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.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Violence Does Not Automatically Equate to Schizophrenia

It's likely that the shooter of Saturday has a mental illness. It is even possible that he has schizophrenia, possibly with paranoid features. But, there is no evidence that he has ever received that diagnosis and if he has, it would be illegal for any medical professional to say so.

Actually, the first medical professional to speak to the subject of the subject's mental health is Rand Paul, the self-certified ophthalmologist recently elected to the Senate. He stated on Sunday morning that he had seen the shooter's writings and determined that he was a paranoid schizophrenic. First, not likely, second, get real.

If the legal community in Tucson had possession of the shooter's writings, it is unlikely that a junior Senator from another state would have had access to them. Even a mental health professional would be unwilling and/or unlikely to make a formal diagnosis without assessing the individual (and at that point, the shooter was not talking to law enforcement), and if they were willing to make a guess, would not couch it in those terms. If they did guess, they would use the appropriate, current, terminology which is not paranoid schizophrenic. If anyone has had access to any writings, it is certain that no diagnosis would have been made by Sunday morning from them alone.

It is too bad that mental health is a subject that continues to carry such a huge stigma in this country. People who are experiencing a mental illness are often unwilling or unable to seek help because of this stigma. Often times, families are unwilling to recognize the need, or unable to afford treatment. In homes with high religiosity in particular, the need for intervention is often denied. Just pray it away, in other words.

During the recent economic downturns, local mental health facilities have seen their budgets decimated. I reached a point in which my clients could only be seen at the County Mental Health for medication if they had a formal diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Never mind that the most dangerous disorder (to my clients) was depression. At one time, I had six clients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Each had some tendencies towards paranoia, however, they were able to function, to a point. Not one was violent, and studies show that even at the height of a delusional phase, most persons with schizophrenia do not have violent tendencies. Our biggest risk for violence is for persons under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Of course, six clients is not enough to be representative of anything, however, there are numerous studies and meta-analyses that will bear this out.

I am sure that as the days unfold, that we will discover more and more about the young man who shot the Congresswoman and others. I just think we need to step back before we make statements of fact before we know them. What we do know, is that we can be certain that this was politically motivated (law enforcement has said that they have evidence that Congresswoman Giffords was the target) although we have no idea if the shooter was a member of any group or party. My bias is that he was probably a right-wing extremist or at least attracted to that rhetoric, mainly because I have yet to hear a progressive or a Democrat use gun imagery or language, or suggest that their opponents should die, or have their followers show up at events wearing guns. Just sayin.

What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

UPDATED: Sarah Palin Can Now Check Off One Of The Gun Sights On Her Map

As of this time, Congresswoman Giffords of Arizona is out of surgery and doctors are "very optimistic" for her recovery as she was communicating with her medical team. A nine-year-old child has died, as well as a federal judge. According to the Sheriff's Department, a total of 18 people were injured in the shooting this morning at a constituent meeting event held by Congresswoman Giffords.

It should be noted, that Sarah Palin and others on Fox News should reserve their false condolences, particularly as this image and similar comments have been, immediately, removed from websites.

Image: Courtesy of SarahPAC
 Please note the 4th name on the left-hand column.

On her Facebook page, Sarah Palin said of the shooting, [emphasis added]

"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."

The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

This image may have been removed from her website, however, it should be distributed thoroughly around the web so that anyone who may have missed it, see it.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.


Congresswoman Giffords opponent placed this ad prior to the election:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back to Work & Looking Forward

Image: 38minutes

I apologize for the absence of any new posts for a couple of weeks. I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday and managed to get where you wanted to go and survive any weather in the process.

I was traveling, by car, and my 3G network was more often 1G in remote areas where I spent most of my time. I found that often, high-speed wireless offered in hotels is more like dial-up, so my ability to access the net was severely limited.

So, we start a new year and a new Congress. I think we are in for some truly interesting times and I look forward to continued discussions of the antics of Sarah Palin, the Republicans, and the punditry and villagers who try to tell us what to think.

I was struck yesterday by a comment made by Michele Bachmann in which she said (and I paraphrase) that the classes that she was organizing for the House to teach them the Constitution would enhance their purpose, which was to learn and study the Constitution each week while in session. Funny. I would expect that my representatives already have a good understanding of the Constitution and quite frankly, their purpose is not to learn and study the Constitution, but rather to apply it. Their job is to legislate, which means write law. Period.

Justice Scalia is in the news today for his comments about the Constitution, particularly his thoughts on the equality of women (not in the Constitution in his opinion). He is noted for saying that being a justice is easy, because the Constitution is so easy to understand and apply. Makes me wonder why we need him.

Keith Olbermann noted on his show tonight that progressives are actually quite pleased that the Republicans have decided to read the Constitution into the Congressional Record. Perhaps by reading it out loud, they will discover those amendments that they try to ignore (or perhaps do not even know) and also discover where they are wrong.

Still trying to get caught up so may be a little light on the posts for a bit, but I'm sure there will be no shortage of topics to discuss.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Study Shows Fox Viewers Most Likely to Believe Misinformation

This may not be a surprise to anyone, but I appreciate when scientific studies support what I have always thought to be true. A study recently completed by World Public Opinion based at the University of Maryland found that voters are misinformed at a substantial level and that Fox News viewers in particular, are most likely to believe misinformation. After the Citizens United decision which enabled corporate contributions to political campaigns to increase, the researchers wanted to discover whether the level of misinformation disseminated to voters had increased and if so, whether or not it was effective (to be effective, it must be believed).

Image: jugbo

Some of the results are remarkable. I know that I stopped watching network broadcasts because most of what I was hearing was either incorrect, incomplete, or slanted in favor of the Republicans, but unless people are willing to devote a lot of time to the quest for information, cable or network news is probably their best best for political news. Using data gathered by government agencies who are generally believed to be non-partisan, questions about issues of the day were asked.

A few findings include:

  • Though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the stimulus legislation has saved or created 2.0-5.2 million jobs, only 8% of voters thought most economists who had studied it concluded that the stimulus legislation had created or saved several million jobs. Most (68%) believed that economists estimate that it only created or saved a few jobs and 20% even believed that it resulted in job losses.
  • Though the CBO concluded that the health reform law would reduce the budget deficit, 53% of voters thought most economists have concluded that health reform will increase the deficit.
  • Though the Department of Commerce says that the US economy began to recover from recession in the third quarter of 2009 and has continued to grow since then, only 44% of voters thought the economy is starting to recover, while 55% thought the economy is still getting worse.
  • Though the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that climate change is occurring, 45% of voters thought most scientists think climate change is not occurring (12%) or that scientists are evenly divided (33%).
For people who watched Fox News, the results were to be expected. They were:
  • 12 points more likely to believe that the stimulus bill caused job losses
  • 31 points more likely to believe that the health care law would worsen the deficit
  • 26 points more likely to believe that the economy is getting worse
  • 30 points more likely to believe that there is no climate change occurring
  • 14 points more likely to believe that the stimulus bill did not contain any tax cuts
  • 14 points more likely to believe that their own income taxes have increased [we actually paid the lowest amount in 60 years]
  • 13 points more likely to believe that the auto bailout was an Obama initiative
  • 12 points more likely to believe that most of the Republicans were against TARP
  • 31 points more likely to believe that Obama was not born in the U.S.
The most remarkable point above, is not the distance between what a Fox News viewer is likely to believe compared to someone who receives their news from other sources, but that party identification did not seem to matter. Democrats were just as likely to believe misinformation if they were regular Fox viewers.

When the results of this study were released, Fox News senior vice president for news Michael Clemente responded by stating that the University of Maryland was highly ranked as a school for Students Who Study the Least, and being the Best Party School (it is actually one of the highest ranked state universities in the east) and therefore, "...given these fine academic distinctions, we’ll regard the study with the same level of veracity it was ‘researched’ with..." It should be noted, that rather than dispute the findings of the study, Fox chose to attack the study itself. This is a classic strawman fallacy as Clemente creates something to attack to deflect attention from the issue.

I see as I finish this that Countdown did a segment on this report and I've seen a few tweets about it, but the whole article is well worth a read. I didn't think it would get this much attention or I would probably not have written this, but it's nice to have something I've believed validated by scientific research.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Liz Cheney Demands President Do...What He Is Doing

Liz, Liz, Liz. Every time you go on the Sunday talks, you say something breathtakingly stupid and I get to write another post suggesting, again, that you give it up and go home. I have no idea why you are given air time, but considering the state of news in this country -- and I mean the networks as well as Fox -- there is not much useful said on Sunday mornings (or weekday evenings for that matter). I have studied, among other things, history, political science, economics, psychology, all of the schools, theories, and techniques of counseling, am considered a qualified witness on the ADA, and followed politics in this country since Richard Nixon. I was even a Navy wife. Do I feel qualified to judge President Obama's decisions on Afghanistan? I believe I have as much education and experience in the work world as you (we were both mid-level managers of comparably sized units in the public sector), plus I was actually a military wife. But, no. I have an opinion rooted in my pacifism, but if I were invited to appear on a talk show to discuss defense policy, I would have to respectfully decline. Nor am I qualified to discuss decisions made in my father's field despite many, many dinner-table conversations. But, you've learned how to make a living trying to whitewash your father's history, so I am sure you will continue to present yourself as a foreign policy, terrorism expert.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday today, you inserted both feet into your mouth when you angrily demanded that President Obama do exactly...what he is doing.
After giving your oh so thoughtful approval for his visit to the troops, you said: [emphasis added]
"You know, what I'd like to see-because I do believe that setting the 2011 deadline did cause significant damage to the effort, in terms of convincing people that we're committed to be there to win-I'd like to see the president repudiate it. I'd like to see him say, "Just let's be clear: We are going to make our decisions based on conditions on the ground, not based on dates we set back here in Washington."
"...It's important for the Pakistanis to hear that as well, so that they understand it is not in their interest at all to help to support, provide safe havens to the extent that the Taliban has safe havens in Pakistan. That message is a critically important one, and I'd like to see the president say "conditions-based," not just "deadline set."
What is interesting, is that although I personally would prefer that the President bring the troops home, I understand that he is trying to clean up your father's messes. Typical of the extremist right, you have just plucked words out of the air to create an argument, the support for your argument, and the necessary actions to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

On August 31, 2010, President Obama gave a speech in which he said: [emphasis added]
"... next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: This transition will begin-because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's."
Discussing the additional troops that he was sending, he said: [emphasis added]
"...these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground."
I think most of us would like all of the troops to come home, and the money that is being spent instead go to restore social programs here in this country and pay back the debt incurred by your father and George W. But, your father wanted war and along with W, ignored Bin Laden to go settle a grudge and start a war that had been planned since the early 1990's. Then, realizing their mistake, moved into Afghanistan and tried to solve the problems that we created. So you don't like how things are going? Neither do I. But next time, pay attention before opening your mouth. You look foolish.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon. (h/t Media Matters)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Me, Me, Me! It's All About Me! Look At Me! Me!

If this were a television show, the ratings would be huge, we'd all make sure we were sitting there on our Barcaloungers each week, popcorn in hand, waiting for the next episode of the Sarah Palin Me, Me, Me show. Everything out of her mouth contradicts not only what she said a day, week, month, or year before, but often contradicts what she has said several sentences before. Unfortunately for all of us, it is not a television show. This is our life as we watch our country disintegrate around us and the ignorant folk who have previously always felt somewhat ashamed of their high school or community college only education, or lack of a high-powered, important career, can now wave signs and be somebody because, hey, ignorance is cool!

Please don't get me wrong. I have nothing against people without advanced degrees or any degree at all for that matter. In fact, I was that person with a GED and some college who managed to rise to a mid-level management job, then take those skills and run two successful small businesses for a number of years before I was finally able to attend college and get through graduate school. It would have been better had I led a more conventional life as I have discovered in this economy that most employers consider self-employment for women worthless, and when offered young brand new graduates without experience or older brand new graduates with all kinds of experience but not a lot in their new field, they invariably pick the young ones. Whatever. My point, is that I am not including myself in any particular group, but I am comfortable saying that many people--including, I would imagine, many Palin supporters--are secretly jealous of those who were able to attend really good schools, earn professional degrees, and privately ashamed that they don't understand all of the nuances of economics, foreign affairs, or even national or state politics because of their lack of education. That particular attitude drives me crazy, because people psych themselves out of learning these things because of their lack of formal education. I have been involved in politics for years, and well understood nuance because I took the trouble to educate myself about issues I cared about.

Then, along comes someone like Sarah Palin. Out for the main chance, angry at the world (why, we don't know), who somehow manages to be in the right place at the right time. Defensive because she is put in a position of looking ignorant (and excuse me, a governor who climbs on a state airplane to fly to a conference or meeting and takes as her reading matter a People magazine rather than a briefing book has no excuse) and exhibits her one strong talent. Turning her negatives into positives and convincing people with a wink and a sparkle, a twitch of the mini, that up is down and left is right. One wonders what she will do when plastic surgery is, inevitably, no longer an option? Her appeal is emotional, not logical, and thus extremely difficult to counteract.

The funny thing about emotions and feelings is that they don't always make sense. We've been taught to understand that feelings don't have to make sense, they just are. This is true, but a bit simplistic. Depression just "is," as is anger, fear, and in some, paranoia and panic. Sure, there are often reasons, but not always reasons that we can understand. These are all emotions that are natural and normal, part of the human condition, but can also be destructive if they interfere with the function of everyday life. Fortunately, we know how to treat these feelings and help people manage them in such a way as to live a better life. That said, because we understand how to help people manage them, we also know how to manipulate them. Great salespeople learn how to work their contact to close the deal, and believe me, psychology is integral to the workings of a good salesperson. Politicians learn how to discover what people want, and make sure they say what people want to hear. If you listen carefully, most pols rarely actually answer a question, but rather answer something else that will get out the message that is important to them in that moment in time. People trained to receive information in short bursts but who have not been trained to be critical thinkers, will often, especially if they like the politician, feel as if someone is finally listening to them.Their good impression of the speaker is reinforced because, hey, they listened to me, they answered me, they care about me.

When we make a decision based on emotion, it is not usually a good one, but it is always a decision that we become attached to on a personal level, so let go of with difficulty. Sarah Palin works these emotions to bring people to her side, and keep them there. Her use of Facebook notes to communicate her rants--and that's what they are--allows her followers to feel as if they are part of something because they can comment. The fact that negative comments are deleted immediately tells those whose comments are retained that they have been approved for membership into this club, which reinforces their belief that if they are special, then she is special. It is a mutual admiration society that unfortunately, is one-sided. Sarah Palin does not care about her followers. They are useful to her, but if she truly cared, then she would be concerned about actually making their lives better.

How do I know that she does not care about making their lives better? Her record. It's not secret. She left her job of mayor with the town millions of dollars further in debt than when she started. She had barely been elected when she spent $50,000 to redecorate her office (and she claims to love second-hand clothes). As governor, when villagers were having to make choices between food or freezing to death, rather than declare an emergency, she took them cookies (and took the cookies to a different village so that she would not have to actually face those who were desperate). Rather than focus on the job of governing, she spent her time retaliating against those who bad-mouthed her. Journalists who asked her basic questions, that should be expected for anyone running for office, especially national office, were accused of attacking her and she retains that vendetta to this day.

Most disturbing, is that in the rise of the astroturfed tea-party movement, she caters to their anti-government mood by deriding the government--especially the President--at every opportunity. Never mind that she has nothing useful to contribute, every event must receive a comment from her. Every action taken by the President receives a "gentle" chiding on what he should have done or what she would have done in his place. In her latest book, "America By Heart," she tells people that everyone needs a "First Dude." She says that had they won the 2008 election, she would not have balanced anything [family and job] because had they won, they [she and Todd] would have done the White House like they did everything else, as a team.  She still thinks that she lost the election to President Obama. I hate to be the one to tell her, but she did not. Sen. McCain lost the election. She may well have been a contributing factor, but she was really just along for the ride and actually, would have lived in the Naval Observatory, not the White House. I could go on and on, and on, but you get the point.

Lately, I think that she may have turned a corner and gone too far. It is one thing to be critical of  policy decisions whether she understands them or not. People understand that she is planning to run for president in 2012 and that she is building up a library of media sound bytes for the campaign, and floating trial policy balloons. What she is doing lately, however, is attacking people. I think most of her followers understand and expect her to attack the President on a personal level, after all, she has them convinced, with the help of Fox News, that all of the criticism she receives are personal attacks against her. The media criticizes Bristol, or rather, the actions of Sarah Palin's followers in regards to Bristol, and therefore, it is open season on Sasha and Meliah Obama. Never mind that Sasha and Melia are young children and Bristol is 20. Never mind that she is a "teen advocate" who has made a number of public appearances which to me, denotes a, I don't know, public figure? I'm not sure why she is also personally attacking Michelle Obama, but she has done that in the past, in fact, she is recycling attacks from the 2008 campaign, probably because there is nothing else to say. The difference between her children and the Obama children is immense, but she cannot see it.

Sarah Palin has this ability to conflate issues to support her opinions. Politicians take campaign photos that include their families for a brochure or maybe a commercial, and take them onstage when they declare victory (or defeat), so to Sarah, this is exactly the same as her trotting her children to every campaign event, speaking engagement, or book signing that she attends. As governor, she got into trouble because she insisted on her family attending every event that she did, and in fact, photos of, for example, visiting trade delegations include attendees in appropriate business attire, Sarah in jeans and a windbreaker, and Piper. Very, very few official photos did not include Piper. One wonders if that child ever attended school. We know she did occasionally rather than being home-schooled from the questions she was asked by reporters on the campaign trail. When questions arose about Trigg, she immediately announced that her unmarried, underage daughter was pregnant, then forced her to sit on stage and endure a level of attention that was likely extremely humiliating (remember your teens?).It is not wonder that her detractors accuse her of using her children as props to deflect attention from her flaws or attract attention to her as the perfect mother. Props they are.

Her latest, and purely to pander to her supporters, is another attack on government overreach and intrusion by "the Feds" as she likes to call them. Teabags are anti-government, so gosh-darn-it, every time the government does anything, Sarah Palin will attack. Michelle Obama is well-known for advocating against childhood obesity and for better diets for all, Sarah Palin has chosen to attack Michelle Obama in her most recent book:
"Take her anti-obesity thing that she’s on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat. And..and..and I know I’m going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track."
What is amusing, is that while governor, she was not entirely useless. Probably little more than a talking head, as she was when she claimed to be a journalist, in her State of the State speech in 2009, Sarah Palin said: [emphasis added]
"Protecting good health is largely a matter of personal responsibility, but government policy can help."
Chef Kurt Michael Friese responded to the exchange with one of the best comments that I've heard:
"You see, Mrs. Palin, contrary to what President Reagan once said, government is not the problem, nor is it the solution. Government is a tool, like a hammer. And like a hammer it can be used by people to build things up or tear things down. I would choose the former, and you would choose to throw the hammer out the window."
Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Someone, Please Explain the Pentagon Papers to Sarah Palin

As we know, about 250,000 diplomatic cables have been released by Wikileaks to five major newspapers in the US and Europe. It should be noted that months have been spent reviewing these cables to establish standards for publication between the papers prior to receipt of the materials, and the governments involved were notified months in advance what would be included in the "dump" so that they might do any damage control. By the way, Glenn Greenwald over at Salon has been keeping a list of persons killed as a result of any of the (now) three information dumps and has come up with a total of zero. Full disclosure, I have really mixed feelings about this, but the point of this post is not the actual information leak itself, but rather Sarah Palin and her reaction.

Sarah Palin has, once again, inserted herself into this conversation. God forbid that a significant (or not so significant) issue occur without her having an opinion, and whether it has anything to do with him or not, attack President Obama. Certainly the cables do refer to his administration, and the Bush Administration, the Clinton Administration, and actually go back to 1965 in some cases. What has been reviewed so far appears primarily to be on the order of embarrassing rather than dangerous. But, Sarah Palin never one to miss an opportunity to badmouth the President, and more importantly, put herself forward, blames him for the leak and the release of the information.

The tweet?
“Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book “America by Heart” from being leaked,but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?”

What she probably should do is get a dictionary and look up treason, leak, and inexplicable. It wouldn't hurt, seeing as how she has published two books in the past year, to review copyright law. I know she claims that she will never, ever, ever speak to Katie Couric again, but on the off chance that she runs for public office again which appears highly likely, and she is asked about her favorite Supreme Court decisions, or one she disagrees with, she could go learn about 403 US 731 (1971) New York Times Co. v United States. This is more commonly known as the case of the Pentagon Papers. The issue? Prior restraint. The government tried to prevent the New York Times from publishing documents reporting the results of a study on the decision making process related to the Vietnam conflict. The 1st Amendment, that pesky little amendment that Sarah Palin seems to be confused about (remember, on Oct. 30, 2008, she complained that her first amendment rights were being violated by media attacks on her). She, of the journalism degree that makes her the final word in what is "good journalism," seems not to understand that the first amendment is simply protection of the media from the government and at the time, she was pretty definitely the government.

Ezra Klien of the Washington Post, speaking on The Last Word on MSNBC, said, in referring to her tweets about Wikileaks, that he found it fascinating " small Sarah Palin's reaction is to this."

One of the best analyses I've read today about this reaction is from Sarah Jones at PoliticsUSA, writing WikiSqueaks: Sarah Palin's Incoherently Dangerous Wikileaks Criticism. Italics is Sarah Palin.

Responding to Sarah Palin's demand that President Obama do something to protect our soldiers, and blaming him completely for not averting the dump in the first place, Sarah Jones says:

"Not only is Wikileaks is hosted in Sweden where, I feel duty bound to point out, the President of the US does not have sovereignty as of yet and where it is impossible to commit treason against this country unless one is a US citizen residing in Sweden, but also, as Ms Palin must be aware (given her recent claim to a journalism degree that qualified her to discredit all American media save Fox News) there’s that pesky Pentagon Papers ruling"[sic]
"We are at war. American soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting to protect our freedoms. They are serious about keeping America safe. It would be great if they could count on their government being equally serious about that vital task.”
"Ms Palin is charging the Obama administration with neglecting national security on purpose, implying that he is anti-American, as she did during the 2008 campaign. And that must sting the President, coming as it does from a person married to a once-registered secessionist..."
It isn’t that she doesn’t know the law, it’s that she doesn’t care to know the law. It isn’t that she assumes dictator like powers as President, it’s that she has already proven in Alaska that she governs with reckless abandon for the law. This is the person quoted as saying to the Wasilla City Council leader, “’I'm the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.”
 I've been working on several things today unrelated to news and politics, but I kept TweetDeck open all day and popped in and out when something caught my eye. Everyone has written about this issue, most weighing in on whether or not they agreed with the release of the documents. Most of the discussion seems to be about the damage that may or may not have been done, and the next dump which is reputed to be bank information. The cluelessness of Sarah Palin puts an amusing coda on the subject, but also is very frightening. Although in the middle of the piece, this paragraph from Ms. Jones piece, is I believe, the most important point: (emphasis added)
"And this is where the real trouble begins. Are we to believe that in Ms Palin’s America, she would assume the right to shut down any blog, paper, or freedom of information act organization she disliked by claiming they were a threat to national security (and the troops)? Would it be asking too much for American citizens to get more information on Ms Palin’s understanding of the fine tightrope between transparency and security, court precedent and a general understanding of the balance of power inherent in our government? Does Ms Palin think Americans are entitled to hear her discuss these complicated issues on a regular news outlet at some point, as the rest of our lawmakers and leaders do?"
thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.