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Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | November 21, 2019

Like everyone in our “safe” grief-stricken city, I have no words to express. However, I do have a question. Why?
As a past teacher at Saugus High for two years with the R.O.P. program, I find myself reflecting back on a happier time walking on the campus to my classroom and finding students waiting for me to show up and ready to learn.
I think of these precious students of last Thursday who will no longer be able to do this and the fear current and future students will endure.
My heart goes out to the griving families of all students caught up in this travesty. And yes, we will continue to ask “when will this stop?” I remember reading some years ago, when at another time and school a student made the comment “This is our norm.” No, we can not let this be our norm or future.
Ken Dean, Santa Clarita

All That Glitters

| Opinion | November 15, 2019

Contributor Alan Ferdman’s article, “California is Headed Toward Being the Pyrite State” prompted me to write this poem. I, too, lament the fact that our Golden State is heading in the wrong direction.

I traveled out west to California
Chasing my elusive dream.
Hoping to find a golden nugget or two
While panning for gold in a stream.

My fantasy was to find my fortune.
“There’s gold in them there hills!”
That idiom, heard a thousand times,
Could be the end of all my ills.

So I followed in the footsteps
Of those legendary forty-niners
I had found a place just made for me.
I became one of those nugget miners.

The “Hills” became my metaphor
For a chance and an opportunity
Where I can grow and prosper
And be a member of the community.

I brought my nuggets to the assayer
To be rewarded for what I found.
My shiny rocks were worthless pyrite.
And all my ambition was drowned.

I awoke from my golden daydream
To find “them hills” were tinder-dry
Awaiting sparks to set them ablaze
With smoke and ash filling the sky.

I became aware that many other folk
Undermined my state, once golden.
Their nonsense, rage and ignorance
Had caused my dream to be stolen.

I also learned many other things
That are just shrugged off these days.
There are higher taxes and homelessness,
Rising crime and crowded freeways.

In my state, once thought to be sane,
Absurdity had gained the upper hand.
It’s now all glitter and no substance
And that gold became worthless sand.

What I see glittering around me
Are broken dreams, not the promised gold.
I see clueless and distracted souls
Unaware of the crisis about to enfold.

Too many gullible Californians
Are oblivious to what’s awaiting them.
Socialism will bring mass devastation
Which my state will never overcome.

Their stupidity took my Golden Dream
And changed it into a nightmare.
I will be forced to follow the crowd.
And to deviate I cannot dare.

Our lawmakers have the Minus Touch
Where anything made out of gold
Is immediately transformed into trash
While our future remains on hold.

I want to contribute and do my part.
I’m a Californian, I care about my state
Whether it’s due to fiscal failure or fire
I can’t sit back and watch it disintegrate.

William Tozzi is a member of the Golden Pen Writers Guild, Santa Clarita, CA

Always Advocating Alan – Fires, Power Outages, Risk Management and Your Elected Representatives

| Opinion | November 15, 2019

When you enter the workforce and start your journey building a career, you will probably find out that there is a lot to learn. This often happens despite the fact that you may have gone to school to learn a skill and may think you know what you will be doing. In my case, I spent two years studying basic electronics and vacuum tube theory, only to go out in industry and never see a vacuum tube in any of our products. Technology had passed me by, with solid state electronics now providing the functionality. I even had to learn to reverse my mindset as we discussed discrete circuitry design with hole flow as opposed to electron flow. So started my experience with lifelong learning, which has meant always scrambling to stay abreast of the latest components and technologies.

However, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. I had been working for about five years when general purpose digital computers started making their way into our test equipment products, along with the necessary software. I foresaw endless possibilities and could envision that a whole new world was about to open up. Since I was still the junior engineer in our group, and the electrical engineering types wanted nothing to do with this new soft technology, I was assigned to the activity. Sometimes, you just need to do what comes naturally, and after a few company classes, I realized software development was going to be my thing. Then lightning struck again when I was assigned to a project working with two consultants from Zeta Systems, who shaped my world for years to follow. Software development was a relatively new field, but even in its infancy, they understood and used coding conventions, variable naming standards, embedded documentation and configuration management techniques, most of which are still relevant today. All of this provided the skills for me to advance to lead programmer and finally a department manager.

It would have been nice if all things came as easily, but as I told those working on my projects, if it was easy, everybody would do it. So, I will admit, I had a hard time wrapping my arms around and implementing risk management. It was not until about halfway through my career, after returning to college to further study software engineering techniques and reading a few more books, that the concept became clearer. What I came to understand is that a risk management process is not just buying insurance or implementing fixes for problems after they become apparent. It encompasses the identification of all potential risks, analyzing their severity and likelihood of occurrence and then determining what should be done. Resulting actions could include mitigating (fixing) the risk, buying insurance to prevent loss, watching the issue over a period, accepting the risk, or retiring the risk when concern is no longer apparent. Each risk, including the individual action plan, must be approved by an appropriate risk owner. In this way, the risk owner assumes responsibility for the action plan and will take the issue far more seriously.

Does documenting a risk and risk owner always lead to a happy ending? Absolutely not. Take, for example, the Challenger space shuttle accident. Did the booster engineers know there was a potential safety risk to fly with a low ambient temperature? You bet they did. They were pressured into changing their position by the program manager, who traded off other concerns against a known safety risk. And that brings us to how human nature affects risk taking. We deal with risks every day. You experience the risk of having a tragic car accident every time you drive away from the curb. But, 99.9% of the time, you will arrive at your destination without a scratch, and the concerns over taking the risk diminishes with time. So, the Challenger’s program manager may have thought, “We have flown in low temperatures before. Why would I suspect there will be a problem today?” Of course, we know what happened.

I see similar scenarios with the wildfires our community has recently experienced. Have our governmental agencies developed and analyzed a list of all potential fire-related risks? Is there a mitigation plan established for each potential risk, and has the plan been effectively implemented? I think you know the answer. Wanting to understand how the City of Santa Clarita addresses risk management, I went to their website and became aware that risk management is now the responsibility of the city clerk. City risk management “administers the funding of self-insured portions of the program, manages administration of general liability claims … and provides training to minimize the risk of future losses.” Then I visited the L.A. County Fire Strategic Plan Community Risk Reduction Unit: “Community Risk Reduction is the identification and prioritization of risks, threats and hazards, followed by the implementation and evaluation of strategies to lessen their impact.” Finally, I went to the SCV Water website and searched on risk management. Surprisingly, the result came back without an answer and recommended I try another search.

Our first responders — firefighters and sheriff deputies from all over California and neighboring states — did an outstanding job fighting the latest round of wildfires, protecting our homes and saving lives. Yet, the lack of in-depth risk management planning and information on governmental agencies’ websites was not surprising. When risks lay dormant, with the severity and consequences outside of our daily concern, the subject of risk management is not very glamorous. But, when danger becomes apparent and an agency takes controversial actions like turning off the power (supposedly to keep us safe), our interest becomes keen, and our local politicians awaken to write letters and campaign on fixing the issue, waiting until the public loses interest.

So, I ask you, did turning the power off really keep us safe? Just like the example above, the plan did not always work as intended. There is always a risk when the power is restored, and in one case this past fire season, restoring power blew up a transformer, which in turn started a separate fire. Then there is the question of residents who rely on electricity to meet life-saving medical needs. Even if they have battery backup, there is a limit to how long the equipment will operate on its own. This week, the press reported that State Sen. Wilk called for a special session to investigate the effect power shutdowns have on local residents, Assemblyman Tom Lackey requested that FEMA provide water and generators to rural communities, and Assemblywoman Christy Smith wrote our governor requesting “far-reaching and comprehensive solutions.” Even our Santa Clarita City Council is getting in the act at the Nov. 12 City Council meeting, when they discuss the PUC’s plan to investigate the issue. It seems the glamor has returned to risk management.

This round, however, may hold the public interest a lot longer. Generators are flying off the shelves of local stores, and many residents are actively preparing for another round of arbitrary power blackouts. As the public invests money in keeping themselves safe, the subject of how to fix our power distribution system will be on the their mind for the foreseeable future. Plus, I’m betting it will not be long before we start hearing about injuries occurring when connecting generator power to homes, not to mention the danger of storing large quantities of gasoline.

In the meantime, we should be asking our elected representatives some obvious questions. If property owners are required to clear brush 100 feet from their homes, why doesn’t the city and county provide 100 feet of brush clearance at the boundary of the open space they own? Why are there vacant lots within city and county limits currently covered with dead brush? Why aren’t there fire hydrants installed in all areas where residents have been established? Why aren’t there fire hydrants available at the boundaries of all open space? Why haven’t our utilities been required to update their power distribution systems to account for the high winds we experience each year?

At the time of this writing, I plan to ask all those questions at the Nov. 12 City Council meeting. But most importantly, I want to know why the City of Santa Clarita doesn’t have a robust risk management process in place, with risk lists published for public consumption. By the time you read this, the meeting will already have happened. You can assess the City Council’s answers for yourself by going to their website.

I’m Ready for my Close-up Mr. DeMille

| Opinion | November 15, 2019

by Dale Paule

Everyone remembers that line in the great classic film, “Sunset Boulevard.”

The film tells the sad tale of Norma Desmond, an aging, once famous and adored silent film star recognized the world over, as she sits fantasizing about making a comeback from obscurity and living out her fantasy world in a luxurious, secluded mansion, along with her faithful butler on that eternally famous symbol of Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard.

She can’t accept the fact that “talkies” have replaced the silent films in which her fame, fortune and life began and ended all too soon.

Tragically and predictably, the movie comes to a disastrous end when she shoots and kills the young stranger whom she had coerced into writing the “colossal, stupendous” script which she fantasizes will launch her back into the world of glory, bright lights and throngs of adoring fans who would once again shower her with heaping baskets of gushing fan mail.

It was a Hollywood film about Hollywood, drama at its best. But some would ask: “Could such a thing happen?” “Has such a thing happened?” “Is such a thing happening?” Well, as sure as art imitates life — or is that the other way around? — it not only could, but has happened, and in fact is happening.

If you watch any of the current “news” coverage of Hillary Clinton, the aging, once famous, etc., etc., it’s obviously a TV miniseries version of Norma Desmond’s fantasy, with only a couple of minor differences: Norma Desmond was a former adored silent film star, while Hillary Clinton is a former deplored, loud political star.

Norma Desmond lived in a secluded mansion on Sunset Boulevard, while Hillary Clinton has many secluded mansions. Someone else wrote the comeback script for Norma Desmond, while Hillary Clinton acts, writes and directs herself, and doesn’t bother with showing her “colossal, stupendous” fictional tales in movie theaters, but leaves it to the mainstream media to sell them. And while poor Norma Desmond no longer had throngs of fans sending her fan letters once her fame had faded, our Hillary Clinton still has many fans sending her “fan letters,” many of them redeemable in cash. And finally, the way Norma Desmond saw the reason for her decline was expressed in these words: “I am big; it’s the pictures that have gotten small!” “Without me, there wouldn’t be any Paramount Pictures!” Hillary Clinton’s version goes something like this: “I’m still big; it’s the Democratic Party that’s gotten small!” Then, just to add a pinch of salt: “There wouldn’t be a Democratic Party without me!”

Well, it’s fun to laugh at such comparisons until you realize that half of it is Hollywood make-believe, and the other half is Washington, D.C. reality. It’s like comparing “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”! In the Norma Desmond version, when it’s over, you get up and walk out of the theater. With Hillary Clinton’s, they lock the doors, and you could be in there living the nightmare for a long, long time.

Here’s some good news though: we’ve got a little over a year to wait and see how close to our fears or hopes it’s going to actually look like as we await “The End.”

So for now, grab a bag of popcorn, sit back, relax and enjoy, while we continue shooting the rest of “Sunset Boulevard II”

“Quiet on set!”

“Lights,”

“Camera,”

And … “ACTION!”

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | November 15, 2019

Letter to the Editor – Gazette Newspaper
November 14, 2019

Santa Clarita Valley Political Shenanigans – Part II

Clandestine
This is a follow-up to my letter to the editor from last week.  A number of folks have stated unequivocally that Scott Wilk was NOT pulling the strings on Steve Knight’s sudden decision to pursue campaigning for our CA 25th Congressional District.  Instead, it’s been said that it was actually Congressman Kevin McCarthy who urged Knight and his decision was based on an NRCC Poll which by the way, no one has seen.

Seeking Truth
However, I’m not aware of anyone who’s knows for certain whether it was Wilk or McCarthy as neither have made public declarations who urged Knight to run.  But here’s a very interesting topic circulating throughout our Congressional District:  At a recent political meeting it was reported that Scott Wilk threw an embarrassing temper tantrum and withdrew his $5000 financial support after urging committee members to support Steve Knight.  They wholeheartedly declined Wilk’s proposition in favor of supporting our local Navy combat fighter pilot and businessman, Mike Garcia, whose strong campaign effort this year has catapulted him into front runner status.

Who witnessed this incident?

Don’t Get Wilked
As reported last week many people understand that Scott Wilk’s dream position is becoming our CA25th District Congressman.  So, it still wouldn’t surprise me and others if he’s currently scheming to enter our congressional race or at minimum hoping for a 2020 Democrat victory so that he wouldn’t have to face a Republican opponent in the following election.  By the way, much of what’s stated here is also believed by folks on both sides of the aisle.
Don’t get Wilked!

Bill Reynolds
Vietnam Combat Veteran
Valencia, California
661 993-9712

Offense is the Best Defense

| Opinion | November 14, 2019

by Rob Werner

Remember the Trump campaign’s slogan, “crooked Hillary”? Supporters wanted her in prison. Back then, it was assumed that Trump would never get elected. Despite the chants of “lock her up,” many of Hillary Clinton’s opponents didn’t want her incarcerated. It’s disturbing to have first ladies imprisoned. Despite his rhetoric, Trump had a different agenda.

Democrats and the press believed Trump would go after them. Bureaucrats, employees of our intelligence services and politicians would lose their positions, their wealth and reputations. Many would be imprisoned for their crimes. For political survival, leading Democrats decided that President Trump needed to be eliminated. If not by assassination, then by removal. They went on the offensive.

Flash forward, and the focus directed at Trump’s presidency is on successive allegations: he is evil, corrupt, immoral, incompetent, deranged and criminal. Everything he does is presented negatively. Now, even supporters apologize for his behavior. The relentless pursuit of impeachment lowered standards. Now it’s permissible to impeach because of dislike with a triggering claim. The most corrupt politicians lead the charge. One unexpected effect of this relentless offensive against Trump is that people like me now see the necessity of going after current and former leaders for corruption and misbehavior. It’s time we raise standards, even if this results in a former president being incarcerated.

We now know that the Russian collusion claim against Trump was a setup financed by the Democrats. We know the Obama administration authorized spying on the Trump campaign. The Obama administration bragged they had no scandals. Obama’s attorney general saw to it that investigations were suppressed. Perpetrators were given immunity. It did not matter that offenders refused to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment. We were lied to about Benghazi and Operation Fast and Furious (gun running). The $5 billion that went missing from the State Department during Hillary’s watch is still missing. Russia gained control of our uranium at the behest of the Clintons, who profited. Obama made his own treaty with Iran, gave them billions and released terrorists without congressional approval.

Trump’s alleged misdeeds all get unrelenting coverage until they are found false. This is true for the Russian influence, racial, religious and sexual harassment claims. The latest is an alleged quid pro quo — Ukrainian aid halted without reopening investigations of corruption. It was okay for the Obama administration to halt aid unless the previous investigation of corruption related to Biden was stopped.

Now, to find wrongdoing, second-hand informants are considered whistleblowers. Without evidence justifying impeachment, Democrats created a committee on impeachment inquiry. Chairman Adam Schiff met with and schooled the “whistleblower” prior to hearings. He engineered a false statement for public consumption. He decides who can testify, asks questions and what questions can be asked. He doesn’t want questions about the guy being a Never Trumper in our security service, his involvement with Democratic engineering of the Russia probe or having no first-hand knowledge.

What it’s about is the corruption of Vice President Biden in assisting his son’s ill-gotten gains. It’s not surprising that political families, including the Bidens, Pelosis and Romneys, made millions from Ukraine. They don’t want that investigated.

This year, an investigation was commenced by the Justice Department looking into possible criminal conduct by those spying on Trump and setting up the false Russian narrative. You can be assured of one thing: if there are indictments, the story will be turned against Trump.

Powerless

| Opinion | November 14, 2019

by Harry Parmenter

If power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, then I’m not getting any. Where to begin?

Technology: it took me long enough to grasp the concept of downloading an app, but when recently faced with pop-up questions and multiple choice answers like, “Do you want to save a copy? Doing so with compressor may be unsafe,” I was exposed as the tech moron I am. Powerless.

Kids: Six total — three of mine, three of hers. The Brady Bunch rebooted as a Canyon Country tragi-comedy. Can I control anything they do? No. Offer guidance? Maybe. Be there when a cash infusion is required? Forever. Powerless.

Job: I am just a tiny lug nut on the giant battleship of a Fortune 500 company, doing my little tasks in my little room or wherever they can hunt me down, day or night, via the infernal cell phone (see: Technology). Powerless.

Commuting: An hour plus each way, morning and night, with the 14 morphing into the new 405. Really powerless.

However, as I recently learned, like many in California (the golden state turned copper), being literally powerless makes me seem like King of the World by comparison. Like many in the area, we lost our power twice in the last few weeks, the first time for about 16 hours, the second time more like 36. Losing heat, electricity, light and media — everything we take for granted — gives new perspective. It was an angry perspective at first, as I looked for someone to blame: politicians, Edison, Dave Roberts, anyone.

I first tried calling the politicos — Newsom, Smith and Hill. With Newsom’s office, I actually got a human being on the line. She blamed private industry, i.e., the utility company. I asked her why the governor wasn’t threatening them like he was doing to the privately owned oil entities for alleged price fixing (despite, of course, Governor Brown’s 61 cents-per-gallon gas tax that helps make our petrol almost two bucks per gallon more than anywhere else in the country). Newsom’s rep told me that was “a different situation,” but that the governor had issued a strongly worded statement condemning the electric companies for their pre-emptive blackouts. I do love a good strongly worded statement.

Katie Hill’s office did not return my calls, which I unknowingly made the day before scandal erupted, so I imagine her office had other priorities. Calls to Christy Smith’s office also went unreturned, as she was no doubt busy, shrewdly plotting her bishop-takes-queen move to grab Hill’s open seat on Capitol Hill.

Edison reps were pleasant, professional and accessible. They told me they work with fire marshals and meteorologists (because they’re always right?) to determine when power should be cut or restored. One rep broke down and described it to me as “the new normal.”

Powerless.

You really appreciate what you have when you don’t have it. Refrigeration is such a given in our lives, but losing it for nearly two days means food spoils, milk curdles, beer warms and almost everything gets tossed. Darkness and lack of heat remind you how quickly a real natural disaster rocks the world and how fortunate we are to live in an age with such manifold creature comforts.

Fortunately, we had a portable generator and a gallon of gas, which was enough to get through Game 7 of the World Series. Seeing a team of destiny like the Washington Nationals run the table (sorry Dodger fans, but at least you lost to the champion … for the third straight year) provided a brief distraction before the gas ran out and the generator died. Powerless.

Canyon Country now faces annual blackouts of indeterminate duration and perennial fire threat. Living in such a beautiful area has a price to pay, and I don’t mean property taxes. So buy the generator, update those emergency kits and be ready for anything because at the end of the day we are all … powerless.

Beware the Quid Pro Quo

| Opinion | November 14, 2019

Quid Pro Quo, Quid Pro Quo. That’s the name of the song that everyone seems to know. With anger in their eyes and resolution in their cold hearts, talking heads on CNN, MSNBC, FOX and CBS with the scripted precision of a well-practiced mantra, boldly state that the President had violated the Constitution and Federal Law by declaring he had committed a Quid Pro Quo, a mortal sin as well as a high crime and misdemeanor. Elected Democrats are falling all over each other seeking face time in front of the cameras as they join the Quid Pro Quo chorus.

Quid Pro Quo are the words that defame. The Quid Pro Quo will bring down he who must not be named.

The President who is the one commonly believed to be “He who must be named”, while proclaiming his own conversational perfection, has redirected the Quid Pro Quo to none other than Uncle Joe Biden.

Legal scholars without any pauses have scoured CARA.AI and could not find any cases. They questioned their legal professors and studied their Nook. No where could they find the Quid Pro Quo, no matter how hard they looked. Finally, in a great act of desperation, they even read the documents that founded our nation. Alas swearing that they really, really tried, they were forced to declare that there is no Quid Pro Quo and fell down and cried.

Adam and Nancy would not have been so shocked, had they remembered ABC’s “School House Rock”. Somewhere in the shadows can be heard a unrequited laws lament; I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, and I got as far as Capitol Hill. Well, now I’m stuck in committee, and I’ll sit here and wait. While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate whether they should let me be a law. How I hope and pray that they will, but today I am still just a bill.
You see that in their discourse, they put the cart before the horse. They are prosecuting based on a law that has not been passed. Now, doing that is in violation of the Constitution.

The absurdity of the current misleading discourse that dominates the airwaves is that Quid Pro Quo is required for us to function in a civil society. You give the butcher some money, he gives you some meat. Quid Pro Quo. You promise the woman you love that you will honor, cherish and obey and she promises to marry you. Quid Pro Quo. The United States promises to help defend Turkey through NATO and they allow us to have a military air base in their sovereign territory. Quid Pro Quo. All international, commercial, and interpersonal relationships are dependent on Quid Pro Quo. For a President not to engage in Quid Pro Quo could be viewed as a dereliction of duty.

You may not like Donald J. Trump, you may disagree with his foreign policy decisions and methodologies, fine. That is not high crimes and misdemeanors. We must not allow Quid Pro Quo to be used as a justification for impeachment. It is the Democrats who are abusing the Constitution. The real issues of personality and policy as envisioned in the Constitution was to be decided by elections and not through the abuse of political power and ignoring due process of law. Democrats, it is time to grow up and remember what it means to have a peaceful transition of power. Political courage and change is supposed to be expressed through free elections. You have set a precedent which is exposing the Democrat party as vicious fascists. Shame on you.

The Ultimate RedPill: The Left & Media’s Blatant Hypocrisy

| Opinion | November 13, 2019

By Robert Patrick Lewis

I’m very fortunate.

We’re all fortunate as Americans to live in this great nation, but given the political craziness and fears that many conservatives face of retribution from work or social circles for making their political leanings known, I’m quite thankful for where I am at the moment.

Firstly, as an author, I have the time to actually go through the transcripts of the Democrat hoax investigation proceedings to see what’s actually happening, rather than having to rely on a media who’s provided us with nothing but lies and obfuscations for the past three years.

I can also watch the proceedings (when they’re televised) and stay up to date with all of the political machinations, directly from the sources, as I work for myself and make my own hours.

As a self-published author, I don’t have to worry as many of my friends & fellow authors do, about the corporate culture of the Big 12 Publishers and agents who live in uber-liberal bubbles, fearing that if I truly speak my mind I may forgo a future advance or book deal.

Lastly, I learned early on in my life that anger can be a gift, if properly channeled and the energy transformed into a positive, motivational force to change whatever it is that has caused that anger.

Putting all of these variables together, I’ve taken it upon myself to use this time of political craziness and ostracizing of conservatives to deal “Red Pills” whenever possible. If you’ve heard the term but aren’t really sure what it means to “Red Pill” someone, here’s a line from a popular movie that may help you understand:

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”

Of all the opportunities provided for me to “Red Pill” in the current climate of constant lies from the left and their media sycophants, the greatest ammunition I’m continuously given, directly from them, has been their blatant hypocrisies on any number of issues.

If you’re the type of person who may both be willing and have the opportunity to pass along a “Red Pill” to a friend, family member or co-worker, let’s run through some of the biggest & most blatant ones we’ve been provided of late:

BELIEVE ALL WOMEN!!!

The left and media screeched this with all of their might during the (Justice) Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and subsequent hoax investigations.

But their own cries went unheeded when extremely credible allegations were made against Keith Ellison (former Minnesota DNC chair), despite police reports, photographs & credible testimony about his being a domestic abuser.

Likewise, none in the DNC or media complex would even recognize any of the large number of women who came forward with credible allegations of Bill Clinton’s rape, unwanted sexual advances and use of his office to have his way with multiple women.

And of course they didn’t want to bring up his wife, Hillary, going after each of his accusers to destroy their lives and credibility.

We must mention here, of course, Jeffrey Epstein, the most prolific pedophile this nation has known who ruined the lives of many young women and was, of course, closely connected to Democrats.

WHISTLEBLOWERS ARE HEROES!!!

This is a rallying cry we’re hearing all too often today, but the media wants to do everything they can to keep you from looking at any whistleblower who came before the current CIA & DNC operative tasked to the White House to spy on President Trump, as each of them have been targeted by the government and media to destroy their lives through bankruptcy brought on by government lawsuits, loss of their jobs and destruction of any credibility their name carried.

See: Kevin Shipp, Bill Binney, Bradley Manning, Commander Ben Strickland and any of the hundreds of others who came before them.

But this one, they tell us, is different.

Funny that one of the networks screeching this mantra was ABC, who colluded with their colleagues at CBS to ask them to fire the former ABC employee who leaked the Amy Robach admission to Project Veritas that the network spiked the Epstein story 3 years ago, which means they could have likely saved hundreds if not thousands of young women from that monster.

Rules for thee but not for me when dealing with the MSM, I guess.

YOU CANNOT QUESTION THE CREDIBILITY OF A SOLDIER OR VETERAN!!!

This one comes to us in reference to LTC Vindman, the former soldier-turned NSC director at the forefront of the current UkraineGate hoax (as well as wolf-in-sheep’s clothing Tulsi Gabbard, but that’s for another story).

Although Vindman has proven himself to have attempted to falsify the transcript, to have major gaps in knowledge of what was happening in Ukraine and a major bias in this situation, we are told that we can’t attack his credibility because of his status as a military veteran.

What they don’t want you to look at, however, is the disgusting treatment provided by the same media, at the direction of the Obama administration, many of whom are married or directly related to executives and talking heads in the MSM, of General Flynn.

Although General Flynn is a decorated 32 year veteran of Military Intelligence and Joint Special Operations Command, having been credited for drastically increasing the ability for intelligence to flow from receipt to tactical use on the battlefield, for some reason the media doesn’t feel that he is owed the same respect they demand for Vindman.

Neither is that same respect given to LTC Jim Hickman, a highly-decorated veteran of the same rank as Vindman, who was once his (Vindman’s) superior and dared to make public a statement of his (Hickman) once having to reprimand Vindman during a multinational exercise for speaking poorly about Americans and our military to his Russian counterparts – if you read his Twitter thread it seems Vindman has had traitorous ambitions for quite some time.

INVESTIGATIONS ARE VITAL!!!

When it was “Mueller Time” and the RussiaGate hoax was in full swing, we heard this rallying cry over and over, with many in the media even saying that “if President Trump has nothing to hide, he should welcome any and all investigations into his dealings.”

Isn’t it strange that these same exact people are bending over backwards and using every bit of mental gymnastics to say that these same rules don’t apply to Hunter Biden, in regards to his $83,000/month job at an energy company in a country his father was in charge of giving billions of dollars to, or his securing of $1.5 billion investment from a Chinese state-owned bank during a political trip with his father?

And they haven’t even mentioned Joe Biden’s brother winning a multi-billion dollar no-bid construction contract in Iraq by the US government, despite zero experience in construction.

WE NEED EVIDENCE TO REPORT A STORY!!!

This talking point has been brought up again by the recent ABC clip aired by Project Veritas, showing that ABC spiked a story about Jeffrey Epstein three years before the public knew the levels of debauchery and disgusting crimes he and his pals were committing, despite mountains of evidence against he, his friends and even the Clintons (don’t you just love a point that can kill two birds with one stone?).

ABC said they didn’t spike the story, but rather couldn’t air because it “didn’t meet their reporting standards.”

It’s funny that the same outlet that boasts such high reporting standards aired heavily doctored footage from a Kentucky gun range to claim it was a battle in Syria (to make President Trump look bad), aired disgusting attacks on teenagers in the Covington kids case without any due diligence to investigate the validity of their claims (it was also fake), or in airing any number of quickly debunked hoax claims against (Justice) Kavanaugh during the chaos of his confirmation hearings and the Jussie Smollett hate hoax.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT IS SACROSANCT!!!

It used to be the media who would go to great lengths to protect the first amendment and rights of journalists to “speak truth to power” no matter where it led, citing journalistic freedom and freedom of speech whenever government stepped out of line.

But isn’t it interesting that none of them spoke up for Sharyl Atkisson, who is still involved in a court case against the Obama administration for spying on her and the entire CBS newsroom she worked in for her coverage of his Fast & Furious scandal, his administration spying on 25 Associated Press reporters, or jailing other reporters who wouldn’t do Obama’s bidding?

And why aren’t they speaking up against the first amendment attacks by YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as they are deplatforming, demonetizing and censoring conservative voices for nothing more than their support of our President or going against the left’s narratives?

YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH SCIENCE!!!

This is one of the most laughable, as the left has taken to picking & choosing where and when science is sacrosanct, and where it is inconvenient to them and shouldn’t be trusted.

To begin with, I think we’ve all heard the oft-repeated claim that “all climate change scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.”

This is false on a number of fronts: first, only ⅓ of the climate change scientists have actually taken a position on whether humans have anything to do with climate change, and not even all of them have said that it does.

I wrote an article for this publication in August titled titled “If Climate Change is Real, Why Do They Lie and Hide Data?” that goes into some very interesting questions about that whole charade.

But aside from the climate change claims that we’re being inundated with, if science is so important to the left, why does it suddenly not matter when we can look at the DNA, physical makeup and chromosomal difference of males & females of our species to realize that there are, in fact, many scientific differences between men and women?

REPUBLICANS ARE RACISTS AND HOMOPHOBIC!!!

This fallacy has become more and more evident with the #WalkAway and #Blexit movements that have gained so much popularity in the last several years. If you want to see where the true racists and homophobes lie on the political spectrum, all you have to do is look to how the leaders of these movements are being treated by the left.

While leftists and democrat politicians love to pander to the gay and black populations when it’s time to vote, if you look to anyone from those demographics who have spoken out about the hollow-promises of the left (Brandon Straka, Dave Rubin, Dr. Ben Carson, Thomas Sowell, Terrence K. Williams, Kanye West, Candace Owens, Zuby), it becomes obvious just how little the left actually cares about them or their opinions.

I know this article has been a little longer than usual, but I wanted to use this opportunity to provide you with ammunition for the fight at hand.

If you, like me, are at the point where you’re sick of standing on the sidelines and watching the destruction being caused to our nation by the leftists who are hell-bent on removing a duly-elected President with no care of the damage it will do to our nation, consider using these points when the opportunity presents itself.

Thankfully, through their blatant lies and hypocrisy many of our countrymen and women are finally opening their eyes to see that what we’ve been told for the past several decades is not the complete truth in some cases, and are outright lies in many.

Whenever you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is beginning to “wake up” to this reality, pull one of the points above from your toolbox and use it to “Red Pill” them to wake up to reality.

It is time for us to transition from the silent majority to the angry majority, and in this phase of the offensive, every voice and soldier we have in the fight counts.

Make your voice heard, grow our army of Americans who are sick of these games and let’s take our country back!

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), author of Love Me When I’m Gone , The Pact and The Pact Book II: Battle Hymn of the Republic. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | November 8, 2019

Letter to the Editor – Gazette Newspaper
November 8, 2019

Santa Clarita Valley Political Shenanigans

Clandestine
As a casual observer of SCV’s political scene for many years I’ve noticed several less than what I consider honorable political maneuverings – I am not alone by a long shot.   Think back to our CA 21st District Senate race back in December 2016 when at the very last moment possible Lancaster’s highly popular Sharon Runner (R) bowed out of our Senate race due to heath issues.  Everyone knew her health was terribly poor and she ultimately backed out at the last minute but lo and behold out of the clear blue Assemblyman Scott Wilk “to save the day” filed to run at the last moment possible.  Does anyone actually believe this stealthy plan was not hatched in advance by Wilk?  Sadly, Sharon passed away a few months later and opportunistic Assemblyman Wilk swooped in to snag victory while leaving his Assembly seat two years early.

Wilk’s Anonymous IT Guy
Over the years, Scott Wilk held several local positions prior to his four year Assembly gig including on the Board of Trustees at College of the Canyons and senior staff for Congressman Buck McKeon.  While working for Congressman McKeon he secretly began feathering his own political nest scheming his own political future rather than focusing adequately on his staff duties.  Hence he was laid off.  When running for Assembly he ran against Patricia McKeon and out of the clear an anonymous negative blog was posted that denigrated Mrs. McKeon.  Things became quite contentious.  It was obvious to everyone that Wilk had developed a fierce feud with the McKeon’s that many believe still exists to this very day.  Wilk snagged victory.

Fueled by Feud
Going back to Wilk’s term with COC, he developed a feud with fellow trustee Bruce Fortine because Bruce did not support electing a new trustee that Wilk endorsed.  When Bruce’s wife Gloria later ran in a local school board race, Wilk, using his paid anonymous internet technician launched a false, battering negative campaign against her.  Gloria lost.  Fast forward to Tony Strickland’s CA 25th District Congressional campaign in 2014 another brutal Wilk feud erupted.  Wilk’s former boss, Congressman McKeon endorsed Strickland and naturally Wilk endorsed Strickland’s opponent Steve Knight.  Republican vs. Republican!  Talk about a contentious election!  Holy Smokes!  And wouldn’t you just know it.  Another anonymous wicked negative website was posted and e-mailed throughout the district against Tony Strickland.  That e-mail was sent as though Tony sent it using his own e-mail address – talk about underhanded trickery!  Tony Strickland lost.  Several adages evolved at that time:  “Don’t get Wilked”.  “Wilk’s Politics are Fueled by Feud”.

More Campaign Trickery
By all accounts in 2018, Congressman Knight’s surprising loss to Democrat Katie Hill resulted from a less than stellar campaign effort.  No offense intended towards Steve Knight, whom I respect, but I’ve heard this throughout the district.  Recently, we learned of Katie’s Hill’s adulterous throuple behavior leading to her appropriate and sudden resignation which has resulted in all kinds of crazy political shenanigans.  First, we heard former Congressman Steve Knight considered running for his old seat and then out of the clear blue, Carpetbagger George Papadopoulos indicated an interest.  Personally, I find it very difficult to believe that Steve would subject himself again to the rigors of working in Washington D.C. and being away from his wonderful wife and family.  Meanwhile, Mike Garcia, our local former combat Navy fighter jet pilot and businessman’s CA25 Congressional Campaign has catapulted him into our Republican strong front runner.

Don’t Get Wilked
Many people know that the ultimate job Scott Wilk (AKA: RINO) hungers is becoming our CA25th District’s congressional representative.  So, it’s wouldn’t surprise me one solitary bit if he’s currently scheming with his “good ole boy’s club” to enter our congressional race at the very last moment possible just as he previously did for his CA 21st Senate seat.  By the way, much of what’s stated here is also believed by folks on both sides of the aisle.
Don’t get Wilked!

Bill Reynolds
Vietnam Combat Veteran
Valencia, California
661 993-9712

How to Lose the 2020 Election, by Elizabeth Warren

| Opinion | November 7, 2019

by Dick Polman

Speaking in 1910, former two-term president Theodore Roosevelt offered some practical advice that Elizabeth Warren and today’s progressive Democrats would be wise to heed. Although they probably won’t.

Teddy said: “The citizen must have high ideals, and yet he must be able to achieve them in practical fashion. No permanent good comes from aspirations so lofty that they have grown fantastic and have become impossible to realize. The impractical visionary is far less often the guide and precursor than he is the embittered foe of the real reformer who, with stumblings and shortcomings, yet does in some shape, in practical fashion, give effect to the hopes and desires of those who strive for better things.”

Warren, the impractical visionary, has now told us how she purports to pay for her high-ideals plan to erase private health coverage and move everyone to government care. She says that middle class Americans won’t be hit with higher taxes, whereas Bernie Sanders, on her left flank, says they most certainly will – and he welcomes that.

Bottom line: “Medicare for All” is the biggest gift that impractical liberals could possibly give to Donald Trump and his band of demagogues. There’s no better way for Democrats to blow one of the most critical presidential elections in history.

Government health care – we’ll go with the acronym MFA – is a lofty and even laudable aspiration, but in reality it’s a suicidal political loser. Warren says that anyone who knocks her plan is merely reciting “Republican talking points,” but, rest assured, if she were to win the nomination and campaign on this issue, she’d give Trump more than he needs to talk about.

You know how the GOP has long caricatured the Democrats as “tax and spend liberals”? Warren’s health care crusade, which endeavors to reshape roughly 20 percent of the economy, checks that GOP box like no other. You know how Trump is trying to caricature all Democrats as “socialists?” Warren’s crusade plays right into his small hands, because it is socialistic.

If you don’t think Republicans will make mincemeat of MFA in 2020, you’ll need to get up to speed on the politics of the past 30 years. Fairly or not, a huge percentage of the voters hate liberals, and a program designed to take away private health coverage is virtually guaranteed to swell the ranks of the haters. Which is why Nancy Pelosi – who, like Teddy Roosevelt, knows a few things about what’s achievable in politics – told reporters last Friday that while MFA may be catnip for liberals, it won’t pull in the moderate voters who swing the Electoral College one year from now.

As Pelosi well knows – because she designed the strategy – Democrats took the House last November in an historic blue wave not by campaigning for pie-in the-sky MFA, but by assailing the Trump GOP’s ongoing efforts to cripple or kill Obamacare. The Democratic message, in the swing suburbs that built the blue wave, was that Obamacare needs to be protected and incrementally improved. That practical message bores Warren and Sanders and their liberal dreamers, but that message would win in 2020.

The irony – and potential tragedy – is that Warren is going full tilt with a plan that will never pass Congress. If she were somehow elected president with a new Republican Senate, MFA is dead. If she entered office with a recaptured Democrats Senate, MFA is dead – because moderate Democrats would balk, and it wouldn’t get the requisite 60 votes to hurdle a Republican filibuster. It’s a shame she can’t commit candor and admit this, but the game right now is to woo idealistic liberals in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Warren and her allies contend that MFA will massively gin up turnout on the left, and blunt the need for centrist swing voters. Again, here’s reality: Running up the turnout in guaranteed blue states on the two coasts won’t clinch the Electoral College. The race will still be decided in a handful of states – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida – and it just so happens that Warren is barely competitive with Trump in those states, despite his impending impeachment.

Leave it to the Democrats to dream so big that they risk losing to a committer of impeachable acts. This nation can’t afford such risks right now. As Teddy Roosevelt warned, the impractical visionary is “forever the enemy of the possible good.”

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

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

A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On

| Opinion | November 7, 2019

by William Tozzi
My detectors have noticed a flurry of unusual seismic activity lately. It’s apparently caused by our Founding Fathers turning over and over in their graves upon learning about the ridiculous positions taken by our so-called leaders in Washington.

The following is a just a sample of what’s making them rotate.

****

“I’ll do anything to win; I’m obsessed with winning. It’s the only thing. I hate you and everything you stand for! I’ll prove you are wrong and I am right. I’ll even go into a rage to let you know how mean and irrational I can be. I’ll cheat, I’ll lie and I’ll reprimand you with my scripted nonsense.”

“I’ll be the sole judge of whether you are guilty or not. And I don’t have to prove anything. Facts mean nothing to me. I have all the answers I need about what is true or false. I can’t find any evidence of wrongdoing, but what difference does that make? I’ll make it up as I go along. You will never win.”

“Don’t you dare ridicule me. Don’t try to make me look like a fool; I am doing a good job of that all by myself.”

“I don’t know exactly what you are guilty of, so I am going to use all my time and energy to come up with anything to turn my losing argument into a winning one.”

“I refuse to have civil discussions because I know more than you. I am smarter than everyone. I am out to destroy you. I will make you a laughingstock.”

“I can say anything I want about you, but you better not say anything bad about me. You are a hypocrite, a liar. You are mad, crazy and insane. I could go on and on, but I better be careful because I might be describing myself.”

“I will ignore my sworn oath of office and commit illegal, inappropriate, immoral and insane acts to achieve my agenda.”

“Yes, I’ll do anything to win, even if it means losing everything. It sounds like I already lost my mind.”

****

Now let’s return to common sense and sanity. All this shakin’ is tearing us apart. It’s time to act responsibly for the sake of preserving our nation.

It’s somewhat ironic — we’re really not that different. We all are a reflection of each other. If I look into a mirror, I just might see you looking back at me. That’s scary, but it’s a reality. We each need to step back, take a deep breath and relax. We have to learn to compromise and come to an agreement, or else we will all wind up losers. And our society will end up in the dumpster.

In the end, I believe truth will always be the winner, triumphing over deceit, dishonesty and dirty dealing.

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

Prime Moral Imperatives and the End of Liberty

| Opinion | November 7, 2019

By Rob Werner
Moral imperatives are moral laws. These are strongly held principles we live by. Societies bind themselves and maintain order primarily through adherence to such moral imperatives as being truthful, keeping promises and not doing harm. We may believe that we have strong, unbreachable moral views. Our personal moral imperatives may extend to things such as love of others, love of country and respect for our Constitution. What we don’t recognize is how often circumstances arise that lead us to ignore these moral laws. This is driven by competing prime moral imperatives, which are based on survival, love and hate. Consider the following examples of prime moral imperatives overruling other moral imperatives.

Example one: You are law-abiding and honest and would never engage in theft. You have a child whom you dearly love. Circumstances leave you without the means to obtain food for your child. You steal food because your moral imperative to save the life of your child renders the others inoperable.

Example two: Your survival is a moral imperative, but in war you choose to give up your life so that your loved ones may survive.

Example three: Passionate hatred for someone or what they represent results in overruling moral imperatives to do injury to that person.

Example four: A weapon of mass destruction has been planted by a terrorist in our country. It will be set off in one day. You don’t know its location. You have the person who planted the weapon in custody. Do you obey all laws? Do you allow delay by providing an attorney? Will you ignore laws that you are supposed to uphold, torture him and use any means necessary to acquire the location of the weapon?

Our country is distant from hostile countries. Internally, we have evolved from one generation to another as a melting pot where people’s views and loyalties ultimately become American. But there are exceptions. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt, with the strong support of California Governor Earl Warren, suspended the civil rights of Japanese Americans and placed them in internment camps (Warren is best remembered for later becoming the liberal leader of the Supreme Court). This suppression of liberty was not callous and was supported by others who viewed it as necessary to ensure survival. They felt justified to ignore sworn liberties. Their argument would go like this: the Japanese declared war on us. Japan has a history and culture based on loyalty to their emperor. While most Americans of Japanese descent are loyal to America, many might be loyal to Japan. Ten percent would equal 12,000 people. That many inhabitants loyal to a foreign power could virtually destroy America’s infrastructure and damage America’s ability to fight the war.

In recent years, with open borders and the regeneration of loyalty to countries and religious leaders of foreign entities, we have a much greater and more diverse population that could show their hostility to this country. What if just 30,000 of the millions of illegal immigrants and 10,000 of their children were committed to destroying us? A date for action was announced, and our security forces caught a small fraction — enough to know that the country’s infrastructure would be destroyed. What would we do? The prime moral imperative of survival might overrule other moral imperatives, and liberals once again would justify the end of liberty.

Dark Clouds and Silver Linings

| Opinion | November 7, 2019

by Dale Paule
“Chaos!” Just saying the word conjures up images of confusion, fright, panic and even the fear of death itself. Unfortunately, that’s literally what’s been happening right in our own backyards over the past few weeks. Fire is man’s oldest and most feared enemy, and it has vast areas of California totally in control of what we humans foolishly think of as ours. And whenever that contest takes place, fire always wins.

There are many theories about who or what is to blame for this current chaos, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know the answer to that. What we do know is how some of us humans react when chaos strikes. It isn’t all that hard to determine the true character of a fellow human when that happens. All you have to do is sprinkle a little chaos into the air, and — voila — there you have it! One segment of humanity sees it as an opportunity to break into an unguarded residence or loot a business while police and firemen are busy elsewhere. They’re the ones whose faces will appear in the evening newspaper, if and when they’re caught. Thankfully, they are a relatively small portion of humanity, despite our tendency to think otherwise. So they deserve little or no mention, except to refer to them as the dark clouds of chaos.

It’s the other type, the ones I call the silver linings, that warrants true recognition.

Among those tested the hardest in times of chaos are the firemen and the sheriffs. The way they react when chaos strikes says it all. During the past couple of weeks, because of the fires threatening my area, I’ve had the opportunity to observe firsthand quite a bit of both in action. I had the chance to get a really close look at some of our firemen as they battled the fire — not just a quick glimpse on TV from the comfort of my recliner, but right there in the field, in living reality. You could truly see and feel their genuine desire to save as many of our homes and properties from destruction as possible. The look on their faces as they raced toward the fires was not unlike that of a soldier racing toward the sound of gunfire, fully committed to do battle with the enemy. And through it all, I never saw or heard the slightest sign of hesitation or complaint from any of them. As for the Sheriffs, they’re either cussed or commended for anything and everything they do. It’s either, “He gave me a ticket, that [expletive],” or, “He didn’t even hesitate; he just entered that burning car and pulled the unconscious guy out!” Never mind that it could easily have been the same [expletive] sheriff in both cases! I watched as they calmly kept order, standing guard at each and every entrance into my neighborhood during an evacuation order, guarding against that dark cloud element. And all the while, they patiently and politely answered the same question, over and over: “When the hell can I go back into my house, officer?” Maybe somewhere, some sheriff lost his patience during that time and said, “Now, how the hell should I know? Just move along, or I’ll give you a [expletive] ticket for blocking traffic!” But if that happened, I sure didn’t see or hear about it.

If you agree with my interpretation of the difference between those dark clouds and the silver linings during a time of chaos, maybe the next time a sheriff is writing you a ticket, and you’re cussing him out under your breath, don’t forget to add a “Thanks” at the end of that “[expletive]” part. And when you have to pull over to the curb the next time a fire truck roars past you with red lights and sirens screaming, toss them a, “Stay safe” under your breath.

Always Advocating Alan – California is Headed Toward Being the Pyrite State

| Opinion | November 7, 2019

I remember days long ago when I sat watching Western movies, after adjusting the rabbit ears on my 19-inch black-and-white TV. I can’t count the number of times the plot centered around a bad man salting his gold or silver mine in order to sell it to an unsuspecting homesteader or cow puncher. There were also a fair number of stories about a hard-working, but inexperienced Easterner-turned-miner who thought he had struck it rich. Unfortunately, when he took a bag of his newfound wealth to the assayer’s office, the man behind the counter laughed and informed him it was fool’s gold, or pyrite. In those days, movies always ended on a positive note, where the disadvantaged lead character continued to work hard and ended up striking it rich anyway, while getting the last laugh.

It was not many years after those TV-watching days had gone by that I interviewed and secured a job at Litton Guidance and Control in Beverly Hills. It was 1961, and California was still benefiting from the massive industrialization and technology innovations that had been initiated to support winning World War II. The state had the weather and open land to support advances in aviation, electronics and almost anything else. It might seem odd now, but in order to support all the activity, round-topped Quonset huts were put up on what is now prime real estate. For the first six months, I worked at the original company site located at 336 N. Foothill Road. Each day, I would drive past Beverly Hills City Hall to what was an industrial area. I often think about going back and finding out what stands at that location today, but I never seem to do it.

My department was moving to Woodland Hills. The facility was to be located on Burbank Boulevard, between Canoga Avenue and Desoto Avenue. Bordering on Canoga Avenue was a horse ranch, while Pierce College owned the land on Desoto Avenue. On the north side of Burbank Boulevard, where the Warner Center is now, was a corn field. I used to call the west San Fernando Valley the shopping and restaurant capital of the world. With Litton, Rocketdyne, Atomics International, Hughes and other large companies creating a need, small machine shops and supply houses dotted the landscape, along with furniture stores and restaurants. It seemed like anything you needed was available on the way home from work.

California had it all. Unfortunately, we have allowed it to slip away over the years, a small amount at a time. Like death by a thousand small cuts, no single thing can be declared responsible. But as property values, taxes, labor rates and other business expenses slowly increased, companies started moving their operations to other parts of the country. If you drive around the west San Fernando Valley today, you will see that it is a very different place. The old Rocketdyne facilities on Canoga Avenue are shopping centers. The Litton facility on Burbank Boulevard, now owned by Northrop Grumman, is being sold off one piece at a time. Hughes left their facilities in the North Valley, and General Motors left Van Nuys a long time ago. Plus, Lockheed even left Burbank for Georgia and moved the Skunk Works to the Antelope Valley.

Well, times do change, but have our elected officials noticed what has been occurring? Have they tried to reverse the exodus of major industries? Instead, they seem oblivious to all that is currently going on and appear to be making the state’s problems even worse. This past winter, God gave us a break from the drought and blessed our area with a good amount of rain. Water falling on our natural landscape in the winter and the subsequent growth it created must have surprised our elected representatives, because they all sat back, did nothing and waited for the inevitable effect of summer heat — the drying out of all the new vegetation, which then created massive amounts of fuel for the coming fire season.

Then our Sacramento mental midgets passed AB 1054, which created a fund for public utilities to access if they cause more than $1 billion in property damage, and also set up another useless advisory board to make recommendations on wildfire prevention. So far, the only thing this has done for us (or to us) is the shutting off of power by the public electric utilities, supposedly to keep us safe. California leads the nation in wanting to turn off your air conditioning in the summer to help manage the power grid load, forcing the population to live with brownouts and blackouts in times of high demand because the utilities have not upgraded their capacity, and finally turning off the power in fire season. Yeah, I heard — supposedly to keep us safe. Yet from their perspective, the best part is that you get to pay the bill.

If you were in charge of locating a major company to a new area, would you select a location in California, which cannot guarantee power for your operation and has promised that there will be times when power is unavailable? I bet you would be looking at another state. Plus, what about water? It was reported in the California Globe on Nov. 3 that the El Dorado Irrigation District will be unable to pump water to customers when the power is out. Our local SCV Water Agency informed us on Facebook that a number of their generators have had to be relocated. These generators are used to power the pumps that fill our water tanks and have contributed to making water available during the recent power outages. But what if the power outages are more encompassing and sustained for a much longer period? What then?

Even with the drought officially over and ex-Governor Brown now able to shower, California still faces the prospect of legislated water rationing by two bills he signed before leaving office. Since 2000, when the Sacramento Delta pumps were shut down due to the delta smelt, eight water bonds totaling $30 billion have been passed promising more water availability. So where did all that money go? Why hasn’t a solution to the water problem been implemented? We need to bring water down to Central Coast farmers and Sothern California cities rather than dumping it into the ocean, as is the current practice.

The reason California has a power and water problem is simple. Residents have been too complacent. We have accepted the corruption and ineptness of our elected officials. If you think I am referring to a single level of governmental bureaucracy or party affiliation, you are dead wrong. In recent years, California has become known for fires, homelessness, poverty, a return of medieval diseases and rat-infested cities. California will continue to lose its shiny, golden image as long as the individuals representing us are unwilling or unable to fight for what is best for California’s residents and the future health of our state.

Think about it. Only you and I can turn California golden again. We must demand change at the ballot box, in town hall meetings and in governmental public gatherings. No amount of “salting” California’s advertising pamphlets will prevent new businesses and potential new residents from discovering that California has become the Pyrite State.

I hope you will take my words to heart and join me in making California the Golden State once again. I’m confident we can do it. If we just keep pushing diligently in that direction, we will write the end of this movie plot just like they did in those old black-and-white films — by striking it rich and getting the last laugh.

First Katie Hill, Now Christy Smith?

| Opinion | November 7, 2019

Isn’t it painful to watch an adult behave in a way that demonstrates their obvious emotional maturation delays? It’s also painful to realize that we elect representatives who are such horrible role models for the children we say we love. This isn’t to negate the pain Katie Hill must be going through, but that pain is the result of ignoring things that spread that painful defiling to the entire country.

Ms. Hill’s recent rant against President Trump, given on her way out the door, is indicative of failing to own one’s own choices. She was all about standing up for American women, and so she voted to impeach the president. Does she not realize that millions of American women voted for Trump, and will do so again? She is not their spokesperson. She has not represented many of the people who mistakenly voted for her. Does Ms. Hill think these voting women aren’t real women because they stand opposed to leftist immorality? I think she does, just as the left reviles, mocks or ignores blacks, Hispanics and anyone else who doesn’t agree with their radical agenda. Those women don’t count.

Katie Hill, while blaming Trump for everything, doesn’t seem to grasp the obvious fact that Trump did not take her clothes off. Trump did not direct the camera to be turned on, nor did he take the picture of her naked with her staff underling. Trump did not hand her the bong. These are all on her, and she needs to own them rather than act the spoiled brat. She doesn’t need to accuse her husband of trying to humiliate her; that’s on her too. However, since the left always projects its own faults, Trump must be responsible and is the inappropriate one. If Trump wasn’t president, they’d just find another boogeyman.

Perhaps Hill isn’t the best choice to be pointing fingers at those who exploit women. The biggest exploitation of women is making money off their dead bodies – profits going to the abortion industry, which is inspired by racial-minority-hating Margaret Sanger. Christy Smith is running to fill Hill’s vacant seat. Smith endorsed now-disgraced Hill. Smith, who has been endorsed by Governor Gavin Newsom (looking at a recall), is also pro-abortion, like Margaret Sanger. She would do well to remember that liberty and the pursuit of happiness require life to come before both of them.

Christy Smith also has tried to shut down her own constituent’s business for disagreeing with her views, demonstrating her contempt for all who died defending our Constitution and its First Amendment. It isn’t hard to predict that someone who ignores the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which our laws are based will have no problem shredding America’s man-made derivatives. Are we stupid enough to vote for another horrible role model for our kids? I literally pray not, and so should you.

Richard Hood is a retired history teacher.

Standing Up to Goliath

| Opinion | November 7, 2019

California School Choice recently held an event advocating a momentous change in education at the proudly patriotic Riley’s Farm Oak Glen, which is in the Inland Empire. Riley’s Farm has replicated our Colonial era with demonstrations of daily activities and Revolutionary battle recreations, all on a U-Pick apple farm. Its Hogshead Inn is a great place to have a hot chicken pot pie and finish with a slice of freshly baked apple pie (don’t forget a scoop of ice cream). Farmer Jim Riley hosted California School Choice at the homestead’s apple packing shed, which is now used for special events and theatrical productions and serves delicious barbecue chicken and tri-tips.

The purpose of the event was to explain the horrendous things happening in our public schools and offer the solution of school choice. Recent reports from the U.S. Department of Education and our own California Department of Education have outlined dramatic underperformance in math, reading and writing scores for K-12 students at both the local and national level. Missing in these reports is the rewriting of history books to conform with Marxist ideology, indoctrination rather than education and explicit, age-inappropriate sex education and techniques for alternate lifestyles. It has been reported that if your adult, male next-door neighbor was to show the textbooks and explain the contents to your 12-year-old daughter, he would be arrested and required to register as a sex offender. Yes, it is that bad.

The keynote speaker was Rebecca Friedrichs, author of “Standing Up to Goliath.” In her book, drawn from her thirty years of experience as a schoolteacher in Orange County, she outlines the primary reason for the failures in public education. She makes it clear that the enemy of K-12 education is not the teachers. Overwhelmingly, our teachers are dedicated professionals who deeply care about their charges. The enemy is not charter schools, private schools or home schools. In fact, they exist and are in place to temper the influence of the real enemy. Of course, the biggest victim of the enemy is our children, closely followed by the public schools that suffer from the enemy’s dark influence.

According to Rebecca Friedrichs, the real enemy is the leftist-progressive public teachers unions, with their Marxist worldview. This could be expanded to include most public employee unions. Her assessment is based on a lifetime of experience and observation and can be corroborated by the individuals and institutions that have found themselves in disagreement with leftist unions. The union’s influence is powerful and insidious. It is the union dues that fund the campaigns for our state’s elected officials, who, in exchange for the money, carry out the will of the unions and ignore the liberty and best interests of the people. State bureaucrats, supposedly appointed by our legislature to carry out the will of the people, are often union members themselves who carry out a socialist agenda, both in the textbooks they approve for use by our public schools and in the education methodologies that the school districts are expected to enforce. Rebecca carried her fight to a draw in the Supreme Court and eventually achieved in the Janus decision the right of public employees not to join the unions. Social pressures have prevented most from exercising their new rights.

The school choice initiative gives power back to the parents and forces schools to compete for our educational dollars. Schools will be forced to drop social agendas and focus on improving student performance. If they do not, they will cease to exist and will have to make room for successful programs.

Madness in the Middle East

| Opinion | October 31, 2019

by Michael Reagan

President Trump says he wants to get our troops out of the “blood-stained sand” of the Middle East.

Most sane Americans would agree with that goal and hope he’s successful.

Unfortunately, the people in charge of our foreign policy are not sane, as they proved after Trump yanked a few dozen U.S. soldiers out of Northern Syria.
Trump’s sensible decision to let the Turks, Syrians and Russians figure out how to police their own backyards without our help brought him strong criticism from every political side.

Democrats and the liberal media’s pundits railed against it, but so what? They’re automatically against anything Trump does.

The president also got heavy bipartisan grief for allegedly betraying the Kurds, our trusted and state-less allies who lost 11,000 of their soldiers while helping us and Syrian democratic rebel forces defeat Isis.

Retired military leaders – many of the same ones who’ve been mismanaging our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 – and the neoconservative hawks in the Republican Party blasted Trump.
They said what he did was a naïve, stupid, irresponsible move that will empower Russia and make other countries distrust America’s word and its will.
As usual, the professional interventionists in Washington whom Democrat congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard calls “warmongers” are predicting that many terrible things will happen in Syria without American soldiers present to keep the peace.

Isis supposedly will regain its strength. The Kurds living in northern Syria – the ones Turkey considers terrorists – will suffer greatly.

Plus, our troop withdrawal will supposedly spark new fighting between the countries, kingdoms, ethnic groups, religious sects, political factions, tribes and street gangs that have been slaughtering each other in the Middle East for at least 3,000 years.

It’s hard to take this week’s hysteria about Trump’s decision seriously, especially when it comes from the Democrats and the liberal media who watched quietly as Barrack Obama and his team made bloody messes of Libya and Syria and mismanaged our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for eight years.

It’s been clear for many decades that America will never fix what’s wrong with the Middle East.

About 20 years ago I asked Col. David Hackworth, one of the country’s most decorated soldiers and an expert on warfare and the structure of the U.S. military, “When will there be peace in the Middle East?”
“When they’re all dead,” was his answer.

What did he think America’s policy should be in the Middle East?

We should arm everyone to the teeth, build a 100-foot wall around the region, go away and wait till everyone there kills each other.

“Hack,” who died in 2005, was not kidding.

Based on ancient and modern history, it was easy for him to predict what the Middle East would look like today – a perpetual war zone ruled by brutal dictators and Muslim extremists and crawling with lunatic terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and Isis.

Trump claims pulling U.S. soldiers from Syria and letting the Russians sort things out between the Kurds and the Turks will bring peace in the long run.

He obviously has no idea what will actually happen. But no one else in Washington does, either.

Our military doesn’t know. Our state department doesn’t know. Lindsay Graham doesn’t know. Neither do Liz, Joe and Bernie and their anonymous foreign policy experts.

So far, the blood and treasure America has spent trying to bring peace, democracy and prosperity to the political chaos and religious madness of the Middle East has been tragically wasted.

Col. Hackworth believed fighting and making war is part of the Middle East’s DNA and America can do nothing with our military or economic power to change that.

President Trump seems to believe that too.

In any case, whatever he has done or not done correctly in a small corner of Syria won’t matter in the long run. The Middle East will be a bloody and uncivilized part of the world for another hundred years, at least.

Copyright 2019 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.
Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at sales@cagle.com.

The Naked Truth

| Opinion | October 31, 2019

All our hearts go out to those who have been displaced by the recent fires. The naked truth is that life is simply not safe. In Southern California we have fires, earthquakes and mudslides. Elsewhere, people also face hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, sinkholes and tsunamis. There are human-caused disasters from war, looting, riots, religious intolerance and just plain murder. You never know when, for the safety of you and your family, it may become necessary to “bug out.” That means to leave quickly.

Every family should keep an easily accessible “bug out bag.” A bug out bag contains everything you need to survive the first few days after an emergency displacement. It typically contains food, water, first aid supplies, a water purifier, matches, a pot, space blankets, ponchos and supplies to make a primitive shelter. Be sure to include any medications you require, as well as cash. I would suggest having a soft binder containing copies of all your important documents. Do not forget relevant medical information. Many pre-stocked bug out bags are readily available online. Oh yes- do not forget the toilet paper.

Speaking of the naked truth, what about our congresswoman, Katie Hill? Katie, thank you for graciously resigning (bugging out). Having sexual relations with subordinates certainly justifies your decision to leave public service. Normally, being a Democrat means never having to say you are sorry. Here’s hoping you have set a new precedent.

The naked, bong-smoking photos and polyamorous, bisexual relationships do qualify Katie to be the poster girl for the new curriculum being forced on our K-12 students by the California Department of Education. The only thing lacking is the trifecta of promoting transgenderism. If you have not attended any of the events being presented around the state about the pornographic and countercultural practices being taught in our public schools, please take the time to inform yourself. If the man next door talked to your 13-year-old daughter about what is currently being taught in school, he would be arrested and required to register as a sex offender. That is why, in addition to the appalling academics of public schools, I am an advocate for californiaschoolchoice.org. It is time that we take control of where our children go to school and what they are taught. Let’s give education decisions to the parents who will be able to enroll their children in schools that share their values and have higher academic standards.

Speaking more about the naked truth, Donald J. Trump once again proved that he continues to do a great job, despite all of the personal attacks on him. Much to the consternation of our Democratic leadership, his most recent accomplishments include the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the strategic realignments with our allies in and around Syria.

Outraged Democrats were not informed of the actions taken while they were being planned and executed. Their disappointment was expressed in this leaked (fictitious) text message:

“Dear wretched POTUS,

You lying, crooked, Russian-colluding, election-stealing, racist, misogynistic Nazi traitor. Every time I see one of your tweets, I must rush to the WC as a result of my POTUS-induced reverse peristalsis. Due to your advanced dementia, you do not understand the need for us to seek justification for your impeachment. We feel compelled to leak dubiously sourced testimony. We are shocked and dismayed that we Democrats were not included in your planning to murder the austere Islamic scholar and foreign national, al-Baghdadi. In so doing you denied us opportunity to make up more reasons for your pending impeachment. You Bas**rd!

Love and Kisses
Rep. Adam Schiff”

Always Advocating Alan – Fires, Fun and Halloween

| Opinion | October 31, 2019

As I sit here pondering the state of the world, nothing makes me more melancholy than thinking about how events taking place this current season have disappointed our youth. This time last year, we had already been witness to ducks racing down their blue, slippery raceway to determine the yellow bird champion of the year at the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center’s “Dixon Duck Dash.” Just a few days later, it was time for our youngsters’ creativity to be unveiled with the Newhall Community Center’s “Halloween Costume and Pumpkin Decorating Contest,” put on by the Sunrise Rotary, the Salvation Army and the City of Santa Clarita. Each year, I look forward to these two events, as they represent a happy time, with children smiling and enjoying the evening, all while their parents get to beam the kind of pride only a parent can exhibit.

Ok, I admit I get a lot of warm feelings out of these events as well. This was my fifth year chairing the Dixon Duck Dash, and it would have been my second year dressing up in a yellow and orange costume as the event’s MC. Plus, it was to be my fourth year as the chief judge for the Newhall Community Center’s “Costume and Pumpkin Contest,” along with Bruce and Gloria Fortine, Ken and Debbie Chase, and my wife Pam, who all returned as seasoned judges of the event. This year, we also had something planned that had never happened before in the history of Santa Clarita’s children’s Halloween competitions: Mayor Marsha McLean and her husband were going to join the team of judges, and each one of our winners was to be honored with a certificate of recognition by our own California State Assemblywoman Christy Smith.

It took something earth-shattering to derail the plans for such monumental events, and the two recent California brush fires did just that. The first one lit up just before this year’s Dixon Duck Dash. Flames from the Saddleridge fire caused the closure of Interstate 5 and other nearby roadways. Traffic on alternate routes clogged streets, and all the turmoil prevented the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center’s volunteers from trucking the duck raceway up from Pasadena in time for race day. Less than two weeks later, the Tick fire burned close to our township and caused evacuations for some 50,000 Santa Clarita residents, necessitating that the Newhall Community Center be used as a refuge for those who were temporarily displaced. So, while I was gravely disappointed, I am also very proud of how our volunteers, city staff, firefighters, sheriffs and other first responders helped provide for residents unable to return home, and cared for those in need during this latest local emergency.

But like the great Yogi Berra would say, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” And I say, “The good stuff ain’t over yet.” I am writing this column on the Sunday before Halloween, and with everything that has happened to derail our children’s good times this holiday season, Halloween stands ready as an opportunity to make up for it all. I love this holiday. It is a time when neighbors show their friendship and goodwill to fellow neighbors by handing out treats to the neighborhood’s children. Even though our two sons are grown adults with youngsters of their own, and even though they live just far enough away that they most likely will not be trick-or-treating at my house, I will not let our local youngsters down. Currently, it is even more important because times have changed. When I first moved to the Santa Clarita Valley, Halloween represented a night when almost all the homes were lit up. Bands of kids in costumes roamed the streets with their parents, looking for a treat. But then came the candy scares and the nightly news stories, and now parents- rightfully- watch out for their children much more diligently. Unfortunately, today most homes are dark, and only children from our immediate area come forth yelling, “Trick or treat.”

Knowing there is less adult participation makes me even more diligent in putting up lights and decorations, in order to make sure that our home’s welcome message is visible. I smile just thinking about the little ones who timidly approach and then run back to their parents after receiving their treat. It is even great to see the older kids, who nervously laugh as if to say, “Yes, I am getting a little old for this, but Halloween is still fun.” But the thing that makes my heart go pitter-pat the most is when a parent brings their child around and tells me, “I remember coming to your house and getting candy from you when I was a trick-or-treater.”

I realize I am writing this before Halloween, and you will not get to read it until this year’s Halloween is history. I sincerely hope you were in one of those brightly lit-up houses, armed with bags of candy, and ready to make a child happy. But if you were not, please consider what you can do to brighten up your neighborhood’s Halloween next year. It is never too late to start, and if you do, there may come a time when a parent will bring a child to your door and tell you, “I remember coming to your house and getting candy from you when I was a trick-or-treater,” and I’m betting it will make your heart go pitter-pat as well.

Realavision

| Opinion | October 31, 2019

by Dale Paule

At the end of another hard day, it’s finally time for that well-deserved reward of supper, followed by settling back in the recliner, turning on your favorite TV “news” channel, and expecting to be informed truthfully about events taking place around the world that affect us all. And your mood will likely depend on whether you’re happy with what some politician has said or done, or “stompin’ mad” about something they haven’t said or done. Lately, the latter seems to be the trend, as the negative influence of politics surrounds and engulfs nearly everything we think about or do at home, work, school or even while we sleep!

So, when that TV “news”-giver smiles out at you from that 52-inch TV screen, and hands you yet another kick-in-the-teeth shot of bad news, what do you do? Well, you say you’ve had enough, and hit the off button on your remote. “That’ll show ‘em,” you say. But will it? Of course the answer is not a bit. Because, behind that now-blank TV screen, those politicians you are so angry and upset with are still happily chugging along and making swift progress toward their goals, while yours remain totally irrelevant to them. And what if you don’t like what they are doing? Tough toenails. This isn’t just television anymore pal, this is life. This is Realavision! And the big scary difference is Realavision ain’t got no off button!

How did we allow these politicians to get in the position where they can openly ignore the wishes of “We The People,” and blatantly replace them with their own?

There are probably lots of reasons, but only one that obviously stands out.

After decades of relying on TV and computers for getting our information concerning political goings-on, we’ve slowly allowed them to not only provide us with information, but to include a ready-made, canned version of it that we are expected to just accept, follow and above all, not question. And so we did. Many have lost the habit of running those ideas and information through our other, more dependable computer: our brain! It’s the one that uses common sense and logic to evaluate information, and is controlled solely by its owner and operator, which delivers to it the opportunity to form an educated opinion, rather than a dictated one.

There was a time when it was considered very hard to put anything over on
your typical American. And if we’re ever going to stop just accepting whatever we’re told without questioning it, we had better start getting back to that standard, and start being able to tell the difference between television and Realavision!

Don’t forget- even though Realavision may not have an off button, luckily, our brain does have a BS button!

Theatre and the #MeToo Movement

| Opinion | October 31, 2019

by Eric Goldin

One of the greatest acting performances of all time was Ralph Fiennes’ portrayal of the monstrous Nazi SS officer Amon Goth in Stephen Spielberg’s masterpiece, “Schindler’s List.” Amon Goth was the Commandant of the Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp, where he tortured and killed countless people. Goth was given the nickname, “The Butcher of Plaszow” because of his ruthless disregard for human life. The man was a brutally sick individual. Fiennes’ performance was so real and chilling that even the Holocaust survivors who were brought onto the set to help Spielberg make the most authentic film possible were spooked. For a brief moment they believed that Goth had come back to life. Fiennes went all in for his part in order to help tell the real story about what happened during this dark time in history. He didn’t hold himself back and he didn’t change the part to make it lighter. Instead, Fiennes faithfully immersed himself as the character. No matter how difficult it may have been to play this horrible individual, Ralph Fiennes did it. This performance helped modern audiences realize how truly evil the Nazis were, and how their actions caused some of the worst suffering in the history of the world.

But what if Fiennes had been too skittish to play the role? What would have happened if Ralph Fiennes hadn’t wanted to fully commit to the character? What if Fiennes had gone up to Spielberg and said that he felt very uncomfortable playing the part of a racist, violent sociopath? What if Fiennes had said that he didn’t want to utter the antisemitic slurs in the script? What if Fiennes had said he didn’t want to portray the violence? And what if Spielberg had agreed? If any of this had happened, it would’ve turned one of the greatest films ever made into dreck. It wouldn’t have told the real story of what happened during the Holocaust. An actor can’t hold himself back for a role like this, and a good director won’t let him. “Schindler’s List” wouldn’t be known as a masterpiece if Fiennes had been afraid of diving into the deep end, or if he had become self-conscious. At best, it would be known as just a mediocre film.

I’m currently taking a theatre appreciation class taught by Susan Hinshaw. She’s an excellent acting teacher who is beloved by the students. A few weeks ago, we got to see the final dress rehearsal of a play she’s directing called “Boys’ Life.” There’s one sequence in the play where a guy sexually forces himself onto a girl. Hinshaw explained that this part was difficult to do. In fact, they had to bring in an “intimacy coach” to help choregraph it because they didn’t want any of the actors to feel uncomfortable. When I watched it live, it seemed that the male actor, who gave an otherwise excellent performance, felt hesitant and self-conscious. For me, this put a stop to the play. The illusion of his character was broken, and all that was left was an anxious performer afraid of doing the scene. His feebleness in the moment undid that particular section of the play.

Hinshaw explained that the #MeToo movement has made the public more conscientious of the numerous sexual assaults that take place. According to activists, even in a performance consisting of fictional characters, the actors might feel like they are literally being sexually assaulted or committing sexual assault if they go all in. This is a tragedy! If we continue to accept this mindset, there won’t be any great plays or films. Cinema and theatrical shows will lose the realism that makes people want to view them and appreciate them as works of art. The #MeToo movement has done a lot of good in exposing many real-life sexual assaults, and a lot of rapists have been exposed and brought to justice. The #MeToo movement has had a tremendously positive impact on our society. However, the performance I witnessed provides an example of the unintended negative consequences that the movement can have when it is allowed to overstep its bounds. This one scene almost made the whole play fail. I understand that these performers were college students, not professionals, but they were still adults, and they shouldn’t be handled with kid gloves.

Actors shouldn’t be put on a leash, and they definitely shouldn’t restrict themselves during performances. If a play has a scene where sexual assault takes place, they should go all in. If one of the performers feels uncomfortable doing it and can’t get over it, the director should immediately let them go and bring in somebody who is willing to do it. If a script calls for an actor to do X, Y and Z, they have an obligation to follow it, or otherwise not participate in the production. A great play or film can be ruined if actors are scared of being authentic. Even one scene with an actor hesitating to do their job can be disastrous. A performance can never be great if actors are confined because of arbitrary and unnecessary constraints. “Schindler’s List” reminds us that a great performance can be a powerful force for good in a world with plenty of evil to combat.

Obamacare: The Plan That Keeps on Taking

| Opinion | October 31, 2019

by Rob Werner
Unless you’re covered by Medicare, an employer or rely on welfare, you’re stuck with Obamacare. Prior to Obamacare, my family always maintained health insurance. Despite the president’s promise that we could keep our insurance, it was terminated, and our only option was Obamacare.

One of its best, most affordable plans is Kaiser’s. As an HMO, you are restricted to its facilities and doctors for care. In the past, one could pay a flat rate for all its services, or have some relatively small co-pay for things like doctor visits – maybe $25.

People are reluctant to acquire medical insurance with an HMO, fearing they are motivated to delay treatment. Under Obamacare, this is not the case. If you subscribe to a bronze plan (the least expensive), you are advised constantly via recorded calls to seek medical attention.

During the last enrollment period, my wife’s monthly fee for this “bronze” insurance was $663.95. In Kaiser’s renewal statement, they announced for 2020 the fee is $686.21 per month, an increase of 3.4%. However, the individual annual deductible is raised from $6000 to $6900, which represents a 15% increase. So, the rate increase for 2020 is 18.4%. You might think, Well, this is an HMO, and it’s only a deductible, so it is not that important.

Kaiser is not the same old HMO. Under this type of Obamacare coverage, they charge premium fees – full fees charged by independent doctors and medical providers. Your copay is 100%. This means that every time you visit the doctor or receive a service, you are charged the full rate – usually hundreds of dollars coming from your pocket, in addition to the medical insurance premium.

So, for this next year, should she have the need and be prepared to spend the money, my wife’s first $6900 of what Kaiser designates as the value of their service will come from our pocket. We’ve found that to save money, one can go to doctors outside the “insurance” who charge in cash substantially less than Kaiser does for most routine matters. Or, like some people, we just avoid going to doctors.

The good news is that if you have a catastrophic injury or illness, the treatment rates are so high that you will soon reach your deductible.

Kaiser must really support and love Obamacare, as it has done so much for them. My wife’s policy, before Obamacare caused its termination, was substantially less expensive than the policy it was replaced with. It was a PPO. She could choose her own doctors. It had a $2000 deductible and a 20% co-pay. That means she paid 20% of the cost of services and treatment until the deductible was reached, and 0% thereafter.

Prior to Obamacare, we referred to the bronze plans as catastrophic policies, and carried them for our college kids. Back then they cost less than $100.

It kind of makes you wonder what other “improvements” the government has in mind for our welfare. There should be a posted warning every time the government promotes a new service for us citizens: WARNING: GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS ARE INEFFICIENT AND HAZARDOUS TO YOUR FINANCIAL WELL-BEING!

Republicans Have James Madison Spinning in His Grave

| Opinion | October 31, 2019

by John L. Micek

Maybe they thought they were standing up for principle.

How else can you explain the Republican lawmakers who dramatically barged into a closed-door meeting of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday to protest an ever-expanding impeachment probe of President Donald Trump?

Whatever principle they were defending — in this case, the fairness and transparency of the Democrat-led impeachment probe — collapsed utterly in the media circus that quickly enveloped the proceedings.

“I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., tweeted on Wednesday morning, referring to the “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility” that is used when matters of the most urgent secrecy are being discussed. Democrats, not without reason, criticized Republicans for bringing their phones into an area where phones are explicitly banned for security reasons.

As it turned out, more than half of the self-styled “protesters,” who acted with Trump’s blessing, were free to attend the hearing and ask questions. Throughout the political sideshow, Gaetz sounded more like a cable news anchor than an elected member of the world’s greatest legislative body.

The stunt was visible confirmation that congressional Republicans have surrendered their constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities, and now simply serve as clueless adjuncts to an increasingly unstable chief executive who’s just one tweetstorm away from eviscerating them in the most public — and often most personal — of terms.

Somewhere, James Madison, who warned against the dangers of demagogues, is spinning in his grave at the legislative branch’s acquiescence to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

An Oct. 20 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute paints a vivid picture of the starkness of the current partisan divide of the impeachment debate.

While overall support for impeaching Trump and removing him from office has grown steadily since February 2017 (the month after he took office), when it was 30 percent, to the 47 percent where it has hung steadily since October 2018, the divides among the partisan faithful are far more stark.

Nearly eight in 10 Democrats (78 percent) say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to the PRRI poll.

Support among Republicans has remained steadfast, with 94 percent saying he should not be impeached and removed from office, the poll found. It adds that “feelings are essentially unanimous” among white evangelical Protestants and Republicans who turned to Fox News as their primary source of news.

Just a handful of elected Republicans have stepped up to criticize Trump for his now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he sought a quid pro quo for dirt on Biden. It’s only gone downhill from there, with others in the White House’s orbit swept into the probe.

They include Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who has called Trump’s attempts to solicit foreign meddling in the 2020 election “wrong and appalling.”

Romney hasn’t made up his mind on impeachment. Romney told Axios’ Mike Allen that he’s looking for “as much information” as he can get, and wants to “make an assessment consistent with the law and the Constitution” if the House ends up sending impeachment articles to the Senate, which seems a pretty good bet at the moment.

Last week, Florida Republican Rep. Francis Rooney said he was open to impeaching Trump. A day later, he announced he’d retire in 2020. And Rep. Justin Amash, the Republican turned independent from Michigan, has said he’ll join House Democrats on impeachment.

Unfortunately, at least right now, there are more Republicans in the Gaetz camp and not enough on Romney’s side of the ledger — at least publicly. Republicans, who nurse grievances against Trump in their hearts while remaining publicly supportive of the president, may decide there’s a point of no return where they’ll have to be as loyal to Trump as the president has been to them.

Which is to say, not at all.

Because in Trumplandia, loyalty is a one-way street. And that’s the point at which Trump may become the third president to be impeached by the House — and the first in American history to be convicted in the Senate.

And maybe then Madison can rest easy again.

Copyright 2019 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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

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