Bernie vs. Clinton: A no-brainer, Gov. Brown

“California governor Brown endorses Clinton.” This headline today from CNN is a sore disappointment from an otherwise admirable politician.

I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s. One of the dads on our block was Bob Moretti, speaker of the California State Assembly, the second most powerful politician in the state. Mr. Moretti, as we called him, was a great athlete (I think he said he had played football for Notre Dame). He loved to play in pick-up baseball, football and basketball games with us kids on the block. As such, he was our good friend. In 1974 he ran in the Democratic primary for governor, when he was defeated by Jerry Brown. On the night of the election, I remember seeing Moretti and Brown speaking to each other alone, seated on the curb in front of Moretti’s house, a scene that is etched in my mind forever. Bob Moretti passed away in 1984.

Jerry Brown of course became governor of California. And he admirably refused to live in the governor’s mansion. “When he became governor the first time, in the 1970s, Brown lived in a small apartment near the Capitol, sleeping on a mattress on the floor. When he wasn’t walking to work, he rode in a blue Plymouth rather than the standard limousine.” (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 16, 2015)

Fast–forward around 25 or 30 years when I saw former Governor Brown, then mayor of Oakland, California, at a reception held at the residence of the Japanese consul general in San Francisco, a mansion in the exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood. I couldn’t resist walking up and introducing myself to the mayor, because I thought we had some common ground: I mentioned that I had seen him and Moretti sitting on the curb down the block from my house all those years ago. But more importantly, I had always admired him for his down-to-earth ways.

bernie oak 1

Yesterday I attended Bernie Sanders’ rally in Oakland. One of the highlights of his speech for me was his mention of the price of his suit, about $99, he said. Bernie has famously rejected super packs. Nor does he hold fund-raisers that cost thousands of dollars to attend. Not so Clinton, as is well publicized. On the same day that Gov. Brown announced his endorsement of Clinton, the Boston Herald reported, “Hillary Clinton will tap big-name celebrities to finance a critical last push to knock progressive stalwart Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic primary, including an appearance tonight with rock star Jon Bon Jovi at a Seaport fundraiser.” At the Sanders rally in Oakland yesterday, I saw a young woman holding up a signboard: “Unf*uck the country: Feel the BERN.”

Governor Brown, how could you endorse Clinton over Sanders?

Key Japanese Words in Romulus Hillsborough’s Books: (3)


Makoto (誠), which means “sincerity,” was a cardinal virtue of bushido, along with “loyalty” and “courage.” Adopted as a symbol by the leaders of the Shinsengumi, “the shogun’s last samurai corps” – connoting their loyalty to the Tokugawa Bakufu, the shogun’s government.

Key Japanese Words in Romulus Hillsborough’s Books: (1)

Key Japanese Words in Romulus Hillsborough’s Books: (2)



Key Japanese Words in Romulus Hillsborough’s Books: (1)

This is the first entry of a series of key Japanese words in my books. Each entry will include a brief definition as I understand it.


Bushido (武士道)

General definition: “Way of the warrior,” a direct translation by which bushido is widely referred to in English (“bushi” (武士) is a synonym of “samurai; “do” () is a suffix meaning “way”).

My brief definition: A moral philosophy partly based on Confucianism, whose cardinal virtues were loyalty, courage, and sincerity, developed throughout the peaceful 18th and 19th centuries, during which the samurai class, originally consisting of professional warriors, gradually lost its raison d’etre. Since there were no wars to fight, the samurai had plenty of time of their hands for philosophical and literary pursuits, including bushido, which was given new life as an actual “samurai code” during the violence and tumult of the final fifteen years of the Tokugawa Bakufu (1853-68), generally referred to as the Bakumatsu (to be defined in a separate entry).[1]

[1] Also see Samurai Revolution, Chapter 8: A Brief Discussion on Bushidō.




Katsu Kaishu’s San Francisco Experience, 1860 (2)

old mint new building

The Japanese warship Kanrin Maru arrived in San Francisco on March 17, 1860, as the first Japanese vessel to reach the United States. The captain, Katsu Kaishu, “marveled at the industrialization of the town,” including “the San Francisco Branch of the United States Mint, comprising a three-story red brick building on Commercial Street . . . ,” I noted in my book, Samurai Revolution, based on a March 21, 1860 article in the local San Francisco newspaper, Daily Alta California..

When the mint moved to a new location in 1874, its building was used by the US Subtreasury for a year, after which it was demolished and replaced by a four-story red brick building, which was gutted in the fire resulting from the 1906 earthquake. It was rebuilt at the same spot on Commercial Street, as the single-story red brick building shown in the photograph above, which I took recently during one of my frequent walks through this district in San Francisco, just east of Chinatown and southeast of North Beach – the old Barbary Coast, a district of “Low drinking and dancing houses, lodging and gambling houses of the same mean class” where “No decent man was in safety to walk the streets after dark,” reports an early history of San Francisco published in 1854,[1] six years before the arrival of the Kanrin Maru. The current building, which houses the Pacific Heritage Museum of San Francisco, retains some of the ambience, I think, of the one that Captain Katsu and company observed. And a cut-away section of the original structure is used as part of the exhibit of the history and significance of the old mint. I’ll say more about Katsu Kaishu and the mean streets of Old San Francisco in future posts.
old mint plaque

[1] Frank Soulé, et al. The Annals of San Francisco, pp. 565-66.

Read more about Katsu Kaishu, “the shogun’s last samurai,” in my book Samurai Revolution, the only full-length biography of the great man in English.