The Ledes

Thursday, July 30, 2015.

New York Times: "The commander of a group of Syrian fighters trained by the United States has been kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, his group said in a statement Thursday. The commander, Nadeem Hassan, and seven of his fighters were taken by the Nusra Front, a rival of the Islamic State in Syria, as they were returning from a meeting in Turkey."

AP: "Afghanistan's Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, who led the group's self-styled Islamic emirate in the 1990s, sheltered al-Qaida through the 9/11 attacks and led a 14-year insurgency against U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who had served as Mullah Omar's deputy for the past three years, as its new leader, two Taliban figures told the Associated Press...."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy rebounded between April and June, new government data showed Thursday, expanding at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent. Growth in the second quarter remained modest, particularly compared with the breakneck pace seen in much of 2014, but it also signaled a bounce-back from a surprisingly sluggish winter when the economy was at a crawl."

New York Times: "Government officials and families of passengers lost on a Malaysian jet that vanished last year with 239 people aboard responded warily on Thursday to the discovery of possible wreckage from the aircraft, reluctant to fan hopes after more than a year of fruitless searching and false rumors. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss of Australia, whose country has led the search for the jet, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said that the discovery of an airplane part thousands of miles from the search area was 'a very significant development' but cautioned against concluding that it was from the missing aircraft."

The Wires

The Ledes

... Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. (This video tends to start near the end. If it does that for you, cursor back to the beginning.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Guardian: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday continued to pave the way for an increase in interest rates as early as September. The US central bank left its key interest rate unchanged at near zero – where it has been since the 2008 financial crisis – but once again signalled that rates will rise later this year. While the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, has left little doubt that rates will rise this year, the Fed left itself wiggle room as it has set no timetable and said rates would only be raised if the economy continues to improve and unemployment continues to fall." ...

... The Fed's statement is here.

New York Times: "A large object that appeared to be an airplane part washed up Wednesday on the shore of Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, prompting speculation that it might be debris from Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared in March 2014." ...

     ... AP UPDATE: "Air safety investigators have a 'high degree of confidence' that aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year, a U.S. official said Wednesday."

New York Times: "After months of speculation, Afghan officials announced Wednesday that they were now certain that the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, died in Pakistan in 2013."

Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has approved the immediate construction of hundreds of settlement units in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to stave off a growing threat posed by pro-settler parties in his rightwing coalition government. The issue was brought to a head on Wednesday by a supreme court ruling that two buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El – built on private Palestinian land without permits – should be destroyed, despite Netanyahu’s opposition."

Washington Post: "An Albuquerque 911 dispatcher has resigned after audio was released of him hanging up on a 17-year-old as she tended to a friend who was shot at the party. The victim, 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver, later died.... Emergency responders had already been dispatched to the house before [the dispatcher] hung up." Includes 911 audio.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "A big-game hunter from the Twin Cities found himself at the center of an international firestorm Tuesday over the death of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, but said he regrets killing the animal and believed his guides were leading him on a legal hunt.... Earlier Tuesday, the Telegraph newspaper of London identified [dentist Walter] Palmer as the hunter who shot Cecil and reported that he paid $54,000 for the hunt. The Telegraph said the lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status, and onto a neighboring game farm, where Palmer was on safari." ...

... Salon: Yelp contributors are whacking Palmer.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 30

2:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Jane Hamshire of Firedoglake: "... I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL."

Dylan Byers: "MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs -- 'The Cycle,' 'Now with Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show' -- as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming.... Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a 'Cycle' co-host and MSNBC's chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of 'The Ed Show,' will leave the network, as will 'Cycle' co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure.... In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by 'Meet The Press' moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former 'Nightly News' anchor, will serve as the network's breaking news and special reports anchor."

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically-correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

New York Times (July 15): "It was the last day of business at F. A. O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan."

New York Times: "A day after its successful flyby, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of Pluto, revealing a young surface dotted with ice mountains. The piano-size spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet and its five moons." Includes one close-up photo from 25 miles out. More on NASA's site.

New York (July 14): "We're halfway through July, but until this morning, there was still snow on the ground in Boston. The last of the city's historic snowfall, a disgusting frozen mass of dirt, snow, and trash, was officially pronounced melted this morning"."

Here are time-lapse photos of the long melt:

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
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.