Archive for January, 2017

“In This Together”

January 29, 2017


Rocky was ready.

Rocky Deal concluded an exemplary 28 year career in the U.S. Navy as Chief of Staff to the Commander of Naval Air Forces Pacific, having previously served as Commanding Officer of America’s Flagship, the super carrier USS Constellation and leading the legendary “Jolly Rogers” Fighter Squadron — “The 54” – as his outfit was named “best in the Atlantic Fleet.”

It was quickly evident these and other stellar career highlights more than prepared him for the overflowing crowd at the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday when Rocky, now District Chief of Staff for California’s Fourth District Congressman, Tom McClintock, filled in for his boss listening to local constituents expressing passionate opinions – most of such commentary not necessarily of a positive nature.

Despite tolerating a pinched nerve and additionally burdened by a heavy cold, the District Chief graciously extended his stay until all were heard.

Congressman McClintock was praised by attendees for his courageous vote on January 13th against Republican House members in their current stampede to kill the Affordable Care Act through legislative maneuvering masked as “budget reconciliation.”

It’s encouraging to note that Rocky must have passed along the word from Oakhurst, since Representative McClintock was quoted in the New York Times a few days later cautioning fellow Republicans at a planning session in Philadelphia that — when it comes to replacing “Obamacare” — “We had better be sure that we are prepared to live with the market being created because that is going to be called “Trumpcare”. Republicans will own it lock, stock and barrel – and we’ll be judged by that!”

 That’s why Peace Oakhurst, the Oakhurst Democratic Club and other concerned entities packed the Chamber of Commerce headquarters for Rocky’s visit with a standing room only crowd. We asked that Congressman McClintock know we are paying critical attention and that we implore our representative to, in my own words, save us from a mad man – this Republican President — wholly unsuited, fatally flawed and dangerously unbalanced.

Forget Inaugural crowd size. Meaningless messaging has turned to menacing.

Our Sissy-in-Chief now sees fit to alarmingly share his inferiority filled fantasies and shrieking insecurities with an Executive Order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days, and keeping Syrians, displaced by millions, out of America indefinitely. You’ve seen the picture? Omran Daqneesh? That poor little five year-old boy from bombed out Aleppo hopelessly covered with rubble and ruin? No way. He can’t come here. Too bad. Trump’s scared.

Global shockwaves have been seismic.

It’s a Muslim ban, but not where Trump has hotels or any other business interests and absolutely not with any country having anything to do with 9/11.

Alexander Nowrasteh is an analyst of immigration policy at the Cato Institute, a highly regarded conservative think tank in Washington. Alex just compiled a list of the number of persons killed on American soil by citizens from the seven “geographic areas” selected for initial emphasis by the Trump terror team over a forty-year period – from 1975 through 2015. Ready?

Iran – Zero. Iraq – Zero. Syria – Zero. Libya – Zero. Yemen – Zero. Sudan – Zero. Somalia – Zero.

From certain nations NOT included?

Egypt? 162. United Arab Emirates? 314. Saudi Arabia? 2,369.

Connect the dots.

The Oakhurst Democratic Club has.

We hope you’ll join us this Saturday at Denny’s on Highway 41 for our very first meeting of 2017. Breakfast is served at 8:30 and at 9:30 Kamal Abul-Siehsem, former Director of the Fresno Islamic Center, will join us with reflections on how — “We’re All In This Together!”


 Kamal, currently Community Outreach Liaison at Hinds Hospital, was born in Ramallah, Palestine and is currently a PhD candidate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA in the area of practical theology and Islamic Studies. He has been focusing on Islamic spiritual care with particular focus on end-of-life situations.

Since 2013, Kamal has been serving as consultant to healthcare institutions and training leaders to offer chaplaincy services in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, across the US, and in Europe.

In Fresno, he served as director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (2005-2012). In addition, he previously held a leadership position with the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles and the Washington DC-based Interfaith Alliance.

Kamal will leave plenty of time for questions. The general public is cordially invited to attend regardless of party affiliation.

The eyes of the world turn our way with frightened focus.

We’ll be thinking of Omran Daqneesh.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of mine, ye have done it unto me.” —- Matthew 25:40



“Oakhurst Rising”

January 22, 2017


The liar’s liar – red faced with rage – faced down the press with marked petulance.

Sean “The Brat” Spicer so began his first official White House Press Briefing late Saturday afternoon, shouting at those in attendance for lying to the American people about the Liar-In-Chief’s sparse size.

At issue was the crowd count at Friday’s Presidential Inauguration, estimated by media consensus at around 250,000 folks, although the new President claimed he personally saw “between a million and a million and a half.”

 The Brat went on and on with his contentious castigation, inadvertently providing excellent sound bites in later news reports contradicting everything he said. Pictures told an irrefutable story.

There was the Washington Mall in 2009 for Obama. There it was in 2017 for Trump. Ta-da! Comparative aerial shots dramatically demonstrated the extraordinary extent of Spicer’s nonsensical claims, including the ridiculous allegation that Friday’s Inauguration turnout was “the biggest in history.”

Of course, that craziness didn’t start with him.

Only hours earlier, our 45th President saw fit to befoul the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia that honors 117 fallen CIA officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. The sore winner spent most of his time complaining to a hastily summoned group of CIA employees sprinkled with Trump team lackeys that he had been once again viciously attacked by “the most dishonest human beings on earth”, thundering that he had been depicted by the terrible press as addressing “an empty field.”

 Ex-Deputy Chief of Staff Nick Shapiro quickly twittered that Former Director John Brennan “is deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Trump should be ashamed of himself.” In reply, Trump trash talker Kellyanne Conway promptly told viewers on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that the highly regarded Brennan was nothing more than a “partisan political hack.” Let’s hear it for unity building.

Even as Sean The Brat finished his diatribe and scurried from the room like a frightened ferret without taking a single question from reporters, it had already become established that Trump had just been overwhelmingly out performed by countless women around the world in pink pussy hats.

Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington dwarfed Trump’s audience on The Mall, even as it generated similar response in dozens of cities nationally and globally.

Special congratulations to Tim and Susan Madden, Rebekah Jensen, Judy DeRosa, Joe Nelson and the many others connected with Oakhurst Area for Peace. This group brought forth dozens of participants braving icy rain and freezing cold at the corner of Highways 41 and 49 from 8:45 until 9:30 on Friday with a vigil “in silent reflection and contemplation on the state of the union” even as Donald John Trump simultaneously took his oath of office.

Their success increased by tenfold for Saturday’s remarkable local gathering of several hundred in support of the Washington March, proceeding from Oakhurst Community Park to the intersection of Highway 41 and Road 426 – featuring live music, shared message signs and spirited commentary.

While the Oakhurst organization reflected admirable altruism in their planning and staging of both events, stressing the need for non-partisan cooperation and collegiality, the underlying universal theme was decidedly and passionately anti-Trump and all he stands for, whatever that might eventually be.

Along with the daunting challenge of attempting to decipher a specific vision from the twists and turns of down the rabbit hole Donald – speak, we are now faced with Trump’s deeply concerning nomination of cabinet and other top-level positions. These primarily consist of aging white guy generals, billionaires and multi-millionaires. Then there’s a black dude named Carson, but no Latinos for the first time in the last 30 years. Vergonzoso!

For all of Trump’s promises to take care of the little guy, he’s already stacked the deck with big time players.

For his repeated denunciation of Wall Street power brokers and their practices, he’s emphatically shown his cards by selecting six Goldman Sachs heavies to lead the supposedly “populist” charge. The Goldman Sachs stock price has surged almost 30 percent since the election and it reported a four times increase in quarterly profits just last Wednesday – outperforming every other investment firm on the exchange.

For Trump’s solemn declarations of “love” of anyone or anything temporarily in his favor, Ivana and Marla should come to mind.

Is anyone paying attention?

We are in Oakhurst.

“Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight”

 Bruce Springsteen – “The Rising” — (2002)






















“Obstreperous Obstinacy”

January 15, 2017


Obstreperous – adjective –“Stubbornly defiant; attended by a loud and tumultuous noise”

Obstinacy – noun –“Not yielding to argument, persuasion or entreaty.”

Obstreperous obstinacy in human form – Trump team adviser Kellyanne Conway telling Fox and Friends’ viewers on Sunday that serious allegations of scandalous behavior on the part of the president elect while romping in Russia be kept secret “to protect the public.”

One curious thing I keep getting asked is why I use “big words” all the time instead of simply “saying it like it is” like — for example — Donald Trump.

I have no idea. It’s quite mysterious, particularly since such observation ignores the fact that Trump routinely combines incompetence with incoherency heretofore experienced only by those in the throes of deep delirium. I do credit the Sisters of Charity at Cathedral Academy in Syracuse and those no nonsense Jesuits at Le Moyne College for mandatory vocabulary enhancement. I must have been actually paying more attention than I thought.

When I sit down at the keyboard to write this column each week, I tap into whatever emotional key triggers a torrential rush of thought. More often than not this last year it’s been Mr. Trump’s insidious and dangerous rise to political prominence. Tomorrow he becomes the 45th President of the United States. My heart is pounding. My mind is reeling. My head is exploding.

Here’s the deal. While it is traditionally and Constitutionally understood that we Americans will accept without question the national leadership of those selected by established protocol, I find myself intellectually incapable of regarding Trump as anything other than an improbable imposter – a horrible electoral accident and a continuing threat to our general welfare and collective security. A fan for decades of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, I will “rage, rage against the fading light” of our shared historic democracy and “not go gentle into that good night” of the incoming Trump administration.

 And why has no one done anything to stop this travesty? That phrase “obstreperous obstinacy” sailed into my head and won’t go away.

Good Republicans have fallen into line like Pavlov’s pups, opportunistically barking belief and wagging their tails at the thought of total federal control and an immediate potential for substantial professional gain. They intentionally have ignored dozens of damning deficiencies and have brushed aside glaring inadequacies becoming ever more crushingly evident with each new passing day. In pursuit of personal fortune, they embrace a perfect fool. This will not end well.

Who would believe that Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend would witness a personal assault by Trump against a civil rights icon who marched with the slain leader in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965, and was beaten bloody in his fight for freedom?

Since Representative John Lewis (D-Alabama) was uppity enough to question his presidential legitimacy while interviewed by Chuck Todd on NBC, Trump twittered, “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district which is in horrible shape and falling apart – not to mention crime infested, all talk, talk, talk. No action or results. Sad!”

 Social media became instantly flooded with commentary from Lewis’ constituents in Atlanta expressing shocked consternation over Trump’s classless, outlandish claims. The Congressman’s district includes the Georgia Institute of Technology, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the busiest airport in the world.

I love what political strategist Howard Wolfson tweeted in response to Trump’s tirade — “John Lewis did more to make America great in one day on the Edmund Pettus Bridge than Donald Trump ever will.”

By the time my twelve grandchildren and great-granddaughter are old enough to read these words, history will have hopefully reached initial conclusions as to what forces on earth might have been so inexcusably irresponsible as to bring about the election of Donald J. Trump.

I herein nominate “obstreperous obstinacy” and its practitioners.

They surely knew better.

As we all now pay the price.

It won’t come easy.

“Dog Catches Bus

January 10, 2017



“They’re like the dog that caught the bus. They don’t know what to do about ObamaCare.” – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) January 4, 2017.

Canines chasing buses, bikes or Buicks display an instinctive urge to engage in predatory aggression. This phenomenon is called “prey drive.” The desired consequence is an eventual ripping, tearing and brutal death savagely delivered to a victim, immediately followed by delicious din-din for the doggie.

Congressional Republicans have been chasing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bus ever since it gained passage and was signed into law by President Barack Hussein Obama on March 23, 2010. Who’s sane? Check this out.

Reviewing primary features of the Act, an extensive survey recently conducted by the prestigious Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that 85% of Americans support the idea of allowing children to remain covered by their parents’ health plan until the age of 26. 80% of voters think providing proportionate federal subsidies for those subsisting on limited incomes is a fine idea. An identical 80% look with favor at expanding Medicaid services through the states. 69% of voters believe it makes sense to not allow insurance companies to discriminate against clients due to preexisting conditions and a full 60% find a mandate for businesses with fifty or more employees is fitting and perfectly proper.

While certain Republicans squeal and clamor that the Act is responsible for wild premium increases across the board for everyone purchasing health insurance, including those on employer plans, simple arithmetic dramatically depicts a completely different story.

In reviewing premium rise between 2006 and 2011 before the Act took complete effect, annual increases averaged 31%. Between 2011 and 2016 with the Act in place, this dropped to 20% — representing an average decrease of 35.4% in yearly escalation. Thanks again to the Kaiser folks for figuring this out.

So what’s the deal here? How come something offering so much good became perceived as being so horribly bad?

In a dazzling example of brilliant branding, foes of The Affordable Care Act cynically, maliciously and effectively labeled the measure and all its provisions, “ObamaCare.” Giving the devilish dogs their due, this proved to be a genius move. Really!

In a classic case of undeniably successful Freudian transference, Congress thereafter tried more than sixty times to repeal the Act, hoping to kill the bill – even if they couldn’t end the man. As President he stood in their way. In eight days Obama leaves office. His successor has promised to “repeal and replace” with “something better for less money” — these things combined being factually and functionally impossible.

Republicans have had six years to come up with a viable replacement for “ObamaCare” — a concept endorsing mandated health care initiated by the ultra conservative Heritage Foundation in the first place. As Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan stumbled, fumbled and jumbled in responding to a reporter’s question last week regarding specific planning: “Ummmm – we have a plan. Errr. Ideas! Ummm. We have lots of ideas!”

Let’s consider one more item here.

Because of a technical move in the Senate to avoid Democratic filibuster opposition to immediate replacement of ObamaCare as promised by Republicans on their first day — look at what just happened.

By a vote of 51 to 48 last Wednesday — without one single mention of The Affordable Care Act by that name or any other — The U.S. Senate approved a measure that establishes “appropriate levels of the public debt” would rise from the current $20 trillion to $29.1 trillion in the next ten years. Yes. And by the tenth year, annual deficits will easily top another trillion bucks. That’s every year. Excuse me? Accountability?

Leading GOP lawmakers insist these are “just numbers” and everything will be worked out in the end. But these specific figures have now been officially voted into the record and will shortly be sent to the House for eagerly anticipated approval.

Oh, and as long as that darn dog is catching the blighted bus of ObamaCare, why not toss Planned Parenthood under that same vehicle? More points with the pious!

The poor — primary beneficiaries of Planned Parenthood facilities — will need to settle for our pity –being no longer able to grab pennies from the public purse.

That’s being privatized.


“Twitterdee Dumb”

January 1, 2017


Our Clown Prince waits not for his formal coronation.

January 20, 2017 —- a date which will live in infamy.

Anyone who believes the pending inauguration of Donald J. Trump represents anything less than an immediate threat to democracy and a direct attack against core principles of this Republic had best get their heads out of their assets and start paying serious attention to certain alarming realities.

In his loving embrace of Russia’s Vladimir “Smarty Pants” Putin, his audacious support of Israel’s Benjamin “Bribery Boy” Netanyahu and his accommodating acceptance of Taiwan’s Tsai “Just Saying Hi!” Ing-wen’s phone call threatening to unravel decades of established bipartisan American policy toward China, “Twitterdee” Trump has become truly unruly. So much for rising to the occasion as he sinks ever lower beneath contempt. This man is a menace.

I regard the President-elect’s conduct over the past two weeks as treacherous — if not treasonous. “One president at a time” is not just a silly slogan – it is a Constitutional command. Look it up.

Over the Holidays, I was standing in front of Von’s casually minding everyone else’s business when a well-comported, fashionable attired, middle-aged gentleman was introduced to me as a “Good Republican.” I greeted him warmly, saying, “These days we need all the good Republicans we can get!” My reliably rebellious reputation evidently preceding me, his response exploded with a notable measure of challenge. “I voted for Trump! You people had the last eight years! Now it’s our turn!” And so it was — in mere seconds – I heard the most ignorant utterance since moving to Oakhurst a full decade ago. Here’s why.

My virulent opposition to Trump has absolutely nothing to do with party ideology and everything to do with plain common sense.

In my lifetime I have voted for many Democrats, but I also voted once for Nixon, twice for Reagan, once for George The Father and even once (the first time he ran) for George the Son. This last example was because I despised Tipper Gore for helping to create the Parents Music Resource Center in 1985 and threatening the radio industry with censorship, so I took it all out on Al. I know. Pretty shallow motivation. I suppose I was a “single issue voter” at the time, so I understand how that works.

Donald Trump is not a conservative, nor a liberal. He is not right, center or left. He is a pompous, vulgar, sociopathic dimwit whose success in life is totally attributable to being born to wealthy parents and being blessed with outrageous good fortune, avoiding cataclysmic collapse only by hubristic hook and cunning, conniving crook.

Trump has no moral compass, determining direction by wayward whim in random fits of fleeting focus. He displays the attention span of a comatose gnat. His scurrilous skin is thinner than the atmosphere of Mercury. Astrophysicists will observe that Mercury has no true atmosphere – being far too close to the Sun — just as Donald basks in the golden glow of flaming self-reflection – a New Age Icarus fatefully launched into ultimately terminal orbit.

Crisis is about to become commonplace with daily disappointments.

Cries of “Repeal and Replace ObamaCare” have already changed to “Immediately Repeal and We’ll Figure Something Out By 2018” – more currently morphing into “Well — Let’s Wait Until After The Next Presidential Election in 2020.” That’s correct. I even saw that on FOX.

Mexico will not be paying for that giant border wall because one won’t be built.

There will be no trillion dollar federal investment in new infrastructure, although such is desperately needed.

Blue-collar workers will soon discover – as The WHO once warned –they did get fooled again.

Heavy governmental subsidy for advanced technical education – the primary element required for upward mobility in the 21st Century — won’t be sufficiently available. The rich need to get richer – and they will.

They always do.

“While the poor people sleepin’ with the shade on the light – while the poor people sleepin’ – all the stars come out at night.”

 Steely Dan – “Show Biz Kids” (1973)