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Random observations & big surprise in Memphis
On Thursday a sightseeing Courier editor Jeff Benziger bumped into Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Steve Cohen while visiting the Lorraine Motel, site of the Martin Luther King assassination in Memphis. Nadler is still trying to impeach the president, something the editor thinks is ridiculous.

Sometimes you learn many things through social media.

I was surprised to see a post by Gary Inahara who visited the Calaveras Big Trees State Park and spotted a rustic resting bench seat that was affixed with a name plate from the Ceres Lions Club.

The Big Trees are located above Arnold, some 79 miles from Ceres.

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I was honored recently when the Ceres Rotary Club presented me with the highest honor in Rotary – that of a Paul Harris Fellow. In my name, someone donated $1,000 to the Rotary International Foundation to benefit projects helping others across the globe.

Thank you very much to a great service club in Ceres!

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It was heartwarming to see that a section of Yosemite Boulevard last month was named in honor of fallen Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace. A gathering took place to officially recognize that the section of State Route 132 between Root Road and McEwen Road will henceforth be named the Deputy Dennis Wallace Memorial Highway.

Our police officers truly do a work that few are qualified to do for the benefit of us all. It’s too bad that the ultimately price has to be paid by officers and their loved ones for senseless reasons.

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I got out of California from Wednesday through Saturday, taking my mother on a long desired visit to Graceland, home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tenn.

It was an especially poignant moment for me. When I was 14 my family took a four-week road trip to visit family in Tennessee and New York. My dad did not think it was important to stop in front of Graceland in August 1975 much to Mom’s chagrin as an Elvis fan.  It’s indeed very possible that Elvis was in the house as he passed by but he also had a home in Beverly Hills as well. I heard her complaint about Dad not stopping at the gate for the past 44 years so I decided to take her.

It was a sacrifice for me. Mom is in poor condition as age 79 and her body just about gave out and her mind struggles with mild dementia. It was difficult getting her around but my son Bret was there to assist. It’s a trip I needed to take her on. I didn’t want to have regrets that I didn’t do it. Still, I am no Elvis fan but I enjoyed revisiting the music and images of my boyhood.

A side trip to the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 helped quench my thirst to experience some Memphis history. It also contained an unexpected surprise.

As I was pushing my mom’s walker in front of the 1960s facade of the motel, I saw three gentlemen in suits walking my way. I looked up and the shortest man was none other than Rep. Jerry Nadler. I was stunned.

Now I am no fan of Nadler’s. I can’t stand the man’s ugly politics as he seeks to impeach the president for charges nobody in his party can articulate. Politically interested, I felt compelled to ask the New York congressman for a photo with him. Also standing in our photo is Congressman Steve Cohen who asked me where I was from.

Later I thought how ironic: In September 1975 I met U.S. Senator Sam Ervin, famed chairman of the Watergate Committee, during his appearance at Modesto Junior College. Now here I was in the presence of the House Judiciary Committee chairman trying to get rid of another Republican president.

Nixon deserved to be removed from office but I can’t see it for Trump.

Later friends of mine on Facebook suggested that I should have given Nadler an earful of my protest. But I figured he wouldn’t give one hoot what I thought. Besides, he was playing tourist like I was.

It was indeed a strange encounter of happenstance.

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I really laughed at this next piece. (I wish I had written it.) It is a fictitious news article about Walmart discontinuing the sale of auto parts because cars lead to traffic deaths. It’s a pun on the logic of those on the left who think banning the sale of guns will end gun violence. It doesn’t work that way, folks.

Here it is:

“Walmart Discontinues Auto Part Sales To Prevent Car Accidents

BENTONVILLE, ARK. —In a bold move intended to curb the thousands of deaths from vehicles each and every day, Walmart has decided to stop selling auto parts, sources confirmed Tuesday.

According to shocking reports, people have purchased car parts at Walmart and then those cars have been involved in accidents, proving a direct correlation between selling auto parts and causing deaths.

“We can no longer be complicit in an industry that kills over 3,000 people a day,” said a spokesperson for Walmart. “Every time we sell a muffler, steering wheel cover, or flame decal, we are potentially causing the death of a person, and we cannot support that any longer.”

“It’s clear that bad drivers and poor road conditions don’t cause vehicular deaths---cars do.”

Walmart executives said they are beating themselves with a stick to atone for the deaths they’ve already caused.

Is that not rich?

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Speaking of guns, I think all of us wish the mass shootings and senseless gun violence would end. But it’s proven that tough gun laws do not curb gun violence. Chicago is a case in point. That city has some very tough gun laws but criminals do not abide by laws and thus they do as they please. Every weekend we hear about 20 to 40 black on black fatal shootings.

So it does not surprise me that liberal lawmakers in Sacramento are seeking to expand the so called red flag law. California enacted a “red flag law” that took effect in 2016 but it only allows law enforcement and immediate family members to ask judges for gun restraining orders. Assembly Bill 61 by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco would expand that law to allow employers, co-workers and teachers to ask judges to take away guns from people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Many of us who believe in gun freedoms see this as a dangerous slippery slope. Imagine someone falsely accusing some of being prone to gun violence. Matthew Larosiere with the Firearms Policy Coalition believes red flag laws may discourage gun owners from seeking mental health treatment and potentially cause even more deaths. He notes an incident in Maryland when Anne Arundel police killed a 61-year-old man while attempting to serve a gun restraining order. In some instances, the court can grant a gun restraining order without the gun owner’s knowledge until police come knocking at the door.

“They don’t even know that there has been a hearing. What is that going to do, when we’ve already see how tense relationships are with police. You think it’s going to make it better? I don’t think so,” Larosiere said.

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