Failures of Democratic Revolution

| Opinion | September 19, 2019

by Rob Werner

Our country’s founders were experienced with the limited representation and common law of the British. They wanted a new system of government that would not allow the autocratic rule of kings, or the mob rule of pure democracy. Their solution was a representative government with limited powers and the retention of rights to the citizens.

Early on, without much experience with Constitutional limits of power, the government might have swung to autocratic rule had George Washington desired such power or expected and treated the position of President as a lifelong right.  Instead, the premises built into the constitution became a way of life. The document became a bible of liberty for the people.

Power in either the hands of a congress or a president can be corrupted. This corruption is not always for personal gain, often it is because of sympathy for others. Good people may forget the purpose and limitations presented in our constitution when they legislate for what they deem is the welfare of the people.

The frontiersman, Davy Crockett was a congressman. He acknowledged to a constituent that he voted for a bill for charitable purposes to assist in the suffering caused by a disaster. The government had a surplus available for the needed funds. One of his constituents pointed out this “charitable” action by Congress constituted an expenditure from all of us. Charity is a voluntary action and congressmen who have sympathies should contribute from their own pockets. The government should not have such surpluses as it has no business taking more money from the people than it needs.

Crocket acknowledged that he made a mistake in violation of the principles of the Constitution and if he made such a mistake again, invited the constituent to shoot him. The point being that without strict loyalty and adherence to the Constitution, our form of government would ultimately deteriorate into a dictatorship of the mob rule of pure democracy.

The French did not have a tradition of representative government. When they revolted against their king, they claimed they wanted to emulate America. But the result was mob rule, frequent use of the guillotine and ultimately the rule of Napoleon. Their conditioning was not for the limited power of government, but for autocratic rule.

The Russian Communist Revolution was really a coup. The Soviet Revolution was a product of progressives who wanted a representative form of government via soviets. The elected leader was not Communist. The Communists did not have the support to win an election, so they used military force to take over the soviets; Russians were used to autocratic rule and dictatorship ultimately switched from the Czar to Lenin and Stalin. The Soviet Union had a constitution, much like ours. But the government could interpret it however it wished.

On the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were elections but without a tradition of a constitutional democracy. Putin runs the government like a Russian mob boss. He is reported to be the richest man in the world.

Our country has unsuccessfully tried to export democracy. Prior to the Vietnam war, President Kennedy helped get rid of the South’s strong leader. Bush replaced Hussein in Iraq and Obama helped overthrow Gaddafi in Libya. All had disastrous results.

If America doesn’t return to the tradition of strict adherence to our constitution, we too are bound to suffer disastrous consequences.

Never Discuss Religion with Strangers

| Opinion | September 19, 2019

by Dale Paule

I was on the bus the other day when a kid about fifteen or so sitting across the aisle kept looking at me.  I could see him out of the corner of my eye and after about ten looks I returned his stare, and with as non-threatening a voice as I could muster up, asked him if there was something he wanted.

I didn’t know whether he was going to take offense at this or not, but what the hell, I’m old and didn’t think he’d see me as a threat to his adolescent standing.

I’d guessed right, because he threw me an embarrassed grin and replied,” No sir, I was just noticing you were wearing that little cross around your neck and I was wondering if you were a Catholic.” Then he added, “My Aunt Mina is one, and she wears one like that, too!”

It didn’t sound like the kid was trying to put me on, so I smiled back at him. I had all the best intentions of responding with a civil answer, but when I opened my mouth, I guess my mind just couldn’t resist funnin’ the kid a little.

With a straight face, I looked the kid straight in the eye. “No son, I’m a Septuagenarian,” I said.

As I watched the question marks pile up over the kid’s head, I knew he hadn’t a clue what I was talking about.

“Is that some new kind of religion?” he finally asked.

“No son, but it’s been around for a very long time.”  I saw his still bewildered look growing and I just couldn’t stop.

“I didn’t even know much about it myself until a few years back,” I explained. “You see, it’s just for certain people and it takes a long time to get to be one. It’s kind of like one of those fraternal organizations, like the Elks Club or the Masons; it takes a while once you join to work your way up the ladder to the next level.  In fact, I’m working my way up to my next level right now.”
I could see the kid was hoping the bus would either get to his stop or mine soon and let him get away from this crazy old guy. I had him hooked!

I continued, “The way I figure it, if things work out ok, I’ll be at the Octogenarian level before long! Then, with a little luck, in about 10 years, I’ll make it all the way to the Nonagenarian level; that ain’t so easy to do and not many make it that far!”

Just then the kid’s wish came true and the bus driver called out his stop. He stood up suddenly, faked a smile, then tossed me a “thanks” over his shoulder as he hurried for the front of the bus, and freedom.

I looked out at the kid as he stepped up onto the sidewalk. When he saw me at the window, I held up the little gold cross and gave him a thumbs up. It just made him walk faster.

I felt a little guilty about taking the kid for a ride like that, but the way I figured it, it would serve as one of his “growing up” lessons, and learning when you’re being kidded or not. He looked like a good kid though, and there wasn’t much doubt he’d grow up just fine; in fact, if he stuck around long enough, he could even end up a Nanogenarion!

Always Advocating Alan – Never Let History Repeat Itself

| Opinion | September 19, 2019

I grew up in a time when Roy Rodgers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger were heroes in each weeks’ Saturday morning matinee, on the radio and later on the television screen (in those days, it was a very small screen). It was a time when good always ended up victorious over evil, and all the kids could strap on their cap pistols to play Cowboys and Indians. There was not much talk of political correctness then, but if you read Gene’s Cowboy Code and watched the comradery between The Lone ranger and Tonto, you got the feeling you wanted to be just like them. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned about Roy and Dale’s adopting children of different origins, or why William Boyd was so adamant on never accepting another role after playing Hoppy.

Still, even then, some things confused me. Why did some Indians fight with the Cavalry, why did the Indians always circle their enemy and why did the government guys break treaties? Well, a lot of years later I was riding to Sturgis with a friend when we decided to take a shortcut and visit the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument in Montana.

When we first pulled into the monument area, I was struck by all the gravesites visible from the road. No way could that many soldiers have died with Custer I thought; and I was right. I was made aware the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument is also a part of the National Military Cemetery System, and if you take a tour of the 5,000 gravesites, you will find tributes to soldiers who died in battle starting with Little Bighorn through Vietnam. Today, the cemetery is at capacity.

When we put our kickstands down, we were fortunate to be in time to take a bus tour of the battlefield. Getting on the bus we were greeted by our tour guide, a young, tall member of the Crow tribe who joked with us about being safe even though the driver was a member of the Sioux. It was all in jest, as they were good friends.

Our first realization we were not taught the whole story in school was when we learned the battlefield was approximately six square miles. Plus, if you think you can visualize the battle from watching western movies with the Cavalry riding in on horseback with bugles blowing and sabers drawn, you are in for a surprise. Our tour guide explained that a lot of what happened was a result of how different the Cavalry and Indians were armed, fought and came to the battle.

First, the Cavalry tended to conscript men of smaller stature and use quarter horses because of all the equipment they needed to carry with them. Unlike in the movies, Cavalry columns were followed by wagons with some farm animals in tow as they needed supplies with them. Not only that, they were dressed in wool uniforms which were probably not very comfortable in the summer heat. They were armed with Springfield single shot rifles, Colt single action revolvers and the officers carried sabers. The Indians, on the other hand, traveled to the fight as a tribe. Being close to home, so to speak, they tended to pick the strongest braves and fastest horses for the fight. Although, according to our Crow tour guide, only about 25% of their braves had rifles, and a much smaller number had repeating rifles; it was their battle tactics which defeated Custer’s troops.

So, what happened? It was around 1874 when the Sioux tribe, who lived to the east of the Crow by treaty, had outhunted their territory and entered into an agreement with Washington. This allowed them to leave their reservation, enter Crow territory to hunt and then return to the Sioux reservation. But, in 1875 Sitting Bull decided to stay put. The Crow, being a much smaller tribe, were fearful of being overrun by the Sioux so they elected to aid the Cavalry because they believed “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” At the very end of 1875 President Grant sent the Sioux an ultimatum ordering them to leave Crow land within six months. In the middle of 1876, an army was sent out to enforce the president’s order, with Custer to lead a scouting party of 600 troops to determine the location of the Sioux tribe.

Custer had a huge ego, and when one of his men reported the location of the Sioux encampment he saw glory in the making. His officers wanted to scout the situation further, but he would not hear of it. Instead he devised a battle plan, dividing his troops up in three parts. The first section would attack the left flank, and he, with the second group, would attack the right flank. The third group, which included the wagons and provisions, would circle around and attack from the rear. As the fist group came into position on the left flank, soldiers counted off in groups of three, with each third soldier being assigned to hold the horses. The remaining soldiers took cover, signaled they were in position and Custer gave the command to attack. The problem was Custer had only seen a small part of the Sioux encampment. He did not realize he was attacking 18,000 Indians. Well, the first group was overwhelmed, driven back and then retreated up a hill where they dug in. The Sioux, now knowing the army was in the area, went out looking and caught Custer’s group out in the open. Custer ordered his troops to ring their position with their horses, shot them and use the bodies for cover. 2,500 Indian warriors rode circles around the Cavalry’s position, making them harder to hit and raising a lot of dust making it harder to see, all while ever tightening the circle so their primitive weaponry would be more effective. It did not take long for the combat to become hand to hand. After a soldier fired six shots from his revolver and one from his rifle there was no time to reload. At which point, Custer’s men were easily overrun and killed.

The third group of soldiers made their way to the battle and realized what was happening. They took cover up the hill with the second group. The majority survived the battle because in order for the Indians to get them they had to ride up the hill, making them easy targets for the soldier’s rifles. In the end, the Sioux rode off having won the last battle they would win in the Indian Wars to come.

While this account varies with others I have read, I tend to accept it as it is corroborated by the words of Captain George K. Sanderson, who established the first Little Bighorn memorial. He reported, “I accordingly built a mound out of cord wood, filled in the center with all the horse bones I could find on the field. In the center of the mound I dug a grave and interred all the human bones that could be found, in all, parts of four or five different bodies. This grave was then built up with wood for four feet above ground. The mound is ten feet square and about eleven feet high; is built on the highest point immediately in rear of where General Custer’s body was found.”

I tell you this story hoping you think about how yesterday’s problems and issues are very much like what we are experiencing today. We need to use what we learned to avoid winning the battle and losing the war, as the Sioux did so many years ago.

Celebrating Constitution Day

| Opinion | September 19, 2019

Tuesday, September 17th was Constitution Day. It was on that date in 1787 that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed one of the greatest legal documents known to man since Moses came down the mountain with The Ten Commandments. That world changing document advocates for liberty, individual rights, equal justice under the law and a civil society.

The signers were keenly aware about the flaws of man. Author James Madison famously wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

Today I celebrate the constitution. I am in awe of the wisdom of the men who wrote it. Recently I went and heard Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. He spoke of the importance of being an originalist and textualist. On the Saturday prior to the 17th, I celebrated Constitution Day at an all-day event put on by The Claremont Institute and the Orange County Federalist Society.

What I have been hearing from the experts at the recent events I attended was the dangers we are facing from the blurring of separation of powers. Justice Gorsuch was quick to point out that the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches are co-equal in power. Author of the Constitution, James Madison, would take issue with that analysis when he pointed out that the judicial would by necessity be the weakest, the legislative being closest to the people the strongest and the role of the executive was to simply enforce and execute the laws.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch pointed out that the executive over many years has been assuming too much power. I suggest an example would be President Obama saying he did not have authority to change immigration laws and then later illegally established DACA by presidential edict. A leftist activist judge blocked President Trump from removing Obama’s edict without being able to cite applicable law or precedent. His decision was not based on law but on feelings. The example of the judge’s decision reflects judicial overreach and the court assuming the responsibility of the legislative branch.

I believe that all honest parties recognize that the biggest problem is the legislative branches’ abdication of their responsibilities. For example, immigration policy is the province of the legislature and as of this writing they have failed to put forth any viable proposals to solve our border problems. Of course, they are quick to attack President Trump when he enforces the laws on the books. Perhaps you can have it both ways. The real problem is when the legislature cedes too much of their authority to the executive and especially to the agency’s established to execute their laws. Not nearly enough is being defined, perhaps on purpose, so the legislature can say “It’s not our fault!” Too often the various agency’s bureaucrats write the text of the laws, enforce the laws and exact penalties, thus being legislatures, prosecutors, judge and jury. They have been given the combined power of all branches of government. Worse, they never answer to “We the People” and cannot be fired.

There is hope. With the federal court appointments by the President, the mix of judges’ judicial philosophies has become much more balanced between the originalist and the social justice activist. We have already begun to see a shift in how the courts rule on balance of power issues.

Beto Was Right On Call To Confiscate Guns…Mostly

| Opinion | September 19, 2019

by John L. Micek

What if Beto O’Rourke was right?

The former Texas congressman enraged the right and netted himself something that sounded an awful lot like a death threat when he vowed during last week’s debate to ban (and apparently confiscate) AR-15s and other assault weapons favored by mass shooters.

“Hell, yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47,” the former Texas congressman said during Thursday night’s Democratic primary debate in Houston.

Critics immediately pounced. In a single, emotion-charged sentence, O’Rourke appeared to confirm the most feverish fears of the NRA and other gun-rights extremists – that the government really is coming for their guns.

“My AR-15 is ready for you, Robert Francis,” Briscoe Cain, a conservative state lawmaker from Texas, snarled on Twitter, using O’Rourke’s full name, Robert Francis.

It was exactly the sort of reaction you’d expect, and it may also have been exactly what O’Rourke was hoping for, since he’s been doing a slow fade in the polls. And now we’re all talking about him again.

But what if, putting aside the debate stage theatrics, O’Rourke was right?

I’m going to argue that he mainly was.

It’s long past time for America to again ban these weapons of war, which were illegal to purchase from 1994 to 2004. And one of the best ways to get them off our streets is through a nationwide buyback program – not through any sort of confiscation program, which would surely lead to unrest.

And, as PolitiFact notes, “in raw numbers,” researchers at New York University’s medical school found that mass shootings decreased when the ban was in effect and rose afterward. In fact, “the death toll from mass shootings went from 4.8 per year during the ban years to 23.8 per year afterwards.”

Last week, Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who’s pushing an expanded background checks measure in the Senate with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, said O’Rourke’s call to confiscate these weapons was an “an awful and extreme” idea that would derail any efforts at “commonsense” reform.

I disagree with Toomey on that count. Surely the world’s greatest legislative body is capable of, as the saying goes, walking and chewing gum at the same time. Congress can conduct a debate on both expanding background checks and a potential assault weapons ban.

Toomey is right, however, that the kind of mandatory buyback envisioned by O’Rourke, and based on a similar program in Australia, more than likely would not garner the votes for passage. A voluntary program, however, just might.

Momentum for an assault weapons ban is growing in the House. Assuming it can whip up the votes, the chamber’s Democratic majority should pass a ban and then drop it in the collective laps of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and President Donald Trump.

Obviously progress is likely to stop there, but the House could then force both of them to explain their inaction to the rest of the country when we’re inevitably having the same discussion again after the next mass shooting.

The passion underlying O’Rourke’s comments on Thursday, the rage he felt after two shootings in his home state in less than a month left so many dead and wounded, is understandable.

It’s the same inchoate rage that so many of us feel as we watch these scenes of carnage unfold on our television screens with mind-numbing regularity. It’s the same anger that so many of us feel when calls for action inevitably fall on deaf ears in Washington and in our state capitols.

So maybe after the fury over O’Rourke’s comments dies down, we can all consider the fundamental truth behind the Texan’s comments on ABC’s debate stage.

It’s an assault on common sense that we haven’t banned these weapons. And the time for action is upon us.

-Copyright 2019 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.

Always Advocating Alan

| Opinion | September 12, 2019

I’m betting virtually every person reading my column today has at one time dropped a coin and pulled the handle on a “One Arm Bandit,” placed a bet on the green felt of a gambling table or participated in a game of cards at one of our local casinos. They do this even though each individual knew there was a high probability they would be leaving with less money in their pocket than they had when they walked in the door. So, why do we do it? Because it is human nature to get excited when taking risks, and there is always the possibility we will be lucky today and win. Plus, it is particularly fun when the risks taken have little damaging consequences should the person fail to persevere. Sure, there are those compulsive gamblers who lose everything and destroy their lives, but the vast majority of those inside the casinos know when to stop because losing more than they can afford is no longer fun.

Yet in our real lives, we roll the dice every day. Each night when we lay our head down and go to sleep we fully anticipate we will awaken the next morning having won another day of life. Thankfully, unlike the bet we placed at the casino, we will win this “game of chance” many rolls in a row. But sometimes, an unlikely event occurs which forces us to metaphorically “drop a dime” and place our bet by dialing 911.

For me, this has happened twice, and I feel very lucky to have won the wager, and the game, more than once. The first time was six years ago last September. I was in my home office when my wife, Pam, called out to me for help. Her asthma had worsened during the evening. She was using her nebulizer to give herself a breathing treatment but it was not working. As she was having an increasingly difficult time breathing, she knew something was terribly wrong and told me to call 911. As I sat next to her on our bed, talking to the 911 operator explaining the situation, she informed me help was on the way. Then without warning, Pam collapsed in respiratory arrest and started gasping for air.

I remember being in a panic, trying to turn her on her side, listening to the emergency operator’s suggestions, running through the house to unlock and open the front door, then back to her, then the house alarm went off. Fortunately, because Pam told me to call 911 when she first felt a real problem was occurring, it was only about 20 or 30 seconds before the fire station 107 paramedic team came running into my house. The paramedic took one look at Pam and yelled, “Get the Epi kit!”

First it was a shot of epinephrine and then she was immediately loaded up for transport. Going out the front door I saw two Sheriff cars waiting. I jumped in the front seat of the AMR ambulance and we were off for a wild “red lights and siren” ride to Henry Mayo Hospital, with the Sheriffs blocking traffic at major intersections. Upon our arrival at the emergency entrance, a team was outside waiting for us to arrive. They quickly got her inside and within 15 minutes she was sitting up, talking and wanting to go home. Well, as you might imagine, there was no going home at that time. Kaiser first ambulanced her to Panorama City and then Sunset for a battery of tests. In the end, the doctors decided it may have been caused by a reaction to her medication (which they changed), in addition to providing her with an EpiPen kit.

It is hard to explain, but it felt like we just won the lotto. All the stars were in alignment and if one thing was out of place, she may not have pulled through. Think about it. If not for the early 911 call, the immediate availability of the fire department’s 107 paramedic team, AMR’s quick response and transport, the help of the Sheriff to speed up our trip across town and the staff at Henry Mayo taking swift remedial action, the outcome may have been very different. So how could anyone be even luckier? I can tell you — it is when a similar event happens again.

Pam was recently the recipient of a total knee replacement, and a little over a week ago she was about halfway through the six week recovery period. We were coming home in the evening and I was helping her walk from the driveway to the house. About halfway up our front lawn she told me her legs were tired and she might not be able to make it all the way in the house. She was standing there with her walker and seemed stable. So, I got the idea to have her wait while I opened the atrium gate and move a chair to the entrance. I thought if she could make it to the chair, we could wait until she was ready to go the rest of the way. But when I turned back to her I saw her face go blank, she started to stumble backwards, passed out and down she went. Fortunately, even though her back side landed on the walkway, her head landed on the lawn. Getting to her as fast as I could, I found her unconscious and not breathing. I panicked again not being sure what to do, I yelled her name and shook her face, at which point she gasped twice and started breathing normally. But she was not moving, so I grabbed my cell phone and called 911. AMR was the first to arrive, with the fire department team close behind. They found me on my knees next to Pam, with her still motionless on the ground. By the time she was in the ambulance, Pam was sitting up and talking. It was another lights and siren trip to Henry Mayo, where the emergency room team ordered a CAT scan, a chest X-ray and an ultrasound of her knee to verify blood clots were not a problem. This time she did get to go home, but further testing is being performed by order of her regular physician.

So, for the second time all the stars were in alignment. The fact Pam’s head did not hit the pavement, her fall did not impact her knee recovery, the fire department was available, AMR’s quick response and transport and the staff at Henry Mayo taking the necessary remedial action, and performing testing to verify no obvious underlying problem existed, makes me extremely thankful. Six years ago, I wrote a Letter to the Editor at the Signal thanking all who aided Pamela in her time of need, and today Pam and I want to express our gratitude again.

To the fire fighters and paramedics at Fire Station 107, the AMR ambulance staff, our Sheriff deputies and the doctors, nurses, technicians and supporting staff members of Henry Mayo’s emergency room team, please accept our most heartfelt thank you for a job well done — not just for what you did for us, but for the service you provide to our entire community. God bless all of you.

Trump and the White Nationalists

| Opinion | September 12, 2019

by Josh Heath
Last month’s El Paso shooting was just the latest incident of white nationalist terrorism currently overtaking the United States and our allies around the world. These horrific events continue to follow the same depressing script – a heavily armed racist walks into a public place and shoots as many innocents as possible, all in order to combat an “immigrant invasion” threatening society.

Then the media debates whether or not President Donald Trump is responsible for what happened. Critics argue his bigoted leadership inspires lunatics to act on their hate, while others say such violence would occur no matter who was in office. It’s impossible to know which side is correct, since the motivations behind any tragedy are often complex and multifaceted.

What’s undeniable are the similarities between Trump and racist extremists. The president has regularly portrayed migrants as agents of chaos who endanger America’s security and economic well-being. In over 2,000 tweets, speeches, and campaign ads, he claimed there was an ongoing “invasion” of the country by these people, according to the New York Times.

At a recent rally in Florida, when one man suggested solving things with guns, he responded with a smile. And like the white nationalists, Trump is more than willing to use extreme brutality to stop foreigners from coming here, as his administration’s actions at the border make clear.

We now incarcerate as many migrants as legally possible, whether they are children, disabled or violent criminals. Consequently, federal detention facilities are overflowing and have turned into sites of unimaginable suffering. Toddlers become severely ill, no one has room to lie down, and there is insufficient access to food or basic hygiene products.

Family separations continue at record rates, even though a federal court demanded an end to the practice. To get around this, the administration is using a legal loophole which says children can be taken away if their parent puts them at risk. According to the ACLU, border patrol officials are broadly interpreting that and have separated over 900 families in the past year, often for wickedly minor reasons. For example, fathers have lost children for failing to change a diaper or if they were discovered to have previously driven drunk.

All the while, Trump threatens to send federal agents into our communities and round up millions of undocumented people like cattle, crystalizing his shared agenda with the white nationalists. In one voice, they tell migrants “you are not welcome and if you try to enter America anyway, we will respond with violence, either through mass murder or barbaric government power”.

One cannot underappreciate how cruel that is. The desperate masses who come here are often hispanic asylum seekers looking to be safe from harm, find decent employment and see their kids thrive. But bigotry is a blinding force, whether lodged inside the heart of a president or a lone gunman. It turns innocent folks crying out for help into dangerous threats who need to be destroyed.

What would we say if German Chancellor Angela Merkel had governed similarly when dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis a few years ago? Imagine if she echoed the ideology of Neo-Nazis, called them criminal invaders, locked up families in horrifying conditions, and separated children from their parents. Who among us wouldn’t be ashamed and argue that Germany’s dark history had come back to life?

Trump claims his harsh approach makes sense because the immigration rate is so dangerously high; over a million people are expected to be stopped at the border this year. But this is no excuse. Since 1980, four of our last six presidents faced something similar on their watch, and they were able to handle it without resorting to such heartless policies.

Americans can disagree on taxes, the Supreme Court, healthcare, or abortion, but one thing we should all be able to agree on is any leader closely aligned with extremist hate has no place in the Oval Office.

Copyright 2019 Josh Heath. Heath is a two-term delegate to the California Democratic Party and Magna Cum Laude graduate of UCLA. Email him at j.heath53@yahoo.com

Is Healthy and Organic Food Killing Us?

| Opinion | September 12, 2019

by Rob Werner

A pesticide, RoundUp, was linked as a cancer-causing agent. That same pesticide frequently permeates the food we consume. Fans of oats and other whole grains were shocked to learn that these healthy foods may contain significant amounts of the poison we use to kill weeds. Buying organic is supposed to, and generally does, eliminate the exposure to pesticides.

There are many otherwise healthy foods that expose us to the harmful agents in chemicals. The foods get contaminated not only by this, but by exposure to polluted air and water.

You may remember the saying, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” Today apples are one of the most contaminated produce items. Many people from Asia peel their apples before consumption. Organically, the peels may be the healthiest part, but for non-organic food they may be right.

Other non-organic produce that suffer from many contaminants include, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, leafy greens, celery, cucumbers, blueberries, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Even peanuts are contaminated.

Some non-produce contaminated food includes meats, fish, fowl and dairy products. It is said that “We are what we eat;” this is also true of animals, and we consume many animal products. Animals ingesting hormones, antibiotics and poisons can transfer those same agents to us in the food we eat. Grass-fed animals are not immune from the contamination. If the water or air is polluted, they can pass on the agents they absorbed into our foods.

Fish is generally considered a healthy food, but much of the fish is farmed in unhealthy conditions. Eating restaurant foods such as salmon or tilapia generally means eating farmed foods subject to numerous contaminants. It is said that Chinese tilapia is raised on defecation. Beware of other bottom feeders such as basa and swai.
Eating organic food with the U.S.D.A. seal provides some protection. Such food is not to be raised, processed or handled in an environment utilizing pesticides or hormones and cannot be treated with synthetic pesticides, sewage sludge, bioengineering or radiation. The requirements don’t extend to heavy metal and other environmental pollutions.

Foreign producers obtain U.S. organic certification based on supposedly meeting the U.S. standards and passing inspection. This is a serious issue as most of our “organic” food is imported. The largest importer is China. The department determining what producers are organic is led by former executives of major producers. The certification process of foreign organic production is not tough; and worse, there are many false certifications.

Producers in such countries as China have a reputation for not caring for the environment and making false claims to boost sales. Even food produced at a certified Chinese organic facility may be raised on water from polluted rivers and grown in an area where air filtration devices are needed to stay healthy.

The FDA only inspects about 3% of imported food. If they inspect a ship importing tilapia, the odds are it will not pass inspection. The importer may get around this problem by transporting the contaminated product to another port.

If you don’t drink the water in Mexico because of Montezuma’s Revenge, then you might be concerned about consuming organic watermelon or tomatoes grown in the same water. If imported food comes from a country where animals and produce are watered from streams that are so polluted that water cannot be consumed and the air is so rank that air filtration devices are needed, stay away from the food even if it is labeled “organic.”

“Forget it Jake, it’s California”

| Opinion | September 12, 2019

by Dale Paule

Like the last great line in the movie Chinatown, we are being told to just “Forget it Jake; it’s California!”

However, you don’t just forget what’s happening to a once great, beautiful and free state. A state that earned the title “The Golden State” not only because gold was discovered here back in the 1800s, but because it offered it’s citizens wonders not found in any other state, which included the highest mountains and the lowest spot in the whole country. A thousand miles of beautiful beaches greeting the blue Pacific Ocean with each sunrise, plus every type of attraction from the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains to the baked and barren desert sands of Death Valley.

The richest treasure of all, perhaps, was a young, wide open land offering new life and opportunities for those tired of life back east and elsewhere.

I can’t think of a better definition of “Golden” than that!

Not too many decades ago, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was the last sight of America that many servicemen would see as the sailed off into the Pacific and World War II. For those lucky enough to return, it was time now to cheer at the sight of the Golden Gate again, and America, as to them it represented all they had fought and died for. I like to think that somehow, even those returning who would remain “forever silent,” could somehow feel they too were at last back home.

Painfully however, that was then, and this is now. During the 1960s, that “golden” spirit left San Francisco and it’s “Golden Gate” and took it’s very heart with it, as another generation of young servicemen, upon returning from the Vietnam War, were no longer welcomed as patriots, but were jeered and spit upon. No one stood up and fought back, so it soon became the new norm.

Soon, that new norm began to spread quickly (as it had already in many other places) to California’s beautiful cities; including Los Angeles, and even it’s capitol, Sacramento.

It only took a decade or two until many of those from the mobs who would spit on returning soldiers in San Francisco began attaining positions of authority; first in local then State government positions, which allowed them license to enact laws making the philosophy of the new norm legal. Others chose to spread that philosophy to future generations by becoming teachers and professors in many of our oldest and most prestigious universities.

It doesn’t take but one or two generations to erase the memory of the way of life that preceded what had been called the new norm, so soon, it became known simply as, the norm.

For those, like me, who have experienced the way of life that was before all of the later changes and “improvements,” the difference is obvious.

I can also understand how those too young to have had that experience could not see the problem, and could be easily mislead. When you’ve never had, or even known of something, how can you miss it when it’s gone?

While all this may sound like a forecast of doom and gloom for the Golden State, I assure you it was not my intent; in fact, one positive element not mentioned or taken into account was one that seems to always stay hidden until desperately needed!

And as sure as “Yankee Doodle came to town” back in 1776, that element will return when needed again. What will make it happen you ask? I can’t say for sure, but I think it will have something to do with a straw and a camel’s back!

If you saw the movie Chinatown you know how it ended; with Jake being unable to overcome evil and government corruption.

As for “our movie,” I think it could have a real “pow-socko” surprise ending!

Stop the Presses!

| Opinion | September 12, 2019

by Harry Parmenter
Stop the presses! Starbucks no longer sells newspapers. What’s an ink stained wretch to do? Paper is verboten!

Yes, yet another nail in the coffin for the print medium. Its demise is hardly news, but seeing our cultural lodestone of green caffeine dispensaries stop their sales of the Wall Street Journal, NY and LA Times and, occasionally, the Sunday Signal, is a body blow. Now, with the exception of Valencia Cigars and Newsstand and the odd gas station, you can’t buy a print paper in the SCV.

The concept of morning brew with a read through of everything that’s fit to print, or fits in print, is older than the Republic. The Boston News-Letter launched in 1704 as America’s first continuously published newspaper and you can bet colonials grinded their coffee (not to mention their teeth) as they read the British government subsidized publication.

Coffee and the morning paper went together like a horse and carriage, Mom and apple pie, cigarettes and alcohol. Our generation grew up with the coveted paper route navigated by bicycle in the pre-dawn hours, winging the rolled up missive onto expectant front porches where Dad in his robe and slippers would open the door and stoop down to pick it up. After he finished devouring the news bleary-eyed kids appeared and fought over the comics or sports section, subliminally inculcating the need to read. That Norman Rockwell era is long gone.

Nowadays, 99% of the populace gets their news electronically and almost everyone in Starbucks is staring at their phone or laptop, ordering off the mobile app and ignoring the newspaper rack in the corner. Still, it stung to see the papers gone this week because a few people, like me, would occasionally buy a copy and sit down with it, leaving the thumbed through copy in a basket for the next guy.

Of course, you can still subscribe to anything that has survived the print purge. At home we receive Investor’s Business Daily and the mighty Signal and Gazette, the latter pair, along with KHTS, still the lifeline of our community. At work I get seven (!) papers and am probably the only one left at my company who does. The big three: WSJ/LAT/NYT, LA Daily News, The Daily Journal, USA Today and that perennially guilty pleasure, the New York Post.

The Post still has the best page one headlines: “Who wants to lose the election?” beneath “All Major Democratic Candidates Raise Hand in Favor of Free Health Care for Illegal Immigrants” over a photo from the first Democratic presidential debate.

The Daily News still exists and has more local stories about the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys than the Times. Their sports page has expansive high school coverage and the best horse racing handicappers in town (what could be more important?). USA Today (“McPaper”) has thinned but remains a fun read. The Daily Journal is a legal paper read by lawyers…and me. Educational. The big three remain essential in my business.

I can’t say I read them all every day but I do page through them and, as has always been the case, I see stories I would never seek out, and I learn things. When you go to an outlet’s website you target what you’re looking for or what’s popular. You do not discover, as you would leafing through pages of newsprint.

Another generational landslide. Starbucks used to sell CDs—gone. Newspapers—gone. Next on the hit list—plastic straws. Suck it up with a straw made of…paper.

Out From Under the Bridges and Into the Promised Land

| Opinion | September 12, 2019

Last week I spent five hours speaking with 35-year homeless advocate and activist in Los Angeles, Ted Hayes Jr.. Ted is a tall, slender, sixty something, and as he would say it, Black American. He wore a relaxed fitting cotton shirt and pants, around his neck hung a Star of David and a star and striped scarf. He is often seen wearing an African style hat over his gray hair. His remarkably expressive face is dominated by his prominent beard. When you hear Ted speak, it becomes impossible to deny that the man has charisma.

Ted, to entertain and educate, has adopted a character which he calls Mr. Patriot. Many would be surprised to learn that Mr. Hayes is a patriotic Republican. He often opens his speaking engagements by singing the National Anthem. At this time, Ted is focused on meeting President Donald J. Trump to discuss his vision on how to solve our growing homeless problem. Ted’s street credibility is legit. He spent eight years living on the streets of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. He has a unique perspective as to why so many people retreat from “normal” society and chose to call a cardboard box or a pop tent under a bridge, home.

He is the first to speak out against all the programs for the homeless advocated by the Democrats as cynical and worthless. Hayes rails against the entitlement industry. He agrees with the President that the Democrats are quick to use Black Americans and the homeless to gain votes but do nothing that will really solve their problems. President Trump’s messages to the Black American community has inspired Ted Hayes to reach out to the President to explain his vision for solving the conflicts that our society have with the homeless community. His vision includes all of us changing our attitudes and understanding about the homeless and establishing special communities where they can feel safe and thrive.
To me his ideas are reminiscent of the Utopian communities that popped up all over the world and United States in the nineteenth century.

The idea for a Utopia is as old as the Garden of Eden and Plato’s Republic. In literature we have Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” and in the 20th century I am fond of “The Three Sirens” by Irving Wallace and “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” by Kurt Weil.

In the 19th century Utopian communities popped up all over the country. Perhaps the most well known were the Shakers. They all called for people professing the same philosophy, to be living and working happily together while sharing resources and productivity. Sounds a lot like our current rush to communism/socialism. They all have one thing in common — failure. The hard reality is that, unlike our brilliant founding fathers, they failed to take human nature into account. Invariably someone is not performing their fair share of the labor, yet is sharing equally of the benefits and production of the community. Resentment ensues and Utopia collapses. Sometimes the failing is just not fully accepting all the shared philosophy just as we see in the extreme intolerance of the leftist today.

Supporters of CaliforniaSchoolChoice.org made a short video for Ted Hayes to send to the President. I for one, wish him well. The problem of homelessness has been around for many years and no one yet has come up with an effective solution. With a firm reliance on Divine Providence I hope that Ted will become our generations Moses and lead our homeless out from under the bridges and into The Promised Land.

Nervous Trump Turns Back to his Failed Border Wall

| Opinion | September 6, 2019

by John Micek

President Donald Trump wants a wall. It just may not be the one his supporters thought they signed up for back in 2016.

Already walled off from the truth and effectively blockaded from reality, Trump has been apparently unable to construct a barrier high enough to ward off four Democratic 2020 hopefuls who led him by double digits in a Quinnipiac University poll this week.

The Connecticut-based university’s latest canvass showed former Vice President Joe Biden and senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris respectively holding 16-, 14-, 12-, and 11-point advantages in hypothetical match-ups.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising to see Trump, likely in response, ratcheting up his demands to finish his long-promised wall at America’s southern border with Mexico.

The administration is “[fast-tracking] billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively [seizing] private land and [disregarding] environmental rules,” so it can get the job done before next November, the Washington Post reported, citing current and former officials with knowledge of the matter.

Fast-tracking contracts and blowing off environmental rules are absolutely the kind of thoughtless and willful disregard for legislative and political norms we’ve come to expect from this wrecking ball of a White House.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the former real estate developer turned president is engaging in a massive government land grab, through eminent domain, so he can satisfy his edifice complex.

Trump has reportedly batted aside any regulatory or legal concerns, telling his staff (jokingly, they say, but who knows?) that he’ll pardon them if they break the law on the way to finishing the wall.

But it’s clear that concerns about the 2020 campaign are firing Trump’s ardor to deliver on 500 miles of promised border barrier before the polls open. Trump has reportedly said failing to finish the wall would be a massive political embarrassment.

As the Post reports, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has only completed about 60 miles’ worth of construction – all of it in areas that had preexisting border infrastructure.

And that’s more than two years into Trump’s presidency. Assuming that means there’s 440 miles of construction left, that’s an impossibly high bar to cross in the 14 months that remain until Election Day.

As the Post notes, the administration has rushed contracts and allowed construction companies to drag heavy equipment into environmentally sensitive areas – and justified it on national security grounds.

As if to underline the absurdity of the whole affair, Trump acknowledged to lawmakers last year that actual immigration reform and enhanced border security are more effective than a physical barrier.

But he’s also remarked on the applause his tough talk on the wall gets him at his campaign rallies.

Bread, meet circuses. We believe the two of you each know the other?

That naked calculus should be reminder enough that what really fires the president is not what’s good for the nation or national security, but rather what’s good for Donald J. Trump.

Such was the case in Biarritz earlier this week when the leader of the free world shed his constitutional responsibilities to shamelessly pitch his Florida golf resort to the leaders of the G7 nations like some late-night infomercial host.

In a cringeworthy moment as the world press looked on, Trump extolled the banquet rooms, parking, and seclusion of his Doral resort.

“It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens,” Trump said, according to the New York Times. “People are really liking it and plus it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units. And so each delegation can have its own building.”

Given Trump’s obsession with aesthetics and superlatives, it’s no great shock to learn that he’s been taking a hands-on interest in the appearance of his border wall, apparently insisting that it be painted black and be sharp and pointy on top like a medieval fortress or something.

And much like a parent who’s decided to just give in and placate an overtired child, the Army Corps of Engineers is going to tell contractors to just go ahead and paint it black, the Post reported.

Maybe, someday, as Mick Jagger once sang about painting something else black, Trump will “fade away and not face facts.” The rest of us, however, won’t be so lucky.

Trump will build a wall. And we’ll all be paying for it.

Copyright 2019 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.

Two-Party System

| Opinion | September 5, 2019

When people hear this term, they automatically assume it refers to the Democrat/Republican system of representation here in the United States. In reality, it applies to every society in the world. It applies because basically, there are only two parties guiding any society; one of adults, and the other of children.

When a society is run by the adults, using laws gained through experience to guide it’s population, then you have a more united, creative and advanced society, benefiting those who abide by the rule of law and historic experience. On the other hand, when that society is run by children, you get a result not dissimilar to that of mischievous child left alone at home while their parents are away for the evening.

Left to their own immature instincts, children will inevitably ignore rules, and care only for those things that taste or feel good, but are forbidden, or at least limited. They will cry for all the ice-cream they can get a spoon into, and forego the adult rules such as, naps, courtesy and “don’t play with matches!”

As sure as a dropped slice of bread will land butter-side down, those little tummies will soon pay the price for their “freedom from silly old rules!” Crying and tears will quickly follow. Children being children of course can’t admit their aching tummy is the consequence of their bad judgment, but instead, will blame adults for leaving too much ice-cream around.

Beginning to sound familiar? Could it be possible something like that is happening in our very own government? If you answered “yes,” you may award yourself with an “A!”

Many clamor to offer their opinion on when this trend began, but they’re missing the more important point which is, not when it began, but when will it end! If, on the one hand, you think the children will suddenly realize their mistake and decide to abide by the adult’s rule of law, then you may take back your “A” and replace it with an “F!” Make that a capital “F!”

Those who believe that will happen should also never be left alone with matches, because these children are children only in terms of their level of mental maturity, this has nothing to do with their physical age, because they are all in fact, “old enough to know better!”
The chilling fact is, wherever a society is governed by the children within it, the result will always be the same: catastrophe! You need only look to numerous and obvious examples around the world for proof. And it’s not only happening “over there.”

Unless they never get past the cartoon section of their newspaper, or don’t watch TV, far too many people don’t seem to know, or perhaps even care, about the damage being done right under their noses by these children. It’s one thing when actual children create a little mess when their parents are away for the evening, but a much more serious story is when it’s the “old enough to know better” bunch, like the so-called “Squad” for instance, who openly and purposely attempt to “transform” our country into something totally foreign to our way of life and unique culture. Much of which would be irreversible.

We have only one chance at turning things around before it’s too late. That’s if–and it’s a big fat IF– we hear the parents’ car pulling into the driveway, coming home to take back “We the Peoples” house in Washington! Until then, hide the matches!

A Tale of Two Presidents

| Opinion | September 5, 2019

This is the last of my travel journals. We had journeyed across the flyover states that President Obama snobbishly declared was where people still cling to their guns and their religion. There is no surprise, that the DNC at their recent convention in San Francisco actively solicited the support of the non-religious and secular humanist. Having a society whose core values are transiently based on the popular culture of the day is a very dangerous change in America. Without having basic standards such as those espoused in the philosophies of Western Civilization and especially the Decalogue, (popularly called “The 10 Commandments” but more correctly referred to as the 10 Statements or Decalogue) makes our civil society a very unstable and dangerous place.

We finally arrived at the town of Buchanan, Michigan, population approximately 5000. It is a rural community in a highly wooded part of the state and is rich in agriculture. It is also the hometown of my wife, which was the motivation for our trip. Before they left for China and other locations, it was the home of Clark Equipment and Electro-Voice. When such vibrant factories relocate from small communities like Buchanan, it invariably leaves the town economically distressed. That is what we saw when we last visited Buchanan some three years into the Obama administration. Main Street was shabby and largely boarded up. Driving around looking at her family and friends’ old homes and haunts, we observed most were in dire need of repair, paint and roofing. There was a depressed feeling in the town.

We learned that one million dollars of President Obama’s American Recovery Act money had found its way to the two blocks of Main Street via carpetbaggers with cash in hand from Chicago. They opened shops and businesses that addressed needs and services for which there was no demand in rural Buchanan. It turned out that one of the new antique shops was operating in its basement a major illegal drug distribution center serving the addicts of Southern Michigan. When the Obama Bucks ran out, so did the carpetbaggers leaving the town center dilapidated and boarded up.

That was then. What about now? After two- and one-half years of President Trump’s economic policies, what a difference. The town was sparkling. The homes were freshly painted and in a high state of preservation. There was a positive feeling in the community. Our hotel was packed with workman and contractors who were there to work in Southern Michigan. Major remodeling was occurring in the shop spaces on Main Street.

There seemed to be two holdovers from Obama Bucks. Two antique shop owners who told me they made few sales in town. They mostly shipped their goods to wealthy neighborhoods. Their antiques were acquired in Chicago of course. They both were very excited about three large recreational cannabis shops coming to Main Street in one year. They were convinced it would be great for the community and the economy. Think about it. Three cannabis shops in two blocks in a town of 5000. What do you think is happening? I doubt it’s very much about serving the local predominantly very religious community.
I just read about the ex-Canadian Prime Minister attacking Trump for emission policies and hoping that Mar-a-Lago would be destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, ignoring that the US has reduced more CO2 than any other industrialized nation. Instead of cutting back on our economic drivers, perhaps we should be growing more plant life that takes in CO2 and gives back oxygen. Oh yes, I just drove through 1000 miles of oxygen producing corn and soybean fields. Keep up the good work, America!

Always Advocating Alan

| Opinion | September 5, 2019

At the last Santa Clarita City Council Meeting, two members of the Open Space District, Financial Accountability and Audit Panel (FAAP), spoke during public participation questioning a $2 million transfer out of the Open Space account.

The action in question, was accomplished at the December 12, 2017 City Council meeting, Agenda Item 15, titled 2017-18 Mid-Year Budget Adjustment. Buried in the staff report for this item was the following information: “The recommended expenditure adjustment in the Open Space Preservation District Fund includes a $2 million funding swap for the Canyon Country Center land acquisition.” “The expenditure reduction of $2,375,263 in Other Revenue funds includes a $2 million funding swap from the Facilities Fund for the Canyon Country Community Center land acquisition, and $17,000 in Public Education and Government Fund for area enclosure and storage of public television equipment.“

Well, if you have read the above paragraph and understood what is going on, you have far greater psychic powers than I possess, so I decided to do some digging. One of the FAAP members who spoke made the comment, Open Space funding is to be used to purchase undeveloped land, and when the City Manager had an opportunity to respond, he issued the same sentiment. As it turns out, the land which will accommodate the soon to be constructed Canyon Country Community Center was not all purchased at one time.

The first section to be obtained was authorized on September 23, 2014, when agenda item 10, looked for approval to purchase approx. 6.5 acres of vacant land, for $4.7 million. Revenue, according to the recommended action, came from the General Fund (Capital Projects Reserve) to expenditure account 19000-5201.004. At least my psychic powers were working this time, as account 5201-004 is defined within this year’s budget, page 294, as “Capital Outlay: Land: Provides for the acquisition of land for city use or for Open Space Preservation.” The Signal reported the deal the next day, in an article penned by Lila Littlejohn. Purchase of the corner property at Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon, along with the restaurant and shops on Sierra Highway came later, and these land purchases were not undeveloped land.

So, what is the problem? When our City Manager responded, he indicated in part; both the City Attorney and the City Manager will be setting up a meeting with the members of the FAAP to explain the City’s position on how they feel the action was legal, appropriate and consistent with the district approved by the voters. But, last time this issue was addressed, Councilmember Smyth indicated the meeting was going to be held by August 26, which is before the Council Members returned from hiatus. Fortunately, as all FAAP members will be in attendance, the meeting must be noticed per the Brown Act, and interested members of the public will be able to attend. Mr. Striplin further indicated the FAAP does not have the authority to dispute the parcels purchased. In some instances, I agree with him. The FAAP cannot challenge the parcels cost, use, or location within the city. But the FAAP can, and should, challenge the acquisition, if the amount of land purchased for active parkland exceeds 10% of the total land purchased, the parcel is outside the three mile district border, or the land is not being purchased for use by the district as open space or active parkland.

Lastly, the FAAP should maintain oversight of Open Space District expenditures, to assure the resources are being spent properly, in support of the district goals and objectives. Such questioning of actions taken, and oversight of funds appropriated is support of the district, are precisely what was intended when the FAAP was formed. As a member of the panel for the first five years of its existence, I was made aware the yearly financial audit, which is funded by the city, only verifies accounting practices. It is not a forensic audit to determine funds are properly spent. Yet even if it had additional scope, passing an audit does not indicate everything is OK. It simply means the auditors did not report any findings.

Also remaining in question is Mr. Striplin’s comment stating, The Canyon Country Community Center is “Active Parkland.” I pondered the validity of his statement, and if true, the Newhall Community Center should be classified as a park also. This time to find out, I went to the City of Santa Clarita’s website for an answer. Under Parks Division, the website indicates, “The City of Santa Clarita offers 34 beautiful and well-maintained parks. Picnic tables, baseball diamonds and basketball courts are just a few of the numerous facilities park patrons can take advantage of.” On the Parks and Facilities Pages, I selected “Parks” and “All Amenities,” which brought up a picture and details on all 34 Parks. Community centers and libraries were not in the listing, because they are identified as “Park and Recreation Facilities,” not “Parks.”

Therefore, I will be waiting to hear the City Manager and City Attorney explain their position, which approves the use of “Open Space District,” (Proposition 218), funds to be used for the purchase of property not designated as Open Space or active parkland by the City. In that same vein, I’m sure they will agree, it would be illegal to transfer revenue from a discretionary fund, (like the Open Space fund) to a non-discretionary fund, (such as the general or facilities fund), unless it was identified as paying back an amount used to benefit the discretionary fund.

Since this action is transferring revenue to the General Fund account for a purchase which was approved by the City Council over three years ago, does it mean staff can use Open Space funding to reimburse the General Fund for any purchase of parkland back through city incorporation in 1997? While it may not be illegal to do so, it certainly displays an abuse of the trust our community had with City Government, when we voted to establish the “Open Space and Parkland Preservation District.” Lastly, I would ask; why in a year where Capital Project funding is projected at $0, does it take $755,556 to administer the fund? (See Open Space Engineer’s Report, page 5). Plus, who specifically is administering the fund?

No matter which way this issue turns out, it has shown the value of having an oversight committee like the FAAP. Our elected officials appear to be asleep at the switch, as our Mayor was quoted in a previous Gazette article as saying; “I’m assuming that all this was looked at before the decision was made to go ahead and use the money to build active parks at the Community Center.” She went on to indicate, “When we receive information that an action is OK to take, we go by what our staff puts forth. As far as I know, this was all done the way it was supposed to be done, and until something different comes up, that’s what we go by.” Thankfully we have FAAP members who ask questions, and make the issue known when they feel a problem may exist.

From my perspective, I am still optimistic staff and council will look inward and use this opportunity to implement changes which will end “business as usual” and strengthen the City’s business practices. Plus, they need to embrace the hard-working volunteers, serving on the FAAP, when they raise an issue.

The Canyon Country Community Center is a great project, which will provide our residents with resources we desperately need. Let’s do the right thing and get past this issue. Then, we can all look forward to the project’s bright future, and I can write a very happy story for the grand opening.

Thank You, President Obama

| Opinion | September 5, 2019

The title of this article is likely one of the last things you’d imagine a person like me would say. As a conservative libertarian, many of Obama’s policies, actions and speeches while in office made me recoil in horror at the Orwellian neo-liberal state that he imagined for America.

After listening to the audio books Justice on Trial about the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco, and The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson, I’ve come to a realization: Obama’s polarization of politics, attitude and actions were likely the strongest factor in the election of Donald Trump.

With help from points made by Mr. Hanson in The Case for Trump, I’d like to outline just a few of the Obama administration’s actions that changed the views, perceptions and political trust of Americans toward the media and politicians; which changed how we will view both for likely a very long time.

First, for those of you who can remember (as the media dare not remind us), Obama campaigned as moderate, attempting to court voters from both sides of the aisle. In fact, if we look back to his campaign speeches he was stricter on illegal immigration than President Trump has been, deporting far more during his tenure.

It was only after his re-election that Obama made the drastic shift to uber-progressive, once he didn’t need votes anymore. And as he (and the DNC media complex) believed Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in to continue his legacy, he ruled by executive order rather than following the checks and balances set out as the proper blueprint for our government.

When he made the hyper-partisan push to the left, he proudly became the “divider in chief,” creating an identity-politics furor in our nation that caused greater division than we have seen in decades, thinking that he could use it to not only secure future wins for the DNC, but also to drastically change how our historically center-right majority nation thought, acted, and of course, voted.

From his HAMMER program that put the NSA to shame for the amount of private and financial information it stored on all Americans to the wire-tapping of 25 Associated Press journalists, jailing of other reporters and full-blown spy operation on CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson (her court case against his administration is still ongoing), Obama showed us the true Orwellian vision that the DNC had for America.

His signing on to the Paris Accord, which punished America (the world’s leader in reducing carbon emissions and pollution) but offered no punishment for China or India (the world leaders in pollution and emissions) showed just how far he was willing to go to punish America as a scapegoat for the world’s sins.

And of course the billions he gave Iran (which likely funded Al Quds and Hezbollah destabilization of our foreign policy around the globe) along with signing the terrible Iran deal with zero accountability showed that his imperial-style rule felt no need for permission to give massive amounts of cash to our greatest enemies, knowing full well what they were likely to do with it.

And while he thought Hillary would come into office to continue his policies and “sweep under the rug” his administration’s transgressions, it was his executive order style and hyper-partisan division that woke America to the game he was playing. It not only lost her and the democrats the house, but also likely lost Hillary the election even though it was “her turn.”

It was the rabid identity politics culture he created that led us to the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco, with activists willing to lie and go to catastrophic levels of theatrics that showed America what his plan was truly driving us toward.

It was his rule by Executive Order that, while Hillary was “supposed to” leave alone, allowed President Trump to virtually undo most of Obama’s presidency.

It was his governmental overreach that woke America to the fact that many from the DNC were using 1984 as a roadmap, rather than a warning of what Big Brother could do.

It was he and Hillary’s Spy Gate that will likely effectively kill the DNC for the next few decades, if not generations.

It was his relentless climate change lecturing that showed us just how hypocritical he was in buying a $15mm ocean-front property in Martha’s Vineyard and another Australian Island “summer home.”

And, of course, it was his running as a moderate but drastic leap to the left that alerted America to the chameleon democrat politicians like he and Hillary, willing to say anything to get power and then do whatever they wanted when in office.

Although he certainly doesn’t want it, I feel all of America owes a debt of gratitude to Obama for his actions. For it was only through his craftiness, lies and anti-American sentiment that we were fortunate enough to understand what real change meant: taking a chance on a non-politician who actually loves this country.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), CMO of Heroes Media Group, entrepreneur, MBA and award-winning author of Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War, The Pact and The Pact Book II: Battle Hymn of the Republic. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Progressives Manufacturing a Recession

| Opinion | September 5, 2019

by Rob Werner
You may have noticed that talk of an expected recession has suddenly become a dominant news story. Such talk, started as a wish list among many progressive Democrats who concluded that a disastrous recession was something the country needed, and something they were willing to stomach, if it would lead to a reemergence of progressive Democrat control over our entire government. Yes, the polls already say that Trump is headed for defeat, but they were wrong last election. A strong recession would guarantee that defeat.

This call struck a chord with billionaires in the anti-Trump crowd as well as China and other nations that thought they might benefit from changes in policy. Stock market, trade and currency manipulation soon followed. All it took was for some analyst to conclude that one of several indications that a recession was on its way, for the media to grab on to the story as a horror in the making by the current President.

So, rather than discussing our booming economy, full employment and the return of manufacturing to our country, the media is discussing the coming recession. They have grabbed onto what they have labeled, “Trumps trade war with China” as a cause of the future recession. The media’s conclusion that prior to Trump there was no trade war with China is evidence that our country’s press is no longer free but a propaganda wing for foreign and anti-American interests. The Chinese have been stealing billions of dollars of our products, billions of dollars of our technology and engaged in currency manipulation and price fixing. They have successfully eliminated many American competitors.

Depressions, recessions, poverty and conflict are needed to engineer the election of progressives, socialists, communists and socialists. These new leaders’ actions increase the poverty and dependence of the people who are constantly given the solution of more government more suppression and more confiscation from others to support the growing demand of those in need.

The last major recession was blamed on Bush but it was engineered by progressives. The final straw causing the recession was the burst of the housing market bubble. But it started during the Clinton administration. The argument was that to extend home ownership to those without financial means, little or no down payment should be required, and credit should be more available. Democrat operatives were placed in charge of the government program. People without financial means were successfully purchasing homes. Because there were not enough homes for everyone, values went up and those acquiring homes without investment were then able to borrow money. It was good while it lasted.

Bush became aware that the bubble might burst and asked congress to act. But by then, Congress was back in the hands of the Democrats who were not cooperative.

Clinton’s progressive wish to increase home ownership ultimately resulted in a reduction of such ownership but it did line the pockets of his campaign supporters.

Back in the 60s the Johnson administration declared a “War on Poverty.” The war resulted in an increase in poverty and made welfare such an acceptable form of income that people would often state, “I’m on the county,” when asked what their job was.

America’s prosperity should not be a partisan issue. It should not matter if our President is Democrat or Republican, we should all rejoice when the country is doing well. As Americans we retain our right of criticism. But this should be tempered by promoting actions that we honestly believe will improve our economy.

Always Advocating Alan – Being Prepared is Not Just for Boy Scouts

| Opinion | August 29, 2019

Here in Santa Clarita, we are experiencing extreme summertime heat which has been turning the massive green growth established by a very wet winter into brown dry, dead wildfire fuel. Couple these fire related risks with the fear of earthquakes, our elected officials, along with various organizations, are again out lecturing the public to proactively prepare for the eventuality such an occurrence take place.

I believe they are correct in being concerned. Having lived here for over half a century, I remember the turmoil created in the late 60s when it rained so hard the wash, now called the river, was filled bank to bank, taking out the bridge at Soledad and Camp Plenty, while the Sierra Highway Bridge sank three feet. Panic set in right away, with residents filling our local Safeway Market and buying shopping carts full of consumables. My neighbor and I were there as well, but all we wanted was a case of beer.

Then came the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. Although the power went out for a period of time, my neighborhood was relatively calm. We opened our RV, made coffee and had a small block party until all was restored to normal.

Yet the mid 70s fire was a lot more frightening. Starting over the hill to the south, it burned to the beach, as well as north through Santa Clarita going almost as far as Rosemond. I was at Willow Springs Raceway preparing for a Motorcycle Grand Prix. No cell phones in those days, so my wife Pam called the Highway Patrol and asked if they could locate me and inform me of what was happening. After getting the news, I immediately headed home. I drove the 14 freeway until being forced off at a roadblock, and then negotiated back roads to the next open onramp in order to continue my journey. When I crossed the junction at Soledad Canyon and Sierra Highway, the fire was still burning on both sides of the road. Pam and my two boys were waiting for me, and with the family all together, we headed back north beyond the reach of the fire.

You would think that would be all there was to tell, except 1994 brought with it an earthquake which affected our area even more intensely. Initially, we were evacuated several blocks due to a natural gas main rupturing and spewing gas into the air. Here again, our RV provided some comforts and we shared what we had. But the real issue became apparent when we were informed of the I5 and Hwy 14 interchange being blocked by the highest uncompleted bridge coming down. Using secondary roads, and the resulting traffic congestion, caused many extra hours getting to work and back. Besides all that, Pam worked in the Kaiser Building on Devonshire and Balboa, where the 3rd floor became the 2nd floor as the building structure collapsed. Fortunately, it was before the workforce arrived and no injuries were sustained.

When we finally did get into the San Fernando Valley, we saw the devastation first-hand. How surreal the CSUN parking structure looked rolled on its side, and how sad to view the many apartment houses, with residential over parking, showing damage due to a collapse of the building on the garage area. Luckily, Pam was reassigned to Kaiser in Woodland Hills, which was right next door to Litton Industries where I worked, so at least our nerves were frazzled together during the months it took to repair the roadways.

So, how should each of us prepare? Well almost every so-called expert, will tell you to have a “Go Bag” ready in order for you to be able to “Bug Out” at a moment’s notice. For example, AARP suggests you maintain supplies for every member of your family to “help keep you safe and comfortable in the coming hours and days. Stopping to hunt for your medications or other important needs can cost you critical seconds in an evacuation.” They recommend including an extra phone charger, a portable battery pack, a long-lasting LED flashlight and small hand-cranked or battery-operated AM/FM radio.

For your personal needs, include travel size versions of your toiletries, a backup pair of glasses, first-aid kit, baby wipes and a multipurpose tool which includes a knife and can opener. Pack clothing for a few days, try to include items you can use for layering, plus rain gear and waterproof boots. Pack at least three days worth of each of your prescribed medications, and if you need larger items, such as an oxygen tank, be sure to have a portable version available. Fill a zip-top waterproof bag with photocopies of your birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security and Medicare cards. Include, as applicable, your power of attorney, will, marriage, adoption, naturalization certificates, proof of address, insurance, medical and immunization records, as well as credit and ATM card information. Make sure you have some bottled water and granola or energy bars. Lastly, include money for a few days in small bills and change.

But, while all these things are great to have with you, there is an underlying assumption about where you will be going. The list assumes you will be able to reach a safe place, where food and shelter is available, in a relatively short time. Realizing there may be a large percentage of an area’s population fleeing the disaster area, you should consider the possibility roads may be in gridlock, services may be overwhelmed and people may become desperate. Therefore, ask any friend who has had experience camping in a location which had no services available how long you could survive with the above recommended list of items, and what other items you should have with you. For myself and my wife, I also keep a separate bag packed with a small tent, sleeping bags and back packing pads left over from our motorcycle camping days. We maintain a two-week supply of emergency dried food and I would never leave home in an emergency without a means of self-protection.

In a fire situation, survival is more likely to be dependent on you evacuating when told to do so, and I recommend you follow the guidance provided by our first responders, but realize also, you are heading into unknown territory. Being well prepared can make the difference between life and death. At the same time, confronting disaster when you can shelter in place, allows you the availability of greater personal resources, and provides more time for your family to consider the available options.

Still, let us all hope and pray we are never in a situation which requires the use of our emergency bags, but being prepared helps maintain our peace of mind and calm our frazzled nerves.

If Climate Change is Real, Why Do They Lie and Hide Data?

| Opinion | August 29, 2019

If you have to lie to make a point, you have a terrible point.

That should be incredibly clear logic, but it seems to be the norm now that people are often willing to tell outrageous lies in order to sway public opinion. Even scarier than the increase in lies from politicians and pundits has been the politicization of science.

What many don’t understand is that science is a direct result of funding, whether through research grants or private corporations. If you’re willing to fudge data or skew results to a certain bias, you can make data say just about anything you want for the company/people footing the bill. As Mark Twain said, “There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

The scary part, however, is that many scientists have spoken out to tell us that if they’re not willing to “toe the line” and say what the check writers want, they won’t be funded – and this is increasingly regarding political, not just business, interests.

What are the major red flags that you’re being lied to about? Feigned indignation, where the claimant is “appalled” that you would ask for evidence to back up their claim. Useful idiots (celebrities and politicians) used to parrot a narrative despite no background in the subject. Creating a false enemy. And, of course, the attack of a person’s character rather than the issue at hand is the most prevalent red flag we often see used today.

The climate change crowd have been dealt a major blow in the Supreme Court of British Columbia this week, where climate change alarmist Michael Mann’s libel case against Dr. Tim Ball was thrown out, due to Mann’s refusal to hand over the data used to make his (now debunked) “hockey stick” graph.

Mann’s graph, which was featured prominently in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Third Assessment Report, removed data from what is called the “Medieval Warming Period” (MWP) that proved the climate was much warmer in those years than it is now.

But the scientists and citizens who debunked and criticized Mann’s graph and the refusal to submit data for peer review faced each of the red flags of lies listed above.

A mentor with a background in politics once told me, “People don’t vote for issues, they vote against enemies.” That’s an interesting thought to keep in mind when considering the red flag of creating a false enemy. Is climate change being positioned as an existential threat? Certainly, it’s a complete political platform for some candidates at the moment.

But looking at the Paris Accord we can see an even greater false enemy: us. If you’ve ever wondered why President Trump was so against the Paris Accord, look at the false enemy it created. The largest fines set in the accord were against the USA, who leads the world in reduction of pollution and emissions. The accord completely ignored India and China, who are the world leaders in pollution and emissions. Are you starting to get it?

We should also look to the Forbes article from 2011 on ClimateGate, which showed emails between climate scientists telling each other to delete email conversations so they didn’t go public, questioning egregiously bad data being put forward and deciding to politicize their contrived findings.

If climate change is real, man made and an existential threat, why would they go to such lengths to lie about it? And why would the Obama’s buy a $15mm mansion in Martha’s Vineyard if it’s really going to be under water in 10 years? And didn’t Al Gore tell us the world was supposed to end decades ago?

If you repeat the term “settled science” you obviously don’t understand science. If science were ever truly settled, we’d still be using leeches to cure all illnesses.

So why do climate change scientists refuse to hand over data and allow it to be peer reviewed? Why do they go to such lengths to discredit anyone who disagrees? Why do politicians frequently lie and say “all scientists agree” when a large number of them do not?

If you ask these questions, you’ll promptly be labeled a conspiracy theorist. But if we don’t ask these questions, we’ll allow the world to go to the most delusional and power hungry among us.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), CMO of Heroes Media Group, entrepreneur, MBA and award-winning author of Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War, The Pact and The Pact Book II: Battle Hymn of the Republic. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.


| Opinion | August 29, 2019

Thank you for the recent “Doug’s Rants”.
…This is a lot going on politically.
The Progressive Left’s century long push to end the American republic and turn it into some weak kneed democracy like UK or France or Spain or Venezuela has ALMOST succeeded. We are now in a POST Constitutional phase of our Republic. [yes, i am a big believer in Roman history pointing the way to modern day developments]
The Left, and its allies, have politicized everything from kindergarten teaching to pro sports, in some effort to turn off its conservatives opponents into a self induced exile from the political arena.
How can Leftists lose if they control all the cultural levers of power such as Academia, Big-Media, Hollywood, Big-Entertainment, and the populace of the big cities?
They can still lose in this American republic if the majority or even a strong minority opposes them.
Hence the BIG PUSH to silence any OPPOSITION.
First it was Political Correctness, or silence your selves please, starting in the late eighties.
Then it was Dems are the victims, because Kerry lost in Florida.
Then relax and go to sleep and don’t oppose us, because we got this savior of America, President Obama.
Didn’t i hear that Pennsylvanian voters who didn’t go along with program, get called out for ‘clinging to their guns and Bibles?’
And then, we got called ‘deplorables’ if we dare vote for an alternate candidate from the anointed successor.
So it should be no surprise that given the few political setbacks the Left has had, new marching orders have come down from the ultimate think tank, The New York Time/Washington Post.
Follow Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals. Use all the methods to intimitate and silence opposition. Use everything to identify, personalize personal attacks on ALL opponents from the usual leaders to the lowest strata, you know, those guys weedwacking their yards in Agua Dulce.
Hence, we are all now ‘racists’ for following Trump. We are hypocrites for not pulling him back from his Tweets or grandiose speeches. We are not LIKE other Americans because we are ‘white supremacists’.
Such is the level of political discourse in our time.
And speaking of time, forgive me for going to long.
I only did mean to thank you for pointing out the OBVIOUS.

Christy Smith, who swore an OATH to defend our Constitution, has shown her true Anti-American values by wanting to be able to say whatever SHE wants, while attempting to violate the Constitutional rights of others, namely Doug Sutton’s, by trying to destroy this publication. This is so hypocritical as to make one wonder about the level of contempt she holds for the opinions of citizens that elected her, and should disqualify her from being a representative. Recall? Here is my prayer for the followers of Christy Smith, who represents citizens of a country she neither appreciates nor understands.

Free speech-hating
Bill of Rights-hating
Hypocritically projecting

Richard Hood,
Retired history teacher

As expected, the haters who do not believe in the 1st Amendment, Assemblywoman Christy Smith supporters who also act on her behalf, posted the contact information on all of the advertisers in the Gazette. Thank you very much; it saves a lot of us a huge amount of time.
To each and every advertiser: THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR ADVERTISING IN THE GAZETTE! It is the intention of many of us to contact each of you personally but for the moment, THANK YOU. We now know an elected representative is anti- 1st Amendment AND her unbridled cruelty to financially harm her very own constituents and voters. It is nothing less than wonderful she exhibited it for us….her constituents. Further, her followers doubled down and underlined her core beliefs with their actions.
Evidence and proof vividly handed to us. – Betty Arenson

Social Security’s Looming Shortfall

| Opinion | August 29, 2019

“Sometimes I worry that if I ever can retire and do get Social Security payments, they’ll be a lot less than what I’ve been promised,” I said to my CPA, Louie the Number Cruncher.

“There is some reason to worry, Tommy. According to the Social Security trustees’ latest report, the two trust funds that support the program will run out of reserves in 2035. If that happens, beneficiaries like you will get only 80% of the benefits they’re owed.”

“But I thought Social Security was an insurance program, not a typical government program!”

“Well, Tommy, when FDR signed it into law in 1936, it was considered an insurance program. Workers contributed money to it through income taxes. When they retired, they drew money out.”

“So how can the government arbitrarily cut my benefits?”

“The Supreme Court ruled long ago that policymakers could change Social Security’s benefit formula to reflect shifting conditions. They can cut benefits anytime, and they’ve done so many times.”

“But that’s not fair! I’ve been self-employed for a long time, and I know I’ve paid big money into Social Security every year.”

“That’s the breaks, Tommy. Millions of baby boomers are retiring. The ratio between people paying into the program and people drawing out is shrinking fast. In 1950, 16 workers paid in for every person drawing out. Today, just 2.8 workers pay in for every person drawing out.”

“But Social Security has run surpluses for years! Surely there’s some huge pile of dough that the government can tap when I retire.”

“The Social Security trustees do report a nearly $3 trillion surplus. But as surpluses have rolled in, the government has used the money to purchase special Treasury bonds, then used that money to fund other programs.”

“The government borrows from itself?”

“No, Tommy -the government borrows from you! Look: In 2035, reports The Motley Fool, baby boomers will have mostly retired, with only 2.2 workers paying into the system to fund each beneficiary. To cover the shortfall, the government will need to cash in those bonds. Guess where it’ll get the money to pay off the bonds.”

“Future taxpayers?”

“Correct, Tommy. The government will need to cut benefits or raise taxes -and will likely do both. As the trustees say, benefits would have to be cut in 2036 to 80% of what’s promised unless taxes are increased.”

“I read that since 1936, Congress has raised Social Security taxes more than 40 times.”

“Correct again, Tommy. The trustees say a tax increase of 4% -half paid by employers, half by employees -would stave off the shortfall. Others are floating ideas to expand the Social Security program.”

“Expand a program that’s struggling for funds, Louie?”

“Democrats in the House have introduced the Social Security 2100 Act, which would increase both benefits and taxes. Today, workers pay Social Security taxes on income up to $132,900. This bill would have high earners pay additional Social Security taxes on income of $400,000 or more.”

“That’s a big ‘Ouch!’ for high earners.”

“Tommy, the sooner our Social Security challenges are addressed, the better off the program will be. People are living longer. Many retirees rely on Social Security to pay their bills. It’s time for Congress to get cracking.”

“Well, Louie, knowing Congress, I’m not holding my breath. But I think I’ll add some names to my Christmas list -the 2.2 workers who’ll be funding my benefits when I retire!”

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.

Faster Hamster, Fastser

| Opinion | August 29, 2019

by Dale Paule
They are like hamsters, running faster and faster on that little wheel inside their cage, never realizing they’re going nowhere. That’s what all the current democratic candidates look like as they seize each moment to appear on television and belch out one bombshell revelation after another which their handlers convince them will be the one that will spotlight their image and separate them from their opponents, awarding them with the ultimate prize: Presidency of the United States of America.

They’re being told they are running circles around the rest of the would-bes, when in fact, they’re simply running around in circles. In the end, only one of them will be deemed fit for the grueling race ahead against the current holder of that esteemed office, and the rest….well, eventually it will dawn on them that the only title they will hold is, “also ran.”

Then again, simply having run for President of the United States does offer another benefit. It serves as a nifty and unique resume enhancement should they ever choose to run for some other public office; say for instance, dog catcher in some small town…some very small town.

But what of the winner? Who will be the one finally chosen to defeat the incumbent? What (perish the thought) if they too fail to achieve the “dream,” and also have to exit through that door marked, “Loser Exit?”

Fear not fair voter, you may rest assured their status will be politically elevated to an even higher level, and their options for public office are much greater than that of a mere “also-ran.” It would seem likely they might seek the governorship of a state that stood by them throughout their race for president.

A couple of states immediately spring to mind: New York and California. New York would be a natural because its residents appear to have developed a knack lately for picking losers to run their government, so I’d be willing to lay two-bucks to win on that one. California’s a bit trickier, the current governor seems to be just itching for a shot at being President so he can declare America a “Sanctuary Country!”

Rumor has it he already has a closet full of winter clothes just right for those Washington D.C. winters at that big white house. So, whoever chooses California to run for the role of governor in is certain to have our current governor’s full support in return for a heavy dose of Quid Pro Quo when the time comes around.

Thankfully, we don’t have all that long to wait to find out if anyone ran fast enough to win that all-expense paid “vacation” to the White House for the next four exciting years. But politics has always been an unpredictable animal, so round and round the hamster’s wheel goes, and where it stops, nobody knows. There’s another big question which nobody seems to be asking though; who’s going to clean up that big mess left in the hamster cage after it’s all over?

The Prairie is Corny

| Opinion | August 29, 2019

As promised, 1000 miles of corn fields. My road trip to southern Michigan took me across the prairies of Nebraska and Iowa. Strictly speaking it is not entirely corn fields; for economics and the need for restorative crop rotations there was also fields of soybeans. The continuous rows of crops also included Illinois and Michigan. Occasionally a dairy farm was seen. Speaking of cows, let me backtrack to Arizona and Colorado.

Eastern Arizona and Colorado are the home of beef on the hoof. In Arizona the cattle are truly “free range.” Translation — grazing land, both public and private with no fences. Just think of what might have happened had the cattlemen won the Western range wars. In these lands, if one should hit a cow, one will be hit in return by a substantial fine. In this land, the need for branded cattle is more obvious. Cattle country in Colorado looks very similar but is divided by ubiquitous barbed wire fences. What stands out is that the feed in Arizona is totally natural grass and other plant edibles. It is much the same in Colorado with the addition of hay and the harvesting of the same to get the animals fed through the bitter winters. Vegans and worshipers of Gaea often complain about how we are sacrificing resources on cattle production. They hold that mankind and Mother Nature would be better served if we eliminate beef from our diets. Frankly, in the observed country, nothing could be less abusive or more natural. For the most part, feed is from what is naturally available, and irrigation comes from rain. I feel good when our protein is labeled “grass fed”. I saw no agricultural waste or abuse of the environment.

Back to corn country. The fields are dense and intense. The need for irrigation and restorative farming practices are necessary. The land looks very much the same in either direction East or West of the Mississippi River. I was a little surprised when we crossed the big muddy near Le Claire, Iowa. Due to the late rains and flooding on the prairies this year, crops were planted very late. The result is that crops that would have been harvested by now are still growing as the days are growing shorter. There is no certainty in farming. On the Nebraska/Montana border a major irrigation tunnel collapsed and 100,000 acres under plow are expected to lose their crops. The residents of Winslow, Nebraska were flooded out when the Elkhorn River overflowed its banks in March. The people of Winslow are now considering moving their entire town to higher ground.

Nebraskans are a resilient people. Very little of the corn we saw growing will end up as corn on the cob in our neighborhood supermarkets; instead it will be processed into sweeteners, chips and cereals. It will also be used to make ethanol for gasoline, gypsum drywall, adhesives, cosmetics, added to fresh vegetables, wax paper, wax cardboard, bio-engineered bone and gum tissue, hand soap, varnish, toothpaste, matches, paving bricks, coated aspirin, tires, jelly beans, licorice and molded plastics. Don’t forget diapers. Respect your local corn cob.

Heading east we visited the Presidential Library and hometown of President Hoover, West Branch, Iowa. It’s only two blocks off the highway. It’s free and well worth the visit to learn about a largely forgotten President. We also passed the birthplace of Ronald Reagan, Tampico, Illinois. The homes of many nationally famous figures were along our route.

Next, the result of Obama’s American Recovery Act’s million dollars on the 5000-person metropolis of Buchanan, Michigan.

Environmentalists are Killing the Environment

| Opinion | August 29, 2019

by Rob Werner

This article is not about global warming, it is about pollution. Everyone is against pollution. It’s just a question of what actions we are willing to take to reduce or eliminate it.

Many passionate environmentalists have been enlisted and conned by special interests and big businesses to support agendas that are increasing pollution in the guise of saving the environment.

Remember when stores started charging for paper bags to encourage the use of recyclable and cloth bags? Yet the paper was made from wood which was renewable, could be harvested and nature would compost it. In California plastic straws are banned but this results in more plastic used in drink covers.

Businesses and wealthy people who claim to be environmentalists justify the massive amounts of pollution they generate by claiming that their financial contributions to environmental causes neutralizes their carbon footprint.
To save our environment, we have been compelled to promote battery operated vehicles, corn and vegetable produced fuel, such as ethanol, and solar panels. However, our environmental laws make local production of these things either prohibitive or much cheaper elsewhere. Manufacturing batteries creates so much pollution that they are rarely made in the U.S. The government mandates compel the purchase of ethanol and solar panels, but most of these products are produced in countries that do not have our concern over pollution. They are made in high polluting countries for less than we can make them here.

The Paris Accord purported purpose was to reduce emissions; however, it exempted and had different standards for “developing” countries including China. It also fostered the myth that one can mitigate a carbon footprint by contributing to some cause or endeavor. President Trump said that it undermined our economy and put the U.S. on a permanent trade disadvantage. He pulled us out of the agreement.

The Paris Accord gives special treatment to China and other countries that rank at the top of the scale for pollution. They are not required to meet the same environmental standards as other countries. A recent report shows China contributing 27.2% of global CO2 emissions compared to the U.S. with 14.6%. China is also the main polluter of oceans. It produces over 300 times the pollution the U.S. does. Small countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Egypt and Thailand are also sources of major ocean contamination, all producing far more contamination than the U.S.

Why aren’t nations and environmental leaders more concerned about the massive amounts of pollution being generated in China as well as smaller manufacturing countries? Big businesses in leading worldwide industries have transferred production to China and other developing countries. They share in creating the pollution and reap greater profits by not competing with smaller local businesses that must conform to local environmental laws.

Americans who care about our environment enough to demand tough U.S. pollution standards need to realize that creating and enforcing standards on a local basis hurt our country if they don’t equally apply to other producing countries.

Perhaps the solution is to ban or tariff imports that do not meet our standards. This would raise the cost of imported products, but it would also equalize the trade market and reduce our trade deficit.

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