The Ledes

Friday, October 31, 2014.

Reuters: "The ringleader of a beating ritual that led to the death of a Florida college marching band member was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and felony hazing, the first case to go to trial in an incident that drew national attention to hazing abuses. A jury convicted percussionist Dante Martin, 27, for his role in a November 2011 ritual involving the Florida A&M University's celebrated 'Marching 100' band that led to the death of Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major." ...

... CW: Why are these college students so old?

Los Angeles Times: "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, part of a commercial space venture founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, crashed during testing Friday, according to a Mojave Air and Space Port spokesperson and the FAA. At least one person was killed." MSNBC is saying two were injured as well.

New York Times: "Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public. Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left. The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, 'currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.' The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.” Thanks to James S. for the link.

AP: "Eric Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and battered as he answered yes or no questions and listened as a judge read the criminal complaint detailing the Sept. 12 attack that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass."

Washington Post: "Russia agreed Thursday to resume selling natural gas to Ukraine, ending a cutoff.... The stopgap deal will secure critical energy supplies for Ukraine through March and will also help assure European countries that their own natural gas supply will not be disrupted during chilly winter months."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 31

9:15 am ET: President Obama & Michelle Obama greet the kids for trick or treat (CW: looks like the time is wrong on this; the video has a countdown which shows the event won't occur for about 8 hours)

11:10 am ET: President Obama speaks about the economy

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

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

Rolling Stone: Jon Stewart that NBC News approached him about hosting "Meet the Press.": "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?'"

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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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