It's Friday and I'm in one of those "ready to blow a cork" moods.
It's been a trying week partly attributed to the infernal temperatures that have blasted the Valley. There's nothing like covering back-to-back graduations in near triple-digit heat and going home smelling like sweaty basketball players after playing in a hot gymnasium on the equator.
I'm more than a bit worked up over our volatile political climate. Bernie Sanders had just visited Modesto Thursday and nobody expected the opposition party to riot and they didn't. The very same day Donald Trump shows up in San Jose and things automatically get ugly -because of agitators itching to cause trouble. Trump supporters - at least one was from Tracy - were grabbed, had eggs thrown at them, had their signs taken away, had clothes ripped off them, "Make America Great Again" caps removed and burned as a crowd with Mexican flags applauds the burning of the American flag. The crowd began chanting "Make California Mexico Again." A pea brain carried a sign reading "Trump this is Mexico! You are not welcome on native/Mexican soil."
Who needs an ignorant citizenry like this anyway? This isn't a two-bit Third World country where we have our rights to the political process taken away by violent street thugs.
Equally upsetting is how the San Jose Police cowered in response when they should have been expecting trouble - because that's what leftists tend to do - and dressed in riot gear and firing rubber bullets or bean bags at those inciting a riot. No doubt the police were pressured by their sorry excuse for a mayor. You'd expect better of elected officials but apparently San Jose voters have elected a dimwit as their mayor. Instead of condemning the criminal actions of anti-free speech rabble rousers - no doubt they were the ones who elected him - Mayor Sam Liccardo, a Hillary Clinton fan, condemned Trump. "At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign," Mayor Liccardo told the Associated Press.
An elected official blaming a candidate rather than the ones whose actions should have ended them up behind bars is part and parcel for the leftist ideology: Nobody is accountable for one's actions and blame it on someone else.
Shutting down free speech is apparently the mantra of the left. Emmett Rensin, editor at left wing vox.com tweeted: "Advice: If Trump comes to your town, start a riot." He also stated that "Destroying property is legitimate. Shouting down is legitimate. Disruption of all events is legitimate. Murder isn't."
I hate to break it to the protestors, but every time riots happen at a Trump rally it just attracts more support for Trump.
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I'm agitated and walk into the Panda Express in Turlock and ask for a bowl with Shanghai steak, which is $1.25 extra. I'm paying extra so I'm thinking this will be a generous helping. Far from it. The young lady scoops a skimpy amount and pushes the bowl onward. "Is that all I get for $1.25 extra?" I ask. She and her minimum-wage cohort look at each other with a deer-in-the-headlights look.
In the old days a person might want to please the customer and add to a deficiency. Nope, not these two. No apologies, just a "that's the serving."
Grrr. Won't go back there - ever.
Ceres' Panda has always been so much friendlier. I should have gone there.
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On the radio I hear that actress Susan Sarandon, who was at Sanders rally in Modesto, told a reporter that she expects Hillary Clinton to be indicted, saying it's "inevitable." The only reason she would condemn a Democrat because she has her pick of someone farther on the left, the 74-year-old cranky socialist.
She adds that it's unlikely she will support Clinton. When she's done feeling the Bern and he's gone, she'll be right there praising Hillary again. After all Sarandon, who is against a militarized police force, privatized prisons, the death penalty, with the "low" minimum wage, and what she calls threats to women's rights, won't be voting for Trump. Over the years her money has gone to Hillary Clinton (both Senate and presidential campaigns), former California governor Jerry Brown's failed bid for president, Howard Dean, John Edwards and, of course, Barack Obama.
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It's hot and I walk into the Ceres post office to buy four lousy stamps, one of which is for my mail-in ballot. Long ago the post office on Mitchell Road got rid of their stamp vending machine so I must wait. As usual, only one of the five windows is manned and there's a line. Meanwhile, poor Frances is forced by some higher-up to "sweep the line" with her pad of yellow notes, asking individually what our impending business is. I tell her I just want three to four stamps. She tells me that she can ring me up a book if I pay by debit card at her little kiosk (she can't transact greenbacks at her kiosk.) I tell her that I only want four stamps and so she writes "4 stamps" on the note and hands it to me as I wait to hand it the next available clerk. That really helped speed up the line - not.
I finally get to Ben's window and tell him I want four stamps and then hand him Frances' slip, which goes into the garbage can. Great, a waste of time (and money) and contributing to the waste stream.
Maybe I'm not getting the big picture but who was the genius who thought up this process? A better idea: Let Frances open up that second window and start transacting business rather than have her go down the line asking people why they are there. Seems like common sense to me. Does it you?
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Each time I hear what Sacramento is up to I cringe. They swear to uphold the Constitution but continue to take actions that are far from constitutional.
Try this for a stupid law: A San Diego Democrat (of course) authored SB 899 to prohibit retailers from charging higher prices for pink razors over blue razors, claiming it's "gender bias." State Senator Ben Hueso says a package of 12 blue razors cost $7.99 while the pink version costs $12.99. I'm not convinced we're talking the same product just different colors but I believe we should let the market dictate prices. Perhaps it costs more to make fewer pink razors.? Apparently women are willing to pay more for pink razors. Here's an idea: Women can vote with their pocketbook and save money if they wish by buying blue razors. If retailers realize women won't pay more for pink, then the price will come down. Why does Sacramento feel the need to play Price Nazi? If you want to rally for change, shame the company, don't legislate.
Businesses routinely adjust the price of products to suit the market. Example: Compare what motel rooms in Oakdale normally cost versus the week of the world-class Oakdale Rodeo. What legislators will take on that issue? And will they stop auto dealers for charging more for certain color cars?
I expect this kind of behavior from the party which claims that Republicans deny reproductive rights if taxpayers are excused from subsidizing birth control. (Condoms are cheap, folks.)
Fortunately, Tom Berryhill and Anthony Cannella voted against Hueso's dictatorial law, however it passed by a margin of 22 to 12. Six senators, including Cathleen Galgiani were derelict in voting at all.
I'll finish this column on Monday.
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Now it's Monday as I write this. On Sunday horrible news made its way that a family who belonged to my church circle - and still friends with my children - suffered a horrible loss on Saturday. Brandon Hendricks was the youth pastor of our church until he and wife Melissa moved from east Modesto to San Clemente to take a position at another church. I remember pictures of their oldest son, Xander, being hugged by my son as they joined us at a campground above Sonora. On Saturday the Hendricks family decided to check out the SCORE Baja 500 race with friends in Ensenada, Baja, Mexico. The race truck driven by Vivant CEO Todd Pederson lost control on a curve and rolled down the hill, hitting the crowd. The vehicle struck Melissa and broke her leg and plowed right over Xander, 8, killing him. The crash was recorded by numerous cell phone cameras and posted on YouTube. The aftermath is difficult to watch - complete with close-ups of Xander's unresponsive face, the anguished screams of both Brandon and Melissa and dad's calls, "Come on, Xander, pull through, come on" as medical workers pumped his chest in vain. It was a surreal tragedy.
The Hendricks are a close and affectionate family and Xander's loss is unthinkable. No amount of rewinding of video can change the outcome for the grieving. Two of my four children were close to the Hendricks and it was heartbreaking for me to take in their grief as well as a great family.
Sometimes a death has to remind us what's truly important. I was sweating a lot of "small stuff" last week which now seems a bit frivolous. Politics are important, yes, but it pales in comparison to things of greater value. I'm sure Brandon and Melissa would willingly endure the presidency of any of the three candidates - Trump, Clinton or Sanders - if they could have their son back.
It's a reminder, too, that there are many things in life out of our control. We are not in control as much as we want to be. Whether or not we approve, a single unwelcome event can occur suddenly to change everything. But as coach Lou Holtz said: "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it."
I have no idea of what God is up to. Nobody does. We're here for a while and then move on. Someday I suppose it will all make sense. Until then, we have to do our best - always.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org