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1:00 PM -- The mephitic stench of corruption rises ceaselessly from the banks of the Potomac. This repugnant news from yesterday's AP wire:

    Nearly two dozen officials who received hefty performance bonuses last year at the Veterans Affairs Department also sat on the boards charged with recommending the payments.

    Documents obtained by The Associated Press raise questions of conflicts of interest or appearances of conflicts in connection with the bonuses, some of which went to senior officials involved in crafting a budget that came up $1.3 billion short and jeopardized veterans' health care.

    The documents show that 21 of 32 officials who were members of VA performance review boards received more than half a million dollars in payments themselves.

    Among them: nearly a dozen senior officials who devised the flawed 2005 budget. Also rewarded was the deputy undersecretary for benefits, who manages a system with severe backlogs of veterans waiting for disability benefits...

    Following reports this month by the AP of the $3.8 million in bonuses, groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have called on [VA Secretary Jim] Nicholson to explain why officials involved in budget foul-ups would be rewarded.

    Annual bonuses to senior VA officials last year averaged more than $16,000, the highest average in government.
The VA "has defended the bonuses as necessary to retain hardworking senior employees."

Hey, public service has its percs. But here's a better idea: Let's reward everyone of these goddam "hardworking senior employees" with a nice, long sabbatical -- in Anbar Province.

— Larry, Attack Monkey, Light Reading

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