Friday, January 21, 2011

It's a No Brainer

While driving home this evening I heard a story on NPR about military veterans with traumatic brain injuries sustained in combat being unable to receive cognitive rehabilitation therapy. It seems the pentagon has decided that the therapy is experimental, unproven and more to the point too expensive. Of course when asked directly their spokesman denies that cost is in any way a consideration. Such denials amount to the pentagon urinating on these veterans and telling them it’s raining.

With the rare exception like the world wars where we were responding to evil on a massive scale I have always felt that at best war is a failure of leadership and diplomacy and often and at worst something fought for profit, power and prestige. In America we have fallen into the habit of squandering the flower of our youth in meaningless and immoral wars fought not by the whole country but rather by the very small percentage of young people we are willing to sacrifice on the altar of depraved indifference. It is an undeniably idiotic waste of life that serves no purpose and obtains no result that could not have been achieved peacefully.

This rant however is not about the futility and stupidity of war and the immorality of those who send our children off to die uselessly. Rather it is about the debt we owe those patriots who having drunk the cool aid, placed their hand over their heart and swore to do or die for mom and apple pie. The lucky ones come home unscathed physically, mentally or emotionally. The unlucky come home in a box or with life altering wounds to their bodies or minds or both. Their lives are forever changed and the challenges they must overcome in pursuit of a normal quality of life are enormous.

Behind them on battlefields most of us will never see they have left limbs, blood and brain power. Those who are critically wounded face a life far different from the one they could have had if they had ignored the call of their country. Their lives and the lives of their families and friends are forever changed and not for the better. Simple task like eating, bathing, dressing oneself and mobility become obstacles to overcome and challenges to master.

Playing with one’s children can be limited or impossible if one can still have them. In some cases love making, bus riding and counting change are all on the other side of a hill that looks like a mountain. The normal activities of daily living that the rest of us still take for granted have for many veterans become onerous, difficult and sometimes impossible. Some even hopefully most will be embraced by their families, friends and communities. They will be cared for, advocated for and loved by their loved ones with differing degrees of success and reintegration into their former lives.

Some won’t have families to return to and some will lose loved ones who cannot deal with the new reality they face. Beyond counseling there is not much anyone can do about the effects their injuries have on their relationships. It is unconscionable though that we might stand by while they are deprived of any and all therapies, treatments and modalities of recovery and rehabilitation that might ease their pain and improve their quality of life.

They have put their lives on the line and been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives for us. How can we not go to any limit or bear any cost necessary to restoring the highest possible quality of life to these willing heroes who have given so much in our name. Experimental or not if the proscribed therapy has a one percent chance of restoring cognitive or physical function to the least degree we owe it to these men and woman. Two wrongs do not a right make. We were wrong to send them off to war in the first place. Lets not compound that by refusing to care for their wounds now.

The Sky is Falling!

The lack of innate intelligence enjoyed by the average individual or at least not utilized even if possessed is a god send to charlatans of every ilk. I have long postulated that you cannot go broke underestimating the sheer stupidity of the average human. One only has to look at the quality and efficacy of the typical product sold on the typical infomercial. Surely individuals with even a modicum of common sense see through the false claims, exaggerations and complete nonsense used to tout these modern day versions of old fashioned snake oil.

Of particular benefit to modern day prophets of doom and masters of the art of prevarication like Glenn (the sky is falling) Beck and Rush (the imbecile) Limbaugh is the prevalence of such either intellectually deprived or lazy political neophytes either naive or paranoid enough to eat the pabulum and drink the cool aid of their dishonest discourse. There never in history has been a dearth of people possessed of stupidity so sublime that it passes for fervently held hopes and beliefs. Our species is replete with such and they are the repast of such wolves as are among us.

Back in the day your average snake oil salesperson knew better than to stay around too long and was constantly on the move from village to village and town to town. The harm they did was for the most part non-injurious to society as a whole. They took advantage of a small percentage of the population and moved on to greener pastures. While they may have occasionally been guilty of fostering off some poisonous remedy they were much more often guilty of selling some foul tasting concoction as a cure for whatever ails the unsuspecting were afflicted with. Today with the shrinking of the globe via instant communication and the increased size of the audience such is not the case.

One does not have to be mentally ill to be influenced by the likes of Beck, Limbaugh and the ultra hard core right wing corporate power mongers that stable, feed and encourage them. They live only to use innuendo, half truths and outright lies to mislead, misinform and befuddle those over whom they hold sway. People who we all love and admire are besotted with their lies and willing to hold their spewing as gospel because it feeds their fear, paranoia and belief that if it weren’t for whatever boogeyman is being battled today their present and future lives would be perfect. They are willing to swallow anything regardless of how foul tasting that holds the promise of curing their feeling of fear, futility, and incompetence.

They prey on the mentally weak, the fearful and the stupid of which there is no lack. Limbaugh is a fat, personally undisciplined, florid faced, obtuse and ignorant slob with the table manners of a goat, who has no class, education beyond high school, or ability to hold onto a woman. He is incapable of taking responsibility for any of his numerous gaffs and has the honor and honesty of a pimp. His alter ego is Beck who is just a pretty version of the same sort of immoral pseudo intellectual idiot that Limbaugh is. It is incredible to me that these two abysmal examples of conservative punditry can mold and hold such a large audience as to be economically successful but they do. Only in America could two such poorly educated, unprincipled and devious purveyors of political malarkey find the level of success and media prominence these two reprehensible prevaricators have.

Their seeming success does not speak well of the audience that hangs on every word, believes every lie and takes as gospel every pseudo idea put forth by these men who can’t keep from twisting reality, shading the truth and telling outright lies to the poor besotted people who believe in them. It does not speak well of those who know better that they are allowed to get away with it. Rather than confront their perfidy and taking them to task for every false statement the rest of the media either tries to emulate them or treats them as nothing more than a mild annoyance.

Our society is undoubtedly well able to absorb their dissemination of hate, discontent and prejudicial rhetoric without coming apart at the seams. That does not mean though that there are or never will be any consequences to their constant pattering and hate filled speech filling the airwaves. It would be interesting to know which stations the Tucson shooter had preset on his family car. Regardless of whether he ever listened to them or not a lot of people do.

I would submit that anybody who actually believes and admires these two and others of their ilk is already intellectually and or emotionally compromised. It would only take one mentally unbalanced and paranoid individual who was a fan to make us all sorry we never challenged their facts and conclusions in a way that would drive them from the air.