Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.The four men are not likely to be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said."

New York Times: "In an apparent targeted killing, two police officers were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon by a man who later fatally shot himself in head, police officials said."

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Friday
Dec092011

December 9 -- Plan B

New York Times: "President Obama, who took office pledging to put science ahead of politics, averted a skirmish with conservatives in the nation’s culture wars on Thursday by endorsing his health secretary’s decision to block over-the-counter sales of an after-sex contraceptive pill to girls under age 17." Here's Obama's rationale:

And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect.  And I think most parents would probably feel the same way.

The President made remarks at a mini-press conference yesterday before the regular press briefing. He begins speaking about Plan B at about 6:15 minutes in:

A few of us discussed this briefly in yesterday's thread. There's room for more than one opinion on this. What do you think?


P.S. Speaking of women's issues, my column in yesterday's New York Times eXaminer is titled "Women Need Not Apply." The front page of the NYTX is here. (My column in today NYTX is on Our Mister Brooks' latest.)

Reader Comments (24)

@ Then don't make it an OTC sale item. Obama must live a very sheltered life. In my small West Coast city any kid who really wants to can get any drug he or she desires. From their parents or friends parents. That's about a half a joke. Kids fuck before they know they're fucking these days. Plants grow through concrete; try and stop'em. Education; sex, science, and social, is the only hope for non-planned conceptions. As my father would say as I headed out the door on a Friday night; "Five minutes of pleasure, a life time of regret. And if you can get it to last more than five minutes; tell me."

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

To get the background on this exchange, you'll have to read Karen Garcia's blogpost on Obama's Osawatomie speech & the comments that follow in which a commenter attacks Kate Madison and me twice, calling us "Stockholm Syndrome Sisters" and questioning our psychological stability. In her last comment, Valerie Long Tweedie wrote:

Let's go back and read what I wrote in an earlier comment, shall we?

Valerie wrote, "OMG! I just went over to the Times comments - in search of Karen's comment. What a bunch of brain-dead simpletons! Have they been awake at all in the last three years? Clearly not! Aside from Karen, there was only one comment suggesting that THESE WERE JUST WORDS WRITTEN BY A SPEECHWRITER!"

Marie,

How you took that as a crack at you - especially since you are boycotting the comment section of the NYTimes - is beyond me. While you are going to vote for Obama in 2012 from a pragmatic point of view, I have found you to be quite critical of Obama and his actions – or lack of actions - over these past three years. I wasn't under the impression that you swallowed his speech "hook, line and sinker." Rather, I assumed, maybe wrongly, that you thought that his speech was a step in the right direction and that we should be encouraging Obama for this slight swerve to the left. I also assumed you realised that Obama didn't pen the words he spoke himself, but rather they were written by a speech writer.

My words were directed at the bots who believe Obama has turned over a new leaf (as indicated by this one speech) and that the poor guy is a victim of a Republican Congress. As my best friend assures me, once Obama is free of re-election concerns, he will lead the country as the true progressive leader he is – deep down inside. This kind of drivel dominated the first 25 comments – which was about as far as I was willing to read.

I have to wonder why you would assume that my words were directed at you and take personal offence.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Garcia was willing to post a response from Madison, but she refused to publish my responses to another person who called Madison and me "Stockholm Syndrome Sisters" and women who had psychological problems. Therefore, I'm publishing my responses to (1) that commenter (2) and Valerie Long Tweedie here:

(1) @ Will. It's one thing to call me names because you don't know any better. It's quite another to call someone who hasn't even commented in this thread a "Stockholm Syndrome Sister" & accuse her of having psychological problems. If you are personally acquainted with Madison -- which I seriously doubt -- then making such a comment is beyond cruel, and to my knowledge wholly inaccurate. (I do know Madison personally.) If you do not know Madison, then making such comments about her and me (I'm sure you don't know me) is simply your way of saying, "I don't know how to make a cogent argument, so I'm going to attack the messenger." Any 8th-grade can do that. Most of the commenters on Sardonicky are a lot smarter than that. Perhaps you haven't found your niche. There are a lot of sites where hurling names at strangers is de rigeur. This didn't used to be one.

Were I Garcia, I would not have allowed such vitriolic ad hominem attacks about a private person on my Website. The fact that Madison is not even participating in the thread only makes the attacks more inappropriate. This is not a good day for Sardonicky.


(2) @ Valerie. Among the first 25 comments to the editorial you cite were these: Kirk Tofte compares Obama's 2008 promises with his record to date. Caveman007, apropos to a speech in which Obama wished to be compared to Teddy Roosevelt, said Obama should spend more time defending parks, etc.; he did not praise the speech. Eikizer4 is tired of the rhetoric & points out that Obama offered no policy objectives. Oddsox never mentions Obama at all. Norman Pollack calls the Times' endorsement of the speech “premature.” Reader J says it's about time Obama got back on the horse he rode in on. Wang jiang hang says Obama must walk the walk. Jon Jost is exceptionally critical of Obama. Howard says it's nice to have Obama back since the 2008 Obama has been missing for 3 years. JLT is a conservative who blames Obama for demonizing success. Pkbormes says Obama is finally getting it. Patrick doesn't mention Obama but blames Democrats for being part of the problem. Stevechipmunk says Obama's record doesn't match his rhetoric. Sand S says he's not ready to forgive Obama. William Taylor says he's skeptical of the rhetoric since Obama repeatedly caved. JLT made another nonsensical anti-Obama comment. Rimantas says words are meaningless.

You write, “Aside from Karen, there was only one comment suggesting that THESE WERE JUST WORDS WRITTEN BY A SPEECHWRITER! … I couldn't even get through the first 25.” (Emphasis original.) Sorry, but these among the first 25 “brain-dead simpletons” cited above sound an awful lot like the simple brain-dead writer of this comment. That is to say, you were characterizing me, and people who think as I do, as brain-dead simpletons. I accept that badge with the same honor I accept Obama's “sanctimonious purist” epithet.


@ Karen Garcia: it seems to me if you're going to allow your commenters to make ad hominem attacks against other commenters, those commenters ought at least to be given a chance to respond to the charges, particularly when at least some of the charges are demonstrably untrue -- for instance, VLT's pretense that you were the only commenter on the Times editorial who didn't slobber over Obama, and that's why she called people who hold my views "brain dead simpletons." No, clearly that isn't why. As you know, I did not complain when she called me a "brain-dead simpleton"; frankly, I thought it was inane & unfair to the actual brain-dead. But when she pretended she had no idea how I could possibly associate myself with people, the majority of whom essentially agree with my point-of-view, and then totally mischaracterized what those people wrote, a response is in order. As you know, I wrote both of my comments when your comments were open & I wrote the first one before Madison wrote hers. Your selectivity does not become you. Make that two bad days for Sardonicky.

Brain-Dead Simpleton

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Dear Marie Burns,

You need help, mental health care intervention. Somehow you fail to see that you engage in much worse vitriolic ad hominem attacks yourself, against anyone whom disagrees with you. Then you launch WW3 against the offender. This is why the Times did not grant you trusted status. You are mentally sick, please seek help immediately.

Ps. Obama care mental health benefits stink, but since you are wealthy, you can afford private care. Don’t delay, seek help today.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

whoa there, please, "observer." this is a non ad hominem forum.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

@Observer-

As a former mental health professional, I would say it is YOU who need help. You are obviously angry at the Constant Weader and are also a major league name caller; however, you do not have the decency or self-respect to tell us who you are, or to back up your remarks with concrete examples.

Why do you find it necessary to be so ugly? If you do not like Marie's opinions, you can say just that. Character assassination is not required. Whoever you are, I hope YOU get help for your irrational anger, shaming and blaming, And can gather the courage to take responsibility for your remarks by letting us know who you are and to what you refer. I am assuming you feel some shame--a good thing. Having shame about one's inappropriate behavior is good for the soul--and for one's mental health.

P.S. Do you honestly think the NYT did not grant "trusted commenter" status to Marie because they were concerned about her mental health. That is REALLY crazy thinking! Get help now!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

As a practicing ad hominem attacker, I think "observer" is a dickhead. And I do apologize for the attack. Sort of... but not too much.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Marie,

As I explained many times on this blog to both you and Kate, I don't consider either of you "bots" and from that sentiment you can assume I don't think of either of you as "brain dead simpletons." We both know that there is a world of difference between people like you and Kate who have consistently shed a light on Obama's perfidies but will vote for him as the lesser of two evils - pragmatists - and those adoring fans who only read the MSM and are taken in by ONE speech – which incidentally was then followed a day later by an announcement, pandering to the Right. The brain dead simpletons are the ones who swallowed his speech "hook, line and sinker" and blame everything wrong with this country on the Republican Right and Tea Party without fairly admitting that the Corporate Democrats, of which Obama is a member, have done their fair share of the damage.

You and Kate know that I think highly of both of you and your opinions. We agree on pretty much every issue except who to vote for in 2012. If you want me to stop commenting here on this site because you are offended by my opinions, I will certainly respect your wishes - after all it is your blog. But it is unfair to take offence at something I said that was clearly meant for a group of people you, yourself, can hardly respect.

I will admit, however, to one mistake. I automatically go straight to the Reader Recommendations when I read the comment section and those were the twenty five I referred to, wrongly, as the” first 25,” as opposed to the REAL first 25 from which you took your sample. That mistake was clearly mine.

And for the record, implied in my first comment (the one that offended you) was that people like you - those who would fairly criticize Obama – have been, for the most part with only a few exceptions like Karen - sent to the back of the line with the new favoured commenter policy. I wrote,” I am sure there were comments more critical of Obama but they will be pushed to the end and I couldn't even get through the first 25.”

And I say it again; considering that you know that I know that you and Kate are boycotting the Times comment sections, I am at a loss as to how you could assume that I had you in mind when I made the brain-dead simpleton comment.

And in all fairness to Karen, due to the highly emotional nature of politics for those of us who really care what happens to our country – all of us - moderating comments can only be an extremely difficult endeavour. Karen has to weigh the right of commenters to voice their disagreements against allowing a flame war to get out of hand. Karen is very egalitarian with this. Many of her regular commenters, including me (and more than once) have had a particular thread shut down before we have finished having our say. You were certainly not being singled out in this.

Feel free not to publish this letter. I would have sent it to you personally but I felt, in light of your bringing it into your comment section and knowing that I read both your main page and the comments on a regular basis, that you were seeking a more public reply.

Respectfully,
Valerie

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterValerie Long Tweedie

@ James Singer. I was going to take down your ad hominem attack on my anger-management-challenged anonymous commenter there, because, as you know, I don't allow personal attacks here on anybody except myself. However, I have just had eye surgery & am unable to find the "delete" button.

So, in lieu of deleting your comment -- thanks for your support.

Seriously, what I do invite here is differing opinions on the issues, and even though I may disagree with them in the thread and tell the writers why I disagree, I don't want this to become a site where all the readers are in lock-step on all the issues and the person who occasionally submits a slightly different point-of-view gets smacked down as some kind of crazy. I can't say that quest for inclusiveness is true of every site. But that's why we are lucky to have the Internets. Those who want to be inclusive and those who don't can all have platforms.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@ Valerie Long Tweedie. I appreciate your thoughtful response. And of course I will continue to invite your comments, including -- in fact, especially -- those with which I disagree. I was just surprised that you appeared to think all those commenters who wrote, "Good speech, but actions speak louder than words" were "brain-dead simpletons." There were a few rah-rah comments, but of the first 25, I don't think there were more than 5 or so that didn't at least put some qualifier on their rah-rahs, and several had nary a rah. You responded -- effectively -- to one of the cheerleaders.

Then, as you say, the very next day Obama/Sebelius played Lucy to our Charlie Brown. Obviously, that's the way it's going to be at least until after the election, and I'd be surprised if there were a substantial change after the election unless Republicans are CRUSHED next November -- an eventuality at this point that does not look likely.

At any rate, if you read through the comments to Garcia's post on the Osawatomie speech, it's clear that the general consensus there is that people who take a more pragmatic view are "brain-dead," so my comment was more a warning to everyone -- not just you -- that I was going to express the "simpleton"'s POV. I think it's a shame that the comments section of Garcia's blog has turned into a purity forum and that people like me who comment occasionally are called names & our sanity is questioned -- and that Garcia thinks it's fine to post such comments. That's just not the way my worldview works.

Frankly, it's hard to see much difference between the comments section on Sardonicky and what you would get on some Tea Party blog. Both are just versions of Obama-hating, the major difference being that most of Garcia's commenters can spell better than can the Teabonics crowd. But neither is healthy for the nation, IMHO. One commenter today said Obama-bashing was his raison d'etre. It was not at all clear he was kidding. It gets harder to be offended by Obama's calling us "sanctimonious purists" when people on the left have that pathetic mind-set. We all have a number of roles to fill in life, but the role of citizen, I think, demands that we try to improve the country, and I don't see how the kind of destructiveness that so regularly pervades the Sardonicky comments section improves anything. It is dismaying that people who consider themselves leftists -- and who should therefore be open-minded and at least a little interested in nuance and progress -- have their heads steel-trap-closed. I don't know what that kind of close-minded, strident hateful POV should be called, but I'm pretty sure it's not "liberal."

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

So––let me nudge in here after all that kerfuffle and offer a different opinion re: the PILL. I agree with Sebelius and Obama and if the decision was political then so be it, but we don't know that for sure, do we? I've read many arguments for and against; it makes sense to me that girls under 17 need intervention–-period. The argument that it is embarrassing for a female to ask for this drug is perhaps not a bad thing for a young girl; for an older woman it might not cause a tremor. If we concentrated on real sex education rather than under the carpet pretending kids don't have sex education, we might reduce the profits this company that produces the pill will have.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@PD. Great point. But suggesting this county have real sex education in its schools is like suggesting the schools make "Tropic of Cancer" required reading in the 9th grade (which is also not a bad idea).

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Wow! Calm down please. This whole discussion over who said what about who is so junior high. Is this all about you or about the state of political affairs in our country? My husband shook his head and just wandered off. I think that is the best response.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichele Marks

@PD Pepe

As a mother of a ten year old girl, I shake in fright at the thought of my daughter becoming sexually active at too young an age and doing something drastic if she gets pregnant. As much as I try to create an atmosphere of trust between us, hormonal adolescents and teenagers when they feel backed against a wall can make terrible decisions. I just don't see taking a morning after pill as a bad option when I compare it to hiding a pregnancy, doing things to try to induce abortion, or actually seeking out an abortion in a “backroom alley.”

While as a mother I hate the idea of a teenage girl (or boy) having sex before ( s)he understands the emotional and physical ramifications, we have to face the reality that many girls and boys in our sexualised society ARE having sex and will continue to have sex. And whether you or I like it or not, most of it will be unprotected. We have to offer girls some kind of option if they have had unprotected sex other than “wait and worry.”

From a pragmatic point of view, we have an over-populated planet, why add another human being to the mix unless that baby is wanted? And young girls rarely have the maturity to be good mothers. What kind of life can a child born to a girl that age expect to have? And expecting a hormonal girl with emotional ups and downs to carry a baby to term, take good care of her health and then give the baby up for adoption is wishing on unicorns. I, too, loved the movie, Juno, but girls like her idealised character are rare.

As for Obama's speech, it was idiotic to refer to ten or twelve year old girls buying the morning after pill with bubble gum. First of all, any ten or twelve year old girl who is having sex is either being abused or exploited. Chances are good she doesn't have anyone to turn to or the abuse /exploitation wouldn't be going on in the first place. Of all the people who NEED to be able to have access to a morning after pill, these children do. A boy that age being abused or exploited has to deal with the terrible scars of that experience. A girl has to deal with the scars and the added worry of being pregnant on top of it. This response on the part of Sebilius, Obama and the Right feels very sexist to me and seems more like a way to punish naughty girls than help them.

And last, you can bet the FDA didn’t issue this recommendation lightly. I am sure there was a lot of research and a weighing of the pros and cons before ultimately coming to this recommendation. For Sebilius to arrogantly overrule a thoughtful, scientific decision and for Obama to support her is just plain wrong.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterValerie Long Tweedie

@ Michele Marks. Thanks for commenting and for sharing your husband's input. At its heart, this is about personal integrity and respect for others, which are essential to every discussion of every topic, political or otherwise. I expect that if you and your husband thought about it a bit, you'd realize that name-calling, character assassination, and the active encouragement of such behaviors demonstrate a less-than-optimal level of integrity and interpersonal respect. It isn't all that complicated. In my experience, a lot of junior high students have already figured it out.

And yes, "the state of political affairs in this country" suffers greatly from precisely the kinds of bad behavior I've described, whether the victim is Joe Blow, Kate Madison or Barack Obama.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

My suggestion that Marie Burns seek mental health care is not an ad hominem attack. I am concerned for her well-being, and the harm she causes others. This is from my perspective as one who holds a degree in psychology, and has observed, on-line, Ms. Burns for some time.

Why would anyone be offended by a referral for mental health treatment? Ms. Burns admitted having eye surgery, so she has openly disclosed some aspects of her medical treatment. Perhaps this website is populated be people who discriminate against mental health disorders. Too bad.

As for the Times denial of trusted status, a number of people have complained to the Times about Ms. Burns’ offensive behavior. I myself have had a number of emails with the Times about Ms. Burns and her mistreatment of people on her website, people who found Burns from her link on the Times. So the Times is well aware of the problems that she creates. In fact, her own website boasts "And let's face it -- I'm not all that discreet." That is an understatement, and sufficient reason alone for the Times to monitor any submission by Ms. Burns.

For further reading I suggest "A First-Rate Madness" by Nassir Ghaemi. From Amazon: Nassir Ghaemi runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center, draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders- realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity-also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. By combining astute analysis of the historical evidence with the latest psychiatric research, Ghaemi demonstrates how these qualities have produced brilliant leadership under the toughest circumstances.
http://www.amazon.com/First-Rate-Madness-Uncovering-Between-Leadership/dp/1594202958

Some of our greatest leaders have had mental illness. I hope the readers on this blog educate themselves and stop discriminating against people with mental illness. And please Ms. Burns, get the help you need and deserve. Your desperate act of starting the New York Times Examiner in response to a perceived slight by the Times was a clear cry for help. I wish you well.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

@Observer-

You remind me of Bill Frist, M.D., when he was a right-wing senator from Tennessee. He made a medical diagnosis of Terry Schiavo as likely able to recover from serious brain trauma on the basis of seeing her on video, although he was not a neurologist, and had never seen her. At the time, Ms. Shiavo had been diagnosed by several attending neurologists as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). Dr. Frist got into this tragic situation to support George W. Bush and to enhance his right-wing pro-life agenda. Schiavo's husband prevailed and she was taken off her gastric feeding tube--after a disgusting media circus. She died peacefully soon after. Dr. Frist was reprimanded by the medical ethicist at Northwestern University, since at autopsy, Ms. Shiavo was diagnosed with PVS, suffering from irreversible brain damage. Dr. Frist did not seek reelection.

We know Dr. Frist's name and some of his history. You have yet to tell us yours. It is frightening to me, a psychologist who practiced for 35 years, that you have made a psychiatric judgement based on blog writings. Hasten to your supervisor (I hope you have one) and tell him or her what you have done. You really could use some help. You could be courting a lawsuit.

Hmmmm.....maybe you know that, which is why you refuse to give your name or any other identifying information.

P.S. Don't know where you get your information, but you need to know that Marie Burns did not "desperately create" the New York Times Examiner. She has, however, been hired as a columnist there. Many of us find her articles erudite, well sourced, and exceptionally intelligent.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

@Valerie
I appreciate all that you have said and agree with many of your views, but I still think it's best for young girls to have to get a prescription before they obtain that pill. I, too, have young girls in my life––four granddaughters––so understand your concerns. This kind of decision, I would think, should not be based on the worst scenarios, but for the many and yes, either way people will find fault.

Years ago I almost died from the Dalkin shield, the IUD that AAH Robins told doctors was safe and the FDA approved. Hundreds of women were effected. I am always on tender hooks about drugs being advertised as safe, especially for women; the drug companies and the FDA have made a lot of mistakes.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@ Kate: Observer stated she/he has a degree in psychology. This could be (a) plain old BS.

Regarding birth control, I was irked that our president made the issue of birth control seem both sacred and trivial by disallowing its use and giving us the visual of its being sold in the bubble gum section.

If women were provided easy access to health care and free birth control, the need for the morning after pill would be greatly reduced.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterE. Adams

Ms. Madison,

Your comment is not supported by what I wrote, and appears a figment of your rather vivid imagination. Disabuse yourself that I made a "psychiatric judgement" of anyone. This is from my perspective as one who holds a degree in psychology, and has observed, on-line, Ms. Burns for some time. It is my personal opinion. "Hasten to your supervisor"? From what century does thou hale? Since I have not done anything, there is nothing to report, and no one to report to.

Furthermore, you are not a psychologist who practiced for 35 years. You only have a degree in social work. So please stop lying. And stop being "frightened" lest you wet yourself unnecessarily.

Also from your imagination, your comparison of me to a medical doctor and "right-wing senator from Tennessee". How silly. As for your highly inappropriate reference to Terry Schiavo, please let the woman rest in peace. Show some restraint and dignity. Quite frankly the false dichotomy of right-wing and left-wing bores me.

Finally, I don’t court lawsuits, just my spouse. Is that why you want my name and other identifying information? To get personal? Something tells me you are too old and not my type, among other things.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

Apropos of little, the NYT has yet again changed its comments policy from posting 'trusted commenters' first to sending them to the back of the line. Note there is a little green thingy at the top of the comments which is set on "Newest first". If you click on it, the comments are then posted in the order received. As well they should be. It's possible some of the vitriol of the above commentary stems directly from that.
Indeed @Marie, it's also possible they changed their policy to give your comments priority. I hope so anyway.
@observer - if, as you say, @Marie is a nut case, I hope she will allow me to join her in your proposed therapy. Please go away. I beg you. Maggy

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaggy Holman

@ Kate Madison & @ E. Adams. Thanks so much for both your comments.

I have more closely reviewed the comments of "observer." As Adams writes, at most he holds an undergraduate degree in psychology. He has a history of publicly accusing strangers of "dementia" and such, of filing what are commonly called frivolous lawsuits & of bringing other public complaints against individuals, bankers, members of the bar, judges and well, whoever. In the past, he has threatened to bring "legal proceedings" against me. In a court pleading, his attorney attested that he "labors under the strain of some serious health issues" and a forensic psychologist who served as his advocate wrote that he suffered from "well-documented disabilities [which] are now becoming more stress-related and marked by depression and other serious symptoms that affect what he can do and how he can do it particularly under stress." (And, yeah, it was a royal pain to research this history, but I think it is sometimes helpful to know a little more about the source of commentary, particularly when the commentary is of the nature "observer" has made here.)

Some while back, I removed a comment he wrote on Off Times Square because it, in my opinion, advocated for the violent overthrow of the government, an advocacy which I had previously told him was not acceptable here.

His comment above is defamatory, and as such, I would ordinarily remove it. However, I am letting it stand unless Kate Madison, whom "observer" disparages, asks me to remove or redact it. Unlike Madison, I am not a health professional, so -- in my very unprofessional opinion -- I can only say that I find "observer"'s "observations" of Madison and me to be downright creepy.

"Observer" is a regular commenter on Sardonicky and occasionally writes blogposts there.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@ P. D. Pepe. Thank you for your thoughtful comment about the Obama Administration's decision re: Plan B. I think we all agree with you that it would be best if young girls had guidance from their parents or from other qualified advisors. But obviously young girls who are having unprotected sex have not been taking advice from responsible adult advisors. Moreover, many who find themselves in need of Plan B would be apt to find the possibility of being "grounded" today (or whatever punishment they anticipate) more onerous than the risk of possibly being pregnant & "getting caught" later. That is to say, they just won't tell.

The need for a prescription is problematic because of the time it takes to get one. As #JJG wrote, girls may be able to get older friends to make the purchase for them, but there again, there may be a time element involved in a situation where "time is of the essence."

In Saturday's Commentariat, I've posted links to a number of columns & posts on the Sebelius decision which I think you may find of interest. Alexandra Petri (and somebody else) addresses the "worst-case scenarios" which concern you. You are quite right that the medical community has long treated women's health issues carelessly, though I think that has changed dramatically in the past 15 years or so, largely because there are now many more women medical professionals.

At any rate, there's room for more than one opinion here, and I appreciate your sharing yours.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@ Observer,

I find your writing, albeit a complete irrelevant and deficient distraction, rather dainty. But I do want to reply to something you wrote;

You wrote:

"You need help, mental health care intervention."

"Why would anyone be offended by a referral for mental health treatment? Ms. Burns admitted having eye surgery, so she has openly disclosed some aspects of her medical treatment."

The brilliance of this comment led me to make the following recommendation to "Observer":

Observer, you need help, penile enlargement help. Somehow you fail to grasp the importance of feeling good enough about yourself to admit who you are. I know you talk a big game, and use big words, and make it appear that there is a deep understanding whenever you intercourse, i mean discourse, but I am sure that the actual shallowness of your penetration of "ideas" bothers you. So please seek enlargement, and seek it immediately.

Observer, you wrote:

"Ms. Burns admitted having eye surgery, so she has openly disclosed some aspects of her medical treatment."

In that genius paradigm of relevance, I think it is justifiable that I publicly encourage "Observer" to seek penile enlargement because he himself has made his courtship of his wife a public topic.

@ Marie,

Thank you for always treating me with respect even though I have vociferously disagreed, on occasion, with you and other writers here. This blog is filled with some of the best minds anywhere. Thank you for all of your brilliant and hard work.

Peace,
Isaiah

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIsaiah Earhart
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