Astute politician

September 3, 2013 

I couldn't believe my lying ears. They were telling me our ultra-right, super conservative Congressman Tom McClintock, was openly extolling the virtues of Dennis Kucinich, a far-left, extremely liberal, former Democratic Congressman from Ohio.

McClintock, representing California's newly reconfigured Fourth District, was holding a "Town Hall Meeting" last Wednesday in the North Fork Rancheria's Community Center as part of an ambitious four-appearance schedule that also included stops in Oakhurst, Shaver Lake and Prather.

An earlier gathering hosted by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce was co-sponsored by "Women in Business," a group clearly placing politics above gender in their support of McClintock, who refused to vote for the "Equal Pay for Women Act" and the "Violence Against Women Act." while being completely supportive of the anti-gay "Defense of Marriage Act." Even our right-leaning Supreme Court has now declared "D.O.M.A." unconstitutional.

But this same McClintock was suddenly before me in North Fork praising Dennis Kucinich, a man once described by Cleveland Tea Party Patriots as being "Ohio's Top Socialist."

The reason for McClintock's out of the blue endorsement was a statement made by the former mayor of Cleveland a day before referencing President Obama's rumored decision to level a punitive, "surgical blow" against Syria as retribution for crossing a "red line" in resorting to the use of poisonous gas against a civilian population.

Here's what Kucinich said that obtained McClintock's sanction and blessing: "So, what? We're about to become Al Qaeda's air force now? This is a very serious matter – and to try to minimize it by saying we're just going to have a "targeted strike" – that's an act of war."

After extended reflection, I find myself agreeing completely with McClintock and Mr. Kucinich in this matter, even as I maintain widely dissimilar notions on almost every other issue mentioned during the congressman's well-received, hour-long presentation. And that includes frogs and toads.

McClintock, as astute a politician as I've ever encountered, is wisely tapping understandable local concerns over economic consequences of past federal environmental legislation with his virulent opposition to proposed endangered species designation of the Yellow-Legged Frog and threatened species designation for the Yosemite Toad. His view is that U.S. Fish and Wildlife guidelines will likely cause severe restrictions on land access and could limit or forbid activities such as grazing, trout stocking, logging, mining and recreational use — resulting in a devastating impact on our regional economy.

Similarly, he is firmly against recent proposals from the National Park Service and its much-discussed (some say "disgusting") Merced River Plan.

"Radical environmentalists want us to look – but not touch." summarizes McClintock.

Given the fact that these topics have pretty much risen to the top of foothill community issues, the September meeting of the Democratic Club of Oakhurst will feature, as our guest speaker, George Whitmore, chair of the Tehipite Chapter of the Sierra Club's Yosemite Committee. The Tehipite Chapter encompasses all of the counties of Fresno, Madera, Merced and Mariposa, and parts of two other counties, including all of Yosemite National Park.

Mr. Whitmore has held various assignments at the local, regional and national levels of the Sierra Club for the last 50 years. He also attended Representative McClintock's meetings of last week in North Fork, Shaver Lake and Prather.

While observing that our congressman is "very smooth, even when handling sticky questions," Whitmore also declares, "Tom McClintock was clearly born 100 years too late – and would have been more in sync with the way things were done – or not done – in the 1800s. He probably thinks that Teddy Roosevelt was one of the worst presidents we ever had, perhaps even worse than Obama."

But Mr. Whitmore also adds, "All of the dire predictions of impending doom if we try to rescue the frog or toad from oblivion could come true if we leave the Fish and Wildlife Service or other entities free to do whatever they wish. These agencies need to hear from the citizenry. The widely divergent views as to how Yosemite should be managed are only to be expected, given the very strong connections people feel to this remarkable place. To me, it is a cathedral — a cathedral as many as possible should be allowed to visit."

As a member of the Democratic Club of Oakhurst's Executive Committee and moderator of our monthly meetings, I herein cordially and enthusiastically invite you to join us at Denny's at 9 a.m. this Saturday — regardless of party affiliation — to engage in a spirited, yet admirably amiable question and answer session following our speaker's opening remarks.

Then, after the meeting, you are also encouraged to attend the 11th Annual Run for The Gold Car Show at the Oakhurst Community Center, where this columnist gets to glide into his blue suede shoes and spin a few Rock & Roll Oldies again this year for the Oakhurst Kiwanis.

And for our October meeting of the Democratic Club — David Martin from the U.S. Forest Service.

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