Category Archives: Rants & Commentary

LIONEL PODCAST: Humanizing and Destigmatizing Mental Illness

We’re medieval. In our appreciation for and of mental illness, MI hereinafter. MI also tends to destigmatize. I respectfully submit that confusion and an almost criminal nescience are really the underlying bases for such profound misunderstanding as to MI. And nowhere is this seen better than in the courtroom via the astigmatic lens of criminal jurisprudence. In the matters of the insanity defense and NGRI courts have adopted and applied four — you heard me, four — essential standards and rules, all described herein. The M’Naghten Test, Durham Rule, Irresistible Impulse Test and Model Penal Code Test. In this podcast I attempt to explain how these tests seem quite different and easily accessible and applicable, but they fail to address the issues that are present in many crimes. In addition, I discuss what has to be done to change the way the law and psychiatry meet and merge and meld.

Scary doesn’t inspire empathic. In the case of those suffering from MI who’ve been incarcerated and have long criminal records and especially those who’ve exhibited violent traits and behaviors, empathy and sympathy are hard to come by. And one of the reasons is the very heart of the psychiatric diagnosis — it’s not tangible, readable, replicable, obvious and/or universally recognized. It’s not like a shattered femur, easily seen on X-ray, or the image of a tumor that a radiologist can easily and immediately read and, moreover, will be acknowledged and verified and agreed with by other radiologists. Psychiatric diagnoses don’t lend themselves to such uniform and accepted certainty. Perhaps until now. Enter imagery, PET scans and watch the explosion and evolution in the science of MI.

Advocacy angels. There are so many incredible individuals and organizations and efforts to address MI issues and remove the stigma that is so often associated it.

  • The incredible work of my dear friend and esteemed jurist Judge Sol Wachtler and The North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Foundation and Law & Psychiatry Institute.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC Metro), a grassroots organization providing support, education and advocacy for individuals and their families of all ethnic and socioeconomic strata who live with MI.
  • May I also commend to you the work of Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He’s the author of Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry that “traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudo-science through its adolescence as a cult of “shrinks” to its late blooming maturity.”
  • Dr. Eric Kandel and Charlie Rose for the Brain Series. Bravo!
  • Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs.  Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting, among others, the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive, and pleasure in addiction.
  • And no list of estimable contributions to the field would be complete without mention of a personal favorite of mine, James Fallon, author of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. It details how Fallon, while studying brain scans to search for patterns that correlated with psychopathic behavior, found that his own brain fit the profile like the proverbial glove. One of the most frightening Eureka! moments in the history of science.

 

LIONEL PODCAST: Destroying the Intellectually Pitiful Gun Control Traitors

My beliefs are simple. I am a proud American. I’ve adopted as the foundation of such belief the Constitution. Period. All of it. I’m unabashedly and unapologetically a patriot and lover of liberty. And I know full well that when (REPEAT: when) our freedoms and liberties are wrested from our control it will in fact occur as we politely and slavishly hand them off and over and give them away in toto under some psychotic theory and delusion of protection and safety. Good-natured yet intellectually pliable citizens  will be confounded and bamboozled by threat du jour of the new bogeyman: terrorists and Tea Partiers, the left and right and middle, the radical right and loony left, Bible thumpers and atheists, Koch Brothers acolytes and Soros minions. We’re awash in enemies. The fear merchants grind them out and lighting speed. There will be a label for everyone. But the one that will be forgotten deliberately is that of Constitutionalist. And at the heart of tyranny is the disarmament of a people. Thomas Jefferson made it clear: “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” Freedom cannot coexist in a society where its people cannot defend it. It’s axiomatic and that simple. And let me introduce you to Mr. Coxe.

Perhaps my favorite Constitutional progenitor. Tench Coxe. As a member of the second rank of this nation’s Founders and a leading proponent of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Coxe wrote prolifically about the right to keep and bear arms. A Philadelphian, Tench Coxe wrote numerous widely-circulated articles in favor of the new Constitution proposed in 1787 and, later, about the proposed Bill of Rights. He was appointed to subcabinet positions (just below a Cabinet Secretary) by Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. In the Jefferson administration, his duties included procuring firearms for militiamen who could not afford to purchase their own weapons. From his appearance on the national stage in the late 1780s until his death in 1824, Coxe wrote prolifically, with his work appearing in major newspapers, in lengthy reports for Presidents, and in personal correspondence with leading political figures. [Source. Please see Dave Kopel’s Website for a wonderful disquisition on the history of Coxe and other Constitutional luminaries. His video The Truth About Guns is worth a view, trust me.]

Mr. Coxe’s Encore. Read this selection at least twice and be amazed at the clarity of message. Profoundly pellucid!

“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

(Tench Coxe in ‘Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution’ under the Pseudonym ‘A Pennsylvanian’ in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 at 2 col. 1)

LIONEL PODCAST: My Interview With Sharyl Attkisson, The Brave Investigative Reporter Who Believes in Exposing the Truth

Oh, that H.L., what a card. “American journalism (like the journalism of any other country) is predominantly paltry and worthless. Its pretensions are enormous, but its achievements are insignificant,”  thus spake Mr. Mencken. Well, Ol’ Hank never met Sharyl Attkisson, Emmy award winning investigative journalist and author of the first order. She’s taken on the Obama administration and the torpid and comatose corporate mainstream media, whose very existence depends on waking up and doing its job. Sharyl questions inter alia Benghazi, the (Not So) Affordable Health Care Act [Obama(s)care], Fast and Furious, Ebola, Vaccines and Gardasil, just to name a few.

Can we clone her? And what do these issues all have in common? They’re issues that matter, that are fascinating and that have been for reasons heretofore unknown relegated by many to the ash heap of investigation known as the dread conspiracy theory. She reveals the spiders nest that comprises all to often the corridors of Washington journalism. And yet she certainly has nothing but respect and admiration for her colleagues who share her intrepidity and determination, but they’re few and far between in a timorous world of feckless corporate lackeys and impuissant yes-men (and women) who’ve caved in, sold out and given up.

I do know much about history. (With apologias to Messrs. Adler, Alpert and Cooke.) Phil Graham in 1963, paraphrasing Alan Barth in 1943, noted the following: “So let us today drudge on about our inescapably impossible task of providing every week a first rough draft of history that will never really be completed about a world we can never really understand…” [e.s.] So, think of Ms. Attkisson as providing history’s prolegomenon, it’s proem. She’s a critical component to documenting which all too often this society, who’s the attention span of a gnat, lets lapse into the void while it embraces psychotically #DeflateGate and the latest false prophecy of cosmic snow doom.

Here’s her testimony at the confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch:

SHARYL ATTKISSON: In 2013, Reporters Without Borders downgraded America’s standing in the global free press rankings, rating the Obama administration as worse than Bush’s. It matters not that when caught the government promises to dial back or that [FOX News’] James Rosen gets an apology. The message has already been received. If you cross this administration with perfectly accurate reporting they don’t like, you will be attacked and punished. You and your sources may be subjected to the kind of surveillance devised for enemies of the state.

For much of history, the United States has held itself out as a model of freedom, democracy, and open accountable government. Freedoms of expression and association are of course protected by the constitution. Today those freedoms are under assault due to government policies of secrecy, leak prevention, and officials contact with the media, combined with large scale surveillance programs. The nominee if confirmed should chart a new path and reject the damaging policies and practices that have been used by others in the past. If we aren’t grave enough to confront these concerns, it could do serious long-term damage to a supposedly free press. Thank you.

LIONEL PODCAST: An Actual Meteorologist Explains How the NYC Blizzard Predictions Were So Bloody Wrong

 

Meteorology has ever been an apple of contention, as if the violent commotions of the atmosphere induced a sympathetic effect on the minds of those who have attempted to study them. — Joseph Henry
‘Meteorology in its Connection with Agriculture’, US Patent Office Annual Report Agricultural, 1858. In J. R. Fleming, Meteorology in America: 1800-1870 (1990).

The Steel City Diviner. This is Steve MacLaughlin. He owns Pittsburgh, has redefined television atmospheric augury as we know it and he’s simply the greatest meteorologist in the world and happens to be a great friend. With the Sturm und Drang that New York experienced what with the Snoreaster, viz. the blizzard that didn’t hit — repeat, they’re upset that the doom that was portended was averted — I asked Steve to explain the vicissitudes of meteorology and whether weather is subject to vatic augury. Or something. Who’s at fault? Who blew it? Is this media hype or criminal negligence? And whom exactly am I talking to? Listen to this fascinating disquisition on the subject of weather prognostication. Listen to the pellucid explication of his address and the tantalizing tenor as he in essence dissects and parses nature.

Whither Empedocles? “Iris from sea brings wind or mighty rain.” Weather involves whether as it’s the predictive art. It’s man’s first subject of discussion — by necessity. Fail to learn the weather and you fail to llve. As Steve is fond of quoting Edward Lorenz, he often importunes Pittsburghers to hearken back to the postulate cited in Essence of Chaos (1995), “Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

[T]he icy layers of the upper atmosphere contain conundrums enough to be worthy of humanity’s greatest efforts. — Hugo Emil

‘Hergesell Begrüssungsworte’, Fourth conference of the International Commission for Scientific Aeronautics, St. Petersberg, 1904 (1905), 28-35. Quoted in Peter Lynch, The Emergence of Numerical Weather Prediction (2006), 97.

 On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Mr. MacLaughlin

LIONEL PODCAST: BBG Governor Blanquita Cullum on Andrew Lack’s RT Comments, Journalism and Fascinating Miscellany

Governor Cullum. Blanquita Cullum is my podguest today and refer you to her curriculum vitae infra. She and I share a fascination with information systems and the like which I detail herein as well as a reference point in talk radio and journalism and information systems.

Propaganda. I’m not one to usually quote Noam Chomsky but will make an exception here. His views on thought control and propaganda are worth noting. His 1989 work “Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies” borrows its title from the distinguished moralist and foreign affairs analyst Reinhold Niebuhr. He expresses the view that intellectuals create an emotionally potent oversimplification to delude and sway the public, who are naive simpletons. Necessary illusions keep them on course. Not the totalitarian regimes, mind you, who actually have less overt control, but the no-liberal keepers who protect the bewildered herds.

BBG. OMG! Earlier this week, the newly minted chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, told the New York Times that RT poses a significant challenge for him and his organization, putting it on the same level as ISIS and Boko Haram terror groups. I kid you not.

We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram,” he said. “But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.”

She knows a little something about the BBG. I’m pleased and honored to speak with my great friend Blanquita Cullum, who knows a little something about the subject, not to mention the state of broadcast journalism and information platforms in general.

For eight years, Blanquita Walsh Cullum served as a Governor on the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors BBG. Nominated by President George W. Bush in 2002, Governor Cullum is the first Hispanic woman and the first radio talk show host to have served on the BBG. The United States Senate unanimously confirmed her to that position. The BBG is the independent, federal agency responsible for all U.S. government and government-sponsored, non-military international broadcasting. The nine BBG members, including the Secretary of State, oversee the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, Radio and Television Marti and the Middle Eastern Broadcast Network. She was the Chairperson of the Radio Free Asia Committee for six years, Chairperson of the Voice of America Committee, the Language Service Review Committee and Chairperson of the Communications Committee.

“The First Amendment has always meant freedom of speech and a variety of voices. A news outlet isn’t a terrorist,” Cullum told RT’s show, The Big Picture. “I may disagree vehemently with, for example, MSNBC, but I will always fight for their right to be heard because if they are not able to be heard, I am not able to be heard,” she explained. Hear! Hear!

LIONEL PODCAST: My Joe Franklin Eulogium

Simply ineffable. Nonpareil. Joe Franklin’s late night television extravaganza, from 1950 to 1962 on WJZ and then until 1993 on WOR, cannot and will not ever be equaled on Mother Earth by anyone at anytime. To this day he’s in the “Guinness World Records” as the longest continuously running talk show in TV history. In fact more than a decade longer than Johnny Carson’s fabled tenure. He interviewed everyone of note in the world of entertainment with and in a style no one can or could match. Could you imagine a news director today hiring Joe? That would require an appreciation for kitsch that’s sadly nonexistent. But more importantly, he was a New York legend, a character, an icon. Sui generis and nonpareil. Conditions don’t exist any longer for there to be another Joe Franklin. Née Joseph Fortgang he lives on forever in our memory lane. YouTube cements his genius. His talent was in the seeming incongruity of the guest list. The variability and range. He really was as great as we say he was. It’s not auto-mourn, it’s not contrived lachrymal funereal schmaltz. He was truly that great. Truly. Thank you, sir.

 

LIONEL PODCAST: Murica! Stop Giving Our Propaganda A Bad Name

Stop poo-pooing propaganda. Or Pshaw!. (I love archaic expressions of reaction.) It’s as American as the neck tattoo and viral video. We wallow and thrive in propaganda. News, history, popular culture — it’s all part of the propagandist meat grinder. Everything that we do, everything that we think and perceive is addressed and formed via the mechanics of “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of organized habits and opinions.” From our flag-waving obeisance to the conflation of political ideology with active popular memes, we are walking and talking propaganda automatons. Our history, worldview, name it. So embrace it. Listen herein. From Leni Riefenstahl and “Triumph of the Will” to Frank Capra and “Why We Fight” it’s all propaganda. From congregatio de propaganda fide or “congregation for propagation of the faith” and a committee of cardinals in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, it’s a deliberate. Country music, John Wayne, talk radio, right versus left, positive and negative. History and news are pop culture. Stop fighting it. Embrace it. It’s quintessentially American. And watch especially how the country music retreads and wannabes are climbing over each other to weigh in and plant the flag on the Mount Suribachi of country memes. Like Toby Keith and Peter Jennings during the Iraq monstrosity.

I have seen these things with my very own eyes
And defended my battered soul
It must be too tough to die
American propaganda, South African lies
Will not force me to take up arms, that’s my enemies’ pride

And I won’t fight by his rules that’s foolishness besides
His ignorance is gonna do him in and nobody’s gonna cry
Because his children they are growing up
With bigots and their silver cups they’re fed up
They might throw up on you

Stephen Stills - Word Game

(This is one of Stills’ greatest and most significant contributions to music history ever. It’s reminiscent of early hip hop in its syncopation and cadence. Brilliant.)

LIONEL PODCAST: Listen to This Podcast or Die

A veritable of disquisition. Discussed herein please note the following inter alia.

  • Bread and circuses originates from from a remark by the first and second century CE Roman poet and satirist Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis (Juvenal) on the limited desires of the Roman populace and it denotes something, as extravagant entertainment, offered as an expedient means of pacifying discontent or diverting attention from a source of grievance. It’s a distraction of the masses away from that which matters and counts. It’s nonsense. #DeflateGate and Belichick mean nada. Niente. Nihil. And those who eschew the notion of conspiracy theories have no problem in conspiring away to analyze this insignificant moment of inconsequential nothing.
  • The Shelly Silver indictment and my road trip to Albany. The parlors of power and how the mighty have fallen as well as the rise of Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Today’s Tom Dewey and neo-Giuliani.
  • Chemtrails and geoengineering versus contrails. Despite my eyewitness testimony, the detractors love to detract and distract.
  • Alan Dershowitz fights back in a most fascinating legal gambit. I also discuss the inherent evul of the Royals and monarchists.
  • The significance of the latest UFO docs released and the Watergate of the Millenium.

You’re welcome.

LIONEL PODCAST: The SOTU Illusion and Magic Show Defined

SOTU reactions: Are you a bleeding heart liberal or wingnut conservative? Yep, that about describes it. Social media provided the real time Rorschach and ‘tween the snarky memes of #breadbags and #yeswetan and either the fawning paeans from the decidedly partisan Obama minions to the hardcore rejection of anything save a hardcore reaction to anything POTUS uttered even if, as I suspect, they were the exact quotes of Bush 43, it was a perfect example of what American political discourse is all about. Mets versus Yankees. No rhyme, reason or facts.

Too parochial for my tastes. Left-Right. Right-Wrong. The meme. The simplified reduction of the complex into two pockets. Simple. Base. Crony politics. The limited worldview and prism. Heel versus Baby Face. The horrid dreck and blather of the pathetically simplistic marginalizing of the complex. But it makes folks feel superior. It makes folks feel like their in the game because they’ve committed the message to a few words and familiar phrases.

And it’s now critical that you recall the words of Professor Carroll Quigley from his book, “Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time.” Keep in mind the role the good professor had in Bill Clinton’s development and political ideology. And also note his considerable work anent secret societies and the like. He pulls back the curtain, reveals the Potemkin village and movie set and shows the world the fallacy of political freneticism. It’s all a work.

“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers,” Dr. Quigley wrote. “Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.”
Today’s installment. This podcast explores the gradations, the differentials, the parsing of popular ideology. And how they define silly personality and culturally-based target labels that miss by a mile anything approximating reality. Any questions?

 

LIONEL PODCAST: #AmericanSniper Is Pure Military Propaganda

Any questions? You can’t get better than this. It’s perfect. So what’s wrong with propaganda? It’s as old as war. As old as thought. It’s etymology? “Originally this word derived from a new administrative body of the Catholic Church (congregation) created in 1622, called the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for Propagating the Faith), or informally simply Propaganda.” It’s not illegal and it’s in the eye of the beholder. Look at Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch. Can you say Jerry Bruckheimer? The CIA and Hollywood have contracted for years as has the Pentagon. Holy, Frank Capra, Batman! Where’ve you been? I can still remember John Wayne and his now laughable “Green Berets.” And enter Michael Moore into the fray and it’s perfect. The perfect left-right paradigm.

Brilliant! American Sniper is perfect propaganda. Packaged and delivered as part of the age-old connection and information delivery system between Hollywood and the government. And with Clint Eastwood at the helm, the fellow who fetishized Dirty Harry and drove home the phallic sub-memes of the magnum and “Make my day,” I mean this is perfect. Throw into the mix Michael Moore decrying the horrors of sniping, by sniping oddly enough, and you have to marvel at the beauty of the setup. Frank Capra would be proud. This after the NFL drives home the connection between patriotism and the flag and flyovers and the American pastime and, well, you get the idea. No, be not mistaken, from the folks who gave you Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, meet Chris Kyle. And you thought Hollywood was liberal! Ha!