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"Twitterdee Dum"

Twitterdee Dum”

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Peter Cavanaugh

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Copyright 2017 by Peter Cavanaugh

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Shakespir Edition

 

 

 

FOREWORD

“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.”

 

2016 was a curious year as we pause at the precipice of -- who knows what?

 

Not me.

 

The above quote and the title of this compendium are actually from my first column of 2017 published January 5^th,^ in the Sierra Star. That’s how this will end.

 

We now recede chronologically – jumping back in time and proceeding from January 2016 onward.

 

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 who on earth might have been so inexcusably irresponsible as to bring about election of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States.

 

Not me.

 

Peter Cavanaugh

Oakhurst, California

January 1, 2017

 

[* Chapter One -- “Flashback 2016” *]

 

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 12^th.^ “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!

 

 

Chapter Two – “The Whole World is Watching”

 

 

 

With a New Year come new rules.

 

Push must become shove.

 

As the first presidential primaries are drawing near with actual votes about to replace polling predictions, the Republican Party faces a nightmare.

 

While proudly reaffirming my own progressive perspectives, I passionately believe a clueless clown should not be allowed to shred the heart of the Grand Old Party. There is far too much at stake.

 

Donald Trump’s powerful, seemingly irreversible hold on roughly one-third of those who claim Republican allegiance is terrifyingly primal – appealing to the most base instincts of supporters. He is the meanest monkey on the mountain – furiously flailing his fists, beating his chest and grunting for glory.

 

“I am king!” “I kill!” “Be free!” “Worship me!”

 

While it should be reassuring this scenario still leaves a rational, responsible majority of Republicans securely enjoying two to one dominance over the wild-eyed crazies, such opposition could well be fatally fragmented by the quantity of candidates taking precedence over the quality of their convictions.

 

Herein amiably offered for purposes of internal party reflection, although written in another era under different circumstances, these time-treasured words of a true American Patriot come to mind:

 

“We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately” –Benjamin Franklin (July 4, 1776) – Upon the signing of The Declaration of Independence.”

 

Although outside looking in, it seems abundantly evident after all those months of boorish behavior, vile temperament and outlandish utterances that Donald Trump is not remotely worthy of trust.

 

Imagine his fat, fatuous finger fixed on our nuclear trigger. Recalling that earlier mountain monkey metaphor, we might as well put a chimp in charge.

 

It would be a shame and horror if Trump should ever triumph over divided opposition and become the official 2016 Republican candidate for our American presidency merely because worthy contenders simply couldn’t get out of each others’ way --- ironically offering a tragic demonstration of the perils of self-interest aligned against a common good.

 

Could a Tea Party coalition come to the rescue? Dennis Patrick was once a prominent aide in the Reagan administration and is a former head of the Federal Communications Commission. He summarizes the plight faced by many. “Many of my colleagues from the Reagan administration would have a hard time pulling the lever for Trump. We weren’t just Republicans, we were conservatives. It is very difficult to square any principled theory of conservative governance with much of what Trump says.”

 

Way over on the Left, my old friend Michael Moore discussed a meeting he once had with “The Donald” 17 years ago while waiting to mutually appear on a national talk show. The program’s producer pulled Mike aside and informed him that Trump was “nervous” about being on the air with the famously confrontational documentary director and requested that Mr. Trump be put at ease. Michael was happy to do so as he and Donald privately spoke behind the scenes. In a public letter last week to Trump, Moore wrote: “I was struck by how you, a self-described tough guy from Queens, seemed like such a ‘fraidy-cat. You and I went on to do the show. I didn’t pull your hair. I didn’t put gum on your seat. All I remember thinking was, “What a wuss!””

 

Ultimately, it now appears that Donald Trump could well do even more damage to the Republican Party by running as -- rather than against -- its nominee.

 

Should Hillary Clinton become our 45th President, I would infinitely prefer her winning against admirable opposition than defeating an obnoxious oaf. There’s but marginal merit in vanquishing vermin.

 

As an American, I honestly believe we’re better than that.

 

The whole world is watching.

 

 

Chapter Three – “Breakout for Bernie”

 

 

Bernie was best.

 

That long- tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs ducked and weaved and shimmied and shook all the way through Sunday’s Democratic Debate like Tony Dorsett for the Dallas Cowboys in ’83. Remember? 99 yards from scrimmage to touchdown – the longest run in NFL history! The wild, crazy, unlikely turns of fate these last two playoff weeks are making me think the old goat might just have a chance.

 

I hasten to add that Bernie and I were born on the same date – September 8, 1941.

 

I was highly enthusiastic that we might elect our first female President this year, initially abandoning such hope when Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts chose not to run, then reluctantly accepting the fact that we might have to settle for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton – baggage and all.

 

As far as I’m concerned, Hillary’s “baggage” has nothing to do with “Benghazi” or “Email“ or “Possible Federal Indictments” or any other nonsensical right wing fantasy bubbling forth from the frothing caldron of hate-filled talk radio -- or even the wild ways of a wandering Willie.

 

Hillary’s baggage includes an uncomfortably close association with big money, a disturbing reticence to acknowledge such and, most of all, a marked tendency to blithely resort to fabrication in the pursuit of ambition.

 

During Sunday’s debate, Senator Sanders characterized Secretary Clinton’s attacks on his gun control record and health plan ideas as being “duplicitous.” I would more bluntly use the word, “deceitful” and alarmingly so.

 

Hillary’s shrill accusations that Bernie will “tear up the Affordable Care Act, hike taxes on the middle class and push our country into a contentious debate with Republicans” is a gross distortion.

 

Senator Sanders courageously states that he wants “Medicare for All” with a single payer, universal health care system that covers every American as a basic human right.

 

Bottom line? Each dollar you now pay for insurance premiums would be replaced by sending half as much to a collective fund – this action now termed a “tax hike” by Hillary rather than what it actually is – part of a viable plan to save the average middle class American household five thousand dollars a year. That’s hard-earned cash back in your pocket -- even if this upsets Republicans.

 

Republicans have enough to be upset about these days without any help from the Democratic Party. I would give an alphabetical grade to the GOP debate of last Thursday from South Carolina, but, alas, there are no letters after “Z”.

 

Ted Cruz wants to nuke Tehran for embarrassing us by detaining American sailors who were released the very next day despite their inexplicable violation of Iranian waters only hours before President Obama’s final State of the Union address to Congress. Ticklish timing.

 

Marco Rubio appears more and more like a pugnacious pug. Down, doggie, down!

 

And The Donald --- is The Donald – a billionaire with a trillion red ties.

 

And why does former front-runner Jeb Bush always seem on the verge of tears?

 

The rest of the field is inconsequential -- as is O’Malley with the Democrats – more decoration than meaningful declaration.

 

Definitely of consequence was January’s Tea Party Meeting here in Oakhurst at the Best Western Gateway Inn on January 12th  that enjoyed overflowing attendance for a talk by Tony Gurule on Islam and Sharia Law. Invited by my friend, Central Valley Coordinator John Pero , I found Tony’s address informative and instructive, although final conclusions drawn might differ from my own subjective analysis. Still, it was A+ in presentation and provided a valuable learning experience.

 

Folks in my old hometown of Flint, Michigan, are learning that pennies saved can bring a nightmare earned.

 

Attempting to limit spending on a basic necessity, State government decided the Flint River should be used as a supply source instead of slightly more expensive Great Lakes water, bringing on extensive lead poisoning of the entire city population for well over a year. There was a cover up.

 

And even as Bernie Sanders keeps climbing the polls in his historic rise against the most uneven distribution of wealth in our nation’s history, what other two words mean “corporate greed?”

 

Delaware North.

 

We’ve been victimized and violated.

 

Ripped off.

 

No thanks for the memory.

 

 

Chapter Four – “Town Hall Tonight”

 

 

 

It wasn’t until Eileen and I moved to Oakhurst that I had the time and interest to become more actively involved in the political process, especially on a localized level.

 

It was almost ten years ago in November of 2006 that we left Michigan and headed west, the same week Tom Wheeler was first elected Supervisor in Madera County’s Fifth District.

 

Beginning his second year of a third term in office, Tom will be holding a Town Hall Meeting tonight from 6 till 8 at the Oakhurst Community Center. He doesn’t need any help attracting a large turnout, but I thought I would add my own strong endorsement and suggestion to be there. It’s a fine opportunity to become engaged in responsible and accountable democracy in action.

 

For those not familiar with the format, here’s a brief rundown of what to expect.

 

Boredom is not on the list. Get there just a bit early. Tom starts right on time and works from a prepared agenda, keeping things moving right along in a concise, speedy, entertaining manner from start to finish. He invites a few additional figures from our community to bring everyone up to date on various projects and events coming our way on the immediate horizon.

 

Tonight we’ll meet Denise Tolmie, a new District Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service and hear from our old friend, Darin Soukup, formerly Executive Director of the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce and now Director of the Oakhurst College Center.

 

Michael Baird of Oakhurst Community Alliance will discuss the Community Disaster Relief Fund, followed by Madera County Transit Manager Jerome Jackson with an update on community connections. Dexter Marr of Environmental Health will briefly address onsite wastewater treatment and Troy Cheek, Battalion Chief of Madera County Cal Fire, will present his latest projections for 2016. Despite recent, widely welcomed precipitation, the drought is far from over.

 

Then Supervisor Wheeler and other county staff members and officials will discuss county and district issues – with questions and comments from the audience enthusiastically encouraged. It’s a wide-open forum. Such interactivity with Tom and everyone involved is really what sets these get togethers apart from other assemblies of a similar, but significantly less participatory nature.

 

What’s happening with Chukchansi now that the casino is once again open? What’s the deal on those new motels on 41 across from The Oak Room? How about that 670-acre open pit rock quarry at the corner of highways 41 and 145 proposed by Vulcan Materials?

 

Tom Wheeler’s Town Hall Meetings are your best opportunity to find out first hand what’s happening in and around Eastern Madera County.

 

Citizen involvement is crucial to American democracy. While national and state issues and our influence upon them remain separated from us by definition and distance, your chance to become a “high information voter” locally is only minutes away this very night at the Community Center. It’s a two-way deal.

 

Representative government requires ongoing dialogue between the elected and actively concerned constituents. Successful governance is never automatic. Success requires days and weeks and months of hard work. It surely doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Supervisor Wheeler holds these Town Hall exercises to inform, but even more importantly -- to be informed. He listens. And learns. Then more effectively leads.

 

We’re fortunate to enjoy Tom’s ubiquitous community presence, proven dedication and fierce devotion to the duties of office.

 

If Supervisor Wheeler might find such public praise the source of personal embarrassment, as I fear he might, I herein apologize for such discomfort.

 

But in an age dominated by negativity, I truly believe positive press should be given when energetically earned, consistently evidenced and thoroughly merited.

 

Good guys usually finish first, bringing the rest of us along for the ride.

 

Thank you, Tom.

 

 

Chapter Five – “Flint”

 

Peter Cavanaugh & Michael Moore (1985)

 

 

It was home to the highest paid factory workers in the entire civilized world.

 

Then it became a city abandoned by many and cited by all in scholarly national narratives on the pitiful plight and awesome blight of post-industrial America.

 

Today headlines scream that its children are poisoned, many permanently so -- as tempers flair, fingers point and the future darkens even more over a town turning to dust.

 

In all the decades I spent in Flint, no one drank the river water. Or swam in it. Or fished in it. You’d have to be crazy.

 

Fresh glacial water from Lake Huron flowed through city taps as the Great Sit-down Strike of 1937 brought about recognition of the UAW and rising prosperity for all -- workers and wealthy alike -- in what is recognized by historians as the birth of the American Middle Class. I learned much from old men who had mattered.

 

Michael Moore’s stunningly prescient “Roger & Me” was filmed on the streets of Flint in the late ‘80’s. Observing its 25th birthday in 2014, “Roger & Me” correctly predicted the demise of American industry, beginning with corporate abandonment of the epitomic factory town.

 

I had introduced Mike to an unsuspecting public over WTAC-AM and WWCK-FM in the late ‘70’s with a program called “Radio Free Flint.” It ran Sunday mornings from 8 until 10 -- a live, unrehearsed talk show with minimal censorship and an accent on challenging involvement. Our radio station switchboard would light up like a Christmas tree.

 

On one program Michael featured an extended segment interviewing the head of the Flint National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) appearing with the Grand Dragon of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan. They got along fine. This was in 1982 when WWCK became the highest-rated Rock Station in America and won a National Billboard Magazine Award for “Best Local Programming – All Markets.”

 

Mike was back in Flint last week seeking the resignation and arrest of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for hapless leadership, criminal negligence and grand malfeasance in office. I know that’s strong. But look what happened.

 

In the great Flint Diaspora following “Roger and Me ” years, the city’s population was cut in half, leaving barely 100,000 suffering souls -- 56% minority African-American. Of these, 41.5% are living well below Federal poverty levels. A quarter of Flint families have an annual income of less than $15,000 a year.

 

Flint’s drinking water became contaminated in April of 2014 when a state-appointed emergency manager reporting directly to the Republican governor’s office was running the city. To save money, city government was ordered by the State of Michigan to abandon its use of Lake Huron sources and draw water directly from the Flint River. Along with other consequences of pollution, the river water turned out to be markedly acidic and highly corrosive, leaching lead from pipes and fixtures – many over a century old.

 

Originally denying any problems existed, only after a year and a half in October of last year did the governor’s office allow the city to switch back to input from Lake Huron, except irreparable damage had already been done. The fresh water surged into ruined, deteriorated plumbing. Too little too late.

 

Estimated cost of repair? A quarter of a billion dollars. Time frame if such funds can be raised? Years. Population effected? Anyone who drank the water. Number of children already poisoned? Over 8,000.

 

There are no easy answers here, but perhaps a hard lesson has been learned.

 

Expedient political decisions can bring unexpected personal consequences.

 

I offer a powerful reminder to Governor Snyder:

 

Inasmuch as you have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”

 

Matthew, Chapter 25, verse 40

 

 

 

Chapter Six– “Trump Goes Thump”

 

 

He’s a loser.

 

“Unless I win, I would consider this a big, fat, beautiful—and, by the way, a very expensive—waste of time” -- Donald Trump -- Sunday afternoon in Iowa.

 

Of all the thundering headlines following Monday night’s Iowa caucuses, none echoed louder than news that “The Donald” not only lost his first true test as a presidential candidate, but had almost thumped to third place in the process.

 

Trump’s 24.3% performance represented a crushing decline from his Iowa polling averages in recent months, suggesting massive crowd turnouts were probably more due to celebrity appeal than meaningful message.

 

Marco Rubio was nipping right behind Donald’s big behind with 23.1% of the voting – a dramatic upsurge for the youngest GOP hopeful – ever more thirsty in his frenetic bid for the White House.

 

Winning first place in the hearts and minds and tractors and plows of Iowa Republicans was Ted Cruz at 27.7%, pretty much performing as predicted. Cruz rewarded his followers with an interminable, three-quarters of an hour victory speech. Even FOX TV bailed well before it ended.

 

There’s something visually unsettling about Senator Cruz. Perhaps when little angel Teddy Cruz passed through Heaven heading here, another little angel stepped on his head. This would account for more than mere appearance.

 

Then there’s that Canadian question, eh?

 

With Ben Carson in single digits (9.3%) heading back to Florida for “fresh clothes”, his continuation in competition seems unlikely.

 

Rand Paul (4.5%) did a bit better than expected, but Jeb Bush demonstrated irrefutable evidence that when $14.1 million spent in Iowa buys but 2.8% of the final vote (approximately $2,800 for each vote received) – denying the inevitable has become clearly indefensible.

That’s 18 times as much per ballot as winner Cruz, 10 times as much as Marco and 34 times as much as silver medal winner Trump -- no investment chump.

Jeb? Perhaps it’s time to throw in your monogrammed towel.

Everyone below Jeb (Fiorini, Kasich, Huckabee, Christie and Santorum) ended up with less than 2.0%, while former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore came in with a total of twelve (12) votes, putting him in very last place behind “Other”, who attracted 119 fans.

 

Huckabee has announced he is “suspending his campaign”, although not “ending” it, since that would cost money.

 

What’s left? Pun intended, Monday night’s other big story was obviously Bernie Sanders meteoric rise from relative obscurity to tie Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side of things, even as Hillary’s campaign prematurely and ungraciously announced with much of the vote yet uncounted that she had won. In July of 2015 polling, Sanders was behind Hillary Clinton 52% to 33% after initially scoring only single digits when he announced his candidacy. Bernie is a man on the move.

 

While final tabulation Tuesday morning projected a Hillary win by the narrowest of margins (49.9% to 49.6%) – such proximity would normally require a recount under usual circumstances – but probably won’t. The difference in this instance is fundamentally of no consequence. Hillary was landing 22 delegates to the national convention, while Bernie nailed 21 with one still contested. It will take 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic Party’s nomination in Philadelphia (July 25 – 28), one week after the Republicans choose their nominee in Cleveland. Iowa was the starting gate on a race really just underway.

 

And Democrat Martin O’Malley has joined Mike Huckabee -- riding off the track on separate happy trails into similar sunsets.

 

My head is spinning from all these numbers, making all the more amazing to me how Todd Miller could have so marvelously pulled things together on such short notice and in such a brief period of time.

 

Our first 2016 meeting of The Oakhurst Democratic Club will be held at Denny’s this Saturday with Madera County Auditor/Controller Todd Miller and a presentation entitled: “County Money: Where It Comes From and Where It Goes.”

 

Since becoming Auditor/Controller in June of 2014, having been forced to leap to the rescue by unanticipated circumstance when his predecessor succumbed to a curious case of premature retirement, Mr. Miller has seen his office complete the county’s annual audit by its March 31st deadline for the first time in 17 years. This achievement brought about an A1 credit rating from Standard & Poors in July and a $500,000 yearly savings in interest payments alone.

 

And there’s lots more good news too.

 

See you Saturday!

 

 

Chapter Seven – “Taking the Cannoli”

 

 

 

 

“Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this gift.” – Don Corleone – “The Godfather” (1972)

 

Those words ricocheted through my mind last Thursday night during the first “one on one” debate between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders prior to New Hampshire primary voting Tuesday.

 

Hillary was challenging Sanders to provide a specific example proving she was being “paid off” to provide certain services in return for campaign contributions. The subject had come earlier when Anderson Cooper of CNN asked Mrs. Clinton about a payment of $675,000 she received from Goldman Sachs for three speaking engagements. When Cooper questioned the amount, Hillary breezily replied, “Well, that’s what they offered.” Oh.

 

This is the same Goldman Sachs that agreed just last month to pay a civil settlement of up to $5 billion with federal prosecutors in order to take care of claims arising from the marketing and selling of faulty mortgage securities to investors. Believe it or not, this was a good deal.

 

Goldman’s Chairman and Chief Executive Office, Lloyd C. Blankfein, went on record stating, “We are pleased to have reached agreement in principle to resolve these matters.” You bet. In 2014, Bank of America paid over $16.6 billion in a similar deal with governmental agencies, even as JP Morgan was good for another $13 billion in “we’re sorry” money the prior year.

 

Here’s what Chairman/CEO Blankfein said on CNBC last Wednesday about Bernie Sanders’ campaign for President. “It has the potential to be a dangerous moment.” I hope so.

 

For thousands of careers destroyed, trillions of dollars lost and countless lives ruined in 2008’s Wall Street debacle, hardly a single soul has spent a second in the slammer or faced serious criminal charges. Madoff went down big, but had gotten away with his outrageous Ponzi game for decades.

 

For the third quarter of 2015, Goldman Sachs reported a profit of $1.3 billion. During one 16-month period after leaving the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton together received $25 million in fees and professional stipends.

 

Hillary’s main defense when pressed on campaign contributions is that “everybody does it. Even Barack Obama.” And she’s right. The average member of Congress spends have of his or her time soliciting funds for the next election cycle. That’s half their time – all the time.

 

I was particularly struck near the very end of Thursday’s debate when moderator Chuck Todd asked both participants how they would prioritize issues, specifically citing immigration reform, gun control and climate change. Senator Sanders emphatically stated that every subject itemized was functionally secondary to an overriding and unavoidable truth -- nothing meaningful can ever be accomplished, “So long as big money interests control the United States Congress.”

 

This is not a wild, radical, off-the-wall, “revolutionary” idea. It’s a plain, simple, challenging call to duty.

 

Here we go.

 

Only two candidates competing for our nation’s highest office are turning down big money – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

 

Bernie Sanders hasn’t been begging for bucks because he’s raised over $53.6 million in the last four months alone from 1.3 million separate contributors who have each donated an average grand total of $27 apiece. And Donald Trump hasn’t had to grovel for money by the shovel because – “The Donald” IS big money.

 

A new national Quinnipiac poll released late Friday shows Senator Sanders, who was twenty points behind Secretary Clinton just a month ago, now trailing Hillary 44% to 42% -- a statistical tie.

This was then echoed by a brand new Reuters/IPSOS survey indicating Hillary leading Bernie 48% to 45% -- well within a mathematical margin of error.

 

Shazam!

 

Hear the excitement? See the crowds? Feel “The Bern?”

 

The lady and gentleman have started their engines.

 

It’s a real race!

 

 

Chapter Eight – “Little Miss Sneaky”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am about to be politically incorrect.

 

 

As one can easily discern with the quickest of glances at the above picture on this page, I am not an African-American.

 

In fact, I’m pleased to report that I can finally be somewhat more specific about ancestry. That’s thanks to my first cousin, Deanna Drake Denver, who just received results from DNA testing. She passed -- scoring 50% Irish, 21% Europe West, 18% Scandinavian, 3% Iberian Peninsula, 3% West Asian (Caucasus) and 0% Scots Terrier. It’s probable I am similarly configured, perhaps a wee bit heavier with the Irish count, particularly next month on the 17 th.

 

If you saw the Navy SEAL film, “Act of Valor” you’ve seen Deanna on the big screen -- playing the part of “Lt. Rorke’s” mother. Naval Reserve Commander Rorke Denver is Deanna’s actual son. His new TV series, “American Grit”, premieres April 14 th on FOX. That’s called sneaking in a plug.

 

But even though the first 78-rpm record I ever bought was “Hound Dog” by Mama Willie May Thornton (1952) (way before Elvis did it) and despite the fact I never missed James Brown when he came to town (7 shows through the years – right down front) and it’s also true “Parliament and Funkadelic” (led by the spectacularly outrageous George “Atomic Dog” Clinton) was my chosen headline act more than once during Michigan rock concert years, I suppose these things still give me no right to publicly criticize the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee, but here I go.

 

Little Miss Sneaky strikes again.

 

Last Thursday’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders by the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee was rushed by Hillary, her campaign and the 20 member PAC board after Clinton’s 22 point loss to Senator Sanders earlier in the week. The next big test comes this Saturday in South Carolina, where African Americans represent a 55% majority of registered Democrats. But wait. The Black Caucus Political Action Committee is not the same as the 46-member Congressional Black Caucus. That group features only actual members of Congress, including one Republican. And a sharp review of the PAC reveals that the 20 Committee members include 11 lobbyists, many of who have clients in industries that have been vigorously attacked by Sanders during his campaign and, intriguingly, have significantly contributed to Hillary in hers.

 

As Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) properly pointed out, the actual Black Congressional Caucus, to which he belongs, has not yet endorsed anyone, adding, “Endorsements should be the product of a fair, open process. That didn’t happen.”

 

Bernie Sanders record on the fight for civil rights and his consistent struggle for fairness, equality and equity stands the test of time.

 

Way back in the ‘60’s, as a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders was active in both the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1962, he was handcuffed and arrested for protesting segregation in Chicago Public Schools and for distributing flyers throughout the city detailing police brutality to blacks.

 

As tension builds, we watch Secretary Clinton keeping a straight face in debate as she insists she wants to “avoid another contentious fight with Republicans” by “keeping The Affordable Care Act.” Hillary is against moving on to a single payer system and “Medicare for All.” What?

 

The first Republican controlled House vote after Paul Ryan became Speaker early last month was to kill The Affordable Care Act by a margin of 240 to 181. With Senate concurrence (52 – 47), only President Obama’s immediate veto saved the five year-old law.

 

There’s going to be plenty of “contentiousness’” with Republicans over health care no matter what, Hillary. Let’s go for the gold!

 

Or would that upset donors?

 

 

Chapter Nine – “The Nine Lives of Donald Trump”

 

 

 

 

“[_ Now the cat was a terror and he thought that it was best -
to give it to a fella who was headin' out west.
 The train went around the corner and it hit a broken rail.
Not a soul aboard the train was alive to tell the tale. But the cat came back. The cat came back.
 _]

I thought he was a goner, but the cat came back.
‘cause he wouldn’t stay away.”

“The Cat Came Back”

-- Harry S. Miller (1893)

Even his most ardent supporters suspected “The Donald” might finally have done himself in.

In two short days leading up to last Saturday’s South Carolina GOP Presidential Primary, Donald J. Trump told off The Pope and then technically defined our country’s last Republican President as a war criminal. Trump subsequently swept the field in weekend voting -- grabbing top spot and almost all the delegates with double digit leads over runners up Ted “The Single Biggest Liar I Ever Met” Cruz and Marco “I’m Not Even Sure He’s Eligible To Run” Rubio.

As Pope Francis flew back to Rome on Wednesday after concluding a wildly successful visit to Cuba and Mexico, including Mass held at the very border between Mexico and the U.S.A. at Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, the Pontiff responded to a reporter’s question about Trump promising to build a giant wall between the two countries. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they might be, and not building bridges, is not a Christian”, said Francis. Hearing this, Trump characterized the remark as being “disgraceful,” fantasizing that the Holy Father should only hope President Trump is there to fight “when ISIS invades The Vatican.”

On stage with fellow contenders Jeb Bush and John Kasich during that following night’s CNN “Town Hall Debate”, Donald proceeded to explode when Jeb again attempted to depict his brother, George W. Bush, as having “kept us safe after 9/11.”That happened during his reign”, bellowed Trump, adding that the Bush Administration had cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars – creating ISIS in the process by intentionally “lying about weapons of mass destruction.”

“W” was even called in from painting landscapes for some rare appearances hither and yon in South Carolina in support of his younger brother’s candidacy. Our 43rd President, with a hairline having receded even faster than his popularity, seemed a sad site. Despite all, I can’t help but begrudgingly like the guy. “George The Conqueror” surely tried his level best during eight years in office – handicapped by limited reflection, awkward skills and avaricious advisors interested first and foremost in force-feeding an insatiable war machine. Dick Cheney’s not worth $100 million today for past good looks. But even “43” couldn’t help Jeb In his try to be “45.”

Jeb! Bush always did seem to be more a question mark than an exclamation point with his hesitate speech, slouched shoulders and hangdog smile. Seconds after the polls closed Saturday night and seeing only 8% support in his column, he finally and mercifully called it quits.

Donald Trump now seems ready to run the table all the way to a Republican Presidential Nomination in Cleveland come July. If so, our Fourth Congressional District Representative Tom McClintock can look forward to supporting all sorts of interesting ideas, including “bombing the hell out of ISIS”, instituting interrogational torture far past water boarding and other novel – if not nasty -- notions.

If John Gotti was “The Teflon Don”, here we have a genuine “Teflon Donald” with nothing sticking to him other than whatever keeps that thing on his head.

I’ve often written that Trump will never be President and repeat that again, but it surely looks more and more as though he just might become standard-bearer of his Party when all is said and dumb.

Chapter Ten– “It Ain’t Over”

 

 

“It ain’t over till it’s over!” – Yogi Berra (1973)

“Super Tuesday” is now dangerously behind us.

This runaway train known as the 2016 Presidential Election Cycle is charging down the tracks with Donald J. Trump evidently all but done savaging Republican opponents, even as Hillary Clinton seems to be suddenly steamrolling over Bernie Sanders squishity-squish-squish.

Not so fast.

It’s all too crazy to not get crazier.

I find it impossible to believe that the Republican Party will allow itself to be terminally and permanently debased by a raging fool. Similarly, it may be unlikely that Hillary Clinton can gain the White House without continued opposition from disgruntled Sanders supporters led by militant millennials who just don’t buy her act.

What if Trump wins the Republican nomination and the party shatters in two with John Kasich as presidential nominee of a newly revitalized GOP under some other name? He appears to be the single current Trump competitor not completely unhinged and surely deserves growing recognition as “the only adult in the room” among debate participants.

The governor of Ohio brilliantly demonstrated that last Thursday night as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tag teamed against Trump in a heated match that reached epic proportions in an exchange of vile invectives and loutish language – in the process insulting the intelligence of any viewer over the age of 6.

On the Democratic side, forget any problems with “Benghazi.” Mrs. Clinton took care of that herself for eleven-and-a-half hours under oath last October, enduring vicious grilling before a Republican Select Committee dedicated to her destruction. But suppose Hillary ultimately faces federal charges of who knows what springing forth from that current “email investigation?”

Although highly unlikely, this could provide an immediate game changer, as would be any major negative revelation about the millions of dollars flowing into the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as secretary of state and/or her own “speaking fees” through the years.

Quick. Elizabeth Warren? Now you have no choice. Joe Biden? Get back in there. Oprah?

Then we have former Mayor of New York and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg waiting in the wings for someone to seriously falter. There’s always Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal wondering if they might not have given things up and pulled out too soon. That happens. And there’s even Mitt Romney, only days ago pathetically attempting to regain relevance by strangely and uncharacteristically tweeting wild allegations of a “bombshell” hiding in Donald Trump’s tax returns.

How about a four way race on Nov. 8? Donald Trump for President on the Republican ballot vs. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton vs. John Kasich on a “We’re All Not That Nuts” ticket vs. Bernie Sanders as head of a new, insurgent “Let Me Be Even Clearer” movement.

Why stop there?

Let’s add Kim Kardashian and run her for queen, or have Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio joyfully join forces in an energetic “Co-Presidents Can Be Go-Presidents” campaign or watch Dr. Ben Carson sleeping to a win with his “I Can’t Believe No One Ever Notices I’m Always Stoned” Party?

Perhaps instead of Congress, we should have a Parliament with dozens of parties representing views of all hues?

Or have bare-knuckle fist fights on pay-per-view TV to pay down the debt and have the last two standing simply draw straws?

We’ll explore these options and even more this Saturday as the Oakhurst Democratic Club holds its March Meeting at Denny’s with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and a program beginning at 9:30 featuring Public Information Officer Kaci Lutz of the California Highway Patrol. She’ll be speaking on “Cool New Things With The CHP.”

And it’s looking like a complete sell-out this Saturday night at Yosemite High School for the eighth annual “Nite on The Town” – the largest fundraiser of the year for the Yosemite High Music Department. With 100 students performing 30 memorable pieces, I will be assisting Oakhurst’s own Kent Byers in performing Master of Ceremonies duties and look forward to the “Nite” with great enthusiasm, and more than a slight measure of appropriate trepidation at being asked to take part in such a classy affair.

Chapter Eleven – “Stress Test”

 

I no longer smoke tobacco. After two and a-half packs a day for forty years, I stopped while living in Youngstown when I almost stopped living in Youngstown. It was a Saturday night – May 16th, 1998. Something felt catchy in the middle of my chest.

There was an Irish anesthesiologist from Killarney with whom I was happily chatting until he whispered, “Here’s a little magic” and applied his craft, instantly initiating extensive orgasmic bliss. I thoroughly enjoyed my quadruple bypass.

 

In the almost eighteen years and five subsequent stents since, I have become remarkably consistent following doctors’ orders -- more or less – faithfully losing fifty pounds of waddling weight in my daily walks up 425A and avoiding such former practices as ordering triple cheese pizzas with extra cheese, downing a full bag of barbeque chips with dip watching a single episode of “Cops” and drinking beer by the barrel.

 

I was heading for my annual stress test with Dr. Gen in Fresno on Leap Year Day when our 2001 Buick Park Avenue Ultra burst into flames heading up Deadwood, blocking traffic on Highway 41 for an hour or so and making it unnecessary we travel any farther for stress. Eileen and I escaped without a scratch. The Buick did not – concluding its earthly responsibilities in a spectacular, albeit self-inflicted Viking funeral.

 

I cannot adequately express our deep appreciation and heart felt gratitude for the extraordinary efforts extended on our behalf by Cal Fire Engine 4254, Madera County Engine 12, Madera County Sheriff’s deputies, the California Highway Patrol and total strangers who pitched in to help. We’re so glad we live where we do. Walt Disney was right. It’s a small world after all, especially in Oakhurst.

 

CHP Officer Chris Lutz was there on the scene helping to sort things out, direct traffic and make us feel safe on Deadwood, and it was CHP Public Information Officer Kaci Lutz who addressed a jam-packed, spellbound audience last Saturday at Denny’s for our March Meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. We had to squeeze in extra chairs.

 

When Lt. Jason Daughrity became CHP Commander in Oakhurst in January of last year, a high priority item on his agenda was public outreach. Chris married Kaci after they met serving our country in the military. Lt. Daughrity chose Kaci to head up his community campaign. Both are to be congratulated on having made a brilliant decision.

 

As I mentioned to Kaci after I saw her address the crowd at Tom Wheeler’s

Oakhurst Town Hall Meeting in January, if I was still running a radio group, she could write her own ticket in Sales. Residents of Eastern Madera County are most fortunate. Deciding to serve the public and write tickets for the CHP instead, Kaci is providing us with the services of an extraordinarily talented, highly dedicated professional. Her topic Saturday was “Cool New Things with the CHP!” Democratic Club members would put Kaci at the top of the list. And they’re a tough bunch to please. Trust me.

 

Kent Byers graduated from Yosemite High in 1981 and has since gone on to a remarkable career producing world class events involving decades of experience, including the presentation of halftime Super Bowl shows, the Golden Gate 50th Anniversary Celebration and Opening Ceremonies for the 1984 Olympic Games.

 

As Founder and CEO of “Events by Kent” headquartered here in Oakhurst, Kent enjoys a sterling national reputation for his expertise in staging projects big and small for clients such as United Airlines, Sony PlayStation, Nestle USA and the Seagram Company.

 

And he’s a fabulous Master of Ceremonies, so it was a particular honor working with him Saturday night at the Eighth Annual Yosemite High School “Nite on the Town.”

 

Yosemite High School Choir Director Christel Biasell and YHS Music Director Francisco Marquez are to be congratulated on staging a truly extraordinary event, as are the 100 students who directly participated, as well as their family and friends.

 

Paraphrasing The Beatles, although the rain came -- no one minded. In fact -- at YHS Saturday night -- the musical weather was particularly fine.

 

 

Chapter Twelve – “The View from Killarney”

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2016.

When the time came to write this week’s column -- due to be published on the blessed day itself -- I decided to ask an old friend in Killarney if he might provide me with his own insights into this year’s American Presidential Primary season.

Finbarr Slattery is a legend in County Kerry. We became acquainted when Eileen and I were visiting Killarney on our first trip to Ireland in 1992. For many years, Mr. Slattery wrote a brilliant weekly column in The Kingdom newspaper and has been published around the world, including Time Magazine. We kept in touch for quite some time.

Alas, I have just learned that Finbarr, housebound and well into his 90s, has become extremely frail, But his former editor at The Kingdom, which sadly ceased publication in January of 2011, now comes to our rescue.

John O’Mahony is editor and publisher of KillarneyToday.com, a daily online news, sports and current affairs service in Killarney, Co Kerry – Ireland’s best known tourism town. Thousands of miles away from the relentless political pounding we receive around the clock, here’s a March 17th perspective provided at a discerning distance from the land of saints and shamrocks, courtesy of the graciously accommodating Mr. O’Mahony.

Ireland’s slow to play the Trump card”

 The President of the United States of America has always been well within the promotional radar of those charged with the responsibility of boosting Irish tourism and finding reason – any reason – to throw a party. 

It started with JFK in June 1963 when he sipped tea at his ancestral home in Dunganstown, County Wexford. That’s a visit that remains one of the most celebrated and poignant occasions in Irish history. 

But it didn’t end there. Ballyporeen, County Tipperary did likewise with President Reagan after he came calling to the land of his roots in 1984.

 The sleepy County Offaly village of Moneygall has built a busy plaza and museum dedicated to President Obama following his all too brief visit in May 2011 to the little rural hamlet where his great-great-great grandfather on his mother’s side once walked the land. 

Both Bush Presidents came calling, as did President Nixon when he visited his own ancestors’ graves in County Kildare in October 1970. But the charismatic President Clinton spent so much time in Ireland between 1995 and 2000 that he ran the risk of developing freckles and a fondness for creamy porter.

Despite the great history between American presidents and the Irish people, it would appear that there is no great clamor to fast track an invitation to Donald Trump. 

Besides, Donald Trump doesn’t need to avail of Irish hospitality as he already has a pretty impressive place to lay his head following his purchase of the stunning Doonbeg Resort and Country Club out of bankruptcy in February 2014.

Despite his barnstorming, electrifying successes in the Primary season, few people in Ireland are still taking the Trump campaign very seriously. They should, but refuse to.

 That he is likely to secure the Republican nomination is greeted with sheer disbelief and loud barstool guffaws.

The Donald’s take on immigration has greatly irritated the Irish people. His stance on foreign policy is pretty scary. Building walls when the rest of the world is knocking them down defies logic. His bullish nature and brash swagger is not going down well in a country where people like those in power to remain modest and unassuming.

 Sanders, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich are largely unknown in Ireland. When it comes to their chances of kicking off their slippers under the White House bed, the view here is that there is more of a possibility of spotting a snake slithering down O’Connell Street on St Patrick’s Day.

 Ireland loves a Clinton. For all his faults Bill remains a national hero for his commitment to bring peace to Northern Ireland. He treated the Irish people with respect, dignity and compassion. That was appreciated. And it won’t be forgotten, 

So Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the campaigner Ireland is rooting for. She doesn’t possess her husband’s charisma. She’s prone to more than an occasional foul up, bleep and blunder, and she often comes across as having a tendency to be single-minded, calculating and divisive.

 But she’s a Clinton. And if Hillary is good enough for America, then she is most welcome into the Irish parlor, where there will be a welcome on the mat, a kettle on the boil and the best bone china in the village awaiting.

Just as long as she brings himself with her.

John O’ Mahony

Killarney, Ireland

Chapter Thirteen – “Both Sides Now”

 

 

 

Politico scores him at one major new lie for every five minutes he speaks.

 

PolitiFact reports that more than three-quarters of his formal pronouncements are “mostly or totally false.”

 

FactCheck says he “tramples the truth.”

 

Donald Trump repeatedly lies about so many things at every turn, often contradicting himself several times in the same breath. Any attempt to discern lucidity in his rambling diatribes is doomed to failure. One might as well attempt to adequately describe the color of air.

 

The man is an utter fraud. The fact he is capturing such a loyal, fanatical following should bring deep pause and sleepless nights to all but the badly bewildered. Disregarding this danger is unpatriotic and un-American.

 

To his credit, our own 4th Congressional District Representative Tom McClintock has not succumbed to the trumpeting call of deceitfully deranged Donald. Tom is supporting Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during these final primary days. For resigning from the House Freedom Caucus last September and observing that this ultra right-wing group had displayed “hardball tactics that undermines conservative goals”, Mr. McClintock should also receive congratulatory recognition – herein extended.

 

Things are coming to a head on both sides of the political spectrum.

 

Recognizing that Senator Bernie Sanders may be nearing the end of his long sought, valiantly fought, immeasurably impressive presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton could well make history as our first female President. If that’s so, why not double our pleasure and double our fun by choosing Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as her running mate?

 

I was first introduced to Senator Warren in Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story.”

At the time, she was chair of a Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout that involved hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. When Michael asked her in the film where the money went, she candidly replied with genuine frustration and refreshing candor, “I don’t know” -- a question that remains largely unanswered to this day.

A seemingly perfect choice to develop and oversee a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren was named as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on September 17, 2010, then went on to earn her nickname “Sheriff of Wall Street” -- ruffling more than a few feathers outside and inside the Obama Administration.

Five years ago while testifying before a congressional panel, Warren questioned the scope of state and federal investigations into alleged mortgage abuses and illegal foreclosures perpetrated by the nation’s largest mortgage companies, marking the very first time a senior White House official publicly broke ranks with the President over the issue and raising fresh questions about the wisdom of the government’s rush to settle with the firms.

She testified that government agencies might not have sufficiently investigated claims that banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial illegally seized borrowers’ homes.

Four days later, bowing to heavy political pressure, President Obama announced Warren was being passed over as his choice to become permanent Director of the very organization she had created, instead choosing to nominate Warren’s second-in-command, thus caving in to those who decided Elizabeth Warren was being far, far too serious in her quest for meaningful banking regulations and reform.

Since she couldn’t beat the boys in the Senate, this former Harvard Law Professor decided to join them. Running for office against heavy odds and big money thrown against her, Senator Warren was elected to replace Scott Brown in November of 2012. Elizabeth Warren is now Senior Senator from Massachusetts -- offering impeccable credentials -- having consistently proven herself these last few years as an unwavering voice of progressive thought.

 

Senator Warren offers the Democratic ticket a perfect answer to those concerned about maintaining the allegiance and passion of youth this critical election cycle -- without which victory cannot be assured.

 

Yes!

 

Clinton/Warren in 2016!

 

 

Chapter Fourteen – “KOLS-LP”

 

 

It’s a Tennessee mountain point of view[_ . “If you’re gonna have one -- might as well have two! _]” – Miranda Lambert & The Pistol Annies (2011)

 

 

It’s simply a matter of accountability to our community.

 

In certain specific situations, the Federal Communication Commission licenses “Low Power FM” stations to provide geographically limited populations such as Oakhurst with local radio programming otherwise unavailable.

 

Such service is designed to offer area clubs, churches, schools, educational forums and other non-profit organizations an opportunity to discuss issues, promote events, and otherwise exchange thoughts and ideas on an interactive, participatory basis.

 

When the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011 with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “Low Power FM stations are small, but they make a giant contribution to local community programming.”

 

In comparative hearings for “Low Power FM” facilities, applicants are graded on such items as a commitment to “originate locally at least eight hours of programming a day” and “maintain a publicly accessible main studio that has local program origination capability, is reachable by telephone, and is staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.”

 

There are numerous other mandatory technical and regulatory responsibilities -- particularly rigid requirements to maintain a public inspection file, make available for inspection a political file tracking requests for candidate and/or issue discussion, and to regularly file ownership reports in a timely manner.

 

The sudden, mysterious appearance of KOLS-LP (98.5 FM) last summer on our Oakhurst radio dials generated extended inquiry that had now culminated in the filing of a formal complaint with the Federal Communication Commission calling for a full investigation into the construction and operation of this illegal station.

 

I have signed and submitted to the Federal Communications Commission a sworn affidavit stating the following:

 

“Peter Cavanaugh, a resident of Oakhurst, California, hereby states the following under penalty of perjury:

 

I am an occasional listener of radio station KOLS-LP. I have noticed:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A. KOLS-LP does not broadcast any local programming;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. B. It does not have a main studio;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. C. It does not have a political file;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. D. It does not have a public inspection file and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. E. It has not filed ownership reports.

 

I am disappointed that KOLS-LP is in flagrant violation of the Commission’s rules and urge that the Commission initiate an investigation.”

 

After considerable evaluation and review by Washington attorneys and several informal discussions with regulators, it was determined best to file an initial narrative limited to certain easily verifiable technical violations, leaving many other pertinent issues subject to eventual investigative inclusion. Even so, the complaint is 65 pages long.

 

KOLS-LP broadcasts from the roof of a vacation home in Cedar Valley, a full 7.5 miles from our Oakhurst town center at the junction of California Highways 41 and 49. Father Daniel White of Winnetka, California – a Los Angeles suburb – is said to own the home. White is listed as President of “Radio Catholic” – a self-created, nonprofit religious corporation. Although the KOLS-LP call letters are alleged to represent “Our Lady of the Sierra,” Pastor Joel Davadilla did not authorize the project and has stated he knows little about it. Nor does the Diocese of Fresno.

 

100% of current KOLS-LP airtime exclusively consists of national EWTN programming originating in Birmingham, Alabama -- this fare already easily accessible in Oakhurst on Sirius/XM Radio, both Dish and Direct Satellite TV, and via the Internet.

 

Founded by 92 year-old Franciscan nun Mother Mary Angelica, EWTN – ‘Eternal Word Television” is the largest religious media network in the world, reaching over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. EWTN does not permit inclusion of non-Catholic religious programming in its broadcast day.

 

Repeating my closing words from a November column, we need “Community Radio” in Oakhurst to be truly “catholic” in nature, a word defined in Webster’s as being “of general scope or value; all-inclusive; broad in sympathy, tastes and understanding.”

 

That means for all people, parties, pursuits and persuasions.

 

Including input from the 20+ local churches of different denominations highlighted on page 6A of last week’s Easter issue of The Sierra Star.

 

And the 75+ area groups and organizations listed on page 7A’s “Community Calendar.”

 

As intended.

 

 

Chapter Fifteen – “Landmark Legislation”

 

 

 

 

 

This week Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation making California the first state in the nation to approve a $15 minimum hourly wage.

Even though it will be six years until fully realized, this is a landmark achievement and long overdue.

The current minimum wage of $10 will be increased to $10.50 in January of next year, then to $11.00 in January of 2018. It will subsequently be raised $1 a year until it reaches $15 in 2022. Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees will get an extra year to effect these adjustments. Provisions have been made to slow overall implementation in the event unanticipated recessionary or budgetary challenges arise in the future.

With a full one-third of California’s workforce currently being paid the minimum wage and often cynically expected to live on such, arguments that $10 an hour should be regarded as “entry level” compensation exclusively limited to novice employees are as absurd as they are self-serving.

Similarly preposterous is the claim that capitalism and socialism are diametrically opposed – an archaic notion now cleverly revived with sinister malice by the surprisingly well-received presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, his candidacy especially supported by enthusiastic younger demographics. Senator Sanders proposes having the Federal government follow California’s example by increasing the minimum to $15 an hour nationally.

I have previously discussed my own experiences being on both sides of a picket line in earlier days, initially as “Audit Man” for Local 46 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) in Michigan when I was a young DJ at WTAC in Flint, Michigan, then eventually negotiating with the union for management as President and CEO at that same facility ten years later.

This was in Flint -- home of the United Auto Workers and site of the historic 1936 Sit-down strike at General Motors that brought forth a now disappearing American Middle Class.

Flint taught me this:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. (1) Unrestrained unionism yields anarchistic chaos.

*
p<>{color:#262626;}. (2) Unchecked management breeds aristocratic tyranny.

*
p<>{color:#262626;}. (3) Blessed is the balance.

Balance is always a precarious proposition.

There’s a long history of who gets what in return for a day’s work.

Ironically, the first modern wage laws date back to feudal times in 1389 and a decree by King Edward III of England, a wealthy landowner, that set a maximum amount lords and vassals might pay their serfs. The Black Plague of 1348 had decimated the population, seriously driving up labor costs. With a majestic frown, those wages came down. But it wasn’t long before equitable payment to the under classes became tied to the cost of food when a “living wage” was established with “The Statute of Laborers” in 1389.

The pendulum has swung back and forth for centuries.

There can be no doubt that one of the most politically conservative and wildly successful entrepreneurs in American history was the legendary Henry Ford, who shocked his industrial peers in 1914 by introducing the “socialistic travesty” of a “Five Dollar Day” at his plants in Detroit. In fact, Henry’s decision not only immediately doubled workers’ pay, but also reduced their workday from nine to eight hours.

As stated on the Ford Motor Company website, “Workers entered the middle class, and could afford to buy the cars they built. Henry Ford became a hero to millions. And eventually, other manufacturers had to follow suit.”

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 under the Administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt first introduced statutory minimum wages in The United States. This brought about such radical notions as guaranteeing a forty-hour workweek, setting Ford’s eight-hour workday as a national standard, providing time and a half for overtime pay and condemning “oppressive child labor.” As industrialization had moved workers from farms into urban factory employment, children were often preferred as employees since owners considered them more manageable, cheaper and less likely to strike.

And Henry Ford is not the only conservative voice of sound business practice ringing down to us through the years.

It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions” – Sir Winston Churchill – April 28, 1909

Take that, King Edward.

Chapter Sixteen – “Hotter Happenings”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any delusions that Bernie Sanders should be dismissively regarded as a kindly old grandfather type were shattered into shards last Wednesday after the senator unleashed a sharp, heated response to headlines in the Washington Post alleging that Hillary Clinton had declared him “unqualified” to run for President.

 

It’s all in how you look at it.

 

When Mrs. Clinton was specifically asked earlier that day by Joe Scarborough on MSNBC whether Senator Sanders was fit to occupy The White House, she was careful to avoid actually using the word “qualified”, but clearly and cleverly implied he wasn’t – specifically calling into question his overall truthfulness and political expertise. In a speech later that night in Philadelphia, Bernie didn’t hold back – categorically stating that Hillary, herself, was assuredly not “qualified” due to her support of the War in Iraq, her acceptance of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Wall Street and other concerning issues. And Sanders certainly did use the “Q” word. Functionally, according to Webster, that’s the same as the “E” word – as in --“Eligible.”

 

For purposes of clarity, the Constitution states:

 

“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.” Article II, Section I, Clause 5.

 

That’s it. Period. There are no other qualifications or quantifications required to be President.

 

So Hillary and Bernie are both qualified for the presidency, as are Donald Trump, John Kasich and probably Ted Cruz, although he was born in Canada – unnaturally or not. There are probably a hundred million more of us similarly suitable and even Hillary and Bernie have now backed off the subject, but that’s the first time edgy campaign tempers have so dramatically flared in the Democratic race, even as Republican counterparts continue careening toward a colossal collision in Cleveland.

 

It won’t be pretty.

 

Cleveland is Detroit without the panache.

 

July is the hottest month of the year in Cleveland with an average daytime temperature of 83 degrees, accompanied by a sweltering humidity of 86% and relatively restless residents.

 

The 2016 Republican Convention will take place from July 18th through the 21st within the marginally air conditioned confines of Quicken Loans Arena. For a party ostensibly dedicated to decreased governmental borrowing, pardon me for noting a certain irony in choice of venue.

 

It now appears certain that attendees will either face the nightmare of an immediate first vote Donald Trump victory -- or more probably encounter the potentially worse horror of a wildly contested, no holds barred, wide open convention --- brokered, if not ultimately broken.

 

Not to be outdone by the G.O.P. in saluting financial institutions or enduring heavy heat, The National Democratic Convention is scheduled for the following week from July 25th through the 28th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with an average daytime temperature of 87 degrees and 93% humidity.

 

The Democratic nomination still appears Hillary’s to lose, although Bernie Sanders has already so far achieved the impossible in his incredible run against formidable odds, enjoying recent victories in state after state.

 

Next Tuesday’s New York primary is obviously critical. An unanticipated win there and subsequent miracle victories up through our own California voting on June 7th could bring about one of the most significant political shifts in American history and genuine initiation of the desired revolution at the heart of Sander’s campaign.

 

Bernie is polling better than Secretary Clinton against all possible Republican opponents, consistently demonstrating superior strength among the young and with independent voters.

 

And November remains more than a full half-year away.

 

 

Chapter Seventeen – “Saudi Duty Time”

 

 

It’s a duty they owe the free world.

 

It’s high time for Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family, a.k.a. “the government,” to step up and accept responsibility for their clandestine involvement in fueling radical Islamic terrorism in recent years and, as well, to provide significantly increased economic and military aid driven by dedicated Arab leadership in a unified international effort to crush ISIS at home and abroad.

 

Anything less perpetuates an unacceptable status quo.

 

President Obama traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia yesterday to discuss counterterrorism and regional security threats with Gulf state allies. Subjects under review are bolstering missile defense systems, dealing with escalating threats from cyber hacking and possibly a particularly thorny issue that has arisen with the Saudi regime over potential financial liability stemming from the 9/11 attacks on New York’s Twin Towers.

 

Although generally ignored by a national media currently diverted into incessant, round the clock, blow by blow coverage of this election cycle’s pugilistic presidential primaries, it turns out that Congress is about to conclude consideration of bipartisan legislation that has the Saudis issuing ominous threats.

 

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator John Cornyn (R- Texas) are co-sponsoring a slightly revised version of “JASTA” – the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.” This bill, under discussion for the last several years, would allow victims of terrorism to pursue foreign states and individual supporters of terrorism with direct financial damage claims in American courts. It would also prohibit the invocation of “sovereign immunity” as a defense against such liability, specifically when an American is killed on American soil.

This measure is now up for final approval in the Senate as S. 2040 and before the House as H.R. 3815. It stands in stark contrast to business as usual in this bitterly divided 114th Congress. Along with heavy support from Schumer and Cornyn, it enjoys backing from an unlikely coalition of liberal and conservative senators such as Al Franken (D-Minn) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). It passed though the Senate Judiciary Committee in January without a single dissent

Last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir delivered a message from the kingdom to Washington threatening to sell $750 billion (three quarters of a trillion dollars) in U.S. Treasury securities and other assets it holds in the United States if the bill is passed and signed into law by the President. The Obama administration is opposing “JASTA” in what can only be described as a matter of diplomatic pragmatism, believing it’s simply not practical to embarrass and antagonize a traditionally reliable and vitally strategic ally unless resorting to such is utterly unavoidable.

 

Although Saudi Arabia has long denied any involvement in condoning or supporting the nightmare of 9/11, it does seem reasonable to suggest after almost fifteen years that certain persons and/or elements in Saudi society were quite possibly major contributors to the debacle. Perhaps “probably” would be more precise. It’s not difficult believing there were and are those of wealthy means more than willing to enthusiastically fund terror elsewhere in the world as extortive insurance against having it strike at home. Throughout history, that’s how bullies get by.

 

Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. Of the nineteen September 11th hijackers affiliated with al-Qaeda, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The others were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon.

Not one was from Iraq, a sovereign nation we invaded on March 20th of 2003 with a subsequent loss of thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives (primarily civilians) and trillions of taxpayer dollars wasted at war.

 

One of the most sobering memories of The Iraq Conflict was a slogan emphatically referenced at the outset and often repeated since --- the proudly declarative, defiantly patriotic phrase: “We Will Not Forget!”

 

Has the time come to remember with proper response?

 

I’d give a rousing cheer.

 

 

 

Chapter Eighteen – “Prince”

 

 

 

Perhaps even more unsettling than the shocking news of his untimely death were the mysterious revelations that quickly followed.

 

Prince was found alone last Thursday morning, dead for hours, slumped to the floor at the bottom of an elevator in his lavish 65,000 square foot Paisley Park studio complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. The $10 million edifice features two recording studios, a soundstage with rehearsal room, private offices, an underground parking garage, an outdoor basketball court and a solid steel basement bank vault containing hundreds upon hundreds of hours of unreleased master recordings -- potentially worth as much as the current value of his estate, already estimated at more than three hundred million dollars.

 

Prince Rogers Nelson left this all behind at the age of 57, unmarried and childless, his immediate living relatives being one sister and seven half-siblings. His father, John Lewis Nelson, died in 2001 and his mother, Mattie Della Shaw, passed in 2002.

 

Was it inadvertently death by faith?

 

Although there is ample testimony from multiple sources that, unlike rock star peers, Prince assiduously avoided drugs and alcohol throughout his entire professional life, recent times may have seen him resort to powerful narcotic relief from chronic hip pain following decades of highly energized concert performances.

 

Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, he became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2003 and was consequently reluctant to undergo a strongly recommended double hip replacement due to that sect’s proscription against blood transfusions.

 

Although a full autopsy has been conducted, it may be weeks before a final cause of death is officially pronounced. Convincing evidence has been released, however, suggesting that Prince apparently suffered an overdose of the prescription drug Percocet a week before he died while flying back to Minnesota following what turned out to be a final performance in Atlanta.

 

Percocet is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. It features a high risk of addiction and dependence.

 

All of that sadly stated, Prince stands alone and unchallenged as the ultimate musical performer of his generation. Borrowing a phrase from the #1 global hit he wrote for Sinead O’ Connor in 1990 – nothing compares. Or even comes close.

 

I was running top-rated radio stations in the Midwest when Tipper Gore, wife of then Senator and future Vice-President, Al Gore, joined a handful of woeful, woebegone Washington hand ringers without much else to do and formed “The Parents Music Resource Center” in 1984. This was in reaction to having heard “Darling Nikki” by Prince from his enormously successful film, “Purple Rain”. Tipper identified Prince as being “a public menace.” Inspired by such lunacy, I authorized every cut from the soundtrack for airplay on our facilities, believing then, as I do now, that “Rock & Roll” is ultimately an attitude – rock music being an important, but not exclusive form of expression.

 

It’s also no surprise learning more about Prince’s deeply held spiritual beliefs, a serious commitment to eternal, transcendental values readily evident in any fair, unprejudiced review of his music through the years.

 

And I agree with the late Kurt Vonnegut that all music is sacred. Vonnegut wrote, “Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.”

 

Here in Oakhurst, we’re in for a rare treat this Saturday night at 7 PM when the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra appears at Sierra Vista Church as part of an historic five county orchestral tour in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service.

 

Les Marsden, Founder and Conductor of the Orchestra, promises that his commemorative musical work, “Our Nation’s Nature” is “a cycle of four distinct, unique, large-scale symphonic poems united by shared thematic materials composed accessibly in my personal style with respect, awe and love for our great outdoors.”

 

The public is most cordially invited to attend this extraordinary performance and early arrival is surely suggested.

 

Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $6 for students, with discounted pricing for members of the Mariposa County Arts Council.

 

“Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?

Oh, no. Let’s go!”

 

Prince – “Let’s Go Crazy!” (1984)

 

 

 

Chapter Nineteen – “Requiescat Daniel Berrigan”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How sad.

 

Father Daniel Berrigan has passed away at 94.

 

Berrigan died on April 30th at Murray-Weigel Hall, a Jesuit health care community in New York City after a long illness. He would have been 95 on May 9th.

 

Father Berrigan was very influential on my old Flint friend, film director Michael Moore, and it’s not that much of a stretch to suggest that Berrigan’s influence on me strongly impacted my decision to unleash Mike before an unsuspecting public with “Radio Free Flint” on WTAC & WWCK-FM in the early ’80’s.

 

I was blessed having this brilliant Jesuit rebel as instructor in Philosophy and Theology during my years at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, an institution which I have referenced several times in recent years – usually in positive commentary on Francis, our current Jesuit Pope.

 

Berrigan gave me the only "F" I ever received at Le Moyne for submitting a five page report on a book I'd never read, even though Father Carmody rewarded that same report with an A+ the prior year in Freshman theology. “This makes me pot boiling mad!” Father Berrigan wrote with giant red marker flourishes. “See me after class!

I was wise enough to immediately confess my foolish transgression and was assigned a penance requiring me to submit a 1,000-word book report every week until the end of the semester a month away.

 

After that bumpy start, Father Berrigan and I got along fine. In my senior year, I would give him rides to the Jesuit rectory after Theology instruction on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I last saw him in 1998 while I was running a radio group in Youngstown. He had come to the area on a speaking engagement, remembered who I was and asked if I’d “actually read any books lately.”

 

Father Berrigan was quite enamored with French Jesuit philosopher, mystic and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and regularly corresponded with Thomas Merton, Trappist priest and author of “Seven Storey Mountain”. Merton is generally regarded at the most important American Catholic author of the 20th Century.

 

Berrigan made headlines when he went to North Vietnam in 1968 to bring home the first three U.S. prisoners of war. Historians would note that the Vietnam War didn’t officially end until April 30, 1975.

Later in ’68, Berrigan and his brother Philip, who was also a priest and decorated World War Two hero, attracted national attention as “The Berrigan Brothers.” They and seven other Catholic protesters, known as the Catonsville Nine, used homemade napalm to burn draft records they had taken from a Maryland selective service office.

Sentenced to several years in prison. Daniel Berrigan spent four months living underground before the FBI finally captured him.

Until he was well into his 80s, Berrigan was taken into custody time after time in challenging the status quo, particularly in seeking social justice and repeatedly engaging in dramatic action against the terrifying prospect of nuclear war. In 1980 he was arrested for taking part in raiding a General Electric missile plant in Pennsylvania, where he and brother Philip rained hammer blows on atomic warheads and in 2006 for blocking the entrance to the Intrepid Naval Museum in Manhattan.

On the day of his 80th birthday in 2001, when asked how long he would continue his bold rejection of mindless militarism with acts of civil disobedience, he told reporters, “The day after I’m embalmed. That’s when I’ll give it up.”

In his final years, Berrigan’s primary efforts were directed at helping AIDS patients in the New York area. In 2012, he appeared in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to support the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

He was a most uncommon man – engagingly social, intellectually dazzling and profoundly spiritual.

Father Daniel Berrigan, S.J. was the toughest – and finest teacher I ever had. 

 

I deserved that “F”.

 

 

Chapter Twenty – “Citizen Trump”

 

 

 

What can be more tedious and unwelcomed than an unavoidable social necessity to openly and publicly endorse absolute absurdity?

 

The Republican Party must now slather layers of lipstick on their pig named Donald.

 

Barring the unforeseen, Hillary Rodham Clinton will probably be sworn in as our 45th President on Friday, January 20, 2017, having run on a progressive platform heavily influenced by an historic challenge for the Democratic nomination waged by a socialist Senator from Vermont named Bernie.

 

It’s a wrap.

 

Although Hillary was not my first, or second, or even third choice to become our next Commander-in-Chief, she is far superior to the presumptive GOP standard bearer by any measurement, in each instance, on every level.

 

Any negatives brought into the mix by Hillary the person are completely outweighed by Hillary the politician. That’s right. Politician.

 

Those who seek to abandon “politicians” in this election cycle seem to forget that they who voted were the electors, not the elected. Even more responsible are those who stayed at home, abrogating the most basic responsibility of good citizenship, leaving to chance choices unmade.

 

Seeking to appear conversationally adroit by scorning “politicians” is as thoughtful as suggesting brain surgery be performed only by practitioners who’ve never attended medical school. Come on.

 

Fair comparison makes a morally binding obligation obvious.

 

First Lady of Arkansas for nine years, First Lady of the United States for eight, another eight years as U.S. Senator from New York and four years as our nation’s 67th Secretary of State vs. 69 years of privileged, pampered, pestilent pomposity. Are you kidding?

 

Anyone concerned about “Benghazi” didn’t watch Hillary’s appearance under oath on global television for eleven and a half hours last October before a Republican dominated House Subcommittee dedicated to her destruction. They never laid a glove on her.

 

Folks panting for her indictment on federal charges for periodically using a private server while Secretary of State, an openly admitted error in judgment shared by several Republican predecessors, will shortly learn this particular molehill was never remotely a mountain. How ironic it now appears the Chinese government has successfully cyber-hacked official State Department files, but not Hillary’s.

 

Being proudly on the left side of any political dial, I should take proportionate pleasure in the pending election of yet another Democratic President and all that goes with it, especially a properly realigned Supreme Court. But I find myself sickened that Donald Trump has made it as far as he has in what originally appeared to be a non-threatening, highly entertaining, curiously quixotic quest to become leader of the Free World. What a joke. But suddenly the joke’s on us. All of us.

 

Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, wants Trump to tame things down. Trump knows his die-hard supporters would hate such a thing. What’s the fun in that?

 

Our Fourth District Congressman, Tom McClintock, is quoted in the Fresno Bee as saying that “despite some lingering questions”, he has decided to support Trump, having determined that the candidate is a “runaway favorite” among Republicans in our area. Such a decision witnesses the elevation of instinctive insouciance over intellectual integrity. And I’m not at all sure to whom Tom is listening. My Republican friends locally were favoring Cruz, Rubio and Kasich in that order till Donald’s divisive darkness finally descended.

 

We have watched a sociopath succeed on an unparalleled scale – pathologically lying, threatening and bullying his way to political preeminence.

 

Come November, Donald J. Trump deserves not only defeat and dismissal, but designation to lasting disgrace.

 

Our reputation in the world and the future of our nation demands nothing less.

 

 

Chapter Twenty-One – “Hating Hillary 101”

 

I never thought I’d see this day.

Here we have Donald Trump polling evenly with or ahead of Hillary Clinton in current national voter preference, even as Democratic contender and renegade long shot Bernie Sanders handily trounces Trump by as many as fifteen points across the nation in that same research.

Yet Bernie and Hillary are in general agreement on almost every policy issue — timing and intensity being their only real variance. Trump believes in Trump, all else being irrelevant. If it’s good for Donald — it’s good for America. “Making America Great Again” means transitioning our country into a flattering reflection of Trump, himself, from flaccid orange top to big fat bottom.

Never mind “issues.” Donald will decide them for us. Remember, his biggest weapon against all evil forces seeking our destruction is the shock and awe of absolute unpredictability. That’s why it’s critical our future President remain unencumbered by prior comments or commitments. Such things are meant to be permanently temporary. It will keep us safe. Unless he changes his mind.

It seems alarmingly clear that Donald Trump’s stunning performance in recent one on one match ups with Hillary Clinton are much more due to a widespread, long lived, virulent hatred of Hillary than any true affection for Trump. Given a choice between the “two evils”, a large segment of voters, particularly independents, would opt to vote against Mrs. Clinton, insisting in the process they don’t support Mr. Trump. But the effect remains the same.

Intellectually, I find Hillary to be astounding well qualified for the Presidency. She is vastly experienced, thoroughly accomplished and scary smart. Yet on an emotional level, she seems haughty, arrogant and annoying. While some orators might evocatively raise their voices in thundering passion while concluding a speech, Hillary’s attempts to do so make my ears bleed. That old “chalk on a blackboard” metaphor fails miserably by comparison. As an old friend used to say of Yoko Ono’s attempts at song: “She sounds like a beagle pup having his (deleted) nailed to the floor.”

I can’t imagine why professional advisers haven’t coached Hillary out of this obvious, potentially fatal flaw.

Forget “Benghazi” or “private servers” or any other dredged up nonsense from troublesome Trumpublicans. In the minds of many, Hillary Clinton sounds like every man’s first wife, her attorney and Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over The Coo Coo’s Nest” on serious speed.

But I firmly believe that Hillary would make a good American President. And Donald — a fine asylum resident.

Let’s get the vote out next Tuesday. I’m very much in favor of “Proposal C” for all the reasons given by its backers and I’m personally feeling the Bern, especially after visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland last week.I finally got to see their new “Rock Radio” exhibit.  A peek is yours at petercavanaugh.com.

As one spirals up a winding staircase from level to level in with what can only be described as the Smithsonian Museum of Rock & Roll, concluding Levels 5 and 6 now present” Louder Than Words” — “Rock, Power and Politics.” This special exhibit created in partnership with the Newseum in Washington, D.C. explores rock music’s power to change attitudes about peace, equality, patriotism and hope.

With this in mind, I hope you might join us on Saturday at Denny’s for the June meeting of our Oakhurst Democratic Club. When Troy Pope, Editor-In-Chief of the Collegian, Fresno State’s student run newspaper, gained national attention back in February with a front page editorial comparing Donald Trump’s unanticipated ascent to the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, I knew we had to have him stop by Oakhurst for a talk.

Troy will provide “A Millennial’s Perspective on Election 2006” with breakfast at 8:30 and Troy’s presentation at 9:30. The general public is always invited to attend, especially our young Sanders supporters.

We aging children welcome the future.

Chapter Twenty-Two – “News?”

 

 

 

 

It was another full house at Denny’s last Saturday morning for the June monthly meeting of our Oakhurst Democratic Club and an exceptional presentation by Troy Pope, Editor-in-Chief of the Fresno State Collegian – a student run publication.

It was Troy who gained significant national attention back in February when he ran a front page editorial in the Collegian comparing Donald Trump’s unanticipated ascension in American politics to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. This brought forth from readers an impressive volley of cheers and a passionate cascade of jeers. A special extra edition of The Collegian quickly followed containing commentary from both sides. There wasn’t much in between.

In discussing “A Millennial’s Perspective on Election 2016” Pope suggested it was the continuous attention provided Trump by American media across the board that is largely accountable for Trump’s primary victories and his current status. I couldn’t agree more. It’s cuckoo crazy, but completely comprehendible.

When I started my radio career in the late Fifties, broadcast news was sacrosanct. In return for being federally licensed to offer programming to a certain geographic area from a limited number of available public frequencies, owners were required to submit detailed specifics on how the general public would be served by their stewardship. These included binding pledges to dedicate a certain percentage of each broadcast day to public service, public affairs, educational announcements and, most importantly, local, regional and national news.

The FCC would review such commitments at license renewal time by examining station logs that were rigidly maintained at each facility listing all such programming deemed in the public interest and sworn to under penalty of law. Failure to deliver on promises made could result in heavy fines and other measures up to and including license forfeiture or even jail time.

All of this is now ancient history, dismissed, dismantled and discarded by free market forces treasuring profits above all else; an era that many believe began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. “Government” went from collaborator to culprit in a single generation as growing deregulation was embraced and greed deterrence erased.

This is when “we” turned into “me!” “General welfare” as constitutionally defined by our founding fathers gave way to unlimited, often ungovernable self-interest. My Tea Party friends would point out that is mentioned twice in the U.S. Constitution: first, in the preamble and second, in Article 1, Section 8.

With accountants in charge, “News” ceased to be justified by concerned consensus as above the common fray and became simply another profit center. This meant that enhanced listenership or viewership created by increased audience ratings — instantly convertible into automatic revenue — became the only goal. All else became meaningless and replaceable.

Traditional “News” morphed into attractive “Entertainment” and is often now a distinction without true difference. ABC/NBC/CBS are competing to fulfill Paddy Chayefsky’s dystopian vision of the future forecast in “Network.” Walter Cronkite has become FOX NEWS.

Through the years in less culturally sensitive times, carnivals and circuses across the land energetically tempted otherwise proper patrons with titillating “Freak Shows” and not without cause. For a few pennies more, one might see peculiar manifestations of — who knew what? Often displaying gross human deformities as items of heightened interest and elevated entertainment, “Freak Shows” packed in the crowds. Such primal attraction in modern times would guarantee outrageous ratings and constant, continuous exposure to mass audience. We’re seeing that now.

Donald J. Trump is the ultimate Freak Show. Trump is the Bearded Lady, the Alligator Man, the Half-Ape/Cross-Dressing Jungle Boy – and the Quadruple-Eyed Alien Baby in a Jelly Jar — all rolled into one. There’s never been anyone like him. Thus depicted, Donald Trump is also the ultimate hoax.

In the finest tradition of P.T. Barnum’s “Fiji Mermaid” with the head of a monkey and tail of a fish, Trump is nothing more than an outlandish joke running askew.

Accepting Donald Trump as a serious candidate for President is disingenuously dangerous, and except for those unbalanced or uneducated, surely must be self-deceptive.

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows this Emperor has no clothes.

He’s just a rude, crude dude in the nude — a pile of piggy pink.

 

Chapter Twenty-Three – “Welcome Mr. President”

 

 

For the fifteenth time since taking office, he spoke to a nation again shaken to its core by yet another act of senseless hate and terror – this one with a single individual killing 50 and injuring 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando – becoming the largest mass shooting in American history.

 

Even as President Obama spoke early Sunday afternoon from the Oval Office, authorities were taking a suspect into custody in West Hollywood after discovering an arsenal in his car that included tannerite powder, assault weapons and a camouflage outfit. The suspect told authorities that he was there for the Los Angeles Pride festival.

 

I was struck by the restraint exhibited by our President in those Sunday remarks, particularly because of his former passionate commentary on the insanity of allowing high capacity military grade assault weapons and group killing ammunition to remain nationally available with minimal federal controls. These words have continually fallen on deaf elected ears. This pronounced intransigence has come despite widespread popular sentiment to the contrary and is due to collective congressional cowering in the face of powerful lobbying efforts by the National Rifle Association and its leader, Wayne “Dead Kids Don’t Vote” LaPierre.

 

The right for private individuals to bear arms as defined by the Second Amendment of our Constitution is hardly deemed “sacred” by anyone who can read beyond first grade level.

 

The exact wording says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Get that? “Well regulated?” “Militia?” “Bear arms?” This is where Homer Simpson goes, “D’oh!”

 

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975 and served for 35 years before retiring in 2010. Stevens contends that Federal judges understood for more than two centuries that the Second Amendment is limited and applies only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, nor does the amendment limit the power of state or local governments to regulate firearms.

 

Warren Burger, appointed to the Supreme Court by Republican Richard Nixon in 1969, served for 17 years as Chief Justice. Hardly a lily-livered liberal, Justice Burger categorically stated on the MacNeil/Leher News Hour following his retirement that the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word “fraud” on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

 

The subsequent 2008 landmark decision by a conservative Court in “District of Columbia v. Heller” establishing precedent for an individual to bear arms was determined by a single vote (5 to 4) and even this ruling was restricted to such matters as self defense within the home.

 

Now comes the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a decision only last Thursday upholding a California law that requires gun owners to show valid reason before being licensed to carry a concealed handgun. Tracing the rights of gun owners from medieval England to the founding of the United States and through the Civil War, the Court ruled 7 to 4 that local laws have traditionally and almost universally prohibited such without requiring sufficient cause.

 

Conservative Breitbart News immediately leapt into action with screaming headlines declaring, “Only Donald Trump Can Save Our Gun Rights” and “Hillary Clinton Will Abolish The Second Amendment.” Both of these observations are tragically misinformed and insipidly stupid. So is the constant drone of ignorant allegations ever since he took office in 2009 that “Obama will take away our guns.” He hasn’t, he wouldn’t and he won’t. Barack Obama just wants common sense restored to an enormously critical dialogue.

 

Welcome to Yosemite, Mr. President. Here’s hoping a well-earned visit to our beautiful region will prove both restful and restorative as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its 100th Anniversary.

 

And thank you for your service to this country as our Commander-in-Chief. You’ve worked for peace, brought troops home and done much in restoring our national honor following tragic misadventures in the Middle East initiated by your predecessor and his administration, however unwittingly.

 

May you and your family travel safely and securely on your journey through God’s country -- and all travels ahead.

 

You have led us well.

 

Chapter Twenty-Four – “Hail Incitatus!”

 

 

 

 

It ‘s drawing depressingly near – the most bizarre political elevation in human history since Caligula appointed Incitatus to the Roman Senate in 40 A.D. – Incitatus being the Emperor’s favorite horse.

 

Barring unexpected oppositional developments, Donald J. Trump will formally accept nomination as the GOP’s 2016 Presidential candidate just four weeks from today on July 21st in Cleveland, thereafter becoming the ugly face and grunting voice of the Republican Party for a frightening foreseeable future.

 

Hillary Clinton is now trouncing Trump in recent national polling by ever increasing margins. Knowledgeable Washington pundits have started openly discussing the House of Representatives returning to Democratic control in November. Many are now forecasting a distinct possibility of the Senate doing likewise – all of this because 16 other Republican hopefuls couldn’t get out of each other’s way -- allowing a clamoring clown to emerge triumphant as their party now dances at the very edge of dissolute disintegration.

 

If Trump continues spirally downward in voter sentiment over these next few weeks with verifiable velocity, watch for new signals of desperation.

 

Serious discussion is already underway at the highest levels to avoid bringing Trump into play for “down ticket” reelection bids by substituting George W. Bush in his place as a more palatable surrogate to draw crowds and engender support. What?

 

“George the Conqueror” hasn’t been seriously included on any significant invitation list these last seven and a half years. It has become generally accepted in all but the most recalcitrant circles that 2003’s Bush – initiated invasion of Iraq was a debacle on almost every level, costing us thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars in treasure trashed. “Dub-Ya” ultimately ended up replacing yesterday’s Saddam Hussein and his Ba’ath Party with today’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and ISIS.

 

What a tag team. [_ “Tonight -- filling in for Grumpy -- here’s Goofy!” _]

 

There’s also sudden collusion among a handful of pledged Trump delegates to consider the potential value of effectively becoming conscientious objectors at the convention, declaring that the candidate’s conduct since becoming presumptive nominee has become embarrassingly intolerable.

 

An amendment has been prepared by members of the Republican Rules Committee to provide a way out of requiring a vote for Trump on the first ballot. The exact wording states that delegates would be permitted a “vote of conscience” for “allowable personal reasons” which would include “notorious public statements of support for positions that clearly oppose or contradict the policies embodied in the Republican Party’s platform.”

 

Don’t hold your breath. Since Trump has already rooted out 1,542 committed convention supporters with only 1,237 needed for his official selection, this means more than 300 of these would need to become functionally “conscientious” – highly unlikely, but not impossible in the face of what might be shaping up as virtually certain annihilation in November by a month from now.

 

Meanwhile, it seems fair to observe the Democratic Party is realizing its own share of internal challenges.

 

I’m baffled why Attorney General Loretta Lynch, appointed to office by Barrack Obama in April 0f 2015, is allowing Hillary Clinton to metaphorically twist slowly in the wind to such an agonizing extent over Secretary Clinton’s “private server” issue – an aging topic now having been laboriously investigated by Lynch’s FBI for almost a full year.

 

While exercising an abundance of caution in such matters is surely advisable, I suggest such extended reticence on the part of Lynch to reach definitive judgment is functionally raising serious questions about her prioritization of responsibilities. Be it good or bad for Hillary, let’s go!

 

And what’s this shallow talk about Hillary needing to “move toward the center” now that she has clinched the Democratic nomination?

 

Anyone suggesting such clichéd claptrap had best reflect upon the last twelve months of progressive evolution in America’s electorate, particularly among younger members of our society who will define direction and determine our future.

 

Bernie Sanders didn’t win millions of votes and carry 22 states in Democratic primaries and caucuses due to his youthful vigor, fashionable dress and trend setting hairstyle. Senator Sanders was singularly successful in authentically articulating a critical need for meaningful change on an immediately accelerated basis. This commitment is not going away. Nor is Senator Sanders.

 

And probably not that horse of a different color – the unctuously orange -- Donald Trump.

 

Neigh.

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Five – “Independence Day”

 

 

 

 It struck in a flash.

 

Only hours after polls closed in the United Kingdom, a Prime Minister resigned, the British Pound dropped to its lowest level in 31 years and two trillion dollars in value instantly vaporized as financial markets around the world perilously plummeted with no easy end in sight.

 

By the relatively thin margin of 51.9% to 48.1%, U.K. voters determined it was time to leave The European Union – a politico-economic grouping of 28 member states with a total population exceeding 500 million. The EU was formed in the aftermath of World War Two in an effort to create, in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “a United States of Europe.” The U.K. has been a member for more than four decades.

 

Moments after final results were tallied, right-wing leader Nigel Farage joyously proclaimed. “June 23^rd^ will go down in history as our Independence Day!” This was before the bottom dropped out.

 

Farage had to admit only hours later that a key claim insisting that “Leaving” would mean that “350 million pounds a week ($500 million US dollars) currently going to the European Union would go to National Health Service” was an outright lie.

 

When ITV’s Susanna Reid pressed him on this issue before an incredulous national TV audience, Farage admitted that allegation was “a mistake.” Reid hammered on, “You’re saying that 17 million people have voted to leave on the basis of that? That was a huge part of the propaganda – you’re now saying that was a mistake?” Deafening silence followed.

 

Then Google reported experiencing a major surge in U.K. searches not only relating to the ballot measure, but also with basic questions concerning implications of the vote, especially “what happens if we leave the U.K.?”

 

It now seems that many of those voting really had no idea what they were supporting other than displaying xenophobic concern over immigration, signaling deep personal discontent over economics and expressing general disappointment with the immediate status quo. They answered the siren call of a simple solution like petulant children – blindly striking out against perceived injury and neglect without a hint of proper understanding or meaningful reflection.

 

Donald Trump praised the outcome from his golf course in Scotland, boastfully stating that the same forces causing the U.K. to leave the European Union will elect him President in the fall. Trump bellowed, “I think I see a big parallel…people here want to take their country back!”   This ignored the fact that Scotland, itself, along with Northern Ireland, dramatically voted to remain in the EU. The outcome has also renewed cries in Scotland to again vote on independence from England, yet one more thread among thousands threatening to unravel in the wake of Thursday’s alarming -- and until recently unexpected vote.

 

More than three million people have now signed a petition calling for a second referendum on the issue, already gaining far more than the 100,000 required to be considered by Parliament for debate, its website crashing several times due to high demand.

 

It seems entirely plausible that a more enlightened U.K. electorate may soon find an opportunity to overturn what might ultimately be regarded as an unfortunate, yet only temporarily inconvenient misunderstanding driven by nativist naïveté-- speedily resolved by concerned common consensus.

 

Our Constitutional Republic does not allow for quick second chances.

 

Barring impeachment and consequential removal from office, an event that has never transpired in our history, November 8th will lock in a new American President for four years.

 

As valid analysis continues on the threat of uninformed populism around the globe, there is no assurance that tragic collective misjudgment, however inadvertent, can’t happen here.

 

Pray for clueless friends.

 

As we honor this nation’s history and celebrate our own Independence Day next Monday on the 4th of July, there is much remaining unsettled.

 

Hounds of misfortune howl in the night.

 

Danger is at our door.

 

Donald Trump menaces us all.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Six – “Time Machines”

 

It’s the end of the first week in the year’s second half and it’s 2016’s third month beginning with a “J.”

There won’t be a fourth.

Summer offers a perfect time for random thoughts of minimal consequence – an opportunity to temporarily abandon elaborately detailed explorations of national trajectory or brilliantly structured insights into a myriad of topics otherwise remaining alarmingly mysterious and dangerously opaque.

And get away from all those big words.

Let’s take a break, leaving polarizing politics alone for a week.

There’ll be time enough for that when the conventions commence, starting in Cleveland on July 18th with Philadelphia in the spotlight seven days later.

How lucky we are to live where we do.

When visitors arrive, we get to take them places habitually reserved for special occasions, accessing an amazing environment easily available, yet enjoyed all too infrequently. Such was the case last week when daughter Colleen and granddaughter Riley arrived from Cincinnati, providing a perfect excuse to cut loose.

I love that time machine only a town away.

The Mariposa Museum and History Center was founded in 1957 and is dedicated to the discovery, collection, preservation, interpretation, exhibition and demonstration of material culture, visual objects and documents that best illustrate the history of Mariposa County. That’s what their website says. They deliver the goods.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington has gone on record stating that Mariposa offers “The best little Museum of its size west of the Mississippi.” It’s open year round from 10 till 4.

Walking through elaborately cataloged displays sweeps you back in time from the Native American and Spanish periods of the county through the early 1900s. Inside exhibits include an extensive Miwok Indian section; an interior miner’s cabin, a one-room schoolhouse and furnishings belonging to the West’s most famous explorer, Mariposa’s own John L. Freemont. There’s also an authentic Mother Lode saloon with extra big shot glasses for mountain men of righteous thirst.

Outside you’ll see the only operational 5-stamp gold ore mill in California and a fully functional Blacksmith Shop along with other significant pieces of mining equipment.

Loving volunteers eager to share their impressive knowledge of local lore staff the museum.

There was an authentic player piano offering pre-programmed music recorded on perforated paper by ghostly, unseen hands. It was “Roll Out The Barrel” and who should be doing the rolling and operating the unit during our tour than the very much alive Ron Loya, President of the Museum’s Board of Directors.

Ron honored Eileen, Colleen, Riley and me with a quick peek inside “the vault” – a large, private research area, heavily secured with tight atmospheric controls to preserve yet more amazing archeology and artifacts. It was all quite cool, both environmentally and emotionally.

Shortly thereafter serendipity struck again at another time machine — this one at the Yosemite Museum in the village, completed in 1925 by architect Herbert Maier in the newly emerging National Park Service Rustic Style.

As visitors enter the foyer, a geology room occupies the first space to the right. From there, a U-shaped path leads through to natural history exhibits, a life zone room and an Indian room. As we arrived at this last, it wasn’t WHAT was there that proved to highlight Colleen and Riley’s stay, but WHO was there.

National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson has worked in Yosemite for 23 years of his 29-year career. Ranger Johnson appeared in Ken Burns award winning documentary film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” and was subsequently acclaimed as an “unexpected star” of the mini-series. Attending a preview at the White House on September 27, 2009, Johnson discussed the project with President Obama, a conversation he had an opportunity to renew during the President’s recent visit to Yosemite.

We entered the Indian Room to the soft, gentle sounds of an authentic Indian flute, expertly played by a superbly talented individual sitting unassumingly alone as though he was merely a casual part of the general background. Ranger Johnson was then kind enough to engage us in a wide-ranging conversation covering countless subjects, evidencing an awesomely knowledgeable, highly entertaining, thoroughly engaging representative of the National Park Service. Anyone who believes government can’t work hasn’t met Shelton Johnson.

Here in Oakhurst we are blessed and surrounded by many other time machines in our immediate proximity, such as the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa and smaller installations such as the Coarsegold Historic Society Museum on Highway 41, the Raymond Museum and Historic Town Site and the Sierra Mono Museum in North Fork.

Make the present more pleasant with a prolonged pause in the past.

It waits with awesome wonder.

Chapter Twenty-Seven – “Doofus Days”

 

 

 

 

Doofus: (doo’·fus) [do͞ofəs]) – (1) Stupid and incompetent (2) a foolish person who doesn’t have a clue (3) Utah Republican Representative

Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

 

It was Representative Doofus who insisted last week that Congress provide the FBI with a referral request to investigate whether Hillary Clinton lied under oath about her handling of classified information. This would have been when the Secretary testified before Congress for 11 ½ hours back in October during the ill-conceived, thoroughly unproductive Benghazi Hearings that completely exonerated Clinton of alleged misbehavior -- as did six other formal investigations on the same subject.

 

Chaffetz gleefully announced with a happy little laugh his firm intention to keep Hillary-hate alive in Congress as FBI Director James Comey dramatically testified for almost five hours before an “Emergency Hearing” of the Republican dominated Oversight Committee last Thursday. This gathering was hastily called into session by Doofus in a panicked response to Director Comey’s historic decision two days earlier that he not recommend any criminal charges be filed against Mrs. Clinton nor any of her aides in connection with their use of unauthorized Internet servers while working at the State Department.

 

In 2003 Representative Chaffetz had applied for a position with The Secret Service, an organization he now oversees. He was rejected. At the time the agency told him it was considering “better applicants.”

 

But here’s the official bottom line on Hillary Clinton after more than a full year of FBI investigation:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • There is no evidence that Secretary Clinton, her staff or attorneys intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Hillary Clinton was truthful in all of her testimony provided to the Bureau under formal questioning.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Of over 30,000 emails studied, only 110 were determined to contain information considered “classified.”

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Of these, none were actually labeled “Classified” and only three contained small “c” markings suggesting classification. That’s 3 out of more than 30,000.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Director Comey, a long time Republican of unquestioned integrity, went on record under oath saying he was unsure whether Mrs. Clinton had the technical sophistication to know what the tiny “c” markings buried somewhere in the material might mean. The Director plainly stated, “I think it’s possible she didn’t understand what a “c” meant when she saw it in the body of an email like that.”

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Of these remaining three emails, it now appears they were incorrectly coded in the first place and were never supposed to be considered classified in the first place.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • There was no “double standard” used by Director Comey in his recommendation that criminal prosecution was unwarranted – a determination unanimously supported by all of the agents and authorities involved in the investigation.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • The FBI could find no direct evidence of an intrusion into Clinton’s server by hostile foreign governments.

 

Representative Chaffetz is not alone displaying Doofus characteristics. Another would appear to be none other than Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) who has formally asked Director of National intelligence James Clapper to deny Secretary Clinton access to classified information during the presidential campaign – an accommodation extended to major party candidates dating back to the Truman Administration.

 

In a letter to Clapper, Ryan wrote, “There is no legal requirement to provide Secretary Clinton with classified information. I firmly believe this is necessary to reassure the public that our nation’s secrets are secure.”

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this gratuitously pretentious, outrageously insulting statement from Ryan is accompanied by

his newly discovered, awkwardly fawning embrace of the presumptive Republican nominee – a 180-degree turn of heart ordered at the highest levels of party control. This signals a Trump takeover. A fait accompli. The crazies appear to have won.

Get ready for some fun viewing – assuming one entertains an abnormal preoccupation with fiery car crashes, violent train wrecks or obsessively binge watching lost episodes of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

The opening gavel of the 2016 Republican National Convention will pound to disorder this coming Monday, July 18th. Things will ricochet right along until a probable closing with Donald Trump crowned as candidate next Thursday the 21st -- another dark date that may thereafter, in the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “live in infamy.”

The universe watches as our nation goes mad.

Chapter Twenty-Eight – “Of Mice and Men”

 

 

 

What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain (1893)

After Hillary Clinton courageously faced a live, no holds barred interview with Chris Wallace last Sunday on FOX TV, the Washington Post unkindly presented her the following day with four “Pinocchios” – its highest score for flat-out lying. This judgment garnered immediate media coverage across the land --- generally unquestioned by the press as though divinely documented.

Most of my rowdy friends at local watering holes catering to the common man still call Hillary Clinton a liar. When pressed for specifics, they cry, “Benghazi!” After I amiably observe that I watched all 11 ½ hours of Hillary’s testimony under oath before the Republican led House Select Committee last October and they never caught her in a lie, my drinking buddies jump to “Emails!” as evidence of Secretary Clinton’s proven untrustworthiness. That’s when I quote those fundamentally undeniable, FBI certified, painstakingly established official numbers.

Of the more than 30,000 emails reviewed during more than a full year of investigation, only 110 were finally judged as containing classified material, although not one was ever labeled as such. There were 3 with tiny “markings” which might indicate confidentiality to the sophisticated reader, but it turns out even these were incorrectly placed.

Then I cordially mention in my loud radio voice from the end of the bar it has been established by FBI Director James Comey that Hillary never lied to the Bureau when interviewed for 3 ½ hours and Director James Comey also specifically stated: “We did not find evidence sufficient to establish that she knew she was sending classified information.”

[_ _]In conclusion I point out to my collective companions this means any charges Mrs. Clinton was not telling the truth when she said she wasn’t lying – are lies. By then they are sick and tired of hearing me talk.

I suggest a beer and a shot will shut me up. This works like a charm. I return the favor — then off we go – launching into more important matters such as following football, trimming trucks and gunning for gophers.

Hillary Clinton still has plenty of time left before the election for image improvement. An immediate challenge is dispelling those curious words “extremely careless” with which she was labeled by Director Comey just before he got around to finally saying in summary that she wouldn’t be charged with anything after all. This has provided Donald “Nothing But The Truth” Trump and his new running mate, Mike “The Poodle” Pence with valuable campaign ammo.

Having poured over everything Director Comey said in his surprise initial announcement on July 5th and subsequently repeated at length for almost five hours of sworn testimony two days later in another hastily conveyed “Let’s Hang Hillary” hearing, I can find nothing in Comey’s words to understand such a judgment except – Comey himself.

James Comey is the straightest man I’ve ever seen on national TV – the ultimate Boy Scout — as tight as a mouse’s rear stretched over a barrel. He is extraordinarily conscientious, perhaps even perilously proper to extremes. When he scratches an itch, he thinks it’s sex.

Director Comey allows that the “extreme” carelessness he observed during his investigation was not limited to the State Department under Hillary Clinton, but endemic to the institution long before she arrived. This now seems all but forgotten by pundits in the press.

Knowing full well that his decision would be greeted with ridicule and derision by about to be former Republican friends, I suspect the Director wistfully hoped placing a pejorative adjective such as “extremely” before the word “careless” might offer a slight measure of embarrassingly apologetic consolation for his inevitable determination. And it has.

Trumpublicans have jumped on “extremely careless” with pit bull tenacity, growling and scowling with typically feigned ferocity. They are ignoring in the process a majority observation by clear national consensus that their new leader is emotionally immature –demonstrably unstable – and clinically nuts.

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Nine – “Death Wish”

 

 

 

Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes was one of the WSAI-AM DJs in 1964 who invited the Beatles to play at Cincinnati Gardens that year. This large photo from a press conference hangs in his conference room in the county administration building. Dusty Rhodes is top row second from right with the pipe, with the Beatles seated, from left, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney.

 

 

William Emerson “Dusty” Rhodes is one of my oldest and dearest friends.

 

We bitterly fought for audience as teenage DJ’s on competing radio stations while still in high school back in the late ‘50’s, but I was Dusty’s best man when he married Jo Anne after heading west and becoming Cincinnati’s top-rated air personality in 1962.

 

While remaining active in broadcasting through the years on a more limited basis, Dusty went on to enjoy great success as a Paine Webber stockbroker, simultaneously becoming involved in local politics. First elected as a Trustee in Delhi Township, Ohio; Dusty is now in his seventh term as Hamilton County Auditor, having held this office for the last 26 years. Hamilton County, with a population exceeding 800,000, includes the city of Cincinnati. For quite some time, Dusty was the only Democrat holding major office in County government.

 

Dusty Rhodes loves Donald Trump.

 

He called me Friday afternoon and right off the bat asked me what I thought of the Republican Convention. This is called “baiting” – which Webster defines as “to tease or goad so as to provoke a strong reaction”.

 

Surely knowing better, I jumped like Pavlov’s dog and went for it. Initially exploding into an emotionally charged diatribe furiously filled with indisputable facts and undeniable figures, it soon became evident I was raging in vain.

 

Dusty, a graduate of the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and one of the brightest folks I know, doesn’t care if Donald Trump builds a wall, water boards prisoners, makes fun of cripples, demeans women or strangles tiny starving orphans with rusty barbed wire. I made that last one up, but should have thought of it at the time. Darn.

 

Dusty Rhodes wants Donald Trump elected because he wants “a change” since “nothing is working.” And Dusty hates Hillary.

 

I suggested that supporting Donald Trump requires complete dismissal of certain glaring realities and overt suspension of any pretense of fair judgment, but decided not to add that it also might be viewed as an act of moral abrogation bordering intellectual cowardice. Friends don’t talk that way, overheated rhetoric being reserved for bar room rants, back room brawls and newspaper columns.

 

I remain firmly convinced that Donald J. Trump is an oozing, open, festering sore on our American body politic. Yet many well-intended, otherwise responsible citizens seem to see him as a simple solution -- if not sole savior as he so humbly self declares. As witnessed by Dusty’s mystifying allegiance, it has become uncomfortably evident they are deadly serious – mortally and terminally committed to see President Trump take office in January. I am therefore forced to speculate such folly represents nothing less than a classic death wish.

 

In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the demon of death. Sigmund Freud chose to use that word in defining the death drive – a powerful instinct toward chaos – ever lurking in our psychoanalytic nature.

 

According to Freud, we all basically have two life instincts; “Eros”, which drives us to thrive and survive, and “Thanatos”, which often causes us to engage in risky, self-destructive acts. It is theorized by some that this subconscious yearning for death masks a desire to return to our original, inorganic state, but we’ll leave such speculation to greater minds.

 

One primary quality commonly associated with a serious reflection on destructive behavior makes perfect sense in trying to figure out what’s happening with Trump. Simply stated, let’s consider the phenomenon of stress relief. Just letting go. The Rolling Stones might call it, “Some kind of ventilator.” In fact they have. Often we just can’t help ourselves.

 

Smoking. Racing. Cutting. Skydiving. Speeding. Fighting. Fasting. Overworking. Defiant drinking. Dirty dancing. Dangerous dating.

 

All bring temporary satisfaction offering genuine emotional release and a sense of immediate personal control as phony and fake as the empty promises of Donald J. Trump.

 

Even another old friend, Film Director Michael Moore, has come to believe that Trump will be our next President. Mike states with typical restraint – “This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president.”

 

Among other reasons, Mr. Moore cites “[_ The Jesse Effect” -- ] observing that the people of Minnesota once elected a professional wrestler as governor [_–“ just because they could”] and “voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system.”

 

I know this all sounds crazy. We’re living in crazy times. If you don’t feel crazy – you’re crazy. I’m crazy too.

 

Crazy loves company.

 

But don’t vote for Trump.

 

“It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap” – Bruce Springsteen -- “Born to Run” —1975

 

 

Chapter Thirty – “God and Politics”

 

 

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca – 62 A.D.

During his five-day visit to Poland last week, Pope Francis encouraged hundreds of thousands of young people gathered for World Youth Day to ignore computer screens and video games in favor of social activism and political interaction.

Both of our Republican and Democratic Conventions here in America prominently included mentions of Hillary Clinton’s Methodist upbringing, Tim Kaine’s Jesuit education, Mike Pence’s lifetime embrace of fundamentalist Christian values and Donald Trump’s unbelievably huge, bigger than anything you could ever imagine religious beliefs — the ones that everybody’s talking about.

Alleged divine initiation and encouragement of all parties involved in virtually every war in the history of our species is a matter of established record. God, by any name or concept, always seems to be on both the winning and losing sides of every fight. Our “Battle Hymn of the Republic” mentions Christ by name, even as Hitler’s Germany was a Christian nation of over sixty million souls, although Adolf was never called a “Radical Christian Terrorist.”

Christianity remains by far the world’s largest religion with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31%) of all 6.9 billion people on the planet. Islam is second with 1.6 billion believers or 23% of the global population. Hinduism places third with a billion members (15%) and Buddhists come in fourth with a half-billion practitioners representing 7.1% of worshipers. Meanwhile, 1.1 billion “Non-Affiliated” folks (16.4% of earthlings) aren’t on board with anything traditional. This grouping includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion. By 2050, demographers predict that Christianity and Islam will tie for first place with a total of six billion practitioners – around three billion each.

It seems embarrassingly clichéd, if not childishly simple to suggest that we all need to get along together, but anyone who denies the absolute, immediate, critical urgency of such a notion is nothing more than a dangerous fool.

With all this in mind as our contentious election cycle spins toward incomprehensible chaos, this seems a perfect time for serious reflection.

Dr. Andrew Fiala, Ph.D. is Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Ethics Center at Fresno State University. Professor Fiala is well known to area readers for his excellent “On Ethics” column that appears every Saturday in the “Insight” section of our sister newspaper, The Fresno Bee.

Dr. Fiala has degrees from UCLA and Vanderbilt University and is the author or editor of a dozen books. He has published more than 50 scholarly articles and has written hundreds of op-ed essays. His scholarly research focuses on war and peace, politics, religion, and ethics.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the Oakhurst Democratic Club and moderator of our monthly meetings, I contacted Andy a while back and asked him if he would consider being a special guest speaker as we ended our summer hiatus in August – after the national conventions of both major parties concluded and things were really starting to heat up.

Dr. Fiala stated that he would be delighted to do so, but wondered what he should talk about. Flashing back on many challenging hours of Philosophy and Theology courses with those ‘Take No Prisoner” Jesuits at Le Moyne in Syracuse, I instantly suggested he speak on ”God and Politics.” Andy enthusiastically replied, “I’ll be glad to!” And he will.

I hope you’ll join us this Saturday for our August 6th Meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club at Denny’s on Highway 41. As usual, breakfast is served at 8:30 AM and our program with Dr. Fiala will begin at 9:30. He’ll speak for around a half-hour, then we’ll have plenty of time left for questions and discussion. Bring cool friends. It doesn’t cost anything. The general public is always invited, meaning you don’t have to be a Democrat to attend, but if you are and wish to join the club, please consider this a personal invitation.

Make yourself matter.

Get in the game.

November 8th is less than a hundred days away.

This one’s for keeps.

 

[* Chapter Thirty-One -- “President Poodle?” *]

 

 

 

 

With Donald Trump’s poll performance suddenly plummeting in gallows drop free fall, should Mike “The Poodle” Pence start preparing for the Presidency?

 

It’s no secret Trump’s recent stumbles following a wildly acclaimed Democratic Convention have Republicans scrambling for an alternative option, however exotically conceived.

 

This might include resorting to curious language in the official party rules which state that “The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which might occur by reason of death, declination or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States.“ Many suggest that “otherwise” is a weasel word intentionally inserted to cover unexpected contingencies that might arise during a campaign – in this case Trump’s ever more glaringly obvious unsuitability for office.

 

One scenario would see V.P. hopeful Mike Pence romp up to the top spot and have Poodle select his own running mate.

 

Acclaimed statistician Nate Silver projects that if the election was held today, Hillary Clinton now enjoys a staggering a 92.9% chance of becoming our 45 th President vs. Trump’s 7.1%. Moreover, this represents an historic 50-point swing in just ten days for Silver’s “Now-cast” projection. On July 27th , Donald led Hillary 55.4% to 44.6%.

 

Swing states such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, Ohio and Michigan are suddenly surging toward Secretary Clinton. Even Arizona, Georgia and Florida show significant motion in her favor.

 

We seem to be witnessing a cosmic convergence of historic proportion as a mountain of evidence piles up against Trump’s molehill mind.

 

Gold Star parents punished, a baby banished, Putin praised, Ryan rejected, an imaginary tarmac tale, a pathological inability to leave well enough alone – all of these things transpiring in less than a single week’s time. Mind-boggling? It’s Lucy and Edith dipping those chocolates at Kramer’s KandyKitchen. You just can’t keep up.

 

And here’s a new one for you – possibly a Sierra Star exclusive.

 

Drawing upon my years in Rock & Roll Radio, did you know that Donald Trump’s official new campaign song – the one with which he closed his speech at the Convention and has been using ever since – is about picking up a hooker?

 

All Right Now” by the English rock band “Free” (1970)

 

There she stood in the street
Smiling from her head to her feet
I said “Hey, what is this?”
Now maybe she’s in need of a kiss”

 

There’s a lot more. It gets even better. Go to Google.

 

Donald Trump was 24 years old in 1970, avoiding military service in Viet Nam with his fifth draft deferment. Melania was born that same year on April 26th.

 

Hillary Clinton was 23 in 1970 – in her first semester at Harvard Law School. She had obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree the prior year from Wellesley College where she received a standing ovation lasting seven minutes for her commencement address. This was covered by Life magazine. She then spent that summer working her way across Alaska, washing dishes in Mount McKinley National Park and sliming salmon at a fish-processing cannery in Valdez. The factory was shut down overnight after she complained about unhealthful conditions. Hillary was fired. And she’s often being treated unfairly to this day.

 

After Mrs. Clinton courageously faced a live, no holds barred interview with Chris Wallace on – of all places -- FOX TV, the Washington Post unkindly presented her the following day with four Pinocchios – its highest score for flat-out fibbing. This judgment garnered immediate media coverage across the land --- generally unquestioned by the press as though divinely documented.

 

I herein award the Washington Post with eightPinocchios ten Jiminy Crickets and a giant J.Worthington Foulfellow the size of Donald Trump’s ego – all of which being granted

for headline grabbing gratuitous malfeasance.

 

Come on.

 

The FBI verifies the fact that of the more than 30,000 emails reviewed during more than a full year of investigation, only 110 were finally judged by others afgter the fact as containing classified material, although not one was ever labeled as such on Hillary’s watch. This evidently bears emphatic repeating: “Not one was ever labeled as such.”

 

FBI Director James Comey specifically stated: “We did not find evidence sufficient to establish that she knew she was sending classified information.”

 

Comey went on record affirming that classified information was sent.

 

[_ At the same time it’s been irrefutably established quite possible -- if not highly probable -- that Secretary Clinton truthfully didn’t know it at the time. _]

 

These are not mutually exclusive concepts other than to those irretrievably lost in the haze and horror of tragic self-delusion.

 

Such as Donald Trump and his poodle.

 

Chapter Thirty-Two – “Dear Tom”

 

 

 

 

The following is an open letter to our 4th Congressional District Representative Tom McClintock. Congressman McClintock has two area appearances scheduled today -- a restricted private meeting at 2:30 here in Oakhurst for Chamber of Commerce members only and a Town Hall meeting at 5 PM in North Fork to which the general public is invited.

 

August 18, 2016

 

Dear Tom,

 

Welcome back!

 

I haven’t written much about you lately. We are clearly polar opposites on virtually every national issue, although I remain pleased with your decision three years ago to support President Obama’s determination not to launch air strikes against Syria. I also congratulated you for resigning from the House Freedom Caucus last September and refusing to go along with its plans to shut down the Federal government over Planned Parenthood funding, even though you remain steadfast in your opposition to abortion. That was a bold, courageous, principled move.

 

I am asking that you use your visit today to make another one.

 

You are regarded by most professional observers of such things as being the most conservative member of the United States House of Representatives. Here in the Fourth District you are assured of safe re-election to a fifth term as our voice in Congress.

 

He is a clear and present danger. He is neither believed nor admired by Republican icons across the land. He is a babbling buffoon and a narcissistic fool. Please use your visit with us today to disavow Donald Trump.

 

I’m certainly not asking you to support Hillary, but I suggest there are two promising candidates who would each seem to offer an attractive option for your consideration.

 

Gary Johnson served two successful terms as Governor of New Mexico and is the Libertarian Party’s 2016 nominee for President. His running mate, Bill Weld, enjoyed the unique distinction of being elected Governor of Massachusetts, one of the nation’s strongest Democratic strongholds, then being re-elected in 1994 by the largest winning margin in state history. Mr. Johnson has recently been moving up in polling, currently averaging eight percentage points nationally and climbing into double digits in several states. As you know, this is of critical importance, Tom, since reaching 15 points will allow Gary to take part in the coming Presidential debates and place him in front of an audience in the tens of millions. Your valuable support might mean all the difference.

 

Although less well known and a more unlikely choice, Evan McMullin of Utah has seriously entered the race. McMullin is a graduate of Brigham Young University, later earning a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Serving with distinction in the Central Intelligence Agency for ten years in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, McMullin joined the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs in 2011 where he gained substantial experience in the areas of technology, energy, consumer goods and biotech research.

 

Announcing his candidacy only last week in the face of Trump’s disastrous decline in popularity and severe threat to Republican candidates across the board, McMullin states, “In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up. It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

 

Congressman McClintock, having heard you speak over a half dozen times and following your Congressional career with keen focus through the years, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump must be providing you at this point with both agonizing professional disappointment and deep personal disgust.

 

Given your widely acknowledged stature among fellow Republican conservatives and esteemed national reputation, you can make a move this very day here in Eastern Madera County that will ring around the world – presenting a new “Profile in Courage” in the finest traditions of both Ronald Reagan and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

 

Save us from the beast.

 

Denounce “The Donald.”

 

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

 

[* Chapter Thirty-Three --- “Expression Suppression” *]

 

 

 

Frances Hagen is an 84 year-old former schoolteacher and Gold Star Parent who lost a son in Viet Nam. Mrs. Hagen lives near the top of 425A (Stagecoach Road) in Oakhurst, where she has resided for more than forty years.

 

Frances’ father, legendary baseball great Bob “Dusty” Rhoads, threw a no-hitter pitching for Cleveland against the Boston Red Sox on September 18, 1908, becoming the first in team history to do so.

 

Her son, Eric Hagen, is Principal of Glacier High School and Mountain Home School Charter here in Oakhurst.

 

Mrs. Hagen has been active in our community for many decades and was a founding member of the Oakhurst Democratic Club.

 

She placed a “Hillary for President” sign at her driveway entrance last week. A few days later -- hidden by the dark of night -- in a cowardly effort to frighten and intimidate Frances -- the sign was alarmingly defaced with the word “Prison” substituted for “President” on the front and filled with vile hate language on the reverse.

 

It was a message addressed to the “Nigga” who was so uppity as to have placed the sign -- implying increased reprisals from the “Trump Gang” might be forthcoming for any future efforts expended in support of Secretary Clinton.

 

Thankfully, Mrs. Hagen’s life is filled with nearby friends who have made no secret of expressing their absolute disgust at this violation of property and propriety.

 

A neighborhood watch group on Facebook (“425A – Stagecoach Road”) has been unanimous in expressing their strong support for Frances and in vigorously condemning the incident with such observations as “To turn on each other is the last thing we need to do”, “I am not for Hillary, but I would never allow anyone to do that” and “Although I’m on the other side, one does need to respect the view of others.”

 

Upon being informed of the vandalism, Sheriff Jay Varney immediately initiated appropriate action and launched a formal investigation. Similarly, District Attorney David Linn personally called Mrs. Hagen to assure her that his office would do all it could in addressing the situation and protecting her against any further concerns of a threatening nature. These days you don’t mess with a Gold Star Mom in Madera County.

 

Mrs. Hagen’s disappointing discovery presents new evidence that this particular election cycle has reached a level of contentiousness previously unknown, extending even up here into the Sierra foothills.

 

In 2008 and 2012, Mrs. Hagen’s pro-Obama/Biden signage was left completely untouched when placed in exactly that same spot at the side of the road. This local escalation of angry, ugly, thuggish behavior has assuredly been directly generated by Donald Trump’s unprecedented plunge into his poisonous pursuit of the presidency.

 

Last week I offered our visiting Fourth District Congressional Representative Tom McClintock several promising alternatives to replace his unfortunate endorsement of the current, doomed-to-fail Republican candidate. I did this both in print and in person. Alas, I was scorned, although civilly so. During his Town Hall Meeting in North Fork, Tom passed on an opportunity to courageously scrape Donald Trump from the bottom of his boot. He then publicly called me a “Mother.”

 

Although mightily tempted to end my North Fork testimony right there and move on, fairness and decorum demand an explanation.

 

After earlier dismissing my brilliant suggestion to support Libertarian Gary Johnson and his efforts to reach a 15% polling average and consequential admission to the forthcoming “Great Debates” featuring Donald (in the huge orange trunks) and Hillary (in the true blue pantsuit), McClintock asked those attending if anyone knew what the “Mother Rule” might be. This was something to be invoked if “Mother baked a pie and her two sons had to decide how to divide it between them.” “Yes!” I gleefully exclaimed from my front row seat. “One cuts, the other chooses!” “That’s right!” said Tom, adding, [_ “Thank you” --- ] (pause for comedic effect) [_– Mother!”]

 

Everyone laughed, including me. He really did that well. Touché!

 

It was a lovely, light-hearted moment in an otherwise sullen, somber election season.

 

Now if we can just punch up local business for the rest of the summer with one of those uniquely new, tourist attracting, excitingly different “Naked Donald” statues in the parking lot at Von’s.

 

They’re made of foam.

 

From right out of his mouth.

 

 

 

[* Chapter Thirty-Four -- “Collapse” *]

 

 

 

This time it’s different.

 

Labor Day Weekend is straight ahead – a marker normally signaling the true start of an American Presidential campaign when typical citizens take a few minutes to actually notice their immediate environment.

 

This year it’s already over. Done. Finished. Gone.

 

Even as his national polling averages started their death spiral in late July, Donald Trump now calls Hillary Clinton a flat out bigot and predicts he will get 95% of the African American vote when he runs for reelection in 2020. And maybe deportation squads won’t boot out all 11.5 million “illegal immigrants” on Inauguration Day after all. Or possibly so. He’ll decide that when he needs to. Maybe. Could be.

 

Donald Trump has become a “Chuck Berry Existentialist.”

 

“Sometimes I will and again sometimes I won’t.

Sometimes I do and again sometimes I don’t.”

 

“Reelin’ & Rockin’” – Chuck Berry (1957)

 

Trump is understandably convinced by their addled adulation that his core supporters will endorse anything he does, says or thinks – everything he dreams, schemes or screams. This would appear tragically true.

 

After saying “You’re fired!” to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on June 20th, Trumpty-Dumpty just repeated the same thing to Paul Manafort on August 19th, then immediately appointed Steve Bannon as his new “Campaign Chief Executive Officer” – a title which has never existed before in the history of any party.

 

Bannon’s been running Breitbart, an extreme right-wing news and opinion website. A former Breitbart employee and mainstream conservative favorite, Ben Shapiro, has gone on record stating “Bannon is a nasty, vindictive figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies.”

 

Continuing his latest impetuous shakeup, Trump simultaneously appointed smiling, beguiling spin mistress Kellyanne Conway as his “Campaign Manager”. In admiration of Ms. Conway’s abilities to circumvent facts and cleverly cloud issues, legendary reporter Dan Rather told MSNBC: “This woman can talk the legs off a table.”

 

Even so, Ms. Conway found herself in a difficult position last Sunday when Chris Wallace asked her on FOX News whether Trump had acted properly in response to the horrid shooting death in Chicago of Nykea Aldridge, a mother of four and cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade. Learning of the travesty, Trump hastily tweeted: “Just what I’ve been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” Avoiding direct response, Kellyanne suggested we should all remember Trump did add his condolences in a new tweet a full four hours later.

 

And how will Campaign Manager Conway get along with CEO Bannon? Said Kelly to Chris: “Donald Trump chose me to run his campaign. I report directly to him.”

 

Oh.

 

I still hold out hope that our Fourth District Congressional Representative, Tom McClintock, will finally ditch Donald. It seems Tom’s apparent certainty over gaining an easy fifth term in Congress running as a Republican in this crimson red district overshadows any need to be noble in the classic and classy sense of this word – i.e., “Having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.”

 

There is a determined David running against McClintock’s grinning Goliath.

 

Dr. Robert Derlet grew up in a working class Los Angeles neighborhood, selling newspapers to traffic at Santa Monica & Vine in Hollywood when he was eight. School and summer work continued through college with Bob handling jobs ranging from construction to cattle ranching and working in a merchant ship boiler room. He can handle the heat.

 

He eventually graduated with highest honors from John Marshall High School and the University of California in Santa Cruz, being the first in his family to attend a four-year college. After completing medical studies, Dr. Derlet spent his career as a Professor and Chief of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, serving two terms as Chief of Staff.

 

Contemplating retirement and wanting to live year-round near the Sierra Nevada, Dr. Derlet moved to Twain Harte five years ago and became a front-line primary care physician at a Rural Health Clinic in Tuolumne City. Listening to the struggles of patients trying to navigate a complex health care system while staying economically afloat galvanized him to run for Congress as our Democratic candidate in the Fourth District.

 

Dr. Derlet will be speaking this Saturday in a special Labor Day Weekend Meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club at Denny’s on Highway 41 with breakfast at 8:30 and our program at 9:30.

Along with Bob Derlet will be another Bob – Robert Carabas – running for the Fifth California District Assembly seat currently occupied by Frank Bigelow.

 

Carabas, a graduate of UC Berkley with a degree in English, is the father of two and grandfather of five. A retired corporate credit manager from Sonora, this Bob’s particular area of concern is Global Warming.

 

See you Saturday!

 

“75”

 

September 8, 2016

 

On this date Bernie Sanders turns 75.

 

So do I.

 

O.K., Bernie, where do we go from here?

 

I’m not sure about you, but I never thought I’d get past 10.

 

Back in 1950 when you and I were 9, we Fourth Graders played “duck and cover” at least once a month, diving under school desks as sirens wailed -- covering our eyes from that ever anticipated, permanently blinding flash of brilliant irradiated light accompanied by a searing wave of flesh scorching heat heralding the dreaded detonation of an enemy nuclear bomb.

 

Only five years had passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were blasted to kingdom come in the only two atomic explosions ever unleashed against our species, fate having chosen the Japanese people for this dubious distinction.

 

Doctor J. Robert Oppenheimer of UC Berkeley headed our government’s top secret “Manhattan Project,” a massive effort dedicated to designing an ultimate war weapon. The idea was to split atoms and unleash unimaginable energy generating thermonuclear heat of one hundred and fifty million degrees Fahrenheit, five times that of the sun’s fiery core. Witnessing the first successful test of his new “super bomb” on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert, Dr. Oppenheimer watched in awestruck terror, then gasped these words from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

 

Oppenheimer felt enormous personal responsibility for bringing such exotic theoretical physics to deadly practical fruition. As Chairman of the General Advisory Committee of a newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission, he lobbied after the war for international control of nuclear power to avert dangerous proliferation and a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. For these “Un-American” sentiments, he was removed as Committee Chairman, suffered complete revocation of security clearances, and was stripped of any meaningful political influence for the rest of his public life.

 

These were the “Joe McCarthy years” when the wild ravings of a drunken Wisconsin Senator took precedence over common sense and secured safety. There were “Commies” in the State Department, “Reds” way across town and “Pinkos” right up your block. Joe said he had solid names. He had only shameful notions. Edward R. Murrow nailed McCarthy coast to coast on CBS. Murrow’s closing words on the program come down to us through the years, perhaps particularly resonant today in the light of the seemingly inexplicable Trump phenomenon.

 

[_ “The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it -- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." _]

 

On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67–22, making him one of few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. McCarthy died of alcoholism on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48. 

 

Chapter Thirty-Five – “75”

 

 

 

 

So here we are, Bernie.

75!

 

As your “birth brother” -- you’ve made me proud.

 

You’ve awakened, enlightened and energized a whole new generation of dedicated young Americans, driven not by false memories of imagined yesterdays, but by the promising possibility of truer tomorrows.

 

Being a hero of our youth at 75 is no small achievement, Bernie.

 

I’m a hero to my cat, but only after a half can of “Puss ‘n Boots” and a healthy helping of Temptations “Savory Salmon” Classic Kitty Treats.

 

For purposes of full honest disclosure, Bernie, I should herein confess that I am actually a bit younger than you, having been delivered seven weeks prematurely by C-section. I spent my first two months outside the womb enclosed within the warm, comforting confines of a climate controlled hospital incubator, thus not having been born so much as hatched. Chirp. Chirp.

 

Thank you for resisting what must have been a powerful urge to launch a third party bid this election cycle despite enormous pressure to do so from highly inspired, hard fighting, true believing supporters. Yielding to this temptation might have split the Democratic Party in half and all but assured the election of Donald J. Trump.

 

You have saved us from collective catastrophe, international condemnation and universal scorn. And made more unlikely a sudden, blinding flash of brilliant white light.

 

 

Chapter Thirty-Six – “Down The Stretch”

 

 

 

Never toss college words at kindergarten minds.

 

Last Friday night, Hillary Clinton told enthusiastic supporters at a Manhattan fundraiser, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

 

For those suffering from laggard learning, Hillary might better have replaced the phrase “grossly generalistic” with a more easily understood “overstating very badly”—this being a perfectly acceptable, Webster-approved substitution for reasonably sophisticated ears. But reason is rare in certain circles.

 

By early Saturday morning Trumpty-Dumpty was bellowing from his golden fortress in Trump Tower, “Wow, Hillary Clinton was so insulting to my supporters. I think it will cost her in the polls!”

 

So signaled, Vice Presidential candidate Mike “The Poodle” Pence then belligerently barked before Christian conservatives in Washington, “Hillary, they are not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they are due your respect.” Assumedly, Poodle is including those torch bearing, pitchfork waving Neanderthals howling, “Lock her up!” at every perceived rally prompt. Yes, Neanderthals. Science says those recessive genes still reside in some. There was cross breeding 600,000 years ago. Check out your next Trump crowd. You can’t miss it.

 

Realizing her Friday phraseology had ignited a new volume of viper venom, Secretary Clinton qualified her comments Saturday, stating that use of the word “half” may have been a mathematical exaggeration, but it still remains certain that a large segment of Trump supporters include racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic viewpoints and that Trump’s new campaign CEO, Breitbart News executive Steven Bannon, is an individual that David Duke and other white supremacists openly honor as a champion of their values.

 

Now less than 8 weeks before Election Day on Tuesday, November 8th , we’re finally coming down the stretch. Many will be voting earlier by mail-in ballot. These will be sent to Madera County residents enjoying “Permanent Vote by Mail Status” in early October -- approximately 29 days before the General Election.

 

The fact that the Trump campaign can take (or fake) exception to perceived “insults” from Hillary Clinton is as ludicrous as Dumpty’s run for the Presidency itself.

 

By way of brief review, in the last few days, he who questioned a Federal judge’s honesty due to Mexican ancestry, attacked Gold Star parents for daring to oppose him and labeled women “fat pigs”, “dogs” and “bimbos,” just added a few new spins in his degrading diatribes. Trump heaped more praise on the leadership of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, insisted anew that “nobody wants to see (his) tax returns” and suggested that in a Trump administration, Iranian boats would be “shot out of the water if they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to.” Full fire at a finger? This outburst alone should settle the “temperament” issue once and for all.

 

American media isn’t helping matters any in attempting to bolster ratings and readership by fostering an assumed equity between Trump and Clinton in a disturbing and mindless portrayal of false equivalency that is dangerously irresponsible and misleading.

 

Each time some new crazy actions or accusations spring forth by, for or against Trump, the press seems obliged to trot out a corresponding negative story leveled against Hillary Clinton to provide an appearance of “balance” and “equal treatment” in their reporting. Thus, we keep repeatedly hearing thoroughly refuted nonsense about “Benghazi”, “Emails” and “The Clinton Foundation” ad nausea (to where it makes you sick, Trumpies) – when that’s evidently all they can try to hang her with against a continuing torrent of troubling Trump trip-ups.

 

President Obama said it best last week during his press conference in Laos: “I think the most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what (Trump) says and ask questions about what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright bad ideas. Somehow behavior, that in normal times we would consider completely unacceptable and outrageous, is becoming normalized.”

 

I hope you’ll be asking hard questions of “The Battling Bobs” next Monday, September 19th, as Dr. Bob Derlet and Robert Carabas join us for a “Meet the Candidates Pizza Party” from 6 till 8 PM at the Pizza Factory in Oakhurst. Democratic Doctor Bob is seeking to replace Tom McClintock as our Fourth Congressional District Representative, while Bob Carabas wants to unseat Frank Bigelow in the State Assembly.

 

Come on out for the fun Monday at The Pizza Factory. If you elect the Battling Bobs, you WON’T want to toss ’em. They’re awesome!

 

 

Chapter Thirty-Seven – “’Fraidycat”

 

 

 

 

You may have missed it.

 

In early September, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that Wells Fargo employees, facing pressure to meet unrealistic sales quotas, opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts for customers who never asked for them.

 

Almost immediately, the bank agreed to pay $185 million in fines for these illegal acts in attempting to defraud its customers. 5,300 employees in connection with the scandal were fired.

 

Their boss, 56 year-old Senior Vice President and Head of Community Banking, Carrie Tolstedt, has submitted her resignation. For diligent efforts on behalf of Wells Fargo, Ms. Tolstedt will receive a severance package totaling $125 million.

 

In announcing her separation from the company, Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer, John Stumpf, called Ms. Tolstedt, “a role model for responsible leadership” and “a standard bearer of our culture.”

 

Got that kids?

 

A role model.

 

Donald Trump has promised to do away with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as one of the first acts of his new administration.

 

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau back when she was still a Professor at Harvard Law School in 2007. She thought it would be a good start in climbing out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Trump doesn’t like Senator Warren either. He calls her, “Pocahontas.”

 

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of this current election cycle is the stunning prioritizing of form over substance, packaging over contents, tripe over truth.

 

As the First Presidential Debate is scheduled for next Monday, let’s see if Donald Trump can go one on one with Hillary and deal with real issues without displaying his fraidycat essence.

 

“Fraidycat.” That’s the word (it’s even in Merriam-Webster) Michael Moore wrote me in November of 1998 describing Donald Trump’s persona when they appeared together on a New York TV show. Trump had to be assured by Michael that Moore wouldn’t “go after him,” threatening to leave the studio without that understanding established. Mike amiably complied. Donald calmed down.

 

We’ve seen a whole lot of that fraidycat recently.

 

Flint Pastor Faith Green Timmons backed Trump down last week in one swift move, cutting him off in front of her entire congregation with a single hand grab as Donald was reaching mid-bellow. He instantly looked like a whipped weasel, but was much braver the following day, being safely away and out of reach when he called Reverent Timmons, “a nervous mess” on Fox & Friends.

 

In visiting the Mexican President on August 31st, Trump choked and never mentioned “The Wall” or “Who will pay for it?” until later that same day securely across the border in Phoenix, when he also implied President Enrique Pena Nieto lied in stating the Trumpster had been functionally told, “No way, Jose!” in opening comments by Nieto about border building. Donald also took the occasion on home turf to unleash a xenophobic tirade before such Latino antagonists as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe “Make ‘Em Wear Pink” Arpaio, just found guilty of contempt of court by a U.S. District judge and awaiting criminal prosecution.

 

Then we witnessed Trump abruptly refusing questions after staging a phony press conference last Friday in Washington. That’s when he solemnly declared that Barack Obama WAS born in America. But he replaced one fib with another, declaring Hillary Clinton was the one who started the “Birther” movement in the first place. He then scurried from reporters like a frightened ferret. I’m almost out of rodent references.

 

You can count on it. When push comes to shove, Donald scoots.

 

But it’s time to forget all this election business for a while and settle down with a good book.

 

Here comes the third annual Authors Faire from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday – this year taking place at the Oakhurst Community Center. Come and meet the authors, purchase signed copies of books and learn about writing in today’s publishing industry. A number of local businesses have donated raffle prizes. Food will be available for lunch.

 

I’ll be on the scene peddling “Local DJ” – “A Rock & Roll History.”

 

[*“Of all who had a major influence on me while growing up in the Midwest, none matched the audaciousness, tenacity and gonzo-like behavior of Peter Cavanaugh. He was the one who taught me how to go up against the powers-that-be and live to tell all. Thank you, Peter Cavanaugh, for “Local DJ” and for saving a generation of Flint kids from the likes of Pat Boone” *]


---- MICHAEL MOORE --

 

 

Chapter Thirty-Eight – “All That Rises”

 

 

After forty eventful years in broadcasting and what we thought was an early retirement, Eileen and I moved to Youngstown, Ohio in 1998, right after we helped the Toledo Irish-American Club join with the Lucas County Ancient Order of Hibernians to bring in The Wolftones – Ireland’s biggest rebel group. It was wall to wall.

Youngstown is Flint, Michigan without the glamour.

As the car industry collapsed in Michigan, steel mills had already closed their gates in Youngstown, crushed by the forces of unrestrained, steadily increasing overseas competitors. Jobs had flown across the Pacific to the shores of Japan.

In Mahoning County, Youngstown pumps water from Meander Reservoir. Locally it’s often said that’s where old gangsters dumped their dead. While we were there, the water was a peculiar, dusky color and tasted like watermelon. City fathers swore it was algae.

There's little consolation in consolidation. It was the beginning days of extensive corporate expansion. A broadcast outfit called Gocom Communications had purchased WKBN-TV, the big #1 CBS Television affiliate, and wanted to add five radio stations to Youngstown holdings. Their bank made a multi- million-dollar loan conditioned on my involvement as Vice President/General Manager to assemble and operate the radio group.

Necessitated by circumstance, I ran the five new properties acquired from separate former ownership through the end of the year, faithfully combining facilities, compressing logistics and sacrificing dozens of long time broadcast employees upon the altar of corporate efficiency. Thinning the herd. When I finally admitted to myself that I had become much more a Chief Executioner than Chief Executive, I left the radio business. Bob Dylan was right. Times were changing.

 

Youngstown was back in the news last week when Donald Trump’s Mahoning County campaign chair, Kathy Miller, announced there was no racism in America until Barack Obama was elected President. Elaborating on the subject, Ms. Miller proclaimed to the press, “If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your fault. You’ve had every opportunity. It was given to you.” Miller added, “You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages.” Miller also called the “Black Lives Matter” movement “a stupid waste of time” and said lower voter turnout among African Americans could be related to “the way they’re raised”.

 

Youngstown is a traditional Democratic stronghold. After decades of economic decline, it is now ground zero for disaffected white, working-class voters who are drawn to Donald Trump’s cynically hollow, utterly implausible promise to “bring back jobs.”

Before the primaries, some 6,000 Democrats in Youngstown switched party affiliation to Republican in order to vote for Trump, seeking remedy from a raging renegade and bitterly blaming all but themselves for sustained misfortune.

As well as chairing the Trump campaign in Youngstown, Kathy Miller was also an official Ohio elector to the Electoral College for Donald J. Trump. Backlash from Kathy’s comments has forced her resignation from both positions. Nonetheless, she represents a sad, resentful segment of our society willing to believe the brags and boasts of a bellicose bully offering fast facts, tough talk and easy answers.

In 1998 there was a wretched resonance in the air. I first saw it in Flint, then Toledo and finally Youngstown. It echoed in empty bars surrounding shuttered plants. It crowded into long lines at the unemployment office. It flashed and death danced in the eyes of abandoned factory workers resolutely pondering their unexpected fate and silently wondering without hopeful heart, “What happened to mine?” Often left unexplored was, “What can I do about it?” Personal initiative can be unfortunately uncommon.

In these troubled times so much farther down the road, perhaps Trump was inevitable. But beware. Highest reward can never be found in the lowest common denominator.

Democracy is not automatic, nor does success in any form arrive without adequate preparation, perseverance and patience. A stark reality not yet accepted by many is that yesterday’s jobs are not tomorrow’s answers. They are gone for good. Opportunities abound, but only for those willing to apply themselves and engage what lies ahead with determined dedication.

For every position eliminated by foreign competition, three are being lost to technology. This ratio is about to explode.

Whatever their occupation, workers need to begin learning how to add value that complements soft-powered automation. This is the future.

How to fairly and equitably distribute the product of such modern magic remains to be resolved. This is the new politics

Upward motion can drive us all. And unite.

All that rises must converge”. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1941)

 

Chapter Thirty-Nine – “Voice Your Choice”

The Presidential Campaign 2016 has less than five weeks to go.

 

Here’s a question for “undecided voters”.

 

What’s wrong with you?

 

On January 20, 2017, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States.

 

The only signal a vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein might send is that you placed personal political purity over practical public priority. Sorry. I’m not impressed.

 

Not voting is also a vote letting others choose your future -- putting on your slave collar. Surrender to surroundings? I’d rather fight.

 

Never before in my lifetime have I seen two candidates for the highest office in our land being more decidedly different in style and substance by any meaningful measure. This is not an election calling for deep philosophical reflection on positions presented followed by a rigorous review of issues, ideas and initiatives. The Democratic and Republican standard bearers are polar opposites this time out. It’s left or right. On or off. Up or down. Come on. Commit.

 

Although Hillary Clinton was not my first choice to lead this nation, she’s the only one now. Please.

 

The churlish cries of “Hillary lies” have become a primary rallying screech for most who oppose her election, yet ask anyone to honestly cite a single specific accusation not yet extensively explored and thoroughly discredited. Other than shameful sheep bleats from the FOX NEWS echo chamber (please watch where you step), silence will reign. All charges involving Benghazi, Emails and The Clinton Foundation fall into this category. For extended examination and grueling analysis to the point of utter exhaustion and sporadic suicidal impulses, you may check out past “For Your Consideration” columns at sierrastar.com. That’s what it’s there for. The new format is really cool.

 

Sniff. Donald J. Trump, on the other hand, is a spectacular liar. Sniff. It was super easy picking a new “Top 10 Donald Doozies” just from that last debate alone. Sniff. Trump rudely (he interrupted Hillary 55 different times -- 40 in the first 26 minutes) and loudly (his microphone was working perfectly well) lied about the following items before 82.5 million viewers.

 

Setting The Record Straight Thanks to Rachel Maddow

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Bill Clinton did NOT sign NAFTA. George H. W. Bush did.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Trump DID go on record saying that global warming was a “Chinese Hoax” and he did so more than once.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Trump DID repeatedly question President Obama’s citizenship long after             the President released his official Birth Certificate.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • The New York City murder rate is going DOWN, not UP

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Trump WAS in favor of invading Iraq in 2003 before it happened.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Hillary Clinton has NOT been fighting ISIS “all of her adult life.”

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Hillary did NOT start the “Birther” movement.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • “Stop and FriskWAS ruled unconstitutional by a Federal judge.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Trump DID suggest that he would “negotiate down the national debt.”

*
p<>{color:#000;}. • Trump DID support our Libyan involvement at the outset.

 

As witnessed above, a fair comparison between Hillary and Donald on the “fibbing front” seems quite one-sided. Are you kidding?

 

In weighing such matters as demeanor, experience, focus, character, self-discipline, temperament, intelligence, preparation and performance, I submit that Secretary Clinton is infinitely preferable to Mr. Trump for these and other crucial qualities.

 

Yet with everything factored, we still see men, particularly those who have not attended college or finished high school (the man in your life?) favoring Donald over Hillary by double digits. Discounting other thoughts and theories in attempting to comprehend what seems inexplicable in Trump’s rise and at least temporary resilience in this grouping; the outrageous gender differential remarkably evident in every poll being taken surely suggests -- that which dare not speak its name. Gynophobia.

 

Gynophobia: “An abnormal, extreme or irrational fear of women.”

 

It is important to note that gynophobia should not be confused with misogyny, which references hatred and contempt for women.

 

Gynophobes aren’t scornful -- they’re simply scared.

 

Ladies, tell your guys it’s perfectly safe. Women make fine rulers. Look at Joan of Arc. Elizabeth the First. Maggie Thatcher. Rosie O’ Donnell.

 

Gentlemen, let’s climb into our big boy pants – the stretchy ones from Duluth.

 

Barack Obama has declared that no candidate in modern history has been “more prepared than Hillary Clinton” to assume the office of the American presidency. In that assessment, President Obama includes himself and Hillary’s husband.

 

It’s hard imagining anyone less prepared than Trump.

 

Unless it’s Pence.

 

 

Chapter Forty – “Poodle’s Puddle”

 

 

 

There are established predictors.

 

When a Pope seeks signs of divine selection in nominees for Catholic Sainthood, he demands a minimum of two confirmed miracles.

 

As Napoleon Bonaparte would review junior officers for elevation to higher military status, he would ask of their superiors, “Are they “lucky?””

 

And in considering candidates for managerial promotion in our radio group when I was Chief Operating Officer, I would always openly wonder if those offered for selection were “housebroken.”

 

By this I would hope to determine whether the parties under consideration had that certain indefinable, instinctive grace to behave properly with acceptable decorum and effective action when confronted by surprising, often unpredictable, even unsettling situations -- achieving a positive outcome without embarrassing themselves or the company in the process. Using that word came into my head early on. I always found “housebroken” easily understood and awesomely functional.

 

In evaluating our recent Vice-Presidential debate between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike “The Poodle” Pence, I must suggest this Poodle is not housebroken.

 

For purposes of full disclosure, I herein admit that I watched the proceedings with supremely subjective bias, screaming at my flat screen with wild invectives every time Poodle offered yet another lame defense of the indefensible and hoping in each instance that Kaine would simply reach over and soundly, savagely slap him.

 

See? This whole election process has me passionately out of control. I offer no apology. Any other response would seem disgustingly irrational and wholly inadequate, yet I do promise to externally behave much more than not with professional propriety, desiring to break no houses myself in offering admirable adult example to twelve impressionable grandchildren and any number of their small domestic pets.

 

As my own Irish grandfather, William McClasky, once warned, “Never trust a man with not a hair our of place!” I suppose that’s when my own instinctive dislike of Pence first started. This judgment has been consistently reaffirmed ever since.

 

The embarrassing doglike loyalty Pence unapologetically offers in his relationship with The Donald earns Mike his Poodle nickname and was evidenced once again only hours after the debate.

 

Concerned that Trumpty was infuriated with reports that Pence had pulled off a better and more distinguished performance than his Excellency, Pence proclaimed, “Some people thought I won, but from where I sat, Donald Trump won. His vision to make America great again carried the day!” This fawningly confirmed Trump’s instant public declaration after the sparring concluded that he was “getting lots of credit” for choosing Mike Pence as his running mate and that was his “first hire.” This attempts to erase memory of Donald’s initial campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was fired for general incompetence just before Pence’s selection. The Trumpster’s second organizational chief, Paul Manafort, was dismissed only days later for receiving multi-million dollar pay-offs from pro-Russian clients. Some relationships offer more in immediate compensation than eventual comfort.

 

Although remaining calm, cool and collected during the proceedings, particularly when compared with his master, Pence’s puddle became dramatically self-evident once fact checking was underway. Keeping faith with Trump campaign culture as he displayed a perfectly straight face and ramrod straight composure, Poodle lied his tail off. This splashed down smoothly without the slightest hint of personal embarrassment.

 

Abundant evidence easily available to the contrary, Pence repeatedly denied almost everything both he and Trump have said during the course of the campaign. A true indictment of the currently bewildered state and sadly unpredictable future of the Republican Party can be found in a new, widely held popular opinion in GOP land. The whispered word is that even if Pence didn’t really do Trump that much good in the debate, at least he brilliantly got a leg up over future competitors, setting himself up as Trump’s inevitable successor.

 

Voices of darkest desperation thus ring with hollow hope.

 

Lasting shame, thy name is Trump.

 

Thy pooch is Poodle Pence.

 

 

Chapter Forty-One – “Jumpers”

 

 

We have descended into madness.

 

In the face of outrageous, undisciplined, unprincipled behavior on the part of the Republican Party’s national standard bearer, a significant percentage of our fellow Americans are nonetheless prepared to leap off the ledge November 8th and cast their ballots for a mental midget whose tiny paws can’t stay where they belong.

 

Trump no longer speaks to the masses. He screams to the mobs with incendiary rhetoric more common in earlier times from Caligula’s throne, Mussolini’s balcony, or Hitler’s podium at Nuremberg.

 

A new acquaintance in his early 80’s just informed me that Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Tim Kaine is a secret Muslim, running covert operations for ISIS in every major city across the land, recruiting dozens by the day. This gentleman faithfully watches FOX News, but caught wind of the Kaine conspiracy from a pal of his who watches Alex Jones on You Tube.

 

Jones is a multi-millionaire who’s made his fortune making up crazy stuff. What he comes up with is so far out that it gets reported by mainstream media, where ratings and revenue rule. Political correctness notwithstanding, everyone loves a freak show. This free promotion brings more viewers aboard who subscribe to his website, buy his books and ring that cash register. Ka-Ching. Alex makes them feel smart. They make Alex rich.

 

Alex scored again last week, saying this about Hillary Clinton: “She is an abject, psychopathic demon from hell that as soon as she gets into power is going to try and destroy the planet.” Jones added that President Obama is a demon too, “and they both smell like sulfur.” I understand this caused quite a stir the following morning in early risers’ coffee cups at Judy’s Donut Club, aging heads nodding in tacit agreement over how we really do need to be great again.

 

In many circles, rhyme and reason have been banished from discussion. Nothing matters except keeping Hillary and Bill Clinton from returning to the White House.

 

No matter what, mystifying consensus continues to pretend there’s a genuine possibility that Donald Trump can bring back all those jobs lost in the rust belt, create a giant border wall from sea to shining sea paid for by the people of Mexico, end poverty in the inner cities, replace The Affordable Care Act with something “much, much better”, deport millions of “illegal immigrants”, quickly defeat “Radical Islamic Terrorism” within weeks, balance the budget by the Fourth of July, teach dogs how to talk and knock down the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor to make way for “Trump Tower Two”, the highest human edifice ever created, stretching 238,857 miles into the sky all the way to the moon.

 

A primary argument heard from Trumpies and Trumpettes is that our next President will be appointing a number of new Justices to the Supreme Court, perhaps as many as three or four. They fanaticize that while Hillary would surely nominate Communists, at least Trump, nuts or not, is a much safer bet. Hah!

 

What if Donald “Law and Order” Trump decides to put a real cop on the Court and chooses his buddy, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Jr. for such powerful distinction? Clarke is a major supporter of Mr. Trump. Sheriff Clarke’s latest pronouncement on the pending election was that “It’s incredible that our institutions of government, the White House, Congress, the Department of Justice and big media are corrupt. Pitchfork and torches time!” This tweeted appeal for a violent patriotic uprising surely suggests that Clarke would be an ideal, ruthless enforcer of stern judicial wisdom in a Trump administration. Take no prisoners. Just shoot them. Our safety will be secured.

 

Jumper Tom McClintock, our Fourth District Congressional Representative in this neck of the woods, still seems reticent to accept my humble recommendation of several months ago to “scrape Donald Trump from the bottom of (his) boot”. However, I feel it most appropriate to conclude this column commending Tom for his recent decision to support Proposition 64 legalizing recreational marijuana in California. Representative McClintock properly observes, “Legalization take the criminal profit out of the equation and allows us to regulate marijuana the same way we currently regulate alcohol.

 

I’ll smoke to that.

 

Chapter Forty-Two – “Lady and The Trump

 

 

 

It was Round Three.

 

The lady looked lovely. The Trump looked scared.

 

The biggest laugh of the night came when The Trump said, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody!”

 

This proved to be too much for an audience pledged to silence.

 

Muffled giggles quickly yielded to choked chuckles before finally bursting into loud, unrestrained laughter. After all, it’s not just a “He said/She said” anymore. Now it’s a “He said/She said /She said/ She said/ She said/ She said/ She said/ She said /She said/ She said/She said /She said-- with more to come.

 

Even though Secretary Clinton continues to climb in polling with the election just 11 days away, it’s clear The Trump still commands a significant amount of national support, particularly remarkable in the light of his demonstrable deficiencies and utter unsuitability for high office.

 

In far too many quarters, civic ignorance reins supreme.

 

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be” – Thomas Jefferson (1816)

 

It is important to remember that “ignorant” does not mean dim, dumb, or demented. The most basic dictionary definition of “ignorant” is simply “lack of knowledge.” At a deeper functional level, Webster points out that the root verb “ignore” specifically means “to deliberately disregard, pay no attention to or refuse to consider.”

 

I sadly suggest that millions of our fellow citizens who regard themselves as law abiding, God-fearing, patriotic Americans are convincingly well intended, but critically clueless as to how government works. You can’t fix it if you don’t understand it. You can’t understand it if you don’t study it. You can’t study it if you don’t want to learn. You can’t learn anything without an open mind.

 

Four years ago – way before The Trump started his pursuit of the presidency -- here’s what former Supreme Court Justice David Souter said at a public forum on the U.S. Constitution in New Hampshire: “When problems are not addressed, what I worry about is that people will not know whom to blame. Some one person will come along and say, “Give me total power and I will solve these problems. This is how the Roman Republic fell. This is the way democracy dies.”

 

Behold – The Trump.

 

“I am your voice! I alone can fix it! I will restore law and order!”

 

Donald Trump, although wildly unprepared, clinically crazy and thoroughly thuggish, is nevertheless correct about crushing inequity.

 

The top one-tenth of one percent of all Americans owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. More than one half of all new income generated since the Wall Street Crash of 2008 has gone to the top 1 percent. We are working longer hours for lower wages and have one of the highest child poverty rates on the planet with a quarter of our kids going to bed hungry tonight.

 

It is un-American to ignore such things.

 

According to Fortune Magazine, the U.S.A. currently is confronted with the largest inequality gap of any major nation in the entire free world. Our economy IS “rigged” against the middle class, let alone those even more unfavorably positioned. Flag waving Trump cheerleaders at revved up rallies boisterously chanting “U.S.A. – U.S.A.” are ironically paying continuing tribute to their own escalating decline.

 

Worried about “The Establishment?”

 

The Trump IS “The Establishment” – a self-proclaimed billionaire and self-confessed sexual predator who’s scammed the system, cheated on wives, conned contractors, flaunted the rules, scorned “losers” stupid enough to pay taxes, and credits no one but himself on all he is and has – a narcissistic megalomaniac loose in our midst.

 

Hillary Clinton has paid her dues and then some.

 

This lady was the first ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College, a distinguished graduate of Yale Law School, a former Law Professor at the University of Arkansas, a former First Lady of Arkansas and First Lady of the United States. The lady was elected twice to the U.S. Senate from New York, the second time in 2006 with 67 percent of the vote against her Republican rival’s 31 percent. That’s a two to one win. Then she served for four years as Secretary of State, having been appointed to that position by a former adversary who admired her intensity, intelligence and integrity.

 

As much as one might pillory Hillary for human flaws and failings, Donald Trump is a garbage dump.

 

I’m one old white guy who’s voting for the lady.

 

If The Trump doesn’t like it – he can sue me.

 

 

Chapter Forty-Three – “Life On Pluto”

 

 

 

 

He unraveled.

 

Back in the day, folks would say he had a “nervous breakdown.”

 

Yet it is difficult not characterizing FBI Director James Comey as being other than a self-righteous, supercilious, sanctimonious fool.

 

In plain English, dismissing him as a selfish jerk. Such designation is seemingly warranted for displaying such a deluded, distorted sense of purist personal integrity at the expense of an overriding national interest in our collective security.

 

Comey tossed a live grenade into the final days of Election 2016 on Friday in the form of an inexplicably terse, extraordinarily ill advised and possibly illegal announcement that the Bureau had suddenly stumbled upon certain emails that appeared “to be pertinent” to Comey’s testimony under oath before members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

 

While Comey had agreed to keep the Committee informed of any substantial new developments in the case of Clinton’s emails, it didn’t take much time before it became evident that that Comey, acting alone and against the advice of his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other top Justice Department officials, didn’t have any idea what he was declaring --- the word “clueless” coming to mind both literally and figuratively. There didn’t seem to be much substance in the “ substantial development” after all.

 

This new possibly “pertinent” material had been found on a laptop computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, husband of Huma Abedin, long time assistant to Hillary Clinton. Weiner is under FBI investigation for prurient activities involving his surname -- otherwise defined and immodestly transmitted.

 

When the ship hit the sand in a megaton media explosion rivaling the discovery of life on Pluto, Comey hurriedly sent out a staff memo that sheepishly confessed, “Given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.” He added, “In the middle of an election cycle, there is a significant risk of being misunderstood.”

 

Yep. He nailed it there.

 

Here’s Donald Trump bellowing onstage only moments after word got out: “This is bigger than Watergate!” – to which his characteristically menacing mob, red hats stylishly substituting for the more traditional brown shirts, screamed at the top of their tobacco encrusted lungs, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

 

Just down the road, 22nd District Congressman Devin Nunes, in a typical break from reality, told Fox News on Sunday, “I just don’t see Director Comey opening this case back up 11 days before the election unless it is quite serious.” Representative Nunes is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. This thought alone dramatically demonstrates the desirability of electing a Democratic House majority come Tuesday.

 

Although I hate being redundant let alone repeat myself, here’s what was observed in this column way back on July 21st:

 

“James Comey is the straightest man I’ve ever seen on national TV – the ultimate Boy Scout — as tight as a mouse’s rear stretched over a barrel. He is extraordinarily conscientious, perhaps even perilously proper to extremes. When he scratches an itch, he thinks it’s sex.”

This was written in the context of trying to figure out why Comey had felt compelled to add the word “extremely” to his assessment of Hillary Clinton being “careless” with her email handling, although he also had testified that Mrs. Clinton wasn’t the first Secretary of State to use a private server. Far from it. Such judgment didn’t seem to fit with Comey’s more important bottom line evaluation that Hillary hadn’t done anything remotely approaching criminal behavior, nor had those with whom she worked. He later said this decision wasn’t even a close call. I surmised that “extremely” was unfortunately incorporated into the Director’s presentation in a doomed effort to placate former Republican friends hating Hillary and dedicated to her destruction.

After weeks of being referenced in the alt right press as a moral moron, legal loser and hack for Hillary, Comey panicked at news of the Weiner revelation and yielded to irresponsible self-interest in fear of further infuriating conservative sensitivities.

In detonating his bombshell, James Comey sought to present us with a dutifully delivered exclamation point, but instead produced a divisive, highly prejudicial question mark.

Here is a man thought above reproach falling far below the most minimal standards of dutiful responsibility.

Appropriate resolution? Immediate expression of regret, followed by eventual resignation.

Uncertainty is ubiquitous. Few things are absolute. Blurred lines abound.

Loosen up, Jimmy.

Confidence born of constricted consciousness muddles minds and limits life.

Those who dwell in a black and white world never see rainbows.

 

Chapter Forty-Four – “Snow on The Water”

 

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.

 

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/_]

 

Chapter Forty-Five – “Free Fall”

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Chapter Forty-Six – “Goodbye Medicare”

 

 

 

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 in The Sierra Star, a McClatchy publication serving the Yosemite region.

 

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)

 

Chapter Forty-Seven – “Bamboozlement”

 

 

 

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):

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. (1) To deceive by underhanded methods: dupe, hoodwink.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. (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 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)

 

 

 

 

Chapter Forty-Eight – “Hamilton”

 

 

 

 

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 19 th 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 us hope and pray.

 

 

Chapter Forty-Nine – “President 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.

 

 

Chapter Fifty – “Shout Hallelujah!”

 

 

 

 

“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.

 

 

Chapter Fifty-One – “Twitterdee Dum”

 

 

 

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 in our little mountain community, 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 that -- 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)

 

 

About The Author

At the age of sixteen in 1957, Peter C. Cavanaugh enjoyed a fifty-eight percent total audience share on his hometown station, WNDR in Syracuse, New York. Decades later, he wrote "Local DJ" -- a book about his adventures ever since, promoting and producing literally hundreds of early concerts with the likes of Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Kiss and so on, as well as running Reams Broadcasting -- a seven station radio group which included the top-rated Rock & Roll stations in America. In the early '80's, Cavanaugh introduced Michael Moore to an unsuspecting public over WTAC and WWCK in Flint, Michigan.

 

Mr. Cavanaugh is former Chairman of the NBC Source Board, President of the ABC Radio Affiliates Board and President of the Flint Area Advertising Federation. He is a multiple award winning broadcast executive -- prominently featured in Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Peter lives in Oakhurst, California, with his wife of 50 years, Eileen, and remains active with broadcast consulting, writing, counseling and public speaking.

 

COOL LINKS:

 

"Digital Scrapbook" -- http://www.wildwednesday.com

"Professional Website" -- http://www.petercavanaugh.com

Peter C. "Blog Site" -- http://www.petercavanaugh.wordpress.com

Facebook Link -- http://www.facebook.com/peter.cavanaugh1

To Write Peter Cavanaugh -- mailto:[email protected]

"Remembering WTAC" -- http://www.facebook.com/big6WTAC

"Sherwood Forest Concerts" -- http://www.facebook.com/SherwoodForestInDavisonMI

 

 

 

 

 


"Twitterdee Dum"

"Twitterdee Dum" is a compliation of columns and articles published during calendar year 2016 by Peter Cavanaugh -- continuing an annual practice ever since Mr. Cavanaugh discovered Smashwords in his never ending search for guilt free sex, talking dogs and a New World. A particularly unique aspect of "Twitterdee" is that it tracks the meteoric rise of Trump in chronological sequence, frequently predicting his inevitable demise, a joyous event yet to occur.

  • ISBN: 9781370648696
  • Author: Peter Cavanaugh
  • Published: 2017-01-11 21:50:31
  • Words: 36839