Posts Tagged ‘Iraq war’


Suicides Claiming More American Troop Casualties than Combat in Afghanistan


Unsavory facts about the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars that don’t get the biggest press tend to make the entire military campaign more real, and thus more difficult to talk about in black and white terms of good vs. evil or us vs. them.

And this could be one of the more disturbing facts to come to light recently:

For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We’re literally killing ourselves over this conflict.

We’ve been in combat in the Middle East for over nine years. Longer than we were involved in World War II. Longer than Vietnam. Longer than the Civil War. And per the Obama Administration’s current plan, we will still have troops in Afghanistan until 2014. That’s nearly 13 years. Unreal.

And these numbers don’t even tell the whole story either:

Figures reported by each of the services last week, for instance, include suicides by members of the Guard and Reserve who were on active duty at the time. The Army and the Navy also add up statistics for certain reservists who kill themselves when they are not on active duty.

But the Air Force and Marine Corps do not include any non-mobilized reservists in their posted numbers. What’s more, none of the services count suicides that occur among a class of reservists known as the Individual Ready Reserve, the more than 123,000 people who are not assigned to particular units.

I’m beyond done with these wars. I’m tired of our money going over to rebuild nations while our own schools and streets lose funding and continue to worsen. I’m sick of all the lives being lost and the countless more ruined by this seemingly endless debacle. The sooner we can come home, the better.

But regardless of when our troops get back, we must focus much more of our attention on the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorders. We’re sending these men and women – boys and girls – overseas to kill or be killed. To see their friends blown up in front of their eyes. To be separated from their families for years over multiple tours. It takes its toll.

The bigger tragedy, though, is how clueless we still are about mental health.  We still think of depression as a weakness that you just need to suck up and get over it. That it’s all just “in your head,” as if it’s a bad mood or being bummed out. Same with TBIs: that because we don’t see any outward injuries, there must not be lasting effects inside the brain.

I’m not sure we have all the answers or cures for these ailments, but certainly we should be using all of the known ones to treat our troops, making sure that they know they have these resources available to them with no stigma or shame attached. It’s the least we can do.

We are still in the desert.


George W. Bush: War Criminal


It’s amazing how quickly we forget what a totally corrupt and illegal presidency we just endured for the past eight years now that we have a president who actually understands that he is not above the law.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, and the whole lot should be tried for war crimes. I bet they’d be found guilty.  You can’t just throw the rules out the window because we had an attack on our soil.  Remember when we threw Japanese-Americans into internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor?  And now we consider that to have been a horribly inappropriate, unjust, and illegal act that no one condones.  This is one of those same things.  And we should take those responsible to court.  Even if it’s the former president.

Andrew Sullivan states it rather simply:

The question you have to ask yourself is a relatively simple one. Does this treatment amount to “severe mental or physical pain or suffering” in the pursuit of intelligence? If it does, then Bush and Cheney have to go to jail for the commission of war crimes.
Why is this a difficult question to answer?

It’s not difficult.  And maybe if Bush hadn’t completely decimated the world’s economy, our current government could put more effort into making him pay for his actions.

I’d be very curious to hear how anyone could defend Bush right now.  Please, feel free to explain it in the comments.  And do so without making some ridiculous correlation to Obama.  Obama wasn’t president then so leave him out of it.  One person’s mistakes don’t make another’s okay.


New Location, Same Mason Ranting


I’ve been wanting to upgrade from my faux-blog Facebook Notes for quite some time and even went so far as to set myself up over at Blogger to continue the oftentimes controversial discussion, but it just never materialized.  I didn’t feel cozy over there in Bloggerville.  I needed a change of scenery.

So, here I am!  Time to get moving on some real blog-and-comment action in true WordPress style!  Let’s see if the new digs will aid in my still nascent blogging abilities.  Here’s hoping.

For the inaugural post I really wanted to dig into some meaty material and give Number 43 a real tongue lashing that would be a good signal of what to expect from future posts (in case you’re just reading my thoughts for the first time) but I need more time to compile my list of grievances before I can really do that topic justice.  Plus, Lance did such a great job in his Facebook note a week or so ago that I really need to collect my thoughts before I do a half-ass job.

Instead, let’s tackle a nice, shiny news item!

House Republicans have offered up an alternative stimulus plan to President Obama that proposes tax cuts instead of government spending.  According to the Yahoo! News article:

“The alternative includes across-the-board cuts in the two lowest income tax brackets, placing unemployment benefits off-limits to taxation and a new $7,500 break for home buyers who make a minimum down payment of 5 percent.”

Having spent a short time in the third tax bracket, I’m now firmly in the second lowest tier, which means that the proposed tax cut would help me.  It sounds great, sure, but I can’t remember the last time I actually paid income taxes in April of any year, so I don’t know that this will really affect me enough to help stimulate the economy.

Also, I’m not going to be buying a house any time in the foreseeable future: I live in one of the most expensive markets in the country, as indicated above I am in the second lowest tax bracket so you can guess I don’t exactly have much expendable income laying around, and, frankly, the housing market isn’t the solid investment it used to be.

The plan banks on the concept that with more incentives and fewer tax burdens, people will spend more to jump-start the economy.  Problem is, so many people are out of jobs, how does this plan factor in unemployment?  Without a job, buying a home is out of the question.  They address it here:

“Another provision would also cut taxes for small businesses.”

With unemployment rates soaring and a potential disaster looming with the Big Three I just don’t see small business entrepreneurs saving us.  We need something else.

As well as offering $275 billion in tax cuts, Obama and the House Democrats propose spending $550 billion thusly:

“Much of the spending would come in politically popular areas such as health care, food stamps and road construction and would include money designed to blunt the impact of state budget cuts affecting schools.”

We just got out of an administration that claimed conservatism yet practiced uncontrolled fiscal irresponsibility.  If we’re going to be spending hundreds of billions of dollars, I’d MUCH rather see it go to help AMERICANS instead of paying for a war in Iraq.  Investing in health care, social programs, and road construction will create jobs here at home instead of lining the pocketbooks of independent contractors overseas.