A confluence of topics dealing with mental health, substance abuse, health, public health, Social Work, education, politics, the humanities, and spirituality at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. In short, this blog is devoted to the improvment of the quality of life of human beings in the universe.
I was reading at article recently which said that 1/3 of female soldiers in the United States military report being raped. I thought, "How can that be? That can't be right," and so I did a little research and it not only is right, but 1/3 may be low. Here is a snippet from an article in the Los Angeles Times from March 31, 2008. Here is a snippet:
The stories are shocking in their simplicity and brutality: A female military recruit is pinned down at knifepoint and raped repeatedly in her own barracks. Her attackers hid their faces but she identified them by their uniforms; they were her fellow soldiers. During a routine gynecological exam, a female soldier is attacked and raped by her military physician. Yet another young soldier, still adapting to life in a war zone, is raped by her commanding officer. Afraid for her standing in her unit, she feels she has nowhere to turn.
These are true stories, and, sadly, not isolated incidents. Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.
The scope of the problem was brought into acute focus for me during a visit to the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, where I met with female veterans and their doctors. My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41% of female veterans seen at the clinic say they were victims of sexual assault while in the military, and 29% report being raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and the downward spirals many of their lives have since taken.
Numbers reported by the Department of Defense show a sickening pattern. In 2006, 2,947 sexual assaults were reported -- 73% more than in 2004. The DOD's newest report, released this month, indicates that 2,688 reports were made in 2007, but a recent shift from calendar-year reporting to fiscal-year reporting makes comparisons with data from previous years much more difficult.
My wife and I had 9 children: 3 sons and 6 daughters. We have 12 grandchildren: 8 granddaughters and 4 grandsons. I would be opposed to their being in a situation where they were that likely to be raped. Using the 1/3 rape rate that would mean that 2 of my daughters and almost 3 of my granddaughters would be raped if they were in military service. It is a terrifying thought which leaves me with the conclusion that the greatest threat of terrorist attack to my loved ones would be in the United States military, not for Al Queda or whoever it is we are supposed to be afraid of.
NOW on PBS covers rape story.
Video lasts 3:45
CNN - Recruiter rape - Video lasts 6:20
Harry Shearer is a clever man. Watch his music video of 935 lies. It's entertaining, funny, informative and will make you laugh and cry.
Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Pearle, Wolfowitz pulled such a con on the American people, and a dysfunctional congress went right along with the bullshit being beholden to corporate America which put them into office and stood to profit in the trillions at our expense. How long will it take Americans to get pissed? How long will it take before they are smart enough, and humble enough, to admit they've been had?
Shame leads to two coping mechanisms: hiding and rage. When will Americans get tired of hiding and the rage start to emerge? As gas starts going to $5.00 per gallon, and more and more Americans get thrown out of their homes, and more and more middle class Americans get bankrupted by health care costs, the proverbial shit may start hitting the fan.
This is an essay I have wanted to write for some time, but have never felt confident that I had the words to accurately express my thoughts and feelings. I have looked for other authors who could state the ideas more clearly and succinctly than I can, but having found none, I have decided to take the risk and try to express the idea myself.
On this memorial day, I have a great deal of difficulty honoring and paying tribute to people who have engaged in immoral, unethical, and perhaps even criminal behavior. I am talking about soldiers who willingly and readily engaged in the killing in the immoral wars in Viet Nam and Iraq. Participating in the immoral wars of empire is not an honorable or moral activity. The defense that the soldier is “only doing their job”, and “just following orders” is the same as the German soldiers who transported the Jewish people and manned the crematoriums during the Holocaust. This defense was judged to be inadequate in the Nuremberg trials after World War II and it is not adequate for our soldiers immoral activity in a war of imperial conquest now.
There are courageous and heroic people who objected to the criminal activity and said “Hell no, I won’t go!”, and who rejected further service. I call these soldiers, “Soldiers of conscience” because they have reflected on the activities they were being ordered to participate in and judged them immoral and objectionable and at great personal sacrifice said so and refused to participate. They're people of conscience I admire, honor, and respect and yet the majority of Americans seem embarrassed by them because they force us as a nation to examine our nation’s policies and activities and we are conflicted and ashamed. It is another example of the classic case of the little boy saying to his mother, “The king has no clothes on!” and she tells her son to “Hush up!” because she fears the reprisal and retribution for his honesty.
As a therapist, I hypothesize that a great deal of what gets diagnosed as PTSD is a case of overwhelmingly guilty consciences at what was done, or what was seen done, and what was participated in, and yet there is no socially acceptable mechanism for individual soldiers and us, as a nation, to confess our sins, acknowledge our guilt, ask for forgiveness, and repent. This spiritually cleansing strategy has been labeled by the current Republicans and conservative pundits as “cut and run”. And yet it is much more psychological and spiritually healthy to call a spade a spade, take the bull by the horns, determine the nature and degree of harm done, and attempt to rectify and repair the harm.
Our current political climate and culture is too imbued with hubris to admit mistakes, take responsibility for immoral and illegal behavior, admit wrongs done, and apologize and make amends. So the iconic images and ideas of Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo, of extraordinary rendition, of deceit in justifying a pursuit to war, makes us as a nation hide our shame by sporting yellow “support the troops” magnetic ribbons on our cars and pretend that memorial day is a day to celebrate the heroic sacrifices of the activities of soldiers who have engaged in immoral, illegal, and unethical acts in our name.
We do no service to ourselves and to them when we lie and deceive ourselves and others about the horror we have inflicted on Iraq, Viet Nam, and other people’s around the world.
As Nuremberg trials concluded, at the end of the day, the individual conscience is supreme and to excuse one’s moral choices saying “ I was serving my country” or “I was following the orders of the Commander in Chief” is no defense.
When we look at the indicators of mental health among our soldiers: the rates of PTSD and other psychiatric problems, the suicide rates, the dysfunction among military families, I have to ask myself on Memorial Day, who is kidding who? If this activity is so grand and noble why the terrible psychic sequelae?
We have allowed ourselves as a nation to follow a delusional administration, and a dysfunctional congress into engaging in a pre-emptive, immoral, and illegal war. As Michael Moore pointed out on Larry King live over 100 million Americans, about 1/3 of the voting public knew the war was wrong. Millions more around the world knew the war was wrong. The United States essentially declared war alone with many more nations being unwilling than the touted few who were willing. The Pope and other major religious leaders around the world declared the war immoral. How can this be the occasion for honor and tribute? It will only make us crazier. It is better to call sin what it is – sin, and then go from there.
I honor the prophets, like the little boy who saw that the emperor had no clothes on, and thank them for their enlightened witnessing when those in power and the “moral majority” who support them have lost their way.
This Memorial Day should be a day of reflection and repentance. Let’s stop glorifying and honoring what is morally ugly. Let’s provide opportunities for truth and reconciliation instead of military jingoism and chauvanism. What many of our soldiers need is moral cleansing, along with our leaders, and then maybe it wouldn’t be necessary for them to kill themselves and go nuts.
Here is video with Darrell Anderson who is one veteran whom I admire and honor very much. The video lasts a little over 4 minutes and is worth every second.
On November 16, 2007, Bill Moyers had a signigicant story on how the FCC is screwing the American people, and the people are getting upset. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is trying to railroad a change in regulations which will allow large media corporations to consolidate media outlets even further. The segment is something every American should watch. To go to the Journal video, click on the link below.
On Monday, September 17,2007, Amy Goodman interviewed Naomi Klein on Democracy Now about Naomi's new book, "The Shock Doctrine". Naomi's observation is that free market capitalists wait until a societal crisis, or create a societal crisis, in order to implement their economic ideas, ideas which free and democratic people would never accept, approve, and implement had there not been a crisis. It is a fascinating thesis and Naomi makes a compelling case. She is a very articulate, and intelligent speaker and I highly recommend listening to her on this program. Below is a description of the show from the Democracy Now web site. Click on the link below to listen on line or download the show.
Pinochet's coup in Chile. The massacre in Tiananmen Square. The collapse of the Soviet Union. September 11th, 2001. The war on Iraq. The Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Award-winning investigative journalist Naomi Klein brings together all of these world-changing events in her new book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." In her first national broadcast interview since the publication of "The Shock Doctrine," Klein joins us in our firehouse studio for the hour. Klein writes, "The history of the contemporary free market was written in shocks." She argues that "Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market reforms." [includes rush transcript]
If you have any interest in the corruption of the Bush Administration you will find this video on the Greatscat! web site very interesting.
As Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool some of the people some of time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time."
The American people have been lied to and played for fools. Crimes have been perpetrated in their name, and their poorer people have been sent off to die while the plutocrats have enriched their coffers.
Every American should watch this 6 minute video. It is very powerful depiction of the deceit and lies told to the American people. To watch, go to the Greatscat! web site by clicking on the link below.
Chris Hedges book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War On Terror, is a very important book which every American should read. The fundamental Christians, some of whom are called Dominionists, have infiltrated our government at all levels and intend to turn the United States into a Christian nation. They complain about being persecuted by satanic forces like "liberals", "secularlists", "humanists", "gays", and a population that is "unsaved" and they seek to dominate, to control, to influence the whole society.
These American Fascists have no respect for the separation of church and state, no respect for the rule of law other than what they call "God's law" of which they are the final arbiter. They disparage anyone not like themselves such as Catholics, "liberal protestants", Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, anyone of a different faith. They seek to take over the schools and universities and to gain control over the levers of government at all levels from school boards,to county administrations, to state and federal offices. They lie, coerce, shame, blame, exclude, discriminate, and under the guise of "christian love" spread a message of hate attacking those who do not agree with their own ideology. This may seem like a strong indictment but Chris Hedges is very serious when he ends his book with these sentences:
"But I do believe that the radical Christian Right is a sworn and potent enemy of the open society. Its ideology bears within it the tenets of a Christian fascism. In the event of a crisis, in the event of another catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic meltdown or huge environmental disaster, the movement stands poised to manipulate fear and chaos ruthlessly and reshape America in ways that have not been seen since the nation's founding. All Americans - not only those of faith - who care about our open society must learn to speak about this movement with a new vocalulary, to give up passivity, to challenge aggressively this movement's deluded appropriation of Christriantity and to do everthing posssible to defend tolerance. The attacks by this movement on the rights and beliefs of Muslims, Jews, immigrants, gays, lesbians, women, scholars, scientists, those they dismiss as "nominal Christans," and those they brand with the curse of "secular humanist" are an attack on all of us, on our values, our freedoms and ultimately our democracy. Tolerance is a vitrue, but tolerance coupled with passivity is a vice."
If these warnings seem over the top consider the statements made by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell that the cause of 9/11 was the secularization of the United States as evidenced by providing gays with rights, and women with the reproductive right of abortion. Consider the situation in Dover Pennsylvannia where the school board mandated that Creationism be taught in the schools instead of the evolution. Consider the disregard for science in regards to climate change, making available the morning after pill, stem cell research, and the fiasco of the Terri Shiavo case. Consider the unbelievable control and power given to Monica Goodling, a graduate from Pat Robertson's Regent University in her 30s, to create a litmus test for U.S. Attorneys which she admitted under oath to a Senate Judiciary committee went "over the line." Consider the appointment of numerous judges to federal courts, and even the United States Supreme Court, whose main qualification is not their jurisprudence, but their compliance with a religious standard which was a main bargaining chip for support of the Bush administration by the religious right in the 2000 and 2004 election.
Chris Hedges discusses this and much more in his book. I highly recommend it, and would even say that it should be required reading for every American voter.
One of my favorite bumper stickers recently says, "I'm not afraid of terrorists. Don't create a police state on my account."
Americans seem ever more willing to give up their civil liberties for the promise of security. The REAL ID act was passed in 2005 requiring all Americans to have a National Identification Card. Eight states have so far passed resolutions opposing this program. Over the last eight years as we watch the fiascos in Iraq, in the management of Katrina, in the horrible governmental management of the immigrant situation, and the governmental corruption of Congressman Duke Cunningham and the firing of 8 U.S. attorneys by the Department of Justice, do you really think the Federal Government can fairly and appropriately manage and utilize a Federal ID program?
This joke would be funny if it were not so true.
What are the 3 biggest lies ever told?
I'll still love you in the morning. The check is in the mail. I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.
A Federal Identification program is probably a bad idea whose time has not yet come. The ability of the Federal government to obtain and use our personal information legitimately and appropriately seems highly unlikely. The information can be easily accessed and used for nefarious reasons as we saw in Florida and Ohio when thousands of black voters where disenfranchised so Republicans could win in the elections. We now have electronic voting which is easily rigged and abused in many states, and can you imagine what they would do with National ID information?
Let your elected representatives know nationally and state-wide that National IDs are a bad idea.
Shooter, staring Mark Wahlberg, is a military thriller about a Marine sharp shooter who gets called out of retirement to help the government protect the President only to be framed as the assassin, and who then, to save his life, goes on the lam in order to try to clear himself and restore justice in a government gone amuck.
It is an entertaining movie if you like this genre, but the more interesting observation is that the lesson of this film is that the United States government is corrupt, unjust, not to be trusted, only interested in money and power, and impotent to bring about any order and justice. What it takes for justice to occur is for a highly skilled, courageous, and morally righteous ex-soldier to take things into own own hands and kill the rogue politicians and government officials.
If popular culture is a barometer of the state of our nation, it is a frightening thing to watch these morality tales of what it takes to restore honor, justice, and competence to our National government.
This film is marketed as thriller entertainment, but embedded in its story is a very sobering message which a mature audience should pay attention to and address before our nation further looses its soul.
The U.S. vs. John Lennon is a documentary released in 2006 which depicts the movement of John Lennon from his musical career as a Beatle to one of social activist protesting the Viet Nam war and advocating for peace.
John had a great vision, an authentic life, and made a great contribution to the world both musically and prophetically. John was harassed by the F.B.I., and President Nixon and his administration who were so threatened by his anti-war activities that they wanted him deported from the United States. The parallels between the 70s and this first decade of the 21st century are striking. This documentary is well worth watching and I highly recommend it.