I was away last week and when I returned I noted a lead story in national news service that bragged, “Democrat Danny O’Connor almost won it in his race against Republican Troy Balderson” and then went on to crow about how close he had come and the ensuing future “Blue Wave.” Well, I hate to rain on your parade, Progressives, but celebrating “almost winning” doesn’t get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks!

In my younger days I was a pretty fair college track athlete. However, many times did I endure the slaps on the back and comments of my teammates, “Good job, you ALMOST won that one.” So, experience allows me to dampen your elation Progressives, because “almost winning” is simply LOSING! Almost winning didn’t put my name in the record books; didn’t give me a spot on the USA Olympic Team; didn’t put my face on the Wheaties Box or in the Nike ads.

I’m a Progressive who wants to see America continue to move forward as a democratic society, not a fascist state; as a leader in science, education and human rights, not as a puppet of the oligarchs; towards what inspired those who wrote our Constitution and who looked to the day when we might be world leaders (we were once…remember?), Where do you think we’d be if on June 7, 1944, Dwight Eisenhower had said, “Don’t be discouraged because WE ALMOST WON!” Yet I see the pundits on tv and in the logs yelling “Looking good because we ALMOST won that one.” The truth is, if you “almost won” you’d better start trying harder.  Do you hear me, Progressives?



High Desert

Back to Oregon…back to Fort Rock where several miles beyond pine forest meets high desert sage. The summer heat draws to birds to the shallow basins where water from the winter rains, caught on steel aprons and directed into underground cisterns, flows into these two sites and provides a source of life-giving water to many bird and mammal species.

Even though it was hot and dry, bird activity was much less this year than before. I logged in about 21 species in 3 days but many were only single sightings. But, only a year away from 80 I prided myself on still being able to camp out again, even though I needed the comfortable cot and foam futon to replace sleeping on the ground on a thin Thermopad. But away from the light pollution of our cities and two moonless nights, the star show was spectacular. How it brought back my many nights almost 60 years ago in the Arizona deserts.

Fort Rock

Fort Rock, Oregon

Ponderosa & Sage Ecotone


Water Basin


Photo BlindDSC03411(1)



Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jay 15

Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill 16

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler 14

Mourning Dove

MourningDove 14

Western Tanager

Western Tanager 3

Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker 22

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee 9

Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher 12

Brewer’s Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird 1

Mountain Chickadee

Mt Chickadee 20

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow 1

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting 4

Cassin’s Finch

Cassin's Finch 13

American Robin

Robin 13

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird 8

Western Bluebird

Western Bluebird 25

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker 21

White-headed Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker 24




Do As I Say, Not As I Do

“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump told his minions in Chicago yesterday. If not for the threat of protests I have no doubts he would have continued, paraphrasing Exodus 20:2-3 by saying “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of immigrants, out of the house of Democracy.”
Then he would have followed by taking credit for paraphrasing quotes of the Italian fascist dictator, Hitler’s ally, Benito Mussolini, in:
• The Press of Italy is free…as long as it supports the regime.”
• “Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. You in America will see that some day.”
• “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
• “We become the strongest…when we have no friends upon whom to lean, or to look to for moral guidance.”
Of course, at the end of WWII the Italian people executed Mussolini and dumped his body in a public square in Milan. We can only hope.

The Trumpian Circus

As a child, growing up in one of the beach cities of Southern California, I vividly recall the trained seal shows that were offered in many places to draw in tourists. This was before Marineland and Marine World and their huge tanks for dolphins and orcas, so seals (actually sea lions) were the big draw. The trainers would parade them out on the stage and they would clap their flippers and bark on command in an effort to get a dead anchovy thrown to them. It always seemed to me to be degrading to this beautiful animal that was so well suited to a life on the coast where they swam, fed, played and basked on the beaches and coastal rocks. Thankfully, this activity dissipated as other technological activities (massive roller coasters, etc.) became more and more popular and the massive aquaria (now in decline) took away the excitement of it.

I’d almost forgotten about the trained seal shows until this morning when I watched the Donald Trump rally in Montana on the morning news. I became aware that in this State, one of our largest but more minimally populated (a state that appears to pride itself by “still maintaining the values of the old American west” ), had latched onto some of the aspects of sea lion training that had long ago disappeared here in California. Of course, not having access to a sea coast, obviously Montana had to improvise. Luckily for them there was a significant element of registered Republicans to count on and when they applied the tried and true techniques developed by the old seal trainers on the coast to party members, having them to bark and clap on command from specific words (Obama, Hillary, etc.) and hand signals by a lead trainer, they responded brilliantly. Of course their incentive was the hope of getting that anchovy snack tossed their way but, as yet, it really hasn’t come. Lots of promises and only a few inedible packages of paper towels have been thrown out to any clapping/barking crowds, but they are trained well and anticipate that someday the anchovies will fly through the air in abundance.

What is truly surprising to me is that there are, within this crowd of trained seals, a number of those who currently have more anchovies than they can possibly eat…refrigerators not only full of anchovies but salmon, scallops and king crab, some of it already past the time for consumption. Yet these people for whatever reason believe they deserve more and willingly clap and bark in the hopes of getting it, buying more and more refrigerators for storage (and more and more guns to keep others from pillaging it!)

I’m glad that the trained seal shows have disappeared from the coast and I certainly wouldn’t want to live in Montana where they have just now been discovered.

As the Bible Tells Us So…

It always amazes me how many of our outspoken clergy (and particularly politicians) can locate obscure elements buried deep in the Bible to satisfy their immediate personal, social and moral dogmas, while ignoring those more notable ones that may be in deference to their biases. Such was evident in our Attorney General’s quoting Paul in Romans 13 regarding citizens to always submit to governments as “the authorities that exist have been established by God.” Using this as a justification, one has to accept that the atrocities of Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Hussein, Assad and others as being blessed by God. What bothers me most in our evolving political climate is the out-and-out ignorance of Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” This “Golden Rule”, along with the indisputable requirement of honesty and truthfulness was a primary focus of my father’s stern lessons to me as a child. But today, one can claim anything or accuse anyone, no matter its lack of factual value. I fear Trump’s actions when he finds in Deuteronomy 7:6 that God favors the Israelites exclusively (and then sent them out to murder everyone else.) Will he then convert to Judaism?

Curiosity Killed the Cat!

Again my curiosity gets the best of me. I am ever curious as to how you “Make America Great Again” by abolishing all the aspects that made it great in the first place. It seems analogous to reviving the automobile industry by eliminating the internal combustion engine, rubber tires and hydraulic brakes. But, what I have come to realize is how much the Republicans hated this country in the many years prior to Donald Trump. Obviously President Reagan– who we once believed was their icon– was not a supporter of dictatorships (“Mr. Gorbachev…tear down this wall!” -1987); or of eliminating immigration (“Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands.”-1981); on abolishing free trade (“I’ve seen in my lifetime what happens when leaders forget these timeless principles. They seek to protect industries and jobs, but they end up doing the opposite. One economic lesson of the 1930’s is protectionism increases international tensions.”-1983). Yet, in a little more than a year, and with the unwavering support of a Republican Congress, POTUS has cut these values to the bone. So I’m curious. What was it about President Reagan’s policies that so aggravated the Republican Party that they so bravely hid from us and only now can openly and unswervingly support the policies of Trump and his abolishment of almost all of them? And I continue to wonder, how was it I missed this hatred of country in the many years of associating with Republican friends and neighbors. Curious, indeed!

Child’s Play

From the results of the interviews recently conducted by the New York Times of Republican Trump supporters– now approaching 90%–one insidious statistic burns through: “If what he does; no matter how illegal; no matter how immoral; no matter how dishonest; no matter how incompetent; irritates the Democrats and Progressives, then we love and support it!” Given this, I would fully expect the Republican reaction to Trump deciding to create a national waste dump in Yosemite Valley to be, “Gosh darn, I used to love vacationing there, it’s such a pretty place, but, hey, this will absolutely freak out those environmental liberals so I’m all for it!”

Our national problem isn’t so much lack of education, it’s a lack of maturity; a lack of the ability to weigh problems and potential solutions on their merits rather than on who proposes them (remember, the Republican Congress refused to pass their own bills if Obama supported them). It’s our recently achieved demand of instant gratification. Why take time to look at the facts, review the options, weigh the consequences when it’s easier to stand there and scream “Make America Great Again!” It reminds me of two neighbors who both hate hard rock music but don’t get along otherwise. One gleefully decides that if he blasts loud electric guitar recordings all day over his stereo he’ll put up with the hated sounds because he knows how it so irritates the other. Childlike? Yes, and that’s where we are politically. Hopefully the next generation will have a bit more humility.