Archive for January, 2012

“What Made Max Mad”

January 20, 2012

Max Richie was a Powerhouse Man.

“We lived in an Edison Community. These were little communities around The Powerhouse. We were the people who ran The Powerhouse. We maintained it, worked together and lived together as next door neighbors. Our kids went to school together. I lived with them for 15 –20– maybe 25 years.”

Max said these words last December 3rd at our year’s end meeting of the Democratic Club of Oakhurst at the Ol’ Kettle as we introduced what was to become a regular closing highlight designated as, “A Moment with Max.”

I get to moderate these monthly sessions, having not been present a while back when a vote was taken by membership as to who should get stuck doing such a thing.

Here was my introduction to “A Moment with Max” as transcribed from a fortuitous recording of same:

“We have something special we’ve decided to close these meetings with from now on. We have a TREASURE in our organization. He’s 90 years old. He’s been on his best behavior today — just sitting here waiting for his turn — so I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the inaugural appearance of “A Moment with Max” — Max Richie!”

(Enthusiastic applause)

Max lived in North Fork, having been a Merchant Seaman in the South Pacific during World War Two — later joining Southern California Edison in 1947 and operating in the Powerhouse for 33 years until his retirement in 1980. It was while working for Edison that Max joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and became a union steward, at one time leading a strike against Edison which brought about milestone changes in wages, benefits and working conditions across the board. He continued his role as a primary union negotiator with Edison for the remainder of his years with SCE.

Max was heading north on Highway 49 Saturday morning, January 14th, to participate in a Mariposa County Democratic Central Committee symposium when he died.

His son, Charles, shares these thoughts:

“The family has talked it over, and decided that we could not have picked a better way for Dad to spend his last day than to wake up excited, discussing what he might say, printing off copies of a “Thank You” letter from Bernie Sanders and be on his way to his next Democratic activity.”

Max K. Richie was spending his 91st year still on the ball — on the road – on the move – because Max K. Richie was mad — and getting madder all the time.

Max was always writing “Letters to the Editor” — The Sierra Star and Fresno Bee his primary recipients. On October 3, 2010, The Bee honored Max with featured recognition in their highly circulated Sunday “Meet Our Letter Writers” segment.

Pam Rowse of the Bee remembers Max well. ” I was so sad to hear of Mr. Richie’s passing. He has been writing letters, probably before I started working here in 1977. I remember he used to hand write all of his letters. He had very distinctive penmanship. Even though I don’t have any of those hand-written letters, I can still see his very unique writing in my mind to this day.”

The reason Max wrote all those letters all those years was for the same single word Gore Vidal once used in explaining why he has remained so politically energized and active even after becoming severely debilitated and confined to a wheel chair.


Rather than delineate specifics with any attempt at inclusive summary to create a litany of all the things that made Max mad, might I suggest the following publications Max devoured with passionate commitment and always consistently and insistently recommended to others?

The Nation
Liberal Opinion
Mother Jones
The Progressive
Monthly Review
Industrial Worker
and Fresno’s Community Alliance.

I bring these to your attention with endorsement in the name of Max K. Richie: Socialist.

One of the finest men I’ve ever known.

“Scotty Beams Us Up!”

January 6, 2012

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown with daughters Ayla and Arianna

Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) thinks Barack Obama did the right thing and so do I.

Republican Senator Brown was elected to serve the remaining term of the late Ted Kennedy two years ago in January of 2010 with major Tea Party support, shocking the nation and waking up the Massachusetts Democratic Party from self-induced, naively assumptive apathy. Brown’s amazing triumph was hailed as a Conservative victory of the highest order and, more importantly, a glorious harbinger of dazzling things to come.

Such optimistic prediction seemingly came true in November of last year when enough disenchanted progressives stayed home and even more disaffected dissidents didn’t, thus ushering in a 112th Congress as bitterly divided as any in our history – and predictably so.

I’m hoping Senator Brown has got it down, gracing us with a prophetic act in his new support of our President. Barack Obama may at last be on his way to a deserved second term, having bitterly learned a hard lesson after his first few years of attempted cooperation, compromise and conciliation with a Republican Party primarily comprised of committed ideologues willing to serve the rich and keep millions unemployed to blow one man out of a job.

The major turning point for Brown comes with Obama’s decision to appoint Rich Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau despite powerful and fully dedicated Republican opposition to the very idea of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, itself. Although Cordray received a majority of Senate votes (53 to 45) on December 8th to let his nomination proceed, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell again impudently invoked the threat of a filibuster to slam the door shut in Obama’s face once again as he had done dozens of times before with unanswered impunity. But things have changed and none too soon.

Boldly and courageously citing ample legal justification, Obama has finally flipped a Presidential eagle and installed Cordray as Director of the CFPB through a “recess appointment” as envisioned by our Founding Fathers and clearly authorized by Article II: Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Stunned Republicans have reacted with unusual vehemence, some even demanding immediate impeachment if not even more radical remedies up to and including lifetime banishment back to Kenya.

Let’s see what Republicans hate so much about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by examining what it promises to do:

In the words of Director Cordray, “The central mission of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans — whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.”

At its website, the Bureau cites as “core functions” such things as the enforcement of financial protection laws, the establishment of restrictions on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, the initiation of action upon citizens’ complaints and the promotion of financial education.

As usual, Republican opposition to such “socialistic” goals is accompanied by exclamations of wild outrage concerning “more big government”, “job killing regulations” and “strangulation of free enterprise”, each allegation presenting an even fresher level of characteristic absurdity.

Even eventual GOP nominee Willard “Mitt “Romney is now whining about Obama’s drive toward “European Style Socialism”, presumably including the Federal Republic of Germany, where the average German auto worker now earns wages of $67.14 an hour, more than double that of his or her American counterpart, while also receiving full health care, an ample pension upon retirement and a free college education. Look it up.

Fasten your seat belts. Election Year 2012 is off and running with a reinvigorated President, a replaceable Congress and a reawakened electorate.

Good things may come of this.