The Dead go Unburied

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This Memorial Day, the bodies of 28 military veterans are to be laid to rest after almost of year at the L.A. County Morgue in California. As blame is passed around and whilst the Veterans Administration is grappling with one of its most significant scandals in its history, the 28 veterans are now, finally, scheduled for burial.

Ostensibly, the VA has said that they “were never notified the bodies were processed and ready to be buried,” according to a CBS Los Angeles report. The LA County Morgue, however, released a statement saying, “…there are about 60 decedents of probable veteran status that have awaited disposition for about a year as a result of a personnel change in the Veterans Affairs office and stringent identification/eligibility processes required by the VA.”

Still reeling from a string of hospital scandals, a VA spokesman shot back that “There’s personnel changes every day but that certainly doesn’t take away from the service that we provide any veteran.” In any event, in a process that is reported to take about three days to complete, a year is beyond the pale of decency and respect for any veteran.

Nevertheless, reading this story, I couldn’t help but apply this instance into the larger mosaic of American political life. In what seems to be a Spring of Discontent, one cannot help but at least entertain the thought that perhaps something is quite wrong with the way things are going at home.

I do not mean to assign blame for this travesty on President Obama, nor do I think he deserves blame for the larger VA scandal unfolding every day. At the same time though, this particular neglect of America’s veterans, her protectors, seems to be emblematic of the way American political elites and those in power regard American strength and exceptionalism.

I call it the Spring of Discontent because over the past few months, Americans have been berated on an ongoing basis of more evidence that America seems to be retreating from the world. Never mind isolationism, if it is indeed true that we seem to be retreating from the world stage on issues like Ukraine and Iran, to China and losing our economic superiority to them, what is the difference between a de facto isolationism and an official policy enshrining it into law?

Last month, few Americans rejoiced when the current administration cowardly decided not to make a decision on the Keystone oil pipeline because it was afraid of angering the environmental segment of the Democratic party. Instead of having the courage and backbone to stand up in the face of aggressive environmental lobbying, the administration refused to fight for something which would create countless jobs and billions of dollars in revenue (and taxes mind you).

This month, few Americans rejoiced when President Obama, on his tour of Asia, tried to frame America’s current foreign policy successes as “hitting singles and doubles”. Yes, Mr. President, thank you so much for improving our relationship with Micronesia which you sighted in your answer. Americans can sleep easier knowing Micronesia has our back.  At a time when Russia might invade Ukraine and spark a European crisis or when Iran threatens the Middle East, it’s batting singles like that which count…

At home, we are on the precipice of beginning yet another “summer of economic recovery” according to the administration. Perhaps unemployment statistics are the lowest level they have been since the Great Recession, but talking with average Americans, one could easily miss that bit of information. The stock market may be at some of the highest levels that it’s ever been but for those millions of us who don’t own thousands of shares in stock, it’s little comfort at night.

Now, we are greeted once more by that weird uncle who never knows when to leave, our friend government incompetence–i.e., the VA–has arrived. As candidate Obama, he touted the successes of the VA healthcare system and that it ought to be a model for the country. Now, the VA has shown its true colours: unaccountable, inefficient, lazy, and downright disgraceful for the way they treated America’s heroes.

The ugly Marxist monster has reared its head once more in the form of government bureaucracy. The current political climate which wishes to directly nationalise companies like GM and others which are too big to fail also wish to indirectly nationalise various other segments of the economy by using its powers of regulation to constrain.

Perhaps it is simply a case where people like to complain. Perhaps things are getting better at home. Perhaps the economy is slowly getting better and that America is stronger and more respected now than before. Perhaps we’re just the ones who are too thick to see it. Nevertheless, at least in this case–for those 28 brave patriots–the dead go unburied.

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