Archive for April, 2014

“21st Century Tom”

April 26, 2014
"Peter! This is NOT a political meeting!"

“Peter! This is NOT a political meeting!”

All that was missing was the chirping of crickets.

When an incumbent Congressman representing 711, 815 Californians in our Fourth District, which encompasses the Sierra from Truckee to the Sequoia National Forest and includes Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties and parts of Fresno, Madera, Nevada and Placer, comes to Oakhurst and well under four dozen folks show up for his widely promoted “Town Meeting Hall” – something’s up.

I have no idea what or why.

But such was the case last Wednesday (4/23) at Oakhurst Elementary as Representative Tom McClintock (R- Elk Grove) came to town.

I briefly and pleasantly spoke with Mr. McClintock prior to the start of proceedings. He referenced the fact he was familiar with questions concerning his tenure raised in my Sierra Star column of 4/17/14 and assured me he was prepared to address them in his talk. Other than concern expressed over last year’s costly governmental shutdown of Yosemite, he pretty much ignored the rest.

With national interest suddenly focused on our district thanks to an Easter Sunday article in the New York Times about Art Moore’s Republican challenge to McClintock in this year’s race, I couldn’t help but raise my hand Wednesday to introduce that issue as well.

McClintock’s response was a somewhat bristling, “Peter! As I said, this is not a political meeting!”

Remaining puzzled even now by exactly what that was supposed to mean and what I might have missed in his introductory comments which seemed to define exactly the opposite, Tom was still kind enough to offer a fairly involved accounting of anecdotal examples citing Democrats who were going to challenge him, only to drop out, several “at the last minute.” This included an individual in Placer who was “bluntly told” by local party officials not to run. When I then asked, for purposes of clarification, whether Mr. McClintock was suggesting a “Democratic conspiracy”, he quickly exclaimed, “No!

As one is left marveling at the wonders of such seemingly contradictory evidence spinning about in the mind of McClintock, yet even more puzzling is how an articulate man of obvious intelligence can maintain a perfectly straight face when he pronounces such inane craziness as “the government taking over one-sixth of our economy” with The Affordable Care Act. That’s not only astoundingly wrong, it is inexcusably irresponsible.

All in all, nothing truly important, innovative or even interesting came down Wednesday night, but I salute Representative McClintock for coming by and energetically staging his full presentation as advertised, despite what must have been deeply disappointing attendance, particularly in a room packed wall to wall for him just a year ago.

What we all should have been talking about was “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist Thomas Piketty, still the hottest selling book on, remaining a solid #1 this week after spending its first 40 days in the Top 100.

Piketty reviews data from 20 countries spanning decades of economic trends and patterns as far back as the 18th century. Ultimately, extreme inequality stirs deep divisions of discontent that severely undermine democratic values, not only here in America, but around the globe. Piketty doesn’t believe capitalism is doomed or that ever-rising imbalance is inevitable, but argues solutions cannot be independent of politics. He feels both the left and right should examine powerful solutions mutually agreeable and cooperatively obtainable.

Right now, here at home, Piketty writes: “In terms of income generated by work, the level of inequality in the United States is probably higher than in any other society in the past, anywhere in the world.” He adds, “If current trends continue, the consequences for the long-term dynamics of wealth distribution are potentially terrifying.”

I’ve just ordered a copy of “Capital in the 21st Century” for Congressman McClintock and trust he might take the time to scan a few pages on his jet flights to and from Washington.

Next time in Oakhurst, it would be extraordinary hearing him explain how, among the 20 most highly developed nations on earth, the United States indisputably has the most extreme wealth concentration of all. The top 10% of our population are holding 75.4% of the goodies and grabbing more all the time – and that’s not because the rest of us aren’t working harder than ever just keeping the bills paid, the kids in school and the dog fed.

But we all have our challenges, even Congressman Tom.

It’s hard discussing fair play when one represents the rich.

“Freedom in The Fourth”

April 17, 2014


Attention all Freedom Loving Patriots.

You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why.

Fourth District Tea Party Treasure Tom McClintock’s coming to town.

But this Tom’s no turkey.

Although the choice of Oakhurst Elementary School for his pending “Town Hall Meeting” next Wednesday, April 23rd, certainly seems to perfectly reflect the intellectual sophistication of Congressman Tom McClintock’s polished political pronouncements, our Representative does have a handle on his hooters; i.e., those who “shout in scorn and disapproval of things they abhor,” such as The Affordable Care Act, Food Stamps and cost free contraceptives. That’s right out of Webster. The hooters part.

McClintock’s impressively singular platform is that The Constitution of the United States contains everything we could ever possibly need to know about government — pretty much the same way fundamentalists accept The Bible as revealing all that God expects. As is true of both the Constitution and Bible, any parts that appear to contradict other parts must be the product of errant interpretation, misguided logic, or a bad hangover.

There’s an almost irresistible purity there. McClintock gets that. And works it well.

Simplicity is the key – sadly and simultaneously creating the inexcusable abrogation of a moral obligation to engage in meaningful reflection on questionable or complicated ideas beyond the mind numbing, reason slumbering, beatific bliss of comforting contentment.

Beware of that Judgment Day ahead when a loud, booming voice from above thunders, “Do you think I only gave you brains so your hair had somewhere to sit?”

Let’s face it. Thinking is hard work.

With this in mind and to save Congressman McClintock the trouble of coming up with topics of primary interest here in Eastern Madera County, I thought I might be helpful and propose a few items in this week’s column which may or may not make it past Tom’s scrupulous screeners.

Congressman McClintock –

Why did you cost this area millions of dollars in lost local revenue pushing a useless governmental shutdown that accomplished nothing more than providing Texas Senator Ted Cruz with a national propaganda platform which went nowhere fast?

Why did you vote against Children’s Health Care (HR 2), Violence Against Women (HR 4920), Food Safety (HR 2749), Campaign Disclosure (HR 5175), Employment Discrimination (HR 12), and Transportation and Jobs (HR 4348)?

Why did you vote against Rural Development Funding (HR 2112), Science and Technology Funding (HR 5116), Whistle Blowers Protection (WPA) and Equal Pay for Women?

Why did you give your congressional staff an average salary increase of 31% between 2009 and 2012 in the aftermath of the worst American recession since the Great Depression?

Why did you boost the salary of your loyal and obedient Chief of Staff, Igor Birman, from $127,405 to $150,000 when he was about to launch his own campaign for Congress in California’s 7th District, where you still reside in Elk Grove?

Why do you continue to live outside our 4th District when you promised to move into it way back in 2008?

Are there any elements of “ObamaCare” you support, such as not allowing insurance companies to drop coverage of anyone who gets really sick, denying participation to those with a history of even minimal health problems or permitting young adults until the age of 26 to remain under their parents’ policies?

Although you informed the Los Angeles Times in 2008 when you first ran for Congress that you had no pension coming from your years in the state legislature, why have you changed your mind since being elected and now stand to indefinitely receive over $77,000 annually in pension funds from California taxpayers and a similar amount from the Feds should you be defeated this November, including annual cost-of-living increases?

Earlier this month The Senate voted 59 to 38 in favor of a bill that would restore federal funding for extended unemployment benefits for 2.8 million Americans who are considered “long-term unemployed.” A corresponding measure, HR 4415, has become stalled in the House of Representatives, primarily because your Speaker, John Boehner, has refused to allow a simple up or down vote on the issue. Do you support Speaker Boehner on this and other matters?

Do you endorse requiring undocumented immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship, even those who have lived here since early childhood?

So there’s a quick “Top 10” for Tom McClintock’s consideration while stopping by next week. I hope you add a few of your own. Let’s not be boring. But not inconsiderate, contentious or combative. There’s enough of that in Washington.

You might even bring this along to score what Tom does and doesn’t touch.

There are times when nothing shrieks louder than silence.

“A Moore Who’s not Michael!”

April 1, 2014

Art Moore


There’s a choice!

Although California Fourth District Congressman Tom McClintock is running for reelection this fall without facing a Democratic candidate in as heavily Republican a district as you’ll find anywhere in the entire free world, there’s hope on the horizon.

I’ve met and spoken with Congressman McClintock and have always found him personally charming, engaging and thoroughly professional, but Tom’s claim to fame as being one of only four House members to receive a 100% pure rating from such corporately controlled organizations as FreedomWorks and Club for Growth verifies his extreme conservatism.

This is a static stance I find intellectually uncomfortable and severely limiting, surely not representing my own basic values or those of many folks I hold in high regard, including quite a few Republican friends.

A headlined article in last Thursday’s Fresno Bee proclaimed, “McClintock faces credible threat,” and brought to my attention a gentleman named Art Moore, someone I sense we’ll be hearing a lot “more” about these next few months.

Former Eagle Scout Moore wears a class ring from West Point and served our country as an Army Major with multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Kuwait and Egypt, during which time he was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. Remaining as a Major in the National Guard, Art moved back to Roseville in December and is seeking to bring a fresh, new innovative face to Republican politics in the Fourth District.

I’m told he’s not afraid of moving things along with Democrats in Congress toward mutually agreeable and attainable goals. That’s the way government is supposed to work in our representative democracy to the benefit of all, something we haven’t seen in recent times.

Accordingly, the Oakhurst Democratic Club’s Executive Committee has voted unanimously to arrange and sponsor an Oakhurst debate between the incumbent, Mr. McClintock, and his challenger, Mr. Moore. Art Moore is opposed to federal funding of abortion, a bloated bureaucracy and The Affordable Care Act. He supports individual liberty, limited government, a strong military and personal responsibility.

Appropriate contacts have been initiated.

Quoting Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee, “The question for the district’s voters is simple: Do they want their congressional members to ruminate, speechify and argue the fine points of what it means to be a conservative, or do they want a legislator who will legislate?”

The Oakhurst Democratic Club gets along with our local Republican leaders quite well. Our April monthly meeting this Saturday (4/5) at Denny’s will include a presentation by Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce President Todd Miller, CPA, who’s running for Madera County Auditor/Controller in the June Primary. I expect Mr. Miller will also be reminding us that the Chamber, itself, will be presenting “Debate Night With the Candidates” at the Community Center from 6 till 8 PM on Thursday, April 17th.

This Saturday morning, we’ll also be hearing from Paul Cliby, seeking election as Fifth District County Supervisor, and current Madera County Undersheriff, Michael Salvador, who hopes to replace retiring Sheriff John Anderson in January. We’ll also meet Paulina Miranda, running for the California 16th District Senate seat.

Saturday’s get together will start with breakfast at 8:30. The program begins at 9:30. Each of our guests will speak for ten minutes and then take five minutes for questions and answers. We’ll move things right along. I promise.

Although he won’t be at Saturday’s Meeting, I’d like to thank Ray Krause, busily campaigning in the First District Madera County Supervisor’s race, for asking me to fill-in for him on March 22nd as a “speech judge” in the 2014 Academic Pentathlon at the Ranchos Middle School in Madera. The young participants were simply outstanding and Office of Education Events Developer, Kristi Winter, is to be commended for her excellent organizational efforts.

So — during these last few weeks — I have found positive promise in our youth of today.

Including new leadership from 35 year-old Art Moore.

A Republican from Roseville.