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  • A New Direction For Turning Left

    Readers no doubt have noticed that I haven’t been posting much over the past several months.

    Heck, over the past few years.

    Turning Left is always in the back of my mind, but I really didn’t know what to do. What to write.

    I didn’t want to be that snarky guy any more who just wrote for the sake of writing, that guy who just made fun of people, or went on rants.

    I wanted to be more substantive than that.

    I was so angry at times during the Bush years. Many of us were. But to look for people at which I could be angry, or to just be that angry guy during the Obama years, well, that didn’t make much sense.

    And I was not always pleased with President Obama.

    But, for the most part, I was.

    I am.

    So what to do with this blog, which has awesome page rank on Google despite the fact that I rarely touch it?

    Found my solution today.

    We need a new direction.

    No, not right. Or center.

    Let’s take direction as focus.

    We need a new focus. A new plan.

    And here it is…

    We don’t want to become the anti-Fox News blog. We don’t want to become the anti-conservative blog.

    We don’t want to discriminate against people because of who they are.

    But we will be critical about people because of what they do.

    That will be our new focus.

    We will still laugh. We will still likely be snarky at times.

    But we can’t be self-righteous. We can’t ignore our own faults.

    But we can write.

    We invite you to join us for the ride. Please visit often, enjoy, and, please, feel free to share our posts.

    We have something to say that needs to be said.

    We have words that need to be heard.

    We are Turning Left


  • Video: Shutstorm 2013: America Sits on Its Balls – Bias on Bulls**t Mountain, Jon Stewart

    Could there be a higher octane fuel for the Fox News false outrage exploitation engine than wheelchair-bound World War II veterans?

    Jon Stewart at his best. Surgical. Precise.

    And with firm proof that the GOP planned and engineered this shutdown.

    Proof.

    From 80 Congressional members of the GOP.

    And don’t forget Smokey the Bear.


  • Very Distressing: Charles Taylor, Liberian Ex-president, Had CIA Ties

    Charles Taylor
    Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, currently on trial.

    When I think of Charles Taylor, I think of “blood diamonds.”

    And I am relieved that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is currently President of Liberia, a country still recovering from the slave trade.

    Still recovering from the devastation wreaked by Europe and the Americas.

    So I was distressed to learn this week that Charles Taylor, currently on trial for Crimes Against Humanity, was at one point employed by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency.

    From Al Jazeera:

    Liberia’s Charles Taylor, the first African head of state to be prosecuted for war crimes by an international tribunal, used to work with the CIA, according to a report in the Boston Globe from this week.

    The report, based on information uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act request made six years ago, said that Taylor had a relationship with the US spy agency for years, although the details of what he actually did were unclear.

    “The Pentagon’s response to the Globe states that the details of Taylor’s role on behalf of the spy agencies are contained in dozens of secret reports – at least 48 separate documents – covering several decades,” the US newspaper said.

    “However, the exact duration and scope of the relationship remains hidden.”

    A spokesperson for the ICC told the Globe that the Taylor-CIA relationship was unrelated to his charges at the court.

    The Globe report backed up long-standing rumours of Taylor’s work with the CIA, which confirmed a relationship with Taylor beginning in the early 1980s.

    Even though this happened during the Reagan administration, this still gives me no pride.

    Charles Taylor?

    Think “blood diamonds.”

    And mass executions.

    Taylor  is accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity on claims that he armed Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for illegally mined, so-called blood diamonds.


  • Video: Jonas Brothers Trapped in and Elevator

    Here you go: the terrifying, riveting video all Jonas Brothers fans have been waiting for. Yes, this heart-stopping moment is brought to you by AOL News.

    No, this isn’t ‘Love in an Elevator.’ This is the Jonas Brothers, after all.

    Enjoy these meaningless few minutes as you watch the brothers elude danger, certain death…, well, none of that, really. If you’re here, just enjoy.


  • Caveat Lector! This is the Internet, After All!

    For all our readers, we have revised our About Turning Left page to include a caveat

    Turning left is a collection of the musings and reflections of select authors, all of whom have been turning farther and farther left for quite some time. As the right continues to raise its ugly head, it is more and more apparent that all of us should be Turning Left. We are proudly, unabashedly liberal.

    Let it be clear: Turning Left is first, and foremost, opinion.  We do not claim to publish first-hand news. We will point the reader to first-hand sources, and, we must stress, caveat lector! Let the reader beware!  Remember, something is not true just because it exists online.  Please do your own fact checking!

    Our goal is not to mock or hide behind anonymity. Our goal is Truth, Veritas, and we recognize that human rights are still being denied many in this the United States and abroad. We wish to help shed light where there is darkness.

    We respect the right of our authors to remain anonymous. The anonymous journalist helped shape this country, the United States, and many anonymous journalists labor today in the U.S. and more oppressive countries. In the proud tradition of Thomas Paine and countless others, we invite you to join us as we all continue Turning Left together.


  • eNews Park Forest Editors Endorse John C. Griffin for Judge in the 15th Subcircuit

    From ENEWSPF:

    Our pick for judge in the 15th Subcircuit, Phelan vacancy, is Judge John C. Griffin of Palos Heights. Griffin has four opponents, and was appointed to the bench in 2008. He sits in the Chancery Division.

    Judge Griffin is a true Democrat. One of his opponents in the Democratic Primary is a life-long Republican who is seeking election in 2010 as a Democrat. This opponent has stated that he recognizes that it’s impossible to be elected from this region as a Republican. This opponent has been Republican supervisor in Bloom Township for several years (having defeated now State Senator Toi Hutchinson when she ran as the Democratic candidate for supervisor in 2005).

    When endorsing judges, we rely on the experts, especially experts who belong to bar associations.

    The Chicago Council of Lawyers found Judge Griffin qualified, writing:

    Judge Griffin was admitted to practice in 1976. For 31 years he was in private practice
    primarily handling real estate, zoning and development-related matters. In March 2008, he was
    appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to a judicial vacancy. He has served in Traffic Court
    and currently presides over mortgage foreclosure matters in the Foreclosure/Mechanic’s Lien
    Section. Judge Griffin is reported to have good legal ability and an excellent temperament. He
    had a good reputation as a hard-working and knowledgeable attorney and is praised for his
    courtroom management skills and for being well-prepared. The Council finds him Qualified for
    the Circuit Court.

    In addition, Judge Griffin has been found qualified or recommended (per each organization’s policies) by all associations performing review:

    • The Chicago Bar Association – Qualified
    • Illinois State Bar Association – Qualified
    • Cook County Bar Association – Recommended
    • Chicago Council of Lawyers – Qualified
    • Women’s Bar Association of Illinois – Recommended
    • Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago – Recommended
    • Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois – Highly Qualified
    • The Decalogue Society of Lawyers – Recommended
    • Asian American Bar Association – Recommended
    • Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois – Recommended
    • Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. – Recommended

    We give Judge John C. Griffin our highest recommendation, and encourage all in the 15th Subcircuit to vote for him.

    I’m quoting the entire endorsement — with permission — but I want to focus on one point in particular.

    What, indeed is a Democrat? What, indeed, is a Republican?

    One of John Griffin’s opponents was a Republican who ran as a Republican against Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr.; and he was the unsuccessful Republican candidate against Democratic Judge Anna Demacopoulos in 2008.

    Judge Griffin is a true, life-long Democrat, a true member of the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama. I urge you to vote for John C. Griffin to fill the 15th Subcircuit judicial vacancy. Besides all of those Democratic credentials, I have met with John Griffin several times. He’s an ethical person. Ethics are crucial in a judge. I sense an incredible sincerity when I speak with John.

    Vote for Judge John C. Griffin. He deserves nomination to be the Democratic party’s candidate in the November election.


  • Mystery Visitor to Poe’s Grave Is a No-Show

    From ABC:

    It is what Edgar Allan Poe might have called "a mystery all insoluble": Every year for the past six decades, a shadowy visitor would leave roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on Poe’s grave on the anniversary of the writer’s birth. This year, no one showed.

    Did the mysterious "Poe toaster" meet his own mortal end? Did some kind of ghastly misfortune befall him? Will he be heard from nevermore?

    "I’m confused, befuddled," said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum. "I don’t know what’s going on."

    The visitor’s absence this year only deepened the mystery over his identity. One name mentioned as a possibility was that of a Baltimore poet and known prankster who died in his 60s last week. But there is little or no evidence to suggest he was the man.

    Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. Poe.


  • On Emulating Abraham Lincoln and the Perils of Text Messaging

    Lincoln Memorial

    Have you ever been so angry at friends or life in general that you wanted to explode? Ever fall into a funk with life, feeling down and out, dejected and disheartened?

    I was in such a place just before Christmas. The winter solstice brings out the best and worst in us, I suppose. So it was I did “beweep my [perceived] outcast state.” When I found myself in this uncomfortable place, I remembered one of the ways Abraham Lincoln used to deal with his own anger and melancholy: Abe would write letters expressing his deepest feelings, and never send them.

    I tried that with a few text messages, and got burned when I accidentally sent a couple of them.

    Abraham Lincoln I’m not.

    Abraham Lincoln, two words that mean “America” almost more than “Old Glory.” I try to emulate Abe in politics, in the way I write, in the way I deal with people. I’ve also tried to employ some of Honest Abe’s coping mechanisms. To make a point in an argument or debate, Lincoln would tell a clever short story, emphasis on short. With brevity and humor, Lincoln would make his point, helping to quell a potentially polemical debate. In doing so, the man succeeded in building bridges, working with people who disagreed with him significantly.

    Lincoln also had his bouts with depression. Consider an excerpt from God, Lincoln and Depression, published January 2, 2010 Psychology Today:

    Abraham Lincoln is an unusual psychological case study. He was both chronically melancholy, and yet among the strongest people in history.

    Lincoln lost perhaps his one true love, and married a mentally unstable woman who abused him. He loved his sons – indulged them ridiculously – but one died very young, and another (Willie) died at age 11 in the White House, almost breaking Lincoln.

    Oddly, the same philosophical-psychological outlook caused Lincoln to be both depressed, and incredibly strong. Lincoln was not a Christian, as he was raised. But it is not accurate to call him a disbeliever. His parents were hard-core Baptists, and Lincoln rejected their church. But their Calvinist views of predestination had an indelible impact on Lincoln.

    Throughout his life, Lincoln was stricken with bouts of sometimes paralyzing melancholy. And although he enjoyed reading, telling stories, practicing law, political machinations – and playing with his children above all – Lincoln was never a cheerful person.

    One method Abraham Lincoln employed to work through his occasional anger, depression and bouts of self-doubt was to write letters. To his credit, he never sent most of the letters he wrote. Lincoln wrote many letters expressing disappointment and anger, placed each letter in an envelope addressed to the person who was the target of his wrath, put the envelop in a drawer, and moved on. Many of these letters, according to Lincoln on Leadership, were in the form of conversations. Lincoln would go all out, expressing in these letters his anger and criticism of his subordinates, often in very scathing terms, then seal the letters, leaving them forever undelivered.

    The website LettersNeverSent.com shares a passage from Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People, a book I read in my youth, and should probably read again:

    As Abraham Lincoln lay dying of an assassin’s bullet, Secretary of War Stanton was quoted as saying “There lies the most perfect ruler of men that the world has ever seen.”

    What made Lincoln such a great leader? He succeeded in curing himself of the critical spirit we’ve talked about this morning.

    Lincoln had suffered through inept and bungling generals for the first three years of the war. McClellen, Pope, Burnside, and Hooker… but in the summer of 1863, it seemed that the Union under General Meade would finally be able to crush the confederacy. Lee had stumbled badly at Gettysburg and needed to flee back across the Potomac to regroup and survive. But the Potomac was swollen and crossing was impossible. Sensing victory at hand, Lincoln sent both a telegraph and a special messenger to Meade specifically instructing him not to hold a war council but to attack immediately. What did Meade do? He held his war council and delayed. Because of that delay Lee had the time to move his troops across the river to safety.

    Lincoln was crushed. In anger he composed this letter:

    “My dear General,

    I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within our easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so south of the river, when you can take with you very few – no more than 2/3’s of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect and I do no expect that you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it.”

    What do you suppose Meade did when he read that letter?… He never did. Lincoln never sent the letter. It was found later amongst Lincoln’s papers following his death. Why didn’t he send it? Because he had come to grips with a critical spirit and determined to defeat it.

    Abraham Lincoln

    As I mentioned, while in my less-than-happy place before the Christmas holiday, I decided to tap out a few text messages expressing my anger and disappointment at life. I don’t text many people, so I opened the last few messages I had sent, and started clumsily typing in my mobile phone. In the back of my mind, I was remembering Abraham Lincoln, how he found writing like this therapeutic.

    I did too. It really helped.

    I went at it, giving vent to every petty insecurity I felt at the time. I was on fire.

    I did this over a period of a few days, each session choosing the last person I had texted in real life, filling a text field with my rambling rants, then I would go on to the next text message I had sent, and fill that field. After each therapy session, I would return to what I had written and carefully backspace over my diatribes, carefully erasing them.

    Or so I thought.

    Turns out I don’t send enough texts to know the subtleties of my phone’s messaging client.  In short, I really don’t know how to use the software.

    So, a few days later, while away for the holidays, feeling much better and enjoying family, I took it upon myself to send a couple of friendly text messages to some friends — or so I thought.

    On two occasions that I know of, I found that portions of my rants had not been completely deleted, somehow hiding above my phone’s cursor. Off they went to my friends, making my Christmas greetings sound like sarcastic stabs in the back.

    I’ll not suffer through the details of what I actually sent here.  Just know that what I sent sounded juvenile and trite.

    Instant communication is a wonderful thing, but it’s very hard to take back.

    So I write this hoping to pass along a lesson learned.  Be careful when you text — something I should have known.

    How would Lincoln have survived email, voicemail, and text messaging, I wonder?

    Better than I have, I’m sure.

    I still have explaining to do.


  • ‘As the World Turns’ Turns No More

    The last soap opera I watched consistently was "The Young and the Restless" back when I was in graduate school. I was hooked, and I’m glad I broke the habit.

    Apparently, I’m not alone.

    "As the World Turns" is going off the air.

    From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    Procter & Gamble, the company responsible for the phrase "soap operas," is out of the daytime drama business after 76 years now that CBS is making "As the World Turns" stop spinning.

    The network announced the cancellation on Tuesday, the day "As the World Turns" broadcast its 13,661st episode. Its last episode will air next September, CBS said.

    It’s the second daytime drama CBS has canceled in a year, after "Guiding Light." They were the last two produced by a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, the company for which the term "soap operas" was created because it used the shows to hawk products like Ivory soap and Duz laundry detergent.

    Daytime dramas have been fading as a genre for years with more women joining the work force and the increased number of channels offering alternatives like news, talk, reality and game shows. In tough economic times, paying casts, producers and writers proved prohibitive to networks when there were cheaper alternatives.

    The cancellation will leave CBS with only two daytime dramas: "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and Beautiful." ABC has three soaps left and NBC one.

    Through the years, actors Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey and James Earl Jones have appeared on "As the World Turns." The show follows families in the Illinois town of Oakdale.

    I won’t miss it.