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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

| Opinion | 12 hours ago

By Dale Paule

The way Mister Rogers saw things in his neighborhood made him a hit on television, and for good reason, because his philosophy was of the basically classic, “Do Unto Others…” and there’s nothing wrong with that. That is, if those “others” do the same.

To be honest, I think most people really do believe this because when it happens, well, the result is “bingo,” you have, “a beautiful day in the neighborhood!”  But for some reason, some neighborhoods always seem to inherit that one person, the one who was the eldest child in the family (you know the one I mean), that one that just has to take control over everything and everybody.

And when you think about it, pretty much the same thing happens on a much larger scale in neighborhoods all over the world.

Politicians try, and succeed, to make the problems of the world as complicated as possible, and suggest that only they have the solutions to get us through each inevitable crisis. In reality, many of the world’s “big” problems are no more complicated than those we experience every day in our own neighborhoods. Let’s imagine, as an example, a typical American neighborhood; one that’s been around long enough to have established a friendly relationship among its inhabitants. Then, one day a new family moves in and it’s happy folks cheerfully welcome the newcomer to the “Beautiful Neighborhood.”

Sounds corny, doesn’t it — like one of those old black and white “feel-good” movies? Well, unfortunately, judging by the standards set in some parts of our present society, such behavior has long gone out of style; way out of style!

And the reason is because that newcomer who was so happily and cordially welcomed into the neighborhood has decided suddenly they don’t approve of certain things their neighbors do or say. Things like the colors they choose to paint their houses, or they water their lawn too often, or in the winter they used their fireplace for burning wood, and the smoke adds to the “climate change crisis!”
The list of grievances goes on and some even dare to complain about hearing their neighbors wishing each other “Merry Christmas.” Oh, the humanity! And God forbid they put up those glaring, gaudy lights on their houses that actually spell it out where anyone can see it; and I won’t even go into their reaction to the Easter Bunny.

The next thing found offensive was when the newcomer’s children tearfully informed their parents that their new school was “forcing” them to pledge allegiance to the flag.

By this time, open hostility blankets the neighborhood.  Then election time comes around and gives the newcomers an even bigger reason to be offended: signs supporting a favorite political candidate being openly displayed on front lawns everywhere, and then, in an act of outrageous political blasphemy, signs supporting, “TRUMP” began springing up!  That was the last straw for the newcomers; that meant WAR!

The neighborhood began receiving hate letters from organizations they’d never heard of, and attorneys from all over added their threat letters to the pile; all with the same command: “cease and desist.”

Tensions rose as professional protesters were bussed in and flooded the neighborhood, loudly picketing their now bewildered, and definitely no longer “Beautiful Neighborhood!”

Well, no need to go on; we’ve all been reading about and watching similar events for a long time now.  So far, it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down, and in fact, if anything, it’s spreading to the remaining few untouched neighborhoods. Maybe yours?

All we can do now is hope that sooner or later common sense will return and bring back those, “Beautiful days in the neighborhood.”

And what, you ask, does Mr. Rogers think of it all? It’s hard to say; Mr. Rogers doesn’t live here anymore!

Talking to My Daughter About War and ‘Megafires’

| Opinion | January 17, 2020

By John L. Micek

We were on the way to ballet rehearsal. It’s my favorite 30 minutes of the day. It’s a chance to break away from work, and to touch base with my only child. She’s 14 now. And it won’t be long before she’s driving herself. I treasure these moments.

“So,” I asked her. “How was school today?”

“We were arguing about whether we’re more likely to die from World War III or climate change,” she said.

Her response stopped me cold, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

With the dogs of war straining at the leash, the missiles flying in Iran, and our bellicose and unstable commander-in-chief lurching from one scarcely believable justification to the next, the prospect of another American forever war on the other side of the globe didn’t seem all that far-fetched.

First up, I disabused her of the notion that any of her classmates might be drafted, reassuring her that there was no such movement afoot on Capitol Hill. Nor would there likely ever be one. The American military remains an all-volunteer force comprised not of the nation’s elite, but of the sons and daughters of Main Street America. Trump’s voters. Some of my daughter’s classmates – if they ever heed the call to serve – may well be among them.

She seemed relieved at that news. Talking to her about the threat of climate change was another matter entirely.

it seemed to me there were decades remaining before the Earth might ever be rendered uninhabitable because of climate change, I offered. Which didn’t mean that we shouldn’t do all we can right now, I added.

“But Australia is burning,” she countered, her brown eyes wide with alarm, anger creeping into the edges of her voice.

She had me there. I’d seen the photos of scorched koalas and dead kangaroos. The endless walls of flame. It’s difficult to find the words to describe the scale, and the scope, of the ecological and human catastrophe that’s unfolding on the other side of the world.

As of this writing, NPR was reporting that a hellish “megafire” comprising an unfathomable 1.5 million acres, an area three times larger than any known brush fire in California, had taken shape in New South Wales and Victoria, the country’s most populous states.

That’s on top of the 135 bushfires in southeastern Australia that have left at least 26 people dead, killed more than 1 billion animals and damaged or destroyed nearly 3,000 homes.

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman observed that, in a more rational time, the fires, which have been partially a result of climate change, “would have represented a turning point.”

“After all, it’s exactly the kind of catastrophe climate scientists long warned us to expect if we didn’t take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions,” he wrote. “In fact, a 2008 report commissioned by the Australian government predicted that global warming would cause the nation’s fire seasons to begin earlier, end later, and be more intense – starting around 2020.”

And all this got me to thinking about the world that we’re bequeathing to my daughter and her classmates.

While much is better about the planet, there’s still much to be concerned about. And the threat of an uninhabitable globe should lead us to a united search for solutions, not juvenile taunts hurled at a teenager by one of the most powerful people on Earth. Even one dead child in an elementary school classroom should motivate us to find ways to reduce violence, not watch hopelessly as more bodies pile up.

I’m still firm in my belief that it’s not too late for us to shrug off all that divides us, and to work together to fight these existential threats.

But that means having a nation that engages with the global community not denigrates it; one that rejects the false choice that less gun violence somehow means fewer rights; and one that doesn’t stare each over the trenches, each irrevocably convinced that its way is the only way.

My daughter – and all our children – deserve far better answers than the ones we’ve been giving them.

Copyright 2020 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

An award-winning political journalist, John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at jmicek@penncapital-star.com and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.

Letters to the Editor

| Opinion | January 16, 2020

Letter to the Editor: “Opportunist”

Steve Knight could not beat Katie Hill. He was not going to run against her in 2020, because he knew he could not win.

Then when she resigned, he entered the race. He is just going to split the Republican vote and we will end up with another liberal Democrat.

Steve, please take this opportunity to drop out of the race, and support a hard working fellow veteran Mike Garcia. Who was not afraid of Katie Hill.

-D. Osorio

RE: Write-In Campaign for Katie Hill

How foolish letter writer Denise Larson is. She “actually” feels sorry for Katie Hill and wants her to run again in March. Ms. Hill left Congress because she was afraid of an upcoming ethics investigation. What was she hiding? No one kicked her out. She took off and blamed everyone but herself for her lies and mistakes. She was to immature for Congress (most Democrats are). Her “proudest” moment was when she unfairly voted for the phony impeachment of President Trump based on 100% no good reason. Don’t any one feel sorry for Ms. Hill. She only has herself to blame.
-Lynda

 

RE: Alan Ferdman’s Column on Homelessness

Dear Editor

Thank you to Alan Ferdman for his opinion article January 10th clarifying the Homeless problem we face.

Indeed our community, as well as the County and State, are challenged as this will continue to be an ongoing problem. How we go about handling it starts at the local level from citizens who contribute ideas and solutions to legislators guarding the funding purse strings.

Congratulations on the City bringing together a Homelessness Task Force, but I agree with Mr. Ferdman, this group must be open to all those who want to contribute and understand how and where taxpayer money will be spent.

The City response beneath his article that “…reporters do attend Task Force meetings and frequently report on what happens for public education” is inadequate.

Homelessness Task Force meetings organized by the City Council should be posted with agenda, open to the public, with questions allowed by anyone willing to contribute solutions to this ongoing problem.

We are fortunate to have citizens in Santa Clarita who scrutinize difficult problems, and therefore should be given the opportunity to work hand-in-hand to solve this social challenge.

Meeting behind closed doors might only stagnate finding solutions.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D

 

 

Our Greatest Challenge

| Opinion | January 16, 2020

We are now facing the greatest challenge of our time. If we cannot effectively solve that challenge we will have no hope to solve all the other issues of the day such as climate change, health delivery, energy, hunger, financial security or decide if our purpose is to serve government or for the government to serve us.

The greatest challenge is our failing public education system. It is evidenced by unacceptable K-12 test scores. The focus on academics has been replaced by social engineering that advocates far left philosophy. Schools are becoming places of indoctrination and not education.

Our successful charter schools are under assault by our State Legislature and California Department of Education as a result of extreme lobbying by the Teacher Unions. Private, Religious and Home Schooling will be next.

Frankly what is happening in public education is shocking. Under the guise of public health, our children are being exposed to explicit SeXXX education. Many of the states approved textbooks advocates unsafe practices usually reserved for people with alternate lifestyles. The good news is that there are good and dedicated people all over the state that are putting on programs and spreading the word about the inappropriate practices our children are being exposed to.

I just attended an event put on by two real heroes in the campaign to stop the immoral practices that are now being taught in our public schools at the direction of our legislators. The presentation was made at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills California. Gina Gleason Executive Director of “Faith and Public Policy” exposed the disgusting California State approved sex-ed curriculum and textbooks currently being used by our Public School Districts. The parents and grandparents in the packed house were appalled, disgusted and in search for answers.

Next up to the lectern was Executive Director of the Capitol Resource Institute, Karen England. She explained the Opt-Out program they have been promoting together and on their organization’s websites. Forms are available on their websites that parents can fill out and present to their children’s school’s principle requesting that their children be removed from the offending classes.

The efforts and organization of these two exceptional advocates, Gina Gleason and Karen England are both impressive and effective. The problem is that there are still too few parents who understand what their children are being exposed to in our public schools. I suggest you check out their websites, www.faithandpublicpolicy.org/ and https://capitolresource.org/.

The unedited video from the presentation can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4RzzGFXKUI. You owe it to yourself to be informed.
The speakers graciously allowed another organization which is near and dear to my heart to be present at their remarkable event, California School Choice. We are an advocacy group promoting a state initiative that will allow parents using State funds to take their K-12 children out of their current indoctrinating school and enroll them in the public, charter, private or religious school of their choice that better reflects their values and their children’s academic requirements. The free market will ensure higher performance and lower costs.

On Saturday, January 25th in support of National School Choice Week, we will be hosting an informative event at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital 1812 Verdugo Blvd, Glendale, CA 91208. Program begins at 10 AM in the community room. Guest speakers will include Rebecca Friedrichs author of “Standing up to Goliath,” Gina Gleason, Vicki Alger of the Independent Institute, Larry Sand of the Teacher’s Empowerment Network and Michael Alexander President of California School Choice. You can register at www.CaliforniaSchoolChoice.org/nscw or you may call (626) 792-1772.

Michael Corleone Could Teach Trump a Lesson about Iran

| Opinion | January 16, 2020

By Dick Polman

Before Donald Trump began to slur his words and concoct fake verbs like “tolerize,” he declared on Wednesday that “as long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon…Their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We’ll never let that happen.”

Great. If that’s what he wants, perhaps he’d take a deal that among other things compelled Iran to cut its uranium-enriching centrifuges by nearly 75 percent until the late 2020s and submit to ongoing international inspections.

Oh wait! Those were the terms of the historic nuclear deal that Trump tore up two years ago because it had one fundamental problem: It was a signature achievement for Barack Obama. So of course it had to go.

Obama had embraced the credo best expressed in Godfather II by Michael Corleone: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” If Trump was not a husk of a human ruled by petty pique, he would understand the wisdom of entrapping a foe via international engagement. But because he’s so hung up on Obama, and so personally weak, he had to flex what he thinks is “strength.” His disastrous decision to tear up the nuclear deal has ramped up the dangerous tensions that presently plague us.

“The logic of Tehran’s response is straightforward and utterly predictable: If the United States wants to make life difficult for Iran, its leaders will demonstrate that they can make life difficult for the United States too,” explained Stephen Walt, one of our smartest foreign affairs experts. “It wouldn’t take more than a shred of strategic thinking to anticipate Iran’s response and recognize that unilateral pressure was not going to work.”

But Trump, lacking a shred of strategic thought, apparently couldn’t fathom the possibility that Iran would refuse to knuckle under, that instead it would lash out. The result is the current tit-for-tat violence that could trigger a war.

That’s why Obama’s embrace of the Corleone credo made perfect sense. Alas, Trump’s impulsive instinct is to destroy every last vestige of Obama’s work – as evidenced Wednesday by his oft-repeated false accusation that Obama funded terrorism. Thanks to the “foolish” nuclear deal, he said, the Iranians “were given $150 billion…The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.”

In truth, the actual amount was reportedly closer to $50 billion and, contrary to Trump’s insinuation, it was not American taxpayer money. It was Iran’s money that had been frozen until the signing of the nuclear deal in 2013. Nor does Trump have any proof that the sums owed to Iran were specifically spent to manufacture the missiles Iran had launched. What he said Wednesday, in his latest attempt to smear his predecessor’s achievement, was just the usual stew of lies and bellicosity.

I was reminded of a conversation I had in 2015 with Ami Ayalon, a former director of Israel’s domestic security service. Ayalon was visiting Philadelphia, at a time when candidate Trump was attacking Obama’s nuclear deal. Ayalon told me that Trump was being foolish: “To kill the deal is to kill American leadership in the Middle East. Their assumption that we should simply reject this deal, and that we could then go back and negotiate a better deal? This is nonsense. This can only be heard from a person who does not understand anything about Iran.”

Nor, of course, does Trump understand anything about democracy. His spinners went to Capitol Hill Wednesday, ostensibly to explain why he was right to assassinate Qasem Soleimani, but mostly to tell Republican senators that they should not dissent or debate the warrior-in-chief’s decisions. Which prompted a conservative Republican senator, Utah’s Mike Lee, to blow a gasket in front of the press corps:

“(It) was probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate,” Lee complained. “I find it insulting and I find it demeaning to the Constitution of the United States. It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong.”

Leave it to Trump to shred every remnant of the Corleone credo. As evidenced Wednesday, he can’t even keep his friends close.

Copyright 2020Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com

We Asked These Council Members to Rub a Genie Lamp and These Were Their Three Wishes

| Opinion | January 16, 2020

Bob Kellar

“No. Absolutely not. I refuse to rub my rugged hands against a lamp with a grown man inside. I will say this as many times as I need to – I am not a homosexual.”

Cameron Smyth

“Three wishes? Make it one. I’m tired of being the only eye candy on this council. Please take this heavy burden off of my shoulders and add another poor handsome devil to the dais … not too handsome, of course.”

Marsha McLean

“Wow, three wishes? What do you give the girl who has everything? I have a black blazer, a blue blazer and a red blazer.”

Bill Miranda

“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity my whole life. Do you know what it’s like to grow up with the initials B.M.? I know you’re thinking, ‘Gee, his initials sure do sound like Bowel Movement.’ Yes. They do. And I’m wishing for different ones. For my second wish, I want to know how to play guitar so I have something on Cameron. Third, I want the council to host a talent show between Cameron and I, where I will cream him with a nasty guitar solo from “Through the Fire and the Flames” by Dragonforce. Then, he will be forced to hand me his gavel after he fails to rise to the occasion, because he does not know the song.”

Laurene Weste

Every weekend, I gather enough firewood to be dangerous. After packing it behind the drywall of my study, I meditate. ‘What’s a woman to do with all of this wood? Does she keep it tucked away, like a coward – or does she write all of her bad thoughts down on flash cards, bring the wood to a dirt lot off of the 14 freeway, then burn them in the night?’ I wish for these thoughts to cease.

(WARNING: Not sure who needs to hear this, but this article is a satire. You’re welcome.)

Notes from an Extreme Centrist: The Nexus Between Impeachment and the Iran Chronic…

| Opinion | January 16, 2020

By Ronnie Nathan

Both national soap operas highlight the necessity of reigning in the Imperial Presidency.  From my point of view, as serious as withholding arms from Ukraine for purely selfish reasons may be, the most significant charges against the President are illegally sabotaging Congress’ allocation of funds and refusing to comply with legally issued congressional subpoenas for witnesses and documents.  Similarly, in the case of the recent episode with Iran, killing Soleimani was a good thing. Doing it without conferring with the appropriate congressional leadership in advance and failing to have a credible explanation for why Soleimani posed an imminent threat are very serious abuses of presidential power.  In both cases, these abuses pose real dangers to our Constitutional balance of powers and system of checks and balances.

In the case of the impeachment issues, my Ever-Trumper friends’ best argument is that the House should have gone to court and allowed the 3rd branch of government, the federal judiciary, decide if withholding the Ukrainian military aid and the subpoenas issued by the House were legal and proper.  In a perfect world they are correct. In the world we live in, however, because resolving these issues in the courts takes so long, months and even years, it is effectively not an option for restraining unfettered presidential power.  We can have a new president and administration by the time the courts resolve the issue!

In the case of the Soleimani strike, this is just the latest chapter in the perennial conflict between Congress’ power to declare war and the president’s power as Commander-in-Chief.  Trump and all the presidents of both parties in modern times are correct. In the case of an imminent threat there isn’t enough time and the potential for leaks eliminating military surprise preclude the possibility of getting congressional approval before taking any military action.  But congressional approval and conferring with appropriate congressional leadership are two very different things. Certainly, in this most recent instance, congressional leadership could have been and should have been informed and included in the decision-making process, even acknowledging the President as the Decider-in-Chief.

Trump should be impeached and removed from office for illegally sabotaging Congress’ allocation of funds and refusing to comply with legally issued congressional subpoenas for witnesses and documents.  Every future president should be prevented as a result of this consequence for engaging in this unconstitutional abuse of presidential power. He won’t be, and that will change the balance of power between the branches until a future Congress acts more responsibly, if it ever does.  Congress should reassert its right to be part of the decision-making process before we launch our military against an adversary. That was the clear intent of our Founders. It hasn’t because too many politicians from both parties are afraid of taking potentially unpopular difficult votes.  But that’s their job!

In both cases, this is a deeply CONSERVATIVE position and it is profoundly ironic that the party once associated with conservative principles now trumpets (pun intended) the imperial presidency on steroids!

The Other Woman

| Opinion | January 16, 2020

By Harry Parmenter

There’s another woman in the house.  And my wife isn’t happy with her. At. All.

They just aren’t on the same wavelength—literally.  My wife asks her something and she responds coolly, a studied, indifferent monotone.  She is not a good listener. She gets things wrong. It could be a memory issue or it could be intentional.

Female conflict; it’s getting ugly early.

Trying to effect rapprochement between any couple, let alone the opposing personalities in this case, is a tall order.  Churchill, Kissinger, Kirkpatrick…I bet they’d all rather negotiate peace in the Middle East than referee this relationship.

I myself have no problem with this new member of the household.  Of course, I usually just ask her to play “The Funhouse” on KHUG every Sunday afternoon, which she does without question.  Her crisp, polite timbre is comfortingly Stepford-like, giving me the warm, fuzzy feeling of being king of my castle, master of my own domain.

With my wife, however, it is war all the time.  She asks her to make a shopping list, then later goes to amend it but finds the list is wrong.  She asks her to set an alarm which fails to go off at the correct time. Frustrated, temperature rising, she asks what the h-e-double-toothpicks is wrong with her.  These inquiries fall on deaf ears, resulting in either silence, a pleasant but firm denial of responsibility or a referral to consult something somewhere else. Passive-aggressive, to say the least.

My wife seethes: Alexa is in the house.

The rise of the robots has crossed into my personal space and we are experiencing technical difficulties.  The most maddening flaw is robots don’t argue. When Alexa is put on the spot about a misstep (“Pickles were on that shopping list!”) she/it/whatever does not return fire, which we humans secretly crave.  I mean, let’s face it, a little conflict, a sharp volley of rebuke and a pair of raised voices let off steam, satisfying the inevitable pagan anger quotient. Nobody is Zen all the time. I bet even Gandhi got peeved if his dhoti popped open unexpectedly during a peace march.

Alexa cannot be rattled.  My wife can yell at her, just like I yell at the remote control, and both devices have the same placid, infuriating non-reaction.  When we lash out we NEED a response, or at least some pliant cowering. Alexa, unlike the mute remote, speaks and acts like a real person but without emotion, without retaliation.  Doubly infuriating.

Artificial intelligence has just begun to infiltrate our lives and by 2030 Alexa’s digital descendent will no doubt be able to reply with a tart, “buzz off.”  Robots will give us convenience and efficiency benefits galore, but I predict the short human fuse may get even shorter, and we will have to resort to what we do best: attack a loved one.

Meanwhile Alexa is here to stay unless someone brings the sledgehammer down.  And to think she was a Christmas present.

Another woman in the house; never a good idea.

Always Advocating Alan: Fixing the Homelessness Problem, and How Much Money Will Be Enough?

| Opinion | January 16, 2020

I am again putting pen to paper to discuss homelessness in Santa Clarita and how our taxpayer dollars are being wasted. Why? Because, each week I am reading about additional tax-payer money being thrown at the problem, with no real solutions in sight. Last week I spoke of Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond supposedly passed to house the homeless in LA City; and Measure H, a county wide sales tax addition to provide $3.55 billion for homeless support services over the next 10 years.

But, the requests to spend more money just kept on coming. In an article published in the Huffington Post, dated December 6, 2019, “Governor Gavin Newsom announced a 100-day challenge program to combat homelessness. The program …. replicates a successful national model and will be done by California cities and counties.” He stated, “With a single stroke of your pen, you (Mr. President) can make a major, positive impact on homelessness right away.” Governor Newsom went on to say, «You can immediately order your Department of Housing and Urban Development to house 50,000 homeless Californians with federal housing vouchers – this, combined with critically important increases in fair market rents, can stably house a significant portion of our street homeless population faster than almost any other action you could possibly take.» This money grab must have fell on deaf ears, because on January 9, 2020, AFP reported, “California Governor Gavin Newsom is seeking $1.4 billion from (California) lawmakers to tackle the escalating homelessness crisis in his state and plans to use the money to open shelters, pay rent and provide health care.”

Yet, with all the billions planned to fix the homelessness problem it just keeps getting worse. For the first time our North Oaks community is witnessing multiple homeless individuals camping out on the Soledad Canyon Road sidewalk, just west of Whites Canyon. This issue is complex, requiring different plans and actions for those who are mentally or physically ill, chemically addicted, experiencing a temporary setback, and those who want to remain living on the street. Those differences were brought home again, when last week, I was working in my garage and spotted an elderly woman coming down our street pushing a cart. It was filled with returnable plastic bottles towering above her. When she saw me, she came over with a plastic bottle in her hand and I was under the impression she was asking if I had any I could contribute. She is apparently Asian and does not speak English. When I signaled, I did not have any, she thanked me, turned away and headed back toward her cart. I felt terrible not being able to help her, so I pulled out my wallet, took out a few dollars and called out to her. When she saw I wanted to give her money, she shook her head no, but I persisted until she accepted. She thanked me again, and I silently watched her push her cart around the corner.

Where is the help for her? She is not lazy and she seems to be doing whatever she can to survive. For that matter where is the help for those poor souls camped out on Soledad Canyon in the cold of winter? These two situations appear to be the tip of the iceberg. Homeless encampments are constantly being found in the river, and our overall homeless count is rising. If we do not identify and solve the root cause of these issues quickly, Santa Clarita can easily turn into another Santa Monica. That is why I signed off last week with the “hope someone at Santa Clarita City Hall is both listening and willing to take action.”

Well, someone at City Hall did respond, but unfortunately, they did so anonymously. I am not sure what the respondent intended to imply by calling my column an “Editorial,” but I want to dispel any misinterpretations.  Wikipedia defines an “Editorial” as “an article written by the senior editorial staff or publisher of a newspaper.” Typically, a newspaper’s editorial board evaluates which issues are important for their readership to know the newspaper’s opinion.

Therefore, in the interest of accuracy, I can most assuredly say, I am not a member of the Gazette staff, and I do not collaborate on what subjects I will write about. The big hint should have been the title “OPINION” printed in large letters over my column, my being labeled as a contributor, plus the statement following my column indicating, “The Views and Opinions … are those of the writer, not necessarily those of … (the) Santa Clarita Gazette.”

Next, the respondent took exception to my assertion, “From the very beginning, our City Council did not take much interest in Measure H financial planning, and today we shuffle along without sufficient funds to handle our local homelessness problem”. For you to understand my position, let me take you back to what was reported in the LA Times in mid-2017. Measure H did not disclose a clear service, spend plan, or how the money would be spent geographically. The only information provided told of, what the money MAY be spent on, instead of what it WILL be spent on.

After passage, LA County formed a committee to determine where the money would go, and the City of Santa Clarita was not included in this decision-making process. All did not go well, and on April 17, 2017, an LA Times article titled, “So Far, They Can’t Agree” indicated, “The third of the panel’s four scheduled meetings ended last week with votes on whether to form a subcommittee to dig more deeply into …. competing interests (was) rejected,” and instead they voted to “toss the quandary back to county executives for more guidance.” “The committee, … has until May 10 to recommend a three-year budget to the Board of Supervisors.”

The problem was, “county officials … (were) asking for $615 million by the third year, nearly twice what would be raised by the new tax.” “Schwartz of Shelter Partnership …. requested for rental assistance and services (indicating) $87 million over three years was far too low.” Andy Bales, CEO, Union Rescue Mission, said “…. people living on the streets …. suffering would be relieved more quickly if half the money was given directly to organizations that already provide shelter.” Bringing KCET to the conclusion, “The money will go to the same homeless organizations that let homelessness get out of hand.”

So, during all the confusion what did the City of Santa Clarita do? The Signal reported on April 14, 2017, the first “Ad Hoc” Homelessness Committee Meeting had been set up by City Councilmembers Smyth and McLean.  As an “Ad Hoc” committee, the meetings would not be publicly noticed and there would be no minutes published. Twenty people representing the Sheriff Department, Bridge to Home, Domestic Violence Center, People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and Family Promise were in attendance. (KHTS April 14, 2017) Some very interesting quotes came out of the meeting. Councilmember McLean assured us, “You voted for it, you’re paying for it, the money is coming back to the community.” Katie Hill said, “We are committed to making sure you’re getting that money. If you want it, I promise you you’ll be able to get it.” Laurie Ender said, “If our taxpayers locally are paying into that, they should see the benefit of it. The county is going to do well with Santa Clarita tax money.” Finally Councilmember Smyth stated, “This will be the first of many meetings and hopes to include faith groups in the conversation on homelessness. He said he plans to host an open Measure H workshop in the future.”

So, it is now two and one half years later and based on the statements of our elected leaders, it is hard for me to become ecstatic or supportive when SCV taxpayers have paid in north of $14 million per Measure H, and has received back grants of a mere $425 thousand. Plus, with our city spending $50 thousand on a 3-year action plan, $75 thousand for a part time homeless coordinator and $300 thousand to research and acquire property for Family Promise SCV to operate and provide transitional housing units for their clients, it all sounds like future planning, with no Measure H money being used for the immediate direct benefit of homeless individuals.

Lastly, the respondent stated, “Many other cities in this county are facing public backlash,” but “the opposite is true here in Santa Clarita.” This sounds like a wake-up call for us to bring this issue to our City Council loudly and often.

Yet irrespective of everything said, I am willing to listen and am offering “the anonymous city spokesperson” a spot on the Canyon Country Advisory Committee agenda to explain why we should be optimistic about the City’s homelessness plans and actions.

All the spokesperson needs to do, is give me a call.

Letter to the Editor: Bill Reynolds

| Opinion | January 15, 2020

Embellisher Knight
It seems that every time I see another post on Face Book by Steve Knight he’s bragging that he’s the only candidate that can “hit the ground running” in Washington D.C. upon election to Congress. However, every 25th District Veteran and every influential citizen, including my numerous friends and neighbors I’ve spoken to have told me this past year it’s simply shameful that Knight hit the ground “doing the slow walk” during his last election campaign. It’s true. By all accounts Knight’s poor effort was analogous to Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. His passion to campaign effectively was missing in action hence he was pounded by a far left rookie who faked her way into Congress. It turns out, Katie Hill was utterly unqualified and completely out of her element which came to the forefront with her outrageous unethical lewd conduct sending her into early resignation. What a major embarrassment for Steve Knight and our GOP, let alone the Democrat party.

Hitting the Ground Running
In the complete opposite to Knight’s lackluster performance we have combat Veteran, Navy fighter pilot, successful businessman, and proud family man Mike Garcia. Garcia has consistently demonstrated his strong work ethic diligently working day and night since launching his campaign early last year. Mike Garcia’s vigorous dedication has garnered him front runner status along with capturing many impressive endorsements including an endorsement from the prestigious Los Angeles GOP handedly beating out Steve Knight. Furthermore, Mike gained robust support and campaign contributions from our Veterans, private citizens and numerous influential public officer holders throughout our 25th District.

Splitting GOP Votes
In my opinion the very best Steve Knight could accomplish is taking a wrecking ball to this election and handing our Congressional seat to yet another radical left winger like he did in 2018. The honorable deed for Steve Knight is to immediately bow out and save his family’s reputation.

Bill Reynolds
Vietnam Veteran
Valencia, California

The Lord Helps the Homeless Who Help Themselves

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

by Harry Parmenter
Despite all the political handwringing about homelessness, California’s approach is to let it run amok. We have normalized abnormal behavior. The creep is insidious.

For example, within the last month I have seen in the SCV:

  • A man urinating in the middle of the day on the grass rimming the parking lot on the northwest corner of Soledad and Bouquet, a dozen feet from a bus stop. I watched this through the window as I ate lunch across the street. He was in no hurry and appeared sane.
  • A man or woman (unclear) swaddled in filthy clothes and amassing large black plastic trash bags to accompany a shopping cart of sad possessions on the sidewalk outside of Starbucks in the T.J. Maxx shopping center on Soledad. I have seen this person several times now in what appears to be his or her residence. Sanity questionable.
  • A barefoot, shirtless man crossing a Soledad crosswalk on a cold, windy day, then waiting for the light to change so he could cross the entryway to the Vons shopping center at Sand Canyon. Sane.
  • Another shirtless man, this one wearing shoes, on another cold, windy day walking briskly down the sidewalk just a block west of where I had seen the other guy, but no relation. Sane.
  • A disheveled man talking animatedly to himself in the parking lot of the Newhall Jack in the Box at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, temperature 36 degrees. Not sane.
  • A man in a worn fedora and throwback hobo clothes trudging back and forth regularly on Sand Canyon to and from Vons, carrying his provisions back to his secret resting spot somewhere south of the railroad tracks. Sane.
  • A man lying practically in the street on Sand Canyon, again, just beyond the railroad tracks, his torso sprawled across the curb onto the dirt, his legs splayed on the concrete, feet near the white line just a few feet from the road where vehicles swoop by at 35 mph and up. Beside him was the inevitable shopping cart, nearly drifting into oncoming traffic. Sanity questionable.

Only after driving by this last sad case did I call the Sheriff’s department, where the dispatcher took down the information after initial indifference, before I emphatically reiterated the guy might be hit by a car. Not that law enforcement can do much about the homeless problem; their hands are tied. Nobody is doing much about it, and even the Supreme Court punted, leaving a lower court ruling in place that struck down a law criminalizing sleeping in public places if no shelter space is available.

I know nothing about any of the people mentioned above, but I do believe they, like all of us, have made choices in life. Of course, mental illness and affordable housing are factors in many cases, but still, people make choices, including sponging off the government or one’s family or committing the unsavory acts necessary to survive on the street. Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it.

Go on YouTube and watch the local news documentary “Seattle is Dying.” This is the future of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and, potentially, the SCV.

Again, this is no fault of law enforcement; it is the politicians who have fostered this development by refusing to address it in the name of sanctuary and identity politics, and have bred a culture of entitlement that elevates the individual’s right above those of the collective.

My daughter has been homeless and endured degradations I don’t even want to know about. A while ago, I went searching for her in Santa Barbara, traversing the streets, shelters and multiple congregation spots of the truly great unwashed. I walked into the beautiful old Santa Barbara public library only to be greeted by an odor that made Goodwill smell like Bed Bath & Beyond. Everywhere homeless people sat or slumped, reading, pretending to read or just passed out. The only “safe place” I could find in the place was the children’s reading room downstairs.

I was going to investigate a tent city by the 101 freeway despite extreme caution from a social worker I’d met that morning. I parked off the exit ramp and slipped a pocketknife into my jeans, but was unable to find the secret entrance to the compound. A few days later in beautiful downtown Burbank, I noticed a guy with a bandana and laminated vest crossing the street just ahead of me. I initially mistook him for a city worker before noticing the machete he brandished by his side. He stepped through a hole in the fence leading down to the 134 freeway and vanished. I later learned machetes are the weapons of choice in homeless enclaves, where territorialism abounds and intruders take their lives in their hands by invading their turf. A badass government worker in Santa Barbara told me he never goes down there without armed security. Good luck with that pocketknife, Harry.

I’ve learned from my daughter and the worlds she’s entered that it’s very difficult to change a homeless person’s behavior. Yes, there are the industrious people who’ve lost their jobs or had a tough break and are forced to sleep in their car or on the street out of desperation, yet yearn to return to being a productive member of society.

The reality is, however, that the homeless population is dominated by addicts and people who simply do not want to work, do not want to be responsible, do not want to follow the rules and norms of the rest of us, as long as they can avoid a job and just get high. These are addicts who beg, borrow and steal and have no compunction about living in public spaces and being a blight on society. Shelter and housing are a start, but drug rehabilitation is the only ultimate hope for those who want to return to the real world. The Rhode Island-based treatment program seen in “Seattle is Dying” offers hope and ideas worth considering.

If we can refocus the issue, we can help those who want it and blunt the creep. Or we can continue to normalize the abnormal and watch the creep continue, closer and closer to home.

A Fresh Gesture of Concern from the Fellowship of the Furrowed Brow

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

by Dick Polman

Year three of the man-child administration was much like his first two, only more so. But before you compel yourself, for the sake of your sanity, to forget so much of what you saw and heard, perhaps you can be tempted to test your smarts on this year’s most memorable rhetorical sewage. Give it a try. Amaze your family and pets. And no peeking at the answers below!

1. Trump frequently opined about wind turbine power (although, in his words, “I never understood wind”). He decreed that wind turbine power is responsible for several terrible things. Which ones?

a) It causes cancer
b) It spews tremendous tremendous amount of fumes
c) It forces us to flush toilets 10 times
d) It shatters our old-fashioned light bulbs
e) It gives us bird graveyards

2. True or false: Trump said that “there has never been, ever before, an administration that’s been so open and transparent.”

3. Trump falsely stated (for the fourth time) that a certain someone was “born in a very wonderful place in Germany.” To whom was he referring?

a) Hitler, who was actually born in Austria
b) Melania, who was actually born in Slovenia
c) His own father, who was actually born in New York
d) Hungarian dictator Viktor Orban, who was actually born in Hungary

4. Trump, referring to the Mueller report, said: “They did a report and there was no obstruction.” But according to the Mueller report, how many times did Trump commit obstruction of justice during the Russia probe?

a) Zero times. For once, Trump was accurate.
b) Three documented times
c) Six documented times
d) Ten documented times

5. True or false: Trump flunky Devin Nunes, the California congressman, sued a Twitter account called Devin Nunes’ Cow, because Devin Nunes’ cow had “bullied” him for moving his dairy farm from California to Nebraska.

6. “Crazy Nancy and Shifty Schiff” is…

a) A new hipster rock band in Brooklyn
b) A new cartoon show pitched by Stephen Colbert
c) An improv remark from Trump at a recent rally
d) A new ice cream flavor from Ben and Jerry
e) A trending Twitter hashtag

7. Trump recently said: “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.” Who does he believe should be executed?

a) The NATO leaders who laughed at him behind his back
b) The patriotic civil servants who fed information to the Ukraine whistleblower
c) The patriotic diplomats who testified at the House impeachment hearings
d) The national security reporters who use anonymous sources
e) The Canadian broadcasters who cut his scene in “Home Alone 2”

8. Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey congressman who was elected in ’18 as a Democrat, defected to the GOP and pledged his “undying support” to Trump. When voting on House bills in 2019, how often did he undyingly support Trump?

a) 83.7 percent of the time
b) 53.7 percent of the time
c) 11.7 percent of the time

9. A judge recently ordered Trump to pay $2 million in restitution. What had he done wrong this time? Which answer is true?

a) He’d stolen money that he fund-raised for military vets and spent it on himself
b) He’d shortchanged plaintiffs in the Trump University settlement
c) He’d screwed small contractors in Atlantic City, and finally had to pay up
d) He’d failed to pay Hachette Book Group after bulk-ordering 50,000 copies of Don Jr’s “Triggered”

10. True or False: Trump will become the first impeached president to win re-election, losing the popular vote by five million but eking out an Electoral College squeaker, which he will call the greatest landslide victory since the era of ancient Rome.

ANSWERS: 1. (a,b,e) 2. True 3. (c) 4. (d) 5. True, except that Nunes moved his cows to Iowa. 6. (c) 7. (b) 8. (c) 9. (a) 10. Who the heck knows? That one’s a freebie. Happy New Year!

Copyright 2019 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com

Always Advocating Alan – Homelessness and Wondering Where All Our Money Went

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

In years past, we have been continually told about the many souls who have become homeless in California. It is becoming an increasingly difficult problem to address as the numbers increase and solutions are taken off the table by our legislators in Sacramento. In some California cities, the problem has become so acute that businesses are being forced to leave, public safety is at risk with crime on the rise, and diseases are being seen which were thought to have been eradicated long ago.

On June 4, 2019, The Guardian published an article reporting that Los Angeles has experienced a 16 percent increase in the homeless population over the past year. It went on to state, “There are now 36,000 homeless in the City of Los Angeles and nearly 59,000 across L.A. County, a 16 percent and 12 percent uptick respectively.” So, you may remember 2016, when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stated, “The voters of Los Angeles have radically reshaped our future — giving us a mandate to end street homelessness over the next decade.” The mayor had led an effort to pass Proposition HHH. “This $1.2 billion bond would more than triple L.A. city’s annual production of supportive housing and help build approximately 10,000 housing units.” Just in case you are not good at doing math in your head, the plan was to spend $120,000 per unit from Measure HHH, and the resulting units would each have to house approximately five homeless individuals for Mr. Garcetti’s predicted results to become reality. This plan was flawed from the beginning, and the only thing L.A. voters ended up with was a property tax increase.

With the passage of Measure HHH, and green bills seemingly floating out of the clouds, L.A. County could not be left behind, and their money grubbers came up with Measure H the next year. This initiative, placed on the ballot by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, when passed by a 2/3 majority vote, would be funded by a sales tax increase of “one-quarter of one cent for a period of ten years, generating approximately $350 million in annual revenues to fund a set of strategies identified by the L.A. County Homeless Initiative. These strategies aim to prevent homelessness, increase income, subsidize housing costs, provide case management and other services, increase access to affordable housing, and create a coordinated delivery system” (County of Los Angeles Public Health, Health Impact Evaluation Center).

I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to understand that adding an additional $3.55 billion over 10 years to the City of L.A.’s $1.2 billion is not going to solve the issue for L.A. County’s 47,000 (in 2017) homeless street residents either, if the resulting actions are to build $400,000 apartments. Yet the sales pitch came fast and furious. Phil Ansell, director of the county’s Homeless Initiative stated, “To put this funding in perspective, a quarter-cent sales tax would translate into an additional tax of 10 cents on the purchase of a $40 sweater, or $1 on the purchase of a $400 television.” While that does not sound like much, I calculated in March of 2017 that the Santa Clarita Valley would be contributing approximately $7.7 million a year.

Next came The Signal’s Measure H debate at College of the Canyons. Ms. Katie Hill, then Deputy CEO and Executive Director of PATH (People Helping The Homeless) spoke in favor of the initiative. Ms. Hill and Phil Ansell (L.A. Times) talked about placing 45,000 individuals into permanent housing in the first five years, which I thought was a pretty tall order and would never happen. When at the debate, I was able to raise one question: “Would the (Measure H) funding be divided geographically according to the homeless population in any given area?” Ms. Hill did not have an answer or reveal any financial information during the debate. Then came the election, and Measure H passed with 77 percent in favor.

Today, after three years of Measure HHH and two years of Measure H implementation, the homeless problem has not shrunk; instead it has grown even larger. Thankfully, the idea of just throwing money at a solution is losing its luster. Even Supervisor Barger has come to understand, “It’s not working the way we are doing it,” as he told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m going to finally say what I think needs to be done to move forward.” But it takes real guts to take the issue on, particularly when you have powerful forces pushing the other way. I believe the California Globe showed sufficient intestinal fortitude when on Dec. 28, 2019, they published an article asking the question, “Who Has Profited From The Homeless Crisis Financially and Politically?” It is an informative read that makes you think, particularly when they wrote about a “crew of self-proclaimed homeless advocates receiving six-figure salaries stemming from Ballot initiates to public donations, campaign contributions, and sweetheart deals.” To emphasize their position, they published PATH’s tax returns, which show PATH having $47.7 million in revenue in 2017 and spending $25 million — over 50 percent — on salaries.

It seems KCET had it right in 2017 when during the Measure H campaign their position was, “The money will go to the same homeless organizations that let the homelessness get out of hand.” In concept, that is precisely what is happening in Santa Clarita today, although unlike organizations such as PATH, our groups are mostly made up of local nonprofits, the majority of which operate on a shoe-string and have the best interest of our community in mind. But even with all the good intentions demonstrated by many of our local organizations, it does not change the concept, “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.”

From the very beginning, our City Council did not take much interest in Measure H financial planning, and today we shuffle along without sufficient funds to handle our local homelessness problem, while donating most of our money to the big Measure H machine to the south. When Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth brought forth the concept of a Homelessness Task Force, he implemented it in a way where attendance is limited to those organizations he has invited, the meetings are not noticed nor open to the public, and results are not published. We are currently in the situation KCET lamented, in which the meager amount of funding goes to the same “Good Old Boys and Girls” organizations, and new ideas are not sought after or welcomed.

So, while our current homeless shelter has been provided funding to operate year-round this year, it resides in temporary structures, without connection to city water or sewer system, and lacks sufficient beds to house our homeless population. This is not the fault of Bridge to Home, the folks who run the shelter. They have been working diligently with the resources available. It is time for the City of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles to step up and correct this very fixable issue.

Let’s hope someone at Santa Clarita City Hall is both listening and willing to take action.

The City Responds:

In Mr. Ferdman’s editorial “Homelessness and Wondering Where All Our Money Went,” (above)he states the “City Council did not take much interest in Measure H financial planning, and today we shuffle along without sufficient funds to handle our local homelessness problem.” The City has been and continues to participate in all County policy and planning summits since Measure H passed in 2017. Due to this partnership and participation, the City is one of only a few to acquire three Measure H grants totaling $425,000. This funding was used to develop a three-year action plan ($50,000), hire a part-time homeless coordinator for the next 12 months ($75,000), and research and acquire property for a future permanent site for Family Promise SCV to operate and provide transitional housing units for their clients ($300,000).

In addition to Measure H funding, the City has committed significant resources to this issue. Recently, the City donated two properties (valued at more than $1 million) to Bridge to Home that will house their future permanent facilities, as well as $50,000 for a project manager to expedite its completion. The City Council also granted $100,000 to help the Bridge to Home expedite its expansion to year-round services and leverage even more Measure H funding for additional services. Both of the monetary donations were given from the City’s General Fund and did not take into account additional Measure H funding directly awarded to Bridge to Home.

Santa Clarita is also one of only a few cities to have developed a task force (formed in 2018), comprised of more than 30 local service professionals, to implement the local action plan. Many positive actions have been completed by this group that will help further expand local service capacity to help those experiencing homelessness in the community. Mr. Ferdman incorrectly claims that the Task Force operates in a way that is closed off from the public. In fact, reporters do attend Task Force meetings and frequently report on what happens for public education.

Many other cities in this County are facing public backlash, impeding action. The opposite is true here in Santa Clarita, thanks to the leadership of the City Council, volunteerism of members on the local task force and overall support of this community to embrace action and change. There is much more to do, but to group this City and the positive actions being taken with county-wide generalities is simply not fact.

Letters to the Editor

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

Last week at our monthly wine and card party, all thirteen of us (one is a widow) agreed that Katie Hill got a raw deal and no support, forcing her to resign.

We would like to start a “write-in” campaign and thereby show her that lots of us care and support her. Hopefully we can figure out how to do that and be ready for the March vote.

Denise W. Larson
Agua Dulce

 

Now that Julian Castro has dropped out of the race, Elizabeth Warren is the only authentic Hispanic running for President.

Max
Valencia

 

Measure US is the most important single item on March 3, 2020 ballot for voters in the Sulphur Springs Union District. . If approved by more that 55% of the voters, the district will borrow $78,000.000, eight short years after borrowing $72,000,0000. Repayment for these bonds comes from a direct tax placed on each parcel of land in the District.

Councilman Robert (Bob) Kellar is an influential advocate for passage and placed his name on the ballot argument in favor, choosing the title “Santa Clarita City Council.”

The City Council adopted and revised their norms and procedures with restrictions on members representing individual opinions. Section 2 (B) reads “when representing their individual opinions and positions, Councilmembers should explicitly state they do not represent the City Council of the City, nor should they allow the inference that they do”.

The purpose is to avoid confusion among the electorate whether the opinion reflects that of the individual or the city council. If it reflects the opinion of the city council, the item had to be placed on the agenda for consideration, subject to noticing requirements of the Brown Act. Importantly, citizens would have had the right to attend the meeting and provide public comment.

Whether deliberate or inadvertent, Bob Kellar’s use of the title Santa Clarita City Council on the ballot argument is a violation of the council’s norm and procedures with real consequence for the eventual outcome. The imprimatur of council approval is not authorized.

The city council has a legislative committee that screens legislation and sometimes recommends that the council take a position of support or opposition.To the best of my knowledge, the city council never considered Measure US in public session

Thousands of voters in the Sulphur Springs School District who read the voter pamphlet will be deceived and mislead into believing the the Santa Clarita City Council considered this bond issue in a public session and took a position of support. Swaying voters is the intention of the measure’s consultants and advocates.

I believe the city council must remedy to this situation with a strong outreach effort to advise the voters that the neither the city not the council has taken a position of support for Measure US.This may include public outreach and a letter to the voters in the district.

There is no propitiation from Councilman Kellar that can substitute for collective city council action to address this unfortunate situation.

The council must enforce their norms and procedures if they are to mean anything. Now is time for the city council to deal with this issue and take appropriate action.

The voter pamphlets are being printed and absentee ballots will soon be in the mail. Time is of the essence.

I urge the city council to rise up to the challenge before it.

Steve Petzold
Principal Officer
The Center for Truth in School Bond Measures ID # 1408280

Notes from an Extreme Centrist – The Trump Election Foreign Policy Narrative

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

What he wanted:

My personal relationship with Kim reduced the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Pulling out of the Iran deal and my maximum pressure campaign forced Iran to negotiate a better deal and reduced their malign activities in the Middle East.
New trade deals, especially with China, produced great results.

The reality:

  • North Korea has the credibility of summits with America, is less isolated and just as close to a nuclear-armed missile that can reach America as it would have been without Trump’s bromance with Kim.
  • Iran is more dangerous and more influential in the Middle East, and America has been backed into a corner all alone, without the backing of our traditional allies, possibly on the brink of war.
  • The trade deals have produced minimal results.

Trump often brags that he is a counterpuncher, and I agree with him. But think about that for a moment. It means that our president is reactive, not proactive. It means that long-term goals and consequences fall victim to short-term, knee-jerk responses. Counterpunching, being primarily reactive, can’t produce worse results than it does in foreign policy. Combine all of that with Trump’s impulsivity, insatiable hunger for attention-grabbing histrionics, his proclivity to take everything personally, his utter contempt for our intelligence community and his hollowing out of the State Department. The result is that our national security is compromised with a real and imminent potential for all-out war.

This is most obvious in the current crisis in Iraq. Trump’s responses to Iranian aggression have been erratic. There were no consequences to the bombing of the Saudi oil field, the downing of our drone or the attacks on oil tankers. This, plus his craven abandonment of the Kurds by pulling out U.S. forces as demanded by Erdogan, sent the message that Iran can behave without consequences, so they upped the ante by having their proxies bomb installations in Iraq with U.S. forces, killing an American contractor. Trump responded exactly as Iran hoped he would. He bombed Iraqi targets as well as Syrian ones. The result? A week ago, Iraqis were protesting against Iran. Today, America is the target. The Iranian proxies left the embassy area as part of a deal that the Iraqi parliament would debate the continued presence of American troops in Iraq at the exact time ISIS is reconstituting itself in parts of Iraq. And the reactive, erratic Trump response — counterpunching substituting for strategic planning and thoughtful diplomacy — has resulted in a tit-for-tat escalation of hostilities.

According to David Ignatius, “It’s as though the Middle East has played a cruel joke on Trump. The president who wanted so badly to escape the region that he abandoned a low-cost, high-success mission in northeast Syria is now stumbling into a hugely expensive adventure against Iran. He has lurched from one ill-considered policy to the next, goaded by advisers for whom Iran seems more an obsession than a strategic target.”

What will Trump do if the Iraqi parliament tells us to leave? What will he do in response to more provocations from Iran? He is in the ironic position of sending in more troops into a potential quagmire after loudly promising to bring the troops home from fighting endless wars and after removing troops from an area where a very small number (400?) made a huge difference. And what’s the alternative? All-out war with Iran? Do we have a long-term strategy? Where will this end?

The original sin in Iraq was the GWB/Cheney/Rumsfeld unilateral invasion under the pretext of 9/11. North Korea has been a thorn in the side of every administration since Truman. I don’t have any answers for either situation. In both cases, there are certainly no easy answers, as Trump is coming to learn. At least I pray he is learning. What I do know is that we need an A-team at State, the NSC and in our intelligence community. Trump’s A-team was any other administration’s C-team and now we are down to the Trump D-team. He has hollowed out our diplomatic corps and maligned our intelligence community. We need a change. Come November, I hope we get one. And, YES — It was better and we were safer under Obama!

The Passion of Kyle Kulinski

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

by Eric Goldin

For a very long time, American political discourse from mainstream media outlets has been devoid of substantive discussion about policy and has instead been filled with unfulfilling platitudes and obnoxious tabloid drama. Many political commentators will spend an inordinate about of time analyzing how charismatic, groomed or “electable” a certain candidate for office is, but they’ll completely neglect scrutinizing their actual policy positions. These hosts have done a disservice to the public because they haven’t been informing us about the specific details of the laws and actions our governing body is trying to enact. While the vast majority of pundits don’t want to delve into deep commentary about vital subjects, there are principled and knowledgeable people out there who are willing to go much farther beyond the surface. One of them is Kyle Kulinski.

In a previous article, I wrote some harsh and immature things about Kulinski. I want to apologize to him and give a truthful explanation about who he is, what his beliefs are, and what he has accomplished during his career.

Despite having conservative family members, Kulinski had a desire to make up his own mind and come to his own conclusions. While attending Iona College, he majored in political science, graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree. During his college days, he started the YouTube channel called “Secular Talk,” where he would give his analysis of the political landscape in America. In the early days of his YouTube career, he would upload videos sporadically while he juggled attending his college classes along with his other responsibilities. In 2012, Kulinski completely dedicated himself to “Secular Talk” and made it his full-time profession. With the growth of his channel, Kulinski was able to add better production value to the show while still maintaining its independent charm. He spends a lot of time studying all the major issues so he can give a complete breakdown of everything for his audience. Kyle is very intelligent and he can dissect political policy in a very smart manner that is easy to understand. “Secular Talk” has grown immensely popular over the past decade, currently reaching over 750,000 subscribers.

Kulinski is a proud progressive liberal and he makes it clear that his show leans very heavily to the left. Kyle strongly advocates for things like a living wage, protecting Social Security, free college, getting rid of big corporate PAC money in politics, along with a plethora of other things. He doesn’t believe there’s necessarily anything wrong with having strong political positions that favor one side, as long as you explain your reasoning through specific policy details and are honest about your positions. He has been very critical of centrist political thinkers because he feels that being neutral on every issue is a fallacy. This is why Kulinski despises moderate Democrats. He has stated that moderate Democrats don’t actually care about making progress, but instead only want to advance their own political careers.
Fixing America’s healthcare system is the issue that he is the most outspoken about. Kulinski is a vehement supporter of single-payer universal healthcare. He has described the current healthcare system as a group of competing “mafias” who steal your money and don’t actually provide people good service. He wants to use his voice and influence to help fix this broken system. The fact that millions of Americans are uninsured or are greatly struggling financially because of their healthcare bills is an injustice that he desperately wants to see corrected.

Kulinski was one of the founding members of the Justice Democrats. After Donald Trump was victorious in 2016, it inspired him to take more assertive action to help liberals and progressives get through to the American people. He believed the “complacency” and “milquetoast” policies of moderate Democrats allowed Trump to swoop in and become president of the United States. He was tired of waiting for center-left liberals to do something and he helped form a group that would be a lot more aggressive in pushing the progressive agenda. In the 2018 midterms, 26 Justice Democrats won their primaries; seven of them won in the general election.

One of Kulinski’s greatest attributes is his willingness to vocally disagree on certain issues with people who share the same overall political paradigm he does. For example, he and fellow progressive Cenk Uygur strongly disagreed on the Russia-gate scandal. Uygur felt that Donald Trump colluded with Russian leaders to steal the 2016 presidential election and he believed there was enough evidence against him to make it worth going through with a full investigation. Kulinski said that even though he suspects Trump was involved in shady dealings with the Russian government, the actual tangible evidence against him was flimsy, and an investigation would only cause the leaders of Russia (especially Vladimir Putin) to perceive it as an act of aggression from the United States. The two of them had a healthy, hour-long debate about it and posted it on YouTube.

Kulinski’s style might rub people the wrong way initially. His presentation is very different from that of a mainstream broadcaster. Many hosts will put on a faux “professional” speaking voice and meander around the issues. Kulinski is brash and in-your-face. By his own admission, he swears like a sailor and he doesn’t resort to obfuscation with flowery, fancy language. He boldly speaks his mind and doesn’t care if people find him uncouth. He won’t give wishy-washy answers that try to appease everybody. He fearlessly says what he believes is right — while giving facts, statistics, data and research to back up his points. Some people might be completely turned away by his unrefined approach, but if you can look past his rough exterior, you will see an extremely passionate and bright young man who deeply cares about the biggest issues facing America and the world. “Secular Talk” is definitely worth watching, even if you highly disagree with Kulinski’s conclusions.

The War Has Actually Begun!

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

As I listened to one member after another of the Democratic leadership decry the killing of Iranian terrorist and general Soleimani, I pondered if it would be possible to magically engage Dr. Who’s TARDIS and take them back to March 23, 1775, location: St. John’s Henrico Parish Church in Richmond. Overheard speaking was none other than Patrick Henry:

“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Dear Nancy, Chuck, Adam, Bernie, Uncle Joe et al., “The war is actually begun!” After the attempted bribery of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei by President Obama, Iran has continued its terrorist activity throughout the Middle East. Reportedly, nuclear weapons and delivery systems have continued to be developed. Crowds in the streets still shouted, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Americans have been attacked and killed by Iranians and their proxies. The religion of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ruler of Iran, looks forward to a coming apocalypse. They are intolerant of all other sects. The Iranian Shiites and Iraqi Sunnis are in mortal disagreement. The shotgun romance between infidel Russia and China with Iran is one of necessity and not attraction. China needs Iran’s oil. Russia needs the instability to weaken our economic hold over them and Iran. Iran is failing internally and needs to find unity against an external enemy in order to preserve power. What are Iranian military leaders and militia doing in Iraq? Certainly not keeping the peace and preserving independence and liberty. All this, yet gentlemen and women still cry, “Peace, Peace,” but there is no Peace. Forgive them, Almighty God!

Frankly I still cannot decide whether our Democratic leadership is tragically ignorant, cynically political or profoundly anti-American in their handling of the impeachment and nearly traitorous remarks about the president and his actions. I remain hopeful that they are none of the above and are products of the media and our indoctrinating education system. I pray that they are “useful idiots” who someday may understand the harm they are doing to all of us.

We have been warned by the internationalists not to poke the bear of Iran and ignore when they attack the United States, our allies and interests (reportedly 11 attacks in Iraq during the last several months). “Surely any retaliation will engender a greater response.” That likely is true. When have they not staged public demonstrations calling for “Death to America and Death to Israel”? Under this evil theocracy, has not the West been called the “Great Satan” again and again?

Iran has proved itself to be an international terrorist state and is diligently working towards nuclear annihilation of Israel and the United States. Perhaps it is best to keep poking the bear until they make a fatal mistake — a mistake that would justify our stepping in with kinetic force and removing their nuclear program while bringing an apocalyptic end to their evil theocracy before it succeeds in its vision to end the world. At our peril we ignore the words of Patrick Henry, “The war is actually begun!”

A Glimpse of the Future – California 2040 Economy – Part two of three-part series on what California will be like in 20 years.

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

by Rob Werner

In November 2020, the media claimed the U.S. was in recession. Some key economic indicators supported this finding. However, employment rates, inflation and production had not yet suffered economic problems. It was still labeled the “Trump Recession.”

Democrats took the presidency. Reforms were initiated to help the people and stop the “Trump Recession.” The American economy continued to do well, first experiencing major problems in 2022. The media praised Democrats for delaying the disasters generated by Trump’s policies.

National programs were adopted to improve quality of life. College graduates with large debts were given financial assistance and a second chance. The federal minimum wage was raised to ensure living wages. Universal healthcare became a reality. Regulations ensured businesses met higher standards and stopped taking advantage of consumers.

All immigrants were given residential rights and privileges of citizens.

Trump’s trade policies and environmental standards were replaced with standards set by the United Nations. Our country and consumers benefited from lower-cost imports.

Inflation rose, exceeding that of the Carter administration. Unemployment constantly rose. Businesses failed to be competitive within the world market and went bankrupt. Small businesses failed to survive inflation and raising minimum wages.

To pay increased costs and ensure economic equality, inheritance, corporate and income taxes were increased. The country returned to Roosevelt’s progressive tax rate of ninety percent.

These taxes increased business failures, decreased startups, and decreased research and innovations. The government assured us that we could rely on them to spend money where needed.

The “Trump Recession” was relabeled the “Trump Depression.” People claimed it was a long-term, predictable outcome from his policies. Many argued that those who supported Trump should be banned from receiving government assistance.

Universal Healthcare

Based on Medicare, we have universal healthcare. It was the only program with insurance company support. We now have restrictions and ever-increasing delays. Many are life-threatening. There are those who claim that the government and insurance industry save money when the elderly die while waiting for treatment.

There are also complaints that the current system discourages the discovery of new medicines and treatments, and research is suppressed due to a lack of incentive.

The superrich have created offshore treatment centers.

Minimum Wage

To permanently establish a living wage, California adopted annual inflationary increases. It is not working. California’s inflation is the highest in the nation. High-paying big box stores like Costco do well, but Walmart and Target have been devastated. To survive, they utilize restocking and baggage robots. Buyers are now required to scan their purchases and return their carts or pay an extra charge.

Many restaurants have converted to eateries where food is cyber-ordered. Food is produced by machinery and routed to customer compartments in the store for pickup. Customers then have a limited time to access the compartments or the items are discarded, making room for the next customer.

Entry-level jobs are constantly being eliminated, causing a growing class of unemployed.

China

China is our major trading partner and foreign investor. With our trade imbalance and dependency, economists conclude that our economy would collapse without China’s assistance. China is the world’s leading economy. For these reasons, the United Nations and World Bank have replaced the U.S. Dollar with the Chinese People’s Currency.

Communism is considered the dominant economic system.

2019: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

| Opinion | January 9, 2020

by Dale Paule

The first full week of our brand new, made-in-the-U.S.A. year is now under our belt, and it’s time to look forward to a brighter, happier one than the one we just said goodbye to. Maybe if we took a hard look at some of the things that went wrong during those 365 roller-coaster days of 2019, we just might avoid making the same mistakes in 2020.
Let’s start by putting a few of those 2019 “issues” into three categories: good, bad and ugly!

Take the good first.

The obvious good part was Donald J. Trump and the accomplishments he’s achieved in the amazingly short period of three years, beginning with: the lowest unemployment across all segments of society in decades, if not historically, the striking down of hundreds of ridiculous, incentive-killing restrictions impeding manufacturing and research, and the successful negotiation of the beginning of a free trade agreement with the formally “untouchable” China, which, along with dismantling those many restrictions, has begun to reverse the exodus of manufacturing companies and lit a bonfire under America’s far-too-long dormant economy.

He has accomplished all this in spite of being constantly assaulted at every turn by those who are determined to un-elect President Trump by any and all means, fair or foul.

Which brings us to category two: the bad.

A prime example of this category is the Marxist-inspired radicals who are currently in charge of the Democratic Party and who are pushing their never-ending impeachment scam while giving the finger to We the People’s loud and unmistakable objections. Their parallel plan to guarantee Trump will not be re-elected is to flood the country with as many illegals as possible, while thwarting Trump’s efforts to close the border and stem the flow. This is intended to create a situation in which future elections would be wide open to illegal and fraudulently cast votes, with the end effect of eroding the American voter’s trust in our most basic right.

So, who do we have to thank for all the hard work and time spent on changing what
We the People have determined to be our wishes?

We find the answer in category three: the ugly.

While the term “ugly” is normally used to describe a physical feature, it can also
mean something depicting a feeling, as in, “He was in an ugly mood!”

However, considering the participants in our examples, you may wish to use both definitions where appropriate.

Let’s begin with the Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who allegedly calls all the political shots for her Democratic followers. While she is clearly as anxious as the rest of the Democratic Party to see Trump impeached, she is far too experienced and wise — and certainly old enough — to have not been successful in eliminating him during those three long years. “Why?” you might ask.

Because it’s obvious she’s lost all control and credibility as the leader of the Democratic Party, retaining it in name only. The true “pushers of the purge” are the members of the so-called Squad, headed by that glaring example of what a Marxist world looks like, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, or as her foul-mouthed followers refer to her, A.O.C. They have declared Pelosi too weak and too slow, so now they are calling the plays.

And dare I forget the always laughable, if not lovable, Adam “Pencil Neck” Schiff!
If anyone needs a clearer definition of the word “ugly” as it pertains to both definitions, old “PN” is the perfect example. He has lied so often and openly that he doesn’t even appear to know when he’s doing it. It’s just something that seems to come naturally to him! As Forrest Gump would put it: “Ugly is as ugly does!”

And last, but way up there with the worst of ‘em, is the Fourth Estate, or “Press.” Their role in politics is extremely critical because, while it’s the politician who makes the poison, the “Press” delivers it right to your home, both in print and on TV!

I’ve purposely left out those candidates currently running for president, because they are only seeking the power, while those discussed here already have it.

Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

Always Advocating Alan: The Roaring Twenties, Take 2020

| Opinion | January 6, 2020

I was ordering breakfast last Sunday when, after offering a “Happy New Year to all,” a very insightful and gorgeous female reminded me that we were about to enter the Roaring Twenties all over again. I was taken aback for a moment when I realized she was right. Like the first time around, the stock market is at an all-time high — my 401(k) balance is going through the roof — so I decided to consider some comparisons.

In the United States, the 1920s was called the Roaring Twenties because of “the exuberant, freewheeling culture of the decade.” It was a time when a large percentage of the population ignored the prohibitions set forth in the 18th Amendment, which made it a crime to import, manufacture, transport and purchase alcoholic beverages. This unpopular law enabled the creation of a huge black market, giving criminals a way to illegally make money, and directly brought about the rise of organized crime. Although this period has been romanticized with stories of illegal stills, fast cars outrunning the law, speakeasies and Eliot Ness’s Untouchables, the public would have been better served if a lesson had been driven home about the ineffectiveness of making laws that are not popular with a large segment of the country’s population.

 

Contrast the selling of illegal alcohol in the 20s with the illegal drug trade of today. Heaven only knows why so many Americans are hooked on illegal drugs, but the government’s “war on drugs,” which has doubled down on the failed methods of 100 years ago, has only created an even larger problem. Drug cartels are floating in greenbacks and causing death, destruction and misery on our southern border and further south. Medical professionals are, in some cases, so nervous about being prosecuted that they are making some unbelievably insensitive decisions. A couple of years ago, I visited a friend who was dying of pancreatic cancer. She had only days to live and was in great pain. Her attending physician had taken her off a morphine pump because he feared she would overdose and he would be seen as the cause of her death. Thankfully, she passed on three days later. Our elected officials are all so reluctant to alter their tack and try something new, for fear of failing to immediately solve the problem and being called out as too soft on the issue. So, the only good thing to come out of Prohibition were the advances in stock car racing and NASCAR that resulted from rumrunning and bootlegging.

In the 1920s the country experienced wealth as never before. I chuckle when I read stories of families having so much more expendable cash than in the past, they were buying store-bought clothes, radios, electrical appliances and even cars. By 1927 Henry Ford had manufactured and sold 15 million Model Ts, and Model As were entering production. It was the Golden Age of Radio, movies with sound were first released in 1923, and Gramophone Records came into being in 1925.

 

But now it is 2020, and we are experiencing the Roaring Twenties squared. What would someone from the 1920s think about an average person’s wealth today when they entered most homes and found 40-, 50- and even 60-inch television sets adorning the living room walls? Would their eyes widen even further when they discovered the family had more than one television set, and almost every new car had a radio, CD player and even possibly an MP3 player? Just imagine how unbelievable it would be to them when they witnessed your children watching a movie in the back seat of their car? Next, you could wow them with home heating and air conditioning, garbage disposals, dish washers, and please don’t let them trip on your robotic floor cleaner. But I think the most impressive thing would be how almost everyone has telephone service, via a cell phone.

Yet it even amazes me today every time Apple comes out with a new $1000 iPhone, and on the news I see images of customers lined up around the block waiting for the Apple Store to open, so they can turn over ten Benjamins for the new product.

Now I realize that at no time in human history has a society been blessed with such wealth and prosperity as the United States of America, while at the same time, the most prosperous regions of our country have a large homelessness problem. The only answer I can muster is, just like the drug addiction problem we are facing, the root cause of the problem is not being addressed, and those in charge are refusing to look for new solutions for this problem as well. The legislative segment has never solved the problem because the only solution they ever offer is to throw more money at it.

 

Suppose the legislators were to establish a Homeless Task Force to address the homeless crisis in our area. Then they would have the leader only invite participation of individuals currently involved in the issue, hold the meetings in private, and prevent any minutes or results of the meetings from being released to the public. Do you think any new solutions would be suggested? No? Well, that is precisely what is happening in Santa Clarita today, and the only people currently satisfied with the results are those whose pockets are lined and the politicians trying to sell you their talking points. Think about what you can do. As a country, a community and as individuals, we have an opportunity to make the second round of the 20s roar like never before. But it will require us to do more than throw a few dollars at solving our societal issues. Hopefully, you will get involved, attend city council meetings and legislative town halls, write to your legislators and your newspapers, speak your mind, tell the community your ideas and most importantly make sure to vote in every election for candidates who offer solutions, rather than just hot air.

 

Because it is up to us to make a difference if we expect to still be singing, “Happy days are here again, The skies above are clear again, So let’s sing a song of cheer again, Happy days are here again,” when 2030 rolls around. I am optimistic that our community and our country will figure it out and do the right thing.

 

Therefore, from myself, my wife Pam and all the Ferdman Clan, may 2020 provide you, your family and our entire community a prosperous, healthy and happy year.

Don’t Take Cyber Scammers’ Bait in 2020

| Opinion | January 4, 2020

By Tom Purcell

One of 2019’s biggest stories will be bigger in 2020: Cyber scams are on the rise.

“As people increasingly conduct business and live their lives online, more and more criminals are leveraging the internet to steal,” reports Forbes’ Stu Sjouwerman.

The dirty rotten scammers continue to evolve, too, targeting businesses, government organizations and individuals alike with increasingly sophisticated schemes.

One is ransomware – malicious software that blocks access to computers until money is paid.

Scammers also send phony “phishing” emails – often spoofing emails from big retailers – with fraudulent links or attachments that, when clicked, give scammers unfettered access to computer users’ data.

Google “ransomware attack” and you’ll see a sizable list of big companies and entire cities that have been completely shut down by scammers.
They also spoof text messages. Apparently from reputable companies, such as banks, these messages trick individuals into revealing passwords or credit card numbers.

Scammers continue to succeed with the good old telephone, too. I received a call this year from a man claiming he was from the Social Security Administration, who told me my account was blocked and he would help me reactivate it.

Aware that Social Security never makes phone calls (unless you’re having a legitimate conversation with it), I knew what the scammer was after: my full name, birthdate, address and Social Security number.
I asked him how he could sleep at night, knowing he was hurting innocent people. He cussed at me and hung up.

The greatest worry about scammers is that elderly people are especially at risk. They’re more trusting of callers from government agencies and more likely to fall for one especially mendacious tax scam.

Using phishing techniques, scammers access data on a taxpayer’s computer, then use that stolen information to file a fraudulent tax return in the taxpayer’s name and have the refund – often larger than is actually owed – deposited into the taxpayer’s actual bank account.

According to Intuit, the scammers then “contact their victims, telling them the money was mistakenly deposited into their accounts and asking them to return it.”

Many victims, fearful of the IRS, readily comply.

According to Pew Research, Americans view cybercrime as their greatest security concern. But what are government agencies doing to combat it?

Not enough.

Americans are often victimized by scammers operating from elsewhere in the world. How can the bad guys be tracked down and forced to make amends?

Nation-states are often behind sophisticated attacks on organizations. Russian-financed scammers are actively targeting our utilities, election systems and other systems.

Creating new laws and agencies to combat cybercrime is a daunting challenge. Cybersecurity bills passed by the U.S. House move slowly through the Senate. Even if the Senate passes them and the president signs them, regulators could take months to draft and implement actual policies. Scammers aren’t bogged down by such bureaucratic processes.

What it comes down to is that every individual must learn to detect and avoid cyber scams. The Department of Homeland Security has helpful info at https://www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect-cyber-tips.

Always verify that an email, text or link is legitimate before you click. Always be suspicious – because that’s the only way that cyber scams won’t be an even bigger story in the new year.

Copyright 2019 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood,” a humorous memoir available at amazon.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact Sales@cagle.com or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.

The God-Given Wisdom of Solomon

| Opinion | January 3, 2020

From the book of Kings: “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’

‘Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’”

As we look back on the past year and consider the actions of our often childish, so-called ruling elite in the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, can we say that any among them has the God-given wisdom of King Solomon? They have failed to learn the lessons of history. They have cast off the proven values and wisdom based on knowledge gained from 5000 years of Western civilization. They are the so-called leftist-progressives.

2019 has left We the People at a turning point. 2020 will be a time of choosing. We must choose between liberty and tyranny, light and dark, individual freedom and subservience to the state. Yes, even good and evil. As Mark Levin might say, “There, I said it!”

I can hear you saying, “Who am I to judge? I do not have the God-given wisdom of Solomon.” In fact, you have been given that wisdom. We have allowed the tyranny of the state and the darkness of evil to hide it from us. We have allowed the removal of the Decalogue (The Ten Commandments) from the public square, which for thousands of years provided wisdom on how to live free in a civil society. We have forgotten natural law, as referred to by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence when he wrote about our unalienable individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as coming from our Creator.

Without the wisdom of Solomon, the leftist-progressives have partnered with darkness by promoting ignorance of the Ten Commandments and natural law. With their support for late-term and postpartum abortion, they defy “Do not murder.” Programs that came out of the New Deal supporting single motherhood stand opposed to honoring mother and father. Leftist-progressives have abused “Do not bear false witness” in testimony attacking Justice Cavanaugh and President Trump. They encourage envy and coveting to justify theft from those whom they decide do not need their wealth. They have actively assaulted our individual liberties of speech, free practice of religion and self-defense through the right to keep and bear arms. The values of the leftist stand in opposition to Mosaic Law and Western civilization. If you challenge their positions and support individual rights and liberties, you become labeled as a racist, a hater and evil. They seek to silence all opposition. They revel in the dark. They do not embrace the God-given wisdom of Solomon.

It’s now 2020, and the time for choosing wisdom has come. Have you marked your door for Passover? You must judge if your candidates live The Decalogue and the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Do they support individual liberty and independence or subservience to the collective and the state? Do they seek to silence those with whom they disagree? Reject darkness and seek the God-given wisdom of Solomon in yourselves and our candidates. “Let freedom ring throughout the land!”

California’s Population Swells, but Leadership Wants More Immigration

| Opinion | January 2, 2020

By Joe Guzzardi 

The California Department of Finance announced that the state’s population fell just 40,000 people short of a historic 40 million residents. Sacramento demographers, as well as population experts nationwide, agree that California will reach a nightmarish 50 million people by mid-decade.

The easiest way to understand the effect of 50 million residents on Californians’ quality of life is to imagine 25 percent more drivers on the roads, more students in the classrooms, more housing and more patients in hospital waiting rooms.

No one disputes this frightening inevitability. The already overcrowded and housing-short San Joaquin Valley, Riverside county and San Bernardino county experienced the largest population increases, and can ill-afford yet more growth. California’s relentless and unsustainable year-after-year growth has sent residents with financial and professional options fleeing from the state. For the first time since 2010, more people moved out of the state than moved in.

Unsustainable defined: In 1900, California was home to less than 2 million people, but by 1950 the population had reached 10 million. California’s population nearly tripled in the last half of the 20th century, and its growth has been much higher than that of the rest of the United States. As the most populous state, California has 10 million more people than the second most populated state, Texas, with 29 million people.

Californians can run, but cannot hide, from the consequences of population growth. Between 2017 and 2018, 21,000 Californians moved to Idaho. The result: Boise home prices increased about 17 percent, and new subdivisions and schools were built – the same sprawl elements Californians hope to escape.

Once an eco-friendly paradise, California’s population growth has created a demand for cars that require highway construction and more housing, making environmentally sound conditions impossible. In its October newsletter, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) acknowledged California’s population crisis and its vehicle dependence, and noted that the state’s car-based transportation system has stalled efforts to curb greenhouse gases. Roughly 40 percent of California’s emissions come from cars, trucks and buses.

But SPUR naively called for more investments in passenger rail service to stop sprawl and reduce emissions. SPUR contends more efficient, more frequent rail service would let people leave their cars at home, enable a low-carbon lifestyle and, at the same time, reduce the cost of living for strapped Californians.

In a perfect world, SPUR’s call for more rail transport service would be an ideal solution. But given the colossal failure of former Gov. Jerry Brown’s bullet train – years of delays, cost overruns, lawsuits and, on all levels, staggering ineptitude – rail service expansion is a pipe dream.

Never mentioned in the establishment media or in the think tank analysis of California’s population, sprawl and environmental struggles is the immigration variable. Immigration is not mandated. And while the federal government makes immigration policy, California as the union’s largest state could use its considerable power and influence to help enforce existing immigration laws and to work toward sensible immigration reform.

Instead, Gov. Gavin Newsom and senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, as well as 90 percent of California’s U.S. representatives, are determined immigration advocates, and blind to the dramatic adverse consequences of immigration on population growth and the environment. Foreign-born California residents number more than 10.7 million, or 27 percent, of the state’s total population, and twice the national foreign-born percentage per state.

Even former Gov. Brown had a brief realization of limits to growth. In June 2015 while addressing the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board, Brown asked, “At some point, how many people can we accommodate?” Then, answering his own question, Brown added, “As we put more people with more impact on this constant natural environment, we run into certain limits.” Brown’s insightful comments fell on deaf ears.

California’s leaders can’t have it both ways. All vigorously assert themselves as pro-environment. But at the same time, their immigration advocacy stances doom the environment. Time is short. California’s leadership needs to put political correctness aside, or watch the state fall into further environmental degradation.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

A Glimpse of the Future – California 2040: Primary Education

| Opinion | January 2, 2020

Part one of three-part series on what California will be like in 20 years.

By Rob Werner 

Primary education is almost exclusively public. Homeschooling is allowed but requires a monitor to ensure that minimum social and class requirements are met, including interaction, diversity and Immersion requirements (see more below). Failures result in criminal prosecution.

Cyber classes and virtual reality training assist the process.

Following the success of the transgender elementary reading programs, others were created to ensure gender neutrality, diversity and hostility to racism, elitism and financial oppression.

Psychologists say pre-teens are the most impressionable. While friendships are primarily among their given gender, they are without prejudice regarding race, religion, sexual identity and behavior, except to the extent indoctrinated by racists, bullies and people insensitive to the rights and feelings of others. It’s the best time for children to develop sensitivity to others and gain personal experiences by participating in diversity. Their same-sex friendships provide a smoother road for immersion.

Mandatory classes in elementary school include Immersion, where kids are given the identity of another race, all forms of gender, homeless or other previously oppressed parts of society. They are required to live like that person for three months. Counselors are involved from these parts of society to teach and train students to participate and gain experiences in culture and lifestyle.

To broaden awareness, these classes include sex education, description of sexual desires and means of arousal and fulfillment. Prior to Immersion, kids are tested to determine personality traits, phobias and prejudices, which better determine which group of people they need to meld with during Immersion.

Kids are offered extra credit to participate in more than one Immersion. Friends are urged to help each other — be a real friend and join in activities to make the transition less stressful.

The program is accomplishing its goals. Unwanted pregnancies have decreased. Kids are encouraging each other to fully express themselves and recognize our diversity. Adolescents recognizing themselves as LGBT now exceed 10 percent. Psychologists stress that this is not due to sexual activity during Immersion but to honest recognition of themselves. Kids who underwent Immersion accept diversity and understand discrimination.

College Education

Public colleges are free for most people. There are limitations based on class background and family wealth.

Old admission requirement tests, the SAT and ACT, have been abandoned. They discriminated against people’s backgrounds, failed to address oppression and had a racist premise. The tests were replaced by a combination of diversity background and community value standard measurements, which include recognition of psychological values for good citizenry. Regardless of major, every student must pass the annual test. Those not in tune with diversity and our progressive society are not allowed to contaminate higher education.

The initial negative impact from abandoning performance tests were overcome by the universal insertion of new testing requirements for colleges and all licensed occupations. Professionals, executives and supervisors are required to undergo and pass similar annual diversity and psychological training programs. Employees must meet these requirements in three-year intervals.

The success of Immersion among young children led to a new required college program. Students are then subject to annual psychological testing. If they fail to meet the high standards, they are assigned a personal trainer who can require expulsion if the student does not cooperate and make progress.

The Daily Worker reports, “California does better than any other state in ensuring that this generation of college graduates will serve the people.”

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