From the Publisher: East to West

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Arnold G. York

Recent reports from Washington, D.C., seemed to indicate that President Trump is beginning to feel more comfortable in the job and no longer feels the necessity to have advisors who actually know something around him. It’s reassuring to know that, in the past year, what we saw was the president acting with the benefit of sage advice. Just imagine what the next year holds without the benefit of those cooler heads around him.

As the noose tightens around the White House, the pressure is going to grow to fire Mueller and when it does happen—and I believe it will—there is going to be a major constitutional crisis. I have no idea what will happen if the president fires Mueller, orders the investigation ended and all the evidence collected either be destroyed or locked up for the next 50 years. I’ve never felt before that our constitutional government could really collapse. It will depend on what Congress and the Supreme Court are willing to do or not do.

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Celebrities in politics appear to be the order of the day and now actress (or actor, since I’m never sure what to call anyone these days) Cynthia Nixon has thrown her designer chapeau into the New York State race for Governor; from “Sex in the City” to “Sex in Albany.” (Although if you have ever been in Albany, you’d know how absurd that concept is.) The burning question on everyone’s mind is will Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte be supporting her candidacy?

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This week, everyone seems down on Facebook because some of the players in Trump’s campaign seemed to have used a bunch of data they extracted from a Facebook survey in an unscrupulous way that no one had thought of before. Politicians on at least two continents are harrumphing around, threatening hearings and all sorts of sanctions because Facebook allowed this to happen. What’s far from clear to me is whether they really want Facebook to become the censor-in-chief, deciding who is and who isn’t an appropriate customer or how the data it is selling can be used. Sadly, the other side of the wonderful concept that all information should be open and free is that there are a bunch of nasty SOBs who are just salivating at the prospect of getting their hands on that info and using it to sell you toothpaste or a politician, or to blacken the reputation of their opponents. We do need some controls but stop trying to put black hats on the people running the social media websites. We’ve all contributed to the creation of this Frankenstein monster and if you think not, try turning off your smart phone and then go a week without looking at it. Recently, a friend challenged me to do that and I get chills at the thought of being out of (instant) touch for a week.

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Our Coastal Commission is up to its usual tricks. Effectively, they agreed to the removal of the Rindge Dam up in Malibu Creek to improve fish habitats or whatever their rationale may be. However, they did it without having any information about how this is going to affect the Serra Retreat area or the Malibu Civic Center, with possible flooding or even habitat destruction. When the Malibu locals came up to protest that perhaps the commission should wait to get evidence before deciding, its response seemed to be that there is plenty of time for that, since the project isn’t scheduled to begin until 2025. Apparently, if Coastal likes an idea, it’s willing to waive the evidence gathering part of making its decision and go right to the vote. On the other hand, if you want to add a bidet in your bathroom renovation, you’re probably going to have to prove to them through expert evidence that it will have absolutely no impact on the melting of polar ice caps.

But Coastal may have another problem that’s just now in the pipeline, up in Northern California at a place called Martins Beach. A California tech billionaire, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, locked off a beach access across his property and just about every environmental group sued him to reopen it. California courts, which have generally agreed with the environmentalists, told him to open it and Coastal is now investigating their usual “go along with us or we can fine you up to $11,250 per day threat.” The problem is usually the environmental establishment and its allies have people outgunned and most don’t have the resources to fight back; all they’ve seemed to have done this time is irritated a very, very wealthy and stubborn guy, who lawyer-ed up. Not with just any lawyer, but with Paul Clements, former solicitor general of the United States and former law clerk to Justice Anton Scalia. Some legal observers are of the opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court might take the case this session. We’ll see.

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I’ll close with a pet peeve of Karen and mine. What is it about cell phones that keeps people buried in them, even out in public areas? It’s bad enough when they walk through shopping center parking lots, looking at their cell phones with cars pulling out all around them, but now they’re crossing Pacific Coast Highway while looking at their phones. It’s got to be some sort of death wish.