The Different Drummer

By Carl J. Petersen

Politics, Family, Music and other Musings.

Exercising The Mandate

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Out of Smell, Out of Mind

“Witnesses cannot ask questions of the parties, lawyers or the Hearing Board”

-South Coast AQMD Hearing Board

A good way of determining how long someone has lived in my neighborhood is to ask them which “city” they live in. Long time residents will state that we are in Northridge, which, according to the City of Los Angeles, is the official designation of our area. However, newer residents are likely to refer to Porter Ranch. Since the two areas share the same zip code, their real estate agents simply used the designation that had the better reputation (and higher housing prices) and it stuck. With the months-long natural gas leak affixing itself to the Porter Ranch name, realtors will probably revert to using Northridge, at least for the near future.

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Apologizer in Chief

Have we ever had a president who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart?

-Mitt Romney

No matter how genuine your intentions, it is impossible to negotiate with a party that refuses to talk. Still, faced with the colliding problems of Republicans in Congress who viewed “any government action [as] bad for the country” and an economy quickly descending into depression, President Obama tried to keep his campaign promise of changing the tone of Washington. Since the opposing party would not negotiate, he used their publicly stated policies and replaced infrastructure spending with tax cuts in his stimulus plan. To overcome an attempted filibuster he reduced the amount of spending. For his efforts he was rewarded with a package that passed without any Republican votes and an opposition party that gloated any time that a projection did not meet reality as America slowly recovered from near calamity.

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Meet the Impotent Press

You have to be really careful with the press -- not all of them, because I know some great reporters. But I’m going to start naming names because it really is incredible how dishonest the press is.”

-Donald Trump

In a poll released last year, 16% of Americans said that there was no “solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades”. It is very important to note that they were not passing judgement on the cause of this warming, they were denying the fact “that Earth has warmed since 1880...with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” A large amount of blame for this ignorance falls on our media which covers this subject by pretending that it is debatable, sitting two people side-by-side, creating the appearance that they have equal weight. If, instead of this false equivalence, they held “a statistically representative climate change debate” that had 97 scientists debating three climate change deniers, the American public might have a greater understanding of how science works.

It has yet to be proven how much the hot air coming from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will increase the rate of global warming. His increasingly outrageous statements have continuously kept him in the spotlight allowing him to brag that he has “spent nothing” on his campaign and that he “can’t advertise because [he’s] getting so much coverage.” He keeps the reporters who cover him in line with a mixture of public ridicule at his rallies and threats to cut off access. The press reacts by allowing him to confuse biased reporting with doing the job of asking hard questions of the person who seeks be the leader of the free world. Nowhere was this more obvious than on Trump’s appearance on Meet the Press:

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Do the Right Thing?

And -- and -- you know, it goes back to the whole concept of regulations, which are in everything. The reason that I -- I hate them so much is because every single regulation costs in terms of goods and services.”

-Ben Carson

Hearing Board of the South Coast AQMDIt is not uncommon for businesses in California to complain that they have to deal with too many regulations. Unlike their brethren in Texas, they have to deal with inconveniences like state fire codes and contributions to workers’ compensation insurance, which they say puts them at a competitive disadvantage. In response, some threaten to relocate their business from Los Angeles to cities like Houston, which does not even have zoning laws. Government regulation is viewed as unnecessary “government interference” because these critics say that “market forces regulate the seller as strictly as any bureaucrat could”. The 2,258 households that have been displaced by the Porter Ranch Gas Leak are living within the fallacy of this argument.

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Ground Zero at the Porter Ranch Gas Leak

“So far the leak seems to be a minor annoyance in the area, said Sean O’Rourke, a member of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council Board of Directors.”

-Los Angeles Daily News

Gas_Protest.jpg

While the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, California is now starting to get national news coverage, the problem existed long before the networks turned their cameras on the issue. In fact, an informational picket line staged by Save Porter Ranch was held in front of Castlebay Lane Charter School as the students arrived dressed in costumes for their Halloween festivities. At that time residents complained about a delay in an acknowledgement of the problem by the Southern California Gas Company and a lack of attentiveness by local politicians. For example an affected stakeholder complained that a message left with Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office was returned by a utility official. Another said that City Councilman Mitch Englander had blocked her from his Twitter feed after she had posted about the leak. As late as the November 18th meeting of the Northridge Neighborhood Council, Englander’s representative was reporting that the leak posed no significant health risks. Little did he know that this talking point would be wiped away the next day by Los Angeles County health officials.

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Truthiness and Trump's Presidential Campaign

[Donald Trump] is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”

-Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump has a tenuous relationship with the truth. For example, four years ago he sent investigators to Hawaii to prove that the President was lying about his place of birth and reported that “they cannot believe what they’re finding.” While the results of that investigation were never released to the public, Trump still does not know if the President was born in the United States or “why he wouldn’t release his records.” In the real world, Obama had released his “certification of birth” during 1988, long before Trump had become the public face of the Birther movement.

During the speech before paid supporters announcing his entry into the current race for the presidency, he said “our gross domestic product...was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It’s never below zero.” The answer is “nobody” because in 2014 the United States had a GDP of positive US$ 17,419,000,000,000. Although it is a strange mistake for someone who is running as a successful businessman, he probably meant that the change in GDP had just been announced as below zero. However, this is a condition that has definitely happened before. In fact, “the technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product”.

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American Idiots

Don't want to be an American idiot.

One nation controlled by the media.

Information age of hysteria.

It's calling out to idiot America.”

-Billie Joe Armstrong

 

Like consumer safety in a deregulated market, basic decency has been discarded as the Republican candidates for president have engaged in a race to the bottom in an attempt to secure their party’s base. Donald Trump fired the starting gun with attacks on Mexican immigrants and has continued to set the pace by mimicking a reporter with disabilities. Ted Cruz seemed to challenge President Obama to a schoolyard brawl when he stated "I want to encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face." When the New York Times  reported that Ben Carson’s advisor,  Duane R. Clarridge, told them that “Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so ‘we can make him smart,’” the Carson campaign chastised the Times for taking “advantage of an elderly gentleman.” Chris Christie one upped Cruz’s declaration that our country should only admit Syrian refugees who are Christians because “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” by maintaining that even "orphans under age 5" pose a risk and should be excluded from entering our country in search of refuge. Carly Fiorina continues to maintain that she saw an anti-Planned Parenthood video that does not exist while Trump stands by his claim that he “watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And...in Jersey City, New Jersey...thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” As proof, he “links to Infowars.com, a conspiracy website that pushes the idea that 9/11 was an insidejob...the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was a hoax, FEMA is setting up concentration camps and Andrew Breitbart was assassinated to prevent the release of damaging information about Barack Obama.” 

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The Real War on Christmas

This article was originally posted two years ago in the Patch. The examples may be dated, but the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy shows the issue is not dead.

The right wing media did not even wait for the turkey to be served this year before they started working up their annual hysteria about the left’s supposed “War on Christmas.” In somewhat of a Christmas miracle, Sarah Palin actually completed a project and has began promoting her book where she “defends the right to proclaim the true meaning of Christmas in public!” Glenn Beck is reminding followers that the Texas legislature took time off from legislating what women do with their bodies to pass a law that allows “teachers, students, and parents to ‘acknowledge Christmas on school grounds without fear of censorship, persecution, or litigation.’” The Fox Nation is reminded that “Christmas is under attack” and is provided with an interactive map that displays all of the places where “challenges to religious freedom are taking place.”

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(D) and (R)

Everybody on the Republican stage is better than Hillary Clinton.”

-Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush stated at a town hall that he does not “want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people literally are in decline in their lives.” He then went on to say that the electorate should “elect Trump if you want that.” In the second Republican debate he told Trump that “you can’t just talk about this stuff and insult leaders around the world and expect a good result.” After saying that “if you have intellectual curiosity as a leader, you can grow into the” presidency, he pointed out Trump’s limitations with the qualification of “I’m not sure Mr. Trump has much intellectual curiosity.” Can Bush stand by these criticisms about Trump and still say that his current opponent is more qualified than Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State? In Bush’s mind does adding a (R) after your name give you special super powers that automatically makes you a superior candidate? Most importantly, has a pledge to the RNC to “endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” become more important than serving the best interests of the American people?

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