The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Letters
VA Scandal: Our Imprint, Our Legacy, Our Sin
One can conceive, even fathom something as horrifying as the Veteran’s Association systematically allowing dozens of wounded soldiers to die and then scramble to cover it up, just as easily as one can conceive and even fathom the bizarrely ritualistic lies, deceit and ideological idiocy that put them there in the first place. There is the din of bureaucracy, money, ineptitude, and plain human nature to ignore “problems” of this magnitude when it is so overwhelming it reaches Biblical proportions. The question before us is why is it that so many dubiously opaque crises/scandals seem to be pored over with obsessive myopia, but this one, for decades, has been shrugged with a collective shoulder.
Over two administrations now, both Republican and Democrat, there have been revelations of egregious treatment of veterans by our system; the first, the woeful conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital in 2007 and now these new murderous allegations of the VA Health Care System in Arizona. Never mind the known troubles with such institutions since WWII well into the 1970’s, depicted graphically in memoirs by veterans of several wars too numerous to recount here. Yet, despite some oversight and investigations that receives a third if not less of the media coverage and overall slanderous rhetoric of lesser “crimes”, these fail to resonate with the American public, no matter what ideological line one inhabits. And while there is bi-partisan rage and lip-service condemnation from two presidents, this abomination, as damaging to whatever withering tatter of a soul is left of this nation as one can imagine, we see none of the hyperbolic outrage given to the ACA or the IRS scandal or this obsessive nonsense surrounding the Benghazi embassy attack.
Is it because it involves the military and the Pentagon; and these have been arguably the most untouchable monoliths of our bloated and mostly ineffectual federal government? Why is it that it takes about five minutes of knee-jerk debate and a few flimsy pieces of evidence or bent reasoning to stumble headlong into war; flushing billions upon trillions of our money on needless slaughter from the jungles of Viet Nam to the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, but when it comes to dealing with its most heinous realities, that our youth has been cut down, mutilated and massacred, we meander along endless lines of time?
This is how big our Military Industrial Complex has become; a gorging monster of bureaucracy that consumes up to 19 percent of our national budget, nearly as much as the much-ballyhooed entitlements, Social Security (24 percent), or the combined spending for Medicare and Medicaid (22 percent). According to a Peter G. Peterson Foundation study published in April of this year, the U.S. defense budget dwarfs those of ballpark economic stalwarts combined; China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, Germany, Japan and India respectively at $607 billion to our stupefying $640 billion. And several studies have shown, and much of it pointed out in congress during last year’s sequester debates, that a healthy dose of it is either outdated or unnecessary.
Yet no one blinks an eye.
Why is this self-contained, hardly ever dissected monstrosity spread around the globe like a bottomless money-pit never put up for discussion by anyone on either side of the political aisle when seriously deciding the fate of the national debt or outlandish deficits or other well-tread political footballs?
How did the denizens of defense, this sub-cultured, fund-gobbling cottage industry, become so untouchable that it barely gets a whisper and people run from it like gun laws?
This VA disaster, a legitimate scandal of epic proportions and a pox on our American ideals, whatever pile of streaming feces that emerges from it, should be front and center above all else. What kind of putrid nation that waxes poetic at every nauseating turn about “supporting our troops” and respecting and thanking our fallen for “protecting our freedoms” on the eve of Memorial Day allows this to happen without gutting the whole damn thing piece by piece?
The Military Industrial Complex is too big to fail or god forbid too expansive to even approach with a critical eye; and so the victims of its gorging mass of inhuman machinery get swept under the rug. We should be ashamed that these people, and they are people as they were people when they were so flippantly referred to as “troops”, (a more dehumanizing term is hard to find), are even languishing in these half-assed institutions, needing the kind of one-on-one care rarely afforded to them, while waiting for treatment as if someone with a head cold.
Everyone and everything is to blame for this. Forget merely firing directors and tossing more shit on congress and the president; we the people should look ourselves in the mirror as we continue to go about our business and complain about health care costs and standards of living and taxes and regulations and drugs and civil rights as neighbors and sons and daughters and friends continuously get shipped off to a nihilistic never-land to be carved up in order to keep this monster fat and happy.
After the morally bankrupt nightmare that was Viet Nam and all the pathetic fuck-all that followed, we still find ourselves whistling past a very real and lasting graveyard that has out names on it; our legacy, our sick obsession with war.
This is ours.
We own it.
© James Campion May 23rd 2014
READERS RESPONSES June 13th 2014
Ahhh…back to political analysis this week, Mr. Campion – where you belong.
(DESPERATE DEMOCRATS LOWBALL STRATEGY 2014 – Issue: 4/23/14) The Democrats are indeed on the run and it looks to be a slaughterhouse, unless the Republicans elect more TEA Party dipshits then it’s anybody’s game and that would leave the Senate in the hands of the Dems and then what would be the point?
This is a president having a bad first two years of his final run, something you have pointed out is as expected as the sun’s arrival every morning. His approvals are where? 42 percent or something like that? What else can the Dems do? Embrace Obamacare? That makes no sense, even if it has had successes in some states, in others it is a farce and although this works in House races, the Senate works off national issues, and overall the ACA is a doomed prospect to run on.
I think you have it right, and your Karl Rove memories are always my favorite asides, but let’s face facts: Rove is a has-been. He spent millions upon millions on elections he coughed up in 2012 and looked like a jabbering baboon on Election Night. People on FOX, who were about to slit their wrists over Romney, had to hold him down.
It really comes down to the TEA Party challengers. If the GOP stays the course and just lets the president shoot himself in the foot, then the Republicans should be in good shape. If not, then it’s business as usual. And they have no one to blame but themselves.
Much better column in terms of where the focus should be - not that I don't enjoy the hapless Republican meme, although your optics on voter ID laws is myopic - the Left LOVES to use the "voter fraud is non-existent" claim, yet when you control the media apparatus that decides what we the people know (or at least the "we" that's dumb enough to think the main stream media is unbiased) it's more than a little disingenuous to say something is nonexistent when you yourself fail to report the myriad of examples that are out there. Case in point - NC just uncovered some 35,000 double votes from 2012 where wife-killing tax cheat Mitt Romney (hat tip Barack Obama) just barely squeaked by. Where's that in the main stream media or even mentioned in your column? Answer: nowhere. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist now does it? And if that's just in NC, imagine what the number is when extrapolated to the entire country. If voter fraud farts in the woods and no one was around to hear it, did it make a sound?
Oh, I was so hoping that Hilary’s name would not appear in this article.
Regardless of what happens with the Senate this year and the purported transfer of power, if she runs for president - even worse gets elected - I will slit my proverbial wrists. Has this country and its populace not had enough of the Clintons and the machinations of the liberal left? We cannot afford anymore liberals in the White House. Period. On so many levels. Or the Republican Establishment for that matter. It’s time for true apolitical fiscal conservatives, if such a concept exists, to run this country and the challenge will be to find someone who qualifies. I just hope people are smart enough not to once again get sucked in by the media and the vituperation that you anticipate a la Karl Rove.
Elizabeth Vengen Esq.
This is the Campion I LOVE! (BUNDY RANCH SOLUTION: FREE-FOR-ALL IN NEVADA – Issue: 4/30/14) Hilarious! And even more hilarious is this Bundy freak has now proven he is a racist, dumb-hick tax-evader and it is so beautiful that king dunderhead Sean Hannity has been championing him as a hero! Love it! First the guy who killed Travon Martin is a right-wing champion, then the goon from Duck Dynasty and Joe The Plumber (who recently commented that “your dead kid is not enough to take my rights” and this KKK supporter. Cannot wait to see who is next for the right wing to call hero.
I too support anarchy. Where do I sign up the Bundy Solution?
You are part of the clueless yammering class of pseudo intellectuals parroting the government line. I love how liberals who in the 60's said "fuck the man" are now the same tools screaming "obey the man". I think first you need the facts, not the government generated spin.
The land in question has been in the Bundy family since 1877, 50 years before BLM ever existed.
Bundy is current on all Nevada State and Clark County taxes and fees. Because Bundy believes the BLM has never held up their end of the bargain in terms of maintenance and improvement of the land he in turn refuses to pay them. I would do the same if I felt the federal government stole the land and then made me pay for the privilege of remaining on MY land.
Why did BLM come with mercenaries strapped with M-4's? I know why, it's because with no witnesses we were going to have another Ruby Ridge and Waco. What saved Bundy was not the militia rifles (even though that's what gets most anti gun pussies all moist and shit) but it was militia cameras that showed BLM agents throw a woman to the ground and taser another guy. It was the miltiaman in a private aircraft that found where the government was stowing the stolen cattle and thus BLM got the FAA to declare the area essentially a "no fly zone" to prevent another such disclosure. This fight was won by the camera not the rifle, never forget that.
This is indeed We The People in action. Bundy is one of the final remaining cattle ranchers in that area. The others were bullied and chased out long ago, Bundy is holding out. Why are statists and liberals so anti-Bundy for holding out when the benefactor of this invasion is none other than Harry Reid who stands to make money when the Bundy Ranch is sold to Chinese investors who will put a solar farm in there. Harry Reid didn't have 2 nickels to rub together before he was elected to the Senate and now he is one of the richest men in the Senate and you want to crucify Bundy!?!?!?!
This fight is in now way over. The BLM has already told state officials in both Texas and Oklahoma that they are next. Frankly, I think this is an out of control government BEGGING for a fight. They know that both Oklahoma and Texas have strong active militias and it is there they can attack, blame the militias and finally declare martial law. I agree it sounds crazy but which is crazier, believing an out of control statist government is capable of martial law or that this out of control government is on a US Tour in support of stealing land for their own benefit?
BTW, who stands up for you when this government comes for yours?
James, I think I just peed myself.
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
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James Campion + Readers Responses
It is time we begin to phase out the word racist from our vocabulary. Not expunge it in some social construct like what we so cautiously present as the “N” word now, as if an acronym can lessen its impact...