Sunday, February 23, 2020

All in for Bernie letter

I have emailed to the News-Press the following letter to the editor. I'll update this post when/if it's published.

To the editor:

What's the appropriate phrase? Biting the bullet? Going all in? Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead? This election, I've decided to do all three. I'm voting in the California primary and, hopefully, in the general election, for Bernie Sanders.

Yes, I worry about his "electability" and his heart attack and advanced age (same as mine, BTW) but damn it, there's another apt phrase: A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

We elders recall presidential elections where a popular chant, bemoaning the similarity of the major candidates' views, was "A choice not an echo." Well, with a Sanders/Trump choice in November, that's not likely to be heard, and that's important.

But to me it's deeper, grander, than that: My vote feels like a profound exercise, a true and liberating act, an act that in small measure atones to my offspring for allowing the state of our nation to become what America has become and Trump exemplifies: an imperialist, consumerist, capitalist monster.

Should we provide universal health care? Of course. Free advanced education? Of course. Economic equity, certainly. And to the opposing refrain, We can't afford it, I reply, Oh puhleeze. We support 700 worldwide military bases; we subsidize multinational corporations and foreign governments; we throw money at a Space Force and a border wall; we send pallets of dollars to corrupt regimes.

So, I'm all in for Bernie Sanders. I owe it to those who come after me – and to myself.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

The Long Con letter to the editor

I wrote this letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

It was published on Sunday, January 5, 2020.

To the editor:

Remember the movie "The Sting," with Newman and Redford, as "grifters," swindling their "mark," gangster Doyle Lonnegan, out of a half million dollars? It wasn't a quick job: It was a "long con," involving a hook, a bite, a switch and, pertinent to this letter, the mark's ignorance he'd been swindled.

As presently relevant, the hook was Trump's 2016 campaign promises and television appearances, spewed ceaselessly by an uncritical media to a feckless public. The bite was the electoral college count. The switch has been three years of trickery and lies, presidentially tweeted, spewed by faithful Internet sources and broadcast daily by an allied television channel.

Some of Trump's most egregious switches: (1) Tax reform. Did middle-class Americans see a break? Not one whit and certainly nothing near the $4,000 tax reduction Trump promised. Meanwhile, stock market investors and major corporations got rich and richer. (2) Withdrawal of US forces. Not one whit, with forces still in Iraq and Afghanistan and being attacked there daily; with new involvements in Africa and elsewhere; and – fueled by huge increases in Pentagon spending – with a new theater, a Space Force. (3) A great again America. Not at all. Indeed, Trump's made us a rogue nation, alienating traditional allies, with its president a laughing-stock, viewed globally as a charlatan, a swindler – which, at base, he is.

By November, will enough voters have awakened to the swindle or will our grifter president succeed with his long con?   

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Letter to the editor -- The elephant and the third rail

Herewith is a copy of a letter to the editor of the SB Independent that I emailed today, October 15, 2019. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Update: The letter was published on the Independent's website on October 22, 2019, here: 

The elephant and the third rail

Kudos to the author of the letter to the Independent about human overpopulation, chiding the Indy for avoiding the "elephant in the room" as the dominant factor causing pollution and climate change. I agree with the elephant metaphor but (somewhat) defend the Indy's silence.

Indy's newsroom is hardly alone in elephantless-ness. One web-searches in vain for articles that, in addressing the pollution/climate-change matrix, confront (or even mention) the impact of the increase in number of Earth's dominant animal. While diligent assessments are made of the smothering of our planet with chemical and carbon-based output – invariably cautioning that this output must be curtailed – not a whisper is heard about curtailing offspring from us seven billion folks.

Why is this? In part because it's much easier – culturally cozier – to preach that people should stop using plastic bags and straws than that they should stop procreating. Indeed, calling for wiser consumption merely plucks the low-hanging fruit of the problem while providing little effect except instant gratification. No, the solution is to reduce the number – certainly the increase in the number – of humans on the planet, which is where one encounters the problem's "third rail." 

No matter the approach to our overpopulation problem – from voluntary to involuntary contraception; from education to indoctrination; from taxation to legislation, to name the most obvious – the debate invariably slides into explosive issues, insoluble topics of freedoms, religious beliefs, governmental intrusion, racialism/genetics, immigration/migration – issues preferably, conveniently, avoided.

Hence, the elephant abides.        


Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Letter to the editor

Herewith is a letter to the editor of the SB News-Press that I emailed today. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Update: The letter was published in the News-Press on Sunday, April 7, 2019.

Pundits wonder why Donald Trump lies so frequently. Perhaps, they suggest, he can't help himself – it's in his nature, a genetic trait or something. Mysterious to pundits too is how forgiving his base is about his repetitive falsehoods. They marvel at the sustained loyalty of his followers despite his constant prevarications. To quote Rogers and Hammerstein, "is a puzzlement."

Pundits are even more befuddled about why Trump lies about facts that are both meaningless and readily refutable. For example, his claims about his golfing prowess turn out to be a tissue (that is, a scorecard) of lies, the result of grandscale cheating. Who cares – except, presumably, Donald Trump – about his handicap?  Dwight Eisenhower, an avid golfer, commanded us to victory over Germany and governed us for eight solid years and yet never found it necessary to fib about his skill at striking a sphere along a lawn. 

Trump's latest odd and silly lie  – that his father, Fred, was born in Germany – is a "fact" he's repeated many times, including a few days ago to the NATO  Secretary General. In fact (emphasis intended) Fred Trump was born in New York, well within the gestation period after his mother's arrival in the United States.

You'd think, after all the attention Trump spent investigating the birthplace of his presidential predecessor, he'd take care to speak accurately of his father's. But no. Apparently, to Trump, it's more important that he not admit to being the offspring of an anchor baby. 

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Herewith is the text of a letter I sent to the editor of the SB News-Press today. I'll update this post when/if it gets published.

Update: The letter was published in the News-Press on Sunday, December 9, 2018.

At last, the "witch hunt" is getting interesting. Straight out of a John le Carrė novel, we learn from the Special Counsel's recent court filing that "cooperating" defendant Paul Manafort was actually a "mole," lying to Robert Mueller's team about "a variety of subject  matters," while being a conduit to the President for information about the Russia/collusion/obstruction investigation.

But wait -- the le Carrė tale doesn't stop there. What if Mueller's team knew all the while that Manafort was Trump's mole and they were feeding Manafort false information for transmittal to Trump, which Trump then used in fashioning his answers to Mueller's questions? That would explain why the plea bargain with Manafort was voided immediately after Trump's answers were finally delivered to Mueller: Mueller set the trap and Trump strode into it.

But wait – le Carrė isn't finished. Because the President's written answers were doubtless lawyer-honed and contained weasel-words such as "to the best of my recollection," those answers wouldn't be a sound basis for proving anything much. Instead, it's likely that Mueller has independent evidence that Manafort lied. We'll likely learn details about the "subject matters" that Manafort allegedly lied about in court filings that Mueller will present shortly and in Manafort's lawyers' filing seeking to show he didn't lie. These presentations, whether or not they dovetail with Trump's ambiguously-crafted answers, will reveal only the next chapter in the story, including, obviously, the scope of Trump's pardon power. Turn the page.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Herewith is the text of a letter I emailed today to the SB News-Press. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

It sounds crass, I know, but I'm grateful for Hurricane Florence. It has, for a day or three, knocked stories about Trump/Cohen/Manafort/Stormy/Mueller down from the lead to the second story on front pages and telecasts. Wildfires occasionally did the job earlier this year, but that season is ending – thankfully, with hurricane season beginning. God forbid the top stories should report the death tolls in Iraq/Afghanistan/Yemen or the plight of the millions of refugees. No – never, not America's mainstream media.

The press's mantra used to be "If it bleeds, it leads." No more – the buckets of blood and trauma abroad are insufficient to warrant our attention. Nowadays, under the current political climate, the mantra has become, "If it stinks, it inks," or, likely the more apt, "If it stinks, it links."

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Letter to the editor

Here's the text of an email I sent to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press today. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Update: The letter was published in the News-Press on Sunday, April 29, 2018.

To the editor:
An unheralded benefit to middle-class wage-earners has been found from recent studies of the effect of the Republican "tax cut" legislation. The studies determined that while high-paid employees are seeing significant take-home pay increases from the legislation, most taxpayers whose wages are mid-range are experiencing little – and many no – increase in their take-home pay. The benefit? These folks won't experience much of a decrease in their take-home pay when these temporary cuts expire in a few years.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

This says it all...

An excellent essay by MATT Taibbi. Couldn't have written it better myself.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Boxing Day

Herewith is the text of a letter to the editor of the SB News-Press that I emailed today. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Dear Sir or Madam:

I wrote this on "Boxing Day," the day after Christmas. You've doubtless heard of Boxing Day, but, perhaps like me, hadn't known its derivation. Well, I've cyber-searched it: Consensus is, it arose in England centuries ago, nickname for servants' "day off" to enjoy the boxed gifts and leftovers their nobles dispensed to them, the servants having labored through Christmas Day to provide their masters with feast and celebration. Over succeeding years it became a secular day of giving – through alms-boxes and the like – celebrated throughout the UK and many Commonwealth countries.

However, Boxing Day has lately devolved from a day of sharing and tribute to workers' labor and service, into a frenetic shopping day – with crowds surging into stores for much-touted discounts. It's also a hallowed – if lethargic – day for televised sport: endless soccer matches, auto racing and such, with leftover Christmas food and drink at hand. 

Sound familiar? Sound like our Black Friday merged with Super Bowl Sunday? And why not? America leads Western Culture nowadays: Our Labor Day no longer celebrates labor in America: It's simply beer-and-burger day. Memorial Day has become beer-and-Indy day, and Independence Day is all about fireworks. Our Thanksgiving is now tryptophan-and-TV day, followed within hours by our annual addictively-intense shopping event.

So – No surprise. Boxing Day has become driven by distraction and commercialism, sullied by crass consumerism, just as have our holidays.

But we still have Christmas, a day of goodness and kindness, without the unseemly commercialism that has consumed other holidays, right?


Friday, September 22, 2017

Bernie's speech on foreign policy. Good stuff, and high time he addressed it.