Peter Cavanaugh


On a clear day you can see forever – or at least the top of Deadwood Mountain.

After an egregious onslaught of weather conditions over Labor Day Weekend with smoke from the 140,000 acre “Rough Fire” becoming trapped under a late summer inversion layer, things have radically improved. We can finally breathe a deep sigh of relief without risking instant cardiac arrest.

As California is undergoing its worst fire season in history, we’ve been lucky so far. And such fate is not due to mere good fortune.

Much more is owed to the courageous efforts of Cal Fire management, crews, aircraft, and all associated local, regional and state agencies involved. They have kept us safe. With uncommon efforts far beyond reasonable expectation, these men and women have risked life and limb saving homes and lives with relentless dedication and awe-inspiring endurance.

Guess what? They also prove government can work. But not when we elect those who claim it can’t.

This brings to mind another kind of smoke blowing about last week – a particularly hazardous haze generated by various participants in the Second Republican Presidential Debate, aka – “ Clown Car Two.”

Donald Trump sealed his decline from top spot in polling by characteristically talking the most and saying the least until blind-sided by a wildly effective cutting slash from Carly Fiorina on what “that face” meant to women everywhere – followed by an icy glare that would have frozen hell thrice over.

Carly is no stranger to us Californians who saw her soundly thrashed in her Senate run against Barbara Boxer in 2010 by 10 full percentage points (52% - 42%) despite the fact that Boxer was facing an uphill battle against a multimillionaire candidate and a wave of attack ads from out of state business and conservative groups.

For pure performance points, Fiorina impressively outclassed the rest of the field last Wednesday night with a polished presentation rightfully earning her a dramatic leap in polling preference, instantly replacing a quickly fading Ben Carson in the process. It now seems Dr. Ben was a temporary placeholder all along.

Ms. Fiorina’s most dramatically effective moment of the evening was an impassioned recital of having watched a video depicting “ a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, it’s legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” No such video exists or ever has. Carly? No. Car-LIE.

But Jeb Bush wins first prize in spectacular spin for the most outrageous assertion of the night – ironically greeted with thundering applause as a powerful endorsement of his brother’s presidency and family name. Jeb said of George, “ When it comes to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.

The crowd went wild with - I suspect - a soothing measure of relieved self-congratulation. After all, most in attendance put “W” in office.

Yet it was almost eight months after becoming president in 2001 that 9/11 changed our lives forever as Jeb’s brother “ kept us safe” – ignoring repeated intelligence community and allied warnings about a pending bin Laden attack against America by plane. Fact can be stranger than fiction.

Speaking of which, local authors of both fiction and non-fiction books will be waiting for you this Saturday with the “Second Annual Authors’ Faire” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Community Room of the Oakhurst Branch Library. Central Valley writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, and various writing groups have been invited. This columnist will be there with a few copies of “Local DJ” available for signing.

“Peter Cavanaugh is magical with his ribald recollections and praiseworthy prose. “Local DJ brings back a single point in time and space. Not for little children, old ladies or small domestic pets.” (Shotgun Tom Kelly, KRTH, Los Angeles).

Content details at, or Saturday at the library.