Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   May 16, 2019

We Must Be Kidding

I was flabbergasted to read last week’s letters to the editor wherein you proposed increased CO2 to warm an ice age on the heels of an international report detailing the pending destruction of millions of species of land animals and sea life. Ice ages occur because of wobbling of the earth’s axis on the 10,000-year scale not 200 years as we are seeing with this latest warming trend. CO2 is toxic to humans at large concentrations (see Apollo Thirteen) but is very dilute in the atmosphere. This means changes of mean ppm levels from 300 to 400 ppm are very large for this gas and almost 100% correlated with global warming. We are headed for 500 ppm fast with disastrous results and I am not just talking about rising sea levels. Mass extinctions of the Biosphere will impact every facet of human existing including food and water supplies around the Globe.

The dreaded two degrees Celsius rise in Global warming will occur much sooner than 2100 as predicted by some estimates. The rise in CO2 is in a hockey stick phase and most estimates do not consider the continued increase in CO2 emissions from around the world including the United States. Coal fired plants produce about the same amount of CO2 per watt as natural gas. They also produce much more unsavory products such as sulfur dioxide (acid rain) and combustion waste products when compared with gas powered generation of electricity. The coal fired plants also cause pollution to land and water including mercury contamination.

China and India are still rapidly developing new coal fired energy, but any replacement to natural gas would still produce excessive CO2 and methane pollution. Even a layman can see the undeniable rise in temperature and correlation with CO2 levels. Deniers claim of increased solar output and other red herring arguments have been completely disproven. The other fact is that 2 degrees Celsius is an arbitrary number and climate change is already occurring at the current level of temperature increase. When an ice cube melts the temperature of both the water and ice remains constant for the ice at the freezing point. There is an energy input that is consumed to change the ice into water and is very large (i.e. global warming). This means an observed increase in temperature of even a small fraction of a degree above freezing from surrounding water, or air will cause the ice to melt. This explains why the Arctic ice has nearly disappeared in the last few summers and explains the retreat of the great glaciers around the globe.

Christopher Keate MSEE
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: What can I say? I’m just not as pessimistic as you. Oh, and being in the newspaper business, I don’t believe everything I read. Also, I’d like to suggest you change the pejorative term you use for those who don’t agree with you from “deniers” to “skeptics,” as virtually every human on this particular planet believes and therefore doesn’t “deny” that climate does indeed change, all the time. Many, however, are skeptical that handing over hundreds of billions of dollars to Third-World countries with no accountability (via the Paris Climate Agreement) will help improve the environment one iota. And, many – including scientists, physicists, and the like – aren’t quite sure of the correlation between CO2 and warming at the current low levels, and are suggesting that with a Maunder Minimum settling into place on our sun, a cooling trend could be in the works. Now, if a self-managed non-governmental organization has a plan to go into a country or area to alleviate environmental damage, we’re 100% on board for that. – J.B.)

One Stroke Wonder

Montecito Club member Kevin Hart with the ball he hit to make the very first hole-in-one on the Club’s new Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course

Kevin Hart, a longtime Montecito Club member and Montecito resident hit what is at this point the only hole-in-one made so far on the new Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. I thought you might want to share with your readers.

Don Gragg

Driving Through Syria

On January 29, 2018 I followed Penny Bianchi down East Valley Lane to her devastated property. For the previous year I had been working as the gardener for her and her husband, Adam. It was a dream come true, about an acre of gardens, surrounded on two sides by the Ennisbrook Nature Preserve. As I drove down the lane there was destruction in every direction. I thought I would be out of a job for at least six months. But, as luck would have it, I was hired the next week by the insurance company to supervise the debris excavation.

In October of 2017, Penny had asked me to buy some California poppy seeds and spread them on her property. She asked me to go to S&S Wholesale Seed Company in Carpinteria. The smallest order they sell is eight pounds! I ended up spreading about 7 and 3/4 of a pound. Ben at S&S said the pounds of unused seeds would keep for another year. By this time last year, Penny’s gardens had been cleared of the mud and debris and she brought in Margie Grace, of Grace Landscape & Design, to restore her designs from fifteen years ago. By July Margie was finished and I was back at my favorite activity: gardening in Montecito.

Three or four times a week, the drive down East Valley Lane from East Valley Road was, as Penny puts it, like “driving through Syria.” But, even though nearly every home was either destroyed or demolished, I had a thought in the back of my mind: the seven pounds of California poppy seeds in a bag in my garage. I had a vision in my mind of drifts of poppies along the road and in the Ennisbrook preserve. From previous experience casting poppy seeds, I knew the seeds germinate best in loose soil in a sunny location. The Ennisbrook preserve would be a perfect location, with the two feet of dried mud that covered it. But that idea ended when all the fallen trees and limbs were ground up and the wood chips spread everywhere. 

Last October, in between watching every newscast for the chance of rain, I walked up and down Penny’s street, casting seeds. Anywhere I saw bare soil I threw some seeds. The Bucket Brigade had excavated around all the trees and tossed seeds into many of those. During November and December I repeated this, from the bridge across San Ysidro Creek all the way up to East Valley Road. I mentioned my seed casting to Penny and Adam just before Christmas and Adam shared a remarkable story. He said his grandfather had rounded Cape Horn around the turn of the century. Upon entering San Francisco Bay, he saw the hillsides above Sausalito covered with poppies. It made such an impression on him that when he founded the first commercial chicken farm west of the Mississippi, he named the company, “Poppy Foods.” And the logo was the California poppy.

To finish this story, last month I saw some drifts of poppies were blooming. I mentioned it to Penny and I said, “We should call them Penny’s poppies.” She loved that and said, “My granddaughter is named Poppy, and she’s coming down for spring break.” I suggested we take a photo.

The areas on East Valley Lane still resemble a war zone, but last December when I told Penny my plan she sent me back to S&S Seeds for another eight pounds of poppy seeds.

I’ll be spreading those in about seven months.

Dan Seibert
Santa Barbara

East Valley Lane after the mud slide of January 9, 2018, did indeed resemble “driving through Syria”
That same area, however, has been transformed by eight pounds of seeds from S&S Seeds in Carpinteria into a pleasant and peaceful place strewn with an abundance of “Penny’s Poppies”
Penny Bianchi (center) with granddaughter Penelope “Poppy” Brittingham (right) and her Stanford classmate, Clara

Rigging the 2020 Election

The Democrat Party is on the way toward rigging the 2020 presidential election. Recently, California joined a group of Democrat-run states that are restricting which candidates may be listed on the presidential election. It is a flagrant attempt to keep Donald Trump off the 2020 ballot.

In the resent past, the California Senate approved a bill to require candidates appearing on the presidential ballot, including President Trump, to release five years’ worth of income tax returns. This radical bill is a form of nullification of federal law, is unconstitutional, and would disenfranchise a portion of California voters. Furthermore, the bill in combination with another unconstitutional measure passed by the California legislature, would deny Trump the presidency, as well as any other Republican candidate a national election victory. Even Governor Jerry Brown said a similar bill in 2017 was unconstitutional.

Why is this law unconstitutional? States may not create new requirements for federal office. The Constitution’s authors created a federal government, independent of the states. They wrote up qualifications for the House, Senate and presidency. These were federal offices that would be governed by the federal Constitution. This was affirmed in 1995 court case of U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton. States retain many powers after the enactment of the Constitution, but they do not get to usurp the powers of the federal government.

And what about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) that is also unconstitutional, but which was passed by California and 13 other states? “The plan is that each state that joins the agreement would require its presidential electors to obey the results of the national popular vote, not the results in their own state. The NPVIC would come into effect when states representing a majority of electoral voters pass the idea into law.”

Why are California and other states pushing these two laws? Because it would make it impossible for Donald Trump to win re-election. 

Diana Thorn

The Greater Fool

The “Greater Fool Theory” in economics and investing is where the valuation of something is not determined by its intrinsic value but by the “value” the seller can convince someone else it is worth.

Is this theory applicable to politics?

The background is that recent presidents, like Obama, Bush, and Clinton, have previously either been a senator or governor, as have many of the unsuccessful party nominees, like Gore, Kerry, Romney, and the “other” Clinton. 

With this background, entering the 2016 election year this pattern continued with the leading Democrats being Clinton and Sanders.

In early 2016, of the 17 Republican candidates, the leading 14 were active or former senators Cruz, Rubio, Graham, Paul, and Santorum, or active or former governors Bush, Christie, Kasich, Perry, Huckabee, Walker, Pataki, Jindal, and Gilmore. Starting with 15th place, the odds of “passing” the 14 traditional candidates would not even make an odds board in Las Vegas. Even the accomplishments of brain surgeon Carson, or business executive Fiorina, enhanced by their uniqueness in race or gender, would not keep them from being relegated to the footnotes. The 17th candidate, real estate developer-reality television star Donald J. Trump, white male, was so far behind that opponents and media felt confident enough to repeatedly make him the brunt of jokes. 

When Trump asserted that he might have been spied upon, the hue and cry of the media was: Why would anyone waste time spying on Trump?

But that was then. Now the question is: how many more than two branches of the presidential administration spied on candidate and President Trump? Or who was the Greater Fool: the former presidential administration for “only” spying on the lowest rated of the 17 candidates, or those who believe “only” Trump was spied on?

An investigation by Attorney General Barr may also consider Senators Paul and Rubio questioning whether they were being spied on, and the origin of the previously not publicized issues about Perry and Christie, which accusations, after their candidacy were eliminated, went to the same graveyard as those against Judge Moore.

The next few months may illustrate the use in politics of the Greater Fool Theory.

Brent Zepke
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: You do bring up an interesting point: Why would anyone spy on Trump so early, unless he was just one of many campaigners being spied upon… oops, we mean “surveilled”… by the Obama-Clinton camp, just in case Open Primaries, ballot harvesting, and/or DMV voter registration hadn’t made it easy enough to ensure a positive election outcome. Insurance Policy perhaps? – J.B.)

On Speechifying

Kudos to the MJ for Molly Leikin‘s informative article on speech writing (“On Speech,” MJ # 25/16). Reading it, I learned something from your publication, which should really be called Homes & Parties & Eateries.


Nathan Hoyt
Santa Barbara


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