Saturday, March 17, 2007

Alito, Scalia, Roberts, Sentelle....

Which one do you want puzzling over the MRIs and setting precedents?
Posted by olvlzl.
Jeffrey Rosen's piece in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday is too good an example of what I’ve been warning about to pass up. Regular readers of this blog will know what I've been writing about the overstated claims made by increasing numbers of cognitive and behavioral scientists and concerns about people in authority who might act on those claims. Though Rosen introduces the use of it into arguments against the fixation on punishment by the legal system, that is incredibly naive. The assertion that people who are not legally insane behave as a result of their brain chemistry and physiology instead of free choice is more likely to lead to the conclusion of Peter Lorre’s gangster jury in the movie “M”, that people who can’t keep themselves from committing crimes should be exterminated. Who can look at the judicial system and political climate we have and not see that as the likely outcome?

Rosen begins badly with the assertion that “since all behavior is caused by our brains, wouldn’t this mean all behavior could potentially be excused”? The statement that all behavior is caused by our brains isn’t science, it’s philosophy. The attempts to find answers to questions of this kind go back at least to the dawn of the Samkhya school in India c. 200 CE. The impossibility of coming up with even the first answer, whether there is a self there in the first place, it’s doubtful the question can be answered. For similar reasons it’s doubtful that the more overblown claims of the researchers are on much higher ground. Those stem from assertions that what they can see is all that there is, that is also philosophy. Any conclusions as to what imaging and chemical analysis mean would be based on an analysis of data drawn from a number of individuals, it would start with that philosophical stand. The results would also be an interpretation of a statistical analysis of the group as a whole. What that evidence and the analysis means doesn’t reach the question of where the behavior of any individual starts. Even tested individuals could well be excluded from the analysis as outliers.

Rosen’s article goes into the work of “Owen Jones, a professor of law and biology at Vanderbilt. Jones (who happens to have been one of my law-school classmates*)” who is “turning Vanderbilt into a kind of Los Alamos for neurolaw. The university has just opened a $27 million neuroimaging center and has poached leading neuroscientists from around the world; soon, Jones hopes to enroll students in the nation’s first program in law and neuroscience.” “It”s breathlessly exciting,” he says. “This is the new frontier in law and science we’re peering into the black box to see how the brain is actually working, that hidden place in the dark quiet, where we have our private thoughts and private reactions and the law will inevitably have to decide how to deal with this new technology.”

With that amount of funding and the investment in professional and personal credibility and pride how much do you want to bet that they don’t come up with anything less than firm assertions? With the judicial system being what it is, you don’t have to guess that somewhere, some judge dazzled with their images and pedigree will accept them at their word and start building precedent and a legal framework that will become imbedded. It could be someone with ties to Vanderbuilt. Once it has been, that precedent will affect what our legal system does to people. And given the preference for the judicial system to “to substitute words for reality and then argue about the words,**" you can guess that the legal effect might well have a longer shelf life than the “science”.

How much of a reach is it to speculate once it becomes part of case law that it has an effect on legislation? With the number of lawyers in the Congress and state legislatures it’s a sure bet.

A good question to ask at the start is why this “science” is a sounder basis for law enforcement than an effort to generate better and more honest crime scene evidence. The physical aspects of evidence are certainly more easily analyzed than the product of cognitive science. Unlike the assertions of the science, most of those can be seen. Shouldn’t those who want to insert these speculations into the judicial system have to show results at least as good as real forensic science?

There are much better ways to argue against punishment as the method of dealing with those convicted of crimes than to go down this road. As pointed out in the beginning asserting that people don’t exercise free will is an invitation to disaster. It also endangers civil liberties and freedom. There is no getting around that, when the possibility of free will is denied the logical conclusion is that democracy is an illusion. We don’t need the speculations of self-interested scientists to tell us what has happens when that is assumed, we’ve got the horrible and bloody history of the 20th century to look at. That is all too real.

Punishment as law enforcement has a track record of failure and it’s expensive. Those two arguments are more likely to wash politically than “neurolaw”. I would also argue that punishment is not only useless but a fixation on it is no different from a desire for revenge. Revenge, far from being the virtue that it is presented as in entertainment, debases those who long for it and those who achieve it. That, however, isn’t an argument that will work in today’s political atmosphere which has been polluted by crime shows and sensational cabloid swill. That atmosphere is the one into which Jones and Rosen propose launching their new science. The results won’t be what they intend.

More generally, for our politics. Since the question of free will is impossible to answer, what should be done about it? I think that it should be assumed to exist because that assumption is useful in avoiding dictatorship and other awful things. It’s sort of like the complex number system using what are called the “imaginary numbers”. Those exist largely because they are useful. Their invention was based in utility and the theoretical framework expanded to include them. Politics and law are a lot more flexible than the exigent requirements of math. They can be informed by science but they don’t need to only rely on it. Holmes, who made unfortunate decisions based on unwise faith in biological determinism, said that the life of the law was based in experience, not logic. From his example, who can doubt that experience tempered by humility is probably a better guide when dealing with questions of free will.

* That fact alone should be a red flag. I’d feel a lot better about Rosen’s account of the lab if he had no connection to Jones. I think Rosen’s article is far too credulous about the science. It feels like there’s just too much awestruck wonder there.

** I’ve used this quote by Edwin Armstrong before.

A Glycemic Nightmare for St. Patrick’s Day

or, You don’t have to eat it all at once.
Posted by olvlzl.

4 medium potatoes
1 c. flour
1t. salt
1c. milk (soy milk works) or yogurt
2 eggs beaten

Grate two of the potatoes and squeeze the water from them by hand.
Boil the other two potatoes and mash them.

Mix all of the ingredients together until combined and bake in a greased casserole dish at 350 for about forty minutes or until done.

You can add onions.

Combine diced, boiled potatoes and lightly blanched, diced cabbage in whatever proportions you like. I like more cabbage and I always end up throwing in some onions. Fry in a tablespoon or so of oil until tender.

Soda Bread
4 c. flour
3 T sugar
1 t salt
1 t soda
1 t baking powder
4 T cold butter cut into pieces
1 egg
2 C buttermilk
Optional, 3 T. Caraway seeds

Mix dry ingredients together. Add butter and cut in. Add raisins and caraway.
Add the egg and butter milk and quickly and lightly knead till just incorporated
Bake at 425 degrees F. 40-45 minutes.

Tea Loaf
1 1/2 cups hot tea
2 c raisins
2 c currents
1 egg
1 t mixed spice
2 t baking powder
1 c soft brown sugar
3 1/2 c flour.

Soak fruit in hot tea till cold. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix egg, spice, baking powder, sugar , flour and the dry fruit. Pour into cake pan. Bake 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. Or steam. Turn out after five minutes of cooling.

My People Aren’t The Green Beer Type

Posted by olvlzl.
My mother’s uncle Jimmy was a hopeless alcoholic after being discharged from the army in World War One. As a result both my grandparents and parents were tea-totalers. Coffee, actually. So I never grew up with the stereotype Irish drinking culture that has become the unfortunate celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States. I never understood how you could dye stout green, anyway.

There are some good Irish resources on the web.

Irish language: My people coming from Cork I’d rather be able to give you a Munster dialect resource but these Ulster Irish lessons from the BBC in Northern Ireland are pretty good. You might enjoy watching these cartoons too, though I doubt you’re going to learn much language from them. I’ve watched the Welsh and Scots versions and think the voice actors in the Irish ones are funnier.

The Republicans Have Got Nothing

Posted by olvlzl.
Several things are clear from the hearings before Henry Waxman’s committee yesterday. First is that Valerie Plame Wilson is by far more credible than any of the professional liars that the Republicans and their media have put forward. And why shouldn’t she be? While they’ve been in the U.S. building their careers as flacks, hacks and wacks she was maintaining cover as a spy, trying to discover the truth in service to her country. The Toensings of America enjoy the massive media establishment PR machine to pretend that they’re credible. Plame Wilson was pretty much on her own maintaining cover in what must have been pretty dangerous conditions. What is pretended to be Toensing’s cred hangs on her having been a hack staffer decades ago and a constant mouthpiece of Republican talking points with memorable hair ever since. Does her law degree make her any more credible than the C list hack, Morton Kondracke? It shouldn’t after yesterday’s assertions that Plame Wilson wasn’t a covert agent. That was, to put it entirely plainly, a lie told under oath. It was a lie with the cowardly assertions and conditional statements that are the hallmark of legal casuistry.

Another thing that is clear, Toensing is the best that the Republicans in Congress and the Bush Junta have to offer by way of defense. Her lies will be spread all over the cabloids and right-wing hate talk radio but, for people who are interested in reality instead of lies, they will be confirmation that the Bush regime has turned the United States Government into a lawless, irresponsible and vengeful rogue state. For them even winning isn’t the only thing. Getting their hands on the U.S. government and stealing everything they can is. That is the key to understanding the Republican rule of the last six years.

"Erin Go Braless,

that's what I say".
Bette Midler

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Nonpolitical Friday Garden Story

Because it is snowing outside:

Why I Garden

My secret real reason for gardening is that I am scared of my hairdresser. And of my dentist and other people's elected political representatives. All these people tend to find me faulty, and insist on wagging their forefinger at me while giving sermons on how to improve my hair, teeth or lifestyle. However hard I try, I fail to make them scared of me, their true employer.

Plants don't wag anything at me, don't preach, don't condemn. They may not be scared of me, either, but at least they know their proper place. They never ask me if I knew what I was doing when I trimmed my own bangs. They never talk at all.

Gardens are quiet, healing places, where no-one is interested in the gardeners' bank balances, school grades or family values. We can wear anything that is comfortable, however awful the resulting visual combinations, and not a single plant shudders. We can make the most elementary horticultural mistakes, and the insects simply go on flying, crawling and chewing without even one snide remark or sidelong sneer. And no-one in the garden tries to sell us anything.

Even the most extroverted gardener needs such a respite from the human community. Gardens charge our mental and physical batteries and restore our sense of proportion. And spotting new examples of nature's beauty or bounty makes us wish to share these with others. Our pleasure in the company of people is, paradoxically, renewed by their very absence from the garden.

Some days I go to weed and water in the garden prepared to resign from the human race. Then the garden takes over, the passing time goes unnoticed, and suddenly, it seems, night is falling. As I stow away my tools, tired and hungry, the company of other people is once again welcome. I enter the brightly lit house, ready for dinner, for good conversation and perhaps even for finding a new hairdresser.

Women And Op-Ed Pieces

Patricia Cohen has written an interesting article on the scarcity of women op-ed writers and on one woman, Catherine Orenstein, who plans to fix that scarcity problem. Cohen begins by summarizing the problem and Orenstein's solution to it:

Whatever other reasons may explain the lack of women's voices on the nation's op-ed pages, the lack of women asking to be there is clearly part of the problem. Many opinion page editors at major newspapers across the country say that 65 or 75 percent of unsolicited manuscripts, or more, come from men.

The obvious solution, at least to Catherine Orenstein, an author, activist and occasional op-ed page contributor herself, was to get more women to submit essays. To that end Ms. Orenstein has been training women at universities, foundations and corporations to write essays and get them published.

Uproars over the sparse numbers of women in newspapers, or on news programs, in magazines, and on best-seller lists regularly erupt every couple of years. A doozy occurred in 2005, after the liberal commentator Susan Estrich and Michael Kinsley, then editor of The Los Angeles Times's opinion pages, got into a nasty scuffle over the lack of female columnists. That dustup is what motivated Ms. Orenstein to take her op-ed show on the road, which she has done with support from the Woodhull Institute, an ethics and leadership group for women.

Orenstein teaches the basic rules of op-ed writing in her courses, and that is a good thing, of course. But I'm not sure that the reason for fewer female op-ed writers is that obvious. Do men know those rules so much better? I doubt it.

Do you know what would be fun? A study which looks at all those submissions, the ones which are predominantly male. Such a study could analyze the submissions for how well they are written, for the rules that Orenstein refers to, and for the topic of the submission. This would be fun and also informative, because some of Cohen's arguments in the NYT article suggest that women are more careful about what they might send in, and if this is true then it just could be that the average quality of the female-penned op-ed submissions is better than the average of the male-penned pieces. Or it could be that women really don't know the rules and that therefore the average female-written submission is of lower quality. Or the average qualities could be identical. My point is that we don't really know that they are.

My guess is that women, on average, write about somewhat different political and social topics and that there may be a biased filter at the other end, a filter which traps more of those submissions as uninteresting, because they have been traditionally underrepresented in the media.

I have written about these questions before, usually around the time when there is one of those waves of asking where all the women bloggers are and why they are no good, but a short way of explaining my opinion is that this might be one of those questions in which we need to apply both prongs of my feminist definition fork:

We need to make sure that women have an equal opportunity to participate in the public debate AND we need to value the traditionally female fields of activity as much as the traditionally male fields of activity. The latter means that the definition of politics and the view of What Is Really Important may have to change, to allow for equal treatment of the so-called "women's issues" on op-ed pages.

A Threat To National Security

This is what protesting feminists have been called in Iran:

- Prominent Iranian women's rights leaders Shadi Sadr and Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh remain in jail after being arrested for peacefully protesting on March 4. The women, who were arrested with some 30 feminist activists for protesting the detainment of four other Iranian feminists, have been charged with being a "threat to national security," the Campaign to Free Women's Rights Defenders in Iran reports. According to independent news source, they have been ordered to serve a month-long detainment.

The Iranian theocrats take the feminist threat seriously. I wonder if any of these arrests had to do with trying to prevent demonstrations on the International Women's Day?

Climate Crisis Action Day: March 20, 2007

A big event is being planned for March 20, in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.

Hillary-Bashing in the Media

It's boring for me, because it's very early days in this game and I can't quite see what cards the Hillary-bashers might be holding up their sleeves. Maybe the idea is to get us so used to the misogyny and the Bill-hating that we would never, ever push the button for her.

Note carefully that what I'm talking about here is not Hillary Clinton's political views or plans. Those are fair game for attacking, analyzing and discussing. I'm talking about this stuff:

On the March 15 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira asked Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Barack Obama (IL) about "the marriage factor" in the 2008 election, saying that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) "all married multiple times." She added, "Plus, [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] has had her marriage troubles as well."

Vieira's reference to Clinton in the same question as Giuliani, McCain, and Gingrich (here and here) suggests that Clinton's "marriage factor" issues are comparable to those of the Republican presidential candidates, overlooking the obvious difference: Giuliani, McCain, and Gingrich themselves have histories of extramarital relationships, while in Clinton's case, it is the conduct of her spouse to which Vieira was presumably referring.

Or this stuff:

From the March 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: I don't want to sound like the old ball-and-chain guy, but Hillary Clinton cannot be elected president because -- am I wrong in feeling, am I the only one in America that feels this way? -- that there's something about her vocal range. There's something about her voice that just drives me -- it's not what she says, it's how she says it. She is like the stereotypical -- excuse the expression, but this is the way to -- she's the stereotypical bitch, you know what I mean? She's that stereotypical, nagging, [unintelligible], you know what I mean? And she doesn't have to be saying -- she could be saying happy things, but after four years, don't you think every man in America will go insane? Is it just me? I mean, I know this is horrible to say, but I mean it not -- I would say this if she were Condi Rice and she sounded like that. Condi Rice doesn't have that grate to her voice. You know what I need to do? I need to talk to a vocal expert, because there is a range in women's voices that experts say is just the chalk, I mean, the fingernails on the blackboard. And I don't know if she's using that range or what it is, but I've heard her in speeches where I can't take it.

Wouldn't it be a fascinating experiment to take these two quotes and then to apply them to president Bush? We would dig up events from Laura's history and we would use them against George, as if George had carried them out himself. Then we would point out that George is cross-eyed and has a voice which makes some of us run screaming from the room when the television has been accidentally left on when he speaks. And then we would point out that we have had six years of this already.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Alberto Gonzales and Related Syndromes

My brain works in mysterious ways today. I wrote a full post about fall guys, scapegoats and strawwomen without really getting to the reason for that post, the reason being the recent Walter Reed scandal and the still-widening Gonzales Gate*, and how these two are producing lots of new fall guys and gals, some scapegoats and even a few strawfigures. As an example, consider the firing of the eight federal prosecutors (which I call the Gonzales Gate) and the most recent chapter in the saga:

New unreleased e-mails from top administration officials show that the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House adviser Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than the White House previously acknowledged.

The e-mails also show that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discussed the idea of firing the attorneys en masse weeks before he was confirmed as attorney general.

The e-mails directly contradict White House assertions that the notion originated with recently departed White House counsel Harriet Miers, and was her idea alone.

The eight fired prosecutors look like scapegoats. D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's former Chief of Staff was most likely a fall guy. Harriet Miers, according to the above quote, may have been intended for a fall gal. And the strawmen? That would depend on your political views, I guess, but certainly the conservatives attempt to argue that the whole scandal is a strawman created by the Democrats.

Now cast your mind back a bit, to the Walter Reed scandal. Many heads fell in that one, and I think that at least one head might not have belonged to a fall guy or a mastermind but a scapegoat. That would be the head of George W. Weightman, the last commander of the Walter Reed complex. He wasn't the commander for long enough to have been responsible for the state of affairs at Walter Reed and there is some evidence that he was trying to improve matters. But he had to be made to resign. Symbolism seems to demand it.

*A good place to follow the events of the Gonzales Gate is Josh Marshall's place, but a quick summary of the issue is that it is all about lying or not lying to the Congress.

The Fall Guy, The Scapegoat And The Strawwoman

Sounds like the company Judy Garland had on her travels in the Wizard of Oz, but these are really creatures in the political games. I made the last a strawwoman in the interest of feminism, by the way.

All three creatures wear funny clothing and sing catchy tunes in an old movie in my mind, but underneath all that surface gaiety is something menacing or at least mean-spirited. If you place the three side by side in the order of my title, then the first one on the left, the fall guy, is at least partially guilty of something but not the mastermind of the crime or other deplorable deed. A fall guy/gal might be someone like Private Lynndie England , sentenced for torturing people at the Abu Ghraib prison. She obviously did it, but it is very unclear whether she just got the brilliant idea of having some fun that way or whether she was following orders. If the latter, then she is the fall gal, one to take on the guilt of all others. Like Scooter Libby, perhaps. Fall guys and fall gals are always less powerful than the masterminds who get off scot-free.

The scapegoat is the person in the middle of my title. A scapegoat is innocent and that is how he or she differs from the fall guy/gal. Traditionally a scapegoat was burdened with the crimes and sins of all residents of an area and then brutally killed or driven out of town. This was believed to appease the blood-thirsty divinities (though we divines prefer chocolate). We don't go quite as far today in most cases. It's usually enough to destroy the reputation of the scapegoat.

Political games are often about whether a person is a fall guy or a scapegoat or the incredibly powerful mastermind of some heinous deed. Poor women on welfare were the scapegoats of a lot of societal anger in the 1990s, laden with every accusation that could be thought and driven to the outer margins of acceptable society. A way of cleansing our own consciences. Disgusting, too.

The last person in my title, the one on the very right edge, is the strawman or strawwoman, something made out for the very purpose of being accused. There is a link to the scapegoat here, because strawmen have in the past also been burned in symbolic killings of some idea or cause, but strawmen are not living creatures at all.

The political game regards it morally legitimate to try to turn other players or their ideas into fall guys, scapegoats or strawwomen. So now you know.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammad Confesses

Read the list of crimes that he masterminded here. Perhaps he indeed is the mastermind of every single terrorist act in the last twenty years. Perhaps. Or he has cracked and is confessing to everything anybody suggests to him. I wonder if they tried asking him about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Meanwhile, in Texas

Governor (Goodhair) Perry's recent order requiring the vaccination of sixth-grade girls against the human papillomavirus is facing stern and abstinent opposition:

Texas lawmakers are fighting to block the governor's order requiring that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer, with the House giving final approval to a bill to make the shots strictly voluntary.

Gov. Rick Perry's executive order has inflamed conservatives who say it contradicts Texas' abstinence-only sexual education policies and intrudes into family lives. Some critics also have questioned whether the vaccine has been proven safe.

The House voted 118-23 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would keep the vaccine off the list of required shots for school attendance. The measure now heads to the state Senate, where more than half the members are co-sponsoring an identical bill.

The 118 votes for the bill Wednesday would be more than enough to override a veto by the governor.


The governor's office has estimated that only 25 percent of young women in Texas would get the vaccine if it is not mandatory.

This means that 75% of young women in Texas would not be vaccinated. Does the legislature really think that three fourths of all young women in Texas will stay abstinent until marriage and that they will all marry young men who have never had sex and therefore can't be carriers of the virus? Or is it just that premarital sex is worse than dying of cancer?

A Chocolate Cake Post


(I always wanted to do this.)

Give, Give, Give

The very excellent Majikthise is having a fund drive week. She needs your contributions to continue blogging, so if you have some extra pennies under the sofa cushions send them to her.

Or to me, if you have even more spare change. A friend suggested that I should do a fund drive aimed at the people who hate my writing. I could offer to quit once I reach a hundred thousand dollars! Of course I wouldn't really quit but I'd just change mah style and name.

What Is A Bigot?

This question occurred to me when I read a recent Media Matters piece about the bigots of the left who will oppose Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy because he is a Mormon:

Summary: On Hannity & Colmes, Hugh Hewitt claimed that Mitt Romney is "not going to have a problem with pro-lifers" in seeking the presidency in 2008, but rather "[h]e's going to have problem with anti-Mormon bigots on the left, especially." However, recent polls indicate that more liberals than conservatives would be willing to vote for a Mormon.

I realized that my inner emotional word dictionary equates "bigot" with "someone with strongly racist beliefs" mostly, though I also interpret bigotry as an ingrained fanatic belief in the inferiority of some other group. So I looked up some actual dictionary definitions of the word:

n : a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions
differing from his own

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

Bigot \Big"ot\, a.
Bigoted. [Obs.]

In a country more bigot than ours. --Dryden.

Bigot \Big"ot\, n. [F. bigot a bigot or hypocrite, a name once
given to the Normans in France. Of unknown origin; possibly
akin to Sp. bigote a whisker; hombre de bigote a man of
spirit and vigor; cf. It. s-bigottire to terrify, to appall.
Wedgwood and others maintain that bigot is from the same
source as Beguine, Beghard.]
1. A hypocrite; esp., a superstitious hypocrite. [Obs.]

2. A person who regards his own faith and views in matters of
religion as unquestionably right, and any belief or
opinion opposed to or differing from them as unreasonable
or wicked. In an extended sense, a person who is
intolerant of opinions which conflict with his own, as in
politics or morals; one obstinately and blindly devoted to
his own church, party, belief, or opinion.

To doubt, where bigots had been content to wonder
and believe. --Macaulay.

Or, in shorter terms:

One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

Very wide, these definitions are. Wouldn't they make Hugh Hewitt, the person described in the Media Matters quote a bigot himself, just because he accuses others of bigotry without evidence?

No Child Left Behind

Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias disagree about the meaning of the 100% goals in the No Child Left Behind legislation, this one:

No Child Left Behind, the landmark federal education law, sets a lofty standard: that all students tested in reading and math will reach grade level by 2014. Even when the law was enacted five years ago, almost no one believed that standard was realistic.

But now, as Congress begins to debate renewing the law, lawmakers and education officials are confronting the reality of the approaching deadline and the difficult political choice between sticking with the vision of universal proficiency or backing away from it.

"There is a zero percent chance that we will ever reach a 100 percent target," said Robert L. Linn, co-director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing at UCLA. "But because the title of the law is so rhetorically brilliant, politicians are afraid to change this completely unrealistic standard. They don't want to be accused of leaving some children behind."

Drum suspects that this is a plot by the conservatives to have almost all public schools fail. Yglesias finds this paranoid and points out that states can define what a 100% proficiency means, to make it such a low level that all children can pass.

Of course the program is then nothing but political mouthwash. Come to think of it, it's political mouthwash even if that is not true.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Anniversary -- Escaping institutionalization

This is a guest post by Blue Lily, or Kay Olson, of The Gimp Parade. Echidne has kindly given me access to post here on weekends, and while I'm technically breaking this little part of our agreement I DID originally post this at my site last Sunday. I trust the Goddess will let me know if I'm abusing my privileges, but I wanted to share before I forgot, which could totally happen between now and the weekend. Thanks all.

This past Tuesday, March 6, was the one-year anniversary of my returning home from my four-month hospital stay. What makes the date so important is that my insurance company tried very hard to have me sent to a nursing home after I'd been at the rehab hospital for two months. I was progressing with occupational and physical rehab, I was attempting to wean off the vent, and I was learning how to speak with the trach and ventilator. I was gaining weight -- up to 92 pounds from my low of 75 when I entered the ICU in November 2005.

Had the insurance company gotten it's way, I would have gone to the one nursing home in the entire Twin Cities they considered "in network" and accepting of vent-dependent clients. And I firmly believe that would have led to my death -- quite possibly in this past year.

From the beginning of my medical crisis, my parents and I had talked about how we would try our best to adapt to my changing needs -- the increased need for skilled assistance, the steep learning curve for the vent, trach and feeding tube, the medical bills threatening their financial security as well as mine. The insurance company assigned me a case worker. The hospital social workers helped us begin to navigate the system for state and federal aid. I signed over the title of my van to my folks, an act that terrified me because of how necessary and tenuous being asset-less appeared to my survival. (It's back in my name now, but at the time it was suggested as necessary.)

While I was busy at the rehab center with the minutiae of movement and breath, my parents were working to secure a home health agency and nursing care with state funding approval. Then, one morning, my Mom got a call from that insurance company case worker.

"I've got good news!" she said. "We're moving Kay to a nursing home that's closer to you so you won't have to drive so far to see her! The home is sending someone to assess Kay today!"

This is a person who knew we were working hard to get nursing coverage for me at home. And I don't know how long the insurance company had been planning to drop this bomb, but because I didn't have a telephone in my room (or, really, the ability to speak into it), she was basically telling my Mom the bomb was about to be dropped on me. My parents say they raced to the hospital -- a 90-minute drive -- to keep it from looking like they had decided to ambush and abandon me.

When I was in ICU at first, I was intubated with the breathing tube in my mouth and down my throat. For various reasons, including the Thanksgiving holiday and some scheduling around it, I was intubated for about three weeks and conscious for all but the first couple days before surgery to install the trach at my neck. Intubation by mouth is very painful on the jaw and tender throat. And frightening. During that time -- November 2005 -- I shifted emotionally from wishing I could die and stop the misery, being overwhelmed by the small kindnesses of people and the company of friends and family, and compulsively wondering if this was leading to the end. I was sure it was not, despite my on-and-off despair. I've had pneumonias that felt very deadly and like I might be rattling my way toward death, but this felt like a living transition that I would survive.

And yet, three months later, after the hardest-working, most character-building time of my life, when my parents rushed to my room at the rehab hospital to tell me the insurance company was planning on sending me to a nursing home, my absolute first private thought was, "So this is going to kill me after all."

That's not just drama. I've made a study of how institutionalization leads to the abuse and death of disabled (and elderly) folks -- especially those using ventilators. Like we feminists follow the state of reproductive choice, I have followed the freedoms and lack of them for disabled people in institutions. Abuse and death in institutions has been a theme, along with the basic immorality of warehousing people, in small activist publications like Mouth and Ragged Edge for decades.

As details about this particular facility I was slated to enter became known, it became clear to everyone I talked to at the rehab hospital that being there would likely endanger my health and most definitely halt and reverse specifics of the work I'd done in physical therapy.

As it happened, the one person at that nursing home responsible for assessing incoming inmates was away on a holiday in the tropics and did not visit me that day the insurance company woman said he would. My parents were able to break the news to me, and there would be a weekend reprieve. We learned more about the home in that time -- this home that none of the doctors, nurses, therapists, or RTs that I quizzed at the rehab hospital had any familiarity with. They couldn't recall sending any other patient there, though that was possibly due to a name change, I don't know.

Here are some things I learned about this nursing home I narrowly escaped being sent to, from my parents' on-site tour and my doctors' communication with the facility:
There was a vent wing with about a dozen people there using ventilators to breathe. When my parents visited in mid-afternoon, all these people that they saw through open doors were stuck in their beds.

I was slated for the last room at the end of the hall, as far as you can get from supervision and assistance.

There was no internet access anywhere available to inmates. And no TVs in the rooms. Patients were expected to provide their own if they wanted something to do while immobile in their beds. I suppose this is true of most nursing homes? I don't know.

There was a dining room, but when my Mom asked the home rep if I would be eating in it, she was told it was doubtful. Because of the vent, the woman said, unless I had someone of my own to assist me, I would be staying in my room for meals, and likely for everything else.

Much of the population was warehoused homeless people, probably mentally ill as well as formerly indigent, whom no other place would accept. My parents deduced that a young woman (okay, middle-aged) who cannot walk and is stuck in bed on a ventilator at the end of a long hallway without the power of speech might be vulnerable to physical attacks from mobile, minimally-supervised people with mental issues of their own.

There were RTs (respiratory therapists) on staff but all of them were off-duty every day from 3 p.m. until the next morning. (With my body adjusting to the trach and vent at that time, I was experiencing frequent "mucus plugs" that completely blocked off my airway and required immediate suction relief -- all of these events occurred for me at rehab during evening and night times. More than a dozen times I experienced these plugs, which often hit without notice. Once, I blacked out completely while the RT worked to clear my airway -- and this occurred with a night-duty RT who came immediately to my vent alarm from a desk just a few yards from my bed.*)

The ventilator I would be required to use would not allow for any weaning and would not be portable on my scooter.

I might not be allowed to use my own scooter, which in any case, would be of limited utility without a portable vent.

There was no physical therapy available to help me maintain or increase my strength, which I'd been working on daily to rebuild.
This was the only "in network" option my insurance company was giving me. Without home nursing assistance yet in place, the rehab hospital would not allow me to go home, but the insurance company expected this place would be suitable. My parents were so afraid for my safety and health that they were planning to take turns sleeping in the nursing home room with me, fighting whatever policies might prevent even that. The home care agency we were working with was racing to hire nurses, but expected it would take three weeks to a month.

It did take a month to get the nurses for home care -- and even then, only partial coverage. In the meantime my respiratory health took a little dip, likely because I was crying quite a bit from all this. Concerned, the rehab hospital doctors would not release me to the nursing home, the assessment dude never showed up, and one day, quite suddenly, the insurance company called the social worker and completely relented with the institutionalization plan. I'm sure this is because I had people: my parents to speak for me when I literally could not and wouldn't have had the energy or heart anyway, doctors and RTs who I was awake and conscious enough to build a relationship with so that they perhaps fought a little harder for me in a battle they faced with insurance companies daily. I had resources to keep me from that nursing home I believe would have caused my death. Other people do not.

This one-year anniversary reminds me of how very afraid I was to leave the hospital and the trained professionals behind for my parents' newly-learned suctioning skills and nurses we newbies would have to train. I'm home and happy, though unemployed and baffled as to how anyone who has to manage full-time assistance does anything else useful with their time. I'm hoping to figure that out in the coming year. This is a bittersweet anniversary to celebrate when I understand how very very lucky I am, and how the story is much different for other people who do end up in nursing homes and other institutions.


* Because of medication, adjustment to the vent, and a lowered cuff that prevents sudden total blockage, plugs are not an emergency I have had for about ten months now. This is the result of a lot of hard work and vigilance on my part. Conscious, alert, and in charge of my own health care here at home, I can weigh all the factors and adjust medication that prevents plugs, refuse meds if I don't need or want them, ask for suction, request more or less water in my cuff -- all without being institutionally "noncompliant" or having something decided without my input or consent. Until I was able to verbally express these wishes, my written communication was respected and "heard" by people who my family and I were able to assure cared about my preferences.

Cross-posted at my blog, The Gimp Parade

The Post That Died (File Under Trivial)

A lovely spring day here. I was walking the dog in the woods and just enjoying breathing in the promise of better days to come when a great political post idea struck me. One of those which is obvious when you finally look at it in the face but which is hard to spot, initially. One of those that would guarantee my immortality as a blogger. Get it?

By the time I got back I had forgotten it. How can I forget the post that was supposed to make my fame immortal? Universe loves coyote-the-trickster humor, methinks. As a punishment I'm not going to do the vacuuming today. Take that, universe!

A few weeks ago I was typing a post for the TAPPED blog, laughing at the wonderful funniness of it. Then I pressed the SAVE button. Or so I thought, but my fingers decided that the DELETE button would be even funnier to press. And no, I had not saved the post, because the muse came upon me suddenly and with the full intoxicated seductive charm only he has.

Somewhere there is a wonderful world of all those lost ideas and deleted posts.

The Gonzales-Gate

I have not written anything on the firings of the federal prosecutors, but I have followed the case with great interest. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is going to make a statement this afternoon. The case against him is well summarized here:

Here are some of the falsehoods we've been told that are now unraveling.

First, we were told that the seven of the eight U.S. attorneys were fired for performance reasons.

It now turns out this was a falsehood, as the glowing performance evaluations attest.

Second, we were told by the attorney general that he would, quote, "never, ever make a change for political reasons."

It now turns out that this was a falsehood, as all the evidence makes clear that this purge was based purely on politics, to punish prosecutors who were perceived to be too light on Democrats or too tough on Republicans.

Third, we were told by the attorney general that this was just an overblown personnel matter.

It now turns out that far from being a low-level personnel matter, this was a longstanding plan to exact political vendettas or to make political pay-offs.

Fourth, we were told that the White House was not really involved in the plan to fire U.S. attorneys. This, too, turns out to be false.

Harriet Miers was one of the masterminds of this plan, as demonstrated by numerous e-mails made public today. She communicated extensively with Kyle Sampson about the firings of the U.S. attorneys. In fact, she originally wanted to fire and replace the top prosecutors in all 93 districts across the country.

Fifth, we were told that Karl Rove had no involvement in getting his protege appointed U.S. attorney in Arkansas.

In fact, here is a letter from the Department of Justice. Quote: "The department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin."

It now turns out that this was a falsehood, as demonstrated by Mr. Sampson's own e-mail. Quote: "Getting him, Griffin, appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, et cetera.

Sixth, we were told to change the Patriot Act was an innocent attempt to fix a legal loophole, not a cynical strategy to bypass the Senate's role in serving as a check and balance.

Rush Limbaugh on Abortion

You probably can predict the kind of stuff he might say, but here it is:

I would only have one small nitpick with former Senator Zeller [sic] over this: How many of these 45 million children who have been aborted would be Democrats, would be the offspring of Democrats? And as such, how many of them would have jobs? As such, how many of them would even think of joining the military? I know they're some Republican liberal babes in there that [have] gone out and had abortions, too, but the vast majority of them are liberals. This way if you look at the demographics of the future, you could say liberals are aborting themselves out of the majority if current trends hold. Everybody knows that's who's having the majority of these things.

Interesting, by the way, that Rush himself has not provided us with a single known offspring. And yes, I can point that out, because he himself crossed the line first.

But then to the interesting part of the quote, the last sentence: "Everybody knows that's who's having the majority of these things." Well, I don't know that, for one example, and I can't quite see how to make a study that would come to Rush's conclusions. Whenever someone says "everybody knows" my ears perk up and my research teeth sharpen themselves and roll out from their sockets, because there are very few things that everybody truly knows. So let's see why Rush might be mistaken.

His fallacy (phallacy?) appears to be the common one of thinking that if being pro-choice is a liberal stance then most abortions will be performed on liberal women. This ignores the old saw about there being three cases where most everybody agrees that abortion should be legal: in the case of rape or incest, when the mother's life is threatened, and when it's my abortion or my wife's or girlfriend's abortion we are talking about. Add to that the possibility that liberal women might be more likely to use birth control in the first place, not being religiously constrained to aim for abstinence, and it might well be the case that liberal women have less need for abortions . Then there is the obvious fact that a woman might be for abortion rights in general without wanting to use that option herself.

I suspect that most women who have abortions are apolitical rather than politically conservative or liberal, and when that isn't the case I find it hard to imagine how to do research on the political views of the women. Would someone answer questions about voting patterns at the abortion clinic? The substitute measures for this, such as calculating abortion rates by the majority political views of the state they take place in fail to measure the number of women who come from other states with fewer abortion clinics. Interstate traffic.

Then note something very interesting. None of this tells us anything about the political stances of the men whose sperm was involved in these aborted pregnancies. It could well be that all those men were wingnut pro-lifers, and if that's the case perhaps it is the conservatives who are being made extinct. We don't know, do we?

The Immorality Of It All

General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks that homosexuality is immoral:

"I do not believe that the armed forces of the United States are well served by saying, through our policies, that it's okay to be immoral in any way, not just with regards homosexuality. So from that standpoint, saying that gays should serve openly in the military to me says that we, by policy, would be condoning what I believe is immoral activity. And therefore, as an individual, I would not want that to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with someone else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not — we prosecute that kind of immoral behavior between members of the armed forces."

And what about people having affairs with each other who are not married? Does the military prosecute those, too? Because that might be what most homosexual relationships would look like if the partners in them are unmarried.

General Pace will not apologize for his comments.

Let's look at one part of his statement in a little bit more detail:

I do not believe that the armed forces of the United States are well served by saying, through our policies, that it's okay to be immoral in any way

What if a war in itself is immoral?

What if a war that in itself might be immoral causes the U.S. military to take psychopaths to Iraq (or makes some people into psychopaths) and what if these psychopaths then rape and murder a fourteen-year old girl and slaughter her whole family?

Is it immoral to force wounded soldiers back to Iraq even if their disabilities make them useless over there? Is it immoral to ignore the crisis in the medical care the returning veterans get until one is caught?

The conservative concept of morality is almost always a narrow one, having to do with sexuality. But even if we limit ourselves to looking at sexual violence in the military I see much greater problems of immorality among heterosexuals.

Monday, March 12, 2007

We Need Fire-Breathing Dragons

Media Matters for America has come up with another analysis of the guests invited to the Sunday political talk shows. They are still largely conservative, more conservative and most conservative. Wingnuts, in short. Which reminds me of a cartoon I saw somewhere, about two guests invited to be on Fox News. First the liberal was introduced and he muttered something one could hardly read. Then the conservative was introduced and a big flame of fire erupted out of his mouth. Every cell of the cartoon had the same thing happen, which was very funny, because that's how Fox News are.

Back to the need for fire-breathing dragons of the left. It's not just that these programs don't have enough liberal/progressive guests. It's that they don't have any fire-breathing lefties. These people are needed, because the presence of the fire-breathing righties pulls the apparent center towards the right. We need to pull back.

I could learn to breathe fire, I think.

How to Get Boys To Read

As heard by me a few moments ago on the local public radio station. Listen to what the "expert" says at the end of the interview.

It is perfectly natural to regard anything girls and women do as yucky, because even adult men do so. Well, this particular adult man does. And he quotes Michael Gurian as an unbiased source.

The point of this post is to pay attention. Pay attention to the muttered and whispered things which go for neutrality in these kinds of discussions.

The Sheep And The Goats

That title is just because. The post is about how the Americans answer questions about their political affiliation. Here is a recent set of polling answers (click on the picture to make it larger):

As Kevin Drum notes, these numbers have stayed fairly constant for about twenty years.

Now why is this interesting? It is! The reason is that this self-identification does not match the same Americans' views on various public policy issues. Many so-called liberal policies have majority support. The interesting question is why people support liberal policies but reject the liberal label, and one answer is that this is a consequence of the successful demonization project of the Wingnuttia Inc. during the last two decades.

Another answer is something that might strike a person born in Europe more than someone who has always lived in a two-party system. There aren't very many subtle gradations in those questions. How would a rabid communist answer that questionnaire? There is no place for distinguishing true extreme-left views from views of people like Hillary Clinton, really. And note the "moderate" category. Doesn't its presence suggest that "liberal" is not "moderate"?

I wonder what would happen if we replaced the "liberal" label with "progressive"?

God Is An Anti-Feminist

The fundamentalist Christianist God, anyway. And the radical Islamist God. In fact, most monotheistic religions happen to have guy gods who don't think much of women's independence. So what's a preacher or an imam to do? Can't go against God's will.

Of course, the same texts that are so carefully being nitpicked for anything, anything at all, that could be used against women's rights are also rife with statements which appear to regard slavery perfectly acceptable. But we threw those bits out. And practically nobody follows large chunks of the rules in the Old Testament, for example.

But the rules about gender relationships are still quite popular. - Imagine trying to argue with someone on women's rights issues, when that person believes that he or she is on God's side. Imagine Don Quixote and the windmills. Or imagine me banging my head against the garage door. Or carrying water with a sieve. It is pointless.

What provoked this wallowing in bitterness? A post by Ruth Rosen where she tells a tale about politics:

"Say professor," he said, "could I ask you a question?" I looked at his serious face. His eyes were deep brown, his skin even darker. His smile was warm and appealing. "Sure," I answered, knowing that I was early for a two-hour library class to teach my students how to do electronic research.

"Do you think this country is ready for a black or a woman?" He asked as if he really cared, so I took his question seriously. "I don't really know," I answered honestly, "because Americans tend to lie to pollsters in public and vote differently in private."

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a black man could overcome all the terrible stereotypes about men in prison, violence men, and urban gangs? "

"It sure would," I said. "And I have been very impressed by Obama so far. It's remarkable to see a white woman and a black man compete—thirty or more years after we struggled for basic civic rights.

"Yea," he said. "But you know what?" I don't think a woman should ever be president." Looking down at the book he was reading, he told me how the bible insisted that a man should head his household. "So a man should rule the country."

Memories of working in the civil rights movement flooded me. "So I believe in racial equality," I said, "but you don't believe in gender equality?"

He hesitated and said, "Look I think it's okay for women to do important things but men must rule the home and the country. They each have important but different things to do in this world. That's what I learned from the bible."

Ouch. Ouch and ouch. So many ouches here. Note how the setup is to have black men against women in general? There are only so many slots for upwards mobility, after all, and if the competition could be stifled, well, that would be good. Who is the most deserving?

That was the first "ouch", because the question is quite wrong and the whole setup is quite wrong. But I suspect we are going to hear a lot more about this idea of a few slots and too many applicants. And about "women" vs. "black men", which somehow manages to redirect the attention away from the groups where the power actually resides.

The second "ouch" was with this man's solution to the problem. Just decide that men must be the rulers of the country and the home. Now that will cut back the competition by a very large number of people, and in a way which cannot really be argued, given that guy god thing. A good solution, if you are a man.

My third "ouch" came from reading the comments to Rosen's post. It seems that she punched a lot of buttons.
For a less upset discussion of some of these issues, USAToday has a story about "diversity" among the candidates, including age diversity.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Do You Think I Meant Country Matters?

Better fix this right away.
Posted by olvlzl.
Pedia-failure? Ah, I see what you ..... No, it doesn’t refer to that. Maybe you suspect that I was calling attention to the fact that Andy Schlafly has spared no expense in putting together a crack team of home-schoolers to produce his encyclopedia, a pedipedia, as it were. Maybe you thought that this could be an indication that an ideologically based encyclopedia produced by a bunch of home-schooled moppets might just flop? Ok. Well, that wasn’t my intention, though it’s not bad, now that I think of it. But I can’t claim that was my intention.

Your mistake is, perhaps, a result of shoddy research, of folk etymology or, as we call it sometimes, jumping to a lazy-assed conclusion.

If you looked up “encyclopedia” in a real reference work, you would see that “-pedia” is a corruption of the Greek “paideia” or education. An encyclopedia is an attempt to provide material that would be useful in producing a well-rounded education. What knowledgeable persons call a “liberal education”. Looking at the Conservapedia, that doesn’t seem to be something being risked. Noting the “articles” I linked to, one on as vital a right-wing subject as “capitalism”, I think that a fair evaluation would be that it’s a collection of badly written stubs, as they are called elsewhere. I was calling attention to the fact that the thing might appear to be useless for learning anything.

It began in an attempt to make a pun on the name of Andy’s dam, though that wasn’t a success either.


Posted by olvlzl.
This afternoon, in a wide ranging discussion of the FOX alternative to The Daily Show, complete with canned laughter (they can’t trust conservatives to even get right wing jokes apparently), and other conservative topics, my younger brother, who has a much stronger stomach for monitoring right wing loons than I do, told me about Conservapedia. Sensing a post, I rushed home and went to check the thing out. Well, Wiki must be shaking in its boots because Conservapedia:

has over 4,100 educational, clean and concise entries on historical, scientific, legal, and economic topics, including more than 350 lectures and term lists. There have been over 2,800,000 page views and over 24,300 page edits. Already Conservapedia has become one of the largest user-controlled free encyclopedias on the internet. This site is growing rapidly.

Conservapedia jumps to Number One!

Today Wikipedia lists 1,680,974 articles in English.

I’d talk about the other languages it’s available in but in the Conservapedia’s list of “Commandments” is the requirement that everything be spelled in “American spelling” so it looks like there’s no danger of a French edition.

Commandment #1 is, Everything you post must be true and verifiable. Yeah, right. Looking at just the article on evolution gives a pretty good idea of just how that one works out. Well, being fair, it doesn't mention complete. And going over to the two line treatment of gravity including this line

Gravity is considered by scientists and evolutionists to be one of the fundamental forces of the universe.

it looks like science and math aren’t going to be their strong point. And you radical physicists, watch it.

But maybe they do fill a need for people who find Wikipedia too liberal. Go to this brilliant article and see why conservatives who want to be in the know are flocking to Conservapedia.

Conservapedia, look at it and decide for yourself.

Oh, and did I mention that its founder is Andy Schlafly, son of Phyllis? For more read this article in the Toronto Star.

Zell Miller Wants You

To produce cannon fodder.
Posted by olvlzl.
Someone get the net before it's too late. You've read, no doubt, that Zell Miller’s gone off the beam again. His pronouncement the other day, that legal abortion is the reason that they don’t have enough excess population to spare for the multiple Bush Wars has got to count as one of the looniest things a washed up pol has said in the past year. The country has the better part of a hundred million more people now than it did when Roe vs. Wade was decided, so just on the most basic tether to reality Zell is in the ozone. It’s too late to bring him back to earth but someone might ask him why, with tens of millions more Americans, Bush is unable to sustain his wars like Johnson and Nixon were able to sustain theirs. Could the real reason be that there was a draft in effect? Even with the deferments for the children of privilege the much smaller population could keep sending people to get killed. That’s the real difference between then and now. Of course, the plebs might not be so willing to let rich kids be deferred like they were back then or we’d probably already have a draft.

What is Zell’s solution? Breeding programs? Someone, pop Zell’s balloon before he starts interfering with satellite transmissions.

Men Will Be Boys, Sometimes At Least

Posted by olvlzl.
Writing about an unread book based on a review probably counts as a bad habit. I wouldn’t have been tempted except that I wrote a piece about the subject of bad behavior by American men last year. Reading it again after reading the review of Us Guys: The true and twisted mind of the American Man by Charlie LeDuff in the paper this morning it seems to still hold. Reading Dan Cryer’s review, though, it’s interesting to notice two things about the title. Us Men. Notice that LeDuff uses the first person plural objective pronoun. The objective case more than implies that Us Men are being acted on by the subject, they are at the receiving end of something. And then in the subtitle the author says that he’s presenting a true mind of “the American man”. Why the use of the singular all of a sudden? And there is the use of “the”, as if there is only one “American Man”.

The book, if the review is accurate, seems to be a series of drive by glances at groups of men engaged in group macho activities. The reviewer didn’t think much of LeDuff’s views, which are presented as being pretty superficial. And, apropos my piece, that none of them seemed to be engaged in particularly useful or responsible activities. Did these men go home to responsible lives, unseen by the author and the other men in their group?

But who was it who was acting on “Us Men”? I suspect that if pressed they might name any number of people doing them wrong. It could be people with actual control of their lives, bosses, politicians or others. But in conservative, "Guy-merica" I suspect that in most of cases the answer might be women or illegal immigrants or minority groups. It’s my experience that macho men, even in groups, are generally too cowardly to attribute their oppression to those who actually have power and prefer to nourish their resentments against people who are less powerful. Macho men are cowards.

But there are adult men who are responsible and who aren’t afraid to face who has power and who doesn’t. They tend to function heroically in daily life by just being responsible. Gregory Peck as opposed to the young Clint Eastwood. The role models are there in popular culture. Some men function quite fully as men in real life refusing to be a part of a boy pack. Why don’t these guys make better decisions? Maybe one of those acting on them is “Us Men”. Maybe they’re afraid of the group and it’s opinions, maybe it’s easier and less scary to go along with what they think is expected of them. Laziness and cowardice should never be discounted as a motive for group think. Maybe Us Guys are entirely familiar with their enemy and the enemy is “Us”.