Friday, October 28, 2005

Fallen Hero Number 2,000

Before I start, I would like to point out that I’ve been away from my blog lately because I have been working very hard to build up my web store business, For the past month, I’ve been importing from between 20 and 40 new products each day, as well as fixing up some of the details of the web site, and my database from which I’m building the web site. It’s been no small task. As much as marketers of “Get Rich On eBay / The Internet” schemes would like one to believe, it takes a lot of work to get something like this going.

So now, this artificial landmark of 2,000 soldiers killed in Iraq is as good a reason as any to come out of my cave and add to the rhetoric. The mainstream media is simply using the arbitrary statistic as an excuse to sensationalize the news and sell newspa… uh, advertising attached to news, er uh… news serving as a vehicle for advertising revenue. So, in effect, the MSM and their advertisers are capitalizing off of the death of one particular soldier, who happens to be in the slot enumerated by a particularly round number in our base-ten number system, while unfortunately demeaning that soldier into a uncelebrated wasteland of statistics.

I thought I might least find out the name and story of that one particular soldier. Even the New York Times couldn’t get that right. Michelle Malkin reports on a story ran by the NYT titled “2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tour Stretches On, A Grim Mark” about Marine Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr. Michelle tells about a letter received from Cpl. Starr’s uncle Timothy Lickness giving the unreported story. The letter contained an excerpt from a letter to Cpl. Starr’s girlfriend, intended to be delivered in the event of his death, which described his reasons for re-enlisting for the third time, his reasons for fighting for freedom, and for bringing freedom to the Iraqi people.

But there’s still more that’s not being told about the NYT article. Marine Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr died on May 30, 2005. Five months before the October 26 NYT article. Marine Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr was not, in fact, the 2,000th soldier to die in Iraq. In other words, the NYT cherry-picked their own set of soldiers to hold up as their poster-child against the war in Iraq. The NYT used Marine Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr’s death to sell newspapers.

I remember delivering the NYT that day. I delivered 18 of them to the liberal residents of Boulder, Colorado, home of Ward Churchill. The NYT was particularly difficult to fold that day. The paper carrier crew commented that there was a lot of reporting on the 2,000-soldier landmark. I looked inside the NYT to see what was adding all the extra bulk, expecting to find a big section on the war, perhaps listing all 2,000 names. The extra bulk was a special auto advertising section.

Back to the quest for the 2,000th soldier’s name and story. One of my first stops in my search for hero number 2,000 was Cao’s Blog. Cao (pronounced “Key”) is from a military family, and is always a good source of responsible facts and views from the military point of view. Cao wrote on 10/26/’05 that Staff Sergeant George Alexander, Jr. was the 2,000th soldier killed in Iraq. A link on the Michelle Malkin article led me to a Fallen Heroes Memorial web site. A search on that site led to Staff Sergeant Alexander’s story. Here’s what Fallen Heroes had to say:
Army Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander, Jr.
34, of Clanton, Alabama.Alexander died at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, of injuries sustained in Samarra, Iraq, on October 17, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia. Died on October 22, 2005.

To put the sacrifice in perspective Cao offers some additional historical war statistics.

2,403: Americans killed at Pearl Harbor
2,976: Americans lost on 9/11
9,386: American soldiers killed taking Normandy
12,500: American soldiers killed taking Okinawa in WW2
24,000: American soldiers on both sides killed at the battle of Antietam during the Civil War
54,246: American troops killed in Korea
58,198: American soldiers killed in Vietnam
116,516: American soldiers killed in World War 1
133,811: Confederate troops killed in the Civil War
295,000: American soldiers killed in World War 2
364,511: Union Soldiers killed during the Civil War

Not to mention the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War 2.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Should I Be A Terrorist?

I haven’t been blogging much lately.  I’ve actually been working on putting more products out on my web store,  After all, the Christmas season starts in October; as a retail web store owner, I need to be ready.  And I’ve been making some good progress – when I’m not blogging, or sleeping.  But I like to stay in touch with the blogosphere.  I’ve added a blogroll of my favorite blogs on the sidebar.

This is absolutely freaky.  I was reflecting just this morning how the same thinking that blames the US government for all of the world’s problems, that has brought us radicals such as Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore has also brought us terrorists, both domestic and foreign: the Unabomber, Eric Rudolph (Olympic Park and abortion clinic bomber), Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City), and Osama bin Laden and the whole al Quaeda network with all of their Islamofascist thugs.  Then I found that neo-neocon has written about this with more lucidity and in-depth analysis than I could hope for.  Excellent work.

But what’s really disturbing is that the passage from the crime library article that profiles the mass murderer’s mind describes much of what I’ve experienced in my life, with the fortunate exception (so far) that I’ve been able to control any homicidal urges, and that I recognize and address my anger issues.  

Mass Murderers are typically quite ordinary. They're reclusive, have few if any friends, and have no criminal record. However, they do not let go of past grievances and they tend to build and fester, with minor incidents being perceived as major offenses, and impersonal ones as personal. Some stress, such as a broken relationship, a loss, or unemployment, may be the trigger that sets everything in motion.

As most people go, anyone is quite ordinary.  At least, to the casual observer.  One doesn’t know what horrors are hidden within.  I’ve had few friends, beginning with when my family moved when I was in the 6th grade.  Teenagers just don’t accept new kids.  And being a shy kid, I lacked the social skills necessary to make new friends.  And I’ve always tried to do the right thing.  Except for minor traffic violations, I have no criminal record.  Is it a crime not to be a criminal?  

But the innate shyness, as I discovered in doing some Theta Healing work, is a result of a past life vow of silence.  Sorry, but you’ll need to have some understanding of, if not belief in, metaphysical ideas such as reincarnation. The reason that I say that it’s a past life vow of silence, is because I’ve been quiet from birth.  At age three, my mother took me to a doctor to see why I wasn’t talking yet.  As a young child, I rarely spoke to relatives at family events.  According to the Theta Healing practitioner/instructor, a vow of silence prevents one from speaking up when they are abused.  The anger and frustration is continuously repressed, eventually expressed years, or lifetimes later, as a seething volcano of anger and bitterness that waits for the right stressor to cause an eruption of immense magnitude.  Maybe you’ve seen the look in someone’s eyes:  a distracted distant gaze, tense upper lip, a clenched fist.  Then the trance is broken with a cheerful “Oh, I’m sorry!  Hi, how’re you?”

I’ve also experienced the other stressors mentioned in the crime library article.  I’ve been laid off from around ten jobs.  I lost my last job four months before 9/11.  As neo-neocon says, “I was mugged by reality” of my situation, and the effect of 9/11 on my situation.  My engineering career is now washed up.  My first and only girlfriend ended our relationship.  My former best friend became a putz when he moved into my basement without paying rent until I demanded it, and then sat at his computer, addicted to computer games, oblivious to the fact that my cat was dying in my arms a few feet away.  Yeah, okay, so uh, break the trance now…

The passage from the crime library article that profiles mass murders departs from my experience with its description of the response to the stressors.

They blame others for their failures and their motive is generally to strike back, to punish, and to exact as much damage as they can manage. The higher the death toll, the better they have succeeded. People who have been dismissing or ignoring them are not going to forget them now. Their choice of targets is typically irrational, and often does not even include the one against whom they wanted vengeance. Some...have shown signs of psychosis, but most have been judged sane at the time of the incident.

There are some who I could hold accountable for lies, bad choices, or other injuries.  There are also other factors that I assume responsibility for.  My washed up engineering career is a result of not continually pursuing technical education.  It’s a result of not cultivating professional relationships.  But I have never acted on any murderous thoughts.  And because of childhood experiences, I do not target random innocent victims out of frustration.

But what isn’t addressed in what I read of the article is if and how a person deals with these experiences.  A person inclined to turn to mass murder will not recognize that there is something wrong.  They may believe that they are entirely justified, or even doing society a favor by their acts.  However, I acknowledge that I have anger issues.  I’ve had some therapy, and done other healing work.  One of the suggestions the Theta Healing practitioner had was to make a list of people I’ve been hurt by, and do some specific release work for each one.  My initial list had 32 names on it.  I should add al Quaeda to that list.  I continue the healing work whenever I get a chance.

Returning to the original theme of neo-neocon’s article – comparing terrorists to mass murders – I’d like to see a more in-depth study of the roots of terrorist thinking.  The Islamofascists have clerics that recruit disenfranchised youth into terrorist cells, and eventually suicide bombers.  It’s not in vogue with the conservatives to offer therapy to the terrorists.  

I would submit that it would be useful to psychoanalyze terrorists and their extremist cleric mentors.  Just some of them.  I don’t have in mind rounding up all Arabs and herding them into shrinks’ offices, but something more like the development of some sort of mass de-programming technique.  Put something in the water, or something.  (  Okay, that’s just wishful thinking.  Then we’d be accused of imperialism, global social engineering, or something worse.  It’d be like in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  Oh well.