Gun Violence or Civil Rights, our choice!

Gun Violence or Civil Rights, our choice!

Ted Folkert
April 3, 2018

The National Rifle Association, including their vocal members, and other gun advocates, always have the same explanation for gun violence other than the easy access and ready availability of guns, especially so-called assault weapons, those which can kill dozens of people quicker than you can say assault weapon.

Their answer for deaths instilled by anger isn’t access to a gun, it is anger.

Their answer for deaths instilled by a troubled mind isn’t access to a gun, it is a troubled mind.

Their answer for deaths instilled by a deranged mind isn’t access to a gun, it is a deranged mind.

Their answer for deaths instilled by viciousness isn’t access to a gun, it is viciousness.

Their answer for deaths instilled by maliciousness isn’t access to a gun, it is maliciousness.

Their answer to deaths instilled by revenge against society isn’t access to a gun, it is revenge.

In other words, guns have nothing to do with any of these episodes of spontaneous or planned violence and massacre, it is always carried out due to the malady, not the convenience of immediate action to release of pent up or spontaneous maladies by murdering people, usually completely innocent people.

Let’s be honest, intelligent, and civil minded – that worn out cliché of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a pure cop out and protection of personal pleasure or personal profit, nothing else. Those who make these statements don’t even believe it. It is merely self-interest protected at the expense of community interest, the interest of our families, friends and everyone else except the gun advocates.

Let’s be honest, intelligent, and civil minded – we cannot cure all of the cases of anger, troubled minds, deranged minds, viciousness, maliciousness, or revenge.

Let’s be honest, intelligent, and civil minded – the only way to deter this kind of violence and loss of life is to keep the guns out of the hands of potential perpetrators – and ban assault weapons of all types for all times.

Then maybe our children would be safe in school once again! Imagine that!

No Place to Sleep


No Place to Sleep

Ted Folkert

February 8, 2018

NIMBY strikes again. (You know, “not in my back yard”). Those with no place to sleep are going to have to relocate again as they have done again and again and again, and as whey will do forever, again and again and again. In California, as is the case in many parts of the country, affordable rent is a term from the past. This formula only works for those fortunate enough to earn a substantial income. The “good old days” when affordable rent was comfortable at about 20% of one’s income are gone forever. In California that formula doesn’t work for the renters or the property owners. If the property owners seek renters to fit that formula they may have extended vacancies. If renters seek properties which fit that formula they end up sleeping outdoors.

Many of those who are retired on Social Security, who have worked all their lives, cannot afford to pay the rent in this area and eat at the same time. And many of them lack the wherewithal to seek other housing areas which are more affordable.

Of course, sleeping outdoors requires being quite mobile. NIMBY prevails everywhere those who sleep outdoors choose to place their blankets. So, the police show up and the outdoor sleepers keep on the move.

There has existed a large encampment of outdoor sleepers along a river trail in the Anaheim, Costa Mesa area for some time. A place to which many have matriculated after being evicted from numerous places of encampment again and again and again. Now the NIMBYs have arisen again. Law enforcement is cracking down. A federal judge has provided some delay in the process, however, the NIMBYs always prevail. After all, who owns the elected officials in this country? It obviously isn’t the outdoor sleepers.

So, law enforcement moves in to follow the orders of their superiors to force these people to move on, as they have done again and again and again. Law enforcers issue citations, which is most cases is a waste of paper and ink. People with no place to sleep have no method of transportation to show up in court. If the do show up and receive a fine, they can’t pay it. Then they are a fugitive from justice. If they get a jail sentence they serve it and then return to the street again where they have been through this same process again and again and again.

So, has any ground been gained? Of course not. Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times talks about this all the time and has been a hands-on advocate for the homeless of this area. Unfortunately, the situation only continues to get worse as property owners respond to housing demand and continue to raise rents.

Once one becomes a victim of this way of survival the path to a homestead way of life becomes increasingly more remote. When one has no address or phone number, when one has no place to keep clean and presentable, and when one has no personal or employment references, employment is virtually impossible. That is where hopelessness prevails along with helplessness and despair – the big three.

We read about all the wonderful plans to build affordable housing for those with no place to sleep. We hear of big funding to help solve the problem. But nothing happens. They talk about solving this problem with their five-year and ten-year plans. What about today or tomorrow. Why not break ground and build some housing today or tomorrow and continue to do so for five years and then for ten years.

I imagine we could arouse hundreds of volunteers who would contribute time and money to help to provide for those who are helpless. There are those who either don’t understand the problem or don’t care about resolving it but there are also those who would lend a helping hand once our fearless leaders get done campaigning for reelection and decide to resolve this enormous issue.

All talk and no action. That seems to be the process in dealing with the problem. The money spent enforcing and adjudicating those violating law prohibiting such lifestyle, the money spent on cleaning up homeless encampments, the money spent on damages and repairs from those seeking warmth and shelter – all of the money spent on the negative side of this issue – would probably make some good headway toward resolving this crucial problem and providing some hope for the hopeless. Those who are experiencing this way of life due to PTSD from military duty, or from drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness deserve professional help and a comfortable path to recover from their dilemma. And those who are simply in the downward spiral of joblessness or adversity deserve assistance in climbing out of the homeless entrapment and achieving a way of life with opportunity and livable housing.

Dean Baker’s take on tax cuts

Like my parents used to tell me – “don’t believe everything you hear.”

Dean Baker provides some profound insight regarding  erroneous information about tax cuts.

Excerpts from Dean Baker’s article: “The Corporate Tax Cut Bonanza” – January 22, 2018

” . . . . .  what is perhaps most disturbing about the Republican tax plan is that it seems to steer the United States in the opposite direction of proven paths to growth. Looking back in the past, whether across states or across countries, low tax rates have never been the spur to growth. The spur to growth has been a well-trained and well-educated workforce, coupled with the infrastructure needed to support growth.

Today, the booming areas are not low-tax states like Arkansas and Mississippi, but relatively high-tax states like New York, Massachusetts and California.

For example, the long boom that followed World War II was associated with a huge increase in college enrollment and high school graduation rates, not tax cuts. We built the national highway system, which was the basis for the suburbanization of this period and was associated with the explosion of the automobile sector and a wide variety of related industries. In addition, publicly-funded research had massive spinoffs in everything from aerospace to the internet.

If we look across states today, the booming areas are not low-tax states like Arkansas and Mississippi. Rather, we see the greatest prosperity in relatively high-tax states like New York, Massachusetts and California. Businesses are attracted by the highly skilled workers in these states. And, while some of these workers are educated in these states, workers come from around the country and around the world because these are considered desirable places for highly educated people to both work and live.

The same is true comparing countries across the globe; in fact, the countries in which workers are most prosperous all have much larger government sectors than the United States. In Germany, whose workers enjoy high pay and long vacations, government spending accounts for 43.8 percent of GDP compared to just 37.6 percent in the United States, according to the OECD.

Instead of focusing on tax cuts, it would be good if the Republicans can look to the economic success stories of the present and recent past.

In France, where workers have enjoyed substantial wage gains over the last four decades and rank near the top in productivity per hour, the government accounts for 56.6 percent of the economy. There is a similar story for the prosperous Scandinavian countries: In Norway, President Trump’s apparent preferred country of origin for new immigrants, government spending accounts for 48.8 percent of the economy.

Instead of focusing on tax cuts, it would be good if the Republicans can look to the economic success stories of the present and recent past. Spending more to promote clean technologies can help keep U.S. companies among the world leaders in the area. Additional support for installing solar or wind energy and buying electric cars would also help. And, new funding to make college tuition free and reduce the student loan debt of recent grads would also help to expand the supply of skilled labor, as would more support for community colleges and other forms of training.

This route might not be the current orthodoxy among Republicans, but, unlike tax cuts, it is a proven path to broadly shared prosperity, and not just short-term profits.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ted Folkert – January 15, 2018

There will be many articles and remembrances for Dr. King today – as there should be. He was a tireless and stalwart crusader for redress for the plight of the powerless minorities who were impoverished and imprisoned in a life lacking equal rights, equal education, and equal employment opportunities and equal law enforcement.

He was denied an equal right to live his life and broadcast his opinion while opposing the plight of minorities in a country expressing the virtues of freedom from the wrath of dictators, monarchs, and other tyrants, but denying civil rights to people who looked like him, simply because they looked like him.

The worst outcome of his murder was, of course, the loss to his loved ones.

The second worst outcome must be our loss of his continued drive for equal rights, with his eloquent voice, his determined drive, and his persistent, non-violent movement for equality.

The third worst outcome must be the unsolved crime. James Earl Ray was convicted of his murder, but we still didn’t get the real culprits, those who hired him. Someone knew who they were but chose to conceal the truth for the benefit of continuing the racial intolerance of the South.

To get true healing from this loss, not for his family, there can be no solace there, but for our country and his cause, we still need to identify the culprit or culprits who planned and caused this horrendous assassination to happen. Justice still has not been served.

Dr. King knew he was a target but persisted fearlessly. He was thoroughly inspired to implement change in the lives of people who looked like him. He stated in his last public speaking, the night before he was assassinated, “I may not be there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

Dr. King would be speaking loud and clear about racial justice now that we have elected a bigot to lead our country and who attempts to backtrack the progress of racial equality that we have enacted since Dr. King’s death. He would be speaking loud and clear about the racist voter suppression. He would speak loud and clear about the marching of white nationalists and about our president calling them “some very fine people.”

May his movement continue forward in spite of the bigotry we still endure in our society as we celebrate the life of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. May he rest in the peace he deserves and may he continue to see progress in racial equality resulting from his fearless leadership.

Our Trigger-Happy Child President

Our Trigger-Happy Child President

 Ted Folkert – January 8, 2018

It seems that our child president and the child leader of North Korea may be cut out of the same cloth. Now they are comparing the sizes of their nuclear buttons, like kids on the playground declaring “my daddy can whip your daddy.”

David Rothkopf addressed the situation (January 3rd – Los Angeles Times) in a more meaningful and perceptive manner than many of us consider as Trump triggers our ire daily with his abusive twitter rants.

 Quotes from:Trump keeps making bad American foreign policy worse”  – By David Rothkopf –  senior fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns    Hopkins University and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Although Trump is in a class by himself when it comes to incompetence, greed, mendacity, absence of values and unfitness for office, America’s “abdication” of its world leadership role has been a long time coming. We have gone from overreach to inertia to incompetence, and damaged our standing at every step along the way.”

“In part, this is because Americans seem to think we can elect presidents — five out of the last six — with very little foreign policy experience. We act as though U.S. world leadership is a God-given right rather than something that must be earned again and again. Most Americans mistakenly think the rest of the world matters little to them. Unlike the Greatest Generation, who through World War II and the Cold War came to see informed foreign policy leadership and the international system as essential to peace and our way of life, the baby boomers who took over a quarter-century ago have been complacent, distracted and then ineffectual.”

“Trump is without a doubt the worst foreign policy president in American history. But our international problems are not, contrary to what some might think, all about him. They are about us. The only hope for fixing things requires a national awakening; only then can we expect one in the White House.”

Which is a message to us baby boomers and our offspring to get more involved in who we elect to entrust with our peace and prosperity. After all, the guy we entrusted it to was elected due to our complacency in correcting campaign finance, the electoral process and the lack of public control of the press in this country, which perhaps resulted in the dilemma of choosing between two candidates that we found unsatisfactory for the challenge. Now we face a tenuous situation on a daily basis with no voice in the outcome. (My words, not David Rothkopf’s)


An Infinitesimal Existence – Cosmology for the Unscientific Mind

An Infinitesimal Existence – Cosmology for the Unscientific Mind

Ted Folkert – December 29, 2017

We often use the term mind-boggling as a casual comment to emphasize something complicated, hard to understand or that seems incomprehensible.

Fasten your seat belts. Here is a mind-boggle for those of us with an unscientific mind.

If there isn’t one, there should be a book entitled “Don’t Know Much About Cosmology.” Think about this information which is discussed by David Filkin and Stephen Hawking in “Stephen Hawking’s Universe:”

Summarizing: The rock we all inhabit, Planet Earth, evolved more than fifteen billion years ago from something smaller than a dot in the universe, which exploded in an event called the Big Bang, which created billions of stars and evolved through gravitation into billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, one of which is our home, Planet Earth.

That’s right, Earth is one of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of billions of galaxies in the universe.

How is that for mind-boggling? Like my grandfather might have said, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

In other words, if there was a map on your computer screen containing all the stars in the universe, which would be a number with at least eighteen zeroes behind it, a quintillion, sextillion, septillion, octillion, maybe a centillion, with 300 zeroes. The map would be a solid sheet of black after all the stars were noted on the map. So, Planet Earth wouldn’t even be identifiable, it would be lost in a huge mass of billions and billions and billions of dots.

How big would the map have to be to identify our planet? How big to identify our state, our city, our home, each of us seven billion people on this planet. As Bernie Sanders might say, it would have to be HUGE.

How small does that make you feel? Tiny? Infinitesimal? It’s a real ego deflator if there ever was one.

Most of the cosmologists agree to all these facts – facts proven to a considerable degree of confidence in the scientific community through studies by radio-telescope technology and quantum mathematics, generally considered to be irrefutable. Furthermore, they believe that only about ten percent of the universe has been discovered, leaving ninety percent yet to be identified. And they believe that the universe is continuing to expand although at a slower rate which could mean that, at some point, the universe could reverse directions and begin to contract back into that original small dot from whence it came. A frightening thought to say the least.

I didn’t make this up. The information came from Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Erastosthenes, Einstein, Mendelson, Curie, Rutherford,, and many others who spent their lives looking through telescopes and doing mathematical equations.

But don’t go shoot yourself in fear of the planet disappearing. This contraction would happen billions of years from now, so we won’t have to be concerned. After all, we may end up destroying humankind much sooner if we keep going the way we are. Maybe the fact that our existence began with an explosion causes us to be so attracted to explosions that we will make our planet uninhabitable anyway. We seem to be moving in that direction at a rapid pace.

Think about it!



Democrats Are the New Republicans

Democrats Are the New Republicans

Frank Bruni  – DEC. 19, 2017

Family values. How long have we been subjected to that subjective phrase, championed by Republicans who equated it with heterosexuality, fecundity and Christian piety — and who appointed themselves the custodians of those?

Well, they lost any remaining claim to that mantle by embracing Donald Trump and then Roy Moore. Neither won the support of all Republicans, but both won the backing or complicity of enough of them to confirm just how hollow and hypocritical the party’s attachment to conservative morality always was. Quote the Bible. Denounce abortion. Congratulations: You’re upholding family values! No questions asked about the number of your marriages, the extent of your infidelities or the scope of your sexual predation.

Fiscal responsibility. How loudly have Republicans harangued us about that? It’s a worthy harangue — or at least it would be if there were an iota of integrity and consistency behind it.

But Republicans are poised to enact a sweeping overhaul of the tax code that will add nearly $1.5 trillion to federal deficits over the next decade. In all the news coverage of their need to finesse the math so that they don’t exceed that amount, the fact that they’re plunging the country so much deeper into the red in the first place almost gets lost.

This, mind you, is the same political party that fetishized balanced budgets and browbeat Democrats about being the foolishly, fatally profligate ones. Republicans’ actions routinely contradicted their words, and their tax reform is a contradiction on steroids. Where’s the fiscal responsibility in legislation with such budgetary hocus-pocus as the expiration of individual rate cuts that the bill’s authors fully expect other lawmakers to preserve down the road?

What pretty lies Republicans tell, most of all about themselves. And what a gorgeous opportunity they have given Democrats to steal that bogus rhetoric right out from under them.

Try this on for size: Democrats are the party of family values because they promote the creation of more families. They did precisely that with their advocacy of marriage equality, which didn’t tug the country away from convention but toward it, by encouraging gay and lesbian Americans to live in the sorts of arrangements that conservatives in fact extol.

Democrats also want to give families the flexibility and security that help keep them afloat and maybe intact. That’s what making the work force more hospitable to women and increasing the number of Americans with health insurance do. And Republicans lag behind Democrats on both fronts.

Democrats are the party of fiscal responsibility because they don’t pretend that they can afford grand government commitments — whether distant wars or domestic programs — without collecting the revenue for them.

Democrats are the party of patriotism, because they’re doing something infinitely more urgent and substantive than berating football players who kneel during the national anthem. They’re recognizing that a hostile foreign power tried to change the course of an American presidential election. They’re pressing for a full accounting of that. They’re looking for fixes, so that we can know with confidence that we control our own destiny going forward. The president, meanwhile, plays down the threat, and Republicans prop him up.

Democrats are the party of national security. They don’t taunt and get into Twitter wars with the rulers of countries that just might send nuclear warheads our way. They don’t alienate longtime allies by flashing contradictory signals about their commitment to NATO. The leader of the Republican Party does all of that and more, denying the G.O.P. any pretense to stewardship of a stable world order.

Democrats are the law-and-order party. While many Republicans and their media mouthpiece, Fox News, labor to delegitimize the F.B.I. and thus inoculate Trump, Democrats put faith in prosecutors, agents and the system.

Democrats are the party of decency and modesty. None of their highest leaders uses the public arena to bully private citizens in the way that the Republican president does. None advances his or her financial interests as brazenly or brags as extravagantly.

Democrats are the party of tradition, if it’s interpreted — and it should be — to mean a news media that operates without fear of government interference, an internet to which access isn’t tiered, judicial appointees who have a modicum of fluency in trial law.

Under Trump’s thumb and spell, the Republican Party is watching the pillars of its brand crumble. Democrats should grab hold of and appropriate them. And they’re starting to, fitfully and imperfectly. Jettisoning Al Franken as the Republican National Committee reteamed with Moore was part of that effort.

Who among us doesn’t care about family values, defined justly and embraced honestly? Who doesn’t see the good in patriotism, tradition and decency? They’re neither hokey words nor musty concepts, and that’s why Republicans have been using (and misusing) them. But in the age of Trump, they constitute a language that Democrats can more credibly speak.


Republicans Despise the Working Class

Republicans Despise the Working Class

Paul Krugman DEC. 14, 2017

President Trump looking at guests identified as “middle class families.” Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. That was true under George W. Bush, who sharply cut tax rates on the top 1 percent and tried to privatize Social Security. It has been equally true under President Trump; G.O.P. legislative proposals show not a hint of the populism Trump espoused on the campaign trail.

But as a terrible, no good, very bad tax bill heads for a final vote, something has been added to the mix. As usual, Republicans seek to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable, but they don’t treat all Americans with a given income the same. Instead, their bill — on which we don’t have full details, but whose shape is clear — hugely privileges owners, whether of businesses or of financial assets, over those who simply work for a living.

And this privileging of nonwage income isn’t an accident. Modern Republicans exalt “job creators,” that is, people who own businesses directly or indirectly via their stockholdings. Meanwhile, they show implicit contempt for mere employees.

More about that contempt in a moment. First, about that tax bill: The biggest-ticket item is a sharp cut in corporate taxes. While some of this tax cut might trickle down in the form of higher wages, the consensus among tax economists is that most of the break will accrue to shareholders as opposed to workers. So it’s mainly a tax cut for investors, not people who work for a living.

And the second most important element in the bill is a tax break for people whose income comes from owning a business rather than in the form of wages. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has evaluated the Senate bill, which the final bill is expected to resemble. It finds that the bill would reduce taxes on business owners, on average, about three times as much as it would reduce taxes on those whose primary source of income is wages or salaries. For highly paid workers, the gap would be even wider, as much as 10 to one.

As the Center’s Howard Gleckman notes, this might mean, for example, that “a partner in a real estate development firm might get a far bigger tax cut than a surgeon employed by a hospital, even though their income is the same.” (Yes, a lot of the bill looks as if it were specifically designed to benefit the Trump family.)

Bottom of Form

If this sounds like bad policy, that’s because it is. More than that, it opens the doors to an orgy of tax avoidance. Suppose that I could get The Times to stop paying me a salary, and instead to pay the same amount to Krugmanomics LLC, a consulting firm consisting of one person — me — that sells opinion pieces. I would probably get a big tax break as a result.

Now, the bill will contain complicated rules intended to limit such gaming of the system, and they’ll probably prevent me personally from taking advantage of the new loophole. But as Gleckman says of these rules, “some may fail and some may work too well” — that is, deny the tax break to some business owners who really should qualify. On average, however, they’re likely to fail: a lot of revenue will be lost to those who game the system. Think about it: We’re pitting hastily devised legislation, drafted without hearings over the course of just a few days, against the cleverest lawyers and accountants money can buy. Which side do you think will win?

As a result, it’s a good guess that the bill will increase the budget deficit far more than currently projected. And meanwhile, after all those promises Republicans made about simplifying our tax system, they’ve actually made it far more complicated.

So why are they doing this?

After all, the tax bill appears to be terrible politics as well as terrible policy. Cutting corporate taxes is hugely unpopular; even Republicans are almost as likely to say they should be raised as to say they should be lowered. The Bush tax cuts, at least initially, had wide (though unjustified) popular support; but the public overwhelmingly disapproves of the current Republican plan.

But Republicans don’t seem able to help themselves: Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can’t contain it.

When I realized the extent to which G.O.P. tax plans were going to favor business owners over ordinary workers, I found myself remembering what happened in 2012, when Eric Cantor — then the House majority leader — tried to celebrate Labor Day. He put out a tweet for the occasion that somehow failed to mention workers at all, instead praising those who have “built a business and earned their own success.”

Yes, it was just a gaffe, but a revealing one; Cantor, a creature of the G.O.P. establishment if ever there was one, had so little respect for working Americans that he forgot to include them in a Labor Day message.

And now that disdain has been translated into legislation, in the form of a bill that treats anyone who works for someone else — that is, the vast majority of Americans — as a second-class citizen.

Harry Pregerson, Judge who respected dignity

Harry Pregerson, one of the most liberal federal appeals court judges in the nation, dies at 94

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harry Pregerson, a Los Angeles-based jurist who embraced the underdog and let his conscience inform his rulings, has died. He was 94.

Pregerson, who was suffering from respiratory ailments, died Saturday night at his Woodland Hills home surrounded by family, said Sharon Pregerson, his daughter-in-law.

A few nights earlier, with his health seriously failing, he turned to his wife, Bernardine, and expressed a regret.

“’The hard thing is that I don’t have strength anymore to help people,’” recounted U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson, Harry’s son.

“He was full of love,” Sharon Pregerson said. “He helped so many people. That was his mission. That’s why he got up every morning.”

Pregerson, born in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 1923, was one of the most liberal federal appeals court judges in the nation.

He grew up in East Los Angeles, served as a Marine in World War II and suffered severe wounds in the Battle of Okinawa. He later graduated from UCLA and obtained his law degree from UC Berkeley.

Dubbed a “thug for the Lord” by one attorney, Pregerson was relentless in his efforts away from the bench to help the poor in Los Angeles.

He worked to establish several homeless shelters and volunteered at one each Thanksgiving.

Dr. Katie Rodan, Pregerson’s daughter, said that she nicknamed her dad “the rescue machine” when she was a teenager.

“He wants to save everyone,” she said in a 2015 interview. “He wants to save the world.”

On the bench, Pregerson was often controversial. He stirred criticism when he refused to follow a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding California’s tough three-strikes sentencing law. Not long after the court’s decision, Pregerson dissented in rulings that upheld life sentences, some for relatively minor crimes.

His dissents were seen by some critics as insubordination, but Pregerson was frank about putting his conscience first.

“My conscience is a product of the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights, the Boy Scout Oath and the Marine Corps Hymn,” the Carter appointee said during his Senate confirmation hearing. “If I had to follow my conscience or the law, I would follow my conscience.”

Pregerson also angered some when he issued an order in 1992 to put a hold on the execution of Robert Alton Harris, who was already strapped inside the gas chamber. The Supreme Court later overturned Pregerson’s decision, and Harris was executed as planned.

Conservatives railed at him for overturning death sentences and accused him of activism. Some prosecutors said they dreaded appearing before him. Pregerson said he simply believed that many death row inmates had not been given fair trials.

“You read the record in these cases, and you see what happened and how defendants’ rights are not observed,” he said.

Pregerson also was viewed by some as a federalist, a label most often worn by conservatives and libertarians.

He favored restraints on the power of the federal government and wrote a decision saying federal authorities lacked authority to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the decision.

“His was a jurisprudence that was really based on the recognition of the dignity of every person,” said UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

“For him the law was much less about abstractions and much more about what it would mean in people’s lives,” Chemerinsky said.

Pregerson took senior status in 2015 at the age of 92 after 36 years on the 9th Circuit. The move reduced his workload, but he made it reluctantly, at his wife’s urging. “You know, at 92 you are not 82,” the judge said in an interview at the time. “You slow down a bit and need a little more rest.”

The injuries he suffered in the war also were hobbling him. He needed two ski poles to help him walk.

He told The Times he viewed the bench as a way to improve the lives of others.

“I looked upon being a judge as a chance to help as many people as I could through the law,” he said. “And it has given me that opportunity, no doubt about that.”

A public square, a freeway interchange and a child-care center in L.A. bear Pregerson’s name.

In response to a lawsuit when he was a lower court judge, Pregerson prevented construction of the 105 Freeway until construction jobs were set aside for women and minorities and a training program was in place to give them the needed skills.

The settlement he helped write also ensured that affordable housing was built for residents displaced by the project.

Civil rights lawyer Paul L. Hoffman, who teaches international human rights law at UC Irvine and Harvard University, called Pregerson “one of a kind.”

“He was so committed to social justice,” Hoffman said.

Christopher David Ruiz Cameron, a law professor at Southwestern Law School and a trustee of the Mexican American Bar Foundation, said Pregerson lived most of his life on the Westside and in the West Valley, “but his soul remained in the working-class Mexican American community of East L.A. where he grew up.”

“Harry never forgot his roots,” Cameron said. “He identified with the struggles of Chicanos and practically considered himself one of us.”

The son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, Pregerson made his home in Woodland Hills, where he and Bernardine raised their two children, Katie and Dean.

Two years before taking a reduced workload, the elder Pregerson lost his grandson, David, Dean’s son, in a hit-and-run. The elder Pregerson said the family would never get over it. He recalled that his father, a postal worker who fought in the trenches in World War I, told him life was a battlefield.

“You never know when you will get hit,” the judge said.

Pregerson remained close to his adult children and grandchildren throughout his life.

When Rodan was 12, her mother decided she was bored at home and wanted to go back to school full time to receive a graduate degree in microbiology. She expected the judge to assume the domestic duties, Rodan recalled.

“He was a typical 1960s man,” she said. “He came home late from work and expected to have the dinner on the table.”

Suddenly, he was taking her to ballet and running errands. But he couldn’t cook, and she said they ate dinner at restaurants. She called those years “a gift.”

“He told me, ‘When you grow up, be your own boss and make your own money. Don’t rely on a man to support you. You don’t know what life is going to deal you.’”

Rodan, a dermatologist, took his advice and started highly successful skin care companies.

Besides his wife and two children, Pregerson is survived by son-in-law Amnon Rodan, daughter-in-law Sharon, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Letter to the President

Letter to the President

November 14, 2017

Updated & Reposted from February 10, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
Leader of the Free World
Master of the Universe
Self-made Billionaire

Dear Mr. President:

Please excuse my boldness in addressing you directly, but I wanted to take this opportunity to express my extreme displeasure with the disrespect shown you by some of the comedians of the world as they misinterpret your efforts to make the world a better place. It seems some of these comedians are struggling for attention and choose to create audiences at your expense. It is obvious that your modesty is ignored as they chastise you for reminding us that you are smart, brilliant, handsome, rich, the greatest negotiator, the greatest business man, the greatest entertainer and the obvious choice to lead, not only this great country, but the entire free world (as well as any other part of the world that you feel is worth leading). And as an example of your modesty, you have consistently chosen not to use the word that best describes you, “Fantastic.” And I apologize for using the term “great country” so carelessly. We all know that we elected you because of your promise to “make America great again.” And the fact that after you declared the United States to be first in all respects, spokespeople for these unimportant countries like Great Britain and Switzerland have asked to be considered for second place, which indicates that they have accepted their plight as runner ups.

It seems like mere jealousy on the part of the people in this country, the very  people that you are trying so desperately to help, to criticize you for prioritizing the fact that you had the biggest crowd ever at your inauguration, and that you pointed out the incompetence of our judiciary, our “so-called” judges, for interfering with your effort to make America safe again, and the malicious act on the part of some clothing retailers in discontinuing Ivanka’s clothing line, and that you walk around the Whitehouse at night in your robe, when you don’t even have a robe, or that by “draining the swamp”, as you promised to do, that you brought the swamp residents into your cabinet, or that you are using the office of the presidency to promote personal gain, or that you had your spokesperson shout out a plug for Ivanka’s clothing line and that such action is in violation of federal law, and that you are sidling up with the murderous leader of Russia because you owe them billions, or that you contend that if we help the rich become richer then the wealth will “trickle down” to we plebeians, a trickling which Reagan started trickling in the 1980s that we are still waiting for, or that you are in violation of the “emolument” clause of US Constitution by continuing to own businesses that will profit from your presidency, or that SNL stated that they are having their best audiences in 22 years since Alec Baldwin started mocking you on Saturday nights and that he said that all they were doing is repeating what you said the week before (which may be plagiary, which you could pursue with our so-called judges). And they don’t seem to have any remorse for accusing you of obtaining wealth on the backs of the banks you stiffed and the contractors you stiffed and the minorities you denied access to your properties.

And now, after resisting the demands of all the American people, you have finally lamented and offered us, in such a generous and self-sacrificing show of concern for those less fortunate, a tax reduction for the rich which will be so beneficial for us plebeians as it stimulates the economy in a bigly way, even though such measures historically have failed to bring such relief about after we swallowed that same explanation.

And you have proved to all of the other countries of the world how great you are by blessing them with your presence, although those who reside in your country are reluctant to acknowledge and admit your greatness.

It would be no surprise if the American people, after finally realizing you greatness and bigly-ness, will unanimously decide to make you our emperor so that you can enforce your will on us without interference with those of opposing opinions while making America great again.

These are just a few of the things that I am upset about and I am sure there will be more as we ride along on our way to opulence for all as you so earnestly pursue.

So, Mr. President, don’t be deterred in your quest for a better world for all. You have started in, as you say, a bigly way.

And sir, please don’t be deterred from your quest for a better life for all – just because some or our ungrateful citizens refer to you as our “Groper in Chief,” when you were just doing what you were entitled to do as a famous person.

You are Fantastic!

Yours truly,
A concerned and grateful citizen of America
The country which will soon be great again.