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I remember when Bush 41 came here

The passing of former President George HW Bush gave me pause to remember the day he visited Stanislaus County. I saved the press schedule for the visit of the vice president and Mrs. Bush on Oct. 15, 1988.

I was a 27-year-old liberal during that election and clueless about politics other than blindly supporting cold fish Democrat Michael Dukakis because my family – especially my Depression era grandparents – always praised FDR and always voted Democrat. Despite being a dumb Democrat at the time, I attended the Bush rally at the Beyer Park baseball field in Modesto. Mike Love and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys were present and sang a rendition of “Good Vibrations” modified as “Bush vibrations.” Actor Chuck Norris was there as was son Jeb Bush, wife Barbara Bush, and Gov. George Deukmejian and his wife Gloria. Vice President Bush mentioned how the Beach Boys had a “new hit in Kokomo” and as he left and hung out the bus window that song blasted from the loudspeaker a top. I remember the way Bush said he was happy to be in “Mo-Desto” rather than the locals pronunciation of Mah-desto.

The day started out with the entourage arriving at the Stockton Airport at 9:15 a.m. and jumping onto a campaign bus that first stopped for a rally in Ripon, of all places.

Bush arrived at Beyer Park at 12:10 p.m. and departed 45 minutes later to travel east on Sylvan to southbound Oakdale Road to Mitchell Road, across the bridge (which was just two lane at the time) into Ceres where Ceres Police helped hold back traffic to allow the motorcade to pass unimpeded. The Bush entourage continued down Highway 99 to Golden State Blvd. where it stopped for lunch at the Latif’s, a downtown Turlock diner that hasn’t changed probably since 1964 and hasn’t changed lick since Bush ate there. A plaque marks the chair he sat in.

From Turlock the motorcade went to Merced for a 2:30 p.m. rally at the courthouse. The vice president then toured the Valley Grain Products plant in Madera with the day ending at a tailgate party at the Fresno State football game. The entourage boarded a jet and flew to Denver Colorado.

It was an event that many still talk about today and I know that I will never forget one of the last times we have ever been visited by a national candidate. Of course, Michael Dukakis stopped at Graceada Park in Modesto also in 1988 with running mate Lloyd Bentsen in tow. Bob Dole did stop at the cannery plant across the river from Ceres with Bo Derek in October 1996 but no presidential candidate has returned since.

In 1999 I was able to personally meet and speak to George W. Bush when he was running for president. The encounter was in Bakersfield. Mr. Bush was such a warm and congenial man who stood very close to me as he spoke. I knew at that point the Bushes were down-to-earth and genuine people. There was no phony pretense about them whatsoever.

Now about a year after the 1988 election a brother-in-law told me that I live needed to listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. I had an open mind and gave him a shot and could not believe how much common sense this conservative icon made. I have been a staunch conservative since.

Unfortunately when I went to vote in the 1992 election and cast my vote for Bush this time the nation was enamored by that young Arkansas governor who what subject us to one very embarrassing sex scandal.

* * * * *

I walked into the Ceres Community Center for Thursday evening’s swearing-in of councilmembers Channce Condit and Linda Ryno and noticed a man passing behind me right. He was Gary Condit.

It was a rare appearance and I hadn’t seen Condit since he made a campaign appearance in Merced in 2002. He showed up to watch grandson Channce get sworn in. I have a memory of rolling down Acorn Lane one day about 26-27 years ago and remember seeing Gary holding Channce as a baby out in the front yard. That was before life changed in a dramatic and pathetic way for the Condits.

Condit, now 70, appeared smaller than I remember and he was considerably grayer and older.

He made his rounds like it was an old reunion.

 * * * * *

We tend to think we have more time on Earth than we do. Most of us just know we are going to grow old, turn grey, see our great-grandchildren and the best we can hope for is a long healthy life that ends in a peaceful passing during our sleep far out into the future after we’ve done all and seen all that we wanted to.

Not true for many.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving my son called me to tell me a good friend of mine – and also the stepfather of his wife – passed. He was just 56. He had passed away on the couch in his sleep.

Jeff didn’t take very good care of himself, eating poorly, smoking and maintaining a physically strenuous job in construction.

He was a great human being and loved many. We went on mission trips together in Mexico. He generously barbecued meals for friends and family. He was transparent in his shortcomings and sought to help others with addictions through the Celebrate Recovery program. He loved watching football. He loved playing basketball with my son. We shared a lot of tears together but mostly laughter. He had a deep, hearty laugh that usually broke into his smoker’s cough. Jeff enjoyed life and being around others.

His passing has affected me and kind of punched my holiday season in the gut. I’m just not feeling it this year.

When you’re young and associating with youth you don’t think a lot about growing old. You look at the old people in your life and think, “Ah, that’s not me and never will be me.” Then one day you hit your 50’s and see loved ones, grandparents, friends being thrown into the chasm of death by the conveyor belt of life. It’s then that you start realizing your own destiny as being on that same conveyor belt. Try as we may, we cannot maintain the motion that keeps us from the edge of the conveyor belt. No amount of running in the other direction can spare any of us from the ledge.

We have to make our time count. We simply have to love one another more and let some of the petty grievances go. We’re all here for a short time and then we’re in God’s hands.

* * * * *

We receive lots of press releases from state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, perhaps one of the state officials I despise the most, in which he routinely brags about fleecing corporations of millions for state coffers.

If you’re a shopper at Target – and most of us are – remember how Becerra milked Target of a $7.4 million for violation of environmental laws. Don’t think that doesn’t affect prices at the store.

It seems that from 2012 to 2016, representatives of district attorney’s offices rummaged through Target’s trash compactors and found a total of items of hazardous waste, such as electronics, batteries, aerosol cans, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and medical waste including syringes, over-the-counter and prescribed drugs, as well as confidential customer medical information.

Do any of you ever throw these items in the trash? Be honest now. Imagine hefty fines being levied your way for doing the same thing Target does and I’m sure you wouldn’t be as happy as you are seeing Target take it.

Becerra is one sue-happy individual – particularly when it comes to throwing obstacles in the way of Donald Trump policies.

But the very next day a press release rolls in to show how Becerra is bending over backwards trying to usher in the so-called refugee caravan into our great state of California. His release states: “This de facto denial of asylum claims violates the law and creates inhumane conditions at the border, forcing families to live outside in extreme weather conditions without access to basic health services, education, and other life essentials.” Well, if you don’t allow them in, you won’t incur ANY COSTS, would you, Mr. X?

Who was it that took it upon their selves to journey across the entire state of Mexico in masse despite knowing they wouldn’t be allowed in?

Becerra’s release continues: “States, counties, and local governments will incur the cost of providing services to asylum-seekers who suffer unnecessary trauma as a result of (Trump’s) Rule.”

Becerra is an embarrassing political hack who merely is trying to grow the base of the Democrat Party.

* * * * *

I detest thieves. People who take things you work hard for and believe they are entitled to them are pathetic individuals. To do it to a woman in her 90’s is beyond pathetic – they have no redeeming qualities. That goes for the thugs who approached an elderly woman in her 90s outside the Turlock shopping area of Crossroads on Saturday evening, Dec. 1 and stole her purse. The low-life thugs used her credit cards a short time later at Target. The woman told officers that while she was upset at the loss of her purse and credit cards, she was most disappointed at losing photos of her deceased husband, including some from his service in World War II.

How utterly detestable.

* * * * *

I’m going to say something that may seem controversial but keep in mind that I tend to be pro-law enforcement, with the exception of rogue officers going crazy with suspects, such as kicking a man where it counts after he surrenders spread eagle on the ground.

Lots of people are concerned about the series of accidents with Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies and asking if there is a problem. Consider that:

• May 12, 2017 – Deputy Jason Garner is rolling to a non-emergency call when he smashing into a tire shop on Crows Landing Road and South Seventh Street. The car bursts into flames and also kills passenger and Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson. A lengthy 14-month investigation determined that Garner was traveling at 89 mph when he lost control on his way to a non-emergency call. Lots of eyebrows were raised with that one, especially when we are told that Garner suffered an undisclosed health-related condition that “rendered him incapable of cognitively controlling a motor vehicle.” It sounded like a whitewash for legal reasons.

Assuming that Garner had a medical problem that made him jam his foot to the gas pedal to reach 89 mph and he wasn’t just showing off for the female CSO sitting in his front seat, more questions arise. The investigation said Garner suffered anxiety. An autopsy suggested he had an enlarged heart yet it wasn’t diagnosed by his doctor. And if Garner suffered from anxiety and the department knew that, why was he still on patrol? The last thing the public needs is a deputy with anxiety while performing a high-stress job.

• August 15, 2018 – A 29-year-old Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy ran a red signal light on eastbound Hatch Road at Crowslanding roads and collided with an Oakdale Police car resulting in limited injuries.

• Nov. 25, 2018 – Deputy Antonio “Tony” Hinostroza is killed after losing control of his patrol car and smashing into the aluminum traffic signal pole at the southwest corner of Terminal Avenue and Claribel Road as he joined a vehicle pursuit of a drunken driver. If you’ve seen the pictures of his patrol car wrapped and contorted around the pole you know he was traveling way, way too fast for the safety of himself and others.

A string of bad luck? Or careless unchecked officer safety?

I’m not privy to all the facts of Deputy Hinostroza’s crash but it is abundantly apparent that for a solo crash to end as violently as did his that excessive speed was the primary factor.

I understand the need for police to apprehend drunken drivers for they are a public menace but the unintended consequence of losing yet another officer’s life seems like too high a price to pay. Hopefully our new Sheriff Jeff Dirkse will address what the rest of us see as a troubling trend.

How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at