Mailbag: Patrician values cost GOP, McCain victory

Stratfor, a private U.S. intelligence company with high-power clients around the globe, disclosed that Sen. John McCain was aware of significant voter fraud during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Despite having had evidence that the Democrats had allegedly stuffed ballot boxes in Ohio and Pennsylvania on election night, McCain chose not to pursue charges against the Obama campaign. In essence, he handed the presidency to his opponent without putting up a fight.

McCain's behavior seems in stark contrast to his impressive record of heroism as a Naval aviator. Shot down over enemy territory during the Vietnam conflict, he was held captive in Hoa Lo prison for five years and endured regular beatings. McCain beat the odds. He survived the torture without the obvious psychological damage incurred by many similarly traumatized veterans. He appears to have had, by apparent objective evidence, a successful life.

His timidity during the 2008 presidential campaign, his obvious lack of judgment in the choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, and his flawed campaign strategy seem to be a striking paradox in a man trained in professional warfare. Is there some way to understand such contradictions?

Gentlemen eschew un-gentlemanly behavior, insisting on playing by the Marquess of Queensberry Rules even as their opponents defeat them in bloody fights. Unlike blue-collar families, the affluent send their sons to private schools where they are educated not to be rowdy hooligans. Instead of being encouraged to defend themselves in a street fight, they are admonished against lowering themselves by such undignified behavior.

Is it really better to be knifed or gunned down and die a gentleman? The country club GOP crowd seems to think it is!

In this culture, self-defense is viewed as a character flaw, not survival protocol. Instead of a virile young warrior, the Republican inner circle elite anoint a 71-year-old, tired man as a candidate. They do it twice — Sen. Bob Dole was first — for good measure. As a consequence, two presidential elections are lost before the first vote is even cast!

Why choose obvious losers? Even if McCain had been much younger, he would have been a poor choice.

His congressional and academic records were undistinguished. He always seeks to oppose or compromise, not stand and fight.

How do we make sense out of McCain's steadfast refusal to take up arms and challenge Obama's 20-year apprenticeship at Jeremiah Wright's church, his close friendships with radical activist Bill Ayers, or the still smoldering questions about the matter of his eligibility for the presidency itself? McCain refused to address these issues and fired a senior adviser who did.

How do we explain the choice of a loser and the chosen one's losing choice? An esteemed colleague aptly described it as self-sacrifice.

It is a Christian virtue immortalized in the martyrdom of Jesus Christ himself, of many Catholic saints as well as saintly souls like Joan of Arc and untold numbers of missionaries in god-forsaken parts of the globe. It is exemplified in such homilies as it is better to give than to receive. A 4-year-old would instantly spot the weakness in the argument and be wise to ask, "Who says?" Amen to that!

It is not only unwise to keep giving and giving, it is fatal, as we are witnessing in our own culture. We have been raised to be nice, kind, charitable and unselfish.

Our Judeo-Christian faiths instruct us to tithe and instill guilt if we do not. The question of the personal cost to our families is moot. Whether we can afford such largesse is often irrelevant. We tithe to avoid the sometimes public shame we would feel if we refused.

It is said that the neurosis of the leader or founder becomes part of his institution or religion. Christ's martyrdom is the ultimate self-sacrifice. By his act, psychological victimhood has been institutionalized as well as glorified in Christianity.

Would it not have been better if Christ smote Judas before he committed the act of betrayal? The history of Western civilization would have been very different if he had.

There is no virtue in picking losers and getting defeated, in allowing our country to be invaded and parasitized, in allowing our values and institutions to be destroyed and in giving away everything we fought and died to build and create for the past 250 years. Our beloved America is very much a Christian country, despite Obama's pronouncement that it is not.

We have, therefore, inherent in our national psychology the fatal flaw in the New Testament of turning the other cheek. We are witnessing self-sacrifice on a national scale that needs to be reversed, lest it prove as fatal to us as to our Lord and savior.

Let us pray history does not repeat itself. We cannot afford it.

R. Claire Friend

Newport Beach


Thank you, Newport and Laguna

Those of us at Women of the Wells would like to thank all who participated in the Hidden Treasure Sale we had with Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach on March 31. Many came from Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

Your combined efforts of donating great items for the sale brought in enough for four wells. Plus, five of you donated whole wells, which were $1,800 each. To date, we have ordered nine bore wells, and are expecting funds for two more from the consignment shops carrying our unsold items. While the focus of this event was India, two donors are building wells in Africa.

This means that the residents of nine villages without access to clean water will be drinking crystal-clear water for generations. The women and female children will no longer have to take the long trek to a parasite-infested water source several times a day for water that is slowly killing them. They will no longer be at risk of attack by wild animals, scorpions, snakes and criminals.

In these villages, the high infant mortality rate due to waterborne diseases will stop. Life will no longer be a daily struggle for survival. Their water source will not diminish or dry up during the dry season because, when the well builders reach the water table, they will keep drilling well into it. These villages will now prosper in all ways.

In closing, I would also like to thank No Square Theatre in Laguna Beach for letting us use their facility for our sale, as well as the Soroptimists from other cities and other volunteers with a heart for the effort.

Georgiana Willis

Newport Beach

Editor's note: The writer is chairwoman of Women of the Wells.


Health care plan's effect on California

If, as several experts anticipate, the Supreme Court strikes down some or all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), California will find itself in the untenable position of having promised services it cannot possibly provide without federal funding.

California policymakers, in a rush to lead the nation in implementation of the federal law, have given little attention as to how California will address issues like funding should the PPACA fail to pass the Constitutional sniff test.

The California Health Benefit Exchange is a case in point. Created in 2010, the Exchange will operate under the assumption that massive federal subsidies will be available to accommodate the needs of low- and middle-income earners needing assistance to afford the health coverage offered through the Exchange.

Based on their public comments, it is my belief the Democratic leadership has every intention of fully implementing any legislation concerning the PPACA, regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.

As vice chairman of the Senate Health Committee, I have heard hours of testimony on legislation seeking to implement some facet of the PPACA. These measures are irresponsibly moved forward, often in the absence of definitive federal guidance, and without any plan to unwind the implementation that has taken place thus far, should the court reject the PPACA.

For example, we recently heard a bill dealing with Medi-Cal eligibility for former foster youth. The measure was amended to include language stating that it "is the intent of the Legislature to ensure full implementation of the Affordable Care Act so that millions of uninsured Californians can receive health insurance coverage and those that have already obtained coverage under its provisions can keep that coverage.

"It is further the intent of the Legislature to enact into state law any provision of the Affordable Care Act that may be struck down by the United States Supreme Court and that is necessary to ensure all Californians receive the full promise of the act."

Some California legislators have long attempted to move the state in the direction of single-payer health care and expanded mandates for coverage of services — an effort that has been largely resisted until now because of the high price tag. Leveraging the PPACA as cover to expand state-run health care — as does another Democratic-authored bill that would allow the insurance commissioner to approve the creation of government-subsidized health plans to compete against private plans and insurers — the Legislature is moving forward on programs we frankly can't afford on our own.

Once the PPACA is struck down or cut back, it appears the Legislature will continue on this path, with or without funding, and, more importantly, with no plan for this state — in perpetual budget crisis — to fund these programs.

While I am convinced that my colleagues' hearts are in the right place, moving ahead with programs we can't afford is the wrong course of action — especially with something as important as health care. I believe the Legislature should slow down and proceed more cautiously on PPACA implementation.

Accordingly, I have introduced legislation that would give the Exchange 90 days to submit a plan to the Legislature documenting how it is going to continue operating if the PPACA is struck down by the Supreme Court, or is otherwise changed. In essence, the Exchange will have 90 days to share with the Legislature its "Plan B" — including alternate sources of financing — or implementation of the Exchange grinds to a halt. Additionally, my bill will prohibit state funds from being used to replace federal dollars dedicated to Exchange operations or related functions.

The majority party's rush to implement the PPACA has put California on a potential collision course where no one wins, not the medical community, the people in need of health care nor the taxpayers. Let's get back on the rails.

Tom Harman

Costa Mesa

Editor's note: The writer is a Republican member of the state Senate representing the 35th District.


A rare win for homeowners

By now, most people are aware that Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to raise taxes by billions of dollars in November. But did you know that the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), the entity responsible for administering state tax programs, has been moving forward with a plan to raise taxes on property owners simply by amending a tax form?

Recently, it was revealed that the FTB is in the process of launching an "education campaign," which includes amending tax forms to eliminate the tax deduction of the majority of "Mello-Roos" fees. Mello-Roos fees are local benefit taxes which have been used by communities as a way to fund projects without using traditional property taxes, which are limited by Proposition 13.

The FTB's effort will eliminate property owners' ability to deduct local benefit taxes for maintenance, interest or repairs — a common use of Mello-Roos fees — from their county tax bill. This would result in an estimated $12 million taken from Orange County taxpayers alone and $140 million statewide.

This action by the FTB is outrageous and has to be stopped. Even the Internal Revenue Service disagrees. The IRS sent FTB a letter stating that the FTB's position was not supported by statute.

That's why I introduced Assembly Bill 1552.

A.B. 1552 prohibits the FTB from going forward with its plan to raise taxes on homeowners. It codifies that all Mello-Roos fees are tax-deductible.

A.B. 1552 has received broad support from taxpayer advocates and property owners. These groups question the wisdom of the FTB raising taxes in a time when Californians are hurting financially. Clearly, this policy is little more than a creative way to bring more money to Sacramento.

Due to the pressure put on it by A.B. 1552 and its supporters, the FTB has announced it has decided to reverse its position and drop its campaign to increase taxes on Californians.

I applaud the FTB's decision to reconsider. California citizens are some of the highest taxed in the nation, and California is repeatedly called by executives as the worst state in the U.S. in which to do business. The last thing taxpayers need is for government to take even more out of their paychecks.

Stopping the FTB in its tracks was a rare win for California taxpayers. Since my goal has been accomplished without needing to go forward with legislation, I will have A.B. 1552 on hold until further notice. However, I will continue to keep my eyes on this issue. Protecting Californians from unnecessary taxes is my top priority.

Jim Silva

Huntington Beach

Editor's note: The writer is a Republican member of the state Assembly representing the 67th District.

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