Notable & Quotable

By Montecito Journal   |   November 22, 2018

“The saddest part about these fires in California is that they are self-inflicted. Californians should not allow such mismanagement to continue. At what point will common-sense forest management practices win out over the ideologically driven environmental lobby? Soon, I hope, or Paradise might not be the only thing lost.”
Krystina Skurk (The Federalist)

(Ms Skurk is a graduate student at Hillsdale College’s Van Andel School of Statesmanship. She is pursuing a master’s degree in American politics and political philosophy. She is a former Fellow of the John Jay Institute, a graduate of Regent University, and a former teacher at Archway Cicero, a Great Hearts charter school.)

Who’s in Charge?

In our mail was an Environmental Survey from UCBren purportedly on Thomas Fire-related concerns.

This survey was not reviewed by the Montecito Association (MA) or Montecito Planning Commission (MPC), or to my knowledge, The County Board of Supervisors (BOS) or Santa Barbara City Council. However, the BOS did approve a $10,000 allocation to support a survey to Montecito stakeholders for short- and long-term planning purposes. 

From my review as a former professional planner-developer and housing-healthcare consultant, the received survey instrument is data mining.

It is over-reach and off-topic.

This survey instrument is not what was discussed by those wanting stakeholder input for ‘Rebuild Montecito’ to aid short- and long-range planners who also will address Montecito’s eight costly independent Special Districts, and the possibility of Village Incorporation to provide critical leadership while reducing property owner costs. 

Therefore, I advise neighbor caution in choosing to complete this particular UCBren survey. I tossed mine, as did others I know.

To follow through on an initial inquiry survey made by 1st District supervisor Das Williams in January 2017 that was announced and distributed at a Disaster Community meeting, there is another survey on its way, focused on stakeholder desires for our community. However, it is unclear who will be inquiring: perhaps Montecito Planning Commission, or MA, or the specially organized private debris basin-focused billionaire club? 

Confusing to me, if not to you.

Again, I ask: Who’s in charge of Montecito? 

Denice S. Adams
West Montecito

(Editor’s note: I wish we could say who exactly is “in charge of Montecito,” but even the short answer is too long. However, the Montecito Association is where you should look for leadership and answers. Its membership consists of nearly one-quarter of all the homes in Montecito and its monthly meetings – while often not well-attended by the public – are covered in Montecito Journal by Kelly Mahan Herrick, our editor-at-large. Additionally, associate editor Bob Hazard attends nearly every meeting as well.

Montecito is classified as an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County, so its ability to pull its weight among the various incorporated areas is less than ideal. In order to really have a say in County politics, we’d probably need to incorporate as a city. There are serious pros and cons on both sides of that issue, and it would require extended public discussions and informational [as opposed to promotional] meetings to determine that outcome. The state of California has made it expensive and nearly prohibitive for small communities such as Montecito to incorporate into cityhood. So, for now, we’d say the Montecito Association is “in charge” of Montecito. – J.B.)

“Coming Down” on Acosta

Jim Acosta, the CNN reporter who had his credentials yanked, set a bad precedent. Granted, Mr. Acosta did act in a rude manner, but for a female intern to take the mic away (notice it wasn’t a man because Mr. Acosta may have reacted in a different way). The whole incident demeans the press conference.

Sam Donaldson would have never had this happen to him no matter how he behaved.

If you’re going to come down on Mr. Acosta for his reaction, don’t you believe the president should be accountable for his comments toward April Ryan?

Thomas Carlisle
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: During an April 2018 White House press conference, Ryan asked whether or not President Trump has considered resigning, to which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded by saying the question was “absolutely ridiculous.” We don’t see where the two incidences are comparable. For the record, we’ve never “come down” on Mr. Acosta or anyone else. – J.B.)

Adjustment Necessary

Ah, the evil events… Just how much was the ex-Marine shooter in Thousand Oaks still dealing with the trauma of war? Do we have any idea of how our foreign policy might underpin some of this? Is this an un-factored cost of current foreign policy? Was the ex-Marine subjected to a theater of combat – if so, how many rotations? What does the choice of these theaters have to do with resource acquisition? Resources for whom? Those flying drones that drop smart bombs are showing severe stress and there are major areas of discord and stress within this function. Again, a foreign policy issue? 

Some very close to me came back from theaters of combat completely mad, arrived home and were essentially just jettisoned onto home soil to deal as best they could with what they had experienced.

Some did not adjust.

My stint in service was in the inter-years with no active combat. I was a medic at a V.A. hospital and did see the psychological trauma lingering in the older veterans. Later, after studying medicine and a fellowship, I was a clinical instructor at the V.A. geriatric teaching hospital in Sepulveda. I dealt with the aftermath that lingered within those from the several previous belligerent activities in which the United States engaged. While bodies were treated, the mental status was often neglected and still is.

I was also attached to the Foreign Service and was intimately involved in zones of conflict and also dealt with the Peace Corps volunteers found there. There was scant attention allocated toward dealing with psychological trauma experienced by either of these groups.

Following the end of tour, these people are mainly just cut loose and shipped home.

A clearer picture of true cost might be worth seeking, although gaining such is probably politically unrealistic in attaining.

Dr. Edo McGowan

The Seven-Day Diet

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth… and populated Earth with broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so man and woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then using God’s great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and Krispy Kreme donuts. And Satan said, “You want chocolate with that?” And Man said, “Yes!” And Woman said, “And as long as you’re at it, add some sprinkles.” And they gained 10 pounds and Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14. So God said, “Try my fresh green salad.” And Satan presented thousand-island dressing, buttery croutons, and garlic toast on the side, and Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, “I have sent you heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them.” And Satan brought forth deep-fried fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it “Angel Food” and said, “It is good.” Satan then created chocolate cake and named it “Devil’s Food.”

God then brought forth running shoes so that his children might lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave cable TV with a remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And Man gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald’s and its $2 double cheeseburger. Then said, “You want fries with that?” And Man replied, “Yes! And super-size them!” And Satan said, “It is good.”

And Man went into cardiac arrest. God sighed and created quadruple-bypass surgery… And Satan created ObamaCare.

David McCalmont
Santa Barbara

Weather or Not

Carbon dioxide (C02) is an inert, colorless gas making up about 0.038% (380 parts per million [PPM]) of our atmosphere. The range is 320 PPM to 408 PPM, depending on where in the world and at what altitude the measurement is taken… and almost as importantly, by whom. Some have suggested that the “normal” range for the last 50,000 to 100,000 years is 331 PPM, based on ice cores and plant studies. The ice studies had been the most accepted. However, recent information suggests that the measurements are low due to an effect of liquid water in ice absorbing some of the C02, then leaking out, yielding a lower reading of C02 concentration. The jury is still out on this issue, but the side taken is usually related to political party affiliation. 

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the EIA (Energy Information Agency), about 3% of the low-altitude C02 is caused by the burning and processing of fossil fuels, with lesser contribution at higher altitudes. This results in the contribution of C02 from fossil fuel burning and processing at 11 to 12 PPM out of the 380 PPM total C02. The other “natural sources” of 368 PPM come from bubbling gasses from the deep ocean, decaying ocean plants and animals, decay of land-based plants and animals, volcano eruptions, forest fires, and a variety of other natural causes. 

A fun way to put this is that 97% of C02 molecules agree that they come from “natural sources.”

C02 is plant food. Without it, there would be virtually nothing green or edible on the planet. Go back to your high school science book and review the C02/O2-photosynthesis cycle. This magic comes from the component that is only 0.035% or so of the total Earth atmosphere. The magic results in the production of oxygen, which is 21% of the atmosphere and the life-blood of existence of all animals on Earth … including you. Without it, you could barely live for more than five minutes. The makeup of the atmosphere is:

Nitrogen: 78%
Oxygen: 21%
Argon: 0.9%
Trace: 0.1%

Trace gases include neon, helium, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and C02.

Before the western United States was settled, lightning-induced forest fires raged throughout the West; sometimes burning for several years until the fuel was gone or rains came to the rescue. God created forest fires but forgot to put them out. In modern times, those fires are extinguished quickly by man, reducing the “natural” contribution from that source.

According to NASA, water vapor is categorized as a greenhouse gas and represents 43% of all greenhouse gases. Water vapor is conveniently left out of nearly all the data reported. How can one believe data when 43% of the climate-temperature related gas is ignored, while a few parts per million of other species are dutifully accounted for?

All the issues of weather and climate change are extremely complicated and turn quickly on the most minor of natural world events. In spite of our super computers and algorithms, we are barely able to predict the weather with any degree of certainty more than a week or so in advance, and we are sometimes surprised more frequently than that. Prognosticators are routinely embarrassed by their announcements and forecasts.

They needn’t be.

The subject is wrought with the ever-changing events hurled at us by Mother Nature. Winds shift, electrostatic storms rage, volcanoes erupt, ocean currents rise, fall, shift, El Niño occurs, temperature inversions come and go… and a whole plethora of unpredictable events befall us. Rather than embroil ourselves in diatribes and invectives hurled at each other at close range, maybe it is time to step back, look at the past, carefully analyze the best data we have, and rationally draw the best conclusions we can for the future… from a purely scientific and non-political plane. Then try to understand one of the major phenomena that impacts our daily lives, our security, our well-being, and our futures: the weather.

May your day be full of sunshine, some rain, and the bountiful harvest and happiness that is brought forth by both.

Ray Winn
Las Vegas, Nevada,
Montecito, California

The Race is on

The news that Charles Evans, a member of the Federal Reserve (FR) said he believes that interest rates should rise to 3.25% and unemployment should rise (emphasis added) from the current 3.7% to a “more sustainable level,” stimulated this letter to the editor.

In 2009-10, the FR “temporarily” lowered the interest rates to effectively zero to distort, and stimulate, the economy until the economy was strong enough to handle “normal” rates. The FR believes normal rates are necessary for long-term stability. However, during the eight years of the previous administration, despite political claims to the contrary, the FR, the experts on the economy, never found the economy strong enough to raise rates.

Enter President Trump.

Trump’s efforts to improve the economy were always opposed by the Democrats (Demos) and, sometimes, a few Republicans (Reps). Budget examples include the 80% of the budget controlled by entitlements by reducing the open borders (previously proposed by presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama), eliminating ObamaCare (blocked by Senator McCain), enabling the Demos to run in 2018 on pre-existing conditions (one provision out of the tens of thousands of pages of regulations). Trump is also faced with the increasing student loan debt, where the history is that this debt was never a problem until early in Obama’s term when he took the administration of federal loans away from banks and into his administration. Imagine the results if [Bernie] Sanders had been able to have the taxpayers assume the trillions? Reducing regulations is another topic.

Trump pushed through a temporary tax cut (with no votes from any Demos) that greatly stimulated the economy. With a strong economy he, and it, could take the short-term hit to the economy necessary to take on changing the relationships with other countries that many presidents had discussed but did not achieve. So many examples of needed changes, such as issues with cyber security with China as well as fair trade with every country. Trump withstood daily criticism and started to obtain fair trade, while Demos continued to endorse the failed methods of his predecessors. It is fair to assume that if Trump’s efforts fail, the country will return to the politically correct efforts of his predecessors. 

Enter the FR and new chairman Powell, who said that after the eight years of an economy too weak to raise rates, Trump in just one year had improved the economy so much that the FR could raise rates. Powell said the FR was “data” driven, but then contradicted himself by scheduling future rate increases before the data [are] determined. 

Enter Evans, who proclaimed that regardless of the data, he has a goal of 3.25% interest rates and, amazingly, raising the unemployment rate to a level that he deems “sustainable” (in the mere 50 years I have been watching the economy, this is the first time I have heard of anyone wanting to raise unemployment). So far, the increases have slowed the housing market by spiking the cost of mortgages and achieved a similar effect on vehicle sales.

The future: Changing international relations will require a short-term hit to achieve a long-term benefit. For example, see Yum Brands, where even a fast-food company had to enter into joint ventures in China, but long-term, the Chinese pirated the technology and pushed them out.

The race: Will FR’s actions on slowing the economy fatally undermine the time necessary for Trump to renegotiate international relationships? Same questions for Demos (word is the Chinese were watching the mid-terms to see the level of support for Trump), who are threatening to end Trump’s temporary tax cuts (that the Reps did not make permanent)? In this race, time is of the essence, so can pushing every decision through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals favor other countries? As leaders in Britain, France, and Germany, to name a few, are demonstrating, a strong economy within your own country is necessary for leaders to achieve their objectives with other countries. The race is on.

Brent Zepke
Santa Barbara


You might also be interested in...

  • Woman holding phone

    Support the
    Santa Barbara non-profit transforming global healthcare through telehealth technology