Quick Political Thoughts

12 Oct

I’ve had a couple political thoughts rattling around in my head for the last couple days – what’s the link:

1) President Obama and the Democratic Party have gone absolutely Beckian. Glenn’s basic rhetorical strategy is to say something outrageous about a person or group, and then dare them to repudiate (refudiate!) his conspiracy theories.

Enter Obama and the Democrats who have charged the US Chamber of Commerce with taking money from foreign corporations to be used specifically for attack ads against Democratic candidates. The Chamber says, “What are you talking about?” The Dems say “If it’s not true, then prove it!” Just like Beck has failed to prove he did not rape and murder a girl in 1990. If you can’t beat them, join them – see the end of item #2.

2) An inherent hypocrisy in modern American Liberalism’s disdain and contempt for the Right has been brought into clearer focus: material wealth as invalidator of political rights.

Slate noted recently that in today’s American politics, the Right thinks the Left is evil, but worse, the Left thinks the Right is crazy, pathetic, retarded, and unworthy of respect. Exhibit A’s is Matt Taibbi’s recent masterpiece of condescension, masquerading as a profile of the Tea Party. The pinnacle:

After lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them.

Taibbi’s article encapsulates not just the objective reasons for the Left’s dismissal of the Tea Party, but the feeling and flavor of it as well. Shorter Matt Taibbi: not only is the Tea Party wrong, but they don’t deserve to have a voice in the first place. Why? Because they are white, by and large, well to do (often by sucking at the government teat).

Thus the essential Liberal contradiction: the movement that dismisses material possessions as unimportant and race as irrelevant invalidates the political beliefs of the Tea Party because the material possessions and race of their followers. Wait?! I thought they didn’t matter? Shorter Liberalism: What are you Teabaggers complaining about – look how good you have it.

If material success should not be a prerequisite for power (see: the Civil Rights movement), then why should an entire movements’ political beliefs be dismissed based upon material success? Is being poor and of color the only way one is allowed to have a legit political voice now? Note that the Tea Party is reading Saul Alinsky, and used his tactics in the Health Care Screaming last year. Liberals loves two things: being smart and defending victims – if the Left thinks the Tea Party is so stupid, then they should be leaping to their feet to save these Teabaggers from themselves, no matter their race or economic success. 

3) It’s time we finally rid ourselves of Antoine Thompson. I mean, seriously. In case you have forgotten, here are all the reasons why.

He has a real opponent this year. Mark Grisanti is winning the lawn sign battle on Grand Island, at least. He can only win the election if the people who are disgusted with Antoine actually vote for him. I could hope Paladino’s coat tails drag him along, but I’d rather stump for him instead.

40 Responses to “Quick Political Thoughts”

  1. peteherr October 12, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    Brian, I am a lefty and I don’t think that Tea Partiers are stupid at all….perhaps a bit extreme. Some of them are damn smart, which is why I don’t at all understand how they are willing to throw away some of the things that they champion for guys like Carl Paladino. If anyone is willing to vote for Paladino, I never want to hear about “family values” again.

    And as ar as disdain for success and material possessions, I think you are missing the actual reasoning behind it. Not sure I can give you the short version, and I am planning a post on it, but here’s a shot. There is a class of rich who can buy whatever they want…including influence. Tax laws already favor the rich because they make most of their money off investments, because they are smart and know it is taxed at a much lower rate than even I pay. They get rich by running these companies, and when they are done or run out of the job they go to another big company because, like Buffalo politics, there is a relatively small group that is very interconnected running the show. Because of the money, they have influence that the rest of us don’t have.

    Like I said, this is more complicated than this, but that is a very incomplete short version.

  2. Alan Bedenko October 12, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    The point about Obama’s “prove it” viz. the Business Council is relevant to his point that they don’t have to disclose who funds them.  It’s a larger point about transparency, and the “what is there to hide” line of questioning.  It’s a valid question, regardless of whom you compare it to.  

    The way in which issue advocacy organizations are able to skirt around the edges of the FEC disclosure requirements is an important discussion to have. 

    When Obama whips out a chalkboard and starts to link the Business Council to the Republicans to the Bushes to the Bilderbergs to the CFR to the NAZIS, then we’ll be able to have a closer resemblance to a typical Glenn Beck paranoiac rant. 

  3. BobbyCat October 12, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    The insulting caricature of the President is low class insult and nothing more. It’s the equivalent of Paladino’s claim that he’s a serious candidate, while talking about sexual prowess.

    Whenever anyone resorts to tortured language trying to make an obscure point, beware. If this was my piece, I would have tossed it into the trash and started over with a fresh sheet of paper.

    Maybe there are a few serious tea party members but only a few. I agree with Matt Taibi that most of them are full of shit. Most of the disparate tea party groups are tied together by racial animosity and low information. Others are very wealthy and are manipulating their poorer brethren to scam the voters. A rich real estate developer who has already sucked millions of dollars out of NY taxpayers pockets is not running to reform anything. Yes, the tea party is all bullshit. Cuomo might be arrogant, but he’s not a racist thug,a misogynist, homophobic, sexist, lying, unethical con man.

  4. Brian Castner October 12, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    @ Peter: You may not think the Tea Party is stupid, but your side does. Have you read the Taibbi piece? Also, your comments on the “rich” are very revealing, and I understand where you are going. The point I am making is that Tea Partiers, whether by virtue of their race, social security and medicare, or pensions, are lumped into a privledged class by the Left that has no right to complain about anything. They confuse white suburbanites with the Rich you describe. Those Rich, who buy influence, are neither Republicans or Democrats – they vote for winners, and for themselves. But the Tea Partiers are far far far from that, and yet their voice is deligitmized.

    @ Alan: Ok, Glenn has two tactics. There is the chalk board to crazy, and the “If this isn’t true I dare you to call me!!!!” Obama is doing the second. I know this is all planned payback for the Citizens United case, but that don’t make it right for an entire party to take on the mode of the pundit they most despise.

  5. Brian Castner October 12, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    @ BobbyCat – Sorry I offended your delicate sensibilities by comparing Obama’s (not obscure – noted in three news cycles) tactics to Beck. Note that you made no substantive argument about why they are not similar in rhetoric. Also, Paladino did not enter my mind a single time while writing this – anything you infer about him from what I wrote you brought with you to this article.

  6. Mike October 12, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Antoine may not be media savvy and makes some gaffs. Try playing Senator yourself and see how you do. But think about this: Antoine pulled himself out of one of the toughest schools in Buffalo. No friggin silver spoons — hell, not even sports equipment at Bennett. I met kids there whose parents left them, the kids lived in an abandoned house which they heated with an oven, and they sold nickle bags of weed to earn money. As long as you were less bad than the worst kids you were pretty much on your own. Translation: Antoine is centered and self-directed. He turned out to be a stand-up guy. I’d like to see any of you guys grow up where he did and see how you turn out. So I think he knows all about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. The key is to have a government that doesn’t throw you to the predatory corporations; a government that backs it’s people!

    And frankly, I think some of the people who say negative things about him really just don’t understand or like black folks. Since I’m a white guy other white people say things to me in “confidence” and with a wink that fundamentally just boils down to being scared of black guys. But let’s talk about issues…

    Hydrofracking — he sponsored the bill creating a one year moratorium on it
    Toxins in the environment — sponsored a legislation banning toxins in children’s toys
    Bottle bill — brought deposits on all kinds of new packaging to keep that garbage out of livestock guts — cows eat bottles; turned over windfall money to support environmental programs
    financing long term investments — working on bring legislation to smooth out energy payments and make eco dev opportunities less risky for investors
    green loans — making loans available so people can conserve energy in their homes and businesses.

    All Grisanti has is negative ads — no plans — Just NO NO NO NO. Antoine isn’t perfect by a long shot but he’s also not the guy the media and opponents make him out to be.

    Brian: I enjoyed your environmental bog the other day w the shots of Grand Island

  7. STEEL October 12, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    The Chamber DOES admit accepting large contributions form foreign sources. The Chamber IS spending a huge amount of money to influence elections. I think questioning the source of their funding is quite legitimate.

  8. BobbyCat October 12, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Back in my defensive end days, I learned not to be easily offended, with the exception, perhaps, of a thumb into my eye. Thus my sensibilities are anything but “delicate”. But using an insulting caricature of the President signals that you have no legitimate argument to offer. It’s like appearing nude at a debate. Nobody would take such a person seriously. And likewise, nobody but wingnuts are taking Paladino and the other tea party candidates seriously. But I understand the movement, much as Matt Taibi describes it. If I was full of hate and animosity, I’d probably be in a tea party. I’m angry at Albany, too, but I have not fallen into the old fashioned bigotry that Paladino stands for, nor would I display an ugly caricature of him. I don’t need to. Paladino is doing fine painting his own portrait.

  9. Brian Castner October 12, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    @ Mike: Thanks for the compliments on Sunday’s article – I write an outdoors/environmental piece every Sunday – please tune in again (and you can catch the previous versions by clicking on the link in my profile on the right).

    I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, so let’s just assume neither of us are racists, and can agree that pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is a good thing. But now that he’s here, he needs to be competent. I am an environmentalist, and I appreciate his stands on those issues. Frankly, they seem out of character, and I’m not sure why he is the sponsor of fracking legislation, and not a Senator from the Southern Tier. But on issue after issue, he is either non-existent, confused, or wrong. Voting against bills he sponsored. Not remembering how he voted. Or take the $400K grant to the failed NF real estate developer – I wrote a whole column on it here: http://wnymedia.net/repat/2010/09/tone-deaf-and-policy-deaf/

    @ BC: What is the insulting caricature you don’t like, you keep referring to? Comparing Obama’s and Beck’s styles in this one case? That’s a picture of Beck as the Joker, BTW, not Obama. I write on Obama plenty – I’d include some links, but you already commented on the articles, so I know you read them, if don’t (or choose not to) remember them. Not every critique of the president requires 1000 words.

  10. bud boomer October 12, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    I think singling out Matt Taibbi as some sort of Democratic Party hack is a bit ridiculous. While he certainly does lean towards the left, he’s pulled no punches criticizing the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress over a number of issues, primarily their handling of the health care bill and the Wall St. financial crisis. Not to mention that he practically wrote an entire book mocking the 2006 Democratic Presidential primary. The reason most “libruls” think the Tea Part is a joke is because the Obama administration isn’t nearly as “leftist” as many would have hoped (see healthcare, the continuation of the two-front war, etc.), yet the Tea Party is acting like Leon Trotsky is running the country, which makes the “movement” appear disingenuous and uninformed.

  11. Brian Castner October 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    @ Bud: I never said Taibbi is a “Democratuc Party hack.” I said he accurately described the Left’s feelings on the Tea Party and was Liberal. And your reference to his criticisms of the Obama Administration’s centrist policies is the proof.

  12. Christopher Smith October 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Here is a more thorough explanation of the Chamber issue:


  13. Lefty October 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    @ Mike,

    Saying that Antoine is a ‘stand up guy’ and his challenges should be forgiven because he is
    a. Black
    b. Graduate of Bennett
    c. Not a former drug dealer

    only reinforces a negative perception that some people would consider racist. After all, if Antoine is the best product one can get from the inner city of Buffalo, why the hell bother to save the rest?

    The reality is, Antoine is not the best and the brightest. To suggest that what he is, is ‘stand up’, is a disservice to those who actually are competent in their jobs (regardless of what that job is) and who work day to day with integrity.

  14. BobbyCat October 12, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    David Brooks’ column in the Times uses Buffalo as a poster child for excessive government.


    He’s says that Buffalo has the same number of government employees as it did in the 1950’s although we have lost half our population. Ironicly, little Farnham and Sloan are comfortable in the 50ies. They want nothing to change. Brooks argues that the no-government is good tea parties and the more government, pro-union Dems are both wrong. He argues that we need a moderate view which says some of this is ok, but not that. Makes sense to me. No baseball bats or hate speech are needed – just some common sense.

  15. Pete @ BS October 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Brian, if I had to guess, I would suggest that the left acts as if the Tea Party is stupid because that is politics. It would do “us” no good at the voting booth to say “Well, I disagree, but I understand their point of view”.

    Secondly, the poster children for the Tea Party are a little nuts. O’Donnell and her witchcraft is funny stuff. Some of her other stances are extreme and silly as well. Sharron Angle and her “Don’t abort the baby in case of rape because god planned for you to be raped” platform….full goose bozo. Even if you thought that to be true, why in the world would you say it out loud. Carl Paladino and his….ehem……fun e-mails and welfare rehabilitation camps are more than alittle odd. Rand Paul wants to abolish the Department of Education – maybe he should have picked another department if he wanted to be taken seriously. And then there’s the Tea Party’s Queen Bee, Sarah Palin. The same lady who quit her job to become an entertainer. When the Tea Party trots out this cast of characters, it shouldn’t be a surprise that people might not take them too seriously.

  16. Brian Castner October 12, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    @ Chris: Sorry, I’ll believe the actual reporting of the Republican controlled Right wing NYT, Washington Post and NPR, and you believe the pictogram of potential on ThinkProgress. Foreign corporations have become the Muslim Sleeper Agent of the Left.

    @ BC: Funny, I read that article and come to a different conclusion. I think you missed this paragraph:

    This situation, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, has been the Democratic Party’s epic failure. The party believes in the positive uses of government. But if you want the country to share that belief, you have to provide a government that is nimble, tough-minded and effective. That means occasionally standing up to the excessive demands of public employee unions. Instead of standing up to those demands, the party has become captured by the unions. Liberal activism has become paralyzed by its own special interests.

    If you have found religion (so to speak) and now find yourself agreeing with Brooks, then try to remember that paragraph as you stump for party line Dems on this site, and go into the voting booth in a month.

    @ Pete: This post was not a defense of the Tea Party (hard to do for the reasons you cite), but a critique of the Left’s reaction to it. I guess I could believe that every Liberal I read and hear is following a carefully crafted, politically winning formula of just calling the TP stupid for electoral reasons, or I could believe the stereotype (that exists for a reason) and think the Left (which prides itself on being the smart group) honestly believes the Tea Party is just a bunch of idiots with no redeemable attributes..

  17. Christopher Smith October 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    @Brian, you can be as pedantic and dismissive as you want.  However, the fact remains that there are many ways for foreign money to end up in the Chamber’s coffers.  In fact, many foreign based corporations are charter members.  They have been less than forthcoming with the details about that money, where it comes from, how it is solicited and how it’s spent.  The Chamber has one of the most rabid right wing agendas in politics and if they aren’t transparent with their funding sources, THAT’S the story.  

  18. Gabe October 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    I would disagree that your average Tea Party sympathizer is any more “privileged” than people from any other average segment of society. They seem to be mostly middle and working class though their cultural traits learn toward lumpenprole.

    But yea I agree that the Tea Party is largely bullshit. Their antics remind me a lot of European passion plays, the tortured Martyr dying up on the cross, only in this case, it’s a John Galt type (self-made, rugged white man) character being spat upon by all those “leechers” i.e. poor minorities and the intellectual literati (west coast limousine liberals, east coast media-owning Jews). The narrative is old and cliche and people who follow it are either: A. fucking stupid and brainwashed to the point of no return, B. In a pragmatic position to personally gain from this “movement” C. Bitter and unhappy about their own lives, therefore predisposes to project their own self-hatred onto others

    About “wealth evny,” Peter was dead on:

    “And as ar as disdain for success and material possessions, I think you are missing the actual reasoning behind it. Not sure I can give you the short version, and I am planning a post on it, but here’s a shot. There is a class of rich who can buy whatever they want…including influence. Tax laws already favor the rich because they make most of their money off investments, because they are smart and know it is taxed at a much lower rate than even I pay. They get rich by running these companies, and when they are done or run out of the job they go to another big company because, like Buffalo politics, there is a relatively small group that is very interconnected running the show. Because of the money, they have influence that the rest of us don’t have. ”

    The wealthy have largely become a self-protecting class, very consistent with that human tendency to think in tribalistic terms (emotion, sentiment, ego) rather than see the greater picture (logic, reason). I’d argue that a lot of the rich are that way largely because they happened to pop out of the right vagina, not because of some unique set of talents inherent to their own being. The only way for our society to be a true meritocracy would be if we were to completely do away with inheritance–something that is really just a vestige of Monarchism and Aristocracy. Who knows, maybe we’ll evolve someday.

    Finally, Matt Taibbi is certainly not just some leftist hack. The man spent a decade over in post-commie Russia. In a fucked up place like that, one truly learns the meaning of Bullshit. The man simply knows how to call a spade a spade. If he calls your baby ugly, it probably is. Brian, sounds like you feel butthurt from some of his commentary.

  19. BobbyCat October 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Sonny Jim, You’re a wee bit young to ask me if I “found religion”, I found it and lost it a dozen time before you got outta grade school.

    I read that paragraph and remember it. Maybe you ddin’t remember what I wrote, above:
    “Brooks argues that the no-government is good tea parties and the more government, pro-union Dems are both wrong.”

    I’m a Dem but I criticize the Dems when I think they are wrong or too far left. Likewise for the republicans, which lately, is not so much being wrong but corrupt and devoid of ethics.

  20. Christopher Smith October 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Here’s a nice infographic (from the NY Times)  on how money is being donated/funneled/shifted during this campaign season.  I mean, seriously, if you haven’t been following how unaccounted money is influencing races in different parts of the country this year, I don’t know what to tell you.


  21. Tom Dolina October 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Apparently, it’s a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to how money comes into play in this election cycle.

  22. Mike October 12, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Antoine’s environmental repertoire is solid and I’m just telling you what it’s like on the streets of Buffalo. I bet it’s worse now.

    Why don’t you go to Bennett and mentor some of our youth and then tell everyone what you saw. Just do it once — one day. There’s developing world poverty in our region..

  23. Gabe October 12, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    This paragraph from the Taibbi piece sums up the Tea Party best:

    “So how does a group of billionaire businessmen and corporations get a bunch of broke Middle American white people to lobby for lower taxes for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street? That turns out to be easy. Beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing. Its rallies include not only hardcore libertarians left over from the original Ron Paul “Tea Parties,” but gun-rights advocates, fundamentalist Christians, pseudomilitia types like the Oath Keepers (a group of law- enforcement and military professionals who have vowed to disobey “unconstitutional” orders) and mainstream Republicans who have simply lost faith in their party. It’s a mistake to cast the Tea Party as anything like a unified, cohesive movement — which makes them easy prey for the very people they should be aiming their pitchforks at. A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC.”

  24. BobbyCat October 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm #


    That does sum it up, doesn’t it?

    I think racism/ racial animosity is the unifying factor. And most will protest “I’m not a racist, I just don’t like what those people are doing to the white race.”

  25. Brian Castner October 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    @ Chris: I don’t know what to tell you if you think this is actually a story. And while we’re on the subject, I’m a little disappointed you pass off the ThinkProgress site as actual informative background, and not an agenda-based group providing (literally) the WH talking points. If you like that, let me send you some Dick Armey inspired sites to educate you on Obamacare. PolitiFact.com is not nearly as concerned as you are: http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/oct/11/barack-obama/president-barack-obama-says-foreign-money-coming-u/

    When David Axelrod was asked for proof of these charges, his response was “What proof do you have that foreign companies aren’t giving money.” I have no proof Beck didn’t rape and murder a girl in 1990 either. So on one level, the whole issue stinks because the President is engaging in gutter guilt-first politics like a cable news anchor. And on another level, even if true, its not a story because secret money has been flowing through corporations, PACs, unions, soft contributions to parties, etc for decades.

    @ Gabe: The baby is ugly, but its not mine. I’m not butthurt, but I’m surprised people are rising to Taibbi’s defense like I wronged him. I called his piece a masterpiece of condescension – I thought all the hero worship around Taibbi was BECAUSE he was so arrogant, condescending, clever, and snarky. I mean, look at the paragraph you pulled out!

    @ BobbyCat: You’ve got age issues. I’ve ignored the couple times until now, but let’s stay on topic, shall we? I’ve got grey hair, 4 kids, and 3 tours in Iraq & Afghanistan, and I don’t need it from a guy named Bobby.

  26. BobbyCat October 12, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    That’s fine., Brian. Thank you for your service. But When I’m talked down to, Sometimes I push back. That’s what you need to know about me.

  27. Peter A Reese October 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I think the Taibbi piece is pretty much on the money. However, I think he missed a key reason for the Tea Party explosion: The country was not ready for an African-American President and Obama was not ready to be President.

  28. Gabe October 13, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    “The country was not ready for an African-American President”….. I believe the 2008 vote tally begs to differ….

  29. Arthur Welser October 13, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    At least Antoine isn’t a “Sponsored” attorney.
    Although not a Congressional issue, we believe there is a HUGE conflict of interest in those members of the NYS Assembly and Senate that continue to practice law while in the New York State Assembly and Senate. No matter how well meaning, no State Senator or Assemblyman’s service can be tainted by a conflict of interest he/she creates when they return home to practice the very law they created, turned down or refused to rescind.

    Tainted with the possibility of a possible conflict of interest, no attorney should practice (NYS) law while in the NYS Assembly or Senate

  30. Mike October 13, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    Re Antoine. Please note — I never used the word “racist.” I think it’s more “clashing cultures” than merely based upon skin tone. I think there’s a large segment of population out there that just doesn’t “get” multiculturalism and haven’t been closely exposed to people of other backgrounds. Yet, on close inspection our values overlap quite heavily.

    It’s not that one didn’t become a drug dealer that is important. It’s the fact that one has to try and learn in an environment where kids are raising kids and fighting for survival. It’s an environment where the kids are down in the Mazlov’s hierarchy of needs fighting for food and shelter rather than up in the hierarchy in an environment of safety, love, belonging, and self-actualization. I often think of it as whole communities suffering from PTSD. In fact, there’s a whole world of people out there suffering from PTSD and that my friends is the root cause of terrorism and anti-USA feelings.

  31. Peter A Reese October 13, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    Getting elected and being ready for the job are two different dimensions. Does this demonstrate leadership ability:

  32. Ethan October 13, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    @Mike: that’s _Maslow’s_ hierarchy of needs; for those unfamiliar, more info here

  33. Brian Castner October 13, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    @ Ethan – how do you get the hyperlink in the comments? I can’t seem to figure that out.

  34. Ethan October 13, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    I’d add that there is ample scientific evidence that poverty and increased rates of PTSD are associated. Obviously, it is not experimental evidence, that’s be both highly unethical and just plain impossible. But correlational evidence is still suggestive of a link, and experimentation in animals lends credibility to a theoretical causal mechanism in the form of highly increased cortisol levels, among other variables. So I know everyone just loves “personal responsibility” (Brian), but you have to understand that we have an entrie underclass of seriously broken and damanged souls in this country- and they’re certainly not all black. In fact, some of them end up in… the Tea Party. Full circle!

  35. Ethan October 13, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    I use the standard html tag, which is very diffiult to type in without triggering it. um… maybe with lots of spaces it’ll work: link

  36. Ethan October 13, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    ah, crap, you just can’t fool this WordPress build! Well, here

  37. Brian Castner October 13, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    Gracias – I did very poorly in programming in college, but I may be able to figure that out.

  38. Brian Castner October 13, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    @ Ethan: Does the research say people with PTSD tend to end up in poverty (ie stereotypical homeless vet with mental illness), or that poverty causes PTSD? As you can imagine, in my line of work you become an educated amateur pretty quick on the subject. BTW, people with PTSD are still responsible for their actions. Though things like veterans court are great because they receive help with punishment, not just unhelpful jail time.

  39. Ethan October 13, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    As I understand the research, the causal arrow points towards poverty, correct.  I’m not talking about homelessness here, I’m talking about poverty more boradly (though obviously if you are homeless, you are also poor, and very likely, have untreated mental illness as well). The more it is studied, the more the “TS” part of PTSD is turning out to be but one means of acquiring the symptomatology.  The effects of persistent, lower-level stresses accumulate over time and ultimately appear to result in many of the same behaviors you see in those who go through acute, traumatic stress.  

    Of course, I am not, (and have never) suggested that we absolve people of _all_ personal responsibility, however much you love to (mis)characterize my position.  However, as you correctly point out, simple punishment rarely results in a reduction of the associated behaviors, especially when there are clinical symptoms presenting and a clear need for treatment is established- for the individual.  For society at large, if we want to reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviors, we need to go far beyond “bad! bad!” and address the myriad factors that together conspire create the situation whereby people make horrible decisions, bad choices.

    You prefer to weigh the blame towards the individual, I feel the blame needs to be at least equally shared between the individual and the system that produces them.  You want everyone to be judged in a context-independent way; I recognize that nobody lives in a context-free environment.

  40. Mike October 13, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    white, black, purple, star bellied — a whole world of PTSD

    Sucks to be surrounded by a whole room full of it in school — or to have it too. Sort of slows down the learning process

    Just google that Mazlov stuff and you’ll get some triangle graphics, etc…

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