Bruyea, Veterans Affairs, and Canadian Democracy: Time to Go “Batsh!t Crazy”

by matttbastard

Tuesday’s  revelation that Sean Bruyea, a vocal critic of Veterans Affairs had his private medical records deliberately compromised by bureacrats in a brazen attempt to discredit his legitimate, extensive complaints about systemic deficiencies within the department has struck a nerve among Canadians across the nation. Rick Mercer’s tweet from yesterday morning succinctly sums up the outrage:

“Bat-shit crazy”? Canadians should be spitting mad — and appropriately chastened by the sobering realization that what happened to Bruyea could happen to any one of us. Add the steamrolling of civil liberties that occurred during the G20 summit in Toronto, and you have a Canadian government that, for all intents and purposes, is acting as if the citizenry represent a hostile entity, simply for the crime of expressing dissent.

In short, once again it seems all too apparent our elected representatives no longer believe that they should answer to the people.

In this specific instance, the naked disregard for personal privacy is unconscionable. The Privacy Commissioner should immediately investigate, and heads must roll, no matter how high up the food chain. But, in broader context, we see yet another example of the contemptuous culture of impunity among the political class that currently reigns supreme in Ottawa, perfectly encapsulated by the arbitrary way the PMO keeps the civil service under heel, and the disrespectful manner in which our Members of Parliament conduct themselves during Question Period.

Hard to defend the virtues of Canadian parliamentary democracy when our leaders act as if they are completely entitled to run roughshod over the people they deign to serve.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Got Somethin’ Stickin’ In My Eye

by matttbastard

The Washington Post reports today that (forcedly) retired General Eric Shinseki has been tapped by President-elect Obama to lead Veterans Affairs:

Shinseki, a 38-year veteran, is best known for his four years as Army chief of staff, and in particular his response to congressional questioning in February 2003 about troop levels necessary to protect a presumed military victory in Iraq.

Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” could be necessary, an assessment that was at odds with the announced determination of Pentagon leaders.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reacted by telling reporters that Shinseki’s estimate “will prove to be high,” and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz called the assessment “way off the mark.”

Three years later, Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command and the chief architect of U.S. military strategy in Iraq, told the same Senate committee, “General Shinseki was right.”

James Fallows calls the pick “karmic justice”, while Booman says that after frustrating Democratic partisans with his conciliatory gestures to the outgoing presidency, “Obama has finally delivered a finger-in-the-eye moment to the Bush administration.”  Regardless, Shinseki is an excellent choice.  As Jonathan Singer puts it:

If Shinseki brings the type of focus and willingness to speak truth to power to the Veterans Affairs that he did to the military, he is going to make a real positive difference in the lives of those who greatly deserve better treatment from our government and be a very solid addition to Barack Obama’s cabinet.

Indeed.  Plus, it’s nice to finally see someone in Washington getting rewarded for being, um, right about something–especially after getting forced out of his position as Army chief of staff for choosing integrity over short-term self interest.  And, as Fallows (who wrote about Shinseki extensively for both the article and subsequent book Blind into Baghdad) reveals, “[d]espite being unfairly treated, despite being 100% vindicated by subsequent events, Shinseki kept his grievances entirely to himself.”

A finger in the eye?

Maybe.

Karmic justice?

You betcha.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers