"Independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman just stepped out of his time capsule and penned an op-ed on his nostalgic trip to 2003:
I've just spent 10 days traveling in the Middle East and speaking to leaders there, all of which has made one thing clearer to me than ever: While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.
Apparently, Lieberman never got the memo that said Iraq no longer has anything to do with 9/11 or the war on terror or exporting democracy or making Iran quake in its boots. No matter. Lieberman goes on to say that the crisis there is the result of a "conscious strategy by al-Qaeda and Iran" to throw the country into "full-scale civil war." Never mind the whole al-Qaeda=Sunni, Iran=Shiite thing; apparently opposing extremists agree on the shared goal of total chaos. The only answer, of course, is to send in more troops. Which brings us back to 2003, back when more U.S. boots on the ground could have secured Baghdad and the rest of the country, possibly averting the mess we're in 3 years later. Lieberman seems to get this. He writes, "In nearly four years of war, there have never been sufficient troops dispatched to accomplish our vital mission." However, that just means that now is the time for a big do-over: "The troop surge should be militarily meaningful in size, with a clearly defined mission." Clearly defined mission? You mean like linking Iraq to 9/11? Fire up the Wayback Machine...
Up to 30 percent of Iraq vets suffer from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Pentagon. And those numbers go up with repeat deployments. So whatever may happen in the months ahead, we can expect a surge of soldiers with serious mental health needs. In the meantime, the Pentagon is gearing up for dealing with them with a series of Flash movies for VA employees based on the first documented case of Iraq-related psych issues. The patient is Gilgamesh, who, as you'll recall, was the king of Urukthe ancient land that would become modern-day Iraq. In the new version, Gilgamesh goes off to war, watches his buddy die, and comes home with an epic case of PTSD. It's a cheeky, cheesy take, but hopefully it means the Pentagon is starting to take the issue more seriously. It has a ways to go: It was reported earlier this year that 80 percent of vets with PTSD symptoms didn't get a follow-up. And some GIs who were diagnosed with the disorder were unceremoniously booted from the service.
A couple of weeks ago, the National Science Teachers Association refused a donation of copies of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, lest its factually challenged donors, such as Exxon, were offended. Now, Participant Productions, the film's distributor, is giving away 50,000 copies to teachers who sign up here. And, via BoingBoing, we learn that the guys who run the less-than-educational website, HotOrNot have pitched in $25K to help get the effort off the ground. And if you want to oggle and do good, there's always Al Gore's Hot or Not page.
A few weeks ago, I noted that global-warming denier and airport-gift shop supplier Michael Crichton had dissed Mother Jones in his latest tome. Now it looks like we got off easy. The New Republic's Michael Crowley, who had written a harsh assessment of State of Fear, has been immortalized as a poorly-endowed child rapist in Crichton's Next. Writes Crowley: "And, perhaps worse, [he] falsely branded me a pharmaceutical-industry profiteer." [Full article behind NRO sub wall.]
Over on CNN's site, punk preacher (and son of Jim and Tammy Faye) Jay Bakker offers a quick smack-down of the Religioius Right and others who mix religion and politcs:
What the hell happened? Where did we go wrong? How was Christianity co-opted by a political party? Why are Christians supporting laws that force others to live by their standards? The answers to these questions are integral to the survival of Christianity.
While the current state of Christianity might seem normal and business-as-usual to some, most see through the judgment and hypocrisy that has permeated the church for so long. People witness this and say to themselves, "Why would I want to be a part of that?" They are turned off by Christians and eventually, to Christianity altogether. We can't even count the number of times someone has given us a weird stare or completely brushed us off when they discover we work for a church.
When I spoke with Bakker a few days ago, he said he doesn't like either party laying claim to the moral high ground. As the bumper sticker on his car reads, "God is not a Republican... Or a Democrat." Perhaps God is a registered independent.