|"Jittery, scratchy, white specs,"|
That doesn't sound good. The LCs and/or their circuits may be damaged. In that case you'd be better off with the display assembly. But if you're into it, replacing just the CCFL is a cheap fix.
Up to about 8 dead pixels are allowed on an LCD screen - they can be any color - if there area lot more than that, that's not normal.
" and in the upper left hand side of the screen, their appears to be a ring like pattern"
I believe that's called a moire pattern.
You may be using the wrong screen resolution, and/or a vertical refesh rate that isn't suitable.
On the other hand, that may go away when the CCFL is replaced - when your display is dim the voltage inverter is not putting out it's full output.
All LCD displays have an "optimal" or "native" resolution at which they look the best - at other resolutions they don't look as good, and the most noticable thing is the text isn't as clear. Try different resoutions until you determine which one yields the best looking text - that's the "optimal" or "native" resolution.
Turn on Clear Type in Windows XP or Vista - makes type/fonts on LCD screens look clearer.
If it's already on, turn it off if you need to determine at what resolution the type looks best.
Many laptops are limited to a 60hz vertical refresh rate, but if you are using Plug And Play Monitor drivers, you may be able to set that higher when you shouldn't - see Display - Settings - Advanced - Adapter to see what it's set to. If that's too high, setting it lower may get rid of the moire pattern, or just try other rates.
If you dig around looking at the specs for your model, you may be able to determine what vertical refresh rate(s) is(are) safe to use with the display, and maybe the specified "optimal" or "native" resolution.
Laptops often use Plug And Play Monitor drivers, but some of the settings you can choose in that mode do not look right or can actually damage an LCD display - they were designed primarily for crt monitors, at the time when XP first came out, and I don't think they've changed since.
You could look on the HP site to see if they have specific drivers for your display, in the downloads for your model or elsewhere, but you may not find any.
Standalone LCD monitors usually have specific drivers you can load to avoid possibly damaging the display - by default Windows then only shows you the settings both the monitor and the video drivers can display safely and properly.