VA being crunched by numbers

The true costs of multiple wars are piling up:

The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now 50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year’s problems, department officials say. The department is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall, which could affect care for many veterans.

Since the waiting-list scandal broke last year, the department has broadly expanded access to care. Its doctors and nurses have handled 2.7 million more appointments than in any previous year, while authorizing 900,000 additional patients to see outside physicians. In all, agency officials say, they have increased capacity by more than seven million patient visits per year — double what they originally thought they needed to fix shortcomings.

But it still wasn't enough, because politicians in Washington still haven't grasped the fact that 2 of the 3 longest wars in our country's history were fought in this (the 21st) century. Even asking the VA to "project" how much money they will need next year, the year after, etc., is an exercise in futility. And as long as Republicans play their budget-cutting game and push privatization schemes, the VA will continue to struggle to keep up with the demand:

Daily dose: Meadows defends bear poacher edition

Meadows hears bear poaching complaints (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Among the many allegations of inappropriate conduct by law officers in a controversial bear poaching sting, a U.S. congressman said he was most concerned that federal charges had been "stacked" against one defendant. Rep. Mark Meadows told more than 100 people at the Haywood County Courthouse Friday morning that he would expect to be looking into that matter arising out of Operation Something Bruin, a four-year undercover investigation.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/06/19/meadows-hears-bear-poaching-complaints/2900...

Daily dose: (Bad) policymaking in the Budget edition

Senate budget bill repeals state Fair Housing Act, abolished Human Relations Commission (Fairhousing) -- The North Carolina State Senate’s proposed budget repeals the State Fair Housing Act and eliminates the North Carolina Human Relations Commission, the state body that currently has authority to investigate and enforce the law. The provisions, which are contained in the Senate’s 508-page budget bill, also calls for the repeal of a state statute prohibiting the interference with another person’s civil rights.
http://www.fairhousingnc.org/2015/nc-senate-passes-bill-to-repeal-state-fair-housing-act-eliminate-n...

GOP strips retirement health care from future teachers, other state government workers

Because 30 to 40 years of service means nothing to Republicans:

A few short lines in the 2015-17 Senate budget would eliminate state-paid health retirement benefits for teachers and state employees hired after January 1, 2016.

“This will negatively impact the state’s ability to recruit good, qualified folks,” said Richard Rogers, executive director of the North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees’ Association. “In the future, I don’t see folks sticking with state government for the long term or for a career.

They don't want "good, qualified folks," working for the people, because that would make it harder to tear down government agencies and institutions. Better to fill the ranks with mediocre, unqualified folks, because it will condition the populace to not be dependent on a functioning public service machine, and make it much less controversial when that machine is finally switched off for good.

Alone and Adrift in a Sea of Right-Wing Hate

Is anyone still surprised that mass shootings continue to occur? Sure, we're still horrified at the loss of life and the sheer depravity of the act, but let's not kid ourselves. Mass shootings have become a part of the American experience. We have come to expect them. We don't know when they'll happen or where, but we now have a reasonable expectation that somewhere in America, at some time in the not too distant future, someone will walk into a school, a mall, or a church and open fire. People will die, families will grieve, and those with the power to do something about it will continue to do nothing. Yes... we will all be outraged, demand action, and go for the throat on Twitter and Facebook... for a while. After a short time, we all ease back into the complacency of our lives and hope it's over... but we know it isn't. Here we dwell, in this place of denial and fear, until we are again forced to watch the horror... and we are again momentarily outraged... momentarily.

My freedoms are more important than your child's safety

Because if I can't dump bloody offal into the water to attract ocean-going predators like sharks, even if it means swimming children have their arms bitten off, then the Socialists behind Agenda 21 have won the war, and we'll be forced into reeducation camps where they make you eat kale and read Noam Chomsky.

Daily dose: Homegrown terrorism edition

Dylann Roof, Suspect in Charleston Shooting, Flew the Flags of White Power (New York Times) -- — The Facebook profile picture chosen by Dylann Storm Roof in May is thick with symbolism. It shows Mr. Roof, a scowling young white man, wearing a black jacket adorned with two flags — one from apartheid-era South Africa, the other from white-ruled Rhodesia — that have been adopted as emblems by modern-day white supremacists. Mr. Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in North Carolina after law enforcement officers identified him as the suspect in the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday night.
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/us/on-facebook-dylann-roof-charleston-suspect-wears-symbols-of-whi...

Friend says church shooting suspect ranted about race (AP) — In recent weeks, Dylann Storm Roof reconnected with a childhood buddy he hadn't seen in five years and started railing about the Trayvon Martin case, about black people "taking over the world" and about the need for someone to do something about it for the sake of "the white race," the friend said Thursday.
http://www.greensboro.com/news/us_world_ap/friend-says-church-shooting-suspect-ranted-about-race/art...

"Piñata Politics" is an apt description

The vendetta against Gene Nichol is childish and destructive:

A last-minute amendment by Senate leaders Wednesday docked the University of North Carolina School of Law budget by $3 million. Democrats say it's political payback for the school's employment of legislative critic Gene Nichol. Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, questioned whether the "capricious" cut would force reductions in financial aid or public service programs at the school. "This feels like the Gene Nichol transfer amendment," Woodard added.

Apodaca did not immediately respond to an inquiry from WRAL News about the timing and rationale for his amendment, but he said nothing to dispute Democrats' accusations during the floor debate.

When vicious attempts by Civitas to uncover wrongdoing on Professor Nichols' part didn't pan out, the next step was to close the Poverty Center. But that still wasn't enough, was it? Because the end goal is to get the outspoken Professor fired, or to force him to resign. Totalitarian regimes are notorious for silencing voices of opposition, and colleges are usually the first places they clamp down.

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