Friday, April 30, 2021

The American Spring

 moonrise on pineridge, cambria ca

        A new season is upon America, and it births a time of decision. Is the nation changing and are citizens raising the expectation of government? Are we watching an historical shift in political tectonics?

the end of the Reagan revolution?

         Is Reaganism and its anti government doctrine in demise? Will America return to the belief that Federal government is not the problem, but the solution? These questions are working toward resolution at a time when the party of Reagan, and Bush I and II has become the property of Trump and insurrectionists.  

         Since Reagan first exhorted "the federal government is the problem," Republican fiscal policy, and cultural mantra has been to diminish the role of the government in a wide array of American life. Republicans embraced an economic theory that wealth would "trickle down." The conservative gospel was that government should barely exist while the economic fruits of capitalism would abound for all.  
        Before Reagan the foundational relationship of citizen to government was the legacy of Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.
        The American belief in the federal government was denigrated by the Reagan gospel of a smaller federal government, cuts in programs and services, lavish defense spending, budget breaking tax cuts for corporations and the most wealthy and actions like closing mental hospitals, busting unions and running up the deficits.

is Biden's popularity seismic?

        Will Americans embrace the history that government is transformative, that citizens should be served by a government that fixes problems and provides ways for a better life? 
        Analysts and historians suggest Joe Biden is returning the premise that guided FDR and Lyndon Johnson during their defining years of leadership as American excellence prevailed.

    American Presidential history has a pattern. 
    Republicans trigger recession, engage military actions, and run massive deficits while social services are starved. Democrats get stuck with the clean up and the amping up of government service. 
    The wealth gap, the shrinking of the middle class, the loss of American jobs, cultural divide and isolation was rampant by the time the Republican guardianship crashed us into near depression in 2008. 
        Barrack Obama rescued the economy, and authored the affordable care act, but Republican control of the Senate doomed any sweeping return to classic Democratic policy. 
        The Biden approach offers a return to the governing principles put into place when Franklin Roosevelt was elected in the midst of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in US history after another disastrous Republican rule. Government came to the aid of US citizens in myriad ways. 
      Biden came to office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the depression, combined with the pandemic mismanaged by a divisive, corrosive and incompetent authoritarian Trump Republican rule.
      Citizen needs, infrastructure decline, and economic injustice welled up in the 40 years since American attitudes about government were assaulted by Republicans and their propaganda media, which they do effectively. 
        After 40 years of the Republican Party calling the government broken, Americans are hearing another vision.

a new twist

        Biden's proposals for the American Family, and his Infrastructure plan are popular with most American voters of every persuasion. His personal approval rating is high, but his edge in congress is razor thin and the poison of the big lie and the insurrection infect those who feed on the mind numbing propaganda pablum of Rupert Murdoch's Fox News or the looney fringe right wing media. 
    The potential of an American Spring with sweeping reenergizing of government is there, but these times are precarious.

            On a personal note I applaud Biden's desire to adjust the American expectation of education to 16 years, up from the 12 established historically. My coverage of and friendship with 30 year Congressman Andy Jacobs Jr led me to appreciate how important the pre kindergarten years are to children, especially those from economic or socially challenged homes. Jacobs, a member of House Ways and Means, and the Judiciary committees, was an early advocate for the idea Biden now advocates. 
    Jacobs sighted experts and research making the case for the personal and social benefits of getting children into a stable, secure and educationally stimulating environment during the critical first 4 years of life. This is the sort of program  Democrats believe in and Republicans oppose because it requires funding. 
            The benefits of better educated generations seem obvious. Also obvious, it won't happen unless the government enables it. That is the sort of detail the Biden Presidency is trying to return to the work of government.  

        How will we have it? What will be our expectation?
          It's interesting that our season of decision comes as the most senior of all US Presidents, a working class Irishman with  a long history in and love for the Senate, is being compared to iconic Democrats who shepherded government through history making eras. It might happen again.

        Stay strong.

        See you down the trail. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

The true Kings and Queens and Political Optimist or Pessimist?

        Sequoiadendron Giganteum are the royalty worthy of a bow.
    The Giant Sequoia groves, found only on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in California, are amongst the oldest and largest life on this planet.
     Being in their presence is being on sacred ground.

        There is palpable sense of something more grand than human. 
          The oldest Sequoia is estimated to be 3,200. 

        They stand as tall as 279 feet and can be 26 feet in diameter. 

        They prompt a sense of reverence and wonder.  Some native people called them Wawona. The Tule River Tribe named them Toos-pung-ish. 
    English speakers named them in honor of Sequoyah, who developed the symbols for the Cherokee language.

        It is more than size and the history they have endured that make them extraordinary organisms. To a point, they survive fire.

      Unless the fire or heat reaches to the top branches, they will endure, scar, and live on. Their fibrous bark is thick and serves as a kind of insulation.     

        In a bit of perplexing nature, the Giant Sequoias seed only in the aftermath of fire, or extraordinary heat. 

        It is stunning to consider what has occurred on this planet in the last 3000 years and to know these regal forms of life have endured that span.

        Science speculates there were more of these giant redwoods in pre-historic time, but things changed in the ice age. It is said the climate has been right only the last 4000 years, but now that is changing. The future for these giants is uncertain.

        From majesty to monsters

         As conservative republican David Brooks wrote in his column, "The level of Republican pessimism is off the charts." 
       Some of them are urging murder.
       Brooks tells of an Economist survey that asked Americans what was closest to their view: 
        Option A-- The world is big and beautiful mostly full of good people and we must find a way to embrace each other and not allow ourselves to become isolated.
        Option B--Lives are threatened by terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants, and our priority should be to protect ourselves.
         75% of Biden Voters chose the good world. 66% of Trump voters said our lives are threatened. 

        The more the world witnesses the competence and skill of the Biden Presidency, the sillier it is that some cling to the Trump big lie. News clips of his toxic and unhinged presidential moments gain greater vulgarity with time.
        It is a shame so many American citizens have their heads so deluded and hidden in another portion of their anatomy. Their blindness presents a problem to all of us.
        Brooks wrote "This level of catastrophism, near despair, has fed into an amped-up warrior mentality."
        "The decent know that they must become ruthless. They must become the stuff of nightmares," Jack Kerwick writes in the Trumpian magazine American Greatness. "The good man must spare not a moment to train, in both body and mind, to become the monster that he may need to become in order to slay the monsters that prey upon the vulnerable."

    I share Brooks' concern about the massive disconnect from reality that Trump loyalists are infected by, and that in turn has destroyed the traditional Republican party. We are not talking about a small fraction of people. There are tens of millions who have been so propagandized, fed distorted information and flat out lies as to be functionally politically illiterate and/or psychotic.
    Here is a measure of how sinister the savaging of truth is. Fox News viewership is declining as poor misguided and sad souls flee to two bozo outfits who made it their goal to be more right wing propagandized swill than Fox. 
    The evil that Joseph Goebbels launched and that Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch practiced has spawned a new mind damaging seed. 
    Ever the believer that truth wins out, I take succor in the wide Biden public approval rating, and the bipartisan support of most American voters for his programs. The more they see, the more they like. That dose of excellence is likely to be an antidote to the poison of deception and corruption that so many suffer from. It is not unlike the wonder of the vaccine that lessens the horror of the virus. 
        It is liberating when humans appreciate science, knowledge, history, and practice intelligent functioning. Some folks are starting to throw away those red hats, and are embarrassed about believing in Q. For the benefit of those who resist the truth and for the of us, we need to find a way to heal.
        Intelligence is standing it's ground, but there is more work to do. It might help to think of those former friends or family members as being victims. They have been damaged by lies, poisoned by hateful division, and some simply don't know the truth, or are not willing to challenge their suppositions.

        Stay strong.
        See you down the trail



Sunday, April 18, 2021

Exploring our Sameness

        Spring has come to the mountains, and that prompts ideas.
     Do you think we can tolerate a few more? Especially about race?      

    Splendid revival is underway in the western Sierra. New life buds and blooms, rivers are swift, despite a low snow pack, and the Red Bud trees are painting the mountains.

    Warnings were posted about the cold and dangerous currents, but riparian life is thriving.  

 Kaweah river, Three Rivers California 

Kaweah river Sequoia National Park

    Some ideas are simple, but in the mountains they seem more grand, at least to this scribe. 
    Could we begin to "solve" racism, or even awaken ourselves to how deep and systemic it is, if we elevated our view? 
    If we could manage a cosmic perspective, seeing planet earth from a vast distance, would it have an ameliorative impact? 

        If we had the capacity to see our blue and mostly water planet in the context of a milieu that embraced galaxies, even rich with life, would we see life here, differently? 
    For the sake of this post, assume life exists in some form elsewhere in the known and unknown reaches of all creation.
   How would we think about each other down here, if "we" realized how same and alike we are, compared to another life form from out there?

        Do you think we can or should be trusted in space bustling with life, or might we disdain that not like us, be it any image of an "alien" you can imagine? And see, right here from the start, we have this problem of calling it or them or they, an "alien." Alien connotes something other than relationship.
         If you are a person of faith and discover there is indeed life, then do you have any other choice than to recognize a spiritual kinship with that life, also a product of the forces of creation. C.S. Lewis nailed the idea when he said,  "Our loyalty is not due our species, but rather our God."
         So with that as a frame, could we not better see how much alike we truly are, down here on planet earth as we travel the highway of life? 

    I've driven these roads in Sequoia but never before when the Red Buds were blooming. Another cosmic treat.

        Be kind to each other. Offer hospitality to strangers.

        See you down the trail.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Budding-A New Bi-partisanship

 celebrating new

    Grape vines too are showing new energy in this spring of what we hope is the first of the year of post pandemic life. 

    A new political reality appears to be budding as well.

   While it was a splendid day for a flight over the wine regions of the central coast, we drove for a look-see in the Edna Valley south of San Luis Obispo.

    We then headed north to the Paso Robles west side District and took in the Adelaida and Willow Creek Districts as well.

   Some vines are ahead of others. These 4 regions offer Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Counoise, Picpoul, Viognier, Chardonnay and more, so the degree of budding is highly variable. 

    Producing a massive volume of grapes, including those bound for Napa Valley wineries, Paso Robles growers and wine makers have become among the most awarded. 
    The freedom to blend brought French wine making families to the region to do what they cannot at French Chateau wineries. 

    A winemaker's art flourishes here where creativity reset standards and where a history of growing and oenology blend to redefine wine making as California tends to do.`

     Thousands of miles from these picturesque settings, a Washington veteran is channeling history and political skill in an artful redefinition of bipartisanship, "Bidenpartisanship." 

        Biden's public approval rating soars, with both those who self identify as Republicans as well as Democrats. 
        Approval of the Covid Relief Plan and the proposed Infrastructure package is high with a majority of US citizens. He get's high marks for his handling of Covid. His support cuts across party lines. 
        Senate and House Republicans dicker but the majority of their voters support the Biden package. Biden has popular bipartisan support while the Trump infected party on Capitol Hill, already divided, becomes feckless. Their scorched earth partisanship is destructive if for no other reason than weakening a legislative process where give and take and compromise makes better laws and budgets.
        If the shoe were on the other foot and Republicans controlled the legislative branch they'd push their agenda. History certifies that; blocking even a hearing on Obama's Supreme Court Nominee, reversing their "principles" by jamming through a Judge in a presidential election season. Their tax cut for the rich is now targeted by Biden, another reason the party of the wealthy and the wacky do their obdurate whining. 
         They whine when they are not embarrassed by another Republican sex and morality scandal. Sleazy Matt Gaetz makes headlines and Mitch McConnell talks about corporations, and then walks that back. Their whining is amplified by the Trumpian insanity that infects their House members. Then there is Ted Cruz, Scott Hawley and Ron Johnson. American voters are moving toward the Democrats as Republicans fail to stifle their anti American, regressive and Jim Crow tendencies. 
        The revelation of the week is the Republicans caught on tape admitting even their own party rejects the dark money game of Billionaires trying to block the For the People Act, the election reform bill. A McConnell aid is heard worrying that even Republican voters like the legislation. A little known portion of the bill would stop the money from the most wealthy. 
This would also affect Democrat fund raising, further evidence of Biden bipartisanship. Biden is eying history. Republicans are eying a bunker.  

bunk mates

Hemingway and Joy made quick use of a car seat that spent a night in the garage.

a passage

Photo by Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace

        Being no fan of the idea of royalty or aristocracy, I am nonetheless duty bound to say Prince Philip lived a well tailored life. 

      See you down the trail.