“Collapse”

August 28, 2016

trump

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Of Mice and Men”

July 17, 2016

M&M

 “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain (1893)

Most of my rowdy friends at local watering holes catering to the common man still call Hillary Clinton a liar. When pressed for specifics, they cry, “Benghazi!” After I amiably observe that I watched all 11 ½ hours of Hillary’s testimony under oath before the Republican led House Select Committee last October and they never caught her in a lie, my drinking buddies jump to “Emails!” as evidence of Secretary Clinton’s proven untrustworthiness. That’s when I quote those fundamentally undeniable, FBI certified, painstakingly established official numbers.

Of the more than 30,000 emails reviewed during more than a full year of investigation, only 110 were finally judged as containing classified material, although not one was ever labeled as such. There were 3 with tiny “markings” which might indicate confidentiality to the sophisticated reader, but it turns out even these were incorrectly placed.

Then I cordially mention in my loud radio voice from the end of the bar it has been established by FBI Director James Comey that Hillary never lied to the Bureau when interviewed for 3 ½ hours and Director James Comey also specifically stated: “We did not find evidence sufficient to establish that she knew she was sending classified information.”

 In conclusion I point out to my collective companions this means any charges Mrs. Clinton was not telling the truth when she said she wasn’t lying – are lies. By then they are sick and tired of hearing me talk.

I suggest a beer and a shot will shut me up. This works like a charm. I return the favor — then off we go – launching into more important matters such as following football, trimming trucks and gunning for gophers.

Hillary Clinton still has plenty of time left before the election for image improvement. An immediate challenge is dispelling those curious words “extremely careless” with which she was labeled by Director Comey just before he got around to finally saying in summary that she wouldn’t be charged with anything after all. This has provided Donald “Nothing But The Truth” Trump and his new running mate, Mike “The Poodle” Pence with valuable campaign ammo.

Having poured over everything Director Comey said in his surprise initial announcement on July 5th and subsequently repeated at length for almost five hours of sworn testimony two days later in another hastily conveyed “Let’s Hang Hillary” hearing, I can find nothing in Comey’s words to understand such a judgment except – Comey himself.

James Comey is the straightest man I’ve ever seen on national TV – the ultimate Boy Scout — as tight as a mouse’s rear stretched over a barrel. He is extraordinarily conscientious, perhaps even perilously proper to extremes. When he scratches an itch, he thinks it’s sex.

Director Comey allows that the “extreme” carelessness he observed during his investigation was not limited to the State Department under Hillary Clinton, but endemic to the institution long before she arrived. This now seems all but forgotten by pundits in the press

Knowing full well that his decision would be greeted with ridicule and derision by about to be former Republican friends, I suspect the Director wistfully hoped placing a pejorative adjective such as “extremely” before the word “careless” might offer a slight measure of embarrassingly apologetic consolation for his inevitable determination. And it has.

Trumpublicans have jumped on “extremely careless” with pit bull tenacity, growling and scowling with typically feigned ferocity. They are ignoring in the process a majority observation by clear national consensus that their new leader is emotionally immature –demonstrably unstable – and clinically nuts.

This week’s events have born that out.

The Democratic Party convenes next Monday in Philadelphia.

Kindly compare.

 

 

 

 

 

“Doofus Days”

July 10, 2016

Doofus.JPEG-04a27_c0-0-2512-1464_s885x516

Doofus: (doo’·fus) [do͞ofəs]) – (1) Stupid and incompetent (2) a foolish person who doesn’t have a clue (3) Utah Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

It was Representative Doofus who insisted last week that Congress provide the FBI with a referral request to investigate whether Hillary Clinton lied under oath about her handling of classified information. This would have been when the Secretary testified before Congress for 11 ½ hours back in October during the ill-conceived, thoroughly unproductive Benghazi Hearings that completely exonerated Clinton of alleged misbehavior — as did six other formal investigations on the same subject.

Chaffetz gleefully announced with a happy little laugh his firm intention to keep Hillary-hate alive in Congress as FBI Director James Comey dramatically testified for almost five hours before an “Emergency Hearing” of the Republican dominated Oversight Committee last Thursday. This gathering was hastily called into session by Doofus in a panicked response to Director Comey’s historic decision two days earlier that he not recommend any criminal charges be filed against Mrs. Clinton nor any of her aides in connection with their use of unauthorized Internet servers while working at the State Department.

In 2003 Representative Chaffetz had applied for a position with The Secret Service, an organization he now oversees. He was rejected. At the time the agency told him it was considering “better applicants.”

But here’s the official bottom line on Hillary Clinton after more than a full year of FBI investigation:

*  There is no evidence that Secretary Clinton, her staff or attorneys intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.

* Hillary Clinton was truthful in all of her testimony provided to the Bureau under formal questioning.

* Of over 30,000 emails studied, only 110 were determined to contain information considered “classified.”

* Of these, none were actually labeled “Classified” and only three contained small “c” markings suggesting classification. That’s 3 out of more than 30,000.

* Director Comey, a long time Republican of unquestioned  integrity, went on record under oath saying he was unsure whether Mrs. Clinton had the technical sophistication to know what the tiny “c” markings buried somewhere in the material might mean. The Director plainly stated, “I think it’s possible she didn’t understand what a “c” meant when she saw it in the body of an email like that.”

* Of these remaining three emails, it now appears they were incorrectly coded in the first place and were never supposed to be considered classified.

* There was no “double standard” used by Director Comey in his recommendation that criminal prosecution was unwarranted – a determination unanimously supported by all of the agents and authorities involved in the investigation.

* The FBI could find no direct evidence of an intrusion into Clinton’s server by hostile foreign governments.

Representative Chaffetz is not alone displaying Doofus characteristics. Another would appear to be none other than Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) who has formally asked Director of National intelligence James Clapper to deny Secretary Clinton access to classified information during the presidential campaign – an accommodation extended to major party candidates dating back to the Truman Administration.

In a letter to Clapper, Ryan wrote, “There is no legal requirement to provide Secretary Clinton with classified information. I firmly believe this is necessary to reassure the public that our nation’s secrets are secure.”

 It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this gratuitously pretentious, outrageously insulting statement from Ryan is accompanied by his newly discovered, awkwardly fawning embrace of the presumptive Republican nominee – a 180-degree turn of heart ordered at the highest levels of party control. This signals a Trump takeover. A fait accompli. The crazies appear to have won.

Get ready for some fun viewing – assuming one entertains an abnormal preoccupation with fiery car crashes, violent train wrecks or obsessively binge watching lost episodes of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

The opening gavel of the 2016 Republican National Convention will pound to disorder this coming Monday, July 18th. Things will ricochet right along until a probable closing with Donald Trump crowned as candidate next Thursday the 21st — another dark date that may thereafter, in the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “live in infamy.”

The universe watches as our nation goes mad.

 

 

 

 

 

“Time Machines”

July 6, 2016

time_machine

It’s the end of the first week in the year’s second half and it’s 2016’s third month beginning with a “J.”

There won’t be a fourth.

Summer offers a perfect time for random thoughts of minimal consequence – an opportunity to temporarily abandon elaborately detailed explorations of national trajectory or brilliantly structured insights into a myriad of topics otherwise remaining alarmingly mysterious and dangerously opaque.

And get away from all those big words.

Let’s take a break, leaving polarizing politics alone for a week.

There’ll be time enough for that when the conventions commence, starting in Cleveland on July 18th with Philadelphia in the spotlight seven days later.

How lucky we are to live where we do.

When visitors arrive, we get to take them places habitually reserved for special occasions, accessing an amazing environment easily available, yet enjoyed all too infrequently. Such was the case last week when daughter Colleen and granddaughter Riley arrived from Cincinnati, providing a perfect excuse to cut loose.

I love that time machine only a town away.

The Mariposa Museum and History Center was founded in 1957 and is dedicated to the discovery, collection, preservation, interpretation, exhibition and demonstration of material culture, visual objects and documents that best illustrate the history of Mariposa County. That’s what their website says. They deliver the goods.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington has gone on record stating that Mariposa offers “The best little Museum of its size west of the Mississippi.” It’s open year round from 10 till 4.

Walking through elaborately cataloged displays sweeps you back in time from the Native American and Spanish periods of the county through the early 1900s. Inside exhibits include an extensive Miwok Indian section; an interior miner’s cabin, a one-room schoolhouse and furnishings belonging to the West’s most famous explorer, Mariposa’s own John L. Freemont. There’s also an authentic Mother Lode saloon with extra big shot glasses for mountain men of righteous thirst.

Outside you’ll see the only operational 5-stamp gold ore mill in California and a fully functional Blacksmith Shop along with other significant pieces of mining equipment.

Loving volunteers eager to share their impressive knowledge of local lore staff the museum.

There was an authentic player piano offering pre-programmed music recorded on perforated paper by ghostly, unseen hands. It was “Roll Out The Barrel” and who should be doing the rolling and operating the unit during our tour than the very much alive Ron Loya, President of the Museum’s Board of Directors.

Ron honored Eileen, Colleen, Riley and me with a quick peek inside “the vault” – a large, private research area, heavily secured with tight atmospheric controls to preserve yet more amazing archeology and artifacts. It was all quite cool, both environmentally and emotionally.

Shortly thereafter serendipity struck again at another time machine — this one at the Yosemite Museum in the village, completed in 1925 by architect Herbert Maier in the newly emerging National Park Service Rustic Style.

As visitors enter the foyer, a geology room occupies the first space to the right. From there, a U-shaped path leads through to natural history exhibits, a life zone room and an Indian room. As we arrived at this last, it wasn’t WHAT was there that proved to highlight Colleen and Riley’s stay, but WHO was there.

National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson has worked in Yosemite for 23 years of his 29-year career. Ranger Johnson appeared in Ken Burns award winning documentary film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” and was subsequently acclaimed as an “unexpected star” of the mini-series. Attending a preview at the White House on September 27, 2009, Johnson discussed the project with President Obama, a conversation he had an opportunity to renew during the President’s recent visit to Yosemite.

We entered the Indian Room to the soft, gentle sounds of an authentic Indian flute, expertly played by a superbly talented individual sitting unassumingly alone as though he was merely a casual part of the general background. Ranger Johnson was then kind enough to engage us in a wide-ranging conversation covering countless subjects, evidencing an awesomely knowledgeable, highly entertaining, thoroughly engaging representative of the National Park Service. Anyone who believes government can’t work hasn’t met Shelton Johnson.

Here in Oakhurst we are blessed and surrounded by many other time machines in our immediate proximity, such as the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa and smaller installations such as the Coarsegold Historic Society Museum on Highway 41, the Raymond Museum and Historic Town Site and the Sierra Mono Museum in North Fork.

Make the present more pleasant with a prolonged pause in the past.

It waits with awesome wonder.

 

 

“Independence Day”

June 26, 2016

534163756-vote-to-leave-campaigner-holds-a-placard-as-leader-of.jpg.CROP.cq5dam_web_1280_1280_jpeg

It struck in a flash.

Only hours after polls closed in the United Kingdom, a Prime Minister resigned, the British Pound dropped to its lowest level in 31 years and two trillion dollars in value instantly vaporized as financial markets around the world perilously plummeted with no easy end in sight.

By the relatively thin margin of 51.9% to 48.1%, U.K. voters determined it was time to leave The European Union – a politico-economic grouping of 28 member states with a total population exceeding 500 million. The EU was formed in the aftermath of World War Two in an effort to create, in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “a United States of Europe.” The U.K. has been a member for more than four decades.

Moments after final results were tallied, right-wing leader Nigel Farage joyously proclaimed. “June 23rd will go down in history as our Independence Day!” This was before the bottom dropped out.

Farage had to admit only hours later that a key claim insisting that “Leaving” would mean that “350 million pounds a week ($500 million US dollars) currently going to the European Union would go to National Health Service” was an outright lie.

When ITV’s Susanna Reid pressed him on this issue before an incredulous national TV audience, Farage admitted that allegation was “a mistake.” Reid hammered on, “You’re saying that 17 million people have voted to leave on the basis of that? That was a huge part of the propaganda – you’re now saying that was a mistake?” Deafening silence followed.

Then Google reported experiencing a major surge in U.K. searches not only relating to the ballot measure, but also with basic questions concerning implications of the vote, especially “what happens if we leave the U.K.?”

It now seems that many of those voting really had no idea what they were supporting other than displaying xenophobic concern over immigration, signaling deep personal discontent over economics and expressing general disappointment with the immediate status quo. They answered the siren call of a simple solution like petulant children – blindly striking out against perceived injury and neglect without a hint of proper understanding or meaningful reflection.

Donald Trump praised the outcome from his golf course in Scotland, boastfully stating that the same forces causing the U.K. to leave the European Union will elect him President in the fall. Trump bellowed, “I think I see a big parallel…people here want to take their country back!” This ignored the fact that Scotland, itself, along with Northern Ireland, dramatically voted to remain in the EU. The outcome has also renewed cries in Scotland to again vote on independence from England, yet one more thread among thousands threatening to unravel in the wake of Thursday’s alarming — and until recently unexpected vote.

More than three million people have now signed a petition calling for a second referendum on the issue, already gaining far more than the 100,000 required to be considered by Parliament for debate, its website crashing several times due to high demand.

It seems entirely plausible that a more enlightened U.K. electorate may soon find an opportunity to overturn what might ultimately be regarded as an unfortunate, yet only temporarily inconvenient misunderstanding driven by nativist naïveté– speedily resolved by concerned common consensus.

Our Constitutional Republic does not allow for quick second chances.

Barring impeachment and consequential removal from office, an event that has never transpired in our history, November 8th will lock in a new American President for four years.

As valid analysis continues on the threat of uninformed populism around the globe, there is no assurance that tragic collective misjudgment, however inadvertent, can’t happen here.

Pray for clueless friends.

As we honor this nation’s history and celebrate our own Independence Day next Monday on the 4th of July, there is much remaining unsettled.

Hounds of misfortune howl in the night.

Danger is at our door.

Donald Trump menaces us all.


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