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Tags: Veterans

Veterans Day Blast From the Past: Intelligence Report On Nazi Slave Labor



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My friend Cosmo Wenman posts a really fascinating Veterans Day document on his Facebook page: a report written by his grandfather in November 1944, detailing his debriefings of Russian slave laborers recently liberated from Nazi work camps around western Europe.

It’s a fascinating look at how Russian internees were being treated (which jibes with my general impression, formed from sources as impeccable as Slaughterhouse Five and Hogan’s Heroes, that Russians in the hands of the Third Reich suffered in ways that even other prisoners found shocking) and also a great snapshot of how a U.S. junior officer understood the mood within Germany just a few weeks before the ever-resourceful Nazis sprang the Battle of the Bulge on the Western Allies.

Wenman describes the report:

My Grandfather, Boris Krass, was born in Russia, and while still very young spent 5 or 6 years years as a refugee in Germany with other White Russian families before coming to the US.

Fluent in Russian and German, he was an intelligence officer for the US Army during WWII. In 1944, he interrogated hundreds of Russian forced-labor prisoners that the Allies had liberated from the Nazis.

This is a report he made to the Army and OSS about their situation . . . 

Highlights:

“Bombings and black markets afford the only source of extra food.”

“If an Osterbeiter is . . . caught walking with a German girl, he is hanged the next day.”

“By far the great majority of Russians have nothing but hate for the Nazis”

“Incidents of sabotage, killing, plots, and secret organizations have been cited to this interrogator.”

“Several Ost workers have reported that they had been carefully approached by Germans, self-styled Anti-Nazis, who have invited them to listen to Allied broadcasts in the secrecy of their homes.”

The internet has estupidated me to the point that I can barely read a one-page press release through to the end anymore. But I read this eight-page report through without pausing to take a breath. I even applaud the penned-in corrections Krass apparently made. (Always change “amongst” to “among.” Always.) Full report here.

Tags: Veterans , World War II

Who’s Saying Veterans Can’t Trust the Obama Administration?



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You almost have to admire the opportunism of Senator Kay Hagan as she suddenly turns into a full-throated critic of the Obama administration, months from Election Day: 

Ahead of President Obama’s speech Tuesday before the American Legion, a vulnerable senator in his own party voiced skepticism about the commander in chief’s commitment to veterans. Sen. Kay Hagan, who is locked in a tight re-election race against Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina, said in a statement that the Obama administration “has not yet done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans and implement real and permanent reforms at the VA.”

The American Legion is holding its convention in Charlotte this week; Obama is scheduled to speak there tomorrow. Hagan is scheduled to attend the event.

The CQ/Roll Call study found that Senator Hagan voted with the Obama administration’s position 96 percent of the time

Senator Kay Hagan, left, with an unidentified supporter.

UPDATE: Here’s Kay Hagan back in 2008, talking about how she’s heard first-hand about how veterans are having difficulty getting care at VA hospitals, and how, “we really need to honor them for their service and make it a seamless transition from the time they get out to when they get their care. And that’s one of the things that we’ve got to correct.”

How’s she doing on that, huh? 

Tags: Kay Hagan , Veterans , North Carolina

IG Report: Veterans Administration Undersecretary Too Cozy with Contractor



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Not that the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have enough problems, but a new report from the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General found favoritism, preferential treatment, and unnecessary spending by the VA’s recently-retired undersecretary for memorial affairs.

Steve Muro, the undersecretary who managed the National Cemetery Administration,  just happened to retire one month before the IG report was completed and released. That report offers an unflattering portrait of some of his decisions:

We concluded that Mr. Steve Muro, former (retired) Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, NCA, VACO, engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when he created a position within NCA and preselected an employee, who was also a friend, for that position. Over a 3-year period of time, the employee planned to retire several times, but when retention incentives and quality step increases (QSI) no longer enticed him to remain, Mr. Muro created a promotional opportunity which raised the employee’s salary by approximately $10,000 annually, thereby increasing the employee’s retirement annuity by about $400 each month.

We further found that Mr. Muro engaged in preferential treatment of an NCA contractor, Ms. Patricia Noonan, President of Noonan & Associates, when he developed a less-than­ arm’s-length relationship with her; when he continued to communicate with her via email and telephone after being given guidance to cease those communications; misused his title when he gave her an unfair competitive advantage by providing her a letter of recommendation, which she used to procure additional NCA contracts; and when he improperly supported her in her efforts to obtain additional VA contracts.

(Note: Patricia Noonan should not be mistaken for Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.)

Telephone records reflected that between October 26, 2012, and October 18, 2013, Mr. Muro and Ms. Noonan exchanged over 1,200 telephone calls and that he called her about twice as many times as she called him. This included calls during business hours as well as between 6:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m., weekends, and holidays. Mr. Muro told us that some of these calls were personal in nature but that a lot of them were business-related. He said that they talked whenever he had the opportunity, which included evenings and weekends…

VA financial records reflected that NCA paid Ms. Noonan $374,167 for services rendered to NCA between February 3, 2010, and September 28, 2013, for 90 different transactions.

Noonan & Associates officially protested its exclusion from subsequent Department of Veterans Affairs contracts; after a review the General Accounting Office found that the VA “reasonably concluded that the protester had an organizational conflict of interest.”

President Obama nominated Muro for his undersecretary position in 2011 and he was confirmed. In 2008, Muro was selected by President George W. Bush to receive a Presidential Meritorious Rank Award, recognizing “exceptional leadership, accomplishments and service over an extended period of time.”

Tags: Veterans , VA

White House Wants ‘Transparency’ Credit for Releasing VA Wait Lists Audit



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President Obama deserves credit for the fact that his administration is no longer hiding the extent to which the Veterans Affairs Department hid the fact that 57,000 veterans are waiting for health care, according to his spokesman.

“The first thing I want to point out [is] that the release of today’s data is an indication of the  president’s commitment to trying to be transparent about this process,” White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday. The audit he was referring to showed that 57,000 veterans are waiting for treatment and that ”13 percent of VA schedulers reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter,” per the Associated Press

Earnest said that the report would allow the public to evaluate the reforms needed to fix the VA. “We have removed the 14-day scheduling goal that has led to some of the unintended consequences that you’ve cited, the creation of these alternate lists and these other things that the VA is working through right now,” he said. Earnest was referring to the secret wait lists created by VA staff in order to hide the fact that they were failing to provide an appointment to new patients within 14 days of an initial request.

“Before leaving office, [resigning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki] directed that wait times should no longer be part of hospital directors’ performance reviews and canceled the attached bonuses,” the Hampton Roads Daily Press noted.

Tags: Veterans Affairs , Veterans , President Obama

Michelle Obama Tries to Tamp Down Anger about Bergdahl and VA Scandal



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Maybe First Lady Michelle Obama will succeed where others have failed in rehabilitating President Obama’s record regarding the Veterans Affairs Department and the decision to release five members of the Taliban to rescue a man many vets think is a deserter.

Less than a week after VA secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the department’s recent scandals, Mrs. Obama held an event touting efforts by the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fight homelessness among veterans.

“Almost 90 percent of today’s homeless veterans served before 9/11, but this is the first time anyone has made this a government-wide priority,” she said Wednesday. “We’ve got HUD and the VA and the Interagency Council leading the way, and we’re also working with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and nonprofits and community leaders on the ground. We’ve cut through red tape and streamlined efforts across agencies, and together, we have made some extraordinary progress.”

Toward the end of her remarks, the first lady seemed, intentionally or not, to tie the homelessness issue to the Bergdahl exchange.

“So just like it’s our country’s duty to bring back all of our men and women from the battlefield, we’ve also got a duty to make sure that every single veteran has a place to call home when they get here – and for the rest of their lives,” Mrs. Obama said.

Her comments echo President Obama’s remarks in announcing the exchange, which he said was “a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”

Soldiers who served with Bergdahl don’t think the principle works quite like that. “It’s great that he’s back and that we can have that very small victory, if you can even call it a victory, because I believe . . . we gave up a lot for what we got back,” former Army sergeant Evan Buetow, Bergdahl’s team leader when he disappeared, told CNN.

Tags: Bowe Bergdahl , Michelle Obama , Veterans Affairs , Veterans

Recalling Obama’s Dedication to Veterans Back in His Senate Days



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President Obama, yesterday:

I served on the Veterans Affairs Committee when I was in the Senate, and it was one of the proudest pieces of business that I did in the legislature.

An inconvenient truth:

Obama skipped 19 of 37 VA committee meetings in the 109th congress. Obama’s attendance record was the second worst of all Democrats on the committee. He attended just 18 of the committee’s 37 meetings in Washington D.C.

The 109th Congress was from January 2005 to January 2007, and did not overlap with Obama’s presidential campaign, which began in January 2007.

Obama’s VA committee-attendance figure comes from the noted right-wing site, Daily Kos.

We can also see that old habits die hard for this president:

But when asked if he knew, as a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, about the problems at Walter Reed Hospital before the story was published in the Washington Post, Obama admitted he didn’t.

(Chicago Sun-Times, June 4, 2007.)

Tags: Barack Obama , Veterans

Obama’s May: Silent on VA Scandal; Speaks on Tourism, Leaky Pipes, Uruguay, Walmart Light Bulbs



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News coverage of the scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs broke a month ago — April 23. In the past month, President Obama has spoken publicly about the VA scandal once, a three-paragraph answer at a joint press conference with the president of the Philippines on April 28.

(The most recent story is not the first on serious problems at the VA; the Washington Examiner did spectacular reporting on VA backlogs, complicated bureaucracy, and allegations of cooking the books in its series, “Making America’s Heroes Wait” in February 2013.)

Since the story broke, Obama has spoken at great length on many other topics, some prominent and important, some not so much.

May 3, during the president’s weekly address: “In my State of the Union Address, I said that in this Year of Action, whenever I can act on my own to create jobs and expand opportunity for more Americans, I will.”

May 5, in a joint appearance with President Guelleh of Djibouti: “I had an opportunity to visit Djibouti when I was a senator, before I was elected president, and saw firsthand the importance of U.S. cooperation with Djibouti.”

May 5, appearing at a White House Cinco de Mayo party: “Today, on Cinco de Mayo, we celebrate our shared heritage, our shared history, our shared future. That’s not something to be afraid of — that’s something that we need to embrace. That’s what I’m going to be doing, not just today, but every day, to keep fighting for opportunity for all people and greater understanding between all nations.”

May 7, appearing at a DCCC fundraiser: “We believe in making sure that we’re investing in our infrastructure and putting people back to work, and investing in innovation and basic research that can unlock cures for things like Alzheimer’s; their budget takes us in the opposite direction. We believe in early childhood education to make sure that opportunity for all actually means something, that it’s not just a slogan; they say, no.”

May 8, appearing at a DCCC fundraiser: “In order for us to not simply play defense but actually go back on the offensive on behalf of the American people, on behalf of striving families all across this country, including right here in California, we’ve got to have folks like Nancy Pelosi guiding the debate.”

May 8, appearing at a DNC fundraiser: “[The Republicans] said no to increasing the minimum wage. They’ve said no to helping kids afford college. They even shut down the government and almost created another global financial catastrophe because they wanted to get their way.”

May 9, appearing at a Walmart: “I want to thank the folks at Walmart. And I know this looks like a typical Walmart, but it is different — and that’s why I’m here. A few years ago, you decided to put solar panels on the roof of the store. You replaced some traditional light bulbs with LEDs. You made refrigerator cases more efficient. And you even put in a charging station for electric vehicles. And all told, those upgrades created dozens of construction jobs and helped this store save money on its energy bills.”

May 12, in a joint appearance with Uruguayan president Mujica: “The United States and Uruguay has [sic] developed a strong relationship across a wide spectrum of issues. Our trade and commerce has expanded significantly. On the international front, we are very grateful that Uruguay is one of the largest contributors to U.N. peacekeeping in places like Haiti and Africa, and has been responsible for helping to facilitate peace in some very volatile regions.”

May 13, discussing immigration reform: “It’s estimated that over 80 percent of the folks who are here on an undocumented basis have been here 10 years or longer. These are folks who are woven into the fabrics of our communities. Their kids are going to school with our kids. Most of them are not making trouble; most of them are not causing crimes. And yet, we put them in this tenuous position and it creates a situation in which your personnel, who have got to go after gang-bangers and need to be going after violent criminals and deal with the whole range of challenges, and who have to cooperate with DHS around our counterterrorism activities — you’ve got to spend time dealing with somebody who is not causing any other trouble other than the fact that they were trying to make a living for their families. That’s just not a good use of our resources. It’s not smart. It doesn’t make sense.”

May 14 in New York City: “We can build better — and we have to. We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the next generation of cargo ships. We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. (Laughter.) We’ve got leaky pipes that lose billions of gallons of drinking water every single day, even as we’ve got a severe drought in much of the West. Nearly half our people don’t have access to transit at all. And I don’t have to tell you what some of our airports look like.”

May 14, at a DSCC fundraiser: “I was with de Blasio I guess two days before the election. We’re in Brooklyn; the streets are filled and everybody is waving. And I go into buy some cheesecake — some woman comes up and hugs me and kisses me and says, Oh, my sister just got on the Affordable Care Act and we love you. What can we do to support you? And I said, move to North Dakota. (Laughter.) If I could just get about a million excess votes in Brooklyn — (laughter) — out to Nebraska, Wyoming, we’d be doing okay. I don’t need 80 percent of the vote here. (Laughter.)”

May 16, speaking to reporters while eating lunch with Joe Biden: “Let me say something to these folks real quick so we can eat our burgers in peace. And excuse me, my voice is a little hoarse — I had a cold at the beginning of the week. In addition to coming to Shake Shack — which has great burgers and pays its employees over 10 bucks an hour, so we’re very proud of them and the great work that they’re doing — we’ve been talking a lot all across the country about the importance of raising the minimum wage.”

May 17, during his weekly address: “On Thursday, I’ll be heading to Cooperstown, New York — home of the Baseball Hall of Fame — to talk about tourism.”

May 19, at a DCCC fundraiser: “The debate we’re having right now is about, what, Benghazi? Obamacare? And it becomes this endless loop. It’s not serious. It’s not speaking to the real concerns that people have.”

May 20, meeting with business leaders: “SelectUSA turned out to be an enormously successful process where we’re coordinating between agencies as well as other stakeholders.”

Today the president’s schedule includes an ambassador credentialing ceremony, a ceremony with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, and designation of the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument at the Department of Interior.

He is still scheduled to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday.

UPDATE: At 9:30 a.m., the White House announced the president would be making a statement at 10:45, expected to be about the VA scandal.

Tags: Barack Obama , Veterans , VA

Obama’s Fake Outrage, Fake Tirelessness, Fake Pay Cut . . .



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Tuesday’s ;Morning Jolt:

Obama’s Fake Outrage, Fake Tirelessness, Fake Pay Cut . . . 

The Obama administration is dangerously depleting our nation’s reserves of speechwriting clichés.

For example, when some terrible mess blows up on the president’s watch, what does he say? Come on. You know it.

No one is madder than him.

After White House chief of staff Denis McDonough assured the public, “nobody is more outraged about this problem right now” than President Obama — an outrage that has yet to be expressed in anything more than pro forma public statements — Reid Epstein decided to look up how often the president assured all of us he was angry — or perhaps more angry than anyone else! — about failures of his administration or other setbacks.

It’s quite a list:

October 2013: “Nobody’s madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should.”

The IRS scandal, May 2013: “Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.”

April 2012, the Secret Service prostitution scandal: “If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry.”

May 2010, the BP oil spill: “And I know that doesn’t lessen the enormous sense of anger and frustration felt by people on the Gulf and so many Americans. Every day I see this leak continue I am angry and frustrated as well.”

March 2009, the AIG bonuses guaranteed in TARP: “I don’t want to quell anger,” he said. “I think people are right to be angry. I’m angry.”

He forgot one, though, when Obama was “apoplectic”:

President Barack Obama is “apoplectic” about lavish spending at the GSA, one of his top advisers said Sunday.

“On the GSA issue, he was I think it’s fair to say apoplectic,” said David Axelrod, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Because we made a big effort to cut waste, inefficiency, fraud against government, saved tens of billions of dollars doing it on just this very kind of thing. And so this was very enraging to him, and, of course, he acted quickly, the administration acted quickly and changed the management there.”

At the time of the “apoplectic” comment, the president had not yet mentioned the GSA spending scandal in the preceding three weeks. Maybe it’s a really quiet anger.

Then, of course, there’s the tired cliché suggesting that president Obama will never rest. Ever.

APRIL 9, 2009: “And we will not rest until we reach a day when not one single veteran falls into homelessness.”

MAY 11, 2009: “I will not rest until the dream of health-care reform is finally achieved in the United States of America.”

SEPTEMBER 15, 2009: “I want you all to know, I will not rest until anybody who’s looking for a job can find one — and I’m not talking about just any job, but good jobs that give every American decent wages and decent benefits and a fair shot at the American Dream.”

NOVEMBER 2, 2009: “We will not rest until we are succeeding in generating the jobs that this economy needs.”

NOVEMBER 23, 2009: “I will not rest until business are investing again, and businesses are hiring again.”

This was a particularly good one, considering the time and the place: Obama, speaking from Hawaii, where he and his family are vacationing, told Americans, “We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable.”

JANUARY 28, 2010: “We will not rest until we build an economy that’s ready for America’s future.”

MARCH 5, 2010: “I’m not gonna rest and my administration is not gonna rest in our efforts to help people who are looking to find a job.”

MAY 26, 2010 : “We will not rest until this well is shut, the environment is repaired, and the clean up is complete.”

Okay, BP did eventually shut down the well.

JULY 8, 2010: “My administration will not rest until every American who is able and ready and willing to work can find a job.”

That nice list above missed one big one, although this one was from Hillary Clinton:

What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.

Yes, the “we will not rest” pledge is always an unrealistic promise. No, no preceding president gave up sleep after making a similar pledge. But there’s something about Obama’s promiscuous use of the pledge that makes everyone involved a little cheaper — his speechwriters for going back to that dry well again and again, the president for managing to deliver the line for the thousandth time and sounding like he means it, and everyone who applauds for acting like saying it means something.

As Frank Drebin said, “Wilma, I promise you; whatever scum did this, not one man on this force will rest one minute until he’s behind bars. Now, let’s grab a bite to eat.”

Remember “all statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date”?

And then of course, there’s the symbolic pay cut:

The White House is refusing to confirm whether President Barack Obama followed up on his pledge to take a five percent pay cut due to sequestration last year.

Obama promised last April to take a 5 percent pay cut in “solidarity” with federal employees who were furloughed as a result of the automatic budget cuts, known as the sequester. The cut was meant to equate to the level of spending cuts imposed on nondefense federal agencies.

“The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury,” a White House official said at the time.

The White House would not respond to numerous requests submitted by the Washington Free Beacon to the White House press office to confirm that Obama did, in fact, write checks to the Treasury.

And then, of course, there’s the “I’ll-march-with-you” pledge to labor unions:

On Nov. 3, 2007, Barack Obama — then a senator running for president — pledged to a crowd in Spartanburg, S.C., that he would watch out for unions and protect their collective bargaining rights.

”If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States,” Obama said.

Which, of course, never happened. Even during the fights over collective bargaining for public sector workers in Wisconsin.

Iowahawk summarizes it well: “I pledge to have my top men get to the bottom of these phony scandals that I’m madder than hell to have only learned about from the papers.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Veterans

Obama, 2007: Time to End ‘Deplorable Conditions at Some VA Hospitals’



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Then-senator Barack Obama, November 12, 2007:

After seven years of an Administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals, and neglected the planning and preparation necessary to care for our returning heroes, America’s veterans deserve a President who will fight for them not just when it’s easy or convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years.

By 2012, Obama continued to compare the performance of the VA during his administration favorably to his predecessor, declaring,

For the first time ever, we’ve made military families and veterans a top priority not just at DOD, not just at the VA, but across the government.

Now we know the report of at least 40 U.S. veterans dying while waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system is only the tip of the iceberg.

Today:

When Shinseki took office, he vowed that every disability claim would be processed within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy. But the backlogs only got worse.

It took about four months for VA to process a claim for disability compensation claim when Shinseki was sworn in. By 2012, the average wait time was about nine months.

In February 2013, the Examiner published a five-part series, “Making America’s Heroes Wait,” showing more than 1.1 million veterans with disability claims and appeals were trapped in bureaucratic limbo at VA.

About 70 percent of the 900,000 claims for initial benefits were considered backlogged, meaning they were older than 125 days.

The Examiner series also showed how agency statistics were manipulated to hide mistakes that doomed veterans into appeals that could drag on for years.

There were some early signs then that VA’s failures in delivering medical care were having deadly consequences.

An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was reported in Pittsburgh in November 2012. Subsequent investigations by the inspector general and area media eventually linked a half-dozen patient deaths from the disease to faulty maintenance and poor management.

Reports of other deaths followed.

Four patients under VA’s care in Atlanta died of a drug overdose or suicides.

In Columbia, S.C., at least six patient deaths from colorectal cancers were linked to delays in receiving colonoscopies at veterans’ medical facilities.

VA eventually acknowledged that delays in providing care was linked to the deaths of 23 patients who died of gastrointestinal cancers at veterans’ health facilities. Deaths from other conditions were not disclosed.

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Shinseki , Veterans

Eric Shinseki’s Meaningless Claim That He ‘Takes Responsibility’



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The abominable callousness demonstrated at the Department of Veterans Affairs is deadly serious, and warrants more than an all-too-familiar claim of “responsibility” from Eric Shinseki:

Under withering criticism, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki told a Senate committee on Thursday that he was “mad as hell” about allegations of deadly waiting times and coverup at VA hospitals but he doesn’t plan to resign.

The retired Army general faced angry legislators and then aggressive journalists with a consistent message, arguing it was too soon to cast blame and vowing decisive action if an inspector general’s investigation finds proof that VA workers manipulated waiting lists to cover up long delays for veterans seeking health care.

Last month, CNN revealed that at least 40 veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, according to sources inside the hospital and a doctor who worked there. Many were placed on a secret waiting list, the sources said.

Of course, Shinskei is just echoing his boss and other members of the administration:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s declaration that she takes responsibility for the failure to secure our facilities and personnel in Libya — with no word on any actual consequence of this failure — is the most recent example. But the approach began from the very start of this administration.

* On Feb. 3, 2009, former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew as President Obama’s nominee for Commerce secretary after it was revealed he’d failed to pay some taxes. “I think I screwed up,” Obama told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I take responsibility for it, and we’re going to make sure we fix it, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Of course, Tim Geithner, who failed to pay more than $40,000 in taxes over a four-year period remained as Treasury secretary, and later we learned that 36 Obama aides owe $833,000 in back taxes.

* After a loud public outcry, Obama said he “took responsibility” for the millions in bonuses paid to AIG executives as part of the bailout. Of course, the bonuses remained.

* Discussing the national debt in Virginia on Aug. 6, 2009, Obama said, “I don’t mind being responsible. I expect to be held responsible for these issues, because I’m the president.” We’ve added $4.4 trillion in new debt since he said those words.

* After ObamaCare passed, the president admitted he hadn’t kept his promises on how the legislation would be handled. He told congressional Republicans that most of the debate had been aired on TV — except for some of the talks close to the Senate vote. “That was a messy process,” Obama said. “I take responsibility.” But it was too late to change anything about the law at that point, obviously.

* Obama said he “took responsibility” for the 2010 midterm results . . . but there was little or no sign that he changed his governing approach, philosophy or policies in response to the lopsided results in favor of the Republicans that year.

* Finally, in summer 2011, the president admitted that he’d misjudged the severity of the economic difficulties facing the country when he came into office: “Even I did not realize the magnitude, because most economists didn’t realize the magnitude of the recession until fairly far into it,” Obama said. “I think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take, and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices. I take responsibility for that.” But the policies and approach we’ve seen since that declaration of responsibility are the same as what we saw before it; nothing changed.

The new way to avoid taking responsibility is to tell the world you’re “taking responsibility.”

Tags: Eric Shinseki , Barack Obama , Veterans

One Demographic, Persistently Immune to Obama’s Sales Pitches



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

One Demographic , Unsurprisingly, Persistently Immune to Obama’s Sales Pitches

Remember these headlines?

May: Obama Courts Veterans’ Votes with Outreach Campaign

July: Obama Courts Veterans’ Support as Election Campaign Resumes

July: Obama to US Veterans: ‘I’ve Got Your Back’

July: Obama bets on young veterans

September: “Obama Looks to Veterans, Military for Support

Yeah, well, looks like we’ve found one demographic particularly skeptical of Obama’s record and promises:

Even as Obama leads in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, Mitt Romney is up by double digits among veterans in those states. Nationwide, he’s got a commanding 20-percentage-point lead over Obama and has overtaken the president with younger veterans.

“It’s no contest,” said Maurice Tamman, a Reuters data news editor who has polled on veterans and the presidential campaign.

Obama’s campaign has been trying to improve on a historical Democratic disadvantage on national security and among veterans by touting the killing of Osama bin Laden, ending Iraq combat operations and winding down the war in Afghanistan. They’ve also been talking up the administration’s attention to veterans’ benefits and efforts spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama, hoping to appeal not just to the troops but to the spouses and other military family members who have coped with long separations and multiple deployments.

Instead, even as Obama has been gaining in the overall polls, several NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls conducted from Sept. 9-11 had Romney well ahead of Obama among veterans in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. And in Colorado, a poll released Sept. 16 by SurveyUSA and the Denver Post found both veterans and military families supporting Romney over Obama 53 percent to 39 percent in a survey that included third-party candidates.

Back in May, Obama had the lead among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. But a Reuters/Ipsos poll from September says that’s evaporated, with Romney now up 48 percent to 34 percent.

Now, there could be many reasons for this. Obama may be trailing because veterans, as a group, lean to the right compared to the rest of the electorate.

Or it could be the allegation that letters sent to parents of Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan were signed by an electronic auto-pen. Or it could be Obama supporters flying the “revised” version of the American flag, featuring Obama’s face instead of the traditional stars.

Maybe it’s the “Veterans for a Strong America” group that put together that ad hitting Obama for taking too much credit for the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

Maybe it’s the book by the Navy SEAL on the bin Laden mission that painted such an unflattering portrait of Obama.

I’m sure you can come up with your own theories.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Polling , Veterans

Romney Will Cite Feinstein Leak Accusation in VFW Speech



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Yesterday California Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave the Romney campaign a gift, just in time for his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention:

The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Monday that the White House appears to be responsible for some leaks of classified information.

‘‘I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,’’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein told a World Affairs Council forum.

The California lawmaker said she was certain that President Barack Obama, who receives a daily intelligence briefing, isn’t disclosing secret information, but she was uncertain about others at the White House. ‘‘I don’t believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it,’’ she said.

A preview of Romney’s speech to the VFW today:

It is reported that Bob Gates, the President’s first secretary of defense, bluntly addressed another security problem within this administration.  After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to “shut up.”  He added a colorful word for emphasis.

Lives of American servicemen were at stake.  But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action in Iran.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis.  And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.”

This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence.  Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished.  The time for stonewalling is over. 

It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that.  When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, “We’ll report our findings after Election Day.”  

Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets?  Did a superior authorize it?  These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now.  If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And let me be clear:  These events make the decision we face in November all the more important.  What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?  I’ll tell you right now:  Mine won’t.

Tags: Barack Obama , Classified Leaks , Dianne Feinstein , Mitt Romney , Veterans

VoteVets Finds Non-Veteran Democrat to Tout



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The headline over at the Huffington Post: “McCaskill Backed By Key Group While Opponents Engage In Heated Battle.”

That “key group” is VoteVets, which I have argued would more accurately be called, “VoteDems,” as they almost never seem to find any Republican veteran candidates to their liking, and have no problem endorsing candidates like incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who is not a veteran. (The organization also ran ads against John McCain and preferred Barack Obama.)

VoteVets.org, the “nonpartisan” organization that has backed two Republicans and 46 Democrats for national office through the 2010 cycle, also compared Sen. Pat Toomey to Iranian ruler Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So far this cycle, VoteVets has not endorsed any Republicans; they have endorsed nine Democrats.

So is it really all that surprising that VoteVets endorsed McCaskill?

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with being an organization that leans heavily in favor of one party. It’s just that if you do that, you shouldn’t be treated and covered as a nonpartisan veterans organization.

Tags: Claire McCaskill , Veterans

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