Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   April 25, 2019

Archie’s Last Days

I just had a neighbor say… “Why would you let them print this (“The Last Days of Archie McLaren,” MJ # 25/15)?”

My answer even surprised me. Archie wanted this story told so dying people had a choice. He actually requested me to find someone just weeks before he died. So back in late April 2018 I had an interview with a local paper and just before we went to print it was pulled due to its complicated story nature. I simply forgot about Archie’s request until I met Jim (James Buckley) at a book launch in Santa Barbara.

I always knew it would take a bold writer/paper to show the world Mr. McLaren’s fearlessness. I am so proud of what he wrote that I could yell from the rooftops of Avila Beach!

Bev Aho
Avila Beach

Archie’s Magic Number

I really liked your story about Archie McLaren. I didn’t know how the end came for him and like most of his “brothers,” was just sad that he had departed. But now reading your piece filled in the blanks. It only seems natural that Archie would set his departure date and time although I wonder what 3:30 pm represented to him.

Arthur von Wiesenberger
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: It’s a question I should have asked before putting that article to bed, but I have since contacted Bev Aho, who tells me, “Archie always used the number thirty-three in his life. It was always his paddle number at an auction.” She says that Archie regarded the number 33 as sacred geometry. “He discovered it while studying The 33rd Degree of Masons, she adds. “All the old buildings were built to this theory and Archie really understood it well. Yet, he was not a Mason.”

(Editor’s note: Archie always looked for the magic of how life was created and how secrets were kept on energy around the world. Archie chose to die at 3:30 in the afternoon of February 20, 2018 because of that nearly lifelong connection with the “magic” of the number 33. – J.B.)

Good, Bad, and Ugly

The president could never be convicted of the crimes of “collusion” or “bagusion” (whatever that is) since both are fake news: neither is a crime. Notice that no one cited the “elements” of the mythical “crime” of collusion.

The idea of a Special Counsel is based on there being a reasonable suspicion to believe that an actual crime may have been committed: so why was this Special Counsel created? Even at the beginning of the 22 months of investigations there was testimony from one of the 19 lawyers that there never was any “there” there, which is consistent with their shifting, within approximately 60 days, to focusing on “obstruction of justice.”

The results support this. Despite impressive numbers of interviews and subpoenas as the mid-term elections approached, their efforts became more aggressive as Manafort was placed in solitary confinement before being tried, and CNN was tipped to film a raid conducted by more agents than were used for Osama Bin Laden to roust 69-year-old cooperative witness Stone from his home and question his wife at gun point as she sat in her negligee in her bed. Compare that with visiting H. Clinton in her home with a room full of her attorneys. 

What were the results? Zero convictions for collusion. For obstruction, General Flynn pled guilty, but due to delays by the DOJ he has not been sentenced; Papadopoulos pled guilty and served less than two weeks. Manafort was convicted of various charges not related to any campaign. Carter Page was never charged with anything. There is a gag order on Corsi. Several Russians were indicted but will never be tried since Mueller will not comply with their discovery requests. 

So what did 22 months of constant accusations accomplish? 

This is a difficult question to answer since a related question is: what would have been accomplished if there had been no threats discussed every night by Congressional people, representatives from a former administration, or talking heads, on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC and ABC?

Here are some possible areas of impact: the mid-term elections; negotiations with NATO, North Korea, Mexico, Canada, China, the EU and other countries, as each of these must have wondered if stalling would enable them to outlast Trump; many court decisions where judges erroneously cited campaign rhetoric to overturn policies; support from such people as Speaker Ryan; and time, energy and resources that could have been used constructively.

Perhaps as important as who the Special Counsel kept the focus on, is who was able to escape review, until now. The latter stages of the investigation started to uncover more problems on the side of the investigators, a few of which are the falsification of the FISA warrants, spying on a presidential candidate, and obstruction of justice. This has the potential to be the biggest impact of the Special Counsel. 

Some pundits are citing that Mueller did not “exonerate” Trump from obstruction of justice. The real Attorney General Barr said that it is not the role of prosecutors to “exonerate” anyone. Prosecutors use a binary test of “yes or no” on sufficient evidence to prosecute. Even judges and juries find defendants “guilty” or “not guilty” but do not have the power to find somebody “innocent.”

The “good, the bad and the ugly” seem to describe the future. 

The “good” is the mythical “collusion” is dead. Obstruction of justice requires that justice be obstructed through some act. This country has never made mere thoughts a crime. Smart executives rely on counsel’s advice on whether to take certain actions. The “nasty person” theory is also not a crime. The administration will have more leverage in negotiations. Maybe some actions will arise from the hundreds of pages of the Mueller, not Barr, report, that discuss Russian involvement during the administration of Obama, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, et al. 

The “bad” appears to include that some will attempt to convert Mueller from savior to villain in one swoop.

The “ugly” might (hopefully not) be continued focus by some in Congress and most of the networks on using the same adjectives and verbs to create myths that could influence the 2020 elections.

Brent Zepke
Santa Barbara

Fairness Versus Inequality

Many of the general public and especially our college communities seem to have much concern about economic inequality. This is a theme Bernie Sanders emphasizes and has a sympathetic ear within the scholarly community. However, when people ponder in depth the ideal distribution of wealth in a country, they actually come to realize that they prefer unequal societies despite appearances to the contrary. Why? Because there is no evidence that people are truly bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often muddled with inequality: economic unfairness.

The Nature Human Behavior Journal found that, apparently, we are not natural-born socialists. Humans naturally favor fair distributions, not equal ones and that when fairness and equality conflict, people prefer fairness of opportunity not equality of results. Yet, some rage against inequality as such, insisting there is something fundamentally wrong with a nation in which some have so much more than others. They are actually confused about what they really want, which is justice and fairness, not equality.

Rather, think about when it is unjust to treat people the same. Are not factors such as boldness, hard work, talent, skill or even luck, ample reason for dissimilarity, or inequality? Teachers constantly deal with these factors when grading students; it is a discriminating moment indeed. That is not to say that extreme economic inequality isn’t troubling, I think it is. But, the cause of this indignation is not that people see inequality as inherently wrong; it is that they see it as a result of unfairness, e.g., getting rich by inventing or making something is fine; getting rich by cheating and/or stealing is not. Something to keep in mind to sharpen political discourse with the scholars among us as you casually mention how important that degree is in this competitive and unequal world. 

J.W. Burk
Santa Barbara

The Prop 30 Squirm

Your article (“On Education,” MJ # 25/15), regarding Paul and Jane Orfalea‘s contribution to the educational needs of local children was very positive and uplifting. What a tremendous task they are taking on in a very creative way. It was very encouraging to hear of the results. And, a great model for leveling out educational opportunities for all children.

I have a question for our community. My question: what is Proposition 30, pushed by Governor Brown, doing to meet the same needs? Proposition 30 was touted as a temporary tax on the wealthy to improve schools throughout California. It was a seven-year fix. In 2016 we voted to extend this taxation well into the ‘20s. Again, as an educational fix. Within months of it’s initial passing Governor Brown was bragging of the amount of money that “we have now” going to schools. Which in that article amounted to a third of the money taken in from the tax. Huh? Accountability for that supposed money for the schools should be requested immediately by all of us. Especially in light of what can be done with money per the example of the Orfaleas’ foundation.

We the community, voted in money to be used for programs like this, even by voting for more taxes. But, per the next line down on the original prop 30 bill voted in, said it “can be used for other purposes.” Did anyone read that line? 

When will we stand up to the politicians and question the use versus the proposed (sold to us) use? I think we should right now. 

On another note re the same article, I believe to be true that some of the “higher-funded schools” don’t take from the state’s school monies, but take from local property taxes. The article could be interpreted that some schools are given more money from the state. 

To the Orfaleas: thank you for your caring and creative ideas. We should endeavor to support their organization to help those right here in Santa Barbara. What a great use of our money. 

Let us each make a point to talk to/write to our representatives in Sacramento and ask where the Prop 30 money is being spent (watch them squirm).

Lynn Jewett

Fentanyl Outrage

In January (2019), 254 pounds of Fentanyl was seized at the southern border. In 2017, drug overdoses killed 72,000 people, 200 a day. Why are we not outraged? If Congress won’t help solve the problem of chaos at the border, they are the problem. Their greed for power has destroyed any patriotism they might have had. It is doubtful they ever cared about our country. Unfortunately, a lot of the rot in Congress comes from California.

Gretchen Kieding

The Electoral College

Our Constitution (Article 2, Section 1) clearly says that the President is chosen by the states through the Electoral College and not by overall popular vote. I like the Electoral College (EC) and I believe it “served its purpose” in the 2016 elections. Personal experiences lead me to believe that many intelligent people do not understand the EC and why our Founding Fathers created it. A recent newspaper letter referenced a seminar where half of over 20 younger adults thought the EC was a “place” that should close down. 

In the 2016 Presidential Election, Clinton had almost 3 million more popular votes than Trump. Clinton won the California popular vote by over 4 million votes. Simple math indicates that Trump was the total popular vote winner in the remaining 49 states. So, California “determined” the national popular vote victory for Clinton. All of California’s 55 electoral votes went to Clinton. However, Trump won the popular vote in 30 of 50 states, ending up with a 306-232 victory in the EC.

In the 2000 Presidential Election, George W. Bush beat Albert Gore 271-266 in the EC while losing the overall popular vote. Sparsely populated North Dakota’s 3 electoral votes went to Bush. Had Gore won that state’s popular vote, he would have won 269-268 in the EC. Also, had Gore won the popular vote in his home state, Tennessee (11 electoral votes), he would have won 277-260 in the EC and become president.

I haven’t attempted to explain the EC. I am suggesting that before jumping on the liberal bandwagon to get rid of it, one should make an effort to understand the EC and the reasons it was created. Westmont College is a place. The Electoral College is not. I can’t visit it, but I do like it. It’s worth preserving. 

Sanderson M. Smith, Ed.D.

(Editor’s note: Mr. Smith is a retired mathematics teacher, who taught at Cate School and Santa Barbara City College)

Taxing Locations

When the Montecito Journal and other publications give locations of marijuana dispensaries, it would be helpful to include if they are wheelchair accessible. Not all are. Patients have rights under Prop. 215 to obtain pot under the Compassionate Use Act. Until there are better protections for frail elderly and people with disabilities please remind your readers to check out delivery services before inviting strangers into your homes. 

Should marijuana be taxed if it is used for medical reasons with a doctor’s recommendation? Are growers and sellers responsible for taxes if they are operating as non-profits? California has a history of tensions over land use in the past. Keeping users safe should be a major concern for all.

Karen Friedman

Ramping Up

In the article about the new ramp behind the Montecito Library (“Village Beat,” MJ # 25/14), it was stated that “because the building is owned by the County, land use permits and design review were not required.”

If this is true I call Foul!

If a County-owned property can be given a design review and building permit based solely on ownership, then what is the purpose of all the extensive and expensive discretionary design reviews and plan reviews that we common folk have to endure? Apparently they must have nothing to do with insuring quality architecture and safe design as advertised.

The County and Montecito can look to their neighbor, the City of Santa Barbara to see how it should be done. There, every project is subject to all the same reviews and scrutiny as private property projects, as they should be.

Perhaps more details about this by MJ would be helpful.

Art Thomas
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: We’ll put Village Beat’s Kelly Mahan Herrick on it pronto! – J.B.)

Up In Smoke

In France, 870-plus Catholic churches were vandalized and/or burned down in 2018. No matter who did this, it is vital to know there are those that don’t want freedom of religion. What I would have given to be at Notre Dame 100 years ago to hear the sermons. We are falling away from Christ in the West ever so quietly and it is a tragedy.

Morten Wengler

Remembering Julian

Your article on Julian Nott was beautiful (“He Landed Safely,” MJ # 25/13). Last year at this time, I met with him at his home with a signed book from a friend’s hot air balloon photos and had Julian sign the front cover of the Montecito Journal glossy edition with Julian on the cover. It is now framed over my desk.

Bob Evans
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: I have never, ever, moaned over the loss of family or friend as loudly or as often as I have for Julian Nott. Two other losses come close: that of my lifelong friend Charlie Barnes and longtime compatriot Andy Granatelli. Life is a tough game and the longer one plays the more one loses I guess, but still, Julian had big, exciting, plans and much more life to live; that he left us accidentally is difficult to accept. – J.B.) 


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