Howsoever one may feel about Justice Clarence Thomas – I, frankly, find him fascinating – one must have feelings about this story from Solitary Watch, by way of truthout. The reticent reactionary’s rightful shock and anger over his nephew’s poor treatment at the hands of Louisiana hospital staff may augur changes in his view of prisoners and the mentally ill, who are all too often one and the same.

Our jails are now the largest mental health facilities in the nation, and they are filled with people who are there because they exhibited behavior common to untreated mental illness, including drug abuse, assault, and ‘quality of life’ crimes.”

Reality is but a tissue compared to ideology, of course, and Justice Thomas may never change his mind about what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. However he soon may have more opportunities to revisit those views. If other states cut services with the alacrity that North Carolina has, how long can it be before someone seeks redress in the courts?


Howdy y’all! It has been awhile, hasn’t it? I was busy reading the Epic of Gilgamesh in Sumerian. Not really. I was teaching myself capoeira. No, that’s not true either. I moved. Not to Durham, though. Familiar readers (bless you!) will recall my love for the Bull City, but Durham is a dream deferred. I’m now a proud Chapel Hillian and, what with this and that, haven’t paid as much attention to state politics as a good Pulsie should. Last night, as I sat amid lists of things to do and plotted elaborate renovations that will never come to pass, the State Highway Patrol saga broke through the relocation fog that has hung over me these several months. I can see clearly now and the pain ain’t gone.

Governor Perdue’s announcement yesterday of tough (ha!) measures to restore the SHP’s integrity was stunning in its lameness. At least two of her four measures are already in place. Strangely, Perdue’s proclaiming it “a new day” didn’t cause a shift in the time-space continuum to make that any less obvious or true. Nor did predicting “a little bit of a flavor change” have the same effect as actually firing the people in charge of the wayward department. If you want to restore public confidence in the highway patrol, Guv’ner, start with the people in charge. They don’t deserve to keep their jobs, especially if it’s true, as you say, that a few bad seeds are ruining the reputation of the whole force. It’s time to cut bait, starting with the man at the top.

That brings us to the ultimate embarrassment of yesterday’s presser. Having her spokeswoman rush the governor offstage practically mid-sentence was not commanding or confidence-inspiring. While it was clear to all, even those of us befuddled by moving, that Perdue was painting herself into a corner pretty spectacularly, it was pathetic to see her hustled offstage like someone’s drunk-ass dad doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression at a rehearsal dinner. (What? You’ve never seen that?) Spokeslady’s giving Glover the hook a few moments later only reinforced the impression that those two have something to hide. Is it really any wonder they can’t manage to shake up the management at SHP enough to make a real change? Is it any wonder that questions about ethics and integrity cling like a Code Orange fug to the whole department? Today the majority of troopers, dedicated and honest professionals, have their commander and their governor to thank for that.


They don’t even fade away. Case in point: Charles W. Colson.

‘When you get to be a Christian, and you are serious about it, all the pleasures of the flesh disappear. If I had an indulgence, it would be sports cars, but I can’t afford to be seen driving one. I had one, but I sold it.'”

I guess hypocrisy isn’t a pleasure of the flesh. It probably pays well, though.


I was Catholic once (…and young), so I’m going to dive into the ocean of commentary on the Church’s sex abuse scandal. Yesterday, Ross Douthat offered an idea for the “Are you f&^$%ing kidding me with this s@*!?!” file:

In reality, the scandal implicates left and right alike. The permissive sexual culture that prevailed everywhere, seminaries included, during the silly season of the ’70s deserves a share of the blame, as does that era’s overemphasis on therapy. (Again and again, bishops relied on psychiatrists rather than common sense in deciding how to handle abusive clerics.) But it was the church’s conservative instincts — the insistence on institutional loyalty, obedience and the absolute authority of clerics — that allowed the abuse to spread unpunished.”

I hardly know where to begin with this utterly ludicrous contribution.

While Douthat seems to be doing his Fox News-fair-and-balanced best to implicate the left here, he’s gone a league too far. “The silly 70s,” Ross? Really? We’re not talking about slap and tickle at the seminary – a tradition I would have to guess is roughly as old as time – we’re talking about sexual predators who for years upon years made children their victims. Children. Surely Douthat doesn’t mean to suggest that those poor deaf choir boys were running around in Studio 54 hot pants, and, yet, what else are we to take from his assertion that the culture is to blame?

It’s easy to set psychiatry up here too, isn’t it? Those MDs with their newfangled notions! That too fails the sniff test. In Germany, a psychiatrist repeatedly warned Church officials that an abusive priest must be kept away from children, but he was ignored. No, the blame here – and there is so, so much – belongs to the priests who abused children and the bishops and archbishops and cardinals who abetted them. Their crimes should not be called “cover ups”, they should be called what they are: the criminally negligent actions that “allowed the abuse to spread unpunished.”

I know Ross still wants to protect the Church hierarchy and its ancient customs, but it’s time for the tortured attempts to blame a permissive culture to end. It’s time for the attempts to blame anyone or anything other than the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy to end. Catholics have endured more of these scandals than any other denomination because of their peculiar insistence on celibacy for priests. As long as the Church offers refuge to men who are unable or unwilling to integrate sexuality into their adult identities, there will be problems. For not only does the Church give them a haven to hide from an important part of their humanity, it elevates them for doing so. That’s a recipe for tragedy, the kind of tragedy that is being visited upon the Catholic faithful around the world during this Holy Week. Again.


Dallas W.And now, a moment of Zen:

‘It’s time for the community to accept the school board elections and the school board’s vote,’ said Dallas Woodhouse, state director of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that backs the board majority.”

This guy is all about acceptance. You know, he’s just so mellow and living in the moment. The past and the future are just illusions to ole Dallas. He really is just one big Buddhist master.

This battle has indeed awakened the sleeping giant, and Americans for Prosperity’s members – one million strong – will continue to put the pressure on our elected officials. More than 320,000 Americans have signed our November Is Coming petition, sending a message to their members of Congress that their days in Washington are numbered. I think we will see some historic changes in our country at the hands of these hard-working people who are taking time away from their everyday lives to start tea party groups and commit themselves to preserving liberty. This fight is not over. Today we lost in Congress, but we won with the American people.”

Oh, wait, maybe not so much with the acceptance after all. When people care about their school board’s actions, they need to suck it up, but when they care about AFP’s distortions and propaganda, they’re fighting the good fight.

219 members in the U.S. House put blind adherence to a radical government-first ideology ahead of the wishes of the American people. We will be less free tomorrow than we are today. Bureaucrats and politicians will stand between patients and doctors. And our health care will now be permanently politicized, subject to the whim of our often out of touch political class.

That’s a very realistic and calm assessment of the health care reform measure that President Obama will sign into law today, isn’t it? Meanwhile, the people Dally Lama urges to “accept” the school board’s action are actually -get this – signing up to attend and/or speak at the school board’s meeting. The meeting at which the board’s majority will hammer the last nail into the coffin of the socioeconomic diversity-based assignment system. How dare those concerned citizens show their faces? Don’t they know it’s time to chill and let happen what will happen? “We have just begun to fight” only applies to freaky teabaggers, apparently, the rest of us need to shut it and accept. I don’t think so, Dallas.