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It’s Miller Time!

Sunday, 16 December 18


I woke up early this morning. 0730.  “Bad dogs!  Bad dogs!”


I groggily fired up the ol’ computer and located Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan and streamed it.


To my disgust,  I encountered the shit-eel known as Stephen Miller, chief architect of individual1’s immigration policy and one of individual1’s speechwriters.


Nobody should have to listen to Miller first thing upon awakening, regardless of the time of day.  But I had no one to blame but my dogs.


Nevertheless, I persevered…for 12 long minutes. Fighting bile the entire time.


I will say that it was Herr Miller at his nauseating worst.


(I must say I did enjoy watching Miller’s meltdown and rant.)


The first thing I noticed was his bizarre hairline. It took me a moment to realize he had spray painted his head so he wouldn’t look as bald as he is.


Whoever told him it was a good look was just fucking with him to make him look as foolish as possible on national TV.  Let’s get that lady a job on Saturday Night Live.


Not to be distracted by the absurdity of his pate, I listened to his comments.


He starts off feigning sorrow for the death this week of a 7-year-old unauthorized immigrant girl who was found in the deserts of New Mexico and died while in the custody of U.S. immigration officials.


Then, he despicably blames the girl’s death on “left wing” judges. Huh?  Where did that come from?  Miller never explains.


Then, we have “The Wall, The Wall, The Wall…Give US The Wall, The Wall, The Wall….” 


He states apodictically that the President (individual1) will do whatever is necessary to get full funding for The Wall to make Americans safer.  When asked by Brennan if there is any wiggle room in the $5 billion amount, Miller says he won’t negotiate in public but that the President (individual1) will do anything necessary to get funding for his Wall.  Finally, when asked if the President would really shut down government if he didn’t get full funding for the Wall, Miller surprisingly said that the President (individual1) will do everything necessary to get funding for his wall.


This might surprise you, but I am all in favor of building a $5.1 billion impenetrable wall as long as it completely surrounds Stephen Miller.  Perhaps Clarence Thomas, too.  There may be a few others as well.  I’ll contribute to the cause.


Finally, he was asked if he thought the SCOTUS would uphold the (partisan) Texas judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. 


Miller asserted that the Supremes would uphold that latest ruling because Obamacare (sic) was clearly unconstitutional and a disaster for the country.  Then, when asked about the 20 million people who would lose health coverage if the ACA was ruled unconstitutional, Miller inexplicably answered, “Well, what about the 25 million Americans that aren’t covered by Obamacare now.”(sick)


WTF!  What kind of chopped logic is that from this turdwhistle?  Misery loves company?


The main reasons why 25 million people aren’t covered now are 1) the 14 Republican governors around the country who refused to allow their states to participate in the Affordable Care Act through medicaid expansion.  


That’s why the federal government set up the national exchange so that individuals from those states could sign up for coverage.


2) The other reason why some of the 25 million uncovered or inadequately covered didn’t sign up was because they were among the Deplorables who drank the Kool-Aid about death panels and sky high rates.


One good thing happened during my 11 minute travail with Miller.  I remembered I’d started writing a piece last September on individual1 getting laughed off the stage by the world’s leaders at the UN and that Stephen Miller had written the speech that resulted in trump’s ignominious moment.  You may remember that day as well.


What I remember is that I had started the piece with a brilliant profile of Stephen Miller.  One of my (ahem) best.  Reading it may scar you for life, but in a good kind of way.  You may not ever again picture him as you do now. 


I thought that given Miller’s performance and hairline this morning, today would be a good day to trot it out.  If I could only locate it.


I searched for it and found it.  It is unusual for me to have that kind of success with my computer.


Here it is as written then.






25 Sept 18


What a news day this has been…and it is only 10:30 am PST.


trump scoffed by world leaders at UN ♦Stephen Miller outed ♦


So, I slept in this morning.  By accident.  ‘Till 10am.  PST.  I didn’t have anything to do or places to go.  My three dogs just failed to wake me.  Bad dogs!


So, after various ablutions, I poured a cuppa and sat in front of my computer with the TV tuned to my regular morning news show circuit of CNN, Fox, MSNBC.  I watch Fox for a variety of reasons.


They had me at CNN!  The very first item I saw was a film clip of trump giving a speech at the annual meeting of world leaders and diplomats at a General Meeting of the United Nations.


Many of you know that the person I detest most in the trump administration, even more than the POTUS himself, is a scurrilous, smegma-filled weasel named Stephen Miller, once voted the most disliked kid in his senior class by his classmates, Class of 2003 at Santa Monica High School.  


Prematurely bald by the age of 29, Miller looks very much like the head of an uncircumcised penis peeking out from its turtleneck sweater.


When he ran for student body president before his senior year, he was audibly hissed when he introduced himself to the gathered 4000 students, complained (as part of his speech) that students shouldn’t be harassed into picking up their own trash because the school employed janitors who were paid good money to do that job. 


Miller had to be escorted off the stage because he wouldn’t leave on his own while being loudly booed by the 4000.


THAT Stephen Miller!


Now, the smarmy pus-stain has been trump’s chief foreign policy adviser and he is the architect of trump’s immigration policy, including separating children from their parents at the border.  EVERY bad immigration idea that trump has spewed started with Stephen Miller.


And let’s not forget Miller’s work with Steve Bannon on the Muslim travel ban.  Yep, that was Miller-time.  But, where Miller really exposed himself was his infamous quote after a judge struck down trump’s travel ban.  On national television, he startled a nation by saying,:


“Our opponents, the media and the whole world, will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”


He came to trump’s attention because he had worked for that wacko conservative House member out of Minnesota, Michele Bachmann and later as Communications Director for Senator Jeffrey Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions.  Now, the Attorney General.


But today, he may have gained more suspicion from trump than even a racist low-life like Miller can withstand.


Why?  Because Stephen Miller, Samohi ’03, is the speechwriter who wrote the speech that got trump openly laughed at by the rest of the leaders of the world.


He was outed on CNN TV, by name, as the trump speechwriter for the UN General Assembly meeting.


I nearly jumped out of my teddy in delight!


 Miller wrote in some sections that have played very well with trump’s baseless Deplorables.


Miller, 33, was ignorant about how this would play with world-wise, sophisticated world leaders and diplomats in the United Nation’s General Assembly who actually know what is going on in the whole world, not just inhabitants in the parochial locales of Spruce Knob, West Virginia or Intercourse, Pennsylvania.


Let me be very clear here.  When I refer to trump’s “deplorables,” I’m not referring to all people who voted for trump.   Only about 25-30% of them. 


You know, the trump supporters who go trump stump speech rallies and fight to get into the stands immediately behind trump in order to brandish pro-trump signs provided them by trump rally organizers for the cameras.  The one’s who still mindlessly support him despite his fecklessness and his foreign policy incompetence.  Herein after, Deplorables. 


I thought it unwise when Clinton coined it because it painted too many otherwise good conservatives with a broad brush.  Her bad.  But after over a year-and-a-half of watching trump’s disgraceful job and personal performance, there’s no excuse for mindless loyalty to him.  Well, yes there is an excuse:  they are mindless.


As of 3:00 pm today, 25 September 18, the news channels are reporting that trump “is furious” at the laughter that broke out during his speech with its ridiculous claims.


Can Stephen Miller survive that?  Well, I’m told that cockroaches would survive in a nuclear holocaust.  I’ll gleefully join the death watch.  The death spiral to stupidity.


That’s where I ended that day, intending to pick it up later.  I didn’t, but I’ll end there today as well.



Sodden Thoughts Blog

RIP California GOP, 1850- 2018

I grew up in Southern California.  In the San Fernando Valley when it was more orange groves than suburban housing tracts.  Sweet.


Oh, and in a staunch Republican household.


I introduced myself to politics in 1960.  I watched the political conventions, the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and stayed up all night watching the election returns.  I was ten years old.


When John Kennedy won, I knew the nuns at school would be happy.  Kennedy was, you see, a Catholic.  But my dad was an ardent Nixon supporter.  Dad was a self-described “rock-ribbed Republican.”  He was also a fervent Catholic.  He didn’t mix Church and State apparently.


I was conflicted.  Not because of religion or even political affiliation and philosophies of the candidates.  I was conflicted because my dad was vigorously persuasive about why Richard Nixon should be President.  But I, having watched all four debates, found there was just something I didn’t like about Nixon.  Nevertheless, Nixon won the state’s Electoral votes.


I was a Republican until I reached the age of reason.


I had read the sacred Republican religious tracts:  A Choice, Not an Echo by Phyllis Schlafly, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater, and whatever the Catholic version of The Bible is called.  Both the Old and New Testaments.  I liked the Old Testament better.  It was racier.  Lots of violence and begatting.


I campaigned door-to-door for Barry Goldwater in 1964.  All this by the age of fourteen.  I was politically precocious…and naive.


In retrospect, I realize I reached the age of reason on election night, 1964, when I found myself rooting (inwardly) for Lyndon Johnson.  I was secretly happy that LBJ won.  I didn’t dare tell my dad.  See?  I was precociously smart, too.


In California, the Republican Party was king throughout my childhood and well into my adult years.  And the beating heart of the Grand Old Party was Orange County, CA. Home of John Wayne and “B-1 Bob” Dornan.


In any statewide election, I knew that I had to ignore the early leads Democrats put on the board and wait until the Orange County vote had been tallied.


On November 6, 2018, the Tell-Tale Heart of the Republican Party in California went into cardiac arrest.  There were seven Congressional seats in Orange County up for election.  On November 16, all seven were announced as a Democratic Party sweep.


Of the 55 Congressional seats California is allotted, 53 in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, only eight House seats are held by Republicans and one of those may still be in doubt.  All eight are on life support wearing a a Do Not Resuscitate toe tag.


How could this happen?  What could have caused the demise of the once-vaunted, imperious Republican Party in California?


I am here to suggest an answer to this question.


But first, a little historical perspective is necessary.


In my lifetime, 1950-present, only one Democrat Presidential candidate has won the California electoral votes in the ten (10) Presidential elections from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first election in 1952 until Bill Clinton took the state in 1992.  The Republican Presidential candidate took California in nine of ten elections over the course of 66 years.


Republican strength in the state was primarily powered by Orange County voters.


The only Democrat to win the state during those years was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, running against Barry Goldwater who was seen by many as too hawkish, too extreme in the opening years of the Vietnam entanglement.


A Republican Presidential candidate has not won California since Bill Clinton’s first Presidential run in 1992.


But Big Red’s run in California is deeper than that.


Since 1900, California had had 19 different governors for varying lengths of terms.


Only five governors have been Democrats, three of them Browns: Edmund G. (Pat) and Jerry (twice).


Of the two remaining Dem governors, one was recalled before the end of his first term, Gray Davis.


In the 118 years since 1900, inclusive, Democrats have held the governorship for only 31 years. That’s 87 years of Republican Governorship rule.


Why is this germane?  Important?


It’s important because the Governor has veto powers over all legislation passed by the State Assembly and the State Senate.  It takes a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote by both chambers of the state legislature to override the Governor’s veto.


That is a very high standard to clear unless you have a supermajority in both the State Assembly and the State Senate.


 When one Party has what’s referred to as a “super majority,” i.e., an elected 2/3rds majority of the same political party in both the Senate and the Assembly at the same time, it is said to be “veto proof.”  Meaning, it doesn’t matter who the governor is, what Party he’s from, or what he vetoes, the legislature can override the Governor’s veto(s) and enact the legislation it has passed, anyway.


Only one California Governor has faced a veto proof legislature.  Jerry Brown was the Governor.  He faced a veto proof legislature in his first stint as Governor in the ’70s, and another in his second stint as Governor these past eight years.


During his first two terms that the Dems had a veto-proof majority in both chambers, they overrode the Democrat Brown’s veto three times.  Twice on pay increases for public employees and once on vetoed death penalty legislation.  The early Jerry Brown was clearly not a profligate spendthrift.


In the last eight years, Brown’s second term as Governor, the super majority Dems have not overridden any of Brown’s vetoes, which have been plentiful.


It is indisputable that Democrats have had Assembly and Senate majorities in California for most of the last fifty years.   But few super majorities.


Ronald Reagan had Republican majorities in both chambers part of his eight years a Governor.   Not super majorities.


But the Republicans have had only one majority and in only one chamber since Reagan in the ’60s.


It was Republican Senate majority in 1996.  It was a slim majority, 40-39, with one seat open.  However, even with a majority, the Republican Senate majority could not elect the Speaker of the Assembly it most wanted.


Outgoing Speaker, wily Willie Brown, the longest serving Speaker of the Assembly in California ever at 15 years, engineered one last coup over the powerful Republicans.


He picked off a Republican turned Independent Senator, Paul Horcher, and got him to run for Speaker.  Horcher did and won due to solid Democrat support.


Horcher was promptly recalled by his voters and ousted from the Assembly.


The path was now clear for the Republicans to elect Jim Brulte as Speaker.


He was the overwhelming favorite of the Republican caucus in the Assembly. Except….except for Willie Brown.


Brown, knowing that Assembly member, Republican Doris Allen, was unhappy with the support her own party had given her in her special election campaign for a State Senate seat, convinced her to run for Assembly Speaker against Brulte.


Willie Brown then convinced all 39 Democrats in the Assembly to vote for Doris Allen. She voted for herself.  That made Doris Allen the very first female Speaker of the Assembly from either party.  The 40 votes were enough to give Allen the Speakership and the undying enmity of virtually all other Republicans.


The backlash by her fellow Republicans was brutal and there was a clear strain of misogyny running through it, with one Republican male, Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), suggesting that she go get her hair done before dabbling in male politics.


Doris Allen was promptly recalled and she handed off the gavel to one of her few loyal supporters, Brian Setencich.


Willie Brown had outsmarted, outmaneuvered the Republicans once again.


This maneuver led to my favorite Paul Conrad cartoon of all time.


It features Willie Brown in a safari hunter outfit and helmet.  He is in a trophy pose, standing with his long rifle perpendicular to the ground and one leg perched upon a prone dead elephant.


He has a wide, triumphant smile on his face.  The words in the caption beneath the elephant were Brown’s own when he was asked by the press how he had managed to pull off his upset of Brulte.


Willie said, ” “Those white boys got taken, fair and square.”  Racist phrasing, yes.  But no more racist than the Republican-sponsored Term Limits initiative that had targeted Willie Brown in 1990 and was forcing him out of the State Assembly in 1996.


Willie Brown’s racial reference is important to understand within the context of the decline and death of the Republican Party in California in 2018.  Optics of both racism and sexism.


The Republicans mercilessly hounded Doris Allen, the first female Speaker of the California Assembly, out of office.  Women’s groups around the state, even Republican women’s groups, howled.


Willie Brown, African-American, was hated by Republicans everywhere.  Willie outfoxed them and out maneuvered them at every turn.  He was much smarter individually than they were collectively.  He had true power.  It was largely because of Willie Brown that Republicans around the state sponsored the Term Limits Initiative in 1990.


Many people in the state felt that there was a racial component to the Republican fervor for term limits, especially as regards the politicians elected from around the Los Angeles basin.  In truth, there was.


 Misogyny prevailed.  Racism prevailed.  Term Limits passed.


It was the only way the Republicans could force Willie Brown from office and the Speakership he had held for 15 years.  And the power he had built up.


Due to the new Republican-sponsored Term Limits law, 1995 was to be Willie’s last year in the Assembly anyway. Shortly after Doris Allen was elected Speaker, Willie Brown resigned from the Assembly and ran for mayor of San Francisco.


Let’s not forget to put this in to the larger context of our national politics.


The so-called Republican Revolution of 1994, led by Newt Gingrich, was in full sway.


Rabid right-wing radio talk show hosts proliferated.  Hordes of right-wing politicians stormed the Bastille that was Washington D. C., wielding the “Contract with America” they had signed like a shield against having to compromise on any issues because they’d signed onto Newt’s nuggets.


Anti-intellectualism and science-denying held forth.  Anti-stem cell research, persecuting Bill Clinton at great expense, excoriating Hillary Clinton, and conjuring up conspiracy theories became the Republicans’ mete.


I would urge you to read Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction in 1964.  The anti-intellectualism of the Republicans in 1994, continuing through to today, is not a new phenomenon in American history.  Tellingly. Hofstadter wrote a sequel to  his book in 2014, America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism.  Hofstadter wrote his sequel in response to the rise of the Tea Party within our current Republican Party.  In 1963, he wrote his Pulitzer Prize winner about that era’s Republican Party and how it mocked Adlai Stevenson in the Presidential election of 1956 for being an “egghead.”  His simple thesis is that The Republican Party then, as now, appeals to its members on the basis of a “lowest common denominator criterion.”


At any rate, the Republicans of 1994 had little interest in compromising on legislation, much less implementing that which was passed.  They were bitter, angry white men appealing to little-educated, angry white men.


This so-called “Republican Revolution” was the linchpin of the bitter political partisanship that plagues us, nationally, today.


By 1996, the national scene of aggressive Republican politicians had emboldened California’s Republican pols and they mimicked the barbarians at the national gates.  But that, increasingly, didn’t sit well with most Californians.


The California Republicans’ mistake was they forgot who their audience was.


They forgot where the lifeblood of their Party lay.


Orange County.


Further, the conservative land barons of California’s Central Valley were incapable of seeing that what played well in Bakersfield, Tulare, or the Sierra foothills didn’t necessarily play well in Orange County or with other Republican suburbanites around the State.


Orange County has more voting power than the C-Valleyites and hill people combined.


Orange County is heavily suburban, educated, and reasonably well off financially.


Except for certain small pockets of the state, most Californians, Dem and Reep alike, are more genteel, better educated, and better paid than residents in the hinterlands of Alabama, Mississippi, Idaho, Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Wyoming, Alaska, and so on.


In short, most rational California voters don’t respond well to the politics of fear and divisiveness for long, but that’s the course California Republicans chose to emulate.


And that’s when it began its Bataan-like death march.


The Republican  Party in California didn’t implode so much as it slowly disintegrated.


 I liken it to a Union strike against an overbearing employer.  For the first few days, the workers are energized and enthusiastic.  But the longer the strike lasts, tedium sets in and then it becomes odious trudging the picket line.


That’s what has happened to the Republican Party in California.  Jubilant in 1994 at the national election results.  Energized still in 1996 when the California elections rolled around.  Then tedium and ennui slowly settled in due to their diminishing power within the state.

The California Republican Party began to erode the faith and belief its constituents had in it through the series of Initiatives it sponsored from the 1970s to the present day.


We will review them a little later in this thesis.


Ironically, it was a Republican governor, Hiram Johnson, an ardent anti-Asian immigration legislator as Governor and later as U. S. Senator, who sowed the seeds of the present-day Republican’s death spiral.


Hiram was elected California Governor as a Republican but later helped found the Progressive party so he could run for Vice President as the running mate of Teddy Roosevelt on the unsuccessful Bull Moose Party ticket.


Johnson’s contribution to the Republican Party’s demise was not because of his anti-immigration stances; those merely set the model for modern Republicans.  He was also an ardent isolationist, a la Resident Rump.


Rather, it was because he introduced the recall, referendum, and initiative processes to California in 1911.    He also pioneered the Direct Election of Senators by the state’s citizenry. Heretofore, Senators had been elected by the State Legislature.  Two years before the the 17th Amendment was ratified by the states and that matched what California had already done.


These unprecedented democracy reforms were unmatched anywhere in the country.


Johnson didn’t mean to kill his modern-day Republican Party, he only enabled it to commit seppuku (again, ironic given his anti-Japanese stances).


Today’s Republican death knell is entirely self-inflicted.


Why?  How?


Because Republicans could not exercise impulse control over the worst impulses of their base.  Nor could they control their own basest impulses when using the three direct democracy reforms Johnson introduced to California.


The Republican Party of California chose the Initiative process to wrangle by popular vote that which it could not get through the Democrat Party majority in the Legislature.




The course the California GOP chose to use through these processes was to divide the California populace against itself.  Fear and loathing in California.


Whether purposeful or inadvertent, they used fear, prejudice, racism, and hate to incite their voter base.  To rouse them into action.


Besides, fear and hate motivated a good part of the Republicans’ growing base in the state to vote: the less educated and less well off in the poorer or more rural parts of the state.


What the Republican Party failed to see was that many of its policies were beginning to turn off its more sophisticated constituents in suburban Orange County and other suburban areas around the state.


Most importantly, the GOP failed to note Orange County’s changing demographics.  More Latino voters. More younger voters. And, very importantly, the GOP’s educational policies with regards to school funding, teacher tenure, Unions, immigrants, and teacher political action were turning Republican teachers against it.


And all surveys show that Californians like their school district’s and their children’s public school teachers.  They may think that teachers in other large, urban school districts are poor or incompetent, but they love their own.  And teachers and parents talk with each other.


The dirty little secret of California’s public school teachers, Union members or not, is that fully 40% of them are registered Republicans and many more Decline to State a party preference.  But they are educated, middle class or better, have empathy for the downtrodden, poor, and disabled, and there are a lot of them.  They are caring.  That’s the main reason they went into teaching.


California’s two major teacher Unions may primarily endorse or recommend Democrat candidates, but that’s mainly due to the dearth of good ideas about education or children’s welfare from Republican candidates or Republican supported Initiatives.


From a teacher’s point of view, most “reforms” promulgated by Republican politicians are punitive or clear impediments as regards children’s learning.


Moreover, Republican Propositions affecting teachers’ welfare or working conditions are always seen as punitive or negative because, in fact, they have been.


Some 350,000 public school teachers are in the state of California.


And they care more about policies that hurt their students, especially inadequate funding, than policies that hurt themselves.


It’s not so much that teachers are high propensity voters.  They are.


But that they have great staffing numbers and purely voluntary participation when it comes to phone banking, canvassing neighborhoods, leafletting shopping centers, speaking at school board meetings, and voluntarily donating political contributions to oppose or promote candidates or issues affecting education.  Teachers tend to be garrulous and articulate.


The money is important, yes, but the sheer numbers of teachers and paraprofessionals in political campaigning make them the force to be reckoned with in California politics.


It’s why Dan Walters, in his plethora of columns that criticize teachers and teacher Unions, refers to the “”Powerful CTA” or PCTA.


He did that so much through the 1990s and 2000s that many thought the word Powerful was a formal part of CTA’s title.


But he blamed their power on the amount of political contributions paid to candidates by the teacher Union.


Walters is mostly wrong.


Almost all of the incumbent candidates recommended by the Powerful CTA would be re-elected without PCTA monetary campaign donations.  And the Dem politicians know it.


What all politicians fear are dozens or hundreds of teachers and paraprofessionals actively campaigning against them in their own Districts.  Thousands in a statewide office election.


So, how did the Republican Party alienate its long-standing Republican constituents in the State of California?


Through the initiative, referendum, and recall processes.  Let’s look at how Republican/Conservative use of these democracy reforms incited culture wars among Californians and which eventually eroded the support of its rational constituents.  Not overnight.  But little by little.  The water drip torture.


Below are the significant Ballot measures/ laws Californians have faced since 1972.


Keep in mind that a Ballot measure need not pass or fail to arouse voter fervor and antipathy toward others.


The battle itself leaves a scar.


Also keep in mind that June ballot propositions tend to favor Republican causes due to low voter turnout overall but a high propensity to vote by conservatives.




1972–July— State of California takes over as primary funder of public school districts due, primarily, to a Court decision in Serrano v Priest ruling that the main school           funding system of school districts led to unconstitutional disparities, violating the equal protection clause of the State Constitution.  Previously, budgets for school districts were solely decided by local school boards and funded by property taxes of district property owners.  In 1972, California ranked 6th in funding per pupil in the nation.


1972–Nov.–Death Penalty passed.  It re-enacted the death penalty after the Supreme       Court ruled it unconstitutional.  Pits Liberals v Conservatives.  A moral culture war ensues between the Law and Order types and conscientious objectors who think that if people do not have the right to kill anyone, then the state should not have the right to kill anyone.  Primarily conservative-favored issue.


1978–June–Prop 13 passed.  Property tax limitation.  Iconic today.  Would eventually ruin state finances, especially public education funding.  Pitted those who favor funding public services for poor or disabled against those who believe such welfare leads to becoming a Socialist state and increased taxes.  At the time it was a bipartisan issue.  At that time, California Public School districts were still among highest funded per pupil in the nation.


1978–Nov.–Would ban homosexual school employees from employment in public schools.  Failed.  This Culture war in California ensues for next five decades with respect to AIDS funding, gay marriage, LGBTQ civil rights.  Conservative-favored issue in 1978.  Religious- Right favored Initiative in later California elections.




1982–March 15–Wide-scale teacher layoff notices sent.  Wholesale school paraprofessionals given 45 day termination notice.   Public libraries reduce days and hours.  Park maintenance curbed.  Layoff of many other public employees.  Public golf courses increase fees.  The aftermath of Proposition 13.


1982–June–Prop 8 Criminal Justice.  Victims Bill of Rights.  Passed.  A major step in enacting tougher crime laws and penalties.  Almost all crime laws seen as having an increased racial tinge, targeting African-American and Latino youth, gang members or not.  Prop. 8 mostly a Bipartisan issue.


1982–Nov.— Handgun registration Initiative failed.  Pits those who believe gun owners  should have the unfettered right to own guns against those who believe the state has the right to enact reasonable gun regulations.  Conservative opposed issue.  NRA funded opposition.


1984–Nov.--Voting materials in English only passed.  Minority voter suppression alleged.  Conservative-favored issue.  Racial issue.


1986–Nov.–English official state language passed.  Conservative-issue.  Racial issue.


1986–Nov.–AIDS initiative failed. Would restore AIDS syndrome to communicable             diseases list. Led by Lyndon LaRouche. Would lead to quarantine and job removal             of suspected AIDS victims. Mandatory testing.  Harassment of voters by paid signature     gatherers for the Proposition. Re-introduced in 1988. Failed again.  Continuing culture war issue.  Conservative and Religious Right favored issue.


1987–July--Public school funding per pupil falls to 35th in nation.  Pre-Proposition 13, school funding per pupil was 6th in the nation.  Aftermath of Proposition 13.




1990–Nov.–Term Limits passed, aka the Get Rid of Willie Brown Act.  Republican and conservative-favored issue.  Racial issue.  GOP state Legislature power issue.


1992–Nov.–Congressional Term Limits passed. Later ruled Unconstitutional.  Republican favored issue.  Attempt to limit long term, re-elected House members who were mostly Democrats.  The US Constitution cannot be amended by an individual state.  Silly and wasteful Proposition.


1992–Nov.--Basic Health Care Coverage failed.  Regarded as leading to Socialism by conservatives.  Scare issue.  Conservative opposed issue.  Opposition-funded special interest issue.


1992–July–Another major California budget crisis.  Further aftermath of Proposition 13 in 1979.  Health insurance rates skyrocket.  Most public employees and public school district employees in California receive no pay increase for next five fiscal years.  Health insurance rates increase dramatically each of the five years.  Public school district funding per pupil falls to 47th in the nation.


1993–March 15–Thousands of teachers and paraprofessionals given layoff or termination notices by the statutory deadline date (for certificated personnel).


1993–Nov.–Prop 174 School Vouchers failed.  Would provide taxpayer dollars for private and religious schools.  First school voucher attempt.  Would drain funding from already underfunded public school districts.  Privatization v free Public Education advocates. Suburban and rural populations v urban residents.  Inner city v. exurbs. White v. Black and Brown.  Private Profit interests v full public school funding.  Reaction to desegregation order requiring school busing to implement.  Conservative favored issue.


1994–Nov.–California Proposition 187 (also known as the Save Our State ([SOS]                 Initiative) was a 1994 ballot initiative to establish a state-run citizenship screening system and prohibit illegal immigrants from using non-emergency health care, public        education, and other services in the State of California.  Would have required public school teachers to be the primary whistle-blowers on their students.


The “Republican Revolution” unfolds nationally.


The true beginning of the end of the California GOP.


Prop 187 strongly backed by Republican governor.  Conservative-favored issue.  White v unauthorized Mexican immigrant issue.  Conservative v Latino issue.


Inflamed almost all public school teachers.  Racial issue.  Liberal v Conservative issue. Fear issue.


1996–Nov.–Says California must ban Affirmative Action in hiring for public jobs, applying for admission to public education institutions, or in the State contracting out work.  It passed.  Conservative-favored issue.  Racial issue.


1998–June–Political contributions by Union Members failed.  Targets Union influence, largely pro-Democrat, in election process.  Specifically aimed at teacher unions and the California Teachers Association.  Inflames almost all teachers, mobilizing them into action.


1998–June--English only language spoken in Public Schools passed.  Conservative-favored issue.  Racial issue.  Fear issue.  Teacher opposed issue.




2000–June–None of the Above Ballot Option failed.  Angry, mostly Conservative-favored issue.  A reaction to diminishing Republican power in State Legislature.  In retrospect, Republicans lucky issue failed.  Most who would choose None of the Above option would be angry Republican voters.  Tea Party acolytes.  Democrat candidates would have benefited.  My opinion.


2000–Nov.–School Vouchers for state-funded Private and Religious Education failed.  Teachers angered and energized once again.


2003–October–Governor recall election. Gray Davis ousted for allowing reinstatement of the temporarily suspended Vehicle License Fee as mandated by law.   Arnold Schwarzenegger elected to replace Davis.  The most unqualified person ever elected Governor of California.  Republican-favored issue.  Election of Schwarzenegger a beauty contest.


2005–Nov.–All eight ballot initiatives failed, among them such divisive issues as parental notification and waiting period for teen minor’s pregnancy; increasing                                 probationary period for public school teachers; require public employees signed consent annually for political use of Union dues; alters school funding formula, eroding the state’s Constitutional obligation to fund the Prop. 98 minimum funding guarantee; taking decennial redistricting out of the hands of the legislature.  Anti-teacher issue, anti-union issue, anti-public school funding issue, anti-Democrat control of legislature issue. All conservative-favored issues.  Parental notification of teen pregnancy primarily a religious right issue.


2006–Nov.—2nd attempt at Parental notification of teen pregnancy failed.  See above.  More culture wars favored by conservatives.  Religious issue.


2008–Nov.--3rd attempt of Parental notification of teen pregnancy.  See above.  Conservative-favored issue.  Religious issue.


2008–Nov.–Proposition 8: Attempt to only recognize marriage between a man and a woman as valid in California.  Failed.  Culture war.  Liberal v Conservative.  Religious Right issue. Conservative-favored issue.


2008–Nov.–Redistricting “reform” narrowly passes 50.8% to 49.2%. Republican                 sponsored. All Republican-strong counties vote for it. Democrat-strong counties                   vote it down.  Another attempt by Republicans to wrangle more power in the State Legislature than they can get by the ballot box.


2009–March–State Budget woes.  Thousands of teachers given layoff notices.  Paraprofessionals given termination notices effective at the close of the school year.


2009–May--Three more Propositions attacking state and school funding fail.  Seen as anti-teacher union, anti-public education, and budget issue due to slumped economy.  Budget issues due to implosion of state budget exacerbated by Proposition 13 in 1979.




2010–June–“Top Two” Open Primaries Proposition passed. Sponsored by Republicans.   Now they decry it.  Stated reason for Initiative was to give voters at least one moderate candidate to vote for in every legislative election rather than a perceived extreme partisan candidate from each major party in every legislative election.  Applied to all state and national elected offices.  Did not meet expectations of Republicans because, in many cases, two Democrats would make the final ballot to be voted on and no Republican candidate.


2010–Nov.–Allowed State Budget to be passed by a simple majority, not previous 2/3rds.  Democrat favored issue.


Did not affect 2/3rds requirement to pass new or raise taxes by the legislature.


Republicans thought they would still control the purse strings for all funding requiring a tax increase.


At the beginning of this new (2019) legislative term, Republicans will no longer have the ability to deny, modify, negotiate, or hold hostage tax increases if the Dems won’t let them.


Both chambers of the legislature have Dem supermajorities and it remains to be seen if Gavin Newsom can, or is willing, to control the legislative Dems as effectively as Jerry Brown did the two times he faced supermajorities of Dems in his last two terms.


2011–Oct.–State law signed, not ballot initiative, stating all future ballot propositions       had to be held in Nov. Open Election, not June Primary Election.


As mentioned above, this will favor Democrat and liberal groups on Initiatives they oppose or favor.  Larger voter turnouts in November, especially in Presidential election years, tend to trend toward Democrats because there are so many more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in this state.


2012–July--California per pupil spending remains mired in 47th place.  It remains, as it has since 1992, dead last among all states in providing certificated librarians, certificated counselors, and certificated nurses for its students.  California also has the highest class size for public school teachers in the nation.  All wrought by the aftermath of Proposition 13 in 1979.


2012–Nov.–Yet another attempt to prohibit Union payroll deductions for political               contributions, candidates or issues.


The one thing that can be said about bad Conservative ideas that get voted down is that , like a bad penny, they will always turn up again, time after time.  Examples:  Gay civil rights.  English only.  School vouchers. Anti-Union measures.  Anti-teacher job security.  And on and on and on.  Sad.


2016–Nov.–Repealed most of the earlier state Proposition mandating English only in         public school classrooms.  Teachers and Liberals favored repealing of this state Constitutional provision which had been in effect since 1998 Initiative.


2018–Nov.–Proposition to divide California into 3 states is pulled from the ballot by State Supreme Court pending further legal review. It would be subject to US                                   Congressional approval.


It’s an attempt to create one Republican state for Congressional representation. Not likely since it would likely create two Democrat states as well.  Conservative areas of the state have been promoting this since they elect mostly Republicans and feel that those they elect to the state legislature are not listened to and have no power in the state legislature.


(N.B., I did not list all the law and order propositions that have appeared over the last nearly 50 years.  Just be advised that they became more Draconian and inflexible, and mostly targeted inner city youth.  They all passed.   I also did not list all the tax propositions that would have further choked off state revenues, further exacerbating the State’s inability to fund services for state residents or necessitate cuts in funding for current programs. Almost all were defeated, including one this past November 6.  One that passed, disguised as a gasoline tax to relieve traffic congestion, Proposition 111, had a formula to reduce the minimum funding level guaranteed for school districts by Proposition 98.)


So, what are we to conclude by all this data?


It can be likened to the different policies the colonizing countries had when they colonized the New World.


The English chose exclusion and extermination.  The Spanish and Portuguese chose acculturation.


The California GOP emulated the English.  Exclusion and ejection.


The California GOP decided its enemies were:


  1. Latino immigrants (legal or not);
  2. non-English speakers;
  3. Public employees;
  4. Public employee Unions;
  5. pensions earned by public employees and teachers;
  6. gays who wanted the same civil rights as all other citizens;
  7. people who receive welfare or other public benefits because they were poor or disabled;
  8. Liberals;
  9. Democrats;
  10. majority rule;
  11. Public schools;
  12. all tax or fee increases, regardless of merit;
  13. Proposition 98 and school funding;
  14. Affirmative Action
  15. Women’s right to choose;
  16. defined benefit retirement plans
  17. Environmentalists;
  18. Death penalty abolitionists;
  19. Science and climate change believers
  20. Jerry Brown
  21. Willie Brown (no relation);
  22. Intellectualism;
  23. Changing demographics of California


Now, that’s an Enemies List of which Richard Nixon would be proud.


If you go back and peruse the list of Initiatives and the Enemies List of California conservatives and their acolytes, the Republican Party, some conclusions are inescapable.


Since 1970, the Democratic Party and Liberals in general, have been the Party which has supported Initiatives that were positive, people and child centered, and environment friendly.  The Party of optimism and, yes, Hope.  The Party that elected over one hundred women to Congress nationally and has women in very powerful positions therein.  Cf. Nancy Pelosi.


During that same period, the Republican Party has supported tax Initiatives sought to reduce or eliminate State revenue, crippling the State’s ability to fund or expand people-oriented services; pushed for more stringent criminal laws that would mostly apply to crimes committed by inner city youth; eliminate vital women’s rights; push a Religious Right social agenda; promote business interests at the expense of workers’ retirement security and public education funding (401K retirement pensions replacing defined benefit retirement plans;  vouchers to subsidize private  or religious schools or sponsoring for-profit charter schools), and try to push Latino laborers and their families out of California.


Since 1970, the Republican Party has been the Party of pessimism about the future, negativism, anti-intellectualism, fiscal calamity, impending doom and gloom, and fear.  They have become Agnew’s “nattering nabobs of negativism.”


It’s easy to see which Party would appear more appealing, over time, to college-educated, comfortably well off, suburbanites.


 Like in Orange County, California.


Support for Republican/Conservative issues and the candidates who promulgated them, slowly eroded over a 30-year period.


But human nature grows tired of long term negativity.


Moreover, Orange County is still a Republican stronghold…locally.  All five current elected Orange County Supervisor seats are held by Republicans.  Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in Orange County in the 2016 elections against Donald Trump, the first Democrat Presidential candidate since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 to do so.


That should have been a harbinger of impending political apostasy by usually dependable Republican and Decline to State voters, for the Republican Party both in California and nationally.


But the GOP didn’t see it coming.


It found out on November 6, 2018, both statewide and nationally.


The “Blue Wave,” described by television commentators as turning out to be only a ripple on election night, turned into a tsunami a week later as all the votes were tallied around the country, especially in California as a whole and in Orange County in particular.


The drip by drip water torture resulting in the slow erosion of faith in Republican candidates by their usual supporters from 1996 through 2016 turned into a water boarding in November 2018 their supporters could not withstand.  The total collapse of the Republican Party in Orange County was sudden, unexpected, and complete.

And you can’t live when your heart stops beating.

But why now?  Why not a more gradual, continuing erosion?  Orange County is critical to the survival of the Republican Party in statewide politics.  All efforts to prolong its vitality should have been made by the State and National Republican organizations.


But, I would submit, it would not have made any difference.  For three reasons.


  1. The faith of Republican Party adherents had been severely weakened by national and state Reep Parties overreaching into social and cultural issues over the course of 22 years.  They got taken out of their comfort zone.
  1. The Trump Factor. His conduct in office over the last (nearly) two years has been so embarrassing, it’s difficult for all but the most ardent Deplorables to continue to believe in him, much less support him.


But the last month before the midterm elections, Trump’s histrionics sealed the deal for many Orange County Republicans.  Caravans, a thousand miles away, an imminent threat?  Five thousand army troops sent, immediately, to guard the border against an a slow moving “invasion” of mostly women and children seeking asylum in the U. S. in accordance with our own country’s laws?


They couldn’t look into the mirror without asking themselves, “Is this the Party in which my father, my father’s father, and my great grandfather believed?  I can’t support any local politician who has supported, and continues to blindly support, this buffoon.”


And they didn’t.


Educated suburbanite women and many educated, suburbanite men dropped Trump like a hot KFC drumstick.


They either didn’t vote or voted Libertarian.


Increased voter participation by new voters and minority voters helped dump the Orange County incumbent and non-incumbent Republican candidates for the House of Representatives.


This conjecture for  the role the Trump Factor played in the Dems winning House members, Senators, Governors and over a thousand state legislator seats around the country has been stated widely so it’s probably not new to you.


But, my last reason is not old to you or anyone else.  You heard it here first.  And maybe solely.


  1. Jerry Brown Governor, Toni Atkins, President Pro Tem of the California State Senate, Kevin DeLeón, former President Pro Tem of the California State Senate, and Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the California State Assembly.  Brown’s success as Governor has been complete.  But it would have been very difficult without the cooperation and inclusion of the three most powerful, reasonable Democrat leaders in the State Legislature.


Jerry Brown’s last two terms and his ability to control Democrat majorities, especially Democrat supermajorities, has calmed Republican fears of unbridled tax increases, profligate spending by the legislature, and impending state bankruptcy feared by one party rule.


For eight years the State has had State Budget peace.  No late budgets.  No bitter epithets hurled by each side at the other.  No state IOU’s to workers expecting paychecks, no state vendors getting stiffed.  No State worker furloughs.


Let’s call it the Pax Democrita.


While realistic state balanced budgets were passed on time, the nearly bankrupt State of California recovered from the brink of its financial abyss under Arnold Schwarzenegger, spent within its means, and built a very tidy surplus to fund unexpected, unbudgeted, contingencies or to soften the blow of the next national economic downturn.


Brown was able, with the help of DeLeón, Atkins, and Rendon, to get the citizens of California to pass one tax increase that helped with the State’s economic recovery.  It was to expire next January but the voters, who approved that tax increase, gladly extended the tax indefinitely this past November 6, 2018.


Many Republicans’ fears were assuaged by the State’s economic recovery and the relative political harmony therein.


“Maybe,” many thought, “one-Party rule is not so bad if it’s properly led.”


It was clear to many that one-Party rule at the national level was not working for anyone except corporations and the Trump business interests.


Maybe we need a check on the unbridled excesses of this runaway, embarrassing President who thinks he’s above the law and thinks he received a mandate to govern unilaterally and imperiously.


A President who insults our traditional allies and gives succor to some of our long-time enemies and other countries being ruled by unfathomable despots.  North Korea.  Russia.  Saudi Arabia.


A President who has stripped the United States of the moral authority in the world it has held since the 1950s by condoning the killing of a journalist, an American resident with two children who were born American citizens and are still American citizens, for filthy lucre under the fatuous guise of America First.


“Maybe we need to elect more Democrats to Congress to check this guy.”


And Orange County voters stunned the nation and did just that.  The large influx of first time legal Latino voters and young voters greatly aided that accomplishment.


How do you think the current California governance model would play out at the National level?


It couldn’t get any worse in D. C. than it is now and was for the last six years of President Obama’s legitimate Presidency when Republicans controlled both the Senate and the house of Representatives?


It hasn’t gotten any better with a Republican President added to the two Republican legislative houses.  A complete sweep of all elected offices.


Theoretically, Republicans were given untrammeled power to do as they wished.


But they forgot the monster they created through their extremism.


The more extreme Republican representatives elected by the so-called Tea Party.  The Freedom Caucus within the national Republican Party.


In the last two years, they have become the Congressional Democrats best allies, refusing to sign onto moderate Republican healthcare and budget bills until the bills suited their more extreme ideas.


Maybe one-Party rule is not meant for angry white men and a sprinkling of angry white women.


Perhaps the Republican Party in California should consider the words of the Bard of Avon in his play Julius Caesar.  Cassius speaking with Brutus: (my paraphrasing)


“The fault, dear GOP, lies not in your stars

 But in yourselves, that you are underlings.”

                                                                              (Act I, Scene III).

Sodden Thoughts Blog

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies


There are two key issues before us from the Dr. Ford-Hon. Kavanaugh hearing of last Thursday, 27 Sept. 18.  (Notice my equal use of abbreviations of the honorifics for each)


  1. “Did Judge Kavanaugh, more likely than not, commit sexual assault on Doctor Ford?”


  1.  “Can the Honorable Judge Kavanaugh be non-partisan in deciding the types of cases that will come to him as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court?”


Neither one of these questions requires trial level “beyond a reasonable doubt” proof.


All they require is “a preponderance of the evidence” level of proof testified to by the principals, or others, through the prism of credibility.


First, I think, judging from his wild rant about the liberals on the Dems being motivated by a hatred of trump and that his “persecution” by them being “…the revenge of the Clinton’s…,” it is likely that, in many cases, Kavanaugh cannot be ‘non-partisan.”


This particular part of his rant also throws a bit of a cloud over his touch with reality.  Revenge of the Clintons?  Really???  I see a pulp magazine cover.


I don’t really care about his past drinking, alleged blackouts, and being crowned “throw-up” king (Biggest Contributor) during a Beach Week Bacchanalia.


I do care about his lying about them 35 years later, saying he has never blacked out from drinking and that the reference to his barfing, while true, was because he has a “weak stomach,” not because he had too much to drink.


Pure bovine effluvia.


And this gives a hint of his current character and current judgment.


But his really inventive lying, and the subjects that brought out this talent, has to do with the terms boofing, FFFFFFFourth of July, and Devil’s Triangle, which he, himself, wrote under his senior picture in the student yearbook, for all posterity (or at least the last thirty-five years).


When asked, Kavanaugh asserted “boofing” referred to bodily gas.  Flatulence.  Farting.  Apparently, this is the creative definition of only Hizzoner’s mind.  Kavanaugh’s definition doesn’t even make sense within the context it was used; namely and to wit, “Have you Boofed Yet?”  Why would you memorialize, in your senior yearbook, the asking of your 17-18-year-old friends, “Have you farted, yet?”  C’mawwwwnnn…!


(Some think that “boofing” was a misprint.  That he meant to write “boffing,” a term for having sexual intercourse.  It wasn’t.)


“Boofing” is the practice of inserting drugs or alcohol into one’s anus in order to get higher more quickly and longer.  As Yogi Berra used to say, “You could look it up.”  But that definition makes much more sense within Kavanaugh’s use than mere flatulence does.


Ooooh, and the visual that creates.  I suppose that when one is boofing, one could insert drugs into one’s anus by oneself.  I haven’t tried it.


However, alcohol?  You are not doing that by yourself, dude, unless your colon is a suction pump.


No, somebody is helping you and the optics of it is boggling.  (I already hate the word “optics”, and this is the 1st and last time I will ever use it.  Until the next time.)


I suppose there are several different bodily contortions in which one could have another slip alcohol into his anus.  But, the easiest would be for the boofer to lie on his back, underwear off, legs spread wide, high over his head, while someone packs alcohol into his anus (hopefully with a straw or eyedropper).


Visualize that!  Imagine a member of the SCOTUS contorted like that at any age, not just as a teen 35 years ago.


Then, there is Devil’s Triangle.  Hooo boy.  “A drinking game,” Kavanaugh blithely asserts, “played like Quarters.  You ever played Quarters?”    No?  Not by the name of Devil’s Triangle.  Nor has anyone else.  Ever.


“Devil’s Triangle” refers to two boys having sex with one girl.  That’s it.  There is more, but I’ll spare you.


Then, of course, there’s the most telling lie about his, and too many men’s, attitude towards women and sex.:   FFFFFFFourth of July.


Kavanaugh tries to get us to believe it refers to a friend who stuttered.  He says he included it in his yearbook because it became sort of an inside joke among his in-crowd about a good friend.




It’s a boy’s crowd inside joke, alright, but it belies Kavanaugh’s jaundiced attitude toward all women that is NOT okay for any man, much less a man who aspires to the highest court of our land potentially making rulings about what women can legally do with their own bodies.


It is a crude reference to boy’s sexual behavior with women.


“FFFFFFFourth of July:” “Find them, French them, Feel them, Finger them, Fuck them, Forget them.”  (The Fourth of July reference doesn’t refer to what you think it does, but it is a non-sequitur and doesn’t mitigate or matter).


How do you think a man with these attitudes is likely to rule on women’s issues, LGBTQ issues, or religious discrimination issues?


Finally, I’m by no means a prude.


Everyone who knows me, including me mum and children, would find that description of me hysterical.


And I don’t blame Kavanaugh for lying about these last three definitions, per se.  They are disqualifying.


If you ask me, the FBI only need bring back definitive proof of what these three references, in conjunction with each other or singly, meant at the time Kavanaugh wrote them and voluntarily had them printed in his yearbook.  Each alone would sink his nomination, IMHO.


However, I must seriously question his judgment as an adult if he seriously thought anybody would swallow his transparent, self-serving lies.


A final note.


The issues I (and others) have discussed along these two narrow topics are very important to judge the man’s character today, as well as his judicial bearing during the hearing.


But they are only half the equation.


The other half has to do with the body of Kavanaugh’s professional work up to this time.


We have many of the man’s written opinions as a judge on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals and before.  It is,  arguably, the 2nd most important Court in the land, just behind the SCOTUS.  Many of his available views are concerning, foremost among them his opinion on Presidential infallibility.


However, it’s the 100,000 or more pages Kavanaugh authored that trump, citing Executive Privilege, refuses to release from when Kavanaugh was a political operative in the George W. Bush White House.  These documents would give us the best insight about how Kavanaugh believes, from a legal standpoint, about many of the issues of today.


Either one of these two compartments of Kavanaugh’s life, Character or Legal Views, if found wanting, is enough to sink his nomination by itself.  I think we have enough information to judge his character as he represents himself today.


My judgment, from watching the entirety of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing is that if this had been a divorce hearing, Dr. Ford would have gotten the kids.


It would be interesting to see the missing 100,000 pages from his Bush years.  Full Disclosure.


Then Closure.


This concludes my book report on Kavanaugh:  A Man for Our Childrens’ Lifetimes?

National Anthem Redux · Sodden Thoughts Blog

National Anthem Redux: A Simple Solution

About a year ago, I wrote a column about our National Anthem being used as a litmus test for our professional athletes with respect to how patriotic each of them is.


Moreover, I questioned the need for our anthem to be played before any sporting event except for, perhaps, major sporting events involving international teams.  The Olympics, World Cup Rugby, World Cup Soccer come to mind.


Now, with the opening of the new NFL season, this Anthem once again comes to the fore.


Well, I have a simple solution to this tempest in a teapot. It is simple and is designed to assuage the faux patriotic sensibilities of our Patriot in Chief. There are two facets.


But first,  let’s review how we got here.


It all began when somebody noticed that Colin Kaepernick, starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was silently kneeling when the rest of his teammates and the stadium were standing during the playing of our national anthem.  He’d been doing it, unnoticed, since the previous season.


It was expected, by good “patriots” everywhere, that a true patriot (not a New England one) would stand rigidly at attention, chest out, chin lifted high, hand over heart, and at least lip-sync the words to this un-sing-able hymn.


That Kaepernick had been engaging in his peaceful protest about the racial and income inequities in the United States of America is a testament to how diligent our super-patriots aren’t as well as how discrete Kaepernick had been.  Kaep was not looking for attention.


When word broke about Kaepernick’s blasphemy, you’d have thought that Colin had proposed that fùtbol should replace football as our national circus (costing lots of bread).


Public opinion was pretty solidly against Kaep, at least those trolls who wrote in to newspapers and other parts of the blogosphere roundly excoriating Kaep in the most illiterate terms imaginable.  Do you think they themselves stood during the national anthem in front of their TVs before each game they watched on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night?  And made their kids do it, too?


The collective owners of NFL franchises, ever vigilant to the psychological and physical comforts of their paying fans, as well as their own bottom line, spent eight grueling months studying this dilemma.


They also decided to blackball Mr. Kaepernick for having the audacity to make the owners think for eight months.  Those owners who could think, that is.


Even the POTUS (YFP)** weighed in, heavily I might add.  He thinks players should be banned from playing football for life if they should fail to pay proper respect their  flag and to the republic for which it stands.  Yes, the bone spur president wanted our troops honored by the vox populi even though he spent eight yeard avoiding being one of their comrades.


At any rate, the owners, came up with a plan, arbitrarily, that the players union rightfully rejected.  In a nutshell, the owners’ solution was that if a player did not want to honor our flag, the fallen dead, those soldiers protecting the oil fields of the Middle East, god, motherhood, and key lime pie well, he could stay in the tunnel until the anthem was done playing and then he could slink out onto the field like the mangy cur he was.


But, the patriotic players who had lucrative endorsement deals which depended on their having a good, squeaky clean image could come out before the anthem was played and stand respectfully during its playing, hand over heart and so on and so on ad nauseum.


Said the players union, “You owners must discuss any modification to our collective bargaining agreement with us.”


The owners did get back to the players union and negotiations began on a plan that would have the buy-in of players. Meanwhile, Jerry Jones, the gasbag owner of the Dallas Cowboys, came up with his own plan for his own players.


He insisted that all his players would take the field and properly honor our national anthem by kneeling or standing with their hands over their hearts for the entire anthem.


Jones’ pronouncement caused  another stir among the players. Among the many comments players issued publicly, the most charitable comment was Jones being accused of having a “plantation mentality.”


Well, I have a simple, simple solution to this tempest in a teapot. It is simple and is designed to assuage the faux patriotic sensibilities of our Patriot in Chief. There are two facets.


First, play the National Anthem BEFORE any of the players take the field to (symbolically) defenestrate their opponents.  In fact, it could be used as the introduction to the players bursting out of the tunnel through a paper banner or a phalanx of virgin cheerleaders to take the field, a frothin,’ a hootin,’ and a hollerin’.  End phase 1.


Second, any fan who does not stand, and over heart, during a playing of the anthem, will be treated as any other fan who disrupts the game for fighting or running out onto the field, and expelled from the premises.


This policy  includes those in the owners boxes,the owners club, those in line for food and/or drink, those serving food and/or drink., and the wheelchair-bound.


EVERYONE must stand at attention and listen to our National Anthem.  No Exceptions.  No Tolerance.


I think we can all agree that it best serves public policy to only have true patriots watch or attend the bread and circus games put on for our enjoyment by super-patriot team owners.












History · Religion

A Teachable Moment

(This was originally drafted last July 9, 2017)

Only a few of you out there know that my first year teaching, in 1972 at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA, included teaching two religion classes on the Gospels to juniors and seniors.

I also taught Sunday school for one year when my children were young.

As someone who taught high school and middle school for 20 years before moving on to an easier, more remunerative line of work, I recognize a teachable moment when I see one.

So, imagine my delight at 6 in the AM this fine Sunday when I espied the following headline and article.  My eyes filled with tears of nostalgia.  A chance to teach Sunday school had been gifted to me:

Priest in a red Corvette pulls out a gun during a road-rage incident, police say

For those of you unschooled in the niceties of the Xtian sects, as a public service, I will clear up your momentary confusion.
Like most people, when you read the headline your initial thought was that this was a rogue Catholic priest eschewing his vow of poverty and seemingly acting contrary to the principles of the Prince of Peace.
Then you read he was an Episcopalian priest and thought, “Huh?”
(Personally, my first thought was the article meant to refer to a Baptist minister, but I knew better.)
Let me explain.
During the reign of King Henry VIII, the Church of England was under the control of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Clement.
King Hank VIII was married to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, six years his senior.
Unfortunately for Catherine, she stubbornly refused to give him a male heir though they did have a daughter, who was next in line of succession to the throne.
Henry was appalled at this prospect.  He wanted his first child to be a masculine child…(Thanks, Luca…)
So, he went to the Pope and asked the Pope to annul his marriage to Catherine.
Clement said no.
Kings don’t like to be told, “No.”  So, ol’ Hank took control of the Church of England and granted himself an annulment.
I’ll spare you some of the tawdry, sordid, licentious details, but in the end, this allowed Henry to work out his priapic issues with young Anne Boleyn, after fathering two children with his handmaiden, Mary Boleyn, Anne’s older sister. Mary was clearly more than a hand-maiden.
Then he changed the name of the “Church of England” to the “Anglican Church.” They were interchangeable. Anglican means “of England.”
But make no mistake, King Henry VIII was a staunch believer in core Catholic principles and kept them as the centerpiece of his Anglican Church.
He just didn’t like Italian Popes, or anybody else for that matter, telling him what he couldn’t do or what he had to do.
And he also didn’t like the constant stand, kneel, sit, kneel, stand, sit.  He settled on sit.
Finally, he didn’t like sending millions of dollars to Rome…so he took custody of those dollars…well, pounds.
Fast forward 65 years to the colonizing of the New World, starting with Jamestown in 1607. The English colonies were settled by members of the Church of England (Anglican) and their church was given favored status compared to other religious sects.
No big deal.
Now fast-forward another 175 years to the American Revolution. The name, “Church of England,” fell into disfavor among the American colonists as they were rebelling against the King of England, King George III.
Its congregants began abandoning the Church and churches began closing. So, the remaining adherents cleverly decided to re-brand and changed its name to The Episcopal Church. Why Episcopal?
Because the Church of England, in England, was organized into episcopates. An episcopate is the equivalent of a Roman Catholic bishopric and refers to the group of churches a bishop/episcopate has under his authority.
So, to put it simply, an Episcopalian is just a Catholic who doesn’t like calisthenics.
So, Episcopalians do have priests and, apparently, they have more fun than our Catholic priests.  They don’t have to take a vow of celibacy and marriage is allowed.
That is your history lesson for today.
A final note.
In my opinion, every Catholic should read a book by Garry Wills, entitled Why Priests?
You might not like it, but it gives some great Church history and plenty to think about.

Of Athletes and Anthems

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

                                                                      Samuel Johnson  April 7, 1775


The tradition of playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events in the United States started during a baseball World Series game during the 7th inning stretch in 1918.

It gradually increased in frequency at other baseball games until WW II when it was played before every game as a sign of solidarity with our boys (including some pro baseball players) fighting overseas.

I get the display of patriotism during those dark times.

But these times are not those times, dark though they may be.

Besides, the history of this practice is another story.

This is today’s story:

Why are all the knee-jerk super-patriots ignoring the larger question surrounding athletes sitting or kneeling during the playing of our national anthem and bashing, denouncing, and excoriating professional athletes who don’t stand, hand over heart, properly reverent, during its playing before they go out to bloody and maim their opponents?

The larger question being, of course, WHY is our national anthem, written to the tune of an old, lewd, British men’s club drinking song, sung before every US sporting event from the pee wee leagues on up, in the first place?  

It is, in my ever so humble opinion, stupid, pointless, and cheapens the purpose and meaning of a national anthem.

Do we stand and sing it when attending a play?

Do we stand and sing it, hand over heart, when attending a comedy show?  (Where did hand over heart start, anyway?  Other country’s citizens and athletes don’t do that during the playing of their anthem at medal ceremonies of international competitions.)

Do we stand and sing it, hand over heart, heads bowed, before our church service begins?

Do we stand and sing it, thinking of the men and women who have fought for our country, before beginning a big Thanksgiving Day meal surrounded by family members?

Before opening gifts on Xmas morning?

Do you even stand and sing it, hand over heart, caps doffed, heads bowed,  before the backyard BBQ on the 4th of July, a day tailor-made for our National Anthem? (When did men taking their hats off during its playing start?  I thought that only happened as they entered a church.)

Heck, how many super-patriots stand at attention and take off their caps in the privacy of their living rooms when the anthem is played before EVERY game they are about to watch on the telly?

As a matter of fact, I’d wager that most über-nationalists couldn’t correctly tell me which American war inspired this song without googling it.

I can understand why our anthem is played before games featuring one of our national teams playing another nation’s national team. And I can understand why it is played when the national anthem of an athlete is played when s/he is atop the podium after winning a gold medal in a major international competition.

But, before every NASCAR race?  Half the drivers are foreigners, fer chrissakes!

But I can also understand, and accept, why John Carlos and Tommie Smith took the action they did in Mexico City in 1968.  I watched it live and admired the courage it must have taken them to do that.  

Why do I say “courage?”  Because even at the tender age of 17, I could foresee the repercussions, social and financial, each of them would face, both immediately and long-term, for being the messenger of a nation’s problem.

But for my part, their courage made me think, seriously, about the conditions in this country that inspired Smith’s and Carlos’ concerted action.

I grew up relatively comfortable in a nice middle-income family living in a nice suburban post-WW II tract home in the San Fernando Valley less than 25 miles from where the Watts riots had occurred.

But I’d never been there nor thought too much about what the riots were all about.

So, here I am today, fifty years later, being reminded that those conditions still exist today and that racial and religious intolerance still abounds.

I admire courage and people who take courageous actions or demonstrate courageous thought.

Today, that includes Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett.  Mr. Bennett gave a remarkable speech on CNN yesterday on why he sat during the anthem during this past week’s game.

Their actions are not dividing the nation.  So, ultra-patriots should stop shooting the messengers and address the problem.





Satires and Parodies. Political and Social.

President Queeg and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions


So, Donald J. Tramp inexplicably let himself be interviewed by the New York Times yesterday.


He hates the NYT.  The NYT invented Fake News.


Of course, the interview was taped.  No Fake News possible.


I wouldn’t have thought too much about it until I heard what Tramp said about his AG, Jeff Sessions.


My interest piqued, I read a little and then ran into this paragraph:


“In the interview, Trump also appeared to threaten Mueller, suggesting he had damaging information on the former FBI director.  He lobbed similar conflict of interest charges at acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and accused former FBI Director James Comey of briefing him on a dossier of unverified, incriminating information in an effort to gain leverage over the soon-to-be president.”


OMG!  It’s President Donald J. Queeg!

(click, click, click)

“I know exactly what Mueller will tell you.  He’s no different than any other appointee to my administration.  They were all disloyal.”

(click, click, click)

“I tried to run this country properly, but they plotted against me; they fought me at every turn.  Sean Spicey wanted to walk around with his shirt tail out, fine, let him.”

(click, click, click)

“I tried to extract loyalty from them, but they wouldn’t give it.  Rosenstein, Sessions, McCabe, Comey…ah, Comey, he was the perfect office holder,  but not President Queeg!!”

“But, the Russian dossier, that’s where I had them!”

(click, click, click)

“They laughed about golden showers and made jokes about small hands, but I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, and with geometric precision, that a dossier definitely. Did. NOT. Exist and ……uh…. Well, I can only answer these questions from memory.   If I left anything out, Senators, just ask me specific questions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders won’t answer them, one by one…”

(click, click, click)