He Nailed It
Peter Walker Hunt‘s letter (“Put the Fires Out!” MJ #23/51) brings out the stunning reality of what our communities have just gone through. Current federal policy on wildfire management is choking us in the smoke of burned tax dollars. The devastation and death of wildlife is a by-product of the “goal line” set within a day or two of the first flame. Yes, we can set records, but why? And is that record worth everything that was torched in its path? Our previous land stewards lit controlled burns at appropriate times, minimizing loss of watershed and wildlife.
(Editor’s note: Right you are, Mr. Brown. Up until perhaps 30 years ago, communities at risk of fire and/or flood – and usually both – were able to take matters into their own hands and do a little pre-planning consisting of clearing brush in creeks and overseeing limited controlled burns when conditions were safe. Today, virtually nothing can be or is done to prepare our backcountry. We just sit around and wait for disaster every year. And, funny enough, disaster arrives with some regularity. Only drastic changes in direction and governance is likely to improve this situation. – J.B.)
A Walk in the Park
We enjoy Manning Park for walking and picnicking and just enjoying the quiet beauty that is within a short drive from our home. Today, it was the site of a community sandbag operation that was a sight to see. Two large mountains of sand, piles of bags, shovels flying, and a whole lot of friendly banter. Local fire personnel were on hand, as well as a number of outgoing and helpful volunteers. It was good to see the broad range of people there who call Montecito home – young, old, and in between – everyone calmly working together, sharing shovels, and exchanging experienced tips on how to get the most out of a sandbag. The esprit de corps was palpable, and it made me feel good to be working side by side with others who were personally and physically involved in protecting our community.
Giant thanks to our fire department and the Montecito Association for bringing us together in common cause.
(Editor’s note: And a reminder that sandbags and sand are always available for the asking at Firehouse #1 on San Ysidro Road. – J.B.)
Regarding Richard Mineards‘s column (“Something to Bragg About,” MJ #23/51): apple cider vinegar (ACV) cured my “incurable” (a doctor’s exact word) arthritic gout. He said I would need to be on medication the rest of my life. Instead, I discovered the old Edgar Cayce remedy of combining two teaspoons of ACV and two teaspoons of honey in an eight-ounce glass of water.
Following Circadian rhythms, I avoided it for breakfast (instead, eating a ciderized whole apple), and drank the ACV combination with my lunch and dinner. I stopped my medication in 1970 and haven’t the slightest trace of “incurable” arthritis since. Actually, I take no medication whatsoever, enjoying my longevity and my lifestyle without the benefits of modern medicine.
“Vibrant Gal” and I enjoy seeing the Lady in Pink (Patricia Bragg) whenever she makes an appearance at the downtown Santa Barbara farmers market.
(Editor’s note: I frequently ran into Ms Bragg here at Montecito Natural Foods but haven’t seen the always cheerful lady for some time. I do hear, however, that she continues to promote her healthful products. – J.B.)
Plaque at the Park
Henry Muller, ever the patriarch of Montecito, contacted my wife, Jean, regarding an idea he and several friends had relative to the Thomas Fire. It was their thought that efforts should be made to acknowledge and show our deep appreciation and respect of the over 8,000 men and women who assisted in the suppression of that fire.
His further idea was to have a commemorative plaque placed in our small park at San Ysidro and East Valley Road. I would suggest that a small committee of five or seven, manageable size, be formed to head such an effort. I also believe that the plaque should contain the names of all organizations that contributed personnel.
To assist in that phase, Chip Hickman, as well as ex-chief Ron McClain, would be helpful.
Davis von Wittenburg
Weeding out the Ranks
Three months ago, The New York Times thrust a dagger through Harvey Weinstein’s heart, and before the blood dried on the murder instrument, the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences), without thought or reflection, yanked Harvey’s membership rights to this exclusive elitist inner sanctum of the cinematic arts.
It’s not that there weren’t members in good standing years ago that didn’t bring shame upon AMPAS but go unpunished; Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski can still vote on Academy Oscar nominations after those are released later this month.
What to do, though, with Casey Affleck, James Toback, Brett Rattner, and Kevin Spacey? How ’bout Dustin Hoffman? Or the myriad other lesser lights caught treating women like chattel?
Does the Academy expel all these moral midgets too? Or give them a pass like Cosby and Polanski?
With the list of the accused growing every week, do they (Academy Board of Governors) take the lead from a militant feminist lobby and drive out all the miscreants who looked untoward at any female on the set? If so, this could lead to a severe weeding out of the membership ranks. Worse yet, it undoubtedly would result in a swarm of less vetted charges against anybody who acted ungentlemanly.
Were he alive, Jimmy Stewart couldn’t escape this secular inquisition.
The AMPAS is probably the most vertically liberal/secular organization – top to bottom – of any professional group in the country. They are certainly no less doctrinaire liberal/socialist than the American Historical Association or American Association of University Professors. The few non-liberal, non-revolutionary members who do get accepted within the ranks of these groups, however, need not bother applying for leadership positions. They’ll never hear back. The litmus test wouldn’t allow these prospects to get to first base.
The essence of liberalism/socialism is that the mind must be placed in a backroom closet while the heart does the leading, front and center, fueled by emotion. Risk management is not a course associated with majoring in liberalism/socialism.
Assessing future fallout from the consequences of blindly following emotion-driven actions is not something left-wing ideologues even think of doing beforehand. Leftists are forever hanging themselves by their own petard.
One way or another, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will hang itself by the ropes of its own hypocrisy.
David S. McCalmont
Trump’s First Year
2017 was a good year for President Trump. And this was in spite of anti-Trump Democrats, progressives, Republican Never-Trumpers, and a very biased media.
For starters, the year ended with the biggest tax reform since 1986. And, according to the White House, there were 81 important rollbacks of “progressive assaults on the Constitution.” Trump started with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and the appointment of 12 Appeals Court judges (originalists all). Their influence will shape our government for years.
On the economic front, tax reform will survive and cutting regulations has saved $8 billion so far. Add the good news that there has been more than 3% GDP growth for three quarters, 1.7 million new jobs, a stock market up 28%, unemployment at its lowest since 2000, and a 17-year economic confidence high.
On the foreign front, the president has started to repair the damage done to America’s image and prestige. He also increased sanctions on Iran, refused to certify the disastrous Iran deal, bombed a Syrian airfield and destroyed a fifth of Assad’s jet fighters, took the gloves off our military, ended ISIS’s “caliphate,” rolled back Obama’s concessions to Cuba and began to strengthen our military. Most recently, Trump defended Western Civilization in Poland, unleashed UN ambassador Nikki Haley against a very anti-American/anti-Israel UN, and announced the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the United States. In short, America is getting its international mojo back under President Trump.
Yes, 2017 was an important year for our president. America has become great again. Let’s hope 2018 will continue this trend.
Time to Defund PP
Don’t you just love it when Planned Parenthood’s (PP) own annual report is proof they don’t need our tax money? Their latest annual report (2016-2017) just came out, and according to them, their revenue was $1.46 billion, so please don’t tell me they’re hurting for cash.
With revenue of $1.46 billion, they continue to insist they need money from the government. It’s time to de-fund these monsters. Here’s the link to the report: https://t.co/iDJ6trtvqn.
I’m offended not only by the ghastly business they run, but also as a taxpayer I’m offended by a federally funded organization supporting candidates I don’t support, with my tax money. They play the “poor women need health care from Planned Parenthood” card while they line the pockets of Democrats who make sure their funding continues. Who says crime doesn’t pay?
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could make a pretty solid case that we are being subverted from within, by virtue of the fact that while liberals de-populate the country through the abortion mills, these very same liberals are the impetus behind the re-population of our country with any and all the flotsam and jetsam that make it across our borders legally or illegally.
There is absolutely no reason that a company – non-profit or otherwise – should be getting federal financial help when it has revenue of $1.46 billion. It’s about time our “leaders” in D.C. listened and defunded them.
Right, President Trump?
(Editor’s note: Our government spends way too much money on way too many programs; Planned Parenthood is just one of probably thousands of “non-profits” whose funds should be cut back if not completely eliminated. – J.B.)
Ray’s Ramblings: Terrorism and Jihad: a Different Perspective
The headlines scream almost daily of the fanatical terrorists who attack the unsuspecting and unprotected of the world. They are called out as not having any character or moral compass. They are called “fanatical misfits,” “radical Muslim religious zealots,” “maniacal murderers,” or simply “crazed.”
Christians, Jews, and most other faiths and religious orders are taught forgiveness, peace, and benevolence toward their fellow man. Although the Old Testament recites acts of violence, it is often couched in rhetorical terms and as examples of the implementation of faith, and is certainly rarely carried out in practice in the modern world. It is extremely rare that violence for the sake of violence is taught in most modern Western and Asian religious orders. The teachings and fundamental preaching of peace, the goodness of man, and respect for one another in most religions is taught from an early age, and if not in a formal religious setting, certainly in the parlance of school and most homes, even among non-believers.
There is certainly the principle of an eye for an eye practiced as relates to behavior outside the social norm… whatever that happens to be in historical context, and local or national customs and practice. People are imprisoned for foul deeds, as they should be. Punishment obviously varies in “Western-type” cultures but rarely exceeds what the world perceives as excessive. You can receive public retribution for spitting out your gum in the street of Singapore, or even a few whips from a cane, but that would be about the most excessive punishment for a “minor” offense of which I can think.
Most of the world lives, in varying degrees, in the shadow of criminal elements, both from the populace and from some governments. The range in intensity is quite different from one place to another and has varied widely over time as well.
A Minor Threat
However, the terrorist movement is something fairly new to us in the United States, and especially abhorrent in much of the so-called civilized world. It is also troublesome for politicians, as the populace at large increasingly look to them for the solution to all their problems, with terrorism currently being high on the list. A problem for which they have almost no solution(s). The United States suffered about 3,300 terrorist-related deaths from 1994 to 2016.
From a pragmatic and purely analytical standpoint, terrorism is actually a minor threat to the average North American, compared to other death and injury risks. According to OSHA, about 32,000 deaths result from slipping and falling each year, with another 4.8 million injured… 1.6 million requiring medical attention or hospitalization. About 35,000 Americans commit suicide each year, over half related to mental health issues. NSF reports there were 38,300 U.S. automobile deaths in 2015, and 4.4 million serious injuries with up to 25% being alcohol related. There were 17,250 murders in the U.S. in 2016, approximately 11,000 with guns… 5% of them in Chicago alone. About 89,000 people die in the U.S. from alcohol and alcohol-related illness each year. Drug overdose accounted for an additional 47,000 deaths in 2014, and an estimated 58,000 in 2016. Smoking causes about 440,000 deaths per year with a financial burden of more than $250 billion per year. As many as 380,000 people in the U.S. die needlessly each year from diseases, mistakes committed, and infections while in our hospitals. Hospital-induced deaths in Bangkok are less than 8% of the rate in the U.S., and are less than half that in Japan.
Total annual non-natural deaths from the above causes are about 1 million people per year, or the entire population of Montana. About 22 million non-natural deaths from 1994-2016, or the entire population of Florida.
A Sense of Priority
As a nation, we certainly have a host of death-related problems that deserve our attention. The above numbers are staggering compared to the roughly 3,300 deaths due to terrorist attacks over the last 22 years from 1994-2016. Except for the 2,902 who died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, the total is less than 400, including 86 Americans who died in attacks outside the U.S.
Including all deaths from terror attacks, the average is about 19 deaths per year, not including 9/11 and 145 per year including 9/11. The murder rate in Chicago alone (mostly preventable) is 500% higher than that, in Baltimore 200% higher, and other cities such as St Louis are quick to willingly add to the statistics. Many of the roughly 22 million deaths that have occurred over the same time frame cited in the statistics above could have been saved. Doesn’t that speak loudly to our sense of priorities and allocation of valuable resources? That is a ratio of 690,000%!
Obviously, not all those could have been saved, but if 10% – 2,200,000 – could have been saved, it is still a ratio of 69,000% compared to terrorist-related deaths. Just saving that many lives would have a positive impact on the U.S. economy of at least $2 trillion.
I think you are beginning to get the idea.
Now, the last thing I want to convey is a lack of sympathy for those poor souls and their families, who were slaughtered by misdirected psychotic animals who took the lives of people they did not even know. It represents the antithesis of the belief system held by almost all Judeo-Christians, as well as other societies. The thought of losing a family member or close friend in such a horrific act is unthinkable for most citizens and has certainly captured the attention of politicians eager to capitalize on the issue and spend inordinate amounts of money to solve the problem, as if money is the answer to all problems.
It is politically expedient for fat-bottom politicians to use the current terrorist flash point for their own political gain and exploitation and to feed at the trough of fundraising for their next election. In the end, they do little to solve most of the larger problems facing their constituents and America at large, such as those cited above. Much of their time is spent making sure they have the money and connections to get re-elected and a well-paying job after leaving office. I worked in Washington for more than 20 years, and know the drill well indeed, even if the average American doesn’t. While there, watching their behavior, I referred to many of them as political whores. There were also many, indeed most, who were there to do good and serve the public but thwarted at every turn by the ingrates of the establishment/old boy club. Many of the good guys eventually became almost as jaded as well.
Religion of Peace?
If you look at the terrorist issue through the eyes of the terrorist, you could argue that they are only carrying out the teachings of their religion from the strict point of view of the true basis of their religious teachings. They are simply following the teachings of Mohammad. The strictly interpreted Muslim religion has an underlying proclivity for violence toward any person or movement that is not in absolute compliance and agreement with the teaching of the Koran and Mohammad.
Strictly speaking, it is all too often taught that it is not only acceptable but encouraged and a duty that the true believer should seek out the infidel (meaning any non-believer) and “smite him down and destroy him, his family and his property.” The radical clerics frequently misquote and preach this tenet for their own divisive purposes. So, in the eyes of what we call a terrorist, it is the liberal or westernized element of the Muslim faith that has gone astray and has been hijacked and radicalized, at least from the view of the terrorist. Liberal Muslims are viewed by the terrorists almost as much the enemy as the infidel.
It is the basic misunderstanding of our society and our political leaders that misses or ignores this message. This lack of understanding causes us to fail in our realistic assessment of the problem. The strictly faithful Muslim, as taught by many clerics, is what we call a terrorist. In fact, he is just carrying out what he has been taught almost from birth to be his right, his obligation, and such brainwashing is either difficult or downright impossible to reverse.
This point is brought home by recent polls showing that up to 50% of Muslims worldwide, even among the liberals, think these attacks and suicide bombings are acceptable, if not encouraged. In parts of Africa and even parts of the mid-East, that acceptance grows to as much as 70 to 80%!
The average American, and their politicians, simply don’t understand the length and breadth of what we call the war on terrorism as practiced by the radical Muslim movement. We call these terrorists depraved psychopaths. They view themselves as devoutly religious. The chasm between these two points of view brings the problem into sharper focus.
What to Do
In nearly all cases of recent terrorist attacks, the trail inevitably leads back to a mosque and to one or more dedicated militant clerics who have no intention of preaching the integration of followers into the mainstream of American society. In most cases, what we call “militant clerics” are going to preach exactly the opposite and adding murder and mayhem to boot. They do their best to imbue their followers with the precise, unadorned principles of their strictly interpreted Muslim faith… a path that is the opposite of what mainstream Americans and most Muslims believe in.
We have religious freedom in America; that is the freedom to pray to the god you want, respect the right of others to do the same, live in peace, and obey the laws of the United States. Religious freedom does not extend to the persecution and acts of violence toward those with whom one does not agree. Those acts need to be dealt with swiftly and with certainty. The PC police frequently insert themselves, usually for the sake of votes, into the fray and routinely side with those who are no more than ordinary thugs. A church should not be allowed to foster such behavior any more than someone yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. In my mind, such teachings border on conspiracy to commit crimes and should be dealt with accordingly.
Teaching people to kill one another because of their beliefs is not only bordering on unlawful, but is despicable and the antithesis of the basic beliefs of America and all civilized societies worldwide.
What should we do, if anything? I don’t know. If you know, send me your plan, or better yet, send it to your Congress member, so he or she can put it in the “circular file.” At least, it might make you feel better for having sent it.
As my grandmother used to say, “I just tells it like it is.” So please, don’t shoot the messenger.
Keep the faith.
THE USA QUIZ Kid
Here’s a scramble of letters:
You can unscramble them to yield a Canadian province and its capital city.
Your December USA challenge: Unscramble the letters to yield a state name and its capital city.
(You’ll find the answers on page ???)
Answers to quiz from page ???
1. GEORGIA … ATLANTA
2. KENTUCKY… FRANKFORT
3. MINNESOTA…ST. PAUL
4. MICHIGAN… LANSING
5. MONTANA… HELENA
6. NORTH DAKOTA …BISMARCK
7. NEW MEXICO …SANTA FE
8. NEW HAMPSHIRE… CONCORD
9. MARYLAND …ANNAPOLIS
10. VIRGINIA… RICHMOND
Sanderson M. Smith, Ed.D.
(Mr. Smith is a retired math teacher from Cate School and Santa Barbara City College.)