Tag Archives: Veterans Affairs

A crony capitalist ‘kitchen cabinet’ at Mar-a-Lago runs the VA – the Trump swamp

Republicans and their allies (e.g., The Arizona Republic) generated public outrage in recent years over the Phoenix VA health-care system scandal: An Arizona Republic Investigation. It led to staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs being fired, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin resigning (or was he fired?) over his travel expense scandal. David Shulkin says he was fired. The White House says he quit.

So it is rather surprising that this new investigative report from ProPublica is barely receiving a mention today in the news. It appears that our “Dear Leader” has a crony capitalist “kitchen cabinet” at Mar-a-Lago — none of whom have military service or experience in running a large federal agency — being allowed to dictate policy and personnel at the VA. This is the next big VA scandal. The Shadow Rulers of the VA:

Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”

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The Worst and the Dumbest in the Trump Administration

David Halberstam once wrote a book about the Kennedy and Johnson men called The Best and the Brightest. The theme of that book was despite the qualifications and acclaim these public servants had earned before and during most of their White House Service, most still offered the Presidents poor advice on how to handle the war in Vietnam.

Now if most of the people regarded as the best and the brightest at that time helped lead this country into one of the worst foreign and military policy periods in our countries history, imagine what the President’s aides, probably some of the worst and dumbest to serve, can do to us.

Saturday Night Live actually captured the problem with a segment (link below) with actor Bryan Cranston, reprising his role of Walter White from “Breaking Bad,” becoming the nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) illustrating that the Administration’s goal to put people who oppose these departments at the head of them.

It has become so bad with the Trump choices that most sane people are scared if Jeff “I never met an immigrant I liked” Sessions resigns as the Attorney General. Just who are among this cast of incompetents in or headed to the Trump Administration.

Betsy DeVos

This ultra-rightwing fanatic became our Secretary of Education despite promoting policies such as vouchers so religious schools can be partially subsidized with public monies. Since becoming the Secretary of Education (after a less than stellar performance at her confirmation hearings where she thought guns were needed in some schools to fight off grizzlies), she has been a champion for student loan companies who want to make the industry more profitable for them.

DeVos has also turned off people with her inattention to special education and civil rights. Walking out of a question and answer session with the Parkland High Students was not helpful either With no background in any sphere of public education, one has to ask, what is she doing there if not to undermine public education?

Scott Pruitt

Not a week goes by when there is not some controversy involving Scott Pruitt, the former anti-Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) Oklahoma Attorney General who, wait for it, became the head of the E.P.A.  Pruitt has fashioned himself as a cross between a Sun King and a mob figure between not allowing scientists to speak their mind about the environment, making environmental rules and regulations more business-friendly and wasting public monies on first-class travel (to avoid contact with the people), installing a new “Bat Phone-Cone of Silence” communication system, and increased security detail that most other cabinet heads do not get.

This is all while he had a very nice residential rental arrangement courtesy of lobbyists whose pipeline expansion he approved. Finally, his arrogant behavior displayed when he asks his motor entourage to blast sirens so he can arrive at events quicker make people wonder if Scottie needs to be beamed out of the E.P.A. at the earliest opportunity.

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