Monthly Archives: September 2021

18 Worries

I’m worried about fires.
Fortunately, it just rained.

I’m worried about getting old.
You still look young to me.

I’m worried that I keep forgetting things.
Nonetheless, you can remember what you wore to the Saperstein’s party, five years ago.

I’m worried that I’m not as spiritual as I was.
You still hunger for peace and justice.

I’m worried that we will run out of water.
The well is okay and it just rained.

I’m worried that you will die before me.
Our marriage contract says we go together.

I’m worried that my children don’t get along.
That’s because they are half French.

I’m worried that we will lose our Democracy.
They still need us on the barricades.

I’m worried about climate change.
Turns out Al Gore was right.

I’m worried that I’ll get dementia, like my sister.
You’re not a bit like your sister.

I’m worried that I’m getting “old lady” skin.
You still look young to me.

I’m worried that all my friends are going away.
Some are; but _____ and _______ are still here.

I’m worried that I’m not reading serious books.
What about “Lust on the Pecos?”

I’m worried that we’re not going to be able to go to Paris.
There’s always Petaluma.

I’m worried that Republicans are taking away the right to vote.
They still need us on the barricades.

I’m worried that  the news is all bad.
Turn up the Bruce Springsteen channel.

I’m worried that we’re not eating enough fresh vegetables.
There’s always chard.

I’m worried that we don’t talk enough.
Hmm. I’m worried that you’re worried.

What Did We Learn From the California Recall?

(Red = “no on recall” county.)

The September 14, 2021, California recall is over and Governor Gavin Newsom won a resounding victory.  What does this portend for California politics? There are four takeaways:

1. Democrats demonstrated they can mobilize their base in an off-election year.  The Republican recall “logic” had two aspects: first, Republicans wanted to get rid of Governor Newsom because of his strong response to the Coronavirus pandemic (the lockdown and mask mandates) and, second, they believed the recall would succeed because  Democrats would not be bothered to vote in an “off” election year.  However, Democrats did mobilize and blocked the recall with 63 percent of the vote.

There had been concern that California’s Latino voters might not show up.  However, Latinos did participate in the recall election and overwhelmingly supported Newsom; that is, voted “no.” ( )

Republicans made three miscalculations.  First, because they didn’t like Newsom, they assumed that some Democrats and many Independents also did not like him.  That turned out not to be the case.  Second, they assumed that most Californians were also anti-vaccination, anti-mask, and anti-mandate.  That was also not the case; most Californians are tired of the pandemic and mad at those who will not get vaccinated, who will not take Coronavirus seriously.  Third, Republicans assumed they could mobilize behind a Trump clone, Larry Elder, and voters would prefer him to Newsom.  That was not the case; a strong majority of voters were horrified by Elder. Check out the CNN exit polls: ( )

(There were moderate Republicans who might have gotten traction with independents and some Democrats; for example, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.  However, Faulconer is now too moderate for mainstream Republicans.)

2. Most of Southern California voted “No” on the recall. This surprising result has consequences for six Republican held congressional seats.

California has 53 Congressional seats, 11 are held by Republicans: 4 of these are in Northern California — above San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield– and the remaining 7 are in Southern California: CA8 (Obernolte), CA 23 (McCarthy), CA25 (Garcia), CA39 (Kim), CA42 (Calvert), CA48 (Steel), and CA50 (Issa). Except for CA 23 (in Kern County), all of these districts opposed the recall. Before the recall, 3 of those congressional districts (CA25, CA39, and CA48) were already prime Democratic targets; perhaps CA8 and CA42 have been added to the list.

If Democrats continue to mobilize Latino voters, this will increase the likelihood of these Republican congressional seats flipping.

3. As a Republican candidate, linking yourself to Trump may be the most expedient thing to do, but it’s not a viable strategy, in California, because it doesn’t attract any crossover votes.  Trump is not popular in California.  For this reason, it didn’t make much sense for Larry Elder to run as a Trump “clone.”  In the upcoming midterm elections, all 11 Republican incumbent members of Congress will be linked to Trump and to Larry Elder.  This may help those incumbents who are in deep red districts, but it won’t help those who are in toss-up districts.

4. Republicans aren’t interested in most of the issues that concern the general California electorate.  One of the factors that hindered Larry Elder was his cavalier attitude about the pandemic.  Elder’s position appeared to be “We don’t need mandates to deal with Coronavirus, this is a matter of personal responsibility. I trust Republicans to do the right thing.”  Most Californians don’t trust individual Republicans to do “the right thing.”  Most Californians feel that individual Republicans have prolonged the pandemic by their irresponsible behavior. (

Elder expressed opinions on a wide-variety of issues: crime, homelessness, education, immigration, etcetera.  His problem was that his positions never gained traction — outside the Republican base — because he didn’t have a realistic plan to deal with the pandemic.  (Elder also took extreme positions on social issues that diverted media attention from his bread-and-butter policy positions; for example Elder said that if he became governor, he would immediately issue an executive order banning all abortions.)

Summary: On November 8, 2022, Gavin Newsom will be up for reelection.  Based upon the September 14th recall results, Newsom will have no viable Republican opponent.  This suggests that Democrats will make a strong showing, in the 2022 midterm election, and probably pickup several house seats.

The New Civil War

On September 14th, Californians will decide whether to recall Governor Newsom.  In a difficult period, this recall is another Republican effort to disrupt democracy, to blow up government.  It’s another manifestation of the new Civil War.

The latest 538 polls ( indicate that the recall will fail.  If this occurs, it will be due to the fact that Democrats mobilized and that they have been willing to spend millions of dollars defeating the recall.  If the recall fails, it will likely be the result of conservative radio commentator, Larry Elder, becoming the leading Republican recall choice.  Elder is a Trump acolyte.  If he were to “win” the recall contest, he’d be able to issue “executive orders.”  Elder has promised to issue an executive order banning all abortions in California; he also would outlaw mask mandates and other common-sense public health measures to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a period where Californians are concerned about climate-change disaster (fire and drought), Covid-19, housing, and other issues, the Republican party wants to blow up government.  This summer, nihilism has become the dominant GOP theme.  In Red states, such as Texas, while the Republican governor has failed to protect citizens agains the pandemic, GOP operatives have taken draconian steps, such as banning abortion.

This has made a difficult period much worse.  The latest PBS News/Marist poll ( ) shows that two-thirds of respondents believe “democracy is under threat.”  As we might expect, the poll results are heavily influenced by Party affiliation: 87 percent of Republicans believe the country is NOT going in the right direction; while 87 percent of Democrats believe the country is going in the right direction.

What’s happening?  Why are Republicans so negative; so destructive?

There are three explanations, the politics of grievance, ideology, and greed.

Grievance: Donald Trump has had political success mobilizing the politics of resentment. At the core of this collective resentment is a sentiment shared by many Trump voters, the belief they have lost their shot at the American dream because others have played “the game” unfairly.  That is, Red voters believe they are economically and socially disadvantaged because some groups — such as women and “people of color”  — have received preferential treatment.  These Red voters have lost faith in the democratic process and, therefore, believe only “a strong leader” can save them.

Many Trump voters cling to the belief that Trump is the strong leader they have been waiting for.  Further, they believe he was cheated out of a win in 2020.  A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll ( found: “A majority of Republicans still believe Donald Trump won the 2020 U.S. presidential election and blame his loss to Joe Biden on illegal voting…The May 17-19 national poll found that 53% of Republicans believe Trump, their party’s nominee, is the “true president” now, compared to 3% of Democrats and 25% of all Americans.”

Because of their suspicion of government, in general, and their belief they have been cheated, many Trump voters believe that the January 6h “Insurrection” was not the serious event portrayed by the media.  A recent NBC News poll ( ) found that “Forty-six percent of adults say the attack has been exaggerated to discredit former President Trump and his supporters,”  This belief is held by 82 percent of Republicans.

Many Trump voters continue to be angry, to believe that they have been cheated, and lied to by the Federal Government.

Ideology: Although the level of Republican anger feels new, the underlying ideology is familiar. The first American Civil War was precipitated by a dispute regarding states’ rights and slavery,  The new Civil War involves a dispute about states’ rights and human rights.

Because of the widespread Republican belief that Trump “won” the 2020 election, the GOP leaders have asserted “states’ rights” in response.  For example, they have enacted draconian restrictions on voting rights.  As another example, Red states like Florida and Texas have defied Federal Public Health advice on vaccinations, masks, and social distancing. Finally, Red States are enacting new legislation restricting abortion rights.

Many observers described the Trump regime as “the new confederacy” because of its demonstrated preference for white men and its antagonism to women and “people of color.”  Many of us believe that Trump is a misogynist and a racist.  Predictably, Trump has responded to his 2020 election defeat by lashing out at women and people of color.  He’s despicable.  And his presence as the head of the Republican Party has caused many GOP partisans to adopt their own despicable stance.

Republicans seek to establish a confederacy where there is a weak central government and each state would establish their own definition of citizenship and the attendant rights. In this new confederacy, each state would establish their own environmental and business standards.

Greed:Of course, behind any political movement is money.  Donald Trump would not continue to be a political presence if he did not have the backing of wealthy donors. Trump’s funders include executives with conservative media organizations (such as “the Epoch Times” affiliated with the Falun Gong organization), fossil-fuel companies, real-estate developers, financial services companies, and others.

What do these donors want? The common thread that runs through these Trump loyalists is the desire for lower taxes and reduced government regulation.  They wholeheartedly get onboard the “blow up government” express because they resent taxation and government oversight of their business sector.  They can support notions such as viewing mask mandates as an infringement of individual freedom, because they espouse a libertarian philosophy that maximizes personal responsibility.  They see Trump as a “means” to their end game.  And this end game is, in effect, the establishment of a new confederacy.

Summary:  It’s not your imagination.  These are hard times.  Made more difficult by the Republican push to blow up democracy.  Tighten your seat belts, we’re flirting with civil war,

Trust Exercises

I’ll hold her.
She’s beautiful

You’re standing.
Go ahead sweetheart
Take a step
I’ve got you.

You don’t need training wheels
Just keep pedaling.
Steer straight ahead
I’ll keep you from falling.

Don’t worry
I’ll catch you.
Jump in the pool and
Swim to where I’m standing.

Close your eyes
Fall backwards
Into my arms.

Take a deep breath
You know your lines.
Just pretend
The audience isn’t there.

This song is a cappella,
Your voice is strong
We’ll start
With your solo.

The only way
to find out
Is to walk up and
talk to him.

Would you like to dance?
Take my hand
Follow my lead.

This party is boring.
Why don’t we
Take a walk
And get to know each other?

I was wondering
If you
Would be my date
For the prom.

A group of us
Are going skiing.
Would you like to
Go with me?

Next year
I’m going to rent off campus.
Would you like to
live with me?

You should go med school at Stanford.
After I graduate
I could live there
and get a job.

I love you,
It’s time
for us
to marry.

I’ll hold her.
She’s  beautiful

Afghanistan: 10 Takeaways

On August 30th, The United States military left Afghanistan.  This departure ended the longest war in our history, the 20-year US presence in Afghanistan.  Our military command announced: “Over an 18-day period… U.S. and coalition aircraft combined to evacuate more than 123,000 civilians.” There are ten takeaways from this experience.

1. The US presence in Afghanistan began with national unity and ended with divisiveness. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States was traumatized.  Congress wanted to do something and therefore passed the “Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States” — an authorization that led to the US military operation in Afghanistan.   On September 14, 2001, when Congress considered the  joint authorization of military force, only Representative Barbara Lee opposed it.

20 years later, the United States is divided. The latest Pew Research polling ( indicates that the majority of Americans (54 percent) support the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, but 42 percent oppose this, and 4 percent are not sure.  (Not surprisingly, attitudes about Afghanistan are split along Party lines.)  42 percent of respondents feel that Joe Biden has done a poor job “handling the situation in Afghanistan.”

The national Republican leadership opposed the evacuation.  Speaking on Fox News, Senate Minority Leader McConnell called the decision to withdraw the U.S. from Afghanistan “one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history… We leave behind exactly what we went in to solve 20 years ago.” Republicans continue to be the party of No: no evacuation, no vaccination.

2. The War in Afghanistan has ended but the War on Terror continues.  The US went into Afghanistan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and the others responsible for the 9/11 attacks.  In May of 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan.  Most of the other original Al Qaida leaders have been captured or are dead.

On August 31st, Biden observed ( ): “This is a new world. The terror threat has metastasized across the world, well beyond Afghanistan. We face threats from al-Shabab in Somalia, al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria and the Arabian Peninsula, and ISIS attempting to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and establishing affiliates across Africa and Asia.”  In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen an Al Qaida variant in Afghanistan, ISIS-K; on August 26th, they took credit for the huge suicide bombing at the Kabul airport.  Biden said, “We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries. We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it. We have what’s called Over The Horizon capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground, or very few if needed.”

It will take a while to determine whether our total withdrawal from Afghanistan was the right step to take in the ongoing war on terror.  I think it was, but many Republicans disagree.

3. The US evacuated most but not all critical evacuees.  In his 8/31 speech, President Biden touted the effectiveness of the evacuation.  He indicated that more than 5500 Americans had been evacuated and somewhere between 100-200 remained in Afghanistan,  Biden explained, “Most of those who remain are dual citizens, long time residents, [who] earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan.”

Republicans are apoplectic that some Americans remain.  It will take a while to determine how effective the evacuation actually was.

4. We’ve taken a critical step towards a new foreign policy.  In his August 31st speech, Joe  Biden talked about ending “the forever war.”  He said, “As we turn the page on the foreign policy that has guided our nation in the last two decades, we’ve got to learn from our mistakes. To me there are two that are paramount. First, we must set missions with clear, achievable goals. Not ones we’ll never reach. And second, I want to stay clearly focused on the fundamental national security interest of the United States of America.”

This is potentially a big deal: a policy shift that will see a reduction in Us foreign bases and a reduction in the DOD budget.

5. The US may have lost prestige.  There’s been a lot of talk suggesting that the United States has lost international prestige, because of the tumultuous withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Perhaps, but to the best of my knowledge, all of our allies pulled out before our last troops left.  (Politico reported that our additional support of UK evacuations set up the August 26th suicide bombing.)  Hmm.  These same allies were already pissed off by Trump’s unilateral deal with the Taliban.

6. This was Trump’s fault.  Biden said, “By the time I came to office the Taliban was in it’s strongest military position since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country…
So we were left with a simple decision, either [carry] through on the commitment made by the [Trump] administration and leave Afghanistan, or say we weren’t leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war. That was the choice, the real choice between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war and I was not extending a forever exit.”

7. Biden conducted a level-headed cost-benefit analysis:  “I refuse to continue to war that was no longer in the service of the vital national interest of our people… After more than $2 trillion spent in Afghanistan…And most of all, after 800,000 Americans served in Afghanistan, I’ve traveled that whole country, brave and honorable service. After 20,744 American service men and women injured. And the loss of 2,461 American personnel, including 13 lives lost just this week. I refused to open another decade of warfare in Afghanistan” “We see it in the grief born by their survivors. The cost of war, they will carry with them their whole lives. Most tragically, we see in the shocking and stunning statistic that should give pause to anyone who thinks war can ever be low grade, low risk or low cost, 18 veterans on average who die by suicide every single day in America.”

8. This was not the disaster Republicans predicted: On September 29th, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said: “The parade of horribles are about to unfold … We’re leaving thousands of Afghan allies behind who fought bravely with us. We’re going to leave hundreds of American citizens behind. The chance of another 9/11 just went through the roof.”  Graham is wrong.

On August 31st, conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted: “Trump REPEATEDLY demanded that we bring our soldiers home, but only President Biden had the balls to do it.”  She described Trump as a “Wuss.”

9. The 20-year Afghanistan War was marked by Intelligence failures.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that we’ve seen massive intelligence failures for the last few months; the entire war has been marked by intelligence failures. Late in November 2001, Osama bin Laden and many Al Qaeda fighters were cornered in the remote Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. Then President George W. Bush made the decision to capture bin Laden by relying upon Afghani mercenaries.  This didn’t succeed, because of bad intelligence.  And on and on.

In July. Joe Biden said this about the withdrawal of American troops: “it’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.   Together, with our NATO Allies and partners, we have trained and equipped… nearly 300,000 current serving members of the Afghan National Security Force… We provided our Afghan partners with all the tools, training, and equipment of any modern military.  We provided advanced weaponry….  But most critically, as I stressed in my meeting just two weeks ago with President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah, Afghan leaders have to come together and drive toward a future that the Afghan people want and they deserve.”  At the time US intelligence believed that the Afghani forces would withstand the resurgence Taliban.  Our intelligence was wrong.

10. Biden’s approval rating has taking a hit, but it won’t last.  The latest 538  poll summary shows that 46.2 percent approve of Biden’s performance and 47.9 percent disapprove — the first time, since taking office, that Biden has been “underwater.”

BB prediction: Joe Biden is a leader.  He will weather this storm, and his approval ratings will go  up.