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dog_barkingI was born in Limbaugh Land: Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I'm four years older than Rush, but the Limbaughs were face cards in that town long before he came along, and remain a powerful local dynasty today. One of them crunched my sister's car a few years back. There was no question of calling the police, not on a Limbaugh! Instead, they made a handshake deal and he quietly paid for repairs to my sister's car. Though I lived in Cape Girardeau for just two years (and those as a small child), and have only visited since, it is very much my home town. Two of my sisters live there, along with my father's second wife, augmented by the new sisters, brothers in law, nieces, and nephews who came with my father's second marriage. I love them all, and check in with them frequently.

Had my father and mother stayed in Cape, had I grown up there, I wonder how conservative I'd be today. Southeast Missouri is the heartland of the heartland. Cape, though it's a college town, didn't have an NPR station until sometime during the 1990s. Well, who knows? My father, who lived the second half of his life in Cape, was a lifelong member of the ACLU. Maybe I'd still be the person I am today; maybe not.

In any case, most of my Cape Girardeau family are deeply conservative.  What follows is a Facebook exchange between me and one of my favorite nieces, who goaded me into it by posting a link to an inflammatory right-wing blog post, a collection of bald-faced lies about Obama and gun control. We swapped comments for an hour or so yesterday morning, right up until I had to leave for a physical therapy appointment. Boy, was I energized when I got on the stationary bicycle!

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My last response, as you can see, is charitable to a fault. My niece's original post was a link to a highly suspect article. She didn't comment on it or ask any questions. Not until I responded did she claim her intention was only to ask if anyone had heard about vets being denied gun ownership rights. I made a tactical decision to play along with the pretense and keep peace in the family. I really do like this particular niece, in spite of her politics, and I enjoy arguing with her. I think she enjoys practicing her conservative swordplay on me, too.

In a previous post on my personal blog, I discussed Facebook users who repost or share graphics taken from Facebook hate pages, then try to claim that they only shared the material because they thought it was funny and didn't notice where it came from. Nonsense. When you share something from, say, the Impeach the Jungle Bunny page, the words Impeach the Jungle Bunny are right there at the top of your post, linked to the hate page itself. Unless you add a comment clearly stating you disagree with the source page, you're implicitly endorsing it, and your claims of innocence ring hollow. Similarly, when you post a link to an article on Facebook, unless you also add a comment stating you disagree with what the article says, you're endorsing it ... and your claims of innocence are just as hollow.

Clearly, my niece knew the article was bullshit. Clearly, she knew it was nothing more than a cheap shot at Obama. I think her motivations in posting it were wholly cynical: Here, fellow Limbaugh Landers, is another cheap shot at Obama; we know it's crap, but let's share it with all our friends and see if it sticks. To paraphrase a conservative figurehead's famous remark, a lie in the defense of the gun lobby is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of Obama is no virtue.

Serious question, though: do you know a veteran who has received such a letter?

Since the screen caps don't include active links, I'll add them here. The web site itself is The article my niece linked to, if you're curious enough to read it, is here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Re: Letter to veterans (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, freerad, Short Bus, marina

    I don't know any recipients of the letter, though the language is directly attributable to the VA (it's a Word document).  The letter is probably genuine, but the story gives short shrift to the process (described here):

    Generally, the first notice that VA has targeted a veteran for its "fiduciary program" is a letter stating that "We have received information showing the because of your disabilities you may need help handling your VA benefits."  The letter will then state that "We propose to rate you incompetent for VA purposes" or something similar.  This letter, the associated rating decision, and the proper response, is very important because a veteran receiving this notification has very important rights.  But, a veteran must act – and quickly – to preserve those rights.

    First, a veteran has a right to a hearing and a right to present evidence and argument regarding why the incompetency finding is incorrect.  VA will tell you (usually on the front page of the notice) that you have 60 days in which to respond.  This is true.  Somewhere later in the notice VA will tell you that if you submit a hearing request within 30 days, not only will you receive a personal hearing, but VA "will continue to send payments to you" until after the hearing and a decision is issued."  This is a critical difference.  If a veteran submits a hearing request along with his evidence and argument challenging the proposed finding more than 30 days after the date of the notice, VA will stop sending his VA benefit payments.

    Unless there is absolutely no question regarding a veteran's ability to handle his finances, a personal hearing should be requested, if only to keep VA paying benefits until the issue is resolved.

    Second, VA has the burden to establish a veteran's incompetency.  VA must have medical evidence, not just a rater's opinion, to support its decision.  VA must give a "presumption in favor of competency" absent evidence to the contrary.  See 38 C.F.R. § 3.353(d).  Further, the medical evidence that supports an incompetency decision must be "clear, convincing, and leaves no doubt as to" the purported incompetency.  Id. § 3.353(c).

    A veteran may challenge the sufficiency of the medical evidence VA relies upon to support an alleged inability to handle his or her funds.  Experience has shown that VA has relied upon a veteran's statement that "his spouse handles the bills" to propose (and find) that a veteran was incompetent.  Such statements, without more, should be challenged and VA made to produce, if it can, adequate medical evidence.

    I have a few concerns about leaving this matter to administrative law (though obviously the determination can be challenged in court), but those can largely be disposed of by ensuring timely resolution and covering costs for the respondents' expenses.  Also, the hearing should be opt-out, not opt-in.  Still, there no nefarious plot to disarm veterans.  The burden is on the VA to establish incompetency, the veteran enjoys a presumption of competence, and a determination to the contrary requires medical evidence (I don't know what the standard is, but it should be at least clear and convincing).

    This matter concerns a great deal more than simply Second Amendment rights.  Determination of competence is generally treated as a judicial matter, which imposes some practical hardship due to backed up caseloads.  It's tempting to presume in favor of an administrative finding of incompetence, but then again it's also tempting to put names on a terrorist watchlist.

    •  this is accurate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Patrick Costighan, marina

      the VA requires medical evidence from a physician that the veteran is not competent.  The veteran is provided an explanation of that medical evidence and given the right to dispute it or provide evidence to the contrary.  If the veteran really feels he is competent, it is as easy as having their physician submit a statement that says that - that is the end of it.  FWIW, a hearing doesn't really help that much unless they bring the physician with them as personal testimony doesn't carry the weight of the opinion of a physician.

      My wife works in a hospital (not VA) and regularly has to request competency evaluations of patients to determine if they are capable of making sound medical decisions.  It isn't some kind of nefarious plot the government came up with to grab guns from veterans.  It is normal part of the medical process for determining if a patient's POA needs to be activated (if they have one) or the beginning of guardianship process if they don't have a POA.

      There is a lot of misinformation from the niece above.  One, nobody is being made incompetent based on physical disabilities.  Having and amputation, a GSW, or a heart conditions has nothing to do with ones competency.  Nothing.  Also, being diagnosed with a psychological condition, even if very significant, does not make automatically make someone incompetent.  

      Also, the veteran has the option to request to be excluded from the firearms prohibition, even if they don't contest the competency determination itself.  A separate determination will be made to determine possible continued eligibility to maintain their firearms.

      Considering the GOP detachment from reality, I suppose it may be understandable that they are concerned about competency.

      The regs about incompentency determinations below:

      38 CFR 3.353

      §3.353 Determinations of incompetency and competency.  
      (a) Definition of mental incompetency. A mentally incompetent person is one who because of injury or disease lacks the mental capacity to contract or to manage his or her own affairs, including disbursement of funds without limitation.

      (b) Authority.

      (1) Rating agencies have sole authority to make official determinations of competency and incompetency for purposes of: insurance (38 U.S.C. 1922) and, subject to §13.56 of this chapter, disbursement of benefits. Such determinations are final and binding on field stations for these purposes.

      (2) Where the beneficiary is rated incompetent, the Veterans Service Center Manager will develop information as to the beneficiary's social, economic and industrial adjustment; appoint (or recommend appointment of) a fiduciary as provided in Sec. 13.55 of this chapter; select a method of disbursing payment as provided in Sec. 13.56 of this chapter, or in the case of a married beneficiary, appoint the beneficiary's spouse to receive payments as provided in Sec. 13.57 of this chapter; and authorize disbursement of the benefit.

      (3) If in the course of fulfilling the responsibilities assigned in paragraph (b)(2) the Veterans Services Officer develops evidence indicating that the beneficiary may be capable of administering the funds payable without limitation, he or she will refer that evidence to the rating agency with a statement as to his or her findings. The rating agency will consider this evidence, together with all other evidence of record, to determine whether its prior determination of incompetency should remain in effect. Reexamination may be requested as provided in §3.327(a) if necessary to properly evaluate the beneficiary's mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs.

      (c) Medical opinion. Unless the medical evidence is clear, convincing and leaves no doubt as to the person's incompetency, the rating agency will make no determination of incompetency without a definite expression regarding the question by the responsible medical authorities. Considerations of medical opinions will be in accordance with the principles in paragraph (a) of this section. Determinations relative to incompetency should be based upon all evidence of record and there should be a consistent relationship between the percentage of disability, facts relating to commitment or hospitalization and the holding of incompetency.

      (d) Presumption in favor of competency. Where reasonable doubt arises regarding a beneficiary's mental capacity to contract or to manage his or her own affairs, including the disbursement of funds without limitation, such doubt will be resolved in favor of competency (see §3.102 on reasonable doubt).

      (e) Due process. Whenever it is proposed to make an incompetency determination, the beneficiary will be notified of the proposed action and of the right to a hearing as provided in §3.103. Such notice is not necessary if the beneficiary has been declared incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction or if a guardian has been appointed for the beneficiary based upon a court finding of incompetency. If a hearing is requested it must be held prior to a rating decision of incompetency. Failure or refusal of the beneficiary after proper notice to request or cooperate in such a hearing will not preclude a rating decision based on the evidence of record. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a))

      •  Thanks to you, Short Bus, and Patrick Costighan (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Patrick Costighan

        ... in the previous comment, for the amplifying information. I looked only as far back as GWB in 2007; I should have done more research.

        •  more (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Patrick Costighan

          There is currently a RWNJ proposal to eliminate this VA procedure.  This procedure was a result of the 1968 Gun Control Act.  It isn't something Obama had anything to do with.

          from the Brady Campaign -

          Regulations implementing the Gun Control Act of 1968 bar gun possession by anyone who “[i]s a danger to himself or to others; or [l]acks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs” due to mental illness.6 The legislation would override standards used by the VA for nearly four decades to determine mental illness.7 Current federal law and VA procedures ensure that only seriously mentally ill persons are barred from gun possession:
          • Significant Medical Evidence Required – Evidence must be “clear, convincing and leave[] no doubt as to the person’s incompetency” or based on specific medical findings and show that the person “lacks the mental capacity to contract or to manage his or her own affairs.”8
          • High Burden of Proof – “Where reasonable doubt arises … such doubt will be resolved in favor of competency.”9
          • Due Process Protected – A person declared incompetent must receive notice and an opportunity for a hearing.10
          • Gun Possession Allowed if Competency Restored – Any person who regains competency may again possess firearms.
  •  putting "cynical" in front of "dog whistles" (0+ / 0-)

    is rather redundant (because, why else would this tactic be used otherwise?).

    Although I first read the title as cyclical dog whistles and clicked on the diary to see if there was a new product out there that I could buy to fuck with my neighbors dog whenever it wanders onto my lawn.   Which is like every 3 hours or so.

  •  if you engage re limbaugh try this: (0+ / 0-)

    when limbaugh spent weeks on the lead-up to the debt deadline telling his listeners that default would be fine and would cause obama to make the cuts they wanted, did he really believe it regardless of what most economist were saying about the damage worldwide, or was he lying just to push the teabaggers to the edge of default as a bargaining tactic? so how responsible is he for the sequester?

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:05:00 PM PST

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