Virtually Speaking Thursday

Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. 6p PT/9P ET – Listen live or later

Engaging the surveillance state. Editor, writer & social media consultant Ian Welsh – “The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine” – comes by to continue his extended conversation with host Jay Ackroyd.

Read Ian here Follow @IWelsh @JayAckroyd

Why French children do not have ADHD….

An interesting comparison

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%.

In the United States ADHD is treated as a biological-neurological disorder and is often treated with prescription drugs. The French, however, believe it is a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes.

From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means “frame” or “structure.” Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies “cry it out” if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months….

Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.” And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.

I know some children’s biology is the cause of their ADHD and symptoms can be so severe they need that medication. It is a blessing for parents that have tried very hard to deal with the problems associated with ADHD. What is alarming to me is the disparity in diagnosis rates between the two countries. It seems like a good idea to try good structure, behavior and boundary methods before medication. This might not be the easiest route, but, it is important to not throw a pill at every childhood problem, especially those that are just slightly deviant from the norm, you know, kids acting like a kids.


If there’s anything that makes me furious, it’s when wingnuts start insisting that small children who face ordeals like this do not need any help from anyone to thrive. Instead, we get lectures about people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps — when some people don’t even have boots.

Going Bulworth

I’ll believe this when I see it:

The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama has spoken privately of “going Bulworth,” a reference to the 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a California Senate candidate who becomes unusually honest after having having run as a centrist Democrat.

“Probably every president says that from time to time,” Obama adviser David Axelrod told the Times. “It’s probably cathartic just to say it. But the reality is that while you want to be truthful, you want to be straightforward, you also want to be practical about whatever you’re saying.”

The anecdote comes as the president has his reelection behind him and faces a trifecta of controversies over IRS targeting of the tea party, the handling of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the Department of Justice’s seizure of the telephone records of Associated Press journalists.
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Can America still keep a promise?

From recent history, I’d say probably not. Tyler Cabot at Esquire:

Noor, as he prefers to be called, is not unique among the 166 men who remain at Guantánamo. He’s an illiterate peasant from Sudan who worked as a quartermaster and small arms trainer at a low-level, jihadist training camp in Afghanistan in the years before 9/11. He never plotted any terror attacks, never killed or hurt a single American. He was a minor figure, powerless. Or in the words of someone close to the team that prosecuted him, “one of life’s losers.” Many of the men at Guantánamo are like Noor: small men who somehow became the enemy of the most powerful nation of all time.

And yet Noor was also very different in 2011. Because his case was actually advancing through the tribunal system, he was seen by many as one of the lucky ones at Guantánamo. Unlike the dozens of others who remained uncharged, or had been cleared for repatriation to their home countries yet frozen in place by Congress, Noor was getting his day in court before a military judge and jury. And if convicted, he would serve his time and be able to go home to Sudan.

He was also different because my father was his lawyer. For years I’d watched from afar as my father, Howard Cabot, balanced his responsibilities as a corporate defense litigator with his constant trips to Guantánamo to represent Noor. I’d heard about the military transport planes he often flew, the jungle rats, the humidity so stifling that one lived in a constant stream of sweat. But also of the challenges of representing an accused terrorist so different from him, and my father’s fundamental belief in the need to do so, because every person of every belief deserved justice; that was the foundation of America’s legal system. And now I was with my dad on this vanished island outpost, observing from the press box at the back of the fortified courtroom.
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