Shadow Warriors: Movin’ On Up

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday August 17, 2011 - 01:23:00 PM

For decades the U.S. military has waged clandestine war on virtually every continent on the globe, but, for the first time, high-ranking Special Operations Forces (SOF) officers are moving out of the shadows and into the command mainstream. Their emergence suggests the U.S. is embarking on a military sea change that will replace massive deployments, like Iraq and Afghanistan, with stealthy night raids, secret assassinations, and death-dealing drones. Its implications for civilian control of foreign policy promises to be profound. -more-

The Public Eye: One, Two, Three, What Are Liberals Fighting For?

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday August 16, 2011 - 01:32:00 PM

These are hard times. The weather’s bad and the economy awful. Obama has lost his mojo and 14 million Americans are unemployed. Many Liberals are discouraged and fearful about the 2012 election. But there’s plenty of time to reenergize, so long as Liberals remember who we are and what we are fighting for. -more-

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader).

By Dorothy Bryant
Tuesday August 16, 2011 - 10:11:00 PM

“According to Dr. Bruno Bettelheim, who seems to have an unusual gift for handling autistic children, the cause of ‘autism’ is that the child is convinced . . . that its parents wish it did not exist.”

—copied from A Certain World (1970) the commonplace book of W. H. Auden (1907-1973), famed poet

Mention Bettelheim’s name now, and, at most, you might hear a vague reference to his Freudian (plagiarized) book about fairy tales (that and his other dozen or so other books are no longer to be found at the Berkeley Public Library). No mention of his numberless articles and syndicated newspaper columns advising mothers on how to undo brain damage they had inflicted on their children by unconscious rejection. Certainly, the University of Chicago would not welcome questions about his “Orthogenic” boarding school based there, claiming “cures” for mental disorders that continue to mystify medical/psychiatric authorities. Nor would prestigious foundations want to publish the total in dollars of the many grants they awarded to him. And, please, don’t bother Woody Allen with questions about the cameo appearance of Bettelheim as emblematic psychiatrist in Zelig (1983). -more-

Eclectic Rant:Once Upon A Time in Syria

By Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday August 16, 2011 - 01:17:00 PM

In 1999, we visited Syria as well as Jordan, Israel, and Baalbeck in Lebanon. We arrived in Syria on the eve of the Israeli elections. The majority of Arabs and Israelis probably agreed that the prospects for peace in the region improved immeasurably with the election of Ehud Barak as Israel's prime minister. Even our Syrian guide was cautiously optimistic. Our guide did note that Barak was a highly decorated war hero with the decorations earned at the expense of the Arabs. The deep animosities, however, were palpable. Looking back, peace was not to be. -more-

Where the Birds Are, or Were

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday August 17, 2011 - 07:52:00 AM

Ever-reliable Princeton University Press, which may have one of the best natural-history publishing program in academia, has a new and somewhat different product out: The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation by Mike Unwin ( Not an identification guide, the Atlas is a handsomely packaged compendium of information about birds, from their prehistoric origins to their mixed prospects in the modern world. -more-

Senior Power:Keirō no hi

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Tuesday August 16, 2011 - 01:22:00 PM

Japan provides some examples of positive ageism. There’s a national holiday called Respect for the Aged Day… Keirō no hi … celebrated annually to honor elderly citizens. Some social scientists have said that Japan has a gerontocracy in which the elders rule by virtue of their age. This is an exaggeration, but the leaders in business, education, religion, and other institutions do tend to be older. Including elected government officials. -more-

On Mental Illness: Dealing with the Recession

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday August 16, 2011 - 01:30:00 PM

Despite what people might think, persons with mental illness are often more sensitive than the average person, and are more affected by adverse circumstances. This does not mean that we lack bravery. It just means that if there is a “hump” to get over, the emotional stress of this can sometimes trigger acute symptoms of our illnesses. For example, a person with a mental illness may have an “episode” triggered by the death of a family member. A breakup of a relationship can also sometimes trigger an episode, if the person with mental illness was exceedingly attached. (This does not address the aspect of how healthy or how mutual the relationship was or wasn’t.) -more-