“Dog Catches Bus

January 10, 2017

dogcatchescar

 

“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

trump-pump

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Flashback 2016”

December 25, 2016

enjoy-its-new-year-1

Cool TV establishes continuity beginning each new program with a standard phrase I herein borrow:

In previous episodes of “For Your Consideration” —

January 2016 started with “Takedown” — suggesting Donald J. Trump should be disqualified once and for all as a serious candidate for the American presidency. “Town Hall Tonight” again commended Tom Wheeler for holding outstanding local meetings. There’s another scheduled for January 12th. “Breakout for Bernie” congratulated Senator Sanders for besting Hillary Clinton in their Democratic Debate, while “Flint” discussed the discovery of poisonous lead in the water of what was once home to the highest paid factory worker in the history of the human race.

“Trump Goes Thump” on February 4th saluted a headline story in the New York Daily News discussing The Trumpster’s loss to Ted Cruz in the Iowa Primary. “Taking the Cannoli” took Hillary to task for hauling in those big bucks from Wall Street interests. “Little Miss Sneaky” again scolded Hillary for presenting a highly altered interpretation of Bernie Sanders’ perspectives on health insurance and “The Nine Lives of Donald Trump” included a quote from one of my favorite old time Country songs, “The Cat Came Back”.

“Stress Test” on March 3rd addressed our 2001 Buick Park Avenue sedan bursting into flames in a self-ignited Viking funeral going up Deadwood. “It Ain’t Over” depicted how the election seemed to be tightening up for both major parties. “The View from Killarney” brought us St. Patrick’s Day thoughts from John O’Mahony in the Emerald Isle. “Both Sides Now” encouraged consideration of Senator Elizabeth Warren as a V.P. candidate on any eventual Democratic ticket.

“KOLS-LP” on April 7th discussed my filing of a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission protesting the illegal operation of 98.5 in Oakhurst, an action that has placed the facility under formal review. “Landmark Legislation” saluted Governor Jerry Brown for signing into law an increase in the California minimum wage. “Hotter Happenings” observed that both major party Conventions would be held during the hottest time of the year. “Saudi Duty Time” called upon Saudi Arabia to own up to their possible involvement in 9/11, however peripheral. “Prince” bemoaned his death.

On May 4th, “Requiescat” similarly lamented the passing of Father Daniel Berrigan, political activist and the toughest teacher I ever had.   “Citizen Trump” joylessly saluted the Cheetos Chiseler for locking up the Republican nomination. “Hating Hillary 101” stressed that Secretary Clinton was trailing her opponents in many polls due to an historic, virulent, deep-rooted hatred that might prove difficult to diffuse.

“News” on June 11thnd discussed Troy Pope, Editor-in-Chief of the Fresno Collegiate, and his appearance at a meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. “Welcome Mister President” celebrated Barack Obama’s visit to Yosemite. “Hail Incitatus” suggested Donald Trump was the most curious candidate to enter politics since the Emperor Caligula appointed his horse to the Roman Senate in 40 AD. “Independence Day” discussed Britain voting to leave the Common Market. “Time Machines” suggested how lucky we are having some fabulous area museums within easy reach.

July arrived with “Doofus Days” on the 7th – a column referencing how Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was both stupid and incompetent. In fairness, it is herein acknowledged that Chaffetz’s impetuous demand submitted to the FBI for more information on Hillary was directly responsible for Director James Comey’s letter to Congress just prior to the election. This probably cost Mrs. Clinton the Presidency. “Of Mice and Men” and “Death Wish” presented more election rambling. “God and Politics” promoted Dr. Andrew Fiala’s pending presentation for Yosemite Democrats at Denny’s. Andy was terrific.

 “President Poodle?” on August 11th questioned Trump’s choice of such a blatantly sycophantic running mate. “Dear Tom” begged our Fourth District Congressman to disavow the Donald. He didn’t. “Expression Suppression” condemned a hateful attack against the political signage of a Gold Star Mother on Stagecoach Road. “Collapse” heralded what promised to be the final days of Trump in national sentiment just before that cat came back anew.

September 7th saw “75” discuss how both Bernie Sanders and yours truly would turn three-quarters of a century old on the 8th, while “Down The Stretch”, “’Fraidycat”,“All That Rises” and “Voice Your Choice” produced more election reflection.

“Poodle’s Puddle” obviously continued this theme on October 6th, even as did “Jumpers” and “Lady and The Trump”. “Life on Pluto” returned to a critical examination of Director Comey.

“Snow On The Water” November 2nd took a break from politics, even as “Free Fall”, “Goodbye Medicare” and “Bamboozlement” brought more miserable meditation on our eerie election outcome.

December’s “Hamilton”, “President Putin” and last week’s “Shout Hallelujah!” brought the year to an end – even as it brings this recounting to a close.

Regardless of party affiliation –

 “Should auld acquaintance be forgot – keep your eye on the Grand Old Flag!” – George M. Cohan (1906)

Happy New Year!

“Shout Hallelujah!”

December 18, 2016

wreath

“Forget your troubles

Come on get happy.

You better chase all your cares away.

Shout Hallelujah.

Come on get happy.

Get ready for the judgment day.”

Ted Koehler/Harold Arlen (1930)

The Creature had a Mobile mob booing Michelle Obama at his final “Worship Me” Rally, but let’s leave all such cleverly concise commentary aside as we await the pending arrival of 2017.

With the Winter Solstice, our sun returns even as it retreats, bringing ever-increasing brightness with each turn of the earth — even as days begin to darken from Venezuela to Valparaiso. Perception thus finds itself dependent on geographic placement, just as allegiance. And laughter. And love.

It is the Holiday Season around the globe – a universal time for reunion, reflection and renewal.

In many ways, Christmas has become a more secular than religious celebration in the western world during recent decades with “Santa Claus” referenced in the popular press tenfold more times than Christ. You can count it up yourself. This is purely observational.

St. Nicholas was a Turkish Patriarch of the Fourth Century and Bishop of Myra, who became renowned for his legendary habit of secret gift giving. Theologians should note that he was a participant at the Council of Nicaea in 325 and was consequently one of those who composed and signed the Nicene Creed, to this day an early fundamental doctrine summarizing Christian belief.

It is written that when Arius, a priest of Alexandria and Council participant, insisted that Jesus was a lesser spiritual figure than God the Father, St. Nicholas punched him in the face, gifting Arius with a black eye and branding him a heretic. Tough love.

Through the centuries, the name of Saint Nicholas became interwoven with all sorts of year-end phenomena, many customs pagan in origin. The traditional Christmas tree springs from the Nordic tradition of decorating solstice homes with branches of evergreen fir as promisingly symbolic of the spring to come.

Ironically, the early Christian Church during the time of Nicholas vigorously condemned the practice, as did the Prophet Jeremiah much, much earlier in 620 B.C. — when “heathens” would chop down trees, carve or decorate them into the form of a god or goddess and overlay them with precious jewels and metals for veneration, much as Donald Trump has covered the floor of his towering New York penthouse with gold and diamonds. He actually did that. Whoops. I promised to leave him alone for now. Please ignore the preceding twenty-one words. Thanks.

It wasn’t until the mid-19th Century that Christmas trees became cool. This was all because of a story conveyed in what is generally regarded as the most important, impactive poem in the history of American literature.

“The Night Before Christmas” was published anonymously in 1823 and written with wild, festive imagination probably by Henry Livingston, Jr., although it was 1844 when Clement Clark Moore claimed he wrote it and that’s what stuck in terms of general attribution. How fickle is fleeting fame. And how rhythmic the language penned by Livingston possibly ripped off by Moore. All the reindeer have perfect two syllable names.

Dasher. Dancer. Prancer. Vixen. Comet. Cupid. Donner. Blitzen.

In 1939 – Robert L. May added Rudolph.

A rap masterpiece.

Eat your heart out Kanye West.

With the Solstice now passed, if these have seemed like times of deep darkness of the soul, recall not only the Old Testament promises of a caring God, or the lessons of Jesus so brilliantly conveyed in His Sermon on the Mount, or the teachings of Muhammad that the most virtuous jihad is when one speaks the word of truth to an unjust ruler.

It is from the teachings of Gautama Buddha one might learn that the Beatles had it right. There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing that you sing that can’t be sung.

Love IS all you need.

Merry Christmas and love to all from Peter and Eileen Cavanaugh – and their little old kitty — Fiona Marie.

Catnip is waiting right under the tree.

fiona-earrings

 

 

 

 

 

 

“President Putin”

December 11, 2016

wladimir-putin

“There are no nations. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.” –

Paddy Chayefsky – “Network” (1976)

“You’d better watch out” – Santa Claus (2016)

Barring unlikely divine intervention, it seems as though we may fall under the spell of a new President on January 20th.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born October 7, 1952 in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he obtained his law degree in 1975. Rising through the ranks of the KGB as a foreign intelligence officer, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1991 to enter politics. He became acting Russian President on December 31, 1999 upon the resignation of Boris Yeltsen. He has functionally run things in Russia ever since.

In 2007 Vladimir was chosen as Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” and was #1 on the Time’s “Most Influential People List” in 2013, 2014 and 2015, this last also being the year he was ranked first on Forbes Magazine’s “List of the World’s Most Powerful People.”

No wonder Donald John Trump, 2016’s Time’s “Person of the Year”, trembles with eager anticipation, swooning at the very thought of sharing the world stage with such a manly winner of enviable and desirable global distinction.

Guess what? Here’s breaking news of critical importance. Putin’s not a communist. The old socialistic Soviet Union was left on the trash heap of history long ago. The government of Russia has become an “oligarchy.” In this instance that simply means — rule by the rich.

Reviewing Trump’s announced cabinet choices to date, it appears “little guys” are in the cross hairs of the oncoming administration. Not only will blue collar Trump supporters soon discover cynical promises to “bring back jobs” and “invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure” were bold faced, undeliverable lies, but small businesses will similarly learn they’re not important enough to hang with the big boys. Please. Even today small business owners rarely get best parking spaces at the Country Club.

There seems to a pattern forming. According to NBC News, the personal wealth of combined key nominations so far in the emerging Trump government tops $14 billion dollars – more than 30 times greater than the crew under our most recent Republican President, George W. Bush.

It’s a burgeoning billion-dollar bullpen of pending appointees radiating major corporate interests.

Billionaire Betsy DeVos will be Trump’s new Secretary of Education. DeVos advocates schools of choice and is convinced “traditional public schools are failing” — primarily due to teacher’s unions.

Billionaire Linda McMahon is due to head up the Small Business Administrator. Linda and hubby, Vince, founded World Wrestling Entertainment — where faking means everything. This resonates like a tuning fork with Trump. He threw Vince to the ground in WrestleMania 2007.

Billionaire Wilbur Ross is waiting to become Commerce Secretary. Ross is best known as owner of West Virginia’s Sago Mine. It was there a dozen miners lost their lives in a 2006 explosion.

Billionaire Todd Ricketts will be Ross’s Deputy Commerce Secretary.

Then we have a bunch of mere multi-millionaires such as Andy Puzder, CEO of Carl’s Junior and Hardy’s Restaurants. Andy is set to become Labor Secretary. He doesn’t believe in a minimum wage or universal health care and can’t wait for technology to replace human workers.

There’s Steve Mnuchin, former investment banker and hedge fund investor. He’s earmarked for Secretary of the Treasury. Mnuchin made much of his fortune foreclosing on thousands of homes while CEO of OneWestBank.

Elaine Chao is incoming Secretary of Transportation. Elaine’s worth around $22 million and it’s a good thing there’s a serious breadwinner in the family. Elaine’s husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, only hauls in a quarter of a million buck annually, but Mitch did come in handy back in September when he killed the idea of conducting an open investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Other multi-millionaires waiting in the wings for major jobs are radical right hero Steve Bannon (Chief Advisor), Senator Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Tom Price (Health and Human Services) and Dr. Ben Carson (Housing and Urban Development).

ExxonMobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State? Tillerson was accorded singular honors in 2012 when he received Russia’s coveted “Order of Friendship” medal – personally awarded by a very special friend — President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Last Saturday a new Russian/Islamic agreement endorsed by Putin will place strict limits on oil production in both Russia and OPEC countries to drive up prices.

Better head for a pump and fill it up fast.

Our new President means nothing but big business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hamilton”

December 2, 2016

hamilton-v-trump

When Donald Trump said that President Obama destroyed jobs — he was lying. The 4.6% national unemployment rate reported last Friday (12/2/16) is the lowest recorded in the last nine years.

When the Trumpster claimed that Obama opened our borders to immigration without consequence — he was lying. Federal prosecutors have pursued more undocumented immigrants in the last eight years than under the previous two administrations combined.

When Trumpty Dumpty bellowed that Obama ruined the economy – he was lying. America became great again under Barack Hussein Obama.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was a feeble 7,949 points when President Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009. Last week it soared to new heights at 19,195, having grown 241.47% during his tenure. That’s an average annual increase exceeding 30 percent.

Compare this with the last eight years under a Republican President (George “Dubya”) when the market fell from 10,587 in January of 2001 to the 7,949 he left for his successor. Such was the legacy of Wall Street rule, woeful wars and supply side stupidity – these horrors now preparing for a rousing comeback.

Donald Trump’s latest frenetic tweets charged that two million “illegal” votes were cast in the recent election with California declared a primary culprit, suggested that flag burners spend a year in jail and lose their citizenship, and insisted that he won a “mandate” by a “landslide” despite the fact he lost the final national count by over two and a half million votes.

Let’s face it. Can there be any doubt in the mind of any rational person that our so called “President-elect” is not mentally unbalanced?

As a clear and present danger to our collective safety and national security, there is no way he should be allowed to assume any public office — let alone the highest in the land.

Hamilton may offer remedy.

“Hamilton” is one of the most successful theatrical presentations in the history of Broadway. The rap musical is pretty much sold-out through the end of next year at an average ticket price exceeding a thousand bucks a seat. It was “Hamilton” for which Mike “Poodle” Pence was sitting way down front when the cast politely expressed hope that the new administration would represent ALL Americans and it was “Hamilton” that Trump subsequently twinkingly twittered as being “overrated” with a “disgraceful” cast.

The real Alexander Hamilton, upon whose life the production is based, now strikes back from the grave.

It was Hamilton who authored much of the U. S. Constitution, particular designing The Electoral College as one final safeguard against unintended folly and popular whims – evaluating the fitness of candidates offered and casting votes accordingly.

Hamilton provides specific language toward this end in his Federalist Paper Number 68: “Talents for low intrigue and the little arts of popularity may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State. But it will require a different kind of merit to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.”

 With the wisdom of our founding fathers and focus on the future, Alexander Hamilton saw Trump coming!

Other than minor exceptions, those chosen as electors are NOT bound to vote for a specific candidate on December 19th, the designated date established by law, even though theoretically pledged to do so. If only 37 electors out of the 306 currently labeled as Trump supporters fail to vote for the Cheetos Chiseler, he’s through.

If this miracle should appear before our wondering eyes in perfect sync with the Christmas season, a lot of wild things could happen.

Although Hillary Clinton now leads Trump by two percent or so in final tabulations — ironically where she was actually placing in most advance polls – there’s no guarantee she would gain The White House. A final determination might even wind up in the House of Representatives with some sort of “Grand Compromise” as it did back in 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes became our 19th President.

I’d take a fine true Republican over Trump any day of the week and twice on March 17th.

Although prematurely so designated by a media he despises, Donald J. Trump will not officially be “President-elect” until so chosen by The Electoral Collage.

Such ultimate honor would be crushingly dishonored until the end of time by his horrid selection.

Oremus et sperabunt.

Let’s hope and  pray.

 

 

“Bamboozlement”

November 27, 2016

trump-dumb-thumb-600x325-167475-1

Happy December!

Our operative word for this month of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Mawlid un Nabi (Muhammad’s Birthday), the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve is — “Bamboozlement”. As Oliver Hardy might say, “That’s what gotten us into this fine mess!” Who’s Oliver Hardy? Ask your grandparents. Or their grandparents.

Definition of Bamboozle (Merriam-Webster):

(1)  To deceive by underhanded methods: dupe, hoodwink.

(2) To confuse, frustrate or throw off thoroughly and completely.

Love him or hate him, any reasonably objective assessment of Donald Trump’s astounding victory in November concludes that it was due to unparalleled bamboozlement of the highest order, including a stunning realization that the liar was finally triumphant lying about his lying – successfully branding his opponent with such damning designation — even in the lack of any valid supporting evidence.

That’s right.

Benghazi? Emails? The Clinton Foundation?

Conservative talk show commentary to the contrary, there was never anything there upon which to truly hang Hillary or “lock her up”, but there was plenty of unfounded innuendo with which to hatchet her mercilessly. Secretary Clinton’s campaign died of a thousand cuts. This proves anew Adolf Hitler’s infamous observation in “Mein Kampf” that “A big lie must be so colossal that no one would believe someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

 Hitler’s chief Nazi propagandist, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, picked up on the theme. He wrote, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating, people will eventually come to believe it.” Goebbels thoughtfully added, “”The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all its powers to repress dissent.”

 On Monday, November 21st, Donald Trump appeared at a meeting with several dozen media heads and primary network anchors, summoned to a boardroom at Trump Tower in hopes of establishing a more congenial relationship with the press. But Donald detonated, starting the meeting by directly addressing CNN President Jeff Zuker with these words: “I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and CNN is a network of liars!” Then things went way downhill. Trump has made several outright threats to “open up libel laws” and “take the press to court” when elected. Think about it.

It’s become disturbingly easy to discredit Trump by simply quoting his own words. I have also come to believe that Donald J. Trump functions almost exclusively by intuitive impulse, often sacrificing logic and reason in the process.

This is terrifying.

We are about to live under rule by whim. Donald shifts with the wind and appears powerless to do otherwise. Maybe we’ll get lucky.

Yet along with “bamboozlement”, there’s another big word starting to make the rounds. It’s right there in the U.S. Constitution plain as day – “Emolument.”

“No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatsoever, from any King, Prince, or Foreign State.”

 Definition of Emolument (Merriam-Webster):

(1) A return arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.

(2) Money you receive from working.

Trump has every intention of keeping business interests intact without restriction, stating: “The law’s totally on my side, meaning, the President can’t have a conflict of interest.”

Trump’s projects, loans and business deals include such things as hundreds of millions owed to Deutsche Bank in Germany, an institution from which Federal regulators are now seeking a $14 billion dollar fine for issuing toxic loans during the 2008 housing crisis.

Trump companies are also hundreds of millions in debt to the Bank of China, owned by the government of China – a nation directly competing with us for worldwide influence. These are just two highlights from extensive holdings all over the planet.

Will the new Republican Congress provide the consent Constitutionally required for Donald to do as he will? I’m herein asking our newly re-elected Fourth District Representative, Tom McClintock, for his take in this matter. I trust you’ll do likewise.

I also hope I see you this Saturday morning at Denny’s for “Homeless for The Holidays: 2016”. That’s the theme for our December meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. Mike Rhodes, noted progressive journalist and former editor of Fresno’s “Community Alliance” newspaper, will join us for a discussion of his book, “Dispatches from the War Zone.” We’ll also be reviewing election results and wondering — where do we go from here?

As we – Rock On.

“Still lookin’ for that blue jean, baby queen.

Prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.

See her shake on the movie screen, Jimmy Dean.”

 David Essex – “Rock On” (1973)

 

 

 

“Goodbye Medicare”

November 20, 2016

medicare-sign

At the risk of appearing unduly self-aggrandizing, perhaps even petulantly annoying, please allow me to repeat an observation originally expressed on April 2nd, 2015.

“Now – only one man stands in their way. 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.”

 I was writing about how Barack Obama alone could be counted on to block any efforts by a new Republican Congress to gut Medicare.

Obviously, this will no longer be true after January 20, 2017.

Ominously, the writing’s on the wall.

President-Elect Trump is now stating that he is about to “modernize” Medicare with the help of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Ryan’s been trying to phase out Medicare and replace it with private insurance for several years. It will be based on a voucher system. Everyone will get a certain amount of money from the government to buy the best policies available on a free market, “free” in this instance potentially meaning unregulated – and expensive. If your voucher won’t cover the cost of adequate protection, maybe that serves you right for not setting aside enough retirement money back when you could. It’s really your own fault. Don’t blame the Speaker of the House. He hopes you’ve learned your lesson.

Mr. Ryan will finally enjoy a unified Republican government under Trump’s leadership or lack thereof and has signaled he will rush things along to realize his goal of establishing a “patient-centered health system” – whatever that might be — other than warm and fuzzy words that suggest everything and promise nothing.

But wait. Trump has guaranteed he wouldn’t touch Medicare.

Oops. Looks like the joke’s on us.

The Trump transition team has now gone on record unequivocally stating that the boss should certainly not be taken “literally” for “things he says in public.” Those are just words. Such clarification was presented to representatives of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before Abe’s hastily arranged meeting with Donald last Thursday. Shinzo was trusting that perhaps Tokyo won’t have to built their own nuclear weapons after all. Are there kits for that sort of thing?

They got together at Trump Tower, now informally designated as a new “White House North” – where President Trump apparently will be spending most weekends back in the glitter and gold of his mighty erection — away from the depressing slums of our nation’s capitol city, including a certain decrepit old building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It doesn’t have escalators. Call in the bulldozers.

Melania has already announced that she and Barron won’t be moving to Washington. Unfashionable.

The only horrible thing about New York to Trump & Company is that residents of Manhattan insolently voted for Hillary Clinton over the Trump/Pence ticket 86.4% to 9.9%. That’s not a typo. But that’s why Vice President-Elect Mike “Poodle” Pence shouldn’t have been particularly surprised when he encountered considerable booing Friday night when he sat way down front at the Richard Rogers Theater. He wanted up close enjoyment of the red-hot Broadway hit, “Hamilton”. Poodle got more than he came for.

At the conclusion of the musical, Brandon Victor Dixon (in the major role of Aaron Burr) acknowledged that Pence was in attendance, thanked him for being there and added an appeal to “uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” The audience broke out in applause and cheers. Not the Trumpster.

In yet another dazzling display of tenuous temperament and shrieking insecurities, Trump tweeted from the Tower, “Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of “Hamilton”. This should not happen. Apologize!” Sunday morning he upped the ante. “The cast and producers of “Hamilton” which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior.”

 Sunday’s thin-skinned twitter fest also took another shot at NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”. Tweeted Trump, “I watched parts of “Saturday Night Live” last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show – nothing funny at all.”

 Here’s what’s not funny. Donald John Trump has not received any sort of meaningful mandate, nor does he reflect the majority will of the American people. He is President-Elect only due to an antiquated, archaic legal technicality known as The Electoral College, having lost popular support by well over a million and a half votes. His transition team shows every sign of backward motion at blinding speed. We are being shattered.

Here comes the night.

“The long and lonely night” – Van Morrison (1965)

“Free Fall”

November 13, 2016

Donald Trump

It was the greatest political upset in American history.

We are in free fall.

I’m still reeling from the shock. As national returns starting scrawling across the screen, it was like being nailed with a 2′ by 4′ right between my eyes, again and again. Even if I enjoyed that sort of thing, Election Night 2016 wasn’t any fun.

No one knows what Donald J. Trump is going to do, particularly Donald J. Trump. They say a chimp on a computer keyboard, given enough time and random opportunities, will eventually write “Romeo and Juliet” — word for word. So the Trumpster DOES have a chance to make America White Again. I mean Right. I mean Great.

In fact, I have one desperate fantasy. There does seem to be potentially persuasive evidence suggesting that Donald Trump is a savant.

The word savant is derived from the Latin “sapere,” meaning, “to be wise.” “Savant syndrome” is defined as a condition in which a person with a developmental disability, such as autism spectrum disorder, demonstrates profound capabilities far in access of that which could be considered normal. Savants often exhibit highly functioning behavior combined with obsessive compulsions, simultaneously displaying pronounced deficits in social and language skills. I’m not making this up.

John Pero is my favorite local Tea Party person. He and I were congenially discussing the pending Trump presidency last Thursday night at Tom Wheeler’s Town Hall Meeting. I pointed out to John that I would have preferred Ted Cruz or any other clearly Conservative leader to Trump purely for purposes of predictive clarity. I know where they stand. Trump?

The Donald’s past pronouncements on certain progressive issues sure sound like Bernie Sanders. Rebuilding our crumbing infrastructure? Expanding Social Security? Reforming an economic system that enables billionaires to not pay a penny in federal income tax? Retaining critical aspects of The Affordable Health Care Act? Renegotiating NAFTA and other trade deals unfairly balanced against U.S. interests? Ending any further pursuit of a Trans-Pacific Partnership? Count me in.

But then there are such items as lifting restrictions on fossil fuel production, cancelling millions of dollars in payments for U.N. climate change programs, appointing new justices to the Supreme Court pledged to reverse Roe vs. Wade, deporting millions of “illegals”, banning Muslims from our shores, ignoring the plight of Syrian refugees victimized by terrorism, opening the door to Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition, repeatedly offering horrid examples of appropriate adult conduct to impressionable children and so on. Count me out.

Two old friends from Michigan were back in the news right before the election.

Far right Ted Nugent, with whom I worked dozens of times through the ‘60’s and ‘70’s as a rock concert promoter, introduced the Trumpster before a cheering throng of blue collar workers in Grand Rapids on the last night of the campaign. I watched incredulously as Trump wildly promised he would bring the auto industry back from overseas – or wherever — with “big league pay.” The crowd went wild.

Far left Michael Moore, whom I introduced to an unsuspecting public on WTAC’s “Radio Free Flint”, predicted Trump would win way back in August and vaulted to top spot in iTunes sales that same evening with “Trumpland” – a film he tossed together at the last minute. Mike’s been back on all the network talk shows ever since. He says the Democratic Party and Hillary took far too much for granted — believing working class support for Secretary Clinton would be inherently automatic. This turned out to be a fatal miscalculation.

Even FBI Director James Comey’s unforgettable, unforgiveable, blundering, thundering, utterly witless impact on the election would not have proved the fatal tipping point it was — were it not for deep seeds of discontent previously sown and inarticulately addressed.

Descend we now to a future uncertain and unforeseeable.

Consider the first two schizophrenic twitter tweets of our President Elect less than 48 hours after the polls closed as he watched thousands upon thousands of protestors march spontaneously in dozens of cities against his ascension to prominence:

6:19 PM – “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

3:14 AM – “Love the fact that the small group of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud.”

In the immortal words of the late Jackie Gleason, “Away we go!”

 How optimistic ring the words of The Rolling Stones in their classic anthem with which Trump closed his victory speech early Wednesday morning:

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes — you just might find –you get what you need.”

A trying time has begun.

“Snow On The Water”

November 8, 2016

 prince-charlie-final

 I wish Charlie were here.

 Charlie Speights was one of my oldest and dearest friends for more than half a century. He passed away in June at the age of 88.

 He’s exactly the guy I’d go to for insightful commentary during crazy times such as these, although we did have several occasions to discuss the whole Donald Trump deal before he departed. Charlie couldn’t believe such a thing as Trump was happening. Not in America.

 I first met Charlie in January of 1964 when I arrived in Flint for my 7-Midnight DJ shift on WTAC. He had played trumpet as a young man with a horn back in the late ‘40’s when he was still in his early 20’s, working with such notables with Ray Anthony, Claude Thornhill, and Jimmy Dorsey. After he married and settled down in Flint, Charlie looked for “the next best thing to a real job” — deciding a radio career perfectly fit the bill.

 Charlie was WTAC’s Vice President & General Manager when I arrived on the scene, but was always much more coach than boss. I never heard him raise his voice in anger. He was very active expressing progressive thinking, sharing his perspectives with weekly editorials over WTAC’s powerful signal throughout much of Michigan and surrounding states. When George McGovern visited Flint in 1972 as he ran for President, it was Charlie who introduced Senator McGovern before a cheering crowd of autoworkers – at that time enjoying the enviable distinction of being highest paid factory workers in the history of the world.

When I wanted to introduce “Radio Free Flint” with locally controversial Michael Moore into WTAC’s Sunday morning programming, Charlie not only provided permission, but happily and expertly ran extended interference for us against more conservative elements in the community, particularly General Motors. He left broadcasting in 1974 and headed for Las Vegas, where he paid his union hall dues and returned to show business, spending a number of years back on trumpet, playing behind all sorts of major stars at all the big casinos.

 Charlie is very much on my mind as I write this column early Saturday afternoon. Election 2016 is still three days away, but I’m taking a break and heading down to Palm Desert. There’s a special “Remembrance Celebration of Life” being held in Charlie’s memory on Sunday, put on by his friends at Desert Falls Country Club, where they’ve already installed a permanent commemorative plaque in his honor. He was that rare sort of a guy — earning that kind of lasting respect without even trying. I wouldn’t miss Charlie’s party for all the tea in the Tea Party.

 When this week’s paper is published, November 10th, it will be ten years to the day since Eileen and I arrived in Oakhurst.

 We drove across the country from Michigan to California in a twenty-two-foot Penske Rental Truck containing all of our earthly belongings, including two cats and a cockatiel named Clancy. Every few hours Charlie would call from his condo in Palm Desert as he tracked our journey West with pins on a map. He was glad we were finally moving closer.

 We visited Charlie and his wonderful wife, Toby Meyers Speights, a number of times in subsequent years, including an extended stay with them at Incline Village on Lake Tahoe, where Charlie and Toby had rented a house over the 4th of July Weekend in 2008. Charlie was in his 80th year, but was still running all over the place. I could barely keep up. We bought this cool German Shepherd named “Captain Mike” several beers at a cowboy hang out in Truckee. “Captain Mike” put his great big doggie feet right up on the bar and lapped those suds out of a giant glass ashtray filled to the brim with bubbly Bud Light. It was cool.

 Charlie always said he really didn’t miss radio at all. He felt the whole business and, in fact, much of what seems important in life at any given point is ultimately just “snow on the water.” He always felt everyone should just slow down, relax and enjoy the ride. He’d say, “What, me hurry?”

 There’s no doubt in my mind that “snow on the water” is how Charlie would summarize this last year and a half of national political insanity.

 The phrase is from an Incredible String Band song called “Big Ted”.

 “Big Ted’s dead and gone.

  Gone like snow on the water.

  Goodbye.”

 Election 2016?

 Goodbye.

 More on Charlie?

 https://petercavanaugh.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/charlie/