From The Editor
Bill Girdner
Story Date:   
Week 36

     Some coyotes have been raiding my dad's old farm outside Ramona. So I went to buy long range .22 bullets.
     At the first place I tried, Turner's on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, the woman at the counter shook her head. "You can try back Monday morning," she said. "That's when they deliver."
     As I walked out, I heard a couple store employees near the counter advising a slight, middle-aged Asian man on where he could go to learn to shoot. I thought, a bad thought, that Asian folks learning to drive has been perhaps a sufficient threat to our relatively peaceful enclave in the lee of the San Gabriel mountains.
     Going into the store also reminded me of the time when a family bought the house next to ours close to where the Ninth Circuit courthouse now stands, and my French mom thought it a matter of some shame, she discussed it in a low voice, that the new neighbors owned a gun store on Arroyo.
     So on the way down to the farm that weekend I stopped at two Big Fives -- no luck -- and a Walmart. The beat-up, locked, white metal, case at the back of Glendora's Walmart was bare except for a few odd-caliber rounds.
     I told the story of my quest at a family dinner that night in Carlsbad, and my nephew Alex answered with his story of going to Walmart on a recent Monday morning where he saw two men with arms crossed waiting for the attendant in the gun section.
     "Sorry guys, nothing today," the attendant told them.
     "We'll see you tomorrow," they answered.
     Apparently there has been a shortage of ammunition for a couple years now. And my nephew, I was surprised to learn, is a bit of a survivalist and was himself at Walmart trying to stock up.
     He generously offered to stop by the farm the next day and drop off a couple boxes of long range .22 shells.
     The dinner discussion then turned to a bigger kind of bullet and a different type of coyote, drones and ISIS.
     Alex and his wife are both trained in the sciences, engineering and biology. She told the story of a friend, an engineer, who had quit his job working on weaponized drones out of moral concern for their purpose.
     But in looking for a new job, he found that nearly all current openings for engineers in San Diego are tied to government contracts for drone development.
     And the news over the last week confirms that drones have become our government's preferred military option.
     They were used last month to stop the ISIS two-front advance on an ancient Christian sect that worships a peacock image and on the more modern and religiously diverse society of the Kurds.
     The strikes turned the ISIS fighters back towards the west where they promptly overran a Syrian air base and south towards Baghdad where American drones were again used over the Labor Day weekend, shoring up the spotty Iraq Army and Shiite militias supported by Iran.
     No wonder our president doesn't have a good plan.
     There aren't any.
     I had wondered where ISIS drew its organizational strength. A New York Times story last week answered that question, reporting that a big chunk of the leadership is made up of former military officials from Saddam Hussein's army, radicalized by the U.S. invasion of Iraq and their subsequent time in U.S.-run prisons.
     With that story came floating into mind the image of an American who wore fine suits and silk ties and combat boots, the American governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer. I remember articles noting his decision to exclude from the new government anyone with ties to Hussein's Ba'ath party, depriving the government of professionals and handing it to a klepocracy of incompetents.
     Like an evolving Ebola virus, ISIS is a strain of militancy developed through adaptation to its environment. Part of that environment is the political reality in America that nobody, not even John McCain or Lindsey Graham, advocates sending troops back over there.
     Which leaves only one choice. Missiles. From drones.
     But if the joysticks take the drones south, they protect a weak, squabbling, set of thieves who, one might be forgiven for saying, invited the serpent into their nest. They also support militias aligned with Iran where we have just increased sanctions.
     And if they take the drones west into Syria, they protect the Assad regime that we say we will not protect.
     Meanwhile, to the east of the cradle of civilization, Pakistanis are skirmishing with Indians, another conflict with incandescent roots, to the west, Egyptians are bombing the Libyans who are killing each other, to the north, Russians are invading Ukraine, and to the south, the Israelis are taking more land from Palestinians.
     We do love our guns. Our government loves its drones. But they will not get the world out of this mess.

Coyote Speaks
Robert Kahn
Story Date:   
Sexual Perverts

     What the beheadings of three reporters in the Middle East prove, if they prove anything, is that the Muslim murderers who did it are sexual perverts.
     I don't have to explain this to you.
     I won't mention the organization's name, because that's what the little perverts want me to do.
     Sigmund Freud's complete works are available online.
     The Muslim perverts can read them there, if they can read.
     If their imam will let them.
     Not that we don't have sexually perverted religious fanatics in our own country.
     Of course we do.
     Here they tend to be Christians.
     Over there, they're Muslims.
     In Israel they're Jews.
     Same deal.
     Filming a murder, and broadcasting it all over the world, is an act of sexual perversion.
     Bulldozing a house in the West Bank, because one of the family's children fought back, is an act of sexual perversion.
     Shooting a doctor in the United States because he performs abortions is an act of sexual perversion.
     The Muslim religion today is the most sexually perverted of our three so-called "great" monotheisms - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - though all of them are sexually perverted.
     Christian priests have the good grace to sexually molest children instead of killing them.
     Israel tortures and kills people and knocks their houses down. But Israel has the decency to try to hide its crimes.
     Muslims today brag about their perversions. They put their perversions and murder online.
     The only difference between the Muslim cowards who murder entire villages, and the Christian cowards who murder doctors, and the Israelis who murder Palestinian children, are that the Muslims post the video.
     And brag about it.
     The New York Times published an editorial last week about the Muslim perverts.
     The Times didn't say it that way, of course.
     The Times said that Islam is "one of the world's great religions."
     I suppose that's true.
     But look at it.
     Look at all of them.
     There is nothing great about a religion whose members slaughter other people wholesale because of the way the believers think the other people think. Or ought to think. Or ought to be prohibited from thinking.
     We all know why the Times did it, of course: to appeal to as many people as possible.
     But religious warfare has been killing people for thousands of years.
     It's killing people today.
     If you calculate the numbers of people actually killed, against the numbers of people putatively saved by religion, I don't see how you can say we have any great religions.
     Not the way they're carried on today, nor the way they've been carried on for thousands of years.
     Though to tell you the truth, as a heterosexual atheist Jew, I love Pope Francis.

From The Courts
Milt Policzer
Story Date:   
Psycholawgical Counseling

     Can you fake caring?
     Should you?
     Will your clients be able to tell if you're fake-caring?
     Cynic that I am, those were some of the questions coursing through my brain last week after spotting an article on by an NYU Law School vice dean, titled "Lawyers and emotional intelligence," in which lawyers are advised to send nice notes to clients and share embarrassing stories.
     Imagine billing for those notes and stories.
     There go the good feelings.
     Now imagine not billing for them after all the time you've spent working on your humanity.
     Clearly, the only way this works to your benefit is if you're so nice that the clients put you in their wills.
     The vice dean apparently has a Ph.D. in psychology and runs "emotional intelligence" workshops at the law school. My (once again, cynical) response to learning this was to wonder why she wasn't spending her time healing the emotional scars of people subjected to law school and law practice instead of teaching classes.
     Be that as it may, being nice to clients is a fine idea. It could help your business.
     Or not.
     Let's use the hypothetical in the vice dean's article:
     "Consider one of New York City's most successful lawyers, stranded on the airport Tarmac, deliberately managing his own frustration about the delay by using the time to think through his client roster, sending notes to the ones who are dealing with personal difficulty (going through a fraught divorce, husband with cancer, eldest daughter in rehab). Imagine the impact if you are the one with the personal crisis and you get a warm note from that celebrity lawyer."
     Are you imagining the impact?
     Does the horribly distraught client think "what a wonderful person this celebrity lawyer is for thinking of me at a time like this"?
     Or does the horribly distraught client think "this asshole that I barely know has got some nerve trying to score points with me while I'm going through this"?
     It's a fine line.
     Maybe you have to be a "celebrity lawyer" for this to work.
     I'm having a hard time imagining these workshops catching on in too many law schools. Think back to all the law professors you've encountered in class and what they put you through.
     There's not a lot of niceness expertise out there.
     But I don't want to give the impression that I think this is a bad idea. In fact, I think it's a really good one. It just doesn't go quite far enough.
     Over the years, I've looked at billions of lawsuits and appellate opinions. (That's a conservative estimate - I've lost count.) My conclusion from all this reading is that a very large percentage of people engaging in litigation might have been helped by some therapeutic psychological counseling, rather than years in court.
     Or perhaps drugs.
     Emotional intelligence isn't quite enough - especially for lawyers who only had a workshop on niceness in law school.
     What we need are lawyers fully trained in what I call psycholawgical counseling. Law schools should be required to provide full course work in both legal practice and psychology/psychiatry.
     You'll be able to tame your demanding, insane clients and also provide expert representation if their obsessions might actually lead to some money.
     You can charge standard legal fees or you can charge for weekly therapy sessions. You might even be able to bill insurance companies for the therapy.
     And if you end up hating law practice, you can give yourself some therapy.
     Or a prescription.