Thoughts on the Day After the Latest School Shooting, or “Another Day, Another Shooting”

It’s only been a day since the latest gun tragedy, and I’m already hearing the right-wing talking points about how we shouldn’t be talking about gun control now and how if we only focused on mental health treatment we wouldn’t have these shootings. This talk is outrageous, and a slap in the face to all victims, past and future.

We know that mental illness doesn’t necessarily cause violence. In fact, most people who are severely mentally ill aren’t violent at all. And many of the shootings that happen in this country have nothing to do with mental illness. Although it’s the mass shootings that get all of the media attention, and many of the mass shooters happen to have mental health issues, it’s a simple correlation. Yes, we have a problem with mental health care in this country, just as we have a problem with all health care, but these shootings are absolutely a gun issue. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous. All of the research–every shred of evidence–shows that our gun culture and easy access is the main contributing factor to the inordinate number of shootings every single day in this country.[1] We know, factually, that anywhere there are more guns and more availability of guns, there is more gun violence. We know, factually, that where there are more gun control and safety laws, there are fewer shootings. And by now, we know that the US is quite unique in its disproportionate gun violence thanks to that easy access and lack of regulation.[2] Continue reading →


Remembering 9/11

They say that time heals all wounds. I think they’re mostly right. On September 11, 2011, the ten-year anniversary of that horrible day, I decided that it was time, for me at least, to move forward and heal the wound. Over the years, the anniversary of 9/11 got a little easier for me to face. The first year, I remember I had a dentist appointment. And I remember thinking to myself, “Who on earth would be going to the dentist today?? I should cancel this.” The entire day was uneasy and incredibly depressing. I cried most of the day. By then I was living in California, having moved here only a few weeks prior. Continue reading →

All Californians Should Support SB 277

San Franciscans and Californians should support the elimination of the public belief exemption (PBE) for vaccines to protect the health and safety of all Californians.

All credible sources agree: Vaccinations are safe, and necessary to keep our public healthy. In fact, the Supreme Court, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, ruled that mandatory vaccines are allowed, with the understanding that public health concerns outweigh individual beliefs. Vaccinations are clearly a public health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over the last 2 decades, vaccines prevented 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths, and saved $295 billion in direct medical costs and $1.3 trillion in societal costs. Continue reading →

Student Loan Industrial Complex: Reform Before Bursting

Recent analysis of the student loan industry demonstrates that it could be the next bubble to burst and needs comprehensive reform that includes lowering and maintaining realistic tuition rates coupled with no or low-interest loans by banks with reformed usury laws. Today’s graduates, who comprise tomorrow’s middle class, innovators, and entrepreneurs, have become indentured servants to the banking industry and are unable to achieve any of the dream that America once had to offer. This is partly because of lack of regulation regarding bank usury. On any given minimum monthly payment on a student loan, as much as 60 percent of that payment may automatically go toward interest rather than principle. It is no wonder that it takes graduates up to 30 years to pay off their student loans, if they are able to at all, all the while delaying economic and social decisions such as to marry, have children, buy a home, invest in retirement accounts, or otherwise stimulate the economy. Continue reading →

City of Dogs

There is a lot of talk these days about the National Park Service’s draft proposal to limit off-leash areas for dogs on federal recreational property. Listening to the controversy and testimony, you would think that the feds want to throw all of the dogs into the Pacific to drown. I think the arguments for the dogs are, well, for the birds. Continue reading →

Where is the American and Afghan Leadership for Those Who Really Need it?

With the news of General Stanley McChrystal leaving the lead post in Afghanistan, we can assume that American leaders will continue to work with Afghan leaders to fight against the Taliban and extremists who terrorize the Afghan people. Without diminishing the importance of the actions surrounding his dismissal, any inappropriate comments made to a music magazine pale in comparison to the inappropriate behaviors he allowed district commanders to exert over girls and women in Afghanistan, however. It seems like similar extremists have been allowed to control Afghan districts. Is the protection of girls and women not included in progressing and securing Afghanistan? Continue reading →

Despite a great goal, AB1998 is too broad!

Assembly Bill 1998, introduced by Assemblywomen Julia Brownley, proposes to ban single-use bags in California. Like many well-intentioned environmental bills, however, AB 1998 is overly broad and could create the exact opposite environmental effect while creating an unreasonable burden for many Californians. The problem lies in the language. Rather than specifying plastic bags, about which there is little disagreement on the negative impact, this bill would “prohibit convenience food stores, foodmarts, and certain specified stores from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer.” Single-use carryout bags, under this bill, would also include paper bags, which clearly do not have the same negative environmental impact as do plastic bags and which are arguably not even single use. Under this bill, plastic bags would be banned, which would be a good thing, but consumers would be required to pay a minimum of 5 cents per paper bag, which is a bad thing. This amounts to a tax or fee on our most vulnerable, those who have a difficult time just trying to buy food, nonetheless the bags to put the food in. Continue reading →

What’s Wrong with the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority and MUNI?

There is a lot of talk lately about the safety on MUNI, which is certainly an important issue; however, before one can be safe on MUNI, one has to be able to get on MUNI. With cuts in schedules and lines, unreliable service, and overzealous or downright rude drivers, too many people are left stranded or substantially late. In a city that prides itself on being green and progressive, these obstacles make San Francisco a laughing stock to other cities with state-of-the-art public transit systems. But even worse, the obstacles make San Francisco an unlivable city. To add insult to injury, the more the fares are increased, the less reliable and efficient the service becomes. Continue reading →

Solution to Prison Overcrowding Right under Our Noses

With California’s jails and prisons overflowing with nonviolent first-time offenders, drug offenders, and mentally ill offenders, we are indeed at a crisis. While the prisons are helping to bankrupt our state, legislators and advocates are working tirelessly to find solutions. People are against releasing prisoners for a variety of reasons, including public safety and wanting prisoners to be held accountable for their actions.

But what if there was a solution that allowed offenders to be held accountable, addressed public safety, and kept nonviolent offenders out of prison? And what if this solution actually saved the state—you and me and every taxpayer you know—money? Continue reading →