Archive for March, 2015

“Goodbye Medicare?”

March 28, 2015


Now – only one man stands in their way.

As our new Republican Congress adjourned for a hardly earned Easter recess last Friday, the Senate completed work on their Fiscal Year 2016 Budget by a final vote of 52 to 46. It slashes $431 billion from Medicare over the next ten years without ever saying how. An earlier House of Representatives budget, approved 228 to 199, was more specific, whacking a cool $148 billion from Medicare funding and converting the program to a voucher system with strict, controlled limitations on benefits.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, states, “Both the House and Senate versions of the budget hurts seniors and puts retirement security at risk. Make no mistake. These budgets are radically anti-retiree.”

 It’s a solid fact.

Although a final budget will be structured in conference between House and Senate when Congress reconvenes, no matter whom you voted for or how much it’s become fashionable to publicly despise his name in certain circles as a sign of fraternal conviviality, without Barack Obama — you can kiss Medicare, as we know it, goodbye.

For Republicans, this should be a wake up call. For Democrats, it’s a frightening glance at how close we hover at the abyss.

Both budgets also call for tax breaks into the pockets of millionaires and billionaires, significantly increased defense spending, a sharp cutback in social programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan for little children and, of course, demand a complete end to The Affordable Care Act of 2010 a full five years after its enactment. This major legislative achievement finally has us on the road to catch up with the rest of the civilized world in universal health care, but has unfortunately encountered the potentially terminal misfortune of being labeled, “Obama Care.” I am convinced if were named “Second Amendment Anti-Sickness Rights” up here in the foothills everyone would love it. And they should.

So as the game kicks in again in DC, we’ll see a bunch of Congressional get-togethers and some sort of compromise language developed which will be folded together, voted upon and sent to our President to be signed into law. This, thank The Lord and all things Holy — including lots of fine Republicans who understand The Sermon on the Mount wasn’t about horseracing — he doesn’t have to do.

An official White House statement says it best:

“The President has been clear that he will not accept a budget that locks in sequestration or one that increases funding for our national security without providing matching increases in funding for our economic security. The Administration will continue to abide by these principles moving forward.”

If Cyrano de Bergerac had a very big nose – Barack Obama has an extra big NO!


As we hopefully learned in Social Studies many years ago, a Presidential Veto can only be overcome by a two-thirds vote in each Chamber. Historically, Congress has overridden fewer than ten percent of all presidential vetoes.

Our own Fourth District Congressman Tom McClintock predictably chastised governmental spending in his own budgetary narrative, referencing “the ominously growing shadow of unprecedented debt that has literally double in the last eight years” – outrageously blaming “this administration” for the shortfall, not the trillions of dollars wasted in unnecessary warfare and tax favors for the rich supported by McClintock and his party time and time again.

Any pending theoretical deficits in Medicare or Social Security down the road can be immediately remedied by such measures as increasing the taxable wage cap above the current $118.5 thousand in annual personal income, increasing tax rates on those earning above, say, a million dollars a year or more, and continuing to develop and encourage operational efficiencies.

At a time when economic disparity has never been more pronounced in our American society, many feel we should look at actually increasing Social Security benefits for our elderly. In fact, this exact idea was brought up as a formal budget proposal in the Senate only last week by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). The amendment lost on almost a completely straight party line vote.

That was to be expected from this 114th Congress — facing Barack Obama, our Commander-in-Chief through 2016 – unfairly bloodied — but fiercely unbowed.

You may count on him.

“McClintock’s Magical Mystery Meeting”

March 23, 2015


“Peter! This is not a political meeting!” 

When both John Pero and I get politically blindsided, it’s a rare day indeed.

Perhaps I went too far.

After Fourth District Congressman, Tom McClintock, made his usual local Spring appearance last year at Oakhurst Elementary on April 23rd, my subsequent Sierra Star column, “21st Century Tom”, bemoaned the fact that so few folks had shown up. I wrote, “All that was missing was the chirping of crickets.”


I was hoping next time would bring more people, looking forward to again providing the Congressman with a list of helpful questions to assist in his presentation, although he completely ignored all of them at Oakhurst Elementary, even publicly berating me with the words, “Peter! This is NOT a political meeting.”



You can only imagine my sudden shock and sad surprise to learn that Tom had come and gone again like a phantom ship slipping by through heavy fog in the dark of night. Even worse, I was discovering this a full ten days after the fact in a headline story published by my very own paper. It was like “The Twilight Zone.”

Then I found out that John Pero hadn’t known about Tom’s visitation either. As Central Valley Oakhurst/Coarsegold Tea Party Coordinator, I respect the fact that John stays right on top of things even as I do on my side of the aisle, making all the more mysterious McClintock’s obvious decision to stage his recent Oakhurst stop as a drive-by.

In asking about, it would appear that Tom McClintock has become quite guarded in limiting his exposure to unscreened questioning and unforeseen challenge with careful and cautious venue selection.

Early this year, his office heavily promoted an early evening “Town Hall Meeting” on Tuesday, March 10th to be held at the Mariposa Senior Center – hardly Candlestick Park or even a decent sized Dunkin’ Donuts. As McClintock anchored his day around this strategic centerpiece, it was then the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce became somehow connected — enticing Tom to travel 27 miles south on Highway 49 and participate in a comparatively exclusive private get together to which the general public and, in fact, much of the Chamber’s own membership list was NOT invited nor informed of the event.

Details on Chamber involvement remain murky, particularly what criterion was used for selecting invitees — by whom – and why so many were excluded.

While I am heartened by McClintock’s ringing endorsement of the critical need for more water as reported in The Star, he blames this four year drought pretty much exclusively on the Feds, perhaps hoping to carpet with forgiveness his own “Stairway to Heaven” by giving The Lord a pass in the process – just like Congressman Aaron Schock (R – Illinois) wanted his Washington office to look like Downton Abbey.

Well, Tom, here’s the deal.

I’m sorry if I have made you uncomfortable with any column I have ever written containing negative commentary about you, which would be all of them, and herein propose to made amends.

There’s nothing to fear. No more crickets. Come back to Oakhurst and our Community Center and do a real “Town Hall.” John and I could ask the questions, all of which you’ll see beforehand, and you could give the answers. It’ll be fun.

There’ll be a place for everyone who wants to be there.

Wall to wall.


“Shamrock & Roll!”

March 6, 2015
He Rarely Left Home Without His Pet Church

He Rarely Left Home Without His Pet Church.

It was a far more joyous time — before accountants were in charge.

With St. Patrick’s Day 2015 hardly more than a hundred thirsty hours away, all sorts of random recollections come reeling through the years, but one unique event leaps to the head of the six-pack.

In 1980, a mere 35 years ago, our WTAC Sales staff had hit and greatly surpassed first quarter target goals. Consequently, as promised, we headed out that morning for a gloriously extended, all expenses paid “lunch” at Paddy McGee’s, Flint’s #1 Irish Pub. It was wall to wall by the time we arrived a bit before 10.

Home by dinnertime, a rare March 17th achievement, I was greeted at the door by my lovely Eileen with a fierce frown and multiple questions.

“Who was the blonde? Who was the redhead?

The best defense is a strong offense.

Feigning shocked surprise and wounded innocence in a futile attempt at borrowing adequate time for situational assessment, I lamely blurted: “WHAT blonde? WHAT redhead?”

“The ones sitting on your lap!”

Oh. Those.

Subsequent review of a leading story that night on ABC 12 revealed yours truly captured in animated merriment with, in fact, two attractive young ladies symmetrically arranged with one on each knee, beneath which read a caption presented in screaming green font proclaiming: “WTAC’s Peter C. Cavanaugh celebrates St. Patrick’s Day at Paddy McGee’s!”

Yes. That.

As the years bring to most of us a measure of responsible maturity, I reluctantly suppose I am pleased to report that such moments have become more rare than any remotely similar occasion recently realized. Yet that particular St. Patrick’s Day in Flint is the one I fondly remember most — outrageously self-busted in front of tens of thousands or not.

Being of Irish descent on both the paternal and maternal side of things, St. Paddy’s Day has always been a particularly special occasion from my earliest memories. Accordingly, radio promotions celebrating such a special day during Michigan years were inevitably subject to sharply focused and significantly extended creative attention.

We gave away six pound notes drawn on the Bank of Ireland, itself, during the entire month of March.  Our station also won a Gold “Addy” award from the Flint Advertising Federation for designing WTAC “Lepre-Cans” featuring “an actual leprechaun trapped inside his magical chamber of eternal enchantment.”  We gave these away every hour for a week. Winners were warned, “No Refunds If Opened!”

We recruited a dozen volunteers from “Little People of America”, dressed them up in wild emerald green and had them picket the station March 17th with signs protesting “Leprechaun Bowling”, an audio fantasy being simultaneously produced and broadcast by our morning DJ. We received live coverage during newscasts on both Flint and Detroit TV. An accord was finally reached with bowling ended and peace restored.

Everyone then piled into our ”WWCK 105 Super Van”, including those leprechauns, who now waved large shamrock shaped signs declaring: “One O’ Five FM – Irish Radio!”  For the rest of the day and into the night, we visited every major bar within a fifty-mile radius distributing “WWCK Lepre-Condoms” tastefully engraved with our station logo – amiably encouraging “safe Irish sex.”

That was in 1984, when Flint’s “FM One O’ Five” became the highest-rated Rock station in America.

With St. Patrick’s Day now celebrated around the world since the great Irish Diaspora, March 17th is a Holy Day of Obligation in Ireland. You’re supposed to be in church.

In Oakhurst, given my own take on blessed surroundings, I’ll be looking for you next Tuesday at The Brewery, Roman’s Bar, The Dirty Donkey, The Oak Room and The Hitching Post in Ahwahnee — wearing my official Dublin City “Roma Atletica” Full Zip Track Jacket.

Made in Pakistan.