Friday, 19 July 2024

Opinion

In case you have not yet been informed there is no longer a Constitution or a Bill of Rights in this country.


Ask your banker. He or she will tell you that your ATM does not belong to you; it belongs to the bank. He or she will not state that there are any rights available to you that might conflict with those who run the country. That is: banks, corporations, members of Congress whose Web sites cannot be reached much of the time, aides to members of Congress, and their spawn.


The last one of those I talked to, in Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's Palo Alto office, could not or would not and certainly did not tell me anything that might lead me to think I actually still might have any rights under the Constitution and certainly not under that suspect Bill of Rights.


I worked for a very liberal newspaper for about eight years way back when there may have still been a Constitution. One of its reporters famously went out onto the Square in Madison, WI, where the state capitol is located and took along a copy of the Bill of Rights. He asked passersby to sign it. No one would. Most thought it might be a communist document or, at least, a communist plot.


That was at the height of Tailgunner Joe's tyranny, the time George Clooney so correctly depicted in "Good Night And Good Luck." That was at a time when your thoughts or your refusal to be a traitor to your friends by turning over their names, were the soup du jour.


Now there isn't even any soup. George the Lesser has pocketed the Constitution, or what little is left of it after congress failed in its care and feeding. The Bill of Rights, he stomped to death one minute after, maybe even before, he was anointed the Supreme Court's President in 2000. We don't elect presidents anymore; we anoint them. Or, maybe Jesus does.


After all, King George IV does have breakfast with him or the voice of Dick Cheney on the intercom and disguised as the Son of Man, to whom Shrub has long sworn allegiance.


Presidents, not to mention your own congressional representatives, used to take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States then maybe even try, at least, to do so.


They still take that oath as do credentialed teachers such as myself who have no choice in the matter. Some of us actually take that oath seriously. But, just try to act on it? Double dare you!


This president and his minions and they are legion has done everything that could be done to make the Constitution and the (what is this?) Bill of Rights disappear "Ala Peanut Butter Sandwiches!" just like on that commie plot to destroy all that is good about our beloved country, Sesame Street, which currently harbors a nasty little red furry subversive puppet with a high voice, ELMO.


ELMO, according to congressional neo-cons, is now the enemy, just as any of us who want to know if there is still a Constitution or maybe (and cross your fingers here) even a 10 point Bill of Rights is?


How dare we ask knowing how Elmo "hates our freedom."


I called my congresswoman's office recently to ask just that and no one, at least not her personal representative on the other end of the phone, could say anything in response to my questions about whether or not there still is a Constitution or a Bill of Rights and whether or not I could still call upon or even hope for their protections.


Silence. I got lots of silence. It was so loud I could hardly not hear it.


That Constitution's not for the little people, the ones who still pay taxes, as the unforgettable Leona Helmsley, once informed us all. We, the little people, are just supposed to roll, over, play dead or maybe get up and beg like Tony Blair, Bush's lapdog, does in the presence of his master.


Ask the same questions of your banker or at least the under assistant night vice president in charge of the day crew (I think) and you will be informed that all rights are the property of your bank. Your job is to get back in line and goosestep like the good German you ought to be.


The people who run your life at the retirement center you might live in will inform you that you are "insulting their intelligence" if you ask them the same. Then they will hang up on you.


Have the decency to at least act like one of the Lemmings!


I guess the only one who can address these questions now is the Decider. And we all know what he decided a long time ago.


He decided like Mel Brooks in "History of the World, Part One," that "it's good to be king."


But Mel Brooks was funny. The Attorney General of the United States. some of those Vietnamese displaced understudies to "Duck" Cheney, who work for our fearless leader, pick any bank vice president, director of housing in the "free" world or in the homeless underground of hopelessness- and you will not find them funny at all.


They ain't gonna take your side.


Lobbyists and Corporations, those entities Dianne Feinstein sneaked through a law for recently, a law that says it is a crime to do anything to harm a Great God Almighty They Are, At Least, Free At Last, omnipotent corporation!


And La Diane has her 18 million dollar new home, one meant to make room for her grandchildren. It's paid for by the blood of the people of Iraq the country her husband is rebuilding with all those fat contracts.


Wait a minute: Didn't we, or George the Great Argument for Birth Control, destroy it first?


Ghosts of "You're Doing A Great Job, Brownie," those same ghosts Cindy Sheehan told a San Francisco audience "don't exist" in 2005. Yet they still "make us afraid."


Don't try to wash that off your hands, Senator. It didn't work for Lady Macbeth and it won't work for you, either.


Corporations are, legally, individuals, and these individuals, who you may well have hated in high school, now run the world.


So send not to know for whom the bell tolls citizens?It tolls for them.


You can maybe take a number.


Gary Peterson lives in Belmont.


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The oil that we use as an additive in our food chain is just as carcinogenic as the oil which comes from the bowels of our planet Earth. That which has taken eons to transform vegetation into oil within the earth, Mankind has duplicated in an instant with its blenders and presses, though the outcome is basically the same. Once the molecular structure is destroyed , the oil extracted becomes a carcinogenic carrier.


Oil is the cause of every illness and disease that has plagued the human race. Since mankind first start using oil in our food chain, so began the running nose, and mankind’s susceptibility to illness and disease.


No other species on this planet suffers as the human race does from illness and disease. Yet, they eat the same foods we eat except one substance, which is oil, that we have refined from vegetation and added to just about every packaged food, our salads, and worst of all in our cooking of foods.


This process begins as we consume the oil and it begins to coat every cell, tissue and organ. As we consume more oil enriched foods, the very cells began to accumulate more oil thus suffocating the cell and prohibiting the cells from communicating with each other. This oil , becomes an insulator; thus preventing the cells from interacting with each other . Over time, t he organs become so saturated with oil, that the oil has now become rancid and cancerous and is beginning to deteriorate every cell and organ it attaches to. The body is unable to heal itself for all surrounding cells are just as isolated from the brain and unable to produce the very remedies to heal itself.


The very drugs that are being used to treat the illness are hampered by the very cells and tissues they are supposed to be helping because they become insoluble in the oil itself; thus preventing them from being effective. Stop your use of all oils and discover the "Fountain of Youth".


Jima Kuzu is a lifelong vegetarian who has read extensively on health and healing, and attended the World Vegetarian Congress annual meetings several times. Through a vegan diet, using lots of raw foods, he has been able to find good health. He lives in Kelseyville.


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It is rather ironic for the government to ask Americans to be united, when what it actually fears the most, as do all governments everywhere, is a united population ...


Of course this government has asked us to unite under, that is to say to submit to, its own agenda, not to unite among ourselves under a common sense, grassroots, well-informed approach to demand accountability and true representation, as would a free people.


In a climate of fear and institutionalized corruption and deception, when the public is defined in terms of consumerism and markets, and wars, political ideologies and propaganda are sold to the consumer via the corporate media and public relation firms as would any other product, it is surprising that the majority of Americans have not yet become angry from having their intelligence repeatedly insulted by this unethical, ruthless and terribly arrogant administration.

The neocons promised us a revolution, they promised that they would flush the government down the drain until there was hardly anything left, they were fiercely determined and had an agenda, and they rammed it down our throat while America slept (literally speaking, as they passed most of their
unwanted legislations in the wee hours of the night without debate, and in the case of the un-patriot act, without elected representatives being given an opportunity to even read 20 pages of a 500 pages document).

Theirs was not just a revolution but an actual coup, if we are to examine the presidential elections "controversy" (the truth is always controversial when lies predominate).

Whether the neocons merely exploited or actually facilitated 9/11 (could it really be a coincidence that NORAD was shut down on that very day, are we to appear to be this gullible in order not to offend those who desperately cling to believing in their government because the alternative would be too
devastating?), they swiftly and masterfully took advantage of this event.


First they essentially neutered the Democratic party by claiming that whoever was not with them was with the enemy, and some democrats even echoed the slogan ... Then they forced their agenda of total population control as far as they could with the un-patriot act, with the creation of vast new
bureaucracies of surveillance and with the development of new technologies of "total awareness" (12 new satellites coming soon in a sky near you).


They eviscerated the Constitution repeatedly, giving the president alone absolute powers over the life (torture and life imprisonment) of anyone whether in the US or on foreign soil, in blatant violation of the fourth amendment and of the Geneva Convention. They also gave the president the permanent power to implement martial law, to restore public order with the use of the military at any time and at his sole discretion.

They even had the unbelievable audacity to ask Americans to spy on each other, to do as was done in the former Soviet Union for decades, where even family members could not trust each other; this alone, I suspect, would have been enough to cause anyone suggesting it to be called un-American during the
cold war, except by McCarthy, another adversary of the Constitution.


Of course they also unleashed their terror on Iraq ("shock and awe"), a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11, and that they were itching to attack as far back as when Clinton was president and rejected their extremist agenda.

Are we to believe, giving the shrewdness and determination of these radical and dangerous ideologues, that they simply miscalculated the war and made mistakes in Iraq? Or did they simply make sure a durable mess, a serpent's nest was created in the Middle East, did they set up the conditions of international danger and permanent threats ("endless war") required to more easily continue implementing their imperialistic Anglo-American "Project for a New American Century," which includes a total military domination of the world by the US via the future deployment of illegal offensive space weapons (illegal because against international treaties), and a "National Security State" at home to suppress not only all dissent but simple questions, dialogue and the dissemination of relevant information?

So what does all this boil down to? It is difficult to cut to the chase without appearing to enounce just another conspiracy theory.


But looking at the fact, many people, (some, surprisingly, from totally different sides of the cultural and ideological spectrums, such as traditional indigenouspeople, anarchists and members of the John Birch society!), are starting to understand that we are moving very rapidly toward global corporate rule, towards the international control of not only all resources but all governments by corporate banking and corporate monopolies through such instruments of globalization as free trade, the IMF and the WTO.


And that this agenda is more likely than not to lead to a form of corporate fascism, to a lowering of all social, environmental and labor standards (it has began), to the progressive eradication of individual rights and freedoms and an ever greater control of populations and resources (it has began as well), to a state of hyper militarization, the use of corporate mercenaries and a blurring of civilian and military law enforcement (it has also been initiated), in other words to global and abominable tyranny.


Wake up, look around, smell the sulfur ...This is not business as usual, this is business as war and war as business, and these psychopaths are not playing, they are deadly serious!

I wish I could believe the Democrats have a different agenda, but understanding that the main players are controlled (financed) by the same corporate powers, it is unlikely that they would not follow a similar path of global and absolute corporate hegemony, differencing their policies just slightly enough to confuse people into believing we are living under democratic rules, that we the insignificant, easily manipulated and defeated people are actually represented.

Raphael Montoliu lives in Lakeport.


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I often wonder why the media, meaning primarily network television and most radio, doesn’t carry the important news. I mean stuff that really affects either our lives as we now live them, or us an individuals based on the lives we have thus had.


Here’s a great example of this hypothesis (which is a science term you’ll understand in a moment):


If you’re under 45, stop reading this now. It won’t make any sense to you. But if you’re like me, mid-50's something or perhaps older, and grew up anywhere that television reception was possible, you’ll know what I’m talking about.


On June 12, 2007, another icon of our youth was lost to eternity. His passing by itself doesn’t mean much, other than the end of a long and probably meaningful life. In the past 40 or more years, his name hasn’t appeared anywhere, but as a footnote to some other story about the golden age of television, or the current state of educational television and the decline of science education in America.


But if you’re of the right age, with memory intact, and understand basic principles like the displacement of a body in water, or what static electricity is and how it works, or why the filament in a light bulb glows to light our hours of darkness, you may want to thank one man: Mr. Wizard.


“Watch Mr. Wizard” was a television program in the infancy of the medium, originally broadcast from Chicago, then later from New York. It featured a very pleasant man in white shirt and tie, sleeves usually rolled up to show he was serious about his science. He did something rare in those early days, starting in 1951. He didn’t talk down to children, or adults. Oh and they watched too.


Before the thought gets lost in the nostalgia, here’s the main question: What was his name? We all knew he was Mr. Wizard, but to the world at large, he was Don Herbert. Mr. Wizard hit the airwaves and stood his ground for 14 years, on network television, and his show was even revived for a new generation much later. But he was personally responsible for the love of science by many young people, including me.


When he left network television, Mr. Wizard would appear on other shows from time to time, including “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night with David Letterman” among others. He won a Peabody Award for his television show, and later was seen on the cable channel Nickelodeon for a brief time.


What most people don’t know is that Mr. Wizard was an accomplished actor, and in private life, had been a bomber pilot , flying missions over Germany and Italy, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross.


Mr. Wizard knew that science and magic were the same things, but science could be explained. It was still magic by another name. He let his young audience share his awe of the majesty of its principles, and respect for its unbending rules. He explained the forces of the universe without resulting to a heavy hammer, but instead did so with an appreciation of the simplicity of its rules.


As I wrote once before, upon the passing of Bob Keeshan (“Captain Kangaroo”), we will miss Mr. Wizard. Not for who he was, but for what he left to us, and what he let us become.


Doug Rhoades is an attorney. He lives in Lakeport.


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The observance of Memorial Day day was born of compassion and empathy in 1863.


As the Civil War raged, grieving mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and other loved ones were cleaning Confederate soldiers' graves in Columbus, Miss., and placing flowers on them. The nearby Union soldiers' graves were dusty and overgrown with weeds.


Grieving for their own fallen soldiers, the Confederate women understood that the dead Union soldiers buried nearby were the cherished loved ones of families and communities far away. They cleared the tangled brush and mud from the Union graves as well as their own soldiers' graves and laid flowers on them also.

 

Soon the tradition of a “Decoration Day” for the graves of fallen soldiers spread. On May 5, 1866, when the Civil War was over, Henry Welles of Waterloo, New York, closed his drug store and suggested that all other shops in town also close up for a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War, Union and Confederate alike. It was a gesture of healing and reconciliation in a land ripped apart by conflict.

 

Sixteen years later, in 1882, the nation observed its first official Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who died in all our nation's wars.

 

For decades now, Memorial Day has been a day in our nation when stores closed and communities gathered together for a day of parades and other celebrations with a patriotic theme. Memorial Day means ceremonies at cemeteries around the country, speeches honoring those who gave their lives and service, the laying of wreaths, the playing of Taps.

 

These ceremonies continue to this day.


Today, we honor our fallen comrades and those who served our country in a time of conflict. On this day we honor the ideals and values all soldiers have given for their country and thank them from the bottom of our hearts for defending this country in its time of need.


Daniel J. Davi, BM2 Boatswain Mate, is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, which has taken part in this weekend's Memorial Day activities. The group visited veterans at care facilities this weekend, where Davi delivered a version of this history of Memorial Day, along with thanks to the veterans for their service.


{mos_sb_discuss: 4}

Image
Erosion associated with a road improperly constructed in connection with vineyard development. Photo by Robert Riggs.

 

On Tuesday, May 22, at 1:30 p.m. in the supervisors’ chambers in Lakeport, the Board of Supervisors will consider the adoption of a completely revised Grading Ordinance for the County of Lake. The document is 85 pages long. To the uninitiated, it is dry and intimidating. What is new, and what is important, in this revised proposed ordinance?


The genesis of the new Grading Ordinance was the high profile debacle of Snows Lake Vineyard. This carnage captured the Lake County public’s attention in the spring and summer of 2001, when more than 700 acres atop Perini Hill were bulldozed by a Central Valley-style agribusiness invader named George Myers without any form of grading permit or environmental review.


The entire hillside landscape, a sacred Pomo site, was devastated. Local wildlife was slaughtered. The waters of Siegler Creek literally ran red with eroding soil, after hundreds of acres of native oaks were toppled. Blue line streams were obliterated to the point that they could not be located, even with the aid of prior aerial photos and maps. Wells dug to irrigate the new construction sucked up and exhausted spring water supplies that had been used by neighboring residents for 100 years.


In subsequent court proceedings and Board of Supervisor hearings, it was revealed that the entire project had passed completely under the radar screen because it has been labeled as “exempt.” The county failed to apply any permit requirement because Myers told the Lake County Community Development Department that he simply planned to replant an old walnut orchard.


Myers seems to have been advised by CDD personnel that if he characterized the project as a walnut orchard conversion it would avoid any public scrutiny or environmental review. Because of this quasi-official imprimatur of prior approval, the county proved reluctant to crack down hard on Myers.


In the aftermath of the Snows Lake scandal, and with new vineyard clearings erupting seemingly everywhere during the grape boom of 2001-02, the supervisors took action by constituting a citizens advisory committee to tackle the issue of whether or not to rewrite the county’s grading ordinance.


The committee was hand-selected to include representatives of many different interest groups – representatives of agriculture, heavy construction, real estate brokers, environmental groups, citizen groups, and Native American tribes were all included.


Additionally, the committee benefited from the participation of numerous county planners and staff having experience dealing with grading projects and related issues. The committee was well aware from the start that similar efforts in neighboring Mendocino County had broken down into squabbling, and failed to reach any tangible result.


The committee’s initial confusion cleared when Peter Windrem, a Lake County native, real estate attorney, Sierra Club member and vineyard owner, took over as the committee chair. Windrem ruled the committee with a diplomatic but firm hand. He refused to tolerate any filibustering or divisiveness. Instead, he made the extra effort needed to build consensus at every possible turn. The fact that in the end, the committee actually produced a consensus document that is pending a hearing before the Supervisors is, more than anything, a testament to Windrem’s founding father-like skills.


Over a four year period, the committee reviewed the entire planning process as it relates to grading projects. Before doing any drafting, the committee worked through a whole series of real world situations, carefully combing through the process to consider as fully as possible how the ordinance should take effect, how it should work, and where it should back off to allow people to proceed unhindered by red tape. Staff were helpfully involved as well, pointing out their real world issues, difficulties and enforcement concerns.


In the end, the new ordinance was hammered out, section by section, and was approved by consensus of the entire committee, with minimal dissent. Although the ordinance is indeed lengthy, most of the text is devoted to definitions and procedures. The substance is relatively simple.


The goals of the new ordinance are actually two-fold. First, the ordinance seeks to prevent a repetition of a fiasco such as Snows Lake, where a huge earth moving project, causing a great deal of harm to the neighbors and the environment, passed totally under the radar screen of any prior review. At the same time, however, the new ordinance is intended to streamline the permit process for people who are doing small projects having no consequential effects on anyone.


To carry out these goals, the new ordinance divides all grading into three basic categories: “simple,” “standard” and “complex.”


Simple grading is small-scale work on flat land that does not involve watercourses. Simple grading is exempt from any form of environmental review.


Standard grading is grading that is substantial enough to warrant some consideration of the possible need for scrutiny of collateral environmental effects. The company or person doing the grading is required to submit a complete description of the project to the county, so that a planners can determine whether the project requires closer review. Notice is provided to the owners of neighboring properties, in case there are undisclosed problems with the project.


Complex grading, in general, applies to projects that involve major earth moving, or earth moving within watercourse areas. Complex grading requires full review of the environmental implications of the project. In most cases, it also requires stamped drawings from a licensed engineer.


What are the strengths of the new ordinance?


In this author’s opinion, the new ordinance is most beneficial because it reduces the availability of ambiguities and loopholes that can be exploited to allow big agriculture and big land developers to rape and pillage with impunity.


Every project requires basic information to be submitted. The absolute magnitude thresholds triggering complex grading, coupled with improved information submission requirements, go far toward preventing a future Snows Lake type situation from ever being characterized as “exempt” from any review.


The new ordinance now also explicitly takes into consideration the erosion hazard rating – derived from a combination of slope and soils type – involved in any particular project.


What are the new ordinance’s weaknesses?


”Exemptions,” meaning activities totally outside the scope of any review, still exist in Section 30-16 of the new ordinance.


The most troublesome of these is probably the “ongoing agriculture” issue. Such potentially large and erosion causing projects as “Agricultural Roads, Ponds and Reservoirs” are deemed exempt. The new ordinance, as proposed, applies whenever walnut trees or other plants having established stable root systems are removed, but advocates of agriculture interests made a last-minute push in the committee to exempt the ripping out of old orchards from any form of review.


“Exempt” means no information at all is ever submitted, as happened with Snows Lake. The public can anticipate that these efforts to water down the ordinance will be renewed before the full Board of Supervisors.


Also, efforts are now in progress to eliminate the requirement of neighbor notification about “standard” grading projects. This is one of the most significant safeguards of the new ordinance. All too often, land developers provide incomplete or misleading information, which does not come to light until the damage has already been done.


Even though the new ordinance does beef up the county’s enforcement powers, history has demonstrated that county officials and employees can all too often be induced to look the other way and disregard real problems when big business interests are involved.


In the staff report recommending the deletion of the notice requirement, the bogeyman of “NIMBY” not in my backyard neighbors is overly stressed in an effort to do away with what is a very workable and modern notification provision, one that is accepted as standard operating procedure in most if not all of the more civilized California counties.


The ordinance represents the product of four years of hard work by the citizens advisory committee, in which each provision has been vetted very thoughtfully and carefully.


The public should read the ordinance carefully, comment thoroughly and speak out accordingly, but should beware of any last-minute changes that can throw the entire scheme out of balance.


Robert Riggs, a Lake County attorney and Board Chair of the Lake County Citizens Coalition, has served on the citizens’ advisory committee on the Lake County grading ordinance from its inception in December, 2002 to the present.

 

Image
Bank erosion from an improperly constructed road. Photo by Robert Riggs.

 

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