Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, July 7, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, July 7, 2018 

Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Kevin Barry


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Merri Jill Finstrom

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Renee Quenell

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden



I was never a fan of the children’s show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” 
when I was a kid. My eyes were usually focused on the town of Bedrock. There was a lot 
more going on there than in the sleepy place where Mr. Rogers lived. If I wasn’t hanging 
out with “The Flintstones,” I might be found immersed in the hyperkinetic world of 
Warner Brothers’ “Looney Toons.” 

 Mr. Rogers’ hometown was slow and boring. But “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” a new 
documentary about his show, now in theaters nationwide, has caused me to re-evaluate 
my opinion.

 Television in the 1950’s and 1960’s was (especially when it came to children’s 
programming) often inane and consumer-centric, pitching foods that were high in sugar 
and low in substance, household products we didn’t necessarily need, and toys like 
Barbie that defined feminine beauty. There were also the toys that not-so-subtly hinted at 
what it meant to be a man, like G.I. Joe action figures, which promoted the sale of plastic 
weapons of war. 

 I didn’t have the patience for someone as dull as Mr. Rogers. I couldn’t appreciate his 
subtle, nuanced message extolling the specialness in all of us. Tackling issues like race 
relations, death, divorce, love, loneliness, anxiety, hatred, and violence was clearly over 
my head back then. Even though I and many other kids were forced to confront them in 
our own lives.

 Fred Rogers was an ordained minister with training in child psychology; a man who 
wrote, composed and played music, designed, produced, and performed nearly everything 
viewers saw and heard on his show. He was also the pre-eminent spokesperson for both 
children’s programming and the value of public broadcasting. 

 Funding for public television was then, as now, a target of conservative leaders in 
Washington. Some considered it a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money at a time when 
President Richard Nixon was demanding increased funding for the Vietnam War. 
Despite this, the soft-spoken Rogers managed to convince Rhode Island Sen. John 
Pastore, the gruff tight-fisted Democratic Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on 
Communications at the time, of the value of programming that spoke to the need for the 
social and emotional education of children that public broadcasting provided. 

 After listening to him, a visibly moved Pastore said Rogers’ words gave him “goose 
bumps.” His gentle advocacy helped convince the committee to more than double public 
television’s budget the following year. Rogers’ appearance before Pastore’s committee, 
in 1969, is a stark contrast to the overwhelming number of congressional hearings 
currently gracing our television screens today, and a testament to those who still believe 
that differences in political and fiscal ideologies, as well as the truth, need not reek of 
partisanship and hostility. 

 Not everyone, however, subscribed to Rogers’ philosophy. After his death from cancer, 
in 2003, a Fox News commentator took to the air stating “this man, this evil, evil man 
ruined a generation of kids.” She was followed up by another member of the panel 
who said that Rogers’ message that everyone is special filled kids with a “with a sense of 

 That idea was also floated several years back by The Wall Street Journal, whose editorial 
staff (not its reporters) often acts as though they’re publishing the house organ of the 
Republican Party rather than a newspaper. It was re-iterated in a Journal column by 
Jeffrey Zaslow this past week. He quotes Don Chance, a Louisiana State University 
finance professor, who arrived at the highly original conclusion just last spring that Mr. 
Rogers is, indeed, to blame for the sense of entitlement displayed by many young people 

 Conservative finger-pointing is often obtuse and extreme. I think most parents would 
agree that their children are, in some way, special. Whether they’re kids in cages or the 
progeny of those who espouse hate and anger. Being special is not about entitlement, it’s 
about what makes us unique individuals and valued members of society. Just as being at 
opposite ends of the political spectrum makes us unique, though not always valued.

 This is a nation of neighborhoods, though it often seems we’ve drifted far afield from 
the “kinder, gentler” one former President George H.W. Bush spoke of nearly three 
decades ago; the kind espoused by Fred Rogers. Too bad. The neighborhood where he 
once resided seems like a pretty darn good place to live. 

 Maybe we can all buy a home there someday.


Copyright 2018 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Blair Bess is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer, and columnist. He edits the 
online blog, and can be reached at

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My advice to Democrats - which I’ve offered for free since the dawn 
of this century - is that they pound this mantra into their thick skulls: 
“It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.”

 But it’s probably too late for Democrats to acknowledge the obvious. 
One titanic reason why Trump-allied Republicans are now on 
the cusp of crafting a right-wing court for the next 40 years is because they always prioritize 
the court as a campaign issue and rallying cry. Democrats never do. Now they’ll suffer the 

 I’m frankly at pains to explain why most blue voters (especially blue-leaning voters who 
stay home) don’t seem to understand that the person in the White House has the power to 
shape the bench that has the final say on virtually every hot-button issue in American life. Or 
maybe most blue voters understand this perfectly well, but prefer to assess their candidates 
in terms of purity - thereby deciding that flawed Hillary Clinton was really no better than the 
GOP’s grifter.

 My question for them - after last week’s string of pro-gerrymandering, pro-Muslim ban, 
and anti-labor rulings; and in the wake of Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement - is 
simply this: Happy now?

 Trump’s voters were far more ginned up about the future of the court. By contrast, Clinton’s 
voters (and potential Clinton voters who went AWOL or voted third party) yawned 
about the court’s tilt, and yawned about Mitch McConnell’s outrageous blockage of Obama 
nominee Merrick Garland.

 The national exit polls tell the tale: 21 percent of all voters cited the Supreme Court as the 
“most important” factor in their voting decision. Among those folks, Trump swamped Clinton 
by 15 points (56-41). Among the 14 percent of voters who said the court was “a minor factor,” 
Clinton won by nine points (49-40). Among the 14 percent of voters who said the court 
was “not a factor at all,” Clinton stomped Trump by 18 points (55-37). And those stats don’t 
include the Democratic leaners who skipped the ballot or embraced Jill Stein.

 In a nutshell, Democrats want purity; Republicans want power. Social and religious conservatives 
- who have been fixated on the court for decades - made peace with Trump’s serial 
lying and abhorrent moral failures because he was their best hope for a post-Scalia conservative 

 Evangelical Christians, in particular, decided that it didn’t matter in the scheme of things 
that Trump was a detestable person. Mike Pence, one of their own, persuaded them to look at 
the big picture. They responded by voting for Trump in a landslide, 81 percent to 16 percent 
- the widest margin of any 2016 voting constituency.

 And that’s how the Republican establishment fell in line. John Boehner, the ex-House 
speaker, said during the campaign that Trump’s behavior “disgusted” him. Nevertheless, 
“The only thing that really matters over the next four years or eight years is who is going to 
appoint the next Supreme Court nominees … The biggest impact any president can have on 
American society and on the American economy is who’s on that court.”

 We also need to remember what happened in the 2014 midterms. Thanks to the usual anemic 
Democratic turnout - minorities and Millennials typically skip the midterms - Republicans 
seized control of the U.S. Senate. That’s what empowered McConnell to deny Garland a 
nomination hearing in 2016, and that’s what will empower him to confirm Kennedy’s right-
wing successor this autumn, before voters have a chance to weigh in on the Senate’s 2019 
composition. Everything is connected.

 I still have the notes from a 1999 conversation with William Kristol, the conservative activist-
commentator, who told me: “The biggest impact the next president will have on domestic 
policy will be in the realm of (high) court appointments. There are so many big things facing 
the court in the next few years - school choice, affirmative action, church-state issues, 

 And now conservatives - via their legal groups, which have long been nurturing a farm 
team of court players - are poised to give Trump a reliable nominee who’s likely to become 
the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and re-criminalize abortion. This will be Trump’s 
court now; this is one promise he has kept.

 So, for the umpteenth time: It’s the Supreme Court, stupid. And elections have 

 One of these decades, the Democratic party and its most apathetic voters might conceivably 
learn those lessons.


Copyright 2018 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at WHYY in Philadelphia and a “Writer in 
Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. Email him at


Put aside the victory lap that Trump administration is taking 
over the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold the White House’s travel ban 
from several mostly Muslim majority countries. Ignore the outrage of the refugee 
advocacy groups over what they call a retreat from traditional American values. 
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion that, plain and simple, 
U.S. presidents have the final authority over immigration.

Reducing the refugee flow could and should be a shot in the arm for unemployed 
and under-employed, low-skilled Americans. Refugees are, according to the U.S. 
Citizenship and Immigration Services website, “aliens authorized to work.” As 
such, they can immediately compete with American job seekers or possibly displace 
citizen job holders.

 Many major American employers have embarked on a campaign to hire refugees 
and give them jobs that most citizens and already-present lawful immigrants would 
eagerly accept. A 50-strong coalition of employers brainstormed on ways to provide 
greater opportunities to recently arrived refugees.

 When Time asked the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants for estimates 
about employment totals, it said that its nine-agency network placed 4,816 
refugees in jobs within six months of their arrival. The employers include hotel and 
resort chains Hilton and Marriott, and upscale supermarket Whole Foods. Refugees 
provide convenient, pliable cheap labor.

 By extension then, the total number of refugees placed in U.S. jobs in recent 
years is likely to be in the tens of thousands. Most USCRI-placed are employed in 
low-level jobs, earning an average of $10.26 per hour. The total of working refugees 
and their earnings may seem insignificant to the casual observer unless he happens 
to be an unemployed or under-employed American. An abundance of low-
skilled immigrants drives down opportunities and wages for similarly low-skilled 

 On the other hand, many refugees don’t enter the labor market, but instead depend 
on social services. The pro-immigration Migration Policy Institute found that 
welfare usage varied widely depending on country of origin. But refugee families 
immediately qualify for cash welfare benefits, food assistance and public health 

 Most other legal immigrants are ineligible to receive these benefits for their first 
five years of residency, and illegal immigrants are barred altogether. Consequently, 
the refugee population as a whole is more likely to receive U.S. taxpayer-subsidized 
affirmative benefits than either the nonrefugee immigrant or the U.S.-born 

 Immigrants simply are expensive for American taxpayers. In 2016, 42 percent of 
noncitizen households received some type of federal assistance, most often cash, 
food stamps and Medicare. The Supreme Court outcome will also slow the importation 
of poverty, a questionable public policy in light of the nation’s acute income 
inequality disparity, on the increase since 1970.

 By slowing the refugee stream, the Supreme Court decision means that the labor 
market will tighten, and therefore create more employment chances for Americans 
and likely at higher wages than previously offered. Those who live below the poverty 
line and are welfare-dependent should also decline.


Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written 
about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at

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