November 2007


According to CNN, the man who took hostages at Hillary Clinton did so because of his “inability to get mental health treatment.” People in his town say that this has been a problem for a long time.

This country does not do enough for people with mental illness. There are not enough clinics, not enough hospitals, and too much stigma. Even in jail, there’s not enough help for people with mental health problems.

I hope that the government sees this as a reason to have more mental health care in clinics and elsewhere. But more likely they will use it as an excuse to just throw more mentally ill people in jail and not offer them any help at all.

Arrest ends standoff at Clinton campaign office

A man complaining about his inability to get mental health treatment held hostages for more than five hours Friday inside Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign office in Rochester, N.H., before surrendering to police. Police identified the man as Leeland Eisenberg. Five hostages were released unharmed. full story

In general, I have really strong opinions about things. But I am not sure how I feel about the reports of online bullying of kids. On the one hand, kids need to be protected from sexual abuse and all that kind of stuff. On the other hand, is the online world better or worse than the regular world?

Here is what CNN is saying:

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — As many as one in three U.S. children have been ridiculed or threatened through computer messages, according to one estimate of the emerging problem of cyberbullying.

 

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The frequency and severity of online aggression experienced by young people is the topic of new research.

Another new study found the problem is less common, with one in 10 kids reporting online harassment.

But health experts said even the lower estimate signals a growing and concerning public health issue.

“I wouldn’t consider something that 10 percent of kids report as low,” said Janis Wolak, a University of New Hampshire researcher and co-author of the second study.

Wolak and other researchers, though, found that in many cases the incidents of online harassment were relatively mild.

What they don’t say is how young the “kids” are and how bad the harassment is. Are they being harassed by kids or adults? Did anyone teach them how to reply or don’t reply? I’ve had a few really pesky obnoxious boys send me way too many IM’s or weird messages, but I just blocked them on my IM and my email.

Compare that 10% to this:

The schoolyard continues to be a source of in-person bullying: Studies indicate roughly 17 percent of early adolescents say they are victims of recurring verbal aggression or physical harassment.

One adult sent me two pictures of sexy ladies with blood all over them, through my facebook page. That was creepy and I blocked him, reported him, and told other people to stay away from him. That was at 15. I probably would have been more freaked out at 12 or 13, but that’s probably why I wasn’t allowed to get a facebook account until high school.

Sometimes online bullying can be very serious, like the case of the thirteen year old who was deceived by an adult and fell in love with a non-existent cute boy.

Last week, officials in a Missouri town made Internet harassment a misdemeanor, after public outrage over the suicide of a 13-year-old resident last year.

The parents of Megan Meier claim their daughter, who had been treated for depression, committed suicide after a teenage boy who flirted with her on MySpace abruptly ended their friendship, telling her he heard she was cruel. The story gained national prominence this month when it was revealed the boy never existed — it was a prank allegedly started by a mother in the girl’s neighborhood.

This was a HORRIBLE story, but the biggest problem is that the “prank” was done by an adult. A really immature and mean adult!

I think that the difference, at least for me, is whether the person doing the harassing is a kid or an adult. I know how to answer back, ignore or even punch kids who are mean or who tease. Online, I have “ignore” buttons and know how to block emails. But it’s much harder for me to be rude to an adult. I think that’s true for most kids and teens. and it is probably the reason that kids can be victims to molesters.

(Big Brother STOP reading. The rest if this is private. )

When I first started wanting to surf the internet, my brother gave me a limited account and he checked the sites I went to, the people on my buddy list, and even said he had the right to read my emails. I don’t use my last name online and don’t use my real photo. I was not allowed to do facebook or myspace until 9th grade.

I became politically active online in 8th grade and met adults from all over the world. My brother got extremely involved in my buddy lists and my emails, and I resented it, but I also know he was protecting me.

I complain a lot that I live with Big Brother from 1984, but when I read news stories about kids who were so deceived that they killed themselves, I am glad that my brother protected me from a lot of the internet hate, and in a few years I’ll probably be glad that my google and yahoo searches are restricted.

I am terrible at writing conclusions to essays. I have nothing to conclude here. Maybe just this. Kids can usually work out kid stuff with other kids, but I think it is OK for adults to restrict kids on the internet since you never know if the person on the other end of your chat is another kid or an adult impersonating a kid. And …. nobody should bully. If you are bullying or being mean, it is time to see a counselor and learn to be nice to other people.

I guess that was two conclusions. Oh well.

I am a statistic:

Two-point-four million American children have a mother or father in jail or prision right now.

….

The children of prisioners suffer from anxiety and attention disorders, or from post-traumatic stress. They are likely to bounce from one care-giver to another;  

Fortunately, I don’t fit the statistics in other ways:

..to have and to cause trouble in school. Often poor to begin with, they get poorer once a parent is arrested.

These children are far from blind to their parents’ failings-they live with them every day , and they have more at stake than anyone in seeing their mothers and fathers rehabilitated, and living within the law. But in one way or another, most say the same thing: things were hard. Mom got arrested. Things got worse.

In my case, things got a lot better, but mostly because of things that had nothing to do with the crimes my mom went to jail for.   The reality is that my mom’s life would be much better if she were getting psych and drug abuse treatment rather than being in prison, and we would probably worry about her a lot less.

Politically, this is the part of that article that jumped out at me, but I don’t know enough about the issue know what the solution is:

“A successful corrections system doesn’t grow”, criminologist Stephen Richards has observed. “If they were correcting anybody, they’d shrink”. As our failing prison system continues to expand its reach, more and more of our children fall under its shadow, denied the light of parental attention they need in order to grow.

I may be a statistic, but none of these statistics means that I have to turn out a certain way.  There are a lot of my mom’s footsteps I don’t plan to follow.

When I was in elementary school and my mom lost her job and our house because of using drugs and her mental illness, we were sometimes hungry.  I was 8 when we lost the house and 9 when she lost her job.  My older brother always made sure that I had enough food, but sometimes it was a struggle.  I didn’t have warm enough clothes for walking to school in the winter, and it was much more important to my mom that we LOOK good than have the right clothes for the weather.  No coat was better than one with holes.  We were never homeless but we never had a lot in those days.

Today is a whole lot better.  I have everything I need and a lot of extras.  I don’t ever have to be hungry.  I’m planning to go to TWO Thanksgiving feasts tomorrow.  But a lot of people are hungry.   The Bush economy has made the really rich even richer but it has made a lot of people very poor. People are struggling and so are the groups that help them.

Chinodeb sent me this article and I bet that it is as true in other parts of the country as it is in Arizona.

More people seeking aid; agencies struggle to help

John Rudolf/News-Herald Photos Becky Reid and her daughter Sammi, 4, are among hundreds of Havasu families in need this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 10:33 PM MST

Arms laden with boxes and with three young children in tow, Becky Reid made her way though the parking lot back to her car, a four-door sedan that looked as if it had seen better days. Putting the boxes in the trunk, she opened them up to take a quick look inside.

“Macaroni. Yum!” said her 4-year-old daughter, Sammi.

A look of relief crossed Reid’s face as she opened the other box. “Soap, toothpaste, toilet paper. … This is great,” she said.

Reid’s family is one of hundreds of local families struggling to get by with less this holiday season. A stumbling local economy, rising prices for everything from a dozen eggs to a gallon of gasoline and a meltdown in mortgage lending have all contributed to push more families over the edge into poverty.

“Times are tough. Jobs aren’t turning up,” said Reid, a single mother.

The boxes of food and hygiene products came courtesy of Calvary Baptist Church, which raised more than $7,000 to pay for a delivery from Feed the Children.

“It’s really easy to go about our daily lives and not realize that people are in need and are going without,” said Sean Haynes, who organized the giveaway. “This is something I knew we had to do.”

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Nothing political today.  Just really really cute animals.no dogs here

yummy fish

ducky

who wins

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I saw it first!

kitty stuck in a sandal

I really like these because they make you think. Roll the mouse over the pic to see what the title is.

Pittsburgh Penguin

alligator shoes

space war

airplane ride

painted nails

The government and schools are too interested in the rules sometimes and not interested enough in what is fair. Take this case for example:

An Immigration Nightmare

Meet Pedro and Salvacion Servano, a married Filipino couple who have been in the U.S. for 25 years.

Pedro Servano, 54, is a prominent family doctor in an underserved area of central Pennsylvania. His 51-year-old wife runs a grocery store and bakery….. Pedro Servano works at Geisinger Medical Group in Selinsgrove, where he has about 2,000 patients.

Two of their four children graduated from Temple University, while one is in high school and another is in middle school. Several years ago, the Servanos bought and renovated two properties in nearby Sunbury. Salvacion Servano recently opened a small grocery store there, selling Asian goods and baked items.

In 1978, while they were single, their mothers applied for visas for them to come to the U.S. They married in the Philippines in 1980. Mrs. Servano’s visa application was granted in 1982, and she came to the U.S. Dr. Servano’s visa was granted in 1984 and he followed. They’ve lived here ever since, raising their family, working, contributing to the community, paying taxes.

More…

The Servanos applied to become U.S. citizens in 1990 and were refused. Why? Because their visa applications said they were single (which they were when their mothers filed them.)

Now, their appeals exhausted after an immigration official said they lied on their visa applications, they’ve been told to report to ICE for the start of deportation proceedings the day after Thanksgiving.

His legal team is considering emergency appeals in court and directly to the U.S. attorney general’s office. The family has lobbied for help from politicians. Friends scheduled a prayer vigil in Sunbury for Saturday night.

Even an ICE official is on their side:

“I fervently believe in the ICE mission. However, the Servanos did not sneak into this country illegally, they have broken no laws, and they have not been a burden to the economy. They pose no threat,” DHS counterterrorism operative Bill Schweigart wrote in a letter obtained by The Daily Item of Sunbury. “I cannot fathom how deporting the Servanos fulfills any portion of the ICE mission. In fact, I would argue the action runs counter to it.”

Hopefully there will be some action alerts letting us know how we can help the Servanos.

Jeralyn talks about how this is a case where they need to reform immigration laws, but to me it is also a case about when people need to have a sense of fairness and common sense and not just follow the rules just because they are the rules.

But this is not just a case of the need for immigration reform and a path to legalization. It’s a reminder of the need for Congress if it enacts such reform to avoid policies that require people like the Servanos to go to the back of the line and return to their home countries and wait years and pay substantial fees in order to return.

When you hear the Democratic candidates bemoan Congress’ lack of immigration reform, it’s important to ask of each one: What exactly is your reform proposal? Does it entail a one-size-fits-all policy of requiring everyone in the U.S. without proper documentation to return to their country of origin and wait in line to come back before being approved for citizenship? If so, it’s not immigration reform. It’s a continuance of the failed policy we have now.

There has to be a way to recognize and provide relief for people like the Servanos. It can’t be done with a blanket “go home, wait and then come back” policy.

Here’s more on what we need our candidates to support in terms of immigration reform.

Maybe the problem is that in Australia they talk with a different accent. Maybe Santa’s HO HO HO! doesn’t sound like laughing there.

 

What does Santa say?

Santas Told Not to Say “Ho Ho Ho” Because it Offends Women

Imussanta

Seriously.

Santas_3Santa Clauses in Sydney, Australia have been told to say “Ha Ha Ha” instead.

Agence France Presse reports: “One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use ‘ho ho ho’ because it could frighten children and was too close to “ho”, a US slang term for prostitute.”

The spokeswoman for a group that campaigns against media that might sexualize children balked: “Gimme a break. We are talking about little kids who do not understand that ‘ho, ho, ho’ has any other connotation and nor should they. Leave Santa alone.”

A spokesman for the company hiring out the Santas, Westaff, reportedly said the directive would be left up to each Santa’s discretion.

The only way I’d possibly be offended was if Don Imus had donned the red suit as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army.

farm bill

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Looks like the whole bunch of them are being morons sometimes, doesn’t it? Who wants to win? Who isn’t an idiot?  Look at these stories:

Giuliani to ignore first three primaries

h/t Josh Marshall

Pleading the Fifth

Rudy Giuliani got the memo about the importance of early primary states. He’s just choosing to ignore it.

While Iowa and New Hampshire are crucial states for most Republican candidates, Rudy Giuliani thinks of them more as a nuisance. Giuliani’s campaign told reporters today that they think Giuliani can lose the first three contests in the cycle and still win the nomination. They essentially conceded defeat in Iowa and New Hampshire to Mitt Romney, who has double-digit leads in the polls and has poured millions into radio and television advertising.

What’s Rudy’s plan again???

Lotta Cuts

from TPM Josh Marshall by Josh Marshall

Okay, we’re starting to get some good tips to help us flesh out Rudy’s new promise that he’ll replace only 50% of federal workers slated to retire over the next decade.

TPM Reader JR points us to this article in Government Executive magazine that notes that …

The government faces a potential wave of exits over the next decade as about 60 percent of federal workers overall and 90 percent of senior executives become eligible for retirement.

Now, I’ve never been much of a math wiz. But half of 60% is I think 30%. So Rudy seems to be saying he’ll cut the federal workforce by about 1/3, which sounds like it would likely have some pretty serious consequences.

Meanwhile, another recent study says that over the next two years alone the federal government plans to hire 193,000 new workers for “mission-critical” jobs. And about 1/3 of those are in “security, protection, compliance and enforcement.”

The study also notes that most of those new hires are for the Department of Homeland Security for stuff like customs enforcement, border security and immigration enforcement. Presumably he’s willing to gut those enforcement responsibilities.

Clinton camp accuses Edwards of acting like Bush

CNN – 54 minutes ago
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) — In a sign of the increasingly bitter feud between the leading Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign Monday accused John Edwards of acting like President Bush and dividing Democrats.

Clinton and the Press

Michael Crowley’s examination of the Clinton campaign’s press strategy is one of those must-read type pieces. The short version is the Clinton campaign has been beating the shit out of the media and tightly controlling the flow of information, and it seems to be working. Pieces like this always unnerve me, though. As plausible as it is, you can imagine the very same article being written, with different adjectives, in the aftermath of a Hillary Clinton loss. “Her campaign’s fearsome press operation slowly enraged reporters, subtly coloring their coverage of the tight-lipped candidate…”

Last night the Senate confirmed Mukasey as attorney general, but they didn’t have to.  They could have filibustered it and made the Republicans come up with 60 votes, just like the Republicans do to them ALL THE TIME!
Someone showed me this article this afternoon a it pisses me off!  The title is “Reid Allowed Vote On Mukasey In Exchange For Military Funding Bill” which is disturbing enough, but this is the part that’s really disturbing:

What of the talk that Reid might allow a filibuster of the Mukasey confirmation vote? Asked why this didn’t happen, a leadership source claimed that it was because Dem leaders were convinced that Repubs would be able to break off enough Dems to reach the 60 vote threshold and defeat the filibuster.

“They would have gotten 60,” the leadership source says, adding: “Some on the Democratic side honestly fundamentally don’t believe in filibustering cabinet secretaries. We are on the cusp of a new administration, and we think it will be a Democratic one. Filibustering here would have set a bad precedent.”

Why is the leadership concerned about “a bad precedent” when the alternative is to let every other country and all of the future Americans will think that WE think torture is OK.  Also, this strategy won’t work and now democratic voters will think that the Democrats in the Senate are all wimps.  Greg Sargent, the author of that article, says

Of course, this argument will ring hollow to some. Good behavior by Dems now is hardly likely to produce the same on the part of Republicans; indeed, they’ve already been filibustering like nothing else. And it also seems likely that the Dem leadership preferred to avoid the filibuster because it really wanted to get the defense approps bill passed as a shield against GOP criticism (though it can also be argued that there’s pressure on Dems to get defense approps passed for other reasons) and so leaped at the chance to do this. That seems to be the reason that Dems rushed the vote through last night. Critics will point out that Dem worry about GOP attacks was hardly a good enough reason to wave the Mukasey vote through.

Forget critics.  Who DOES think that last night’s vote was a good idea?

Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream is different from any book I have read. (Disclaimer: I am not done yet, up to page 282.) It is a history book in some ways, but a few chapters remind me of the Howard Zinn U.S. History book, which explains things very differently from the books we read in school.

Faludi’s recounting of 9-11 and its effect on the United States was surprising . I started talking to my family about WHY I had not noticed these changes in our country and in the attitudes of people. They reminded me that I was only 9 years old when the attacks occurred and, at that time, I was living in a house that was sometimes full of terror without the presence of Muslim extremists. I was far more focused on fear inside my house than fear from other countries or airplane attacks. But I did often wonder if my school was a terrorist target.

That said, here are some reactions and thoughts I had about the first part of the book:
In the introduction, all of the information was new to me. I don’t remember a lot from TV around 9/11 and I never noticed that all of the heroes were shown as men and all of the victims in NY shown as women. I did not know that even though many of the New York victims left widowers behind, the media almost exclusively showed widows. My reaction to this is to be very angry that the media was more interested in a story and a point-of-view than in actual facts. I had that same anger at the media in several of the chapters, each time Faludi shows that they put more importance on the story they wanted to show than on the REAL story.
I am completely bewildered at why the media, the politicians and the important people in the country would think that the way to react to 19 terrorists blowing up planes and buildings is to think we need more stereotypical John Wayne men and virgin housewives. How does that make sense? I can understand if they said we need the air force to have better training and be ready to defend Washington. Or if they said we need to keep box cutters off airplanes. But how will it stop terrorists if some lady in Oklahoma stays home with her kids?

I think that the way the talk show hosts and the rest of media treated the women columnists was horrendous and I wonder if that still happens. Faludi writes about the lack of women (and especially liberal women) on the Sunday talk shows and in the columnist parts of the newspapers, but I also wonder if it is a coincidence that today in the progressive media, Colbert, Stewart & Olbermann are ALSO white men.

I think it is completely insane that the focus on the de-burka’d women in Afghanistan was on make-up and hairstyles and not on education, community and health.

I am 16, and I love experimenting with make-up and trying new hair-styles. But if anyone described who I really am and what I do, I hope they would focus on my other qualities and interests first. I bet that the Afghanistan women and girls feel the same.

We are still at war in Afghanistan and I don’t think it is going well. How are women doing over there now? Did their hair salons and make-up gifts make a difference? Is that what they really want for a better life?

Chapter 2: Donald Rumsfeld was supposed to be a sexy hero? GAG me! Brain bleach please! And George Bush? No Way! His leadership was reading to second graders (isn’t that a woman’s job?!?) and hugging girl and women victims. Those guys were supposed to STOP the attack and make the country safer by protecting the shipping ports, not by having photo-ops.

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