Monday, July 29, 2013

Right Wing Editors (part 2): The Chico ER, David Little and Lead Ammunition..

Lead ammunition has become an issue in California. David Little is the editor of the daily newspaper, the Chico Enterprise Record and its sister paper, the Oroville Mercury. He wrote a horrid editorial, taken straight from the gun lobby, called: It is open season on hunters.

I've never met David, but I like him. He is a hunter and an outdoors enthusiast. A family man whose honesty and conservative common sense bleeds through his editorials and columns. And he often writes from the heart. He loves to taunt Chico's liberal city council, especially lately, when it appears they have quite a budget deficit to make up. When California was finally blessed with the visitation of a gray wolf from Oregon, who we named "Journey", David Little was supportive of having a renewed presence of wolves in California. Given the rancher hysteria about predators, that was a courageous position for him to take. David also wrote a glowing endorsement about a not often visited wilderness area in the Sierra. And his columns on his love of backpacking are vibrant and entertaining. It is obvious that he loves wild places and nature.

David has been not so good on other issues involving the outdoors. He tends to take the extreme NRA hunter line on most issues (with the lone exception of the wolves in northern California). David Little believes there are too many mountain lion in California to the extent, he believes, the black tailed and mule deer populations have been greatly diminished. David Little would like to bring back a mountain lion season. David Little is also on the wrong side of the plastic bag ban; however, given the amount of advertising daily papers get from grocery stores, he almost has to tow the industry line on that issue. I've never seen a daily newspaper endorse plastic bag bans.

David Little is a likeable fellow, but the Chico Enterprise Record remains squarely conservative and has been downright awful on environmental issues like climate change, the before mentioned plastic bag issue and the paper's lack of reporting on the success of renewable energy in this sundrenched part of California. The Chico ER will never be mistaken for a Green newspaper. At least, not yet.

But back to the lead ammunition debate. California is poised to be the first state to ban the use of lead in ammunition. The reasons for doing such are health related for humans and wildlife. Here is David Little's lead paragraph:

"California politicians are ready to grace us with another dubious first. The state will become the first to ban lead ammunition for all hunting, which is a horribly unnecessary step with one ultimate goal: to eventually make hunting so inconvenient that the dwindling numbers of California hunters finally just hang it up."

Mr. Little does endorse the ban on lead ammunition in the parts of the state where the very rare California condor has been dying from eating game that was killed with lead ammunition. Lead poisoning has been the number one killer of California condors in the wild. Environmentalists extrapolate that if it is happening to condors, it must be happening to other raptors, and indeed, humans. Minnesota advises against pregnant women from eating game killed with lead ammunition.

David and I have exchanged e-mails on topics through the years. The exchange we had regarding this issue is worth copying on to this blog.

I wrote David:

Hi David,
Just read your column today about lead ammunition. Sounds like a bit of hyperbole to say that it's all about wanting to stop all hunting in California. We've been trying to get lead out of the environment for forty years--hence no more lead in gasoline or paint. The Minnesota and North Dakota experience with lead in venison, thereby cautioning young women and children to not eat venison by the State Health Dept., well, that seems to be more about getting rid of a toxin in the environment than some sort of war on hunters. It isn't anti hunter; it's pro-health. I want my venison to not be poisoned by lead.
I don't think there is any need to blame urban environmentalists regarding new policies towards lead ammunition, or the use of dogs in hunting or our ever changing attitudes towards predators. The recent Bobcat initiative calls for studying real numbers of the predator before we trap them to extinction. Our history on managing wildlife has not been good. Nothing wrong with adding a bit of science to best management practices.
We share a love of the outdoors. I'm just hoping you'd turn down the heat when it comes to hunter/environmentalist relations.
Allan Stellar
To which, David Little replied:
The lead in paint and gasoline is harmful to humans. The lead in ammunition and fishing weights is very different. The lead in ammo and fishing weights is inert and does not dissolve in water, so is not absorbed by plants or animals. There is a huge toxicity difference between inert lead and the highly toxic lead compounds in paint.

I've been eating venison since I was a kid, and biting down on lead split shot for as long as I can remember. Lead's not going to kill me. It's a scare tactic and I'm not buying into it.
David Little
And my reply:

With all due respect, to state that calling for a lead ammunition ban is a ploy to eliminate hunting is also a scare tactic. I think you would concede that lead ammunition is harmful to raptors, waterfowl and animals that scavenge, correct? Since there is very good evidence that this occurs, that is reason enough for the lead ban. And there is evidence that lead levels are elevated after eating wild game in humans.
Or to put it another way, I'm more concerned about scavenger's exposure to lead than your exposure to lead when you chip a tooth on a pellet. Although both are important.
Let's judge lead ammunition based on real evidence, rather than scare tactics on both sides of the debate. For me, I'm willing to listen to the CDC and the Audubon Society--especially when good alternatives exist.
And David Little:
If you're willing to listen, then perhaps you can solve this riddle for me. Up in northeastern California, ground squirrels are considered rodents. People armed with guns -- lots of people -- shoot them, and farmers are glad to get rid of them. There are even people who have elevated platforms on their pickups for providing a little better vantage point to shoot the varmints. What I'm trying to say is, it's very common.

The raptors there know that when the shooters are there, it's feeding time, because the shooters don't pick up the carcasses. They let them lie. And raptors of all types pick 'em up and eat 'em.

So where are the studies and stories about raptors dying in Modoc and Lassen counties (and eastern Oregon, and Wyoming, and so forth) from this lead poisoning?

In the interests of protecting the identity of the bird sanctuary people, both their location and names have been withheld in the following e-mail.

Hi David,
We were in dialogue regarding the ground squirrel hunt up in Modoc County and whether there was any lead contamination from this hunt with raptors. There is a eagle rescue center in (confidential) run by (names withheld). I gave them a ring. "X" said that they have lost five eagles from lead poisoning over the last four years. She said that they haven't had an eagle survive the treatment for the lead poisoning. She suspects hawks also are damaged from the lead poisoning, but said since they do this out of the kindness of their hearts, and the diagnostic tests cost $200, she couldn't prove that hawks were dying because she didn't have them tested . She states that wildlife officials have told her, off the record, that the squirrel hunt does damage to the raptor population. She said that she is frightened to go on the record with this data, and the name of the federal official, due to the fact that the squirrel hunt brings in much needed revenue in a very poor county. I ran across the same sort of reluctance when I covered the coyote hunt last year.
She said it would be fine for  you to call her regarding the issue of eagles, lead poisoning and the squirrel hunt. This phone call was off the record, but she stated she would go on the record if I were to write something up regarding this hunt. X said she would be happy to talk to you regarding the lead poisoning from  lead ammunition.
By the way, I liked your Sunday piece on the old man with dementia.
Allan Stellar 
And David Little's response:
Interesting. Thank you.
This was a good dialogue. I'm not expecting any retraction of David Little's position, but, maybe, just maybe, his position might stray from the They-are-trying-to-end-all-hunting to a position that pays attention to the merits and demerits of lead ammunition.

Addendum: Modoc County has a yearly coyote slaughter. I covered it earlier this year. Ground squirrels are prey for coyotes. Modoc County then has a Ground squirrel slaughter a month after they've had their coyote slaughter. That just doesn't make sense to kill the predator that controls the Ground squirrel population.  Only in Modoc County...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

LaMalfa the Opportunistic Libertarian?

Doug LaMalfa got the attention of the Los Angeles Times yet again. Michael Hiltzik wrote a scathing story on LaMalfa being one of the fourteen Congressmen who takes farm subsidies while at the same time voting for cuts to Food Stamps. Hiltzik is especially tough on LaMalfa due to LaMalfa's statements during the hearing that government doesn't owe the poor anything. It is worth quoting Hiltzik at length:

But my favorite character remains California's own Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale). At the May 15 hearing, he embarked on a lengthy discourse about the Bible, the church, godliness, and Congress' responsibility for the poor.

But it's worth quoting at length. Short version: Congress doesn't owe the poor nothin'. "We should be doing this as individuals, helping the poor, helping these individuals. Or through the church if we can't do it ourselves. And a heck of a lot more accountability comes from individuals or the church doing it than the government, that signs off on helping people at 5 o'clock, because it comes from the heart, not from a badge or a mandate."

He continued: "I think we're all pretty loving people here, that want to help the poor," he said. "But government has not provided those solutions. It's failing. And to think that we can't retract just a little bit of the spending  [on food stamps] over something that's grown exponentially in the last three or four years to try to get this reform in place." He called the $20-billion cut a "modest" change. 

LaMalfa's take from farm subsidies, by Miller's reckoning: $1.7 million. The number of recipients of food stamps in Butte County, where LaMalfa resides, is 27,457. That's 11% of his neighbors who would go without, thanks to LaMalfa's vote to eliminate benefits. Hope he eats well at dinnertime.

It seems that the Los Angeles Times is paying quite a bit of attention to Cowboy LaMalfa. Why? Because you can always count on LaMalfa to say something stupid. He has no filter. The You Tube recording above certainly gets that harsh point across.

LaMalfa has some Libertarian tendencies as long as it doesn't involve him. When a proposition is on the table that lines his pocket, he suddenly becomes a big spending Liberal.

One other vote was interesting last week. The Amash amendment to the Defense Authorization bill would have eliminated the NSA from spying on phone records of most Americans. The Amendment had the support of the most Liberal of Democrats and the Tea Party Republicans. Of course, the two extremes agree for some very different reasons. The Tea Party Republicans are paranoid that Obama is planning some sort of coup, hence they are trying to limit his power. The Liberal Democrats voted for the Amendment because of 1st Amendment loyalties and as a challenge to the National Security State. There was some suspense where LaMalfa would vote. He surprised me by voting with the Liberals. He voted for the Amendment that went down on a very close vote of 217 to 205. 

LaMalfa, when he isn't lining his own pockets, is looking a whole lot more like Rand Paul than Chris Christie at this point. I guess passing a few M and M's to Rand Paul when Rand did his filibuster had an influence on our Cowboy Congressman. At this point, LaMalfa looks to be quite radical. I wonder if he sleeps with a copy of Atlas Shrugged under his pillow?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Personal Update...

Enough of the political stuff for now. We shall certainly return to that. Here's a more personal note.

On the Third of May of 2013, I was injured by a patient. I received two sharp blows to my ribs which broke two of them. I had to continue wrestling with this patient for a number of minutes to secure him. This took a toll on me. I didn't know it at the time, but my left lung was injured and part of it is scarred and the alveoli no longer inflate. In addition, the blow to the ribs injured the back of my spine, where they attach to the vertebrae. My back has been in constant spasm since this injury. All the soft tissue and ligaments were affected. It is now two and a half months since the injury and there has been very little improvement.

I've seen a chiropractor three times and I'm in physical therapy twice a week. I will be seen again by a Workman's Comp MD on August 2. I am taking medications to relax the muscle spasm (not working) and also a steady diet of opiates (they work). My physical therapist says that it will take nine months to a year to recover from this injury.

I've been a psychiatric nurse for twenty years. I've had my ribs broken three times before. However, those injuries weren't as serious; I am having a very difficult time recovering from this injury. I have started hiking hills. When I do that without opiates on board, I am in pain when I try to breathe. It is like the ribs have shortened while they healed and they push on my right lung. The back spasm is a gnawing pain that makes me have to move every 20 minutes or so. Without opiates I cannot function. I cannot sit in a chair for longer than 20 minutes. This makes it very difficult to commute the three and a half hours to work.

I am getting a little bit frightened that this might be a career ending injury.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Joni and the Coalition of Energy Users

The Forces of Darkness came to Marysville yesterday under the guise of a citizen's organization. The Coalition of Energy Users (CEU), an oil and gas industry front group that probably has ties to the ever politically ambitious courtesan for big oil, Dan Logue--staged a teach in designed to assuage any fears north state residents might have about the safety of Fracking. Organizers went to great lengths to ensure a well attended meeting; they filled two busses of supporters from the Sacramento area and brought them to the event making sure they had a friendly audience with the proper loyalties.

Of course, the CEU knew how many people they needed to bus in ahead of time because prospective participants had to fill out a written application to attend the seminar. Joni Stellar, my spouse, applied to attend the conference six weeks ago. She was rejected by the Industry Front group. "No space", they replied. Joni shared that distinction with the local expert on Fracking, and also president of the local Sierra Club, Dave Garcia.

The CEU didn't want to have any shenanigans at the conference so they hired a Bouncer to watch for any subversives who might want to listen (and maybe challenge?)  the CEU's arguments. They had a "Do Not Admit" list, and somehow they were able to scope out the likely granola-heads that might be attending the meeting. Joni, my wife, was pulled aside and refused entry. She was reduced to standing on the sidewalk, holding a sign and wearing a badge that informed others that they could talk about Fracking with her. The same thing happened to two other Activists. They were stopped at the door and told to leave by the Bouncer.

The Chico Citizen's Action Network did manage to have one member slither into the meeting in order to gather information. There also were members of the press there: the Chico Sol sent a reporter as did Sacramento News10 television news. A mole stated there were more than enough empty seats to accommodate the environmentalists outside who were barred from peacefully attending the presentation.

Carefully staged and choreographed propaganda seminars are nothing new to industrial and political campaigns.  I have a sneaky suspicion that this one serves both the oil industry and the forthcoming U.S. House of Representatives campaign of Dan Logue. Why? Well, first off Dan Logue is the oil industry's stooge in California. Dan Logue supposedly wrote Prop. 23 that was to do away with California's first in the nation global warming initiatives. I say supposedly wrote it because more than a few people have implied that it was Koch Brothers' lawyers (and ALEC) that actually wrote the thing. CEU, of course, is a tax deductible organization disallowed from helping individual candidates, but if you look carefully at the supporting organizations of CEU, you will find at least one of them has close ties to Dan Logue. Dan Logue plans on challenging John Garamendi, and whereas there is a slight voter registration advantage to Garamendi, Logue is hoping that issues like fracking, and the fact it is an off year election, will drive voters into the oil drenched arms of Dan Logue.

This seminar is just the start of a fracking PR campaign that will have lots and lots of cash behind it. Dan Logue also will have lots and lots of campaign cash. The Oil and Gas Industry state that there are 25 billion dollars worth of oil and gas to be mined underneath this part of California. They also claim millions of jobs will be created. They will argue that the environmentalists, and any Democrats who oppose fracking, are standing in the way of high paying jobs, prosperity and a financial bonanza for all.

The television station found it curious that a select group of  people were banned from attending the event. They interviewed Joni. And they interviewed Dave Garcia. Two patriotic Environmentalists standing in the way of the richest industry in the history of the world.

You can watch the Sacramento News10 story here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Revenge of the Right Wing Editors (part one)

I live in a very conservative district with very conservative newspapers that have very conservative editors. And like all editors, they generally like to hear a bit of feedback every once and awhile. There isn't a writer in the world who doesn't want to have some feedback from the masses. Writers are natural attention seekers. Lonely types, hiding behind their lap tops. And most of them are starved to hear something, anything, about what they write. Better read than dead, Ed Abbey said.

And so I write them what I think of certain things; I praise them when they manage to be less stupid than normal. If you write about things you have in common, you can establish a rapport. And so you become known to them. They will continue to notice you when you write a few popular stories about major candidates calling Obama "Muslim" or cover a coyote story that goes national. They start paying a bit more attention to you. You go from being an interesting reader to becoming someone that perhaps they need to be careful around. Or start to ignore.

Last week I read that Doug LaMalfa and State Senator Jim Nielsen were appearing together at a property owners club to discuss lawsuits harassing business owners not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA). Of course, this meeting was designed to have a bunch of right wingers hob nob about excessive and onerous regulations that limit economic growth. That's what they advertised anyway (I kid you not).

 This meeting needed some balance, I thought, so I alerted a few Disability Activists about the event and suggested that they show up for the meeting. They did. En masse. (They wrote after the event and thanked me for alerting them.)

They certainly did a good job advocating for themselves and it made all the papers and television stations. Good coverage, although maybe not quite the coverage that Congressman Doug LaMalfa wanted to have. He had to be civil and it is hard to put down onerous regulations when you are talking to a crowd of disabled people in wheelchairs and blind people with companion guide dogs present.

Enter Rick Silva, the editor of the Paradise Post. He has accused me of being a "Gotchya journalist". I told Rick (via e-mail) that it is simple: don't say anything stupid in front of me. If they are going to continue to be stupid, I will write about it. Duh!

After the takeover of the ADA meeting by the Disability Advocates, Rick Silva wrote a horrid column stating that interest groups should limit their speakers to one person. And his last paragraph speaks volumes as to why these right wing extremist politicians try to talk to only friendly audiences:

"Perhaps Nielsen and LaMalfa could have been more forceful in controlling the direction of the discussion, but we also understand that any conservative Republican trying, even politely, to ask advocates for the disabled to stay on point may end up being a YouTube moment for them to deal with."

By the way, the Americans With Disabilities Act was a bipartisan bill, signed by the first George Bush. It has improved the lives of millions.

More about Right Wing Editors in future posts...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chico Stands with Trayvon...

Yesterday, Joni and I joined about 100 other people in a March for Trayvon. There were a number of black clergy there. Good, solid, moral men. I was moved listening to their experiences of racial profiling and what it is like to be black in Chico. I was also moved by the local  leader of the NAACP. She isn't pictured in any of the photos because I was too busy listening to her stirring words.

New "Stand Your Ground" laws have led to an increase in homicide everywhere these type of laws have been adopted.

Before the March began, a black clergyman led the group in prayer. The leaders of the march also reminded everyone that this was a non-violent gathering. I didn't see any white clergymen (or women) in attendance. I've noticed lately that white clergy have not been standing up for social justice.

There was one police officer who drove by the march in his police car. Several of the marchers tried to get his attention, hoping he would look at their signs. The policeman ignored the march. He kept his eyes looking forward, not looking at the people marching. No smile. No wave. No eye contact. No recognition on his part of what was going on.

Here's Joni with our good friend, Karen Duncanwood. Karen went to Mississippi in 1964 and witnessed first hand, the racism present in Freedom Summer. Our friend, Jaime O'Neill, wrote an excellent piece about Karen's experiences that summer.


It was an honor to participate in this gathering. I've been discouraged as of late with all this bravado about "Stand Your Ground" laws and this near worship we have of guns in this society. It was nice to stand with people who are asking for sanity when it comes to guns and race relations.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Two (rare) Cheers for Doug LaMalfa

Regular readers of this blog know that I am often quite critical of my Congressman,  Doug LaMalfa, but two news stories broke over the last few days where Doug LaMalfa is to be commended. In the interest of fairness, let's give credit where credit is due.

Although I've heard Doug criticize President Obama's use of Air Force One at a Tea Party meeting in Chico, when another Representative did the same thing on the floor of the House of Representatives, Doug LaMalfa, who was presiding over the House at the time, did the right thing and rebuked the Representative for being disrespectful to the President. Good for Doug!

Doug LaMalfa also is attaching his name to some bipartisan regulation to enhance enforcement of marijuana cultivation on public lands. Trespass cultivation of thousands of plants has contributed to the death of Fishers because of the rodent poison they use to protect the plants. Doug is right on this issue.

Two cheers for Doug! Let's hope this continues.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

LaMalfa and Napolitano: LaMalfa Punches Above His Weight; Primary Challenge?

I wrote a Guest Comment for the best Left Leaning newsweekly in Northern California. In it I described part of the psyche of our new Congressman Doug LaMalfa. It might be immodest to say so, but I did appear just a tiny bit sage-like when I wrote:

"His hubris and myopia will continue to get him in trouble. He can’t help it. He will offer opinions when given the chance, which will amaze us with his stupidity. We will never describe him as a thoughtful person, nor will we say he can weigh arguments fairly. He is a brash creature of propaganda, bathed in Limbaugh and Larson. A cowboy populist"

It took all of a couple days before Doug LaMalfa proved me to be correct in this assessment. This time LaMalfa chose to display his stupidity in the Los Angeles Times.

Janet Napolitano is the director of Homeland Security. She headed that agency for five years. Before that she was a very successful Democratic Governor of Arizona. She is a skillful, competent woman. Arizona rarely elects any Democrat to anything, the fact that Napolitano was able to be elected to be the Governor of Arizona is darned near a miracle. She is stepping down from the Homeland Security job in order to become the Chancellor of California's once great University system. Despite the National Security Agency scandals, nobody has accused Napolitano of any wrong doing; in fact, most reviewers of government give her high marks. She is an apt leader.

Of course, Doug LaMalfa, fresh from accusing the Obama Administration and Janet Napolitano, of hording bullets in order to stage some sort of coup ( I kid you not), now LaMalfa sent out a press release stating that Napolitano is a rotten choice to be the Chancellor. LaMalfa based his thoughts on Napolitano's record of civil liberties. Doug LaMalfa is hardly an ACLU sort of guy when it comes to civil liberties. Most would state that LaMalfa is rather dismal on the issue if you look at his comments about access to voting by Hispanics and his frothing at the mouth statements regarding the evils of abortion.

However, Doug LaMalfa is not scared to punch above his weight. You can read the article here.

When it comes to civil liberties, it seems that the Gang of Eight Senators who are pushing for Immigration Reform think that Doug LaMalfa just might be able to be swayed to voting for their plan. Doug LaMalfa is on a list of 121 Republicans who are being wooed to vote for the plan.

Good luck! This part of California is Anti-Immigration. You don't want to be seen as cuddling up to "Illegals", as they call them, in the Tea Party (which has quite a bit of power in Northern California). The local Tea Partiers are deeply racist. If Doug voted for the plan, he would be ridiculed, cajoled and pretty much seal up a Primary Challenge in 2014.

Yet Boehner has been courting LaMalfa. He even took a trip last summer to LaMalfa's Rice Farm Compound. This should be fun to watch. Will LaMalfa join the Democrats and the few remaining Republican Moderates? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thoughts on Trayvon, Walking and Anti-Social Gated Commuinities...

Trayvon Martin's killer went free this week. And almost everyone has an opinion about the matter. It seems to pretty much break down according to ideology; if you are white and conservative, you side with George Zimmerman, the killer; if you are liberal or black, you were probably hoping Zimmerman would go to jail for a good long time. I know I was.

I've had more than my share of arguments regarding this. I've had all sorts of opinions e-mailed to me, the protagonist thinking, "if only Allan see's this, he will see just how much sense it makes that Zimmerman was just protecting himself". The Internet is all a buzz about it. Tell me how you feel about guns, or affirmative action, or abortion, and I think I could pretty much predict what your opinion is of Trayvon's killing.

Trayvon got killed because he took a walk. That about sums it up: Trayvon got killed for walking while black. Or maybe for just taking a walk at all. Actually going for a walk in many neighborhoods has become a suspicious activity, punishable by death.

And Trayvon got killed while walking in a Gated Community. Again, another one of my pet peeves. I see no reason why any Community needs to be Gated. Ever. To me, it just means that good walkable habitat has been denied you. Gated Communities still depend upon services such as police and fire protection just like the rest of us plebes. So why do we let them get away with being so Anti-Social? My feeling is that if you are so Anti-Social that you need to live in a Gated Community, well, fine; but let's increase their property tax by 1,000 percent. Make them pay to be so anti-social.

I like to walk around here. I like to hike. I'd say it is the number one reason why I live in the country. I live here so that I can take a walk. But taking a walk is getting to be more and more dangerous. I live in prime pot growing country where people have an overly inflated sense of private property. If you are growing Cannabis plants that get to be the size of Christmas Trees, and these plants are worth around three or four thousand dollars each, and you are smoking bud as you watch over your grow, and your grow happens to be in the country, and you are paranoid from smoking the bud, and you are well armed because you want to protect your private property, and some bookish Thoreau wannabee comes walking along, you very well might want to shoot the bookish guy and ask questions later. If he is out for a walk he must be up to no good. At least that's what Zimmerman thought. Stand your ground. Shoot first, you felt threatened!

I've been stopped a couple of times while taking a walk around here. Since the folks are growing things of dubious legality, they usually don't want people walking near them. I, of course, inform them that they must drive past my place to get to their place and is it really so bad that a person wants to roam a bit and stretch their legs? Things usually don't get heated, but they have on one occasion.

So I side with people who walk. The last words Zimmerman said was "Fucking punks, they always get away". That statement, alone, should have let the jury know what sort of frame of mind Zimmerman was in. He confronted Trayvon. Picked a fight. Got hit, felt scared and he killed Trayvon. All of this just because he thought he was a big man in the neighborhood, carrying a loaded gun.

Wyatt Earp was smart enough to practice gun control. We should be as smart; have gun free zones, get rid of concealed carry and confiscate and imprison those who really think they need to carry a weapon in urban areas.

How about weapons in rural areas? Sure, but with one caveat:  I firmly believe that the use of substances such as pot or beer, don't mix well with guns. If you handle a gun and you register any alcohol on your breath, this should be a crime.

And no one should be able to have a weapon anywhere near a marijuana grow. Let people protect their cannabis crop  the old fashioned way: with fists and a staff. Let them call the police should they feel threatened.

The goal is to make our society more social; to continue on the path of suspicion and fear only leads to barbarism.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Enough Said

Zimmerman gets away with murder.

Why would anybody expect a different outcome when you have a trial in a corrupt southern state where five out of six jurors are white, and you have two white defense attorneys, two white prosecution attorneys, a white judge---all of them either ignoring, or denying, the racial element of Zimmerman's crime?

We've had a lot of sad days lately. This is another one.

For most of my adult life, I've watched the freedoms that we have gained slowly eroded away by a bunch of Extremists who oppress others in the name of God, Guns and Liberty. I am sick to death of these bigots.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cowboy LaMalfa, Food Stamps, Harriet Tubman and the Americans with Disabilities Act...

Northeastern California is more like Wyoming than San Francisco. Visit any of these small towns and you will see pick up trucks with Obummer bumperstickers and drivers who are trying to be the Marlboro Man. They all worship the image of the Cowboy. Resilient. Tough. Strong. Individualism matters here in the Red part of California. Of course, I'm old enough to remember when being a Red was to inhabit the Left part of the political spectrum. Now Red means Republican. And we have plenty of those around here.
I had a guest column about our Cowboy Representative Doug LaMalfa in the Chico News and Review last week. The thing lost some of its zing in editing it down to 400 words from the original 700. It took away much of the flavor of the thing. I hope I got the point across that LaMalfa is an attention hog who doesn't shy away from saying something stupid.
And he certainly has said some stupid things lately. I don't mean to focus on the guy so much but daily he gives me the strangest material. A couple of weeks ago, he was quoted as stating that it isn't government's responsibility to feed the poor. And he quotes the Bible when he states this. He believes that personal charity should be relied upon to take care of the poor. I guess he ignores the part of the Constitution, in the preamble, that says government should "promote the general welfare".
Watching C-Span yesterday, LaMalfa was criticized by one of his colleagues for voting against Food Stamps while he made sure that the type of rice he grows gets the biggest welfare payments in the form of subsidies. When it comes to taking handouts, LaMalfa is number one in Butte County, having received about 5.1 million dollars over the last two decades.
Then there is this story where LaMalfa thinks that a park to commemorate Harriet Tubman is much too big. He states this despite the fact that the people who run Tubman's estate already have the facility at 6,700 acres. I guess Doug believes in small parks in addition to small government.
And today Doug LaMalfa was in Chico where he was meeting with a group that is trying to take the teeth out of the Americans with Disabilities Act. LaMalfa was going to be there with Jim Nielsen, who went so far as to state that California's slow growth can be blamed on frivolous law suits enabled by the Americans with Disabilities Act. That's our boy. Taking millions of dollars in subsidies while he complains about Government programs that feed the poor and create access for the Disabled.
Addendum: I alerted my friends, Karen Duncanwood and Forest Harlan, a local Disability Advocate in town, regarding this event. They showed up en masse and changed the tone of the meeting. Here's a somewhat slanted TV story on the event. And here is a better print version in the Chico ER.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seeger's Influence

Pete Seeger's wife, Toshi, died a couple of days ago. Pete and Toshi were married just a few days short of 70 years. A long life lived well.

I owe a bit of where and how I live to Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. I had an album of a live concert they did together years ago. On that album there was a description of how they lived. It made a reference to Pete Seeger going to Arlo's house (or maybe it was vice versa) where they would help each other put up wood for the winter. They both lived simple, rural lives. They'd go and tour when they needed a bit of money or when they needed to make some issue heard. I actually saw them back in the early 80's, in a cold November, and Arlo performed Alice's Restaurant, the whole thing, because it was close to Thanksgiving.

The simplicity of their lives expressed on that album cover appealed to me. I liked the idea of having a rural house. Chopping wood. Working to live rather than living to work.

And so I have that lifestyle now. Rural. Off grid. I work part time (but currently I'm on Disability, not having worked for two months because of a workplace injury). Joni and I live simply. And we are happy having a long term project, this homestead, to entertain and frustrate us for years to come.

I have Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie to thank for planting that idea in my head.