(This column originally ran on June 10, 2015. It’s being published again with some tweaks to make it up-to-date. Jeff Benziger had to time to write a column this week because of a much needed vacation break last week).
Nearly 58 years ago, two young Valley “kids” were coming back from Japan aboard a Navy transport ship, the USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey. Married in Merced County on Feb. 14, 1960, the 20-year-old groom served in the U.S. Navy in Japan and his bride followed. As the ship docked at Fort Mason in San Francisco, they were bringing back a true “Made in Japan” product - me.
I was only in Japan for six weeks so it was as if I was never there. My first memories go back to Milpitas, where my parents settled for a time. Milpitas was wide open then with empty space and freeways were mere highways. California was home to 16.5 million people, less than half the population today. Gas was about 24 cents a gallon, average income was $5,315, a new car cost $2,275 and a loaf of bread was 21 cents. My parents bought a new house on Temple Drive for $12,000 (it’s worth $625,000 today but it’s small and run-down).
In 1966 my parents – much to the dismay of Mom who loved Bay area weather – moved to Modesto. Things were also very different in Stanislaus County than they are today. There was no large Memorial Hospital on Coffee Road. I remember the intersection of Tully and Standiford in Modesto was where city met orchards. The only McDonald’s was opposite Montgomery Ward on McHenry Avenue. Modesto’s population was about 37,000 and Ceres to about 4,500 people.
Up until the mid-1960s, there was no freeway cutting through Ceres; it was a grade level highway reminiscent of South Ninth Street, with traffic interrupted with periodic signal lights.
Our country has changed more than in physical ways. We were freer to live.
We could ride in the back of a pickup and we lived to tell about it.
We could ride our bikes to the park without our parents being arrested for having “rogue” children.
Things felt so safe we could walk away from our unlocked door where the milk man would leave tasty cold bottles of milk. We weren’t afraid of strangers; I remember scouring neighborhoods to collect unredeemed soda bottles so we could take them back for the deposit and buy more sodas.
Schoolyard scraps were settled with an exchange of insults or fists, not with guns.
We had bullies but no gangs.
Kids played outside in the dirt - before some parent decided it wasn’t healthy - with imagination, not zombified by electronics and games for hours or days.
More often than not, we went to church, friends included.
Kids didn’t sue their parents for not funding their college; they worked their way through.
Kids respected their parents and knew their place and didn’t back talk like kids today.
Even our leaders seemed to rule with common sense. Those were the days when the governor of California - who was also named Brown - wasn’t afraid to build dams because he knew the importance of water storage to farmers. Those were the days before environmentalists decided fish were more important than people and started backing Democrats. Former Gov. Brown was delusional in thinking we can all conserve our way out of a drought and is never held accountable as to why he didn’t build a single dam during his first terms from 1975 to 1983. But instead of billions for dams that produce power and water, old Jerry had no problem supporting a $68 billion high-speed rail system that few will use because they’re too busy paying taxes instead of luxury forms of transportation.
Forget California; I almost don’t recognize America anymore. The country has been hijacked by the left.
Social media shows how skewed people’s thinking has become. I read a Facebook post where a certain KeKe Dat B**** stated, “I feel like Nicki Minaj has done more for black people than Martin Luther King ever could. Nicki has her own clothing line.”
Wow. Something tells me that she’s serious.
I believed that once we elected a black president that would put an end to talk about America being racist. But it seems racial tensions have never been higher, possibly because Obama and wife are constantly reciting past injustices and not allowing us to get past race. The president evokes sympathy for Trayvon Martin and Freddy Gray types - ignoring their roles in their own deaths - while reciting how bad police are in this country. No wonder many rioters side with black victims and against police. In 2009 Obama had the audacity to condemned Cambridge, Mass., police as acting “stupidly” when arresting a black Harvard professor after a confrontation at his home. He also stated “”I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played.” Facts were that Professor Henry Louis Gates was disrespectful to the officer and Obama showed that he rushes to judgement in his haste to cry racism.
When he should have been silent, the president has added his two cents in other high-profile cases to fan racial tensions. There was no “hands up, don’t shoot” from Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., so when the St. Louis Rams made the “hands up don’t shoot” gesture, it was all built on a lie. Now a memorial plaque is in place to mark where Brown died. Why? Let’s remember that he wrestled a gun from an officer, after he slammed the door on the same officer who only stopped him because he matched the description of the brute who just roughed up a store clerk and stole some smokes.
Thus, in twisted leftist America, the villain is falsely hailed as a martyr. I’ll bet KeKe Dat B**** agrees Michael Brown was a great man, cops are bad.
Lyndon Johnson, despite his monumental ego, wasn’t always trying insert himself into the pop culture of his day. Presidents then acted presidential, not like pop icons. Last week Obama heralded Bruce Jenner as a hero for deciding he was wrongly born as a man and opted for self-mutilation to appear as a woman all while having the biology of a man. Pardon me for not being celebratory at last week’s “coming out” photo of Jenner, posing as a woman in this grotesque and forced pose to simulate a female’s curves, as he pinned one leg over the top of the other. It’s been reported that he still has his male parts, though, making Bruce a transsexual not transgendered. I don’t share this P.C. praise of Jenner because I think he has some deep-seeded psychological issues and is to be pitied, not held up as role models for other confused individuals to follow.
Dr. Paul McHugh, a former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, suggests that Jenner seek treatment for a mental disorder. He notes that a sex-change experience “can lead to grim psychological outcomes.” The majority of those who undergo a “sex change” suffer from an increase in depression. A study showed that 41 percent of those who are transgender have attempted suicide - nine times the national average. Those who attribute this condition to transphobia are wrong: In fact, those who are out in the open about their transgender status are more likely to attempt suicide.
Food for thought: Why do some gays and lesbians believe their attraction to the same gender is due to being “born that way,” while Jenner and Bono types claim they were “born” into the wrong gender and thus need to change to undo what nature (God) did?
Even judges have confused thinking. In April, U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco, ordered that the state pay for the sex change operation of inmate Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy (AKA Michelle-Lael Norsworthy), saying that denying the surgery is unconstitutional. Shut up. Why is this convicted murderer still breathing? If he felt lucky that he hasn’t visited the electric chair, it isn’t showing.
Taking Tigar’s logic farther, why isn’t every inmate suing the state on the basis that incarceration denies them enjoyment of life outside prison walls and is therefore unconstitutional?
Our state is led by confused people. Our Legislature tells schools to educate students on what a great man Harvey Milk was. They only care because he was openly gay but really his most noteworthy accomplishment was the pooper-scooper law in San Francisco.
We’re telling our schools that school bathrooms must accommodate transgendered children into the bathroom of the gender they weren’t born into.
Then again, our society seems to be focused entirely on sex. It pervades the culture. While the state has real problems with the economy and water, legislators, the focus seems to be on plastic bags and forcing the LGBT agenda.
Openly gay Democrat state Senator Ricardo Lara wants to replace the statue of Father Junipero Serra in the U.S. Capitol’s Statutory Hall with one of astronaut Sally Ride. Reason being Ride was openly lesbian and Lara thinks it’s time we had a “member of the LGBT community” there.
Leftists like Lara suggest historical figures like Serra and Christopher Columbus were not trailblazers (and men of faith) worthy of celebration but condemned as evil.
Thinking has indeed become futile in Sacramento and D.C. It’s time we had part-time Legislature so that power-drunk lawmakers will have less time to think of new stupid laws and ways to dig deeper into the pockets of the rest of us peons who make the country work day in and day out.
The war against gun owners continues as Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney offered a bill dictating that gun owners must possess liability insurance or be fined. Democrats have also been supportive of limiting ammunition sales when more law-abiding citizens should own guns to protect themselves from the inmates flooding California streets because our governor doesn’t like building prisons to house criminals so he’s forced by a court to release them back into society.
California mollycoddles criminals. While watching last week’s drama on Highway 99 with a stolen car chase ending in one arrest, one Ceres sergeant told me, “They won’t get anything out of this,” meaning they would be out of jail in no time.
We used to hang horse thieves, in this country, because the loss of a horse meant loss of economic livelihood. People steal cars today – and instead of serious punishment – we let them go hours later so they can return to this silly cat and mouse game. The current system isn’t working.
I’m alarmed to read a poll indicating that 53 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of Republicans think illegal aliens should be able to vote in U.S. elections. Pardon the ignorance, but not only is such action unconstitutional but it threatens our national sovereignty.
Of course the Democrats support the concept of non-citizens voting. After all, 70 to 75 percent of Latinos vote Democratic. It also explains why Democrats are opposed to requiring voters to show I.D. at the polls. IDs would prevent voter fraud, so why are Democrats opposed?
Hillary Clinton has supported a 20-day voting period. Is that because she feels her supporters aren’t responsible enough to either send in their mail ballots (which they can do for weeks) or because they can’t discipline themselves to get down the polls on Election Day like we have for the past 239 years?
Many don’t like the direction of the country. But I say, you deserve the government that you get.
Do your homework and fire the officials who enslave us for their benefit.
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 email@example.com