It’s not easy being a progressive around here

It’s difficult to adhere to the high standards of political purity required of our local progressives, and sometimes even people with the best of intentions stumble.  Take two of our leading lights: Reinette Senum and Jeff “Podunk” Pelline.

Senum has been relatively quiet since that little dust-up last summer when her claim that cops are hired assassins got the town she claims to love unwanted national attention, but she has resurfaced with the announcement that she’s starting a new blog, TheFoghornExpress.com.

She apparently wants to create some separation between herself and the city of Nevada City, where she sits on the city council, so there’s no confusion when she peddles her wacky conspiracy theories or promotes her newest 5-minute crusade. As she proclaims: “My name is Reinette Senum and I am a Human Foghorn.”

Pelline welcomed this new addition to the local blogosphere by noting that “It comes amid a resurgence in the local progressive movement on the heals of the Donald Trump presidency.”

Jeffie was apparently so excited by the announcement–by the way, he was scooped by Russ Steele over at Rebane’s Ruminations–that he missed, or ignored, Senum’s perhaps inadvertent slap at women. Explaining the ground rules of her blog, she wrote:

“Please note, I have the right to change my opinion according to information I receive; I am a woman.”

Talk about perpetuating sexist stereotypes! I wonder what The Union’s progressive columnist Hilary Hodge thinks about that?

Of course, you wouldn’t expect Pelline to pick up on something like that since he’s a fanboy of Uber,  which was the subject of a boycott after an ill-timed promotion at Kennedy Airport gave the appearance of trying to break a taxi strike called to protest Trump’s immigration policy. The boycott, #deleteUber, prompted an estimated 200,000 people to drop the app.

That didn’t bother Podunk, who used the service extensively during a recent trip to Reno. He’s also used Uber in other cities even though its CEO, Travis Kalanick, served on Trump’s economic advisory council and now proclaims surprise that a former female engineer at Uber left because of a nightmarish, sexist work environment.

But that’s what you can expect from these Tesla progressives, who can talk the talk but don’t always walk the walk. Maybe it’s time to #deleteSenumPelline.

Posted in Jeff Pelline, Progressives, Reinette Senum | Leave a comment

Michael Flynn: The spy who’s back out in the cold

Well, there is at least one thing Barack Obama and Donald Trump agree on: Michael Flynn is unfit for government service.

Obama came to that conclusion when he fired Flynn from the top job at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. Trump apparently thought that was a feather in Flynn’s cap, because he immediately embraced him as a supporter during the presidential campaign.

two-spies

Who’s talking to the media?

Flynn got caught up in the spirit of the campaign, leading chants at the Republican National Convention to jail Hillary and even retweeting a story linking her to an alleged child porn ring headquartered at a Washington, D.C., pizza joint. This is the guy Trump wanted as his national security adviser, the guy who filters the intelligence the president hears.

As the former head of the DIA, Flynn surely must have known that the five conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak the day Obama announced he was expelling 35 diplomats would be subject to electronic surveillance. That didn’t stop him from lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the conversations, which ultimately led to his firing.

What’s most interesting about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak is that they all occurred after Obama announced the expulsions and before Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised just about everybody by announcing he wouldn’t retaliate. You have to wonder what Flynn said to the ambassador, and who–if anybody–authorized him to say it.

The Republican chairs of the relevant Congressional committees, showing their lack of a bipartisan backbone, are not interested in pursuing such questions, and the usual conservative media lap-dogs are trying to change the subject by calling for the heads of those who leaked the details about Flynn’s phone calls.

They would like to believe that the leaked information came from former members of the Obama administration, or from Hillary partisans who are in positions to know. That may be the case, but given Trump’s management style and the way his administration has functioned to-date, the information could very well have come from The White House.

Trump’s management style apparently encourages multiple competing views and a walk-in-anytime Oval Office policy. Nobody seems to be managing any of this and, by The Wall Street Journal’s estimate, there are six different power centers operating in The White House.

That might work in private industry, but it just fuels power struggles in Washington, and one way you gain power is by making the other guys look bad. This can be accomplished in part by leaking embarrassing information to the news media, which can be counted on to run with any story it can confirm.

Take the recent leak of the transcripts of the phone calls Trump had with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Australia. Aside from the fact they showed Trump “mischaracterized” the substance of the conversations (no surprise there), you have to wonder what was accomplished by leaking them. My guess is the leak is part of an internal struggle to influence Trump on such foreign policy matters.

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus would normally be expected to impose order among the staff, but apparently hasn’t been given the power to do so. Now he’s catching the blame for all of the chaos that seems to be a daily feature of the administration, and Breitbart News reports that Trump has lost confidence in him.

Who’s Breitbart’s source? They cite “somebody close to the president,” whoever that might be. That’s the way it works in Washington.

Posted in Donald Trump, Government, Media, Politics, Public Policy, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Trump not the first president to defend his daughter

Donald Trump has stirred up his critics again (not that it takes much) by coming to the defense of his daughter Ivanka, criticizing Nordstrom for “unfairly” dropping her line of products.

The upscale department store said it dropped her line because it isn’t selling, but Trump’s toady press secretary, Sean Spicer, is suggesting the decision had more to do with politics than business.

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Harry and Margaret at the piano

(My daughter, a member of Ivanka’s target audience who’s a Nordstrom loyalist when she’s in the country, tells me there’s nothing special about her line of clothing.)

Pops is being criticized for using the Oval Office to advance the family’s business interests, but he’s hardly the first president to come to the defense of his daughter. Take Harry Truman.

Truman’s only child, Margaret, was a budding singer when she performed at a recital in 1950. Paul Hume, music critic of The Washington Post, wrote that “Miss Truman cannot sing very well” and “has not improved over the years.”

That prompted her father to send Hume a letter (on official White House stationery, no less): “Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”

The two men never met and the controversy eventually went away. Both Truman and Hume lived to ripe old ages, and Margaret went on to a successful career as a writer of mystery novels.

Given Donald Trump’s propensity for creating new controversies, this one will go away as well.

Posted in Donald Trump, Politics | 4 Comments

McClintock stands up while LaMalfa bails out

Whether you agree with him or not, you have to give Rep. Tom McClintock credit for facing a room full of hostile constituents at a town hall meeting in Roseville on Saturday.

Tom McClintock

Tom McClintock: Stand-up guy

McClintock answered questions for an hour, and never tried to sugar coat or downplay his position on Obamacare, climate change and other hot-button issues. He needed a police escort out of the building when the meeting was over.

That’s a refreshing change from other Republican congressmen who have canceled town hall meetings, cut short presentations, or sneaked out of the building when confronted by hostile constituents. They are learning that Obamacare has become a third rail of American politics–you’re toast if you touch it.

A cynic–I’ll raise my hand here–would point out that McClintock is in a safe Republican district and doesn’t have to worry about some liberals and progressives who don’t like what he has to say.

new lamalfa

Doug LaMalfa: MIA

The same can be said of Rep. Doug LaMalfa, but he apparently doesn’t have the guts to face hostile constituents. Several groups concerned about the health care issue tried to make an appointment with their congressman, but were told no openings existed for weeks.

So about 75 people visited LaMalfa’s part-time office in Auburn to find nobody there. Notes and messages were placed on the doors and windows, but later removed. The Union tried but couldn’t reach a spokesman for LaMalfa to comment.

At a time when most members of the House are scheduling town hall meetings in their districts, LaMalfa lists none on his official web site. I guess he’s too busy getting his marching orders from the Republican leadership in Washington.

Or maybe he’s just laying low.

Posted in Politics, Public Policy, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Rep. Tom McClintock, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Keep my mouth shut? Maybe after I stop laughing

Top Donald Trump strategist Steve Bannon unloaded on the media recently, suggesting it was “humiliated” by the outcome of the election and is the “opposition party” to the Trump administration.

steve bannon

Steve Bannon: Clueless?

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Bannon told The New York Times, maintaining the media has no clue as to why Trump won the election.

There may be some truth in what Bannon says, but cluelessness is hardly confined to members of the media. Take Sebastian Gorka, a former national security editor at Breitbart News who is known for his hardline views on combating terrorism.

Before he started work as a senior advisor to Bannon, Gorka was stopped at Reagan Airport in Virginia last January when TSA agents found a 9mm pistol in his luggage. Gorka was cited for trying to take a gun onboard a plane and is still facing a criminal charge.

Neither The White House or Gorka would comment on the incident after The Wall Street Journal reported the encounter, so it’s not known if Bannon knew about the incident before he hired Gorka, but he joins a long list of gun owners who apparently don’t understand that you can’t take a gun on a plane.

People just aren’t learning. The Transportation Security Administration reports a record 3,391 guns were confiscated at airport check points last year. The situation figures to get worse since the House repealed an Obama administration rule that barred certain mentally impaired people from owning guns.

Posted in Donald Trump, Government, Media, Politics, Republican Party, Steve Bannon, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Can America’s most hated team win Super Bowl LI?

matt-ryan

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan: Ready to win the Falcons’ first Super Bowl

The New England Patriots enter Sunday’s Super Bowl game against the Atlanta Falcons with two seemingly contradictory distinctions–they’re favored to win the game, and they may be America’s most hated team (football division).

The Patriots are favored primarily because of their sustained excellence since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2001: They’ve won the AFC East title 13 times since then and are appearing in their record ninth Super Bowl (the seventh in the Belichick/Tom Brady era). Teams that are consistently that good deserve respect.

How New England was able to take the title of most hated team in America from Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys is a complex mix of how fans react to success, the personas of the team’s most prominent personalities, and the general conduct of the team and its management.

For some reason, sports fans don’t like teams that are consistent winners (see: New York Yankees), particularly if their team is a consistent loser; ask a Cleveland Browns fan what he thinks of the Patriots. A football team that has won 73 per cent of its games since 2001 is going to generate resentment.

Then there’s the team’s two most prominent employees: Belichick and Brady. By general consensus, Belichick is the best coach in football today, a master at getting the most from the talent available to him. Former coach Bum Phillips could have been talking about Belichick when he said the following about another coach many years ago: “He can take his and beat yours, and then take yours and beat his.”

But Belichick also has the worst personality of any coach in the game. His dour expression at press conferences tell you he’d rather be somewhere else, and his one or two-word answers when he doesn’t mumble reinforce that impression. The only reason he shows up at press conferences is because the NFL mandates it–he’d face huge fines if he didn’t appear.

Brady is a more engaging personality, even if he seems cold and distant. You always get the impression he’s operating from talking points, careful to never say anything revealing or controversial.

He has a reputation for being a whiner–he constantly complains about late hits–and comes across as arrogant, but you probably would too if you were handsome, made $20 million a year playing football, was married to a super model, and had a jet-set lifestyle in the off-season. How many people do you know who attended the Kentucky Derby then jumped on a private jet to make it to Las Vegas in time for the Mayweather-Pacquaio fight?

Brady’s reputation took at hit last season when he was accused of using under inflated balls in cold playoff games, making it easier to grip and throw the ball. He was suspended for the first four games of this season, and Deflategate just added to the team’s reputation for testing the boundaries of the rules if not cheating. (For more on the subject, read http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/09/08/patriots-cheating-suspicions-bill-belichick-tom-brady.)

But the odds makers in Las Vegas aren’t interested in choir boys or saints (unless they’re from New Orleans); they’re trying to figure out who the winners and losers will be. As I write this Saturday, the Patriots are favored by three points (the over/under is a Super Bowl record high 59) because of coaching, experience, and the top-rated defense in the NFL.

The Patriots will face the top-rated offense in the league, the seventh time this match-up has occurred in Super Bowls. The best defensive team has a 5-1 record in the previous games. But New England’s defense isn’t everything it appears to be.

New England faced a who’s who of quarterback mediocrity this season, with an average rating of an NFL-low 83.1. Against the Patriots, the group actually did better, 84.4. The team didn’t face a top-10 quarterback all season, and the three highest-rated it faced during the regular season–Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton–combined for an impressive 106.4 rating in three games.

If the Falcons’ QB, top-rated Matt Ryan, performs at that level in the Super Bowl, he’ll finish the game with a rating of 118.9. The 11 Super Bowl quarterbacks who exceeded that mark are 11-0.

The Patriots clearly have the experience edge–21 players who have appeared in Super Bowls vs. four for Atlanta–and this is generally thought to offer a significant advantage in a game that defines high pressure. As it turns out, experience is meaningless. In the last 40 Super Bowls, 38 teams have held an experience advantage over its opponents. Those teams are 16-22.

The other New England advantage is Belichick, who has been a master at nullifying what the other team does well. The problem here is that Atlanta does a lot of things well. If you stop their ace receiver Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu is equally capable of ruining your day. If you can get to Ryan and shut-down the passing games, the Falcons can give the ball the two excellent runners, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

In short, I think Atlanta has more fire-power than New England can contain. I like the Falcons to win the game.

Posted in Atlanta Falcons, National Football League, New England Patriots, Sports, Super Bowl, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

A bank robbery? Time to call Mr. Crime Stopper!

Some miscreant, apparently scared out of Nevada City by Jeff “Podunk” Pelline, held up the Tri Counties Bank branch on Combie Road Thursday–practically at the front gate of Lake of the Pines!

The thief probably thought The Queen of the Northern Mines (not to be confused with Compton) was off-limits when Pelline, winner of the coveted Mr. Crime Stopper award presented by the third annual You Can’t Make This Stuff Up awards, demanded an investigation of the police department after the Tri Counties branch there was robbed and let it be known that he has the phone number and email address of the sheriff.

(Now that I think about it, there’s a sheriff’s substation about a mile from the bank that was robbed. Where are these guys when you need them? Maybe Podunk can call the sheriff and find out.)

Clearly, Pelline is destined for bigger things in the crime-fighting arena. Instead of sending the Feds to Chicago, maybe President Trump should send Jeffie. He certainly knows how to throw his weight around. Added bonus: We’d get him out of our hair for a while.

Posted in Crime, Jeff Pelline, Nevada City, Uncategorized | 1 Comment