The government doesn’t seem to have many good days, these days. If it isn’t a vast hacking of its employees’ personal information by, presumably, the Chinese, then it is the revelation that the people who are supposed to keep air travel safe, the crack agents of the TSA, missed some 95 percent of the dummy bombs that a task force attempted to slip by them in a recent test. Ninety-five percent. The performance, all around, recalls the words of Casey Stengel when he was managing the Mets in an era when they were the worst team in baseball: “Can’t anyone here play this game?”
Today’s entry for the “government doesn’t work” files concerns the VA. This one is especially perplexing. The duty of the government to care for the people who wore the uniform (some after being drafted) and in many cases went off to war and often returned injured and needing care … that duty seems clear cut. The government may not necessarily have a duty to make sure school lunches are nutritious and healthy (and, by the way, it is blowing that one, too) but care for veterans is not optional and does not fall under the heading of “pork barrel spending.”
Two months after testifying to Congress for a third time about the Department of Veterans Affairs Philadelphia regional office, this time about a “revolving door of taxpayer waste,” culture of retaliation and improper behavior — like two managers asking workers to pay one’s wife to contact the dead — whistleblower Kristen Ruell said little had changed. “I’m wondering what problems have been fixed,” she said Monday, as a bipartisan delegation of congressmen showed up to grill managers about the scandal that has engulfed the office, which oversees benefits to more than 800,000 veterans in three states. “I’m seeing the same things, and it’s worse than ever. Employee morale is at an all-time low.”
Meanwhile, the VA reacted to what it plainly considers a problem of public relations and image-mending to be handled in the usual way. So:
The VA did not make regional office leaders available for comment. Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, handed out a press release called “Top 15 Things the Philadelphia and Wilmington Regional Offices are Doing to Improve Service to Veterans, their Families and Survivors” and spoke to Stripes after the employee meeting.
And, of course, with sublime predictability, Ms. Hickey played the card that always appears when there is failure in Washington. She:
… called out Congress, saying lawmakers have not done enough to help the VA add positions to the woefully understaffed, overworked department.
I'm not sure what the great political philosopher Leo Strauss would have thought of the Internet (he was a skeptic about progress, but also a skeptic about reaction). I personally think he would have appreciated aspects of it. Perhaps he would have even written an essay on "Persecution and the Art of Tweeting." Or not.
Speaking Tuesday at the 45th Annual Washington Conference of the Council of the Americas, Secretary of State John Kerry said that "countries are far more likely to advance economically and socially when citizens have faith in their governments and are able to rely on them for justice and equal treatment under the law." Kerry said that a "new kind of relationship" with Latin American countries, emphasizing democracy and human rights, will contribute to "our common ag
The inspector general of the State Department confirmed today in Senate testimony that the State Department network at some point was hacked. He made the comments in response to a question from Georgia senator David Perdue.
Perdue asked, “Do you have evidence that the State Department’s network has been attacked, and does that affect you guys?”
The U.S. State Department is looking to design and facilitate a media ethics course for journalists in India, and has even proposed appropriating the name of Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" as a title for the course. The U.S.
Since Politico, a politics-focused website and newspaper, launched its subscription-based news service Politico Pro in 2011, government agencies have increasingly turned to the service to keep abreast of the latest developments in their spheres of policy. Government records show fiscal year 2011 contracts with the owner of Politico, Capitol News Company, totaling $41,900.
Senator Chuck Grassley has sent two letters to the State Department to ask about Huma Abedin's special government status when she was a government employee--and for information on Abedin's email use while working for the government. Abedin is a close aide to Hillary Clinton, and worked for the consulting firm Teneo (under a special government employee status) while working for Clinton.
We received this email from a 40-year veteran of the federal workforce, who raises serious questions about Hillary Clinton and her emails:
Since this story broke I have been wondering why "Conversion" has not entered the discussion. In my 40 years in government service, 20 as a senior supervisor, there has been an inviolable rule. One does not use Government resources for personal benefit, and one does not use private resources for Government benefit for personal convenience.
Lost in much of the reporting about CPAC is that almost all of the likely presidential candidates—really, all of them, with the exception of Rand Paul—seemed to place themselves at the Reaganite hawkish-internationalist end of the foreign policy spectrum. The much-heralded return of Republican isolationism or anti-interventionism wasn’t much in evidence, except during Rand Paul's half hour on the stage.