Thursday, August 10, 2017


Gloaming at the shore
Cambria CA

twilight of reason
     Holding the current escalation in mind, remember these words from one year ago. 
        "We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history." 
        Last August some 50 Republican national security, foreign policy, intelligence and diplomatic experts who worked for Republican Presidents from Nixon to George W. Bush issued a position paper stating why they would not vote for the Republican nominee Trump.
         Here are some of their thoughts.
         "From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.

        "Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President."

            "Mr. Trump lacks the temperament to be President."

            "He lacks self-control and acts impetuously."

           "All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander- in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal."

       These men were "the real deal." They are experienced in the real world. They are deep and thoughtful. Republicans too. Astounding that members of the House, Senate did not or have not paid them a bit of attention.

        You can read the entire statement and see credential of the signatories here. I urge you to do so, especially if you were/are a trump supporter.

a gathering fog

    In this dry, tinder like season we love to see the marine fog bank beginning to line up.
     The heavy bank whispers in and shrouds the central coast over night, providing a welcomed dampening cool.
        Political foggery is less welcome.

the pence aperient
      I first met Mike Pence when he was a small town radio talk jock and failed congressional candidate. Someplace in his evolution from Irish Democrat to right wing evangelical he decided he wanted to be President. Mike is running now, despite what he says publicly. Just as he seems programed to be piously smug, he is programmed to run.
      He and his people have been making the rounds of heavy contributors and GOP apparatchiks. Before he was sacked Anthony Scaramucci let it slip that's what was up, especially with recent staff changes. 
      Pence is a curious fixture on the scene. After a tour as a member of congress he went back to Indiana to run for governor to bolster his presidential ambitions. He followed the skilled Mitch Daniels and should have just followed in the wake, instead he mucked it up so badly his own party was considering dumping him in the re-election campaign, but that's when the sig rune Schutstaffel lighting bolt named trump struck.
      A bit of advice Mike, stay as far away from Trump and Trumpista thought as you can. If you want to prove your testicles are still in place cut out the "fake news"  and "America first" garbage.  And by all means quit fawning over and paying homage to a serial adulterer, sexual predator, habitual liar, narcissistic, real estate hustler. 
      Even as far out of the mainstream that some of your ideas are, your temperament at least would be a change for the better. Watch yourself, you just may get your dream.

google goobering
    I read James Damore's Google's Ideological Echo Chamber-that's the memo that got him fired.You can read it for yourself, here. It's the latest wrinkle in a trouble of our time.
    Close to the core of the matter is the issue of freedom of speech and thought. We are having trouble with that now.
     In the Atlantic cover story and his new book How America Went Haywire, Kurt Anderson lays much of the blame on the free speech and free thought movement of the 1960's. To simplify Anderson's interesting thoughts, the trump movement and other far right elements, have appropriated the 1960's arguments, tactics and "approval" of things alternative-"you do your thing, I'll do mine," "everything's cool." 
     As Anderson and others including this blogger have noted,  Daniel Patrick Moynihan said it well
     "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."  He said that a long time ago and fearfully we live at a time when people claim their own facts.
       I'm not convinced the root of that was the unhinging of things in the 1960's, but it no doubt contributed and the echoes continue to resound. "Fake News" is only a symptom. Ditto Damore's Google memo.
      Damore professes to be open, believing in diversity, and agrees that sexism exists. He tries to ride through the eye of a needle and question what he sees as cultural and intellectual deficits at Google. He perceived a bias. For that he is accused of sexism, and he gets fired. 
      After reading Damore's memo several times I think he was trying to generate discussion in a knee jerk hyper sensitive culture that permits such alleged "indiscretions" where words are ruled to make people "uncomfortable" or "feel assaulted." It is the age of "micro aggressions!"
      Damore, or anyone who tries to raise these topics such as bias, discrimination, revisionism or any of the isms or to seek an examination of values is likely to get his or her head handed to them. I come away thinking he was indeed trying to provoke thought and discussion in a corporate culture.
      But at the same time he asserted ideas and "facts" about sexual and gender differences that in my opinion were too broad, overly arching and beyond his expertise. Had I been his editor, I would have challenged him. But we just don't have many editors anymore, anywhere. That is especially true in trying to divine the line between what we think or believe and what is reality. I understand how some of Damore's "certainty" about women was offensive or could be construed to be that way. 
      I grew up in a newsroom-profane and profound-loud and argumentative, collaborative and demanding,verification and confirmation were foundational. Nothing was sacred, nothing was off limits and even as "tough" as that culture was it allowed for true intellectual wrestling and it revered facts. "Truth" was an ideal and the only way to approximate it was to allow everyone to say their piece, take their shots, do their research, state the facts and if something was still left standing, then maybe someone would say, let's go with that. 
       It might be time to leave feelings (and guns) at the door and make sure we don't call opinion, theory, or belief a fact or a reality and then we could re engage this nation in conversation and debate. Of course having an open mind would be helpful.  Know where you can find any?

      See you down the trail   

Monday, August 7, 2017


   Reminded me of a Sci-fi thriller. Transformer vs Fish Cloud.
     It was an odd and solitary cloud. Please note-I was not the odd and solitary shopper at the big box parking lot to pause and snap a shot, there were others taking note as well. 
       At first glance we thought it was a stuffed animal put atop the ledge at the Vets Hall on Farmer's market Friday.
        No, he was the real deal and seems to wish I'd get out of the way so he can keep an eye on his companion, busy at the market. 

screwing our veterans
      More than 700 veterans, family members and former employees of a Halliburton subsidiary were kicked in the teeth by a federal judge who dismissed a major lawsuit against the defense contractor over burn pit operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
        The Vets alleged the burn pits caused them chronic and deadly respiratory diseases and cancer. 
        Patricia Kime of McClatchy news reports US District Court Judge Roger Titus wrote that the company, KBR, could not be held liable for a military decision. The judge said he didn't have jurisdiction to hold the Pentagon responsible. 
         The suit had tied together cases across the US and included 63 specific complaints and 44 national class action suits.
        KBR operated the burn pits running them near where troops lived and worked. Allegedly KBR burned stuff that should not have been put in the pits; paint, batteries, computers, fuel, plastic, medical waste. 
       Plaintiffs report a range of diseases resulting from exposure, including life threatening conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological issues, cancer and constrictive bronchiolitis. 
       The judge said KBR was just following orders and that it was a military matter.  Victims and family members are furious. 
       It is pretty much par for the course. We put men and women in harms way, sometimes even greater jeopardy because of poor command decisions, and then we leave vets holding the bag. Combine that with the Inspector General's finding of wholesale fraud and waste in both wars-in the Billions, and you are left with corporations that made huge war profits, bonuses for executives and our loyal troops sick and dying and no one is held responsible. 
      It is important to recall that many of these war contracts were no bid deals, engineered by Dick Cheney for his Halliburton and KBR pals.
      It's a damned shame we don't better respect, honor and treat those who serve. It is a continuing stain in our history, but so too is war profiteering. Has been ever such. Another of many reasons war is indeed, hell.
      Maybe the Republican majority in Congress and the Republican president will come to the aid of the distressed vets of Iraq and Afghanistan. What's to stop them?   

     See you down the trail.   


Thursday, August 3, 2017


    Is there another way to rescue the American government?
Maybe. Some thoughts, rooted in history, follow below.

first, a breath of fresh air
fiscalini ranch preserve-cambria ca. 
nap time
a few of our marine cousins observing rest hour
 the guy below brings us back to the us congress

a third way
    Whether it becomes more than speculative, or a pipe dream, remains to be seen, but we are hearing more about political reform. Could a third party be a method of reform?
      There is no shortage of third parties in our federal elections, but to this point they have been merely symbolic or protest choices. Ralph Nader's campaign helped elect George W. Bush. They've had more impact, historically.
       In 1912 Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party, aka the Bull Moose Party, shook up the nation and the Republican party by winning 88 electoral votes and 27% of the popular vote. 
       Racist George Wallace and his American Independent party won 13.5 % of the popular vote and 46 electoral votes in 1968.  
       Reform candidate H. Ross Perot won 18.9% of the popular vote, but no electoral votes in 1992.
minimum appeal
       The Third Party strategy began to play a role and shape parties and policies in the early 1800's. The list includes:
  • Anti Masonic
  • Free Soil
  • Whig Americans
  • Southern Democrats
  • Constitutional Union
  • Populist
      Today's list includes:
  • Libertarian
  • Green Party
  • America's Party
  • Constitution Party
  • Solidarity Party
  • Citizens Party
  • Modern Whig Party
  • Reform Party
  • Unity Party
  • Veterans Party 
  • United States Pirate Party
  • Communist Party
  • Socialist Party
  • Party for Socialism and Liberation
  • Peace and Freedom Party
  • Justice Party
  • Socialist Workers Party
  • Workers World Party
  • Working Families Party
  • Black Riders Liberation Party
  • New Afrikan Black Panther Party
  • Human Party
  • Legal Marijuana Now Party
  • Objectivist Party
  • Prohibitionist party
  and believe it or not, there are more.  Clearly these parties cater to specific positions, splinter groups and attitudes-they are not mainstream.  
    So as observers ranging from party professionals, academics, analysts and voters look upon the failure and disgrace of the trump White House, the collapse of the Republican Party's ability to govern and the Democrats inability to keep their act together, there is growing talk about a new way.
maximum appeal
a platform for all
     I wonder if a kind of grass roots movement, pragmatic in nature, focused on mass appeal objectives only and deliberately geared to be anti polarizing, might not shake things up?   
  •      Conservatives and liberals might agree with the idea that members of the federal government, especially the house and senate, must offer all Americans the same insurance and health care benefits they have, or theirs are revoked. 
  •      Same for the practice of special "friends and family" insider investment information and opportunities. 
  •      The salary and benefits of Senate and House membership would be trimmed to match the median wage of American workers. They would no longer vote for their own raises, instead they would be tied to COLA standards. 
  •  PACs and Leadership Funds would be forbidden. Money could not be used personally or kept after leaving office. 
  •      Once a member of the Senate or the House leaves office they would be forbidden from working for a consultancy or in a lobbying effort for as many years as they served. The exception is they could accept a position in a presidential administration or department. 
   There are probably other common core values that would appeal across party and ideological lines. 
    If the very definition and nature of the job and its benefits were changed we would find a different quality person willing to "serve."
    By backing out the influence of private wealth and organizational funding we could see a change in the character of the Congress and amongst seekers of public office. 
    I'd like to see restrictions on campaign funding-eliminating the legal influence of special interests of every stripe especially including those President Eisenhower warned us about-the military industrial complex that now controls and benefits from the federal dollar. 

excising the rot
    Donald Trump is the poster boy for a failure of government and the caving of American values.  He is the worst of America and millions of us, in fact the majority of Americans wonder why the hell he was not, or has not been stopped or removed from office. He's not the cause of the rot in our federal election system and inefficiency in government, but he is the face of the cancer and toxic in his own way. 
    Electoral politics is now an industry.  Government is now a business. It is time for a fundamental change and realignment or we are doomed to become a Greece, or Italy, if we survive the antics of the jack ass who is president. 

    A well organized and structured third party-or middle way effort that can unite D's, R's, Liberals, Conservatives, and appeals to all demographic subgroups could change the way the game is played and the power is brokered. 
    There will always be ideological and philosophical differences, but if the idea is about governance and not the aggregation of power or politics by bludgeoning, we could witness our government work the way it was imagined and created by the founders-give and take-compromise-governing for all.
    A fanciful though perhaps, but there have been "inflection" moments in our history and this is certainly one.  Wouldn't you hate to see it stay the same or get worse. It is action time. 

    See you down the trail.


Friday, July 28, 2017


     Those who think equality is essential might take a lesson from spiders. They spare no corner of opportunity. Despite adversity they persist.

caged by identity
       He was always alone, off to the side. I figured he was shy. I was not so much shy as reserved, content to watch and study, learning who was who and what was what. It was an integrated elementary school and we studied and played together, but he seemed somehow adrift. Let's call him Mark.
      The term in those days was "mulatto." He was light skinned though a bit darker than white kids and had an unusual kind of freckling. I liked him. He was athletic, neat, had good manners and was the kind of kid my parents said I should associate with. But on the playground he stood back and, as I began to observe, he was shunned by some of the black kids who knew him and by a couple of the more boisterous white boys. 
      Mark lived on the other side of the park and though it was nothing we thought much about, it was the boundary between black families and white families. Mark lived black. I lived white, but we were a lot alike and a natural friendship developed. Mark came to my house, though I was never invited to his. He didn't like to talk about his mixed race parents or the struggles he faced. We just did the kind things a couple of athletic and active young guys did. We were friends. 
       In a couple of years we were in separate classes and a year after that my family moved to another city.
      His older brother became a noted educator and administrator courted by universities for executive positions. He was an advocate for equality, across the board. He had  been an outstanding student and athlete and not shy nor deterred by his birthright. That is as it should be. 
      I don't know what became of Mark, but I thought about him as I read about an incident in a nearby California town.
      The police department is being sued over claims of racial bias. A black man who's family had been to the beach was on the way home when he stopped in front of the police department to stretch his legs and smoke a cigarette. He figured the police department would be a safe spot. He says as he got out of the car he was "accosted" by a policewoman who said he looked "suspicious." The officer asked his white wife "why she was there and if she was OK?" The couples two children observed this. You get the idea. 
       There have been victories in the struggle for human dignity and equality but the war is nowhere near being won. While unenlightened attitudes persist so do efforts to carry the light and build webs of understanding, regulation, law and  political culture to deliver on the promise of our democratic republic. Here, every birthright is guaranteed equality, regardless. No cage of identity. Or we are collectively a fraud and a failure. There is work to do.

a champion napper
 Hemingway is a cat after Garfield's heart! 

scout's honor
On my honor I will do my best
to do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times:
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Physically strong, mentally awake, morally straight?
sexual predator, serial adulterer, habitual liar 
business cheat, slob?

"Fake leader"
Failed man

     The Scouts apology for the travesty of the jamboree helped clear the air, but only slightly. 

      See you down the trail.

Monday, July 24, 2017


Echoes of a frontier-Eastern Slope of the Sierra

   I wonder how many of us are as tough as our ancestors.
   Seeing a shell of a cabin in the windswept high valley of the Sierra I marvel at the men and women who cut lonely lives in hostile and isolated environments. They were made of tough stuff.
   So was the WWII "greatest generation," especially the Brits. Their survival of the German blitz-the bombing campaign against London is heroic. There's an epic new film that adds another chapter to that kind of tough-Dunkirk.
    When up to 400 thousand British and French Soldiers were cut off, pinned down by Germans along the French shore across the channel from Dover, a hellish slaughter was imminent. The best the Churchill government could plan was to evacuate some 30 thousand. That was until British citizens created the most unlikely armada in history and evacuated more than 300 thousand troops.
    Director Christopher Nolan has created an ingenious, multifaceted way to recount one of the 20th Centuries towering achievements. Dialogue is sparse-but the acting is brilliant. Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy and Harry Styles imprint this heroic story deeply in your mind.
    There it is, in large format, the kind of history we need to know. When I heard the words of Churchill, famous words now, I could not escape a comparison to Donald Trump.
leadership and character
   Thank God we were led by men of character, stature, intelligence and courage, qualities that do not exist in the barely literate megalomaniac who angry and disturbed people put into office, against the majority. 
     Character counts and that is proven by history. We can hope Providence protects us from an epic occurrence as long as trump remains in office.
    He is not tough. He is a bully instead and he continues to betray his appalling ignorance. Recently he accused the New York Times of interfering with pursuit of a terrorist. He was summarily body slammed by the facts, again. 
    Generations of ancestors have proven they are tougher than challenges that descend upon them, or enslave them, or deny them, or cheat them, or seek to destroy them. Our generation faces the accidental challenge and assault from our own president. 
     John McCain's illness is tragic. He is a genuine hero and I hope someone pushes trump to offer an apology. That a blogger even need write such a thought, bespeaks how far this leader is from being worthy to be called a commander.
    We are tougher and smarter. America is greater and bigger than the trump aberration. 
     It is not unlike the German bombers that struck London, or tried to kill lines of troops on the sands at Dunkirk, they did not prevail. Many of them went down in flames, just as this White House is in the midst of doing. 

at bay

out on a limb

more tough
    Can't help but marvel at the mental toughness of Jordan Spieth. The newly crowned and young British Open Champion overcame his own bad game and control. He was almost out of it when his steel became apparent and he prevailed to claim his first British title. Cheers!

     See you down the trail.