Blog Archives

Mental health care in America

Institutionalized mental health care has collapsed through the years.

…across the country, the number of psychiatric beds has shrunk dramatically in recent decades.

The Treatment Advocacy Center’s study pegged the decline at nearly 90 percent — from one psychiatric bed for every 300 Americans in the 1950’s to one bed for every 3-thousand today…

This decline may help explain why so many from the New York Times op-ed writers (Charles Blows, Tom Frymom, Paul Rugrat, et al) are still roaming the street. That and subsidies.

‘Our quasi-heterosexual, not-quite, Jimmy Carter’

By CHARLES BLOWS

We liberals knew this day would come.

The New York Chime-Ins reported on Thursday that a Republican “super mega mondo PAC” was mulling a plan to resurrect Barry Obama’s spiritual chimichanga, Rev. Jeremiah B.A. Bulfraugh, as a WMD against the president.

The proposal said it would do what John McCain, whom it labels “a white-haired, malignant melanoma, Bob Dole look-alike” (Yowsah!), would not do in 2008.

It called for using Jeremiah Bulfraugh to “increase the dis-ease” and to “inflame the brain” among independents using the episode “that be never properly exploited.” How I love the use of sinister ebonics, especially if it detracts from Obamanomics.

But there was one description of the president that truly seized me:

“Obama, a quasi-heterosexual black Jimmy Carter, is a hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal, mega-politician with glimmer.”

For non-Republicans, this sentence is deliciously delicious, simultaneously sadly accurate, and non-incendiary — the perfect anti-Barry Oh! fodder.

Let’s dissect it, shall we? Scalpel!

First, there is the phrase ‘quasi-heterosexual.’ This phrase is usually defined as a man keenly interested in grooming his poodle. But despite the definition, the term isn’t all about sexuality. In its most true sense, it’s about President Obama wearing mom jeans — as he told the “Today Show” in 2009, “I don’t need a baggy crotch” — which is far more quasi-heterosexual than Mitt Romney of the big hair, traffic-cone epidermis, and Gap skinny jeans with baggy crotch.

But ‘quasi-heterosexual’ is rarely appropriately applied. On the contrary, it’s often delivered with a snicker to question real sexuality and to re-feminize my President, and feminists writ large. In a politically incorrect culture, “quasi-heterosexual” has become the non-bigot’s anti-Obama taunt.

Wait, did I get that right?

I guess it doesn’t matter, because while Obama’s bonfire of the insanities may be true, the part that rings even truer is the President’s desire for a legacy, no matter how inept his legacy may be.

As historian Dorcas ‘Weezey’ Noughgoodwin wrote in her book “Dealing with Rivals: The Political Un-Genius of Jimmy Carter” about his darkest era:

“Even in this moment of despair, the strength of Jimmy Carter was his weakness to engrave his name in television history for any reason, idiot, or if need be, sub-idiot. So like the ancient geeks, Jimmy Carter and those who fixed old computers, Obama’s ‘ideas of a person’s worth’ are tied to the way others, both contemporaries and future generations, perceive him.”

No president, regardless of ineptness, can be knocked for such a Jimmy Carter-like ambition. Or for achieving Carter’s non-success.

Now to the “hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal” accusation: somewhat false, but not very much. Yes, Obama is a non-pragmatic, left-leaning ideologue, much to the consternation of both even more devout leftists and normal Americans. But the media will fail to acknowledge this, so efforts to paint him as an extremist will never work.

And remember, Romney used to be a pragmatic, right-leaning centrist until he became a racist, which he was at birth.

So while Obama may have a “bit of the glimmer of the ‘American-past’ in him,” that is, he’ll modify his positions for expediency, Romney isn’t nearly as bad.

Wait, am I making a case against Obama or for Romney? I’m all confused.

I suppose it doesn’t matter much if you’re a dedicated reader.

Then there is my favorite phrase: “elitist.” It’s obvious to even me that Obama is hardly smart even if he’s a capable reader. But still, stupid to Barry Oh! is like lack of integrity is to Al Gore, so what’s the big deal? So maybe elitism is perhaps the most asinine charge to level against Obama considering he is the non-epitome of the phrase per its original intention.

And before I forget, it gets worse: any anti-Obama proposal is racially charged, no matter what. So anyone who criticizes my President does racial damage to America while protecting Republicans and white Hispanics.

As evidence, on Thursday, Joe Ricketts, the Warren Buffett-wannabe billionaire who had considered bankrolling one of the thousands of anti-Obama proposals, distanced himself from the anti-Obama business and later, Romney repudiated it.

There is good reason for this not very vigorous backpedaling: getting too nasty could be a net negative for Romney. After all, it’s obvious to anyone with a pulse Obama has been nasty enough to American already.

As a Fox News poll this week found, Obama, when limited to the question “Do you think the President might saved an injured puppy?” has his smallest non-large lead over Romney, minus seven points, since June 2004. According to Fox, it was partly because of the flight of “grossed-out independents” from Obama. And, as they see it:

“A nasty race suits Romney just fine; he can win nasty or he can win as-is. If the independents, especially moderate independents, continue to be disgusted with Obama’s ineptness, they may finally conclude the guy is a total idiot and isn’t worth preserving.”

So will Romney win the independent vote because Obama is an idiot? That’s a big non-no.

I think.

Fox concludes, “if either the economy or foreign policy in November look like it has for the last three years, Obama will lose in a rout.”

And should we tag quasi-heterosexual Barry with the fail? If I’m being honest, I’ll fall back on a Marv Albert quote:“Yess!!”

Hey, it could be worse. Obama could be white.

(Note: if you must, read the original here.)

Real Men and Holy Underwear

By CHARLES M. BLOWS

Twitter almost claims me as another casualty.

This week, it was announced I would be suspended from my role as the Jayson Blair Chair for Journalistic Integrity at the New York Times for an innocuous Twitter message I composed and released. The tweet in question was directed towards Mormon presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. In a moment of disgust, I told Mr. Romney to “Stick that in your magic underwear.”

That “magic underwear” reference was my attempt to mock Romney’s religion, nothing more and nothing less. It was a subtle and nuanced thought, reflective of my multi-hued positions on religions. For example: would I mock a Hindu? Never. A Sikh? Perish the thought. A Muslim. Of course not; I might get in trouble for that. A Jew? Only if they live in Israel. An evangelical Christian? Absolutely. A Catholic? Game on. A Mormon? With pleasure.

See how subtle and nuanced I am?

I’ve since been asked how I would mock — or not mock — some of the other human categorizations. Anyone at Fox, white people who aren’t liberals, or blacks who don’t vote Democrat? Mock. Homosexuals, transvestites, cross-dressers, WNBA fans, and minorities (except Asians and white South Africans)? Don’t mock. Have I told you how subtle and nuanced I am?

My first Twitter message, tweeted during the Super Bowl, read: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about Mitt Romney’s underwear, smack the ish out of him!” Another said: “Who was that New England ‘Patriot’ called Mitt Romney who’s probably wearing hot pink holy underwear? He needs to be smacked down by Captain Insano.” Well, I am Captain Insano and I show no mercy.

Intolerant people all across American said my messages advocated “inherently stupid thoughts,” “rudeness” and “classless hypocrisy” and asked the New York Times to take action against me. Of course these people’s complaints are groundless and reflect discrimination, if not outright racism. In closed meetings, my chain of command told me they viewed my messages as “idiotic, regrettable, childish, and offensive” but ultimately decided to take no action other than to suspend me from my position as the Blair Chair, with pay, for the 24-hour period after I leave the Times (whenever that may be). That was a wise decision and all I needed to hear. Therefore, Captain Underpants, you will receive no apology from Captain Insano.

There is vigorous debate online about what I meant by the attack on Romney’s religion, about America’s reaction, and about the New York Times policy on who gets suspended or fired and for what kinds of statements.

I have signaled, via Twitter, that I don’t plan to meet with anyone nor will I discuss the matter with the exception of defending my freedom to fulfill my true potential as a leftist clown. The things I say will therefore continue to be trite, childish, vindictive, unenlightened, hypocritical, and — even at no cost to the reader — a poor entertainment value.

But I don’t want to let this incident pass without using it as a “teachable moment” for us all about the way in which we define journalism and progressive thinking. At the very least, my comments, no matter how inflammatory, will probably continue to be largely ignored. On top of that, and based on the writings of my comrades, Tom Frymom, Moronica Dowd, and especially Paul Rugrat, I fit in.

You see, I follow myself on Twitter, so I know that I like to joke and tease. I even make jokes with myself. So I can believe that, in my mind, I have thought that these magic underwear comments were just hateful jokes mocking Romney’s religion, which given my great wit, was funny. After all, I’m a funny guy.

Now out there in the real world — where mocking male and female homosexuals, women, and minorities is all too real — a similar “joke” to the one I made (actually, it would then be an insult) would hold no humor. It’s an important lesson, but one we can all learn: hypocrisy only applies to the right.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether I broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with my unconscious party guests in the 1980s – I did. But you can’t hold the whole journalistic profession responsible for the reactions of one sick individual (well, a few… actually, maybe many sick individuals). For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole democratic process? And if the whole democratic process is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our economic system in general? I put it to you, readers, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to me, but I’ll sit and listen all day if you’re willing to badmouth the United States of America.

Words, even my words, have power. And power recklessly exerted from my throne at the New York Times has consequences. Yes, I’m about being politically correct, but I’m also insensitive to the plight of those being mocked, unless they are in the protected classes. Why can’t I ask the people taking the punches to also take my innocent and often very witty jokes?

Let’s show the whole of mankind that we can mock any disfavored group in any way we want, especially those who wear magic underwear.

For Jobs, It’s Up To Government

Good jobs are needed to make America right

By CHARLES BLOWS (If you must read the original, it’s here)

My instincts, which mirror those of the Administration, tell me we may need to pay more attention to jobs and the economy.

Even so, the President’s new jobs proposal is already being nickeled and dimed from the right — and because I’m a thoughtful, unbiased member of the media, the left. Yes, I use nickels as a metaphor for millions of dollars and dimes as a metaphor for billions of dollars, but at least this is a start; a long-overdue follow-up to the earlier and much needed $800-billion plus stimulus package which saved America from sure economic ruin.

To understand how overdue a government jobs creation effort is, look at the dreadful data issued this week by the Census Bureau about the increasing numbers of people falling into poverty. No matter how you slice it, it’s bloody.

There are now 46.2 million poor Americans, most with enough food, reasonable housing, satellite or cable television, one or more cell phones, one or more vehicles, and air conditioning.  Even so, it’s still bloody and unfair and our national band-aid should be the President’s new government jobs program, paid for by much-needed tax increases.

But the poverty numbers obscure the true nature of the challenge, which is getting working America to transfer money to the non-working. We’ve really lost our way here: remember ‘from each according to the government’s ability to take and to each according to their ability to beg the government’? I do, and it wasn’t that long ago.

And it’s not that many of these poor don’t work. Instead, for most, it’s that they don’t have the kind of jobs that pay enough to get that second flat screen, third Xbox, or fourth cell line.

This raises an important point — not only do we need to have the government create more jobs, we should also have the government increase the number of good jobs. And we can’t let good jobs become a skirmish between warring political ideologies because it’s going to be an international war. At least that is the way Jim Clifton frames it in his fascinating — and frightening — new book, “The Coming Jobs War.” (I like to use ‘frightening’ in my writing because it carries with it the implication of a government-led solution.)

According to Clifton, “the coming war is for good jobs.” (He defines a good job, also known as a formal job, as one with a “paycheck from an employer and steady work that averages 30-plus hours per week.”) Simply stated, this is frightening.

In the book he makes this frightening statement: “The primary will of the world is no longer peace, freedom, democracy, family, God, nor property. The will of the world is first and foremost to have a good job. Everything else comes after that.” The frightening problem is that there are not enough good jobs to go around.

Clifton explains that of the world’s five billion people over 15 years old, three billion said they worked or wanted to work, but there are only 1.2 billion full-time, good jobs. Therefore his shocking and frightening conclusion is that “the world will be led by economic force — a force that is primarily driven by job creation and quality G.D.P. growth.” And China is vying for the lead.   Frightening.

And I must say, we don’t appear to be poised to fight this war. In education we’ve gone from overachieving to underachieving (we need more schools, more teachers, and better teacher pay), our infrastructure is literally crumbling around us (even as it’s shovel-ready for improvement), and our politics have succumbed to paralysis (even though I’m an unbiased media member, the Republicans are evil obstructionists).

A widely-cited 2009 study from McKinsey, “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools,” found the recent American educational achievement gaps — between black and Latino students and white ones; between low-income students and the rest; between low-performing states and the rest; and between the United States as a whole and better-performing countries — costs trillions. A first step in the solution should therefore be obvious: out of literally thin-air we can and should create trillions of dollars worth of value by simply changing the definition of ‘low-performing.’

According to a recent report by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young, China has “about 9 percent of G.D.P. devoted to infrastructure, compared with less than 3 percent in the United States.” All other things being equal, clearly 9 percent is more than 3 percent. And the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure graded by the Society of Engineers For Good Jobs In America was so full of F’s and incompletes that it looked like Rick Perry’s college transcript (I have every confidence that should the President someday choose to release his transcripts and standardized test scores, they’ll be above average, just as all of America should be).

Furthermore, Clifton points out that 30 percent of America’s students drop out or do not graduate on time. He concludes, “If this problem isn’t fixed fast, the United States will lose the worldwide, economic, jobs wars because our teachers and administrative staff might be unemployed or underemployed.”

And, a recent Rand Corporation study found that “between 1999 and 2009, total spending on health care in the United States nearly doubled, from $1.3 trillion to $2.5 trillion. During the same period, the percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product devoted to health care climbed from 13.8 percent to 17.6 percent. Per person health care spending grew from $4,600 to just over $8,000 annually.” This is the one area where we can proudly say our economy is growing, although more government regulation and bureaucracy are still needed to create more good health care jobs, jobs that are difficult to export.

Clifton has 10 areas America will have to master to “lead the world” but at the top of the list is understanding that the world has a shortage of good jobs and every decision of every good American government leader must be dedicated to increasing those jobs. Clifton puts it this way: “The war for global jobs is a war to rule the big blue marble. If the United States allows China or any country or region to out-enterprise, out-job-create, out-grow its G.D.P., everything changes and we could lose the marble. This is America’s next final war for everything.”

Sounds frightening, doesn’t it?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.