“All That Rises”

September 27, 2016

swan_song_label

After forty eventful years in broadcasting and what we thought was an early retirement, Eileen and I moved to Youngstown, Ohio in 1998, right after we helped the Toledo Irish-American Club join with the Lucas County Ancient Order of Hibernians to bring in The Wolftones – Ireland’s biggest rebel group. It was wall to wall.

Youngstown is Flint, Michigan without the glamour.

As the car industry collapsed in Michigan, steel mills had already closed their gates in Youngstown, crushed by the forces of unrestrained, steadily increasing overseas competitors. Jobs had flown across the Pacific to the shores of Japan.

In Mahoning County, Youngstown pumps water from Meander Reservoir. Locally it’s often said that’s where old gangsters dumped their dead. While we were there, the water was a peculiar, dusky color and tasted like watermelon. City fathers swore it was algae.

There’s little consolation in consolidation. It was the beginning days of extensive corporate expansion. A broadcast outfit called Gocom Communications had purchased WKBN-TV, the big #1 CBS Television affiliate, and wanted to add five radio stations to Youngstown holdings. Their bank made a multi- million-dollar loan conditioned on my involvement as Vice President/General Manager to assemble and operate the radio group.

Necessitated by circumstance, I ran the five new properties acquired from separate former ownership through the end of the year, faithfully combining facilities, compressing logistics and sacrificing dozens of long time broadcast employees upon the altar of corporate efficiency. Thinning the herd. When I finally admitted to myself that I had become much more a Chief Executioner than Chief Executive, I left the radio business. Bob Dylan was right. Times were changing.

Youngstown was back in the news last week when Donald Trump’s Mahoning County campaign chair, Kathy Miller, announced there was no racism in America until Barack Obama was elected President. Elaborating on the subject, Ms. Miller proclaimed to the press, “If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your fault. You’ve had every opportunity. It was given to you.” Miller added, “You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages.” Miller also called the “Black Lives Matter” movement “a stupid waste of time” and said lower voter turnout among African Americans could be related to “the way they’re raised”.

Youngstown is a traditional Democratic stronghold. After decades of economic decline, it is now ground zero for disaffected white, working-class voters who are drawn to Donald Trump’s cynically hollow, utterly implausible promise to “bring back jobs.”

Before the primaries, some 6,000 Democrats in Youngstown switched party affiliation to Republican in order to vote for Trump, seeking remedy from a raging renegade and bitterly blaming all but themselves for sustained misfortune.

As well as chairing the Trump campaign in Youngstown, Kathy Miller was also an official Ohio elector to the Electoral College for Donald J. Trump. Backlash from Kathy’s comments has forced her resignation from both positions. Nonetheless, she represents a sad, resentful segment of our society willing to believe the brags and boasts of a bellicose bully offering fast facts, tough talk and easy answers.

In 1998 there was a wretched resonance in the air. I first saw it in Flint, then Toledo and finally Youngstown. It echoed in empty bars surrounding shuttered plants. It crowded into long lines at the unemployment office. It flashed and death danced in the eyes of abandoned factory workers resolutely pondering their unexpected fate and silently wondering without hopeful heart, “What happened to mine?” Often left unexplored was, “What can I do about it?” Personal initiative can be unfortunately uncommon.

In these troubled times so much farther down the road, perhaps Trump was inevitable. But beware. Highest reward can never be found in the lowest common denominator.

Democracy is not automatic, nor does success in any form arrive without adequate preparation, perseverance and patience. A stark reality not yet accepted by many is that yesterday’s jobs are not tomorrow’s answers. They are gone for good. Opportunities abound, but only for those willing to apply themselves and engage what lies ahead with determined dedication.

For every position eliminated by foreign competition, three are being lost to technology. This ratio is about to explode.

Whatever their occupation, workers need to begin learning how to add value that complements soft-powered automation. This is the future.

How to fairly and equitably distribute the product of such modern magic remains to be resolved. This is the new politics.

Upward motion can drive us all. And unite.

“All that rises must converge”. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1941)

 

“Fraidycat”

September 18, 2016

trump-speaks-to-supporters-shutterstock-800x430-1

You may have missed it.

In early September, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that Wells Fargo employees, facing pressure to meet unrealistic sales quotas, opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts for customers who never asked for them.

Almost immediately, the bank agreed to pay $185 million in fines for these illegal acts in attempting to defraud its customers. 5,300 employees in connection with the scandal were fired.

Their boss, 56 year-old Senior Vice President and Head of Community Banking, Carrie Tolstedt, has submitted her resignation. For diligent efforts on behalf of Wells Fargo, Ms. Tolstedt will receive a severance package totaling $125 million.

In announcing her separation from the company, Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer, John Stumpf, called Ms. Tolstedt, “a role model for responsible leadership” and “a standard bearer of our culture.”

Got that kids?

A role model.

Donald Trump has promised to do away with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as one of the first acts of his new administration.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau back when she was still a Professor at Harvard Law School in 2007. She thought it would be a good start in climbing out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Trump doesn’t like Senator Warren either. He calls her, “Pocahontas.”

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of this current election cycle is the stunning prioritizing of form over substance, packaging over contents, tripe over truth.

As the First Presidential Debate is scheduled for next Monday, let’s see if Donald Trump can go one on one with Hillary and deal with real issues without displaying his fraidycat essence.

“Fraidycat.” That’s the word (it’s even in Merriam-Webster) Michael Moore wrote me in November of 1998 describing Donald Trump’s persona when they appeared together on a New York TV show. Trump had to be assured by Michael that Moore wouldn’t “go after him,” threatening to leave the studio without that understanding established. Mike amiably complied. Donald calmed down.

We’ve seen a whole lot of that fraidycat recently.

Flint Pastor Faith Green Timmons backed Trump down last week in one swift move, cutting him off in front of her entire congregation with a single hand grab as Donald was reaching mid-bellow. He instantly looked like a whipped weasel, but was much braver the following day, being safely away and out of reach when he called Reverent Timmons, “a nervous mess” on Fox & Friends.

In visiting the Mexican President on August 31st, Trump choked and never mentioned “The Wall” or “Who will pay for it?” until later that same day securely across the border in Phoenix, when he also implied President Enrique Pena Nieto lied in stating the Trumpster had been functionally told, “No way, Jose!” in opening comments by Nieto about border building. Donald also took the occasion on home turf to unleash a xenophobic tirade before such Latino antagonists as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe “Make ‘Em Wear Pink” Arpaio, just found guilty of contempt of court by a U.S. District judge and awaiting criminal prosecution.

Then we witnessed Trump abruptly refusing questions after staging a phony press conference last Friday in Washington. That’s when he solemnly declared that Barack Obama WAS born in America. But he replaced one fib with another, declaring Hillary Clinton was the one who started the “Birther” movement in the first place. He then scurried from reporters like a frightened ferret. I’m almost out of rodent references.

You can count on it. When push comes to shove, Donald scoots.

But it’s time to forget all this election business for a while and settle down with a good book.

Here comes the third annual Authors Faire from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday – this year taking place at the Oakhurst Community Center. Come and meet the authors, purchase signed copies of books and learn about writing in today’s publishing industry. A number of local businesses have donated raffle prizes. Food will be available for lunch.

I’ll be on the scene peddling “Local DJ” – “A Rock & Roll History.”

“Of all who had a major influence on me while growing up in the Midwest, none matched the audaciousness, tenacity and gonzo-like behavior of Peter Cavanaugh. He was the one who taught me how to go up against the powers-that-be and live to tell all. Thank you, Peter Cavanaugh, for “Local DJ” and for saving a generation of Flint kids from the likes of Pat Boone” 

—- MICHAEL MOORE —

 

 

 

“Down The Stretch”

September 11, 2016

stretch

Never toss college words at kindergarten minds.

Last Friday night, Hillary Clinton told enthusiastic supporters at a Manhattan fundraiser, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

For those suffering from laggard learning, Hillary might better have replaced the phrase “grossly generalistic” with a more easily understood “overstating very badly”—this being a perfectly acceptable, Webster-approved substitution for reasonably sophisticated ears. But reason is rare in certain circles.

By early Saturday morning Trumpty-Dumpty was bellowing from his golden fortress in Trump Tower, “Wow, Hillary Clinton was so insulting to my supporters. I think it will cost her in the polls!”

So signaled, Vice Presidential candidate Mike “The Poodle” Pence then belligerently barked before Christian conservatives in Washington, “Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they are due your respect.” Assumingly, Poodle is including those torch bearing, pitchfork waving Neanderthals howling, “Lock her up!” at every perceived rally prompt. Yes, Neanderthals. Science says those recessive genes still reside in some. There was cross breeding 600,000 years ago. Check out your next Trump crowd. You can’t miss it.

Realizing her Friday phraseology had ignited a new volume of viper venom, Secretary Clinton qualified her comments Saturday, stating that use of the word “half” may have been a mathematical exaggeration, but it still remains certain that a large segment of Trump supporters include racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic viewpoints and that Trump’s new campaign CEO, Breitbart News executive Steven Bannon, is an individual that David Duke and other white supremacists openly honor as a champion of their values.

Now less than 8 weeks before Election Day on Tuesday, November 8th, we’re finally coming down the stretch. Many will be voting earlier by mail-in ballot. These will be sent to Madera County residents enjoying “Permanent Vote by Mail Status” in early October — approximately 29 days before the General Election.

The fact that the Trump campaign can take (or fake) exception to perceived “insults” from Hillary Clinton is as ludicrous as Dumpty’s run for the Presidency itself.

By way of brief review, in the last few days, he who questioned a Federal judge’s honesty due to Mexican ancestry, attacked Gold Star parents for daring to oppose him and labeled women “fat pigs”, “dogs” and “bimbos,” just added a few new spins in his degrading diatribes. Trump heaped more praise on the leadership of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, insisted anew that “nobody wants to see (his) tax returns” and suggested that in a Trump administration, Iranian boats would be “shot out of the water if they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to.” Full fire at a finger? This outburst alone should settle the “temperament” issue once and for all.

American media isn’t helping matters any in attempting to bolster ratings and readership by fostering an assumed equity between Trump and Clinton in a disturbing and mindless portrayal of false equivalency that is dangerously irresponsible and misleading.

Each time some new crazy actions or accusations spring forth by, for or against Trump, the press seems obliged to trot out a corresponding negative story leveled against Hillary Clinton to provide an appearance of “balance” and “equal treatment” in their reporting. Thus, we keep repeatedly hearing thoroughly refuted nonsense about “Benghazi”, “Emails” and “The Clinton Foundation” ad nausea (to where it makes you sick, Trumpies) – when that’s evidently all they can try to hang her with against a continuing torrent of troubling Trump trip-ups.

President Obama said it best last week during his press conference in Laos: “I think the most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what (Trump) says and ask questions about what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright bad ideas. Somehow behavior, that in normal times we would consider completely unacceptable and outrageous, is becoming normalized.”

 I hope you’ll be asking hard questions of “The Battling Bobs” next Monday, September 19th, as Dr. Bob Derlet and Robert Carabas join us for a “Meet the Candidates Pizza Party from 6 till 8 PM at the Pizza Factory in Oakhurst. Democratic Doctor Bob is seeking to replace Tom McClintock as our Fourth Congressional District Representative, while Bob Carabas wants to unseat Frank Bigelow in the State Assembly.

Come on out for the fun Monday at The Pizza Factory. If you elect the Battling Bobs, you WON’T want to toss ’em. They’re REALLY awesome!

“75”

September 3, 2016

can-stock-photo_csp7799053

September 8, 2016

On this date Bernie Sanders turns 75.

So do I.

O.K., Bernie, where do we go from here?

I’m not sure about you, but I never thought I’d get past 10.

Back in 1950 when you and I were 9, we Fourth Graders played “duck and cover” at least once a month, diving under school desks as sirens wailed — covering our eyes from that ever anticipated, permanently blinding flash of brilliant irradiated light accompanied by a searing wave of flesh scorching heat heralding the dreaded detonation of an enemy nuclear bomb.

Only five years had passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were blasted to kingdom come in the only two atomic explosions ever unleashed against our species, fate having chosen the Japanese people for this dubious distinction.

Doctor J. Robert Oppenheimer of UC Berkeley headed our government’s top secret “Manhattan Project,” a massive effort dedicated to designing an ultimate war weapon. The idea was to split atoms and unleash unimaginable energy generating thermonuclear heat of one hundred and fifty million degrees Fahrenheit, five times that of the sun’s fiery core. Witnessing the first successful test of his new “super bomb” on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert, Dr. Oppenheimer watched in awestruck terror, then gasped these words from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

 Oppenheimer felt enormous personal responsibility for bringing such exotic theoretical physics to deadly practical fruition. As Chairman of the General Advisory Committee of a newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission, he lobbied after the war for international control of nuclear power to avert dangerous proliferation and a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. For these “Un-American” sentiments, he was removed as Committee Chairman, suffered complete revocation of security clearances, and was stripped of any meaningful political influence for the rest of his public life.

These were the “Joe McCarthy years” when the wild ravings of a drunken Wisconsin Senator took precedence over common sense and secured safety. There were “Commies” in the State Department, “Reds” way across town and “Pinkos” right up your block. Joe said he had solid names. He had only shameful notions. Edward R. Murrow nailed McCarthy coast to coast on CBS. Murrow’s closing words on the program come down to us through the years, perhaps particularly resonant today in the light of the seemingly inexplicable Trump phenomenon.

“The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

 On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67–22, making him one of few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. McCarthy died of alcoholism on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48.

So here we are, Bernie.

75!

As your “birth brother” — you’ve made me proud.

You’ve awakened, enlightened and energized a whole new generation of dedicated young Americans, driven not by false memories of imagined yesterdays, but by the promising possibility of truer tomorrows.

Being a hero of our youth at 75 is no small achievement, Bernie.

I’m a hero to my cat, but only after a half can of “Puss ‘n Boots” and a healthy helping of Temptations “Savory Salmon” Classic Kitty Treats.

For purposes of full honest disclosure, Bernie, I should herein confess that I am actually a bit younger than you, having been delivered seven weeks prematurely by C-section. I spent my first two months outside the womb enclosed within the warm, comforting confines of a climate controlled hospital incubator, thus not having been born so much as hatched. Chirp. Chirp.

Thank you for resisting what must have been a powerful urge to launch a third party bid this election cycle despite enormous pressure to do so from highly inspired, hard fighting, true believing supporters. Yielding to this temptation might have split the Democratic Party in half and all but assured the election of Donald J. Trump.

You have saved us from collective catastrophe, international condemnation and universal scorn. And made more unlikely a sudden, blinding flash of brilliant white light.

“Collapse”

August 28, 2016

 

Trump-sick-701x390

This time it’s different.

Labor Day Weekend is straight ahead – a marker normally signaling the true start of an American Presidential campaign when typical citizens take a few minutes to actually notice their immediate environment.

This year it’s already over. Done. Finished. Gone.

Even as his national polling averages started their death spiral in late July, Donald Trump now calls Hillary Clinton a flat out “bigot” and predicts he will get 95% of the African American vote when he runs for reelection in 2020. And maybe deportation squads won’t boot out all 11.5 million “illegal immigrants” on Inauguration Day after all. Or possibly so. He’ll decide that when he needs to. Maybe. Could be.

Donald Trump has become a “Chuck Berry Existentialist.”

“Sometimes I will and again sometimes I won’t.

Sometimes I do and again sometimes I don’t.”

“Reelin’ & Rockin’” – Chuck Berry (1957)

Trump is understandably convinced by their addled adulation that his core supporters will endorse anything he does, says or thinks – everything he dreams, schemes or screams. This would appear tragically true.

After saying “You’re fired!” to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on June 20th, Trumpty-Dumpty just repeated the same thing to Paul Manafort on August 19th, then immediately appointed Steve Bannon as his new “Campaign Chief Executive Officer” – a title which has never existed before in the history of any party.

Bannon’s been running Breitbart, an extreme right-wing news and opinion website. A former Breitbart employee and mainstream conservative favorite, Ben Shapiro, has gone on record stating “Bannon is a nasty, vindictive figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies.”

Continuing his latest impetuous shakeup, Trump simultaneously appointed smiling, beguiling spin mistress Kellyanne Conway as his “Campaign Manager”. In admiration of Ms. Conway’s abilities to circumvent facts and cleverly cloud issues, legendary reporter Dan Rather told MSNBC: “This woman can talk the legs off a table.”

Even so, Ms. Conway found herself in a difficult position last Sunday when Chris Wallace asked her on FOX News whether Trump had acted properly in response to the horrid shooting death in Chicago of Nykea Aldridge, a mother of four and cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade. Learning of the travesty, Trump hastily tweeted: “Just what I’ve been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” Avoiding direct response, Kellyanne suggested we should all remember Trump did add his condolences in a new tweet a full four hours later.

And how will Campaign Manager Conway get along with CEO Bannon? Said Kelly to Chris: “Donald Trump chose me to run his campaign. I report directly to him.”

Oh.

I still hold out hope that our Fourth District Congressional Representative, Tom McClintock, will finally ditch Donald. It seems Tom’s apparent certainty over gaining an easy fifth term in Congress running as a Republican in this crimson red district overshadows any need to be noble in the classic and classy sense of this word – i.e., “Having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.”

There is a determined David running against McClintock’s grinning Goliath.

Dr. Robert Derlet grew up in a working class Los Angeles neighborhood, selling newspapers to traffic at Santa Monica & Vine in Hollywood when he was eight. School and summer work continued through college with Bob handling jobs ranging from construction to cattle ranching and working in a merchant ship boiler room. He can handle the heat.

He eventually graduated with highest honors from John Marshall High School and the University of California in Santa Cruz, being the first in his family to attend a four-year college. After completing medical studies, Dr. Derlet spent his career as a Professor and Chief of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, serving two terms as Chief of Staff.

Contemplating retirement and wanting to live year-round near the Sierra Nevada, Dr. Derlet moved to Twain Harte five years ago and became a front-line primary care physician at a Rural Health Clinic in Tuolumne City. Listening to the struggles of patients trying to navigate a complex health care system while staying economically afloat galvanized him to run for Congress as our Democratic candidate in the Fourth District.

Dr. Derlet will be speaking this Saturday in a special Labor Day Weekend Meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club at Denny’s on Highway 41 with breakfast at 8:30 and our program at 9:30.

Along with Bob Derlet will be another Bob – Robert Carabas – running for the Fifth California District Assembly seat currently occupied by Frank Bigelow.

Carabas, a graduate of UC Berkley with a degree in English, is the father of two and grandfather of five. A retired corporate credit manager from Sonora, this Bob’s particular area of concern is Global Warming.

See you Saturday!

“Expression Suppression”

August 21, 2016

Hillary Prison

Hillary Sign -- Back

Frances Hagen is an 84 year-old former schoolteacher and Gold Star Parent who lost a son in Viet Nam. Mrs. Hagen lives near the top of 425A (Stagecoach Road) in Oakhurst, where she has resided for more than forty years.

Frances’ father, legendary baseball great Bob “Dusty” Rhoads, threw a no-hitter pitching for Cleveland against the Boston Red Sox on September 18, 1908, becoming the first in team history to do so.

Her son, Eric Hagen, is Principal of Glacier High School and Mountain Home School Charter here in Oakhurst.

Mrs. Hagen has been active in our community for many decades and was a founding member of the Oakhurst Democratic Club.

She placed a “Hillary for President” sign at her driveway entrance last week. A few days later — hidden by the dark of night — in a cowardly effort to frighten and intimidate Frances — the sign was alarmingly defaced with the word “Prison” substituted for “President” on the front and filled with vile hate language on the reverse.

It was a message addressed to the “Nigga” who was so uppity as to have placed the sign — implying increased reprisals from the “Trump Gang” might be forthcoming for any future efforts expended in support of Secretary Clinton.

Thankfully, Mrs. Hagen’s life is filled with nearby friends who have made no secret of expressing their absolute disgust at this violation of property and propriety.

A neighborhood watch group on Facebook (“425A – Stagecoach Road”) has been unanimous in expressing their strong support for Frances and in vigorously condemning the incident with such observations as “To turn on each other is the last thing we need to do”, “I am not for Hillary, but I would never allow anyone to do that” and “Although I’m on the other side, one does need to respect the view of others.”

Upon being informed of the vandalism, Sheriff Jay Varney immediately initiated appropriate action and launched a formal investigation. Similarly, District Attorney David Linn personally called Mrs. Hagen to assure her that his office would do all it could in addressing the situation and protecting her against any further concerns of a threatening nature. These days you don’t mess with a Gold Star Mom in Madera County.

Mrs. Hagen’s disappointing discovery presents new evidence that this particular election cycle has reached a level of contentiousness previously unknown, extending even up here into the Sierra foothills.

In 2008 and 2012, Mrs. Hagen’s pro-Obama/Biden signage was left completely untouched when placed in exactly that same spot at the side of the road. This local escalation of angry, ugly, thuggish behavior has assuredly been directly generated by Donald Trump’s unprecedented plunge into his poisonous pursuit of the presidency.

Last week I offered our visiting Fourth District Congressional Representative Tom McClintock several promising alternatives to replace his unfortunate endorsement of the current, doomed-to-fail Republican candidate. I did this both in print and in person. Alas, I was scorned, although civilly so. During his Town Hall Meeting in North Fork, Tom passed on an opportunity to courageously scrape Donald Trump from the bottom of his boot. He then publicly called me a “Mother.”

Although mightily tempted to end my North Fork testimony right there and move on, fairness and decorum demand an explanation.

After earlier dismissing my brilliant suggestion to support Libertarian Gary Johnson and his efforts to reach a 15% polling average and consequential admission to the forthcoming “Great Debates” featuring Donald (in the huge orange trunks) and Hillary (in the true blue pantsuit), McClintock asked those attending if anyone knew what the “Mother Rule” might be. This was something to be invoked if “Mother baked a pie and her two sons had to decide how to divide it between them.” “Yes!” I gleefully exclaimed from my front row seat. “One cuts, the other chooses!” “That’s right!” said Tom, adding, “Thank you” — (pause for comedic effect) – Mother!”

Everyone laughed, including me. He really did that well. Touché!

It was a lovely, light-hearted moment in an otherwise sullen, somber election season.

Now if we can just punch up local business for the rest of the summer with one of those uniquely new, tourist attracting, excitingly different “Naked Donald” statues in the parking lot at Von’s.

They’re made of foam.

From right out of his mouth.

 

CqJsQHhXEAEHKJq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dear Tom”

August 16, 2016

428px-Tom_McClintock

The following is an open letter to our 4th Congressional District Representative Tom McClintock. Congressman McClintock has two area appearances scheduled today — a restricted private meeting at 2:30 here in Oakhurst for Chamber of Commerce members only and a Town Hall meeting at 5 PM in North Fork to which the general public is invited.

August 18, 2016

Dear Tom,

Welcome back!

I haven’t written much about you lately. We are clearly polar opposites on virtually every national issue, although I remain pleased with your decision three years ago to support President Obama’s determination not to launch air strikes against Syria. I also congratulated you for resigning from the House Freedom Caucus last September and refusing to go along with its plans to shut down the Federal government over Planned Parenthood funding, even though you remain steadfast in your opposition to abortion. That was a bold, courageous, principled move.

I am asking that you use your visit today to make another one.

You are regarded by most professional observers of such things as being the most conservative member of the United States House of Representatives. Here in the Fourth District you are assured of safe re-election to a fifth term as our voice in Congress.

He is a clear and present danger. He is neither believed nor admired by Republican icons across the land. He is a babbling buffoon and a narcissistic fool. Please use your visit with us today to disavow Donald Trump.

I’m certainly not asking you to support Hillary, but I suggest there are two promising candidates who would each seem to offer an attractive option for your consideration.

Gary Johnson served two successful terms as Governor of New Mexico and is the Libertarian Party’s 2016 nominee for President. His running mate, Bill Weld, enjoyed the unique distinction of being elected Governor of Massachusetts, one of the nation’s strongest Democratic strongholds, then being re-elected in 1994 by the largest winning margin in state history. Mr. Johnson has recently been moving up in polling, currently averaging eight percentage points nationally and climbing into double digits in several states. As you know, this is of critical importance, Tom, since reaching 15 points will allow Gary to take part in the coming Presidential debates and place him in front of an audience in the tens of millions. Your valuable support might mean all the difference.

Although less well known and a more unlikely choice, Evan McMullin of Utah has seriously entered the race. McMullin is a graduate of Brigham Young University, later earning a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Serving with distinction in the Central Intelligence Agency for ten years in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, McMullin joined the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs in 2011 where he gained substantial experience in the areas of technology, energy, consumer goods and biotech research.

Announcing his candidacy only last week in the face of Trump’s disastrous decline in popularity and severe threat to Republican candidates across the board, McMullin states, “In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up. It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

 Congressman McClintock, having heard you speak over a half dozen times and following your Congressional career with keen focus through the years, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump must be providing you at this point with both agonizing professional disappointment and deep personal disgust.

Given your widely acknowledged stature among fellow Republican conservatives and esteemed national reputation, you can make a move this very day here in Eastern Madera County that will ring around the world – presenting a new “Profile in Courage” in the finest traditions of both Ronald Reagan and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Save us from the beast.

Denounce “The Donald.”

 It’s never too late to do the right thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“President Poodle?”

August 7, 2016

Poodle

With Donald Trump’s poll performance suddenly plummeting in gallows drop free fall, should Mike “The Poodle” Pence start preparing for the Presidency?

It’s no secret Trump’s recent stumbles following a wildly acclaimed Democratic Convention have Republicans scrambling for an alternative option, however exotically conceived.

This might include resorting to curious language in the official party rules which state that “The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which might occur by reason of death, declination or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States.“ Many suggest that “otherwise” is a weasel word intentionally inserted to cover unexpected contingencies that might arise during a campaign – in this case Trump’s ever more glaringly obvious unsuitability for office.

One scenario would see V.P. hopeful Mike Pence romp up to the top spot and have Poodle select his own running mate.

Acclaimed statistician Nate Silver projects that if the election was held today, Hillary Clinton now enjoys a staggering a 92.9% chance of becoming our 45th President vs. Trump’s 7.1%. Moreover, this represents an historic 50-point swing in just ten days for Silver’s “Now-cast” projection. On July 27th, Donald led Hillary 55.4% to 44.6%.

Swing states such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, Ohio and Michigan are suddenly surging toward Secretary Clinton. Even Arizona, Georgia and Florida show significant motion in her favor.

We seem to be witnessing a cosmic convergence of historic proportion as a mountain of evidence piles up against Trump’s molehill mind.

Gold Star parents punished, a baby banished, Putin praised, Ryan rejected, an imaginary tarmac tale, a pathological inability to leave well enough alone – all of these things transpiring in less than a single week’s time. Mind-boggling? It’s Lucy and Ethel dipping those chocolates at Kramer’s Kandy Kitchen. You just can’t keep up.

And here’s a new one for you – possibly a Sierra Star exclusive.

Drawing upon my years in Rock & Roll Radio, did you know that Donald Trump’s official new campaign song – the one with which he closed his speech at the Convention and has been using ever since – is about picking up a hooker?

“All Right Now” by the English rock band “Free” (1970)

“There she stood in the street
Smiling from her head to her feet
I said “Hey, what is this?”
Now maybe she’s in need of a kiss”

 There’s a lot more. It gets even better. Go to Google.

Donald Trump was 24 years old in 1970, avoiding military service in Viet Nam with his fifth draft deferment. Melania was born that same year on April 26th.

Hillary Clinton was 23 in 1970 – in her first semester at Harvard Law School. She had obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree the prior year from Wellesley College where she received a standing ovation lasting seven minutes for her commencement address. This was covered by Life magazine. She then spent that summer working her way across Alaska, washing dishes in Mount McKinley National Park and sliming salmon at a fish-processing cannery in Valdez. The factory was shut down overnight after she complained about unhealthful conditions. Hillary was fired. And she’s often being treated unfairly to this day.

After Mrs. Clinton courageously faced a live, no holds barred interview with Chris Wallace on – of all places — FOX TV, the Washington Post unkindly presented her the following day with four “Pinnochios” – its highest score for flat-out fibbing. This judgment garnered immediate media coverage across the land — generally unquestioned by the press as though divinely documented.

I herein award the Washington Post with eight Pinocchios, ten Jiminy Crickets and a giant J. Worthington Foulfellow the size of Donald Trump’s ego – all of which being granted for headline grabbing gratuitous malfeasance.

Come on.

The FBI verifies the fact that of the more than 30,000 emails reviewed during more than a full year of investigation, only 110 were finally judged by others after the fact as containing classified material, although not one was ever labeled as such on Hillary’s watch. This evidently bears emphatic repeating: Not one was ever labeled as such.

FBI Director James Comey specifically stated: “We did not find evidence sufficient to establish that she knew she was sending classified information.”

Comey went on record affirming that classified information was sent.

At the same time it’s been irrefutably established quite possible — if not highly probable — that Secretary Clinton truthfully didn’t know it at the time.

These are not mutually exclusive concepts other than to those irretrievably lost in the haze and horror of tragic self-delusion.

 Such as Donald Trump and his poodle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“God and Politics”

July 31, 2016

Fiala

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca – 62 A.D.

During his five-day visit to Poland last week, Pope Francis encouraged hundreds of thousands of young people gathered for World Youth Day to ignore computer screens and video games in favor of social activism and political interaction.

Both of our Republican and Democratic Conventions here in America prominently included mentions of Hillary Clinton’s Methodist upbringing, Tim Kaine’s Jesuit education, Mike Pence’s lifetime embrace of fundamentalist Christian values and Donald Trump’s unbelievably huge, bigger than anything you could ever imagine religious beliefs — the ones that everybody’s talking about.

Alleged divine initiation and encouragement of all parties involved in virtually every war in the history of our species is a matter of established record. God, by any name or concept, always seems to be on both the winning and losing sides of every fight. Our “Battle Hymn of the Republic” mentions Christ by name, even as Hitler’s Germany was a Christian nation of over sixty million souls, although Adolf was never called a “Radical Christian Terrorist.”

Christianity remains by far the world’s largest religion with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31%) of all 6.9 billion people on the planet. Islam is second with 1.6 billion believers or 23% of the global population. Hinduism places third with a billion members (15%) and Buddhists come in fourth with a half-billion practitioners representing 7.1% of worshipers. Meanwhile, 1.1 billion “Non-Affiliated” folks (16.4% of earthlings) aren’t on board with anything traditional. This grouping includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion. By 2050, demographers predict that Christianity and Islam will tie for first place with a total of six billion practitioners – around three billion each.

It seems embarrassingly clichéd, if not childishly simple to suggest that we all need to get along together, but anyone who denies the absolute, immediate, critical urgency of such a notion is nothing more than a dangerous fool.

With all this in mind as our contentious election cycle spins toward incomprehensible chaos, this seems a perfect time for serious reflection.

Dr. Andrew Fiala, Ph.D. is Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Ethics Center at Fresno State University. Professor Fiala is well known to area readers for his excellent “On Ethics” column that appears every Saturday in the “Insight” section of our sister newspaper, The Fresno Bee.

Dr. Fiala has degrees from UCLA and Vanderbilt University and is the author or editor of a dozen books. He has published more than 50 scholarly articles and has written hundreds of op-ed essays. His scholarly research focuses on war and peace, politics, religion, and ethics.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the Oakhurst Democratic Club and moderator of our monthly meetings, I contacted Andy a while back and asked him if he would consider being a special guest speaker as we ended our summer hiatus in August – after the national conventions of both major parties concluded and things were really starting to heat up.

Dr. Fiala stated that he would be delighted to do so, but wondered what he should talk about. Flashing back on many challenging hours of Philosophy and Theology courses with those ‘Take No Prisoner” Jesuits at Le Moyne in Syracuse, I instantly suggested he speak on ”God and Politics.” Andy enthusiastically replied, “I’ll be glad to!” And he will.

I hope you’ll join us this Saturday for our August 6th Meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club at Denny’s on Highway 41. As usual, breakfast is served at 8:30 AM and our program with Dr. Fiala will begin at 9:30. He’ll speak for around a half-hour, then we’ll have plenty of time left for questions and discussion. Bring cool friends. It doesn’t cost anything. The general public is always invited, meaning you don’t have to be a Democrat to attend, but if you are and wish to join the club, please consider this a personal invitation.

Make yourself matter.

Get in the game.

November 8th is less than a hundred days away.

This one’s for keeps.

 

 

 

 

 

“Death Wish”

July 24, 2016

Beatles-press-conference-82764

 Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes was one of the WSAI-AM DJs in 1964 who invited the Beatles to play at Cincinnati Gardens that year. This large photo from a press conference hangs in his conference room in the county administration building. Dusty Rhodes is top row second from right with the pipe, with the Beatles seated, from left, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney.

William Emerson “Dusty” Rhodes is one of my oldest and dearest friends.

We bitterly fought for audience as teenage DJ’s on competing radio stations in Syracuse while still in high school back in the late ‘50’s, but I was Dusty’s best man when he married Jo Anne after heading west and becoming Cincinnati’s top-rated air personality in 1962.

While remaining active in broadcasting through the years on a more limited basis, Dusty went on to enjoy great success as a Paine Webber stockbroker, simultaneously becoming involved in local politics. First elected as a Trustee in Delhi Township, Ohio; Dusty is now in his seventh term as Hamilton County Auditor, having held this office for the last 26 years. Hamilton County, with a population exceeding 800,000, includes the city of Cincinnati. For quite some time, Dusty was the only Democrat holding major office in County government.

Dusty Rhodes loves Donald Trump.

He called me Friday afternoon and right off the bat asked me what I thought of the Republican Convention. This is called “baiting” – which Webster defines as “to tease or goad so as to provoke a strong reaction”.

 Surely knowing better, I jumped like Pavlov’s dog and went for it. Initially exploding into an emotionally charged diatribe furiously filled with indisputable facts and undeniable figures, it soon became evident I was raging in vain.

Dusty, a graduate of the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and one of the brightest folks I know, doesn’t care if Donald Trump builds a wall, water boards prisoners, makes fun of cripples, demeans women or strangles tiny starving orphans with rusty barbed wire. I made that last one up, but should have thought of it at the time. Darn.

Dusty Rhodes wants Donald Trump elected because he wants “a change” since “nothing is working.” And Dusty hates Hillary.

I suggested that supporting Donald Trump requires complete dismissal of certain glaring realities and overt suspension of any pretense of fair judgment, but decided not to add that it also might be viewed as an act of moral abrogation bordering intellectual cowardice. Friends don’t talk that way, overheated rhetoric being reserved for bar room rants, back room brawls and newspaper columns.

I remain firmly convinced that Donald J. Trump is an oozing, open, festering sore on our American body politic. Yet many well-intended, otherwise responsible citizens seem to see him as a simple solution — if not sole savior as he so humbly self declares. As witnessed by Dusty’s mystifying allegiance, it has become uncomfortably evident they are deadly serious – mortally and terminally committed to see President Trump take office in January. I am therefore forced to speculate such folly represents nothing less than a classic death wish.

In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the demon of death. Sigmund Freud chose to use that word in defining the death drive – a powerful instinct toward chaos – ever lurking in our psychoanalytic nature.

According to Freud, we all basically have two life instincts; “Eros”, which drives us to thrive and survive, and “Thanatos”, which often causes us to engage in risky, self-destructive acts. It is theorized by some that this subconscious yearning for death masks a desire to return to our original, inorganic state, but we’ll leave such speculation to greater minds.

One primary quality commonly associated with a serious reflection on destructive behavior makes perfect sense in trying to figure out what’s happening with Trump. Simply stated, let’s consider the phenomenon of stress relief. Just letting go. The Rolling Stones might call it, “Some kind of ventilator.” In fact they have. Often we just can’t help ourselves.

Smoking. Racing. Cutting. Skydiving. Speeding. Fighting. Fasting. Overworking. Defiant drinking. Dirty dancing. Dangerous dating.

All bring temporary satisfaction offering genuine emotional release and a sense of immediate personal control as phony and fake as the empty promises of Donald J. Trump.

Even another old friend, Film Director Michael Moore, has come to believe that Trump will be our next President. Mike states with typical restraint – “This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president.”

 Among other reasons, Mr. Moore cites “The Jesse Effect” — observing that the people of Minnesota once elected a professional wrestler as governor –“ just because they could” and “voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system.”

I know this all sounds crazy. We’re living in crazy times. If you don’t feel crazy – you’re crazy. I’m crazy too.

Crazy loves company.

But don’t vote for Trump.

“It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap” – Bruce Springsteen — “Born to Run” –1975