May 30th, 2012


What The Pushback On Obama’s Spending Claim Ignores

On the campaign trail, President Obama has touted recent data that dispels the notion that he has embarked on a spending binge — and his Republican opponents, citing various fact-checks, are aggressively pushing back.

Part of the pushback, it turns out, inadvertently proves Obama’s larger point.

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Ultimately, Obama may have exaggerated his ostensible frugality, but even according to the figures Republicans cite, his spending is still low by the standards of modern presidents. The firestorm of criticism Obama receives on the debt often papers over that fact.

[chessdev]  What is interesting to me is the amount of revisionism I've been reading in the attacks against Obama:

 Obama was attributed bills  that occured before he was even in office, the GOP has blocked him at every vote and then goes "yeah, look what he HASNT gotten done",  and now even when arguing against his record -- the GOP essentially looks past historic low spending to argue 'out of control spending' instead.

Which fits into a larger theme where concern for the poor is labelled as "Socialists", where arguing for the auto industry's destruction is labelled "supporting it", thinking corporations with record profits should pay taxes is "Destroying job creation"  with laughable misapplications of Laffer thrown in for good measure, and where religious zealots argue America is a Christian Nation with laws that uphold those long as those ideals compel behavior of others (Cant marry him/her) but not require behavior of the advocates themselves ("pay an extra $1 to feed the poor?  TYRANNY!!").

Does the real record even matter anymore?  I'm starting to doubt it at this point...

Si se puede

The Politics of Psychosis: Living with Schizophrenia‏

The word "schizophrenia" brings to mind different ideas depending on the listener and speaker. One of my sisters is a survivor of schizophrenia, so it is of special interest to me. Society treats people like lepers when they bring up their diagnostic and treatment history. It is as if they possessed falsified birth certificates and Muslim ancestry. Such people are typically avoided like the plague. Although I have difficulty relating with a person in the midst of a psychotic break, my experience with a schizophrenic family member keeps me from fearing such individuals.

Unlike juvenile diabetes or a viral infection, there is no single set of symptoms for the variety of conditions that are called schizophrenia. The Rosenhan experiment shows how patients can be diagnosed with the schizophrenic label merely by complaining about auditory hallucinations. Such phenomena are probably more common than the statistics show. People learn to live with hallucinations without ever being labelled psychotic. When an acquaintance mentioned his experience with auditory hallucinations, I remarked that, "They have drugs for that." This prompted a long discussion of his experience with anti-convulsive drugs and with meditation. Both proved effective in curbing the hallucinations, but the latter had no degrading side effects.

Ron Coleman is a man who has experienced auditory hallucinations since early adulthood. He was incarcerated on what we call a 5150 in California. In his autobiographic account he does not mention any violence at the time of his arrest. I once interviewed a man who had been incarcerated after confessing to thoughts of suicide to a crisis counselor. It does not take much to be considered a threat.

During his period of incarceration, Mr. Coleman was administered brain damaging treatments including toxins and ECT. None of it made a dent in his auditory hallucinations. He has since learned to cope with the voices in his head. He has become a peer counselor for others with similar complaints. He serves as an example of why we should not fear psychoses such as schizophrenia. He also serves as an example of the ineffectiveness of treatments as harsh and drastic as ECT in curtailing psychotic symptoms. Others who have survived charlatan practice describe how they were treated better once they denied the hallucinations that they continued to experience. Honesty is not a good policy when dealing with uncaring "professionals." Once an individual learns to live with her condition, she must also learn how to not disturb others by discussing it.

A critic of the Rosenhan experiment, where a group of pseudo-patients complained of non-existent auditory hallucinations, compared it unfavorably to faking a stomach ulcer by spitting up blood. A major difference there is that once symptoms have abated the diagnosis was not reevaluated. In the case of someone spitting up blood, her diagnosis would have changed once it was determined that bleeding did not continue. All of the test subjects in the Rosenhan experiment were prescribed drugs despite the discontinuation of auditory hallucinations.

How do you feel about the quality of care of mental patients in Western culture?

Links: Full text description of the Rosenhan experiment. Podcast interview with Ron Coleman. Patrick Bracken's British Medical Journal article on postpsychiatry with a reference to the Hearing Voices Network. Ron Unger's blog on recovery from schizophrenia.

A Dangerous Proposal and Accountability In Action

Let me begin with an untenable and outrageous proposition: put hungry babies at voting booths and see how people vote. This of course wouldn't be allowed, since we're not allowed to influence people's vote... ok we are allowed to influence people's votes, just not for the few hours they are voting.

This unconscionable proposal is meant to introduce a concept. This concept is one of responsibility. Accountability, if you will. Much of political thought revolves around theories concerning "what is my problem" and "what is your problem". More than this, what does the act of voting entail?

I believe that the act of voting entails the assumption of everyone else's problems. That is, by choosing to actively engage in democracy, all those things that aren't "your problem", magically become "your problem". Why? Because you are, in fact and in deed, acting and deciding on those problems.

So are you truly responsible for hungry babies that you don't know or care about? I would say so, at least as much as you engage in democracy. For whatever else moral reasoning we might leverage, choosing of your own free will to make decisions about hungry babies makes you responsible for hungry babies. This is the fundamental ramification of democracy. In it you gain representation. For it, you become responsible for things that are not otherwise your problem.

So I propose the following to conservatives: stop voting, and make your words true. It isn't your problem, after all.
  • paft

Let's Close the Process Even More!

Closing the Process

Mitt Romney campaigning in Las Vegas: I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a couple of restaurants in town and he said 'You know I'd like to change the Constitution, I'm not sure I can do it,' he said. 'I'd like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the Constitution, I'd like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States.'

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Godzilla, default

The Rise of North America and Jared Diamond:

As has been pretty well known, the book Guns, Germs, and Steel lays out the thesis that the rise of Europe was due to the violent competition of European states with each other.
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It would seem, too, that as the global rise of North America had to do with the twin disasters of the two world wars in weakening all the other Great Powers in Europe, Eurasia, and Asia, that this further undercuts the thesis by having the one oasis of stability and the absence of endless competition be the area that became the single strongest one by default. The rise of North America, ultimately, was due to avoiding major damage and the risks of endless competition, which would seem to argue that if anything the root to a truly peaceful and prosperous world really is in the end of more violent competition rather than the encouragement of it for some simplistic viewpoint that war makes things alive.

Does it make any sense to hire a "non-diplomat" for a diplomatic position?

Michael McFaul did it again. Just a couple of months ago the US Ambassador in Russia Michael McFaul called Russia a "wild / savage country" and now McFaul is accusing Russia (and US!!!) in bribing Kyrgyzstan.

“I won’t be diplomatic, I’ll say openly that your country paid off Kyrgyzstan to kick the Americans out of Manas,” McFaul was quoted as saying in a May 25 lecture at the Moscow Higher School of Economics by the state news service RIA Novosti. He added that the U.S. also “offered a bribe” to Kyrgyzstan, “but 10 times less.”

The US Department of states is trying to defend their employee by explaining that he is not a professional diplomat:

“He speaks plainly, he speaks clearly, he doesn’t mince words,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said yesterday. “He’s not a professional diplomat, and I think that for the Russian government, the fact that he speaks clearly when things are going well and he speaks clearly when they’re going less well is something that they’re having to get used to.”

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Poll #1843774 The McFaul fiasco

Does it make any sense for the US Government to hire a "non-diplomat" for a diplomatic position?

Yes, it is more funny this way
No way, an idiot between two countries with the nukes may cause the extinction of Human Race!
At least he defends the Human Rights!

What is likely to happen to Mr.McFaul?

He will go nuts and resign
He will go nuts and get fired by the US Department of State
He will go nuts and get kicked out by the Russians
The circus will continue causing a lot of laughs for Russian people
He will grab a Russian mail order bride and escape to a Kingdom Far Far Away
Groovy Kol

The new Central Asian game

Putin's Russia may be pushing for the creation of an Eurasian customs union that goes beyond just trade but is designed to re-establish the old economic and political ties between Russia and the Central Asian states, and Kazakhstan may be meant to be the capstone in this structure (as far as Asia is concerned), but shall we look at one of the smaller nations in the scheme, Kyrgyzstan? Because, despite the obvious economic progress of its big Kazakh neighbour, actually Kyrgyzstan is offering the most dynamic changes these days. And an "interesting time" of changes is always the most fruitful ground for reaping beneficial fruits. Needless to say, the US is not sleeping, having sniffed the potential in this situation. The moment is potentially beneficial for gaining geopolitical positions that had been impossible to acquire until very recently.

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