Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Story You Won't Read In The United States: The Trauma of Warfare

The executive director of Combat Stress, Toby Elliott, takes it as a warning that the charity is already treating so many veterans of an ongoing war.

"It takes an average of 14 to 15 years for a regular soldier to seek help," he says, adding that many more veterans are likely to find themselves experiencing Iraq-related PTSD in the coming decades.

But, he adds, there are powerful reasons for soldiers not to admit they are having mental health problems - doing so could jeopardise their careers.

"You know bloody well that if you say you are feeling wobbly in the head, the first thing is that they will take your rifle away from you," he says.

"Even if you are retained, you probably won't get promoted."

That's from the UK, which hasn't been in a war since the Falkland Islands conflict and not in a major war since World War II.

And unlike in the United States, where a generation of Vietnam veterans introduced the notion of PTSD to the general populace, there is still suspicion of the concept in the UK, not least among soldiers.

Which brings me to my point today. While the US armed forces and the mental health community are acutely aware of PTSD, and Vietnam veterans had a much harder time of it because not only were they in combat but the support system at home was non-existent for many veterans, the Iraqi vets aren't going to have it a whole lot easier.

In addition, the study on posttraumatic stress disorder found that the percentage of troops suffering from PTSD increased by between 7-10% after deployment to Iraq, which would represent 25,000 to 35,000 initial periodcases of PTSD among the roughly 350,000 U.S. troops who have served in Iraq.
That's as of July of 2005. That's nearly half the number of fatalities we had in Vietnam.

Why will this war be a challenge to the mental health of so many soldiers?

Simple. It's an unpopular war in which Americans are killing Iraqis by the thousands, much like in Vietnam. We were led into the war under false pretenses, so the responsibility for those deaths has shifted from a just cause (fighting terrorism, stopping a WMD from being launched at America) to one that is much ore nuanced (removing a dictator from power).

When a soldier questions his rationale for being in a combat zone, that soldier will call into question his own motives for serving. Even in a forced recycling such as we've seen in the Guard and Reserve troops sent to Iraq, the slender justifications for fighting are peeling away as each day's bad news....more American dead, undercover psyops involving shooting people supposedly on our side by British troops dressed as civilians...piles on.

The trouble with PTSD, as indicated above, is the length of time it takes for it to surface. You can be walking around normally one day and then something happens to trigger an emotional flood that you cannot control any longer. It comes out.

I've been there. I know what it's like. Fortunately, I had the strength and help I needed to fight back and understand it. (To be clear, I did not suffer from combat PTSD, but the mental health community doesn't make that fine a distinction in how you get it.)

But many of these soldiers do not and will never. Mental health is considered a "dark art", something reserved for pedophiles and other criminals, when in fact, it should be part of an annual health check-up. Society deems mental health disorders on the level of AIDS or the Ebola virus, something to be avoided at all costs.

Vietnam vets who suffered from "shell shock" ended up homeless, drug addicts, criminals, divorced, isolated, suicidal, psychotic, and irrational. Not all, but enough that it became an issue in this country, and is the only mental health condition that the government will pay to treat a veteran for.

That's how important it is.

An entire generation of young men (and now women) are fighting and dying for a cause that many of them don't understand and will carry the burden of having killed or maimed for an amorphous cause for the rest of their lives. Many of them will die at their own hands as the horrors of war, the ones our President refuses to let us see on the TV, inculcate themselves deep into their psyches like a ticking timebomb.

And when they go out!
tags technorati :

Well, gee, here's a surprise....

You are a

Social Liberal
(71% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(28% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

The Strange Story of Abdul Amir Hussein

Thnk It Can't Happen Here?

The latest twist in the case came earlier this week. Back in July -- already three months after his arrest -- Hussein was scheduled to have his case heard by the Combined Review and Release Board, a panel made up of American military officials and Iraqi government officials. In preparation for the hearing, CBS News submitted evidence it had gathered supporting Hussein's innocence. But the hearing was abruptly cancelled and his case turned over to Iraqi criminal authorities. They in turn reviewed the case and, in late August, declined to prosecute him.

Once again we see that Iraqi authorities are sovereign only as long as they agree with the Americans actually in charge. This time they didn't agree, so instead of releasing him, the military kept him in jail claiming it had access to classified information the Iraqi authorities didn't. Another hearing with the CRRB was set for September 22. But on September 12, CBS News was informed that the hearing had already been held -- without Hussein, his lawyer, or anyone from CBS News in attendance. Then, on Tuesday, came word that the CRRB had decided to keep Hussein in jail, with no review of his case for another six months.

Arianna refers to this as "Kafkaesque". Franz Kafka was a Polish writer (curiously, he wrote in German) who specialized in bizarre commentary on the human condition in such masterpieces as "Metamorphosis" (A mild mannered clerk wakes up one morning transformed into a cockroach) and "The Trial" (a satire of bureaucracy....see if you can find the Orson Welles film).

Kafka talks about the inevitable hopeless of the individual as a being in a social order over which he exerts little influence or control.

Sound familiar?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Asshole of the Year: 2005

Guess who?

For Those Going to Tomorrow's DC Protest

Please do take care when confronted by the brownshirts

I unfortunately have a previous engagement with the American Littoral Society

Neal Boortz: Dumber'n Dirt

Spinning Neal Boortz

Yesterday the "progressive" Media Matters types seemed to be quite exercised over a reference I made to the death tax and Karl Marx on Monday night's Hannity & Colmes. Media Matters says that I referred to proponents of the death (estate) tax as "followers of Karl Marx." OK .. .here's the transcript from that Monday night Hannity & Colmes program. I lifted it off the Media Matters website, so they can't say that I'm making this up. Here's the exchange between Alan Colmes and myself:

COLMES: So they should not have -- are you in favor of tax cuts? You want to have more tax cuts at a time -- you want to cut the state taxes at a time when they're still struggling to pay for it and help the rich? Is that what you want to do?

SEAN HANNITY (co-host): Absolutely.

BOORTZ: As much -- as much as it disturbs the followers of Karl Marx, yes, I want the death tax over with.

COLMES: I'm a Marxist now, I see. OK.
(emphases mine)

Does Boortz realize how stupid he just made himself look? Even Alan Colmes said it at the time, that Boortz is saying that supporters of the estate tax (it doesn't tax the dead, idiot, just their money) are Marxists!

But not good enough for Boortz, who goes on:

Not that it really matters to Media Matters, but here we have them cold engaging in a bit of rhetorical dishonesty. I most certainly did not say that those who supported the death tax were followers of Karl Marx. What I did allude to was the fact that followers of Karl Marx would also support the death tax and that Marxists would most certainly be upset if the death tax were to be repealed.

One wonders at the abject stupidity of those on the right who claim to be "pundits". Second, the hairsplitting way in which Boortz tries to defend (unsuccessfully) his comments speaks volumes about the fact that he knew he'd been caught in a lie, knew he had just insulted an entire subset of the country, and was trying desperately to be diplomatic.

Kinda like calling a black man "nigger" and then explaining it away by saying "but you ain't that bad a one."

Is "Bianca" Bush's Rosebud? - QT - WMP

What a mysterious little moment at the press conference yesterday. Bush struggles mightily to call on a reporter named "Bianca" in the press room, but there isn't one.

Never has been one.

Now, we know that the President is coached carefully on whom to call on for softball questions, and it's up to him to decide if he'll follow his handlers' advice (and Bush has been nothing if not totally in their thrall to this point), but someone goofed up big time this time.

One wonders if this has anything to do with his drinking problem?

Or is "Bianca" merely Bush's "Rosebud"?
Female reporter: If you could've found out what Rosebud meant, I bet that would've explained everything.
Thompson: No, I don't think so; no. Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn't have explained anything... I don't think any word can explain a man's life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a... piece in a jigsaw puzzle... a missing piece.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Could This Be Tom Delay's Downfall?

Abramoff Probe May Threaten Leading Republicans as It Expands

This week's arrest of David Safavian, the former head of procurement at the Office of Management and Budget, in connection with a land deal involving Abramoff brings the probe to the White House for the first time.

Safavian once worked with Abramoff at one lobbying firm and was a partner of Grover Norquist, a national Republican strategist with close ties to the White House, at another. Safavian traveled to Scotland in 2002 with Abramoff, Representative Robert Ney of Ohio and another top Republican organizer, Ralph Reed, southeast regional head of President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who once called Abramoff ``one of my closest and dearest friends,'' already figures prominently in the investigation of the lobbyist's links to Republicans. The probe may singe other lawmakers with ties to Abramoff, such as Republican Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, as well as Ney.

``These people all shared transactions together,'' said former House Democratic counsel Stan Brand, now a partner in the Washington-based Brand Law Group. ``That's always something that worries defense lawyers.''

It Must Be True, Cuz I Read It In The Enquirer

Interesting point:

Bush is an unrecovered alcoholic. He's never been in treatment and swears he kicked the habit by finding God.

God...Republicans pray for solutions.

Dr. Justin Frank, a Washington D.C. psychiatrist and author of Bush On The Couch: Inside The Mind Of The President, told The National Enquirer: "I do think that Bush is drinking again. Alcoholics who are not in any program, like the President, have a hard time when stress gets to be great.

"I think it's a concern that Bush disappears during times of stress. He spends so much time on his ranch. It's very frightening."

I Wonder What Roberts Has On Bush

I mean, if this is true, and they had to know this would get out, you wonder how Roberts was still nominated, not just to the SCOTUS, but to Chief Justice.

There's no dispute that chief justice nominee John Roberts met with high-level White House officials while his appellate court was considering a case of enormous importance to the Bush administration, on the president's power to try battlefield captives and foreign terror suspects before military commissions.

There is considerable dispute, among legal ethics experts as well as supporters and opponents of Roberts, about whether his contacts amounted to a conflict of interest that should have disqualified him from the case.

What I find interesting is that, in a case like this, tradition holds that a judge recuse himself. And we know this topic is going to come up again and again as we battle extremism, or whatever the Bushies are calling the crusade on terror now.

How do these folks sleep at night?

Bush's Vietnam

You know, for "adults", the current administration really hasn't learned from history.

First, they referred to the retaliation against Afghanistan and the Taliban as a "crusade".

Now, they're engaged in a quagmire of a war in South Asia to which there appears to be no end and no graceful way of exiting.

Even the rhetoric is echoing Vietnam.

"America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honorable peace can be negotiated," Johnson told the Tennessee Legislature on March 15, 1967. Despite the obstacles to victory, the president said, "We shall stay the course."

After 14 Marines died in a roadside bombing on Aug. 3, Bush declared: "We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. And the job is this: We'll help the Iraqis develop a democracy."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Write Your Own Caption

Have at it, folks!

The Photos That Could End The War In Iraq

Iraqi Protests Against British Military

Blair is already on the hot seat for cozying up to Bush in a clearly illegal war. Wonder how these will play out?


PS The soldier pictured here ends up walking away. Still in flames, tho.

More On The German Elections

You might wonder why, if Angela merkel received more votes than any other candidate, she simply doesn't sit down and form a coalition government, and damn what the left says?

Mostly because more people voted against her and her policies than voted for her or for candidate aligned with her.

Sort of like the US elections of 2000 and 2004, where more people voted Democratic at all levels of government than voted Republican. Unfortunately, here, we don't do coalitions since we only have the two parties (and whatever crackpot decides to run a vanity campaign).

Interesting analysis here.

Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats both claimed victory for their parties in Sunday's closely fought election, but with 35.2 and 34.3 percent respectively neither party received a clear mandate from the electorate. But a total of 51.1 percent cast ballots for the three parties to the left of the center, the SPD, the Green party and the newly formed Left Party. Only 43.9 percent voted for the conservatives and the free-market liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

But as Germany desperately weighs the different possibilities for a governing coalition, the SPD, Greens and Left Party have all said there's no way the three of them will work together. The Social Democrats and the Greens have stressed they won't work with the Left Party, which, for its part, has said it won't tolerate the other two in a minority government.
Which is why Schroeder can still lay claim to being the leader of any coalition government, since his is the dominant party in the majority vote.

Effectively, this weakens Germany as a world power, since Schroeder does not have the added mantle of being the top dog (he lost the election, after all), and therefore must consult his coalition partners on any major decisions.

Merkel, by contrast, would not have this problem if she can swing a conservative coalition, since she is the top dog on her side of the fence.

*whew* And who says politics is boring?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How Bush Plans To Improve His Image

Face Transplants

US plans first face transplant

US surgeons are to interview a shortlist of patients hoping to be the first to receive a face transplant.

Doctors in the US have already carried out the procedure on bodies donated for medical research.

Now the Cleveland Clinic team will choose a patient whose face is disfigured to receive a "new" face from a dead donor.

The chance it will work is around 50% and experts have expressed safety and ethical concerns about the procedure.

The article goes on to say that the patient will have to take medications for the rest of their lives to avoid tissue rejection. That's a real ugly image, a face just bolting for the door on a moment's notice.

You know, this is going to usher in a rebirth of the "You're so ugly..." joke genre.

"You're so ugly, your new face ran away when it looked in your mirror."

"You're so ugly, your new face begged, "No! No! Anybody but him!"

"You're so ugly, you had your face changed and it didn't make a difference."

Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes straight to the bone.

You Don't Have To Be An Atheist.... enjoy this

Anybody want to take a crack at improving the list? I'm working on something about a resurrected beer...

The New White House

Bush Visits New Orleans Again

From ignoring the entire mess until it was too late, to playing "git-tar" while a city drowned,Bush has demonstrated an unique ability to compartmentalize a tragedy the likes of which this nation has never seen before.

Until now. Suddenly, he's in the Gulf Coast region like it was Ohio in 2004, and key to his re-election "strategery".

Why? Why five times in two weeks? Does he think that him being on the ground is going to make him an effective leader during the remainder of this crisis? Maybe if he hadn't spent five weeks on vacation, this absence from the White House might be justifiable, but let's face facts: this is a man who receives daily hurricane recovery briefings from Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary. Any decisions he could possibly make on the ground there could be made in the Oval Office.

And it's not like he's picking up a shovel and broom and cleaning.

Sorry, Dumbya. Your father had a defining moment in his Presidency when he couldn't tell you what a gallon of milk sold for. It showed him as disconnected and aloof.

Curiously, your performance these past three weeks, regardless of this sudden fascination with the French Quarter, has ironically made that gaffe seem trivial.

And it lost your dad the election.

So I guess you can add another feather to your "Oedipal fantasy cap": You fucked up worse than he did, too, in connecting to the people.
tags technorati :

Jesus' General Isn't All Just Fun And Games

I heard parts of this on the news this morning, about a British "rescue" of men held in an Iraqi jail but assumed (yea...I know...) that they were held for something like sexual assault or lifting a burqa.

Little did I know they were doing something really subversive...

Update On Elections That Could Change America

In Germany:

German Leaders Spar Over Chancellor Role By DAVID McHUGH, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 19 minutes ago

BERLIN - Top politicians on both sides of Germany's political standoff agreed Tuesday a bipartisan "grand coalition" linking Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats and challenger Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats would be the best way out of the postelection muddle.

They disagreed on who should be chancellor.

"The needle is oscillating more toward a grand coalition under the leadership of Schroeder," Social Democratic Interior Minister Otto Schily said in an interview published Tuesday in Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Guenther Beckstein, interior minister in the state of Bavaria and a member of the Christian Social Union, the Christian Democrats' sister party, also said the union of main parties was the way forward — but with Merkel at the helm as Germany's first female leader.

"For me, the given result must be a grand coalition under the leadership of Mrs. Merkel," said Beckstein, a possible candidate in a Merkel's Cabinet.

Voters ousted Schroeder's ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Greens on Sunday but withheld a majority from Merkel's party and its partner, the pro-business Free Democrats. The result has been a confused scramble for power.

You may recall that I posted an item about this election over the weekend, in which I mentioned that 20% of German voters were undecided with literally hours left to the poll openings.

So what does this apparent deadlock mean to us?

Well, it means that while Germany tired of Schoeder and his pr-business reforms (yes, you heard that correctly: a liberal who was voted out for being TOO conservative), they don't trust Merkel completely either. Which says to me they don't trust her very close ties to the American administration, since she's very conservative, even by American standards.

In Afghanistan:

CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri criticized the legitimacy of Afghanistan's weekend elections in a new tape broadcast Monday, saying the polls took place under the control of the "lords of war."

Al-Zawahri also renewed praise for the July 7 London transport system bombings which killed 56 people, including the four attackers.

"This blessed attack revealed the real hypocritical face of the West," al-Zawahri said in the tape aired on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV in reference to British threats to deport anti-West Muslim clerics to their countries of origin.

Whenever Zawahiri speaks, people end up dead in terror attacks a few days or weeks later. It's almost clockwork-like.

Who The Hell Is In Charge Here?

Maybe my readers can make some sense of all this, because I sure as hell can't.

President George W. Bush?
Unnecessary spending must be cut, president says

Friday, September 16, 2005; Posted: 9:50 p.m. EDT (01:50 GMT)

(CNN) -- President Bush said Friday his plan for federal projects to rebuild the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina will be expensive, "but I'm confident we can handle it and our other priorities."

The nation will "have to cut unnecessary spending," he said.

He added, "We should not raise taxes."

House Speaker Tom Delay?
Bush said Friday that the costs of rebuilding the Gulf Coast will be paid through "unnecessary spending," and some programs will be slashed.

But House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said last week that Republicans have already gotten rid of extraneous spending. "After 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good," DeLay told reporters.

Or Treasury Secretary John Snow?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Tuesday the United States would rebuild the Gulf Coast region devastated by Hurricane Katrina but would do so in a "fiscally responsible" way.

"Will the relief and reconstruction be costly? Of course it will," he said in remarks prepared for delivery to a financial literacy commission. "But I want to assure you that this administration is not, and will not, stray from our course of federal deficit reduction."

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Poor in the World

Today, the United Nations opens an Assembly session devoted to an examination and possible assistance to the world's poor.

Could this meeting be any better timed? We're already withholding funding for the UN over abortion programs, plus Katrina focused American attention on our own impoverished classes (whom, it's only fair to point out, have it far better than nearly 4 billion other people on the planet).


'Tis be National "Talk Like A Pirate" day!

- Dread Pirate Kidd