Archive for September, 2017

“Counting Your Vote So It Counts”

September 30, 2017


The next meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club will be held this coming Saturday, October 7th, at The Best Western Plus Yosemite on Highway 41. An “All You Can Eat” hot breakfast buffet for $8.00 will be available at 8:30 AM with the meeting and program starting at 9:30.

Rebecca Martinez, Madera County Clerk/Recorder/Registrar and former President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, will speak on “Counting Your Vote So It Counts.” This will include a discussion of recent changes in election law, voter system modernization and a recap and review of the November 2016 election.

Ms. Martinez has just completed a series of community workshops aimed at familiarizing Madera County voters with a proposed new county wide balloting system.

Rebecca “Becky” Martinez is a lifelong Madera County resident, a devoted mother, and a proud grandmother.

After graduating from Madera High School, Becky started her career of public service with Madera County in 1973 in an entry-level position where her work ethic, attention to detail and dedication to duty earned her several promotions.

In 1990 Rebecca was elected the Madera County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, the first of seven times Ms. Martinez has been elected to this position. Until September of 1998 Ms. Martinez held the position of ex-officio Clerk of the Madera Superior Court. Ms. Martinez holds the distinction of being the longest serving elected official in Madera County, an honor she is mindful of every day as she continues to serve the residents of her community.

From July of 2008 through July of 2010, Rebecca served as the President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, the statewide association of County Clerks, Clerks of the Board of Supervisors and Registrars of Voters. In July of 2010 Secretary of State Debra Bowen presented Ms. Martinez with the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award in recognition of her “intelligent, open-minded and enthusiastic dedication to making our democracy work better.”

In November of 2014, Ms. Martinez was appointed by the President of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials to the transition team for newly elected Secretary of State Alex Padilla. As a part of the team, Ms. Martinez was asked to provide essential input as Secretary Padilla transitioned from the position of a State Legislator to the role of California’s Chief Election Official.

Becky has two children and three “perfect” grandchildren that she enjoys spending her free time with. In addition, Becky enjoys traveling with friends and family and serving as a member of the Madera Noon Chapter of Rotary International where she has chaired the Rotary Health Day event and was selected as Rotarian of the Month.

Chief Assistant Clerk/Recorder/Registrar Justin White will assist in the presentation.

The Oakhurst Democratic Club is pleased to welcome Ms. Martinez to Eastern Madera County. All are invited on Saturday regardless of party affiliation with questions encouraged from those in attendance.














“Ridicule? Us?”

September 24, 2017

Cavanaugh Coat of Arms,jpeg

 “Letters. We Get Letters. We get stacks and stacks of letters.” – Perry Como (1957)

While I and fellow columnists Brian Wilkinson and Bill Atwood don’t quite receive “stacks and stacks of letters” every week, a few do come our way, especially poor Editor Brian who, as “the one in charge”, fields all sorts of random observations, then prints as many as space allows. We look forward to hearing from our readership. That’s a fact.

One particular note came in today I thought I would share. I receive this observation rather often, consider it genuinely valid, and feel it now deserves pubic response.

Our Sierra Star reader writes:

“I usually agree with most of what you say, was a Bernie Sanders supporter also, and find your column entertaining and/or informative. However, perhaps those who don’t agree with you might be able to “listen” to you better if you toned down the put-downs, name-calling and sarcasm. Of course (these) can be part of what makes your column entertaining. Somewhere there’s a balance in there. I think we have a responsibility to speak and write with thoughtfulness, intelligence, and wit that’s not accompanied with denigration.”

This reader is 100% right on the desirability of seeking fair balance, but also correct that “put-downs”, name-calling and sarcasm functionally work in attracting interest and attention. Consider the phenomenal acceptance of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin and that Donald What’s-His-Name. You can’t argue with success, but you don’t have to like it.

This criticism is timely. Since mid-June I’ve been trying to include more “General Interest” material than keep everything primarily “Political” — that being the original reason for this column. My first serious attempt was “Senior Sex in Oakhurst”. It worked like a charm getting reaction, but there are only so many seniors in Oakhurst having sex. More importantly, It now seems clear Trump supporters back the man, not any particular mission, and are consequently impervious to attempts at reasonable dialogue. To believe otherwise seems ill advised. In fact — dangerous.

After the President used his Oval Office once again as a killing ground, stabbing both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in the back without warning in his capitulation to Democratic demands from Nancy Pelosi a few weeks ago, subsequent polling showed that his core base of support was just fine with that. Life is less complicated when you let others do your thinking. It’s an ancient drive enshrined in certain DNA coding. Even so, evolutionary forward motion in advancing civilization has depended much more on questions than answers through time. In fact, the very best outcome good answers can hope to generate is simply the eventual creation of better future questions.

With the “Russian hoax” looming ever more scandalous and probably term ending for Trump, it is difficult for any serious opinion column to avoid embracing and endorsing traditional values and national standards – and to do so in a clear and effective manner.

There is this Irish word – “Magadh” – pronounced “Mah’Gah.”

Magadh is the Celtic word for ridicule. The Irish have classically regarded ridicule as an art form onto itself. True “Magadh” requires negative evaluation in a comedic form with colorful scorn and clever denunciation darkly presented in a mocking tone. Even the English word “mocking” reflects “mah’gah” ancestry. The joy of laughter not only vindicates, but verifies common, instinctive truths.

So, this Caom’hanach’ (Cavanaugh) ends his dissertation on content with a salute to and acceptance of genetic predisposition, ascribing much of what he writes as being faithfully reflective of and honoring to all who’ve come before.

Nothing more.



“Fears of a Clown”

September 17, 2017


That Trumpy. What a scamp.

There he was honoring the Lord’s Day early Sunday morning by sending his minions a Trumpy the Clown cartoon. It was this gag video of him taking a really hard golf swing. Pow. The ball rockets through the air and hits Hillary Clinton right in the back as she boards an airplane. Clunk. She falls down hard. Kerplunk. The End. It worked. It made me gag.

No one can ever tell what’s real and what’s not when Trumpy says it.

But maybe he’s not lying. It’s quite possible he believes it too. Even the extra crazy stuff, like three or four million secret illegal aliens voting for Hillary Clinton, or Obama “wiretapping” Trump’s Oval Office, or building a giant, spectacular, breathtakingly beautiful wall for thousands of miles at a cost of billions which Mexico will pay for. Or maybe you. He’s certain it won’t be him. You can borrow the money, then declare bankruptcy. Trumpy’s done it five times. The rascal.

Oxford Dictionary.


[ˌskitsəˈfrēnēə, ˌskitsəˈfrenēə]


A long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.

There’s something in the air. “It” is breaking box office records around the world as the highest grossing September film ever released. “It” cost $35 million to produce. After two weeks, the film has scored a global gross of $371 million — more than ten times the original investment. Young kids take on an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of mayhem and murder dates back for centuries. It’s not a Broadway musical. No La La Landing for this one.

“It” is based on a 1986 novel by perhaps the greatest supernatural genre writer of all time, Steven King. He clearly perceives and effectively portrays the fundamental essence, energy and emotion of evil. King gets extra points from me for being a major fan of AC/DC — and for this comment last week on our 45th President — “Trump’s control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is worse than any horror story I ever wrote.”

King also tweeted on August 11th at 7:25 AM — “Donald Trump is unfit for office. Needs to be removed.”

 With Congress having returned to Washington, here we are back at the intersection of Sham and Shame, pretense of function still supplanting proper penitence for having done this to ourselves.

There’s help on the horizon.

Recent polling indicates strong concern among Millennials for conservative political positions in general and an even greater personal dislike for Donald J. Trump in particular. Just watch the talk shows. Stephen Colbert. Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy Fallon. Seth Meyers. Conan O’Brien. Trevor Noah. It might be called comedy, but they’re not kidding. John Stewart still shows up every so often following retirement from “The Daily Show” and even the outrageously bearded, fashionably unkempt David Letterman surfaces from time to time hither and yon. Would someone kindly find that man a sandwich?

For the first time in the coming 2018 midterm elections, Millennials (roughly 18 to 34 years of age) will outnumber Baby Boomers (51 to 69 years and aging) – American’s dominant generation for decades. Importantly, indications are the younger demographic will be voting in a much higher percentage than their predecessors. They’re paying more attention, genuinely care and are eager to act.

Evil clowns beware.

Especially clowns like you, Trumpy.

Here come those kids.






“Away Out Here”

September 10, 2017


 “Away out here they got a name

For rain and wind and fire

The rain is Tess, the fire Joe,

And they call the wind Maria”

From “Paint Your Wagon” – Lerner & Loewe (1951)

“Paint Your Wagon” was a fabulously successful Broadway musical about a miner and his daughter in Gold Rush-era California. It could have been Fish Camp or North Fork. More likely Mariposa.

Last week away out here we also called the wind Harvey, Irma and Jose, all catastrophic hurricanes charging out of the Caribbean like a Kardashian on Rodeo Drive. “Yes, please. I’d like a Lamborghini to match my cat.”

 At the same time, an 8.1 earthquake struck Mexico, Texas remained severely flooded and dozens of wildfires burned throughout the West, including four or five pouring smoke into Oakhurst. It was like sleeping with a campfire in your tent.

Perhaps the one positive benefit of all these slights from Mother Nature is that it’s temporarily driven Trump and his troubles out the headlines. He’ll be back again soon, at least until those aliens hiding under the Talking Bear make a run for it. But away out here we have been missing interesting developments.

Surly Sarah Sanders has replaced Sean Spicer as White House spokesperson, adding a meaner, grimmer (if not slimmer) attack dog motif to daily press updates.

Junior now shocks a Senate Committee with yet another major revision to what happened at his meeting in Trump Tower in June of last year. Donny finally admitted that all along he was looking for dirt on Hillary from the Russians – the same folks he asked about securing a private line of confidential communication with pals at the Kremlin. You know – to keep important understandings safe from the FBI, CIA and other American intelligence agencies. A young 39 year-old barely out of the cradle can’t be too careful.

The wildest surprise to me and I’m sure to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan was the President’s awesome display of artful dealing in the Oval Office last Wednesday.

There was our Republican President. There were Republicans Mitch and Paul. There were the Democrats — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Leader Nancy Pelosi. They were all together at a customary “after summer recess” session to set the course for the next few months. It’s a tradition.

The Democrats went first. They read off their list of wants and needs. In a race to surrender, the President quickly agreed to virtually everything important, including the top priority item for Democrats of establishing a limited three-month extension of the debt ceiling. Trump even interrupted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the middle of his presentation rejecting the Democratic positions to throw in the towel. Cool it, Steve. Go home to your $400 million dollar nest egg and that hot third wife. Meeting over. Who wants a Coke? What? Huh? D’oh!

A lot of old liberal hippies possibly thought they were having some sort of acid flashback. Many old conservative Goldwater backers might have wished they had dropped a tab or two back before drug testing.

I only hope that a few of my many old friends and acquaintances who keep bellowing his name in unison like a bullfrog in heat will finally allow that Donald Trump is, was, and forever will be utterly unworthy of trust. This also goes for those who might delude themselves into fantasizing that Trump has suddenly and transformatively undergone a miraculous epiphany. Or is playing “Multi-dimensional Chess.” This man is all foam – no beer.

Let’s drink to that.








“My Summer Vacation – Part Two”

September 4, 2017


In a previous episode of “For Your Consideration” — Sierra Star columnist Peter Cavanaugh recounted his abundant lack of enthusiasm when suddenly confronted with an unscheduled four day hospital stay while vacationing with Eileen in their hometown of Syracuse, N.Y. This was precipitated by a combination of COPD driven pneumonia and a newly experienced “Atrial Flutter.” It felt like a naughty butterfly was stuck in his heart.

Treatment provided, the Cavanaughs then flew home to Oakhurst. Unfriendly skies charged more for their one-way return than the entire prepaid round-trip fare. It was compassionate conservatism – also known as gratuitous greed. The airline’s CEO made only $18.7 million dollars last year in salary and bonuses, best in the industry. Ka-ching.

“Chandrasekar Palaniswamy” – Definition:

(a) Guaranteed tiebreaker in National Spelling Bee Championship.

(b) Difficult reciting backgrounds while eating peanut butter crackers.

(c) The name of a brilliant young Fresno Electrophysiologist who performed a successful three-hour catheter ablation procedure on Cavanaugh two weeks ago when the butterfly flutter returned, suddenly accompanied by atrial fibrillation. These are separate, although related situations. The flutter rate was around a speedy 150 beats per minute, while fibrillation was estimated at 450 beats. This is at the high end of frequency. I’m amazed I didn’t fly off into space.

I had a hard time breathing. The reemergence of “Smokehurst” didn’t help. Deadwood kept disappearing.  Dr. Palaniswamy was confident we had great chances for extended success. He was correct, as was primary cardiologist, Dr. Michael Gen. He’s kept me around longer than I deserve. Dr. Palaniswamy was Dr. Gen’s idea.

Things kicked off with a Transesophageal Echocardiogram taking pictures inside the heart, immediately followed by the introduction of thin, flexible wires called “electrode catheters” moved ever so gently in an extensive electrophysiology study (EPS). An electrical map of the heart was created — determining the type and location of arrhythmia experienced. Finally, defined “problem cells” were destroyed with ultra sound.

From start to finish, I was never scared a bit and hardly felt a thing.

A delightful anesthetic cocktail provided at various intervals consisted of four separate drugs expertly applied. I’ve been telling everyone in amazement it was like one single, unbroken, uninterrupted thought no longer than seconds in duration. “I wonder how long it will take – wait! I’m awake!”

I spent two days of my “Ablation Vacation” in a lovely private room at Fresno Heart and Surgery Hospital. The staff was excellent and couldn’t have been more accommodating. A visiting friend even said he wouldn’t mind living there.

Next Monday is 9/11/17. For the 15th year, Sierra Tel Patriots’ Day will be held starting at 9 AM, this time again scheduled at Yosemite High School’s Badger Stadium. The Commander of the California Air National Guard, Brigadier General Clay L. Garrison, will be keynote speaker. General Garrison is responsible for mission readiness across a wide spectrum of programs and more than 4,500 military and civilian personnel in California.

Eileen and I attend “Patriot’s Day” every year. It is a joy to be with others in our little mountain community in faithful remembrance of those we’ve left behind; recognizing unity, celebrating freedom, and renewing commitment to shared goals, critical values and points of national pride.

“Remember the hours after September 11th, 2001 when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”

— Senator John Kerry.