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Friday, April 27, 2007

how the press helped kill thousands of soldiers

UPDATE 5/7/07: My nephew-in-law, who also served a year in Iraq (for the Guard, not the Army), let me know that he thinks this blog entry—the part about the soldier who’s now experiencing PTSD— is hurtful to soldiers who served in Iraq. He was referring specifically to the part where I say that it was a terrible waste of a year in this soldier’s life. He said that he, for one, does not feel his year in Iraq was a waste and that he feels he did a lot of good while he was over there. I’m glad he feels that way—not everyone who served in Iraq does.

My nephew-in-law also said people are reading this entry and are thinking it’s about him, and it might hurt him if I don’t remove this entry and that more and more people are seeing it everyday. I’m sorry if people are thinking this—my nephew-in-law is not the only military person I know and I can’t help whatever assumptions people make. So, to the people who know who my nephew-in-law is and think this entry is about him: stop jumping to conclusions. I’m not going to name names or reveal my sources—that’s not the point of the entry. The point is that this war is evil and has consequences that go far beyond statistics; that it has long-term consequences in terms of the damage wrought on human lives; and that the consequences should not be minimized or swept under the rug the way they were during the Vietnam conflict.

The way the consequences of this war on our own soldiers have been mostly hidden and definitely minimized only exacerbates the damage. Suffering from PTSD is not shameful; repeating—as a society—the same mistakes we should’ve learned to fix from Vietnam IS shameful. The more people who speak up and say, “This is happening” the better—maybe it will sink in.

Someone I know served a year in Iraq. Last time I talked with him, he seemed to be unscathed, at least in terms of not being phsyically wounded and seemingly emotionally okay. His unit didn’t lose any soldiers so he didn’t have to watch his buddies die. He seemed cheerful, outgoing, happy to be getting back to life stateside. He didn’t bring up his time in Iraq, but he didn’t evade questions about it. He didn’t seem weird, or like there was something just not right. Yes, nasty about the people of the country he helped occupy (except for the kids)—but that kind of thing I remember from Vietnam days, how the gentlest of men who didn’t have a thing against anybody would come back snarling about “gooks” and what vermin they thought they were. The military doesn’t exactly stress sensitivity.

So I was happy when I thought this soldier managed to survive his tour relatively intact.

But he isn’t. I won’t go into the details, but he’s having dreams and flashbacks and did something that, if he were a civilian, would’ve landed him in prison. It was a choice of psychiatric treatment or bad consequences would happen. So he isn’t intact—he came back with post-traumatic stress disorder. I am relieved he is getting treatment so soon (relatively, anyway)—I know guys from Vietnam who were ill with PTSD for years and years before they were able to get treatment of any kind. And some of these guys never did get treatment and are among the homeless or the institutionalized or the dead.

But I am still stunned at how he just snapped. I hope he recovers. He has a wife who loves him dearly; strong, supportive, and good parents; a large and loving family—both his own family and the one he married into. I hope it’s enough support so that, along with treatment, he can stop having the nightmares and settle in to the life he wanted before he was sent to Iraq. What a terrible waste of a year of his life and of the time it will take him to recover from that wasted year.

I’ve been angry about the Iraq war since before it even started. But after hearing the news about the soldier, and watching the media overkill of the Virginia Tech thing while ignoring the soldiers and civilians dying in Iraq every day, I’m back to the boiling point. And I don’t know what to do.

We watched Bill Moyer’s Journal: Buying the War, which you can see in its entirety here: It should be required watching for anyone who plans to vote. In it, he details how journalists, predominantly inside-the-Beltway journalists, drank the Bushie Kool-Aid, how very little actual reporting was (and is) done, how our national “papers of record” schilled for the administration instead of doing any serious reporting. He pointed out that there were journalists doing some very fine reporting on what bullshit the “case” for the Iraq war was (and still is), but since they were not the beltway big guys, they were ignored. Most damming, I think, was how little press coverage was given to voices of dissent, including dissent by important leaders such as Sen. Ted Kennedy. Just watch it—you won’t be bored and will probably be surprised at how angry you can still get even after all these mind-numbing years.

And to George Tenant, I say “fuck you.” You, and people like Sen. Dick Durbin (who admitted he knew the intelligence was bad but said he couldn’t say anything about it so he just voted “no”) and Powell—I don’t forgive you, I don’t accept your apologies. With your silence or your complicity you’ve murdered 3300 soldiers and more than half a million Iraqis and maimed tens of thousands more soldiers and civilians. I won’t pay money for your books or listen to your mea culpas. Just tell me the plan for getting the soldiers out of Iraq within a couple of months—as fast as you can move them to the airports and get them out of there.

And that’s my rant. I wish I could do more than write about it or campaign for candidates who want to get us out of there or write letters to my hawk Congressman (Shays) or that dipshit Sen. LIEberman. At least Sen. Dodd in favor of getting our soldiers out as soon as possible. I don’t know what else to do.

posted by lee on 04/27/07 at 09:20 PM

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

at 9½ months

She is back home in Oscoda after wintering in Ann Arbor. She is wondering why her humans are bothering her with that annoying light. She is wondering where that boy is, and sort of misses the face she slept on during the winter months, but is very happy to be back with her chosen humans. They are so much more accommodating. And Einstein just loves being back in her rocking chair. There is so much more room to run here, and the silly birds are starting to show up so she can watch them out the window. She wonders when the hummingbirds will be back. But mostly she’s glad to see her humans, but would never let them know that. (click image to enlarge)

Einstein Cat at 9 1/2 months, Oscoda, MI, April 5, 2007

She knows she’s getting very handsome and her coat is so pretty now. She thinks she looks very alert with her wide-open eyes, but her humans think she looks a little demented. Yes, she’s crazy like a cat, she thinks, ha ha!

posted by lee on 04/11/07 at 05:10 PM

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a new zone

Where I live, here on the Connecticut coast about 1¼ miles from the waters of western Long Island Sound, all my gardening books tell me I live in Zone 6. Winters are supposed to get as cold as -10° F. But now I live in Zone 7, where winters rarely get colder than 0° F. Or so the Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming says.

It’s appalling to move the slider between 1990 and 2006 and see how much the zones shift north.

According to the Guide, our state flower, the mountain laurel, is endangered by the rise in tempterature. The Guide contains a map of state trees and state flowers throughout the United States that are endangered by climate change—that, too, is appalling to look at.

This is just 16 years of change.

posted by lee on 04/11/07 at 05:00 PM

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

another website launch

This is why I’ve been so busy: ServiClean was launched today. ServiClean is a cleaning service for residential and commercial clients in Western Fairfield County. ServiClean has been in business for some time now, but only recently decided to implement a website.

This site was done in Xhtml and CSS—no content management system needed. It was kind of fun to get back to hand coding html again. What the clients want is a site that describes their services and offers a way to buy cleaning service gift certificates online. We used PayPal as the payment system since the entry fee is pretty much nil and it handles all the major credit cards, echecks, and PayPal account payments.

They also needed a new logo, and while I’ve done logos, any good ones I’ve come up with are a result of blood, sweat, toil, and tears. So I referred ServiClean to Victoria Clement of Chave Design—I like the logo she designed a lot and ServiClean is also very happy with it. (Vicky needs to get her website done so I can link to it!) The plan for the site is to replace the stock photos with photos of ServiClean staff and supervisors, and that will happen over the next couple of weeks. And pretty soon we will add a form for scheduling and estimate. The Google Map is made and uploaded, the verification key for Google is posted and tomorrow I’ll see to Yahoo. I think the gift certificate idea is so cool—I never would’ve thought about getting a gift certificate for cleaning service. I’d love to get that even if it meant I had to clean my house enough to let the cleaning service in to clean. You know what I mean. One more site is almost ready for launch—that one should go live next week. A huge, complicated site which we built on the Expression Engine platform. But more about that one when it launches (a client from another country—the one that makes us an international company!)

posted by lee on 04/04/07 at 02:48 PM

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