George Boardman: Stop the presses! Hold page 1! LaMalfa criticizes President Trump! |

George Boardman: Stop the presses! Hold page 1! LaMalfa criticizes President Trump!

George Boardman

Observations from the center stripe: Furlough edition

IF I’M to believe the news media, every federal worker who isn’t getting paid has no money in the bank and lives paycheck to paycheck … FOODIE ALERT: There’s now such a thing as small batch pork rinds … HIS OPPONENTS should quit wasting energy trying to impeach President Trump. It’s not going to happen as long as the Republicans control the U.S. Senate … THE SACRAMENTO Kings, aka, the cardiac Kings, are a much improved team with exciting young players. They have a long way to go to become contenders, but they’re at least showing a pulse … 49ERS KICKER Robbie Gould was dumped by the Chicago Bears because they didn’t want to pay him. I wonder what he thought when his replacement missed a kick that cost the Bears a playoff victory ...

A friend proclaimed recently that the sun would stop in the heavens the day Rep. Doug LaMalfa criticized President Trump, so I ran outside to see if that was true when I heard last week that LaMalfa had actually criticized Trump.

Unfortunately, it was raining so I’ll never know for sure.

LaMalfa has been a reliable foot soldier for the Republican Party since his election to Congress, and has regularly expressed support for Trump Administration actions and policies. But the president apparently went too far for even LaMalfa last week when he threatened to cut off FEMA funds to the victims of the Camp Fire and other disasters in the state.

“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”

“… threats to FEMA funding are not helpful and will not solve the longer term forest management regulatory problems,” LaMalfa said in a statement. “The president has seen first-hand our fire-ravaged areas in Northern California. He made the promise to help, and I expect him to keep it.”

As is usually the case when Trump tweets from the hip, his statement is not tethered to the facts. The feds own 57 percent of California’s forests — the state and local agencies control 3 percent — and most of the fires that have devastated the state since 2017 were wildfires on private land, not forest fires.

Trump wasn’t clear if he’s threatening to cut aid that is currently flowing to the state, or if he’s talking about the future, and this may just be another one of his idle threats that get people excited for a couple of days and then go away.

But it’s good to know that LaMalfa at least has a tongue when it comes to opposing the president. Who knows, he may even have a backbone.

Radical thoughts

Two avowed socialists are among the new freshman members of Congress, which has the conservative pundit class on high alert if not in high dudgeon. They didn’t have to wait long to have their suspicions — or is it worst fears? — confirmed.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American no less, got the ball rolling when she was recorded at a rally proclaiming, “We’re going to impeach the motherf—-r!” She was, of course, referring to President Trump, who pretended to be offended by her comment.

Given his reputation for using earthy language, nobody took him very seriously. Tlaib has dodged questions about the comment, other than to say she’s sorry she caused a “distraction.” It should have occurred to her nothing she says anymore is private. Doh!

Next came Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who proposed a marginal tax of 70 percent on incomes of over $10 million to fund a “Green New Deal” that would bring about the green energy revolution more quickly.

Republicans immediately jumped on this “soak the rich” scheme — they apparently think the masses feel sorry for the rich — and the Fox News talking heads were quick to mislead their viewers into believing this tax proposal applies to even the lowly middle class.

The proposal will not become law, even in the unlikely event it passes the House. But Ocasio-Cortez shouldn’t be discouraged because she’s the latest of a small group of socialists in Congress whose radical notions eventually became the law of the land.

Six avowed socialists have been elected to Congress, beginning with Victor Berger in 1911. While he wasn’t a vanguard of new politics, he acted as a prod to reform, championing the creation of old age pensions that became reality with passage of the Social Security Act in 1935.

Other socialists who followed him to Capitol Hill pushed for minimum wage laws, unemployment insurance, anti-lynching laws, and other radical notions in their day. Conservatives have been warned.

Water boy

Name a company that would run TV ads honoring a deceased CEO who left the company 10 years ago. That would be Southwest Airlines, which is currently running ads to honor the airline’s heart and soul, Herb Kelleher, who died last week at the age of 87.

Kelleher was an unconventional executive who rejected the stuffed shirt formality of his industry peers and focused on keeping his employees happy, who he knew would then provide the kind of service that would make their customers happy. The airline never laid off or furloughed an employee during his tenure, which Kelleher considered his greatest accomplishment.

He wasn’t reluctant to play the clown if it was good for business. The company ran an ad on Monday Night Football during the ’90s that featured Kelleher in the guise of a winning football coach addressing a post-game press conference, except he was celebrating low fares and frequent flights. The commercial ended with two guys dumping a barrel of water over his head, a variation on the Gatorade shower.

I was at the Oakland airport one day during that time when I saw Kelleher walking down the concourse, greeting every Southwest employee he encountered. Tellingly, he was alone — there were no corporate flunkies trailing in his wake or hovering at his side.

I stopped him and asked him how many times they dumped that water on his head before they got the take they liked.

“Just once,” he said. “I told the ad guys I would rehearse the scene as many times as they wanted, but they were only going to dump that water on me once. Boy, was it cold!”

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.