Friday, January 29, 2021


    Highway 1, the fabled Pacific Coast Highway in beloved Big Sur has suffered mightily. The photos are by Heath Johnson of Cal Trans. The road had been closed as a precaution as the storm closed in on the coast.
    This damage is at Rat Creek near the John Little Nature Preserve and a few miles below the Esalen Institute. 

    Flood damage in homes is extensive. Many of us in Cambria are hearing from friends who experienced standing water in their homes and garages.
    At our home, on a ridge in what is called Top of the World, we recorded 13.3 inches from Tuesday to Friday morning.
    Our power outages were intermittent with the longest being a 5 hour stretch. We are lucky, some in the village have been without for days. 
    A few additional photos are posted below
 A storm turns a tranquil creek entry to the Pacific into a roiling torrent. The California central coast is recovering from an 
   historic storm that belies a pacific calm, a peaceful nature.             Consider it metaphor for the betrayal of the beauty of a constitutional principle or a Capitol roiled by a storm of insurrection.

            This post is primarily about the atmospheric river that has inundated the central coast with record setting rain. It is something to see, and to live through. At this UPDATE we've had 13.3 inches in THREE days. We share a few scenes here.

        But the old reporter's fire horse instinct can not be stilled. There is something rotten wafting from Washington and it very dangerous. 

        It is political gospel Republicans were warned by the House impeachment that if Donald Trump was not stopped by a Senate conviction, he would be emboldened and would do more to damage to American credibility and a civil society. If they had listened he would not have been able to perpetuate the big lie, savage the electoral process, embarrass the nation and rile his brainwashed minions to attack the government, the citadel of a our democratic republic and to seek to kill government leaders.

        It appears they are about to be cowards and accomplices again. Not to put a stake through Trump's narcissistic heart will bring more havoc on this nation. Killing Trump power will not end the travail, but his preternatural would-be successors do not command the loyalty of the suckers who were swindled by the worse liar in American history. 

        America is under attack from domestic terrorists. They are Trump jihadists, self righteous idiots, brainwashed by Fox News and rightwing spew. They reject all proof that Trump and his shameful failure were rejected by the largest vote in American History. They want to end the Republic and impose a would-be dictator. These are dark and evil currents and there is increasing evidence members of the House and Senate were in on the Capitol attack. They should be rooted out and dealt with. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are insurrectionists and prison time is the least they deserve. Ditto for the complicit members of the House. That Kevin McCarthy goes on bended knee to see the disgraced Trump is enough to make Lady Justice hurl. The crazy woman from Georgia takes a weapon onto the House Floor and says Nancy Pelosi must be taken out. Matt Gaetz, a Bozo of a stoner goes to Wyoming to challenge a House Republican leader Cheney. Maybe her papa, the dark lord of Republican grift will take Gaetz hunting with a shotgun.  

        It is time for the Republicans to stop this descent to violence and chaos. And it is it is time for federal investigative agencies and the Depart of Justice to send a few to prison and to continue to root out the militias, supremacists, faux patriots, fantasy warriors, racists and the intellectually destitute who believe anything that comes from a Trump's mouth.

        Enough of the profane. Let's look at the profundity of nature making history. Our little village and environs has been at ground zero of an atmospheric river acting like an open hose.

Along Main Street, East Village

Where a popular Taco vendor had a spot
The lawn bowls court 

Waterfalls in abundance, most in places where they never existed

The Before-
San Simeon Creek-usually a gentle stream

Not now-

After the rain...

additional photos

      All of the water, in an area where rain comes only in one season, reminded me of Scotland. Power outages, landslides, road closures, flooded homes and garages, downed trees, high winds and constant rain informs us this, unlike Scotland, is not natural. 
    But...we were in for a drought year, having received only two inches, deep into the rain season. That has changed in two days. 
    We'll recover, have something to talk about, and be grateful for the green hills and mountains, wild flower blooms, recharged lakes, reservoirs, wells and streams. 
    The storm of violence and hateful lie fueled terror is another matter. On that, it is time to act.

    See you down the trail.


Monday, January 25, 2021

America Energized

    The US is back on the trail. The path to a "more perfect union" has been rejoined. 
    Perhaps you've had the same experience; zoom conversations or other communications filled with expressions of a greater peace of mind or a sense of optimism. There's been a collective sigh of relief. We buoy our spirits as we confront the crises left for the Biden administration.

clean up work

    In the hard work before us is scouring the service branches and police departments. It will be tough, but right wing insurrectionists, racists and those lacking the intellect to reject the Q fantasy have no place in uniform. 

    The Defense Department* has leadership now to undertake a long overdue flushing of racists and the imposition of new standards. I had run-ins with Pentagon bureaucratic resistance and intentional blindness when I reported on racism including  the armed services. The present mood, and the dawn of a new administration could/should prompt appropriate improvement.

    Racist cops and sheriff deputies have been the bane of almost every American city and county perhaps forever. No, not all police and sheriff deputies are trouble, most are public servants, doing hard work, risking their lives while being horribly underpaid. It is unfortunate however most departments have the knuckleheads who, for whatever reason, dwell in misguided notions and suffer the lack of training and education that purges the simplemindedness of white supremacy and/or  overt macho recklessness and fanaticism.  

an old story

    I cut my reporting teeth in the mid 60's in a midwestern factory town where cops routinely beat Black arrestees, because they could. When I moved to the state capitol and  covered a metropolitan police beat it became rapidly obvious that despite efforts to integrate the department, racist cops were protected by the thin blue line of departmental loyalty. It is part of the American story, and there is much progress to make.

    The continuing investigations of the Capitol insurrection are likely to lead to a deserved focus on cops and troops who hate. We may finally get the enhanced employment evaluation and behavioral training so long overdue. Refine the police. 

rooting out the rebels?

    We'll know soon enough if the House and Senate are likely to press their resident seditionists. I'd censure or toss out any who voted against certifying the vote. There are certifiable screwballs serving in the House and they pose a danger to integrity and decorum. The nation needs a Congress that can legislate and see a nation larger than parochial or political intellectual limitations. The common good should be the objective.

    Competent people with American values, personal honesty and decency are in charge now and that change alone gives us hope. With the shameful retreat of the leading candidate for  worse US President, we can return to more down to earth and more satisfying matters.

     We were surprised to find one of our favorite isolated stretches of beach invaded by elephant seals, who fled their rookery due to recent Pacific wave events. This is the height of birthing season. The gull activity in the frame above attends a birth that occurred as we watched.

    The frame above features at least three newbies. They are  protected in the rookery where the public views from a curated vantage with docents on hand.

    We took high ground and observed, respectfully. The few other people who discovered the invasion as we were there, were also careful and kept a distance. A couple of days ago a docent and resident expert told me some visitors did not. 

    Reigning bulls are in the early days of mating season. Humans need not be on their mind. They are massive and powerful. A zoom lens is the way to approach.

    Who'd want to disturb a peaceful nap of an expectant mother?

          We've had our first jab and collected an image we chuckle about and wonder what in the world presently unborn descendants will make of it.
         Hope a shot finds you soon. Stay well and stay safe.

        See you down the trail.

         *Adam Ciralsky has an eye opening piece in the current Vanity Fair. He embedded with the outgoing Secretary of Defense in the last frantic days of Trump. It gave me a new perspective of Christopher Miller and what he did.    

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

"Democracy's Day" in America


Reuters photo

Andrew Harnik Pool/AP

        America came home.
      It is as President Biden said, "democracy's day in America."
      It is the story and the images I joyfully share with my 5 year old grand daughter and 3 year old grand son, who's birthdays straddle this historic day, this day of restoration. 
Pool photo

        The cold January 20, 1977 when Jimmy Carter was sworn in was my first inauguration. I covered the transitions of power until I retired. I've reported many Presidential addresses. Perhaps it is the emotion of this time, but I think Biden's was brilliant, appropriate and perfect. 
        Down to earth, honest, embracing the stream of history, a moment to summon the best of us all, and a plea for unity. 
        "My whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. 
        Uniting our people.
        And uniting our nation.
        I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting
        to fight the common foes we face"
        Anger, resentment, hatred.
        Extremism, lawlessness, violence.
        Disease, joblessness, hopelessness."

        Not since FDR has a President faced such oppressive challenges. Not since Lincoln has the nation been so divided. In the face of this reality, we should be encouraged that a unifier, a man of faith and integrity has taken office.
       Jim Lo Scalzu Pool/AP
     Biden knows Washington as well as any President. He is a son of the Senate and has worked across the aisle since he arrived as the youngest Senator in history. His life story also gives him the mettle to guide this nation back to honesty, dignity, purpose, aspiration and hope.
     He has assembled a team of veterans and competence. The government is again in qualified and fit hands.
     As a father of daughters, I am pleased to see the ceilings broken by my former Senator, now Vice President Harris who etched several historic firsts on this inauguration day. 
Pool photo

    Lady Gaga's rendition of the National Anthem is one of the finest and most stirring. It had an extra emotional interpretation in the light of January 6.

Susan Walsh Pool/AP
The nation has turned to a new direction. Intelligence and quality are on duty. There is a reason to hope, again.

Pool photo

    The astounding Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet laureate spoke with a wisdom of the ages.
    "We lift our gaze not to what stands between us but what stands before us...
    "...If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then 
    love becomes our legacy and change our children's 
    "...When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and 
    unafraid the new dawn balloons as we free it
    for there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it

    If only we are brave enough to be it."

    The republic has stepped out of the day of division, the night of evil, the carnage of deceit and delusion. Hard days and tough work are ahead, but we have a steady hand, a ready soul, and a man who believes in America to guide us. 
    We can once again be the beacon, the America of aspiration, "If only we are brave enough to be it."

     See you down the trail.


Friday, January 15, 2021

Truth in America-Battle Lines are Drawn


        The more perfect Union, Justice, domestic Tranquility, the common defense, the general Welfare and the blessings of liberty, the very raison d'etre enshrined in the Constitution, are in doubt and the people of these states are not United. 

    All is at risk, in danger and under attack because of lies. In January 2021, the US Capitol is a fortress, on defensive footing after four years of assault.

    As power transitions, the future of the Republic demands a full investigation of the insurrection. A national commission, such as those that investigated  9/11, the Kennedy Assassination, the Roberts Commission on the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, and other national trauma should be instituted. There is much to learn.

    The deadly insurrection appears to have had inside help from republican house members and/or staff. Capitol Hill police officers appear to have been complicit. Federal investigators have already identified police and sheriff department officers from across the US as being active in the assault. The truth of these insinuations needs to be learned.

    Aside from prosecutorial and national security threads to be followed, the commission would document the enabling social, political and cultural influences that undergird and created the foundation for the most heinous attack in US history.

    As the people who inherit the constitution and who are now responsible to maintain the democratic republic we must act forcefully against all bad actors, no matter where the trail leads.

    One of my heroes is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who died for his role in trying to end the rise of the fascism and authoritarianism that spawned the Holocaust. Generations of Germans have confessed and lamented how Hitler's Nazi movement could and should have been stopped by German citizens, rather than enabling a mad narcissist to turn a full nation to evil. They believed the lie. The risk of not seeking the truth is grave. 

    Those Americans who believe the false claims of a desperate and demonstratively insane Donald Trump must understand it is about more than politics. They need to know the depth and expanse of the Trump deception, distortion and anti American behavior. For the well being of the nation and themselves, they must come to accept the truth.

     Trump's supporters on Capitol Hill must acknowledge they were wrong. It would be an affirmation of the sanctity of the separation of powers and the Constitution for those in the House and Senate to be removed and charged as insurrectionists and seditionists. It appears such a movement may be mounted in both chambers.  

    There are calls for remembering the January 6th attack on the capitol and attempted coup as we remember 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. The more we learn of the violent orgy of the Trump mob, the more egregious it becomes.

    The republican party is presently infested with cowards. As William Saletan wrote, "Republicans who were in a multi year frenzy over Benghazi are now downplaying insurrection at the Capitol." You saw that evidenced in the Impeachment debate.

    There's a mitigating circumstance, and while it is not a pass for their continued support of Trump, it speaks to the vile influence and toll he has spawned. People, politicians and state officials targeted by Trump now need security. Some republican House members say they feared for their lives if they voted for impeachment. Family members of the incoming administration are under protection from Trump supporters. State capitols and state officials have been threatened by republicans. 

    Since the day of his announcement Donald Trump filled America with lies, hate and fueled division. The republican party sold its soul to the only president to be impeached twice,  a man who has done the bidding, willingly or otherwise of the wily Vladimir Putin. Trump has presided over brining America to an all time low.

    The tide has changed, but millions are brainwashed. They will be resistant. When members of congress were hidden away, sequestered in tight quarters as the blood thirsty mob rampaged the Capitol, republicans in the group refused to wear masks, turning the terrifying experience of hiding for safety into a super spreader event. Members of the republican caucus have been seen shoving and blowing through the newly installed metal detectors. That is ignorant and abusive.

    The republicans are at war. Will Trump fascism and mindless loyalty dominate, or will those of reason, principle and belief in America wrestle control of the party their way.
    Democrats will continue to walk the tension line between their progressive wing and the centrist position of Joe Biden and the predominant caucus.
    Other things are changing. Corporate donors have blacklisted republicans who supported Trump. Trump's brand is on the way to being worthless. Josh Hawley, who thought he was an heir to Trump nation lost a book contract, and is being sued by Hallmark for funds they contributed.

    Mike Pence, who I knew when he was an unsuccessful congressional candidate and small market radio host missed an opportunity to be heroic and to be forever remembered that way.
    His refusal to activate the 25th Amendment, because his ambitions lead him to reason he can absorb the MAGA millions for his own presidential aspirations is delusional. The Pence tragedy speaks to ill placed faith of Trump nation and the broken republican party.
    These not no so United States must work its way back to a place where governance, and public good supersede political advantage, ideology, vanity and the souless opportunism of people like Trump, Cruz and Hawley. 
    There may soon be legislative punishment for Trump minions like McCarthy, Gosart, Gaetz, Jordan and 140 others.      To some their actions were sedition.  

    Most of us live far from the levers of power but US citizens are participants never-the-less. This history making era will be  infamous. It has been a time of division and pain. There is time for family members, friends or associates who have been on the low road, believing the big lie, to wake up, to see the truth.                      
    Society, generations hence, will study this time of infamy. Descendants will see photos or video clips of those who were part of a movement that worshipped a lie and were ignorantly part of an effort to destroy the United States. These Trump lovers and Republicans were played for suckers by a fraudster lunatic. History will have the last word. 

    There is a saying in several idioms and of various "origin," Jeremiah, Jesus, John Heywood in 1546,  and Jonathan Swift in 1713. It speaks to us in 2021.

    "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

     See you down the trail.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021


     The television coverage brought tears to eyes and a strange emptiness to my core. My five year old granddaughter wondered into the room, sensed I was upset, looked at the television and asked "Are those real people Poppy?"
    Joe Biden demonstrated Presidential leadership and character. He vented and shared the horror most US citizens feel. He affirmed the scenes on TV is not the real America.  That is a moral victory of the day.
     Our collective history struck a new low. There is this to take away from the insurrectionist attack on the US Capitol-thousands of faces were captured on security cameras, by the media and on phones. Prosecutions will follow. Members of the House and Senate are resolved to finish the process of the republic to assure the dark night of the last four years will end.

    World leaders have stated their shock. I use this space to tell my friends abroad, we are sickened, but we are resolved as well.
    Five years ago I warned that Donald Trump was evil. I have said he is at least a Russian stooge. We are damaged because of him, but he is not alone in the attempt to undermine our republic.
    Senators Hawley and Cruz are seditionists. They should be tossed out of the senate and face charges. They were instigators of the violence we witnessed. Both of them, deplorable men to begin with, undertook their roles in the insurrection simply for their own political gain, trying to lay claim to some of the Trump loyal. There were others who gave shelter to the enemy with their support; Johnson, Loeffler, Lankford, Perdue Daines, Kennedy, Blackburn, Braun, Lummis, Marshall, Hagerty, and Tuberville. They should at the least be censured and stripped of rank. I would prefer to seem them tossed from the Senate.
     The fools in the House should be simply tossed out prosecuted. 
    What they all did was unAmerican, and encouraged the domestic terrorism we witnessed. 
    The Republican Party that condoned and encouraged the Trump outrages of the last 4 years will stand in shame. History will note they encouraged the lunacy that has grown under Trump.
    Trump is a traitor. He is unfit to continue in office, even in these late hours. Congressional leadership, the Chief Justice and Vice President Pence should move to preempt any more Trump madness. There are ways to move him out power and they should be executed

    That we can say those MAGA hatted, Trump flag waving rioters and insurrectionists acted in an illegal, and crazy manner does not undo the fact they BELIEVE the lies. They think, no, they know in their heart, that Donald Trump won the election. 
    This is the greatest poison that Trump pumped into the republic. The lies, the attack on media credibility, the dog whistles, the nod and wink to racists, the endorsement of the absolute lunacy of the Q conspiracies and his attempt to overturn the eletion were part of this evil man's game plan.
    The brain washed need action. First law enforcement and security need to find, arrest and prosecute those involved in the Capitol breech and it's planning and/or any further insurrectionist activity. They should be pursued with the full force of the law. They are domestic terrorists, even if they are brainwashed. Their actions are a threat.
    Harder to handle will be how to deal with friends, family members and those among us who believe the lies. That will take lots of attention, careful execution, prayers, love, and finding a civil way to simply no longer suffer fools easily. 
    It will take a massive public education effort.

    When my granddaughter looked at the TV, I explained quickly the people were behaving badly because they had been lied to, did not use their brains, had no respect for other people and were violating the law. Hard concepts for a 5 year old. I told her that the very bad man Trump was responsible for it, but there were more good people in America than there are like those on TV. It was then time for a walk with Nana who was also shaken by the horror of this day. 

    Stay strong. There is a democratic republic to support and rebuild. There is lunacy to expunge. There is honor, dignity and civility to lift up. We have to walk the talk.

    See you down the trail.