Sunday Reads: Other Things


Good Morning

Just some links to get us started this morning, I am sure that there will be more information about the mass murders in Newtown, Connecticut. Check the comment section below for updates.

I have to share these two links with you however, first is this one…from Susie Madrak…thank you for posting this link Susie! We need to talk about mental illness. 

‘I am Adam Lanza’s mother’ | Suburban Guerrilla

This is also very sad. And infuriating. Hey, let’s cut some more mental health funding!

Friday’s horrific national tragedy—the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut—has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.


I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

Please read that post and share it!

Then there is this shit: Westboro Baptist Church Members Say They Will Protest In Sandy Hook

It is 3:33am, and I lay in bed…unable to breathe. I thought if I added these two stories to my post I could somehow fall asleep. I am sick with all this, it is horrifying…. Please…make it stop.

Now for some stories that caught my eye this past week.

Glenn Greenwald looks at HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system

The US is the world’s largest prison state, imprisoning more of its citizens than any nation on earth, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. It imprisons people for longer periods of time, more mercilessly, and for more trivial transgressions than any nation in the west. This sprawling penal state has been constructed over decades, by both political parties, and it punishes the poor and racial minorities at overwhelmingly disproportionate rates.

Lanny Breuer, HSBC

Assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer said taking away HSBC’s US banking licence could have cost thousands of jobs. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

But not everyone is subjected to that system of penal harshness. It all changes radically when the nation’s most powerful actors are caught breaking the law. With few exceptions, they are gifted not merely with leniency, but full-scale immunity from criminal punishment. Thus have the most egregious crimes of the last decade been fully shielded from prosecution when committed by those with the greatest political and economic power: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, spying on Americans’ communications without the warrants required by criminal law by government agencies and the telecom industry, an aggressive war launched on false pretenses, and massive, systemic financial fraud in the banking and credit industry that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

This is ridiculous, more at the link, in fact Greenwald has updated the post since it originally was published on 12/12/12.

From ProPublica, a report on the US water supply.  Poisoning the Well: How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation’s Underground Water Supply

Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation’s drinking water.

In many cases, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted these so-called aquifer exemptions in Western states now stricken by drought and increasingly desperate for water.

EPA records show that portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers have been written off because exemptions have allowed them to be used as dumping grounds.

“You are sacrificing these aquifers,” said Mark Williams, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado and a member of a National Science Foundation team studying the effects of energy development on the environment. “By definition, you are putting pollution into them. … If you are looking 50 to 100 years down the road, this is not a good way to go.”

As part of an investigation into the threat to water supplies from underground injection of waste, ProPublica set out to identify which aquifers have been polluted.

That is just the beginning, go read the rest when you have time.

Okay, we’ve had links to outrages regarding the Fed and DoJ, and the EPA. Now on to the latest news about Obamacare…and Walmart.  Walmart Workers At Risk In States Rejecting Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

If state governors follow through on plans to oppose the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, one substantial group of low-wage workers appears vulnerable to going without medical coverage: people who work at Walmart.

The world’s largest retailer recently outlined a new policy that will exclude from health coverage newly hired employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week, as The Huffington Post reported this month. Experts described that move as an attempt by Walmart to shift the burden of providing health coverage to the government — specifically, to Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor.

Isn’t it wonderful? /snark.

I’ve got another article to share with you, this time it is on various Federal District Courts: Help Wanted On The Federal Bench – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

Robert Kuttner points out that there “are now more than 100 vacancies on the federal bench, out of some 856 federal district and appellate judges, far more than on the day Obama took office”

Y’all know what this means. Why are there so many vacancies left open by the Obama Administration?

The rest of today’s links are listed below…

Tattoos Illustrate Art of Saving Lives- Voice of America

Prince is still king, say Hot Chip | Music | The Guardian

Democratic Congressman Delivers Lengthy Apology For Using The Word ‘Midget’ On House Floor | Mediaite ( I include this link for obvious reasons.)

Finally, later in the week, TCM will be showing one of the best movies of film noir, Double Indemnity staring Babara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, and directed by Billy Wilder. So in connection to this film, check out the two videos below. From the Carol Burnette Show:

Double Calamity

See you all in the comments later on today.

55 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Other Things”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    It’s impossible to watch the coverage of this tragedy. The devastation is overwhelming.

    But worse are those who “blame” the absence of “god” as the reason that this travesty has occurred. Where exactly was this “Supreme Being” when this distrubed shooter broke into a school and murdered 26 human beings, 20 of them as young as 6 years of age?

    If anyone is following that insane logic than one must ask how a “loving entity” would have ever allowed this to happen in the first place. What kind of a “god” would turn his back on innocents out of a fit of pique that he was not being “worshipped” correctly? What kind of “god” demands this form of retribution in the first place?

    We are “Number One” throughout the world in gun violence. We bomb, torture, maim, and destroy and some maintain this is “god’s will” that supports this twisted theory. There are those who would “go to the mat” to protect the right to own firearms but would do the same to withhold healthcare access with the same ferocity. This is a senseless argument.

    Yet buried beneath today’s headlines in Connecticut is another foiled plot that was to be executed by a young man in another state who was about to unleash the same terror on his classmates along with someone who entered a hospital with the same thing in mind.

    This is the culture we live in today as Americans. Held hostage by lawmakers who saw fit to lift the ban on automatic weapons that has made it easier to obtain for those whose emotional well being puts us further at risk.

    No one is safe. No place is safe. And those suggesting that these events are because of some “jealous god who is not given his due” is as insane as any of these crazies who arm themselves and seek to destroy.

    We seem to have lost any sense of proportion in our failure to understand that these weapons are available for over the counter sales for those whose mission is to enact violence.

    • HT says:

      So true Pat. Sadly, the few people who are members of the Westboro cult are just as mentally ill as those who are proclaiming that the absence of the proper worship of “their” god caused this to happen. If “their” god was so all seeing, all knowing, omnipotent and benevolent to boot, then why would “he” allow the annihilation of people who were “his” followers as all of those murdered were.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    I am tired of listening to the babble that says “god works in mysterious ways”. What are we talking about here?

    That “god” felt the need to watch the slaughter of innocent children in order to make a point? What a senseless and useless statement coming from anyone with an ounce of common sense.

    Digging further into these stupid rationalizations one has to question why “god”, who supposedly sees and hears all, would then “create” a human being who in time would be capable of such atrocities in the first place.

    Is this supposed to soothe us? Lull us into a sense of acceptance that this is just another example of “god’s will”? Killing 20 babies along with 7 adults just to get our attention? This is insane.

    Though she is as much of a victim as the others in that she lost her life as well, why would this mother find it acceptable to stock her home with automatic weapons and fast moving bullets when her son was considered a “little off”? Five of these weapons so far were have been legally purchased in her name and he was able to access them without a problem.

    I am sure she never contemplated the outcome of these purchases but we don’t let children play with matches or get near a hot stove so the question of owning these weapons of mass destruction in a home where her child was considered “different” would also be seen as a unwise move.

    We may never fully know what drove this troubled soul to commit these crimes but it is the easy access to these weapons that is the driving force behind these events.

  3. roofingbird says:

    In reading the Suburban Guerrilla link, it struck me how there were similar chords to battered women’s syndrome. There is a reluctance to admit or foresee possibly predictable increased violence, the caregivers belief that he/she can control the situation for too long, thereby reducing the violators need to be responsible, a refusal to press charges and send the violator into the accountability system, such as it is, and constant vigilance and self monitoring on the part of the caregiver to avoid confrontation.

  4. RalphB says:

    Obama had better support this legislation.

    Democratic Senator Will Introduce New Assault Weapons Ban In January

    WASHINGTON — Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein said Sunday that she will introduce a new ban on assault weapons when the new Congress convenes next year, and she expects President Barack Obama to support it.

    Appearing on Meet The Press in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 on Friday, Feinstein, who sponsored the first federal ban on assault weapons which expired in 2004, said she is ready to push to reinstate it.

    “It’s being done with care, it will be ready on the first day, I’ll be announcing House authors, and we’ll be prepared to go — and I hope the nation will be prepared to help,” she said.

    Asked whether Obama will speak out in favor of it, Feinstein said, “I believe he will.”

  5. RalphB says:

    SNL’s Cold Open Commemorates Shooting Victims (VIDEO)

    Rather than begin with a joke, “Saturday Night Live” paid tribute to the victims of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Saturday with a somber cold open. The show began with the New York City Children’s Chorus singing Silent Night. The children then delivered the line, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night.”

    Like almost everything else since Friday, this brought me to tears.

  6. roofingbird says:

    I wasn’t sure so I had to look it up. SPLC says: “Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.”

  7. dakinikat says:

    Maybe when BB gets home she can explain to me why it is that there’s this contingent of angry white men that just can’t get angry and kill themselves instead getting angry and massacring women and children and getting the police to off them.

    Ind. man with 47 guns arrested after school threat

    CEDAR LAKE, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana man who allegedly threatened to “kill as many people as he could” at an elementary school near his home was arrested by officers who later found 47 guns and ammunition hidden throughout his home.

    This dude had $100,000 of ammunition in his house. What makes these paranoid, angry, antisocial gun nuts any way? And, do our politicians and the NRA really have to enable them?

    • hyperjoy says:

      I am of the opinion that male entitlement plays a big role in most of these shootings. That is, the belief that something that the gunman was “entitled” to was not granted him. In this culture male entitlement is a monster and often out of control. Most men don’t go to the extent of mass killing people just because they didn’t get what they want, but with a large population, there are always going to be cases of those who do. Hope I don’t chap anyone’s hide too badly with this opinion.

      • dakinikat says:

        I don’t think you’ll chap any one’s hide with that comment. It sounds very logical because on some level, these things feel like temper tantrums gone psychotic.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      A $100,000 in ammunition and it took a threat for him to get on police’s radar?

      BTW, one of the panelists on UP with Chris Hayes this AM made a great point: it’s easier for anyone to get a gun in this country than it is to pass screening to take an airline flight.

  8. Beata says:

    “Let’s Talk About Mental Illness”

    Where to begin? “She is filled with secrets.” That quote from “Twin Peaks” comes to mind. When you live with family members who are mentally ill, life is full of secrets – and shame. I grew up in a family with more than one mentally ill person. Danger, fear, and helplessness were feelings I experienced every day of my life because of it. I don’t know any other way to feel. That is what living with mentally ill people is like. Some families ignore symptoms but others do not. Doctors, hospitalizations, various treatments. They are often a continual part of life for the mentally ill person. But the rest of the family lives with these things too as they try to find help for their loved ones. Sometimes help is found. For a while. Maybe. Sometimes not. There are no easy fixes. Always there is fear. What will happen next? What should I do? Am I safe? What does it mean to be safe? I’m crying and shaking as I write this because I do not know the answers to those questions. I have never felt safe.

    As I join with others to mourn the deaths of the Newtown children and their teachers, I also feel tremendous sadness for Adam Lanza and his mother. Was he a monster? Perhaps. Certainly what he did was monstrous. Was Nancy Lanza a bad mother? I do not know. I only know that mental illness is a nightmare for those who suffer from it – and for their families.

    • HT says:

      Amen Beata, amen. My mom was extraordinarily brilliant but very ill – volatile most days. When she was good, she was just my mom – when she was in the throes of her psychosis she was horrific and I ran and hid. I suspect in retrospect that she was bi-polar, although in those days the powers that be did not recognize or address the situation. Mom was givent electro shock therapy multiple times. She was institionalized multiple times. Her illness affected all of us – the guilt (we should have done better), the fear (if we do this she won’t hurt us) the anger, the hopelessness. I love my mom, and despite all of the bad times I miss her terribly. When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was awful. That phrase from a children’s poem has always been with me in referring to my mom.
      And yes, mental illness untreated is a nightmare and a danger. When will the old white millionaires running the world recognize it.

      • roofingbird says:

        I’m sorry for your travails HT; I suspect it has contributed to your being the wonderful person you appear to be.

        Was this in Canada? I was wondering if there were any lessons to be learned there?

      • HT says:

        Thanks bird, but you know, in retrospect and from an advanced age I am very thankful that I knew her. She taught me so much in her sane times, more than most kids got from their sane parents.
        Yes it was in Canada. But in those days mental illness wasn’t discussed at all – not that today is much different. She was cared for when she was committed – meals, clean room, round the clock supervision, drugs, EST – you name it, she got it.
        Lessons to be learned all around the world to my mind. People with mental illness are still people and most of them, like my mom have so much to give. Governments need to stop putting their fingers in their ears and intoning “La la la I don’t hear you”. The really wealthy – the top 10% have the money to bury their problems in private asylums – the rest of us have to deal with it with no support.
        I loved my mom so much and today 30 years after she passed I still miss her. She missed my children – they lost their grandma.

    • HT says:

      Beata how are you doing, and how is your Mom? If there’s anything I can do, remember spare room available with your name on it.

      • Beata says:

        HT, I’m feeling pretty down to tell you the truth. Staying away from the news as much as possible.

        My mother is stable. Still in the nursing home. There are daily problems that come up with her that I need to deal with. I’ve been getting rid of a lot of stuff at my home. Things with bad memories especially. When my mother does pass away, I want to be able to move and not be loaded down with “baggage”.

        Thank you for always caring about me and my mother, HT. I hope you are doing okay. You’re a very special person. xoxo.

      • HT says:

        Beata, quite the contrary. You are the very special person – I’m just a virtual friend who cares about you, as do your other virtual friends. We need to know that you are comfortable, coping and not in need.

    • Beata says:

      One of my mentally ill family members spent considerable time in a state mental hospital. This is before the state hospitals were closed down. I wish I could say my relative received good care there, but that was not the case. It was a dangerous “warehousing” situation.

      I don’t have any simple answers about what our society needs to do for the mentally ill. Even with access to care, it’s not like there is an easy road to travel on that says “Find Help Here”, help is given, and everything is just fine afterward. Mental illness is far more complicated than that.

      • dakinikat says:

        My grandmother was given electroshock therapy in the early 1960s for severe depression. She basically took to the couch and never got up for years. There was a lot of domestic violence in the home. My mother was probably bi polar and depressed a lot. She would chase me around with her sorority paddle a lot and scream at me all the time. Every thing had to perfect or there was hell to pay. I learned the only things I could do safely without being bothered were reading and playing the piano. As a teenager, my mother endlessly saw me as some kind of rival and would rant at me all the time about how having kids had ruined her life and that she resented me getting clothing and things. I was afraid of having children thinking I’d pass that kind of miserable life to my children. I didn’t cry when my mom died. It was really a strange relief to think that the continual criticism and bullying was over for me. The doctors put her on an anti depressant towards the end of her life. She was seriously losing touch with reality any way, but it made a difference. She apologized to me before she died for ‘everything’ as she put it. It’s hard to put into words exactly how little that meant although I guess it was better than nothing. I spent the last month taking care of her while my sister and dad arranged things. It just struck me how I was always the adult in the relationship and that I really wished things would’ve been different.

      • HT says:

        Dak I would swear you lived in my house with a few exceptions. My mom just threw things like knives, plates, skillets whatever came to hand. I suspect that having lived through that has something to do with your being so empathetic.

        • dakinikat says:

          My mother would go off on absolutely nothing but by the time my dad got home she’d invented this huge story of something. She was like living with raw emotions blasting at you. I tried to learn how to intuit what would cause the volcano to explode but never could. It’s really impacted my relationships. I get into emotionally abusive relationships all the time. I’ve finally given up on them because I just sit around trying to figure out what people want so they don’t get mad it me and most of the time people are mad at me for things I can’t control.

      • HT says:

        Good grief, that’s the final kicker – Dak I gave up on relationships over 20 years ago. Every one I entered with hope, but it always ended up the same way – me a quivering mass of anger over the abuse I had endured. I finally recognized that I was incapable of choosing someone who would treat me the way that I wanted to be treated and threw in the towel. My taste in men stinks.

    • I gotta say something. I do feel this blog community is a wonderful community, we care about each other…genuinely and I feel so fortunate for that. I love you all.

  9. dakinikat says:

    EXCLUSIVE: Gunman’s ‘survivalist’ mother was OBSESSED with guns and stockpiled supplies as she planned for economic collapse before son shot her in the face while she lay in bed

    Nancy Lanza, 52, a ‘survivalist,’ was preparing for the end of the world economy by stockpiling food

    • HT says:

      Sounds like her son came by his illness/obsession genetically.

    • roofingbird says:

      Well there you go.. lets blame the Mayans.

      • roofingbird says:

        Actually, in reading this link I had the idea that someone in the Daily News had read this blog, taken all the comments, tossed them like salad onto a new tear sheet and printed the result.

    • babama says:

      I haven’t commented in a long time, but I’m still reading avidly. This tragedy touches me deeply, one, because I am raising a grandchild with adhd, ptsd, and sensory and motor issues. He can be very oppositional and rigid, and also funny, loving and charming. He’s a teen now and with more testosterone in the mix, yes, his anger and defiance have increased. We wonder about possible Bi-polar or Aspergers, his dad is diagnosed bi-polar. We have good and bad days. We are dealing with trying to find him the right diagnosis, therapies, meds, and treatment. (I get almost no time to myself these days, that’s why I don’t comment : ) Additionally, he is black and tall for his age, so people (schools, parents, authorities) in our mostly white and asian town often perceive him through the lens of an, ahem, “double standard”. I am homeschooling him, not out of ideological purity, but because the school was failing him. He had an IEP, but in reality they had him on the “punishment track”. Their proposed treatment for his dysgraphia was to stop helping him learn to write! He has made huge progress in a year, and we would like him to return to public school at some point if we can find the right support for him. But, the other day I was saying to my wife, “now I am beginning to worry that he will read and write too well to be eligible for support services.” So, the good news is he is learning here at home, but the isolation of homeschooling doesn’t help with his social challenges. We are grandma lesbian freethinking heathens, so don’t fit in with the christian homeschoolers and the white middle class hipster homeschoolers haven’t been a good fit either. I appreciate that Skydancers are an empathetic bunch, I am sure you can understand why I feel worn out and exhausted most of the time. This is a spiritual practice like none I’ve experienced for getting up every day and forging on, and for breathing through the bad times.

      This is all to say that I feel very tender and cautious about jumping to conclusions about what kind of person and mother Nancy Lanza may or may not have been. I am seeing the beginnings of ‘mother blaming’ in the media and I don’t want to stoke that. First, many of the “facts” surrounding this horror have been wrong from the get go. The perpetrator was Ryan, then Adam, she was a teacher then not, the weapon was a handgun then not, the victims were kindergartners then not, etc. Everything I have read about Nancy is hearsay, so far. Second, I am all too aware of what might be said about me out of context, if someone was to catch me on a bad day, or see the inside of my messy house right now, with its piles of half done projects, or second guess my decisions, without the benefit of ever having heard my voice or knowing my situation and process. I have had to surrender caring about ‘what the neighbors might think of me’ and the yelling that comes from our house some days. I hope that they see that I/we are doing the best we can and will extend us some grace and in asking for that I can only strive to extend grace to others. We are living in difficult times. Certainly, I am curious why Nancy had guns in her home along with her vulnerable and troubled son. How did that come to be and why and how was it handled? I am also curious about what her life was like with her son, was it hard, how did she deal? If she did homeschool him, how did that go? Who was she, what did she feel and hope for, for herself and her sons? We don’t know. We may never know. Without knowing, I can only wonder and extend to her the same grace I rely on, I assume she was doing the best she could, as most people do. Like me, she undoubtably made mistakes and errors in judgement. I don’t know enough about her to presume to sit in judgement of her. I can imagine enough of what her daily life must have entailed to extend compassion to her.

      Thirtyseven years ago my deeply troubled older brother shot himself in the head, in our home, in his bedroom during the holidays. I loved him deeply, and he could be terrifying. Though tragic, it was also a relief that he killed himself, because I grew up fearing he would kill us all. A daily fear that went on for years. I’ve always said that gun blast blew our family apart, and shattered us. I was telling my daughter yesterday, that my only joy in the holidays since then has come from making them special for her, and now for my grandchildren. Over the years, I’ve found a quieter peace in the long night sky, the warmth and light of fire and candle, the turning of the wheel. My heart goes out to all those whose holidays will now be also marked by loss and grieving and I wish them comfort.

      • dakinikat says:

        Hugs to you!. I can’t even imagine what your days must be like. So filled with so many things. I’m really aware of all the mother blaming that goes on with so many things. It’s a tough job. It sounds like you’ve had more than your fill of challenges. I hate it when people tell you that it just builds character because it sounds like you’ve got plenty of that all ready. I can’t imagine any reason to bring guns into a home with a troubled child. I’d like to figure out why some of these “gun enthusiasts” think way. Hope you can speak up more frequently. You’ve got one powerful story to tell.

      • HT says:

        babama – you and your partner are amazing – not just raising your grandchild but teaching him as well. Something I doubt I could do. If I indicated that I was blaming the mother I apologize – my comment about inheriting genetically was directed more to the obsessive side, not to how she raised the boy, but it’s obvious I wasn’t clear enough. My fault I fear. After living with my mother I understand the trials of living with someone who is beautiful and wonderful one minute and threateningly scarey the next. Hugs to you and your partner, and a big one for your grandson.

  10. RalphB says:

    Basically, it wasn’t really close at all. In fact, it was a landslide.

    LATimes: Three lessons from the near-final popular vote

    Obama seems all but certain to achieve a mark hit by only five others in U.S. history – winning the presidency twice with 51% or more of the popular vote.

  11. dakinikat says:

    NPR News ‏@nprnews

    The Story Behind A Striking Image Of The Scene At Sandy Hook