Reading comprehension (RC) is again an issue. There are many available online resources on the topic; you might want to take a look at a few.

            I neither said “history will judge Bush/Cheney harshly” nor did I say ” history will judge Bush/Cheney harshly for Iraq.”

            In an effort to promote mutual understanding, allow me to add emphasis – I wrote

            “History will harshly judge the Bush/Chaney [sic] UNPRECEDENTED POLICY OF PREEMPTIVE WAR against the invented strategic threat of supposed Iraqi WMD.”

            4. “You are amazing with your parsing.”

            Thank you. Words are important.

            5. “We went to war with the overwhelming support of Congress and the UN because Hussein was a threat. He was shooting at out planes weekly, he attempted to assassinate our President, he harbored terrorist, threatened us with WMD he had used in the past and on and on. It was a post 9/11 world. And that just scratches the surface. For you to write we went to war because of WMD is an extremely narrow and illogical view.”

            Again, unresponsive to the term “strategic threat”, unsurprisingly. At worst, Saddam was a regional threat.

            Also this is notably unresponsive to either Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s words stating “… we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason”, and the words about Secretary of State Colin Powell.

            This is also completely unresponsive to the fact that this was an optional PREEMPTIVE war, and as such it had to be “sold” to the American public. Without the case for WMD, public approval for a complete reversal of prior US military practice, and abandonment of American principles, was highly unlikely.

            That was Wolfowitz’s point. Repeating (again), he went on to say (EMPHASIS ADDED):

            “there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there’s a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.”

            “The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason TO HELP THE IRAQIS but IT’S NOT A REASON TO PUT AMERICAN KIDS’ LIVES AT RISK, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about LINKS TO TERRORISM IS THE ONE ABOUT WHICH THERE’S THE MOST DISAGREEMENT within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we’ve arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his UN presentation.”

            Prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq that began in March 2003, the United States had never engaged in a preemptive military attack, as traditionally defined, against another nation. We responded only AFTER having been attacked.

            Despite what you described as “a post 9/11 world” and despite all of the other factors previously stated, in late January 2003, a CBS/New York Times poll on the question “WHAT SHOULD THE U.S. DO NOW WITH IRAQ?” found 63% said they wanted the US to find a diplomatic solution, and 31% thought the US should use military force.

            See the poll results here:


            6. “You used the word “unfunded” and my reply to you used the word “funded”. Focus. In other comments (again a distraction) by paid for I meant funded. NOTHING is paid for in the literal sense from Obamacare to Libya. That the war was unfunded is a talking point that you are parroting, you can’t back it up because it’s not true.”

            OK, let me see if I understand your logic:

            you wrote “by paid for I meant funded”

            you then wrote “NOTHING is paid for in the literal sense …”

            then, following your logic, “NOTHING is [funded] in the literal sense”

            Interesting. I believe you just proved “the war was unfunded”.

            Clearly, we have different definitions, different logic, and different perspectives on this topic. It’s not an important point in my view, so let’s say you are right, and I am right. Let’s also say you are wrong, and I am wrong. If it’s important to you, focus on “let’s say you are right” and ignore everything else.

            Clearly you don’t like being challenged and being asked to provide information supporting your statements. You dismiss this as “homework”. No problem. My perspective is different, which is the reason I supply such information and links to such information, making it easy for the reader to view the info and decide for themselves. I don’t know how that fits into your “open and honest debate” idea, but it conforms to common standards.

            Perhaps you could delineate your standards of “open and honest debate”. I say this only due to the fact that you have repeatedly not done so despite multiple specific requests.

            7. “So you were wrong when you wrote my points were refuted.

            Please show where I wrote that your “points were refuted”. I’ll simply repeat what I ACTUALLY wrote –

            “Gregg Smith – given that others have refuted your POST, I feel no need to pile on.”

            Given your past remarks, it’s unsurprising that you cannot distinguish between words that have some letters in common.

            8. “You are wrong about the view of America in the world in general and the mideast in particular. You still can’t bring yourself to address Africa even though you are now trying to say you meant the world instead of the middle east. It’s bizarre.

            Allow me to (again) repeat what I wrote:

            “U.S. prestige in the world has been so diminished that it will take many years to recover, if it ever does.”

            Yes, I can see how you might think “[hennorama is] now trying to say you [hennorama] meant the world instead of the middle east.”

            Except for the minor detail that I wrote “the world” and not “the middle east.”

            Perhaps I should have included the definition of “the world”. I dunno. Again, RC is an issue.

            As to Africe, perhaps you also missed, scanned, skipped over, ignored, or couldn’t comprehend the reference to Africa implicit in my words here:

            “If you think “U.S. prestige in the world” is the same as opinions about individual US Presidents, or is limited somehow to “Muslim countries” or a particular continent, I’ll just quote your own words:”

            Please note the phrase “a particular continent”, which referred back to your mention of “Africa”.

            There’s that pesky RC thing again.

            9. “It’s bizarre.” Hey! You said a true thing! I agree.

            10. I’ll skip your “advice”. Bless your little heart for your concern.

            11. “And BTW, you wrote that I wished to engage you further which is untrue.”

            Allow me to quote you again, if I may be so bold:

            “ANYTIME you make a comment you are soliciting for a response. That’s the way it works.”


            Thank you for again inviting my response.

          • Gregg Smith

            Gee wiz. Okay this is nuts. I didn’t read all of that, just the beginning and end, this time I didn’t scan the middle. It’s like nailing jello to the wall. I’m busy, I’ll address the top, #1, #2 and #11. Maybe I’ll do more later.

            My post in general was on the topic of your rather suspect “reasoning”.

            Yea, you weren’t backing up your claims you were getting personal. And now it’s more of the same. It was reasonable to assume you were outdoors because you said you were in the woods with your dog. It’s silly to freak about my harmless comment that’s only intent was to imply lucky you because it’s snowing here. Just forget it, sorry if I offended you.

            #1) You are cherry picking, read the sentence directly following the one you quoted, look at the poll I linked, consider your references (plural) to Bush/Cheney and use your unmatched brilliance to distill it into what I was addressing. The Africa reference was not about approval ratings and polls, it was context. It was refuting your general theme that Bush damaged the reputation of America. A notion you still haven’t backed up despite the library of opinion you’ve written. 

            #2) Neither. I was following the same advice I just gave you. I was not cherry picking and your assumption expressed with certainty that I was responding to the one sentence is inaccurate. I was responding to the entire post. While were’ at it, ditto regarding the notion that I have some standard of refutation requiring every point be refuted. All I was asking for is you to refute one. You mentioned Iraq  or Iraqi 8 times in 7 paragraph. 9 if you count “Baghdad” which ain’t in China, Iraq was in your first sentence. The ONLY paragraph that didn’t mention Iraq was the one you are now quoting as the one I responded to. That’s disingenuous.  Please don’t insult my intelligence, your comment was clearly about Iraq.

            #11) More out of context cherry picking. Read what I was responding to. You accused me of butting in. You wrote a book about it. You were trying to dictate to me where I could comment as if it were your blog. Are you seriously trying to draw an equivalence between soliciting  for a response (from anyone without decreeing who is and isn’t welcome) and my wanting to engage you specifically? Really? I don’t even like you. Yes you can respond, I don’t make the rules but I tried to discourage it by writing: “It’s cool if you don’t choose to refute it, I really don’t want to argue.” How do you read that and conclude I wish to engage you further?

            This is silly as hell and i can’t believe I went even this far.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith –


            “cherry picking” HiLARious.

  • Don_B1

    Could Linda Bilmes provide a link to data on the history of veteran’s costs over time from their war participation? The dates of peak veteran costs was eye-opening to me.

    As for paying the costs, Ms. Bilmes’ approach of using the I.R.S. model sounds fine to me. Maybe the Tea/Republicans could be shamed into raising a tax on the false “job creators” with incomes over $1 million to pay for it.

    Also, there are a lot of teachers, policemen and construction workers that might like to work putting those paper records into electronic records, even if it took double the “normal” clerk-level pay scale.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    I love it Congressman, blame the entitled 47%.
    Snap out of it. This is a systemic problem and attitudes like yours will not solve the problems.

    • harverdphd

       I thought it was 99%

  • frank driscoll

    The fundamental problem is the American civilian population. It’s easy to say, “Thank you for your service” to a veteran, and then walk away, not thinking twice about what he or she has sacrificed for us. An outcry like exists on both sides of the tax issue is needed but if it does not effect immediately, we don’t really care.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      And another part of the problem is saying “thank you for your service” and falling for the lies that send the next generation into another war of choice.

    • hennorama

      frank driscoll – You wrote “The fundamental problem is the American civilian population [who] say, “Thank you for your service” to a veteran, and then walk away, not thinking twice about what he or she has sacrificed for us”.

      This apparent public disinterest has been intentionally and carefully orchestrated by both the government and a compliant media.  It is due to the voluntary nature of the US military service, mixed with the privatization/corporatization of warfare, and combined with the de facto censorship of media coverage of warfare.

      Our political and military leaders don’t want a repeat of the  uncensored media coverage of the Vietnam War, when the true awful nature of war was shown to the American public every evening on the 6 o’clock news.  This coverage hastened the end of the war, as public opinion turned against both the war and the government.  No current government is brave enough to risk their own demise via the media and public opinion, so media restrictions have been imposed.

      Not only was coverage of the fighting restricted, images of returning military casualties were completely prohibited. The reasons given were the privacy of the families, and the “sancity of the mission.”  This restriction was lifted in 2009, with families now being consulted as to whether they would consent to  media access.  Most families have said “Yes.”

      I know from personal experience that not all of “the American  civilian population” are disinterested in the issues and problems of American veterans.  Many donate their time, knowledge, expertise, and money helping veterans with a variety of financial, emotional, physical, mental, health-related, psychological, spiritual, and other issues.  We seldom see these volunteers in the media (unless they are celebrities), but they are indeed there, helping veterans every single day.

      • frank driscoll

        Thanks for the lecture but I read as well. I agree there are powerful interests pressuring the media to low profile US casualties. The same power-base was certain they had a winner in Romney. 
        When the ’99%’ was interested enough, it crushed the power mongers. A lot of us are involved, volunteering, etc. In the words of Martina Navratilova, “Regarding ham and eggs, the chicken is involved; the pig is committed.”  

        • hennorama

          frank driscoll – TY for your response.  I respect and appreciate your views.

          Apologies if you took offense, as none was intended.

          I do go on at times, perhaps more often and at greater length than is warranted.  Given that I had written “Thank you for your service” to more than one other poster, I felt a response was appropriate.

          Thank you again for your response.

  • SarahGordonofBuffalo

    My mother is a clinical psychologist who has worked at numerous VAs in Mississippi and Alabama. Currently she performs disability benefits determination evaluations for service-connected psychological and cognitive disabilities. Despite a backlog of thousands of appointments, veterans who have filed all of the appropriate paperwork, her schedule is not full on a day-to-day basis. Many days she sees less than half of the number of patients her schedule would allow. Many of these veterans, while they may be receiving treatment, are not employed due to their service-connected psychological/cognitive disorders, and are sinking further into financial distress without those benefits. Further, because my mother is paid on a per-case basis, she sometimes struggles to make ends meet without a full schedule of appointments. There are clerks whose job it is to schedule these appointments, and I do not think they work as hard as they can to schedule these appointments. They have no incentive to do so in terms of pay or professional advancement.

  • hennorama

    This fool Rep. Jeff Miller, blaming VA employees “who feel they are entitled to a job” is like the fools who blame teachers and others for the economic difficulties of some state governments.

    “If I hear the Secretary saying one more time …”  Shut up and do YOUR job, Congressman, then go back to your echo chamber.

    • Ray in VT

      Got ya pretty riled up, huh?  I missed that bit of the show just now.

      • hennorama

        I seldom “Listen Live” for this very reason.  Time to take the dog for a walk, and to smell the irises.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Wow, what scum. Wind him up and out comes civil servant bashing and “entitlement” language, regardless of the actual topic.

      • Gregg Smith

        I’ll be listening at 7PM and have a feeling I’ll like this guy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshtcohen Josh Cohen

    I was recently admitted in to the VA medical system in Vermont  and have a medical claim now for about 8 months to be a while, expect it. The American Legion assists vets with the process although not everyone knows this.  I have to give my compliments to the VA medical system in Vermont, especially the outpatient clinic in Colchester, which just happens to be next to VPR at Ft. Ethan Allan.

    • hennorama

      Thank you for your service, and sorry for your medical issues.  Best wishes.

  • bethrjacobs

    Diseases vs. traitsSee also: List of congenital disorders
    While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology there is at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences. On the other hand, genetic diseases like haemochromatosis can increase susceptibility to illness, cause physical deformities, and other dysfunctions, which provides some incentive for people to re-consider some elements of eugenics.


    • hennorama

      bethrjacobs – psssstt …. wrong forum.

      [Click here]—->  http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/03/27/genius-babies#disqus_thread

      • bethrjacobs

        saw that couldn’t remove

  • bethrjacobs

    idiot my mother’s IQ is 165 mine about 120 same for my sister

  • bethrjacobs

    defund science now if this is where it is going

  • bethrjacobs

    Heterozygous recessive traitsIn some instances efforts to eradicate certain single-gene mutations would be nearly impossible. In the event the condition in question was a heterozygous recessive trait, the problem is that by eliminating the visible unwanted trait, there still may be many carriers for the genes without, or with fewer, phenotypic effects due to that gene. With genetic testing it may be possible to detect all of the heterozygous recessive traits, but quite possibly at great cost with current technology. Under normal circumstances it is only possible to eliminate a dominant allele from the gene pool. Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, one, from certain perspectives, may argue that the practicallity of “eliminating” traits is quite low.[citation needed]
    There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[39]


  • bethrjacobs

    better to take the money away from this idiocy and take care of every one then there will not be an issue

  • debhulbh


  • 1Brett1

    The $500 million electronic system for processing claims/benefits has only received scant implementation (and I believe it’s been around for a couple of years); and, of the few places where it has been implemented, users of the system say it is very glitchy; they also say the software frequently shows incorrect and incomplete data, even information for one vet showing up in another vet’s file in some instances, etc….essentially, that the system doesn’t work, has many bugs, and hasn’t even been implemented in most places, and no real effort is being put into ironing out those problems…$500 MILLION!!!

    • hennorama

      1Brett1 – This seems typical of the difficulties in implementing new information systems in Federal bureaucracies.  Isn’t the IRS still working on their systems?

      Government systems are always behind the curve, since great new ideas need to first be studied, dissected, written into law, appropriations made, rules written, etc. The process makes for slow change. Witness the laughable efforts to “modernize” information systems everywhere but at the Dept. of Homeland Security.

      C-Span recently aired a show on Federal Government Modernization. Several panelists discussed the issue of legacy systems, and the difficulty in consolidating systems due to the ongoing funding of those that are long out of date.

      “The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation hosted a forum on the E-Government Act, intended to improve government productivity, services, and public access through use of information technology systems and the Web. Panelists in the first session talked about successes and challenges of the act ten years after its passage. Participants in the second discussion focused on upcoming decade and ways the government might continue to modernize.”


      • 1Brett1

        Thanks, henn.

        • hennorama

          1B1 – YW, as always.  Although truly it was nearly the least I could do ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Rick.Wicks Rick Wicks

    Don’t buy the nonsense that “we don’t have the money to pay for it.” The government CREATES money, that’s where money comes from — so the government CANNOT be short of money. We have unused resources — millions of people unemployed — so what we’re lacking is the political will to mobilize those resources. If we were attacked (like Pearl Harbor), we wouldn’t say, where are we going to get the money from? We would DRAFT manpower. And we can do that now — we just need to appropriate the money to pay for it, it’s the same thing. As long as we have so many unemployed (and other unused resources), there is NO risk of inflation escalating (or interest rates skyrocketing or any of the other typical scare stories).

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      seems like the govt wastes more money than it creates. if it can make money then we dont need to be taxed right?

  • cover101

    Here’s my solution to the problems at the VA. All those smart, talented, and wealthy individuals who’ve never served in the all-volunteer army or who got deferments during Vietnam will  volunteer their money, time, and skills in a joint effort to fix this situation asap. 

    These ranks include lawyers, CEOs, CFOs, business turnaround experts and plenty of Congress people and their children. Those individuals who didn’t step up to put their lives on the line owe this service to their peers who did. 

    • harverdphd

       and so original, too.

    • G Wills

      No worries cover101 they (evil CFO’s, Bill Clinton etc). and us will all feel the same pain once the largest most bloated federal agency ever created gets control of our health care. It probably won’t be run anything like the VA.(wee bit of sarcasm there)
      Stay healthy.  :)

  • jefe68

    Funny how you start out with an attempt to be non-partisan and then a paragraph later the true agenda comes out. That you are against the ACA.

    So lets get this straight, what you are saying is that the ACA is going to use a decades old EMR system moving forward to deal with medical records. Unless you have proof of this, I can’t see why anyone would use old software and computers for a new system. That does not make any sense. The other thing, claiming for disability is not the same as needing health care. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i dont know about the EMR system but i know you cannot really ever be surprised if the govt does something that does not make any sense

  • marygrav

    It’s funny how Rep. Miller is crying his crocodile

    tears about those injured in wars that he himself, if he was with Bush, would have voted for.  Remember the Republican Mantra: Cakewalk.

    The Cakewalk was an inside Black joke.  It was Black people imitating White people, imitating Black people dancing.  So that it is an inside–inside–joke.

    Saying, “Thank you for your service,” to veterans burns me up.  No thanks is needed; just decent treatment when they return home injured.

    There is a backlog in the VA because the Republicans, i.e. the T-Party came to D.C. to shrink government.  This means lay-offs.  So many government workers were laid off until it will take years to replace them.  If you have ever worked as a clerk for the US government, you know that most time supervisors are incompetent because they take their orders and suggestions, not from the clerks who do the actual work, but from some expert in headquarters.  I worked for the SS at one time.  Things deteriorated so bad at MATPSC until they had to move the Supervisors Desks away from the windows.

    Going Postal has its causes.  Getting one person to do four or five persons’ work will drive a worker over the edge.

    Don’t forget the first duty of those severing in the House of Representatives is to shrink government so that it can be drowned in a bathtub.  When it goes, what happens to US the sane?


    • Mike_Card

      Plus pledging allegiance to Grover.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        I was going to say “How do we know he pledged?”, but I missed some of the show.

        Come to think of it, why isn’t our mainstream press treating every Republican and Teanut as having pledged to Grover until the pol proves otherwise?

    • G Wills

       The VA (like ALL huge federal agencies) has NEVER been efficient. You mentioned in your own comment how ineffective they can be. If that was a private company you mentioned above the super would have been fired. But at the federal level he likely gets a promotion or transfer. Less giant wasteful ineffective federal programs is the answer, not more.
      This program is a great illustration of whats coming for the rest of us. I can hardly wait to be tossed into the giant federal program called Health-care. maybe that will finally be the federal program that runs well. NOT
      Stay Healthy  :)

  • harverdphd

     I love you, Ray..keep splitting hairs till no one cares

    • Ray in VT

      Right back at you.  Keep up your work.  It’s oh so original.  Probably the best thing that I can say is that although I’ve never found you to have much of anything to say, at least you don’t say it in very few words.

  • Wotan

    I’ve listened 10 minutes and I WANT TO BREAK SOMETHING!

    Futo, where are you?

  • joanyow1

    The problem with the backlog is any time a big organization goes from paper to electronic records it takes more time than staying with paper and hiring more processors.  I’ve been involved with this in the private sector and in the public sector.  The changeover just takes much more time and money than the computer salesmen lead the buyers to expect.  I don’t think the computers are ready for prime-time and create more problems than they solve.  My neighbor who has set up these systems said that when the set up is done it is very time consuming at first while the bugs are worked out but is eventually worked out.  I’ve had to work with my private insurance company who is trying to automate and all I get is mistake, mistake, mistake.  It’s a computer problem and will get better if the company that’s putting it in is competent.     

    • G Wills

       The problem will never be solved, the problem is that; gigantic federal programs cannot be run effectively. None of them are, and none of them have been in the past.
      And lucky us, we’ve just created another huge federal program to provide the rest of us the same level of care.
      Stay Healthy  :)

  • cpuckett

    Tom: This is not a new problem. My father, deceased from leukemia, was a (so-called) nuclear vet. He flew planes through the Nevada Proving Grounds. Later, he worked as a nuclear physicist for the Navy in California, and everyday, he and his colleagues would leave for work wearing an ID tag with a circle that would turn some color if they had been exposed to too much radiation. We called the Livermore Radiation Lab the “Rad Lab.” My father died, of leukemia, when I was 25, some 32 years ago. He left six children behind. There was nothing for my mother, and no acknowledgment, even now, for the many years my father and others did not live and be a part of our families. We miss him. We, his children, are outraged, that nothing was ever done for him and my mother, a widow who now lives in a trailer.  

    • hennorama

      Sorry for your loss.

      That is indeed an unfortunate outcome for your father, and an outrageous and shameful outcome for you and your entire family.  Those involved in such important work for our country were brave enough to know the risks yet still go to work day in and day out.

      Probably your father didn’t consider himself to be brave at all, and instead thought he was just “doing my job.”

      One hopes you and your family can be proud of your father while at the same time being outraged.

      Sorry again for you loss.  Best wishes.

  • sfsusu

    To fix the problem, how about if we make the VA be the delivery system for medical treatment for members of Congress and their families when they retire? Then these people would have to line up with the returning veterans and experience the situation described on your show tonight. I guarantee THAT would fix the problem pronto. 

  • Wotan

    I despair because from what I heard today, the decay runs so deep and is so insidious that we cannot do anything about this for the time being. Is this right? We just have to endure and watch vets denied or receive shoddy benefits until the VA finally gets its acts together? Truly this is maddening, and what I cannot begin to understand is why, despite Social Security being able to file, process and disseminate benefits to some 50 million Americans including survivors and those on disability, we cannot do this for those who’ve volunteered to do our country’s bidding. Why wasn’t this computer system up and running a decade ago when the Pentagon had been on a spending binge buying new toys, even modernized nukes, while neglecting the needs of the people in uniform.

    Is there anything we can do as citizens instead of just watching?

    Outrage and disbelief doesn’t begin to cut it.

    • G Wills

      the efficacy of the disability is on display in another NPR story titled “unfit for work”. (link provided below )
      Huge federal agencies cannot serve people effectively, that’s like asking Java the hut to stand up.

      • Ray in VT

        Actually it’s Jabba, not Java.

      • Wotan

        Actually, I read that piece when it was first featured on NPR over the weekend. But thanks for reminding me of it.

        And I’ve lived in other countries and have steady stream of people who I come into contact with that are sent to the US by their companies to work or to study. I know well the problem with our bloated bureaucracy and inefficiencies, not just in our government, but also in our private industries. 

        But what we heard here goes well beyond any nightmare. Personnel files that are measured in inches and feet rather than pages? This is Kafka stuff.

        Lastly, while I understand your concern for the future of Social Security, we may look to it as a model of it getting their checks into people’s hand on a timely and consistent basis. That apparently is the crux of the problem facing the vets more than anything else related to veterans’ benefits.

  • G Wills

     Devastating story about the inefficient methods of the VA, I’ve heard the IRS called many things in my 50+ years, but a model of efficacy is not something that applies. Your guest (though well intentioned) should look towards a profitable/efficient hospital or private insurer as a model to strive towards, NOT the IRS.
    If the VA has this much trouble with a few million returning Veterans, I wonder how the federal government will do with the 30 million “new insured” under the Health care act. I wonder how efficient they might be with 360 million “clients”
    Federal Agencies are many things but efficient is not one them.
    I would ask your listeners to point out just one well run efficient federal agency.
    One agency that isn’t rife with waste, massive amounts of paperwork,corruption, and a bloated way of doing things.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1424126115 Tom Aggeles

      Spot on…The VA will have to outsource and privatize everything from the mountains of paperwork, to the long-term and chronic care needs for these vets who simply wanted to do the right thing for God and Country. This is an outrage. 

  • G Wills

    The VA cannot fix itself no more than any federal agency, by their very nature they are bloated and ineffective.
    I can’t wait until the rest of us are forced into a similar health care system, stay healthy my friend.

    • anamaria23

      It does not seem to be the health care by the VA that is so dysfunctional, but quite good,as attested to by some callers and comments and my observation of the care of veterans I know, but the dysfunction of  the process of honoring disability claims.

      • G Wills

         watch NPR’s story call “unfit for work” it illustrates very well the way giant federal programs work, or more accuratly, how they don’t work

        • Gregg Smith

          I heard that and posted it on another board. It was amazing how fast otherwise some devoted NPR listeners turned on them. It was a good show.

  • G Wills

     you are so right on this point. 15,000 pages of regulations just for starters. Take you favorite 40 Novels and stack them on the kitchen table, thats 15,000 pages. Sound efficient, effective, and streamlined to me.
    Stay healthy, thats your ONLY hope
    Like you said we are ALL in for this same treatment.

  • G Wills

    Here’s an exercise for you.
    This spring as you pass some Dept. of Trans construction workers hard at work doing whatever, count how many men are idle, doing nothing, leaning on their shovels. It’s the same way in every state I’ve ever lived in.
     Next, drive by a parking lot at the mall being worked on, you will rarely see an idle worker. When you pass any work try this, then look at the name on the trucks.
    The difference? One is a huge govt. run agency (like the VA), the other a privately owned for profit business.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      whats yellow had 4 wheels and sleeps 6? a DOT truck

  • http://twitter.com/star_guide Javed

    The cost of war.  http://bit.ly/10XaOzF

Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

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