Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thanks for the link ...

from Iraq Now. The most clinically useful biological finding in PTSD is that, in contrast to Major Depression, (the 'stress hormone') cortisol levels are low. Aerni at al. in the American Journal of Psychiatry summer 2004 discuss how low cortisol lends to consolidation of traumatic memories and that 10 mg a day of Cortef for a month may be helpful in halting this. Sometimes, especial early in the course of disease if it is to have a quick effect, lithium has been dramatic in its effect. Lithium use is not in current algorithms though, was first reported on by Bessel van der Kolk in 1983. For diagnosis, using the CAPS, the "clinician ..PTSD scale," in an appropriate way drops you past the patients irritabiity defenses, an aspect of PTSD = personality disorder diagnostically. PTSD is like panic in that if there is suspicion and you deny it you may be more likely to have it.

I like reductio ad absurdum arguments. In such an argument you take a hypothesis and draw it's logically consequences to something absurd, or known to be false, thus disproving the original hypothesis. Something of an example can be made here of the argument that PTSD is a false construct. You may see below in my description of the uses of trauma By general Giap in his war strategy against the US that a soldier involved in hand to hand combat, eventually surviving by stabbing the north Vietnamese in the belly while holding the man's rifle, getting blood all over his hands in the man's death. 20 years later, the sargeant spends years trying to wash the blood off his hands by rubbing them as in Shakespeare's Macbeth. I submit that it is logical that in the pregunpowder days, war would have much more often involved combat with hand held piercing instruments and late intrusive memories of the combat would have involved such incidents. By incorporating such a psychic struggle, memory in a scene in Macbeth, Shakespeare shows that he knew of such in the human condition. He also associated it with a sense of guilt, one potential diagnostic criteria in the PTSD diagnosis. Allow me to say that it is absurd to think that Shakespeare included such a report based on the litigiousness and pseudoscience of American law or payments by VA.
A cautionary note too about 'Stolen Valor.' One of my patients spent a tour as a liaison office for the Air Force but with the Army in Laos. We didn't have a big contingent there. By treaty negotiated by Harriman for JFK, that the north said later convinced them we weren't serious about South VN, neither we nor the north were in Laos, not that that affected there presence there a whit. People next to him in small planes were shot on take-off. When he came back to (?) Arizona to get his next assignment, the clerk there started off by saying, "Well I see you haven't had a foreign assignment in a while..." I haven't read it though.
Something I have read that I note more than others is that the professor disputing the relevance or incidence of PTSD if from the University of South Carolina Medical School. It has a history of nihilism with regards to PTSD. I quoted a paper from there in my publication in Military Medicine in 1991, p 100-101.
I thought there nihilistic view of our medication strategies in PTSD was appropriate. Recently this institution had several articles published in the British Journal of Psychiatry supporting the quote in Dr. Helen. The editor of the journal opined that PTSD was maybe not a real diagnosis like schizophrenia or Major Depression. Part of the discussion was about having the diagnosis and not having been in the war theater. I sent in a case report supporting this possibility. This was turned down as I am sure they turn down a lot of prospective articles. Lisa Oliver, delightful lady and English name, who deals with these things conveyed to me 'that the readership wouldn't have sufficient interest.' The politics of PTSD does not just involve it's advocates.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Note to a Reader

I tend of late to follow developments in blogs in the links left and may comment there. I'd be interested in any reaction you have to those blogs and may see your comments there or let me know in comments here. I'm mulling over a new blog on America's war guilt, something I began to develop in the post immediately below. This would be based on Robert Fliess's book and has been outlined in an earlier post on 'Cindy Sheehan.' In WWII, by personal account reported to me, we fired on, and sank, drifting Japanese evacuees of warships marked with the Red Cross in the Coral Sea. Yes we also shot down our own fighter aircraft when, in clear celebration of recent victory but against regulations, it dropped down to below deck level in flight parallel to one of our ships. A different age and time, a different psychological mind set.

Robert McNamara, defense sec'y for Kennedy and up until late Johnson, served 20 years earlier on Curtis LeMay's staff and did bomb damage assessment work on the bombing of Japanese cites. We were in a different situation in VN, and I think to Mr. McNamara's credit and ours we acted differently. McNamara also acted from a sense of regret over our actions against the Japanese of which he had been a part. In terms of limiting our air targets in North VN, the possibility of restraint went to far, allowing escape for important supply depot transshipment points, I haven't researched if on McNamara's watch, and body count was a metric with ethically dangerous implications. But underlying, our honorable conduct in a tradition of ancient Greece exposed your soldiers, Marines, naval patrol boat personnel, SEALs, aviators to death, casualty, and PTSD. Dulles and Eisenhower may have comitted us and there should have been a 58 election pursuant to the Geneva accords, I see this as a hinge point in our foreign policy, to see if this was truly fated but clearly a democratic VN could have eventually returned the emperor to power or turned to Ho Chi Minh. We were not in a war for national survival and did not act like it. That does not mean we can not be. It is ironic that from VN we have an ignoble feeling for military action while the Pacific War left us care free.

Monday, December 05, 2005

May America not fall victim in Iraq to General Giap's trauma inflicted in VN

Instapundit has looked at the phenomenon of lagging support for Bush and the Iraq War. A part of the answer I think is found in the following. The ancient Chinese warrior Sun Tzu taught his men to "know your enemy" before going into battle. For if "you know your enemy and know yourself," he wrote, "you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." But, Sun Tzu warned, "If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat" (quoting Sun Tzu after I am reminded of the centrality of his doctrine by Thuan Q. Vu, M.D. of Bedford, Texas, the quote from Oliver North).

General Giap, the commander in chief of North Vietnamese communist, military forces from the forties through 1973 when his assault on South VN was repulsed, used this lesson it seemed to me from my vantage point as a VA psychiatrist. During the Tet offensive part of the quadrangle of a trench line was overrun and one of the sergeants that I treated faced a large man running at him with a rifle in the trench at port arms, that is carried at a 45 degree angle. He recalled how to fight such an opponent from an exercise in basic training, grappled with him, holding the man's rifle, and attempted to stab him in the belly with his knife. The opposing soldier had a wide web belt and this was difficult. A struggle literally to the death ensued and the sergeant stabbed him in the belly and threw him out of the trench bleeding to death. The next morning, the battle over, our sergeant went to see his opponent, found a picture in his front shirt pocket of a woman and 2 children. He threw the man's rifle as far as he could in expressing his tension as in the beginning of 2001, A Space Odyssey. Years later he would spend days rubbing his hands, rubbing the blood off that he perceived there. Another soldier found himself having investigative talent in VN. After the Tet offensive, when 2 ton trucks carried our casualties out of Hue as Mariness marched in to retake it, though he guarded city gates, he was in a quiet place. Somewhat later during the rainy season he wondered why the ground near him was bubbling during the rain. A mass grave was discovered. The communists executed thousands of civilians they apparently had a list for when they overran the city and buried them in mass graves. He also found out that the communists put pictures of a woman and children in front pockets of North Vietnamese soldiers, particularly those raised in their orphanages who would be most fanatically loyal to the regime. If they were killed in battle, well you already know the story. At Tet, General Giap sadistically to his own forces threw them in all their fury against a foe in another weight class militarily, nearly annihilating his forces in the South but showing to America the potential of hatred. He did not leave all to this battle though in adapting himself to the dictum of Sun Tzu.

A soldier in illustrating to me that the Vietnamese did not control sadism by internal guilt in contrast to a Western position offered this example. The Vietnamese would beat a dog to tenderize the meat before killing the dog to eat it. Nor in VN was there a protected period for childhood. General Giap appeared to use these differences to affect Americans. A soldier was in his first day in country and walking in a city. Something in the distress of a mother and child on a bridge led him to hustle over to her. Another US soldier, happening there, ran to her first and threw the baby off the bridge. The baby exploded just before it hit the water. In another example a young boy was running toward a patrol boat. A sailor saw a bulge in his shirt and fired; the boy exploded being wrapped in explosives. The sailor, partially African American, perhaps better able than most of us to pick up the syncopated overtone in a presentation, said, "I'd like to talk to the commanders about the way they treated their children." For many Americans, it was not so easy to resolve the double bind of wanting to be tender to children and being affronted with their death and the implication of some responsibility. Such incidents I heard again and again. The way the communists induced guilt and psychological isolation in Americans was taken to an art form, and I am afraid you would tire of the gallery but interestingly and in seeming contradiction in such a hardened enemy, such seemed a priority military objective . Americans did commit, occasionally, war crimes and/or the appearance of them in defending themselves against their feelings of guilt or in the liberty of sadism both taught in the school above or in frightened isolation. This was just the icing on a devil's food cake prepared mostly by the North Vietnamese communists and as America ate it, particularly the public, it became nauseated. Even though President Johnson's choice for Commander in Chief VN, Creighton Abrahms, led his forces in new directions with the South Vietnamese toward true liberty, Pavlov's American dog wanted none of it, just wanted, desperately, out of the bakery. Wanted nothing of the military. And thus we come to Iraq. In a detail left out of the riveting Street Without Joy, some at least of those French forces who fell shortly before Dien Bien Phu in the magnificent Ashau Valley and surrounding mountains, were not recovered by the French and were buried by their Vietnamese foes standing up in the ground on the mountain pass where they fell, facing France with a bright domed stone on the ground above their heads. Similalry, the ABC program This Week buries our dead facing toward America. May they rest in honor and in peace.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Double Bind, Liberal Chicks, and Holden Caulfield

The Liberal Chicks inspire me to recollect issues of the 'double bind.' This is noted in a medical students first textbook in psychiatry, The Person. 'The child's trust in verbal communication depends on whether the words of the person who are essential to him help solve problems or confuse... Difficulty can arise when parents' words contradict their nonverbal signals, as, for example, when the mother's words of affection are accompanied by irritable and hostile handling... The value of words is also negated when erroneous solutions are habitually imposed, as when the child who cries because he wants attention is told he is hungry and is fed... Persistent denial of the correctness of the child's perceptions and understanding of what transpires about him or her can have a particularly malignant influence in promoting distrust of language and fostering distortions of meanings. The child is repeatedly placed in a "bind" because the obvious is negated, and he is threatened with loss of approval or love if he does not see things the way his parents need to have him or her see them. A mother keeps telling a little boy that he must love his Father as she does, that Father is very good to them; but Father comes home drunk, beats his wife and gives his son a whack.'

The vignettes of The Liberal Chicks are dissections in serious and humorous veins of what is presented as a true identity complicated by subsequent actions which 'bind' the observer who is left to seem to be expected to respond to the original (true) identity but faced now with really a different one.

Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye found himself overwhelmed in a similar situation. Psychoanalytically, he was unable to accept the flags of convenience that people flew under. He took an aspect of their 'good' presentation as a given identity and was overwhelmed when he 'bound' to that and was sheared, as it were, by finding in them a different reality. Thus, hypothetically, he was overwhelmed by the struggle over childhood double binds being too much the template for present relationships. In his first experiences, he had to find himself a person, in Lidz' phrase, but was, in those experiences, not finding himself an entity, having thus too strongly to have to recapitulate the attempt as a young adult. He solved this in reverie, in part, imagining a role as the catcher in the rye, saving lost children and turning his passive wish into an active role.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Laws of War and White Phosphorous in Fallujah

The Economist reports that white phosphorus was used as a weapon of war during last years struggle for Fallujah. Let us stipulate that it is true. Is this a war crime? The The laws of War are that if one side breaks a law, the other side may break it similarly in a demonstration that there is a penalty for breaking the law. The British endured, for a while the bombing of Coventry in part to conceal their possession of German code. The bombing of Dresden was to demonstrate to the German people that there would be a penalty for breaking laws against bombing civilian targets. We all know that, in a subterfuge, former US soldiers acting on a humanitarian mission were drawn into the center of Fallujah and hacked and burned to death, with body parts strung on a bridge. This was to the delight of the multitude including children. The author of the above book on the laws of War was a US prosecutor at Nuremberg, and it would be on his moral authority that white phosphorous could be used in Fallujah on one occasion.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Alito's Social Systems Perspective

LiberalChicks has a number of intersting vignettes that involve the effects of a relationship on bringing out the underlying characer of a person and how deviation from the expected and not just what is done or said is important. In the case, considered by the judge, of 'the search warrant,' as my link below comments, the 'problem' of filling out the search warrant form is, frankly, an evolving object relationship, and you have to think about how, in this case the police, doing this might change 'expected behavior.' Alito's first publication, "The Released Time Cases Revisited: A Study of Group Decisionmaking by the Supreme Court," 83, no. 6 Yale L. J. (1974): 1202-36 (pdf), got into this issue. For me it is fascinating that someone, as a judge, who would seem to me to be so removed from social systems in his work, is actually so insightful and interested in them as a part of his decison making.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

See Jane Read

She found a stunner on the Supreme Court, yes it involved abortion, today. I particularly like the uses of metaphor.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Oh yeah, Paris

Made my probably one trip to Paris some 14 years ago and will always remember the perfect attitude of a young French lady on staff at our hotel. Warm, mannered, taking an interest. In other encounters as well it seemed Parisian women have a confidence, acceptance of themselves as in the best men or women anywhere. A new Joan of Arc will take the Muslim men to school at some point in my opinion. The commentary on 'Paris Burning' has brought forth Austin Bay's finding of the history of how this cutural icon was saved from destruction in WWII, in part by the military valor of the French.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Aye Alito

My thoughts on Alito are here at the end of the comments on an analysis by Patterico of a case Judge Alito reviewed as a member of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I and Thou and the Civil War

Storm Over Texas is based on the hypothesis that 'passions unleashed during the political process of bringing Texas into the Union released forces that eventually led to the Civil War.' Inter alia, it is also the early history of the Democratic and proto-Republican parties. But it is more fascinating than that. From the ascension of the Democrat Pierce to the presidency and his passive-aggressive betrayal of his supporter, Van Buren's, suggestion for Secretary of State to the refusal to work with Stephen Douglas, it is a story of the narcissism of southern Democrats, a refusal to appropriately respect and value Democrats outside the region. It is tempting to see this as associated with a corrupting effect on I-Thou relations of slavery though certainly not all slaveholders, for example Robert Waller of Mississippi, who is often in the story, showed this. If anyone knows where I can find more on the story of Thomas Jefferson seeing a 'fireball in the night' over the Missouri situation I would be interested. 'Dance with the one who brung you,' was Sam Houston's now hackneyed way of attempting to get this ethical problem addressed.

Monday, October 17, 2005


I have been hearing Gabriel Faure's Pavane all my life I realized tonight. I remember hearing it as a child on the university of Illinois station in Chicago. Such a pretty song; the Dallas Symphony program on WRR just played it. That and 'Spanish Dances.' You sometimes think that if they aren't one of the classical fossils they never make it on these programs but not so. Also Mr. Haas, such a lovely show I was confused I heard he had died but it continued, did die at 82 earlier this year I just went to his website for details on the Schubert, just had a selection of syncopation from Schubert, Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished), Philips 64516, that was really nice. Why do they write such things? Because, as Mr. Morris said of 'Clinton,' they can? Such a statement reminds you of the French revolution as described in Leftism below in a sobering way. I also happened by the gas station that WBAP did a program on pre-
Rita where they said people were gas hoarding. There were a lot of people there when I went to St. Paul, nobody but the panhandlers when I cam back, out of gas but not of free Monday coffee, that chocolate with spiced a little pumpkin is great, after a Cowboy victory. The reason., 265 gas; it's 287 out where I live. Of course that is the same differential it was pre-Rita when there was plenty of higher price gas. Didn't have any polemic value today; the TV had pictures of folks at the pump but the price was out of focus. To paraphrase an old saying, the brave man dies only once; the coward watches TV. Thank you Karl for your conveying music to us, and thank you for having your last name the same as my middle name. You were fortunate I think to have your Jewishness, and thank you to America for accepting you and it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Harriet Miers Revealed as a Secret?

"What do people say behind your back?" she was asked in a profile for the Dallas Morning News. 'They don't know what I'm thinking,' she said. I listened in on Dallas City Council meetings when Harriet was there. This was kind of like listening in on an Elizabethan bear baiting where the council person was the bear demuscled to human size and penalized for snarling and the 'oppressed but newly unleashed' were dong the baiting. Harriet played this masochistic game well, always the Southern lady seeming to accept, publicly and with grace, that she couldn't get the right answer just like the Elizabethan bear couldn't lay a hand on its attacker though likely the bear had more of a chance. I understand she gave way, after defense, to the bear baiters' force.

She had brothers, Robert Lee M. and Jeb Stuart M. How odd is that if these were not, and how could both be, family names? Harriet was blessed by the fact that there were no generals of the fair sex in the CSA. Her brothers probably felt, asked to think or form personalities, that that was really unnecessary, they just needed batteries to carry forward their assigned identities (see "Under My Thumb"). Harriet learned never to reveal anything like a need for a name or a real thought because that could be a means for someone to intrude on you, take you over. If she nevertheless identifies with, the now historical, Robert Lee, she identifies with defeat. Lee was always better in the defense than on offense, cf. Lee Considered. Her record on the court is likely to be analogous to that of her City Council performance, magnificent defeat from a conservative point of view. Until Yogi Berra comes forward and says that he dated her and "..." that is my estimate.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Antidepressant orders decrease 20 percent

This headline appears over a small article in the Dallas Morning News, bottom of page A13 today. This means there probably have been more suicides than there would have been without the intervention of Joe Barton (R-Ennis). A couple of years ago the Archives of General Psychiatry published an article looking at prescription of antidepressants in adolescents. Increasing prescription was correlated with a drop in completed suicides in the geographical areas surveyed from 1991 - 2001. Meanwhile, U.S. MEDICINE reported that an FDA official, a physician, testified as a an expert witness in malpractice litigation involving Zoloft and his office at the FDA was stripped of its $400,00 budget by Joe Barton, head of the Commerce Committee, who controls the budget there, and who recently subpoenaed e-mails at the FDA. Congressman Barton, subsequent to his stripping of the official's budget, 'Wanted answers as to the dangers of antidepressants.' 'Yes, Sir,' FDA officials said, and he got answers. The 'answers' Mr. Barton wanted were not hid in the back of the teacher's book. Dr. RH Weisler reports reviewing data that pollution releases from chemical plants have been correlated with an increase in incidents of child abuse and of other psychopathologies. It would be interesting to see if this research might apply to the Texas Industries plants burning tires in Mr. Barton's district, contributing so much to Dallas pollution.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

War, Individuality and the State

Jane Galt, see sidebar, requested recommendations for books to read. One of the two that struck me was Leftism by a Central European author Kuenhelt-Leddihn who recalls the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This reminded me of hearing that Freud had a nephew in the Army in WWI and supported this side. Dreadnought is supposed to be the best book on the origin of WWI. I started it; it was easy to read, a good read, but I succumbed to the 'one more book where am I going' syndrome, hadn't heard this comment about it then. It has been suggested that countries fail for a blind spot for 'too much of a good thing,' e.g. Britain for Empire, Prussia for militarism. Though the German Kaiser who seems to have passively instigated the war by positioning his Army for war and then telling his generals, 'Nah, forget about it,' to which they said, "But our (maneuver) plans are revealed, we must go forward!"; and who should have followed up with "Plans, Schmans. Go back to your bases," the ultimate (ok, innuendo) cause could be seen as Britain's drawing a diplomatic ring around Germany. The Kaiser had read a book by the American Mahan, Sea Power, that was read in the sixties by every first year NROTC cadet and had to have it. Well that bothered the h.. out of the English. As my almost father-in-law Pinkie said, they could see in Liverpool that Germany was outselling them in (I forget; maybe it had something to do with the azo dye the Germans had come up with or their shipping rates). He was from Bremen. This was like the US and Mexican mammas or whoever, at the moment, is scaring the bejeebers out of us. This is also why you see battleship tonnage of the opposing sides as if this produced the war. It produced disarmament conferences afterwards. Queen Victoria's beloved dead husband had been German, which one might think would have bound the countries but seems instead perhaps to have inspired (a phobic?) fear in the English. This is where I expect to come from in reading Kuenhelt-Leddihn in part. The other notable book is The Origins of War which shows evidence that war didn't develop until the bow and arrow suggested advantage for aggressive combat formations.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

'Purified pleasure ego' is a concept in psychoanalysis. An ego functioning in that state would find any discomfort not related at all to its own actions but due to faults in others. In political and personal terms, one might think this is just 'expressing your feelings,' however behavior which might be seen as related to this is associated with a poor political outcome, cf. The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith. Nevertheless, in administration, it is desirable to find the solvable overlooked issues for people with this ego function or represented by them.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Pictures of parked New Orleans buses and info on 'looting' pictures

The pictures and links of Law Professor Reynolds, at, show one of the grand things about a good lawyer. Assemble the facts, and res ipse loquitur (Latin for the facts speak for themselves). The ambivalent emotions and uncertainty aroused by, say, Clarence Page's column in the Dallas Morning News today are largely resolved.

Bryan, Please!

Went to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presentation of Eastern European composers. Worthwhile and depressing. Worthwhile in the Dances of Galanta by Kodaly and the echo of the gypsy orchestra, the dance of the clarinet, which may have somewhat the same use and quality as in New Orleans jazz; also the transformation of the Dies Irae by Liszt into the Totentanz was moving. It would be interesting to hear the 'real' Dies Irae first and then Liszt's version. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, the conductor, turned around and said so nicely to the audience, "That's OK," when it had, in part, clapped for the Slavonic dances when he had finished the first of 4.

I wondered why the 2 pretty ladies an empty chair away from me left before the encore. Then on leaving the upper gallery, was waiting on people coming down from above, looking at some old ladies, pretty women, and fat men, thinking I would proceed onward when they let me, amused that for all the people, and I wouldn't have been 4 minutes for all of them, nobody took a break for me waiting to let me in, secretly proving a point I have. Then, a voice from behind, "Are you just going to wait for all these people to leave?" Me ironically, "Well they are falling down (at least potentially, and I didn't want that to happen)." No comment from the balding man, who pressed quickly on down the stairs as we got to them. People in Dallas and Fort Worth really are not friendly. Business and family (period). This was echoed, of course, in driving home as The Lexus vied with the Mercedes to see who could drive most daringly; it was actually the pickup truck and his follower weaving in an out of traffic, even on to the margin of the road as they scurried up North Loop 12. "Forgive us our trespasses as those who trespass against us" is a good prayer here.

The exception to this is Highland Park. I can picture, from maybe 15 years ago, walking near Armstrong street and, a somewhat older man, saying, "Hello." It would be an interesting history of culture to know how this came about. I remember an analyst talking about seeing the burden of social prominence in someone from Highland Park, about his age, that he was accompanying, as an aid at the local state hospital, to shock treatment. But whether it was Taylor Hunt's father talking about his ability to take flights with all the advantage miles he had accumulated going back and forth to Bunker's bankruptcy trial in New York; or Taylor being put down by a teacher in class and gallantly, verbally eviscerating him in riposte, it sure made it more fun to go outside there than anyplace else in DFW.

Bryan. Bryan Williams, MD, G-d spare me the verb, was Dean of Students at Southwestern Medical School. We had a graduation party at his house on Beverly in Highland Park in '73. With Picasso's covering the walls, the music, my dad's smile, a fruition, it was a moment to draw assurance from without thinking about it in thin times ahead. The last time I saw Bryan, he was walking on the piazza of the school in the summer. There were only a few people about. "How can anyone live here? It is so hot," he called out with some bonhommie. He came to our 25th reunion. I didn't. My anxious scheduling to make a living paved over my possibly scheduling to go before I could get to it. After the party, he went home and, according to the school paper, "died a natural death."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dealing with unnecessary casualties in Iraq

We have a lot of F15s not being used right now. We could establish an exclusion zone for 10 miles inside Iraq on the Syrian and Iranian borders. Anything coming in, or potentially there, other than if we should establish convoys, would be subject to interdiction, i.e. strafing and bombing, by the F15s. Current residents could be offered relocation or we could rent the land. We are provoked, challenged by Hezbollah, meaning Iran, which gave them 'shaped charges', blowing up the AAV on which were our best Marines, the snipers. We are being blamed as occupiers. As an Irish friend says, 'If your going to blamed for stealing a lamb, you might as well take the sheep.' This would be a response appropriate to the provocation and would not be then appropriate, say, for the Mexican border. Cindy Sheehan should be asking for this, not adopting an attitude which is a subject for psychoanalysis where Symbol, Dream, and Psychosis. (His Psychoanalytic series, v. 3), by Robert Fliess, p. 139, might be helpful.

This is related to what I learned from veterans. You can in war, as in development, erogenize your guilt and see destruction of yourself or your proper aim as appropriate or you can look into yourself, perhaps with the help of others, and find your proper aim and find a way to retain intiative in your mission. In part this is why the first part of our soldier's creed is 'Duty, Honor.' Accepting these aims helps avoid erogenizing guilt with its destructive consequences and, at the same time, accepts the control of conscience.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A New Enemy?

ABC's 'This Week' brought us the information that the bombs that blew the Marines off the Amphibious Assault Vehicle were 'shaped charges' which would have been introduced into the theater by Hezbollah from Iran. We are honored at being attacked by the enemies of the Jews and saddened by our losses. Perhaps we shall join Hezbollah in idolatry of blood should we find a moment as Lawrence of Arabia of gentle memory is shown to have done in the movie. Better that they had followed the caliph of Baghdad in 813 CE, Al-Mamum, who sought to preserve the knowledge of other cultures, perhaps saving what we consider our ancient Greek texts, cf. His scholars promoted what in Arab culture are called Hindi numerals from their origin in India, to us Arabic numerals. He employed the mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, who wrote the first book entitled, in part, 'al jabr,' algebra of course, and whose name corrupted in Latin, algoritmi, is 'algorithm' to us. That caliph could be said to represent the party of God or evolution leading to the consciousness of its source, to paraphrase Teilhard de Chardin.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977" (Ignatius Press), by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI

Following up on my April blog of a book list, I found the Memoirs to be a fine read, sort of an intellectual's Huck Finn adventure, not to diminsh Huck Finn who Mr. Twain wouldn't allow to be more self revealing, the young Ratzinger starts out on a community raft in an administratively Nazi river in a historically Catholic land. He arrives off the danger of the river to a threadbare but traditionally dynamic society which yet has it moral challenges, most prominently in the seduction of Marxism, which he has the most insightful thing to say about but also more self made challenges as in the Catholic Church's headlong rush out of traditional or a culturally accreted liturgy. Similar to but even more than John Roberts, he is remarkable for the bluster he doesn't have. He is inclusivem, or catholic, finding refreshment in his Lutheran colleagues and, in one of his intellectual facets, 'personalism' where Martin Buber, a Jew, is given as the best expositor. His acknowledgement of his dificullties getting his thesis authorizing an acadmeic life is frank, interesting in its recognition of being aware, I would say, of Freudian dynamics and his creative and near miss solution. The intellectual content of the medeival saints understanding of the Bible as 'witnessing revelation,' as opposed to what Bily Graham might say, has a later resonance in his career and is a comforting talisman of our tradition.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Muslim Reformation

Reformation? Regression. The Jews seemed to do well in Spain with the Moors before Columbus' patrons consolidated rule and expelled them. How were Muslim views different then or did the Jews forget their dhimmi* or underling status? Fibonacci, an ambassador's son, brought Algebra from North Africa to Italy in ~ 1300. Was Moslem intellectual culture different then? Should the clock be turned halfway back?


Monday, July 04, 2005

RE: Mexico Debates the Merits of The Drug War

How subtly appropriate that on the most festive and spiritual of our national holidays, that a Dallas Morning News front page article July Fourth should talk of the problems for Mexican democracy of our drug problem. As has often been observed, "Prohibition" ended not because alcohol use had become passe` but because illegal profits were creating a parallel government which threatened our democracy.
The contradiction between the ideals of the Untied States, embodied in our laws, and practice, evident in our consumption of those drugs the possession and not the consumption of which is made illegal represents a similar threat to democracy in Mexico and the Andes. By our supreme ideal enunciated on this day that 'all men are created equal,' we are at fault for exporting the undermining of democracy to these nations.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Good Cop Ahmadinejad, Will You Publish the NY Times?

It's hard not to feel how sympatico the Iranian government is with us Americans in our little current conflict. Who among us cannot relate to the equivalent conversations: American family, "Where do you want to go eat?" Iranian Students in Search of Martyrdom and 40 Virgins Association member, "Which embassy do you want to take over?" American answer, "I want to go to Steak 'n Shake." Iranian answer, "I want to take over the Russian embassy." After driving around for a little while, an American passssenger says, "I didn't want to go to Chili's. It costs too much;" the Iranian says, "When I become president of Iran, I cannot be responsible for the Americans being angry that I overran their embassy, mistreated the hostages and started Nightline."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Amusing reflection on 'The Earth is Flat' by, of course, Tom Friedman

From the desk of Jane Galt (see site opposite; bottom of posts, April 22, 2005):

Ain't nothing finer than Matt Taibbi on the subject of Tom Friedman:

Thomas Friedman in possession of 500 pages of ruminations on the metaphorical theme of flatness would be a very dangerous thing indeed. It would be like letting a chimpanzee loose in the NORAD control room; even the best-case scenario is an image that could keep you awake well into your 50s.

So I tried not to think about it. But when I heard the book was actually coming out, I started to worry. Among other things, I knew I would be asked to write the review. The usual ratio of Friedman criticism is 2:1, i.e., two human words to make sense of each single word of Friedmanese. Friedman is such a genius of literary incompetence that even his most innocent passages invite feature-length essays. I'll give you an example, drawn at random from The World Is Flat. On page 174, Friedman is describing a flight he took on Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Hartford, Connecticut. (Friedman never forgets to name the company or the brand name; if he had written The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa would have awoken from uneasy dreams in a Sealy Posturepedic.) Here's what he says:

I stomped off, went through security, bought a Cinnabon, and glumly sat at the back of the B line, waiting to be herded on board so that I could hunt for space in the overhead bins.

Forget the Cinnabon. Name me a herd animal that hunts. Name me one.

For my take on Tom Friedman's abusive, even criminal, deployment of metaphor, click here. Meanwhile, does the man know how many calories there are in a Cinnabon? I mean, seriously, now. What was he thinking?

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sympathy for the devil, the line workers at GM

There has been a lot of disappointment in GM, cf., which gets directed at the Union, the UAW. I have a patient who served in Cambodia with the Army; then was traumatized by seeing blacks killed in Detroit in suppression of the 'MLK' riots. He was with the Army unit that participated in part in this. I won't go into his righteous heroism there, and the support of his black comrades for him here. He carried this with him into working 'the line at GM.' He was a tough guy, would walk 2 blocks on his hands. He saw a guy have a heart attack, fall out on the line, only to be dragged off, later reported dead; and the line never stopped. 'It would cost them $$$ to stop the line,' he said. His experiences at GM and probably those earlier led him, in my opinion, to feel 'the line' as near almighty and himself as nothing unless he supported 'the line.' By working hard he got himself to a spot on the line that he wanted. One day a cable that attached to a magnet on the vehicle door got wrapped around a fixed object as the line and the cable moved. He didn't run. The cable snapped and whipped him. It gave him spinal injuries. He is in chronic pain. He can no longer display feats of strength, doesn't have it. He can't work. GM is building some good cars; I plan to buy one next time I'm in the market. Maybe management will even let them stop 'the line.'

Saturday, April 02, 2005

'Hahaha' as per Pinkie, The idealist Nazi whose parents told him to stay out of Germany, for his own safety, due to his hostility to rude Nazis

A minor tangent in the recent news was the discovery by the Colombian Army of a nearly constructed large submarine for cocaine smuggling. An amusing reflection on this is found in 'Das.. Boot' in .

Friday, April 01, 2005

Some potentially interesting books

Rural insurgency and political integration/dis-integration were both my academic and military specialties. Oddly enough one of the most useful typologies for this kind of activity and the book that first alerted me to the spectrum of criminals/insurgents was Hobsbawm’s, Primitive Rebels, still available in paperback. Old Eric Hobsbawm was a lifelong British Communist, but he understood the political and economic underpinnings of deviant behavior. If you ever want to understand what we will be facing for the next two or three generations, read this book first then get a firm grasp on “amoral familialism” orginated by Edw. Banfield, and finish with studies of middle eastern tribe, clan and families.

Comment by Hungry Valley — 4/20/2005 @ 6:33

Habemus Papam
April 20, 2005; Page A16, the Wall Street Journal.

The world has a new Pope -- Benedict XVI, known until yesterday as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany. It appears inevitable that his election -- by 115 Catholic cardinals convened in the Sistine Chapel for the second day of their conclave -- will be seen as a conservative choice. To the extent that is true, the former Cardinal Ratzinger's critics in the U.S. and Europe can probably take some of the credit for his elevation to the papacy.

Attention is being drawn to a remark made days ago by Cardinal Ratzinger in a pontifical Mass that "we are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism." It may have gotten him elected. For it is not likely that any member of the college of cardinals was willing to allow this brand of relativism to endanger the Church's dynamic gains in Africa, South America or Asia. In his revealing memoir, "Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977" (Ignatius Press), he describes his early sense, as a young German in the war, of the Church's historic role: "Despite many human failings, the Church was the alternative to the destructive ideology of the Nazis. In the inferno that had swallowed up the powerful, she had stood firm with a force coming to her from eternity. It had been demonstrated: The gates of hell will not prevail against her."

What, then, may we expect of the "conservative" Benedict XVI? We suspect that rather than the suppression feared by Western liberals, this vigorous 78-year-old intellectual, extending the mandate of John Paul, will promote a spiritual revival and evangelization among the strays in his own flock.

It is also widely said that a central challenge for the new Pope will be dealing with the Islamic world, even as much of the world itself strives in the age of Islamic terror to encourage moderate Muslims to join the fight. Cardinal Ratzinger was known as a tough, and sometimes overly blunt, commentator. But let it also be noted that the Benedict XVI who must arbitrate a modus vivendi with Islam on one day and the pressures of modernity on the next has taken his papal name, perhaps as a message to his adversaries, from the founder of the Benedictine order whose motto is pax, or peace. Those willing to meet this new pontiff halfway may find more than they bargained for. (End of WSJ note.)

I found the 'Memoirs' to be a fine read, sort of an intellectual's Huck Finn adventure, not to diminsh Huck Finn who Mr. Twain wouldn't allow to be more self revealing, starting out on a community raft in an administratively Nazi river in a historically Catholic land. He arrives off the danger of the river to a threadbare but traditionally dynamic society which yet has it moral challenges, most prominently in the seduction of Marxism, but also more self made challenges as in the Catholic Church's headlonng rush out of traditional or a culturally accreted liturgy. Similar to but even more than John Roberts, he is remarkable for the bluster he doesn't have. He is inclusive, may this writer add snarkily, catholic, finding refreshment in his Lutheran colleagues and, in one of his intelectual facets, 'personalism' where Martin Buber, a Jew, is given as the best expositor.

Harold Bloom, emeritus prof of Yale, in WSJ, April 20th, 2005
One goes on urging children of all ages to read and reread Hans Christian Andersen and Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, rather than Ms. Rowling and Mr. King.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Beween Good Friday and Easter

Laura Ingraham brought us the essential facts of the Terrri Schiavo story this week. Some would say the law is straightforward. Look, when the judges want to find a result they can be artistically creative, for abortion the 'penumbra,' for homosexuality 'evolving standards,' striking down executions where the criminal was a minor, European laws. In Catholic theology, there is the idea of a standard of justice and one of mercy. Under the standard of justice, Michael Schiavo is a bigamist but mercy spares him because, well, you see the situation he is in. Are Judge Grier and the others too obtuse to see this in some framework and so follow the law? No, the robes are obtuse when they want to be. He and the rest could have said that the husband is chosen to represent the wife as, reasonably, the closest to her but his de facto bigamy invalidates that and gives the parents preference. Takes brilliance? No. Then there is the business of the persistent vegetative state, which seems to have been set in stone prematurely or in a slipshod maner. Matters? No.

These events stand in the way of our reviewing in elegance the life of Christ. But at the time of his death that was just as depressing, dare I say, a matter. This outrage which may have made for the mass of the first Christians, Jews. My Catholic forefathers have taught us of 'mysteries,' e.g. the triune G-d. But I believe they were yet more subtle and gave us a rule to apply to other situations in our Bible. Jesus could be harsh. 'It was as difficult for a rich man toget into heaven as a camel to pass through the eye of the needle.' Perhaps even just kidded about how he cast out demons with the comment, 'Why he is the prince of demons,' he said, 'You may criticize me but to abjur the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin.' You lock these away as 'mysteries' and have the soaring 'Blessed are the poor, in spirit, in ability to make attachment to the things of the world, for they shall inherit the earth!' 'I do this for the remission of sins (of Jew and Roman and Greek of all mankind without distinction, one G-d, one people).' Poetry. And then the the ultimate statement of mystery and poetry. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do," and then of humanity, "My God, my god why hast thou forsaken me?" Tyranny, duplicity, and a little help from their mistakes or intentions lead to the deaths of Jesus and Terri.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Decision of the High Court re: execution of juvenile offenses

For any controversial decison of the court, the psychologically least stressful position for someone neutral on the subject would be to take the decison as received wisdom. This is not my attitude here, and I think there are many who feel intruded on by this decision. The data as I know it is that an armed citizenry reduces crime by increasing the risk to the criminal and that the death penalty, similarly, defers by increasing risk for the murderer. In general, we all have dispositions that are antisocial that may be held in check by countervailing social forces. I can not see the logic of holding as instapundit does that the right to bear arms is good but banning the state from defending you is proper.
In this decison, I am reminded of a former president being quizzed by elite college students in a Communist country who suggested to him that the Supreme court was like their Politburo; so what's the difference in the 2 systems. Indeed. Thus, the rage. We all were reading today of arguments being made re: the Ten Commandments in a public place. Who cares what the Supreme Court says, except that they should allow democracy? You have ony to know, since you don't have any power, as the old show said, "You are there." People oppose tyranny to avoid helplessness. The court most clearly fails here in this test of the apropriateness of their action.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Reflections on an inauguration

The presidency combines the function of royalty and a chief administrative officer for the country. Royalty, especially in modern times, leads by setting an example, enunciating a standard. So the president in his inaugural was giving voice to what are the ideals of his administration, what consequences they have in social developemment, and what are their origins. In so far as people respect him, they will see this as a standard and potentially be accountable, first of all to themselves, if they do not meet it.