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Wine Reviews

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Another week, another batch. Enjoy my wine reviews!

Stags’ Leap 2013 The Leap Cabernet Sauvignon (Stags Leap District); $90. It’s fascinating to taste this alongside the winery’s regular ’13 Cabernet, which I scored at 90 points. It’s considerably richer and denser. Made from 100% Cabernet grown in the estate vineyards, it displays that famous Stags Leap “iron fist in a velvet glove.” Velvet is indeed the texture: so smooth, so plush, so sexy. The color—midnight black, flecked with glints of ruby—hints at the concentration as well as the youth. Aromatically and flavor-wise, it’s massive. Intense tiers of blackcurrants and cassis liqueur, blueberry jam, candied violets, mocha and umami plum sauce, with an earthy hint of green olives. It’s all accented by the smoky sweetness of 50% new French oak barrel aging for 20 months. As sweetly fruited as it is, the finish is entirely, and satisfyingly, dry. The mouthfeel is full-bodied and elegant, with great weight and depth, and an alcohol level of only 14.1%. Delicious! A great accomplishment! Super-impressive! But oh, so young. I can’t stop anyone from drinking and enjoying it now, but if you do, decant! Otherwise, stash it in a good cellar. It will reward another twenty years, at least. Score: 97 points.

Stags’ Leap 2012 Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah (Stags Leap District): $115. I’ve been reviewing this wine (the name means “Don’t give in to misfortune”) since the mid-1990s and since ’99 never gave it less than 90 points. The wine was grown on the estate vineyard, west of the Silverado Trail, in the lee of the Stags Leap palisades, within the famous natural amphitheater that captures afternoon sunlight yet benefits from the appellation’s southerly location to capture cooling breezes up from San Pablo Bay. The winery says the vineyard’s oldest blocks were planted in 1929. The blend includes at least eight other varieties, including some white ones. And the wine? It reminds me of the 2010, which I described as “dry and tannic, with wild berry, currant, licorice, tobacco and oak flavors.” This ’12 is all that, and more: there’s a charcuterie umami-ness that, to me, suggests salami and crisped prosciutto, and a spiciness I don’t recall from previous vintages. With the lush mouthfeel, it absolutely caresses the mouth, growing more complex and fascinating with each moment it breathes. It’s so robust and powerful, I almost can’t believe the alcohol is only 14.1%, but that’s what they say. I do find the price concerning. But in an era when the merest Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon can top $100, perhaps it’s time for us to reconsider whether Petite Sirah of this quality may not be worth a triple-digit price. I would drink this right out of the bottle on release, or stash it away for, who knows how long? Thirty years is not out of the question. Score: 97 points

Aberrant Cellars 2014 Chehalem Mountain Vineyard Block B3 Old Vines Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountains): $50. There’s much to like about this new Pinot Noir, but it really is young at this point, and wants some time to come around. It’s starting life off as tight and rather closed, with intense aromatics of raspberry compote, orange pekoe tea, chocolate brownie, espresso and cheese rind. In the mouth, the acid-tannin balance is just fine, and the wine has a nice delicacy, courtesy of 13.8% alcohol. The winery is owned by Eric Eide, who seems to have been an American in the wine biz who frequently visited Burgundy and fell in love with the wines. The vineyard was planted back in 1968 by Richard Erath, of Knudsen-Erath; the wine comes from an ungrafted 2.34-acre patch, hence the “Old Vines” designation. The intensity is explained by the low vine yield, only 1.4 tons per acre, while the sweet oak hails from aging for 15 months in 36% new French oak. The winemaker used 5% whole clusters in the fermentation, a wise choice that seems to add body, wood spice and texture to the delicacy. Only 210 cases were produced. Most people will probably consume this wine too early, but it will certainly be more satisfying after 2020. Score: 93 points.

Stags’ Leap 2013 Petite Sirah (Napa Valley): $39. I looked up all my scores over the years for this wine, and every one of them was at least 90 points, except for the 2009. This ’13 is consistent with that history. It’s a good Petite Sirah, darkly hued, dry and tannic, with deep, rich blackberry jam, espresso, black currant, licorice, beef teriaki and black pepper flavors. The grapes come from all over the valley, north and south. The wine was aged for a year in partially new American oak, which brings notes of smoke and dill. It will probably live for decades without gaining in complexity, so drink it whenever you want. The alcohol is 14.1%, and interestingly, the blend includes Syrah, Grenache, Carignane and Mourvedre, which makes it a California Rhône. Score: 90 points.

Stags’ Leap 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): $58. The wine is a blend of all five classic Bordeaux varieties, grown partly on the Stags Leap estate but also sourced from other vineyards in the valley. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates, with its dark color, hard tannins, and intensely concentrated black currant and cassis flavors, but Malbec—currently out of fashion in Napa—as the second grape adds darkness and tannins and plummy violets. Approximately one-third new French oak brings the usual toasty, smoky notes. At the age of three-plus years, it’s aloof. Everything is muted, seen through a glass darkly. But there are tantalizing hints of its future. I don’t mean to suggest you cellar this wine for a long time. But it will reward patience over the next six years. Score: 90 points.

Hindsight 2014 20/20 Red Wine (Napa Valley): $35. Convincing enough, a hearty, slightly rustic blend with enough sophistication to satisfy. Bone dry, with thick, scoury tannins and flavors of black tea, cassis, leather, coffee, cocoa nib, white pepper and smoky cedar wood. The blend is all five classic Bordeaux varieties, with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating both in percentage and taste. Drink now. Score: 89 points.

Trotter 1/16 2013 Oak Canyon Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $75. The name refers to the owner’s position in a family of 16 children. The label doesn’t say “Coombsville,” which legally it could, because that AVA was approved in early 2012. Nonetheless, the wine, which is 100% Cab, is from a tiny, biodynamically-farmed vineyard in that southeastern Napa appellation. The region is cool, by Napa standards, in fact cooler than Carneros. Perhaps that accounts for the hard tannins here, or perhaps it’s a deficiency of tannin management. There is a solid core of black currants, and the long, spicy finish typical of Napa Cabernets. The alcohol is only 14.3%, and a mere 75 cases were produced. It’s an impressive wine from a young winery, but the tannins are uncomfortably astringent, and make me wonder if they’ll ever drop out before the fruit disappears. Score: 88 points.

Michael David 2014 Earthquake Petite Sirah (Lodi); $26. One of these days I’m going to have to come up with a more creative way of describing a wine like this than “Will be good with short ribs.” Having said, that, this wine will be good with—short ribs! Or barbecue and such. To call it rustic and brawny is an understatement. The official alcohol is 15%, and there’s a chocolate-covered raisin superripeness, with a grapy, sappy blackberry liqueur sweetness and plenty of smoke from 1-1/2 years in French oak. It’s a solid Petite Sirah from this warm, inland Delta region. Score: 88 points.

Moniker 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino County): $25. The Thornhill family established their vineyard, on the east side of the Russian River in the Ukiah Valley, in 2002, and started the winery two years later. This Cab, which contains 1% Petit Verdot, has plenty of varietal character. It’s dark, dry, full-bodied and tannic, with a wealth of black currant, cassis and tea flavors, and a smoky edge from 22 months of aging in 36% new American oak. This muscular wine is fine for drinking now. The alcohol is 14.5%. Score: 88 points.

Merisi 2014 Diener Vineyard Petite Sirah (Lake County): $35. If you can get the cork out through the hard plastic capsule without slicing off a finger, you’ll find a pretty good wine. It’s big and bold, in the Petite Sirah fashion, with sturdy tannins and dense blackberry and mulberry, beef jerky, sugared expresso, clove, anise, pepper and toast flavors. The alcohol is high, at 15.3%, which gives it prickly heat, as well as a glyceriney sweetness. Score: 87 points.

Pamela’s 2013 Un-Oaked Chardonnay (Sonoma County); $16. Unoaked Chardonnay depends for richness on the grapes. They need concentration of flavor to succeed without oak, because Chardonnay itself is a fairly featureless variety. This wine succeeds in that respect. It’s easy to drink, offering plenty of Chardonnay personality, with tropical fruit, peach, honeydew melon, lime, vanilla and honeysuckle flavors. From Ron Rubin Vineyards and Winery. Score: 87 points.

Aberrant Cellars 2015 “Philtrum” Pinot Noir Blanc (Willamette Valley): $29. I never thought Pinot Noir was a good variety to make a dry white table wine from (despite its efficacy in sparkling wine), and this wine doesn’t change my view. This is a strong wine, with intense orange, strawberry, tropical fruit, hazelnut, roasted coconut and vanilla flavors that remind me of a dessert macaroon, although it is dry. It was fermented and aged, in roughly equal proportions, in stainless steel and oak. I admire the low alcohol, only 13%, and the brisk acidity, but for me the wine lacks delicacy and subtlety. You can call it a white wine for red wine drinkers. Score: 86 points.

Locations Non-Vintage F5 Rosé (France); $??.  This is a dry rosé made entirely from Grenache. The winery says the vines are 50 years old and dry farmed. The wine is unoaked. There’s no vintage date on the label or the paperwork. It has some nice raspberry and watermelon flavors, and a spicy pepperiness. Acidity is quite high, bordering on sour, and there’s a disturbing smell and taste of unripe greenness, which for me really lowers the score. 82 points.

Locations Non-Vintage F4 Red Wine (Portugal); $??. Smells disagreeable, with green, mushroom and cough drop flavors, and the taste is similar, although there’s a little raspberry-cherry fruit. The alcohol, at 15%, gives the thin flavor heat. The blend is Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira and Turiga Franca. Score: 82 points.

Michael David 2014 Petite Petit (Lodi); $18. This is, I suppose, a junior version of the winery’s Earthquake Petite Sirah. It’s two-thirds the price, anyway. The name comes from the 15% of Petit Verdot in the blend, which seems more like a marketing decision than a winemaking one, so they could call it Petite Petit. The wine is overpriced. It’s rustic and brawny, with blackberry and oak flavors and sturdy tannins. Some mustiness seriously mars it. Score: 82 points.

Oak Grove 2014 Family Reserve Petite Sirah (California); $9. Petite Sirah in name only. Smells like old cola that was left out on the counter overnight, stale and harsh. Feels brutish in the mouth, with no structure and some sugary sweetness. Barely drinkable. Score: 80 points.


I guarantee you Repubs will raise taxes. On whom? Hint: it’s not the rich

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I’ve known many multi-millionaires and quite a few billionaires due to my former position in the wine industry. I’ve liked them all—but I have to say it’s unconscionable how frivolously so many of them spend their money, while 99% of ordinary Americans struggle just to get by.

This isn’t meant to criticize the billionaires. They’re doing what the law allows. And many are philanthropic. It’s just that, ever since the days of Reagan, we’ve seen these tax rates on the ultra-wealthy plummet, leaving them to spend their fortunes on another mansion or five, or another Degas, or another pair of Manola Blahniks they’ll wear once. Meanwhile, Joe Sixpack scrounges to put bread on the table.

Everybody knows that taxes should be a matter of fairness. The more you earn, the more you should pay. If there was enough money in America for everything we want, it would be okay to tax everyone at the same rate—the famous “flat tax” so beloved by Republicans. But there’s nowhere near enough money for everything. The solution, I believe, is a graduated or “progressive” income tax—which is what Democrats have favored since the days of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

But Repubs hate the progressive income tax. And they’re running the show.

If you think there’s not enough money now for America’s needs, wait until Trump’s budget-smashing bills come due. There’s the “Wall”: $25 billion at a minimum. There’s the vastly expanded payroll for immigration and enforcement bureaucrats, and the vastly increased legal costs to deport millions of people. We don’t even know yet how much he wants to lavish on an already bloated Pentagon, but you know it will be many hundreds of billions of dollars more than now. There’s the $1 triilion (with a “t”) he supposedly wants for infrastructure. On top of all this wasteful spending, he wants to cut taxes yet again, starting with the wealthiest Americans.

Honestly, I will never figure out why these angry white people in the Rust Belt who voted for him aren’t complaining. I think they’re as upset about it as I am—they have to be!–but they’re afraid to criticize their guy.

You know who’s really feeling the heat? Governors. With the refusal of this regime to even consider marginal tax rates or an increase in the estate tax, Governors are hitting the panic button. Their states are falling apart. They have worker pensions they are obligated to fulfill. And when and if Trump succeeds in throwing millions of Americans off healthcare, they’re going to be stuck with that problem too. So what are these Governors doing about it?

First, consider the concept of a regressive tax. It is “a tax that takes a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high-income earners.”

Examples of regressive taxes are the “parcel taxes” that most communities, including mine in Oakland, levy on homeowners (aside and apart from the property tax itself). Let’s say the county places a parcel tax on each homeowner, to pay for mosquito abatement or libraries. Every homeowner pays the same, whether his parcel is a 350-square foot condo or a 5,000 square-foot mansion or a million square-foot office building. That’s insane. It’s unfair. It’s a regressive tax.

One of the most regressive taxes in America is the gasoline tax. We all pay exactly the same amount per gallon, a combination of the Federal gas tax and whatever the state gas tax is. We pay it at the pump when we fill up. But who does the gas tax hurt the most? Low-income and middle-income people, who are the ones who drive the most to get to their jobs. In an area like the Bay Area, where housing is so expensive, middle-class folks are actually having to move 50, 100, 200 miles away from their workplaces, just to afford a home in a town with good schools. Every time you raise the gas tax, you’re literally stealing money from them.

Back to those Governors. “States, in Search of Funds, Turn to Gas Tax,” is the headline in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that describes how “nearly 20 states, with both Republican and Democratic governors, have raised gas taxes…in recent years to generate funds…”. Moreover, “at least a dozen more are considering such measures.” These Governors range from deep-red Alaska’s Bill Walker to deep-red Tennessee’s Bill Haslam and deep-red Indiana’s Eric Holcomb. Now, we all know that Republicans always campaign on promises to “Read my lips, no new taxes.” But not even the most conservative Governor wants to run a state so bankrupt that bridges are falling down, dams collapsing, roads turning into mine fields, school districts going broke, and other examples of societal breakdown. As Haslam told the Journal, he really doesn’t want to raise the gas tax, but “I decided it was important to do the right thing.”

Well, good for Gov. Haslam! We want our governors to do the right thing. Taxes do have to go up. But why in such a regressive way as an increase in the gas tax? Why not a progressive income tax, in which the more you make, the greater a percentage of your income you pay? Does San Francisco’s multi-billionaire Getty family—which really produces nothing for anyone, since their wealth is passed along from generation to generation to the lucky sperm kids—really need to have their taxes cut, yet again?

Clearly not. But here’s Trump coming out with his tax plan, which “would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households,” according to the Brookings Institution, hardly a bastion of liberalism.

Tea Party people: Really? You’re down with that? Is more tax breaks for billionaires (including the Goldman Sachs crowd you hate, but that Trump stuffed his Cabinet with) the tradeoff you’re willing to pay for the Wall and the Muslim ban?

God help you.

 


How did reporters know so much, so fast, about McMaster?

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This post is about journalistic process—how the work of reporting actually happens. For illustrative purposes, I will focus on the appointment of Gen. McMaster as National Security Advisor.

Now, very few of us had ever heard of him before this weekend, when he appeared at Trump’s side. Naturally, we were curious about him. Who is he? What has he done? What sort of General? Most of all, we wanted to know about his character—for “character is destiny,” as Heraclitus noted 2,500 years ago.

We didn’t have to wait very long to learn about the General’s character. Within moments, literally, of the official announcement, we heard the most glowing encomiums about him.

“A smart strategic thinker,” Forbes told us.

“The smartest and most capable military officer of his generation,” CNN proclaimed.

“Widely respected,” said the New York Times.

“Fiercely outspoken,” said the Washington Post.

“The Army’s smartest officer,” said Slate.

“A long and distinguished career,” said NBC.

“A cutting-edge strategist,” said the Washington Times.

Now, McMaster may well be all these things. I don’t know. But, as a journalist myself, who understands how reporting works, here’s my question: How did these media come up so quickly with all this flattery? How do they know these things before they’ve even had time to do basic research? I mean, within minutes of the appointment, every media outlet—right and left, print, broadcast and digital—had McMaster walking on water.

I’m not talking about fast info on things like what books he’s written, what commands he’s held, and other aspects of his curriculum vitae. I mean the stuff about his character. How do reporters come to these lofty conclusions almost immediately?

Think about it: If you’re a reporter, you should have at least 3 sources for most stories–more, even, for something this big. You have to call them or text or email them, or even meet with them. It takes time; they don’t always get back to you instantly when you leave a message. Or someone will say, “You know, I’m not the best person for what you’re looking for. Try ____.” You can check out Google and Wikipedia, but those, too, take time, and are not always reliable. Journalism doesn’t happen fast; it’s not microwaved food, it’s a slow-cooked stew. And yet, we saw absolute unanimity about McMaster, in little more than the time it takes to blink.

One explanation I’ve heard for this phenomenon is that McMaster is well-known among journalistic circles, so that the Big Reporters at Big Media have been acquainted with him for years. I “get” that. When I was a wine journalist, there were certain people in the industry I called all the time—and so did the other writers—because they were credentialed, and would take the time to answer questions, both on and off the record. Such individuals are worth their weight in gold to reporters, who are always on deadline and need reputable people to quote.

Still, I always was aware of the downside: you have to be very careful about your sources. You may like them, you may respect them, you may trust them—but never forget that they, too, have agendas.

I don’t know what McMaster’s agenda is, if he has one. He may be just the right guy to control Trump’s impulses (although, to be honest, I doubt it). But we should wonder about the swiftness with which these glowing accolades were showered upon McMaster. In this era of fake news, and especially with an administration addicted to it, we need to demand the most rigorous standards of reporting.


The Wall Street Journal and Pruitt: #FakeReporting

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Yesterday, we saw how Hitler demolished Germany’s free press, resulting in dictatorship, world war, the destruction of Germany, and Hitler’s demise by his own hand, as his empire collapsed around him–as evil empires are wont to do. Today, here’s an example of how one media organization–Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal–is conspiring with Donald J. Trump to destroy the truthful reporting upon which American journalism always has rested.

Having the rightwing Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel get the first interview with Scott Pruitt, Trump’s new Environmental Protection Agency czar, is like having Der Stürmer, one of the official Nazi propaganda magazines, do a profile of Heinrich Himmler on what a good guy he was. In other words, don’t expect any hard-hitting questions, or challenges to demonstrably false assertions.

Strassel issues her first lie right away, when she claims that Pruitt is not a “fierce conservative…who views the agency in a hostile light.” Really? Who was it who sued the EPA at least 13 times? Pruitt. Who says that climate change isn’t anything to worry about? Pruitt. Who has been a shill for the oil and gas industry? Pruitt.

True, in the interview, Pruitt tosses out a few smokescreens to make himself sound less extreme than his record proves he is. For example, he vows—or maybe that’s not the right word, he mentions 1,300 Superfund sites that need to be cleaned up—an EPA responsibility. But whose administration has pledged to slash EPA’s funding? Yes, it’s his boss, Trump, who during the campaign called the EPA “a disgrace” and will likely fire 50% of its employees, according to the person who led his transition team on EPA matters. That would be in keeping with Pruitt’s environmental philosophy; when he was Oklahoma’s Attorney General, he “eliminated the environmental law unit of his office.”

By following this policy that benefits shareholders rather than protecting (as in Environmental Protection Agency) Americans from dirty air and polluted water, Pruitt will do a lot of harm. He is going to “withdraw the Clean Power Plan,” Obama’s premier climate law designed to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. He will kill the 2015 Waters of the United States rule, part of the Clean Water Act, which lets the EPA protect “wetlands, territorial seas, rivers and tributaries, ponds, lakes and bays,” as if clean water were repugnant to Republicans. Pruitt called the legality of both the CPP and the WUS into question; he sued the EPA over them.

How about carbon dioxide, the leading gas associated with the greenhouse effect and global warming? Says Strassel, “Mr. Pruitt says he won’t prejudge the question,” as if there’s not already more than enough evidence for any reasonable person to arrive at a conclusion. That makes Pruitt sound fair-minded; nobody wants an administrator who will “prejudge” issues. But: Will Mr. Pruitt prejudge the question of whether Adam and Eve and little Cain and Abel played with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden? He may well believe it. Pruitt, a Baptist deacon whose first job, out of law school, was founding something called Christian Legal Services, apparently believes that even if there is climate change, God’s creation, Earth, will “self-correct” in time to save us—hence, man need do nothing. Pressed by Democrats during his confirmation hearings to state whether he believes in the reality of climate change, Pruitt, no doubt due to his religious beliefs, refused to answer. More study is needed, he told Bernie Sanders—to Sanders’ evident astonishment. In Washington, “more study” means “kick the can down the road until everybody forgets about it.”

To Strassel, Pruitt “defies the stereotype of the fierce conservative who wants to destroy the agency he runs.” (“Defies”? Tell that to the EPA employees who are “coming to work in tears” before the massacre begins.) Defensively, Strassel predicts that Pruitt will encounter “considerable hostility” in implementing his plans. From whom? The union that represents EPA’s “bureaucracy.”

Now, “bureaucracy” is one of those dog whistles conservatives love when they’re talking about civil servants who actually believe in the mission of the agencies that employ them. Strassel’s funniest line—although I don’t think she meant it to beis “these bureaucrats have the ability to sabotage his leadership.” Another dog-whistle, that word “sabotage.” Makes EPA’s employees sound like terrorists. How would Strassel describe what the Republican Congress and attack machine did to Obama? “Sabotage” would be accurate (and Strassel was one of the most vicious writers in her hating on Obama and Hillary). Even more ironic is Pruitt’s accusation that President Obama’s EPA believed that that “the States are a vessel of Federal will. They were aggressive about dictating to the States and displacing their authority.”

Yes, we all know that Republicans love state’s rights! Question time: Will President Trump allow states to determine which undocumented immigrants stay? Will President Trump allow states to bring in Muslims from the seven countries, if his ban passes? Will President Trump leave it to states to allow women to have abortions? Will President Obama allow the states and cities to have sanctuary policies? Is President Trump going to leave it to the states to determine if a florist or baker can discriminate against gay people? Will Trump allow states to retain Obamacare if they want to?

So much for state’s rights.

So, more than a little Orwellian doublespeak. This “opinion” piece is really extraordinary for Strassel’s hagiographic fawning on her subject–an embarrassment for someone purporting to be a journalist. But Strassel is hardly the only one at the Journal who has tossed aside real reporting in favor of propaganda, which is why it’s the Der Stürmer of American newspapers.

For a good part of 2016, the Wall Street Journal reflected Rupert Murdoch’s discomfort with Trump’s candidacy. His election took them by surprise, as it did with Democrats. Evidently, a memo drifted down from Murdoch HQ after the election: change course. It’s amusing, now, to see writers like Strassel contorting themselves to make nice to the new POTUS.  A deal of some kind has gone down: Trump, notably, hasn’t included the Wall Street Journal in his scathing criticism of other newspapers, like the New York Times and the Washington Post. He doesn’t have to: they’re doing his dirty work for him.


How to Kill a Democracy. Lesson 1: Destroy the Free Press

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How Hitler did it: A Lesson for Trump

1925, From Mein Kampf: Hitler: “The Arbeiter-Zeitung [newspaper is a] concentrated solution of lies…The so-called press is artificial…a blemish upon liberal democracy…indecent…My revulsion of the…press became unlimited…It is of paramount interest to the state and the nation to prevent these newspaper scribblers…The state, therefore, has the duty of preventing any mischief. It must particularly exercise strict control over the press. With ruthless determination [the state] must place [the press] in the service of the state and the nation. The state must not forget that all means must serve an end; it must not let itself be confused by the drivel about so-called ‘freedom of the press’…”

Jan. 30, 1933: Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.

Feb. 4, 1933: German Parliament passes “Ordinance for the protection of the German people.” Gives Hitler power to ban newspapers of his political rivals. Violators subject to arrest and detainment without charge.

Feb. 8, 1933: “The purge began.” Jacques Delarue, “The History of the Gestapo,” 1962.

Feb. 27, 1933: Reichstag [German Parliament] fire. Nazis blame it on Communist terrorists.

Feb. 28, 1933: German Parliament passes Reichstag Fire Decree, in the name of combating Communist terror. Nazis immediately outlaw the Communist press. Article 1 of the Decree suspends the Weimar Constitution’s provisions for press freedom. Among newspapers banned: Vorwärts, run by the Social Democratic Party. (Hitler had sued Vorwärts in 1923 and won a libel case.)

Spring, 1933: Control of newspapers given to Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment, Hitler’s Bannon. From the book “The Nazi Dictatorship” (1936): “Dr. Goebbels…had extensive experience in reviling the ‘gutter press.’…The editorial and news staffs of all papers were gleichgeshaltet [re-organized]…by the appointment of Nazis to responsible supervisory positions…local censors were appointed…The entire contents of every paper must be approved before it can go to press…Goebbels decided that the sensibilities of the public…must be protected.”

Oct. 4, 1933: Reich Press Law passed. Makes newspapers “servants of the state.” Jewish and liberal editors fired. Among papers shut down was the liberal publication, Vossische Zeitung—Germany’s equivalent of the New York Times—which had been founded in 1704. The only newspapers remaining in Germany are Nazi-owned or oriented, like Der Stürmer, which fomented hatred of Jews.

Jan. 4, 1934: Hitler promises to make Germany “great” again.

Oct. 16, 1946: Julius Streicher, founder and publisher of Der Stürmer, found guilty of Crimes Against Humanity, hung at Nuremberg.

Feb. 18, 2017: Donald J. Trump, at political rally in Florida: “[The media] just don’t want to report the truth. They’re part of the problem, part of the corrupt system. They have their own agenda, and their agenda is not your agenda. But despite all their lies, misrepresentations, and false stories, they could not defeat us in the primaries, and they could not defeat us in the general election, and we will continue to expose them for what they are, and most importantly, we will continue to win, win, win. ”

(This is me, Steve). Why does Trump want to kill the free press in America? His goal is obvious, as it was in Hitler’s time. In this particular case, Trump’s Russia connection is a ticking time bomb. The revelations, probably followed by indictments, are coming; you can bet on it. When they do, he wants to be able to tell his supporters–those gullible people wearing their little “Make America Great Again” caps–that it’s all lies.

TOMORROW: Trump’s Der Stürmer: the Wall Street Journal’s exaltation of Scott Pruitt

 


Boeing: New Air Force One will be cozier, less costly

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BOEING CORPORATION

Corporate Headquarters

Memorandum

To: Executive Council; Board of Directors; Air Force One Division; Commercial Airplane Division; Defense, Space & Security Division; Human Resources

From: Dennis Muilenburg, CEO

Subject: Air Force One 747-8

Date: Feb. 20, 2017

As you are aware, President Trump has expressed concerns over the proposed cost of the next Air Force One. The President suggested in a tweet that the $4 billion price tag was “out of control.”

I had the honor of a one-on-one meeting with the President last week, at which this topic was of central concern. As I explained to reporters in Trump Tower following the meeting, “We made some great progress on simplifying requirements for Air Force One, streamlining the process, streamlining certification.”

I would like to share with you some of the simplifications I and my team envision in this next generation of Air Force One.

  • Eliminate up to four restrooms. The prior design had called for six restrooms. The new design calls for two: One for the President and his immediate family, and the other for everyone else.
  • Shorten the airliner’s length. The early design called for the new 747-8 to be the longest and second-largest airliner ever built, 232 feet in length, 196 feet in wingspan, and 4,786 square feet. Our redesign calls for square footage to be reduced by roughly 50 percent. This will necessitate eliminating up to 60 passengers from the carrying capacity. President Trump suggested that the media seating area be removed and replaced by a snack bar.
  • Interior cabinets and components all were originally to have been custom-built, using American craftsmen. However, in order to effect cost savings, all cabinets and components, including plumbing, refrigeration and heating systems, media centers, and all furnishings and fixtures, will be acquired off-the-shelf from Home Depot and Best Buy.
  • The Conference Room will be eliminated, as the President suggested he will have no need of in-flight conferences. The space (450 square feet) instead will be re-designated as a fashion-storage/changing area for the First Lady and other members of the First Family.
  • There will be no changes to the original designs of the following areas: the Presidential Stateroom, Presidential Office, Presidential Living Quarters and President’s Private Dining Room.
  • Finally, the historic coloring of Air Force One—a white body with blue nose—will change to white and red, to reflect the President’s red “Make America Great Again” caps. Savings will be enhanced by purchasing paint at wholesale from Kelly-Moore and hiring painters through Craigs List. President Trump emphasized that the red color is not an allusion to Russia.

We feel these changes will not only save money, but make Air Force One more family-friendly for our new leaders. I look forward to your comments.

Dennis


What do Republicans have in common with German and Japanese soldiers?

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There’s a German term, kadaverische Gehorsamkeit, that means “corpse-like obedience.” It refers to a supposed personality tendency of Germans to be docile and unquestioning in the face of authority. The idea is illustrated by a story Stalin described, at the Teheran conference in 1943, that was revealed by Averell Harriman in a memoir.

“He [Stalin] told of visiting Leipzig in 1907, when some two hundred German workers failed to appear at an important rally because, Stalin said, there was no controller on the railway platform to punch their tickets on arrival.” Without properly punched tickets, the German workers “were too timid to leave the station.”

That is kadaverische Gehorsamkeit–corpse-like obedience. (Incidentally, Hannah Arendt, in her little book “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,” refers to Kadavergehorsam [a shortened way of spelling it] as characterizing Adolf Eichmann’s “carrying out orders that are clearly criminal” due to his concept of “duty.”)

Why would anyone stand by someone advocating “orders that are clearly criminal”? I asked myself that question yesterday when reading this article, “Backers stay true to Trump,” in the San Francisco Chronicle. It describes how—despite Trump’s historically low approval ratings and “repeated contradictions and falsehoods”–his “hard-core supporters’ faith appears to be unshakeable.” Indeed, the most recent Pew Research Center poll found that a whopping 84% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters approve of him. (By contrast, only 8% of Democrats/Lean Democratic voters share that approval.)

What are we to make of this “stand by your man” obstinacy by Republicans? Kadaverische Gehorsamkeit–corpse-like obedience.

One of the Trumpists interviewed for the Chronicle article showed how far these people are willing to rationalize Trump’s erratic behavior. The man, described as “the former president of the Sun City Conservative Club outside Las Vegas,” dismissed the reports about Flynn and the Russian connection; he just doesn’t care. Another pro-Trump guy, a county Republican chairman from Ohio, echoed the White House/Bannon line: All the chaos and false moves, the slapdowns by the Courts and the embarrassing litany of lies, “are [coming from] people inside the administration who are trying to undermine him.”

This brings us back to World War II, and another example of kadaverische Gehorsamkeit. Members of my generation no doubt remember that, well into the 1950s, there were reports of Japanese soldiers still hiding out on remote Pacific islands, who refused to believe (or didn’t know) that their Emperor had surrendered (on August 15, 1945) and were determined to fight the war out. These “remaining Japanese soldiers” (Zanryu nipponhei) “continued to fight the enemy forces, and later local police, for years after the war was over.” They, too, were kadaverische Gehorsamkeit—obedient to the point of obstinate refusal to accept reality.

Such people by clinical definition cannot have their minds changed, or, if they can, only under the most difficult circumstances of therapy. Will these Trumpian Republicans remain obedient corpses, even unto the end? We can only hope they’ll wake up. Meanwhile, we—the sane—will continue #TheResistance.

TRUMP’S LIE OF THE DAY: from his @RealDonaldTrump twitter feed: “The repeal and replacement of ObamaCare is moving fast!”  #Lie. It’s hopelessly stalled. Even Congressional Republicans have no idea what to “replace” it with, if and when they repeal it.


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