Politics & Policy

The VA’s Deadly Bureaucratic Drones

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki
Veterans die, bureaucrats cook the books, another “study” is ordered: same old, same old.

At least 40 American veterans are dead thanks to bureaucratic delays at Veterans Affairs clinics. But you wouldn’t know it from the bland and bloodless demeanor of VA Secretary General Eric Shinseki at a Senate hearing Thursday. He droned on like an apathetic office manager fielding complaints about the copier’s being jammed.

Shinseki told the Senate panel that he “can’t remember” getting warnings from federal watchdogs last fall about ghost clinics and double-scheduling schemes. He said he was “not aware” of explosive book-cooking allegations like the ones at a Fort Collins, Colo., VA facility, where employees were ordered to make their records show that veterans got appointments within 14 days of the day requested, whether or not it was true.

In response to bipartisan disgust with the VA’s serial incompetence and fatally long wait times, oblivious Shinseki blathered on about “customer satisfaction surveys.” And when it came time to deliver his calculated sound bite about being “mad as hell” at mounting allegations of criminal fraud and neglect, Shinseki’s perfunctory tone echoed a jaded 411 operator: “City and state, please?”

Asked whether VA employees who alter records should be fired, Shinseki’s deputy, Robert Petzel, said he didn’t know whether that was “the appropriate level of punishment.” Shinseki interjected that a whopping 3,000 VA workers, including senior managers, had been “involuntarily removed” for misconduct last year — only to admit that an unknown number of those had simply been reassigned or allowed to retire.

In true paper-pusher form, the VA’s top brass have ordered yet another study to assess how and why the VA ignored years of other studies, reports, and audits of the department’s waste, fraud, and abuse. Showing even more tone-deafness, Shinseki bragged openly about his close friendship with top White House aide Rob Nabors, who is now overseeing the kabuki “review” of the VA’s failures.

Can you spell crony whitewash?

Pressed on why he hadn’t reported illegal data falsification to the FBI, Shinseki demurred that it was the inspector general’s call, not his. In other words: The buck stops somewhere else.

Attorney General Eric Holder hid behind the VA inspector general, too. There are no plans for a DOJ probe into the secret waiting lists at the Phoenix VA hospital, where scores of sick vets languished for months before perishing. Question: Why is activist zealot Holder so content to wait for the IG?

Given this administration’s shady record of crushing whistleblowers, railroading IGs, and replacing them with dirty lapdogs, Shinseki’s vow to “get to the bottom” of this latest deadly scandal (while Holder and the FBI sit on the sidelines) stinks to high hell.

Taking care of the nation’s war veterans is an obligation that has existed since the days of the Continental Congress. But for decades, under both GOP and Democratic administrations, the men and women who served our country have been literally left to die by government caretakers.

Fifteen years ago, I reported on VA bureaucrats who took better care of administrative buildings and vacant hospitals than they did their own patients. Back then, an independent General Accounting Office found that the agency was spending more than $1 million a day to sustain unneeded hospital buildings. Another $35 million was squandered annually to perform upkeep on empty space, including unused lots and warehouses, while vets were forced to file malpractice suits over substandard care.

We “have created the damnedest country club in America,” one VA watchdog activist I quoted said at the time. “Whatever toys they want, they get. Nobody is watching what they spend these millions of dollars on, and obviously, no one cares.”

Fifteen years later, it’s the same old, same old. More empty excuses, feckless denials, and deadly red tape. The names change, but the game’s the same: “Support the troops” platitudes and photo-ops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “Screw the troops” in the bowels of the VA bureaucracy, where book-cookers were busy collecting bonuses instead of saving lives. And everyone at the top refuses to resign.

It’s self-serving government as usual. I’d ask how “hope and change” is working out for the affected veterans. But they’re not around to answer. Their chilling silence speaks volumes.

— Michelle Malkin is the author of  Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies. Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com. © 2014 Creators.com

Michelle Malkin — Michelle Malkin is the host of Michelle Malkin Investigates on CRTV.com. Her email address is writemalkin@gmail.com. Copyright © 2018 Creators.com

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More