|"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
Have you ever noticed that the states where anti-tax sentiment is strongest are frequently the same states that get way more back from the federal government than they send in? Alaska gets $1.84 for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, which is a rate of return even Bernard Madoff never pretended to achieve. Yet there they were in Ketchikan waving “Taxed Enough Already!” signs and demanding an end to federal spending.
Also, have you noticed how places that pride themselves on being superpatriotic seem to have the most people who want to abandon the country entirely and set up shop on their own?
And what about my country, right or wrong? Weren’t there complaints, some from Texan quarters, during the last election that Barack Obama seemed insufficiently up front about his love of country? Isn’t threatening to dissolve the union over the stimulus package a little less American than failure to wear a flag pin?
Remember the time when Michelle Obama said, in a moment she spent an entire campaign trying to take back, that 2008 was the first time she could remember ever feeling really proud of her country? Can you imagine how the conservative base would have reacted if she said that it was the first time she didn’t feel like renouncing her citizenship?
And how, by the way, can you stand at a rally waving the American flag while yelling “Secede”? It’s like an employer handing out “worker of the week” certificates to employees who just learned that he was moving the plant to Mexico.
Their argument seeks to suppress and subjugate two rather unfortunate facts: while only a tiny number of conservatives and veterans are members of hate groups, nearly all hate groups do indeed follow far-right ideology. And they covet members with military experience.
A report issued last summer by former President Bush’s F.B.I. entitled “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11” said that “military experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement” and that these groups “have attempted to increase their recruitment of current and former U.S. military personnel.”
So, which soldiers are most vulnerable? According to the Homeland Security report, it would probably be those “facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities.” This could be a large group because far too many soldiers come back from war broken men. According to a RAND study released on Friday, 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reported some sign of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. It said that only about half of those will seek help and only half of those seeking it will receive “minimally adequate” treatment.
These soldiers could prove fertile ground for men hoping to prey on their fear, loneliness and dispossession.
And those extremist leaders may be able to connect more easily with some of these soldiers because many were soldiers themselves. According to the F.B.I. report, “although individuals with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, they frequently occupy leadership roles.”
Because many know firsthand the value of military experience, they not only recruit those leaving the military, they send recruits into it. According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Many white supremacists over the years have pushed their followers to join the military and enter either the special forces, where the training is judged to be the best in the world, or the infantry, where you will learn the skills necessary to fight the coming race war.”
The only debate we should be having is about the best way to protect our newest veterans from falling prey to this handful of military apostates.
Three patients exposed to contaminated medical equipment at Veterans Affairs hospitals have tested positive for HIV, the agency said Friday. Initial tests show one patient each from VA medical facilities in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Augusta, Ga.; and Miami has the virus that causes AIDS, according to a VA statement.
The three cases included one positive HIV test reported earlier this month, but the VA didn't identify the facility involved at the time.
The patients are among more than 10,000 getting tested because they were treated with endoscopic equipment that wasn't properly sterilized and exposed them to other people's body fluids.
Vietnam veteran Samuel Mendes, 60, said he was surprised to learn of an HIV case linked to the Miami facility, where he had a colonoscopy. He was told he wasn't among those at risk.
"I was hoping and expecting to not get anyone contaminated like that," he said. "It's probably a little worse than we thought."
The VA also said there have been six positive tests for the hepatitis B virus and 19 positive tests for hepatitis C at the three locations.
There's no way to prove patients were exposed to the viruses at its facilities, the agency said.
"These are not necessarily linked to any endoscopy issues and the evaluation continues," the statement said.
The VA has said it does not yet know if veterans treated with the same kind of equipment at its other 150 hospitals may have been exposed to the same mistake before the department had a nationwide safety training campaign.