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Trump campaign’s vicious attack plan on Kamala Harris

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INTERNAL MEMORANDUM

Campaign to Re-elect An Amazing President (CRAP)

Subject: Kamala Harris

We should be grateful to Sleepy Joe for picking such a weak, compromised candidate as Sen. Harris. We have been conducting Opposition Research on her for nearly six months, and have discovered a wealth of damaging facts. Among these are:

• Sen. Harris is a transsexual. He was born Karl Harris, and underwent a sexual change in the late 1990s, at a Havana, Cuba clinic specializing in sexual perversion.

• While in Cuba, Karl/Kamala Harris became a fervant Castro-ite. He/she met frequently with Fidel Castro and, at a secret ceremony, he/she pledged his/her loyalty to him and to Communism.

• Upon returning to the U.S., Kamala Harris linked up with Muslim terrorists affiliated with Osama bin Laden. In 1999, she made a secret trip to Kenya, where she was trained in anti-American propaganda. While there, she met another young, Black American terrorist, Barack Hussein Obama. The two have remained co-conspirators ever since.

• In 2000, Kamala Harris, attending a mosque in the San Francisco Bay Area, was overheard by ____, a Special Undercover Agent on loan from the FBI who was investigating radical Islamic terrorists. She told the Imam, “I hate Amerika, spelled with a ‘k.’ Let us drive the white cracker racists into the sea.”

• Immediately following the events on Sept. 11, 2001, Kamala Harris celebrated with a large group of Muslims in New Jersey. They danced in the streets, shouting “Down with American imperialism” and “Allahu Akbar.”

• Between early 2002 and the summer of 2004, Kamala Harris led an armed group of thieves, who robbed banks and sent the money directly to Al Qaeda.

• As District Attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris declined to file criminal charges against seven serial killers, all of whom were Black. She explained that she did not want to “fill our racist jails with my Brothers.” Each of the seven men went on to commit multiple other murders.

• Also while she was District Attorney, Kamala Harris persecuted Christians solely because of their religious beliefs. She was behind numerous sacrileges in which Crosses were smeared with animal blood and feces.

• As Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris engaged in multiple Lesbian sexual affairs with known terrorists.

• In August, 2011, Kamala Harris was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, with homicidal tendencies, by a San Francisco psychiatrist, who later was found murdered. The case was never solved, and Harris’s case files were mysteriously stolen from the doctor’s office.

• In October, 2017, a Los Angeles dermatologist, Dr. Wilfred J. Conklin, told a reporter for Breitbart News that his own investigation revealed that Kamala Harris is not, in fact, Black. Dr. Conklin recovered hair and nail samples of Harris which proved that Harris is White. She reportedly consumes skin-coloring agents to make her look colored.

• Kamala Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, is a well-known Jewish radical. When they were married, in 2014, the two took a vow to protect and fight for the State of Israel, secretly renouncing their American citizenship. They burned an American flag, then sprinkled the blood of a Christian baby on the ashes.

• Kamala Harris is said to be a member of the Church of Satan.

Obviously, CRAP members, we have plenty of ammunition to hit Harris with. Feel free to use any or all of these facts. Contact Kellyanne Conway for details.

Onward to Victory! Heil Trump!


Why I weep

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I cry easily these days. There’s so much to cry about. The pandemic, and the lives upended, the economic pain it’s brought to so many of my friends and my city. And I cry because of Trump, and the stain upon our country and the presidency. I’ve been reading biographies of great Presidents lately: Robert Caro’s “The Path to Power,” the story of Lyndon Johnson’s later career, and David McCullough’s “Truman.” Those books make me cry, too. Reading of those men, who did so many great things, who worked so hard for liberal democracy, it’s almost impossible to comprehend the mediocrity currently in the Oval Office, doing his best to undo it. Then, too, the history of those presidents echoes my own history. As I grow old, and peer into the grave, it gives me comfort to revisit my past.

Caro writes with great power and vividity of the assassination and funeral of John F. Kennedy, when LBJ ascended to the presidency. Caro’s description of those four days in 1963—Friday Nov. 22, Saturday Nov. 23, Sunday Nov. 24 and Monday Nov. 25—the four most tumultuous, horrifying days in American history–the flight of Air Force One from Dallas to Washington, D.C, with two Presidents, one dead, the other living, and the slain President’s widow—the arrival of Bobby and Jackie, in her blood-splattered pink suit at Andrews Air Force Base, with the coffin—the insanity of Oswald’s murder by Ruby, live on T.V.—and the funeral procession itself, the grandest State event in American history—I, along with everyone else in America, watched nonstop on television. I cried then, and I cry now, 57 years later.

I went to YouTube to relive that experience, not from any ghoulish interest in the macabre, just…because. And more tears. They came unbidden. The sound of the muffled drums…in relentless, repeating cadence…from the White House to the Capitol, and the next day, to Arlington…the drums, and the clip-clop of the horses on the cobblestones, including the riderless steed Black Jack, with empty saddle, and boots reversed in the stirrups…and the steady, mournful tread of thousands of uniformed sailors, soldiers, marines, and air men in somber, grievous march…not a sound from the crowd of hundreds of thousands lining the wide avenues, except for an occasional sob…but those muffled drums, stately, filled with pathos, like a beating heart. And I cried.

Why do I weep at something from so long ago, something that, to millions of Americans, is as distant, as buried in history as the death of Davy Crockett at the Alamo? I weep, because those muffled drums beat, not just for John F. Kennedy, but for me, and for all of us…for America. The flag-draped casket, drawn on the same catafalque that had carried Abraham Lincoln’s, contained, not only the mortal remains of the President, but my heart, and the hearts of the world. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee…Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

This is why I cry, so many years later. John F. Kennedy brought us what is best in our lives. Now, instead of gallantry in the presidency, we have greed. Instead of courage, we have corruption. Instead of heroes, we have a hooligan. I cry, too, because old men weep, as they realize their lease on life will soon expire. None of us has the luxury of knowing the moment of our death. But as the death of John F. Kennedy, at such a young age, at the height of his promise—as that reminds us, our demise might meet us at any moment. Now. A minute from now. Without warning. And so old men cry.

At JFK’s funeral, and at Jackie’s request, a military band played the official U.S. Navy hymn (Kennedy had been in the Navy), “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” (you might recall it from the movie, Titanic):

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm does bind the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee 
For those in peril on the sea.

As I was walking in Oakland yesterday, pondering these thoughts, I passed a bookstore with a shelf out on the sidewalk: paperbacks $1 each. The first one I saw, literally, was Profiles In Courage, JFK’s Pulitzer Prize-wining 1956 book. These things are never coincidences. The book was a 1964 reissue of the original, but with a twist: Robert Kennedy wrote the new Foreward, on Dec. 18, 1963—less than a month after his older brother had been killed. The still-grieving Robert wrote, in words that are as alive today as then:

“[John Kennedy’s] life had import, meant something to the country while he was alive…It was his conviction that a democracy…must and can face its problems, that it must show patience, restraint, compassion as well as wisdom and strength and courage, in the struggle for solutions which are very rarely easy to find.”

Imagine a President whose life has import. Imagine a President with wisdom, strength, compassion and courage. For that reason, too, I cry.


Growing up in The Bronx

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One thing I’ll say for the 1950s, it was a great time to be a kid in The Bronx.

They were days of hundreds of friends, schools that actually educated us, and sports of every kind, for every season. They were safe days, when our parents didn’t have to worry about their children getting shot or molested. They were days when people stayed put where they lived—they didn’t move in and out of neighborhoods, even in rental neighborhoods like The Bronx, as they do today—so that the neighborhoods had continuity and a feeling of family, and gave us children a sense of belonging and permanence. You knew your neighbors and generally liked them; you knew the proprietors of the shops–butcher, grocery, drug, laundry; they weren’t sterile outposts of chains, but folks who lived in your building.

We kids felt safe, even though we didn’t put it that way; there was literally nothing to threaten us. We could play in the park at night, ride our bikes across town to the George Washington Bridge, take the subway, roam the streets, sing a capella on streetcorners, go to Yankees games, explore the piers and warehouses along the Harlem River, pitch pennies on the sidewalks, go to each other’s birthday parties, take the bus up to the Bronx Zoo, shop at Alexander’s for a new shirt, walk over to 161st Street for a haircut, hang out at Yankee Stadium for autographs, and never, ever feel threatened; we took security for granted, because there was no reason not to.

Which is not to say everything was hunky dory. As I’ve mentioned, my ever-increasing sense of being “gay” (which was not a word we were familiar with) was becoming more difficult for me to deal with every day. My parents, who were not the most affectionate people, either with others or with themselves, did little to help or nourish my soul, although they certainly kept my body healthy. My sister, six years older, had it in for me, and was a constant torment. My father, Jack’s, depression and anger made him an increasingly distant figure, to be avoided as much as possible. All of these things detracted from what we would nowadays call my “quality of life.”

Still, my elementary school and junior high school years—1951 through 1959—were exceptionally peaceful and happy. The phrase “the Eisenhower years” is often an epithet, but the reverse side of the coin meant an era of tranquillity and normalcy.

Now, I realize that things often look rosier in retrospect than they did at the time. The 1950s were very unequal in America. Neighborhoods were segregated, especially in The Bronx; Black and Puerto Rican people lived across the tracks, in shabby apartment buildings in what we derisively (echoing our parents) called the slums, and it was common for Jews to refer to “Negroes” as schvartzes, a derogatory Yiddish word. Puerto Ricans weren’t viewed quite as negatively, but the adults let us kids know that we were lucky they didn’t overrun our neighborhood. (I have to mention here that my mother taught at a Junior High School in Spanish Harlem, and it was fairly ordinary for her to tell me how much she liked her Puerto Rican students. “I wish you were as respectful to me as they are,” she’d say.)

As for gay people, well, they were completely invisible. I suppose the men knew about them, especially those who had served in the armed forces, but they never talked about them, and I can’t remember a single usage of “fag” or “faggot,” although my father used to say, of odd people and things, that they were “queer as a three-dollar bill.” Grandma Rose, my father’s mother, who lived in our building, was a huge fan of Liberace, and when I would watch his T.V. show with her, in her tiny, antique-filled apartment on the second floor, there was something in him I dimly recognized, or thought I did, something that thrilled me—and that I knew was in me, too. But, of course, it couldn’t be named, or even acknowledged. And when the interior decorator who lived down the block—a thin, effeminate fellow with well-tailored clothes—walked his two Afghan Hounds, I would watch as he passed, seeing or sensing something, the same something I saw in Liberace.

But rather than make me sad, these tantalizing glimpses of something made me curious, and excited, because I knew that whatever was inside of those men, which I was picking up on, was also something that lay in my future. And it lay there interestingly. It was something to look forward to. If I could have expressed that feeling in words, it might have been, “I know that that lies ahead for me. And what an interesting time that will be when it comes out.”

Meanwhile, life was just too busy to overdwell on such thoughts. I loved my public school, P.S. 35. I was a smart boy, a diligent student, and did well in my subjects, frequently winning prizes. My parents never told me they were proud of me (in retrospect, it might have been nice if they had), but I knew they had to be. I had more friends than I could count. This was the Baby Boom, mind you, and all those Bronx Jews who had come home from the war were producing children like General Motors produced cars. Amazingly, we had no cliques. There were no jocks or goths, no stoners or geeks; we didn’t separate the smart kids from the slower ones, or the good-looking ones from the homely. We were all different, of course, in our own ways, but the similarities made us more alike than not: the same age, the same religion, the same socio-economic class of our parents. We listened to the same milquetoast pop music on the radio: Sh-Boom by the Crew-Cuts, Hey There by Rosemary Clooney, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White by Perez Prado, and a rolicking little number, Rock Around the Clock, by Bill Haley & His Comets, that got our feet tapping, a precursor of the harder-edged rock and roll that was emerging.

When I was ten, Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I can remember, even now, nearly 65 years later, how exciting it was. Even my mother, who professed not to like “that kind of music” (her favorite music was Guy Lombardo), was glued to our old Admiral T.V. set, in the room we called the foyer. (My mom’s best friend next door, Elsie, who had pretensions of glamor, pronounced hers “foy-ay.” We just called ours “foy-er.)” Elvis was incredibly sexy; here was something I clearly needed to know more about. I liked the element of danger that reeked from his body, and I resented that the T.V. wouldn’t show him below the waist.

Television was the Public Commons of America, the shared space that brought us all together across the vastness of the continent. It was that period they call “T.V.’s Golden Age,” and we Baby Boomers were the first generation in history to grow up in front of it, literally. Even today, the names of my favorite programs, their stars, the way they looked, are easy for me to recall. Howdy Doody—which my cousins and I once went on, live, and sat in the Peanut Gallery…Kukla, Fran and Ollie…Andy’s Gang, hosted by the weird, hoarse-throated Andy Divine, with pervy Midnight the Cat…the Ernie Kovacs show, surely one of the strangest shows in history…Our Miss Brooks (I had a huge crush on Mr. Boynton)…and, of course, I Love Lucy. My best friend, Ellen (Elsie and Dave’s daughter) and I would watch Medic together, drinking chocolate milk made with Nestlé’s Qwik, and when I hypochondriacally began coming down with every disease of the week (including brain cancer), my parents wouldn’t let me see it anymore. I still have, somewhere, I photograph I took with our first Polaroid camera of JFK, on the Admiral T.V., addressing the nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Our sports were street sports, those of our inner-city fathers, who probably learned them from their fathers. In warm, dry weather, stickball, using broomstick handles to bat those little pink Spaulding balls a mile. When the weather turned cool and cold, it was touch football, in the big meadow of Franz Siegel Park, even into December, when hoarfrost whitened the grass. My father, a big sports fan, was lead umpire in our local Little League. Despite my love for amateur sports with my friends, I detested Little League, perhaps because Jack made me do it; I didn’t get a single hit in four years, and nearly every ball hit to right field sailed over my head or through my legs.

I liked girls all right; I’ve always had girl friends with whom I was close, and still do. I’ve mentioned my neighbor, Ellen, but there many others, from the building, from the neighborhood, and from P.S. 35. And, of course, my three Heimoff cousins, Maxine, Ellen and Rona. But it was my male friends whom I adored. My idea of perfect happiness was just to be allowed to hang out with them, doing whatever, having fun, laughing, telling dirty jokes, tossing a ball around. My best friends from the building, all Jewish (and of course I had lots of friends from elsewhere in the neighborhood), were Irwin (whose father worked in a hat factory in the Garment District), Paul (an early crush; his mom was divorced), Ricky (I never did know what his father did, but he was one of my father’s gin rummy buddies), Howie (whose speech impediment didn’t matter at all to us), Donald, who was kind of slow-witted, and Stevie, from the second floor. Then there was Bobby. As soon as I realized what “fags” were, at the age of 12, I knew that Bobby was one. He was so strange, but in a lovely, sweet way. He never played sports, but one summer, he taught the rest of us how to play mah jong and canasta. We all liked him; today, I fear, he would be bullied. Last I heard of Bobby, twenty years ago, he was a school teacher, and living with his mother.

Stevie was the only friend I quarreled with. A lot. I don’t know what it was that set our teeth on edge, but we were constantly bickering. When we were nine, we wrote up “a Constitution” so that we could legislate our quarrels, instead of having screaming matches or, worse, physical altercations. (“Uh, Stevie, you’re in violation of Article 2, Section 3.” “You’re crazy.”) I think this testifies both to how much respect we had for the Law—this seems to be common among Jewish people–and how loathe we were to resort to violence. In fact, in all my youth, I had only one fight—and that was with an Italian Catholic kid from down the block. We were goaded into a brawl by the other boys. It was fifteen minutes of hard scrambling on the sidewalk, but in the end, the result was deemed a draw. At least, I hadn’t lost. When it was over, we shook hands, and never fought again.

I miss those days, I really do. I miss having a million friends, the easy camaraderie among boys. The other day, by chance, on YouTube I came across the famous scene from The Deerhunter, where all the guys are singing “You’re Just Too Good to be True” in that divey bar in Pennsylvania coal country. I put it up on Facebook, just to share, and someone wrote that it was a “homoerotic” scene. I don’t think it was. It was just a scene—beautifully written and acted, with that fantastic song—of men who loved each other, some of whom were about to go off to war. There’s nothing homo about that. But who am I to say? Was my love for my little friends the queer in me? But they loved each other, too, and they all were straight. The human soul, as I’ve been learning all my life, is a curious thing, basically incomprehensible. But love—that, we all understand.


Why can’t BLM exorcise their own demons?

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The Oakland Police Department just sent the community a notice: A large Black Lives Matter demonstration is planned for Saturday night. The notice said that OPD supports peaceful protests, but it warned demonstrators that after dark “agitators” might hide themselves among the larger crowd and wreck havoc downtown.

“Might”? Try “definitely will.” And the larger crowd will watch and do nothing, because the truth is, they support the rampage by their hear-no-evil, see-no-evil inaction.

If you talk directly to them, they’ll deny it. “Oh, we don’t agree with the looting and vandalism.” Then I ask them why don’t they stop it? There’s a lot more of them than the agitators. “Oh, we couldn’t do that,” they explain. “Why not?” “Well, that’s not why we’re there. Besides, what are we supposed to do?”

Oh. I get it. The peaceful protestors provide cover for the agitators, and they know it. And they’re against the agitators. But stopping the agitators—which they could easily do—well, that’s just not something they’re prepared to do.

Here are two recent grafittis from my neighborhood. This one is scrawled on a sidewalk:

Black Lives Matter

Kill Cops

Fuck Christians

Fuck White Trash

This one is on a car bumper:

MORE WHITE BODIES MORE ACCOUNTABILITY

This is what the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten in bed with: Psychotic, homicidal madness.

Imagine, if you dare, the inside of the mind (I use the term loosely) of the persons who wrote those awful things. These are murderous, feral human beings, obsessed with fantasies of torturing and killing other human beings whom they hate. This is the Taliban – the Gestapo – Pol Pot’s thugs – Manson’s family – Boko Haram – ISIS – the Zodiac serial killer – driven by furious impulses, unbalanced, insane. Can you imagine what would happen if they ever took over? It would be a Reign of Terror, with heads lopped off, bullets between the eyes, no trials, no juries, just the violent eruptions of angry, sick people. And this is what Black Lives Matter chooses to be associated with.

Give me one reason why 5,000 peaceful BLM protestors in downtown Oakland could not intervene to stop a few dozen crazies as soon as they pull the crowbars out of their pants and start smashing. It can be done – it should be done – but it won’t be, because the peaceful protestors aren’t really serious when they say they deplore the violence. You can’t deplore something and then allow it to continue happening in your midst.

There will be violence this Saturday night in Oakland. There will be more stores looted (never to reopen, because who wants to do business in a city where they’re trashed every few months?). There will be more car windows smashed, more fires set, more rocks and bottles thrown at cops who are too afraid to arrest anyone for fear things will get out of hand and some ambulance-chasing “civil rights” lawyer will come for their scalps and bankrupt them. And large tracts of Oakland will continue on a downward spiral under a weak, ambitious and ineffectual Mayor, Libby Schaaf, whose only hope is to survive her term of office without being recalled and wait for Dianne Feinstein to drop dead or retire so she can run for the Senate. (Fat chance, Libby.)

Look, I know this is an inconvenient truth for dedicated BLM believers to hear. But somebody has to speak truth to power, and it might as well be me. Black Lives Matter is at a crossroads. They’ve already gotten good things done, and launched an important national conversation. But they’re in danger of becoming just the latest cause du jour that fades away, the way Occupy was before they committed suicide for the same reason: a failure to confront and stop the violence in their midst. Violent extremism in the defense of anything is no virtue. Like it or not, America is a moderate country. People want change; they support the principles of Black Lives Matter, and they know the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is horrible and wrong. But they’re not ready for violent revolution. And they don’t want to see their towns destroyed.


We need good newspapers now more than ever

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It didn’t come as a surprise to me that “digital revenue exceeded print for the first time ever” at the New York Times during the second quarter of 2020. During those three months, the Times added 669,000 new online subscribers, compared with only 493,000 new subscribers to the paper’s print edition. (By the way, those are pretty impressive numbers for the newspaper Trump calls “the failing New York Times.”)

For many years—at least since I started blogging, in 2008—pundits have been predicting that print is dead, long live digital. And it may finally be starting to come true. If so, count me among the recalcitrants. I’ve always subscribed to real paper newspapers, and I still do. I’ve taken the San Francisco Chronicle for at least thirty years. I like the experience of going to my doorstep first thing in the morning and (hopefully, but not always) seeing my paper there, usually wrapped in yellow plastic. I like sliding the paper out of its wrapper and looking at the headlines on the front page. It would be easy enough for me to get the digital edition only (and I’d save a few hundred dollars a year), but the experience wouldn’t be the same.

I have to admit to an additional motive for subscribing to print. It is more expensive, but I appreciate that my money is going to support good reporting. I see it as a kind of tax: if I value solid, honest, independent journalism, I have to put my money where my mouth is. Great reporters don’t work for nothing.

(After all this, you might think that I subscribe to the New York Times. In fact, I don’t. I would, but the paper wouldn’t be delivered to my home early enough, California time, for me to read it over my breakfast and coffee, which is my preferred time. I feel a little guilty about that, but my habits are pretty fixed at this point in my life. So the San Francisco Chronicle is my home paper; it’s reliably there by 6 a.m., and I’m an early riser. The Chronicle is not half the paper as the Times. I wish it were. But it does a decent enough job of reporting on local issues.)

This ties into the role of journalism as a whole. Most politicians hate reporters—not personally, but the way the Fourth Estate tends to ask embarrassing questions. Republicans, Democrats, they all resent having to be answerable to pesky, inquisitive newsmen and women. Which is exactly why we need news reporters. Can you imagine the sinister things Trump and the crowd around him would get away with, if there was nobody there to shine a light on the darkness? The danger to journalism, it seems to me, isn’t that print is threatened by digital, but that the field is being taken over by giant news conglomerates that have their own pecuniary interests. I like reporters who dig for the truth and then tell it, regardless of the political or financial interests of management. Good newspapers manage to keep a firewall, not only between the editorial side and the business side of the company, but between the two sides of editorial that often are at odds with each other: the “front page” news reporting and the “op-ed” pages. The Wall Street Journal is, or has been, a good example: their op-ed pages are truly deplorable, with rightwing hacks shoveling up great steaming piles of garbage. Yet at the same time, the Journal’s frontline reporters are (or used to be) free to write up the facts as they find them—facts that are often damaging to the Trump family.

I find it troubling, to say the least, that so many people have tuned out the news in their lives. Too many of them seem to believe that all reporting is bullshit. They think they can live their lives without getting tangled up in the affairs of the country. Such thinking is wrong, stupid and dangerous. You may think you’re not involved in or affected by the political clashes that occur in Washington, D.C., but you are: what the Congress decides, what the President signs, affects every one of us, from the safety of airplanes to the development of new drugs, from a woman’s right to choose to a gay couple’s right to marry and adopt children, from whether we go to war or don’t. The cleanliness of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat is dependent on the Congress giving adequate funding to regulatory agencies. People would be well advised to follow politics more, not less.

And that’s why we need newspapers. Thomas Jefferson said it best: “Were it left to me to decide if we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”


A Democratic Presidential candidate speaking on civil rights for Black Americans:

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“Not all groups are free to live and work where they please or to improve their conditions of life by their own efforts. Not all groups enjoy the full privileges of citizenship…The Federal government has a clear duty to see that the Constitutional guarantees of individual liberties and of equal protection under the laws are not denied or abridged anywhere in the Union. That duty is shared by all three branches of the Government, but it can be filled only if the Congress enacts modern, comprehensive civil rights laws, adequate to the needs of the day, and demonstrating our continuing faith in the free way of life.”

What sorts of “civil rights laws” did this man envision? In the words of an historian, he “called for a federal law against the crime of lynching…effective statutory protection of the right to vote everywhere in the country, a law against the poll taxes…the establishment of a Commission with authority to stop discrimination by employers…an end to discrimination in interstate travel by rail, bus and airplane…”. And beyond the details of civil rights, because he believed that without additional freedoms America would never realize its full potential, he called for “a national health insurance program, a massive housing program, increased support for education…the conservation of natural resources, and a raise in the minimum wage…”.

Most of these things never came to pass, when the man became President. Why not? “Southern congressmen lashed out” against it. A Texas Senator called the proposals “a lynching of the Constitution.” A South Carolina Senator said he and his wife would never sit next to “a Nigra.” And those two were Democrats.

Who was this Democratic Presidential candidate? Harry S. Truman, who was running for election in his own right in 1948, after having inherited the presidency upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt three years previously. And who was it that denied Truman his victories in the Congress, when Truman was famously elected, against the predictions of all the pundits, in his race against Thomas Dewey? Southern Democrats—“Dixiecrats”—who, not much later, changed parties and became the “Solid South,” the Republican red wall the South largely remains today…the same South that has consistently opposed civil rights, and all the other progressive achievements Truman fought for…the same South that voted for Donald J. Trump.

Some things never change. Truman’s issues are our issues today; the same bloc, or mentality that opposes them, is the stumbling block today to progress. Republicans, or, to put it more accurately, that conservative, reactionary mindset that has always opposed progress in any form, continue on their path of obstructionism, delay, obfuscation, appeals to hatred, and preachings of authoritarianism, resentment and white supremacy—even though the number of Americans who subscribe to that belief system continues to shrink. And that is why Republicans must prevent universal voting, at all costs, no matter what it takes—even if it means shutting down the Post Office. If everybody voted, as Trump himself said, no Republican would ever again be elected to national office in the U.S.A.

We look at Harry Truman’s words, from more than 70 years ago, and shake our heads in wonderment. Civil rights…universal healthcare…housing for all…conservation of the environment…a fair minimum wage…the right to vote…better public education…why are we still having to fight for these things, when by every yardstick of common sense and decency they’re the right things to do?

Because we still have Republicans in power. But we can change that, starting with the November elections. We can make Harry Truman’s dreams…and John F. Kennedy’s, and Lyndon Johnson’s, and Jimmy Carter’s, and Bill Clinton’s, and Barack Obama’s dreams come true. Will that usher in a new Valhalla of Justice, Peace, Prosperity and Fairness for all Americans? No. Nothing ever will. But it will get us closer to it.


Milla Handley, gone to the winery in the sky

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I was shocked and immensely saddened to learn of the death of Milla Handley, the co-owner and winemaker at Handley Cellars.

We met a long time ago; I can’t remember the year, but it was when I was working at Wine Spectator, so it must have been around 1990. It was my first trip to Anderson Valley, the Mendocino County wine region, where Milla had founded her winery, in the hamlet of Philo, in 1982.

I liked Milla instantly. She was a rare combination of earthy, country common sense and what I thought of as an Old World dignified charm. A woman of few words and a soft voice, she always had a sparkle in her eye, and a sense of humor that was restrained, but once you learned to detect it, you couldn’t miss it. But of more importance to a wine critic were Milla’s wines.

She specialized in Burgundian varieties—Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that did so well in Philo’s cool, foggy climate—and also in the sparking wine she made from the same grapes. She also was an early enthusiast of Alsatian varieties—Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer—which thrive in Anderson Valley. Over the years, I’d run into Milla over and over, because as proprietor of a small, rural family winery, she had to get out there, in front of the public and merchants, and hand-sell her wines. I’d see her at nearly every event in the Bay Area, standing there quietly behind her table, pouring, answering people’s questions, busy; but whenever our eyes met, there was that silent smile, as if to say, “Hello there, old friend.”

Milla, who died of COVID-19 at the too-young age of 68, was a Grande Dame of California wine. She will be missed, and long remembered.

* * *

Too often, these days, they’re leaving us, these pioneers of the boutique era of California wine. What a privilege it was to grow up during it and find a place in the burgeoning industry that was about to take its place on the world stage. Almost everyone you met “back in the day” was famous for one thing or another. Everybody had a compelling story. By 2000 or so, “the story” had become, all too often, a fabricated or exaggerated concoction dreamed up by P.R. specialists. But early on, the stories were real, the characters straight out of O. Henry. Most founding winemakers of the 1970s and 1980s were authentic startups, with little money but big dreams, as opposed to a later era, when the winery “lifestyle” became buyable by rich outsiders. Milla was the opposite of the rich outsider, but she came up in wine in high-class style, working, straight out of U.C. Davis, for Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean (which invented the concept of single-vineyard Chardonnay) and Jed Steele at Edmeades, just down the road from Philo; and if Milla’s Zinfandels lacked the elegant sophistication of those from Edmeades, they were gulpable and affordable.

The wine press today rightfully is headlining Milla’s demise. She wasn’t the best-known winemaker in California, but she symbolized the grit, integrity and can-do spirit of amateurs who succeeded in the industry when it was still an adventurous frontier that rewarded innovation. She symbolized, too, a quality that is fast disappearing in our multi-billion dollar wine industry: humility. Rest in peace, old friend.


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