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A stalwart of the Far Right warns Trump of “legal peril”



It’s unusual for Fox’s right wing opinionators to say how much trouble Trump is in because of RussiaGate and the Mueller investigation. Instead, they whistle past the graveyard, pretending all is well and he’s doing a great job, ha ha, and when he does something so stupid that not even they can defend, they bait and switch to an attack on Hillary or Obama or Jimmy Kimmel. After all, given the gathering likelihood that Trump broke the law, Fox–which is not a real news station–wouldn’t want to upset their viewers, the same people, you’ll recall, about whom Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and they wouldn’t care.

But lo and behold, someone at Fox just came out and said the emperor has no clothes—and it’s one of that “news” station’s most belligerently conservative talking heads, Andrew Napolitano, who has some pretense to understanding legal issues. The network calls him “Judge” Napolitano, which is technically correct: he was a Superior Court judge for eight years.

His history at Fox is checkered. In 2012, Fox fired him (according to InfoWars), but he continued to appear as an occasional commentator, only to be dropped from the network a second time, last March, for his claim that Obama wiretapped Trump at Trump Tower—an allegation for which proof has never been provided. Somehow, though, Napolitano keeps surfacing at Fox, Dracula-like. In his latest incarnation he has issued a stark and (for him) surprising warning to Trump: there is a tightening and frightening legal noose around him.”

Napolitano examines what is known of Mueller’s investigation (“very aggressive”), and Trump’s legal defense team (“incompetent”), and wonders if Trump grasps the gravity of the legal peril that is beginning to show up around him.”

If the rightwing intelligentsia, of which Napolitano is a part, that gave Trump a few shreds of intellectual credibility is afraid, that is very serious for him. It’s a slippery slope he greatly fears.

Still, Trump’s base stands by their man; in their eyes, he can do no wrong. If he’s indicted, we can expect them to fight back with all the strength at their disposal—which is considerable. Which leads to a thought experiment.

Let’s say the indictment comes sometime next year, before the midterm elections. Mueller issues his report; it is scathing, and accompanied by a Grand Jury indictment of Trump for, say, obstruction of justice. Democrats go wild with glee. Embarrassed Republicans vary in their reactions, with most withholding comment until they can figure out which way the wind is blowing.

But the base isn’t known for withholding comment. These people are not shy about expressing themselves (just read through their comments on any Breitbart article). They’re angry as hell and not gonna take it anymore. So here’s their Great Leader accused of serious crimes. The nation is in an uproar. What is that base going to do?

They’ll growl and snarl. They’ll demonstrate. They’ll write outraged letters to editors and post angry comments online. But that’s pretty much all they can do—just as the Left is pretty limited in its options when it’s up in arms over something. Neither side is ready or able to go beyond public expressions of outrage and complaining to pollsters. After all, what would such a “beyond” look like for the Right? Armed rebellion? Attacks on “fake news” companies or local Democratic offices? Political assassinations? General strikes? We’ve seen these things in faltering countries when there are political crises, but nothing of that sort here.

Not yet.

But I have a feeling we’re about to. The tea party/Breitbart/white supremacist Trumpites’ paranoia level is bursting through their skulls. And who knows what these crazies are capable of when they’re angry, organized and armed?

By the way, I give Trump credit for handling the North Korean problem pretty well. I know that Democrats aren’t supposed to give him credit for anything, but really, he’s been tough on them, as he should be. I like to think any Democratic president would have been tough on them, too. I don’t think Obama would have resorted to the bombast that Trump did, with “Rocket Man” and all that stupid stuff. But Obama would have been just as diligent–although the right will never admit that, because in their blind racist fury, they can’t give him credit for anything. Trump simply did what he had to do. Despite that, he remains a horrible, awful president, a deplorable role model for our children, a pathological liar who, it looks like, broke all kinds of laws. I continue to believe he will not legally last through his term.

Have a great weekend!

The wacko Right’s hottest hot-button issues, according to Breitbart



To know what white supremacists are pissed off by on any given day, you need look no further than Breitbart’s Facebook page, which claims to have 45 million monthly droolers readers. We can start with the assumption that its editors wake up every morning with one thought in mind: “How can we rile our angry white male fans?” So they scour the Internet for stuff that’s guaranteed to make a hater’s head explode. Here are yesterday’s top muckraking stories. And, for an extra treat, I include the Funniest/Stupidest Comment on each post (with spelling and punctuation errors uncorrected):

Venezuela. It’s a socialist state, so that puts it squarely in Breitbart’s cross-hairs. Bannonites only like socialism when it’s Big Government telling people what they can and can’t do in their bedrooms!

Funniest/stupidest comment: This is the ultimate goal of the deranged left. To rip the constitution, make a new one in their dictatorial eutopia. They’re using the illegals, minorities, and when they’ve achieved their ultimate goal they’ll cast them out and say, yeah u guys get in line with the rest of them too.

Mike Pence talking at the U.N. Breitbart’s been making nice to him because they know he’s likely to be President sooner or later.

Funniest/stupidest comment: No Muslim in our government. Get them out America first no Sharia law in the USA”

Obama. Would a day at Breitbart be complete without new attacks and insults to the 44th President?


Benedict Cumberbatch. Why is the handsome young movie star on Breitbart’s attack list? It has to do with Syrian refugees, whom he’s expressed sympathy for. Breitbart never heard of a refugee they didn’t despise. Hence, the hating on Cumberbatch.

Funniest/stupidest comment: Yeah bring ’em in, so that they’ll be able to plot the next bombing, just like they do in England! Don’t put the cat among the pigeons!!”

An eight-year old who “took a knee” at a youth football game. Breitbart has led the war on Colin Kaepernick. Now that “taking a knee” is spreading across the country and support for Colin is mounting, Breitbart’s editors are frothing at the mouth with indignation. How dare that child! His parents must be snowflake libtards!

Funniest/stupidest comment: This is country is in trouble. We are teaching these kids disrespect. I hope you can speak russian. We will see how they will handle disrespect.”

Children’s cartoons. Somebody claims to have seen “a penis” in a cartoon on Netflix, and the prurient Right is having conniptions! God forbid they should get half as upset by their president’s sexual predations on women.

Funniest/stupidest comment: The comments on this page are proof this culture has gone to hell…..a clear and obvious penis on a children’s show and it’s okay with you. These are the same people who think its okay for all these female teachers to sleep with 15yr old boys.”

Chris Christie. Does anyone care about him anymore? Breitbart does. The Governor said something nasty about Steve Bannon, so Breitbart is spitting back.

Funniest/stupidest comment: This fucktards was the darling of the Washington establishment rinos need I say anymore than that . Shut your face fat fuck , YOU ARE THE PROBLEM …”

Transgendered people. The Pentagon is backing off Trump’s stupid ban on Trans folks in the military, with the military stating they’ll continue to pay for reassignment surgery for the time being. Which, predictably, outrages Breitbart’s white males, who are hairy chest-beaters and approve of one of their own who likes to grab women’s genitals.

Funniest/stupidest comment:I do not believe this…if its true…Obama did that shit…don’t try to make it look like Trump and Mad Dog [i.e. Mattis] are for this Shit..”

Leonardo DiCaprio. Another libtard Hollywood star the Right loves to bash, even as they line up to see his movies. What did Leo do to earn Bannon’s wrath? He donated $20 million of his own money to eco-friendly projects.

Funniest/stupidest comment:How about all that eco damage that DOUCHE boy does with his life style ?? DOUCHE boy needs to get over himself – get a life and get out of our lives !!!”

John Kerry. The former Secretary of State had the lésé majesté to criticize Trump’s bellicose “Rocket Man” speech at the U.N. and what does he get for it? Breitbart accuses him of “making America last.”

Funniest/stupidest comment: You were stupid before Trump was elected and you still are! Sit down and shut up! You have nothing to say that makes a difference to anyone in America!Trump 2020🇺🇸 MAGA”

Gov. Jerry Brown. My governor, the most successful California governor in history, is leading the national effort to protect Dreamers. So it’s inevitable the xenophobes at Breitbart are hating on him.

Funniest/stupidest comment:Now this clown🤡and his staff are suing Trump for the border wall! Hey Brown, WHY don’t you take care of ALL the homeless in California first before you WASTE taxpayers money are frivolous lawsuits???😡👎👎👎👎

And—it wouldn’t be a new day without an assault on Hillary Clinton! Yesterday it was for—well, who the hell cares what it was for? The misogynists can always invent some new lie.

Funniest/stupidest comment:Oh Hillary is much worse than that I hear she smells like rotten cabbage and urine because she refuses to bath everyday!”

And there you have it, Breitbart’s editors’ top stories, and the funniest, stupidest comments from their classy, articulate readers. These people are clearly running scared of the impeachment train that’s heading towards their president, and cheap, garbage nonsense is all they have to stop it.


Why don’t the most privileged of white men understand the concept of white privilege?



I’m a white male, but I never bought into those charges of white male privilege you hear, with increasing frequency, bandied about on the Left. While I understood that the history of America—and, indeed, of the Western world—is one of the domination of other races, ethnicities and of women by white men, I never felt particularly privileged because

  1. I wasn’t. My parents had no money, and I never had any money.
  2. Besides, even as a white man, I was way, way down on the totem pole. I was short, in a country and culture that has negative views of short men, and I was gay. Being gay, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up and before I came out, was very difficult. One certainly didn’t feel “privileged’ in any sense of the word. Hated, yes. Feared and loathed. Discriminated against. Those are hardly feelings that would foster a sense of privilege.

Still, the concept of white privilege has become almost incessant these days. You hear it broached whenever a question of race arises, which is pretty much every day. The theory, as I understand it, is that even if a white person, and particularly a white male, doesn’t feel especially privileged, he or she actually is, because the system is greased towards white people, and against people of color. I will concede that I have struggled with this theory, and continue to struggle with it. And yet, the argument concerning white privilege always strikes a certain resonance in my mind. Part of it is irrefutable: I know from history that white men conquered most of the known world and then ruled it in such a way as to ensure their continued dominance. Who could deny that? Still, in the end, I always look at my own life, which has been so challenging to me in so many ways, and I think: Man, if I’m privileged, I’d hate to experience being un-privileged!

So I’m a little confused. But one thing that helps me put all this into perspective is when I come across another white man who seems so clueless, so ornery and devoid of feeling for under-privileged people, that it allows me to see actual white privilege demonstrated in a stark, brazen manner. I frequently have that sense when reading or hearing denizens of the Right who support this current president. Often, I see it in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, which is a bastion of white malehood; and for the epitome, or rather, the nadir of this expression of white privilege, you need look no further than yesterday’s op-ed piece by William McGurn.

These rightwing Trumpists have lately been flailing away at the anti-Confederate statue movement, which is right in their wheelhouse, and while it’s already old news, McGurn resurrects it to lash out at what he calls “the Democratic left” which “hunts for hate” by “railing at dead white hateful males,” the word “hateful” obviously used sarcastically. McGurn creates a false narrative: he blames New York Mayor de Blasio for wanting to remove the vestiges of Confederacy worship, while castigating him for every problem New York has: the public schools, the minimum wage, welfare—as if a Mayor can’t deal with social issues on the one hand and also be in favor of removing Confederate statues. But rightwingers like McGurn rejoice in throwing up smokescreens to deflect attention from real issues. Trump does it all the time.

So I look at a guy like McGurn, a bespectacled Baby Boomer like me, white, a New Yorker, and all I see, to tell you the truth, is a guy who just can’t let himself feel what Black people (and many others) feel when they see a statue or monument to Lee, or Stonewall Jackson, or any of the other heroes of the never-say-die white supremacists, who have nursed their grievance at losing the Civil War for 150 years, and show no signs of accepting the final verdict. And I wonder: What the hell is wrong with William McGurn? Does he not have an ounce of empathy? Is he so sure of himself—that Democrats like Mayor de Blasio are “dunces” who are “grandstanding” when they question the public display of these monuments? Surely this is an issue worth talking about. Surely, when so many of our friends and neighbors feel so strongly, we ought to listen to them. Yes, it can be a difficult conversation–but you have to have these tough talks if you don’t want to live in an echo chamber, and I don’t.

If white men like McGurn would get as upset with Trump for his sexual predation, his lies, his sullying of the presidency, his misogyny (which is getting worse every day), and, yes, his likely collusion with the Russians, I might keep an open mind when he argues in favor of Confederate symbols. But his outrage is selective, his insults are too predictable, and so his credibility is pretty much zero.

Trump the woman-hater



Trump’s nasty video of him hitting Hillary Clinton in the head with a bad golf shot is indication enough that he’s a sick misogynist, and so are his followers.

What is wrong with that man? It’s easy enough to call him a “misogynist.” I do it all the time. The word means, literally, “hatred of women, especially by a man.” It comes from the Greek miso (hatred) and the root -gyny, a term for “women” that finds itself in such words as “gynecology” and “androgyne.”  

The word “misogyny’ dates back to the early 17th century, when it was used by a man named Joseph Swetnam, who is usually described as a “pamphleteer,” which was that era’s version of a talk show radio host (pamphlets being the only form of mass communication, although one might also say pamphlets were the Twitter of Swetnam’s day). Swetnam was a woman hater, and his most famous pamphlet was a screed he entitled The Arraignment of Lewde, idle, forward, and unconstant women: Or, the vanitie of them, choose you whether” (1615).

Just why Swetnam hated women is unclear, although according to scholars, “portrayals of women as monstrous in the English popular press of the second half of the seventeenth century” were common.

Swetnam’s rage against women burns through the printed page of his tract. He begins his piece with the reason for writing it: I being in a great choler against some women (I mean more than one); and so in the rough of my fury, taking my pen in hand…to entangle myself with such vermin.” He knows he is about to say awful things, and asks straight-out for some sympathy. If I be too earnest, bear with me a little,” he pleads, and then proceeds to his bill of particulars against women. “Many [are] so bad, that in my conceit if I should speak the worst that I know by some women, I should make their ears glow that hears me, and my tongue would blister to report it.”

How bad are women? They are “two-headed Dogs,” “adders, serpents and snakes,” “scorpions,” “lascivious and crafty, whorish, thievish, and knavish.” Much of the pamphlet is a dire warning against marriage; it is not known if Swetnam himself ever married, although he was on record as having a daughter, Elizabeth, about whom nothing is known except the date of her death: 1626, five years after her father’s own demise. Swetnam’s pamphlet was a best-seller by the standards of the time: there were ten editions by 1637, with new editions appearing through at least 1807, leading an American scholar to conclude, “The lasting power of Swetnam’s pamphlet in the fast moving world of print indicates the fact it must have carried some resonance with its readers.”

Indeed, it carries resonance today in Trump Land. In their own ways, Trump’s Breitbart audience is the modern-day incarnation of Joseph Swetnam. I myself cannot fathom misogyny, except to understand that it is a mental illness, possibly a serious one, and I’m certain that Donald Trump suffers from it. Misogyny would explain his devaluing of women, exemplified by his comment about grabbing pussies in the Access Hollywood tape.

I’m sure Trump has told himself all his adult life he loves women, although what that really means is that, like Don Juan, he enjoys the hunt for sexual conquests. No sane, respectful man treats women (or anyone else) with such disdain and contempt. What is easier to understand is why Trump feels free to put his misogyny on full public display. It’s because he knows that millions of other American men (and some women) are also misogynists, and will not only not be appalled by Trump’s behavior, but will actually celebrate it, since it lets them off the hook. If the President of the United States, possibly the most famous and successful person in the world, can hate women, then I can too!

Well, there’s something seriously wrong with Trump, and there’s something seriously wrong with anyone who’s amused by his video of slicing a golf ball into Hillary Clinton’s skull. In my humble opinion, reasons for invoking the 25th Amendment are mounting every day.




“Anti-Catholic bigotry”? No. It’s called separation of church and state


A remark my Senator, Dianne Feinstein, made caused a bit of a ruckus at Notre Dame, the Catholic university, and thence to the Wall Street Journal and National Review, two periodicals that often are apologists for Catholic causes. Feinstein’s offense? During hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Amy Barrett’s nomination by Trump to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Feinstein raised questions about whether Barrett, a conservative Catholic who teaches law at Notre Dame, could keep her religious ideology separate from her judicial opinions. Feinstein’s most controversial statement was, When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that dogma lives loudly within you.”

Well, National Review went nuts, accusing Feinstein, a Jew, of “anti-Catholic bigotry” and charging her with hypocrisy for being the first to decry prejudice and discrimination against other minorities,” such as gays, while allegedly encouraging it against Catholics.

The Wall Street Journal was predictably outraged. They ran a letter from Notre Dame’s president, John Jenkins, expressing his “deep concern” over Feinstein’s “chilling” remarks.  As for Feinstein’s “dogma lives loudly” statement, Jenkins was in solidarity with Barrett, declaring, “I am one in whose heart dogma lives loudly.” Rather than being a bad thing, he wrote, “dogma…is a condition we call faith.”

Then, in the same paper, came an op-ed excoriating “Democrats” for their objections to Barrett and calling several out by name—Dick Durbin, Feinstein, Sanders, Elizabeth Warren–for subjecting judicial nominees to “religious tests” and imposing a “threatening…dogmatism” on “countless Americans’ freedom.” Who was this op-ed piece written by? Not an objective scholar of American history and values, not a specialist in government ethics, but a theocrat named C.C. Pecknold, described as “an associate professor of theology at the Catholic University of America.”

I mean, come on! That’s like having David Duke write an editorial defending the KKK. If you want to talk about imposing “dogmatism” on “countless Americans,” a more accurate example is the Roman Catholic church’s imposing their medieval and murderous hatred of homosexuality on gay people, and consigning them to hell. (And we won’t even get into the horrors of Catholic priestly pedophilia!)

Barrett has made no secret of the fact that she fully accepts the Vatican’s edicts, not U.S. laws, when it comes to such matters as a woman’s right to choose and other reproductive rights, as well as marriage equality. She signed her name to a letter, in 2015, declaring that “We give witness that the Church’s teachings – on the dignity of the human person and the value of human life from conception to natural death; on the meaning of human sexuality, the significance of sexual difference and the complementarity of men and women; on openness to life and the gift of motherhood; and on marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman – provide a sure guide to the Christian life.”  Barrett has declared that abortion, which is legal in this country, “is always immoral.”

In a speech, she noted that “Republicans are heavily invested in getting judges who will overturn Roe.” She has called the contraception mandate of Obamacare “unacceptable,” and, in the opposite way from which History is marching, defined “marriage” as “the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”

I could cite dozens of instances of Barrett’s homophobia and her reactionary attitude toward women’s rights. Sen. Feinstein was absolutely correct to raise questions about Barrett. Jenkins, the Notre Dame president, can say that “dogma” and “faith” are the same thing, but ISIS also says that, as does every other religious fanatic, and that doesn’t make it right.

Look, I’m sick and tired of this constant, never-ending attempt by religious extremists to poke their noses into government and tell the rest of us how we can, and cannot, live. America is a secular country. We need to remain a secular country, if we’re to avoid religious wars such as devastated Europe for a thousand years, and are now tearing apart the Muslim world. I don’t give a hoot what religion Barrett or Jenkins or anyone else believes. But let them keep it to the privacy of their homes and places of worship. If we let judges drag their religious ideologies into their judicial decisions, where does it stop? What if we had judges who were Wiccans, or Whahabbists, or Dervishes, or Satanists, or NAMBLAites, or Lubavitch Jews, or Animists, or Mansonites, or whatever–would Barrett and Jenkins still feel it was all right for them to rule according to their dogma, in the name of faith? Of course not. It’s only their religion—Christianity—they want special treatment for.

It’s horrifying that the Republican Party, and their mouthpiece organs like the Wall Street Journal and National Review, don’t understand that religion and government must be kept strictly separate. Freedom-loving Americans need to band together and insist that the First Amendment and the Founders’ secular vision be honored.

New Wine Reviews



Balzac Communications was kind enough to send me a few wines, even though I’ve been retired for three years, so, as is my wont when this happens, it’s only proper for me to review them on my blog.

A mini-vertical of Parducci “True Grit” Petite Sirah (Mendocino), 2004-2006.

It’s almost a given that wine critics call Petite Sirah ageable. I nearly always did in my career, for a couple reasons. First, it’s really tannic in youth, but balanced, and secondly, I’ve been lucky enough to taste many old Petite Sirahs, so I have first-hand experience. A good one, from a good vintage, will last for decades, in the right cellar. And Parducci’s Petite Sirah is always good; at Wine Enthusiast, when these three wines were released, I gave the 2004 93 points, the 2005 89 points, and the 2006 I scored at 90 points. I’m happy to say the wines continue to offer plenty of interest.

2006: The wine was $30 on release, a lot for a Peite Sirah, but it was quite good. I called it “consistently one of the best in California” and gave it 90 points. It was tasty when I reviewed it in 2009, and now, eight years later, it still is, although it’s showing its age. The fresh fruits—blackberries, currants—are drying out and turning savory and leathery, and there’s a soft, dark chocolate unctuousness, but the spices are still there, and so are the tannins. It’s a very nice wine to drink now, elegant and complex. I would keep the score at 90 points.

2005: When the wine was first released, I called it “young, dry, jammy, acidic and tannicly immature,” a rather “aloof” wine. Now, at the age of 12 years, it’s really blossomed. The tannins are resolved, although still firm, and the primary blackberry-cherry and cocoa nib flavors are evolving into secondary status: dried fruits and currants, with those mushroom, leather and bacon notes that mark more mature bottles of the variety. The wine now has a softness that makes it round and supple. Lovely to drink now, and will last for another ten years, at least. Score: 91 points.

2004: I gave the ’04 my highest score of the three wines, at the time of its release, but it has not aged as well as the ’05 or ’06. The official alcohol on all three wines, according to the winery, is 14.5%, but the ’04 tastes hotter than the other two. The 2004 vintage was, after all, a scorcher. There were multiple heat waves in the crucial month of September that overripened many grapes. I predicted, in April, 2008, that the ’04 True Grit would age, but I was wrong. The fruit is beginning to fade, with a pruney taste and porty heat replacing what once was fresh blackberries and cherries. Perhaps this was not a good bottle. Score: 84 points.

Locations non-vintage NZ Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand); $20.  I have to admit I was not a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc when I was a working critic. I guess I was used to a richer California style. The green, pyraziney aromas were off-putting to me. The pyrazines are certainly there in this wine (call them gooseberries, if you prefer), but for whatever reason, in my dotage my palate has changed, and now I find this green, grassy herbaceousness, when done well, as it is here, adds an attractive, stimulating complexity. In the mouth, while it’s dry, there’s a lot of succulent, sweet fruit: nectarines, a hint of papaya, green melon, figs, and a brilliantly clean, swift acidic minerality. No oak, of course, to get in the way. This is an eminently sippable wine that I would happily drink every night, especially with the right appetizers. Goat cheese comes to mind, smeared on toasted sourdough bread, sprinkled with olive oil and chopped chives and a few grains of good salt. The alcohol is 13.5%. Score: 90 points.

Parducci 2015 “85” Red Wine (Mendocino County); $45. This red blend is rustic, a word I use to describe a wine that is not elegant, in fact awkward in texture, but okay for everyday drinking. There’s a green pepperiness that’s unusual in a California Bordeaux blend, which this is (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc). Fruit-wise, a kick of black cherry brings needed richness, rounded out by vague oak notes. The finish is very dry, and the tannins are pretty hefty. The “85” designation is to acknowledge Parducci’s 85th anniversary, which surely is worth celebrating. Drink this wine now and over the next year or two. Good with steak fajitas. Score: 87 points.

[The following wines were from my cellar, but I thought I’d include them.]

Staglin 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford); $185 on release. When I reviewed this, in late 2011, I wrote that it was a great success for a challenging vintage. I gave it 94 points, and praised it for the lush, dramatic flavors, although I warned it didn’t seem to be a long-term keeper. My judgment now is pretty much the same. It’s still rich and flamboyant in blackcurrants and dark chocolate, yet with a jacket of tannin-acid control that lends elegance and complexity, and seems perfect for drinking now. I suppose it will continue to glide path for another five or ten years, but why wait? Score: 95 points.

MacPhail 2011 Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $49 on release. When I reviewed this, back in the Spring of 2014, I gave it 92 points, and remarked on the acidity, which I called “vibrant.” Now, at the age of six, acidity remains a fundamental feature, making the wine almost sour, except for the core of raspberry, persimmon and rhubarb, which give it a balancing, sweet fruitiness. But what I like best is the complexity. There’s so much going on. The fruit is melding into herbs and mushrooms, so that the flavor experience changes second by second, in an exciting tension between fruit and earth. In my review, I suggested drinking until 2019. I still think that’s the case, and the sooner, the better. Score: 92 points.

MacPhail 2011 Rita’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills); $49 on release. I gave it 92 points back in the Spring of 2014, and called it “flashier than anything that MacPhail has produced in their Sonoma County Pinots.” Indeed, it is a thrill ride of colorful flavors: raspberries, cherries, vanilla parfait, just as rich as they were 3-1/2 years ago. The wine has barely aged. It still has a spine of minerals and that tingly acidity that makes it so clean, although not as tart as the Sangiacomo. I really love drinking this wine, which will pair well with anything Pinot Noir traditionally goes with. For some reason I’m thinking of beef tacos, but anything from filet mignon to ahi tuna. salmon or wild mushroom risotto will highlight the wine’s beauty. Score: 94 points.

Inizi 2012 Charbono (Calistoga); $32. Decades ago, when Charbono used to be planted in considerable quantities in California, I went to a vertical tasting in which we tried bottles that were 20-30 years old. I formed my impression then: A rustic, dark, full-bodied wine in youth that will live practically forever, gradually throwing tannins without necessarily growing more complex. I first reviewed this 2012 near the end of my career at Wine Enthusiast, gave it 90 points with an “Editor’s Choice” special designation, and called it “bone dry and tannic” but “food-friendly [and] of considerable interest.” I wouldn’t change a word. It’s still as black as a moonless night, with just a hint of garnet at the edge, and the aroma, of blackberries and dark chocolate, remains youthful. It’s still dry and tannic, yet at the age of nearly five years, the fruity sweetness is struggling to overcome the astringency, and very nearly succeeding. No doubt it will still be drinkable in 2037. I like this wine a lot despite its rusticity. It makes me think of comfort fare: pizza, short ribs, Szechuan beef, pepper steak, a great cheeseburger. The alcohol is a modest 13.4%, which gives it a shabby-chic elegance. Score: 90 points.

Trump’s uneasy relationship with hurricanes



The good news, from his point of view, is that he can look presidential. He flies down in Air Force One to Texas or Florida or wherever the next one hits, strides around the disaster zone in his windbreaker and MAGA cap and with the glamorous Melania at his side, smiling indulgently and surrounded by toadies and sycophants, including the increasingly trance-like Pence (who must have studied Nancy Reagan’s famous “gaze,” to judge from the unblinkingly adoring stare he always fastens on Trump).

The Nancy Gaze

The Pence Gaze

The bad news for Trump is that every time these monster hurricanes (and other weather extremes) occur, Trump gets asked about his climate-change skepticism, for which he has no coherent answer. Even the conservative Republican mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado, criticized the administration for its head-in-the-sand denialism, stating bluntly, “This is the time to talk about climate change.” And yet, Trump won’t; he continues his war on science. The Environmental Protection Agency, supposedly one of the nation’s leaders in scientific research, doesn’t even have a section on climate change anymore, after disabling the old Obama-era one last April. If you search for information on the EPA website about climate change, you get this message:


Which gives a new definition to the word “updated.” “Disappeared” is more like it.

Trump has certainly painted himself into a corner on climate change, but it’s not entirely his fault: He inherited a Republican ideology that climate change is not real, and, even if it is (which it isn’t), it’s not caused by human activity. We don’t know what Trump himself really believes. He may believe in global warming and he may not; his beliefs may change several times a day. But what we can know is what he actually does. Leaving the Paris climate accord was another example. Can that have been anything but pandering to his under-educated followers that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese?

Like so many of his campaign promises—repeal and replace Obamacare, build the wall, ban Muslims from entering the U.S., end DACA—Trump’s war on science also seems destined to abject, embarrassing failure. We’ve seen lately how Trump deals with failure. This reality-show president calls it “success,” diverts attention with some stunt, and then hopes his Breitbart audience will believe him—and believe him they do, for they lack the cerebral capacity to engage in critical thinking. But who cares about logic, when Trump validates your anger and resentment and makes you feel good about your moral failures?

Meanwhile, on another front of Trump’s war on science, the POTUS has instructed his Centers for Disease Control not to speak to any reporters, ever, “even for a simple data-related question.”

I find myself having to do some armchair psychoanalysis here. I do not think Trump is stupid. He’s highly intelligent. Why would he not at least make the attempt to educate his dumber followers? Educating voters—lifting them out of ignorance and making them smarter—is a core mission of any American President. But not this one. Again, why not? I can come up with only one theory: an ignorant voter is much more likely to vote Republican than an educated voter. (This also explains the right’s war on colleges and universities.) For all his recent dalliances with “Chuck and Nancy,” Trump remains a conservative, right-wing Republican who desires a right-wing Republican Congress to be re-elected next year, with even greater numbers of Republican Senators and representatives than now serve. The best way to do that is to keep red-district voters scared, angry and stupid. One way to accomplish that is to muzzle government scientists; this is precisely what we’re seeing. Trump believes in only one thing: himself. The consequences to the nation and the world can be damned.

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