Embarrassingly Dysfunctional

To coin a phrase, this is embarrassing, a Department like this.

Ignored claims, manipulated records, cost overruns and even one facility infested with insects and rodents are among the latest issues uncovered by a blistering VA Inspector General’s report. The auditor’s probe found that more than 31,000 inquiries placed by veterans to the Philadelphia Regional VA office call center went ignored for more than 312 days, even though they were supposed to be answered in five. Perhaps even worse, claim dates were manipulated to hide delays, $2.2 million in improper payments were made because of duplicate records, 22,000 pieces of returned mail went ignored, and some 16,600 documents involving patient records and dating back to 2011 were never scanned into the system.

Ramadi and Strategy

JCS Chairman Martin Dempsey said last week that losing Ramadi to the Daesh would be unimportant from a strategic perspective; it would have only symbolic importance.

I have a couple of thoughts about that. First, symbolism in a war has vast importance, to the morale of the defenders and to the morale of the attackers. Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo had no strategic importance whatsoever, but it was critically important: the symbolism of the raid—”we can hit you wherever we wish, whenever we wish”—had immediate impact on Japan’s strategic thinking and on American and Australian military and civilian morale, even though the raid did trivial physical damage.

Then Get Out Of The Way

President Barack Obama had some choice words about the Loretta Lynch nomination at a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

What are we doing here? I have to say, there are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough. … This is embarrassing, a process like this.

Wrong Answer

Electricity producers in several states are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support to keep costly nuclear power plants in business[.]

For instance,

New York and federal regulators are weighing whether to make customers subsidize the Ginna nuclear station in Ontario, NY, 20 miles northeast of Rochester.

And

Illinois is considering financial assistance for three Exelon nuclear plants that the company says are suffering from low power prices. State officials are considering several forms of aid, including legislation that would require utilities to support carbon-free generators like nuclear and renewable energy.

And

It’s Their Job

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani doesn’t like it that in a republican democracy, legislatures, representing the plebes, get a say in what the republican democratic government does internationally—including agreeing to treaties and Executive Agreements. From this, he “accused” Congress of “meddling in sensitive negotiations” about Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

What the US Senate says, or what the US House of Representatives want, or what the extremists in the US are looking for, or what the US mercenaries in the region say, it doesn’t have anything to do with our government or our people…. We announce that the side that we deal with is not the US Senate or the House of Representatives—it is a group called the P5+1[.]

Naturally

The board of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has decided to continue accepting donations from foreign governments, primarily from six countries, even though Hillary Clinton is running for president….

Other governments will be encouraged to contribute to the Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative, carefully ignoring the fungibility of money.

Corporate campaign money is bad. But foreign government…money is good. She will, after all, be dealing with those foreign governments as peers (in every sense of that word) if she’s elected, not those corporations.

Oh, and the evils of corporate campaign money? That’s for the little people. Clinton’s campaign organizations, PACs, etc are expected to raise $1-$2 billion this campaign season.

There’s a Hint Here

Hillary “Emails” Clinton had her immediate staff hold a number of conference calls with “supporters, party operatives, former staffers and elected officials” to assure them of her enthusiasm and support of their efforts for the coming campaign.

Those on the receiving end were hoping for more.

Some supporters said they were hoping to hear more specifics about campaign events or voter outreach strategies.

Typical Democrats. “More specifics” and “outreach strategies”—aren’t these what those on the receiving end supposed to develop? Even if not, do not these worthies have the initiative to work on those questions without waiting to be told what to do?

Who’s Protecting Whom?

The Drug Enforcement Agency has the way of the Secret Service, at least in Colombia: partying with prostitutes. DEA seems to have taken the thing a step further, though: the parties appear to be funded by the drug cartels the partying agents were sent to investigate.

The agents’ punishment? Two weeks of suspension. Naturally, Congress is…dismayed…both with the behavior and with the wrist-slap. How the anger is expressed is instructive, though. DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart testified in front of the House Oversight Committee that there’s not much more she can do; civil service system law and regulations keep her from doing more. She’s not even allowed to have input on the sanctions to be applied for such misbehavior.

Of Course

Fighting raged overnight [Tuesday night] and in the early hours on Tuesday on the outskirts of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine despite an agreement reached by the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers a day earlier.

And a significant fraction of the rebel troops in the fight are Russian Green Men.

Russia wants Ukraine back in the Russian empire. Full stop.

Whatever Happened

…to the plaint that Congress’ bill asserting its capacity to approve or disapprove Obama’s coming Executive Agreement with Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear weapons program would fatally imperil those negotiations?

Now the guy who sits in the Secretary of State’s chair, John Kerry, is saying

Yesterday there was a compromise reached in Washington regarding congressional input. We are confident about our ability for the president to negotiate an agreement, and to do so with the ability to make the world safer.

The only change of substance was to withdraw a requirement that President Barack Obama certify every 90 days that Iran was not supporting terrorist organizations anymore.