Archive for August, 2015

“Tea Time with Tom”

August 28, 2015

Tom Bomb

You could barely hear Tom over the continuous rumble of ancient arteries ominously hardening.

I was one of the kids in attendance — even though turning 74 next Tuesday right along with Bernie Sanders that very same day.

The Yosemite Lakes Clubhouse was definitely Tom McClintock’s cup of tea last week as our Fourth District Congressman held a “Coarsegold Town Hall Meeting” quite a distance from the nearest town. Coarsegold, itself, is a full 8.3 miles away, but the relative seclusion of this venue successfully kept away the rabble, providing a perfect audience of the patriotically geriatric for our ultra-conservative representative.

To his credit, Tom starts these get-togethers exactly on time. To no surprise, he tells his folks exactly what they want to hear. Then he lets them have at it.

McClintock spoke for a smooth 25 minutes. When it comes to a Tea Party type pitch, he’s as good as any and better than most. I’ve heard him at least a half dozen times and it’s pretty much a standard rap, although this time he added his displeasure against President Obama’s proposed Iran agreement, calling it “a breathtakingly dangerous act.” He also blamed poor people for the economic collapse of 2008 – not those banks that were victimized by intrusive governmental meddling according to Tom’s revisionist interpretation of all perspectives deemed politically incorrect.

What followed Representative McClintock’s opening remarks was more than an hour of primarily outrageous commentary from a crowd seething with aging angst. Speakers competed in spewing specifics on a litany of suspect subjects – impressing each other in the process with fiery diatribes delivered with fierce dedication.

These seemed to be their Top 10 – although, in fairness, not universally so:

* The voting age should be raised to 25 or higher since young people are stupid.

* The IRS should be abolished.

* John Boehner should be replaced as Speaker of the House for “caving in to Obama.”

* Ditto (as Rush would say) Mitch McConnell – who must be tossed out as Senate Majority Leader for the same reason.

* Illegal Mexicans should go back where they came from.

* The Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution guaranteeing birthright citizenship should be immediately overturned since it is so – unconstitutional.

* Presidential Executive Orders should be abolished.

* Hillary Clinton should be in prison.

* Congress shouldn’t be afraid to shut down the government over raising the debt ceiling.

* And – Congress should be willing to shut down the government over funding one more penny to Planned Parenthood, especially since its founder, Margaret Sanger, was a blatant racist who wanted to eliminate African-Americans from our midst through eugenically driven, socially engineered abortion.

This last won my personal originality prize for being — hands down — the absolute doozy of the night and one I’d never heard before.

I was subsequently shocked to discover after only minimal research that the only individual who ever alleged such a thing about Ms. Sanger was Angela Davis, a leading Marxist and Communist from the radical ‘60’s, who was thoroughly denounced at the time and since by her peers for this and other loony lamentations.

Accordingly, since this and other crazy notions about Planned Parenthood have been quite in evidence of late, I would suggest anyone seeking full disclosure should join us this Saturday at Denny’s for our September Meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. Our featured speaker will be Pedro Elias, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood in Fresno.

As usual, the public is cordially invited. We start with breakfast at 8:30 and our program kicks off at 9:30. I’ll be moderating to keep things moving along in a casual, courteous, convivial way. There’ll be plenty of time for questions, but please fact-check sources before presenting them in public.

Karl Marx was not the father of our democracy.

“Shame on Schumer”

August 14, 2015


He folded like an accordion.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) has chosen base political expediency over basic common sense in his unfortunate decision to oppose President Obama’s support of the proposed nuclear deal with Iran.

Bowing to enormous pressure from The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the country’s most influential pro-Israeli lobby, Schumer has turned his back on a multi-national accord reached after years of strenuous negotiations. In doing so, the Senator presents a perilous profile lacking courage and simultaneously jeopardizes his chances of replacing retiring Harry Reed as Democratic leader in the Senate.

With a Congressional vote on the agreement still weeks away, here’s how it looks right now.

For approval – Virtually the entire free world, our negotiating partners Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia; President Obama, most Democrats, dozens of retired top-tier military leaders in both the United States and Israel, Gulf Arab states, The United Nations Security Council (by a vote of 15-0) – and retired Navy Rear Admiral Harold L. Robinson, who chairs the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces. In supporting the agreement Robinson states, “As a lifelong Zionist devoted to Israel, a retired general officer and a rabbi for over 40 years operating without institutional encumbrances, I have a unique perspective.”

Against the pact – Almost all Republicans, Benjamin Netanyahu, hard-liners in Israel, weapons manufacturers, Chuck Schumer and a handful of embarrassingly intimidated Democrats.

By no stretch of the imagination does this represent a perfect pact. There is nothing that can’t be “better.” But arguments in opposition seem intrinsically illogical and emotionally charged far past any perspective that open, measured, honest discourse should allow.

In my mind there is no question that the long established historic ties that firmly bind Israel and the United States to each other are inviolable and irrevocable for any number of reasons. We are and will be friends forever.

It is in our mutual national interest that Iran not be allowed nuclear weaponry under any circumstances and that its population, exploding with millions of youth, eventually attains a level of freedom impossible under the suffocating, oppressive reign of radical Islamic fundamentalism.

The ten-year time frame cited in the agreement’s final draft does NOT mean that Iran will be allowed to proceed unencumbered toward nuclear military capability at its conclusion. It does provide a decade long respite, allowing an extended period during which further, more specific, lasting remedies may be thoroughly discussed and hopefully attained.

Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, a stand-alone group sponsored by AIPAC, may wind up spending more than forty million dollars in a massive public relations campaign against the agreement, including thousands of TV ads in major markets. Additionally, a volatile payback campaign against members of Congress who vote for the measure has been threatened. Ironically, while I agree whole-heartedly with the goal intended, I remain firmly convinced that rejection would engender exactly the opposite effect and play directly into the hands of antagonistic Ayatollahs.

As far as Senator Schumer is concerned, his well-earned popularity among fellow Senate members may well override suffering any permanent damage after opposing his party and his President on this issue, particularly since the decision is so nauseatingly pragmatic. It’s old school politics at low tide on the Potomac.

But perhaps way down the road, Schumer might be replaced in office by someone younger, brighter and much more in touch with the times. Like — cousin Amy.

Turning down the Iran Agreement would be yielding to unreasonable fear, abandoning genuine hope and unilaterally deserting our allies — leaving us alone in the world.

An ultimate train wreck.

“Rockin’ With AARP”

August 9, 2015

PC--Beatles Ticket

It was a once in a lifetime gathering of “Awesomely Ancient Radio Personalities.”

“The Dinosaur” – Syracuse, New York’s leading Classic Rock station – had invited Rock & Roll DJ’s from earlier times to join in celebrating the 75th Birthday of WOLF- AM. “Wolf” and WNDR-AM were the first radio facilities in Central New York to pioneer “Top 40” programming in the late ’50’s and had been bitter competitors for many years.

A permanent truce established after six decades, disc-jockeys from both outlets were interviewed last Saturday in a four hour program broadcast over four separate frequencies and streamed on the web around the world. I was particularly honored being asked to host a final hour of commemorative programming before the start of a live concert featuring two great local bands.

Treasured memories flooded in.

WNDR days marked the very birth of the Rock era. It advanced in a vacuum more than partially enhanced by traditional radio professionals shunning any aspect of the new music, a fusion of grass roots “Country and Western” and black-based “Rhythm and Blues.” I and other young enthusiasts were more than willing to step forward and grab the microphones.

I started riding my bike out to WNDR, which had moved to a swampy area just outside town where the towers were located. I was soon answering phones on weekends for fifty cents an hour. I would have paid them to be there.

My first efforts at WNDR were extended to include writing early morning news. I cajoled my way into doing a few trial newscasts and then a regular weekend news schedule. It was temporary dues paying on the road to the Holiest of all possible Grails. Almost everyone acknowledged the real radio stars were DJ’s.

After mounting a relentless, non-stop campaign to get a shot, Program Director Bill Quinn finally acquiesced. It was determined that I be allowed a one-hour live on-air audition at Midnight the following Sunday when the station would normally sign-off for maintenance.

I wrote every word I would say on paper, practiced every record introduction hundreds of times, sat in the control room hours on end watching every move made and memorized dozens of different one-liners to use if I needed to ad-lib. I prepared for my moment of glory with unyielding commitment.

The adrenaline hit as soon as I sat down.The very first time I reached to open the microphone, an ignition switch on my own, personal “rocket to stardom”, I totally crashed. Big time. Bad.

Instead of the control panel “microphone-on” button, my humble hand brushed against a “master-off” lever directly beneath the intended target. I promptly plunged WNDR into twenty minutes of starkly stone silence.

The engineer on duty, fairly new to the business himself, took that long to determine the extent of my stupidity. After my first hour was finished, I assumed I was as well — my premiere performance also a swan song.

By an astonishing stroke of fate or fortune, no one in management heard my curious initiation. I blamed the engineer for not discerning my dumbness more diligently. Soon I was pulling full DJ shifts on weekends.

During my senior year in High School, I worked each evening from Seven ’til Midnight. “Hooper Ratings”, then the accepted standard in radio listening measurement, displayed a 58% total audience share during the time period, more than every other station combined.

It was a single point in time and space brought back ever so briefly –old time dinosaur radio jocks in joyous reunion roaring like thunder with scorching, blow-torch Rock & Roll.

Hope I die before I get old.