“Eve of Obstruction”

June 15, 2017

Keebler Jeff

“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice.”

 Donald J. Trump

3:55 AM – 15 June 2017

Nice.

The “Russians story” isn’t phony, there’s plenty of proof, and “obstruction of justice” is certainly much clearer than how you can possibly think you look good with that thing on your head.

Mister President? Why don’t you just jump on a broom like the Wicked Witch of the West and circle the White House, replacing “Surrender Dorothy” with — “I’m Guilty!”

 That would save us all time, attention, money and face. We do need to move along, discarding you on the trash heap of history as a mock messiah unworthy of memory for having shamed us all with bitter betrayal, national disgrace and global dishonor.

The self-indicting tweet confirmed a report in the Washington Post that the Republican President was personally the subject of an extensive criminal investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstructing justice. Upon learning of same, Trump seriously contemplated firing Mueller just as he had FBI Director James Comey, but was finally dissuaded by the few clear heads left in his inner circle. Not you Steve Bannon.

All this was after Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard “Pee Wee” Sessions testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee as it continued its own investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as any ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Futilely attempting to radiate elfin innocence with a sugar sweet smile and an occasionally engaging “y’all” drawl, Pee Wee did past audition as a future poster boy for the Smedema Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting amnesia. Rolling Stone magazine counted 25 separate times Pee Wee encountered a major memory lapse while testifying. They might have been stoned. Several other publications came up with 26.

California’s own new Senator, Kamala Harris, pointedly noted to Sessions that even in the brief opening remarks he submitted to the Committee in advance of his appearance, “Just on the first page you wrote,” nor do I recall”, “do not have recollection” and “do not remember it.”

 Senator Harris did us proud in rapidly pounding away at Pee Wee until Senator John McCain interrupted her in mid sentence by pounding the table, yelling, “Mr. Chairman, the witness should be allowed to answer the question!”

 Sessions did so, although confessing with due embarrassment that Senator Harris made him “nervous.” Yes. And she’s a woman!

The question Pee Wee was wildly attempting to wiggle his way out of was what he meant by refusing to answer anything he discussed with President Trump, alleging a long held “policy of communications confidentiality.” No one present had ever heard of such a thing. Pee Wee insisted this was not a matter of “Executive Privilege” or even “classified information.” He also wasn’t sure any such rule existed in writing. Anywhere. Adding intentional avoidance to chronic amnesia has started quite a fuss. Some feel Pee Wee should be charged with Contempt of Congress. Senator Elizabeth Warren flatly stated he should be immediately dismissed. Others swear they will never eat Keebler Cookies again.

Trump will be going down. All loyal hangers-on will be going down. History will be unforgiving.

Although “Obstruction of Justice” is emerging as initial candidate for inclusion in a Bill of Impeachment before the House of Representatives, we are scratching the surface.

The ultimate end will be a dollars deal. It usually is.

Forget the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy.

Follow the money.

 

 

 

“Batman v. Trump”

June 11, 2017

Batman-BenAffleck

Last week we lost 88 year-old Adam West, an iconic actor best known for his role as DC Comic’s Batman in the spectacularly successful ’66-’68 ABC TV revival of the legendary franchise dating back to May of 1939.

As with other super heroes packing movie theaters through succeeding generations, the Batman character epitomizes beliefs, balances and behaviors commonly regarded by the greatest majority of our citizenry through the years as core national values. The kinds of things you teach your kids.

Perhaps Superman proclaimed it best. “Truth, Justice and The American Way!”

Batman would have had little use for Donald J. Trump. Nor would Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy or Wonder Woman. Try giving HER a grab, President Puffball.

Trump can’t tell the truth, thinks “justice” means “just us” and believes the American Way is measured in karats, not character.

I watched former FBI Director Jim Comey’s live testimony under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee from start to finish. I found him clearly confident and highly credible. As any professional pool player would quickly recognize, Comey brilliantly set the table for future things to come. When ABC’s Jon Karl later sprang his own trap on Trump, Donald instantly snapped at the bait like a starving sturgeon. Would the President testify giving his “version of events” under oath? You bet. “One hundred percent!” roared the response. Don’t hold your breath.

Latest Quinnipiac polling shows the Republican President hitting yet another new low with a plunging approval rating of 34%, the worst ever recorded. A full 57% of the 2,000 + sample registered disfavor. An even larger majority of respondents (68%) believe that the President is not “level headed” – including 64% of Republicans. Incidentally, these figures were obtained before Comey went before the Senate Committee and swore under penalty of perjury “the administration chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, and that the work force had lost confidence in its leader. These were lies – plain and simple.”

 The initial White House response?

“I can definitely say the President is not a liar,” lied Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee “Southern Baptist Minister’s Daughter” Sanders.

Being unable to secure personal representation from four respectable Washington law firms due to his established legal reputation for “not listening and not paying,” Trump has turned to an old go-to lawyer, New York’s Marc Kasowitz, to act in his stead during the current Russia probe. Marc arrives on the scene quite cozy with the subject at hand since Kasowitz recently represented a major Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank and one particular company owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska with proven connections to the Kremlin. It’s a small world after all.

And it’s going faster all the time.

I can’t believe it’s been seven and a half years since Alan Cheah and I began writing this “For Your Consideration” column, starting in January of 2010. Along with Editor Brian Wilkinson, Publisher Betty Linn has been with us all the way, providing Sierra Star readers with a perhaps more progressive outlook on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness “(more Superman) than otherwise occasionally encountered. As you may have read, Betty is retiring from the Star at the end of this week, but surely not from Oakhurst and all the friends and admirers who love her dearly.

Thank you Betty for being there for all of us, right, left and center, all the time every time.

You’re very special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Duck, Donald!”

June 4, 2017

Duck

Here comes the sun.

With former FBI Director James Comey’s sworn words of damning testimony inexorably about to unfold, rumbling and roiling like vengeful, redemptive storm clouds on the near horizon, an inevitable beginning to the end may be drawing near. It’s none too soon.

For the first time in my 75 years of life, an American President is no longer leader of the free world. When our Demander- in – Chief cut and ran from a signed global commitment to the 2015 Paris Accords, his disgusting display of woeful ignorance represented a federal government in full flight from rational responsibility, signaling to the rest of the planet cowardly surrender to naive nationalism at its most pernicious and imperiling.

Trump’s Rose Garden retreat was filled with exaggerations, distortions and outright lies, consistency evidently emerging as one of his few remaining virtues. He actually pontificated before a carefully selected audience of solicitous sycophants; “We don’t want other countries laughing at us anymore!” Here’s when they’ll stop. When the door hits a certain prodigious posterior on its way out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, President Pudge.

The new leader of the free world could be Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel or even France’s brand new President Emmanuel Macron. Macron is the one who delivered an unanticipated and prolonged power handshake to Trump when they met in Brussels. The Washington Post reported, “Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white, their jaws clenching and faces tightening.” Reuters cheerfully added, “Trump just seemed to want his hand back.” Macron called it. “A moment of truth.” Merci!

The Chinese might even find themselves in a position to fill the vacuum created by Trump’s defiant dump, moving to the forefront in developing extensive innovations in green technology – an area in which they have already gained significant traction. On the brighter side, it also seems that there is wide support among American business leaders, local mayors and state governors such as our own Jerry Brown to step in where Donald has struck out, embracing the immediate need for critical change. Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say that true political power is always local. That might still save us all.

London Bridge wasn’t falling down, but it was unfortunately back in the news Saturday afternoon as we were suddenly jarred by yet another senseless terror driven tragedy. With all three cable news networks presenting live coverage, CNN was first to report that “top advisors” were being “summoned to the White House to meet with the President and determine a course of appropriate responsive action.” While in the past I’ve always found such news certain to bring reliable comfort, my stomach was suddenly churning in knots — fearing yet another round of universal global embarrassment. Donald didn’t disappoint.

Prioritization often provides insight. The President’s very first tweet offered no sympathy, concern or compassion for the victimized. Trump simply twittered: “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” A few minutes later, handlers had him add that the U.S. would do whatever it could in offering assistance. He followed up Sunday with attacks on Sadiq Khan, the Muslim Mayor of London, and then renewed support for the American gun lobby, proclaiming, “We are not having a gun debate right now because they used knives and a truck!”

 Satisfied with his shrewd sagacious sharing, “Two-Scoop Donny” then retired for the night with extra chocolate cake, several gallons of Diet Coke and a Teddy named Eddie.

Had he been spending the preceding night in Oakhurst, Trump probably would have slept through till Noon and missed an extraordinary opportunity to be both brightened and enlightened.

Tim Z. Hernandez delivered an outstanding presentation before a full capacity crowd at Denny’s Saturday morning for our June meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. There’s a major difference between a standard speaker and a gifted storyteller. Mr. Hernandez was very much the latter; bringing his nationally heralded, “All They Will Call You” to vibrant life with passion and power. We’ll be taking the month of July off, starting things up again on Saturday, August 5th with Joe Moore, KVPR Director of Programming Content, discussing “Valley Public Radio and Freedom of the Press.”

 Real patriots arm themselves with information.

 

 

 

“Adios Mis Amigos”

May 28, 2017

Tim_Z_Hernandez

 “The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon…”

Woody Guthrie, “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” (Deportee)” (1948)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeCstLTB0EI

Here’s a letter I wrote to Rychard Withers, General Manager of Fresno’s KFCF in late August of 2015:

Dear Rychard:

Last night I was leaving a “Town Hall Meeting” conducted by our regretfully conservative Fifth District Congressman Tom McClintock at the Yosemite Lakes Clubhouse — hidden way in the middle of Nowhere, California in the general vicinity of Coarsegold.

Suffice it to observe, the location was rabble free and safe from any madding crowd, particularly those perceived as dauntingly different. There was substantial audience feedback on “dangerous immigrants”, “Illegal foreigners” and “job stealing freeloaders” with special emphasis on the “Mexican threat” being so courageously outlined by presidential candidate Donald Trump. Cries of spirited affirmation filled the room. Trump! Trump! Trump!

Gasping for sanity as soon as I got in my car to head home with a dazzling, fiery red summer sunset blazing on the horizon, I dialed up 88.1 FM for a breath of fresh air. I was blown away by an explosive version of Woody Guthrie’s “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” (“Deportee”) by ?????. It turns out “La Raza Chronicles” was scheduled in that time slot, except that “Plane Wreck” selection was playing when I tuned in, but was followed by some sort of interview in Spanish joined in progress at the end of the song. In any event, that particular selection after that specific meeting couldn’t have been more perfect.

So — Do you have any idea what happened and who did that version? It featured a powerful Bruce Springsteen-like vocalist and wonderful slide guitar with someone softly speaking Spanish in the background. Maybe it was some sort of magical hallucination. I’ve had stranger things happen.

With best wishes,

Peter Cavanaugh

Executive Committee

Oakhurst Democratic Club

Rychard informed me that this marked an occasion of pure serendipity. It turned out that there was a software glitch in broadcasting “La Raza Chronicles” and the KFCF programming computer had filled the sudden dead air with “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” by Lance Canales and Tim Z. Hernandez as a matter of pure random chance. I don’t believe in coincidence.

Early this year, I discovered Dr. Ruben Casas’ excellent article on “All They Will Call You” in the February issue of Fresno’s “Community Alliance” along with rave reviews of this new book by Mr. Hernandez. It tells a remarkable story with precision and perseverance, presenting a brilliant, experience driven narrative with deeply personal compassion and powerfully persuasive insight.

I immediately tracked down Mr. Hernandez and asked him to visit Oakhurst. He said he would be pleased to do so.

The next monthly meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club will be this Saturday, June 3rd, at Denny’s on Highway 41 with breakfast starting at 8:30 AM and program beginning at 9:30.

Our featured speaker will be Tim Z. Hernandez, author of “All They Will Call You”, a history of the 1948 plane crash in Los Gatos Canyon that killed 28 migrant workers.

Recipient of numerous national book awards, Hernandez is an American writer, poet and performer. Tim was raised in the San Joaquin Valley, the son of migrant farm workers. In his adolescent years he became immersed in school plays and recitation, eventually studying poetry and performance at California State University in Long Beach.

Mr. Hernandez earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Writing and Literature from Naropa University — the first accredited Buddhist institute in the West. He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Bennington College in Vermont and is currently an Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Texas in El Paso.

His books and research have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Public Radio International and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

The general public is enthusiastically encouraged to attend.

Anne Driscoll of Branches Books & Gifts is celebrating the store’s Fourth Year Anniversary this weekend and has ordered copies of “All They Will Call You” — offering a special 20% discount to those mentioning Mr. Hernandez’ Oakhurst appearance. If you buy one, be sure to have it at the meeting for signing.

See you Saturday. Bring friends. It’s free!

 “This land is your land, this land is my land. 

From California to the New York island.

From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters.

This land was made for you and me.”

 Woody Guthrie — “This Land” — (1940)

“Tripping With Trump”

May 21, 2017

Bow

Jared is scared.

Along with being the President’s son-in-law and Ivanka’s marginally honorable husband, Jared “The Kid” Kushner is or may soon be the “subject of interest” referenced late last week in the Washington Post.

Accordingly to the multi-sourced report, a “senior White House adviser close to the President” is under scrutiny in connection with the newly configured probe into certain Russian connections between the Trump organization and Donny’s pal, Putin.

The Kid and Ivanka are together personally worth around $700 million, so whatever Jared might have dared was undoubtedly prompted more by love than money. Overlooking this romantic aside, when Kushner sought top-secret security clearance in becoming his Liar-in-Law’s senior adviser, he was required to list in writing all encounters with senior government officials over the last seven years. This was tantamount to sworn testimony. It says right on FBI Standard Form 86, “Knowingly falsifying or concealing material facts is a federal felony that may result in fines or up to five years imprisonment.” Whoops. The Kid left a few things out.

In what must have been a temporary burst of amicable amnesia, Kushner neglected to include dozens of dalliances, including a meeting only weeks before with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak (there he is again) and the head of Vnesheconombank, Russia’s state owned bank. That would be yet another Sergey, Sergey N. Gorkov, whose credentials include graduation with honors from Russia’s top spy school, Moscow’s Andropov Institute. It is said to achieve distinction at The Institute, one must learn to disappear in an empty room. Impressive.

Kushner’s assumedly apoplectic attorneys have since referenced these omissions as being “inadvertent” – brought about by a “premature submission.” There are certain things with which one must learn to take more time.

Whether or not Jared ever cared to update his data, there he was as usual — right down front in Riyadh at the beginning of Trump’s widely heralded first big trip overseas, dripping in golden opulence and staggering splendor in the court of King Salamander. Yes, things kicked off in Saudi Arabia, home of Mecca, Mohammed and 15 of the 19 terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11. This Memorial Day Weekend, we should not forget. Never.

Trump presented an amazingly subdued address to the assembled Muslim leaders, more than a few being despotic dictators, but what’s gruesome to some may be unrestrained guidance to others – surely nothing that forbids friendship.  This “Donald on Downers” was much more laid back than I’ve ever seen – appearing more embalmed than emboldened. Not a bad look.

While being lavishly entertained like the monarch he seeks to be, Trump was joined by his Secretary of Commerce, 79 year-old Wilbur Ross, Jr., prancing about like Flopsy and Mopsy during an official Saudi victory dance, ceremonial swords held high or, in Wilbur’s case, about halfway up. Speaking of which, Wilbur was there with his third wife, the blond and beautiful Hillary (ironic, eh?) Ross. Mrs. Ross III, is said to be a “fixture of Washington and Palm Beach” and a “Power Society Hostess.”

Wilbur is worth several billion bucks, much of which he earned investing in corporate takeovers costing thousands of American workers their jobs, staging career executions on cue – carving up assets and bleeding pension funds to the last penny. Wilbur offers a prime example of vulture capitalism at its worst — awful, but lawful. And our current Secretary of Commerce was only two short years ago Vice-Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus — generally recognized as being primarily created to launder dark Russian money with deep ties to Vlad the Bad. It is heavily rumored that, in many ways, as Vice-Chairman of the Bank, Ross reported directly to Putin.

There’s one thing certain about the parties in Saudi.  Everyone there had big money. Lots of it. Lots. That brings me to Netflix.

 ‘Get Me Roger Stone” just came on line for streaming. Watch it more than once. It pretty much explains everything we are experiencing in the hallucinogenic-like, mind-mauling horror of our 45th President as we continue tripping with Trump.

Accordingly to the Washington Times, Stone recently admitted that he has been in private communications with Russian-connected hackers into Democratic National Headquarters. Stone also boasts of having a “back channel” to Julian Assange — Wiki-leaker extraordinaire.

Roger Stone goes back to Goldwater. He is a colorful cockroach of a character – delightfully diabolical. You can’t help but marvel at his manipulative genius, while sadly recalling the immortal words of P.T. Barnum, “You will never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Die-hard Trump fans?

You’ve been played.

 

 

 

 

“Downward Donald”

May 14, 2017

Downward

Allegiance is shifting.

Self-survival requires nothing less.

Tipping point reached, balance lost, we now witness rapid acceleration of a plunging decline to eventual abandonment as former Trump supporters, shocked and silenced by behavior as bewildering as his broken promises, firmly and finally withdraw open endorsement.

NBC’s “Face the Nation” resounded Sunday with honest Republican reevaluation.

“A Presidency without guardrails.”

 “Richard Nixon on steroids.”

 “This guy scares me.”

 Not much time is left for those who wish to remain on the right side of history.

Consider the astounding enormity of Drumpf’s (original German spelling of Trump’s family name) latest miscalculation in foolishly fantasizing that Democrats would delight in the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.

Parenthetically, HBO’s John Oliver defines the word “Drumpf” as meaning either “a serial liar” or “the sound produced when a morbidly obese pigeon flies into the window of a foreclosed Old Navy store.”

I just read that. It’s too good to leave out.

While many Democrats do believe Comey’s handling of the Hillary email probe was less than stellar (including Mrs. Clinton) – virtually everyone still agrees that Comey nevertheless was and remained valiantly virtuous by almost every other measure during his long and dedicated years of government service. For such extended devotion to honor and duty he was abruptly dismissed without fair warning or the slightest pretense of proper protocol – ignominiously fired before millions on cable TV.

Effortlessly tossing some of his closest surrogates (including Poodle Pence) under the Lester Holt “NBC Nightly News” bus that following day in a live interview and introducing a brand new set of alternate facts in the process, President Pigeon kept insisting that he personally was not being investigated. That came down as item #1. He even made up some fresh fibs — straight from the oven steaming hot. Sniff the snit. Everyone else? The campaign? Those Russian guys taking pictures in the Oval office? Who knows?

After every new “worst week” comes another.

Now he’s about to represent us in his first overseas mission since being inaugurated. Saudi Arabia. Israel. The Vatican. Then comes the NATO Summit in Brussels followed by a G7 Meeting in Sicily. What can possibly go wrong? Everything.

Horrid organizer. Pathetic planner. Destructive delegator. Move over, Miley. Donald J. Trump is the ultimate wrecking ball. It’s quite conceivable he can unite the world by making everyone on the planet hate us all at once. But it won’t be his fault. Nothing bad ever is.

Donald feels his good things include Pee Wee.

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the 3rd, whose middle name may soon disappear in the middle of the night along with the rest of him, didn’t tell the truth on January 10th when he told Senate peers under oath he hadn’t meet with any recent Russians.

Oh, wait! That “Sergey Kislyak?” Him? Isn’t he a tailor or something? Sessions later allowed that he had met with the Russian Ambassador twice in 2016, but not as part of the Trump campaign. And Pee Wee didn’t buy any suits.

To alleviate any consequential concerns about his lasting love of law and order, Jefferson the Third has just ordered that federal prosecutors should “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” in drug cases, even when that would trigger mandatory minimum sentencing. This would bring back pre-Obama era incarceration policies that led to the United States – representing 5% of the globe’s population, housing 25% of its prisoners.

Mandatory sentencing for drug users has been controversial of late with significant bipartisan support building for review and revision.

Many reflective Republicans now oppose the concept as proven to be unfair, ineffective and far too costly. Not Sessions. Pee Wee likes the P.R. – characteristically treasuring form over substance.

 Most of Trump’s cabinet appointees are moving in predictable directions, even though much of his new administration is alarmingly understaffed, particularly the State Department. That should work out well on this weekend’s trip.

Obstruction of justice was one of the first charges outlined in the proposed impeachment of Richard M. Nixon on July 27, 1974. When the investigated (Donald) dismisses his primary investigator (James), this would seem to offer a classic definition of such obstruction.

Harvard Law Professor and leading constitutional authority Lawrence Tribe now categorically states, “Trump’s impeachment is an imperative.”

Professor Tribe adds, “Impeachable offenses could theoretically have been charged from the outset of this presidency. Political reality made impeachment seem premature. No longer. To wait for the results of multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation’s fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader.”

 Preach impeach.

 Tom McClintock — (916) 786-5560 or (202) 225-2511

They count every call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Zombie Trumpcare”

May 7, 2017

night-of-the-walking-dead-movie-poster-1977-1020227960

Horror stalks the land.

Spawned once again in the darkest part of night, the monster rose anew. Like Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.”

Its putrid essence wafting olfactory insult as it passes, the vile villain now slithers toward The Senate on a mission to maim millions – hacking healthcare to reward the rich with a trillion dollar tax cut over the next ten years. The have-it-alls get more. It’s the least we can do for our betters.

Frankensteins by the dozen celebrated their vivisection resurrection with beer by the barrel on White House steps, led by President Pretense and his precious Prince Pence. Pass the pretzels, Poodle.

Victory was staggering. 216 votes were needed for success. 217 were scored. It was another historic, off the charts, big league landslide. Really special. Tremendous. Incredible.

Here’s a quick rundown.

Most Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act of 2010 because someone named it “Obamacare” and that somehow stuck. Even President Obama started calling it “Obamacare.” Year after year, survey upon survey has conclusively proven beyond any doubt that a significant majority of Americans like what’s in ACA when you break it down. That’s become especially true these last few months. Check out those Town Hall Meetings from coast to coast if you can get in the door anywhere.

The cost of medical coverage has been increasing by leaps and bounds in our lifetime DESPITE “Obamacare”, not BECAUSE of it. This is statistically indisputable. Ask anyone in the insurance business, not Donald J. “Truth Trasher” Trump. The brakes were hit in 2014 when the provisions of the Act were fully in place.

Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan) came up with a scheme at the last minute adding eight billion dollars to the beast for theoretical assistance to those negatively impacted by having a “pre-existing condition” — such as – gender. Anyone shoved head first into a high-risk pool might be able to draw upon this fund for assistance. According to every reasonable estimate, there’s enough there to take you from being ten feet underwater in the pool to being only eight feet beneath the surface. But there’s less pressure, assuming you can hold your breath long enough to tell the difference. Glub – Glub. Gulp. Gone.

Taking cowardly cover from this cynical last minute cosmetic, enough earlier wobblers came on board to breath life into the creature. This included our own Tom McClintock.

Tom!

How can you kiss your wife with those lips?

Rachel Maddow put our guy under a bright MSNBC spotlight after the vote came down, prominently featuring several area constituents loudly labeling him, “Tom McTRUMP.” As of last count, four (4) ladies have lined up to run against McTrump next year, recent Democratic contender Dr. Bob Derlet having decided to sit this one out. You’ll have the chance to meet them all in the near future. They have lots to say.

Zombie Trumpcare elevates and celebrates the worst instincts of self-serving economic privilege. It momentarily pacifies the young, outrageously services the wealthy and permanently injures the old, sick and poor. Zombie Trumpcare is the Sermon on the Mount upside down. Zombie Trumpcare sucks.

Although he and I share little concurrence in specific political outlook, I have always admired conservative pundit George Will for his diligent pursuit of truth, intellectual prowess and mastery of language. And I also love baseball, as does George.

Internalizing the accidental election of Trump far past the point of such silly concepts as “mild nausea” (which must be somewhat akin to “partial pregnancy”) – I find myself constantly struggling each week to find adequate words to express my ever increasing discomfort. Pejoratives offer nothing more than a partial panacea at best and overt overkill at worst.

A single column by George Will was the talk of Washington last week. I found it brilliantly inspirational and utterly fascinating. I close this column with his words.

It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination, but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence. The dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something. It is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man…”

 Tom?

“Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”

April 30, 2017

aclu-logo

Democracy is not automatic.

In fact, it still remains a fragile commodity.

Only 43% of the global population currently enjoys relatively full political rights and liberties.

The Democracy Index constructed by the Economist Intelligence Unit of the United Kingdom is based on 60 separate indicators. These are grouped into 5 different categories measuring pluralism, civil freedoms and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and comparative ranking, the Index then rates nations as one of four regime types – full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.

Of the 167 countries most recently reviewed, the United States ranks 21st on the list with North Korea coming in last. No surprise there.

But we have been downgraded from a “full” to “flawed democracy” — this development generated not by Donald Trump winning the presidency, but, quoting the report, “caused by the same factors that led to his election” – defined by The Economist as “declining trust in government.”

The consequence of Trump’s elevation nevertheless has spawned a new generation of swamp creatures now threatening core American beliefs and principles unlike any before — a conquering cabal of craven intent dedicated to their own private interests and displaying extraordinary exclusion of everyone else. This is particularly true of anything dealing with the public good and “general welfare’’ – even though those last two words are enshrined twice in the Constitution – both in the Preamble and later in the Tax and Spending clause.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization dedicated to defending and preserving guaranteed individual rights and liberties. It has over a million members. In 2020, it will be one hundred years old. Get ready to stand back from all the candles on that cake.

The ACLU was formed in 1920 by a group of prominent citizens concerned about government censorship. This had become commonplace. Magazines were regularly being confiscated under anti-obscenity laws. Permits for labor rallies were often denied. Right-wing groups were enjoying enormous political power, while anyone promoting unionization, socialism or governmental reform was branded as being un-American and unpatriotic.

ACLU founders included Felix Frankfurter, later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Felix served for 23 years through 1962.

The first five years didn’t get much done, but things sure changed in 1925 with The Scopes “Monkey Trial” in rural Dayton, Tennessee. Those who recall the film “Inherit the Wind” (1961) know the story. Spencer Tracy received an Academy Award Nomination as Best Actor for his portrayal of legendary attorney Clarence Darrow, renamed “Henry Drummond” in the movie, just as three-time Democratic candidate for President, William Jennings Bryan, became “Matthew Harrison Brady” played by Fredrick March.

Even way back then, it was “Evolution” vs. “Creationism.” Monkeys vs. flunkies.

Darrow, a member of the ACLU National Committee, argued against the fundamentalist, literal interpretation of The Bible endorsed by Bryan, who won the jury, but in real life died only a few days later. Many say Darrow plain wore him out and actually carried the day by favorably introducing the ACLU to millions of newspaper readers across the nation. They followed the trial on a daily basis thanks to extensive syndicated coverage by the legendary H. L. Menken of The Baltimore Sun, a character portrayed in the movie by Gene Kelly.

It seems to be a common belief in certain circles that the ACLU is nothing but a “liberal” group of folks. Not so fast.

Allies in litigation through the years have included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Rifle Association. The American Jewish Congress and the Ku Klux Klan. The Nation of Islam and Westboro Baptist Church.

The ACLU has risen to the defense of left-leaning advocates such as Dr. Benjamin Spock and Dick Gregory, but was equally energized and effective in providing critical legal assistance to staunch conservatives Henry Ford, Oliver North and Rush Limbaugh during troubled times.

Freedom of Speech is a core American value and a fundamental ACLU belief. The organization simply states: “It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something most people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive.”

 The Oakhurst Democratic Club is honored to present Katherine Pantangco of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California this Saturday, joining us for our May meeting at Denny’s on Highway 41. Breakfast will be served starting at 8:30 AM with our program beginning at 9:30. Ms. Pantangco will be addressing us on “Your ACLU in the Age of Trump” with plenty of time for questions.

As it says on their letterhead; “ACLU of Northern California: Freedom Can’t Protect Itself.”

 We need you.

 

“The 100 Daze”

April 23, 2017

Dazed

You are not alone. In fact, you are in the American majority by a 2 to 1 margin according to late breaking polls.

Dazed? Confused? Frustrated? Depressed? Can’t sleep?

Your tummy turns every time you see his boastful, bloating, blubbering body bulge across your TV screen?

Relax. You’re enduring “The 100 Daze” – a completely rational response to what has become a tragic travesty with this Saturday marking (marring) the completion of Donald J. Trump’s first 100 days in office.

Our Crybaby-in-Chief — tail firmly trailing between his legs — will observe the occasion by scurrying away from the annual White House Correspondence Dinner in Washington where they might make fun of him. He’ll be running off to Harrisburg for hastily assembled adoration from what handlers hope will be another throng of truculent Trumpoids eager to growl and grovel at their masters bone spurred feet. At least that’s what he says kept him out of Vietnam.

Matt Reed was in town last week, filling in for Representative Tom McClintock’s District Director, Rocky Deal, in a regularly scheduled constituent visit over at the Chamber of Commerce. Matt did a fine job, even describing with a perfectly straight face Tom’s reluctance to accept “climate change” as established science.

Annie from North Fork wasn’t having any of this, passionately presenting Matt with an extended explanation and personally handing him more than ample documentation proving her point. Matt accepted both with an appreciative smile, never attempting argument. Smart.

Joseph from Oakhurst annoyed a few folks by video recording the goings on, perhaps overlooking the fact that because something’s legal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cool. Matt didn’t seem to care. Smart.

Perhaps the most succinct commentary from those filling the room with almost exclusively anti-Trump attendees came from a gentleman who simply and courteously stated that it is now impossible to believe Trump would not be “going down” far before the end of a full four year term. He pointedly and firmly added that Republicans in Congress who failed to act responsibly in the face of such outrageous behavior and incontrovertible evidence of dangerous delusion would also “go down” – perhaps for no fault of their own other than timid complicity. This wasn’t lost on Mr. Reed. Smart.

Counting all the spectacular achievements as President constantly touted by Trump at every turn, I come up with one – Neil Gorsuch – the latest Supreme. That’s it. And that was really Mitch “Turtle Time” McConnell’s win. Most of Trump’s numerous “Executive Orders” (when he remembers to sign them) merely attempted to overturn what Barack Obama had thoughtfully put in place after many hours of thoughtful reflection. It can take a month to build a house, yet just a minute to bulldoze it down. I am not a fan of mindless negation – however convenient and time efficient.

Part of the curse of this“100 Daze” is a complete inability to provide any sort of cohesive summary as to exactly where we are right now. It’s like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics – an impossibility to precisely measure both the location and velocity of an object at the same instance – or even theorize same. Trump’s that wacky.

Meanwhile, our new Republican Attorney General, Jeff “Pee Wee” Sessions doesn’t seem to know Hawaii is a state, wants to wage war on weed, and stunned ABC’s “This Week” viewers Sunday morning by declaring without substantiation that the “Giant Border Wall” should not only be built, but be paid for by $4 billion dollars a year in excess tax payments that go to “mostly Mexicans.” Pee Wee was apparently referring to a six year old Treasury report that never mentioned Mexicans or any other nationality. Along with other horrors, it now seems the “Wall” would be an environmental disaster as well as a global embarrassment.

It was terrific seeing my old friend Alan Cheah back in print last week with his Guest Commentary — “On The Chopping Block.” I join Alan, the California Alliance for Retired Americans (”CARA”) and the Oakhurst for Peace group urging you to attend a special “Town Hall Meeting” from 2 till 4PM this coming Sunday at the Oakhurst Library.

I hope Conservatives, Liberals, Progressives (Liberals with Attitude) and all in between will join together in urging our government to keep “HANDS OFF OUR SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE AND MEDICAID!” Congress is proposing huge cuts and changes. Don’t stay home.

 

 

 

 

“Any Way The Wind Blows”

April 9, 2017

rolling-dice

War by impulse.

The newsman’s voice rang with startling alarm: “Trump shows the world he’s not afraid to attack without warning!”

Great.

So much for calming down frazzled foreign fears — especially our closest allies. We should excuse them if they take a few steps back.

It didn’t take long for things to settle down after last week’s fusillade of Tomahawk missiles worth thirty million bucks raining havoc (or at least sprinkling sparkle) on Syria’s Shayrat Air Force Base. This was supposed to be a message sent. It turned out to be more of an “Itchy-Kitchy-Koo” tickle than a serious kick in the assets of President Bashar al-Assad.

Operations pretty much returned to normal at the installation the following day with renewed attacks by Syrian and Russian jets on Khan Sheikhoun, the same poor little town that had earlier undergone poisonous chemical exposure, precipitating American intervention in the first place.

It’s all Exorcist level head spinning – round and round we go – and where we stop nobody knows – particularly Donald J. Trump.

A cheering cowboy chorus of clamorous congratulations has since given way to more somber reflection with the realization that once again our Philanderer-in-Chief has done exactly the opposite of what he promised countless times he wouldn’t do. No voice was louder than his in 2013 urging President Obama not to intervene with air power in Syrian affairs. That position was repeated throughout Trump’s shockingly successful run for the Presidency and echoed only days ago by Secretary of State Rex “Let’s Try That Again” Tillerson and his recommendation that any sort of regime change in Damascus be “left up to the Syrian people.”

I hope you’re sitting down for this. Ready?

Hooray for Tom McClintock!

Our Fourth District Representative has issued the following statement:

 “The Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons is an atrocity and a war crime, but it is not “a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces” as provided in the War Powers Resolution.  No matter how strongly we may feel about the actions of the Syrian government, the President had no legal or constitutional authority to order this attack without the consent of Congress.  This action crosses a bright line that separates the fundamental powers of our government and risks a constitutional crisis if continued.” 

 I could not be more in agreement. Let’s remember what happened almost four years ago.

President Obama had gone on record, however imprudently, suggesting that a “red line” for action would be any future use of chemical weapons by government forces in the Syrian conflict. Then in August of 2013 — a team of UN weapons inspectors confirmed that the nerve gas sarin had been unleashed on the Ghouta agricultural belt — killing more than 1,400 people with thousands more seriously injured.

In reviewing any number of unpleasant options, the President decided that choosing sides in a civil war of infinite complexity would be ill advised. Instead, he welcomed a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin that called on the Syrian government to destroy all remaining chemical weapons under its control. In fact, Putin offered a personal guarantee this would happen. Now look. Oh, Vlad. So sad.

Responding to continuing cries from some that this was a whimpy way to wiggle out of a call to action, President Obama then formally asked Congress to authorize full-fledged air strikes on Syria. “I am prepared to give that order”, said the President. “But – I am also mindful that I’m the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” In response, it was crickets on chloroform. The silence was deafening. No vote was ever proposed or taken in the House or Senate. The issue remains essentially unresolved. Barack Obama was correct at the time. Tom McClintock remains so now.

Many have commented on the blatant hypocrisy arising from President Trump’s expressed horror at having “little babies” die from chemicals, seemingly as long as they perish far from here. Under Trump’s temporarily court blocked Muslim travel ban, those same victims would remain unwelcome on our shores. But why should we enjoy the slightest measure of clarity and consistency on this issue when the White House has become a Tower of Babel with different voices offering varying positions on a variety of critical topics?

When will we ever learn?

Only Trump Tower is tall enough to reach heaven — with a moral code under random rule. What might be nice? Let’s roll the dice!

“Nothing really matters

Anyone can see.

Nothing really matters to me.”

Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)