Archive: August 2009

Wrapping up the week 8/29/09

Busy day Friday on both The O’Reilly Factor and AC 360, all about the Dugard case.  If you haven’t heard about this case yet, see my previous post.  It’s both heartbreaking and fascinating on many different levels.  As I predicted on Thursday night’s Campbell Brown, some are already saying they see signs of Stockholm Syndrome in this case, but I think it’s too early for us, as outside observers, to really know that.  The victims can’t really be expected to have wrapped their minds around the concept of being truly safe from these monstrous perpetrators yet, so it’s tough to know exactly how the victims will feel about the perpetrators a week, a month, and a year from now.  Even if it looks like a victim has some kind of an emotional “bond” with a perpetrator at this point, once the safety concept sinks in and that victim has a chance to reflect from a place of psychological and physical safety on what happened to her, she may agree with me that there’s no punishment harsh enough for these perpetrators (husband and wife).  Speaking of punishments, I’m really not that worried about the perpetrators not facing the death penalty — given my study of other heinous child abusers’ prison experiences, I think that what could happen in prison, at least to the male perpetrator, could be some even harsher justice, and if it is, I won’t lose a moment’s sleep over it.  Yesterday’s additions to the story seemed to center around the involvement of law enforcement at various stages.  I’ve already written about how the male suspect was released early from prison after being convicted of a rape and kidnapping that should’ve kept him locked up for at least 50 years (he was out in about ten).  Then about three years ago, it looks like cops were called to the home where all of this happened to investigate a report that people appeared to be living in the backyard, yet no one seems to have searched the area in which the victims could’ve been discovered.  Of course we don’t want a cop who went out there and missed the victims to commit suicide or anything like that, but we can’t just let it go either because somewhere in this country, right now, there’s someone in a similar situation, so it’s about lessons learned:  1) keep these violent offenders locked up, and 2) if they’re going to be freed, at least don’t do it until we can guarantee the kind of monitoring that would make another Dugard situation impossible.  And any discussion of law enforcement’s involvement in this case would be incomplete without once again giving props to the officers whose good old-fashioned cop intuition made them suspicious enough to contact the male suspect’s parole officer and report that the convicted sex offender had kids with him, which broke the case wide open this week after 18 years

Jackson update:  The coroner’s report in the Michael Jackson case is now public, and as we reported earlier this week on Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, “homicide” is listed as the cause of death.  (See my previous post for an explanation of what I think that really means.)

On a potentially-similar note, someone known as “D.J. A.M.” — he’s apparently a well-known deejay — has been found dead in his New York apartment under apparently drug-related circumstances.  Doesn’t sound like there was any apparent foul play.  There reportedly was a past suicide attempt, but authorities haven’t indicated that this looks like a suicide either.  Prescription drugs reportedly were in the mix found in the apartment, so it looks like another potential Ledger/Smith/Jackson-like case of what I’ve called “Hollywood Health Care” (a celebrity taking prescription drugs — either alone or in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol — obtained from some starstruck doctor).  This guy did suffer some injuries in a plane crash about a year ago though, so we’ll have to wait and see exactly what role the prescription drugs played in his death (initial autopsy results reportedly are inconclusive, so once again, we’ll have to wait for definitive toxicology) and how legit those prescriptions were at this point.

Portions of the chilling security-camera video of the home invasion at the Billings home in Florida (in which the Billingses, who had adopted numerous special-needs kids, were murdered) have been released.  The video is grainy, but what’s crystal-clear is that I was right on target about the perpetrators in my post dated 7/12/2009!

Before I go, seven people are reported dead and two others wounded at a mobile home located in a Georgia trailer park.  This just happened, so details are extremely sketchy, but it sounds like a multiple shooting intended to take out an entire family plus maybe some affiliated non-family-members.  I’m sure we’ll have more on this on t.v. this week.  In the meantime, have a good, safe, weekend.

Catching up 8/27/09

It’s been a busy week, and I’m behind on my blogging, so here’s catching up:

On Monday, a Columbine-style attack at a California high school was thwarted by heroic teachers who tackled and subdued a former student who returned to the school with a bunch of pipe bombs.  As I’ve said in the past, I think one positive legacy of 9/11 (and maybe Columbine, too) is that people are quicker to act to take down threats to public safety.  Prosecutors are deciding whether to charge the perpetrator as an adult or as a juvenile.  I’m thinkin’ that sounds like an adult crime, so I’m thinkin’ it probably deserves some adult time, but if you’re interested in the factors involved in deciding whether to charge someone as an adult or as a juvenile, see my previous post dated 5/1/09.

On Tuesday night’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, we discussed the latest in the Michael Jackson death probe.  Toxicology reportedly confirms that propofol appears to have been the proximate cause of Jackson’s death.  The coroner reportedly has deemed the death to be a “homicide,” but that’s a little misleading — as I understand it, that means the coroner believes the death to have been caused by the actions of another person and that those actions were not accidental, but I don’t think it necessarily means the coroner believes the death to have been intentional.  In other words, I think the forthcoming criminal charge is still likely to be manslaughter rather than murder.  Stay tuned.

Also on Tuesday night’s Issues, we reported the death of the reality t.v. star who was wanted in connection with the death and dismemberment of his ex-wife.  He apparently hanged himself in a Canadian motel room.  As a shrink, I’m against suicide of course, but as an American, I say good riddance — no complicated capital-case extradition proceedings to get Jenkins back from the Canadians, and no massively expensive death penalty trial here in the U.S.  There’s at least one woman still under investigation for allegedly helping this guy while he was on the run (by booking and paying for the motel room on his behalf).  I want to know if that’s all she did or if she helped in more nefarious ways, like in the actual killing/dismemberment, and whatever she did, I want to know if she did it completely voluntarily or if she was under some kind of threat.  Depending on the answers to those questions, she may be an accomplice or an accessory after the fact to murder, and if she’s either or both of those things, we may need a trial in this case yet.

Also on Tuesday night’s Issues, we discussed the sentencing of rapper Chris Brown — as I predicted, he got the five years’ probation plus community service and counseling that had been agreed upon by the prosecution and defense, but the judge also ordered Brown to stay away from the victim of Brown’s violent tantrum, singer Rhianna, for five years.  It’s not really “celebrity justice” because, unfortunately, weak sentences like this are given to violent offenders all across this country every day.  At least the judge made sure that the community service will involve hard physical labor and also tried to look out for Rhianna, whose intellectual ability to look out for herself (i.e. to not give Brown a second — or third, or fourth based on unconfirmed reports of previous incidents — chance) is still in question.

A 29-year-old California woman who went missing at age 11 has been found…alive…with two kids, both apparently fathered by her captor and imprisoned along with her by him…andhis wife!  It’s disgustingly reminiscent of the Austrian dungeon case that you’ll recall if you’re a regular reader and/or viewer.  We discussed the current case on Thursday evening’s Prime News and Campbell Brown.  What happened to this woman and her two children is nightmarishly horrifying, and my utter disgust is compounded by the fact that he’s yetanother monster who never should’ve been free to commit these crimes — he reportedly had received a 50-year sentence for a previous kidnapping and rape but was paroledearly!  One report says he’s already blaming drug use early in life for messing up his brain to the point that he committed these horrific acts.  That’s a load of crap.  Another report says he’s talking in jail about how his treatment of the now-29-year-old woman from the time she was 11 years old was some kind of spiritual bonding experience between the two.  That’s a load of crap, too.  Sounds to me like he’s trying to set up some kind of insanity defense.  There is no mental diagnosis that explains this behavior ladies and gentlemen.  Like it or not, this is where psychology dead ends at evil.  And I’m including the guy’s wife in that as well.  I don’t want to hear any sob stories from her about how drugs ruined her brain or how terrorized she was by him, etc.  As happened in the Elizabeth Smart and Shawn Hornbeck cases, many in the media are talking about “Stockholm Syndrome” — a psychological phenomenon named after a 1970’s bank robbery in Stockholm in which captives start to identify, sympathize, and even potentially collaborate with their captors (see my previous post dated 1/16/2007).  I believe that can happen, but I believe it’s extremely rare, and I believe there usually are better explanations for why a captive might not have seized opportunities to escape.  One is the phenomenon of “learned helplessness” or “accommodation” in which a person truly convinced that there’s no hope of ever escaping his/her fate stops trying to change it and tries instead to “make the best of it” in various ways.  Another is ongoing duress, not just in the form of threats to one’s own safety but also in the form of threats to the safety of others.  This woman’s oldest child is apparently 15 years old, so if you do that math, that means she’s been a mother since the age of 14 and may have been pregnant even earlier.  She may therefore have cooperated to some extent with her captors in order to protect her child and later, children.  Given that she apparently was raped early in her imprisonment, and that her children are now apparently aged 11 and 15, I think it’s disgustingly likely that the children have been similarly victimized.  So can these three victims ever recover any semblance of normal lives?  That’s a tough one to answer without examining them personally, so I have to hold out hope that it’s possible on some meaningful level.  Obviously their lives will never be the same, but are they completely ruined, completely without the possibility of ever experiencing joy?  I hope not.  It’s difficult to know where to even begin in the treatment of such unprecedented emotional traumas, but I would agree with Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart and a guest on Thursday night’s show, that the probable place to start is with tons of assurance and reassurance that they’re finally safe and that they’re loved.

Study this:  A new study of women who excel in male-dominated occupations found that those women’s testosterone levels are higher than those of most women, suggesting for that there’s a physiological component to heightened levels of occupational aggressiveness and/or risk tolerance among some women.

OK, think we’re up to date!

Surprise, surprise 8/23/09

Prepare to be shocked — the reality t.v. guy who’s the subject of an international manhunt in connection with the gruesome murder of his ex- (their exact relationship status has been confusing everyone, but today it looks like she was actually an “ex”-) wife reportedly has a history of…guess…yes, you guessed it…domestic violence…in his relationship with her.  Now, as I always have to do in these situations, I have to say that I’m not blaming the victim — she didn’t kill herself, pull her teeth out, and cut off her fingers; someone else did that, and that’s who’s responsible, period.  However, until we live in a perfect world where these things don’t happen, women have got to wise up about getting themselves and their children (there were no children in this case, thankfully, but too often, it’s not just a woman but also a child who end up dead) away from guys at the first signs of violence.  I know there are women out there who’ll see this story, read this blog, and watch me say this on t.v. this week and stillthink that they’d be able to spot a guy who had the potential to threaten their lives and/or the lives of their children.  Yeah, right — the point at which a person’s violent tendencies will escalate to a life-threatening level can be difficult for trained professionals to predict, and an untrained person with strong emotions in play is likely to be even farther off the mark.  Here’s the thing:  If you’re with someone who’s exhibited a propensity to become violent toward you and/or your child, and you think it’s not going to escalate, I think you’re stupid.  Get smart, and get out, before you get seriously hurt or killed.  There, can’t get much more blunt than that, just looking out for you.  (An Ohio teen got out recently, but whether she needed to or not remains to be determined by a Florida court.  The 17-year-old converted from Islam to Christianity and reportedly claims that her father then threatened an “honor killing,” at which point she fled by bus to Florida and sought refuge with a Christian couple whom she met online.  The girl’s father and mother apparently want her to come home and claim that she’s in no danger, but for the moment, a Florida judge has placed her in Florida state custody until an independent risk assessment can be made.)

There’s been another prison riot, this time in Kentucky.  Seems like there’s a rash of these incidents around the country this summer, and if you want my solution, see my post dated 7/6/09.  Caution:  You may find it shocking!

Study this:  New guidelines for physicians advise weighing the risks and benefits of prescribing antidepressants to pregnant women very carefully due to the potential for birth defects.  In cases of severe, e.g. suicidal, depression, the guidelines suggest that the benefits of antidepressants may outweigh the risks, but in moderate and mild cases, psychotherapy is suggested as a potential alternative — one that I’d strongly encourage pregnant women with depression symptoms to investigate.  (In any case, the multiple options that psychiatry and psychology have to treat depression during pregnancy completely belie abortionists’ contention that abortions are needed to alleviate pregnant women’s depression symptoms.)

Wrapping up the week 8/21/09

Edwards update:  It’s widely expected that disgraced former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards will soon be identified as the father of the child born to the campaign staffer with whom the dirtbag had an extramarital affair.  This story broke right about this time last year, and I talked and wrote about it extensively (the various posts about it are in the archives), predicting this outcome.  There’s also an investigation underway to determine whether campaign funds were used illegally to try to keep the mistress quiet and comfortable while Edwards’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was ongoing.  Rumor also has it that the mistress and child are moving into Edwards’ neighborhood so that Edwards can be involved in the child’s life.  Good for the baby to have an involved father, but this certainly isn’t “Father of the Year” — just ask his wife and his other children, for whom it’s probably quite hurtful.  See the damage that affairs do?  See how destructive these kinds of betrayals are?  See how selfish, not to mention dishonest, a person has to be to be willing to subject his “loved” ones to this sort of fallout (and in Edwards’ case, as I pointed out repeatedly last year, he was also willing to subject himself to potential blackmail as President of the United States, which could’ve compromised all of our security)!  The people who call these shows that I’m on and tell me that this sort of thing is irrelevant to their assessments of political candidates really need to rethink that!

Update on chaos in the world of “reality” t.v.:  Remember the guy from Megan wants to Marry a Millionaire who’s wanted in connection with the murder of his wife (at first she was dubbed a girlfriend, but apparently they were married) whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase?  Well, he’s still missing, thought to have fled to Canada.  He’s from there, and if he’s caught there, it could spare him the death penalty — Canada generally doesn’t extradite people to face trial in other countries, even the U.S., if they’re facing the death penalty, so in order to get him back here, the prosecutor here may have to take that off the table, but Canada could also waive that requirement if there are deemed to be “exceptional circumstances,” which there may be (read on).  What we now know about the condition in which the woman’s body was found is chilling:  Her teeth had been pulled out and her fingers cut off, presumably to make identification of her more difficult (thankfully, breast implants have serial numbers).  For most people, just being around a dead body is unsettling, so it takes one hard-core, stone-cold psychopath to not only murder someone but to also cut off fingers and pull out teeth afterward (hope it was afterward).  Maybe it was the reality-show guy (that’s my bet), maybe someone else, but for sure there’s a very dangerous person out there who needs to be caught (I recommend that adult female readers especially Google this story and look at the reality-show guy’s photo so you’d know him if you saw him).

Speaking of gruesome:  There’s a new t.v. commercial airing in the U.K. about the dangers of sending text messages while driving.  In it, a teenaged girl is texting while driving and causes a horrific accident.  Some have questioned whether the commercial is too graphic, but if I had a child who had a cell phone with text-messaging capability, I’d want him or her to see it because I don’t think teenagers’ risk assessments often are accurate enough to be influenced much by nuances (due to neurodevelopmental factors, lack of life experience, living relatively healthy and carefree lives, etc.).  If you’re a parent of a texting teen, decide for yourself of course, and if you’re unsure, consult a professional you trust in your area.

Amnesia guy:  A 50-something man who turned up in a Seattle park three weeks ago not knowing who he was or how he got there has been identified as a highly-educated, well-traveled academic.  How he lost his identification and most of his memories of the past five decades remains a mystery though.  Total or near-total “retrograde” amnesia (inability to recall previously-formed memories, as opposed to “anterograde,” which is the inability to form new memories) is a very rare condition.  Authorities in Seattle don’t seem to doubt the man’s claims, he doesn’t appear to have suffered a head injury, and it doesn’t look like some kind of age- or Alzheimer’s-related dementia, so other hypotheses include perhaps a massive internal head injury (i.e. a stroke) or some kind of substance-induced condition (not the “Korsakoff’s” type, which is brought on by long-term alcohol abuse, something much faster-acting, perhaps even involving some kind of foul play).  He doesn’t appear to have anterograde amnesia, however, which suggests that the brain structures involved in memory retrieval are functional in this guy.  “Dissociative” amnesia, which is retrograde amnesia after a psychologically-traumatic event, is a possible differential diagnosis, but it would have to be extremely severe because this amnesia is reportedly quite “global” (encompasses most of his memories of his entire past rather than being circumscribed around a particularly-traumatic period of time).  It’s possible that he experienced something so traumatic recently that his brain is blocking the retrieval of just about everything, including memories of the traumatic event, and if that’s what’s going on, it’s likely that memories will trickle back into his consciousness with time.  In any case, I hope his memory improves, mostly for his sake, but also so he can help us figure out what the heck happened to him.

Another adult “cyber-bully” in Missouri:  Remember how frustrated most of us were earlier this year when the criminal case against the “Monstrous MySpace Mom” (the Missouri woman who set up the fake MySpace profile that apparently led to the suicide of a 13-year-old girl) was dropped?  Well, believe it or not, there’s now another Missouri woman facing charges of “cyber-bullying” under the law that was enacted in response to that previous case.  This new woman allegedly placed a bogus ad on Craigslist, picture included, suggesting that her ex-husband’s current girlfriend’s 17-year-old daughter was looking for sex, which resulted in strange men trying to contact the girl and scaring the hell out of her.  At least the pending felony charge shows that we’re moving in the right direction here in the heartland (and hopefully all across the U.S.A.) in terms of providing legal protections for victims of this sort of thing!

The psychopolitics of health care reform:  On Wednesday, President Obama told a group of religious leaders that we need to implement his health care reform plan because it’s our “moral obligation” to take care of one another.  OK, this provides me with an irresistible opportunity to, once again, delineate for folks (including the President) the difference between societal obligations and governmental obligations.  As someone who has extensively studied how people behave (Ph.D., psychology), when and how people’s behavior should be regulated (J.D., law), and how to get people to be their most productive (M.B.A., business), I’m an expert in this (much more so than the President), so here goes:  Most people agree that we have a moral obligation to look out for those who can’t look out for themselves, and some (including the President) even feel that we have a moral obligation to also look out for those who choose not to look out for themselves, but either way, that’s not what we established a government for.  The public education system has been utterly failing, for the past few decades, to teach Americans the purposes of having a government, which must be limited to prevent eventual tyranny.  A society made up of free people forms a government — a rule-making body to which they subject themselves, each giving up some of his/her individual liberty — because they’re actually more free with it than without it.  It gives them two things:  security (the threat of coordinated group force to defend individuals and their property from enemies, both inside and outside of the group) and an infrastructure in which they can maximize their potentials as human beings (accomplishes things that individuals couldn’t accomplish on their own, like building systems of roads, creating a reliable currency, etc., which enable them to get around and work and trade with one another and meet each other’s needs at much higher levels than could be achieved if it were every man/woman for him/herself).  Governmental obligations then are simple and straightforward:  provide security from threats and build/maintain the infrastructure in which free individuals can live and be productive among and for each other.  A society made up of free people does not form a government in order to meet each individual’s day-to-day needs.  The members of the society are supposed to do that.  The obligation to help those who are incapable of meeting their own day-to-day needs (which, thankfully, is a relatively small portion of the human population) is a societal obligation, not a governmental obligation.  It’s for moral members of the society at large (which, thankfully, is most members) to do, voluntarily, individually and/or by joining/supporting organizations of individuals who freely associate for that purpose.  Continually expanding the “obligations” of government beyond the provision of security and infrastructure is a pathway to both economic stagnation (because it keeps requiring more and more of people’s productivity to be confiscated through taxation and/or debt to be paid through future taxation) and tyranny (because it keeps increasing the roles and power of the government in people’s lives).  As President Gerald Ford said, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.”  Americans (including the President) have got to start understanding the legitimate purposes of a government and the difference between societal obligations and governmental obligations, or our days as the world’s leading nation are numbered.  (There aresome legitimate things that the government can do to improve people’s access to health care in America, like passing legislation to allow people to purchase coverage from companies located anywhere in the 50 states, which would greatly increase competition among insurers, and if you’re interested, you can read more about those in “Dr. Brian’s Rx for health care” dated 9/9/08 for the time of your life this weekend.)

3 updates, another monstrous drug-abusing parent, reality TV chaos, and a groovy “study this” 8/19/09

Jackson update:  We’re hearing now that Michael Jackson’s personal physician is expected to be arrested within days for the alleged manslaughter of Jackson (presumably by administering the surgical-strength sedative that apparently killed the singer)!  And – you heard this here first – it’s also expected that charges related to medical malpractice will soon be filed against Jackson’s dermatologist (presumably for countenancing cosmetic procedures after it was clear that such further procedures could not be completed with a reasonable degree of safety and success)!  I believe that Jackson probably suffered from some kind of “dysmorphic” disorder, whereby his own appearance was obsessively repugnant to him even back when it was well within the realm of normalcy.  At some point, I think the cosmetic doctor(s) had a duty to say something like “enough is enough, you’re crazy, we can’t take any more nose off of you with a reasonable chance of a safe, successful outcome”!  What it seems was done instead, I think, was akin to amputating the arm of someone with Body Integrity Identity Disorder (e.g. someone who believed the arm was possessed by a demon) – we send those people to shrinks, not surgeons!  Stay tuned.

Manwill update:  There’ve been arrests in connection with the death of little Robert Manwill, the Idaho boy who was found floating in a drainage canal a couple of weeks ago.  Surprise, surprise (not really – you heard this here first, too! – seeing mothers who appear to have been complicit in their children’s deaths crying their crocodile tears on our air after the children turn up dead makes me sick) the mother and the mother’s boyfriend are in custody.  The boyfriend is alleged to have beaten the child, with the mother’s approval, on multiple occasions, ultimately killing him, after which the pair allegedly disposed of the body in the canal.  Remember, this allegedly occurred even though the mother was known to have cracked the skull of Robert’s younger sibling!  Just as I said on HLN when the story first broke – I realize that the perpetrators are the only ones directly responsible for the crime, but indirectly speaking, this is one of the more stunning and heartbreaking failures of child protective services that I’ve ever covered.  As far as I’m concerned, we don’t have “cash for clunkers” (or much of anything else other than what’s necessary to keep the country in existence) until we get kids protected from violent adults across the U.S.A.  (Sadly, I just heard about another case, this one in California – a mother ended up beheading her four-year-old child after showing up in a state of stark raving lunacy at the boy’s preschool months earlier, and despite a school official’s reported call to child protective services, no one apparently stepped in to protect the boy.)

Virginia Tech update:  Remember those missing campus mental health records involving the Virginia Tech shooter that finally turned up a couple of weeks ago?  Well, the shooter’s family has apparently allowed some of the contents to be released, and one thing we’ve learned is that the shooter reportedly was asked over a year prior to the shootings whether he was having homicidal thoughts, which he reportedly denied at that time.  As more details from the records come out, we may see some devolution into homicidal mania, but if we do I’ll be a little surprised.  My guess is that he was homicidal long before the shootings and that he was just psychopathic enough to keep denying it at least somewhat convincingly.  Even if the campus counseling staff legitimately had no clue how dangerous this guy was, I still think that when his disturbed behavior eventually landed him before a judge, the judge should’ve ordered him into a mental health treatment facility rather than letting him go voluntarily.  Two reasons:  1) People who check in voluntarily can check out voluntarily (as the shooter did), and 2) Voluntary mental hospital admissions don’t end up in the database that gets checked before people are allowed to buy guns (which might’ve prevented the shooter from buying guns legally).  A longer hospital stay and/or more difficulty accessing guns may not have made a difference ultimately, but then again, they may have.

A Texas woman has been sentenced to 99 years in prison, of which she’ll have to serve at least 30, for cutting off her infant son’s genitals while high on drugs.  She claimed the family dog did it.  Needless to say, I feel terrible for this child and what he’ll have to go through in life (I have no idea what, if anything, surgeons can do for him, but if they can turn women into men, then I guess there’s some reason to hope for at least some improvement in his condition), but as in the case of the drunk/high-driving mother who recently killed herself and seven others by driving the wrong way on a New York highway (the one whose husband’s lawyer laughably blamed it on the oral anesthetic Anbesol last week), I want to know where the other parent was when this infant was mutilated, whether he knew or should’ve known how dangerous the mother was, etc.  Apparently, this woman had a long history of drug use and drug-related run-ins with the law.  I think we have far too many parents in denial about their spouses’ and significant others’ drug/alcohol abuse and the dangers it poses to their children, and I think the deniers contribute to child endangerment by allowing children to be in the care of irresponsible and dangerous substance-abusing adults.  And, I don’t think that education’s enough to stem this tide – I think we need some high-profile prosecutions of what amount to child-abuse enablers.  Let’s get parents worried about being held responsible, at least partially, for bad things that might happen if they voluntarily leave their children alone with someone who’s known to engage in dangerous behaviors, even if that someone is the child(ren)’s other parent.

If you’re a regular reader and/or viewer, you know how I feel about the idiots on the various “reality” TV shows and the idiots at home who rearrange their lives each week to watch these shows.  I’ve written and spoken recently about The Cougar and Jon & Kate, but if you need more examples, here goes:  Someone from So You Think You Can Dance is in custody facing multiple counts of raping aspiring young dancers; Hulk Hogan’s daughter Brooke, an aspiring (if not inspiring) singer, apparently has had to cancel at least one performance due to “anxiety attacks” brought on by all of the chaos in that family (but hey, Hogan Knows Best, right?); Richard Hatch, former Survivor champion is back in custody, allegedly for a parole violation, after serving time previously for tax evasion; and a male contestant from the show Megan Wants to Marry a Millionaire is wanted for questioning after his alleged girlfriend, an aspiring model, was found dead, stuffed in a suitcase.  Why so many Americans find these people and these shows worth their time continues to astound me!

Finally tonight, study this:  A new study found that many hippies are still “feelin’ groovy” in the new millennium.  Nearly 10% of respondents in their 50’s reported some current illicit drug use, which is about double the percentage observed in previous generations.  On a related note, researchers in British Columbia are advocating “medical heroin” – that’s right, medical heroin – using actual heroin rather than the heroin substitute methadone in the treatment of heroin addiction and just gradually weaning addicts off of the stuff in controlled settings.  Do I even have to tell you what I think of implementing that idea, medical heroin, in the U.S.A.?  (Just in case:  I don’t want doctors dealing marijuana to people, so I certainly don’t want them dealing heroin!)

2 disturbing disappearances and an all-military “study this” 8/19/09

On Monday’s Prime News, we discussed two disappearances — one of a Georgia woman who disappeared while going for a walk and reportedly was heard by her boyfriend (on a cell phone) to have said “Please don’t take me” as the abduction happened, and the other of a young California boy who disappeared from a shopping mall parking lot while his foster father reportedly briefly went into a store.  As you know if you watched, there’s something fishy about both stories to me, and while I’m open to the possibility of random violence in both instances, I’m interested in hearing more about the people involved in the lives of both victims.  The woman’s choice of words, the fact that she was on a cell phone at the time, the rural location from which she disappeared, the fact that her walks were a routine for her, the fact that she worked as a probation officer, and the fact that she apparently had a complex relationship history (three ex-husbands while still in her 30’s) all lead me to suspect that she was targeted (and even though her boyfriend reportedly has been confirmed to have been in another city at the time of the kidnapping, I want to know why he reportedly waited and called the woman’s mother before calling 911 after hearing the reported foreboding “Please don’t take me” utterance).  The facts that the little boy was disabled (wore leg braces and couldn’t have gotten far if he’d walked off on his own) and that there seems to be, again, a lot of family complexity (foster parents, step parents, biological parents, aunts married to foster parents (1), custody issues, etc. — as soon as I start hearing about multiple people who may have strong negative feelings toward a child and/or toward that child’s caregiver(s), I start looking closely at the people around that child) cause me some doubt that this, too, was a random, opportunistic act.  When people are targeted for violence, that of course makes it more likely that something bad’s going to happen to them, but when they do in fact go missing, if we can at least identify who had it in for them, law enforcement can sometimes get to them more quickly than if a completely-random perpetrator were involved.  In any case, hopefully both of these victims will be found soon and alive

Now, an all-military “Study this”:

Military “Study this” no. 1:  Collateral damage associated with military deployments can happen far from the battlefield.  A new study found that children of deployed servicemen and women were more than twice as likely as other children to need psychological services.  The study confirms how stressful a parental deployment can be for a child, but there was an interesting twist in the findings.  A lot of the stress experienced by children appeared to be caused indirectly – the absence of a deployed parent seemed to cause a significant increase in the level of stress experienced by the parent remaining at home, which then seemed to cause a significant increase in the level(s) of stress experienced by the child(ren) in the home.  The findings underscore the importance both of efforts to maintain strong emotional connections between children and their deployed parents and of adult social support networks for the spouses of deployed servicemen and women.

Military “Study this” no. 2:  Recent studies have shown an increase in suicides and suicidal ideation among servicemen and women (see my previous post dated January 31, 2009).  The U.S. military is responding by implementing an anti-suicide program based on the research of Dr. Martin Seligman, whose work in the area of “positive psychology” (focusing on what’s right with mentally-healthy people rather than just on what’s wrong with mentally-ill people) I’ve applauded.  Data show that, compared to their peers, servicemen and women who become suicidal are generally in the lowest quartile on various measures of emotional and physical health.  The new program is designed to counter the negative cognitive and behavioral habits to which some members of the military seem be susceptible (especially under stressful deployment conditions) by proactively teaching servicemen and women thought patterns and skills practiced by mentally-resilient people in the hopes that they’ll serve as buffers against suicidal ideation.

The “Anbesol defense,” Mr. Vick goes to Philly, and 3 KS stories 8/13/09

On Thursday night’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell (with my friend Vinnie Politan filling in for Jane) we discussed the “Anbesol defense” — make that the “imbecile defense”!  An attorney representing the husband of the New York woman who killed eight people (including herself) while driving heavily intoxicated last week says it wasn’t alcoholic beverages or pot (even though both reportedly were found to have been in her bloodstream in significant quantities) that made his wife incapable of driving safely.  No, he says it was the over-the-counter oral anesthetic Anbesol, which the woman reportedly was using to relieve toothache pain.  Yeah right!  As I said on the show, the alcohol in Anbesol is benzyl alcohol, not the same as the ethyl alcohol found in adult beverages, but even if, in theory, a person could get “drunk” on Anbesol, do you know how many cases of the stuff the person would have to drink???  The Mays family (see yesterday’s post) may just be in denial about their loved one’s substance abuse, and so might this guy, but he has an added motivation to lie — if he knew that his wife was a substance abuser and let children ride in the car with her anyway, he may be looking at child-endangerment charges.  If that’s what’s going on, I think he’ll have to do better than the Anbesol defense.  (By the way, alcohol and pot can be a particularly dangerous combo when the alcohol’s making someone uninhibited, i.e. bold, at the same time the pot’s impairing that person’s judgment, i.e. making the person stupid — a bold, stupid person can do a lot of damage!)

In other news, Michael Vick is back in the NFL — he just signed a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, which I’m sure makes all of you in Philly proud!  (Just kidding about the pride, no need to write me!)

In Kansas news (some people think nothing happens here in “flyover country”), I’m pleased to report the conviction of a man who was accused of becoming enraged in late 2007 upon learning that his ex-girlfriend was with another man, going to her apartment, breaking in, chasing the other man away, strangling the girl unconscious, mutilating her genital region, and dragging her bleeding body into a car before being stopped by police.  The defendant actually argued that he had gone to the apartment out of concern that the girl was unsafe with the other man and that she injured herself by falling on a bedpost.  The evidence was overwhelming though, and the defendant — make that convict — is headed to prison for at least four-and-a-half years (hopefully longer)!

In other Kansas news, I’m saddened to report that a psychiatrist who used to work for the Veterans Administration health system in which I completed my clinical internship has been indicted on federal charges of writing bogus prescriptions in order to obtain controlled substances for apparent recreational use.  It’s the kind of thing I’ve written about in my “Hollywood Health Care” posts involving celebrities, but there are no celebrities involved in this case, just Kansans who counted on the guy to help them.  I met him just a couple of times because he only came to my hospital for training, and I’ve reviewed his reports a couple of times since then as an expert witness.  Doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing him or his work again anytime soon.

Finally tonight, I had a chance to talk with U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas this afternoon about health care and other issues, and it sounded like he understood some of the major flaws in the proposed health care reform bill.  Now, if only I could get the rest of Congress to get it!

Odds & ends 8/12/09

First, the odds:

A Brazilian politician and true-crime TV show host is being accused of actually orchestrating the murders of political opponents for the dual purposes of eliminating the opposition and boosting his ratings.  Apparently, his camera crews were on the crime scenes before anyone else, raising suspicion that the host somehow had advance knowledge that the murders were going to happen.  Stay tuned, and if you’re interested in the media coverage of true-crime stories here in the U.S.A., check out my recent post “Why some cases get national TV coverage and others don’t” dated 7/20/09 (if you haven’t already)

A Florida woman is mad at YouTube because her 13-year-old son apparently set fire to his leg in an attempt to imitate a stunt that he saw on the Internet video site.  Hmmm, or could it be that she needs to watch some videos on effective parenting and supervision of children?  Believe it or not, there’s another human fire-setting story in today’s news — a young Greek woman apparently poured an adult beverage down the front of a young British man in a Cretan night club, reportedly to ward off his advances, and when he persisted, she allegedly produced a lighter and set fire to the alcohol and, well, the young man’s “front.”  (He’s recovering, and she’s facing charges despite arguing that she “fired” in self-defense).

A woman has been taken for a psychological evaluation after throwing a mug at the Mona Lisa inside the Louvre.  No word yet on why she hates Mona so much.  Wish I were the one who gets to do this evaluation though!

The head basketball coach of the University of Louisville is at the center of an alleged abortion extortion plot.  Apparently, he had an extra-marital affair six years ago and impregnated the woman, who had an abortion at the coach’s expense and proceeded thereafter to blackmail him for more money.  Well, I don’t like blackmailers, and if she did it, I hope she gets convicted and serves some serious time in prison, BUT how sorry can I feel for the worthless jerk of a coach who cheated on his wife and thereby jeopardized not only his relationship with her but also his relationship with his children?  Not very.

Now here’s a new one, even on this blog!  Mouse molestation?  Yes, a 60-year-old Florida man has been sentenced to write an apology letter, pay a $1000 fine, perform 50 hours of community service, and be on probation for six months for touching the Minnie Mouse character in an inappropriate way at Disney World.  (Before anyone writes to me, yes, I know that it’s actually a person inside the costume, and yes, I agree that sexual battery is serious and must be punished even when the victim is in a mouse suit.)

Now, the ends

The coroner’s report on the death of TV pitchman Billy Mays is in, and he reportedly had a drug cocktail including cocaine, benzodiazepines, and prescription painkillers in his system at the time of his death.  Celebrity after celebrity, death after death, a “Hollywood health care” crisis becomes more and more evident (by the way, a pharmacy has now been raided by investigators working on the Michael Jackson case).  Mays’ family reportedly claims not to have known Mays was a substance abuser.  The family of the druggie, drunk-driving mother who killed eight people in New York last week said the same thing, and while I doubt it in both cases, I actually feel sorry for Mays’ family.  In the drunk/high-driving case, I think that the woman’s family probably could’ve done something to prevent her from harming others.  In Mays’ case, he only harmed himself, yet his family’s having to deal with public embarrassment on top of grief just because he was famous.

A Georgia man has finally been released from a child-support obligation that he never should’ve had.  It seems that a woman with whom the man had had a brief relationship deceived him into thinking that he was the father of her child, and unlike too many real fathers in this country, he stepped up and paid support.  Not only that, but when he later learned that he was not in fact the child’s father, he continued to pay child support until he started struggling financially last year, stopped paying, and was thrown in jail!  Well, apparently it’s all been sorted out, and the guy’s out of jail.  Now, let’s explore the possibility of the mother going in (to jail) and the guy taking care of the kid while she’s there (he sounds a lot more decent than she does).  Maybe she can make some license plates and send him some child support!

And finally tonight, study this:  A new study found that the link between antidepressants and increased suicidal thinking seems to be stronger in younger patients than in older patients — just another reason to be thinking very carefully about whether we really want to be feeding psych meds to kids at younger and younger ages.  Another new study has confirmed that a healthy diet and exercise routine can reduce the likelihood that a person will develop dementia later in life — just one more reason to eat something healthy and do something active this weekend!

A Jackson update, allegedly-felonious Floridians, psychopolitics, & a half-full “study this” 8/11/09

Jackson update:  Surprise, surprise, there’s apparently another person claiming to be the father of one of Michael Jackson’s children.  A British man purported to be the godfather of Jackson’s daughter Paris reportedly has claimed also to be her biological father.  Stay tuned.

Cummings update:  Still no word on the whereabouts of Haleigh Cummings, the little Florida girl who’s been missing for over six months now.  There’s word on her father though — another big shocker:  he’s been arrested for battery.  As you know if you’re a regular HLN viewer, I’m not a fan of Mr. Cummings, and I think his irresponsible, volatile lifestyle probably contributed to setting up the circumstances in which someone was able to abduct his daughter.  The only good to possibly come out of this latest arrest story is that maybe it will remind people to be on the lookout for little Haleigh.

In other news from Florida, a newlywed has been arrested for attempting to hire a hitman to kill her husband of less than a year.  It was classic how the cops set her up, telling her that her husband had been found murdered and letting her put on a C-movie-caliber grief act before informing her that her husband was very much alive and that she was under arrest.  This gives me an idea for a new show, patterned after NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” (wherein they set up would-be child molesters) — how about “To Catch a Widowmaker” with me as host?

Had enough Florida news?  There’s more!  Get this:  A Florida man who was arrested for having child pornography on his computer has raised a novel defense — his cat did it!  He claims that his cat jumped up on his keyboard and pressed buttons that resulted in child-porn images being downloaded to his computer without his knowledge.  Hmmm, I know we just heard about how the average dog’s I.Q. might be as high as a human two-year-old’s, but a cat with an I.Q. high enough to use a computer???  Sounds like litter to me.

The psychopolitics of health care:  We’ve all heard a lot of debate about health care this year, most of it about the practicality of one proposed reform after another, but at the root of it all is this — as an expert in human behavior (Ph.D. in psychology), the regulation of human behavior (J.D.), and the channeling of human behavior into productivity (M.B.A.), I can tell you with absolute certainty that while there’s no way for any society to guarantee that every member’s every need will be met every day,capitalism is, far and away, the very best way to guarantee the highest standard of living (including health care) to the greatest number of people within a society (by 1) empowering most members to be productive enough to obtain what they need on their own, and 2) empowering many members to be productive enough not only to meet their own needs but also to generously contribute to meeting the needs of the relatively few truly incapable members).  All you have to do to understand that is to look at how the United States of America, in just a couple of centuries, surpassed the standards of living (including health care) of every other nation on Earth, including nations that have existed for hundreds, even thousands, of years.  Capitalism did that.  The results aren’t perfect, but they’re far superior to anything you could ever hope to get from socialism.

Finally tonight, study this:  A new study confirms that pessimism can be hazardous to people’s health, exacerbating and accelerating conditions such as heart disease.  Hmmm, wonder if maybe some of the many Americans who aren’t acutely or chronically ill but are still disgruntled with the current health care system spent a little more time thinking about what they do have and a little less time thinking about what they don’t have, they wouldn’t need as much health care in the long run!

Stormy nights 8/10/09

It’s a stormy night in Lawrence, Kansas tonight, and it got me thinking about why I, like most adults it seems, enjoy nights like this.  I actually think there’s an evolutionary psychological explanation for it.  Like the rest of the animal kingdom, we humans have a very strong “drive to survive,” made up of instinctive desires to get what we need to survive and instinctive fears of threats to our survival.  (There’s an important difference between humans and animals because humans have an additional drive to survive beyond this life — to live on in Heaven, in people’s memories, in our lasting creations, in the history books, etc. — but tonight, I’m talking physical survival.)  Maslow proposed a hierarchy of human needs that starts with our most basic survival needs (food, water, etc.).  I think this partly explains why almost everyone seems to find calm water scenes (ocean, lake, or river views) soothing — when we see a large expanse of water, it puts us at ease because it makes us feel that at least one of our primary needs is met in abundance (I know, you can’t survive on salt water, but we’re talking basic instinct here, work with me).  In addition to sharing strong drives to meet our basic survival needs, I think Darwin would agree that the “fittest” of primitive humans (our ancestors who survived long enough to pass their genes along) also shared a healthy fear of things that could kill them, like raging torrents of water, explosions, etc.  So, when it’s dark, and there are loud noises and torrential downpours and explosive flashes of light outside, yet we’re able to still feel safe and secure in our beds, I think it gives us an extra-satisfying, empowering, and soothing sense of mastery over our environment, in which we can sort of “savor our survival,” which I think is at least part of the reason why we like it so much.

Manson murders’ 40th, a breastfeeding boozer, and a fluffy “study this” 8/9/09

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Manson murders — in which at least seven people were killed over two successive nights in California.  I say “at least” because there’s been speculation that Manson’s followers, a rag-tag gang of hippies, may have killed others, perhaps transients who stumbled upon the gang’s remote compound, whose disappearances went unreported (see my previous post “More Manson murders?” dated March 17, 2008 if you’re interested).

A Florida woman was sentenced on Friday to six months — some of it to be served in a substance-abuse treatment program and the remainder in home detention with work release — for breastfeeding her baby while intoxicated last spring.  What’s unbelievable to me is that some people are actually debating whether what she did is child abuse.  Really?  I think it should be considered child abuse for a woman to be intoxicated while pregnant, let alone while breastfeeding.  Talk about an adult putting her wants above the needs of a child!  No shocker here, the same woman was arrested again later on Friday, the same day, for allegedly fighting with a neighbor and slashing the neighbor’s tires.  Clearly, this is a woman whose judgment and fitness to parent have to be seriously questioned, and I hope Florida’s child protective services are doing that because this is the kind of behavior that makes me worry about a future Robert Manwill situation (see last Wednesday’s post).

Study this:  On a lighter note from the APA’s annual convention this weekend, a psychologist who studies canine behavior theorized that the average intelligence of a dog is roughly equivalent to that of a human at two years of age.  (No word on how a dog’s I.Q. would compare to the I.Q. of the drunken breastfeeder in the previous story, but my money’s on the dog.)

P.S.  Roughly 250 inmates have been injured in a prison riot in California.  Sounds like prison officials across the country need to start reading here regularly!  (See my previous post dated July 6, 2009.)

Death at Chinese Internet addiction “boot camp” and a puzzling “study this” 8/6/09

Believe it or not, the Chinese government reportedly estimates that approximately ten percent of that country’s 300,000,000+ Internet users are “addicted to the worldwide web.  In fact, Internet-addiction “boot camps,” which reportedly used electric shock aversion therapy until recently, have been established there, and in one such camp, a 15-year-old boy reportedly has died after being beaten by camp staff.  Chinese authorities are investigating.  For more of my thoughts on kids’ electronic “addictions,” see my previous post dated April 20, 2009.

Now, on a positive note, study this:  Lately, I’ve told you about several factors that studies have shown to correlate with elevated risk of developing dementia.  Well, here’s one that seems to reduce the risk, and it’s even fun:  A new study has added to the body of evidence that playing games and doing puzzles seem to keep the brain nimble as it ages — just another reason to engage your mind in something fun and challenging this weekend.

Once gay, always gay, says APA 8/6/09

The American Psychological Association’s annual convention is underway in Toronto (not a member but attended their convention last time it was held there — great city), and that organization has released a position paper on the feasibility of changing a person’s sexual orientation through psychotherapy.  As I understand it, the APA essentially is saying that a person’s sexual orientation is fixed at birth and practically cannot be changed thereafter, no matter how upsetting it may be to the person (e.g. a devout Christian who believes it’s sinful to act on homosexual attraction).  I’m inclined to agree that the likelihood of changing someone’s sexual orientation through psychotherapy is low, but as usual, I think the APA’s position is based partly in science and partly in ideology.  I think that most APA members believe there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality so strongly that some put their own agendas above potential patients’ agendas.  As a straight, Christian man, I happen to agree with APA members who believe there’s nothing “wrong” with homosexuality.  I don’t have a moral objection to it, don’t think it’s “sinful,” don’t think it’s really any of my business, don’t want anyone to be mistreated because of his or her sexual orientation, etc., but it does interfere with people’s abilities to procreate, and we’d at least consider giving clinical attention to anything else that had that effect.  When it comes to counseling people who are troubled by same-sex attraction (personally, I don’t offer that type of counseling) though, I don’t think it really should be about what we psychologists believe — it’s about what our patients believe.  In other words, if someone comes to us in deep distress because he or she is sexually attracted to members of his or her same sex, I don’t think it’s up to us to just immediately say, “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with you, so we won’t even discuss the idea of helping you try to change yourself; if anything, we’ll just help you try to accept yourself as you are.”  In many, even most such cases, that may in fact be the right conceptualization (articulated more sensitively of course), but I think in some ways APA does to gays and lesbians exactly what it decries in just about every other instance — treating all members of the group as if they’re exactly alike instead of looking at each member as a unique individual with a unique background and unique needs.  Personally, I think that some but not all gays and lesbians were gay or lesbian from birth — I think sexual orientation exists on a continuum that has at least three, and probably more, distinct sections.  I think there are some people who were “wired” in their mothers’ wombs to be attracted to members of the opposite sex and for whom no set of experiences is likely to alter their straight orientation (I think I’m at that end of the continuum).  I also think there are some people who were “wired” exactly opposite in their mothers’ wombs — to be attracted to members of the same sex — and for whom no set of experiences is likely to alter their gay or lesbian orientation (the other end of the continuum).  In between, I think there are some people who leave their mothers’ wombs without having their “wires” firmly connected either way, and for those people, I think experiences play a role in whether and how they eventually become firmly “wired” one way or the other.  In any case, because I think that sexual orientation is either firmly fixed at birth or developed over a long period of time, once again, I agree that the likelihood of changing it through psychotherapy is low, but I’m not as willing as some in the APA seem to be to say that there’s nobodyanywhere along the continuum who just might possibly be able, with strong personal motivation (maybe religion, maybe desire to be a parent), to undo the effects of certain experiences that contributed to the development of undesired sexual attraction by having some alternate experiences, over time, perhaps with some objective, professional insight and guidance (again, not from me, but maybe, just maybe, from a psychologist with expertise in that area).

Chris Brown’s sentencing delayed 8/5/09

Rapper Chris Brown’s sentencing (for beating up singer Rhianna) has been delayed, but for an OK reason — the California judge is planning to allow Brown to complete his 180 days of “community labor” in the rapper’s home state of Virginia, but first, the judge wants to get a guarantee from Virginia correctional authorities that the “community labor” will be hard enough.  The judge reportedly had reservations about approving the plea deal struck between Brown and the prosecutor whereby Brown is set to receive no prison time, five years’ probation, and the 180 days of “community labor,” so she at least wants the labor to be strenuous outdoor work like scrubbing graffiti off of walls instead of some cushy indoor assignment.  Props to the judge on that idea!

Psychopolitics of health care 8/5/09

Not a good move for proponents of the Administration’s health-care-reform plan to label protesters against it “an angry mob” — belittling people and invalidating their heart-felt sentiments generally isn’t the most effective way to overcome resistance!

A Jackson update, 2 terrible moms, 2 major shootings, 1 “mani”-skirt, & 3 new studies 8/5/09

Jackson update:  A document filed in the Michael Jackson child custody case reportedly affirms that Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, will never reside in the same home as the Jackson children.  As Joe Jackson is reputed to have been abusive toward Michael and his siblings when they were young, this ruling alleviates one of the concerns that I had about awarding custody to Jackson’s mother.  In related news, Grandpa Jackson reportedly has endorsed a 25-year-old aspiring Norwegian entertainer’s claim that he’s Michael Jackson’s love child.  Hmmm…possible…or could it be that the minors are out of reach, so Grandpa’s looking for a major to exploit?  Stay tuned.

On Tuesday’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, we discussed the tragic case of little Robert Manwill who went missing late last month and was found floating in a drainage canal near his Idaho home on Tuesday.  As usual, it sounds like it was a totally preventable tragedy – another child reportedly was removed from the mother’s custody because she allegedly had fractured that child’s skull, yet Robert was allowed to continue living with her and her boyfriend, who reportedly has served time in prison for violent crimes.  Sounds to me like one of the more horrendous failures of child protective services that I’ve ever covered.  The main point that I made on Tuesday’s show was this:  If we have “cash for clunkers,” then we have cash for kids’ lives – if we have billions of dollars to buy people’s old cars, then there’s no excuse for child protective services to be so underfunded and understaffed across this country that this sort of thing keeps happening regularly.

A New York “mom” (and I use that term loosely) was driving her child and three nieces when she crossed the center line and caused an accident that killed eight people including her and all four kids.  Well, guess what?  She apparently was drunk and high at the time – yet another “model parent” who never should’ve had children in her care, and unfortunately, I’ll bet there were warning signs in her case as well.

Speaking of warning signs, a man entered a Pennsylvania gym on Tuesday night and opened fire on women attending a fitness class, killing three before killing himself.  If you search online, you’ll quickly find pages and pages of the shooter’s blogs, in which he clearly foretold what he was going to do.  If you read the warnings that he gave, you’ll see the incredible narcissism that I’m always talking about in these cases.  Just like in the Virginia Tech massacre, this shooter felt slighted by a particular group of people (women in this case) and felt, therefore, entitled to exact revenge on random representatives of that group.  It’s clear that this wasn’t a mentally-healthy guy, but it’s also clear, as I often point out in these cases, that he knew what he was doing and that it was wrong.  He even writes about whether he could commit mass murder and still end up in Heaven.  He thought he could.  I guess now he knows.

There was another shooting on Tuesday that’s making big news – the shooting of a Tennessee man by police officers.  Activists are accusing the police of everything from the excessive use of force to racism because they shot a black man 59 times after he threatened to kill others and himself with a rifle that he was carrying.  From everything I’ve seen, however, it looks like a “suicide-by-cop,” plain and simple, in which the police did nothing wrong.

On a lighter note, the city council of a small town in Oregon has censured its mayor.  For what you ask?  Just for showing up in a mini-skirt and high heels at a community event where numerous children were present?  Yes, and the council is exactly right – it’s irresponsible for a public official to throw cross-dressing in the faces of his community’s children, and thereby, to force their parents to address sexually-bizarre behavior with the children at much younger ages than they might’ve chosen.

Study this #1:  Surprise, surprise, antidepressant use is up, way up, in America – it’s estimated that one in ten Americans is now on these drugs.

Study this #2:  People with high cholesterol in middle age seem to be at elevated risk of developing dementia later in life, just another reason to stay fit.

Study this #3:  Being couch potatoes isn’t just hazardous to adults’ health.  Kids who spend inordinate amounts of time in front of t.v. and video-game screens seem to be at elevated risk of developing high blood pressure later in life.  Couple that with the previous study, and you may also be looking at an elevated risk of dementia – just two more reasons to moderate the kiddies’ t.v. viewing and gaming.

Jackson, Anthony, Gitmo, Psychopolitics, a crazy lawsuit, and a depressing “I told you so” 8/4/09

Jackson: As I predicted, a judge has approved the Michael Jackson custody settlement reached last week, whereby his mother will get guardianship of his three children. In a bizarre sideshow, Jackson’s former dermatologist apparently wanted to address the court on the topic of the children’s best interests but was denied the opportunity to do so because he has no legal standing to involve himself in the case (some have speculated that he, rather than Jackson, may have provided the sperm from which the two oldest Jackson children were conceived, but that’s never been proven, and under California law, as I’ve explained here previously, it doesn’t really matter as long as Jackson was married to their mother when they were born, which he was).

Anthony: Approximately 1,000 pages of additional documents have been released to the media by the prosecution in the Casey Anthony case. So far, there doesn’t appear to be anything game-changing in the stack.

Gitmo: There’s talk of moving Guantanamo Bay terror detainees from Gitmo here to Kansas, Ft. Leavenworth. Makes sense, right? I mean, why keep them in an isolated island compound 90 miles off the U.S. mainland when we could have them right here in the heartland?

Psychopolitics: I watched a proponent of the Obama Administration’s fiscal policy on Your World with Neil Cavuto on Monday, and I had to laugh at the mindset illustrated by his answer to Neil’s question about how we’re going to balance the federal budget. The guest said that there were only two ways to do it: 1) raise taxes, and 2) inflate the currency (i.e. print more money). Anybody else see a third option? Like maybe cut spending?!? As you can see, that thought doesn’t even go through these people’s minds. (I also had to laugh on Monday at the utter disdain on the face of H.H.S. Sec. Kathleen Sebelius when she actually had to listen to Americans at a town hall meeting who don’t support the Administration’s health care reform plan. I recognized that look from her days as governor of Kansas — she appears to think not only that “regular folks” are complete idiots, but also that she shouldn’t even have to listen, let alone explain herself, to them).

Bring on the anxiety…again: Believe it or not, a recent graduate of Monroe College in New York is suing the school because she hasn’t found a job, and according to her, that has nothing to do with her underwhelming G.P.A. (reportedly 2.7), nor with her lack of effort in school and since. No, according to her, it’s supposedly because the school’s career counselors haven’t done enough since April to place her in a job. I have a friend who’s a high-level, high-tech executive who’s been looking for a job since last fall, yet this recent college grad thinks she should have found one — make that, someone should have found her one — since April. Time for anyone who thinks she’s not a complete idiot to go and search the WorldNetDaily.com archives for my column “Bring on the Anxiety” about the misconceptions that some college students have about the world and their value to it immediately post-graduation.

Lastly tonight, an alarming “See, I told you so”: Nobody who reads here regularly is likely to need to brush up on the message of “Bring on the Anxiety,” but you might be interested in reading or re-reading another column by me in the WorldNetDaily archives, “A Perfect Storm,” that foreshadowed a depressing development in pediatric psychology. Some researchers are now pushing the diagnosis of depression in children as young as three (which I don’t think is even possible with any acceptable validity) because it supposedly indicates a strong possibility that those children will struggle with depression throughout their lives. And if you’re a regular reader, you know what the next step will be — starting toddlers on antidepressants and keeping them medicated for life! Anyone but me see a potential ulterior motive for doing that, like maybe that there’s probably enough money at stake to balance the federal budget? It’s absolutely disgusting.

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