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Letters to the Editor

| Opinion | April 25, 2019

Reading the Gazette’s interview with Katie Hill was a bit stunning with “You have something sitting there for three years. Then we get the letter issued, then we get a response within two days … you’re telling me that happens to be a fluke”? She declared “There was no way that is so fortuitous when we’ve been waiting on a decision for three years”. The article goes on to say that “Hill took credit for finishing the job”.

Rep Hill’s comment would lead one to think she swept into office and within about two months resolved the monumental issue of Cemex.

Cemex has been a (negative) issue with the City of Santa Clarita since about 1996 or 1997; the battle has continued for over two decades. Originally, Rep. Buck McKeon tried to get bills passed in the House to stop Cemex’s mining and when he left office, Rep. Steve Knight continued on with the efforts. As an aside, Knight was successful in getting a bill passed into legislation that will forever bar any mining at the subject site. That is of immense importance to the City and all residents.

The final report of the Interior Board of Appeals (IBLA) is 46 pages long and was issued after about two and one-half to three years of the appeal process. That being said, it is highly unlikely that one letter, a month ago, accelerated the matter to conclusion.

The City of Santa Clarita has spent millions and millions of dollars fighting the mining project and has sent city representatives to Washington D.C. numerous times—two dozen would be a conservative estimate—to talk to U.S. Senators such as Dianne Feinstein, (then-Senator) Barbara Boxer and Joe Manchin, as well as testimony over five years ago before a Senate Resource Committee.

Rep Hill’s effort in signing and sending a letter to the Department of IBLA is laudable and recognized as a positive but any conclusion or declaration that it sealed the deal is unrealistic. Any due credit for the outcome would have been placed with whomever had the House seat at the time.

Betty Arenson, Valencia

Just read Ronnie Nathan’s column (he pretends to be an extreme Centrist).  Not true.  He wants anyone but President Trump.  Really?  All those 20 socialist/communist leaning radical leftist Democrats you want over Trump?  Couldn’t you have at least made the case for a respectable Democrat alternative like a real extreme centrist like Joe Lieberman?  Would you actually vote for one of these foolish Democrats who would be really bad for America and ruin the great accomplishments of this President.  The great economy we are having.  You never mention that.  The lowest employment levels for women, black and hispanic Americans, and practically everyone else.  You are definitely not an extreme centrist.  You never were and never will be.  I for one will be proudly voting for President Trump in 2020.  No socialism. Never.

Robert Lewis

I’m happy to hear that Mr. Nathan is conservative on many issues. I have a different opinion on President Donald Trump. He may or not be guilty of those negatives Mr. Nathan stated. But these are strange times. After then namby pamby George W. Bush who never seemed to retaliate to those who criticized. Or the Anti-American 8 years with Barack Obama, there is a force to deal with in this President.I feel there is “Devine Providence” involved here as there was with our first President George Washington. Would we have won the Revolutionary War without him? Donald Trump is brilliant. A shrewd businessman. Consider his stand on trade. He WANTS free trade. No tariffs for any country. Trade hasn’t been fair as far back as I can recall. If we had it consider what it would do for US?

Bob Comer, Valencia

 

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

| Opinion | April 25, 2019

After hearing Attorney General Barr’s commentary on the release of the Mueller report and the leftist Democrat commentary, this hit song by Cher began running around in my mind, with the bracketed inclusions.

“Gypsies, tramps, and thieves (Adam Schiff, never-Trumpers and democratic socialists)
We’d hear it from the people of the town (MAGA people)
They’d call us Gypsies, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men (lobbyists, George Soros, donors) would come around
And lay their money down”

The vile attacks on Attorney General Barr and the president are consistent with con artists when confronted with their deception. They inevitably respond with anger, threats, intimidation and ad-hominem personal attacks. CNN and MSNBC wasted no time on attacking the messenger while ignoring the facts. Further examples of the leftists’ sociopathic behavior will be continually demonstrated by their inability to let go of their anti-Trump delusions. They will never acknowledge the exoneration of the Trump administration and campaign by Mueller regarding collusion with the Russians.

Rep. Nadler’s press conference featured an attack on the messenger. He focused on the special counsel, who exonerated the president of obstruction of justice, ignoring that Mueller did not accuse or charge the president with obstruction of justice. Do remember that Mueller and Comey were best buds, and the team of investigators was loaded with Clinton supporters and probable Trump-haters? What happened to the prosecutor’s burden of proof requirement? Do we really wish to engage in the impeachment of the outraged president because of questionable obstruction of justice accusations? He was proven innocent of colluding with the Russians! This grasping at straws is politics at its very worst.

Adam Schiff viewed the special counsel’s report not only as vindication of obstruction of justice, but viewed it as proof of Trump colluding with the Russians. As I read the report, the Russians repeatedly attempted to collude with Trump’s people. However, their approaches were always (yes, always) rejected. Oh, yes – unlike Schiff, where recorded contacts with Russians who promised damaging information on Trump have been repeatedly broadcast. The pot was calling the kettle black, even though the kettle was shiny copper.

These leftist-progressive democrats have shown themselves incapable of recognizing integrity when they see it. For example, they still cling to the false charges against Justice Kavanaugh.
President Trump was angry about being falsely charged by Democrats and the media. Internally, he responded with anger, speaking out at his attackers and those who did not defend him. However, despite his justified rage, actions of obstruction never happened. Cooperation with Mueller was overwhelming.

The bottom line is this: For over two years, never-Trumpers repeatedly accused the president of being an agent of the Russians. They accused him of being a traitor. They lied, they lied, and they lied again. They refuse to accept the decisions made by prosecutorial experts who disliked Trump. Now they are angry with the President for attempting to defend himself. The scandal is theirs. They are amoral. Malum stultus asinae. Incivilis!

Always Advocating Alan – Safety, Situations and Statistics

| Opinion | April 25, 2019

On Tuesday, April 16, KHTS reported, “Safe Home, a home security company, used data from the FBI … of cities with at least 50,000 residents, to compile a list of the safest cities across the nation. Santa Clarita was named No. 9 in California and 49 in the United States.” The very next day, The Signal included a front-page story titled, “City ranked ninth safest in state.” Then, later that week, in the “Signal’s most talked about section,” residents’ comments ranged from memories of when “Santa Clarita was in top 10 safest in the country,” to impressions that it’s “because crime stats are suppressed by LASD.” One resident felt the city would rank even worse if “you excluded Valencia.”

Well, stories relating to the safety of our city have been written from time to time. In this case, I decided to visit www.safehome.org and see for myself who they are. As it turns out, KHTS was correct when they named Safe Home as a home security company. Safe Home describes the company as “a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com,” which does not sound much like an independent research firm.

Next, I brought up www.fbi.gov to see if the same admonitions about their data were still being included. Sure enough, the FBI themselves tells us, “Since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors, the FBI discourages ranking locations or making comparisons as a way of measuring law enforcement effectiveness. Some of this data may not be comparable to previous years because of differing levels of participation over time.” In addition, “It’s important to consider the various factors that lead to crime activity and crime reporting in a community before interpreting the data. Without these considerations, the available data can be deceiving. Factors to consider include population size and density.” Therefore, it may not provide a clear picture if we rank our city of 217,000 residents against cities greater than 50,000.

Lastly, rankings depend on how the evaluation team weighs the data. For example, FBI Violent Crime data reflects a “hierarchy rule, which requires that only the most serious offense in a case be counted. The descending order of violent crimes is homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, followed by the property crimes of burglary, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft.” When I looked at how another company called “Safewise” weighs and views the data, Santa Clarita does not even make the top 50 list. If you were to evaluate the data, how many robberies would you equate to a single homicide? I believe George Buck was right on when he said, “Statistics don’t lie. It’s the people who make up the statistics that lie.” So, instead of becoming one of those people, I’ll just relay my impressions about safety in our fair city.

Since I have lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for over half a century, I have seen changes which have altered my behavior relative to staying alert and not becoming a victim. When I first moved here, Santa Clarita was truly a small town. When my wife and I would go down the street to visit our neighbor, there seemed no reason to close our garage or lock our doors. Neighbors looked out for each other, most local law enforcement was made up of Reserve Officers, and when you saw a patrol car, you most often knew the person driving. Even as the community grew over the next several decades and locking things up became the norm, you could always count on those who lived around you.

For example, in 1990, a 31-year-old recently released jail inmate named Rene who was cold, hungry and living on the street, decided to take refuge in my house. He very carefully pried the window frame out of my back door, entered my house, ate lunch, and left with my leather motorcycle jacket, some change and a handgun. Two of my neighbors, Mr. Sam Rowe and Mr. Mike Quigley, saw him leave my back yard, recognized my jacket, and the chase was on. Rene darted down a street and over a fence, landing him on Soledad Canyon, just as two plain-clothed deputies were driving past. When they recognized he had a gun, the officers started around the block. My two neighbors followed Rene to the Shell Station, which was at Soledad and Whites Canyon, and witnessed Rene jump over a pony wall, which obscured where he was living, so they called 911. Just then, the two deputies pulled into the station were directed to where Rene was hiding, and took him into custody shortly after. When Mike called me at work and told me what had happened, I was sure I would come home to find the house ransacked. But that was not the case, and when I picked up my valuables from the Sheriff’s Station, I was told of Rene’s past and his desire to end it all if he could not return to jail, where he would at least have a full stomach and be out of the elements. It was my first experience with crime and homelessness in the Santa Clarita Valley. The story appeared as front-page news in The Signal on May 9, 1990. I have saved a copy of that paper all this time, and when I see Mike Quigley this coming week, I intend to thank him again.

Did that experience make me feel less safe? For me, it emphasized the importance of “neighbors helping neighbors,” and I feel fortunate as families have moved in and out of my immediate area, and we continue to live near residents who want to maintain good neighborhood relationships, so we are still looking out for each other. Have I taken additional precautions? You bet, but not always just to keep myself safe. About 10 years later, we put in and alarm system. The primary reason was to protect our Maltese named “Puff” and Cat named “CoCo,” in case of a house fire occurring when we were at work.
Now, if I were to use the FBI data, I would concentrate on the parts which show an increase in violent crimes, and consider the need to visit a city council meeting to ask that additional resources be provided to our Sheriff’s Department. I remember going to a Santa Clarita Public Safety Subcommittee meeting years ago and encountering Sheriff Captain Becker, who at the time was serving our community. He provided his report and stated his intent to put another patrol car by Jake’s Way, to which one of the council members stated, “That’s not in the city.” (Jake’s Way had not been annexed into the city at that time). When Captain Becker responded, “That is not important; Crime does not stop at the border,” I knew I was going to like this man. Since then, we have gone through several Santa Clarita Sheriff Captains who have been promoted or retired. Today, Captain Robert Lewis serves in the capacity of managing Sheriff’s Services in the Santa Clarita Valley, and in my estimation, he is an exceptional leader. When interacting with Captain Lewis, it is easy to recognize that he loves his job, not for the power he wields, but because of the community service he provides. Known for his endless energy and ability to resonate with his deputies and the public, Captain Lewis provides us the kind of services which are dedicated to keeping the community safe.

But remember, law enforcement cannot do it all. You must do your part by staying alert, becoming aware of what is going on around you, keeping your eyes open, and alerting the Sheriff’s Office when you see something that looks suspicious. Because when the “brown stuff” hits the fan, statistics will not matter. And if it is something beyond your control, hopefully you will have the assistance of a neighbor. And should you need to dial 911, one of Santa Clarita’s Sheriff Deputies will be ready to answer your call for help.

Ben Shapiro vs. the Far-Left Goliath

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

by Eric Goldin

I don’t know if the Biblical story of David vs. Goliath ever actually happened, but I do know that we’re facing a very real modern situation akin to this great legend. Social Justice Warriors, the far-leftist fringe of the Democrat party, are gaining political power at a very rapid and horrifying pace. In fact, we should no longer actually label them as a fringe group.

Unfortunately, they’ve been able to masterfully brainwash the younger generation into accepting their views and have been able to become mainstream. People like Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez and llhan Omar have been elected to congress. These Social Marxists now have the power in the palm of their hands to create policy that will affect America and the rest of the world for decades to come. The youth has unfortunately fully embraced this Social Justice Warrior nonsense. The future of America has accepted pure foolishness. Make no mistake about it; the politically correct who falsely scream “racism” “sexism” “bigotry” at the drop of a hat have created a monstrosity. Universities have actually legitimized nonsense words like “microaggressions” and “Islamophobia.” These Social Justice Warriors are not only great in number, but they have the complete backing of academia at their disposal. Fighting this is going to be an enormous challenge. On the outside, it looks almost unwinnable. Reasonable people are heavy underdogs in this fight.

Thankfully somebody has risen to the call of duty. A nerdy little Orthodox Jewish man who always wears a yarmulke on his head has come to the rescue. His name is Ben Shapiro. Despite being short and physically unintimidating, just like King David, he uses the weapon he has been blessed with to destroy leftist fools. King David had a slingshot, but Ben Shapiro has something much more potent than that. He has his brain! Ben Shapiro is one of the most intelligent political commentators in America today. When he was in school, he was such a prodigy that he skipped two grades. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in political science before moving on to study at Harvard, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in law. Ben Shapiro’s motto is facts don’t care about your feelings! He can brilliantly argue the facts about any situation, and he easily wipes the floor with the overly emotional, nonsensical arguments of his leftist opponents. Ben has the capacity to remember tons of facts, data and statistics, along with a plethora of geo-political history, and wrap them all up in an easily understandable, neat little package whenever he’s debating somebody on any particular issue.

Ben first gained notoriety when he debated Pierce Morgan in early 2013 on CNN regarding gun control. Pierce Morgan’s riled-up emotional rhetoric had no substance. Ben easily knocked out Pierce with some simple facts and logic, combined with a little bit of wit and cheek. Many pompous leftists since have tried to bring down the mighty Ben Shapiro. They have all failed miserably. He’s frequently speaking in front of hostile crowds and can effortlessly pick apart the errors of any erroneous claim. With a wave of a hand, he can make someone look like a total fool. In the summer of 2017, Ben even debated Cenk Uygur (founder and main host of the far-left propaganda internet show The Young Turks), a man who looks like a literal Goliath, defeating him with grace.

To view Ben at work, there are numerous clips on YouTube of him engaging in debate with far-leftists, and him completely annihilating them every single time. Many former people who were far-leftists at one point in their life have been brought back to sanity, thanks to Ben.

Poverty: The Nemesis of the American Dream

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

“Lack of power is a universal and basic characteristic of poverty. Poverty is not solely a lack of income but rather a vicious cycle of powerlessness, stigmatization, discrimination, exclusion and material development which all mutually reinforce each other.” – Wesley James Wiles

If you are a working-class Republican and you are frustrated about paying into services to help others in poverty when you can barely help yourself, I get that. I really do.

What I don’t get is why you blame the needy instead of the richest for placing the entire burden on you.

If you’ve worked hard all your life and were successful enough to achieve a relatively comfortable lifestyle in a safe environment for yourself and loved ones, you may want others to have worked just as hard without government support. I understand your ire if you’ve heard that those “others” are just “on the dole,” and “just too lazy to work hard” and you think of them as loners who probably ruined their lives with drugs, alcohol or criminal activity. But being successful is not just based on hard work alone.
According to a recent Ted Talk, it was LUCK if you were born into a family that had no strikes against it. Imagine for a moment you are in a marathon race, and instead of being in the starting front line of runners you are unfortunately lumped with others to start 50 yards behind the starting line. Everyone wants to win, but your unequal starting position places you at a considerable disadvantage.

So it can be with life. If you were born into a racial minority family, say Afro or Latino, you most likely already have a strike against you trying to climb the social ladder to success; discrimination, still dominate, is still a major hurtle in achieving the American Dream. If you are a woman, you’ll have the double unfair disadvantage of fighting misogynous men who disrespect you (and feel you should be in the kitchen); you’ll fight inequality in pay and advancement. Being a single mother with a child to nourish, if you become sick, growth to success stops. Then there are the under-employed, the old, the unemployable, and the mentally challenged; with street people littering the streets, you see a society sliding into impoverishment in need of help from those more fortunate.

Poverty seems to disappear within more social democracies but lingers on in more capitalistic democracies. President Trump preached to make his rich (aristocratic) base richer again. Joe the plumber, thinking the message was meant for him will only find austerity in his future. Recent proposed cuts to social programs will allow Trump’s rich base to further reduce their taxes, and it will force society to cope with the consequences.

His recent budget proposes:

Reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Cuts in food stamps for the poor by a third.
Cuts in Housing and Family Assistance.
Undermining HIV treatment in Medicaid.
Cuts in AIDs Relief.
Cuts in Family Leave Program.
Undermining the Affordable Care Act (to advance Profits for Healthcare.)
Destroying protection for people with pre-existing conditions.
Reduces reimbursements to hospitals.
Cuts in EPA funds by 1/3 to stop work on climate crises.
Closing Disease Control and Protection Centers
Closes the Head Start program.
Cuts in the National Science Foundation search on climate by 1/3.
Eliminates subsidized federal student loans for higher education.
No repayment of student loans.
Undermines Public Education with $4B to Private Schools K-12.

But there’s hope. There are more socially democratic, friendly countries in the world which find it morally wrong to capitalize on the less fortunate. The Nordic countries, good examples, all have a lower GDP than the U.S., yet are able to afford their citizens a stable, happy and safe society.

Norway, in particular, being the second happiest society in the world, enacts more social-friendly laws without deterring corporate aristocracy profits. Its tax rate is only around 1 percent higher than the U.S. rate, yet its citizens are afforded free health care, free higher education, and financial security for seniors; people get eight weeks paid vacations and have a higher life expectancy.

It’s ironic that our capitalistic democracy, having the richest aristocracy in the world, cannot muster a steady, happy, poverty-free, unburdened safe society. Dreamers should demand it. Poor Joe may wonder why he’s not achieving the American Dream, but then he simply hasn’t traveled anywhere else.

‘How Do Ya Like Them Apples?’

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

by Dale Paule

Everybody likes apples, right?

I mean, there’s, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” “As American as apple pie,” “Bring the teacher an apple,” “She’s the apple of my eye,” and even “Johnny Appleseed.” And that’s just the short list.

“Apple” in the American lexicon has always been something which equates to something desirable, something wholesome, and just plain good for you.

So I suppose that’s why it’s so disappointing whenever a rotten one appears occasionally; even more so when it happens frequently, as it seems to be lately.

In the past, whenever a rotten apple turned up, it was more often than not someone away from the scrutiny of the everyday public eye; a minor official, or a small-town politician with sticky fingers.

But lately, they’re turning up from all levels of society, from the “usual suspects,” to the “Who would have ever thought?!” crowd.

Is it because we’re only now being made aware of it?

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there’s never been a rotten apple or two from the upper-echelon branches of the tree; it’s just that now it’s starting to not be all that uncommon; we’re seeing it on a regular basis, and it’s definitely more than an anomaly that rotten apples are popping up in areas of government from which we formally took honesty and integrity for granted, and attached a great deal of weight to decisions and laws they made and enacted on “We the People’s” behalf.

Could it possibly be then, that the reason for it falls as much on “We the People” as it does upon the rotten apples? If so, then what have we been doing wrong in our selecting of these apples whom we’ve trusted to be the best the tree has to offer?

Perhaps it’s as simple as picking from the wrong tree; maybe it’s time to move to another tree, and while we’re at it, we may want to take a minute, and have a closer look at the quality of the apple in the bright sunlight, instead of just picking and hoping. It seems to me like a better choice than continuing to end up with rotten apples; they leave such a lousy taste in your mouth.

Always Advocating Alan – Campus Lockdowns, Tree Branches and Rifles

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

I’m sure I have shared my story of being in an active shooter situation already, yet I will tell it one more time to help anyone reading this article understand my perspective.

It was in the mid-‘80s and I was a department manager. About 30 members of my staff and I occupied an area on the second floor, to the rear of the building. At the time, the area was filled with cubicles, with my office at one end. It was a morning like any other, when one of my staff members came running into the area and loudly announced, “There is someone in the front lobby shooting at other employees.” Well, that woke everyone up, and they started to congregate in the center of the room. I came out of my office, and as I had not heard any shots, I asked, “Does anyone know where the shooter is?” When the answer came back as a negative, the group got more agitated and nervous. As I was the leader, they looked to me for a decision as what to do. I believed then, as I believe now, that their safety was my responsibility.

Our company had provided management training on this type of situation by advising us to “hide if you can, or flee if you can, or fight if you must.” Since our immediate area did not have any rooms large enough for us to hide, and the second-floor conference rooms were in the front of the building, which was in the direction of the lobby, I chose not to go there. Instead, I decided to leave the building. I had thought about this before, and knew the back stairway was right next to the exit from our area, down the stairs and a left turn would take us out of the building, and then a right turn put us about 30 feet from our facility’s gate, a guard shack, and the parking lot entrance.

The group was becoming more visibly unsettled and I tried to calm everyone down with a little humor by looking at my watch and saying, “It’s 10:30, time for an early lunch. Follow me down the stairs off the facility, and do not return until 1 p.m.” One of my group supervisors was present, and I asked him to take up the rear to make sure everyone followed me. I told him I would wait for him at the bottom of the stairs and take him to lunch. It all went as planned, and in short order all 30 staff members were outside the facility.

Even though the situation seemed dire and threatening, what we did not know was that it was over long before we left the facility. As it turns out, a man entered the lobby asking to see an employee named Joe, who was dating his ex-wife. When Joe came walking down into the lobby, the man took out a handgun and started shooting. Fortunately, he only hit Joe in the small part of his ear, which Gunsmoke’s Festus called the “small hangey-down part.” When Joe realized what was happening and started to flee, the man sat down, put his gun on the table, and waited for the police to arrive. But another scary part was when one of the shooter’s stray bullets passed through a wall, and barely missed a secretary putting a memo through a copy machine, proving drywalled walls offer little protection. As I was driving out of the parking lot, Joe was being wheeled out to an ambulance and police cars were all around the front of the building.

But the story does not end yet. Two weeks later, I was pulled into the security office. The head of security wanted to know what possessed me to lead my staff off the facility. His concern was, “What if you had led the group right into the shooters path?” My response to him was, “What do you think would have happened if I would have held my employees in the center of our office area out in the open, and the shooter would have run into us? I made the best decision I could, using the information I had at the time. If you want a different outcome, maybe security should find a better way of letting employees know more about the situation as it occurs.” At which point, the room went silent and so ended the conversation.

When I read about College of the Canyons (COC) going into lockdown because of an individual who could not distinguish between a few branches and a rifle, I felt compelled to share what I learned from my experience. First, COC represents a far greater challenge. My workplace had almost every building on the perimeter of the facility, making evacuation a relatively simple task. COC, on the other hand, has a more complex mapping of buildings, some of which are bordered by other buildings, making effective evacuation planning contingent on where the danger is occurring. Being able to remotely lock doors is a great idea, providing you have enough information to know which doors to lock, and which to leave open. Otherwise, the worst thing which could happen, as Katie Wynkoop reported, “People didn’t know what to do. They literally just started running through the hall of the Student Center. There was no direction. It was kind of chaotic.”

Yet, Trustee Edel Alonso hit the nail on the head when she asked, “If there are cameras, are they actually working and recording or not? If they are recording, then who’s taking a look at those videos?” My experience taught me that a person will make decisions based on what they know, and if management desires better decisions, they need to provide more real-time information. COC, or any large campus of buildings, needs to have a comprehensive matrix of audio/visual cameras providing the ability to monitor every building entrance and hallway, in addition to the grounds surrounding their facility. While recording is of value, real-time monitoring must be accomplished in a 24/7 security command center, so that the next time a problem is reported, the security team can see and hear what is transpiring and take immediate action. In addition, the knowledge gained by camera review will be very useful in directing security and law enforcement personnel to the trouble spot. Then, using text messages to alert the entire campus, in addition to concerned loved ones as to what is transpiring, we can put those affected in a defensive posture and calm those who are out of harm’s way. COC can make all the plans it feels necessary, but when a tragedy strikes, knowing which part of which plan to implement will depend on how much the decision makers know about the situation. So, the more information they have the better.

Realize also we are dealing with human nature. If you lock down the campus too many times for things which turn out to be non-issues, soon lock-downs will not be taken seriously. In addition, I thought Deputy Chancellors comment interesting when he shared, “Some folks had concerns about an armed presence …. and the anxiety that could lead to … Other folks felt they wanted an armed presence to be responding to any threat.” I would ask, why isn’t the student’s safety the primary concern? COC management needs to be the adults in the room and provide for safety first.

In these two cases, we were fortunate. Both my situation at work long ago and the latest COC lockdown, resulted in no one seriously injured or killed. But, the lesson we should all think about is that all mass shootings which have taken place in recent times occurred within just a few minutes. The faster an appropriately trained and armed security guard or law enforcement officer can get to the scene, the less opportunity there is for the shooter to continue the rampage.

Hopefully that will never happen at College of the Canyons. I know several of the trustees and have faith they will take the lead toward putting an effective surveillance and notification system in place. I would rather we spend the money to enhance student safety and never use it than save a few dollars and wish we had done it.

Adam Schiff, Stultus Asinus

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

John Quincy Adams, son of former President John Adams, was a man reputed to be of the very highest character. In serving his country as president and various cabinet-level posts, he always served our country and the Constitution ahead of party considerations. While serving as a representative to the House, he often brought petitions to the floor presented to him by constituents with whom he strongly disagreed. He took seriously the right of the people to petition our government, enumerated in the First Amendment.

Except for a few of our Republican Senators and Congressman who are strong Constitutionalists, I cannot imagine any of our elected demonstrating John Quincy’s fidelity to our Constitution and founding principles.

Today’s elected Democrats are so removed from having high character that they may best be described as having no character at all. This is best demonstrated by them constantly resorting to straw man arguments. Obama used this device extensively while serving as president. The scenario goes like this: You make up a charge or facts about your opponent and then repeat them so often that the people, your fellow partisans, the press and perhaps even you begin to believe the accusations. You then attack your opponent based on these false assertions. The most recent example was the claim that President Trump was colluding with the Russians. These invented false charges have become so much a part of your reality that it becomes impossible to let go of them.

Local Representative Adam Schiff’s obsession with Russian Collusion regarding the Trump Campaign is not the only popular delusion that is affecting his psyche. He recently reiterated the popular belief that President Trump is a racist, based on his comments on the tragic events at the daytime Charlottesville protests. This belief is commonly held by most Democrats. It has been often reported that Trump said there were good people among the white neo-Nazi nationalist and Black Lives Matter protesters on the day of the violent conflicts. A careful listening to the actual tapes from the time reveals that he attacked the White Nationalists and all acts of violence. When he spoke of there being good people, he was clearly referring to the protest about the removing of the Statue of Andrew Jackson the night before. There was no violence that night, and there were good, concerned people there representing both sides.

Sadly, many in America are still obsessed with Trump Derangement Syndrome. People like Rep. Adam Schiff will never seek a cure for their own form of insanity. He will never acknowledge the benefits Americans have enjoyed from current economic policies or reject the lies he has been promulgating. The Head in the Sand Party is considering making the “Stultus est Sicut Stultus Facit” (Stupid is as Stupid Does) trophy a lifelike bust of Representative Adam Schiff.” Congratulations Adam, despite a strong showing from Ihlan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters, you remain the first “Stultus Asinus” (Stupid Donkey) in our hearts.

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

With Mike Garcia’s announcement of being a candidate for California’s 25th District last Wednesday and that news pushing up against the Gazette’s time line to go to print, wherein there was a brief mention on the topic, I’d like to elaborate on Mike Garcia’s impressive background.

This candidate graduated from Annapolis, graduating in the top three percent of the class then went onto graduate from Georgetown with a Master’s degree in National Security Studies.

As a result of his outstanding accomplishments in Advanced Jet Pilot Training flying t-45 jets, wherein he set records, he garnered the well-earned and meritorious opportunity to be one of “the first F/A-18E Super Hornet strike fighter pilots in the Navy..”

He went on to fly F/A-18E jets after being deployed multiple timed on a nuclear-;powered aircraft carrier; the USS Nimitz. In fact, according to officials, Garcia flew 30-plus “combat missions during Operation Iraqi freedom over Baghdad, Fallujah, and Tikrit”.

Garcia has had experience as a small business owner as well as being an executive for a large corporation. He lives in Saugus with his wife, a small business owner, and their two sons.
Betty Arenson
Valencia

Notes from a ‘Never Trump’ Extreme Centrist That Was the Week that Was!

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

Thank you, Linda W. You are the author of the first Letter to the Editor of my short writing career! I’m sincerely moved by the fact that someone is reading my column besides my wife. Also, thanks to you, I have changed my byline. Linda questioned my centrist bona fides, so let me explain.

On a variety of specific issues – abortion, gun control, entitlement reform, fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget amendment, tax policy, capital punishment, Israel and others – my views are much more consistent with traditional orthodox conservatism than anything else. My fantasy candidate for president is John Kasich. Unfortunately, that will remain a fantasy, because the GOP has morphed from a party of conservatives into the Cult of Trump, which translates into an extreme right-wing populist party that has abandoned anything resembling traditional conservative orthodoxy.

But Linda W. is correct. I despise Donald Trump. As a New Yorker approximately the same age as Trump, I have known him to be a thoroughly despicable human being throughout his entire public career, for the past 45 years or more. I support a few of his policies, but no one as consistently amoral and dishonest as Trump can ever be trusted, except by either a hopelessly naïve political neophyte or a fool. The man is evil. Linda, I’m in very good company and I can, upon request, refer you to a dozen or more traditional conservative pundits who share my “Never Trump” views.

This brings me to what may be the strangest week in the strangest presidency of my lifetime. It began with the president firing his DHS secretary because she refused to break the law at his direction. She wasn’t cruel enough for the Trump/Miller policy of deterrence through cruelty, even after enforcing the cruelest policies at the border in anyone’s memory. Her exit was quickly followed by a purge (worthy of Stalin) of the entire DHS leadership. Firing the entire leadership of the department responsible for border security in the midst of a border security/humanitarian crisis may not seem – to most rational folks – like any way to run a government. Or does it? I guess if you belong to the “Alice through the Looking Glass Cult of Trump World” it does. As if this wasn’t strange enough, by the end of the week, we learned that our president, the man ultimately responsible for implementing and enforcing the law, asked the new acting DHS secretary, Kevin McAleenan, to break the law, promising to pardon him if he complies! This begs an obvious question. How can we demonize illegal border crossers as criminals breaking the law, when our president is the Law-Breaker-in-Chief?

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up! Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. Mid-week, we learned that Trump/Miller twice considered dumping the overflow of asylum seekers into Democratic-dominated “sanctuary” cities as political retribution for opposing the Trump/Miller draconian illegal policies, even his own appointees resisted. Just when we breathed a sigh of relief because we assumed in a rare moment of sanity the policy was rejected, Trump once again pulled the rug out from under his own administration and congressional party, tweeting and publicly announcing that this incredibly stupid certainly illegal idea would be implemented. As of this writing, that appears to be his plan. By the time you read this, however, it is entirely possible that Trump will back down before blowback for the umpteenth time, claiming he never said what he is on the record saying. In a world where truth has no currency and where his supporters consciously close their eyes to Trump’s serial lying, there is no political price for lying, and that’s what Trump does best. The worst part of all of this is the absence of any legitimate policy. Instead of honoring the fact that all of this touches real human lives in very real ways, Trump intends to bully his way, using vulnerable, desperate people as human pawns to wreak revenge on political enemies. Welcome to Trump-style reality TV government.

Let’s be clear. I am an extreme centrist and I’m NOT in favor of admitting all these migrants and granting them asylum. I am in favor, however, of treating them humanely while detaining them legally for adjudication of their claims and establishing a more efficient system for doing that. A normal president would have and could have negotiated with Congress to change the law and fund the resources to make that happen. But, Trump is not a normal president.

This same week, Attorney General Barr, in testimony before a Senate committee and absent of any evidence he was prepared to share, mused that our own intelligence community, the folks specifically charged with protecting America from espionage, spied on the Trump campaign. Yes, he used the word spy! Upon questioning, he softened his speculation somewhat, but not before giving Trump more fuel to control the narrative regarding the Mueller investigation, lying that he had been exonerated, which even Barr’s memo specifically denied, and accusing Barr’s own DOJ colleagues of treason. Until this week, I have given Barr the benefit of the doubt. Now, I am not so sure if he is the competent, dedicated public servant I had hoped for and expected, or just another Trump stooge in a cabinet of Trump stooges. I guess we’ll find out when he releases the Mueller Report. Will it be so completely redacted as to render it useless, or will it be as transparent as possible as Barr promised?

This suggests another question. Is it possible that Trump’s bluster of escalating the policy confrontation over the migrant families and Barr’s foolish public musings from a normally circumspect, disciplined man are a conscious strategy to control the public narrative before the release of what may be damaging information in the Mueller Report?

Yes, Linda W., I am assuredly an extreme centrist. I am a dedicated institutionalist and traditionalist. I prefer compromise and incrementalism to radical change. I am deeply religious. While no specific religious doctrine should be codified into law, I firmly believe all laws, law enforcement and governance must be grounded in morality. The Trump presidency and Trump himself, in all these areas, stand for the exact opposite. Frankly and sadly, I don’t see how one can be a centrist, a traditionalist, and support Donald Trump. It’s like being a meat-eating vegetarian!

Katie Hill Demonstrates Prejudice and Hypocrisy

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

by Nickolas Dwork

The congresswoman for CA district 25 (including Saugus, Newhall, Canyon Country, Simi Valley, and Palmdale) is Katherine (Katie) Lauren Hill.

Ms. Hill recently took a picture with members of the Alzheimer’s organization and posted it to her Facebook account. But she also co-sponsored legislation making it more difficult to conduct research to benefit those with Alzheimer’s disease. (Her legislation, called the KITTEN Act, makes it more difficult to conduct experiments on cats. In published research entitled “The domestic cat as a natural animal model of Alzheimer’s disease,” Chambers et al. show that cats are especially well suited for studying Alzheimer’s. All animals are already protected extensively by laws preventing their abuse for research purposes; Ms. Hill specifically strengthened laws preventing research that could help Alzheimer’s patients.)

Ms. Hill claims to be an advocate for civil rights. But she voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which provides a different educational system for girls. Defending her vote, Ms. Hill claimed that women earn $0.80 for every dollar earned by men. Research shows that this is not the case. Most recently, results published by Bolotnyy and Emanuel of Harvard University show that for the same job, women take home 89 percent of what men take home annually only because the genders tend to make different choices (men are more likely to work overtime and take less time off using the Family Medical Leave Act). Ms. Hill, then, shows that she desires wages where women are unilaterally paid more per hour than men. Moreover, whereas previously an accuser would have to demonstrate prejudice in order to have a rightful claim, the Paycheck Fairness Act puts the onus on the employer to show that pay discrepancies are not based on gender.

Ms. Hill voted for the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The original act was called repugnant to the US Constitution by the American Civil Liberties Union for its extreme punishment before conviction. Moreover, the entire act is sexist. By specifically highlighting the atrocity of violence against women, Ms. Hill is condoning violence against men.

In an interview for thelily.com, Ms. Hill called a fellow congressman “One Minute Man.” And when the congressman (who Ms. Hill would not identify) tried to make light of her obvious gaffe by saying, “I can also be Mr. five-minute man,” she accused him of sexism and told him that it was his behavior that was not OK.

Ms. Hill is working for a world where cats are more considered than those suffering from disease, where a separate and unequal educational system is standard, where women get paid more per hour than men, and where employers are guilty until they prove themselves innocent. I share in the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior; I also dream that one day, each of us will be judged solely by the content of our character. And I hope that Ms. Hill’s tenure in congress ends soon in order to bring that dream closer to a reality.

Nicholas Dwork was born and raised in Canyon Country. He received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with work specialized in medical technologies from Stanford University in 2019.

Speculation About the Future

| Opinion | April 18, 2019

What would this world be like, in about ten years from now?
Would this author, on life’s stage, have made his final bow?
Technologically, our future will be incredible and fantastic.
However, other areas of our lives will be harsh and drastic.

So-called “experts” may disagree, jumbling both opinion and fact.
They don’t seem to consider how most of the world would react.
All the greatest technological advances will be right before our eyes.
Wonders will never cease, every day there’ll be a new surprise.

We will have conquered all diseases; our health will be the best.
Yet, there’ll always be the elite, and also the oppressed.
Flying cars and trips to the moon will become a reality.
But I’m afraid we will have not found a cure for poverty.

We won’t be able to get along. I’m sure there’ll still be war.
We will always disagree; it’s a human trait we can’t ignore.
Our ability to think and learn will be impaired by technology.
All motivation will disappear, we’ll have lost curiosity.

Our state of mind won’t be sound; we will be ruled by insanity.
We’ll have forgotten about the past and repeat the horrors of history.
Incentive will no longer exist; we’ll have to do what we are told.
We’ll be enslaved in our mental jails, with all our thoughts controlled.

Our dream about the future is being misshapen into a worrisome nightmare.
And yet there may only be a few of us who will really seem to care.
And what about the rest of the world? It’ll be full of aggression and hostility.
I wish I had some better news, but we’re in need of more peace and tranquility.

We’ll never reach utopia. As an imaginary land, it will always remain.
No matter how hard we try, it’s a place we can never attain.
I may sound pessimistic about the future; you might even call me naive.
It’s obvious history always repeats itself. It’s something I believe.

Copyright 2019, William Tozzi, Golden Pen Writers Guild, Santa Clarita, CA

Twits and Twitters

| Opinion | April 12, 2019

by Dale Paule

Just like that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” there is a growing segment of our current generation who feel compelled to voice opposition to whatever the standing norms of society are. They can’t seem to accept anything that isn’t first thought of and practiced by them, and they just can’t resist letting the rest of the world hear all about it.

There was a time when these “oracles” went to the town’s public park and climbed on an apple box to shout their dissatisfaction with whatever happened to upset them on any given day, and keep it up until a crowd of curious park dwellers would take a break from feeding the pigeons and gather around the oracle to either boo or cheer the message. The pigeons offered no opinion one way or the other.

But it wasn’t long until towns stopped using valuable real estate for parks, and the next group of upcoming oracles had to devise another way to voice their displeasure and demands.

So, without a park to impart their speech, they came up with an even better plan; one which only required a handy public wall and a dollar can of spray paint. (The cost of free speech was getting expensive.)

Now, instead of giving long-winded speeches in some park, railing against society’s sins, they were delivered simply by spraying the message of accusation and condemnation across the walls in bright, bold colors; it only took a couple of minutes to do the job, and the message could be seen day or night, giving the oracle more free time to search for new subjects to grieve.

Then time (as it has a habit of doing) marched on, and it wasn’t long until fresh walls were also becoming scarce. That’s when opportunity rang the oracle’s doorbell once again.
Computer technology was advancing rapidly during this coming of the new guard; it had evolved from huge, clunky desktop units to much smaller, portable units called laptops.

To the new oracles, this was space-age, cutting edge stuff, and it didn’t take long to figure out how to adapt this new technology to their cause; whether in suit and tie from an office, or in pajamas from the comfort of a bed, their message could be spread at their convenience.

Now, they could tap out their fiery speeches and philosophy on a portable keyboard, then hit a single key, and zoooom! The message would be sent instantly and invisibly to thousands of laptop followers across the country; even the world. Soon, the airways of the “internet” hummed with millions of messages, crossing borders and continents, demanding to be heard. They now included a standard warning: “Or Else!”

Ironically, like that old saying about things changing but staying the same, it looks like we’ve come full-circle.

Coffee shops called “Starbucks” have become the parks of another era, and they’re filled with a brand new breed of high-tech oracles.

Instead of standing on an apple box, lecturing crowds on the current faults and failures of society, they sit quietly by themselves, tap, tap, tapping out the word, all while sipping a three-dollar cup of coffee.

I guess the price of a cup of coffee isn’t one of those things that stayed the same.

Oh, well. Chalk it off to the high cost of “free speech!”

Creepy Uncle Joe Biden’s Ukrainian Corruption Skeletons

| Opinion | April 11, 2019

There is talk making the rounds on social media about the wandering hands of “Creepy Uncle Joe” Biden when around young girls and women. If you haven’t seen the video of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions swatting Biden’s hands away from his granddaughter, you should.

Numerous videos exist of uncomfortable young women forced to put on a smile when inappropriately touched by Creepy Uncle Joe, but Sessions is the only one with the power – and knowledge of his wandering hands – to keep it from happening.

But other skeletons are coming out of the closet for Creepy Uncle Joe, and despite their being about corruption rather than stealing innocence, the tea leaves are showing that these may likely do some damage to Obama’s former VP and potential 2020 Democrat party presidential candidate.

We recently found out through Attorney General Barr’s letter summarizing the Mueller report that much of the media’s portrayal of collusion between President Trump and Russia was false.

But the story that still isn’t being widely reported is that there actually was collusion – through Hillary Clinton, the DNC and the Obama administration.

Yes, there was collusion – but the skeletons are in the closet of the DNC.

If you really want to know what’s been going on, there are a few reporters still involved in actual investigative journalism: John Solomon, Sara Carter, Dan Bongino (Dan literally wrote the book on Spygate, and his next edition is about to be published) and Tracy Beanz.

Solomon’s latest reporting is peeling back the curtain on the actual collusion and corruption that took place, and it seems the first battleground will be in the Ukraine.

Aside from the evidence that Alexandra Chalupa has been identified as a DNC operative colluding with Ukraine to provide dirt on Manafort in an attempt to harm President Trump (precisely what they projected on the Trump campaign), there are some corruption connections that could be very damaging to Creepy Uncle Joe’s potential presidential run.

At the same time Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with the Ukraine and its tense negotiations with Russia, his son Hunter Biden was appointed to a rather peculiar board seat and paid a significant amount of money from an industry that he had zero experience in.

All told his son’s company, Rosemont Seneca, was paid over $3 million in monthly payments of over $166,000 for Hunter Biden to sit on the board of Ukraine’s largest natural gas company, an industry in which he has no experience.

But he did have a Vice President father negotiating with the Ukrainian government at the same time that Hunter was given the board seat.

To add more fuel to the fire, Biden bragged at an event last year that he threatened Ukrainian President Poroshenko to fire a prosecutor who was looking into the very firm that had hired Biden’s son, Busima Holdings. Biden’s threats to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. to Ukraine if the prosecutor wasn’t fired indicates that this action was approved at the highest levels – of which there’s only one above the Vice President.

Solomon’s reporting has also shown that multiple Ukrainian officials have been trying to deliver evidence of collusion with and corruption involving U.S. officials to the Department of Justice for quite some time, but have been thwarted by U.S. officials, including our ambassador.

It seems we are finally at the point where we may learn which stories we’ve been told over the past 2 years were lies, and which were outright projection from the DNC.

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

The Chutzpah Of Defending The Indefensible

| Opinion | April 11, 2019

by Eric Goldin

If I may indulge you for a moment about a ridiculous scenario, imagine if a Jewish person tried to defend Nazism. What if they were to say, “Nazism isn’t actually all that bad. Hitler didn’t hate Jews. You haven’t fully studied the whole geo-political situation and global affairs in regards to the rise of the Nazi party. Have you fully read the Nazi’s official platform? Have you studied every single speech given by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and other top-ranking Nazis at the time? Have you fully read Mein Kampf in the original German?”

This would all be pure foolishness. But what if they were to continue … “Even if Nazism was terrible, it’s the United States’ fault anyway. Germany was treated harshly after World War 1 which led to the rise of extremist groups. If the Allies had been kinder to Germany, then World War 2 and the Holocaust would’ve never happened. The Treaty of Versailles, crafted by the United States and the Allied powers, was the reason why Jews were killed in Nazi Germany. America is to blame for the Holocaust!”

They might even also chime in by saying, “Hitler killed so many people because his critics really made him angry. If nobody criticized him, he would’ve been more benevolent.”

Wouldn’t all this be so idiotic that it could only be used for material in a farcical comedy skit?

Sadly, far-leftists actually do make these same arguments in defense of Islam. The religion of Islam is the most anti-liberal religion in the entire world, yet liberals are constantly defending any criticism of it. First, they’ll try to claim that Islam isn’t really bad. They’ll say, “Have you fully read the Qur’an in the original Arabic? Have you studied the full writings and teaching of Mohammad the Prophet? Have you gone to a Mosque and studied from an Imam? Islam is actually progressive!” If you respond by saying that you can fully understand the nature of Islam by seeing the actions it inspires, which includes by far the most amount of terrorism in the world – and Islamic nations, governed by Sharia Law, being the most draconian and least progressive nations on the face of the Earth, leftists will still say you don’t fully understand Islam. They’ll claim that the horrible things that go on in Islamic countries are the result of the actions of the United States and other western nations. They’ll blame the Iraq War. They blame the intervention in Syria. They’ll blame Israel. They’ll blame George W. Bush. They’ll blame Ronald Reagan. They’ll even blame Barack Obama. They’ll then try to encourage you to stop talking about Islam altogether.

The same arguments that liberals use to defend Islam are the exact same arguments a person could use to defend Nazism. You don’t have to read Mein Kampf to know how violent, racist and destructive Nazism was. Even if you’ve never listened to one speech by Adolf Hitler, you can still easily tell how bad Nazism is. Likewise, you don’t have to be an expert on Islamic literature to see how bad fundamental Islam is. You can see the horrible atrocities and human rights violations, inspired by Sharia Law, that go on in Islamic nations to know how bad it is. Anytime you hear a liberal defending Islam, imagine to yourself how easy it is to apply that same idiotic defense to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. The word “Islamophobia” has been cooked up by Social Marxists in a silly attempt to silence the critics of Islam. Shouting “Islamophobia” is just as silly as screaming “Naziophobia.”

Notes from an Extreme Centrist The Border Crisis? A Pox on Both their Houses!

| Opinion | April 11, 2019

Donald Trump’s wall is an attempt to solve the wrong problem. The masses gathering at our southern border are more like refugees from Syria flooding Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey than single men from Mexico looking for work, who used to constitute the majority of our illegal crossings. Single Mexican men represent less than a trickle of the folks attempting entry into the U.S. The vast majority are migrant families who gather at legal ports of entry. Most of those who do cross illegally actually report to the authorities so they can file for asylum. A wall simply won’t do the job.

Trump, however, is correct about two things: There is an emergency, and the culprit is the Flores Decision mandating that unaccompanied minors be released within 20 days. But his policy is all wrong. The Democrats, for their part, have been expending all their political capital denying a problem exists, and they are as culpable as the president.

This is a refugee problem, and that is how it must be addressed. We have to figure out how to protect both our national interests and our values. The first moral/ethical imperative is to treat these people humanely. The second is to protect our national interests. We must have secure borders. Our economy simply can’t absorb all the Third World refugees who want to come here. They place too great a burden on our social services and schools, and they depress wages for low-skilled Americans. The root problem driving this wave of migration is the failed states in Central America where economies and the rule of law are collapsing. If we want to mitigate the problem in a way consistent with our values, we must make a choice. Do we address the root causes, or the symptoms?

The first step is for Trump to go to Pelosi with a deal. Give up on wall funding for now, beyond what was funded in the deal that reopened the government last January. Do this, in exchange for legislation allowing us to treat this as a refugee crisis, overturning the Flores decision, allowing the establishment of semi-permanent refugee camps in partnership with NGOs and other international refugee organizations. That will allow us to both treat the migrants more humanely and effectively dedicate the resources needed – more immigration officers, courts and judges – to rationally and expeditiously process the claims for asylum and send those who don’t qualify back home.

The second step is for Trump to organize a coalition of western hemisphere nations to cooperatively deal with the problem. Then we have to make the really hard choice: Do we want to stabilize the nations of Central America? Do we want to engage in the kind of nation building we have spent two decades attempting in Iraq and Afghanistan? Alternatively, do we want to house refugees in permanent camps for the foreseeable future, like the Palestinians for the last 70 years? Neither “solution” is easy or pretty. There is one huge difference, however, between Central America and the Middle East. This isn’t half a world away, and the armed thugs are street gangs, not highly organized international terrorist groups funded by Iran and Saudi Arabia. So, this problem may be somewhat less intractable for us, and it is immediate and local. The bottom line is that if Trump succeeds with his current policy, which essentially amounts to simply locking these people in Mexico, the problem will only get worse. Mexico will eventually and inevitably become a failed state, with a collapsing economy as well. If that ever happens, our current problems will look like a cakewalk.

There is yet another piece of this puzzle that no one seems to be addressing. The drug trafficking issue that Trump complains about in every immigration speech and at every rally isn’t a one-way street. Something like 85 percent of the guns confiscated from the drug and street gangs in Mexico and Central America come from the United States. United States gun manufacturers profit from the chaos that drives our immigration/refugee crisis, much like the opioid crisis was originally driven by legitimate drug manufacturers. But guns are the third rail of Trump/GOP politics. When I look at places like Yemen, where millions of people are literally starving to death because no one can get enough food aid into the country, I ask myself, how is it that they never run out of guns, mortars and bullets? How do weapons flow in so easily, but food is effectively blocked? Why can’t we put restrictions on gun manufacturers and control the illegal flow of guns to the criminals who are driving refugees to our southern border?

The fact is that neither political party, nor Donald Trump, is as committed to solving the problem as they are to exploiting it as a political issue. Politically, the problem works really well by mobilizing their respective bases. It is a great catalyst for creating primal anger — the mother’s milk of identity politics — and the driving force in both political parties and the fuel that feeds Trump-ism.

Also, while I acknowledge the current crisis, calling it a crisis is misleading. It is actually a chronic condition affecting the entire world, and it will never go away. Human beings will always flee violence and economic desperation. Climate change will only increase mass migration. The coffee and corn crops in Central America are suffering from long-term drought caused by climate change, where what water fallen comes in floods caused by extreme weather events, resulting in more damage than relief, and the impacted peasants join the migration caravans.

The longer we pretend we can solve this problem ourselves by simply keeping people out, the worse it’s going to get, both for us and the migrants. The only long-term solution is to acknowledge this as a long-term, chronic condition of the modern world and the only effective approach is to develop international humane protocols to deal with it.

Repeal the 17th

| Opinion | April 11, 2019

Dear Reader,

I must admit that a day does not pass where I am not appalled by leftist making a unified assault against our Republic. I remember the words attributed to Benjamin Franklin. By tradition, when he walked out the doors of the Constitutional Convention, someone shouted out, “Dr. Franklin, what type of government did you give us?” He responded by saying, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” A Republic; not some sweetened version of democratic socialism. Not one concerned with the rights of the State, but rather the rights of the individual citizen and the states. (Not “state.”) The recent call for the elimination of the Electoral College is a call to dissolve our Republic.

Over one hundred years ago, a major support for states rights and a protection from tyranny was altered, and our country is the lesser for it.

When our founders, led by James Madison, wrote and approved the Constitution of the United States, they had a very different vision for how Senators are elected than they are under the current law. Just like the Electoral College, the Senate was designed to represent the interests of the individual states. It was written to be a further protection from the tyranny of the majority. The House of Representatives was designed to represent the will of the people and encouraged that the Representatives be close to their constituents by having a short term of only two years.

The Constitution made it clear how our Senators were to be selected.

“Article 1, Section. 3: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each senator shall have one vote.”

Notice how it states that the two Senators for each state were to be chosen by the state’s Legislature and not by a general election. It was another example that we have a representative form of government and not a democracy. The people of the state directly voted for their state legislators and the legislators selected their two representatives to the U.S. Senate. The Senators answered only to the State Legislature, with no need to market themselves to the public. They had little outside influence other than their own legislature that could affect their decisions. It was a great system to make sure that their first interest concerned what would benefit their state.

That all changed on May 13, 1912, when Article1, Section 3 was modified by the passage of the 17th Amendment. The important change in the text is as follows:

17th Amendment

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each senator shall have one vote.”

“Elected by the people thereof” changed everything. Now senators needing funds for massive statewide campaigns are open to influence from donors all over the country. For example, I donated to Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. I was happy to do so. However, now I receive solicitations for his Texas state senate campaigns. I live in California and I believe it is wrong for me to be a source of outside influence in Texas politics. Do you believe that our U.S. Senators should be beholden to rich oilmen in Texas? I believe it’s time to repeal the 17th Amendment and help preserve the Republic.

Always Advocating Alan – Counting Eggs and Chickens

| Opinion | April 11, 2019

I am a great fan of Aesop’s Fables. One of my favorites is “The Milkmaid and Her Pail.” One version goes something like this:

“A Milkmaid had been out to milk the cows and was returning from the field, with a shiny milk pail balanced nicely on her head. As she walked along, her mind was filled with wondrous plans for the days to come.

“‘This good rich milk,’ she mused, ‘will give me plenty of cream to churn. The butter I make I will take to market, and with the money I get for it, I will buy a lot of eggs for hatching. How nice it will be when all have hatched, and the yard is full of fine young chicks. Then, when May Day comes, I will sell them. With the money I receive, I’ll buy a lovely new dress to wear to the fair. All the young men will look at me, and when they come near and try to kiss me, I shall very quickly send them about their business!’

“As she thought of how she would settle with these young men, she tossed her head scornfully, and down fell the pail of milk to the ground, and as all the milk flowed out of the pail, with it went her plans for butter, eggs, chicks, and a new dress, along with all the milkmaid’s pride.”

I hope you enjoy this fable as much as I do. Most of the time, the moral of this story is stated as, “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.” While it is certainly the case, I believe Aesop might have had an additional, much deeper moral in mind. Because while there are many different versions of this fable, they all seem to conclude the milkmaid’s display of head movement was to show distain for those who would have taken advantage of her. In fact, she appeared to be celebrating her future conquest over them, long before it would happen. So, a little deeper meaning might be, “Don’t celebrate your victory over others until you are actually successful and win.” Or, as Yogi Berra would put it, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

I see nothing wrong with Aesop’s Milkmaid formulating what in today’s world would be considered a business plan. She thought of her raw materials, how to initiate a manufacturing process, and implement a marketing plan. A good business strategy is paramount to starting a successful business venture. It allows the business owner to anticipate problems and formulate “work-arounds” in advance. Unfortunately, Aesop’s Milkmaid sabotaged herself by being pompous and cavalier.

As I sit and think about the truth contained in this fable, I can’t help drawing an analogy to the city’s 20-year Cemex battle. It seems like we were always celebrating, but we never obtained victory. For example, do you remember the celebration in 2006, when 13 “Thank You Buck for HR5471” banners flew over Santa Clarita’s major arterials, plus one on Valencia Boulevard in front of City Hall? Ms. Ortiz, then the City of Santa Clarita Communications Manager, let the air out of the party when she was quoted as stating, “The banners were intended to broadcast that neither the mine project nor the bill’s outcome are final, and are part of a campaign to thank McKeon, pique interest in the issue and garner support for the bill. About 150,000 sets of postcards voicing support for the measure …. will be sent to all Santa Clarita Valley households and to some in the Antelope Valley. The $5,000 cost for the banners and thousands spent on the postcards comes from the city’s general fund.”

Sometime later, on December 11, 2014, SCVTV published a City of Santa Clarita Press Release telling us, “Santa Clarita received an early Christmas present today from Congress, when Rep. Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon’s HR 5742 unanimously passed on the floor of the House of Representatives as a stand-alone bill.” Then, Councilmember Weste commented, “This is a tremendous victory for our community, protecting us from large-scale mining and is as important to the protection of the Santa Clara River.” Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Kellar stated, “In my 15 years on the City Council, this is by far the best day.  Enough cannot be said for the huge effort put forth by so many to bring us to this point.”

Sadly, the bill did not stop the mine or end the story.

Even later, on August 21, 2015, it was reported that the Bureau of Land Management cancelled the CEMEX mining contracts, “based on Cemex’s own inaction.” BLM California State Director Jim Kenna wrote in a statement the next Friday, “The BLM can no longer support the continued and prolonged delays and lack of progress in fulfilling the terms of the contract.” Unfortunately, Santa Clarita’s euphoria was short lived, and on September 30, 2015, ARI reported, “Cemex has appealed last month’s Bureau of Land Management decision to cancel its mining contracts in Soledad Canyon.” Cemex accused the BLM of an “improper decision” and “arbitrary actions,” noting the company has devoted “considerable time” and money working with stakeholders over the past several years for a resolution to the dispute between the mining firm and the community opposed to the mine. City Councilwoman Laurene Weste acknowledged what was happening by saying, “Filing an appeal would be the normal standard response I would expect from a company.”

Just recently, the latest celebration took place during a city press conference, as reported by KHTS, on March 21, 2019. The Interior Board of Land Appeals ruled one of Cemex’s contracts remained valid. Based on their decision, CEMEX retains mining rights through July 2020. Mike Murphy, the Intergovernmental Relations Manager for the City of Santa Clarita said, “The ruling technically leaves Cemex with one of two contracts still valid, but without much time remaining … The practical implications of this ruling are that Cemex is left with a 16-month valid contract for a mine, but they don’t have any of the permits in place.” Mr. Murphy went on to clarify the situation when he stated, “There is no practical way that Cemex can obtain the permits it needs to begin mining … They would have to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and that takes a minimum of between 18 and 24 months … They would also need permits from the (California) State Water Resources people.” Mr. Murphy emphasized, “I am 100 percent confident that this (ruling) is going to stick.”

“This is a landmark decision, and a landmark day,” Councilmember Weste said. “I’m just glad I lived long enough to see this come to fruition.” Councilmember Kellar “then went on to explain the decision reached by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), terminates the contracts that Cemex has in Soledad Canyon in July of 2020 … This means that mining will never take place in our community.”

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed Councilmember Kellar and Mr. Mike Murphy are correct. Santa Clarita residents would not benefit from having a large-scale mining operation on our doorstep. But Cemex may have some inside track on permits, or they could take the IBLA’s decision back to court. So, I agree with Councilmember Kellar who went further and said, “We must continue to be vigilant in our efforts over the next 16 months.”

Aesop’s lesson is relevant to this situation, and if he was here, he would advise Mr. Kellar to walk very carefully, as none of us wants to hear Santa Clarita spilled the milk, because as Yogi Berra put it, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Then, when it is over and our community has won, I will celebrate.

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | April 11, 2019

I would appreciate it if columnist Ronne Nathan (who falsely calls himself “an extreme Centrist”) would tell the readers the truth that he is just as biased as any columnist from the N.Y. Times. He bashes President trump in all his columns and never has an unkind word about any bad-for-America leftist Democrats of which all of those types are unfortunately running for President. Is that what he wants us to believe? That he is actually an EXTREME CENTRIST? Don’t quite think so Ronnie. Maybe now he can call himself “My Columns from an extremely BIASED LIBERAL.”

-Lynda W.

Creativity Advocacy – Creativity and the Weather

| Opinion | April 5, 2019

It seems as though Mother Nature has been a bit bi-polar lately. Hot one day—cold the next. She can’t make up her mind whether to shine the sun or sprinkle the sage. We So-Cal natives aren’t used to carrying umbrellas, so these weather changes force us to change the way we commute, conduct our exercise and care for our gardens. We aren’t accustomed to factoring in the weather when we make our daily plans. It’s a new way of being.

This new way of being could be the correlation I use to remind readers that Creativity is a force that promotes the novel, the innovative, the new. But that’s not where I’m going. Not today.

Creativity is indeed found in nature, in the seasons when leaves bequeath to the earth during autumn, in the death and resurrection of crops, in the stunning colors of the infamous poppies all across the California landscape. It’s a beautiful thing when tourists flock to witness the bright blossoms spreading for miles across the used-to-be-barren landscape.

But beyond this, the weather highlights the component of Creativity that’s most important to me. Creativity is what brings us, as humans, together. Films, concerts, architecture, literature, dances—even a delicious family dinner—these Creative acts function to bring folks together and build community. Creative acts unify us. Creativity connects us. We can relate to one another’s suffering and joy through story; we can laugh together at a comedy club; we can resonate with the bass guitar at a local gig.

When the weather shifts from winter to spring (then back again if we use 2019 as our gauge) it brings us out of the house and connects us. Neighbors discuss the weather on the streets, at the grocery store and on social media. In the Pacific Northwest, weather is a subject of conversation all year round because it’s so rainy most days that Pacific-Northwesterners bond out of necessity. Alaskans, too, are forced to unite and support one another, even complete strangers, because for many months of the year it’s so dark they must rely on human companionship (and the occasional light-box to stave off seasonal-affective-disorder).

In addition to connecting people through conversation or through shoveling snow, the weather connects us to nature, especially when contending with extremes. We have no choice but to honor her mighty power when temperatures drop so low that leaving the house might threaten our survival. As a California native, I’ve lived my life with little consideration for weather except in extreme heat (thank the gods for air-conditioning!) Imagine, there was a time in history when our species relied on stars for direction and plants for medicine. Migration revolved around weather patterns! The sun was a technology used to schedule work, play, sleep. These days, we tend to rely more upon TV forecasts for weather, palm-held devices for scheduling and synthetic means for health. Inclement weather reminds us of our deep connection to nature.

Not only does nature impact us but we impact nature. It’s reciprocal, symbiotic.

Nothing is isolated.
When and if we collectively overlook our deep connection to nature, we potentially hurt nature. Since our technologies are proven to be damaging to the planet, we must readjust our practices to honor nature. The notion that climate change is responsible for our fickle weather is a conversation worth having. We will need to use our Creativity to brainstorm and implement solutions to oil drilling, plastics and factory farming sooner than later if our planet is to recover.

Changing weather can activate our Creativity as we shift our routines and then gather to talk about it. Viewing life through the lens of Creativity will help connect us to each other and the world around us. Awareness is the beginning of any cultural shift and Creativity is what will dictate innovation under the umbrella of the interconnectedness of all things.

Sell it Like it Is

| Opinion | April 4, 2019

by Dale Paule

Whenever a product is sold in stores or advertised on TV and radio, the law requires the maker to dedicate a major portion of that ad to contain a buyer’s warning that operating or consuming the product could be hazardous to their health and safety.

Sounds like a pretty sensible idea, doesn’t it? I mean, even if only a few need some of the more rarely used products, it’s still a good idea to show both the harmful and the helpful features; especially if they contain anything which could be outright deadly!

So, as strange as it may seem, in a rare instance of enacting a law that turns out benefitting, as opposed to punishing the public, politicians have actually done something useful; and for that, I congratulate them for a fine job of “enacting.”

It is in that same spirit that I suggest they have a golden opportunity to make it two in a row!

While it’s true not everyone uses all of the many products covered under this law, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the politician’s products.

The public in fact has no choice, but is forced to “buy” the politician’s products. It’s not optional, and worse, more often than not, they’ll end up doing more harm than good!

Many times, after we’ve “purchased” the politician’s product, we find that none of the problems in them – which end up doing the most harm – are ever corrected, cured, or fixed. And in fact, they may have even multiplied.

Allow me to offer a simple solution; how about enacting a law which would require every politician running for re-election to submit a “resume” containing a similar sort of “warning.” One that reveals their past voting record, including any and all failures to deliver prior promised results: no excuses, just the true and honest past history, for the record, down and dirty. What harm could there be in that?

In fact, as long as we’re at it, we may as well push the envelope to the edge and insist the resume contain annual incomes, plus all perks and generous government benefits they would receive – for life – if re-elected!

The public would certainly benefit greatly from this. Politicians, not so much.
The public would benefit from at least having a shot at knowing the truth about the person they’re expected to vote for; and likely very few of the required “resumes” would ever end up in our mailboxes, and on television, harassing our eyes and ears during election time.

Well, now that that’s settled, all we have to do is wait for politicians to agree to enact this law!

P.S. Warning: Holding your breath for extended periods may be harmful to your health.

The Female Super Bowl

| Opinion | April 4, 2019

by Harry Parmenter

Last weekend my 29-year-old stepdaughter married a fine young man at a beautiful wedding ceremony. Both attended Canyon High and have known one another since eighth grade. The groom’s rock-solid family is a group of longtime Santa Claritians, and my wife and her ex-husband raised three kids here, until I entered the picture with my three kids as we blended into a bunch more Wild than Brady.

There’s been plenty of drama: three-day parties with fireworks and cops when Mom and Step-Dad were out of town, a swallowed toothbrush, coyotes, bobcats and loyal watchdogs lording over the house, cigarettes and alcohol, soccer games and school graduations weaving an emotional tapestry of two adults and six children growing up in public. Somehow, over the course of 16 years, we became a family with love, understanding and compromise trumping anger, alienation and angst.

This was the first wedding among the brood, all grown up now in various stages of life’s journey. From the moment boy proposed to girl on a bluff in San Francisco, after boy respectfully asked permission for her hand of each parental unit—remarkable, old fashioned respect in this fractious era—with girl accepting, a text bulletin announced “that all systems were go,” unleashing a frenzy of estrogen with planning and preparation rivaling Operation Desert Storm. Because what is a big wedding, after all, but the Female Super Bowl?

Generation Millennial has taken the Big Event to a new level: extended-stay bridesmaid getaways, three-day bachelor party cruises, ninja wedding planners who leave no stone unturned, no scenario unanticipated and no cost unbilled. My role, like the other fathers in the mix, was to surrender the checkbook and attempt to smooth over any bittersweet emotions rising to the fore along the highway to hormone harmony.

The big weekend finally arrived after a tsunami of tension, shouting, screaming and explosive emails, but enough about our recent septic tank issues. The grand event unfolded into an unforgettable weekend of family, friendship and celebration. Nearly 175 people came from all corners of the land via road, air and sea, with old and new bonds formed and reformed, laughter and conversation uniting all in a testament to the young couple’s infectious spirit.

Having just observed the sobering anniversary of my father’s death, and my wife the painfully recent Christmas loss of her Dad, we were reminded of what matters most in our short time on this great green Earth: love and unity, enjoying each day, savoring the good moments and withstanding the bad, and enduring the marathon of the good, the bad and the ugly of life lived, from maternity to matrimony.

Following the couple’s exchange of personalized vows and the official declaration of marriage, came a reception of toasts and speeches spanning the spectrum of hilarious reminiscences and tearful tributes to absent relations; then the booze poured and the music roared as we twisted and shouted into the night. My darling wife, who had worked tirelessly to make her daughter’s special day perfect, released the pressure valve of stress to lead us all on the dance floor. Happiness abounded and troubles vanished as the gods smiled down upon us.

When the evening inevitably drew to a close, I took the wheel with my beloved beside me, and her ex-husband – who has recently experienced a series of significant health setbacks – in the back seat as we drove to the nearby hotel where much of our group had decamped. Our complicated relationships had long ago become amicable, a blessing not to be underestimated in divorce.

Driving the parents of my stepdaughter together was emblematic of the solidarity our topsy-turvy blended family had achieved. John Lennon’s voice echoed in my head as I finally slipped into darkness, content with the knowledge life’s plans had played out perfectly for once, a moment to be cherished and savored.

Life is work and vocations can define our identities, but the bottom line is always love and acceptance. It’s later than we think, but it’s better than we think, and I felt a flood of gratitude eradicate my fatigue as I drove home Sunday afternoon. Our wild bunch has evolved into a mild bunch and we had come together to create a truly special memory.

School Shootings: A Root Cause Analysis (Hint: It’s Not the guns)

| Opinion | April 4, 2019

If your engine broke down on your drive home from work this evening, would you immediately file a lawsuit against the gas station at which you last filled up your tank? No, that would be ridiculous – bad gas is merely a single variable from a long list of things that could cause that damage.

So why is it that every time there’s a school or mass shooting event the media, politicians and celebrities from the left automatically single out one variable without any further analysis into the root cause of the issue?

There are three main variables which seem to be consistent with each of these events: guns, teenagers on antidepressants and teenage boys raised in a fatherless home. Unlike the talking heads in the media, grandstanding politicians and clueless celebrities, we will take a look at each of these variables to determine which one seems more likely to be the root cause, and see if we can actually fix the issue rather than causing more problems.

Guns

Rahm Emanuel famously said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Following this mantra, the same variable is automatically blamed for each school or mass-shooting event around the world.

But there are a few major indications that guns aren’t the issue. First, we look at the timeline to see when these events started to happen: the Columbine shooting occurred on April 20, 1999, and is often referred to as the start to what became an all-too-often event in our nation.

If we are to truly look at causality in these events, we have to see which variables are most closely linked to them. So we must ask: did guns suddenly become available, or more prevalent in households around that time?

The answer is a resounding no. Our nation was begun in armed rebellion against the British monarchy, and since our inception the USA has been a nation with an armed citizenry. A Japanese Admiral even famously remarked during WWII that “invading the USA would be suicide, as there would be a gun behind every blade of grass.”

So, if guns have been prevalent in our nation since its inception, but these school and mass shootings are a relatively new phenomenon, how could one immediately jump to the conclusion that they are the root cause of this issue? How could it be that guns have been a significant part of our culture for so long, but suddenly became an issue?

Unless they aren’t.

Teenagers on Antidepressants

If we’re looking at the three major variables as possible root causes, there is another variable which seems much more highly correlated to this tragedy upon our nation: over-medicated teenagers.

The FDA issued a “black box” warning for SSRI’s (antidepressants) for teenagers in 2004 due to them being linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors in teens, and in some children antidepressants may also trigger anxiety, agitation, hostility, restlessness or impulsive behavior.

That warning, however, came long after these drugs had begun being prescribed in abundance to our teenagers.

This warning was issued after a study revealed that approximately 4 percent of teens taking antidepressants showed the dangerous symptoms above.

And wouldn’t you know it? The beginning of our teens being prescribed these same antidepressants is correlated to when the school and mass shootings started to occur.

Have you ever heard the media mention how many of the school shooters were on antidepressants?

It’s an alarmingly high number.

Teenage Boys Raised in Fatherless Homes

I recently heard an interview on The Adam Carolla Show by Warren Farrell, PhD, author of the book The Boy Crisis. I bought his book immediately after listening, and hope that you will too.

Being a divorced father raising four kids (two boys and two girls), there were a few statistics given by Dr. Farrell that were not only alarming, but also seem to correlate much more highly to school shooting events than guns … and you have to wonder why we don’t hear these stats more often:

•90% of school shooters were teenage boys raised in fatherless homes
•Over 90% of men in prison were raised in fatherless homes
•Nearly every foreign ISIS recruit captured was raised in a fatherless home

In this interview, Dr. Farrell brings up another extremely salient point: if the true root cause of school shootings were the guns and nothing else, shouldn’t we see an even distribution of both teen boys AND girls as school shooters?

Yet, nobody talks about this.

Now that the Mueller report has been submitted and Americans are beginning to discover that their media, politicians and loud-mouthed celebrities have been lying to them for two years, you really have to wonder…

What else have they been lying to us about?

And why have we never seen any of the above questions asked, nor statistics given during the wall-to-wall coverage after any school shooting event?

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

Notes from an Extreme Centrist – Is America a melting pot, a salad bowl or a pressure cooker?

| Opinion | April 4, 2019

My mother was born in the Ukraine, part of Czarist Russia, before WWI. For the first decade of her life, her village was literally a battleground through the Great War, Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War. The armies that invaded and successively occupied her village – Germans, Poles, Cossacks, White Russians, and Red Russians – all had one thing in common: They hated and massacred Jews. Mom and my family finally got out, trekking across Europe to Antwerp, sailing across the Atlantic in steerage, arriving on Ellis Island in 1922, one of last boats before the doors of immigration slammed shut with the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924. Most of those who remained behind and survived Stalin became Holocaust victims 20 years later.

About 25 years ago, I had an incredibly moving experience as an assistant principal in a Brooklyn high school. While most of our students were Latino, we had a small but significant Muslim Arab population. A very bright Palestinian girl in our senior class came to me crying. She wanted to apply to college, but her family had planned an arranged marriage that would take place soon after her 18th birthday. They refused to allow her to stay in school past graduation. She agreed to let me meet with her parents. At the end of our conference, which was amazingly successful, her father asked me if I was a Jew. I said, “Yes, I am!” Literally, with tears in his eyes, he told me that in his country the two of us wouldn’t be talking. Instead, we would be killing each other. He said that only in America could a Jew and a Palestinian talk to each other with respect and trust to help his family. We hugged each other and, for a moment, became brothers … Only in America!

When I was a young man, America’s incredible diversity was an anomaly. Typically, most nations were largely homogenous, sharing a common ethnicity, language, religion, history and culture. Historically, America coped with our unique diversity with a strange stew of institutional prejudice, second generation assimilation and ultimately increasing tolerance. In a peculiar way unique to America, our abiding racial tensions, the legacy of slavery, America’s original sin, mostly distracted us from conflict between white ethnicities. If one was white, no matter where you came from, you could eventually blend into the melting pot.

Ironically, in 21st century America, just when our racial tensions based on blatant racism are subsiding, even electing our first “black” president, tensions over class, culture, politics and immigration are approaching a boiling point. Republicans and Democrats demonize each other. Our own leaders, rather than working toward common sense solutions, serve their selfish political interests instead of the national interest by stirring the pot to increase tensions. The same folks charged with making the system work, a political miracle invented by our founders, are tearing our norms and institutions of governance apart, increasing the distrust in government and the very institutions that made America great.

President Trump, you can’t make America great again by dividing us. Your job, as the only nationally elected official, along with your V.P., is to unite us. Your job isn’t to destroy the norms of civil conversation. Your job is to be a role model of civility. More than ever, we need our president and political institutions to cool the raging waters of conflict. We have huge challenges ahead of us; climate change, national debt and deficits, health care, immigration, international and homegrown terrorism, issues of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and the environment. They aren’t going away. This is the world we are passing on to our kids and grandkids. We can’t solve these problems. That will take generations. But we need to give them the tools for solving them. President Trump didn’t invent our political conflicts. But he has built his political career and his presidency on fanning the flames.

My mom and grandma often cooked in a pressure cooker. It happened a few times when they forgot to lower the flame, the pressure cooker exploded, literally launching the pressure valve and the entire contents of the pot as high as our kitchen ceiling. I’ll never forget the hole made by the valve and pea soup dripping from the ceiling. I think of our precious nation at its best as a salad bowl. All of us, as diverse as we are, combined together in a common cause called America. Pressuring us to give up our unique differences in a melting pot was hard enough for first generation Americans like me. Remaking America into a pressure cooker is a prescription for disaster.

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