Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, November 17, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page B:5



 Mountain Views News Saturday, November 17, 2018 


Left of Left

Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 




Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton



[Correction: In my OpEd last Saturday—11/ I0/18—I stated 
that Trump’s newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matt 
Whitaker is a “convicted criminal” for defrauding investors of 
$25 million in a securities scam. NOT TRUE! Whitaker’s legal 
troubles began in 2014 after he was named to the advisory 
board of World Patent Marketing, a patent securities firm, 
while still serving as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, when in 2017 he was 
reassigned to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., to work as an aid for Attorney 
General Jeff Sessions.]

 A story recently reported, in the Daily Beast [11/07/18] by Michael Daly, “In May of 
this year, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction barring World Patent Marketing 
from conducting business. The judge also imposed a $25,987,192 fine, [for defrauding 
investors millions of dollars] which little is expected to be paid as the company’s CEO 
Scott Cooper pleads inability to pay… The FTC complaint notes that six members of 
the World Patent Marketing advisory board never gave advise, but it’s not clear whether 
Whitaker was one of them….”] I stand by my other remarks last weekend why it is my 
opinion Matt Whitaker is a terrible choice as Acting AG.

 The big story this week is, of course, the first arrival of Central American refugee-
immigrants at the U.S.—Mexico border, just south of San Diego. NPR’s Tuesday evening 
[11/13/18] blog report, complete with a large banner headline, said: “LGBT Splinter 
Group From Migrant Caravan Is The 1st To Arrive In Tijuana.” The report continues: 
“About 80 migrants, the majority of whom identify as LGBT, splintered off from the 
larger group in Mexico City after weeks of what they say was discriminatory treatment 
by local residents and other travelers…” Estimates of immigrants coming to U.S. seeking 
asylum now range from 7,500 to 11,000.

 Has President Trump’s fear-mongering about criminal immigrants “invading” our 
southern border really improved the lot of republicans in Congress, state houses, or 
governorships? Has his non-stop motor mouthing about alien murders and rapists, 
complete with MS-13, roaming the America’s hinterland, really justified deploying the 
U.S. Army to the border to defend us? Or maybe, just maybe the real purpose of the 
President’s incessant jabbering is to create a fearful climate conducive to his kind of 
political drama, to cynically manipulate the results of the midterm elections? 

 It makes me think of a twisted version of an old Warner Brothers war movie, where 
“the Gipper,” Ronald Reagan, and his movie star buddies instead of winning the war, 
loses it! Germany gets the bomb before we do, just in time to wipe out our allies great 
Britain, France, and the Soviet Union—ending with the world divided along the lines 
George Orwell described it in his dystopian novel “1984”—complete with Big brother 

 Fear is a fundamental force in human nature. It lies deep in our collective conscience, 
stemming from thousands of years of internecine warfare. It goes hand-in-hand with 
wanting something that ISN’T yours with somebody else wanting something that IS 
yours. What President Trump is doing is as old as politics itself—pitting each of us 
against each other—making us delude ourselves into believing we are God’s chosen 
righteous Christian soldiers fighting a holy war against everyone we consider Philistine 
heretics. This is the same “nativism” that welcomed my Irish, Scottish immigrant 
ancestors, and every other racial-religious-ethnic immigrant group since the United 
States was founded.

 The immigrant caravans President Trump spoke about with such vitriol before 
the midterms are coming and justifiably so, because U.S. exceptionalism under the 
Monroe Doctrine has made their countries what they are today—corrupt oligarchies. 
Psychically, however, the caravans the President quit harping about abruptly after the 
elections, when they had served their purpose, are where they have always been, in the 
dark recesses of his bigoted, intolerant mind, where his devilish nihilism has created 
them to terrorize the rest of us, as they have by every other demigod throughout human 

 Concluding one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, “The Monsters are due on 
Maple Street,” creator Rod Serling says these prophetic words: “The tools of conquest 
do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that 
are simply thoughts, attitudes—to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, 
prejudices can kill and suspicions can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a 
scapegoat has a fallout of its own for the children… the children yet unborn… And the 
pity of it is… that these things cannot be confined to… The Twilight Zone!”


The Lighter Side by


While in the passenger’s seat on the way to dinner 
with my lovely wife, I fumbled around with my 
smart phone. For some reason the damn thing 
yielded as much energy as an empty box of 
Wheaties. What was it? I had no apps opened. It 
was fully charged when I left the house not even 
10 minutes ago. As the beautiful sights of the city’s 
hustle and bustle passed me by, I pondered some 
more. This time the conspiracy theories ruled my 
train of thought. It’s just their way to get me to 
buy a new phone. It probably has some unseen 
mechanism inside which self-destructs on a set 
date. Somewhere they are all laughing at me…I 
know it.

 Next thing you know you’ve arrived at your 
destination with your dead phone in your hand 
and you wonder…how did it come to this? I spent 
most of my adult life without a gadget dying in my 
hand and now, here I am relying on it for my fix of 
news, weather, music, games, memes and emojis. 
Those last two words didn’t even exist a few years 
ago. Now they are so common, that Oxford had to 
let them in. 

 Look, some technological advances are great! 
People are given the chance to walk again with 
amazingly futuristic, artificial legs; we are exploring 
the deepest reaches of space and plan to live on Mars 
someday, and you can figure out that you wasted 
hundreds of dollars on authentic Irish memorabilia 
only to find out through the latest DNA test that 
you’re Hungarian, Italian and Swedish. Anybody 
need pajamas with four-leaf clovers on them?

 Bottom line, everything doesn’t need to be 
technologically advanced. Here’s an example. Once 
in our restaurant, I made my way to the men’s room. 
After the automatic urinal splashes questionable 
water on me (TMI?), I stick my hands under the 
sink faucets and nothing happens. Why? Because 
the sink works the way sinks worked for the first 
40 years of my life…manually. We’ve just become 
so used to things just happening on command. 
Like the towel dispenser that is “motion activated” 
to promptly give you two inches of a towel after 
waving your hand under it anywhere from two to 
143 times. You know…for convenience.

 Back at the table, you can pay your bill at the 
video kiosk. Apps on the phone figure out your 
tip and split your bill 10 ways if you want, just by 
simply taking a picture of your receipt. Pretty soon, 
you won’t even need your server. But then who will 
be there to roll their eyes when I ask for my dressing 
on the side, no sour cream, and my third refill of 
Mr. Pibb? 

 All the supermarkets have self-checkout lanes 
now. You know, those lanes where you’re not 
checking out by yourself because there’s always that 
one cashier hovering over you, ready to pounce 
when those certain, self-checkout problems arise. 
Excuse me, it’s asking me how many bags, when 
I have no bags. Excuse me, where do I insert my 
personal check? Excuse me, I scanned my alfalfa 
and it rang it as Alka Seltzer. And you can pay any 
way you desire; cash, checking, savings, PayPal, 
Apple Pay, Google Pay, pretty soon you’ll just think 
your way into debt. 

 Here’s something. Appliances are talking to us. 
That’s just what we need for the advancement of 
our species. Sure it starts off all innocent with your 
refrigerator given you step-by-step instructions 
for veggie lasagna and next thing you know you’re 
arguing politics with your toaster; the same toaster 
that started mysteriously burning your blueberry 
Pop-Tarts right after the 2016 election. Hmm.

 On a personal note, my appliances are not that 
advanced yet, though my refrigerator beeps at me 
when I leave the door open. You know, so I don’t 
leave the door open all night only to wake up to find 
my dogs licking up melted rocky road off the floor. 
You know how many times that happened to me in 
my lifetime? NEVER! 

 Everything beeps now; the phone, oven, fridge, 
washer, dryer, front door, back door, car door, 
fitness gadgets, tablets, robots, etc. They are all 
beeping and keeping us in line. Makes me wonder 
who’s in charge? 

 Speaking of robots, have you ever see that 
commercial for the “good robot” where the drone 
is carrying off that baby? Are you kidding me? 
The scariest part is that it is probably more real 
than we think. Soon drones will be delivering our 
packages, cars will all drive themselves and we’ll be 
controlling computers with our minds. Imagine 
what a wonderful world it will be. What could go 

 In the meantime, I’m making funeral 
arrangements for my phone. Go ahead, laugh 
now. Soon, it will be a thing…you’ll see. 

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On Sunday afternoons in the late 1970s and early 1980s, long 
after 11 a.m. mass had finished, my cousin and I would head 
down the street to a little convenience store, hard against the 
Berlin Turnpike, that sold milk, bread, snacks, sundries, and, 
most important of all - comic books.

 We’d let ourselves in, the bell hanging on top of the door jingling, the traffic still 
echoing in our ears in the brisk snap of a New England fall, and head for the spinning 
rack where four-color heroes on newsprint pulled us in with gravitational force.

 Our prizes collected, we’d pay, and head back for an afternoon of heavy reading, 
passing the books between us until the sun hung low in the sky and our parents were 
beckoning from the front door, the cars warming in the driveway.

 I’d read the Marvel titles and pretend I liked them. In truth, it was mostly to humor 
my cousin. I was a DC kid through and through.

 Then one Saturday afternoon, I discovered a copy of a paperback collection called 
“Origins of Marvel Comics.” It was pretty much what it sounded like: An omnibus 
reprint of the origin stories of “The Fantastic Four,” “The Hulk,” “Spider-Man,” “Thor,” 
and the mysterious “Dr. Strange.”

 I finally understood the human-level dramas of the dysfunctional “Fantastic Four.” 
The dangers of the nuclear age, and the Cold War, then still very real, were driven home 
in the tragedy of “The Hulk.” Thor’s pseudo-Chaucerian dialogue was preposterous, but 
I loved it anyway. The ostracization “The X-Men” endured was a metaphor for every 
repressed minority, a reminder of how easy it is to hate and fear someone or something 
you don’t understand.

 A New York kid with outsized ambitions, Lee (born Stanley Liber) figured his work 
in comics would be a way station on the way to literary greatness. It didn’t happen, but 
something even more profound did.

 Lee became an assistant at Timely Comics in 1939, which would later evolve into 
Marvel Comics. After a decade or so of post-World War II artistic stagnation, Lee 
helped spark what’s become known as “The Silver Age” of comics in the early 1960s. Lee 
rose to become Marvel’s editor-in-chief.

 While he was a visionary, Lee was hardly perfect - as a unsparing 2016 profile in New 
York Magazine made painfully clear.

 He had a nasty habit of hogging credit for his heroes. His gift for unrelenting self-
promotion meant that the real talent behind the books - the great Jack “King” Kirby, 
Steve Ditko (who died in June at age 90) and the surrealistically stylish Jim Steranko 
- were unjustly overshadowed and robbed of the credit they so richly deserved.

 “Stan Lee and I never collaborated on anything,” Kirby told an interviewer in 1989, 
according to that 2016 New York Magazine profile. “It wasn’t possible for a man like 
Stan Lee to come up with new things - or old things, for that matter. Stan Lee wasn’t a 
guy that read or that told stories.”

 But Lee, as the face of Marvel, helped keep the company afloat through fallow times. 
And his high-stepping style drew in generations of fans. He penned a florid monthly 
column in those 1970s comics, signing off with a jaunty “Excelsior!” at the end of each 

 And even though he didn’t own the rights to his creations, Lee parted from Marvel 
in the early 1990s with a severance package so immense that the child of The Great 
Depression never had to worry about money ever again.

 At the end of his life, Lee battled failing health and allegations that he was the subject 
of elder abuse, which played out in a Los Angeles courtroom over the course of this 

 Even so, that didn’t keep him from hitting the convention circuit. Lee’s 2018 schedule 
included Silicon Valley Comic Con. At that convention, his health had deteriorated to 
the point where he was struggling to sign his name. He announced his exit from the 
convention circuit in August.

 Maybe it’s true that Lee didn’t exactly tell stories. It’s more accurate to say that he 
provided the architecture for greater writing talents to tell those stories, and for gifted 
artists to make them leap off the page.

 But it’s also true that Lee did something of equal, or, perhaps greater importance: 
His pride in those creations and his unrelenting promotion of them, now means that 
garishly costumed heroes, whose adventures are disposable by their very nature, have 
survived, and have been passed down to new generations of readers.

 Yes, I know, those heroes are now multi-billion dollar properties that effectively print 
money for their Hollywood overlords. But that won’t keep me from getting more than a 
tad nostalgic about it.

 After all, myths and legends fade from memory if there’s no one around to repeat 
them. And Lee, who helped give breath to our latter-day myths and legends, did that 
almost better than anyone.

 So, one last time, “Excelsior!”

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist 
for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @
ByJohnLMicek and email him at



An immigration attorney coming to the defense of Jefferson Beauregard 
Sessions, who lost his job as U.S, attorney general on Wednesday, is akin to 
a Christian coming to the defense of the lions of ancient Rome: It’s surprising 
and just plain weird.

 But that is what this immigration attorney is going to do, and I understand 
that it won’t elicit enthusiasm from the extremes on the left or the right, 
particularly after the midterms.

 At the outset, I have to note that I abhor the immigration policies put into 
place under Sessions, who embraced with obvious enthusiasm his role as Deporter-in-Chief. After he 
took office, the following groups of people were on his hit list: refugees, mothers with children, victims 
of domestic abuse, victims of gang violence, and anyone who uses the word caravan. He reinterpreted 
longstanding administrative policy to narrow the options for asylum seekers, tried to end Deferred 
Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), severely limited the ability of immigration judges to exercise 
discretion, and implied that people like me are coaching our clients to lie about the persecution they 

 He did all of this under the guise of making America safer, which seems ironic, since the only large-
scale terror attacks while Sessions was in office were conducted by U.S. citizens already in the country, 
including Wednesday night’s shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that left 12 dead; the 2017 assault on 
GOP congressmen in which Sen. Steve Scalise was shot; and last month’s assassination of 11 worshippers 
at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. 

 The perpetrators of those crimes? Not a Middle Easterner, Latino gang-banger, or anchor baby in the 
bunch. So I am not a huge fan of Sessions’ approach to keeping America safe on the backs of people who 
are themselves desperate to find safety. His version of immigration reform is cruel and draconian.

 Nevertheless, I’m disgusted by President Trump’s treatment of a man who was loyal to him, but who 
no longer served his purposes.

 I believe that Trump demanded Sessions’ resignation because he knows that come January, he will 
be heading into choppy waters as the opposition party takes control of the House. With images of 
subpoenas dancing in his head, it seems that he wanted to put a firewall between himself and some 
crusading Democrats. Plus, he has always seemingly resented Sessions for recusing himself from the 
Russian investigation.

 But with that recusal, Sessions showed loyalty and integrity, two qualities that I admire and treasure. 
He deserves our respect for showing allegiance to the country over his boss.

 I’m outraged about Trump’s firing of his most loyal minion. If the president actually looked at his 
Justice Department, he would see that Sessions had single-handedly advanced the Trump agenda on 
drugs, criminal justice, and, as I noted ruefully above, immigration. Trump gets up on his high horse 
at those ridiculous rallies and screams about caravans and the invasion at the southern border, but 
Sessions was the one who actually did something about it.

 Take the word of an immigration lawyer: He made my life and my clients’ lives hell.

 I’m also nauseated by the mean-spirited, petty way that Trump dispatched Sessions. According to 
reports, he sent John Kelly to do his dirty work and didn’t even have the guts to meet personally with 
the very first senator to endorse him at the start of his then-quixotic campaign.

 The immigration lawyer in me is glad to see Sessions go. But the part of me that respects courage, 
independence, and integrity is disgusted with the shameful treatment he received.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News,

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