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August 9, 2006

Nothing’s Too Good For Our Boys In Uniform
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:48 AM * 35 comments

…but we haven’t figured out how to give them less-than-nothing yet.

From USA Today:

Center for war-related brain injuries faces budget cut

By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war.

House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center — half of what the center received last fiscal year.

Proponents of increased funding say they are shocked to see cuts in the treatment of bomb blast injuries in the midst of a war.

“I find it basically unpardonable that Congress is not going to provide funds to take care of our soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line for their country,” says Martin Foil, a member of the center’s board of directors. “It blows my imagination.”

The Brain Injury Center, devoted to treating and understanding war-related brain injuries, has received more money each year of the war — from $6.5 million in fiscal 2001 to $14 million last year. Spokespersons for the appropriations committees in both chambers say cuts were due to a tight budget this year.

Hey, gotta pay for Paris Hilton’s tax cuts somehow.

Zitnay asked for $19 million, and 34 Democratic and six Republican members of Congress signed a letter endorsing the budget request.

Remember, kids, the Republicans support our troops!

Preliminary research by the center shows that about 10% of all troops in Iraq, and up to 20% of front line infantry troops, suffer concussions during combat tours. Many experience headaches, disturbed sleep, memory loss and behavior issues after coming home, the research shows.

The center urged the Pentagon to screen all troops returning from Iraq in order to treat symptoms and create a database of brain injury victims. Scientists say multiple concussions can cause permanent brain damage.

The Pentagon so far has declined to do the screening and argues that more research is needed.

“The Pentagon” here means the civilians at the top — Donnie Rumsfeld and his gang. And what better way to make sure that needed research is done than by cutting the budget of the people doing the research?

Comments on Nothing's Too Good For Our Boys In Uniform:
#1 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 10:20 AM:

More research needed . . . where have we heard that before?

#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 10:58 AM:

But, of course, it is those who criticise the military lunacy, er, policy, of the Shrub administration who don't support the troops.

#3 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Let's see, where does the DVBIC have facilities? There seem to be nine of them: three in California, two in Virginia, one each in Minnesota, Texas, DC, and Florida. I count only one reliably red (TX, due to DeLay gerrymandering) versus five reliably blue (CA, MN, DC) and three wobbly (VA x 2, FL.)

#4 ::: Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:29 AM:

What the heck is "support the troops" supposed to mean, exactly? It doesn't mean paying them a living wage, bringing them home when their tours of duty are over, giving them the armor and weapons they need to keep alive, or funding medical treatment for them, apparently. It should mean something other than putting magents on your car and waving flags in parades.

#5 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 11:42 AM:

To the people who care about supporting the troops the slogan does mean more, and many of those who want to believe that they are supporting the troops have been convinced by the marketing techniques used by the GOP that by voting for that party they are indeed doing so. One of the reasons for Bush's low approval ratings is people like this who have found out that they've been suckered.

Needless to say, the people who are using the phrase as one of their marketing tools are indifferent to the actual welfare of the troops, whether during or after the conflicts in which these troops are to be used.

#6 ::: Max ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 02:23 PM:

I know it's an offhanded remark, and not even directly on topic, but I still find it interesting that estate tax cuts are now routinely labeled "Paris Hilton's tax cuts," as if Hilton, who is a fairly minor heir in the broad scheme of things is more dastardly than, say, a Scaife, Coors, or Walton, people who are actually spending a lot of money to co-opt the political process for their own benefit.

It looks a little like Puritan misogeny to me, but hey, I'm not a noted progressive pundit.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Max, if calling the estate tax repeal a "Paris Hilton's tax cut" gets the message across, I'm all for it.

* * *

Support the Troops magnets are magic fetish objects. The more symbols you can cram on there, the better. Some are yellow on one side and have stars and stripes on the other. One I saw the other day had stars and stripes and a cross.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 02:44 PM:

What the heck is "support the troops" supposed to mean, exactly?

The right wants it to mean: Support the war. Don't shame our boys in uniform by protesting. Questioning the war is just like spitting in their face. Don't question our Commander in Chief.

* * *

There's some room for some savage satire in this situation. Like printing up plastic cups labeled:

"IRAQ WAR VETERAN - CAN'T WORK - BENEFITS RAN OUT - PLEASE HELP"

#9 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 03:35 PM:

Max,

It's not that Paris is a whore, of loose morals, unrepressed, or sexually enlightened (depending on your viewpoint), it's that she's being paid to be rich. Besides, she is one of the few most visible and known personas of the trust-fund society. I'd be willing to bet that mentioning the Waltons to the general public conjures up images of John Boy, not WalMart.

#10 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 03:40 PM:

"she is one of the few most visible and known personas of the trust-fund society."

Absolutely right. Outside of Pennsylvania, who's heard of Scaife? (Unless you're the type of geek who looks at funding sources for The American Spectator and numerous other right-wing publications and think-tanks.)

When people hear "Coors" they think of Silver Bullet ads and slightly-watery beer from out West somewhere, not the company that fought unions and also funds (or did) right-wing causes.

Paris Hilton is convenient shorthand.

#11 ::: Cathy ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 04:12 PM:

This should come as a surprise to no one, given that this is the same Administration that has been steadily cutting the Veterans Administration budget while not supplying active duty troops with enough body armor, armored vehicles, and first aid equipment such as tourniquettes.

#12 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 04:46 PM:

I'm convinced that for a sizable number of Americans, wishes are horses. I remember having a conversation with a rabid sports fan, back in the pre-9/11 world, about why I wasn't into sports. "For one thing," I said, "I don't understand what it means to 'support' a team. I don't see how my desire to see one team win or another team lose can have any impact at all on the outcome of a game."

He quickly disabused me of that lunatic notion. It was his contention that the collective good will of the fans, manifested in things like wearing jerseys or painting your face or having a team coffee mug, created an environment in which the team with the most "support" was more likely to win. And he was dead serious.

I think if the ribbon-magnet sloganeers were able to verbalize their thoughts, it would go something like this: Things like medical treatment, veteran's benefits, and adequate arms and materiel are all superficial. The idea that you can support the troops by providing the things they need is nothing but spiritually empty materialism. But by properly focusing the nation's collective good will and positive attitude on the military goals of the administration, the soldiers will naturally perform above and beyond all expectations, rendering such worldly things as goods and services unnecessary.

Norman Vincent Peale is not dead. They really think that the only truly effective support is positive thinking. All else is pernicious humanism.

#13 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Yeah, and in Delaware we have a school district who can't pay for the supplies they need either. They have to beg for donations. Soon the researchers will be holding bake sales.

But betcha the government will find the money to build a shiny new tank or sub-machine gun ready to go out and kill people halfway 'round the world, right???

#14 ::: Max ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Paris Hilton is not paid for being rich. She's paid for being young, blond, good-looking, and because she's very good at playing a dumb blond on television. Her being an exhibitionist probably helps, too. I'm sure that anyone here can think up several other examples of women filling that ecological niche who weren't born wealthy.

As for the notion of there being no other prominent examples of people benefiting from a reduction the estate tax, how about G. W. Bush, almost every member of the Bush cabinet, Bill Frist, Dick Cheney, the Kennedy clan, the Rockefellers, etc? In G. W.'s case, it isn't even his children; he personally stands to inherit a sizable amount from his mother and father, but I've haven't found any analysis of how much. Or how about just a list of every member of the House and Senate and how much money an elimination of the estate tax would mean for them or their heirs?

As for the Walton's, I think "Walmart heirs" would do fine as a readily understood label, as would "the Coors family."

But, okay, Paris Hilton it is. If prudishness and misogeny can be used to help the cause, by all means make an example of the slut. I'm sure there is no danger whatsoever of having this sort of pandering backfire in any way.

#15 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 05:35 PM:

Max: If prudishness and misogeny can be used to help the cause ...

Whatever misogeny is, I'm all for it. It sounds wonderfully naughty. And very different from misogyny.

#16 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 05:38 PM:

Max, to a lot of folks the name Coors means good beer and a fine upstanding conservative family. And the Wal-Mart heirs . . . why, what's wrong with providing for your children?

So, yes, as misrepresentative as Paris is of the dynastic kleptocracy class who are the real beneficiaries of the estate tax . . . she'll do.

#17 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Paris Hilton's career as an entertainment icon began with "The Simple Life". I have to take it on faith that the reality show was in the general ballpark of a documentary. Heavily leaning toward Leni Riefenstahl, but a documentary nonetheless. "The Simple Life" would never have seen the airwaves, let alone capture the imagination of a nation, if she had been of average wealth or poor. The attraction of the show is "watch a sheltered, privileged, rich girl stumble through our day-to-day life. She may be rich, but she couldn't handle being us". Watching the show is paying her. Paying her because she is clueless and rich. A cute, young, exhibitionist blonde who was equally clueless but from poor white trash would not have made a hit show. "Girls Gone Wild", perhaps, but not the show she had.

The extent to which she is actually clueless is up for debate. Against her ability to act clueless, I'd point to her abysmal acting talent. "House of Wax" springs to mind. For her would be maintaining any sort of Hollywood career requires business acumen. Against that would be the amount of money she has to hire people to do it for her and her tabloid exploits.

Paris' wealth is understood because it's been hashed over again and again on her show and in the papers. Bush, to use your example, works very hard to put forward the image of a common guy. Just look at the press releases of him mending fences or carrying saddles on the ranch. Real man's work. It's been incredibly downplayed that he graduated from two Ivy League schools. Other politicians are the same way. To be seen as a representative, they have to appear to be a common joe. The Republicans emphasized the Heinz empire during the Kerry campaign to show that he wasn't common, that he was out of touch with the needs of regular folk. I'm sure a lot of the nation knows that DC has rich folk, but knowing that and seeing someone who doesn't know how to toast bread because a servant has always done it are two very different things.

Again with the WalMart heirs and the Coors family, I'm sure people can surmise that they are rich. To what extent is the gap that Paris fills. Paris also brings the desired connotations of narcissistic, clueless, vicious, spiritually bereft, snobby, heartless, and reality challenged to the tax cuts. Whether you agree with that view of the cuts or not, she stands for it better than any other example you've given.

I'm afraid you'll have to explain the "Puritan misogyny". Hating Paris isn't hating women (thank G.O.D. I'd have to go gay if I thought all women were as shallow and vapid as her), and I don't have to be prudish about sex to dislike someone who, on her show, shirks the responsibility of her minimum wage job. I can respect Asia Carrera who runs her own website (codes) and is a... I think it's Rhodes scholar, but I can't check from work. Paris? No. No respect for anyone who uses pets as fashion accessories and sheds them as they grow.

#18 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Oops. Sorry for the drift.

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Misogeny would have to mean 'hatred of sexual intercourse'.

#20 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 08:25 PM:

Bush... works very hard to put forward the image of a common guy. Just look at the press releases of him mending fences or carrying saddles on the ranch. Real man's work. It's been incredibly downplayed that he graduated from two Ivy League schools.

Or, interestingly, that he owns a large ranch that is used principally as a vacation retreat. A privately owned, defensible, retreat. How many common guys have such a property? I was just thinking of this - and when was the last time we heard of Camp David? That was established as a vacation retreat for presidents who did NOT have private property of appropriate size to retire to their own holdings in safety.

#21 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 08:35 PM:

Just look at the press releases of him mending fences

I haven't seen any, but having mended barb wire, woven wire, electric, post and board, and picket fences, I could tell you if he was doing it wrong.

Why do I suddenly have an image of Bush popping the hood on his trusty pickup to show he can change a flat tire like the common man?

#22 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 08:55 PM:

Howard Pierce: I've read plausible-sounding claims that fan support does make a difference -- because it's right there; the noise (especially in an indoor arena) bolsters the players' confidence. The argument was made especially for basketball, where away victories are much less common that statistics would suggest; AFAIK, basketball courts are pretty standardized (now that they're mostly new -- the dead spots in the old Boston Garden were legendary), unlike, say, baseball fields.

This of course has nothing to do with supporting troops; cheering spectators don't show up at modern battlefields. The extent to which troops act more vigorously when they believe they are supported, and the effect on both victory and survival, are arguable at best. But Rummy might like to hark back to the days when there \were/ spectators at battlefields....

#23 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 08:57 PM:

wrt to being seen an ordinary Joe: remember how Bush Sr. got savaged for (allegedly?) not knowing what a supermarket scanner did?

It's odd; people want to believe that the President is a figure of godlike omniscience and correctness, and at the same time believe him to be just like them. OTOH, that isn't odd; it lets them think they have godlike omniscience and correctness too....

#24 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 09:47 PM:

CHip, the question is not so much whether emotional support has any affect or not. I'm sure morale has something to do with it. But the conversation I had was regarding yelling at the TV or putting a bobble head on your desk at work. I still don't get it.

What I think is going on with the war is that many people regard "positive thinking" (or whatever the Norman Vincent Peale legacy calls it today) as the only meaningful kind of support. If you couple the people who gladly support pols who slash funding while slapping on a ribbon magnet with the people who constantly attack "metaphysical materialism," there's a huge amount of overlap. It's magical thinking, plain and simple. If the troops succeed, it's due to positive attitudes among citizens at home. If the troops fail, it's because some citizens have less-than-positive attitudes toward the war. In this mindset, the availability of body armor or adequate medical care is irrelevant. If we all clap loud enough, the insurgency will dissolve, and there will be no need for medical care. And of course, if you fail to clap, Tinkerbell's blood is on your hands. Fairy-killer.

I don't think many people would be so impolitic as to say this out loud, nor do I think most proponents of this view have the necessary introspection to put it in words, but it certainly fits the evidence. Don't listen to what people say; look at what they do. If you look, for example, at the roots of Intelligent Design, the stated goals of the project were not to demolish the teaching of evolution pe se, but to discredit materialism. The war fiasco is just a symptom of a deeper anti-materialism. That's what we're up against.

#25 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 10:05 PM:

"CHip, the question is not so much whether emotional support has any affect or not. I'm sure morale has something to do with it. But the conversation I had was regarding yelling at the TV or putting a bobble head on your desk at work. I still don't get it."

It's a form of prayer.

#26 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 02:29 AM:

No, no, misogeny is How to Make Miso.

#27 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 05:59 AM:

CHip: your description of simultaneous weakly godlike (thanks, Charles) powers and "jus' folks" is suggestive of the fanatickal support BB/GWB receives from a particular segment of the Christian population.

Perhaps it's born of the desire to have "one of us" in the White House's co-existing with the realisation that you'd really prefer someone smarter, more moral, tougher, whateverer, than you hold that much power...some people may think of the President, at least one from their party, as a paragon simply because the alternative is "We've Got a Real Problem Now".

Well, guess what...?

#28 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 06:00 AM:

"It blows my imagination" struck me as odd wording at first until I realized why they didn't say "It blows my brain."

#29 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 01:13 PM:

Greg - I may have misremembered the photo. I remember a series sent around on e-mail which compared Kerry to Bush, the Kerry photos obviously amateur and candid, showing him as effeminite and elite, and the Bush photos obviously professional, possibly posed, showing him as a strong handy-man.

#30 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 01:55 PM:

Interestingly, that accent and inability to pronounce such beauties as "nuclear" and "Iraq" on the part of GWB is completely fake. One of my Ling professors knows the guy who taught him that accent so that he could seem less like an elitist Ivy League grad and more like one of the boys. Remember, Bush may sound like he's the product of many generations of Texans, but that isn't the case.

Is anybody else terrified by the implications of having to come off as stupid and common for political success?

#31 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 01:55 PM:

dolloch, I'm looking at that photo and all I can think is, wow, look how clean that tshirt is except where Bush smeared some mud on it.

#32 ::: mike weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2006, 04:48 PM:

I am just so glad that my (step) son-in-law got back in one piece (despite some PTSD) and that his baby daughter will actually know who he is, and not have to ask her mother in later life, "Mom - who's this soldier in the picture?"

And i'm even more glad that i'm the one who's dealing with the VA for some relatively minor stuff, dating to Viet Nam, rather than Steve for brain damage or other recent major injuries.

And, yes, we had/have a "Support Our Troops" magnet on the car - it was sold by the family-support organisation for Steve's company's wives and children to raise money for activities and family aid/support if needed.

#33 ::: Dave Bell sees spam-like posting ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2009, 04:41 AM:

Not quite sure what it is neabt to be.

#34 ::: Mary Aileen agrees it's spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2009, 10:52 AM:

That's the garbled-link, nonsense-name spam we had bunches of a few weeks ago.

#35 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2012, 04:50 PM:

No link, but this generic message raises the alarm. Probing, maybe.

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