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“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The unthinkable has occurred. The Brexit effect has kicked in. Donald Trump will grab the brass ring and become president of the United States of America.

Democrats and media have been feasting on the mantra that the Republican Party is doomed, dead and demised. We’ve heard — the party of Lincoln will not recover from the schism between the tea party (evangelicals) and the financial elites (advocates of business, finance and lower taxes).

Hillary’s numbers, her on the ground based machine, and the electoral system were in her favor, a bit… except for the LATimes. They called it right.

Trump winning means his voters were more enthusiastic than Hillary’s. And all evidence shows that to be true. It also means huge, vast teeming numbers of voters were so turned off by her they didn’t go to the polls or they voted independent or …worse… they clandestinely voted for Trump.

The Trump win means there will be a fiery accounting. A lot of hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth and new unparalleled disgust and contempt for both Clintons will grow throughout the land. Hillary will have brought this catastrophe on the Democratic Party and, worse yet, on the United States of America. And it will be by those who forcefully had to vote for her. Democrats will be outraged.

Some will falsely blame the army of Bernie Sanders folks. Sorry, that blame is sorely misplaced. The blame will lie solely with the very weak, poor, terrible, candidate. It is the duty, job, obligation of the candidate to rally the troops. She didn’t have to do much — only beat the worse Republican candidate in history. Worse than Palin, worse than Bush.

She is a candidate held in contempt by much of the populace. Sanders was so much the better man. Independents liked him, Libertarians liked him, students liked him. Even some Republicans liked him. He had a record of genuine, authentic service to the public.

Hillary merely wanted to be president. If one watched PBS, again and again commentator David Brooks asked, “What does she offer? What does she represent?”

The other commentator, Mark Shields, the liberal, had no answer. He had to agree.

The public knows what she represented; self-interest, banking, hawkish military interventions, pro-Israel pandering, flipping on trade agreements. And as a former public teacher, she frightens me with her cozy ties with Eli Broad, the hedge-funders’ hedge funder who is all for privatizing charter schools across the country. So she pats public school teachers on the back and then elbows forward for profit-making charters.

The Trump win means there will be a great gnashing of the teeth by Democrats. Lists will be made, heads will fly. Liberal think tanks will try to formulate what went wrong. It is simple — Hillary grabbed the machine and put people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the top of her power pyramid. It is apparent to all, Hillary has spent years laying the groundwork for this. She has schemed, planned, connived and manipulated. It just feels like every move was calculated, coordinated and orchestrated. Many of us think her closeness to Bill gave her the false idea that charm can rub off or be manufactured — it can’t. It’s genetic. Her genes lack it.

There will be many changes: Obama Care, environmental issues , gun control, the Supreme Court, the influence of Religion in the public sector, Common Core, immigration.  The world changed on Nov. 8.

Paul Karrer is a retired teacher who worked in Castroville, Korea, Samoa, Connecticut and England.


masksI just watched the sober  and inspiring day-after speeches by the president and Hillary Clinton.

Their words, while tinged with the sorrow of defeat at the hands of Donald Trump, were appropriately considerate of the norms of American democracy. The president said he would do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition from the Obama administration to the Trump White House.

They spoke of continuing to battle for rights and opportunities for all Americans, not as Democrats sore about losing to Trump, but as patriots who believe in the nation’s founding principles of life, liberty and dreams for all its peoples.

I found myself, as I did many times during the past 18 months, taking momentary comfort in these words that now seem as similar and outdated as big-hearted folks in a Normal Rockwell painting. I found myself momentarily sentimental over the lofty political rhetoric. Their words seemed to come from a distant country, as far away today as the never-defined America that Trump has promised to restore to greatness.

Those words don’t cut it anymore. Not after the tidal wave of vilification, threats and promises of raw power uttered by Trump and his supporters, which were distilled in all the chants, T-shirts and memes of “lock her up” and “bitch.”

Clinton closed speeches on the campaign trail with the cloying phrase “Love trumps hate.”

Not this time. A bombastic, vainglorious candidate who called immigrants rapists, Muslims prime suspects, women targets and journalists scum rode on to a narrow victory.

Already I’m tired of the conflicting analyses. Clinton won the popular vote, stupid Electoral College. Democrats ignored their working class base, yet the poorest voters gave her majorities.

Trump appealed to those left behind by global trade, but he ran stronger in areas with some of the best job growth. White men supported him heavily, but he also ran strong among white women. The Obama coalition didn’t turn out, but minority voter suppression was widespread. The polls got it all wrong, but social media sites advised young Trump supporters to conceal their views from pollsters.

On Tuesday night, as I had watched Trump’s victory unfold, I felt like an old man dropped into a foreign country, where public bigotry and denigration of others are the coins of a strange new world.

A couple SUVs sped past a friend and I as we walked from an election-night gathering. A few occupants shouted “Trump, Trump” as their tires squealed around a tight corner. “Man, the goon squads are already out,” I joked without laughing.

In his speech today, President Obama said he would root for a successful Trump presidency in uniting and leading the country. That is what outgoing presidents do, though the handover of power to the man who questioned his citizenship for five years must gall Obama beneath his cool exterior.

But presidents must rise above the fray. They are not just party leaders or leaders of a band of loyalists, but leaders of the whole nation. They must use words and perform deeds that evoke the best of our democracy’s identity.

Whether Trump can, or even can try, to make that long pivot is a question that weighs heavily today. He has yet to demonstrate anything remotely presidential.


Microphone in focus against unrecognizable crowdFor the past year or so, watching Donald Trump on the stump was actually entertaining. What outrageous nonsense would he pop off with? Who would he insult? What lie would he spout this time?

That ended last night with his victory speech. I simply couldn’t watch this newly empowered rooster, this self-parodying clown who is now in position to destroy so much. So like many of you, I declared this election over and went to bed.

I have attempted to console myself by remembering that we survived Nixon and Reagan and Bush but I know, we all do, that this is much worse. A friend reminded me last night that the sun would still come up this morning, and it did, though at my place there was considerable fog.

So what now? I’m afraid there is no choice. We must resist. Against the reality of a stacked legislature and a tyrant at the top we must protest and find some way to maintain Obamacare and Roe v Wade and more. More, like basic human decency. Who  am I trying to convince? Yes, me. But you, too, and you and you and you. We’re in this together.

Many of us learned the art of protest and mass action in the sixties, and then we watched as the right adapted the techniques for their own causes. We laughed at the Tea Party but now we are forced to wince over what it has become.

So what do we do? I’m not exactly sure. The defeat is too fresh. But I know what we don’t do. We don’t surrender. We’ve been watching a national train wreck develop for a long time but now we can’t just sit back and listen to the screams.

There has been a long struggle for peace and justice in this country and there have been successes. The laws have changed and so has quite a bit of human nature even though it doesn’t feel like it today. Today, the struggle is back on. People of conscience may need to rest for a bit but then we need to pick up where we left off. We must regroup.

Many of you were part of the Civil Rights Movement and the peace movement. Your services are required again. If this bizarre new president really wants to try to deport our neighbors, we need to be the barrier that prevents that. When he tries to ban Muslims, we must be their underground railroad. When he tries to criminalize womanhood, we must all stand with the women.

This is a huge blow, a bitter pill, a shock to the system, something unthinkable. It feels almost like a death in the family. But we will survive. We’re not going to let the bastards beat us down. It’s just going to take some work. Just breathe, and rest up for a bit.


Have you ever wondered about the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, how they got there, and what difference they make?  Well, you may see me during the television coverage of July 25-28 because I am one of them this year.  Over the last several months I have had a unique opportunity to learn how our electoral system works first-hand and I must confess that the process is byzantine and less than democratic.  I am documenting here how I became a delegate and what my experience at the California Democratic delegate convention was like. Later I intend to share with you about my experiences in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.

At the age of 51, and as someone who has been actively involved in politics most of my life, it is surprising that I had no idea how delegates were selected. Now that I understand better I can see why I and most citizens have no clue: the process is nearly secret.

For me, the first step to Philadelphia was going to the California Democratic Party website and filling out a form and submitting it by fax by April 13.  Delegates are chosen by congressional district and in Congressional District 20, which includes Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties, there were about 60 applications to be Bernie Sanders-pledged delegates and about 20 to be Hillary Clinton-pledged delegates. More on this in a moment, but what does “pledged” mean?

Haffa is a professor at Monterey Peninsula College and a member of the Monterey City Council. The Partisan will be following him on the road to the DNC in Philadelphia. Stay tuned for future installments.

As it turns out, there are four types of delegates: Pledged and elected delegates like myself, PLEOS (Party Leader Elected Officials who are pledged), at-large delegates who are pledged, and super delegates who are unpledged.  Each congressional district is assigned a number of delegates based on the population and how many people voted in the last election.  In CD20, which is Sam Farr’s district, we were allocated three male pledged, three female and one alternate.  At large, PLEO and super delegates are not allocated by district and I’ll talk about them in a subsequent post. Back to the pledged delegates.

So, you submit your paperwork: now what?  What I did was join a slate.  My slate included three nurses—you want some women and some men to balance your slate because the delegates are divided equally between men and women.  Each of us on our slate was supposed to turn out as many of our friends and supporters as possible to the Sanders’ caucus and there were other slates doing the same both at for Sanders and for Clinton.

Our slate looked like this:

Sanders slate card

I emailed friends and also contacted folks on Facebook. Honestly, I didn’t work as hard at it as I should have and didn’t expect to win, but I was looking forward to the caucus because I would see other people who shared my values and those of Sen. Sanders.  We didn’t know where the caucus would be and it could have been anywhere in the three-county area.  Ultimately the two campaigns decided on Salinas, and the Sanders’ caucus was at Hartnell College and the Clinton caucus was at the Laborer’s Local 270 Union headquarters.

Nurses Bernie DelegatesAs it happened, there were almost 300 people at the Sanders’ caucus and around 100 at the Clinton caucus.  Electioneering at these caucuses is not only permitted, it seems to be encouraged.  All the candidates and various slates moved up and down the line of people waiting to get inside, handing out printed materials and talking to voters.  Now, raise your hand if you knew about this vote?  Right. Most of us never hear about this and it is not usually advertised much in the media, if at all.  Almost everyone there was there because some candidate had asked them to be there along with party insiders who know about these caucuses from past elections.  Normally, party insiders are a large enough bloc that they can potentially sway these elections.  At the Sanders’ caucus, however, there were almost no insiders present.  It was a diverse group of people, younger more than older, wearing their Sanders T-shirts and buttons.  With other candidates, I walked the line and asked for people’s votes, greeted and hugged friends, and handed out my slate’s flyer.

Finally the door opened and people could enter and vote. They had to be registered Democrats and were asked if they would pledge to vote for Sanders although this pledge was not binding.  It was heart-warming to see so many friends there; maybe I had a chance. There were also many people there wearing red “National United Nurses” scrubs.

But would these people who didn’t know me vote for me because I am on the same slate as the nurses?  People could vote for four men and three women, and I think this was my advantage because I was on a slate with three women and no other men.  Some people voted and left but many stayed to hear the candidates.  Of the nearly 60 certified candidates, maybe 20 were there to speak and we each had exactly 30 seconds.  It is hard to be persuasive in 30 seconds but as we stood in line I tried my best to arrange three key ideas. Who am I and why am I worthy of representing hundreds of thousands of voters on the Central Coast at the convention. Why I support Bernie?  What kind of delegate I will be.  After everyone spoke, I felt like we would be well represented no matter what because there were so many well spoken and passionate people.

Then we waited around for about two more hours as volunteers counted the ballots. It is an understatement to say I was surprised when it was announced that I was the highest vote-getter. I never expected to win.  So, there were four men and three women, but how many would actually go to Philadelphia and the convention? That would depend on the percentage of the vote that Sen. Sanders got on June 7 in Congressional District 20, during the state primary.  At this moment, we still don’t know the final count. Election night it appeared Secretary Clinton won CD20 with 54% to 46%.  That meant there would be three Clinton delegates plus one Clinton alternate and three Sanders’ delegates.  A week later, the vote flipped as Sanders moved ahead in our district, so then three Sanders delegates plus one Sanders alternate and three Clinton delegates would represent our district.  The votes are still coming in and Sanders’ lead is growing somewhat; if he were to get more than 57% the delegate distribution would be four Sanders and two Clinton and I don’t know what would happen to the alternate!  If this sounds confusing, it is.

Here are my takeaways from this process.  A very small number of people select the actual delegates, basically a few hundred. Most of those people are there because someone who was running asked them to show up and vote. Is this the most democratic process? Do I even need to ask?  I won and I am grateful, but the process is so secret and so few people participate that it seems less than democratic. This year the Sanders’ campaign brought many people into the process who don’t normally participate, and our caucus was larger than most, but even so, 300 people picked the delegates for a district that includes some 700,000 voters.  People either voted for people they knew, voted because the person they knew was on a slate and voted for the other people running with their friend, or voted based on a 30-second elevator speech. This seems less than a thorough and in-depth way to choose delegates.  The whole process seems a bit elitist, to be honest.

I am honored that I won, but was it really me or the quality of my fellow slate-mates and perhaps the recognition I enjoy being an elected official?  I do think our district is well represented. In addition to myself, we have two nurses, Jennifer Holm and Sandra Martinez, plus the alternate is land-use activist Gary Patton, the attorney and former Santa Cruz County supervisor.  I can’t speak to what happened at the Clinton caucus but they also have fine delegates: Tony Russomanno, Carole English, and David Kong.

In a subsequent post, I will tell you what happened at the state delegate convention where the elected “delegates” and our super delegates picked the PLEOs and at-large delegates and also chose delegates from our state caucus to serve on committees.  If you think this will be a simple and transparent process, you may be surprised: I know I was.


My focus in Tuesday’s state primary election, I confess, is on the presidential race.

It’s been captivating in the same way that a car crash, five-alarm fire or circus high-wire act is. You can’t avert your eyes, despite the underlying grotesquerie and potential for disaster unfolding before you.

Obviously, many people in Monterey County share my attentiveness to the races at the top of the tickets. Thousands turned out in the past two weeks in Salinas and Monterey to see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders make campaign stops in their hard-fought race for the Democratic nomination.

I’m sure thousands — supporters and protesters alike — would have turned out if presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had graced any our hometowns with one of his freestyle stump appearances.

But the federal office that will be solely decided by voters on the Central Coast will be the 20th District Seat in Congress being contested by leading candidates Democrat Jimmy Panetta and Republican Casey Lucius. The winner won’t be decided until November with a general election runoff between Panetta and Lucius.

Because of my interest in the presidential race, I wondered which of the candidates Panetta and Lucius voted for in Tuesday’s primary. It would seem a very important election for them, since it goes toward determining who will be in the White House should they enter the next Congress.

I put the question to Panetta and Lucius — via their campaign Twitter accounts — mid-morning Tuesday and wondered whether they would respond.

Lucius answered within 18 minutes. She said she voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of the last candidates standing before Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee. Former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said this week he, too, voted for Kasich in the California primary.

Lucius, in a tweet, cited, “experience, moderate, real policy positions” as reasons she went for Kasich and not Trump or Ted Cruz.

I figure Panetta voted for Clinton since he warmly introduced her to the crowd a couple weeks ago at her Salinas rally at Hartnell College. And his father, Leon Panetta, served in Bill Clinton’s administration and with Hillary in President Obama’s cabinet. Those are nice potential allies for a would-be freshman congressman.

An hour later, I was still awaiting Panetta’s response on what I assumed would be his obvious choice. Perhaps he’s too busy Election Day to respond. Or doesn’t want to unnecessarily alienate any of those 7,000-plus Sanders supporters who turned out last week in Monterey.

I only hope he does what everyone should do today — vote for the candidates of your choice.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, tells reporters that he will push for a vote in Congress to kick the Palestinian Liberation Organization out of its Washington offices and threaten to withhold U.S. financial assistance if the Palestinians seek to use enhanced U.N. status against Israel, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Lindsey Graham appears to have a southern accent in this photo but it might be just the lighting or the lens

The other day Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is dropping hints he may join the Republican herd stampeding for the White House, said it’s high time for another president with an accent. That struck me as a odd, since it’s only been seven years since President George W. Bush drawled and cut brush mightily on his Texas ranch.

And it’s been an equally short a time since President Dick Cheney announced he was taking America into his dark bunker with an accent reminiscent of old black-and-white creature features.

Graham was really talking about was it being time for another southern president. And the South Carolinian was betraying yet another prejudice by asserting only Southerners have accents.

Well, everyone has an accent, even those smart-phone voices that tell us where we can buy killer chimichangas in the next town.

I’m a native Californian, and my parents were native Californians. I’m fairly certain I have a distinct California accent, seasoned slightly by growing up in Bakersfield and having a gang of childhood pals whose families accented Oklahoma at the dinner table. That’s why I have always used the word ain’t in my normal conversation, though I say it with a distinct California accent. I ain’t fooling, dude.

For over a year while living in Portland, Ore., I mumbled a lot to conceal my accent, for I had heard horror stories about what real Oregonians do to arrivistes from California. When confronted with the chilling prospects of pronouncing common Oregonian geographic words like Willamette, Wallowa and Tualatin, I would sneeze and curse my hay fever. 

Oregonians, a polite, pale and hip people by nature, would commiserate. For if it wasn’t raining in the “Willy Met Valley,” you could be sure the pollen count was in the stratosphere.

From movies and television, we all are familiar with Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Fargo and Simpson Family accents, not to mention the Austro-Calliforniaye accent of former Gov. Terminator and Moon Unit Zappa‘s Valley Speak.

Is Graham pushing Schwarzenegger ( I am so glad I no longer have to spell this name in daily copy) to enter the race? The gentleman from South Carolina should be careful for what he wishes. Or do more research on accents.

Hillary Clinton spent several years in Arkansas, and she isn’t above dropping the g’s in her present participles when speakin’ to the good folks who like grits, gravy and floatin’ down the Whitewater River.

Why, Bill Clinton himself — no matter how much a citizen of the world he has become since leaving the White House — still delivers his $100,000 speeches with an Arkansas drawl. And Jimmy Carter, it must be recalled, spoke folksy Georgian when calling upon the nation to save energy by wearing his line of cardigan sweaters.
No one party, nor one part of the country, has a monopoly on accents.

And the true language of politics, as Sen. Graham should know, doesn’t speak anything but dollar signs, with the accent heavy on the dollars.

Lovely girl and little pony

Contrarian Larry Parsons wants people to remember that a vote against Monterey Downs is a vote against ponies

It’s one of the glorious days when possible subjects to write about are falling from the sky like so many stars in a Jimi Hendrix song.

First, there are all advance quotes from former Vice President Dick Cheney’s interview in the upcoming issue of Playboy in which he — major SPOILER alert — calls President Obama the worst president of all time and space.

This from the guy who never saw an oil well or potential Middle Eastern war without feeling lust in his heart. Cue the Jimmy Carter canoe-and-cannibal-rabbit story, and juxtapose it with the time Cheney was bitten by a floppy-eared werewolf.

Another subject, naturally, is Starbucks’ harebrained push for employees to engage customers in conversations about racial relations in the United States. People much higher in their pay grades in politics, pulpits, the media and corporate board rooms should be having these conversations — not $10-an-hour baristas, for pity’s sake.

“Reparations, race cards, rap music!!! Just give me caffeine, for #!?%’s sake.” Oh, the sound of America healing.

And there is the Hillary problem — that amorphous, media-fed tidal wave carrying the flotsam of secret emails, cattle futures, travel bookings, botched health-care plans and being-married-to-Bill again to the shores of our presidential politics. But there will be time, oh, there will be time, to wear out the fingers blogging about this. It never will go away, and the mighty Wurlitzer is just getting tuned up.

Then I spotted a story from the right side of the media world that seemed especially piquant. A blogger for the Daily Caller, the conservative web site run by Peter Pan frat boy Tucker Carlson, quit when Tucker spiked a column critical of Fox News. Seems you can criticize everything under the sun but Fox News — Imperial Death Star of right-wing confabulation — at the Daily Caller.

The writer was unhappy that Fox lately has dropped threat-level 7 stories about the scourge of unauthorized immigration and Obama amnesty plans to pad Democratic voter lists. Apparently, Fox is hitting harder at the scourge of all things Muslim and the terrible fact that American troops are no longer dying in sufficient numbers in the Middle East because the last two wars went so well.

This falling-out among fevered founts of Fox fabulism got me thinking. I’d best watch my step, or something similar could upset the equilibrium here the Monterey Bay Partisan.

In my notebook, I found a few ideas I’d been kicking around for columns that I realize might run afoul of what could be called the Partisan party line. Rest assured they will never see the light of day, or I, too, would have to take the high road and resign in a righteous huff from this comfortable and prestigious sinecure. I will share a few, but this is strictly between me and you. Totally off the record, very hush-hush.

1. Sure Cal Am hasn’t produced a major water project for the Peninsula to save the Carmel River for almost 40 years and the multinational utility takes profits out of the community and passes on all sorts of questionable costs to customers who spend a good part of each day getting thorns and needles out of their hides from their prickly xeriscape gardens, but the water company isn’t all bad. I saw a crew fixing a water line one day, and the guy with the jack hammer smiled, or looked like he was trying to smile as his face jiggled like Jello …

2. We can agree that the undeveloped land at Fort Ord is pretty unsurpassed in coastal country beauty, but just a teensy bit could be tastefully destroyed to make room for the charming, little Monterey Downs horsolopolis. Think of all the jobs. You remember, Hercules got his start mucking out stables. And if there were horses, there would be ponies. So there will be pony rides for all the children, and we must think of the children …

3. OK, the Ferrini Ranch subdivision will dump hundreds of more vehicles each day on Highway 68, making the stop-and-go commute between Salinas and Monterey a lot more stoppy than goey. But there are a lot of good audio books that can be very instructive when you spend more than two hours a day listening to them in frozen traffic. And some folks, who must take Highway 68 to get to the two or three jobs they juggle to make ends meet, may decide to eat and sleep in their cars during peak congestion. This could ease the horrible shortage of affordable housing in Monterey County. Moreover, the slower traffic pace will allow travelers more time to enjoy the rustic beauty of the old red-and-white fence near Laguna Seca …

Seriously, these jottings, I promise, will never see the light of day at this blog.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the upcoming Cheney issue of Playboy. I’m interested in whether the Playboy editors have ever found a Playboy Party Joke that is funny. Like this one:

Trimalchio: I attended an orgy last night with the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Encolpius: Ooh, sounds nasty. Was it fun?

Trimalchio: For a while, but then Mike Huckabee arrived.