Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Dear Abby's covering Iraq (not everyone else can make that claim)

As Iraq continues to fall off the radar, for many Dear Abby may be the only Iraq coverage they see this week:

DEAR ABBY: I am a soldier currently deployed in Iraq. My unit's mission has ended, but we must remain here for the next two months with no real mission to occupy our time. Because of this, I, along with other soldiers, spend free time in the gym. Recently, a female American civilian contractor has started working out at the same time I do. She's gorgeous and wears skimpy, provocative clothing while working out. Is it wrong for me to stare? Should I confront her? -- Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Iraq

DEAR CRUEL AND UNUSUAL: You know darn well that it's wrong to stare. Didn't your mother tell you that staring is rude? Do not "confront" the woman. Have a gym supervisor talk to her or you might get in trouble for harassment. Or better yet, change the time of your workout.

Good for Jeanne Phillips for remembering the Iraq War. Kim Carollo (ABC News) reports on PTSD:

Between 2004 and 2007, researchers gave out anonymous surveys to four active duty brigade combat teams and two National Guard combat team three months and 12 months after deployment. The surveys screened soldiers for PTSD, depression, alcohol misuse and aggressive behavior and asked them to report whether these problems impacted their ability to get along with others, take care of things at home or perform their job duties.
"A high number of those that had symptoms of PTSD and depression also reported some aspect of impairment," said Jeffrey L. Thomas, one of the study's co-authors. "The range was about 9 to 14 percent." Depression rates ranged from 5 percent to 8.5 percent.

Yesterday we were noting NPR's joint-investigation with ProPublica -- led by T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling -- into Traumatic Brain Injury. NPR's TBI folder can be found here. The continued coverage includes a lengthy segment on All Things Considered yesterday -- here for audio option, here for transcript. Excerpt:

ZWERDLING: Michelle Dyarman was on the dean's list back in college. She got a master's. She became a captain in Iraq. Then in late 2005, Dyarman was in two explosions. The worst was two days before Christmas.

Maj. DYARMAN: And there was so much dust and dirt and debris flying around. We had to wait like two minutes for it to settle. I realized I had a screaming bad headache. Take the worst headache you've ever had and multiply it by about a thousand. And I've had an ongoing headache ever since.

ZWERDLING: Studies show that a blast wave shoots through metal. It shoots through skulls and brains even if it doesn't draw blood. And the blast wave can damage the brain cells and circuits in ways that researchers don't fully understand. But Army doctors hardly treated Dyarman for her traumatic brain injury. And today, she slumps at the dining table. She says just that morning, she visited a friend in another town and she couldn't find her way home.

Maj. DYARMAN: I got - I had - I got lost three times. I did turn around and find my way three times. And I've driven that route many a time.

ZWERDLING: Dyarman left the Army two years ago, and she's gone back to the job she had before the war. She inspects doctors' X-ray machines for the state. One of her colleagues says, sometimes, we have to cover for Michelle. She turns in inspection reports with lots of blanks.

Maj. DYARMAN: And I struggle with the reports. It's difficult to put together the whole report, to...

ZWERDLING: Officials at the Pentagon wouldn't talk to us about Dyarman or any specific soldiers, but we've spent four months investigating how the military is handling traumatic brain injuries. We've interviewed dozens of soldiers across the country. We've interviewed generals and medics. We've reviewed thousands of records. And the evidence suggests that the military system for diagnosing and treating TBIs has failed the troops at almost every step of the way.

If you live for very long without ever saying something stupid, there are three possibilities: (1) You're very lucky; (2) You can't speak; (3) You're kidding yourself. Most people will fall into the third category. I don't kid myself, I say stupid things all the time. And I know Ike Skelton who says many smart things many times. But the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee has said something so incredibly stupid that prizes should be handed out for it. Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports that Skelton is couching his objection to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell on, and this is a quote from him, "What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?"

Well, Ike, they talk about rimming and they talk about blow jobs and they -- What world is Ike living in? Do you talk to your seven-year-old child about sex to begin with? For most of us, the answer is "no." Not in any graphic terms.

I'm failing to see how an openly gay service member requires a sex talk with seven-year-old children since a presumably straight service member has never demanded the nation discuss sex with children.

Ike's lived a long time and long enough to absorb many prejudices. He's smart enough to reject them and hopefully he will. If not, he needs to be voted out of office. I really like Ike but is that going to be his excuse for objecting to everything? Certainly it might to object to same-sex marriage. But for all we know, he may next object to a health proposal on the grounds that it would require seven-year-olds be told, in explicit detail, what two men or two women might do together in bed.

"What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" asked Ike. Presumably worried for all the straight children in the world and unaware that the population isn't 100% straight. Some of those children will be gay and some of those children will have gay parents.

Ike, when you see two animals on the farm -- of the same gender -- making out in front of kids, what do you tell them about that?

You offer the simplest explanation that's age-appropriate. And it's not difficult to do.

Again, this is such a stupid remark -- and I know from stupid remarks, believe me, I've made enough of them in my lifetime -- that it should win an award.

The following community sites updated last night -- plus some other sites tossed in so it can be an easy copy and paste:

Ideally, there are three entries this morning. This is from Tim King's "The Bigot on Comedy Central: Jon Stewart and the Crucifixion of Helen Thomas" (Salem-News):

There is a reason Jon Stewart has such an intact comedy news throne. He's well educated, always current, a sharp wit; he's funny, and he's the right religion. In my mind's eye, Stewart's face keeps blurring with Ted Nugent's, and those of other heroes who have eventually shown their real colors. The reason is simple: these are the pop culture sellouts.
"Never Forget" stands for the rights of Palestiniansand all the world's oppressed people
I could care less what religion he or anyone else is, until it starts getting in the way of the human race, which it did in last night's program where he rips into veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas.
No, I did not include the clip, that's on the Daily Show site, though I did include some video to illustrate why blind support of Israel's systematic elimination of the Palestinian people is a goal that only brings great reprisal and retaliation.
It takes comedy down a dreary road in my opinion, when people like Stewart speak in terms so ignorantly offensive to Palestinians, journalists, and all people with half a brain in on-air jobs, who have some control over their final script. But all comedy aside, Stewart is heartless for attacking nine generations of American journalism and history, a person who knew Presidents when Stewart was still a baby playing in his poop.
Helen Thomas, the only real voice in her league with the guts and fortitude to tell the truth about what Israel has become; a cruel gatekeeper for a whole population that owned the land Israel now comprises, only 60 years ago.

I shared my thoughts on the attacks on Helen yesterday. I did not hear Jon Stewart's remarks and have no comment and am making no comment until/unless I do.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends