Entries tagged with “Donald Trump”.


It’s been a generally good week in this old man’s world. Old is the operative word here. I turned 77 on Monday. My gait is increasingly unsteady, but I’m still carrying about 75 pounds of firewood uphill to Mitchell cabin each day. Lynn took me out for a birthday lunch at River Front Cafe’s outdoor tables beside the Petaluma River. A beautiful scene, and everyone maintained proper distancing. On Thursday, Lynn and I celebrated Thanksgiving, with Lynn’s preparing along with the turkey, homemade stuffing, her own cranberry sauce, and squash raviolis.

And while all this was going on, the fields around Mitchell cabin began turning from brown to green thanks to the rains two weeks ago.

The green shoots attract blacktail deer, and as many as eight at a time have begun showing up for the feast. For dessert, they often dine on persimmons that have fallen from our tree on the other side of the cabin.

The rains also eliminated any further risks of a flareup from the Woodward fire. The fire, which blackened 5,000 acres in the Point Reyes National Seashore beginning Aug. 18, has taken firefighters two months to fully control. The rains should have doused almost all smoldering ashes, the Park Service reported this past week.

Thanksgiving eve raccoon lineup on our deck.

A mother raccoon with her four kits show up outside our window every evening hoping to be fed, and we usually give them a few handfuls of dog kibble.

The raccoons around here appear to be thriving although further south around Muir Beach and inland to Mill Valley distemper has begun showing up in raccoons and foxes, WildCare warned this week. Coyotes and skunks, as well as domestic dogs, are also susceptible to the disease.

The organization noted, “Wild animals with distemper may exhibit a lack of coordination or balance, approachability, seizures, and/or discharge from eyes and nose….

“Concerned residents who see an animal in distress should call WildCare’s Living with Wildlife Hotline at 415-456-7283 or contact Marin Humane at 415-883-4621.”

Canada geese — heading to Drakes Estero for the night — fly over Mitchell cabin around sunset daily. They don’t wear masks, but they do maintain social distancing.

Also flying over head.

Something many of us said thanks for yesterday occurred in Washington. Donald Trump, who keeps denying he lost the Nov. 3 presidential election, finally said he will leave the White House by Jan. 20 if Democratic president-elect Joe Biden wins the electoral college vote on Dec. 14. Biden racked up 306 electoral college votes three weeks ago and needs only 270 to win. Trump in comparison picked up only 232 votes, which may account for his hair turning gray in the week after the election.

We’ll start out with the bad surprises — including one of President Donald Trump’s tweets to his backers — so that we end on a happy note:

America’s “all-time favorite President?” Is he simply dishonest or also delusional?

One sign of the President’s worrying: in the first week after his Nov. 3 election loss, which he refuses to admit, Trump’s famously blond hair turned gray.  As The New York Times reported in September, Trump paid no federal income taxes for 15 years and only $750 in 2016 and 2017. Among the “business expenses” he’s been claiming among his tax deductions are the $40,000 per year he pays for hair styling, The Times reported. Given this huge annual investment in the look of his hair, we can assume he was in favor of the color change. 

With many Americans ridiculing his behavior as juvenile, perhaps he wanted to look more mature.

Now a couple of local surprises:

Olema House. Last month Condé Nast Traveler named the local hostelry the “Best hotel in the US for 2020.” The magazine credited “its spectacular dining” for the hotel’s earning the top award. “If you eat at the hotel (and you should), the local seasonal menu at Due West pulls from the bounty of nearby ranches, farms, and the bay.”

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat on Oct. 13 reported, “Formerly called The Lodge at Point Reyes, Olema House has 24 rooms, including two cottages, on four acres of land.”  I myself have never stayed there, but I read in The Press Democrat that “each of the rooms is decorated in a modern Americana style.”

 Another local surprise. Travel and Leisure magazine has declared the Marshall Store (pictured above) one of “the top 30 seafood restaurants in the US.” It’s, of course, a store too, but it’s even more of a dining establishment. Here my stepdaughter Anika Zappa Pinelo, her husband Carlos, and my wife Lynn enjoy barbecued oysters seated outside overlooking Tomales Bay.

Not surprising:

Rac-communal bathing. Lynn and I see it almost nightly: a mother raccoon and her four kits all trying to squeeze together into our birdbath. They bathe in the water as well as drink it. The surprises occur when they manage to get almost the entire family into the bowl at one time.

It’s been a chaotic week. Former Vice President Joe Biden with Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate won last week’s presidential election by 5 million votes, but President Donald Trump kept filing lawsuits in an attempt to hold onto his office.

America has long been the guiding light for democracies around the world. Our elections are fair. We have a free press. We cooperate with our international allies for the good of the planet.

For the past four years, however, we’ve had a president who tries to run this country as if he were a dictator in a banana republic. Our president often insults the leaders of allied countries; frequently insists the American press is full of “fake news”; and has begun claiming our elections are easily rigged. Not surprisingly, respect for the US has plummeted around the world.

Many West Marin voters were exuberant last Tuesday as they lined up outside the polls in Point Reyes Station to help decide local, state, and national elections.

Other voters who live around town, myself included, voted in advance, using a dropbox in front of the Health and Human Services office where Tuesday’s voting was held. Still others voted by mail. Trump, meanwhile, criticized absentee voting as unreliable even though he himself has often voted by mail. 

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris spoke out for racial harmony in their public appearances.

In California, which has twice as many Democratic voters as Republican voters, the Biden-Harris victory had particular significance. Harris “has been the first person like her to hold every office she has ever won,” The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday. “She was the first woman and person of color to serve as San Francisco district attorney. She was the first woman and first person of color to be attorney general of California. She was the first Black senator from California.”

She is also the first Asian American to be elected vice president. Her late mother, Shyamala Gopalanwas born in Madras, India. The mother was a biomedical scientist who had worked at the Lawrence Berkeley Research Laboratory and other medical-research institutions.

The vice president-elect’s father, Donald Harris, is a Jamaican-American born in Browns Town, Jamaica. He’s a professor emeritus in Stanford University’s Economics Department.

Trump supporters display a “Black Lies Matter” sign while parading across the Golden Gate Bridge. (Chronicle photo, Aug. 29, 2020)

During the campaign, both Biden and Harris talked about the need to improve the criminal-justice system in locales where Blacks encounter noticeably more-aggressive police behavior than whites.

The Trump campaign in contrast played to his supporters’ racism. Trump spoke of the Black Lives Matter movement as “terrorism.” 

He referred to Mexicans who had fled to the US to escape violence at home as “rapists and murderers.” On the other hand, he said he’d like to see more immigration from (white bread) Norway.

In Point Reyes Station, candidates of all stripes created their own form of chaos by flooding the public with political mailings. There is no home delivery of mail in town, so postal customers have to check their boxes in the post office every day. Many postal customers immediately threw out — along with ordinary junk mail — much of the political mail they received during the lead-up to election day.  

As a result, the three trash cans in the post office lobby began overflowing daily onto the floor, so the post office removed them and posted this sign. 

Now that the election is over, the sign is down, and trash bins have returned to the post office lobby where they’re receiving normal amounts of unwanted mail.

Most townspeople I’ve spoken with are hoping to see the rest of their world also return to normal now that the election is over and Trump is proving to be the loser.

Nor is the relief limited to West Marin. Prominent heads of state throughout the world — with notable exceptions in Russia and initially in China — quickly congratulated Biden on his victory.

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Midway through Thursday night’s debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, I became so offended I walked out of our TV room. That unfortunately left Lynn to watch the debate alone.

I mentioned this the next day to a woman who works in town, and she responded, “That’s just what happened in our house.”

Why were we offended? When people know that someone is lying to them, most folks feel insulted. The liar apparently thinks they aren’t well enough informed to recognize the lie. Nonetheless, that was Trump’s repeated tactic, even though much of his audience saw through at least some of the lies.

The orange liar. (Reuters photo by Leah Millis)

As The San Jose Mercury News reported after the debate: “Trump’s performance was riddled with false claims, on topics ranging from the coronavirus to foreign policy to immigration. And while former Vice President Joe Biden made some missteps and stretched the truth at times, his comments essentially hewed to the truth.”

Despite what Trump said, his administration did not respond well to the Covid-19 pandemic, initially discounting its seriousness. By today more than 8.5 Americans have been infected and 224,000 have died, with the number of cases currently spiking. Yet Trump insisted the worst is almost over. He also promised that vaccinations for millions of Americans will be available far sooner than experts say is possible.

Vice President Joe Biden in 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

While offering no evidence for the claims, Trump repeatedly said Biden had received $3.5 million from Russia and was making money in China. Biden, as I would have expected, flat-out contradicted the falsehoods, and The Wall Street Journal subsequently determined that Biden is not doing any business in China.

As for the candidate’s getting the $3.5 million from Russia, The Mercury News pointed out: “Trump was seemingly trying to raise an allegation previously made against Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, but there’s no connection to Joe Biden.

Hunter Biden

“Hunter Biden also denies the allegation he received $3.5 million. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, told CNN that Hunter Biden was not an owner of the firm Senate Republicans allege received the $3.5 million payment in 2014.  A partisan investigation conducted by Senate Republicans, whose report was released this month, alleged that Elena Baturina, a Russian businesswoman and the wife of late Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, sent $3.5 million in 2014 to a firm called Rosemont Seneca Thornton, and that the payment was identified as a ‘consultancy agreement.’ The report did not provide any further details about the transaction.

“Hunter Biden was a co-founder and CEO of the investment firm Rosemont Seneca Advisors. But Mesires said Hunter Biden did not co-found Rosemont Seneca Thornton. It’s not clear what connection exists between Rosemont Seneca Advisors and Rosemont Seneca Thornton. Neither the Senate report nor Trump have provided any evidence that the payment was corrupt or that Hunter Biden committed any wrongdoing.”

I suspect that, like me, quite a few Americans are offended by Trump’s repeated attempts to mislead the country.

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Friends are continually sending me humor to brighten these dark days. It works, so I’ll use this posting to pass along a few laughs.

I wish the California vote alone could decide the presidential election. The San Francisco Chronicle noted last Sunday that in this state, “Republicans now account for less than 25 percent of registered voters.”

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When news media in Western democracies inaccurately report something, most are quick to own up to their mistake, whether serious or simply ridiculous.  I belong to the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE), and its members of late have been laughing at some of their own bizarre goofs. Here are two.

Manitoulin is an island within the Province of Ontario, and the editor of The Manitoulin West Recorder sent in examples of bloopers caused by misplacing items. Notice what’s “for sale” in this page of classified ads.

“Thankfully the parents got a kick out of it,”  the ISWNE member reported.
 
The Canadian editor also recalled, “We once had a front page picture of the final service of a church in a community on our island’s most western end. The photo was of the oldest congregant leaving the church for the last time and chatting with the minister. This particular week was also the week of one community’s fall fair, and what’s a fall fair without oddly shaped vegetables? Sadly, one of the veggie pics’ cutlines (captions) was placed with the old-lady church photo and began with: ‘This crooked specimen…’ She ALSO had a good sense of humour, thank goodness.”
 
—    —    —
Until I read this headline in The San Francisco Chronicle last week, I’d always wondered how busy government officials could find time for hookups and courtship, let alone a wedding.
 
 

—    —    —

Coronavirus. As noted in US News and World Report on Sept. 8: “Over 400,000 motorcycle enthusiasts gathered for the annual rally from Aug. 7-16 [in Sturgis, South Dakota], and it was reported that social distancing and mask wearing at some of the events was not observed.” 

“The rally was officially linked to hundreds of coronavirus cases across more than 10 states and at least one death. But the study that relied on cell phone data to track movements estimates that over 250,000 reported coronavirus cases from August 2 to September 2 are due to the rally – nearly 20% of the national cases during that time period, according to Andrew Friedson, one of the authors of the report.”

A friend in Point Reyes Station, however, claims a correction is needed:

—    —    —
 
And finally: Why doctors don’t go on strike

 

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The president isn’t just two-faced (Huffington Post graphic).

 You may recall the violence when white nationalists including the Ku Klux Klan held a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, NC, in 2017.  They were protesting the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.  As The New York Times then reported, “Groups such as the Neo-Nazi movement and the KKK have felt emboldened since the election of Donald J. Trump as president.” 

David Duke, former imperial wizard of the KKK, told the rally they were “going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump to take back our country.”  However, a peaceful counter-demonstration then followed, and this prompted one of the white nationalists, James Alex Fields, 20, of Ohio, to speed his car into the group, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 34 others.

Fields was quickly charged with second-degree murder and three counts of malicious wounding, but Trump refused to publicly criticize the white nationalist and instead falsely claimed there had been “violence on many sides.” In fact, Trump often amazes us by sticking up for disreputable public figures, such as Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, whom he says is “smart” and whom he credits with having “done an amazing job.” The result can make for some strange alliances.

From within Russia, US citizen Rinaldo Nazzaro runs an American Neo-Nazi group. He “left New York for St. Petersburg less than two years ago,” the British Broadcasting Company reported on Jan. 24.

“The American founder of a US-based, militant Neo-Nazi group, The Base, is directing the organization from Russia, a BBC investigation has found…. The Base is a major counter-terrorism focus for the FBI. Seven alleged members were charged this month with various offenses, including conspiracy to commit murder.

“Court documents prepared by the FBI describe The Base as a ‘racially motivated violent extremist group’ that ‘seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethnographies-state,'” the BBC added.

Perhaps Putin’s hosting one of our domestic terrorists is yet another international “favor” our president wants.

First Lady Melania Trump previously modeled for the British ‘Gentleman’s Quarterly’ magazine. Obviously Trump considers her “hot” since he has made a point of prizing “hot” women. Two decades ago, he went so far as to openly promote his teenaged daughter’s sexiness.

In 1997 when his daughter Ivanka was 16, she hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant, and while she was on-stage, Trump turned to the then-Miss Universe and asked, “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?” 

Never before in this country’s history has there been such a bizarre administration, and hopefully there’ll never be another. 

Candidate Bill Bailey (at far right) listening to jazz in Sausalito’s No Name Bar last Friday.

Thankfully, American politics on the local level are generally more traditional and draw more reasonable candidates, at least in this county. In West Marin, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni is currently running for reelection against challenger Alex Easton Brown. In Southern Marin, the Board of Supervisors seat is open, and Bill Bailey is one of the candidates for it. He’s a technical engineer running on a platform of fiscal reform.

Bailey frequently shows up for the Friday jazz performances at the No Name, just as I do. I’m not familiar with his campaign, but I’ve come to recognize him. Even when he’s squinting into my camera’s flash, his low-key, movie-star looks are unmistakeable.

Joining Lynn and me and our homeless friend Billy Hobbs at the No Name Friday was another friend, Guido Hennig of Switzerland, an engineer who visits San Francisco annually for business conferences. Given our nation’s political turmoil, I asked him about Europe’s impression of Trump and was told that it’s generally not very good. No surprise there.

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

A mother raccoon and two kits on the deck at Mitchell cabin.

As regular readers of this blog know, I am fascinated by the raccoons that show up nightly on our deck, so as might be expected, I found an article in the Science section of last Thursday’s Washington Post to be particularly disturbing: ‘Caged raccoons drooled in 100-degree heat but federal enforcement has faded.’

The Post reported that “for two days running in the summer of 2017, the temperature inside a metal barn in Iowa hovered above 96 degrees. Nearly 300 raccoons — bred and sold as pets and for research — simmered in stacked cages. Several lay with legs splayed, panting and drooling, a US Department of Agriculture inspector wrote. 

“On the third day, the thermometer hit 100, and 26 raccoons were in ‘severe heat distress’ and ‘suffering,’ the inspector reported. Then a USDA team of veterinarians and specialists took a rare step: they confiscated 10 of the animals and made plans to come back for the others. 

The Ruby Fur Farm in Iowa. A USDA inspector during one check found the heat in the farm’s raccoon cages had reached 117.2 degrees. (Photo obtained by The Washington Post.)

“But after an appeal from an industry group to a Trump White House advisor, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and senior USDA officials intervened, according to five former USDA employees. The inspectors and veterinarians were blocked from taking the remaining raccoons and ordered to return those they had seized.”

One inspector, who had worked 20 years for the Department of Agriculture, quit later that year, explaining to The Post: “It feels like your hands are tied behind your back. You can’t do many of the things you’re supposed to do when it comes to protecting animals.”

A mother raccoon sleeps comfortably in Point Reyes Station.

The Post article goes on to describe the Trump administration’s also easing bans against cruelty to horses. This particularly affects Tennessee Walking Horses, which compete in horse shows with high-stepping gaits. Some owners unfortunately short-cut their training of the horses by driving spikes into animals’ front hooves, burning away the center of the hooves’ bottoms with caustic chemicals, or tying chains tightly around their ankles. This “soring” makes it so painful for a horse to put much weight down on its hooves that it becomes used to quickly drawing them back up.

Here again, I have a personal interest in the topic. In 1970 while teaching at Upper Iowa University, I became a Fayette County delegate to the Iowa State Democratic convention where I advocated a ban on the soring of horses. Later that year, the ban became part of a new federal law that made soring a violation of USDA regulations. Sored horses could no longer be entered in competition.

Under Trump, however, the USDA has more compassion for horse owners than mistreated horses. The USDA now says that sored horses should no longer be disqualified from horse shows unless it can be demonstrated that they belonged to their current owners at the time they were sored.

I’m sure the owners of fur farms and Tennessee Walking Horses will be voting for Trump next year.

 

Like many of my friends and neighbors, I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency; however, I’ll dilute my despondency with joyful pictures from a current exhibit on West Marin’s milk, butter, and cheese industry.

To get our minds off politics for a couple of hours, Lynn and I on Sunday took a drive up the bay to Tomales where the Regional History Center on Saturday and Sunday afternoons is holding an exhibit: “From Milk to Butter & Cheese: 160 Years of Local Creameries.”

100_4630

The exhibition is in conjunction with one showing through the end of the year at the Bolinas Museum. That exhibit is called, “Bounty: Fine Food Production in Coastal Marin from 1834 to the 21st Century.”

Seen in an historic photo from the Tomales exhibit, a rancher while milking a cow gives a cat a squirt.

Environmentalists I’ve talked with worry about Trump’s financial advisors’ denying climate change, calling for renewed coal mining, and sounding as if they’re willing to sacrifice public land for short-term revenue.

         Latino families throughout West Marin are uneasy because many of them have at least one relative who might be deported under Trump’s anti-immigrant proposals.

mb-boissevain-marins-1st-farm-advisor

M.B. Bossevain was Marin County’s first farm advisor. He is seen here in the Tomales exhibit standing in a patch of sweet clover.

         Black acquaintances resent Trump’s lack of respect, and they fear he may appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn major civil rights victories. After all, Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News Network executive chairman who will be Trump’s senior counselor, is known for his white-nationalist views.

         The Huffington Post quotes Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as saying Trump’s choice of Bannon “signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House….  It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion.”

         I may not live long enough to see this country recover from the potential damage of a Trump presidency, but sometimes my mortality seems almost consoling. A neighbor, who has resigned himself to one or two terms of Trump, remarked today, “Well, at least I probably won’t live that long.”

nicasio-valley-creamery

         In keeping with this melancholy mood, the country this week is simultaneously mourning the death of singer/composer Leonard Cohen. For the last two nights I’ve played his mournful, sometimes hymn-like, music during dinner, which made the meal feel like the Last Supper in a Parisian bistro.

A storage area for the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company (seen in the Tomales exhibition).

I delayed this posting for a couple of days, hoping I would be celebrating most American voters having preferred the decency of Hillary Clinton to the demagoguery of Donald Trump, but as of this morning, the uncouth bigot had won the election. Clinton carried this county with 78 percent of the vote and carried this country by more than 100,000 votes, as of this evening’s count. (Update: The count as of Dec. 20 had Clinton receiving almost 3 million more votes than Trump.) Yet she trailed 228 to 279 in the Electoral College, which ultimately is what counts.

reshoot-1

Although immigrant bashing was at the core of Trump’s campaign, the candidate is for the second time married to an immigrant, Melania of Slovenia. His first wife, Ivana, was from the Czech Republic, but they divorced after he started having an affair with Marla Maples, who would become his second wife.

The now-well-known picture of the bromance between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump first showed up in May as a mural on the back of a barbecue restaurant in Lithuania. The nude photo of Melania first appeared on the cover of Gentlemen’s Quarterly in January 2000, shortly after she started an affair with Trump despite his still being married to Marla Maples.

Putin and Trump more than once expressed their admiration for each other during the campaign, and Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on his victory. In the Russian Duma (lower house of parliament), members broke into applause when Trump’s victory was announced. I personally will certainly be uncomfortable that a US president is chummy with Putin, one of this country’s longstanding adversaries. No doubt many Americans (and almost all Ukrainians) feel the same way.

In the Middle East, Islamic extremists are also celebrating Trump’s victory, which they see as a sign of America’s fragmentation, The Washington Post reported today. They also believe that Trump’s outspoken contempt for Islam is alienating Muslims everywhere. Meanwhile in North Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan is so pleased with the election results it will hold a victory parade on Dec. 3.

buck-stalking-doe

À la the Donald, bucks around here openly stalk females and try to poke them although the does usually trot off before they can.

When I discussed the election downtown today with Point Reyes Station residents, their comments ranged from bitter to sarcastic.

This is not a community that wants to deport immigrants — even those who marry Donald Trump.

Fortunately local races in West Marin were far more polite than the presidential race despite being hard fought. Many voters had strong feelings about the Board of Supervisors candidates, but neither side saw the election as an armageddon.

political-signs

Local elections can be messy, as has been evident along West Marin’s roadways for the last few months. Hopefully, all those messes will soon disappear. Residents unhappy with roadside campaign signs tore down some of them even before the election.

In the end, Fourth District supervisor candidate Dennis Rodoni beat Dominic Grossi 53 percent to 47 percent. In the race for Superior Court judge, Sheila Lichtblau beat Michael Coffino 52 percent to 48 percent.

The high-light, so to speak, of the California election returns was the passage of Proposition 64, which by a 56 percent to 44 percent vote legalized recreational marijuana. Also highly significant was the passage of Proposition 63; by 62.6 percent to 37.4 percent, Californians approved a variety of gun controls.

As the national election results dribbled in last night, I found them so worrisome, I stopped watching the news. By the time I went to bed, the presidential battle had been lost, and I dozed off wondering if I should move back to Canada, where my mother was born, or hunker down in place. For the moment, I’m opting for hunkering, but that could change.

november-sunset

Sadly, I can see the lamps going out all over America, and I fear we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime, to paraphrase British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey on the eve of World War I.


raccoon-snoozing

 

 

Like Rocky Raccoon (right), what we all need now is a good rest.