Guest Column: Whiplash 3.0

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By Denny Freidenrich

By Denny Freidenrich

Whiplash often occurs during a rear-end auto accident. Thankfully I wasn’t in an accident. But I think I suffered whiplash three times last week. 

First and second, when I tried to keep up with the dizzying rate of impeachment news coming out of the White House and Capitol Hill. And third, when I heard the terrific news about the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Let me explain.

I have been a political news junkie since the mid-1960s. Back then, I lived in my USC fraternity house and often watched the nightly news by myself. For those who are counting, that was years before the 1972 Watergate break-in or Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Despite the intervening decades, I am just as interested in today’s news as I was then. What’s different now is my daughter, who is 25, often watches the news with me.  

Last week’s impeachment developments seemed to reach an all-time high (or low depending on your politics). Not only did Donald Trump implicate himself in a federal crime (whiplash #1) — by asking both Ukraine and China to investigate one of his political rivals — he openly declared that Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, be arrested and charged with treason (whiplash #2).  

I knew my daughter would ask me what constitutes treason, so I did my homework before answering her question. Turns out the president isn’t just wrong, he’s a thousand percent wrong.  Here’s what the Founding Fathers wrote in 1787: 

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”

If only Mr. Trump had read the Constitution before tweeting like he did. It would have saved me my second whiplash of the week.

Whiplash #3 occurred when I heard the news from England. Not only was the Beatles’ Abbey Road album remixed and released as a 50th anniversary special, it debuted at the top of charts.  Yes — John, Paul, George and Ringo were once again Number One. 

(As you might imagine, mine was more of a slow motion, did I hear that right, “wwwhhhaaattt” whiplash instead of your typical rear-ender reaction.)

I remember the night the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show Feb.9, 1964. I was 15 at the time, but their look, sound and energy changed my life forever. Even though mega stars like the Rolling Stones, Cher, Stevie Wonder and Peter Frampton still perform, songs like “Here Comes the Sun,” “Come Together” and “Something” from the Abbey Road album remind me why the Fab Four always will be Numero Uno in my book.

Some say we are living in dangerous times. I agree. Candidate Trump once said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” I almost had whiplash when I heard him say that. 

My lawyer-dad used to tell me no one is above the law. I still believe that. And my mom? She bought me my first Beatles album. I still remember that. Clearly, both the principle and the music have helped make me who I am today.

Denny Freidenrich first moved to Laguna in 1970. More than 1,300 of his letters to the editor and commentaries have been published coast to coast since 1972.

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