Monthly Archives: March 2008

Your Tax Dollars Are At Work….Buying Contraceptives

Legend has it that one of the top commercial theatre producers on Broadway once joked:  “There’s no profit like non-profit.”  Taking a page out of what could easily be a Tony Award-winning script, the Los Angeles Times has reported that the former Vice President for Finance and Administration for [Un]Planned Parenthood’s Los Angeles affiliate has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, alleging that various [Un]Planned Parenthood affiliates overcharged California and the federal government by at least $180 million from the late 1990′s through 2004.

What was the alleged scam?  The Family Research Council reports that California [Un]Planned Parenthood affiliates would purchase oral contraceptives at a special discount price offered only to non-profit organizations, and then bill California’s Medi-Cal program for “up to twelve times as much as they paid.”

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times (3/8/08): “A 2004 state audit of Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties – one of nine affiliates statewide…identified more than $5.2 million in overbillings just during the 2003 fiscal year.”

To make matters more unbelievable, in 2004, [Un]Planned Parenthood complained that a lower reimbursement rate could imperil its survival (God forbid!) and lobbied Sacramento, the California state capital,  to get a law passed allowing it to continue to bill at the same usurious rates!

Just for a chuckle, I decided to take a look at tax returns (Form 990′s) for the Los Angeles chapter for the past three years to see what impact this new law has had.  According to the 2005 and 2006 Form 990s, the Los Angeles chapter has had $53 million in revenue and $12.5 million in surplus (“non-profit speak” for profit!)  That’s a 24% profit – I mean “surplus” – margin!  Holy moly!

Where is the media outrage over this story?  Leave aside the policy debate which has been effectively stifled by the anti-life forces and has allowed [Un]Planned Parenthood’s personal agenda to become de facto public policy.  How dare our lawmakers ratify and institutionalize the price-gouging and the pickpocketing of California taxpayers!  According to the Times the lawsuit was filed “under seal” in 2005, after the state legislators apparently had ratified and sanctified the alleged misbehavior of the past. 

At the very least, [Un]Planned Parenthood’s non-profit status should be seriously reviewed, based on their clear record of turning dimes into dollars.

Is “Personal Responsibility” a Four-Letter Word?

My, my, my.  My comments last week on why many men stray from their marriage vows generated more email to me than any one thing I’ve said in years.  85% of the letters I received were wonderfully appreciative and supportive of what I said.  Men and women alike “got” what I was saying and acknowledged the need for husbands and wives to share the responsibility for the health of their marriages. 

One wrote “After seeing you on The Today Show, I asked myself, ‘Am I the kind of wife my husband wants to come home to?’  I look at each day as an opportunity to honor him.  Thank you for challenging me to have the courage to change.  My husband will never go a day without knowing his wife needs, loves and respects him.”

Another person emailed me because my comments motivated her to look at her own issues with the overall concept of personal responsibility.  This young woman wrote that she was motivated by my comments to stop her methamphetamine addiction:

“I have chosen to quit.  Once you stop feeling like such a victim to some inanimate object (the pipe does not jump into your mouth on its own) you realize your power over it.”

Other folks, though, seemed absolutely apoplectic over my point of view that people need to take responsibility for their lives and their relationships. 

Clearly this is the crux of the problem in this country.  The concept of promoting personal responsibility in a society that encourages victims to stay victims and glamorizes the bad behavior of celebrities and politicians seems to be a hot button that makes some folks’ heads explode.  People tend to hold on to their anger, hurt and depression, especially if they don’t have the tools they need to break out of the cycle of personal self-destruction.

That’s why I wrote Stop Whining, Start Living.  I wrote it because I wanted to help people enjoy their lives more and be more content inside themselves.  None of us can do that if we persist in the self-defeating notion that we are victims… that only leads to complaining and not LIVING.

This book is not for people who want to embrace their problems – it’s for people who want to solve them and move on to a more productive and happy life.  If you want to feel more in control of your situations in families, neighborhoods, jobs, etc., then you first have to look inside yourself and see what YOU are doing that you shouldn’t be… or what you are NOT doing that you should be!  This is where the power to change everything comes in.

Some people won’t ever do this.  They hold on to sadness, victimhood and complaints.  But those who read Stop Whining with an open heart and mind will find the keys – through other people’s real experiences and stories – to make their life easier and more pleasurable; to improve their lives as husbands, wives, parents, and friends, and to discover the joy of being an evolved human being.

Getting letters and calls from people who have taken my advice to stop whining and turn themselves into productive members of society is all the inspiration I need to keep on keeping on.  That’s what puts the smile on my face.

Book signing tonight in Costa Mesa, California:  And if you want to see me really smile and you live in L.A. or Orange County, come on down tonight to the Barnes and Noble at the Metro Pointe Mall in Costa Mesa at 7pm.  I’ll be signing copies of the aforementioned new book, Stop Whining, Start Living for all of you who embrace your own personal responsibility.

Vermont Considers Lowering the Drinking Age

Recently, a committee of the Vermont State Senate approved Democratic Senator Hinda Miller’s bill to have a task force weigh the pros and cons of lowering the legal age of drinking, back to 18.  The logic behind this is similar to the concept of having your underage kids have sex in your home.  Parents think that “they’re going to do it anyway, so we might as well make it comfortable and convenient for them!”

On the other side, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) calls this “folly to even consider.”  They say that the higher age limit has saved thousands of lives since the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed in 1984.  The act required states to raise the drinking age to 21 or risk losing federal transportation funding.

Vermont voted to raise the age in 1985, and, according to the Vermont State Police, there’s been a 40 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities in the last 20 years.  Vermont stands to lose about $17 million per year in highway funding if they flout the Feds and lower the drinking age.

“The facts speak for themselves,” said William Goggins, Director of Education and Enforcement for the state Liquor Control Board.  “To me, saving lives is the grandest argument of all.”

Obviously, this argument is not good enough for some Democrats in Vermont.

Nanny-Cam Horrors

It’s been all over the news.  A “nanny-cam” in the home of two twin preemies showed the nanny handling the children like trash bags.  I mean, if you know it’s going to be shown on Nancy Grace’s television program, it has to be bad!

The single most important issue, however, was never addressed.  Where were their parents?  These delicate babies were in the hands of hired help and not their own parents.  Nowhere in the news pieces did anyone suggest that these parents had to work or risk being homeless.  Quite the contrary.

There are babies who have been forgotten, neglected, and abused in day-care centers.  Now, nannies are doing the same in the parents’ home.  Parents themselves are forgetting their own children in cars, which literally causes the children to be poached to death.  When will the tide turn back to parents making their children their number one priority, and moving their dual careers or owning “things” to a lower spot on their list?  Until then, more horrifying stories are sure to come.

Go To The Videotape!

About two months ago, my publisher, Harper Collins, called me up to tell me that The Today Show wanted to interview me in the 8AM hour on Tuesday, March 11, the day that my new book, Stop Whining, Start Living was going to be published.  I said, “Great!”

Last week, I did the “pre-interview” with one of their producers, and they called me back to say they wanted to have my interview go for two segments.  I said “Even better!”

Then, at 4PM on Monday, March 10, they called up and asked if I would also participate in a “panel” segment entitled “Why Men Cheat.”  I went “uh oh.”

I hate doing panels.  I hate all the talking heads shouting over each other.  And I feared they would end up asking about tabloid gossip and not the real topic, but they reaffirmed that they really wanted to hear my opinion about “Why Men Cheat.”

So, silly me, on I went.  Meredith Vieira asked the three panelists, “Why do men cheat?”  Panelist  #1 said that the legacy of promiscuous cavemen has created an evolutionary tendency toward infidelity among today’s men.   Hmmm.

Panelist #2 said something to the effect that men often cheat because they are missing something physically, mentally or emotionally in their relationship with someone.  Who might be responsible for this missing “something” was not specifically mentioned.  Hmm….could it be the wife?  The boss?  Co-workers?

So Panelist #3 (that’s me) responded:

“Men need validation.  When they come into the world they are born of women and getting their validation from mommy is the beginning of needing it from a woman.  And when the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like a hero, he’s very susceptible to the charms of some other woman making him feel what he needs.  And these days women don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how they can give a man what they need.”

Maybe I should have had a sign around my neck that said I was not talking specifically about the governor of New York’s current alleged problems with money transfers and a $5,000 an hour call-girl ring.  Certainly a man who won the governorship of the second largest state in the nation does not sound like a man who needs validation to feel like a success.  I was answering the question asked:  “Why do men cheat?”

Suddenly, the topic WAS about the New York governor.  To my utter amazement, Panelist #1 proclaimed that the New York governor’s high cheekbones and protuberant eyebrows indicated high levels of testosterone which would be a strong indicator of infidelity.

Panelist #2 said that, speaking of testosterone, highly testosteroned people tend not to worry as much about the consequences of the risks they take.  (I guess that explains the use of steroids in baseball).

Ms. Vieira then asked why a man of such power as the New York governor would risk everything to carry on a tawdry relationship.  Note: This was the first time that Ms. Vieira referred to the governor in any way in the entire segment.  Panelist #3 (that’s me!) responded:

“When a person is in a high position of power, especially a man, there is a sense of entitlement and a sense of being…above the law because of the importance of what they do -  because of the importance of who they are.”

Since that fleeting moment, I have been accused of the most heinous of crimes (apparently far worse than the foibles of politicians and celebrities):  giving my opinion and advice. According to The New York Times, Meredith Vieira was “aghast” at my comments.  In the 10 am hour, Ann Curry tried to take me to task for “things that were said about the governor.”  Wrong!  And finally the renowned News Team at The Huffington Post proclaimed “Dr. Laura Blames Spitzer’s Wife”.

In three segments over 2 hours I never made a comment about the Governor’s wife.  And my only direct comment about the Governor was that powerful men sometimes feel an unwarranted sense of entitlement.  I answered the question they asked, not the question I’ve been accused of answering.

Now here’s the good news.  Thank goodness I had bought a new outfit for the program, and I was feeling pretty good yesterday morning, or else I might have gotten a little ticked off that my words were so ludicrously taken out of context.

If you don’t believe me, feel free to go to the videotape (click here).  And don’t whine for me.  I’m having a great time in New York – good friends, good restaurants, and almost-Spring weather.

On a more serious note:  The stories that we see on the news and the Internet 24/7 indicate an epidemic of dysfunctionality in America in the relationships of the powerful, talented, and merely famous.  The sad part is it is only the tip of the iceberg in our society.  And sadder still is knowing that so many children are being hurt by these problems.

What Makes A Hero?

Two weeks ago, Sgt. Wayne Leyde won $1 million from a scratch-and-win lotto ticket.  ABC News reported that he was driving near his home in Mead, Washington when he stopped at a store by the side of the road and bought a ticket, a Coke, and beef jerky.  Using a penny lent to him by the store clerk to scratch his card, he discovered his winnings.

As a 26 year old member of the Washington National Guard who has completed two tours in Iraq, the obvious question was:  “Whaddya gonna do now?”  His answer was:  “It was a commitment I made…and I’m going to stick to it.”  He plans to return to Iraq to service with his band of brothers.

“For right now, I’m going to hold off [spending] and let reality sink back to earth.  This is a true blessing.  I’m going to turn it around and see if I can bless other people with this,” Leyde said.

A parent emailed me just the other day to tell me what her six year old said in response to overhearing her talking to her husband about how little the military is paid for their extraordinary service.  The child piped up with, “They don’t get paid, because you can’t pay people to be heroes.  They just are.”

Meet Sgt. Wayne Leyde:  an American hero.

Worse Than “Unacceptable”

The Thursday morning press conference with Senator John McCain started with him stating that the attack on the military recruiting station in Times Square was “unacceptable.”  I hear many leaders and spokespersons use that relatively limp term, “unacceptable,” and I’m sick of it.  At least President George W. Bush has called 9/11 types and actions for what they are:  evil!

There are churchgoers in Kansas who go all over the country attempting to disrupt funerals of our fallen military with disgusting signs that suggest that these children of America died because there are homosexuals among us.  There are cities like Berkeley, that spend their time changing local laws to allow protestors to interfere with local military recruiting stations, followed up by “You are not welcome” notices. 

If all those who volunteered honorably and bravely for our military decided all those folks were right, and then laid down their weapons and came home, then what?  Who would protect us against an imminent invasion by Venezuela?  North Korea?  Russia?  China?  The world-wide Muslim jihad?  Would the Kansas churchgoers protect us?  The city council of Berkeley?

I have two magnetized bumper stickers on my car.  Both are yellow ribbons.  One says “Protect our son,” and the other just says “Army.”  At the mall this past weekend, both were ripped in half and dumped on the roof of my car.  My deepest regret is that these people did not wait around to destroy my symbols of respect and motherly concern for all the troops, including my son in combat in Afghanistan, while I was there.  Trust me, just saying limply, “That is unacceptable” would not have been the action I’d have taken.

I feel sorry for all of those whose military-age sons and daughters have not volunteered for military service, but instead hook up and smoke dope in most of our quite liberal colleges and universities instead of learning the values of life and death, honor, sacrifice, courage, brother/sisterhood, and compassion.

To whomever defaced my representations of support for America’s finest, I have this to say to you:  in spite of your disgusting, ignorant, cowardly self, my son and his band of brothers would still protect you.