Thursday, February 28, 2019


real oversight
   For the first time in two years Congressional oversight, a key to the Constitutional principle of Checks and Balances, appears to be in place.
   The new breed Republican party spent two years being acquiescing lapdogs instead of watchdogs. The power shift in the House means there's a new Sheriff and posse with a new purpose.
"we are better than this"
    The most powerful thing I heard in the Cohen hearing were the words of Committee Chair, Elijah Cummings when he said, "we are better than this."
    Cummings said what most US citizens think, we want to get back to "normal." Cummings called it a "new normal...where democracy stays intact."
     The Washington Post, which has been a running fact check, says the man who is president has lied 8,718 times in his time in office. Republicans, sadly, abandoned their old values, and have failed their party and the nation by letting things get so far out of line.

     seeing the difference
    The peoples interest, all of us, democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, independent, even the disinterested were well represented with Representative Katie Porter raised a question to the Chairman of Equifax. This is a great recent moment in public service. You can watch how it was noted on a news network or you can link directly to the clip in the next line of copy.

or see it in the video from a news channel

          That is the kind of accountability and hard questions this nation needs and deserves. There is no ideological edge, no partisan blather, no b.s. to that kind of oversight. 
      There was a time when the best interests of all were considered above partisan or ideological ground. That is what we need to get back to. 

    public service is more than politics
it is a real skill
      Anyone who knows anything about real politic has warned that the rouge president is doing damage by his ignorant blundering in foreign affairs. But he is such a defective, he is sure he knows better than experts, who have spent their life in diplomacy, negotiation, and real deal making. 
     North Korea has again gotten the upper hand. And while Senate Republicans have enabled a power drunk and traitorous stooge, he has continued to preside over a decimation of the Department of State and the national intelligence community.
    Those days may soon be over. House investigations have only begun. There is the coming blizzard of federal prosecutions, state and local investigations and prosecutions and there will be a field of democrat presidential hopefuls and quite likely a republican challenger who will also hold this very bad man's feet to the fire. The difference of rhetoric and vision will be stunning.
    History will be ruthless. Analysis and logic will be very unkind, not only to the stooge but to those who aided and abetted him and those who continued to support him even after they saw him for the fraud he is. And dear readers, that information is coming in, compounded daily and we've only just begun with real oversight in place. And some of the new crowd are playing by new rules. I refer you to the picture above.

how does your garden grow?
      The winter lettuce crop has been fantastic. 
    Lana has done a great job up in Indiana. That is the flat and tillable soil at the top of our hill.
     We are enjoying a good rain season and the succulents approve. 

     If you reside where winter means snow, ice, cold, gray and a longing for spring, these green shots may bolster your spirits.
      Maybe by then we will be closer to what Chairman Cummings said, "...back to the democracy we want."

     See you down the trail.


Thursday, February 21, 2019


   It's funny how a fragment of memory launches itself and then sends you down a lane of thought, maybe even a rabbit hole.
   I can't tell you why, but one of my great aunts singing Blue Birds Over The White Cliffs of Dover sprang full bloom into the day. My great aunts, Martha, Anna, and Sarah were, like my grandmother Mary, born in England and arrived in the US as young girls and teens. 
    The song was made popular by an English singer, Vera Lynn and it was one of the most popular tunes of WWII.
    I'm a post war boomer, but I remember hearing them sing that tune as I was toddler in their care when my parents were out or on a trip. It was soothing to them, an assurance that regardless of the present problem or crisis, it would all work out. And apparently it did the same for this former little tyke.
I think they sometimes sang it to me when I was having tyke travails. 

   Maybe it's the winter clouds decorating our Santa Lucia mountain range, or the full moon rise during the light of evening.
        Maybe it's my hopes and prayers for a friends who are struggling against serious health challenges. Perhaps my optimism fueled by my trust in our democratic republic's sense of justice and the power of tenacious investigation and judicious outcomes. Perhaps it was reading of the winter storms and seeing snow blanket Arizona like something from North Dakota in photos from my friend Bruce. (His blog link appears in the column to the right.)
    But there it is, Blue Birds Over The White Cliffs of Dover, in my head, evoking memories of assurance, certainly as it must have done for millions as a world war against great evil ensued.
     Funny, how time's jewels come back, often just in time.

       By the way, I think the drag net is tightening around the great fraud and stooge. His poison will come to an end, "just you wait and see"
       "...I remember well as the shadows fell
           the light of hope in their eyes..."
        "...there'll be love and laughter
          And peace ever after
          Tomorrow when the world is free..."
    Be as young of heart as you can.

    See you down the trail.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


     ocean rock off fiscalini ranch preserve  cambria

      A place of sanity and civility is a tough spot to find these days. The most recent black face blow up might offer a ledge, precarious though. 
     And ahead in this double post is a photo essay on paying dues on the music highway.
the rutted road of black face
       spanish moss tunnel on jack creek road templeton 

       Black face had its origins in Europe. It was used in theatre to permit white actors to play dark skinned characters, including Othello. It did not begin as an act of racial denigration.
       The "racism" of black face began in the early 1800's in  theater when characters with demeaned qualities were played by actors in black face. British theatre of the 1800's also used black face to portray Black people in stereotyped and derogatory ways. They were portrayed as stupid, lazy, slow talking, sexually aggressive, easily frightened, and worse. That same hurtful poison was poured by American theatre. By the mid 1800's actors in black face did music and comedy skits feeding the stereotypes. Minstrel shows toured and carried the racist stereotypes far and wide. 
even disney
     In the 20th century film, animation and even Disney cartoons perpetuated the stereotypes.
     This occurred in an age when racism was rampant, but ignored. White government and majority white society functioned as though it was blind to, insensitive of or ignorant about the damage and hurt caused by the perpetuation of the stereo types much less the under girding de Jure and de Facto segregation and racism. Such behavior is inevitable in a nation where many of the founders owned slaves.
    These are undeniable truths. It is also true that not all people who have put on black face are racists. They may be stupid, but not necessarily racist. 
    If this nation did a better job of teaching real history, and respecting the truth of our heritage, contemporary Americans would know how hurtful it is. 
    I wrote here earlier that Megyn Kelly was not automatically a racist when she raised the issue of black face, stupid probably, ill advised and her network bosses succumbed to perceived outrage and she was released. 
    Now that black leaders and community leaders have come to the defense of the Virginia Governor, it may offer that ledge to have a conversation about a couple of things.
in the national dna
     First, the US must acknowledge its racist and genocidal heritage and then teach it. Our government, our system of life, perpetuated, enabled and encouraged racism and ethnic genocide. 
not fully human
    People of color were not recognized as full human beings, that was in our charter. Before that we did not recognize the sovereignty of the first citizens of this continent. As terrible as it has been for African Americans, it has been worse for native Americans. This nation slaughtered millions of native inhabitants. When the murder stopped, we then lied to and cheated them. That is who we are, and what we did. Thank God men and women of conscience and increasing intelligence have reshaped, refined and corrected our national establishment, but it has been a long battle and it continues.
reason, don't screech
    Second, and this needs saying. Stupid things done by a student 35 years ago should not be the automatic disqualifier for a person who otherwise has demonstrated good judgment, citizenship and character. Who did not make poor judgments in their youth?
     There are limits here. Dressing up like Michael Jackson, or Al Jolson may have been stupid but it is not like doing a crime of violence. Being overtly racist, abusive, discriminatory or committing sexual assault are more serious than dressing up. We need to acknowledge that.
     There is a screeching factor in American politics today that borders on hysteria. It is loud and it drowns out common sense, civility and due process. It makes victims of the system and can injure people more grievously than some of the so called alleged offenses.  To those who are calling for the Virginia governor's dismissal, I urge you to point some of that venom toward the American mass culture and educational system that has failed to teach just what black face is, the whole story. 
      It is offensive and dangerous when a society fails to know and learn from history. We have much to learn, and a lot of making amends to do. 
 the music road
   the pour house  paso robles
    Davy and the Midnights do a sound check at a tap room in Paso Robles. Their tour of the California coast takes them from LA to San Francisco and north.
   Haven't heard of them? You may someday. They play country, blues, rock and the sort of fare that keeps you alive playing bars. Their own music is good and they are refining it in an LA studio. 
   They are young, on the road and paying their dues.
   Lead singer Davey Allen is also the keyboard player for Eric Burdon and the Animals and has played with other big name rockers. He's got a great band.
    Guitarist Greg Cahill is a superb player. Full disclosure-His dad is a life long friend. We've watched Greg from when he first sat at a piano as a tyke.  He's true LA pro. 
    But that doesn't make life on the road easy.
      cayucos saloon and card room  the"tav"  cayucos
     After the Paso gig it was on to a place to sleep, briefly. An early morning wake up put them on the road to Carmel Valley for a three hour acoustic performance at a winery. The long drive back slammed into showing up in Cayucos to set up for the Saturday night show at the old Saloon.

    These guys are not in the music royalty, yet. They are their own roadies, engineers and set up men.
     On the road, you never know what kind of set up and acoustics you'll find.

     It takes a little psychology and musical alchemy to get a sense of the crowd, what they want to hear, and then feed them.

     There's no time to perfect the "room" for sound or staging. Just get up there and do it.
      After the second set at the Saturday night show, I told him it takes someone a lot younger than me to keep up the pace.                        

      In the next 8 days they'll be in San Rafael, Sacramento, San Francisco, Fairfax, Blue Lake, Arcata, Brookings Or., and Crescent City.
    Rock on!

     See you down the trail.

Thursday, February 7, 2019


    Another good sunrise here in the land of the "painted sky."
    It ushered a day to pay attention to sky works.
      The symmetry of the pelican formation amused me. Natural precision.
       A good day to take to the breeze.

for adults only
a place of reason
    I was pleased to hear from a friend that his stress level has dropped, his information level is up and he has a wider view of the world's ways and events. He's made the switch to the PBS News Hour.
    If there is anything about which I think I know a thing or two, it is broadcast journalism and television news. 42 years in the trenches and you learn. As cable news devolved to opinion, forced controversy, yacking heads and a mania for breaking news and assorted hype it lost my respect. 
   The old line networks still provide some traditional balance but they too have been swept up in the post social media din of shallow, short and not very nutritional. They and the cable channels, right and left, are about audience and specifically audience size. How far we have tumbled from the days of CBS, NBC and ABC before news divisions needed to be "money makers!" Back when the mission was information and news, instead of audience, we were better served and better informed.
     It is still that way with PBS. The news is reported without hype and contrived controversy. Complex political and policy issues are dealt with in-depth, with intelligence, balance and significance. In addition the axis of interest, the topics covered, are much wider, more global, more diverse, and informative. Science, business, the arts, and medicine are given time and space. As a viewer you leave the experience fully informed and frankly, wiser. You are not being "spun," nor worn out by needless or excessive graphics, teases, or shallow reporting. They don't tilt right or left, they provide news and information, not rhetoric and hype. It is full service, intelligent and dignified broadcast journalism for adults.

the ground game
     A couple of afternoon friends on a recent stroll.

     So as the probes go deeper, and the number of indicted  grows, and the noose grows tighter and as crazy as it has been, think how this time will look in the history books. Don't you think some descendants will be embarrassed, even mortified by how their ancestors voted and stood in these days of our lives?

      See you down the trail