Saturday, September 08, 2007

did he ever 'carve out time' for the troops?

Tip o' the hat to PZ at Pharyngula for this: the undersercretary for benefits at the VA thinks it's more important to study the Bible than do his job. Direct quote from a fundraising video he made for the evangelical group Christian Embassy, which carries out missionary work among the Washington elite as part of the Campus Crusade for Christ:
"it's not really about carving out time [for Bible study], it really is a matter of saying what is important. And since that's more important than doing the job -- the job's going to be there, whether I'm there or not."
More important than doing the job?

No matter who I am, if I hire someone, I don't want them thinking that studying the Bible (or anything) is more important than doing the job, so that they'll study the Bible instead of working.

And considering that
Since Cooper was appointed the head of the Veterans Benefits Administration, the number of veterans waiting on their disability claims has increased dramatically, from 325,000 in 2002 to 600,000 today.

On average, a U.S. war veteran must wait six months for an answer to their application. If a vet decides to appeal a denial, the process often drags on as long as three years.

In addition, Veterans Administration hospitals, clinics and counseling centres report that more than 52,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But under Cooper's leadership, only 19,000 of those veterans were approved for service-connected disability compensation for PTSD, a significant discrepancy.
I think that Cooper needs to be sent into a place - the unemployment line - where he can study the Bible to his heart's content. PZ suggests that "Maybe the job should go to an atheist, who won't have such otherworldly distractions keeping him away from the work of delivering benefits to veterans."

Yeah. Maybe it should. At the very least it needs to go to someone who thinks the job of taking care of our veterans is more important than reading his Bible. I've no objection to a Christian having the position if he thinks it's a job worth doing, and saves his religion for his own time. If he can't do that, perhaps he ought to become a preacher, or get a job that doesn't matter, or just stay unemployed. Because it's fundamentally dishonest to take a job - any job - and then not do it. And when the job is something like this - taking care of the people - the troops - that this administration, the administration that appointed Cooper, chews up in its insane battle against its perceived enemies, the troops that it accuses its domestic foes of "not supporting" - then it's worse than merely dishonest, or hypocritical.

It's the rot at the heart of this administration - this incarnation of the GOP, sired by Newt Gingrich and midwifed by Karl Rove - this faith-based, pious group that puts so much stock in appearing to be religious, and Good, and yet whose actions are anything but. They are all talk - family values, support the troops, secure the homeland - and yet they are the ones who solicit sex (sometimes from minors), slash VA budgets and send troops on ever longer and more frequent combat tours in support of an ill-defined goal, and funnel spending to select companies and high-profile sites, playing on fears (especially of immigrants) while ignoring genuine vulnerabilities such as our ports and genuine disasters such as hurricanes.

And they clothe this in piety and religious talk. But what kind of religion actually privileges studying "holy texts" above caring for the living? What kind of person does that? If that is indeed what Cooper's religion - shared by so many in this administration - calls for, then that's fine. Let him be that sort of man and worship that sort of god. Just don't put him - any of them - into positions of power in the government.

It would be nice if the next time some candidate for office began carrying on about his "faith" someone were to ask him if his faith is more important to him than "the job". Such a focus on faith should disqualify him from holding any secular office.

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At 2:05 PM, September 16, 2007 Blogger vjack had this to say...

Excellent post! I agree completely that any candidate touting faith should be expected to answer the question of whether they will put it above doing their job.


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