From an article (America, 1-7-08) on Blair's reception into the Catholic church:
[Blair] was careful to keep his faith well below the radar as prime minister, for fear of being seen as a “nutter," he recently told a BBC documentary. It is a grand irony that in the United States, where Church and State are separated by high constitutional walls, it is helpful for politicians to speak often of God; whereas in Britain, where the Anglican Church is “by law established” and the state is officially Christian, it is very advisable for politicians to steer well away from the subject. “We don’t do God,” Blair’s press secretary, Alistair Campbell, once famously remarked. And in his interview Blair explains what Campbell meant.
“If you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say ‘Yes, that’s fair enough’ and it is something they respond to quite naturally,” he tells the BBC. “You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you’re a nutter. They sort of [think] you maybe go off and sit in the corner and commune with the man upstairs and then come back and say, ‘Right, I’ve been told the answer and that’s it.’”
In 2001, the Bush administration used the impending recession as an excuse to cut taxes for upper-income Americans — the very group that had done so well over the preceding quarter-century. The cuts were not intended to stimulate the economy, and they did so only to a limited extent. To keep the economy going, the Federal Reserve was forced to lower interest rates to an unprecedented extent and then look the other way as America engaged in reckless lending. The economy was sustained on borrowed money and borrowed time.
The day of reckoning has come. This time we need a stimulus that stimulates. The question is, will the president and Congress put aside politics to get the job done? Read the rest here.
The NY Times ran an AP piece that featured criticism of mental health professionals who offer their diagnostic opinions of celebrities in the news. The article quotes Chicago psychoanalyst Mark Smaller who was at APsaA's annual winter meeting in New York last week:
''I've been very upset about this... This idea of making a diagnosis of someone they've never met is completely inappropriate, and it gives mental health professionals a bad name... Trying to make such a diagnosis based purely on someone's behavior -- and worse, their behavior as portrayed selectively by the media -- is scientifically impossible.''
Smaller's comments were made in reference to mental health professionals who have been quoted in magazine and tabloid press coverage of Britney Spears. People Magazine's Peter Castro offers an editor's viewpoint on the subject:
''What people need to realize is that we had sources very close to Britney -- more than one -- telling us that they believed she did indeed suffer from mental illness, and some even used the term bipolar disorder,'' says Castro. ''So it was only responsible on our part to ask a specialist in this kind of behavior. You had a woman here who was hospitalized. This is the first time we were hearing that hey, all this nutty behavior may really have something to do with mental illness, maybe bipolar disorder.''
It may be a journalist's responsibility to ask an expert's opinion before writing about a celebrity's mental health, but in response to such a request, a professional should explain that it is impossible to offer a reliable diagnosis of someone they haven't met and assessed thoroughly. (And, discussing properly conducted assessments with the press is out of line, as well).
I recognize that some therapists might be tempted by the opportunity for a little publicity or some narcissistic gratification that might come with being quoted in the press. The bottom line is, however, that we can't make these diagnoses at a distance. Doing so is unfair to any person who is the target of such a public diagnosis and it misrepresents the work we do in our professional lives. Notwithstanding Mr. Castro's sense of journalistic ethics, mental health professionals are not an arm of the gossip press and we are guided by a different set of ethical obligations that puts the welfare of patients above publicity, self-promotion, the sale of magazines and voyeuristic gratification of the general public.
(Hillary criticizes Obama for speaking positively about Republican economic ideas. Obama accuses her of misrepresenting comments he made about Reagan and goes on the attack.)
Obama: While I was working on those streets [in Chicago] watching those folks jobs shipped overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.
Hillary continues: In an editorial board with the Reno Newspaper, you said two things... I have read the transcript. You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.
Obama (interupts): Your husband did.
Hillary:Well, I'm here. He's not.
Obama:Well... I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes. (ouch)
Hillary gets her legs back quickly and hits Obama with this zinger:
I was fighting against those ["bad" Republican] ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor -- Rezko -- in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.
Hillary also pounced on Obama for voting 'present' over 100 times as an Illinois state senator. The implication was that Obama was a negligent legislator whose positions were often unclear. Obama's response to the charge was nearly lost in the ensuing commotion. He correctly answered that voting present in the Illinois Senate is a way to say that you don't accept a bill as is, but that you might support it in modified form. Obama also shot back that he voted present over 100 times, but that was out of approximately 4000 bills he voted on while he was a state legislator. Hardly an abuse of the 'present' vote.
So, it was all very lively, but was there any substance behind the personal attacks?
Some, but not much. Hillary deliberately distorted Obama's comments about Reagan and was being completely disingenuous when she said that she hadn't mentioned Reagan's name. From the get-go, she was, of course, referring to Obama's comments about Reagan during his Reno interview. And, bringing up Obama's present votes in the Illinois Senate, as if he had been a negligent legislator, was a cheap and deliberate misrepresentation of Obama's record as a state senator.
But, Hillary's Rezko remark had more meat on it than most of the Obama faithful are willing to acknowledge. Like many politicians in Illinois, Obama has had his share of shady friends and patrons. As I've said before, Obama isn't as clean as Joe Biden thinks he is.
As for Clinton's work for Wal-Mart, it's true that Hillary reaped the benefits of global capitalism and free trade, although in Hillary's case the Wal-Mart job had much to do with the benefits of being married to a very prominent politician -- something the very well-compensated Mrs. Obama knows all about.
Finally, I, too, wonder which Clinton Obama is running against. After all, it will not be Hillary, but Bill, campaigning in South Carolina for the rest of the week.
Interesting... from Marathon Pundit: "Obama's wife Michelle once served on the board of directors of TreeHouse Foods, whose biggest customer is--Wal-Mart."
I was having a party the Saturday before Christmas last month. In order to create a gay seasonal display with sprays of piney extravagance, I needed some slabs of green plastic foam from Lee’s Art Shop, up on 57th Street across from the Art Students League. It was freezing, so I bundled up and took the B train to Columbus Circle.
I earnestly browsed the store for 5 or 10 minutes before I found my slabs of foam and took them to the counter. “Could you give me a price on these and see if you have any more in stock?” I said. “I need another four.”
The girl at the register gave me a long look I couldn’t really read. “Um,” she finally said, “do you know you have a nickel on your head?” I ran my fingers across my forehead. Yup, above my right eye was Thomas Jefferson. My response was just a swallowed “Oh.”
I wear a black knit hat to protect my dome. When not in use, it’s stuffed in my coat pocket. Obviously, I’d thrown some change into my hat pocket and then pulled the hat on. The combined forces of the elastic pressure of the hat and the steamy heat of the subway contrived to make the pesky coin affix itself to my forehead. Change is bad. -- Robert V. Hansmann