Monday, September 27, 2010

Veterans issues

Seth Meyers: But you know what else is crazy? Anyone who says we need to attack Iran because we're definitely in two wars already. Yes, two. Because saying combat operations are over in Iraq when they're are still 50,000 troops is like saying, 'Hey, I quit drinking . . . tequila shots!'

Amy Poehler: Really.

Seth Meyers: Really.

The above is from Weekend Update on this weekend's Saturday Night Live (click here to stream the episode at NBC, click here to stream it at Hulu and click here to stream the Weekend Update clip at Hulu). Both entries this morning open with it and this one gives you the explanation. One friend performing on the show Saturday and one friend who's an SNL writer had a fit and couldn't believe that Ava and I didn't note SNL at Third, especially the above which the writer says should have been a "Truest statement of the week." We didn't watch SNL. The opening sketch was so awful we turned it off in the middle. (Really? We're going to play a skit with two men and one woman and the woman's a witch? And after sexualizing Sarah Palin we're now going to have another woman speak in a voice higher than the woman she's parodying? Really?) We were actually being kind by avoiding SNL and we also had a real report to do ("TV: It Takes Two") and the other piece ["Week in TV recap (Ava and C.I.)"] was just odds and ends that we threw together in about five to six minutes so that the writing edition would be over. OVER. Because we wanted to get to sleep. Two friends made clear in Sunday night phone calls that they were pissed off -- but Third had already published (here's a hint, stop rushing to the after-party and call then and say, "Hey, we're really proud of one bit and we think it needs some acknowledgment"), so I stated we would open both Mondy morning entries with the above. It is worth at least one morning entry. It may be worth two. The Weekend Update "Really" sketch was funny (it often is, it was funny long before it was ever a SNL skit -- remember), topical and worth noting. Had we heard about the above, we would have voted Seth a "Truest statement of the week." It was deserving.

No, the Iraq War is not over. Sam Cooper (Waterbury Republican-American) reports, "A procession of friends and neighbors somberly filed in and out of the family home of Army Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan on Sunday to pay their respects to a man described as an American patriot." Meanwhile 700 members of the Texas National Guard are en route to DC today and then on to Iraq at the end of the year. Yesterday, there was a send-off ceremony for them in Austin. Patrick George (Austin American-Statesman) reports that among those joining the ceremony were Texas Governor Rick Perry and also adds, "The unit's history includes combat in France during World War I and then landing in Italy to ultimately help retake Rome in World War II. They also liberated some of the subcamps of Germany's Dachau concentration camp in 1945." Rhonda Lee (KXAN -- link has text and video) reports on the send-off ceremony with an emphasis on the families. (Note, the male anchor intro-ing Lee's report is not only incorrect, he's insulting and I would assume National Guard members and their families have already complained about his assertion. The Guard has been in Iraq from the start of the illegal war.)

In veterans news, Nick Carey and Murray Waas (Reuters) report on a new study on Virginia's Iraq and Afghanistan Wars which is being issued tomorrow and finds over 1/4 suffer from head injuries and 2/3 experience depression. In North Carolina, Jennifer Calhoun (Fayetteville Observer) reports the VA Medical Center next to Fort Brag is seeing a record number of veterans, 4,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans from January 2010 through June 2010 alone: "The caseload for the Fayetteville VA appears destined to grow as more soldiers leave active service and become part of the veterans health-care system. The active-duty mental health system is already overwhelmed: Fort Bragg sent 1,519 soldiers to civilian providers between October 2009 and August because they couldn't be seen in a timely manner." Calhoun also writes an article zooming in on Iraq War veteran Francisco Hernandez Jr. which puts a face on the issues at stake:

The memories get to him. He sees buddies with faces full of shrapnel and bloodied children crying at the feet of dead men. He remembers the fear and the ambushes as if they were still happening.
He keeps a suicide hot line number on his refrigerator.
Anti-depressants help. Regular therapy sessions do, too. But some days, the depression takes over and he's sad, angry or unable to focus.
"I'm just tired of the pain, you know?" he said. "It's just sometimes, you start asking yourself, 'Why am I even here?' "
Those are the days he wishes he'd died in the war. The dead ones, he said, are the real heroes.

Bonnie notes that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Priorities" went up last night. We'll close with this from Coleen Rowley's "Inspector General Criticism Doesn't Faze FBI Raids on Midwstern Anti-war Activists" (War Is A Crime):

The war on dissent, rather than terrorism, continued full steam with FBI SWAT teams breaking down doors at 7 am Friday (Sept 24) morning and raiding the homes of several anti-war leaders and activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and possibly a couple other Midwest cities. Members of the FBI's "Joint Terrorism Task Force" spent a few hours at each Minneapolis residence, seizing personal photographs and papers, computers and cell phones as well as serving Federal Grand Jury subpoenas on the various activists.

Obviously the scathing review of post 9-11 FBI "terrorism investigations" targeting various peace and social justice groups completed by the Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) and just issued four days ago gave no pause to the FBI to reflect before continuing to do more of the same. Nor did accompanying media revelations about the FBI having improperly conducted surveillances of an antiwar rally in Pittsburgh; the Catholic Worker peace magazine; a Quaker activist, the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, of members of the environmental group Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and of a small student group of anti-war activists in Iowa City, Iowa who were targeted for 9 months in 2008.

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