By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Harder has not been here very long

There was some political talk about Congressman Jeff Denham and the officers who were at Wednesday’s “Coffee With a Cop” event in Ceres. Denham seemed glad to say there were only 34 days left in this grueling (my word, not his) campaign. (Now it’s 27 days until Election Day.) He mentioned how every two years the Democrats find someone outside the district to run against Denham. He mentioned how Michael Eggman still lives in another part of the Valley.

This election Denham has portrayed Democrat opponent Josh Harder as “Bay Area Harder.” Even CNBC recognized Harder’s vulnerability when they published this in June 2017: “The tech industry, which donated about 40 times the amount of money to Clinton as to Trump last year, is a huge asset to Harder. But he knows some local voters might see him as a carpetbagger: He was educated at Stanford and Harvard, and spent the bulk of his career in white-collar consulting and tech jobs.”

According to a New York Times article, Josh Harder married Pamela Sud on Aug. 11 in Vienna, Va. The article stated that “the groom was previously an adjunct instructor of business at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif.” I suppose he is so wealthy – and nothing wrong with that – that his full-time job is running for Congress. According to the article, the new Mrs. Harder had been employed as the head of business operations and strategy for Clever, an educational technology company in San Francisco and quit her job in May to work full-time on her husband’s campaign.

We are told that the Harders are renting an apartment in Turlock (probably because if he loses they’re high-tailing it back to the Bay Area). When you search for a person on typically an address history will pop up. When you search for Josh Harder, what comes up is an address for MJC West campus. Keep in mind that from 2014 to 2017, Harder was vice president of Bessemer Venture Partners which is headquartered in Menlo Park; and from 2008 to 2011 he was a consultant to the Boston Consulting Group. So as one can deduce, Harder has spent little time in the Valley. Could be why the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau backed Denham – the one that Harder tried to deny, by lawsuit, the term of “farmer” on the ballot. Denham prevailed.

By the way, Bessemer has given Harder $84,100. Alphabet Inc. gave him $62,265. But the Democrats are throwing millions at his campaign.

* * * * *

Why is it we have to undergo these tortorous congressional elections every two years yet we give U.S. senators a six-year pass? Seems to me both offices should be four-year terms.

* * * * *

It’s funny how Democrats think. To them, everything is collusion.

They even now claim something sinister was going on between Jeff Denham and former opponent Ted Howze.

Democratic strategist Andrew Feldman has accused the GOP of underhanded tricks. He claims that Denham paid Howze to get in the June primary in an attempt to edge out all the Democrats in the state’s insane new top two election system.  Denham’s campaign has channeled $35,000 to Howze who says he wants to run for the 9th or 10th Congressional seat in 2020.

While most of us would see Denham helping a fellow Republican to get a head start run against Democrat Rep. Jerry McNerney, Feldman sees collusion. He claims “Howze got paid to get in that race.” I say if that’s all he was donated, that’s not a lot of money in the realm of congressional political campaigns.

Howze says the charge is horse manure. He told the Bee: “I’m not a time waster. I’m not going to run with the ultimate (goal) of electing somebody else. Anybody who watched the race saw how hard I went after Jeff.”

Feldman’s theory works like this: Denham was quaking in his boots that he would lose to a Democrat so he enlisted Howze to run, hoping to get the second highest vote count and knock any Democrat off the November ballot. Howze would then fall on the sword because there was no way Howze could defeat incumbent Denham. Voila, Howze then collects money! Problem is Howze amassed 14.6 percent of the vote to finish third behind Josh Harder’s 17 percent.

Even county Supervisor Jim DeMartini, a member of the Republican Central Committee of Stanislaus County, concluded Feldman has a screwball theory.

To believe it, you’d have to believe that Howze put himself through all of the hassle of prepping for and showing up at debates, running campaign ads on the radio, putting up yard signs, speaking to various groups and walking precincts not because he truly wanted to be in Congress but because he’s a bondservant of Jeff Denham. It’s not a plausible theory whatsoever.

* * * * *

We all know that America is extremely polarized. I concede that there are extremists on both sides but the incivility seems to be lopsided. Case in point: When was the last time you heard of conservatives chasing down Democrat lawmakers and hounding them in restaurants like they did Ted Cruz? Ask yourself how it just so happened that CNN cameras just happened to catch two Democrat activists waylaying Sen. Jeff Flake last week in an elevator as they berated him for saying he’d vote for Brett Kavanaugh.

I catch the same incivility for my columns on Facebook. In response to my Sept. 19 column, one Ceres High coach (whom I will graciously not share his name here) wrote this to me: “Plain and simple Benzinger (sic), you are an idiot! Quit trying to make our Courier a tabloid!” He didn’t explain or address anything I wrote but some suggested that he didn’t even read my column.

Then came a comment from Alisa Herrmann-McLelland (who has displayed contempt for me for years now), in response to what I wrote on Sept. 26. I appreciate reasoning when someone disagrees with me so I was disappointed that her only response was: “For the love of democracy can we get an educated op-ed section to this one sided old man ?!”

One-sided old man? (I wonder if she voted for “old man” Bernie Sanders or “old woman” Hillary Clinton, who were 75 and 69 respectively, on Election Day 2016.) I answered her by telling Alissa I was 57 and asked her age and she replied: “old enough to know what bias means and how it’s used to intimidate and skew, old enough to have voted for many presidents, old enough to be a veteran of this nations (sic) military (sic) and old enough to know opinions are not facts.”

Then there was the highly enlightened response of a J.r. Lopez who offered: “Another Bull (emoji of a pile of excrement) article written by yours truly Jeff Benziger! You and your articles are garbage!”

The truth is we encourage people to write letters to the editor but few ever devote the time to write an intelligent piece. Instead, they resort to name calling, probably because they cannot prepare a reasoned opinion.

* * * * *

Our front-page story on the coming of the Walmart Supercenter seemed to have drawn some confusion.

Some apparently are under the assumption that two Walmarts will be in Ceres. Not the case. The sad truth is we’ve been covering this story so long (over 11 years) and had numerous times reported the fact that the existing store will be closed once the new one is completed that we thought everyone knew that. Thus, that wasn’t included in the story.

* * * * *

It seems that every election someone calls me on the phone to ask my opinion on propositions because they respect my opinion and they haven’t done their own homework. I’ll tell you that this year I’m voting no on propositions 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 10 and 12 and only voting yes on propositions 5, 6, 7 and 11.So to translate, no more bonds period, no rent control, no digging into dialysis clinic profits to channel them back to insurance companies, yes to giving seniors portability on tax base when they move, yes to repealing the huge gas tax approved in SB1, yes to quit changing our time, no to bigger animal cages, and darn right paramedics need to be on call during a break just like any cop or firefighters.

* * * * *

Three things you will never see in Ceres:

1). Any Republican campaign signs in front of the California Teachers Association office on Mitchell Road.

2). Nice landscaping at the Ceres Post Office.

3). An entire residential block where everyone takes care of their property.

* * * * *

Ever notice how politics works in America?

(Read this as a caveman would grunt):

Trump bad. Hate Trump. Destroy Trump.

Trump nominee bad. Hate Trump nominee.

Throw everything at him to stop him.

(End of caveman voice).

Why the hate? Because of Trump. It motivates the left. In their minds, he is the sole reason for their angst, for their hatred, for their unhappiness. They invent new ways to destroy him and they’re putting their eggs in the next basket, the election. Hence, that’s why you see so many signing up to support a carpetbagger liberal like Josh Harder. They see him as a vote for Trump impeachment.

I have frequent conversations with some leftists who really cannot reason despite how much logic you exhibit. They disregard and move onto the next talking point. Theirs is always a moving target.

When one of my son’s friends insisted Trump needed to be impeached – despite any legal reason for doing so – I relented for argument sake and said, “That’s okay, I’ll be happy with Mike Pence as president.” To which the answer was no, he would be disqualified from being president because of unproven collusion with Russia. When I suggested fine, Paul Ryan is next in line they said no, Hillary Clinton would be president. They are devoid of reality.

* * * * *

This is what it comes down to – accusations of throwing ice at a party?

I’ve heard of some cockamamie ways of trying to derail someone in politics but digging out a 36-year-old high school yearbook in a stab at someone’s reputation rates as one of the stupidest and more desperate measures. But welcome to today’s Democratic Party.

Extreme measures were taken to try to take out Brett Kavanaugh. I think most Americans saw it for what it was – a last-ditch attempt to prevent yet another conservative on the Supreme Court. While they were going over Kavanaugh’s 1983 yearbook with a fine-tooth comb, the left selectively dismissed a more contemporary and relevant account of Bill Clinton raping Juanita Broaddrick in 1978 when he was Arkansas attorney general and biting her lip only to be told “You better put some ice on that.” Or how he pulled out his male member for Paula Jones and told her to “kiss it” only to be rebuffed and parting with this cautionary statement: “You are smart. Let’s keep this between ourselves.”


The story has been buried by the national media. Unemployment is at its lowest time in decades, just 3.7 percent.

Our Valley is another story, however. It’s the Appalachians of the West Coast. The Valley of the Poor.

Let’s face it. It may always be that way given the influx of poor immigrants who came without skills, little education and the ability to speak English. Consider the lack of jobs. It’s a recipe for poverty.

When the congressional candidates for District 10 were asked how they would improve the Valley economy. Harder suggested “trickledown economics” never worked and poo-pooed tax cuts helping the economy (even though it has proven to work). He hinted at more federal spending in education. I agree education is key but why the federal government needs to do what the state should be doing is beyond me.

Denham suggested private business needs to be encouraged and spoke of how Trump tax cuts are stimulating the economy and how businesses are giving bonuses and adding jobs.

* * * * *

I’m not the only one who has noticed how when Harder talks he has the same cadence as Barack Obama. I’m wondering if he studies video of Obama speeches to nail it. No doubt, Obama is one of his heroes.

* * * * *

Did you hear that the Modesto Schools Board of Education has voted in favor of a self-imposed “gag order” that doesn’t allow elected board trustees to speak to the media? They say all media contacts must be through the superintendent.

It’s sad that elected members would allow themselves to be hog-tied by high-paid administrators and have their rights taken away in this quest for a “united front.” Sounds like education Gestapos get their way at controlling their power over elected board members. Had I been on that board I would have firmly voted no way.

How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at