Light/Breezes

Light/Breezes
SUNRISE AT DEATH VALLEY-Photo by Tom Cochrun

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Springing Up

       Even as spring glories around us we find ourselves between "The Winters of our Discontent." Winters because Shakespeare's opening in Richard III and Steinbeck's 1961 The Winter of Our Discontent are the pole stars in our current fate.
       We'll unpack what I'm getting at after we pause to regard beauty that can make us forget, even if only for a moment. But for this moment enjoy early spring on California's central coast, curated in this case by Lana and her mentor mother nature.





     I am ever sorry for this bottle brush tree that still imbibes life but seems forever shamed by a brutal haircut. That brings me again to the blooming idiots of the swamp and our discontent.

the winter of our discontent

      And so to the Winter of our Discontent-in Richard III it was the sun (son) of York, Edward IV who brought an end to discontent-the rein of Richard III. The first two lines;
     Now is the winter of our discontent/made glorious by this son (sun) of York. 
     A story of a rise to power by manipulation.
   
    John Steinbeck's novel The Winter of our Discontent, is a morality tale of a man who tosses away integrity to gain wealth and status by cheating, lying and betrayal. By whichever pole you navigate this discontent, there are messages for our time. 


circus trumpus
or
government by mayhem

    The White House should be renamed Bedlam. 
    After the predator President's twitter storm about being phone tapped, Mike Pence should have called together that stellar cabinet and asked them seriously, "do you think we have a problem with the President?"
    What ever did we do to deserve the insanity that has become this administration? It was clear to most Americans  Donald Trump was unfit, unqualified and unprepared, so we should not be surprised but even those who despise this slimy character are embarrassed by how sleazy and adolescent-stupidly things are playing out. 


time to use the 25th Amendment
     
      Trump should be slapped silly for the rude and childish manner in how he treated the German Chancellor Merkel. He embarrassed this Republic, despite your party affiliation or political views. Childish, brutish, rank amateur.
      Pence should have called the cabinet together again and re-read the 25th Amendment paying attention to clause 4.4.

      I know you can't impeach a President for lying, but this man lies so frequently as to perhaps qualify him for insanity.
      
     How can we trust him to make critical decisions with our military forces when he is so untethered from reality?

     Donald Trump may be a billionaire but he is liar, cheat, sexual predator, bully and a phony. By my logic that alone crosses the threshold to invoke the 25th-4.4. It is bad already but now the real stuff begins. 


art of the russian deal


      It is hard to believe but it may end there is no smoking gun or finger prints in the Russian investigation but still the Trump Presidency is crashing and burning and the gas on the fire is the federal investigations. 
      Charles Schumer may be playing to the hometown crowd when he raises the question as to whether to proceed with the Gorsuch nomination, but there is a shred of Washington wisdom at work.
      Trump is on the ropes, his administration is floundering horribly and it will be tied up with details of the federal probe. Remember Clinton with impeachment, Reagan with Iran Contra, Carter with the hostages, Nixon with Watergate. It becomes the obsession and everything else stalls.
      If there is a finding of collusion there will be criminal prosecutions. If Trump had contact with Russians-and that is still only an if-he could go to prison. 
      Speculation on outcome is iffy, but the fact an administration is being investigated for conspiring with a foreign power who tried to rig an election is mind blowingly historic. It is also very Trumpish. The investigation will do damage to this swamp creature regime.
trump=ruin

      His war with the Republican party is real. His approval rating drop is staggering and for a narcissist like Trump it could cause his brain or heart to explode.
     He is irrational. He's mixed family and government-business and policy. We see him lie and demonstrate he really doesn't know reality. He's turned Sean Spicer, who people say used to be a nice guy, into a lying whore and embarrassment to all press secretaries. (I apologize to whores because they don't pretend to be anything else.) Trump means ruin.


use the 25th
     Someone in the Republican party needs to grab Pence by the collar and force him to read the 25th Amendment and to consider the long arc of history. 
      This goes beyond politics and policy-I defy anyone to  describe what are Trump's politics or his policies. He's a hustler and he's perverting politics, not a simple feat given the state of things, but he's a scum even by swamp standards. He's so out of touch with reality as to present a danger. 
     In the Reagan years there was talk about his mental slippage, early dementia and his fitness to serve. So it's time for the nation to begin looking for a way to get Trump out of office before he does the damage that is inevitable.

     See you down the trail.
      
     

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE SHIFTS

   While we seem be damned by current political attitudes,  profound changes are right behind us. We ponder views and the attitudes that drive them, after we first fog it up.
 Going over the Santa Lucia pass toward Paso Robles I was struck by how Morro Rock, Mt. Hollister and a couple of other volcanic peaks seem to be adrift in a sea of clouds.
 Fog moves quickly this time of year, one of the wonders of living along the Pacific.
big sur tribute
    As Big Sur remains isolated and inaccessible we are mining the archive to help those of us with a Big Sur jones.
     Fog and Big Sur are like Coffee and sugar-
We feel sorry for visitors who pick a day to drive Highway 1 when fog rules





      It moves quickly, literally before your eyes.


    
   Future posts will feature more of the Big Sur file as we lament its current status of being off limits.

  the political fog
   We should all be troubled by Secretary of State Tillerson's comment he is "not a big media access guy."
     The secretary needs to understand he is no longer a private CEO/Chairman of the Board dealing in a corporate world. He is a public employee, an official appointed by the President but responsible to the American tax payer for whom he works. This job is bigger than him and requires process and transparency.
     Tillerson's refusal to travel with at least a press pool instead of hand picking one journalist is unacceptable. It is wrong and dangerous, even more so given the pronouncements of the irrational liar and lunatic who appointed him.


here comes heart burn for non progressives
    The much maligned millennials are about to have their way. Those who are 19-35, the largest component of the Bernie Sander supporters now number some 75.5 million.
    They are a generation raised on disruption, new ways of working, living and a decidedly socialist cultural and political lean. The same goes for their younger siblings Generation Z who total some 77.9 million-they are 18 and younger but in the next two election cycles will become a force as well. Add them to the 65.9 million Gen X'ers, 36-51, and the tables have not only changed, but it is a new game. 
     Millennials and Gen Z bring such profound change to the political landscape that Boomers and the generation immediately preceding may not recognize the social landscape.
      They are decidedly more egalitarian, color blind, accepting of sexual and gender identity selections and differences, ethnic diversity, in favor of economic equality, globalism, defenders of the environment, suspicious of corporations and to such a degree as to render much of traditional political practice irrelevant. 
      One of them just sold his business to CNN for $20 Million. He has a daily vlog (video blog) with 6 million subscribers and more than 1.3 billion views. He's also been hired to be the front man for a multi billion dollar global corporation's advertising.  Here is a look at  the kind of style, cultural and political attitude that may decide the next presidential election.
      Hear what Casey Neistat has to say to "haters and doubters" and pay attention to the Titanic and Iceberg analogy. Listen to the attitude...and consider their massive numbers. Bye bye trump land..
         See you down the trail.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

GOING IT ALONE AND ANOTHER WAY

    Photo by John Stanley
      Have you found there are times when life just positions you in a way that you are alone in something? It may be temporary or for a specific purpose but for a duration, there it is, you are out there alone.
      Being out of step, out of the norm or not in the "flow" is that way. I'm about to walk in that world, by way of nerdom, or is it nerddom? What I think is a practical solution to a little problem casts me in that role.
      I've got a snazzy pair of tennis shoes, they are blue and until recently were laced with bright yellow strings. They're excellent platforms for this aging player. The shoes are part of a signature line of Novak Djokovic, a pro whom I admire. One of the strings broke! I saw it coming and tried to prepare but finding a bright yellow shoestring proved futile. So when the moment arrived and necessity dictated, I removed a white string from an old pair of tennis shoes I wear working around the house.      
       There are white stripes on the blue shoes so it's not entirely objectionable, however I will enter the court at my next match with a left foot brandishing a yellow laced shoe and the right with the non matching white.
     And since life is complicated I replaced the purloined white string from the "work" shoes with the only thing I had available, a black lace. You see how rapidly I'm devolving into geek hood. One broken string thrusts me into wearing two non matching pair of tennis shoes. Alone in this predicament certainly, but I've reached an age when I don't think I'll be embarrassed about the matter. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"  
     And this stroll in mismatched oddness will provide a chance to measure folks on their power of observation and how they may respond.

living stones
    
   A couple of Lana's favorite succulents, Living Stones, are  showing proof of life. 

      
dumber than a box of rocks
circus trumpus
    The unfit, unqualified, predator president is working overtime to prove that he is also an idiot.  
      Case in point. America auto makers sold a record number of cars and earned record profits for the last two years. Auto workers benefited, consumers loved the product and it has been an American success story. So what does mr tweet propose? He wants to revisit the whole matter of gas mileage and government guidance. If he is successful he will force the entire industry to adjust. What will happen? Cars prices will rise. If fuel efficiency standards are trimmed American car owners will pay more at the pump because they'll use more gas. There will be a cascading affect on air quality standards. Can he really be this stupid? 85% of the public supports improved fuel efficiency. So why fool with CAFE standards, as the guidelines are known. To paraphrase the vulgarian himself. Really Dumb.  Really, really dumb.
      But there is California, ready to go it alone. This state won the right to establish its own fleet standards (CAFE) for fuel efficiency. The affect has been that most car makers build according to the California standards. California promises to fight for its waiver right to set higher fuel standards, standards most Americans want.  

even the foxistas get it
       The star of trumpland, the American nightmare, is on the skids. It's bad when Fox News viewers give him an approval rating of only 41%. At the same time in his administration President Obama had a 63% approval rating.
        Fox News finds only 7% of their crowd say repeal and replacement of Obama Care should be a priority. Only 41% approve of his immigration policies. 
       Maybe somewhere Arnold Schwarzenegger is holding a prayer service for trump the frumpy's precipitous ratings dive. Arnold, ask folks to pray for America, for that matter for the world. 
a thing of beauty
Photo courtesy of Indian Wells Tennis Garden
          Much of the sports world is focused on the beginning of the big dance, the NCAA Mens Basketball Championship. I'm certainly a fan as well, but I'm a tennis enthusiast too and the BNP Paribas Open is underway at the beautiful Indian Wells Tennis Garden near Palm Springs. I saw this frame of one of the practice courts and thought it captured the beauty of tennis in the desert.  We've enjoyed our visits to Indian Wells but this year we'll be flipping between basketball and tennis on the big screen. Good luck with your brackets.
          And good luck Hoosier fans. Sorry Tom Crean didn't work out. He seemed able to recruit well but something just didn't gel. Teams that should have been better or gone further didn't materialize. I know IU Athletic Director Fred Glass and he's a bright and capable man. He and President McRobbie, who is also a good guy, face an important challenge now. And they do so in a hyper aware and active state, where by the way arch rival Purdue and little Butler are enjoying the big dance. Pressure!

      See you down the trail.

Monday, March 13, 2017

ISOLATED & WEIRD BETS

    Some 450 to 500 people are cut off from the world and isolated in a paradise.
    The failure of a bridge and landslides burying portions of majestic California Highway 1 have isolated and cut in half the community of Big Sur.
Photo Courtesy of Mercury News
      The Pfeiffer bridge, damaged in winter storms, will be demolished this week. Those who know speculate it will be a year before the route from Big Sur north to Carmel, Monterey and San Francisco is open.
 Slide photos courtesy of Big Sur Kate
     Slides and road erosion have closed the Pacific Coast Highway south of Big Sur to Ragged Point about 20 miles north of Cambria. It is likely the slides and road cave-ins will be repaired sooner.
      Presently, the residents of Big Sur and environs including a monastery of monks have no way out. Food, propane, animal food and supplies have been air lifted in.
       The famed Nepenthe Restaurant, Ventana and Post Ranch resorts, historic Deetjens Big Sur Inn, the Coast Gallery and Tree Bones Yurts and Restaurant are among those places shuttered until the road is open. 
       Also closed as well is the Henry Miller Museum. A friend's house where the author spent time is now a delightful Big Sur address-a library, bookstore, curio shop,  concert, film and lecture venue.




     We rarely make the drive up the coast that we don't stop at the Miller. 
      Our favorite hiking trails are also off limits until the road is open again.
   It has been our custom to enjoy the some two and half hour drive from Cambria to Carmel for a lunch or a get-away. 
    The drive is world famous because it is spectacular and an engineering marvel, but sometimes nature is not to be denied.
       We are simply inconvenienced, denied access to some of California's beauty but those who are stranded face separated families, loss of employment, threats to the viability of their businesses with no clear indication of when things will be made right.
       Big Sur hit my consciousness during the "back to the earth" and "flower child" era. I'd read Kerouac and had been dazzled not only by the music of the 67 Monterey Pop Festival, but scenes of Big Sur, Monterey and San Francisco. The beauty of the area was alluring.
      The first trip to Big Sur came in 1969 when our pal Jim Cahill drove Lana and me from Manhattan Beach up to hike and camp at Big Sur's Lime Kiln Canyon. Love at first sight. It is probably the magnet that drew us to California. 
        With vacations to Big Sur now off calendars and schedules we will occasionally post archive shots and hope they help a bit.


circus trumpus
  •      Compass needles are spinning.  It seems this White House and the Fed are on a collision course. Trump wants to fan economic growth but the Fed fears it could overheat and so moves to permit slower growth. Who is your money on?
  •       Experts in both parties say this administration is the slowest in history to complete transition, including key appointments. Both Republicans and Democrats say they are way behind and it could cause problems.  
  •       The head of the EPA has views on carbon and the climate that are diametrically opposed to science.
      While none of this is particularly surprising, it is none the less annoying to the majority of Americans who rejected his ideas. It is further evidence of a lack of qualification and experience  and has furthered speculation about how long he may last. Who knows if there is anything to it other than pipe dreams of millions of worried Americans, though it is making for a dangerous bit of wagering.
      Ladbrokes, the English gaming house is offering odds on the Trump presidency including impeachment, leaving office before his term, a visit to Russia and other lines. Gamblers can find a line on almost anything. Ladbrokes is a "legitimate" business and is listed on the London Stock Exchange, so their Trump lines are "respectable." 
      Other games, less respectable, have speculated on Trump's health and longevity. One wonders about the people who would put money on those lines and how do the book makers set odds on. This is different than "legitimate" gamers who bet on sports. How deep down a rabbit hole have we come when you can make book on whether the president will stay alive. Odd bets, odd games in a world where big money can crash the odds.
       Maybe it's not so surprising when a former casino and real estate hustler takes over the White House. 

     See you down the trail.

Monday, March 6, 2017

WHEN TRUTH IS ON THE WIND

    Fixated on a kite in the breeze we can often forget about the person pulling the strings, down below.
     It's like a puppet master. Maybe it's a bit like Washington. While we are rightly fixated on the Russian intrigues look what's happening over here-in the House.
    Perhaps you have seen a list of House Resolutions that have been introduced-reminding you in the process that Republicans who introduced these pieces of legislation, control the House, Senate and White House.

     There are bills to :
  • terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
  • terminate the Department of Education
  • defund Planned Parenthood 
  • criminalize abortion
  • provide vouchers for public education
  • repeal the Affordable Care Act
  • National Right to Work Law-getting rid of unions
  • mobilize against sanctuary cities
  • repeal wildlife protection
    At the risk of being pedantic, it's like this--
  teaching a child to never turn their back on the ocean-you just never know.

  circus trumpus!
   One of the great headlines about Attorney General Jefferson Sessions
 IF SESSIONS HAD NOTHING TO HIDE THEN 
WHY DID HE HIDE IT?
     I'm curious to know why he lied, under oath? I also want to know what his fellow Senators are going to do about it?
      If a Democrat would have done this, Fox News, Republicans and Conservatives would all be in a cardiac wing or cleaning their brains off the stratosphere. That's only a toe in this swamp.

how this administration resembles 
a trash dumpster
  • Russians hacked and intruded into the American electoral system
  • The web of contacts of the Trump administration with the Russian government of Putin is both weird and wide
  • Trump expresses fondness of Putin, has done business with Russians and is opposed to justified sanctions against the Russians
  • The President, his former national security advisor, attorney general, former campaign manager, son-in-law adviser and others have all demonstrated an inability to tell the truth about their Russian connections
  • The President ordered a raid in Yemen despite intelligence it was not a good idea 
  • When the raid ended in the death of an American and the loss of expensive equipment he called it a success
  • When the military and intelligence said the raid failed to get good intelligence Trump blamed the Generals
  • Every President has always accepted blame for a failed operation except Trump
  • Reich minister Bannon is at war with Secretary of State Tillerson and the Trump children/advisers Ivanka and Kushner
  • Completely without documentation Trump says his phones were tapped by the Obama administration

russia house

   There are many things to know about the Russian-Trump connection. Investigations are underway and this scandal in the new administration will not go away. Will it bring down this regime? Too early to know. But in the short run Americans deserve to know why all the contact and what were they talking about? 
     Why did the Trump organization have so many contacts with the Russians? It is without precedent-but everything about this gang of ideologues, amateurs, egoists, nationalists and white supremacists is without precedent. 
     Diverting attention and shouting lies, as they have and will do, won't stop the  professionals who are digging deeply into the Trump-Putin love fest. 
     There's never been an administration so troubled and scandal ridden, even before the boxes are unpacked.

republican ethic/morality
    Americans are waiting for more Republicans to acknowledge the President and his team are either corrupt, morons, or both but who got lucky with unhappy people and with those who truly are deplorable. 
    The trumpistas have already begun to screw the unhappy Americans, but Republicans could build an infrastructure and jobs creation program and do those people, and themselves, some good. They could, if they wished to. 
    There seems nothing to do with the true deplorables except to send them back to their racist, bigoted undrained swamps or they could take that group of haters and make them a brigade to send to Syria.
    In the meantime Rand Paul almost gets arrested for demanding that fellow republicans show him a copy of the so called new health care plan. Surely they have one. How many hundred times did House Republicans try to overturn the ACA? 
    So while the President is demonstrating ways he can be a maniac his party is starting to bludgeon itself and stumble over opportunity to do something except take pot shots. A couple of Senators have shown an interest in taking on the crazy Trump. 
    The House is another matter. Paul Ryan is looking for a spine. Maybe the far right wing can get their bearings by opening another Benghazi probe. Or go after Hillary's e-mails again. Or just maybe they could show a little of that vitriol and vigor by investigating the failed Yemen raid, or the Russian hack of the election or the lying Attorney General, or Mike Pence's Hillary disease-the e-mail indiscretions when he was governor, or the GOP could go after the lying...well you get the point....


trump land the movie
    I hope we all live long enough to see the movie and to read the books about this era. Can't you just imagine how writers and historians will play this. 
   Maybe in a movie those of you who voted for Trump will be able to find a good support group to help you get over it. Yes, you were fed up or ignored or unhappy but look what you did. It's like a "last call romance." You were in a bar for too long had too much to drink, and went home with someone only to wake up the next morning in a junk yard bed sleeping with rats and a goat. Your clothes were gone except your Make America Great Again shirt, that had been translated into Russian.
     By the way Republicans, you still have time to save your own reputations for the books, movies and real history. Mitch McConnell, even you could be admired if maybe you could convince the Donald to take you by the hand and just dance off the top of the Washington monument. Now is that a movie ending? Poor taste? How can you tell anymore? 

   See you down the trail.




Thursday, March 2, 2017

WHAT IS COMING?


     It's a seasons of life thing. I've been toying with a letter to my 13 month grand daughter, to be read 25 years from now.
     Maybe I'm wrong but as I look around to develop a scope of the epistle, I keep bumping up against what seems to be a rock hard brand of short sightedness. It is dangerously so, it appears to me. There is a common denominator as well, money.
      As a nation, actually as nations of the world, we make choices. 

  • Business profits or clean air and water. (Lower costs with fewer regulations vs a future of poison)
  • Funding for education or prisons. (Only so many tax dollars available-where do they go? What has the greatest value?)
  • Profit or public safety? (Think airbags or ignition problems and the calculus of cost of recall vs cost of litigation and pay out if a problem occurs.) Too many corporations choose protecting the "bottom line" over doing the right thing and undertaking recalls and product replacement. The culture seems to approve.
  • Repairing infrastructure or kicking the problem down the road?
  • The six WalmWart heirs control as much money as the bottom 42% of the American public, somewhere around $89 billion. Some 45-50 million Americans live poverty. Why is the divide so high? Why is the middle class disappearing? How has this new "Gilded Age" happened?
      And on and on it goes as I look for signals in how we live and decide now and how those choices will affect the world our grand children will inhabit. A lot more rumination is ahead. Complexities...
      shadow lace

flowers for Ruth


    Near tragedy struck our coastal mountain village last weekend.
      An allegedly intoxicated driver struck a parked car with such force it shoved it across a parking lot into a crowded coffee shop and village gathering place. Walls tumbled down, furniture was tossed and broken and 5 people were injured. One of them was our friend Ruth Armstrong.  
      Ruth was one of the first people to greet us when we moved to Cambria more than 10 years ago. She made sure we met new people and made friends. She is an artist and one of the village's most indelible people. Her leg and ankle were broken in several places. Ruth walks from one end of East Village to the other end of West Village, perpetually it seems. We are all hoping for a quick rehab because main street seems unadorned without seeing Ruth in her unique gait observing and monitoring Cambria village life.
    
self inflicted wounds
   The Trump gang just can't get it right. They hire a good speech writer who crafts a good address which the bossman reads as though he believes what he is saying, but then....
  • We learn the Attorney general either lied or withheld information about his own Russian ties and a new storm begins...
  • Kellyanne's bunkhouse posture seemingly ignoring the history and prestige of educators in the oval office sets off another storm...
  • It is revealed the highest sources at the White House lied to a group of network news anchors doing a deliberate sleight of hand deception so as to trick positive press coverage. Reich minister Bannon may have won the day but further eroded an already tenuous assignment of truth or trust to this White House. 
       Amateur hour continues.




        See you down the trail.