Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hot or not?: What's actually happening in Iraq today according to our own troops

(I took these photos when I was staying at the old Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad's Green Zone)

Every day for the past several years, I have been receiving press releases from the U.S. military in Iraq with regard to actions that our troops are taking there. And this morning it suddenly occurred to me that, strung together, all these releases may give me a more complete picture of what is actually going on in Iraq today -- that is, a picture of how involved our troops are in the day-to-day life of Iraq. Are they still over there every day, up to their eyeballs fighting bad guys? Or are our troops only nation-building over there at this point? Or are they now spending most of their days moving U.S. personnel and equipment out of Iraq and back home?

Back when Obama was campaigning for president, he promised to get us out of Iraq. "You can take that to the bank," he exclaimed -- and here's the video to prove it:

Well. We now know that President Obama, once elected, DID take a bunch of stuff to the bank -- Bank of America, CitiBank, etc. to be exact. He took over a trillion dollars to the banks, all newly printed up by the Federal Reserve. (Thank goodness that the Fed didn't pay off the banks with taxpayers' money! But, heck, the Fed had no choice. Us taxpayers' money has already been long gone.) But I digress.

So. Has Obama kept his campaign promise to get us out of Iraq? Let's take a look at some of the recent press releases from MNFI (Multi-National Forces-Iraq) in Baghdad and see if we can find out.

Yesterday I got a press release from MNFI's Baghdad Phoenix Base entitled, "Information Assurance Prepares Security Forces Against Cyber Threats". That sounds promising. "Twenty senior Iraqi leaders from all 14 Iraqi army divisions and four regional operations centers participated in the first information assurance trainers' course here." I could use some information assurance training too! Don't you just hate viruses? "The overarching objective of the seminar was to provide each attendee with 'train the trainer' instruction to take back to their units."

This next press release also came from Phoenix Base: "Maysan Province Security Unit Prepares for Election Demands". Does that mean that they are gonna eliminate the use of Diebold and electronic voting machines in Iraq? Let's read on. "Eighteen members of the Maysan Province Personal Security Detail and five instructors from the Iraqi Police Maysan Provincial Training Center completed a five-day basic PSD course here.... The training prepares them for increased responsibilities anticipated in support the upcoming federal elections." Wish we had had something like that in Ohio and Florida!

But wait. There's more. "Students were instructed on how to protect and conduct safe movement for dignitaries." This instruction isn't about vote-counting at all. "Class scenarios and practical exercises were used throughout the course to illustrate how to protect people while responding to attacks." This instruction is how to protect candidates and office holders from getting shot or blown up! Too bad we didn't have a class like that in Dallas in 1963.

Here's the next press release, coming from Camp Victory, just outside of Baghdad: "U.S. Paratroopers install vehicle scanners". Our troops are advising and assisting traffic check stations in Al Anbar province. The scanners help find "weapons, explosives, radioactive material and other contraband.... At a checkpoint east of Fallujah, where Iraqi army, police and provincial security forces jointly inspect vehicles traveling between Baghdad and Al Anbar province, the guards were happy to see the explosives detection equipment...." So. Now we know that traffic is flowing again around Fallugah -- but that deadly material is still coming into the city as well.

Next release: "ISF arrest suspected suicide, vehicle bomb facilitators in northern Iraq". Nope, Iraq is not all sweetness and light quite just yet.

And then we have this press release: "Iraqi Security Forces arrested 13 suspected members of the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) terrorist organization Friday and today while conducting a series of joint security operations in northern Iraq." So the Iraqi army is now doing some of the heavy lifting over there. That's good news. "The 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Iraqi Army and U.S. advisors searched several residential buildings in southeastern Mosul Friday..." But U.S. troops are still involved. Looks like no one is going back to the States any time soon.

Let's see what else we can find. Here's some good news. "First Iraqi-Moderated Women's Conference Held. Thirty-nine women from the Ministries of Defence and Interior attended a conference discuss women's issues. This marked the first time an Iraqi woman moderated such an event."

Followed by bad news. "3 arrested as ISF track down Kata'ib Hezbollah member. Iraqi Security Forces arrested three individuals today while conducting a joint security operation in northern Baghdad. ISF and U.S advisors searched a building for an alleged weapons leader for the terrorist group Kata'ib Hezbollah. The suspect is believed to be coordinating attacks against security forces in Iraq." The Kata'ib Hezbollah, BTW, is a Iraqi insurgent group and has nothing to do with the Lebanese Hezbollah. Whew.

And then Iraq-U.S. joint forces arrested some more bad guys from a different group. "The 44th Iraqi Army captured three alleged Promised Day Brigade (PDB) members today during a joint security operation conducted in northeast Baghdad. Based on intelligence, Iraqi Army and U.S. advisors searched residential buildings and arrested two warranted individuals suspected of planning and carrying out improvised explosive attacks against Iraqis and security forces throughout Baghdad." So. We just learned that there are still several insurgent groups left in Iraq.

Most of the other press releases that I've read lately continued to run along these same lines -- both good news and bad news about how our troops are doing in Iraq. There's some good news about clinic and school openings, There's more bad news about insurgents and EIDs. And there's also a few stories about "non-combat related deaths" of our troops -- in traffic accidents? Another MWRAP roll-over? From over-eating in a DFAC?

Then we have "Iraqi Police arrest one in search for Bayji IED-cell member," followed by "Eight Kurdish students attend waterborne operations course". That's water BORNE operations, guys -- not water board operations. Get your mind out of the gutter. This is the new Iraq.

Then I got "ISF arrest two suspect AQI members," and "Suicide bomber and counter measures course teaches prevention". This all sounds really good -- like our brave troops over there are really trying hard. And I've been there. And they really DO try hard. And at around a billion dollars a month that the Fed is printing up to cover the costs of the New Iraq, I'm really glad to hear that the Fed is getting its money's worth.

All of these press releases are interesting and informative and I'm glad that I'm getting them and really like to keep informed about Iraq just in case I get an opportunity to embed there again.

But the real bottom line regarding all these very informative press releases is -- that nobody over in Iraq seems to be sending me any press releases about how our troops are getting ready to disembark from occupied Iraq in large numbers and come back home.

PS: Here's a video I made before I actually sat down and read all the above-mentioned press releases, sort of me trying to psych myself up for the task. This video also contains information on why baby carriers should be avoided mostly -- only I forgot to call them "baby carriers" and called them "car seats" instead. Babies DO need car seats -- while riding in cars. But babies also need to be held by real people, as much as humanly possible. And here's why:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My special "Survivor Savo Island" housing co-op newsletter

(Photos are from some of the good old days at Savo Island, including what the place looked like when it was just a vacant lot)

Yes, I know that I've written a "Survivor Savo Island" newsletter before but, Geez Louise, I've just been once again reminded that you've got to be a real survivor to live here -- and you certainly have to be able to outwit, outplay and outlast in order to survive if you are one of our management companies!

As for myself, I've survived living at Savo Island Cooperative Homes for over 30 years now and have gone through so many "elimination ceremonies" that I'm now one of the very few Survivors left out of the original group who arrived on the "Island" back in 1979.

57 families first moved into a brand new Savo Island back in 1979 and we were all so idealistic. We even had play groups and pot luck dinners for goodness sakes. Everyone came to the board meetings and we all took turns running for the board. And then, back in the 1980s, things changed -- not only because that was the "me" decade but also because crack cocaine suddenly started appearing from out of nowhere, and it hit the streets of Berkeley like a ton of bricks. By 1984, Savo too started to have dealers and crack houses.

By the 1990s, a lot of Savo's original residents had left -- either to buy houses in the suburbs or to go off to jail -- and a lot of new residents moved in (a lot of them being relatives of a group of new board members who took over the board in approximately the mid-1990s and began to run Savo Island with an iron hand). And the population here also began to age. Instead of having 40 children playing outside at any given time, we were lucky to have even seven. And potlucks and play groups became a thing of the past. Now people just walked past each other in the parking lot on their way to school or work.

In the 2000s, the big thing here at Savo was the rehab. And I've fought tooth and nail for this rehab to finally get completed, starting back in 2001 -- even back before the invasion of Afghanistan. And, like the Bush-Obama occupation of Afghanistan, Savo's rehab planning stage is still going on. Getting this rehab to actually begin happening has been like pulling teeth. Talk about your reward challenge!

And, as a result of me trying so hard to win Savo's rehab reward challenge, there's apparently been a secret alliance between other tribe members now on the board which keeps trying to vote me out of the game. So far, my rent has been raised illegally, the board majority has called six (6) different executive sessions to try to figure out how to get me off the board, I've been given two illegal eviction notices, and, at one point, I was even threatened with jail. But I'm still here -- just like Russell on "Survivor Samoa". Perhaps I also have a hidden immunity idol in my pocket!

And I'm also still hoping that our rehab will still happen. The August 2010 window of opportunity that I had counted is now rapidly closing but, at this moment, that window is still open -- and I'm going to do everything I can to keep it that way.

But my own survival skills here are nothing compared to the survival skills of Savo Island's various past management companies. So far, we've watched fourteen (14) different management companies come and go. Dealing with Savo Island's self-interested board of directors has been a real challenge that most management companies avoid us, and Savo apparently has such a bad reputation in the local property-management industry that only the bravest companies are willing to try to take us on. Managing Savo is the ultimate immunity challenge! The board ALWAYS wins.

So on December 31, 2009, I'm going to have to say goodbye to our current management company, with tears in my eyes -- because "The tribe has spoken". Our current management company will be dousing its torch and waving goodbye, walking down the path and getting ready to serve on the jury. I will be sorry to see this excellent company go because, without their valient efforts during the challenges, the August 2010 rehab window of opportunity would have closed long ago -- or would never have opened.

And our next management company (number 15) starts work at Savo Island on January 1, 2010. They too are an excellent management company, they too have the skills to finally pull off this nine-year rehab and we are lucky to have this new company too. And I wonder how long they too will last on the "Island"? But whatever happens, I will do whatever I can to help this new company avoid elimination -- just like I have done for the past 14 other management company "Survivors" before them.

PS: Here's a video of me trying to remember the names of all 15 of our management companies. I apparently missed a few but I think that I nailed at least 12.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Attention Cal Alumni: Your alma mater is being gutted

(Photos are of me in college in the 1960s, Wurster Hall today, a protest sign saying, "Yes we can take back our university," a future Cal student trying to save money for college the hard way and CBS News interviewing an engineering graduate student who has just been charged with felony burglary for participating in a Cal students' non-violent protest)

I am a life member of the University of California alumni association, having graduated from UC Berkeley in 1966. I put myself through college by working in the Millbrae post office during summer vacations. My tuition was $220 a year. I paid $75 a month for an apartment that was four blocks from campus. I lived on fish sticks, Cheerios and the occasional enchilada from La Fiesta, but I did it. I put my own self through school without accumulating any debts -- except for the huge philosophical debt that I still owe the University of California for giving me such a fine education.

Due to a long line of huge fee hikes and tuition raises at UCB since that time, no current Cal student could ever possibly manage to do what I did.

If you want to graduate from the University of California today, you must seriously face the possibility of putting yourself in financial peril for the rest of your life.

As a Cal alumna who was able to receive an affordable high-quality education, I strenuously object to any kind of new tuition raise or fee hike -- especially the gargantuan new 32% hike.
And if you are a Cal alumni like me, you should be strenuously objecting as well.

Cal gave us an education, gave us a profession, gave us lasting memories -- so let's not just stand around doing nothing while the very viability of student life at Cal is being threatened. Let's fight for our school!

Why? Because higher education in the United States is fast becoming an unreachable American dream. Because monies that used to go to schools now go to line the pockets of weapons manufacturers and Wall Street billionaires. Because there's a pretty good chance that even your own children and grandchildren won't ever be able to afford to be a "Cal Bear".

Why? Because professors are now being paid less. Because inmates incarcerated for drug use are having as much or more money spent on them than we are spending on America's best and brightest students.

Why? Because students who might have been on the college prep track a few years ago now join the military instead -- following the money -- and they risk of coming home in a box. Or if they do survive Washington's various unnecessary wars and do finally get go to college on the GI bill, does this mean that we are requiring our youth to kill someone as a prerequiste to get enrolled at Cal? It used to be that perspective students only had to pass their SATs.

Why? Because America risks becoming even more of a country of "Haves" and Have-Nots" than it already is now, as an even more dumbed-down population gets created because institutions of higher learning such as Cal have become priced out of the market for even America's middle class -- let alone for working class students who want to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Attention Cal alumni! Your old alma mater is currently being gutted -- if not downright raped. Remember Sproul Plaza? Remember Sather Gate? Remember your all-night study sessions, your favorite professor, the good times, dorm life? Fight for these things so that the students of today and tomorrow can have them too!

We Cal graduates are California's intellectual leaders. Let's use our hard-earned influence to put pressure on UC regents and the governor and force them to stop making these horrendous budget cuts to our children's education. And let's also put pressure on our congressional leaders and president to get out of Iraq, get out of Afghanistan and get out of Wall Street!

PS: In America's current "jobless recovery," approximately 17% of Americans are unemployed, approximately 18% of Americans are on disability, 51 million Americans (one in seven) receive Social Security and who knows how many Americans have dropped out of the job market altogether and are now living in boxes and cars. Our workforce is rapidly sliding downhill.

What to do? Isn't it obvious? The feds need to stop printing all that "monopoly" money that they now throw at banks and wars. But if "monopoly" money is going to be printed at all, let's print it out in order to pay for things that actually make America stronger -- like jobs, healthcare and infrastructure. And the University of California at Berkeley.

Even in tiny little poverty-stricken Cuba, almost everyone who wants a higher education or to become a doctor is given access to top-quality universities and medical schools. Is America is being educationally out shined and outdone by some tiny little "communist" nation? Yes. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

PPS: The famous 1964 Free Speech Movement here at Cal was all about having free speech on campus. This current 2009 protest is simply about being able to be on campus at all.

PPPS: My friend Robert just e-mailed me and said that the weapons industry in America is just about the only manufacturing industry that is still growing. And my friend Joe Thompson just e-mailed me about some returning Iraq vets he just met who are now unemployed. There's a moral here somewhere. Perhaps it's that that if the weapons industry wants a leg up in designing new weapons, then they are going to need to keep colleges and universities affordable? Or that unemployed Iraq vets who have been carefully trained in the art of war might be able to get hired by the Mafia when they get back home? Who knows. Not me. I am at a complete loss as to explain why America keeps eating its young.

PPPPS: Here's a video of me returning to my old alma mater -- forty years later. That's Wurster Hall in the background, where I studied city planning for two years. You never know when you're gonna get called upon to plan a city -- so now I'm prepared.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Re-thinking Fort Hood (and UC Berkeley): Why war is NEVER a good idea

I have been getting a lot of negative feedback lately regarding an essay I wrote about Major Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter. I had suggested that Hasan might have gone postal because he was under the influence of antidepressants. "That's a conspiracy theory," one person wrote. "Antidepressants have done a lot of good for a lot of people," wrote another. But the one comment that really got to me was, "It doesn't matter if Hasan was on anti-depressants or not! He has ruined a lot of lives and hurt a lot of people."

And so I am re-thinking my position on the Fort Hood slayings. It was wrong of me to even hint that the use of antidepressants might even possibly have justified this horrendous crime. Nothing justifies taking another human life. Nothing.

The guys in the Pentagon need to get that through their heads. And "terrorists" need to get that through their heads too. Even death penalty advocates need to re-think their position. And criminal minds definitely do. "Thou shalt not kill." Period.

If the human race is ever going to evolve out of the muck and mud of primordial existence, then this all-too-commonly accepted practice of killing other people -- for whatever reason -- has just got to stop.

But what does the Fort Hood tragedy have to do with the University of California at Berkeley? Hmmm. If all those jerks in Washington hadn't started those stupid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we wouldn't have spent approximately a trillion dollars (so far) on these useless, stupid wars -- and we might have used that money to educate our children instead.

Here's a video of me up at the UC Berkeley campus protests, watching possible future Einsteins fighting for their right to afford an education here in this beautiful country of ours.

And here's another video of protesters outside the sit-in at UC's Wheeler Hall. I am here to tell you that Cal students are really pissed off about this enormous fee hike -- whether they go to the protest or not. These students are much more pissed off than any teabagger ever dreamed of being. These students' education, job opportunities and future lives are being completely endangered by these cuts. As the cream of our society is being shunted away from higher education by these nasty cuts, America is heading even further downhill.

But spending money on useless wars instead of on useful education isn't the only issue here in Berkeley right now. "Why should the government raise our fees by 32%," one student asked, "and yet give Wall Street bankers hundreds of billions of dollars in bonuses?" Why indeed.

PS: These photos are of the UC demonstration, and of my family at the Monterey Bay Aquarium -- including my granddaughter who may never be able to to to Cal when she grows up. The photo with the cop car is courtesy of Bob Patterson and

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Still the big question: Was Major Hasan on antidepressants?

I just finished reading former mayor Rudy Giuliani's statement with regard to the recent Fort Hood massacre, wherein he appeared to be equating what happened at Fort Hood with what happened on 9-11. "[A] week ago we had another Islamist terrorist attack on our soil..." Come on, Rudy. Was the tragic massacre at Fort Hood really an Islamist terrorist attack? I myself have another theory about what happened at Fort Hood -- one that is much more plausible than Rudy's.

The recent Fort Hood massacre seems to more closely resemble what happened at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech than what happened at the World Trade Center, London, Madrid or Mumbai. Perhaps the reason for the logistical similarities between the massacres at Fort Hood, Columbine and Virginia Tech might be because Major Malik Hasan -- like Columbine shooter Eric Harris and Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho -- could also have been taking antidepressants at the time he went postal.

"But can you back up that statement with facts, Jane?" you might ask. No, not exactly. We will have to wait until the Department of Defense releases that information before we will know for sure. But just think about it for a moment.

Major Hasan was a psychiatrist. And most people these days know that psychiatrists are basically glorified pill pushers. Was Hasan himself also taking the meds that he allegedly was dispensing to others on a daily basis? Was this a case of "Physician, heal thyself"?

And almost everyone -- even Google -- knows that violent and/or suicidal tendencies are the all-too-common side effects of taking antidepressants. Look at the Red Lake shooter. Look at Kip Kinkel in Springfield. Look at the Omaha Mall shooter. Look at the Camp Liberty shooter. Look at the Fort Carson shooters. And although the medical records of Dylan Klebold may never be released, I will bet you anything (within reason) that he was taking antidepressants too.

But almost no one knows for certain whether or not Hasan was taking antidepressants. That would be some very interesting information that I would love to see come out at Hasan's trial. Were the 12 dead soldiers and 31 wounded GIs at Fort Hood just several more victims of antidepressant side effects? We may never know -- but I for one would be very interested in finding out if Hasan's blood contained traces of antidepressants -- just as the Columbine shooter Eric Harris's blood contained the antidepressant Luvox.

Perhaps it it time for Americans to focus more on fearing Big Pharma than on fearing terrorists. As things stand now in America, it is more likely that you will be killed by a crazed gunman on antidepressants than by a terrorist.

To see my latest video (wherein I recommend spending a day at Capitola beach instead of taking antidepressants), click here:

PS: I just went to this month's meeting of the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association (they had pumpkin pie for dessert, my favorite!) and a judge from the federal Ninth District court gave a talk about the inequities of enforcing the death penalty. "There are so many opportunities for inequities to happen," he said, "that expecting to have all these inequities straightening out at all the levels involved, including police, prosecutorial, judicial and gubernatorial levels, would be like expecting us to learn Japanese by New Years."

After finished his talk, I asked the judge if he knew if committing murder while under the influence of prescribed medications might preclude giving said murderers the death penalty. The judge replied that he himself was not familiar with any rulings to that effect. But the judge's talk got me to wondering if Major Hasan might be able to avoid the firing squad by having his attorney plead this technicality on his behalf. However, I have no idea what U.S. military law might have to say with regard to this matter.

PPS: After I had finished writing this essay, I e-mailed my resident expert on the negative side-effects of antidepressants. Dr. Gary Kohls. "I'm currently writing about Major Hasan at Fort Hood with regard to the possibility that he might have been on antidepressants at the time he went postal. Do you have any further information about that?"

"Funny you should ask," Dr. Kohls answered back. "I just wrote my weekly newspaper column on that very same subject." And here it is:

Duty to Warn:
The Fort Hood Murders/Suicide (Attempt) and the Taboo Question: What Psych Drug(s) Was Hasan Taking (or Withdrawing From)?

Most of us have been listening to the massive, round-the-clock press coverage of the latest mass shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas. Seemingly all the possible root causes of such a horrific act of violence have been raised and discussed. However, there is an elephant in the room, and it’s something that should be obvious in this age of the school shooter pandemic.

We should be outraged at the failure of the investigative journalists, the psychiatric professionals, the medical community and the military spokespersons who seem to be studiously avoiding the major factor that helps to explain these senseless acts. Why would someone unexpectedly, irrationally and randomly shoot up a school, a workplace or, in this case, an army post? Why would someone who used to be known as a seemingly rational person suddenly perpetrate a gruesome, irrational act of violence?

The answer to the question, as demonstrated again and again in so many of such recent acts of “senseless” violence, is brain- and behavior-altering drugs.

There are, of course, a multitude of personal factors, each of which could be responsible for tipping the troubled Army psychiatrist over the edge. This could include his religion and his ethnicity, which may have targeted him for ridicule in his Army community, his training as a soldier, his familiarity with firearms, his easy access to lethal weapons, his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his profession as a psychiatrist, which exposed him to many posttraumatic stress disordered soldiers (exposure to which is known to be capable of causing secondary PTSD in therapists).

The huge missing “elephant,” however, is the high likelihood that Dr. Hasan was medicated with potent brain-altering psychiatric drugs. These would be drugs that Dr. Hasan had easy access to and which he was probably prescribing widely to his psychologically-traumatized soldier-patients, unaware of the serious dangers to them or to himself. These popular, aggressively marketed, highly profitable drugs are known to cause a number of serious adverse effects including hostility, suicidality, sleep alteration, depression, mania and psychotic episodes, among many other psychotoxic and neurotoxic effects, including the potentially lethal “I don’t give a damn” attitude so common among adolescent users of antidepressant drugs.
Obviously, not everyone who takes these drugs commits such horrific crimes, but these drugs affect different people differently, and some have radically adverse side effects immediately, some come later, and it is impossible to predict who may have such a reaction.

Dr. Hasan may not have been aware that the major common denominator in the vast majority of the infamous “school shooters”, from Columbine shooter Eric Harris, to Red Lake shooter Jeff Wiese, to the Virginia Tech shooter Cho has been the use of prescription “antidepressant” drugs like Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. But antidepressants aren’t the only culprits, and school shooters aren’t the only victims of the drugs (see for over 3,000 examples of similar stories about antidepressant drug-induced violent behaviors). Modern-day psychiatric drugs are notorious for causing people to numb down, to become indifferent to the suffering of others and themselves, to become manic, depressed, psychotic, irrational, impulsive, anorexic or demented. It is important to note that Fort Hood has been averaging ten suicides a month among military personnel.

The important new book, "Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime," written by psychiatrist and scholar Grace E. Jackson, proves that every category of psychiatric drugs (antidepressants, tranquilizers/sedatives, psychostimulants, “mood stabilizers
” and antipsychotics) is fully capable of causing both short-term and long-term brain damage, with serious neurodegenerative, behavior-altering and emotion-numbing effects. Jackson’s information is gleaned from the vast neuroscience and neurotoxicology journals, information which is almost never published in the mainstream medical literature that clinicians are likely to read.

Jackson’s book is a sobering revelation that will be unwelcome news to those industries that are “too big to fail”: mainstream psychiatry and the pharmaceutical companies. These two industries have been either ignorant of these realities or have been withholding the information, despite the fact that the neurotoxicology data has been published in basic neuroscience journals ever since the 1960s, when the chronic use of Thorazine and Haldol were proven unequivocally to cause brain damage in high percentages of users.

In addition to Dr. Jackson’s books (she also has written a powerful expose of psychotropic drugs entitled "Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs"), psychiatrist Peter Breggin ( and has been writing frequently about the phenomenon of drug-induced mental ill health and drug-induced brain-damage for two decades. Breggin’s well-written, well-researched and well-documented books include "Toxic Psychiatry; Your Drug May Be Your Problem"; "Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry"; "The Antidepressant Fact Book; Talking Back to Prozac"; "Talking Back to Ritalin"; and the book most pertinent to the issue of psychotropic drug-induced mental dysfunction, "Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications".

Dr. Breggin recently wrote an article about the Fort Hood shooting episode that was entitled “The Fort Hood Shooter: A Different Psychiatric Perspective”. I have excerpted portions of Breggin’s article immediately below because Dr. Breggin has the wisdom and experience to speak authoritatively on the subject. The article can be accessed in its entirely at:

Breggin writes about the above-mentioned “elephant in the room”: Some in the media have expressed surprise that a man whose profession is about caring would turn to violence. According to one theory, Dr. Hasan was driven to the breaking point by the stress of counseling returning soldiers and having to listen to their horrific stories. Totally false. Psychiatrists are no longer trained to listen to or to counsel their patients. Nor do they care to.

“I've given seminars to the staff at both hospitals where Hasan was trained, Walter Reed in DC and the national military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland. The psychiatrists had no interest in anything except medicating their patients.

“Modern psychiatry is not about counseling and empowering people. It's about controlling and suppressing them, and that's a dismal affair for patients and doctors alike. The armed forces have been taken in by the false claims of modern psychiatry.

“By contrast, it's not depressing to do psychotherapy or counseling. As therapists, it's inspiring when people entrust their feelings and their life stories to us. There is no burn-out when therapists feel concern and empathy for their patients and help them to find the strength and direction to reclaim their lives.

“But being an ordinary (ie, a psychiatric drug dispensing) psychiatrist is deadly depressing. Psychiatrists routinely commit spiritual murder by disregarding and suppressing their patients' feelings and even their cognitive functions, making it impossible for them to conquer their emotional struggles. It's no wonder my colleagues have such high suicide and drug addiction rates.

”The most recent data show that soldiers are being snowed under not only with antidepressants and tranquilizers, but increasingly with antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon and Seroquel. To cover up their own therapeutic impotence, psychiatrists chemically suppress our troops and push them back onto the front lines. That's the kind of poisonous psychiatry that Hasan was practicing….

Self-Medication Rates Among Psychiatrists

To continue quoting from Dr. Breggin’s article: ”Psychiatrists are notorious for treating themselves with psychiatric drugs. They have them freely available and they simply don't know anything different. The odds are that Dr. Hasan was self-medicating with antidepressants and tranquilizers that were causing his increasing disinhibition, at least in his pronouncements, until his final “Allahu Akbar” before he began shooting.

“In my book '
Medication Madness,'
I describe dozens of cases that I have personally evaluated involving relatively normal individuals who committed murder, mayhem and suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants and tranquilizers. One of these cases involves a psychiatrist who began by self-medicating himself, then came under another psychiatrist's care who continued to give him antidepressants, until he ended up in a manic state, assaulting a helpless woman. Before being driven mad by antidepressants, he was a relatively stable and highly accomplished doctor with no special inclination toward violence. These psychiatric drugs will have an even greater triggering effect on someone like Hasan who was already ideologically and psychologically primed to explode in violence.

Failing to Identify His Dangerousness

”Dr. Bart Billings is the founder and director of the premier International Combat Stress Conference, where I made a presentation last year. Dr. Billings, a retired colonel, is not surprised that Hasan's psychiatric colleagues failed to realize how crazy and ideologically menacing he had become. Dr. Billings confirms that army psychiatrists are nothing more than pill pushers who have no idea how to evaluate anyone's mental condition. He also agrees that it's criminal to prescribe psychiatric drugs to active duty soldiers, increasing the risk that they will break under stress and lose their self-control.

“It's time for the army to reject the false promises and damaging effects of modern psychiatry, and to focus on psychological, educational and moral approaches that genuinely help soldiers to prepare for and to overcome the effects of combat stress.”

Dr. Hasan’s case is a good example of murder/suicide. His behaviors in the days leading up to the event were compatible with suicidal intentions. He was emptying out his apartment, giving away his possessions and saying goodbye to friends and acquaintances, even though his date of deployment was days away. He knew he wasn’t coming back from his planned deed.

Even though his brain was not operating rationally, he knew that he would not get away with the murderous acts without getting shot, probably fatally. The phenomenon known as “suicide by cop” probably applies in this case. When humiliated, angry, hopeless and often suicidal men decide that they need to get revenge against a person, a group or a culture that has been tormenting them unjustly, they often want to go out in a “blaze of glory”, taking as many of their perceived tormentors as possible along with them. Ending their hopeless and despairing lives that way will ensure that they will be remembered as someone that wasn’t a nobody and wasn’t somebody deserving of disrespect and scorn.

Powerful forces will be operating behind the scenes at Fort Hood. Secrecy will prevail. There will be attempts to suppress important information about any drug use by Hasan or about the suicidality-inducing drugs he prescribed to his already psychologically-wounded soldiers. It is possible that the medical records will be sealed, claiming privacy concerns, as in the case of Columbine co-shooter Dylan Klebold. We need to demand a thorough, transparent investigation of all factors, especially those factors that may not be appreciated by the groups that would prefer a cover-up. The victims, both current and future ones, have a right to know the whole truth, if for no other reason than for society to be able to plan effective preventive strategies for the future.

Dr. Kohl's article can be accessed at

PPPS: Even though I am almost certain that the horrible Fort Hood massacre was a result of Major Hasan having been on too many medications, let's also take a closer look at why Muslims might actually be angry enough to kill Americans. Maybe it's the injustice, stupid.

Here's just a small example of injustice toward Muslims: According to David Pratt, foreign policy editor for Glasgow's Sunday Herald and author of "Intifada: The Long Day of Rage," people all across the world happily celebrated the destruction of the unjust and inhumane Berlin Wall recently, but nobody seems to be protesting Israel's inhumane and unjust barrier Wall.

"What was amazing about the Berlin jamboree..." wrote Pratt, "was that in the days leading up to and during the celebrations, scant mention was made of Israel’s illegal 'separation wall' which today, like its bygone equivalent, stands as a global symbol of repression. Why, on this grand occasion marking the end of the Berlin Wall, was there not more reflection or objection to the injustice caused by its contemporary counterpart? ....The double standards displayed by many world leaders this week keen to add their ringing endorsement to the inhuman and intolerant rule the Berlin Wall represented, while remaining steadfastly mute on Israel’s present-day incarnation, is shaming to them all."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

America's real national pastime: Snobbery & "Trading Up"

And you thought that BASEBALL was America's national pastime? Forget about that. America's real national pastime is snobbery. America's real national pastime is "trading up".
First you hang out with the popular kids in high school. Then you "trade up" to Paris Hilton and Bernie Madoff. And then you "trade-up" to Goldman Sachs, Halliburton and the White House.

If you are a shopaholic, you "trade up" from the Dollar Tree to WalMart to Saks Fifth Avenue.

If you are a wingnut, you "trade up" from Edward R. Morrow and Walter Conkrite to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

If you are a man, you keep your eyes out for possible trophy wives. And if you are a woman, you try to "marry up".

But what happens to all those poor nerdy schmucks like me who only want freedom, justice, world peace and the human race's evolution away from hatred and war? We get belittled and snubbed. "You buy your clothes at the Salvation Army, drive a hooptie, fight global climate change and speak to Black people who haven't graduated from Harvard? You want to save the whales? LOSER! Eeuuww."

If the really big players in America's real national pastime had been around 2000 years ago, they would have "traded up" from Jesus post haste. "Good grief," they would say. "The man is a CARPENTER, for Chrissake."

Here's a typical American "trading up" story that could have happened in your neighborhood (and probably did): An idealistic but rather low-income woman had a daughter who spent her whole life "trading up" -- both economically and socially. Even at an early age, she began to think up more and more excuses not to be seen with her lower-income mom. This daughter spent her entire childhood and adolescence cultivating friendships with rich people's kids; spent her 20s scheming on how to talk her mother into giving her the family's pitiful little inheritance when her grandfather died and keeping her mother away from the daughter's daughter in case her mother's idealistic influences might rub off; and then spent her 30s "marrying up". Now this daughter is really happy and busy living the American dream -- but didn't even invite her own mother to her (most recent) wedding.

And here's a typical American "trading up" story that could have happened on the national level (and probably did): The son of a U.S. president wanted to "trade up" to the position of president himself -- so he cheated on his election (in America today, "trading up" seems to justify anything). And once in office, he outright lied about a multitude of things in order to start some wars that took the lives of well over a million foreigners and over 9,000 Americans. But can you blame him though? He was trying to "trade up," which is an admirable goal.

And then just before his term of office expired, this guy apparently okayed the Gaza atrocities. Why not? Who would mind a thousand or so extra dead Palestinians? After all, his friends in charge of the bombings wanted to "trade up" too. And "trading up" is the best justification there is -- even if various bloody body parts of children are involved. Here's a video of Judge Richard Goldstone discussing the results of last year's Gaza "trading up":

What worries me most about this former "president" is that no one has heard anything about George W. Bush's efforts to "trade up" lately. That's scaring me. The man is a trader at heart, and the fact that we haven't heard anything about his trading activities lately is just plain scary. But maybe he's just on the down-low right now, busy "trading up" with the devil for the best place in Hell.

And here's another aspect of our "trading up" national pastime that really bothers me. Does having a conscience or having spiritual money-in-the-bank count for anything at all in America right now? "No." Yikes!

Being a good person used to be a very important American national pastime -- but not any more. Most of us have already let morality slide in favor of playing the "trading up" game. And as for the rest of us -- those of us who still keep trying to play according to the rules of old-fashioned morality? We are delegitmized, avoided and laughed at -- and sent down to the minor leagues.

PS: My daughter Ashley and I got bored just standing in line
at the DMV today and so, while we were waiting, I taught her a very simple way to clear up sinus congestion -- using Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient Japanese healing art. And here's the video demonstration we made, FYI. There were 200 people waiting in line ahead of us so I guess we could have made the video longer, but the method really is very quick and easy.

PPS: Ashley just shot my video SIDEWAYS. As my director-producer, she is so FIRED.

PPPS: Here's an article about the history of US involvement in Helmand province back in the 1970s when Americans built a typical US city there. Fascinating.