Archive for L.A. Times

"We hear about murders, not suicides (until someone like Williams dies)."

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comedy tragedy masks suicides depression

We and the news media have the attention spans of gnats. Something monumental shocks us into a Rubbernecking Moment... until the next monumental thing comes along. Murder headlines get a whole lot of play and keep us looking, darting from one to the next. Lamenting. Opining. Outraging. Suicides? Not so much. At least not for long. In a previous post-- The aftermath #RIPRobinWilliams-- I wrote the following:

The news media swarm and hyper-focus on huge, painful stories like these, and we all listen and discuss and cry and scream and care immensely.

And then we stop.

We don't stop caring, but we stop being pro-active, because the next Big Story comes along and that wave of emotion or controversy or fear or sadness or tragedy or outrage or terror or death or civil unrest or trauma or injustice comes along and diverts our attention... again.

This country is dysfunctional and needs extended rehab. This country needs to pay attention. We need sustained treatment as a nation, not spot checks. We need to continue to listen, care, and respond, to seek help, to be vigilant, to reach out, to get well. We need to lengthen our attention spans and accept the therapy that will help heal us.

We must listen to and heed the advice we're getting from experts. Hanging ourselves is not an option.

Today in the Los Angeles Times, there was similar reaction to my old improv buddy Robin's tragic death, along with some excellent commentary on treating people with mental illnesses. Please read these very astute letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Depression: It's so deep inside. No one can touch it.

Some days are unexplainable, when you have harmony with the Earth, racking your mind as to why — and knowing your crash awaits. It's lonely as hell.

I don't dismiss hope for a personal cure; I just want to share the unreal depth that embraces these sad souls who have survived countless years of secrets.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for possibly creating an awareness that yes, this can happen to someone as magnificent as you.

For now, much-needed attention is being paid to this issue. But if past tragedies are a guide, the discussion will probably fade over time until it is barely audible, only to be amplified by the next shock.

Cynthia Ingersoll, Sultan, Wash.

..

In 2009, there were about 36,500 suicides in the U.S. and "only" 16,500 homicides. Yet we hear about the murders but not so much about the suicides (until someone like Williams dies).

Likewise, we seldom see any headlines about depression, but depression affects nearly 15 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the population age 18 and older, in a given year. People who think depression is a choice are wrong (and often judgmental). Depression is no more a choice than baldness. However, I can get a hair transplant, but I can't get a brain transplant.

And then there's addiction. Let's just start by saying that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs costs more than $600 billion annually due to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare. But again, we seldom hear about addiction unless someone is glamorized.

When will we be proactive and create some preventive measures? This is all treatable and preventable.

Ken Donaldson (Addictions and mental health counselor ), Seminole, Fla.

..

There is a precedent, of course, for Williams' suicide: Comedian and actor Freddie Prinze, who starred in the hit TV series "Chico and the Man," killed himself in 1977 at the age of 22.

Comedy, depression and substance abuse have an attraction to one another. My father was a comedy writer who used vodka and a barbiturate to get through his days. Thankfully, he didn't commit suicide.

Williams' death is surely a tragedy, but it did not come as a shock to me. I hope it shames our culture into taking depression seriously.

Wendy Werris, Los Angeles, CA

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"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

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Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

Our own Sherry Hardy covered Rachel Maddow's edible take-down of the Worst Congress Ever in her post, 'Get Out and Push', Says Maddow of the Useless, U.S. Congress. Maddow went ballistic, and rightfully so. Wowee, do GOP obstructionists suck, and yes, I'm using the official elitist left vernacular. Before going any further, I have to share a couple of the best parts from the segment Sher put up. And by "best" I mean most relatable, because Rachel's Moment of Gaa! was surely felt by many of us. Here are four very short clips (under a minute each) that represent some of her best outbursts. Here she is, blasting Congress to smithereens, and by Congress she meant Republican members thereof:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

"This is truly historic failure."

ding ding ding

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

All of this brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor in which readers responded to former Rep. David Dreier op-ed that was meant "to assure readers that it's not as bad as it seems in Congress. The nearly unanimous response from the nearly two dozen readers who sent us letters: Are you serious?"

Here you go, because our voices matter:

It's been tried many times before, the guilty claiming innocence by accusing the victim.

Dreier does just that. He blames the people for being divided, implying that the members of Congress themselves are not at fault. This is why only 13% of Americans approve of Congress, according to a January Gallup poll. Eighty seven percent of the people being of one mind in their disapproval doesn't sound like division.

Fewer laws have been passed by this Congress than by any other in the last 65 years, and Dreier says it's not really that bad. I think it is time for a reality check.

Frances Pin, Marina del Rey

..

Dreier deludes himself and, even more sadly, us.

We have a do-nothing Congress not because Americans are deeply divided. Important legislative efforts on immigration, the minimum wage and gun control did not die because of deep division, as a large majority of Americans favored these measures.

Is Dreier saying that shutting down the government and threatening its solvency came because of voter division? The failures came because the GOP was listening to the radical tea party members of Congress, who represent a very small minority of the population.

It is self-serving for Dreier to blame the division of the people — actually, insulting.

Jim Hoover, Huntington Beach

..

Dreier states that he is continually asked, "Is Congress completely controlled by big money and special interests?" and "Is it more partisan and dysfunctional than ever before?"

He never answers. Instead he tells us how there are always two opinions to every issue and groups of constituents on both sides.

I have to assume that he avoided answering because the answers are both "yes."

Ted Bacino, Palm Springs

..

Dreier blames the diversity of Americans for Congress' obstructionism.

Of course we are diverse, and we are better off for it. However, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated in 2010 that his main goal was for Barack Obama to be a one-term president, he revealed quite clearly what the Republican Party was all about: not diversity, but settling scores.

Robert S. Ellison, Arcadia

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"I don't recall 'if you're comfortable with it' qualifying any of Jesus Christ's commandments."

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what would jesus do

Regular readers know that I'm a big Michael Hiltzik fan, and for good reason. He's good at spreading the-- What's it called again? Oh yeah-- truth. One of his latest columns dealt with the truths regarding the Supreme Court's wrongheaded Hobby Lobby ruling in favor of allowing bosses to make health decisions for women. The consequences of that one were fairly easy to predict. Not only are businesses trying to use their "religious beliefs" against access to contraception, but now the decision is oozing into other areas of discrimination, as in gay and transgender targets. But hey, it's all cool, because it's in the name of Religion, with a capital R. In short: Blame Jesus.

Where's an impartial Supreme Court when you need one?

Which brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Plaudits to Michael Hiltzik for highlighting how the U.S. Supreme Court's outrageous Hobby Lobby decision may abet religious zealots' discrimination against gays and transgenders in the business world. ("Hobby Lobby's harvest: A religious exemption for LGBT discrimination?," July 16)

Hiltzik's telling parallels with mid-20th century racism ring true. For pious segregationists, the 1896 decision Plessy vs. Ferguson served to keep public schools segregated until Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.

That epic reversal set the stage for civil rights legislation enacted during the next decade, which served to counter persistent racism.

Hiltzik's apt insights suggest that the 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision won't, like the Plessy ruling, endure for decades. All that's needed is one more high court justice who favors equal rights over faith-based discrimination.

Devra Mindell, Santa Monica

..

On Monday, President Obama issued an executive order barring LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. To protect their organizations from feeling "very uncomfortable" and to perpetuate "diversity of opinion," Pastor Rick Warren and other religious leaders, in a July 1 letter to Obama, argue their right to discriminate against the LGBT community while still receiving federal (taxpayer) funding

There is a disgraceful hypocrisy lurking in a request by Christian church leaders for religious exemption from an anti-discrimination rule. I don't recall "if you're comfortable with it" qualifying any of Jesus Christ's commandments.

Ellen Chavez Kelley, Santa Barbara

..

Hiltzik's excellent column was deficient in only one respect. He failed to ask Warren or Father Larry Snyder where in the fundamental documents of their faith they find their God commanding them to discriminate against LGBT people in terms of employment. Are they discriminating on religious grounds, moral grounds, or do they want to discriminate because they're simply bigoted?

Additionally, if their consciences won't allow them to treat LGBT people equally, they're always free to say "no" to the taxpayers' money.

John Gibson, Los Angeles

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Anti-immigrant letter: "Our land is full. The invitation wasn't for forever."

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misspelled amnesty sign anti-immigrant

Undocumented immigrants are not "illegals." They are people. Unfortunately, all too many other anti-immigrant "people" don't treat them as fellow human beings. They treat them as though they were diseased animals (and have even used that word to describe them), or worse. It sickens me, and it should sicken you.

Ironically, it was GW Bush who signed law protecting young migrants, but, hey... #BlameObama. Ironically squared: Those who demand an English-only America can't spell worth beans. See image above.

The Los Angeles Times letters to the editor included a couple from anti-immigrant writers that I ordinarily wouldn't share with you, but they got under my skin, so here they are. I added my two cents, because, as I always say, our voices matter. First, though, there's a letter that makes sense. The next two, not so much:

There's irony in the descendants of Europeans in North America, which was stolen from natives who had been here for centuries, reacting angrily to "immigrants" moving north. These native North Americans are coming back to their land.

Renee Veale, Pasadena

..

Two letter writers urge "compassion" for the illegal immigrants flooding our borders and condemn the protesters in Murrieta. I have a challenge for both of them. ("Murrieta's anti-immigrant protesters could learn something from Lady Liberty," Letters, July 3)

My daughter is a single working mom raising my granddaughter. They live in a rented condo in Costa Mesa. Money is tight for them.

I ask each of these compassionate letter writers to send me their addresses. I will go check out their residences, and if they are better than my daughter's, I will have my granddaughter break in so she can have a better life using their homes and amenities.

I am sure people imploring us to be compassionate will jump at the chance to show my daughter compassion.

John C. Vita, Huntington Beach

One: Um, Mr. Vita (an Italian name, I take it?), they're not "illegal immigrants." They're people. Do you refer to Nixon as an "illegal president"?

Two: Did your daughter get raped and/or abused on her way to her residence? I sincerely hope not.

Three: And this concludes another episode of "Really Bad Analogies!" (h/t: The Stephanie Miller Show) brought to you by John C. Vita of Huntington Beach.

..

More than a century ago, when America needed labor to build its cities and farmers to till its soil, the Statue of Liberty raised its lamp to encourage ambitious, creative, eager, industrious immigrants to come to our shores. Emma Lazarus wrote a noble invitation to these immigrants, a poem that one letter writer quoted extensively.

The invitation was not and is not the law of the land.

The immigrants came. Our land is full. The invitation wasn't for forever.

Our country cannot support the wretched refuse of every country of every continent in perpetuity, and neither Lazarus nor Statue of Liberty sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi intended for that to happen.

Ermanno Signorelli, Mar Vista Crest

"Wreched refuse," Mr. Signorelli (an Italian name, I take it?)? Somehow I don't think Emma Lazarus meant to imply that immigrants are people that this country doesn't accept. In fact, including the words "wretched refuse," "she saw a way to express her empathy for these refugees." By suggesting the opposite (after all, you didn't put her words in quotes), that struggling human beings are contemptible, repulsive, sleazy trash, you took on the very traits you attributed to those you hate.

"Our country cannot support the wretched refuse of every country..." But some countries are acceptable? Just not the ones in which brown people reside. AmIright?

"Our land is full." Only when it comes to intolerance and exclusion, Ermanno. Sadly, the U.S. has way more than enough of those. Your letter proves that.

"When America needed labor..." Psst! Ermanno! We still do. Some of our finest were born in other countries.

"Encourage ambitious, creative, eager, industrious immigrants to come to our shores..." We do. And how do you tell the unambitious, uncreative, uneager, unindustrious ones from the others? Doesn't every person have the potential to be successful? And if someone is less ambitious or creative or successful, does that disqualify them somehow? How many lazy, untalented, passive Americans do you know? I've met quite a few. Should we deport them?

"The invitation wasn't forever." Someone please direct me to the "give me your tired, your poor" expiration date. The Statue of Liberty seems to have torched it.

statue of liberty give me your tired your poor

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Dear pro-forced birthers: "What causes more abortions than not having contraception?"

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abortion choice pro-forced birthers

Pro-forced birthers don't seem to have much depth, knowledge, or insight when it comes to how babies are made, how contraception works, or what women's health care agencies actually do.

Here's a tweet I just received, along with my reply:

Here is one of many excellent replies:

'Nuff said.

Sadly, "Franky's" tweet is typical of so many I receive from pro-forced birthers about women's reproductive rights, with one exception: He was civil.

With that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Jonah Goldberg's column on the Hobby Lobby case takes as given the distortion of scientific facts at the core of the case. ("Alito agrees: Your birth control is not your boss' business," Op-Ed, June 30)

Overwhelming evidence has shown that emergency contraception does not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg and does not cause the termination of an existing pregnancy. Therefore, emergency contraception it is not an abortifacient, contrary to what the Supreme Court justices and Goldberg contend.

Such uncritical endorsements of distorted science are the source of much misinformation, as I have discovered in my own research on barriers to access to emergency contraception. It is sad that the highest court in the nation has propagated this false belief and created another barrier for access to safe, effective and evidenced-based pregnancy prevention.

Tracey Wilkinson, MD, Los Angeles

..

Goldberg compares requiring employers to provide contraceptive health insurance to their employees to hypothetically requiring these companies to pay for their employees to attend a "Game of Thrones" convention.

Goldberg ignores the fact that every time a couple engages in unprotected intercourse, they are putting the woman's life at risk. According to a study published in the medical journal the Lancet, 18.5 women died in childbirth for every 100,000 live births in the U.S. in 2013.

The intimate relations between couples are no mere game. The ability to obtain and use contraceptives is a matter at the heart of family life.

Goldberg and the five men who make up the U.S. Supreme Court majority in the recent Hobby Lobby case have shown the world that they place little value on the lives of women.

Eleanor Egan, Costa Mesa

..

I suspect that because Hobby Lobby is so deeply religious, it would not support a woman's right to have an abortion. What causes more abortions than not having contraception?

Sarah Maze, Orange

Via .ecobumperstickers.com

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Time to apply the Lemon Law to Dick Cheney

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cheney bush iraq lemon law

Anyone else becoming weary of the same old Iraq drivel pouring out of the mouths of former BushCo war cheerleaders the way word salad pours out of the mouth of Former Alaska Half-Gov Blabette McDimBulb? Seriously, guys, championing a fraudulent invasion that produced nothing but death, PTSD, maiming, a destabilized Middle East, and an economic toilet flush is getting to be redundant, more ludicrous, and increasingly embarrassing and boring. Read our lips: Anyone defending Dick Cheney should self-deport to Gitmo. The Lemon Law most definitely applies here, as one letter-writer ingeniously explained.

And with that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Jonah Goldberg plays his own questionable game in this piece, but surely most of us can keep our eyes on the pea in his shell shuffle. ("A questionable game of 'shut up' on Iraq," Op-Ed, June 23)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his policy brethren were the architects who created a war in Iraq that turns out to have been both unnecessary and, now, an utter disaster. These folks didn't just have opinions that were wrong; no, they made policy decisions that have led to catastrophic results.

That's why their current self-serving opinions and their preposterous attempts to revise history are contemptible, and richly deserve all the derision that can be mustered.

John de Jong, Long Beach

***

Goldberg reminds us that he supported the Iraq war, and he states that he still thinks that the arguments in favor were superior to those against.

What arguments would those be? Iraq had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq. We were not greeted as liberators. Democracy has not flourished, and the promised capitalist paradise has not emerged.

Goldberg should write another column so he can clarify for us just which arguments he still supports.

Cheryl Holt, Burbank

***

The Lemon Law:

A car salesman knowingly misconstrues facts concerning a car he is trying to sell you. The purchase is made and the car eventually falls apart, but you have recourse — the law, fines and perhaps even jail for the dealer.

With Iraq, we have a similar scenario but with hundreds of thousands dead, trillions of dollars lost and a treating of the wounded that will go on for many years.

Would you ask the car salesman his opinion on your next purchase? Would you ask the same individuals who lied us into the horrors of a 10-year military engagement for advice now?

Stephen S. Anderson, Hacienda Heights

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"I'm praying that my negative prayers thwart religious right's quest to browbeat nonbelievers"

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religion church state school prayers smaller

I'm an atheist, so I don't really do prayers. I hope a lot, I take action to create change, I vote, and I use what modest powers of persuasion I can muster up to convince others that there is more than one way to approach any given situation or policy. But prayers? Not so much.

I can't accept that the Invisible Man in the Sky (who apparently has a blonde, blue-eyed Middle Eastern son who came into this world via a virgin) exists. I can't fathom how anyone feels that their particular prayers take priority over someone else's rights, positions, or beliefs, someone who is supposed to be a fellow "child of god."

When an athlete offers thanks to his or her god for a victory, does that mean that their god deemed their opponents unworthy? Less special? Aren't we all supposed to be equally loved by their benevolent god? If the almighty one's got so much power, then why doesn't he/she... [fill in the blank]?

And why does the Christian majority feel compelled to convince the rest of us that their religion is The Best One of All? Because there are more of them than there are of us? So what? Why, as they try to get us to have faith in their faith (key word: faith), do they continue to exclude so many of us as they simultaneously try to entice us to "believe" their beliefs (key word: beliefs) ?

Why discriminate against those who are different than you? Or shame? Or aggressively proselytize? What happened to "live and let live" and "do unto others"?

I could go on forever. I say none of this to offend, and I hope my words are not taken that way. I understand why people embrace religion. I just can't relate to or make sense of believing in a magical being. And it stops being okay when others insist I do what's right for them, but not for me.

Which brings me to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Negative prayer may be just the remedy for those of us who blanch at religious zealots' pious public displays of prayer to their chosen deities. It's worth a try: I'll beseech my deity to use her divine powers to hinder those who feel their notion of "god" is superior to all other deities that humans have ever worshiped. ("They're praying for the worst. Is that wrong?," Op-Ed, June 24)

If my incantation prevails, government-sanctioned prayers at public meetings will cease. That way I no longer will have to betray my religious proclivities by leaving when prayers start, per the disingenuous suggestion floated by the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority in the recent decision involving the town of Greece, N.Y.

Verily, I'm praying that my negative prayers thwart the religious right's quest to browbeat nonbelievers.

Dennis Alston, Atwater, Calif.

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