News, Weather, Mozart, Sports, Eurovision Love Ænema & Perverted Videogames from Vleeptron

NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

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02 March 2006


"Dopin' Dan," a Beetle Bailey mutant comic by Ted Richards published during the Vietnam War. (According to a 2003 Boston Globe article, Richards was tossed out of the Army for smokin' something, and is now a computer executive.)

"Catch-22" is a novel by Joseph Heller (and a movie) about US bomber pilots stationed in the Mediterranean during World War II.

One pilot, Yossarian, very much doesn't want to fly any more bomber missions over Europe. He goes to see the Air Force psychiatrist and tells him:

"They're trying to kill me!"

The psychiatrist asks Yossarian who is trying to kill him.

Yossarian says Italian and German fighter pilots and anti-aircraft gunners are trying to kill him.

The psychiatrist explains that it's not personal, there's a large war going on, and the Italians and Germans are trying to kill everyone.

Yossarian asks: What difference does that make?


The very first thing every soldier (and sailor and airman and marine) learns is to keep his/her fucking mouth shut about political stuff. The fastest way to get into a huge shitload of trouble while you're in uniform is to shoot your mouth off about your opinions about the military and about any war your army happens to be involved in at the moment.

It could be worse. The British Army was seriously considering shooting Lieutenant Seigfried Sassoon for coming back from the trenches in France during World War One and shooting his mouth off about what was going on there. He dodged the firing squad by being diverted for psychiatric treatment instead. (Cockney soldiers called such military doctors "trick cyclists.")

Put another way, the Army believes it has a 100 percent monopoly on Soldier Opinion. When the Army is at war, the Army tells the American public that every one of its soldiers is proud, happy and patriotically eager to be fighting the war. If necessary, Army public information officers will find some proud, happy, eager soldiers to say proud, happy things to newspaper reporters and camera crews. The PIOs will be standing there to make sure the soldiers say the happy, eager, patriotic, proud things.

Put another way -- actual, reliable, independent opinion polls of active-duty U.S. military women and men during wartime are about as common as hen's teeth, blue moons and third tits.

If you are ever a soldier during a war, and a TV camera crew asks you what you think about the war, Vleeptron advises you to say this:

"This is a really great war. I really enjoy fighting in this war. It's a very important war. We need to win this war and I'm doing all I can to help us win this war. I am certain we will win this war."

If you tell the TV camera anything else, don't complain to me about what happens to you tomorrow.

Meanwhile, what's going on here is very obvious.

1. The Iraq War has driven all these guys insane.

2. Then Zogby asked them what they thought about the Iraq War.

You can't rely on insane people to give you accurate opinions about the war. Just ignore them.


Zogby (private US polling organization)
Released: Tuesday 28 February 2006

U.S. Troops in Iraq:
72% Say End War in 2006

* Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll shows just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay "as long as they are needed"

* While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say U.S. role is hazy

* Plurality believes Iraqi insurgents are mostly homegrown

* Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11, most don’t blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks

* Majority of troops oppose use of harsh prisoner interrogation

* Plurality of troops pleased with their armor and equipment

An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq "immediately," while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay "as long as they are needed."

Different branches had quite different sentiments on the question, the poll shows. While 89% of reserves and 82% of those in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year, 58% of Marines think so. Seven in ten of those in the regular Army thought the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next year. Moreover, about three-quarters of those in National Guard and Reserve units favor withdrawal within six months, just 15% of Marines felt that way. About half of those in the regular Army favored withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months.

The troops have drawn different conclusions about fellow citizens back home. Asked why they think some Americans favor rapid U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, 37% of troops serving there said those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20% believe people back home don’t believe a continued occupation will work. Another 16% said they believe those favoring a quick withdrawal do so because they oppose the use of the military in a pre-emptive war, while 15% said they do not believe those Americans understand the need for the U.S. troops in Iraq.

The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly "to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks," 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq."

"Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there," said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. "Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein."

Just 24% said that "establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).

The continuing insurgent attacks have not turned U.S. troops against the Iraqi population, the survey shows. More than 80% said they did not hold a negative view of Iraqis because of those attacks. About two in five see the insurgency as being comprised of discontented Sunnis with very few non-Iraqi helpers. "There appears to be confusion on this," Zogby said. But, he noted, less than a third think that if non-Iraqi terrorists could be prevented from crossing the border into Iraq, the insurgency would end. A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order to control the insurgency.

The survey shows that most U.S. military personnel in-country have a clear sense of right and wrong when it comes to using banned weapons against the enemy, and in interrogation of prisoners. Four in five said they oppose the use of such internationally banned weapons as napalm and white phosphorous. And, even as more photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq surface around the world, 55% said it is not appropriate or standard military conduct to use harsh and threatening methods against insurgent prisoners in order to gain information of military value.

Three quarters of the troops had served multiple tours and had a longer exposure to the conflict: 26% were on their first tour of duty, 45% were on their second tour, and 29% were in Iraq for a third time or more.

A majority of the troops serving in Iraq said they were satisfied with the war provisions from Washington. Just 30% of troops said they think the Department of Defense has failed to provide adequate troop protections, such as body armor, munitions, and armor plating for vehicles like HumVees. Only 35% said basic civil infrastructure in Iraq, including roads, electricity, water service, and health care, has not improved over the past year. Three of every four were male respondents, with 63% under the age of 30.

The survey included 944 military respondents interviewed at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq. The names of the specific locations and specific personnel who conducted the survey are being withheld for security purposes. Surveys were conducted face-to-face using random sampling techniques. The margin of error for the survey, conducted Jan. 18 through Feb. 14, 2006, is +/- 3.3 percentage points.


The Pueblo Chieftain (Colorado USA)
Thursday 2 March 2006

35 percent of Iraq vets
have sought
mental health help

by Peter Roper, The Pueblo Chieftain

Roughly 20 percent of returning Iraqi war veterans reported having a mental health concern and 35 percent sought help in the year after their return, according to an Army study of all returning soldiers and Marines between May 2003 and April 2004.

The study, which appeared in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first comprehensive look at the mental health impact of the war on veterans and how well the military is identifying troops who need assistance.

Its release also came as Congress is looking skeptically at the Bush administration's budget forecast for Veterans Administration health care costs, which the White House budget plan predicts will start shrinking by 3 percent a year, starting in 2008.

Lawmakers have scoffed at that, claiming the White House can't be serious about shrinking health costs for the Veterans Administration given the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The administration should have been prepared for this," said Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., and a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "With the war in Iraq, there's a whole new generation of veterans that needs services."

The study, done by doctors at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, focused on 303,905 veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other deployments in the given year, but the vast majority were from the Iraq conflict. It looked at the troops' own self-evaluation form that all fill out upon return, as well as follow-up reports on troops that sought mental health care later.

Its general results showed that:

* 19 percent of the Iraq veterans (soldiers and Marines) reported a mental health issue, primarily from having seen people killed or having participated in combat. By comparison, 11 percent of veterans from Afghanistan reported a mental health concern.

* 35 percent of Iraq veterans sought mental health assistance in the year after their return, with 12 percent getting a diagnosis of a mental problem.

* Roughly 2,900 entertained suicidal thoughts at times or a great deal.

* 50 percent of the returnees had witnessed people being wounded or killed, but only 18 percent reported having fired their weapon in combat.

* 50 percent reported having felt in great danger of being killed.

* Women veterans from Iraq showed a slightly higher incidence of reporting mental health concerns (24 percent) than men (19 percent).

Dr. (Col.) Charles Hoge, of Walter Reed (Army Medical Center), wrote that the study underlined the need for the military to continue screening returning troops to help them get assistance. The study noted that 50 percent of the troops who were identified as needing counseling, took part in follow-up care.

On a larger front, however, the study noted that such veterans are likely to need continuing care in the Veterans Administration system as they leave service.

"Rates of mental health care use for the entire Army and Marine populations have shown linear increases since 2000, providing further evidence that the war is burdening the health care system at large," the study stated. "These findings highlight the challenge in assuring that staffing levels of mental health services are sufficient to meet the needs of returning veterans."

Which is why the White House budget plan for the Veterans Administration has drawn fire from both Republicans and Democrats. Although it calls for increasing veterans health services spending in 2007 to $28 billion (up from $24.5 billion), its long-term forecast - to reduce the budget deficit at least on paper - calls for health care expenditures of just $27 billion a year for the following four years.

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., also serves on the Senate veterans committee, and said the White House plan ignores the reality of the growing number of veterans needing care.

"I've stated frequently that we can't balance the budget on the backs of our veterans," he said in a statement Wednesday. "As more veterans return home from active duty, the numbers seeking mental health help may rise even higher, especially if the transition from war front to home front is difficult."

©1996-2006 The Pueblo Chieftain Online


Anonymous patfrom.. said...

I usually get up with the BBC's World Today on the World Service because you can get all the news while you're still half asleep.
They were interviewing this guy, some Press Speaker for the Allied Troops in Iraq. Didn't get all of what he said, but when he was questioned about the recent tensions between shiites and sunis he said: "It is bad, but not as bad whe thought it would be"
"You mean you calculated this", the reporter asked.
"Yep", he repiled. "but it's not our worst case scenario. Initially we thought the streets would be soaked with blood"
This is where I really woke up, thinking : Now those bastards are sick. Cold blooded. And mad as well.
What a way to start the day.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Now you know why I post Boring Math & Science Stuff on Vleeptron. I can't handle a steady diet of Earth Reality. Mathematics, Space Robot Probes, SETI and Mozart are human beings acting in a way that make me Proud to belong to the Human Race. War is our Shame.

Okay, I'm going through my CD collection now to find my Glenn Gould's Mozart piano sonatas.

I could also put on my DVD of "Slaughterhouse Five." The soundtrack is Glenn Gould playing Bach. But there's this very annoying war and firebombing of Dresden that interferes with my listening pleasure. I could turn off the pictures, but there's a lot of creepy Human Dialogue and bomb noises on the soundtrack.

Anonymous patfrombirdfluland said...

Have you seen Vonnegut yet?? He's living in your town, isn't he ? Tell him a friendly G'day! from Switzerland if you should ever meet him. I heard he can be a bit picky and he doesn't like journos but I reckon you two would get along fine. Talk him into writing again while you're at it.
But back to the harsh reality that is life (bills, the weather, bird flu, the news on the radio etc)
Here's something for you to read. It was written some 2400 years ago by a chinese bloke called Sun Tzu. It is full of wisdom and truth. it can be adapted and be of use even to idiots like me. Your Prez and his Generals obviously havenpt heard of this bloke, otherwise things would be quite different
The Nine Grounds

Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy sh*t! vonnegut in town, it's true.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i made phone calls for abt associates, a telephone market research company that takes on mostly health care and government associated tasks, asking mental health survey questions like the one's answered above. it is also currently something like the 39th biggest benefactor of wartime government spending, a fact that I believe is even available from the pentagon. I did this work 1 year ago, so there's the factor of fading memory, but the survey responses above ring true to me. "We're not 'soldiers'," one enthusiastic marine told me, "we're marines!"

Cold facts, even those as upsetting as casualties, mental illness, etc, just can't do justice to my impressions as an individual calling hundreds of soldiers and marines in all 50 states, at Fort Bragg and Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms, and some few dozen other sites, doing office jobs and just out of the army or navy or airforce, or in some cases, just about to ship out, the mass of bureaucracy, the layers of automated directories, manic liutenants 1st and 2nd class, divisions, batallions, people working in medical facilities and elsewhere. Of course, I was sworn to never reveal the information I gathered there to outside sources.

One thing I remember clearly from the telephone survey experience was that the vast majority of active duty soldiers I talked to had in common was no college education. that one probably stood out at the time because it was not a glamorous job, and I had recently graduated from respectable university with a high GPA. I told myself, "you could go far in the armed services." :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's the replacement last paragraph. much better this way.

One thing stands out in my memory about the telephone survey experience, and that was that most of the active duty soldiers I talked to had in common no college education. it was not a glamorous job, and I had recently graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts.

anonymous wrote:
"I had recently graduated from respectable university with a high GPA"

ha. typos rule.


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