Thursday, June 30, 2016

City Council Wants To Evict A Library Cat, And The Fur Is Flying Over This

Browser the cat at the White Settlement, Texas public
library. That community's city council wants him
out of the library, and the town's residents
are rebelling at that idea.  
UPDATE:

Browser the cat can stay in the White Settlement, Texas library after all.

As the Dallas Morning News put it in their headline:

"White Settlement Council turns tail, lets Browser the Library cat stay after backlash."

After the council initially voted to oust the cat last month, a social media firestorm erupted.

The White Settlement Council caved in the face of the onslaught, and Browser will keep sleeping in the library, catching the occasional mouse and entertaining the children who come in

I guess sense and peace finally came back to White Settlement

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION:

The city council in White Settlement, Texas voted recently to evict Browser, the cat that's been living at the municipal library for almost six years.

There hadn't really been any complaints about the cat, and this vote to evict Browser came out of the blue, according to local media reports.

Browser was originally brought in to combat rodents that had been damaging books in the library.

Everybody ended up loving the affectionate cat, who helps children settle down and read their books.

But the city council suddenly had other ideas. Suddenly, Browser is a crisis and has to leave the library, apparently.

White Settlement City Council member sniffed, "City Hall and city businesses are no place for animals," as she voted to evict Browser, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. 

Of course, the entire community of White Settlement is up in arms as a petition circulates for a new vote on the matter coming up. Or a community vote to keep the cat.

But the White Settlement City Council is determined to get rid of Browser, the Star Telegram notes.

Council member Steve Ott said people might be allergic to cat dander, which is a point but you can keep Browser away from people with allergies.

Others point out that if Browser goes, the mice come in and pest control outfits will have to use chemicals to banish the rodents.

Still, Ott is unmoved. "That cat is just that - a cat. Not a person. So go ahead and sign all the petitions you want. The cat needs to go."

The community's mayor thinks this all got started because an employee at City Hall wanted to bring his puppy to work and they wouldn't let him, so he got revenge by getting the City Council to go after Browser.

By the way, Browser isn't costing White Settlement taxpayers anything. Library personal pay for Browser's feeding and care out of pocket.

Personally, I'm not a cat person. They're OK. But I can see how a cat could have a welcoming, calming influence at a library.

Maybe the White Settlement city councilors who don't like Browser should just chill. Or read a damn book or something.

Man Billed $143 For Rescuing Three Children, Man Trapped In Rollover Crash

This guy rescued a man and three
kids from an overturned van. He got
billed $143 because of it.  
You gotta like good Samaritans like Derrick Deanda.

As he was driving around in Elk Grove, California, not long ago, a van rolled over.

Inside were a man and three children. They were trapped.  

So Deanda busted out a window of the overturned van and got everybody out. They're all OK.

The local paramedics showed up and made sure everybody was doing OK. They checked Deanda's pulse, noted a small cut he received while he was rescuing the family, and they gave him a bottle of water.

Deanda now has to pay for his heroics because of a $143 bill he received from the Cosumnes  Community Services District, which is the local first responder outfit, says CBS Sacramento. 

All patients the first responders see are billed the $143. Deanda became a patient because the first responders looked at that small cut he had.  

It isn't exactly like the first responders spent hours trying to save Deanda's life. He was in pretty good shape to begin with.

"We're obligated to provide the same level of service, the same billing, the same everything for every patient we encounter," Deputy Chief Mike McLaughllin said.

Deanda could appeal the bill, but why should he go through the trouble? He rescued the damn family from the overturned van.

Actually, McLaughlin would like to get rid of the bill Deanda got, but he can't because he's supposed to bill everybody. "This is a truly unique situation.... In my 28 years, this is the first time I've run into a situation similar to this."

"Our desire is to make this right," McLaughlin said. But Deanda is still going to have to appeal to make that happen.

This kind of situation does seem to discourage other would-be good Samaritans, which the world desperately needs.

"I mean, why would I want to stop to help somebody if I'm going to get a bill for $150," Deanda told CBS Sacramento. 

Love This Video Of People Tricked Into Giving Speech At Fake Graduation

This impromptu graduation speaker broke
into his song during his address in this
Improv Everywhere scene.  
I love a New York group called Improv Everywhere.

They prank people and put the videos up on YouTube.

I know, a lot of people do that, but unlike most of these videos, the Improv Everywhere stuff is not insulting to the people who they prank.

There's no meanness.  Which makes their videos fun instead of aggravating.

Plus, Improv Everywhere, whose motto is "We Cause Scenes" have more elaborate setups than most videos.

Their latest prank, video of which is at the bottom of this post,  involves a college graduation ceremony in Bryant Park, New York. The graduates of some college are there, ready to get their diplomas. College administrators are there.

But where's the commencement speaker? He missed his flight, so the "college dean," one of the Improv Everywhere actors, wades into the people enjoying the park on a nice day and asks them to step in and be the substitute commencement speaker.

Some people seem to know this is a joke but cooperate anyway, so why not? Others have no idea this is fake, but give really good speeches.  
Improv Everywhere created a fake college
graduation ceremony that was desperate for
a speaker. The results were tons of fun. 

One New Yawker with a thick Brooklyn accent tells the "college graduates," "You're are all going to kick ass in real life, just go for whatever you want."

Loved her.

And this delightful non sequitor from a young woman who addressed the crowd thusly. "Just last year I was standing in your seats."

One guy breaks into song. Another person gives the speech in Spanish but in reality speaks fluent English ("You tricked me, so I tricked you," she later told the Impro Everywhere people.

Here's Improv Everywhere's delightful college graduation video:



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mississippi Lawmaker Wins Competition As Most Heartless Pol

This Mississippi politician apparently thinks
if you're not rich enough to buy
lifesaving medication on your own
maybe you should just die and get out of the way. 
When you're in Congress, or a state legislature, or a governor or whatever, you do have to make tough financial choices.

What gets funded, what doesn't based on limited tax revenue. The reality is some worthy, needed programs  - or people in a tough spot - just don't get the money they need.

Such is the case in Mississippi.

According to the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, a mom named Nicole Nichols was getting Medicaid to help pay fo ran expensive insulin pump for her eight year old daughter, who has insulin.

She is a stay at home mom, but her husband works two jobs, so the family does have an income.

But this pump is extremely expensive, the Nichols' can't afford it on their own, and they reluctantly had to turn to Medicaid to help pay for the life saving device.

Then, the company that supplied the pump outsourced products and shipping to another company.

That other company was not covered by Medicaid, and Nichols can't find another outfit that is covered by Medicaid. So she could no longer get the insulin pumps with help from Medicaid. She tried something like 23 of them.

So, that's not Nichols' fault. It's bureaucracy.

In frustration, she reached out to Mississippi state lawmakers. Two were sympathetic but not committal. They'll see what they can do. Which is fine, that's all you can really ask.

But a third state rep, Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs  wrote back and told Nichols: "I am sorry for your problem. Have you thought abouty buying the supplies with money that you earn?"

I'll remind you again here that Nichols and her husband are employed.  I'll also note that right now, the out of pocket expenses for their kid's insulin pump is $2,000 a month.

So what Guice is really saying is if your job doesn't pay enough to pay for the medicines you need to stay alive, you just have to earn more money. Just like that.

In other words, only rich people deserve life-saving medicine.

I won't paint Republicans with the same brush, since many of them at least have some compassion and have their act together.

But there is a strain of awfulness in some corners of the GOP in which I think they believe only the 1 percent deserve to live. Everybody else is expendable.

At least Guice was blunt about this belief, unlike a lot of 'em who say they want to help but not really.

Guice right now isn't talking about this, refusing to answer questions from the Clarion Ledger, telling the paper, "I don't do interviews."

Oh, OK, you're an elected official who also thinks he's not accountable to the public. We got a real winner here.

Although, after the outcry over his remarks, Guice still wasn't taking calls, but released this emailed statement to the Associated Press:

"I realize my remarks to Mrs. Nichols were completely insensitive and out of line. I am sorry and deeply regret my reply. I know nothing about her and her family and replied in knee-jerk fashion. I'd like to think the people of Mississippi and my constituents know that I'm willing to help where I am able."

I'm still not satisfied. Guise said he replied to Nichols in "knee-jerk fashion." In other words, he assumed Nichols was just another freeloader, just like every person on Medicaid or other government assistance allegedly is.

Time to get those stupid, simplistic assumptions out of your head, Mr. Guise

On the bright side, all this publicity over Guise's comments has prompted Mississippi Medicaid to step in and see if there's anything they can do for Nichols. They're supposed to get in touch with her today.

So I guess Guise did end up helping in his own, bitter way.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Woman Bursts Into Song At Lincoln Memorial, And The Result Is Heavenly

On a dare, this woman from Florida started singing
the National Anthem while on a visit to the Lincoln
Memorial in Washington DC. Watch the video
at the bottom of this post to hear the magic that resulted.  
A singer named Star Genleah Swain was at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on June 16 when her crew issued a dare for her.

Just start randomly singing the National Anthem amid all the tourists swarming around her.

The resulting viral video is a show stopper: Between the acoustics at the memorial and her amazing voice, this really was a special moment.

When she isn't wowing us with singing, Swain is an assistant principal at the Jefferson County Middle/High School in Monticello, Florida, says her Facebook page.

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the viral video. Totally worth the watch:

Monday, June 27, 2016

8th Grader Should Just Be President Already With His Candidates' Voices

Jack Aiello went presidential hilariously during
his eight grade graduation this spring, and
now he's a viral sensation.  
I didn't touch it at the time when a video you'll see at the bottom of the post went viral in May, but I now can't resist, since the kid involved is becoming a political sensation.

Jack Aiello, 14, became a sensation during his 8th grade graduation speech from Thomas Middle School near Chicago last month.

That because he hilariously adopted the voices of top presidential contenders like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, along with our current president Barack Obama

As noted by NPR, Aiello even got the gist of each candidate's campaign philosphy during that graduation speech. When he was doing Sanders, he said his school had great cinnamon rolls. However: "I do have one improvement for them, though: We need to make them free.

"Why should students have to pay for their own cinnamon rolls? Doesn't make sense. What we need is a cinnamon roll revolution."

When Aiello did Trump we hear: "Congratulations, you are getting to hear a speech from the magnificent Donald Trump. And let me just tell you that Thomas has been such a great school. Quite frankly, it's been fantastic."

When he moved on to Ted Cruz, religion naturally mixed in: "Let me start by saying this: God bless the great school of Thomas."

Aiello the captured Hillary Clinton's rising crescendo common in her speeches: Teachers at Thomas were "Our champions. They've given us the skills to get us through sixth grade, and through seventh grade and eighth grade and now we're going to take those skills and apply them to high school!"

Jimmy Fallon was so impressed with Aiello that he had him on his Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.  Aiello played "Little Trump," who turned out to be the only person who could be (big) Donald Trump's Vice Presidential running mate.

Here's the awesome viral video from the graduation, followed by his appearance with Jimmy Fallon



And here's the video from Jimmy Fallon:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

This Dog Rescue Sounds Almost Like A Crime Show Caper

Lucy the pit bull on the mend in the United States after
being secretly spirited out of Egypt to get her
away from an abusive owner.  
In Egypt, people believe purebred dogs are a status symbol.

Which is fine, as long as the dogs aren't mistreated.

But Lucy, a one-year old pitiful was mistreated. Badly.

The owner repeatedly kicked Lucy and beat her with a brick. Both sides of her jaw were broken, and she suffered other injuries.

A rescue group in Cairo tried to get the owner to give Lucy up, says The Dodo, but the guy refused.

So, it was on to Plan B: A bit of international bait and switch.

The rescue group in Cairo told the dog's owner Lucy had died of the injuries he had inflicted on her.

But she was really alive, if not well. The Cairo group got ahold of an outfit called Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation or SNARR.

SNARR spirited Lucy out of Egypt and to the United States before the dog's evil owner could figure out what was going on.

It took a lot of medical attention to make Lucy well, what with her shattered jaw and a terrible infection. But The Dodo says she's on the mend and will be put up for adoption.

She's with a foster family now who report that Lucy is a real sweetheart. 

Normally, I'm not in favor of lying and almost creating international incidents, but in this case, it was worth it.

I just hope that guy in Egypt doesn't get another dog. But I kinda hope he found out what went on with Lucy, so he can stew in his own regret for being a jerk, and too stupid to realize he was being conned in the best possible way.

Once Lucy is fully healed and with a loving family, maybe she can star in the next James Bond movie.

After all, she's experienced now in international intrigue.

Weird Crime Spree: Somebody Stealing Burlington, Vermont Gardens

A gap in a Burlington garden because of a plant thief
who is on a crime spree in that city.
Photo buy Joel Banner Baird/Burlington Free Press.
Vermont isn't the worst high crime neighborhood in the world, but sometimes, the crimes are downright weird.

For instance, lately, there's a crime spree in Burlington, Vermont's largest (but still small!) city.

Somebody is stealing garden plants from resident's yards and homes.

This isn't just some drunk college students ripping up flowers and breaking tree branches on an intoxicated late night stagger through the neighborhoods.

Somebody who knows what they're doing is carefully digging up flowers, plants and shrubs, or carefully clipping flower blooms in apparent attempts to make floral arrangements.

According to the Burlington Free Press, at least 26 people reported plant thefts within 10 days, (Warning, if you click on the Free Press link, you'll have to complete surveys and deal with pop up ads to actually get to the story. )

Sometimes the thief or thieves have pulled up easily replaceable annuals like marigolds. Other times, expensive shrubs or bushes disappeared.

My theory, because the plants have been so carefully uprooted, is somebody is getting these plants for "free" by stealing them, then reselling them for a profit somewhere.

Most of the thefts have happened in Burlington's Old North End, a neighborhood of homes that are fairly close together with small yards.

The neighborhood has experienced a welcome rebellion against lawns, and many homeowners have pulled up lots of sod and replaced the plots with beautiful vegetable and flower gardens.

This includes easily accessible spots, like erstwhile front yards.

Gardeners are famous with their generosity, and will very often divide some perennials for you if you see some in somebody's yard that you really like.

"If someone had knocked on my door and asked for some plants, I would have gladly split some of the perennials and give them some. And most people I know would have done the same," said Emily Lee, one of the plant theft victims told the Burlington Free Press.

But somebody is not politely asking for the plants.  They're just taking.

Burlington City Councilor Sara Giannoti, who represents the hardest hit part of town is dismayed because this is a quality of life issue.

"For it to happen to people who take so much time and effort to beautify a neighborhood - it hits your soul," she said.

A lot of the thefts are fairly unusual specimens, so the garden thief has taste, even if the lousy person or persons has no morals.

Among the plants to disappear are three dwarf apples trees that a man had planted as a memorial to his late mother-in-law; a dwarf weeping Japanese maple and a beautiful red blooming Asiatic lily.

People in the neighborhood are setting up surveillance cameras in an effort to catch the plant criminals.

A technician at the University of Vermont Medical Center is offering to help people set up inexpensive surveillance systems.

This is good. I hope the what I believe to be the World's Most Unethical Gardener gets caught. And I'm dying to know who it is.

As an avid gardener myself, I know my fellow gardeners tend to be a friendly, honest bunch. I hope this Burlington bad apple gets caught before he steals more good apple trees. Or any other plant.

 ,

Friday, June 24, 2016

"Make America White Again" Politician Has Other Stupid Things To Say, Too

 A Tennessee politician who has LOTS of stupid
things to say put up this annoying billboard.  
Rick Tyler certainly caused a splash this week when he put up a billboard in Polk County Tennessee that says "Make America White Again."

Tyler is running for to be a U.S. Congressman, representing Tennessee's 3rd District. Almost nobody thinks he'll win that seat, which is a good thing.

Beyond the extreme offensiveness of Tyler's billboard, we can also bask in the shining stupidity of his thoughts, his quotes and his campaign web site.

First of all, Tyler told television station WRCB in Chattanooga that he has no hatred for "people of color" but that the sign's message is that America should go back to a "1960s Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It To Beaver time when there were no breaks-ins, no violent crime, no mass immigration."

Yes, Ozzie and Harriet  and Leave It To Beaver were pleasant, calm and um, pretty white, but has anyone clued Tyler in that they were TV shows. As in fiction. As in not reality.  As in viewers' escape from their day-to-day trouble.

No mass immigration? I seem to recall at that time, America saw an influx of Cubans - decidely nonwhite people coming to our shores and living here. I'm glad we welcomed those Cubans fleeing Castro's repression, but still, no immigration?

No violent crime? The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was on TV from 1952 to 1966. To pick one year during that show's run, the murder rate in 1960 was 5.1 per 100,000 in the United States, according to Infoplease, citing statistics from the FBI.

The murder rate in 2014, Tyler's much hated modern era, was lower than in 1960, at 4.5 per 100,000 says Infoplease

OK, this next one is a smaller point, but maybe Tyler is more impressed with himself than others.

Television station WTVC in Chattanooga took a peek at Tyler's web site and found some real gems. Including this take on his billboard:

"With its towering and massive stature, the billboard sign is difficult to ignore an dits message comes across as authorative and influential."

First of all, the billboard looks a little small and lame, judging from the photos. And was Tyler just trying to ridiculously channel the 1988 song "Nothing But Flowers" by the Talking Heads.

After all, that song has the following lyric:

"Years ago, I was an angry young man
And I'd pretend that I was a billboard
Standing tall, by the side of the road.
I fell in love with a beautiful highway."

Kind of the same message as Tyler's, no?

In ever-more flowery language (Tyler needs an editor!) he goes on on his web site:

"The Make America White Again billboard advertisement will cut to the very core and marrow of what plagues us as a nation. As Anne Coulter so effectively elucidates in her book, "Adios America," the overhall of Amerca's immigration law in the 1960s has placed us on an inevitable course of demise and destruction.

Yes, the cunning globalist/Marxist social engineers have succeeded in destroying that great bulwark against statist tyranny, the white American super majority. Without its expedited restoration, little hope remains for the nation as a whole."

Wow, quite a helping of word salad there, Ricky!

So that strange performance artist Ann Coulter is right up there with the most classic of American writers writing about America? Right up there with Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman and John Steinbeck, huh?

You're also telling us that those Mexicans and other Latin American who streamed across our borders, either legally or illegally, was some evil plot by some Marxists to create tyranny in the U.S.

But what of the white Americans who seemed intent on tyranny. Does the name George Wallace ring a bell? How about Joseph McCarthy? J. Edgar Hoover?

Of course, Tyler's "Make America White Again" billboard is a play on Donald Trump's campaign catchphrase "Make America Great Again."

Tyler's an enthusiastic Trump supporter, but it's telling that a lot of people, including a pretty good sized number of Trump enthusiasts, really hated Tyler's billboard.

Here's a great example from WTVC's Facebook page which lists viewer comments:

Don Tate said, "As a Trump supporter, that is a poor excuse of a human to put a sign up like that. But that's the wonderful thing about freedom of speech. At least you know what's really in their heart."

True, that.

Tyler is a fringe candidate who will never be elected, so the temptation is to ignore him. But it's always best to look under rocks and into dark corners to see what kind of pestulence and rot is in there.

Because of if you catch it early and bring it to the light of day, you can disinfect it pretty quickly so it doesn't cause more damage.

Indeed, Tyler faces a backlash, as you might expect. The billboard has been taken down and pretty much everybody is boycotting the local restaurant he owns.

I  hope the fine folks of Polk County, Tennesee find a great candidate among the many who are ruming. I'm sure you can find somebody better than Tyler.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Idiots Light Shelves Of Fireworks In A Walmart Apparently Because It's Fun

Somebody set fire to this display of fireworks
inside a Phoenix Walmart.  
If you're in Arizona, you can buy fireworks for your Fourth of July celebrations at a Walmart.

Except at one Phoenix Walmart at the moment.

That's because some idiots decided it would be fun to light them on fire while the fireworks were still on the store shelves in that Walmart.

You can see the two videos of the incident at the bottom of this post. Pretty wild.

Whoever set the fire - and their faces are on security cameras from the store - could face 20 years in prison with a felony conviction for doing this.

Store staff evacuated the busy store. Some of them were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation from breathing all that smoke in while making sure everybody was out of the building.

On the bright side, the flames were extinguished before they reached a nearby display of lighter fluid and propane, which really would have caused a mess.

But the store is closed because of extensive smoke and water damage.

Because of some idiots.

First video was taken right by the display as it burst into flames, the second one is store surveillance cameras narrated by a snarky guy, but still pretty fascinating to watch.

And stupid. If that fire spread any quicker, some of those shoppers and Walmart staff could have been killed.




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Amazing Broadway Support For Orlando: "What The World Needs Now Is Love"

An awesome collection of Broadway luminaries has
just released a benefit song for Orlando shooting victims
and LGBT advocacy in Orlando.
My husband Jeff told me last night I should find out about "Broadway For Orlando," and effort to help the LGBT community after the Orlando shooting.

Great suggestion, Chief! (I call my husband Chief.)

Broadway for Orlando is something absolutely wonderful.

About 60 Broadway luminaries gathered in a recording studio on June 15 - just three days after the Orlando shooting - to record the Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic "What The World Needs Now Is Love."

Watch the stirring video of it at the bottom of this post. If their performance of this song doesn't move you at least a little, nothing will

Among the broadway luminaries taking part were Lin-Manuel Miranda (from "Hamilton); Kristen Bell, Gloria Estefa, Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Idina Mezel, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie Perez, Sara Bareilles, Wayne Brody, Rosie O'Donnell, Bernadette Peters, Carole King, Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune and Matthew Broderick.

Broadway for Orlando could not have chosen a better song for this effort, with the lyrics:

"What the world needs now is love, sweet love.
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone."

As a gay man, I'm thrilled to live in a changed world in which most people accept us for who we are, that I was able to marry the love of my life, even though he's the same gender as me. Things are much better than they were even a decade ago, never mind 30, 40, 50 years ago.

My favorite aunt was Aunt Irene. She was smart and funny and cool, always tooling around in her Ford Mustangs.

Aunt Irene also drank herself to death. I know now she was a lesbian, and back in the day -1950s, 1960, 1970s -  there was no way she could be who she was.

I have no proof of this, but I'm convinced the fact she couldn't openly live her life killed her.  Hate, intolerance and ignorance is a terribly efficient killer.

Years later, people bravely started coming out as gay, and when most reasonable people discovered they knew gay people and those people were just fine, the anti-gay balloon began deflating

This paved the way for people like me. I don't have to be alone and hidden like Aunt Irene. I'm proud of my husband, and who I am. Jeff and I have built a sweet life together. You know, love, sweet love, as the song goes.

But the love, as Broadway for Orlando tells us, it is not just for some, but for everyone. Or should be anyway.
Broadway stars record "What The World Needs Now
Is Love" to benefit the Orlando LGBT community. 

I know there's a lot of people like Aunt Irene. I mean still, to this day.

Anti-gay bigotry killed those 49 people in Orlando's Pulse nightclub. It also kills people quietly.

It's the so called Christian parents or churches or relatives who find out a kid is gay and rejects him or her.

The Trevor Project, an advocacy group for gay youth, tells us suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24, and LGBT are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.

Gay kids who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to attempt suicide as their gay peers who report no or low levels of family rejection, says the Trevor Project. 

Then we have the small but odious band of people in the U.S. who call themselves Christian and regularly try to beat the gay community down.

There's so-called Pastor Steven Anderson, who celebrated the deaths of the 49 people in Orlando shorting after the massacre.

There's also alleged Pastor Roger Jimenez, who wished the 53 people injured in the shooting at that gay nightclub would just die already because most of them were gay. (The owner of the building that leases space to Jimenez's "church" is so upset with the comments that they're kicking him and his church out.)

These are extreme examples, of course. But this kind of rhetoric is dangerous. Most people wouldn't act on these bigoted speeches, but a few wackos could.

I feel relatively safe being who I am, but not completely safe. I know there are hateful bigots that want me dead. Or to at least go away.

The hatred that still lingers. Statistics are iffy, but between 20 and 30 people are murdered in anti-LGBT violence annually. Most victims are people of color.

So yes, Broadway for Orlando is exactly right. What the world needs now is love, sweet love for everyone.

I'm also grateful Broadway for Orlando is continuing to publicize and push this so hard to raise money for The Center in Orlando. I noticed the Broadway luminaries got together again to perform "What the World Needs Now Is Love" on the Maya and Marty show on NBC last night. 

Sirius XM Rado host Seth Rudetsky and his husband, producer James Wesley decided on Monday, June 13 to organize the benefit single, People magazine reports. By Wednesday, the recording was done.

"We started making calls, and suddenly we had tons of theater actors along with an orchestra and the services of a fully-staffed recording studio, all willing to donate their time and talent......
Our community of artists has banded together as we always to to show we can end this cycle of violence and intolerance. Love will prevail," Rudetsky said.

You can go to BroadwayRecords.com or iTunes to download Broadway for Orlando's "What the World Needs Now Is Love," for $1.99.

Even more importantly, when you see hate or hear hate speeech against the LGBT community or anyway, counteract it. Do something loving. Tell the haters why they're wrong. You might not change their minds, but you'll  put them on notice.

Here's the spectacular video of Broadway for Orlando's "What the World Needs Now Is Love"

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kids Playtime Turns to Extreme Adventure Thanks To Hollywood Dad

Is this toddler clinging to the edge of a tall skyscraper?
Find out in the video in this post.  
UPDATE: The video I origionally posted was deleted by YouTube for violating terms of service.

I don't know why, but a replacement video is available, which I've posted.'

ORIGINAL DISCUSSION:

This is what happens to a normal kids's playtime when his dad works in Hollywood.

Let's do a little CGI on the kid.

This is pretty wild and fun, but I'm sure as heck glad the kid wasn't really in any danger.

Just special effects.

Watch and enjoy!

Conspiracy Nutjobs Delight In Torturing Orlando Shooting Victims

Patience Carter, who was injured during The Pulse nightclub
massacre in Orlando, was victimized again by nutjobs
 claiming she's a crisis actor partiipating in a government
ruse to take all our guns away, or something.
Photo by Zack Wittman/Tampa Bay Times 
A woman named Patience Carter was shot and injured at The Pulse nightclub during the massacre there earlier this month and a friend she was with was killed.

Carter, like all the victims in this shooting deserves all the support and love anybody can give her,  obviously.  

But cue the nutjobs!

Every time something like this happens the conspiracy weirdos come out of the woodwork to tell us the same old story they have. This massacre didn't happen. It was staged by the government to take all our guns away and suspend all our civil rights.

And those victims we all saw on TV? Those are all crisis actors brought in to stage the "shooting"

Riiiigghht.

You'd think the conspiracy wackos would come up with something original, but that's the narrative they give every time.

We could safely ignore these idiots if they didn't make sport of harassing people like Patience Carter. But they seek people like her out, splash her all over the internet and "expose" her as the fraud she is clearly not.

According to Slate, the "proof" the conspiracy dingbats offer is that Carter is supposedly a crisis actor , which is obvious because she had interned at television station WTFX.

She worked for awhile at a TV station! Which proves she's an actor!

Or something like that.
Patience Carter meets with President Obama after the
Orlando shooting, not before, as the conspiracy nutjobs
would have it. 

Carter also Instagrammed photos of herself after the shooting, including one in which President Obama was comforting her when he went down to Orlando after the crime. 

Someone changed the time stamps on Carter's Instagrams to make it look like they were taken before the shooting, then re-posted them on line.

Hey, if you do a sleight of hand and change the time stamp, then the time sequence really did alter, apparently. What, these conspiracy theories have Cher's "If I Can Turn Back Time" as a constant earworm in their sick little heads?

Similarly to this situation, the kooks tortured parents of young children who were killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut school massacre. As if these grieving parents needed more pain in their lives.

I'm not sure what to do about these nutjobs. Trying to bat away their idiotic rantings is just a fruitless, endless game of whack-a-mole.  Still, they deserve all the ridicule we can throw at them, which is what I'm trying to do here.

As for Patience Carter, she ended up "thanking" the morons who were bothering her with the nutty conspiracy theories. On Instagram she wrote: "It's your outrageous insensitivity that makes me want to heal even faster, and grow even stronger."




WTFX

Monday, June 20, 2016

Comfort Dogs Once Again Come To The Rescue, This Time In Orlando

A K-9 Comfort Dog consoles a woman in
Orlando last week after The Pulse nightclub shooting. 
Sometimes, humans are incredibly cruel to other people.

Like that evil Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and injured dozens more in The Pulse nightclub in Orlando a little more than a week ago.

Of course, many humans are incredibly kind, which explains the outpouring of support for Orlando.

Some of those kind people are with K-9 Comfort Dogs, sponsored by Lutheran Church Charities,  a group that trains golden retrievers to be therapy dogs.

The dogs go to places that are in crisis or had a disaster - like Orlando - where they help comfort people traumatized by the events.  Dogs always seem to be a light in an otherwise dark tunnel.

Unlike humans, dogs are almost always willing to lend a hand - make that a paw - when people need help.

Tim Hetzner of K-9 Comfort Dogs sent 12 golden retrievers along with 20 human volunteer dog handlers to Orlando, says CBS News. quoting Hetzner:

"With a golden, you don't feel alone, and you know that you're loved.....That helps people at the time to cope and to talk, and to see that there's hope. There's light."

Any breed of dog would help in a crisis like Orlando's of course, but golden retrievers are very good picks for this type of work.

The K-9 Comfort Dogs start a training program that lasts more than a year, starting whe their just eight weeks old. They learn to work with people with disabilities, get through airports, airplanes and escalators, and to manage their own temperaments in distressing situations.

While on the job, the comfort dogs will only work two hours at a time, then decompress during a play break by fetching balls orby taking a nap.  You don't want to overtax these dogs, who are only trying to help.

If what the comfort dogs are doing in Orlando sounds familiar, it should. The same organization went to Newtown, Connecticut when elementary school kids were slaughtered by a crazed gunman, traumatizing the town - and the nation.

According to National Geographic, petting a dog decreases levels of stress hormones and lowers blood pressure. Research suggests petting a dog releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding in affection, in both dogs and humans.

As many of us with dogs as companions know, they seem to have empathy. One study cited by National Geographic put dogs in a room with a couple of people. One person just sort of hummed to himself, the other pretended to cry.

The dogs always ran up to the person crying and nuzzled him or her.

Here's another good thing about comfort dogs and dogs in general: We seem to be an era of xenophobic politicians (Hi, Donald!)  These so called leader want to reject anyone they perceive as "other." So let's get rid of the Muslims, the Mexicans, the gays, or whoever else you want to target!

Dogs aren't like that.

Says National Geographic, citing Brian Hare, director of Duke University's Canine Cognition Center.  

"We've done research on this, and we've found is that not only are most dogs totally not xenophobic, they're actually xenophillic - they love strangers," Hare said. "Thats one way in which you could say dogs are 'better than people. We're not always that welcoming."

People often give obedience training to dogs. Maybe it's time the dogs start training us humans.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Fun: Dogs React To Guy Barking

The video in this post is a couple years old, but it's still a fun distraction on a Friday.

We have a guy that can bark, uncannily, just like a dog. So they put him in a room with dogs. He barked. The dogs mostly looked confused.

But it's still fun to watch the dogs' reactions to Barking Man:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Plane Full Of Great Human Beings Helps Grieving Grandmother Of Orlando Shootings

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20, was one of the victims
of the massacre at the Pulse nightlcub in Orlando
last Sunday. Passengers aboard a JetBlue flight wonderfully
comforted his grandmother as she flew
to Orlando for the funeral.  
Every time something like the massacre in Orlando happens - and it happens way too often, I and many others seek out examples of humanity's good side to help us get through the horror, and to recover our faith in people.

Fred (Mr.) Rogers once famously said:

"When I was a boy and I wuld see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me. 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'

To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always conforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

On cue, the helpers materialized in droves in Orlando and around the world.

The first responders who saved lives. The people who lined up for hours under the hot Florida sun to give blood to save the wounded. The people who handed out umbrellas, water and granola bars to those people waiting in line.

Then there was the crew and passengers aboard a JetBlue flight to Orlando this week.

One of the youngest victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre was Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20. His grandmother, devastated, boarded a JetBlue flight to Orlando to go to her grandson's funeral.

The JetBlue crew knew why the grandmother was on that hour and half long flight to Orlando. That's because JetBlue offered free flights to Orlando for relatives heading there for funerals.

According to CNN, one of the flight attendants, Kelly Davis Karas, thought it would be nice to ask passengers if they wanted to sign a paper offering condolences for the grandmother on that flight as she and fellow flight attendant Melissa Sloop Winstead made their way up the aisle with the beverage cart.

Karas thought they'd just sign their names.  But soon, there was a mad but quiet scramble to find more paper. Here's why, says CNN:

"Instead of signing their names and moving on, passengers were writing paragraphs - long notes of compassion, grief and strength.

'When we gathered them together to present them to her, we didn't have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead, we had page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears,' Karas wrote on her Facebook page."

When the plane landed, a couple of passengers asked for a moment of silence for Omar and the grandmother agreed to that.

When the moment of silence ended, people gathered their things to leave the plane.

However, everyone on board stopped and wished the grandmother well and offered condolences. Some people touched her hand, or hugged her, or cried with her. Not one person complained about the extra time it took getting off the plane because of this.

I confess I have shed a few tears over the Orlando massacre and all those victims. This story also made me shed tears, but happy ones, in gratification for the beautiful humanity on that JetBlue flight - that wonderful planeload of helpers.


The Woman Who Was The Voice Of Judy Jetson And Penelope Pitstop Has Died

Janet Waldo with a drawing of her character
Judy Jetson. Waldo died this week at the age of 96.  
Remember "The Jetsons"?

The futuristic cartoon from the 1960s featured a family living way off in the future, and it included the perky teenage Judy Jetson.

She was the one with the gravity-defying ponytail who always seemed to be gushing about the hot guys at school. You know, hunks like Buddy Blastoff, Larry Luner and Ricky Rocket.

Judy Jetson's voice was so gushy and like wow you practically went into a diabetic coma listening to her.

The reason I bring all this up is, sadly, the voice of Judy Jetson, Janet Waldo, has passed away at the age of 96. 

She was an iconic voice of other young women and teenagers in mid to late 20th century cartoons, including the voice of Josie in "Josie And the Pussy Cats."

She was also the voice of Penelope Pitstop. You remember her. That perky voice again, this time with a southern accent. "Heyelp!, Heyelp!"

RIP to an icon of 1960s cartoons.

Here's Judy Jetson, going gaga over boys on The Jetsons:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dogs Not Allowed At New Jersey Dog Park

Up until a few days ago, dogs were not allowed
at a new dog park in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.  
The community of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey finally has a new dog park where pups and their owners could run and play and fetch balls and such.

Or maybe not.

The dog park is built and ready to be used, but dogs are not allowed in, thanks to quirks in the town's ordinances.

The dog park is within the larger Hershfield Park, and nobody realized until after the dog park was built that dogs aren't allowed in Hershfield Park, according to NorthJersey.com

The only way to get to the dog park is to go through Hershfield Park, so unless you drop dogs from helicopters into the dog park, Fido can't go to said park.

Pompton Lakes is going to have to change its town bylaws, so that you can take a dog on a leash through Hershfield Park, then led the pups run free once their inside the dog park

But for now, technically, at least, no dogs are allowed in the dog park.  But the town has gotten rid of the "No Dogs  Allowed" signs and Pompton Lakes cops are now looking the other way when dogs enter the park on a leash.


13-Year-Old Standup Comic Piles On Donald Trump, Too

Stand up comedian Lori Mae Hernandez, 13, told one hell
 of a zinger Donald Trump joke on "America's Got Talent."  
I just can't resist picking on the odious Donald Trump.

Apparently, a lot of other people think the same way.

Last night, Lori Mae Hernandez, 13, brought her stand up comic act to America's Got Talent.

Here's her act, with the Trump punchline at the end.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Was Orlando Shooter A Self-Loathing Gay Man?

Was Omar Mateen, responsible for the Orlando
nightclub massacre, secretlu a self-loathing gay man?  
I know the following seems trivial, in the midst of the enormous tragedy of the Orlando nightclub shooting that claimed 49 lives, but it's not.

Turns out it's possible that Omar Mateen, that mass murderer, who targeted members of the LGBT community at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, could have been a self-loathing gay man.

This is all speculation, of course. In the days after these all-too common mass shootings, rumors and false impressions swirl like ugly soot from a wildfire.

But if Mateeen was secretly gay, the Orlando shooting is an extreme manifestation of what happens when society, or religion, or your parents tell you that being gay is evil, and yet you are gay.

I confess my gaydar went off when I first saw photos of the evil Mateen. The way he posed with his head tilted just so in some of his selfies, the way his features set in his face, made me somehow suspect it.

We first heard Sunday that Mateen's father his son't terrible violence was triggered when he saw two men kissing a couple months back, which totally angered Mateen.

Now we learn, according to some published reports anyway, that Mateen had been seen in Pulse occasionally for the past three years. 

He'd get very drunk and often was kicked out because of it.

Reports said he also communicated with at least one man through a gay dating app.

The Daily Beast reported that Mateen was once friends with a drag queen and several gay people.

None of this proves Mateen was gay, of course, but this does represent some circumstantial evidence.

There were apparently a lot of motivations behind Mateen's actions. Loyalty to radical Islamic terrorists. Mental instability. A propensity toward violence.

However, if Mateen was a closeted gay man, the shooting was the worst representation yet of how a closeted queer has done real harm to the LGBT community.

I'm sure past violence against the LGBT community was sometimes perpetrated by self-loathing closeted gay people.

Then there are the politicians. Check out The Advocate's rogue's list of anti-gay politicians who turned out to be gay themselves. They harmed the gay community with their bigoted policies as a cover to keep their political ambitions alive, apparently.

I have my suspicions about some other rabidly anti-gay Americans who are causing harm, too.

There's "Christian" pastor Steven Anderson, who yesterday said the Orlando massacre was "good news" because "homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts." Yeah, and I think you're one of them, Steven!

Then there's Theodore Shoebat, who's kill-the-gays videos are a hit on YouTube. I wonder about him, too.

Extreme right wingers and very conservative religious types love to spout off on how "evil" homosexuality is.

They've shamed countless gay people into the closet, into hating themselves.  Some of this bigotry over the years, decades and centuries has contributed to the kind of violence that we saw in Orlando Sunday.

Every once in awhile, a shamed, closeted gay person will lash out. Tragically.

Words matter, and to an extent anti-gay bigots have blood on their hands.

Some people have blonde hair. Some people have brown eyes. Some people are gay. It's that simple.

If you ever hear of or know someone who is LGBT and is being told he or she disgusting, wrong and is not worth anything, tell them the truth.  That they are valuable human beings.

I said words matter. Anti-gay bigotry matters.

Even more so, kindness, respect, truth and support matters. A lot.

If you love and respect and embrace members of the LGBT community, you might literally be saving lives.


Monday, June 13, 2016

A TV News Anchor Almost Threw Rock Through Car Window For Great Reason

Denver News9 anchor at home after his on-air dog apology
as he gets help from his canine companions answering
congratulatory emails about his editorial.  
News anchor Kyle Clark, the anchor at News9, the local Denver NBC affiliate, came this close to throwing a rock through the window of somebody's Honda CRV recently.

No, Clark has not become unhinged. Nor does he lead a secret life of crime and vandalism.

But he loves dogs, and has two of them at home. On a recent, sunny, hot, 90 degree day, Clark stopped at a strip mall to run some errands.

Inside the CRV was a dog. In a swelternng hot car. He ran his errands, and came back ten minutes later and the dog was still there.  You could hear the dog crying all the way across the parking lot in that terribly hot car.

He was tempted to throw a rock through the car window, but didn't. (By the way, Florida just made it legal to break into a car to save an animal and other states are following suit.)

So he called 311, the number you call to get city services.

Clark pretty much did what the Humane Society says you should do when you see a dog trapped in a hot car. Take down the car's make, model and license number, go to nearby businesses and have them make announcements to get the owner of the car to their car and call non-emergency numbers to get help.

You probably should avoid throwing a rock through a car window unless you're desperate because you might face criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.

In Clark's case, he was on hold for five minutes with 311 before the owner of the CRV emerged from a frozen yogurt shop.

He politely cautioned the owner of the CRV not to leave dogs inside cars on hot days. They can die really fast in those conditions.  In this case the dog survived.

The person basically just laughed Clark off. There was nothing more Clark could do about the really bad dog owner. I personally still worry for that dog, because I'm sure the person in question just doesn't care.

Later, Clark took to the airwaves and offered a heartfelt apology. Not to the dog owner he confronted in that torrid parking lot. But to the dog that was in the CRV

"I'm sorry that your dog does not have better humans," he told the dog, on air at News9.

Here's the viral video of Clark's on-air apology to help encourage everyone to take care of their furry companions in hot weather:


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fearmongering Is Behind The Orlando Atrocity And Many Others

People outside the Pulse nightclub massacre in
Orlando today. 
Everything about the Orlando mass shooting is about fear.

Obviously, the shooter, Omar Mateen, wanted to instill fear, directly on the people who were in the Pulse nightclub, and other people in general.  

Like me. And many others, of course. Probably everybody.

Mateen targeted gay people in a gay nightclub when he killed at least 50 people and injured dozens more early this morning.

Most readers of this blog know I'm gay, and married to what I and a lot of other people know to be one of the best, kindest men on the planet.

Most people support us, love us, or like us, or at least are perfectly willing to leave me and Jeff alone and let us live our life. This is as it should be.

Not everybody likes my sexual orientation. Or Jeff's. That's perfectly fine. Nobody owes us. Nobody has to like us just because me and Jeff exist.

The vast majority of people who don't like my sexual orientation  don't bring up the subject, or ignore us, or avoid us, and go on with their lives. And they let us go on with our lives. These are not fearful people.

Unfortunately, the world is full of fearful people. They're not in the majority, obviously. But this fearful subset cannot handle anyone or anything that is not like them.  So you get what you got today in Orlando.

People outside the Pulse nightclub shooting
in Orlando early today.  
To this fearful group, anyone who  is of a different race, has a different sexual orientation, adheres to a different religion, or has differing political viewpoints than theirs is to be avoided. Killed. Wiped off the face of the Earth like the scary spider in my kitchen sink that startled me this morning.

Of course, the consequences are far, far, far greater than a spider.  And the fear creates a worldwide spider web of hate and murder.

Omar Mateen was not born hating gay people. Somebody taught him to do that.  Somebody who fancied themselves a leader, who created the fear in Mateen that led him to do what he did.

NBC News reported that two months ago, Mateen became angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami.

It triggered the fear in Mateen - that toxic stew in Mateen's head brewed for two months until he killed all those people, who were just out for a good time.

Whoever instilled the fear in Omar Mateen knows their efforts worked.

I'm not letting Mateen off the hook here. He made the decision to kill all those people in the Orlando nightclub. He's no victim.

There are others, though, who had an indirect hand in this outrage, and in every other terrorist incident I can think of -- from 9/11 to Brussels and Paris and Charleston and Oklahoma City and countless others.

There are a number of people who call themselves leaders who exploit the fear they placed in the heads of people llike Mateen.  Pump them up. Encourage the fear.

That's because these so-called leaders really don't have any real solutions to any problems. Or, they're just trying to amass power.

The way to do that is to incite fear.

Nobody makes good decisions when they're fearful. Fearful people are easily led. Or more accurately, easily led astray.

So called leaders who exploit fear know that doing so distracts the fearful from the real issue, or from the real bad stuff these "leaders" are up to.

People who exploit fear know creating scapegoats can cow the masses, and let these "leaders"  get away with whatever they're up to.

That creates a population that hates gays. Or Muslims. Or Christians. Or women. Or Jews. Remember Hitler? He was the world's greatest master at exploiting fear by targeting Jews. The greatest masters at this cause the world's greatest tragedies. Like the Holocaust.

Fifty people dead in an Orlando nightclub is horrific, but obviously not anywhere close to the level of the Holocaust.

But the same fear exploiting playbook was at work here.

Fear and anger are close cousins. Fearful animals often lash out at what makes them fearful. Terrorize a dog and it might bite you out of fear. '

People are the same way. Mateen was fearful and lashed out.

Fear and anger mestasize like cancer.  Mateen knew his actions would make people fearful and angry, and they did. I'm fearful and angry over this, because that's the natural human reaction.

But remember, like I said, fear and anger make us irrational, and I think Mateen knew that on some level.

So called leaders know this. And they'll exploit Orlando just like they exploited so many other terrorist incidents. Because that's what they do. Each outrage lets them build on others.

They'll try to whip up the population. Let's ban Muslims! The gays deserved it! Let's take people's freedoms of speech and assembly and due process away in the name of combating terrorism!

Some leaders will do this out of genuine concern for our well being and that of the nation. A smaller number of other leaders will do that to continue amassing power, and screwing the rest of us.

I'm gay, so Orlando proves that I have a target on my back. I'm fearful and angry, yes.

But please, let's all try to rise above this fear and anger, and think rationally. Yes, we need to super aggressively go after the bad guys and gals, and the people who inspire them to kill and terrorize.

Let's also escape the fear cocoon that keeps us fearful of everybody that's different from us. The best antidote to fear is knowledge.

Knowledge is power. Fear is weakeness.   Instead of hiding away from what we don't like, try to understand it. Learn about it. What makes those who are "different" from us tick.

Once we get to know these "different" people, religions, orientations and such, we still might not like them. But I bet the knowledge will make us less likely to lash out in fear.

It's everybody's responsibility to do this. The nation's and the world's top leaders must do this. You and I must do this.

I don't think we'll ever stop these terrorist tragedies. But if we rise above the fear, and embrace facts and knowledge, I bet we can reduce the number of these atrocities and the level of death and suffering.

We have to. It's our only hope.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Bretagne, 9/11 Search And Rescue Dog, Given Well-Deserved Hero's Farewell

Firefighters salute Bretagne as she entered an
animal hospital recently, as failing health forced
her humans to give her a peaceful death.  
Recently Bretagne, a 16-year old Golden Retriever who was the last known surviving search and rescue dog from the 9/11 terrorist attack, died of kidney failure at the age of 16.

Truly a national hero, Bretagne, spent ten days following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack site in New York, searching for victims.

In 2005, she performed much of the same heroics searching for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana.

I love the way the New York Times handled a story on the passing of Bretagne. The newspaper treated the event the way the New York Times typically writes stories on the deaths of important and influential people.

After retiring from search and rescue, Bretagne joined Texas Task Force 1 and Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, often demonstrating search techniques for people who wanted to learn.

She also frequently visited elementary schools to help first graders with practicing their reading skills, lending her ears to the childrens' stories.

Bretagene on the job in New York after the 9/11
terrorist attack, 2001.  
Bretagne became something of a celebrity, and last year returned to New York where she was given a well deserved stay in a posh hotel and given gifts, and donations to rescue organizations on her behalf.  

In the past couple weeks, Bretagne, now quite old, became ill and suffered from kidney failure.

She was taken to an animal hospital one last time, as it was time for the hero Bretagne to pass away. Firefighters formed an honor guard and saluted Bretagne as she went into the animal hospital.

The video of this moment is below.

The firefighters offered the same sad, grateful salute as Bretagne's flag-draped coffin was taken from the animal hospital.

Bretagne was a true American hero, and we have a lot to learn from her.  I wish more humans were like her.

RIP, Bretagne.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Oklahoma Taking Roadside Asset Seizures To A New, Chilling Level

Republican Oklahoma State Senator Kyle Loveless
wisely distrusts asset forfeitures and new devices
that read prepaid gift cards to seize those, too.  
I've always hated the idea of asset seizures, the ability of police and prosecutors to seize money and other valuables from people without first determining through the justice system whether said people are guilty.  

Oklahoma is taking it to a whole new level.

They now have card readers that can take assets from pre-paid cards, you know, those gift credit cards or those things from Walgreens or whatever that you can use to buy stuff there.

So far, they can't read regular debit or credit cards, but I'm afraid that day will come soon, since the techology seems to be there.

According to Oklahoma's News9, the devices are called Electronic Recovery and Access Devices, or ERADS. These devices read prepaid cards and allows police to seize money from the cards without getting a warrant from a judge and without filing criminal charges.

The motivation behind using ERADS is fine: Apparently, drug runners use pre-paid cards to conduct their business and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol sees ERADS as a way to thwart this activity.

But you can see how a corrupt cop and just stop people randomly and get rich quick. Who would know?

Already, people are becoming wary of driving into Oklahoma because of these ERADS. For instance, News9 said a company called Peak Power Manufacturing of Lake Park, Florida sent a letter saying it's banning its employees from travelilng to or through Oklahoma because their employees use these cards for business travel.

"We simply cannot risk seizure of our employee's and our company's assets based upon the whims of an honorable, dedicated and well-intentioned Oklahoma State Patrol Officer," company officials wrote

Not all lawmakers in Oklahoma are on board with this idea, either. News9 said State Senator Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, wants to shelve these ERADS, at least temporarily.

"So we're going to be able to tell their balance, tell their records, tell those other things without a warrant, without charges, and without an arrest and without a conviction. That's un-American," Loveless said.

Asset forfeiture has become big business for police agencies. For example, in Oklahoma, law enforcement agencies can keep all of what they take. In the fourteen years ending in 2014, Oklahoma got almost $99 million from seizing cash or selling off seized property, ThinkProgress reports. 

Loveless, the Oklahoma state lawmaker, says he doesn't like asset forfeiture at all, whether its from prepaid cards or other sources.

"We've see single mom's stuff be taken, a cancer survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being taken.....We've seen innocent people's stuff being taken. We've seen where the money goes and how it's misspent."

It's true people can appeal to get their assets back. But its hard. Largely because the burden of proof is on the victim of the asset forfeiture to prove the stuff is theirs. Whcih is hard.

A lot of the people who have their assets seized are innocent. In five years ending in 2015, Oklahoma seized about $6 million from motorists along Interstate 40 in Oklahoma, and $4 million of that was taken from people who were never charged with a crime.

As I noted last year, in 2014 U.S. Attorneys sized $4.5 billion in assets, more than burglars reportedly took from victims that year.

Asset forfeiture reduces public confidence in law enforcement. It seems outside the rule of law, and it smells of corruption. As I also said last year, we don't need more mistrust in our instititions.

So let's make asset forfeiture harder, not easier, like with the ERADs Oklahoma is using.