Letters to the Editor 7/22/2009
by Letters to the Editor, July 22, 2009
SONOMA V. SALMON
The water on the brain issue —
Once again the Teflon coated Sonoma County Water Agency is up to its usual deceptions and is gleefully exploiting the relative innocence of youth to promote its very questionable agenda. This one involves a “summer youth ecology program” to clear its “overgrown” creeks and banks of unwanted “non-native trees and bushes” such as nettles and willow trees — which are native. The Sonoma County Water Agency then greenwashes this effort as “helpful to the environment.”
I can't see how in any real, possible way sending a handful of young people to decimate and denude creekbanks on some of our hottest summer days could be considered “helpful or beneficial” in any way to the dwindling salmonid population which rely on shaded, cool water to survive.
What this effort is really about is flood control! What the Sonoma County Water Agency and/or the city of Santa Rosa greatly fears — much more than it values salmon — is being sued or harassed by irate property owners who may experience “flood events.” Basically, because they built their abodes or businesses on the banks of an increasingly fragile and highly impacted watercourse.
The environment of course bats last while the Water Agency greenwashes its destructive creek “management” policies to polish its image via the overly domesticated Santa Rosa Press Democrat and its soft, easily deceived suburbanite subscription pool. Cutting down willow trees, poplars and nettle beds, and stirring up large loads of sediment while denuding the creekbanks can not be favorable in the least for salmonid fry or other native fish species dependent on shaded banks and cool water for their survival.
Certainly it is a bad enough situation that most of Sonoma County’s suburban area creeks and reparian areas have long been impacted by the careless introduction of countless (it seems) introduced non-native plant species which as far as my experience goes are virtually impossible to completely eradicate.
I can't think of a single introduced species — and there are many — in this state of California that any agency — federal, state, county, or grassroots local organization — has dealt with successfully, i.e., complete eradication. Yet countless millions have been spent.
A much bigger problem, fishwise, is the seemingly endless piles of refuse, offal, and garbage dumped into these neighborhood or “domestic” waterways. Woe to the creeks ambling through high-density population areas such as Santa Rosa Creek and its tributaries which are often lined by homes and businesses! They sadly become aquatic garbage dumpsites where it appears that a fair amount of property owners or neighborhood residents feel that they have been given the privilege or entitlement to freely throw every type of Shiite imaginable over their fences and into the creeks. Dog poop is the most common offending item flung enthusiastically over backyard fences with a hearty shovel fling. Who wants that stuff in their backyard?
Next seems to be plastic bags of every type, both the smaller white “carry home” grocery bags and the larger black plastic trash bags which are all too common festoonery on the creekside trees and bushes, especially evident after high winter water flows.
Next in line of creek-cloggers is the abandoned shopping carts, ubiquitous and all too common a site, sometimes found many blocks distant from any bridge, trail or shopping center. It's like they were transported by some mysterious and powerful teleportation device.
Next most popular items: bike frames and parts, car tires and mufflers, car batteries, mattresses, clothing, sleeping bags (from homeless encampments, often), sheet plastic, diapers (both full and empty), discarded cans of motor oil and partially empty cans of insecticide, pesticide, spray paint, etc. Add the occasional full bag of household trash. Then mix liberally with low water flows and excessively high water temperatures and lush nitrogen-fueled algae blooms from the waste, lawn and garden fertilizer, runoff from golf courses, parks and farms, etc. and one may get the picture of what is really curtailing salmonid and survival in suburban Sonoma County.
There are concerned citizens trying to make honest and helpful attempts at yearly creek and riparian cleanup sessions. I certainly commend their efforts. Yet I am still amazed at the sheer quantity and variety of noxious crap hauled out of these increasingly impacted waterways by these concerned folk.
But, predictably, within a week or a month later — and I've personally witnessed this all over Sonoma County — the crap is back in full force and it seems apparent that one would need a full-time crew of dozens of workers with at least once every two weeks creek sweeps of the filthiest crap. You’d also need a small landfill to hold the “collection,” and a toxic waste processing-elimination plant to deal with the real nasty stuff to actually do the job correctly.
Of course there is no money for that. That's a pipe dream, indeed. But there’s just enough funds for lavish soccer fields, fancy-dancy exclusive retirement complexes for the moneyed classes, and nice, fat salaries/paychecks for the upper levels of the Sonoma County Water Agency heads.
I find it a cynical public image stunt on their part to disguise their flood control denuding of salmon-bearing creeks and their banks as some asset to the environment and an ecologically sound practice. They use the easy idealism of young people to do so which is especially cunning.
I include some recent news clippings from the Press Democrat, a weeble-wobble paper with no spine.
One Press Democrat news reporter pats Sonoma County on its back for being so water thrifty — “We're all in this together and we're doing fine!” — on one day. Then three days later that is followed by a swing to the direct opposite: “Sonoma County is water-challenged and we are running out soon.”
Did this latest heat wave affect some Press Democrat reporter’s brains? News at 11!
John ‘Puzzle Brain’ Shultz
MORE STRUM UND DRANG
Another year of storm on the wrong goes by, documented by your fine publication and I am still reading it. Things could not be as bad as they seem if it is still possible to put them in print. So I suggest we join with Jurgen and put in a good word for things as they are. Coach Toshi will do as e.g. it does and idiots will "look into it" when they want, but in the end it remains entertaining.
Let all the process.
Port Townsend, WA (formerly San Narcisco)
WEED WAGONS: DON’T TAILGATE
To The Editor,
This is to all you idiots who plague our roads with your presense. I will try to keep this short and to the point so your attention spans can keep up with it.
Just because the lift kit on your truck puts the vehicle elevation well above your IQ level does not mean it puts you or your truck above the law. Sorry to break it to you but 35 inch tires or not, you are still required to obey speed limits, stay in the appropriate lane, turn on your headlights in the dark, not cross the double yellow to pass someone and stay several car lengths behind the person in front of you.
Bottom line: slow down and stop tailgating. What is the big rush? It's not like you have a job to get to. Your plants can make it five more minutes without water. I do not drive slowly. I drive at the speed limit and usually about 3-5mph above it. It seems however, that it's simply not fast enough for you and your weed-wagon.
Sorry to profile but it is only a problem with lift trucks. It's totally fine if you have to compensate for something, guys. But like I said, your lift kit does not put you above the law.
I have four I-beam floodlights pointing backwards on my truck, ready to blind tailgaters. I also assure you that the two feet of hardened steel railroad equipment on either end of my truck is going to hold up far better than any grill guard or bull bar you have glued onto your vehicle. Want to drive right behind me? It's going to be a shame when I have to slam on the brakes and suddenly your Baja off-road lights are in your lap.
Please learn to drive. In the meantime I’ll see if I can get Toys-R-Us to stop issuing driver’s licenses. I look forward to reading about you in the DEA bust lists.
THE LAST HONEST MECHANIC
To the Editor,
This is the easiest way for me to reach all the wonderful folks and friends in Anderson Valley who have trusted me with the repair work on their cars and trucks for the last 20 years.
When I first went to work for Chevrolet in the early 1960s my foreman Alvin Hamm said, “Mike, when it stops being fun it’s time to quit.”
Actually, these tired old bones are making up my mind for me, along with the cost of insurance.
So at the end of July, 2009, I will be retiring. It’s hard to please everybody when you work with the public, but I gave it my best shot.
Once again, THANK YOU so much. You’re the best I’ve ever known.
Your conventional local attempt to deal with international gangster developer DDR seem downright puny to us West Texicanos.
We’ve successfully defeated DDR and others like them using unconventional “friendly persuasion” techniques.
Hiring a has-been martial arts ballerina like Jean-Claude Van Damme would be a disaster. He’s an actor, not a dispatcher.
I’m the real deal with a lengthy track record of victories. If your community is serious about stopping DDR, contact me.
Ask for “Sugar.” My rates are reasonable.
El Paso, Texas (via San Francisco)
ATTENTION COLONEL UMLAUT!
Ye Editor of Ye AVA,
I have always respected your correspondent Helen Jones, so I know she is an open-minded person who will receive the following not as criticism of any kind, but simply information that I think will interest her.
As a matter of fact, it appears to me that House Minority Leader John Boehner actually is pronouncing his name as it is spelled, if it is, as it seems, a German name.
In German, they use a little doohicky called an umlaut to indicate the pronunciation of vowels. An umlaut looks like a colon (I mean the punctuation mark) having a snooze, a horizontal colon, as it were, printed over the vowel.
In the case of “o,” an umlauted one is pronounced like a long “a” in English an unumlauted one is voiced as an English long “o.”
Is this important? Well, sometimes it can be crucial, changing the whole meaning of a string of letters.
For example, the word “shon” without an umlaut on the “o” is pronounced “shone” (as in “the sun shone all day”) and means “already.” With an umlauted “o,” it is pronounced “shane” (as in the classic western movie) and means “beautiful.”
So what has all this umlautism to do with Rep. Boehner? Until fairly recently typefaces in non-German-speaking languages rarely included umlauts among the characters. So various diphthongs (two letters voiced with one sound) were used to indicate umlauted vowels, e.g., an umlauted “o” appeared as “oe,” which came to be pronounced in an amazing variety of ways, as witness such a word as “Götterdämmerung,” or “Goetterdaemmerung.” (Given that “Gott” came through as “Gawd,” what can you expect?)
You know, Oh Mighty Editor, that this could be considered great lengths on a minor point. If you want to just e-mail the thing to Helen and save the space I understand.
WHO’S NEXT? WHO CARES?
The current twitter at KZYX is just another display of midget mud-wrestling.
Who cares? KZYX is like, totally irrelevant to 90% of Mendopians, most of whom don’t even know it exists.
The remaining KZYX staffers are like caged weasels ripping each other apart — reminiscent of the French Revolution’s reign of terror. Who’s next?
KZYX is alternative “Radio Gitmo” — audio waterboarding. It’s not a “community” radio station, never has been, never will be. The big donors have it locked in NPR Hell forever.
Those folks who are peeved that some of their tax dollars are used to partially support the station should join the enlightened Mendopians who live a tax-free lifestyle in the underground economy.
Willits, aka Skunktown
To the Editor:
Dave Smith and all the people who think big box stores are so bad because they send local money overseas are ignorant. Let me explain the cycle of selling widgets. Someone makes a widget, someone buys that widget at a lower price than they in turn sell it for. Someone else may consume that widget or resell it again. If you don’t make a profit you will not be able to buy or sell anymore widgets. It’s called capitalism and every store, local or international, does this, just the big boys do it better.
Also, every penny anyone ever spends anywhere gets filtered back to the government. Once you move a dollar around to ten people the money is gone. The government has taxed it all the way to nothing and then recycled it into bombs to provide the true fuel of our economy, the military industrial complex.
Speaking of the government, Dave Smith’s rhetoric sounds just like Bush and Cheney, trying to scare people into his ideology.
And please people, quit whining about marijuana. Agricultural exports are good. It brings in money from outside our county. What we should be doing is subsidizing local pot growers to undercut all the growers from outside our area, like we do with corn, milk, soybeans, etc. There is a lot to be learned from artificial trade imbalances.
Look around you. Downtown Ukiah is an armpit. It’s the same it’s been for 20 years. By keeping the population down, there is no growth in business. No business can survive if they can’t cover the cost of living increases.
Just because Dave Smith wants to be Amish doesn’t mean other people should follow him. I want to pay less for a better product. If that’s a local place then great. But I welcome some competition and you should too as it is why we aren’t all still living in mud huts. Oh wait. I guess some people still are.
On ESPN they are now running ads for the “sport” of cage fighting. It's a very fast growing niche in sports mass entertainment. The question is twofold: firstly, is this not just a manifestation in the popular culture of the militarism in the American culture? Secondly, are the people who enjoy watching two men violently hit, kick, punch, and brutalize each other just low-life's, or are they also sick in a very real psychological way? I fear that the answer to both is a big YES.
If it is, then we are in much bigger trouble than just the cage fighting being what it is. We are on the verge of having all that rage and vicarious violence in the ring turn into real violence against other people in the mass with whom those in the crowd feel antipathy. It is protofacism. It is easily manipulated. It is exactly what Sarah Palin hopes to marshal for political gain. People who enjoy watching cage fighting will enjoy watching dissidents and minorities get trampled on.
The “culture war” is real, and the gap is getting wider. If this war morphs into total disregard for law and order we will see upfront fascism in this country. Cage fighting is the symbolic aspect of that disregard, in that there are no real rules, and anything goes. It is behavior outside the norms, and be it sport or politics, it is a threat just as real, if not more so, than the religious terrorists, be they Christian or Muslim. After all, religion, sports, and politics all share the attribute of providing a power game within a highly structured, hierarchical institution. The object of which, in all three cases, is to destroy the opposition be it the devil, the opponent, or the opposition. Cage fighting shifts the chant from “kill the umpire” to kill the opponent. That is a major shift in the American psyche.
Far 'n Away Farm, Virginia
Tom Reier's letter of 7/8 opens the question of requiring expressions of mandatory patriotism in the Land of the Free. I believe that the national flag should be respected by all citizens, as it is the only symbol of unity in a continental nation that is riven with sectional, racial, and class conflict. But I do not believe that it should be worshipped or fetishized or that its physical destruction by foolish protestors should be banned by constitutional amendment. Persons who choose not to stand for observances such as the Pledge of Allegiance may be ignorant, lazy, ill, obsessed with political or historical grudges, non-believers in the culturally dominant diety, or all of the above, and it is their right to sit or stand as they will. I always stand out of respect for our flag during recitation of the Pledge or playing of the National Anthem. But since 9/11, for example, it has become customary at baseball games for the announcer to ask everyone to stand “to honor America” during the singing of “God Bless America.” I will stand if I feel like stretching, but resent the mind-control obligation to worship the National God, and “God Bless America” is not the National Anthem — yet. Frank Cieciorka drew a famous cartoon of how God might answer these prayers. Got any of those prints left for sale, Bruce?
It can take a certain amount of courage to ignore the sentiments of a crowd, especially when those sentiments are backed by threats of violence, as Mr. Reier suggests, Bill of Rights notwithstanding. All protestors are self-righteous, and when I hear self-described patriots shout at their opponents on the street that they suffered and died so that others could protest, I know this is true, but the subtext I hear is: You have freedom of speech, so shut up! You're free in America, so do what you're told!
A camo-ribbon on vehicles reads “Land of the Free, Because of the Brave,” and this is undeniable. Military veterans must be honored and respected for their service to the nation. This honor and respect must be substantive, not just a veneer of uniforms and medals and bands and parades and wreath-laying and strident speeches by politicians. The reality of disrespect for veterans begins with the cynical manipulation by the ruling class of that natural patriotism of a small minority to put themselves in harm's way for sake of country. Fatuous political front men for the ruling class blithely send them off to suffer and die in sinister foreign invasions to advance hidden agendas, and what really happens when they return? What real honor and respect is given to those maimed in body and mind after they have been milked of political value and the cameras turn away?
When I go to Washington DC I always visit the Wall. But it would have to be a much larger Wall to accomodate the names of those who have killed themselves out of inability to free themselves of the nightmare they were sent to. It would have to be an even bigger Wall to carry the names of those poisoned and diseased, dead or dying of causes the government only most grudgingly has taken any responsibility for. And it would have to be an immense Wall, stories deeper into the ground, to list the names of the hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans still living in encampments of boxes.
This willful obliviousness is the true measure of the respect the ruling class has for those who die to preserve their privileges. Screaming at war protestors or flag-disrespecters is nothing more than a deliberately orchestrated diversion from the culpability of the real criminals.
Mr. Reier goes on to suggest that a “culture war” is coming to this country. Will he be specific about this? He speaks of “antis from southern countries.” Does he include the thousands of Latinos serving in the military today, including many willing to risk their lives in hopes of obtaining US citizenship?
Let's be clear: he is speaking about Latin American undocumented immigrants, here now in the tens of millions, in search of a better life than they can have in their native countries. We never hear a word about the million illegal immigrants from Ireland alone. Why? These people do work that most Anglo-Americans are unwilling to do, and I speak as someone whose business puts me in direct competition with them. I don't see any white Americans, particularly the loud, big and dumb skull and tat crowd, getting up at 4 in the morning in their rented dumps and driving illegal rustbuckets to spend the day toiling in the vineyards of the arrogant rich here in Swine Country.
Is it better for the rest of us to educate their children, in hopes of melting-pot assimilation, as has been done with every other group to come here, or should we automatically cast them into a future of dependence and criminality? So many of us are so willing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to kill people on the other side of the planet, and so willing to die in the process, but where is the sacrifice here at home where it really counts? All we hear in this regard is “Socialism!” and “No money!” and “Corporate profits first!”
When these immigrants and their children fail to behave like good citizens at a school graduation, perhaps it is because they know exactly how it feels to be denied citizenship, to be used only as casually exploitable agricultural machinery subject to arrest and deportation at will.
So I would suggest to Mr. Reier and everyone else that they turn their eyes from the flashing and thunderous apparitions of the ruling class and uncover the men behind the curtains and their real interests, and how they use us all as disposable tools.
DEMS KILL SINGLE-PAYER
Last week House Democrats unveiled their health care reform bill. Even if it passes, it is bound to fail.
Why? Because it keeps the insurance industry in the game. It will cost at least $1 trillion dollars over ten years. It won't cover tens of millions of Americans. It won't control costs. And it's a bailout for the insurance industry.
Only a single payer — everybody in, nobody out — national health insurance bill (co-sponsored by 85 members of the House — most recently by Congressman John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania)) will hit the grand slam — cover everyone, save money, control costs, and fix a broken health care system.
But what struck me yesterday while watching the Democrats was the depth of their deception.
There was Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Both heaping praise upon and honoring Congressman John Dingell (D-Michigan). And his father — John Dingell, Sr. John Dingell, Sr. represented Michigan's 15th district for 22 years until his death in 1955. John Dingell, Jr. has represented the district ever since. But not once during the press conference did anyone mention that it was John Dingell, Sr. who first introduced a single payer bill in Congress in 1943.
And it was Democratic leaders in Congress and President Barack Obama who took single payer off the table.
The Republicans will tell you straight up: we're for big business. Single payer is socialism. And that's why we're against single payer.
When the Democrats are out of power, they will tell you what you want to hear — we're for single payer. They then take power, and all of a sudden, they are against single payer.
Take Henry Waxman (D-California) as a case in point. For years, Henry Waxman was a co-sponsor of HR 676 — the single payer bill in the House. Until earlier this year, when he became part of the leadership in the House. Then Waxman took his name off the single payer bill.
In 2003, Barack Obama said he was for single payer. Obama said at the time that we would have single payer in America only when the Democrats took back the White House and Congress. Last year, Obama and the Democrats took back the White House and Congress. And now President Obama is opposed to single payer.
The reality is that there is only one solution to the health care crisis — get the insurance companies out of health care.
The Democrats are now engaged in what Dr. Marcia Angell — former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine — calls “the futility of piecemeal tinkering.” Angell and a majority of doctors in the United States — and a majority of the American people — believe that only a major single payer overhaul will get the job done.
That's why we're challenging the Democrats around the country. And we will continue to challenge them, and the health insurance industry to whom they are beholden, until single payer becomes a reality in America. We're in it for the long haul.
Thanks to your generosity, Single Payer Action has directly confronted Democratic leaders including: Congressman Henry Waxman (D-California), Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York), Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), White House Health Czar Nancy Ann DeParle, Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana).
And we're planning to ratchet up the confrontation when Congress heads home for the August recess. We have more than 20 single payer activists in our network now — and the list continues to grow. The idea is to build a national core group of activists who will challenge members of Congress in non-violent direct confrontation. To demand an answer — why are you ignoring the plight of the American people? And to demand action — put single payer on the table now.
We need your help now to fund and expand this network in time for next month's Congressional recess. So, please, donate now so that we can confront the corporate Democrats in August. Together, we can make the difference.
Onward to a life-saving, cost-saving single payer.
THE FUTURE OF UKIAH
To the Editor:
Once upon a time, a sleepy little town nestled in a beautiful agricultural valley woke up from a nightmare. In its horrid dream, the little town saw itself from above — shady, tree-lined streets, historic buildings, a quaint and busy downtown, a thriving art community, and caring people who didn’t always agree on things, but nevertheless worked together to keep the sleepy little town special and unique.
Then, still from above, it saw a stark glaring glob on the northeastern edge of town. What was once the town factory had been dismantled and a new “town” erected. It didn’t look like the sleepy little beautiful town — instead it looked like the new ugly edge towns that were springing up along the freeways in the huge metropolitan areas to the south. No character, nothing unique, dry, and bland. There were cars everywhere honking at each other. It was odd and out of place and made the sleepy beautiful little town feel uncomfortable and frightened. It made the sleepy little beautiful town all-of-a-sudden feel ugly, harried, and helpless.
As the dream became a nightmare, the sleepy little town’s health began to fail. Its heart – the downtown — lost its vigor and spunk, and began to wither away. As the ugly edge of town matured into a tumor, the beautiful little town lost its purpose and sense of itself. It became tired, depressed, and listless.
From above, the wilting sleepy little beautiful town could see the tumor spread and the agricultural valley lost its color, character and rural identity. The crops, trees, creeks, and open spaces gave way to the spreading ugly urban tumor. The sleepy little town and surrounding beautiful agricultural valley was choking and gasping for life. It became a place no one could recognize — a place without meaning — a place with no character, pride or personality.
That’s when the sleepy little town woke up and realized it was all a nightmare. The ugly edge of town urban tumor that had spread throughout the valley ruining everything in its path was just a horrible dream. The sleepy beautiful little town and surrounding agricultural valley were still healthy and vibrant, and still had their unique personality and character. The sleepy little beautiful town still had its heart.
Wake up Ukiah Valley — before it’s too late!
WHY TO FRY WI-FI
It is sort of a figurative eye for and eye. A Bad vibe for a bad vibe. WiFi or wireless technology is dangerous; definitely when done by amateurs. Wifi is not a friendly neighborhood addition; especially when most of us willingly took a vow of less pay to live here because we liked this environment with out this dangerous crap! The Oh-my-God-we-have-to-have-this-technology crowd needs to get a life and pay for the satellite feed. It is not acceptable and will create a form of civil disruption and fracture friendships in the valley. Taking it to the CSD is silly. It is not their responsibility and will make that important chamber a place of anger and disruption.
Maybe it is time to get informed instead of thinking the FCC and the government is doing its great job of protecting you when they are really just shielding the corporate money grab without any thought of ethics. Find out why some major scientists are very concerned at www.bioinitiative.org. Find out why in a 15 minute exposure to this stuff, anyone’s immunes system is running at high key, DNA is being disrupted, calcium adsorption is disrupted and many other big concerns.
There are many of us who do not frequent WiFi businesses because we know it is unsafe. We either don't have cell phones (I don't) or use them sparingly and carefully. We don't need HDTV because we get netflix or a satellite feed. I suppose I need to go to those WiFi places and tell them so they will know what the source of their business loss is. There is one block in Boonville I dash into and out of. If they got smart and ran wires with outlets in their cyber businesses they would probably get more local business which I think pays the bills in the cold months. Incidentally the source of the WiFi block knows of the danger. He cheerfully spreads his bad vibes around like some sort of gracious king. I don't go to the Ukiah library for that reason. I do go to the Boonville one because it is local but also because they have not implemented this dangerous technology. If you really have to have WiFi, do us all a favor and implement it in your own home for about ten years before considering applying it to your unwilling or unknowing neighbors. In that way the problem may be resolved locally in your home.
To those determined WiFry folks, it is bad enough that the FCC are willing to be bought out in the name of the dollar and disregard of safety, find out the truth and realize what you plan to subject to your friends and neighbors.
No WiFi in Anderson Valley. Don't push it. It will get ugly. There are ways to disrupt this stuff that are not obvious. There are so many things that cross our personal thresholds in our homes, like endocrine disrupting plastics, reproduction disrupting hormones in meat products, outgassing formalydehyde etc. Adding one that is already being disputed via “friends” and disrupting the sanctity of our homes, well — do you wonder why?