Thursday, August 20

Federline 2.0

Move over Kevin, there's a new sheriff in town. Hollywood is welcoming its newest star: Levi Johnston, the political world's most famous baby daddy.

Tick tick tick

When he's not too busy giving interviews to Tyra Banks and offering his expert political analysis on that famous tabloid fluff program, the Today Show, he is squiring noted ingenue Kathy Griffin to the Teen Choice Awards.

Tick tick tick

But hey, dishing the dirt on the Palins don't pay the diaper bills. What's next for the left's newest superstar? How 'bout droppin trou for a couple thou. Or run for Alaska governor. He's open to either option.

Tick tick tick

It's certainly been a whirlwind of activity. But then, when you only have 15 minutes, you better make the most of it. I can promise you kid, you won't get another shot at it.

Anybody heard from Candice Gingrich lately?

P.S. Hey Levi, keep up the Sarah badmouthing. What with you living in a glass house, so to speak. If you're Father of the Year material, your mom is a shoe in for Grandmother of the Year.

Tuesday, August 18

Green Acres - Thx Mony!

Green acres is the place for me
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan - just give me that countryside

No, New York is where I'd rather stay
I get allergic smelling hay
I just adore a penthouse view
Darling, I love you but give me Park Avenue

The chores... The stores
Fresh air... Times Square
You are my wife
Good life
Green Acres....we are there!!

- New Tripoli, Pa Summer 2009
Pictures by Monica Respet

Sunday, August 9

Guest Post: On the Limits of Multiculturalism

My sister Melanie sent a very thoughtful response to the post below regarding the terrible crime against an eight year old girl here in Phoenix. I was very impressed by it and felt it deserved its own post. There is an update to the situation at the end. Many thanks to her for sending this:

I too was aghast at this story. While not minimizing the personal trauma of this young girl, I don't believe her ordeal was in vain. Let me offer some rays of silver lining which spring directly from the extreme nature of the attack.

First, outrage was sparked here that was felt around the world. It wasn't just a local thing. Because of the details of the crime, especially the family's alleged statement, the story was headlined across the nation and even addressed nationally. That shows we still have a moral limit to what we will accept.

Second, there are so many horrible things that happen to children daily, it is somewhat comforting to know that we can still get outraged. It is important that we never allow ourselves to get so callused that we shrug off abuse, especially of women and children. Sometimes we need to be reminded. We cared about this.

Third, it is heartening to have the President of Liberia publicly address the issue again as she has done since she came to office. She is personally aware of the stigma of rape and publicly shared her own sexual assault story. She immediately ordered the Liberian ambassador here in the US to provide whatever support was needed for this young girl. Again, the immediate, positive, and public support of the Liberian nation is comforting. The rejection of rape victims is not the “culture” of all Liberians. Liberia is actively fighting this evil.

Fourth, while my own years of dealing with the Foster Care System and Child Protective Services were not pleasant, I agree that the young girl is better off in their care. (We cared for a couple of sexual assault victims.) She will receive years of free counseling-- in a case like this, mandated by the courts. She will not only be taught that this was not her fault, but also that she is a valuable human being. She could very well emerge from this with a more positive self image than if she had been raised in her family’s culture. (I base this on the experience of our young foster child.) The family’s shunning of her could be viewed as a blessing in disguise. It was the catalyst that brought the counseling. It assures the state will be cautious about returning her to any relative (which is the state-mandated first choice.) If the family rejects her, it will be far easier to terminate parental rights and move her to a permanent home. Can you imagine if the family had not made the disgusting comment publicly? The girl would have been returned to the family and been lost in the system. She would have been ostracized and probably received no counseling at all.

Fifth, it is also a blessing in disguise that the viciousness of the crime will cause the boys in the case to get attention as well. The oldest one will be tried as an adult, and if found guilty will be labeled a sex offender for life. That protects society. The younger ones will be confronted with the error of their “culture” and hopefully reprogrammed before they do more damage. Can you imagine if these four had not come to the attention of authorities at this age? What damage might they have done as they got older?

Sixth, it is comforting that someone was willing to get involved. She heard the screams, investigated and called the police. What if she had pretended not to hear? What if she had brushed the noise off as children playing? What if she had just taken the girl to the parents instead of calling the police? This woman was a Good Samaritan, and it is comforting to know there are still decent people out there.

It is tragic that something like this would happen to a young girl. Ironically, the very heinousness of the crime may lead to blessings for her. And it lets us know there are still decent people (in Liberia, Phoenix, and across our nation) who are outraged at things that are wrong.


UPDATE: As mentioned, the oldest boy, 14, is being tried as an adult. The Maricopa County Attorney is petitioning to have the 13 year old boy also charged as an adult. The two youngest boys, 8 and 9, were arraigned last Wednesday and ordered to remain in juvenile detention.

The Liberian deputy ambassador has arrived in Phoenix to speak with the girl as well as other members of the local Liberian community, many of whom are worried about the potential backlash they may face resulting from this incident.

Thursday, August 6

Congress Gets High

In a press conference held yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat from San Francisco, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, announced that the congress had purchased three new private luxury planes. The planes will be used to transport members of congress to and from Washington and their home districts.

"We are very excited about the purchase of these new aircraft," said Ms. Pelosi. "We in congress recognize the challenges that all Americans are facing during this severe economic downturn. The American people rightly expect us to act quickly and decisively to help create jobs and put people back to work. The purchase of these luxury aircraft for use by the leaders in congress, their staff, their family, their friends, and their important contributors represents a boost to the aircraft manufacturing industry. This industry has been devastated by the recession and the drop in orders by CEOs and Big Corporations that are afraid to use private aircraft after witnessing the outrage expressed by members of congress to the heads of the three major automakers when they arrived by private jet to plead for federal bailout money. As members of congress, we are in a unique position to be able to utilize these luxury planes without fear of criticism by fellow members of congress. So it really makes sense from that standpoint."

Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California, echoed the Speaker's sentiments. "You have to understand, in this current politically charged, highly partisan environment, it is simply not feasible for members of congress to travel to their districts by commercial airlines. The GOP is deliberately packing these First Class sections with lobbyist-paid protesters pretending to be angry about health care and deficit spending. We know these protesters are fake because they wear suits and dress nicely. No, I'm serious."

The three new luxury aircraft are the beginning of a program to purchase a total of 535 private jets, one for each member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The cost of the program, estimated to be $36 billion, will be offset through matching reductions in aircraft purchases for the military."

When told about the luxury jet purchase program, Representative Charles Rangel, Democrat from New York, remarked "Well, get two. I'm not sharing with Caitlin."

Wednesday, August 5

Psychologists repudiate gay-to-straight therapy

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer David Crary, Ap National Writer – Wed Aug 5, 7:41 pm ET

NEW YORK – The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments. Instead, the APA urged therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients whose sexual orientation and religious faith conflict. In a resolution adopted on a 125-to-4 vote by the APA's governing council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called "reparative therapy" which seeks to change sexual orientation. No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.

The APA had criticized reparative therapy in the past, but a six-member task force added weight to this position by examining 83 studies on sexual orientation change conducted since 1960. Its comprehensive report was endorsed by the APA's governing council in Toronto, where the association's annual meeting is being held this weekend. The report breaks new ground in its detailed and nuanced assessment of how therapists should deal with gay clients struggling to remain loyal to a religious faith that disapproves of homosexuality. Judith Glassgold, a Highland Park, N.J., psychologist who chaired the task force, said she hoped the document could help calm the polarized debate between religious conservatives who believe in the possibility of changing sexual orientation and the many mental health professionals who reject that option.
"Both sides have to educate themselves better," Glassgold said in an interview. "The religious psychotherapists have to open up their eyes to the potential positive aspects of being gay or lesbian. Secular therapists have to recognize that some people will choose their faith over their sexuality."

In dealing with gay clients from conservative faiths, says the report, therapists should be "very cautious" about suggesting treatments aimed at altering their same-sex attractions. Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome," the report says.
"We have to challenge people to be creative," said Glassgold.
She suggested that devout clients could focus on overarching aspects of religion such as hope and forgiveness in order to transcend negative beliefs about homosexuality, and either remain part of their original faith within its limits — for example, by embracing celibacy — or find a faith that welcomes gays.

"There's no evidence to say that change therapies work, but these vulnerable people are tempted to try them, and when they don't work, they feel doubly terrified," Glassgold said. "You should be honest with people and say, 'This is not likely to change your sexual orientation, but we can help explore what options you have.'"

One of the largest organizations promoting the possibility of changing sexual orientation is Exodus International, a network of ministries whose core message is "Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." Its president, Alan Chambers, describes himself as someone who "overcame unwanted same-sex attraction." He and other evangelicals met with APA representatives after the task force formed in 2007, and he expressed satisfaction with parts of the report that emerged. "It's a positive step — simply respecting someone's faith is a huge leap in the right direction," Chambers said. "But I'd go further. Don't deny the possibility that someone's feelings might change."

An evangelical psychologist, Mark Yarhouse of Regent University, praised the APA report for urging a creative approach to gay clients' religious beliefs but — like Chambers — disagreed with its skepticism about changing sexual orientation. Yarhouse and a colleague, Professor Stanton Jones of Wheaton College, will be releasing findings at the APA meeting Friday from their six-year study of people who went through Exodus programs. More than half of 61 subjects either converted to heterosexuality or "disidentified" with homosexuality while embracing chastity, their study said.

To Jones and Yarhouse, their findings prove change is possible for some people, and on average the attempt to change will not be harmful. The APA task force took as a starting point the belief that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, not a disorder, and that it nonetheless remains stigmatized in ways that can have negative consequences.

The report said the subgroup of gays interested in changing their sexual orientation has evolved over the decades and now is comprised mostly of well-educated white men whose religion is an important part of their lives and who participate in conservative faiths that frown on homosexuality.

"Religious faith and psychology do not have to be seen as being opposed to each other," the report says, endorsing approaches "that integrate concepts from the psychology of religion and the modern psychology of sexual orientation."

Perry Halkitis, a New York University psychologist who chairs the APA committee dealing with gay and lesbian issues, praised the report for its balance. "Anyone who makes decisions based on good science will be satisfied," he said. "As a clinician, you have to deal with the whole person, and for some people, faith is a very important aspect of who they are."
The report also addressed the issue of whether adolescents should be subjected to therapy aimed at altering their sexual orientation. Any such approach should "maximize self-determination" and be undertaken only with the youth's consent, the report said.
Wayne Besen, a gay-rights activist who has sought to discredit the so-called "ex-gay" movement, welcomed the APA findings. "Ex-gay therapy is a profound travesty that has led to pointless tragedies, and we are pleased that the APA has addressed this psychological scourge," Besen said.