Early Thanksgiving on Election Day?

I’m encouraging everybody here at PeaceTalks and in our extended family and social circle to keep in touch on Election Day and into the night. If things go well it will be a rare chance for even divorced couples to “reach across the aisle” and show the kids what cooperation and unity of purpose can accomplish. If things go “south”then we get to experience that “misery loves company” thing.

After you’ve voted if you’d like to do something for the victims of the massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue I’ve provided a link below along with a quote from the sponsors of the fund.

This is a brilliant example of the way that most people feel in this country and a perfect rebuke to the “fear mongering” coming from the White House. The fact that this gesture is coming from the Muslim communityproves that the spirit of this country is as alive as it always has been no matter what trumped up lies are conjured up to divide us. Let the kids see, learn and encourage one another to pay attention, vote and avoid complacency like the plague.

Muslim Groups Raise Thousands for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims

 MUSLIMS: Let us stand with our Jewish cousins against this senseless, anti-Semitic murder. Guided by our faith, @CelebrateMercy & @MPower_Changeask you respond to evil with good. Donate here now to help shooting victims with funeral expenses and medical bills.

“Maverick” and “FL Madness”

Even people that did not agree with John McCain about public policy had to admire him for his service and for having the cajones to stand up to bullies.

If your kids are video game enthusiasts and seem in any way disturbed by the tragedy in Jacksonville don’t hesitate to stop and let them talk or ask questions. You may not have enough answers and be looking for resources.  Whether you are co-parenting or not this is something that needs attention.

I came across a really clear and concise encapsulation of the “gun problem” in our country today. It might come in handy for your older kids but the younger ones will need as much attention as any and all “parental units” can provide. This is, of course, the first shooting “Live Streamed”to be seen and heard by anyone with the proper access.  How many kids were watching isn’t known yet. Here’s the link and a few facts:

America can prevent shootings like Jacksonville.
But it must come to terms with its gun problem.

By German Lopez
@germanrlopez | german.lopez@vox.com |  Aug 27, 2018, 10:40am EDT

“The research, compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, is pretty clear: After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths. Researchers have found this to be true not just with homicides, but also with suicides (which in recent years were around 60 percent of US gun deaths), domestic violence, and even violence against police.

But as far as homicides go, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence. And Michael Stone, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of mass shooters, wrote in a 2015 analysis that only 52 out of the 235 killers in the database, or about 22 percent, had mental illnesses. “The mentally ill should not bear the burden of being regarded as the ‘chief’ perpetrators of mass murder,” he concluded. Other research has backed this up.

None of that is to say that milder measures are useless. Connecticut’s law requiring handgun purchasers to first pass a background check and obtain a license, for example, was followed by a 40 percent drop in gun homicides and a 15 percent reduction in handgun suicides.”

 If you’d like to contact people in the government to let them know how you feel here is a link:

https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Duncan’s Campaign Dough = Nuts”

In case you are trying to show your kids what’s wrong with the country, I wanted to pass along an appeal from Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“It’s unbelievable, Within just hours of unveiling my new anti-corruption legislation yesterday: Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter—one of Donald Trump’s first supporters in the House—was indicted by the Department of Justice for misusing $250,000 of campaign money for personal expenses.

There’s something that you can do right this minute to take on this corrupt machine:You can help Duncan Hunter’s Democratic opponent—Ammar Campa-Najjar—so we can kick one more corrupt politician out of office and get one seat closer to taking back the House in 2018.

Ammar worked as a grassroots organizer for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and then went on to work in the White House and the Department of Labor.

Ammar has pledged not to take any corporate PAC money in his campaign for Congress, so he’s not going to be bought by corporations.”

Click here now to chip in $3—or whatever you can afford—to help defeat Duncan Hunter, elect Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, and end GOP control of the House this November.

Thanks for being a part of this.

–Elizabeth

Rise Up for Roe Tour at the El Rey Theatre

I just got this message and wanted to pass it on as quickly as possible in case some people might want to join in on making some noise.

A woman’s right to safely and legally seek an abortion is under attack. 

Donald Trump made it very clear—far before Justice Kennedy stepped down—that his choice for the Supreme Court would come from a list of pre-approved candidates, all of whom would overturn the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. And now that Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for September 4, there’s no time to waste to mobilize Americans of all walks who want to stop a nominee who would rule against reproductive rights.

Join us on Saturday in Los Angeles to get loud and rally with the Rise Up for Roe Tour at the El Rey Theatre.

We can’t go back. If Roe is overturned, abortions will not stop. They will simply go back to being unsafe, unregulated, and an option only to those with access to the money and transportation needed. Women will die, and every senator who didn’t do everything they could to stop Kavanaugh’s nomination will be to blame.

What Would Your Petition Say?

A lot of parents that I meet have expressed frustration at trying to explain certain current events to their kids that we seem powerless to stop. Inspired and energized as we all were by the Parkland Shooting survivors we still need to explore ways that enable our kids to feel connected to whatever causes they deem worthwhile.

This message from MoveOn might provide a serviceable outlet for anyone to call attention to a situation they feel needs to be addressed by as many people as possible. I’m not advocating for a group just passing along what might be a helpful opportunity.

“In May, just months after the Parkland massacre, MoveOn member Andrea Smith started a petition asking Publix, her local grocery store, to stop contributions to the campaign of an NRA-backed candidate for governor. Within a week, in response to public outrage, including the petition and inspiring student-organized protests, Publix changed its corporate policy.”

“Here’s another example: last year, MoveOn members Sandy and Lonnie Phillips used our free petition platform to help convince the Democratic National Committee to reject money from the gun, tobacco, and payday loan industries. More than 20,000 people from across the country signed on to say our politics shouldn’t be bought off by special interests―and their voices were heard.”

People took action together and made change. You can make this kind of change too.

Click here to get started right now. Starting a petition can take just a few minutes, is totally free, and can have big impact.

MoveOn’s petition platform is a resource that lets you not just start petitions but also send follow-up mailings to your petition signers and coordinate petition deliveries to decision-makers. It’s an amazing tool for anyone who wants to power progressive change.

Elizabeth Warren: Georgia On My Mind

Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams

It was a backyard barbeque where serious conversations are rarerthan the steaks, and someone was overheard referring to Ms. Abrams, “…and she can’t even balance her checkbook…”This was a reference to a comment made by the candidate herself, admitting to something that most of us have experienced, in spite of QuickBooks and Excel.

So when I saw the letter from Sen. Warren it seemed like a good idea to share this with as many people as possible. For anyone inspired to support her this is a rare opportunity to be part of “outside money”being used for a progressivepurpose.

Here is some of Sen. Warren’s appeal and I’ve put a link to a Time Magazine article about Ms. Abrams herself to provide some perspective.

“Democrat Stacey Abrams is INCREDIBLE—she’ll make history by being elected our country’s first African American woman governor, EVER.

The national Republicans and their powerful friends know that Stacey can win—and they’re terrified of it. As the top Democrat in the Georgia House, she fought to level the playing fields for women, students, seniors, veterans, and working people. I know that as governor, Stacey Abrams will build a Georgia where more families can get ahead.”

Please, click here to chip in $3 right now to help Stacey Abrams fight back, win, make history, and get things done for Georgia’s working families.

Thanks for being a part of this.

–Senator Elizabeth Warren

Read the Time Magazine article here

Fuel For November

I want to pass along a heads up on an encouraging piece by Noah Berlatsky from the LA Times. It’s been tough to focus on positive slants about the chaos we’ve seen in the headlines but there are some rallying points the article highlights for us.

“Voters are not angry at the left’s efforts to preserve healthcare, or to protest vicious policies. They’re angry at right-wing extremism, tax cuts for the wealthy, and monstrous border policies designed to separate children from their families.”

“Overall, Democrats have flipped more than 40 state and local special election seats since 2016, and the average swing toward Democrats in special elections is more than 13 points.” 

It’s nice to see movement in the right, make that correct, direction, but Berlatsky couples this with a strong warning about complacencywithout using the word. (We can’t take our foot off the gas with so much ground to make up.) 

“We can’t know for sure if Democratic wins will continue. Republicans have many advantages because of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and structural biases in favor of rural voters. Democrats are by no means assured of winning the House, much less the Senate.”

Read full article here

Rob Reiner’s Petition

The outrage that followed the images from the “Summit” between President Trump and “President” Putin has been overwhelming the media across the board.

If you would like to add your voice to the growing (over 100K) population of people that want to show their disapproval over what we just witnessed please consider signing Rob Reiner’s petition.

“In front of the world’s media, standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin after their closed-door Summit, Donald Trump said that he believes Putin over the findings of EVERY SINGLE U.S. intelligence agency that the Russian government committed cyber warfare against the U.S. in the 2016 presidential election.1

Meanwhile, Trump still won’t meet with special counsel Robert Mueller, the man leading the federal investigation into Russian interference and the Trump campaign’s possible conspiracy with Russian agents.”

I started a petition demanding Trump meet with Mueller and tell the truth. Will you join me in defending our democracy by signing?

We, the American people, demand that Trump meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and answer his questions about possible conspiracy with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election and obstruction of justice to cover it up. It’s imperative that federal investigators have all the information they need to get to the truth.

Sign Rob’s petition click here

Thanks for taking action.

–Rob Reiner

Summer Reading Autumn Voting

After the circus act the Senate put on with grilling Peter Strzok followed by the Mueller indictments naming Russian GRU members with everything but their spy school nicknames you might want relax with some stimulating reading material.

There’s also a link to the story of a fascinating candidate (Richard Ojeda) in West Virginia-that got beaten with brass knuckles by a Trump supporter at a barbeque.

Tea Party Liberal’ Promises To Bring A Blue Wave To West Virginia

If you, or the kids, do somehow find the time for some background reading related the bizarre political events that we’ve seen, here are a few suggestions from other readers:

 Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

He spent a night in jail for not paying his “Poll Tax” and came out with some radical ideas about what a propergovernment should strive to achieve. Here are a few gems from “Mr. Walden Pond”:

“Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?”

“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation?”

“It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.”

“Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness.” 

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis is a great tribute to what catastrophes can happen when the “popular wool” is pulled over the eyes of the populace. Like Orwell a lot would come true.

If there are any future, or current, lawyers in the family here’s a link to the “Mueller” indictments.

Roe, Roe, Roe, the Vote

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and her lawyer Gloria Allred on the steps of the Supreme Court, 1989.

The SCOTUS nomination is at the center point of what women are facing with respect to their fight for access to the proper healthcare to which they are entitled.

I saw one idea suggesting people send postcards to individual Senators by the millions if they can’t mobilize in any other way but want to do something. You’ll see more information about opportunities to raise a voice as they appear.

In the meantime here are a few points from an article by Katha Pollitt, author of “Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights,” published in The New York Times:

“The president promised to nominate only justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, …and there is no reason not to take Mr. Trump at his word”…at least on this point.

“So tattoo this on your brain: Sixty-seven percent of Americans do not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned.”

“We need to mobilize in the states. If Roe is overturned, each state will be free to make its own laws.”

“People need to know that the risk of death due to childbirth is about14 times greater than the risk of death from abortion, and that contrary to stereotypes, 59 percent of abortions are obtained by women who are mothers.”

Link to full article in the NY Times: “Roe Isn’t Going Down Without a Fight

In 2016, Senator Mitch McConnell had this to say after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia prompted President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”1

The same should hold true about Donald Trump’s replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy which means that the Senate must reject Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Will you join with me in calling on the Senate to not vote on a new Supreme Court justice until after the midterm elections? Click here

A Tough Climb

Before the fireworks were lit and showing some “rockets red glare”, there were some different fireworks set off at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. 

“A woman who climbed up on the Statue of Liberty and sat on the monument’s base is in detention, police say.

US officials identified her as Therese Okoumou, a 44-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ms. Okoumou was reportedly protesting against President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy on immigration”

You can read the whole BBC News article using the link below but it does seem to be the perfect metaphor for America’s “struggle to climb out from under British oppression”.  I’m sure the irony of this being reported by the British media on American “Independence Day” gave a lot of people a chuckle.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44718811

This kind of inspired action may come in handy as we begin the struggle over the nomination of the next Supreme Court Justice.

Family To-Do Ideas List

 

“When you can’t do what you want you do what you can

Whether or not anybody ever actually said that doesn’t matter; it’s the message that counts. The power that exists in the hands of the people looking for a betterway to handle our current problems was exhibited this weekend across the country. I have included a graphic, to enhance the optics of the event.

Here are some links to sources of action. Some of this is tied into the retirement of Justice Kennedy and the inherent potential threat to Roe vs. Wade represented by President Trump’s likely nominee.

“Family Separation Protests Shift the Narrative”The Atlantic, June 30, 2018

“Protesters flood US cities to fight Trump immigration policy” – Associated Press, July 1, 2018

“In 50 states, hundreds of thousands protest immigration policy, with focus on midterms” – USA Today, June 30, 2018

June 30th For Families and MD Shooting

There are thousands of events across the country scheduled for Saturday to give people a chance to make a statement about the administration’s approach to handling requests for asylum.  Here are a couple of familiar names that are encouraging people to add their voices and signs:

America Ferrera
“Seeing thousands of immigrant families torn apart, I am devastated and beyond furious.”

Alyssa Milano
“I believe that what this administration is doing at the border is a “crime against humanity,” and it is on us to stop it.”

Make sure you and everyone you know has signed up to take action this Saturday, June 30th by sharing this image on Facebook:

Join me on June 30 in Washington, D.C., or in a city near you to demand an end to this disgusting family separation policy.

I will pass along any information about special funds for the benefit of the families affected by the MD shootings. Hopefully we will figure out a better way to do things…soon.

Helping Reunite Border Families

by Stephanie Maloney

Helping Reunite Border Families - Reunite Families - Los AngelesWe were at a local demonstration piling our donation of blankets in with the flood of relief materials from supporters as frustration ran deep throughout the crowd. Our pics are on Facebook but I wanted to pass along some other ways for us to actually “do” something about this nightmarish situation.

This is from my friend Jonathan Verk cofounder of coParenter describe the trip:

75 neighbors, friends and community activists are on our way home from San Diego. And what an absolutely powerful trip it was!

We did it! We delivered 200 toys, blankets, necessities and other items to their children currently being held at Casa San Diego detention center!  By the Time we arrived at the detention center, we had basically no confidence that we would be let in. After all we’ve seen on the news- and everything we’d been told, we didn’t even think they’d let us near the gate. Politicians, authorities—  even clergy haven’t been let near the gate!  we were told by everyone not to bother.

But honestly… I’m not that great at listening.

We parked across the street, about 40 yards down the block. We were explicitly told that any sign of protesters would force the facility to put the kids in ‘lock down’, which- as it sounds, probably sucks. So, One of my fellow protesters and I walked two huge boxes and an envelope full of letters of hope, written by kids- to the kids on the inside.

We walked up to a very industrial looking, tarp-covered fence and very calmly rang the buzzer. Nothing. We rang again… nothing. We rang it 7 more times— and then started strategizing how we could lift the boxes over the fence and gently lower it down the other side.

And then they answered.

A soft voice with a Spanish accent asked “Hello? How can I help you”.  We told them that we’re just some kids from LA who came to drop off some toys, would they let us leave them for the kids….

Silence. A staticky click. And then the voice came back… “we’ll be right out”.

The lady (wouldn’t give us her name) looked friendly but exhausted. Clearly, It’s been an emotional, hard week for them (YES- the kids have it worse, but this poor woman didn’t sign up for this insanity either).

We explained what we were doing and why we were there… and after a minute, she allowed us to brings the toys in. We weren’t allowed to cross the property line (they were afraid they’d get ‘caught’ on their surveillance cameras letting us in) and we certainly didn’t meet he kids. But we did share the letters and the toys and the blankets and the absolutely wonderful items that the LA community donated.

It was an amazingly joyous and spectacularly cathartic experience for everyone on the buses.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this ‘Rally to the Border’ so incredible. There’s lots more to share, but right now I wanna get some shuteye.

Because tomorrow is another day…. we’ve got to get some rest… and fight on!

1500 people. 10k toys, books and other items. 75 people down to San Diego on 2 buses.

200 toys delivered to the kids of Casa San Diego!

Below is a link to a great article (Melanie Gleason) about sources of help that you can contribute to that also provide legal help “on the ground” along the border. This, especially as Gleason points out, President Donald Trump’s executive order on Wednesday trades family separation for indefinite detention of children.”

You can call your members of Congress through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121

What You Can Do To Help Families Separated At The Border

Rallies For The Right Thing

Here is some info about the national day of rallies taking place for people that want to be seen and heard about the families being separated at the border.

Let them know that this is no way to run our country.

Thanks to powerful public pressure, the Trump administration has been forced to shift its outrageous treatment of immigrant children. We have momentum—but we’re far from done.

The executive order that Donald Trump signed today is not the solution. It allows the indefinite incarceration of immigrant families in federal prisons, and there is still no plan to reunify the thousands of families that have been forcibly separated. Which is why we must continue to stand together at hundreds of events nationwide on Saturday, June 30, to say that families belong together—and freeClick here to join the June 30 event near you to Keep Families Together and free and reject Trump’s brutal policies.

The People “Nextdoor”

by Stephanie Maloney

The People “Nextdoor” Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_olivierl'>olivierl / 123RF Stock Photo</a>There was a recent article by Joel Stein about “Nextdoor” the social networking service and requisite letters in response representing various points of view. Since one of the main goals is to keep neighbors apprised of suspicious behavior it’s not difficult to understand how people’s paranoia could get in the way.

The most disturbing aspect of this dynamic is the amount of apparent racial profiling coming through many of the community posts. If I understood correctly, people in certain neighborhoods, have been reporting activities based solely on the color of an individual’s skin, with no additional particulars. There were, however, no reports of suspicious activities of white strangers observed in South Central Los Angeles. Steps are being taken to address this inequity.

The idea of connecting neighbors is as old as the back fence and has been an important part of the real “Neighborhood Watch” the one that starts with paying attention instead of ignoring. We have no excuses for not using the phone that’s probably in our hands to call for help when you see something happening. But we need to avoid jumping to the easy conclusions. Look out for your neighbors and in LA call 1-877-ASK-LAPD for help while providing where, and why you need them with as full a description as is possible.

Throwing The Book at The Face

by Stephanie Maloney

Throwing The Book at The FaceMark Zuckerberg has kind of been the “Bill Gates of Social Media” in bringing his “dorm dream” of Free Global Connectivity to reality through his creation of Facebook.  “Aye, there’s the rub” as Shakespeare had Hamlet put it; that word free, unfortunately, has an agenda all its own.

By using data as “coin of the realm” in dealings with advertisers costs are covered and profits are made; very large amounts of capital indeed have been generated from these relationships.

The problem is a lot of us feel as though they have been less than conscientious about the bartering of personal data and informing users of incredibly widespread data breaches-that happened years ago.

Adding insult to injury in his testimony Mr. Zuckerberg confirmed what Sheryl Sandberg had stated previously about people having an option for “no data retention” but it would “fee-based”.

We would have to pay Facebook to keep our data to ourselves-so much for that “free” part of the dream.

It would appear that “Convenience made cowards of us all ” but it’s not too late to send a message to Mark since he has said that he is responsible.

There will plenty of opportunities for all of us to voice our displeasure but whether we will be motivated enough to actually “wean” ourselves off of Facebook for important interaction with those closest to us remains to be updated. Check your status.

The Good The Bad and The Women

by Stephanie Maloney

The Good The Bad and The WomenWomen are going to play at Augusta National the home of the “Masters”. Even if golf is just another four-letter word to many of us this is the gender politics version of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Dodgers. In another “Tear Down That Wall” moment an obsolete fixture tumbled because of social pressure from the “common sense” movement. Who knows next might be pay equivalency-be still my foolish heart.

Unfortunately, the first female shooter appeared thinking YouTube executives were blocking her broadcasts. While not involving a school it is still a very disturbing image for our daughters to process and I’ll pass on any helpful advice that pops up from my reading. Please feel free to do the same.

According to the statistics, most of us know of someone that needed help from a Planned Parenthood Clinic having nothing to do with the concept of termination.There are millions of examples showing that economic factors are preventing women from receiving very necessary assistance with serious health problems that they should be entitled to without question. This is a gender issue that should never have to be countered with pointing out that VIAGRA, for example, is often covered even though it’s not exactly a serious health medication.

With any luck and the necessary will perhaps it won’t be that long until we stop having to explain to our girls why the boys seem to be getting the better of the deal.

March Against Madness-Madness Actually Responds

by Stephanie Maloney

Imagine Frances McDormand outside your house of white with 500,000 walking, breathing, two-legged billboards demanding action about the killing of her child.

Apparently, if all politics are local, then all school shootings are now personal. Isn’t it about time we all find some unifying spirit through these kids for actually doing something and isn’t a pity that what’s holding us back is people with a “philosophy” like that of Rick Santorum:

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said Sunday that students would be better off “taking CPR classes” than marching for “phony gun laws.

“How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes…so that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that,” Santorum said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’

The onetime presidential hopeful, said participants in Saturday’s nationwide March for Our Lives events were “passing the buck to their representatives when they should be preparing to respond to the next mass shooting”.

This must be precisely what is enraging these “kids,” when they hear the words “…the next mass shooting…” with the same echo of acceptance as if there is nothing that can be done. They are indeed “passing the buck” but it’s going back to people that are supposed to paying the tab for safety not to the people hiding under the desks.

In cities across the globe people marched in support of common sense and as even The Pope had advised they shouted that we’ve had enough of parents burying children and children burying friends. In Denmark, for example, Finnish exchange student Iida Keskinen told CNN the idea that mass shootings have become the norm “…has really shook me…I wanted to make sure I had even a small impact in supporting this cause,” she said.

Maybe if she were Norwegian Mr. Trump would listen.

50 Million People Can be Wronged

by Stephanie Maloney

50 Million People Can be WrongedIt’s an old advertising ploy used by promoters for everything from cigarettes to soap; postulating, “If so many other people are doing it how can they all be wrong?” The simple answer is they were sold out – literally.

Mr. Zuckerberg has stepped up in a somewhat delayed timeline to acknowledge that like the captain of a ship he is responsible for whatever happens with his vessel.

He will now face a barrage of questions in D.C. to explain the massive borrowing of personal data by Cambridge Analytica for the purposes of obfuscating information related to the candidates in the 2016 elections.

Facebook gives away its services in return for our data. If you’re not familiar with “Bedazzled” you still might recognize the “made a deal with the Devil” dynamic and what your soul is really worth.

I admit that it never occurred to me that 50% of us rely on Facebook for news about the country and the planet, not just vacation videos. So if we thought that we were getting a free ride with our friends and family “pics & clicks” we were wrong.

There are any number health professionals suggesting that we find, no make, the time to unplug for a while every day. It might not be a bad idea to show the kids what it’s like to get an actual letter in the mail-no the other one-with a stamp and their name on it-and it can’t be hacked.

The Ides of Marches

­by Stephanie Maloney

Things did not go well for Julius Caesar when he ignored the soothsayer and his advice about being wary of the “Ides” (15Th) of March and was struck down on the steps of the Senate. The kids in Florida never made the steps but the survivors and thousands of their contemporaries across the US are taking what they feel are the necessary steps to put an end to this madness.

When you listen and watch what is happening the obvious questions stick out about why it has taken children speaking out and marching to get the adults motivated to action. The Florida legislation will not be enough for these young men and women; apparently you grow up fast post-gunfire.

I know parents are having difficulty with trying to explain the scenes of “17 Minutes of Silence” and with split families that kind of time is not always available.

On March 24th there will another demonstration “March for Our Lives” and here is a link for information and an opportunity to make a donation: marchforourlives.com

I am going to encourage my family to participate in any way possible as well as anyone in my circle of friends.

Hopefully we’re not the only ones listening.

 

Academy Women Rise to the Occasion

by Stephanie Maloney

When Frances McDormand stood asking the “women with projects” in the Academy Awards audience to stand and be seen, with an assist from Meryl Streep, it began the largest “let’s take a meeting” conversation in Hollywood history.

Imagine “women who tell the stories about women” getting an equal opportunity to at least pitch those ideas to the real decision-makers. The fact that those people are mostly men is another conversation.

The #MeToo phenomenon has actually put some cracks in the invisible walls and ceilings of our entertainment institutions-and that’s a good thing-a really good thing.

Go do what you can to show your support for what you believe in and by all means, if you haven’t already; go see Three Billboards and Shape of Water.

The Kids Are Alright

by Stephanie Maloney

“Divorce is always toughest on the children” has been a very old mantra for very demonstrable reasons. As much as we try to shield them from the negativity that comes with the divorce process the after-effects are felt for years. It’s how we deal with co-parenting issues on a daily basis that sets the tone and the example for the family to help guide them in the direction of good decisions.

How incredible is it that the kids in Florida are now turning around to show us the path to a smarter decision.

How does a child process a parent not being able to explain why students, like them, are being shot and why the grown ups don’t make it stop. Apparently one way these Florida kids discovered was to get on a bus, go to the Capitol(s) and “Call BS”. BRAVO!

This is one that both parents can reinforce with the family and offer support if anyone wants to get involved. It’s one of those times to “reach across the family aisle” towards a common goal because it just makes sense.

Congratulations on the Gold to the USA Women’s Hockey Team-the goaltender, Rooney, is from Minnesota.

The Truth is Irrelevant (all the time, not just in ADR Services)

TRUTH IS IRRELEVANT

All the time. Not just for mediators, and not just for ADR Services.

Headlock resized 600

 When we think of disputes, most people think that ascertaining the truth is the key to the resolution of a disagreement.  Find the truth, and you have the resolution to the conflict. Yet how many of us see “the truth” in the same way?

Truth is seen to be the foundation of the American justice system Yet how many litigants are satisfied with the outcome of the case once the judge makes a ruling?  By its very nature, litigation results in at least half of the litigants being disappointed.

“I Promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”

            This oath required of every witness in an American court is designed to bring out the truth. Unfortunately, as we saw when former President Clinton took this same oath, truth is not always forthcoming, even from the highest office in the land.

            Honesty and veracity are important virtues—whether in the courtroom or around the mediation table. A witness who is perceived to be lying on one point—even a small one—may be disbelieved in other parts of his story. Just look at how Judge Jackson and the American public viewed Bill Gates and the Microsoft position after Gates was cross-examined effectively in the antitrust trial. Once he’d been discredited on one fact, suddenly his whole story seemed suspicious.

            Having credibility and being believed is no less important in mediation—since settlement requires voluntary agreement, you have to gain the trust of your adversary in order to make a deal. Truth is not irrelevant when you’re talking about credibility and trust.

            But The Truth is.

            Does it really matter how many times former President Clinton was alone with Monica Lewinsky? Does it matter whether Monica’s dress had been dry-cleaned or not?

            Interesting? Yes. But whichever way this testimony came out or was perceived, what truly was important went beyond the truth of this evidence. Could the President regain the trust of Congress, the Cabinet, the American people, and his wife and daughter? Could Monica Lewinsky move on with her life? What happened was that the country’s focus disintegrated into partisan bitterness, when its energy and resources would have been better spent in improving the economy or protecting our citizens from terrorist danger.  That’s what happens when you focus on the wrong part of the conflict.  The country focused on “the truth” and the past, rather than the bigger picture, and more important goals.

            Looking at it a different way, the truth, though important, would remain different for each individual and probably never be reconciled. What really happened in the White House bathroom was less important than what President Clinton did at the infamous press conference when he pointed his finger and defiantly (and credibly) stated: “I never had sex with that woman.”  His mealy-mouthed attempt to shade the facts did irreparable damage to his credibility.  The truth mattered much less than the country’s trust in his credibility.  By losing focus on the goals

Los Angeles Superior Court Update: Budget Cuts

I went to a meeting today with the Honorable Thomas Trent Lewis at the Los Angeles Superior Court. He wanted to update the family law bar, forensic accountants, and custody expert witnesses about what exactly is going on at the court given all the budget cuts.

los angeles superior court

It was pretty interesting. Infuriating, but interesting.

Background below. Here’s what made me nuts:

The Judge said something to the effect of:  we’ve all made a lot of money off this system and it’s treated us well over the years (NOTE: that is pretty much a quote–seriously).  At the moment, it’s time to try and settle some cases to help us get rid of some of this backlog and to deal with the budget cuts [and go back to making money off the system when some of this is cleaned up].

I thought my head was going to blow off.

Aren’t ethical lawyers supposed to try and settle cases if they can be settled without having to go to court, provided that justice will still be served?

What I interpreted was, “Settle a couple of your money makers and we’ll all get back to normal.”  That is my interpretation–that is not what he said. But it’s what he implied, IMHO.

My colleague said, “I wonder if they’ll refer cases to mediation since they’re so backed up?” 

So I said, “Let’s ask!”  So she very bravely asked the Judge if the court would be referring cases to mediation. And he said “Oh yes!” and named off a bunch of last-minute, knock-heads style “mediation” efforts that will be forced upon litigants who are scheduled for trial to see if they can settle. 

In these “mediations” everyone is being paid except the mediator.  The mediator is a volunteer….who probably isn’t really a mediator, but an experienced litigation attorney who maybe had mediation training and maybe did not, and who maybe has experience mediating and maybe does not.

He wasn’t talking about early intervention mediations.  And I clarified with him, and asked, “We’re talking about private mediations,” to which he responded in a hostile tone, “That is YOUR marketing problem.”

Wow.

I thought maybe the court would finally embrace mediation as a way to help people stay out of court……if only because it would help the court balance its budget.  But no.   Even the judges realize that the true money is to be made when people hire lawyers and go to court, and they’re not going to do anything to jeopardize even $1 of those legal fees in order to help the people who really need to go to court get there?  Wow.

Wow.  I feel so naive.  Usually the judges will at least pay lip service to mediation and other ADR processes which help people stay out of court.  I guess not this time.

Here’s a bit of background:

The Los Angeles Superior Court has had $118 million in budget cuts. They were able to cut $70 million by attrition and other measures which meant they didn’t have to lay off a bunch of people.  But that leaves $48 million still to be cut….and probably an additional $30 million (for a grand total of $78 million still to be cut) given Governor Brown’s budget cut news of just a couple of days ago.

They just canceled every single trial date starting July 2, 2012. So if you’ve been getting divorced for 2 or 3 years and you finally have a trial date….you don’t have a trial date anymore. Here’s the official court order on vacating trial dates.

The Burbank court has been closed, and their cases have been moved to Pasadena.

They’re cutting non-courtroom staff, which means processing paperwork is going to take even longer than the 4 months it currently takes to process stipulated judgments.  That’s not much of a reward for staying out of court and settingling out of court, now is it?

They’re closing 1 courtroom in the downtown courthouse. That’s not too bad, except for the judges who’ll have to take over the 1400 cases assigned to that courtroom (I’m guessing here…but I’m sure it’s quite a few, given that 41,000 divorces are filed in LA County every year and there are about 30 family law courtrooms).   Never mind the backlog of cases.  So maybe that number is more like 2000.  I can’t be sure, and try as I might to find the statistics, the court information office won’t answer my questions and I can’t find it online.

There’s a new trial court and they’re trying to expedite cases through the system….but hey, I used to work there and I witnessed the work environment and push to be mediocre.  If you were outright terrible, you’d get fired (but that didn’t happen very often).  If you were really good, and tried to change things, you also go fired.  Seriously. My supervisor said I was going to get fired because I wrote a book (the manuscript was turned in before I was hired), Your Divorce Advisor, and that was practicing law and I wasn’t allowed to practice law while I worked at the court. Seriously?

Anyway, thanks for listening.

Divorce Strategy and Divorce Mediation

 

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

That’s a quote attributed to Alexander Graham Bell and couldn’t be more true today.  As a divorce attorney, you’re preparation is a lot different than it is as a Mediator.  I would know, I am currently a Mediator dedicated exclusively to family law, divorce settlements and child custody and I was also a divorce litigation attorney for many years.  Back when I worked at firms like Noyes & Mercer in New Haven, Connecticut, I had a much different preparation strategy than I do now.

 As a divorce attorney, you better believe you need to be prepared.  That includes drafting a strategy for the best possible outcome for your client.  It’s a game with a lot at stake.  As a litigator your job is to win.

divorce attorney

 Boy, am I glad those days are over.  Today I am concerned with strategy and “winning” in a whole different way.

 I’m concerned with helping couples, as a whole, not one side, to reach an agreement that they can both live with equally.  It’s a relief after years of thinking on a one way street.  My job is to make sure both parties have all the information–no trial notebooks, pre-marked exhibits and cross-examinations.  When a couple comes into our office at Peace Talks Mediation Services, I get to greet both sides knowing that when our sessions together are over, they will have the tools and the knowledge to craft a brighter future for themselves, post-divorce.

In the old days, I’d wear out notebooks with notes and scripts for evidence objections and questioning.  I learned from the best, my mentor Carl Porto of Parrett Porto Parese was always the most prepared guy in the room.  He always used to teach us that winning was about preparation, being more prepared than the folks at the other end of the table.

 My record: in twelve years as divorce litigator I “lost” just once, and by “lose” I mean the judgement wasn’t up to my standards.  Not bad.

 I miss those days in some ways, but now as a divorce mediator in Los Angeles, it’s a whole different ballgame, one that can be it’s own reward.

 My preparation these days consists of notes, worksheets and checklists as well, but now everything is more open.  We share our notes and checklists with the clients–both sides.  All financial documents are explained and gone through in detail during our sessions to make certain that everyone is up to speed.  We debrief after sessions, going over bullet points and drawing out a plan going forward.  It’s a more intimate process, with the client in the driver’s seat.

Take advantage of some of the tools we use for free:

free-stuff

 Sure, divorce mediation can have it’s fair share of pitfalls, but we all work to pick each other up and attack the problem, like players on a team.  We’re in it together.

 In fact, the only strategy we need in Mediation is this: Do whatever is necessary to help people to reach an agreement.  What a pleasant thought!

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