Sunday, May 25, 2008
Memorial Day, 2008
Memorial Day is about honoring those who have sacrificed themselves for the nation, in our armed forces. We cannot honor them properly unless we know the full extent of their sacrifice.
We have to count the victims of Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome, what we used to call being shell-shocked, as victims of the war. The number of those victims has been covered up.
Investigative reporters at CBS News found that in 2005, 6,250 veterans took their lives, nearly 18 a day. Emanuel Margolis writes,
Have 30,000 veterans died of suicide in the past 5 years? Have 60,000 tried to? Shouldn't these deeply depressed men and women be added to the casualty tolls? Is war a plague on the mind of those who fight it?
' • 120 veterans commit suicide every week.
• 1,000 veterans attempt suicide while in VA care every month.
• Nearly one in five service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (approximately 300,000) have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms or major depression.
• 19 percent of post-Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with possible traumatic brain injury, according to a Rand Corp. Study in April.
• A higher percentage of these veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than from any previous war because of "stop loss" or an involuntary extension of service in the military (58,300), multiple tours, greater prevalence of brain injuries, etc. '
19 percent of returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan would also be nearly 300,000 persons, suffering from traumatic brain injury.
Wounded vets often face quality of life issues for the long term.
Others face profound moral dilemmas growing out of a conviction that they have been ordered to commit atrocities. The warping of the moral being may not be an inevitability of war but it is a severe risk.
We aren't told the scale of the sacrifice by our corporate media or Washington officials. Michael Munk has done a fine job of focusing in like a laser on the real numbers of casualties for the Iraq War. Here is the last dispatch I have from him, dated May 6, 2008:
'US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered at least 108 combat casualties in the week ending May 6, as the official casualty total reached at least 65,500. The total includes 33,325 dead and wounded by what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and 32,175 (since over a month ago on March 1) dead and injured from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 85,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the approximately 20,000 casualties discovered only after they returned from Iraq -mainly brain trauma from explosions.**
In addition, a rare report showed that 1,123 "US civilian contractors" has been killed since the invasion, including a record 353 in 2007. No numbers are available on the wounded and injured, nor about casualties among the "contractors" who are not US citizens. (Houston Post, Feb. 9, 2008.)
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)