|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Republicans have long tried to exploit masculinity images and depict Democrats and liberals as effeminate and therefore weak. That is not new. But what is new is how explicit and upfront and unabashed this all is now. And what is most striking about it is that -- literally in almost every case -- the most vocal crusaders for Hard-Core Traditional Masculinity, the Virtues of Machismo, are the ones who so plainly lack those qualities on every level.
There are few things more disorienting than listening to Rush Limbaugh declare himself the icon of machismo and masculinity and mock others as "wimps." And if you look at those who have this obsession -- the Chris Matthews and Glenn Reynolds and Jonah Goldbergs and Victor Davis Hansons -- what one finds in almost every case is that those who want to convert our political process and especially our national policies into a means of proving one's "traditional masculine virtues" -- the physically courageous warriors unbound by effete conventions -- themselves could not be further removed from those attributes, and have lives which are entirely devoid of such "virtues."
U.S. troops returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer "daunting and growing" psychological problems -- with nearly 40 percent of soldiers, a third of Marines and half of the National Guard members reporting symptoms -- but the military's cadre of mental-health workers is "woefully inadequate" to meet their needs, a Pentagon task force reported yesterday.
The congressionally mandated task force called for urgent and sweeping changes to a peacetime military mental health system strained by today's wars, finding that hundreds of thousands of the more than 1 million U.S. troops who have served at least one war-zone tour in Iraq or Afghanistan are showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety or other potentially disabling mental disorders.
"Not since Vietnam have we seen this level of combat," said Vice Adm. Donald Arthur, co-chairman of the Department of Defense Mental Health Task Force. "With this increase in . . . psychological need, we now find that we have not enough providers in our system," he said at a Pentagon news conference yesterday unveiling the report. "Clearly, we have a deficit in our availability of mental-health providers."
The ongoing "surge" of more than 30,000 additional U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will exacerbate this gap, as will the rapid growth in the number of soldiers, Marines and other troops -- now about half a million -- who have served more than one combat tour, heightening the risk of mental illnesses, the report said.
As in the aftermath of Vietnam, the costs of untreated mental illness will rise dramatically over time, the report warned. "Our nation learned this lesson, at a tragic cost," it said. "The time for action is now."
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is required by law to develop a plan of action within six months on the 95 recommendations included in the 64-page report.
The task force, composed of seven military and seven civilian professionals with expertise in military mental health, was formed in May 2006. It based its report on visits to 38 U.S. military care facilities in the United States, Europe and Asia; interviews with care providers, military personnel and their families and commanders; as well as expert testimony and research.