I Have a Special-Needs Son and Betsy DeVos Scares Me to Death
Please forward this error screen to 66. As some seek to further privatize veterans health care, with hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, sacrifices will have to be made. Let’s I Have a Special-Needs Son and Betsy DeVos Scares Me to Death few fall on the veterans themselves. David Shulkin once held the title of least controversial Cabinet secretary in the Trump Administration.
He was confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 100-0, and for most of his time in office enjoyed broad bipartisan support as he sought to reform veterans’ health care. White House physician Rear Admiral Dr. Shulkin’s story is really one of whether or not further privatizing health care for veterans is the right way to fix a damaged institution. Shulkin being pushed out is a big story that has been both understated and oversimplified in the press as mostly just another episode of the Trump chaos soap opera. I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments.
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They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans. In its simplest form, privatization means that instead of seeking care at a VA facility at little-to-no charge, veterans would be free to visit any health care provider in the private sector, with Uncle Sam picking up most of the tab. The VA would shift from directly providing care in its own facilities to become the insurance company of dreams.
Vietnam-era vets require more expensive end-of-life care, and as waves of veterans from the past 17 years of the War on Terror enter the system, costs will rise. VA outpatient visits nearly doubled to 86. Under any calculus veterans health care is big money and proponents of privatization want to pull as much of it as possible into the commercial sector. But where would the money come from? VA programs such as education would be cut back. Others speculate a privatized VA system would quickly go the way of civilian insurance, with limited networks, increased co-pays, and complex referral systems, all as a way of passing increasing costs on to the patient. As for many under Obamacare, vets would be caught in the gap between being able to have insurance, and being able to afford health care.
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Choice can come at a price. The specialized needs of many veterans are part of the reason for the specialized veterans’ health care system. Despite much justified criticism, the VA serves the needs of many of its patients well. Compared with individuals in private plans, veterans with schizophrenia or major depression were more than twice as likely to receive appropriate initial medication treatment. VA health system generally was as good as or better than other health systems on most quality measures. The VA also has expertise in prosthetics, burns, polytrauma, and spinal injuries rare in civilian life. The VA has a lifetime relationship with its patients, leading to broader implementation of preventive care and better integration of records.
These advantages could be lost as more choice under a largely privatized system could result in significantly less choice at the VA in areas where it matters most. The risk is throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as increased privatization will inevitably mean shuttering some VA facilities. The solution lies in a system which pairs the best of privatization with a reformed government-run veterans health care system. Paring off some services into the private sector while retaining those unique to the VA, all to the satisfaction of Congress, demands an administrator with extraordinary bureaucratic skills. VA medical appointments being made in the private sector. VA couldn’t provide specialized care, when wait times exceeded standards, or when travel to a VA facility represented a hardship. Shulkin was advocating for the program’s expansion when both his funding and his tenure ran out.
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As Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin was an experienced medical administrator who had specialized in health care management at some of the nation’s largest hospitals. Ronny Jackson, is a fine Navy doctor who has served two presidents, but comes to the job with no experience with an organization the size and complexity of the VA, already the government’s second-largest agency. Questions will be asked at what will no doubt be contentious confirmation hearings about whether Jackson can rise to the challenge, or if privatization advocates will take advantage of him to rush ahead with their own preferred changes, to their own financial gain.
Nine million veterans who rely on the VA for life-sustaining care in return for the sacrifices they have made. This has broad implications for our First Amendment, our access to dissenting opinions, and in how the rest of the world views us. Ironically, the bipartisan request to force Al Jazeera to register comes amid a controversy over the network’s filming of a documentary critical of pro-Israel lobbying in the U. The network used an undercover operative to secure footage revealing possibly illegal interactions between advocacy groups and lawmakers.
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The Foreign Agents Registration Act was never intended to regulate journalism. FARA law doesn’t even prohibit straight up propagandizing, though it seeks to limit the influence of foreign agents by labeling their work, apparently to help out Americans who otherwise would not be able to tell the difference on their own. Here’s a use of FARA in line with the law’s original intent: the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, whose job is to lobby Americans on behalf of a foreign government, in this case, to take vacations in Abu Dhabi, is a FARA registrant. You know who is up to what when the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority says they have decent beaches you should visit. That is what happened in the case of RT and Radio Sputnik.
Following the 2016 election, frightened officials demanded the Russian news organizations register as propaganda agents. We’re uncomfortable with governments’ deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda. As the Justice Department wields the FARA weapon against journalists, here’s what they will face. It also means the outlet must open its finances to the Department of Justice. Subjecting journalists to FARA sends a message about America. Russia has already passed a law requiring outlets like CNN to register as foreign agents.
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The use of FARA to restrict foreign journalists also adds to rising sense among too many already frightened Americans that our freedoms are being used against us. The roots of our most basic rights flow from the freedom of the press written into the First Amendment. The press must be unfettered in reporting so citizens can make informed decisions when voting, protesting, and petitioning their government. Government should play no role in designating good journalists from bad, licensing who can report, or otherwise interfering with access to a broad range of ideas.
It is not a healthy sign for a democracy when the people ask that rights be taken from them by the government. Former Justice of the Supreme Court John Paul Stevens is calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment in an Op-Ed in the New York Times. He advanced similar thoughts in 2008, when dissenting in the landmark District of Columbia v. People like Stevens calling for its repeal likely believe they are clever negotiators, setting a marker way out there, thinking it makes bargaining towards some middle easier. The problem is demonizing everyone who owns a gun for whatever reason is never going to promote meaningful change. Those people vote, they certainly don’t see themselves as demons or people who would condone the killing of children, and they won’t trust reforms to people who label them as demons.
In the ten years since his original dissent and today’s New York Times Op-Ed, Stevens hasn’t come up any better argument other than the presence of the 2A itself enables the NRA to block incremental change. That will almost certainly drive away any gun owners who might otherwise be willing to talk about some sort of restrictions. Going to the table demanding all or nothing usually yields you nothing. Historians may well look back on Stevens’ article as a marker the United States has entered its third great era. The first, starting from the colonists’ arrival, saw the principles of the Enlightenment used to push back the abuses of an imperial government and create the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
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The next two hundred some years, imperfect as they were, saw those principles progress, putting into practice what an evolving government of the people might look like. We are now wading in the shallows of the third era, Post-Constitutional America, a time when we are abandoning the basic ideas that saw our nation through centuries of challenges. Those ideas — enshrined in the Bill of Rights — are disarmingly concise, the haiku of a People’s government. Now, deeper, darker waters lay in front of us, and we are drawn down into them. The very idea of even discussing willfully removing rights guts the heart of who we are. Rights inside our form of society are inalienable, existing organically, and are not granted by government and should not be able to be taken away.
1A protects all speech, including some quite purposely hateful and racist. Some will argue guns are different, they kill. The same argument can be applied to abortion of course, and to speech designed to stir people to war. Founders intended as a substitute to a standing army is archaic language. But the Constitution is a living document, and has changed mightly over the last two centuries to greatly expand rights implicitly and explicitly left out in the 18th century-limited minds of the men who wrote it, particularly in regards to slavery, universal suffrage, and discrimination in all its forms. It is wrong and frightening and anti-democratic to see calls for the elimination of a full amendment from the Bill of Rights, and doubly so that such appeals resonate with so many Americans acting now out of fear and emotion.
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The Founders feared a King would become jealous of the People’s power and want some back. They never anticipated in 2018 the people might demand it be taken from them. Nothing will say more about who we are — across three administrations, one who demanded torture, one who covered it up, and one who seeks to promote its bloody participants — than whether or not Gina Haspel becomes Director of the CIA. Gina Haspel tortured human beings in Thailand as the chief of a CIA black site in 2002. She is currently Deputy Director at the CIA.
With current director Mike Pompeo slated to move to Foggy Bottom, President Donald Trump proposed Haspel as the Agency’s new head. Haspel’s victims wait for death in Guantanamo and cannot speak to us, though they no doubt remember their own screams, Haspel’s face as she broke them, what she said about freedom and America as they were waterboarded. Kiriakou exposes the obsessive debate over the effectiveness of torture as false: torture works, just not for eliciting information. Torture and the people like Gina Haspel who conduct it seek vengeance, humiliation, and power.
We’re just slapping you now, she would have said in that Thai prison, but we control you and who knows what will happen next, what we’re capable of? Haspel won’t be asked at her confirmation hearing to explain how torture works, but these men could. I met my first torture victim in Korea, where I was adjudicating visas for the State Department. Persons with serious criminal records are ineligible to travel to the United States, with an exception for political crimes by dissidents. The man I spoke with said under the U.
Park Chung Hee he was tortured for writing anti-government verse. He was taken to a small underground cell. Though the pain was beyond his ability to describe, he said the humiliation of being left so utterly helpless was what remained of his life, destroyed his marriage, sent him to the repeated empty comfort of alcohol, and kept him from ever putting pen to paper again. The men who destroyed him, he told me, did their work, and then departed, as if they had others to visit and needed to get on with things.
He was released a few days later and driven back to his apartment by the police. The second torture victim I met while stationed in Iraq. The prison that had held him was under the control of some shadowy part of the U. In there masked men bound him at the wrists and ankles and hung him upside-down. He said they neither asked him questions nor demanded information. They did whip his testicles with a leather strap, then beat the bottoms of his feet and the area around his kidneys.
It was painful, he told me, but he had felt pain before. What destroyed him was the feeling of utter helplessness. His strength had been his ability to control things. He showed me the caved in portion of his foot, which still bore a rod-like indentation with faint signs of metal grooves. Haspel blinded one of her victims. Another was broken as a human being so thoroughly he would, at the snap of his torturer’s fingers, simply lie down to be waterboarded. I like the way you’re drooling.
Gina Haspel is the same person as those who were in the rooms with the Korean, and the Iraqi. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured almost all of the government documents on the torture program remain classified. He did not prosecute the CIA officials who destroyed video tapes of the torture scenes. Obama ignored, as with the continued hunting down of Nazis some 70 years after their evil acts, the message that individual responsibility must stalk those who do evil on behalf of a government.
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The purpose of tracking down the guilty is to punish those with blood on their hands, to discourage the next person from doing evil, and to morally immunize a nation-state. I know Gina personally and she has the right skill set, experience, and judgment to lead one of our nation’s most critical agencies. She has been, I believe, a good deputy director. Nearly alone at present, Senator Rand Paul says he will oppose Haspel’s nomination.
Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich have told Trump she is unsuitable and will likely also vote no. Following World War II the United States could have easily executed those Nazis responsible for the Holocaust, or simply thrown them into some forever jail on an island military base. It would have been hard to find anyone who would not have supported brutally torturing them at a black site. Instead, they were put on public trial at Nuremberg and made to defend their actions as the evidence against them was laid bare. The point was to demonstrate We were better than Them. We today instead refuse to understand what Haspel’s victims, and the Korean writer, and the Iraqi insurgent, already know on our behalf: unless our Congress awakens to confront the nightmare and deny Gina Haspel’s nomination as Director of the CIA, torture has already transformed us and so will consume us.
It is as if Nuremberg never happened. Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo will walk into his confirmation hearings, and soon after that his first day of work, confronting the missiles of spring. In one case President Donald Trump and Pompeo signal they want to back away from an Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, while in the other both men seem intent on securing a likely similar deal with North Korea. It will be Pompeo’s counsel to Trump which will help shape the nuclear landscape American foreign policy will move forward in. Iranians, Trump will not extend U. Trump previously singled out the Iran nuclear deal as one of the main policy differences he had with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.