A Follow Up and a Recommendation

There’s more about the blogger who videoed Sen. Thad Cochran’s wife at TPM. As Josh Marshall said,

I think you’ll actually end up feeling sorry for the guy – a seemingly otherwise decent enough guy with a family nevertheless encased in a polycarbonate bubble of derp and fanaticism where the all crazy about the progressive Kristallnacht and the KKK Democrats comes to settle.

The guy could end up doing serious jail time over what was really poor judgment more than anything else. “Polycarbonate bubble of derp” pretty much says it.

Three other men connected to the McDaniel campaign have been arrested on charges relating to nursing home-gate. Josh Marshall continues,

Now, it’s hard to figure how anyone wouldn’t realize that invading the privacy and dignity of this woman wouldn’t backfire in an explosive way or that it constituted one or more serious felonies. But remember, we’re pretty deep in the Tea Party derp bubble here which involves what can only be called a proctological route to self-awareness which ends in confusion and can be irreversible. But if you’d really bought into this attack on Cochran and thought it would resonate with people you can see at least the bare outlines of how you could convince yourself that this visual would land the fatal blow to his credibility and campaign.


Ta-Nehisi Coates won the Internet today with his long article, “The Case for Reparations.” I’m only part-way through, but it is gripping.

What Happened to the VA

Now the Right is trying to pump problems in VA medical care into an Obama scandal. For background into who and what are really to blame, I recommend a couple of articles:

Alec MacGillis, Republicans War-Monger, Then Complain When We’re Overwhelmed By Sick Vets

For starters, there is the matter of funding. If there’s been one side pushing for greater resources for the Veterans Administration in the age of austerity these past five years, it hasn’t been the Republicans. It was the much-maligned economic stimulus package of 2009 that included $1 billion for the V.A. While the V.A. itself was protected from the budget sequestration that Republican fought to keep in place last year, many other veterans programs—providing mental health services and housing, among other things—were hit hard by the sequestration cuts. And when the Senate was poised to pass a $24 billion bill for federal healthcare an education programs for veterans three months ago, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, blocked it in a filibuster, saying the bill would bust the budget and complaining that Senate Democrats had refused to allow an amendment on Iran sanctions to be attached to the bill.

But there is a whole other level of context to consider here as well. There is a pretty basic reason for backlogs at V.A. facilities and in the disability claims process, the other ongoing V.A. mess. Put simply: when you go to war, you get more wounded veterans, and in a country without a universal health care system, they are all funneled into this one agency with limited capacity. Every one of the Republican leaders quoted above attacking Obama for the V.A. backlogs strongly supported launching the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that resulted in nearly 7,000 fatalities and a huge surge in medical needs and disability claims. …

… Something, it appears, happened around 2003 that caused the rate of traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. military to spike. Now what could that have been? Whatever it was, it happened while Barack Obama was in the Illinois state Senate, giving an obscure speech against invading Iraq.

The other article is by Jordain Carney and Stacy Kaper, Who Really Broke Veterans Affairs?. It all boils down to several administrations, from the current one going back to John Kennedy and every administration in between, Democratic and Republican, that in one way or another either added to the VA’s burdens or made policies that made it harder for the VA to function. This is a bipartisan malfunction.

And then there is Congress:

The VA could be overhauled to better address the needs of modern veterans, including reforms to the way it processes claims, assesses the performance of its employees, and measures its overall performance. But putting many of those reforms in place would require an act of Congress—and thus far those haven’t happened.

Instead, Congress has taken a more reactive approach. When incidents—such as the recent hospital deaths—capture public attention, lawmakers hold hearings where they berate VA officials with juicy sound bites they can later play back for their constituents. It’s good political theater, but it’s unclear that the payoff is anything other than political.

So, blame where blame is due.