THE PUBLIC EYE:Is Bipartisanship Possible?

Bob Burnett
Saturday November 01, 2014 - 08:42:00 AM

As the 2014-midterm elections grind down to their conclusion, voters in many communities continue to be subjected to wave after wave of negative ads. The obvious solution is to take big money out of politics, but another tactic would be to promote bipartisanship, to somehow dispel the rancor between Democrats and Republicans. Is bipartisanship possible? Or is the US too polarized? -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Book Review: The Syrian Labyrinth

Conn Hallinan
Friday October 31, 2014 - 10:06:00 AM

Inside Syria:” The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect “ by Reese Erlich

Forward by Noam Chomsky

Prometheus Press, New York 2014

Reese Erlich’s informative and insightful book “Inside Syria” brings to mind the Greek myth of a vast maze under the palace at Knossos, with one exception: King Minos’ labyrinth on Crete concealed a single Minotaur, Syria is teeming with the beasts.

Erlich has spent almost three decades reporting from the Middle East, and he brings his considerable knowledge of the region into this analysis of the Syrian civil war. A winner of the Peabody Award and the Society of Professional Journalists explanatory journalism award for “Inside the Syrian Revolution,” Erlich combines on-the-ground reporting with an encyclopedic background in the region’s history. It is a combination that is particularly useful for a subject as complex and nuanced as the current war, one that has gradually drawn Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, along with the U.S., France and Britain. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: UC Berkeley Decides Correctly to Let Bill Maher Give the Commencement Speech

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 31, 2014 - 10:00:00 AM

Bill Maher, standup comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, was selected to speak at UC Berkeley's fall commencement. Recently, an online petition began circulating demanding that his selection be canceled, claiming that Maher is a "racist" and a "bigot."

On September 29, 2014, Chancellor Dirks announced that the invitation will stand noting that the undergraduate committee known as the "Californians" had selected Maher to speak and now want this invitation to be rescinded, "which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech. It should be noted that this decision does not constitute an endorsement of any of Mr. Maher’s prior statements: indeed, the administration’s position on Mr. Maher’s opinions and perspectives is irrelevant in this context, since we fully respect and support his right to express them. More broadly, this university has not in the past and will not in the future shy away from hosting speakers who some deem provocative."

I applaud the Chancellor's decision. It is strange to me that the "Californians" did not know Maher's views before they selected him to give the commencement address. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Psychiatric Conditions and the Value of Life

Jack Bragen
Friday October 31, 2014 - 10:33:00 AM

A major psychiatric illness will introduce limits to our lives. It brings baggage, it brings requirements and it brings some restrictions. Taking medication is just the beginning. We have to keep our prescriptions filled. We must meet with a psychiatrist on an ongoing basis. We may be forced to undergo psychotherapy--we may like this and may not. (While in my past I used to get a lot of benefit from therapy, I essentially feel done with it after more than thirty years of it.) -more-

COUNTERPOINTS: Niggas, Bitches, Hoes, and Steven Tavares

J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday October 31, 2014 - 11:18:00 AM

A month ago, I wrote about an East Bay political blogger who had posted a bigoted, anti-Asian item on Twitter. -more-