Thursday, April 18, 2019

In Redaction

Mueller the cat is fine until he goes to the Barr
     Mueller the cat discovers you can't be too careful about who you believe. You trust the wrong person with the truth and it's like they steal your head.

life by headlines
   # It is no surprise, but William Barr's reputation is getting kicked like the soccer ball at the playground. Time to ponder him later. 

    The other headline is what got left out of the early "review." In journalism we call it "burying the lead." 

     Which lead, you ask? What strikes me at the moment is the summary implication of the Mueller Report.
      By way of explanation it seems that Kamala Harris, for example, could say one day-
      "China, if you have any information on the Trump regime, maybe e-mails, tell us about it." 
       She could encourage China to get active in social media and try to get her elected. Maybe she could meet with Chinese agents in Trump Tower to talk about their helping her campaign. 
     Or Kirstin Gillibrand could do likewise with Saudi Arabia, Sanders with North Korea, Warren with Norway.
     It is not illegal to meet with foreign governments who interfere in our election and who work to get you elected, and it is not illegal to deny the meetings or lie about what went on. It is not illegal to re-Tweet or post on social media, outright fabricated stories designed to sew divide in your nation.
     Oh and it's not illegal to secretly connive to build a hotel in any one of those locations, and to lie about that. So there!
     Can you picture the field of debate candidates all wearing blazer flag patches, or pins of their "interfering sponsor."       
     Can't you hear the announcer- 
     "Candidate Pete Buttigieg, sponsored by Oxford University, Betto O'Rourke running this year with interference from Mexico, Corey Booker who is meeting with agents from Canada, Joe Biden who is working on a resort deal in Sydney..."

such is the trump precedent

     The obvious question, if they did nothing wrong, why did they lie about so much? 
      There is so much more life in the Mueller report and on even more serious avenues. 
     The most immediate casualty is William Barr.
     The journeyman Republican lawyer joins a crowd of those made toxic by Trump. He was no brilliant scholar but he paid his dues as a conservative apparatchik. He was not a major player, but his reputation did not have stink on it, until he publicly auditioned to join the gang and then displayed what it  is to be a trump pimp.

wait till mueller talks

      The report is a treasure of findings and insight. Listen to the analysts as you will, but take time to read as much of the report for yourself. Read coverage from a range of views and try to ignore the obvious television yack yacks. 
      This began when Russia interfered in our election and did what they could to get Trump elected. How all of us, and some of us in particular responded to such an obvious intellectual, emotional and informational invasion draws the measure of our character. 
       Several investigations continue. The legislative branch will now exercise it's authority and role. What is toxic and flesh eating in the American body politic becomes more obvious. 
        We just may learn the faces of treason and the motivation of personal greed, and find a new bottom in integrity, capability and national fidelity. 
        but for now, a drive in wine country 

 Halter Ranch Winery

 it's a great year for lupine, even in the vineyards

  Oh, and Cheers! As one observer noted: as much as he tried to obstruct and rant and rave, Trump was unable to break the judicial system, because some around him refused to do what he asked or demanded. But, he tried....and now 
the ball moves to the Congressional Court. 

   See you down the trail.

Friday, April 12, 2019


    There's a rumble in the media.
     Journalists, diplomats, legal analysts, security and intelligence officials, jurists and prosecutors are having a go with the topic "Journalism and Wikileaks." 

   You've read the diverse and emphatic views of whether Julian Assange is a journalist or if Wikileaks is journalism. Good arguments abound.
    During a life in journalism I came to the view that most of government and the business done in the name and employ of the taxpayer, ought to be as transparent and fully disclosed as possible. The public has a right to know and it is an almost unlimited right, almost!
    Investigative reporters rely on sources, some of them confidential. In my experience there were a few times we reasoned a court order to disclose a source could be down the line. I was certain I would not divulge a source and therefore would have to pay the piper for contempt of a court order. I was spared that. 
    Some things need to be undisclosed if trust is to be kept and sources are to be protected. Journalists also look for cover.
    Our sources in the intelligence, security and law enforcement sector have their own sources of information and knowledge. Knowing something is both the commodity and the modus operandi.   
    I knew of investigations, operations, penetrations and understood that disclosure of information would likely cause harm. That is reality. 
   I sat in an intelligence oversight committee room in the Capitol dome as an admired and respected Congressman and committee chair told me "some things that need to be done to protect the US and to give the President and Congress options, do not look so good in the light of day."  That was the standard, and I understood it. But I worked to verify as much as I could. 

    I published and broadcast information and details from files, records, reports, and evaluations that someone did not want released. Often the motive was to protect, conceal or obfuscate something that was illegal, damaging, dangerous, deceitful, wasteful or questionable. In most cases the leaked information was a piece of confirmation, a detail of reality, a fact. 
     When I learned an agency had an asset inside a suspected terrorist cell, when I knew a raid was scheduled at kick off time on Super Bowl Sunday, or when the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) investigated a report of a planted nuclear device near a national sports event, I sat on the info. Though I am a devotee to full disclosure, open access, and transparency, I understand there are limits and for good cause.
      Before I add a voice to the fray, I thought it important to provide a context.

julian assange is not a journalist

      Assange is a hacker, a leaker and he answers to no standard other than his own. He is a self imposed arbiter of right and purpose. He alone divines, subject to himself, only. 
    Still, I think some Wikileaks disclosures are valuable to a public knowledge of policy, though some of the information carries a high price.
     Sensitive information was revealed. Most of the disclosed information had previously been supervised and/or given oversight by appropriate congressional or judicial sources. 
     Some of the information comprised sources and assets and revealed programs that then lost their advantage. State Department officials reasoned with Assange to moderate his leak. He refused.
     Assange is a rogue player operating by whim, zeal, and pride. He has no allegiance to principle but himself. 
     When journalists get information from an Assange, a Snowden or other sources they seek to filter information that might cause harm. They impose standards. 
     There is a history of news organizations negotiating with government agencies or the military about what can and can't be revealed.
     In a democratic republic the last action in the negotiating process is the journalistic decision to publish or not, knowing and weighing the consequence.
      This is a deliberate and intelligent process and while events like the Pentagon Papers, or Boston Globe Spotlight investigation of Catholic sexual abuse or our own revelation of an attempted KGB penetration prior to a summit may leave wakes of turbulence and debate, there are standards applied and levied by multiple voices in a process.  Not for Assange, he shows no such respect for deliberation or reason. 
   Wikileaks is not a journalistic organization. Like its master, it is a leaker of information and subjective about who, what, when, where, and why. 
    In a long view, what they do may be informative, helpful even, but there is no canon, no code, no rules of engagement. At the core there is just Assange and his petulant insistence that we should trust him to know what is best and what should be known.
    That too is not journalism. Our technologies may have eclipsed our sense of judgment. A sense of reason seems endangered in our cyber world.
spring blessings
   The lupine is an especially joyful messenger of our California spring.

    See you down the trail.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fresh Air

    Lana and I have chuckled about what the woman at the garden center must have thought when we showed up back in the spring of 2007 asking about a wonderful plant with which we were smitten.
  After our amusing attempt to describe it, she realized we were talking about Echium, or Pride of Madeira. 
   We moved in January, from a bleak and dreary Indianapolis winter and were bowled over by the vibrance of California winter blooms and Echium was, to our eyes, an exotic.
  When she heard we wanted to "buy" a start she said, "If you have some near by, you might just wait" for it to spread. We didn't know then what we've learned in the last 12 years-it grows mightily and has to be kept cut back or it takes over.  Still, we love it every year at this time as it displays it's arrays of color and hue.

stars of wine country
  The field crews, who work for the viticulturist or wine grower are the unsung heroes of wine country. Here they are doing a late winter/early spring trimming of the vines.
      In the fall these crews will return to harvest, displaying a skill and speed that is stunning.
    We caught these people in action in a region of the Paso Robles appellation know as Pleasant Valley, near San Miguel, north of Paso Robles and east of the 101. It was a good outing for us as we spend most of our wine country visits in the "westside." It stretched our horizon. 
     Navigators Mike and Sue tracked us to a mom and pop winery that is opened on rare days and by appointment.
     The Mom and Pop purchased the land for a retirement home, and thought they might "raise a few vines." He works for a big Winery, she's a writer in tech. Years later they still live upstate and their retirement is still a few years off. They didn't build a home, they built a winery.
   Cinquain Cellars is an award winning artisanal winemaker and is developing a loyal following. 
   The Pleasant Valley wine trail opens with wide vistas and a gentle undulation.
   And it is diverse. The Villa San Juliette Vineyard and Winery sits near more "barebones" neighbors. Out here on the east side, as everywhere in the Paso Robles appellation, there is a range of style, vibe and wine. 

saturday school
   On a recent Saturday in the westside, Denner winemaker Anthony Yount, standing to the left of the chef, conducted an introduction to winemaking and a wine-food pairing seminar. 
        Back in another era I would have bristled at the idea of spending a Saturday in school. With wine and food as the content, I bristle not so much.

land of the free, home of the brave
     Soon we may all have a chance to put our eyes on the Mueller report, at least in some redacted version. I hope everyone takes an interest. Hope so, but some will refuse to read it. Why? 

      It is immoral to separate a child from parents and have no good way to match or record keep. It is evil to keep a child from parents for two years, or longer. 

     Did you see where the American fool told people his father was born in a German village. (Would that be the Bronx?) 
     Is he truly delusional or just a lying chimeric collusion of feculence?
     Aren't either, cause enough to haul him out? Seriously.

     Can't rodent control or crime prevention or no contact with reality be grounds for impeachment? You don't think so? Why?

    Even a cat named Joy seems fed up. 

     See you down the trail.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Her Special Thumb....What Direction is This?

junction of forces
 Leffingwell Landing North, Cambria
8:30 am

     That's where we are, at a junction of forces. There is a lot at play. 
       An atmospheric front moves through the scene above and it changes things; how people feel, the light diffusion, humidity, wind and more. The Pacific is a grand energy and power of its own. It tunes the temperature, winds, and carries storms and is the world to marine life. The land stands by uplifts and movement and rises from the beach to the mountains and rock, pastures, wild life, forests and climates.
        This nation, at this time, is in a similar frame and depth of complexity-a junction of political forces and history.

what direction is this?

        Founder Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 
     He was asked after the Constitutional Convention what sort of government had the delegates created.
      "A Republic, if you can keep it."
       Franklin said when you bring an assembly of people for the benefit of their joint wisdom, you also assemble all of their "prejudices, passions, errors of opinion, local interest and their selfish views."

     History is stitching into the weave that binds this democratic republic. We are at a rare place and power now collides.
     The Legislative and the Executive branches have launched legal/constitutional disputes. The Parties are wrestling for their own souls and they are at a bitter war with each other. Citizen dialogue is dysfunctional and mean. Legal scholars debate who has power and who can do what to whom. Some of the corporate media are hysterical and act as cheerleaders. Social media is manipulation, assault, and role playing. Federal agencies are under a dismantlement or allowed to atrophy and crumble. The US is under cyber and thought attack.
      The Mueller Report did not end the loudest drama. For better or worse, it is a beginning of a new round of contest, vibrating through our Republic, if we can keep it.

her special thumb
     I'm fortunate to love an artist, who is also a gardener.  Lana's mother could grow anything and was forever puttering in ornamental beds and vegetable gardens. Daughter is like Mother. She continues to transform our place on the ridge to a sanctuary for mind and soul. Peace grows here.

into lana's garden
      Here's our annual visit to Lana's spring Garden.
      I hope you can take a few moments with these images to savor and enjoy the detail of how she composes with color, light, shape and texture.   

   It was a hope-to have bearing citrus trees, at our home. The ability to pick fruit on the back hill is a kick for a midwestern kid. 

    Lana is amazed at the robust growth of the artichoke plants. I relish consumption. 

    For someone who grumbles and grouses about weeds, she certainly has a winsome way with photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom Plantae. She is a plantae painter.

     See you down the trail.