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May 29, 2014

Shinseki: All Right, Now I'll Start Actually Doing My Job

Update: VA knew of wait-time-related deaths since 2013.

Before getting to that, @JohnEkdahl looked into Shinseki's prior vows as regards his management of the DVA, when he was confirmed in 2009.

What did he promise? Quality, consistency, and timeliness of medical care.

But he wasn't done yet. He then went on to vow "transparency" in meeting those objectives and standards.

So, Shinseki is the prototypical Obama-Type Politician. The Obama Method proceeds in three steps:

1. Give a speech making lofty promises about meeting specific Good Government Goals

2. Fail abjectly in meeting any of those Good Government Goals, Because Fundraising, Golf, and A Special Performance By Sir Paul McCartney

3. Give another speech re-making those promises and kinda-sorta pretending you just got the job so you can't be blamed for shit you didn't do the past five years

Shinseki just delivered a speech -- well, an Op Ed in USAToday -- delivering on Step Three of the Obama Method.

The findings of the interim report of VA's Office of Inspector General on the Phoenix VA Health Care System are reprehensible to me and to this department, and we are not waiting to set things straight.

Except for, you know, the five years you spent waiting to deliver on your 2009 promises.

I immediately directed...

"Immediately" now means "five years after I said I would."

The Obama Method. It's just fantastic, serious you guys.

... the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to contact each of the 1,700 veterans in Phoenix waiting for primary care appointments in order to bring them the care they need and deserve.

I had previously directed an independent site team to comprehensively assess scheduling and administrative practices in Phoenix. This team began its work in April, and we are already taking action consistent with the recommendations of the interim inspector general's report. We will fully implement his remaining recommendations.

Note all the bureaucratic, CorporoSpeak Action Words this thing is studded with: "Immediately." "Comprehensively." "Independent." "Fully."

Again, this has been going on for five years, and this guy specifically vowed to fix the problems five years ago.

The Fierce Urgency of Whenever, Man.

Earlier this month, I had also ordered Veterans Health Administration to conduct a nationwide audit of all other major VA health care facilities to ensure understanding of, and compliance with, our appointment policy. More than 200 senior staff are conducting that audit now, and we expect to announce the initial results of that audit in the coming days.

Outstanding. The bureaucrats who oversaw the last cover-up have been assigned to conduct the new cover-up.

At least they know what they're doing, I guess.

The Washington Post says we have an Obama Problem:

AT THE Department of Veterans Affairs, the federal government’s largest employer (the Army ranks second), only 56.9 percent of employees believe they can disclose a suspected violation of law or regulation without fear of reprisal. Even fewer — 46.1 percent — feel “a high level of respect” for their senior leaders. Fewer still — 37 percent — are satisfied with the policies and practices of those leaders.

Quite an indictment, you may say, one that confirms congressional demands for the summary firing of Eric K. Shinseki, the Cabinet secretary in charge of the VA. But the numbers for the government as a whole are barely more encouraging than for Mr. Shinseki’s domain: 58.4 percent, 49 percent and 38.8 percent, respectively.

We don’t have a Shinseki problem, in other words. We have a President Obama problem.

Actually they go on to claim we have a "Congress problem" too, and a "civil service in crisis," but I'm focusing on the President Obama Problem.

All of Obama's instincts are to cover-up, stonewall, and minimize problems. This flows from his self conception as "No Drama Obama." He wants every problem to seem trivial. He does not want to make dramatic moves.

This is how he defines "No Drama." It's also how he avoids taking responsibility for failure. He guesses, correctly in the case of a progressive black president, that if he himself refuses to give an issue oxygen, the press will almost always follow his lead.

Thus, by avoiding dramatic moves, Obama is actually just serving his PR requirements -- he's keeping major issues and outright crises off the front pages by Pretending them away.

The press, of course, has been all to eager to join in the No Drama Obama Public Relations campaign.

But sometimes there's too much to cover up, too much to pretend away.

Obama's Keep Everything Out of the Headlines by Pretending There's No Problem At All has predictable consequences: Major problems only get solved by Major Focus and major heat. Dramatic problems only get solved by dramatic moves.

Otherwise, the bureaucracy will quickly work to pick a scapegoat, cover things up, and go back to doing things almost exactly as they'd done them before.

Because the bureaucracy's main goal is, as Peter Gibbons observed, just to avoid hassle from their bosses.

Of course, in this case, it's the bosses who were actually giving the orders to fake the wait time data.

But without dramatic moves, those bosses will remain in the exact positions they currently occupy.

Obama's No Drama style of politics is designed to benefit himself at the expense of the nation.

Sometimes -- often, actually -- you need some drama, some sense of genuine urgency, some sense of genuine consequences, to get things done.

But Obama would rather keep the population in its Sleep Mode than get things done. Putting too bright a spotlight on a problem creates a Widely Known Standard for judging his performance -- Did he actually fix the problem or not?

And Obama is not one to embrace Standards by which he can be objectively judged on his performance.

Must be time for another Obama Method speech from Obama himself, too:



VA Knew of Wait-Time Related Deaths Since at Least as Early As 2013: Actually, they've known for a decade. Sexton:

The recent focus on long wait times at the VA may make it appear as if this is a newly uncovered problem. In fact, the VA and the GAO have been aware of the problem with abuse of the appointment scheduling system for well over a decade. Not is it the case that the VA was only recently aware that deaths may have resulted from delays.

On March 14, 2013, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on patient wait times. During that hearing, chairman Mike Coffman revealed that he had obtained evidence of two wait-time related deaths at the VA.

...

Within eight months, the VA had upped the number of deaths at the two facilities mentioned by Dr. Lynch during his congressional testimony--The Dorn Medical Center in Columbia, SC and the Charlie Norwood Center in Augusta, GA--to at least nine.

And other sources put the death toll at 20.


My Guarantee To This Nation's Collective Mouth

I have directed my Performance Review Team to immediately initiate an Action Inquiry into why The System failed to prevent this reprehensible outrage that inadvertently eventuated in Your Mouth, and propose a full-spectrum blue-sky Six Point Plan for ensuring that The System prioritizes protecting Your Mouth from UPSGS's (Unwanted Point-Source Genetic Spillages) in the future.

This will cost $14.8 billion (estimated).

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posted by Ace at 03:05 PM

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