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Posts published in January 2021

It’s the Ohio, Stupid!

From Nate Silver’s post this morning in the NYT:

“Mr. Obama’s narrow lead in Ohio accounts for the bulk of his overall advantage in the forecast right now. Were Ohio decreed to Mr. Romney by fiat, Mr. Obama’s chances of winning would decline to 57 percent from 70 percent in the forecast.“

Come on, Ohio, the whole country is depending on you. I actually think Ohio is more important to obama than it is to Romney. Romney can afford to lose Ohio as long as he wins Wisconsin, Iowa, and Virginia, which he clearly is on track to do in any event. obama can only afford to lose Ohio if he instead wins Virginia or Colorado, as well as Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada (not going to happen). If Ohio goes to Romney it will probably mean a popular AND electoral vote landslide of Reaganesque proportions. By the way, this is a fun game — click on the states to make your own predictions about the electoral vote outcome HERE. The NYT has a super one too. I may never get back to work.

How anyone can say that obama won the debate last night is beyond me. Yeah, he did okay (using the soft bigotry of low expectations here), but Romney was clearly more the master of facts, figures, and ideas. He also came across more calm, measured, and likable. obama isn’t even likable enough anymore. Or, as Dafyyd Ab Hugh (what?) put it,

“Romney carefully painted a portrait of presidential bearing and gravitas, knowledge and wisdom, specificity and the political chops to carry it out, and the courage to point out that Emperor Obama has no clothes. Since that last clause was demonstrably true, the end result is — well, not quite inevitable; it ain’t over till the fat lady votes — but extremely likely: Mitt Romney is going to win this election.”

The one thing I am REALLY gonna miss now that the debates are over is the Frank Luntz focus groups. Pure. Comedy. Gold. If you haven’t seen the woman who starts screaming and spitting you really owe yourself to click on that LINK and watch the video. It’s like an SNL skit. Except not because it’s actually REAL.

how to lose by winning. ..

PPP (democratic polling company) found a majority of Independents who watched the debate (55%) think obama won. But most of them are going to vote for Romney.

I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother…

‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America
12/16/2012
Written by Liza Long, republished from The Blue Review

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan — they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.
“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork — “Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying — that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise — in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill — Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

(Originally published at The Anarchist Soccer Mom.)

H/T Gordana

Dorchester Punches Back

Dont’t call it a tragedy. An avalanche is a tragedy. An earthquake, cancer, a ship lost at sea is a tragedy. This is an outrage. Don’t call it a senseless act of violence. Child abuse is a senseless act of violence. A sucker punch, a drunken bar brawl, a mugging of an elderly person is a senseless act of violence. This is a coldly calculated attack which, sick and evil as it is, was “sensible” in the minds of the attackers.

These men had intention, strategy, ideology, and unlike an avalanche or a train wreck, the human capacity to change their minds and not plant and detonate bombs in a crowded place. But they chose not to change their minds. They chose to kill and maim our neighbors, friends, and guests in our city. Children. In our city while we were celebrating a day that commemorates the birth of individual freedom as the bedrock concept of government and the right of people to form a government run by ordinary people for the benefit of ordinary people. Government by the people for the people. Patriots Day.

Don’t say there are no words. There are words. Words like consequence, punishment, and death. Words like no mercy for the enemies of human progress and peace.

Harsh words, it’s true. But the western world (and Russia and most of Asia and Africa) has spent more than 2000 years shedding blood and enduring misery to learn a few good goddamned truths, and the truth above all that the descendants of the patriots who started a war in my Boston backyard 250 years ago know is this: we are endowed by our creator with the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that no religion, ideology, government, or law can be allowed to subvert that right to individual freedom. The men who planned and carried out this murder and mayhem today, and those who sympathize with them, must be removed permanently from our civil society. The consequence of your actions today is punishment, and the punishment is death.

Don’t say, Pray. Pray if you want; if it gives you comfort, motivation, solace, or peace, do pray. But don’t tell us to pray. That is an abdication, and abdication of responsibility is a sin. The God you pray to will act in his infinite wisdom. It’s not for us to use prayer as a human solution. We can only pray in grace (without sin) for two things: intercession and wisdom, neither of which will bring back the dead, heal the wounded, or prevent the next attack. The only solution for humans – the only one ever offered to us is to ACT. We must think, we must choose, we must act, we must DO.

This is Boston. Here when somebody punches you, you punch back. Every kid in this city, whether Mattapan, Southie, East Boston, Roxbury, or Roslindale knows: if somebody attacks you, you fight back. You have to fight back. The first time, the second time, the last time. Until the one who wants to break you is broken himself. There can be no peace otherwise.

You took a Dorchester boy today, and Dorchester doesn’t forget, and Dorchester punches back.

In their hearts, they know he sucks

Washington (CNN) — It’s a glaring number in a national poll that’s making headlines.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating dropped 8 percentage points over the past month to 45%, the president’s lowest rating in more than 18 months, according to a CNN/ORC International survey released on Monday.

And Obama’s disapproval rating soared 9 points to 54% since mid-May.

CNN Poll: Obama approval falls as controversies pile up

Even more surprising: The overall decline in his approval rating was partially fueled by a plunge in support from younger Americans, a huge base of Obama’s support.

Last month, nearly two-thirds of those in the 18-29 age group* gave the president a thumbs up. His approval rating among that bracket fell 17 points in Monday’s poll and now stands at 48%.

The CNN/ORC International survey was conducted last Tuesday through Thursday.