Thursday, January 30, 2014

Finally, A Name That Fits

Why settle for boring old anonymous hurricane names -- Alfred, Katrina, Sandy.  What's needed here are hurricane names that could, say, honor Climate Change Deniers.  What better?  So the weisenheimers at have put together a sampling of how that might look.

"Laugh it up, Hurricane Boehner," at: 


Monday, January 27, 2014

Dressing Room

Calhoun's Cannons for January 27, 2014

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.
                            Justice Louis Brandeis

Is it time to bring back Pat's "Respectable Republican Cloth Coat?"  Remember Richard Nixon and the "Checkers" speech?  If you're too young to remember, Senator Nixon, the 1952 vice presidential candidate, was in political trouble, accused of being a crook by taking "gifts" from "rich friends." In desperation, he went on TV to declare that, unlike some of his sleazier opponents in high office, he had no need of "rich friends" to gift him with fancy fur coats since his wife, Pat, was perfectly content wearing her "respectable Republican cloth coat."  And as for the gift of the little dog, Checkers, well, he wasn't going to give that back because his daughters loved the dog.

The speech was that bizarre Nixonian mix of hostility and Uriah Heepishness, but it saved his bacon, and the rest was history. But, looking at our latest gaggle of Politicians Going Bad, I have to ask: Is it time to bring back respectable cloth coats?

I mean, look at poor Mrs. Virginia Governor.  Her hubby gets elected and there she is, surrounded by the ultra-rich, their wives dripping with jewels and swanning around in couture while she's got to go to the balls in some off-the-rack gown from Bloomingdale's because that's all she can afford on her husband's crappy little Governor's salary.  And, unlike Pat Nixon, she's not contented, so what's a girl to do?

Well, Mrs. Virginia Governor hit the credit cards for herself and her hubby and both of them started raking in the boodle from a good "friend" who was more than happy to oblige.  And did we mention said "friend" at the time was also promoting his dubious herbal supplement business -- not, of course, that that would ever, ever be part of the "friendship" equation, mind you.  No, no, he was just helping out his very-dear-very-good "friend, the Gov.  And anyway, "friends" and "access" is how you do politics, Baby.

So, there we are.  Mr. & Mrs. Virginia Governor indicted on various corruption charges and the press is now blaming the greedy wife, because, if she had been like Pat Nixon, that "respectable Republican cloth coat" would have been good enough for her and we wouldn't be in this mess, Thank you very much.

Meanwhile, over in Davos, Switzerland, at the annual meeting of the mega-mega rich, the attendees, who rig the game and set the agendas that ensure that, like cream, the loot rises to the top and off  into secret Swiss and Caribbean bank accounts, were sipping champagne and slurping up caviar while pulling fake long faces for the Press (who were also scarfing down quail eggs and celery foam) at a potentially troubling number that was making the rounds:  85 people hold more wealth in their hands than 3.5 billion people.

85 versus 3.5 billion.  That's an easy number for the general public to get their minds around. That's why the Davosians surely felt a shudder and a chill.  Had they finally begun to hear the sound of sabots clumping up the stairs, and the ominous clicking of Madame DeFarge's knitting needles?

In our insane addiction to greed, and wealth, fame and the rigged game, we have beggared ourselves and the country and here we sit, part of the 3.5 -- a second-rate nation, all crumbling infrastructure, and unemployed poor shuffling our meager food-stamps, while Mrs. Virginia Governor gifts her husband with a Rolex because we've  forgotten that public servants are supposed to serve the public, not the other way around.

And so I ask, is it time for us to make respectable cloth coats -- Republican or Democratic -- the new ideal?  There are hard times coming, the seas are rising and The 3.5 are on the move.  Wretched excess and a Rolex won't save us from what's ahead.  Perhaps a sober brain, a national safety net, sturdy shoes and a serviceable jacket will.    

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Your Sunday Haiku

                               A red moon goes down 
                                    late in the west . . . 
                                   shadows flow eastward 
                              and vanish

Monday, January 20, 2014

"Wall Street" Explained

"Follow the Money."  That's almost always a sound course of action if you want to know what's really going on. And where it leads, far too often, is into the heart of darkness collectively known as "Wall Street."  A term that also includes people like the Koch Brothers, Exxon, Wal-Mart, or any Mega-Mega enterprise.  Somewhere, in the center of those entities are clones of the author of this confessional piece, or a variant thereof. As near as I can tell, reading this, the author is not a sociopath.  So, there's clearly hope for him that his epiphany, his moment of grace, will stick, and he will be able to save his soul.  But for the sociopathic money addict, alas, there will never be a moment of grace.  That's what makes them so dangerous to civilized life.  Or, with climate change already upon us, so utterly deadly to life on this planet.

Follow the money.  Follow the money addict. Always.  At the link below.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Your Sunday Prayer

Dear God,
Would you please send us some of this?  Not too much all at one time, please.  I’m not Noah, and the last thing we need are floods and mudslides on top of drought.   But enough.  And make it a soft rain, with some breaks in between so the earth can soak it all in.  A nice soft rain that will fill our reservoirs and give the dying oaks a drink .  And the thirsty sequoias, which are now spitting cotton. Plus, you should see the matilija poppies out in front of the house.  Nothing phases them.  They’re as hardy as iron, yet they’re looking positively wan for want of water. No doubt about it:  Drought.

I know our own stupidity and greed have put us in this predicament.  We’ve trashed the beautiful world you gave us and are still in thrall to the Koch Brothers and Exxon oil.  But you made us dumb as posts and unable to connect dots.  So, maybe in addition to rain,  could you you please see your way clear to fix our brains a bit as well?   I’m just sayin’ . . .

Thank you and Amen

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Buh-Bye, Zelig

Able Maldonado, former state legislator and lieutenant governor, got a quasi-obituary in the L.A. times Friday.  He's exiting his race for governor.  He's going to " . . . step away for a while and spend more time with my family and stay a little closer to home helping my community, as an active private citizen."

Translation:  He's not crazy enough for what the Republican Party has become.  Same thing happened to Sam Blakeslee, except Sam drank the Republican's Krazy Kool Aide and, like the vampire's bite, became one of them for a while until I'm sure he woke up one dark night and realized he'd sold his soul for a handful of twigs and got the hell out of Dodge.  He's now doing wonderful work here with his foundation and talented kids at Cal Poly and I'm sure they'll all discover or invent something that will save the world -- something politicians, especially bat-shit-crazy ones never could do.

For a while there, Abel was circling the same danger.  As Lt. Gov. he made sure he was always at Gov. Schwarzenegger's elbow.  Like Woody Allen's movie, "Zelig," there he was, like a remora fish, attached to The Governator's side, turning up everywhere.  Ah, such ambition, a man on the way up, the bright star in the Republican Firmament.  Until he actually cast a sane vote concerning a modest tax rise to solve critical fiscal problems that were hobbling the State, and thereby crossed Grover Norquist's blood- line and suddenly he was Anathema! Branded a traitor and taken out behind the barn by the Krazy Kool Aide Krewe and drummed out of the corps. No Goodies For You!

Unlike Sam, Abel must have missed his big sharks and all those photo-ops, so he kept trying to get back into the picture.  Bad call.  He should have said, "The Republican Party has gone crazy. I'm going home until sanity returns, then I'll be back." But he didn't and so thrashed around with fund-raising and efforts to get into the game.  But the Big Un-Fix was in for him. Finally, he came to his senses and, like Sam, went home to reclaim his soul. 

Good for him. Maybe he can call Sam and can come join Sam's foundation and help some kids invent something that will save the world.

Recall?  No Thanks.

The recall against Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons has failed.  I'm not surprised.  People hate recalls, which is why they are seldom successful, and this one was particularly fraught.  And it was fraught because nobody could get the narrative right.  To be successful, recalls have to have a really simply, easy to understand narrative, like "Mayor steals city funds, fees to France."

But this narrative was something like, "Mayor elected to oppose sewer previously approved, opposes sewer previously opposed."  And when he fired two at-will employees but could legally give no reason, that narrative ("He's a big meanie!") fell into the sewer confusion. (Did he fire them for stealing money and eeing to France? No.  Did he fire them for refusing to abide by the Coastal Commission? Maybe? So, what's the big deal? ) 

There followed endless letters to the editor that only muddied the water further. So, bad narrative. And as for the whole mess in the first place, years ago, when Bill Yates was still mayor and the city council was still spending gazillions on trying to come up with a way to skirt around the Coastal Commissions recommendations, I used to attend some of the meetings and during the breaks, I would sidle up to Bill and whisper, "Bill, I have two words for you:  Los Osos."  He'd laugh. 

Hey, I was serious.  Morro Bay learned nothing from Los Osos so the same old wheel kept getting reinvented for mo'money, mo'money.  

Well, Jamie's not out of the woods yet.  His reelection is coming up so it's up to the people of Morro Bay to decide if they want to stay the course and move forward to join another coastal town that will be greatly impoverished by a new sewer, or waste more money trying to stave off that inevitable  impoverishment. 

Pssst, Morro Bay.  Los Osos.  Pass it on. 

Panga, Panga, Panga

A "super" Panga marijuana-running boat, with its dumped cargo, was found abandoned on the Estero Bluffs beach boat.  Let's see, how many does that make?  Seems like every few months the MaryJane runners show up on our coast, get surprised by the various law enforcement guys who are lurking around with their night scopes and infra-red-spotting equipment, waiting like a patient cat in front of a mouse hole for the runners to look up, yelp, then dump their load and boat and scamper away. 

Seems like by this time they'd figure out this whole coastline is booby trapped and go find another place to throw away their expensive cargo. Unless they're smoking their own product and it's making them stupid?   I'm just sayin' . . . 

Choices, Choices

The United Nations committee on the Rights of the Child began grilling the Vatican about it's child abuse record and from Associated Press report, things are not going very well.  The Holy See is a signatory to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and said Convention requires that all signatories take all "adequate measures to protect children from harm."

Naturally, like all United Nation's efforts, such treaties are usually observed more in the breach, which was certainly the case with the Vatican, which is accused of turning a blind eye to thousands of priests who have raped and molested thousands of children for years.  Worse, in addition to the blind eyes, there is ample evidence they actively shielded their pedophile priests from the law and covered it all up in order to protect themselves.

But here's the Vatican's defense, offered by Archbisop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva: " Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican.  Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country."

Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican?  Really?

We'll see about that.  Let an American bishop declare that priests in his diocese can get married (gay and straight alike) and that he will begin ordaining women to serve as priests, then we'll see just how fast the bishop will suddenly become, once again, a "functionary" of the Vatican.

Bottom line in this absurdity is this:  The Catholic Church had a choice between protecting children and protecting itself.  It chose to protect itself.  What the faithful choose to make of that is up to them.  For me, the choice would have been clear:  Feet, make tracks . . . Out the front door.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Not-So-Small Miracle


The elephant seals had returned to their birthing rookery once again.  The Cambria beach was pretty much filled with both seals and tourists, and there were quite a few pups already on the ground.
One of the nearby docents noted a relatively small female had been restless for some time and she thought she was about ready to give birth.  A closer look showed she was starting the process, with the pup’s head just emerging but still in its caul.


In a short while the seal’s water broke and soon a large head appeared. From there it was a struggle for the mother since the pup was really quite large. At one point she raised her pelvis and whapped it on the ground several times as if to dislodge this giant package.  Which ended up banging the pup’s poor head on the ground several times.


Finally, out popped the pup.  He was big and quite exhausted and lay there for quite some time. I’m sure he was likely still dizzy from the head pounding his mom had given him.


A seagull moved in, looking for the afterbirth.  Further down the beach at this time, a huge flock of gulls were mustering and shrieking.  Another pup had just arrived into the world and the gulls were ready to feast.
Meanwhile, the new mother turned to sniff and bark at the pup and he responded weakly as they began the critical voice-recognition bonding process. Getting that right is vital in a crowded rookery filled with barking, bleating seals, since being able to recognize one anothers' particular voice is critical for a pup’s survival. 


But the danger to the pup wasn’t over.  In the upper right corner you can see another female who came over to claim the pup. The docent told me that this often happens.  The interloper in this case already had a pup and perhaps got confused and thought the new one was hers, or sometimes females without pups will go grab one away from a new mother.  If this happens before the new mother has a chance to bond with her pup, she won’t recognize the pup’s voice (and vice versa).  And often the kidnapping female comes to her senses and realizes  this isn’t her pup and abandons it also.  The results of that interaction are tragic for the pup.


Though the new mother was quite a bit smaller than the marauding seal, she staunchly defended her new baby. Luckily the fight didn’t result in the pup getting bitten or crushed by the two battling females.


As the fight continued, with much neck biting, the marauding mom’s own pup started barking and bleating loudly.  She stopped and looked back to her pup and, I think , finally put two and two together since her lunges got less and less sure the louder and more desperate her pup’s cries were.  Eventually she stopped and turned  back to her own pup.


Peace returned to this small spot of sand.  The new mother lurched closer to her pup, snuggled down over him and laid claim . A dangerous passage brought into safe harbor.


Another  not-so-small miracle on the beach.  The little guy’s  journey has begun.  It won’t be easy.  Mother nature is often cruel in her indifference, but she is profligate and for the lucky, she is abundant and miraculous. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Your Sunday Poem

Bonanza!  The Mother Lode!

This time you get to pick your own Sunday Poem.  At the link below a Mary Oliver poem pops up for the simple reason that I randomly typed a number in the little box in the upper right hand corner and Poof! Up came a lovely surprise.

Now, it's your turn. When you finish Mary, put  a number in the box in the upper right and see what happens.  Pick any number.  Your Lucky number.  And be gifted with a poem from the Poetry 180 website, which was created by Billy Collins while he was the United States Poet Laureate. (some of these poems were anthologized in his book, "Poetry 180.")

So why should I have all the fun discovering wonderful poems?  It's your turn. Here they are.  Pick a number for today.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dear Little Brand New Year

Calhoun's Cannons for Jan 10 2014

Dear New Year,

Thanks for shoving Old Father Time out the door.  Now, that was a sucky year.  Let's see if you can do better with this one.  Here's my wish list.  See what you can do.

First, can you please make our Congresspeople smarter?  I mean, Louie Gohmert?  Really?  Maybe with smarter Congresspeople we'll be able to get something done rather than these endless rounds of Stupid.

I know, to get a smarter Congress, we'll need smarter voters, so see what you can do about that as well.  You can start with the people who watch Fox News.  Honest, there's a reason "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart loves that station.  In a word: Comic Fodder. Endless loads of Comic Fodder. The alternate-reality dumbth that spills out of the mouths of so many of their pundits is astoundingly funny, except it stops being funny when I remember that too many viewers actually believe it. And then go vote for people like Louie Gohmert.

I know, I know, we are, in general, a scientifically illiterate nation that also seems to lack a good deal of common sense. Or, as comedian Will Durst put it, " If God has cable, we are the 24-hour doofus network." It's discouraging. So whatever you can do in the coming year to wise up people will be appreciated. It won't take much.  Just the tiniest bit can have a profound effect. 

Like making voters understand that a Senator who votes to cut food stamps for the poor by quoting Scripture about earning food by the sweat of the brow, and also cites a need to save tax payer dollars, while simultaneously collecting sweat-free tax payer-financed farm subsidies for not growing food on his tax-write-off  "farm" is NOT a Senator who's going to vote for policies that will benefit you.  

It would also help if you could make us less scared.  When we get scared, we get mean.  And there's little sadder than mean Americans.  We have an overly inflated high opinion of ourselves, owing to the fake narratives we feed ourselves, so when we get scared we can't reconcile our fake narratives with what we're really feeling.  As a result, we tend to roar off in a fury to bomb some country or turn on one another, aided and abetted by special-interest puppet masters pushing our hot hate buttons. It's not a pretty sight.

Plus, remember, we're a nation armed to the teeth.  And a scared, mean, armed to the teeth nation, Oh, Dear Little New Year, that's not a good combination. So see what you can do to lower the fear factor.  Like somehow reminding everyone that every American has in his or her hand the tools needed to change a crappy year into a better year: A vote.  Stupid Congresses are not created by God.  They're created by us, and we can change them out for a better model.

 I mean, take income inequality, which is a symptom of a system run amok.  It's one of our false narratives that this imbalance is simply a fact of economic life, or some pronouncement from Zeus, so "nothing can be done."  Wrong.  Income inequality is a direct and deliberate result of a whole lot of political policies set in place over the years. Right now we are now harvesting what we have sown.  But our bitter crop can change. Change the policies and you change the inequalities.  Change the inequalities and you change the nation.

So, please Little New Year, see what you can do.  We're Americans.  We can do better and be better, both for ourselves, for one another, and for our country as a whole.

Plus, I don't think anybody could survive a rerun of 2013.  Imagine a year-long repeat of The Duck Dynasty,  another Congressional re-reading of "Green Eggs and Ham," and Miley Cyrus endlessly twerking with a big foam finger. 

And Louie Gohmert.

Surely that would violate the Geneva Conventions on torture.

Monday, January 06, 2014

News From Iowa?

Guess former LOCSD Board member Stan Gustafson is running for office.  And I have to guess his opponent is doing an Oppo search and turned up this piece of Ancient History?  Hmmm, guess nobody can escape the ripple effects of The Hideous Sewer Wars?  Well, good luck to him.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Your Sunday Poem

Hooray!  One of my favorite poets, Billy Collins, has a new book out.  "Aimless Love, New and Selected Poems," Random House, N.Y.  Available at your local bookstore.  Go out an buy some poetry.  The poets will thank you. You will thank them for giving you new language with which to view your world.


There's a possum who appears here at odd times,
often walking up the path to the house
in the middle of the day like a little ghost
with a long tail and a blank expression on his face.

He likes to slip behind the woodpile,
but sometimes he gets to close to the window
where I am standing with a glass in my hand
that I start to review my sins, systematically

going from one commandment to the next.
What is it about him that causes me
to begin an examination of conscience,
calling to mind my failings in this time of reflection?

It could just be the twitching of the tail
and that white face, but his slow priestly pace
also makes a contribution, as do the tiny paws,
more like hands, really, with oposable thumbs

able to carry a nut or dig a hole in the earth
or lift a chalice above his head
or even deliver a document,
I am thinking as he nears the back door,
not merely a subpoena but an order
of excommunication with my name and a date
writtten in fine Italian ink
and signed with a flourish of the papal sash.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Aw, Ron's having way too much fun

Yup, Ron's having a great time.  Here's his latest post: "Tribune Editorial: "The residents of Los Osos" Now Owe Julie Tacker and Lisa Schicker "Everlasting Gratitude." 
... now playing at a SewerWatch near you: at

Well now, that would make an interesting editorial.  How's about it, Tribune?