Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shut Up About My Body, Glenn Beck
by Meghan McCain
After Meghan McCain wore a revealing dress in a skin-cancer PSA, Glenn Beck launched a vicious tirade about her body—suggesting she wear a burqa and saying the idea of her naked made him want to vomit. In an open letter to Beck, McCain asks if this is the legacy he wants to leave his daughters.
Dear Mr. Beck,
I am writing to thank you for helping me spread the word about a serious condition.
A few months ago, I filmed a PSA for skin-cancer awareness where I posed in a strapless Juicy dress to appear “naked,” as a metaphor for the dangers of going out in the sun without sunscreen. I thought that pretending to be naked (even if I only disrobed to my collar bone) would hopefully call attention to skin cancer, a disease that both my parents have suffered from.

I don’t know if you know this, Mr. Beck, but that scar on the side of my father’s face is from a melanoma he had removed when I was in middle school. Did you know melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer? Did you also know that between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to be 65 will have either basal-cell carcinoma or squamous-cell carcinoma skin cancer? And that there are more than 2 million cases of skin cancer discovered in the United States every year? It’s pretty scary, Glenn, and something everyone in America should be made aware of.

But the thing is, Glenn, I wasn’t really naked, and I know the idea of me being naked caused you to vomit on your radio show for 10 minutes. You suggested I should wear a burqa, since you believe that's probably the only clothing that could possibly fit me. By the way, you should really see a doctor because it isn’t normal to vomit for that long.

While you're at the doctor's office, why not get checked for moles on your skin to make sure you don’t have any signs of skin cancer? suggests, “Throughout the year, you should examine your skin head to toe once a month, looking for any suspicious lesions. Self-exams can help you identify potential skin cancers early, when they can almost always be completely cured.”

While we’re on the subject of you vomiting on air, maybe we should have a little talk. Clearly you have a problem with me, and possibly women in general, but the truth is, it’s 2011 and I heard your show on Fox was canceled. Isn’t that an indication that the era of the shock-jock pundit is over? Don’t you think that’s a sign you should be pulling it back a little? I mean, if you’re too conservative and outrageous for Fox, that should tell you something.
 There really is no need to make something like my participation in a skin-cancer PSA into a sexist rant about my weight and physical appearance, because I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Glenn: you are the only one who looks bad in this scenario, and at the end of the day you have helped me generate publicity for my skin-cancer PSA, a cause that I feel quite passionate about.

As a person known for his hot body, you must find it easy to judge the weight fluctuations of others, especially young women.

You’re a full-grown man with teenage daughters who are probably dealing with the sexist, body-obsessed media environment that is difficult for all women. Is this really the legacy you want to be leaving for yourself?

As a person who is known for his hot body, you must find it easy to judge the weight fluctuations of others, especially young women. If any of your daughters are ever faced with some kind of criticism of their physical appearance or weight, they should call me, because women’s body image is another issue I feel passionate about, and have become accustomed to dealing with and speaking with young women about on my college tours.

So thanks for spreading the word, Glenn.
 And next time, instead of jumping straight to the “Meghan McCain fat jokes,” maybe try out some new material.
  Because the fat-joke thing, it’s been done so many times, I know a creative intellect such as yourself can do better than that.

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the Web site Her most recent book, Dirty Sexy Politics, was published in August.
The Right-Wing Talk-Radio Flameout

What do NEWT & PALIN have in common?

Jumping the shark

Fonzie on water skis, in a scene from the Happy Days episode "Hollywood, Part Three of Three," after literally jumping over a shark
Jumping the shark is an idiom, first employed to describe a moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery.
In its initial usage, it referred to the point in a television program's history where viewers feel "the writers have run out of ideas" and that "the series has [lost] what made it attractive."[1] These changes were often the result of efforts to revive interest in a show whose audience had begun to decline.[2] [3]
The usage of "jump the shark" has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment in its evolution, characterized by absurdity, when a brand, design, or creative effort moves beyond the essential qualities that initially defined its success, beyond relevance or recovery.


CNN – Ryan: Expect Senate-run announcement this week
FOX – Huckabee not ready to endorse yet
NBC – Gingrich: Paul Ryan's plan is 'right-wing social engineering,' goes too far
CBS – John Boehner on the debt limit: ‘I’m ready to cut the deal today’
ABC – Nikki Haley: 2012 VP speculation 'silly'
C-SPAN – Bingaman: We are not going to legislate short-term oil prices down


Ryan: Expect Senate-run announcement this week

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined host Candy Crowley Sunday to discuss the ongoing debate over the national budget and whether to raise the national debt limit. “We need to do something about the short-term,”McConnell said, “we need a spending ceiling.” The Kentucky Republican went on to say that “to get my vote .?.?. we need to do something significant short-term, medium-term and long-term,” before raising the debt ceiling. Asked if he would accept tax increases at all, McConnell said, “There aren’t going to be any tax increases.”

McConnell dodged when asked whether he would support former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, taking an opportunity to criticize the national health-care law, without referring to Romney or the Massachusetts comprehensive health-care reform he enacted.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) also joined to discuss his proposed federal budget and whether he would run for Senate to replace retiring Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.). Ryan said he would announce his intentions this week.

Huckabee not ready to endorse yet

The day after announcing on his own Fox News show that he would not run for president, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee told Chris Wallace that was not ready to endorse any of the other candidates.

"There may be a point when I endorse, but right now, I'll see how the race unfolds and listen carefully," Huckabee said. Other contenders are already vying for the religious conservative's endorsement. Huckabee reiterated that he thinks he "would have made a fine president." He added, "You look at the political possibilities -- frankly I don't know that I'll have a better chance, but I don't rule anything out for the long-term future," he said. "But I just somehow believed deep within me that it wasn't the right time, it wasn't meant to be."

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), meanwhile, is in it to win it. He told Wallace that "nobody's perfect," but he's "pretty well-equipped" to be president. I've been in the military. I was in the military five years, that gives me a little bit of experience. I would say I'm pretty well equipped. But to brag that I can run things, I don't do that because that's not what a president is supposed to do." Paul said he would oppose federal aid for victims of flooding in Mississippi, saying, "The principle of ultimate insurance by government is a moral hazard because people do things they shouldn't do."


Gingrich: Paul Ryan' s plan is 'right-wing social engineering,' goes too far

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) explained that he felt compelled to run for president because "to not seek to help the country to fix the problems we have would have been a failure of citizenship on my part." Gingrich laughed off the possibility of being anyone's running-mate: "Can you imagine any presidential nominee who picked me to be the vice presidential candidate?" He denied charges of racism and said he thinks "Obama loves America" but has "a different idea of what America is." Gingrich said he has had some difficulty separating his role as a political analyst from his desire to be a "disciplined" political leader. "I think that's a fair criticism." Gingrich also addressed his past marital infidelity and two divorces, saying "I've clearly done things that are wrong. .?.?.People have every right to ask the tough questions."

Gingrich was asked to defend his past endorsements of an individual mandate for health care, and his having stood by that proposal while denying it put him on the same side as President Obama. "I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. There are ways to do it that make libertarians relatively happy. You either have health insurance or you post a bond," he suggested. Asked if that counts as an individual mandate, something many Republicans have balked at in the past, Gingrich responded, "it's a variation on it." He said he would offer "a range of choices," but that people who can afford insurance but don't buy it because they expect to be covered are perpetuating a "free rider system." Gingrich also distanced himself from the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to turn Medicare into a voucher system: "I think that that is too big a jump." He called the plan "right-wing social engineering," which he considers not "any more desirable than left-wing social engineering."


John Boehner on the debt limit: ‘I’m ready to cut the deal today’

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sat down with CBS “Early Show” host Harry Smith in the wake of the network’s exclusive townhall with President Obama. “He’s talking about it, but I’m not seeing real action yet,” Boehner said on the president’s approach to tackling the nation’s debt.

Asked about reports of angry townhall attendees rejecting the Republicans’ proposed budget plan, Boehner was defensive. “Harry, that’s just not a fact,” Boehner said. He said he had talked to all of the Republican House members and that, if asked, any Republican would say 80 percent of attendees on average were supportive of the Republican budget plan.

“I’m ready to cut the deal today,” Boehner said on reaching an agreement to raise the debt ceiling before the situation became as dramatic as the lead-up to the government shutdown. “Mr. President, you and I, let’s lock arms and jump out of this boat together.”

Asked about individuals and families burdened by ballooning mortgage payments and stagnant paychecks in the midst of bank bailouts and subsequent financial sector profits, Boehner said, “There’s no easy answer to this.”

The conversation turned to the Middle East and the killing of Osama bin Laden. “It wasn’t just bin Laden,” Boehner said when asked if it was time to reconsider the U.S. role in Afghanistan. “Our goal in Afghanistan is to make sure that we’re not ceding ground to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and others. ... That effort has to continue, because there are others out there.”


Nikki Haley: 2012 VP speculation 'silly'

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) told Christine Amanpour that there's no way she'll be a vice presidential contender in 2012, calling the idea "silly" and that there was "no wiggle room at all."

“The people of South Carolina took a chance on electing me,” she said. “It is my job and my family's job to prove to them that they made a good decision. I plan on committing to the people of this state my full four years in office."

Haley will, however, be watching closely, and she suggested that all of the presidential contenders had something to prove before they could get her endorsement. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich "has had great ideas in the past," but whether he can handle the future "remains to be seen." Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels "was an amazing reformer in his state," but he "needs to give his stance on where he stands with family values." (She defended Daniels over the focus on his marriage, saying, "people are smarter than that.”) On former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, she said he was “one of the only governors that showed courage when it came to dealing with health care,” but a leader should "admit when a mistake was made." On Sarah Palin, Haley said "she is amazing at getting people to know the power of their voice" but if she gets in she will have to "understand that the policy issues of today are relevant and important right now too."

In the show's roundtable, Washington Post columnist George Will said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is "just not a serious candidate," and predicted that the race will come down to Obama, Daniels, and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.


Bingaman: We are not going to legislate short-term oil prices down

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, said he hadn’t decided how to vote on a plan proposed by Democrats that would repeal some oil company tax breaks. “If you’re going to change these tax provisions, you shouldn’t just do it for five companies,” said Bingaman, repeating the argument made by oil company executives during their testimony before Congress last week. Asked if he thought oil companies are paying their fair share, Bingaman said, “Well, I don’t know,” adding that “it was pretty clear reducing some of the tax benefits would not in any way jeopardize the tax benefits of any of these companies.”

“It is not, in my view, realistic to think we are going to legislate a change in the price of oil short-term,” Bingaman said, adding that policies could be put in place to help keep the price of oil down in future years. “We are increasing production of oil in this country — it’s not going down, it’s going up,” he said, countering claims by some that Democrats were pushing to shut down domestic oil production. Bingaman credited that increase not to President Obama’s policies, but instead to technological advancement. Bingaman also pushed back against claims that Democrats were attempting to quash Republican plans to increase nuclear power output in the United States, saying it was “simply not the case.”

Asked if he had a “best moment in the Senate,” Bingaman said, ”there’s been a lot of good moments, but a lot of frustrations too.”
By Emi Kolawole and Rachel Weiner

Reincarnation: Believing in second chances

One in ten Americans remembers living a past life; What evidence is there for reincarnation, beyond faith that memories are forever?

  • Play CBS Video Video Reincarnation alive and well in today's culture The concept of reincarnation is some three thousand years old, but it's not simply a thing of the past. As Susan Spencer reports, the idea that we've lived before and that we'll live again is alive and well in American pop culture today.

(CBS News) Are we living life the second time around - or even the third or fourth, or more? A number of Americans believe they ARE . . . and while religion is a matter of faith, they're getting some support for their belief from surprising sources. Our Sunday Morning Cover Story is reported now by Susan Spencer of "48 Hours":

More than a thousand people gathered at a New York City conference center on a recent Sunday coming from around the world, in hopes of an out-of-this-world experience.

At up to $139 a ticket, they seemed confident that through hypnosis they'd uncover lost memories ... not just of this life, but of past lives as well.

"Be there, back there, before your birth ..."

Call them "Come as you were" events - reincarnation conventions, no longer considered completely off-the-wall, and growing in popularity.

"You can remember everything ..."

One woman said she had an experience on the Titanic. Another subject "regressed back to, I want to say, the mid-1800s, in England."

Another woman said, "I recognized that I was about to see Jesus deliver his Sermon on the Mount."

For Dr. Brian Weiss, a firm believer in reincarnation, such stories are all in a day's work ... hardly what you'd expect from a graduate of Yale's prestigious medical school.

But today he travels the globe, hypnotizing crowds of ordinary people to help them recall extraordinary things.

He says hypnosis induces a relaxed state and enhances concentration, making it easier for people to remember their past lives.

How doe she define reincarnation? "I define it as when we die physically, a part of us goes on," he told Spencer, "and that we have lessons to learn here. And that if you haven't learned all of these lessons, then that soul, that consciousness, that spirit comes back into a baby's body."

The concept of reincarnation goes back some 3,000 years to India and Greece. Although it's been largely rejected by Jewish and Christian traditions, Boston University religion professor Stephen Prothero says it's alive and well in pop culture today - with Americans fascinated by the idea they've lived before.

"The skeptical part of me about the past life thing is that, just statistically, the odds are that in my past life, I was a Chinese peasant, right?" said Prothero. "But hardly anybody ever is a Chinese peasant. You know, everybody is Cleopatra or Mark Antony or Jesus, you know?"

A poll conducted for Sunday Morning shows about one in five Americans believes in reincarnation, and roughly one in ten remembers a past life.

Professor Prothero thinks they're reacting in part to the positive spin the West puts on it: "In the Indian tradition, classically reincarnation was undesirable. It wasn't something you wanted. I mean, the goal was to get out of this life. But in America we see reincarnation as this sort of great second opportunity. We say, 'I'm gonna be, you know, an accountant. In the next life I can be an astronaut!'"

Michael Shermer, the founder of the Skeptics' Society and publisher of Skeptic Magazine, is - no surprise - skeptical about reincarnation: "I don't think there's any chance that this is true.

"I think it's a complete construction of our brains - projecting ourselves into a future state that doesn't exist. It's a way of dealing with the anxiety of losing loved ones, and losing our own lives, and coming to grips with our own mortality."

But for psychiatrist Brian Weiss, reincarnation is more than a comforting thought. He studied Freud's theory that recovering childhood memories helps resolve present-day problems. Then, 30 years ago, he says he discovered that the same is true of memories even further back, from a past life.

It all started with a patient deathly afraid of water ...

"I told her when she was in this deep hypnotic state, go back to the time where your symptoms began, thinking she'd go back to early childhood," Dr. Weiss said. "But she went back nearly 4,000 years into an ancient Near Eastern lifetime - different body, different face, different hair, drowning in a flood or tidal wave, her baby being torn from her arms by the force of the water. And her symptoms started getting better from that moment on."

Since then, he's used what he calls "Past Life Regression Therapy" on some 4,000 people.

"If you have a fear of heights and you were thrown off a castle wall in the 12th century, and your fear disappears in one time or two times, this is a fabulous thing, because your life is changing," he said.

It's not the sort of change psychiatrist Jim Tucker of the University of Virginia can believe in.

"I do not trust hypnosis as a tool for any memories because it's so unreliable," Dr. Tucker said. "Sometimes, it's accurate, sometimes, it's wildly inaccurate. They're not intending to create fantasy, but that's what the mind can do under hypnosis."

But that's not to say that he doesn't believe in past lives. In fact, that's his specialty.

Dr. Tucker focuses on children - young children - who, he says, have volunteered information about past lives, no hypnosis involved.
Why focus on kids? "Well, because they're the ones that have the memories," he said.

Take the Colorado toddler who claimed to be his dead grandfather - a man he never knew. Dr. Tucker says the child recalled obscure details of his grandfather's life, even picked him out of class picture, saying, "That's me."

If that's not spooky enough for you, try this:

"Many of the children describe lives that ended violently or ended early," Dr. Tucker said. "Drownings, murders, motor vehicle accidents, suicides, snake bites."

What's more, he says that university researchers verified their stories.

In fact, he showed us photos where children have birth marks supposedly corresponding to fatal wounds from their past lives.

"I think some people might be surprised in a way, you know, the University of Virginia, a very sort of conventional place, very well thought of, not the kind of place where you would expect this to be going on," said Spencer.

"Well, there are an awful lot of us who also wonder if there is something more," said Dr. Tucker. "That either spirituality or consciousness or whatever terms people use, but that there might be more to life than just the physical."

Not skeptic Michael Shermer, who says he doubts there's anything to be re-born, and he insists that science is on his side.

"The evidence is pretty sound that I'm right," Shermer said. "Because of these examples of damage to the brain, strokes, and especially Alzheimer's and dementia. When the brain tissue disintegrates and dies, the personality, the person, the memory, dies with it. We know this for a fact."

But here's another fact: Dr. Brian Weiss continues to draw huge crowds ... Dr. Jim Tucker keeps moving ahead with his research ... and neither one plans to stop working anytime soon.

At least, not in this lifetime.

"We're not going to be able to extract a blood sample and get DNA and say, 'Oh, I see you were alive in the 11th century.' No," said Dr. Weiss. "It's people remembering it, so it's clinical proof."

"Will any of this ever be proved to a scientific certainty?" Spencer asked.

"No, I don't think our work will lead to scientific certainty," said Dr. Tucker. "But I also don't think there's a scientific certainty that nothing carries on after we die - that hasn't been proven, either."