Blue Wave Meets Red Wall: Split Decision for a Divided Nation

| Opinion | November 15, 2018

by Dick Polman
Charles Dickens wrote this about the French Revolution: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair … ”

There’s no better way to describe America on the morning after the midterms.

There is wisdom and hope: Democrats took back the House – knocking off Republicans in states like Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and Texas – and thus positioned themselves to hold Donald Trump accountable and halt the Republican legislative agenda. When the votes are finally tallied, Democrats will have trounced the Trumpist GOP in the House by roughly eight percentage points nationwide – a solid rebuke of the president who lost the popular vote in 2016 and has debased this nation ever since.

But there is also darkness and despair: Republicans, blessed with a Senate map that gave them red-turf home-field advantage, expanded their control of the upper chamber – and gave them new impetus to stack the federal judiciary with conservatives who will reign for decades. Millions of voters clearly embrace his racist demagoguery. In states where Democrats were once competitive, his lies and detestable rhetoric have leached into the Republican mainstream. He is now the face and fist of the GOP.

Beginning in January, when Democrats take control of the House, the Trump-Republican agenda will be officially dead. No more massive tax cuts that skew the goodies to the richest Americans. No more idiotic assaults on Obamacare. No more crackpot schemes to spend on a border wall that Mexico was supposedly going to pay for. Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Mitch McConnell can talk all he wants about slashing Social Security and Medicaid, because now it ain’t happening.

And Democrats will now have the opportunity to craft an alternative agenda – with bills to combat climate change, expand background checks of gun buyers, raise the federal minimum wage, protect Robert Mueller, toughen ethics laws, protect voting rights and curb campaign finance abuses. Granted, the Republican Senate will block whatever they pass. But, at minimum, Democrats can use the House as a policy incubator – with 2020 in mind – to show the voters what they stand for. And who knows, maybe Trump will make occasional attempts to find some common ground, perhaps agreeing to spend what’s needed to finally repair the nation’s roads and bridges.

But I’m skeptical for two reasons: (1) Trump can’t breathe without an enemy, and the temptation to assail the Democratic House, for the next two years of his permanent campaign, will likely consume him. (2) The Democratic base, which is justifiably furious about Trump’s serial scandals, and about the servile GOP’s failure to hold him accountable, will demand that the Democratic-run committees drill down into his family business deals (which allegedly violate the Constitution’s ban on monetizing public office), his myriad security abuses, his porn star payments that broke the campaign finance laws (according to his ex-lawyer, confessed felon Michael Cohen), and there’s much, much more.

Adam Schiff, the articulate Trump critic and ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee, is slated to become the panel’s chairman – and he’ll be armed with subpoena power. “There are serious and credible allegations that the Russians may possess financial leverage over the president, including perhaps the laundering of Russian money through his businesses,” Shiff said last month. “It would be negligent to our national security not to find out.”

That’s precisely what a responsible Congress is supposed to do. Trump has run rampant during the two years of all-Republican rule, and Tuesday night, Americans nationwide – most notably, college-educated women – voted for checks and balances. That’s the good news, the best of times.

But it’s likely we haven’t yet seen the worst of times. The odds are overwhelming that Trump, faced with strong congressional pushback, will behave like a cornered rat. His base will duly applaud his defiance, as will his allies on Capitol Hill – not just in the GOP-strengthened Senate, but also in the House, where those who survived the blue wave are mostly denizens of the reddest Trumpist districts. He may do whatever he feels is necessary to save his skin, at the expense of the national interest – hopefully without starting a war.

As Dickens wrote of the French Revolution, “we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” What, pray tell, is our destiny during the next two years of divided government? As our corrupt imperial Leader likes to say, “Stay tuned!”

Copyright 2018 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.

Acosta Flap Proves It’s Time to End White House Briefings

| Opinion | November 15, 2018

by Carl Golden
The ugly confrontation between the president and a reporter in the White House briefing room should remove whatever doubts existed over whether the daily briefings should continue or be scrapped.

Not only have these sessions outlived their usefulness, they’ve become so distorted and warped from their original intent they are embarrassments to all who participate in them. It’s time to end them.

Once thought to be a direct, effective and welcome way to provide information to the American people by subjecting their freely elected government to questioning by reporters acting as surrogates for the citizenry at large, the briefings have deteriorated into a propaganda mill for the administration and an exercise in self-aggrandizement for the media.

The relationship between the Trump White House and the media was established on the administration’s first day by a petty, pointless argument over the crowd size at the inaugural ceremony. It’s continued downhill ever since, surpassing even that of Richard Nixon whose loathing for the press was returned in equal measure. The spectacle of the president locked in the equivalent of a barroom argument with CNN reporter Jim Acosta while a White House intern attempts to wrest the microphone away from the reporter offended the professional and personal sensibilities of anyone who witnessed it. Acosta is the stereotype of what many Americans resent about the media – an obnoxious, overbearing, insufferable, self-righteous, sanctimonious boor fond of the sound of his own voice, in love with his opinions, discourteous and disrespectful. The long-winded preambles to his questions are delivered with one eye on the television camera to assure it’s getting his best side.

While many of Acosta’s colleagues are embarrassed by his antics, viewing them as harmful to their credibility and professionalism, they’ve remained silent, feeling that he may be an (expletive deleted) but he’s our (expletive deleted). Trump has manipulated the situation brilliantly, depicting Acosta as emblematic of a dishonest media dishing out fake news. (The “enemy of the people” cry is far-right hyperbole.) He understands that planting doubts in the public mind about an institution or group of people triumphs by singling out the most egregiously offensive individual and portraying him as representative of the whole. As deceptive and shallow as his approach may be, Trump is a master at it. And, neither CNN nor any other news outlet can beat him at his own game and they should cease trying; it plays directly into his hands. The historic low esteem in which the media is held and the majority view that news is slanted and untrustworthy is evidence of Trump’s success.

The media frustration is understandable. This is, after all, an Administration whose half-truths, exaggerations, embellishments and outright falsehoods are the stuff of legend. It is the Grand Canyon of dissembling and distortion, breathtaking in its sweep and grandeur. Press secretary Sarah Sanders doesn’t so much answer questions as she does in using the podium to rationalize the president’s latest commentaries and tweets and quickly pivoting to the propaganda talking points.The old saw about never arguing with someone who buys ink by the barrel is a force no longer. Social media and the dire economic straits into which it has driven traditional print outlets has emptied the barrel. Trump long ago grasped this reality and has proven adept at turning it to his advantage.

His tweets drive daily coverage, forcing the media to follow his lead while placing significant control over the news cycle in his hands. The media would be wise to play the long game – pursue story lines, cultivate sources, extract reliable, documented information and print or broadcast it in a straightforward, non-judgmental fashion. It is a fool’s game to lunge blindly at every morsel of bait Trump tosses into the waters each day.

The relationship between the White House and the media is beyond repair. They are like two scorpions in a bottle – neither can escape without killing the other. There is no valid or credible rationale to continue the daily briefings. They’ve become an anachronism, a throwback to a time when the interaction between politicians and the press may have been adversarial but hadn’t yet deteriorated into the equivalent of a 3 a.m. back alley mugging. Even should the briefings end, it will have minor impact on reporters or the administration. The White house will still be covered and the administration will continue to drive its agenda. It’s past time to spare the public the televised ugliness that has descended on the briefing room.

Copyright 2018 Carl Golden, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey. You can reach him at cgolden1937@gmail.

American Politics – and Tragedy

| Opinion | November 15, 2018

by Michael Reagan
So what’s the final score?

Who won the midterm elections on Tuesday night? The D team or the R team? Let’s see.

The Democrats and the progressive left have got Nancy Pelosi back as Speaker of the House for two years. Maxine Waters is ready to rumble too. Whoopee.

I’m sure Nancy, Maxine and their aged claque of Trump haters and progressives will quickly show America their nasty partisan nature. They’ve already signaled that they are more interested in trying to impeach Donald Trump than reaching bipartisan consensus on important issues like immigration or funding our infrastructure needs.

Meanwhile, since the Republicans kept the Senate, for the next two years they get to confirm any new Supreme Court justices and dozens more federal judges.

The way I score it, the midterms add up to a monumental win for President Trump, the Republican Party and the rest of the country.

It was president’s tireless campaigning and fighting spirit that made the difference –and made it a historic night.

It’s normal for the House of Representatives to switch parties in a president’s first midterm election. Ask George W. Bush. Ask Barrack Obama. What’s really historically abnormal in the midterms is for the president’s party to gain U.S. Senate seats, as the Republicans did.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s results, it’s interesting to note how differently the Republicans and Democrats have reacted to their losses. President Trump and Mitch McConnell took it like adults. They didn’t go on Fox News blaming the government of Saudi Arabia or some other country for messing with our election process to cause Republicans to lose the House to the Democrats.

Republicans know you win some elections and you lose some. They know it’s how party politics in America works – and has since about 1800. But on the left, the Democrats and their hit men in the deranged liberal media can never believe it when they lose an election.

This time they’re trying to figure out how the Republicans robbed them of the Senate. Was it the Russians? The Chinese? Iranian hackers?

One of their deepest political thinkers, Joy Behar of “The View,” blamed it on gerrymandering – until she was told by someone on the show that senators are elected statewide. For the next two years it will be very interesting to see what “bipartisan” legislation the Democrats propose – and what actually ends up on the president’s desk. I’d like to talk some more about the midterms, but in Southern California 11 young people and a brave police officer were gunned down at a college country music night in the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.

To say this latest mass shooting – which reportedly was done by an ex-Marine who had mental problems – hit close to home to my family is no exaggeration.

In the early 2000s, while my daughter Ashley was in college in the Thousand Oaks area, she was a waitress in the Borderline. She worked many Wednesday college country nights like the one that has shocked the country less than two weeks after a gunman slaughtered 11 Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

You ask when do these horrible killings stop. How do we stop future mass murderers from hurting more innocent people? Dan Bongino, the former Secret Service man, gave the answer on Fox the other night. He said it only stops “When a good guy with a gun takes out a bad guy with a gun.”
He’s right. We need to start protecting ourselves from bad or crazy people with guns with good people with guns. The president has people with guns protecting him. So do actors, rock stars, CEOs and billionaires.

Congress has lots of people with guns protecting them – even while some of them call for tougher gun control laws that would prevent the rest of us law-abiding citizens from defending ourselves. Good people with guns should be protecting our children in schools, churches, synagogues, bars – wherever they hang. Or aren’t our children as important as movie stars and politicians?

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

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

‘You and I Have a Rendezvous with Destiny’ Ronald Reagan

| Opinion | November 15, 2018

by Stephen Smith
Dear Republican Leadership and Candidates:

You have failed! Even if you or your candidate won their election, you have failed! Even if you rode the coattails of President Trump to victory but did not effectively inspire your constituents to embrace the freedom and liberty given to us by our founders, you have failed! If you are in a district with the majority being registered Democrats, lost and did not beat the spread, you have failed. You have failed, for you have failed to inspire the rising generations. Look at the voter registration numbers and weep at the decline. The coastal Republican body politic is on life support and finds itself trapped by recalling the good old days. The Republican heart is still beating in Middle America at places where “they still cling to their guns and their religion,” but in urban America, the extremities are growing numb and are stinking of gangrene. You have failed if you have not come to the realization that principles are more important than personalities and that the way forward is education and inspirational messaging.

Republicans will disappear altogether if “you” cannot begin to market the reasons why to vote Republican with its advocacy for limited government and a free market economy. You have let the progressive left define what and who you are. The progressive left has co-opted public education and with the support of the media has shaped our rising generations to value the failed policies of socialism. The rising generations have embraced leftist thinking with all its false promises. They are unaware of the history of oppression, murder, stagnation, loss of innovation and economic failure under leftist regimes. Under modern educations indoctrination, history is deemed no longer relevant. They have been convinced that they are the possessors of all wisdom. Western civilizations values and lessons learned are ignored by the modern educated elite. They are intolerant to diversity from their Marxist world view. They rewrite history.

These disastrous changes will not just go away. Our leftist, would-be oppressors employ a long-term strategy and will not stop until they achieve their version of utopia with its ignorant masses and entrenched ruling elite. They dare to call themselves democratic. In his dystopian novel, “1984,” George Orwell described the likely outcome “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

Once upon a time, we had a president who spoke with a clear voice. With a Democrat majority Congress, he managed to win all but one state in the Electoral College. His wisdom and insights inspired the American people. He was often called “The Great Communicator.” After the disaster of Jimmy Carter’s lowered expectations, we once again were proud of being American.
“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.” -Ronald Reagan

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” -Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan sent a message telling us where freedom loving America is rooted. “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Ultimately to “Make America Great Again” we must become a grass roots movement by beginning to educate and inculcate our children and neighbors about those principles and values that so many of our predecessors have fought and died for.

When you gather, try beginning with prayer. Even Benjamin Franklin knew there was value in seeking wisdom from our Creator. The future will always be unpredictable because of our Creator given imagination and creativity. Ronald Reagan knew it when he said, “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” Seek creative solutions to reaching the hearts and minds of the American people. If you are reading this, messaging and educating is up to you. No one else is going to do this for you.

My brief history: When Obama was running for President, I found Obama’s message troubling and was astounded that whenever he spoke of “Hope and Change,” people felt he was talking to them personally. It was cult-like, and I knew the substance was rooted in envy and theft. Something had gone horribly wrong in America and I did not know what it was. It was then that I began my own journey to knowledge and later activism. I began by studying the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Inspired, I went on to read other documents that our framers wrote and finally the writings that influenced their thinking such as Adam Smith, John Locke, Montesquieu, Cicero, the Bible and British Common Law. I concluded that they were right and today we (and Obama) were wrong. Lacking a forum to express my insights and no funding, I took a leap of faith and twice ran as a Republican against Xavier Becerra. I even was able to debate the 20 plus year incumbent. Given the enormous registration differential and no financial support from the Republican Party winning the vote was not possible, however I took solace that I was spreading the word for a more Constitutional government. I began writing letters to the editor, hosting classes on the Constitution and doing book studies on the Federalist papers. I am no one special. The difference is that I acted. In closing, the words of Ronald Reagan:

“I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”

I hope to hear what you are doing to make a difference. God bless you, and God bless America.

Always Advocating Alan – Veterans Day and Borderline

| Opinion | November 15, 2018

This Sunday opened a new chapter in my understanding of just how much our neighbors value and appreciate the brave men and women who have served in defense of our great nation. While it may have been the 15th anniversary of the San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade, it was the first time I lined up on Laurel Canyon with two Santa Clarita Elks Riders, who are Veterans, for a mid-day ride down the boulevard, among the almost 100 participating groups.

The parade began at the corner of Laurel Canyon Blvd and San Fernando Mission Blvd, then proceeded down Laurel Canyon 1.1 miles to the Ritchie Valens Recreation Center and Park, on the corner of Laurel Canyon Blvd and Paxton St, where a carnival was happening at the recreation center. Not only was the street lined with smiling faces waving patriotic materials, but when each group stopped at an announcer’s station, the names of each group’s veterans, along with their branch of service, were announced to the public. Even as the parade drew to a close with our group lined up as number 88, the crowd remained attentive and enthusiastic in their display of appreciation. You might think of adding the San Fernando Valley Veterans Parade to your list of options on how to celebrate Veterans Day next year.

So, you might consider my dilemma. With this last Sunday being Veterans Day and the city council election being over with the results in print, I thought I knew what to write about this week, but the subject matter changed when the news reported on a shooting in Thousand Oaks. Plus, it made it even more disconcerting to find out the perpetrator was a veteran.

It turned out, Ian David Long, a 28-year-old, was a marine combat veteran who served as a machine gunner, reaching the rank of corporal. He served a seven-month tour in Afghanistan during his nearly five years of service. On that fateful evening, Long walked up to the Borderline Bar and Grill, shot the security guard standing outside, then walked inside and opened fire, killing 11 patrons plus Sheriff Sargent Ron Helus who was answering the 911 call, and injured an additional 18 other people. Finally, (Long) was found dead of a gunshot wound in a back room at the bar. “The amount of blood inside the bar made it difficult to tell whether he shot himself or was killed by law enforcement,” said Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. A report, released after his autopsy, indicated Long died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

Long was armed with a legally obtained .45 caliber Glock 21 semi-automatic hand gun, outfitted with an extended magazine, which held a greater amount of ammunition than is legal in California. In addition, US News reported, “Six off-duty, unarmed police officers, from various agencies, were at the bar when the shooting began, according to Sheriff Dean,” and that “Officials from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in processing evidence at the scene and at the shooter’s home.”

Long lived five miles from Borderline, and local law enforcement was aware of his erratic behavior. Ventura County Sheriff Dean indicated police have had “several contacts” with Long in recent years. “Deputies were called to Long’s home in April for a complaint of disturbing the peace, which said he was irate and was acting irrationally,” (LA Times Article November 8). USA Today also reported, “Long … was interviewed by police at his home last spring after an episode of agitated behavior that authorities were told might be post-traumatic stress disorder,” yet mental health workers decided he did not meet the standard for an emergency psychiatric hold.

Fortune reported that Dominique Colell was a high school track coach, who recognized Long’s name as her one-time attacker. The event allegedly took place during a track practice 10 years ago when Colell was trying to determine the owner of a found cell phone. “Ian (Long) came up and started screaming at me that was his phone,” Colell told CBS. “He just started grabbing me. He groped my stomach. He groped my butt. I pushed him off me and said after that — ‘you’re off the team.’” Colell also said she later reported the alleged incident to another coach and to a school administrator, who told her that she was “just too young and good looking to be taken seriously.” Colell said she was pressured to accept Long’s apology and let him back on the team so as to not jeopardize Long’s future in the Marines.

Colell further noted that while some contend Long’s act of violence could be a result of PTSD after serving in Afghanistan, she believes that he had anger issues and emotional problems long prior.

The Washington Post reported Todd Stratton telling of an incident which occurred during a 2011 New Year’s Eve party when Long was so drunk and angry that he broke a fellow marine’s nose. The other Marine was trying to calm Long down when Long took a swing at him. “He was just pissed off and drunk and was trying to get in a fight,” said Stratton. “No one knew why he was getting so upset.”

Next, I am sure we will hear some send “thoughts and prayers,” while anti-gun activists will start a call for more gun control, others may even question why the off-duty law enforcement officers present were unarmed, and for a time the news will report on the investigation into Long’s motives. The problem is, the public has heard these things so many times, that our feelings are being numbed to such tragedies which are taking place all too frequently. I sense the public’s frustration as awareness sets in, realizing none of these solutions or activities will end the carnage.

I am personally getting resentful of hearing that the perpetrator had issues going back to high school, and school staff either did nothing or swept the issue under the rug. What about the effectiveness of our country’s law enforcement policies? They appear to allow individuals to just grow a “rap sheet, ”and stay out on the street, avoiding punishment, rehabilitation or treatment. So much for, “If you see something, say something,” because if no one is listening, or willing to take any action, what value does it provide?

Plus, there is the issue of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). We seem to hear about it all the time. Yet, when I was having a conversation about the Borderline incident with my son, it really got me thinking when he asked me, “Why do you think, we did not hear about tragedies like Borderline occurring after our Viet Nam soldiers returned home? Didn’t some of them suffer from PTSD also?” Now, there is something to ponder. Could it be the role of today’s U.S. military in war-torn countries overseas, along with the current rules of engagement, are aggravating the situation? Perhaps those of you with an opinion on the PTSD issue could pen a letter to the Gazette editor and get a dialog going.

Yet, with all the problems we face, it is hard for me to express the sadness I feel because of the Borderline incident. The loss of a loved one, particularly a child, by the hand of a deranged individual, must cause more grief and difficulty accepting than I could possibly imagine. But, we should all remember, David Long did not do what he did because he was a veteran. Long’s problems appear to go back long before his military service, when those in charge failed to act. If we truly want to prevent another tragedy, we will need to pressure our elected and appointed officials to act when they become aware, or are made aware, of those who exhibit behaviors which are dangerous to others.

In the meantime, I will continue to heartfully thank our veterans for their service, pray for the wellbeing of the Borderline victims and their families, and look for a realistic solution which will put an end to the carnage.

An Open Letter to Katie Hill

| Opinion | November 8, 2018

Dear Rep.-Elect Katie Hill:

You have made history by becoming the first Democrat elected to the House from this area, having defeated Steve Knight in what I’m sure you’ll agree was the longest and most challenging and expensive campaign you have ever endured. Let me be the next to say congratulations. It was a true marathon, you having declared back in March 2017, and you are to be commended for this incredible accomplishment.

Of course, you won’t be seated as part of the 116th United States Congress until January, giving you time to reflect on what has happened and what you plan to do in this upcoming term. As I’ve covered this race from the start, I have some definite ideas of what I think you should consider, think about and do for the next two years.

The most important thing is to put the interests of your constituents first. In other words, vote district over party. From day one you should demonstrate that you are looking out for their welfare. Do not give your constituents the perception that you do little to nothing until six months before the election and then start trumpeting your accomplishments.

I saw many Facebook posts that said, in effect, you would vote with Nancy Pelosi over and over again. Granted, “Nancy Pelosi” is a Republican buzzword, but you need to be independent and not cast your vote with the Democrats as much as Knight did with the Republicans (the website FiveThirtyEight pegged it at 98.9 percent). You would be wise to remember the support Knight has given the veterans and the aerospace industry.

You also need to read up on CEMEX and become intimately familiar with it. While taxes, the economy, jobs and healthcare are important to everyone in the district, mining in Soledad Canyon is a Santa Clarita-specific concern. Saying you hadn’t heard of it until relatively recently cost you any chance of winning The Signal’s endorsement and showed true ignorance (in fact, the Gazette quoted you in an article about CEMEX back in March). If you truly want to represent everybody like you say, you must understand this issue.

Knight alienated a wide swath of voters by objecting to his voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and many in the district are convinced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be detrimental, and he infamously said about Social Security, “I absolutely think it was a bad idea.” Granted, you won’t have a problem with these issues, but something unforeseen will arise, and you had better be ready to discuss and explain yourself better than Knight did.

My second suggestion concerns accessibility. A candidate often grants better access than an incumbent, and you would be wise to remember how accessible you have been. That means meeting with all constituents, not just those in Santa Clarita. Don’t let there be stories of locking doors and refusing to meet people. When you return to the district, why not randomly drive around and show up somewhere unannounced? You can take the pulse of your constituents that way.

Finally, for heaven’s sake, avoid the perception of hypocrisy and disingenuousness. People believe that you chased the money – witness your refusal to sign the so-called “People’s Pledge” to keep outside money out of the race and the fact that you raised more than $7 million this cycle. And only mentioning you’re bisexual, a gun owner and a survivor of sexual assault when the issue arises makes you look opportunistic and cheapens these tenets of your identity. You should be proud of who you are and where you’ve come from.

I’m not saying, “Do these things and you’re guaranteed to be successful.” You’ll never please everybody, it’s tough to get much done as a freshman congresswoman, and surely there will be serious Republican challengers the next time around. But true representative government means listening to those you represent. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders and representatives such as Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff are not your constituents. Don’t do what they want if that will harm the people in the 25th.

Once again, congratulations. Good luck, and we’ll be watching.

Everyone Knows

| Opinion | November 8, 2018

by Stephen Smith

At the time of this writing, I do not know the results of the midterm elections. History tells us that the majority party does not do well in midterm elections, even with a very popular president. Politics has always been a blood sport, but I have not heard so many vile accusations, especially by Democrats since that infamous “Counting Daisy” most repulsive attack ad ever by Lyndon Johnson implying we all would die from nuclear attack if Barry Goldwater became President. You can find it on YouTube, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDTBnsqxZ3k). That video makes the ads where individual people are claiming they will die if their Democrat candidate does not win seem tame in comparison. Today, dubious claims and accusations are multiplied many times over, due to the incredible dominance of social and mainstream media that keeps repeating the same calculated messages thousand of times during a news cycle. These bombardments, often using straw man arguments, have been repeated so often that many assume the accusations are proven facts. I call it the “everyone knows” phenomenon.

“A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man. “The typical straw man argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent’s proposition through the covert replacement of it with a different proposition (i.e., “stand up a straw man”) and the subsequent refutation of that false argument (“knock down a straw man”) instead of the opponent’s proposition.” Wikipedia.

You have heard the latest “everyone knows” when President Trump self-identifies as an (American) Nationalist, the statement is claimed by progressives to be a dog whistle (I have yet to see the dog whistle dictionary) meaning that he really is a racist supporter of white nationalist neo-Nazis. That’s right, President Donald Trump is Hitler, maybe worse. Naturally, this logically implies that he is also anti-Semitic and is responsible for the tragic murder of the Jewish faithful during Shabbat services at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. I have heard this type of scripted scenario played out again and again by Democrat talking heads on nearly every major media outlet. Despite the obvious absurdity, scenarios like this have been embraced by the public in man on the street interviews and on signs carried by protesters at various public events. On CNN and MSNBC, news readers and commentators, dripping with hate and disdain, engage in a classic case of “projection” by accusing President Trump of being a hater. All on camera nod in agreement, for after all, “everyone knows.”

“Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.” Wikipedia.

In refutation, I would like to begin with the accusation that he inspired the Synagogue attack. 1. The attacker hated Trump for being too friendly with Jews. 2. With his promises of defending Israel from Iran and their conventional and Nuclear weapons and by moving our Embassy to the Capitol of Jerusalem, no American president has done more for the Jewish homeland. President Trump has a great relationship with Israel’s President Benjamin Netanyahu. 3. President Trump’s beloved daughter and grandchildren are Orthodox Jews. 4. Clearly the President’s love of Israel and the Jewish People is quite inconsistent with charges of any affiliation with the neo-Nazis. Everyone with a brain (unlike Oz’s Scarecrow), knows it.

Regarding President Trump being Hitler and a racist. Refer to the definition of “Psychological Projection.” 1. The Nazis were socialist (progressives) and controlled the population with fascism. Intolerance of diversity of ideas with fascist authoritarianism and socialism is the purview of Progressive Democrats, not limited government Republicans. Trump has reversed many of Obama’s presidential edicts that established new laws which overreached Obama’s defined Constitutional authority. Trump has returned the edicts back to Congress where they belonged, rightly reducing Presidential power and authority. His tax and regulation cuts have reduced governmental power and influence. Quite the opposite of the socialist Nazis and fascist. 2. Trump has complained about how the press has covered him but has never taken any action to reduce their ability to publish as they please. In no manner has “Freedom of the Press” been interfered with. He has been a champion for the “Freedom of Religion.” It actually has been the uber liberal Google and Facebook that have limited the freedom of conservative speech. 3. His requested restrictions on migration have been towards those who wish to do us harm and not a general race or class. For example, when he spoke against MS-13 he immediately was charged with hating all Hispanics. He never said all Hispanics are guilty of evil affiliations. His words always seem to be twisted by the pundits. After Charlottesville, when President Trump criticized both the Neo-Nazis and Antifa for their violence, he was accused of being a racist for not attacking the Neo-Nazis only. Very strange, but with so much TDS, predictable.

The leftist-progressives seem to have become scarecrows, whose passions and hatred have separated them from their wisdom and intellect. In nearly every case, they are the ones who are guilty of the charges that they are making against President Trump. Everyone knows it.

The God Haters

| Opinion | November 8, 2018

by Richard Hood

I saw an appalling commercial from Katie Hill, who tried to appeal to her TV audience as being just an average woman who would be “independent” and not in anyone’s pocket, as was, she claimed, her Republican opponent. Maybe her opponent was, but a half-truth is still a lie.

Incredibly, she said this as a Democratic Party candidate, not an independent. And she expected enough people to believe this drivel to get elected, and sickeningly, she was right. By deliberately choosing to be a major party candidate, I’m guessing she may not have paid for that slick (“I’m not slick, I’m just like you!”) TV ad completely out of her own bank account. Almost all new congressional representatives have to “tow the party line” – which is no surprise, but it is a reason to abandon the “I vote the person” mentality, as politics don’t work that way. Always vote the lesser of evils, and never for political parties that promote it.

I’ve tried to hold Steve Knight to account in a previous article, and after another month, have still not received a reply. Have any of you? I’m not happy with him, but we should all feel our intelligence insulted by Hill’s latest ad. You think she supports women? Ask the thousands of females who are aborted each year about that support. But we can’t, can we? More females are aborted worldwide than males if that matters to her, or to the supporters of human suffering and destruction.

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, but the Democrats deliberately took God out of their National Party Platform. That should tell you something in a country where the vast majority of citizens do acknowledge God. A friend who is a lifelong Democrat took the time to read the platform and declared “It’s like the Communist Manifesto.” Not much of a surprise there, as the causers of history’s greatest amount of human suffering, the communists, (also makers of the world’s largest concentration camp system) are also God haters.

Hill deliberately chose to be a progressive leftist candidate, who will have to tow the Democratic party line. She has spent a lot of time, energy, and someone’s money to achieve her election goal. Why? If as she claims, she won’t be beholden to anyone, why choose a party that will make sure she is beholden and answers to them? That’s why they agreed to her being their candidate, right? Common sense as well as the wisdom of scripture tells us that the borrower is servant to the lender. It also tells us that in order to love God, one must hate evil.

If a candidate is wrong but not dishonest, there are but two possibilities left: ignorance, or delusion. At a certain point, any of those should become disqualifying for any candidate. Whatever else she makes claims of being, I don’t see a way for her being a rogue do-gooder looking out for your best interests. Rather, I think she’ll look out for the interests of a leftist wing of a political machine that supports, rather than hates, evil.

Richard Hood is a retired history teacher.

Reds are Singing the Blues

| Opinion | November 8, 2018

Results of Tuesday’s midterm election confirm that California’s 25th Congressional District is no longer a safe haven for the GOP. The former Republican bastion we call home is increasingly tilting in a different direction due in part to the growing number of Democrats and those who decline to state a party preference now residing in the district.

As much as the media and voices from both ends of the political spectrum had said this election would be a referendum on the president and one-party domination of Congress, it’s clear that kitchen table issues – specifically affordable health care and taxes – were matters that resonated more with voters in the Antelope, Santa Clarita, and Simi Valleys.

Witness the last-ditch efforts of Republican candidates – including the 25th District’s Steve Knight – who attempted to mislead voters, telling them the only way to ensure that health coverage would continue for Americans with pre-existing conditions was to cast their votes for Republicans. It was the party’s mantra for those in tight races throughout the country. They pulled this stunt only after polls indicated that health care was the number one issue among voters this year. In most instances, candidates who made those claims weren’t entirely truthful.

After Rep. Knight told a town hall meeting in April, 2017 that he would vote to keep protections for those with pre-existing conditions, he went back on his word. He voted for Republican-led legislation that effectively killed those provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Knight later proved that he had a pre-existing condition of his own: anxiety over losing his seat in Congress.

In late September – knowing a return to Washington might not be in his future – Knight cynically introduced the “Maintaining Protections for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Act.” His calculated move wasn’t enough to sway the majority of the district’s voters. Like many elected officials, he belatedly told his constituents what he thought they wanted to hear rather than listen to what they had to say in the first place. To be fair, it’s a malady suffered by many politicians from both parties.

Even though Knight voted the party line when it came to health care legislation, he at least did so politely and without making much noise. Unlike Arizona Rep. (and, as of this writing, presumed Senator-elect) Martha McSally, who ran campaign ads in the final weeks of her senatorial race in which she earnestly stated that she was “leading the fight to force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.” This is the same Martha McSally who, according to media reports, told a conference of fellow Republican leaders last year “let’s get this f***ing thing done!” The thing she was referring to was killing the Affordable Care Act.

Steve Knight is too nice a guy to talk like that. Well, maybe except for that time in Simi Valley when he told an unruly protester that he would “drop his ass” after the guy got in the congressman’s face. That kind of campaign rhetoric is a sure vote-getter (you can watch the instant replay on YouTube).

Representative-elect Katie Hill’s victory over incumbent Steve Knight this week is a testament to her impressive – some might say aggressive – get-out-the-vote strategy and grassroots support. She heard and listened to what voters were saying. Especially on issues like healthcare, which was a cornerstone of her campaign. Her campaign was about being responsive to the needs of the ordinary folks who live in the district; those who may have felt disenfranchised and ignored by the incumbent. Similar feelings drew many voters to Donald Trump in 2016. It’s what drew district voters to Hill this year for entirely different – and probably better – reasons.

Hill will enter Congress at a time when political parties are becoming increasingly factionalized and the electorate is feeling increasingly marginalized. Two years is not a long time to make a difference. Re-election efforts are almost immediately on the horizon and a return to office is never guaranteed. No matter how earnest Hill’s efforts once in office, ill-conceived acts of retribution and retaliation on the part of her Democratic colleagues could hurt her prospects to return to Washington in 2020.

This is a tough time for politicians to adhere to their principles. But it also appears to be the dawning of a new age in politics. By every indication, Katie Hill is her own person. In an interview earlier this year, she eschewed the old adage that “all politics is local,” saying instead that “all politics is personal.” She added that serving her constituents would take precedence over party ideology.

Our voices this week were loud and clear. And whether red or blue or anything in between, holding our leaders accountable for their actions is something district voters are quite comfortable with. Tuesday’s results were proof of that. As they will be in Tuesdays to come.

City Creates Santa Clarita Coloring Book Draw Your Life in SCV ‘More Interesting’

| Opinion | November 8, 2018


With a colorful, 30-year history that includes industrial development, population growth, and fires of disastrous proportions, the next logical step for our beloved municipality was to turn that rich history into a minimalistic coloring book for folks of all ages. And that, we have.

Thanks to the personalization opportunities of this project, owners of the book have the chance to make the art their own. Draw yourself introspectively thinking on that weird bridge in the wash by Magic Mountain. While you’re at it, color in some friends. You can draw anything to make it drastically different than your life off the pages. After all, you are the one coloring by yourself.

Be prepared to rip open that 32-pack of crayons and use that brown to color in rockin’ landmarks like the Oak of the Golden Dream, a hut, and of course, that weird bridge in the wash by Magic Mountain. Draw yourself looking 15 pounds thinner, lying next to the oak. In the picture, you look like you did in college before Maria broke your heart. And there you are, cherishing the sturdiness of that oak; the kind of sturdiness that you were never able to achieve in your relationship with Maria.

This local interactive activity will enrich the lives of children across our valley. Never before have students been able to satiate their ever-growing urges to give their artistic take on that butterfly-looking sculpture at Central Park. And, even though you are no longer a student, you are a student of life. Use your experienced hands to re-create your 21st birthday on the page. It’s December, it’s cold, and in this reality, Maria managed to show up. In fact, everyone did. They all remembered in this world. Maria didn’t laugh at your request for a Bionicle as a present for your adult birthday. She delivers. You are all smiling around the butterfly with glee.

Because of Santa Clarita’s latest attempt to bring culture into the valley, the possibilities to heal old wounds and disconnect from reality are endless.


Always Advocating Alan – Halloween Has Passed and Time Is Marching On

| Opinion | November 8, 2018

Writing “Always Advocating Alan” at this time in November seemed a little awkward. Halloween is over, and by the time you read this article, the 2018 midterm and City Council elections will also be history. So, even though my crystal ball was not clear enough to tell me who the winners would be, I decided to write a little bit about both.

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. Why? because it provides a chance for our children, and young adults, to show their creativity by coming up with costumes and getting out in the world to interact with those they have never met, by asking for a “treat.” Pretty scary stuff when you are very young.

As a pre-teen living on Ocean Parkway in New York, I do not recall anything about Halloween. I became aware of the holiday after I moved to Studio City in California and was excited about the prospect of being visited by costume-clad kids. But alas, living on a hilly street, no one ever came to the door. Later in the evening, some of my friends and I would go down to the “flat land” in North Hollywood and try our luck. We even visited Bob Hope’s house in Toluca Lake a couple of years, where his butler would stand out front and hand out 50 cent pieces. That was a big deal in the 50s.

Halloween blossomed for Pam and I after we moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1965. In those days, parents would load up children in cars and vans and take them all over the valley. I was overwhelmed the first year and settled into a ritual of buying boxes of 100 candy items, so I could keep track of how many children visited. At the height of it, 350 children trick-or-treated at my house. Unfortunately, soon after came the scares about candy laced with needles and other things, and the number of trick-or-treating children fell off dramatically. In recent years, there have been few houses on my street lit up on Halloween night. Trick-or-treaters normally number about 50 neighborhood children, carefully watched by parents or family members.

But it always brings a smile to my face and warms my heart when one of the children walks up to my display and I hear “trick or treat,” particularly the little ones who do it so timidly. Plus, I even get to think about Halloweens gone by, when a parent reminds me that they trick-or-treated at my house when they were young.

As far as the city council election outcome, I don’t know who will win, but I can only hope whomever is elected will come to realize that it is just as important to openly discuss the challenges Santa Clarita currently faces as it is to advertise any success the city may have achieved. Plus, it never builds confidence when the city takes credit for someone else’s ideas or achievements.

Doing the peoples’ business in public, keeping the public informed and providing a forum to ask questions of our city’s elected officials and city staff is what city council meetings should be all about. On the demeanor of the council and staff at council meetings, Diane Trautman described it eloquently in an October 26 Gazette article. She said if a person comes before the council and is either critical or offers an opposing viewpoint, “It is not treated as a matter of disagreement. It’s treated as an insult to the councilmembers. So, there’s not a welcoming of different ideas. It seems everyone has to agree.” I’ll take it one step further by including, “many questions raised by residents at city council meetings are never answered.”

Providing a forum to bring up important issues in more than three-minute visits to the city council podium is the main reason I enjoy writing “Always Advocating Alan” for the Gazette. I do not object when my text is forwarded to the city prior to publication, because many times the city chooses to respond. Plus, once in writing, staff comments can no longer be challenged as a fabrication.

Which brings me to Ms. Lujan’s response to my column last week. It starts off, “In response to Alan Ferdman’s editorial.” Webster’s dictionary defines an editorial as “a newspaper or magazine article that gives the opinions of the editors or publishers.” I do not write editorials, I write opinion columns, as defined by the words printed under every one of my submissions by Gazette management. In discussing Santa Clarita City Council’s actions on homelessness, Ms. Lujan indicated “In 2017, the Ad Hoc Committee on Homeless Issues was formed by the Santa Clarita City Council” and the “Community Task Force on Homelessness met for the first time in October.” Since both groups are made up of individuals selected by city staff who meet in private, do not produce any minutes and do not reveal when their meetings will take place, it is not surprising the public would want to know what is going on. Plus, if these two committees are formed by the Santa Clarita City Council, why don’t they fall under the Brown Act open meeting law, and why do the council and staff want to keep their discussions secret?

In contrast, I have been asking a question about Measure H funding for quite some time. In the July 20 response to my column, Ms. Lujan stated, “In just over a year since Measure H was passed, Bridge to Home has already been approved for more than $1 million in Measure H funding for operations and development. So, last week, I asked: “We keep hearing about … 1 million dollars from Measure H being allocated to Bridge to Home. Perhaps my pen pal Ms. Lujan will explain when the funding will be available, over what period of time, and if it is a recurring allocation.” The response came from Ms. Edwards, Board President Bridge of Home (BTH), who stated, “In September, BTH responded to a Request for Proposal to provide year-round shelter services. …. We are waiting to see if BTH will receive the contract. …. That contract will begin early in 2019 and amount to $987,000 annually for three years to fund year-round operations.”

Translation: As of this date, Bridge to Home does not have the funding. I hope they get it, but in the meantime, there is no good reason for the city not to capitalize on the county’s desire to build a year-round shelter in our valley. A collaborative effort using an open, public process would be very beneficial to bring forth ideas to help solve the problem. I can only hope the three individuals elected to fill those council seats decide to host open public discussions and deliberations on the homelessness issue.

Stay tuned, because there is even more to this story.

A Time When There Were No Smart Phones

| Opinion | November 2, 2018

By Anne Marie Whalley

My father was born in 1887, and I have no idea where his knowledge of life came from. He knew how to read, count, and speak properly, even if we had a dialect from the area where he was born in France. My mother, who started working at the age of 9, was the same type of person as my father. He passed away when I was 8 and left me with the desire to learn more about words used to describe the world.

For example, how my father knew about the world and could describe it to me. We had our favorite book – an Atlas – so well done that I read it to my father after he had a stroke. That book united us, since it allowed us to have conversations, and with the conversations came the desire to know even better what was around us.

And what we did we do when we wanted to learn more? We read. Books opened our creative mind to imagine the world, since we didn’t have TV or movie theater in our village. We felt, we tasted, we touched, we smelled with written words and we used our imagination to live the story. What a treasure we own when we know how to read.

I needed then to learn English as my second language when I used to adore French. What a challenge it has been! Do I feel richer knowing two languages? Yes and no. I re-read, for example, philosophical books written by Germans or French people. Those books where translated in English, and if I understood the words, it was not easy for me to use them in a sentence; something I used to do in my French language. Nevertheless, I fell in love with the English words, and what a beauty it was to learn over and over.

My American husband is an avid reader like my father was. No, Mr. Freud, I didn’t marry my father! I married a man who impressed me with his words, the same kind of language I used hearing in my home when I was a little child. That example of two parents allows me to have a strong marriage. Thanks dad and mom, thanks to my husband to give me so much ability to perform this wonderful task in life: take a book and read it. We have the TV in our home, and if we do not watch it, it’s because we highlight, we mark our books and then have conversations about the story we read or are reading.

So, yes. I grew up, and I stayed the little child with more knowledge, and I am still happy to learn.

Be Remembered with Great Fondness

| Opinion | November 1, 2018

by Stephen Smith

The impending confrontation with the caravan of migrants, which began in Honduras, is now upon us. I am praying that a tragedy, both long-term and short-term, be avoided. I seek a compromise that all will demonstrate compassion, long-term positive results and be remembered with great fondness. The plight of thousands of people who have lost hope in their native countries, lie heavy on all our hearts. It is hard to know what to do because we Americans by nature are a compassionate and caring people.

That compassion is not limited to one political party or another. Liberals and rednecks alike jump to the aid of our fellow man whenever and wherever disaster strikes. When needed, Americans are there. It might be the Cajun Navy, Catholic Charities, the Red Cross, FEMA or just one person giving his neighbor a helping hand. No nation on earth reaches out to strangers, anywhere or anytime like we Americans do. We are very good at short term and clearly solvable problems. Long term problems are quite a different question.

President Trump’s deployment of the U.S. Military comes with many short-term risks, especially if people are injured and their suffering increased. The long-term benefit could be finally achieving effective immigration policy. The open border policies of Democrats provide immediate feel-good benefits. However, if the military fails to stop the migrants at the border, and/or the Democrats let them pass, this will provide incentives for future mass migrations on a scale we have never seen. This will cause very high long-term disadvantages from high demands on infrastructure and social stress. Angela Merkel’s government is failing because of her open border policy. Neither option provides for the immediate needs of the migrants who have arrived on the border and who require food, water, clothing, shelter and medical care before they would be able to continue their journey or return to their country of origin. We may not be able to integrate all who come to the U.S. into our society, but basic human decency requires we do what is necessary to help them survive the consequences of their decision.

Immigration has always been an issue in the United States. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson in his attack on King George III wrote, “He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose, obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.” The Alien and Sedition Acts signed into law by John Adams in 1798 were about the rights of the nation to deport aliens and immigrant voting rights.

From our nation’s founding until the mid-20th century, America had a labor shortage and relied heavily on the energy and population growth provided by immigrants. Most often, immigrants came to America looking for opportunity. They sought to integrate into our society and become part of the “American Dream.” Frequently, they had family here who would help them get a start in their new home. Without any entitlement programs, if they could not make it, they would return to their country of origin. With all the benefits and entitlements available, today there is no longer a need to return if you cannot become a productive member of our society. So, the times, they are changing. Full assimilation is unfortunately no longer a priority.

That lack of assimilation is not unique to America. Recently Germany, France and Sweden have welcomed Muslim immigrants and refugees in large numbers. They provided a full range of benefits, even including a moderate income. In the beginning, the host countries were very proud of their compassionate outreach. As it turns out, being provided for seems to take away the incentive to assimilate into the general society and culture. Cultural conflicts have led to confrontations with their hosts, which are sometimes violent. The citizens are having justifiable regrets about their hospitality.

Jordan, a country with a population of nine million in recent years has taken in around three million refugees. The first came from Iraq during “Desert Storm.” They arrived with lots of money and now live in the finest high-rises in Amman. In the desert country where water is rationed, they have plenty. The second wave of refugees is from Syria. They are poor and came only with the shirts on their back. Jordan is a very poor country and the Syrians are living in the desert with minimal food and water while being housed in tents. Culturally, they are considered cousins and guests, so under Islamic law, receive priority health care and schooling over citizens. The Jordanian people are not without resentment.

Recent history has shown us that it is important not to let in large numbers of immigrants at a time. The problems and costs are endless. We should not go forward without finding a working system that will help insure success and assimilation. That said, we should not be without compassion in dealing with the caravan at the border. I remember reading the accounts of Mountain Man and trapper Jedediah Smith, who, after crossing the Mojave Desert, arrived with his party of fellow trappers at Mission San Gabriel, sick, tired, hungry, thirsty, supplies gone and horses dead. The Friars took them in, gave shelter, nursed them back to health and sent them on their way completely re-outfitted. Jedediah later wrote that he always remembered the Good Friars of Mission San Gabriel with great fondness. For now, I think it best that we defend our border, but act in a way so that we too will be remembered with great fondness.

Crossing the Jordan

| Opinion | November 1, 2018

by Gary Curtis

King Abdullah II of Jordan has notified Israel that his country will not renew leased farmland to Israel, which was part of the historic peace agreement, signed by his father in October 1994.

The leases were for 25 years, with a notification required the year prior to their conclusion, if the lease would not be renewed by either side. So, the October 2018 deadline for such a notification has been exercised.

Much of the presently leased land is on the East Bank of the Jordan River, southeast of the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee. It is near where the smaller Yarmouk River joins the Jordan River, which is historically and inextricably linked with the Jewish people.

It was this area, known as Gilead, where two and one-half tribes of Israel settled (Num. 32) when the Hebrews migrated from slavery in Egypt, over 3,400 years ago.

Some six centuries prior, the Jewish prophets Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan River on dry land after striking Elijah’s mantle to the waters (2 Kings 2). Then, the entire Hebrew nation made its own miraculous crossing, under Joshua’s leadership (Joshua 3).

Moses was forbidden from crossing the river (Deut. 3) and when he died, he was buried on the eastern side of the Jordan, in Moab (Deut. 34:1-6), which is part of the country of Jordan, today.

In modern history, Jordan was “invented” by Winston Churchill in 1921, as an administrative part of the British Mandated territory, on the eastern side of the Jordan River. As a homeland for the Palestinian Arabs, it was to be the first of a “two-state solution.”

Finally, the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan was granted full independence in 1946, as Britain’s Mandate was nearing conclusion.

The remaining mandated-land, west of the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, was designated for a sovereign Jewish nation. After the regional war, which followed Israel’s declaration of Independence in 1948, Trans-Jordan ended up occupying part of Jerusalem and land to the north of it, along with the western bank of the Jordan River.

This West Bank occupied territory was held by the Jordanian Arabs for 19 years, until the 1967 War, which “liberated” the territory from Jordan. Under Israeli control since that time, many of the member states of the U.N. still have not recognized the territory as Israeli land.

This was the background to the surprise 1973 Arab attacks on Israel, during their High Holy Days. Again, Israel came out on top, with additional Arab territory seeded to them in the Sinai desert, by Egypt. This land was returned to Egypt as part of Israel’s historic peace treaty with that nation in 1979.

Fifteen years later, a “Treaty of Peace between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” was signed on October 26, 1994. The agreement contained 30 articles, five annexes (which address boundary demarcations), water issues, police cooperation, environmental issues, and mutual border crossings, along with six definitive maps.
Now, after 24 years of tepid peace between the two sovereign nations, this new devolvement may signal added nationalism aspirations from Jordan’s Muslim-majority-Arabs. With Syria’s civil war to the north, ISIS fighters still to the south and radical Islamists east of Jordan, nothing is really secure and certain on the “stormy banks” of the Jordan River!

For “people of the Book”—Jews and Christians—the Jordan River has always had a metaphorical connection with the “Promised Land” of Heaven and the Hereafter. For them, death is not the end, only the beginning!

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.

I am bound for the Promised Land,
I am bound for the Promised Land;
O who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the Promised Land.

–Samuel Stennett

A Cure for Sure

| Opinion | November 1, 2018

by William Tozzi

In reality, hate is a disease.
Don’t contradict my words, please.
It conforms to the definition
Of a serious medical condition.

Hate initially gets its start
In the center of your heart.
Then it travels to your brain
Where it causes needless pain.

Hate can be very contagious
Making your reasoning outrageous.
It sneaks into your mind with stealth
Damaging your mental health.

All your senses are affected
Yet, changes may go undetected.
Hate is a thing that must be learned
And in your brain it must be burned.

It’s a lethal infection in your head.
Out of ignorance and fear, it’s spread.
Hate is not a part of your DNA
So you’ve no excuse to be that way.

Nobody’s ever born with hate.
It’s a horrible acquired trait
Obtained when you’ve been exposed
To minds which are always closed.

How can we heal this malady?
I’m sure solutions disagree.
Is there a vaccine or inoculation
To put a stop to its formation?

Healing can take effect today,
But those affected stay away.
They don’t want to be made well.
They rather have their living hell.
But how do we obtain that cure
Since, administering it is unsure?
The treatment is love, obviously,
Yet, it’s the cure haters cannot see.

Many refuse their medicine
And prefer the state their world is in.
So none will ever change their way.
They will remain as they are today.

They need to start a regimen
Of taking anti-hatred medicine.
Yes, they can mix up a prescription
Following this simple description.

Ingredients are easy to obtain.
Directions are simple and plain.
Pour in a lot of tenderness.
Add a glob of friendliness.

Stir in some understanding.
But don’t be too demanding.
Filter out rage and ignorance.
Replace it with common sense.

Blend in care and sympathy.
Combine with loads of empathy.
Don’t forget to add respect
And give it time to take effect

Add prayer into the mixture
To return God to the picture.
It may take a while to come around
Before all the hate is drowned.

Use compassion sprinkled with levity.
To show how the world should be.
I’m not a doctor, but be assured
All hate, someday, will be cured.

Copyright 2018, William Tozzi, Golden Pen Writers Guild, Santa Clarita, CA

Shame is on Life-Support

| Opinion | November 1, 2018

Unlike the majority of staged presidential moments which have become all-too-familiar during his reign, Donald J. Trump’s arrival in Pittsburgh this past Tuesday was a somber affair. The tenor was not solely due to the nature of his visit to the Steel City, which was ostensibly to pay his respects for the eleven Jewish worshippers massacred at the Tree of Life Synagogue over the previous weekend. It was the mere fact that he had traveled to Pittsburgh at all.

Rather than being greeted at the airport by civic leaders as is customary when the President of the United States comes to town, Mr. Trump’s arrival was decidedly low key. He was effectively alone on the tarmac, surrounded by family members and aides. And not by choice. The president came to town, ignoring the requests of city officials and community leaders not to do so. They made clear that their priority was to the families, mourners and members of the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill who were directly affected by the devastating assault.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and other government officials were acting in the interests of their citizens, exhibiting true leadership, putting the needs of their constituents ahead of taking part in one more presidential photo opportunity. Mr. Trump asked members of the congressional leadership of both parties – including stalwarts like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan – to join him. They declined. Relatives of at least one of the victims chose not to meet with him.

The president spent thirteen minutes visiting the synagogue, as well as a hospital where some of the wounded first responders and victims remained. Then, it was off to the airport, tail between his legs, for the flight back to Washington where preparations were already underway for campaign rallies throughout the country. Normally verbose, Mr. Trump boarded Air Force One stony-faced and silent. How could he not? He’s used to adoring fans and cries of “Lock her up” – whether the “her” in question is Hillary Clinton, Christine Blasey Ford, or Maxine Waters.

Mr. Trump is not used to protesters, like those he encountered in Pittsburgh. He shields himself from them. He’s not used to people – 50,000 of them – signing online petitions expressly telling him that he is not welcome in their city. No matter. He came, he saw, he left with nary a word spoken. One day later – with many of the dead yet to be buried – Trump was back on the campaign trail, his spirits invariably lifted as orchestrated throngs cheered him upon his arrival in other cities and towns throughout this divided nation.

The senseless murders committed in Pittsburgh and the attempted assassinations of a dozen other “enemies of the state” (including former presidents, government officials, members of the media, and others who don’t share the misguided Trumpian vision of America) over the last few weeks, as well as the increase in white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, nativism, all underscore a brutal reality. We are daily bearing witness to the slow, painful death of shame. It is on life-support and barely breathing.

From calls for the arrest and incarceration of political opponents, attacks upon the free press, his blatant support for extremist groups, his flouting of ethics and societal norms, his disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law, his violation of human rights and so much more, Mr. Trump is using words as weapons. It is the American ideal of democracy that will be his ultimate victim.

When an emboldened serial bomber composes a hit list comprised of individuals the president has targeted, Mr. Trump bears a measure of responsibility. When his description of oppressed people as “invaders” finds its way into the social media screeds of racists and is used as motivation for the taking of innocent lives, he shares some degree of blame. When a Southwest Airlines passenger gropes a woman aboard a flight and tells federal agents he did so because “the President of the United States said it’s okay to grab women by their private parts,” Mr. Trump needs to reassess the impact his words.
Despite his cagey denials, the president knows that “globalist” has long been a buzz word for Jews and that the term “nationalist,” whether it includes “white” as a modifier, describes racists and anti-Semites. No matter. It plays well with the proverbial base. Unfortunately, the base only accounts for a portion of the people he was elected to serve.

Rather than unite us as a country, the president is growing increasingly emboldened and divisive. He is tapping into the very worst of who we are rather than lifting us up as one people. It’s time politics is cast aside.

Donald J. Trump is an intelligent man; far from book smart, more street smart. He may be ignorant of the nuances of leadership, the Constitution, and the role of the president. He may not understand the concept of moral leadership. But make no mistake. He is cunning and has his finger on the pulse of a stable third of the electorate. He has tapped into a culture of hate that has been percolating under the surface of our country for quite some time. And he readily, repeatedly and shamelessly exploits those who share his sentiments to his advantage.

There is still time to resuscitate shame. We can only hope the president will do so before it flatlines.

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | November 1, 2018

The following letter was submitted by a Gazette reader, and was originally published online at www.boblonsberry.com.

‘The Caravan of Crap’

Where do they s***?

The Hondurans in the caravan, the 7,000 people walking north to America, where do they go to the bathroom?

And eat and sleep and store their clothes?

And how is it that after a week on the road they are clean and their hair and clothes are well kept?

How is any of this possible?

And why do these people, supposedly fleeing intolerable conditions in their homeland, carry little flags from their homeland and break into its national anthem when the TV cameras show up?

And speaking of which, for oppressed people, they all seem to be pretty well fed, well groomed and well dressed. Their hair is neat and newly cut, their clothes are clean and in good repair, and they are built like people who have had ample nutrition all their lives, being well developed and, many of them, overweight.

And none of them look dirty or unkempt, like they had been sleeping on the ground for the last week.

There’s just nothing in any of this that makes sense.

Supposedly, these several thousand people spontaneously decided to leave Honduras, walking north in a group, hoping to trek the length of gang-plagued Mexico and present themselves as refugees and prospective Democrats at the American border.

Which, again, makes no sense whatsoever.

And leaves a lot of big questions unanswered, and ignored by the press. Such as, who organized this? Who is paying for it? How have they covered 500 miles in a week?

Seriously. Any number of American “reporters” have walked beside a sympathetic walker and talked about how this particular woman and her children had trekked half a thousand miles over the last week or so.

That’s 71 miles a day.

The best soldiers through history have been able to march 25 miles a day.

How have 7,000 people been fed and watered? And how have they gone to the bathroom? If the average person across the world produces about a pound of solid waste a day, that means that these folks are somehow disposing of more than three tons of feces each day.

That’s a heck of a lot of crap, even for a Central American roadway.

Provisioning such an army of people – the equivalent of 10 combat battalions in most of the world’s militaries – is a large task. Transporting and distributing the food and water necessary to keep those people moving is a massive chore which the press says nothing about.

The entire enterprise, as a spontaneous ad hoc event, is implausible.

As an orchestrated international attempt to influence an American election, it starts to make sense.

And ought to alarm us.

Unless it’s only Russians we don’t want screwing with our democracy.

Unfortunately, none of this has made the evening news. It’s almost as if the press, in whatever scheme is afoot, gladly accepts its role as propagandists to the American people.

Every story is sympathetic, as if an attempt to enlist viewers and readers in this caravan and the politics it symbolizes.

And so the story is not about an orchestrated attempt to manipulate electoral opinion and violate the borders and laws of the United States, it is about compassion and Trump and xenophobia and racism. It is the October surprise, it is the Blue Wave.

And it is all nonsense.

Because all of these people, if legitimate, have the ability to apply for American asylum in their own country – as do the residents of most nations of the world. We have consulates and embassies for a reason, and this is one of those reasons.

We also have laws and an oath of office for a reason.

Laws, so that “we the people” through our elected representatives clearly and systematically govern our society. Law is the means by which the people express and exercise their sovereignty. Disobedience to law is disobedience to the will of the people, it is the subverting of their sovereignty and franchise.

Breaking the law is denying you the vote. Your vote elects representatives – lets you pick the country’s direction – and the representatives write the law. If that law is ignored, your representation becomes meaningless.

You get screwed.

And the oath of office?

Members of Congress – even Democrats – swear an oath to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution, which establishes our system of laws and specifically charges the Congress with making the rules of naturalization and immigration.

Who comes across the border and under what conditions they can stay is a constitutional responsibility of the Congress. That is to be determined by a congressional vote, not by a Honduran mob.

Failure to insist on that – even for Democrats – is a violation of your congressman’s oath of office.

So there is not a Democrat or Republican response to this travelling army of invaders – there is only an American response.

And that is: Turn around and go home.

Because the law of the United States does not allow a mass entry like this. The law does not declare the borders open.

If Democrats and progressives don’t like that, they can try to change the law. If America’s progressives want open borders and believe all the world’s people have a right to live in the United States – as they say they do – then they should adjust immigration law accordingly.

But until then, if they are to keep their oaths of office, they must stand for the law and the border.

And they must tell their surrogates to turn around and go home.

Because this caravan is nothing more than a bunch of political s***.

By Bob Lonsberry © 2018, boblonsberry.com


There is an old adage that great minds think alike. Therefore, it is not surprising that I concur with publisher Doug Sutton in his recommendation of Jason Gibbs and Timben Boydston for election to the city council .

I have known Jason Gibbs for several years. Jason is a smart young candidate who can be counted on to be a financial conservative and strong advocate for public safety. Jason is supported by Bob Kellar who will continue to mentor Jason after he is elected.

Timben Boydston is a known quantity having already served on the city council as an appointed and elected member.

Timben distinguished himself as the people’s councilman. If you call or email, Timben will personally respond to your concern.

Timben led the effort to stop digital billboards from being placed in the gateways to Santa Clarita.

Importantly, Timben is not afraid to question the city manager and staff on important issues. He will never be a rubber stamp. Timben wants the council’s business to be conducted in public.

On November 6, I urge you to vote for change on the city council. Join me in voting for Jason Gibbs and Timben Boydston.

Steve Petzold


I moved to the Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) when I was 6 years old, and was lucky enough to attend all new schools, beginning at Pinetree Elementary in Canyon Country and graduating from Valencia High School in 2001. While I do not currently live in the SCV, I maintain strong ties to the community; my parents still live in Sand Canyon, and my company will be relocating to Valencia next year. The SCV remains near and dear to me.

Santa Clarita is a great place to raise a family, but it is not the same town of Frontier Days, the Saugus Speedway and a pint-sized mall. To continue to grow smartly, the next council must walk a tight-rope between affordable and market rate housing, open space preservation and new development, and attracting new industry without adversely impacting traffic patterns and city services. The city must do this all while maintaining its strong AA+ S&P lease revenue bond rating.

Of all the individuals running for City Council this year, there are two newbies have the right stuff. Jason Gibbs is one, Sean Weber is the other. I grew up with Sean. I’ve known him since the 6th grade. He has come a long way, indeed all of us from that generation have; I’m talking about those who grew up along with the City, became entrepreneurs, business people, or raised children of their own. Our generation that is so much a part of the City’s growth should have a voice in local government; an opportunity to ensure that the city continues to thrive.

Sure, there are other candidates that claim to represent my generation, but only Sean has a track record of success as an entrepreneur. Specializing in the areas of strategy, entrepreneurship, and process implementation related to information technology and digital marketing, Sean has the skills and intellect to be a great councilmember. To be successful, he has shown that he can listen well to gain the input of others, and maintain flexibility and an open mind to new ideas, all attributes of good civic leaders.

On one occasion, he built an analytical process that combined legal client data from multiple databases and accounting systems that provided paralegals and attorneys a more efficient way to manage over 10,000 cases. As a result, the law firm was able to provide higher quality service to lower litigation costs, while minimizing expenses.

The city needs tech savvy, real world business leaders with substance behind them. Please join me in supporting Sean Weber for City Council.

Geoff Sager,
City of Ventura and Canyon Country Native

Always Advocating Alan – Sorrow, Joy and City Council

| Opinion | November 1, 2018

As a “Yiddish Mensch” from Brooklyn, this past week’s slaughter of parishioners in a Pittsburg Synagogue struck particularly close to home. Not because it was worse than when similar tragedies have played out in a Church, Temple, Mosque, or any other religious place of worship, but because for the past decade, I have come to realize such a horrific event is a possibility even when I attend high holiday services here at home.

It also reminded me of a time when being a victim while in “shul” (temple) was the last thing on my mind, even though similar tragedies had been occurring all around the globe. What is hard to imagine is the grief and despair of those directly involved. In the Jewish faith, an individual observes “Shiva” (seven days of mourning) for parents, spouses, children, and siblings who have died. Mourners remain at home, while friends and family come to offer their condolences and provide comfort. May God help the victims’ families find inner peace during this time of such extreme sorrow.

The question now becomes, “What can we do about it?” Let’s start with what is of no value: blaming others, attempting to make political hay, or forwarding your personal agenda, is what keeps us from making real progress. If you want to make a difference, please pledge to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Be fair, respectful and kind, no matter what the other persons, race, religion, nationality, or political party. You will be very surprised when you find out that you agree far more than you are at odds with other people. Imagine; you might even cause a person to have hope and mellow out, thereby nipping a possible future tragedy in the bud.

The joyful part of the week was being part of the Halloween costume and pumpkin-decorating contest judging team at the Newhall Community Center last Friday night. Held every year, this family event is co-hosted by the Newhall Community Center, the Sunrise Rotary, and the Salvation Army. “Hats off” to the Newhall Community Center Staff this year for their organization, their individual costumes, and a very scary (but fun) haunted house. The Sunrise Rotary provided the pumpkins, water, snacks and the judging team, while the Salvation Army guided the winners to their prizes. This year’s judges included Bruce and Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Ken and Debby Chase, Andrew Taban and me. As there are so many creative families participating, making the decision is not easy, as the judges mingle in the crowd to consider and acknowledge each child’s efforts. Putting all else aside, this event provides a time for participants and hosts alike to smile, have a great time, and think about coming back again next year.

As for a productive way of spending Tuesday nights, city council meetings twice a month always provide something of interest. Some may find the subjects not very exciting, but city council meetings have an important intended purpose. It is the time and place to witness our elected representatives conduct the people’s business in public. Decisions are to be made at that time and not discussed by a majority of the council prior to the meeting. In reference to last week’s Gazette article by Lee Barnathan, Mayor Weste was quoted as saying, “No, the council does not make up their mind ahead of time. There’s a lot of discussion and quite often the council will totally hold something over, or they ask questions.” I have always wondered, if that were true, why are there so many items on the “Consent Calendar”?

At the October 23 city council meeting, Agenda Item 4 proposed funding not to exceed $200,000 for a City Council Chambers Audio/Visual Upgrade, Phase I. Now, I understand that $200,000 is “small potatoes” in the Santa Clarita city council scheme of things, but in my book, it is an amount worth looking into, and if the city council feed on Channel 20 was still working at your house, you would have heard me ask, “What new features are we getting?”

I think it was a reasonable question, particularly since the staff report referenced the winning company by saying, “Based on their (Integrated Media’s) …. In-depth understanding of the project needs, staff recommends …. Installation of Council Chambers audio visual equipment to fulfill the enhancement and features …. as set forth in the RFP.” How could staff make such a recommendation without knowing precisely what features they were getting? Councilmember McLean, however, did not appear to know exactly what was being purchased either, when she made the comment, “I just noticed the Dias is going to be modified …. I don’t know what they are planning to do.”

I can’t help but wonder if any of the council members were aware of precisely what was being proposed. Then, after my comments concluded, there was not one word of discussion, no staff report, no renderings presented, or included in the Proposal Response. There was just a “move for recommended action” and the council unanimously voted yes. By the way, I made the comment about Channel 20’s broadcast of our city council meeting because I know it failed around the middle of the meeting in Saugus and Canyon Country. I’m sure you will take comfort in knowing the staff reports indicating Phase II and III are planned for future years, when the television broadcast system will be addressed. So much for doing the people’s business in public, the prioritization of problems which need repair, or discussions relating to the agenda item itself.

The next item of interest came by way of Agenda Item 7, LOS ANGELES COUNTY REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: PHASE II TESORO DEL VALLE PROJECT. I thought this a very important and interesting topic because of the many times we have heard our council members lament that they have no jurisdiction in the unincorporated areas.

The shelter issue started over 20 years ago when the Santa Clarita Community Development Corporation was formed, and a temporary winter homeless shelter was put in operation. Their first major location was the Via Princessa Metrolink Parking lot, which unfortunately caused a great deal of heartburn for a nearby condominium complex. Councilmember Ferry formed a committee that was unable to locate an acceptable shelter location. Sometime later, Mr. Paul Novak, representing Supervisor Antonovich, came up with a brilliant plan to locate acceptable sites. He invited everyone who was interested and set out to build a list of where the public did not want a homeless shelter built.

After the list was complete, Mr. Novak sent out a small team to find locations which did not violate the criteria established. Drayton Street, the shelter’s current location, is one of those sites. Mayor Ender then spearheaded the creation of a City of Santa Clarita Permanent Shelter Overlay Zone. But starting with the SCCDC and then being rebranded as “Bridge to Home,” the community has been told a permanent year-round shelter is coming soon. Realistically, however, funding to support a permanent year-round shelter has never been made available.

I believe Bridge to Home has done a tremendous job with the resources they have been provided, and I also do not believe the Tesoro Del Valle project is an acceptable location for a homeless shelter. But for the city to take the position that having a second county-sponsored shelter “will dilute the ability of Bridge to Home to expand in the future,” appears to be more about maintaining control than solving the shelter issue.

We keep hearing about the city donating the land and more than $1 million from Measure H being allocated to Bridge to Home. Perhaps my pen-pal Ms. Lujan will explain when the funding will be available, over what period of time, and if it is a recurring allocation, because that is not enough money to build and operate a permanent year-round shelter. The City of Santa Clarita needs to step up and solve the problem, or it will come as no surprise when someone else decides to pick up the gauntlet.

Stay tuned, this story is just getting started.


In response to Alan Ferdman’s editorial:
The City of Santa Clarita has long supported Bridge to Home and is actively working to address homelessness in our community.
Just this year, the City Council approved the transfer of approximately $1 million worth of land to Bridge to Home for a permanent, year-round shelter.
In 2017, the Ad Hoc Committee on Homeless Issues was formed by the Santa Clarita City Council to discuss and work toward the most effective strategies for addressing homelessness in our city. The committee meets to collaborate with stakeholders from the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond – including homeless care providers, advocates, social workers and other partners.
The city applied for and received a planning grant from the County of Los Angeles to hire a research group to develop a comprehensive solutions plan to address and combat homelessness.
The first action item of the plan is already being implemented as the Community Task Force on Homelessness met for the first time in October.
City staff meets monthly with Bridge to Home.
The City has provided support for organizations such as Bridge to Home and Family Promise through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding and Community Service grants for many years. In addition, the City annually awards CDBG funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist lower-income residents in the areas of decent housing, a suitable living environment and expanded economic opportunities.
Some of the top priorities for your City Council this year when awarding grants were mental health services, homeless services, a homeless shelter, affordable rental housing, senior rental housing and job creation/retention.

Clarification of Bridge to Home Funds
By Peggy Edwards, Board President Bridge to Home

After Measure H passed, Bridge to Home (BTH) has been provided several opportunities to respond to opportunities to contract to provide additional services. These include:
Approximately $400,000 to subcontract to Los Angeles Family Housing for four case managers and supervisory time, rent and employment costs such as telephones and mileage. These case managers’ work serves individuals and families.
$680,000 to build a family building on the Drayton Street property.
$90,000 from Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger for sewer and utilities hook-ups.
In September, BTH responded to a Request for Proposal to provide year-round shelter services. This is the first opportunity ever for our community to receive this type of funding. We are waiting to see if BTH will receive this contract. If so, we will provide 30 emergency crisis beds and 30 “bridge” housing beds for people engaged in case management services and actively searching for permanent housing. That contract will begin early in 2019 and amount to $987,000 annually for three years to fund year-round operations.
Measure H funds are distributed according to a county-wide plan developed prior to the tax being approved by the voters. There are 21 initiatives in the plan that are eligible to receive Measure H funding. Each year, an appointed body of representative stakeholders reviews and sets priorities for Measure H funding for the next three years. This process determines what funding will be available the following years.

The Party of Mob Violence – Why Aren’t Dems Denouncing Violence in Their Party?

| Opinion | October 26, 2018

by Gary Curtis

Street anarchy is happening again in Portland, Ore., as violent activists were protesting the police shooting of a black man, Patrick Kimmons. As it was this summer, when Antifa anarchists violently protested at federal immigration offices and threatened their employees, the Democratic Mayor/Police Commissioner gives the violent protestors free reign. On Saturday, October 6, protestors marched through downtown streets and we saw angry anarchists on television take over an intersection, intimidate and forcefully redirect drivers, including an elderly driver who didn’t understand what was happening, there in the center of the “City of Roses.” No Democrat could be found to denounce this violence.

CNN’s Don Lemon heads the list of network commentators who defend mob harassment in the streets or restaurants where they may physically harm citizens or their property or even to intimidate customers. These network talking heads insist these aggressive actions are legal ways to politically “protest” and are a First Amendment right, rather than a mob action. Of course, if it were Republicans “protesting” in this unhinged and dangerous way, one wonders how legal it would be viewed.

A dictionary definition of a mob is “a large and disorderly crowd of people, especially one bent on riotous or destructive action.” The First Amendment to our Constitution gives “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The anarchist methods of the far-Left should remind you of the French Revolution, rather than the American Revolution.

Civil discourse starts with people being civil to others, even those with whom they may disagree. Yet, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has stated that “…civility can start again” only when the Democrats take control of the House and or the Senate. Until then, it would seem she approves of George Soros and other Democrat activists assembling and even paying “a large and disorderly crowd of people, especially one bent on riotous or destructive action.”
Montana’s Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) responded with caution, civility, and reason:

At a time when Republicans are being shot, stabbed, doxxed, beaten, mailed powder, run out of restaurants, and sent death threats, Hillary Clinton urges Democrats to be even more uncivil. What an irresponsible statement. Every Democrat should denounce. pic.twitter.com/TdEmISWnzM

Eric Holder, the Obama Administration’s former Attorney General who was held in contempt of Congress, told a group of cheering Democrat campaign activists last Wednesday that the time for civility in politics is past. “It is time for us as Democrats to be as tough as they are, to be as dedicated as they are, to be as committed as they are … Michelle [Obama] always says ‘When they go low, we go high,” Holder said. “No. No … When they go low, we kick ’em.”

Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul, whose wife acknowledged that, out of fear for herself and her family, she sleeps with a loaded gun beside her bed, fears this hotly charged political atmosphere will move from mayhem to murder. In a radio interview, he predicted that if this incivility continues “someone is going to be killed.” May God help us!

In violent and uncivil times like ours, the plea of the Psalmist David may become our prayer as well:

“Confuse, O Lord, divide their tongues, for I have seen violence and strife in the city.” Ps. 55:9 MEV

Reality Check

| Opinion | October 25, 2018

by William Tozzi
Reality Check – Definition: an occasion when someone must consider the unpleasant truth about something rather than trying to ignore it.

The other morning, the weirdest question crossed my mind as I was seated, attending to my normal bodily functions.

Is what I’m doing at this moment a requirement all of us on this planet must put up with every day?

This has always been one of the basic necessities of life we cannot survive without. It’s like food, clothing and shelter, but many times not mentioned, forgotten or ignored in some listings. It is the only necessity we find offensive and resort to using euphemisms, such as “number one” or “number two.” It’s a need we don’t talk about, except in those inane bathroom tissue commercials.

Billions of us everywhere must deal with this same necessity, regardless of age, nationality, financial status, or reputation. Whether it’s a gold-plated toilet or a squat in a field, we all do what we have to do. It reinforces the simple truth we are all human and living in the same universe. We are no different than any other, no better or no worse.

And where is this distasteful discussion taking us? There is a correlation between this and the present state of politics in this country.

Those hating and protesting anything and everything in this country should use this reality check as a sign all of us have at least one important characteristic in common which we cannot ignore. And, therefore, we should find a way to share a lot more common characteristics, and share them peacefully.

As a corollary to this reality check, there is one more thing to consider.

The next time you hear politicians, celebrities or anyone expressing their opinions, notice if you are able to differentiate between what comes out of their mouths and what comes out of other openings on their bodies. If you find there is a real difference, then please applaud them, support them, even vote for them, because they are the most honest and remarkable individuals you’ll ever find.

Creativity Advocacy – Creativity and Death

| Opinion | October 25, 2018

Recently, my daughter Rosie and I went to visit a family member in the intensive care unit after a heart attack. We scurried through the corridors on the way to his room, noting that this hospital was utterly beautiful, with spraying fountains and bright green plants; the staff was cheerful and the walls showcased so much photography and colorful art that it almost felt we were at a museum. Creativity was everywhere!

Once seated in the ICU waiting room, however, the inspiring atmosphere completely changed. Quite close to me, a mother was weeping with her family over the loss of her daughter. The sadness was palpable, so much so that we immediately teared up, as empathic people often do, feeling their hurt instantaneously. After a moment or two, I insisted that Rosie take a walk back by the fountain because I was convinced that their grief would trigger her pain surrounding the recent loss of her best friend.

As I sat alone, musing over this fragile and tentative thing called life, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of connectedness. Even though our family member would survive, having been made new by modern medicine in the form of a triple bypass, we had been on the other end of the gamut just months before when Rosie’s friend Michelle lost her battle with breast cancer. We were the ones crying in the ICU waiting room, hugging and holding one another. Our group felt more connected in the experience of death than in all of our life-based interactions. It was profound. And now, here I sat, witnessing the same kind of intense deep bonding that seems to only occur in death.
It is immediate.
Time stops.
Brotherhood and sisterhood, made by being understood, is all there is.

My graduate and undergraduate studies taught me that the ultimate mission of Creativity is to connect the human race. I now teach Humanities through the Arts, which further confirms to me how the arts produce connections that stretch over time as well as cultures. But the more I think on what connects us, the more I realize that the arts are only one part of Creativity’s mission. Music, poetry, culinary, movies, comedy, theatre, dance, literature, photography, paintings, sculpture and architecture are obvious ambassadors of Creativity. Each genre manages to connect us—through laughter and tears, across eras and ages. But one broker of togetherness, whether we invite it in or not, is death.

Our culture tends to treat death as a taboo subject. We Westerners don’t dwell much on death, but instead are fascinated by all things youthful and new. Other cultures, such as Ghana, however, treat death as a celebratory event, embracing the liberation that only death can bring. It strikes me as odd that we could actually welcome death, but when a positive perspective precedes the occurrence, perhaps it isn’t so taboo.

The “Dias De Los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead” will be upon us in a week or so. I never paid much attention to this Mexican holiday until I saw the emotional children’s CG animated movie, “CoCo,” where I learned that a good amount of ritual follows this elaborate belief system, involving photos, altars, candles, singing and feasts at gravesites. Families are brought together for the sake of honoring the dead, which is another way that death connects the living. Beyond that, the entire family is present and united, whether they’re alive or have passed. Like most Creative acts, this requires our imagination—a grand and intangible power.

Interestingly, when we share our immediate pain at the time of loss or when we share in commemorating those who have passed, we are exercising Creativity, through ritual, love, imagination and the camaraderie of our shared experience.

Death connects us.

Personally, after feeling so acutely close to friends and family during these transitions involving death, I am struck by the many correlations of Creativity—how the “unknown” always warrants our Creative energies via curiosity, imagination, risk and emotion, and how death itself manages to stimulate all of these.

My mom taught me how death can connect us through the stripping away of whatever differences may have separated us during life. Within seconds, we all forgo worldly turmoil and we can disparage no one, nothing. We are left with only our common ground.

When discussing my thoughts with my close friend, Andrea Slominski—PhD candidate in Myth and Archetypal Psychology, she agreed that death just might be the ultimate Creative force. It is the one phenomenon we all fear, that we all must face and that ultimately unites us because it’s where we all end up—together.

Prosperity or Decline The Choice is Yours

| Opinion | October 25, 2018

by Stephen Smith

Soon you will be exercising your most sacred privilege we have as citizens of the United States when you step into the polling booth and cast your vote. So much of the rhetoric you have been hearing is a distraction from the real central issue of our generation. So, let’s get rid of the usual accusation and diatribes first.

Dear Democrats, believe it or not!

Republicans: Love and wish to protect the environment. Value clean air and water. (One of the three most common lies Democrats make about Republicans). Desire to protect and take care of the elderly. Love and respect women and women’s rights. (They have or are mothers and daughters). Believe in equal justice under the law for all, rich and poor alike. Care about the quality of your character and not the color of your skin. Republicans abhor racism. (Another one of the three most common lies made about Republicans). Republicans do not see diversity through hyphenates, Republicans see Americans. Want success for all Americans. Desire the best possible education for our children, so all can be self-reliant and prosperous. Wish to ensure all citizens having access to quality health care. Wait for it … desire people with pre-existing medical conditions to get quality health care. (This is one of the three most common lies that Democrats make about Republicans). Help those who are unable to help themselves and wish to give those who can help themselves the tools to be able to do it. Know the importance of having legal immigration for a more productive society. Desire to keep us safe. Support world peace. Don’t trust Russia or China. Value the lessons learned from science, history and Western Civilization. Actively support the Bill of Rights. Believe in the trifecta found in our national slogan, In God We Trust, Liberty and From Many, One People.

These are the real values of Republicans. There is no advantage in not holding these basic truths. If you are being informed differently, you are being told lies.

Peace and love, Stephen.

We will never again have comity and continued prosperity until the voters can accept that most of us are speaking and acting in good faith and want the best results for the American people. I accept that Republicans John Cox and Steve Knight as well as Democrats Gavin Newsom and Katie Hill want what is best for Californians. I believe that both sides care. The real disagreement, the difference, is how to best achieve positive results.

The Democrats are choosing a path inspired by the writings of Marx and not by our founders and the Constitution. Today, they call it being a progressive. Historically it is better known as Socialism. Socialism Definition (Wikipedia) Noun: “A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the state.” (Think Feudalism). Wealth redistribution is one of the tools used to sell the idea to the masses. Under Socialism your rights are collective and not individual. These rights are given to you by both the state and political leaders and are subject to frequent change. (Please read Animal Farm by George Orwell). Modern progressives are feelings-based and not results-based in their decision making.

Socialism as instituted in the real world has had a very dark history filled with intolerance, economic failure and mass murder. There is something about the state having absolute power that brings out the worst in man. In the 20th Century, socialist nations such as The Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Pol Pot Cambodia, Cuba and Maoist China have murdered nearly 100 million of their own citizens. Democrats in leadership today are calling for public confrontations against Republicans. Democrat Socialists call for wealth redistribution, not wealth creation. (Kamala Harris just called for wage earners under $100K to get $500/month from their fellow citizens). This and government-provided healthcare (desired by Katie Hill) must fail because of ever decreasing resources. Socialism does account for and inhibits inspiration, innovation and creativity, which is a gift from our Creator, and changes the world in unforeseen ways. Under Socialism, your treasure is wasted by anonymous bureaucrats who lack incentive to be effective because they are spending money that is not theirs for people they do not know or care about. Job promotions are made based on political affiliation rather than expertise and performance. The purpose of education becomes political indoctrination rather than useful skills development. It is unaccountable. Top performers get the same compensation as low performers. Due to the lack of incentives for innovation and peak performance, Socialism on a grand scale will always fail. Exceptions are inevitably not real Socialism.

Republicans to achieve security and prosperity, advocate individual liberty and economics based on Free Market Capitalism as envisioned by Adam Smith in “Wealth of Nations.” Republicans believe that to protect the people from the tyranny of government, as well as the majority, it’s important to support a divided limited government with separation of powers as conceived by Montesquieu. Thomas Jefferson, inspired by John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government,” declared in our Declaration of Independence, that our basic human rights come from our Creator and not from man or the State and therefore cannot be ever taken away. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of property (originally) and happiness. (Changed, because of conflicts over slavery). Capitalism Definition (Webster’s) “Noun: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.”

Republicans believe that you make better decisions on how to spend your money than the state can. They believe that the purpose of government is to build an environment where everyone can prosper, but it is up to you to do the work. The basic ideas inculcated by our founders have created the most prosperity, the highest standard of living and the most charitable country in the history of the world.

When you go into the polling booth, your vote will decide whether we move towards real progress, prosperity, liberty and freedom, or the tyranny and economic decline we will experience under Socialism. Peace be with you.

Kushner and Trump: A Hit with the Saudis

| Opinion | October 25, 2018

It pays to be friends with Jared Kushner. You can get away with murder. Or so thinks Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Early in his tenure as a special adviser to his father-in-law, Kushner went out of his way to become Best Friends Forever with the monarchical autocrat.

Last year, Kushner travelled to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to promote a multi-billion-dollar arms sale, encourage MBS – as the prince is known in diplomatic circles – to take part in Kushner’s plan for peace in the Middle East, and privately discuss other matters of importance. Exactly what they talked about is as clear as the private discussion the president had with Vladimir Putin earlier this year.

The two must have hit it off. The Intercept reports that in the wake of their meeting, MBS bragged to Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed that Kushner was “in his pocket.”

MBS rose to power after ousting his cousin as next in line to the Saudi throne and installing himself as heir apparent. A week after meeting Kushner last October, the prince further consolidated his power by arresting dozens of family members and associates, calling it an “anti-corruption crackdown.” He extracted billions of dollars from them to gain their release. One of them wasn’t so lucky. Multiple news outlets reported that Saudi general Ali Alqahtani died of a broken neck while being tortured by government operatives.

Mounting evidence now indicates that, at the direction of MBS, a government hit team was responsible for the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. MBS wasn’t happy that Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and a legal resident of the U.S., made a point of speaking truth to power and calling out the Saudi regime for rampant corruption and its autocratic rule.

Silencing its enemies has long been a practice of the House of Saud. And with an American president who continually calls the press “the enemy of the people,” why wouldn’t MBS think he could get away with one more atrocity?

President Trump initially said there would be “serious consequences” if allegations that Khashoggi was murdered were true. Within days of saying so, he flip-flopped, claiming that the killing may have been done by “rogue killers.” This was after a phone call with MBS, during which the prince used those very words, “firmly denying” he had anything to do with Khashoggi’s murder. Trump believes MBS. Because he said so. Just as the president believes Putin didn’t meddle in our elections. Because Putin “strongly and powerfully denied it.”

The Saudi government has now concocted a scenario admitting their involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, claiming it was an “interrogation” gone awry. And that Mohammed bin Salman had absolutely nothing to do with it, yet nothing in the kingdom is done without his blessing.

The Saudis are now relying on plausible deniability to get MBS off the hook and keep his friendship with Kushner and Trump alive and intact. Yahoo News reports that Jared Kushner is “deeply involved” in the White House response to the Khashoggi assassination. What are friends for?

Saudi Arabia is of strategic importance in the Middle East, but there is such a thing as taking the moral high ground. Turning a blind eye to autocrats prone to punishing their so-called “enemies” does not bode well for America’s reputation or standing in the world. And it certainly isn’t in the best interests of the American people. It does, however, appear to be in keeping with the president’s foreign and domestic policy, and his desire to defend anyone with whom he or his family – including Jared Kushner – have a personal relationship.

When she recently announced her resignation as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley called Jared Kushner “a hidden genius.” Cozying up to Mohammed bin Salman, however, may not have been the smartest move he could have made.

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

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

Always Advocating Alan – Finally, My City Council Election Observations and Perspective

| Opinion | October 25, 2018

It has been a busy and fun couple of weeks for me. Starting with having the honor of asking candidates questions at the College of the Canyons City Council Candidate Forum, being the emcee at this year’s Rubber Ducky Festival put on by the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers, attending the HUF dinner honoring our first responders, participating in the Canyon Country Advisory Committee Candidate Meet and Greet, supporting my wife Pamela (RN) as Kaiser Permanente honored her 55 years of service, and finally riding out to Famoso Raceway to visit with longtime friends Jim and Karen Reed, and watching Jim’s Top Fuel Funny Car “Choo Choo Mama” in action. Jim, by the way, is running for Mayor in Paso Robles. Plus, this Friday night, I will be judging the Sunrise Rotary’s Halloween Costume and Pumpkin contest, along with my wife Pam, Ken and Debbie Chase, Andrew Taban, and Bruce and Gloria Mercado-Fortine, to be held at the Newhall Community Center.

Yet, as my year-end activities are winding down, so is our “even-year” election process, and since I have no further commitments to candidate forums, debates or meet-and-greets, I can finally chime in and discuss my observations. First and foremost, I am truly disappointed in where the City’s California Voter Rights Act settlement has left us. While it is true that holding our city council election in November, on even years, along with federal and state elections has increased the number of voters by three-fold, interest in finding out what the candidates have to offer has plummeted, with attendance at the major forums falling by at least 50 percent.

My thoughts are that the reason is mostly likely due to election overload, caused by caustic partisan campaign dialog currently used in federal and state races. Today, it is virtually impossible to have an intelligent discussion about the issues surrounding those races. So, like many others, I choose not to write about them at all.

Then comes the problem of having 15 candidates running for three city council seats, as part of an “at large” jungle election process, where we can each pick up to three candidates. Historically, it can be shown, the greater the number of candidates, the larger the dilution of challenger votes, giving the incumbents an even more enhanced “incumbent advantage.” Nothing screams the need to divide the city into districts and adding the use of a primary system more than what is currently taking place.

One important obstacle this election’s candidates have failed to adequately address is traffic congestion on our streets. It appears we are “over” the tipping point, and the city no longer has the ability to dial back this problem. While we can build the remaining planned roads through the Whittaker-Bermite property to alleviate some of the traffic congestion on Soledad and Bouquet Canyon roads, nothing has been proposed to help other impacted areas, such as Soledad Canyon east of Sand Canyon, which backs up badly every day.

The cause has been the General Plan (OVOV) predicting the problem while promoting development without putting effective traffic mitigations in place. The best we can hope for is the city council taking action to keep traffic congestion from getting worse, but I would not hold my breath. A couple of weeks ago, my column included excerpts from the Circulation Element, you might want to go back and have another look.

As far as the incumbent’s positions, Ms. Laurene Weste indicated the OVOV General Plan is a good plan. Not perfect, but good, and her goal for the next four years is to protect what we already have. She foresees the city’s future housing shortage to be solved by “infill,” which “refers to building within unused and underutilized lands within existing development patterns.” Over the years, I watched development in the west San Fernando Valley, during the time I worked in Woodland Hills. Infill translated to replacing single family dwellings with apartment buildings, creating even more population density. Do you really want to see the same happen in our valley?

The other incumbent, Ms. Marsha McLean, tells us the importance of her experience and relationships she has established with numerous groups, such as the California League of Cities and transportation-related committees. Ms. McLean was quoted in The Signal on July 11 saying, “So when you have an organization with 480 cities and we’re all on the same page, we can and we have made a difference.”

I wonder what has been accomplished. It was only two years ago when Measure M (for Metro), Measure H (for homeless) and a county park’s parcel tax, were passed. Each one of these initiatives made Santa Clarita a major contributor, but we will be getting little in return.

Appointed incumbent, Mr. Bill Miranda, is currently the most approachable of the five incumbent councilmembers. He answers his cell phone and returns text messages with regularity. He indicated his tenure, since being appointed to the council, has provided him the opportunity to come up to speed. He wants to use the knowledge he has gained to serve for the next four years. My only misgiving with Mr. Miranda is, his taking up the self-serving mantra of telling us about “all the other cities who are envious of Santa Clarita.” I would hope, if elected, he would discontinue the “city self-promotion” and turn his attention toward fixing some of our outstanding problems.

Of the challengers, my first choice is Mr. TimBen Boydston. During Mr. Boydston’s previous tenure as a city councilmember, he openly recognized the problems being created by our current General Plan’s circulation element, took up the fight against digital billboards, CEMEX, and the chloride scam. He is the challenger with the most knowledge of Santa Clarita city issues, and he knows how our present form of city government operates. While some of our residents may fault Mr. Boydston’s presentation style, more information was brought before the public at city council meetings during his tenure, than ever before or after.
Ms. Diane Trautman served several terms as a Planning Commissioner. Her experience makes her the most knowledgeable candidate in the area of land use. So, I was concerned when I saw her campaign material talk about the Santa Clarita Valley’s population doubling in the next 30 years. Looking out on the web, the city lists its population as approximately 213,000. The best figures I could get for the unincorporated county was an additional 63,000, putting the total valley-wide population at approximately 278,000. Doubling the current population yields a total of 556,000, which is even 93,000 more than the 483,000-buildout number reported in The Signal on April 21, “Building boom is according to plan.” If we house that many more residents in high-density housing, you’d better look for a job where you work from home, because getting around the city will eat up most of your day. Ms. Trautman needs to lay out a clear plan as to how she would handle such a large population increase.

Mr. Jason Gibbs is a bright newcomer to city politics. I like the guy. He is personable, easy to talk with, and comes across very sincere. I think if he sticks with his ambition to sit in a councilmembers seat for the next two years, becomes more knowledgeable about city issues, and stays visible to the public, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Today, however, with his number one issue being the formation of a public safety commission, he demonstrates a lack of connection to the most pressing every day Santa Clarita issues of traffic congestion, homelessness, and affordable housing.

I feel fortunate to have been able to connect with almost every one of the 15 city council candidates. Getting to know some of the new friendly faces, like Sankalp Varma, was a pleasure, and I would like to continue staying in contact with each of them. I harbor no ill will for any of the candidates. Each candidate should understand this column represents my honest opinion, and I hope each of you will take my comments to heart, in a most constructive way.

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