“The Young and the Shameless” 7/27/07
This will be a short one because anyone who has watched me on TV, listened to me on the radio, or read my posts already knows what I think of Lindsay Lohan’s litany of lawbreaking. It’s not because she has a “disease” as some in the media have been saying (unless “refusal to exercise self-control” is now officially classified as a disease) — it’s because she’s an arrogant, sociopathic little narcissist. She belongs in jail, a drug-free jail (as all jails should be and as they all would be if I were in charge), which in my opinion is the best “rehab” facility there is, along with Nicole Richie and the rest of these spoiled little Hollywood brats. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department could produce a reality show in there and either give the revenue to charity or use it to hire more officers. It could be called “The Young and the Shameless.”
2 BIG stories 7/27/07
Two “big” stories in the news this past week:
First up, new research suggests that obesity may be contagious — basically that people who hang around heavy people tend to be heavy themselves. The implication that people have been drawing from this research is that hanging around heavy people can make you heavy, or heavier. While I guess it’s possible that someone might start worrying less about his/her physical fitness if most everyone in his/her life were grossly out of shape, I think this research, or at least the implication being drawn from it, is basically bogus. I think it uncovered a correlation, a relationship, but not a causal relationship. For example, the crime rate is usually relatively high in cities that have a lot of churches. Do churches cause crime? Does crime cause churches to be built? No, and no. They both exist in places where there are lots of people. It’s that simple, and I think this obesity connection is too. If you’re a slender physical-fitness fanatic who hangs out at the gym all the time, you probably have friends who are also physically fit. Hanging around those people probably didn’t make you physically fit. You probably hang around those people because you share common interests, including physical activities. Likewise, if you’re heavy, and you mostly like to go out to eat, watch movies, drink beer, etc., it’s not really shocking if you have some heavy, couch-potato friends who are into food and beer and not so into exercise. Again, although they probably reinforce it, the friends probably didn’t make you the way you are. You probably had things in common, including similar lifestyles, before you ever started hanging out with them — in fact, it’s probably a “big” part of why you started hanging out with them in the first place.
Next up, a Kansas City area man who weighs 500 lbs. was denied permission to adopt a child because a judge apparently was concerned about whether the man would be healthy enough to parent the child effectively until the child reaches the age of 18. Without having first-hand knowledge of the facts in the case, I tend to agree with the court’s decision, although my reasoning might be a little different. The court reportedly was concerned mainly about the man’s physical health, and that’s certainly a valid concern given the myriad of complications, some of them life-threatening, of morbid obesity. On the other hand, adoptive parents who smoke cigarettes or sky dive put their health at risk too, and an obese parent who loves a child is probably better for the child than no parent. The deciding factors for me in this case then would be the prospective father’s psychological make-up and the potential long-term health effects on the child. Psychologically, I’m concerned about someone so lacking in impulse control parenting children because I wonder about that person’s ability to model and teach the critical concept of personal responsibility, and not just when it comes to eating. In my opinion, someone who would let themselves get that big has some “big” issues, and I worry about how those issues would impact a child. While I disagree that hanging out with heavy people is what makes people become heavy, as the new research described above seems to suggest, I think it’s absolutely true that being parented by obese people often makes children “grow” into adults with life-long weight problems (because the parents neither model nor encourage nor even enable healthy eating in their households). Obese parents tend to model unhealthy eating habits and often don’t even have healthy food alternatives available in their homes. I feel sorry for everyone involved in this case, but in “weighing” the best interests of the child, I think the judge probably did the right thing.
“Wealthcare” crisis 7/27/07
Ok, so this may not be one of my more exciting posts, but it addresses an important issue that I’m seeing come up again and again. We’re living in an age of unprecedented national wealth, and we’re also living in an age of unprecedented family complexity (divorces, second marriages, stepparents, stepchildren, half-siblings, etc.). Among the many problems stemming from the latter, but rarely discussed, is the complication of estate planning in blended-family situations. For example, take a Baby-Boomer physician husband who has had a successful practice for the past 30 years and has accumulated $3.5 million in assets and his second wife who doesn’t work and brought no assets to speak of into the marriage. They each have two grown children from previous marriages. He knows he needs to plan for the disposition of his assets in the event of his death, and he certainly wants to make sure that his current wife is financially secure. But, he also would like to see his children receive an inheritance someday, and he worries that if he leaves everything to his wife outright, it may eventually end up with her children, leaving his children out completely. So, he wants to set it up so that his wife’s needs will be met, but then when she dies, the remainder of his assets will go to his children or perhaps be divided between his children and hers. The problem is that he’s afraid to bring this up with his wife because he expects her to become upset and accuse him of not trusting her. So what does he do? Something far worse than causing an argument with his wife in the present — he does nothing, then he dies, and instead of comforting each other, he leaves the people he cared about the most, his wife and his children, hating each other and battling in court when he’s no longer around to have a say in the outcome. Think this doesn’t happen very often or that it only happens in wealthy families? It happens a lot, and as the Baby Boomers age, it’s going to happen more and more. And it’s not only wealthy families that can be torn apart by these issues. I know of one case in which a man who wasn’t “rich” died, and his second wife made his children, her stepchildren, actually purchase their long-deceased mother’s household belongings — no kidding, the stepmother actually put masking-tape price tags on things like lamps and clocks that were still in the man’s house when he died but had belonged to his first wife, the children’s mother. The man could have prevented the whole ugly ordeal with a simple document that spelled out who was to get which items of his first wife’s personal property. Now I know this post probably doesn’t apply at this moment to the majority of you who are reading it, but if it does, now or in the future, I encourage you to have the courage to address these issues in advance instead of burying your head in the sand (apologies for that terrible pun) and leaving it to your survivors to fight it out while you rest in peace.
I’m back! 7/23/07
Hey, I’m back after spending most of last week in New York on media projects, and a lot has happened since I left, so I’ll use this post to get caught up.
First of all, the trip was great. There were some logistical glitches at the beginning, but the nice people at the Helmsley Park Lane took great care of me when I first got to town despite the fact that I showed up on their doorstep with no reservation in the middle of the night when there was virtually no vacancy in all of Manhattan. The next morning, I met two very cool series producers with impressive track records of successful shows on various cable networks, and I’m excited about working with them in the months ahead to develop a concept for a series. Then the following day, I did the O’Reilly Factor (sorry we didn’t get an announcement posted if you missed it). Appearing by satellite from Kansas City is great, but there’s nothing like being there at the desk with O’Reilly. Bill, Greta Van Susteren, Geraldo Rivera, and everyone at Fox — producers, bookers, camera and sound operators, makeup artists, interns –were absolutely great to me, such class acts, so professional, so talented, and as friendly and welcoming as they could be. You wouldn’t believe how hard those people work behind the scenes to put such high-quality programming on the air day after day. I wanted to thank them for everything they’ve done for me, so I brought everyone a taste of authentic Kansas City barbequed ribs, and judging from how fast they disappeared, I think it’s safe to say they were a big hit in the newsroom, for which I have to thank the nice people at Fiorella’s Jack Stack in Kansas City and Broadway Catering in New York. A staff outing after the show really made me feel like part of the Factor team and gave me a chance to visit face-to-face with people I usually don’t see but just hear on the telephone or over a satellite connection when we’re hustling to get a segment on the air. It was great. The last full day of the trip, I went into Connecticut to meet a best-selling author of personal-finance books and columns and an all-around nice guy with whom I’m excited to be working on a concept for a book. That evening, back in Manhattan, I got to have drinks with another friend and affiliate of Fox News, the person who licenses clips of my Fox appearances so we can make them available for you on my website — another person who’s helped me tremendously and to whom I owe more thanks than I could convey in one happy hour. I was tired on the plane coming back to Kansas, but the trip could hardly have gone any better!
Now, my quick takes on some stories that broke while I was in New York. First up, the story that Bill and I discussed on the Factor last week — a man was convicted on 17 counts of rape, sodomy, and aggravated indecent liberties with a child for repeatedly sexually assaulting a 14-year old girl, and a shameful Kansas judge sentenced him to probation, citing the fact that the rapist supposedly was depressed when committing the rapes. As I pointed out, depression doesn’t cause people to commit rape so it never should have been a mitigating factor in this guy’s sentencing, and as Bill pointed out, it doesn’t matter, because if someone’s dangerous, for whatever reason, that person needs to be off the street. The convict has since (allegedly) violated his probation by using illegal drugs — shocking, I know — so the judge will now get a second chance to do the right thing, and I hope he does.
Next up, federal charges against football star Michael Vick, who allegedly was involved in dog fighting and disgustingly barbaric executions of dogs. As a forensic psychologist, I think we should all be afraid of any human being who takes pleasure in the suffering of animals. That kind of sadism typically escalates — things that produce the desired thrill today get old, and they seek increasingly more violent stimulation — so when I hear about someone torturing an animal, which is bad enough, I think it’s just a matter of time before that person hurts a human being (if it hasn’t happened already!). I hope the feds throw the book at Vick.
Next up, the parents who neglected their young children to a life-threatening degree and then claimed that addiction to video games was to blame. I wish I could say I’m stunned, but I’m not — our society seems increasingly inclined to invent psychological disorders to explain bad behavior instead of acknowledging that there are people who simply choose to behave badly. As I’ve said many times, addiction (to whatever) does not excuse anything in my opinion. Even if a parent were so psychologically disordered that he or she wanted to sit in front of a television screen and play games all day long, he or she would not have to do that — he or she would still be perfectly capable of leaving the games to care for children if he or she wanted to do so. I hope the children are ok and that they’re adults before their parents get out of prison.
Next up, big news in the Natalee Holloway case. According to a trusted O’Reilly Factor source in Aruba, authorities there have concluded that Holloway died of a cocaine overdose, and the Aruban teenage boys who were with her at the time panicked, disposing of her body in the ocean. The report has yet to be corroborated, but I’ve speculated similarly from day one of this case. I hated it earlier this year when some quack psychiatrist peddling a book announced that he could read between the lines of what one of the accused boys had written and know what happened to the girl based on the boy’s word choice, metaphors, etc. — the guy was about as scientific as a psychic, and all he did was give the girl’s family false hope of finally knowing the truth about what happened. While it’s still a tragedy, I hope that Holloway’s family is now truly closer to getting some peace.
Finally, newly-published research suggests that giving prizes, such as ipods, to people in drug and alcohol addiction “treatment” programs caused the numbers of people completing the experimental programs to increase significantly, as much as doubling in some cases. So what does this mean? Should we be bribing people now to complete drug and alcohol “treatment”? No! It means what I’ve always said — people can and will quit using a substance when they want something else more than they want the substance! It means people make choices! Voila, what a shocker!
Ok, that’s all for this catch-up edition of the blog. As always, thanks for reading and watching!
Cultural chaos in film and sports (parental discretion advised) 7/11/07
This edition of the blog will be a short one, just brief rants on a couple of cultural phenomena:
First up, thumbs down on “Transformers.” I take time to see just one or two movies a year, and I looked forward to this one because I remembered the Transformers toys and cartoon from when I was a kid. Then halfway through the movie last Friday night, I found myself feeling embarrassed to be there when the mother of the main human character, a teenage boy, asks him if he’s been “masturbating.” Way to go again Hollywood! You make a movie that every kid in America wants to see, and then when they get there, you expose them to gratuitous sexual terminology that their parents then have to explain. I’m not naive enough to think that anyone in Hollywood cares about the moral aspect of it, but it sure seems like a bad financial move — if you’re a parent who’s thinking about taking your kid to “Transformers,” be advised that you’re going to have to explain masturbation when you leave the theater. Still want to go?
Next up, Barry Bonds is poised to break Hank Aaron’s all-time homerun record, and I for one think it’s a crock. I admit to being one of the least sports-knowledgeable guys in America, but I think awarding the title to Bonds, who I believe used steroids to get near this milestone, makes a mockery of the genuine athletic achievements of guys like Aaron and Babe Ruth. Unfortunately, just days after steroid use was implicated in the apparent double-murder-suicide of pro-wrestler Chris Benoit, Bonds got a standing ovation at the All Star Game. Apparently the fans who were there just admire a winner, whether he cheated to get there or not — another nice lesson for the kids (not that I think kids should be idolizing guys who legitimately knock baseballs long distances while we have soldiers and cops and surgeons saving lives every day with no fanfare). If I were Hank Aaron, and Major League Baseball officially awards the title to Bonds, I’d sue to protect the licensing value of my right to bill myself as the legitimate title-holder.
Hollywood healthcare (you heard it here first) 7/2/07
Wrestler Chris Benoit’s personal physician was arrested today and charged with prescribing unnecessary drugs to patients. The doctor has not yet been charged with prescribing unnecessary steroids to Benoit, but a criminal complaint still under investigation alleges that Benoit received a 10-month supply of steroids every three to four weeks for approximately the past year. Steroid-induced psychosis, or “roid rage,” has been implicated in the double-murder-suicide in which Benoit apparently murdered his wife and young son before committing suicide (see my previous posts, “Lessons in tragedies” and “‘Roid rage’?”). I think we’ve just scratched the surface of a much deeper problem here — doctors throwing their oaths and ethics out the window to satisfy celebrity patients for money, status, access, etc. The Benoit case is reminiscent of the Anna Nicole Smith case, in which it appears at least one psychiatrist gave Ms. Smith prescriptions that were unnecessary, unsafe, and may have contributed to her death. To an admittedly much lesser degree, we’ve seen a psychiatrist in the Paris Hilton case apparently pandering to his celebrity patient by declaring Ms. Hilton mentally unfit to testify in a lawsuit against her (while she lived it up on the party circuit) and too sick to complete her jail sentence (which she ultimately, miraculously, completed — see my previous posts, “Paris Hilton incompetent?” and “Three updates, three inmates, three early release dates”). “Hollywood healthcare” is a serious problem that deserves attention from us in the media and, more importantly, from law enforcement and medical licensing boards across the U.S.A. It looks like it’s been at least partly to blame for the deaths of four people this year, the Benoits and Anna Nicole Smith, and those are just the high-profile cases we’ve reported. I think we’re going to find it going on far more frequently than we’ve seen thus far. You heard it here first.
Progress, but a long way to go in Kansas illegal abortion case 7/2/07
I’d like to think that the O’Reilly Factor’s coverage of unjustified late-term abortions in Kansas is responsible, at least in part, for Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison’s decision to charge Dr. George Tiller with 19 counts of failure to obtain independent, concurring second opinions before performing late-term abortions under the guise of saving the lives/health of pregnant mothers. Unfortunately, the charges are all misdemeanors, so they’re unlikely to end the barbarism that goes on at Tiller’s “clinic,” which means there’s a long way to go from here to justice. The charges are also the least that Morrison could have pursued with a straight face after the Factor revealed to the nation the mockery that Dr. Tiller has made of what the Kansas Legislature intended to be the most solemn of medical calls, to be made in only the most grave of circumstances (see my previous post, “Factor coverage of Kansas illegal abortion story,” for a recap of that coverage). If you’ve followed the tragic case of Jessie Davis (the pregnant Ohio woman whose married boyfriend, police officer Bobby Cutts, is charged with double-murder for killing her and her unborn baby just days before she was to deliver), you know all you need to know to understand the seriousness of this story. There’s no way to justify logically why the same act amounts to murder when Bobby Cutts (allegedly) does it but not when Tiller does it. All eyes must remain on Morrison. Having found apparent crimes in Tiller’s 2003 records (originally obtained by former Attorney General Phill Kline, without identifying information, i.e. no privacy issue), Morrison is obligated, as the State’s chief law enforcement officer, now to subpoena Tiller’s records from 2004-2007, wherein there is ample cause to suspect that further crimes will be apparent (charges stemming from any crimes committed before 2003 would be barred by the statute of limitations). If Morrison does his job, it will be a bitter irony because he’ll have to do exactly what he demonized Kline for doing (subpoena abortion records). As the current charges are prosecuted, it’s also time for the State’s medical licensing board, which has been A.W.O.L. in this case up to now, to take a hard look at Tiller’s and his accomplices’ fitness to practice medicine. That board is appointed by Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who, like Morrison, appears beholden to the pro-abortion lobby, so continued public pressure from the media and from concerned viewers, listeners, and readers will be key to winning justice for the voiceless in Kansas.