Archive for September, 2006

Restore Civility in Debate, Politics and Government

September 24, 2006

By John E. Carey
September 25, 2006

There seems a lack of civility, good manners, decorum and protocol in Washington these days.

One side frequently calls the other side names instead of making organized, logical arguments. Or sometimes, even while making good arguments, the “tone” of the discussion is so harsh that the message gets damaged or lost.

We entered the world of the “blogosphere” on July 4, 2006. In this internet land of people discussing world events, the language often is particularly harsh, polarizing and nasty.

Former President Bill Clinton entered (or re-entered depending upon your point of view) the fray on Sunday, September 24, 2006, during an interview with Chris Wallace on the TV show “Fox News Sunday.”

Associated Press writer Karen Matthews, reporting on the exchange, called it “combative.” The Washington Times’ Eric Pfeiffer used words like “angry,” “blame,” “agitated,” “contentious,” and “heated exchange.”

Former President Bill Clinton, an experienced and calculating politician, one has to think, threw this tantrum intentionally. Either that or he just lost his cool during a TV interview and then failed to ask for a re-taping to set the record straight. Which do you think?

According to Pfeiffer, “Mr. Clinton became so agitated that he could be seen wagging his right index finger at moderator Chris Wallace.”

“You’ve got that little smirk on your face, and you think you’re so clever,” Mr. Clinton said. “You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.”

Mr. Wallace said after the interview, “As he leaned forward — wagging his finger in my face and then poking the notes I was holding — I felt as if a mountain was coming down in front of me.”

Mr. Wallace said more on Fox on Monday afternoon September 25: “He just blew,” said an incredulous Wallace about the former president. “What set him off,” continued Wallace, “was one of my questions. But it was clear President Clinton had been boiling about ABC and their recent show (“The Path to 9/11″) and I just hit a raw nerve.”

Wallace said he did not think President Clinton’s reaction was scripted or planned and that “he was still fuming as he left the studio.”

Wallace also said his producer tried to cut off the president to save embarassment, saying off camera, “End this interview right away,” but that the former president continued speaking.

This is conduct for a former president? To make a point? I can hear George Washington, Abe Lincoln and a bunch of the other former “Bubbas” rolling over in their graves.

Those are not words usually associated with a president sitting for a media interview. Or speaking anywhere on anything. I can’t think of those words ever applied to an ex-president during a media exchange. This may just qualify Mr. Clinton for another description: “not presidential.”

Mr. Clinton accused host Chris Wallace of a “conservative hit job.” Not presidential at all.

Did president Clinton miss a memo about letting others mix it up in public with the opposition and their media? Even my Vietnamese-born wife observed: “Good thing Clinton didn’t interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox. It might have ended up with Bill and Bill on the floor slugging each other.”

Not presidential.

And as the leader of the Democratic party, the former president used his leadership by example to tell his followers that a nearly enraged response to criticism is all right. Completely acceptable. Even appropriate.

We have a problem with this.

It is bad enough we have to hear the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “talking smack” as they say, at the United Nations; now we have to hear it from a former President of the United States?

Makes one wonder what side is Bill Clinton on? And why does he see a need to lower himself to the level of Chavez and Ahmadinejad? Are we missing something?

An exchange between President Bush and the Today show’s Matt Lauer on the anniversary of 9/11 caused a flurry of discussion on some web sites. Lauer seemed to have an aggressive, even badgering tone with the president as the two stood in the Oval Office discussing 9/11 and other issues of the day. Lauer repeatedly gestured in an aggressive way, almost sticking his finger in the president’s chest.On Sunday, September 10, 2006, on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Democratic National Committee Chairman and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean if he would now apologize to Karl Rove.

It seems, despite Dean’s accusations that Rove was the leaker in the Valery Plame escapade, that Richard Armitage was the unfortunate and inadvertent leaker.Gov. Dean answered, “Absolutely not. I still think he should be fired.”

Armitage apologized in public. Dean could not.

Does it matter? Sure it does.Thoughtful, courteous national discourse has managed to get us and our democracy through a revolution against the most powerful nation on the Earth, a War Between the States, two World Wars and other tragedies and trying times.

If we can get along, maybe we can discuss the problems and get the best answers. Maybe a more civil and etiquette-driven discussion of the issues can help us get through the War on Terror.

Instead, we have become a nation led by name-callers, insult-slingers and generally rude, angry and impolite representatives.And sometimes, the media, maybe unintentionally, magnify the animosity.

This is what many conservatives saw during Matt Lauer’s questioning of President Bush on September 11, 2006.

What does this uncivil discourse teach our children? And does it do us any good?

Our American history is full of great men who teach us the importance of good conduct for the common good. Some say George Washington actually authored “The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour [sic] in Company and Conversation.”

Though not the author, Washington embraced good manners so famously that the “Rules” could easily have been his own creation.The good manners of John Adams also echo to us through history.

With Thomas Paine, Adams watched a young American officer conduct himself less than diplomatically and courteously before the King of France.

Adams wrote to his wife, describing the “Man of Choleric Temper.” Adams said the man “like so many Gentlemen from his State, is abrupt and undiplomatic. Last evening, at a Royal Reception, he confronted His Most Christian Majesty Louis XVI with Words both ardent and impatient, whilst Mr. Paine wrung his Hands at the other man’s lack of Tact. Never did I think that I would see our impetuous Paine so pain’d by another’s want of Courtesy and Civility. To our amazement, however, the King took [the man’s] Enthusiasm in good Part.”

When told one of his generals, John C. Fremont, had been nominated by a group of 400 anti-Lincoln loyalists to run for president, Lincoln opened a Bible and read aloud from I Samuel:22, “And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them; and there were with him about four hundred men.”

Modern statesmen pulled the country together, not by tearing others apart or barking at the media, but more often by thoughtful discourse and conduct.

“Both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt operated beautifully on the reporters who surrounded them,” wrote David Keirsey and Ray Choiniere in “Presidential Temperament.”

“Both used the press as if it were their own publicity machine.”

This was largely achieved in a civil, diplomatic style.

A modern day solon of wisdom and truth might be former Indiana Congressman and Democrat Lee Hamilton. Hamilton volunteered some stern remarks about the importance of truth. “Facts are not Republican and they’re not Democrat,” he said. “They’re not ideological. Facts are facts.”

I cannot ever recall seeing John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush look petulant, angry or rude. Or terribly distort the facts.

Other great national leaders also reflect respect, even admiration, for the importance of good protocol and decorum.Winston Churchill described a 1941 university ceremony this way: “The blitz was running hard at that time, and the night before, the raid … had been heavy. Several hundreds had been killed and wounded. Many houses were destroyed. Buildings next to the university were still burning, and many of the university authorities who conducted the ceremony had pulled on their robes over uniforms begrimed and drenched; but all was presented with faultless ritual and appropriate decorum, and I sustained a very strong and invigorating impression of the superiority of man over the forces that can destroy him.”

Let’s hope our leaders become enlightened enough to avoid the forces that can destroy them. For our sake and the sake of our children.

I regret the times that bad conduct, anger and a disregard for etiquette got the best of me.

I hope our present day political leaders see the light too.

To get though the war against terror and to achieve victory, a united, clear-thinking leadership just might be important.

Angry rhetoric and arson with clever words serves no good purpose. It just diminishes our dialogue and our democracy.

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A version of the article was published in The Washington Times.

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This is from our very first “About Peace and Freedom” posting:

John retired from the United States Navy after duty on several ships, and numerous tours of duty in the Pentagon including in President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI).

Mr. Carey has been named by the U.S. Navy as one of the 20 founding members or “Pathfinders” of the Navy Ballistic Missile Defense program.

In March of 2007 the people of the tribal areas, Pakistan, announced that they were awarding the “Award from the Poor” to John on behalf of his work for them both in country and in the newspaper upon his return to the United States.

Mr. Carey is active in Human Rights activities and has written extensively about human rights issues with his wife, Honglien. He is a regular contributor to many newspapers and internet discussion groups and considers The Washington Times as his “home” newspaper.

He also manages the “Peace and Freedom” Information Group.

Mister Carey is the former President of International Defense Consultants, Inc. (IDCI) of Arlington, Virginia which supported the war against terrorism and others projects for the Pentagon and Department of State.

Peace and Freedom is supported by journalists and experts world-wide such as Wantanee in Thailand, Hieu in Vietnam, Win Le in China and Muhammad in Khar (Bajaur, Tribal Areas, Pakistan).

On September 6, 2006, TIME Magazine initiated a link to our Peace and Freedom web sites; an honor that made us most proud of our web contributions of our Flagship.

Welcome to Peace and Freedom: Where We Express our Love and Gratitude for God, America and All Mankind. We hope you enjoy a learning experience here….

 

World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day

September 20, 2006

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
September 20, 2006

Tomorrow, September 21, is World’s Alzheimer’s Day. This is a fitting anniversary for me as it coincides with my Mom’s birthday.

Tomorrow is the day that Alzheimer associations around the world set aside to concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about dementia. There are an estimated 24 million people around the world who currently have dementia.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most costly maladies draining the reserves of insurance companies and family savings. And because the medical community is now able to help us live longer lives, the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers is increasing at an alarming rate.

In June 1999, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) joined together as co-chairs of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, a task force that continues to provide an immeasurable degree of leadership.

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) head the effort in the Senate. Both are active, vigorous and conscientious advocates.

Congressional committees responsible for funding Alzheimer’s research and treatment projects voted to limit or decrease most projects in the budget now under consideration on Capitol Hill.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation, as well as delusions or hallucinations.

Because Alzheimer’s is a disease, a malfunction if you will, in the brain, patients and their families often experience difficulty in properly diagnosing the disease and getting treatment.

While doctors often rely heavily on the patient’s complaints to diagnose other diseases, a patient with Alzheimer’s may be unable or reluctant to describe his or her own confusion and distress.

Add to that, the patient may be reclusive, untrusting and/or overly proud. The patient may suffer through long days of confusion and misinterpretation, only to rally in front of the doctor and hide any hint of disability.

My friend Ron may be the classic example of Alzheimer’s disease running amuck in a sufferer both confused and no longer able to routinely make rational decisions others take for granted.

He is not only unable to make the decisions; he agonizes over simple decisions for days or weeks at a time.
And Alzheimer’s disease sufferers can be dangerous, in extreme cases, to themselves and others. Ron has had three car accidents in recent memory. His insurance policy was revoked.

But, unable to properly self-diagnose and afraid a doctor might recommend he stop driving, Ron, like untold numbers of others, retains his license, continues to drive, and found new though more expensive insurance coverage.

We experienced the agony of Alzheimer’s in our own family. My mother progressed over the course of several years from exhibiting slightly odd behavior to the stage we all most fear. She became almost a totally different person. She became both difficult to care for and hard to love.

She eventually needed full time nursing home care: a costly proposition even for the well heeled and adequately insured.

Fortunately there is lots of help available. Help groups, seminars and treatment opportunities abound. In my county, for example, people over the age of 65 can ride a taxi almost anywhere for $1.00 so nobody who feels unsafe behind the wheel needs to drive.

What are the costs of a progressive brain disease on an aging society?At the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ICAD), in Madrid during July, 2006, Dr. Anders Wimo, M.D. Ph.D., of the Stockholm Gerontology Research Center and Aging Research Center at Karolinska Instituet, Sweden, said the worldwide costs of dementia care (combined direct and informal costs) is now in the neighborhood $248 billion U.S. Dollars annually.

But this overlooks the fact that many suffer the ill effects of the disease and still receive no care and that our aging population is growing at a breathtaking rate.

“These startling cost estimates for Alzheimer’s care clearly illustrate the great challenges faced by both families and our national healthcare systems as the number of people with Alzheimer’s continues to grow,” said William Thies, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations.

“Increasing the funding for Alzheimer’s research into early detection, better treatment and prevention is critical to curbing this impending world health disaster. We can fund research now or wait for Alzheimer’s to overwhelm the health systems in the U.S. and throughout the world.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the older population–persons 65 years or older–numbered 36.3 million in 2004 (the latest year for which data is available). They represented 12.4% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 71.5 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000. People 65+ represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but are expected to grow to be 20% of the population by 2030.

According to the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association, Medicare costs for people with Alzheimer’s will be over $1 trillion by 2050 and Medicaid costs for nursing home care alone will be about $118 billion.

Nobody can say for sure how many people among us will have Alzheimer’s in the future but some experts say we will have 16 million or more Alzheimer’s sufferers in America by 2050.

The treatment costs for these people will certainly be staggering.

“All too often, seniors are unable to access adequate mental health care in their communities, even when they have access to other health care services in places like local community centers,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) who works closely in the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease on Capitol Hill with Senator Clinton and others.

Add to this health care crisis an often overlooked segment of the population that Senator Clinton often discusses: patients and sufferers from Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. These are younger sufferers; people sometimes as young as fifty years of age.

“Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect the elderly,” Senator Clinton said. “When Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias unexpectedly strike younger individuals, they face daunting challenges in addition to the disease itself, like difficulty obtaining a diagnosis, early retirement and the loss of jobs and income.”

Congressional funding for Alzheimer’s education, research and related programs such as 24/7 Call Centers, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, and other efforts, is never easily secured.

Congressional committees with oversight and funding authority for Alzheimer’s projects have already recommended funding cuts to several Alzheimer’s programs in this budget cycle and the House and Senate are not expected to vote on Alzheimer’s projects until after the November elections.

“Although we have made progress in the awareness, diagnosis, and treatment of Alzheimer’s over the past 15 years… we must do more,” Senator Clinton said. “We must continue to make this disease a national priority. This means directing more resources to learn how to identify early onset dementia and stop its progression.”

“I am hopeful that together we can combat this disease and do all we can to bring hope, help and an eventual cure to the millions of Americans with Alzheimer’s,” Senator Clinton said.

Vietnam: Time To Release Political Prisoners

September 16, 2006

Vietnam: Human Rights Housecleaning and Prisoner Release Neeeded Before Greater U.S. Economic Openness

By John E. Carey
September 16, 2006

On July 18, 2006, in a commentary essay in The Washington Times newspaper titled “Trade With Vietnam,” authors Richard Armitage and Randy Schriver said, “Clearly, there are serious shortcomings with respect to human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam today. However, we are confident that once Vietnam embraces the global rules-based trading system, the country will set in motion a variety of forces that will ultimately lead to a freer nation.”

The Armitage/Schriver theory of human rights might be paraphrased as, “Once the leaders of Vietnam start making real money due to trade with the U.S., they may tire of jailing innocent people and repressing religious groups.”

Vietnam is seeking entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Vietnam is also seeking U.S. Congressional approval for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) from the U.S. The President of the United States is expected to travel to Vietnam in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference.

Yet Vietnam continues to take actions contrary to its own self interests by jailing political antagonists for “crimes” such as posting democratically themed essays on the internet.

Two of these prisoners are Cong Thanh Do and Thuong N. “Cuc” Foshee, and there are others.

Cong Thanh Do used the internet to spread “democratic” messages, a crime in Vietnam. Mr. Do is from San Jose, California. His activities, taken for granted by all Americans, came to the attention of the government of Vietnam, a government that insists upon regulating all media and information, including the internet and email. The Washington Times web site, for example, is not available to readers in Vietnam. The Washington Times is too “seditionist.”

While the United States cannot appropriately intervene and tell another nation that it must insist upon an American style of freedom of speech, American Congressmen and Senators can insist upon the release of Americans wrongly held in jails in Vietnam.

Thuong N. “Cuc” Foshee, according to her family, “was detained by the Vietnamese government and has been in a detention center in HCMC [Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon] ever since. She has not been charged with any crime, has been denied bail, has been denied a visit with an attorney, her prescription medication has been withheld and she has been denied adequate dental and medical care.”

Mrs. Foshee has not been charged, though she has been held since September 8, 2005.

Mrs. Foshee was also known for her internet postings of democratically inspired documents from her home in California.

Both Mr. Do and Mrs. Foshee went to Vietnam to visit elderly relatives.

When Vietnam’s current government leaders ascended to power last June, we responded with a Washington Times commentary on America’s Independence Day, July 4, 2006. “Recently, more enlightened thinking has made Vietnam an emerging economic force,” we wrote, “the news of the new leadership gives great promise.”

Now is the time for that new leadership to live up to its great promise.

Vietnam has released imprisoned persons guilty of similar “crimes.” Earlier this month Vietnam released prominent dissident and pro-democracy activist Pham Hong Son. Son was originally sentenced to five years in prison. His crime? He translated articles from the U.S. State Department web site for an online journal. The articles were titled “What is democracy?”

The Vietnamese government is manipulating the international community by feigning partial respect for human rights. Vietnam has been releasing thousands of prisoners in order to convince the United States government to approve Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) and the world to support them in accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Scott Johnson of the Montagnard Foundation, a group that fosters understanding of the indigenous Vietnamese tribal peoples wrote, “The recent announcement by the Vietnamese government that they will release ‘some’ dissidents in a general amnesty reminds me of a conversation I had with a former U.S. State Department official about his dealings with the Soviets during the Cold War. ‘Throw them a dissident’ was what he said and he described how the Soviets would play the stalling game by keeping Western diplomatic pressure at bay for a time.”

According to Vo Van Ai of the Buddhist Information service in Paris, there are only four prisoners of conscience out of the 5,313 recently released by the government of Vietnam and he describes this “piecemeal amnesty” as a “propaganda exercise.”

Scott Johnson and Vo Van Ai are telling us what is obvious to most international observers: Vietnam’s recent prisoner release effort is window dressing designed to thrill the most shallow students of human rights. The exercise is an effort to please U.S. congressmen and Senators without getting to the real heart of the issue: that Vietnam continues to hold political prisoners, indigenous Montagnards and others; many without charges and without rights.

While we applaud Vietnam’s granting of freedom to those formerly held in incarceration, we urge Vietnam to free the remaining victims held in prisons.

A letter from Reporters Without Borders on September 6, 2006, stated in part, “Five people are currently imprisoned in Vietnam for having expressed democratic views on the Internet.

Contrary to the claims of the Vietnamese authorities, none of them is a terrorist, criminal or spy. These [people] have been punished for using the Internet to publicly express their disagreement with the political line of the sole party. They are non-violent democrats.”

It is time for Vietnam to make a clean slate of its past human rights abuses. Entry into the WTO, granting of PNTR and the President of the United States’ visit during APEC all give the Vietnamese a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate fairness, forward thinking, a renewed commitment to human rights and modernity.

So we urge Vietnam to release the key political and religious prisoners it still holds, many without charges or any access to attorneys, family, medical treatment or religious advice.

And we urge U.S. Members of the House of Representatives and Senators not to move forward on PNTR for Vietnam until the release and safety of these jailed prisoners can be secured.

Before Vietnam can be considered an equal partner in world trade and economic activity, it must face the realities of the modern world.

While we welcome the prisoners recently released, we urge Vietnam to now release those still held: prisoner such as Cong Thanh Do and Thuong N. “Cuc” Foshee.

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Highlighted During 9/11 Anniversary

September 12, 2006

By John E. Carey

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 and other horrific events, remind us both of the resiliency and frailty of the human mind.

After an extremely emotional and gut wrenching event, some people’s minds seem to totally erase the bad memories. The mind seems to heal itself by discarding agony.

Other people relive the difficulties over and over again in flashbacks and in dreams. These people suffer from what is now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

The National Mental Health Association defines PTSD as, “an extremely debilitating condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.”

PTSD became a common clinical term when doctors began dealing with thousands of men suffering the ill effects of the disease during the Vietnam war.

Today, there is something of a surge in PTSD patients in treatment because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 9/11 survivors, Hurricane Katrina victims and others.

“It can be pretty scary and hard to deal with, especially if they witnessed some death and violent behavior,” said Paddy Kutz, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Licking County, Ohio. “We’re in a different kind of world and the stress is enormous.”

Many PTSD sufferers do not seek medical treatment because they fear the stigma of being labeled crazy. But without treatment, PTSD can become a life-long, debilitating and chronic problem leading to drug and alcohol abuse or addiction, marital difficulties and divorce, and violent behavior leading to criminal prosecution.

In the Vietnam era, finding adequate PTSD treatment wasn’t easy, in part because of this stigma, peer pressure and the macho ethos of the infantryman.

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a dirty word,” said Vietnam veteran Dale Bradshaw. “It doesn’t mean you’re nuts.”

Another Vietnam veteran, Russ Clark said, “It took me a long time to even recognize I had some issues — 25 years. I put on a good front, and I’m grateful I was able to do that because it kept my career going, but I knew inside things weren’t right.”

Today, the Veterans Administration and a host of help and support groups encourage sufferers to come forward as soon as symptoms are noticed.

PTSD symptoms are usually categorized as intrusive, avoidant or hyperarousal.Intrusive symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive memories or emotions.

Avoidant behaviors include efforts to avoid emotional involvement or relationships, avoiding taking responsibility for others, and avoiding any situation that may replicate the source experiences of the PTSD.

Hyperarousal behaviors include exaggerated startle reactions, explosive outbursts, panic attacks, and sleep disorders.

Dr. Eve Carlson and Dr. Joseph Ruzek of the National Center for PTSD wrote, “When people find themselves suddenly in danger, sometimes they are overcome with feelings of fear, helplessness, or horror. These events are called traumatic experiences. Some common traumatic experiences include being physically attacked, being in a serious accident, being in combat, being sexually assaulted, and being in a fire or a disaster like a hurricane or a tornado. After traumatic experiences, people may have problems that they didn’t have before the event. If these problems are severe and the survivor does not get help for them, they can begin to cause problems in the survivor’s family.”

Dr. Carlson and Dr. Ruzek encourage, in fact urge, sufferers and their families to seek help.

“Although individuals with PTSD may feel overwhelmed by their symptoms, it is important for them to remember that there are other, positive aspects of their lives,” Dr. Carlson and Dr. Ruzek say. “There are helpful mental-health and medical resources available, and survivors have their strengths, interests, commitments, relationships with others, past experiences that were not traumatic, desires, and hopes for the future.”

And the human brain is a lot more resilient and self healing than many people realize.

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We wrote the following essay a few years ago and it is still relevant to the discussion of PTSD.The Doctor: A Civil War PTSD Case?

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
July 31, 1999

During the Civil War the concept of “post traumatic stress disorder” did not exist. Physicians and family members close to disabled veterans certainly knew and understood the mental toll the carnage of battle inflicted on mind and body. Dr. William Chester Minor, himself a trained physician, suffered paranoia, uncontrolled fits of rage and severe headaches and nightmares after the Civil War.

Ultimately Dr. Minor’s illness resulted in irrational behavior culminating in the murder of a complete stranger. Admitted to an asylum in 1872, he died in 1920 after making a major contribution to one of the most important books in the English language.

William Chester Minor, son of Eastman Strong Minor, had all the benefits of privilege. He enjoyed the advantages of a fine family name, wealth and education. His father, a true aristocrat, headed the seventh generation of Minors in the United States. Most of the Minors had established themselves as key members of the community dating back to Pilgrim times. Indeed, the property for Oakwood cemetery and an early Methodist Church expansion in Falls Church, Virginia, was donated to the church by a descendant of George Minor (T. Harrison) in 1818 (ironically, Union troops destroyed the church in 1861).

Eastman Minor closed his New England printing business, and with his wife Lucy, traveled to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1834 to spread the gospel of Christianity among the “brown peoples” from India through Singapore and up to Bangkok. William was born seven months after their arrival. Orphaned at the age of three, he saw his father re-married to another widowed missionary by the age of five.

William Minor’s father and other clergymen preached about the evils of sex and the damning temptations of the flesh.

Yet young William witnessed first hand the local tropical girls bathing shamelessly naked (and apparently without fear of guilt or sin) in the surf – a vision and a dichotomy that would haunt him into adulthood.

A gentle soul, William took to water colors and other artistic pursuits. But his first love was a life-long admiration for great written works.

By the age of twelve, William Minor knew several languages and could ably navigate the back streets of Rangoon, Singapore, and Bangkok.

Sent back to the United States, William Minor completed a classical education and graduated from the difficult School of Medicine at Yale. He spent nine years in medical apprenticeship before he volunteered for service in the Union Army just four days before the Battle of Gettysburg.

After months of service far from the front, Dr. Minor was plunged into the horror of war. He was with the Army at the battle of the Wilderness, and heard wounded soldiers of both Armies crying out in pain as fire swept through the dry kindling of the battle ground. He amputated limbs and witnessed the terrible wounds inflicted by the large caliber lead rounds and cannon shot of the day. He saw gangrene, filth and infection frequently.

After the Wilderness, Dr. Minor was pressed into service by a court martial for a most unusual and difficult assignment. A Union Army deserter, an Irishman by birth, had been caught. This deserter was to face judgement in the field. Found guilty of a hanging offense by a hastily arranged court martial, the “merciful” court ordered the deserter branded on the face with a D, marking him forever after as an army deserter.

This fairly common punishment permanently marked former soldiers for shame. For an Irishman, this was a particularly heinous sentence, for it barred a man from returning to participate in the covert war against the English monarchy. The face scarred with the D alerted law officers who would watch or apprehend the wearer.

Dr. Minor was ordered to mete out the punishment of the court martial. Using a red-hot branding iron, the hesitant doctor carried out his assignment. But the sight and sound of searing flesh and the conflict with the physician’s Hippocratic oath haunted Minor for the rest of his life.

At war’s end, Dr. Minor was performing autopsies at the military hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. As he moved from posting to posting after the war, he began to exhibit unusual behavior. Irishmen, he believed, entered his quarters to molest him while he slept. He began to frequent the most unseemly establishments in the slums of New York. He complained of headaches.

Minor spent time in the government insane asylum that we now know as Saint Elizabeth’s in Washington, D. C. But doctors were unable to conclusively diagnose his illness. Then, at the urging of his family, Dr. Minor went to Europe, where, it was hoped, he could rid his mind of torment. Dr. Minor expected to read, read and paint.

But there was no escaping these post-war demons. Waking in the dark of night while living in London, Dr. Minor went into the street and shot to death a man on his way to work at the local brewery. Dr. Minor believed he had chased one of his Irish tormentors out of his apartment, but at his trial, the landlady proved that no one could have entered his locked chambers.

Convicted of murder and found to be insane, Dr. Minor was sent away to the Broadmoor insane asylum in England in 1872. While Grant became President of the United States and Chamberlain became Governor of Maine, William Chester Minor faced incarceration for the rest of his life.

But the story doesn’t end here. Dr. Minor, an educated man who became a physician because of his dogged determination and dedication to good study habits, used his Army pension to start his own library. He collected the best titles and authors of the English language. Ultimately he contributed twenty years of nearly continuous study effort to the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary.

William Chester Minor: student, physician, artist, Civil War veteran, murderer and lexicographer. Dr. Minor’s story has recently been illuminated by Simon Winchester in his book The Professor and the Madman,” which sheds light upon the Civil War, the nature of man, and the roots of the English language.

The Seductive Circe of Technology In Warfare

September 6, 2006

By John E. Carey
September 7, 2006

As one trained extensively on high tech systems, such as cruise missiles, “Star Wars” missile defenses, and other modern warfare tools, I was stunned that Israel apparently got so enamored with technology that they may have forgotten about some of the basics of war; like rushing an enemy that might be on the ropes, maximizing one’s own advantages like firepower and intelligence, and training the force to a fine edge.

In Lebanon, Israel blew much of the infrastructure to smithereens without killing the preponderance of Hezbollah. And they certainly did not deny Hezbollah their short-range Katyusha rockets. In the last 24 hours before the start of the cease fire, 250 Hezbollah rockets landed in Israel.

After the onset of the air campaign against southern Lebanon, an air campaign marred by an ill conceived cease fire respite, Israel charged into Lebanon with Merkava tanks; tanks not designed with enough armor to face the anti-tank shoulder fired rockets that Hezbollah quickly demonstrated. Israel faced a new and particularly potent version of the Russian-made RPG, the RPG-29, that has been sold by Moscow to the Syrians and then transferred to the Shi’ite organization.

And Israel faced an enemy dug into caves and well defended positions that had been prepared for years.

Upon realizing that they faced better firepower amid trickier terrain and conditions than expected, Israel kept up the assault, expecting that their normally overwhelming superiority would reappear. But that superiority abandoned Israel due to faulty intelligence, overconfidence, poor military execution and a government that paused when it might have lunged after the enemy and broken his spirit.

I think Israel ended the war quickly and without achieving the complete slate of their own stated objectives because they got taken by surprise; and taken to the cleaners.

Israel got goaded into a war at a time not to their best advantage, their intelligence was not at its best, they were overconfident, they paused when they should not have, and they suffered a momentous public affairs defeat in the Arab world.

There will be another war. Israel will be taking appropriate corrective actions. Hezbollah better be prepared to reap the whirlwind.

One of the lessons Israel learned is that there is danger in over reliance upon technology.

As you read on; we likened technology in warfare to Circe. The Dread Goddess Circe is the daughter of Helios (the Sun) and Perseis, which would make her the grand-daughter of Okeanos (Ocean). Circe is a beautiful godess who waits for lost sailors to come wandering to her door as supplicants. She doesn’t help them: instead she drugs them and serves them to others in meals!

I wanted to go out of my way to thank and congratulated Ralph Peters on the essay following — and to say publicly that Ralph is, as usual, timely and insightful. Right on every point.

Ralph Peters: thanks for your marvelous essay today.
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The Myth of Immaculate Warfare

By Ralph Peters
USA Today
September 6, 2006

Under the right battlefield conditions, sophisticated military technologies give Western powers remarkable advantages. Under the wrong conditions and employed with unreasonable expectations, high-tech weapons inflict more damage on our own political leaders and national purpose than they do on the enemy.

Precision-targeting systems and other superweapons are dangerously seductive to civilian leaders looking for military wins on the cheap. Exaggerated promises about capabilities – made by contractors, lobbyists and bedazzled generals – delude presidents and prime ministers into believing that war can be swift and immaculate, with minimal friendly or even enemy casualties.

It’s a lethal myth. The siren song of techno-wars fought at standoff range makes military solutions more attractive to political leaders than would be the case were they warned about war’s costs at the outset. Inevitably, the “easy” wars don’t work out as planned. Requiring boots on the ground after all, they prove exorbitant in blood, treasure, time and moral capital.

A lesson in Israel’s name

In recent weeks, Israel lost a campaign for the first time after a government and its senior generals convinced themselves that a new form of terrorist army – Hezbollah – could be destroyed with airpower alone. The Israelis had become so confident in their technological advantage that they neglected the readiness of their ground forces.

Technology failed to accomplish the mission – as it always will in the Cain-and-Abel conflicts of our time. The army had to go in on the ground. But Israel’s army, too, relied heavily on technology. Most units lacked the range of infantry skills necessary to defeat a well-prepared enemy – as I saw for myself on the Lebanese border.

Israel had ignored the lessons of America’s recent military experiences. In the prelude to the campaign to topple Saddam Hussein, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior advisers deluded themselves that an air effort employing precision weapons – “shock and awe” – would convince the Iraqi regime to surrender. Ignoring the enemy’s psychology, the techno-war zealots failed. We were more fortunate than the Israelis were, though. The United States had a professional Army and Marine Corps capable of redeeming the mistakes of the Pentagon leadership. But in violence-torn Iraq today, we continue to pay for the prewar fantasy that technology would solve human problems.

A paradox of this era of dazzling technologies is that the conflicts we face are born of ethnic bigotry and faith gone haywire – atavistic challenges that cannot be resolved with guided bombs or satellite imagery.

Employed incisively, technologies certainly help our troops, but they aren’t a substitute for troops. And they won’t be. Yet, the false promises will continue.

We’ve been through this before. In the 1950s, large ground forces were supposed to be obsolete, superseded by missiles. Then came Vietnam, followed by a succession of brutally human conflicts, from Lebanon through Somalia to the Balkans. For the 78 days of the Kosovo campaign, NATO aircraft attempted to force Serbia – a weak, miniature state – to agree to treaty terms. In the end, it took the threat of ground troops to achieve the international community’s goals. After the firing stopped, we found that our expensive, sophisticated technologies had been fooled by cheap Serb mock-ups of military vehicles.

Why are defense contractors and partisan generals nonetheless able to convince Congress and one presidential administration after another that technology has all the answers? Because Congress and the White House want to believe machines will get them off the hook when it comes to sending our forces into battle. And there are huge practical incentives to buy big-ticket weapons systems from politically supportive defense contractors.

The defense industry silences military leaders who know better by employing them on generous terms after their retirement from service. The system is legal, but it’s morally corrupt and ethically repulsive.

Meanwhile, the impressive-in-theory capabilities of the latest weapons cloud the vision of military planners, leading them to focus on what the systems can do instead of concentrating on what needs to be done. Rather than buying the weapons we really need, we twist the conflicts we face to conform to the weapons we want to buy. The results are flawed war plans based on unrealistic expectations – in short, Iraq.

Adapting to real-world missions

None of this means that we shouldn’t pursue advanced military technologies. But they must be relevant to real-world missions. We should continue to develop unmanned aerial vehicles, which are effective, versatile and affordable, as well as a new generation of tools for urban warfare, now the dominant form of combat.

Yet we continue to buy breathtakingly expensive systems designed to fight a Soviet Union that no longer exists, such as the $360-million-each F-22 fighter. We’re buying Ferraris when we need pickups.

We have to break the habit. We must stop pretending that technology will be decisive in the flesh-and-blood conflicts our troops will continue to face.

There will be no “bloodless wars” in our lifetimes. In the words of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a brilliant Civil War soldier and wicked man, “War means fighting, and fighting means killing.” In an age of fanaticism and terror, confronted by enemies who see death as a promotion, we will not be able to find easy, sterile solutions to our security problems.

The promises made for advanced military technologies are all too seductive to political leaders with no experience in uniform. Hype kills. Until we abandon the myth of immaculate wars, our conflicts will continue to prove far more costly than the technology advocates promise.

Ralph Peters is a member of USA TODAY’s board of contributors and the author of the new book Never Quit The Fight.

We Need to Address Mental Illness in the Aging

September 1, 2006

Address Mental Illness in the Aging

By John E. Carey
September 1, 2006
The Washington Times

What are the costs of a progressive brain disease on an aging society?

Experts believe one hundred billion dollars per year goes to treating about 4.5 million American patients with Alzheimer’s now. But this overlooks the fact that many suffer the ill effects of the disease but receive no care and that our aging population is growing at a breathtaking rate.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the older population–persons 65 years or older–numbered 36.3 million in 2004 (the latest year for which data is available). They represented 12.4% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 71.5 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000. People 65+ represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but are expected to grow to be 20% of the population by 2030.

Nobody can say for sure how many people among us will have Alzheimer’s in the future but some experts say we will have 16 million or more Alzheimer’s sufferers in America by 2050. The treatment costs for these people could be somewhere between 350 and 500 billion dollars annually.

But a lot of people are never properly diagnosed or receive any treatment for Alzheimer’s. And what do we know about the untreated? I’ll give you an example. My friend Dave lives alone and has no family to care for him. He is not yet eighty. He drives. He had three automobile accidents in the last nine months. Usually we go to lunch and a prayer service once a week. I have become accustomed to the fact that, after leaving his apartment he always has to return to make sure he turned off the stove, flushed the toilet, and locked the door.

This is one of many symptoms; others are more bizarre. He trusts no one and won’t or can’t discuss his illness but I know what it is. We are seeking some help from county social services.

My own Mother died last year after a long bout with Alzheimer’s. I “chewed” her last cookie for her, moving her jaw with my own hands. So I am not an unbiased participant in the debate. But neither are Nancy Reagan and scores of others who have been personally moved by the devastation of mental disorders and diseases, especially Alzheimer’s. We consider Michael J. Fox’s outreach on Parkinson’s disease an interrelated effort to Alzheimer’s disease research. The brain is a tricky place.

Alzheimer’s is terrifying, dangerous to the victim and sometimes even people near by.

Where does federal research money for Alzheimer’s go?

On July 21, 2006, the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, ICAD for short, ended in Spain. The conference attracted the largest assembly of Alzheimer’s experts ever—just above 5,000 from 50 countries.

Many of the seminars discussed an array of new and different early detection and diagnostic efforts. Others dealt with new brain imaging and MRI methods to understand the disease’s progression.

And there are a wealth of promising treatments being evaluated in laboratories. For example, a new drug reverses learning and memory deficits in mice. The drug, called AF267B, reduces the brain-clogging buildup of protein – one of the believed causes of the symptoms many of us have seen, experienced or heard about.

Doctors and researchers are challenged to develop an effective treatment that can be implemented before symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia appear. Researchers now believe the disease starts to destroy neurons in the brain 10 to 20 years before anyone notices any Alzheimer’s symptoms. That means all you youngsters and you legislators, before you cut funding for Alzheimer’s research, need to be evaluated before you start acting loony. Or loonier.

With Alzheimer’s Disease looming as one of the costliest health problems ever, the Bush administration cut funding for the National Institutes of Health’s Alzheimer’s research from $656 million in 2005 to an estimated $652 million this year to a recommended $645 million in 2007. Congress has done nothing to reduce the downward slide.

Among those arguing for more money is Steve McConnell, vice president of advocacy and public policy at the Alzheimer’s Association. “It’s the disease of the century and could bankrupt our society if we don’t find a way to stop it,” he said. “There’s been enormous progress in disease-modifying treatments, but with the funding cut we slow the day we get an intervention.”

The issue is when and how our nation will deal with a rapidly growing aging population, and address the illnesses.

But in the near term, the Congress needs to adequately fund federal research efforts for Alzheimer’s.

John E. Carey writes frequently for The Washington Times.