March 05, 2007

Our Word for the Day


1 : the office or position of a leader
2 : capacity to lead
3 : the act or an instance of leading -- Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary
Not remotely leadership.

Remarkably bad, warmongering leadership.

Flabby, weak-kneed, close to non-existent leadership.

On a related note, allow me to point out an interesting aspect of today's WaPo story about the growing Walter Reed scandal that may go largely unnoticed. The first and major part of the article details what any honest, intelligent observer knew must be the case: that the criminally negligent treatment accorded to many veterans is very widespread, and hardly limited to only one medical facility. It's very difficult reading, and contains passages like this one:
Sandy Karen was horrified when her 21-year-old son was discharged from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego a few months ago and told to report to the outpatient barracks, only to find the room swarming with fruit flies, trash overflowing and a syringe on the table. "The staff sergeant says, 'Here are your linens' to my son, who can't even stand up," said Karen, of Brookeville, Md. "This kid has an open wound, and I'm going to put him in a room with fruit flies?" She took her son to a hotel instead.

"My concern is for the others, who don't have a parent or someone to fight for them," Karen said. "These are just kids. Who would have ever looked in on my son?"
But this is what I want to bring to your attention, which comes toward the end of the article:
For years, politicians have received letters from veterans complaining of bad care across the country. Last week, Walter Reed was besieged by members of Congress who toured the hospital and Building 18 to gain first-hand knowledge of the conditions. Many of them have been visiting patients in the hospital for years, but now they are issuing news releases decrying the mistreatment of the wounded.

Sgt. William A. Jones had recently written to his Arizona senators complaining about abuse at the VA hospital in Phoenix. He had written to the president before that. "Not one person has taken the time to respond in any manner," Jones said in an e-mail.

From Ray Oliva, the distraught 70-year-old vet from Kelseyville, Calif., came this: "I wrote a letter to Senators Feinstein and Boxer a few years ago asking why I had to wear Hospital gowns that had holes in them and torn and why some of the Vets had to ask for beds that had good mattress instead of broken and old. Wheel chairs old and tired and the list goes on and on. I never did get a response."
It should be underscored at least several times for emphasis that more than a few members of Congress had been notified and had known of instances of sickening neglect and mistreatment for years now -- and they did precisely nothing. It was only when public outrage finally became uncontainable -- when, as noted earlier in the article, "It all adds up and reaches a kind of tipping point" -- that the government finally took action. Most elected members of our government are cowards by nature: protecting what they take to be their right to an eternal sinecure is their major and often sole concern -- and they believe they protect it most effectively by safely following along after public opinion has made its will known, and never ever getting out in front of it.

Please keep this point in mind in connection with the six steps for action I outlined last week with regard to stopping an attack on Iran. Left to their own mealy-mouthed devices, Congress will do nothing, or as close to nothing as they think they can get away with. If an attack on Iran is to be prevented, along with a possible regional or even global nuclear conflict and the possibility of martial law here in the United States...


Given my own situation, including my almost complete lack of money and my rotten health, there isn't much more I can do by myself. I've offered my thoughts about actions that can be taken and I'll add more as I think of them, and I've donated any or all of my writing for this purpose, if anyone wants to use it, without credit or compensation to me. A lot more individuals and at least a few organizations need to take on a few of these tasks at a minimum, in a very major, highly visible, continuing way. I still would encourage starting with my first suggestion: a series of full-page ads in the nation's major newspapers, BEGINNING THIS WEEK.

But my point is, using the medical scandal as an example, IT CAN WORK.

There is nothing more urgent in the world right now. Months from now, as chaos and death spread across ever-growing regions of the world, as censorship begins to be imposed here at home and the government starts to clamp down in other ways, I don't want to hear a single person whine that there wasn't anything that could have been done. It is simply not true.