Saturday, December 28, 2013

Whew

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.
k

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.
k

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.
k

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.
k

UPDATE:

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.
k

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.
k

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)
k

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.
k

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 "...how 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.
k

Sunday, November 21, 2010

16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe & the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them

Sarah Seltzer at AlterNet writes 16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe -- And the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them. I have written a bit, as have many others, on this phenomenon and the GOP media machine that makes these lies successful, but this is an excellent article that illustrates exactly what the problem is, and why. [emphasis added]

"Americans are often misinformed, occasionally downright dumb, and easily misled by juicy-sounding rumors. But while the right wing is taking full advantage of this reality, the Left worries that calling out lies is "rude."

"Remember when Congressman Joe Wilson stood up during Obama’s State of the Union address and shouted “You lie”? He was chastised soundly by the pundit class. But mostly he drew heat for being impolite, and was compared to Kanye West and other famous interrupters."
"Revisiting Wilson's foolish tirade underscores the state of our upside-down political world. Wilson shouted “you lie” in the face of truth, but President Obama is hesitant to speak up when he’s being slandered with bald, glaring untruths...It feels like no one with a loud enough megaphone has the courage to call a spade a spade, or more accurately a lie a lie."
[...]
  • "Polling data during and after last week’s midterm elections suggested that many Americans genuinely believe President Obama has raised their taxes -- even though the reality is that our president actually lowered them for most of us. This means that people trust pundits like Rush Limbaugh, a major force behind spreading that lie, over the numbers on their own tax returns."
  • "Another recent phenomenon? Half of new Congressmen don’t believe in the reality of global warming. It’s not that they don’t just disagree on the source or the severity of the problem. They flat out don’t think the world is getting warmer--despite the evidence outside their windows."
  • "The new Congress will probably try to restore millions of dollars of funding for scientifically inaccurate, largely disastrous abstinence-only curriculum in schools, many of which have been shown to spread lies like "condoms don't work" and "abortion causes cancer." 
  • "News outlets picked up a wildly inflated and completely outlandish claim from an Indian blog that Obama’s trip abroad cost $200 million a day--and listeners have swallowed it. (In this case, the White House flat-out denied it.)"
"The scary thing is, these kinds of rumors have a way of taking root in the popular consciousness. Just as the election season began heating up earlier this year, Newsweek published a list of “Dumb Things Americans Believe.” While some of them are garden-variety lunacy, a surprising number are lies that were fed to Americans by our leaders on the far-Right. This demonstrates that media-fed lies can easily become ingrained in the collective memory if they’re not countered quickly and surely. Newsweek’s list included the following 12 statistics taken from recent and semi-recent polls and surveys. The first half are directly related to right-wing rumormongering."
  • "Nearly one-fifth of Americans think Obama is a Muslim. Thanks, Fox news, for acting like this was a matter of opinion, not fact."
  • "25 percent of Americans don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution while less than 40 percent do. Consider the fact that several of our newly elected officials, specifically newly elected Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, share that belief."
  • "Earlier this year, nearly 40 percent of Americans still believed the Sarah Palin-supported lie about "death panels" being included in health care reform."
  • "As of just a few years ago, about half of Americans still suspected a connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11, a lie that was reinforced by none other than Dick Cheney."
  • "While a hefty amount of this demonstrable cluelessness gets better as the respondents get younger, all is not well in the below-30 demographic. A majority of “young Americans” cannot identify Iraq or Afghanistan--the places their peers are fighting and dying--on a map."
  • "Two out of five Americans, despite the whole separation of church and state being a foundation of our democracy thing, think teachers should be able to lead prayer in classrooms. So it seems those right-wingers clamoring to tear down the wall between church and state aren’t the only ones who don’t know their constitutional principles."
  • "Many Americans still believe in witchcraft, ESP and other supernatural phenomena. Does that explain why Christine O’Donnell was so quick to deny her “dabbling”?"
  • "Speaking of antiquated religious beliefs, about a decade ago, 20 percent of Americans still believed that the sun revolves around the earth. That's just sad, considering that even the Vatican has let Galileo off the hook for being right."
  • "Only about half of Americans realize that Judaism is the oldest of the three monotheistic religions. Other examples of wild misunderstanding about religion and the separation of church and state can be found in this fall’s Pew survey on Americans’ religious knowledge."
  • "This one made a huge splash when it appeared. In 2006 more Americans were able to name two of the “seven dwarves” than two of the Supreme Court justices. And that was before Kagan and Sotomayor showed up. To be fair, Happy and Sleepy are easy to remember."
  • "More Americans can identify the Three Stooges than the three branches of government--you know, the ones who are jockeying over our welfare."
[...]
“...by a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie.”
[...]
"Blaming Americans for being ignorant unwashed masses--or taking potshots at an education system that doesn’t teach critical thinking-- would be the easy answer to this conundrum."
"But the reality is that if messaging has such a big effect on Americans, then messaging matters. Folks on our end have to counter the lies with well-told, unabashed unironic, truth-telling. And we have to demand that our media, and our politicians, call out the other side. As Perlstein notes, “When one side breaks the social contract, and the other side makes a virtue of never calling them out on it, the liar always wins. When it becomes 'uncivil' to call out liars, lying becomes free.”
"Even worse, once lies begin to spread, they become more than rumors--they become permanent beliefs."

This is an extremely critical subject and one that we cannot ignore. The 2012 presidential race has already begun and will begin moving quickly after the first of the year. Please do go read the rest of this article and learn these points. The GOPhers have an excellent media machine and have trained Americans to listen to buzzwords and sound-bytes. If that is the way people listen, then it is important that we be able to respond in kind. Use this information to talk to your friends and relatives, write letters to the editor, tweet or post to Facebook. When the GOPhers lie, we must continue to call them out and respond with the truth.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.
k

Just for Fun. How Many of These Have You Read?

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Copy this list. Because of formatting issues (the instructions are to bold, but too tedious in a comment), delete those you have not read. Put an asterisk next to those that you have started but not finished or read an excerpt of. If you'd like to see how you compare (although this is NOT a contest!) feel free to copy and paste into a comment. Think there is a book that should be on this list but is not? Note that in the comments, too. I'm always curious to see what others' think are great books

I have added my list to a comment if anyone is interested. Kind of fun to see


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
Harry Potter series - J. K. Rowling 
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller 
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier 
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger 
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell 
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald 
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams  
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame 
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy  
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens 
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen 
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen 
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres 
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne 
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert  
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons 
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov  
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Lame
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas  
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac 
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville 
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens  
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker 
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce 
76 The Inferno - Dante  
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome 
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray 
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White 
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad 
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams  
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole 
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare 
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.
k

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Inevitable Bursting of Sarah Palin's Media Bubble - I Hope

I am tempted to insert the entire post from Politics USA: The Inevitable Bursting of Sarah Palin's Media Bubble written today by Sarah Jones. Please go read it in its entirety as it is one of the best I have seen on the subject of Sarah Palin's newest book and her relationship with the media.

Although the book is not due to be published until next week, several pages have been "leaked" and posted on Palingates and elsewhere. It should be noted that publishers release portions of books expected to generate a lot of interest in order to generate buzz and increase first day sales. Starting out at the top of the NY Times bestseller list is always a goal. On a side note, Sarah posted this tweet, clearly demonstrating her misunderstanding of copyright law, fair use law, and the First Amendment.

Yes Sarah, it is absolutely legal. Gawker also wrote at length about the excerpts as well as the ongoing controversy about Bristol and Dancing with the Stars, and she, in response to their posting pages from her book, and their "attacks" on her family, sent out this tweet:
This tweet was taken down almost immediately, but as she has yet to learn, the internet is forever.
Sarah Jones notes that Sarah Palin appears to be stuck in the past, 2008 to be specific. She uses race to attack the President, and remarkably, Michelle and Meliah Obama as well.
"Anyone who is surprised by this has not been paying attention. Sarah Palin is the great divider, a lowest common denominator among an already low-brow movement of proud to be ignorant, pseudo-rebellious anarchists who are super angry about the democratic process which renounced them in 2008."
Jones discusses how Palin has been talking about Reverend Wright, the supposed lack of qualifications of Obama, and other issues that have been thoroughly put to rest by anyone but her.
"None of these strategies worked in 2008 and beating these dusty memes only makes Palin look like the emotional retrograde she is, still clinging to her wounds from 2008 and sure that if enough people hear her, they will denounce Obama. Ms Palin is unaware that in real America, blatant racism doesn’t play well. And she is also unaware that our President and his family are too self-disciplined to even acknowledge her embarrassingly juvenile attempts to engage them."
[...]

"...Palin will not know what hit her because she is still stuck in 2008, seething with jealousy and outrage that she lost to a black man.

And this is why race will be her “issue”.

Palin is going to run for President, and this is how she will do it. Why? Because she has nothing else..."
Palin is the ultimate martyr and victim flashing a bit of thigh, appealing to the KKK type crowd.
"So Sarah Palin’s campaign has already begun and it will consist of trashy, unspeakable things that will hurt your soul, pain your heart and make you question the sanity of your country. And when no one pushes back hard enough against her outrageous claims (they will debunk the lie, but fail to expose the projection), you will find yourself curling up into a ball of horror at what your country has become."
 She limits herself to venues that are supportive, and reporters that let her set the tone, not believing that no one will let her get away with that should she run for President in 2012. She claims that being on Fox everyday gives her "exposure" not realizing that:
"Exposure is what celebrities do. It is not the same thing as taking questions and talking policy, in other words, interacting in live time with the fourth estate. Neither Facebook nor Twitter nor Fox are vehicles for the fourth estate to do their job. As a supposed journalism major (in spite of the fact that no one at her last college remembers her and we have not been gifted with proof of her degree), Palin should have at least cursory knowledge of the job of a reporter. Not many on Fox PAC will ever be accused of being a reporter. Twitter is not a reporter. Facebook is not a reporter."
Providing some well-earned criticism to the mainstream media, Jones notes that:
"While they will still miss the larger points, they’ve had time to get to know Palin’s reputation for lies and they will not want to be humiliated again. The press scrutiny of the VP candidate is nothing compared to the scrutiny she will face as the top of the ticket. If Sarah Palin thought the media was cruel to her when they asked her what she read, wait until they ask her why she lied about not having healthcare, about Troopergate, about the AIP connections, about Death Panels, the people who died under her administration or about her belief that Iraq bordered America"

Her conclusion is a direct message to Sarah, and indirectly to the media. It is one that I hope the media heeds, although I will not hold my breath.
"And that’s not even the juicy bits. Welcome to 2012, Ms Palin. If you insist upon bringing your scourge of hate upon this country, don’t think we’re going to sit back and take it like we did in 2008. Buckle up, sweetie. The spotlight is on you, where you’ve always wanted it, but I’m not sure you’re going to like it. Your dreams of stardom may well turn into a nightmare. You are about to learn what it feels like to be attacked for real."
Please do read the entire post here.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.
k

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Liz Cheney At It Again. Successful Trial Dangerous & Shows Weakness?

 Image: leftwingnutjob

A verdict was reached in the case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani on Wednesday. Charged with 285 counts related to the embassy bombings, he was acquitted on all but one, destruction of government property. This verdict will net him 20 years in federal prison, so we can say that any potential terrorist activities that he might be planning to engage in will not happen--at least not with him. The other big piece of news associated with this case, is that New York City did not shut down as a result of this trial. No road closures, no major security issues, and no terrorist attacks resulting from attempts to free Ghailani. Despite the outrage from the right, a satisfactory conclusion--one of about 400--was reached in a civilian court after the trial of a Guantanamo prisoner. How many convictions have been the result of military tribunals, the preferred method of the right? Five. Back on her little soapbox, Liz Cheney rants that families of the victims claim the trial was a "travesty." This is the same Liz who demands that President Obama support the intelligence community that her father tried so hard to co-opt and then damage when they had the nerve to refute his allegations.The same Liz whose organization, "Keep America Safe" is designed to instill fear in all of us in an effort to burnish her father's legacy.

According to Daphne Eviatar, Human Rights First's Human Rights Law and Security Program: Ahmed Ghailani Verdict Makes the Case for Federal Courts posted in Huffington Post, the results do not appear to matter. Liz, her partner Bill Kristol, and others, are having a hissy fit that they did not get their way, that the deeply flawed policies of her father's administration and the war that they lied us into have been brought out into the open and so have to create drama where none exists. Her father set up a system of military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo, primarily so that illegal practices could continue to be hidden. The current administration, however, has decided to hold these trials in civilian courts as they should be. Liz is quoted as saying:
"The Obama Administration recklessly insisted on a civilian trial for Ahmed Ghailani, and rolled the dice in a time of war. It's dangerous. It signals weakness in a time of war."
Don't you love how she insists on holding to her position regardless of the facts? The trial is over, the defendant was found guilty, he is unlikely to ever be released from prison, the rule of law has been, once again, found to work, and yet, "...it's dangerous" and "...signals weakness."

With the attention today of TSA screening policies that now require either a full scan or a full pat-down, something that the head of El-Al security (the most secure airline in the world) claims is unnecessary, the GOP placement of defense spending in the sacrosanct column, and the inability Liz and others on the right to recognize the success of the Obama Administration in preventing terrorist attacks (the Christmas Day bomber, the recent packages detected prior to their arrival in this country...) it is remarkable to me that people continue to give credence and airtime to this woman or to this subject. What the policies of the Bush/Cheney administration and the demands of Liz and her ilk do accomplish is give the terrorists exactly what they want. The goal of terror is to create a climate of fear. The primary tool of the GOP? Fear. Liz's goal? Fear. I would say that in a significant way, mission accomplished.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.
k