Elephants and hacks

I’m trying to organize an essay on the other two elephants in the room — torture and racism — and may be able to post it later today. If not, it will have to wait until next week.

Real life doesn’t merely intrude. It takes over.

Until then, a couple of quick items worth attention: Frost-Nixon and the VA Medical Care system. Both, in my experience, are excellent.

Perhaps none of you will ever have reason to rely on VA medical care. I hope you do not, because I hope you are not required to become part of the military. But if you do, you likely will find, as I have, that VA care is remarkably good.

Recent horror stories stem from Bush Administration incompetence more than systemic flaws.

This came up because of a news item about President Obama ordering a new computerized medical records system for the VA. It’s welcome news, but it is in fact OLD news. The VA has such a system. I know; I’ve been in it for about twenty years. For routine stuff, I see a PA at the nearest suburban clinic. For radiation treatment, I went to the VA hospital in Albany, NY. For cardiology, I went to the VA hospital in West Haven, CT. Each of them has access to the records of what the others are doing. I’ve run into the sorts of snags any bureaucracy throws in your path, but overall, the VA has given me excellent, well-coordinated care.

The reason there has been so much bad news lately is that there has been so much bad treatment lately. And there’s been bad treatment — in my opinion — because

  • One, the Bush Administration horribly — let’s make that criminally — underestimated the toll its wars would take on the military.
  • Two, top VA administration, like so much of the rest of the military and the Executive Branch, was filled with political hacks who, as is customary with political hacks, reacted to genuine problems with denial and evasion rather than prompt, positive action.

And about Frost-Nixon. See it. It is much better, much more worth your time, than Slumdog Millionaire. I’ll say more about it later.


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