EDITORIAL

Opinions expressed are mine. And in my opinion, should be yours as well. IMHO

If Women Are So Smart…

… then why do almost half of them still refuse to vote?

It’s 2014. This nation has elected a black president. Twice. Marriage equality is the norm in half the country, recognized by the federal government, and coming soon to a red state near you. But 40+ years after the Supreme Court decided that women have a Constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy, the mostly old, mostly white, mostly straight, mostly men of the Republican Party do everything they can to control you, your body, your life.  Women are no better than farm animals and men know what’s best for you. And when your neighborhood gets shot up and your children get hunted down and murdered in their schools, don’t you worry your pretty little heads! The old, white menfolk have the solution: more guns.

Women, you have a president in the White House who respects you, fights for you, and would sign into law any piece of legislation that empowers you and protects you and your family.

But you have a slim majority of Republicans in Congress which despises you, fights to keep you down, and would pass any law to maintain your second-class citizenship, and keep you at risk of rape and gun homicide, underpaid and subservient.

It’s 2014. It’s an election year. Every member of that House of Representatives is running for re-election in November. And YOU get to choose who stays and who goes. You. Little old you. Election Day is the only day on the calendar when women are the perfect equals of men. But you stay home on Election Day, year after year. Why?

Are you registered to vote? No? Don’t know? Doesn’t matter. Click here, on any word in this sentence, and you’ll be registered to vote in a couple of minutes.

voteAre you worried that you won’t be able to get to the polls on Election Day? It’s a Tuesday. You work? You’ve got kids? You’ve never voted before, you don’t know how? It’s a hassle? Then choose the vote-by-mail option and request an absentee ballot. One will be mailed to you. It’s free. You fill it out. If you need help understanding the ballot or who to vote for, ask someone you trust. Ask another woman. If the man in the dress at church tells you how to vote, then vote the other way. If all else fails, just vote for all the people who have a (D) next to their names! Mail it in before Election Day, and there – you’ve voted. You didn’t even have to leave your house. And if enough women do that, then you’ll have changed the world in a powerful way. Do you have a mother? sister? friend? neighbor? who don’t usually vote? Ask! Talk it up! Empower each other. Vote.

There are more women than men in this country. More women vote, too. But in any given election, 40% or 50% or 60% of women don’t vote. The same percentages apply to men, but here’s the thing: men don’t have nearly as much at stake as women do. Not even close. No one’s telling me what I can or cannot do with my own body! So yeah, it pisses me off that women don’t vote – because I’ve got to live in this world, too. And the same folks who think of you as so much cattle are bringing this country and this world to the brink of disaster.

Wake up, ladies. Vote!

votetwice

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Why Democrats Lose

The political media is on fire today with arguments and explanations for Sink’s loss to Jolly in the special election to fill a vacant Congressional seat in FL-13.

But there is only one reason why the Democrat lost this election.

There is only one reason why ANY Democrat EVER loses an election, and that is:

Democrats – who are already registered to vote – Do. Not. Vote.

DEMS LOSE

So, Alex Sink (D) lost to David Jolly (R) by less than 3,500 votes.

140,000 registered Democrats didn’t bother to vote.

That’s all you need to know. And that’s all the powers-that-be in the Democratic Party need to learn from this defeat. Will they? Debbie Wasserman-Schultz @DCCC… are you listening? Harry Reid… Nancy Pelosi… are you listening? President Obama… do you really want your last two years in office to include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joining Speaker Boehner?! Where is your vaunted OFA get-out-the-vote ground game?! They could get a black-Muslim-Kenyan-communist-community-organizer elected – TWICE! – but they can’t win with a well-known Dem in Florida running against yet-another-moronic Republican? In a district that YOU carried in 2012? WTF?!

22% of the electorate in FL-13 is 65-and-older. That equates to potentially 100,000+ voters. How many of them are registered Democrats? How many of those registered Democratic seniors had mail-in ballots for this election? All of them? No? Why not? It’s not like you don’t know their names and addresses! They are r-e-g-i-s-t-e-r-e-d D-e-m-o-c-r-a-t-s.

Democrats left thousands, tens of thousands of votes laying on the table in this FL-13 election. The media is already calling the November midterm elections for the GOP.

Here’s the good news. You get a REDO in FL-13 in November. That’s right. Rep. Jolly has to defend his newly won seat in the fall. (Along with every other member of Congress and 1/3 of the Senate.)

And let’s not forget Wendy Davis in Texas. She’s got a tough road ahead of her, eh? That’s what we hear. Gee, if only we had the actual results of the last two elections in Texas… Oh! Here they are now:

TX.2010.2012.2016

Texas has a non-partisan voter registration system, so we don’t know how many TX registered voters are (D) vs (R). But what is obvious from this graphic is that there were plenty of non-voting registered Dems in 2010 to swamp Perry’s margin of victory… if only they had turned out to vote. Wendy Davis… are you listening?

We hear so much about the Republicans gaming the system with gerrymandering districts, blah blah blah. That’s just an excuse used by lazy Democrats! If (already registered) Democrats actually voted in the November 2014 midterms, we would EASILY keep the Senate and take back the House.

So, what are we waiting for? This country has been gravely wounded by the do-nothing, know-nothing, “I’ve got mine!” Republicans. But the GOP has been gravely wounded by its do-nothing, know-nothing, racist, sexist, bigoted teabagger faction. The time for the Democrats to strike is now. The President’s economic, military/foreign policy and healthcare initiatives have been remarkably successful – in spite of the GOP’s constant sabotage.

Democrats: Stop talking about Hillary and 2016. Stop talking about what an uphill climb 2014 is. Stop talking, period. Start doing. We have seven months until voters will start casting ballots in early voting in the fall. How many mail-in ballots can we get in the hands of registered Democrats? How badly do we want to turn Congress blue in November? And the governorship in TX? And GA? And MI, OH, PA, WI?

What are we waiting for?

CPAC, Run!

CPAC, Run! Run, America, Run!

CPAC = Conservative Political Action Committee
Today is the opening of their 2014 clusterfuck…
Calling all teabaggers, gun-huggers, nutters, foxholes and assorted loons.

Are you ready? Let’s play CPAC bingo!!

CPAC.Bingo

These nattering nincompoops of nuttery are all on the official speakers schedule at CPAC this year. How many feces – er, that is, faces… can you match to their names?

Sarah Palin – the former half-governor of Alaska… Bobby Jindal – Governor of Louisiana whose GOP rebuttal to the 2009 State of the Union was a smiley-faced disaster; also the guy who wants “creationism” taught in science classes while urging Republicans to fiorina“stop saying stupid things” (good luck with that, guv)… Carly Fiorina – failed CEO of HP, failed Senate candidate, failed face lift… Reince Preibus – Chairman of the Republican National Committee, born without a chin, or any discernible charm… Jim DeMint – ex-Senator from South Carolina who quit to become president of the Heritage Foundation, which he converted from conservative think tank to Tea Party rubber stamp… Sen. Tim Scott – plucked from the House of Representatives by SC Governor Nikki Haley to fill Jim DeMint’s abandoned seat in the Senate – begging the question: Will he realize that he is black before the Tea Party does?… John Bolton – the circa Reagan/Bush neocon liar with the moustache that looks like he sniffs Clorox… Ann Coulter – a waste of human skin… Sen. Rand Paul Santorum– son of perennial presidential candidate Ron Paul and serial plagiarist… Grover Norquist – the “no taxes” pledge guy whose Tea Party pals are confused by his marriage to a Muslim woman… Newt Gingrich – disgraced ex-Speaker of the House whose outsized ego is unsupported by any evidence of actual greatness, offers his expert opinion on the sanctity of marriage having divorced two ex-wives and currently married to… Callista Gingrich – whose glassy-eyed stare and helmet hair would cause a stampede of frightened Stepford wives… Chris Christie – the morbidly obese, current (?) Governor of New Jersey, studier of traffic, and ex-front runner for the 2016 GOP nomination… Donald Trump – waste of human (?) hair… Mike Huckabee – ex-governor of Arkansas, serial candidate and/or “pastor”, told by Jesus to gain back all the weight (and gave Chris Christie the liquified doughnut recipe)… Phyllis Schlafly – is she still alive?! or is that a shrunken marcorubioapple head?… Rick Santorum – Google “santorum”, go ahead; failed ex-Senator from Pennsylvania, recurring presidential candidate with prehistoric social ideas and, truly, the scariest looking family in politics… Rick Perry – the soon-to-be-ex-governor of Texas who showed himself to be all hat and no horse in the 2012 primaries; he is back now, equipped with eyeglass frames that someone thinks will make him appear more intelligent than a bag of hairSen. Rafael Eduardo “Ted” Cruz – a Cuban-Canadian anchor baby whose only apparent goal is his own self-aggrandizement; a source of constant agita to the Republican establishment, and constant amusement to Democrats who enjoy watching Cruz attack the GOP like a walking, talking flesh-eating virus… Sen. Marco Rubio – who Time magazine once heralded as “The Republican Savior” (– and no, Time, you cannot have that cover back), that was before the 2013 State of the Union rebuttal disaster that made everyone forget about Bobby Jindal’s earlier SOTU rebuttal disaster. Well, actually, it made everyone remember Jindal, but then immediately forget about Jindal and agree that Rubio’s calistagingrichparched performance was worse… Rep. Paul Ryan – failed Romney running mate in 2012 and former GOP budget golden boy; he works out a lot, and does this thing with his mouth that makes it look like he forgot his dentures… Christine O’Donnell – failed ex-witch and Senate candidate from Delaware… Oliver North – (Because derp?)… and Wayne LaPierre – mouthpiece for the National Rifle Association, main sponsor of CPAC, and the man whom history will record as the worst mass murderer in American history for his sabotage of gun control legislation.

There’s the passenger list for the 2014 GOP clown car. There are some notable names missing here, but I’ll check back and update as more of the GOP/Tea Party faithful step into this unkind spotlight.

Extra Credit Bonus Question

Use the word “Benghazi” as a noun, a verb and an adjective. In the same sentence.
No, it doesn’t have to make sense. They never do.

Nochi

This just in from the Dept of Huh?!

I just saw a news report in The Guardian that the United States is offering military assistance to Russia – in the form of combat aircraft and naval vessels in the Black Sea – to help secure the Olympics in Sochi from terrorist threats.

“The United States has offered its full support to the Russian government as it conducts security preparations for the Winter Olympics,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.   http://goo.gl/mwnbPz

I have just a few thoughts about this.

First, if the American government is so concerned about Russia’s inability to protect the Sochi games from home-grown terrorists, it would be appropriate for the Pentagon to back down, and for the State Department to step up: pull the 300 American athletes out of harm’s way, now. In the same article, the Pentagon admits it will not be able to evacuate the Americans from Sochi in the event of attacks.

Also, what the hell are U.S. warships doing in the Black Sea? That is the equivalent of the Russian Navy conducting exercises in Lake Michigan. (Go ahead, look at the map. I’ll wait.) So, you know, the next time some food-stamp-Head-Start-and-unemployment-insurance-slashing Congressional teabagger tells you we can’t cut the defense budget… tell him/her/it that you’d rather we were feeding our kids in Cincinnati than paying for war games in the Crimea.

130726_k81h7_rci-gay-russia_sn635And this: Why is Obama doing more to save Putin’s ass in Sochi than we are to support the many thousands of Russia’s gay and lesbian citizens who have been targeted by Putin’s draconian anti-gay laws, brutalized by Putin’s police state, and terrorized by Russian thugs?

I love Billie Jean King, and I don’t doubt that she will carry the “gays are people too” flag with pride and dignity while in Sochi. But when she looks out to see our ships standing sentry off the coast, will she know they are there to protect Putin – and not the victims of his anti-gay crimes?

The Ultimate Selfie

The photograph above is one of the most famous ever taken. You might say it’s our first family portrait. Earthrise. Taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts orbiting the Moon in 1968. #WOW

Now, look at the next photo:

Earth Jupiter Venus seen from Mars

See those three bright stars in the sky? Looks like Orion’s belt. But they’re not stars; they’re planets. One is Jupiter. One is Venus. One is Earth.

Earth? That’s right. One of those bright points of light is… us. As seen from the surface of Mars. So think about that for a moment. Four billion years ago we were primordial ooze. (Or, six thousand years ago, if you’ve been told the bible is a science textbook.) Then we grew up, up, up, up, up, up, up fast forward to crawling out of the ocean and more growing up, up, up. And now we’ve managed to fling a robot go-kart a few hundred million miles through our solar system to land on Mars. And what does it do when it gets there? Like any good tourist it drives around, gets bored, and takes a selfie. #wishyouwerehere

In other news: Parts of the United States were colder than Mars this week. Google it if you must. It’s called climate change. But that’s another post.

Mary Cheney’s Wife, Heather Poe, is a Goddamn Hero

Giving credit where credit is due: Heather Poe took a stand for herself, her marriage, her family. And it’s about time. I like to think of her as Ian McKellan’s Gandalf, facing the fire-demon Balrog on the bridge: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!! Gandalf emerged the victor in that battle, and so has Heather Poe. Vanquishing the pathetic Liz Cheney and her sclerotic parents. If Mary Cheney had any spine at all, she would change her name to Poe and never look back at the hot, steaming mess that is the Cheney clusterfuck.

Meanhood

Lots of analysis on Liz Cheney’s failed Senate bid, most of it is boring and written by people pretending to know better…

Ultimately we don’t know whether it was the family fissure or dwindling prospects (or both) that caused her to drop her anti-gay carpetbagging bid for the Senate, so I want to focus my efforts on talking about the actual hero in all this: Mary Cheney and her wife Heather Poe.

It was the typical Cheney’s brand of consolidated political power masked as a wholesome family portrait. Pop and Mom Cheney looked on with pride as eldest daughter Liz made her bid for the Senate, and it was business as usual for Liz when she said she was for “traditional” marriage (which is a nice way of saying you’re anti-gay). She was just repeating the GOP talking point, that was all, part of me wonders if she even knew…

View original post 513 more words

This Just In… Part Deux

Canadian-born U.S. Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-TX) has confirmed that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship. Canada’s reaction to this news was typically understated:

happy maple leaf

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is exploring the possibility of renouncing the citizenship of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Since it seems that Canada is pursuing a dastardly scheme to export its craziest political operatives to the United States, you can do your part to repel this invasion. Click on the Happy Maple Leaf to go to Rock The Vote and get yourself registered to vote! It only takes a few minutes. #2014 primaries are just months away… 306 days till Election Day in November. Let’s get moving, eh?

The Easiest Resolution You’ll Ever Keep

Quit smoking? You should. I did. But that’s another post. Lose weight? Get in shape? You should. I’m trying. But that’s another post. Follow Steve’s blog? See how good you are at this?!

Most of the resolutions we make are difficult to keep. We are almost doomed to failure. We know that going in. We forgive ourselves in advance for not making it. There is one New Year’s resolution, though, that you’re not making. No one ever picks this one. But it’s incredibly important. Patriotic. Responsible. Necessary. Oh, and it’s bizarrely easy to do. Failure is damned near impossible. It’s free (in most places). And it feels good.

Register to vote. easy

That’s right. Get yourself registered to vote. If you are an American who has reached the age of 18 and who is eligible to vote, then you have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not being registered to vote. At the end of this post is a link that will get you registered. You can register online; it only takes a few minutes. I was already registered, but I just re-registered (so I could recommend this way of doing it). I live in Los Angeles, and all that I needed was my Driver’s License (or State ID) number, the last four digits of my Social Security number, my address and date of birth. Presto. Done. I instantly received an email from the California Secretary of State confirming my shiny new status as a registered voter. Different states have different rules, but the Rock The Vote website whisks you through your state’s process. How’s that for an easy-to-keep resolution? You’re welcome.

I’m guessing most who read this blog post are already registered to vote. Once you’ve registered, you’re good to go until you move, or if you want to change your party affiliation. If you’re like me, you vote in every election. Every year, Election Day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. We elect presidents every four years. We elect all of Congress and one-third of the Senate in even-numbered years. There are state and county and municipal elections for candidates and ballot measures every year, along with the odd special election to fill vacant seats. And in the months leading up to the General Election in November, there are all those lovely primaries where the parties get to pick their candidates for the final contest.

So, you love to vote and wouldn’t miss it? You find something sacred in this most secular of rites. Whether you live in a sprawling city or tiny town, you love the unique coming together in your ‘polling place’ – the school gymnasium, church hall, fire station or library. You actually wear that “I voted” sticker proudly on your lapel or your smartphone case. Maybe you’re even a bit of a political junkie? Great. But you’re not off the hook. Here’s a resolution for the (small d) democratic overachievers like you: Find someone you know who is not registered to vote, and help her get registered. (You cannot legally do it for another person, but you can walk her through the process.) And then resolve to help her cast that vote in the upcoming primaries and on Election Day. Or in early voting. Or by mail.

Are you reading this and wondering whether or not you are registered to vote? My advice is to assume you aren’t and go through the quick process to register. Even if you were registered, the new filing simply ‘overwrites’ the old one. Can’t hurt. So go ahead, get yourself registered. And then go the extra mile and help someone else you know who needs to register and vote in this year’s elections.

Whatever your politics, whatever your priorities, the 2014 elections WILL have a significant impact on YOUR life and on those you love. I won’t tell you which way to vote. That’s another post. In 2012, 130 million Americans voted for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for President. That’s a lot of people… but still only 58% of the people who were eligible to vote.

2014 is a so-called “off-year election” because it’s not a presidential contest. It’s “only” the entire House of Representatives, 1/3 of the Senate, governors and legislatures in many states, and ballot measures to determine everything from your sales taxes, minimum wage, women’s reproductive health care, voting rights, gun control, who can marry, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, et cetera. These are not small questions, nor dull topics. Whether you like it or not, you’ve got one or more horses in this race. But voting patterns for off-year elections are long established, and if they hold true in 2014, only about 40% of Americans who are eligible to vote will bother to cast a ballot.

votetwiceThink about that. 40 million people – who voted (D) or (R) for president in 2012 – are likely to just sit out the 2014 elections. Why? That’s another post. THIS post is about how we can change that. It’s not difficult. It costs nothing. We are going to get ourselves registered. We are going to help would-be non-voters get themselves registered. We are going to vote. And we are going to help would-be non-voters to cast their votes.

I am not going to donate or raise money for any candidate or party in 2014. Our political system is drowning in money. But I am going to work like hell to make sure more people vote for the candidates and causes that I support. And you should do the same. Think about it this way: it’s like voting twice. Or ten times, or a hundred. Without the slightest whiff of fraud. BOOM. There are “register to vote” buttons and links scattered all over my blog. Give it a whirl. You can click on the VOTE TWICE image or the EASY BUTTON in this post.

Illegitimum Non Carborundum

Harvard bannerOne of the more interesting things about the Grant Study is that it exists at all. This longitudinal study followed hundreds of Harvard men though 75 years of life – beginning in 1938. That alone is quite an accomplishment. But the study aimed higher. It wants to know (and dares to tell us): What makes us happy?

The Business Insider synopsis (link below) has a link to a lengthy article in The Atlantic from 2009, which goes spelunking into the caverns of data collected in this study. (I haven’t read the longer article yet. If there are moral or ethical land mines ahead, well, proceed at your own risk.)

Of course, from our oh so highly evolved vantage point 75 years later, the very premise of this study does seem a bit quaint – if not ridiculously condescending. Let’s compromise there and agree to call it somewhat limited in scope.

The only people qualified to be part of this study were men (presumably white) born c. 1920 who entered Harvard College (so, sufficiently educated and wealthy) in the late 1930s. They got their start in life just after the end of WWI and found themselves at Harvard just before the outbreak of WWII. They survived the deprivations of Prohibition and their fortunes had survived The Crash. All in all, they’d had a fairly cushy berth on the way to participating in the Grant Study. (A soupcon of context: JFK was just two years ahead of these Harvard plebes.)

But, it’s where each man went from there, what he went on to achieve, and how much fulfillment he reported over the years that informs the study and its conclusions. One drank himself to death before the ink was dry on his sheepskin. One said he ‘wouldn’t change a thing’ after 60 years of marriage. And everything in between. Or, as much of “everything” as this plaid-clad cohort is likely to have experienced in 20th century American life. Is there a formula for happiness? Can two people even agree on a definition of happiness? And might we surmise some natural divergence among the post-graduate experiences available to a man from Yale or Princeton, or – heaven forfend – Berkeley?smileyface

George Valliant, who piloted the study for three decades, has succinctly stated the study’s findings: “Happiness is love. Full stop.”

As for the fairer sex… this study would advise her to marry a liberal Harvard man who loves moderation and his mother – and then hang on tight. Your reward, apparently, comes in your seventh decade and beyond. Unless you’d rather be shopping, in which case you should choose a conservative Harvard man.

Grant Study Reveals What Makes Us Happy – Business Insider.

Extra Credit
One GET OUT OF DETENTION card goes to the first person who correctly identifies (in Comments) the source and meaning of the title of this post. (Unless you’re Kip Meyer, Class of ’84.)

This Is Why We Fight The Hate

Alan Turing

Alan was a 40 year old with a bright future. His career was going well, and he had recently started dating a nice guy named Arnold. One night, though, he came home to find his apartment had been burglarized. He reported the crime to the police. And when they learned that he was in a relationship with a man, they arrested him for the crime of being gay. His career was ruined. To avoid jail, he was forced to undergo chemical castration. Shortly after this, at the age of 41, Alan committed suicide.

That was 60 years ago. Alan was Alan Turing, the mathematician who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code. One of the great heroes of WW2, he is credited with saving countless Allied lives – and very likely saving Britain from a German-speaking future. You’ve already read how quickly England forgot this man’s contributions. Click on the link, below, to read Katie Halper’s excellent piece on this shameful chapter of history.

Yesterday, the Queen of England issued a royal pardon to Alan Turing, erasing the 1952 conviction… that erased the remainder of his life. There are some things that, once taken, cannot be restored. Not even by royal proclamation.

More than 50,000 others were prosecuted by Britain for the same “crime”, their lives left in ruins. And for what? To satisfy the moronic mob mentality that gay is sick, evil and therefore must be criminal.

Sixty years later, and we’ve come so far from those dark days. We dance at the weddings of our gay friends and relatives, and they check the “spouse” box on government forms. The U.K. and much of Western Europe recognize same-sex marriage. America’s states fall like dominos: 18 of 50 now recognize marriage equality (2 more than last week), along with the federal government.

But the same old hatred lingers in the shadows of ignorance and bigotry. As our communities evolve into a more egalitarian and humane society, the haters come out of the shadows and become ever more shrill. The election of a black president brought the most virulent strains of American racism out from under the rug where that had merely been swept, never eradicated. And now, too, the folks who hate “the gays” grow more vocal and visible as they lose every battle on the way to losing the war.

Here come the pseudo-pious douchebags of the American christianist right: from the pulpits to the pols to pathological “God Hates Signs” turds… and these strange duck people who have now crawled out of the swamp. They peddle their noxious, fraudulent “ex gay” persecution of gay kids. As Russia’s economy slumps in the 15th year of Herr Putin’s reign, he turns to the old standby of gay bashing to put a little air under his right wing (and the world rewards him with the Olympics). The murderous anti-gay cabal running Uganda is funded and fanned by the Who-Would-Jesus-Kill wing of the Republican Party. Not to be outdone by the christianists, the Islamic nations keep their people in 14th century chains… and India decides to resuscitate an anti-gay law left behind by its British overlords in the 1840s.

noh8Had Alan Turing lived, he would be 101 years old today. If he could experience the world we live in now, he would likely blink in disbelief at the progress toward racial and sexual equality we have fought so hard to achieve. But he would also be sadly, terribly familiar with the fear and loathing that still exists for sexual minorities, women and people of color.

As hard as it is to take, I prefer the hatred to be forced out into the open, on display, for all to see – because sunlight is the best disinfectant. Disney / ABC / A&E might be confused about whether hate sells… but most people are repelled by it. Especially this time of year. So lather up with the sunscreen, all you duck people, preachers and pinheads. The forecast is for supernova.

Britain posthumously pardons scientist it chemically castrated.

Ten More Kids Will Be Shot Dead By Christmas

www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats

Occupy Democrats

If you want gun control in this country, then show the crime scene photographs of the children who are blown to bits by semi-automatic gunfire. “That’s insensitive to the familes!” Really? Their children have been murdered. They’re dead. They’re not coming back. They’re not growing up. And why? Because the will of the vast majority of Americans is nullified by a handful of lobbyists who bribe/extort a few dozen members of Congress.
    Like so many, I assumed the unprecedented HORROR at Sandy Hook Elementary would – finally – be enough to break the NRA’s hold on Congress. The country was convulsed in shock and grief. Public opinion was almost unanimous for new, effective, federal gun control laws. The president’s resolve, along with that of many in Congress, seemed unshakeable.
    And like so many, I was stunned and disgusted by the total capitulation of our national political “leadership” to the gun lobby – within mere months of Newtown.
    I also have to say this – as unpopular as it will be: I am so frustrated with all the well-meaning groups who raise money, put up websites, release videos, collect signatures on endless petitions… to what end?! I do appreciate that this activity can be extremely therapeutic for some concerned people, especially the families of the dead. I get that. But… are they just lulling the country to sleep with the illusion of doing something?
    As the first anniversary approaches, some of the families of Newtown have made an appeal for people to do an act of kindness in remembrance of the dead. An act of kindness? OK. But what about an Act of Congress?! The fact is, gun sales broke records in the year since Newtown. And 200 more kids have been murdered with guns. TWO. HUNDRED. MORE. KIDS. SHOT DEAD. The average age of these kids? Six years old. Can you even wrap your head around these statistics? I cannot. This carnage is the equivalent of about one “Newtown” every month. (click on the graphic for more details and a link to the source page)
    So, if you want gun control in this country, show the photos. Speaking truth to the NRA’s power requires our most powerful truth: the horrific, gruesome, soul-shattering photographs of dead kids in their classrooms. Or wherever they are killed by bullets fired from guns. In their living rooms. On street corners. In cinemas and malls. Wherever, whenever.The last photo taken of them is the only voice these kids can still raise against the guns that ended their lives, so young, so brutally. And for no other reason than our collective, cowardly inability to save them. Show the photos.

“Maybe she just had a rough night.”

We’ve had a cold snap in Los Angeles in the last week, and a little rain. Overnight lows plummeting into the 40s. Brrrrrr. On Saturday morning, I took Charlie, Bernardo and Tiger out to the dog run at our condo. It was chilly, gray and drizzling – the kind of day you grow to appreciate after years in Southern California. Sunshiny warmth, believe it or not, gets a little boring.

sidewalk findI was pre-caffeine so not too sharp. But I noticed something on the sidewalk outside the dog run fence. I brought the dogs inside and went back out for a closer look. It was a strange collection of items. Several large spools of twine or wire. An empty tote bag. A pair of black pumps. A folded up “no parking” sign. A shirt. A small cloth bag. And a thoroughly smashed iPhone.

If this was evidence, it didn’t suggest an open-and-shut case.

But it wasn’t the happiest little vignette. A smashed iPhone alone could ruin your day. (And it wasn’t just scratched or cracked – this phone had been destroyed.) What worried me was the possibility that a woman had been mugged here, or met with some violence. It’s a safe enough neighborhood, but our street dead ends at our building, two blocks up from Sunset Blvd. And stranger things have happened. In fact, they happen every day. So I did what I thought was the responsible thing. I called the non-emergency number for the West Hollywood Sheriff. After I explained why I was calling, the deputy told me “to bring it in”.

Huh?

“You told me you found someone’s purse, so bring it in.”

“That’s not what I said at all. And isn’t this the part where the police want to come have a look?”

“No. Bring it in.”

So, I did what I thought was the responsible thing. I dialed 911.

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Long story short: 911 transferred me back to the Sheriff. A woman deputy answered and I was momentarily relieved. Until she cross-examined me: Didn’t you call here a little while ago?! – and then transferred me to the deputy I had originally spoken to. He said he couldn’t believe I had called 911. Really? I asked him if he had a wife, a sister or a daughter. He berated me for “not following his instructions”. WHAT?!

So, I did what I thought was the responsible thing. I hung up. And sent an email to a news producer at KTLA. In the sad event that this story got uglier – there would be a record of my calls and the Sheriff’s terrible ennui with the whole affair.

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Here’s why I find this even more galling. Two years ago, a neighbor had left her dog locked up in the house for what seemed like days. The dog was barking incessantly for hours on end. I called Animal Control, which referred me to the Sheriff. They dispatched a car with two deputies – immediately.

Last year, another neighbor decided to clearcut the trees in our greenbelt to improve her view. There was a mini-riot brewing. I called the Sheriff’s Department. They dispatched a car and two deputies – immediately. In fact, this happened on three separate occasions. The Sheriff showed up promptly, each time.

So, I’m just trying to understand why barking dogs and endangered trees get an immediate response from the West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department – but a concerned resident’s report of a woman’s belongings found strewn on the sidewalk one morning, with a strong suggestion of possible violence (the smashed phone)… is summarily dismissed. I know there are many places in this country where women are considered second-class citizens. Being female seems to be this society’s pre-existing condition, in so many ways. But I didn’t expect to find this attitude in Los Angeles. Or especially in West Hollywood – which thinks of itself as oh so highly evolved in matters of civil and human rights. This is a shameful episode. If the worst thing that happened here that night is a lost pair of shoes and a broken phone – it is no thanks to the three people I spoke to in Los Angeles law enforcement agencies on Saturday morning. I don’t even remember who it was now, but someone suggested “maybe she just had a rough night”.

Maybe. Now I’m going to share this with pretty much every elected official in Southern California. I’ll let you know if anyone thinks this matter could have been handled more effectively. I think there are a few people who deserve to have a rough day over this.