Thursday, May 28, 2020

Mounting Appeals

     I thank you for your patience over the last 10 years and 1,245 posts. We have not always agreed, the posts may not have been to your liking, but you have given me the kindness of your attention.
     In this post I come to you with a set of appeals, and, as is the case, the appeals are to a higher principle or value, or an effort to change a judgement or reality.

the list
  •     An appeal for a place of history, just up the Pacific Coast Highway. It is a very special place.
  •     An appeal to the Biden Campaign.
  •     An appeal to Donald Trump
  •     An appeal to you and the news media. We begin here.

a plea for perspective and proportionality

      At this writing 101 thousand people in the US have died from Covid-19. Most have been horrible deaths, often alone, following terrible suffering. The attempt to save victims has overwhelmed some hospitals and has cost the life of medical personnel. 
     101 thousand deaths in three months=33,000 deaths a month.
     At this time 1.72 million cases have been reported and 365 thousand are reported to have recovered. Hold these numbers.

     Most of the stats are from the CDC and the calculations are estimates based on several years. 

     heart disease
    More than 647 thousand people in the US die from heart disease. That is 1 in 4 US deaths=53,916 deaths a month.

    More than 606 thousand people in the US die from cancer=50,000 deaths a month

    More than 140 thousand people in the US die from stroke=11,000 deaths a month

     alzheimer's disease
    More than 122 thousand people in the US die from Alzheimer's disease=10,000 deaths a month.

      influenza 80 thousand people in the US died from influenza last year=6,666 deaths a month.

     Covid-19 fatalities will increase. If it kills at the rate it has thus far, it will not be the most lethal disease on our shores.    
      It is a new and changing virus and it may prove to be more deadly than any disease. We are still not sure about legacy effects and so it needs study and research. You and I and the media can't help but pay attention.
     A raging, invisible enemy virus is too important a story to ignore. 
     But when the pandemic is under control, and/or when a vaccine or treatment drug is available, will there be dire reporting about the monthly or weekly toll of heart attacks, cancer, stroke, alzheimer's? 
    I'm not suggesting an equivalency. The virus has hit like an invasion and it kills, some, rapidly by comparison. 
     I wonder as some talk about "herd immunity" why we then don't also speak of "thinning the herd?"  It is an indelicate and insensitive thought, akin to "survival of the fittest" or, in my view, the detestable concept of Social Darwinism. But when a disease attacks the most vulnerable, the eldest, those with illness, it operates functionally as such. 
    In some some cultures, those least able to keep up are left behind. Today we hear people say reopening the economy puts some at risk.
     As the virus has killed, it has killed people of color and disadvantage disproportionately. There are reasons for that, but few seem interested in that discussion. That topic is much like the economic disparity the resulting pandemic recession has brought to light. There is much in the US that is not equal, despite our creeds otherwise.  
    If we care about the daily death toll of the virus, should we not also care about other killing illnesses? At this time they are more lethal and less likely to be halted by a vaccine. Certain clarifying truths have been revealed since Covid-19 attacked, and there is much about our for profit medical system, our ailing government, our strategic readiness, and our priorities that need attention.
     I'm appealing for perspective, and a sense of proportion.

attention biden campaign
     A thought about bona fides; there are resumes more impressive than mine, still I made a living covering politics. I was on campaign trails since 1968, covered conventions, moderated senate and gubernatorial debates, questioned presidents, was an on air analyst, have written and reported and documented. So consider this as worth two cents, or not.
     This speaks to two tracks, the election and then governance.
      It behooves Joe Biden to do early transition work and reach out for Cabinet members and key roles now. There is much to do to repair the damage of the last 4 years, at home and around the world. Works and strategies should be underway now. It also helps strengthen the campaign's appeal.
      If US voters can see the experience, stability and qualification of the Biden team, it helps to draw a clear picture of comparison. What is most appealing-calm, experience, and strategic or irrational, erratic and inexperienced bungling, compounded by deception?
      Mr. Biden and his advisors should be meeting with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer collaborating on a legislative agenda. This is the time to work out the friction points and polish off the agenda for the first 100 days. 
      When congress convenes in 2021 a united Democrat effort, from the White House to Capitol Hill, should immediately jump into recovery from the pandemic's economic impact. 
       The Biden team should look closely at the FDR approach. Something like a new version of WPA could  put millions to work rebuilding infrastructure, roads, bridges, schools, sewer systems, neighborhoods and more. 
      What have we learned during the lockdown that might help to positively shape education, business, and a transactional culture? The Biden team should be on top that. 
      The Biden effort could tap Bill Gates to assemble a team of thinkers to advise the administration in how to embrace the technology and communication driven changes that are necessary in the Federal system and in the wider economy. The conundrum of a 21st Century population dealing with federal agencies that are still using 20th Century data and processing allows for fraud, waste, and results in things like  veterans having to wait for attention, or delays in getting small business loans processed, lack of oversight in how the Trump people are dumping millions to favored businesses and countless other problems. 
      It is an organizational as well as functional problem and the expertise and brilliance of innovative minds could make an impact. Think of it as a new generation of bright ideas.
      Biden should speak of the New Beginning, and set the vision for repairing the damage done by the stooges of the last 4 years. 
hit hard and often
      The campaign should hit Trump hard. It is effective to simply show video of his thousands of lies and his egregious behavior, and his traitor like sycophantic pandering with Putin and Kim. No one has held his feet to the fire because he is the master of slime and changing focus and he keeps putting a new bright shinning object out there to distract. 
      I appeal to the White House Press corp to continue to evince courage and to challenge lord blowhard and not let him prevaricate and lie. 
      The Biden campaign should unleash a full scale assault on the Trump deceptions, fraud, failure and his unfitness to lead. They should reach out to Republicans, true traditional Republicans, to help with the repudiation.
      This heavy work is to be done in the media, mainstream and social. No one should be able to turn on screen without seeing the dissembling of the Trump era.
target keys 
      As noted earlier there must be a full on campaign in those key swing counties and states. A majority of popular vote for Biden is likely, but the Trump path is in the key counties and precincts that could swing an electoral vote. 
     The Biden team should include, Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar, Castro, Harris, Booker, Buttigieg, Yang, at the very least. Let them campaign to those segments and regions where they have appeal.
      A good question to drive home time and time again in those traditional Democrat states that voted for Trump in 2016 is the old "Are you better off than you were" before Trump? Ask that to the coalminers for example. Just this week it was announced that 13 coal mines are closing. This on the watch of the man who was going to open the mines. Remember the video of him shoveling and crowing about how he was going to reopen the mines? There is a lot of that sort of thing available. 
      His shamelessness can be used against him, by the media team, while Joe and his administration team explain how they will rebuild and repair and recover and make a New Beginning. 

an appeal for an historic piece of california
   Just up the road from this iconic view of Big Sur is bit of California hospitality that has enchanted visitors since the 1930s.
     I have avoided doing pitches or appeals, so this is an exception to my rule. At the bottom of this post is a piece from Deetjen's Inn. It tells of the history and the struggles they face.
    I provide just one more space for their outreach.
    These images are from a family outing and stay at the funky, eclectic Big Sur institution. 
    Since our grand daughter was with us, we took this cabin. Mom and kid down, Lana and I took the upstairs, in the trees. 
         The dining room is legendary itself. It is not unusual for people to book a stay, just to dine.

   The grounds offer trails and places to walk and meditate in the red woods. 

     At night the cozy charm almost glows. 

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn Needs You Now!
For years Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn has weathered fires and floods, mudslides and crashing trees, and we have survived. The crisis surrounding Covid-19 and the sweeping Federal, State, and local states-of-emergency is being felt nationwide and it pains me to have to ask for help during this impossible time.

Today, I am writing to you from a place of uncertainty.
Today, Deetjen’s needs you!

If you have ever loved a pancake, a cup of coffee, an Eggs Benedict, or a candle-lit dinner, a glass of wine, a fire-warmed room on a rainy night, or have been welcomed to the Inn just passing through, I am appealing to you. If you have a memory of the first time you ever came to Deetjen’s in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, or 2010’s, I am appealing to you.

On March 20, 2020 we closed our doors to guests and sent most of our team home. We asked ourselves: how long can we stay closed, who can we support right now, and what will it take to get back opened. Like everyone, we wondered “how long will this take?” And like everyone, we have very few answers. Our considerations are, first and foremost, for the health and safety of our staff, our guests, and our community. We are in constant deliberation and engaged in very challenging decision making to ensure that we can reopen the Inn.

In 2016 the Soberanes fire interrupted business at Deetjen’s and in 2017 Deetjen’s was closed for 8 months as a result of the failure of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and subsequent closing of Highway One and then in the devastating winter of 2016/2017 Deetjen’s lost 4 guest rooms to falling trees. In addition to the destruction of our rooms, in December 2017 the IRS reviewed our 501(c)3 non-profit status. In January of 2020 the IRS returned with our affirmation, the mission and related non-profit status of Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn was upheld. Deetjen’s was able to reopen its doors in October of 2017 because of generous support from our community and from the worldwide Deetjen’s family. Though reconstruction was permitted in December and finally commenced in January 2020, Deetjen’s has never fully recovered from the previous years’ losses. 

For more information about Deetjens Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation Inc. visit our website at

In Service to the Inn, 

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn Friends and Family

Deetjens Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation, Inc is a 501(c)3 Non Profit Charitable Organization. Activities include lodging to the public to visit and experience the historic location in authentic, historic and original redwood cabins, with educational activities, experiences, and tours. 

California Residents Disclosure: The non-profit status with the state of California Franchise Tax Board remains unresolved for the time being and itemized deductions of contributions will be permissible on your federal return, but possibly not on your California state return (unless we can get FTB straightened up before the end of the year).

   the appeal to trump
    Find a reason to go away. Blame it on the deep state conspiracy that created the pandemic just to ruin your reign.
Blame Obama, Hilary, Comey, and all of the fake media for setting out to get you. Just leave, quit, go back to your faux palace and gold leaf toilets. 
    There is a reason why some 50 high Republicans warned us about you. As they said in August of 2016 you are unfit, unqualified and you lack the character to lead. You have proven that every day.  They said you would be dangerous, and you have been.  
     The people who were once decent Republicans would be so much better served if you left now, blame it on those bad bone spurs. Tell us that Obama snuck into the White House and put drill worms in your ears. Tell us that Melania is worried about how Mike Pence looks at her. Anything, just say it. Tell us you are going to invent a new florescent suppository that will cure the next pandemic the Deep State will unleash. Maybe you've already said all of that. I'm like millions of others, we just don't listen anymore. The country is over you. 
     Let your buddy Mr. Mannequin have his day in the sun.  Tell us you made America great again and did everything to make it all perfect, and then just shrink away. That would be beautiful, just beautiful. You know, that's what we're hearing, that's what people are saying. Now, just go.

      Take care of each other.
       See you down the trail. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

We Are Better Than...

the long view

      Watching the world is easy out here, close to the edge of the planet. 
      In full disclosure, we're in a retired herd, and free ranging between the poles of Los Angeles and San Francisco. As we watch the world shut down and try to get back to normal, we see things others may not and there are reasons for that.
     The wide open space out here, gives us room to think and time to ponder. Population is sparse, the sky is big and there is room to put things into perspective.
     A lot of us "have been there, done that," doers, players, even power players and movers and shakers from a time before Trump and time before the virus. Experience matters.
     When I broke into a big city newsroom in the late 60's, my mentor was an old newspaperman in his 70's. He'd seen it all. 
     "You'll see everything," he said. "Like the good book says, 'nothing new under the sun' just different names."
    I wrote about Bob Hoover in a September 29, 2016 post that you can link to here. Born in 1898 Bob lived through the Spanish Influenza pandemic. He was a musician at the time and became a reporter in 1918. Bob said it was good to listen, especially to the old people, because they had seen and done a lot and had survived. 
    I listened to Bob. There was a time when the culture listened to and even revered "old people." Not sure that is so anymore.
    If you scratch hard enough at the drive to "reopen" the economy, you will find an element that places economic recovery as a higher priority than the well being of those who are most vulnerable; geezers, gray panthers, boomers, old people, seniors, whatever we're called and those with health issues, not all of whom are aged. I suspect it is more an unintended consequence than a malicious act, although there is a lot of "OK Boomer" these days.
     It probably cannot be avoided. Economic collapse does severe harm and we must be about making repairs. If we had been led by a fit, qualified, experienced leader, we would have been better prepared, more proactive and could have moved to isolate the most vulnerable, prevent overwhelming hospitals and still maintain some work and commerce. It is too late for that now and in some of the clamor to reopen there has been a strain of something dangerous.  
     Before we wade into that, we pause for a moment at San Simeon Creek, babbling its way to the Pacific. The visual rhythm of a mountain stream is refreshing. 

masks are about health and safety
    The decision to wear a mask, or not, is about health and safety. Masks, social distancing, and isolating at home helped California and other places avoid over loading hospitals as happened in Italy, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.
     In a twisted and sad way, some try to make mask wearing, or not, a political statement. That is wrong headed and indicative of the toxic and divisive nature of Trump leadership. Masks protect. Everyone!
     Trump supporters are mob thinkers, easily led, blindly loyal, neither encumbered with nuance, nor bothered by efforts at reason. They don't need facts, their leader will tell them what is fake. 
      The leader is arguably the most aggressive liar in history. He takes an unapproved medicine and many follow suit. He does not deign to wear a mask and they've made that a battle line. They are fools, following a fool and they are with in their rights. That's how it works.
      A friend from college days, a successful attorney and historic litigator wrote from his mountain home back east-
     "This Trump stuff is crazy beyond words. The right wingers who won't stay at home and won't wear masks I hope become infected. Since natural selection is the driving engine of evolution, maybe it will all work out and they will be eliminated from the gene pool."
      He went on to say he hopes they hold their convention where they will be self corralled and infecting each other."
     He was never one to mince words.
follow the leader

 Life teaches. A good leader is always ready to reach down and lend a hand, especially when you are in deep
and struggling.

we need a cure
   We are better than who we have been in the last four years. The US needs a cure. The US needs a vaccine to prevent a second wave of Trumpism. It is a malicious, selfish, divisive, corrupt, fascistic and unAmerican movement that is a virus in the body politic. It is a government of fraud and failure with blood on its hands. Ignorance is the currency and loyalty to a sick man is the tool of survival.
    Firing 4 Inspectors General in just weeks is evidence of a dangerous mindset and a threat to the structure of the United States government.  It is a move by a would be dictator to obstruct constitutional balance of power. He want's unchecked, unchallenged power and that cannot be allowed. 
   It is fitting that in years and decades hence the Trump years will be known as the years of the Virus. As terrible as he is, as historically failed as he has been, he will play second banana to a virus. Covid-19 gets top billing. A century later, Trump may be only an asterisk. 
    By now the only thing that might change that is if he were to set his hair on fire on Fifth Avenue. No one would stop him. At least no one in a mask.
for the mask wearers of the world
the Diane rose
from a Cambria magic garden

      John Chancellor, the late NBC journalist said "being a reporter is like being a fire horse, you always want to answer the bell." 
       All of those years of assignments and deadlines have driven how I have attacked and consumed information, data, reporting and science over these last weeks. I've been keen to watch how governors, communities, medical groups and others have reacted. 
       The virus and the shutdown has revealed how fractured we are. Singularly it exposes how broken this version of capitalism is, and how wealth distribution is abusively wrong and incomprehensibly unfair. 
        We are better than this. The notions of fairness, equality, compassion, and greatness have been in us historically. It is time to be guided by better angels, those same angels Abraham Lincoln invoked in his first inaugural

   "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it, must not break out bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." 

     See you down the trail.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Cover Up---Open Up---What's Up---Rise Up

warp speed
the mascot of the US testing program

   And now we are to understand we've become further divided. Wearing masks, or not. Opening up, even beyond recommendations or not. 
    I've drawn my line in the sand. This virus will not end, we must learn to live with it, wisely. 
    Until and if there is a vaccine or treatment we must pursue testing and contact tracing to give us the tools to keep people healthy and alive while also bringing a global economy back to life. They go hand in hand. To act otherwise is foolish, and dangerous. 
    There is no solution without a cost. Contact tracing runs us close to boundaries of privacy and personal security, so it must be handled wisely. But it must be done if we want to resurrect a way of life and earning that resembles what we've come to know as normal. Tracing is predicated on testing. It is embarrassing, humiliating and revealing how the US has failed at implementing testing. Even with both, we cannot expect a quick return to a vibrant economy. 
    The executive branch has failed miserably, ignoring warnings, firing key personnel, having not a clue about strategic reserve, and acting like amateurs. Because of that a total shutdown was a panic button response. It will take a lot to reignite the economy and even more to repair the damage.

second looks

creativity rocks
   Musicians, visual artists, performance artists, journalists and writers have been a shinning light in the pandemic darkness. Their efforts, while not as heroic as medical workers, are up there with grocery personnel, first responders, mail and delivery drivers and have provided immense service.
    Show hosts, news reporters and entourage casts have found a way to work around the logistic nightmare of not being in studios or being able to work together. 
    Saturday Night Live has delivered 3 at home programs that have been increasingly more sophisticated, tight and entertaining. Sam Bee and Bill Maher, working from their homes have continued their cutting edge satire. John Oliver has continued his deep dive into absurdity, corruption and failure. Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon have continued to find ways to make lock down fatigued citizens laugh. 
      Musical artists have been extraordinary, working sans studio and bandmates. 
      There has been much to be immensely disturbed and worried about, but the artistic soul, expressed in myriad ways, should give us all a lot of hope.

aspirational behavior
     The same can be said of church and faith groups as well. They've found ways via Zoom, Facebook, Youtube and other streaming technologies to tend to the human soul, and provide pastoral care and succor.
      Teachers and parents have done admirable work in continuing education against extraordinary challenge.
      Millions of us have found a way through this historic passage. It is only human to long for "the way it used to be," but we've bucked up. Now is not a time to let impatience, idiocy, or selfishness set us back.
       There was a classic photo and commentary making the rounds. Protestors clamoring for a full reopening, not observing social distance, not wearing masks facing medical professionals, who have seen the worst of it, wearing masks and calling for reason. Someone noted the unmasked angry, some even with guns, cared only about themself, the masked, and socially distanced, cared about everyone.
       We deserve better than the selfish. We deserve better than their role model. 

rocks of ages
   Last year's visit to Scotland and Ireland put us in places that have withstood all life has to give, and have done so for centuries. Some even took over a century to build. 
    They've withstood plagues, fires, wars, including World Wars with bombing attacks, revolutionary change in culture, and attitude. Future changing history occurred in some of them. Generations have come and gone. They remain, like rocks for the ages.
     Regardless of your belief, these frames offer a sense of permanence, and the ability to endure and survive. They represent the heights of human skill, creativity, imagination and a sense of connection to the sacredness of life.

    Humankind can endure. We have it within us to be wise, and capable. It is ours to choose.

     Take care of each other.

      See you down the trail.