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Always Advocating Alan – Are You Open Minded, Racist, Or Just Not-Too-Bright?

| Opinion | July 25, 2019

About a year and a half ago, I penned a column for the Gazette titled, “Why You Cannot Have a Rational Discussion with Someone on the Extreme Left or Extreme Right.” At that time my thoughts centered on Facebook. I have always found it productive and enlightening to have dialog with individuals who hold beliefs which are different from my own, as I am of the opinion; “You will never learn much of anything by only talking to people who agree with you.” So, as social media roadblocks continued to be placed in the way of having meaningful dialog online, I was becoming increasingly frustrated.

I am a person who tries to draw heavily on my life experiences to reach a conclusion. One instance I remember vividly, occurred around mid-1970, when my family was camping with friends at Lake Success. It turns out my buddy’s daughter was going to meet us there, and he asked me to watch out for her. Well, that evening I saw her driving by and proceeded to yell out, “Hey June, we are over here.” When she did not seem to respond, I tried to yell louder. Suddenly I realized how foolish I had been acting, and I started laughing at myself, because June is deaf.

On that note, I thought of the number of times I found someone trying to get their point across, by repeating their position, only louder the second time around. When it had no effect, an attack on the messenger followed, with personal insults and name calling in abundance. People who use those methods do not seem to understand that an individual’s perceptions will not change by telling them they are stupid and yelling they are wrong. The best a reasonable person can hope for is to gain the other individual’s trust, while getting a better understanding of the other person’s perspective. Plus, if you lay out your position well, it might start the other person thinking about what you said. In some instances, if you proceed using a respectful dialog, instead of approaching the subject in an abrasive manner, you may find out you are actually in agreement, even though you were unaware of it.

I was hoping the social media situation would get better, but the opposite occurred. The next conversation sinkhole we fell into was, when a person ran out of answers, they would attempt to steer away from the subject, by saying something such as, “I don’t like, or trust, him or her.” After falling for those tactics a couple of times, and realizing nothing of value was being accomplished, I developed a strategy of, refusing to continue dialog on a subject when the other person would not agree to stay on the topic at hand. Sure, it ended quite a few discussions, and even though I had to be satisfied with just walking away, I ended up consuming a lot fewer Rolaids. (Just kidding, but I’m sure you get the idea).

Unfortunately, today we seem to have slid down to the bottom of the conversation mountain. Some individuals have discovered “dog whistles,” even though they cannot hear them, and use the term to find “racist” meanings everywhere. Now, vanilla ice cream is a symbol of white Supremacy, everyone you do not agree with is a Fascist, you will be ostracized if you dare to take exception to the policies being brought forward by an individual who is a member of a minority, and our young adults are traumatized by seeing a painting of George Washington. God help us, if those who see racism at every turn go to the supermarket and find cookies and cream or chocolate chip ice cream. I shudder to think of what will come next. In fact, it has gone so far that I don’t know of any public official who has not been called a racist by someone. Yet, if I thought any of the above nonsense was truly the way the public perceived reality and acted, I would be worried. Instead, I find my interactions with folks in the real world to be pleasant and respectful. It makes me angry the media spreads this negative and divisive view of American culture.

If you were to ask me, do elements of racism still exist in our country? I would respond by saying, unfortunately, I realize it does still exist in some circles. At the same time, during my lifetime, our country has come a long way in embracing diversity. For example, in 1952, when I lived in Florida for a year, I witnessed real overt discrimination and fear of retaliation on the black community.

When I moved to Santa Clarita in 1965, I was greeted by a young man who showed me his KKK membership card, and warned me about the problems I would encounter being Jewish in the Santa Clarita Valley. On the other hand, my wife’s coworker at Kaiser was another nurse named Alice. She and her husband Jess became our good friends, and we were honored when they became our children’s Godparents. It floored me, when after inviting them to our house, they questioned if it was OK for them to be in our neighborhood. Why, because they were black.

Fortunately, today as a country, we continue to improve race relations, one small step at a time. During my career as a Department and Project Manager, my management noticed my department’s diverse workforce.

During the Affirmative Action Years, when asked how I did it, my answer was, I do not try, I hire based solely on an individual’s ability to satisfy the job requirements; diversity just comes naturally. In addition, Santa Clarita has become much more of a melting pot, and I am now a member of an organization which would have excluded me, for religious reasons, 60 years ago. I am encouraged by our communities taking this more enlightened direction and am looking forward to the United States staying on the same righteous path. It would be very upsetting to see the process diverted by those just looking for political gain.

So, how do you spot a racist today? If you hear a person talking about an entire group of people in a disparaging way, the person is a racist. For example, if someone tells you, all Muslims are terrorists, all Jews are only interested in money, or all the problems encountered in the United States are caused by old white guys, the person is most likely a racist. If you question the policies put forth by an elected official, and someone tries to say you cannot because the official is a member of a minority, the person is a racist. In the United States, if you know of a specific policy which you are opposed to, or an inappropriate action taken by an individual, you should be free to express your beliefs, no matter who the person is.

Eliminating racism is everyone’s responsibility, and Morgan Freeman said it best — “How do we stop racism? Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man”.

If we would all follow Morgan’s suggestion, and simply treat everyone with the same level of respect you want the next person to show you, discrimination would be eliminated. Then at that point, we will be able to sit down, and respectfully talk about the issues, while keeping an open mind, and learning from the experience.

America’s Mandatory Re-Education and Indoctrination Centers

| Opinion | July 18, 2019

by Rob Werner

Communist countries have a history of killing, imprisoning or re-educating people who act against or don’t conform to their left-wing ideology. Conformity is expected, news is regulated and suppressed, and the media and educational systems are required to follow and promote the party line.

Democratic Western nations are moving toward the adoption of these policies. The United Kingdom now incarcerates people who violate their requirements for politically correct speech; for example, you may be imprisoned for referring to a man, who identifies as a woman, as a man.

Some American liberals claim this could not occur here. Moderate and conservative Americans generally believe that our principles will prevail. They are wrong. Not enough attention is given to what is happening at colleges and the rest of our education establishments.

Most of our colleges are run and controlled by left-wing radical “educators.” Many professors will acknowledge they are socialist, communist or otherwise left-wing. Any conservative teacher who speaks up, risks losing employment. Only ideologies of the left are tolerated.

Students are told what they must believe. Dissenters are ridiculed and bullied by their professors and fellow students. Their grades suffer, or they face expulsion.

California requires mandatory college classes. At first this was for the basics or reading, writing, mathematics and government. These were covered in the first two years of college. Then they added indoctrination classes. More recently, recognizing the need, more indoctrination classes were made mandatory in the second half of college. Of course, radicals will promote their philosophy whatever the class may be.

To complete college, one must take such indoctrination classes as American Racism, Disparity of Income and various others that are anti-capitalist, anti-American or promote the conversion of our country into some form of Socialist utopia. Many parents would be offended if they knew of all these classes, so restrictions were placed on the dissemination of college class catalogues and the classes being taken by one’s own kids.

Anyone wanting a career dependent on a college education has no choice but to submit to the process. It should be no surprise that the young and impressionable get radicalized.

To make matters worse, tuitions are enormous, student loans are readily available and many classes are useless. This makes the college graduate both dependent and resentful when they are burdened with paying off these debts. While the colleges promote student loan waivers or publicly paid college for all, they ignore the major factors in education costs. University of California professors get full time pay for 3-6 hours of teaching per week. Many professors supplement their income by requiring the purchase of an unnecessary text that they wrote.

You may think your pre-college kids are safe — teachers in grade school work much harder and you know what classes the kids are taking. Remember, teachers are educated at indoctrination centers.

Driving a wedge between students and parents, California has instituted and modified sex-education classes that require or encourage secrecy and non-disclosure to parents. These programs appear to advocate sex regardless of a person’s gender, and offer contraceptives and abortions without parental disclosure.

Rationally, one might thing that graduates ultimately would recognize that the propaganda classes should be replaced with practical courses such as managing personal finances, understanding investments or even home making. If the indoctrinators are successful, instead they will be advocating that everyone must conform to what they perceive as proper thought.

How Did Things Get Like This?

| Opinion | July 18, 2019

The question I keep hearing from friends and family who follow current events is, “How did things get like this?”

Puzzlement is understandable.

Said about President Trump by the left:

There are vicious attacks on his policies and his requests of legislation for asylum and immigration laws, which are remarkably similar to liberal Democrat Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

He is charged with being the most divisive President in history, while his actions and policies reflect traditional American values more than any President in memory apart from Ronald Reagan. The division is being caused by the often repeated lies and out of context statements being made by his accusers. The media and Democrats speak in lockstep, using the exact same phrases attributed to Nazi Joseph Goebbels, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.” Leftists use fascist tactics, not President Trump.

President Trump has been charged with the usual litany of sins chanted by the left. They are all based on race, class, gender and now sexual orientation. Those who know him best and have worked for him, refute these charges. It seems that those on the left, who live life with unreasoned hate, ignore evidence.

President Trump’s economic and foreign policies are demonstrably working. Income and employment for all races and classes are up, inflation is under control and 401ks are at record highs. North Korea is in check, we are negotiating with China and the rest of the world for more fair-trade agreements, our relationship with Israel is the best in history and Iran will comply or collapse. Regardless, for some unknown reason all the Democrat Presidential candidates want to reverse the policies that are currently serving all American people so well.

Resigning Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has been viciously attacked by Democrats because they say that some 10 years ago, as a prosecutor in Florida, he had not adequately charged the vile sexual criminal Jeffrey Epstein. The Democrats were somehow trying to make this reflect on President Trump who had thrown Epstein out of his club, Mar-a-Lago, years ago. Unaccused was President Clinton, who was often a guest on Epstein’s private plane (Lolita Express) that was used to transport underage girls to his private island for sex. Over the years, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and the Clintons all gladly accepted donations from the registered sexual predator. Crickets from the media.

These are but a few examples that reflect how America, our core values and rational thought are under assault by the most intolerant religion, the progressive left. It now dominates public education, corrupts the minds of our children and is in the process of re-writing our history in its own image. We are engaged in a great civil war. The battle is liberty and free market capitalism vs. the tyranny of socialism and fascism by the leftist progressives.

To begin engaging in this battle against the fascist/socialist left we must start with two things.

First – become armed with our foundational roots by educating ourselves on traditional American and Judeo/Christian core values. You may begin that process by watching the short videos at Prager University and taking the free online courses available at Hillsdale College.

Second – we must take back our educational system and put the brakes on the advancement of the left. We must support home schooling. We must transform our school choices to one where Americanism, traditional civics, western civilization and traditional values can be taught; rather than only the social agenda and revisionist history that are being taught now in our progressive dominated schools. Free market solutions can be found at www.SchoolChoice2020.org.

The revolution begins with you.

 

Always Advocating Alan – Traffic, Parking, and a Lack of Future Vision

| Opinion | July 18, 2019

When my wife Pam and I moved to the Santa Clarita Valley over a half century ago, it was a very rural and sparsely populated place. It seemed very comforting because I realized my young family was going to be living just three blocks from a grammar school, and a junior high school was under construction about the same distance away.

There were no houses on the hillsides around us, and we considered it a traffic jam if two cars, traveling in adjacent directions, would arrive simultaneously at an intersection displaying four way stop signs, requiring us to patiently ponder which vehicle would get to enter the intersection first. Yep, those were “the good old days.”

As time passed, some neighbors called it progress, while others had more colorful four-letter words to describe the more and more houses being built, and the resulting traffic clogging our Santa Clarita roadways. While I have never opposed property owners developing what they own, I have also been of the opinion that “our elected officials have the responsibility to provide adequate infrastructure for the developments they approve.” Such assurance is supposed to be provided by the City of Santa Clarita establishing land use standards (the general plan), and the collection of fees and charges necessary to provide city services, one of which is adequate and properly maintained roads (bridge and thoroughfare fees). It is understandable why concern over traffic congestion has been growing for a long time. Quoting the Los Angeles Times in 2016, the “Los Angeles area can claim the worst traffic in America, Again.”

Yet, what makes the traffic situation in the Santa Clarita Valley even worse, is the streets are not laid out in a grid pattern, making it almost impossible to synchronize the traffic lights, the city bus service being established without providing egresses at all bus stops, causing buses to unnecessarily block lanes of traffic, and the failure of state, county and city officials to do much more than study the problem. Plus, if you are a regular resident who takes their children to school in the morning, or travels to work and back during rush hour, you already know where the traffic bottlenecks are. If the elected officials really wanted advice on how and where to fix the problem, all they would need to do is ask “John-Q-Public,” and then act on the feedback they receive.

But the insanity does not stop there.

Recently, the State Legislature passed some bills to help cure California’s “Affordable Housing” shortage. Starting with the passage of California SB 229 and AB 494 in October of 2017, “Accessory Dwelling Units” are now legal for construction in single family or multi-family residential zones, in addition to the existing structures. While the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) may not exceed 1200 square feet, garage conversions of 400-square feet may be used. Parking required shall not exceed one parking space per unit; however the ADU shall be exempt from all parking requirements if the property is located within 0.5-mile walking distance of a public transportation station. Changes, primarily to relax the requirements on constructing an ADU are being adopted at the state level in a fast and furious manner. At the April 9, 2019 city council meeting, agenda Item 3 staff report indicated passage of Assembly Bill 68, would prohibit the City of Santa Clarita from imposing a minimum lot size to be used for ADU construction, and also prohibit requiring new parking spaces after a garage or carport is converted into an ADU.

You may remember not that long ago, when the City of Santa Clarita was determined to eliminate illegal garage conversions and put a stop to homeowners renting out their garages as living space. Well, how things change over time. Now the State of California is making those same garages available for conversion into dwelling units. One Canyon Country neighborhood has been made aware of the first of these conversions in their area. It is being accomplished by a property owner who purchased the existing home for use as a rental and in addition is converting the garage for another rental unit. Should the owner decide to rent rooms, as is legal in the City of Santa Clarita, the likelihood is there will be a need to park five or six cars as a result; and with replacements not being required due to the garage conversion, where will they park? In front of other neighbors’ homes, of course, further congesting the neighborhood. Now start to imagine the increased congestion should other property owners follow suit.

Plus, it still isn’t over. At the July 9, 2019 city council meeting, agenda item 7, the council declared opposition to SB 330 which if passed, would prohibit Santa Clarita “from requiring a minimum parking requirement if a proposed residential development is within one-quarter mile of a rail stop …. and also prohibit the city from requiring a minimum parking requirement greater than 0.5 spaces per unit if the proposed residential development is outside of one-quarter mile of a rail stop.” I can’t imagine what planet our state legislators are from. Here on earth, virtually every multi-family development currently does not have enough parking spaces for their residents. Don’t take my word for it; verify the fact for yourself by driving up Valle Del Oro in Newhall, or Isabella Parkway next to Home Depot after 5 PM, and see if you can spot an empty space. Santa Clarita development codes need to be modified to provide more parking spaces per unit, not less. Sure, our city council members lamented about loss of local control, but are they doing any better?

At the same April 9 meeting, agenda Item 13 proposed creation of a “Jobs Creation Overlay Zone (JCOZ),” which would allow the height of office buildings to be increased to five stories without a conditional use permit and provide the Director of Community Development the authority to reduce parking requirements. They voted 4-1 to approve the staff recommended action, with no discussion about the infrastructure (road improvements) necessary to accommodate the added traffic and parking. Next came agenda item 14, proposing to award the design contract for the Dockweiler Drive extension. I rose to remind them about the plight of residents who live in the condo complex at the top of Dockweiler. If the road is constructed two lanes in each direction, with no stopping posted on each side, where will the current residents park? The answer came back that although the road would be constructed as two lanes in each direction, it will only be striped for one. I find the answer hard to believe, but we will just have to wait and see.

The thing I found most infuriating about the Dockweiler extension and 13th Street crossing improvement project discussion was Councilman Kellar’s lecture about how the current road improvement project is all about public safety. If the Council is suddenly so concerned about traffic impeding public safety, what are they planning to do about all the areas around the city which are almost in gridlock? For example, just try driving across town on Soledad Canyon Road, from Shadow Pines to McBean Parkway and then on to the Henry Mayo Hospital at 7AM when school is in session. Think about what happens to our city streets when there is an accident on the 5 freeway or Hwy 14, and how those instances affect first responders in time of an emergency.

Santa Clarita’s roadways are being clogged by the city and county approving developments without providing infrastructure to support our area’s growth. Necessary parking and road improvements are not being provided; this will force people to get out of their cars and use alternate forms of transportation, or the city is waiting for a developer to pay for it. Both of these inactions just keep making the problem worse. It is time for our state, county, and local elected officials to start realizing they cannot fix the California Affordable Housing crisis on the shoulders of our current residents, and they cannot fix our traffic problems by doubling down on solutions which have failed to even hold the status quo. If the situation continues to worsen, perhaps it is time for the public to realize we just have the wrong people representing us.

While I can remember how it was when my wife Pam and I moved to the Santa Clarita Valley, when it was a very rural and sparsely populated place, I wonder if my grandchildren will still be living here, one half century from now, and will they be relating their memories of how the City of Santa Clarita was, before the traffic and parking problems were solved.

Republicans are Complicit in Trump’s Racism

| Opinion | July 18, 2019

by John L. Micek

The next time a Republican tries to tell you that he or she is an heir to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, remind them that in 2019, when the GOP had a chance to stand up to the worst kind of bigotry and un-American behavior, the self-styled “Party of Lincoln” was conspicuously and shamefully silent.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s despicable and racist tweets telling four minority women members of Congress – all American citizens, all duly elected representatives of hundreds of thousands of American citizens of all races, colors, and creeds – to “go back” to where they came from, Capitol Hill Republicans surrendered whatever tattered remnants of their spines remained and were complicit in the face of the worst kind of anti-American bigotry.

All four of the women targeted by Trump – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley – pushed back during a Capitol Hill news conference on Monday night, according to the Washington Post.

“I encourage the American people and all of us – in this room and beyond – to not take the bait,” Pressley said. “This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people that we were sent here with a decisive mandate from our constituents to work on.”

But some Republicans not only took the bait – they swallowed it: hook, line, and sinker.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told the Washington Post that Trump “is not a racist,” and instead was speaking out of “frustration.” Asked if he believed that Omar, who is a naturalized American citizen, should return to Somalia, where she was born, McCarthy said, “No, they’re Americans. Nobody believes somebody should leave the country. They have a right to give their opinion.”

Actually, Mr. Minority Leader, that is precisely what the president believes: “IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America. Certain people HATE our Country,” Trump tweeted again Monday in a hateful tirade.

Like McCarthy, Rep. Mark Meadows, chair of the hyper-conservative Freedom Caucus (irony intentional?), nearly tore a rotator cuff trying to explain away Trump’s remarks.

Trump’s comments “were not based on any religious preference, on any skin color,” but rather on frustration over “having a crisis at the border and having a whole lot of people weigh in and yet not really putting action to those words,” he said.

Meadows is half right at least. Trump was clearly trying to change the subject away from the massive ICE raids that never materialized over the weekend, and away from disturbing footage of the inhumane conditions in detention camps at the southern border. But he’s dead wrong otherwise.

Taking to Twitter, Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry wrote that he was disappointed to find “that many in the media are just awakening to the anti-American and anti-Semitic comments uttered consistently by some socialist leaders. I invite everyone to join me as we continue strengthening our Country and communities.”

Perry is a veteran, sworn to uphold the Constitution and the values it represents. Those values include every American’s constitutionally protected right to criticize the government, as well as Congress’ constitutionally authorized duty and responsibility to act as a check on the executive branch.

Maybe he forgot that. Maybe someone should remind him.

Other Republicans, such as Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, tried to split the difference, criticizing Trump even as they took a swipe at the four Democratic lawmakers. Toomey said in a statement that Trump was “wrong to suggest that four left-wing congresswomen should go back to where they came from.”

But Toomey also said that he “couldn’t disagree more with these congresswomen’s views on immigration, socialism, national security, and virtually every policy issue. But they are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be. We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry.”

How hard is it to say, without qualification, that something is wrong? How hard is it to say that the president’s comments are racist, misogynist, and not consonant with the values we hold dear as a country? It shouldn’t be difficult at all.

And yet, hardly any Republican member of Congress could accomplish that simple task.

One of America’s greatest Republican presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, famously argued that it’s “not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public” to say that the president cannot be criticized.

In the case of not only The Squad, but again and again throughout Trump’s bankrupt presidency, Republicans have failed this basic test. It’s now on the voters to remind Trump – and his toadies in Congress – of this failure at the ballot box in 2020.

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.

Republican Values Vs. Democrat Values

| Opinion | July 12, 2019

Recently Governor Gavin Newsom stated that Republicans “have no governing philosophy, they have no value system that’s interesting except fear of others.” This is a curious statement coming from a leader of the Progressive Democratic Party which has perverted the traditional values of Western Civilization and Judeo-Christianity. A party that willingly commits evil in the name of fighting it.

Consider this:
Democrats, with their support of late term abortion, celebrate murder of the defenseless innocent. They even view it as a woman’s right. Democrats ignore The Declaration of Independence and the Bible. Progressive Democrats believe that the unborn do not have human rights; in fact, the unborn have less rights than a puppy (ask the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – PETA). They oppose capital punishment for those who have been convicted of vicious murder.

Republicans support our inalienable Creator’s given right to life, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. They honor the Decalogue admonition of “Do Not Murder.” They find abortion and infanticide appalling. They believe that life should not be taken without due process of the law. Republicans believe that the unborn have inalienable rights and are made superior to a puppy.
Democrats believe we should be defined, divided and judged by the color of our skin, class, X and Y chromosomes, age and now sexual orientation.

Republicans believe we are created equal and as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

First Amendment:
Democrats believe those who they disagree with should be silenced. Republicans believe in the freedom of speech.
Republicans believe in the free practice of religion, even in the public square. Democrats believe that people who exercise their freedom of religion in public should be sanctioned and are violating the establishment clause. (Note “Separation of Church and State” is not mentioned in the Constitution.)
Democrats do not believe that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is relevant. Republicans believe that the Second Amendment is there to protect our rights, therefore is essential.

On Liberty:
Democrats believe that we must be forced to give men fish. Republicans believe that we should teach men to fish.
Progressive Democrats believe that we can only have collective salvation. Republicans believe that we have individual salvation.

Progressive Democrats believe the rights of the collective supersede the rights of the individual. Republicans believe that the rights of the individual supersede the rights of the state.
Progressive Democrats believe that the purpose of government is to do everything for us. Republicans believe that the purpose of the Constitution is to define what the government may not do to us.
Democrats support strong centralized power. Republicans support limited government and independence.

Democrats believe that the state has a right to your property to use as they see fit
Republicans believe that you have personal property rights but may pay for services and safety nets as necessary.

Progressive Democrats want their children to grow up to be dependent Social Justice Warriors. Republicans want their children to grow up to be self-supporting, independent, free and be able to manage their own affairs and those of their community.

Democrats do not find history relevant. Republicans look to history for guidance on what to expect in the future.

Republicans want their children to think critically. Democrats want their children to think critically about Republicans.

Republican economic policies work. Democrat economic policies have not, but will this time.

D=Tyranny. R=Liberty. D≠Values. R=Values.

Always Advocating Alan – Parades, Rocking and Rolling and Helping Those in Need

| Opinion | July 12, 2019

Just for the record, this past 4-day weekend has turned out to be a much more vigorous adventure than any other Independence Day holiday I have ever experienced in the past.

Starting off in the darkness of early morning on Thursday the 4th, I was getting ready to load the truck with my part of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center Parade Float equipment. While checking my list for the umpteenth time, I realized if I left something important home, or miscalculated how the sound system or other electrical equipment was going to work, there would be no way to recover. The float plans were a lot more complex this year, as we had added a pneumatic system to keep our big yellow duck properly inflated, and incorporated the use of a 110 volt inverter to keep the bubbles blowing, along with a whole new set of banners, flags and props. But fortunately, the parade team’s planning paid off. When we arrived at our parade staging location, we had everything needed to decorate our float and all the props were working as designed.

If you were a spectator on the parade route, and were able to see and hear us come by, I hope you noticed how we showed our support for the United Sates Constitution’s 1st Amendment granting freedom of the press, and the 100th anniversary of Santa Clarita’s Signal Newspaper, when we announced the inauguration of the “Dixon Daily News.” In addition, to be in fashion for the occasion, the Dixon Float Decoration Team had our lovely mascot, “Dorothy Dixon Duck,” wearing a custom-made designer shower cap, while taking a bubble bath and reading the latest copy of our paper. But, to be sure those watching did not miss the significance, or importance, of the Dixon Daily News, our CEO Philip Solomon headed up a crew of four bicycle riding newspaper delivery boys and girls, handing out copies which included “Duck Adoption Papers” announcing the “Dixon Duck Dash” to be held on October 12th at Bridgeport Park. Not only will this event be a free fun day for the entire family, if you adopt a duck, or ducks, you could be one of the Dixon Duck Dash’s grand prize recipients and win some big bucks (dollars that is).

Even with all we had to do, we did not forget my seven pound, white, long haired, floppy eared, tail wagging, family member named Baby, who turned 98 in dog years on the 4th. This year, she rode in the center of the float, amazed as always, about all the people gathered to celebrate with her. Yet, what I found most intriguing was our own Mayor, Marsha McLean. As it turned out, the Mayor occupied the parade spot right behind our Samuel Dixon Family Health Center float. What made our Mayor stand out above the other elected officials, was while most of them remained in a safe zone of riding in an automobile, Mayor Marsha showed her daredevil spirit by climbing on the back of a shiny Harley-Davidson trike, to travel the parade route. It was breathtaking to watch as the rider, and our Mayor, paused to do some doughnuts in an intersection. Way to go, Mayor Marsha!

Our float had a great time, but their activities represented just the first half of the day. After taking down the parade float decorations, returning the truck to the rental yard and taking everything back to where it would be stored for next year, there was the question of what to do next. In the morning, American Legion riders were passing out flyers for lunch and afternoon activities at their Newhall Legion Post. Independence Day celebrations were also scheduled at Mint Canyon Moose, the Santa Clarita Elks, and I’ll bet there was a large gathering at the local VFW. It makes me proud to live in this very patriotic city named Santa Clarita.

This year, lunch time brought more than just food on my plate when I was asked if I had felt the earthquake. Since I was riding on a parade float, the earthquake being centered in Ridgecrest and we were buffered by being on the other side of the San Andreas fault, I did not even know the quake had taken place. Finding out later that Ridgecrest was “rocking and rolling” to a 7.1 shaker, my heart went out to all the local residents. I remember the 6.5 1971 Sylmar quake causing my wife and I to shovel a trash barrel full of broken glass out of our kitchen, and the 6.7 1994 Northridge shaker rupturing a natural gas main line two blocks down from my house. When we finally were able to travel to work, we saw first-hand all the apartment buildings on Lassen which collapsed on to their lower level parking areas, plus my wife’s place of employment on Devonshire Boulevard where the 3rd floor became the 2nd floor. Those level 6.5 and 6.7 quakes were bad enough, but a 7.1 had to be a lot worse. Plus, now all the locals must live with the aftershocks, find the resources to repair the damage and calm their nerves. I realize we have been lucky to not have experienced a local major earthquake for over 20 years. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our luck holds out.

All that was happening, and the holiday was not half over. Last week I wrote about a tragic event which took place on Friday, June 21, 2019. The Jarheads MC, a group of active duty or honorably discharged Marines, FMF Corpsman, and family members, in New Hampshire, were on their way to a charity fund raiser at a local American Legion Post, when a pickup truck towing a car trailer, swerved onto the wrong side of the road directly into the group of motorcycle riders. Seven members of the group were killed and several more were severely injured. It is still very troubling for me to think about men and women who had volunteered to put their life on the line to defend our country, ending up in heaven as a result of a senseless violent incident, right here at home. It makes me even more incensed finding out the perpetrator, “should have had his commercial driver’s license suspended, but Massachusetts did not properly log an impaired driving incident in Connecticut from the previous month”. In addition, “Massachusetts officials announced that Registry of Motor Vehicle workers stopped processing out-of-state violations beginning in March 2018, and 53 bins of unopened mail with thousands of notices were discovered at a records room at the Quincy office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The Bay State’s RMV has issued more than 1,100 suspensions to 876 drivers as it works through a backlog of out-of-state driver’s license violations that sat unchecked for more than a year.” Now, I’m sure the elected officials, in those states, will hold press conferences to cry out how unacceptable the situation was. But from my standpoint, this type of dereliction of duty is becoming all too common. We need to start putting public servants in office whose first priority is protecting the public, instead of those who seem to spend their time verifying their retirement account is fully funded.

When Joe Lozano and I found out that memorial rides and fundraisers were being set up across the country on July 6th to help the victims and families of the New Hampshire tragedy, we decided Santa Clarita should take action as well. With only 10 days lead time, we knew we needed to try something new. So, we opted for a memorial ride, with no ride fee charged, no standard donations collected or prizes awarded. This event would be held solely to raise awareness and would only accept voluntary contributions. I made up a flyer, Joe made some phone calls, and the “Sic Psycles” Road Captain joined in by putting a 100-mile route together. The ride would take the group from the Santa Clarita Elks Parking Lot to the Rock Inn, from there to El Pescador in Filmore and finally to the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas. It was a gamble, and with so little time to advertise, we had no idea how many individuals would participate, but when we called the restaurants and explained what we were doing, all three welcomed the group. So, on Saturday July 6, at 10:30am, motorcycle riders and their passengers left the Elks parking lot for what was a great ride with a great purpose.

I would like to especially thank several of our friends, who were already scheduled to be out of town on that day, and contributed before the ride, while others gave from their heart the day of the event. Even on such short notice, we are sending over $600 to help the families and victims. God bless all of you who took part in this event. Yet, if you missed the ride, remember it is not too late to help those in need, and if you choose to do so, please give me a call at 661-713-9344, or contact “Jarheads MC” directly at JarheadsMCDonations@gmail.com. Any amount you choose to donate will help.

The Foreign Influence of our Election – A Joke on the American People

| Opinion | July 12, 2019

by Rob Werner

Congress is still investigating Russian influence in Donald Trump’s election. It was demanded by Democrats who historically denied such influence. President Obama’s assertion that Russia had not been influencing the election changed after the election. The claim – Russians hacked their party’s computer and provided data to WikiLeaks for release to aid Trump.

Special Counsel Mueller didn’t discover evidence that proves this claim. The FBI did discover that Clinton’s personal computer with classified documents was hacked by the Chinese.

The Chinese make huge investments in influencing our country. They contribute via their surrogates to political campaigns and interest groups. They bought newspaper ads critical of Trump. They’ve spent millions to promote their propaganda at American universities. Maybe they did the hack?

Russia has a long history of influencing our nation and its elections. Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 50’s claimed that our government included agents of the Soviet Union. Agents who influenced policies, public thought and elections.

Criminal prosecutions were commenced against several suspected agents and some were executed for theft of nuclear secrets. Many of the people who went before the House Un-American Activities Committee either denied they were Communists or took the 5th and claimed they were not answering be

cause this was harassment. Many people spoke up for the accused. The press turned against the hearings and the public concluded that Russian influence was overstated. The word, “McCarthyism” was invented with racist-like connotations putting an end to this investigation.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, records from its secret service, the KBG were acquired by a former agent who published the book, “Spies,” by Klehr, Haynes and Vassillev. Turns out, McCarthy underestimated the Communists. The KGB had agents in the State Department, our secret service and numerous other capacities. People who denied they were Communists or agents, were agents. Roosevelt’s primary adviser at Yalta was an agent. Even the primary person representing the U.S. at the creation of the U.N. was an agent.

The KGB also had several agents who were reporters. The book revealed several agents
who had not been discovered.

Even a congressman was an agent. At one point this agent served on an Un-American Activities Committee. The congressman served in the house until 1946 and then became a judge. Many of the KBG agents on leaving the government took teaching positions at colleges.

In a recent release of information from the Kennedy assassination, it was revealed that Oswald had met with the leaders of the American Communist party

including the founder of the American Civil Liberties Union. It was not clear if the party sanctioned the assassination. But the founding of the ACLU, clearly illustrates a means to influence America. It would be a stretch of the imagination to believe that the Soviet Union was interested in our civil liberties.

They were interested in class and racial warfare. Anyone paying attention to the suppression of free speech on campuses should know that the ACLU has a political agenda that does not support civil liberties.

So, what’s the joke in all this?

The joke is on the American people. The Democrats have changed the narrative from all the nastiness, dishonesty and ill deed perpetuated by them as released in WikiLeaks, to “What did Russia or Trump do?”

The Numbing of America: Trump Allegations Treated As Old News

| Opinion | July 4, 2019

by Dick Polman

In a normal universe, a vivid allegation of rape, leveled at a serially misogynist president, would be a news story worthy of 24/7 coverage. Heck, it would even be bigger than the recent feeding frenzy about Joe Biden touching some women’s shoulders.

But naturally, the details offered on Friday by New York writer E. Jean Carroll – that Donald Trump, in his previous incarnation as a real estate hustler, banged her head against a wall and forcibly penetrated her in a department store dressing room – sputtered in the news cycle. It was barely mentioned on the Sunday morning TV shows. It didn’t make the front page of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, or the Chicago Tribune. On Saturday, 164 stories were featured on the New York Times’ online home page, but there were none about Carroll, a well-regarded advice columnist for Elle magazine, who is now the 22nd woman to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct.

That latter fact is crucial. Many Americans – or, more precisely, many in the media – are so benumbed by Trump, so fatigued by the daily evidence of his amorality, that even the freshest, most sickening accusation is treated as “old” news.

But Carroll’s allegation, featured in a new book (confirmed by two Carroll friends who were told of the incident at the time) – and, most importantly, Trump’s response to her allegation – warrants major coverage, because this story, when placed in its proper context, tells the tragic truth about the numbing of America.

Here’s context: Jill Harth, Kristin Anderson, Lisa Boyne, Temple Taggart, Mariah Billado, Cathy Heller, Karina Virginia, Natasha Stoynoff, Rachel Crooks, Mindy McGillivray, Jennifer Murphy, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Cassandra Searles, Alva Johnson, Juliet Huddy, Jessica Leeds. Those are just some of the women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. That list does not include the beauty pageant women who said that Trump barged into their dressing rooms. He has assailed all these women as liars. In 2016, he threatened to retaliate by suing them, but never did. He claimed that some were getting paid to smear him, but never tried to prove it.

This context makes Carroll’s story more important, not less. It’s arguably the most serious accusation of all, because it’s about rape, not groping. Conservative attorney George Conway (husband of Kellyanne) points out: “Carroll’s account is supported by the sheer number of claims that have now surfaced against Trump – claims in which women have accused Trump of engaging in unwelcome or forcible sexual conduct or assault against them.” Indeed, Conway writes, “what Trump described in the (Hollywood Access) video is exactly what Carroll says he did to her.”

Fortunately, Trump has done his best to feed the sputtering news cycle by lying anew. When he denied the rape allegation, he said: “I’ve never met this person in my life…I have no idea who this woman is.” Which was amusing to hear, because Carroll’s article, posted on the New York magazine’s website, includes a photo that shows Trump talking with Carroll at a party.

He also resurrected one of his golden oldies: “There were numerous cases where women were paid money to say bad things about me. You can’t do that. You can’t do that, and those women did wrong things, that women were actually paid money to say bad things about me.” He has never offered a scintilla of evidence that any women were paid to say bad things.

He also claimed that Carroll concocted a fiction “to sell a new book.” Actually, that’s what he did, via his ghostwriter, when he concocted the fiction that he was a business genius. That’s his sole frame of reference. He thinks that everyone else is just like him – blatantly lying for the sole purpose of hyping themselves.

Will this rape allegation move the public opinion needle? Of course not.

But that doesn’t mean this story should slide into the void. It’s too important. It shows how numb we’ve become. It exposes anew the hypocrisy of the Republicans and evangelical leaders who have greeted the story with silence – the same people who once championed “character” and “morality” in our highest office. And it shows, once again, that more than 40 percent of the electorate will reject any and all accusations, not matter how serious, because they perceive that Trump alone is the font of truth.

If this story, placed in its broader context, is allowed to fade away, this nation will have forfeited another slice of its soul.

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

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at WHYY in Philadelphia and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.

The Brilliance of Kushner’s New Middle East Peace Plan

| Opinion | July 4, 2019

Jared Kushner’s new plan for peace in the Middle East was revealed last week, after his meeting in Bahrain with investors from around the world and leaders from the region. While the people who have been pretending to pursue peace in the region for so long are doing all they can to naysay the plan, Kushner seems to understand better than they on what truly drives peace.

As we’ve come to learn from President Trump’s successes so far, it seems nearly all of our global arrangements have been done by politicians looking for sound bytes and polling points rather than a true, lasting path to success for the USA. It’s amazing what can happen when someone outside of that mindset gets to work on making actual change.

If you don’t understand the USA’s geopolitical strategy in funding around the world, I can sum it up in one simple word: stability.

Before my time in Special Forces, I had a hard time understanding why in the world the USA would spend so many billions of dollars giving money to places in Africa, the Middle East and Central America.

But as has been said many times by people who understand what is needed and are truly trying to make a difference, peace in any nation boils down to three simple metrics: education, economics and agriculture.

If you look around the world at the hotspots of extremism, terrorism and fanatacism, a few glaring similiarities quickly surface. Each location that births the worst terrorists and highest levels of terrorism is in extreme poverty, has abysmal literacy rates and virtually no economy of its own, outside of aid from other governments.

If you’re familiar with the verse “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life,” you understand the basic principle. But unfortunately many of our policies pre-Trump focused on the former, rather than the latter.

We found while fighting in Afghanistan & Iraq that a large number of the fighters emplacing IEDs and ambushes for NATO troops weren’t in fact zealots who hated America, they were merely men with no way to feed their families who were paid to attack our forces.

Furthermore, one of the largest paths to radicalization we found were via madrassas, Islamic religious schools that took in disadvantaged children with the promise of food, a bed and a path to literacy by reciting the Quran dozens of times a day.

Much like gangs in the United States, many of these madrassas would identify the most easily brainwashed of the children and separate them from the rest, focusing their future training on terrorism rather than religious studies.

If we can break that cycle, where children actually have food in their bellies and aren’t forced to go to indoctrination centers for meals and a chance to learn to read, Kushner’s can succeed where many other plans have not.

Along with these paths to indoctrination, in a failed state such as Somalia or Afghanistan you have more than merely a steady supply of would-be foot soldiers. You also have places where it is extremely easy to go “off the grid” and set up a terrorism training center in the desert.

If there are any police, they are easily bribed to stay away from your location due to the government’s lacking funds and likelihood of not being able to pay the police well (or with any regularity).

Furthermore, the articles from the normal crowd of anti-Trumpers (NYT, Mother Jones, Vice, etc) focus on the fact that many of Palestine’s current leaders do not support the plan. And of course they don’t – if Palestine actually finds peace these leaders chosen for their wartime posture will no longer be needed and will be out of a job.

And, of course, they likely remember the $221 million given to them by Obama on his last days in office, and are hoping for another Obama-like candidate in 2020 who will fund their terrorism rather than seek a way to end it altogher.

Kushner understands that his $50 billion investment plan for Palestine has the potential to cut off the supply of young minds to be indoctrinated, and most of his foes seem to be against his plan for one simple reason.

Much like the Democrats so viciously attacking Trump’s successes, they understand that if Kushner actually succeeds, it will show the world just how little they know and how little they’ve done to fight these issues over the decades we’ve been funding and supporting them.

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

July 4, 1776

| Opinion | July 3, 2019

We recently celebrated the 243rd anniversary of the signing of our nation’s founding document The Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson’s inspired document calling for the separation of the United States from Great Britain quite literally changed the world.

Jefferson wrote that our rights do not come from the state but rather a higher power. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Our government defined what the state may not do to the individual. Jefferson went on to list the violations of our rights by the Crown.

The document closed with:

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

The signers were not just a bunch of old rich white slave owners. They knew what they were about to face. Benjamin Franklin famously cajoled them to sign by saying “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Thanks to a posting by Michael Smith:

“Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the revolutionary war.

What kind of men were they? About 24 were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants; nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers, or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

These were the people that built Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill.”

We are desecrating their memory by our passive acceptance of the Marxism/Socialism being thrust upon us. We must remember President Reagan’s words:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Detained Children Are Being Used As Political Pawns

| Opinion | July 3, 2019

by Christine Flowers

When faced with two women who each claimed to be the mother of the same child, King Solomon announced that he would slice the child in two and give half to each claimant.

One woman was pleased. The other wailed in sorrow, and begged the king to give the child to her opponent.

Solomon immediately understood that the woman who wanted to save the child even though it meant she’d lose him was the true mother.

There are no Solomons among us today. Children are once again being used as pawns and commodities in our national immigration debate, and the adults are fighting to gain philosophical and political advantage at their expense. The battles are waged on social media, on the pages of our national and local newspapers, in our homes and, most regrettably, in the halls of Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls the detention centers which hold immigrant children “concentration camps,” evoking the ghosts of millions of dead Jews, and she is rightly criticized by all decent people for that manipulation of history and language. While the literal term “concentration camp” could be stretched to include a facility where people are not able to leave and are held in temporary housing until their legal status is established, the congresswoman’s intention was to equate what is going on at the border with Nazi death camps. This was not lost on the United States Holocaust Museum, whose spokesperson noted that it “unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.”

But the fact remains that children are being held in places where they are not getting enough food, water, clean clothing, blankets, hygienic items and – most importantly – contact with caring humans.

President Trump points to the fact that his predecessor was the one who initiated a program that separated children from their parents, which is technically true. But when you dig a little deeper, you realize that Obama’s plan was sporadic, while the Trump administration made a sustained policy decision to separate families as a disincentive to cross the border.

Congress dithers about solving the crisis at the border, with one side insisting on pouring money into a wall and refusing to engage in good-faith solutions for legalization, while the other side calls their opponents racists, evoking imagery of Nazi camps. And then, when the House finally reaches a consensus about funding to provide the detained children with the necessities we regularly give to prisoners and accused terrorists at Guantanamo, only a handful of Republicans voted in favor of the bill because the package didn’t include anything for border security. Then late Thursday, the Senate’s version of the bill was signed onto by a reluctant Nancy Pelosi, guaranteeing that some money and support will reach the children.

And this is where I realize that neither side in this debate has any incentive to find a solution to the crisis that is ripping this country to shreds.

This controversy is deep and wide and burning, echoing the rift our ancestors confronted over slavery, and it is already leaving scars that will not fade even with the therapeutic balm of legislation and reconciliation. The detained children are the canaries in the coal mine of our national morality, and seeing them in this sustained state of crisis and neglect says some troubling things about who we are content to be.

It is fair to worry about the larger, overarching policy issues when discussing immigration. But this moment is not about partisanship. Our recent historical past shows that there is enough blame to go around. And when we start pointing fingers at one side and give the other a pass, the immigrants are the ones who end up suffering.

There should be no question that a country that turns its back on children for political gamesmanship is not the type of country any of us should be proud to call our own.

Copyright 2019 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

Always Advocating Alan – Celebrating the Fourth of July and Baby’s Birthday While Helping Those in Need

| Opinion | July 3, 2019

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a youngster growing up in Brooklyn, it was a time when I was ready to view the holiday parade coming down Ocean Parkway. When the last float passed by, I would go up to the solarium on the roof of our apartment building to witness a giant firework display over the ocean. Then after moving to the west coast, growing up and having children of my own, the Fourth of July became a ritual of boating trips to the Colorado River, water skiing, barbeques, and a fun-filled holiday weekend.

But through it all, while our family had a great time, something seemed to be missing. So, thinking about the meaning of Independence Day, I started taking the Fourth of July Holiday a bit more seriously by attending (and more often participating) in Santa Clarita’s Independence Day Parade in Newhall.

Looking back in time, I believe my vision on how to celebrate Independence Day matured in 2006. I had just retired and decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and ride to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day with the Vietnam Veterans, my wife and our two riding buddies. Motoring through the heartland of America and seeing the patriotism displayed by residents all across our great country made me stop and think about how I had been celebrating some of the most important days of the year.

Independence Day should not be just about barbeques, boating and parties; it should also be a time to reflect on the vision set forth by our Founding Fathers. We need to remember how fortunate we are to be Americans, and plan what we will need to do to assure our children will have the same freedom and benefits we enjoy, so they can pass them on to their children as well.

We must always remember how the lives of American citizens have been continually improved because of the words written in the United States Declaration of Independence, which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” We should also acknowledge how the citizenry of those times put themselves in harm’s way to establish a country with a vision like no other on the planet, and how each generation thereafter has joined in, when needed, to preserve our republic.

Today, I hear some people talk about when and where the United States has been involved in activities they do not believe is just or right. To them I say that our country is a work in progress, and while it is still not perfect, over my lifetime I have witnessed reduced discrimination of all forms, technology improving our daily lives in many different ways, and the implementation of instantaneous worldwide open communications.

Information is now disseminated in a manner where it has become very difficult to hide wrongdoing from the world’s population. I am optimistic we can continue down the right path if we remain able to speak our minds, hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, and continually look for ways for the country to improve. George Washington summed it up over 200 years ago by saying, “Your love of liberty, your respect for the laws, your habits of industry, and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.” It is therefore most important to emulate our Founding Fathers and never give up our quest for freedom.

Now, I am not suggesting we get so serious that we cast aside any fun and good times that come with a celebration. This year on July 4, I will again be riding on the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center float, where our own “Dorothy Dixon Duck” will be “splishing and splashing in her bath” while reading a newspaper to commemorate the 1st Amendment, which provides our country with freedom of the press.

In addition, a little humor does not hurt either. So, I will not forget to bring my 7-pound, white, long haired, floppy eared, tail wagging family member named Baby, to the parade. Born on Independence Day in 2005, she will turn 98, (in dog years), and I will again enable her to view all those out to celebrate her birthday.

But this year, there is also a very serious situation in the news. On Friday, June 21, Jarheads MC, a group of active duty or honorably discharged Marines, FMF Corpsman and family members in New Hampshire were on their way to a charity fundraiser at a local American Legion Post, when a pickup truck towing a car trailer swerved onto the wrong side of the road directly into the group of motorcycle riders. Seven members of the group were killed and several more were severely injured.

It is very troubling for me to realize that men and women who volunteered to put their life on the line to defend our country would end up in heaven as a result of a senseless violent incident, right here at home. Gone from this life are Michael Ferazzi (Contoocook), Albert Mazza (Lee), Daniel Pereira (Riverside, RI), Jo-Ann and Edward Corr (Lakeville, MA), Desma Oakes (Concord), and Aaron Perry (Farmington). How sad that such a tragedy occurred.

As I am sure you might imagine, the families of those killed and injured need help. Jarheads MC set up a Go Fund Me page and there are several fundraisers being set up across the country. I am proud to reveal how Santa Clarita will be participating in helping those in need.

On Saturday July 6, A Memorial Ride will take place starting at the Santa Clarita Elks Lodge Parking lot, 17766 Sierra Highway, in Canyon Country. A meet-up will start a 9 a.m., riders and drivers Meeting at 10 a.m., with kickstands up and e-brakes off at 10:30 a.m. There will be no “Ride Fee” charged, standard donation collected, or prizes awarded. This event is being held solely to raise awareness and accept voluntary contributions to be sent directly to the victims and their families. Plus, you do not need to ride a motorcycle to join in, and you can choose how far to ride, or drive, with the group.

I hope to see you at the Fourth of July Parade in Newhall and the Memorial Ride on July 6. Join me in celebrating Independence Day by saluting the flag, right here in the land of the free and home of the brave.

Raging Moderate – A Rash of Lies

| Opinion | June 28, 2019

by Will Durst

President Trump has been called many things. A short-fingered vulgarian. Mister Misdirection. The Cheater-in-Chief. Vlad’s ventriloquist dummy. Boss Tweet. Herr Gropenfuhrer. The Oval Office Oompa Loompa. But the most apropos moniker to throw at him is, the King of Lies.

According to the Washington Post, the former New York City real estate developer is closing in on 11,000 lies since taking the Oath of Office. Which occurred approximately 900 days ago, averaging out to a bit more than 12 lies a day. And that’s in public. We have no idea how many lies he tosses towards staff or family or himself.

And yes indeed, you are correct, sir: ”liar” is so pejorative. Let’s call him a serial fibber. A fabricator. Deceiver. Falsifier. Prevaricator. Pseudologist. But whatever you call it, Donald Trump is the undisputed heavyweight champion of lying. Holds the Guinness Book World Record for making stuff up. Orange-man speak with forked tongue.

Some lies are political, ie; claiming he was against the Iraqi War when multiple examples of him saying the opposite exist. Some lies are just to pump the brand such as when he said the head of the Boy Scouts called to say he gave the best speech ever at a national gathering, something the Head Scout said never happened. Some lies are pure animal instinct. To maintain and move on. Going to release his tax returns after his audit. Longest… audit… ever.

Others are inexplicable. What reason would he have to say his father was born in Germany when the man was born in New York? Nobody cares. But he keeps saying it. Perhaps simply a little self-delusion to reinforce his love of sauerkraut?

He lies and then he lies about lying and then he lies about lying about lying. Even if he said he were lying, he’d be lying. Which is metaphysically difficult. He lies to the press and then believes what he reads. Since it’s him being quoted, it must be true.

He lies because it is his nature. He lies because he’s good at it. He lies to stay in practice. He lies to keep opponents off balance. He lies because he is never held accountable or forced to suffer a consequence by either the Republican Party or his base. He lies because he can.

If ever caught in a lie, he just denies it. Even though there’s tape of him saying it out loud. In a press conference after Helsinki he said he didn’t see any reason why Vladimir Putin would interfere in our elections and after everyone, including his own staff, flipped out, he said, what he meant to say was, “he didn’t know why he wouldn’t have,” which doesn’t make any sense.

In a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos he said he didn’t see anything wrong with accepting dirt on opponents from foreign powers and that he would do it again. The very day after the interview aired, he said he never said that.

The man is responsible for more bad lies than all of his golf courses put together after a month-long strike by the groundskeepers. He goes so far beyond pathological liar, psychologists are going to name a new condition after him. Karma mandates it be something that comes with a nasty rash.

Copyright 2019, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate.

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, “Durst Case Scenario,” please visit willdurst.com.

Obamacare and You 2014/2015

| Opinion | June 28, 2019

by Jim Lentini

At the end of 2014, there was an article in The Signal that was a recap of Obamacare, and it discussed comments from local providers and doctors regarding what healthcare under Covered California meant to us locally.

When Obama created this law in March of 2008, he said the insurance companies were making too much money, building big buildings, and it was time for all Americans to have “affordable” health insurance. Most of us who represent the healthcare industry didn’t agree with his evaluation and realized he did not understand the industry he was “changing.” Or he did, and was following his agenda as instructed by those who wanted a different order and control of our economy and services by government. This is proven by the events, costs, and mistakes by those who are implementing the “Affordable Care Act” or ACA.

First, health insurance companies are mandated by federal and state law to make a profit to remain solvent to pay future claims. Health care rates are controlled by the State Insurance Commissioner and require any insurance company that needs to raise rates on a block of business must first prove there is a loss ratio of at least 80 percent or better of premiums collected. That means that an insurance company has to operate on 20 percent gross profit, pay all of its overhead, pay commissions, and make a profit of 3-5 percent required by federal mandate to remain viable and able to meet future claims. This has not changed in 100 years!

To the best of my knowledge, and with 55 years of experience in financial planning and insurance, there is no private company on earth that can function and work for such a minimal gross profit other than the insurance industry, which is overseen by the state and federal government. So, the question is, why would the government want to take over an industry that affects all Americans and is 1/6 of our present economy? Obama’s camp blames insurance companies for the mess, but why has a buddy of Michelle Obama, a Canadian, received the contract for the website that doesn’t work and paid him over 600 million of our taxpayer dollars, when an American group in Silicon Valley said it could be done for 1 million and would work? And, it would be secure!

Since 1993, here in California we have had AB1672 that guarantees anyone who is turned down for health insurance can obtain coverage guaranteed through the MRMIP (Major Risk Medical Insurance Plan) program underwritten by most of the insurance companies licensed to do business in California. Now, today, we see government and leadership not addressing the healthcare issues properly and now admitting to making mistakes, and lying to the American people! Americans who pay for their insurance and pay taxes are assured of increases in premiums and reduction of benefits and tax increases like never before!

And, now Obama is making changes to the law, 14 to date within last 4 months, which may be illegal. The cost of “The Affordable Care Act” is going to be far greater for all Americans whether coverage is provided by an employer’s group or an individual plan. Both employers and individuals will pay more for their coverage and benefits, and services are going to be reduced! So, what is really the meaning of the title, “Affordable Care Act”?

As a certified agent to help guide our agency clients that are required to make changes on their healthcare coverage, I have helped two or three individuals that had medical issues that the subsidy and guarantee issue through Covered California is a benefit for them. But, that is only two out of over 1000 clients, just the tip of the iceberg, and benefits only a few individuals not covered by an employers group. Remember, it wasn’t the tip of the iceberg, but the iceberg under the surface that sank the Titanic.

And now the latest news as of May 2015, we have major medical providers not accepting any insurance plan written under the ACA rules for Healthcare. And, when full implementation of Obamacare was done in 2016, the first thing done was to charge insurance companies 30 percent of their gross profit to cover the added cost of unnecessary more government regulation, reducing gross profit to 14 percent. This resulted in agents receiving 90 percent less commission and working five times more helping insureds to deal with unnecessary and excessive communication and paperwork. Plus, all insureds who are taxpayers and pay for their health insurance are now paying more than 300 percent more and receiving less benefits than before Obamacare. And, providers both doctors and hospitals have more paperwork and receive less benefits. Send a thank you to Obama!

Pray that we get corrected leadership that benefits the American way of life, and those of us who pay for healthcare.

Have a good day!

Officially Old

| Opinion | June 27, 2019

by Harry Parmenter

“Call me Damien,” I thought I heard him say. Young, lanky cheeks that looked like they had felt the rough caress of the wind exploring the watery part of the world; a toiler on the sea, perhaps, chasing the elusive white whale.

“May I take your order, sir?”

Of course he wasn’t a sailor, you Barnacle Boob, I told myself. Somehow thoughts of Melville’s “Moby Dick” had momentarily clouded my sinking ship of a brain. He tugged at the bill of his Abel’s Bagels cap. “Sir?”

I mumbled something about how much cheese the parmesan mayo on the Breakfast BLT contained. He leaned forward, trying to catch my drift. His supervisor, an older guy at the next register, mercifully intervened. “Just hit ‘light mayo,’ Damien.”

I paid cash, took my receipt and backed away into the thick Saturday morning crowd. What kind of a stupid question was that, Parmenter? Clearly I was about to lapse into a coma, senility or both. Maybe I’d been thrown off my game after parking in an empty corner of the parking lot only to be accosted as soon as I got out of my car by a Hispanic guy asking for money for some L.A. homeless church.

I mean, I JUST GOT OUT OF THE CAR. Is there no escape? For instance, I seldom go to Whole Foods but every time there’s that same guy in the red and white Sgt. Pepper outfit offering a warm greeting, laser guilt eye contact and the inevitable solicitation. People with money go to Whole Foods ergo they will feel bad and cough up coin on the way in or out. Given that I think I’m the only guy who pays cash in there Billy Shears can’t be having a lot of luck unless it’s Christmas time and people are contractually obligated to be in a charitable mood.

Come to think of it I hadn’t actually GOTTEN out of my car, having just swung my feet onto the concrete and this guy’s on me like brown on rice. Look, I’m a nice guy. Forty years ago my buddy and I rolled out of the Vista Theatre at Sunset & Hollywood one midnight summer eve and were approached by a man with his wife and family, three or four kids, penniless but dignified, not begging, clearly Latin American refugees, probably illegal in retrospect. We crammed them into my car and took them deep into the 1981 Valley where, after an odyssey of wrong turns and dead ends, we dropped them off at their shadowy destination.

Now, however, I have my own dependents, my own problem child and have learned a lot about the homeless addict epidemic which is more about drug treatment than a free place to crash. I gave church man a succinct summary of my situation and proceeded to destination bagel.

So I’m standing there waiting for Abel to raise cane with the parmesan mayo and I glance at the receipt Damien handed me and there…it…is: “Senior Discount -0.66.”

SENIOR DISCOUNT!

Despite possessing the same teenage wasteland attitude I’ve had since I was 15, I am 60 years old. But I take care of myself. I go to the boring gym. I do hot yoga. I eat healthy. I avoid fried food since it “angries up the blood” as sage Satchel Paige put it. Still, I was a punk before you were a punk. I am NOT a senior discount.

I eyed Damien from across the restaurant. Couldn’t be more than 22. Has never heard of “Moby Dick” let alone read it, is unfamiliar with the quest for the white whale nor its metaphor; hell, he probably doesn’t even know what a metaphor is if he went to California schools (no offense, Damien), but he sure knows an old man when he sees one: ME! A senior citizen getting a senior discount with his sagging senior face and inane senior question about parmesan senior mayo!

I ducked into the men’s room to see what he had seen. Ok, my (full!) head of hair had yet to field a brush that morning, thus inheriting a trapezoidal slant from the night’s sleep, the bags under my eyes could potentially exceed the airline weight limit while my general visage was in the same zip code as Nick Nolte’s mug shot but hardly identical. Looking in the mirror I personally saw more Dorian Gray than senior discount.

So what’s the big deal? You’re 60, what do you expect? AND you saved 66 cents.
The issue, my fellow Americans, is this: I have no problem asking for a senior discount at Denny’s (although I always forget to, another sign the end is near, let alone the check) or the movies (Ooh, fifty cents off!), if it is ME doing the asking, ME admitting I am officially old, ME, Senor Senior. And when I do I secretly want Denny’s/Regal cashier person to look at me kindly and say, “Oh, Mr. Parmenter, you don’t look a day over 50.” This bagel debacle was the first time some one had looked at me and thought: old person slash senior discount. The young whippersnapper probably hadn’t read The Great Gatsby or The Last of the Mohicans either but who cares? What matters is he sized me up at a glance and thought, what, 55? 60? 65???!!! I bet Cain actually killed Abel over a senior discount.

Returning to my car with, thankfully, no sign of Mr. Help the Homeless, I immediately drove to a batting cage and hit a hundred fastballs at 60 mph (I got the senior discount from 65 mph). I hit one line drive after another (well, I whiffed a few) and it felt good, darn good.

“The Beginning of the End” by Eddie and the Hot Rods has taken on a whole new meaning now. A clean cut, hard working kid named Damien has broken the seal on my old manhood. Damien. The name of the satanic child in “The Omen,” who, among other playful acts, guillotines the great David Warner with a flying sheath of glass. Decapitated like the Headless Horseman who, despite being vanquished by Ichabod Crane, never suffered the unkindest cut of all: the senior discount.

‘I’m in America Again!’

| Opinion | June 27, 2019

I recently went to an event for homeschooling at a convention center in Ontario. For years I heard about the home school phenomenon and looked at it somewhat askance. Like most, I was full of misconceptions about the parents and the academic achievements of their children/students.

Faced with an unknown, the imagination tends to run wild.

The children must be raised to be antisocial. The parents are libertarian anarchist, stockpiling food and guns for the coming apocalypse. The parents/teachers must be either brilliant or do not understand how dumb they are. The parents are rich in order to hire tutors and be away from their work. Clearly it is impossible for home teaching to compare with classes being taught by full-time professional unionized teachers. They do not have access to quality curriculum and teaching materials or would know how to use it if they had it. They hang out in their own secret communities. No one can be expert on everything so parents cannot do a good job educating their children. The parents must be antisocial.

As it turns out, the previous statements are wrong on nearly every account. Since homeschooled students lack the distractions that public school students experience, their study time tends to be more intense and efficient, leaving extended time for social and extracurricular activities. Home-schooling parents tend to be super soccer moms with an intense list of activities scheduled for their kids/students. Home-school parents find ways to work together and share resources. The Home School Association of California offers several services and advice for parents who are interested in removing their children from the foibles of public education. You may also wish to check out Home School Legal Defense.

For parents of faith, there is Christian Home Educators Association of California.

I went to the convention with a home school mom and a Libertarian-leaning friend who knew nothing about home schooling but was considering offering some internet-based classes. Home school mom was the proverbial kid in the candy store, drooling over all the books and services being offered for the home school community. It was a sea of books and study guides. Many were offering classical education material and methodologies. Also tutors, tutor training, internet classes, and charter schools offering special services for the homeschooler. My Libertarian friend came early to see some presentations and lectures. She came to us in tears proclaiming, “I’m in America again!”

School Districts remain very suspicious of home schooling and will challenge the parents. When tested home school children are usually two to four years ahead in academic achievement compared to students of the same age in public school. It is common to find 15 to 18-year-old home schoolers taking classes in the neighborhood community college. With increased parental supervision, home-school kids are well behaved, been instilled with good values, are fascinated by the world around them and can-do things other than Nintendo and being masters of social media.

Mothers and fathers of home school kids understand that the greatest responsibility parents have is raising their children well. They took the trouble to examine how and what their children were being taught in the public schools and were shocked. Educational priorities seemed to have shifted from giving our children the tools they needed to manage their own affairs to social engineering, resulting in students being dumbed down.

“Where the people fear the government, you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people, you have liberty.” -John B Barnhill (1914)

Liberty is in the DNA of the home school movement. I fear tyranny is the province of public education.

Always Advocating Alan – Homelessness, Addiction and the Future

| Opinion | June 27, 2019

Last week, I wrote about my good fortune of being invited by the Sheriff’s Foundation to tour the SCV Sheriff’s station. For me, a highlight of the evening was receiving a presentation by the J-Team, a group of officers primarily fighting juvenile drug addiction. These officers showed their deep concern for all the addicted individuals who they were trying to help get sober by sharing commentaries about their efforts. While I commend the deputies involved in this endeavor for their ability to continue the battle they face in addressing this seemingly insurmountable problem, I was extremely saddened to hear that major drug addiction problems were now being felt at the grammar school level. I shook my head, thinking, here we are, 33 years after Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, establishing mandatory prison sentences for some drug offenses, and I realized even though we are long into the “War On Drugs,” the problem just continues to worsen.

I’m sure you have heard the time weary quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but it seems to be a very insightful statement. Unfortunately, our elected officials appear to only have one answer for every problem. If they decide there is something that they do not want the public to do, they pass a new law saying don’t do it, or there will be a punishment applied. Then, when the old law doesn’t seem to be accomplishing what they intended, they pass another law making the punishment more severe, and as the elected officials brag about what they have done, the problem just lingers on.

But with drugs, it was not always seen as the problem it is today. There was a period in the 1800s when bottles of Laudanum (an opium derivative), was available for anyone to purchase at the General Store. You might remember watching “The Shootist” starring John Wayne. In this story, the hero was dying of cancer, and when his doctor prescribed Laudanum, he asked: “How will I know when to take it and how much to take?” I chuckled when his doctor told him innocently, “You’ll know!” At that point in history, marketing drugs to the public was everywhere, and during the 1890s even the Sears Catalog offered a syringe and a measured amount of Cocaine for $1.50. But, then again, there was a dark side. If you watched the movie “Tombstone,” you probably remember Wyatt Earp’s first wife using Laudanum to combat her migraine headaches, and her subsequently dying of an overdose.

What changed around the start of the 20th century was the public’s concern about a large segment of the population becoming addicted and thereby losing their ability to be productive members of society. So, the lawmakers of the time took up the gauntlet using the only tools at their disposal, and started creating laws prohibiting drug sales and recreational use. But here is the big rub. Laws are only effective when the general public accepts them, and the best example of a law being resisted by the public was the 18th amendment to our constitution, a nationwide ban on the production, importation, transportation, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages, known at the time as “Prohibition.”

Brought to you on the silver screen have been many western movies, which all seemed to include saloon-inspired alcoholism, violence, and corruption. Even my favorite old TV western, “Gunsmoke,” seemed to center on the “Long Branch Saloon” with Doc, Festus, Matt and Kitty regularly meeting for a drink. So, to combat the perceived problem, the Anti-Saloon League, social progressives, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union created a massive campaign to end the evils of alcohol” culminating in 1920 with the passage of the 18th U.S. Constitutional Amendment, thereby outlawing the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the United States.

From one perspective the “Prohibition” law was fairly successful. Alcohol consumption during Prohibition was estimated to have been reduced by 50 percent, but the unintended consequences proved the cure to be worse than the cold. Making something illegal which the general population did not want to give up created a large black market for alcoholic beverages, a boom to the moonshine market, with some making their own bathtub mixtures, while other products were being smuggled into the country. It was a time which saw the rise of the mafia, speakeasies (illegal bars) and crime rising to a level never before witnessed. Because of all the negative aspects, as a social experiment, Prohibition lost supporters every year. Finally, the country had had enough, and in 1933 the 21st U.S. Constitutional Amendment was passed repealing the 18th and Prohibition was no more.

Today, in some ways, I see a parallel related to illegal drug use and the Prohibition era. The sale and use of illegal drugs have put large amounts of money in the Mexican Drug Cartel’s pockets and has created a network of drug smuggling and sales crisscrossing our entire country. Drug dealers are looking to make customers out of our children, and young adults by giving away free samples, along with Hollywood glamorizing the effects of recreational drug use. There seems to be so much money involved, no amount of new laws prohibiting the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs alone will stem the tide. Plus, it is not just about our youth. Personally, I watched my children’s godparents lose it all. They had a beautiful house in the San Fernando Valley. He owned a trucking company and she was a nurse at Kaiser. After discovering cocaine, they used every penny they could lay their hands on to buy drugs, and ended up living on the street, until the Lord took them home. It was sad to watch, and no matter what my wife and I tried to help them get clean, their addiction won out. Recently I read an article describing the homeless population as exhibiting an 80 percent addiction rate, and even if that number is overblown, it appears the number of addicted homeless individuals is huge. We need to stop pretending the major homeless problem can be fixed by just creating affordable housing, because addicts will spend all they have on drugs, and are not the least bit concerned when there is nothing left to pay rent.

Now, I am not advocating we simply decriminalize recreational drug use, but I am saying we need to implement a solution which takes the drug traffickers profits away, and thereby eliminates the practice of targeting children as new drug customers. In addition, prescription drugs (opioids) need to be used and provided more sparingly. The alternative is to continue what we are doing by passing more laws prohibiting illegal drug manufacturing, transportation, sales and use, spend more money to fund law enforcement, and fill up our jails. All while the problem continues to get worse.

We should seriously consider Don Wilson’s words: “As a people, we are not very good students of history; we keep repeating the same mistakes at dreadful costs.”

As a country, we must change the way we approach the drug problem, or if we continue down the same tired old road, it will end up as Robert Fuller said: “I have seen the future and it doesn’t work.”

The Push for Socialism: Another Chernobyl in the Making

| Opinion | June 27, 2019

Nearly three decades after the end of the Cold War we are seeing a resurgence of a virus which we thought had been eradicated from the west.

Many misguided youth, led by tenured professors and pandering politicians who have never worked a day outside of classrooms are of the mind that capitalism is a threat, and socialism would cure all of society’s ills.

The fact that none of our most life-changing achievements, ideas or technology have come from socialists, yet nearly every single one has come from capitalists should be enough proof.

But apparently the fact that they have iPhones, high-speed wifi and have never had to wait in a breadline isn’t enough for them.

But what is the difference between communism, socialism and capitalism?

At its core, communism means the state controls everything, owns everything, and makes all decisions. As we see in China, there is no private industry; everything is, at least by a majority, owned by the state.

In socialism, the state controls the means of production. That may not sound like much, and while its peddlers will try to tell you that means that “power goes to the workers,” the opposite is true, and the people soon realize they have no voice.

It is peculiar that many of those pushing this diseased breath of socialism back into western society are highly educated, yet cannot see the many proofs we have throughout history that every society which has implemented socialism or communism has led to their own decay.

The new social merit system implemented in China shows just how far this can go.

Bureaucrats destroy industries by controlling those in which they have no experience, and are given top positions via family connections or proof of loyalty to the state rather than merit.

The fall of Venezuela from the richest nation in South America to a place where people murder pets for food is a recent proof of how this turns out. How did they fall so far?

Implementation of socialism, a dictator, and appointment of military generals with no experience in the oil industry to lead their most valuable resource, who totally destroyed that industry for them in only a few years.

I’ve been watching the Chernobyl series on HBO, and as our educated youth and pandering politicians can’t seem to learn these horrible lessons from history, perhaps this entertainment-based view of just how bad it can get will serve to wake them up.

The show, at its core, helps to highlight the most important part of how any big government state apparatus run by bureaucrats can destroy a society.

As happened with the catastrophe at Chernobyl, the implementation of communism or socialism always leads to terrible consequences, because of the easily corruptible people put in charge and perverse incentive structure for those in power to remain there.

By putting people in charge with no merit or experience, there is always a disaster in the waiting.

In a capitalist society, not only are people rewarded for hard work, but we learn from our mistakes to make the next version better. In a communist or socialist society, mistakes must be covered up to protect the image of the state, lest people realize the bureaucrats put in control don’t know what they’re doing.

Rather than learn from mistakes, they prosecute a scapegoat that likely had nothing to do with the disaster they caused and wait for the next one to happen.

The USA is considered the land of opportunity because people are allowed to control their own destiny. If you work harder than others, innovate or do something exceptional, you may be handsomely rewarded. On the flip-side, if you choose not to work hard, make mistakes or prove inept at your job, you may be cast aside for someone who can do the job.

Beware of the current slate of politicians promising everything for free and to return “power to the people.” The only people who become wealthy in a socialist society are those diabolically cunning enough to fool their society into accepting it.

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

Not Feeling the Fireworks? Swipe Left on Your Neighbors

| Opinion | June 27, 2019

Here in the City of Santa Clarita, we’re gearing up for the heat of the summer – but we aren’t really ready for the flames. If your neighbors are anything close to being literally “smoking hot,” the city has launched an app to ward off any red hot business with some boys in blue.

We sure do love a good, patriotic time here in L.A.’s sister city, but nothing says “patriotism” like calling the 5-0. Working in conjunction with the famous dating app Tinder, residents can now report their neighbors’ illegal firework activities with the swipe of a tattling finger.

Ooh, la la! Betty? Yes. Ursula? Yes please. Fourth of July sparklers deemed “safe and legal”? See you in prison! The app comes with a “predictive” mapping algorithm, narrowing down ne’er-do-wells so you can tattle safely – all night long.

We know how you like to get together with your friends and spill nitty-gritty, incident-specific details. Why stop with your friends? Share sweet nothings with the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department and let your peers snuggle up to the consequences of their own selfish actions.

The new offshoot of Tinder has all of the conveniences of other dating apps; instant communication, simple navigation, and location sharing for an immediate response from law enforcement. Thanks to GPS, officers are able to target those sweet spots which they can “cite” for sore eyes.

What are you waiting for? Download the app today and help the Los Angeles Sheriffs get acquainted with your neighborhood bad boys.

I’d Trade 23 Candidates for One Sure Winner

| Opinion | June 21, 2019

By Peter Funt

Is the bulging field of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination a sign of strength? Or is it a troubling indication that wresting the presidency from Donald Trump won’t be as easy as it ought to be?

At last count there were 23 “major” candidates including seven senators, four members of Congress, three mayors, two governors and a clutch of other hopefuls. The field has something for everyone: young, old, male, female, black, white, Latino, Asian, gay and straight. They have robust resumes, promising platforms and meaningful messages. And, believe it or not, there are 142 other Democrats who have filed as presidential candidates with the Federal Elections Commission, among them 89-year-old Mike Gravel, the former senator from Alaska. So what’s the problem? Some Democrats think the field is too large, even for this early stage. In Iowa, where the actual process of selecting a nominee begins for real with the caucus Feb. 3, three out of four Democrats planning to participate believe some candidates should drop out now, according to polling by the Des Moines Register.

As I see it, only three – Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – have a real chance at the nomination. Five others – Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke – have long-shot status. The rest are just sucking up oxygen.

This wouldn’t be so bad if one of the three top candidates had the “it” factor of Barack Obama. Yes, Hillary Clinton was loved by her supporters in 2016, but she was widely disliked as well. Her only real challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, faced the same love-him or hate-him division. And the others? A dollar says you can’t conjure up the names Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb. This time around, thinning the roster from 23 to, say, 10, would make it easier to debate – and free up space for lawn signs across Iowa – but it wouldn’t change the bigger problem. The Democratic field is both crowded and flawed.

Joe Biden is the early frontrunner but you have to wonder if that will hold considering age (he’ll be 77 next year), baggage (his positions have changed on key issues over the course of a lengthy career, most recently on the Hyde amendment which bars the use of federal funds for all but a few abortions) and the gaffe gene (he is, after all, Joe being Joe). Bernie Sanders, who usually polls second, is a year older than Biden. He has also shifted on some issues such as gun control, and would spend half his time in a general election campaign explaining what it means to be a “democratic socialist.”

Sad to say, both “Sleepy Joe” and “Crazy Bernie” present soft targets for Donald Trump. A Biden campaign boils down to “Make America Normal Again,” while the Sanders angle is “Make America More Liberal Again.” These are not broad-based themes, and neither moves the presidency away from the control of aging, white males. Elizabeth Warren is a policy wonk, maybe to a fault, but her passion is unmistakable. Yet, she is not particularly effective on the stump, often getting bogged down in her own position papers. She could find herself with the type of negative polling that dashed Clinton’s hopes.

On my scorecard, the next five Democrats have equal or better profiles but lesser chances. Amy Klobuchar is tough, experienced and fluent on the issues. Pete Buttigieg is a genuine star, super slick in interviews and probably the most inspirational Democrat since Obama. Kamala Harris is charismatic and has broad support among black voters. Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker have sparked pockets of interest with their high-energy stump styles. Still, the odds don’t favor this group. Buttigieg is probably eight years away from a real shot at becoming the nation’s first openly gay president. Harris has equivocated badly on straightforward questions, leaving some to wonder if she has the depth at this stage of her career to be president. Klobuchar, Booker and O’Rourke can’t seem to find a lane that could carry them through the primary process.

Which brings us back to the top three, any one of whom would make a fine president and all of whom should be able to defeat Trump. Then again, no Democrat in memory had a better chance of winning the presidency than Clinton, who was Trumped in the Electoral College. Democratic voters might hope that the first debates next week will clarify things. That’s doubtful. Debating could speed the exit of some candidates who never really had a chance, but it’s unlikely to change things at the top. As Republicans proved in 2016 with a field of 17, swaying opinion is difficult on an overcrowded stage, and this month’s monstrosity will involve 20 of the 23 candidates plus five moderators.

If you’re worried about a repeat of 2016 and, like me, long for someone with more charisma and fewer drawbacks, then you’re stuck with the words of Iowa playwright Meredith Willson in “The Music Man”: “Ya got trouble, my friend.”

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. © 2019 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

Trump Throws Dirt in His Own Eye

| Opinion | June 21, 2019

By Michael Reagan

What the heck was President Trump doing?

What was he thinking when he told ABC’s star fake journalist George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday that if a foreign adversary offered him dirt on a political opponent he’d take a look at it before calling the FBI.

That was an incredibly stupid thing to say. And all day Thursday in the media we heard a bipartisan chorus of everyone but his wife Melania saying exactly that. But what was Trump even doing giving a professional Clinton apologist like Stephanopoulos unlimited access to him for two whole days?

Has he forgotten that his chief enemy is Fake News, Inc.?

And can’t the president restrain his ego for a few days and let the news media focus on something else but him? How about the total collapse of the Mueller Report, the impending investigation into the corrupt origins of the Russian Collusion Hoax, the southern border crisis or the latest bumblings of old Joe Biden?

No chance.

For better or worse, Trump is still Trump – and always will be.

But that’s no excuse. His statement was not just wrong, it was politically dumb.What he said to Stephanopoulos didn’t merely provide several days of fresh free ammo to the Democrats on the House committees who want to impeach him.

It also may have tested the loyalty of the 42 percent of MAGA Americans who so far have been willing to support him no matter what crazy thing he says or does. In this case, most hard-core Trump supporters probably will say, “So what? Hillary Clinton didn’t just accept Russian dirt on Trump during the 2016 election.

“She and her corrupt campaign actually paid someone to get fake dirt on Trump from Russia and put it in a dossier to give to her soulmates running the FBI.”

Stephanopoulos and his liberal pals in the mainstream media conveniently forgot what Hillary’s gang actually did with Russian dirt because they were so busy beating up Trump for what he said he might do if he were offered dirt on an opponent. But the media’s blind liberal bias doesn’t absolve Trump of his stupidity or his mistake. And it doesn’t absolve his die-hard supporters of their hypocrisy.

Imagine if President Obama or any other Democrat had made that statement to Stephanopoulos. Talk radio and the conservative media world would have gone nuts – justifiably. Meanwhile, what’s happening in Washington on important problems like health care reform and border security? Nothing – not even gridlock.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress can agree on just one thing, and we’ll see what it is when they vote for it in a few days – a pay raise for themselves. In our upside-down Trump World of Washington, Democrats and Republicans have flipped 180-degrees on issues like immigration and the national debt ceiling.

Today Democrats want open borders and Republicans don’t.

And remember how Republicans were always worrying about the soaring national debt, even before Obama nearly doubled it to $20 trillion? Now, after Trump has added about $2 trillion more to the federal debt, all we hear from Re-publicans on the subject are crickets.

The only person left who consistently warns us about our rising national debt these days is William Devane in those Rosland Capital gold commercials on TV. You’d think that after what happened in last fall’s election you’d see some action in Congress on health care or immigration, but there’s been nothing.

That’s because it’s been clear for more than three decades that Democrats and Republicans would rather have both issues as political weapons than come up with the bipartisan answers to fix them. If they fix them, they lose the issue.

Which is why the 2020 election is going to be about health care and immigration, the 2024 election is going to be about health care and immigration, the 2028 election is going to be about health care and immigration, the 2032 election is…

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.

Creativity Advocacy: Marketing, Creativity and the Cosmos

| Opinion | June 21, 2019

Since I finished writing my manuscript, “Creativity Connection Conundrum” in January 2019, I’ve been struggling with reformatting, rewriting, reprinting, marketing and re-marketing this book. It has since struck me that the process of Creativity and the process of marketing are very much alike.

According to the Chinese proverb, “Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it,” Creativity warrants risk. This is expressed by many innovators, including Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, and Steve Jobs. In deciding which road to take for marketing my self-help book, I’ve learned that while the writing itself took a good deal of risk (waking up at 5 a.m. to get 500 words in before I started my day job, gambling my sleep on this masterpiece-in-the-making), marketing too, requires some risk. One must dive into unsafe arenas, spending time, money and resources garnering a following, advertising and most vulnerably, pushing one’s original ideas. I’ve written a book all about Creativity, the powerful drive that lives within us, and our innate need to express it.

Each of us possess a Creative expression, whether it is cooking, drawing, singing, sculpting, conversing, problem-solving, writing or film-making, to name a few. I mistakenly thought that the research and writing for my book took all of my Creative energy but now that the piece is done, I’m forced to drum up even more energy to Creatively market my project. It feels a lot like the process of writing the book—it requires the same hard work, determination and belief. The hope and courage that is necessary to show up every day at the blank computer screen mimics the hope and courage necessary to post on social media, upload advertisements and send out queries. The risk is also similar in that I can’t allow negative self-talk and fear to stop me from moving forward.

The risks we take when we step outside our norm to express our Creativity feel scary. Many of us must stave off immense fear before we undertake a songwriting class or sing at a Karaoke bar. The desire to overcome our fear brings us into a relationship with our deeper self, which albeit internal, actually drives the external. Either we are driven by love or driven by fear. Someone once said that “All cats love fish but fear to wet their paws.” This reminds me of the process we must endure for any Creative work, and now post-execution, Creative reception—marketing! Marketing takes as much determination and positive self-talk as the Creation of the work itself.

To me, the most fascinating component belonging to the Creative process is the magic that appears from nowhere that ultimately serves to propel the work itself. When immersed in the moment, connecting with our work (whether it is singing, cooking or sculpting) we connect to something larger than ourselves. We feel the import of our work without question. This connection is inexplicable. Many Creative folks describe this “magic” as being a conduit for God Himself, God Herself, some universal higher power that dictates what we do and how we do it. It feels divine. I can’t say that marketing feels anything like this, but, I can correlate the relationship between me and my audience with the feeling of connecting to something beyond myself. This correlation can even be immediate, as we post our stories on Instagram, or upload our work to YouTube. It all starts with our connection with our work, which then connects us to some higher greater dynamism, then trickles out to impact others.

When we allow fear to dictate our steps, inhibiting us from interacting with Creativity and ultimately preventing us from sharing our work through marketing, we are short-circuiting the force of Creativity. The word ART means TO FIT and we are all just looking to fit into the greater whole. The cosmos is a giant, immense place that brings order to each of our individual Creations. If we start there, believing in our work, we will not allow fear to stop us from taking a risk. Creativity is for all of us, connecting us to our deeper selves and eventually connecting us to others. When choosing between the love of the fish and the fear of the wet paws, we must remind ourselves that until we dive into our Creative outlet, we will persist in our hunger and disconnection—the antithesis of the mission of Creativity.

The Silent Muslim Majority & Jihad

| Opinion | June 21, 2019

By L. Rob Werner

We’ve all heard of the terrible massacre of people at the Al Noor Mosque in New Zealand. But have you heard that mosque produced at least two Al-Qaida terrorists whose parents claim were radicalized by teachings at the mosque?

In our country, we value freedom of religion and insure this via the First Amendment to our constitution which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Many American settlers fled the old world because the established religion did not tolerate their religion. Our founding fathers did not want the government to establish a national religion. The reference to “free exercise thereof” should not be used as a shield to excuse a religion’s abuses that violate our laws.

Most religions have at some point in their history engaged in persecutions. When Moses led his people to the promised land, it was occupied, and he ordered their extermination. Christians have the inquisition and crusades while the Muslims have their invasions and mass killings in the Christian world.

Religions within the United States have almost universally moderated their views to accept coexistence with competing religious thoughts. The odds are that if you attended a Christian or Jewish service which advocates butchering people who don’t accept your faith, you would speak up. You would do something to bring attention to this horrid behavior. You would seek the exclusion of this teaching from your house of worship. You might seek criminal prosecution of the advocate.

Islam is an old-world religion which lacks reformation. Orthodox preaching, if accepted, justifies physical and sexual abuse, as well as murder. Practicing another faith is penalized by execution. A major difference in the Muslim community is that those who do not practice Jihad do not fight against its preaching in their schools and houses of worship. Many of the Muslim faith still hold onto the cruelties inherent in an ancient religion. Muslim-run countries are not democratic, and citizens are not allowed to question established views. American Muslims enjoy our freedoms enough to speak against our country but not enough to speak out against their religion’s teachings. Maybe this is because the first is advocated by their religious leaders and the second is not tolerated.

There are people who want America Muslim. Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama stated in her 1977 Stanford University Yearbook, “I am Iranian by birth and of my Islamic faith … using freedom of religion in America against itself.” The problem with this is that it would be a violation of our constitution for the Muslim faith to be our national religion. Nor would our founders have extended the definition of “free exercise” of religion to include practices that destroy other rights guaranteed by our constitution.

Our nation can fight back by revoking citizenships and seeking criminal prosecutions of violators of the law but this is not enough.

It is time for Muslims who value freedom, who love this country, who don’t accept the violent preaching to speak up and act to preserve their liberties. Albert Einstein tried to teach us a lesson when he said, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

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