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Making Sense – The Democrats’ Sad Circus

| Opinion | September 13, 2018

by Michael Reagan

I love Lindsay Graham.

The witty South Carolina senator, who’s usually more entertaining than most comedians, has been one of the highlights of the otherwise depressing televised Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Graham put it perfectly Thursday morning.

He said some people had been coming up to him and asking if this week’s ugly display of disruptions, rude moronic outbursts from the gallery and Democrat grandstanding had become a circus.

“I’m here to defend circuses,” Graham said, pointing out that it was safe for parents to take their kids to the circus but not to let them watch Senate confirmation hearings – as Judge Kavanaugh found out Tuesday when his daughters had to be taken out of the raucous chamber. The Democrat circus’ acts included rookie Corey Booker of New Jersey pandering to his base with his clichéd leftist ravings.

Then on Thursday, Booker dramatically announced that he would deliberately break the Senate’s rules and release “confidential” documents that would risk his expulsion from the Senate.

Booker, who showed the whole country why he’s never going to be the second coming of Barack Obama, was given several hours of glory by the Liberal Resistance Media even though they knew the “confidential” emails he exposed had already been cleared for release.

It’s been sad to watch what dumb things self-serving Senate Democrats like him are willing to do to discredit a highly qualified nominee like Kavanaugh.

Booker and my senator, Kamala Harris of California, were more interested in creating “tough guy” videos for their 2020 presidential runs than engaging in serious constitutional discussions. The Democrats are acting like circus clowns, because they and their progressive allies in the liberal media are scared to death of Judge Kavanaugh. He’s not their kind of guy. He’s someone who wants to strictly follow the Constitution, not evade it or misinterpret it or rewrite it. I hope the American people see the Democrats for what they are – sore losers with no ideas and no plan.

They still want to impeach the president even though there is no impeachable offense. Bob Woodward’s gossip book “Fear” came out this week, and the Trump haters went nuts. But most of it was old or fake news and there is nothing impeachable in it. It’s the same deal for that anonymous op-ed from a Trump staffer that the New York Times ran on Wednesday. There’s nothing new or impeachable in it, despite the desperate excitement of CNN, the Washington Post and Joe Scarborough.Every president’s administration has had people who don’t agree with his behavior or policies. A few of them will leak or snitch or lie to the media. What we have today in Washington is that there are lots of anti-Trump people who can get printed anywhere. It doesn’t matter what the New York Times’ op-ed or Woodward’s book says, however, because there’s still nothing impeachable.

For those people who say they don’t like Trump personally, I get that. Paying off two women to keep their silence about things that happened long before he was elected is not a good reflection on his personal morals. But it’s not an impeachable offense. We know President Trump brings a lot of deserved criticism on himself. But again, I remind you: No one liked Ty Cobb and he’s in the Hall of Fame.

So let’s put this in perspective – which the liberal media rarely ever give us. After less than two years of President Trump, the economy is booming. Unemployment is down. Taxes and regulations have been cut. In the end the president is doing everything he promised he’d do – including naming strict constitutionalists to the Supreme Court and other federal benches.This week we’ve been watching Trump’s legacy being constructed. It’ll live on at the Supreme Court for decades, because, as a recent president said, “Elections have consequences.”

So while Booker and the other members of the Democrat circus cry and make clowns of themselves on national TV, let me be the first to congratulate Judge Kavanaugh on his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Copyright 2018 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at sales@cagle.com.

Theatre of the Absurd

| Opinion | September 13, 2018

by Stephen Smith

“I live on the sunrise side of the mountain, not the sunset side of the mountain. I see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone. I am optimistic about the future of America and the future of our independent Judiciary.” – Justice Brett Kavanaugh

The recent confirmation hearings for the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court created a spectacle reminiscent of “The Theatre of the Absurd” rather than a celebration of American Civics.

Wikipedia’s description of “The Theatre of the Absurd”:

“Broad comedy, often similar to vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; … These plays were shaped by the political turmoil…”

Justice Kavanaugh sat calmly in the middle of the storm, demonstrating that he was the person with the highest character, humility, legal temperament and a voice of sanity in the room. Democrats relished the role of Grand Inquisitors while appearing more like Tartuffe or the demonic Hellequin. The Greek Chorus in the gallery consistently interrupted the proceedings by screaming their protests. Out of such fabric the absurd theatrics unfolded.

The curtain was raised as Chairman Grassley’s gavel fell. He began to speak, then the voice of Democrat California Senator Kamala Harris rang out, “Mr. Chairman, I move that we adjourn!” That call was repeated by other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. They all claimed they were denied access to documents. More on that later.

Despite the protest, the hearing went on as scheduled. Some moments of absurdity were:

Senator Kamala Harris repeatedly asked Justice Kavanaugh if he had discussions with anyone from the law firm of Kasowitz, Benson and Torres regarding the Mueller investigations. He said he knew no one who worked for the law firm. With a dark countenance and strong voice, she repeatedly challenged him on this point. This specious assertion was taken up by other Democrat Senators. Though she claimed having evidence, none was ever offered!

Democrat Senator “I am Spartacus” Booker declared that he would defy the rules of the Senate and face expulsion by publishing an email by Justice Kavanaugh titled “Racial Profiling.” Gotcha! The problem was that the email had already been approved for release. Oops! The text of the email advocated not using racial profiling. Darn it! As it turns out, the so-called restricted documents that Democrats claimed having no access, were fully available to them all along. Except for Senator Klobuchar, they simply failed to request the documents. ###@@##.

The Senate had received thousands of pages of documents written by Justice Kavanaugh. What outraged Democrat Senator Blumenthal was that the Justice once used the phrase “abortion on demand.” Blumenthal scolded, “don’t you know that is a code word used by anti-abortionist!” Kavanaugh pointed out that Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger used the same phrase in his ruling upholding a case on Roe vs. Wade. I am a conservative, but I have yet to see the secret de-coder ring to aid in recognizing the politically in-correct language referred to. Neither had Judge Kavanaugh.

With more decisions being made by activists’ leftist judges, the progressive Democrats insisted that Judge Kavanaugh adhere to “stare decisis,” or legal precedents. This is especially true when Democrats were advocating for the preservation of the Roe vs. Wade abortion rights. Remember, the Supreme Court establishes precedent. Our California Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein advocated ignoring precedent set by “District of Columbia vs. Heller,” which upheld the right for individuals to keep and bear arms. She wants to eliminate semi-automatic rifles while keeping semi-automatic hand guns. Justice Kavanaugh had argued that legally there is no practical difference between these types of firearms, supported by a Supreme Court Justice Scalia majority opinion. Senator Feinstein was outraged and argued for the overturning of Heller. I guess precedent just depends on whose ox is being gored.

Trump Derangement Syndrome was often evidenced. Amazingly, on Friday, the Democrats brought in Trump hating expert witnesses such as John Dean of Watergate fame and asked them to make extensive comments about how dangerous and awful President Trump is. Just imagine if the President is charged “along with his un-indicted co-conspirators” and if the case finds its way to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh may offer him absolution. OMG. This shows extreme contempt for the character and judicial temperament of the other eight Supreme Court Justices.

Lest we forget, the American Bar Association gave Judge Kavanaugh an A++ rating on all their evaluation parameters, declaring him to be “well qualified.” When asked if he was mainstream, the ABA proclaimed him to be on top of the stream. The curtain falls.

Nicaragua Could Be Trump’s Wag the Dog Moment

| Opinion | September 13, 2018

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s recent warning to the United Nations Security Council that civil unrest in Nicaragua poses a threat to the stability of Central America may have set the stage for Donald J. Trump’s “Wag the Dog” moment.

The reference is made to a 1997 movie about a U.S. president embroiled in a sex scandal who attempts to save his presidency by staging a fake war in a country far from American soil.

The idea of this president attempting to divert the American people’s attention from investigations into his conduct in office in similar fashion is not such a far-fetched idea. Redirecting attention from “fake news” is an everyday occurrence through tweets, talking points, spin by the president’s surrogates, or outright lies.

New revelations of increased turmoil in the White House and a president described by intimates as “unhinged,” has left many questioning whether the country may be in store for a much bigger distraction. Nicaragua could be the answer.

Trump has a habit of casting out shiny objects to lure our attention away from the ever-increasing list of dilemmas he’s been forced to confront since the beginning of his presidency. Last year’s missile strikes on Syria – launched in retaliation for that government’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians – were viewed by many skeptics as manipulative and an effort to demonstrate his willingness to take on Russian interests at a time when he was accused of being a puppet of Vladimir Putin.

The Associated Press reported last summer that at a meeting with his military and national security advisers, Trump floated the idea of invading Venezuela. He believed escalating violence and unrest there posed a national security threat and warranted a swift military response. At a time when special counsel Robert Mueller was ramping up an investigation into Russia’s meddling in our elections.

Many at the meeting, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, were stunned. They made a concerted effort to walk the president back from carrying out such an action, explaining that it might backfire and destroy a decades-long initiative by the U.S. to build good will among governments throughout Latin America.

The president clearly had his own idea. At a press conference soon afterward, Trump told reporters that the U.S. had troops all over the world in distant places and that “Venezuela is not very far away and there are people suffering and dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary.”

Woof.

When addressing the Security Council last week, Ambassador Haley said: “With each passing day, Nicaragua travels further down a familiar path. It is a path that Syria has taken. It is a path that Venezuela has taken.”

Woof. Woof.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia. In a 1986 Washington Post Op-Ed, President Ronald Reagan’s Communications Chief Patrick Buchanan wrote, “If Central America goes the way of Nicaragua, they will be in San Diego.”

Nicaragua is slightly closer to our southern border than Venezuela. Hundreds have been killed there since April, thousands injured, tens of thousands are seeking asylum in Costa Rica. A small number have considered coming here. It might be enough to set off alarm bells, precipitating something tantamount to a national security crisis that by little stretch of the imagination could, with the stroke of a presidential pen, lead to military intervention. To protect our borders, of course. Why wait for a wall to be built when guns are so much more effective?

Covert actions to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua during the 1980’s, as well as questionable activities regarding their funding, came very close to toppling the presidency of Ronald Reagan. When their actions became known to the public, their deception, as well as their lack of transparency and candor got them into trouble. Despite the ethics and legality of what came to be known as the Iran-Contra affair, Reagan administration decisions were rooted in a combination of ideology and realpolitik, not optics.

Commitment to an ideology isn’t in this president’s DNA. Commitment to, and the preservation of, Donald J. Trump is. He loves pretty pictures and staged events that depict him as a decisive leader who keeps promises and gets the job done. He’s a master of reality television. And nothing could be more real – or distracting – than a small televised intervention somewhere south of the border – in the interests of the American people of course. And Donald J. Trump.

Woof. Woof. Woof.

Copyright 2018 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Blair Bess is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer, and columnist. He edits the online blog Soaggragated.com, and can be reached at BBess.soaggragated@gmail.com.

Always Advocating Alan – The 2018 Santa Clarita City Council Election: Who Should You Vote For?

| Meet the Candidates, Opinion | September 13, 2018

As the November 6, 2018 City Council Election draws closer, I frequently ask friends if they are intending to vote. What does not surprise me, is the number of those I speak with who don’t even know Santa Clarita has a city council, or cannot name anyone on it. While I can see some advantages to have such a blissful lack of knowledge, I know several council members who wish I shared such bliss. But, the reality is, since the Santa Clarita City Council has a large influence on all our city resident’s daily lives, we need to pay attention to their decisions.

Since the City of Santa Clarita’s formation in 1987, as a California General Law city, our residents have been represented by a five-member City Council. Every two years, we alternately elect two or three city council members. Currently, our city council members are elected “at-large,” meaning every city resident is given the opportunity to vote on every candidate. This year, there will be three seats up for grabs, currently held by Laurene Weste, Marsha McLean and Bill Miranda. Seats held by Bob Kellar and Cameron Smyth will become available in 2020.

Santa Clarita does not elect a mayor or mayor pro-tem; these are positions chosen amongst the city council itself. Their additional responsibilities include conducting city council meetings and leading various ceremonial occasions. Neither of these two positions is granted any authority in excess of the remaining city council members.

Now comes the challenge, because with 15 candidates on the ballot, it is almost overwhelming. Currently on the ballot is TimBen Boydston, Ken Dean, Jason Gibbs, Brett Haddock, Mathew Hargett, Marsha McLean, Bill Miranda, Sandra Nichols, Cherry Ortega, Logan Smith, Diane Trautman, Sankalp Varma, Sean Weber, Laurene Weste, Paul Wieczorek. (Do not consider the order of candidate names as having any significance other than they are in alphabetical order by last name.) You might be thinking, “Who are these people? What have they done? What do they want to do? How will this election affect my daily life? Whom should I vote for?”

That is precisely why I am writing this “self-help” column. First, I suggest you NOT vote for a candidate because your buddy likes them, their name is familiar, or they are a member of your political party. City councils are intended to be a non-partisan office, and I believe it should stay that way. The best way to make an informed decision on how to cast your ballot is, to listen to the candidates themselves. Determine which of the candidates you perceive will do the best job representing our city, your interests, and our future, and then cast your ballot knowing you are making the best decision possible for your city, yourself and your family.

Since 2006, the Canyon Country Advisory Committee (a division of the Santa Clarita Community Council) has conducted city council election events. For this election cycle, their “meet and greet” format will be used. Each participant will be given the opportunity to introduce themselves, have a 15-minute question and answer session (where audience members come to the microphone and ask the questions they consider most important), and an opportunity to wrap up. With only two CCAC meetings prior to the November election, and a two-hour time limit per meeting, only 10 openings were available. The CCAC Board of Directors made the decision to give priority to the candidates who had chosen to provide a ballot statement. At the Wednesday, September 19 CCAC Meeting, candidates TimBen Boydston, Brett Haddock, Logan Smith, Diane Trautman, and Sankalp Varma will be participating. At the Wednesday, October 17 CCAC Meeting, candidates Jason Gibbs, Bill Miranda, Sandra Nichols, Marsha McLean, and Laurene Weste will be participating.

Both “meet and greet” meetings will be video recorded and uploaded to Youtube. Links to the presentations will be provided on the CCAC Facebook Page, in my subsequent columns in the Gazette, and emailed to CCAC friends and members. But feel free to view the events in person and ask questions you believe are important. CCAC Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Mint Canyon Moose Lodge Banquet Room, 18000 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. Everyone is welcome, and the event is free.

Another great opportunity to see and hear the city council candidates in person will be occurring on October 8, when the College of the Canyons’ Civic Engagement Steering Committee, the Santa Clarita Valley League of Women Voters, and the Canyon Country Advisory Committee will be jointly hosting a Candidate Forum where all 15 candidates have been invited to participate. For this event, all candidates have been asked to provide information about why they should be elected to serve on the city council and what they believe are the top three issues facing Santa Clarita residents today. This information will be provided both online and in print at the forum.

This new and exciting format will be putting forward unique questions to each candidate, generated by the forum steering committee prior to the event. If you have any burning questions you would like raised, please forward the question and the candidate to be queried to alanferdman@yahoo.com and I will be sure to inform the committee of your suggestions. The COC Candidate Forum will be held in the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, located at the College of the Canyons Valencia campus on Monday October 8. The forum itself will take place from 7 to 9 p.m., but if you can be there a little earlier, we would welcome meeting and hearing from you between 6:30 to 7 p.m. This meeting will be live-streamed, as well as video recorded and uploaded to Youtube. Links will be provided on each of the hosts’ Facebook pages. As with the other candidate events described above, everyone is welcome and there is no charge for admission.

Now, I hope you found this information worthwhile, informative, and you have been marking your calendar with these important dates. But in case you forgot, let me help you. Wednesday, September 19 is the First CCAC Meet and Greet, Monday, October 8 is the COC Candidate Forum, Wednesday, October 17 is the second CCAC Meet and Greet, and Tuesday, November 6 is Election Day. On the ballot, you will get to choose candidates for federal, state, and county offices, as well as Santa Clarita City Council choices. Each elected office is important, as decisions made affect our daily lives in some way. Yet, city council members provide representation closest to all of us. Taking a bit of time to find out about our city council candidates and making an informed decision is the hallmark of our great republic. I know I can count on you to make the right decision.

Remembering Some of the Many Priests Who Did Good, Not Evil

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

by Christine Flowers

Father Mychal Judge was a Catholic priest who served as the chaplain for the New York City Fire Department. On Sept. 11, 2001, as word spread about the terror attacks, Father Judge rushed to the North Tower of the World Trade Center and began to pray over the bodies, and administer last rites to those who were dying. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed and sent objects flying into the neighboring building. A large piece of debris hit Father Judge in the head, killing him.

Father Judge exhibited everything that is great about the men who serve in the Roman Catholic Church. He is a saint in all but the strictest terms, his halo made of the dust and glass shards that filled the air on 9/11.

I tell you his story mostly because I want you to remember him, this man who ran into the maelstrom to give comfort during what were his own final hours. I tell you about him because I want you to remember that this is the template of the priests of my faith, the ones who sacrificed their own lives so that others could be brought closer to God.

But I tell you his story for another reason. After weeks of crushing narratives about priests who hurt people, I think it’s important to acknowledge the majority of the men who answered a call. These are men who followed a path that very few are capable of managing with grace, courage, humor, and the indispensable gift of humility.

Before you accuse me of deflection and of an attempt to minimize the pain of abuse victims, you should know that the first version of this column was a reckoning with the institutional church hierarchy for its sins, crimes, and omissions. It was an examination of the accusations against the pope and the suggestion from an Italian archbishop that Francis knew about the victimization of both children and adult seminarians by now-disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. My keyboard came loaded for bear, the calluses on my fingers testify to how hard I pounded away at it.

But then, I took a deep breath and realized that I was one voice among many. Thousands upon thousands have expressed their solidarity with the victims and their fury at the men and women who helped cover up the trail of tears. My own words would simply echo those sympathies.

And so I decided to talk about Mychal Judge, who gave his life for his church and his people. Judge was gay, and struggled to fit into a church that saw homosexuality as evil, but was transformed by the grace of God and the need to create a bridge between that God and the marginalized: sick, homeless, immigrants, the addicted, and those who are gay.

And I decided to talk about Father Frans Van der Lugt, a Jesuit who was murdered when he refused to abandon his small community of Christians in the Syrian town of Homs, a town that was under siege in the ongoing civil war.

And I decided to talk about priests who have been killed by Muslim extremists in France, by terrorists in the Philippines, by drug traffickers in Mexico.

None of this excuses the crimes detailed in the recent grand jury reports. None of this is meant to be a shiny bright thing that steals attention away from the sickening revelations made by Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

This is simply a reminder that there are good men who are unable to speak for themselves because they are silenced by their own sorrow and decency. Even though the crimes were committed by others, often before they themselves were even born, these good priests who stand at the altar and minister to the faithful bear, by proxy, their shame. They have been confronted, like politicians at town hall meetings, by furious parishioners. Some have made public penance, and were met with derision and shouts of “nothing you ever do or say will be enough.”

And the op-ed writers and lawyers and abuse advocates all point fingers and say that only when the constitutions are shredded to eliminate statutes of limitations, and only when we rise up like Martin Luther to drastically change the church, will penance be sufficient.

I’m here to say that as we throw bodies into the mouth of the vengeful beast, we stop and reflect on Mychal Judge and his martyred brothers.

Copyright 2018 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.by

Making Sense – Mr. Trump’s Good Friend Jeff

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

by Michael Reagan

Along with his many other daily Tweet targets, President Trump can’t stop beating up on Jeff Sessions for being a lousy attorney general.

When it comes to Sessions, the president leaves no petty pebble un-thrown.

This week, Trump supposedly was heard telling his aides that he didn’t like Sessions’ Alabama accent or the fact that he didn’t go to an Ivy League school like the president did.

Trump isn’t the only Republican who’s unhappy with Sessions, who obviously should have told the president before he was hired that he was planning to recuse himself from the Russian collusion investigation.

Trump supporters and the conservative media have been clamoring for the president to force Sessions to resign since day one.

They want the president to hire a new attorney general who’ll rein in special counselor Robert Mueller or, better yet, they say, fire him.

They want someone who’ll also name a special counsel to aggressively prosecute Hillary Clinton for destroying her emails, or to fully investigate the political corruption we’ve learned thrived at the top of the Obama administration’s FBI and intelligence agencies.

Any other cabinet member who had been criticized and demeaned so many times in public by his president would have cleared out his desk and left a year ago.

So why hasn’t Sessions resigned?

I think it’s because he is a lot smarter than people – and maybe even the president — think he is.
I think he knows that by staying at his attorney general’s job, he is actually helping President Trump politically.

Sessions, who as a senator was one of Trump’s earliest and most vocal supporters, knows that as soon as he’s gone his boss will appoint a new attorney general whose litmus test would be to promise to fire Robert Mueller ASAP.

Whether Mueller deserves to be fired is not the issue.

Neither is the fact that President Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia to steal the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton or hack the Democrat National Committee’s computers.

But the second Sessions is canned or resigns, the president will be accused of obstructing justice by everyone on the planet except Vladimir Putin.

Democrats, Republicans and the mainstream media will be united against him.

It wouldn’t matter how innocent President Trump is of colluding. It would look like he was trying to obstruct justice.

He’d be severely hurt politically – as would the Republican Party in the midterm elections this fall.

Jeff Sessions has to know all of this.

I think he knows that by not resigning until the Mueller investigation is over he’s protecting the president from himself and from doing major political harm to the GOP.

Despite suffering 18 months of verbal abuse from his tough boss, Sessions just could still be one of President Trump’s best friends.

Copyright 2018 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at sales@cagle.com.

Found the Rhyme But Can’t Find the Reason

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

By: William Tozzi

What is the matter with my country?
Where have things gone so wrong?
What is happening to our land?
Why can’t we all get along?

Why must we always attack each other
whenever we disagree?
When has it become the norm
to award stupidity ?

What has happened to honesty?
Has everyone become a liar?
If you try to tell the truth,
your feet will be held to the fire.

Is there something in the air,
the water, or the food?
Are drugs and medications making all of us
counterfeit and crude?

Has technology superseded
our ability to learn?
Are our brains disintegrating
beyond the point of no return?

America is headed down the tubes,
if we keep up this pace.
Our insanity is transforming this land
into an awful place.

We have to stop blaming each other,
the fault is both yours and mine.
We have to show each other love,
for hate has made us blind.

I don’t want to fight with you,
I want you to be my friend.
I know I cannot change the world,
yet l don’t want it to end.

Still Not Running to MeWe, but Dipping Our Toe in the MeWe Pool

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

by Tammy Messina

Earlier this year we began evaluating social media alternatives to Facebook and Twitter. Facebook had been squelching our reach for nearly a year with no relief in site. And more recently, Twitter wiped out 80 percent (40,000) of our followers with no notice, no explanation. Conservatives are still getting hammered! Thankfully, the free market is at work with various entrepreneurs vying to attract conservative voices.

In the end, it came down to two sites for us: MeWe.com and OneWay.com. Both have an easy to use, robust platform with plenty of activity where you can easily find like-minded people to connect with.

After my previous article, “Why we’re not running to MeWe,” MeWe’s CEO, Mark Weinstein, reached out to us to address some of our concerns about the platform. It’s always good to get information straight from the source, so Joe invited him on The Real Side Radio Show to talk about MeWe.

As previously mentioned, we’ve been on MeWe since 2014, and it is a well-done platform with lots of the features that we’ve come to expect on social media.
My 2 biggest concerns were as follows:

  1. Jonathan Wolfe, listed as co-founder of MeWe in his bio, is uber-Liberal.
  2. MeWe’s Terms of Service specifically prohibiting “hateful” content.

In the interview, Mark addressed both of these concerns, which I’ll summarize as follows:
Jonathan Wolfe has not been a part of MeWe for at least 4 years and is no longer involved in the company. Mark went on to explain that MeWe does not have a political test for people seeking employment and that politics are strictly prohibited in their course of business. MeWe only considers the best person for the job. Wolfe had a specific skillset that was needed and politics were not a factor in that. (You can hear him in his own words ~32 min mark)

The prohibition of “hateful” content still exists in MeWe’s Terms of Service and is intended to target egregious comments. (You can hear him in his own words ~35 min mark)
Jonathan Wolfe has since removed his internet claim as MeWe’s Co-Founder from his website.

It was good to hear that politics are not in play in MeWe’s boardroom decision-making processes and, for now, we’ll have to trust that it will remain that way.
I also spoke extensively with Mark regarding the “hate speech” concern that we and many other conservative online outlets have, and why we have them. Mark was gracious to hear me out and have an open dialogue about it. I’m hopeful that the discussion around this part of their policy will continue into their board room and ultimately be clarified and reflected in their Terms of Service so that conservative media, like ours, can feel confident that time invested building a following on their platform isn’t obliterated in the future by someone who classifies their viewpoint as “hateful” simply because they don’t want others to hear it.

After several discussions with Mark over the past few months, we’ve begun dipping our toes in the MeWe pool. If we decide to do a cannon ball jump in the future, we’ll let you know!

For now, we are working to build on both OneWay and MeWe. Be sure to follow us on whichever you decide is right for you, and let us know what you think about each one.

A big thank you to Mark Weinstein for reaching out to us and for coming on the show to talk with Joe about MeWe and the company’s philosophy. And, for spending an inordinate amount of time answering questions and baring his MeWe soul to me over the phone, on a holiday that would have certainly been better enjoying some family time. You can listen to the episode and decide for yourself.

Substance vs. Style

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

by Stephen Smith

From the musical “Annie”

Scene: There has just been a failed assassination attempt on “Daddy” Oliver Warbucks, a sometimes crude, overbearing, wealthy capitalist, who for the sake of publicity is hosting an orphan for a week. He soon becomes very fond of Annie and proceeds to adopt the waif. The location is inside his lavish mansion. Present are his secretary “Grace,” and of course, “Little Orphan Annie.”

Annie: Who would want to kill Mr. Warbucks?

Grace: The Bolsheviks, dear (Communist/Socialist). He’s living proof that the American system really works, and the Bolsheviks don’t want anyone to know about that.

Annie: The Bolsheviks? Leapin’ lizards!

Me: “Leapin’ lizards!” indeed. A man, whose style and personality are very much in line with President Donald Trump, is being attacked by the Bolsheviks among us (leftist progressives/socialist). Of course, the modern Bolsheviks are attacking all who self-identify with Americas founders and who also reject the misbegotten ideas of Karl Marx. Social media providers such as Facebook, Twitter and others are seemingly going after the well-reasoned, thoughtful and caring people like Denis Prager. They are calling traditional American Constitutional and Judeo/Christian presentations as hate speech and blocking them. The series of remarkable 5 minuet videos produced by Prager University can be found at https://www.prageru.com. I encourage you to look at them, especially if you consider yourself a progressive. The service is free.

Public supporters of the president are being harassed when they are in public places, even while having dinner with their families. These actions are being encouraged by public officials such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The chairman to the California Democrat Party recently tweeted calling for a boycott of In-N-Out Burgers. Their crime? They donated to the California Republican Party. Of course, they also donated to the Democrats. There have been leftist organized violent protests on our campuses to prevent conservative voices from being heard. The list goes on and on. “Leapin’ lizards!” indeed.

I admit it. I am, perhaps too much, greatly disturbed by the rise of the advocacy for socialism in America. The Democrat party has become unrecognizable in comparison to the days of John F. Kennedy’s “Camelot” presidency. The races for the Governorship of Florida and the Federal Senate race in Arizona have avowed socialists running against more traditional conservatives. Most expect these races will devolve into a proxy war of President Trump vs. Bernie Sanders. Not my idea of healthy politics. I believe the issues will end being more about personality than the substance of the proven success of the American system vs. the evil results of socialism as most recently demonstrated in Venezuela. What ever happened to debating policy?

I have come to believe that the most difficult public reactions against the president are based on style. Recently, during the retrospectives on the remarkable life of Senator John McCain, Fox News replayed a town hall where a female constituent was attacking then President Obama and asked how we can get rid of him because he really was an Arab. Senator McCain immediately interrupted her and said President Obama was a good, polite man who loved his family and the country. The Senator said that he just had disagreements on the substance of his policies. Senator John McCain so admired Obama’s class and style in dealing with foreign and domestic issues, that he asked him to speak at his funeral. In other statements, Senator McCain indicated that in his opinion, the offensive Style of President Trump disqualified him from office and he did not wish President Trump to be seen or heard at his funeral. Trump’s current policies and substance have mostly been consistent with McCain’s over the years.

Objections to President Trump’s style are pervasive and heard from all sides of the political spectrum.

With the Democrats moving more and more to the left, the only alternative to the new Bolsheviks is embracing the substance embodied in the American economic system which happens to be supported by President Trump. It may be necessary to vote for a candidate with a personal style that many find objectionable, however, one who supports the dreams of our founders. The alternative would be to support a candidate who has charm and charisma but worships the profoundly misbegotten ideals of Karl Marx. Style vs. substance. It will be up to “We the People” come the next election. “Leapin’ lizards!” Indeed.

Editorial Cartoons

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

Letters to the Editor

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

The article about Monitoring Traffic from the Bowels of City Hall by Lee Barnathan in Issue 1042 of the Santa Clarita Gazette was informative. However, there is always seem to a however isn’t there! However, the article should have included how to contact Mr. Romo if you have a comment regarding traffic signal operation within the city.
-Jimmie Haralson

Dear Editor:
I’ve worked as a school teacher for 23 years. My husband was a teacher for 10 years. When he went up to Sacramento to represent us, he knew what it was like to teach and how important education is for our children.
While there, my husband, Steve Fox, got the new funding formulas passed whereby our area got a greater portion of the educational state budget.
Now he wants to increase the electives and after school activities in our schools. He wants to increase funding in our community college so it’s not so impossible to get into a class and he would lik to increase the trade classes so a graduate can get a job when they leave the institution.
If you want our children to have a chnace and a good future, then vote for my husband, Steve Fox, for State Assembly.
-Sharon Fox

Always Advocating Alan – Remembering September 11, 2001: We Must Never Forget

| Opinion | September 6, 2018

As I sat at my keyboard staring at a new American flag, I was thinking about what the subject of this week’s column would be, when I came to realize you would be reading my words on the Friday prior to September 11. While that day has a lot of meaning for my wife and I, I often wonder what our young adults truly know about the events which occurred on that fateful day. Have their parents spoke with them about their feelings when the towers came crashing down? Is the September 11 terrorist attack a topic discussed in school? Do they know almost 3,000 innocent people lost their lives and an additional 6,000 plus were injured by this terrorist attack on American soil? It concerns me, because even though the event is burned in my memory, as vividly as if it happened yesterday, I realize our new voters have no first-hand memory of September 11, 2001 at all.

From my perspective, I was a World War II baby, born just one year after America’s official entry into the conflict. Yet, even without personal involvement, I was brought up and made aware of the times, with stories on television, in school and at home, about Pearl Harbor, the war in Europe, the Holocaust, and the war in the Pacific. There were heroes all around me. My biological father served as a U.S. Army Medic in France and passed away shortly after his return from Europe. My adoptive father served in the Pacific with the Navy and his brother was an Army B-29 Navigator instructor. My parents never pushed it on me, but I remember going through the bookcase filled with books about Jewish events in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. History became even more real to me after moving to California. I was almost a teenager and we lived down the street from a wonderful elderly European couple who had numbers tattooed on their arms. I knew what that meant, but I never asked about it, until one day when they decided to share a small portion of their experiences. As a young adult, I worked alongside an engineer who was originally from Southeast France and had been conscripted into the Luftwaffe as an anti-aircraft gunner, and a U.S. Navy Veteran who was an Arizona Pearl Harbor survivor. It could be my experiences and the knowledge I gained fueling my concern about American history not currently being adequately taught in our schools and universities, because knowing what happened in the past gives us a clearer understanding of what is happening today, and allows us to strive for a better tomorrow.

Most of us who experienced September 11 as an adult know exactly where we were and what we were doing on that morning. I was getting ready for work, and as usual was watching the morning news, when to my disbelief, we were shown footage of a commercial airliner crashing into the World Trade Center. Then, if that was not bad enough, we watched live as a second plane crashed into the other tower, and a little over an hour and a half later, both towers pancaked down to the ground. A third plane crashed into the outer ring of the Pentagon, and a forth hijacked airliner was brought down in Pennsylvania by the passengers in a heroic attempt to regain control of the aircraft.

With all phone lines busy, I was unable to reach JPL, so I drove there and found out the facility was closed and on lock down. Listening to the news on the way home, I heard many governmental facilities were shut down as well, our skies had been cleared of all commercial and general aviation aircraft, and military jets were on patrol. For that uncertain length of time, the United States was closer to being on a homeland war footing than I had ever experienced in my adult life. I was angry and frustrated. How could our aviation experts have not proactively put safeguards in place to prevent this from happening? I was determined to do something to show my solidarity with the rest of the country.

Up until September 11, 2001, I was one of many who would get out their American flag on holidays and put it on display in front of my house. But right at that moment, I realized it was not enough, and decided an American Flag would fly in front of my house 365 days a year. Just like our brave men and women in uniform who defend our country, my flag flies day and night, no matter the weather. Each flag serves an enlistment of a year, and throughout its service, it becomes frayed and torn, and reminds me of the difficult job our service men and women perform around the world. Each year, on the morning of September 11, a new flag is raised to begin the cycle anew. I do not retire my flags. They are marked to show the year they served, and it is hoped they will someday fly again. They are provided a place of honor in my office, next to an American Flag flown over the capital. For the first several years after September 11, 2001, numerous events of remembrance were held each year. On the 10-year anniversary, our local Elks Lodge held a commemorative event and my 10 flags were proudly on display.

Unfortunately, as time has passed, there have become fewer instances of commemorative events on September 11. But, we must never forget. World War II greatly changed the world. With the advent of nuclear weapons, another World War is unthinkable. Yet, as a country, we cannot sit back and expect to have time to react in the event of major aggression. An ocean no longer provides us with a high level of protection. Today, the world has changed again. The enemies of freedom and democracy are coming at us with less sophisticated attack methodologies. They believe they can destroy our confidence and our resolve to fight back.

On September 11, 2001 the United States was put on notice. Those who wish us harm will use unconventional methods to accomplish their evil goal by targeting innocent civilians. Remembering the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon can serve as a reminder for our country to always stay vigilant in determining ways to keep our population safe.

To help us “never forget,” my flags, like the patriots on United Airlines Flight 93, are always ready to answer the call. May God Bless America, and keep the United States the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.”

Google Politically Incorrect? Search Me.

| Opinion | August 31, 2018

The White House has launched a new salvo in its ongoing assault on the media and free speech. Instead of railing against newspapers and cable news channels, Donald J. Trump’s ire is now being directed at Google.

Somehow the president’s gotten it into his head that the search engine’s algorithms are “rigged.” He’s convinced that whenever anyone inputs “Trump news,” only negative stories – the ubiquitous “fake news” stories – about him rise to the top.

It’s a little unclear how the president’s developed this theory, although his favorite “real news” channel, Fox, had reported similar claims early Tuesday morning. If Mr. Trump was more adept at using computers, he might realize that sites linked to “real news” organizations tend to take precedence over blogs and conservative opinion sites.

The president’s aversion to email and computers is well-known. It appears his only nod to technology manifests itself in his compulsive urge to tweet whatever happens to be on his mind. If he was truly concerned about the negative coverage he invites, he might re-think some of the actions he takes and statements he makes. Major news organizations are focused on fact, not fiction.

Late on Tuesday, the president said, “Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory. And they have to be careful.”

That may not sound like a threat, but nothing the administration does should be taken at face value. Mr. Trump’s ongoing assaults on the media and his obsessive attempts to employ government agencies – including the FCC, the IRS, and the Department of Justice – to bend established norms is on display for all the world to see on an almost-daily basis. Presidential musings are often menacing and meant to intimidate; rarely are they oblique.

Portions of a pair of Tuesday’s Trump Tweets read as follows: “They are controlling what we can and cannot see. This is a very serious situation – will be addressed!” He also queried of algorithm-driven search results: “Illegal?”

Realistically, the only thing the president wants anyone to see is what he wants us to see: good news about Trump, 24/7. Anything else should be outlawed. Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow stated that the White House is “taking a look” at whether or how Google should be regulated by the government.

Republicans, as a rule, do not believe in government overreach. They find excessive rules and over-regulation abhorrent. So, it should come as no surprise that they and their Democratic nemeses actually agreed in pointing out that government has no place monitoring search results or regulating online content. Nor did advocates of free speech –both conservative and progressive – or the folks in Silicon Valley.

Several weeks back, an internal letter – made available to The New York Times – circulated among Google employees that voiced concerns over the company’s willingness to adhere to censorship requirements “that raise urgent moral and ethical issues.”

Google’s employees were responding to the company’s decision to secretly build a censored version of its search engine for China. Which, if Mr. Trump had his way, is exactly what he would have Google do for all of us here at home.

Most Americans don’t understand what bots are. We don’t quite get trolling. For many, cookies are something that make us gain weight; not annoying tech tidbits whose purpose is to clutter our computer screens with useless junk and unwanted ads. We may not understand how algorithms work or how invasive revolutionary forms of artificial intelligence programs are fast becoming. It sounds a bit ominous. You can almost understand how it makes the president a little crazy.

Enduring nuisances and sensory overload is a necessary evil when consumers opt to use search engines like Google. As bad as it may be, however, it’s a lot better than having Big Brother – or Donald J. Trump – dictate what we can and cannot see, hear or think.

Do You Really Want Democratic Socialism?

| Opinion | August 31, 2018

By Rick Jensen 

Heading into the midterms, it’s a good idea to take stock of what you really want and don’t want from “your” government.

Do you want the government to actually control the day-to-day operations of major business enterprises?

Then the “Democratic Socialist” candidate is for you.

As socialism enthusiast Erlend Kulander Kvitrud writes at Medium, “ ‘Democratic socialism’ is just a straight forward way of referring to ‘a democracy, leaning towards the socialist bound of the capitalist -socialist spectrum’. It is exactly what it sounds like: A system where major corporation (sic) are controlled by the government, while the government in turn is controlled by the people. That way the people have de facto control of the major corporations, using the government as an intermediary who manage and coordinate the daily operation of these corporations.”

Sounds lovely, eh?

But who would you rather like running an auto manufacturing company – someone who worked their way up in the industry, curating their experiences into effective management and company growth, or a partisan appointee with all the business experience of a Bernie Sanders?

Ironically, Kvitrud was writing in opposition to University of Georgia Economics Professor Jeffrey Dorfman’s delightfully well-written article, “Sorry Bernie Bros but the Nordic Countries are Not Socialist.”

Kvitrud takes exception when it comes to Norway, explaining that the Norwegian government uses a number of methods to control its citizens,
most notably the stock market.

The Norwegian government, he explains, buys at least a 33 percent share of stocks in the major corporations the politicians decide they want to control. With such power on the board, they can decide how the company is run.

Peachy.

So, what is it Dorfman wrote that is so pertinent and disturbing to socialists?

“To the extent that the left wants to point to an example of successful socialism, not just generous welfare states, the Nordic countries are actually a poor case to cite,” Dorfman wrote. “Regardless of the perception, in reality the Nordic countries practice mostly free market economics paired with high taxes exchanged for generous government entitlement programs.”

This part seems to be infuriating: “Nordic countries were economic successes before they built their welfare states. Those productive economies, generating good incomes for their workers, allowed the governments to raise the tax revenue needed to pay for the social benefits. It was not the government benefits that created wealth, but wealth that allowed the luxury of such.”

Sweden offers school vouchers to all.

Could you image Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Kerri Harris embracing Sweden’s school vouchers for all? Their patrons at the National Education Association, the “Big Education” union, would pull hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars and give each one an “F.”

Dorfman states Scandinavian unions are powerful and the government does not control the outcome of negotiations. That’s an important point. Socialists want the government to provide an equal outcome for everyone, using its taxing authority to create a workers’ paradise.

In socialist countries such as Venezuela and Cuba, these supposed outcomes are enforced through coercion, fear and violence. In the U.S, the promise is for equal opportunity, not equal outcome.

In capitalist countries such as ours, people respond to the success of others with either envy and hatred or inspiration toward success.

So, do you want equal opportunity with reasonable regulations and an economy where you have opportunities or do you want equal outcomes where your taxes are increased dramatically to ensure others have what you have and that you have what others have, or least close to it?

Dorfman points out that the Nordic countries are not all democratic socialist and that, Norwegian stock market control notwithstanding, beefy social programs would not exist without capitalism.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Your choice.

Copyright 2018 Rick Jensen, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rick Jensen is an annoying, award-winning Delaware talk show host and equally annoying national columnist. Email rick@DBCMedia.com.

Purging the Church’s Predatory Priests

| Opinion | August 30, 2018

By Michael Reagan

Am I the only Catholic who thinks the church needs to consider getting rid of the old guard – all the way up to the Pope?

That may be the only way to finally purge the predatory priests who have been allowed to exist within the bowels of the Catholic Church for so long.

The church has been rocked in recent years by sexual abuse scandals in Ireland, Australia, Chile, Boston, LA …

Then two weeks ago we got the shocking results of the country’s largest investigation ever into the sex crimes of Catholic priests.

A grand jury in Pennsylvania identified more than 300 “predator priests” in six dioceses who over the course of 70 years had molested and raped nearly 1,000 children, mostly boys.

The bombshell report named the priests who had been caught abusing kids, and in graphic and sordid detail it described what they did – again and again, even after their superiors learned of their molesting.

According to the grand jury report, the priests’ serial sexual abuse was only possible because of a church-wide cover up that reached all the way to the Vatican.

The scandal in Pennsylvania is the familiar horror story: The children who were victimized were not believed while the pedophile priests were protected by the church.

The priests were not defrocked, not reported to police and were often moved to other parishes where their history of abuse was kept quiet and they were able to prey on more children.
As usual, the Vatican’s PR machine said all the right things.

A spokesman expressed “shame and sorrow” and decried the pattern of abuse and coverup in Pennsylvania as “criminally and morally reprehensible.” He said the abuse “robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith.

Earlier this week Pope Francis himself issued a letter in seven languages admitting the church had shamefully failed to protect or care for “the little ones,” whose pain “was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.”

No kidding.

The pope also vowed to prevent further cover-ups of what he correctly called “crimes” and promised accountability for the abusers — and those above them who permitted the abuse to continue or covered it up.

That sounded good, but at least one Cardinal, Sergio Obeso Rivera of Mexico, didn’t get the message.

Obeso Rivera said this week that victims of priestly sexual abuse – i.e., children – should be “ashamed” to accuse “men of the church.”

Maybe something the cardinal said was lost in translation, but if Pope Francis is serious about cleaning up the church it has to get rid of men like Obeso Rivera.

It’s his generation that has been protecting pedophile priests for decades.

It’s because of old men like him that the people in the pews don’t believe the church is ever going to do what it should to solve its predatory priest problem.

It’s because of old men like the Mexican cardinal that the church is fighting for a statute of limitations on filing child sexual abuse charges instead of fighting to have no statute of limitations on sex abuse at all.

There’s no statute of limitations for murder and there shouldn’t be one for child molesting.
The molesting of a child is the murdering of a soul. I know from experience that when a young boy is molested, as I was by a camp counselor in 1953, it is something that affects you for the rest of your life.

Maybe the Catholic Church needs to start with a clean slate.

It does no good for the pope to meet with kids who’ve been sexually abused and tell them how sorry he is when he has old cardinals in power like Obeso Rivera who believe it’s the child’s fault.

If the pope doesn’t have the guts to take away the red cap, the miter, from a Mexican cardinal who makes that kind of idiotic statement, then maybe the pope needs to be replaced also.

Copyright 2018 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at sales@cagle.com.

The Brown Act, Wildfires, and Positive Results

| Opinion | August 30, 2018

On August 17, my wife Pam and I celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary, but due to other obligations, we were prevented from making it a really special occasion. So this week, we are going to make up for it and escape Santa Clarita by spending a weekend in Pismo. It is an area we love to visit, and we have always preferred staying in one of the two older motels at the end of Main Street, right on the beach. The location puts us one block from the pier, restaurants, Harry’s Bar, and as I’ve always joked, within crawling distance of the local Moose Lodge. This lodge is a truly unique place. The locals are friendly, and you can spend time sitting at the bar, gazing through the picturesque windows out across the beach and ocean. As you can imagine, we are looking forward to a romantic and relaxing weekend, while enjoying each other’s company, reminiscing about days past, and making future plans. All while separated from the political drama, which will be continuing back home in Santa Clarita.

In my last column, after seeing a Signal article reporting a majority of our city council members had attended a private roundtable discussion about wildfire prevention, I posed a question to city staff asking whether the meeting should have been subject to the Brown Act, requiring it to be formally noticed and open to the public. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Brown Act, let me put it in layman’s terms. Typically called the “California Open Meetings Law,” the Brown Act was put in place to require municipalities, other elected bodies, commissions and certain committees, to discuss issues and make decisions openly in front of the public. Ms. Lujan, communications manager for the City of Santa Clarita, provided an explanation indicating, “The meeting in question with Secretary Purdue and Congressman Knight does not fall within the requirements for a Brown act notice meeting by the local jurisdiction, as the subject of management, safety and prevention of wildfires on federal land is not within the subject matter jurisdiction of the city council.”

Using the criteria referenced, Ms. Lujan is absolutely correct, but what triggered my concern points out why municipalities have to be extremely careful. My question resulted from reading a Signal article, dated August 15 written by Crystal Duan, which simply stated the discussion was about “wildfire solutions” and quoted Mayor Weste and Mayor Pro-Tem McLean speaking about city issues.

Yet, problems related to perceptions of Brown Act violations are not an issue isolated to Santa Clarita alone. It was just the beginning of this July, when the Ventura County Star reported, the Ventura County “DA looking into whether majority of the Simi Valley City Council violated open meeting law.” Chuck Hughes, a Ventura County Chief Deputy District Attorney and a Brown Act specialist, stated, “In general, when a majority of a legislative body is together and discussing or hearing about issues that the legislative body would normally address, the Brown Act is potentially triggered. There are notice requirements and various exceptions that may or may not apply.”

Taking in all that advice, we still do not know what specifically was discussed at the “roundtable discussion,” other than the few quotes reported, so let’s leave the Brown Act applicability issue and potential violations to the legal eagles and Facebook contributors.

My main concern when I saw the Signal article, was: “What does the City of Santa Clarita plan to do in order to minimize the potential risk of wildfires, within the city itself and on the property which it owns?” Wildfires are not something new to the Santa Clarita Valley. If you lived here long enough you may remember the mid-70s, when a brush fire started in Sylmar and burned its way to the ocean, while at the same time burning north almost all the way to Rosemond. The fire’s path went right through what is now the city of Santa Clarita.

That week, I happened to be out at Willow Springs Raceway working with a group of Four Aces Race Club members readying the track and surrounding area to host our Motorcycle Grand Prix. It was a time before the internet and cell phones. My wife and two young sons were back at home in Santa Clarita, and as the fire approached, Pam called the Highway Patrol, telling them my location and asking then to notify me about what was going on. I immediately headed back toward Santa Clarita. I traveled on the freeway until I encountered a road block, then took back roads until I could get back on the freeway, and I eventually worked my way back home. When I crossed Soledad and Sierra Highway, the fire was burning on both sides of the road. I was lucky to get back home and never considered the potential danger involved. You may also remember, around 10 years ago, when a much smaller fire started on Sierra Highway toward Agua Dulce and worked its way through Santa Clarita easements. Ultimately, several homes were destroyed above North Oaks Park. Both fires were primarily fed by dry brush, which indicates the need for our community to be concerned, and for our local officials to take appropriate action to keep our communities safe.

With the city having established an Open Space and Parkland Preservation District, with the goal of establishing a “Green Belt” around the city consisting of land maintained in its natural state, we must realize by doing so, a fire fuel source has been permanently added on the border of our community. Each year during the rainy season, and hopefully we will have another good rainy season soon, we witness new life spring forth from the ground and generate a beautiful green ground cover, which unfortunately turns into dry dead brush in the heat of summer.

While the public has not been made aware of the “Wildfire Round table” discussion content, the fact the discussion took place demonstrates the need for governmental meetings to be open and informative. Certainly, planning for public safety should not be accomplished behind closed doors. It would be in all our best interest if the City of Santa Clarita would host its own “Open Community Meeting” and discuss what actions have been implemented to reduce the risk of wildfires in our city. Perhaps it is time to discuss firebreaks between city-owned open space and populated areas, thinning out some of the fuel sources, along with the establishment of additional maintained fire roads, including water sources to enable firefighters to quickly knock down fire outbreaks before they become out of control wildfires.

No matter what happens next related to the Brown Act, all actions taken to mitigate the dangers posed by wildfires to the City of Santa Clarita should be considered a positive outcome. It is always a good idea for city officials to present their action plans and listen to public opinion. Let’s hope the city schedules an “Open Community Meeting” on this issue soon. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there also.

For Manafort and Cohen, the Truth and Nothing But the Truth

| Opinion | August 24, 2018

There may be hope for the American judicial system. The felony convictions of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is evidence of this, as is the plea agreement of former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen.

Despite the incoherent ramblings of one-time law and order advocate Rudy Giuliani, the truth is the truth.

Despite being unable to convict Manafort on all 18 counts for which he was charged, a jury of twelve Americans weighed the evidence against him and agreed with the government’s assessment that he was guilty of committing serious crimes. That he was not telling the truth.

Despite Cohen’s long-ago willingness to “take a bullet” for Trump, the consequences of actions he took on Trump’s behalf were cause enough for him to plead guilty to eight criminal counts – including election law violations – and tell the truth.

In his riveting book “On Tyranny,” author Timothy Snyder writes, “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom… If nothing is true [as Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump insist], then all is spectacle.”

The Trump presidency is certainly that. As was the now-defunct Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Trump continues to mislead. He continues to lie. He continues to speak anything but the truth.

In the wake of Manafort’s conviction on eight counts of criminal misconduct, Trump called the newly-convicted felon “a good man.” Just as he refers to white nationalists as “fine people.” He reiterated that the Manafort trial had “nothing to do with Russian collusion.” No one suggested it did.

Manafort was convicted on tax evasion and bank fraud charges, and lying about having bank accounts in foreign countries. Whether Manafort is also guilty of being involved in activities related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election and acting as a foreign agent remains for another jury to decide next month.

“No collusion, no collusion, no collusion,” Trump drones repetitively.

Snyder’s book notes that Victor Klemperer, a renowned German scholar who witnessed the rise of the Third Reich, wrote that this type of “endless repetition” is meant to “make the fictional plausible and the criminal desirable.” It is fascistic in nature and tyrannical in intent.

Trump and his minions would have us believe that verifiable facts are a distortion of reality, his reality, and that anyone who says otherwise – meaning the press and the opposition – is an “enemy of the people.”

At one of his Munich-like pep rallies in Kansas City last month, Trump told attendees, “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news… what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

That’s right. Don’t believe your own eyes and ears. You’re hallucinating.

When presented with cold hard facts, twelve jurors independently and collectively reached the conclusion that Manafort lied. Through their deliberations, they uncovered the truth. Not the truth according to Trump. The real truth.

In Cohen’s case, the president himself has been implicated in criminal behavior. Cohen told a court that his felony campaign law violations were made in “coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” Meaning, Trump. He did so for “the principal purpose of influencing the election.” This is not “deep state,” this is truth, sworn to under oath.

Trump also took an oath: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” He consistently thumbs his nose at that very Constitution and, by extension, the people he was elected to serve. He might eventually be named an unindicted co-conspirator for two of the felony charges to which Cohen pled.

Many Americans have been lulled into complacency by Trump’s exhortation that he alone can solve the nation’s ills. It’s worked on those Republican members of Congress who’ve abrogated their constitutional responsibilities. Like many of his followers, they have bought into Trump’s cult of personality and a fictional narrative rife with “alternative facts” and lies, one that is antithetical to the foundations of our democracy. That is a truth for which they will eventually be held accountable by the people they serve.

The truth will, in all probability, not set Manafort and Cohen free. But it should send a very clear message to Donald J. Trump that no one is above the law. Not even those closest to him. Trump, however, can’t handle the truth. Nor, it would appear, can his most ardent supporters.
Copyright 2018 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Blair Bess is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer, and columnist. He edits the online blog Soaggragated.com, and can be reached at BBess.soaggragated@gmail.com.

Looking at Life Through Instagram-Filtered Glasses

| Opinion | August 23, 2018

By Keenan O’Connell

Have you ever seen one those balls of dirt that have been rubbed and polished into a shiny marble-like orb? If not, then a quick web search for something called “Dorodango” should have you mildly amused for the next five or so minutes.

Are you back? Great! I’m glad you remembered the article. Pretty neat dirt ball, huh? Well, what if I told you there was a way to figuratively replicate this process, using similar tactics, to become a superstar with countless adoring fans (or at least look like one)?

First, you’ll need a smart phone capable of using the most popular social media apps such as: Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, etc. Second you’ll need a clever username that really catches the eye; a name like “CLOUT_DADDy_69 or dABS_oN_sIGHT_273” should really do the trick.

And last, but certainly not least, you’re going to need a seemingly unending supply of cash flow to fund: a lifestyle of consistent physical fitness and self-care to achieve “attractiveness,” constant travel and participation in expensive/interesting looking activities, and a WHOLE lot of friends who don’t appreciate you as much without your stacks and stacks of green. So that’s basically it, enjoy your life of stardom!

Wait, what’s wrong? Oh, you don’t really have that last one, do you? Well, neither do I, so I guess we’ll just sit here and feel anguish because we’re not the lucky few that do.

But do we have to? I say no, we don’t. I say we don’t have to be anxious for not appearing to be as popular as these social media savants. Because the truth is, if you were to actually meet one of these “Insta-Stars,” I imagine it would be like breaking open one of those Dorodango dirt balls; no actual precious substance inside – just disappointment and dirt. And just like those who craft the Dorodango balls, these “Twitter-Technicians” have meticulously shaped their average-ness into a glimmering beacon of social media excellency.

And once they gain more and more popularity, then their image is plastered everywhere, constantly providing feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy in the minds of our generation. I believe these fake gold idols have easily contributed to increasing levels of high anxiety and depression present in today’s youth. Now the point of the article isn’t to say “Phone & Social Media = bad,” because I don’t believe that.
I would just like you to maybe change the way you see these “Snapchat-Scavengers.”

Anytime you see an extremely popular profile, remember that the person you see isn’t real, but in fact a made up representation of what the person wants you to believe they are. If you were to believe these people are actually perfect, then you should also believe that Leonardo DiCaprio was really on the Titanic and Kevin James can actually run for more than two minutes at a time. View it as entertainment, not an expectation of what you should be doing with your life. I know for a fact that you, the reader, are capable of creating so much more genuine substance and personality in your life, and when you do the next time a friend sees you in person, they’ll be surprised with what they haven’t seen before on social media.

So even when you happen to stumble upon a perfectly sculpted online persona, just remember: you have the ability to just as be just as interesting and prized as they are. But what’s even more important to remember, is that you are worthy of the same amount of love and respect that they receive, without a Dorodango doubt. Thanks for reading.

Letters to the Editor

| Opinion | August 23, 2018

My Dream Came True
After four-plus years of searching and waiting, I was finally able to meet three of the five-man crew that answered the call after I had been hit by a car (in 1982).

This search began back in 2014 as I was working on my memoir, Because It didn’t Kill Me… In the book, I had acknowledged those who had anything to do with my accident, whether they had seen my accident, assisted me in recovery, or were just a comforting friend. However, there were five heroes I never got to thank – until Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

After many questions to the retired and active firemen, searches in the archives, and scheduling and rescheduling of this reunion, I was finally able to meet three of the five heroes; Gary Dellamalva, Jim Bettencourt, and Pete Casamassima. Terry Butler and Rich Ward were unable to make it.

I extend my deepest gratitude to all the firefighters at Fire Station 107; Matt Winters for finding their names; Community Services Liaison, Maria Grycan and Chief Mackey for arranging the meeting at Fire Station 107. Also, many thanks to Captain Cervantes and his crew for hosting this memorable event.

Also, a special thanks to Doug and Jeannie Sutton and Martha Michael for their coverage of this event, as well as Channel 5 news and Fox Channel 11’s Susan Hirasuna for her great coverage of and reporting on this story. Finally, I would like to thank my book coach, Judith Cassis for her guidance and direction in writing my story.
– Christine Hermann

Dear Gazette Editor,
About a year ago there was the infamous Charlottesville riots. It was an Armageddon clash between Neo-Nazis and those who deem themselves as “anti-fascists.” There were multiple injuries, and at least one person on the anti-fascist side lost their life. This was a huge tragedy – and not just for the senseless violence. The narrative got completely muddled. People seem to be under the false impression that anybody who fights against Nazis is automatically a good person. This is NOT true! The group of people on the “anti-fascist” side at the Charlottesville riots were a notorious organization known as Antifa! Antifa is a social Marxist domestic terrorist group consisting of a bunch of thugs who violently riot against people who are politically to the right of them. This includes orthodox conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals, and even Milo Yiannopoulos – a flamboyantly gay man (who is half Jewish). In other words, you don’t have to be a real Neo-Nazi to feel the wrath of Antifa. If you’re a typical moderate conservative – like thousands of people are – you’ve already made Antifa’s crap list! Antifa hates anybody who is not a far leftist. They deem anybody who is not on the far-left as a “Neo-Nazi,” and they use this as justification to go out and attack them. A quick google search of Antifa will bring up many incidents where they used violence and intimidation to try and silence people they hate.

Ironically, Antifa uses the same tactics that the Nazis used in Germany from 1933-1945. Antifa uses violence, censorship and intimidation to get what they want. Nazis and Social Marxists/Communists are two sides of the same coin. There is virtually no difference in their tactics. Antifa, in a twisted sense of irony, is actually a fascist group! Antifa is not some heroic organization standing up to mean Nazis. Antifa is a filthy and disgusting social Marxist organization consisting of violent brainless cretins. The world isn’t divided into good guys and Nazis. Don’t forget that Joseph Stalin was just as big of a psychopath as Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin is responsible for the death of millions of people, and he was firmly a man who we today consider a far leftist. We must condemn both the far-right Neo-Nazis and the far-left social Marxists/Antifa.

The Weimar Republic – Germany’s government in the 1920s – witnessed a power struggle between Nazis and Communists. It’s unwise to assume that Germany would’ve been better off if the Communists were the ones who came out victorious. We can see from the history of the Soviet Union that the German people would’ve been greatly oppressed if they had adopted Marxism. I’m not defending Nazis by any means (I’m Jewish). Nazis are despicable! However, I’m trying to convey that Germany would’ve been in great danger no matter what happened. I hope we can learn a valuable lesson from history: don’t automatically assume those who deem themselves “anti-fascists” are good. Sensible people must stand up to the far-right AND the far-left. The far-left shouldn’t be given a pass! I’m sorry for the length of this, but I felt it the public should be aware of the true fight that is taking place in the political realm right now.
– Eric

Dear Editor
I want to commend former Assembly member Steve Fox for his proposed program to protect our children’s school.

Fox wants the State to allocate funds to put cameras in each school so that danger to our children can be spotted and prevented.

Fox also wants to put metal detectors in our schools. If metal detectors are good enough for protecting our airlines, the surely they are good enough to protect our children. Fox wants Sheriffs to be constantly on patrol of our schools.

Thank you Steve Fox for fighting to protect our children.
-Marie Brown

Do You Love Your Country More Than You Hate Donald Trump?

| Opinion | August 23, 2018

by Stephen Smith

So, you say you hate President Donald Trump. He certainly is different than any president we have experienced recently. He went to Wharton School of Business in Pennsylvania. While there, Donald Trump was learning how to take advantage of our many free market opportunities to, create wealth, employ thousands, embrace capitalism, be a good corporate citizen and love America. Oh, yes – and have some fun along the way. At the same time many of our political pundits, politicians and other Harvard types were being taught the advantages of Marxism/Socialism, elitism, political correctness, dependent, entitled populations and the tactics of Saul Alinsky. In addition to being taught the evils of limited government, the hatred of capitalism and how to thwart the will of the people through activist courts. One might consider reading “Harvard Hates America” by John LeBoutillier.

President Trump doesn’t understand that if he is being viciously attacked, he should not respond. It just is not who he is to turn the other cheek. He is a common man of the streets who hits back as hard as he can when struck. He is a businessman and entrepreneur; therefore, he has lived a life of self-promotion. For Donald Trump, the twitter world was a gift from God. He speaks without reflection or editing, therefore he sometimes gets facts wrong. The benefit is that you always know where he is coming from. He embraces the people that cling to their guns and religion. His instincts are extraordinarily perceptive. Although you will never see it on CNN or MSNBC, he has been proven right countless times. There are reports coming out that the Chinese are seeing him as a tactical genius who is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.

Donald Trump is a human being, and thus he is flawed. Despite the never-ending rhetoric in the media, he is not a racist or a Nazi. The accusations regarding racism are without factual foundation. Hitler and Joseph Goebbels once said that if you tell a lie often enough, the people will start believing it. So, it is with Trumps news coverage. The Nazi’s were socialist and not capitalist. Hitler was a fascist dictator. Trump has been reducing central government control and power over the people through the ending of unnecessary regulations. He has been encouraging capitalism and has been allowing us to keep more of our own earned treasure. Trump understands the value of a limited government which guarantees our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, and that it can only work with a capitalist form of economics.

Here it is. I admit that President Trump has his flaws and weaknesses. I know that he has a personality that clashes, with how many on both sides of the aisle expect a president to behave. He is not professorial, speaks like a common man and not like the ruling elite. He would rather act and see if it works than engage in endless discussions. Politically correct, he ain’t.

The elephant in the room question is this:

Do you love your country more than you hate Donald Trump?

If you do, back off and try to start praising the good. The economy is firing on all cylinders. Opportunities and employment for Hispanics, blacks and women have never been better. Trade deals are progressing nicely, even if you do not understand the tactics. You do not even have to assign credit. Just enjoy it. Don’t be a hater like Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, when referring to America recently said, “It never was that great.” His retraction sounded disingenuous. Even in its failings, America has been great. Yes, we had slavery, however in their wisdom our founders put us on a path where we could and did change it. Remarkable. Our country was the first on earth that was founded on an idea that the people should be protected from their government, live in freedom, liberty and pursue their own financial security, destiny and of course happiness.

In closing, I recommend letting go and enjoying the ride. Consider it an opportunity to learn more about conservative thinking. Did you know our founders considered themselves to be radicals? You can start by reading a remarkable book “The 5000 Year Leap” by W. Cleon Skousen. It is an inspiring review of the 5000 years of western civilizations wisdom that cumulated with our founding principles as expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The more we learn to understand and adhere to these remarkable documents, the more prosperous and secure our common future will be. Let go of obsessing over the president and learn why so many of us love America and its establishment of a limited government. You too might find yourself clinging to your guns and religion.

Always Advocating Alan – Sad News, Good News, and a Question for City Hall

| Opinion | August 23, 2018

This week, I was saddened by the passing of Aretha Franklin. She was my generations “Queen of Soul” and a self-taught pianist. I will always vividly remember her performing “Respect” in the Blues Brothers movie almost 40 years ago. God bless you Aretha, I am sure you will forever be inside the pearly gates singing songs from heaven’s hymnal. On a different note, as a proud Shriner, on Saturday I boarded my Harley and rode in Tehachapi’s parade to show support for our 22 Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, a very worthwhile cause. But something curious also took place this past week. A couple of Gazette readers asked, why does the city get to add comments after your column?

To answer the question, I explained: “The timeline for producing the Always Advocating Alan column is a bit different than what you might expect.” Most columns are written, published, and the author waits for comments to be sent in, for publication in a later addition. In my case, I write Always Advocating Alan on Sunday Afternoon, making it available to the Gazette first thing Monday morning. The Gazette then forwards my column to the city. If the city returns comments by Tuesday afternoon, they are included below my column. The Gazette goes to print on Wednesday, and I get to read city comments on Thursday, when the whole cycle starts again. I have no objection, because city comments enhance the dialog, and I get to author the next column.

As I write my commentary every week, I feel fortunate to have retired after a 46-year career as a department/project manager in aerospace. During the majority of the time, I worked on Department of Defense projects and was responsible to read, interpret and implement Defense/Federal Acquisition Regulations, military and commercial specifications, and contractual requirements. As you might imagine, I became adept at reading long boring documents, which would put most people to sleep. One thing I learned early in my career was to never justify a position by using one line out of a document, because understanding the surrounding text is required to establish the statement’s true and complete meaning.

From my column last week, Ms. Lujan, Communications Manager for the City of Santa Clarita, took exception to my comments which stated, Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem are improper Ballot Designations for our two incumbents, as neither of those offices are held as result of a “vote of the people.” She goes on to site “California Code of Regulations Title 2, Division 7, Chapter 7, Section 20712 (d), as allowing the use of titles like ‘Mayor’ or ‘Mayor Pro-Tem’ as legislative leadership provisions.” But in doing so, she failed to inform you of the context in which the sample designations were defined.

Section 20712 which Ms. Lujan references, pertains to “Proposed Ballot Designations Submitted Pursuant to Elections Code Section 13107, … (a)(1)”, which requires Ballot Designations represent “the … office … to which he or she was elected to that office by vote of the people.” To make it short, the paragraph, Ms. Lujan noted, reveals samples of how to use Ballot Designations to comply with the specified three word limit, but the section does not expand on the limitations imposed by 13107(a) (1), and since Santa Clarita Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem are not offices elected by a vote of the people, the examples do not apply to our city council election.

In addition, I knew about this Election Code section, but did not mention it in my column, because Election Code 20710, General Provisions, sub-paragraph 5 states, “The regulations set forth in this Chapter shall apply only to elections held for offices for which election returns are certified by the Secretary of State of the State of California,” making it most likely this whole section is not applicable to the Santa Clarita City Council election process.

The issue of using Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem as Ballot Designations has been a contentious issue, since State Assembly Member Dante Acosta was prevented from using “Mayor Pro-Tem” as a ballot designation in his State Assembly bid four years ago. While I appreciate city staff coming out with a written position on the issue, I also feel the city clerk in this instance has not applied the election code in a manner consistent with previous state decisions. At least now, candidates have been given the opportunity to comprehend the rationale behind the city clerk allowing these Ballot Designations to be used. It is unfortunate, however, that the issue will not get a higher-level hearing, unless a challenger, or group of challengers, take the time, effort, and provide the financial resources to file a “Writ of Mandate” in Sacramento challenging the city clerk’s decision. The decision on how to proceed now rests with the challengers.

On another topic, Ms. Lujan correctly pointed out commissioners are nominated, not appointed by council members. I can see she is going to keep me on my toes, and I thank her for the help.

But now, with this point by counter-point process in place, I started thinking about how we could enhance our mutual dialog even further. I wondered what would happen if I were to ask a question, rather than putting forth an opinion. Would the city provide an answer?

This past week, both The Signal and Facebook made the public aware of Representative Knight hosting a roundtable discussion of local and federal officials to discuss solutions to fight wildfires. It appears the meeting was not open to the public, as a COC student was reportedly denied access. On Wednesday, August 15, a Signal article written by Crystal Duan stated, “Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha McLean and Councilman Bill Miranda were in attendance … Weste spoke of the city’s emphasis on purchasing and preserving open space, and also discussed how the burden to maintain the wild landscapes of SCV falls on the residents. ‘We need tougher building codes and harsh penalties on people that start fires.’ Mclean suggested ‘using grazing livestock, such as Goats as a solution.’ ”

Ms. Lujan, could you help clarify the situation and explain why a meeting, where the majority of our city council attended and openly discussed issues concerning the City of Santa Clarita, did not require compliance to the Brown Act, including the meeting being publicly noticed and opened to the public? Other meetings, where a majority of the city council is invited to attend, such as the Sand Canyon Home Owners’ Association annual meeting, have always been noticed and open to the public per the Brown Act. Why are these meetings treated differently?

I feel confident the city staff will provide an explanation, and I want to thank Ms. Lujan in advance. I look forward to reading all about it.

City Responds

by Carrie Lujan, Communications Manager City of Santa Clarita

The purpose of the event that Mr. Ferdman references was for the Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss the wildfires which have affected California in recent years. More specifically, to discuss how they relate to federal lands. The City of Santa Clarita is surrounded by the Angeles National Forest. Meetings held to discuss subject matters within the jurisdiction of the City Council are subject to the Brown Act. The meeting in question, with Secretary Perdue and Congressman Knight, does not fall within the requirements for a Brown Act noticed meeting by the local jurisdiction, as the subject of management, safety and prevention of wildfires on federal lands is not within the subject matter jurisdiction of the city council.

Making Sense – The Media’s Trump Crisis of the Week

| Opinion | August 23, 2018

by Michael Reagan

What’s the mainstream liberal media’s most overblown Trump crisis of the week?

First, it was the president’s tweet calling former staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman a “dog” for betraying him and his administration with her new book, “Unhinged,” and her stash of secret White House recordings.

Then on Wednesday came the president’s revocation of the security clearance of John Brennan, Obama’s former CIA director and full-time Trump basher.

From the liberal media’s reaction, you’d have thought President Trump had sentenced Brennan to death and declared himself dictator for life.

The New York Times called it “a striking act of retaliation against an outspoken critic.”

Poor hysterical Andrea Mitchell of NBC, who pretended to worry that the president was “denying his own CIA … access to the wise counsel of Brennan,” said the action was “akin to the Nixon enemies list.”

Trump’s action was, as usual, pure Trumpian. Brennan definitely deserved to have his security clearance taken away.

Instead of acting like a respectable ex-government servant and keeping his partisan comments to himself, he’s been acting like a political hack or MSNBC talk show host.

After the Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki, for example, Brennan tweeted that the president’s performance “rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Other former Obama/Hillary partisans with security clearances who’ve been investigating or critiquing Trump and his staff are reportedly being considered for the same treatment – including James Clapper, James Comey and FBI super villains Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr.

By the way, the whole security-clearance issue for former intelligence officials has been blown out of proportion by the media.

There’s a long history of allowing the clearances for certain officials to continue from one administration to the next. It’s practical. It has worked. That’s why it was done.

But in the past the officials from the previous administrations were not professional public enemies of the new president.

Some people apparently think that Brennan and the other ex-Obama people with security clearances are able to just walk into their nearest federal building and start looking at top-secret stuff.

No, they can’t do that. They have to be invited by the current administration to come and look at material or give them advice based on their experiences or knowledge.

Even Mitchell knows there’s no way in hell the Trump administration is going to ask any of those Obama/Hillary partisans to come in to help.

As usual, the president messed up. He managed to turn a decision he had every right to make into a vindictive political and personal act. If he’s going to pull security clearances on Obama alums, he should have done it on everyone at the same time and done it a long time ago.

My problem with revoking the clearances is that once a president goes down this road, it’s bar-the-door Sally.

We Republicans may all be happy and excited about

what Trump did to Brennan, but one day were going to be angry and upset when a Democrat president does it to one of our guys.

We obviously live in a different presidency today than ever before. Things are much different.

Can anyone ever remember a former CIA director pointing a finger and speaking ill of a sitting president? Or a former president speaking ill of a sitting president?

This is the post-Trump world were living in now. We’ve lost complete respect for everything and everyone in Washington.

We’re now at a point where no one in D.C. works together. No one looks for common ground.

The reality is, while this is going on in D.C., the American economy is growing at 4.1 percent, unemployment is down dramatically and taxes and regulations have been cut.

What gets lost in the big media’s over-the-top coverage of petty D.C. beltway crap like the Omarosa tapes and revoked security clearances is that America is doing pretty great – again.

Copyright 2018 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and ww.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns, contact Sales at sales@cagle.com.

A High Schooler’s POV

| Opinion | August 23, 2018

by Analyn May

A few days ago, I started my first day of my senior year, and boy, has that got me thinking about where I’ve come from and where I want to go. After all, I have a lot of plans for the future and a lot of decisions I still have to make: where to go to college, how to get an internship, not to mention saving up money for a car, which is almost more frightening than the other two things combined. I have a lot of new responsibilities, and I’m sure that you can remember a time when you felt exactly as I did at this moment.

However, it’s that memory which I’d like to address today. Wherever you are in your life right now, you probably have goals for the future that you’re eager to get to. Maybe for you, the next goal is a promotion, or a marriage, or a new house. But if I were to ask you if you’d voluntarily spend a day back in your childhood, you’d also probably take me up in a heartbeat. After all, everybody knows that you don’t really appreciate your childhood until you’re an adult.

But therein lies the issue. The thing is, the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” isn’t just exclusive to childhood. Every stage of life has its ups and downs, and while the downs seem overwhelming while you’re in the midst of them, the ups are rarely visible until you’ve already passed them by. As humans, we’re almost always looking back longingly at what seems like a blissful, carefree past or looking ahead at the exciting adventure to come. And while both are important to do in moderation, we spend little to no time living right where we are— which is silly, of course, because that’s where we always are. We’re never living in the past or the future. We only ever live right where we are on the journey, and yet it doesn’t occur to us to pause and enjoy it. And it’s not like we’ll ever be passing by this spot again.

Forgive me if I’ve gotten poetic, but I thought it would be good in this season of new beginnings and change for all of us to stop and take a moment to appreciate the present. As exciting as a new job might be, you may as well make the most of the one you’ve got while you’ve got it. And as much as I’m looking forward to taking my first real steps into adulthood, I’m going to make a point of enjoying the last steps of my childhood, too.

But as always, that’s just my POV. Until next time, this is Analyn May, signing off.

Making Sense – Tweet Presidentially, Mr. Trump

| Opinion | August 17, 2018

by Michael Reagan

Trump is still being Trump.

Whether he’s holding his stand-up political rallies in Wilkes-Barre or Ohio, or delivering his incendiary early morning tweet storms, he’s not going to change his wild and crazy ways.
He’s been doing a lot of great stuff in Washington, but if he wants to stay there he’d better be careful.

The raw party numbers are against him.

Last time around, in 2016, the Democrats had a deplorable candidate – Hillary Clinton – who lots of Democrats didn’t like, either, and therefore didn’t show up to vote for at the polls.

Now Democrats have someone even bigger to collectively hate – Donald Trump.

He’s already given them plenty of reasons to put on their “Impeach Trump Hats” and get out and vote for Democrats in the November congressional elections.

But last week the president made things more difficult for himself by foolishly making a few million new enemies in the sports world by personally attacking LeBron James.

Responding to the negative things the NBA superstar had said in a CNN interview with professional Trump-hater Don Lemon, the president tweeted:

“LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

Though the president sided with Michael Jordan fans in the great debate over who’s the greatest NBA player of all time, “Mike” sided with LeBron James, who had charged the president with using athletics and athletes to divide the country.

Through a spokeswoman, Jordan responded, “I support LeBron James. He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”

Though the Lemon interview included CNN’s standard anti-Trump political slant, it was focused on James’ foundation’s contribution of $2 million to help at-risk public school kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The tweeter in chief might have been pleased with himself for scoring a few political dunks and inflaming the anti-Trump media for the millionth time.

But if he wants to keep Congress Republican this fall, or have a second term, he’s going to have to change – and learn.
We know he gets beat up unfairly by the liberal media and Democrats every day, all day. But so did Ronald Reagan. My father fought back on the issues or made jokes, but he never attacked anyone personally.

President Trump should not have kept quiet about the Lemon and LeBron insults, but he’s got to learn how to turn his enemies’ blind hatred of him to his own advantage.

He should have tweeted something like, “I’m sorry LeBron disagrees with me personally and doesn’t appreciate the historically low unemployment rates and middle-class tax cuts my policies have created. But I like what he’d doing for those third and fourth graders in Akron. Our star athletes can do great things for their communities and I hope others follow LeBron’s generous example.”

It wouldn’t have been very Trumpian. It wouldn’t have fit in a tweet. And it wouldn’t have gotten the liberal media’s panties in a twist for three days.

But it would have immediately turned Lemon’s and LeBron’s cheap shots back on them and the rest of the liberal media and allowed the president to score a few political three-pointers of his own.

As some point President Trump has to rise above this personal crap. His family already knows how to do it. First Lady Melania Trump publicly supported James’ work in Akron through a spokesman. First Daughter Ivanka supported the press against her father, saying she didn’t think journalists were the “enemy of the people.”

In one smart tweet the president could have turned the tables on Lemon and LeBron. The liberal media would never have given him credit for taking the high road, but that’s OK. It’s time the man who is president of us all starts acting presidential. It’d be for his own political good. But more important, it’d be for the good of the country.

Copyright 2018 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at sales@cagle.com.

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Doug’s Rant – Video Edition

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