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Ceres says goodbye to a community giant

Sad news was delivered to me Monday night from Pastor Jim Stochl of Harvest Presbyterian Church who showed up to deliver the Ceres City Council invocation. He let me know that longtime resident Ruth Strange passed away on Friday.

Ironically she died 10 years to the day after the death of her husband Roger Strange, the longtime Ceres pharmacist who took care of Ceres residents’ ailments from 1953 until his retirement in 1984. Was it pure coincidence? Pastor Stochl thinks not.

I had interviewed and featured Ruth in August 2014. She had a very full and blessed life since their marriage in 1950 until his passing a decade ago. They moved to Ceres in 1953 so Roger could work alongside Claude McKnight. Together Roger and Ruth packed a lot of travel into their retirement years, visiting 52 countries and exploring all 50 states. They backpacked and hiked all over the Sierras. She hiked to the top of Half Dome several times, the first attempt at age 15 in 1944. The first time up Half Dome was in 1966 when Roger and Ruth and the girls went.

Ruth watched her husband organize a Downtown Merchants Association and the 1961 Paint Up Festival which was featured in the Saturday Evening Post. The event drew the people of Ceres together to paint the celebrated murals on the walls of downtown buildings.

Ruth herself was an active and proud member of the Harvest Presbyterian Church and the Soroptimist International of Ceres.

She was one the legends of Ceres who will be sorely missed.

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I was dismayed at Nancy Pelosi’s behavior during and after the State of the Union address. She couldn’t humble herself and stand to applaud any of Trump’s successes for black America. But to rip up a copy of his speech at the end while bitterly pursing her lips as if she cemented them with Preparation H?

She turns 80 on March 26 so isn’t it time for her to retire?

Trump probably never delivered a finer address, touting America’s economic health and the Administration’s progress to bring back jobs but Democrats couldn’t even applaud that. Truth is, they don’t want Americans to prosper – especially if Trump had a hand in it. Their hatred is visceral.

I was just as appalled that freshman Congressman Josh Harder issued a silly, rather dismissive statement after the State of the Union speech that said: “It’s easy to talk a big game, but it takes real work to actually get things done. My door is open, but I don’t expect the president to walk through it.”

Oh yeah, like the president is expected to kowtow to a partisan freshman congressman who just voted with party boss Pelosi to impeach him even though they had two non-issue articles and no evidence.

House Democrats are such bitter people. The best we can hope for is the Democrats to lose their majority this November and District 10 can do its part by not re-electing Josh Harder.

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Have you noticed how the theory of climate change has allowed all kinds of politicians to seize the opportunity to add more taxes upon folks? Now Sacramento County officials are pushing a November ballot measure that would jack up the local sales tax by a half-cent to improve transportation – with an emphasis on offering alternatives to more roads for more cars. Measure A could raise more than $8 billion locally over the next 40 years for new bridges, light rail lines, bike paths, freeway interchanges and sidewalks to schools.

Hopefully Sacramento County voters won’t fall for it. It’s a retry of a previous failed Measure B which failed on the November 2016 ballot. Face it: Americans are not going to give up their cars and walk everywhere. And Californians are also way overtaxed!

Meanwhile, proponents are always drilling into the narrative that “climate change is real,” like former Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn, a Democrat. They always link their claims with the need to raise our taxes. How people don’t see a connection to the scam of manmade climate change advocates is beyond me.

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Not surprisingly, Californians, it turns out, are not very happy. The Trump economy is doing California well but the Public Policy Institute of California recently asked likely voters if California was headed the right direction the reply was overwhelmingly negative: 41 percent right direction, 54 percent wrong direction. Chief among their concerns are the homeless which are camping out everywhere. Just take a look at the jaw-dropping mess of homeless camps in the oleanders of Highway 99 just north and south of the Hatch Road overpass; or at the Tuolumne Boulevard exit in Modesto. When asked “What do you think is the most important issue facing people in California?” homelessness placed No. 1 at 16 percent, ahead of even jobs and the economy, at 13 percent. Next are housing costs and immigration, each at 11 percent, and the environment, 10 percent. Taxes and state spending were at 9 percent. People are also fed up with gridlock on our highways.

It bothers us to see our state looking like a Third World s---hole. And I have a sneaking suspicion we all feel that throwing millions of hard-earned tax dollars at the problem will do absolutely nothing but maybe slightly hide the problem. There is a massive problem with drug abuse and a spiritual malaise in our state.

As such, half of Californians are leaving; which is bad news for other states which don’t have the problems of traffic and high taxes. My fear is that Californians will contaminate states where I hope to go one day, whether it be Idaho or Nevada.

* * * * *

Supervisor Jim DeMartini has spent his life in the Westport area. He’s stepping down at the end of the year and moving to Nevada.

Jim tells me all the time how he enjoys reading my column every Sunday morning and that he agrees with me most of the time. The Cal Matters website carried an article in which it stated DeMartini has sold 1,100 acres and is out of here. He was quoted as saying, “I’ve had it with California.”

Lots of people have, Jim.

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In case you’re wondering, DeMartini has not endorsed in the three-way race for his replacement but he’s told me that Channce Condit would be at the bottom of his list.

Just remember that when police and fire associations endorse candidates, they are truly only labor unions.

And as far as endorsements go, I have a standard rule: Whoever the Bee endorses, find somebody else to vote for. 

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I see Gov. Newsom is totally hell-bent on fostering more class warfare.

Ever catering for the votes of low-income, Gov. Newsom now is floating the ridiculous idea of reducing traffic fines in half for the poor. This is nothing but pure political butt-kissing to his base.

Traffic fines are intended to be punitive, to hit the pocketbook so you’ll modify your behavior. I can attest; after I received a traffic ticket from a CHP officer in Calaveras County several years ago and paid the fine, I have kept a watchful eye on my speedometer. So if you lessen the impact of a fine on a poor person who violates the law, where are the consequences intending to curtail such violations as speeding, illegal passing, talking on a cell phone while driving, tailgating, right-of-way violations and the like?

Here’s an idea for the governor: For the rich and poor, escape all traffic fines by not violating traffic laws!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Democrats don’t think anyone should face the consequences for bad behavior. Bernie wants felons to be able to vote, and now Newsom wants to gift half of a traffic fine to someone just because he’s poor. These pandering politicians are a joke.

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Here’s another stupid law being proposed by Democrats under the golden dome: Assembly Bill 2070 that would force registered voters to vote.

We’re not dumb. We know the only reason the Democrats support this one is to get the young voters (Rush dubs them “skulls full of mush”) into the polls to counterbalance the ones who do vote – the older people who have grown wise in their old age and generally vote conservative.

I’m all for people exercising their right to vote – after they have done their homework and studied the candidates and issues, not just glancing at those slick mailers with photos of a candidate posed with friends and ex-wives.

Remember what JFK himself said: “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” And Theodore Roosevelt noted that: “A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”

Judging by a lot of shoot-from-the-hip comments I see on social media, forcing all voters to vote is a terrible idea. We already have a full slate of self-serving liberals dominating state offices because people aren’t paying attention when they vote.

Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, said “California is a national leader on expanding voting rights to its citizens.” I’ll say – they even want lawbreakers in the form of felons behind bars to vote.

Professor John Lott, Jr, PhD, at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, said Bernie Sanders’ notion is bad policy, commenting: “If Democrats fight for and achieve felon enfranchisement, they can count on having an even more loyal voting bloc.” He notes in the West Feliciana Parish, a Louisiana county with only 12,888 adults who are not behind bars, would see politicians courting the 6,300 prisoners behind bars at the Louisiana State Penitentiary for votes. Lott also questions the morality of allowing rapists to decide who will win elections. “Sexual offenders aren’t going to support women’s safety and health issues or education the way that other citizens will.”

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There are no bounds to the insanity of our state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Our Trump-sue-happy AG is lodging yet another protest, as always while trying to confuse the issue between illegal and legal immigrants.

Becerra announced on Thursday he is co-leading two separate amicus briefs in support of lawsuits challenging Trump’s new healthcare requirements for most visa applicants. Together, these federal actions would require consular officers to deny entry to prospective immigrants who might, at any point in the future, make minor and temporary use of public programs, and to assess whether prospective immigrants have qualifying health coverage or the ability to pay for their reasonably foreseeable medical care.

Seems to me Trump is right on the money to vet immigrants who plan to not contribute skills but be a leach on taxpayer-supported social programs.

We get that Becerra and his party is trying to usher in as many government-dependent immigrants to change the country’s traditional makeup so they continue to hold the power. But his unbridled immigration stance is self-serving. 

Estimates indicate that as many as 65 percent of recently arrived green card holders would not have been granted a visa under the healthcare proclamation. So sorry. It’s time to vet those who come into our country.

There was a time in our country when we did such vetting. You didn’t get in unless you had work waiting for you or someone to support you and, unless you were free of disease. We also closed our doors for about 40 years from the 1920s to 1965. It’s not a bad policy at all.

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More stupidity on our college campuses: Did you hear that the University of Montana held an essay contest on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and when it was announced that the prize winning essays were written by white students, race activists and others cried racism?

Never mind that Montana has few black residents and no black students entered the contest. Never mind the fact that MLK wanted his children growing up in a country where people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

The fallout turned so ugly that the University of Montana took down pictures of the four young women who won the contest, along with excerpts of their essays when people had started posting threats against them.

So much for open-mindedness on our college campuses.

These race baiters are an abomination to the whole message of King.

There is something seriously wrong on our high school and college campuses.

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at