DO US soldiers know what they sign up for? Horror? Mass murder? Burn pits? PTSD. Disability. Homelessness. Viagra.

It was a crass thing for Trump to say to a recent war widow, but of course it’s also fundamentally said in praise of brave men. They knew what they signed up for. But do American soldiers know what they sign up for? Not just the risk, but the horror and culpability? Did Trump voters know what they signed up for? I’ll put it to you they did not.

Wilfred Owen: Spring Offensive & PTSD

You won’t find a more haunting depiction of battle induced PTSD than the last two stanzas of Wilfred Owen’s Spring Offensive. You’ll be curious no doubt to double back on the setup: troops being marched to the frontline, the idyllic lull before battle, the unceremonious charge, and the moment a stealthy sprint turns to mayhem. The next stanza speculates about the fate of those who fall in battle: to bullets, to explosive shells, and to shrapnel. The last stanza is about the “too swift” survivors who “out-fiend” death to come through, and don’t want to, or can’t, talk about it.

Spring Offensive (April, 1917)

Halted against the shade of a last hill,
They fed, and, lying easy, were at ease
And, finding comfortable chests and knees,
Carelessly slept.
                          But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.

Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled
By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge,
For though the summer oozed into their veins
Like the injected drug for their bones’ pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the imminent line of grass,
Fearfully flashed the sky’s mysterious glass.

Hour after hour they ponder the warm field—
And the far valley behind, where the buttercup
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up,
Where even the little brambles would not yield,
But clutched and clung to them like sorrowing hands;
They breathe like trees unstirred.

Till like a cold gust thrilled the little word
At which each body and its soul begird
And tighten them for battle. No alarms
Of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste—
Only a lift and flare of eyes that faced
The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.
O larger shone that smile against the sun,—
Mightier than his whose bounty these have spurned.

So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; earth set sudden cups
In thousands for their blood; and the green slope
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space.

Of them who running on that last high place
Leapt to swift unseen bullets, or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell’s upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world’s verge,
Some say God caught them even before they fell.

But what say such as from existence’ brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink.
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames—
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder—
Why speak they not of comrades that went under?

The conceivability that climate change, torture, or Pope’s Catholicism isn’t.

The January 2015 Smithsonian Magazine asks “Did Civil War vets suffer from PTSD?” which seems a progressive conceit from an arbitor of the accepted version of events. I think it’s useful to ask “Does a bear shit in the woods?” by which I mean, is it conceivable to you that bears don’t shit in the woods? Because your incredulity is critical. Apparently these days, history is written not by historians but by pollsters. Today the commonplace perception of history and science prevails as the dominant verdict. Whether Climate Change is real, or whether torture is torture, depends on how the public polls. Presumably truth being what we want it to be would poll favorably too.

While the Smithsonian’s question suggests to upend institutional dogma, dragging 19th century medicine into the 21st century, it’s actually the reverse. Doctors treating veterans have always known that nearly all people exposed to combat will suffer PTSD, ancient times didn’t favor acronyms perhaps, yet today’s spin doctors want public comprehension to pivot on a question, contingent upon whether is is. Of course DO BEARS sounds more objective than BEARS DO. It also smells of the dissembling of a torture doctor. TORTURE IS.

One man’s war hero is another’s snitch. Iraqi informant Jasim Mohammed Ramadon is also an American rapist.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– Haha. Iraqi “war hero” Jasim Mohammed “Steve-O” Ramadon was granted asylum in the US after snitching on his countrymen, his tribe, and own father, as a youth informer for the US Army. An American soldier brought Ramadon back to Ft. Carson and praised him as a war hero in his memoir. Now Ramadan has been getting himself into trouble for drunk driving and beating women. Recently, he and four other Iraqi expats were arrested for the violent sexual assault of a neighbor, probably the everyday rape M.O. of American soldiers in occupied lands. I’m laughing because while Ramadon betrayed his dad, beat his girlfriend, and now faces charges of rape, local teabag Red White & Blue guy Jim Cross stepped forward as character witness for Ramadon, saying “his heart is in the right place.” Does being a conservative jingoist mean you have to hit every sour note?
 
I was reminded of Cross today because our City Hall fracking protest was interrupted by the stereotypical blimp-neck sticking his smartphone in our faces with lame gotcha questions, beginning with the usual insincere “So what’s this about?” Today’s idiot was no brighter than Cross, and thought he’d caught us up because we protested oil drilling yet drove there burning fossil fuels. These guys are almost worth having cameras turned on them, so dopey are their leading questions and smug oversimplifications. This one seemed too dumb to actually be of interest, but it turns out we could have unmasked a local media bully. I learned only later that our camera-wielding heckler was the Gazette’s editorialist Wayne Laugesen. So now I’ve confirmed my suspicion that Mr. Laugesen’s relentlessly backward editorials must be cribbed verbatim from right-wing PR mills. For all their nauseating inanity, the editorials are too consistent with the corporate talking points to emit from the moron we saw today. Of course, one man’s idiot is a ditto-head’s intellectual. Laugesen trailed us as we walked to lunch, but filmed it like we were running away from his lard ass.

WWII vet, age 92, finally diagnosed with PTSD why, because we care?

Sgt. Stanley Friedman, a 92 yr-old veteran of the WWII North African campaign, was finally diagnosed with PTSD. Pro bono lawyers couldn’t even verify his service records, but after sixty years of denying his claims, the VA has at last been forced to grant Friedman compensation. Is this really the result of crafty legal work, at long last, or of a PR climate now overrun by Big Pharma, whose PTSD drug market windfall needed a poster boy for the baby boomer set, the type of veteran Americans favor over those from less “good” wars?

To cure P.T.S.D. we need to spread it

To cure P.T.S.D. we need to spread itI always thought it misguided that the antiwar community should worry about our soldiers’ PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: it’s a guilty conscience soldier, you’ve earned it.
Of course, Troop Supporters bear responsibility too, so we need to spread the guilt around.

A face to launch a thousand protests. Leak your trophy footage you cowards

Young Iraqi watching as US soldiers raid her home
This is a still from John Pilger’s THE WAR YOU DON’T SEE, recently blocked from its US debut in Santa Fe. Why? Because such images will stop war. In particular this shows a terrified Iraqi girl held at gunpoint as her home is searched. I wonder how many such scenes have been captured by embed cameras or GI cellphones. Western eyes are being inoculated to violence and gore, our victims dehumanized, foreign civilians reduced to collateral, but it appears our media managers worry Americans cannot yet resist the ordinary tears of children. Imagine such scenes of heartbreak gone viral across the web. Never mind atrocity or war crime, show us emotional responses with which we can identify. The mass of digital records could doubtless overwhelm Wikileaks. These are not top secret, yet nearly any have been leaked. My appeal to the cowardly US soldier, or the damnable media embed, leak the footage which haunts you already, your PTSD may be the contagion to end public support for our state sponsored terrorism.

GI quadruple amputee’s hobby: guns. Army needs a prosthetic for PTSD.

Wounded Army Specialist Brendan Marrocco was this weekend’s NYT front page testimonial to the resilience of US soldiers. The VA is finally acknowledging amputee-counts apparently, so we now learn that 988 veterans have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Specialist Marrocco lost all four, but is learning to get around. He can walk for stints of up to 15-minutes, and his favorite pastime? Shooting guns.

Major Abu Nidal Hasan to meet Jack Ruby

So who was the Fort Hood shooter, do we know? The media’s got the back story all lined up for it to be Nidal Malik Hasan, he has three names like all assassins (and sound bites), and now the Army is trotting out witnesses to point their fingers at the Muslim Major. Addressing reports of multiple gunmen, the Army says “there was only one shooter.” Although five of the victims may have fallen to friendly fire. So there was a “friendly shooter?” Which one was Hasan?

I’m thinking the multiple shooter stories came out of the Army deciding the shooter was Hasan, but witnesses insisting it was another soldier. Sooner than contradict what they’d seen with their own eyes, Investigators and victims agree to disagree, until a uniform narrative can be worked out.

With a mess of dead soldiers, all dead by PTSD, who the hell cares which killed which? But poor Major Hasan’s name had the right evildoer pedigree, with an Abu Nidal ring to it, which could bring Americans to a boil.

What’s going on right now, by the way, big picture wise? Is the American public vacillating about sending more troops to Afghanistan? It took a 9/11 surge of Muslim-hating to send our invaders off in the first place.

The Army must have shit bricks when it turned out that Hasan was still alive. The fall guy they’d chosen wasn’t dead. It’s hard to pin the tale on someone who can still tell. But who am I kidding? Either we’re going to see a Jack Ruby pay a visit to Hasan in the hospital, the end, or the military’s going to control Mr. Hasan with its usual heavy hand. And that’s the New World Order MO. I can already see Jose Padilla being shuttled between tortures and deprivations, losing his mind as the government confounds him with accusations.

Hasan is already as cooked as Padilla. No matter what happened, we’ll see confusion and confession and absolutely no access to civilian lawyers or the press. Hasan is this year’s American Taliban, the caricature John Walker Lind painted as America-hating wuss.

The Army’s having nobody think this is PTSD. Did you see the JAG lawyer on CNN, ruling out PTSD because Hasan was an officer?

Antiwarriors can laud the shooting as “fragging” but it’s not. Fragging means to kill your superior officer. At Fort Hood, the only dead were grunts.

Antifada antiwarriors can hope this was Islam striking back, hitting Americans with their own MO. But where was the collateral damage? Where were the wives and children, the innocents among the dead soldiers? Nope, none of those. The evidence indeed points to a principled Mujahadeen who wanted to kill only the US killers, or the soon to be deployed killers.

The Fort Hood shooter might have been sparing the readying soldiers the horrors of Afghanistan, and the DU poison they’d bring back to their families.

The real story is that this is what PTSD looks like, and it may have played out as Russian Roulette, it wouldn’t matter who pulled the trigger. But of course the big worry for the Pentagon is that this sort of thing could be infectious. The expression “going postal” doesn’t have to morph very far to become going PTSD.

In Vietnam, the GIs started fragging their lieutenants. In Afghanistan and Iraq, in the age of the suicide bombers, the American rebel is killing himself.

Army offers Mental Resiliency Training to harden the conscience against PTSD

What do you make of the VA study indicating that more stateside military drone operators suffer higher Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than soldiers in actual combat? It may point to the obvious, that PTSD comes less from being shell-shocked under fire and more from committing deeds to haunt the conscience. If our troops weren’t being asked to act inhumanely, perhaps we’d see fewer suicides, or homeless and maladapted vets. Instead the Army has announced it will give all its soldiers “mental resiliency training.” This might inoculate their fear of coming home to face their loved ones, but will it steel them against redemption?

UNDO THE COUP begins at home

COLORADO SPRINGS- Rita wants to remind local Democrats about which way to push Barack Obama, come January 20 after the inauguration, and before then, at the local Democratic Party precinct meetings. Whether we have expectations of Obama or not, if he doesn’t know what we want, how’s he supposed to deliver?

Here’s the full text of her latest communique:

CHANGE AND MORE CHANGE
by Rita Walpole Ague

With the Obama inauguration about to happen, may we all come to rest and live in peace and justice and true democracy. Recent comments made by Obama coordinator Bob Nemanich re. the anti-democratic stance certain of his old friends, do not surprise me in the least. Failures of our democracy to function as a democracy are not new, and have been around for awhile – some say since 1947. I recall when the FBI was doing warrantless wiretapping of the Kennedys and MLK, plus countless of their supporters and followers. Such blatant anti-democracy tactics have now reached new levels of power lust and greed under the oh so fascist, manipulative Neocons.

Consider Neocon “spook” surveillance and infiltration into so many organizations and efforts, certainly including numerous peace, and justice, and political and governmental organizations and operations The first such governmental operation that comes to my mind is the democratic and fundamental act of voting and having that vote count. No big secret – vote fraud’s gone broad based and high tech.

Here’s reality, as painful as it may be to face – we’ve lost democracy. And the “change” our almost president Obama has promised to render must first and foremost address this loss of democracy, and all the constitutional violations that go and have gone unchallenged and all too often hide and have been hidden under the guise of “security against terrorism.” In the words of the head of Grandmothers for Peace International, we must become our own media, a job Bob Nemanich did so well following the Democratic assembly when he, acting in his co-ordinator position with the Obama campaign, sent out an email far and wide with a request for info. on the intimidation and disenfranchisement that occurred at the Democratic county assembly in February, 2007.

Bob wanted identified who it was who had stood at the door and turned away countless elected delegates and alternates, many of whom had dangerously been kept standing outside in the bitter cold for hours. How tragic it is that question even had to be asked by Bob and the party vice chair Jay Ferguson, since the Democratic party chair, John Morris, was most certainly aware who this person at the door was – former NSA operative and then current chair of the local A.C.L.U., and now chair of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, William Durland. Certainly Morris knew who Durland was and what he’d been assigned to do, just as Morris knew and knows who Durland is and what he does when Morris recently authorized that complaints re. voting “irregularities” be sent to Durland.

And how tragic it was and is that Morris, supposedly a staunch Democrat and chair of the local party, praises people such as El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink, the same official who ousted me from his office in Oct. of 2006 as I attempted to cast an early vote and refused to take off my small “Grandmothers for Peace” button. Very recently and far more outrageously, Balink attempted to disenfranchise Colorado College students and keep them from voting, attempting to intimidate their parents with a threat of IRS involvement. Disenfranchisement and intimidation. Isn’t there a pattern?

And what role has and does Colorado Springs being a major “fusion center” play in these and all the other totally undemocratic and unconscionable incidents we’ve experienced here in Colorado Springs – for example, the tear gassing of peaceful demonstrators as they gathered prior to our entry into the Iraq war? Similar tear gassing occurred at that time only in one other city on earth – Athens, Greece. Then there was the brutalizing of the peace demonstrators during the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day Parade – their offense was wearing a uniform of sorts, green shirts with peace signs. They peacefully marched and rode under permit in the parade, and suddenly were brutalized beyond belief. Guess what? No national press coverage, even though one of the top stories of the year happened that day – the dragging in the street by a cop of Elizabeth Fineron, a physically disabled former nun, until she was raw and bleeding on her thigh and stomach, an act of torture still available for view on the internet and in photos which appeared in the Independent. Talk about terror!

Cursed until the day of her death with post traumatic stress disorder following her being so brutalized, Elizabeth died a year and a month later, the victim of a fully “infused” Colorado Springs Police Department. Next came the arrest, handcuffing and removal of two peace demonstrators at the 2008 Democratic State Convention, along with the destruction by police of the support poles for the banner. Their true offense was standing outside police lines, holding up a banner that asked: “Dems, please stop funding the war in Iraq.” Waiting to enter the arena to take part in the convention, elected delegates and alternates cheered the demonstrators, as simultaneously, unidentified persons, standing on a nearby hotel roof with a hyperbolic dish, surveilled and recorded the entire arrest incident. The official offense the police initially charged the peace demonstrators with was “obstruction,” but that charge was almost immediately abandoned and replaced with the charge of “trespass.” Guess who would be the party to bring and pursue such a complaint of trespass? You guessed it – the leaseholder of the convention site, the Colorado state Democratic party!

And then came the request by the head of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, at that time but no longer located behind the Independent in a building which the Indy owns, for police to appear and question and possible place under arrest four individuals, myself included, who sat in folding chairs in a streetside parkway outside the J&P office for an hour one spring evening and discussed the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver. We considered what “infusion” style police tactics might be (and unfortunately were) used on peace demonstrators. Once again, it’s difficult to miss the pattern of disenfranchisement and intimidation.

Rather than standing watch on the constitution and democracy and asking the hard but vital questions that are the basis of all good critical thinking, the U.S. has allowed itself to be spun by the greed and power mongers and their corporate controlled mass media into a state of “La La Land.” Not only was Elizabeth Fineron a victim of a fully “infused” Colorado Springs Police Department, but the peaceful older disabled woman, an Obama supporter, a teacher who dedicated herself to peace and justice for all, was a victim also of a naive, consumption preoccupied, unquestioning and not sufficiently concerned U.S. populace.

It’s increasingly apparent that what all this spells: COUP! Certainly we all, under the leadership of our man Obama, need to address the Neocon-insurged “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID” peril we find ourselves in. But until we place as our number one priority the return of true vs. token democracy, and do what it takes to “UNDO THE COUP,” we’ll continue to be at the mercy of the military/industrial/corporate power and greed mongers who, like Bob’s old school friends, think we Americans are stupid, should not be able to vote, and believe democracy is a quaint, antiquated, naive institution. Our democracy, which has been tortured, waterboarded, and all but done away with over the years, will be beyond resuscitation if we don’t clearly concentrate on the root of the problems underlying the economic and total undemocratic mess we’re in today.

Let’s keep the faith, and Obama-style hope. Let’s honor of all our U.S. brothers and sisters who, along with Elizabeth Fineron, have donned a uniform and fought and died for their country – for democracy and the constitution, for lasting peace and fundamental justice. Let’s rejoice in the not so minor miracle that’s happened – the election of Barak Obama. Let’s celebrate his inauguration. Let’s push hard and fight peacefully but firmly for the change we so desperately need. And let’s never stop reminding our soon to be President Obama that we’re counting on him to bring about the change he’s promised – the change we so need and long for.

President Obama, congratulations, and never forget – we want to help you and your appointees to UNDO THE COUP!

Rita Ague

A vaccine for PTSD.

There is a natural (perhaps “unnatural”) Immunity Factor to counter Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…

It’s called “sociopathy” and its evil twin “narcissism”.

I know, some people will only accept the opinion of Army scientists on what causes or prevents the disease, so I’ll use a paraphrase of their definitions.

It started to be a really really noticeable problem at the time of our Civil War and the Crimean War(s)…

A time when large standing armies of conscripts were suddenly the norm rather than an aberration.

A time of weapons technologies wherein somebody you could not see or hear, somebody perhaps miles away, could kill you, or your comrades, large numbers of you at a time.

But the truly extraordinary stress, wasn’t from the sudden spurts of violence, not directly, at least.

It was the vastly longer times Between barrages, between battles…

The disruption of you natural Circadian rhythms, sleep patterns and waking patterns, the “attack at dawn” because Dawn is the point at which all living creatures, from the lowest proto-bacterium to the Great Apes, and Humans, are at their lowest level of energy.

So you had to be awake, and aware, by dawn. Guards have to be maintained at all hours… thus intermittent episodes of sleep deprivation. And that not on a regular basis.

The randomness of that is also a factor.

Then there’s the acts of pure murder. You can train yourself to ignore your conscience, or be trained en masse to ignore your collective conscience… to supress the certain knowledge that you are doing something totally against your basic humanity…

But the Basic Training itself, aka Indoctrination, aka Pavlovian Conditioning, aka Brainwashing, is designed not to strenghten your resolve, or your ability to think logically… but to break those barriers, those mental and spiritual bits of armor provided by God, that keep most people from committing outrageous crimes.

You can, if your indoctrination is constantly reinforced, maintain that level of denial… but only for as long as your indoctrination is reinforced.

Once you are separated from your army, or from your cult, or whatever group is brainwashing you, the denial becomes harder and harder to maintain.

False “patriotism”, or devotion to whatever OTHER similar lower-case “g” god you’ve been trained to worship, and a simple fear of admitting, mostly to yourself or your comrades, that you have done wrong, is a very powerful reason to keep it sublimated, to bottle it and suppress it.

Alcohol and other drugs are one really commonly used method.

Perhaps it’s the reason members of the military are actually Encouraged to drink. Somebody who’s a total drunkard might be punished or looked down upon, but so are tee-totallers.

People who abstain from social drinking are actually looked upon as having antisocial tendencies, or at least, not being as suggestible, “not a team player”.

So, what would be a good, non-destructive vaccine, a good prevention for PTSD?

not maintaining a Standing Army for one.

It might sound kind of idealistic, like what would then prevent some foreign power from invading and enslaving America…

Well, for one thing, we haven’t been invaded since 1814. And then it was one of the Superpowers of its time, Great Britain. And they couldn’t maintain their other, bigger wars and still attempt to occupy even those small patches of American ground that they DID gain.

Too much drain on their manpower, materiel and other resources, especially money.

Much like our Federal Government spending DEFICIT after 7 years of Bush is now 5 times (approximately) the Government Budget for the entire 4 years of the “tax and spend liberal” Carter Administration. Add in, (or subtract) an equal amount which was the Projected SURPLUS for 2007, made in 2001 when Bush took office.

That might sound like phantom accounting, unless you realize that the “Liberation” was projected to actually make a profit.

Just not for, you know, the average American or the average “Liberated” Iraqi.

And this is from the economy that the Capitalist Masters say is “The Strongest on earth”.

Israel, one of our proxy states, could not maintain an occupation in Lebanon even with massive American money aid. They can’t maintain an occupation of the West Bank, populated with the poorest Arab nation there is, where their most advanced military technology is a reworked Russian rocket-propelled grenade… without massive American financing.

If we had simply left “goddam insane” alone in 1991, the other Arab nations, and the simple economics, would have ended the invasion.

We’re a rich nation, how would the poorest nations maintain it? Historically, they’ve done it the way Hussein maintained his battle with Iran… with massive amounts of money.

Donated money.

So it’s do-able. People who point out that it’s never worked before fail to recall the other side of that equation, it’s never been tried before.

The same people who say we need to pour (literally) countless trillions of dollars into occupying the Arabian Peninsula for the rest of our national existence, were the same ones who cut the funding for every actual Peace initiative whenever a snag was hit in the progress thereof.

That’s the REAL “surrender mentality”.

The notion that peace would be very difficult to achieve, therefore we shouldn’t even try, and just surrender to Endless War and the Dictatorship necessary to maintain it.

And the economic degradation. And the inescapable fact that our children or grandchildren or hell, maybe even our very own generation, would be occupied by a foreign power when the Empire falls.

And then there’s the medical costs, not least the cost of PTSD.

Even if somebody doesn’t have full-blown psychoses as a result of PTSD, it degrades the physical health, medical problems like Diabetes, Heart, lung, kidney diseases, even arthritis, become more common. The human immune system is suppressed by PTSD.

That’s the most common symptom of it, actually, according to the Army. The most expensive.

We have one candidate for president, has said that he WILL cut “social spending”, like public health, VETERANS health care, etc etc etc.. to fund his Masters (Satans) Endless War.

We need to innocculate the entire American public against PTSD, with the knowledge that war is NOT a “necessary evil”. With the knowledge of WHY it can be ended and HOW it can be ended.

It beats living Hell out of the alternative possibilities probabilities.

Support Our Homeless Troops

COLORADO SPRINGS- I watched yesterday as a group of homeless men disbanded beneath an underpass. I remarked how their yet unbent frames and close-shaved heads made them appear more menacing than usual. Then I noticed one had a graphite prosthetic calf, and I thought about our vets who disappear themselves into being vagabonds. Homelessness is elective you could say, like despondency or suicide. If one in four of America’s homeless are veterans, why not tell us what that fraction amounts to? They must know.

Americans were just leaked the number of suicides among our soldiers and veterans. It’s more even than have died in the Iraq war. We hear about the seemingly haphazard suicides, self-destructive acts and reckless endangerments, but who puts it together? Did you imagine the tally as a result of the war would be so high?

Probably the incidence of PTSD, they say now 30%, is equally under-documented. Who will contravene with the VA, the DoD and the State Department to give us the real totals?

Americans recently honored the 4,000th US casualty in Iraq. What was THAT milestone for? The American Friends Service Committee had been circulating a collection of army boots –Eyes Wide Open, before the number became unmanageable– to correspond to the official US losses. It didn’t occur to me how some military families might feel left out by that count. What about the non-combat deaths, or the wounded who expire stateside? What about the suicides, or the brain-dead? What about the broken bodies who would be over-represented by a pair of boots, who would need a single boot, or none at all?

What is the real figure so far, of US lives sacrificed to the war? What fraction of a Vietnam wall memorial are they setting aside for the true casualty count? Enough for ten thousand? Is our tally of wasted-lives several times that?

I want to know where are the yokels who make a big deal about supporting the troops? Where are they while homeless vets look for heat and food? Where is the support for young men haunted to the point of committing suicide? Is that yellow sticker on your car the furthest extent to which you support the troops? Do you hope your sticker remains obscured in the garage until the homeless vets pass?

I hope the yellow ribbon Support the Troops sticker comes to mean you’re good for a meal, a ride, a place to sleep, or spare change for a drink. I didn’t support the troops, what they did and still do, or the trouble they find themselves in now that their killing duty is served. You encouraged them, you’re still welcoming them home and cheering their continued deployment. You broke these young men, now support them.

It’s in the percentages

Apparently 30% of the most recent batch of Army recruits do not have a high school education. And by the Army’s own findings, 30% of soldiers returning from our occupations have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And a Colorado Springs school district has revealed that 25% of the children of the Fort Carson new arrivals are “Special Needs” students. Americans, and Colorado Springs in particular, have to live with these percentages. Are we 25% screwed or 30% screwed? At least we don’t have to look at these guys across the sights of their guns. Iraqis do, and over one million dead Iraqis it may now be deduced were 100% screwed.

I mean it, I find it an absolute nightmare to imagine soldiers in positions of authority, making life and death decisions over others, who don’t know right from wrong, history from high stakes poker, or intelligence from drunken stupor. How do you reason with someone whose only motivation is their next beer? Where they’d just as soon shoot you dead than worry about regretting not shooting you?

It’s a war crime to subject civilian populations to rule by incompetents. Just because Americans elect a certified idiot for president is no indication that anyone else, certainly not a more cultured society, would want their lives overseen by uneducated amoral brigands.

Unprincipled Colorado Springs businessmen salivate at the houses, cars, loans and strippers they can sell to uneducated soldiers. Colorado Springs residents better think hard about whether they make good neighbors.

Why rent-a-cop if you can rent-a-killer?

The city clerk has been working on a proposal to the Colorado Springs City Council to authorize private security firms to carry semi-automatic weapons. The New Life Church shootings raise the issue, apparently, that security personnel should be better armed, although there were no private security firms present. The mayhem was averted by volunteer church members assigned to security, who made do with a handgun.

Has there been a call for an escalation of firepower in property protection skirmishes? Are marauding bands of drug dealers challenging malls and warehouses with overpowering force? Are rent-a-cop and house alarm responders finding themselves out-gunned by burglars and mischievous teens?

Private security firm owners claim the current limit of .38 or .45 caliber handguns is too restrictive for their new hires who are often coming from the military war zones and are used to patrolling with automatic weapons. Oh, and to what else are they accustomed? Shoot to kill orders? Shoot anything that moves “kill-zones?” After an I.E.D. ambush, shoot all living beings in the vicinity? Shoot women and children if suspicious? Shoot cars that do not heed shouted commands? Shoot through walls, into doors, around blind corners? What percentage of vets are coming back with PTSD? Aren’t they unsuited to most jobs except to be lonely night patrolmen?

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina we saw assault-rifle bearing Blackwater blackshirts unleashed on the traumatized population. The only thing keeping Blackwater and Aegis type goons out of our city would be weapons restrictions such as we have, as are common to all civilized population centers. Many British Bobbies still are not permitted to carry guns at all. That’s the kind of change we need. Stand down, don’t gear up.

Your dad is going to die of cancer

Iraqi girl whose father has just been killed at a checkpointIt’s just been reported that the children of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to suffer child abuse. Is this finding not terrible enough for their parents to take heed and refuse to to be ordered there?
 
All soldiers going to Iraq and Afghanistan doom themselves to exposure to Depleted Uranium. Does it give anyone pause that they are dooming themselves and their families to certain ill-health? They’re not making a selfless sacrifice, they’re sacrificing their kids.

By the VA’s own report, over 11,600 Gulf War vets have died since 1991. A third of the soldiers involved in that 100 hour engagement are now on disability. The health problems have been called Gulf War Syndrome because the military won’t admit responsibility, like it long denied the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam. But doctors are now certain the many common symptoms are due to DU. Already we are seeing birth defects from Iraq War veterans.

Of course the media is not addressing the problem, but why aren’t soldiers figuring out the cause and effect for themselves? Do they still think the Department of Defense is looking out for them? After the Walter Reed scandals? After the failures to deal with PTSD?

Remember an unusual report early in the Iraq occupation when Dutch troops were to replace a US Marines encampment? The Dutch commanders instantly forbade their soldiers to inhabit the American barracks due to DU contamination. They deemed it better to bivouac outside the camp, exposed to attack outside the fortifications, than to suffer the certain DU exposure about which the American soldiers had been told nothing.

I have an idea of how to bring this message home to our soldiers. It involves the soldiers’ families because they are already impacted negatively, and stand to bear the brunt of losing their father or mother, of having to cope with a bitter, violent veteran, or having to care for the eventually terminally ill invalid. Here’s my plan:

I live in a neighborhood that houses the families of officers posted to Fort Carson. Usually they’re newcomers, usually just the families, the fathers being away in Iraq. Kids know these families from talking amongst each other at school.

The next time this or that house is pointed out to me, I’m going to tell the kids to be nice to those children because their father is dying of cancer. Never mind succumbing to IEDs, or to mental illness, the veteran will more likely than not, die a slow death of cancer or leukemia or whatever mysterious debilitating fate, owing to the DU he inhaled over there. Imagine the talk at the school reaching the soldier’s children. They’d bring their fears home. It’s a heartless rumor to spread to kids, but maybe their alarm could prompt an awakening and ultimately save their dad’s life.

This subversive message can be directed toward soldiers at other opportunities. Be it a panhandler with PTSD, or a proud veteran in a parade, treat them both with a sincere gentleness because of their pending struggle with cancer. Thank them for their service, apologize that their sacrifice will turn out to be so tragic.

Bring the message home.

Farfour Mouse vs Mickey

It’s hard to believe how lost in LaLaLa Land are America’s proZionist conservatives. One big issue for some of them is the supposed ‘hostage taking’ of Mickey Mouse by Gaza Strip’s Farfour Mouse. I’m not making this stuff up either! See Farfour for yourself.

These lunatics of the American Right don’t get riled up about what Israel and the US have done to the million plus people of the Gaza Strip, way over 50% of them children. It matters not the least to them that Gaza has the lowest standard fo living in the world, and that most of the inhabitants living in this total misery are children. No. Instead they are worried about this mouse, Farfour! They’re worried that he’s a terrorist rat teaching the kids to hate! Can you imagine how lost in nonsense these nuts actually are? They’re our neighbors, too. Scary.

Here is another clip with some CNN commentary of Farfour in action, but go read the American posters’ comments and see who is really sick in the head. And nobody seems too concerned about Farfoura. But then again she’s not a mouse, is she? She’s more the butterfly… The Daffy Zionist Ducks can handle that. But don’t pick on Walt’s pre-WW2 made fascist rodent, or they get all upset.

And nobody seems to care about Walt Disney himself. He wa a rather loathsome character.
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Below is the real situation in Gaza, where per capita GDP is now around $500-$600 per year and falling.
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on the 40th anniversary of occupation my statement in the UN
SPECIAL MEETING TO MARK 40 YEARS OF OCCUPATION
BY ISRAEL OF THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORY,
INCLUDING EAST JERUSALEM

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
7 June 2007
STATEMENT BY

DR. MONA EL FARRA
PROJECTS DIRECTOR
MIDDLE EAST CHILDREN’S ALLIANCE

Red Crescent Society For Gaza Strip
GAZA

?Your Excellency Mr. Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee,
Distinguished guests and Excellencies,

It is my honour to be amongst you today, despite the gravity of the occasion being commemorated, on this 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

First, let me say that 2007 is the 40th anniversary of 59 years of the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.

As we called for an end to apartheid in South Africa and the right of all people to live together and have equal rights, we must now, before it is too late, call for true justice for the Palestinians.

Today, we heard about the economic plight of the Palestinian people. We heard about Palestinians in Israeli prisons which number close to 8,000 men and women, including approximately 350 children under the age of 14, most of whom have been tortured.

How many UN resolutions must be passed by the UN? How many years of calling for 2 States before there is an understanding that Israel continues its aggression on the ground against women, children and men, the demolition of thousands of homes and the continued building of the apartheid wall?

Let us not just speak of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza. We must never forget those who live as second-class citizens inside Israel and most of all, those who were forced from their homes and lands in 1948.

Now is the time to call for a real peace, with justice for all the children in the region. This can only be accomplished by supporting the right of return of all Palestinians.

Now is the time to acknowledge that the two-State solution is not the answer.

From Gaza I came, where the children of my country have no safe homes, no safe streets, no proper and adequate health facilities, no proper food, clean water, or regular electrical power, no recreational activities and no good education. The list of deprivation of their basic needs is too long to count.

I lived this occupation as a child, and am still living it as an adult. I can see it in the eyes of my daughter when she is afraid, tired, restless and exhausted because of the unsafe and unpredictable quality of life in Gaza under occupation. I saw it as soon as we crossed the borders on our way to Egypt, where she sensed something new and different: freedom, safety and space. Gaza is like a big, unsafe prison. And it is a very small place for 1.4 million people, half of whom are children.

I face the occupation every day during my work when hundreds of Palestinian patients are denied permits and accessibility to proper medical treatment, outside Gaza. There are a few lucky patients who get a referral and permit for treatment outside Gaza. The majority, however, have to wait and wait. Many die while waiting.

What is more heart-breaking than children who do not have adequate food and a healthy atmosphere to grow up to be well rounded adults? According to the Health Work Committees Organization, 42 per cent of children in Gaza under the age of 5 suffer from iron deficiency anemia and 45 per cent suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the experiences that they are subjected to as a result of the non-stop military actions of the Israeli Occupation Forces, which almost always affect civilians in one way or another.

I will never forget the story of a woman in labor, who had to wait several hours at a checkpoint last November, during one of many Israeli military operations in the north of Gaza. Eventually she arrived at the Al Awda hospital in Jabalia refugee camp where she gave birth to her baby. When she left the hospital with the baby to go to home in the village of Beit Hanoun, there was no home; her home had been demolished by the Israeli occupying army. There are many cases and many stories, but I believe it is not the numbers that really matter, even one incident such as the above is one enough human rights violation.

I remember a 4-year old child in the same village who was forced to stay in one room with all members of his family for 48 hours while the Israeli Army commandeered their home. The child was thirsty and the soldier was there with his bottle of water, the occupied and the occupier in the same space. The soldier offered water to the thirsty child. The child said “no, no, no”. The child’s natural reaction was a combination of fear of what the soldier represents and the steadfastness in the face of the occupation. This is what characterizes the Palestinian people: steadfastness and resistance in the face of all adversity; even small children can express it with their natural reactions more than any words or speeches. The soldier on the other hand is a human being that has been forced by the Israeli occupation machine to lose his humanity.

Whenever I think of Palestinian children and their lives under occupation, I always think of the Israeli children. As adults, we have a commitment to both sets of children to provide a safe environment for them to live peacefully. It is not the occupation or the wall or the ongoing aggression against my people that will bring safety or security for Israeli children, only peace that is based on justice will do so. Justice means that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people must be considered. Israel must recognize its moral responsibility towards the Palestinian refugees.

While Israel is physically outside Gaza, it still completely controls our lives, all aspects of our lives: health, education, economy and freedom of movement.

Life under occupation is degrading to human dignity. It has deprived us of our freedom, and only free people can make peace. It is most peculiar that we are forced to deal with the patterns of life under occupation as normal, well-established facts and when people lost hope and faith in the world or any future chances for change, and when the world turns its head away.

On the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, it is fitting to call once again on the international community to put pressure on Israel to fulfil its obligations by abiding by the UN resolutions related to Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israeli occupation should be ended now and the right of return must not be forgotten.

Thank you.

Memorial Day 3,500 x 100

This Memorial Day the number of US soldier casualties in Iraq nears 3,500.

At 1,000 we held a vigil in Acacia Park. We did the same at the 1,500 and 2,000 marks. The numbered-cross memorial we mounted at Camp Casey COS commemorated near 2,000 deaths. The “Eyes Wide Open” boot collection came to town as the number exceeded 2,500. Colorado Springs was its last stop because the figures began to require too many boots to unpack at each stop. We met again in the park for the 3,000th, but I’m not going to eulogize any more boots until the number reaches 50,000.

That’s well into Vietnam War casualty territory and that’s where we’re going. The war got its funding, the military has revealed its plans to double the troop levels, the President is warning us to expect US casualties to surge, and sure enough we’re seeing the body count rise. Eight, fifteen a day. Not counting mercenaries. And still no one’s tallying the Iraqi dead.

I’m okay not to count the mercenaries. But what of our volunteer army, signing ever-increasing re-enlistment bonuses? I don’t want to count them either. Our soldiers keep shipping themselves off to Iraq to serve well-enough-documented evil illegal deeds. What’s to commemorate, really? They’re not jumping off cliffs, they’re driving armored vehicles into Iraqi children on the way.

Our soldier’s souls are already lost to us. That’s 150,000 active in Iraq. 300,000 counting the mercenaries. Plus who ever’s being held back with PTSD. Cry about that.

On this date in 1973, the military had counted 44 deaths for El Paso County. It was not enough even then.

Homeless vets, the Iraq generation

There’s a little discount store I like to frequent where I get inexpensive health food. I crossed paths there today with some homeless young men. It was only a matter of time I thought, before the truly needy discovered this little store, known so far only by less needy bohemians.

They were Iraq vets, young men, hair grown long, vagabonds, not unfriendly, not talkative either except with each other. The conversation didn’t get far because the three reeked of lived-in clothes. You think you can bear it when first one approaches, but in enclosed quarters the smell pierces your nostrils and persists even hours later. I had to leave.

They were vets yes, in a war they wanted nothing to do with. It was fucked up. Don’t blame me, one of them said, it’s the assholes in charge. They had more colorful words for assholes.

We’re not supposed to blame you, I countered? Well I do. I blame Rumsfeld of course, and Bush & Co, but I blame the soldiers too. I blame them plenty. The soldiers marched off to war, got in our face with their militarism, had their families cheerlead for them. Soldiers killed a mess of Iraqis, innocent people by the vast majority. Now the soldiers come home and threaten us with their PTSD and reckless anger. You three are choosing to protest militarism by dropping out, but what about protesting more visibly? What you’re doing now is as selfish as your decision to go along in the first place. You are vicitms, my God, look at you, but you were also the perpetrators.

Tell me, how do we send a message to the other soldiers? How do we reach the soldiers still doing the deeds, torturing, murdering, raping the prostitutes, raiding the houses, smashing the tableware, kicking the children?

I say, incarcerate them. Let them know the judgment awaiting them at home. Make them consider making a moral decision to stop providing the muscle for Bush’s crimes of war. Sure Rumsfeld is guilty, but you’re all guilty. It’s a tough break, but you’re complicit whether you agreed or not. The boys walked out as I walked out.

The Vietnam War left a legacy of homeless vets to roam our streets and parks to this day. Obviously the next generation is already on that trail, stretching their government checks to cover food and drug, here and there. In Manitou it’s easy to live in the foothills. A bum can be social or anti-social. When the weather gets cold he will move down to the shelter.

In the meantime the homeless vets will reek up my favorite places with their slept-in combat boots and their mental ill-health not up to facing their consciences. They might even pose a threat to the neighborhood when they’re drunk, I can’t judge them on that in advance.

These boys didn’t seem un-bright, but they’re adding nothing to the community once again. If they were not the dreck of society before they went to war, they are now.

Support our snively troops

Vandalism at Camp Casey
We’ve had a spate of vandalism at Camp Casey of late. It’s usually the same thing: lights broken, cinder blocks smashed, chairs upturned, fire pit stolen, banners torn and taken. They’ve taken STOP THE WAR, END WAR, WHAT NOBLE CAUSE, DEMOCRACY DEMANDS NON-VIOLENCE and many others. We simply make more. But they always leave the banner that reads SUPPORT OUR TROOPS – BRING THEM HOME NOW. What self-serving ninnies!

There might be well-intentioned, ordinary Americans caught up in Bush’s lies, out in Iraq and Afghanistan thinking they are protecting our freedoms. But they are killing innocents. They are murdering innocents. They are aiding and abeiting their fellow soldiers who are murdering innocents. At some point we’d have to say that being an idealist idiot cannot be an excuse.

Let me at these troops we’re supposed to support. I’ll spit in the face of every one of them. Idiots. Moral degenerates. Cowards. They’re afraid to do the right thing and resist immoral orders, afraid to face the brig instead of putting themselves in the position to be forced to kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis. I sympathize with every one of them but I respect not a one. They are all cowards, idiots, killers, or scum. And their parents are indefensible.

Bring the troops home, yes. To save the lives of innocents. What should I care about the soldier’s lives? Three years into this war, it would be fair to say they’ve earned what’s coming to them in this life or the next. Cowards and bastards every one.

ERRATUM 7.26
I’ve gotten so much heat for writing this. As I deserve. I’ve met active duty soldiers who are fine human beings, whom I like, all with their own stories of how they were caught up in what’s happened. A number are involved in the anti-war effort. I applaud their actions and really my original sentiment was harsh.

I do believe that the end of this war will have to come, as it did in Vietnam, when the soldiers themselves refuse to serve. When soldiers say no, when officers fear that their men will not follow, is when the Pentagon tells the President that this war is over.

It’s a tall order to ask of a common soldier, but it would not be a selfless act. Opting to go to the brig would be wiser than risking a tour of duty with IEDs, PTSD, permanent moral trauma, exposure to DU, the Anthrax vaccine, etc.