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California, here they go.
Right back where they started from
“California, here I come right back where I started from. Where Bowers of flowers bloom in the sun. Each morning at dawning, birdies sing an' everything. A sunkist miss said, "Don't be late" that's why I can hardly wait. Open up that Golden Gate,
California here I come.”
Al Jolson, 1946
I grew up in Santa Barbara county (Goleta) and attended Dos Pueblos High School. Our families lived in the area. I worked in the Lemon and Avocado orchards. We still have family and friends there. Having a young wife and hoping to build a family, I decided to try to get “an education”. With no inheritance or savings, the only option open to me was (what was then) the amazing community college system that the State of California provided. I graduated from Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) in 1982 with an associates degree in computer science. I was the class president and the valedictorian. My GPA was a perfect 4.0 (as high as you could get back then). I don’t say this to brag - but rather because it is important to this story.
In the 1990s, after I finished my MD and had become somewhat “famous” for inventing DNA/RNA vaccines - (when all the world cared about about was the DNA vaccines), Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) had promotional brochures made to help convince people to donate to the college building fund. Those brochures featured me heavily. Below is an image from the brochure. I was proud to support SBCC, and this was not the only time that I did so freely.
My, how things change.
Fast forward to February of 2022. A SBCC student contacted me in 2021 and asked if I would come and speak to the students at SBCC about my role in the creation of the mRNA vaccines, the COVID-19 policies, mandates, etc. I happily agreed and decided not to charge a fee. I then suggested that they add a VIP dinner, where the funds raised could go back to the college - and in particular I requested that the money go to the Santa Barbara Foundation.
Planning proceeded. Until this.
SBCC foundation President was hesitant to put their name on it yet because you are “far right” and a “pariah” …
In the end, the SBCC Foundation refused donations from the event. Then Santa Barbara City College didn’t want a student event with someone as controversial as me using their stadium. I think the SBCC leaders also used some pretty strong words to describe me -but as I don’t have the exact quote, I won’t write it here.
So, we had to find another venue, and the money raised instead went to a newish group called: “Stand Up Santa Barbara.” Which are basically students and supporters of SBCC who believe that corruption, including the COVID-10 vaccine mandate policies, can not be allowed to stand.
Being called “far right” and a “pariah” by the Santa Barbara CC Foundation is laughable. In fact, I am kind of still shaking my head in disbelief - “far right” - really?
I can only imagine what woke politics have infiltrated the SBCC Foundation and SBCC. They would rather turn down thousands of dollars (maybe tens of thousand of dollars), than.. you know, that I might taint their reputation by being associated with some greenbacks. Wow!
Now - I can laugh about this and do. But behind that laugh is sadness. Sadness not just because of “my” treatment, but what it means about the state of affairs of SBCC and the Santa Barbara CC Foundation. How woke can they go? Over me?
When a public institution will not allow speakers on campus because their politics or policy stances don’t match those of the institution’s leaders. When a non-profit foundation won’t allow donations from people who don’t have the same politics. Do you think maybe they are making decisions on grants and scholarships for students using these same types of criteria? Why wouldn’t they? Because if the SBCC foundation won’t take money raised by me, do you think they would give money to someone who shares my beliefs?
But let us hope that as goes SBCC, the SBCC Foundation and the State of California, this great nation does not follow.
However, the show did go on that night. Stand up Santa Barbara hosted the event. and it was a legendary success. Lots of amazing people were there. Held in a public park across from the beach, there was abundant entertainment, speeches, great food and beautiful palm trees. Lots of people were educated. Lots of money was raised for a good cause. The young adults who put this on were amazing. Near as I could tell, there was not one pariah or even “far right” (whatever that means) in the group - including me. I was proud to be a part of their effort.
Then at the fund raising dinner held at a private farm, there were many Californians lamenting that some of the best of the best in Santa Barbara and in California had experienced enough. They had packed up and left. Some families with roots that went back generations in Santa Barbara county. Gone.
People also spoke about how hard it was to live in the state now. The taxes, the extensive rules and regulations, the schools being ranked last in the nation in scores (but I bet they rank first in identifying gender pronouns), the corruption, the droughts, wildfires, the homelessness, the lack of accountability of elected officials, the crime and drug addiction. The woke politics. And of course, the crazy authoritarian lock-downs, masks, vaccine mandates and even pending legislation requiring that physicians not be allowed to speak negatively about various pharma products or the COVID public health policies - or their licenses will be taken away.
Which brings me to ponder the sad state of affairs in California, my place of birth. A place that I left in 1996 and never moved back. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine a reason which would motivate me to move to California right now.
Gavin Newsom’s vision, the progressive’s vision for California, has brought that state to its knees.
The City Journal said it best:
Gavin Newsom’s bravado about California is undermined by reality.
July 28, 2022
After years of mask mandates, school closures, and pervasive lockdowns, Californians must be wondering what limits exist on state government intrusion into their lives. Nonetheless, they can’t help but notice the newfound freedoms that criminals and street homeless have enjoyed in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the rule of law has eroded at the hands of activist district attorneys.
Meantime, Californians who vote with their feet are fleeing to Florida in record numbers. From 2010 to 2018, California lost an average of 1,000 people to Florida per year, according to IRS taxpayer migration data. Then, from 2018 to 2019, California lost 4,800 residents to Florida. And from 2019 to 2020—the first IRS data that cover the early pandemic months—California lost 11,500 residents to Florida.
California’s outmigrants are bringing lots of income with them. The state shed an average of $270 million of annual income to Florida from 2010 to 2018. The annual loss jumped to $1.2 billion from 2018 to 2019, and then to $2 billion in 2019–2020. California’s losses, and Florida’s gains, have almost certainly accelerated in the intervening years. And Florida is not the only state picking up California exiles. The Golden State’s losses are at or near record levels with other states, too—in particular, states like Texas that Newsom targets with criticism.
Newsom wants Americans to believe that he has it figured out in California, and that the new American model for freedom is a progressive one. Yet his state’s aggressive population pivot has coincided almost precisely with his tenure as governor, making Newsom the first California leader to preside over a shrinking state rather than a growing one.
No amount of political rhetoric can mask California’s reality under Governor Newsom. Low-income students are being left behind, the rule of law is eroding, and residents are leaving in record numbers. The many former Californians watching Newsom’s ads in Texas and in Florida can only marvel at the hubris of the man.
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To finish my thoughts.
Recently, we had two young adults here for a week -both born and raised in California. Both are wonderful people, and both have a fantastic work ethic. Both are in their teens. Both are contemplating college in a different state than California, and they wonder out loud if they really want to return to their native land when finished with their education.
They don’t hear the cognitive dissonance in their own words - as they lament their experiences in California and what they currently believe. They relate stories of the droughts, the wild fires, the police issues, the lack of caring in the schools, the extreme security details in their schools, the poor quality education, the extreme COVID policies at school, the lack of learning opportunities, the number of guns the high school security guards carry, the drug addiction, the poverty, the extreme cost of living, the homelessness problems - including a homeless person coming into campus and sexually molesting people. I listen and I am appalled. Their stories go on and on. I could barely stand to listen to them sometimes. But I don’t turn away - they need someone to bear witness to their experiences. I am that witness.
I ask myself “Why does anyone want to have their children grow up in California?”
Why does anyone want to live there?
When I ask my family and friends - “why do you stay?” I get only a few reasons.
The top reason being family and friends, followed by the weather, then the excellent beaches, and then… crickets.
Crickets because the culture of the Golden State that I grew up with is gone. Maybe it really left decades ago.
When Jill and I grew up in Goleta, cattle ranches and golden fields reached as far as the eye could see, or at least to the ocean. Lemon groves dotted the landscape, and the old ranch houses still stood out - surrounded by old cedars, sycamores and oaks. The suburbs had yet to reach central California in a significant way. The many remaining old timers had stories of days past. Of strong independent people. Of old homesteads. Of small towns and quiet roads. Of an agricultural community. Of beaches and families. Those days are gone. The romance of the cowboy, the ranch life, and the rich farm lands are fading fast. The small towns and their strong communities are almost completely wiped out. Even though the Los Rancheros' Vistadores still ride, the culture that once supported this amazing group is almost gone.
We meet again in Santa Ynez… It is an old Spanish custom - so we ride, ride, ride.
Will California ever be again what it once was?
Here in central/south Virginia, in Tennessee, in North and South Carolina, Georgia, even Florida and many other states - the past still matters. We are still proud to call ourselves American. We are proud of the framers, and of the people who built this great nation. We are even proud of the rancheros - those in the past and present. We celebrate the old farms, the families, our families, our heritage. Our shared past. I am proud that in the United States of America, all of the states have freedom and sovereignty. There is still sovereignty in our states and in our great country. Sovereignty means being free from the tyranny of a one world governance by unelected managers who believe in a centralized global command economy. For many of us, the future of America as an independent nation still matters. We have to protect our sovereignty.
Then I think back to my home state and I realize how far it has fallen.
Unfortunately, as more good people, people with the courage to start over, move out - the ratio of people who really think that Gavin Newsom’s vision of California will create a new paradise will rise. But too many times we have seen what happens when people become enthralled by a collectivist ideology. Those of us who have endured many decades on this earth, who have watched as the iron curtain fell, know all too well where this will lead.
I honor the journey of my friends who still live in California, those brave souls standing up to wokeism, collectivism, power and corruption. People who are trying to change things for the better. The road they have chosen is not for the feint of heart. But despite the challenges, they still they ride, ride, ride.
I have a question for those remaining: can the state of California be returned to its place of former glory? If so, how? If so, who will lead the change?
A bit more personal history. Growing up, Jill and I were friends and neighbors with a member of the Los Rancheros' Vistadores. Jill would ride his mare, “Guess Again” for most of the year. Then in the spring, that mare go over the Santa Barbara mountains to the valley of Santa Ynez. Where she and her owner would ride, ride, ride. So here’s to great mares and strong women.
Jill and Guess Again, circa 1985.
For those that are interested in the Los Rancheros Visitadores:
Los Rancheros Visitadores is an invitation only riding group, considered the most elite equestrian organization in the world. The group was founded in the late 1920s and boasts membership from artists to governors to celebrities. Ed Borein, Will James, Joe DeYong, Walt Disney, Gary Cooper, Montie Montana, Nicholas Firfires, Edward H Bohlin, Philip Wrigley, Leo Carrillo, Charlie Russell, Chuck Yeager, Max Baer and Ronald Reagan were only some of the notables who have ridden the trails with the Rancheros Visitadores.
The very first RV ride in 1930 was inspired by the early California “Mission days” tradition when Rancheros from the neighboring countryside would gather in the spring time at the nearest Mission with their cattle herds -- then advance towards the next Mission working the cattle as they went -- branding the calves, cutting out the beef for hides and tallow, castrating the calves and old bulls, and sending the sickly or injured cattle back to their respective ranchos. When these “Californios” reached the next Mission they would be met by another group from the countryside and the original group would then return home. This return was a festive journey and with traditional California hospitality, they were entertained lavishly on their homeward trek since the hard work was done, cattle delivered and money now in hand.
Los Rancheros Visitadores was the brainchild of a small group of prominent Santa Barbarans who were horse lovers and wished to commemorate the important role horsemanship and ranching had played in the history of the South Coast. The generally accepted story concerning the founding is that in the spring of 1929, cowboy artist Ed Borein suggested to his friend Elmer Awl that they gather some buddies together for a few days of riding and camping in the Santa Ynez Valley. Borein had spent a good part of his youth as a working cowboy in California and Mexico. Today he is considered one of the finest artists to portray the range life of the American West. Awl, a Pennsylvania native, had moved as a child to Pasadena and eventually matriculated at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he studied horticulture. After managing a large estate in Pasadena, Awl came to Montecito to manage the estate of the Armour family, El Mirador. Awl had met the famous Chicago meat-packing family while in Pasadena. In 1922, the Armour daughter, Lolita, married John J. Mitchell Jr. Mitchell was a successful aviation executive, director of the company that became United Airlines. Among the properties the Mitchells came to own in the county was the Juan y Lolita Ranch just south of the town of Santa Ynez. Mitchell, like Awl, was an avid rider and interested in the ranching history of the region. It appears that Awl told Mitchell of Borein’s idea. That summer, while attending a meeting of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco, Mitchell began to consider the idea of forming a men’s club centered around horseback riding that would salute the ranching lifestyle. The idea lay dormant until the spring of 1930. In April, Awl and Harvey McDonald, who worked at Juan y Lolita, organized a short six-mile ride of some 65 men capped by a lunch at Mattei’s Tavern. One of the riders was Thomas Wilson Dibblee, a descendant of the De la Guerra family and owner of Rancho San Julian. Reportedly, it was Dibblee who came up with the name Los Rancheros Visitadores (The Visiting Ranchers) for the new group. The Rancheros’ first official trek began May 9, 1930, and lasted four days. A group of 90 men rode from Dwight Murphy’s Los Prietos Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley to Nojoqui Falls. Among the participants were, in addition to those already mentioned, some of the most prominent citizens of the South Coast: county supervisor Sam Stanwood, newspaper publishers Reginald Fernald and Thomas Storke, and philanthropist and yachtsman Max Fleischmann. During the next few years, the organization solidified, and membership grew to include riders from all over the state. In the late 1930s, Walt Disney took part, aboard his horse, Minnie Mouse. Clark Gable rode in 1939. Ronald Reagan would ride in the 1970s.
Los Rancheros Visitadores numbers almost 700 members today and is international in scope. Selected members sit on the board of Los Adobes de los Rancheros, a separate charitable organization. And every spring, the Rancheros mount up for their traditional trek through the Santa Ynez Valley.