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Unexpected emotions come at Fair exhibit

I wasn’t expecting the emotions I felt during a visit to the Stanislaus County Fair when looking at the tributes to fallen soldiers from California. One of the main exhibit building halls has a very emotional memorial exhibit, “Remembering Our Fallen,” a stark reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by 750 fallen from California killed in the war on terror while wearing our country’s uniform in a war zone. The photo memorial, which includes military and personal photos of each of California’s fallen, is traveling throughout the state. Most gripping were the handwritten cards from family members attached to some of the posters of fallen service personnel. Even more gripping was seeing their childhood photos in juxtaposition to photos of them in uniform before they were killed in action.

Freedom has never been free. We must never forget.

Please visit the exhibit if you’re going to the Fair and then thank them, and God, for our freedoms. Then do your civic part and never ever forget to vote.

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I disappoint myself when I make any typos – in a front-page headline, no less. And I’ve made a lot in 32 years here. But nobody called or pointed out this one but I caught it the next morning, in print, of course.

I own up to the July 10 error, made under the stress of deadline and lack of sleep the night before. “Church use of Community Center will help erase decifit.” Um, that’s deficit.

The InDesign program does not flag typos as does the Microsoft Word program.

I’m not the only one. Recently the Turlock Journal editor made a boo-boo in a front-page headline: “Letter cries fowl over TUSD hiring process.” There were a few chicken cackles heard around the office.

Probably about 20 years ago, former Shell downtown station owner Kathy Griffin gave me a lot of good natured ribbing when I – in my less experienced days – typed “homicide” in a front page headline. It was a spelling lesson I’ve never forgot and have never made again. Homicide, dummy, homicide, geez.

My most notable front-page headline mistake was in 2000 when I wrote on George P. Bush’s paid a visit to the Courier office on Fourth Street. The headline was supposed to read “Bush nephew touts uncle’s record.” Instead it was “Bush nephew taunts uncle’s record.

I hope he never saw it.

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CNBC ranked the best states to live in based on good quality of life. They used crime stats, local attractions, environmental quality and so-called “inclusiveness.” What that last category has to do with anything with the majority of people is beyond me. Inclusiveness is just a catch phrase liberals like to use to shame everybody into going along with the agenda of the LGBTQI (or whatever new initial they’ve keep adding). It’s too bad that CNBC places zero value on the extent of faith communities in the “quality of life” equation.

Their list of best top 10 states in order are Hawaii, Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Washington/Colorado (tied for 7th), Montana, Utah and Massachusetts.

Based on their criteria, CNBC should have placed California at the top of its worst 10, but it doesn’t. This is CNBC’s chance to slam the southern states, in my opinion, because there they are politically red states. CNBC doesn’t seem to give much care about traffic being considered as a quality of life issue, or the poverty rate (of which California is now the highest).

Their pick of the worst state goes to Arkansas. They agree that Arkansas has “unsurpassed scenery, clear lakes, free-flowing streams, magnificent rivers, meandering bayous, delta bottomlands, forested mountains and abundant fish and wildlife.” But they suggest the state is “worst” because a high crime rate, poor health care – including the nation’s fifth highest rate of infectious disease – and a lack of some key protections against discrimination. Why then didn’t California make the list with its high crime, lack of doctors in the Valley and the high poverty rate? Who is CNBC fooling?

The number 2 “worst” is Alabama – they say because of its unhealthiness (what they want to say is too many fat people live here); and they unfairly state that “sweet home Alabama is not necessarily as sweet for those who are not young, white, male and straight.” If that isn’t a subliminal attack on Trump supporters I don’t know what is. It’s as if the CNBC folks met and decided, “We must reinforce the notion that Trump only got elected by all those ignorant, tooth-missing, pickup-driving, Bible-thumping, gun-toting white hayseed hicks who can’t fit their KKK robes over their fat midsections.” And don’t believe for a second that they don’t believe all of that. But please remember, the racist governor there, George Wallace was a Democrat, as were most of the southern racist governors and senators, James Eastland, Strom Thurmond and Lester Maddox to name a few.

Tennessee is #3. I can’t think of a state filled with more down-to-earth, hospitable people but CNBC cites crime and cancer and diabetes rates. Just because you live there doesn’t mean you have to eat Paula Dean cook-it-in-grease style of food. If it wasn’t for the humidity, I’d move to Tennessee in a heartbeat. And you mean to tell me that Illinois – with its crime-ridden Chicago – isn’t being called out for its crime rate?

Louisiana made #4, of course. CNBC cites smokers, mental illness, child poverty and crime. You can bet Oklahoma made their #5 for the same reasons. For the Sooner State, they threw in a picture of a couple with guts hanging over their belt line. The intent is to show how stupid and ignorant all these southerners are who voted for Trump. I don’t believe that but the elitists at CNBC do.

New Mexico and Indiana tied for #7.

Indiana got slammed for lots of smokers, a dentist shortage and because they hate Mike Pence and when he was governor he signed protections for people of faith and unborn babies.

New Mexico was cited for the high murder rate and drug deaths. It wouldn’t have anything to do with a porous border with Mexico, would it?

Missouri – #8. They cite crime and health. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the inner city violence of St. Louis and Kansas City, whose mayors are typical liberals like Lyda Krewson and Sly James, would it?

Mississippi made their #9 because of poor health and CNBC thinks everyone goes around beating up and discriminating against disabled people. But they like the state’s good air and lower crime.

South Carolina takes the hit as the 10th worst, because your neighbors might have diabetes (and the state is not the worst place for diabetes).

Had they factored in real quality of life issues like traffic congestion, highest taxes, crumbling infrastructure, drug and gang crimes, the high homeless rate, lack of homes, affordability, the poverty rate, and the excessive assault on individual freedoms, California would rate at the absolute worst. And I don’t need to remind you which political party has a stranglehold on laws streaming out of Sacramento.

Take CNBC’s evaluation of our 50 with a grain of salt.

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Shirley Rogers – the one who actually called me a Bible thumper in a June social media post – showed up at a council meeting wearing a T-shirt with a phrase I coined. I didn’t see it but was told her shirt read “Conditista.”

Come to think of it, I wonder if Shirley would call Channce Condit’s grandfather, the respected Rev. Adrian Condit, a Bible thumper, too? She wouldn’t dare.

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A 26-year Ceres resident named David Leuegenbiehl stood before the City Council on Monday, June 8, complaining about a $136.45 citation he received for posting yard sale signs – too many, he said – around Ceres.

It’s actually illegal to post any yard sale signs other than one allowed at the sale site itself.

Leuegenbiehl acknowledged that while he went to City Hall to buy a $5 garage/yard sale permit, he failed to read the paper containing the law regarding sales. He would have learned that the city does not permit anyone to put up yard sale signs other than one allowed at the sale site. He said he posted a lot of signs but removed them after the sale, but apparently city Code Enforcement had already seen them – and perhaps snapped photos of them – and sent him a citation in the mail. David acknowledged that Ceres needs such restrictions because of all the unsightly signs plastered on poles but asked for leniency.

Mayor Chris Vierra suggested the council revisit the issue during the upcoming talks about updating the Ceres Muni Code after asking about the possibility of “first warnings.” Honestly, though, the city needs to crack down on more violators. At least Bret Durossette had the courage to suggest had David should have read the paper with the permit, to have avoided his expensive predicament; and noted the council worked hard to change the sign ordinance to clean up eyesores. 

I can see the city allowing people to put up two to three signs at a cross street to direct traffic to their sale, but nothing is more irritating than people who put up signs and not have the decency to remove them after the sale is over and they have made their profit at the expense of neighbors who have to endure the extra traffic. Maybe the city could allow yard sign signs to go up during a sale but cite for each one left up by that night. These signs – whether taped to a pole with a dozen wraps of Gorilla tape that never comes off, or nailed to a pole that some poor utility worker has to climb – are ugly eyesores and often end up blowing onto the ground as trash. But I would still prefer all towns to ban litter on a stick.

I’m a runner and I routinely pull down the signs from poles because they’re not supposed to be there anyway. If everybody did that Ceres would look a lot nicer.

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It’s pathetic that no president can get a handle on the federal debt. We know Congress will spend into oblivion but shame on President Trump for allowing the federal government to continue to drown in a sea of red ink. Since he took office, the national debt climbed another $2 trillion atop of the $8.58 trillion added by Obama. We are $22 trillion in debt and it’s growing. And Josh Harder and all the Democrat candidates for president want to give Medicaid for all.

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I like passing memes onto you in word form. This one is good. It shows a picture of a mouse trap and reads, “Socialism is like a mouse trap … it works because the mouse doesn’t understand why the cheese is free.”

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Councilman Condit had a good idea to discuss the possibility of sending Ceres Fire on strike teams now that California is in fire season.

The City Council decided a while back to not have Ceres firefighters participate in strike teams to battle wildfires and forest fires unless they are in the immediate area, like the grass fire that threatened homes east of Oakdale last year. The concern was that fire crews were spread too thin at home to be sent up into the mountains. But now that Ceres has hired more firefighters and is in a resource sharing mode – which has aided Ceres and all the participating agencies – there is an opportunity to help the state fight fires and make money. The state reimbursement for strike teams is more than the city’s costs, so sending strike teams can be beneficial to the city budget. Besides, firefighters like the experience of being on strike teams.

Stay tuned on this issue. Because there aren’t enough council members scheduled to be around next week, the July 22 meeting has been cancelled. It may come up Aug. 12.

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State Attorney General Xavier Becerra is delusional in his press release titled: “President Trump’s Concession on Citizenship Question a Victory for All Americans.”

Becerra, whose #1 constituent is the illegal alien and not legal residents of California, says “no one should be pushed into the shadows.” Becerra is a Catholic who should read the biblical passage of Romans 13 that states “You see, if you do the right thing, you have nothing to be worried about from the rulers; but if you do what you know is wrong, the rulers will make sure you pay a price. Would you not rather live with a clear conscience than always have to be looking over your shoulder?”

Becerra goes on with his diatribe: “Now it’s time to get to work to ensure a fair, legal, and accurate count.” Uh, he doesn’t mean giving us a count for all the lawbreakers who are here. That part isn’t important to him because if we really knew how many illegals are here, the outright would increase. As it is, thanks to the booming economy and the Democrats’ push for dispensing all sorts of taxpayer-funded freebies to those who shouldn’t even be here, Trump’s chances for re-election are looking pretty good.

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You know things are getting bad when the FBI has to investigate claims that there are tattooed deputies in eastern Los Angeles County in a secret society called the Banditos who are involved in beating, harassing and using gang-like tactics to recruit young Latino deputies into their fold and retaliating against those who rebuff them. The FBI is investigating whether leaders of the Banditos require or encourage aspiring members to plant evidence or write false incident reports, to secure membership. They are also accused of putting others’ lives at risk by not sending backup on dangerous calls, and enforcing illegal arrest quotas.

The department has been corrupt for years. In Sheriff’s officials accused the group of using gang-like hand signs and said jailers tried to “earn their ink” by breaking inmates’ bones. In 2011 the FBI exposed deputies who were beating up inmates. Former Sheriff Lee Baca, his second-in-command and other senior staff were convicted of conspiring to obstruct the FBI.

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