Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blago Just Another Psycho

I have been unwillingly exposed to excessive media on the subject of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich over the last few weeks. I did not want to make comment on this guy, as I truly believe any attention is bad attention for a guy like this. However, after so much input, now I must output, just a bit.

No commentators in the media that I've heard or read have touched on what I find excruciatingly obvious: the guy acts like a psychopath. While wringing their hands and hurting their brains in an effort to comprehend the going's on in the man's head, they have greatly over-thought the matter.

I would not dream to diagnose someone without even meeting the fellow, but his behavior, particularly on talk shows this week, smacks of good old fashioned psychopathy. I don't mean the watered-down, likely racist and classist new-fangled DSM III & IV (Diagnostic Statistical Manual- used to described identified mental disorders) diagnosis Antisocial Personality Disorder. This anemic newer addition looses the imaginativeness and accuracy of its predecessor, Psychopathy.

Blago's behavior seems to indicate the traits Dr. Robert Hare, of University of BC, describes in his Psychopathy Checklist particularly remorseless and a disparate understanding of social mores. Basically, people with this disorder don't understand what the big deal is. When viewed from this prism, perhaps Blago's behavior follows a known pattern. He makes grandiose references to Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi when discussing his situation not necessarily because he feels persecuted- his demeanor is astonishingly lacking in tells for anxiety or passion of any kind. Instead he seems unnaturally calm and cheerful. I suspect he might make these absurd comparisons between himself and history's greats because he thinks that's just what people do. They relate their stories to highly sympathetic ones in order to inspire a similar feelings of sympathy.

But Blago just doesn't seem to understand what makes some people very special while other people are simply spectacles. If any attention is good attention then he must be pretty important, just like those other guys. Right? Perhaps he lacks the same ability most people have to feel deeply inspired by other people and so cannot comprehend the crassness of his comparisons. In fact, I would wonder if the likely outcome of all of this for him really will take him by surprise. What's the big deal? No one really cares about sincerity, justice and truthiness (Colbert), do they? This is all just a game where everyone is looking to get some fame and some cash, right? Those other guys were like him underneath the self-sacrificing facade, right?

What really disturbs me about this is a man with a demeanor that reeks of a serious and dangerous personality disorder as well as a nose job that should have lost someone their medical license, was elected to a position of real power. And I bet he was just the best pick on the ballot that year. Scary, scary stuff folks.

It is time for new leadership on every political level, especially state and local.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obsessive Compulisve Lawyers and American Justice

There is a growing drumbeat among Americans to have the Bush administration prosecuted for crimes committed during the last eight years. Krugman in the NYT was the most recent op ed I've seen on the subject. I completely agree. When in Argentina a few months ago, I asked what a group of Argentine scientists liked about their current government, among the many complaints they had, and they cited the prosecution of crimes against the people from the "dirty war" more than twenty years ago. People need justice and time does not change this. The American people deserve justice and specific parties harmed by illegal government activity deserve it doubly.

The Obama folks on Capital Hill signaled in the confirmation hearings last week that they do not intend to pursue legal justice for our citizenry. This is a grave mistake. Yes, there are many, many problems to get straightened out right now, not the least of which is processing the detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere around the world. But it doesn't take an army of lawyers to make a lot of trouble for people. Remember Ken Star? That was one guy literally tying down an entire administration over a blow job!! And how did he do it, just one gangly-limbed dork? Will, he had the will to pursue the story of that blow job to the salty end.

A small, elite team of prosecutors is all it would take. Have any of you ever worked with lawyers? They're bloody relentless. I say put a handful of well regarded, obsessive-compulsive prosecutors on each potentially big legal problem for the outgoing administration, including the dubious circumstances around bogus intelligence used to get us into Iraq, the Valeria Plame disgrace, and the Halliburton contracts as well as the circumstances of soldiers being harmed in subcontractor's facilities, to name just a few. Give these lawyers some freshly-trained, obsessive compulsive (I'm telling you, more bang for your buck with the OCD types) lawyers with a stipend to live off of and student loan forgiveness option, and let those folks go to work.

We need justice for our people and the people of Iraq. There is nothing as persuasively pro-democracy as seeing the former president and his men go to prison for crimes committed when in office against the people of America and the people of the world. Democrats, our moment is neigh, show the people of the world and the Republican party that we have the political will to bring justice and punish those who deserve it. I know it's like a buzz kill, man, but sometimes we're going to have to be the heavy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Great link for info on workings of local/national gov't

I became aware of a fantastic information source to satisfy curiosity anyone has on how local growth coalitions operate and why. This site was linked off of the blog Politics is a bloodsport. The address is

I have only begun looking around on this site, there is a tremendous amount of information about every level of government. I encourage everyone to take a look.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Short Stay for the Boomers at the Top

I have been wondering lately if Hillary's run for the White House will mark the last great attempt by her generation to secure the White House. If so, the Boomers succeeded in electing only two presidents and were summarily rejected for another go. Have the ideals of that generation, the quest for personal freedom and, for some- glory, reached their conclusion in our current economic and political situation? Has civilization found, again, the limits to the expression of individualism? And if so, can we really argue it's all been bad? I don't think so. I believe the legacy of the Boomers is a mixed bag of triumph and defeat on a scale rarely seen before.

Barak Obama's presidency heralds in the maturation of the successors to the Boomers and oh the work to be done. With the help of the Boomers and even the few remaining of the WWII generation, our legacy is one of breathtaking challenges and opportunities unimaginable to previous generations. Though the Bush administration represented a tremendous push back against the devotion to personal liberties precious to the Boomers via Cheney's proxy, we still have in front of us a nation ready to tolerate and accept personal expression on a level never before seen. In Portland, Oregon, their mayor is openly gay, in a smaller Oregon community, the new mayor is transgendered, and closer to my home, U.S. House Representative Keith Ellison out of Minneapolis, a practicing Muslim, became the first U.S. rep to do the Hajj pilgrimage. During his election campaign there was a story reported that he was confronted by one of the more traditional Muslim constituents about Ellison's support for Gay rights. Reportedly, Ellison explained to him that just as he was determined to protect this man and his community from prejudice and discrimination because of their race and religion, so he planned to support the protection of Gays from prejudice as well.

This is great stuff!! These are stories that should make us very proud to be Americans. And that's not even touching on the Obama story. But the shadows cast against these gleaming examples is dark indeed. The exhaustion of our medical, financial and social security systems can also be tied in the ideals of personal pursuits before community considerations. The fall of real wages, exponential rise in the prices of homes and education, and the dissolution of over half of U.S. families has led to huge jumps in poverty, drug addiction, and neglect of one another. This has been a high price indeed.

For myself (and because I'm the child of Boomers, I consider this point very important) I hope to integrate the beliefs and values of my grandparent's generation with those of my parent's generation. I hope to find in myself and in my life a middle ground where I feel free to explore and wonder at my experience of being alive, even when this experience varies from what I was taught was "normal," while working diligently in my community to promote social justice and economic stability.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Peace Through True Surrender

The tide of violence has again crested and is washing over the Gaza Strip with the waves of brutality from both sides rippling through the consciousness of much of the world. The Israeli-Palestinian situation feels hopeless to me when I view the reports. However, I strongly believe there is no impossible human condition, as these conditions are not imposed but agreed upon- a kind of macro decision consolidated from millions and millions of angry minds and hardened hearts.

For what it's worth, I do believe the situation is tractable- an astonishing thesis I'm sure. I believe the answer is one that is deeply psychological and begins with every individual immediately engaged in the situation. Surrender, not to one's "enemies" or injustice, but to oneself. The lamb on the alter for each person can be the ideas and emotions that entwine into a general condition of pain- mental and physical.

This is easy for me to write as my little boys are healthy and happy on this day. I do not fear mortar attacks or gun fire. My concerns for my sons are of flu viruses and whether they are enjoying their lives. I'm a privileged mother, I know.

But as the collective mental positions of Israel and Palestine continue to be expressed in their explicit form, violence, it is clear what is at stake. The health, happiness and hope for their children is the price of conflict. If fighting only causes more violence, then the fighting needs to stop. And in place of the actions of violence, people could learn to tolerate those powerful emotions of fear, hate and dread. For many, doing and receiving violence may be easier than sitting quietly with those powerful emotions. But in a place of inaction and intimacy with one's own feelings, good ideas for real change may arise.