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Horse-pucky


Investor’s Business Daily says I live in Zimbabwe:

Yet far from being a paradise, Fresno is starting to resemble Zimbabwe or 1930s Ukraine, a victim of a famine machine that is entirely man-made, not by red communists this time, but by greens.

State and federal officials, driven by the agenda of environmental extremists, have made it extremely difficult for the valley’s farms, introducing costly environmental regulations and cutting off critical water supplies to save the Delta smelt, a bait fish. It’s all driving the economy to collapse.

In the southwest part of the Central Valley, water allotments as low as 10% of normal have created a visible dust bowl. The knock-on effect can be seen in cities like Fresno, where November’s unemployment among the packers, cannery workers and professional fields that make agriculture productive stands at 16.9%.

Other Central Valley cities such as Hanford-Corcoran, Merced, Modesto, Stockton and Visalia-Porterville have similar jobless numbers, the highest in the country. The Wal-Mart Foundation notes that “24.1% of families in this community (Fresno) cannot afford regular meals compared to a national average of 9.2%.”

I live in Merced, one hour north of Fresno. The city and county of Merced get their names from the Merced River. That river was originally named El Rio De La Nuestra Senora De La Merced (The River of Our Lady of Mercy) by some Spanish explorers who were dying of thirst until they found the stream of agua fria that originates from Yosemite.

The climate around here is called “semi-arid.” We get plenty of precipitation, the problem is 90%+ comes between November and March. Some drops on our heads and the rest ends up as snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas.

Back in the old days the Central Valley was an impassable swamp during the Winter and Spring and a dusty desert in the Summer and Fall. Then dams and irrigation canals were installed.

We have great soil for growing stuff and good weather too. With hydroengineering we became an agricultural powerhouse. Like most agricultural areas that never translated to a high standard of living but we did okay.

Lately things haven’t been quite so rosy, but the reason isn’t the Delta Smelt. We have two main problems. The first is human population, here and down south. Too much of our water is wasted creating green oasis with manicured lawns, flower gardens and swimming pools, here and in Los Angeles.

But the biggest problem is persistent drought. When I was a kid we had an occasional dry year between the normal wet years. Letely we get an occasional wet year in between dry years. The general consensus is the cause of this increasingly arid climate is a thing called “global warming.”

I’d say the environmentalists have won this round.

BTW – Investor’s Business Daily should have thought twice about running this story when Sierra snowpack is 200% of average and we’re dealing with flooding. It might have given them a little more credibility.


Delta Mendota Canal


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Immoral Open Thread


When asked if he wanted water in his whiskey, Fields replied, “I don’t drink water. Fish fuck in it.

What are your bad habits?


More Assange


Nick Davies of The Guardian:

Jagger also insists that she has a right to know who leaked the file to the Guardian and says that the leak was part of “an obvious effort to conduct a smear campaign” against Assange. Setting aside for a moment the head-splitting hypocrisy that a supporter of WikiLeaks wants to hunt down the source of a leak, there are two similar problems with this claim. First, Jagger has no idea who leaked that file (and made no attempt to find out). Second, if she did know, she would discover that the source had no intention of smearing Assange in any way.

I am not going to serve up that source’s identity to satisfy Jagger’s temper. A police file like that gets widely distributed. It happened to make its way quite legitimately into the hands of somebody I have come across in the past. This person has absolutely no connection with the Swedish prosecutor or the Swedish police or any other individual or organization with any kind of antipathy to Assange. The source passed it on, and I got it translated.

Assange’s UK lawyer tried very hard to persuade us to suppress the file. He argued that since Assange had been a source for our stories, we should ‘protect’ him. I reckon that that is an invitation to journalistic corruption, to hide information in order to curry favor with a source. We were right to publish.

Jagger calls this ‘trial by media’. I call it an attempt to inject some evidence into a global debate which has been fueled by speculation and misinformation. On August 21, when this story first broke, Assange used Twitter to spread the idea that the two women who had gone to the police were engaged in ‘dirty tricks’. His lawyer subsequently claimed that a ‘honeytrap’ had been sprung. Assange’s celebrity supporters have announced to the mass media that the allegations are ‘without foundation’, that ‘there is no prima facie evidence’. These statements have gone around the world. Millions of well-meaning people have been persuaded to believe them. The two women, who have been identified on the Internet, have had their reputations ruined by the claim that they cruelly colluded to destroy an innocent man. The Swedish police and prosecutors have been held up to ridicule as corrupt and/or incompetent partners in the plot.

Some people got their knickers twisted last week over alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Turns out there was none.

Yes, I am smirking.

Raw Story:

Middle Eastern leaders who’ve become friendly with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could face severe retribution from their local populations if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is killed or jailed for a lengthy amount of time.

That’s because, in a recent interview with Arabic news network Al Jazeera, Assange allegedly warned that he had a document which reveals the identities of officials who voluntarily cultivated relationships with the CIA.

“These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” he reportedly told the network.

“If I am killed or detained for a long time, there are 2,000 websites ready to publish the remaining files,” Assange was quoted as having said. “We have protected these websites through very safe passwords.”

Of course nobody has tried to kill him yet, and the only charges against him are the ones in Sweden, but any minute now . . .

Bill Weinberg:

The most blatantly irritating thing is abject demonization of the women who have made the charges of sexual abuse against Assange. In any other context, the summary dismissal of a woman’s rape accusations would be seen as utterly politically incorrect. But Assange gets away with anti-feminist rhetoric that would do Rush Limbaugh proud. In an interview now receiving widespread coverage in the British press (e.g. The Telegraph, Dec. 26), Assange says: “Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism… I fell into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism.” Assange added that one of the women who said she was assaulted took a “trophy photo” of him lying naked in her bed.

Excuse me while I get out the brain bleach.


Thursday, Shake, rattle and roll

It might be hard for modern generations to believe it but, there was a time when Presidents didn’t complain about the hard work of being President of the United States. (que sappy music) There was a time when we all got a little excited by the possibilities of new challenges. And few things represent those thrills like the “Rosie the Riveter” poster. The look of tough determination on Rosie’s face has inspired generations of Americans to meet challenges they never expected.

Geraldine Doyle, 86, dies; one-time factory worker inspired Rosie the Riveter and ‘We Can Do It!’ poster

Geraldine Doyle, 86, who as a 17-year-old factory worker became the inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female power and independence under the slogan “We Can Do It!,” died Dec. 26 at a hospice in Lansing, Mich.

. . .

Rosie’s rolled-up sleeves and flexed right arm came to represent the newfound strength of the 18 million women who worked during the war and later made her a figure of the feminist movement.

But the woman in the patriotic poster was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory, her family said.

An amazingly in depth story — Geraldine only worked at that plant for 2 weeks. She was a cellist and after finding out that a co-worker’s hands were badly injured in an accident she found another job in a soda fountain/bookstore. And it never occurred to her that she was the model for the poster until she read an article about its history in 1984.


What do you do with a Congressman, when he stops being your Congressman?

Kucinich worries his district will be eliminated

In an e-mail to supporters Wednesday, the seven-term Democratic congressman and two-time presidential candidate says the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature is likely to eliminate his heavily Democratic Cleveland-area district.

But Kucinich says he’s not just going to stand by while that happens.

“I will not wait until a new Ohio map is produced to begin this crucial discussion of the consequences of congressional redistricting,” writes Kucinich. “I will not wait until the Ohio Legislature produces a new map to start thinking of the options. The question will not be: Who is my opponent? The question will be: Where is my district? Seriously.”

Kucinich has let us down too many times for me to think it’s the worst thing in the world for him to lose his seat. But (in spite of that foolish decision to get on Air Force One that fateful day), he’s pretty to close to being all we’ve got.


Crap! Who would have guessed this?

Delaying Sex Makes Better Relationships, Study Finds

Delaying sex makes for a more satisfying and stable relationship later on, new research finds.

Couples who had sex the earliest — such as after the first date or within the first month of dating — had the worst relationship outcomes.

. . .

“Curiously, almost 40 percent of couples are essentially sexual within the first or second time they go out, but we suspect that if you asked these same couples at this early stage of their relationship – ‘Do you trust this person to watch your pet for a weekend many could not answer this in the affirmative’ – meaning they are more comfortable letting people into their bodies than they are with them watching their cat,” Busby said.


Did you feel something this morning?

4.2 magnitude earthquake hits north central Indiana

Gabrielle Sauce, who co-owns an advertising/marketing company agency in Noblesville, said she was working while sitting on her couch when “the house began to rattle and shake. It lasted probably 5 to 7 seconds.”

>> Fritz Wurster, 12, was asleep in the upper berth of a bunk bed when the ladder began shaking. “I thought my friend was jumping on it trying to wake me up, but then I realized I didn’t have a friend over,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I fell back asleep, and about 10 minutes later my sister rushed into my room and said, ‘Did you feel that earthquake?'”


Life is so complicated — now we’ve got to worry about taking the wrong lunch box to school:

Lunchbox mix-up leads to charges for Sanford teen

An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.

Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.

Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.

“She got pulled into it. She doesn’t have to be a bad person to be searched,” Smithwick’s father, Joe Smithwick, said.

The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.

“It’s just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple,” he said.

Ashley Smithwick said she had never gotten in trouble before and was surprised when the principal opened her lunchbox and found the knife.

The teen was initially given a 10-day suspension, then received notice that she was suspended the rest of the school year.


I can just see myself asking a surgeon if he’s had a nap:

Researchers urge doctors to disclose sleep fatigue before surgery

Medical institutions should put into place policies to minimize the likelihood of a sleep-deprived doctor performing elective surgery, researchers said Wednesday in an editorial.

Absent such policies, sleep-deprived doctors should — at a minimum — tell their patients about their sleep status prior to performing any elective surgery, and offer those patients the opportunity to postpone the procedure or select a different surgeon, said the editorial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Examples of the dangerous effects of sleep deprivation are not tough to find.

“Once, when I was a med student, assisting in a complicated abdominal surgery case by holding a retractor, the student opposite me (that is, holding the other side of the patient open) fell asleep and slid down to the floor,” said one doctor, who did not want to be identified because he did not want to embarrass his colleague. He noted that he and the other student had both been up all night the night before. “One of the nurses simply dragged the student out of the way and a resident who was scrubbed in took over holding the retractor. No harm to the patient at all, but it was odd.”

“Odd.” That’s the least of it.


That’s it around here — what’s new in your neighborhood?

Thursday: overslept


You may have to jump

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Just sayin’.  You can discover more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer at this Speaking of Faith podcast.

Right to Lifer gunman kills two at Boston abortion clinics.  Time to take matters into your own hands, ladies and get government out of your uterus.  Go underground.

Tennessee Guerilla Women posted this movie trailer the other day about what women face in this country.  Funny how you tend to get used to this crap.

500 years, eh?  Well. *that* sucks.  What we need is a woman starting her OWN network, delivering the news in a gender neutral fashion, you know someone like Oprah.

Oh wait, she was the one who gave us Obama.  Nevermind.

The New York Times reports that the nomination of the next Republican candidate for president may be out of the party’s hands.  Yeah, and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn.  Are you kidding me?  Republicans are the ultimate control freaks.  I take that back.  The 2008 DEMOCRATS were the ultimate control freaks.  If Hillary had been running in the Republican primaries in 2008, she would have had the whole thing sewn up on superdupertuesday and Obama would have spent the next four years in the Senatorial obscurity he was showing such a talent for.

Tom Watson has a review of the book “You Are Not a Gadget” by Jaron Lanier.  Watson argues that Lanier’s point is that social networking technology has the capacity to dehumanize us and makes us vulnerable to those who seek power.  I would argue that that has already happened (see quote at top of page).  Here’s the money quote from Watson’s review:

Lanier’s point is that by reducing personality and the wide sweep of human thought into chunks that can fit easily into databases and digested through clever widely-popular front end designs, the possibility for horrific “crowd-sourced” activity is that much greater. To put it simply, the good guys don’t always win. Throughout history, they’ve often been shouted down by crowds. While it’s impossible to argue with the sunny opening lines of the introduction to Yochai Benkler’s seminal Internet text The Wealth of Networks – “Information, knowledge and culture are central to human freedom and human development” – and to sympathize with a point of view that argues that great access to those qualities improves the lot of mankind, Lanier’s warnings also seem in tune with the times.

It’s not crazy to worry that, with millions of people connected through a medium that sometimes brings out their worst tendencies, massive, fascist-style mobs could rise up suddenly. I worry about the next generation of young people around the world growing up with internet-based technology that emphasizes crowd aggregation, as is the current fad. Will they be more likely to succumb to pack dynamics when they come of age?

That kind of thinking flies in the face of a more utopian view of free information, embodied in hacker philosopher Richard Stallman’s famous ’90s proclamation that when “information is generally useful, redistributing it makes humanity wealthier no matter who is distributing and no matter who is receiving.” I’d naturally ask “what does generally useful mean?” and Lanier goes a step further, noting that the free flow of information also brings large-scale vitriol to arguments between semi-anonymous actors on the Net. “What’s to prevent the acrimony from scaling up? Unfortunately, history tells us that collectivist ideas can mushroom into large-scale social disasters.”

My question is how do we alert the general public to let the Tweeter beware?

Mecca is becoming the Las Vegas of Saudi Arabia.  High on tacky kitsch, low on fun?  There won’t be any commercials with the tag line, “What happens on Hajj, stays in Mecca”.

E. J. Dionne is running down the corridor as he tries to rehabilitate Obama in Rekindling Hope in Liberalism.  He uses the standard whiny reason:

For the president’s loyalists, of course, this indictment is profoundly unfair. He inherited a mess at home and abroad. The economic downturn began on Bush’s watch, but its bitter fruits were harvested after Obama took office. By contrast, Franklin Roosevelt took power after Herbert Hoover had presided over three of the most miserable years in American economic history. Blame was firmly fixed on Hoover by the time FDR showed up with his jaunty smile and contagious optimism.

And, yes, there is the small issue of Obama’s real achievements, the health care law above all. If insuring 32 million more Americans is not an enormous social reform, then nothing can be said to count as change. The now well-rehearsed list of additional accomplishments — from Wall Street and student loan reform to the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to the simple fact that the economy’s catastrophic slide was halted and reversed — would, in the abstract, do any administration proud.

I would have written that first line of the second paragraph as “And, yes, there is the real issue of Obama’s small achievements…” E. J. is still clinging to the idea that no one could have known how bad it was going to be so it was perfectly reasonable to nominate the candidate with the least practical experience in our lifetimes to become president.  I simply can’t take this reasoning seriously when the poor performance was avoidable.  But the E.J. goes one better and has the nerve to lecture *us*:

And both the liberals and Obama need to escape the bubbles of legislative and narrowly ideological politics and re-engage the country on what can only be called a spiritual level. Modern American liberalism is not some abstract and alien creed. At its best, it marries a practical, get-things-done approach to government with a devotion to fairness, justice and compassion. These sentiments are grounded in the nation’s religious traditions and also in our commitment to community-building that Alexis de Tocqueville so appreciated.

Stop laughing.  Yes, he really said this.  E.J. needs to get out of his own bubble.  The “achievements” aren’t.  By practical standards, the health care reform bill was a bomb.  The mandate was an outrage in the absence of competition.  If you have stagnant wages and fear that you’re going to lose your job, the last thing you need is yet another expense you can’t afford that doesn’t result in something better than you already had.  The TARP bills rescued the banks and left everyone else hold the bag.  The stimulus bill was too small.  HAMP is almost criminal.

I don’t know who the hell E.J. has been talking to but from a practical, non-abstract, working class POV, this president has been an abject failure.  You don’t have to be a liberal to realize that but liberals have every reason to have expected better than this.  I don’t believe in the self-esteem movement where everyone gets a gold star for trying.  I believe you have no right to think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread until you’ve proven yourself. Republicans aren’t becoming suddenly sexy again because regular Americans are crazy about conservatism .  There are two reasons why Republicans are winning: 1.) Americans don’t buy the boosterism of the current administration.  No one believes in Recovery Summer or Recovery Fall or Recovery Winter or whatever nonsense they’re spouting this week.  They’re believing their lying eyes. and 2.) When your base stays home in disgust, that leaves the  Fox News viewers who have been emotionalized by Glenn Beck and abortion as the motivated voters who actually go to the polls.

You can’t reason the Democrats’ failures away by blaming the voters’ perceptions, E.J.  What the Democrats need to do if they want to recapture the public is to start acting more like Democrats.  Ooops!  Too late, they’ve lost the House and they’re preemptively capitulating before the Republicans even officially take over.  Don’t think the public doesn’t notice.

What the public *might* notice is Ed Rendell. Yeah, I think the idea of football being played in a blizzard is sort of stupid too.  But this is Philadelphia.  It’s not a city of wusses.  And Ed Rendell may be the rough and tough, unibrowed Democrat the party needs to man up.  BTW, that’s just a figure of speech.  Apparently, Ed Rendell plucks his brows.  And this is not an endorsement.  It’s just an idle speculation.

But I do take issue with some of this articles’ points.  For example, Ed probably did say  “that his state was full of “conservative whites” who were “probably not ready to vote for an African- American candidate.”  This is true.  There are a lot of areas in the middle of the state that fly confederate flags on their porches.  HOWEVER, those porches belong to Republicans.  How do I know that?  I talked to the canvassers who visited those areas.  They had the party affiliation sheets with the addresses.  The Democrats that I spoke to while phone banking in Harrisburg were of the opinion that they wanted an experienced person in the White House.  They were hurt that people were calling them bigots and they said they were willing to vote for Obama some time down the road.  So, Ed really needs to be clear about who his constituents are and what they are thinking.

Things to keep your eye on:  Senator Bernie Sanders, of filibernie fame, will be on Thom Hartmann’s show today to discuss the year in review.  The schedule thingy looks a little chaotic to me so check back periodically for the stream.

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest


Teh Dumb:

Frequent use of the phrases “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” by our mainstream media is being questioned in order to remain faithful to the principles of our U.S. Constitution.

SPJ’s Diversity Committee met during the 2010 convention in Las Vegas and decided to engage in a yearlong educational campaign designed to inform and sensitize journalists as to the best language to use when writing and reporting on undocumented immigrants.

Some believe the phrase illegal alien originated with fiery, anti-immigrant groups along the U.S.-Mexico border, such as the Minutemen. Gradually, the phrase — along with illegal immigrant — seeped into common usage. It is now even used by some network TV newscasters.

Yet it remains offensive to many Latinos, and especially Mexicans, and to the fundamentals of American jurisprudence.

However, there are some national publications, including The Nation, that regularly use the preferred phrase: undocumented immigrant.


This is political correctness run amok.

I’m not opposed to immigration. I want to see our current immigration policy reformed, and some kind of amnesty program that includes citizenship.

But the fact is there are immigrant aliens who came here illegally. Terms like “wetback” or “mojado” are offensive. “Illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” are accurate descriptive terms.

They are not illegal because they don’t have documents. They don’t have documents because they are here illegally.

The term illegal alien is way older than the Minutemen. “Some believe” the moon is made of green cheese, but that doesn’t make it true.

Megyn Kelly at FOX News brings Teh Dumber:

“You could say that a burglar is an unauthorized visitor. You know, you could say that a rapist is a non-consensual sex partner which, obviously, would be considered offensive to the victims of those crimes,” Kelly said. “So how far could you take this?”


I’m okay with the burglar comparison but she should have known that the rape analogy would trigger a bunch of justified complaints.

TPM is Teh Dumbest (and dishonest):

Megyn Kelly: Calling Them Undocumented Immigrants Is Like Calling Rape “Sex”

That is not what Megyn Kelly said. What is so fucking hard about being honest?


Tone deaf


Last month:

Police arrested and pepper-sprayed University of California students during a violent protest Wednesday over a proposed tuition increase that left four officers injured.

Thirteen people, including 10 UC students, were taken into custody during the demonstration at UC San Francisco, where the Board of Regents was meeting, said campus police Chief Pamela Roskowski.


Tuitions and fees at Universities of California, California State Universities and local community colleges have been going up, up, up every year for over twenty years:

For UC schools, the 8 percent increase would be added to the 32 percent fee increase from earlier this year, changing tuition from an annual amount of approximately $7000, to over $11,000 for the 2010-11 academic year.


It’s a lot worse if you are not a California resident.

This month:

Highest-paid UC execs demand millions in benefits

Three dozen of the University of California’s highest-paid executives are threatening to sue unless UC agrees to spend tens of millions of dollars to dramatically increase retirement benefits for employees earning more than $245,000.

[…]

Their demand comes as UC is trying to eliminate a vast, $21.6 billion unfunded pension obligation by reducing benefits for future employees, raising the retirement age, requiring employees to pay more into UC’s pension fund and boosting tuition.

The fatter executive retirement benefits the employees are seeking would add $5.5 million a year to the pension liability, UC has estimated, plus $51 million more to make the changes retroactive to 2007, as the executives are demanding.

[…]

They want UC to calculate retirement benefits as a percentage of their entire salaries, instead of the federally instituted limit of $245,000. The difference would be significant for the more than 200 UC employees who currently earn more than $245,000.

Under UC’s formula, which calculates retirement benefits on only the first $245,000 of pay, an employee earning $400,000 a year who retires after 30 years would get a $183,750 annual pension.

Lift the cap, and the pension rises to $300,000.


These greedy assholes aren’t even teachers – they’re administrators.