So that’s mental illness

Read this account of a man slipping away into madness. It’s not about melodrama or violence, but about an ordinary person drifting towards paranoia, cutting off all contact with his family, and acquiring strange obsessions in place of normal human relationships. It’s harrowing and tragic.

The story also points out the social and legal difficulties in handling these cases. The man is clean and presentable, he can engage coherently for periods of time, and he will tell you that he is not sick — which means everyone is helpless to deal with his problems, and for good reason.

Once, the man’s family might have handled the situation by having him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution. For decades, it was a routine and simple procedure: If a doctor agreed that the patient had a mental illness, he could be institutionalized even against his will.

The problem was that it was a process with few safeguards, and during much of the 20th century, all kinds of people who didn’t belong — from free-thinking women to gay people, minorities and rebellious children — wound up locked in hospitals where abuse was common and conditions were often bleak.

So the system changed, with one catalyst being a 1975 Supreme Court ruling that effectively restricted involuntary commitment to instances when a person becomes a “danger to self or others,” a phrase that now appears in one form or another in state laws across the country.

Keep that in mind next time someone declares that labeling someone “mentally ill” is a good response to a problem.

Hobby Lobby won

Of course they did: in a court packed with Catholics and their twisted views on reproduction, it would have been a surprise if they decided otherwise. So now, the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have a right to dictate how you manage your health care, and the corporation’s religious convictions (they can have them, apparently) trump yours.

You’re all boycotting Hobby Lobby, right? And if you work there, try to get out.


We now have the underlying truth about the decision.

thesame

Timothy Ray Murray is an Oklahoman and Republican.

Although Oklahomans and Republicans may not wish that news spread widely. He was a candidate in a congressional primary, but he got clobbered by his opponent, Frank Lucas. Murray got 5.2% of the vote.

But he is contesting the election, for some rather novel reasons. He claims Frank Lucas is dead.

News Person,

 

The election for U.S. House for Oklahoma’s 3rd District will be contested by the Candidate, Timothy Ray Murray. I will be stating that his votes are switched with Rep. Lucas votes, because it is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike. Rep. Lucas’ look alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about

Jan. 11, 2011.

 

This is a situation similar to the Senators’ from Kentucky situation in the 2012 election. I am contesting that this matter has happen since his election was blocked, because of the U.S. Defense Department’s use of Mr. Murray’s DNA. To my knowledge, the U.S. Defense Department has not released to the public that information, as it is their confidential information about many people. Congress is likely wanting me to state that all my DNA used will not result in benefits to people I have never had relations with of a family nature. I have been bound to protect that information unless it causes harm to The People.

Ooookaaaaaaaay.

I don’t think he should bother contesting the election. When Sarah Palin runs for President on the Tea Party ticket, she can pick Murray for her running mate — they’re a perfect match. Then when she resigns two weeks after taking office, he’ll be president, and representing his Republican electorate perfectly.

The courts giveth, and the courts taketh away

While we’ve all been pleased to see the courts enforcing minority rights by striking down restrictions on same sex marriage, the flip side also happens: the Supreme Court has now ruled that abortion protesters can’t be restricted by a ‘buffer zone’ around clinics. Their rationale is some nonsense about “sidewalk counseling”.

Some of the individuals who stand outside Massachusetts abortion clinics are fairly described as protestors, who express their moral or religious opposition to abortion through signs and chants or, in some cases, more aggressive methods such as face-to-face confrontation. Petitioners take a different tack. They attempt to engage women approaching the clinics in what they call “sidewalk counseling,” which involves offering information about alternatives to abortion and help pursuing those options. Petitioner Eleanor McCullen, for instance, will typically initiate a conversation this way: “Good morning, may I give you my literature? Is there anything I can do for you? I’m available if you have any questions.” If the woman seems receptive, McCullen will provide additional information. McCullen and the other petitioners consider it essential to maintain a caring demeanor, a calm tone of voice, and direct eye contact during these exchanges. Such interactions, petitioners believe, are a much more effective means of dissuading women from having abortions than confrontational methods such as shouting or brandishing signs, which in petitioners’ view tend only to antagonize their intended audience. In unrefuted testimony, petitioners say they have collectively persuaded hundreds of women to forgo abortions.

So the court recognizes that many protesters use “aggressive methods”, but they side with the sweet little lady who claims to be kindly offering pamphlets, rather than with the women who are being frightened away from medical care. If there is a buffer zone, poor Ms McCullen is denied her right to be condescending, but if there is no buffer zone, patients are denied the right to seek legal medical treatment without harassment.

I fail to see how this “unrefuted” claim that their tactics of suppression actually work is relevant to their claim that their right to lie to patients trumps the patients’ rights to care.

But I wonder how the court deals with the stark reality that abortion clinics need volunteer clinic escorts to help women get through the lines of shouting protesters? Isn’t the fact of their existence evidence that there is a problem with access? Apparently not. The escorts are the problem.

…theBoston clinic uses “escorts” to greet women as they approach the clinic, accompanying them through the zones to the clinic entrance. Petitioners claim that the escorts sometimes thwart petitioners’ attempts to communicate with patients by blocking petitioners from handing literature to patients, telling patients not to “pay any attention” or “listen to” petitioners, and disparaging petitioners as “crazy.”

It’s clear where the judges’ sympathies lie.

It’s great when the courts are on the side of justice, but not so great when you’ve got bought & paid-for clowns of the reactionary right, like Roberts and Scalia, calling the shots.


This is amusing. The Supreme Court is surrounded by a rather restrictive barrier.

scotusbarrier

But what if I want to give the justices some ‘sidewalk counseling’?

Joining the ranks of great American masters of the English language

Twain and Webster, Lincoln and King, every past paragon of the American idiom, are sighing in their graves right now, because Sarah Palin has announced her desire to split the Republican party in two.

Well if Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung-ho about getting more Republicans in there? We need people who understand the beauty of…. the value of … allowing  free market to thrive. Otherwise our country is going to be continued to be over-regulated, driving industry away, driving jobs away. We’re going to be a bankrupt, fundamentally transformed country unless those who know what they’re doing, and aren’t going along just to get along with those in power, it being today the Democrats. That does no good. So yeah if Republicans aren’t going to stand strong on the planks in our platform then it does no good to get all enthused about them anymore.

While I applaud her desire to take the Tea Party on a lovely ride off the cliff of irrelevance, to explode in a cloud of futility on impact with reality, I regret that she’s doing her damnedest to drag the language to hell with her.

Human beings seeking a better life

That’s what I see in this boatload of immigrants trying to reach Italy.

Italian navy rescue asylum seekers

There have been several mass drownings recently, and the Italian navy is trying to rescue people. It’s not clear from the article what they do with them — are they granted asylum in Italy? Or sent back? Or parked in a refugee camp?

Or possibly worse. Although it can’t be worse than what the US has been doing. Mass graves of migrants have been found in Texas.

Unidentified migrants who died entering the United States were buried in mass graves in a South Texas cemetery, with remains found in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags, or no containers at all, researchers discovered.

In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another instance, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other, Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker said. Skulls were found in biohazard bags — like the red plastic bags in receptacles at doctors’ offices — placed between coffins.

This is not a discovery of a tragedy in the distant past — these are bodies that have accumulated since 2005, and it’s the product of an ongoing practice by a funeral home that was paid to dispose of the bodies. Dispose of them like trash, apparently.

Human beings deserve better.

Further evidence that Republicans have signed the divorce papers from reality

South Dakota Republicans are demanding the impeachment of Obama.

The South Dakota Republican Party passed a resolution on Saturday calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama.

Delegates at the party’s annual convention in Rapid City voted 191-176 in favor of the measure, which claims that the president has "violated his oath of office in numerous ways," according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

They cite the exchange of Bowe Bergdahl and Obamacare as violations of his oath of office. At least it’s slightly reassuring that a bit less than half the Republicans in attendance voted against the silly measure.

Let’s just call them traitors

The religious right has been having a grand old time at the Faith and Freedom Conference this past weekend. Some of it is laughable, like this decorative addition to the urinals at the venue.

obamaurinal

That’s silly and stupid, but part of the usual political discourse. I’d have been happy to piss on Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush myself — but I’d also recognize that this isn’t the way to win elections.

This is worse. Bobby Jindal is delusional.

Are we witnessing right now the most radically, extremely liberal, ideological president of our entire lifetime right here in the United States of America, or are we witnessing the most incompetent president of the United States of America in the history of our lifetimes? You know, it is a difficult question, he said. I’ve thought long and hard about it. Here’s the only answer I’ve come up with, and I’m going to quote Secretary Clinton: `What difference does it make?’

Obama is neither radical, nor liberal, nor particularly ideological. He’s also not a socialist, nor is he a Kenyan. Obama is a middle-of-the-road, right-of-center, conservative Democrat who has not done anything particularly dramatic while in office. Even Obamacare, which has Republicans chewing the scenery everywhere, was a compromise. Every time some nutcake on the right screams Socialist! it just convinces me further that no one of that party should be in office — we need real solutions to real problems, not this imaginary tribalism.

This is worser. Jindal wants to foment rebellion.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for a hostile takeover of the nation’s capital.

Jindal spoke at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed. Organizers said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders attended the three-day gathering. Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical voters continue to play a critical role in GOP politics.

I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States, Jindal said, where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.

That’s all we need: an army of fanatical and self-righteous gun nuts fanned into fury by supposedly responsible leaders of a political party marching on DC for a hostile takeover. Fantasy is sequeing into visions of violence.

Perhaps the Secret Service ought to have a little conversation with Mr Jindal about the legality of encouraging sedition.

Louie Gohmert really is the dumbest man in congress

And when the dumbest Christians collides with one of the smartest Christians I know, the contrast is dazzling. Here’s Gohmert grilling Barry Lynn on proper Christian beliefs. Apparently, he doesn’t want to judge — only God can do that, he piously declaims — but he does want Lynn to declare that all non-Christians are condemned to Hell right this minute. Don’t ask me how that simultaneously judgmental and non-judgmental thing is supposed to work, I think you have to have a gigantic hole in your brain to accommodate both views at once.

And it’s true that even when talking to a swarm of atheists, Lynn doesn’t hide the fact that he’s a Christian minister.

Girl criticizes math ability of old man

But…but…everyone knows that girls suck at math. So how can Christie Wilcox batter George Will’s out-of-his-ass math calculation so thoroughly? This cannot be.

I have a theory, which is mine, that Republicans have been experiencing many generations of selection for stupidity. This theory makes a prediction that newer Republicans ought to be significantly stupider than older Republicans. I know what you’re thinking: George Will is pretty damned stupid. How could they get worse and still manage to reproduce?

But here’s a case in point. Eric Cantor, also pretty damned stupid. But is he stupider than George Will? Well, that is debatable, but we do know that he’s stupid enough to get defeated by a teabagger in a landslide. And one thing we know for sure, his challenger, Dave Brat really is incredibly stupid.

As for the winner, Brat seems a very bad combination of serious religious quester and devout Randian economist, a combination that would have had Ms. Rand herself reaching for the opium pipe. He got his undergraduate degree at Hope College in Michigan, which is run by the Reformed Church in the United States, a conservative evangelical wing of the United Church Of Christ. He then got a Masters in Divinity at Princeton, which is a very conservative seminary and now, according to his website, Dave attends St. Mary’s Catholic Church with his wife Laura and their two children: Jonathan, 15 and Sophia, 11. So either he’s a Douthatian convert, god help us, or his faith is all over the lot, which may account for his rather startling announcement last night that he won because God was speaking through the voters of the Seventh Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

So far, my hypothesis is confirmed. Rather strongly confirmed. I predict that by 2020 the Republican establishment will be plucking up dying earthworms on the sidewalk after a rain and running them for high office as intellectual superstars.

And then Christie Wilcox will just have to sit there, stunned into silence, rather than running circles around Republicans who try to do elementary arithmetic. That’ll teach her.