THE DOCTOR IS IN - Democratic leaders from the President on down are wrongfully blaming Paul Pelosi's dreadful assault (he appears to be recovering, thankfully!) on "those MAGA Republicans",
and too many Republican media sites are focusing on Nancy Pelosi's political and financial gains at the expense of law and order.
David DePape, the assaulter, was a mentally-ill individual with ties to a pro-nudist movement who thought he was Jesus, says his ex-life partner Oxane Taub.
We could make this crime all about conspiracy theories and Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Elon Musk and about the Pelosis themselves...but we'd be wildly missing the point on what really happened, and the bottom line.
The upcoming mid-term elections are becoming focused on as much the issues of law and order, and fixing the mental illness-related homelessness crises, affecting our nation as much as any others.
That this political reality has political implications cannot be denied. The George Floyd incident was very real, but contrary to the political haymakers the entire nation was incensed (both conservatives and liberals) and focused on police brutality...so there was no need to shame and blame all police officers.
And it's 2022, not 2020--we're no longer in the deepest, darkest throes of a pandemic (not resolved, to be sure, but still a different world), so in the modern light of day the "COVID-Crazy Era" no longer applies.
"Defund the Police"? Well, to many Americans (moderate and traditional liberal Californians and Angelenos included), that meant disaster for fixing rising crime and mental illness/homelessness crises.
Even President Biden, at his last State of the Union speech, proclaimed we needed to NOT defund the police, but fund the police to restore safety and trust in police officers, although his highest budgetary priorities so far don't appear to sufficiently support that sentiment.
And police officers are responding the same way that Black Lives Matter would be expected to respond: don't blame US as a group, and stop broad-brushing all of US when a few of us go astray.
Do you blame them...isn't the painting of all members of a race, religion, and profession simple bigotry of some sort or another?
So now the focus, is on Paul Pelosi--as with George Floyd, it happened in San Francisco but residents in cities and states all over the nation are wondering when it will THEIR turn to be attacked by some crazy guy with a hammer.
The homeless issue is now coming (if it hasn't already) to a neighborhood near YOU, even if you live in an upscale home or development, right?
Blaming all black people for crime?
Blaming all police for racism and harassment of civilians?
Blaming all violent attacks by mentally ill and/or homeless on all people with major psychiatric impairment and/or who are currently living on the street?
But if we get past the arguments of "Nancy Pelosi milked the Defund the Police movement and the George Floyd incident for political gain!", and the "Trump and the GOP/MAGA movement are milking the Paul Pelosi incident for political gain!" then maybe, just maybe, we can come up with some solutions.
Even if those incidents were and are being milked for political gain, because we need answers:
1) The mayoral race between developer Rick Caruso and House Rep. Karen Bass) is shaping up to one where crime, homelessness, and mental illness are front and center.
Let's not confuse county and city politics, but the San Francisco County D.A. just got recalled, and the same almost just happened to L.A. County D.A. Gascón.
Both L.A. City mayoral candidates Caruso and Bass want more cops and gang intervention workers, but Caruso wants more police officers (11,000) while Bass wants to keep the 9,700 officers currently alloted by hiring more civilian workers to free officers and return them to patrol duties.
Caruso has the support of former police chiefs Bratton and Beck, and former L.A. County sheriff McDonnell, as well as the L.A. Police Protective League, while Bass has the endorsement of Democratic stalwarts all the way up to President Biden.
So if law and order, removing the homeless off the streets, and keeping mentally ill people treated and also off the streets, are topmost issues to many voters then it does appear Caruso will have that sentiment in his favor.
Some tough realities that many, but not enough of us, must confront include:
1) The same realities prior to "Three Strikes and You're Out" still exist as much as ever--career criminals are just that. The policies of many large cities to end bail, allowing brazen theft and home break-ins to go unpunished, and emptying jails as a way to address overcrowding have not ended well politically.
Because encouraging crime and not de-incentivizing criminal behavior has never engendered support from any community or ethnicity worried about safety. Sowing the seeds of racial or economic division can't continue and it appears that the upcoming November 2022 may reflect that.
2) If two-thirds of those with serious mental illness are at risk of a relapse, then the need for continuous and even permanent monitoring for compliance with medication usage, individual behavior, and supervision will force us to consider halfway homes (or even hospitals) that are NOT voluntary.
Because allowing someone who is clearly not in control of their actions, and is a harm to themselves or others, to choose treatment (or to choose no treatment) makes no common sense to anyone. If any person with mental illness have behavior and blood levels of psychiatric medications are normal, then they effectively are mentally ill no longer, and should be treated accordingly.
But those choosing no treatment and who exhibit (or have evidence of) dangerous behavior should not be allowed to be a threat to the rest of us. We have a right to choose as well, and at the very least the requirement of mandatory evaluations for the diagnosed mentally ill are not in conflict with either modern science or civilized standards.
3) Social workers are critical to a mega-stressed out society...but anyone who knows how dangerous it is for a police officer to respond to a domestic argument would not question the need for a social worker to have armed escort.
As in armed police escort.
Hence our need for more police officers will NOT go away, and there is no evidence that any ethnic or lower economic subset of America think otherwise.
Sooner or later, the need to have the measures or messages of potential police enforcement to the mentally ill, the drug addicts, and even to homeless thwarting and violating health/safety and vagrancy laws, will be a MUST.
And it's neither racist nor kind to do otherwise.
Paul Pelosi will physically recover, but it's doubtful he will recover psychologically. He was horribly violated and his life was in serious jeopardy.
And we're terrified if we're next, particularly when we don't live in rich, protected neighborhoods.
And if local government do not do their job to represent and protect us, as we require in the City of the Angels, and we allow them to enter or remain in office, then WE are guilty of a crime.
And maybe WE are suffering from some sort of mental illness to boot.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to a wonderful wife and two cherished children. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two 9-year- stints as a Board member and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)