I hope this becomes a forum for interesting discussions on topics that are compelling, important and even banal. I hope I can post your thoughtful comments and ideas for further discussion. In those early days of newpapers, some editors continued a back and forth with letter writers. If the subject warrants it, I hope we can do that.

I have no grand plans to use this in any way as a commercial venture. I am comfortable where I am and feel it would lessen the passion I have for this if there is a fiduciary interest. I seek truth, transparency and a reminder that we are the people, and those who serve do so at our behest and whim. We must never relinquish the power we have as citizens and cannot take for granted, the rights and responsibilities that are part of the package.

President Obama was able to energize and mobilize a generation to make them part of this republican democracy we have. It is important for the future of our country that they stay informed and energized. Let’s hope we can show them what substance looks like.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Our daughter invited us to celebrate her birthday in her and her husband’s new apartment next weekend. They live in the Bay area, we are in Los Angeles. A few years ago, I would have simply gone to either one of two airports, waited for the next flight and been there with an investment of about two hours.

Today, I would have to leave home about two hours before a flight, which should be booked in advance, making sure we have not inadvertently left a nail clipper or other weapon in an overnight kit. Then, off with the shoes, the belts, the back and forth through the gates, the buzzer going off because you stuck the extra camera battery in your watch pocket and forgot it was there. I really hate that! It feels like I’m in prison and it certainly does not make me feel any safer. It also adds a lot of wasted time to my trip. Time I could use to mellow out, instead of becoming aggravated at the sheer mindlessness of the entire “security” process.

What I really find stupefying, though, is what a gold mine the TSA is missing out on.

Shortly after these more stringent rules went into effect, I went to the airport with my Swiss Army knife in my pocket. It has always been a part of me. I find I use it more than a couple of times a week and it just feels right to have it there. I realized as soon as I emptied my pockets, I wouldn’t be able to take it, but I thought of a way to save it. After all, the very same daughter we want to visit gave me that particular knife for my birthday when she was still in grade school. It was special to me.

“Do you have an envelope?” I asked, “I’ll pay whatever the postage and mail it to myself.”

Giving me a look of utter incomprehension, and pointing to a bin with scores of similar souvenirs of forgetfulness, “Just toss it in there,” the factotum said.

“Is there somewhere I can get an envelope?” I pleaded, to no avail.

The idea still sounds good. The TSA should buy a bunch of padded envelopes in two or three sizes. Then, since they have enough samples, find the average weight of a knife, scissors, corkscrew, add a buck or so and stamp them. How difficult would it be to have a couple of stacks of those pre-paid padded envelopes next too the x-ray machines and seats for tying shoes? Some of those pinking shears, knitting needles or other weapons, I’m sure, have sentimental value, like mine did. I would have paid up to $5 for an envelope already stamped, just to get it back. The TSA could have made $3.50 on the deal.

But that might be too easy. After all, this is the government. It just seems so simple because it is so simple. Buy low, sell high, the basic premise of business. If they don’t know how to get it done, there are about a couple of million unemployed people who could probably show them how. I’ll even bet the government has a supply of those envelopes already on hand. If you don’t want to pre stamp them, put in a postage machine. Like the ones in the post office. They even take credit cards.

There, that’s my free advice on how to increase income for the Postal Service, which is operating at a huge deficit, and for TSA so they can buy some more spiffy uniforms.

It doesn’t have to be done all at once all over the place. But I bet if you test these envelopes and/or machines in places like LAX and JFK, and other major cities, this could be another way for the government to collect money. What would Tush Limpaw say about that?

I don’t care. I’ve heard all I ever need to hear from that blowhard, so, just to make sure we don’t find that’s the only thing other than radio preachers we hear, we’ll be driving to the Bay Area next weekend, listening to audio books checked out of the public library. The few additional hours away from home will be a lot more enjoyable. With or without the envelopes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


For the second time in six months, the City of Los Angeles was ordered by the court to pay more than $2 million to a female police officer who had been sexually harassed. The first time, a jury awarded $2.35 million to another female cop. This time it was $2.3 million. You could probably buy an entire fleet of new cars, or hire 40 more cops or do more outreach – or something more positive than punishing the department for tacitly condoning behavior that was inappropriate in the 7th grade.

There are some men, it seems, who are so insecure in who they are, that they behave like bullies to prove to the world that they are tough and “manly,” whatever that means. The most recent victim to be awarded the money, had, among other things done to her, had her head forced into a male cop’s crotch, who said, “I thought you’d never ask.”

Would he do that to a male officer?

Some would ask, “why didn’t she just kick him in the nuts?” I don’t know if she tried, but I’m guessing that since she was new, this cretin probably outranked her and that action would result in something less than positive for her. There was also testimony that she and other female officers were ordered to pick up laundry and do other chores for the male officers. When she became pregnant, the harassment picked up with comments about the size of her breasts and requests to be breast fed. Do we really want guys with guns, mace and tasers to act like this? Here child was stillborn. Due to the stress, she said.


What if some men feel so shaky about themselves because in order to create a new one of themselves, they need a woman? Yeah, big tough guy can do everything except reproduce. That’s got to make some guys really pissed. A woman can actually do something they can’t, so they become enraged and take it out on a typically physically inferior person. Women are tough, but men usually are stronger. They tend to do more damage when they hit a person who weighs less than they.

None of this could have happened without someone in authority knowing about it. When none of her immediate superiors would do anything to stop it, she went to Internal Affairs and was then retaliated against. That is part of that awful culture of so many police departments that cover up everything, including what is often criminal behavior. It’s why I never became a cop.

All of the aptitude tests I took when I was younger and again when I was in the USAF, indicated I would make a good police officer. The idea appealed to me then. For awhile, I was even detached for temporary duty as an Air Policeman. But something happened when I was discharged and went back to college.

I was in a couple of classes with some LAPD officers who would tell me how excited they were to go down to the Sunset Strip on the weekend, so they could “smash a few hippie heads.” The Strip wasn’t even in their jurisdiction. It was county territory, under the “protection” of the Sheriff’s department. They just wanted to help out.

“Why?” I wondered, if they weren’t doing anything but congregating? I still wore my hair the way I had when I was in the service. My classmates in blue didn’t think anyone with a buzz cut could feel the way I did. Which was that banging heads because someone had long hair was just plain wrong! And keeping quiet about how much they enjoyed doing it, convinced me that the police were not for me.

But we need them, and I know that most of them are decent, proud and law-abiding. Knowing human nature as I do, there is no way we can do without an effective force to deal with those who would take advantage of others in their community. We just don’t need cops who do not respect others.

We need to make sure that those in charge really mean it when they say they won’t tolerate sexual harassment. I know Chief William Bratton has said plenty of times how the department won’t put up with this kind of behavior, but yet it persists. And as long as it does, it’s going to cost us citizens dearly.

You would think, that here at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, the “good old boys” would have all gone fishing or moved in with Mark Furman in Idaho.

But here, in the city of Los Angeles, there are still bunches of them that don’t get it. One would think, cops would realize that not only do women make good police officers, but that in many situations, they are better than those testosterone-laden men in blue. The only way this is able to continue, is that those at the top still think they are the Taliban and can make women do their bidding.

Can we all grow up now and act like responsible adults? Or will we be forced to endure more macho posturing and attitude? I don’t think we can afford it.