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Mitch McConnell is still an asshole. I know there are lots of you waiting with bated breath for the Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus kind of thing, but you're better off waiting for something that has a better chance of happening. (Please insert amusing anecdote here regarding what you believe will be likelier to happen than McConnell's return to reality, because Republican pundits have exhausted my supply of sarcasm.)

    McConnell, of course, is the turtle-faced Foghorn Leghorn twin who famously declared that the GOP's whole agenda, reason for living, heart's desire, etc., etc., was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Thus they declared war over stupid things like raising the Debt Ceiling, which they performed without a peep----sometimes dozens of times----for Republican Presidents; Bush II got it raised 19 times, which is not surprise because I wouldn't trust him with my checkbook, much less the country's, while Reagan requested his allowance be raised 18 times---and both got it.   That millions of Americans suffered as a result of this did not trouble them at all.  (In fact, one has to start wondering if they really enjoyed it).  Before Romney even thought, much less uttered the now-infamous phrase,  "47%",  the Republicans were living it,  making it clear that not only did such people not matter to them, but that they fully expected (after 2010's hopefully temporary insanity) them to forgive and forget by 2012. Off season elections, so to speak, historically pull smaller turnouts than the already-pathetic turnout rate of big elections, and 2010's was spurred on by the sort of people who didn't see or ignored the fact that the Republicans were blocking Obama at every turn---and blaming him for it. (No wonder they thought it was okay to talk about rape so arrogantly. Blaming the victim or the dupe is their MO.)

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   The very first therapy group the VA put me featured me as the only woman, surrounded by: a cop who had beaten more than one wife, which makes me wonder how he treated women he worked with or encountered on the beat; a guy who'd lost his rank and command and career for harassing women,  yet who still urged the whole group to admire 'nice tushies', a guy with a wife and and a girlfriend, both of whom he claimed were horrible bitches (after watching him a few times I found myself joining them), plus a variety of men who hinted that the bitch was lying or she wanted it.

None of them were combat veterans,  at least not till later sessions.

 Oh, yeah, the therapist who sat there in his leather-elbowed tweed jacket and urban cowboy boots while these guys waxed racist and sexist?  

  He didn't say anything.

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Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM PST

And so one war ended

by ginmar

They struck the colors, they packed the gear, they boarded the planes. Behind them they leave the blood of four thousand, four hundred and eighty seven soldiers, countless hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, and at least three times that figure in terms of debilitating wounds, lost jobs, and lost infrastructure.  

The ceremony was subdued, as befitted something of a funeral.  

 Cenk Uygur played the tape of George Bush fumbling through a press conference after Abu Ghraib broke, one of the most important press conferences of his life. He pronounced "Ghraib" as if it had two syllables and once as if it had an 'm' in it.  It made a mockery out of something that was a deadly error, a grotesque violation,  to anybody with a brain and a conscience.  

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Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 01:20 PM PST

Predators and/or conservatives

by ginmar

   Newt Gingrich's treatment of his wives mirrors the Republican Party's treatment of women, poor people, people of color, and immigrant people in general. The GOP treats such non-people in a way that indicates they view them as both useless and disposable, with no long term value.

This way of viewing people is not limited to Republicans, though I would say it indicates a certain conservative frame of mind. A liberal is far more likely to see humanity in all human beings rather than only in those who make a certain amount per year.

The Republicans betray, by their actions, that other people simply don't matter to them once their usefulness has ended, or if they refuse to do what the Republicans expect of them.  If we want to fight this type of belief, there's a lot of things that contribute to them, and the more I myself have had to fight for care and rights, the more apparent it has become to me that it is so very very much worse for the Americans that few powerful people want listen to.  

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Sat Nov 19, 2011 at 03:55 AM PST

For valor above and beyond

by ginmar

   You train and you train,  you train some more, and the stock of the M-16 gets to be like a part of your body. Even today, years after I last fired a rifle, I remember the feel of it, the weight----and how I could tell without checking the serial number that the weapon I held was not mine. All I had to do was try and line up a target.

     There's no substitute for experience. The training takes over, and the relief you feel at knowing what to do

 It starts with the simplest of things. At Basic, my company's three drills made us stand at port arms for long periods of time, in the hot sun of South Carolina,  to build up the strength in our arms.  It was painful in the beginning. It was still the early Nineties, and while there was lip service, real strength in any form was threatening in women.  A woman who knew she could efficiently handle and strip weapons and march punishing distances carrying loads that would cause civilians to collapse was a hard woman---or girl----to rattle.

   And yet the most valuable lessons were the most subtle.  

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Fri Nov 18, 2011 at 10:57 AM PST

The VA strikes again

by ginmar

  The backstory: female combat veteran, OIF, tries to get help for nightmares and increasingly horrible panic attacks,  startle reflex, panic and fight or flight response.  Agoraphobia develops after woowoo methods of treating panic attacks don't work.  Nightmares lead to stress, migraines, gritting teeth and jaw so hard that teeth begin breaking. And so on.

   In return for these attempts to get help, I get put into a therapy group full of sex offenders, then into one for housewives----with the admonition to 'be tactful'. About combat? About war? Three serious suicide attempts, one half assed one----and that one came after I checked myself into the psych ward,  as I'd learned to recognize that not wanting to live is not quite the same as wanting to die. While I was in there, a male patient threatened me,  because the men and women aren't separated. The nurses said, "Oh, honey, what can we do? He's nuts."  Then I talked to my shrink about how the suicidal feelings weren't going away and---knowing that I was terrified of being back in that place-------she threatened me with involuntary commitment to that very place if I ever spoke of such feelings again. Requested new doctor. That was years ago. Have panic attacks around vehicles, possibly due to the fact that, in my CO's words, "We did hundreds of patrols while we were there, and she was our gunner for a lot of them."

 Following the request for a new doctor, the VA took away the transportation they'd been providing, which meant professional drivers who were used to veterans. Without transportation,  a cab ride costs about $25.00 plus tip each way. (And because a lot of the cabbies are vets I always tip----and I tip well, because tip jobs just suck.)  Because I once took a cab to the ER, my shrink started hinting that I was just malingering about the panic attacks, which keep me in my house,  because outside I get seized by sheer utter terror if I let my guard down for one minute.  On a couple of occasions in Iraq, I and other soldiers got exposed and pinned down by a sniper. I can still feel that sight on my neck.

    Denying me transportation gave the VA the excuse to cut off all my meds at once. I think this was an attempt to make me do what is nearly impossible for me to do: get in a strange vehicle, especially at night,  with a strange person, and go to the VA.  I couldn't do it. I had a seizure when my meds ran out; I also stopped being able to sleep and started having hallucinations, probably due to exhaustion.  I also started having what turned out to be migraine headaches, which I've never had.

  I could go on and ON,  but that's the background.  

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Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 01:33 PM PDT

You are not the problem

by ginmar

  It's no secret that everybody is going through some terrible stuff these days. Foreclosure, job loss, illness, pet illness---and don't kid yourself. When you're going through horrible, constant, soul-draining experiences that drain your bank account, strip you of your possessions, and leave you without shelter, that friendly little face and wagging tale or that purring little body curled up next to you can seem like the only friend you've got.

 But if you're poor in this country,  you're supposed to respond to these experiences while facing increasing demands of people who are not going through what you go through.

 You're supposed to present a cheery, optimistic face and make no mistake---it's not for your benefit.  It's to enable other people to say to themselves, "Oh, see, it's not that bad!"

Screw that.  

 

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 National Geographic has been running ads for George Bush's 'first' interview about 9/11,  during which Bush whips out all the SAT words his staff looked up for him and still comes across as having about as much depth as a puddle in the desert.

 But if you blink you'll miss some tiny little moments in the preview alone that should make you think twice about just how Bush is being sanitized for your protection.  

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Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 07:56 AM PDT

The month of morning glories

by ginmar

September in Minnesota is the month the morning glories really start to come into their own, at least in the relatively temperate regions around the Twin Cities.

  Here, the soil anywhere near the Mississippi is a primal, rich black,  so fertile that a discarded apple core is a sapling by the following summer. Blocks from the river the soil of former river bottoms and flood plains, now thrust a hundred yards onto the top of a plateau,  are an incredibly satisfying mix to get your hands into.  Whatever you plant here grows unless some little creature beats you to it.  

I don't remember exactly when I fell in love with the morning glories that come into their glory in September. I just wish I had discovered them earlier.  

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Tue Sep 06, 2011 at 08:11 AM PDT

A social experiment

by ginmar

 Years ago, I was working as a security guard at a site where I was the only woman.

  Pause for mansplainers to go, "Ruh roh! But she said she was in the Army! I caught her!" Put money on it now, punters.

   The client hired me over my immediate supervisor's preference, which became clear when I first went to the office.  

   My supervisor was the biggest Gary Stu in the fucking world.

   

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Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 04:26 AM PDT

What do I want from the VA?

by ginmar

Thanks for asking!

You are now one up on the VA. But there's more.

I'm sure some of this will resonate with other veterans as well.

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If they would just say that their mission is to screw up veterans' care,  inflict more damage than the insurgents did, and offer competent help only by accident, then nobody would be disappointed, would they?

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