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Saturday, April 18, 2009

If the wingnuts want to pearl-clutch over something to do with veterans, how about they start with this
Posted by Jill | 1:00 PM
There is a house in my town that has had a sign in its front window dedicated to a family member who is a Marine in Iraq. I've been seeing that sign every day for over a year, and every time I saw it, I found myself hoping for this family's sake that "Caleb" gets home in one piece. And so it was the other day when I saw said house festooned with balloons and banners, joyfully announcing to all and sundry that "Caleb" is home, that I felt a kind of joy out of all proportion to my connection with this family, which is to say none. I don't know these people, but I was so happy their loved one is finally home and safe.

It is in this context that I sat down to write this morning about the disgusting spectacle of Joe Scarborough screeching the other day, and the other lunatics who followed, about how DARE Janet Napolitano impugn the patriotism of Our Military Heroes™. But it was 6 AM, I had only one cup of Angry Chef Happy Coffee under my belt, and I didn't know quite what to write. It's the curse of the hobby blogger -- there's so little time to construct a coherent entry about hot-button subjects like whether soldiers who have been abused by the Bush Administration in the form of repeated stop-loss orders, victimized by electrocution and tainted water at the hands of Dick Cheney's cronies, being nickel and dimed on pay raises -- need I go on? -- and now coming home into an economy decimated also at the hands of their former commander-in-chief just might make them a bit angry -- and therefore susceptible to recruitment by groups of angry wingnuts looking for scapegoats.

This doesn't mean that all returning soldiers are lining up to join up with secessionists and those threatening violence against the President and Congress -- sentiments that have suddenly become regarded on the right as "patriotic" by the same people who, as Gail Collins noted today, recently had their Underoos in a twist over whether a guy whose middle name was Hussein and who didn't always wear a flag pin was sufficiently in love with his country to lead it:
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.

But as Charles Blow also wrote in the New York Times today, the numbers don't lie when it comes to these attempts at recruitment by the same wingnut groups who didn't give a rat's ass about the Constitution, or even about taxation, when it was Republicans spending their children into oblivion on wars without justification and funnelling billions of dollars into their campaign contributors' pockets:
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.

A-friggin-men. And of course it is things like free college for veterans, about which Barack Obama spoke during the campaign, which could help alleviate such fears of alienation, as well as prevent the Fox Newsification of returning veterans in danger of becoming like the intellect-challenged teabagger interviewed on CNN whose answer to "How is Barack Obama a fascist?" was "He just is."

But if Joe Scarborough wants to get outraged at something having to do with veterans, he might start here:
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.

And in case Joe Scarborough and the other looneytune fucklewits who were standing outside like the Twinings version of Minnie Pearl on Wednesday are thinking that this is a case of Black President Is Deliberately Infecting Our Military Heroes With HIV, they might consider actually reading the article, which states that this has been going on FOR FIVE FUCKING YEARS. Yes, for five years, VA staff were not being trained properly in simple medical sanitary practices, and as a result, veterans, some of them from George W. Bush's wars, have been infected with HIV. It is only NOW that we have a President who regards these guys as something other than expendable cannon fodder, that something is being done about it.

So all you teabaggers and ignorant morons out there, you bloodsuckers from states that get MY tax money (since I live in a state that gets 47 cents back for every dollar we put into the Federal government) which is why your state and local taxes are lower, if you want to get up in arms about something, and if you want to show you care about returning soldiers, how about supporting expenditure for veterans benefits? And you know what pays for those? TAX DOLLARS.

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Blogger merlallen said...
How is it that they blame Obama for a report commissioned by Bush?
It wasn't Bush's fault that the report says what is says and it's not Obama's. Dead Intern Joe knows this of course, but the wingnuts just believe what they're told to believe.

Anonymous Pug said...
Secession might not be that bad an idea as long as parasite states like Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and West Virginia take their share of the national debt, mostly run up under Republican administrations, with them. Their exit alone would go a long way toward reducing the budget defecit and national debt.

It would be fun to see their reaction when the Federal money was gone.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Speaking from the point of view of a non combat veteran IMHO every vet suffers from anxiety attacks etc. in the year after leaving service. Combat vets probably have it 1000 times worse. Those that need help and want it can find it, those that need it and don't want it, won't take it and they are the problem. I know my comment is simplistic and has a million exceptions but I believe it to be basically true. I mean you live for years in a society where you have no decisions or choices to make and then all of sudden you have to decide what color socks to wear. Almost every man and woman getting out today made a decision to give their life to protect their fellow Americans, politics aside, and deserve the utmost respect and understanding.
p.s. The West Palm Beach VA Hospital provides the best medical care I have ever received. No doctor, dentist or hospital I've ever been to even comes close.