Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Little History for Young Women; and Men

A little history for young women--and men--who don't get why Hillary being a woman is a big deal.

We have a conservative movement that is trying to legislate women's bodies. And LGBTQ. And what we think and believe by restricting what teachers can say, what books we can read, and what news we hear.

We have a representative government--not a democracy. This is to protect the minority from shifting opinions. More than 50% of us are women, yet for the 1st time in history, we have a viable woman candidate of a major party.

And for those who think gender shouldn't matter, the fact that you can say that is testament to the women who have come before--women who have died so that we can be equal and vote.

Think I'm a little extreme? When I was born, contraception was illegal. When I was born, Jim Crow was the law of the land. When I was young, my aspirations were limited to nurse or teacher--not doctor or professor, but nurse or teacher. I got my first pair of pants when I was in 2nd grade. You try to climb trees and play fully in a dress. I watched my president get assassinated. I watched police use fire hoses on people. I watched Martin Luther King, Jr. speak and watched him get shot. And Bobby Kennedy. 

We have had to fight and die so that millenials and old, white men can tell us that gender doesn't matter and that it's our fault that things aren't better. Sorry, but after thousands of years of women as property and persons of color only 3/5 of an actual person we've come a long way, but still have a longer way to go. People who think that both parties equally bad, both candidates equally bad need to learn their history.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Why Hillary? Record vs Record

Hillary won the Nevada caucuses amid claims of dirty tricks from both sides. I have read many articles, essays, open letters, and blog posts describing why I support (insert name) or why I switched to (insert name). For the most part thoughtful, insightful, and well reasoned. Unfortunately, the debate and the questions seem to come down to gender. Younger people are universally for Bernie--or so says the media. Women who support Hillary do so because she's a woman (usually mansplained as women not having done the research needed to make an actual informed decision). Young women say that they are angry that older women think they should support Hillary because she's a woman. They say that Bernie gets it and his plans to tear down Wall Street and give free college are the reasons to support him, among other reasons designed to appeal to young people with uncertain prospects.

As an editorial aside, yes, I am generalizing. Women are not a monolithic, homegenous group. Nor are young people or men, or any other labeled group. That's actually not my point. To do so, I need to use the groupings that are already in use for these conversations.

I have given this a lot of thought and find myself agreeing with or disagreeing with points from both sides. I think I get the complaints about women supporting women irritating young women although again, various points of view and varied reasons can lead to the same result. That said, it's impossible to argue against the conclusion. Each point has to be answered; again not my purpose.

What I see, is a group of people who face a very uncertain future that I think most can agree was caused by (or at least exacerbated by) the 1%. Student loan debt is overwhelming when there are few jobs that will allow the average individual to build a life like or better than their parents in the face of that debt. Along comes Bernie promising revolution, universal healthcare, and free college. Hillary prefers to work incrementally and yes, has often compromised what should be ideals too pure to be diluted. She's changed her mind on major issues over time and gets money from the 1%. 

What I find sad, is that it is assumed that every politician is corrupted by contributions and is owned by big business. Perhaps. I agree that money buys access, but politics is messy. It's complicated and tedious. It takes skill to first run a campaign to get the job, then propose and gain consensus for bills. Not only does the politician have to form alliances within, but begin to campaign (and raise money for) re-election. Many politicians manage to juggle conflicting needs and still serve their constituents. Personally, I prefer to hire people skilled at the job so accept some of the mess that goes along with the sausage-making.

Of course, that puts weight on the Bernie side. Right? 

According to, Bernie ranks highly as far as bills proposed, but 2nd lowest in bipartisan support. Specifically, he tends to gather support from his side. Remember, he was an Independent until last fall and caucused with the Democrats. Bernie has been there 25 years. I speak to this connectedness because in order to reach his campaign goals, he will have to have Republican support. Period. If you want to read a really fascinating study done in 2006 on the effects of "connectedness" and success passing bills, check out "Connecting the Congress: A Study of Cosponsorship Networks." You could google that title or comment me and I'll send you the link (I'm working on cranky tech). Warning, it is peer-reviewed and 11 pages, but 2 of those are bibliography and several pages are diagrams and charts.

Also from govtrack, Bernie scored the most progressive, but well down on leadership. Hillary scored higher in leadership but I think most people agree that in ideology and voting recordes, they are remarkably aligned.

If you look at the categories of bills sponsored, Bernie was at 27% in armed forces and national security, Hillary 0. Bernie came in at 18% health, Hillary 14%, Bernie was 11% labor and employment, Hillary 9%, Bernie 10% energy, Hillary 0. Bernie was 9% government operations and politics, Hillary 23%, Bernie 9% education, Hillary 8%, Bernie 8% taxation, Hillary 0,  and finally for Bernie, 7% finance to Hillary 15%.

Hillary had some zeros (remember, these are bills sponsored). But her interest diverges somewhat as she then sponsored 11% science, technology and  communications, 10% social welfare, and 10% families. [source]

If you are interested in comparing the two bill by bill, those sources (and Congress's own sites) can delve into details. What I do not hear as we compare history, is recognition of the world around them. Yes Hillary campaigned for Goldwater (massive demerit) but she was in high school. Her time in the Senate was the years of W, Iraq and the meltdown of the economy. Yes, she has friends on Wall Street, but she was the senator from New York and they were constituents, too. They also funded (generously) speeches to support her foundation, but what does the foundation do? What percent goes to actual program? (87.2%). Google it. Yes, I'm unhappy with some of her record and previous choices, but I am more concerned by someone who won't change their mind or explain how they went from belief A to belief B. Can anyone honestly say that their beliefs have remained unchanged for the past 20-30 years? I didn't think so. But then, I believe in evolution, both in science, and in our emotional development. 

So Bernie is all about income inequality. Every question to him comes back to it. His legislative career suggests otherwise if you look at his interests. There are a variety of committees and sub-committees and legislators tend to gravitate to those areas that are of interest and hopefully, in which they have knowledge and experience. Bills proposed tend towards those interests which is why I listed the breakdown above. Amendments are numerous and success comes down to who you can get to co-sponsor and who they can get and so on. Having high-level friends (in terms of networking rank) gets you better chances. So personality, the ability to compromise, and working both sides is essential to success in Washington. 

Much of this article and the research I did came from how to answer all these people who see only negatives in Hillary and hang their choice on the "I won't vote for a woman just because she's a woman."

In a conversation the other day, we came to the conclusion that there are two types of people, politically speaking. There are those who like to delve deep, who get news from a variety of sources, who pay attention and have a history and a context. These people can place campaign statements along side everything else that person has said and done and remain politically tuned in all the time. Year after year, election season or not. Wonky nerds. The other type are those who somewhere along the line begin to pay attention, usually in a heated primary season but often not until the only commercials on tv are political ads. They may or may not read a newspaper or news magazine. They likely do not spend much time reading blogs or talking about politics. Their information and everything that informs their vote comes down to randomness. Family, friends, co-workers, always vote x, or saw a clip somewhere and the candidate seemed nice. Or not. Single issue, or what their pastor tells them. They don't have the context.

So when young women, or young people get excited about Bernie and angry when other women tell them they should vote for Hillary don't know the history. The forty year GOP plan to dumb down the voters, appeal to fear, and knowledge that if you cut funding for education and teach them that science is just a theory and build a culture around sound-bites, you can say anything, pander, and then get to Washington and do what you want.

You know that common phrase frequently heard from the right that "I don't hold my finger up to see which way the wind blows, I vote my conviction?" We actually should want them to see how the wind blows, or in other words, listen to their constituents.

The GOP has been after Hillary since she appeared on the scene. People don't trust her, but can't actually find anything that would show that. They say she's power-hungry and stayed married so she could run for president some day. Really? You heard all their private conversations? You really think that all politicians marry for and remain married for love? Even if she did have hopes and dreams to one day be a politician herself, what's wrong with that? We all have dreams. How many wives got their foot in the door to positions in or around politics because of a spouse or other family? That's how it works. Why shouldn't she want something for herself after all those years of being the wife?

Ever notice that Bernie is cranky, shouts, and oh, that's just Bernie but then tells Hillary not to shout?

I haven't seen any changes in Hillary since this campaign started. She has shifted some priorities but that's what we should hope for as she gets out on the trail and talks to people outside the bubble. I have seen a lot of changes in Bernie. Some good as he actually gets out in the crowd, but he's doing big donor fundraisers and has as much as called Hillary corrupt without actually saying it. He's tried to erase his lingering sexism (and suggesting that Hillary is playing the gender card when she talks about being the 1st woman president and then turns around and talks about being the first Jew) is a form of sexism.

So, my own thinking has evolved as I write this. I have always liked Hillary but waited a long time before deciding who to support. I will vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is, but I hope it's Hillary. 
I watched woman struggle for autonomy along with other groups after the civil rights act and gain ground slowly but always moving forward. I watched as the disabled fought for and gained rights. And for the last 20 years, I've watched as the extremist right has chipped and chipped away many if not most of those rights. Unable to enact the big things, the right has used funding to deny services. I watched as they continue to tell women that we don't get to say what to do with our bodies. I watched as young girls are told by the media to be sexy even as little girls, than shamed at school because they grow breasts and has to ensure that no one wants to rape her because her clothing reveals her shape. That's why I will vote for Hillary. When it comes down to it, because she is a woman and because she has gotten this far while a woman and because she knows how to do the job.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The PC Police and Both Siderism

Huh. Just read that the reason people support Trump is because they're afraid to say anything because of the PC police and he says what they can only think.

Seems the liberal left dominates the debate and anything they don't like is wrong. 

Here's the thing. Just because a bunch of people have an opinion, even if it's a majority of the people, doesn't make their opinion true, or okay. We wouldn't need the Bill of Rights if that were the case. Remember, we are not a simple democracy ie majority rules; we are a republic with representative government with a Constitution that protects the minority from shifting public opinion.

We're all raised to respect others' opinions, but you know what? Some opinions shouldn't be respected. There's this belief that a middle ground somewhere is a good thing, but it matters the middle of what? Some western GOP legislators want to give federal land back to who it really belongs to--in their opinion, ranchers, mining companies, etc. others want the land protected by the federal government for the benefit of all (who do you think benefited when John McCain worked a deal to sell tribal sacred lands to an international mining company?). If we really believe the land should be returned, lets all pack our bags and go back to wherever our ancestors came from. Oh, now it's cool to have native blood? 

Our country as embodied by our media suffers from both-siderism. Each "side" has an opinion so in fairness, each "side" gets to have their say. Notice, nobody actually fact checks and we get to decide, based on perceived political orientation (or whatever our opinion is based on) which"side" we're on. Sometimes opinions are just wrong (all Muslims are not extremist jihadis just as all white Christian men are not members of the Klan). 

It isn't PC to call people people instead of adding qualifiers (black, white, gay, straight, male, female...) it's just the correct thing to do. It isn't anti PC to be a bigot, misogynist,'s just wrong. Drawing a line somewhere in the middle between hate and love isn't finding common ground. It's allowing hate to flourish because remember, everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Have your opinion. Just don't expect me to respect it or you.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Empathy Run Amok?

So I have some Twitter friends who I have followed since the beginning--although I did take a couple years off Twitter as well as blogging. Most of my timeline includes people interested in politics and social issues. Over time, we let some of our real self creep through and begin to see each other as real people. One friend who has battled some serious depression linked to an article on empathy.

When I was learning to be a counselor we were told over and over again that the single most important factor in a successful therapeutic relationship is empathy.

The article, by a clinical psychologist, suggested that we can have too much empathy and cited examples in which people actually did themself harm by relating too much. 

Um. No.

Empathy is simply the ability to understand where someone is coming from; that you walk a mile in their shoes to use an old expression. Pity, sympathy and the like are harmful because it is more of a one up one down relationship. I can empathize with someone, understand their point of view and still see distortions of thought and disagree with actions taken. The point is understanding where that person is right now and nonjudgmentally understand their point of view.

I have seen harm done by therapists feeling sympathy for their patients, which then leads to the therapist trying to "fix" them. Counselors don't fix people. We help people work through whatever is keeping them stuck and help them decide for themself how to move forward. 

In discussing with others, it was suggested that someone might feel so worthless that they put themselves in situations that are harmful because their empathy leads them to believe others are more worthwhile. That is not empathy. Someone deeply depressed, experiencing poor self esteem, or feeling worthless is not likely to be capable of much empathy at the time. That level of pain becomes so all-encompassing that the gaze is usually directed inward. The notion then that someone else is more worthwhile does not come from empathy, but rather from a belief that the self is worthless. This is not empathy run amok. It is clinical depression, derealization, depersonalization, loss of self.

Just some thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I haven't included sourcing in my latest because there are just too many. Turn on your nightly news of choice to get an example of Trump at his most outrageous. If you still insist on links, let me know.

Disgusting. Terrible. Trump.

Anyone paying attention to the debates? Even if you are not particularly political, it's hard to avoid politics when Trump dominates the news. A 24/7 news cycle has created an industry of competition for viewers and clicks, often with little substance.

Trump is an interesting man. Just when we think he cannot be more outrageous, that he has sunk as low as is possible, he comes up with more. I avoid him if I can, but every event generates a cutaway from whatever news show is broadcasting. It is clear to everyone that he sees women as objects. Asked at a campaign event about childcare, he called the questioner darling and said that children are important. He then said that his companies offered childcare; just get one or two people and some blocks... Easy. He is quick to call women disgusting, fat, ugly, or whatever thoughts cross his mind. During a deposition a few years ago, an attorney asked for her scheduled break and when he refused, she took out her breast pump to explain why she needed the break. He left the room, and the deposition and was horrified that anyone would actually do that and that she is a horrible disgusting woman.

Do you sense a theme here?

Fact checkers have given up, stating that he has not said one true thing during his campaign. When pinned down, he says that "it makes sense" or that it could be true, therefore it is true. He cites sources that include his twitter fans or his excellent memory and has to inject profit into every discussion. When Steve Harvey named the wrong winner at the Miss Universe pagent, Trump had to offer that he sold the pagent "for a very good price" saying that what happened was horrible, implying that if he still owned it, the mistake would never have happened.

During the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was late returning after a break and to hear Trump tell it, it was absolutely disgusting to think of why she was late. People are often disgusting to Trump. If they question him, they are disgusting. Protestors are disgusting and deserve to be beaten up. Journalists are disgusting and he hates them--this while keeping them in a penned area at events. I remember growing up and their were two things we could say guaranteed to set my mother off. One was that someone was an idiot, the other that we hated someone. She would tell us that hating someone meant we wished they were dead. Period. Now, when I hear Trump so easily hate, it makes me wonder. 

Another comment made by Trump regarding Clinton is that she got schlonged. The one or two people unfamiliar with the term were quickly educated via Facebook, Twitter, and news shows. Now Trump has decided that everyone has changed the definition and that we are disgusting for suggesting anything improper by his use of it. One of the fastest trending hashtags on Twitter is #ReplaceAwordwithschlong. A lot of really funny and creative people in my timeline. 

Somewhere along the way, Trump learned that women are not really people, but rather, disgusting objects of derision. Anyone who says he "cherishes" women and then is so quick to opine on their appearance, weight, ect., only cherishes what women can do for him. He sees nothing wrong with seeing his daughter as "dateable" and rather than attack Clinton's policy positions, calls her a terrible, disgusting woman because she has the temerity to question him and call him out for his lies.

Fun times ahead.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon,

Monday, November 16, 2015

To Engage or not to engage

In the past few months, I've become more active on Facebook and Twitter. I have unfollowed some people and written some pretty strong posts.
In the past few weeks as the presidential campaign heats up, I have received 3 kinds of responses.
The first, that they like and/or agree. I can usually tell ahead of time who those people will be.
The second, from friends posting memes about shutting out negativity, meditating, or otherwise ensuring that we allow in only those things that are positive and healing.
The third, and a category in which too many people are falling, that they have decided either to back off Facebook for awhile, or will disengage from any political issues because they are a) too depressing, b) too divisive, or c) creating tension between family and friends.
I tried to keep Facebook as a place to stay connected with family, old friends and classmates, but over time, people would invariably post something that I either found offensive, lacking facts, or something to which I agreed so strongly that I had to repost and/or comment.
When people would suggest I tone it down, I replied that I received a number of positive responses requesting that I continue. I even had people of quite different perspectives tell me that because they knew me, they tried to keep an open mind and actually thought about what I said.
So we come to today and the horrors of last Friday the 13th. I watched as so-called neutral reporters such as Jake Tapper essentially blamed President Obama for ISIL and others at a news conference who were so busy planning their own question they failed to listen to the President's previous answers (which actually demonstrated the bias of the questioner).
Remarkable to me, were those who repeated accusations made by Trump or Carson. Remember, Trump's answer to everything is that he'll negotiate a better deal. Really? He obviously doesn't understand the role of President. And Carson has not said a true thing yet (according to all the fact checkers). This is the man who discounts historical records and claims that the pyramids were obviously to store grain. Anyone old enough to remember the traveling King Tut exhibit?
So, who is right? Do we engage and experience all the frustration that entails, or do we back off because after all, what can I do?
I know where I stand and why, do you?
Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Friday, October 23, 2015

and then there was Hillary

Hillary,Clinton,Congress,Republican,Campaign 2016, Benghazi

I remember the whole Clinton Lewinski scandal. I was going to school after a many year hiatus and had gotten to know many other "non-traditional" women. We often met in the cafeteria to drink coffee and work on homework, gripe, and basically support each other as we each, in different ways, struggled with being students while holding down jobs, raising families, and coping.

The internet was still fairly new and I got involved in a web forum at the NPR website. Threads were organized by show: someone inevitably started a thread after each guest or issue heard on NPR.

Not sure who started it, but a new thread formed titled Move On. We ultimately were considered the longest running single issue thread and in fact, a few of the early members left the forum to start moveon dot org.

All that to say that I was actively involved in everything Clinton. My belief, still held, was that the most investigated couple had been proven to done one thing. Bill lied under oath in answer to a question I don't think we had the right to ask.

A somewhat circuitous route to my story. 

My women friends and I rarely discussed politics. Partly lack of interest or time to really absorb the details. I was fortunate in that I had plenty of free time to engage in my addiction to politics. I was blogging and on the forums daily. 

One day, the conversation turned to Hillary. I think she had just done her "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview. One of my friends said "I hate her." Startled, I asked why. Her response shouldn't have surprised me, but I was when she said that Hillary lied, had a fake marriage, and essentially was there  to provide cover for Bill. 

We remained friends, even after I expressed my two main beliefs regarding the Clintons. First, no one knows what goes on inside a marriage except the two people involved, and two, whatever arrangements they might or might not have, were none of our business. I went on to add that unless he was actually sexually harassing or assaulting women (which we eventually knew he did not), any questions about Bill or Hillary's sex life were inappropriate.

The inevitable questions about character came up. I am still puzzled that my belief that morality is about how you treat others and not what your sexual habits are or how often you go to church is considered to be a fringe attitude but there it is.

And so now we have Hillary, a competent attorney who became First Lady, first of a state, then the nation. With more experience than many who seek or hold those offices, she ran for and won a senate seat. Had she remained in the Senate, she would likely have been re-elected. When she ran for president, many complained--in fact John McCain touted her lack of experience as a reason not to vote for her--that she wasn't qualified.

Although not a huge Hillary fan, Obama's decision to nominate her to be his Secretary of State was inspired. By so doing, he ensured that he would not have to face her again in his re-election campaign. That she turned out to be a really good SOS was a bonus. Sure she was political and sure she likely made decisions that were politically advantageous to her. But seriously. Why are people so surprised when politicians make political decisions?

Whatever the worth of the Libya policy, or who was its chief architect, the fact remains that we had a Libyan policy, obviously supported by the President, That led to the conditions which placed four men ar risk. 

What the 7.5 investigations into what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2011 have found, is that the security was inadequate to protect them and that in the first hours and days following the attacks, information was slow to arrive, confusing, and chaotic. Or as Hillary said, the fog of war.

Yesterday, after 11 hours of attempts by a Republican congress to blame, Hillary ultimately showed that there really is nothing new under the sun, and that the American people were able to see very clearly a strong, capable woman who holds up phenominally well under pressure. What we saw was a group of white men badgering a woman, two women who tried to prove her callous and unfeeling because she didn't demonstrate sufficient concern--by their definition--and through it all, someone who showed with her poise, words, and emotion that she cared very much, but did not let that command her duties to the country. Had she become emotional over the threats to her friends, set aside all other concerns of state to mourn them, she would have shown us that she is not capable of leadership. 

Believe it or not, I have not yet decided who I support for president--except to say it will be whoever is the Democratic nominee--but yesterday, the GOP gave a tremendous gift to the country as they showed us how qualified and capable Hillary is to be president.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

GOP Debates

Well. Anyone else paying attention to the GOP debates? We're at least 6 months out from the first primaries and I think only the most dedicated are paying attention. Seeing some of the polling suggests that people respond to what is most familiar, who has made the most noise or headlined the news. Unfortunately, even when we get closer, many people (most?) will vote based on party affiliation, who they react to emotionally, or some vague, non-specific reason. So far, I'm not seeing much difference between any of the GOP pool, even Trump is toeing the party line even if somewhat crudely. It will be interesting. Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon. k

Friday, June 5, 2015


Having been away from this blog for quite awhile I've been going back through some of my old posts and re-reading comments made. I was surprised at the reactions to my avatar of all things. Silly on a "serious" blog. Pretending to be young and thin. Obviously young so obviously don't know what I'm talking about. Readers trying to figure out my message in why I chose it. One of my favorite bloggers used for years, a pair of yellow rubber boots as her avatar and many, use none. Trying to remember my thinking when I chose that image, I think I was just trying to use it as a caricature. I do have long brown hair that usually looks like that and I frequently wear suits. I even wear glasses and I have to say, when Sarah Palin came on the scene, I seriously considered cutting my hair - but I'm lazy when it comes to hair and this is the easiest style there is. All of this is a roundabout way of saying, seriously? This blog isn't about me except in the sense that I am offering my educated opinions. What I look like shouldn't be a factor and my avatar is just a touch of whimsy. If I remember, the program I used came with a male or female form, I just added features, colors, etc. So, a response to the various questions about my avatar. What I'd really like though, is for commente about my content. Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Checking In

Lately, I seem to be responding to things in the news -- or should I say media -- in a way I haven't in awhile. I've been focused on writing other than blogging, but there is just so much going on. The presidential campaigns are getting off the ground, McCain et al is trying to sell off an Apache holy site, the divide between fundamentalist Christians and everyone else becomes ever wider, and climate change is above the fold once again. this is just a belated check in but will begin actual posts tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween. As I sit here, waiting for the doorbell to ring with the next wave of trick-or-treaters and trying to think what to write about as Nanowrimo begins at 12:01, I realize that I haven't posted in longer than I can remember. Every now & then, Liz & Dick rear their heads & I am tempted to post another Dear Liz article, but they disappear off media radar almost as quickly as they appear so as yet, I've kept my peace. Just a quick note this time. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Whew. My brief hiatus from blogging has become much more than brief. Working odd hours in a job requiring intense concentration & focus leads to lots of lazy evenings & weekends when putting fingers to keyboard one more time is beyond me. But, my Christmas present this year is this amazing MacBook Air which I am enjoying although I have always been a PC user - & yes, there is a learning curve. Any writing I've done since my last post has been editing or work-related, so my need to create is bubbling up. A certain frustration in BOTH sides of government, a sense of going in circles, & thone occasional need to take a break from the insanity that is our country has left me less inclined to comment. Unfortunately, I have only to turn on the news, pick up a paper, or log on to one of my favorite online news sources, & it's impossible not to have an opinion. So, my resolution is to reactivate this blog & try to continue adding my voice to the conversation. Thanks for stopping by. See you soon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life Happened...

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth nor have I stopped blogging. Life has a habit of happening, even if you've made other plans, and I have gone through significant changes in my life in the past couple of months.

As most of you are aware, I have been looking for a "real" job that will help pay the bills. Much as writing feeds my soul, it doesn't do much for the bank account, unfortunately. My two novels are far from ready to submit for publication, and I believe that it is important to be on top of the news of the day if I am going to blog.

To my great relief, I now have a job. Time clock, paycheck, and everything. Sadly, it's not full-time, yet, however, as soon as the census increases, so will my hours. Ironically, I am working at a place that I have never applied to. A little frustrating considering how many resumes and applications I have sent out over the past couple of years! I've been on the internet job sites and frequently received inquiries from companies interested in my business background, but none from places that would allow me to work in my profession. Then out of the blue, I get a phone call from a company who saw my resume and asked me to come in for an interview. Several interviews later, and a couple of months beyond what I might have expected (and so had written them off), I get a call asking me to start work in 2 days. Needless to say, I frantically got myself together, rescheduled appointments, and went to work. My "part-time" job was actually full-time until last week as I was in training and helping cover a workload shortage, but hopefully within a couple of months, I will work full-time for real.

My hours are insane (I have to get up at 3am to arrive on time) and then I got sick, so slept all the hours I was not actually working. It is just this past week that I have started to adjust physically, to the point that I feel human this weekend for the first time in forever, it seems.

So, I'm back on board. I have kept up with the news and had several posts going in my mind, but the news changed so fast and was, quite frankly, overwhelming in the complexity and variety of subjects to write about that I decided to wait until I could give my posts my full attention.

Right now, I am following the situation in Wisconsin, Japan, and the related damage to coastal California and other locations. Every time I think John Boehner can't say anything stupider, he opens his mouth and proves me wrong. Sarah Palin disappeared, briefly, but is back ensuring that we all remember how truly ignorant and classless she really is. Gabrielle Giffords is healing remarkably and I am in awe as I compare her to other patients I have worked with who experienced a traumatic brain injury. I am beginning to wonder if there was some grand, Democratic scheme to let the Republicans have the House at the mid-terms to ensure a resounding victory in 2012 for the Democrats and the President. If not, they (Republicans) are certainly behaving as if they hope to lose in 2012.

I have heard from some of you, and periodically receive comments written months ago, likely the result of a Google search. What are you talking about today? What's at the top of your list for discussion? How do you feel about Sarah Palin's latest comments? The actions of the Republicans in Wisconsin? Any other items in the news that need some additional commentary?

Let me know and I will be blogging again.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jarod Loughner IS A Schizophrenic With Paranoid Tendencies, And Sarah Palin? Fail.

I've been saying, since the horrific events of last Saturday, that it was too soon to characterize the shooter as having schizophrenia with paranoid tendencies. While I have also said it is likely that mental illness is involved, no one could actually diagnose without actually speaking with the shooter. I was in error, however, in stating that no reputable mental health professional would diagnose without more information and direct contact with the subject. Dr. E. Fuller Torrey has made that diagnosis and claims that he has sufficient information from the limited writings and YouTube videos available. He also noted the flattened affect displayed in the photo that we have all seen, which I thought was a pretty big signal of schizophrenia (one of the features that we look for is inappropriate affect - smiling at the wrong time for example). I am pleased that one of the leading experts on schizophrenia validates my opinion that it is only a tiny percentage of persons with that illness who exhibit violent tendencies, and his agreement that it is past behavior and substance abuse that are more likely indicators. What Dr. E. Fuller Torrey explains, is that it is the content of the delusions that is important in someone with schizophrenia, in this case, the paranoia. Dr. Torrey says that Saturday's shooter is a "textbook case" of paranoid schizophrenia (the formal diagnosis would be schizophrenia, paranoid type, and then what type of paranoia). This doctor knows far more than I ever will on the subject, so I defer to his judgment.

When interviewing someone who has delusions, and claims to hear voices, the first question I ask, is "what do the voices say?" Command hallucinations, as we call them, are those in which the 'voices' tell the individual to do something. Frequently, someone with hallucinations that involve hearing voices will describe conversations going on in their head that are 'about' them or 'to' them, usually in ways that diminish self-esteem, but a 'command' hallucination is dangerous in that the only way the individual has to make it stop, is to follow through with the commands given. Any mental health professional encountering someone with command hallucinations will immediately take notice and seek to determine what the commands say. One of the very few instances in which we can break confidentiality, is when the individual is a danger to themselves of to others whom we can identify. Someone with paranoid features to their schizophrenia and who is in an active phase, will have delusions that include the idea that others are trying to do something to them (insert thoughts into their brain, listen to their thoughts, or control them in some way). Evidently, Jarod Loughner believed that the government was trying to control his grammar--a quite unusual fear and definitely evidence of paranoia.

What is very sad about this whole incident, is that it shines a light on the lack of mental health care in this country. Several Republicans in the past couple of days have stated, quite strongly, that the problem is not political rhetoric, but rather the lack of mental health care. I am puzzled by these comments as they are in complete contrast to the Republican desire to repeal the current health care legislation, and mental health care is one of those dreaded social services that conservatives love to deride. Perhaps after this, they will re-think their derision of government-funded health care.


This morning, Sarah Palin released a video with her statement regarding the blame that seems to have attached to her since Saturday's shootings. She says that she has spent the past few days in reflection, and we are given to understand that she is releasing this statement in response to her puzzlement at the (unstated) left's desire to "apportion blame." Not wanting to accept any blame, she makes this video. You'll note that she has chosen to appear in a dark blazer, a flag pin that is not her usual crystal embellished pin, and in front of a fireplace (read "Fireside Chat"). Very presidential. It is clear that she has either read my posts on her body language or finally begun to listen to her advisors as her poll numbers drop as she rarely displayed her usual "tells" to give away her complete disdain for having to give this speech. Had not the intertubes and Twitter not been full of comments about her deafening silence, I am sure that she would remain silent still. What is remarkable about the following comments, is that, as said by many others, she missed an opportunity to appear bigger than she is, presidential even. If she has been watching the cable shows other than Fox, she would have taken note of the many pieces of advice about what she should do, what she should say, and what would immediately dilute all the negative reaction that she has been getting. Obviously, she did not.

I agree that Saturday's events are not directly her fault, but I do believe that she is one of those holding primary responsibility--the others being Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck--for the level of vitriol that passes for politics today in this country. Whether or not politics has anything to do with Saturday's events has not been determined, however, it has been determined that Loughner hated Congresswoman Giffords and that she was his primary target. How can the attempted assassination of a political figure not be political?

"Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims' families as we express our sympathy. 
I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.
Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic's core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It's inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day. 
There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.
Like many, I've spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event. [And it took her three days for her scriptwriters to come up with something for her to say to undo her first, unscripted remarks and to counter the blow-back from Glenn Beck's reading of purported emails from her] President Reagan said, "We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions." [Unfortunately, while he did say these words, the context was that he was arguing against providing any social services to the inner cities] Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, [Although the left does not use maps with gun sights accompanied by her favorite slogan, "Don't retreat--reload"] not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election. [And just because something is legal means of course, that it is the right thing to do]
The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country's future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. [well, not exactly] In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power [?!? transition of power? sorry hon, just the House, so not really a 'true' transition of power]  proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.
Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions.  [Which I have abused by telling lies] And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don't like a person's vision for the country, you're free to debate that vision. If you don't like their ideas, you're free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible. [What is reprehensible is using a term 'blood libel' that has a very specific history in Judaism and is offensive when the primary victim on Saturday, Congresswoman Giffords, is Jewish. And manufacture? Just the word is incendiary in itself, connoting as it does conspiracy on the part of (whom?) to stir things up] [And once again, she contradicts herself in the same paragraph. First, the crime stands on its own, then somehow, speech can 'incite blood libel?']
There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. [?] And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those "calm days" when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren't designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders' genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure. [So you have no desire for an ideal world? If so, you would have stopped the hateful comments shouted out during your campaign rallies as John McCain did, or at least noted their inappropriateness in civil, albeit heated, political debate. And this level of rhetoric? It is unique as never before have we had a television station devoted 24/7 to promulgating lies in aid of a political party and ideology. You clearly do not believe your own words, that the crime stands on its own as you regularly claimed that then Senator Obama "palled around with terrorists" and tried (and still do) to claim guilt by association for all your opponents]
As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, "We know violence isn't the answer. When we 'take up our arms', we're talking about our vote." [Funny, this was when your gunsight map generated controversy and Congresswoman Giffords went on MSNBC to tell you that words have consequences. Just sayin] Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box - as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That's who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn't a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional. 
No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults. [Oh wow. This, from the Queen of Thin Skin! But I forgot, in Sarahworld, the 1st Amendment is about protecting her and political figures FROM the press, so muzzling the voices that call her to account is okay, but limiting hate speech is not?]
Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply "symbolic," as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred [No Sarah. It is not 'sacred.' This is a secular country and our founding documents are not sacred.] charter of liberty was more than just "symbolic." But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.
It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today. [Hmmm. Where were you when all the members of your party sat on their hands as Bush and Cheney raped the Constitution?]
Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God's guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.
America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. [Would that it were mindless] We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.
- Sarah Palin"

My takeaway from all of this, is that once again, it is all about Sarah. Were she not vilified in the "liberal" press for her (granted, small) part in all of this, we know that she would have injected herself into the conversation anyway (and likely much sooner). She could have, as so many have said, taken the high road and apologized for the inappropriateness of her gunsight map (especially as Congresswoman Giffords herself commented on it at the time of its release and was concerned) and done so while still saying that she was not at fault. I don't think I have heard anyone blame Sarah Palin directly for Saturday's events and it is impossible to form direct cause-effect links, however, just the fact that she found it necessary to 1) have the website taken down immediately, 2) have her mouthpiece try to claim that the symbols on the map were surveying marks rather than gunsights (when she talked constantly about reloading and asked people to go see the map?), and 3) had the email exchange with Glenn Beck in which she complained about people using this as a reason to criticize her suggests that she knows she bears some responsibility for the level of hate present in this country today. The fact that politics has always been heated and that this was nothing new (although I disagree) does not mean that she shouldn't use her position to attempt to improve things.We will always have people on the extreme fringes of our society, people vulnerable to suggestion, whose locus of control is external so looking for someone to blame for their problems. Providing them the trigger to act is the height of irresponsibility and not in the least presidential.

No, as usual, Sarah Palin had to play the victim once again, make this about her, and try to turn it into a political opportunity. The one thing I am confident of, is that in this she has failed.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.