NYT Defends Incompetent VA, Hails 'Biblical Imperative' of Catholic Bishops, All to Oppose Trump

November 16th, 2016 5:30 PM

Whatever it takes. Wednesday’s New York Times saw the paper defending the incompetent Veterans Administration and praising “biblical imperatives,” all in the name of opposing Donald Trump. In “Harsh Critic of the V.A. May Become Its Leader,” by Dave Philipps, who often reports on the military, was a fierce defender of the corrupt and incompetent federal agency and picked the odd target of Rep. Jeff Miller, considered by Trump to run the agency.

The same day, religion reporter Laurie Goodstein took the biblical views of Catholic bishops seriously -- at least when they were criticizing Trump and calling for amnesty for illegals, two of the paper’s favorite hobbies.

Philipps portrayed Miller as an unqualified hack being advised by the suspiciously libertarian Koch brothers.

On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump savaged the Department of Veterans Affairs, calling it a “disaster” and “the most corrupt agency in the United States.” He vowed to fire many workers at the department in an effort to fix a health care system fraught with delays.

As he transitions to the White House, he has tapped the agency’s harshest critics to advise him.

Mr. Trump has said he is considering Representative Jeff Miller, Republican of Florida, to run the agency. As the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Mr. Miller has hounded the agency for failing to enact meaningful changes to cut wait times and fire workers who hid delays. If selected, he will be the first secretary of veterans affairs who has never served in the military.

Phillips found another reason to be very concerned: Koch Brothers!

The team is being advised on policy by members of Concerned Veterans for America, a small conservative advocacy organization that is linked to the free-market activists Charles G. and David H. Koch and has long supported privatizing veterans’ health care.

For years, Concerned Veterans for America, based in Washington, was on the fringe of the veteran world, generally shunned by traditional veterans organizations.

During the campaign, though, Mr. Trump echoed privatization policies put out by the group, telling crowds he would give all veterans a card to use with any private doctor who accepted Medicare.


The organization declined to say whether it was financed by the Koch brothers.

Mr. Miller, a former real estate agent and television weatherman, and one of the most conservative members of Congress, declined to comment, other than to issue a statement lauding Mr. Trump’s criticism of the agency.


Large veterans service organizations and a nonpartisan commission that examined the issue have been less than enthusiastic about the prospect of widespread use of outside doctors, warning that the high cost could siphon so much money from veterans hospitals that they would soon become dysfunctional.

So what are they now?

Others worry that Concerned Veterans for America may be less interested in improving health care than in proving a political point.

In paragraph 21, Phillips finally got to reasons why Trump may be criticizing the VA – because the organization deserves it?

Mr. Trump’s criticism of the health care system for veterans is driven in large part by problems at the agency and the slow pace of change under the Obama administration.

In President Obama’s first term, the hospital system, which treats about six million veterans annually, faced rapidly rising demand as Vietnam War veterans began using more services and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made millions of new veterans eligible. Long waits increased as some hospitals were unable to meet the demand.


His sometimes tense hearings have focused on failings of the agency’s 1,200 health care facilities, including long wait times, overuse of opiates, unsanitary conditions, and executives who dodged discipline and collected bonuses even as scandals unfolded.

Many V.A. employees and veterans acknowledged the system’s problems, but they said critics were cherry-picking negative stories that mischaracterized a health care system that studies had shown was as good as or better than private care.

Also on Wednesday, Laurie Goodstein took the biblical views of Catholic bishops seriously – at least when they were criticizing Trump and calling for amnesty for illegals, two of the paper’s favorite hobbies: “Catholic Bishops Challenge Trump’s Immigration Plans.” This from the same paper who dismisses religious abortion opponents as sexist relics.

Two nights after Donald J. Trump won the presidential election, Archbishop José H. Gomez convened an interfaith prayer service at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles and gave an emotional homily vowing not to abandon children and parents who are living in fear that Mr. Trump will follow through on his promise to deport millions of immigrants....Five days later, on Tuesday, Archbishop Gomez was elected by his brother bishops at their meeting in Baltimore to be vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops...

The choice of Archbishop Gomez was only one sign that Catholic bishops are preparing to defend immigrants and refugees against a newly elected president who has threatened deportations and who critics say has uncorked an ugly backlash against immigrants and minorities. They opened their meeting by endorsing a strongly worded letter to Mr. Trump that extended congratulations but also put him on notice that the church was committed to resettling refugees and keeping immigrant families intact.

“A lot of bishops told me they were surprised by the actual fear they were hearing on the ground,” said Dylan Corbett, the executive director of the Hope Border Institute, an advocacy group on United States-Mexico border issues. He formerly worked for the bishops’ conference and attended the meeting in Baltimore.

Goodstein blew right past “other priorities” (more politically conservative ones) of the bishops, like abortion and gay marriage, in a single paragraph, while elevating protecting illegals to “a biblical imperative.”

On many other priorities, the bishops may find common cause with Mr. Trump. They are eager to see him follow through with campaign promises to end or limit abortion, reverse the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act and create exemptions for religious people and institutions objecting to same-sex marriage.

However, the protection of immigrants is not only a biblical imperative for Catholic leaders but also a matter of pastoral care: More than one-third of American Catholics are now Latinos, and many others are immigrants from dozens of other countries. Latinos represent the future of the church: Sixty percent of Catholics in the United States younger than 18 are Latino, and 90 percent of them were born here.