Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rick Santorum (or perhaps his lookalike?) sees Satan controlling mainline Protestant churches

Rick Santorum lookalike?
See the Fiscal Times photo gallery.

Santorum, under fire for Satan comments, recalls Reagan's 'courage'
By Mitchell Landsberg
February 22, 2012

...In 2008, speaking to students at a Catholic school, Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., Santorum spoke of a satanic assault on the United States.

“The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country -- the United States of America,” he said, according to a tape of the remarks on the university website. “If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States.”

In the same speech, Santorum seemed to suggest that mainline Protestant churches have been influenced by Satan and are no longer Christian. He said the devil had exerted control over academia and then began attacking Christianity. “And of course,” he said, “we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is a shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”...

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Clinician’s View of the Laptop-Shooting Dad

A Clinician’s View of the Laptop-Shooting Dad
Tommy Jordan shows our willingness to excoriate teens for bad behavior while absolving ourselves of parental responsibility for it
February 17, 2012

By shooting his daughter’s laptop and posting the event on YouTube, Tommy Jordan has become a minor celebrity. His actions give catharsis to perennial adult frustration with teenagers. But watching the video I was struck not only by his own words but also those of his daughter (read aloud by Jordan) which, to me, reflected not moral high ground by either party but a cycle of mutual anger, frustration and failure to communicate. Given that, to my knowledge, his daughter has been given no platform to explain her grievances toward her father, it’s easy to view things through Jordan’s lenses when we hear only one side of the story. I am sure he has legitimate grievances against her (and probably she against him). However, was destroying her property and humiliating her publicly the best way to resolve this conflict?

In my own work as a clinical psychologist, I have worked with many teens and their families. Although certainly some teens are fully responsible for their problems despite having model parents, and at other times the kids would be better off being raised by a pack of raccoons, in most cases both parties fueled rather than dealt responsibly with emerging problems. Rarely did I find either parents or teens who were entirely right, although each often thought they were. Teens ranting over chores and whatnot can often reflect deeper feelings of alienation or perceived uncaring on the part of parents. In many cases the bad behavior of teens, whether disrespect, apathy or conflict, often could be traced back to failures by parents to show respect or caring toward their children in earlier years. To be clear, this is not to absolve teens of responsibility for their actions, merely to point out that family conflicts are rarely so clear as to identify one party as good, the other bad.

A study by Brian Barber in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that both negative parenting and adolescent personality problems contributed to conflicts within the family. Similar research by Bruce Simons-Morton and colleagues in the Journal of School Violence and Soh-Leong Lim and colleagues in Marriage & Family Review suggest that parental warmth and decreased overbearingness are related to less conflict and more positive teen outcomes across cultures.

This is not to say that teens should never be disciplined, but that fostering bonding and trust between the parent and teen is a crucial element that shouldn’t be but often is neglected.

To put this in perspective, let us imagine that my wife and I were having difficulties in our marriage (we are not). One day I discover she has posted ranting complaints about my boorish behavior to her friends on Facebook, believing I will not see them. Do I have a right to feel hurt? Of course. Would shooting her laptop and releasing a publicly humiliating rant of my own against her on YouTube be likely to improve our marriage? No, I don’t think so. But perhaps Hannah Jordan will have a good sense of humor and take this all in stride.

I’m less disappointed in Tommy Jordan, though, than the widespread endorsement of his actions, which probably stems from the habit of disparaging teens, a perennial sport of older adults who enjoy the sanctimonious feel of being able to say, “When we were kids we behaved much better,” even when this is patently untrue. Modern youth, by almost any behavioral measure available, are the best behaved since the 1960s, far better behaved than their parents currently complaining about them. All the Internet backslapping and support for Jordan points to our general willingness to excoriate teens for their bad behavior while absolving ourselves of parental responsibility for it.

I have little doubt Jordan cares about his daughter; that much comes through in his video despite all else. But if this video is reflective of the general way he interacts with her, I see why she might be angry with him. Was her rant on Facebook immature? Sure, but she’s 15. What’s our excuse as parents?

Ferguson is associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University. The views expressed are solely his own.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Eric Cantor protects political intelligence consultants from STOCK Act

Eric Cantor under fire for STOCK Act tweaks
Cantor's version strips a provision requiring consultants to disclose their activities.

A feel-good bill has suddenly turned nasty.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has released his version of a congressional insider-trading ban, and it strips a provision that would require so-called political intelligence consultants to disclose their activities, like lobbyists already do. It also scraps a proposal that empowers federal prosecutors going after corruption by public officials.
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That’s stoked backlash from Democrats and even some Republicans, who are furious at Cantor and are accusing the Virginia Republican of watering down the popular legislation that easily passed Senate last week.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) slammed the House for deleting his amendment targeting the political intelligence industry, which tracks action on Capitol Hill and then sells the information to investors. Instead, the House bill requires just a study of the industry’s activities within 12 months.

“It’s astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street’s wishes by killing this provision,” Grassley said in a statement. “If Congress delays action, the political intelligence industry will stay in the shadows, just the way Wall Street likes it.”

Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon said the provision was deleted because it was “extremely broad” and added that the “unintended consequences on the provision could have affected the first amendment rights of everyone participating in local rotaries to national media conglomerates.”

Democrats weren’t comforted by that explanation.

“The thing we greatly feared has come upon us,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Wednesday. “It has been weakened, totally, as far as I’m concerned.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who co-authored with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) an amendment to crack down on public corruption using a number of measures, said he was “deeply disappointed” his provision had disappeared from the House bill. Leahy noted that a similar measure cleared the House Judiciary Committee in December.

“If we are serious about restoring faith in government and addressing the kinds of egregious misconduct that we have witnessed in recent years in high-profile public corruption cases, Congress must act now to enact serious anti-corruption legislation,” Leahy said in a statement. “The House Republicans’ version of the STOCK Act misses that opportunity.”

For Cantor’s part, the House’s No. 2 Republican has added provisions that he says strengthens the STOCK Act, which explicitly bars lawmakers and their aides from using nonpublic information gained through their jobs to profit themselves.

The new version of the House’s STOCK Act ensures that the bill’s insider-trading ban and its disclosure requirements apply to the executive branch, and it also bans lawmakers convicted of a crime from collecting pensions.

In a shot at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Republicans also added a so-called “Pelosi provision” that imposes stricter rules on public officials who participate in initial public offerings. The California Democrat was targeted in a “60 Minutes” probe that reported Pelosi and her husband participated in Visa’s IPO while a bill governing credit-card legislation was pending before Congress.

Pelosi has denied any conflict of interest or special access related to the Visa IPO.

Slaughter was peeved at the “Pelosi Provision” when asked about it on Wednesday.

“I think the fact that they put this in was strictly to cause grief to [Pelosi],” Slaughter said, “and I resent it.”

Cantor said in a statement late Tuesday that he consulted “dozens of members” as he reworked the bill. But neither Slaughter nor Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), the primary sponsors of the STOCK Act, worked with Cantor on the new bill, the Democrats said.

Despite the partisan bickering, the legislation is expected to pass when it comes up for a vote Thursday.