Bloggers on the latest in the Walter Reed scandal.

Bloggers on the latest in the Walter Reed scandal.

Bloggers on the latest in the Walter Reed scandal.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 2 2007 3:58 PM

General Malaise

Bloggers reject the new management at Walter Reed. They also get depressed about a study that says the National Guard is woefully underequipped and ask how you can "ban" a racial slur in New York City.

General malaise: President Bush has ordered a bipartisan panel to investigate the horrible conditions and incompetent care first exposed by the Washington Post [note: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.] at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed off on the firing of Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who had overseen the facility, but bloggers question the merit of his replacement, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, who ran Walter Reed once before.

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Liberal Steven Benan at The Carpetbagger Report is glad to see a scandal yielding swift results, only he wishes the results weren't so scandalous: "At first I thought this was somebody's poor attempt at humor. Literally yesterday, on the front page of the Washington Post, we learned that Kiley, who was head of Walter Reed through 2004, heard complaints from troops, their families, veterans' advocates, and even a member of Congress about the awful treatment of the veterans, but he chose to do nothing. Kiley lived right across the street from Building 18, where war wounded were 'housed among mice, mold, rot and cockroaches,' but apparently didn't cross the street often."

John Aravosis at lefty AMERICAblog fumes: "This is a guy who only one week ago implied that the problems at Walter Reed were nothing more than a pack of lies. So he's the guy now in charge of fixing the non-existent problems."

At In From the Cold, "Spook86," a former member of the U.S. intelligence community, asks: "Was General Weightman a scapegoat for facility problems and management issues that began before his watch? The answer to that question is probably a qualified 'yes,' with the understanding that (a) if serious problems are discovered during your tenure, the guy with the stars is the first to get the axe, and (b) General Weightman, despite his considerable skills as a physician and administrator, appeared to be either blind or tone-deaf during his last tour at Walter Reed. Decrepit living conditions at Building 18 apparently did not improve during his tenure; [and] bureaucratic snafus remained a serious problem."

True Blue Liberal Sherwood Ross hopes the current crisis doesn't distract from the success of the separate VA hospital system: "[V]ets commonly get lengthy, head-to-toe annual check-ups and, when indicated, tests utilizing the latest technologies. The VA has a sterling, 99.9%-plus accuracy record for filling prescriptions. ... Things at VA hospitals weren't always this way. VA underwent a dramatic makeover starting around 1995 under the Clinton administration's Dr. Kenneth Kizer, VA's health undersecretary."

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Read more about the latest on Walter Reed. In Slate, Timothy Noah praises the VA system, and Phillip Carter says we need more generals like Patton to overcome bureaucratic messes like the Walter Reed fiasco.

Don't call out the National Guard: A new report concludes that the National Guard and Army Reserve are suffering from a funds shortage and a lack of equipment: 88 percent of National Guard units are apparently not viable for deployment. Bloggers aren't surprised.

At Signaleer, National Guardsman RTO Trainer writes: "[A]s an Oklahoma Guardsman … let me say that if called, we will go. It's just how it is. Some are looking forward to it. Some are looking for a loophole. Some dread the very idea. But go we will, if it even happens, which is not yet a certainty. … 80% of those of us here didn't have to deploy this time, but we volunteered to do so, because servicemen serve."

Lee at Right-Thinking from the Left Coast wonders: "What have we spent billions of dollars on lately that we really don't need to have been spending billions of dollars on? That prescription drug entitlement for seniors might be a good start. You know those billions which mysteriously disappeared in Iraq? How about those? Perhaps the mission to Mars? Hell, I don't know, we could come up with a list of a thousand things."

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New York financial executive The Cunning Realist warns: "When the next natural or man-made disaster hits and thousands of people go without food and water for days (or worse), send the link to anyone shameless enough to claim that 'no one could have predicted this' or 'Iraq was not a factor' in our inability to respond to domestic emergencies."

Read more about National Guard shortages.

The N-word: New York's city council has banned the word nigger in a symbolic gesture to stop the profligate use of the term by, among others, urban black youths who say they've reclaimed it as an ironic epithet of pride, not racism.

Brooklynite Kevin Keating of frivolous motion writes: "Now, I don't want to come across as too insensitive this morning, but aren't there plenty of other things that African-American and other civil rights leaders should be worrying about? [W]hat exactly is this ban doing except wasting time and money to do something that will make a few old people happy, with no effect on anything else?"

At C.a.r.d, the blog of Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, one poster wants to know: "Is it racist for New York City to single out one racial slur and turn a blind eye to all the others? Is this constitutional? Is this the first steps of eroding free speech in America?"

Read more about the NYC N-word ban.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.