Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time to End the Personal Belief Exemption

For months, I've been researching vaccinations. "Doing my own research", as the Anti-Vaxxers like to say. I've been doing part of this as background for a piece that has literally taken me six months to write for the Chico News and Review. I pitched the piece and started working on it long before the Disneyland Measles outbreak last December.

I've read much of the Anti-Vaxxer material. I've signed up for all the Anti-Vax websites and read Mercola, Wakefield, Humphries, Sears, Tenpenney and all the other celebrity stars of the Anti -Vax Movement. I've read the critiques of Big Pharma. Watched the "whistleblower" interviews and the supposed secret documents that make the accusation that the CDC is nothing but a patsy for making money for the Vaccine Companies. I've read the websites like the "Farmacy" and "GreenMedInfo", sites that reel in people like me who are generally in favor of eating organic veggies and using lifestyle interventions to increasing public health. That's a no brainer.

But the problem is that these websites and Natural Living Buffoons have such an agenda against vaccines, for no good reason, that it has become more a matter of Natural Living Religion to be Anti-Vax rather than a realistic, reasonable, rational position.

I've interviewed Doctors. I've interviewed Public Health Officers. I've had dinner with Anti-Vax RN colleagues. I've read the Gospel of Offit. I've enjoyed Eula Biss' bestseller. My daily google search alerts for the last year has included topics like "Measles", "Pertussis" and "Vaccinations". I've read thousands and thousands of journalism pieces on the subject. I've paged through the payouts of the Vaccine Court and read about all the alleged injuries in the VAERS reports. I've read the Cochrane Collaboration reports.

The CNR will publish a very sober piece I wrote on the subject soon. But I will say bluntly here what that article states in a more opaque style. As they say in the journalism business: show, don't tell.

My conclusion: We have to do away with the Personal Belief Exemption for school aged children immediately. We must maintain vaccination rates above 95% for all vaccine preventable diseases. This isn't a Big Pharma Conspiracy to rake in billions of dollars; this is about public health and eliminating very dangerous diseases. This is serious business. It is about the right to be free of disease.

Vaccinations are safe. Serious reactions occur but are rare--in the 4 reactions per one million dose range. A fatality from a vaccine reaction is even more rare. One in millions and millions of injections. Autism is not caused by vaccines. SIDS is not caused by vaccines. Shaken Baby Syndrome (and yes, there are Anti-Vaxxers who say this) is not caused by vaccines. Allergies are not caused by vaccines. ADHD is not caused by vaccines. Tenderness at the injection site is the most common reaction. Very rarely, a mild fever.

Recently I had a front row seat watching California attempt to do away with Personal Belief Exemptions. I sat in Richard Pan's office, the co-author of SB277, munching on a wrap and exchanging pleasantries with him and a couple pro-vaccination leaders an  hour before he defended his historic bill in front of the Health Committee of the State Senate. Richard Pan is a pediatrician and a very, very brave and intelligent man. I watched him look every one of the hundreds of critics of his bill's eyes and acknowledge them in the public comment section of the meeting. Some of these hundreds of mostly well intended people, overtly threatened him. One pastor put a curse on all of us who support the bill. Richard Pan remained calm and pleasant even when a few people had to be forcibly removed from the hearing room. Richard Pan was rational and understanding. He has nerves of steel.

I was given a front row seat at the first hearing. I watched hundreds of Anti-Vaxxers march up to the microphone, most of them wearing red "Choice" t-shirts, some of them barely holding back tears, many of them shaking with anger, all of them passionately arguing for their "right" to not vaccinate their children. They do this because of all the normal reasons you can read about if you read Mercola, or Humphries, or Wakefield. Many of them brought their children up to the microphone, most without any sort of blemish that is noticeable, and had the kids say they have been permanently "vaccine injured".

Being "Vaccine Injured" is a badge worn by many of these True Believers. The diagnosis is often given by the parent who needs something to blame for their child's malady. Sometimes the diagnosis is given by a Naturopath or a Chiropractor. Having the diagnosis gives a sense of power to fight against the evil something that caused the problem.  It isn't crazy; it is normal and natural to want to have answers.

This is important stuff. And nobody should care what these people do, if they vaccinate their kids or not, except for one thing: The health of all of us is dependent upon Herd Immunity being maintained. The Anti-Vaxxers do not have the science. They do not have the proper moral argument for their cause. How do you defend your own right to pass on potentially lethal disease to others when a safe vaccine is available to all?

I missed the second hearing but I followed it on-line. The Education Committee seems to have lost focus. They seem to have bought some of the hundreds of protestors message, parroting things like "What if they are right about Autism?" Dr. Bob Sears, a patron saint MD in the Anti-Vax cause was at both hearings. He has rock star status who flopped big time at the first hearing. At the second hearing he outright lied and said he was there for all the Autistic children who, presumably, have been created by vaccines. The bill stalled in this committee.

Will it make it out of committee? We are confident it will. And if it doesn't, we will be back. Vaccination rates have gotten so low that a return of the diseases is almost a given. Disneyland couldn't have happened anyplace else in the US because of California's lax laws. It will happen again and we will be back.

You can count on that.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My First World Hospitalization

It has been about 48 years since I was last admitted to a hospital. Back then, in 1967, hospitals had "Wards". I was just a kid, in the hospital to have my tonsils out. A common practice back then---and since I never have sore throats, perhaps not a bad practice. I know in these days where anything natural is worshipped and Turmeric is the new Ibuprofen (except you don't really know what is  in the Turmeric because of the lack of standards; one study showed a high percentage of mouse shit in Turmeric pills sold as a supplement).

I digress.

The last time I was a patient in a hospital, I was placed overnight in a children's ward. There must have been five or six kids in that room. I remember lying in the bed, looking across what seemed like a massive expanse of a room, really almost like a gymnasium---looking at the back of a television set of the kid across the room from me. I guess hospitals wanted to make money back then too, so your parents could rent you a TV to watch while you recovered from your ailment. I remember feeling sorry for myself that my parents were too poor to rent me a TV and I so desperately wanted to see what the rich-kid-who-must-have-been-loved-a-whole-lot-more-than-me, was watching.

That room way back then was utilitarian. If you think about it, the nurse working that unit didn't have to walk 15,000 steps in a shift to take care of us. We were all right there.

Fast forward 48 years. I am driving on a lonely two lane highway between Chico and Corning. As has happened three times in the last ten months, I heard a rush in my ears. Then, slowly, like a tilt-a-whirl just starting to spin, the world starts to revolve.

"Ah, Shit", I think to myself---because I know in about a minute  this Tilt-a-Whirl will be going fast. I know I won't be able to walk. Driving is out of the question. I know that all I will be able to do is lie down and close my eyes.

And so I have about a minute to find a place to safely get off the road and park. I do so. I find a nice little, lonely place to pull off the road about half a mile from the Strip Joint that is just outside of Chico.

The world starts to spin. Fast. Really bad.

I call my client and cancel. I call Joni. "Should I come get you?" she says.

"Probably would be a good idea", I say.

The car is too uncomfortable to sit and spin in. Too much clutter in the car to get comfortable. I've got file boxes and lots of books; trash from the last 30 days of takeout food I've consumed. I have nursing papers and stethoscopes, more papers and more books that I've been meaning to return to the library. There's extra clothes in that car. Shoes. Backpacks. Bottles to be recycled. I can't get comfortable; too much junk. I wander outside and find that the best, most comfortable position, is to sprawl myself across the hood of the car. It is 6:00 pm on a very busy highway. This section of road is ripping with commuters during rush hour. Nobody stops to see why this guy is sprawled out on the hood of his car.

I hang onto the car like I am holding onto it for dear life. I am. I feel like if I let go of the car, I would be spit out into the void. Into a chasm. It would be like falling off a cliff. I feel like I am hanging onto the rim of the Grand Canyon.

That's how Joni finds me when she and Kylie show up.

Joni gets there in the van and I stagger to the back. Lie down. Spinning. Joni and Kylie transfer the contents of my car to the van and we leave. Where to go? They go to the grocery store.

I lie in the back of the van and spin. Of course this is just a ploy on her part because she wants me to go to the Emergency Room. After a half hour of trying to convince me I should go to the ER, she wins. We go to Enloe.

The world is still spinning. I am assessed by a team of RN's. I know what they will do as I am a Male. Mid-50's. Obese. History of Coronary Artery Disease. Vertigo. BP of 135/113. Some chest pain. They decide to get me back to a room quickly, but not quick enough for me not to vomit in front of all the dozens of people sitting in the waiting room of the ER.

Another notch on the bucket list: public emesis.

And so I am quickly brought to an emergency room. I get an EKG with a monitor. A CT of the head. Labs. All the normal stuff. My cardiac enzymes are fine so I am not having a heart attack. My EKG is okay except for my normal PVC's. Most vertigo patients would be sent home, but this episode is worse. My head feels like it is going to explode and I am nauseous.

They give me morphine for the headache. This doctor doesn't mess around.

Given my symptoms are worsening, they can't rule out a stroke or a TIA. The best way to do that is to admit me for observation and to get an MRI the next day when the lab technicians show up.

The ER MD wants to admit me. That's five thousand dollars down the drain, as that is what my hospitalization deductible is. I consent to the admission. Joni leaves.

Up to the room. Room 5584. I later learn that one of my clients was just discharged from that room earlier in the day. The room is private and has a great view of  the brand new Enloe Hospital Helicopter.

This room is nothing like the Children's Ward when I was a kid. The bed is super fancy and automatically weighs me. Just lie down and get your weight. I am still dizzy, so the nurses put me on FALL PRECAUTIONS. I am not to get up alone; I may not use the toilet. I must pee into a urinal.

Of course, I am still morphined up because of my head, so this isn't that bad of an experience. If you are going to go into a hospital, you might as well do it like Hunter Thompson. In the meantime, the nurse goes on and on about the benefits of Lavendar and how I can have scented oils to help me sleep. It is 4 AM by the time the admission is through.

Lavender, my ass. Give me some pain pills and something to relax! I sleep.

The next day I get the MRI. I was given Vitamin V (valium) prior to getting into the big machine. The MRI Technician puts a helmet on my head before sending me into the tunnel. I feel like Hannibal Lecter. "Good bye Clarice", I say to the Technician. She laughs, catching the Silence of the Lambs reference, and says nobody has ever said that before. I guess it was the valium talking.

Back to the private room to wait. This room is really a bit too nice. There is a distinct New Age feel to the place. Guided Imagery available. Essential Oils. Nice hardwood floor. The whole experience is designed to be like a Sedona Red Rock Healing Resort. Except you are in a hospital and there are no energy vortexes and no red rocks. It is a hospital trying way too hard to be a spa; something it can never be. And I don't know if all this splendor is needed. All the state of the art computers and call lights and $10,000 bed that blows up like an air bag and weighs you automatically.

On the TV: a choice between CNN (another weekend of a jet crash) or Fox News. This hospital needs MSNBC. Or C-Span (to promote sleep). Or maybe Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! to be played in an endless loop.

I watch Fox News with all the leggy female anchors who ask right wing questions endlessly. I think to myself: How do they live with themselves? Do they really believe this shit? Amy Goodman is much more sexy because she has a brain.

But here I am in this hospital stuck with Fox News. At least the nurses are nice; they don't let me walk around without watching me. I learn late Saturday that I didn't have a stroke or a TIA. Yet they hold me another night. The MD has gone home.

Okay. So I get up and do something I have always wanted to do. I walk the halls of the hospital in one of those backless gowns. Except I am wearing hospital pants, so there isn't any full moon out. I walk the halls feeling like an old man. Am I becoming an old man?

I ask for meds and sleep like a baby Saturday night. Since I am on a neural unit, I am there with all the dementia folk who have bed alarms that go off everytime they try and get up. I sleep through it all. The rocket helicopter lands at 2:00 am with a highway drunken trauma accident. The helicopter lands outside my window. I don't hear it and sleep like that 6 year old that slept in the Children's Ward in the hospital in Winona, Minnesota all those years ago.

Sunday the MD comes in. I get a diagnosis: Meneers versus Benign Positional Vertigo. The doctor thinks the latter. Evidently, the vertigo is caused by calcium deposits that roll around in your ears, wreacking havoc. It is treatable with physical therapy.

Joni comes to get me. I pack up my emesis basin, tub, hospital toothbrush, and all the other freebies they give you. I get escorted out of the hospital and off we go to the car.

Which has been broken into; Window smashed; Garmin stolen; Satellite radio stolen. So much for the safety of parking for two days next to a Strip Club.

Quite a weekend. $5,000 worth. At least. All of it amazing with the CT's and the MRI"s and the blood tests and the pills that make you sleep even though helicopters with rocket engines are landing outside your window.

And yet, it is all so First World. I know there are people in the Third World who can't even get a measles vaccine. Or an anti-biotic.

Perhaps we should go back to having wards and less expensive care. Perhaps we should do away with the concierge service and just make sure everybody has some health care access rather than spending all this money trying to attract the paying customers who have insurance like myself.

The nurses and everyone were wonderful. The care was exceptional. I wonder if maybe it isn't too exceptional? I don't think I would have minded being in a ward. Especially if that meant that everyone got healthcare too.

Just some thoughts. With high praise for the nurses and doctors and CNA's and ancillary staff of Enloe. They did an awesome job. They have my respect and appreciation.

Friday, March 20, 2015

BC Media Weekly Wrap Up....

I've been monitoring Butte County Print Media for about a month now. Every Friday, I write a Weekly Wrap Up---to sort of summarize the week's activity. This is this week's edition:

Weekly Wrap Up: 3/20/2015

The Sunday edition of the ER looked more like the left-wing Nation Magazine judging by the letter-to-the-editor content. Two letter writers used heavy rhetoric to call the actions by 47 Republican Senators treasonous when they decided to write the Clerics in Iran, telling them to ignore the sitting President. Obama said that there is no precedent for such an action. The Chico ER's editorial board was mute on the topic; the CNR had addressed the topic... the week before.
A couple brave Right Wing letter writers jumped to the Republican Senators' defense. Both letters were entertaining, especially local Tea Party gadfly (and probable candidate for something someday) Loretta Torres who pretty much said Iran is trying to usher in some utopic golden age by building Nukes, which will result in the birth of the 12th Eman and the destruction of the US and Israel (or something like that, you have to read the letter to believe it).

Never mind the fact there are Christians who still think Hal Lindsey's interpretation of Middle Eastern politics is dictated in the Bible, culminating in the battle of Armageddon with Jesus finally coming back to build a new Jerusalem after Russia and China invade.

The other major issue was water. Both the CNR and the Chico ER had some very timid editorials, praising the area for meeting water use reductions and encouraging all of us to do more. Neither paper challenged the notion that agriculture is the single biggest water hog and that, perhaps, we should rethink the type of agriculture we pursue.

And much to my amazement, I found myself agreeing with the Crank of Durham, Gary Cooper, who generally writes a letter-to-the-editor every week. This week Cooper managed to bring up the unethical practice of farmers selling their surface water rights at a handsome profit and then using pumps to irrigate their crops from the Tuscan Aquifer. Just today I saw two drilling rigs in orchards that were putting in new wells (both in Tehama County). Farmers are getting ready to save their orchards. You can't blame them for that, but, perhaps it is time to consider that drought is the new norm and that we should be making the transition to growing row crops and not commit to orchards that need the same amount of water every year . No amount of consumer water conservation will make a dent in the impending lack of water without a change in agricultural practices.

Then there is the matter of salmon. They deserve their share of water too.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Smart Phone Luddite

Well, I finally decided to act like it is 2005 and bought myself a Smart Phone. Joni went and picked one up one for both of us. Two mini droids (sounds like Star Wars). We now spend more money on our electronics: cell phones, Internet, satellite TV----we spend more money on those three things than we do on our house payment.

I remain mostly a technological Luddite until someone actually shows me the usefulness of a device or the sheer fun of something that connects all of us together. I was anti-personal computer until a visit to my brother's back in 1995, where I ignored him and his whole family in order to chat with some stranger in a chat room on his computer. Amazed by this technology, I drove home to Reno from Minnesota in about 26 hours in order to go buy a computer. I've been hooked ever since.

But up until that day when Doug showed me how it works, I was anti-computer. My brother, who is much more modern than I ever hope to be, argued that computers were "extensions of our brains" and that we become inherently smarter with the things. I guess that's one of the major differences between my brother and me: He was a Gary Hart fan; I liked Mondale. He is modern; I am not. But as for computers enhancing our lives and making us smarter? Yeah, right. Maybe. But porn and computer games are probably the two biggest uses of the PC. And now nobody even e-mails anymore (let alone write an actual letter---can you remember the last time you received one?).

So now I have a Smart Phone. And a Blue Tooth (can anybody tell me why we call those little ear plugs a tooth?). I still can't figure out how the sound is actually picked up by the Blue Tooth. I still can't answer a call with the thing.

As for the phone? It took me a day to figure out how to answer it. Press and swipe. Sort of like Harry Potter's wand, "Swish and flick". Kylie showed me some basics as to how to use the phone. Like how to turn it on. Basic stuff.

I downloaded two things when I got the phone. The first thing was a Facebook app. Now the thing vibrates anytime a friend does an update on Facebook. The second thing I downloaded was Walden by H.D. Thoreau.

What would Henry think? Henry didn't even like trains. Nor newspapers.

And so now I do something I swore I would never do (besides vote Republican) and that is: I sent a text message. It makes me feel a little like I moved to the suburbs and bought a BMW. Now to learn that awful corruption of English that the text message has taught us. It used to be called, shorthand. Now it is just text language and goes something like this. LOL U SCK. BRB. CYa.

What would Shakespeare say? Or Thoreau? Or Ed Abbey?

Essentially, I need the Smart Phone for work. And to be an alarm clock. The jury is out as to how much I actually enjoy the thing. So far I'm not so enamored with it that I'd drive across the continent in order to purchase one.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Thoughts on Turning 54....

I turned 54 yesterday. I realize that has no significance to anyone other than me. So be it. But as I take another step closer to the grave, bucket lists and resolutions come to mind. As we age we start to accept the fact that we probably aren't going to ride a bike across the US. And a Thru Hike of the Pacific Crest Trail probably is not going to happen.

But goals are important. So are resolutions. Resolutions are more likely to be kept if decided on a birthday than on January 1. An individual birthday is more important than the mass Times Square, seldom sober, New Year's Day hangover resolution.

And so I resolve a couple of things for the next year:

1. I will step on the scale everyday. People who step on the scale daily weigh less than people who don't. As this is written one day after my birthday, I am in total compliance with this.

2. I shall take at least a thirty minute walk everyday. I have a new job that is very, very demanding time-wise. I spend too much time in the car driving only to sit and talk to a client and then repeating the process until my butt is sore and my voice is hoarse. I need to take the time to walk.

3. I shall limit my screen time. I spend much of my life charting Nurse stuff for my job on a fancy electronic tablet. That thing is always with me. In my leisure time, writing and reading articles on a screen are important to me too. In fact, I should be working on an article right now instead of plucking away at this computer. I spend too much time wasting my life away looking at Facebook and reading all the articles my very intelligent friends want me to read. I love this and love what I learn, however I need to limit this time.

4. I shall not look at my work E-mail from Friday evening until Monday morning. My workplace expects me to check E-mail on Sunday Night. I shall not comply with this rule. Work takes up too much of my life.

5. I shall take an electronic Sabbath of 24 hours in length every Saturday or Sunday with the exception of my phone because I am on-call 24/7 for work.

6. I shall have an outdoors event planned for every weekend.

7. I shall buy a canoe and go fishing.

8. I shall take a trip to the Pinnacles in order to try and catch a view of the California Condor.

9. I shall hike from Sierra City, California to Belden, California on the Pacific Crest Trail.

10. I shall go camping more with Joni and our delightful dogs.

11. I shall start to reduce my meat consumption and eat more veggies. We shall go more "Ornish" as we say in our household. It is good for me and good for the planet. A win/win. I feel convicted by my Enviro Vegan friends to make this adjustment.

12. I shall keep a log of both my walking times and my weight from stepping on the scale.

That about does it. Feel free to write me and ask about my progress.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Support Your Local Newspaper...

The other night I was at a meeting where a gentleman stated he had written a letter-to-the-editor but hadn't seen it in print as he doesn't believe in subscribing to the Chico ER because he doesn't agree with the views of the editorial board and David Little, the editor.
This is a constant complaint I hear all the time. The Paradise Post took up the issue in two columns last week.

Rick Silva, the editor of the Paradise Post, wrote about the heat he takes for printing the views of the very liberal Jaime O'Neill. Evidently he had people threaten to end their subscriptions to the paper because he prints O'Neill's delightful and fun-to-read columns. The opposite also happened when somebody canceled a subscription because of something that Rick Silva wrote. Jaime O'Neill wrote a companion piece about those who cancel subscriptions just because they disagree with a certain columnist.

I decided to subscribe to the Chico ER electronically this week (I live in the boonies and nobody delivers papers out here). I often buy a copy of the Paradise Post whenever I am in Paradise.

I don't agree 98% of the time with the editorial board, and the editors, of the Paradise Post and the Chico ER. I do, however, love print journalism and I think both communities (Chico and Paradise) are well served by having those papers published.
I also read the more liberalChico News and Review every week (and in full disclosure, I contribute to that paper). It is interesting to note that the Chico News and Review has the highest readership in Butte County.

To cancel a subscription just because an editor says something you don't like is silly. If you disagree, scribble down 250 words and send it in to the paper. Editors have a right to have an opinion. They also have a right to express them. They also have an obligation to print rebuttals from people who disagree with them.

And until it is proven otherwise, I do believe that the editors of the local papers do make an attempt to print views that do not agree with the newspaper's positions.

Newspapers are dying. They need our help. Working with them and participating with them is a much better form of dissent than to just simply take the very childish path of boycotting a newspaper and then creating a situation where we no longer have print journalism in our county.

For those who might be interested, I created a new Facebook page dedicated to the editorials, columnists and letters-to-the-editor of Butte County print journalism. I daily monitor the Chico ER, the Oroville MR, the Paradise Post, the Chico News and Review, and the Gridley Herald. I also keep an eye on the ChicoSol which is a local online publication. Find the page here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A New Project: Butte County Media Watch

I've started a new project. I've been asked by a local political guy to investigate the possibility of getting more left wing/liberal opinion into the local newspapers. As such, I have to figure out what the current state of affairs of opinion are amongst the local press.

I've always paid attention to the content of the local papers. I read most of them often (online). But I've never really tried to put it all into a consistent study. The four major papers in Butte County are: The Chico ER; the Oroville MR (which is owned by the ER and has almost identical content to the ER); the Paradise Post (owned by the company that owns the ER, but with vastly different content); and the liberal Chico News and Review (to which I am an occasional contributor). Of all the newspapers, the one with the largest circulation is the Chico News and Review.

I've been looking at the content of the opinion pages, mainly the Editorials, the Columnists and the Letters to the Editor.

I've been told by local Democratic Party activists that it is tough for liberals to get Letters to the Editor published in the right wing papers (the ER and the Paradise Post). I have a hard time fathoming whether this is true or not, after all, doesn't every editor want a lively opinion page to drive up readership?

In these non-tolerant times, people gets their panties all in a twist over reading opinions with which they disagree. Editor Rick Silva of the Paradise Post mentioned such a dilemma last week when he wrote a piece about various people who wanted to cancel their subscriptions for the views expressed on the Opinion page of that newspaper. Silva wrote:

"It seems to me that too many of us want our news to be presented in a way that exclusively reflects our own views. It seems odd to me that two opinion pieces that view the world from totally different perspectives would engender a similar response.

Even if you find one opinion objectionable, surely the presence of another with an opposing view, when presented in a fair and balanced manner, should offset your objection. The reality is that in spite of our own worldview, it is only through our ability or willingness to reach out and read views contrary to our own that we challenge ourselves to expand our understanding."

The interesting thing is that of all the newspapers around here, the Paradise Post has the fewest Letters to the Editor published. I don't know why.

As for the content of the Letters to the Editor? The Chico ER has the most lively content, with much of it swinging to the Rabid Right. As is common around here, you can find the Obama is a Communist/Muslim letters.

This letter, which I will print in full, was in the Chico ER just a couple days ago. The letter was titled: Obama's goals sound like the Communist Manifesto.

Here's the letter:

“From each according to capacity (original Marx), later changed to ability, to each according to need.”

After hearing Barack Obama’s State of the Union, I was reminded of the Communist Manifesto. Your readers might reflect on the countless millions killed to implement this failed economic agenda.

Upon hearing that Saul Alinsky was a community organizer in Chicago, I researched his book, “Rules for Radicals.” Hillary Clinton and Obama were students of Alinsky. The bottom line was the ends justify the means. The goal is political power. He remarks that such power rests not in political left and right, (Republican and Democrat), but is the independents and middle-class voters. Notice the emphasis of the “poor” middle class by Obama.

Alinsky says that leaders of organizing must frequently change the subject of interest in order to keep followers energized. Readers will no doubt note the daily shift in the White House emphasis.
Consider the State of the Union address and the current budget proposal by Obama and then reflect on the “fundamental transformation of America.” May the Almighty bless and deliver us from these Marxists and ISIS enablers and other Islamic jihadists.

— Hugh Rhodes, Magalia

Now why would David Little, the editor of the Chico ER, publish a letter like that? To show just how stupid some of their readership is? To throw a bone to the radical right? Did he publish it as a bit of local color? Did he publish it to show just how hickish this part of the state really is?

Who knows.

From a preliminary reading of the letters to the editor, it seems that the ratio of rabid right letters to more liberal minded letters is about five to one. Hopefully we can increase the left's presence a bit more over the coming years.

Why do this? Because it works more than I ever thought it would. Neighbors taking a stand on an issue has impact. You'd think that a liberal college town like Chico would have innumerous professors and academics writing letters, addressing questions of the day. That doesn't seem to be the case (although I haven't paid enough attention to firmly state that).

Measure A in Butte County, the ballot measure that severely limits the cultivation of cannabis in Butte County, was passed even though they were way outspent. Measure A people had no TV commercials. Measure A had just a few billboards and a few signs. They were outspent by the opposition by, at least, 2 to 1. But what they did do was write a constant barrage of letters to the editor which turned out to be very effective. By doing this, they managed to switch 30,000 votes and change 30 percent of the citizens of Butte County's minds. Two years previously, the pro-cannabis crowd won a relaxed measure by 10 points; two yeas later they lost by 20 points. Quite an achievement to which a letter writing campaign certainly helped.

Liberals and Lefty's should take note of that achievement and mimic it. If you are interested, I started a new Facebook page to monitor the local press. Please join it here.