Tuesday, March 25, 2008



My friend Helen and I were teenagers when we met. Not long after that we drove in to New York City to participate in the city's first mass anti-Vietnam War protest. I wound up in a jail cell with Dr. Spock, Allen Ginsberg and other organization leaders by telling the arresting officers that I was Dr. Spock's aide and they couldn't arrest him unless they arrested me too. Helen wound up in jail that day too; 264 people were arrested.

Today Helen is a school psychologist in the New York suburbs. She has two sons around the same age as she and I were when we first became lifelong friends. Like millions of parents across America, Helen worries that McCain's promises to extend the Iraq War for as many as 100 years is liable to bring on the dreaded draft-- exactly what she and I were arrested for protesting in 1967.

I hope she doesn't read a report in yesterday's CongressDaily by Otto Kreisher which strongly suggests the wind is blowing in the wrong direction-- a wind that would turn into a cyclone were Americans to lose their collective minds and elect John W. McBush president.
The armed services' struggle to attract the number of young men and women needed each year to maintain their required force levels is increasingly handicapped by a hard set of demographic facts that sharply reduces the pool of potential recruits and by emotional barriers that may block access to the best prospects. "We should not lose sight of the fact that, although the youth population is large, a relatively small proportion of American youth is qualified to enlist," David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, testified recently. "It is an unfortunate fact that many in the contemporary youth population are currently ineligible to serve."

Chu and service officials point out that only about three of every 10 Americans of military age-- generally considered 17 to 24 years old-- can meet the standards for military service. In testimony to Congress, Chu cited the grim statistics: About 35 percent are medically disqualified, with obesity a large contributing factor; 18 percent are barred due to a record of abusing drugs or alcohol; 5 percent have serious conduct/criminal problems; 6 percent have too many dependents, and 9 percent scored in the lowest aptitude category on the enlistment test. Another 10 percent are qualified but considered unavailable because they are attending college.

That leaves few than 5 million potential recruits out of the total of about 31 million Americans of age to serve in the military. From that reduced field, the services need about 300,000 recruits a year for their active, reserve and National Guard forces. The number of potential recruits is reduced by the Pentagon's requirement-- based on years of studies on what qualities indicate a high probability of being able to perform necessary tasks and completing a term of enlistment-- that 90 percent of recruits have a high school diploma, or a GED. Nationally, 70 percent of young peoples graduate from high school, with the averages as low as 50 percent in some urban areas and among minorities. Military recruiting officials note that many young people with high school diplomas cannot pass the enlistment tests.

To make the situation worse, access to that limited pool of eligible recruits often is blocked by opposition from parents, teachers or other influencers, or by a young person's inclinations. Service leaders say the percentage of military aged Americans indicating any interest in military service is the lowest on record.

In the face of these limits, the services are taking extraordinary steps to meet recruiting quotas. The Army, which must attract about 170,000 new soldiers this year for its active and reserve force, initiated programs to help young men or women get their GED or pass the aptitude tests and one that gives slightly overweight individuals a year after enlisting to meet weight standards. All of the services provide some waivers for the high school education requirement or other factors. Again, the Army has had to use this authority the most, offering three times as many this year as in 2005. Army Secretary Pete Geren said a study showed that the 17,000 soldiers brought into Army on waivers have performed better than the average enlistee.

Martin Heinrich, the Blue America-endorsed Democrat running for the open congressional seat in Albuquerque is facing Darren White, someone every bit as militaristic as McCain and Bush. Martin's campaign has been emphasizing a speedy end to the American occupation of Iraq. "If John McCain plans to spend 100 years in Iraq, I'm not surprised he thinks we need to reinstate the draft," Martin explained this afternoon. "I reject the premise. I say that if we leave Iraq now, there will be no reason to reinstate the draft. That's what I call supporting our troops."

McCain's much ballyhooed militaristic approach to "problem solving" and his aggressive agenda for military solutions to complex international problems virtually guarantees the reinstatement of a draft. On the other hand, he has a far less aggressive agenda for solving the domestic problems that are plaguing American families. His speech on the mortgage crisis was so short on substance that it made me wonder if he was even aware that there is a mortgage crisis. His promise to convene "roundtables" to chat about it is something that he and other Republican senators who voted to rubber stamp Bush's heinous economic policies should have thought about over the last 7 years. People are losing their homes now because of these policies.

McCain-- like Bush-- actually brags about his ignorance. He freely admits he knows nothing about the economy-- which might help account for one of the worst voting records in the Senate on one economic issue after another-- and he was recently quoted in the Washington Post disparaging people who want to solve economic problems instead of starting the Crusades up again:
"Even if the economy is the, quote, number one issue, the real issue will remain America's security," he said. "If it's not the most important issue in the minds of many voters, America's security will remain the number one issue with me. And if they choose to say, 'Look, I do not need this guy because he's not as good on home loan mortgages,' or whatever it is, I understand that. I will accept that verdict. I am running because of the transcendent challenge of the twenty-first century, which is radical Islamic extremism, as you know."

Sounds like Cheney and Lieberman have hypnotized him! The Center For American Progress has compiled McCain's voting record regarding consumer concerns about mortgages. His votes on this, like on almost all issues important to American families, is in sharp contrast to how he is portrayed by the corporate media, which never looks at what he does, but only at what the well-oiled hype machine tells them. A few days ago we saw how McCain aspires to be to George Bush what Herbert Hoover was to Calvin Coolidge. Like Hoover on the precipice of economic catastrophe, McCain wants to wait out the problems. Most people who married multimillionaire heiresses might feel the same way-- if they were selfish and greedy. The Real McCain:
– McCain voted against discouraging predatory lending practices. In 2005, McCain voted against an amendment prohibiting law-breaking high-cost predatory mortgage lenders from collecting funds from homeowners who are forced into bankruptcy court. [S. 256, 3/03/05]

– McCain failed to vote on bill to overhaul mortgage lending practices of FHA. In 2007, McCain failed to vote on passage of a bill that would overhaul the mortgage lending practices of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The bill would reduce the required minimum down payment for an FHA-insured loan and simplify its calculation, requiring a flat 1.5 percent of the appraised value of the home. [S. 2338, 12/14/07]

- McCain failed to sign on to the Predatory Lending Consumer Protection Act. In 2003, McCain failed to add his name to this legislation, which was intended to “protect consumers against predatory practices.” The bill, which was endorsed by a host of civil rights and housing advocates, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, ACORN, and the Consumer Federation of America. [S. 1928, 11/21/03]

– McCain failed to sign on to Truth in Lending Act. Less than four months ago, McCain failed to sign on to this bipartisan initiative providing protection to consumers taking out home mortgage loans. Among other measures, it was designed to “establish new lending standards to ensure that loans are affordable and fair.” McCain also refused to co-sponsor this legislation in the 107th Congress as well. [S. 2452, 12/12/2007]

After McCain's lame and clueless speech in Orange County today, Howard Dean was as puzzled as everyone else was:
"Just as he doesn't know the difference between Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites, John McCain today showed that he doesn't understand the economy, the mortgage crisis, or its impact on America's families and communities. Instead of offering a concrete plan to address the crisis at all levels, McCain promised to take the same hands off approach that President Bush used to lead us into this crisis. While John McCain promises a third Bush term, Democrats are offering real solutions to help the millions of American families who played by the rules and are still fighting to keep their homes."

Carly Fiorina, on the other hand, after leaving Hewlett Packard in a shambles, has signed on to the McCain economic team and thinks his approach is just swell. Of course what she knows about mortgages is considerably different from what normal Americans have to deal with.


And finds him unfit for command-- and possibly incontinent.
After we hit our mid 20's we start a slow downhill slide in neuronal function. Like other hills, the farther up the neuron slope we start, the farther we have to coast. Alcohol, head injury (even one), severe stress (including PTSD), toxins (including some forms of chemo) and ionizing radiation (like that used for some cancer radiotherapies) accelerate the trip. If we're lucky, we cross the finish line of the slide-- death-- with sufficient neuronal function to keep us and those around us happy and safe, and to be able to know that.

Sadly for him, Senator McCain has a documented history of conditions known to cause CNS injury (repeated blows to the head in boxing/ heavy alcohol use/ torture /severe stress from imprisonment) as well as possible exposure to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Loss of neuronal function affects not only self-control, but also comprehension.

Impaired CNS inhibitory function greatly diminishes comprehension of even mildly complex situations. Thinking about complex stuff requires not only sustained attention (compromised in diminished inhibitory function), but also the capacity to tolerate the frustration inherent in confronting discordant possibilities (also compromised in diminished inhibitory function).

For these reasons, McCain's repeated bizarre mangling of basic information - together with his documented history of severely impaired impulse control - suggest that McCain's neuronal function impairs his capacity to comprehend complex realities. With advanced age, cognitive dysfunction as severe as Senator McCain evinces tends to grow worse with each passing year-- as does the severity of the emotional lability which so troubles senior military officers.

Sadly for Senator John McCain, he's exhibited labile mood for decades - and advancing age tends to accelerate neuronal death, further compromise inhibitory cerebral function, and hence lead to more severe emotional dysfunction.

In the Oval Office, progressively worsening intellectual comprehension and emotional dysfunction would not merely be sad-- but catastrophic.

A planet's a terrible thing to waste - especially when we only have one.

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