Honoring the Fallen

By Montecito Journal   |   May 31, 2018

A recent incident in Los Angeles caught my attention and has really troubled me. A high school teacher was fired for his reaction and rant to a student wearing a shirt that had the word Marines on it. His diatribe on the status of anyone in the military as being the “lowest of the low” and that “only the dumb and stupid people are members of the military. They are not high-level thinkers; they are not academic people,” to quote his exact words. 

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated rant that was solely his alone. I’ve experienced that undertone for quite some time as many of the ROTC units are shut down in California’s public schools. Santa Barbara High School closed the program down a number of years ago. Many of the veterans, who once spoke regularly in public schools, have been told not to show up anymore. Military recruiters are no longer allowed on school campuses. These anti military undertones are alarming and troubling for the future of the U.S. One has to question whether our future defenders will come from only red states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, and other more conservative parts of America.

I grew up in San Diego, where everyone was related or connected to one of the military bases that existed there. I was in my junior year at UCSB in 1963 when I received my draft notice, which read: “Upon graduation you will report.” I had been in mandatory ROTC in ’60-61 and had filled that requirement. I did not enjoy the marching and drill, and resented the intrusion into my valuable surfing time. But all of us were there together and understood something of the importance of the training. By 1965, I graduated and joined up for naval flight school in Pensacola, Florida. Spending the next five years training and flying for the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. Those five years were to shape and impact my life far beyond what I had expected. The men I served with were a great cross-section of America. There were so many fine, intelligent, and more talented, dedicated, and brighter men than myself. 

That experience was to lead me, many years later after family and career, to being a part of our local veterans community. The ensuing interaction with veterans of all services and conflicts since WWII has been enjoyable and enlightening. Military service is not for everyone, but those who do serve should be respected and not shunned. The fabric of our society includes academics, clerics, artists, and many other categories, including warriors. The combination is what America is all about and has made this nation like no other. Our history is unmatched from its birth to the present day. During all these years, our country has been blessed with leaders who were from every walk of life. George Washington was our first incredible president, and he was a general who had been a warrior nearly his entire life; other veterans who occupied this great office – Jackson, Taylor, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and finally [George] H.W. Bush – were of the same mold. 

All the above leads me to May 28, Memorial Day, and the ceremonies that honor our fallen. This one day of remembrance is like no other, and hopefully people will take time to attend. It’s free and lasts only an hour. The Santa Barbara Cemetery is a breathtaking setting and combined with the Santa Barbara Choral Society’s 60+ singers, the vintage military vehicles, the many uniforms and flags, make the event truly beautiful and memorable. The pomp and circumstance with bagpipes, bugles, and resplendent Color Guard create an atmosphere rich in patriotism, honor, and remembrance. 

We need to remind ourselves of our history, heritage, and the price hundreds of thousands of men and women have paid for our freedom. 

In conclusion, we must remember Calvin Coolidge’s observation: “A nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”

John W. Blankenship
Co-founding director, PCVF
Former lieutenant, U.S. Navy

(Editor’s note: The service you and PCVF conducted at Santa Barbara Cemetery on Memorial Day was both moving and memorable; thank you for it all. – J.B.)

Looking for Liberals

When someone asks me why I am a conservative, I point out the fact that America is the first nation in history formed not by a king or tyrant, not on religious foundations, not by race, ethnicity, or religion, but on a belief that rights and freedoms come from a divine creator. I can expound on an idea that limited government, low taxes, and reasonable regulation foster a climate of economic growth and a sense of self responsibility, self-reliance, and industriousness that has made us the greatest nation in history.

I can connect these principles to our founding fathers and their philosophies, rooted in the Enlightenment, the Reformation, and early Roman and Greek civilizations. I can point to many historical societies where government got too big and/or tyrants too powerful. I believe there is no place on earth, at any time in the history of mankind that I or anyone from any other background would rather be living than in these United States in these times. When I ask a liberal what is their philosophy, all I hear is the Republicans and DJT [Donald John Trump] are horrible and fascists. No connection to anything historically anywhere. This frustrates me, as I know these people are voting.

I would hope someone, somewhere, could expound to me as to why they are liberals.

Mike Hornbuckl

(Editor’s note: Our guess is that you, in fact, will hear from someone explaining why he or she is a liberal after reading this, so let’s wait and see. – J.B.)

A John Cox Surprise

Although votes have not yet been counted, pollsters and most media pundits are telling us who the next governor of California will be Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco and current lieutenant governor, is their anointed winner.

There are five other candidates in the race, but after the Tuesday, June 5, primary only two candidates will be left to compete for the final vote in November. It does seem highly likely that Newsom will make the final cut in June, but it is not at all clear who his opponent will be in the final runoff. Some political columnists have run articles in which they state that Newsom preferred to run against John Cox, the leading Republican candidate. The idea is that betting on any Democrat running against a Republican in California is a sure thing, and the Democrat can already select in June his office furnishings: the carpets, drapes, and an espresso machine (to serve lattes to his elite supporters).

But, not so fast – could there be a surprise, even in California, similar to what happened in the 2016 presidential election? Hillary Clinton was the sure thing in that election. She was way ahead in the polls, supported by most of the media and the establishment; her opponent, a business man with no political experience, was deemed unfit for the office. The post-election analysis is that Hillary was over-confident, ran a poor campaign, and made too many serious gaffes, the most serious perhaps having lumped all who supported her opponent’s proposals in a “basket of deplorables.”

Gavin Newsom, much like Hillary, is the darling of the privileged classes and is relying on support of liberal cities, especially San Francisco and Los Angeles. Also, like Hillary in debates, he is short on substance and many unbiased observers have been surprised by his poor performance. Newsom’s inability to connect with average, working-class voters can potentially create an opening for John Cox, if he makes it to the runoff against Newsom. Also, looking at Newsom’s record in San Francisco, he oversaw a housing crisis, a growth in homelessness, increasing crime, and deplorable conditions in some neighborhoods. Again similar to the 2016 election, the counties may play a major role in offsetting Newsom’s advantages in liberal cities. Coloring counties blue or red, as they lean Democrat or Republican, the map of California shows more red than blue counties.

Based on all the above similarities between the 2016 presidential election and the governor’s race in California, one may ask is Newsom about to pull a “Hillary Clinton” gaffe? Newsom might want to reconsider his preference for the Republican opponent, John Cox, who is focusing his campaign on helping the average voter in the working class, not the privileged classes. Also, if pundits don’t want to see some reporters crying on TV again in 2018, they should withhold their support for Newsom until he can select his office furnishings with certainty. 

Albert Mercado
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: It’s difficult to ascertain whether you are voting for John Cox or Mr. Villaraigosa, but this should be a warning to all Republican voters: Regardless of who or what you are voting for on the rest of your ballot, you should vote for John Cox because if he doesn’t come in second and get his name on the November ballot, his absence could endanger the Republican Party’s hold on the U.S. House of Representatives by suppress and discouraging the Republican vote in this state, giving Democrats the edge in a number of House District races. Don’t fall into the trap of voting for Villaraigosa with the hope he can beat Newsom. Republicans need the House of Representatives more than they need the governorship of California. Besides, Mr. Cox has just as good a chance of beating Mr. Newsom as Mr. Villaraigosa has. – J.B.

Wondering Why

I am wondering why you would publish a letter to the editor that you state you cannot decipher…? The writer of “The Art of the Deal” offers conspiracy theories about HRC and the Democratic Party and you publish it… because… why? 

Here is a challenge for you – publish mine! My letter contains conspiracy only if you think these affidavits are fake news, or that the accuser is lying. The accuser was 14 years old at the time of the crime, and so your letter to the editor author share the same hope, and that is “to save the children.” www.scribd.com/doc/316341058/Donald-Trump-Jeffrey-Epstein-Rape-Lawsuit-and-Affidavits.

The accuser dropped the case at a press conference because of death threats against her, and this reality can be fact-checked. Hope to be published even if “you can’t figure out what I am referring to”…

Michele Morrow

(Editor’s note: Now, I really am confused. It was former president Bill Clinton who joined Mr. Epstein on the “Lolita Express,” so how does that affect the author of The Art of the Deal? – J.B.)

Bored and Restless

In a recent letter to the editor, John Blankenship showed his choice for sheriff in the June election. I understand and respect Mr. Blankenship’s preference for the current sheriff, Bill Brown. However, at the end of his announcement, he stated: “Vote for Bill Brown on June 5 and end the costly ego contest backed by bored and restless union members.”

I very much appreciate Mr. Blankenship’s dedication to our country and our veterans. However, I strongly disagree with his assessment that those who challenge an incumbent are there for “ego.” Bill Brown challenged an incumbent sheriff when he was first elected. Was that ego? 

More importantly, I am offended by his comment regarding “bored and restless union members.” Those members he referred to are the deputies, firefighters, and communications dispatchers that were and still are in his community due to the fire and debris flow. Mr. Blankenship, I respect your choice for sheriff, but you owe an apology to the brave men and women who you claim are “bored and restless.” They have the same right to support their chosen candidate.

Jim Thomas

Turning Dreams into Treasure

Join us on Thursday, June 7, from 5 to 7 pm at Paradise Found Book Store, 17 East Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara for a book signing of The Seven Secrets of Turning Your Dreams into Treasure.

Mythology tells us it is a Golden Ball and there is a longing to recover it, and that longing drives one to the quest to bring it home. All great journeys start out when something needs to be recognized or recovered. At midlife is where this longing really is intensified. On the other hand, in our youth, this yearning is masked by illusions and hormones. There is because there is no one there to guide. The golden ball is stolen, lost, and or ignored and sadly, most never even know it has gone missing.

The Seven Secrets opens the hidden thresholds that reveal the “way” into the mystery. It is a call to adventure, revealing the cryptic clues of which direction to travel, skills, talents, attitudes, and relationships that will be needed to complete the journey; not but once, but the ability to enter into the mystery and bring back the treasures into the village again and again and again.

Are you ready?

Nino Maiani
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Mr. Maiani says he received the “call” to adventure after graduating from UCSB with a major in experimental psychology. The talented Maiani family has been a Santa Barbara and Montecito mainstay for many decades; we go back with them for at least three-plus of those decades. Nino played guitar at my daughter Lily‘s wedding at the beachfront home of the remarkably generous Nina Terzian; Nino is a highly regarded musician and – something I did not know – has been a spiritual leader and professional life coach/mentor for more than 30 years. – J.B.)


(from left) Teresa Taylor, owner of Paradise Found Bookstore, joins in celebrating the publication of Nino Maiani’s The Seven Secrets of Turning Your Dreams into Treasure the book signing takes place on Thursday, June 7, at Paradise Found

Me Too! Me Too!

Many of you think of The Who album when you think of who’s next. Unfortunately, I now think of the “Me too” movement: Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, and on and on. I was so scared the other day when Mr. Rogers from the neighborhood’s name popped up on my screen.

Thank goodness it was an advertisement for a documentary and not another “Me too” connection.

Steve Marko

All in the Numbers

Most gang members wear clothing, have tattoos, flash hand signs, and/or draw graffiti that identifies their gang affiliations. A large number of the tattoos and urban art contain the telephone area code identifying the gang’s city, county, or region of control. If telephone area codes within certain metropolitan locations were changed, gang tattoos, graffiti, and hand signs would be rendered inaccurate, outdated, and confusing.

For example, many of the 50 gangs sporting the number 213 in their logos and tattoos are identified with Los Angeles County. The 510 area code is incorporated or camouflaged within the tattoos of nearly 40 gangs in the Oakland and the Bay Area.

Swapping the 214 and 469 area codes of Dallas with the 510 of Oakland, California, and the 305 of Miami would result in cross-country rival gangs wearing their opponents’ area code-tattoos. Recruiting new members would be difficult, producing confusing and internal leadership turmoil. Tattoos containing the original area codes would have to be reconfigured once new area codes are assigned. Ink parlors would have to work overtime and “legacy” gang members would be less inclined to flash their outdated area codes, resulting in fewer confrontations and more free time for oil painting and meditation.

The cost of this “transformation” would be quite high, as businesses struggle to revise their letterheads, business cards, and websites every five years, but if it saves one life, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Everyone is “thinking outside the box” on this one, but the solutions may be underneath it.

Dale Lowdermilk
Santa Barbara

SCE Says “Down with the Eucs”

Southern California Edison (SCE) and its agents continue to rely on hunches, lack of knowledge, and determination to slaughter the Eucalyptus on Park Lane. Again recently, a significant acorn woodpecker granary was destroyed. The tree beyond the outer layers where woodpeckers store food, there is no evidence of decay, none. Same holds true up and down Park Lane. This tree was at 700 Park Lane. It was a major granary for many woodpeckers without doubt but sick, decayed, or dying? No way! Trees can be tested without having to destroy the patient. 

Park Lane is under serious attack by the SCE tree trimmers/removers. Trees destined for removal are marked with an X . Trees designated to be topped are designated with a large spot or circle.

Drive by and see for yourself. 

Why does SCE not just get on with undergrounding the utilities now that the roads need to be rebuilt anyway? Instead of the rapacious tree program robbing Montecito of more of its scenic beauty.

Doug and Nancy Norberg

A Workable Solution

Another week, another tragic school shooting. Should we arm the teachers? Or disarm everyone? Here is a workable solution: The 2nd Amendment predicates gun ownership on the necessity of a “well-ordered militia.” All Congress needs to do is to define “well-ordered militia” and restrict gun ownership to those groups. Clearly, state police and National Guard are well-ordered militia. Local police, transit police, and campus police would all qualify. Gun clubs with restrictive membership policies, intensive training programs, regular meetings and careful weapon registration records might also qualify. Even local chapters of the NRA might meet those conditions.

Current law does not allow us to take guns away from everyone. But this plan would help us disarm criminals, loner psychopaths, and adolescents too young to form good judgment about firearms.

Guy Strickland 
Santa Barbara

Going Next Year Too

We just got back from the Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday in spring. Did you miss it? Don’t make the same mistake next year! Kudos to the Pearl Chase Society for master-planning this community event. The chosen homes represented five distinct architectural styles, and each and every one of them exuded its own fascinating time in history. The unique and sophisticated personalities of the homeowners were on display, too. We were bowled over by the insight, knowledge, and genuine friendliness of the team of drivers, greeters, house managers, docents, and homeowners; each of them made us feel welcome and wanted; their enthusiasm was contagious.

The only flaw – and we’re not complaining – was that the tour was apparently over-subscribed; there was no space at the mandatory parking lot and we waited nearly an hour past our scheduled ticket time for the van, but we were not turned away at the last home despite arriving a half-hour past closing time. Instead, we were graciously urged to come on in and enjoy the house and gardens. We’re eagerly looking forward to next year and another chance to see inside more of Montecito’s extraordinary historic homes.

Diane and Garrett Graham

School Shootings

Instead of asking what role guns, drugs, or mental health may play in school shootings, perhaps we should ask what role the “school institution” may play: confinement, boredom, indoctrination, pressure, bullying, impersonality, et cetera. One thing sure: absent crowded public schools, there would be fewer mass shooting opportunities. Another thing sure: absent the public-school monopoly, humans would still think and learn as they always have, but likely more happily; according to their individual interests and abilities. 

“School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, brutal violations of common sense and common decency. It doesn’t take a reasonably bright boy long to discover that most of what is rammed into him is nonsense, and that no one really cares very much whether he learns it or not.” – H.L. Mencken

Steve King

Third Party Law Firms

My firm is working closely with Montecito residents on all matters concerning First Party insurance claims: matters involving claimants’ own homeowners and business insurance policies.

In addition, we have been carefully evaluating a number of different lawyers and firms that are representing Montecito residents in cases involving Third Party claims: cases against entities alleged to have caused the fire and subsequent mudflow. The Third Party litigation is seeking damages beyond the contractual damages recoverable in the homeowners and business cases.

I am writing at this time to endorse and recommend the team of attorneys that I believe will best represent the interests of claimants in these Third Party cases. This team consists of three firms: Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP (Frank Pitre); Panish, Shea & Boyle, LLP (Brian Panish, Rahul Ravipudi); and Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger (Mike Kelly).

This group represents the finest trial lawyers in the state, with extensive experience in the prosecution of mass tort and wildfire litigation. Frank Pitre led litigation against the utility giant PG&E arising from the San Bruno Explosion and Fire in 2010 and the Butte Wildfire Litigation in 2015. Pitre, Mike Kelly, and Brian Panish were recently appointed to lead the North Bay Fire Litigation in San Francisco. They have extensive experience prosecuting cases against utilities. 

While based in California, the practice of these firms and their reputation is nationwide. They have won record verdicts and settlements in multi-plaintiff cases throughout the country and have been repeatedly selected by their peers to lead the most prestigious professional organizations in the United States. In my opinion, few lawyers in America can match their achievements, credibility, high ethical standards, or dedication to their clients. 

In the coming days, we will be sending important information with details about how to add your name to the plaintiffs being represented in the Third Party cases. We are planning a June event for Montecito homeowners and business owners, where you can meet the other lawyers and speak with me regarding any questions you may have pertaining to your current insurance issues. I look forward to seeing you all.

Ray Bourhis
Montecito/San Francisco

Keep the Sheriff

We hired Bill Brown to protect us, and he has done as good or better than any sheriff has ever done. The last thing we need is to experiment with a new sheriff. California has a total of only 58 sheriffs. Choosing the right and best person to lead and represent them is a decision they take very seriously. For 2017-18, the Sheriffs of California elected our own Sheriff Brown to be their president. Not surprisingly, the police chiefs of California did the same thing in 2005 when Brown was chief of police in Lompoc. He is the only person ever to have served as president of both the California State Sheriffs and California Police Chiefs Associations.

One of Bill’s opponents is endorsed by the deputy sheriffs’ union. The union’s primary interest is in increased pay and benefits, which is not the sheriff’s primary interest. His first priority is to protect public safety. 

Isla Vista’s extreme weekend parties and often dangerous Halloween and Deltopia events have been brought under control. When called for, Sheriff Brown creatively used collaboration and the law to solve these chronic problems.

Sheriff Brown pushed for and succeeded in finally getting a much-needed new jail underway. This has been a multi-year effort, and he never let up. He obtained $80 million from the state to build the jail, which is under construction and will be finished early next year. This new jail will be a place of rehabilitation and learning a trade, a place for inmates to get a fresh start and become productive citizens again.

Sheriff Brown leads with his heart, not a heavy hand. He is truly a special man. Please join me in voting to re-elect him on June 5. 

Lad Handelman
Santa Barbara

Ennisbrook Joins in

I always try to speak positives. Honestly. Now I have something positive to say about Ennisbrook.

On a recent Monday and Tuesday, the entire end of my cul-de-sac was cleared of mud. In two days. I could not believe my eyes. No mud on the end of the cul-de-sac. The mud was cleared from around the oak trees part-way up the street in the forest. Debris is still left, but the improvement for the oak trees is significant. It seems as though it will continue. Thank God. And thank the Montecito Journal.

The forest – a treasure of Montecito – may yet be saved. The Bucket Brigade is such a positive force. And Ennisbrook has now joined in the effort. 

Penny Bianchi

Revered to Reviled

I felt compelled to comment on a couple of items in last week’s issue. 1) the neutral stance the MJ takes on sheriff Bill Brown‘s re-election bid. I actually do not have any personal animosity against Sheriff Brown; however, I still disagree that Santa Barbara County needs a North County jail, and believe it to be a classic case of bureaucratic empire building and another one of those “legacy” projects that public figures seem to yearn for. However, my biggest turnoff of Brown are the ads that have him posing, quite proudly, with Kamala Harris, touting her support. This to me shows beyond a doubt that Brown is completely out of touch with what millions of Californians think of this woman.

Here is a sample, published widely on the Internet: “Pro-life groups are demanding California attorney general Kamala Harris resign her post and end her bid for the Senate after her office stormed into the home of pro-life activist and journalist David Daleiden on Tuesday. They were searching for his undercover Planned Parenthood videos exposing the organization’s inhumane treatment of unborn babies.”

Harris, who became attorney general thanks in part to Planned Parenthood’s support, has an all too apparent bias in favor of the pro-abortion organization. It’s no wonder, then, that she wanted to conceal any evidence that proves it is a money-hungry business that only feigns to support women’s health. After Harris’s search and seizure, pro-life groups want her out of the public square. The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) was one of the first to demand Harris’s letter of resignation.

“To use the heavy hand of her office for personal political gain in a Senate campaign is the epitome of conflict of interest and abuse of power,” said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser in a press release. “Ms Harris should resign from her attorney general post and end her bid for the U.S. Senate. She has abused her government office and no longer deserves the public trust.” As they say, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

2) Regarding the letter from New Orleans, urging Oprah Winfrey to throw her hat into the 2020 presidential election ring: I would not like to see her do that; not that I don’t think she could win, because I’m sure she is by far the best candidate the Democrats could field, and she most definitely would give Trump a run for his money, it’s just that, even though I am not politically aligned with Oprah, I do like her and would not like to see her savaged by the media – not the least of which would be the embarrassing questions to explain away the photos of her and Harvey Weinstein. In short, I would hate to see Oprah go from one of the most revered people in the country to one of the most reviled.

Larry Bond
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: It’s just been our policy over these past 23 years(!) that we don’t get involved in endorsing law enforcement races, preferring to leave those positions in the hands of those in law enforcement. Regardless, we don’t see any need to change out Sheriff Brown for someone else, as he has acted with dignity and resolve throughout the past four years. Ditto for Joyce Dudley.

As for Oprah Winfrey, we too admire her, but believe she’d have a difficult time pulling in any red state. She’d likely do well in California, Oregon, New York, and Massachusetts, but the list of likely wins in other states is small. You have little reason to fear that Ms Winfrey would be in danger of being “reviled” after a grueling campaign. After all, our current president has been mercilessly trashed by both the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, both broadcast and print, and yet nearly 50 percent of the public holds him in high regard. – J.B.)


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