Monday, November 07, 2011

Bush Administration Lies Still Haunting Lives

On November 6th, the long-running CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” featured a segment called ‘”Operation Proper Exit”. It was about a program to return soldiers to Iraq who have experienced profound psychological problems caused by their deployment(s) to Iraq. The reasoning behind this program is that many of the soldiers were medevacked out of Iraq and either in shock or under anesthesia and they never had a chance to mentally sort things out. Many Iraq vets in the throes of post-traumatic stress flashbacks are unable to let go of their anxieties. It is believed that returning to Iraq will alleviate these agonies.

One of the soldiers interviewed was Cpl Steven Cornford who went to Iraq when he was 18 in 2007. He is now 22. He wept during the whole interview and was clearly still having severe problems due to his time in Iraq. His depression and distress was caused by his witnessing the death of his friend—a death he says he should have been able to prevent. He returned to Iraq under the “Operation Proper Exit” and feels it has been helpful. He said he is not as angry, not as “snappish”, more kindly to his wife and family, and not as furious with those around him that he sees as “complainers”.

The worst part of watching this young man who is still so horrifyingly damaged by his stint in Iraq was hearing him say that he gets mad at people in the United States who complain about their lot because, he said, “They just go about their daily lives, while there's still people dyin' every day. For them.”

And this young man obviously believes that the reason the United States inserted itself in the affairs of Iraq was in order to protect Americans in the United States from the threat posed by Iraq.

Perhaps it is necessary for severely damaged veterans to believe that the reason they lost limbs, eyesight, and are not in their right mind is because they were fighting a predator that was intent on crushing the American way of life…a predator like Hitler’s Third Reich.

But this, of course, is not true.

Can these vets allow themselves to realize that they were in Iraq so that Vice President Dick Cheney could enrich himself by selling equipment of war through his Halliburton Company? Can they allow themselves to realize that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went along with the lies about weapons of mass destruction in order to once again feel the testosterone surge of being involved in the glories of WAR? Can they let themselves understand that George W. Bush and all the neocons were in Iraq in order to steal Iraq’s oil resources for the benefit of the United States and in order to gain a foothold in the Middle East? Can these vets allow themselves to know they ruined their lives for nothing more than to make little men feel powerful and to get rich?

Can these vets allow themselves to know that the war in Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with protecting Americans or protecting the United States?

Both Cheney and Rumsfeld have recently come out with books about their time in the Bush administrations. “In My Time” has been written by the insane and sick warmonger Dick Cheney with the help of his daughter Liz. And “Known and Unknown” is the product of the war-loving but ultimately bumbling, past-his-prime Donald Rumsfeld. If these two men are able to justify and even glorify the fact that they and George W. Bush killed, maimed and ruined the lives of thousands and thousands of young men and women for no good reason, then they are luckier than men like Steven Cornford, who live every day with the horrors they wrought.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Booze and Breast Cancer Risk

The New York Times article about drinking and breast cancer in the NYT “Well” Department this morning is so annoying.

But first, let me say that all cancer coverage being hyped in the news these days is annoying. Take for instance a recent Jennifer Aniston ad. She wants us to buy a T-Shirt because, she says in the beginning of the ad, the money will help find a cure for cancer. But at the end of the ad, she says “100% of the money will go to fighting cancer”.

Fighting cancer and finding a cancer cure are two different things. Fighting cancer is giving money to pharmaceuticals for their chemo drugs, giving money to huge hospitals for radiation therapy, giving money to huge hospitals to fund their testing and technology departments.

Fighting cancer is not about finding a cure for cancer…far from it. Fighting cancer is about funding all the people and hospitals and doctors who are making a living off of cancer. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with that, but it’s not the same as devoting energy and technology to finding a cancer cure. And ignoring the difference or exploiting the difference in confusing ways is unconscionable.

This morning, we read in the NYT that a new study at the Harvard Medical School has been “looking at the habits of more than 100,000 women over 30 years” which “adds to a long line of studies linking alcohol consumption of any kind” to breast cancer risk. The study has concluded that if a woman has more than three drinks a week of alcohol of any kind, she’s at risk for breast cancer.

The article has a few caveats. For instance, it says: “Like much of the previous research on alcohol’s risk and benefits, the new study was observational and lacked a control group, and it drew from self-reports, which can be unreliable. Nor was it able to determine whether changing one’s drinking habits over time – drinking a lot early on, for example, and then stopping at age 50 – made any difference.”

Another red light re the reliability of the study was: “Among the factors women will have to consider, experts say, are family history of heart disease and cancer, as well as their use of hormone therapies like estrogen. Alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer in part by raising a woman’s levels of estrogen, the authors said.”

Translation in layman’s language: THE STUDY IS FLAWED.

This study is like saying 100,000 women ate pickles three times a week for 30 years and two-thirds of the women have developed colon cancer; we think there may be a connection but we’re not sure how many of the women were being treated for colon diseases or had a family history of cancer; however, we conclude that eating any kind of pickle puts women at risk for colon cancer. 

How about if the women in the Harvard Study started drinking because their doctors put them on estrogen therapy and the side effects were causing angst and depression? How about if there is no connection between booze and breast cancer but all the women in the study drank moderately and had a family history of cancer? How about if many of the women didn’t tell the truth and there was no way of checking their veracity?

How about if researchers exercised some caution and restraint before publishing conclusions that are suspect?