The Wild Wild West

There was yet another shooting on Interstate 80 last night. The reason that I know about it is that I got stuck right in the middle of it.

Thanks be to God, I wasn’t there when the shooting occurred. But I was one of thousands of cars who got rerouted off of the freeway and caught in a horrendous traffic jam.

After the shooting, the freeway was closed from Hercules to Pinole. All traffic on the freeway was rerouted to one, single, traffic-light laden city street. So this one avenue was clogged with every car that came off the freeway or needed to get onto it.

It took me literally 45 minutes to go in one big circle — where we were taken off the freeway onto another freeway going in the wrong direction. Then we had to find out way to that one city street back to our original destination. When I returned, 45 minutes later, I saw the same police cars blocking the exit ramp.

Then it was another 40 minutes to drive two blocks. Exhausted, hungry and needing to use the facilities, I got off in a small shopping center. In one of the restaurants, I found several other refugees from the nightmare traffic jam, all staring at their Smart Phones for answers.

The restaurant owners were kind. Even though they were about to close, they let us refugees use the bathrooms. Seeing my exhaustion and stress, one of the workers even invited me to sit down and rest. My contact with them provided a sweet little respite from the anger and frustration seething from the drivers of the other cars.

I walked around the little shopping center some more, though almost all of the shops were closed, including a Starbucks. Then I went into a still-open Jack in the Box. There I got some food, and tried to figure out my next move. At the rate traffic was going, it would take me another four hours or so to go the many miles home.

I decided to wait it out, and hope and pray that the freeway would open soon. After about a half hour of listening to the local news, great news: the freeway opened.

I high tailed it out of there, but, of course, so did several thousands of other people. The freeway was clogged like the city street. But at least there weren’t any traffic lights further delaying our trip.

I got home safe and sound, again thanks be to God. But a 25 minute drive took over 2 hours. By the time I got into bed, I was so agitated by the constant surging of stress hormones that it took me several hours to fall asleep.

This is life in the Bay Area. Shootings on this particular stretch of Interstate 80 are commonplace. There have been literally dozens and dozens of shootings the last few years.

This is horrible and should not be tolerated. But maybe what is even more shocking is that no one talks about it. I mentioned it today to a man I know who lives in Hercules, near the shootings.

He didn’t know anything about it. When I filled him in on the details, he shrugged his shoulders, as in, “Oh, well.” Since freeway shootings and every other kind of violence are routine in the Bay Area, especially in the East Bay and San Francisco, the local denizens don’t even raise an eyebrow.

Widespread violence is unacceptable, and it should not be commonplace in a civilized society. But this area is not civilized. In numerous respects, it resembles the Third World more than it does the First.

Here we have the Wild, Wild West, with thugs and gangs running the streets. They not only shoot each other. Tragically, innocent bystanders get hurt, sometimes killed. A local teacher was shot in the head in front of her child for simply driving down a street in Richmond.

But there is some sort of strange disconnect here, a Night of the Living Dead, where residents walk around, unconcerned and indifferent. If anything like this freeway shooting happened in your neck-of-the-woods, the community would be outraged, worried, especially for the young.

But here? The young are sacrificed to the gods of political correctness. Why is this? For one, talking about the horrific crime around here requires naming who is actually doing the crime. And this is absolutely forbidden.

So, instead, the citizens are victimized over and over again. Our cars are stolen; we are robbed and mugged; and on and on it goes. Even children are robbed and beaten up, on the streets or in their schools.

And along with this, law-abiding people get trapped in nightmare traffic jams because criminals decide to shoot people on the freeway. They can literally get away with murder.

And yet no one seems to care.

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A Mother’s Day Mass (or Mess?)

(Reader’s Note: This is the blog that I tried to post on Mother’s Day, although the cyber attacker had other plans.)

I dreaded Mother’s Day this year. But not for reasons that you’d think. (1)

It’s because of the face of one woman that is burned into my memory. It happened last year at Mass.

I was attending Mass at my favorite Catholic Church, one that is generally pious and reverent. However, at some point during the Mass, the priest went off script. Instead of celebrating our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Sacrifice, the priest turned to the topic of Mother’s Day.

Smiling happily, he asked the mothers to stand up. Excitedly, the ladies stood.

Then the priest went on and on with a loving tribute to the women who were standing. He thanked them profusely for bringing a new life into the world.

To the surprise of many, the ushers then went around and gave the mothers roses. I could see the joyful pride in the women’s faces.

But I saw something else as well. I saw the faces of the women who remained seated. Most of them looked uncomfortable, even embarrassed. Some had fake smiles plastered on their faces.

I’m not surprised that they appeared ashamed, slighted. By having the mothers singled out through standing, the seated non-mothers were also singled out.

That’s when I saw the face of one, 50-something woman. Attractive in a Berkeley-natural-type of way, she had the most uncomfortable expression on her face. Sitting alone, she looked like she wanted to hide under the pew.

This was the first time I ever saw this woman in this church. And after this Mass, I never saw her again. I don’t know if this special tribute, and her own embarrassment, had anything to do with her not coming again.

By having some women stand up and others remain seated, the priest inadvertently created a difference. And this was noticed. I could see everyone looking around and thinking, “Oh, she’s a mother.” “Oh, I guess she is not.” Just like the society at large, women who have children are celebrated in a way that other women are not.

Now this priest is a very pious man. I am certain that what he did was not out of insensitivity. However, I would guess that some women were hurt by it. . . and that is why this ritual should not happen at church.

There are many reasons why women do not have children. For me, I chose not to. But for most childless women, it is not a choice. And in those cases, childlessness is a source of lifelong pain.

Many women cannot have children; they or their husband are infertile. Some women have miscarriages, the deaths of their long-awaited babies.

There are women who have had abortions. For them, Mother’s Day can be a day of great sorrow and regret, especially if they didn’t go on to birth a child.

Some women choose to forego parenthood, only to be catapulted into serious regret as they got older. There are stepmothers, some of whom do the heavy lifting that the biological mom may not do.

Don’t get me wrong: motherhood is wonderful. It is an incredibly high calling. I have nothing but admiration for mothers, even awe.

But in the priest’s singling out only mothers for praise, he was disregarding others. This is why I think that Mother’s Day should remain a secular holiday and not be part of a Catholic Mass.

Ironically, by elevating mothers and not others, the priest was inadvertently contradicting centuries-old teachings of the Catholic Church, as well as Scripture. The Catholic Church has always held that while family is marvelous, a life of chastity is a much higher calling.

For instance, St. Paul tells the church men to stay with their wives if they are married. But he makes the point that a celibate life of devotion to Christ is of much more value. And the Catholic Church itself has reinforced this teaching when it comes to priests and nuns and the consecrated life.

Prior to the debacle of Vatican II, there were thousands upon thousands of chaste nuns garbed in religious habits attending Mass. Their presence reinforced the teachings. It’s almost as though the sparse numbers of nuns today has created amnesia for some priests. And of course, a chaste life of devotion to Christ is the highest of callings: the Blessed Virgin Mary is regarded as the holiest and most revered woman of all.

I recall how much better a Protestant church handled Mother’s Day a few years ago, prior to my going in the Catholic direction. At that Protestant church, the minister acknowledged that it was Mother’s Day. Then he had the members of the congregation close our eyes.

The minister led us in a prayer for mothers. But immediately he had us pray for women who never had children. We then prayed for women who had abortions; women who suffered from infertility; and for those who miscarried.

We prayed for our own mothers, whether they were alive or deceased. We prayed for those women who have played pivotal roles in our lives, such as stepmothers, aunts, teachers. While we were praying, I heard a lot of sniffing in the audience, including my own.

Knowing the discomfort that I was about to experience, I dreaded going to my favorite Catholic church this year for Mother’s Day. Frankly, I was pretty annoyed about it — and confused. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I even thought (briefly) of not going to Mass at all. But then I quickly returned to my senses. We Catholics have a Holy Day of Obligation on Sundays and other special days. It is not up to me (or any Catholic) to decide when we should or should not go. Aside from being ill or an emergency, to church I must go.

So I went to Mass. But I didn’t go to my favorite church. I just couldn’t handle the sight of the sad and embarrassed childless women, so many of them victims of the 60s and 70s.

I went to another church in the suburbs — a mostly Asian one. While I was certain that there would be Mother’s Day hoopla (and there was), I was less likely to encounter the bereft countenances of the Berkeley casualties.

Mass was almost over. We were heading into the final prayer when the priest announced, “Let’s have all of the mothers stand up.” This is when I grabbed my purse and hightailed it out of there.

I survived another Mother’s Day Catholic Mass. But barely. My prayer is that the Catholic Church would return to focusing on Christ and not secular holidays that inadvertently stigmatize and hurt some people.

And I’d like to offer some of my own prayers on this Mother’s Day. I pray for all mothers. And I also pray for the women who have been in a motherly role, perhaps through nursing and teaching. I honor all the stepmothers.

In essence, I pray for all women today, particularly those without children, who may be feeling sad and blue and left out. Know that your life has great value and purpose, even if you never were a mother.


(1) I feel the same way about Father’s Day — that it should remain in the culture, not Mass. At the Mass last year on Father’s Day, the fathers were highlighted in the same way — no flowers but applause. Again, there are a myriad of reasons for a man not becoming a dad. For some of them, not being a father is very painful, just like for some childless women.

The more that the Catholic Church allows the culture in, the more damage occurs. We have seen this quite horrifyingly in what happened after Vatican II.

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Banned in Berkeley?

I tried to log onto my humble blog the other day. But I couldn’t.

I wrote to my hosting company. What was going on? They checked it out and found that my blog had been hacked.

Not just hacked, but destroyed. The entire workings of the website decimated. At first, the experienced hosts couldn’t figure out what to do.

“Seriously compromised,” they told me. So they bumped it up to their highest level. A senior tech took over the case.

He told me that he’d try to rebuild the entire site from the inside out. I figured that it was hopeless.

But lo and behold, the tech wizard got it going. Hence, you are reading this blog right now.

This wasn’t the first time that I felt targeted for simply writing the truth, as I see it. There are other times. I will share a truly surreal experience that I had a few years ago.

I was staying at a hotel, a well-known chain. As usual, I had no computer access on me — no Smart Phone, nor IPad, nor “I” anything else.

The hotel did have a couple of computers in the lobby. So I went downstairs and checked a few websites. Then I decided to take a peek at my own.

To my shock, instead of viewing my modest little website, instead I saw large black and red words blaring. It said that due to objectionable content, this site could not accessed.

I thought that it was a mistake. Given that there isn’t a single obscenity in my peaceful postings, certainly I hadn’t been banned in Berkeley and everywhere else. But I tried the other computer, and got the same response. It is really a sad day in America when people can look at the most perverted trash in the world but free speech is chucked for conservatives and Christians.

And now the very formidable attack on my website. This was likely a professional job, not the work of some hacker living in his mom’s basement.

So there you have it. The enemies of freedom, of everything that is wholesome and good in this world, don’t have any real arguments. They can’t debate on the points. They are too frightened and threatened to allow alternative points of view to be given the light of day.

It’s sad, really. . . tragic. Horrifying when you think about it. While some people still think that we live in the land of the free, there is ample evidence to the contrary.

The Powers-that-Be snoop in our emails; they listen to our phone conversations; they irradiate us at the airport, while random strangers leer at our bodies through a screen. The freedom that Americans once possessed has gone up in smoke. (1)

Pope Paul VI once made a similar illusion to smoke. He said that after Vatican II, the “smoke of Satan” had entered the Church.

The phrase is pithy. It is ironic too, since it may partly be that Pope’s eliminating the sublime and supernatural Latin Mass that helped open the door to the old Devil himself.

But it’s not just in the Catholic Church that Satan has made himself known. He’s all over the place: the media, Hollywood, schools, the government. You name it, he’s there and oftentimes has a starring role. There is even a television show named after him.

So what will I do next? Now that my lowly blog is back up and running (for now), will I continue to write? Or will I stop?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m 50/50, leaning towards stopping before too long. It will be very sad for me to cease blogging, and I will miss it very much — and all of you.

If, at one point, you don’t hear from me again, I am likely alive and well (fingers crossed). Regardless of what I am doing — whether writing or not — I will tell you one thing, and that is for certain.

I may decide to give up blogging. But I will never, ever — and I mean never — abandon Jesus Christ. Nor His true church, which is the Roman Catholic Church.

It doesn’t matter what shenanigans are pulled on me by the bullies that surround us. In a world of great uncertainty, in the end, Almighty God is all that we have.


(1) What I’ve also noticed, disturbingly, is how much of the Internet has been censored. Over the years, I have bookmarked numerous videos and articles to check out “on a rainy day.” I decided to take a look at them. Almost all of them were gone, taken down.

These are the times that we live in, and they are chilling.

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The Worst Generation

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

My Generation by the Who

Tom Brokaw wrote a book about the World War II generation entitled, The Greatest Generation. The book heralded the valor and patriotism of those resilient men and women.

Brokaw celebrates the courageous men who headed off to war enthusiastically. He also honors the women, the wives who kept the home fires burning and those other women who ran the factories.

With the end of World War II, these brave souls built up America. With optimism into the stratosphere, the Greatest Generation had unprecedented number of children, the so called “Baby Boomers.” Amidst all of this connubial bliss, thousands of new housing tracts, as well as new businesses and stores, dotted the horizon.

Brokaw also waxes rhapsodic about the moral character of these men and women. The vast majority remained virgins until they married. It would never occur to a man to disrespect a girl on a date by trying to grope her — much less (heaven forbid) coerce her into bed. Drugs: Nonexistent. Crime: Almost unheard of. Alcohol: Minimal or social. This was a storied time in American history, made possible by the integrity and hard work of the Greatest Generation.

I agree with Brokaw’s premise; that the 1940s and 50s were an incredibly special time in history. (Of course, the elites have now spread lies by deconstructing the time as some sort of sexist, racist wasteland.)

I have another supposition to assert, however. In contrast to the Greatest Generation, my generation (the Baby Boomers) were and are still the worst generation. The worst — most selfish, adolescent, ungrateful of all the generations that ever existed since the beginning of mankind.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. If you’re a nice Baby Boomer lady or gent who raised up a brood of children, stayed in your committed marriage, and now are happily babysitting grandchildren, you are a lovely exception. But, for the most part, My Generation is a sorry spectacle.

Many Boomers had children halfheartedly, with a guy or gal they barely knew. Some married, only to split up when they weren’t “feeling it anymore.” Thus, they exposed their children to the truly disturbing experience of their mom and/or dad necking with some new partner. Or the Boomer forced the kiddies into trying to forge a new family with other people’s children.

Of course, the unpleasant scenarios were endless given this unprecedented number of divorces. The abandoned parent may spend most of the time depressed and crying, while the no-longer-a-child has to caregive, entertain, and befriend the lonely spouse. Perhaps a parent has to work all the time to make up for the lost income. Gone are family dinners, consistent rituals, and joyful and relaxed Thanksgivings and Christmases. And then, of course, there are the horribly conflictual divorces, with years of traumatic litigation.

Other debacles: some parents ran off to live on communes, with children in tow or leaving them with who-knows-who. Other parents joined weird cults, dragged children to political meetings and protests, or headed off to India or to graduate school.

Tragically, in all of these cases, the child wasn’t the priority. The youngster became a casualty to this supposed freedom and free love. From all of this, the child learns some dark lessons: relationships are disposable, even if solemn vows are made. If it feels good, do it. . .if not, don’t bother. And: adults cannot be trusted; relationships are dangerous; and marriages are not permanent.

Even many of those Boomer couples who stayed together did their share of harm. They rejected the religion of their families, raising their children without God. Instead, parents embraced liberalism as their Gospel.

They taught their offspring to question authority, to stand up for their “rights,” and to remember the condoms when they went out on a date. Some Boomers even sat around smoking joints with their teenagers.

As I said, the Worst Generation Ever.

Now you might think I’m being too harsh on the Boomers. Clearly, they were heavily influenced by the cultural engineering that pummeled the nation starting in 60s. Nefarious types, such as the Frankfurt School, conjured up all kinds of sinister ideas: from the destruction of the male, to saturating the West with promiscuity and drugs. The first to come up with the idea of sex education in the schools? The Frankfurt School. (1)

So all of that psychedelic, lascivious, druggie music didn’t just emerge out of the blue. Same for the so-called spontaneous outpouring of national riots and protests. Thus, it is true: My Generation was thoroughly brainwashed.

But what’s the excuse now? From what I can see, many Boomers are still behaving like revolutionaries and rebels. Studies show that the Boomers’ drinking is off the charts — same for their marijuana use. With marijuana now legal in California, etc., the old folks have an excuse to continually relive their younger years.

And there is a serious dearth of patriotism among many of the Boomers. Rather than feel grateful for all of their blessings, Boomers are angry at the United States and “Resist.”

See that’s the biggest problem with My Generation. It’s not just how they were; it’s how they are now. Many just haven’t — and won’t — grow up. They don’t just resist the government but being society’s elders.

In Robert Bly’s book, The Sibling Generation, he identified the problem. He wrote that Boomers don’t want to become adults. For instance, they have sibling-like relationships with their children.

According to Bly and others, My Generation are trying to maintain the illusion that they are still l6. Wearing their baseball caps on backwards and old concert t-shirts, you can see them heading out to Grateful Dead concerts.

Speaking of death, this is probably the elephant in the room for most Boomers. Having rejected the religion of the Greatest Generation, they have nothing to hold onto.

Terrified of death, they grasp onto pleasure, trying to live life to the fullest while they can. They go trekking to India or Vietnam or Africa; they meditate and travel to ashrams. And porn — don’t get me started on that one. It’s not just the young men who are destroying their brains (and their relationships) with that garbage.

My opinion: My Generation need to face reality. They are not young anymore. Maybe it’s not that bad being old.

Despite the idolizing of youth, our culture desperately needs grown-ups. And the young need healthy role models of how to grow old with dignity.

The truth is that all of us, young and old, will die some day. And before that time, we will age and become increasingly less able-bodied. This is the nature of life.

My biggest suggestion to Boomers is this: Don’t focus on your next trip to Bali. Instead, get your relationship to God in order. None of us know when our time is up.

If My Generation doesn’t face up to the realities of life now, while they can, they’ll have a major wake-up call at the very end. And then they will no longer be able to resist.


1. The Frankfurt School was a multidisciplinary group of Jewish, Marxist intellectuals in Germany. Their expertise included psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and they used these to plot the moral destruction of the West. They were kicked out of Germany by Hitler, and they sought refuge in the United States. Several became professors at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as Columbia University in New York.

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America’s Favorite Catholic?

I had so much fun being interviewed by that ace interviewer (that is, me) that I wanted to have another go-around. So I contacted her, and we chatted again.

Interviewer (me): Thanks for speaking to me once more. After our last conversation, I polled your readers to find out where they stand about your becoming a Catholic. A small number were excited as can be. A larger group, unfortunately, were aghast and considering arranging an intervention. And then another group was bored to tears. The latter group wants you to stop writing sad poetry and talking about going to church. How do you respond to all of this feedback?

Me: Well, given my attempt to become “America’s Favorite Catholic,” I’d like to pander to all three groups.

Interviewer: Okay, where to start? Perhaps we should try to placate your long-suffering secular fans who just want you to write about Berkeley, trash, and barking dogs?

Me: Agreed.

Interviewer: So how are things in Bezerkely these days?

Me: Worse than ever. The trash is sky high; there are vagabonds living under the freeway, in parks, on street corners. It’s a madhouse. Crime is through the roof, and the traffic problems are obscene. All in all, a pretty hideous place to live.

Interviewer: Are you making plans to move?

Me: No.

Interviewer: In other words, you’re one of those annoying types who complain bitterly about your plight but do nothing to change it?

Me: Exactly.

Interviewer: Can you help your readers understand why Berkeley is so bad? I, for one, live in a lovely, pristine, and civilized part of the country. [In my fantasies, that is.] I’m sure many other fans are squirreled away in bucolic settings where the loudest noise comes from the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds. So tell us what it’s like in Berkeley?

Me: You have to see it to believe it. I’ve never seen so many troubled souls wandering the streets aimlessly and living under the freeway. It’s like Night of the Living Dead. Hordes of people, mostly young white people, are coming here from elsewhere.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Me: There are several distinct groups. One are the psychotic/drug addicts who can’t hold a job or live with their family. There are also the lost souls from broken families who come looking for some cool, hippie town that doesn’t exist. Then we have the antisocial types — the worst ones. In their towns, they are social pariahs because of their meanness and, maybe, violence. So they come here knowing that Berkeley standards are so loose that they can get away with their noxious behavior.

Interviewer: They sounds awful. Do you have any examples?

Me: Yes. I was in a fast food restaurant in Berkeley the other day. This straggly young man with matted hair walked in with a girl looking similarly. The supervisor immediately kicked them out. I spoke to the supervisor later. She said that the pair live on the sidewalk outside the restaurant and have threatened to kill the manager. The guy broke the front window and spray painted expletives on the restaurant.

Interviewer: That’s horrible. And the police did. . . ?

Me: Nothing. Their hands are tied by the incredibly permissive laws around here. So the poor, suffering restaurant staff have to deal with this daily abuse. Again, Berkeley allows behavior that’s not tolerated in other places.

Interviewer: It sounds like an awful place to live. How do you deal with it?

Me: It’s hard, and some days are better than others. But mostly I pray and ask for God’s guidance and help.

Interviewer: (rolling her eyes) Of course you have to get God in there.

Me: All roads lead back to Him.

Interviewer: Okay, since you’re pressing the topic, let’s talk more about your faith. Have you found a good community of like-minded Catholics?

Me: Sadly, no.

Interviewer: (surprised) No? I figured that you finally found your friend group.

Me: Actually, I’ve never felt so out of place in my life.

Interviewer: Why is this?

Me: It’s because I’m a Catholic who believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Interviewer: How strange! Here are all these people going to church and calling themselves Catholic but not believing what the Church teaches!

Me: Yes, it’s true. Catholics have become very liberal since Vatican II, which, by the way, I think was the worst thing that ever happened to the Catholic Church.

Interviewer: What I’ve heard is that Vatican II was fine — it’s how it’s been interpreted.

Me: I’ve heard that many times too. There’s truth to it. But I think that Vatican II itself was the problem.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Me: Because there was a small, but tenacious, group of priests and theologians in the early 20th century who preached “modernism.” Saint Pope Pius X understood the threat. He did everything in his power to squash the modernists. He expelled them from seminaries, banned their books, and even sent some of them packing. His efforts were highly successful at the time.

The two Popes after him (Pius XI and Pius XII) were excellent Popes but they started loosening things up a bit — bad move. The modernists were ferocious, and I think that the other two Popes didn’t understand the danger as did Pius X. Once Pope Pius XII died, Pope John XXIII was elected Pope and was sympathetic to the modernist cause. He initiated Vatican II, where he suppressed the conservatives and gave free reign to the modernists. Even in his opening speech, Pope John XXIII said that the Council would open the Church doors to the world. It did — and unfortunately, the world won.

Interviewer: So all of those modernists who were banished from the Church by Pope Pius X controlled Vatican II?

Me: Yes, and Pope John XXIII listened to them. Many Council documents reflect the modernistic spirit.

Interviewer: What is modernism?

Me: Pope Pius X called it the synthesis of all the heresies. It’s a combination of liberalism, New Age-ism, and moral relativism. It’s man-focused and not God-focused. We see the reflection of modernism now in our liturgies.

Interviewer: Do you think that the New Mass, created by Pope Paul VI in l970, has a modernistic tone?

Me: Absolutely. It’s very man-focused; it bears little resemblance to the Traditional Latin Mass. And, by the way, Paul VI had over a half dozen Protestant ministers advising him on how to reconfigure the New Mass.

In the old liturgy, the priest faces God. In the new one, he looks out on the people. He’s more of a motivational speaker, trying to inspire the parishioners. The focus of Mass is now on the Communion meal, rather than on Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. In some churches, the Tabernacle has been shoved off to the side, rather than front and center as it should be.

Interviewer: And the results of all this?

Me: Disastrous. If it’s just a meal, people can walk in late wearing jeans or not bother coming at all. They can receive Communion standing up and in the hand. It’s been a desacrilization of the Mass — that is, a removal of much of the sacred aspects of the Mass. I mean, right at the most important moment of the Mass — the Consecration — suddenly we’ve got the “Sign of Peace,” with people hugging and kissing and saying hi to each other. How in the world has that become acceptable?

We also have the supposed Extraordinary Ministers, a post-Vatican II novelty that was allowed by the Magisterium under very rare circumstances: for instance, if a priest passes out during the Mass and can’t distribute the Host himself. But of course, “the people” wanted to get involved and participate and now almost every parish has these so-called ministers. Consequently, the Sacramental role of the priest as the one to feed his sheep has been reduced and demeaned.

For all of these reasons, and so many more, the new liturgy has become a free-for-all, nothing like the Traditional Latin Mass, which was standardized by Saint Pope Pius V in l570. Given the casualness of the New Mass, most Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and most don’t bother to go to Church on Holy Days of Obligation.

Interviewer: What I had heard is that the mass exodus from the Church wasn’t because of Vatican II, but because of the 60s.

Me: But how did the 60s happen? It wasn’t just some sort of spontaneous outpouring of liberation, just like the so-called “Arab Spring” didn’t happen out of the blue. There were nefarious people lying in wait for the Catholic Church to become so weakened that they could unleash their madness of sex, drugs, and rock and roll onto the public.

You have to remember that by 1962, when the Council began, the Church was at his heyday. On Sunday, it was standing-room-only at church. Seminaries and convents were so packed that there were waiting lists to join. Catholic schools filled up so quickly that schools couldn’t be built fast enough. Catholics were having big, prayful families.

And the Catholic Church positively influenced not just Catholics, but the whole of society. Catholicism kept the moral fabric of the country together. As one example, have you heard of the Hays Code?

Interviewer: No. What’s that?

Me: The Catholic Church negotiated the Hays Code with the US Congress. The Church, along with the Congress, exerted pressure on Hollywood to produce only movies that communicated good, wholesome values. That’s why the movie, Casablanca, ended with Ingrid Bergman and Spencer Tracy doing the decent thing and breaking up, and why Marlon Brando, in, On the Waterfront, died rather than compromise his integrity. Because of the Code, movies had no sex, violence, drug use, obscenities, blasphemies, or anything else that could damage the morals of the public.

Vatican II started in l962, when the country and the Church were at its peak. The Council ended in l965. And do you know what happened as soon as it was done?

Interviewer: (wide-eyed surprise) In l965, the 60s revolutions began, and everything went down the tubes!!

Me: Exactly. Hollywood produced its first movie with nudity; drugs began saturating the young; and the music became salacious and drug-fueled.

Interviewer: Because the Catholic Church became weakened and divided after Vatican II, it could no longer provide a stabilizing influence on the culture.

Me: That’s right.

Interviewer: And the public became infected with the scourge of modernism and wanted to do whatever they wanted to do? And a good chunk of Catholics no longer respected the teachings of the Church?

Me: Exactly.

Interviewer: What you are telling me is really upsetting and hard to hear. It’s actually devastating. I can see why you aren’t exactly the most popular person in the room.

Me: Nor was Jesus — or St. Paul, et al. We aren’t here to be popular, but to speak the truth in love and charity.

Interviewer: And — I hate to admit this — how the country went into free-fall after Vatican II makes me wonder whether the Catholic Church is the true Church of God after all.

Me: I’m glad that you can see this now. The Episcopalian Church started loosening its moral teachings in the early part of the 20th century. And this had little impact on the world. Same with some of the changes in the Lutheran church, Presbyterian, etc. But when the teachings of the Catholic Church appeared to the world (rightly or wrongly) to be softening up, almost everything went downhill and people have gone off the rails.

Interviewer: Wow — I never understood the power of the Church before.

Me: Of course — because the Catholic Church is supernatural, not natural.

Interviewer: Well, I’m really blown away by all this information. I’ve got to take some time to digest it all. So let’s wrap it up for today. Peace be with you.

Me: And with your spirit.

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An Interview with Me

After my earthshaking announcement that I’d become a Catholic, I waited for my phone to ring off the hook. I figured that I’d be contacted by all the big news companies for an interview.

Hours went by. . then days. Okay, I thought, maybe they’re not interested. . . but some of the smaller outlets would be chomping at the bit to speak to me. But so far, nada.

So since my big news apparently isn’t front-page news, I decided that I would interview myself. This way my millions of fans (right) will be apprised of the whys and hows of my momentous decision.

Interviewer (Me): I almost fell off of my chair when I found out that you’d become a Catholic. What were you thinking?

Me: Thank you for your enthusiastic and supportive reaction.

Interviewer: I mean, really. The Catholic Church has been in steep decline since the l960s. The Pope is a controversial figure. He pleases the left but unnerves conservatives. Even those people who call themselves “Catholic” rarely go to Church. So why would you hop on this sinking ship?

Me: Because it’s the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Interviewer: So just like being a conservative in Berkeley, you like going against the tide.

Me: Actually, my goal is to get to heaven and spend eternity with Jesus. The other option sounds like really bad news.

Interviewer: (sarcastically) Really? You are so arrogant that you think that the only way for salvation is to become a Catholic?

Me: Yup.

Interviewer: So millions or trillions of good, lovely human beings are spending an eternity in hell because they didn’t go to Catholic Church every Sunday?

Me: Hey, I don’t presume to know where they are. I just want to get to the right place.

Interviewer: Wait a second. There are scores of other Christian churches. The Protestants have tens of thousands of denominational, nondenominational and every other type of church. There’s the Eastern Orthodox, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and on and on. And you think that the Catholic Church is the only true church of Jesus Christ?

Me: Affirmative.

Interviewer: (sputtering, she’s so frustrated) Well, why in the world would you think this?

Me: Because Jesus started His Church on his rock, Peter. Peter means “Rock” in Aramaic. Remember that Jesus changed the name of the apostle, Simon, to “Peter.” Jesus said that on his rock, Peter, He will build His Church. So the Catholic Church can trace its origins to the first Pope, Peter, an apostle. Other Christian churches are man-made — and most rose out of rebellion, such as the Protestant and English Reformations.

Interviewer: (not convinced) What else do you have?

Me: You know that book that the Protestants love and revere — the Bible? How did we get the Bible? Who decided which books would be in the Bible? It was the fathers of the Catholic Church. And who rescued the Old Testament books from oblivion, since the Jews didn’t want most of the books, just the first five? The Catholic Church. In contrast, Luther, 500 years later, wanted to get rid of a bunch of the books, including the Epistle of St. James and the Book of Revelation. He wanted to eliminate St. James’ Letter because it spoke about works, and Revelation, because it implied that there was a purgatory. For the same types of reasons, Luther dumped several of the Old Testament books from his Bible. So today it’s the Catholic Church that has still preserved the entire Bible.

Interviewer: (flustered) Okay, well then, let’s move on. What kind of Catholic are you? There are so many different types these days: traditionalists, orthodox, liberal, CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only), cafeteria Catholics, etc. etc.

Me: Well, I would consider myself an old-school orthodox Catholic.

Interviewer: So. . you are one of those extremists who think that the Pope is an anti-Pope and that there’s no valid Pope in the Vatican?

Me: Nope. I can’t say that I agree with a lot of Pope Francis’s views. But he’s the Pope, so we have to respect him.

Interviewer: Do you only go to Latin Masses, like those other rigid, old-fashioned, pre-Vatican II dinosaurs?

Me: Actually, I love the Tridentine, Latin Masses. And I would go to them regularly if they were close by, but they aren’t, so I go to the Novus Ordo Masses. However, I admire those Catholics who go regularly to the Latin Mass.

Interviewer: How has becoming a Catholic changed you?

Me: It’s completely rocked my world. It’s made me a completely different person. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.

Interviewer: When did you become a Catholic anyway?

Me: It was over 3 years ago.

Interviewer: (apoplectic) WHAT! You were received into the Catholic Church more than three years ago and you didn’t tell your devoted readers about it?

Me: That is true.

Interviewer: Why didn’t you tell folks right away?

Me: Actually, I’m not sure. I guess I felt that I wasn’t ready. I wanted to become stronger in my new Church and my beliefs before spilling the beans.

Interviewer: How does it feel to tell the whole blogosphere?

Me: It feels good.

Interviewer: I hope that you’re not going to be one of those evangelizing types who try to convince others that they should become Catholics.

Me: I likely will.

Interviewer: Then you will be insufferable!!

Me: Probably.

Interviewer: Well, there is so much to ask. But let’s leave it for another day and another interview. Any last words?

Me: Yes. It’s Holy Week. And I want to encourage my readers who are Catholic to go to church. And also those who aren’t Catholic — please go to a Catholic Church for Mass. And also. ..

Interviewer: (rolling her eyes) Okay, we’ve heard enough for today. Good night.

Me: And Happy Easter.

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The Story of My Life

This is the story of my life.

When I was growing up, there was this door (metaphorically speaking).  The door was not locked; however, I was told never, ever to go through it.  

I wasn’t told why, just that, “This door isn’t for people like us.”  We were Jewish, and Jews were not allowed to open the door.  Apparently, something bad would happen to me if I entered it.  But I didn’t know what it was.

Certainly, my family didn’t want me to open that door.  And my Jewish culture didn’t want me to as well.  God, I thought, might even punish me if I did.  So, being a dutiful and loyal child, I never considered going through the door. In time, I forgot all about it.

While I was growing up, my house was very dark, literally and metaphorically.  My parents forbade me from ever opening the curtains and letting in light.  They didn’t want the sun to bleach the carpets and the pretty furnishings.  My parents loved the pretty furnishings, I think, more than they loved me.

It was dark in my household for other reasons as well.   My parents worshipped at the altar of modernism, proudly displaying their monthly Playboy magazine on the coffee table. They loved traveling with their friends and raucous parties, often drinking to excess.   I spent way too much time alone, accompanied by my TV friends, the Munsters, the Addams Family, and the Brady Bunch.  

There were many other dark aspects of growing up at a certain time in history, the 60s, and in a liberal family and place: the schools were dangerous; drugs were an easy escape; boyfriends pushed me to do things way before I was ready.  It wasn’t hard for them to get me to submit; I wasn’t very strong.  Maybe it was because of being deprived of all of that light.  I gave in to most of the dark forces and became pretty dark myself.

When I became a young woman, I changed.  I stopped all of that bad behavior.  I started searching for something, though I had no idea what it was.  I dabbled in religion, the Eastern kind.  I meditated and went on retreats with American teachers who gave themselves Indian-style names, such as Ram Dass.  I started eating mostly vegetables, and doing strange postures, like standing on my head.   But even though I pursued all kinds of stuff,  I never, ever considered opening that door.

All I knew about the door was from my Jewish culture — and also through the society at large.  I learned that the people behind the door were mean.   They were very different than me.  They imposed annoying holidays on the culture, especially Christmas, with its insipid music and ecologically unfriendly trees and lights.    

I never spoke to those people behind the door, but apparently, they were somber and didn’t want anyone to have much fun.   They believed strange things about a God who died and was resurrected.   I never met one of these people, but I could tell I wouldn’t like them very much.

And then the strangest thing happened.  A few years ago, when I was already well past my prime, I met one of them.   And she wasn’t anything like I had thought.  In fact, she was the opposite — joyous and sweet and kind.  I assumed that she was an anomaly.  And then I met another one, and he was as caring as the other person.  

I became intrigued by the people behind the door;  I wanted to learn more about them, understand their language.  They had something that I needed, but I didn’t know what it was.

I bought their main book,  The Bible, although I found it very confusing.  The Old Testament, the New Testament, King James, New International Version . . . I had no idea how to decipher it, but many generous Christians helped me.  

I immersed myself in reading as much as I could about these people, and listening online to innumerable sermons.  It was immensely fascinating.  I started thinking that maybe I should open the door and see what was behind it.

One day, I went to a church.  But first I sat in my car in the parking lot, very frightened.  I wondered if God would strike me down dead for doing something so forbidden. But I ventured inside and stayed for the whole service.  When I returned to my car, I was ecstatic;  I had survived!

It was a Catholic church, and very nice, but I didn’t know what was going on.  So I went down the hall, so to speak, to one of the sister churches, an evangelical one.  The service was easier to understand and more fun.  The band played rock music; we put our hands up in the air and swayed and sang to the lyrics on the big screen.   The church didn’t have any big crosses, but it did have air conditioning, upholstered pews, and very friendly and well-behaved people.  I loved it all.  In fact, I loved it so much that I decided to become one of them, which I did a few months later.

Everything was going great, and the depressed feelings that I had carried around with me my whole life dissolved.  But after a few years, something was missing, something more reverent and holy.  I didn’t know what it was.   But one day — I realized later that it was the start of Advent — I began thinking that maybe I should go back down the hall to the other side, the Catholic one.  

I went to Catholic churches a few times, and found out that it was a big, fat mess, so different than the evangelicals. Everyone seemed so confused.  They were battling with each other over basic doctrine.  They even argued with their leaders.  Their babies hollered during the service; the pews were as hard as a rock; and not a single church had air conditioning.   After a few months I had had enough, and was ready to return to the nice, obedient and comfortable evangelical world, although I would stay for one more Mass with the Catholics, on Easter.

And then the most amazing thing happened.  I was sitting there during Mass, a bit irritated by the parishioners chit-chatting, when I felt something so strongly, that my body seized up.  It was this Force of nature, something I had never experienced in my life, never anywhere, not even with the Protestants.  I started sobbing.  It was all too much.  I flew out of the church and into the bathroom, crying and gasping for breath.  I spoke to God right then and there, “What is going on? Is that You?”  And I realized that Jesus was really there in the Eucharist, and that, as much as I wanted to, I wasn’t leaving the Catholics any time soon.

I also learned why the Catholics were in such disarray. They had been attacked by a myriad of enemy forces. They had even been betrayed by some of their own people, for example, professors who taught unsound, even heretical, doctrine.  Even some of those really nice people down the hall in the Protestant world had gone after them.  

People did this for a variety of reasons, such as lust and greed, since the Catholic Church is the moral compass of the world. Unsavory types wanted to make filthy movies and revolting pornography or get involved in the abortion industry. And many average citizens wanted to have guilt-free hook-ups. Much of the attack was orchestrated by the anti-Catholic news media, which triggered widespread confusion and division.

And there was a spiritual battle going on as well:  because the Catholic Church is the most powerful force on earth for holiness and purity, it had amassed a lot of enemies.  It dawned on me that if all of these forces focused their attacks on this Church, it must be for a reason; it must be the true Church of Jesus Christ.  

Although I started realizing all of this, I still tried to leave several more times. It was too confusing and disorderly over there,  and, although a lot of Catholics were kind and giving, I missed the super friendly and welcoming evangelicals.  

And I was scared.  I can be brave, I thought, but not that brave, and I didn’t want to be smack dab in the middle of both an earthly and a cosmic war.  But every time I considered leaving, the same thing would happen:  I would be sitting in the Catholic church, and be overcome by this Force more powerful than anything I had ever known before.  It was as though Something was taking hold of me, cradling me in His arms, and He would not let me go.  

One day, I realized that I couldn’t turn back.  I had reached the point of no return.  As scared as I was, I had to join them.  

Now I am on track to be received into the Church soon.  I am still nervous, but also over-the-moon happy.  I feel as though I’m taking part in the greatest adventure of all time, one in which I will be accompanied by the Blessed Mother, the saints and martyrs, and Jesus, most of all Jesus.  

During my journey into Christianity, I have at times suffered from great anxiety about not just entering that door, but embracing everything that is inside of it. I’ve worried: am I betraying my parents, my ancestors, my culture? Although my parents died many years ago, I, still the dutiful daughter, fear disappointing them.

And then the other night I had this dream:

I am walking in a dangerous and dark place, like a cavern. I am tripping as I walk and having trouble keeping my bearings. My father is standing next to me, looking strong and youthful.  He helps me to walk;  at times he even carries me.

I look in back of me for my mother.  I am worried about whether she is okay.  I see a beautiful, luminous woman standing close behind me.  I think that she is the Virgin Mary.

And in back of her I see my mother, looking youthful and lovely.  She joyfully waves at me.  I happily wave back at her. I look ahead into the darkness, but now feeling relaxed and at ease.  I know that everything is going to be alright.


(Note to readers: This was written a few months before I became a very happy and grateful Catholic.)

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Hell Is For Real

A while back there was a book, followed by a movie, called, Heaven is For Real. I don’t know much about either one of them, just that they featured a cute little boy who somehow went to heaven and back.

I imagine that he describes the amazing beauty and grandeur of heaven. I’m guessing that the whole supernatural experience changed his life.

Well, I have a similar tale to tell; but it’s not about heaven. It’s about hell.

Twice in the last year, God has shown me something else. He has made it crystal clear to me that hell is for real. These two experiences have been the most terrifying of my life.

I’m not going to describe them in detail for you. Frankly, they are too harrowing to recount.

I will say that the first time happened when I was just waking up. I viscerally and physically felt this demonic force dragging me down to the netherworld. It drained every source of energy from my body, and I felt myself succumbing until I finally summoned up the strength to beg God for help. As always, when we turn to him humbly, He is faithful.

The second time was just last night — actually in the middle of the night. That one is too fresh to go into at all. I’ll just say that after it was over, when I woke up breathless with my heart pounding in my chest, I realized that God had given me a taste of how absolutely horrifying is hell.

Now I am not sure why He has graced me with this information. I don’t know why He wants to make sure that I get it. But from these experiences I have learned that there are ghastly, eternal consequences for our behavior.

This culture doesn’t preach anymore about Judgment, heaven, and hell. There was a time (way back in the dark ages — that is, before the 1960s) when people believed in hell. They knew that the Devil was real. Folks weren’t as focused on this life but getting to the heavenly place after death.

To be an atheist was unheard of. I never even heard the word until I was all grown up and in California. But now it seems that many, if not most, people don’t think God exists.

Frankly, I think that this is the dumbest — and most dangerous — of all delusions. I mean, how in the world can anyone look around at the stars, at newborn babies and roses and mountains and not behold God Almighty? Although I came to be a Christian late in life, it never occurred to me to be an atheist.

But now it’s all the trend. Even worse than that, society has taken a light-hearted approach to the demonic. This denial of evil has to be one of the most horrendous outcomes of the 60s.

There’s even a television show called, Lucifer. Of course, you couldn’t pay me to watch it. But as I understand it, the Devil is portrayed as not evil, but misunderstood. How low this culture has descended that such a despicable television show is allowed to be aired.

As Voltaire said, the Devil’s greatest trick is convincing people that he doesn’t exist. Well, I am here to tell you that he does — and so does hell.

It may not be a consoling, feel-good message, like the adorable tyke in the Heaven is Real series. But it’s just as true.

Given that none of us get out of this life without being judged and going either up or down, now is a very good time. No, not a good time to turn on one of the perverse shows featured by the shameless media.

But it’s a great time to take stock of one’s life. As Pascal said in his ” Pascal’s Wager,” what if there is a God? And heaven? Hell? Wouldn’t it be smart to get one’s moral house — and faith in God — in order? Not tomorrow, but today?

Because from what I have learned, hell is such a terrorizing place, that you really and truly don’t want to be there for a moment — much less eternity. And no hook-up, marijuana joint, blasphemy towards God, or anything else is worth it.

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In the End


What’s wrong with you?
Why aren’t you happy?
Look at me;
I’m happy
Dad’s happy.
Why don’t you talk to me?
I tell my mother everything
Why do you close yourself up
in your room
and what do you do in there?
I read your poetry;
I know that I shouldn’t have
But you never tell me anything.
Why do you write such depressing poetry?
What do you have to be depressed about?

Why don’t you have Diane over more?
She’s always smiling;
a ray of sunshine
Why do you spend so much time with Wendy?
She’s dull.
Why do you sleep so much?
You never go to parties
or dances.
I didn’t raise you
to be a wallflower.
Why don’t you loosen up?
You’re such a prude.
How are you my daughter?
You’re nothing like me.
You remind me of my sister;
She was only l7 when she died.
I wish you could have met her;
she was a lot like you —

Why don’t you wear make-up?
You’d be prettier if you did.
You could do a whole lot more
with your looks.
Why are you dating Donny?
He’s not all that interesting.
I liked the other boy –
what was his name?
He was handsome.
Here’s $20.
Go buy Donny some nice clothes
I want to see you with a boy
who dresses better.
I just finished reading
the Playboy magazine.
Do you want it next?

What was that in your room?
In your jewelry box?
Is that marijuana?
Are you smoking marijuana?
I threw it out
I didn’t raise you to be a pothead.
Sure dad and I drink
that’s different
We like to have fun
We deserve some fun,
don’t we?
Why don’t you join dad for a drink?
He offers a drink and you say no,
You are ungrateful,
a selfish little b_______
I wish
I could shove you back up.

What’s wrong with your eyes?
Are you on drugs?
What are you taking?
We’ve given you everything,
why are you destroying your life?
Why don’t you talk to me?
I tell my mother everything.
Why don’t you let me see you?
Why don’t you let me into
the dressing room?
What are you hiding?
Is there something wrong with you?
One day
I might force you to take off all your clothes
so I can see
if there’s anything wrong with you.

Why don’t you smile more?
Why are you so sensitive?
You let everything bother you.
Why are you angry at me?
I didn’t mean anything by it.
You take everything to heart.
Why aren’t you happy?
Why aren’t you happy?
Why aren’t you?

* * *

In the End

Thank you for helping me.
I’m lost without dad.
I wish you lived closer.
Who would have thought
that you’d turn out
to be the good child?
I love you too.

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One Hail Mary

(This poem is for M.S., who, as a young girl, wanted to be a nun, and would have been a beautiful nun. And also for R.M., and all of the other countless casualties of Vatican II and its aftermath.)

One Hail Mary

Did you pray the Rosary
as a girl?
Were you given pretty Rosary beads
for your First Communion?
Did you have a favorite nun
in Catholic school?
Was it Sister Margaret
or Sister Mary
or Mother Catherine?
What did you do when they all left —
when you came back from summer vacation
and all of the nuns were gone?
And you didn’t know where they went until Janice,
always the busybody,
told you,
in hushed tones whispered in the stairwell,
that Sister Margaret was living with her boyfriend,
and Sister Mary had run off with Father O’Connor,
and you didn’t know what any of this meant
but you knew it was bad,
never to be talked about again in public.

What about your Italian grandma?
Did she still wear her lacy black mantilla
to church when the other ladies
stopped wearing theirs?
When did she stop going?
When they brought in the dancers,
and the drums and guitars?
Was your family one of the first
or one of the last to leave?
Did you go to one of the other churches in town —
to the spanking new evangelical church
with the velour cushioned seats
and the minister who still preached
about hell and the devil and sin?

What happened to you then?
Is that when you married the man
who drank too much
and you drank too much with him?
And you divorced him
only thinking a little bit (not too much)
about the Church teaching against divorce?
Is that when your eyes grew cold
and your thoughts bleak,
and your body started seizing up
in a blind rage
when anyone said anything
about the Catholic Church?
When you started lobbing insults about
“those pervert priests
and why aren’t there any women priests?
And why doesn’t the Church join the 21st century
and support gay marriage;
isn’t it about love anyway?
And why does the Vatican have so much money?
Why don’t they give it to the poor?
Pope Francis is okay,
but the one before him —-
what was his name? Cardinal Rat’s A___,
Couldn’t stand that man.”

Why are you so angry now–
so bitter?
Is it because in moments of silence
when the sheen of the new day
dissolves into night
and you’re alone
all alone
you remember that young girl
in the white Confirmation dress
cradling your shiny new Rosary beads,
and your grandma’s radiant face
and your priest uncle’s proud smile
and how you felt special,
a child of God —
and now. . .
Do you ever pray the Rosary
in the middle of the night
when darkness overtakes you,
and the unbroken silence
feels like a death sentence?
Do you pray just one Hail Mary
just one Hail Mary

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Merry Christmas

I’ve been feeling a bit sad lately looking out at the wreckage of the human race, which I see in full blazing technicolor each day. Thus, the tone of this blog. It has been inspired by WH Auden’s evocative poem, Thanks.

Looking out at all the people dying
a slow death around me
and who don’t even know it,
I say: Merry Christmas. ..

To the ruin of what once was a proud nation,
now at each other’s throats.
I say: Merry Christmas
To the young women
who were once adorned
with gold jewelry and the luscious scent
of roses and lavender,
Now branded with black, red, and blue ink,
and cartoon characters,
dark symbols,
that mark their arms, legs,
even, sometimes, their faces;

I say Merry Christmas to the men
who have lost their bearings,
their purpose, their Juliettes;
who keep their heads down and mouths shut
doped up on the pot that soon will be legal,
the pot that soon will be legal,
For the young kids who left warm homes
to live in tent cities
out in the dirt.
I say Merry Christmas to them
and to the other young people,
seduced by their real estate,
high on their stock options.

I say Merry Christmas
to the rageful,
the deadened, and the lonesome,
to the loved ones of the dozens and dozens of people
shot on Interstate 80,
just for driving to work (1)
or to pick up a friend (2)
To the grieving families
of highway officers killed in Oakland
at a routine traffic stop (3)
I say Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
to them all,
though my voice is choked with sorrow.

And my Christmas wish
is that God’s people would
embrace their dignity;
that the young would rise from the dirt
and go home –
That everyone would go Home
Not just to the places from which they came,
But to Him,
who still loves them,
who loved them first;
And it doesn’t matter
what horrible things they have done.
He has never left them
He is just waiting, waiting,
waiting for them –
crying tears of sorrow too.


1. A 20 something was shot on Interstate 80 driving home from her job. She was paralyzed from the neck down. . and lived a few years in a wheelchair with her parents before dying of her injuries.

2. A Berkeley school teacher was shot in the head and mortally wounded while driving in the flatlands of Richmond, near I-80.

3. A CPD officer was just killed today, on Christmas, by a drunk and drugged driver.

And marijuana will be legal on January 1. God help us all.

These are just a few of the dozens and dozens of people shot and killed on Interstate 80 in the last several years. No one talks about it.

I pray for their families. I pray for all of us.

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“Following In the Steps of Lucifer”

A pregnant young woman, Kate Steinle, is murdered in cold blood. Her father witnesses this horror, cradling her in his arms as she begs him to help her.

An illegal immigrant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate — deported four times and arrested a number of times for criminal activity — was charged. Many witnesses saw him shoot and kill Kate Steinle. This week he was acquitted of all charged.

I have to wonder how in the world this acquittal happened — with so many witnesses, including the Kate’s father. I also have to question why such a high profile criminal trial wasn’t moved out of San Francisco to a more neutral milieu.

I don’t know. . but I do know that Kate Steinle isn’t the only American whose life has been (probably) snuffed out by an illegal immigrant. Chandra Levy was also killed, apparently by an illegal from El Salvador. And then there are the countless rapes, the robberies, the victims of drunk drivers and so much more mayhem caused by people here illegally (hello — does anyone understand the word “illegal” anymore?).

What is incredible to me is the lack of outrage. For one, the news coverage by the liberal press has been, in a word, disgusting. Instead of eulogizing this lovely young women — and the death of her unborn baby — they write pejorative pieces about Trump — ridiculing him for “fuming” about the acquittal.

I suppose we should expect this cold and callous attitude from those at the NY Times, the Washington Post, and the like. But what about some outrage from women?

All over this country, women are up in arms about Harvey Weinstein and other sleazy Hollywood types. And yet when a pregnant woman is brutally killed, and an illegal alien caught and then acquitted (one who had been continually deported), there is not a word of righteous indignation.

And no one seems concerned that a city like San Francisco (and others in California) couldn’t care less about protecting Americans. In fact, they do the exact opposite. Those in power are so intent on protecting the “rights” of people who here illegally, they harbor illegals.

Public officials refuse to turn illegals over to ICE — even those who have been arrested for crimes. Had SF leaders been a little bit concerned about its people, maybe Kate would not have been murdered.

Instead, we have silence — no protests. . no NPR specials about the plethora of crime by illegals, mostly against women. No one talks about the rapes or the murders, nor the destroyed lives of the families in the wake of this mayhem.

There are several reasons for the silence. Kate was vivacious, blonde, and pregnant. Consequently, she wasn’t a member of one of the Left’s designated victim groups deserving of any sympathy.

Also, Kate’s murder isn’t part of the liberal narrative. Sure, women rail about sexual harasment at work– I mean, that could happen to them. — and career and money have become a type of sacramental. And women can moan bitterly about Hillary Clinton’s loss as President.

But the brutality towards women by illegals — and also by American thugs. . well, no one on the Left will talk about it. No one will even think about it, or to take the time to consider whether the politics that they embrace (free-for-all immigration, liberalization of laws towards criminals, opening up the doors of the prison) are killing and brutalizing women.

Better to maintain one’s rigid point of view, that is, — conservatives — bad; liberals — good. Better to hold onto the cult-like groupthink, rather than face the truth.

And the harsh truth: liberalism, progressivism, or whatever you want to call it is deadly. It emboldens criminals to do terrible things because it excuses and justifies their behavior. . . not to mention that there are few consequences for the horrible things that they do.

Liberalism creates these “sanctuary cities,” (or in the case of California Governor Brown — a sanctuary state in California.) Meanwhile, a disproportionate number of criminals in the federal prisons are illegal immigrants — many from brutal gangs and/or the cartel.

So rather than trying to arrest (literally and figuratively) the plague of violence in our streets, liberalism aids and abets the violence. And when a woman is victimized — not just one, but countless –no one raises an eyebrow or seems to care.

This is what liberalism inevitably leads to: a cold and uncaring heart. People may worry endlessly about the poor, suffering prisoners. Or they may rage about the potential of closing our borders.

But the lives of innocent women, men, and children killed at the hands of American thugs or illegal immigrants — no one on the Left seems to care. And there are certainly no tears for the helpless, unborn baby snuffed out in her mother’s womb.

Something that I read recently that feels apt here: It’s from Pope Leo XIII, who wrote a treatise in l888 that condemned liberalism. He wrote that “liberals follow in the footsteps of Lucifer.” He went on, “They adopt as their own his [Lucifer’s] rebellious cry, ‘I will not serve,’ and consequently substitute for true liberty what is sheer and most foolish license.”

Liberalism is not compassion for others, nor love and peace, but it is, as the Pope wrote, Luciferian. And this soulless and heartless spirit is on full display today:

A pregnant woman, Kate Steinle, is shot in San Francisco. She dies a terrifying, agonizing, bloody death in her father’s arms. . . and yet no one on the Left seems to notice or care.

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Male-splaining or Male Bashing?

There’s a new expression that’s all the rage. It is “male-splaining.”

The term is (in my mind) an incredibly condescending way of describing how men supposedly talk too much. Male-splaining means that men, thinking that they are the center of the universe, explain in too much detail. Apparently, they look down on women and assume that we don’t have a single brain cell in our heads.

The term is being thrown around all the time, as a woman complains about her man, other people’s men, and random males in stores. As for me, I don’t know if males explain too much. But I’m glad that someone does.

What do I mean? What I’m saying is that we live in a world where most of us are left to fend to ourselves. If I buy a new piece of furniture, I’m supposed to put it together. If I purchase a heavy mirror, I’m supposed to somehow pick it up, put it in my car, and drag it into my house.

As for explaining, that’s not happening much either. For one, many if not most of the workers around here don’t speak fluent English. So if you’re at Target looking for handkerchiefs (a true story), good luck getting any of the three workers that I asked to know what in the world I’m talking about.

To be honest with you (and very politically incorrect), when I seek out help, I oftentimes look for an English-speaking male. For instance, there is a hardware store near my house that can offer helpful suggestions.

The store employs mostly men — but a few women too. Frankly, when I wait on the line for help, I dread getting a woman salesperson.

She tends to know a little about all the nuts, bolts, and other mechanical parts in the store. But generally it is nowhere near as much as the men. And the women seem bored and uninterested in going into details, even if they know.

But the men — wow, speaking to them is like taking a class in all-things hardware. I’ll come in and ask for a particular lightbulb.

The next thing I know, the enthusiastic male salesman is filling my brain with all kinds of interesting info about LED bulbs, fluorescent, etc. Before I know it, I’ve had a college education on how to illuminate my house.

I remember once having a nasty pest problem in my place. I went into the hardware store and spoke to one of the fellows. Well, he knew all about the creepy crawly things, and had recommendations that would rival that of an exterminator.

And he said all of this with a sense of delight in sharing his vermin expertise. If I got one of the ladies instead, she would have had a mildly disgusted look on her face about the infestation and simply led me over to the pest control section.

I’ve also found out the hard way about the benefits of seeing a male doctor. These days, most women look on visiting a male physician with as much excitement as getting a colonoscopy. Women doctors are much more in demand.

But a couple of years ago, my (woman) doctor was out for a few days with a sick child (1). I saw her colleague, a man. It turned out that this “rash” that I thought I had was actually a potentially serious, staph infection.

Even though this man was filled to the brim with his own patients waiting, he took literally 45 minutes with me. Rather than just give me some antibiotics and make me wait for my doc to return, he literally performed out-patient surgery to rid me of this dangerous infection.

This doctor got in there with some sharp instruments and he dug. . he dug and he dug. . I could not only see the skilled physician that he was, but I could imagine the young boy that he once was.

Like that young boy totally into some science project that would gross-out a girl (for instance, dissecting), this physician went to battle against this disgusting, pus-filled mess. It was close to an hour before he stopped. And the whole time, he “male-splained” and kept me informed on what he was doing.

When he was done, he stuffed the wound with something and then had me come back the next day to remove. Upon seeing that the infection was not completely gone, he spent another 1/2 hour digging until he had gotten all of the mess out.

Being incredibly careful, he had me return again. All looked well. And to this day, I have not had a reoccurrence.

When I saw my usual, woman physician a couple of weeks later, I waxed rhapsodic about her colleague. I told her how he went way beyond the call of duty on all of the days that I saw him.

When she heard the story, she shrugged her shoulders and said, quite honestly, “That’s great — but I wouldn’t have done all of that.” So I was very fortunate that the guy was there instead of the gal — and I actually switched to his practice shortly thereafter.

The male doctor may have done what a lot of women would patronizingly call male-splaining. The same could be said about the fellows at the hardware store.

But as for me: I greatly appreciate all of their enthusiasm and their explanation — and that they will take the time to share their knowledge with me.

And when it comes to hardware, rodents, or sometimes even disgusting, pus-filled messes, knowledge is power. And, oftentimes, men do know more.

Rather than ridicule men for all that they know, why not value their vast wealth of knowledge? And why not be happy when they share it with the rest of us?



(1) Another problem with women doctors. Many of them are extremely talented at what they do — when they do it. Around here, most of the women doctors are only part-time since they are being pulled between home and work. But the male doctors, dentists, etc. tend to be around when you need them.

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How to Raise a Healthy Child

I don’t have children. So, of course, I will now share my sage advice on how to raise them.

Here are some basics: stay married (or get married); and parents: love each other. . though not too much PDA in front of the kiddees. Have nourishing family meals together. Don’t drink too much alcohol, and a big no-no to marijuana, medical or otherwise.

Turn off the TV and the technology, and have phone-less meals and outings. Help the kids with their homework; don’t over schedule them; and tell them that you love them every day.

OK: you are now wondering why I am boring you to death with the same-old, same-old that you could read in this month’s Good Housekeeping magazine. Moving on here, I am now ready to give you the most important piece of advice of all — that vital piece of info that you won’t hear from anyone else but me.

DO NOT RAISE YOUR CHILDREN IN BERKELEY. Ditto for Oakland, Emeryville, El Cerrito, San Francisco, Albany, Richmond, etc. etc.

There is no exception to this rule. I don’t care if you come to Berkeley and “fall in love” with the place. Please know that you are not in love: you are having serious mental health problems and need to get yourself to a psychiatrist asap.

It doesn’t matter to me if your grandma, your best friend, or even your mother live around here. You need to leave — and bring your loved ones with you. It is the least that you can do for those you love.

And I don’t care if you get your dream job, at Facebook or Google or some hot-shot new start-up. Read my lips: If you move here, you will lose your soul.

Is is worth eternity in the netherworld to make big bucks and be able to do whatever you want — no limits? There are a whole lot of limits in Hades.

My general feeling on the subject is that anyone relocating here for the long run is a fool (yeah, right, I moved here, so guilty as charged). I mean, there are so much nicer, less expensive, safer, and just generally saner places in the country to live (like anywhere). But — hey, if you want to ruin your life, don’t let me stop you.

But do not –I repeat, do not — under any circumstances destroy your children’s lives as well. Meaning: if you want to live here, go for it. But do not subject your children to the horrors that are Berkeley and the local environs.

While raising children here is not technically child abuse, frankly, I think it is. To subject sweet, innocent children to the tough, rough streets around here would be bad enough.

But then there are the schools. Even the supposedly “good ones” are really bad. The test scores around here are some of the lowest in the country, making small towns in Mississippi look Mensa-like in comparison. (1)

But putting aside the sub-par schools, your children will be brutalized emotionally. Many of them will learn very quickly to hate themselves because of the color of their skin. I mean, how is that okay??

Likely they will adapt, and become full of self-hate. They’ll start doing self-destructive things.

They’ll get tattoos all over their bodies and get septum piercings that make them look like Nellie, the cow. Many will get involved in injurious sexual practices, and perhaps even decide that “she” is actually a “he.”

Meanwhile, since you are now a full-fledged member of the Berkeley luny bin, you will celebrate your child’s “freedom,” instead of rushing as fast as humanely possible to the nearest psych ward. Before too long, your sweet, adorable little offspring will be a hardened, Berkeley freaky radical.

Dearly Beloved Readers: Does that sound healthy to you?

Hence, I return to the theme of this blog, which is: how to raise healthy children. I do not have any of them — healthy or not. And thus I am not anyone’s authority.

However, I do have common sense — and eyes to see the widespread nihilism, anger, and vacuity of most of the youth around here. And that is just not a healthy sight.

So if you want to have well-adjusted children, feed them right, spend quality time together, blah blah blah, you know the rap.

But please — pretty please, with sugar on top; and I’m not above begging: Do not raise them anywhere near here.

And good news for parents: living with your tykes anywhere else — Atlanta, Charlotte, Seattle, or Small Town USA — anywhere but here, you are mostly on your way to raising the happiest and healthiest children ever.


(1) I don’t mean to diss on Mississippi. But for years, California schools were so bad that only Mississippi was worse. But yeah to Mississippi: last time I heard, they surpassed California.

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The LosAngelization of Berkeley

I keep having the same, strange conversation with random people out here. It’s about Los Angeles.

It starts with my complaining about the egregious traffic, overcrowding, and soul-crushing road rage in the Bay Area. Then the other person will say in a hushed tone, “It’s getting like Los Angeles.”

I usually reply, “It already has!” (since LA has a reputation for terrible traffic.) To which the other person will say, ominously, “Oh, no, it hasn’t.”

Then me: “But how much worse can it get?” Then he or she will reply cryptically, “Ooh. . you’ll see,” and then bids a hasty retreat.

I’ve had way too many of these conversations to believe that the other person is exaggerating. In fact, I just had one today.

We went back and forth in the usual manner, about how crazy crowded it is around here and how it takes forever to get from point A to point B.

This other woman said, in that same, odd way, “It’s getting like Los Angeles.”

To which I answered, “It already has.” She then responded in the usual creepy way, “Oh, no, not yet.”

This time I tried something different. I added, “It’s getting like Manhattan.” The lady said quietly, as though what she was about to say was too horrible to utter loudly, “Oh, no. Like Los Angeles,” as though that were a much worse fate.

Now, I haven’t spent that much time in LA. But I did live for a few years in Manhattan. The gridlock, urban stress, and overcrowding were something for the record books. So how in the world could Los Angeles be even worse?

I have no idea, because no one will actually tell me. It’s like some ghastly secret that no one can say out loud. I did try to pin down one former Los Angelean.

When she parroted the usual, “It’s getting like Los Angeles here,” I swooped in for some serious cross-examination. I demanded, “But how could gridlock be any worse in Los Angeles?” She replied, “It’s nothing like Los Angeles.”

I persisted, “How could road rage be any worse in Los Angeles?” She said, “Oh, it’s much worse in Los Angeles.” Like everyone else, she changed the subject, as though she had already said too much.

Now I am no expert on Los Angeles. I visited there for several weeks when I first moved to California, decades ago. Truth be told, I loved it there.

LA was the real California — the one out of the movies and songs by the Beach Boys. There were exotic birds and tropical flowers. The weather was a gorgeous, blue-sky day the entire three weeks that I was there.

And then the beaches: white sand sparkling from the all-day sun; seagulls singing and playing; and warm ocean water. The suburbs were lovely; the shops were beckoning. It was a palm-tree resplendent paradise.

When I traveled up the coast and finally made it to Berkeley, I thought, “What??” I mean, I felt totally ripped off. I thought that I had moved to California. What I found was an ordinary-looking, rundown city, sans any palm trees, aside from the ones artificially planted around shopping malls.

There were no exotic birds: just the usual robins or crows. The weather was overcast and foggy almost every day of my first July living there. And the beaches?? Dirty, windy, with freezing cold water that only the bravest (or craziest) could possibly swim in.

Over the years, I have visited LA a few times, although I haven’t been there for many years. When I traveled there, I always loved it, and enjoyed the various sights and sounds. Venice Beach was delightful to walk around; I savored going to the Santa Monica Boardwalk.

When I went to So Cal (as we call Southern California), I felt that I was actually, finally, in California! And, frankly, I’d usually kick myself for relocating north rather than south.

So I am not sure why Los Angeles is now a code word for something very horrible and dark. . .and why people are hinting at a worsening hell on earth for us up north if we become more like it.

In the meantime, I am seeing a whole lot of cars around here from LA — as well as NY and NJ, other places without the best reputations for civility and peace. And I — like a lot of people here — live in fear of the bottom to drop out, for this area to become even worse — to become (gasp) like Los Angeles.

I have no idea what that exactly means. But things are changing here at breakneck speed: with massive numbers of new immigrants, and high-rises dotting every square foot of the region, and cars choking the freeways.

So I suppose I will — ready or not — find out what it means to become Los Angeles very very soon.

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Berkeley’s Wild, Wild West

A number of years ago, I was speaking to a young woman attending graduate school at UC Berkeley. She was a cosmopolitan woman, having lived all over the world.

I’ll never forget what she told me, “I’ve lived in Central America, in New York, and in Eastern Europe. But Berkeley is the most dangerous place that I’ve ever lived. Every one of my friends has been robbed. I can’t wait to finish school and move out of here.”

Unfortunately, since she said that, things have gone from bad to worse.

The crime is horrific and is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Here are some recent (I repeat, recent) retail robberies:

Fourth Street (the one shopping destination around here) has been deluged by robberies. Most of the crimes are brazen and during the day. Stores like the Apple Store have been stripped of their goods, with cash registers emptied. And many of the smaller stores have been robbed and ransacked as well.

The Target Store in Emeryville had a take-over robbery. Shoppers were forced to get down on the ground, while the derelicts stole merchandise, purses, wallets, and store cash. Same scenario with the Home Depot in Emeryville.

Shoplifters are robbing the pharmacies en masse: CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen’s. Ditto for the grocery stores.

One of the Whole Foods was robbed around 5 pm. Tear gas was set off, sickening shoppers and staff and closing the store for the rest of the day. Also at that same Whole Foods, a woman was carjacked and almost killed, as she narrowly escaped while the madmen was choking her. A Lucky’s store has had so many armed robberies, with injuries, that they got permission to hire an armed guard.

Trader Joe’s had to hire security staff because of theft . . at a local CVS, the cashiers were robbed at gunpoint. Same with Pharmaca, a small pharmacy chain, where a gun was pulled on cashiers, who hurriedly gave the robbers cash.

And that is the very tip of the iceberg here.

You can’t get away from any of it. Recently, I went to a CVS during the day. While I was there, the manager was frantically calling the police. Someone was shoplifting — the very same person who was shoplifting that morning and the day before.

Police arrived too late. The frustrated manager told me that even if police come (they don’t always), they cannot do anything. The people of California voted last November to decriminalize many thefts (hence the surge in crime — Big Surprise!). So if someone steals a bunch of merchandise, the thugs usually can get away with it.

The problems with this obscene permissiveness are several fold: while a few stores have hired security guards, most have not, leaving the employees to deal with this. For minimum wage salaries, cashiers have to put their lives at stake trying to stop shoplifters.

Also, if thieves get away with stealing, that sends a clear message to all criminals out there. The stores get a reputation as easy targets; before too long, there is escalating theft and guns are pulled on employees and shoppers.

Ironically, most retail workers around here are not white people . . and don’t progressives supposedly care so much about people of color? But instead, laws are liberalized by those very same liberals. While leftists claim to be all about “the people,” those same “people” are being preyed upon by criminals.

Another consequence about the skyrocketing crime is that stores are closing left and right. A Staples store in a nearby town closed recently because of theft. A Ross Store and a JC Penney’s in downtown Berkeley closed years ago because of so much crime.

The only mall nearby to Berkeley — Hilltop Mall in Richmond — is hemorrhaging money because of the rampant crime. A JC Penney’s closed there this year. Rumors are that Macy’s, who has been cutting back hours, may be next.

In fact, it is possible that the whole mall may close — leaving one of the richest areas in the country (Berkeley, Oakland, etc.) without a retail mall! Residents would then have to drive 45 minutes to locate a department store. (1)

Now I am just writing here about robberies and burglaries of local stores. I am not documenting the horrendous street crime — the muggings, beatings, rapes, and even murders that are commonplace.

And then there is the escalating crime on BART — where emboldened criminals are seizing BART trains, terrorizing, robbing, and beating ordinary citizens. I am also not writing about the epidemic of shootings on Interstate 80; there have been literally dozens and dozens of them in the last two years, with severe injuries and fatalities.

While all of this is going, those in power aren’t doing a thing. They can’t even if they wanted to. The brainwashed populace blather words like “supremacy” “social justice,” and other empty and dangerous slogans.

And day after day, innocent people are being traumatized, robbed, and injured by the ever increasing and emboldened sociopaths. And no one seems to notice or care.



1. Most people don’t go to Hilltop Mall anymore because it is so dangerous over there. Not only are there thefts and robberies, but drive-by shootings are not uncommon around the mall and all over violence-plagued Richmond.

The crime isn’t just in Berkeley, either. All of the surrounding areas: Albany, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Richmond, Oakland, etc. are being ravaged by crime. And there is even crime spreading to the nicer suburbs — a Home Depot in affluent Danville was taken over and robbed; and a Rite Aid in Pleasant Hill was robbed at gunpoint recently.

By the way, a week after shoplifters were stealing from the CVS that I went into, I shopped at another CVS. As I walked in, the frantic cashier was calling the police because a bunch of thugs had just stolen merchandise from the store. As I said, you cannot get away from it even if you want to.

One last point: I don’t listen to the news. I’m not exactly well-connected, people-wise. The crimes that I described are only the ones that I’ve witnessed or have come to my attention. As I said, what I’ve written about is only the tip of the iceberg.

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Twits and Twitter

We live in the strangest world ever. Not content to live our lives quietly and privately, people upload everything about themselves onto the computer.

Youtube, for instance, is chock-full of folks showcasing their birthday parties and other moments of intimacy for the whole world to see. In the spirit of helpfulness, Youtubers will film videos showing themselves lancing boils and pimples and all kinds of other yucky and disgusting things.

Of course, on Facebook, we can see what our loved ones did over the weekend and what they just ate for breakfast. And when little Mia does her first number one in the potty, proud parents will share the photo of her happy face.

And then there is Twitter. Here we can “follow” people and hear their every thought throughout the day.

To me, Twitter really demonstrates how the world has changed l80 degrees since I was young. If back then someone tried to follow me, I would have called the police.

Although I do my share of sharing through this modest blog, I don’t do any social media: no Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, or Twitter. But given that I have amassed a humongous international and worldwide readership (not), I do worry sometimes that I am depriving my fans by not Twittering.

So in the service of Christian charity, I have decided that I would let you in on all of the exciting — no, riveting — details of an average day in the life of me, your intrepid, Berkeley correspondent.

8 am: Wake up. . . still wiped out. . .fall back asleep.

8:30 am: Force self out of bed and go into the kitchen and make breakfast. Here’s a picture of it: oatmeal and bananas! Yum!

l0 am: Notice that toilet is appearing rather stinky. Time to clean it! Here’s a picture of me squirting some toilet cleaner into it. And look at the finished product! Practically sparkles, doesn’t it?

11 am to noon: Time for a shower and a quick lunch. Chicken sandwich with mayo and lettuce. Here’s a photo!

1 pm Head off to the grocery store. The rotisserie chicken is on sale for 20% off!! Looks delicious, and I plan to pair it tonight with a baked potato.

2 pm Drive across town to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The horrible road rage out there makes me think some decidedly un-Christian thoughts. Have to remember to read the Bible more on Christian love!

5 pm It’s time to eat that rotisserie chicken. But darn it, the potato looks moldy. I’m eating it instead with a big salad: here’s a photo!

10 pm Well, it’s now late in the evening, and it’s time to sign off. I’m going to hop into bed and hopefully catch some Zs.

As you can see, it has been a fruitful and thoroughly fascinating day, and I have enjoyed sharing it with you. I plan to do a bit more Twitter-ing tomorrow as I go sock shopping.

JC Penney’s has a two-for-one sale on Calvin Klein socks!!! So be sure to tune in then. You won’t want to miss it!

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In Defense of Californians

I am going to do something that I never thought I’d do: I am going to defend Californians.

What has driven me to this extreme action?

Several things, actually; I will list them one by one. The first is hearing a Berkeley acquaintance’s story about taking a road trip to a large city in Texas. While my friend enjoyed the wide open spaces, he had an alarming tale about life on Texas roads.

Apparently, because he had a California license plate, cars honked at him and made obscene gestures. A couple of drivers dangerously, and purposely, cut him off.

Story number two: Someone told me about visiting a small city in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoyed the lush, green hills and the clean air. However, she was warned by several people to not linger in this place.

From what the locals told her, some residents are so angry about Californians moving in that they can get violent with people’s cars. Therefore, vehicles with CA plates are often keyed; tires have even been damaged as some outraged (and unglued) residents try to drive the “undesirables” from their city. (1)

And the last tale: in Oregon, it is not uncommon to see For Sale signs. Okay– now that’s pretty routine. But what is shocking is that many of them include these words: No Californians. So, while selling their houses, they find it perfectly acceptable to practice discrimination.

Hearing these stories has had a surprising impact on me. I feel sad, angry, but also very deflated.

You see, I have a very idealistic side to me, a grass-is-always-greener belief system. Perhaps it is a holdover from my decades as a naive progressive.

But I sincerely believed that if I left this state, I would find welcoming and kind people. It never occurred to that I could meet with hostility, discriminatory housing practices, and car damage, simply because I am from California.

And, I wonder, how far does this contempt go? Okay, a lot of Oregonians sound peeved at all of the Californians moving into their state. (However, the irony here is that a good chunk of said Oregonians came from California in the first place.) But are other states vehemently anti-Californian?

Is the rest of the south antagonistic towards those of us from the Golden State? What about the Midwest? New England? I mean, would someone like me be welcome anywhere??

From what I’ve heard, in order to hide the incriminating evidence of their putrid roots, ex-Californians chuck their CA license plates as soon as humanly possible. And ditto for their identifying and damning CA drivers license.

But here’s a question: what are we supposed to say about our life journey? How do we explain where we’ve been for the last few decades? In the Witness Protection Program?

(I imagine a conversation with my new neighbor:

Neighbor: You’re a newcomer, huh? Welcome! Where did you move from?

Me: Cincinnati! (as I try to come up with the most innocuous and pleasant sounding of places).

Neighbor: Cincinnati?! Well you must know of Joe Carmichael!

Me: Uh, no, I don’t.

Neighbor: (confused) You must have heard of Joe Carmichael. And Fred Carmichael, his father.

Me: (getting nervous here) Um. . hm. . no I don’t think so.

Neighbor: Joe was the mayor of Cincinnati for l0 years! And before that his father, Fred, was the mayor.

Me: Oh, well, actually the last few years I didn’t live in Cincinnati (scrambling to come up with another pleasant and benign area). . I lived in Tacoma, Washington!

Neighbor: (smiling heartily) Tacoma! Well, what a coincidence! Mimi and I lived there for years when we were first married! What street did you live on?

Me: Um (desperately trying to name a street in a city that I’ve never been to). Main Street!

Neighbor: (now getting suspicious) Main Street? I don’t remember a Main Street there. . and I drove a cab for years in Tacoma.

Great. . .so my new neighbor may not know that I’m from California — but he thinks that I’m a pathological liar.)

Coming up with some phony-baloney story would not work anyway. You see, my accent and mannerisms scream California. I have been told that I sound like a mixture of a New Yorker and a California Valley Girl. Lucky me (not): I would be despised not simply from being a “despicable” Californian, but a born-and-raised New Yorker as well.

Hearing these stories of anti-California actions has had a huge effect on me. For one, I realize that a collective madness has descended upon this nation. Someone could get beat up simply because someone, somewhere, heard through the grapevine that the person was a “nazi.” And a person could be targeted for road rage because of the license plate on his car.

Something else that I’ve realized: We human beings are wretched creatures. I mean, come on here! When did it become acceptable to become aggressive towards someone because of how they voted or the state in which they live? It’s only because of God’s eternal mercy and grace that He didn’t consign us to the trash bin thousands of years ago.

And my final realization, perhaps the most startling one: I am a Californian — for good and for bad. I may try to deny it; I may complain bitterly about it. But after decades here, I have to admit it: this is my home.

I wasn’t born here. .. but probably one day I will die here. And that’s okay — it’s even better than okay, regardless of what the rest of the country thinks.


1. For the record, I have never, ever, not even once heard of anyone in California keying someone’s car, making obscene gestures, or otherwise acting deranged because of an out-of-state license plate. And, believe me, we have been deluged with newcomers for decades, who have driven up housing costs and clogged the freeways.

In my view, people engaging in this bigoted and anti-social behavior should be ashamed of themselves. . . along with anyone who supports it.

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Fire and Brimstone

I’ve been all choked up lately — literally and figuratively.

Monday, I wrote that the air here was horrible. Well, it is way, way worse today. The air is thick with the stench of burning ashes. People are coughing, wearing respiratory masks, and gobbling up Advil for headaches.

There is a worried look in most people’s faces (of course, there are plenty of the typical denier types who are out playing tennis and sitting in outdoor cafes). But a good many people have furrowed brows, concerned about people they know up north.

We’re also very concerned about ourselves, about the effects of breathing air so unhealthy that the experts have never seen anything like it, including after the l991 Oakland hills fires. And then there is the greatest fear of all: can this catastrophe happen here?

So it’s a scary and miserable scene. I was woken up in the middle of the night from the intense smell of smoke. I had unwisely cracked my window open a tad so that I didn’t pass out from the heat in my very hot house. But my doing so quickly filled the bedroom up with smoke.

Feeling nauseous around 5 am, I headed to the kitchen to sit down and get some water. But the bad air had leaked in there, so no escape was possible.

Almost no one has air conditioning around here, including me. So the radio interview I heard this morning from the expert in Southern Cal about how to cope with the noxious air (“Run your air conditioners”) wasn’t particularly helpful. Many of us are resorting to wearing respiratory masks, even the strongest, space age-like ones that you see in movies.

So I’ve been choking up from all the smoke. But I’ve been also choking up from the terribly tragic news from up north, which is bringing me to tears throughout the day.

Although I am generally news phobic, I’ve been glued to the news reports about the wildfires in the North Bay. Part of it is self-serving, of course. Until the fires are out, we in the Bay Area are being subjected to dangerously unhealthy air.

But I am also deeply upset about what is going on up there. You see, the North Bay is practically an extension of the SF Bay Area. Most people know someone up there.

And many Berkeley folks have moved out of the insane Bay Area for quieter and more peaceful locales north. And, for those of us stuck in the city, Northern Cal is a wonderful vacation from the madness that is the SF Bay Area.

It’s just much nicer there. Sure, the north is getting expensive and more crowded; but it’s nowhere near as packed and costly as where I live.

While the hype about the SF Bay Area is that we live in the greatest area in the whole world, that just isn’t true. Yes, there’s theater in SF — but one has to endure bumper-to-bumper traffic, and walk a gauntlet of thugs and aggressive panhandlers.

Sure we have nature here. But we’ve also had some violent crimes up in the hiking trails, including a murder in the Oakland Hills. So when feeling nature-starved, many of us head north.

I have so many wonderful memories of day trips and vacations up north. Northern California is beautiful, with its forested, lush hills, rivers, and the Pacific Ocean. When my health was better, I went up there all the time.

I loved Calistoga (now evacuated) and its quaint little shops and restaurants. I would stay in a sweet cabin, and enjoy the hot tubs during the day. The Russian River was probably my favorite; I still remember lazy afternoons playing in the river or renting a canoe to head down the gentle stream.

Santa Rosa, which has been hit hardest by the fires, is (was??) a vibrant city. It has all the benefits of an urban setting, such as tons of stores and restaurants, but also exquisitely beautiful nature.

Many times I’ve dreamed of moving to one of the counties up north. It’s a rare Bay Area resident who hasn’t considered relocating to Sonoma County or Napa, Mendocino, etc. And scores of people do; they cash in big on houses and head off to calmer digs up north.

So the wreckage up north is personal to most long-term residents around here. And, of course, we in the Bay, are suffering too, by being trapped inside or choking from toxic air.

If you’ve read my posts before, you know that my thoughts always return to God. It is hard not to think of Him at this moment in time — of how little we are compared to His enormous power.

We humans walk around thinking that we have all the control in the world. We build little oases in our houses that, in a second’s time, can be reduced to rubble.

We create relationships that mean the world to us; and yet these too will end: through arguments, through divorce, or, eventually, through death.

The fire in the sky makes me think of God’s fire, too, because fire represents God in the Bible. This is why, in the Roman Catholic Church, during the Easter vigil, the priest lights a bonfire outside the church.

The parishioners then enter the darkened church carrying only lit candles. These are powerful reminders that Christ has come into the world — and that without Him we are in utter and profound darkness.

I pray that these national catastrophes lead people to Him. Because in the end, we will have nothing: no cars, no houses . . not pretty dresses or high-tech toys.

We will only have Him. But only if we choose Him, now, before it is too late.

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Up In Smoke

It is horrible here. In Berkeley, the air is so thick with the putrid smell of smoke that you can’t even see the hills.

The smoke is a result of the raging wildfires in Northern California. Actually, the Bay Area is not that close to the burning wildfires, which is two hours north. Unfortunately, the wind has pushed the smoke southward, in our direction.

Many folks (including me) have been woken up in the middle of night the last two nights, because of the nauseating smell of smoke. The smoke is burning our eyes, inflaming sinuses, and giving most everyone a headache.

It’s a frightening scene. People everywhere are coughing. Many residents are wearing respiratory masks or staying inside.

But inside isn’t great either. One can smell smoke there as well. And, anyway, it is hot and muggy here, so it’s pretty torturous to be trapped in a hot room.

Of course, many people have it a lot worse than we do. I feel very bad for the people in Santa Rosa, and Mendocino and Yuba Counties, who have lost their homes. Wineries have burned to the ground, and several people, including an octogenarian couple around l00 years of age, have lost their lives.

All of this is a startling and disturbing reminder of many things. First and foremost, our lives and possessions can literally go up in smoke in a heartbeat.

Most of us believe that we’ll somehow live forever. But we won’t; and we don’t know when our time will be up. Wouldn’t these natural disasters be a good motivation to stop living for ourselves? Shouldn’t we use the fires and floods to contemplate the deeper meaning of life?

On a more earthly level, wildfires are a stark example of what happens when human beings play goodie-twoshoes with Mother Nature. Some of the wildfires we’ve had the last few decades may have been preventable.

The reason is that, several decades ago, the populace put a halt to clearing of the forests, because of concern for nature. But nature has a way of exerting its own powerful force if left to its own devices.

Decades ago, Northern California used to have thriving logging and lumber industries. Companies clear-cut the forests, selling the lumber for paper goods, etc.

But because of pagan worries about hurting trees, many of these industries were halted. This plummeted much of Northern Cal into a deep recession, with massive unemployment and the inevitable wreckage of this (alcohol problems, broken families, depression etc.). Some towns (and people) have never fully recovered.

What have been the consequences of stopping the logging of the forests? Massive wildfires, with great difficulty containing them, such as the devastation up north. It’s common sense: more trees and more dry hills and grass, and no rain for months on end, equal fire and destruction.

Ironically and sadly, many of the people who have lost their houses and businesses in wildfires are the very same people who vote for these misguided liberal policies. And these policies have enabled innumerable wildfires to exert their deadly force.

The wildfires are a stark and vivid example of what happens to a State when it is allowed to run wild. When many crimes are decriminalized; when there’s more concern for the criminals than the victims; when our freeways become parking lots because of an onslaught of immigrants– then disaster results. The State of California is literally going up in smoke because it is out-of-control — whether it is the wildness of people or the wildness of nature and fires.

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Going to the Dogs

I live in a kennel. At least it feels that way much of the time.

Take my block, for instance. Neighbor on my left has two dogs that bark the whole livelong day. Neighbor on my right has three pooches, all real yelpers.

Across the street, they have some nasty Rottweilers that the family sometimes lets loose. And in my back, they have only one, but he barks incessantly.

Now you probably have tons of dogs in your neighborhood too. So you might wondering what I’m bellyaching about. But please remember that while you live on 1/4 acre, maybe a full one or even more, we in the Bay Area are squashed together like sardines.

So when my neighbor next door walks outside and, perhaps, coughs, I hear it loud and clear in my living room. When Rover is barking his head off all day and night, no peace is ever possible.

I get why everyone and his brother own barking canines around here. It’s a dangerous place to live. No wonder people have large and sometimes vicious dogs guarding their houses.

But it makes for a stressful, noisy, and chaotic place to live. . . unless one enjoys the relentless howls, cries and barks. And the cacophonous dogs all over the neighborhoods are just the beginning.

In this area, dogs not only rule the neighborhoods and streets. But they are omnipresent in retail establishments, restaurants, and grocery stores. So you can’t get away from the furry creatures, even if you want to.

True story: I was in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond in a tony suburb. I entered the store and saw, to my shock and revulsion, fresh dog excrement on the floor.

I raced over to Customer Service to tell them. The staff looked up, rolled their eyes in disgust, and kept on working. The look on their faces: “I don’t get paid enough to clean up dog poop.”

Feeling frantic that some poor customer would step in the manure, I stood watch over it as people walked in. Then I pointed to the ground and observed their horrified faces enveloped in a “euww.” Luckily, a few minutes later, a woman with the “perpetuator” (a straggly, ugly little mutt) bent down and removed much of the poop with a tissue.

The reason why there are dogs wherever you eat or shop is twofold. For one, people don’t feel that the rules apply to them. So they will stride defiantly into a store, walking right past the large sign that reads, “No pets allowed.”

The second reason has to do with the next line on the sign, which reads: “Service animals allowed.” And that provides a wide opening for Fido to join us shopping at Marshall’s.

Service animal refers to a California law for people who have some sort of disorder (usually mental). The doctors write a letter allowing them to have a service animal with them at all times for solace. That means at bars, restaurants, planes, movies, doctor’s offices, etc. etc.

We’re not talking about a blind person with a seeing-eye dog. . nor a wheelchair-bound paraplegic whose dog helps them safely traverse the streets. Service animals assist the depressed and lonely to — I guess, not feel so depressed and lonely.

Now the problems with the law include the following: 1. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Most people can handle ten minutes alone at the bank.

2. If someone is so distressed that he can’t handle a few minutes alone, how does it help to reinforce that sense of helplessness? Wouldn’t fostering independence be key to his improvement?

3. The law is totally exploited and manipulated by tons of people. I know a lady who is happy as a clam with a charmed life. But somehow she talked her doc into a signing a letter; so now her pooch can join her at the gynecologist and at yoga class.

And finally, 4: Tons of people don’t have service animals but lie that they do. And weirdly enough, the law forbids the shop owners to actually ask anyone for any documentation. That means that most of the so-called “service dogs” aren’t.

But the fact that dogs rule the streets isn’t surprising if you’ve been here any length of time. Here dog rights trump those of the lowly human.

So, for instance, there have been fiery battles between dog owners and parents regarding city parks. The former insist that parks be opened up to their German Shepherds, while the parents plead for clean, safe parks where their children can play. You can guess who usually wins: The four legged ones.

Along with the concerned parents, what about others who may object to mutts all over the place? What about people with animal allergies, with asthma, or people who are scared of dogs? (ironically, all the law allows the dog phobic to do is to get a service dog). And what about those of us who don’t want to put our fresh, new towels or our broccoli in the same cart where a dog just sat?

That this area has become one big kennel is par for the course. Berkeley, et al. are sad spectacles, in free fall.

We’ve got a horrific amount of crime; people living in every nick and cranny; and filth worse than cities in the Third World. And, yes, we’ve got man’s best friend doing number two in Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Do you need any more proof that Berkeley — actually the whole, sorry state of California — has gone to the dogs?

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Snapshots of Berkeley

Time it was
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

-(All lyrics from Old Friends/Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel)

Waving Man

Anyone who lived in Berkeley decades ago remembers the Waving Man. His name was Joseph Charles.

Mr. Charles stood on the corner, outside of his house, on Grove Way (later renamed: Martin Luther King Blvd.) And all day, he would enthusiastically bellow, “Have a nice day!!”

Mr. Charles would stand there, happily waving and smiling. For some reason, he always wore a white glove while merrily waving his hand. Drivers would honk back happily in greeting, which makes me wonder how the neighbors tolerated this for so many years.

As I understand it, Mr. Charles was a retired government worker. Rather than devote his retirement to golfing or going to the senior center, instead his thing was standing there, waving. I’m sure many people thought that he was deranged.

But many more of us thoroughly enjoyed his sheer happiness, which emanated from his daily greetings. Rain, heat, cold, fog. . nothing deterred him.. . that is, until he passed away a number of years ago at age 91.

Mr. Charles and his ebullient hobby personifies the Berkeley that once was. Yes, it was filled to the brim with criminal types and aggressive panhandlers. But we also had our harmless kooks, who added a certain bright, bohemian flavor to the local scene.

But this quirkiness is pretty much absent from this area, circa 2017. Many of the benign but way-out types, such as Mr. Charles, have died. Some of the eccentric folks have relocated to quieter, more peaceful locales up north.

What remains, sadly, is the Berkeley that we now know. It’s heavy on crime, with an epidemic of people living all over the streets. We’ve got a massive number of newcomers, mostly immigrants clogging the streets and turning the traffic into a nightmare, day and night. Almost everyone is frustrated and angry — and for good reason.

But there once was a time that was different. When I think of Mr. Charles’ contagious joy, it makes me smile a little, remembering a time that felt happier and brighter, partly because I was a different person then too.

Cloud Guy

Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
On the high shoes
Of the old friends

Another memorable Berkeley character was “Cloud Guy.” For some reason, he adorned himself from head to toe in sky-blue clouds. He must have had a number of outfits made especially for him.

“Cloud” would hang out every single day at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, looking resplendent in his bright, cloud-emblazoned garments. But his zaniness went way beyond his outfits.

“Cloud” would actually lay down on the concrete for much of the day. Yes, you read that correctly. He just laid there on his back. I have no idea why, or what the man was thinking. I also don’t know how he managed to stay alive, given the busy pedestrian traffic around Sproul.

But somehow he lived through the day because he returned there, Monday through Sunday. And he would drive there and park his car nearby. The reason that I know this is because I once saw his parked car. I knew that it was Cloud because it was painted all over with his trademark insignia — clouds.

I haven’t seen Cloud Guy for many years now. I don’t know what happened to him. And I wonder how he would react to all the violence and rioting up on campus. Would he be deterred from his daily vocation of lying there, all cloud-like?

Naked People

Long Ago
It must be
I have a photograph

When I first arrived in Berkeley, in the 80s, I was quite startled to see a few naked people walking around the streets. There was naked dude. . . and then, separately, there were two naked women.

Naked Dude was a young, very buff man in his 20s. He wore a fanny pack that hid “the family jewels” — though his back was wide open for all to see. Again, I haven’t a clue about why Naked Dude would walk around in his “birthday suit.” But somehow, back in the day, he was able to get away with doing this.

Perhaps even more shockingly, there were two naked women who walked around together as well, independent of the Naked Dude. While Naked Dude was a looker, these were plain-looking women. As a gesture towards modesty, they also wore fanny packs covering their privates. But the rest was there for all the world to see.

The ladies would walk around with their arms locked together. I never got the sense that they were lesbians, though. They actually had a bit of fear in their eyes; I wondered if they clung to each other to help ensure their safety.

I don’t know whatever happened to the naked women. One day, they just sort of disappeared. But what happened to Naked Dude is a story in and of itself.

One day, Naked Dude was arrested. It wasn’t because of the nudity. As I recall, he was publicly under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol — there may have been (probably) some mental illness as well.

In a holding cell, Naked Dude hung himself. The guards found him shortly thereafter. I remember reading an article about this in the local paper, with a photograph of him (from the neck up).

And that was the end of the short, very odd, and very sad life of the young, handsome Naked Dude.

Hare Hare

The sounds of the city
Sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends

Back in the 80s and 90s, Berkeley had its fair share of cults. Most of them were religious, though there were political ones, too, such as the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army. Members of the group kidnapped, tortured, and brainwashed Patty Hearst into becoming the revolutionary, Tanya.

Each day, there was plenty of cult action. It wasn’t unusual to have traffic blocked by the Hare Krishnas. The Hare’s would dance around in their gold-plated costumes, while chanting Hare Hare repeatedly.

It was a time in our nation’s history when there was a definite agenda to untether young people from their religion, mostly from Christianity. The plan was to redirect the young towards Eastern religion, where they could be more easily controlled and corrupted.

Thus, it is no coincidence that, at the Concert for Bangladesh, George Harrison sang over and over again, “My Sweet Lord,” until he switched the lyrics to: “Hare Hare, Hare Krishna.” By doing this, he helped a generation of young adults to associate the “Lord” with “Krishna,” and other Eastern figures.

The Hare’s were just one of a multitude of Eastern religions out here at that time. Of course, by unanchoring people from the true, Almighty God, many young people (and some older ones) were easily swayed into following gurus.

I know people who were so mesmerized by the groups that they left their spouses to join one. Some even abandoned their own children.

One of the most popular gurus at that time was Bhagwan Rajneesh (aka Osho). The many followers around here were always decked out in pink and red. Rajneesh was a notorious cult leader whose closest assistants apparently tried to poison the people of Oregon, where the guru was based.

Rajneesh was known for his advocacy of “free sex,” which allowed him easy access to the many young people who flocked to live with him in Oregon. Rajneesh was also known as the Rolls Royce guru. Because his followers showered him with money, he purchased a bunch of Rolls, amassing dozens of vehicles at one point.

Eventually Rajneesh was deported from the US and, since most other countries refused him entry, he returned to India. His death at age 58 is shrouded in mystery — some say heart failure, but some of his followers believed that he was poisoned.

Thanks be to God, I never got involved with the Hare Krishnas or Rajneesh’s or any of the other notable cults around here. For many years, though, I practiced Buddhism, with a little bit of Hinduism and Sufism thrown in.

I was super into that scene for many years — until, suddenly, I lost interest. There wasn’t any particular reason why; but meditation and reading about Buddhism just became vacuous, stale. I went through a few years of real darkness because something that I had cherished so much and built my life around had ended.

But looking back now, I understand why I had suddenly lost my zeal for Eastern religions. I see that God was preparing me for something else, for something infinitely better — for Him. And now that I am the most unworthy recipient of His grace, my life has changed in ways that absolutely no guru, no meditation teacher, or anything else could ever come close to touching.

Then and Now

Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

The past is gone. Berkeley is a different place than it was back in the day. And I am a different woman.

Strangely enough, although I have done a l80 degree turnabout in my life, I am the same in so many ways. I have the same sense of humor, personality and temperament of bygone days. And I have similar neuroses to my younger self.

But something inside of me has changed forever. Things have been lost — but what is much more important — God — has been found.

These days, I still walk the familiar streets of Berkeley. But now I see nothing that relates to my present life. Berkeley has changed; I have changed. As Dylan Thomas wrote, you can’t go home again.

Time has passed — for me, for you, for all of us. Now, being older and wiser, we can simply try to preserve our memories. . . cherish the good times and let go of the rest.

And at the same time, embrace this amazing, precious, magical moment that will never come again.

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Enter Laughing

My parents were a very funny couple. They were natural born comediennes and actors.. and the world was their stage.

When I was a child, I was often embarrassed about it. But now looking back I admire their joie de vie.

My father, especially, had to kibbutz with every waitress or cashier in sight. A walk from our car to a diner would take 3 times the time it should, since my father was kidding around with strangers or trying to make all the children giggle.

Dinner at a restaurant would take all night. My parents would tease the waitress, joke with the manager, and start a conversation with every table nearby.

I have a photo of them from a cruise that they took in the Caribbean, sometime in the 60s. There is a band playing and professional dancers up there dancing; somehow my fun-loving father is up there too, boogying to the beat.

My mother was also an extrovert, though a bit more reserved than dad. She was the straight man to his comedienne. But they both loved a big party, and more often than not, they’d create one even if it didn’t exist.

When my folks came to visit me once in California, they arrived at their hotel in SF a bit early. Rather than see the tourist sights (Fisherman’s Wharf, the Museum of Modern Art), they instead headed over to the nearest pub.

My parents had the time of their lives because a large group of sailors had arrived and come into the bar. My folks joined their table, as, I’m sure, they cajoled the sailors to spill the beans on their most salacious escapades.

I never thought that I was anything like my parents. I didn’t talk to strangers; I much preferred hanging out with a friend one-to-one rather than a party. I liked to read in my room or watch TV while my parents had a large group gathering in the den.

But over the years I have discovered that I am similar to them in many ways. One of which is that I find myself also kibbutzing with strangers.

Now there’s a big problem with this tendency that I inherited from my parents. I am in Berkeley. This isn’t exactly Comedy Central.

I don’t blame it on the actual residents. This is just not a funny place to live. Any moment, there can be a thug ripping off someone’s purse or a riot starting downtown. Almost everyone is imbibing doom-and-gloom news from NPR or from Facebook.

And also, there are so many disturbed and disturbing people around here, one never knows when you’re dealing with someone crazy. Out of the blue, some nutcase can start screaming expletives in a person’s face. So the general rule of thumb is keep your head down, don’t smile, and assume that a person is dangerous unless they prove otherwise (but get the heck out of there before they do).

Given this, it is very hard to be a joker around Berkeley. When I try, most of the time people just look at me, blank-faced. Here’s an example from today: I was at a small cafe which has some tasty evening specials. I went over to the counter and greeted the waitperson with a friendly smile and hello. . . though I received a tepid response.

I then said, “I just wanted to see what delicious foods you are offering today!!” Again, no reaction, just a stare, as the young man tried to figure out what was my angle.

Another time: I went into a Peet’s coffee shop and was eyeing the desserts (which, by the way, are fabulous). The young woman at the counter asked me, “Do you have any questions at all that I can answer?”

Well, that is a set-up for someone like me, the offspring of my late, mischievous parents. I said, “Yes, I do. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here?”

Unfortunately, the young woman couldn’t take a joke. She had obviously dealt with too many people harassing her, making fun of her, giving her a hard time, or whatever. She just glared at me. I added, “I’m just joking,” with a friendly smile. But that didn’t placate the woman who took my kidding as as personal affront.

That’s the problem around here. We’re all so easily offended, often for very good reasons. There are just too many people harassing others, giving them a hard time, even yelling and berating them. So one never knows when another person is acting in a benign, maybe even a playful manner.

It’s a hard way to live. . and I fall into the doldrums myself at times. A stranger may smile at me and I remain steely; there are times when someone is being nice, but I assume that they are “dissing” me. In this rough-and-tumble area, most people have developed a hard exterior to cope.

It’s challenging not to make that hardness a lifestyle. So I try, when I can, to channel my late parents’ good nature and love for life. A lot of times people just stare at me, confused. But occasionally I’ll get a laugh from someone and a good-natured response.

I know that a smile and a big laugh can perhaps frighten people. But maybe it can also make people feel our mutual humanity. It worked for my high-spirited parents throughout their lives; maybe it could work in Berkeley too.

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Who’s Afraid of Ben Shapiro?

Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts of Ben Shapiro speaking at Yale and other venues. I even watched the two-hour talk that he gave recently at UC Berkeley.

I had never heard of Ben Shapiro before. I also had never heard of Milo _______________ (long last name that begins with a “Y”) until recently. But with all the publicity about Milo and Ben’s attempts to speak at Berkeley, I had to check them out.

(Side note, here: Doesn’t trying to crush free speech actually defeat the purpose? Doesn’t it entice people to actually tune in to see what the brouhaha is all about? And — earth to Berkeley — isn’t calling yourselves the home of Free Speech while rioting and beating up conservatives just a tad hypocritical?? But reason, logic, and common sense don’t actually rule in these parts.)

So now that I have checked out these supposedly notorious conservative speakers what do I think? Not all that much. I listened; I was curious for about three minutes, but now I’m pretty much done.

Milo is bright, witty and cute, and, yes, I love a British accent. But his humor is way over the top, way too obscene and graphic for a Christian gal like me.

Ben Shapiro comes across as the boy next door — that is, if the boy next door wears a yarmulke and sports a law degree from Harvard. If you haven’t checked out his event at Berkeley, you should. He is highly intelligent, well-informed, pleasant, and civil.

While there was pandemonium prior to Ben’s talk, those at the actual event behaved themselves; the progressives asked their questions in a respectful manner. If anything, the most annoying aspect of the talk for the leftists was that some of it was a snoozefest.

The whole event was heavy on erudite questions about the free market system. Lucky for me, I was listening to a podcast so I could fast forward the more mind-numbing questions about economics.

The event ended on an amusing note, with the last questioner doing a shout-out to some girl he met at the event, asking her for a date. (Oh, those college students — you think that they are preoccupied with revolution when actually they are daydreaming about that cute gal or guy in physics class.)

If you take the time to actually listen to Ben, there isn’t anything remotely “hater” or “KKK” about his speech. The same can be said about Milo; he’s only over-the-top in his descriptions of why he’s not a racist (which has something to do with liking black men, and that’s about all I will say about that).

There were plenty of arrests at both Ben Shapiro’s talk and Milo’s brief appearance at the campus last Sunday. Valuable taxpayer money was frittered away to protect the speakers and the crowds. But I think that all of the drama is a smokescreen for what’s really going on.

The leftists at Berkeley become apoplectic about conservative speakers not because the latter are haters. And, frankly, the idea that the frenzied leftists have to shut down speakers to protect the delicate nature of blacks, gays, women, college students, etc. strikes me as very paternalistic.

The expensive and often violent attempts to crush free speech have to do mostly with fear: that is, progressives are afraid that people will actually be influenced by Ben, Ann, and Milo. The Left’s worst fear is reflected in this person’s comment on YouTube: “I’m a liberal but Ben Shapiro makes a lot of sense.”

The main way to keep people inside the progressive bubble is by ignorance. . . and ignorance is maintained by a close watch over what people can see and hear and read. The greatest danger to social control is an independent press and a free-thinking people.

Though Ben and Milo, et al. aren’t very scary, there is a whole lot of fear around them. But most Americans are a freedom-loving people who don’t look favorably on having their speech and information censored. Come the next election cycle, my guess is that those Americans will be expressing their deep disapproval of the sad and dangerous state of the Democratic Party.

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Airhead B&B

Hey, I have the greatest idea ever. Imagine staying at a complete stranger’s house — and giving them a bunch of money in advance of your stay!

Your vacation digs will not be checked out by the state. No fire inspection needed. You just give the person your hard-earned bucks and stay at their place.

Even better: the nice folks that you’re staying with will cook you breakfast! Again, no health and safety checks needed by the local government. And who knows, while you are there, you may become acquainted with the homeowner’s dogs, children, tenants, and mother-in-law.

If that doesn’t sound like the best idea in the world, I have an even better one. Rather than call a taxi when you need a ride, push a few buttons on your Smart Phone. A complete stranger — totally unvetted by the local municipalities — will come to your door and pick you up!

In order to save some money on cabs, you can instead be driven around by someone without a taxi license, or special training, permits, or anything else. It will just be an under- or unemployed guy or gal who will take you in their personal vehicle to your destination. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Several decades ago the possibility of staying at the house of who-knows-who or getting in the car with anyone other than a trustworthy friend, family member, or taxi driver would have been absurd. In my father’s words, it would have been cockamamie. People wanted their drivers, etc. etc. to go through rigorous testing and licensing.

But now we live in a world where money rules. To save some money, people will take risks that would have been unimaginable back in the day. Folks will even watch a Youtube video on car repairs and try to do it themselves rather than (as reasonable people would do) head over to their local repair shop.

It’s a do-it-yourself world, from pumping our own gas to scanning our grocery products. Here in California, we even have to bring our own bags. The status of human beings has dropped lower than an endangered snail.

As you can tell, I would never, ever stay in an air B&B. Ditto to getting in the car with a Lyft or Uber driver. I imagine that many of the drivers are legitimate and trustworthy. But, frankly, I’ve seen some of them driving around here, and I’m scared to drive next to them, much less get in the car.

There was a time, a number of years ago, that for a bunch of different reasons, I took a lot of cabs. This was before the day when you could supersede the taxi drivers and push an app button instead.

The drivers were all immigrants from India. My heart really went out to them. I learned how many times they were threatened or robbed. They had to go through extensive training and permitting to do their work — and they shelled out a lot of money to do so. So it pains me to think about how Uber and Lyft are ripping off these hard-working people.

Not to mention, what about the risks to the Lyft and Uber drivers?? The taxi drivers around me are l00% men. But I’ve seen some vulnerable-looking women driving for do-it-yourself companies. Seems to me a risky practice, no matter how desperate she may be for work.

And when I travel (rarely), I stay at a well-known chain. Let me tell you what happened to me once there during an emergency.

I was staying at a Marriot Hotel in California. In our pathetic State, we often have power outages — for no apparent reason. At about 9 pm, the hotel (and the nearby area) went dark.

Well, it was as though the staff at the Marriot had been waiting their entire lives for this moment to arrive. Their response was unbelievable — something that should be emulated by FEMA.

Every one of them snapped into action. They dashed around the hallways looking to see if everyone was safe. They quickly checked all the elevators to ensure safety. Then — as though through magic — they supplied several hundred travelers with this little flashlight thingy.

They remained calm; they kept us informed about what was happening with the blackout. No staff went home, even when their shift was over. A few hours later the lights went back on, and the operations of the hotel continued seamlessly.

It was a sight to behold. I’ve never felt so secure and protected in my entire life. I knew that there was nothing — earthquakes, monsoons, hurricanes, blizzards, plagues of locusts — that could ruffle these folks. Contrast the above with an emergency at your air B&B. Chances are you’d be on your own — and in the dark.

Prior to the days of air B&Bs, I rented a few vacation houses. Back then, the local newspapers ran ads for rentals. I stayed at a couple of nice places — but more often, dirty ones, where my first day on vacation was cleaning the house (if they had any cleaning supplies).

A notable experience was one house that was totally flea infested. I was scared to death of bringing some of the nasty creatures home with me. Another fiasco was a cabin in the Redwoods where the next-door neighbor was felling Redwood trees (a sound like a bomb going off). Since I had already paid for the week, I was stuck.

The moral of the story: For me, I will always choose the licensed, registered, vetted option. No airheads for me or tough-looking Ubers. And, yes, I’d rather stand in line a few extra minutes and have someone else scan and bag my groceries. . . and I’ll even pay for the bag. I still think that I — and all human beings — am worth it.

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Thank You for Not Breeding

I never had children. Now that I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, into my twilight years, I have decidedly mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, it would be nice to now have fully formed adult children. My daughter, “Emma” (named after Ms. Goldman) and my son, Che (no explanation needed) and I would do all sorts of fun and meaningful activities together.

On Sundays, we’d go to church, and Wednesdays, Bible class. We’d have meals together, where we’d discuss what God is doing in our lives.

There’s only one problem with this scenario: none of it would be true. And, worse than that, my children would likely detest me.

See, the thing is that is when I was actually raising my dearly beloved apocryphal children, I would have been a true Berkeley believer. My offspring would have been bred to rebel and question authority: (and like so many bewildered parents out here, I would have found out that that included me.)

You see, I drank the Berkeley Kool-aid for decades. I thought, “Why be normal?”; why buy into the whole sexist, racist, oppressive, thing? Thus, by day, Emma and Che would have attended the radical public schools, and by night, they would have accompanied me to political lectures.

And now, I would be a laughingstock to my dear children. Why? because I have changed. I have now become what they were raised to despise and fear: Normal. Patriotic. God-fearing.

Aside from the harsh reality that I’d be anathema to my darling Emma and Che, there are other reasons why it was probably better that I didn’t have children. For one, my children would have been raised around here, on the mean streets of Berkeley and in their Hades-like schools.

My progeny would have been screamed at by the paranoid, and had their backpacks and electronic devises absconded by thugs. The schools would have taught them the malignant concept of collective guilt, that is, because of the color of their skin, they are responsible for everything bad that has ever happened. So no matter how much my children would try to be good people, they would never feel good enough.

When they weren’t learning that they were terrible people, the kids would be in lockdown, either at school or at truly communistic experiments, such as the Mosaic Project. Probably conjured up by a clone of Karl Marx, at Mosaic camp, local public school and private school children spend five days together in the woods.

The utopian idea of Mosaic is that all the races would live together in harmony, while attending various sensitivity groups where they sing social justice songs. In reality, from what I’ve heard, there can be lockdowns in the cabins, with sexual harassment, theft, and bullying not uncommon.

And if you’re a parent, don’t bother to volunteer to chaperone the whole, ghastly affair. In this revolutionary paradise, no parents are allowed.

Just so the Catholic school children around here aren’t left out of Shangri-la, there is a similar camp for Catholic children, called Caritas Creek. Also a five-day camp, it looks like a copy cat of Mosaic.

Catholic school children attend the camp, without parents, learning tolerance and eco-love (pantheism?) with diverse types of children. There isn’t anything even remotely Christian about the camp, which promotes a New Age concept of the “Spirit of Love.”

At Caritas Creek camp, the Catholic school children participate in various “trust” exercises, for instance, falling backwards into the arms of their fellow students. But haven’t there been horrendous scandals in the Catholic Church with the abuse of children?

Given that, does anyone else out there see the danger of programming the kiddies to trust everyone? Wouldn’t the children then override their natural, God-given intuition around fear, for instance, of falling backwards and also of dealing with creepy people?

As I review the scene around here for children, you can understand why I have ambivalent feelings about not procreating. On the one hand, kids are wonderful. .. . breathed into existence by Almighty God. On the other hand, if children aren’t raised with wholesome family values, more harm may be done to them and society than good.

Though I, like so many Berkeley parents, would have raised Emma and Che with the best of intentions, my children would likely be confused messes: tattooed, copiously pierced, identity confused, and guilty as all get out. And I’d be throwing out big bucks on shrinks and acupuncturists.

So in the end, it’s probably better that I didn’t produce yet another confused Berkeley young adult. Because unless a child is raised with a healthy respect for authority, morals, manners, and most importantly, faith in God, then they are raised in darkness. And I wouldn’t want any child, especially mine, to be raised that way.

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California Dreaming

I had a dentist appointment last week in North Berkeley. Afterwards, I decided to have lunch in an Indian restaurant nearby that I hadn’t been to in many a year. (That’s the nice thing about not working: I can stretch out a medical appointment into a whole day.)

The restaurant was one that I frequented a lot many years ago. But somehow it flew off of my radar. I was curious if the menu and the environs were the same.

I was shocked to see that they were. Most of the restaurants around here have turned over many times or closed. But this place offered the same dishes that I remembered — and they even tasted the same.

This was good — and not so good. I enjoyed the meal just as I had decades ago. But the experience brought back all sorts of evocative memories.

As I sat there eating, I recalled sitting on the deck with a close friend of many years. Somehow we had a nasty falling out a while back and haven’t spoken since. So the image of the two of us laughing as we happily sat there had a sad, melancholy feeling to it.

Then I remembered going with a large group of people to dine there, family style. We sat in one of the large tables towards the front of the restaurant. Sitting there last week, I shook my head, recalling how one of the people in our party kept scooping out so much food that he left the rest of us with little. But it got me thinking about how many friends I had when I was younger, how I could go out in a big group — versus now.

Although there were few other people in the restaurant, there were many ghosts in the room — those of the distant past when my life was totally different. Back then I was, of course, younger, a bona fide progressive, with kindred spirits who believed in the same thing. Now, the years have sped by, and I’m way older, wiser, accompanied by the loneliness of being so different.

Before too long, my eyes were wet with tears, thinking about the good old days. This is, of course, what older people do: we remember the past in an idyllic way, oftentimes forgetting about the hardships. It all becomes a bit opaque and dreamy — what was and what could have been.

Sitting there tearful, I remembered another time when memory lane dissolved me into tears. It was some years ago, maybe around 2010, after my big political transformation. I went up to Telegraph Avenue, a truly filthy, chaotic area that I pretty much stopped going to as I got older. But when I was young, I’d head up there fairly frequently.

My favorite haunt up there was a burger place called Smart Alec’s and I was itching to have one of their soy burgers. For a long time it was vegetarian so I, as a then-vege, could indulge in some good eats: veggie burgers, french fries, and yummy desserts. Since it had been so long that I had a good burger, I went up to Smart Alec’s about 7 years ago.

I sat there eating a soy burger and fries, when I saw this young female in her 20s. She reminded me so much of myself at that age — the long, flowing hair, the thin willowy frame and the hippie-type clothes. She was with her boyfriend, and the two looked so young and carefree.

I thought of how I looked similarly hanging out at the Telegraph at the same age. Again, it didn’t take long before the tears were flowing down my face, thinking about my youthful past, now long gone. But I also became emotional thinking about how much I had changed, and the losses involved in this.

Back at the Indian restaurant last week, the waitress woke me up from my reverie by bringing over the check. Waking up from memory, I returned to the present. Looking around the place, I saw that so much had changed in my life — and yet some things have remained the same. I’m still in crazy insane Berkeley after all of these years. I can occasionally frequent the same places I went to in my 20s (sadly, Smart Alec closed a few years ago).

But the changes in my life have also been amazing — awesome. I have gone from left to right; and much more importantly, I have had God reveal Himself to me and shower me with the most enormous grace imaginable. I have become — who would have thunk it — a devout Christian. Now I try my best to put God front-and center and to live my life for Him.

Though I am much older and look nothing like my younger self, I wouldn’t trade today for all of those yesterdays. I had a lot back then: youth, health, good looks. But what I have now is infinitely greater than all of the riches of my past temporal life.

I have God in my life. . and that is bigger and better than any restaurant meal or anything else in this poignant, ever changing, ever fading life.

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We’re Having a Heat Wave

It is l00 degrees in Berkeley — and the day is still young. Yesterday, the highs were also in the triple digits.

We are melting, sweltering. . .and, in general, miserable. Not only is the air steamy, but it’s very unhealthy.

Northern California and Oregon have a bunch of nasty fires in process. Their smoke is drifting south. So our air is not just as hot as a steam room, but it is dirty and stagnant.

Now, you might feel little sympathy for us Bay Area dwellers. After all, your summers are likely much more difficult than ours. In Houston, of course, the residents are truly suffering with losing their homes, their possessions, and in some tragic cases, their lives.

So, yes, I know that people have it way worse than us. I appreciate that, I really do. But the difference between us and, say, the people in Florida or Colorado or pretty much everywhere, is that almost nothing around here is air conditioned.

No one has air conditioning at home. Few workplaces have AC– ditto for stores, restaurants, and the like. The party line is always, “We don’t need it here!”

Now that is a bold-faced lie, like so many other whoppers that people articulate in these parts. Yes, we do need air conditioning here! Every year, we have at least a few 90 and even l00 degree days, as well as plenty of 80-somethings. And anyway, as a shocked friend told me when she visited a few years ago and was horrified to find that not only was it 95 degrees out but there was no air conditioning, “Even if it’s only really hot a few days — it would make sense to still have air conditioning!”

I agree with my friend; of course, that is what is called common sense. But common sense and a sense of reality are rare around here. It is a truly bizarre thing to live in the most expensive area in the country and have truly hot and unhealthy days, and no avenue for relief at a local cafe.

What is interesting, though, is that many of the restaurants around here actually have air conditioning! But now is the time you really see how people can lie with impunity.

For instance, this morning, I met a friend for brunch. We were sweating and miserable in the super hot restaurant. Given that the place had no windows that open, I surmised that there must be air conditioning.

I asked the manager about it. She said yes they do and that it’s on. After an hour of boiling, I decided to scope around.

I wandered around the place to finally find the thermostat. Yes, indeed they had air conditioning! But it was not on and the temp was 88 degrees.

When I told the manager, she unapologetically went over and turned it on. But I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve had the same experience — they insist that the air is on (or that they don’t have air). I walk around and find it and point it out, and begrudgingly it gets turned on (sometimes, maybe).

The same thing for heat. Seriously — I am not kidding. It could be 40 degrees outside, rainy, windy. I walk into a restaurant and it is frigid. The diners have hats on, sometimes even gloves. When I speak to the waitstaff, they usually say that the heat is “broken.” The word, broken, is a euphemism for, “We don’t want to spend the money.”

While this may seem startling to you — restaurants that refuse to turn on air conditioning or even heat — it’s par for the course around here. It is third-world living, with the highest first-world prices around.

Bay Area residents are dragged down, down, down to the lowest common denominator, with no bags (except for a for-sale paper bag) to put a pretty new dress in; no air conditioning or heat, when not having so is uncomfortable, if not outright unhealthy.

Now the question that a lot of people are asking out here is why is it so so so hot? Most people believe it’s global warming because — well, it’s Berkeley, what would you expect? A few people might wonder about HARP, that government-run program to control the temperature in the world. For me, I just think it’s miserable.

Regardless of why, this horrendous heat makes me think about the Final Judgment. It makes me want to stand outside holding a big, bold sign. The sign would read, “If you think this day is hot, try an eternity in hell.” I would not do this, of course, because, for one, it’s too hot out there! And also, I’m not ready to die.

But really, who would do the things that people do — the blaspheming God, the mortal sins, and widespread rebellion — if they really thought that things could end very, very badly for them. And yet few people worry whether their actions in this life will have consequences when they die.

I would invite them instead to consider Pascal’s Wager. Pascal offered this challenge to atheists: Are you l00% sure that there isn’t a God? Most people would say that they couldn’t be for sure. In this case, Pascal wrote, it sure would be a better bet to assume that there is a God and to act accordingly.

I agree. I just wish that a hot-as-heck day like this one would remind people to think long and hard about heaven and hell. . and about where they want to end up. Because two things are certain: this heat wave will at some point end — but so will this life.

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On the Grid

Berkeley is one of the most stressful places to live. First off, you take your life in your hands driving along side the road-rageful. Then, if you actually make it intact to your destination, good luck finding a parking space.

Once out of the car, you’ll contend with con artists demanding money for a faux cause; transients begging for spare change; and street thugs eyeing your wallet. If you survive the day and end up in bed, expect to be blasted out of a deep sleep at 1 am and 3 am by the thunderous, blaring horns of freight trains.

So, given the steady assault of noise and creepy people, I spend a bit of time each day in fantasyland. Sometimes I imagine myself living in a sane place, with clean, well-paved streets and polite people. And I even wonder about what life would be like off the grid.

I imagine myself living on the land, 100 acres or so, in an incredibly quiet environment. There would be gentle animals like deer and birds, and the harmonious sounds of crickets.

When I travel to town, I’d meet up with nice and polite neighbors, and we all would make chitter- chatter about small town-like things. (I don’t know what that may be because I’ve never actually lived in a small town but I’m sure that it would all be very pleasant.)

So, the other day, when I encountered a newsletter about living off the grid, I was quite excited. The publication was written by people living in these quiet locales, far from the maddening crowd. They would take moments out from their relaxing day to blog about their thoughts. The newsletter even listed ads for places to live -— with some people selling acreage, and others leasing small plots of land on their property.

I started wondering: could my dream become a reality? Maybe I could afford to buy or rent one of these places! I thought with delight: I could live a peaceful and safe existence in the country!

And then reality hit me.

I thought: wait a minute, what in the world would I actually do all day? I recalled that a couple of weeks before, I was stuck home for a week with a bad virus. At first, too sick to notice time, the days sped by quickly. But by day five, I was starting to lose my mind.

Cabin fever hit me like a ton of bricks. By then, I had watched every DVD more than once, boring myself to tears. Desperate for something to do, I weeded out my files. I roamed around my place, reading whatever books my poor sickly body could absorb. Finally, I had had it.

Although I wasn’t quite ready, I took my ill bod to Target. There I walked around cheerfully, picking up sick-person supplies. When I got home, I was exhausted but relieved to have been out of the house.

So reality hit me, and I wondered: what in the world would I actually do in my happy, quiet, isolated little cocoon, off the grid? After I had cereal for breakfast and read a book, then what?

And, more scarily, I realized that I wouldn’t be anywhere near a Target — or a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. My being out in the boonies may force me to — horrors — cook! The very thought of this chilled me to my bones.

I also started wondering: do these places actually have running water — that is, safe and clean water? And what about electricity? Heat? And are there any — bugs!! Or snakes and spiders and other creepy crawly things?? UGH!

Suddenly, all of this reality totally burst my bubble. I realized that not only would I be stuck out in the woods, but that I don’t like the woods.

The truth is that I am not a country girl, but a city slicker. I like to drive 5 minutes for a hot meal or Chinese take out. When the girlie spirit moves me, I’m compelled to get a manicure or go to Macy’s for some new lipstick.

While Berkeley is still looking like a most unappealing place, I realize that fantasies can be deceiving. Yes, I’d like to make a move out of here sometime — God willing, since it’s all in His hands, and I am His faithful and compliant servant.

But one thing is for sure. Wherever that place may be, north, south, east, or west, it will be absolutely and decidedly on the grid.

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Live Where You Riot!

Yesterday was a tough day to be in Berkeley. There were just so many things to do.

For one, there was a big rally/riot underway in downtown Berkeley. That sounded enticing! For another, signs were plastered around town for a Psychic Fair.

Psychics or riots? Riots or psychics? What to do??? Overwhelmed by these formidable options, I chose what any self-respecting gal would do. I got my nails done.

A side note here: what is with the explosive growth of nail shops around here? I mean, on every commercial block, there are multiple salons, and more opening every day. And the shops are packed to the gills with ladies, and sometimes gentlemen. There’s a definite irony here about women in the most progressive, egalitarian area in the US having their footsies rubbed and toes painted by young Vietnamese girls literally on their knees.

But returning to my story:

Downtown Berkeley has been the scene of continual riots since 2008. Prior to that time, there wasn’t much going on there, unless you count the rampant muggings and other assaults by Berkeley/Oakland criminal types. Riots were occasional on Telegraph Avenue, but not downtown.

That all changed in the era of Obama, with the Occupations and all the rest. And the downtown has experienced a huge amount of violence and property damage since President Trump was elected. Last Sunday was no exception.

Strangely enough, just as all of this chaos is happening, at the same time, there’s an inundation of new housing being erected all over downtown. While development was highly controlled for decades, now the skies the limit, literally, with high-rise apartments and condos opening every which way.

This is why I thought of a clever new advertising campaign for the developers. How’s this: Live Where you Riot! And also this catchy campaign to promote the latest, trendy restaurants in downtown: Dine Where you Riot!

As memorable as such advertisements might be, they would never be successful. The reason is that almost no one around here actually participates in the riots.

Now, after watching the full-color wreckage on CNN, you may assume that Berkeley is a place inhabited by violent communists who riot with impunity. Actually, this is untrue. Berkeley is not inhabited by violent communists. It is, however, a place composed of people who support and approve of violent commies.

I mean, who in Berkeley would actually be doing the rioting? We’ve got thousands of college students, who are doing that studying-and-partying college student thing. Then we’ve got the brainy grad students, many from China and India, who are working hard to some day make a bundle.

There there are the Facebook and Twitter techies from LA, Chicago and NY who are engrossed with their phones and obsessed with planning their next vacation to Vietnam.

We’ve got the middle agers who are distracted by their horrendous commutes and beaten down by their rebellious teens. Finally, we have our old people. And they are. . .well — old.

So exactly who would be doing all of this rioting?

As I said before, these Berkeley or Virginia or wherever insurrections are bought and paid for. Just check out the various Craig’s List ads enlisting the unhinged and unemployed to pretend that they are revolutionaries. (What’s not fake, though, is that a lot of people are getting hurt.)

The widespread, unpredictable mayhem is designed to keep the masses frightened, furious, and fighting with each other. From what I can see, the masterminds are doing a stellar job.

And while all of this is happening to distract us, some truly horrific things are happening in this country: a legal election appears to be intentionally undermined, particularly by the media (how frightening is that?); there is widespread violence against innocent citizens; and a lot of previously sane people have lost their collective minds. It’s a terrible sight to witness, that is, the degradation and destruction of a once-proud nation.

And yet, not many people will see reality; they are too brainwashed and/or stubborn to take the time to educate themselves. A single weekend spent on the Internet would teach them everything that they need to know.

It’s just easier to believe whatever they hear on NPR or read in the Washington Post. And when all else fails: get one’s nails done.

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Resistance is Futile

As I was driving the other day, I saw this older dude slowly crossing the street. The man had a limp that slowed him down, and he was seriously overweight. I saw the man head over to his car, which had a bright, new bumper sticker affixed to it.

I usually don’t like to look at these stickers because they scream angry and extreme slogans at me. But in this case, I was curious. So I glanced over and saw the following, which made me laugh hysterically. It read, “I’m With the Resistance.”

What made me howl with laughter was, of course, the very idea that this elderly gent, who could barely get himself across the street, envisions himself to be a resistance warrior. I mean, what role would this octogenarian play in the revolution?? Handing out the beer??

But this man is not alone; he’s not the only citizen around here who sees himself as a leftist guerrilla.

Resist bumper stickers decorate many of the vehicles around here. Then there are the t-shirts and the agitated conversations all around town. Most of the people sporting the Resistance decals are older people, and way beyond the stage of being a “street fighting man” — if they ever were one. But I suppose that it makes the masses feel like they are doing something to fight back, given how desperate and apoplectic they all are.

While I laughed at the slow-moving dude with his bumper sticker, most of the Resistance movement is not funny at all. In fact, it is downright dangerous. Someone inflamed and unglued shot a Congressman and seriously wounded him. And many other people are getting beaten and bloodied throughout the nation.

As I’ve said before, none of this pandemonium is random. Those with too much money and power are pulling the puppet strings on the unknowing masses.

Partly, I feel sorry for the brainwashed multitudes, who are losing their minds in the era of Trump. However, it is also frustrating that, given the plethora of information on the Internet, more people can’t find their way to truth.

So here we have it in the USA, circa 2017, with people at each other’s throats, and violence and insurrection the new norm. It is a horrible scene for everyone, and I can only pray that people come to their senses before too long.

The deeper truth about all of this is: Resistance is Futile. I don’t mean resistance on an earthly level — to Trump or to the South or whatever.

I’m talking about the incredibly stubborn and pernicious resistance to Almighty God. People here, there, and everywhere have abandoned any belief in God. Instead, they rely on themselves and the government — and what a fiasco this has been.

We live in a world where rebellion is celebrated, and where “resistance” is cool and considered imperative. But all of this rebellion just leads to misery, suffering, and ultimately to death.

The path to freedom isn’t through the Democratic or the Republican Party or by screaming obscenities at another person. It isn’t through fighting and trying to control everything and everyone. Freedom and happiness and everything beautiful in the world happens through faith — in God and His ways, even when they are not our ways.

That is why resistance is futile, and submission to our all-merciful and loving God is the only avenue for peace. Want proof? Just look at how horrible things are in this world when people choose to rebel and go their own way.

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No News Is Good News

Recently, I was reading a book by a Christian pastor. He stated that he never watches the news or pays attention to popular culture. This is a philosophy that I embrace as well.

It has been a month or two since I checked out the news. And when I did so, it was just to glance at the headlines on Drudge. As for the mainstream media, I haven’t checked out the NY Times, the Washington Post, and the like in. . . . . hm. . I’d have to really think about how long; it’s probably been years. And I’m infinitely better in body, soul, and mind from my news blackout.

The pastor also said that if something is important enough, someone will tell him. This is also the case for me, especially here in Berkeley. People are always telling me stuff — people I know, acquaintances, and, in some cases, even random strangers. For instance, here have been some recent conversations.

I was standing on line, and I started making some small talk with the lady in back of me. I said, “I should know better than to shop here at lunchtime. It’s always so crowded.” She looked at me, bewildered; this isn’t a rare reaction, though, since folks are often dumbfounded when someone actually talks to them.

After a moment of pausing and thinking she said, “Sorry that I seem so out of it. I just heard on the news about the attack in Barcelona and I’m really upset.” Now, of course, I didn’t know a thing about it and wasn’t sure what she was talking about. Since we have street signs that reference state and national places, I wasn’t sure if it were an attack on some street around here.

So I asked her, “Where was the attack?” Looking at me as though I’m an idiot (which also happens a lot), she answered that it was in Barcelona, Spain. I added my usual, “Oh, I don’t pay attention to the news so I never know what’s going on.” She again regarded me with shock and then dismay. That was the end of our random chitter chatter since to be news-ignorant around here is more of a crime than breaking and entering.

Then there was another conversation I had this week with an acquaintance. I said, perkily, “Hi, Arthur! How are you doing?” He responded, “Not well. I’ve been watching CNN and MSNBC and I am really disgusted about these (bad words) people in Virginia and our (bad word) President and the horrible people on the right.” To which I said, “Maybe you shouldn’t watch all that stuff. How does it help to get all agitated and upset?” Again, this wasn’t what he wanted to hear, and he sped off, probably to catch Rachel Maddow on MSBN or Van Jones on CNN (I mean, seriously, wasn’t this dude kicked out of the White House for being an anti-American communist supporter and now he’s on the news? And people actually spend their precious time on earth watching these people?)

My media blackout isn’t because I don’t care about this country. It’s not because I’ve signed up for the “Know Nothing Party.” It’s because, at this point, I could be the President of the “Know-too-Much Party.”

I know that the news that is being fed to the brainwashed masses is designed to agitate and divide. It’s all orchestrated and planned in advance by the puppet masters. I mean, do you really think that these spontaneous uprisings about statues are really spontaneous?

And do you really believe that southerners are horrible, bad guys who can’t let go of their racism? The southerners are just easy targets, as they have been since the Civil War, for instance, by the elite ridiculing their accents and insulting their intelligence. And since so many southerners voted for Trump, it’s just another way of tarnishing all of his supporters as stupid racists.

In my mind, no news is good news. The “news” out there is just Hollywood-produced propaganda to hide the real news — that this country is obscenely in debt; that crime is escalating all over the liberal cities, such as mine; and that, at least in Berkeley and the environs, there are potholes so large that you can build a small city in them. But no one seems to care about the real problems going on.

It’s all orchestrated by a very small number of people who are running off with our money, e.g. the so-called Federal Reserve, which isn’t federal at all, but a private bank making a killing at taxpayer expense. And there are a whole lot of people with money and power who simply hate this country and want to destroy it. Thus, they act shamelessly and with impunity to cause antagonism and division.

And, sadly, the NPR-loving/NY Times addicted masses are letting them get away with it.

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“Christ Comes to Berkeley!”

It finally happened, I thought! The Daily Cal newspaper banner headline blared out the words that I’ve been craving: “Christ Comes to Berkeley!” (And we all know that newspapers don’t lie!)

I raced over to the newspaper box to take a closer look. “I must be mistaken,” I thought. . it’s probably Crist or Christo or something like that.” But, no, right there in black and white was the message that I’ve been longing to see, that indeed, Christ was coming to Berkeley!

But, alas, my hopes were soon dashed; I learned that though “Christ” was actually coming to Berkeley, it wasn’t through the Savior of the World. Instead, Carol Christ, a former professor here and the President, I believe, of Smith College was moving west to become the Chancellor at UC Berkeley.

Of course, it would have been a true blue miracle for anything Christ-like to be happening in Berkeley. This area is the belly of the beast, the netherworld, as close to hell on earth as it gets. (And that’s putting it mildly.)

Widespread filth, depravity, crime, riots, people packed in tightly everywhere like sardines. And yet the multitudes from all over the world are desperate to move here — another sign of widespread madness.

Believe it or not, at one point, this area was a fairly normal one. Many decades ago, before the 60s for sure, Berkeley was a quiet and bucolic place, where students could walk around safe streets and residents could find a decent house at a reasonable cost. But even in the 50s, there was indication that at some point, Berkeley would become a snake pit.

I think that much of it has to do with the Frankfurt School, that group of Jewish intellectuals in Frankfurt, Germany. They were socialists with an ingenious idea: Don’t foment social revolution through agitating the working class to riot (something that generally won’t work — since the working class are too busy actually working; and anyway the worker bees are striving to get wealthy, not destroy the wealth of a nation.)

So instead, subtly but tenaciously, the radicals plotted to destroy the ethics of the West so thoroughly that, according to one Frankfurt School member, “it stinks.” Do so through sex education; attacks on the family, especially men and the father; promoting homosexuality; cajoling women to work; and pushing all kinds of perversity, such as pornography. And before too long — viola! As we now see, the once-proud culture of the United States lies in tattered ruins.

Now when Hitler took hold of power, he threw the Frankfurt School members out of the country because they were communists. And where did they go? To the United States, many to UC Berkeley! (Yay us!)

Through socialist-loving connections within the US, the Frankfurts were able to obtain tenured professorships and research positions at Berkeley, as well as other hallowed institutions, such as Columbia University. Once there, the profs continued their notorious work of dragging down the entire culture.

At UC Berkeley, one project was publishing influential research about the so-called “authoritarian personality.” The authors theorized that people who are conservative and Christian have defective character structures that lead to fascism and other very bad things. The book that was published, The Authoritarian Personality, created a stir in the academic world and beyond. . leading many in society to start viewing conservative, faith-based people as dangerous. (The School utilized early Saul Alinsky-type techniques, such as ridiculing, marginalizing, and ostracizing opponents).

Berkeley, SF, and Oakland were also chosen by the puppet masters to be ground zero in the new 60s war against all morality and authority. So before too long, what once was a peaceful university town started to become the dangerous and demonic hellhole that it is today (again, I’m putting it mildly).

While the Daily Cal headline mischievously blasted out its message that Christ was coming here, the opposite is true. Many churches have shut their doors or morphed into something else (one church is now a New Age-type counseling center). One of the Catholic Churches in Berkeley has been defaced and desecrated multiple times.

Simply look at the deadened or possessed faces around here, and it’s clear that Christ isn’t the Man in charge; but instead, a very dark spirit engulfs most of the populace.

But there is always hope. If a pagan, progressive, feminist, vegetarian type like me could do a total l80 in a few short years, anything is possible. If I could fall intensely and perpetually in love with the true blue Savior of the World, there are still signs of life in this country. Even in Berkeley.

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Summer of Lies

I have a friend who is an expert on mind control. She’s taught me a lot about how people can be controlled like puppets on a string.

For instance, my friend believes that many of the pop stars who go bad — the Mileys and Britneys of the world — are brainwashed tools of their “handlers.” The young singers make bucketfuls of cash for their masters, while being programmed to do the most degrading of acts.

And when if there is a breakdown in the mind control — a young star, for instance, starts speaking independently and not parroting the party line — the media reports that she is now in “rehab.” But those hospitalizations are not always for rehab; they actually may be a way to foist re-programming on the rebellious moneymakers.

I don’t know if my friend is correct. But I do think that her premise is compelling. Given that the populace has been subject to mind control through politics and advertising, it makes sense that we can be hypnotized and re-hypnotized at will.

I thought of my friend’s theory of mind control while beholding two events happening this summer in the Bay Area. They both celebrate “wonderful” anniversaries. The first one is the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers. Huge, bold-face words, “Power is Still with the People,” emblazon city buses. The signs advertise a big museum exhibit at the Oakland Museum.

Even more heavily promoted is the anniversary of 50 years of the supposed Summer of Love. A huge, well-financed museum exhibit is being held at San Francisco’s DeYoung Museum, with a glossy magazine of the event being widely circulated. I came upon the magazine the other day, and the colorful pictures depict a purportedly luminous time in Bay Area history.

Of course, the good old days depicted on the buses and in the galleries didn’t exactly happen that way.

I can think of few phenomenons more artificially manufactured and reconstructed then the SF Bay Area’s glorious past. People who were living here during the 60s paint a vastly different picture: of dirty hippie boys and girls running away from home and living dangerous, drug-plagued lives in the various parks. Heroin was popular. Parents couldn’t let their children play in the parks for fear of stepping on a needle.

The Black Panthers weren’t the heros of Berkeley’s fantasy world. Many, if not most, were thugs and criminals who held Oakland and Berkeley brutally hostage. Women were raped — men too. Former Panther Eldridge Cleaver waxed rhapsodic in his seminal book, Soul on Ice, of raping the white woman to punish the white man. (1)

According to David Horowitz, Huey P. Newton was so sick and twisted that his rape of a man led to the victim’s hospitalization. Also according to Horowitz, people were murdered, even those within the Panther’s inner circle. And, yet, our youth learn to idolize these hoodlums from their programmed teachers and via museum exhibits.

The Summer of Love hype is just as illusionary as the Panthers. The truth: many young people destroyed their brains with drugs, as well as their innocence from promiscuity. Again, girls were raped or callously used for their bodies.

Even more tragically, the Summer of Love fostered drug experimentation and promiscuity as the new normal. The damage to young bodies and minds these last few decades has been incalculable. Rather then host community celebrations for the Summer of Love, we should hold memorial services, weeping for the damage done to sensitive souls.

When I witness the absurd and never ending lies of these 50th year anniversaries, it makes me think of my friend and her research on mind control. I wonder: is there a deeper reason for all of these celebrations?

Perhaps. Berkeley, Oakland, and beyond have become filthy, crime-infested, grid locked, unaffordable, and unlivable places. And yet, young techies keep pouring in to live here — as well as more and more runaways and other alienated youth. The numbers of white kids camping on the streets looking zombie-like have exploded in number just this past year.

So perhaps the puppeteers have cooked up a brilliant plan: convince the willing pawns of Berkeley and Oakland that they are lucky to live in this awful place. Do this by celebrating 50th anniversaries, thereby encouraging residents to look fondly backwards rather than see the never ending dangers in the present. And, like the Pied Piper, attract even more young and impressionable people to flock here as well.

It’s a win/win for the masterminds: they continue to have a large populace under their thumb who will endure riots and violence to have the privilege of living in this celebrated land. And if there is a crack in the brainwashing, the residents, like Miley, will be subject to collective re-programming.

Consequently, the folks around here will ignore all of the evidence about the truth of Berkeley even when it is staring them right in the face. Instead, they look longingly and proudly back in time at a Summer of Love that never actually happened.


1. Eldridge Cleaver had a conversion experience while living in some horrendous communist countries in Africa after going underground. He became a born-again Christian and returned to face the law in the US. He recanted all of his past beliefs about communism and violence, and became a Christian minister. He writes his story of his newfound patriotism and of God’s mercy in the book, Soul on Fire — one that, sadly but not surprisingly, sold almost no copies compared to his mega best-seller, Soul on Ice.

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The Dirt on Berkeley

It can be so embarrassing when people visit this area. There is always an element of horror in what they see.

So when a friend came here for the first time, she grimaced, her face eminating pure disgust. She said, “This area is so dirty.” And then she looked at me with that pained expression I know so well, as in, “How in the world do you live here?”

Another interesting phenomenon is when folks from here travel to another part of the country or the world. They generally come back filled with surprise and delight by what they behold. As an acquaintance said to me just the other day, entranced, “I went to visit Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I couldn’t believe how nice the area was — and clean.”

Now you would think that we were living in the old Soviet Union by how shocked and mesmerized the masses are when they happen upon a clean, safe place. It must be like how those poor suffering Soviets felt if they were lucky enough to escape their environs. But I’m guessing that the Soviet streets were probably a whole lot cleaner than the ones around here.

Which reminds me of something I also heard not that long ago, something supremely ironic. A friend went on vacation with her family to Russia. Upon returning home, she told me, “It was the nicest and cleanest city I have ever visited.” Given that these folks are wealthy, world travelers, that is saying a lot.

You may be asking yourselves: how dirty is this area, Berkeley and beyond? More than you can even imagine, more than in your worst nightmares — and getting worse every day. People are living on the streets almost everywhere, and that involves doing number one and number two on the streets, as well as dressing and undressing here, there, and everywhere. It’s commonplace to see people eating out of garbage cans, sleeping in boxes, sitting on street corners begging, and nonchalantly dropping their trash wherever they want to.

The freeways are a total gross-out mess. Overpasses, underpasses, every-kind-of-pass — overflowing with every kind of trash known to mankind. Down by the railroad on Gilman Streets and Cedar: soiled mattresses, ripped furniture, everything that you can possibly imagine strewn the sidewalks and streets with a disgusting mountain of garbage. The whole area has become one big, exorbitantly priced trash dump.

Now it’s been dirty here for years. But I’ve seen a dramatic worsening of conditions in the last few years. But what is even more surprising is that the trash has spread to the once tony suburbs.

Drive over the bridge to astonishingly wealthy Marin county and view the rubbish; Marin used to be about as pristine as it gets. And yet here again, you will see trash despoiling the area. Beggars line the streets, as illegal immigrants hold up signs in Mill Valley.

Ditto to the once lovely suburb of Pleasant Hill, even Walnut Creek. Those used to be lovely, clean suburban destinations; now vagrants beg for money, while the streets are dotted with filth.

Now the weird thing about it is no one seems to care. No one talks about it; it’s just the new normal. The exception to the silence is when people leave and return; the reaction upon returning is almost always the same.

“I went to Toronto to see friends,” I heard yet another resident say this week, spellbound. With starry eyes, he exclaimed, “It was so nice there. And I couldn’t believe how clean it was.”

It’s no wonder that they are captivated by the rare and heavenly sight of filth-free, sanitary streets. As the old saying goes, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

But, sadly, in Berkeley et al., the opposite is the case. . The Evil One has masterminded the decadence, depravity, and squalor viewed all around us. This is no surprise at all because it is the Enemy, not God, running things in this sad and grungy place.

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Hidden in Plain Sight

When I was in college, I took a lot of sociology classes. One course that really stayed with me was an analysis of advertising.

In it, we scrutinized ads for their hidden, subliminal messages. Some of the messages were obvious, like the infamous child porn-type ad featuring Brooke Shields, who provocatively told us that nothing gets between her and her Calvins. But many of the advertisements were subtle, though some obvious themes emerged: sex, lots of it, and violence.

Of course, we live in an era where Brooke’s ad wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow. The advertisements now are so out there, so extreme, and shocking, that after a while, they all fail to shock. For instance, just look at the names of and ads for movies the last few years: Meet the Fockers; Dinner for Schmucks, and a new one, Get Hard. And then there are the “wholesome” flicks for the kiddies, with names like Jack Ass, and Kick Ass. And on and on it goes, ad nauseam.

And, just like in the old days, there are a plethora of covert advertisements and magazine covers, designed to program the naive population. One agenda item is making homosexuality cool; heterosexuality, boring. A few years ago, I saw a cover article in a popular magazine, maybe People. It showcased some young male cutie, with the headline, “Another Reason to Love ___________ — He’s Gay.” I saw a similar type one about another young male, something like, “He’s So Cool — Of course, He’s Gay.” To the gullible populace, they now have the words, “love” and “cool” associated with gays, but certainly not the more bland straights. (even the names alone — gay! happy and fun! — versus straights — boring).

Next, look around the children’s department at your local department stores, for instance, JC Penney’s or Target. Notice how the ads depict young girls entangled together, with arms around each other in ways that are unnatural for girls. In one, for instance, a teen girl has her arm around the other’s shoulder and dangling a tad too close to the other’s chest. At Macy’s, I saw a life-size ad of two hairless boy teens, with one looking like he had his hand in the other’s front pants pocket.

Another agenda item: notice how many of the ads are designed to send a subtle message of racial aggression. At a Target shoe department, there was a huge poster depicting a little black girl, looking angry and making an aggressive kick, with the message, Boot Camp. Then there was a magazine ad for Dove, with a euphoric black woman with a large fro, wearing a white towel around her. She is making a fist up in the air. She looks like a prizefighter who just won a fight. The slogan was: Fight Won.

And then there was the ad I saw in a Parents’ magazine, depicting a little black boy staring at the camera, with a furious, menacing look, also kicking his foot at the audience, with the slogan, “Crazy 8s.” He looks like he’s just about to beat another child up — or just did.

The social engineers have set their sights on newer, and even more taboo, areas. The word on the street is that the next socially unacceptable topics to become mainstream will be: pedophilia and bestiality. Judging from what I can see in advertisements, the social engineers are right on schedule.

Take a moment and look at the ads that you see at Target, or JC Penney’s, or Sears. If you get a chance, peruse a Parents magazine, or even a Land’s End catalogue. Scrutinize them for themes, and see what you come up with. For instance, at Target’s kid’s department, there was a huge poster of a blonde girl, about 9, with her legs wide open. I imagine if your young miss sat like, you wouldn’t take out the camera; you’d beseech her to close her legs.

Start noticing the ads that have an animal theme. There was one that made the rounds via YouTube. It showed a military woman who just came home, and she greeted her affectionate dog by lying on the ground with him, euphorically straddling him with her legs open. That ad — and many others — communicate the message that it may soon be socially acceptable to have a pet as more than one’s best friend.

And so it goes, for decades now, certainly since the 60s and maybe longer. The tragedy is not just that there are people in influential places who wish to crush all sense of morality and decency. The tragedy is that so many people refuse to see any of this.

If I took the time to show people the ads, they’d protest, “You’re being hypersensitive! Paranoid! It’s just a harmless ad!” But given that over the decades, the sordid ads have helped cause widespread degradation, the naysayers’ arguments aren’t the least bit convincing.

All of this manipulative advertising and social engineering are hidden in plain sight. And for much of the populace, it’s business as usual: hear no evil, see no evil. That’s even when the evil is infecting them (and their children) at their local Target.

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My Imaginary Happy World

I went to a specialist office the other day. It was a typical experience around here.

The people who worked there were annoyed, edgy. When I tried to make small talk, the receptionist responded in monosyllables. I tried to be friendly, perky, doing the whole Manifest My Light bit that I try to reach for. But the dulled and unhappy looking office staff would have none of it.

This is pretty typical for the world in and around Berkeley. It’s hard to receive a smile back when you send one; people are continually walking under a “dark cloud of doom and gloom,” as a visiting friend once put it. It’s no wonder: as you probably gathered from my previous posts, the stress around here is horrific. Believe me, I have to stretch myself plenty to summon a smile or a friendly hello.

But today, the unfriendliness really got to me. Maybe it’s because an acquaintance told me about visiting the Midwest recently and what a drastic difference it was from life in these parts. She was a bit overwhelmed by the smiles and the greetings; she even admitted to being a bit rusty about how to make small talk with all of the chatty people in restaurants or even on the streets.

So rather than sit and stew about my life in Berkeley, I ended up doing something different. In my mind, I had an imaginary conversation. It was with an imaginary receptionist in an imaginary doctor’s office in an imaginary city and town. Here’s how the happy dialogue went:

Perky Receptionist: Good Morning. It’s nice to see you again.

Me: Well, you too, Claudia!

PR: Are you here to see Dr. Jones?

M: Yes, I am!

PR: He’s running on time and will see you shortly.

M: That’s great!

PR: How was your Easter? Did you do anything special?

M: Well, yes, I enjoyed a lovely service at so-and-so church.

PR: Oh, my cousin goes there. Do you know her: Becky Smith?

M: Yes, I do, since people are so friendly there as well! [in my imaginary church]

Other Perky Receptionist Chiming In: My next door neighbor goes there too. She loves it. I was thinking about going myself.

M: Well, please do. It would be great to see you there.

At this moment, an imaginary medical assistant appears. She happily greets me, “The doctor will see you now!”

I go in and get weighed, etc., as the assistant chirpily tells me about her upcoming plans for the weekend. “And what will you be doing?” she asks, as she listens to the rhythm of my blood pressure.

A few minutes later, my specialist arrives, also a model of good cheer. He makes plenty of small talk as he asks about symptoms, and responds with great empathy, “Well, I’m sorry to hear that, but I’ll do my best to help!”

As I make my way out of the office, I say goodbye to all of my new, imaginary friends. They all bid me farewell with smiles and waves and I merrily wave back. But suddenly, I’m startled out of my calm and peaceful state by the real medical assistant, who barks out my name and tells me to follow her. Sadly, I’m reminded again that my pretend world of courtesy, friendliness, and good cheer is all a daydream.

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The Pain of Racism

I was recently on the receiving end of some racially tinged hostility. I ran over to help a person who had put herself in danger. Rather than thanking me, she said something horribly mean and racist.

I’d like to think that this was an isolated incident; but sadly, it is not. It’s more the rule than the exception, particularly these last long years of Obama. He sent out signals from the get-go that white people were the cause of everything bad in the world (as David Horowitz dubbed the practice, “Hating Whitey.”) Obama has said that the gloves should be removed. From what I have seen, they sure have, verbally and physically.

I was reading a popular online forum around here called, Berkeley Parents Network. People post anonymously about their experiences with doctors, the school system, and the like. You should read some of the postings on violence at Berkeley High School (BHS), as well as the middle or even elementary schools. There are pages of horrendous incidents towards their children. Here are a couple of them:

We get a report from our teen at BHS about blatant robberies at the bus stop at Games of Berkeley on Shattuck nearly every other day. For now, there is a group of boys targeting white male freshman. . . OUR CHILD FEELS HELPLESS TO HELP HER FRIENDS THAT ARE BEING ACCOSTED! NO CHILD SHOULD FEEL THAT THEY CANNOT BE ON A BERKELEY STREET WITHOUT FEELING SAFE AT ANY TIME OR HAVING THE ABILITY TO GET HELP FROM OUR COMMUNITY SERVICE PEOPLE OR DOWNTOWN MERCHANTS, INCLUDING GOING TO AND FROM SCHOOL. Please help by reporting incidents like these so we can stop the escalation of crime on youth by other youth.

Or this one:

My son, then a senior at BHS was mugged by four males in the stairway at lunch in Bldg. C. At first he was not going to report it, but after immediately speaking to his 4th period teacher, he did. The then principal sort of blew it off. I went in the next morning and was appalled at the ”political correctness” of not following up.

Now again, you might think that these are isolated incidents; but they are not. And the level of hostility and an open season of violence have increased significantly since 2008. Prior to that time, there was at least some semblance of civility, a superficial attempt for everyone to get along, despite how people may feel deep inside. But that pretense no longer exists, given all the racial hatred that has been whipped up the last few years.

It is angering and humiliating to be on the receiving end of someone’s racism. But it’s something else too: heartbreaking. When that woman whom I tried to help treated me utter hatred, it was painful. Tragic. She did not regard me as a human being; to her, I was an evil other. And, from this culture, she’s gotten the message that her viciousness was acceptable.

It’s a scary situation, especially for those of us living around here. But what’s particularly alarming is that no one will talk about it. In fact, hostile behavior, even crime, is excused and rationalized.

Why, I ask myself all the time? Is it extreme denial, an unwillingness to let go of the dream, even while their own children become casualties? Is it codependency? Masochism? Is it the Stockholm Syndrome, where people, through brainwashing, learn to love and exonerate their attackers? And also: why would anyone in his right mind (and with financial resources) send his children to any of the public schools around here?

I don’t know. . I’ve spent years trying to make sense out of things that don’t make sense. And when things are so illogical, and when this head-in-the-sand attitude leads to horrific violence and social disorder, we know it’s being engineered by the Evil One, who is stirring the pot of all the malicious happenings around here. And he is in the driver’s seat when someone treats another person horribly simply because of that person’s race.

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Alexander and Me

I had lunch with a friend the other day. Our conversation sounded like an old Seinfeld episode, although it actually happened.

Friend: I’m really psyched. My husband got us tickets to Hamilton for my birthday.

Me: To what?

Friend: Hamilton . You know, the hit Broadway play that’s on stage in San Francisco.

Me: Do you mean Hamlet?

Friend: (rolling her eyes) Seriously? You haven’t heard of Hamilton?

Me: Well, no, I haven’t.

Friend: Don’t you know anything going on?

Me: No, I really don’t.

Friend: (more eye rolling) Well, everyone else on the planet has heard of Hamilton. It is a super hot ticket and very costly.

Me: What’s it about?

Friend: (with utter condescension) What is it about? It’s about Hamilton!

Me: You mean, George? Why would anyone make a play about George Hamilton??

Friend: You are pathetic! It’s about Alexander Hamilton!!

Me: (starting to laugh hysterically) You are kidding me, right? The hottest play on Broadway is about Alexander Hamilton?

Friend: (defensively) It’s supposed to be amazing! Everyone else in SF wants to see it except for you!

Me: Why would anyone want to see a play about one of our least popular presidents?

Friend: (getting seriously annoyed) He wasn’t President!!!!!!! He was an immigrant so he couldn’t become President! Don’t you know anything about American history?

Me: What country did he emigrate from?

Friend: I don’t know! I haven’t seen the play yet!

Me: Wasn’t he the federalist that set the stage for our huge, bloated government and a corrupt national bank, the Federal Reserve?

Friend: You are a total conspiracy nut! Hamilton was an illegitimate child, an immigrant, but he became an important figure in American politics!

Me: Well, what did he exactly do?

Friend: (irritated) I told you; I haven’t seen the play yet!

Me: Is it a musical? (more uproarious laughter on my part as my friend shakes her head “yes”) So you’re paying a fortune to see a musical about Alexander Hamilton because he was an illegitimate child who came from somewhere beyond?

Friend: Obviously you don’t know about the controversy right after Trump was elected and how the cast came out and lectured Pence.

Me: What did they lecture Pence about?

Friend: It was about immigrant issues and belonging and how Hamilton didn’t belong but he became a part of the American dream!

Me: But wasn’t that rude, that the cast embarrassed the new Vice President of the United States by lecturing him?

Friend: I don’t think it was rude; he deserved it!

Me: What did he deserve it for? He hadn’t been in office long enough to do anything!

Friend: (severely annoyed) But the cast knew that he was going to do something horrible soon so they told him what they thought.

Me: It still feels really disrespectful that they did this. They wouldn’t have disrespected Obama or Biden that way.

Friend: Well, Obama and Biden weren’t going to do something horrible!

Me: OK, so you’re going to pay a fortune to see a musical on your birthday about Alexander Hamilton, with Alexander singing and dancing — about what?

 Big government and a national bank that robs us of our money??

Friend: You are impossible. I’m never telling you anything I’m doing ever again.

Me: Just let me know when they make a musical about George Hamilton. At least the lead actor would be good-looking.

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The Last Straw

The problems around Berkeley intensify every day. We have an egregious amount of crime; the roads are filthy; and new tent cities emerge. With horrendous traffic, road rage is at an all-time high as enraged drivers take their frustrations out on each other.

So what is Berkeley doing about the unsafe and uncivil living conditions? Are they working on solutions to make the heavily pot-holed streets safe and clean?


Instead, Berkeley officials are continuing to tackle the problems of the world. Sanctuary cities, proclamations against Washington, fervent pleas to protect illegals consume the politicos’ time. And then there this new hare brained scheme: ban straws from being sold in Berkeley.

Now I’m not sure what a straw ever did to attack and rob a lawful citizen, like the criminals around here do. And the needle-infested Peoples Park has injured more than a few people. I don’t understand what a lowly little straw has done to attract such negativity.

The straw ban follows a successful tax on soda products sold in Berkeley. Although most of the consumers of junk food are lower income people, somehow taxing Coke seems like a giant step for social justice.

But then again, this is Berkeley. This is the capital of the far Left, and when you look at the culture closely, you see that it’s not about care and concern — but about social control, nanny behavior, as in, “We know more about everything (whether straws, 7-up, immigration, or who- knows-what) than you do.”

Not surprisingly, the progressives are apoplectic about the election. They can’t control President Trump. They had a lot of power before, even with the Republicans, and cajoled them to push expensive and unneeded new taxes and policies. But when it comes to Trump: they are out of their league.

So they are reverting to Plan B: revolt, riots, revolution. If they can’t win at the polls, they will whip up fury from east to west, and pay anti-social types to attack and pillage. Playing nice, admitting defeat, and trying to get along just aren’t traits of the Left.

And in Berkeley, rather than get to work on the real problems that plague residents, politicians tax food products or ban plastic items, in this case, the simple, but very useful, straw. And given the complacency of the residents, I imagine that their efforts will be successful.

* *

Berkeley is not just a stressful place to live — it’s a sorrowful one. It’s a place where you see the inevitable consequences of communistic policies, “free love,” and all other kinds of rebellions against the natural order of things.

When you look around at the faces, most of them appear deadened. After feeling pummeled by life here, and giving up so many of the joys they could have had elsewhere, there is a hardness to people.

Here’s an example from just this week. I had gone to a dental appointment and I was leaving the building after the exam was over. A woman around 60 was coming out of another medical professional’s office. She was on crutches and was struggling to open the front door to exit.

I dashed over and said, brightly, “Can I get the door for you?” In the nastiest and loudest voice, she barked, “If I wanted help with the door, I would have asked.” I felt as though I had been slapped across the face; tears filled my eyes.

But rather than take this insult personally, in that moment, I did something else: I felt the sorrow and the pain that is Berkeley. It is a place where you put your life at risk — physically, emotionally — by offering another person simple kindness. It is an area where kindness is so rare that it evokes fear or rage.

But what is the effect of living in a place where it is dangerous to be kind. . and where a friendly comment or smile is viewed as a threat? What does that do to people’s souls?

Although I’ve had to deal with hostility like the above more times than I can count, I have not given up on simple kindness. My heart has not shrunk to a pea size; I would never yell at a random stranger offering me a hand when I obviously need one. In fact, when someone opens a door for me, especially a man, I go out of my way to offer praise and thanks.

To remain a decent person around here is an amazing feat. The fact that I can still smile at people and that I haven’t given up on kindness is a miracle — and it’s strictly God’s miracle, not my own. Because it takes God’s love and mercy to be able to offer a modicum of warmth to others in such a cold and dark place.

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In Berkeley, Do Black Lives Matter?

When I shop around town, I like to talk to average people. I may chat with someone in line at a bank or with a worker in a store.

The other day, I had a long conversation with two young, black security guards who were working in a big box store. What they said has disturbed me ever since.

They were telling me how hard it is for them to find jobs with long-term prospects. One said, “I want a job where I can stay and retire. I don’t always want to work as a security guard.”

Both these young men have looked high and low for jobs: in the government, in public transportation, at the phone company. Clearly motivated and humble men, no job appeared to be beneath them, and being a bus driver with a nice pension someday would suit them just fine.

Although they have searched all over the place, neither have gotten any bites. And then one of the men said the thing that struck my heartstrings. He said, “Everything around here is tech. But not everyone can work in tech.”

It broke my heart to hear him say this. Still in his 20s, he had already become discouraged about his long-term prospects. But what saddened me was more than this. It was how displaced and marginalized he feels because he doesn’t have the education and training to get one of the coveted (and common) high tech jobs.

With all the wealthy tech companies moving in to SF, Berkeley, and Oakland, there have been a deluge of young techies arriving here from NY, LA, and India. They’re given large sign-in bonuses and six figure salaries. Sometimes they are even moved into expensive apartments that cost 50 times what they should.

So where does this leave the security guards that I spoke with — how do they move out of their relatives’ houses on minimum wage salaries when crummy studios are 3 grand? How do they find a decent job and, even more than that, a feeling of self-worth and hope?

But it’s not just the tech boom that leaves men like this out in the cold. It’s the avalanche of Spanish-speaking immigrants, some legally here, but many not. Most of the jobs that don’t require college are going to them, not to black, legal citizens. And since there is a huge population of Latinos in California, jobs are now requiring Spanish-speaking skills, which most blacks don’t have.

Which brings us to the question: In places like Berkeley and Oakland, do black lives matter? Sure the lefties will demand that blacks receive as much entitlements as possible. . that they get welfare, free health care, and food stamps. But what about decent jobs for the many African-Americans who want to work, to buy houses, and to raise families?

Nothing much offered here. While the residents (literally) put up signs announcing that all immigrants are welcome, there are no welcome signs for black people. The opposite is true. How can this area be welcoming when the policies of the left hurt, not help, the average black person . .. and no one seems to notice or care?

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You’ve Got to be Cruel to be Kind

There’s been a definite ramping up of aggressive behavior and thinking of late. Drivers in huge SUVS and trucks drive an inch away from small Honda Civics. People have this paranoid, what-you-looking-at glare if you dare to smile and be friendly. Riots occur frequently, and most residents are a-okay with Trump supporters being injured.

Hostility among people had escalated the last 9 years or so. But it’s out-of-control since Trump was elected.

The masses are angry — of what happened, of what they think might happen, of every little thing that you can imagine. They expected Hillary — so the outrage is constant and palpable.

What surprises me more than the above is that people still want to move here. In fact, rents and real estate prices are in the stratosphere. Why in the world would anyone want to move to such a congested, angry, filthy, crime-ridden place?

Of course, the Berkeley hype exposes none of this. Even though the whole mythology about Berkeley is a big, fat lie, still people keep pouring into this area. Even if they have to live in a tenement with roaches, rats, and a slumlord landlord, still newcomers keep coming and coming.

Frequent muggings, sexual assaults, shootings on the freeway, a take-over assault on a BART train — no matter what. There is nothing that will stop people from flocking here.

Which makes me wonder: why would anyone want to move here and put up with this abuse? And why do the multitudes still stay here? And why do most people become hard-core themselves after they live here for any length of time — and then contribute to the nasty vibe?

The reasons are long and complex, and speak to decades of brainwashing. It’s a lethal, witch’s brew that turns previously nice folks into irate, violence-advocating radicals. Here are some of the essential ingredients to destroy most people’s civility:

1. Create an endless environment of frustration — horrendous traffic, road rage, no parking, impossible housing and working conditions — so that people turn on each other.

2. Supply the masses with a steady drumbeat of radical teachings, books, classroom curriculum, media, and the like. . so that in time, people come to believe that the aggressive conditions and violence are normal.

3. Hold frequent riots and protests and widespread (un)civil disobedience so that people regard rioting as perfectly understandable. (1)

4. Desensitize the masses with pressure to have promiscuous sex (leading to date rape, abortions, STDs, S & M, etc.), as well as offer copious drugs and booze. Add to this the newest trend of tattoos all over the body, even for females, who have a lower pain threshold than men. Thus, everyone starts believing that pain is natural — and a real good thing.

5. Importantly, don’t tell anyone any of the above. . and make sure that there are no real grown ups around here to spill the beans or to offer any protection.

Viola, you have the anarchy that is Berkeley/Oakland/SF/Emeryville/Richmond/El Cerrito, etc. etc. In these parts, kindness and love are as absent as a decent quality of life. Sadly, most people, after a while, embrace the aggression and become angry meanies as well.

To survive around here, you have to be cruel to be kind.

You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind, means that I love you baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You gotta be cruel to be kind

–Nick Lowe, You Have to be Cruel to be Kind


1. The delusion that violence is normal has infested other parts of this country and not just the SF Bay Area. I read a study recently that was done in LA, where residents were asked if they expect riots again soon. Most said yes. One resident even stated that riots will be understandable because of “income inequality .. ” again showing how Americans have been brainwashed to think that people have a right to riot if they don’t have as much money or goodies as they think that they deserve.

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The New Great Depression

Walking around Berkeley, I see the saddest sights — as well as the most disturbing. One of them was just this week.

I was walking down a main street, College Avenue, and there was a blonde, lanky, good looking young man walking in the other direction. He had the most agonized expression on his face.

I didn’t smell any aroma on him — not marijuana or body odor. He looked like just a regular guy, but his face appeared haunted. He seemed to be crying, but with no tears — just a distraught and tortured expression.

Although I don’t know, my guess is that he was from somewhere else and came here looking for something. Maybe from a middle-class family in a sane town, but felt bored and was lured out here by the promise of the so-called California dream. Now he’s stuck in a nightmare that he can’t awake from.

I’m seeing more and more of these walking wounded around town. New homeless encampments are springing up all over the place — and it’s not just around Berkeley. Downtown LA has four blocks of encampments. And there are tent cities in Santa Cruz, parts of Oregon, and even tony Santa Barbara.

But the new homeless are not your typical, hard-core mentally ill, drug addict. The newcomers are much younger, much whiter, and often come from halfway decent families.

I spoke to a Mexican immigrant other day about encampments near his place of business, on Cedar Street in West Berkeley. There was no love lost from him about the vagabonds. With obvious disdain, the man told me that his father taught him early in life the value of hard work.

This young Latino is working two jobs to try to make it in the obscenely priced Bay Area. He said to me, “Many of the homeless are white people from middle class homes. They live on the streets voluntarily because they don’t want to play by the rules.”

There is much truth to what this man is saying. It’s true that if a person procures a bed in the plethora of homeless shelters, he will have to leave behind the bad behavior, dogs, and the drugs. Many choose not to do this; after all, they may have come to the Bay Area in the first place to escape society’s rules.

But there is another type of homeless or marginal young person here — personified by the distraught young guy I saw the other day. What I’m seeing are the lost and the broken, with city streets looking like something out of the Night of the Living Dead.

Here’s another example: right in front a big box store was this thirty-something, red-headed male sleeping on a cardboard box. He happened to stand up when I saw him. He was also handsome. . definitely not the typical, filthy, homeless guy we’ve seen around here for decades. . . probably a newcomer as well.

I have a theory about why we in California are seeing a new type of homeless person. I think it springs from a total sense of nihilism in our young, of a hopelessness that we have not seen in decades, perhaps not since the Great Depression. I call it the New Great Depression.

When the stock market crashed in the l930s, scores of people were left homeless and hopeless. Many took their own lives.

But what’s happening today is not due to the stock market. The economy is in decent shape. Most able-bodied, willing Americans can find a job somewhere — even if it isn’t their dream job in their dream location.

Much of the despair, I think, has to do with the election of President Trump — not Trump himself, but the repetitive refrains from the media and others about Armageddon. With absolutely no future to look forward to, with the belief that the world is spinning rapidly out of control, these young folks are so depressed that they cannot function in any meaningful way.

Plenty of these young adults are high on substances; so too are they involved in endless hook-ups. They’re covered from head to toe in tattoos, trying to feel something to escape the soul-crushing numbness, even if means pain.

What I’m seeing here is the saddest and, yes, the most depressing scene in my thirty plus years of living in these parts. A massive, region-wide — possibly nationwide —- depression; an epidemic of despair, of young, fragile spirits broken by this world.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the tragedy: the parents who raised their kids devoid of the knowledge that God loves them; the virulently anti-white popular culture that promotes rampant self-hate; the soulless media, with its endless doomsday proclamations. I’ll assume some responsibility myself: for we Baby Boomers unrealistically promised our young people an eventual utopia on earth.

The results have been nothing short of catastrophic. One only has to behold the tormented visage of a young, blonde man on College Avenue, his face contorted in a silent scream.

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Berkeley is a Riot

Berkeley has frequently been in the news lately. Just since the election of Donald Trump, there have been at least four big, nasty, and violent riots in our streets. The latest one was just last Saturday in downtown Berkeley, with numerous people arrested and injured.

Now hearing about all this anarchy, you may think that Berkeley is a crazy, uncivilized place, where mob rule reigns. You might also wonder if the residents are hypocrites, shutting down free speech, while lauding their reputation as starting the so-called free speech movement.

On both points, you would be right.

Berkeley is, in fact, an uncivilized place, and it’s getting worse every day. There are “homeless encampments,” all over the place, and violence is ever-present — both political and criminal. Not only is this a chaotic place to live, but what may be even more disturbing is that most people around here don’t seem to notice or care.

Most of the residents think that everything is normal, including the filth and drugs and sexual violence in the encampments; the frequent shootings by low-life thugs on a few mile stretch of interstate 80; and college students being beaten up for merely attending a campus event. Not only do many people think that all is well, but many voice their support of the rioting.

Now, this has always been a radical place. But the anarchy has increased significantly since Trump has been elected. Most of the violence is being conducted by paid operatives. But many residents applaud the mayhem. I think that this is partly because of their simmering rage and frustration about the election.

And there is an even more frightening undertone here — an us-versus-them mentality that has taken over the minds of so many around Berkeley, Oakland, etc. Either you’re with us, or you’re against us. Either you are l00% percent in favor of the riots or you are public enemy number one.

Take this conversation that I had with an acquaintance a couple of days ago, an otherwise pleasant, professional woman:

Me: I heard that there were more riots on Saturday in downtown Berkeley. That is just crazy.

She: Well, no wonder: people were spewing hate speech there.

Me: Really? What were they saying?

She: I don’t know, but I heard on KPFA {note: our local, radical radio station] that there were right wingers there who were saying hateful things.

Me: Like what? What did they say?

She: (getting annoyed) I told you, I don’t remember, but I’m sure that it was hate speech.

Me: Well, I just wish all of this fighting would stop — on both sides. I really find it stressful to live this way. I just want to be able to go over to Safeway or Trader Joe’s or wherever without having to worry about riots.

She: (Going into some hypnotic trance and glaring at me) Well if you believe that, you’re the enemy.

This was an actual conversation. I said a hasty goodbye and took off. I mean, what can you say to counter this irrational, paranoid thinking? 

I’ve been here for over 30 years and have never seen anything like it. When Bush the first was President and then W, there was barely a peep out of the populace. Sure, people were angry. But riots in the street? No.

I do recall one protest, which was a large, well-organized march down University Avenue to oppose the Iraqi War. But while the march was passionate, there wasn’t any violence or rioting.

But after President Obama took office, we started having frequent riots here, there, and everywhere —- for instance, the Facebook-organized occupations. These were mostly in downtown Oakland. Maybe that was a practice run. Now the puppeteers who control the brainwashed masses prefer whipping up social chaos in the supposedly iconic Berkeley.

Of course, no one cares about the problems all of this is causing ordinary residents. On Saturday, the Berkeley downtown BART station had to be closed. This isn’t Manhattan, with subway stations on every couple of blocks. The closest BART station to downtown is several miles away. And people who live and work in downtown Berkeley were, I’m sure, frightened and disrupted by the violence, helicopters, blocked streets, and the like.

None of this frequent rioting is coincidental or spontaneous: the American Left is using the same destructive tactics that it perfected back in the day. And given the ease of using the Internet for coordination, it will be a long while (if ever) before any of this stops.

In the meantime, the average Jane or Joe, like me, can’t simply go over to Whole Foods without taking his life in his hands. And no one seems to notice or care.

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Disappointed in Berkeley

Apparently, President Trump ordered bombing of Syria because the leader there had gassed his own people. Now where have we heard that one before?

The next thing we know, there will be accusations of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Syria. I mean, how dumb do these politicians think we are? Very dumb and easily manipulated, I guess.

And then I suppose we are. I sure have believed that Trump was a different type of politician, independent and not easily swayed by the neo-cons who have been pushing one horrible war after another in the Middle East.

Decades ago, the Arabs in the Middle East were our friends. As a child, I remember my parents enjoying a fabulous vacation in Egypt. Now that nation is torn up, as is Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. etc.

Trump ran on a policy of putting America’s needs first. It is hard to imagine how this unprovoked bombing — based on dubious intelligence — was a good idea or put America first. The major hawk, Senator McCain, is thrilled. But here in Berkeley, I am disappointed, to say the least.

I have a Berkeley friend, a conservative, who never trusted Trump. My friend believes that the Democrats and Republicans are all the same, that is, willing shills of the bankers, the Federal Reserve and all of the players in the New World Order. I disagreed with him in the past, but now I’m wondering if he is right

If I had known then what I know now, would I have still voted for Trump? Yes, because the Clintons are a known quantity and deeply enmeshed in the NWO and all of the other nefarious forces out there. Is Trump? Maybe, probably. He may have been too good to be true.

The lesson for me — and for all of us? Don’t put one’s trust in a human leader. There is just too much corruption, too much money, and too much power in this world. And, as my friend had told me, no one is going to be elected President unless that person dances to the beat of the Powers that Be.

The only 100% trustworthy Force in this world is God. And given the events of the last 24 hours, and the terrifying potential of WW III, none of us have a moment to waste to get our acts together and start living our lives for Him.

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The No-Free-Speech Movement

“Censorship is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, 1966

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” — Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

“I am a student. Please do not fold, spindle, or mutilate me.”
– Slogan of the Free Speech Movement, 1964.

A campus group at the University of California, Berkeley, invited a conservative speaker to give a talk. How did Berkeley react, the legendary home of the Free Speech Movement?

Given that the talk had been planned long in advance, did opponents get a permit to assemble legally and to protest? Or, if not, did they at least share their displeasure through a peaceful demonstration, with signs and chanted slogans?

Not a chance.

What happened is much, much darker. Thousands of people gathered, and many of them threw rocks and other dangerous objects at the police. Some rioters beat and pepper-sprayed students trying to attend the talk, several of whom had to be hospitalized. The mobs forced the emergency evacuation of the speaker and destroyed property: cars were overturned, windows broken, fires set, and stores vandalized.

Though I’ve been here since the l980s, the attacks on people and property have skyrocketed in the last 8 years. We’ve had the Occupations, with the seizing of freeways and city streets and mob rampages through the streets. Since the November election, we’ve also had other riots, with more destruction and injuries, all at an obscene amount of cost to the cities.

But this latest riot at the UC Berkeley campus and downtown Berkeley was even more sinister. This is because students trying to attend the talk were targeted for violence.

Those targeted had the audacity to want to attend a public talk, one sponsored by the campus group, the College Republicans. Even though the talk was approved and all of the channels gone through, the talk was shut down amidst the chaos. Yet more evidence that the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley was, and is, a lie.

Although many students and others protested, I have serious questions about how many local residents rioted versus being imported and paid. (1) However, putting that aside, I am extremely disturbed by how most of the residents around here support the riots.

In these parts, mayhem against people with a different point of view is excused as just desserts for “hate speech.” However, this attitude begs the question: how do they know that it is hate speech if they won’t allow themselves or anyone else to hear it?

Then there are the mind games, for instance, calling the riot a “protest,” as the campus-run newspaper, the Daily Californian, did. Personally, I’m not sure how a stampeding mob of violent thugs can be called a “protest.”

Of course, the message of the recent riots was this: don’t even try to offer a conservative point of view in the epicenter of progressivism. If so, you will be put in harm’s way. (And given that the politicos sent a message to the police to do nothing to stop the riots, you’ll be out there on your own.)

Though profoundly disturbing, the suppression of free speech in Berkeley is not surprising. It is typical of all cults, and progressivism is a cult.

With cults, no dissent is allowed; everyone must parrot the same party line. And if anyone dares to diverge from the group in any way, shape, or form, he will be marginalized, ostracized, threatened, and physically endangered.

Message, I imagine, received: It will be very, very unlikely that the Campus Republicans or any conservative group will invite a speaker here anytime soon. (Come to think of it, after decades of living here, I’ve never heard of a conservative being invited to give a talk.)

The Left is very fond of pointing fingers at Donald Trump and his supporters, defaming them with slurs, such as white supremacist, crazy, stupid, evil, fascists, and insane. Trump himself has been called Hitler.

But, honestly, who are the ones who most resemble fascists? Who are the ones who muzzle free speech and unleash a violent mob on young college students?

* *

“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. . It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” Edward Bernays (nephew of Sigmund Freud), in his book, Propaganda

We’re playing those mind games together
Pushing the barriers
planting seeds
Playing the mind guerrilla
Chanting the mantra:
peace on earth

—Mind Games, John Lennon

A number of years ago, before I went through my political and spiritual conversion, I attended a lecture in Berkeley by a progressive Ph.D, a linguist. His talk was about how linguists were starting to work with the Democratic Party to use words to manipulate the masses.

Of course, we can all see the success of the linguists’ endeavors — how the multitudes have been manipulated through the steady drumbeat of laboratory-tested words and phrases. For instance, Obama’s linguists had people chant, “We are the change,” over and over again, robotic-style. . . until the phrase sunk into most everyone’s brains. School children and Hollywood types recited praises to their leader incessantly.

The use of words as propaganda isn’t new. It started with Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who borrowed from his uncle’s newfound field of psychology. The art of propaganda, through word usage, timing, and tone, has also been used successfully by hypnotists. This includes the practitioners of NLP, that is, neurolinguistic programming, which apparently was relied on heavily by the linguists working for Obama.

So what happens is this: words or phrases are used repetitively, in a hypnotic way, to create “triggers.” Those triggers can trigger what is called the “altar” state that is desired by the puppet masters. Hypnosis works on the premise that images and emotions — both positive and negative — can be evoked through careful word placement and repetition.

To see how well it works, simply observe people on the Left. When feel-good words and phrases are used, such as Obamacare, Hillary, Obama, Michelle, hope and change, happy feelings result. And then notice the complete opposite effect — the hostility, if not outright hate, — triggered by other words, e.g. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon. As another example: note how the frequent repetition of one of the newer words, “haters,” drives people on the Left to hate.

Then there are words that evoke concern, a parental worry and a desire to rescue. “Climate change,” for instance, compels people to forgo bags, even regular showers, in order to save the planet. Particularly brilliant is the use of the word “refugee” in the immigration debate. “Refugee” conjures up the image of war, and of bloody victims fleeing persecution.

The repetitive use of the word, “refugee,” impels most on the Left to open up our country to pretty much anyone who wants to come here. And yet, unlike real refugees, most immigrants (legal and illegal) are here mostly for financial gain. (2)

Of course, the old term, “illegal aliens,” is out. It has morphed into the more pleasant-sounding “undocumented workers,” which implies that the person is here working, with somehow a bureaucratic snafu holding up the paperwork.

And please examine closely the dangerous words thrown around by the Left to agitate their followers and to sometimes incite violence. The term, racist, has been used for years in that regard. But there are new words that are even more inflammatory: for instance, white supremacist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi.

But what exactly is a white supremacist? Or a white nationalist? Can anyone easily explain it? Where are they and who are they?

If someone doesn’t support affirmative action, does that make him a white supremacist? If a person is proud of being from the south, does that make him a white supremacist? If someone is concerned about Spanish being required in his child’s public school, is he one of those boogeymen?

Casually throwing around fighting words, such as white supremacist or white nationalist, is a horrible thing, reminiscent of witch hunts and gulags. And yet the leaders of the Left hypnotize the gullible masses as handily as a stage hypnotist manipulates a subject to bark like a dog.

With the media, Hollywood, and the educational system all avid supporters, the Left, in the age of President Trump, will do almost anything to try to control the narrative. And, apparently, it doesn’t matter if the results are bloody. We’ve been seeing the wreckage more and more in Berkeley, Oakland, and beyond.


1. I have said this before during the Occupations: I did not know a single person rioting (peacefully protesting, yes. But not beating up students and breaking windows). I asked many others, and they did not know a single person rioting.

Yet another clue that the masked bandits at the Occupation and at the recent Berkeley rioting were probably imported, via Facebook and Craig’s list — most of them probably paid operatives, now en route to their next riotous destination.

2. Note how many immigrants go back and forth to their home country (e.g. China or Mexico) to vacation and shop and visit relatives. A true blue refugee would never be able to do this.

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Our Animal House

(Reader Advisory: explicit content)

I had one of those sad Berkeley days. I did errands around town, and beheld the tragedy that is Berkeley, Oakland, and the like.

I needed to do some business near Gilman and Eastshore Freeway. If you’re ever in town, take a drive over there. The area personifies the horror that is Berkeley.

At Gilman, there is what is called a “homeless encampment.” This translates into a lot of druggies and dealers, drifters, and runways, as well as psychotics, living and sleeping out in the wild. They live in tents, set up illegal electricity, and light fires, to keep warm, cook food, and smoke crank.

Note here that Oakland recently had a catastrophic fire, where 36 young people perished at a rave; so this situation on Gilman is an extreme public hazard. It’s dangerous to the people who live and work nearby; to those driving on the nearby freeway; as well as those brave souls who shop around there (Office Depot, Whole Foods, and various other shops and restaurants are located nearby)

This is not the first tent city; it won’t be the last. For about 1 1/2 years, a group of homeless camped out right next door to the US Post Office in downtown, until finally they were given the boot. It can take forever and a day for such encampments to be forced out by the skittish, politically correct politicians.

Part of the problem, as always, is the citizenry around here, who vote for and support the very behavior that puts all of us at risk. In fact, Berkeley just voted in an even more liberal mayor than before, if that is even possible. So even though the tent cities are a real and pressing public hazard, nothing is done about it.

I just don’t know what is more bizarre: grown adults living in squalid conditions, drugging themselves up all day — or a (very rich) area allowing this. And these same people living in filth consider it better than the alternative: that is, returning from where they came and getting jobs. . or the mentally ill enjoying the three meals a day, warm beds, and a huge welcome mat rolled out for them by the omnipresent local social services. . . or the addicted getting free treatment on the public’s dime. But then again. .the street people would have to play by the rules, something anathema to them.

It’s always been bad around here. . but nothing like lately. And getting worse by the day. One friend says that she’s seen a much more aggressive vibe since marijuana was legalized in November. Another friend, “Alexis,” added, “A super leftist area like this is just going to get worse and worse and worse over time.”

So true. One has to wonder, though: how low will this area and its people fall??

* *

Speaking of which, I should tell you of what I saw a week ago. I was shopping at a grocery chain in south Berkeley.

On the check out line, I saw a twenty-something girl dressed as a rabbit. She was wearing a furry outfit with a tail. It wasn’t like a child’s pajamas. . I mean, this was a true blue bunny costume, fitting for day wear. It was bizarre.

Later, I spoke to Alexis, a woman always in the know. She said that it’s part of a trend out of San Francisco, gaining popularity every day. They even had a recent convention in SF, called Fur Con.

People dress up as animals and (brace yourself) gather together for sexual behavior that involves pens (for the pigs) and other perverse behavior. There are community orgies, as well as private stalls. Many of the members actually believe they are animals and play the role in public (hence, the woman in the rabbit outfit).

Alexis said that she recently saw a young man walking down University Avenue dressed as a dog. It’s almost all young white females and males who engage in this twisted lifestyle . . . this isn’t surprising since most liberal, young whites have come to hate themselves. No wonder they think they are only suitable for pig pens and cages.

But in my mind, it gets even scarier than Fur Con and the other Animal House sightings of the Bay Area. Next up on the progressive playlist will likely be promoting bestiality. Why not? Homosexuality, polyamory, and transgendered surgery/hormones have managed to become as acceptable as Mom’s apple pie.

We can trace all of this animalism to what was once called Darwin’s “Theory” of evolution. Apparently, Darwin pitched the idea as a possibility, not a probability. As I understand it, he refuted most of it on his death bed. But obviously the idea has stuck, and any scientist brave enough to argue with the Establishment sees his career go up in smoke. (1)

If we’re all just beasts, simply less hairy baboons, why not “do it in the road” or at homeless encampments? Why not trash public property, dress as animals and engage in public orgies; why not ingest unlimited amounts of drugs and drink? And why care about anyone else — why even care about oneself, one’s body, one’s precious life?

* *

I could go on and on and on with what I witness every day. . but I’ll just add one more for the record: how almost every female around here is covered with tattoos. While a tattooed lady used to be a popular freak show attraction at the circus (remember that?), now it’s a rare female around here that hasn’t mutilated herself.

I’m not talking about a teeny-weeny tattoo of a little butterfly on the ankle. I’m talking about tattoos all over the arms and legs, chest, neck, back. There are also the septum piercings through the middle of the nose, African-style ear lope piercings, as well as facial spikes.

Yeah, the guys are tattooed all over as well. But there is something particularly disturbing about seeing all of these cartooned-adorned ladies. While tattoos used to be the sign of a gang banger or a convict, now they are mainstream.

But tattooes are incredibly painful. They are disfiguring. They require hundreds of needles, and can be outright dangerous. And females are not supposed to accept and crave pain.

I suppose that painful bodily assaults can now be tolerated by women because they are not really women any more. They are tough and rough. . desensitized by their lifestyle (abortions, promiscuous sex, rapes, etc. etc.) I can’t even remember the last time I saw a little girl carrying a dolly around — maybe decades?

With no role models for femininity in sight, the women are indistinguable from the men. So they can join the military, where they can get their legs blown off in combat; they can engage in sadomasochistic sexual practices (also popular around here); they can mutilate themselves through tattoos or piercings or maybe even removal of their chests to become a “man.” And a totally insane culture calls all of this “freedom.”

* *

All of the above is happening in clear sight.. . with rarely a negative word being spoken. Young adults get their bodies burned to death at an Oakland rave; dangerous encampments exist in full view of multi-million dollar homes; young people dress up as animals and have group relations in cages.

It’s happening here in droves, because this is the belly of the beast. But it’s happening other places as well. National Geographic just ran a story on the new “gender revolution” of gender confused children spreading like wildfire.

Berkeley is the testing ground, and has been for many decades now, probably since the Frankfurt School set up shop at the University of California, Berkeley in the l930s. (2) If the hypnotic programming works here, it is unleashed onto your neighborhood as well.

I suppose that the horror show that I see every day is the logical outcome of a culture that has lost its moorings from God — and, consequently, has lost its mind. We have moved so far beyond the depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah that the sky’s the limit.

As always, there is a clear winner here. It is not you nor is it me. It certainly isn’t our young people, who are being used and abused and treated more viciously than any laboratory rat.

The winner is the diabolical one, that source of all that is destructive and degrading and base. And it is he who wins when a once proud people are degraded down, down, down, to the very bottom of the underworld, into the animal kingdom and beyond.

(1) There’s a great documentary by Ben Stein, No Intelligence Allowed, about how any scientist that disagrees with the evolutionary point of view gets the Saul-Alinsky treatment (that is, ridiculed, marginalized, ostracized).

(2) The Frankfurt School was a multidisciplinary group of atheist Jewish intellectual Marxists in Germany, who were forced out of the country by Hitler. Some went to Columbia, but the vast majority set up shop at the University of California, Berkeley.

One of them stated that the school’s goal was corrupting the West so much that it “stinks.” From what I see everyday, the members exceeded even their wildest expectations.

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Berkeley’s Deathtrap

You’ve probably heard about the tragic fire in Oakland that took the lives of 36 young adults. It is a terrible loss of life; I can’t even imagine the horrendous suffering of the loved ones. To lose a child or sibling or best friend so suddenly and traumatically is a painful cross to bear.

There are so many tragic elements to this fire — the loss of life being the most obvious one. But there are a multitude of victims (and villains) to go around.

For one, why are all these young people living in such unsafe environs? According to a former tenant, there is no heat; the place is infested with bugs and rodents; and there’s no place to even cook. How did the landlords get away with renting these slum conditions for so many years; after a multitude of complaints, why didn’t the city shut the place down?

One reason the young people signed on to the dotted line to live in a filthy slum is the severe lack of affordable housing around here. Though the Bay Area touts itself as a liberal haven, no one, aside from the very rich, can afford to live here. These days, a tiny fixer upper in a sketchy neighborhood will elicit bids of a million dollars and upwards. And rents are also through the roof.

But what troubles me isn’t just that the kids couldn’t afford a decent place to live. It’s: why did they stay here? What is it about this area that made them throw caution to the wind and set down roots? Why didn’t they go to other desirable cities, such as Portland or Minneapolis? Or a more compelling question: why didn’t they go back home?

Surely what they found around here couldn’t have met their expectations of the iconic Berkeley. Rather than a warm and welcoming atmosphere, they instead confronted an aggressive, crime-ridden area. But, I suppose, rather than change their beliefs about Berkeley, Oakland, etc. they decided that the hazardous conditions was somehow worth the enormous cost that they were paying — financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For some very unfortunate souls, this cost meant their very lives.

But most of the people who perished at the Ghost Ship (a very apt name for the slum) weren’t living there. They were coming for the big party scene, the techno music, and the free booze, drugs, and sex.

I wish that I knew a bit about these young people — what brought them there, for instance, and why. I imagine that for some, like the teenager who died, it may have been their first time. Others were probably seasoned ravers—- maybe initiating some of the novices into the frenzied scene.

I also wonder about their parents — did any of them ever warn their kids about these kinds of manic events? Did the mom or dad tell them not to attend large gatherings in unsafe environments? Or did the parents — like so many parents around here — just tell them to enjoy their youth and have fun? (an exceedingly unwise message to send your child, regardless of his age).

And other tragic elements of the fire: the unstable, addicted husband and wife who rented out rooms to the young people. The couple are a nightmare in and of itself.

Apparently, the wife was a nice girl from a nice family in Portland, Oregon, who, like so many other nice girls, came to Berkeley seeking cool experiences. She connected with an apparently horrendous man who exerted a Svengali spell over her — and so many other people. Apparently, they live a drug-soaked life.

While worried family and friends tried to rescue the young woman, Micah, and help her successfully complete drug rehab, her husband had other plans. He kept enticing her to leave with him, which she did over and over again.

I saw pictures of the pair when they were first together. She was a lovely young woman, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and perfect, chiseled features. But in the most recent Facebook picture, she looks dead, her good looks long gone, with a blank and vacant stare.

She, like so many other young women, came here unaccompanied, hooked up with a dangerous man, and has paid the price in a good life gone very bad. She reminds me of the young Weather Underground women, also once sporting beauty and talent, who ended up emaciated wastelands — many of them dying tragically as well.

The tragedies don’t end there. There are also the landlords’ three children, so severely neglected that the authorities removed them from their care. Tragically, they were returned to the Ghost Ship hellhole before too long.

There these little tykes were filthy, malnourished, and infested with lice. The children wandered around aimlessly, observing young people, high as kites, having orgies. In one incident, a babysitter found the three year old chewing on a condom.

All of this horror is emblematic of not just parenting problems or drug issues or even housing code violations. It is emblematic of Berkeley and Oakland itself.

The warehouse was a deathtrap; we can all agree on this. But this region is a deathtrap in and of itself, just like all radical left ideology and practices. The soul stealing all around me is not confined to a rare fire.

It starts when young adults come out here seeking adventure. They find themselves pressured to experiment and do things that they don’t want to do and wouldn’t have done in their wildest imaginations. Many connect with bad men or women.

And some of them get stuck here, like Micah —- getting themselves into such bad trouble that they can’t get themselves out. Some never do.

But what makes this area a death trap isn’t just the crime-ridden streets or the irresponsible sex and drugs. What is most profoundly deadly is the lack of faith. The Bay Area is the most atheistic one in the country. Tragedy inevitably results when people abandon God.

Because only in God is there any hope — not in politics or gurus or marinating one’s brain in ecstasy, alcohol, and marijuana. And there are very few signs of life, or hope, in this very, very bereft area.

However, there are moments when the Light of God still glimmers. I was moved while hearing of a note that someone left on the impromptu Oakland memorial. The note read: “I’m praying for you — that you got out of there alive.”

What this note communicated to me is that people know. Whoever wrote this note — no matter how pierced and tattooed, how mesmerized by rave music and frenetic dancing: this person knows: that when the going gets terrifying and desperate, we reach for God.

We all know on some level, no matter how much we kid ourselves, that God exists and is preeminent. We can lie to ourselves that there is no God; that humans are cosmic mistakes; and that the unborn babe in the womb isn’t stitched together with the artistry and love of God. But we all know.

I pray that more and more people come to realize how deadly life is without God. I pray that people start waking up, now, not later. As the Ghost Ship disaster illustrates, the lives of our children depend on it.

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Notes from the Underground

To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

Twenty two years ago today, I was brutally attacked and left for dead in the middle of a street in Oakland. I had just walked out of a restaurant at noon, on an unseasonably hot autumn day. It’s only by the grace of God that I am alive.

I don’t like to think about it; it’s been a long time, and I’ve become a completely different person since: older, wise, and more hyper vigilant to potential threats. Back then, I did see the black man walking towards me and felt very uncomfortable. But not wanting to be viewed as racist, I turned the corner anyway, and that’s when my life changed forever.

I think about this assault today for another reason. I’ve been seeing headlines that in the three days since Trump was elected, there has been a surge in hate crimes. Now I find that puzzling. How would social scientists have tracked this already, those same professionals who require endless discussions, months of calculation, and countless meetings to agree on anything? But then again, I have long since stopped believing anything that I read in the news.

My victimhood of years ago was never a statistic. It was a type of hate crime, since it is mostly white and Asian people out here who are targeted by the criminals, who are mostly black. Bodies being bloodied around here are a dime of dozen and don’t make the evening news. In fact, white victimization is always disregarded. When I told a friend about it, she replied, “Well, he was a victim too.” (Really? It wasn’t his body that was bruised and battered.)

My friend’s indifference reminds me of Ayn Rand’s warning many decades ago. She said that a country has plummeted into totalitarianism when there is more compassion for the criminal than the victim. Clearly we reached that disastrous tipping point many years ago.

* *

It is a surreal experience walking around Berkeley these days. Of course, it is always a difficult place to be: life in a cult that I used to belong to. But lately, it’s been worse, even crazier.

I think this is partly because the populace (and a lot of the country) has become more radicalized since Obama has been office. Obama acted with impunity for these years. People have become grandiose; they believe that they can, and will, reconfigure the world.

The election of Donald Trump has been a shocking slap in the face to everyone who thought that they were on the road to paradise. Their leader has been Obama; then they switched to Bernie. With his losing, the residents here were supremely unhappy for a while, but then followed the liberal drumbeat to switch to Hillary, their next messiah.

Of course, the rest of the country had something different to say, as Donald Trump was elected instead. The shock and horror around here are something to behold.

Some of it has taken the form of rioters that have trashed the area, especially (as usual) downtown Oakland. Cars have been destroyed; businesses vandalized; countless windows broken; police officers attacked. Millions of dollars wasted in the carnage, not to mention millions more to pay for the police officers, detoured from protecting law-abiding citizens from the thugs who prey on us.

Then there are those who stop traffic on the streets and the freeway, arguably a violent and provocative action in and of itself. But most of the public has remained nonviolent.

And yet, most of the lawful residents support the mayhem. I’m not sure who is worse: the hoodlums that menace the police and destroy businesses or the law abiding citizen who excuses this behavior. Left out are the most vulnerable: the women, children, sick, and old people, abandoned to the “cause,” with no one to protect us.

* *

Berkeley and the American Left are a type of cult. Just read up on cults and you’ll see all of the tell tale signs.

In a cult, there is a leader that people follow no matter what, even to the edge of a cliff. For the last few years, it has been Obama. Even though, during Obama’s presidency, hate crimes against whites and Asians have skyrocketed, white progressives ignore this — or they excuse it as the cost of “privilege.” And the fact that this area, the progressive capital of the world, is a filthy snake pit, that is okay too, again because of privilege.

It is unnatural to endanger ourselves and others. And another clue that the Left is a cult is that people act so unnaturally. In religious cults, women allow their children to be sexually used by the leader; or they abandon their children so the parents can go off and live with the group. Again, this is unnatural; parents intuitively protect their kids.

And yet out here, parents allow their children to go to schools that are dangerous propaganda mills. The kids are subjected to endless harangues about the evil white people; white males learn to hate themselves the most of all. The kids are taught that homosexuality, heterosexuality, transgendered surgery, or polyamory are all equal “choices.”

So many other unnatural things here: Women adorn their bodies from head to toe with tattoos and piercings, even spikes in the face. Tattoos hurt; piercings hurt. And yet women do this to themselves as, I think, a type of cult-like initiation practice, something that requires numbing and desensitization.

Another way the Left is a cult: no dissent allowed. Everyone must believe the same thing — or else: people are shunned from the group, ridiculed and marginalized — Alinksy-style. Or even worse, their lives are threatened It is risky for a cult to allow any independent thinking because the whole charade is a house of cards that can be easily toppled.

A final trademark of cults is that those inside fear and demonize those outside. So Trump voters been been tarred as idiots, insane, racists, and white supremacists. Donald Trump has morphed from a fabulously wealthy businessman, with pretty wives, and successful kids, to Hitler. Of course, all of this nonsense has been whipped up by the Democrats and the mainstream media.

* *

The other day I was standing waiting for an elevator. There was a father there, a Chinese immigrant, with his three little children. The elevator opened, and the littlest one, a 3 year old girl, ran inside so quickly that the elevator closed and she was briefly trapped inside alone. Terrified, the little girl started screaming at the top of her lungs. In record speed, the dad zipped over and pushed the elevator button; the elevator door opened; and he pulled the child out.

Though safe, the little girl was still howling at the top of her lungs. Even though she had only been alone in the elevator for a few seconds, it felt like an eternity. She sensed the danger of that moment: that without her father, she was lost.

I leaned over and consoled the sobbing girl with, “That was so scary. But your dad rescued you. You don’t have to be frightened. Your daddy is there.” She looked at me, seemed to take in what I was saying, and calmed down a bit.

That little girl reminds me of the people in Berkeley, Oakland, and all the other liberal bastions around the world. They, like this little girl, are terrified because they have been left alone in the world. Without Obama, without Bernie or Hillary, they feel untethered, abandoned and alone. . and there is no one in the world to make them feel safe.

Yes, they are alone, and yes, they are untethered, but not because a Republican will be President. It is because they have unanchored themselves from the only source of safety in the world: God. Without Him, they trust in false prophets; they cling to delusions and myths.

And they miss the main reason why humans are alive. It is not to follow a human messiah, one who wants to architect a perfect world. No one can create a perfect world. And by trying to do so, a type of hell is created on earth for everyone.

Human beings are made for one main purpose: and that is to know and to worship God. There is no human being who will ever fill the gaping hole in our hearts that only God can fill. No wonder the leftists flail around, like a child without his Father, looking for something or someone to cling to.

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Those Aggressive Progressives

The American public has spoken. A legitimate, democratic election has been held, and Donald Trump has been elected. How have the “peace loving, tolerant” progressives responded to losing the White House?

Have they been disappointed, but understanding. . . able to recognize that life doesn’t always give one what we want? Have they formed groups to try to figure out where they have gone wrong; that is, why much of the country has voted them out?

Or. . have many become violent anarchists, setting fires in some of the cities, attacking the police, and triggering mass hysteria?

We all know the answer — the latter. As usual.

It is crazy around here, as extreme as I’ve ever seen it: mass insanity, like in a cult. Residents are inconsolable, terrified, organizing support groups and seeing counselors. Schools are cancelling classes, so students can march around town screaming and disrupting and frightening drivers and passers-by. Freeways are being occupied, inconveniencing and agitating the already stressed-out drivers. And little children are sobbing in their public schools, because some of their parents (and teachers) are telling them that a really evil man has been elected President.

None of this is surprising for any of us who have studied the Left’s tactics. The Left works by agitating and frightening people, so that they can control them; they manipulate young people to protest and occupy freeways, thereby putting their bodies at grave risk; they pay the homeless and the thugs to riot and add a particularly menacing and violent presence to the whole, twisted affair.

To me what is particularly tragic is not just that so many people are acting like uncivilized brutes, wrecking havoc on businesses and citizens simply because they didn’t get their way. What is especially disturbing is how much of the populace excuses and enables the antisocial behavior.

Speak to almost anyone about the riots and violence, and they’ll say, “Well, people are angry, and they have a right to be.” As though it is perfectly acceptable in a civilized nation for people to unleash their primitive impulses on other people and their property because they are upset. Even more horrifying, many of these same Berkeley residents will excuse mayhem reaped on their own loved ones, even their children.

I suppose that one good aspect of the Left’s explosive, post-election behavior is that much of the country gets to behold what the Democratic Party has turned into. While the Democratic Party, under President Kennedy, may have comprised mostly patriotic liberals, for decades now, it has been hijacked by the most extreme elements of the radical Left.

And this is on full display in Berkeley, Oakland, LA, and other areas where the aggressive progressives are showing their true colors: not the movement of love and kindness, but one of insurrection. And, consequently, lots of people in this country right now feel greatly relieved that the radicals won’t be in power for very much longer.

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We are the Ones

I was just taking a walk around Berkeley. Many of the residents are adorned with Hillary buttons and t-shirts. There’s a nervous vibe in the street, as Berkeley-ites shudder in fear at the media-constructed boogey-man, Donald Trump.

I feel a bit nervous too. . but at the moment, the main thing that I feel is sobered. There is a tremendous amount at stake with this election, not just for the country, but for Christians, in particular.

The Democratic Party has made it clear that the enemy for them isn’t so much Russia or Iran (more media-constructed villains), but Christians, particularly the Catholic Church. The Wikileaks reveal the level of contempt people high up in the Administration have for Christians, particularly Catholics. And the leaks revealed their plan to infiltrate the Catholic Church to create chaos, disorder, and confusion. . and revolution, to try to force changes in the ancient Church teachings. This is a process that started many years ago, and took on a life of its own from the l960s and onward.

And Hillary Clinton herself, in a talk a few years ago, asserted that any religious group that doesn’t want to dance to the liberal drummer will have to change. She didn’t say what the government would do to crack down on churches that have their own teachings, based on Christ, not the gurus in the Democratic Party. But one can only guess, since the persecution has already started with Obamacare forcing unreasonable and un-Holy mandates on Christian churches and organizations.

These are the times in which we all live. This isn’t a time for followers of Jesus to become frightened. Jesus Himself told us to never be afraid, that man can only hurt our bodies, but never touch our souls, if they are firmly grounded in God.

Instead, this is a time for saint-making. I heard a pastor preach on this recently. He said, “If you aren’t trying to become a saint, what are you doing? If you aren’t trying to become holy, what are doing with your life?” I agree; this is a time for those who put God first to pick up our crucifixes and follow Him.

There is nothing else that matters. Our petty concerns will fade away in time. . .and this election will be over before too long. Same with our finite bodies and lives. We are all faced with a choice, and it isn’t Democrat or Republican. It is: who will we follow, who will be worship, what will we do with this one life that we’ve been given?

The Bible makes it clear that in the end, there will be very few true believers left. I keep thinking of the passage from Revelation: These are the ones who survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes clean and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There is an old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. These are certainly interesting times, although I don’t believe they are a curse.

This is a time for heroes. This is a time of saint-making. This is when we reveal our true colors, to ourselves, to others, but, most of all, to God.

So make sure to vote on Tuesday. Vote as though your life depends on it. And, frankly, it might.

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Lies Matter

I often shake my head in wonder that much of the populace is so gullible and malleable. I mean, I kind of get it. I was one of them, years ago. But I’d like to think that if there were solid information presented to me that I would have stopped believing the lies sooner.

Here’s an example of a delusional belief that has gained traction. Apparently, lots of folks believe that there is a pandemic of white on black crime, rather than the reverse. I mean, are you kidding me??

Then there is the issue of marijuana, which Californians are about to decriminalize come November. Countless Californians are drugged out already. You take your life in your hands driving or even walking the streets. And, yet, most folks apparently think it’s a good idea to create more of an incentive to turn on, tune in, and drop out.

Then there is the so-called California Dream. Lots of people from elsewhere have gotten a clue that the dream is a thing of the past, if it ever existed at all. In many parts of the world, California is now the laughing stock of the nation — with the state’s fiscally irresponsible experimentation, the filthy and crime ridden cities, and the rotting infrastructure. And, yet, there are still some duped college students and young professionals who actually think that it’s a good idea to move here.

Another whopper: that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a spontaneous, grassroots outpouring by indignant black people. I mean, please. People don’t, in neatly organized and heavily funded fashion, just take it to the streets. And the lie feels disturbingly racist. Blacks, like other ethnicities, are too busy paying their bills, worrying about their kids’ education, and doing the laundry to suddenly drop everything to occupy the freeways. BLM has all the marks of the radical Left: that is, paid operatives, who are doing a stellar job inflaming and frightening the masses.

Here’s another delusion: that it’s a good idea to relocate the Clintons back to the White House. And why isn’t anyone in the mainstream news asking about reports that Hillary may be in very poor health? She’s had unexplained falls, including a recent one at a 9/11 event, concussions, difficulty walking, and possibly cognitive problems involving speech, memory and temper. But just as the MSM ignores her email travails, same too about the real possibility that her health problems may endanger her ability to safely run the country.

The casual, if not cavalier, attitude of so many about all of the lies and deceptions reminds me Alfred E. Neuman, the fictional character who famously said: What-Me-Worry? It’s not a coincidence that Alfred was the mascot for Mad Magazine. It’s a mad society when people don’t take the time to think for themselves and instead swallow the propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

None of the disorder and falsehoods are new. It is how the radical Left has always operated. They whip up racial strife and engineer anarchy and social chaos. But the situation is much worse today than in the 60s because rather than being a fringe element, the radicals are now firmly in power.

My advice in all of this: fellow Americans, stop allowing the media and the government to manipulate you like puppets on a string. Do your own research, outside the mainstream box. And stop letting black, white, brown, etc. lies matter.

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I’ve coined a word for what happens to most people who are in Berkeley, Oakland, etc. for any length of time. I call it, “Berkeley-cized.”

Berkeley-cized refers to once normal people from normal parts of the world. They come to this area with their faculties still intact. But before long, they usually become, “Berkeley-cized.” 

Let me give you an example, actually a true one.

Claire is an older woman who moved to these parts to live near her adult son and grandchildren. She had, for years, lived in a bucolic, safe town in the South.

I met Claire about a year ago when she was working as a cashier in one of the local pharmacies. I was enchanted by her Southern accent and politeness, as we talked about her recent move to the Bay Area. She was aghast by what she was seeing: the filth, crime, and the general level of meanness.

Her ardor for this place hadn’t grown by the time I chatted with Claire a few months later. While we were talking, a man ran into the store, purposely threw over some items, and grabbed a few more and ran out. She and I both looked at each other, horrified. Claire shook her head and said, contemptuously, “This happens all the time. I can’t believe that people act this way around here and that no one seems to care.”

Sadly, though, when I last encountered Claire, just this week, she had morphed into someone completely unrecognizable. I started making chit-chat with her on the checkout line, and I said, “How are you doing in this crazy area?” Defensively, she countered with, “Oh, it’s not so crazy here. It’s a lot crazier in Florida.”

Startled, I responded with, “I don’t know what is going on in Florida since I don’t pay attention to the news. But I can’t imagine any area being more insane than this one.”

She argued that, “Oh, no, it’s a lot worse in Florida. The governor there is crazy.”

Now I don’t know what is going on in Florida or the governor there. I wasn’t sure what Claire was talking about. But one thing I was sure of: Claire had become Berkeley-cized. My formerly reasonable acquaintance was now one of “them.”

I’ve seen this same phenomenon occur over and over again, which, to me, looks a whole lot like cult behavior. It also reminds me of the Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages fall in love with their kidnappers in order to survive.

I suppose there are only two viable options when encountering the insanity that is Berkeley. One choice is to see reality for what it is. But that requires much intestinal fortitude because, when it dawns on you that you left hearth and home for Hades, it can be terrifying.

So most people choose number two: they, like Claire, become Berkeley-cized. Somehow it’s easier to chuck reality for something easier to tolerate. And people console themselves by imagining some other place, somewhere else, as being “worse.”

Being Berkeley-cized is similar to what abused spouses do to calm themselves down at the end of another traumatic day. Rather than see the wreckage of their lives, they rationalize it with, “It could always be worse.”

It was sad to meet up with Claire, and to behold yet another previously-intact person having her brain hijacked by the Body Snatchers. Though Claire was once a rare and refreshing voice in the maddening crowd, she clearly has decided that it’s easier to join them, rather than fight them. Maybe her newly programmed self will have an easier time coping the next time that a thug storms into her store to rob it.

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The Great American Bathroom Wars

Since Obama appeared on the national scene a few years ago, this country has been embroiled in one brouhaha or another. We’ve debated Issues that were never discussed before: topics that no one thought about or, if they did, the subjects weren’t discussed in polite company.

But now nothing is off limits. The latest headline grabbers are about toilets . .who uses them, where, and when. In the good old days of pre-2008, no one talked about subjects such as, “tea bagging” or bathroom rights — no one needed to. But now, a formerly neutral topic (that is, who uses the can) has become a battlefield.

Back in the golden olden days, it was crystal clear to every man, woman, and child which bathroom they should use. In fact, one can make the argument that bathroom use was the one topic in America that united liberals and conservatives, old and young, and people of all races, creeds, and colors.

Although citizens might argue about abortion, the Middle East, and briefs versus boxers, we all knew that males use the men’s bathroom. Conversely, females went to the bathroom in the women’s room. There were even nifty little signs on the doors, so that non-English speakers could find their way to the right place.

But now, nothing is as simple as it once was. Now, males who think that they are females are demanding the right to use the women’s bathroom — with our President and Hillary Clinton also getting fired up about this supposedly essential, human rights issue.

Now what I find interesting is that we hear a lot about biologically born males demanding to go potty in the women’s bathroom. However, hardly a peep is uttered by those biologically born females, who think they are males, demanding to go into the men’s room. I have spent (way too much) time wondering why the noteworthy difference. Here is my careful analysis:

The first possibility: The lack of ardor for females to use the men’s room may have to do with the usual state of a men’s room. I mean, let’s face it: every gal knows what a miserable olfactory experience it is to share a bathroom with a dude.

I’ve never been able to figure this out. Why do those men, who have perfect range when shooting a gun or chopping wood, miss the toilet, 99% of the time? And why do otherwise intelligent males never think to wipe up the mess?

I mean, really. Any of us long-suffering gals who’ve had to share a bathroom with a male know the nuisance, if not the absolute horror, of a unisex bathroom. Many a marriage has been saved by relocating from a one-bathroom to a two bathroom residence, thereby allowing the woman to have a Room Of Her Own. And, another burning question here: why is it, after generations of feminine nagging, that the male sex cannot remember to put the toilet seat down?

So one possible reason why biologically born women (who think that they are male) are not hankering to share the lo with males is the gross out factor: that is, they wouldn’t be caught dead in the place. But there is another possible reason for the bathroom reticence.

It may well be that a biologically born female who thinks that she is a male is actually afraid to use the men’s room. Political types may argue that this is because she worries that the men may yell at her for invading their private bastion of masculinity. But she may actually be scared of the opposite situation: that the men might welcome her entry a bit too gladly.

The reality is that while most men are harmless, good guys, still, there will always be males who wish females harm. And then there are otherwise decent men who, when given the opportunity, may want to take a peek. This reality of human nature is one of the reasons why bathrooms have been segregated according to sex, that is, Men in the men’s room; ladies in the ladies room.

Now if this theory is true, that is, biologically born women who think that they are males, may feel endangered using the men’s bathroom, this invites a relevant question. If biologically born men enter the women’s room. . . does this put the ladies in some danger?

A lot of people are worried about the risks to the safety of girls and women of men in the women’s rooms. And there are good reasons to be concerned. Studies show that in unisex bathrooms in coed college dorms, some females have been sexually harassed by males secretly spying on them and even filming their private activities. Common sense tells us that if unisex bathrooms become the law of the land, many more girls and women will be at risk.

My personal opinion here: let’s return to the good, old days, when males used the men’s room, and women in the ladies room. I mean, how long does the whole event even take? Aside from the occasional runs from too much pepperoni pizza, most of us are in and out of a public bathroom lickety split.

But common sense isn’t common anymore. If anyone voices opposition to the Great American Toilet Experiment, the hypnotized masses will rage: Unfair! Civil Rights! etc. etc. It’s as though much of the country has lost its collective mind.

There’s no sign of the insanity letting up any time soon. One can only hope and pray for a return to some degree of reason come November.

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Trump Towers

Oh, man. This upcoming election is forcing me to break my self-imposed Rip Van Winkle, stuporous state with regard to the news. In other words, I feel forced against my will to actually know what’s going on around the presidential race.

Apparently, most of the GOP candidates have dropped out, leaving Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and someone from Ohio whose last name begins with a K. One of my Berkeley friends says that he’s the only sane one in the Republican bunch, which makes me want to know as little about him as possible.

What I am seeing around here is a form of mass hysteria when it comes to Donald Trump. Seriously, people are absolutely apoplectic, frothing at the mouth about the possibility of The Donald being our Prez. Their blind rage and hatred is at George W. Bush levels.

And they are terrified, as though Donald Trump is a combination of the anti-Christ, the boogeyman, and the Joker. There is just no rumor too idiotic and histrionic that someone around here isn’t voicing it.

One panicked person told me that if Trump were elected, the stock market would crash to the lowest of lows. Now, I’m not sure how a multi-gazillionaire as President would torpedo our economy. Wouldn’t a socialist President that wants to make every day Black Friday be at more risk of destroying the few bucks that this country still has?

And another person said that there would be mass deportation of every illegal man, woman, and child, along with plenty of legal immigrants. Let’s throw in the fantasy of herding away the Jews and the gypsies and we’ve got the makings of a full-blown paranoid psychosis.

Someone else told me fearfully that Trump was a madman, certifiably insane. Again, I’m not sure how a stupendously successful businessman could make all that money and mastermind so many deals if he were one step away from the looney bin. And, plus, with the amount of crazy around here, such as the deluded screamers on street corners, one would think that Berkeley-ites would welcome more insanity into their lives.

Of course, much of the hysteria is being fomented by our ever so “unbiased” media, which can’t stand Trump and wants the public whipped up into a feverish frenzy. Never one to have a conscience, our media celebrities are burning the Donald at the stake for daring to say the things that are forbidden for anyone to talk about.

One of the sacred cows in this country, a prohibited topic, is immigration. Donald is trumping, so to speak, his legitimate outrage about our allowing in most of the immigrants in the world, with nowhere to put them. Just look at the bursting-at-the-seams overcrowded school, welfare, health care, etc. etc. situation in California and you’ll see a country that has lost its ability to take care of and educate its own citizens.

Recently. I spent 7 hours in one of the (formerly) better Emergency Rooms around here. It was standing room only as my very ill friend sat there for literally three hours before being even triaged. From the looks of the other folks in there, we were one of the few groups of people here legally. It was definitely a scene out of the Third World, although this area, with its filth and overcrowding, bares little resemblance anymore to the First World.

But I guess I shouldn’t bring this up because the topic is, as I said, forbidden. But Donald dares to do so and therefore many Average Joes and Janes are excited that maybe he’s not just the same stuffed shirt and skirt we have running for national election each year. But the Powers that Be don’t want the public animated and encouraged, but instead prefer a heavily controlled, monitored, and manipulated multitude.

So the media orchestrates a firestorm of hysteria towards Donald Trump; and the folks around here, and so many other liberal bastions, hypnotically follow the tune of their Pied Piper. And, sad to say, we may very likely get yet another homogenized, same old/same old President when it comes November. As long as people allow themselves to be manipulated into believing that their mainstream news is objective and accurate, not much will change.

Sad, tragic really. Depressing. Ugh.

Time for me to go back to sleep. Wake me up when it’s all over.

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My Trump Card

As time goes on, I find myself liking the Donald more and more. There are several reasons why.

For one, he is absolutely despised by the folks out here. They ridicule and lambast him every chance they get. I even saw a car defaced because the driver had the nerve to affix a Trump bumper sticker on it (someone painted the F word on the car, on top of the sticker). So if Trump is incurring this much hostility, the man must be doing something right!

Another reason for my increased interest in the Donald is that the most common adjective I hear describing him is “crazy.” Now that rings a bell for me; sensible, level-headed Sarah Palin was labeled “crazy” as well. It’s Soviet-style tactics; when a person is a threat to the Powers that Be, and when there is no real dirt against him, the radicals resort to calling the person “crazy.” In the real Soviet Union, the “crazy” dissidents would be forced into insane asylums. Here the “crazy” person is marginalized, insulted, and dismissed, Saul Alinsky-style. Again, another compelling reason for voting for Trump.

In addition, the media absolutely despises Trump. They are targeting and scrutinizing him for every off-handed word or gesture. While candidate Bernie is given carte blanche for every gaffe (for instance, not much air time for Saunders l970s rape fantasy about women), Trump is put under the microscope. If the media doesn’t want President Donald, that’s makes me admire the man more.

There is a last reason why Trump is appealing to me more day by day. I call it the Damsel in Distress Test.

Given the horrific, ever present crime around here, I’ve been asking myself which of the candidates would be most likely to get in a criminal’s face and defend me should I need the protection. For instance, if, God forbid, I was accosted by a criminal, which of the candidates would come to my rescue?

Now we can rule out Bernie Sanders. He wrote an article in his 30s that women like to be tied up and raped by three men And if Sanders is anything like the other males around here, he would never defend a woman on the streets. Like the other men, Bernie would likely defend the perpetuator as the victim because of “privilege” or “social justice” or other such codependent nonsense.

As for Hillary, let’s be real here. She’s a woman. There is no way that she’d get into a street fight defending yours truly. And, like Bernie, she’d likely defend the assailant and blame me for being harassed.

So the only possible protectors would be Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. I don’t know about Cruz’s potential to rescue a damsel in distress. He seems more like a brilliant, academic type who is big on grandstanding about “bombing ISIS back to the Stone Ages,” without actually being a street fighting man.

That leaves Trump. As a bombastic, loud-mouthed New Yorker, Donald would not walk away from a fight or a confrontation. In fact, Donald seems to get energized by a battle of wills. So he is the likely candidate to pass my Damsel in Distress Test.

So who will I vote for when Californians finally get a chance in June to express our preference? That’s a long way off, so who knows. But if Donald continues to be despised, feared, scrutinized, targeted, called “crazy,” and his supporters abused and vandalized (which is all very likely), then he’ll be the right candidate for me this summer and fall.

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Happy Easter!

Christ is Risen!

Surely He Has Risen!

Have a blessed Easter!

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The Fear of the Lord

I came back to my car last night to discover that the side of my car had been dented. This is the second time something like this has happened in a year. And just like last time: no note. Hit and run.

This is small potatoes compared to some of the other crime around here. There have been seven shootings on our main freeway (Interstate 80) just this year, the last one last night. One of the people shot was a toddler. No arrests have been made.

Not counted in the seven figure is the Berkeley elementary school teacher who was shot in January of this year while driving on city streets to pick up her son in Richmond. She has been critically wounded and maimed by being shot in her face.(1)

Now you would think that people would be talking about this, that there would be a public outcry. But no. Very little is discussed, and, in fact, bringing up the topic of the massacre of the innocents only yields platitudes. When I mentioned it to one friend, she said, “It’s the drug culture in this country.”

I’m not exactly sure what that means. If a law-abiding fellow in Idaho owns guns for protection or for hunting, does that somehow compel a person in Richmond (or Oakland or Berkeley) to open fire on freeway drivers? And when did a “culture” somehow become culpable for carnage?

But that would be common sense, something surely lacking in progressive areas like Berkeley. It’s never about personal responsibility. The blame is always laid on the “culture,” “society,” etc. etc.

And a society cannot survive if it doesn’t insist that people take responsibility for their actions. No wonder, then, that the United States is hanging by a tattered thread. The refrain, “It’s not my fault,” is the whining slogan of children, of immature adults, and of those who have been brainwashed to believe that they are always and forever victims.

If you’ve had children you know that kids remain kids until the adults insist that they take responsibility for their bad behavior. But in Berkeley, Oakland, etc. etc. the enablers continually make excuses for crime; they justify and legitimize their own victimization. Ironically and tragically, the teacher in Berkeley who was shot in the face has been part of an agenda — at her school and everywhere else — that inadvertently promoted her own mutilation.

Many of us know where this insane criminality and denial are coming from — the liberal agenda that’s been pushed and shoved on us since the l960s. The agenda benefits many people — the wealthy book writers and professors; those who make five figures giving talks at college campuses; the gargantuan welfare state; and those who make a bundle promoting social justice training. The losers? The American people, especially those of us in the liberal cities, where we are being preyed upon in droves by those who feel entitled to wreck havoc on the deluded.

But the cause of the bloodshed goes much deeper than this. It resides in a culture that has lost its belief in God. Perhaps more profoundly, the mayhem is ever present in people who have lost their healthy fear of the Lord, something that the human beings have had in almost all civilizations for at least two thousand years (hence, the overflowing church attendance prior to the 1960s).

Another example of the loss of this fear of God: there have been a spate of truly demonic crimes at many local churches around here. One was horribly desecrated. Another had many valuable and sacred items stolen or destroyed. Yet another church was recently burglarized during a Mass, with a lot of money stolen. Another, just a few weeks ago was robbed during Mass, having its collection baskets absconded. And I just heard of a churchgoer who last week had her car stolen in broad daylight in a busy parking lot during her church services.

Back in the day, criminals would not have dared to knock off a church. They would have been too scared. It was around that idyllic time period, that they also would not shoot police officers. But now shooting cops is a frequent horror show, with even some politicians exonerating the practice using the same enabling machinations.

But the truth is that God is real. And so is heaven. But the same goes for hell.

And God is incredibly loving and patient and merciful with His fallen and pathetic creatures. However, He also allows human beings free will to choose their fates. If it is unbelief, rebellion, and violence, those humans will bear the consequences — perhaps not in this lifetime, since appropriate punishment in this country is, tragically, rare — but after death. It’s called “Judgment.”

That’s one of the reasons why the Bible states that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear means healthy anxiety but also a profound sense of awe, at how small we are compared to the power of the Almighty.

To think that we can act horribly towards other people without repercussions is the ultimate in ignorance. To understand that we have been made to adore and worship God and to do His will is the beginning of wisdom.

I sometimes wonder: if people understood that hell is real, would they stop their sinfulness? Or would they continue being wicked because they despise God so much that they don’t want to spend eternity with Him?

 The latter is a shocking thought. But, for many people, I think that it might be true. I remember the lyrics of Billy Joel’s devilish song, “Only the Good Die Young.” The songwriter boasts, “They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait. Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.”

Apparently, Billy Joel has made his choice. What will be yours?


1. There were also shootings last week in Berkeley, with several people critically injured. I won’t even go into what it’s like in Oakland. . or SF, for that matter.

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And the Presidential Election Goes to ____________??

I pay very little attention anymore to current events. It just gets me agitated about things of which I can do nothing. However, given the upcoming election, it’s hard to escape the frenzy around Presidential politics.

As for me, I’m not particularly enchanted with any of the candidates. If I had my druthers, Ron Paul would be running, because I like how he combines anti-war policies with fiscal responsibilities. But we got the group that we got, flawed as they are. I’m not ready to predict who will ultimately win. But, in the style of the Oscars, I think that I can announce some winners:

In the Category of Brainiest Presidential Contender:

I think that this one is a tie between Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. Cruz is a razor sharp and accomplished guy. And Hillary was always the smartest gal in her class. I like the idea of a brilliant president for a change. But there are big problems with both of them, as I will talk about in a minute.

Best Family Values

Here, the winner is also a tie, between Cruz and Marco Rubio. Both have picture perfect wives and (surprise) only one of them, as well as successful children. In contrast, we have:

Worst Family Values

This was a really tough pick. Donald Trump has gone from wife to wife, always trading up for a younger, trophy wife. Bernie Sanders has had two wives, a woman that he produced a child with and, according to Wiki, now a “domestic partner. Hillary has stayed by her man, but Bill’s womanizing (as well as accusations of sexual assault and rape) cast a pall on her wifely devotion to him.

So, while I stressed over this one, to me, the clear winner is. . . .. Bernie Sanders. He tipped the scale in his direction by some noteworthy writing that he did in his 30’s (note: not at age 14, though this would have been disturbing enough). He claimed that women like to be tied up and raped by three men. So either the dude is a class A misogynist or so socially autistic that he thought it was okay to put this in writing. Either way, if he’s elected, we’re in trouble.

Most Potential to Get Us Into Another Nasty War

Again, this was a tough one. As Secretary of State, Hillary seemed to enjoy bombing the daylights out of several countries in the Middle East. However, the award in this category goes to Ted Cruz. Apparently, he is hungry to “carpet bomb ISIS back into the Stone Ages.” The problem with this plan is that ISIS is all over the place, so said bombing would involve killing a lot of innocent people. Plus, his proposed bombing would take place mostly in Iran, a country that is not hurting us and where there is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

The Most Heartless Contender

Again, this was a toss up between two people: Hillary and Bernie. Bernie’s incredibly twisted comment about women makes one question whether he seriously needs a heart. But I had to go with Hillary for this award. After she sent the military into Libya (a then secular country that wasn’t bothering us), she giggled with her gal pals something to the effect of: we came, we killed Ghadafi, let’s go eat lunch. Somehow this callousness isn’t my idea of being a successful woman.

The “Black Lives Don’t Matter” Award

This one was a no-brainer. And the award goes to: Hillary Clinton, for declaring how much she admires the eugenicist, Margaret Sanger. Hillary has, in fact, won the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood. Clinton has also received a whopping campaign contribution of $20 million bucks from Planned Parenthood

The problem is that Margaret Sanger was an infamous eugenicist, who wanted to purify the bloodlines partly by eliminating the black population with her “Negro Project.” According to Sanger, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” It’s no wonder that many leaders of the civil rights movement of the 60s were wise to this and opposed abortion.

Sanger talked about weeding out undesirables through birth control, and she accepted an invitation to speak at a KKK meeting. Another quote from Sanger: “Birth control is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit.. . They are human weeds. . reckless breeders. . spawning. . human beings who never should have been born.”

Sanger has gotten her wish; black women now abort their fetuses five times as often as white women. It probably helps that Planned Parenthood locates most of its clinics in black and Latino neighborhoods, and most get abortions for free. All of this. . and the fact that Planned Parenthood has been caught red-handed selling (mostly non-white) body parts makes it a slam dunk that Hillary gets this award.

Person of Most Faith

This one is a tie between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Cruz is a devout Baptist, and Rubio, a faithful Catholic. Both have a strong commitment to living out their faith. Hillary seems like a fairly faithful Methodist, but her super progressive values contradict her stated religious beliefs.

Donald and Bernie weren’t even in the running. Donald states his religion as Presbyterian, though apparently the church that he “attends,” doesn’t have him on the roster. Bernie has claimed in the past to be an atheist, so any affiliation he has with the Judaism of the Old Testament is simply having a Jewish sounding name.

The Scariest Candidate

Again, this one was a toss up. We’ve got Hillary covering up Bill’s sexual abuses and chuckling when Ghadafi died. And Ted is ready to bomb the life out of the Middle East. But in my mind, the winner is Bernie Sanders simply because the thought of an atheistic, socialist President gives me the heebie jeebies.

So how does this all translate for me? Who am I going to vote for when Californians finally get to the polling place this summer? I really don’t know; we’ve got until June to make that decision.

But, you may insist, if you’re going to write a smartie-pants article snarkily dissing all the candidates, the least you could do is say is who you’re leaning towards.

Okay, if you insist. If I had to vote tomorrow, I would vote for:

DRUM ROLE …………………..

Donald Trump. Seriously. I like that the dude knows how to make serious money, something that our country desperately needs. And he has the common sense and the courage to state the obvious: that we can’t have a solvent country if we let in much of the Third World.

Regardless of who wins in November, there is good news in all of this. It won’t be Barack Obama. And if we have managed to survive the reign of Obama (fingers crossed, we still have one more year), I imagine that we’ll survive President Hillary, Ted, Bernie, or Donald.

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

In Berkeley and the surrounding areas, residents put out a lot of garbage. But not like in your town.

Where you live, there is one designated trash day. But around here, every day is garbage day.

What do I mean? Simply walk the streets of Berkeley, Oakland, et al., and it will be obvious. People constantly put out a bunch of rubbish on the sidewalk and streets for scavengers to take.

But by scavengers I don’t just mean the vagabonds who loaf on the streets. I’m also talking about regular Berkeley folks (or as regular as it gets around here).

So for instance, suppose a person has an old television set that hasn’t worked in years. Rather than find a place to haul it, he will simply put it out on the sidewalk. Within hours (sometimes minutes), the TV will belong to someone else.

In your part of the world, this would be considered gauche and classless. I mean, you don’t want to look at your own rubbish. Why would anyone else want to look at it? But here, the fact that the trash put out is unsightly, and sometimes unhygienic, doesn’t matter a bit.

I’m not just talking about the low rent districts around here (of which, by the way, there are none). A few months ago I went to a gathering in the Berkeley hills. While the most rundown tenement in Berkeley goes for close to a million dollars, the houses up there are in the stratosphere. I hadn’t been in the Berkeley hills in years and expected to find a whole different world. But guess what? The streets were also resplendent with people’s garbage.

I saw old computers sitting on the sidewalk, and boxes of worn-out clothes. There were many random objects in boxes, for instance, torn notebooks and aging baby toys. Most common of all were people’s old, dirty mattresses and ripped chairs and couches. It amazed me to think that people could spend several million dollars to see out their windows, not just a majestic Bay View, but a box of their neighbor’s old undies.

Now there are definite negatives to every day being trash day around Berkeley. A friend of mine found this unfortunate fact out not that long ago. She was switching mattresses with her adult son. He put out his mattress for five minutes while they did the switcher-o. And guess what happened five minutes later? You got it — someone was driving off in his truck with her super comfie mattress.

Most of the time, the junk is eventually taken by the various inhabitants of this area. But sometimes, there is stuff that no one wants — for instance, moldy furniture that has been soaked by the rain. Does that compel the homeowner to find a hauler to take the stuff away? Oh, no. It can sit there for weeks or even months, especially if the person found a site other than his own (e.g. an empty lot) to dump it.

Given that this area is filled to the brim with illegals, many of the items are grabbed by them. It’s a familiar situation for them since in the third world, people’s trash is unloaded all over the place. But I can’t just blame immigrants for the garbage in, garbage out.

Many of the finders are native-born citizens, some of whom are quite well-to-do. I have a friend who garbed her sons in clothes from what is called, “The Free Box,” — crappola that residents put in boxes on the sidewalk. Since many of the boxes have clothes for people of all ages, my friend has procured countless garments for herself as well.

It’s not surprising that the sidewalks of Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, etc. etc. have turned into junkyards. Look who the lofty role models are around here. They aren’t the suburbanites with their pristine lawns. The heros are the valiant street people, the transients, who live and breathe and urinate on the sidewalks.

And not just the homeless among us, but the illegals and even legal immigrants who inundated and overpopulate the Bay Area and bring their own cultural mores with them. Since immigration from Europe is now practically forbidden, we house a good portion of the Third World. For many of them, trash on the streets isn’t an uncommon sighting. And how about this one: I was at Target a while back, and this immigrant woman placed her two-year-old son in the sink, and then washed his dirty butt with the water. Disgusting, but not surprising, given that much of the poor, Third World inhabitants don’t use toilet paper, but reuse water from an often filthy bucket.

And, of course, all the bag laws around here have turned even the most well-healed resident into a bag lady (and gentleman). Since we all have to pay good money for paper bags, much of the populace walk around with their used, often food stained and torn, bags. It’s a tiny step from looking like a bag person to acting like one.

The trash around us is both a disturbing reality but also a symbol for a much deeper degradation in our country by the Left. What is even more heinous is the degradation of our people.

Youth go to schools that are not only physically filthy — but that teach filthy things that brainwash the children and destroy their innocence. Youth learn that everything that we used to hold near and dear (love of God, family, nation) is all a lie, and everyone’s behavior and truth, no matter how depraved, reign supreme. Their bodies are exploited and degraded for an agenda, as they are cajoled to have sex young with any which person, and to harm their bodies with contraceptives and abortions. It’s horrible, but not surprising, because there is nothing else that the Left offers but deconstruction and ruination of what is true and beautiful and Godly.

And, as I often say, the main puppeteer of the wrecking crew is not in human form. It’s that old Devil, Lucifer, to whom progressive icon, Saul Alinsky, dedicated his Rules for Radicals book. It is the Enemy who gets the greatest kick out of the voluntary trashing of our streets — and our people.

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Justice Antonin Scalia, Rest in Peace

Being in Berkeley is challenging under the best of circumstances. But Justice Scalia’s death kicks the intolerability up several notches.

The Left takes off its gloves and its illusion of being magnanimous and tolerant after a death of someone like Scalia. Sick jokes and wisecracks about Scalia’s passing are perfectly acceptable and omnipresent around here.

Of course, you can also find a plethora of celebratory comments and jokes online. Apparently, there were videos and snapshots after Scalia died, of leftists living it up with champagne and festive dances. As one person explained to me, with the “depth” of compassion of many progressives: “Yeah he died, but he was an a__________.”

Just like Sarah Palin rape jokes, acting in a sadistic way that dehumanizes conservatives is perfectly okay, if not encouraged, among legions of so-called progressives. It’s amazing to me how people on the Left cannot differentiate between someone’s political opinions and his humanity. In their eyes, the fact that Scalia supported conservative causes makes him fair game for laughing at his death.

This is the mean-spirited behavior that we have witnessed for years, especially the last 8 years. If anyone dares to disagree with the platform of the Democratic Party, they are objects of mockery and hatred. No one is allowed to hold traditional values and still be a person. Of course, this is typical of cult-like behavior, where outsiders are marginalized and demonized.

But I don’t want to dwell on the bullies among us. I want to say a few things about the life and death of Justice Scalia.

Scalia’s life was a model of hard work and success, especially given his immigrant family’s humble roots. Even many of his detractors called him brilliant. He graduated valedictorian from Georgetown University and trained as an attorney at Harvard. Scalia worked as an international attorney, then a law professor, then a judge. He and his wife were married for 55 years, and they raised nine children.

By anyone’s definition, Scalia was a stupendously successful man, who saw hard work, rather than handouts and self pity, as the key to success. But his success wasn’t just material and career. He was a loyal family man, devoted to his wife and children. By the old school standards that he promoted, he was a good and honorable man.

Now for his death. I don’t know what happened. I have no inside scoop. However, the circumstances around his death seem suspect to me, if not outright bizarre. And had it been a liberal judge who suddenly died, there’d be a public outcry for more investigation (if not Occupations and riots).

Justice Scalia was on vacation and had just enjoyed a meal and socializing with friends. Apparently, he went to bed and ended up dead. Let’s face it, It is highly unusual for this to happen. When people are dying, they usually make a lot of noise. They may scream, they may struggle, they may bang, call for help, etc. Other strange occurrences: Scalia was found with a pillow over his head. The judge who pronounced Scalia dead didn’t even bother to come to the scene; she called it in. The police didn’t cordon off the scene and investigate it for possible foul play.

Now does this casual, laid back behavior make any sense when a Justice of the Supreme Court suddenly, and for no obvious reason, dies? The cavalier attitude, the lack of securing and scrutinizing the rooms and the hunting lodge by police, the nonchalant, “well he died, not much we can do, let’s move on,” attitude of law enforcement officials, the FBI, the White House, the media, etc. strike me as odd to the extreme.

But if you say any of this, you’re dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist.” But interestingly the term wasn’t used until 1967 when, purportedly, the CIA first coined the phrase to dismiss anyone who disagreed with the Warren Commission’s conclusion that President Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunmen. Since then, anyone who takes issue with the official story is ridiculed as a conspiracy nut.

Ironically, Scalia seemed to be one of the few people who understand this. He once even warned about current risks to civil liberties, including a possibility of FEMA detention camps. He said this despite the fact that those talking about these things were labeled as (you guessed it) “conspiracy theorists.” As a devout Christian, Scalia had the wisdom and the sense of history to understand that there are nefarious forces out there — both in the human and supernatural realms — who can act with impunity when they want to. (1)

The Justice also understood that there is a spiritual battle going on, an ancient one that began before the beginning of time. He spent his life trying to ensure that he was on the right side, not just politically, but when it came to something much more important — salvation. He knew where he wanted to spend eternity. And I am certain that Justice Scalia, a God-fearing, good and honorable man, is with the angels and our Lord right now and for all eternity.


1. No, I’m not saying that I think that Scalia was murdered. I have no idea what happened. But I am appalled that the matter has been so quickly dropped without a full investigation. If a liberal Justice were on vacation and suddenly died, I don’t think that the media, law enforcement, and the government would be so loosy-goosy about it.

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No Offense

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about a fairly new term, “microaggressions.” Apparently, microaggressions are sexist, racist, homophobic, agist, etc.etc. actions that aren’t exactly actions but subtle, though insidious, insults and offenses that are meant to create domination of others.

Or something like that.

Anyway, since microaggressions are so hard to explain, let me give you an example. Suppose there is an Asian-American girl named Karen who is a sophomore at Any College or University, USA. In her class is white dude, Jason, who has a major crush on the cute young coed. After months of trying to summon the courage, one day he finally asks her out.

He says, “Hey, Karen. Are you doing anything on Friday night? I heard that there is this great new Japanese restaurant that opened downtown and I’m really interested in trying it out.”

Now, Karen could say yes and have a yummy meal or she could politely say no. These days, however, there is a third option, that is: Karen could screech, “So you think that because I’m Asian, I only eat Japanese or Chinese food?! Is that right, kemosabe? And just because I’m Asian, you think you can “try me out,” like a Japanese geisha girl! Well, no way am I ever going out with you, Mr. White Supremacist Pig who thinks that he’s master of the universe!!

None of this would do much to help Jason’s already shaky self-esteem. But these days Karen is apt to make this choice and see Jason’s every word and gesture as a microagression. She’s been whipped up into a paranoid frenzy by her critical gender class and critical race class and critical everything-that-exists classes. So rather than go out with Jason (who may, in fact, be the man of her dreams, her soulmate, her better half; the guy who grows up to make a fortune and give her a wonderful life replete with happy children and houses and who treats her like a queen and devotes 60 years to loving her before dying in her arms), Karen elects to spend Friday night with her angry female friends ranting about microaggressions.

It wasn’t always like it. Once upon a time, males and females shyly got to know each other, and tried to like each other or at least to be understanding. Males knew that females were different, and females recognized the same. They loved each other, often badly, but that was the nature of love: it was organized around family and God and children and doing one’s best, and then when one’s best failed, practicing forgiveness.

Of course, this all changed with the 60s, as did everything else, all the things that weren’t perfect but were plenty good enough were chucked: schools that actually taught the three Rs; a love of country; and a sense of community, a we’re-all-in-this-difficult-world together belief among all people. But now we are all in our own little tribal groupings, feuding and fighting and always braced for being offended.

And all of these folks in their various ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation groups have one primary object of their rage and contempt. You know who he is:

The Straight White Man. He is that shadowy, privileged figure who lives to oppress and dominate and who is responsible for everything that is horrible now and since the beginning of time.

I mean, isn’t this all a bit — how can I put it — idiotic? I mean, isn’t this just the dumbest thing ever? And much of this propaganda is being foisted on our poor college students, who already have enough to contend with, what with calculus, and acne, and bad menstrual cramps.

So why is all of this insanity happening? For one, there is the dark side of human nature, where people prefer to blame someone else rather than take personal responsibility for their lives. But there are also agendas being fulfilled and big bucks being make.

The human hating, depopulation types love the chaos because if males and females are always fighting, they’re not making babies. . . and the race baiters relish it because they make millions on books and campus appearances. . and the Bill Ayers and Noam Chomsky types make a fortune giving lectures. . and the lawyers win big on harassment cases. The losers, however, are the American people, who see the once strong social fabric so frayed that it’s barely hanging by a thread.

And who is the biggest winner in the Battles of the Sexes and of the Races? It’s the Enemy of man and womankind alike, Lucifer. He is the one behind the scenes orchestrating the whole bloody mess, because he loves nothing better than fighting and paranoia and hate. And, tragically, when people start sounding off about this and that supposed microaggression, they play right into the old Devil’s hands.

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I’ve been celebrating Lent this year. As some of you might know, the Lenten season is the 40 days leading up to Easter, where some Christians (e.g. Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans) fast and prayer and do good works. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, where Christians receive ashes in the shape of a cross on their foreheads, to remind ourselves and others that we are all sinners who need the saving power of God.

As part of my Lenten commitment, I’ve decided to do a random act of kindness each day. God knows that Berkeley and the nearby cities desperately need some niceness, that the populace is starving for some decent human behavior. But what I didn’t realize is how hard it would be for people to accept it. I learned this lesson on the first day of Lent.

I was in a local Safeway, which is a national grocery chain. I was waiting on line with a few items, and in back of me was a stressed out mom. She had three young children in tow, a couple of them wailing because it was way past their nap time.

Pleased to find my first recipient of my random act of kindness, I smiled at her and said, “You can go in front of me.” I thought that this would be the end of it, but the young mother stared at me as though I were speaking Swahili. When she realized that I was serious, she protested, saying, “No, that’s okay.”

Seeing that this would be harder than I thought, I insisted. I said, “No, please. Please go in front of me.” 

Reluctantly, and still glancing at me out of the corner of her eye, she gestured to the children to come in front of the (obviously insane) woman in front of them on line.

But before she actually took the gargantuan step of placing her items on the conveyer belt, the mom gave me one final chance to back out. She said, “I actually have more items than I seem to because there are several in my bag.” 

I said that this was okay, that she could bring up as many items as she wants. (At this point, I was close to hollering, “Lady, I’m trying to do an act of kindness because it’s Lent. . .so can you please place your frigging items on the counter!!” — which of course would have blown the whole nice, kindness thing.)

Finally, summoning up some courage and inner faith that maybe things would be okay and that this wasn’t a cruel trick, she proceeded to place her groceries down and pay her bill. After it was all over, she breathed a sign of relief and thanked me.

Reading this, you may be scratching your heads wondering what in the world I am talking about. Where you live, being nice to a stranger wouldn’t elicit suspicious looks. But in this mean, depraved and deprived area, the culture does not encourage niceness, to put it mildly. For instance, if you’re a helpful male who tries to hold the door open for a woman, you may get barked at that she can hold the door open herself. And if you try to help a disabled person, don’t be surprised if he purposely runs over your toes with his wheelchair. (True story, happened to someone I know.)

This is an area where there are so many feral, antisocial people that one never knows when someone will lose it. Giving or receiving kindness may be hazardous to one’s health. And yet I am convinced that some people are truly hungry for it. Case in point.

Not that long ago, I was in yet a different grocery store and was second on a line. A checker opened up the register next to me. Rather than participating in the common practice of mowing people down to get to the head of a new line, I leaned over to the woman in front of me, who was distracted by her cell phone, and gestured for her to go next. Well, you would have thought that I had just rescued a kitten from a burning building.

A couple around my age on another line were smiling and pointing to me. I thought that maybe I had something disagreeable hanging out of my nose, when the man yelled out, “That was so nice of you!” And the woman shook her head in agreement, adding, “You just don’t see anyone doing anything so nice for someone else these days.”

Pleased, though a bit flustered that my basic politeness elicited such enthusiasm, I said to them, “Well it is so nice of you both to notice! Most people wouldn’t even notice that I was being nice.” 

We all smiled at each other for this rare moment of being able to express our humanity; perhaps, we were even transported back to another time and place where civility existed in our worlds.

There are some deep seeded reasons why local people are so wary of each other and keep their heads buried in their IPhones. Given the plethora of mental illness, violence, and political agendas, one walks a gauntlet down the streets. You just never know when someone will get in your face and go off on you, which inevitably leads to a frightened and distrustful populace. As one friend commented when I told her my Safeway story, “The mom was wondering what your angle was.”

And yet to reside among hordes of people and rarely find friendliness creates inner starvation and unfathomable alienation. The lack of human kindness is one of the many reasons why this area is totally unlivable.

Given my experience at the Safeway, whether I can actually find another 39 people who will allow me to do something nice for them this Lent is an open question. I hope and pray so. Because when we’re robbed of the ability to receive and offer kindness, it is not just a very bad thing for a community. It is a bad thing for one’s very soul.

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Stealing Christmas

A friend called me this week with a sad tale. She had purchased a wreath for her elderly mother, who lives nearby and is recovering from surgery. Her mom loves Christmas, especially wreaths. The day after my friend put the wreath up, her mom called her tearfully; the wreath had been stolen.

This follows on the heels of my own story. I was sitting outside recently on an unseasonably warm day. I made the mistake of daring to leave the folding lawn chair outside. And the next day — you guessed it — it went missing.

None of this is unusual. It’s a daily event in these parts. The theft won’t be reported, and the newspapers won’t cite it. There are way too many, more serious crimes for anyone to acknowledge a missing wreath or chair.

And while the murders, muggings, and mayhem are much worse than a missing possession, there is something life-depleting about having to continually deal with theft, trash, and the other insults of life around here. Jules Feiffer, in his prescient 1960s play, described it as “Little Murders,” that is, the psychological and spiritual assaults of urban life. This is a perfect way to describe the SF Bay Area: there are a plethora of violent crimes, for sure, but, more commonly, we must endure the little murders of life.

They are the things stolen, whether it’s a holiday wreath, or maybe something more eviscerating: the assaults on our basic dignity. When you don’t matter, when your things don’t count, this does something to a person deep inside. Pain. Hurt. And the fallout: a life lived angrily and fearfully. A person is on perpetual shut down and lock down, with one’s guard always up. You just don’t know if that stranger walking towards you is a nice guy or gal, or someone who will rob you in a heartbeat or go nuts and yell expletives at you.

This leads to an atmosphere where it’s not safe to make eye contact with another person or smile at him. Doing so would be too exhausting anyway because before you do this, you have to scrutinize the other person. Is he a con man endeavoring to scam you or a thief distracting you or a paranoid person ready to go off on you? Even a trip to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods can seem daunting, threatening, as one wonders whether an antisocial mob will suddenly burst in and riot.

And, in the Berkeley area, people who look like me are often treated differently, sometimes with utter hostility. It’s very un-PC to state this. But it’s true. We’re also targeted by thugs as easy crime victims, whose lives don’t matter that much.

To illustrate, let me tell you about something that happened the other week. I went to a dentist’s appointment in a downtown area. When I was in the building, I encountered a woman who had put herself in harm’s way through some unwise move. I was the only one around, and I ran over to help. I put myself at some risk trying to free her.

Afterwards, with her now safe, I said to her, kindly, “I’m so sorry that you had to go through that.” She looked at me with a face that emanated pure and unadulterated hostility. Hatred, actually. She seemed disgusted that I would even speak to her, and repulsed that her rescuer looked like me, a white person. For a moment, I was even afraid that she might hit me. Instead she said something so mean that it took my breath away. In a weird twist of logic, she somehow blamed me for her own misguided action that endangered her life. While she did not physically hurt me, she cut into my own heart.

This is just one little soul murder, in an area where there are big and small ones every day. Living in and around Berkeley will break a person’s heart. If a person isn’t careful, it has the potential to damage his soul.

And it’s a place where an elderly, ailing woman can have Christmas stolen.

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Life in Hell

I just came back from a trip to downtown Berkeley, an area where I rarely go. I wanted to buy something in a store on University Avenue. In retrospect, I wish I had procured it online.

What can I say: the area is a hell hole. I mean this literally. If you’d like a sneak preview of hell, come to downtown Berkeley — or, even better, Telegraph Avenue. Words can barely describe it, but I’ll do my best by detailing some of the sightings. (Keep in mind that I was only on the streets for about l0 minutes.)

First, there were numerous sirens blaring as fire engines, police cars, and ambulances raced up and down the streets. In your neck of the world, if there were a series of sirens, you’d stop and look up. But it’s so common here that no one peels himself away from his IPhone.

What else did I observe? I saw (and heard) a paranoid, psychotic man screaming at the top of his lungs at the demons in his head. No one reacted — why would they; it’s all business as usual.

I saw a number of transients, young and old, walking around with their life possessions on their backs or in shopping carts. One vagabond was particularly disturbing: a fresh faced young woman, around age 21, tattooed and pierced all over the place, pushing a cart with all of her stuff. In another time and place, she would be attending college or married and having babies. But here she was completely deranged and raging, screaming at a person that only she could see.

Next, I saw a huge pile of trash in the middle of the sidewalk: a filthy flea market of sorts consisting of old clothes, shoes, suitcases, chairs, etc. all splayed out on the concrete, like dead corpses.

Speaking of corpses, I saw on the corner what I call a “bicycle corpse” — also omnipresent around here. These bicycle corpses are locked up to poles all over Berkeley. Once they were someone’s bike, maybe their prized possession. But unfortunately, the person made the mistake of leaving it unattended for a short while. When they returned, the wheels, handle bars, and everything else were stripped, leaving only the skeleton. Happened to me more than once until I just stopped riding a bike.

But I’ve saved the worst sighting for last. The most horrifying spectacle was a 20 something young male, garbed in black, with multiple piercing of his face and an enraged, aggressive look. Now none of this was unusual. However, the male was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word: Deicide, with various demonic images.

For those of you who don’t know the word, Deicide means the killing of Jesus Christ — that is, the killing of God. Only Christians and Satanists believe that the murder of Jesus was deicide, because both groups know that Christ is God. You can decide which grouping this young male fits into.

Now keep in mind that my excursion wasn’t into one of the deepest, darkest ghetto areas of Berkeley, Oakland, or the like. Downtown Berkeley is a high rent district, where residences rent for several grand a month, and new, astronomically priced apartment complexes are springing up like wildflowers. Along with the creepy, the criminal, and the insane, there are tons of young techies, university students, and hipsters walking the streets. For some reason — God only knows why — they chose this God-forsaken area as their landing pad.

Oh wait! — didn’t I do the same thing decades ago, a decision I have lived to seriously regret. Out of all the possible (sane) places in the country to settle down, I chose this crazy one. Why? The temporary insanity of liberalism? Getting stuck and not knowing how to get out? Thinking that it was cool to live among the abnormal? Probably a combination of all of the above.

But, praise God, I woke up from the delusion a few years ago. It had to be God working inside of me, because it is only He who can give a person a new mind and a new heart. And when I came to my senses, I realized that this area is not paradise, but an earthly form of Hades. Now I often feel sorry for myself for being marooned out here and fantasize about how and when and where I can make my escape.

But there are other moments too: when there is meaning in being here; when I realize that I am a sort of missionary in one of the gloomiest places on earth. Missionaries have, for thousands of years, faced ugliness and danger and even worse to bring God’s message to a broken world. It is a great honor and privilege to serve God by being one of His grateful witnesses.

It reminds me of an apocryphal story that I once heard about a Catholic monk who was dying and unconscious. His fellow monks were praying around him that their brother would go to heaven to be with the Lord. Suddenly, the monk regained consciousness and heard their prayers. He said, “No; ask that I go to hell instead.” 

His fellow monks were horrified. One said, “Why would we pray that you go to hell? You are a holy and loving man.” The monk replied, “Where else is love more needed?”

Although I wouldn’t ask to be in hell — either in this life or after it — I do hope to be somewhat of a beacon of light in this dark area of the world. Most of the time, I do it badly. To remain hopeful in a hopeless area; loving, amidst the aggression and hatred; and patient when people around me are blowing their tops; has to be one of the hardest of missions.

I pray every day for help from God with this because I can do nothing without His help. And my prayers have been particularly strong today, after my descent into the bowels of Berkeley.


The next day:

So I had to drive through downtown again today to get to a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t get out of the car, but here’s a bird’s eye view of what I saw: Stopped at a light on Shattuck, I saw the lovely sight of a street woman getting dressed for the day. She probably had lodged on the concrete, and now was arising and putting on her clothes. Good news about her personal hygiene — changing from her bed clothes to her day clothes. But a gnarly sight to see at 9 am in the morning. (1)

Having finished up my medical appointment, I headed back down Shattuck, which was now blocked off by a myriad of police vehicles. I heard a host of helicopters whirling above my head. Those of us on the street were detoured to another part of downtown. I could see hundreds of young people walking in a line up one of the side streets.

My mind was filled with many possibilities: Was Berkeley High School (or Berkeley City College, both nearby) evacuated because of a bomb threat? Was there a school shooting? None of these would be impossible; one local high school had separate incidents of evacuations because of a bomb threat and a shooting just this year. (Later, I checked online and the high schoolers had walked out of school en masse because of some sort of racial epitaph towards African Americans.)

What else happened this week in my world? One of my friends had his car broken into near Telegraph this week, losing his computer, phone, briefcase for work, etc. Again, as common as snowflakes in Anchorage. And something else: I had plans for dinner with another friend on Monday but she cancelled because she was stuck in traffic on the major interstate freeway (I-80). It was shut down because of a shooting there.

That pretty much sums up my week. And it’s only Thursday.

And, yet, the Berkeleyites will exclaim that this is the greatest place ever. . .
as the delusion and debacle of the great progressive experiment, Berkeley, continues.


(1) Berkeley has more services for street people than anywhere else in the world. There are warm beds, lavish several course meals with desserts from fancy restaurants almost every day of the week, hot showers, compassionate counselors, free medical care, a special team of mental health professionals for emergencies, and everything else you can think of. So, while it is very sad that she was sleeping on the street, this was likely by choice since there are warm beds all over the place. (Or she may be too mentally ill to realize that she needs safe shelter, but given the laws out here, involuntary hospitalization is almost impossible.)

I volunteered for a while in a soup kitchen. The guests there ate better than most families in the US. Seriously, I never saw so many courses, appetizers, and desserts in my life. I stopped volunteering because so many of the guests became enraged if they didn’t get the type of cheese and baguettes and hot meal that they wanted. A dearth of gratitude and a surplus of entitlement. Maybe not where you are. . but sure is the case here.

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The Forgetting

Life is a long series of forgetting. . an abandonment of the knowledge we entered this world with, so natural and obvious to anyone, including a child. What is truth, what is deeply known and felt, what is bestowed on us by our Creator, slowly drains from our minds, like water from a sieve.

Sometimes we remember again, usually in bits and pieces, in fragments of memory that pierce the darkness. Like light unfolding into day, we get a hint of what was forgotten; and then we have a choice to make: to keep remembering, or to remain, like an amnesiac, knowing something is missing, but not what it is. . . and if we shut it all down, the remembering stops — sometimes forever.

It wasn’t always this way. For much of history, people knew. Knowledge was passed on from old to young, not through books or institutes of higher learning, but through human beings, through words and gestures. Families holding hands before meals, in prayer; babies carried into churches on Sunday; looming figures like ministers and priests and nuns enveloped in black and white.

Much of the knowledge was inborn and didn’t need to be communicated through words or actions: an innate thirst for God, for higher truth, and life’s meaning. A wondrous awe of this astonishing world and the God who created it; a yearning to be close to Him; and a fear of offending Him. And then heaven and hell, always present in the mind; getting oneself to the former, escaping the latter, and worrying about it, not in the way a neurotic worries about getting a good job or finding a new partner, but the necessary anxiety of a human being desperate to spend eternity with his Master.

What else did we know? We knew what our bodies were made for; all of the parts: the hands and the lips and the private parts; females knew that their bodies were designed to grow and shelter babies and feed and hold them. And men knew that their size and girth were made for heavy work and hunting and farming and sometimes fighting, and their bodies were made to merge with women in this glorious dance that only the Almighty could orchestrate, to create babies and families and build homes and nurture children and shield away the darkness and feel the soft tapestry of life that only a loving woman could knit together.

People knew what their bodies were for and not for; they knew that babies were squeezed out of the body by fervent pushing and sweating; but never, heaven forbid ever, by instruments of destruction, body parts ripped open and yanked away in pieces, in ungodly, unholy, death. They knew what was right and what was wrong; they knew what acts of passion were good, and which were wrong; and if they sinned (because they knew full well what sin was) they shook with fear of the consequences, and they moved heaven and earth to stop this, by going to Confession or praying at church or, on their hands and knees at night. begging Almighty God for mercy and forgiveness and another chance.

And then suddenly everything changed.

* * *

Maybe it wasn’t sudden at all, maybe it was slow, fastidious, carefully planned and executed by people in charge of something new, something radical: The Great Forgetting. The leaders began in other parts of the world — France, Russia, Vienna, Frankfurt Germany — and later flocked to the US, culling their crafts at Columbia, Chicago and Berkeley, learning what works, discarding what doesn’t. And, through painstaking efforts, decades of research, and boatloads of money, viola, a people have been made to forget. A colossal effort, more towering than Dr. Frankenstein and his monster: to teach a people to forget who they love, and love what they should hate. Destroy the hunger for God, eliminate all truth, reconfigure the history books, and (still in process via doctor-assisted suicide) eliminate as many old people as possible so fewer and fewer people remember. And especially target the young people,the malleable, so that if any of them pursue God and truth, they feel dumb, old fashioned, and the worst of all post-modern crimes, “irrational.”

In order to squash the ardor for God and reconfigure a people, substitutes must be created, new things to yearn for, since human beings are made to hunger for something deep and enduring. Now people crave money and the things that money can buy, and the multitudes find fame for five minutes on Facebook or Youtube, and they consume “I,” everything: IPads, ITouch, IPhones, because the newest and most enduring worship is “I” — one’s own shining face in the mirror.

And this spiritual blindness lasts a lifetime, this living miles and miles away from our true selves, our real homes, our reason for taking breath. And occasionally when a shred of recollection bleeds through — perhaps from a friend who comes to us in tears after being touched by God’s grace — we have that choice, there is always that choice: to open one’s mind, to perceive what might be true; but in a culture of amnesiacs, most of the time, the blur of memory is shut down, brushed aside as something unacceptable, something that doesn’t fit into our well-oiled understanding of the world, which is molded by the university degree and the daily dose of National Public Radio.
* *

And yet — and yet what is amazing — maybe even more so today . .. is that there are indeed people waking up. Like Dr. Oliver Sacks’s amnesiacs, who returned from the living dead to once again dance and embrace joy, there are people all around the world who are starting to wake up. A light of recognition turns on, blazes through the darkness and it illuminates their minds and their lives. For them, it’s a New Dawn. . and their happiness catches the attention of others, who are starving to death for something sustaining and real.

And the fortunate people are so unlikely, so unworthy of this grace; and for them, the desert of life erupts into a lush rainforest, and the loneliness and horror of this world system melts away like yesterday’s dewfall. Of course, it’s all God doing this; it is God in charge and steering it all; the Almighty and the All Powerful; and He can and will remove the blinders affixed by the Enemy; and He can make everything ugly, beautiful; and everything sullied, pure; and all of the ignorance of this world into Truth. He can do this; He will do this.

He can do this for you.

He can do this for me.

He has.

He has.

Don’t forget.

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If It Feels Good (Don’t Do It)

I almost got run down the other day. But it wasn’t by a car.

The newest trend out here is families racing their bikes or their skateboards down the sidewalk. I can’t tell you how many times I innocently walked out of a store to almost meet my untimely demise at the hands of a mad adult or child biker or skater.

It’s not just the kiddies who are taking it to the streets. Whole families are soaring down the sidewalk, as though they are racing in the Indie 500. And while skateboards used to be for boys only, now the girls are maniacally whizzing down the street as well — despite all the possible head and other injuries to the tykes. And, since it’s perpetual adolescence out here, the dads are speeding alongside their children, with mom in tow. It’s wholesome family fun, except for a few things.

First, it is illegal to fly down the sidewalks on bikes and skateboards. It is more appropriate for said bikers and skaters to ride in the streets, rather than almost mowing down the innocent. However, given that it is too dangerous to ride on city streets, the parents have decided that the sidewalks are now their own.

You see, people have no room to move around here. The traffic is crazy, and the streets are so narrow that a car can barely get down it. As Cat Stevens once sang, as though for Berkeley: “Where do the children play?”

In addition, the wild bikers and skaters are all part of the, “If it feels good, do it,” vibe around here, which is just a fancy term for entitlement. People pay a fortune to live in matchbox houses. If they want to raise their children to be so self-centered that it’s okay to risk the lives of the elderly, the disabled, and the rest of the population, so be it.

But it would be unfair to just blame parents. The whole area has become intoxicated by the pursuit of self enjoyment. With the influx of young, well-heeled techies driving an inch behind you in their Teslas and BMWs, Berkeley et al. has become an uncivilized area in a supposedly civilized nation.

If the land of the entitlement was simply Berkeley, Oakland, etc., that would be one thing. But the sad truth is that the pleasure and self seeking culture isn’t restricted to our parts. You can see the same thing happening all over the country: this uber entitlement, which is often based on the love of money and what it can buy. Interestingly, I just read a quote the other day about the best way to corrupt a country: make it awash with money. This is what we see happening with the artificially inflated stock market and the current tech boom.

But what about some solid, old-school values, ones that made our country strong and civilized for hundreds of years? How about the Golden Rule (which, for those of you who never learned it, means do unto others what you’d like done for you.). And how about thinking as a community, as a culture, and making decisions based upon the common good? Not so, as people race to do whatever feels good, regardless of the consequences for other people (and sometimes for themselves).

Tragically what I see out here, and increasingly all over the country, is people entranced by their own image in the mirror (or on Facebook) rather than the luminous face of God. St. Augustine wrote in City of God that we can choose to worship God or we can choose to worship ourselves. We can’t do both. But don’t people realize that at the end of their lives, how much money they earned and how many toys they amassed won’t do them a lick of good, especially when they stand before the Judgment Seat?

Ultimately, life isn’t about self-love or pleasures or “rights” or all the things that money can buy. It’s about falling in love — head over heels in love with God. When we love someone, we want to please him. When we love God, we strive to be good, considerate people and to love others.

Perhaps the saying should be changed from, “If it feels good, do it,” to, “If it feels good to God, do it.” Otherwise, whether it’s running amok on the sidewalks of Berkeley, the government, and the courts, in the end, the damage we cause is to ourselves and our own souls.

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Berkeley’s Very Thin Blue Line

When I walk around Berkeley and the surrounding areas, I do something that hasn’t been done for 50 years. It’s when I see police officers.

I make a beeline over to them and say something like this, “Excuse me for interrupting. But I would like to thank you for your service to our community. I really appreciate it. You are that thin blue line that keeps our society from going into total chaos. And I want to thank you very much.”

At this point they just stare at me, having no idea what to make of me or my speech. Am I joking? Being sarcastic? Am I catching them off guard so that I can soon launch into a hostile diatribe?

At this point, I usually add something or two so that they know that I’m serious. After scrutinizing my appearance and finding me friendly, if not a bit unique, one of the officers will smile and say thank you. Maybe even add, “We really appreciate that.”

Now if you live in a sane area of the country, making pleasantries with a police officer isn’t unusual. You may know several of them by name and chit-chat with them outside of a grocery store or a park. But as you can imagine, the police are not exactly viewed favorably out here.

Many of the populace never let go of that 60s animosity towards all authority, particularly the police. And, unfortunately, they taught that same hostility to their offsprings. The last time I saw someone making “small talk” with an officer, the young woman was screaming at him for being an “oppressor” (which bemused the brown skinned officer).

But, really, does that enmity really make sense? I mean, really? Don’t the police put their lives every day on the line for us? They see horrible things that none of us would like to behold, such as bloody crime scenes, dying victims, the sexually assaulted.

Night and day, they go into dangerous areas; they run after robbers, many of whom are pointing guns at them. Would you or anyone you know want to deal with a murder at 2 am in a dicey area of town? And they do all this for less money than your average, 24-year-old programmer makes at Yahoo.

And, yet, so many people in this country hate the police. They shoot at them. They curse them out. In Oakland, a few years ago, two officers made a routine traffic stop; both were shot dead by the driver; the officers left widows and children without fathers.

None of this disrespect, if not outright violence, towards the police would have happened prior to the 60s. Back then, there was respect for authority: police, military, teachers, parents. More importantly, there was a healthy respect for and fear of God. No one in their right mind would lung at a police officer or shout expletives at him. Society back then, of all races, creeds, and colors, knew that for their community and for their country to survive, we needed strong people in charge.

The 60s changed all of this with its Question Authority bumper stickers and attitudes, and its targeting anyone who dares to set limits and say no. Tragically, this adolescent view of the world has persisted in many places around the country, particularly around here. And yet those same folks who despise the police will complain bitterly if an officer didn’t respond quickly when their house was burglarized or their car stolen.

Sadly, the police can’t respond as quickly as they used to in the past. They’re too busy dealing with the Occupiers, the Critical Mass bicycle zealots who hold up traffic for hours; and the protestors gone wild. In high-crime areas such as Oakland, the police force has been decimated, with about 1/3 of them dismissed for lack of funding. Even when then-Mayor Ron Dellums, an African American Democrat, pleaded with the White House for financial help to retain the police, the feds turned their backs on the city.

I suppose this is because many people in the current Administration hold the same views: that the police are the bad guys, and therefore hiring the fewest of them the better. That thinking defies all logic (although easy to hold, I suppose, when followed by bodyguards and the Secret Service). With a drastically reduced police force, crimes of all kind have surged across Oakland, a city, by the way, with a large population of blacks and Latinos. And — hello — aren’t people who loot and rob and mug little old ladies the bad guys, rather than the police? Not for those people living in a time warp.

So for all of these reasons and more, I take a moment and thank an officer when I see one. I let him or her know that someone appreciates him. I don’t know if it makes a difference to the officer. But it sure does for me.

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Gone Fishing?

I haven’t written for a little bit. I might take a long break — or not.

I’m not trying to be coy or provocative here. I really don’t know. I’ve had a ton of ideas swirling through my brain. But every time I try to sit down and start writing, I quickly lose steam.

I’m not sure why. Partly it’s because — well, what else is there to say? Berkeley is a sneak preview of hell, though most of the citizenry think they are in heaven. The country is going to hell in a hand basket. We look a whole lot more like pre-Christian, pagan Rome than we do a civilized nation. There are riots in the streets; politicians and judges who think that the Constitution is an anachronism; and an obscene amount of crime.

This is what happens when a nation rejects God. This is what a country looks like when destroying babies and old people are noble rights, and teaching the Ten Commandments in school is not. All of this thinking about individual rights, versus the common good, destroyed the Roman Empire; and we may be in store for the same.

Of course, I didn’t know any of this too long ago. I thought that everything was hunkie doory; that if I just had “control over my body” to do whatever I wanted with it, that I could rest securely at night. But then the bottom fell out a few years ago, and I realized that everything that I thought was wrong. It’s been a roller coaster ride since, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

It is a relief to finally see clearly without those delusional rose-colored glasses. But even more than this: discovering truths about this world system can lead one to Eternal Truth, the most important wisdom in the world, which is God. And then one discovers that there is no truth, no happiness, there is nada, nothing, without living one’s life with and for God.

We don’t have much control over the madness that has descended upon our country. We have some: for instance, voting and trying to educate those rare, open-minded people, the few that are left. Ultimately, we know that God is control of everything and everyone.

What else can we do amidst the chaos? Pray, go to church, read Scripture. Don’t waste a minute before telling someone that you love him, particularly God. Send your mother a “thinking of you” card, and if she is gone, pray for her soul and remember her fondly.

Perhaps most importantly, work out your salvation, now. Things are looking pretty bleak at the moment. One never knows when the end is near — either personally or the whole world system.

God bless and keep you, my friends.

(Hm. . .I guess that I did have something to say after all.)

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The High Price of Fame

I received an email a while back from a concerned friend, one of the only ones who reads my blog (Okay, the only one who reads my blog.)

She told me that when she went to view it, she instead saw a large yellow banner announcing that my website had been “suspended.” She was worried. Am I okay? Have I been Banned in Berkeley???

Troubled by this myself, I called my long-suffering tech guy to find out what was going on. He checked it out and reported to me that I was using too much bandwidth. Given that I am technologically challenged, I had no idea what he was talking about.

To me, the term, “band width,” evokes unpleasant images of aging rockers from the 60s with large girths who take to the road for one more reunion tour.

So I asked the web dude to explain it in more simple terms. He said that my blog is getting too many hits for my cheap web package. Again, I was confused, as the word “hits” conjures up some of those top ten songs by my former rock heros.

I requested that he please translate all of this in laymen’s terms. (My exact words were, “Can you explain this as though you were talking to a 5-year-old?”)

He said, “Imagine that your web site is an apartment. You are paying for a studio. But you need the space of a three bedroom.” Given that a three-bedroom place out here costs more than the Gross National Product of several small nations, his analogy truly frightened me.

Finally he said, as patiently as he could, “You’re not paying enough money for all the people reading your site. Your site is being automatically suspended every time this happens. If you don’t want to be suspended, you have to pay more money.”

His explanation took me by surprise. Why are so many people suddenly reading my blog? My blog is modest, to put it nicely. No comments, no videos, nothing to buy or sell. . . I don’t even know how to link articles (as you may have noticed, with some annoyance).

Since the tech guy knows more about this kind of thing than me, I asked him why this is happening. He responded, “Maybe it was something that you wrote about Obama.” I told him that I don’t write about Obama. He reflected a bit more, and then said, “Well, the 2016 election is heating up. Maybe people resonated with something you said about the candidates.” I protested that I don’t know who the candidates are, much less writing about them.

He asked me what I did write about (demonstrating that he isn’t one of my biggest fans.) I said, “God, Berkeley, crime, and litter.” After a moment of deep thought, he said, “Hm. . I got nothing.”

The web guy did say that I could log on to my website with some sort of password that I long misplaced and review my statistics. Sensing my eyes glazing over and my brain freezing, he mercilessly stopped talking, that is, once I forked over more money for more bandwidth.

Now I suppose that it’s a high compliment in the Internet world to have a bigger bandwidth. (He also said something mystifying about gigabytes, but let’s not even go there.) Yet I have to admit that I have decidedly mixed feelings about the news.

First of all, my current rate is more than doubling. Secondly, there is this strange sense of denial that takes hold of you when writing alone on a computer. One assumes that no one other then my aforementioned friend, two people in Albania, four in Texas, and one in Idaho are actually taking the time to tune in.

Given that the readership of my blog will likely return to me, myself, and I, and the two people from Albania, I have to wonder: have I shelled out too much bucks for my bandwidth? Will I be like one of those geriatric rocks stars who were once a “one hit wonder” and now are only a footnote in history? Probably. The Internet world is a fickle one.

Ultimately, all of this — and everything else — is in the hands of the Almighty. It’s all up to Him. As the old song goes, “Where you lead, I will follow, anywhere that you tell me too.” And that includes small or large bandwidth.

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Follow the Leader

There are riots breaking out in Baltimore. These follow on the heels of other riots around the nation — Missouri, New York, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, etc.

There is free floating rage wrecking havoc all over the place, with innocents killed, beaten, sent to the hospital; and emotional trauma galore as people are terrorized. Precious police resources are redirected; millions of dollars wasted; and then, other innocents suffer because of police delays.

How does it all start? With the steady drumbeat of the leaders, using phrases developed from decades of studying psychology and propaganda, now pumped into the national consciousness. The messages are both old and new — new in that they are transmitted covertly now too, through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al.

The messages are old also because we’ve seen all this before, in revolutions around the world: divide and conquer, class warfare, and on and on it goes . but this has all happened earlier still, before the beginning of time; the Great Destroyer is behind every action that agitates and destroys, that promotes terror and chaos.

What we see today is the inevitable consequences of people in positions of power who promote mayhem and pandemonium, who agitate grudges, lots of grudges, their own and those who can be easily manipulated. Grudges are harbored, nursed, and fomented until they take on a life of their own.

We have a leadership who once was young but now are old, and they cut their teeth in places that we’ve all heard about, groups organized not to spread love or life, but to crash the system, to overwhelm it, to create vague, diffuse panic, first here, then there, so that no one knows where it’s coming from or from where it started.

They use young people who are lost and disenfranchised to do the dirty work; and, as with most revolutions and wars, the masterminds don’t get their hands dirty. (1) Same with the Internet warriors, those people with day jobs who agitate online, anonymously, trolling, maybe for themselves, maybe for pay.

And if anyone dares to disagree, to balk, to express concern for those young, poor people who are used up, then spit out, there are all sorts of repercussions. . . because that’s how terrorism works; dissenters cannot speak up, they must shut up; and the movers and shakers make sure this happens through their control of Facebook and unions and the easily programmed young people; while the masterminds relax in the evening, in leafy suburbs, in houses worth a cool million from lucrative lecture tours and books still paying generous royalties.

And the dissidents? They get ostracized, marginalized, ridiculed, threatened. Familiar tactics, practiced a hundred years ago in Russia, then China, Cambodia and all the rest. . . . later imported to the US in the 60s, engineered and paid for by those with unlimited cash to do so: foundations, NGOs, nonprofit agencies with names that keep changing.

This is the situation that we have today, though it is easy to become desensitized by it; it’s been several long years of it; it’s easy to start believing that this is how it was in the past. It wasn’t.

So, voting public. I say to you: pay attention not to your fantasies and wishes, not to your utopian visions, which will not take place in this lifetime, no matter how hard you try. Don’t vote with your grudges; vote with love, vote from your better angels.

You are not a cosmic mistake, you are not as low as a baboon or an ape; you are a soul in a human body — remember who you are and Who created you. Listen to the Voice of the Divine who breathed you into existence. If something promotes love, it is good. If something promotes hatred and aggression, it is bad.

And vote next year this way, vote with love. Vote from the kind of love that wakes you up in the middle of the night sobbing because you’re loved by a love that you didn’t even know possible; the kind of love that brings you to your knees because you are cherished and forgiven in spite of who you are and everything that you’ve ever done.

Face it, Mr. and Mrs. America. Face it, voting public. Despite your good intentions, look reality in the face. Things are terrible and terrifying and only getting worse. Destruction, terror, ruination. . . a country hangs by a thread.

Pay attention this time. Align yourself with God’s will. Embrace hope, the real hope, that is, God. He is the only possibility of hope in this broken, fallen world.

Next year, don’t continue to take us down a treacherous cliff. Remember what children do– and adults who don’t have God as their compass.

What do they do? They follow the leader. Blindly.


(1) In the 1980s, a then-young African American reporter, Juan Williams, published an article in the Washington Post. In it, he lambasted the Left for using young blacks as cannon fodder. He demanded that they get their own hands dirty and fight their own wars. Not much is said about this anymore, tragically.

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The Death of Dignity

When I moved to Berkeley in the 80s, the city — and the world — were very different places. You can tell this by my experience procuring a telephone.

Back then, there weren’t cell phones or even wireless ones. The phones had the curly cue wire, boasted various pretty colors, and were free at the local telephone company.

Here that was Pacific Bell; I still recall going up to North Berkeley and picking up my phone. I walked into the office, had a seat in the waiting area, and patiently awaited my turn. Once the rep got to me, he had me pick out a telephone number from several offered to me. Then I got to select the color of my new phone — it was burgundy — and I took it home and plugged it in. It worked.

There weren’t a myriad of choices of plans or providers; it was all easy breezy. And for the cost of the monthly service, everything was free — the phone, installation, and, if there were problems down the pike, a nice Pac Bell technician to come to your house and fix them. And if that pretty new burgundy phone malfunctioned? Just return to the storefront and pick up another one at no cost.

It was the same deal when it came to setting up electricity and water. Just a visit over to the local office, meet with a helpful employee, and, voila, there was light and H2O. Any problems, simply drive over and speak to the worker or call and get a live person.

This was a time before 800 numbers, endless voice mail systems, and interminable waits online. We even had real, 411 operators back then who would politely give you phone numbers — and make suggestions should you need to go to a local hospital. None of this was surprising or unexpected. The focus was on good customer service and doing it right the first time around. Products were made to last; quality and durability were the norm, as in that ad for the Maytag repairman, the loneliest man in the world, because the washer and dryer never broke down.

I suppose that was hyperbolic, since things did break down back then. But not often. I bought a Sony television when it was actually made in Japan. Sadly, I brought it over to the recycling center just a year ago. It finally went caput — after 34 years.

I bring this up not to take a dreamy trip down memory lane. The issue of phone service or electricity isn’t what is important. It’s what these encounters communicated to me, to all of us back then: we were important. We mattered. We weren’t alone to deal with things. People were eager to help — and easily available and accessible.

Fast forward several decades.

At the moment, I am dealing with several maddening situations with large companies, the kind that make you want to pull your hair out. The details aren’t important. You have your own as well, I imagine, with the interminable waits on hold for reps in foreign lands and the futile attempts to find someone, anyone, to help. And yet, no one knows how to do so — or is willing to take the extra time.

And all of these situations send the exact opposite message than I experienced when I moved to Berkeley in the 80s. Now: you don’t matter. No one cares. People are paid to give you as little help as possible, with the hope that you will get so frustrated, that you will drop the matter entirely.

But this blog is not just about the death of good customer service. It’s about something much more soul crushing: it’s the death of dignity. Because when you can make eye contact with another person who wants to help you, it enhances your sense of dignity — as well as that of the other person. Interminable waits and messages of indifference destroy that sense of dignity.

These frustrating situations are the great equalizer among all of us. No matter where we live or how much money we make or whether we have a flat in the city or acres of bucolic land in the country, we all have to deal with the same dehumanizing mess.

It’s no wonder that so many people are at the boiling point and people are demanding their “rights.” However, respect and dignity, just like love, cannot be demanded; dignity cannot be mandated by court decisions and executive orders. It has to be cultivated by a society that cares about human beings.

How have we come to this place? How, in a few short decades, have we de-evolved from a culture where people connected to each other to an alienated one?

I think that it goes back to the culture of death that has saturated the country since the 60s, where human life has slowly but surely become disposable and cheap. In a society where abortion clinics have long wait lists and doctor-assisted suicide is a hot topic, it is no wonder that we are all treated as insignificant objects.

This is what a pagan world looks like devoid of God. The environment, Mother Earth, is more important than human beings. People are now on the same level as animal, vegetable, and mineral — if not worse.

There’s only one cure for the problem that we deal with, and that is a restoration of our country’s basic values: love of God, country, community, family, each other. God is the connecting chain that links us all to each other, that reminds us to love each other as God loves us. Without that, we get what we have today: the death of dignity.

To end, here are some resonant lines from a Bob Dylan song, Dignity

Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel
Thin man lookin’ at his last meal
Hollow man lookin’ in a cotton field
For dignity

Wise man lookin’ in a blade of grass
Young man lookin’ in the shadows that pass
Poor man lookin’ through painted glass
For dignity

Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve
Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
I went into the city, went into the town
Went into the land of the midnight sun

Searchin’ high, searchin’ low
Searchin’ everywhere I know
Askin’ the cops wherever I go
Have you seen dignity? . . .

Drinkin’ man listens to the voice he hears
In a crowded room full of covered-up mirrors
Lookin’ into the lost forgotten years
For dignity. . .

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
I went into the red, went into the black
Into the valley of dry bone dreams

So many roads, so much at stake
So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
To find dignity

–Bob Dylan, Dignity

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“Forget It, Jake. It’s Berkeley. . . and the United States”

I have a friend out here who totally gets it, what a crazy, deluded place is Berkeley. We have a saying that we use whenever describing the insanity around here. We say, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Berkeley.”

The line is derived from the 70s era movie, Chinatown, starring a young Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. At the end of the movie, when Nicholson is emotionally overcome by the moral abyss of Chinatown, the other character consoles him with the line, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

The phrase refers to the grime and grittiness and criminality of Chinatown. But it’s also, I think, a metaphor for what’s going on in the larger society of the 70s, particularly the moral decay in the urban areas. The decadence is dramatically captured in Faye Dunaway’s sick and twisted relationship with her father.

So the last line of the movie is about Chinatown. . but about a whole lot more as well. And when my friend and I say the slogan, we also mean that it’s about Berkeley, but much much more.

Yes, Berkeley is Berkeley. When the populace ignores and excuses the terrible things going on around here, my friend and I say, “It’s Berkeley.” When, for instance, a beloved member of the Berkeley Zen Center is murdered in cold blood, while residents turn a blind eye to the obscene crime rate around here, “it’s Berkeley.” (1)

But it’s not just about Berkeley. Just as the movie, Chinatown, wasn’t simply about a sliver of life in downtown Manhattan, “It’s Berkeley,” isn’t just about a small city in Northern California. Berkeley is not just a metaphor but an example — albeit an extreme one — of what could happen and is happening to many areas all over the country.

While there are pockets of upstanding citizens still throughout the US, the numbers are shrinking. One can tell a lot about a country by its government and its laws and the political discussions on people’s minds.

For the last 7 years or so, people have casually talked about whether or not to “Kill Granny.” And what does it say about a society when a newsmagazine — that is, Newsweek — glibly and callously even runs a cover story like that?

But the topic of euthanasia hasn’t simply been interesting cocktail party conversation. In hospitals all over the nation, older people and the disabled are being given lethal doses of opiates under the guise of making the patient “comfortable,” sometimes while their loved ones stand helplessly watching. And, as I write this, our legislators in California are considering making euthanasia legal, using the manipulative, misleading term, the “Right to Die.”

It’s no wonder that living, breathing people are now viewed in such a cold-hearted manner. Human life is no longer honored and cherished as precious gifts from God — that God created; and it should be up to Him when a person dies. Millions of lives have been snuffed out by abortion, by some estimates, a third of the current young generation. And the current estimate of 58 million abortions in the US since l973 is lowballing it since the most populace state, California, has stubbornly refused to keep any statistics, defying federal mandates.

Not coincidentally, church attendance in our country is low, perhaps its lowest ever. Maybe the only reason that many churches are still open is because of immigrant believers from countries such as Mexico and the Philippines. Ironically, while American missionaries used to travel to the Third World to introduce God to the people, now they come here, thereby maintaining some semblance of Christianity in the US. When it comes to native born Americans, though, few seem to need the Almighty anymore for forgiveness, guidance, comfort, for life itself.

So we have a culture, like the movie version of Chinatown, in moral free fall. It’s no wonder: we cannot have a sustainable, enduring country without God, just as a baby cannot survive without a loving adult to care for him. When we try to take matters into our own hands, we see what we have today: rampant crime, racial strife, high rates of suicide, depression, and alienation. Death, darkness, and destruction — just how the Enemy works.

As my friend and I often say when we behold daily the darkness of Berkeley, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Berkeley.” But we can’t forget it, none of us can; the future is in all of our hands. Because it’s not just Berkeley or Oakland or San Francisco; the same darkness is eroding people of all ages all over the country. This is inevitably what happens when a people abandon God.

And we don’t want to one day be saying to each other, “Forget it, Jake. It’s the United States.”


(1) For more information on the murder, please see the article below, We are Helpless.

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In Defense of the Poor

My father grew up dirt poor, with not enough food on the table. You could tell by the way he ate.

He didn’t chew, but instead inhaled his food, as would a starving man. He consumed it all so rapidly that the meal was gone in a few seconds flat.

As a child, I never learned that one is supposed to wait for all diners to receive their food before starting. My mother would give dad his plate, and by the time the rest of us got ours, his would be long gone.

My mother’s family was poor as well, at least by today’s standards. The family of four lived in a small, two room walk-up in the Bronx. When my parents married, he moved in as well, making five of them. When my brother was born, that made six.

The only view from the window was the subway, located only a few short feet away. As the train whizzed by noisily 24/7, conversation would continually be brought to a stop.

Although my family grew up poor, they were good, hardworking people. It would never have occurred to them in a million years that, because they were poor, they should become criminals. Even when my dad’s family had little to eat, they never stole. They were an immigrant family, proud to be Americans. They never would have done anything to tarnish their reputations or that of their fellow immigrants.

If they had stolen, the strong arm of the law would have crushed them mercilessly. Back then, there weren’t any excuses or justifications allowed for criminal behavior. If a person did the crime, they would do the time. Before the l960s, a single act of theft could have landed a person in the jailhouse for several years. And back then, the prisons were bereft of gyms, copies of The Communist Manifesto, and gluten-free, vegan meals.

Now things are so different. Not only is there an astonishing amount of theft, assaults, and worse on a regular basis, but the attitude towards crime and criminals has radically changed, at least among the duped.

Case in point: I found out recently that there have been a rash of break-ins near my block. Most have been burglaries, that is, no one at home, though this is bad enough. But some have been robberies, home invasions, with occupants held up and threatened as well. Obviously, I have found this to be a frightening and unacceptable bit of news.

The neighbor who told me this was alarmed as well. But then she added, in that concerned and sympathetic voice that I know too well, “It just makes me feel sad that people are so desperate because of the economy to do these things.”

Translation: the reason that people in my parts are robbing, burglarizing, assaulting, etc. is that they are poor. They need the money to feed their families, or else starvation, and soon thereafter, riga mortis will set in.

Of course, this scenario is utterly ridiculous, given the generous handouts around here — welfare, Food Stamps, county and city food banks, and several-course free meals most days at local churches and People’s Park. I retorted, “They aren’t robbing because they are poor. They are sociopaths. They are drug addicts trying to get money for drugs.” She looked at me with that shock I also know too well. “Well, that’s probably true,” she says, then making an excuse to have to run off. If truth doesn’t fit the Official Story, then cognitive dissonance sets in, and it’s adios amigo.

Most people around here believe the very same thing: that the epidemic of break-ins and carjackings are due to the economy. Difficult economic conditions deprive human beings of self-control or free will. Low socioeconomic status equals criminality.

But this makes absolutely no sense. First off, there has been an obscene amount of crime around here since the l960s. Could the economy be blamed for 40 or 50 years of mayhem?

More importantly, poor people are not morally deficient. Throughout the world, people are poor, and yet they remain moral. My family was poor, and yet they did not steal. And back then, there was no government assistance.

Why then do people steal? They steal because they feel entitled to by a culture that continually stirs up envy, hatred, and class warfare. They steal because they can get away with it, particularly around here when even the victims excuse it. And they steal because they’ve lost their innate fear of God and for authority.

To observe so much criminal activity around me is disturbing enough. But what is particularly vexing is the attitude of the populace. It is codependent; it enables and promotes bad behavior, which doesn’t do the perpetuators or the victims any good. But even more than this, the attitude is an insult to poor people. There are plenty of lower income people in my area — and everywhere — who are law abiding. They don’t feel that their socioeconomic status allows them to take what isn’t theirs.

Some are native born Americans — blacks, Latinos, whites, etc. — who have been raised in adverse circumstances. And yet rather than preying on others, they work, go to school, join the military, perhaps receive government assistance for a while — somehow, some way trying to better their lives.

Others are immigrants families from Cambodia, Kenya, India, Mexico, El Salvador. . and all around the globe. Many, like my family, are grateful to be in this country, and want so much to be good Americans.

They want to make others proud, to reflect positively on their culture, and to contribute to the common good of the country that has adopted them. And my guess is that they wouldn’t appreciate the prevailing viewpoints out here: that they are so wild, primitive, and morally bankrupt that, because of limited money in the bank, they can or should become criminals.

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“Oh, Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz?”

The other day, I saw a brand new Maserati racing down College Avenue. I was totally shocked.

Once upon a time, you couldn’t find a luxury vehicle around here, much less a gazillion dollar car, like a Maserati. It was a rare sighting to even see a Beamer. People drove beat up Volvos, Suburus, and Civics. Which didn’t mean that plenty of people couldn’t afford a Mercedes or BMW. But they chose not to purchase one.

In the rare instance when someone owned a luxury vehicle, he kept it hidden in his garage. He’d take it out for a spin on the freeway heading out to fancy Sea Ranch or Squaw Valley. But he’d never dare to drive the thing around town.

Why? This was an area where people looked down on any conspicuous consumption. If someone drove a high-priced car around town, people would have been appalled.

I still recall when SUVs first became a hot item. I had an activist friend at the time who got in a driver’s face and screamed bloody murder at her for driving a gas guzzler.

But so much has changed around Berkeley that I can barely recognize the place anymore. Now there are Mercedes and Lexuses and SUVs all around town, with the aging Volvo being the rarity. It’s a rare day when a bright, shiny Mercedes or BMW or Tesla isn’t tailgating me angrily.

Berkeley has always had a large population of the affluent, since it costs a small fortune to live in the nicer areas of town. But that small fortune has morphed into something completely unrecognizable. as rents soar into the stratosphere, even in crime-plagued areas. A tiny studio in a dicy area of town would be a bargain at $2,500. Sadly, long-timers are being forced out of here as the whole place becomes unlivable.

I’m not sure why there has been such a sea change vehicle-wise and otherwise in a few short years. Part of it is that SF, Berkeley, Oakland, etc. have become magnets for young techies. Making a ton of cool cash at Facebook and Google, they are renting or buying up much of the (rare) available places around here. Although many of them have been raised by alternative, hippie parents, the young ‘uns have rejected the old folks’ values, loving those sports cars and fancy gadgets. Money is absolutely not the root of all evil.

There are also a lot of Chinese nationals who’ve moved here these last few years. Speeding down the streets of downtown in a black Mercedes isn’t considered anathema for them in the least.

Like Berkeley, SF no longer resembles its former self, particularly the Mission District. For decades, there were cool, ethnic restaurants there, alternative theater, and Mexican take-outs. Now Carlos’ Taqueria has been replaced by Mr. Phil’s, as Phil’s coffee shops dot the landscape. The Bay Area is starting to get so gentrified that one thinks of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and how those cheap eats I knew in the 70s, from falafels to knishes, are long gone, replaced by upscale, designer stores.

And, yet, the interesting thing about my area is that, even with the technies and others with uber bucks moving in, the streets are still trashed and the crime rates are obscene. When New York Mayor Guliani made the city safe again for wealthy families and singles, he did this by criminalizing quality of life offenses, such as aggressive panhandling and graffiti. He stopped the menacing men who were forcing stopped cars to pay for washed windows. Guliani communicated loud and clear to the hooligan population that their time was up.

There is no such thing happened around Berkeley. It’s business as usual for the homeless, the paranoid, and the criminally-impaired to continue causing mayhem in the streets.

A burning question: will the yuppies around here demand more safety for their children, themselves, and their property? Will the leaders be forced to do a clean-up job like Guliani did in NY? Or will the inhabitants remain so socially conditioned (not to mention scared to death to open their mouths), that Berkeley and the local environs will be a fancy dancy area of the mega rich that remains filthy and sinister?

Time will tell. But my money (what little I have of it) is that Berkeley will remain Berkeley. I don’t think that there’s any amount of Google money or Chinese money that will change what is somehow built into the DNA of this place: political correctness, denial, and a kind of a mass trance. But the populace will now pay an extraordinarily high price for it.

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“We are Helpless”

The National Rifle Association sells a popular sticker to be affixed to members’ front doors. It reads, “We are not helpless.” The sticker communicates to any possible hoodlums that the occupants own firearms.

There could be an apt sticker for Berkeley residents as well. It would read, “We are helpless.” This is not just because only an infinitesimal number of residents are armed. But because the attitude and behavior around here unintentionally exude helplessness.

For one, horrific crime happens on a regular basis with nary a peep from the citizenry. For instance, when the head gardener at the Berkeley Zen Center (1) was stabbed and killed in an apparent carjacking last October, the silence was deafening.

There were no letters to the editor lambasting the horrific rates of black on white/Asian (2) crime out here. No one had the audacity to show up at a city council meeting and demand more hiring of police. There were no protests, no riots, no Occupations, not a peep out of the populace. It was business as usual, which in this region means complete and utter denial. And the result? Helplessness.

Part of the reason for the silence may be that horrendous crime happens all the time around here. Murders are (generally) reported. But the attacks, muggings, assaults (sexual and otherwise) — infrequently. The campus newspaper — the Daily Cal — wouldn’t be able to cover the news about tuition hikes and football games with Stanford if they were devoting their space to all of the campus and city crime.

And it’s just not Berkeley that is ravaged by random street crime. The nearby cities, particularly Oakland, Richmond, Emeryville, El Cerrito, have a barrage of bloody, gruesome crime of its own on a regular basis. And, yet, one wouldn’t know it from the attitudes of the people who live around here.

This is where helplessness comes in. Because if people don’t actually talk about reality, then terrible things happen. It’s simply common sense: if bad people aren’t stopped from doing bad things, they do more of it. They become brazen. And they attract more bad people to do bad things as well.

So why, then, can people not see what is going on before there eyes? Given that a local, beloved, gardener at the Zen Center can’t walk to her car after a wedding without being bludgeoned to death, why do people not see the danger to them and their loved ones?

I imagine much of the denial is the massive social programming that has been inflicted around here since the l960s. We have a well-trained populace of aging Baby Boomers, their offspring, and even the next, groomed generation, all who have been thoroughly trained in “tolerance.” Tolerance around here means putting up with the most antisocial behavior — street swindlers, illegal aliens selling strawberries in your front yard (3), crime to you and your children — all in the service of being nice and tolerant.

Put bluntly: people are terrified about actually stating the obvious for fear of being called racist. Therefore, no one asks legitimate and reasonable questions:

“Hey, I know that most black people are law-abiding, good citizens. Berkeley, Oakland, etc. have a large, population of wonderful, often affluent blacks. But, gee whiz, I can’t help noticing that there is a large black ghetto population raised in terrible life circumstances. While most of them are law-abiding as well, too many take their rage out on white people. This translates into an obscene amount of crime. And I can’t help wondering if this black-on-white crime is not just opportunistic, but racial, given the whipping up of blacks by the media and the schools to hate white people. Anything we can do about this? I mean, wouldn’t people be concerned if the situation were reversed, and innocent black people were being preyed upon? Wouldn’t Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, even Obama, be all over it?

Isn’t everyone’s life valuable — black, white, and every color under the rainbow? Aren’t we all children of God, deserving of protection, safety, and respect? It scares me and hurts me to see so many innocent people bloodied, raped, beaten, or even murdered.”

But nope. No one will say a word. It’s almost as though people would rather die than be politically incorrect.

My friend, the conspiracy theorist, thinks that all of this insanity is being manipulated from beyond. She thinks that Berkeley is a massive, social experiment in cultural conditioning and programming. She thinks “they” are trying to prove how a populace can be controlled to forego their own safety, and that of their loved ones. . and that this is being done in preparation of the same twisted social experiment being perpetuated on the rest of the population.

Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. I haven’t a clue whether the madness of Berkeley is spontaneous or by design. Perhaps there are people “out there” studying us, like rats in a cage. Or maybe Berkeley is simply the inevitable consequences of pure, unfettered liberalism.

No wonder that the adage says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” But the unique absurdity of Berkeley is that the residents around here (unlike those in other crime ravaged cities, such as, Newark and Detroit), think that they are in living in paradise.


(1) It’s supremely ironic that the woman murdered worked and meditated for decades at the Berkeley Zen Center. The real Buddhism, as taught by the Buddha, focused on being mindful of what is actually happening. But American Buddhism has, for about l0 years or so, been co-opted by the left to be an extension of the social conditioning. There are massive amounts of money, from foundations and the government, pouring into the universities and public schools and even places of employment to train people in the so-called “mindfulness.” It’s common for our school children to undergo the training. But rather than mindfulness being about awareness, the focus is on becoming more “generous,” “kinder,” etc. etc. Mindfulness has become just another code word for mass hypnosis, that is, turning much of the populace into mindless sheep, particularly youth.

(2) A few years ago, a brave San Francisco Supervisor, of Chinese descent, held a press conference to publicize the astronomical amount of black on Asian crime in the city. Nothing came of it. I think it has partly to do with the racist idea that since so many Asians are successful, they don’t need protection when targeted as a racial group.

There is the same racial targeting of Asians in Berkeley and the surrounding cities, with occasional widespread, takeover robberies of Chinese and other Asian restaurants. Again, the silence was deafening when two Indian brothers, recent immigrants, were murdered in their Richmond restaurant. Nothing was stolen, leading to the suspicion that it was a gang initiation, all too common around here.

Same silence for the Indian immigrant taxi driver who was murdered around the same time and in the same area. The taxi driver was sitting in his cab between fares. Incidentally, the location of his cab was across the street from the police station.

In addition, an elderly Asian woman was taking her morning walk in the very same area, the El Cerrito/Richmond corridor, when she was raped, beaten unconscious, and dumped into a big pile of tires at a local tire store. She died about a year later. She never regained consciousness.

(3) A new-ish trend: illegals selling strawberries on street corners, sometimes right on people’s lawns. When police are summoned, they say they can’t (or won’t) do anything about it (despite the strict laws around here about selling food on the street). Apparently, many of the sellers are being brought in illegally and then become virtual slaves to the various cartels and others who will use them. Again, just another example of the chaos and mayhem that inevitably follow when laws are allowed to be broken.

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“Everywhere-You-Look Rage”

You can tell what’s important to a culture by the number of words it has for certain things. For instance, among the Eskimos, there are a multitude of words for “snow.” Obviously, snow is quite vital to Eskimos. What’s important in the United States? Apparently, “rage” since we have a whole lot of words for it.

There is “road rage,” which, everyone knows by now, describes those screaming, cursing, tail-gaiting loonie tunes behind wheels (which we call around here “Bay Area drivers”). Then there is “going postal,” coined after those mad postal workers who went berserk-o on the job.

New terms for rage are popping up on a regular basis: one is “sidewalk rage.” Apparently, this means an average citizen going insane not while driving, but while walking.

Then there is, “pet rage,” that is, when a law-abiding citizen goes ballistic on a pooch. This word has been applied recently to a sad case in the tony, East Bay town of Kensington, where a jogger apparently had a serious case of “pet rage.”

A woman was walking her dog (off leash, against the law) near a Kensington elementary school. The small pug apparently ran over to a jogger who kicked her away (the dog, not the owner). It was a powerful kick; the dog went flying, which led to the pug’s premature demise.

The story inflamed heart strings all over the country. Newspapers, from east to west, covered this purported case of “pet rage.” (By the way: I like dogs just as much as the next person, but I sure wish stories about people being horribly abused around here would capture the attention of the local and national news as well.)

The opinion from the cyber public on the “pet rage” story seems divided between those who, having had more than a few run-ins with unleashed dogs, side with the jogger. The rest feel he overreacted and that the dog walker was in the right.

As for me, I’m a bit divided on the subject, given that I live in an area where there isn’t just road rage, people going postal, sidewalk rage, and pet rage. Here we have “everywhere-you-look rage,” which basically means people losing their marbles about pretty much everything. That’s what happens to a population under continual stress from bumper-to-bumper traffic, sky-high housing costs, aggressive panhandlers, and an obscene amount of street crime.

Personally, I’ve been almost run over by many a runner, who won’t allow pedestrians, cars, little old ladies in wheelchairs, etc. to stop him or her. But while many joggers are a danger to the public, bicyclists and skateboarders take the cake. It amazes me to see little girls, with their mothers close by, racing down the sidewalk on skateboards, almost mowing down anyone who may be in their way. And then we have the truly maniacal bike riders, who never found a stop sign or red light worth slowing down for.

Of course, I’ve been accosted on many occasions by those off-leash dogs, for instance, on the sidewalks, parks, and even in banks and drug stores. You can be trying to relax with a cup of tea and a muffin at a sidewalk cafe, when all of a sudden Rover is jumping on your lap to procure your pastry.

The reason that we have “everywhere rage” around here is pretty simple: it’s because people do not follow the rules. When people don’t follow the rules, it creates chaos. Chaos makes one feel afraid and threatened, which can lead to acts of rage. Thus, people flaunting the law simply because they want to, and because the authorities let them, leads to an uncivilized, frenetic, and, yes, enraged populace.

To restore some emotional balance to all of us out here means restoring law and order. But what do you do when so many people feel that the rules shouldn’t apply to them?

Not much, I’m afraid. Road rage, sidewalk rage, pet rage, and everywhere-you-look rage will be the norm around here, not the exception. Sadly, human beings and little pugs will end upon the receiving end of all of this rage when grown adults and undersocialized children are unwilling to follow the rules.

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Prayers of the Faithful

If you know my back story, you understand that I’m one of the last people on the planet to become a Christian. Actually, maybe I am the last person on the planet to become a Christian.

So I often wonder why: why me? Why now? How in the world did this happen?

Of course, it’s all God, with me having (finally) the good sense to assent. But I also wonder about the impact of the prayers of others.

Today, I heard on the radio a beautiful story of a woman in Columbia, who sustained massive burns from an injury. A man, a total stranger, heard about the woman’s devastating injuries. Falling on his knees, the man begged God to save his “little sister,” this woman he didn’t even know.

The woman survived her injuries, renounced her selfish and materialistic ways, and found her way to Christ. She became a Christian by saying yes to Jesus, a truly courageous decision in this very anti-Christian world.

Moved by this grace-filled story, I think gratefully of the people over the years who have prayed for me. I think in particular of a young, male friend, who did some deep praying for me some time ago when my faith became shaky.

I think of those of you out there in cyberland who have prayed for me as well. I may not know you, but I will always have a special place in my heart for you. A while back, you read about me, and you prayed for me. . . helping to pray me into God’s welcoming arms. You cared, you believed; you knew that I craved something that you had, though I didn’t know what it was. Today, and all days, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And now I pray for others out there, whom I know and do not know. Perhaps we can all be like the unknown man in Columbia, whose heartfelt prayers helped the severely injured woman survive and find her way to God. Maybe we can look around our world and ask God the same thing, “Please save my little sister,” or “Please save my little brother.” Ultimately, by doing this, we may save not just another’s life, but our own.

On a related note, today is a special day for Catholics all over the world. It is a Solemnity, the Annunciation of the Lord. It marks the day when Jesus was conceived. The Annunciation is when the angel, Gabriel, came to Mary, saying, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with You.” And she responded to this surprising news with great courage and meekness of spirit by saying yes. May all of us have the courage to say yes to God’s call.

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The Wild Turkeys of Berkeley

There are a whole lot of turkeys in Berkeley. No, I’m not being snarky.

We have real, live feral turkeys all over the place, in people’s yards, the streets, and public parks. Before you think, “Oh, how cute,” let me tell you that these creatures are problem children. They poop all over the place; they squawk at all hours of the day and night. And even worse, they have come to rule the roost by blocking traffic.

These wild turkeys cause near car accidents every day, as they obstruct traffic, refusing to back up even if cars come close by. With menacing looks, the turkeys will block in drivers, even attack cars. I’ve seen drivers try to back up, while turkeys move towards them, barricading the poor driver in his car.

Once I saw a female driver so locked in by turkeys outside of my house that I ran out to help her. Wielding a broomstick, I gestured and yelled at the turkeys. They eyed me aggressively before finally flying away. The woman, by then scared to death, thanked me profusely and added, “I’m from out of town. How do you live like this?” (Something, by the way, that I ask myself everyday.)

Now, the burning question is why are these “wild” turkeys no longer wild? Why is the only wild thing an older woman (me) hollering like a maniac outside of my house?

Why have these turkeys become so brazen in an urban area? Why have they lost their fear of humans?

The critters have obviously been coddled and protected for so long, that they are in charge, not the humans. In these parts, you’d be taking your life in your hands trying to get rid of these large, aggressive, and (in my opinion) nasty critters. While Berkeley-ites would never dare to touch the hair of a turkey, you’d be road kill should you dare lay a hand on one of them.

Now, my story of the Wild Turkeys of Berkeley is not only a true tale, but a metaphor. Because the turkey example applies not just to animals, but to many humans around here — and most everywhere — who have lost their natural, inborn fears. People, just like creatures, act in anti-social ways partly because they are allowed to.

Since anything goes around here, teens will curse and act unruly in public even if grown-ups are nearby. Since Berkeley (and the nearby cities) promote Question Authority, some of the kids, like the turkeys, think they are top dog. Calling one’s mom or teacher the “b” word makes perfect sense in an area (and a culture, via the sick and twisted media and music) that promotes disrespect for those in charge.

But I don’t just want to blame the children. There are plenty of manchilds and womanchilds who do their own thing, regardless of whether the behavior is legal or appropriate. Laws are flaunted; police are screamed at; people unabashedly walk Fido into stores, defying the conspicuous signs that read, “No Pets Allowed.”

And it’s certainly not just Berkeley. We can see people doing their own thing all over the US — as well as beyond. Like the Wild Turkeys of Berkeley, scores of people have lost their inborn fear.

On a deeper level, what has happened, I think, is not just that so many youth don’t respect parents, and workers don’t respect bosses, but that people have lost a healthy fear of God. When the Ten Commandments were removed from schools and prayer banned, there was a sea change in youth, as well as the adults. Along with this came the epidemic of atheism and the bizarre belief that we are simply animals, not Divine souls in human form.

So if people now think that they are just wild beasts, why not act like one? If there is no meaning to life, then anything goes. And most importantly, if there is no God, then there are no consequences, both in this life and beyond.

When we were a country steeped in faith, most citizens had a healthy fear of sin, and Judgment Day, with the very real possibility of hell. It would be hard to beat up a little old lady or start a riot if ultimately it means eternity tortured by the fires of hell. But with a good chunk of the populace not believing in anything outside of themselves and this one life, anti-social behavior and mayhem are out-of-control, particularly around here.

Scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Healthy fear of God is what tames and civilizes a person and a nation. Without it, well, we have what we have today, rampant crime and unrest especially in the most un-churched (1) area of the country, the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fear of the Lord subdues and controls the natural predilection of humans towards selfish behavior. But it goes further: it creates a profound reverence, awe, and love towards God that makes a person truly human. When one loves God, we want to please Him. We don’t want to wound or, worse yet, severe our relationship with the Beloved. This means trying our best to be a good person, and, when we fail, experiencing some healthy guilt and shame.

But words like guilt and shame are as frowned upon these days as those other forbidden words: heaven, hell, sin, and Judgment. Life has become a free-for-all in a culture in free fall.

Tragically, the world resembles those pre-Christian, pagan times, with its barbarism. From what I behold every day, it’s hard to know anymore who are the humans and who are the wild beasts.


(1) I heard of a survey that the SF Bay Area has the fewest people in the country who go to church. And yet there is widespread anti-social behavior, riots, hellish schools, and astronomical crime. Hm. . .could there be a connection?

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Berkeley Traumatic Stress Disorder

You’ve no doubt heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People may suffer from PTSD after an assault or from living in a war zone. In Berkeley, we have our own version of PTSD: I call it Berkeley Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Most people know that PTSD exists. If a loved one returns from the military or leaves an abusive partner, we understand that they may suffer from the legacy of trauma. But in Berkeley, BTSD is a hidden disease — though the signs of it are everywhere.

BTSD isn’t a new disorder; it has existed since the 60s. Then the radical groups, such as the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, and the Symbionese Liberation Army (kidnappers and rapists of then Berkeley resident, Patty Hearst) unleashed a reign of terror all around the area.

I wasn’t here then, thank God. But apparently, there were bombings and frequent evacuation of buildings and death threats. The National Guard was called in, and curfews were enforced.

BTSD circa 2015 may actually be worse than in olden times. (1) For one, the Guard isn’t being brought in. Consequently, our local, overworked police have to deal with the unpredictable riots, while being cursed and screamed at and victimized themselves with thrown bottles and worse. Further, the only ones on curfew are law-abiding citizens, firmly ensconced behind locked doors in the evening and sometimes during the day.

And with current day BTSD, there is widespread, isolating denial. I imagine back in the 60s, having the National Guard on the corner reminded the residents that it wasn’t business as usual.

But it’s a rare person here who will admit that we live in a madhouse, a war zone, a region that defies normalcy or common sense. People are just oblivious, like those Seattle folks jogging, playing tennis, and hiking in the frigid, pouring rain. In Seattle, the oblivious hikers just get drenched. Here we get preyed upon.

I spoke to a friend the other day who has a serious case of BTSD, although she never would admit it. The poor woman has to take buses to get around, an often harrowing experience. She sits on the bus with headphones on, trying to block out the bloody fights and explosive rage that take place on a regular basis.

Not surprisingly, the woman has nightmares, feels deadened, and spaces out much of the time. She concedes that even after decades in other cities, the East Bay is the most violent and aggressive place she’s ever lived. But she tries to put on a happy face when reciting the perennial Berkeley mantra: “But we’re so lucky to live here!!! It’s beautiful, and the weather is great!”

And then there was the acquaintance I caught up with the other day, who told me that her highly coveted North Berkeley house has been broken into yet again. This is the third time in a year, not counting her car break-in. And yet if she tried to sell her house tomorrow, there’d be a bidding war for it, with offers well over a million dollars, even if the frequent burglaries were disclosed. When I asked my acquaintance whether she’d consider moving, she protested, “But I love living around here!”

Another sign of a traumatized population: the insane road rage, as agitated drivers speed like their lives depended on it (maybe their lives do depend upon it). I was tailgated by a bus yesterday, and the day before that, by a mad mail truck. . . not to mention the average, incensed driver.

Tragically, BTSD takes its tolls on everyone, man, woman, young and old. You can see it in the hardened faces and averted eyes and the hair trigger tempers because everything is always so hard and futile (parking spaces; decent, affordable housing; jobs). Life can feel like one arduous, frustrating, uphill climb, a fight for survival that can break one’s spirit.

Having no personal power decimates courage, and kindness, and hope; it erodes everything that makes a human being, human. Powerlessness is discouraging in the true sense of the word; it decimates courage.

Maybe saddest of all is the abject loneliness around here, the distrust, the every-man-for-himself mentality. Yet, we humans are social creatures; we need to connect, even on a random social level. Without this, the alienation around Berkeley feels as thick as the hot, stagnant air.

As for me, I fight against BTSD every day, trying to ward off that life-crushing alienation and hard heartedness. Some days I do better than others.

I often wonder: is it possible to reside around here and not lose parts of one’s humanity, one’s soul? I do my best; I ask God for help with this on a regular basis.

Because there is no way to fight PTSD, or BTSD, or any other human malady, all on our own. And from all the sad and embittered countenances around here, it’s no coincidence that Berkeley is a community that has rejected the Almighty God like nowhere else.


(1) From where I sit, life in Berkeley, Oakland, SF, et al. has gotten much much worse since the election of 2008. More people are hunkering down and shutting down. And since the elections, and the covert and subliminal messages since that time, the racial tension is as high and as threatening as I’ve ever experienced before.

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Lawlessness and Disorder

I just received a link from a friend about a 62 year old man who died because rioters in Berkeley blocked traffic a few weeks ago. What would have been a few minute ride for paramedics to come and save his life turned into a half hour. Although I can’t prove it, from the name of the man who died, it sure sounds like he was African American.

Which makes me wonder, Do Black Lives Matter to groups like Black Lives Matter? You see, this is a very diverse area, with a huge black, Latino, Asian, etc. etc. population. So with all of this rioting and blocking freeways and general mayhem interrupting emergency personnel from doing their jobs, many of the victims are and will be people of color.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what the color is of those terribly impacted by the lawlessness and disorder. Black lives matter — but so do white lives, and every color under the rainbow. But causing widespread chaos, death, injuries, etc. apparently doesn’t matter to those who believe they are perpetual victims of injustice at the hands of the “system.” They know better than all of the juries of one’s peers combined.

As I write this, I have heard four emergency vehicles go by, with sirens blaring. I have no idea why, except that the rumor predicts anarchy galore to protest Ferguson. The only rule around here seems to be mob rule. The only lives who appear to matter at the moment are the enraged and out-of-control mobs, and their puppeteers and

And isn’t is ironic that scores of the victims of these riots, like the older, possibly black deceased gentlemen, are the very people the leftist groups purport to care about?




Again, these so-called “spontaneous” riots since Ferguson (and before that, the Occupations) have the fingerprints of the Left all over them. From what I hear, Berkeley and Oakland were engulfed by this type of lawlessness during the 60s. However, then there was the major difference that the National Guard was called in. Not going to happen these days given those in charge state-wide and nationally.

I think that much of the chaos is designed and orchestrated by those very same affluent, well connected radicals who create chaos wherever they go, without getting their hands dirty. And of course it’s all engineered by the biggest radical of all, Saul Alinsky’s much admired Lucifer.

A while back, I read an old book by former leftists who had had a l80 degree change of heart. I still recall a chilling comment that one of the authors made. He said that he is terrified of the leftists he used to know working their way into positions of power in the government, academia, and the like. Of course, this has all happened, and here’s the fallout: the whipping up of all of the darkest, basest emotions — hatred, envy, resentment — in Berkeley and beyond.

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“Don’t Dry Those Hands”

My best friend has been stricken with a catastrophic disease. She has lost so much: her soulmate, her career, her memory. She is slowly losing her life. It’s a tragedy beyond anything I could ever imagine for her and her devoted family.

I woke up today tearfully thinking about her. I had a recollection of when we were young and the world was our oyster. We lived together after college, in our own tightly knit world replete with insider stories and jokes. She had a cute expression that she used whenever I would wash the dishes. She would say, “Don’t dry those hands.”

It was when I was almost finished washing; she’d bring a few stragglers to the sink, perhaps some cups she had left in her bedroom. She’d smile impishly as I was about to finish and say her trademark phrase: “Don’t Dry Those Hands.” It was an inside joke that she would never remember now; but I remember this for her, this and more; that’s what loved ones do for each other. We hold onto each other’s memories, like a firm embrace; we cling tightly to each other’s secrets, ones that we will take with us to the graves. Happy memories, sad ones, all of the images culled from a long life, now etched into our mind’s eye.

Before my best friend lost her memory completely, I would send her cards. The cards would show two women together and say things like: Best Friends Forever. Now each year on her birthday, I send her a card, although her adult daughter receives it. They still say: Best Friends Forever. My friend’s daughter needs to know; she needs to know that her mother isn’t forgotten and that some things endure forever.

* *

One thing about best friends is that they accept you the way you are. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t arguments or occasional cross words. But on a basic level, you feel seen and heard and accepted. The friendship reminds you that even though you have a multitude of flaws, you are worthy of love. That type of acceptance is so precious and so rare.

I didn’t find that type of acceptance much in my family, me being so different from everyone else. But toward the end of my parents’ lives, we all came to appreciate and respect each other more. My mother thanked me for helping to organize her health care. I wrote my parents a detailed letter expressing appreciation for the many things they did for me throughout my life. The letter must have meant a lot. Even though my parents were not sentimental and kept very few keepsakes, I found the letter in their belongings after they passed away.

They loved me, I loved them. We did the best we could. In the end, that is all that matters. In the end, love is all that remains.

* *

During this last year, there have been so many twists and turns in my spiritual life that have taken my breath away. I’ve been going to a church where I have felt God’s Presence like never before. But, as with my family, it’s a place where I don’t quite fit in. The parishioners are more reserved, while I am gregarious. As much as I’ve tried, it’s been hard to find women to connect with.

And yet God knows what we need better than we do. Instead of sending women my age to befriend, I’ve become pals with a couple of young males. They have sat with me at church; they have listened to me for hours and supported and guided me when I’ve been spiritually confused.

They are fine young men, obviously well-raised; they love and respect their mothers and it shows. The kindnesses of these two males have changed my life. They bring a fresh and clear-eyed view of things, one not yet obscured or tarnished by the wreckage of age.

Maybe the best thing about them is that they accept me as I am. They accept my big personality and don’t try to make me smaller. That type of acceptance is a lot like what my best friend did for me, so precious and so rare.

* *

Strangely enough, a newcomer showed up at church last Sunday, someone who reminded me a lot of me a few years ago, at the beginning of my faith journey. The woman was nervous, overwhelmed. She hungered for something, though she didn’t know what it was.

Gregarious too, she found her way to me and I took her under my wing. I sat with her at Mass, introduced her to people, and offered encouragement and support. She was so grateful; but I was even more grateful for the privilege to be used by God in this way. I pray to offer her the same type of kindness and acceptance that I’ve received from my young male friends at church and from my best friend.

None of us can rest on our laurels; we are all connected in ways that we can never fully understand. It doesn’t matter our life circumstances. “Don’t Dry Those Hands.”

* *

It’s the season of Lent, my second year observing it. Last year, it was all so exciting: getting my ash for Ash Wednesday, giving something up, which I’d never done before in any concerted way. I loved trying to reform some of my bad habits; I was successful in one of them, that is, stopping using obscenities.

This year, I have to admit, my Lent has gotten off to a pretty rotten start. I cursed at a driver who drove too closely to me when I was walking in a crosswalk. I’ve been catty in several conversations. I’ve been generally cranky and complain-y.

After praying about it last night, it occurred to me that I’ve been walking around hard hearted, angry about the state of the world and particularly life in Berkeley. I told God that I didn’t want to be this way, and I asked Him for help. As always, He is faithful.

That’s when I woke up tearfully thinking of my beloved friend; and I saw that underneath the anger that I have, that maybe we all have, is a deep and profound sadness about the human condition: our finiteness, our vulnerability, and a hidden-from-sight awareness that everything around us will someday die, us included.

And then I realized one of the messages of Lent; that even though none of us is worthy, God is always there for us, with us, always by our side. That He will never leave us or forsake us, even when everything else turns to dust.

And this: our lives are valuable; my best friend’s life, though severely impaired, is valuable. She reminds me of the paramount importance of love and friendship. And her situation makes me want to shout from the rooftops: right now, at this very moment, work out your relationship with God. Love Him, need Him, don’t turn your back on Him. Now, before it is too late.

Let your loved ones know that you care; and make contact with someone you’ve been out of touch with for a while. Look around your small corner of the world and offer a smile or an encouraging word to someone who needs it.

We are all in this mysterious thing we call “life” together. “Don’t Dry Those Hands.” You are needed in this world in countless ways. But don’t delay. Like the ashes of Ash Wednesday remind us, we are all living on borrowed time.

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Everyone’s Life Matters

A friend sent me a couple of news links. One was that the Home Depot in Emeryville was shut down yesterday by an enraged mob. They were angry that a black woman was killed by the police there a couple of weeks ago.

Apparently, she had taken over the Home Depot, robbed people, put guns to people’s heads, and then ran outside and attempted to carjack a few cars. As I understand it, police ordered her to put down her gun, she refused, and they shot her. The Home Depot later erupted in protests, and the store was robbed and looted.

And then this one: On Valentine’s Day, in a lovely suburb of the SF Bay Area, Walnut Creek, people mobbed a restaurant, verbally abusing and terrifying people who were peacefully dining in a restaurant. The diners apparently were doing something forbidden: dining while white. The children there were terrified.

There hadn’t been a police shooting in Walnut Creek. The protestors simply didn’t like that Walnut Creek is a quite, peaceful small city with few black people (though Walnut Creek has a huge number of Chinese, Indian, and other Asians – and a ton of ethnic restaurants. It is known as a safe and lively alternative to the filth and crime of SF). Similar protests, by the way, have happened in restaurants in Oakland, where groups of angry people shouted at diners and disrupted people’s meals.

Now, I’d like you to imagine this scenario. You and your family are peacefully relaxing after a long week. You’re enjoying a meal out together, and discussing the happenings of the week. Suddenly, a very loud and angry mob takes over the place, creating chaos, yelling at you and your children. You don’t know how this is going to end: violence? robbery? sexual assault?

How would you feel?

Or this situation: you and friend are visiting the Home Depot to get some supplies. Out of nowhere, you hear shouting, screaming, rage, people running, hiding, terrified. People are blocking the exit, trying to shut down the store.

Again, how would you feel?

There’s so much I want to say here. . and there’s so little to say. Clearly all of these so-called protests are the tried and true tactics of the Left: crash and overwhelm the system, create widespread mayhem and chaos. Sadly, alarmingly, they are being tolerated all over the place in ways that they weren’t in earlier times because of the political power the Left now wields.

Saul Alinsky, and many others, have promoted this type of terrorizing, destroying, and controlling. And since the 60s, tenured professors have brainwashed gullible young people into their version of reality: oppression, unfairness, and everything terrible. These professors have darkened our young people’s world view, robbed them of their innocence, and made them into foot soldiers for their causes.

And like most people in history who orchestrate madness, they never get their hands dirty. They instead prefer their ivory towers and their pristine suburban homes, which, by the way, resemble that bucolic city, Walnut Creek, the one that they are terrorizing.

And then there are the professors of education, the Bill Ayers of the world, who have taught their education students well, The public school teachers since the 60s are very well versed in the horrors that are the US; they teach that the world is divided up into forever perpetuators and forever victims.

As I said, there’s so much to say and so little. I’ll state the obvious: all of this is wrong. Horrible and horrifying. Terrorism. It’s fascistic, that is, some people have voice, others are supposed to shut up. It’s about social control and power and brutality.

This is the world system that we live in. This is what the world looks like when God has been shut up and shut out. This is what happens when few people understand anymore about the difference between love and hate. Love heals. Love brings people together. Love is the only true Force of power in the entire universe. And all love must come from God.

Love says that everyone’s life matters: black and white and male and female and every color under the sun. Christ loved us so much that He died for us: not just some of us, but all of us.

Hate is derived from the netherworld; it is ugly, brutal, and violent. It is a form of madness; it can drive people crazy. (1) Hate agitates the darkest and basest of emotions: envy, resentment, bitterness, selfishness. Hate resembles what we are seeing now, all over this nation. And with the rejection of God by so many, this force of hatred has been unleashed upon our God-forsaken world.

(1) As in the out of control madness of the French and Russian Revolutions and countless other examples.

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I’m Just Sitting Here Watching the Wheels Go Round and Round

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you might be shaking your head wondering why I keep writing about Berkeley. “Berkeley, Schmerkeley,” you might wonder in frustration. “Enough, already!”

Perhaps you go on: “We get it: it’s a crazy place filled with brainwashed people and the thugs and street hustlers who prey on them. No one in their right mind would want to live there and, with all due respect, we sometimes wonder about the rightness of your mind given that you do. You have convinced us: we will not move there or allow anyone we even slightly care about to go near the place. So can’t you write about something else??

“What about Obama, Obamacare, and everything else happening on the national scene. Can’t you remove yourself from the madness that is Berkeley and write about something else?”

The sad truth is that no, I cannot. This is because I have no almost idea what is going on.

For the last few years, I have kept myself pretty clueless about anything beyond my corner of the world. I don’t read political websites or newspaper or magazines. I haven’t listened to talk radio in so long that I wouldn’t even remember the AM or FM dial numbers. I not only don’t watch television, I don’t own one. To quote an old, obscure song by Jackson Browne, I’ve become a “happy idiot.”

OK, yes, I do know a teeny bit about what’s going on out there. But that is only because people keep telling me stuff, stuff I don’t want to know. People eat, breath, and drink politics out here, so it’s hard to escape some of the happenings.

Apparently, Obama and Biden remain in office, and Hilary might run for the top spot next year. There is some controversy about Hilary’s emails, though I haven’t the foggiest idea what. I think that DOJ chief Holder is gone, or leaving, and might be replaced by a woman with the last name, Lynch (brilliant strategy, by the way; keep much of the country in a perpetual state of white guilt every time the lady’s name is quoted in the news).

The Middle East is still a mess. Scores of Christians are being massacred in Iraq and throughout the Mid East and Africa, which most of the world’s leaders are mum about. Almost everyone is angry at the police. The Republicans are in charge of both Houses of Congress; in my mind, hopefully the government will be so hopelessly paralyzed, that nothing will done.

Have I missed anything? To sum up, the world is going to hell in a hand basket, with a good proportion of the populace going down with it. All terrible, tragic, though not surprising in a secular world that has turned its back on God and tried to play god themselves.

I realize that many of you would want to argue me out of my political ignorance. I should apprise myself of what is going on; I’m doing a disservice to myself and to the reading public by having little idea what is going on. But the truth is that I can’t. I just can’t.

It is too depressing, upsetting, and angering. I used to be a news junkie, but I’ve had to go cold turkey; I just don’t have the stomach to stomach it anymore.

Plus, I have become one of those people who are skeptical about it all. How do I know that what is being reported is accurate? Aren’t we all being manipulated and controlled like rats in a cage, told what they want us to know, and prevented from learning what we should know? I mean, isn’t much of the news just propaganda to get everybody yelling and fighting each other? (1)

So I try to keep my blood pressure down by not knowing much of anything. I’m not boasting here; just what I need to do to survive, given that I live in an area where a bodyguard is needed to make it safely to and from the dry cleaners. (2)

For me, I have a limited to-do list, one that doesn’t include CNN, Fox News, or anything else. I’ll share my current list with you:

To Do List, for Tuesday:

1. Try not to get killed.

2. Try not to get mugged.

3. Try not to get robbed, carjacked, etc.

4. Try to serve God by being a bright, cheerful light among the unhappy people in Berkeley (good luck with that one).

I’ll end here with some lines from a John Lennon song. Lennon wrote it after he left the music industry to take care of his young son, Sean. The lyrics reflect my current sentiments.

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there’s no problem,
Only solutions,
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind,
I tell them there’s no hurry…
I’m just sitting here doing time,

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

–Watching the Wheels


(1) I glanced at the banner headline in today’s newspaper: “80 Million Reasons to Worry.” I have no idea what it is referring to and I don’t want to know. Again it all feels so manipulative to me. A stressed and freaked out citizenry is easier to manage and control, isn’t it? I recall reading a quote from the Marquis de Sade, who was a revolutionary as well as a sadist. He commented that a happy and devout populace was too stable and joyful to control, and that it was necessary to remove faith, love, family, etc. An agitated population is receptive to revolution, but not a calm and happy one. Since the 60s, many leaders and shakers have taken note of this truism.

(2) True story: I was harassed by street transients just the other day around noon while walking down the street towards the dry cleaners. Two separate incidents: She was demanding money and he was eying my purse. I made it safely into the cleaners, but I had to ask the man working there to walk me to my car. As I have written, just Another Day in Paradise.

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The New Weird Order

When I was growing up, I was the black sheep of the family. My parents never failed to remind me of this. “How could I have a child like you?” my mother would wonder out loud. Even my parents’ friends would get into the act: “I don’t know how you can be the daughter of [name of my mother]. You’re nothing like her.”

My brother used my stranger-in-a-strange-land status to torment me; he swore that I was left on our doorstep one day and adopted. While my parents and my brother were like peas in a pod, not me. No one, including me, had any idea where I came from.

I was highly sensitive in a family that abhorred sensitivity; emotional, where emotions were viewed as weakness; serious when everyone else was always joking around. I was dreamy and pensive where thinking too much was ridiculed. With no one in my family like me, I was the odd man out.

So it’s not surprising that I ended up in my 20s in Berkeley, an area populated by a lot of people who also don’t fit in from where they came. And as soon as I got here, I felt at home for the first time. Berkeley, SF, etc. are strange areas inhabited by even stranger people. Being different is embraced and celebrated. A popular bumper sticker says it all, “Why Be Normal?” (1)

In fact, if a person is conventional, “vanilla,” normal, they may be regarded contemptuously. Around here, people often compete to be the most outrageous. For years, there was even a parade down University Avenue called, “How Berkeley Can You Get?” where residents showed off their weirdest float or outfit.

Now, as you can imagine, it creates a vast array of problems to live where people have fled (or been forced out of) their childhood homes. It certainly is an odd dynamic to live among so many residents who did not fit in from whence they came.

Not surprisingly, you see a lot of asocial, if not outright antisocial, behavior. Perhaps it is frowned upon where you live for you and your children to race down the sidewalk on your bikes or skateboards, thereby endangering the public. But out here? If it feels good, do it.

Berkeley’s reputation as Berzerkeley is going to attract some people and repel others. Let’s face it, Berkeley doesn’t attract graduates from West Point and Notre Dame. If someone just finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Berkeley is not their number 1 destination post-Army. But there are going to be a lot of folks just released from prison or rehab or who are gender confused or simply dazed and confused.

Therefore, this area has a disproportionate number of misfits, high functioning autistics, personality disorders, and disordered and disorderly people. Not everyone, of course. There are nice, helpful people too among the under-socialized. But the strangeness sucks the life out of the place. Even those sweet people can grow cold and callous after repeated harassment, rejections, and insults.

What’s particularly challenging about living here is trying to establish committed, loyal, and trusting relationships. A common complaint is that people can be superficially friendly but MIA when need arises. The distress call put out to friends during serious illness can lead to few comers. Having a birthday party could end up with fewer than expected guests, as friends cancel because they need their own personal space.

It’s no wonder: if so many people are escaping from family commitments, you’ve got a lot of people who don’t know how to be in relationship — or don’t value deep ones. The gals complain about the dearth of loyal men. And the guys complain about the lack of devoted females. People who have moved hundreds or even thousands of miles from loved ones may be ambivalent about creating new ones.

Ironically enough, my life journey has come full circle in some unexpected ways. I started life as a misfit until I made my way to Berkeley, where I finally fit in. But fast forward several decades, and look at me now: a conventional, vanilla person in an area that detests normalcy. I started out the black sheep, and here I am again, many years later, the same. My life hasn’t just done a l80, but a 360 degrees. And how weird is that?


1. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that there’s a lot less outrageousness and a lot more creepiness. There was a good deal of both in the past. But much of the weirdness has taken a dark, disturbing tone, from what I have observed.

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Another Day in Paradise

I did something last week that I rarely do: I went out after dark. I don’t like to do this. This area is too creepy crawly during the day, much less at night. But supplies were low, and I wasn’t sure when I’d get another chance to go food shopping.

And I thought to myself, “Maybe you’re exaggerating all of this: the crime, the filth, the general insanity. Maybe it’s not as bad as you think.” So, like a small child testing the waters, I thought I’d stick my toe in the after-hours scene.

It was about 7:30 pm when I made the trek over to a local food store. I arrived there, exited the car — all in one piece! I entered, shopped, and even returned to my car intact. I felt elated, triumphant, like one of those Olympic athletes who just won a gold medal. I had actually escaped aggressive panhandlers, criminals, and the certifiable insane to secure my milk and eggs!

Emboldened and giddy, I thought, “Maybe I can take this one step further. Maybe I can successfully make it in and out of the Walgreen’s! Maybe — gasp — I can even have a life!” Flush with the joy of my Olympic-style victory, I headed down the block to the pharmacy chain store.

And that’s when it happened.

All was well while I picked up some moisturizer and soap and headed over to the check-out line. I stood confidentially on the queue, euphoric about being able to do something so normal, something people do all over this great nation.

Suddenly, right outside the glass windows, someone started screaming at the top of his lungs, while someone else screamed back. Then there was cursing and throwing things, with several men looking maniacal and out of control.

Frightened, I looked at the cashier. He paused, took in the scene, looked back at me and shrugged his shoulders. Then he continued processing my order.

I stared at the chaotic happenings. Things quieted down for a minute or so, and I finally took a deep breath. And then the yelling started up again. Frozen now in fear, I stared outside the glass window, trying to discern what was happening and, even more pressing, what was going to happen.

There was that familiar, disturbing uncertainty, something that I’ve experienced many times before. What is going to happen next? Are they going to come in? Are they going to rob us, attack us, create store-wide pandemonium — or worse? And how am I going to get back safely to my car?

I suggested to the cashier that he call the police. He gave me that bored and I’ve-seen-it-all look, and said, “If it keeps up, I’ll do that.” The commotion died down and the cashier and I completed the money exchange. Then I told him that I was afraid to walk to my car alone and needed someone to come with me.

He paged the supervisor and a few minutes later, a tough-looking dude came out to escort me. We walked outside and there were several vagrants out there, though it was hard to tell whether they were part of the street fighting or just housing themselves on the sidewalk. I kept my eyes firmly on my surroundings, as I got in my car quickly and drove away.

Just at that moment, a police car with its sirens blaring sped through the parking lot looking for whatever was going on, which I’ll never know. Obviously, the miscreants took their mayhem elsewhere, triggering someone to call the police. As I drove out of the parking lot, I said out loud to God, “Just for the record, I hate it here. Just so you know.”

Now let me clarify this: what I’ve described — the social unrest, violence, terror — happens around here all the time, on a practically minute-to-minute basis. And this is an area where people brag incessantly about how fortunate they are to live here: how lucky they are to pay 3 grand a month to rent a tiny cottage in a marginal area, where cars are broken in to on a regular basis, and children attend some of the worst schools in the United States. Gentle readers: I appeal to you; can you understand why it is like living among programmed Stepford people to reside around here?

For me, my never-to-be-repeated late night sojourn only reinforces what I knew to begin with: that this is a terrible — I repeat — a terrible area in which to live. But for the multitudes, the danger of my late night outing was no big deal, simply Another Day in Paradise, we being the luckiest people on earth.

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California’s Culture of Death

The California legislature has introduced a bill to legalize assisted suicide in California. I find the prospect of this horrifying.

Of course, legal euthanasia is the natural consequence of a culture that devalues life; that ridicules Sarah Palin’s Down Syndrome baby and aborts babies conceived at the wrong time or medically impaired. It’s no wonder that people talk casually about death panels, rationing health care, and even killing one’s grandma or grandpa.

We live in a culture that supposedly loves humanity, but seems to detest human beings. Like the Communists in the Soviet Union, humans beings in the post-modern US are considered a drain on the system unless they can work. And yet the same citizens so cavalier about human life are quick to wax rhapsodic about lofty concepts, such as “social justice.”

For many people, I think, the callousness towards human life camouflages a deep terror about death that is hidden even from themselves. Ernest Becker wrote about it decades ago in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Denial of Death. He theorized that every action a human being takes underlies an intense fear, and thus denial, of mortality.

This disregard of human life is also a form of delusion: as though the healthy person today won’t someday be impaired. The young may regard the old with disgust, deluding themselves that they won’t get aged themselves and need the kindness of strangers. The able-bodied may see the disabled as parasites, again blind to the possibility of their own disability.

But I don’t think that fear of death is the only reason for the casual talk about abortions and assisted suicide. There are so many dark paths that have led to the hard heartedness: generations desensitized to violence by the media; youth growing up on mean urban streets with violence a daily reality. Agendas have been pushed in the schools, such as “values clarification,” that invite children to decide, in classroom exercises, who will live and who will die.

Consequently, our society has produced a feeling of grandiosity in many citizens. When people know that they can legally snuff out human life, they may become intoxicated with their own perceived sense of power. All of this delusion and grandiosity originates in the same place: in a culture that has tried to severe one’s natural tethering to God. Being anchored to God is humbling; we realize that we are helpless without Him.

The Light will continue to darken in this world as long as people worship self, and not God. When people try to control life and death, no matter how cleverly, they become mad scientists, evil geniuses.

They aid and abet the Enemy, who wants nothing more than the destruction of human souls. And this evil force is elated when States like California try to pass laws, such as assisted suicide, that will pave the way for more lives to be destroyed. It makes the Evil One’s job that much easier.

When people are ignorant about God’s love for them and the preciousness of this one life, they may have a hard time caring about others. They may not even care that much about themselves, their bodies, and their souls.

What people in this world desperately need is to feel valued — and to learn to value others. And if someone struggles with a terminal illness or depression or physical disability, he is still valuable and worthy of love and respect — and of life! People need to look at the world through God’s eyes, who loves all of us, the meek and the frail as well as the strong.

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About Abortion

Today, January 22, is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the country. There have been at least 56 million abortions since Roe. (1)

In Catholic churches, a special Mass is held for the unborn, called, “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” And this weekend, pro-life rallies will be held throughout the country.

Probably no issue has troubled me more than this one; no issue has made me do a l80 like this one: from fervent abortion activist and clinic worker in my young adulthood to pro-life.

And, yet, I still struggle with this one because I understand the intense emotions on both sides. I realize how incredibly threatened, frightened, and angry women become when they envision abortion rights being limited.

You see, we live in a hook-up culture; we live in a world that teaches girls from a very young age that they must be sexually active as soon as they can, with experimentation and multiple partners mandatory.

Girls (and boys, for that matter) learn that it is normal to be promiscuous from a young age. They are programmed to believe that the more sexual they are, the more empowered. Conversely, being chaste means something is seriously wrong with them. Out here, youth are told that they must try both genders as well to truly be normal.

And we all know how important it is for young people to feel like everyone else. . .how difficult it is for them to be perceived as different than the pack. Even though many of our young don’t want to have sex, don’t feel ready for it, and feel scared and uncomfortable, many, if not most, give in to pressure from peers and the sex-obsessed media.

In college, things get even worse. Without the oversight of parents, these young people, unsupervised and left to their own devices, can spiral quickly out of control. Of course, none of this promiscuity stops post-graduation, as perpetual adolescence may go on and on well into one’s 30s.

This is where the passion around legalized abortion comes in, especially for the girls. They are pushed and groomed to be practically nymphomaniacs; they put themselves in high-risk situations, where alcohol and drugs are present and nonconsensual sex a possibility. Of course females think that it is completely unacceptable for society to rob them of their one way out of an unwanted pregnancy. Because they can’t easily say no to casual sex, their only “no,” is having an abortion.

Here’s the formula: a promiscuous society with rape as a real possibility equals the demand for abortion. A culture of throw-away relationships and easy divorce often leaves women on their own to survive. While I have become pro-life myself (having finally recognized that the “pregnancy tissue” vacuumed out is indeed a life, God’s creation), still I understand the desperation of women in this culture. Their bodies, minds, and spirits have been stripped of any dignity by the steady drumbeat of this lurid, twisted culture that they give their bodies to whomever.

In women’s minds, their only recourse when a random encounter or a casual relationship or a rape turns into a human being is fleeing to their local Planned Parenthood. Sadly, tragically, this is not going to change anytime soon.

Unless this culture evolves from a pornographic one that practically turns our females into prostitutes, desperate women will demand abortions. They will refuse to see that they are terminating a human life; and for some, they will see but refuse to even care. The life they are saving, they think, is their own.



(1) In defiance of federal mandates, the State of California has always refused to keep statistics on the number of abortions. So there are millions more abortions than the reported number.

There are many casualties when it comes to the tragedy of abortion. Let’s please all pray today for the children, but also the mothers and father and even grandparents impacted by the heartache of abortion. Let’s also pray for the clinic workers, who are exposed to horrifying, traumatizing scenes. (I know this first-hand, and the images are forever burned into my memory.)

Anyone who needs healing from abortion can contact Rachel’s Vineyard, a faith-based program. And remember that our amazing God of healing and mercy is always ready to forgive us and to welcome us home, no matter what we have done.

I’d like to end here with some lyrics from a 1970s-era song by Graham Parker that has always deeply affected me, called, “You Can’t Be Too Strong.” I’d also suggest listening to the song on Youtube. The anger and pain in Graham Parker’s voice haunting. (Be forewarned: the lyrics are disturbing.)

Did they tear it out with talons of steel
And give you a shot, so that you wouldn’t feel?
And wash it away as if it wasn’t real?

It’s just a mistake I won’t have to face
Don’t give it a name, don’t give it a place
Don’t give it a chance, it’s lucky in a way

It must have felt strange to find me inside you
I hadn’t intended to stay
If you want to keep it right, put it to sleep at night
Squeeze it until it could say

You can’t be too strong
You can’t be too strong. . .
You decide what’s wrong

Well I ain’t gonna cry, I’m gonna rejoice
And shout myself dry and go see the boys
They’ll laugh when I say I left it overseas

Yeah babe, I know it gets dark, down by Luna Park
But everybody else is squeezing out a spark
That happened in the heat, somewhere in the dark, in the dark

The doctor gets nervous completing the service
He’s all rubber gloves and no head
Yes, he fumbles the light switch, it’s just another minor hitch
Wishes to God he was dead

But you can’t be too strong
You can’t be too strong. . .
You decide what’s wrong

Can’t be too hard
Too tough, too rough
Too right, too wrong
And you can’t be too strong. . .

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Women and Children Last

Some parents are hazardous to their kids’ health, for instance, drug addicts, alcoholics, and molesters. We may know parents like this and worry about the well-being of the children.

But there’s a subtle category of parents who can cause harm even though they don’t mean to and don’t engage in any extreme behaviors. In fact, these parents are well-meaning and do many of the right things. But there’s something missing deep inside of them. I call it “failure to protect.”

I know about this because I came from parents who had a failure to protect, even though, on the outside, they were fine parents. I went to doctors when I was sick, and had regular checkups at the dentist. My mother cooked delicious meals, and my father was a very hard worker. But while my parents were practically “mother and father of the year,” there was something seriously missing.

What was lacking was protecting me not just physically but emotionally. When it came to issues about my safety in the world, they were often missing in action.

Maybe the worst thing of all is that they stuck me in horrendous public schools, where violence was the norm and every day was a battle to survive. My parents never asked about what was going on there; they didn’t red flag how often I cut school, how drugged out I appeared, and how I never dared to attend a single after-school activity.

Looking back, I’m not sure why they were so un-curious and clueless. Part of it was a sign of the times; parents were much less involved with their children back then. Some of it was my particularly parents’ psychology, their extreme self-focus. But I think a lot of it was that they lacked something inside that a good parent must have.

This trait is a kind of sixth sense that can read their children and the situation. It is an ability to sense danger, and the courage to rescue the child from harm’s way. Without this inborn ability, children remain endangered, regardless of how much money the family has and whether the child is showered with opportunities.

I see this phenomenon of “failure to protect,” all over Berkeley and the nearby cities. It is widespread, even in the most educated and elite families. Even though the children are wanted and loved and given all kinds of enriching experiences, something essential and life-preserving is missing from the parenting.

For one, the children are allowed to walk the streets of Berkeley, where aggressive panhandlers, the paranoid, and street thugs rule. The kids play in parks with unsanitary conditions, e.g. transients sleeping, drug paraphernalia, human excrement. (1)

Even more damaging to kids, in my opinion, is that many local parents enroll them in the public schools. There they may face merciless bullying; robbery of their belongings; and being threatened and degraded on a regular basis. But because these children do not fit into some protected class, their suffering doesn’t count. Their daily insults are invisible, and would be summarily dismissed should the youth dare to complain. Eventually, the children may feel responsible for their own abuse because of the color of their skin.

And yet the parents I’m talking about are moneyed: they can afford private schools or moving to a safer public school system. They can, but they won’t. But they aren’t being mean-spirited.

They just have, I think, this missing piece in them, like my parents did. These parents are similarly bereft of the ability to see the danger to their children and to take swift, appropriate action.

Part of their denial is due to cognitive dissonance, a fancy way of saying that people don’t want to see what they don’t want to see. If they beheld the danger to their children, they would have to face the consequences of moving here. They’d have to realize that much of what they believe in is a lie.

So parents may ignore the warning signs: the children who don’t want to go to school; the emotional and/or behavioral problems. Parents might disregard the problems or defend it because of “privilege.” And this same failure in Berkeley to protect extends not just to the children, but to the entire population.

As for my parents, I’ll never quite understand why they neglected me in some essential ways. Perhaps it was immaturity, maybe psychological issues.

However, I have a good idea why so many people in Berkeley act as they do: brainwashing. A lot of folks who once had a natural instinct to protect have lost it over time.

Yet, this doesn’t explain it all; we have free will. There are undoubtably moments when reality breaks through the programming: when a parent sees the child’s distress, hears about the missing backpack, even perhaps views bruises.

What is lacking is something quite rare today: moral courage. Moral courage means a willingness to take a stand, even if it makes enemies, even if it is politically incorrect. It means the strong protecting the weak. Without courage, we have in Berkeley what exists today: ever present danger and over-the-top violence, both emotionally and physically.

In Berkeley, Oakland, et al. . . it is women and children last. . . with the illusion, the fantasy, the utopian dream coming first and foremost. And for many children, this dream is in reality a nightmare.



(1) I had a good laugh after I posted this and was driving in my car and realized that I put “human remains,” instead of “human excrement.” As insane as it is around here, there actually aren’t human remains in the parks, although there’s a whole lot of poop. I was laughing to myself at your stunned reaction reading that original line, “Really? There are even human remains out there in public places?” So, my mistake (at least I think that there aren’t any!)

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Berkeley’s Tipping Point

Every culture has its social mores. In yours, it may be saying hello to a neighbor during your morning walk. Perhaps it’s discussing the weather with the checker at the grocery store. Maybe in your neck of the woods, people spend Sundays mornings at church, and Sunday afternoons enjoying a meal with family. And perhaps you hold the door open for women and treat the elderly with deference.

Berkeley has its mores as well, but they are likely very different than yours. Here are two staples: 1. If it feels good, do it, and 2. Every man (or woman) for himself.

These are the cultural values that I see demonstrated everywhere I go: in the car, on the streets, in shops and in restaurants. There’s this strange free-for-all, where behavior and language never allowed in Kansas, is not just tolerated, but normal, with widespread acceptance.

Thus, someone walking across the street and not liking how a person is driving may, with no social restraint, scream obscenities at the other. If a driver feels like jutting into traffic, he shall.

Or a person who is frustrated with the shop keeper can utter something mean, again with the rest of the world silent. A stranger can say something casually cruel to another person that would never, ever be tolerated anywhere else.

What I’ve noticed over the decades I’ve been in Berkeley and the surrounding cities is a meaner, more callous vibe. The area has always had a primitive feeling to it, given the mentally ill street people and aggressive panhandling. There’s always been a menacing threat in the air: of the potential for a paranoid person exploding or a criminal preying.

But something has dramatically worsened in my time here: a darker and uglier vibe. I’m not exactly sure why this is. But I think, sadly, tragically, that a tipping point has been reached and crossed.

What created a sense of balance, however precariously, was that we used to have a fair number of decent people, along with the incendiary. There were the polite and the helpful to offset all the dark ones.

But something has shifted; some tipping point has been reached and now, I think, we’re at the point of no return. The mean and the malicious far outnumber the decent.

Maybe it has to do with the astonishing amount of money being poured into the area. Lots of wealth from tech and China and old money and the nouveau riche. But that can’t explain it all.

Some of it is the radicalism; it’s a hard-core leftist area. With the increasing numbers of riots and occupations around here, and the utter contempt for authority, some people feel they can get away with “murder,” literally or figuratively.

The thugs go for the violence part, mayhem that can be excused and justified by the brainwashed residents. But most residents are law-biding, though they can be violent in a different way, interpersonally, societally. That’s where you get the casual meanness, the startling coldness, the offhanded remark meant to eviscerate.

Maybe it springs from a feeling of omnipotence and grandiosity. If people out here can stop traffic or scream obscenities at the police and get away with it, they think that they can get away with anything.

There’s also been a significant change spiritually, When I first moved here in the 80s, the Bay Area was a spiritual hub. Everyone was into something, though much of it was dubious, even cult-y. However, people who focus their lives on faith — whether it’s a spurious one or the real thing — create different social mores, better, healthier ones. There were some good values promoted and shared in common, such as being nice to each other, being friendly, trying to be a beneficial person in the world.

But that’s all in the past. Now, there’s a hard core atheism, with any type of spirituality, even the previously idolized Eastern ones, viewed with hostility. I heard a pastor once report that the SF Bay Area is the most “unchurched” in the country; meaning, the fewest people go to church around here than anywhere else.

And it shows. It shows in the uber entitlement; in the every-man-for-himself free for all; it shows in the little things, the small cruelties and unkindnesses that make up a day in Berkeley and the environs. Yes, a few of the nice people are still out here, but many have fled to Oregon and parts unknown. And the average, decent working stiff is unable to survive financially, and so returns back to from where he came.

I once heard a quote attributed to an ancient Catholic saint: that a body without a head is a monster. Man without the moral compass of God can be a deadly and cruel thing. Man, unschooled and left to his own devices, is not human at all.

Berkeley is a cautionary tale. Yes, it’s a unique place, but it’s not an island that exists alone in the universe. Like a virulent plague, the same cold-heartedness is spreading throughout the country, as we see in the social fabric becoming increasingly unraveled. And this plague will continue to grow and spread as long as man has lost sight of his Compass, his God, the only guiding light that exists to show us how to live together as decent and moral human beings.

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Happy 2015

With 2015 just around the corner, I find myself reflecting on the year 2014. It was a roller coaster ride for me, filled with highs that I never knew in my life. These highs were also accompanied by deep lows spurred on, I believe, by spiritual warfare.

It was a transformative year, though in many ways, it broke me — in the good type of way. I heard a pastor once say that while Christians often talk about brokenness, none of us are actually broken, but instead full of ourselves: of our arrogance, our egos, our, “I know what’s best for me.” He said that the spiritual journey is about God breaking us down, challenging our well-crafted versions of ourselves.

Yet, our egos keep God out, the minister said, and we must learn that we can do absolutely nothing without Him. Faith is trusting in Him, even when our illusions about ourselves fall to pieces, like a house of cards.

This last year, when I was brought down on my knees so many times, I realized that humility and surrender are essential on this path, and that God is in control, not me. And when I surrender to His will, as hard as that can be, amazing grace happens.

Though there have been times of great testing and spiritual attack this past year, the blessings have been enormous. When I started going in the direction that God wanted for me, I felt bliss that I’ve never known before, alive with the joys and sorrows of this human life. Not the temporary happiness of buying stuff or accumulating money, but the genuine joy that can only come when we bend our will to God’s.

And at church, I have felt His Presence like never before, at times, so overwhelming that I cried endless tears. I’ve even had to flee the sanctuary, temporarily, to regain my composure.

Another great blessing for me this year: God sent me several of His kind and caring people to guide me and help me; to be strong for me when I felt weak; and to believe in me when belief in myself felt tenuous. They taught me new concepts, such as reconciliation, the Mystical Union, and the Body of Christ. Their many kindnesses revealed to me the true essence of friendship, family, and Christian love. They have been Christ’s presence on earth for me, and I am eternally grateful to them.

And I’m grateful to you too, dear reader, for reading my blogs and for being my virtual friends over the years, through good times and hard. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for many of you. You helped reveal God to me. And you helped to give me the strength to respond to His call. I pray that all of us have the courage to do His will in the times ahead.

I’ll end here with a few lines from another Matt Maher song, Alive Again.

You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again

Late have I loved You
You waited for me
I searched for You
What took me so long?

I was looking outside
As if love would ever want to hide
I’m finding I was wrong. . ..

‘Cause I want You, yes, and I need You
And I’ll do whatever I have to just to get through
‘Cause I love You, yeah, I love You

You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out
I’m alive again.

Many blessings to you and yours in 2015.

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Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas. It’s one of my very favorite holidays (the other being Easter). But it wasn’t always this way.

Truth be told, I detested Christmas for most of my life. I was a veritable Grinch. I started complaining bitterly around November about the incessant Christmas music blaring cheerfully in most stores and restaurants. How dare they impose their holiday on me? I’d fume. I’m embarrassed to admit that I once almost complained at a restaurant where I was dining with a friend, the day after Christmas. It was only because of my friend’s pleadings that I didn’t ask the manager to shut off those insufferable Christmas tunes.

But that’s all in the past. Now I am delighted by the first notes of a Christmas song played in my local supermarket or pharmacy. Everything changed for me a few years ago, my views on God and Christmas and everything else. Back then, I even went over to my local Barnes and Noble bookstore and sampled Christmas music and purchased a few CDs. I relish playing them this holiday season.

I love Christmas now for so many reasons. First and foremost, of course, is the birth of our Savior, the world’s Savior, Emmanuel among us. He came to rescue all of us lost sheep from sin and the Enemy and most of all from ourselves.

He came to heal the wounds of nations, to bring everyone together, so there was no longer a separation among people, “Greeks or Jews or men and women,” but all united in the Mystical Body. In this time of horrifying racial strife and increasing tribalism, we need this teaching more than ever before.

I also cherish Christmas now because I’m no longer an outsider. I realize that my enmity towards Christmas wasn’t so much the lights and the candles and the sounds of, Silent Night. It was feeling left out, alone, different. I understand now why people desperately seek an identity, whether it’s Japanese American or African American or an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, or any of the other countless groupings and categories. But, ultimately, it is only through God that we can feel connected to each other and to ourselves.

Although I am now delighted by the whole season, there is also a sadness there for me. It’s grief, I think, of being separated from God for so long, for almost my whole life, and the unbearable suffering and loneliness that comes from this. It makes my heart go out to the countless others who live, as I used to, at such a far distance from God.

But if I can change so dramatically, even in my older years, anyone can. Because God is ever present, faithful, and patient.

All along He was waiting for me, He was there, even if I didn’t know it, even in my darkest moments. To find Him, we simply need to overcome our stubborn pride, face the sorrow of lost years and lost time, and ask for His love and mercy.

I’d like to end here with some poignant lyrics of a song by Matt Maher, You Were on the Cross:

Pain, could you take away the pain?
If I find someone to blame, would it make my life seem easier?
Alone, all my friends are asleep
And I can’t find anyone to stay awake with me

Where were You when sin stole my innocence?
Where were You when I was ashamed?
Hiding in a life, I wish, I never made

You were on the cross, my God, my God, alone, alone
You were on the cross, You died for us, alone, alone
You were on the cross, victorious, alone, alone

You were there in all of my suffering
And You were there in doubt and in fear
I’m waiting on the dawn to reappear

Merry Christmas and love and blessings to you all.

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Berkeley’s Vast Anarchist Conspiracy?

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’d think that Berkeley is the national hub for anarchism. You can see photos of ski-masked anarchists all over the place. Masked bandits are breaking windows, starting bonfires, and robbing and looting banks, stores, restaurants, and the like. (1)

But there is one problem with this narrative. There aren’t any anarchists in Berkeley.

OK, maybe there are a few UC Berkeley professors who call themselves anarchists. But while they talk the talk, they don’t walk the walk. This elite group only gets their hands dirty when they are in their leafy backyards, composting.

But after decades in Berkeley, I’ve never met a single, true blue anarchist. And my unscientific poll of other Berkeley-ites — young, old and in the middle — elicited the same reaction. No one knows any violent revolutionaries. Everyone is scratching his or head to figure out who are all of these people.

You see, over the years, Berkeley has become wealthier, more gentrified, and more bourgeois. Some of those two-bedroom shacks Berkeley-ites purchased in the 1960s for $20,000 are now worth a cool million. There are a ton of rich, young techies buying up the real estate. Despite its reputation, Berkeley is a moneyed community.

Current day locals may be progressives and liberals . . . but they are armchair radicals. They voice passionate political opinions. But they do so while enjoying a fine bottle of Cabernet from their wine club. They become most spurred into fierce political action when their neighbor uses a leaf blower.

So if the anarchists in our midst aren’t homegrown. . then who are they? And where did they come from? Here are some theories making the rounds.

Theory One:

Many people postulate that the sudden influx of anarchists is coming from San Francisco. Given that there’s this strange disconnect between the East Bay and SF (people on each side only cross the bridge when they absolutely have to and do so quite miserably), it’s easy to just assume that “it’s those people over there.” But this theory makes absolutely no sense.

First off, it’s even more expensive in the City; it costs about $4,000 a month to rent some modest digs. So unless the anarchists are Google executives by day and bandana-ed vandals at night, the anarchists aren’t crossing the bridge.

Theory Two:

Popularized by the MSM, some believe that the anarchist epidemic is due to Berkeley old-timers taking it to the streets for one last shot at revolution. Like aging rock stars taken out of moth balls for a final reunion concert, these 60s relics are making a trip down memory lane to plunder 7/11s. But this theory is totally absurd.

First of all, our senior citizens can barely locate their keys, much less their old machetes. Plus: our septuagenarians fall into two categories: 1. The well-heeled, who live prosperous, cushy lives, or 2. The burnout cases who save most of their moral outrage for when the local dispensary runs out of pot brownies.

Which brings us to Theory Three:

A couple of folks offered that maybe the anarchists are drawn from our homeless population. But this is laughable. Our homeless are a sluggish bunch; they sleep in; eventually they park themselves prostrate on some sidewalk for several hours to collect spare change, and then, after a hard day’s work, they return “home.” It’s hard to believe that they are pulling off an insurrection.

Theory Four:

Some people believe that the anarchists are being bused in from out of state. They are flocking here from compounds in Idaho; centers of radicalism, such as Ann Arbor; and various parts unknown. This theory is given credence by the fact that apparently the lion’s share of anarchists being arrested have out-of-state IDs.

However, there are problems with this theory as well. For one, there aren’t enough anarchists in the whole country to explain all the rioting and looting in Berkeley. And anarchists everywhere are suddenly dropping everything to bus into Berkeley?? And where are all of these visiting anarchists staying anyway — Courtyard by Marriot? Unless there is some sort of Vast Anarchist Conspiracy of massive proportions that nobody knows about, this theory doesn’t pass muster.

Now, there is one final theory: Theory Five. My friend, Patricia, the conspiracy theorist, swears by this one.

In this theory, the anarchists are getting paid. Most of them are out-of-work actors, transported in by shady characters connected to the New World Order. The idea is to create social unrest, paranoia, and racial anomosity all over the country. According to this theory, while some of the players are real (e.g. the Berkeley college students and the street thugs), the leaders and shakers creating most of the damage aren’t real anarchists.

This theory is offered some validity by some of the quotes by the anarchists. One female anarchist was quoted in the news as saying, “We are here to destroy capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, racism, the police, and the military.” If these aren’t the rantings of some B list actress, I don’t know what is.

However, there’s a hole in this theory as well. Is this gig so well paying that the faux anarchists are willing to get tear gassed and arrested? Or are the police actors too? And, anyway, this theory is too creepy crawly to even contemplate.

So given all the possibilities, what do I think? I haven’t a clue. (2) I just wish that things would return to normal, or at least as close to normal as we get around here. I’d like to be able to go to Trader Joe’s without possibly ending up in lockdown.

And, even worse, the anarchists are corrupting the minds of all of those sweet, innocent university students who are joining in the pandemonium. The conversations of our cute young coeds have morphed from, “Why doesn’t Justin text me?” to “We are here to destroy capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, racism, the police, and the military.”

Maybe some of us need to start a counterrevolution. Ours would be peaceful and lawful. And what would be our clarion call? Anarchists Go Home!


1. Blessedly, the rioting has cooled down, possibly because of the rain, and things at the moment have been restored to “normalcy.” Please pray that this continues.

2. What do I think is going on? Again, I don’t know. But the official story makes no sense. I don’t think that this “spontaneous” protest/rioting movement has been so spontaneous. Interesting, isn’t it, that the riots just so happened to coincide with the one week that the UC Berkeley students have off before finals? And though I’ve been here for decades, there’s never been anything like it — yes, a riot up on Telegraph every few years, but never in downtown, never involving thousands of people, and never a takeover of a freeway, Amtrak, etc. etc. This whole thing feels planned and engineered. But by who and where? That is the million dollar question.

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Stop Police Brutality!

You may be surprised that I’m saying this: but stop police brutality!!

I can’t take it any more. Day after day, from Berkeley to NYC, the police are being brutalized. The police — who by the way put their lives on the line for us everyday — are being spit at, cursed at, threatened, pummeled by bottles and rocks and bricks. Some are being injured and sent to the hospital.

Oh, by the way, all of this protesting is against violence.

You can tell that people are not operating in their right minds when none of this makes any sense. People are angry that people have been killed by the police. So they are rampaging banks, grocery stores, and Radio Shack (while picking up a few items for Christmas). Those enraged about the police are looting Whole Foods and imbibing champagne. To show their concern and love for humanity, they block freeways, major streets, the subway stations, and Amtrak, thereby causing massive traffic jams, and, in at least one incident, interfering with a woman’s ability to get to the hospital. (1)

Remember that they are protesting against violence.

To show outrage towards the treatment of the “little people,” the rioters shatter windows and trash the stores of big corporations, such as Trader Joe’s. (Earth to rioters: Do you think that Mr. Trader Joe is going to get on his knees to clean up the mess — or Carlos and Maria from the janitorial service?)

Of course, the major source of their rage is the police in Ferguson. And therefore they are assaulting the police in Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, etc. See the logic here?

I guess their viewpoint is that every police officer is a big, racist bully. But isn’t generalizing and stereotyping all police officers a form of discrimination?

Plus, when the ordinary resident around here criticizes the police, it’s usually because they are too nice. The police have taken so many sensitivity classes, some of us wonder if they know how to catch the bad guys.

Even by Berkeley standards, the behavior of the mobs is insane and criminal ( FYI: just assembling en mass without a permit is illegal). It feels like inhabitants have ingested some Kool-Aid, turning them into mad Stepford Wives. (Even though most people aren’t taking part in the bedlam, too many still support or excuse it, thus enabling the situation to be out of control.)

Blessedly, I must have missed the hypnotic trance that day. To me, it’s all a frightening, disturbing, and absurd spectacle, one that is wasting millions of dollars, causing massive disruption in services, redirecting the police force from actually policing (2), and injuring scores of people.

And it’s a completely unacceptable form of police brutality — one that our police force, every police force, and, in fact, every single human being on this planet — does not deserve. (3)


(1) A woman in labor wasn’t able to get to the hospital because rioters blocked the freeway. A couple of those big, bad police officers had to drive against opposing traffic on the other side of the freeway (putting their lives at risk) to rescue her and to get her to the hospital in time. Thanks to them, baby and mother are doing fine.

(2) From what I’ve heard, while all of this is going on, there’s more street crime, while police from all over the Bay Area are being diverted to mob control.

(3) If people want to peacefully and lawfully demonstrate, then they should absolutely be allowed to do so. But rioting has no place in a civilized society — though do we have one anymore?

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The Most Radical Act of All

Last Monday evening, I did something truly radical. No, it didn’t involve smashing windows, setting fires, or yelling obscenities at the police.

I went to church, a Catholic one, for the Holy Day of Obligation. It was for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, for Mother Mary.

I didn’t have to go. There were a million reasons not to go.

First, I was tired and worn out after a long day. Plus, I’m not a Catholic, although I do love Catholic Masses, so my presence wasn’t required. And, finally, the church is a campus ministry and close to UC Berkeley and the scene of riots. But off I went anyway.

There were a good number of people there for the evening Mass, including many university students who regularly attend the large and spirit-filled church. And in time, even more people streamed in after work or classes. Many of the parishioners looked as sleepy as me, and there were a number of yawns during the service. And yet, we all showed up.

The Mass wasn’t particularly moving. The homily was a bit stiff. And yet something stirred deep inside of me during the service.

It was something about all of these people coming out on a chilly Monday evening, in the midst of riots and unrest. Here we were all gathered together, just a few miles from all hell breaking loose; and we were doing so for God, for Mother Mary, and for each other. . . and also because of an obligation to do so. And we were doing so on our knees, prayfully, peacefully, and humbly, in sharp contrast to the destruction nearby.

You see, Catholics have obligatory Masses they must attend, including feast days and Sundays. Several years ago, when I first heard that Catholics had Holy Days of Obligation, I was frankly appalled. “Obligation?” I thought. “I don’t think so,” which is partly what sent me running for cover to the more laid-back Protestants. Truth be told, I have never liked feeling obligated to do anything.

And yet over time, as I’ve attended more Masses, I have seen the absolute beauty of this type of obligation, the holiness involved in simply showing up when we are tired, when there are many other things we’d rather do. It makes me realize that we are all together in this experience called “life,” we are all part of this Mystical Body. And when one person is missing, the Body isn’t complete.

It’s like being part of a family, something else that I have struggled with. I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ve avoided more family gatherings over the years than I have attended.

But what I learned from going to that obligatory Mass on Monday is that we are all part of a family, even if we are strangers to each other. And families stick together, during hard times and good. We support each other; we tolerate each other’s flaws and idiocyncracies. And we show up, even when we don’t want to.

And then it hit me that Catholics all over the world were attending church on that very same day and doing the same thing; and that some people were putting themselves at even greater risk than us in Berkeley.

It all leaves me breathless thinking about what we are involved in, what we are a part of; something so big and powerful that no one can truly understand it. We are the true radicals, not the anarchists looting stores and blocking traffic.

What we did, what we do every Sunday, is perhaps the most daring action of all: showing up, for each other, for God. And somehow doing this in a Berkeley church, just miles away from the mayhem, brought this all home to me.

And if people from Berkeley to Missouri to Timbuktu took the same radical step, we could finally end the madness and mayhem. Because only through God, loving Him, and serving Him will there ever be any possibility of peace and unity on earth.

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When Crime Pays

When I was in my 20s, I was heavily involved in feminism. My main issue was violence against women.

I recall going to a Take Back the Night March in Manhattan in the l970s, when the city was a snake pit of porn palaces and sexual assaults. There were hundreds of thousands of men and women at the event. The march organizer received permits to block off the street (1), and we all chanted and held signs, lawfully. At the end of the march, we went home, hopeful that perhaps our efforts helped to combat sexual violence.

We were “protesters,” and “demonstrators.” We did our work peacefully and caused no problems for the police. It would have been really dumb, unthinkable, to protest violence with more violence.

And then we have the riots of 2014.

Now we live in a culture where the terms protester and demonstrator have taken on new meaning. With the rioting and mayhem in Missouri, Berkeley, Oakland, etc. the words are now used for out-of-control anarchy.

Apparently, many who are unhappy with the Ferguson decision are voicing their displeasure by destroying stores, overturning cars, burning property, doing widespread looting, trashing subway stations, taking over the freeways, and injuring people, including the police. They are supposedly protesting violence. . and yet doing so by being violent.

When I read about their actions, the media keeps calling them protesters and demonstrators. Aren’t there other words that are more apt, such as lawless mobs, criminals, rioters, terrorists, anarchists?

What’s happening in Oakland, etc. is a repeat of what has occurred since the 60s, that is, a small group of people being given carte blanche to rape and pillage. (Significantly, many rapes have occurred at Occupy events — so much for our march in the 70s trying to restore the dignity of womanhood.) The hard-core Left (2) seized control over Berkeley/Oakland in the 60s and 70s, creating a reign of terror for the innocent. Not much has changed since then, except the mayhem has spread all over the country to racially-motivated flash mobs and knock ’em down assaults.

Back in the 60s, there were some voices of sanity who condemned random violence towards the innocent, who assailed the destruction of other’s hard-earned property. We had Presidents condemn the mayhem. But no longer.

Now, most voices are silent. Either some people still buy into the adolescent idea that those who put their lives on the line every day for us are “pigs.” Then there are those people too terrified to open their mouths. It’s no wonder; they’ll be called truly vicious and defamatory names for doing so. And, given that so many in this country have lost their common sense, those who are victims of all of this destruction may feel that they are somehow to blame.

Of course, there’s the Left’s constant refrain: Police brutality; it’s all the police’s fault; they made us do it; they started it. Like a weak child unwilling to take responsibility for his action, the hard-core Left blames everyone else for absolutely everything. (Of course, should those same radicals need the police due to the astronomical amount of crime around here, they’d be the first to call upon them, and then complain bitterly when the police take too long to come. And, yet, maybe the long delays for 911 have something to do with decimated police budgets from all the rioting and Occupying.)

As I conclude this piece, I hear the sirens of an emergency vehicle blaring. It makes me wonder why. Is it the mobs continuing to riot? Will they come around where I am? One doesn’t know. And it’s that ability to cause terror throughout a population that is the Left’s piece de resistance.

But let’s tell the truth here. No, the people taking it to the streets aren’t protestors. No, they aren’t demonstrators. They are bullies, cowards, thugs, and opportunists: lost, angry, destructive people with no self-control, who are allowing themselves to be manipulated and controlled by the biggest radical of all. (3)

And, no, most of the people who start this mayhem aren’t even participating in the riots. They are the old Left, the Bill Ayers of the world, behind the scenes in their million dollar mansions engineering the destruction; and the young Left, instigating trouble through Facebook; and many faceless people and organizations kept secret. As in so many wars, the people who create it don’t usually get their hands dirty.

A young Juan Williams assailed this practice decades ago: that is, the Left’s using young black males as their foot soldiers. Williams demanded, in a fiery article back in the 80s, that white leftists stop using young blacks as their cannon fodder.

As I said, not much has changed since then.


(1) All of these so-called protests are unlawful. It is against the law to have huge crowds of people assemble without a permit, a rather salient point being ignored.

(2) Most residents around here consider themselves liberals or progressives, not Leftists. The radical Left is a small minority around here, and everywhere, for that matter. And most liberals and progressives do not believe in violence or engage in it. However, too many of them will excuse it for reasons that I’ve written about many times before: brainwashing, guilt, fear, still buying into the dream, etc. In my view, when we don’t condemn violence, however, we have some culpability in it.

(3) The Left’s darling, Saul Alinsky, dedicated his book, Rules for Radicals, to the biggest radical of all, as he called him, Lucifer.

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A Crime You Won’t Hear about

A high school teacher was shot and murdered the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at 3:30 p.m., while hiking in a popular park in the Oakland Hills, in a wealthy part of town. Articles describe him as an “upstanding citizen.”

But you won’t hear about it on the news. You won’t read about it in your daily newspaper.

The President won’t be scolding certain members of the populace about it.

The Attorney General won’t be investigating it.

No new laws will be passed to guard against this happening again.

Are the lives of some victims more valuable than others?

And the madness continues.

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Freedom and Slavery

In these post-modern times, people regard themselves as truly liberated. Because they can engage in wild and extreme behavior, they think they are free men and women. But the truth is that they are enslaved.

I’m talking about slavery to sin.

Now this may sound as Neanderthal as it gets. I probably sound like the silly Church Lady from Saturday Night Live. Our “post-Christian” culture tries to erase what is as obvious as the nose on our face: that humans are prone to sin. Every culture throughout time has known this and has tried to protect people from themselves.

Actually, Americans still believe in sin, although sin now means something completely different from the past. What is now considered sinful behavior is being “racist,” “intolerant,” a “hater,” (whatever those words now mean).

But what about real sin, true sin, the kind that destroys the spirit and weakens the body? These are no longer considered misdeeds. In fact, in our Orwellian world, soul-destroying behavior is viewed as good. It’s good to hook up with a stranger and have random sex in a random park. It’s liberating for a girl to pull up her top in a bar. Having anonymous sex, lots of sex, group sex, sex that involves bruises and welts, these are all signs of freedom.

And where does all of this “freedom” lead? HPV virus, herpes, trichinosis, chlamydia, AIDS, genital warts, unintended pregnancies, syphilis, and gonorrhea.

Are we having fun yet?

There’s not only a physical fallout but profound emotional and spiritual ones. Meaningless hook-ups produce an abject loneliness that pierces the soul and can lead to hopelessness and despair. At our core, we are meant for relationships, not drug-infused intercourse with a stranger or a casual friend. Human beings are only happy when we feel loved and valued and respected. And this doesn’t happen in the parking lot of the local pub.

What we have today — what is called freedom or fun or sexual liberation — is actually a form of slavery. It’s sexual slavery, although much of it is voluntary. (One, however, wonders how voluntary it is for our youth, who are subjected to relentless social conditioning by the media and deluged with naked pictures from their phones and computers. And young adults and teens don’t want to be accused of the cardinal sin for their age group — being uncool.)

And yet there is another way.

If a person is truly interested in freedom, there is only one choice, and that is God. But God is now mocked as was the Church Lady; He is viewed as a big spoil sport, when girls and boys just want to have fun. But the only true road to liberation is through God, by God, by serving Him. . .. and pleasing Him. And we all know in our heart of hearts what behavior pleases and offends Him.

God offers us everything that our ravenous souls need. He is the only source of life and joy. Everything else leads to death. There is no freedom apart from God, and no peace. He is the source of all hope, of everything that opens the heart and transforms mind. What we have hungered for is waiting for us right this minute with open arms if we only had the courage to look.

Ask yourself these questions: Are you enslaved? Are you free? If, for you, empty hook-ups are the road to liberation, God gives you the freedom to choose this path. But God also offers each and every one of us a radically different way.


Note to Readers: I know what I’m writing about. I’m a victim of the social conditioning of the 60s and 70s, and, only through the grace of God, am I alive to tell the tale. As a survivor of those out-of-control times, I will tell you that none of it was worth it. I have the physical and emotional scars to prove it.

God is always ready to welcome us back into the fold and to make us whole again. But for your health and your well-being, I’m here to warn you: don’t wait too long.

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It’s Been Lovely But I Have to Scream Now

If you spend any time around Berkeley, you can’t help noticing how noisy the place is. There’s a constant cacophony of sound. Earlier in the week, I saw a white guy yelling at the top of his lungs, scattering a gaggle of young boys who were standing near him. Yesterday I heard a black man going ballistic, frightening a couple of elderly ladies. (Which just proves that Berkeley offers equal opportunity lunacy to people of all races, creeds, and colors.)

But it’s not just the certifiably insane who shriek around here at the top of their lungs. People can start hollering for no good reason.

Road rage is a big one. If someone does something to offend another, he will be treated to the F bomb and other socially inappropriate gestures. If the aggrieved one has had a particularly bad day, he may storm out of his car and go postal on the other person, acting as though the driver had just massacred his entire family (or, even worse, voted for a Republican). If a pedestrian walks too slowly in a crosswalk, a driver may explode for being delayed another 15 seconds.

Aside from road rage, there is always the possibility of a stormy, mob protest for any random reason: an unpopular jury verdict; tuition increases at the university; if the local medical marijuana dispensary raises its prices.

The BART trains rumble; Amtrak blares its horns day and night; music is played at eardrum-destroying decibel in stores and restaurants. . . the noise pollution never stops. Sometimes it gets to me so much that I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs, “SHUT UP!” (but then, of course, I would be hollering like a lunatic as well.)

Many of the citizens fight back by creating their own, virtual noise: talking on cell phones and cranking up their IPODS. It’s no wonder; why wouldn’t a populace under constant siege want to tune it all out and reside in one’s own Private Idaho?

Although this pandemonium is business as usual around here, none of it is normal. Continual, overstimulating, and, at times, menacing sounds keep a population on edge. No wonder people around here need a never ending stream of massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, aromatherapists, and acupuncturists to try, in vain, to calm the system down.

What is actually normal and healthy for human beings is some quiet time to restore feelings of well-being and safety: to allow the jaw to unclench and the neck muscles to soften. This might mean some time unwired to tech to smell the roses and admire a new baby. Only through having some peace and quiet can we engage with ourselves and other people.

But, more importantly, we can only hear God when we silence the mind. When we are constantly assaulted by noise, how can we hear the gentle whisper of God? How can we discern who God is and what He wants for our lives? And, yet, our culture tries every which way to distract us and keep us estranged from God.

Maybe there’s a reason for this constant noise, after all.

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If You Don’t Have a Sense of Humor, It’s Not Funny

There are so many things that get under my skin around Berkeley: the crime, filth, and trash; the road rage; and the naked people. But one of the most irksome is that so few people have a sense of humor.

Imagine living in an area where you have to screen every potential comment for racial, gender, and transgender sensitivity. And every time you dare to open your mouth, there’s a pretty good chance that someone will shut you up.

For instance, I was at the bank last fall when we were having a string of lovely, warm days. Amiably, I said to the teller, “It seems like we’re having an Indian summer.” To which the well trained, young white male responded, “Hm. I wonder if the term, ‘Indian summer,’ is racist.” To which I swiftly reacted, “Oh, please. I am so sick of political correctness. It’s a nice day out, okay?”

None of it was funny.

Now if you’ve been paying any kind of attention the last few years, you’ve probably noticed the same thing: that those on the left are generally humorless. And when they joke, the humor is often vicious, such as making rape jokes about Sarah Palin and trashing her Down Syndrome child. Then there was Newsweek’s light hearted romp entitled, “Killing Granny.” But real, refreshing, clever humor? Hard to find.

And that gives you a hint of what it’s like living around Berkeley. You can walk the town, have a mocha expresso at a Peet’s coffee house, attend a lecture at UC Berkeley. You’ll see plenty of people adorned with Che t-shirts, solemnly reading about Trotsky. But you’ll rarely see a smiling, laughing face among them.

The young males out here aren’t laughing. How can they laugh when the young women berate them for being “gender insensitive” every time they open their mouths. The young women aren’t laughing . . . they’re too busy scrutinizing others’ speech for possible gender insensitivity. The older folks are too busy glaring at those who dare to throw out a plastic container.

It’s not the fault of all Berkeley-ites. Some of them, I’m sure, were laugh-out-loud hilarious when they lived elsewhere. But there’s just something about this place: a dark cloud of doom and gloom hovering over everyone, even on a bright and sunny day. Maybe it’s the unbearable urban stress, with its astronomical housing costs and bumper-to-bumper traffic sure to erase any hint of a good mood. Then there’s the radicalization of the population, where previously upbeat people turn dour as they are continually reminded of all of the injustice in the word.

For me, it’s been a struggle to maintain my sense of humor. Fortunately, I grew up in a family where my parents were always laughing, “kibbitzing,” as they called it. My father, especially, was a natural born entertainer. Mom was more the “straight man,” acting wacky and thus providing ample material for dad’s jokes. While my father’s constant joking with everyone was wearisome when I was young, now I savor recalling his joie de vivre.

The vibe in Berkeley wasn’t as bad when I first got to here in the 80s. There was a modicum of humor until critical theory and critical feminism and critical everything swallowed up any possibility of fun.

I still recall going to see a lesbian comic 20 years ago or so, with the room packed with lesbians. The crowd was howling with laughter as the comic gently teased them about their lifestyle and relationships. (It’s probably not a coincidence that I haven’t seen that comic perform around here for a good many years.)

And then there was “Pat” on Saturday Night Live, from the l990s, who was a popular, recurring character. Played by Julia Sweeney, Pat was a gender ambiguous man/woman who kept the audience guessing about whether he/she was a man or a woman. Do you really think that in these gender-paranoid times, Pat would be allowed anywhere near SNL?

But life is dry and lifeless without a sense of humor. It’s why every culture has had its share of jokes, including ethnic ones. I recently read about a comedienne bemoaning the intolerance now towards any ethnic jokes. Didn’t we all hear and make Italian/Irish/Polish/Jewish etc. etc. jokes growing up and didn’t we all somehow survive?

As Wavy Gravy once said, “If you don’t have a sense of humor, it’s not funny.” Wavy Gravy was the clown at Woodstock. Ironically, he once lived in Berkeley, and I used to see him parading around town in his clown suit from time to time, laughing and waving at people.

But I haven’t seen him anywhere around here for a very long time.

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