Here's L56:

"Hey Pete.

This is not so much about the entry at hand here, but I'm interested in the one you cited regarding autism. I must have missed it the first time around, but thanks for providing the link. Understand I'm getting in on this for the first time.

I can't say that I agree or disagree with the idea that autism is entwined so thoroughly with the parents' psyche. Mostly because I just don't know enough about it. But it's really a fascinating idea that I haven't really heard much about.

I'm curious about the research (if any) that's been done on this. Do you know of any studies that have been done to isolate parental involvement as a major contributing factor to autism? Perhaps twin studies to rule out genetics. I think I've heard of studies done with twins separated at birth which isolate environmental factors from genetic factors. (Although this is probably a statistical long shot for autism). What about controlled experiments with treatments involving the parents versus not involving the parents. To be quite honest, I didn't think that autism was a curable thing. If it's truly a psychological problem does that mean that there are hopes for a psychological solution? Also Fischkin makes an interesting point about having one child that's not autistic. If it's the same genetics (same parents obviously) and the same parental "issues" (for a lack of a better term), why the two different results? Or do the psychological factors involved with two separate births alter the psychological hair-triggers enough to get two different results?

I'm sure you've heard a lot of skepticism on this idea, but I'm not coming at it from that angle. I've just never heard of this, and I would be mighty impressed by the power of psychology if there was some real hard evidence for this idea."


Very thoughtful comments and questions, L56, and since I started out in the therapy business working with children, these are issues close to my heart that I have pondered and researched for decades myself. Ironically, understanding that childhood mental and emotional disabilities were inextricably tied to parenting actually was the prevailing view in psychology up until about 25 years ago or so.

Bruno Bettelheim, an Austrian child psychologist, and a refugee to the United States in 1939, gained an international reputation for his views on autism and for his success in treating emotionally disturbed children.

Bettelheim subscribed to and became a prominent proponent of the theory of autism that autistic behaviors stemmed from an emotional disconnect in the children's mothers. Bettelheim's 1967 book, The Empty Fortress: Infantile Autism and the Birth of the Self, was very well-known and respected at the time, in both the the popular press and in professional circles.

Unfortunately, and I was on the ground in the late 1970's and throughout the 1980's to witness it, the tide of government support for funding long-term residential psychotherapy turned with the election of Ronald Reagan, and simultaneously, parents joined forces with the medical profession and Big Pharma to discredit Bettleheim's theories - and successes - in favor of a genetic/biological etiology, in which nature was to blame for autism and, of course, drugs, not therapy, were the solution.

Tragically, to this day, not one proponent of the "nature fucked up" ideology has been able to claim success in treating autism. BUT - and isn't this always the most important thing - it got parents off the hook! Oh, yeah, and it made big bucks for doctors and drug companies. Amazing how much money there is in NOT curing illnesses, huh? Kind of like AIDS, cancer, diabetes...

Hey, thanks for getting my juices flowing this morning, L56!


Here's Jay:

"While I don't take issue with the idea that parenting factors are always a part of children's issues I WOULD like to remind you that the whole Bettelheim era of autism theory was primarily about the MOTHERS only. It was inseparably tied in with good old fashioned sexism, holding that the defectiveness of women was responsible. This is a nice tub full of old bathwater that must be tossed, regardless of ones position on the cause of autism.

Our society perpetually teeters on the edge of holding mothers exclusively responsible for the ultimate outcome in their children's development. I generally respect, even agree with your positions but I do hope that you are not advocating a return to holding women solely responsible for the possible parental contribution to autism.

Say it ain't so, Peter."


It ain't so, Jay! But your comments and concerns are very well-taken, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

In my book (which I haven't written yet!), no parent of either sex is without their equal share of responsibility for the emotional difficulties of their children. When it comes to a parenting dyad, there is no single "bad apple." The enabler of the alcoholic or abusive spouse is as culpable as the abuser. The spouse of the disconnected partner is at some level preferring that lack of intimacy when they decide to have a child. Etc.

Unfortunately, because of the reality of sexism in human culture over the course of so many generations, and the need to turn that distortion around, the baby has sometimes gotten thrown out with the bathwater. Sometimes literally!

Bettleheim was unfairly discredited in the 1970's because the feminist movement decried as sexist any psychological theories that made a unique connection between mothering and childhood pathology. That is unfortunate. [Freud was likewise demonized by latter day feminists, even though some of Freud's best friends back in the early 20th Century were the great feminists of his time.]

Both during gestation and for the first 18 months of life, the symbiotic bond between mother and infant is so powerful that it is as if the two beings were one. Any mother can attest to that, of course, but it has also been understood by child development experts for decades. Just as nutrition goes directly from the umbilical cord and then the breast right from the mother's body into the body of the infant, so, too, does any fear, anxiety, anger, etc., go right from the mother's body into the child. It's just nature.

I am not, nor was Bettleheim, looking to "blame" mothers. But the desire to understand through empirical study what may be happening in the early life of an autistic child cannot be subject to political correctness, or we will never look at aspects of the illness that we find personally upsetting, distasteful or unpopular.

For more on this subject and the formation of a "Schizoid Character Structure," see my chart posted here.

Thanks again, Jay!


Here's L56:

"Yes, LOL indeed!!!

Actually I'm not sure if it was greed or just plain stupidity.

Being in the theater industry, I'm fully aware of the dance that goes on between setting a price for a ticket and getting butts in the seats. Any good Broadway producer will tell you it's better to have a full theater at half price than a half a theater at full price. (Of course they'd sell their children for a full theater at full price but that's a whole other debate. lol)

It's no surprise that the heads of a large corporation would be greedy. Duh! But I'd have to say that the Steinbrenner family were just plain stupid to try to sell those seats for $2,500. What's $2,500 times zero? LOL Better yet, what's $1,250 times zero? LOLOL - Idiots!!

But I guess it doesn't matter much, whether it's greed or stupidity, they're getting punished for it for sure!!! LOLOLOLOL"


Since my first post on this subject there have been some news stories about the embarrassing reaction of Yankee fans to the outlandish prices of tickets to games at the new Yankee Stadium. Basically, in full view of the television cameras, many of the best seats have been... empty!

Well, that's somewhat good news for the lifelong non-corporate fans of baseball in New York, but yet, the Yankee management (still run by the autocratic, sleazy Steinbrenner family) still doesn't have a clue. They announced yesterday - laughably - that they were cutting the price of their $2,500 seats to $1,250! Is this when one is supposed to type "LOL?!"

Gee, I wouldn't spend twenty-five hundred for a seat, but, hey, twelve hundred? How can I pass on that?

Sorry, guys. I love baseball, and I love the Yankees, but even if I had twelve hundred to easily spend on a game, I would not do it. There's a level at which the price, affordable or not, is a manifestation of greed and corruption and I won't contribute.

Not now, not ever.

But you know... it ain't over 'till it's over!



Pat Buchanan acknowledged that his party is facing a severe "demographic problem" in the years to come - specifically, the GOP is on its way to becoming an all-white party.

"There's a real demographic problem with the Republican Party," Buchanan said. "It is a heavily white party, quite frankly. And as a share of the electorate, that is diminishing and Hispanics are growing very rapidly, Asians are growing rapidly, and by two-thirds they tend to vote Democratic. Young people increasingly are more liberal and more socially moderate, and they move away from the Republican Party," he said. "These things are undeniable, the Republican party ... is in tough shape."


"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."
Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman (unfortunately, Bachmann's facts are a little off. Republican President Gerald Ford, not Carter, led the country during the last outbreak of the virus.


"I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary."
Arlen Specter (FORMER Republican senator who just became a Democrat)


Mitch McConnell, leader of a Republican minority that is now even smaller, suggested Tuesday that Sen. Arlen Specter's defection endangered not just the party, but the entire country.

"I think the threat to the country presented by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or a balance," says Mitch.

Hey, Mitch, you know what? The last thirty years of Republican rule have done more damage to the United States than any period since Buchanan was president, leading up to the Civil War. Even Herbert Hoover, a complete incompetent, looks tolerable in comparison.

So, I suggest you either get on the wagon and join the forces of history and change or move to Alaska and start watching the Flintstones with Sarah.


"I've always been deeply concerned about the views of the Republican Party nationally in terms of their exclusionary policies and views towards moderate Republicans. Specter's switch to the Democratic Party underscores the blunt reality that the GOP is not a welcome place for moderates. Arlen Specter's abandonment of the GOP is devastating, both personally and I think for the party. I believe in the traditional tenets of the Republican Party: strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, individual opportunity. I haven't abandoned those principles that have been the essence of the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party has abandoned those principles."
Olympia Snowe of Maine (one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate)


"Take McCain and his daughter with you."
RUSH LIMBAUGH (to Arlen Specter)


Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
Albert Einstein


Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt therapy)


Inevitably, when someone working with me has a breakthrough and comes out of their character structure - that conglomerate of defense mechanisms created to survive childhood - the response is the same. It's like they've just hatched from an egg or awoken from a dream. The sense of freedom, exhilaration and clarity is striking initially, like they're seeing the world around them for the first time, and it is often startling, as well.

It is almost assured at some point early on that said "hatchling" will express dismay in this way to me: "Oh my God! Everywhere I look, everyone seems crazy!" I reassure them, sort of, by confirming that perception with a calm, "Yes. Most people are."

The next very important phase of acclimation to sanity and freedom, then, is to adjust to that reality. Being a sane person in an insane world can stir up fears of being isolated and lonely forever, and even inspire wishes to be insane again, so as not to be alone.

Undaunted, I continue on: "Yes, most people regularly lie, even to themselves." "Yes, most people cannot truly love, but substitute co-dependence for the real thing and call it love, utterly confusing the children they bear in far too many numbers." "Yes, most people resist growth and change vehemently, at times even violently, and call it being 'traditional' or having 'values." "Yes, sadism, the flip side of the rampant masochism infecting most people, is experienced as pleasure, while affection and sensuality are decried as weakness." "Yes, running up deficits to start wars and give tax cuts to subsidize the extravagant lifestyles of the rich is not thought of as spending, but using public funds to build better roads or schools or environmentally safe industries is thought of as wasteful." "Yes, it seems like we live in the Bizarro World of the Superman comics where up is down, square is round and bad is good." "And yes, Glenn Beck is really getting paid big money to break down and have psychotic episodes on television."

But not to worry, I insist. True loneliness comes from being alienated from yourself, from living inside the cocoon of a character structure, separated artificially from life. As you get used to being free internally, the fear of loneliness will be replaced with a confident, grounded, empowered sense of self and a oneness with all of those around you, even with those whose toxicity may be such that you cannot directly engage with them. You will realize that while we are all human, we are not all the same, and especially not all the same in terms of "soul age." Many people on Planet Earth, in fact, are still relatively young in that regard, and so still given to the delusions and dictates of the ego. Your presence as a mature, older soul, whatever chronological age you are, will ultimately be a guiding light for those who only appear to be in power.

And to boot, your health will improve - physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and sexually - and again, regardless of what age you are when you break through.

So, come on out. It's not only safe out here in the light, it's fun!


THIS is beautiful, really beautiful, from THE LOVE WE MAKE blog:

"About a week ago, a pretty light brown bird (a friend of mine thought it might be a Mockingbird) made her nest on our fire escape. I can see it from where I sit while at my computer. Like most nests, it is made of small brown twigs loosely put together in concentric circles and in it lay two, seemly perfect, small brilliant white eggs. I felt honored she picked our fire escape in which to give birth to new life.

A few days later, while sitting at my computer, I heard a loud noise which sounded like something heavy was dropped and then very large wings flapping, when I looked out I saw a large black bird hanging on the side of that very fire escape struggling to get her beak into the unprotected nest. Before I could move, I saw her lift her head and right inside her beak was one of those perfect white eggs. She held her head up- like a perfect picture, the contrast of the bright white egg against her raven blue-black gleaming head was striking, she looked enormous compared to the egg she held between her long black beak and in an instant she turned her head and flew off with it, just like that...it was gone.

A few minutes later, the mother arrived back to the nest only to find one remaining egg. She circled the nest a few times, bobbing her head in a bit, before sitting down to brood. I felt sad, a thief had kidnapped one of her precious eggs, even worse, feasted on it.

It brought up so many feelings for me, besides being the mother of two children, I also had two miscarriages, which I deeply mourned. I felt that familiar feeling creeping up in me, the feeling of mourning the loss of what might have been.

Everyday after that I watched the Mama bird sit on her solitary egg, now less frequently leaving to forage for food. Three more days passed and still she sat diligently waiting, brooding.

I started to become obsessed with the impending event, every day feeling more like an expectant parent myself, starting to anticipate the excitement of new life.

Upon awakening today I noticed some other bird flying around the fire escape. I quickly opened the blinds and there it was... an empty nest. I then saw Mama bird land, look around, circle the nest, and when it finally seemed to register that her last egg had been stolen, she flew off, this time for good. I stood there horrified at first, and when it all sank in, I cried.

In my opinion, the birth of a new life is, without question, the closest thing to heaven we have here on earth. There is something so awesome, so powerful and so deeply moving about giving birth to new life, it is certainly one of the more miraculous things we humans ever get to experience and witness.

So I have to ask myself today; What is the deeper message in this for me?

Is it about life, loss, endings, missed opportunities, the ruthlessness of nature?

Only a moment passes before I realize it's impossible NOT to see it...after all, the empty nest is now sitting right outside my window."


This is a comment I posted on the Park Slope-based blog, ONLY THE BLOG KNOWS BROOKLYN, in response to a series of postings about the Barnes and Nobles bookstore in Park Slope attempting to control the traffic of SUV-sized strollers anywhere in the store and the protests of the parental lunatic fringe out here in Stepford. The comments are quite unbelievable, even to the point, I swear, you can't make this up, but some even go so far as this: "Strollers are vehicles for people who cannot walk - some cannot walk at all, some cannot walk for long distances reliably. If B&N banned wheelchairs because they clogged the aisles, imagine the outrage. But what is a stroller if not a wheelchair?"


Anyway, here's what I wrote on the blog:

How utterly disingenuous so many of the "pro-strollers-anywhere" postings are here. The reason the Stepford moms in this enclave are so militant is because they have found themselves in an untenable situation - trying to vicariously fulfill an image of what an imaginary perfect childhood would have been like if only they had the overly-indulgent, enmeshed parents they're trying to be, while simultaneously trying to live a gratifying, boundless 21st Century lifestyle. And who's suffering? Well, not just the other patrons who are either single or are mature enough parents (like me - father of 2 young ones) not to bring their kids to coffee shops, bars or yes, most bookstores (at least until they're past stroller age). No, the annoyance of other adult human beings who want to live in peace in Park Slope is not horrific. The real tragedy here is what is being done to the kids. And how telling is it that some parents are trying to classify children in strollers in the same category as disabled people in wheelchairs? Doesn't that kind of perfectly symbolize the sad plight of these kids whose parents do in fact treat them like disabled princes and princesses? (See "THE LITTLE LAME PRINCE" by Dinah Maria Craik)



"As someone who is very aware of the people around me, I feel compelled to comment on the stroller entries. A screaming child in a restuarant or any store is an annoyance to the other patrons. A child running free and bothering other patrons in a restaurant or any store is also an annoyance to the other patrons. A calm child sitting in a stroller while his/her mother shops is of no consequence to anyone. Is walking around a mother with a stroller that much of an inconvience? Personally, when my 18 month old acts up in his stroller, I leave the store, not only because I don't want to bother anyone else, but because I don't want to listen to it myself. However, I don't agree that my mere presence with a stroller in a bookstore makes me a Stepford mom trying to fulfill an imaginary childhood that I wish I had.

I agree, however, that the comparison of a stroller to a wheelchair is absurd, but perhaps they were trying to make a point, unfortunately in a rather tasteless and ludicrous way. The reality is that banning strollers from stores would be considered discrimination and in these economic times, I am not so sure many stores would be willing to ban anyone. And what would be the grounds for banning strollers? The annoyance of the other patrons? I am thoroughly annoyed by people who walk through stores, stand on lines, or sit in restaurants and talk on the their cell phones-I don't want to hear their one sided conversations. In fact, I was recently in the grocery store while a woman shopped with her two year old running wild and ripping things off the shelves WHILE she slowly pushed her cart and talked on her cell phone. That kid belonged in a stroller or strapped into the cart!

I would bet that most moms would agree that shopping, of any sort, with a child is not a first choice, but sometimes it is the only option. Perhaps both sides of this Pak Slope coin could use to practice a little more awareness and tolerance of 'the other."


Here's Dadloff:

"I need to reply to your entry about suv strollers this past week, I was excited to visit auntlori in the boston area. she is pregnant with her second child which is due in june. I decided to take her shopping to purchase items she would need to have for a soon to be two old and a new arrival. the first thing on our list of purchases was a stroller that would hold both children. low and behold we purchased a very large SUV double stroller, so large that I think you need a drivers licence and directional signals. it also has a rack on it that can accommodate a pack n play in case the child needs to take a nap in the book store. I also gave her my FULL PERMISSION to live her life as she sees fit. Part of which would be to go to barnes and noble to purchase books and also to go to starbuck to have a coffee, latte or cappachino of her choice being able to take both of her children with her because of having a SUV double stroller. you are generalizing about the park slope area. perhaps you are not aware of the story hours in a lot of barnes and noble stores for todlers or that some starbucks like to see mothers with their children patronize their stores. maybe you need to move out of park slope."


I'm working on the last thing, DL!


I read about two suicides this morning - one by a 53-year old wife and mother, who shot herself to death Tuesday afternoon, 90 minutes before her foreclosed home was scheduled to be sold at auction, the other by the 41-year old acting chief financial officer of mortgage giant Freddie Mac, who had been criticized heavily for reckless business practices that some argue contributed to the housing and financial crisis.

Now, I'm sorry, but this is such shoddy, superficial - and typical - reporting. As if it's actually understandable that a person might kill themselves for such superficial reasons. Really.

Why would someone commit suicide over the loss of a house or a business, or even over some criticism? The answer is - they wouldn't!

In almost all circumstance, suicide is the big, final "FUCK YOU!" by someone who is so full of old, festered, primal rage that has never been touched through any in-depth self-work that the only relief, ultimately, is the explosive acting out of self-annihilation. They have been so enraged for so long, in fact, way before any current "precipitating" events, that they have been gutted from the inside and have lost any connection consciously to their souls. And make no mistake, the person committing the act of suicide is very aware of the potential impact on the significant others in their lives. In some ways, that's the whole point.

"Now, you'll see how angry I am. Now, you'll appreciate how much I've suffered. Now, you'll feel sorry for criticizing me." BOOM! "How do you like this?!"

Please, folks, let's call things what they are.


In the NY Times today was this sports headline: Is This Seat Taken? In Front Rows of New Ballparks, No

Guess I'm not the only one skipping the $300 seats at Yankee Stadium! (See my previous post)


"I don't consider him to be a particularly reliable source of information."
Hillary Clinton......on Dick Cheney




WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama left the door open Tuesday to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations, saying the United States lost "our moral bearings" with use of the tactics.

The question of whether to bring charges against those who devised justification for the methods "is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws and I don't want to prejudge that," Obama said.


GOD, I love clarity!!

Last week on the Jon Stewart show came one of the most refreshing and cogent moments in the last six month regarding the financial debacle caused by the crooks and liars in our country over the last three decades. Elizabeth Warren, overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program ("TARP"), outlined in unvarnished terms the real economic history of booms and busts in the U.S., and what kind of attitude and approach has caused them. It's beautiful.

Here's Warren:

"In 1792, in our young country, George Washington is president in his first term, and there's a credit freeze, a financial panic. Every 10 to fifteen years since then, there's been a financial panic in our history, a big collapse, people losing their farms, wiped out... until we hit the Great Depression. We came out of the Great Depression and we said: 'We can do better than this. We don't have to go back to this boom and bust cycle.' We came out of the Great Depression with three main regulations: the F.D.I.C - which made it safe to put your money in banks, Glass-Steigel - which prevented banks from doing crazy things, and S.E.C. regulations. We go FIFTY YEARS without a panic.

Then comes 1980 and "we started pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric and what's the first thing we get? We get the Savings & Loan Crisis. Seven hundred financial institutions fail. Ten years later what do we get? Long Term Capital Management, where we learn that when something collapses in one place in the world it collapses everywhere else. Early 2000s, we get Enron, which tells us the books are dirty. And what is our repeated response? We just keep pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric.

"So we have two choices - we are going to make a big decision, probably over about the next six months. And the big decision we are going to make is to go one way or another. We are going to decide, basically, 'Hey, we don't need regulation. You know, it is fine. Boom and bust, boom and bust, boom and bust... and good luck with your 401K!' Or alternatively we are going to say, you know, 'We are going to go out with some smart regulation that is going to adapt to the fact that we have new products and what we are going to have going forward is we are going to have some stability and real prosperity for ordinary folks."

"And that," Jon Stewart offered with a sarcastic tip of the tongue, "is socialism!"


Last month, 65 House Democrats said they would block any attempt to resurrect an expired federal ban against assault weapons. The pro-gun Democrats, led by Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, wrote Attorney General Eric Holder saying they opposed not only a ban on military-style guns, but also efforts "to pass any similar law." Despite eight rampages that have claimed 57 lives since March 10, "it hasn't sparked any national goal to deal with this epidemic. In fact, it's going the other way," said Scott Vogel of the Freedom States Alliance, a gun control activist group.

I mean, of course, it's not that people who want to own guns are getting them for anything other than target practice or hunting for their food, right? I mean, nobody would kill animals for fun, right? Or kill to express their political views, right? I mean, that's what inbred, xenophobic, homophobic hate mongers and terrorists do, right, not ordinary citizens who just love shooting at cans on tree stumps. RIGHT?! Don't you want to buy an automatic assault weapon, so you can blissfully blow a tin can to hell?! I mean, you don't harbor any murderous fantasies that you'd like to act out, do you?


"I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art."
Kahlil Gibran


Here's our friend, Rick, catching up and commenting on a variety of recent blog posts:

"Great blog on the "Hatching" phenomenon. As someone who was hatched after 15 plus years of not living as a whole person, the world is so much easier to navigate. I was successful, happy and had my stuff together. I lived life on my terms and could easily justify I was just fine. I could point to my career, my relationships with wonderful people, my family + friends. Life was grand so what the heck did I need to "work on"? It took one person to call me out and simply described my "character flaw". It took a bit to sink in, but that person was right.
I think you nailed the issue for many people as the barriers to their state of peace. I see it everyday in the eyes of my students. They have these defenses that are striclty survival techniques. I am blessed with the trust of some of them and have helped them toward hatching themselves. When it happens, a big light bulb does go off and you can literally see that the anxiety or insecurity has been fleeing their body + mind. Great work Peter in supporting what we all should be striving to achieve. Although no need to be demeaning, straight talk and no sugar coating is necessary for those of us who think we have it together or those of us who just make excuses instead of looking in the mirror. I was guilty on both counts. Thanks for putting into words what is the essence of therapy and/or self-work.
L56+ Pete Thanks for the clarification on your points about character flaws. Excellent analogy with Clinton and his impeachment. It did nothing but keep us from focusing on what was really important. My mind was a bit muddled at the time and it makes sense now. I agree that assigning Obama's inaction against Bush as a character flaw is a bit of a stretch but hey, it is Peter's blog.
On your take about Texas seceding, it is no surprise the splitered republican party would latch onto an idea that will actually weaken the party. History proves that a party that has ruled too long, begins to forget its base and why it was given power by the people in the first place. This situation allows for someone who otherwise would never make it, to navigate a different party line and win the nomination. If it weren't for the Dems in 2000 + 2004, Obama would never had had a chance. ( The Dems were going to win due to the Repubs + Bush, but "who" was the question?) If it weren't for Nixon and I would argue LBJ, Reagan would never have made it. But I digress.
Intellectually, I struggle with, as I do with the right of the South to have done the same 150 years ago, that secession is "un" American. Our country is built on self-determination, "land of the free", "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property/happiness" so why not allow a state to "self-determine" it's alliance? I'm still chewing on this one.
As far as not going after Bush, I equate it to some other person who has done you wrong. Is it more important to the victim that the person gets what's due to them or is it more important that the "wronged" seek help to forgive and be able to move on "hatched" again? I tend to think the healing is inward and not external. If Bush + his cronies all get imprisoned for life, how will that help this country? However, if we act to prevent those past transgressions from ever happening again, now there is something we can celebrate and Obama has the mandate to do this.
As I formulated my positions on big social + political issues, the Sicilian in me clouded my thoughts. "Fry the bastards!" who rape + murder children was my rallying cry. However, when I ran for public office, I had to re-examine all of my positions to see if they really were indicative of who I am. I would be tested on my thoughts by people who's main focus, and, for some, life's mission was a particular issue. The death penalty was no different. After research, and particularly testimonials from both families of victims + prisoners, I was left with no choice but to change my view. It was obvious that killing the perpetrator had no lasting impact on the mental health of the victim's family's state of mind. I have come to agree that understanding and forgiveness is the key to being whole again after one has been wronged. Forgiving and understanding can sometimes appear to be a near impossible journey, but one worth taking. Until one does, I think one may remain in the egg, "unhatched".
My gut tells me this, but I'm open to what others have to say."


Here's my third installment of this series in which I try to use current news items of a horrific nature to make clear that while we may all be equal under the law and "endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights," we are not all the same. We are not all sane, and we are not all at the same level of soul development. Not recognizing that fact is and has been the cause of many enormous difficulties in our world and in our personal lives. If we think that we're all operating with the same quantity and quality of internal resources, then we can only conclude that the insane, violent, greedy/needy perpetrators of the world's most heinous crimes are insane by choice... a conclusion which in itself is insane!

If you are a relatively sane adult, a relatively mature soul, then it is your responsibility to assert yourself in the world in a manner commensurate with your level of development, and likewise, to contain in a firm and supportive way the acting out of the younger, crazier beings on this planet. Sorry, but that is your job, personally in your own lives, and through the people you elect to represent you.

Please, let's finally get this correct, okay?

The Indian father in the first news item below isn't selling his daughter because he's poor. He's doing it because he's primitive, greedy and a low-level sociopath.

Likewise, torturing someone 6 times a day for a month isn't done - ever! - for national security purposes. It is an act of sadism performed by a demented infant soul who finds pleasure in sadistic acting out.

The father who offed his whole family, including himself? Stop! There's no economics involved here. Just insanity.

And really, folks, desperately wanting to own guns, hating people because of their race or sexual orientation or religion, religion in the first place? These aren't the positions of mature souls. They are not. And we need to stop acting like they are.

Read these and tell me what you think.

"Father of Slumdog Millionaire child star Rubina Ali plans to become a millionaire himself-by SELLING his nine-year-old daughter"

"U.S. Waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 Times in One Month"

"Father Kills Wife, 3 Kids, Before Committing Suicide"

Here are the links to my first two installments - WE'RE NOT ALL THE SAME and REPOST: "WE'RE NOT ALL THE SAME."

And finally, click on these pictures and tell me if you and these guys are playing with the same number of chips!


THIS IS FROM ANDREW SULLIVAN'S BLOG on the recent release by the Obama Justice Department of the horrific memos from the Bush-Cheney administration rationalizing the useless, inhuman and inhumane torture techniques used for years... and for what reason?

Here's Andrew:

"Perhaps you are reading these documents alongside me. I've only read the Bybee memo, as chilling an artifact as you are ever likely to read in a democratic society, the work clearly not of a lawyer assessing torture techniques in good faith, but of an administration official tasked with finding how torture techniques already decided upon can be parsed in exquisitely disingenuous ways to fit the law, even when they clearly do not. This is what Hannah Arendt wrote of when she talked of the banality of evil. To read a bureaucrat finding ways to describe and parse away the clear infliction of torture on a terror suspect well outside any "ticking time bomb" scenario is to realize what so many of us feared and sensed from the shards of information we have been piecing together for years. It is all true. These memos form a coda to the Red Cross report, confirming its evidentiary conclusions, while finding exquisite, legalistic and preposterous ways to deny the obvious.
I do not believe that any American president has ever orchestrated, constructed or so closely monitored the torture of other human beings the way George W. Bush did. It is clear that it is pre-meditated; and it is clear that the parsing of torture techniques that you read in the report is a simply disgusting and repellent piece of dishonesty and bad faith."




“AUNTLORI” writes below about an epidemic that I’ve written about extensively on this blog and on the Park Slope-centered blog, “ONLY THE BLOG KNOWS BROOKLYN." It is the narcissistically-inspired plague of parental over-involvement with their children.

As both a mother of a toddler and a teacher of college students, AUNTLORI sees the results of this vicarious acting out by parents at both ends of the journey of childhood. Whether your child is 18 months or 18 years old, Mom and Dad, you are gutting their genuine confidence and sense of self, and thereby causing them to seek the over-compensation of self-aggrandizement and exaggerated self-importance, or to collapse into permanent co-dependence, because of your neediness.

Make no mistake, parents, your ingratiating indulgence and overprotective hovering is not a measure of your love for your kids. In fact, it is not love at all. It is you desperately trying to possess and control your kids so that they can fulfill for you what you feel you haven’t fulfilled for yourself. Your fantasy is that instead of doing the hard work of healing your own wounds from your own childhood, you can simply live out a new childhood through your unsuspecting children. How nefarious and selfish is that?


"What struck me most about this was not the absurdity of parental involvement in playground battles, but the fact that when I recollect my own playground adventures as a young child, there were no parents at the playground! I lived in a crowded suburban neighborhood, with a playground down the street. It was always loaded with kids, but there were no parents standing guard. We walked down the street by ourselves, played, fought, and got hurt by ourselves. I realize that life in the city vs. life in suburia is not the same; however, most playgrounds today, even in the safest of neighborhoods, are littered with parents ready to pounce. How do kids develop confidence and independence, if they are not given any? I was shopping at a local mall recently, on a particularly cold day and stopped in at the indoor playground to let my 18 month old burn off some energy. I sat down on a bench and watched him go. It was amazing to watch all the parents hovering over each toy, slide, and groups of kids. What in the world is going to happen in a fully contained, padded indoor playground? And I wondered why, as a college professor, so many of my 18 year old students wanted someone to hold their hand through each and every assignment and exam!"



Here's L56:

"Texas Seceding? Uh… OK.

Generally I try to be patient, and understanding of my conservative
friends out there. I like to think that most of the time their crazy
ideas are misguided at best, sometimes just a result of identity
politics. But this one about Texas Seceding, I just have to come out
and say it: this is just plain stupid. Not just stupid stupid but it’s
actually a stupid move for them.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s a clip of Glen Beck
and Greta Van Susteren riling up a crowd outside of the Alamo from one
of Wednesday’s “Tea Parties”. Protesting the outrageous early ‘90s tax
rates that we’re all “suffering” through right now. Mr. Beck manages
to get the crowd to start chanting “Secede” referring to the idea of
Texas seceding from the union that Texas Governor, Rick Perry,
recently said was a possibility. I’ll also point out that Mr. Beck
manages to identify some people in the crowd who are not from Texas.
So apparently there are conservatives that don’t live in Texas that
like the idea of Texas seceding.

Governor Perry also claimed that when Texas entered the union in 1845
it “was with the understanding that it could pull out”. The correct
version is that Texas retained the right to divide into four different
states, not the right to secede.

Besides not realizing that it’s not actually legal for Texas to
secede, here’s what really boggles my mind - nobody thought of the
political consequences of a Texas secession!!!

Electoral College. Duh. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t think Texas will
ever vote for a democratic president - even if his name was Jesus
Christ. Take away the electoral college votes from Texas in the 2000
election, and you get President Gore. Even Kerry’s pathetic showing in
2004 would have been only one electoral vote shy of a tie. (Although
it would have been moot because Gore would have been the incumbent not
Bush). If Texas secedes from the union it will be almost impossible
for a Republican to take office.

The Senate. Republicans hold 41 seats in a 100 seat senate right now
(41%). Take away Texas’ two Republican senators, Republicans hold 39
out of 98 (39.8%) – they lose their filibuster.

So why would any conservative (not from Texas) think it’s a good idea
for Texas to secede?

Here’s the kicker, if Texas were to take the option of dividing into 4
different states they would gain 6 senate seats!!!! There probably
wouldn’t be much of an effect on electoral college votes as they would
most likely be divided somewhat equally. But, duh!!! If they really
want a more conservative country, they would divide. But apparently
the cry of “Secede” and “Independence Now” sounds much more patriotic
than, “Divide!” But isn’t that just the Republican way? Sound-bite
over substance or logic any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

So the bottom line, Texas secedes = the whole country moves to the
left, Texans have their independence and they can cut taxes and
contently watch their infrastructure, education and social programs
all crumble right before their very eyes. Good for us. Not so good for
them. But they’re the stupid ones (and I’m not being condescending
here, they’d actually be stupid to do this) that want it, so… whatever…
As for me, give me the word, and I’ll happily start sewing the first
49 star flag.

Posted with my apologies to my few liberal friends hailing from the
Lone Star state."


The primary motivation of the right wing fringe in this country (and sadly, what remains of the Republican Party) is no different than what drives all fundamentalist groups throughout the world - IGNORANCE, HATE and FEAR, specifically, fear of the Other.

The driving mania behind a ludicrous economic philosophy that presumes that welfare and socialism for the wealthy is good for the country, while the same for working class citizens is bad, is rooted in a primal terror - of all races other than one's own, of femininity in general, and sensuality overall, of the young and elderly, of artists, of truly spiritual people and of any whose overt sexual orientation is other than heterosexual.

Who does that leave, obviously? Pseudo religious, pseudo-straight fanatics between the ages of 35 and 65, lacking in any real depths of sensuality, artistic sensibilities or true spirituality, latently riddled with castration anxiety and misogyny, who are full of paranoid rage and the hormonal balance of a pubescent boy. Oh... and Ann Coulter.

Ironically, but appropriately, most of the extremists are working class, and so have suffered mightily at the hands of the Republicans ever since the advent of Nixon's "Southern Strategy," followed up by Reagan's "trickle down" con, and whatever the Bushes' economic policies could be called besides, let's call it, "soak-the-poor theocracy."

Meanwhile, these "Tea Party" saps go out and shill for the rich like children who feel compelled to defend their own abusive, alcoholic fathers. Why? Because the crooks and liars in Washington and on Wall Street promise to alleviate the primitive fears of said pseudo-children by keeping progressives of any sort in check. As long as they vote to keep the rich free from regulations and taxes.

Folks, never underestimate how stupid irrational fear can make you!


"In these times of parental over-involvement, even an innocent playground fight becomes one more excuse to over-manage the kids and spout platitudes about parenting and appropriate behavior. But the truth is, you can’t shield your kid from the reality of a playground fight or the possibility of a minor injury."
Louise "Smartmom" Crawford


"I hope, had I known about it at the time I was serving, I would've had the courage to resign."
Richard Armitage (the second in command at the State Department under President Bush, in an interview to be aired Thursday, saying that had he known then what he knows now about the torture of detainees, the right thing to do would have been to resign)









NEWS ITEM from last night, in which Sean Hannity was begrudging President Obama credit for resolving the Somali pirate hostage situation.
The headline read: Hannity's Own Guest Calls His Obama Attacks Excessive
"I've had this brain for thirty years. It hasn't done me any good!"
Lou Costello (as "Wilbur Grey" in "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein")


I'm not going to respond to this round, so...

Here's LOFF56:

"But I think you're missing the even bigger picture. The constitution and the laws of our country are but a part of what they violated. The damaged integrity of our nation goes way beyond the legality of their actions. I mean sure we could follow the letter of the law and prosecute them verbatim on their transgressions, but that doesn't in any way address the real crimes. There were just as many, if not more things that they did that were actually within the letter of the law and within their legitimate power that were, and this is an understatement, not in the spirit of our national character. How do we prosecute that? This is very similar to the way Wall Street screwed us over. Most, (albeit not all), the things that these banks did that caused this economic catastrophe were basically within the letter of the law. We can't legally prosecute them. It's an inherent problem with our legal system AND our constitution!!

There are other means of dealing with these guys besides the law, the Geneva Convention and the Constitution. The court of public opinion (arguably the highest court in the land) has already sentenced these guys to the 'political gas chamber.' To bring them into a real courtroom to defend their actions is like bringing a dead convict back to life so he can stand trial for a second murder he committed.

I do appreciate your concern though. There's a good point to be made about sending the wrong messages to criminals. And you're correct about what happened when Ford pardoned Nixon. But the other side of that coin is that we convicted Clinton, impeached him and made him a national embarrassment. But to what end... The whole thing was turned around so that he ended up looking like a victim of political sabotage, he's arguably more popular now then he was when he was president and his wife almost became the President. What message does that send? Cheat on your wife with an intern, then lie about it and good things will happen to you? Obviously the transgressions are not even closely comparable, but the point is that using the law as a means of punishment doesn't always have the desired effect.

The 'wave out the back door' by the way, was more of a clever metaphor on Obama's part, the true extrication of the Bush administration and it's policies started with the mid-term election of '06 (maybe even before that) and swelled over the next two years culminating with the overwhelming election of Obama. That's two plus years of "confronting the violators" in my opinion. We've dealt with this tragedy, confronted it head on, put it to rest, bought the T-Shirt and the fat lady has sung. There's only so much 'confronting of the tragedy' we can do before it becomes a dangerous obsession.

I really feel that we are so on our way to good things to come that opening an old wound like that just so we can make sure it's healing properly is kind of a pointless distraction.

By the way, the fact that Bush and Cheney are enjoying their retirement in their cushy homes with their millions of dollars is really a red herring to me. Taking away their money or their freedom for that matter is so secondary to what's been taken away from them already, their influence and their legacy. As the saying goes, "You can't take it with you", (money and things that is). But, you can take your legacy with you. And both of them have nothing of the sort to speak of right now."



"For Rick's sake, regarding the debate that Pete and I had about character flaws. Personally, I didn't think the debate was about what's a flaw, what's not a flaw, who's got what flaw etc... but rather whether or not what we do (or more specifically what Obama doesn't do about Bush) is actually the result of a flaw or just a simple intellectual decision. My argument is that Pete, and other therapists alike, always run the risk of assessing an opinion that disagrees with their own as being a result of something inherently wrong with that individual as opposed to just being simply a different opinion. This is not a precise metaphor, but it's sort of like a lumberjack looking at a tree and imagining how many 2x4s he can get out of it, whereas you and I just see the tree for what it is - a tree.

Regarding the Obama-Bush dilemma at hand. One of the most poignant things at Obama's inauguration in my opinion was the deliberate staging of Obama walking the Bushes out the back of the Capital Building and to the helicopter. Obama then, instead of turning around to continue on with the festivities, stood on the steps for a good ten to fifteen minutes as he waited for the helicopter with the Bush family inside to take off. And it wasn't until the helicopter was a good distance into the horizon that Obama finally turned around and went on with the day. This was nearly a 30-45 minute event from start to finish that no other incoming president had ever done. No president has ever escorted the outgoing president out of the inauguration ceremony. And the way that Obama did it was so deliberate that to me it seemed that he subversively saying to America, "See folks, he's really gone. I saw to it that he left, and you can trust me that he will never be allowed to have any influence on our country ever again." I think Obama knew then and knows now how poisonous Bush was and is. And I think that if he truly thought that prosecuting him would be to the benefit of the country, he would do it.

If it were me in Obama's position, I wouldn't want to put Bush through that process and allow him once again to have the stage. I think what would happen is that Bush (and Cheney) would be brought up on charges which would give him the opportunity to have yet another forum to defend his actions, to espouse his poisonous policy and get the Rush Limbaughs of the world some more red meat to chew on. It would just further irritate the divide in this country that Bush created.

I think Obama's doing exactly what he should be doing with Bush, letting him and his ideology fade away into the history books. The Republican party is in such shambles right now because of this beheading, if you will, they have no choice but to reform and come back as something better. And even if we still disagree with them then, at least, (hopefully), they'll be improved. I say let him fade away. That's the worst punishment a politician can suffer anyway. Besides, I have no cathartic interest in seeing his dumb face on TV again."


My interest in seeing the Bush gang prosecuted for their crimes isn't for "cathartic" purposes, L56. And indeed, from the big picture perspective, which is the one I generally like to take, I agree that the dismembered and humiliated state of the GOP as a result of their malfeasance, hypocrisy and incompetence over the last eight years is one measure of cause and effect "justice" for some of the perpetrators in question.

However, my genuine concern, here, is for the U.S. Constitution and the measure of consistent and fair application of the laws in our country. Part of the reason the Dick Cheney's of this country, and the actual Dick Cheney, felt they could get away with the crimes they committed over the last 8 years is directly related to the fact that Dick's crony, "Dick" Nixon, was recklessly pardoned by Gerald Ford, supposedly for the sake of ending our "national nightmare." Well, unfortunately, Watergate wasn't a dream, and neither is violating the Constitution and the Geneva Convention or committing war crimes.

To arbitrarily dismiss legally the heinous and undermining actions of our leaders is to send what kind of message? What are you really proposing, guys?

It's not as if anyone is even claiming that these guys are somehow being accused unfairly, or will be tried or sentenced inappropriately, which could be a justification for a pardon. Your position on this, L56, and Rick's, and Obama's, seems to simply be - "We don't want to deal with it because it's too distracting or distasteful. Let's just move on."

What better outcome could a psychopath hope for?! "After I shoot-up and rob your town, if you just let me leave, you can go back to sleep in peace." Really? If I were a prospective criminal, or a Somali pirate, that would sure encourage me.

Odd that Obama understood that "distracting" ourselves by taking out those pirates had to be done to send the right message, but he seems not to get that the crooks, liars and killers in our own highest echelons of government and finance have to be likewise taken out to send the right message.

Furthermore, anyone with even a minimal knowledge of human psychology knows that in order to heal from a tragedy, loss or assault of any kind, one has to face the violations head on, which often must include confronting the violators with more than just a wave as they walk out the "back door."

Again, this isn't the "big picture" perspective, but in the "small picture," where we need laws and limits on behavior until we become an enlightened society, we do ourselves a great disservice by being penny-wise and pound foolish with justice.

Glad you boys are back!


It's been a while since we heard from him, so on behalf of those of you in his fan base, welcome back, Rick! I'll respond at the end, but to kick it off...

Here's Rick:

"As usual, I am trying to figure out the dance you and L56 are having. For us simpletons, can you, and L56, provide the readers with what you each think you have as a character flaw? And then, comment on each others representation of that very character flaw. This makes the examples much easier to wrap our hands around as opposed to the extreme examples that pervade this stream.

With regards to Obama not pursuing Bush + his officials, your take on that doesn't include the politics involved as well as the overall good that would bring. Ford had to pardon Nixon. Can you imagine what that would have done to our country if he didn't? The people responded loudly + clearly to the establishment, a Nixon was inevitable.

Like Ford, Obama is faced with bigger fish to fry. Some may be from the previous administration, but this, as you indicated, has been brewing for decades. A Bush was inevitable and so too was this mess. I just didn't think it would happen so soon! History tells us that this economic mess coupled with unethical people making the decisions(I'm thinking capt. of industry + lawmakers not Obama) is a recipe for a permanent downturn in our country. However, the U.S. has seen this before over the past 2 centuries, yet it continues to bounce back, somehow, to lead the world. Although I have little use for the Clinton Presidency because I thought he was capable of being one of the greatest presidents, what good did it do to impeach him + put him on trial?

The system allows for these individuals and these absurd actions and decisions that continue to plaque many ruling nations. The US is no different. Obama's energy should be spent on how we can prevent this from happening again. By prosecuting the transgressors of yesterday, doesn't address the real issue. That is not to say they shouldn't be prosecuted, but in times like these, looking back, in my opinion (Oh no! My own character flaw? ha-ha) doesn't serve the best interest of our country, its people and our president.

I never did get a response from your readers about my using the same tactics on my students as you use on your patients. I was surprised that you put a spin on it to say that I was calling your readers out. In reality, I was trying to find consistency in thought. If the readers agreed that they felt it necessary and constructive to have the teachers of their children call them "stupid", "idiots," etc. then there is consistency and I respect them, and you, for your honesty. I totally disagree with that approach, but at least it is honest. If they said, as I know most of the parents that I deal with would, it is ludicrous to treat my son/daughter that way, I agree.

Why do you think no one responded?"


Well, taking the first thing first, it would be quite a project to begin listing what I know are my flaws, Rick, but suffice it to say that anything that I do that is damaging to myself, someone else or the environment is a manifestation of a flaw in my character. (This is what I said in my dialogue with Loff56 last week, by the way.)

Taking the last thing next, I think you misunderstood a bit when we had the dialogue about telling someone that they're "stupid." I don't, as a matter of course, whether in my role as therapist or otherwise, off-handedly call people stupid. I do take into consideration a variety of factors before delivering that kind of punch, and I certainly wouldn't say that it is a regular tool I use as a therapist or teacher, nor would I advise any other therapist or teacher to wantonly do so. But there is a time and place for every kind of intervention, I have found, again, as long as it is not damaging anyone.

Finally, taking the middle subject last - on Obama and the crimes of the Bush administration, I am reprinting below a piece I wrote on this subject a bit ago that responds to your comments.

Thanks, Rick. Good to have you back!

Here's my piece:


Well, this is a difficult one - I frequently tell my patients who have been wounded in their childhoods (which is all of them) that facing the wounds inflicted by one's parents, and the rage and pain that comes with them, does not necessarily mean confronting said parents in present time. Healing is a personal, inner process from which healthy behavior will follow, but confronting your old tormentors isn't always a practical or valuable thing. What's more important now is that you're not allowing yourself to be injured by them, or anyone else, any longer.

What's difficult for me about applying this approach to the national scene, however, or the collective as it were, is that very often by not confronting the damage done by perpetrators in positions of political, business, religious or other institutional leadership, we can inadvertently set the stage for further acting out and damage.

Bob Herbert made this point in the NY Times, in an op-ed piece, at the end of 2008, entitled: "ADD UP THE DAMAGE."
Herbert starts out by saying: "When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry, a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches, over the damage he’s done to this country."

Well, I agree with Bob, but I actually think more needs to be done than howling in order for the collective consciousness to heal from the crimes of our leaders. When Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for the high crimes that led to his resignation, the country was not able to heal its collective wounds from being so betrayed by a leader in high office. If George Bush, Dick Cheney and many others who committed very high crimes indeed, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, are allowed to go off unaccountable except to the annals of history, our collective psyches will not be able to heal. I do truly feel that for Barack Obama to bring the nation together in the way he is inclined to, he must see to it that his Justice Department holds the previous administration accountable for the damage it has inflicted.

Here's a bit more from Bob Herbert:

"The catalog of Mr. Bushes' transgressions against the nation’s interests — sins of commission and omission — would keep Mr. Bush in a confessional for the rest of his life. Don’t hold your breath. He’s hardly the contrite sort. He told ABC’s Charlie Gibson: 'I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it."

Well, Mr. Bush, we actually cannot leave you to a history you won't be interested in or around to read. You are now our responsibility.


Hot off the press by PAUL KRUGMAN, Nobel Prize-winning economist:

"This is a column about Republicans — and I’m not sure I should even be writing it.

Today’s G.O.P. is, after all, very much a minority party. It retains some limited ability to obstruct the Democrats, but has no ability to make or even significantly shape policy.

Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

But here’s the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn’t stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation’s two great political parties.

One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so.

But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

Thus, President Obama is being called a “socialist” who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration. Bizarre.

But the charge of socialism is being thrown around only because “liberal” doesn’t seem to carry the punch it used to. And if you go back just a few years, you find top Republican figures making equally bizarre claims about what liberals were up to. Remember when Karl Rove declared that liberals wanted to offer “therapy and understanding” to the 9/11 terrorists?

Then there are the claims made at some recent tea-party events that Mr. Obama wasn’t born in America, which follow on earlier claims that he is a secret Muslim. Crazy stuff — but nowhere near as crazy as the claims, during the last Democratic administration, that the Clintons were murderers, claims that were supported by a campaign of innuendo on the part of big-league conservative media outlets and figures, especially Rush Limbaugh.

Speaking of Mr. Limbaugh: the most impressive thing about his role right now is the fealty he is able to demand from the rest of the right. The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials. But while it’s new to have a talk-radio host in that role, ferocious party discipline has been the norm since the 1990s, when Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, became known as “The Hammer” in part because of the way he took political retribution on opponents.

Going back to those tea parties, Mr. DeLay, a fierce opponent of the theory of evolution — he famously suggested that the teaching of evolution led to the Columbine school massacre — also foreshadowed the denunciations of evolution that have emerged at some of the parties.

Last but not least: it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.

But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the “spontaneous” riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.

So what’s the implication of the fact that Republicans are refusing to grow up, the fact that they are still behaving the same way they did when history seemed to be on their side? I’d say that it’s good for Democrats, at least in the short run — but it’s bad for the country.

For now, the Obama administration gains a substantial advantage from the fact that it has no credible opposition, especially on economic policy, where the Republicans seem particularly clueless.

But as I said, the G.O.P. remains one of America’s great parties, and events could still put that party back in power. We can only hope that Republicans have moved on by the time that happens."


THIS is beautiful, really beautiful, from THE LOVE WE MAKE blog:

"About a week ago, a pretty light brown bird (a friend of mine thought it might be a Mockingbird) made her nest on our fire escape. I can see it from where I sit while at my computer. Like most nests, it is made of small brown twigs loosely put together in concentric circles and in it lay two, seemly perfect, small brilliant white eggs. I felt honored she picked our fire escape in which to give birth to new life.

A few days later, while sitting at my computer, I heard a loud noise which sounded like something heavy was dropped and then very large wings flapping, when I looked out I saw a large black bird hanging on the side of that very fire escape struggling to get her beak into the unprotected nest. Before I could move, I saw her lift her head and right inside her beak was one of those perfect white eggs. She held her head up- like a perfect picture, the contrast of the bright white egg against her raven blue-black gleaming head was striking, she looked enormous compared to the egg she held between her long black beak and in an instant she turned her head and flew off with it, just like that...it was gone.

A few minutes later, the mother arrived back to the nest only to find one remaining egg. She circled the nest a few times, bobbing her head in a bit, before sitting down to brood. I felt sad, a thief had kidnapped one of her precious eggs, even worse, feasted on it.

It brought up so many feelings for me, besides being the mother of two children, I also had two miscarriages, which I deeply mourned. I felt that familiar feeling creeping up in me, the feeling of mourning the loss of what might have been.

Everyday after that I watched the Mama bird sit on her solitary egg, now less frequently leaving to forage for food. Three more days passed and still she sat diligently waiting, brooding.

I started to become obsessed with the impending event, every day feeling more like an expectant parent myself, starting to anticipate the excitement of new life.

Upon awakening today I noticed some other bird flying around the fire escape. I quickly opened the blinds and there it was... an empty nest. I then saw Mama bird land, look around, circle the nest, and when it finally seemed to register that her last egg had been stolen, she flew off, this time for good. I stood there horrified at first, and when it all sank in, I cried.

In my opinion, the birth of a new life is, without question, the closest thing to heaven we have here on earth. There is something so awesome, so powerful and so deeply moving about giving birth to new life, it is certainly one of the more miraculous things we humans ever get to experience and witness.

So I have to ask myself today; What is the deeper message in this for me?

Is it about life, loss, endings, missed opportunities, the ruthlessness of nature?

Only a moment passes before I realize it's impossible NOT to see it...after all, the empty nest is now sitting right outside my window."


This is a headline, in THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY, to really make a sane adult cheer: DOBSON POINTS TO CULTURE WAR DEFEAT

Yep! The infamous champion of intolerance and hypocrisy, James Dobson, delivered a farewell speech to the Focus on the Family staff, and conceded that the culture war he helped start hasn't turned out well. Indeed, Dobson almost sounded resigned to defeat.

Here's the rest of the story from the article:

"James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family -- one of the largest Christian groups in the country - and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reversal for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff.

'We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action,' Dobson said. 'We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.'

That said, whether Dobson and his cohorts give up now or not, his assessment about their lack of success is nevertheless accurate. The culture war is all but over, and far-right evangelicals have precious little to show for their efforts. After about three decades of fighting, the culture warriors are hard pressed to point to any progress at all.

Anti-gay animus is not only waning, four states now allow gay marriage. Abortion is still legal and a majority of Americans are still pro-choice. School prayer isn't even on the political world's radar screen anymore. Pornography is not only a multi-billion industry; it's more accessible than ever. The single fasting growing segment of the American spiritual landscape is non-believers and those with no religious identification.

In 1998, President Clinton's approval rating went up after getting caught in a sex scandal, and in 2008, the first admitted adulterer to ever run for president sought and won the Republican Party's presidential nomination.

Not only does the Republican Party establishment largely ignore its theocratic wing, but there are growing fissures in evangelical Christian communities, with a growing number of evangelicals, especially younger ones, rejecting the Dobson agenda and political worldview.

Dobson isn't giving up, and I suspect the religious right movement will keep pushing its misguided agenda. But humanly speaking, this crowd has not only lost all their battles, they should probably stop trying to win."SEE YA!!


On the first of April, I wrote a piece entitled "I WARNED YOU: NARCISSISM RUINS COUNTRIES," spinning off an article on Slate.com, "But Enough About You …What is narcissistic personality disorder, and why does everyone seem to have it?" by Emily Yoffe.

The news is chock full of stories about how rampant narcissism has ravaged everything from our financial lives to our love lives, and how impulsive, soulless acquisitiveness and immediate gratification have replaced integrity, creative productiveness and a genuine sense of self.

In his op-ed piece in today's NY Times, for example, Frank Rich wrote: "In the bubble decade, making money as an end in itself boomed as a calling among students at elite universities like Harvard, siphoning off gifted undergraduates who might otherwise have been scientists, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, artists or inventors. The Harvard Crimson reported that in the class of 2007, 58 percent of the men and 43 percent of the women entering the work force took jobs in the finance and consulting industries."

Also in the Times is an article about a sad trend in dating services that's really booming: "At first glance, the Web site SeekingArrangement.com seems like any other dating site, but Seeking Arrangement is a down-and-dirty marketplace where older moneyed men and cute young women engage in brutally frank transactions. They’re not searching for longtime soul mates; they want no-strings-attached 'arrangements' that trade in society’s most valued currencies: wealth, youth and beauty. - connecting 'Sugar Daddies' and 'Sugar Babies."

And of course, we've all heard the stories (The New York Post was all over it!) about how scores of professional New York women stripped of their six-figure jobs on Wall Street are now working at upscale Manhattan strip joints. Former Wall Streeters, fashion executives and real-estate agents are pole dancing and stripping for as much as $1,500 a night. What a perfectly appropriate professional segue that is, huh?

Yes, all you baby boomer parents who overindulged your children (and still are), read your 401K's and weep as the hopelessly orally fixated children you created drain your savings and use their sexuality to get more and more stuff to stuff their bottomless egos with.

You did this, parents.

Every time you treated your sons and daughters like princes and princesses (costumes and all!), every time you gave up your sex life with your spouse to allow your children into your bed, and thereby sexualized (inadvertently or not) your kids as a result, every time you made your kids the center of the Universe in their own personal fairy tales, you were creating the narcissistic, impulse-ridden, discipline-deprived hedge fund criminals and high class hookers who perhaps could have been making the innovations, inventing the technologies, or creating beauty in our country instead.

Here's more from Frank Rich:

"On Wall Street over the past decade, money came first, last and in between. There was no 'thing' being made at all unless you count the slicing and dicing of debt into financial 'products,' the incomprehensible derivatives that helped bring down the economy, costing some five million Americans their jobs (so far) and countless more their 401(k)’s."

How much more damage is yet to come? How much more damage will parents do to their children, the "prisoners of childhood" once written about by Alice Miller in her landmark book, DRAMA OF THE GIFTED CHILD, about how parents create narcissistic children, gutted of any true self esteem by the vicarious needs of their insecure, immature parents?

Here's Alice Miller:

Quite often I have been faced with people who were praised and admired for their talents and their achievements. According to prevailing attitudes, these people - the pride and joy of their parents - should have had a strong and stable sense of self-assurance. But the case is exactly the opposite. They are plagued by anxiety or deep feelings of guilt and shame."

Indeed. And what is the quick fix sought after by these kids to ameliorate those negative feelings? More stuff.

So, folks, now that your "gifted children" have stolen your stuff, maybe you'll finally work on getting a life of your own?

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