Archive for July, 2015


July 31, 2015


Martha Medina made Oakhurst matter last week.

It was spectacularly the biggest political event yet seen in this new presidential election cycle as over 100,000 private citizens packed 3,500 separate venues from coast to coast for a 73 year-old candidate still being written off as a loser by major political pundits of every persuasion.

Not so fast.

When I received my invitation to join a “Bernie Sanders House Party” in Oakhurst a few days earlier, I was surprised and intrigued. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Oakhurst Democratic Club and moderator of our monthly meetings, I hadn’t received any notice about such a gathering from party leaders in Sacramento. Was this authorized? Who was in charge? What was the deal?

So I was blown away when I entered the Oakhurst Branch Library Community Room Wednesday night and found every seat taken — packed wall to wall by total strangers for the most part — meeting for the very first time. There were a few friends in attendance, but these were greatly outnumbered by dozens of brand new faces – just regular folks moved to action by a common, collective concern.

Martha Medina had heard about the national organizing plan and decided to do something about it.

Martha, her husband and three children moved to the foothills from Sonoma County 12 years ago. She’s not formally affiliated with any group or organization – but feels things are horribly wrong with our political system and believes in “standing up for the oppressed”.

 Martha tells us, “I donated the day Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy and received emails. One email explained the 29th and how we all needed to join or create an event. I started off becoming part of a Fresno event, then created my own at home with friends until I realized I’d need a larger venue.

 Good call!

 She adds: “Bernie Sanders has always been a fighter for the middle class.” Martha suggests we listen to Senator Sanders after omitting the word “socialist” from our “Automatic No-O’ Meter.”

This seems particularly timely since last week also witnessed an important 50th Anniversary celebrating passage of the biggest and most far-reaching socialist program of my lifetime – national health insurance for those over 65 – most commonly known as — Medicare.

That’s right. Medicare is democratic socialism in action. So is Social Security. Go on. Check it out. Give it a Google.

Bernie spoke live Wednesday night — video streamed from the living room of a modest two-bedroom apartment in southwest Washington, D.C. The effect was stunning. He spoke directly into the camera in a firm, gentle tone. Only occasionally glancing at notes on a yellow legal pad, he summarized in 20 minutes a number of critical bullet points, introducing each topic with the words: “Enough is enough!”

In evaluating his chances for election, Senator Sanders stressed that that he is fighting incredible odds in the face of strongly established, deeply entrenched, powerfully committed corporate and political entities and that he will be outspent by hundreds of millions of dollars as time goes on.

He is one man raging against many machines.

He acknowledges that his campaign is completely dependent upon those who recall the words of Abraham Lincoln — rallying enough true believers in government of, by and for the people to carry the day in the formation of a new political order.

“The American people are saying loudly and clearly enough is enough,” says Bernie.

But will they act?

Can unified, unbowed solidarity replace jeering cynicism and dark despair?

Is there magic in the wind?

And will that be – enough?


July 24, 2015


Here we are in the dog days of summer — an old expression referencing the hottest days of the year.

These usually run from July 3rd through August 11th – a period extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and our sun. It’s amazing what one can learn spending dozens of decades in hundreds of bars with thousands of interesting folks. Don’t try this unless you’re a professional.

Usually dog days are slower times, but not so this year.

Here’s July winding down with the powerfully porcine presence of Donald Trump facing “great danger” at the Mexican border while surrounded by enough bodyguards to annex Nuevo Laredo. And there’s Congress with Republican members chanting their “No Iran Agreement” talking points like mad monks on mescal. Then we have those knee jerks in the House of Representatives yielding to Trump initiated, headline grabbing, anti-Mexican hysteria and voting 241 to 179 — passing legislation cracking down on “sanctuary cities” that shield residents from federal immigration authorities.

This deserves special attention.

A young lady was randomly shot and killed in San Francisco by a Mexican national who had been deported five times in the past. This horrible tragedy provided convenient accelerant for a wild GOP stampede seeking instant remedy with maximum press coverage. So the Republican Party suddenly found it functionally expedient to elevate federal over state and/or local law in an absolute reversal of their normal philosophical stance. Political vice must become a virtue when it’s on your side of the aisle, intellectual integrity falling victim to handy hypocrisy.

The tiniest bit of investigation quickly reveals that San Francisco is not the only “sanctuary city” in America. There are hundreds more, designated as such by municipal ordinances supported and endorsed by local law enforcement. These include Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Salt Lake City, El Paso, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle.

It’s simply a matter of efficiency and practicality. Local, county and state authorities say they have enough to deal with without getting into the potential minefield of immigration enforcement. Additionally, involvement in this area has been found to greatly hinder successful cooperation and communication between undocumented residents and law enforcement.

In threatening a presidential veto, the White House says this bill would threaten the civil rights of all Americans by allowing governmental officials to gather immigration status information from any person at any time, making citizens subject to purely arbitrary stop and search procedures from coast to coast.

The most baffling phenomenon of all can be found in the many Trump supporters proudly proclaiming that “The Donald” speaks for them with every word. Every random sixty seconds of his squealing rants contain a myriad of immediately evident self-contradictions, leaving George Orwell’s fabled “1984 doublespeak” far behind in the past.

Unfortunately, that’s not all these dog days of summer are leaving here in Oakhurst.

He will be remembered as a community stalwart, a good man and a fine friend.

An unavoidable aspect of the aging process is to find oneself in ever increasing acceptance of the impermanency of earthly life – each new year exponentially increasing the tally of those we know who’ve gone beyond.

I was saddened to learn that Dale Miller passed away last week after an extended battle with cancer. Although we tended to occasionally entertain varying political perspectives, Dale provided charming and delightful company without fail whenever our paths crossed. He was a joy to behold and cheerful to the end.

Whenever I saw Dale, he made me smile.

“Children of God”

July 19, 2015

Con Flag

There they were – right in his face — a half dozen Confederate flags hatefully hoisted by presidential protestors taunting Barack Obama’s arrival in Oklahoma City last Wednesday with scorn and ridicule.

However abhorrent, it’s shameful such open, mocking antagonism nonetheless represents a dramatic measure of honest expression notably absent in the more hidden depths of national political intrigue.

The Republican Party has been relentlessly dedicated to the downfall of President Obama ever since the night of his inauguration when key GOP leaders clandestinely met and agreed to oppose him at every opportunity.

Such obstinacy was again experienced in a shocking action some called treason in early March of this year when 47 Republican senators sent a letter to Islamic leaders in Tehran saying that anything reached between Obama and Iran without the approval of Congress could be revoked by the next president. This renegade move initiated by rookie Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and lamely followed with lemming-like loyalty by “patriotic” party parrots blatantly undermined the president’s authority and temporarily imperiled the talks until wiser, less sophomoric heads prevailed.

Now we witness new emotionally charged, partisan driven, mindless opposition freshly evidenced by unanimous Republican opposition to an agreement reached by the United States and a coalition of world powers that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

That’s all the Republicans in Congress choosing probable war over possible peace – including our own Fifth District Representative Tom “Keep Me Out of Oakhurst” McClintock.

As the Confederate Battle Flag mocked our President in Oklahoma City on Wednesday — McClintock similarly belittled him that same day in the House of Representatives.

Tel Aviv Tom trilled: “I don’t know how adequately to express my alarm and outrage at the President’s agreement with Iran. It is a breathtakingly dangerous act. Some have compared it to Neville Chamberlain’s Munich Accord with Nazi Germany, but that doesn’t fully illustrate the danger.”

 What nonsense.

Weren’t Iraq and Afghanistan enough, Mr. McClintock?

The proposed Iranian accord is not merely “the President’s agreement.” It is first and foremost an understanding painstakingly reached after two years of negotiations between Iran and the United States, France, China, Russia, The United Kingdom and Germany. That’s like obtaining complete unanimity on any given subject among all relatives in attendance at your next Thanksgiving Dinner — even the ones who’ve been drinking.

History teaches that friendship – or at least reasonable conviviality – eventually evolves more times than not between our country and former enemies – past foes such as France, China, Russia, The United Kingdom and Germany.

We should also bear in mind that “The State of Israel” is NOT Benjamin Netanyahu, a ruthless politician who barely maintained a tenuous hold as Prime Minister in recent elections, resorting to an outright lie the night before balloting started in pledging to abandon his support of a Palestinian State, only to completely reverse his public position after retaining office. This man can be a trusted friend?

President Obama said it best in an extended press conference held the day following announcement of the accord when he stated —“Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it’s resolved through force, through war. Those are the options.”

Force isn’t even a true option. That just doesn’t work anymore. We can bomb them, strafe them, knife them, shoot them, strangle them, drown them, poison them, torture them, kill them in any manner imaginatively contrived – and it won’t win us anything except reciprocal atrocities leading up to potential planetary annihilation.

“Blessed are the peacemakers – for they will be called children of God” – Matthew 5:9

“Girls, Girls, Girls”

July 11, 2015



“Girls, Girls, Girls

Girls, Girls, Girls

Girls, Girls, Girls.”

Mötley Crüe – Elektra Records – May 1987

It scored the highest soccer ratings in the history of American television.

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team shattered global record books on Sunday, July 5th, becoming World Champions with their 5-2 win over an exceptional Japanese contingent, including a breath taking four goals scored in the first 16 minutes. 25.4 million viewers watched the game on Fox Sports – peaking at 31 million during the final 15 minutes.

By comparison, recent NBA Finals on ABC only reached a high of 23.25 million in the 6th and final game. This year’s men’s college basketball title game between Duke and Wisconsin pulled 28.26 million viewers. No Major League Baseball game has drawn a larger audience since the 2004 World Series.

So why did our world champion women’s team receive only $2 million dollars for winning the 2015 World Cup while the U.S. men’s squad received $8 million for losing last year in Round 16 of the 2014 World Cup, a prize eventually captured by Germany – along with $35 million dollars for the players? Right! That’s our U.S. women getting 5.7% of what the German guys got for winning a World Soccer Cup.

Discrimination and sexism can easily be traced to the top. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, having recently resigned due to scandals involving hundreds of millions, outrageously stated in 2004 that female soccer players should “play in more feminine clothes” to make their involvement “popular.”

According to Fusion Magazine, the average salary in the U.S. Men’s Soccer League is $305,000. For women it’s not quite 5% of that –$14,000. Over 20 times less.

While free market forces have much to do with such a radical “sock her” differential, it’s clear that soccer is yet another frontier about to be influenced by irresistible forces of long delayed change.

Although parity still waits on a distant horizon, sales of U.S. Women’s team jerseys rocketed by 3,000 percent immediately following our ladies’ victory over Japan, throngs of New Yorkers jammed  “The Canyon of Heroes” in lower Manhattan for a spectacular ticker tape parade, and major endorsement offers are flowing in — recognizing a stunning historic achievement.

My mother was born in 1903 — 17 years before progressive forces finally brought women the right to vote.

As the father of four daughters and grandfather of four more women, I find myself deeply impatient that the average working woman still makes less than 80% percent of that earned by her male counterpart, all things considered.

While this is a vast improvement since 1980 when the female to male earnings ratio was a shocking 60.2%, most of this positive trending took place between ’80 and ’90 (to 71.6%) and has been slowing to a crawl these last 25 years.

And as the grandfather of eight young men, I hope they join their sisters as part of a new generation dramatically emerging with bright attention, new hope and fresh promise.

2015 marks the year our nation’s “Millennials” will finally out number us “Baby Boomers” 75.3 million to 74.9. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates this auspicious occasion will occur on or about September 8th, when Bernie Sanders and I both turn 74.

Our young have at their disposal astounding technical capabilities unimagined as we entered the 21st Century, particularly in the area of instant universal communication. Truth is becoming ubiquitous and unavoidable.

Politicians of all persuasions — be aware. Our children are awake.

Unlike their immediate predecessors, it is my fervent hope and lasting prayer — they won’t get fooled again.

“Dump Trump”

July 3, 2015

Donald Trump arrives to his Comedy Central Roast in New York, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

Donald Trump is a bloated, boastful, blowhard bully.

But that’s not why I hope he disappears as quickly as tycoons at tax time.

The fact is Trump makes all fourteen of his competing Republican contenders in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes look like Rhodes Scholars and paragons of propriety endorsed by the ghost of Mother Teresa. That even goes for (shudder) Ted Cruz, (wince) Rick Santorum and (choke) Lindsey “I Know I’m Not Married, But John McCain and I Are Just Good Friends” Graham.

I watched “The Donald’s” official announcement of his candidacy on June 16th with stunned disbelief as he attacked Mexico for “sending people (here) that have lots of problems and bringing crime”, declaring – “They’re rapists.” He also called on Mexico to build and pay for “a great, great wall” along our southern border to prevent the influx of more “Mexican criminals.” Trump burbled on to offer irrefutable testimony verifying the scientific accuracy of his analysis, boasting, “I speak with border guards!”

Such assertion differs sharply from an acclaimed study by Dr. Bianca Bersani of the University of Massachusetts (Justice Quarterly 2014) that reveals, “Foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their entire life course.”

 Thankfully, the blowback to Trump has been magnificent.

NBC/Universal has fired him from their “Apprentice” series. The network has also followed Univision’s lead in cancelling coverage of Trump’s “Miss Universe” and “Miss USA” Pageants as Carlos Slim, Mexico’s richest man and owner of the Ora Television Network, calls Trump “a racist.”

Cristian de la Fuente and Roselyn Sanchez, scheduled to host “Miss USA” have bailed from the project, describing Trump’s comments as “disrespectful” and “a rhetoric of hatred and discrimination.” Fuentes, added, “It’s a shame that such an important institution as “Miss USA” is now in the hands of a clown.”

Other entities with Trump business connections are reeling away in revulsion. Retail clothing giant Macy’s is cutting all ties with Trump, announcing last Wednesday, “We have no tolerance for discrimination in any form and have decided to discontinue our business relationship.” In response, Trump trumpeted, “Clearly NBC and Macy’s support illegal immigration, which is totally detrimental to the fabric of our once great country.”

Borrowing from Steve Martin and Dan Aykroid on Saturday Night Live, what a wild and crazy guy! I mean “wild” as in dangerously uncontrolled and “crazy” as in — clinically nuts.

Donald Trump has been pandering for political support in his narcissistic campaign by evoking a vile common denominator – time tested by demagogues through the years. It’s pure Xenophobia – an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers.  Trump’s despicable diatribes spouting this vitriol are paying off in certain circles.

Donald is now a solid #2 to Jeb Bush in a number of national polls measuring current comparative strength of GOP rivals.  For a national political party that declared its desire for substantially increased diversity after danger signs in the 2014 elections, this must present Republican leadership with a devilish dilemma. Such a quandary was made unavoidable by its Faustian alliance with the rich and powerful — an elite, privileged, legislatively favored, Country Club grouping that clearly includes Mr. Trump, who became fabulously wealthy the old fashioned way — inheriting a real estate empire from his father.

It’s just four weeks away. Mark your calendar for Thursday, August 6th when the first GOP Presidential primary debate takes place on – surprise – surprise – FOX TV. Since participation is promised to candidates finishing in the Top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls up to that time, Donald Trump’s inclusion based on his current trajectory is now all but assured.

We can count on Mr. Trump to provide the choicest of chuckles. Donald won’t duck any issue placed before him, but the real fun in this first debate will be watching his fellow Republicans as they twist and shout and shake it up baby dancing around the issue of immigration – now at the forefront thanks to the heat of intense media coverage as hot as summer in San Salvador.

Yet — as one with progressive leanings more on the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders side of the dial — please know I take no partisan pleasure as the world watches with wonder this blustering fool. When all is said and done, we’re in this together.

Donald Trump is a national embarrassment.