Posted by: coastcontact | May 20, 2018

Crocodile Tears for the Homeless

I am a member of the local community Neighborhood Council. There are 97 such councils in Los Angeles. All are officially recognized organizations that are certified by the city and receive funding from the city.

In the past year there has been a cry at the multiple meetings I attend about the homeless and the city’s lack of action to help those poor people. The mayor, Eric Garcetti, has recently proposed that a homeless shelter would be created in all 15 city council districts.

The sad reality is that no one wants those facilities in their neighborhood. Proof of that is the plan to build a facility on a main thorough fare in the Boyle Heights neighborhood. It was deterred for about a year because of objections by neighbors.

Now a planned “temporary” shelter in Koreatown neighborhood on a city owned parking lot has been confronted with hundreds of people waving and carrying signs protesting that plan. The protestors actually took to the street yesterday and blocked traffic at a major intersection for three hours.

So the homeless will continue to be pushed from location to location and everyone will be tsk tsking the plight of the homeless but not really willing to actually participate in solving the problem.

Interestingly a majority of voters did vote to raise taxed for building housing and providing services for the homeless. They just don’t want the housing or the services in their neighborhood.

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Posted by: coastcontact | May 16, 2018

Avenue of the Giants

The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic highway in Northern California, U.S.A., running through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It is an old alignment of U.S. Route 101, and continues to be maintained by the state as State Route 254.  We were there about 25 years ago on our way home from the Oregon Caves. 

Along the way we stopped at the Trees of Mystery located in the heart of the Redwood Empire, at the very center of Redwood National and State Parks. Trees of Mystery is California’s premier nature attraction on the North coast!

Posted by: coastcontact | May 9, 2018

Rolls-Royce’s Yacht-Inspired Phantom Convertible

There it was parked on Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills, California. A Rolls-Royce Convertible with the top down. It was parked like any other car.  I could see the entire car in the morning sun. 

I was taking Freddy, my terrier, into the groomer for a trim and bath.  After I parallel parked I realized that there was a Rolls-Royce in front of me.  When you go to the car show they have these cars on display but you really can’t see the interior easily.  This car could be seen by everyone walking or driving by.  No one was around and I ran my hand over the wood not certain that it was really wood.  No license plate on the back told me it was very new.  The owner was definitely showing off.

Check out the luxurious teak wood decking on the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Convertible. “The optional teak decking was inspired by classic racing yachts – hand-made from 30 separate pieces and cut from the same tree for consistent grain,” explained on the hogring.com web site. The teak wood decking is optional and comes at a hefty price of $9,875.  Anyone willing to spend nearly $500,000 on the base model would not baulk at paying an extra $10K for such a gorgeous feature.

 Here are the pictures all taken by me.

back of a new Rolls-Royce Phantom Convertible

I  Zoom in to confirm Rolls-Royce insignia

front view of a really big car

side view of convertible

optional teak decking

racing yacht steering wheel

 

Posted by: coastcontact | May 6, 2018

California Alone is the Fifth Largest Economy in the World

It is accurate to say that California is a challenging place to live if you are not a millionaire. It is very difficult for median income families.  Median household income for California was $67,739 in 2016. Housing costs are among the highest in the nation. Gasoline is currently averaging $3.63 a gallon for regular. That gasoline price is matched only by Hawaii.

Despite those challenges California’s gross domestic product is only surpassed by the entire United States, China, Japan, and Germany.

The reason for this situation is the multiple economic engines.

-Silicon Valley: the area south of San Francisco is the home of Facebook, Alphabet previously known as Google, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Intel, Cisco Systems, Nvidia, Netflix, Tesla, and many less known tech companies.

-Hollywood: Really all of Los Angeles is the television and movie entertainment capital of the world. CBS, NBC Universal, Disney, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Brothers are all in metropolitan Los Angeles.

-Tourism: According to the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, 48.3 million tourists visited L.A. in 2017, an increase of more than 2 percent over 2016 and the seventh consecutive year of record-breaking results. The total number of visitors to San Francisco last year rose 2.3 percent to 16.9 million.

-Import and Distribution: The two largest ports in the United States are Long Beach and Los Angeles. 40% of all goods imported enter through those two ports. They are then moved to distribution warehouses in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

-Agriculture: California produces a sizable majority of many American fruits, vegetables, and nuts: 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots (and the list goes on. California is the leading US state for cash farm receipts. I have seen California strawberries in Toronto Canada.

-Manufacturing: Manufacturers help to drive California’s economy, with $142.39 billion in manufactured goods exports in 2016.

These are the reasons that nearly 40 million people see the state as the heart of economic opportunity.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 29, 2018

Incels and Difficult Relations with Women

This is the first time I have ever posted anything personal about myself.  I do this because it still hurts. WordPress and Facebook are places where people bare themselves.

Standing for “involuntarily celibate”, the term Incel was originally invented 20 years ago by a woman known only as Alana, who coined the term as a name for single men who have a difficult time developing a relationship with a woman. These man have concluded they are ugly and that is the reason they are celibate.

This all stems from the fact that many men are frightened of people in general or perhaps afraid of even trying to develop even a friendship with a woman.

A Canadian woman reportedly coined the term “involuntary celibates” when she launched a website more than 20 years ago to offer support to people struggling to find partners.

As someone who was very shy as a teenager I understand that problem all too well. I was determined to change that situation. For me it was more than relations with girls and young women. It was connecting with all people.  I did overcome the shyness issue in my 20s.  Still I was turned down by many woman when I asked for a date in those days. Oh yes they were somewhat friendly but I was rejected repeatedly. I never thought of myself as being “ugly.” I concluded that I was not “hip” enough and not smart enough for those women.

In the 21st century those “Incels” are striking out in a manner that never once occurred to me. To find the solution to incel woes, red pill-oriented forums offer various self-help pablum. What these suffering men need is a little backbone and positive support from self help gurus like Tony Robbins.

Sitting at home and whining about your situation is no solution.

It all turned out well for me. I have a wonderful wife of many years and two grown children.

Will I post anything ever again about me or my family.  I will try not to do it again.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 26, 2018

Barricades and Fortresses Takes us back to the 1200s

All in the name of security.

Within hours of Monday’s van rampage on Yonge St. in Toronto, in which 10 people were killed and another 14 injured, the city placed concrete barriers in front of Union Station. It was an acknowledgment of the vulnerability of anyone on foot as they walk down a sidewalk.

Temporary barricades were put in front of Union Station Toronto

Alternatives to those ugly barriers, sometimes called k-rails, are being used in many cities where the streets are crowded with pedestrians. We saw that last summer in Manhattan where the barriers look like tables covered with a thick fabric or large concrete planters placed near the curbs where the crowds of people are significant.

Barricades and Planters in Manhattan on 5th Avenue at 34th Street

The table blocks were being used by street vendors to hawk their wares. The planters held brightly colored flowers that actually made the sidewalks more enjoyable on Bloor Street in Toronto and in Manhattan.

It is really sad that we have to take these kinds of precautions. It speaks to the thought that living in gated communities and behind fences and walls is now a necessity in the 21st century.

It appears we are returning to the time when fortresses were the way to protect our families. Windsor Castle was built in the 13th century. Americans built forts to protect themselves as they ventured into Indian territories in the 1600s and 1700s. In the 21st century Israel has built walls to keep Palestinians at bay and Donald Trump wants to build a wall along America’s southern border.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 24, 2018

Capital punishment – Is it worth retaining?

A driver plowed a rental van through a crowd of pedestrians on a busy Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing 10 and injuring 15, in Canada’s worst mass killing in almost three decades.

Capital punishment was removed from the Canadian Criminal Code in 1976. It was replaced with a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole for 25 years for all first-degree murders.

After the killing spree on Yonge Street will there be a change in attitude about capital punishment in Canada?  I have no idea.  Canadians are peace loving people.

California does have a capital punishment law.  Killers are sentenced to death.  As of Aug 24, 2017 there were 747 people in their “death row.” Due to delays and legal challenges, the state hasn’t executed a prisoner more than a decade. Only 13 men have been put to death since capital punishment was restored in 1978.

Clearly California really does not put killers to death.  Giving those killers a death sentence probably gives satisfaction to the families that lost loved ones to killers.  Is that a good enough reason to keep the law in place?  It has been said that Death row inmates have a greater likelihood of dying of old age than actually facing their death through a lethal injection.

A total of 57 countries retain the death penalty law, according to Amnesty, while executions were recorded in 23 nations in their statistics for 2016.

My belief is that if death penalties were actually carried out in a timely manner (trial – found guilty – limited delay for trial errors – limited delay for claims of innocents) then there would be less killing.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 18, 2018

Anti-Semitism is alive and well in Germany

Wars won do not end hatred!

Just because WWII ended, hatred of Jews didn’t end.  Kristallnacht, literally, , literally, “Night of Crystal,” is often referred to as the “Night of Broken Glass.” The name refers to the wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938 in Germany. That was well before the Holocaust. The wave of violence took place throughout Germany as they annexed Austria and areas of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

This past week a nationwide controversy erupted in Germany over a taboo-breaking rap duo that won one of the country’s most important music industry awards for a best selling album and song that included lyrics that made references to the Holocaust and Nazi concentration camp prisoners. Then just three days later German police said that they had launched an investigation after two men wearing Jewish skullcaps were attacked and insulted in Berlin. It was an incident that comes amid concern that anti-Semitism could be on the rise in Germany.

What is really curious is the growing Jewish population in Germany.

When Germany was reunited in 1990, there were 28,000 Jews in the country. Since then, the number has more trebled to 107,000, largely due to an influx from Eastern Europe, after Germany passed the “Quota Law”. Enforced until 2004, this gave those from the former Soviet Union who could prove they were Jewish, or had a Jewish parent, the right to settle. Germany now has now the third largest Jewish population in Western Europe after Britain and France.  The New York Times reported on September 27, 2017 that Israelis are also moving to Germany.

Jews must be suffering some kind of amnesia.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 16, 2018

The President Is Not Above The Law

The President Is
Not Above The Law

 

New York Times THE EDITORIAL BOARD

 APRIL 15, 2018

“This great nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes,” declared Senator Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican. “But it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up.”

No, Mr. Hatch wasn’t talking about Donald Trump. It was 1999, and he was talking about Bill Clinton.

At that time, the American system — and the flawed yet sometimes heroic people their fellow Americans choose to lead them — underwent, and passed, a hard test: The president, his financial dealings and his personal relationships were painstakingly investigated for years. Prosecutors ultimately accused Mr. Clinton of lying under oath, to cover up a sexual affair. The House of Representatives impeached him, but the Senate declined to convict, and Mr. Clinton stayed in office.

The public, which learned in detail about everything investigators believed Mr. Clinton had done wrong, overwhelmingly agreed with the judgment of the Senate. It was a sad and sordid and at times distracting business, but the system worked.

Now Mr. Hatch and his fellow lawmakers may be approaching a harsher and more consequential test. We quote his words not to level some sort of accusation of hypocrisy, but to remind us all of what is at stake.

News reports point to a growing possibility that President Trump may act to cripple or shut down an investigation by the nation’s top law-enforcement agencies into his campaign and administration. Lawmakers need to be preparing now for that possibility because if and when it comes to pass, they will suddenly find themselves on the edge of an abyss, with the Constitution in their hands.

[Keep up with the state of the national debate right in your inbox by subscribing to the Opinion Today newsletter.]

Make no mistake: If Mr. Trump takes such drastic action, he will be striking at the foundation of the American government, attempting to set a precedent that a president, alone among American citizens, is above the law. What can seem now like a political sideshow will instantly become a constitutional crisis, and history will come calling for Mr. Hatch and his colleagues.

For months, investigators have been examining whether Mr. Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to undermine American democracy, and whether the president misused his power by obstructing justice in an effort to end that investigation.

Until the last few weeks, Mr. Trump had shown restraint, by his standards, anyway. He and his lawyers cooperated with investigators. Mr. Trump never tweeted directly about Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and spoke about him publicly only when asked.

Alas, that whiff of higher executive function is gone. Mr. Trump is openly attacking both Mr. Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, appointed by Mr. Trump himself. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the Russia investigation and signing off on Mr. Mueller’s actions.

Of course, this president has been known to huff and puff, to bluff and bluster, and he may be doing no more than that now. He may choose not to fire either man. We know he has already twice told his aides he wanted Mr. Mueller fired, only to be talked out of such rash action.

But if the president does move against the investigators, it will be up to Congress to affirm the rule of law, the separation of powers and the American constitutional order. The miserable polarization and partisan anger that have been rising in American life for decades will hit a new crescendo, and that will present congressional Republicans with a heavy burden indeed.

Mr. Trump’s Tweets on the Rule of Law

“DOJ just issued the McCabe report – which is a total disaster. He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!” — @realDonaldTrump, April 13 2018

“So sad that the Department of “Justice” and the FBI are slow walking, or even not giving, the unredacted documents requested by Congress. An embarrassment to our country!” — @realDonaldTrump, April 2 2018

“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!” — @realDonaldTrump, March 18 2018

“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” — @realDonaldTrump, March 17 2018

Many of them are not fans of this president. Republicans used to warn the nation about Mr. Trump openly, back when they thought they could still protect their party from him. Here’s a short sampling: “malignant clown,” “national disgrace,” “complete idiot,” “a sociopath, without a conscience or feelings of guilt, shame or remorse,” “graceless and divisive,” “predatory and reprehensible,” flawed “beyond mere moral shortcomings,” “unsound, uninformed, unhinged and unfit,” “a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world,” “A bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully.” Some still say these sorts of things, albeit anonymously. Just last week, one of the president’s defenders in Congress told a conservative columnist, “It’s like Forrest Gump won the presidency, but an evil, really [expletive] stupid Forrest Gump.”

Yet if Mr. Trump goes after Mr. Mueller or Mr. Rosenstein, even Republicans who have misgivings about the president might be inclined to fall into line. They may resent what feels like an endless investigation, one that is endangering their agenda; or they may resent partisan attacks on Mr. Trump. Such frustrations — like ones Democrats vented when Mr. Clinton was in investigators’ sights — are certainly understandable. Republicans may also find themselves tempted by the political running room they would have with the investigation ended and the three branches of government under their control.

Maybe — and this is the scariest contingency to contemplate — Republican leaders would calculate that with their support, or mere acquiescence, Mr. Trump could get away with it. The overwhelming majority of Americans, including most Republicans, want Mr. Mueller to keep his job, and perhaps a groundswell of revulsion at unchecked presidential power would follow any action against the special counsel. But many Americans, weary of the shouting in Washington, might dismiss the whole thing as another food fight. We can be fairly certain that the pressure on Republican lawmakers from the minority of Americans who support Mr. Trump, as well as from the likes of Fox News and Sinclair, would be intense.

Of course, it’s when overriding your principles is the easy thing to do that you have an urgent responsibility, and opportunity, to demonstrate that you have some.

Look at what’s happening in Missouri right now. The state’s Republican governor, Eric Greitens, has been accused of sexual assault and coercion, and is scheduled to face trial next month on a felony charge of invasion of privacy. It’s a scandal of Trumpian proportions, and Mr. Greitens is responding with Trumpian bravado, calling the investigation and prosecution a “political witch hunt.”

Other Republicans On The Rule Of Law

“In a country based on the system of laws, which is really the great gift given to us under the terms of our Constitution, there needs to be a consistency of application. The idea that all people are equal under the law is not a relative term.” — JUDD GREGG, 1999

“I have asked myself how men from an era when honor was valued above all other traits, men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison, might have viewed a President who committed perjury and obstruction of justice for personal and political gain.” — Phil Gramm, 1999

“What standard of conduct should we insist our President live up to? … Do not underestimate, my friends, the corrupting and cynical signal we will send if we fail to enforce the highest standards of conduct on the most powerful man in the nation.” — Pete Domenici, 1999

“Committing crimes of moral turpitude such as perjury and obstruction of justice go to the heart of qualification for public office.” — Orrin Hatch, 1999

Yet the legislative report detailing his misbehavior was bipartisan, and top state Republicans have spoken out forcefully. They recognize that Mr. Greitens is unfit. (They also see a threat to their political interests, but the two can go hand in hand.)

Or look at Watergate. We may think of it now as a two-year drama with an inevitable end, the takedown of a president who tried to cover up a criminal conspiracy. But many people forget how close President Richard Nixon came to surviving the affair. He was forced from office only because enough Republican leaders recognized the legitimacy of the investigation and stood up to him. And even then, it took the revelation of incriminating recordings. No recordings have come out this time — yet.

A few senior Republicans have been saying the right things — including Mr. Hatch. He tweeted that anyone telling the president to fire Mr. Mueller “does not have the President or the nation’s best interest at heart.” Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, warned Mr. Trump that firing Mr. Mueller would be “the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

That’s all necessary and good. But it’s not enough. More Republicans need to make it clear that they won’t tolerate any action against either man, and that firing Mr. Mueller would be, as Senator Charles Grassley said, “suicide.”

Mr. Mueller’s investigation has already yielded great benefit to the country, including the indictments of 13 Russians and three companies for trying to undermine the presidential election. None of us can know if prosecutors will eventually point the finger at the president himself. But should Mr. Trump move to hobble or kill the investigation, he would darken rather than dispel the cloud of suspicion around him. Far worse, he would free future presidents to politicize American justice. That would be a danger to every American, of whatever political leaning.

The president is not a king but a citizen, deserving of the presumption of innocence and other protections, yet also vulnerable to lawful scrutiny. We hope Mr. Trump recognizes this. If he doesn’t, how Republican lawmakers respond will shape the future not only of this presidency and of one of the country’s great political parties, but of the American experiment itself.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 12, 2018

Syria – A Moral Dilemma

Aleppo

Aleppo, Syria

That this discussion is falling on Holocaust Remembrance Day should at least give everyone a pause and a thought about Syria today.

This is a test for President Donald Trump!

Try searching for a strategic value of Syria to the United States on the internet and you will come up empty handed.  That may be the reason the Donald Trump said just eight days ago that America would be leaving very soon.  Our only reason that I can find for being there is to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been the victims of the continuous bombardment of their cities and towns by Bashar al-Assad’s air force.

A pin prick bombardment by America of Syrian army bases by the United States will not change Assad’s attack on his own people.

If the United States is actually concerned with the well-being of the Syrian people it is obvious that America would have to send a much larger army than the 2,000 or so troops currently there.  This brings up the question of America’s willingness to protect people everywhere from genocide.  Make no mistake Assad’s attacks are a form of genocide.

America’s history in protecting victims of genocide should be obvious.  Most recently the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar (Burma) is the best example of pretending nothing was happening.  Rwanda is another example.  Historically America refused asylum for Jews attempting to escape the Holocaust during WII.

President Bill Clinton intervention in Bosnia is an example of America standing up to genocide.

No one seems to know or understand the mind of Donald Trump.  If he were to stop the killing of people in Syria he would go down in history as a man who really does care about people.     

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