“Of Saving Souls”

October 14, 2018

Saving Souls

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?” – Mark 8:36

Turkish authorities say Jamal Khashoggi arrived in peace, then left in pieces.

Following the savage killing of a Washington Post journalist in an inexplicable act of government sanctioned barbarism at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, President Donald Trump’s first reaction was an expression of horror at possibly losing profits from the perpetrators.

“I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money coming into our country”, grunted our Grifter-in-Chief – not mentioning the tens of millions of Saudi dollars that have flowed into Trump’s personal treasury.

The President added, “I don’t like stopping an investment of $110 billion in the United States.” He was talking about military sales to the Saudi Kingdom, estimated by most experts to be more like $14.5 billion – most of it arranged under the Obama administration.

It wasn’t long before “Donny the Kid” (Junior), always reliable for stupid statements, tweeted a suggestion that Khashoggi was a terrorist sympathizer. Break out the bone saws.

Khashoggi’s murder was evidently ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the nation’s de facto ruler, now portrayed as a true psychopath. He gained final power by imprisoning fellow princes, torturing a few, and demanding billions in allegiance payments from others — pretty impressive for a 33 year-old. Mohammed is a pal of presidential son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The Intercept, a project of First Look Media, alleges Jared ratted out the names of Saudis “disloyal to the prince” during several late night meetings. Mohammed, in turn, made hundreds of millions available for Kushner family investment. The Prince later proclaimed, “I have Kushner in my pocket.” It seems Jared could be in lots of pockets and has plenty of company.

The New Yorker magazine just published “Enigma Machines”, a complex article dealing with exotic computer links within the Domain Name System (DNS) involving Alfa Bank, one of the largest banks in Russia, and certain other curious entities. Between May and September of 2016, Alfa Bank communicated with a server belonging to the Trump organization over two thousand times – content and purpose still unknown.

One other outfit was singled out reaching that Trump domain during the same time period — Spectrum Health of Grand Rapids, Michigan, closely connected with the DeVos family. That clan would include our current Secretary of Education, Billionaire Betsy DeVos, and Betsy’s brother, Eric Prince. Prince met with a Russian official in the Seychelles in the summer of 2016, reportedly to discuss setting up a back channel between Trump and Russian President, Vladimir Putin. We’ll find out more on this when Bob Mueller finishes his investigation.

Psychologists agree that the average number of items a human mind can recall at once is three things at a time. This is called “working memory” and can vary by individual. That’s why one often hears such things as “deaths occur in threes.” They don’t, but often seem to.

There are now so many horrifying truths about Donald Trump that most of these insults to public propriety immediately disappear from common consciousness in a daily torrent of treachery. It’s exhausting.

The lies. The stumbles. The insecurities. The insanity. The insatiable need for adulating attention. The ego soothing rallies before ever diminishing crowds of screaming syncopates. And the hair. Always – the hair.

How anyone can simultaneously profess true faith in God and faith in Donald J. Trump is beyond my comprehension. I just don’t get it.

November 6th is not simply an election. It is a selection.

Jiminy Cricket got it right.

Let your conscience be your guide.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“He’s Nuts!”

September 30, 2018

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This guy is just plain nuts.

Realizing such is a harsh assessment; I herein claim familial privilege in defending the family name.

After Kavanaugh heard the President was unhappy over Brett’s wimpy performance with Martha MacCallum on FOX, he throttled his runaway train full steam ahead Thursday afternoon, bombastically blowing his cool before a global audience in the millions. His transition from gentle jurist to scorned scholar seemed almost Hulk-like.

I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford – a new American hero.

Anyone who watched Dr. Ford’s extraordinary testimony earlier that day without experiencing emotional whiplash and empathetic resonance has no soul. She was a perfect witness in every way –congenial, cooperative and crushingly credible.

Thanks to Senator Jeff Flake and those remarkable ladies trapping him in the elevator. They brought in the FBI for an extra week of investigation, but I need no further proof of Kavanaugh’s craziness.

American comic Red Skelton once famously declared, “I calls ‘em the way I sees ‘em!” I try to do that too.

Beyond any reasonable doubt, Brett Kavanaugh is supremely unfit to sit on the highest court in the land.

Poor Rachel Mitchell.  She was hauled into the action from Joe Arpaio country in Phoenix to quiz Dr. Ford in front of the committee rather than have those eleven male Republican members do the dirty work. Ms. Mitchell sat in front of them like their nanny.

At halftime, Steve Schmidt, senior campaign strategist and advisor to the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator John McCain, tweeted, “Every GOP strategist and Hill staffer wishes they had a button to open the trap door under Rachel Mitchell’s chair. What a total and complete political disaster for Republicans.”

Rachel still lasted halfway through her remedial role in the subsequent questioning of Brett Kavanaugh. But then Senator Lindsay Graham, hoping to succeed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, jumped into the fray with his mouth blazing, igniting similar shouts of wild indignation from the remaining Republican interrogators — a bunch of old white guys screaming each other into hyperbolic hysteria. The day thus moved from the sublime with Dr. Ford to the ridiculous with Brett and his boys. Astounding.

There’s no question that Judge Kavanaugh is intellectually brilliant, was a super achiever both academically and athletically in his early years, and has enjoyed a stellar career in the following decades. That’s mania for you. The ups frequently have corresponding downs.

There’s also no doubt that the sexually repressive culture dramatically evident in Catholic education of that era could often bring about proportionate, unfortunate expressions of rebellious alcoholic rage. Or at least lasting resentment.

At the start of my senior year at Cathedral Academy in Syracuse, “boys and girls” were separated for a while by an empty row of desks between genders to minimize lurking temptations. Wiser, less austere heads eventually prevailed. Desks were rearranged more democratically. Yet we were still taught that “wanting to” was the same as “doing it” with identical penalties – namely – burning in hell for eternity. And what part of your body burns the hottest? The part you’ve sinned with. Get the picture? It was all I could do not to shove popsicles down my pants.

Our Fourth District Congressman, Representative Tom McClintock, has the Kavanaugh question all figured out. He gave a private speech last week in Placerville and pronounced Dr. Ford’s allegations, “crazy talk” and said that her claims don’t “pass the smell test.” I’m wondering what Tom’s been sniffing. McClintock has repeatedly voted against the Violence Against Women Act, dismissing it as a “feel good measure.”

I’ll feel good without Kavanaugh on the Court and McClintock in Congress – no popsicles needed.

 

 

“She’s a Winner!”

September 23, 2018

Jessica:Tom

“The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake
As the children of the sun began to awake.”

Led Zeppelin – “Going to California (1971)

She proved herself a daunting daughter of the Golden West.

The auditorium at Mariposa High School was filled to capacity Sunday afternoon for a rare debate between candidates for California’s Fourth Congressional District. It was an historic occasion.

Incumbent Tom McClintock was the first introduced by moderator Greg Little, Editor of The Mariposa Gazette, California’s oldest weekly newspaper. Mr. McClintock received appropriate applause in appreciation for his ten years (five terms) of service in Congress, then Jessica Morse was presented and the room spontaneously exploded into a roar of unrehearsed, unrestrained adulation.

For purposes of full disclosure, I should note several things:

First, although I am officially registered as an independent voter with no specific party affiliation, I have never made it a secret that my political views are progressive in nature. I’ve never been a fan of Tom McClintock’s acute, myopic, simplistic conservatism, while admiring him as a polished speaker and good American.

Secondly, every effort was made to insure a balanced crowd. One hundred tickets were provided each camp for distribution to candidate loyalists and the remaining 200 were chosen by random lottery. So I was amazed at the exuberant welcome Jessica received, both in length and volume, offering incontrovertible evidence there’s something in the air around here besides wildfire smoke.

It is now my firm conviction that Ms. Morse not only has a chance to allow Mr. McClintock to retire in January, she’ll be glad to help clean out his Washington office, provide a picnic basket lunch for the movers and wave Tom a cheery goodbye from the front steps of the Capitol building.

McClintock fans in the crowd, obviously noticing Jessica’s remarkably warm audience reception, cranked up their hoots and hollers for such proven conservative crowd pleasers as limited government, less taxes and fewer regulations. It’s the same rap I’ve heard Tom gregariously give many times. Friends of Fox, that means he knows what his friends like. He also wants Trump’s wall built. The good economy, as Tom tells it, is due to all those Obama regulations Trump has removed since taking office. Jessica Morse never mentioned Trump’s name one single time.

Topics covered raced through wildfire control, forest management, health care, climate change, immigration reform, Yosemite Park closings, housing, the homeless, education and the national debt.

All in all, both candidates and the crowd comported themselves well.

There were a few brief moments of heightened tension.

Mr. McClintock accused Ms. Morse of being a “carpetbagger” since she still owned a house in Washington and that she last voted in Colorado. Jessica replied that she voted in the June Primary right here in the Fourth District, but that Tom couldn’t since he doesn’t live in it. Tom said that Jessica “padded her resume” without ever explaining what he was talking about. This evidently deals with a technical ballot listing issue with which no one is concerned.

You can ask Jessica yourself at the next meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club on Saturday morning, October 6th, at the Oakhurst Grill in a live video appearance.

The biggest laugh of the afternoon in Mariposa came when Jessica reminisced over a presentation she gave in Washington several years ago before an impressive assemblage of Navy higher ups. She said she was the only woman in a room filled with older men at least 20 years her senior. She paused for timing, then properly observed, “So I’m ready for Congress.”

I believe she is.

 

“Enlightening Tightening”

September 16, 2018

Trump Folded

They’re singing like The Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Dexedrine.

There’s convicted felon and former Trump National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, slouching right next to convicted felon and Trump personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Michael’s standing behind convicted felon and Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, who’s preening in front of convicted felon and former Trump campaign manager, Rick Gates. Gates is frantically making room in the loft for his former boss and Trump Campaign Manager, convicted felon, Paul Manafort. Mr. Manafort also managed the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland that led to the nomination of Donald J. Trump.

In the background trill the reluctant voices of such notables as longtime Trump Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, granted Immunity from prosecution to spill the beans on his former boss; National Enquirer Publisher and longtime Trump friend, David Pecker, accorded identical honors for similar service, and others to be trotted out shortly.

Following more than a year of investigation, interrogation and indictments, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller has just begun.

The screws are tightening.

The biggest fish to flip so far, Manafort has promised to cooperate with federal investigators about anything, anywhere, at any time and offer public testimony in court under oath. In fact, he’s now pretty much the Choir’s “Primo Uomo.” Fox watchers – that means “Principal Artist.” Manafort is additionally “Soyedineniye Trampa s Putinym”. Hannity fans – that’s Russian for “Trump’s Connection to Putin.” Let your boy smirk about that. Paul Manafort is a key to the Kremlin.

Manafort made millions guiding Ukranian President and Putin pal, Viktor Yankovych, until Yankovych was yanked from power in February of 2014. Manafort also developed a deep relationship with Ukranian power player, Dmytro Firtash, and Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, from whom Manafort borrowed a cool ten million dollars in 2010 – which he never repaid.

However, as Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager in July of 2016, Manafort sent word to Deripaska that he could arrange for “private briefings on the campaign” in return for being “made whole” — meaning — being let off the hook for being let in on the action.

Manafort was bounced from the Trump team before this could come to pass when his dark overseas connections started coming to light in that darn “fake news” press. But it’s nice Paul made a few bucks when he could. Taxpayers and good fiscally conservative Republicans should be pleased.

Manafort has more than paid for every cent the government has spent of the ongoing probe so far with his forfeiture of $46 million dollars in cash, property and a host of other assets — part of the plea deal.

Robert Mueller is one tough Marine.

A registered Republican and graduate of Princeton University, Bob Mueller served as a Marine Corp Officer in the Vietnam War, receiving the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for heroism and the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in action. He was Director of the FBI for more than a dozen years from 2001 to 2013.

On May 17, 2017, Mueller was appointed Special Counsel for the Justice Department to oversee an investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise from the investigation.”

In his book, “A Higher Loyalty”, James Comey writes: “Bob was not a jokester, and his severe demeanor intimidated most people. Word at the bureau was that he had knee surgery not long after 9/11 and declined anesthesia in favor of biting on a leather belt.”

Robert Mueller is not a witch hunter.

He is a traitor trapper.

 

 

 

 

“Morse v. McClintock”

September 9, 2018

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She has him running scared.

Tom McClintock’s shiny new headquarters in the heart of Oakhurst stands as a loving tribute to Jessica Morse.

He’s never had to spend any serious campaign money before.

Jessica wants to stand up for us in Washington as our new Fourth District Congressional Representative. Tom wants to sit down for himself and do what The Don demands.

It’s Sally Field vs. Mr. Burns of The Simpsons.

Anyone willing to put in a hard week’s work should be able to feed their family.” “ – Jessica Morse

Family, Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.” – Charles Montgomery Burns

“Congress could have passed a tax reform aimed at helping the struggling middle class, but it didn’t” – Jessica Morse

“Cheating is the gift man gives himself” – Charles Montgomery Burns

“Student debt is a major problem in America. I don’t think students wishing to attend college should be required to encumber crushing debt.” –– Jessica Morse

“Beware the foul stench of youth” — Charles Montgomery Burns

Jessica and Tom will be debating in Mariposa at the High School at 6 PM on Sunday, September 23rd, but demand for tickets was so high that most of those allowed to attend will be chosen by lottery. The event will be broadcast live on Mariposa Community Radio station 98.5 FM or available at their KRYZ website.

Another debate is tentatively scheduled for later in the month sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Resort Foundation and Sierra Business Council at the North Lake Tahoe Event Center. No swim suits, assault weapons or bare feet allowed. M-A-G-A “Morse Always Gets Applause” golf hats welcome.

Don’t be looking for a bare-knuckle fistfight. Jessica’s far too much a lady for that. Tom is as well. Darn it.

Leaving passionate “Trump Bashing” to others, Jessica feels time is better spent engaged in meaningful conversation on specific national issues having critical local impact on us all. I feel Tom would agree. It’s better paying it safe. After all, defending Donald Trump on stage could make one an eventual co-defendant under oath in more unpleasant circumstances.

But it sure would be nice having a final Morse/McClintock debate right here in the foothills at our Oakhurst Community Center with live, unscripted questions from the audience receiving immediate, unrehearsed answers.

Why are we the only country in the free world without some form of universal health care, Tom? Are you a “socialist”, Jessica? Are deep Republican cuts proposed in Medicare and Medicaid OK with you, Tom? Are you in favor of a welfare state, Jessica? Do you still believe man-made climate change is a rumor, Tom? Will you take away our guns, Jessica?

Here’s a question on something completely different I’ve been getting lately: “Are you any relation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh? Yes, I am. We’re from the same Irish tribe.

There are several dozen spellings of the family name, the basic English version being Kavanagh, pronounced as two syllables – Kav’Nah’. In Irish, it’s Caomhánach, also spoken as Kav’Nah’. That’s Gaelic for you – it can look like one thing, but be quite another. That’s also Cousin Brett, slippery as Crisco coated eel with a smile on his face and repeal in his heart.

Brett and I both enjoyed the benefits of a Jesuit education. He even still teaches occasionally at Georgetown University in Washington, a major Jesuit college. There are liberal Jesuits and conservative Jesuits and everything in between. So you have Cavanaugh and Kavanaugh.

The official Caomhánach family motto is, “Peace and Plenty”, although I personally prefer, “Plenty of Pizza.”

As we pass our political pepperoni.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Farewells”

September 2, 2018

Plane:Sky

Those sure were fancy funerals.

The departed said what they wanted.

Folks came through.

Aretha’s was rockin’ — John’s was righteous.

Aretha Franklin was sent to Heaven with a spectacular eight-hour goodbye at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. It was a star-studded service from start to finish with Former President Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Faith Hill, and several dozen other prominent dignitaries and entertainers. Several dozen. Eight hours. No wonder folks were jumping up and down.

Senator John McCain’s Saturday service at Washington’s National Cathedral was equally powerful, but more traditionally solemn as the Senator wished. The speakers John chose were outstanding, concluding with the two men who defeated him when he ran for President – George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They were each magnificent as they eloquently expressed their respect for an American hero. John McCain was unique and unequalled in his time – a man of baffling complexity — both sinner and saint.

Dave Marsh is an old friend. Dave helped found “Creem” magazine back in the ‘Sixties, was an editor at Rolling Stone, has written dozens of books (including Bruce Springsteen’s official biography) and has gone on to become one of America’s most highly regarded music critics – if not most beloved.

When I presented my thoughts about Senator McCain’s passing, Dave sent me this note laced with typical restraint — I love your blog. But John McCain was a despicable son of a bitch.”  Dave then pointed out a number of concerns, not the least of which being that Hanoi offered ONLY (Dave’s emphasis) civilian targets for McCain’s bombs, that his campaign against Obama was fraught with racial overtones, particularly from Joe Lieberman “so thinly veiled they would have made George Wallace blush” and that Dave is not at all impressed “McCain made some glancing gestures at opposing the Doofus-in-Chief.”

I promptly wrote back, “Well, there’s that.”

What Dave didn’t mention was that Senator McCain bravely joined forces with fellow Vietnam vet, Senator John Kerry, in re-establishing diplomatic relations with Hanoi in 1995 – an extended effort aimed at full reconciliation with a former enemy. Today Kerry writes, “John McCain showed all of us how to bridge the divide between a protestor and a POW. McCain was … grace personified.”

We have these comments from the Vietnamese:

“I know McCain made a great contribution to normalize the relations and was a good friend of Vietnam.” –— Tran Hoan, owner of a Ginseng company in Kon Tum.

The news of his death is sad for the Vietnamese people” – Nguyen Van Than – a 30 year-old taxi driver in Hanoi.

“”He was an American citizen, a person in a war system, and he had to implement his citizenship’s obligation to the country.” – Vietnamese parliamentarian Duong Trung Quoc.

Here’s a guy who rescued The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) by a single vote, yet cast his “YES” for the Republican “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” making the really rich much, much richer. The only long term “jobs” it created was hiring more accountants to count their cash. “Can we buy that new Lamborghini this morning or must we wait till Noon? Does it come in Kardashian Karmel? May I steer it from home?”

McCain didn’t invite former running mate Sarah Palin to his funeral, but downed vodka shots with Hillary Clinton like the sailor he was.

The Senator had raging Irish temper, but a soft Irish soul – the might of a warrior, but the mind of a poet.

John McCain. A study in blessed contradiction.

Saint and sinner.

Towering in departure.

Gone home.

 

“Gone Home”

August 26, 2018

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A setting Arizona sun exploded across the heavens with fiery red, sacred salutation the evening John McCain went home.

In Michigan, I switched my official party registration in 2000 to vote for him in the Republican presidential primary. I liked that “Straight Talk Express” guy. McCain carried the state over George W. Bush 50.97% to 43.05%, but bowed out of the race a few weeks later after lack of strong national conservative support and questionable oppositional tactics doomed his chances.

Surviving capture and torture as a prisoner of war in Viet Nam taught John McCain the mighty power of personal perseverance. Against all odds, he became the Republican Party’s 2008 candidate for President and was leading the Democratic upstart, Barack Obama, by a full ten percentage points in early September USA/Gallup polling.

Then the stock market collapsed on September 29th as the Dow Jones Average fell 777.68 points in a single day. McCain’s chances plummeted right along with it. He lost the presidency to Obama 52.1% to 44.4%, a theoretical shift of 17 percentage points in less than eight weeks’ time.

I was disappointed in the Senator’s significant move to the right in subsequent years, although such was surely understandable from a practical political perspective.

The emergence of the Tea Party following Barack Obama’s election and their flag waving impact on 2010 midterm elections was a very big deal. It resulted in GOP control of the House, while reducing Democratic strength in the Senate. McCain remembered those songs from ‘Nam. “You don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows”. Arizona reelected John McCain to his sixth Senate term in 2016.

The TV news bulletin hit at 5:27 Saturday afternoon. It was a shock, even though eloquent word had been received only a day earlier that medical treatment for terminal brain cancer had come to a merciful end. The Senator’s family said McCain “had surpassed expectations for survival, but the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age rendered their verdict.” But still. So fast.

With all of the many accomplishments this extraordinary warrior achieved in his amazing lifetime, there is one moment that seems to rise above the rest — when he unselfishly chose brotherly devotion over easy escape.

McCain was flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam on October 26, 1967 when his A-4R Skyhawk was shot down by a missile over Hanoi. McCain fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft, nearly drowning when his parachute landed in a lake. North Vietnamese pulled him ashore, then crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him several times for good measure. He was then further beaten and interrogated without medical treatment until it was revealed that his father was a U.S. Navy Admiral, after which he begrudgingly received minimal care.

In mid-1968, John’s dad, Admiral John McCain II, was named Commander of the Pacific Fleet. The North Vietnamese — in a cynical attempt at gaining favorable publicity — offered John immediate release. The future Senator McCain refused repatriation unless every man imprisoned before him was also freed.

After this display of “impudence”, young McCain was subjected to a program of severe torture, bound and beaten every two hours for weeks and suspended from the ceiling by his elbows. In one form or another, this went on for the next five years.

As his cortege departing Sedona drove into that glorious Saturday sunset, a true American hero went home.

With vibrant clouds of golden brilliance, “His Lord said unto him, well done, thou good and faithful servant.” – Matthew 25:21.

As the light shined upon him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Aretha Thoughts”

August 19, 2018

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Donald Trump’s opening thought acknowledging the passing of Aretha Franklin?

“She worked for me on numerous occasions.”

Shortly after this revolting, yet revealing public utterance, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, fabulously fashionable as usual in her ZZ Top inspired pearl necklace, allowed that this wasn’t quite right. In fact, Ms. Franklin never “worked for” Trump at any time in any fashion. Who knows what the President was thinking.

On your plantation, Mister President?

It was fitting that Aretha Franklin was the first female artist voted into Cleveland’s prestigious Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

It has long been my contention that the essential component of “Rock & Roll” is pure attitude, the music itself being an important expression of same, but not alone, nor primary in such distinction.

There was real life, raw bone, red-hot attitude exploding with highly energized, wondrous excitement every time Aretha played and sang. From her early roots in Gospel and Rhythm & Blues, “Sister Rea” came to define “soul music” as its unchallenged, unequalled Queen.

Recipient of 18 Grammy awards, including lifetime achievement, Ms. Franklin was a registered Democrat, leaving an estate valued at over $60 million dollars and hundreds of millions of loving fans around the world.

Passing at 76, Aretha Franklin will live forever through her masterful music and timeless majesty.

Then there’s Trump — unfit to wipe Aretha Franklin’s shoes with his hilarious hair or let them walk on his big fat head.

When the New York Times carried their Sunday story about the extensive testimony White House attorney Don McGahn supplied Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Trump tweeter went into conniptions. Our Thief-in-Chief twitted that McGahn was not a “John Dean type RAT” and had been “allowed to testify” along with “all others”.

How Donald might possibly know what McGahn did or didn’t share with Mueller’s team is highly suspicious, along with the outrageous suggestion that the President’s permission is required for his staffers to tell the truth. Otherwise, it implies they should perilously lie or professionally die. Little Miss Pearl Necklace is clearly accomplished at the art.

Trump’s characterization of the Watergate Hearings’ star witness, John Dean, as a “RAT”, capitalizing the mob word, also provides critical insight, if not comfort.

Dean had been a Nixon Administration attorney who dramatically helped bring down the President by revealing the existence of an “Enemies List” used to discredit and punish critics of Nixon, a copy of which he furnished to the Senate Investigating Committee.

So North Korea is reportedly back to building missiles, China is responding to Trump-initiated tit for tat (an old English saying meaning “equivalent retaliation”) tariff terror and Turkey’s thinking about kicking us out of Incirlik Air Base. We have 5,000 troops there. It’s the home of the 39th Air Force Wing from which we launch attacks against ISIS.

Then there’s Trump pulling security clearance away from former CIA Director, John Brennan, while threatening dozens of others with a similar fate for leading “the rigged Russian Hoax” – offering ironic, moronic proof of the President’s own screaming insecurities.

It was Retired Admiral William H. McRaven who successfully planned and supervised the killing of Osama Bin Laden. McRaven just published an open letter to the President stating he would be honored joining Brennan in having his own clearance removed so he could “add (his) name to the list of men and women who have spoken out against (Trump’s) presidency.”

Congressional Republicans? Tom McClintock? At long last, is it not finally time to simply and honestly THINK?

“Let your mind go, let yourself be free” – “Think” – Aretha Franklin (1968)

 

“GLORY TO THE HEIST”

August 12, 2018

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“I laugh because I must not cry” – Abraham Lincoln (1862)

These days I never miss highlights of Stephen Colbert (CBS), Trevor Noah (The Comedy Network), John Oliver (HBO), Jimmy Kimmel (ABC) or Jimmy Fallon (NBC) — in that order. Thanks, YouTube!

They keep me sane and share one thing in common.

They are brilliant performers with a staff of gifted writers at a critical time in our nation’s history when they’ve never been needed more.

There are dozens of other comics similarly dedicated to keeping this current craziness properly perceived. Their focus is the same. We are being ruled by the rich and their slimy surrogates, led by a lifetime lunatic.

Comedians have played a critical role in cultural consciousness throughout history, from their role as favored fools in the courts of kings to such American icons as Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Bob Hope and Johnny Carson.

Twain called political party loyalty, “A snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes.” Chaplin’s masterpiece, “The Great Dictator”, brilliantly satirized Hitler and fascism, receiving five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor.

It was Will Rogers who proclaimed, “I am not the member of any organized political Party. I am a Democrat!” Bob Hope once famously declared, “No one party can fool all of the people all of the time. That’s why we have two parties.”

 In a remarkably prescient moment more than a quarter century ago, Johnny Carson announced on the Tonight Show in 1992, “Jennifer Flowers got a new job today — as Donald Trump’s backup mistress.”

For Fox fans — Ms. Flowers was said to have been romantically involved with Bill Clinton for an extended period back when he was governor of Arkansas.

Back when I was a mean little kid in Syracuse, I would walk into our neighborhood Ben Franklin 5&10 with my friends and engage in friendly dialogue with whoever happened to be in charge, usually a hapless clerk given to easy distraction. Simultaneously, my associates would quickly grab little goodies galore from unwatched counters to be evenly divided following departure. Such practice stopped when I started Catholic School in 5th Grade. Clerks were one thing, but nuns dramatically something else. There were bites to their barks.

Such youthful misbehavior came to mind when I was trying to figure out another fresh way to frame this current outlaw administration. In many ways, Donald Trump is much more a distracter than actor. While he endlessly bleats and tweets divisive drivel in the spotlight, his gang is back in the shadows hooting and looting.

There’s former EPA Secretary Scott “The Devil Made Me Do It” Pruitt, who plundered his way to dismissal through such extravagances as a $43,000 private phone booth.

Treasury Secretary Steven “Munchkin” Mnuchin believes he can engineer millions more in tax relief for billionaires without involving Congress.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan “Stinky” Zinke is looking for ways to open thousands of square miles of federal lands to commercial exploitation – specifically drilling and fracking.

The latest issue of Forbes Magazine reports Secretary of Commerce Wilbur “Bald Boss” Ross “could rank among the biggest grifters in American history” after swindling $120 million dollars from associates.

Mick “Zany” Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Acting Director of the Consumer Protection Agency, just cut that agency’s budget in half and fired all 25 members of its advisory board.

H.U.D. Secretary Ben Carson’s solution for low-income Americans’ housing is to raise rents.

Kurt Vonnegut would herein add, “And so on.”

Glory be to the heist.

Trump’s “best” seem unblessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Smokesman Birthday”

August 5, 2018

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It’s August 9, 2018.

Happy 74th Birthday to Smokey Bear!

With many able bodied young men fighting overseas in World War Two, The U.S. Forest Service decided to develop a major campaign to remind citizens about the importance of accepting individual responsibility in preventing forest fires.

When Walt Disney’s “Bambi” was released in late 1942, it was noted by planners that the film included a climactic forest fire sequence. They received permission to use the newly beloved character in its advertising efforts, but were only licensed to do so for a year. Walt ran a tight ship. Artists marched back to the drawing board like dwarfs heading off to work. Heigh-Ho. Heigh-Ho.

It was on August 9, 1944 that “Smokey Bear” made his national debut – with the “e” intentionally added to the accepted spelling of “smoky” to make the name unique. That’s tripped me up more than once. Although “Bambi” lost money in its first release, “Smokey” was a major hit from the start.

Smokey’s slogan “Only you can prevent forest fires” was updated to “wildfires” in April of 2001 due to a massive outbreak of fire activity in grasslands and to explain that Smokey was not talking about officially sanctioned outdoor fires.

2018 may well turn out to be the worst year in California wildfire history – and our state is not alone in courting such dubious distinction. Nor is our nation.

Glaciers are melting around the world. Deserts are expanding as never before. Oceans are rising at an elevated rate. Human impact on climate change is scientifically irrefutable, yet still denied by the dense. Speaking of whom —-

Devin Nunes? I’ve had enough smoke getting in my eyes. Get off my TV screen.

This creepy little stooge has been all over the channels whining about state government and asking viewers to join him in his fight against California taxes, especially the new one on gasoline enacted to provide $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repair and expanded mass transit. That’s instead of deficit spending for these things, which I thought should please conservative Republican friends.

“Governor Moonbeam” has been balancing his budget these last few years, even generating billions of dollars in surplus for a rainy day. More mass transit will greatly decrease auto emission levels, a reasonable, climate conscious goal. Get it, Devin?

You don’t really spend much time in your 22nd Congressional District anymore, do you? You’ve been far too busy kissing up to our Cowardly Liar with embarrassing middle-of-the-night plots while displaying the lamest political leadership since Incitatus grazed in the Roman Senate. He was Emperor Caligula’s favorite horse.

State stuff is none of your business anyway, Devin. You’re supposed to be dealing with important federal matters. But there’s nothing you can be proud of there.

How about showing your face in public and answering local taxpayer questions, like why you voted to end federal health care without a “cheaper and better replacement’, as your lord and master guaranteed. “Promises made. Promises Delayed.”

 Why did you support the despised “Tax Reform Act of 2017” primarily benefitting the very richest in American society? They don’t live next door. This is the same bunch waiting for another multi billion-dollar pay-off any day now in the form of adjusted capital gains. They’re grabbing all they can. No one seems to notice.

It’s much too smoky.

“Breathe deep the gathering gloom.

Watch lights fade from every room”

 “Late Lament” – The Moody Blues (1967)

Though the same sun shines on all — divided as a people — this is a summer of discontent.

The fall can’t some too soon, seasonal and otherwise.