Lamenting Tenth Anniversary of Bush vs. Gore, CNN’s Toobin Mangles Media Recount Reality

November 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

From his perch at the liberal magazine The New Yorker on Tuesday, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin recycled his lament that the Bush-Gore 2000 chad fight should have lasted several more months. (Toobin's 2001 book Too Close to Call also carried Al Gore's water.) Toobin fights against the popular notion that liberals should get over 2000, for it revealed conservative judicial activism, most appalling to Toobin when "equal protection" is applied to white males, as if they're entitled to it. But Toobin simply gets it wrong in finding media recounts were not conclusive:

Bush v. Gore would resonate, in any case, because the Court prevented Florida from determining, as best it could, whether Gore or Bush really won. (Recounts of the ballots by media organizations produced ambiguous results; they suggest that Gore would have won a full statewide recount and Bush would have won the limited recount initially sought by the Gore forces.)

Wrong. As Brent Baker reminded readers in 2008, both media recounts, including a statewide recount of undervotes, concluded the Court did not decide the election:

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NewsBusters.org - Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Reality Check

November 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Courtesy of Gregg Easterbrook:

This year, the United States will spend at least $ 700 billion on defense and security. Adjusting for inflation, that's more than America has spent on defense in any year since World War II — more than during the Korean war, the Vietnam war, or the Reagan military buildup. Much of that enormous sum results from spending increases under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Since 2001, military and security expenditures have soared by 119 percent.





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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

WikiLeaks, Secrets, and Reality

November 29, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

UCLA’s Mark Kleiman, hardly a knee-jerk reactionary, on WikiLeaks:

The notion that governments should have no secrets sounds attractive until you run the game back one step: if there can’t be any secrets, then you can’t write down anything you don’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times. That’s a sure formula for making executive-branch deliberations as content-free as Congressional debates.

The choice is not between a world with secrets and a world in which all the citizens know whatever the government knows. The choice is between a world in which officials can share information and carry out reasoned debates with one another and a world in which nothing can be written down. Really, that’s a not a hard choice.

Preach it, brother.




Outside the Beltway

The Front Lines of Reality: An International Perspective on the Battle over Free Speech

November 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

by Reverend Manny and The Twilight Empire

With the FBI crackdown on peace activists rapidly buried in the election reporting, I thought it might be nice to take a longer look at just how far into the international horizon the fight for free speech goes. The United States does not always find itself on the side that supports free speech. Saudi Arabia, our oil-based bed-buddy, for example, is essentially a Stalinist religious state with little to no free press or open debate.

On the whole, the September FBI crackdowns are symbolic, and a local reminder, of an international repressive wave against transparency, criticism and rational, open dialogue. As usual, the more violent and centralized the power, the more likely they are to be intimidated by the power of open oversight — i.e. public discourse of the government’s actions by either people or independent institutions.

For example, staying in America for just a quick second, on November 20, 2010, two American journalists working for Moscow-based Russia Today were arrested for merely covering the protest of America’s assassin school, formerly known as the “School of the Americas”

New York, November 23, 2010–Two journalists from the Moscow-based broadcast outlet Russia Today were arrested on November 20 while covering a protest against the U.S. military training center formerly known as the “School of the Americas” at Fort Benning, Georgia. On-air correspondent Kaelyn Forde and cameraman Jon Conway, both of whom are U.S. citizens, were charged with unlawful assembly, demonstrating without a permit, and failing to obey police orders, according to The Associated Press. They were both held for 29 hours before each was released on a US$ 1,300 bond.

Journalists and bloggers alike are finding that free Speech, as they say, isn’t exactly free. There’s often quite a serious price to be paid.

Sometimes it means living under occupation and exposing midnight raids.

  • Israeli soldiers had entered Bil’in late last night, intending to arrest Mohammed Abu Rahmah, son of Adeeb, one of the prominent organisers of demonstrations against the Wall. Adeeb has served the past 17 months in prison on charges of ‘incitement’. Mohammed, 15, lives with his mother and six sisters, the youngest aged four. All had been asleep when the soldiers barged in. On resisting arrest Mohammed was beaten and dragged off by soldiers.
  • Haitham hurriedly made his way over to the house with his camera, only to be stopped by the soldiers, keen to keep their antics off camera. Haitham describes the soldier’s anger when they saw he was filming. “Sometimes a camera can stop violence” he told us, “but not that time”. Sensing violence he told them he worked for the Israeli Human rights groups B’Tselem, hoping they’d show some restraint. However after shouting at him to leave they hit him in the chest, which is still bruised, and struck his camera, damaging it severely.

In case you thought simply filming an arrest was too aggressive of a democratic action, did you know that sometimes you can even be arrested for trying to give Allah a Facebook page? Listen friends, Allah almighty hasn’t started his own, so maybe he is technology illiterate and needs just a little help and encouragement to get him going… I thought you “true-believers” would do anything for your unrenderable deity! And you dare call other people infidels? Are you gonna really begrudge a local barber trying to help the exalted one move into the realm of Web2.0? Apparently yes.

  • Palestinian blogger, Waleed Khalid Hasayin (pen name: Waleed Al-Husseini), a 26-year-old barber from the West Bank city of Qalqilya, has been arrested by the Palestinian authorities for creating a facebook page named “Allah”. According to blogger Marwa Rakha, the page has been reported and shut down, but Waleed has created another page. It’s worth noting that other facebook pages carrying the same name “Allah” are still active here and here:

On his blog “Nour Al Akl” or The enlightened Mind, he refuted all religious arguments – specially Islam – and he wrote long detailed posts on the fallacy of religions. In the beginning of Summer 2010, a facebook page titled “Allah” was created by an anonymous user. The creator of the page used his excellent command of the Arabic language and composed poetic stanzas that mimic Qura’anic verses. The page attracted many fans; there were those who liked the creativity of the author, those who were offended and joined to defend their religion, and those who were merely curious.

  • According to this report, an Internet cafe worker, where Waleed has been spending several hours a day, after his mother canceled his Internet connection at home, has provided the Palestinian intelligence services with a snapshots of his Facebook pages. His online activities have been monitored for few months before arresting him in the cafe on October 31, 2010. Waleed has not been charged yet. A Facebook group and a petition dedicated to his support have been created recently:

But if you happen to be one of the bloggers arrested for something ridiculous, at least be grateful that you were given any reason at all, unlike notable Saudi Blogger Fouad al-Farhan who spent 5 months in a Saudi prison without being charged with a crime.

Al-Farhan was detained in December for “violating regulations,” according to official statements that made it clear that charges against him had nothing to do with national security concerns. No charges were ever pressed or outlined. The Interior Ministry issued no statements about the release yesterday.

Al-Farhan has said in the past that he was detained for comments he had made in defense of a group of Saudi citizens who had been meeting to discuss public participation in governance and other reforms.

Sometimes just standing there with a camera, as happened to Brian Conley, will be enough to instigate a 20-hour interrogation, theft of materials and near-instant deportation.

Police arrived at his hotel room in the middle of the night, saying they were investigating alleged threats against foreigners in China. But then the questioning got intense (they repeatedly asked Conley what he was doing in Beijing and what his role was in the Tibet protests) and dragged on for nearly 22 hours, according to Conley. They confiscated his gear and his asthma inhaler—but not before some footage was distributed online (see above). He was also able to send a text message, to his pregnant wife, letting her know that he had been detained. Conley was taken to the Chong Wen detention center, given a prison uniform, and locked in a cell with nine other prisoners from around the world. He was told that he’d be held for 10 days, but after aggressive intervention by the American Embassy, he was released after six, on the final day of the Games. He was then driven to the Beijing Airport, and ordered to buy a $ 1,800 ticket on Air China to Los Angeles—even though he already had a return flight booked on a different day.

Sometimes, though, the big bully authority will promise safe passage for a rabble-rouser. Meet Hossein Derakhshan, also known as the “Iranian BlogFather.” He received one such promise from Iran… and then was summarily arrested.

Hossein Derakhshan, known as the Iranian “blogfather” for starting one of the first Persian-language blogs, has been sentenced to 19 1/2 years in prison on charges related to his writing and his visit to Israel, according to the Iranian website Mashreq News. He was also banned from joining any political or journalistic organization and fined over $ 40,000.

Derakhshan was arrested two years ago when he returned to Iran after receiving assurances from the High Council of Iranian Affairs Abroad that he would not face any penalties apart from questioning, his family has said.

The report comes on the heels of rumors that prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty on charges of espionage. If true, the Mashreq News report indicates that the charges against Derakhshan may have been downgraded from spying to “cooperation with hostile governments.” In 2006, Derakhshan blogged about traveling to Israel using his Canadian passport.

Khodor Salameh of Lebanon was given a less coded message. One day in March after midnite he was called in for 8 hours of intense interrogation followed by “suggestions” that he stop talking about politics and write exclusively about poetry.

On March 15, Lebanese blogger and journalist Khodor Salameh or“jou3an“(Hungry in Arabic) wrote a post[Ar] on his blog where he criticized the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. A few days later, he was called for an interrogation by the Lebanese security forces, where they threatened him with being prosecuted for defamation if he doesn’t change his tone, close the blog or write poetry exclusively.

The Lebanese bloggers were united, despite their opposite political opinions, and showed their support to Khodor -whether they agreed with what he said or not. Here are their reactions below:

While Lebanon has the fewest free speech limitations of any Middle-Eastern countries, the military has started cracking down on bloggers who criticize the military or executive branches of Lebanon.

By way of comparison let’s consider the case of Khaled Said an Egyptian businessman and critic of the US-sponsored Mubarak dictatorship. Police grabbed him from an internet cafe in Alexandria, tied his hands behind his back and beat him to death. Only after a virtual riot involving a Nobel Peace Prize winner broke out in the street did the Egyptian authorities realize that people weren’t about to accept their answer that Said “died after choking on a joint he swallowed when police sought to arrest him.” The truth is, this was a political execution in a long line of political executions.

This is nothing new to journalists and truth seekers everywhere. Consider this rapidfire tidbit from Amnesty International in 2008

  • Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced last week to eight years in prison on charges of espionage after a flawed trial.
  • Gambian journalist Ebrima Manneh who continues to be detained despite a court’s ruling in June 2008 that his rights had been violated by the Gambian government and should be released.
  • Sri Lankan writer J.S. Tissainayagam who was imprisoned in 2008 for writing two articles that criticized the government’s military offensive against the opposition group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Unfortunately for us, this type of stuff keeps happening under regimes we support (often-times for the resources).

Police intimidation is apparently one of the last few American Exports. Hey, I’m not saying we invented it… we’re just the number one supplier at the moment.

One Love, One Beautiful Struggle,
–Reverend Manny of the Human Tribe.

©2010 BlueBloggin. All Rights Reserved.

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BlueBloggin

ON REALITY AND ITS ALTERNATES – BY DR. LAWRENCE DAVIDSON

November 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

by: Dr. Lawrence Davidson

For those who pay attention to the battle of ideas that constantly goes on in the United States, two people presently have center stage. One is a man whose expertise is in the creation of alternate realities by playing fast and loose with the facts. This sort of enterprise has a long and sordid history to it, and while this fellow is on the rabid right, the tradition has its historical representatives across the political spectrum. There is never any lack of an audience for such promoters of alternate realities. Usually the size of the audience can be correlated to economic downturn, the defeat in war, and popular notions of government incompetency. The other man is a champion of the free flow of information. He believes that the only way citizens will avoid being swept into alternate realities, and victimized by the resulting ill conceived government actions, is to have full knowledge of what policies are being pursued and their real consequences. Whether most people actually want to know these details is debatable, but this fellow is adamant that they should be available to anyone who cares to look. Now we come to the question of who these men are and how they are perceived by the democratic government and “free” people of the United States.

Who is Glenn Beck?

Glenn Beck, our first personality, is an undereducated radio and TV personality turned political pundit. He was born in 1964 and has only a high school education. By his own admission Beck spent at least fifteen of his early adult years as an alcoholic and drug addict. He became suicidal in the mid 1990s and fantasied imitating the manner of death chosen by the singer Kurt Cobain. He was pulled back from the brink with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. Fifteen years is a long time to baste a young adult’s brain in mind altering substances, and I will leave it to the reader to decide if that history qualifies such a brain for political preaching. Yet, it is as a political wise man that millions of Americans now regard Glenn Beck.

Sporting a style of aggressive jargon that makes him a sure candidate for Eric Hoffer’s “man of words with a grievance,” Beck throws out accusations and suppositions which, with uncanny regularity, turn out to be wrong. However, that does not matter, for his listeners seem never to doubt him and so there is little motivation for Beck to doubt himself. Increasingly popular, his growing number of listeners accept him as a defender of the U.S. Constitution and traditional American values. And from whom is he defending these things? From progressives and liberals, socialists and secularists and all those who would destroy that mythical ideal America that exists as an alternate reality in the minds of Beck and his followers. He characterizes all such enemies as members of “Crime Inc.”

There is a strong naive simplicity in what Beck preaches. He espouses balanced budgets because “debt creates unhealthy relationships.” Somehow Glenn Beck can hold mortgages and still remain on good terms with his wife and kids, but it seems to him sinful that the government sells more treasury bills than he feels is necessary. The government should be reduced to a minimum. As to the country’s needy, that can be taken care of by private charity. If there is indeed such a thing as man made global warming, that can be dealt with by the voluntary “greening” of personal homes. What we have here is the projection of small town ways to a country of approximately 350 million. Finally, Beck often makes demonstratively stupid antisemitic statements which he says cannot be antisemitic because everyone knows he is a friend of the Jews.

There have been times when Beck has confessed that he is not a political person but rather an “entertainer.” Yet his denunciation of ubiquitous conspiracies, particularly of a leftist kind, and his regularly articulated rhetorical question, “What’s the difference between a communist or socialist and a progressive….? One requires a gun and the other eats away slowly” is clearly not just show biz. And, what are we to make of the entertainment value of his repeated proclamation that Americans are in a battle to defend the “eternal principles of God” which makes “God the answer” to all our problems? No, whether Beck was originally playing at his “paleo-conservatism” or not, he is now so adapted to his role that what you see is what is there. The actor has been permanently transformed into the character he plays.

It is doubtful whether Glenn Beck has ever put forth a well thought out, fact-checked, position in his life. Yet such a failing has not prevented him from obtaining the backing of the powerful Fox Broadcasting Company. Beck and Fox are a very good fit. Both are part of a radical right which has now made itself appear acceptably all-American by redefining anything to the left of their positions as neo-socialist. And, they have drawn to themselves the millions of folks who are naive and simple conservatives living in a faux reality that defines the welfare state as communism and President Obama as a Muslim agent seeking to impose Sharia law on places like Oklahoma. For such folks Beck’s nonsense somehow confirms all their hopes and fears. In their millions they are moved, weekly, to agree with whatever it is that they think he is saying.

The U.S. government has made no objection to the Fox-Beck propaganda show. Both are, of course, protected by the first amendment. And, it is probably the case that at least some of the elements of elected government, for instance the Republican party’s right wing majority and the Blue Dog democrats, are in agreement with all or part of Beck’s message. The rest of the government, the liberal democrats for instance, seem frustrated and confused. They do not know how to respond to someone like Beck and so they hope that he will, in the end, prove a temporary phenomenon.

Who is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange , our second personality, is an Australian born internet expert. Born in 1971, he attended the University of Melbourne where he studied physics, mathematics and philosophy. However, he did not stay to complete a degree. He made an early career as a computer programmer and is the author of both free and commercial pieces of software. A strong anarchistic strain runs through Assange’s early adult period. He was a member of a number of relatively benign hacker organizations and the ideal of information transparency seems to have been a strong driving force in his life from early on. All of which eventually led him to found Wikileaks in 2006. It is Assange’s contention that government secrecy almost always harms people and denies them the ability to make rational decisions. The press has the responsibility to fight against censorship but has been seduced into cooperating with the system it ought to be policing. “How is it,” Assange asks, “that a team of five people has managed to release to the public more suppressed information…than the rest of the world press combined? It’s disgraceful.”

There are those who see Assange as an “internet freedom fighter” and Daniel Ellsberg of The Pentagon Papers fame, has asserted that Assange “is serving [American] democracy and serving the rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.” But that is not how American and foreign intelligence agencies see Julian Assange. Secrecy is part of their reason for being and without it they are out of a job. To them he is a real threat. They have accused him of harming national security and putting in danger the agents that feed them their secret information. They offer no proof of any of this and fail to mention that the information they receive from these agents is often used to kill other people. Assange has described a line by line review procedure used to protect “innocent parties who are under reasonable threat” but government spokesmen disparaged this claim and just repeat their charges against him in robotic fashion.

The U.S. government is clearly seeking the destruction of both Julian Assange and Wikileaks. For instance, in August 2010 allegations of rape and sexual harassment were made against Assange in Sweden. They were dismissed within 24 hours because the prosecutors found that “the accusations lacked substance.” On 20 November 2010 an Intepol arrest warrant was issued for Assange stemming from these same charges. Assange and his supporters say that he is being framed. Given the record of those who are his enemies, this assertion is quite easy to believe.

Julian Assange has won several awards for battling censorship and upholding the public’s right to know. He has appeared on a number of media venues both in the U.S. and elsewhere. The British magazine The New Statesman included him in its list of the 50 most influential figures in 2010 and, it is reported, that he is in the running for Time Magazine’s 2010 man of the year. Nonetheless, Assange’s loyal following is minuscule and if he becomes better known to the public at large it is likely to be a function of the smear campaign now being waged by the intelligence agencies. Their expertise in such covert operations is beyond question.

Beck vs. Assange and What it all Means

Glenn Beck and Julian Assange represent two options for the American state of mind. Beck is a charlatan who preaches an alternate reality that affirms the untested, ahistorical and prejudicial assumptions and feelings of millions of Americans. These are voting citizens who know little of what lies beyond their neighborhoods, but know absolutely how they feel. Beck tells them that their feelings really do correspond to the state of the world and so they avidly, loyally, listen to him. We all like to be told that we are right. That makes Glenn Beck a source of ego-reenforcement for a significant segment of the population. Julian Assange is a real truth teller who shatters assumptions, calls into question feelings, and would force us all to look at the historically objective information that best represents how things are. What Assange is doing makes no one comfortable and reinforces nobody’s ego. He stands up and speaks truth to power but, as Noam Chomsky once pointed out, power already knows the truth. If power bothers about the truth at all it is to keep it largely secret. To do so it seeks the real truth teller’s destruction while leaving the charlatan free to play the Pied Piper with impunity.

This does not bode well for the future of America and perhaps the West at large. Too many Americans, and their leaders as well, haven’t got an accurate sense of the real world. In part, that is why the U.S. government regularly formulates domestic and foreign policies that answer the demands of interest groups while harming the rest of us. Such policies fail in the long run. In doing so they open political space for both charlatans and truth tellers. And here they are in the persons of Glenn Beck and Julian Assange. Now America can choose.

Lawrence Davidson
Department of History
West Chester University
West Chester, Pa 19383
USA
——-

Dr. Lawrence  Davidson has done extensive research and published in the areas of American perceptions of the Middle East, and Islamic Fundamentalism. His two latest publications are Islamic Fundamentalism (Greenwood Press, 1998) and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood  (University Press of Florida, 2001). He has published thirteen articles on various aspects of American perceptions of the Middle East. Dr. Davidson holds a BA from Rutgers, an MA from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Alberta.


Intifada Palestine

Good Grief, Far Left Animal Rights Group Attacks Sarah Palin for Clubbing Fish on TLC Reality Show … Called It a “Snuff Video”

November 25, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Good Grief Charlie Brown, you just can’t make this whacked up stuff out from the LEFT.

The far LEFT anaimals right group,  In Defense Of Animals, called the images on Sarah Palin’s reality TV show a “snuff video“. WHAT! More PDS, Palin Deranngement Syndrome, from the LEFT. What would these fools suggest, a lethal injection? Maybe that would sooth the lunacy of these moonbats. Is this news to the loony LEFT, we kill the food we eat.

After catching a fish, Sarah is seen beating it with a club and Bristol later holds its still-beating heart in her hand, a sight Sarah called ‘weird’.

A spokesperson for animal rights group In Defense Of Animals told TMZ: ‘Sarah Palin’s complete lack of compassion as demonstrated in this snuff video is disgusting.’

The group adds: ‘Most disturbing is the way she seems to enjoy causing suffering to other beings. When they laugh about the beating heart that Bristol holds in her hand, their complete insensitivity to the animal kingdom becomes clear.

However, a spokesperson for the Alaska Charter Association stated that the clubbing technique is humane because it supposedly minimises suffering. In fact, halibut clubbing is actually a standard practice among fishermen. It’s a standard practice; however, when Sarah Palin is seen doing it, the moonbat LEFT wants to try her for war crimes.

This is yet another example of how the LEFT completely loses their collective minds when it comes to Sarah Palin. I guess phony Democrat photo-ops of politicians hunting and fishing are more to their liking. The double standard of the LEFT is pathetic. If Obama ever did something like this the MSM and the LEFT would be praising Barack as an alpha male and praising his gravitas.

As stated by the Gateway Pundit, “personally, any woman who beats fish in the head on national TV has my vote.
We need more conservative women with raw courage like this in politics today”. Agreed!

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Scared Monkeys

Reality Check

November 25, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Something I find incredibly puzzling is the strange determination many progressive have to diagnose what the “problem” is with Democrats that makes them so “bad” at electoral politics. They actually seem to me to be fine. Look at the 30 year span from 1980 to 2010. The Democratic candidate won the popular vote in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2008 (4 times) whereas the Republican candidate won in 1980, 1984, 1988, and 2004. It’s true that in the real world the poor ballot design in Palm Beach County, the Supreme Court, and the Electoral College put George W Bush in the White House but none of that is the fault of Democratic Party messaging tactics.

Democrats controlled the House for 18 out of those 30 years, and controlled the Senate for 14 out of 30 years. In the new year, they’ll control two out of the three branches of government. None of that sounds to me like a political party that’s having trouble persuading people to vote for it.

What’s more, you need some kind of baseline against which to judge this. Over the 60 year lifespan of the Federal Republic of Germany, Social Democrats have run the government for 20 years. Over the 50 year life of the 5th Republic in France, the Socialist Party has held the presidency for 14 years. The basic idea of a center-right party is that it represents a coalition of the business establishment with the socio-cultural mainstream. That tends to give you a dominant position in politics.


Yglesias

The Reality of 24/7 Home Care of a Loved One With Alzheimer’s: The Family Caregivers who are front line soldiers doing all the work, are seen by government as only ‘informal support…’

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

During this holiday, we can be thankful for those who labor 24/7 to care for our elderly and our broken mind ones. This is a Guest Contributor on The Reality of 24/7 Home Care of a Loved One With Alzheimer’s: The Family Caregivers who are front line soldiers doing all the work, are seen by government as only ‘informal support…’

by Carol Wright
Far from the purple banners of the recent “Alzheimer’s awareness” events sit an estimated 6.6 million family caregivers for an estimated 5.5 Alzheimer’s sufferers (nobody really knows the exact figures for either group.) Compare that with 300 million people in the US total +/-. It’s a lot of disabled people, a lot of caregivers who cannot work outside the home while caregiving in the home.

Some of these caregivers include supportive extended family, but all too many caregivers are toiling alone and unpaid, caring for a frail senior suffering from dementia. This often means, an aging woman caring for her elderly parents, a senior spouse struggling to keep their loved one home, out of the nursing home just one more month.

The recent “Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s,” emphasizes that it’s the women who overwhelmingly take on caregiving duties.

But some light should fall in the corners too: More than a few families have forsaken their own. Often just a single brave, compassionate soul steps forward for that end of life walk with the afflicted one. Their other relatives, their own children, their own sisters, brothers, former friends, even spouses, turn away or come around only once in a very long while for a very few minutes.

“Informal support.” This is what we 24/7 caregivers are most recently called by government and parroted by media, we who tend to our loved ones day in and day out.

“Informal.” Inferring not serious work, when in fact each day caring at home for an Alzheimer’s patient is deadly serious work of lifting, hauling, hefting, guiding, feeding, issues of urine, feces, medicine, cooking, cleaning, bathing, laundry and so much more.

Sole caregivers are especially brutalized by this burden, and they catch the flack, the very bulldozing brunt impact of frontline dementia care. The hours can be 24 on and zero off. Days are seven on and on and on.

Perhaps a neighbor comes for a few hours to seniorsit so the caregiver can get a break that is not a break. It’s scramble to shop for groceries, medicines. To rake up the leaves so the grass doesn’t die. Take dying cat to the vet and have put to sleep. Get back before patience of friend wears thin, or person with dementia gets out of control. Hope for no sudden feces situation, or friend will not return again.

“Informal support.” Caregiverscannot snag a full night’s sleep. Often their charges are up half the night, pulling out drawers and emptying on the floor. There is assistance needed always with trips to the commode and changing protective pads on the bed. Start first load of laundry for the day at 3 am. In our house, my mother wakes up screaming about something “out there…out THERE!…oh gawd gawd!” Last night it was a fire she saw, which was really a shiny birthday hat. I spent hours extinguishing a birthday hat, reassuring my mother, and even after removing such and other items from environs, my mother continues to no longer be able to tell the real from the imagined.

“Informal support.” Communicating with someone who has dementia is often like herding cats, and one has to, in order to help with the most simple actions, give repetitive instructions for every phase of aid. “Put foot through here, no through …. the pant leg…this here. Put your foot through here. Your FOOT. Point your TOE, now foot…”

“Informal support.” Often the day comes when the outbursts need more meds (some will say). This happened to my mother. She had unexplained nausea after a fall, and I took her for many tests in the ER. No answers, and not better. Finally a four-day stay in the hospital. She had a few delusional/puzzled episodes while there, and she pushed away prodding, hurtful hands. She was labeled “combative; they said, We’ll try Seroquel.”

Two months later, my mother slumped to the side her chair so much I had to tie her in to keep her from falling. I stood guard so she wouldn’t be hurt while she thrashed in bed, now padded everywhere. Sometimes she stiffened, slid from her chair like a 2×6 board. Now on the floor, face contorted, tongue choking, eyes rolling.

I see a Seroquel TV ad with voice-over droning “Not for use by elderly dementia patients.” I see Mom writhing on floor. Is this advancing Alzheimer’s demanding a larger dose or ?? Who will tell us? I plead. Doctors don’t know. Or different docs give different answers. I research online. So many of the bad side effects -she has them! Her doctors have made my mother straightjacket insane. We stop the Seroquel, but Mom is switched then to Ativan to stop paranoia. The Ativan leads to chilling paranoia as Mom channels cold eyes up from the DeadZone.

“Informal support.” Each family caregiver is front line to strong daily challenges like these, often complicated by illnesses anyone might come down with. Deafness and dementia. Leukemia and diabetes…and dementia. Colon cancer…and dementia. Congested nasal passages and dementia.
“Informal support.” Caregivers carry the brunt of the work at great personal sacrifice on every level, their health and dental go downhill, they are not able to earn income, a certain amount of sanity that one has charge of one’s own life goes out the window. A social life; there is none. An eroded future occurs because a dedicated caregiver has no idea when this vigil might draw to a close, and can only plan to remain in situ.

For caregivers, there is little outside direct assistance available. We’re not even in the system noted as having a need. No cash grants, no benefits, no medical or dental coverage for us in any quarter; there are no unemployment checks. Some benefits overshoot the caregiver; the patient is qualified (vets qualify for some home caregiving hours) but payments go to licensed caregivers only, not to family members. Government sees the home caregiver as a resource until worn out, then tossed aside when parent dies or is placed in a nursing home. The governments, state, local, federal…the corporations… call it “informal support.”
I cannot quite tell you what it is like to be surrounded on almost all sides by government ‘officials,’ people who say do this or that with what meagher resources are left to us, medical personnel of many different and often opposing ideas, deadbeat relatives, drug companies… too often many wear a smug face of impunity. Something goes wrong, say a bad drug reaction, or financial abuse by a government employee who is supposed to have squeaky clean and timely oversight… it is only the sole caregiver who is cornered, totally responsible for others’ errors, lateness, underperformance. It’s the caretaker who has to scrounge, beg, step up threadbare. Everyone else walks free.

The Shriver Report and Alzheimer’s Association step up their action plans. I poked around the Alzheimer’s Association website to see if there was a hint of direct aid to family caregivers. In the report at http://www.alz.org/documents/national/World_Alzheimer_Report_2010_Summary%281%29.pdf
I read the summary report and recommendations. There I could finally see myself. Twice was I, the unpaid family caregiver, mentioned as “informal support.” Unpaid family caregiver. Excuse me, INFORMAL?? Recommendations to help us, even informally? There was nothing written to help us. Nothing. Big report, but nothing’s changed. Things are stable and predictable according to report writers. No support will be given to ‘informal support’ that is, human beings who nearly single-handedly are giving all they’ve got, now, again or it seems ever.
I wondered: Was this moniker “informal support” commonly used in studies, theses, and legislation. I Googled the term, and found this to be true. Basically, it means our caregiving is a “contribution.” Not a life and death necessity to keep a loved one as safe as possible, clean and fed and helped in whatever way we can… and without leave.
And as Maria Shriver points out in “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s,” three-fifths of the US caregivers are women. “The truth is,” she writes, “it’s women who are the ones who generally do the hands-on grunt work of caregiving—cleaning their parents or spouses and changing their diapers, feeding them, babysitting them, dispensing medicine to them. While men do represent about a third of family caregivers, they tend to arrange or supervise outside services.”

http://www.shriverreport.com/shriver.html

The time is now for direct support for the family caregiver.
Researching the cause and treatments for Alzheimer’s or other diseases tends to draw the most attention and official funding.
But please, it is now time to actively support the real FORMAL caregivers on the front lines of eldercare, the family caregiver. Caregivers need assistance with respite care (typically the only aid offered), and though there is now some protection for caregivers to some day, perhaps, return to a job they may have left to take on caregiving duties… that assumes a short duration and no pay throughout. But, Alzheimers disease, is not a killer like cancer per se. It is a disorder that makes a person eventually as helpless to care for themselves as a new born infant, though often combative as well but with the body of an adult. And a person with dementia and no other illness can live to be in their nineties, as my mother is presently, and beyond.
What about people like me with so far over eight years sacrificed of sole caregiving? We need help with medical and dental, and with reentry into the work force.
I suggest a few simple approaches to help the formal family caregiver continue in their important duties and caregiving. One idea is to give the family caregiver payments in a “like amount” in a kind of disability pay. If their loved one is fully disabled from dementia, then the caregiver is also “disabled from being able to earn a living”—which is so true—anyone who has ever cared for a person with dementia, in home, knows one has to stop even a home business, for the loved one needs constant aid and supervision.
Another solution is to make the family caregiver eligible for welfare, full Medicare and Social Security benefits while care giving. If the caregiver returns to the workforce, then benefits are stopped until normally eligible at x age. This kind of approach does not add a whole layer of bureaucracy, no new programs; it just extends eligibility to a new level, to a new recipient.
But, how to replace the phrase “informal support” that so covers over the often desperate reality? I note a visible name change in the daily news is the change from “illegal alien” to “undocumented immigrant.” However, the immigrant issue is always hot news, where family caregiver headlines (until last month’s of Maria Shriver’s media appearances) are nonexistent. The term “Informal support” generally shows up in studies, scholarly theses, and reports; and these reports and studies are often the basis for legislation and grant requests, and carry the profound bias of naming THE essential caregiver as some seeming ‘nice but not necessary’ support. But what an impact this diminuizing term has had on the real front line for PFCG? That’s me, primary female caregiver.)
My next article will deal with what is called the Beers Criteria, a list of medications and protocols for weaning elderly patients off some of their prescription drugs. This drug free approach has resulted in a dramatic improvement in my mother’s mental and physical condition for periods of time. Three months ago, she was slumped over and headed for hospice. Most recently, she is attentively watching a DVD about a Cuban jazz musician while reading “National Enquirer.” This past week, we had to go to the ER, however. It is as they say, a roller coaster ride, of needs and aid to the one who has Alzheimers. It does not have an ending point.
_____________
Guest columnist Carol Wright was 54 when she left her home where she’d lived for the past eighteen years, to travel across three states to care for her mother in her final few months of life. That was 8.5 years ago. Carol has been primary, sole caregiver for her mother all this time, and has had some respite caregiver assistance only for the past year. She recently was honored as Caregiver of the Month by the Caregiver’s Voice here.

You can read and see more about her caregiving experience at her blogs here and here, and at and at YouTube

The Shriver Report’s book, written with the Alzheimer’s Association, is titled “A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s”; it is available in ebook format for $ 9.99. You can read excerpts here.
Government report from 1998 showing expectation that women shoulder the burden and take on the sacrifices of eldercare, and that their growing preference to stay in the workplace will rock the boat. Basically, the government assumes women will/should contribute this service, and their choice to now stay at their careers is a troublesome trend. Read more here.
There are a few programs to help pay family caregivers, and resources will vary from state to state. Read this article from the Alzheimer’s Association website.


The Moderate Voice

Velma’s New Reality

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Woman who confronted Obama at townhall meeting loses her job.
American Thinker Blog

Cantor’s Claim About The ‘Reality’ Of Social Security Has No Basis In Reality

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Two weeks ago, the co-chairs of President Obama’s debt commission released a report proposing, among many other things, raising the Social Security retirement age. According to the co-chairs, such a move is necessary to ensure Social Security’s continuation as a program. “As you all know, Social Security runs out of money in 2037. We’re not making it up. That’s the law,” said co-chair Erskine Bowles.

This sort of rhetoric has been repeated by members of both parties, with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) saying “We’re going to have to raise the retirement age slowly, in a slow way that doesn’t affect folks 50, 55. But this is just math. We’ve got to do some of these things.” In an interview published today in the Wall Street Journal, the next House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), agreed:

THOMSON: Are you in favor of increasing the retirement age over the short to medium term?

CANTOR: I think the discussion has to be: There is a difference between those nearing retirement and those who are seniors right now. And those who are younger are not going to see the benefits that seniors today are just by virtue of application of the statute. The formula is such that benefits will be reduced. So if we do not do something to extend retirement age, if we do not do something formulaically in terms of the top end or the top tier of income earners, you’re not going to have this program. You’re just not going to have it. That’s reality.

The “reality” espoused by Cantor and the others actually has no basis in reality. If nothing — nothing! — is done to Social Security, it will pay full benefits until the year 2037. After that, the program is still projected to pay out 75 percent of benefits until 2084, which is close to full benefits once inflation is accounted for. There are certainly progressive changes that could be made to further guarantee Social Security’s solvency, but Cantor’s house-on-fire rhetoric is simply inaccurate.

Plus, of all the policy steps available to Social Security reformers, raising the retirement age is the most regressive, and is pushed due to a faulty understanding of America’s increasing life expectancy. Average life expectancy has been rising, but largely as a result of increases among upper income earners. Middle- and low-income workers have not seen the same increases. As the Center for Economic and Policy Research put it, “there has been a sharp rise in inequality in life expectancy by income over the last three decades that mirrors the growth in inequality in income.”

As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman asked, “you’re going to tell janitors to work until they’re 70 because lawyers are living longer than ever?” For Cantor, the answer is clearly yes.

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