Janet Nguyen was wrong and deserved to be removed


The Republican state Senator from California, Janet Nguyen, has gotten a tremendous amount of media coverage in the last few days, the result of being ordered to end her speech vilifying the late Tom Hayden on the floor of the California Senate.

Most of the coverage has been in her favor and against the Democrats, specifically the man who silenced her, the Democratic presiding Senator, Ricardo Lara. Rightwing publications, such as the San Diego Union-Tribune, blasted Lara. This isn’t how democracy works. Shame on Lara…for suppressing Nguyen’s voice,” they editorialized.  Even the New York Times said Lara’s move “backfired,” and became “a rallying cry” among the right.

I have read Sen. Nguyen’s remarks, and after doing so I agree with Sen. Lara’s decision to ask her to stop. She was totally out of line. Let’s consider a few things. First of all, Tom Hayden—himself a former California state Senator—is dead. He died last October. The state Senate earlier last week held a memorial service to honor his long career of political activism and electoral service (for eighteen years, in both the California Assembly and the Senate). The Senate chose to honor him on Feb. 21 with speakers and an Irish bagpiper, in a somber ceremony attended by his widow and one of his sons. That is certainly the Senate’s right and was a very proper thing to do.

Thus, it was rude and mean for Nguyen to pillory Hayden, live, on the floor of the Senate to which he devoted so many years of his life. She went into  fevered rant: Hayden “sided with a Communist government,” his actions were “harmful to democratic values” and were “hateful,” he “supported a communist agenda” and was “profoundly wrong.”

You can look at the Vietnam War any way you want to. You can see Hayden as right or wrong. But what can’t be disputed, I believe, is how inappropriate it was for Nguyen to make her remarks on the morrow of Hayden’s memorial service. How would you like it if your church or synagogue had a memorial service for a beloved family member of yours, and then a few days later somebody else stood in the pulpit and attacked that person’s values and character? You’d be royally pissed, as well you should be.

Now Nguyen has become a hero of the right, which may well have been her purpose. Just days after her speech, she took “a star turn” at a Republican convention, where people wore “I stand with Janet” stickers and there was much speculation about her political future.

Had I been Sen. Lara, I would have been as upset as he was, and done the same thing. Maybe it was an unforced error. This is politics, after all; you never want to hand your opponents a cudgel. Still, Nguyen was incredibly and, I suspect, intentionally insensitive and insulting to Hayden’s memory and to his family. She could have made her remarks elsewhere, as an op-ed piece in a rightwing newspaper or as a press release, or in a town hall with her constituents (if she’s not afraid to meet with them, as so many Republicans are). Instead, she chose this provocation. To bring her vituperation to the Senate floor, so soon after a dead man had been eulogized, was shameful and wrong. Nguyen, who had been asked in advance not to do what she did and ignored that polite request, deserved to be shut up.

I’ll Drink to That: Importer Philippe Newlin of Duclot La Vinicole USA

Episode 410 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Philippe Newlin. Philippe is the head of Duclot La Vinicole USA, an importer and distributor of Bordeaux wines to the United States.

Bordeaux wines don't seem to have the dominant presence in the American market that they once did, and Philippe Newlin explains some of the reasons why this may be so within this episode. He describes an American consumer base with changing tastes, an explosion of global competition for every wine drinker's attention, and a Bordeaux scene that was temporarily more focused on developing relations with China than on maintaining them in the States. He also alludes to the middleman problem, with Bordeaux being sold by a shrinking group of wholesalers, each with less incentive to open bottles for potential clientele than would have been in the case in the past. Into this cauldron steps Newlin, who heads up a Bordeaux importer with an eye towards restaurant sales. In many ways, the experiences from Newlin's career that led up to this point have been helpful for what he is up to now- which is to say for changing the contours of a market . There was the broad tasting experience at Wine & Spirits Magazine, the restaurant world contacts he made while working for that magazine, and the knowledge of the behind the scenes imperatives of wine distribution that he gleaned while an employee of the importer Vintus. What Philippe has to say about these experiences is as enlightening as his analysis of the Bordeaux market, and he opens up a door in this interview to a part of the wine business that most consumers hardly ever see.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes, on Stitcher, or NEW! - check it out on YouTube.

I'll Drink to That is the world's most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 2/27/17

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, here's everything I've strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.


A Well-Dressed Sicilian
Buys a vineyard on Mt. Etna.

Wine's Apparent Neglect of Marketing
Yep. What he said.

Jefford on Monday: Northern Lights
Andrew Jefford sings the praises of Crozes Hermitage.

From Burgenland, Captivating Wines for the Whole Meal
David Marcus finds lots to love in Burgenland.

Winegrowers See Total Sustainability in Their Sights
A worthy goal.

How to tap into the best bargains in wine today
Dave McIntyre loves wine on tap.

Age makes fine wine and
The story of Vasse Felix

Saving The Planet, One Substantial Wine Producer At A Time
Big producers making a big impact on production footprints.

Anson: Wines to drink in Corsica - 'Land of legends and magic'
Delightful wines.

Exploring the History of Wine in Morocco
Definitely on the bucket list.

Too many stinkbugs spoil the wine
Nasty flavors.

Pending legislation threatens to close as many as 25 Md. wineries
A shortsighted bill, indeed.

Stand Out Wines from North Canterbury
Elaine Brown writes up her favorites.

Chile - the perils of monoculture
Jancis visits fire-ravaged Chile.

Wines You Can't Find Anywhere Else
When in doubt, go custom.

The art of wine storytelling
A nice article about what moves us.

Can We Taste Terroir?
You bet, says a study from Italy.

Nerello Mascalese - An Alternative Classic?
As good as Burgundy? No. But damn fine.

Tasting the world's rarest wine grape
Blake Gray finds out that rare doesn't mean delicious. But it was interesting.

The Riddler: Champagne and popcorn in Hayes Valley
Esther Mobley examines the phenomenon of women and Champagne.

What's the Big Deal about High-Altitude Wines?
A survey of mountain flavors.

The $20 Challenge
Matt Kramer sends people to Beaujolais and Australia.

Kenwood ranchers argue vineyards better than housing on valley landscape
The eternal battle.

What Price is Luxury Wine? Research Studies Unclear
Defining a taxonomy.

Quick Bites: New winery to taste in Carmel, chanterelles, meatloaf panini and more. – Monterey County Weekly (blog)

Monterey County Weekly (blog)

Quick Bites: New winery to taste in Carmel, chanterelles, meatloaf panini and more.
Monterey County Weekly (blog)
Hoey will also lead a celebratory/introductory tasting-and-talk 4:30-6:30pm Friday, March 17 with new releases, live music and snacks, though the Odonata wines are already in place and ready for tasting (free/wine club members; $10/non-members).

The Feast it Forward plans a ‘new concept’ food and wine retail experience – Napa Valley Register

Napa Valley Register

The Feast it Forward plans a 'new concept' food and wine retail experience
Napa Valley Register
It may not look like much right now, but Feast it Forward co-founder and president Katie Hamilton Shaffer says that when she opens the doors on the project she's creating in a two-story farmhouse, visitors will discover a new concept of a multi-sensory ...