Wine & Prayers

Time for an update in the Wine Talk department.  (Please, feel free to share any good wines that you may have encountered.  I’d be happy to post them and your comments!)

In celebrating my birthday recently, our neighbors and good friends, Hugh and Jen, brought two lovely wines over to enjoy:

Let’s start with the Red:

Bend Cabernet Sauvignon

 

 

 

If you like the taste of black cherries and blackberries, this is the wine for you!  I personally love the variation of different berries in a Cab.  To me, they enrich and deepen its taste.  The Bend also leaves a hint of floral on your palette at the end – a lovely touch! This California wine (2015) is by Dario De Conti.

And for the White:

Tesoro Della Regina
Pinot Grigio

 

 

 

Another lovely flavor in this wonderful Pinot – this time it’s a blend of plum and cherry.  So delicious and refreshing!  Italian Pinots, like this, from the Veneto or Tuscany area never disappoint.

 

Both of these lovely wines are available at your local Total Wine and More at very reasonable prices.  Thanks to our friends, Hugh and Jen, for sharing such wonderful picks!

While you are sipping and sharing … please … take a moment this week to say a prayer for our friends and family in Florida as Irma sets her sights on our beautiful Sunshine State.

Stay safe, my friends.

Shalom

 

GOP: Listen Up!

Last night, all eyes were on the Weather Channel as we watched Hurricane Harvey slowly spin its way through the Gulf of Mexico with the south shores of Texas clearly in its sights.  We closed our eyes and silently said a prayer for those who were being affected.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., our President had more pressing priorities – like pardoning the former Sheriff of Maricopa County (Arizona) who had violated a court order to stop employing racial profiling tactics within his department and, in so doing, he was found guilty of criminal contempt of court.  This is an 85-year-old man who had no boundaries, no respect for the oath he took to uphold the laws, and one that appeared to enjoy doling out suffering and humiliation wherever and whenever he could.  You know, the proverbial bully in the school yard.  Let me tell you a little more about him.

Let’s take a look at these on-point examples evidencing behavior by his staff that went unheeded and clearly, unpunished.

On one occasion, one of his officers stopped a five-month pregnant Latina woman as she pulled into her home driveway.  When she got out of the car, the officer asked her to sit on the hood.  When she refused, he pulled her arms behind her and slammed her (stomach first) into the side of the vehicle three times, then left her in the back of a patrol car for 30 minutes with no air conditioning.  He cited her for not having identification; a charge that was later changed to failure to provide proof of insurance – which she later provided in court.

On another occasion, during one of the Sheriff’s well-known early-morning raids in an effort to round up undocumented immigrants, Sheriff’s deputies burst into an adjacent home (not the target) which was occupied by a Latino family, and searched the premises without a warrant.  They zip-tied a father and 12-year-old son (both U.S. citizens) and made them sit curbside with other illegal immigrants for more than an hour – in spite of having committed no crime and having no connection to the targeted house.

Both of these examples came directly from the Justice Department’s civil rights complaint – paragraphs 62 and 67, respectively.

This is a Sheriff who looked the other way when a young man who had been taken into custody was strapped down in a chair, restrained at the wrists, and had a towel placed over his mouth for an undetermined amount of time – until he died of “positional asphyxiation.”  Imagine that family’s pain.

This is also the Sheriff who failed to investigate over 400 sex crimes (the majority of which involved children) due to his directive to prioritize low-level immigration offenses over the more serious sex crimes, resulting in unspeakable pain to innocent children while he simultaneously failed to meet his law enforcement responsibilities – to say the least.

And then, upon hearing of the questionable status of President Obama’s birth certificate, this is the man who, unsolicited, took it upon himself to personally investigate the matter.  His investigation turned up nothing – except a $10,000 expenditure for a Hawaiian trip for one of his deputies for which the taxpayers were handed the tab.  It has been estimated that former-Sheriff Arpaio’s actions have cost Maricopa County taxpayers more than $200 million dollars and that figure continues to be adjusted upwards as claims continue to be filed.

This is also the man who sat before Judge Snow in his original trial, sworn under oath, who was finally forced to admit that he had hired a private investigator to investigate the Judge’s wife with regard to an alleged comment she made by an undisclosed source.  We all recognized that for what it was – dirt-digging – with the hope of using the results to derail the legal proceedings.

“A fine patriot!” is what Trump calls him.  A “good man.”  Someone who had performed an “admirable job at law enforcement at the federal and local levels.”

Mr. President, either read the whole article or get another advisor.  This man swore to uphold the laws, not break them or bend them to fit his will.

This pardon was at the least, undeserved and at the most, amoral, unethical, shameful, appalling, unconscionable, and an affront to the entire American judicial system.

GOP:  Listen up.  Trump is going to bury you.  By sitting back and taking no action and allowing this Presidency to play itself out does nothing except make you look weak, ineffective, spineless and cowardly.

Be advised that we will continue to speak to the injustices your myopic viewpoints have enabled.

And we will speak out loudly.

With One Voice.

The Dragon Rears Its Ugly Head

 

I am shocked and I am saddened.  Most of all, I am sickened by the ugly, heartless and brutal actions that occurred in Charlottesville.

This isn’t some peaceful protest on a far-away continent that somehow went horribly wrong.

This was right here in our own backyard.

White supremacy, bigotry, hatred, violence, murder.  People dressed up in riot gear, faces covered lest they be identified – too chicken to stand unmasked for what they believe in – and with sheep mentalities – spoiling for a fight and beating on an innocent man because of the color of his skin.  You disgust me.  And let me tell you – you disgust a lot of America.  You are NOT who we are or who we have become.

We fought this fight before – in the violence of the South that was prevalent in the 1950’s – and again – in the 1960’s when three civil rights activists in Mississippi were murdered and a prominent NAACP leader died in a fire bombing.

We did not rest until we avenged those deaths and brought those responsible, forward to face the consequences of their actions – and we will do so again.

And what do we say about Mr. Trump who cannot call it for what it is?  Did anyone hear the words “white supremacy” in his comments?

No, I didn’t think so.  And you may wonder why that is.

Are there people of power who really believe that this is a country only for white men?  Of course there are.  Look around.  They aren’t hard to find.  The real question is whether The Donald is one of them. What was it that Scare-A-Moochi said?  Oh, yeah … A fish sinks – from the head down.

The defense rests, Your Honor.

 

Chinese Laundry

 

In the early morning hours of July 4, 2017, US military and intelligence personnel watched as North Korean’s leader, Kim Jong Un, walked around the launch site of a ICBM missile – and they watched him for more than an hour.  Why not take the shot and end the drama?

First, we need to know what fuels Kim Jong Un’s hatred of the US.  It is a deep-seated and deeply-ingrained belief that everything evil — is the US.  Let’s take a look back.

At the end of WWII, US Col. Dean Rusk drew a line across Korea at the 38th parallel – a division across a disputed region that Russia agreed upon.  The Russians backed the North and installed Kim Il Sung to govern it, while the US backed the South.  In 1950, Sung invaded the South in an effort to “unify” Korea, only to eventually be pushed back by the arrival of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.  The Chinese became involved and pushed MacArthur back to roughly the 38th parallel.  It was a conflict that lasted three years, 1 month and 2 days during which time the US Air Force dropped 635,000 tons of explosives and 32,000 tons of napalm on North Korea.  When military targets waned, the military targeted hydroelectric plants and irrigation dams, flooding fields and ruining crops.  In the end, North Korea had 1.3 million civilian and military casualties; South Korea had a combined total of 3 million casualties; China lost 600,000 men; and the US lost 33,000 military personnel.  An armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 – signaling a truce between the North and the South.

North Korea never forgot that attempt of annihilation and vowed to begin a struggle against US Imperialism that starts as early as 5 years of age for North Korean children who are taught that above all else, they should grow to prevail over the clear certainty of an invasion from US forces.  This mandate is even more effective today because of Kim Jong Un’s tight control on outside forces.  There is no access to the Internet; communications are measured to reinforce the principles of self-reliance – to the extent that even today, many North Koreans have never seen an American, let alone be witness to the discrepancies between their teachings and reality.

While he attended Kim Il Sung Military University, it is likely that Kim Jong Un was made aware of other failed nuclear stands such as that of Muammar Gaddafi (former Prime Minister of Libya) who surrendered his nuclear weapons program in response to Western demands in 2003, only to be beaten to death 8 years later.

It appears that Kim Jong Un has a different vision for North Korea – one that will continue his country’s philosophy of “juche” – self-reliance and independence.  And the quickest and most effective way to communicate that to the world is through a display of nuclear prowess.  He has the fuel (the long-standing indoctrination against Western beliefs) and the weapon (ICBMs).

So, here we are – not willing to take a shot that could be heard around the world.

Frustrated, the Trump administration has turned to other methods of disarming Jong Un such as asking China to put trade sanctions in place for North Korea.  China (as I mentioned in an earlier blog) has absolutely no motivation to do so.

First of all, its sights and priorities lie elsewhere – in the South China Sea where rich deposits of oil and gas are reputed to be.   And strategically, the South China Sea can be seen as a military stronghold with its arms tightly around $3 trillion in shipping annually.  Currently, China has managed to reach agreements with the Philippines (after Duterte reversed his hard-lined stance against China in favor of better relations with Beijing), Indonesia and Malaysia – all who are regionally affected by activities in the South China Sea.

The administration has also asked China to put in place trade embargos that would freeze out Jong Un, when in reality, good trade relations with North Korea ensure regional stability for China.

In addition to that, any intervention that would result in a US victory would also put the US squarely at the front door of China and may also lead to throngs of immigrants from North Korean into China – something they do not want to see happen.

In short, America will have to find another solution to the growing concerns surrounding Kim Jong Un and the people of North Korea because as I see it, the sign says …

Chinese Laundry – Closed.

 

Let’s Talk Wine!

Today — a respite from the never-ending political spin of Washington — and on to something far more pleasant!

Yesterday, we had a small celebration in my family and we decided to try something new and different for our wines.  We have a Total Wine & More nearby that always has a great selection, so we rolled up on Friday to see what we could find that looked interesting.

My husband is the “red” between us and I’m the “white,” so there’s a little bit of something here for both sides of the wine path.

For red … a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon called “Line 39” by a vintner of the same name out of Parlier, California.  It won Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top Brand of the Year and blends the flavors of currant, blackberry, ripe plums and a hint of dark chocolate.  A real winner!  And what’s with the name? According to their label, the 39th parallel runs through California, separating the north from the south, and hence, the name “Line 39.”  Their tag line is “Discover wine without parallel.”  Not bad, huh?

Line 39

 

Here’s a snap of their label:

 

 

 

 

 

And on to all you white lovers out there … Italia for me!  I found this bottle of Pinot Grigio, a 2016 La Delizia (Delle Venezie) from northeastern Italy to be superb.  An well-balanced blend of citrus, flowers and herbs, along with a touch of apples and pears.  Especially delightful for summer tasting.

La Delizia Pinot

 

 

Yes, you are seeing correctly, that would be an empty bottle!

 

 

 

These two great wines will be added to our Favorites list and — best of all — at an unbeatable price of about $8 a bottle!  That’s a lot of flavor for a such a reasonable price.

Take them along to your next event … and enjoy!

Shalom … peace be with you!

America – The Beautiful

America the beautiful – the resilient.

How would you describe America in a few words?  What does our country mean to you?  How do you feel about it today, as we celebrate our independence?

Our forefathers had the following objectives in mind in framing the Constitution:

We, the people, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Can you imagine the clarity of the vision that each man must have had?  Can you imagine how many voices filled the air during their meetings?  Can you imagine the disagreements?  Can you imagine the eloquence it must have taken to have swayed your peers’ opinions?  And, in the end, to take pen to paper and express those agreed-upon concepts in such a way that they would form the support and foundation strong enough to build a new country on?

But, you see, that’s how America works.  That’s how our country was formed – and it has been the backbone of how we govern ourselves and protect our rights – the very rights that our founding fathers agreed would form our foundation.  We need to continue to have visions and ideas about the work we have to do in order to make this a better Union.  We need to continue to have those discussions and listen with an open mind because they facilitate the “back-and-forth” – a mutual exchange of ideas – in the hope that we all become more inspired and more thoughtful.  We can continue to disagree, as surely as our forefathers did, but do it as they did – with respect.  And most of all, to maintain our civility – something that seems to be slipping to the wayside these days.

It is also our duty to protect the Constitution and all of its Amendments – it is our legacy.

The 1st Amendment is particularly threatened of late with regard to its treatment by our Fearless Non-Leader in Washington – and those that serve in the House and Congress who have taken to having some trouble seeing and hearing lately.  Ladies and Gentlemen, it is also your duty to defend this Amendment.  In case you have forgotten, let me refresh it for you so that you will recognize it when our Fearless Non-Leader next goes tripping through it – you won’t have long to wait, I can assure you:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And should our Fearless Non-Leader slip and fall somewhere in the middle of it – or feel that he is above the law (“I’m President, and you’re not.”) – you, Ladies and Gentlemen, are going to have to dust off the 25th Amendment which directly addresses Presidential Vacancy, Disability, and Inability [emphasis added] and figure out how to undo what you are trying so hard not to see or hear – because it will be your duty to do so.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of America will be watching and you can be sure that Our Voices will continue to speak up – and speak loudly.  One more thing – fair warning – should you decide to look the other way and do nothing to defend our Constitution, its Amendments and our country – you’ll need to be lining up other work come election time because America will prove once again that it is – if nothing else – resilient.

 

To Stop Lobbying – Short And Sweet

Back at the beginning of things, this country invented a marvelous method for people in the colonies to have their voices heard within the central government. Representatives from the various colonies would venture forth to the governmental hub to lobby and convey items of vital importance to the forefathers of this great nation. Considering there were no telephones or internet, it was the only way.  It worked wonderfully and kept things moving in a positive direction.

Skip forward a couple of hundred years and, as usual, few things have failed in that time period to somehow get twisted and/or misdirected.  Now days, instead of the people, in most occasions, it’s the corporations and super-large foundations or groups of the (One Percent) who are the ones that that flood the central governing electorate with bags of money, or benefits, or both, to achieve their items of importance. It now has little to do with the representation of the masses.  There is some lobbying that benefits good organizations, but if all lobbying were done away with there would be much more time and money to be shared with the groups that have good intentions directed at the mainstream of America. Instead, these other groups want the votes for particular items that will help them make more profits.

But we all know, sensible change within our government is something that rarely comes without calamity. We had massive changes after Pearl Harbor and 911, and one again after the great recession of 2008. But most of that dynamic change has been reversed in more recent times.  Money always seems to creep into the cracks of our Congress and Senate and dulls the senses of their abilities to get done what we have elected them to do.

It’s time for this age-old framework of lobbying to simply go away……

R.H. Brooks, Guest Blogger

To All The Great Dads!

Happy Father’s Day to all of you great Dads out there!

For some of you who have a few Father’s Days under your belt, you’ve done an amazing job at being card-carrying members of The Best Dads Ever Club.  Just take a look at the smiles on your children’s faces!

For those of you who are celebrating this day as your first Father’s Day (and I personally know of two such Dads in San Diego), congratulations!  I see the thrill on your faces every time I see you.

My Dad always feels very close to me on this day and I have so many very happy memories of him.  I know several of you out there whose fathers have also passed on …. but who seem to remain close to you, too.  Perhaps that is their greatest legacy to us who remain.

My Dad didn’t have much growing up in the 1920’s – a lot of the country didn’t have much in those days.  One Christmas Eve, he remembered not having anything to eat for supper but potatoes, but they did have a roof over their heads and for that he was grateful.

He never forgot those days, but he never let it weigh him down, either.  He worked long, hard hours – sometimes at two jobs – to see that we had a better existence than he did as a child.  He taught us that being honest, seeing the good in people, and being a good friend were the “things” that mattered – not what you had or what you wore.  He was also a great son, brother, brother-in-law and a favored uncle in our family – sometimes fulfilling the role of a patriarch when family members were seeking advice.

He was a man of deep love and compassion and I couldn’t be prouder to call him My Dad.  I miss him every day.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  You will remain in my heart forever.

Robert H. Blunt
July 1921 – January 2005

Guest Blogger Today!

Hap Brooks asked to serve as a Guest Blogger today.  I would like to invite anyone who would like to add to our discussion here to use this space as our platform.  Here’s his blog:

I couldn’t help but laugh at the breaking news report that said President Trump had called the Former Director of the FBI, Comey, a liar. Amazing, considering this man’s entire professional life had been built on his strict adhesion to integrity throughout.  What has Donald J’s professional history been comprised of, short of his stiffing contractors, and being a bold-faced chronic liar?  Not much.

I really do wonder why he was not beside me in a foxhole in Vietnam.  We are both the same age and I was drafted right in the middle of the war — pardon me – “Police Action.”  There are many adjectives that describe Trump, none of which come from the same side of the tracks that Director Comey’s adjectives come from.

What amazes me is that Small Hands really believes that people like him, as he lives in his make-believe world of fake news and misdirection.  I believe that most of the people that voted for him knew down deep that he was an anchor without a chain.  Most of the people were just tired of the status quo that has prevailed in Washington for years. To be elected anymore, one must be well-planted within the political infrastructure. You first must be beholding to some person or group and/or have a shit pot of money.  Without one or both, the odds of succeeding in politics are nil. With these prerequisites, no one who get elected lives life on the same side of the teeter totter as the rest of us.  Do you really think that any of the Washington crowd, with the exception of a few freshman, have any idea how much a gallon of milk costs or what the average Social Security check will buy after Medicare and the supplements are paid for?  Why should they?  They’re too busy, you know, changing the EPA’s rules and handing more tax benefits to the wealthy — what’s the name they call themselves?  Oh, yeah, the One Percent …..

The system really is bending to the point of breaking.  Actually, I thought it had when the Orange Buffoon was elected.  But now I see it as it really is — business as usual – wearing a different mask.

I don’t think things will change much until some very basic things are adjusted, such as term limits and lobbying.  As far as I’m concerned, we, as the people, should through the government, fund elections.  By this I mean, give qualified candidates “X” amount of election funds and say when it’s gone, you’re done until after the voting is done.  At least no person or group or company would be able to buy a mouthpiece within the governmental power structure.

As you may have guessed, I’m not a Trump fan. However, tomorrow is another day and, I’m sure, filled with more wonderment of the Orange Wiz.

Just understand that we can’t give up, nor can we give in.  This country is much too beautiful and fragile for us to let our guard down.

 

~~Hap Brooks

 

Words Of The Day – Quid Pro Quo

 

Did you read James Comey’s written statement of yesterday?  Did you watch his testimony today?  Did it influence or change your mind about the events in question?  It would have been difficult to walk away without acknowledging that his testimony had some type of affect on your thoughts.  For some, it may have not been plausible – for others, it might have been more of a “I told you so”- type of conclusion.

Throughout the original statement, and evidenced again today in the live testimony, was just how badly Donald Trump wanted James Comey to step forward and publicly acknowledge that he was not under FBI investigation.  That’s a pretty big “ask,” especially of someone who is the Director-in-charge of an independent agency whose very foundation is rooted in its independence from the political influences that often find their way into the Executive Branch of our government.

I believe that Mr. Comey is very savvy at reading people.  After all, I don’t think you make it to the Directorship of the Federal Bureau of Investigations being otherwise.  As he has stated, he knew he needed to document – in detail – his conversations with Trump from the get-go.  Trump, at best, has a revisionist’s memory.  If it makes him look more grandiose in the moment, well then, that’s the truth.  If it sheds a poor light on him – never happened.  Fake news.  How many times have we all seen that?

Trump entered the White House believing that it would run the same way as his businesses – you buy whatever it is you want (money’s no object, of course).  Then, once in, you demolish the existing business (that’s those bombs you keep hearing go off) until the playing field is obliterated, and then you firmly ensconce your “people” in place – and you’re on to your next conquest.  Clearly, he was trying to make James Comey one of his “people” when he asked him to be “loyal,” and later, when he suggested that Comey drop the investigation of Flynn.  He simply has no concept that he does not wield such power from that office.  I find it very disturbing and hugely unsettling to think he has such a weak grasp of how our government is run – and even more disturbing – that he has such little respect for the process.

Kudos to our Senate Committee today for proving that you can reach across the aisle and come together when a threat exists against America.  Comey went to great lengths today to express his feelings for our country and to issue a warning that there should be no “fuzz” in that the Russians meddled in our election process – and that they will do so again.  This is a bell I have tried to ring many times in my blogs.  We need to learn how to be stronger, better and smarter than those that threaten our freedom.

So, thank you, Mr. Comey, for putting your reputation at risk, for being willing to sacrifice your job, for your service to our country, and for telling the truth.  Thank you for loving America that much.