With the sweet, reverent chords of Memorial Day still lingering I was shocked by the recent revelations that the Veterans Administration, under the leadership of President Barack Obama is so backlogged, that over 600,000 veterans, many wounded and disabled, are unable to collect the benefits owed to them.
The President cites the Sequestration cuts. But in the budget battles of Washington, D.C., are our troops being used as political pawns in an epic partisan blame-game?
This week I sat down with famed actor and pro-troop activist Ken Wahl to discuss a disturbing trend.
Gary Graham: Ken, it was bad enough hearing rumors of voter suppression of our military in the last election, but now … 600 thousand vets backlogged to receive their benefits?
Ken Wahl: It’s outrageous.
Graham: In light of the facts emerging about the IRS abuses and wasting money and targeting certain groups based on their values and political views … I’m wondering if this isn’t all due to the fact that the majority of service members tend to lean right of center.
Wahl: It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. I mean, it’s not just this backlog thing in and of itself. When you combine all these [scandals] going on … Benghazi …the A.P. … and the I.R.S. … all these things, put together … you gotta be kidding me. I mean, one of the things Obama ran on was that he was going to take care of the Veterans. And the budget for the Veterans Administration rose 40 percent–yet the backlog just continues to sky-rocket. So … I’ve just taken to Twitter and got on and will talk to anyone who will listen about this. It’s beyond unfair … it’s downright shameful.
Graham: It is shameful. The average wait for a Veteran, once he files his claim, to get an answer is 273 days.
Wahl: Right, I just read that myself … and in a lot of cases, much longer–depending on what state you’re in. I think it was New York or Massachusetts, I think, in which the average wait was almost 400 days. Well over a year. It’s just gotten out of control. And [the condition] is not improving, it’s just getting worse.
Graham: It doesn’t appear to be a priority on the President’s ‘to-do’ list.
Wahl: Gary, I think it’s beyond not being a priority. I think it’s so obvious, that with the ‘Sequester cuts’… Obama is trying to cause the most pain possible. You see him in private, thinking, then saying to his staff…
Graham: This will show them …
Wahl: Yeah. You want cuts? I’ll give you cuts!
Graham: From closing down the White House tours for tourists and school children to prematurely releasing thousands of violent criminal illegals onto our streets …” yeah, we just don’t have the funds to hold them … so …”
Wahl: Wherever you are on the political spectrum–Left, Right or Center–everybody knows that government waste is rampant throughout the Federal government. So you mean to tell me that of all the things that you could possibly cut–you couldn’t find anything else to cut before cutting [the benefits to our servicemen and women]? And then when I heard … to add insult to injury … they are reducing the troops’ hot meals! Heard about this one?
Graham: Yes, where they’re cutting back hot meals and having them eat MRE’s…?
Wahl: Meals Ready to Eat, the foil pouch where they pour the water in..?
Graham: Chicken a la Poop.
Wahl: I’ve talked to so many of the guys who write to me and say, “Yeah man–and that hot meal is the one thing we have to look forward to over there…” So I’m shoutin’ this out for anybody who’d care to listen. I mean, [even in our prisons] ya gotta treat prisoners well, right? And give them good meals? You give the illegal aliens food stamps, for Christ sake! And yet you take the hot meals away from our troops? The guys that are defending us? I mean, I’m ready to fuckin’ jump out the window I was so angry about this … find me something to punch! It’s gotten so out of hand … the thing you take away [to save money] is the fighting men’s meals? Are you fucking kidding me?
Graham: It’s a disgrace, Ken.
Wahl: You call it a disgrace, I say it’s an insult to disgraces … it’s a travesty, it’s tragic, it’s disgusting. I wrote about it in a tweet … and I’m usually good about not making them all about how I feel–it’s about how many people feel. But on this one I couldn’t resist.
Graham: You gotta unload, man … and in 140 characters…
Wahl: On this one, directed right at Obama, I said, “You sicken me. That you’d take away hot meals from our fighting men–the food from their mouths!”
Graham: It is time to get personal. We can demand that he fires [VA Secretary, Eric] Shinseki … and we can hammer down on the head of the IRS, or their Spokesmen, or the Secretary of State … but Mr. Obama is very good at pretending he’s not in charge when things go awry. When things go well, he’s there to take credit and be worshiped, but whenever anything goes bad–he wasn’t there and he don’t know nothin’.
Wahl: You want proof that this government is too big? This government is so vast … that nobody in it knows anything that’s going on! And it’s one thing after the other, after the other. It just keeps piling on. This has got to stop.
Graham: (Sardonic) Well, they need more of your tax money to build the government bigger to keep track of everything.
Wahl: And while we’re at it, let’s hire 16,000 new IRS agents to handle Obamacare! That’s gonna go reeeeaally smoothly.
Graham: Really smoothly, it’s gonna be a dream. (laughs)
Wahl: There are some silver linings … and one is that all these scandals had broken very early in [Obama’s] second term. And I think because of that, it’s going to neutralize to a great degree his power, whether real or perceived. Because a lot on the Left are even deserting him now … and they’re looking to 2016.
Graham: The press! The press is bailing.
Wahl: Well the press, as we all know, has been in Obama’s pocket.
Graham: Absolutely … but now they’re likewise insulted.
Wahl: He went after them! They’re like, Man all we’ve done is kiss your rump for the last seven years, and now you turn on us? Biting the hand that feeds them … So I have no respect for the press, cuz … now they’re doing their job but only cuz they’ve been turned on, too. If they hadn’t been, they’d still be right behind him, defending everything that he does. Like before that A.P. scandal broke he could do no wrong.
Graham: The A.P. scandal … and the persecution of James Rosen at Fox News … gifts from Heaven.
Wahl: And now that (Sen. Frank) Lautenberg has died, (N.J. Gov.) Chris Christie will appoint probably a Republican to replace him … it’ll just be in the interim until they hold elections, but every little bit helps. And don’t forget–I’ve mentioned this before, I think the first time we talked–I’m not a Republican. I’m an Independent, but a Conservative. So I have no skin in the game as far as the Republican party … but if I were forced to choose, I’d probably go Republican. Although there’s a lot of things that they’re doing that I’m not thrilled with.
Graham: Independent, huh?
Wahl: It wasn’t the Declaration of Republicans … or the Declaration of Democrats … it was the Declaration of Independents … only with a ‘c-e’ instead of a ‘t-s.’
Graham: (laughs) Thanks for setting me straight.
Wahl: It wasn’t so much for you, as for your faithful leaders.
Graham: Cool beans. So–how do you see this shaking out … with the I.R.S. … Benghazi … the A.P.–over the next six months? Do you think the I.R.S. house-of-cards is starting to tumble, and it’s going to be the giant billboard on the freeway that says, “Ya know what? Your Big Government sucks–cuz no one trusts you anymore?”
Wahl: I keep vacillating on this because the wild card in all of this … is the damn media. I hear a lot of these pundits comparing these scandals to Watergate. But during Watergate … the press really did their job. And Obama and his people were only able to get away with all these things because the press allowed it. The freedom of the press … thinking back on our Founding Fathers … the whole First Amendment was so that the press could say what they want–and they were supposed to be our first line of defense against a tyrannical government–and they have completely failed us.
Graham: And that they could speak freely with impunity–and didn’t have to fear retribution.
Wahl: And [the press] has utterly, utterly failed us. No leader’s deeds are as heinous as [those of] the media that looks the other way while he’s doing them. So the greater evil in all this is not so much Obama … especially for those of us who knew what his deal was, going in … he said it himself that he wanted to ‘fundamentally change America’ … and I took him at his word.
Graham: And he even said blatantly, “We’re going to punish our [political] enemies.”
Wahl: Right, and that’s why I keep vacillating. To answer your question, six months down the line … If the press keeps that chill you speak of, then Yes–it’s the house of cards crumbling. But if this is just a lover’s spat … and they make up and everything’s fine again … then we’re in trouble.
Graham: I think, had it been just one scandal … Obama could weather the storm. But he’s bitten off more scandals than he can chew … than he can defend against. He’s going to be overwhelmed. The biggest one trending now is the I.R.S. But I think, once they continue to dig for information, and the truth is revealed, the most damning scandal will be Benghazi.
Wahl: I agree, the combined scandals will become too much for the administration to bear. So naturally, they’re trying to split them up, and divert attention from them. As far as the people go, it still has a lot to do with how the press handles it. If they get back into any kind of cushy arrangement with the press again … that concerns me.
Graham: Well, I think that the first harbinger of their doom is that they lost their chase rabbit. They lost the Jesters. The comedians … the funny people. They’re starting to turn on them. The ones who are always in the bag for them.
Wahl: Somebody sent me the clip, where Jon Stewart just went off on him. But like I said – is that a ‘one-of’ deal? Or will it continue throughout? I don’t want to have any hubris about it, or get cocky … don’t want to become complacent.
Graham: Eventually, though, Obama is going to run out of people to blame. And I don’t want him ever to start eliciting empathy from those feeling sorry for ‘the poor, put-upon president.’ Even though he’s engineered all of this from the start, and should take total blame, I don’t want him to turn around and start playing victim. As I think he will.
Wahl: Of course he will. If they think it’ll benefit him, of course they will. Will the people go for it … or not? I mean, you wouldn’t believe how many people, still, screaming at me through Twitter, defending him, to the death. And I think, ‘you gotta be kidding me!’ You don’t have a brain in your head! How can you still defend this guy? I mean, even if you’re on the Left. There are other people on the Left. Why do you gotta still defend this guy? He’s on his way out–you gotta see that. What would he have to do for you not to defend him? Does he actually have to go out and kill children or something? It’s just unbelievable.
Graham: But then, of course, the video would’ve been … ‘doctored’.
Wahl: Yeah! Of course. But it’s mind-boggling to me that they will defend … I mean I wish I had a friend like some of these people are with Obama. Talk about ‘unconditional love!’
Graham: Yeah … Lay down your life, lay down everything!
Wahl: But I agree with you, the weight of all this could bring him down, it could tilt the balance in our favor, but let’s not get complacent. Between him and Valerie Jarrett and Dave Plouffe they’ve got plenty of things up their sleeves that we’ll see when we get closer to mid-terms.
Graham: They’ll pull out all the stops. I’m convinced this man will stop at absolutely nothing to not only maintain his power, but his relevance.
Wahl: Absolutely. Because we’ve got 17 months now until the midterms. Sound like a long time, but it’s not, as we know. Obviously, they’ll be gearing up pretty soon. When they hit the one-year-out mark, that’s when they really get the machinery going.
Graham: And I truly believe that getting Obamacare going–and all his other programs that he wants to get passed in his remaining years as President–are all just supporting his main goal, his main desire, the most important thing in the world to him … his legacy.
Wahl: I can almost see his thought process that, “Here I am, I’m the first black president of the United States of America.” Yeah … The Legacy. But he doesn’t care about America, he doesn’t care about the troops, he doesn’t even care about his own people.
Graham: I think that the ‘race card’ … which was prevalent in first getting him elected, and then that they kept playing for four years … I think we haven’t even begun to see them play the race card yet.
Wahl: Not when it gets closer to the election.
Graham: We just want to get the truth out. We don’t want to necessarily bring anybody down or accuse anybody or see anyone arrested. Let’s have the facts. Let us know what really happened. We just want all those people who are obstructing the truth from coming out … we want to appeal to them–to bring out The Truth.
Wahl: Above and beyond that–I want an American government that’s like and American government. I want a President … not an Emperor.