Saturday, December 31, 2005

Eureka's West Side

The cover story of the North Coast Journal is a good read this week, assuming you're interested in blight vs. redevelopment issues. The writer really covers all the angles of what's going on on Eureka's notorious West Side.

Some, like West Side resident, Ann White, seem to feel that maintaining zoning, as the City has, is intentional. She cites the rise in the Welfare- Industrial Complex (more and more people trained as welfare workers) and the City's preoccupation with affordable housing as a reason for the continued decline of the City's West Side.

Mayor Peter Le Vallee seems to give credence to Ms. White's concerns by defending the Welfare- Industrial Complex, him being a social worker by profession. He's disturbed by the accusations and wants to help people in need. He feels the half way houses and youth shelters he runs are part of the solution, not the problem, and would like to see them spread out over Eureka rather than concentrated in one place.

Then there's Xandra Manns, who feels part of the solution to the problem of blight is planting more trees, among other things. You know, that old Tree Lined Cities thing I've commented negatively on before. Just what we need.

Kevin Hamblin, Eureka's Planning Director, seems to go along more with my sentiments: "If not on the West Side, then where will the low income people live?". Exactly. Mayor Peter Le Vallee said he was interested in spreading the shelters and half way houses around the city a bit more. Do we really need to go there? Never mind that's already happening to some extent. I have a half way house across the street from my house. Of course, I'm just a couple blocks from the official West Side. And I'll have to admit, the operators have improved that house tenfold since they took it over some years ago. Heck, they're probably complaining about MY house!

Seems to me, the bottom line is, there's always going to be so called "blighted areas" in any town. Blighted areas are caused by people. Spreading those people around is just going to spread the misery, over time. I appreciate efforts to make the West Side safer and to look nicer, but the people are the problem and it's probably best to keep them in the part of town they're already in. As far as tearing down older houses and replacing them with "affordable housing", good luck. The same people will still be living in there, whether it be in affordable apartments or a run down Victorian.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Two Links: Zombie and Readability

A couple links you may want to check out:

This one is a photo journalist that does photo essays of various events in the S.F. Bay Area. The two I checked out were the Breast Not Bombs demonstration and the demonstration against the Tookie Williams execution. The guy comments on the photos. Well Done. I've added it to my Favorites.

Pam sent me this one. If you have a blog or web site you'll want to try it. It scores the readability of your page. I was happy with my score. I was right in there with the few blogs I compared with, much to my surprise. I thought I would of scored much better than some I frequent. Not so much that I would score better, but that they scored as well as mine.

Why Are Centrists Scary?

Patriotic Mom (Pam) went ahead and took the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and scored Centrist. I told her I consider Centrists scary. She wanted to know why. First of all, scary might not be the right choice of words, but I like to use it, especially since it gets Pam going. I'm actually more leery of Centrists in the legislature. One on one, I might find more common ground in conversation with a Centrist but, you never know how a Centrist might vote in an election, and that's a concern.

Centrists are what the Main Stream Media call "moderates", those that hold views that are a mix of those from the Left, Right, Libertarian or Authoritarian areas of the political spectrum. In practice, the Centrists are likely a threat to freedom just like the Left or Right.

This might well be overly simplistic as I’ll refer to the Left and Right when so many of our legislators are Authoritarian, but here’s how I see it:

Whether the legislature is dominated by Left or Right, each side will pass legislation to support their cause. Since most legislation either costs one group or another their money or freedom, once the Left and Right have had their turn, both the Left and Right (and everyone else) end up in the end with less money and freedom.

Enter the Centrist, or moderate. Their political philosophy consists of a mish- mash of just about every political persuasion, but likely evolves from what they’ve seen on two minute sound bites on the nightly news or, like many of their colleagues, whoever gave the most to their election campaign.

While they might not vote exclusively for Left or Right Wing legislation, they’ll likely vote to approve some legislation from each side of the aisle. As a result, just like after the Left and Right have been in control, everyone ends up with less money and their freedom diminished.

In the real world it’s unlikely libertarians will be elected any time soon in sufficient numbers to affect legislation. So, I’d much prefer a polarized legislature, hopefully with fairly even numbers on each side (unlike California) where they can get caught up in gridlock over supposedly strongly divergent views. Since most legislative action results in taking people’s money, their freedom diminished or simply in business the government shouldn’t be involved with in the first place, the less that gets done the better. With Centrists, Left and Right Wingers in charge, gridlock is good.

"Given the low level of competence among politicians, every American should become a libertarian. The government that governs the least is certainly the best choice when fools, opportunists and grafters run it. When power is for sale, then government power should be severely limited. When power is abused, then the less power the better."- Charley Reese

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Thompson Shuns Vets Bill?

Good for him. Actually, I don't think he actually blew this bill off. He probably just didn't want to get involved in a bill that wasn't going anywhere and this bill, which would give WW2 Merchant Mariners benefits somewhat equitable to regular military vets, doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Besides, as Thompson points out, how are we going to pay for this?

It's not that I'm anti- veteran. In some ways I could say I am a veteran. Heck, I was a member of the VFW for a year. Of course, I only joined cause a friend down at the Veteran's Affairs Office volunteered to pay my first year's dues if I joined.

I've gotten tired of hearing from supposed veterans. They're just another group seeking entitlements. I think, for the most part, people in the military are paid well and get great benefits. Probably the best paying job I ever had was being on active duty in the Army National Guard.

Now, we have all kinds of veterans coming out of the woodwork claiming abuse, or lack of compensation. Then the one that really irks me: Homeless VETERANS! Who are these homeless veterans and why is it such a big deal that they're veterans. Seems to me most people who leave the military take their experience and do good with it. Some, perhaps a lot of these homeless ones, might not have been worth a crap in the first place. Couldn't make it in the military or out. Those of you that haved served probably know the type. Yet, because they spent four or six years in the military, it's like we owe them for the rest of their lives.

I could see it if a guy lost an arm or leg in combat, but just cause someone lasted four years in the military doesn't mean he should get subsidized the rest of his life.

I remember one case of a guy that was an activist for veterans causes, of sorts. This was back in the mid '70s. The guy seemed in perfect shape and would be seen walking around town doing "research". I got to know him a little and one day had to ask what he did for finances, as he didn't seem to have a regular job. He goes on to tell me he was on disability for a service related injury. Ok. Sounds fine, and he would talk about all sorts of veterans issues on occasion. Then, I come to find out his injury was a result of a motorcycle accident he was in while he was in the Navy, but not while on duty.

So, he gets in a wreck, off duty, and gets some (apparently) lifetime disability, despite the fact that his injuries weren't job related. That's great for him, I guess, but it's not so great for everyone else. These people that try to turn military service into a life long entitlement give veterans a bad name.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Public Pension Problems

This is just one of a number of news stories I've seen lately detailing the problems local governments are having in covering the increased costs of pensions for government employees. This is affecting communties up and down the state, with the City of San Diego being the poster boy for public pension mismanagement. I can't recall hearing of many, if any, taxpayer groups taking up this issue. Maybe I missed it? I suspect that, since taxpayer groups tend to lean towards a conservative membership, their membership tends to shy away at anything that looks like criticism of public safety agencies. Law enforcement, corrections and fire being the biggest drains on taxpayers in this pension fiasco.

I've said before, I wonder how Humboldt County stands in regards to funding these pension liablities. I suppose I should just get off my butt and ask those in the know at city hall and the county courthouse. I've never heard of the Humboldt Taxpayer's League looking into how well, or bad off, we are in this area, although I know some of the League members are aware of the issue.
Along that same line, here's an interesting editorial from the L.A. Daily News about a sales tax increase the L.A. County Sheriff keeps pushing despite having enough money for funding the needed deputies, at least according to the writer. Wonder how much of that goes on around the state? Probably quite a lot.
Political Quizzes, Part 2
(Hmm...for some reason the paragraph breaks aren't showing up down below so, I just add a couple *s to break it up)
I sent Patriotic Mom yet another political quiz yesterday. Some of you might have already taken it even before I mentioned it some months ago on this blog. The World's Smallest Political Quiz is the darling of a lot of libertarians. I suppose it's ok but a little simplistic. I think it is fairly accurate in identifying a libertarian and/ or an authoritarian. So, it's not a bad tool for outreach activities. If someone scores as a libertarian, they might be surprised and want to take a further look into whatever cause or organization you're promoting at an outreach event.
I like the Who Should Decide... version of the WSPQ a little better, although I haven't found an online version that tabulates the results automatically. The one I linked to here seems to have slightly different questions than the last version I used. With the WSD version, you're asked who should decide about some particular issue: You, the Government or Unsure. I think this version imparts to people an idea of what libertarianism is all about, as opposed to simply identifying a libertarian minded person as the WSPQ does. I've given versions of both tests at various outreach events and many folks score down toward the Authoritarian sector in the WSPQ then turn around and score up in the Libertarian quadrant taking the WSD version.
I think it would be interesting to do the comparison testing on a much larger scale. Some might say the WSD version is misleading cause most people will give themselves the benefit of the doubt and usually chose to leave the choices to themselves. I would counter, that's exactly the point: most people would rather make decisions themselves and thus the libertarian philosophy fits naturally with them. The problem arises when people don't realize that they can't really be free themselves if they're not willing to allow others to have that same freedom to choose.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I Must Be Worth More Than This

So, I figure I'll really show that sweetheart, scary- though- she- may- be, Patriotic Mom, and let everyone know how much more my blog is worth than hers. I go to this site to see who's blog is worth more. What a disappointment. Her blog's worth more than mine. :-(

My Blog: $3387

Patriotic Mom: $7339

Boy, I got trounced. So, to try and save face, I go through my blog list and randomly throw some other blogs I check regularly into the mix. These aren't all the blogs I visit every day, just a few of them. It gets worse, with few exceptions. The results in no particular order:

The hard hitting leftie commentator, Blue Flypaper, gets a whopping $16,371

Self described libertarian- Republican, Right On, gets $67,744

One of my favorites, Cap'n Buhne, gets $0 (how can this be?)

Ilana Mercer's, Barely a Blog, gets $7,339

The out- for- the- holidays, San Francisco Liberal, gets $16,371 (he should get a penalty just for taking Christmas week off)

And our very own Leonidas', Fighting In The Shade, gets $564 (not bad for a relatively new blog)

To be fair to myself, this is based somehow on the links the page has and, I would think to some extent, what links other pages have to the blog. I never bothered to figure it out completely. But even with that, I may not have many links on my blog but they're better than the links on Pam's (Patriotic Mom) blog. Look at all those yucko links she has. Who'd want to visit any of those?

Oh well, can't argue with success. I guess the low value of my insightful, hard hitting commentary is the perfect example of talk being cheap.

Nanning Creek Plus An Ideology Quiz

Look out Times- Standard! Verbena, on the Redwood Peace and Justice Center e-mail list, followed up with Kim Starr's e-mail to some of the folks at your paper with a call for more letters to be sent requesting coverage of the Nanning Creek Demonstrations. So, not only will Driscoll and Winkler possibly see their inboxes full of more requests for coverage, readers might well see an influx of letters to the editor regarding the same.

I wonder how effective such a call to action over that e-mail list will be? I'm sure it might generate a few letters to the editor outside of those that might have been sent anyway. Sometimes such efforts can be disappointing. I remember being relieved back when Paul Gallegos was running for D.A. Someone sent notice of some fundraiser/ meeting in support of Gallegos over the RPJC e-mail list, urging everyone to attend. After the event took place the same guy writes to the list chastising everyone cause only a handful of people showed up. Good. I'm not alone, thought I.

Years ago I sent notice of a presidential poll out over the county LP e-mail list. I sent it out to 35 people, or so. Neat thing about that poll was you could go back and see how the people in your county voted. I went back after a few days and there were only seven votes from Humboldt, all of them for LP candidate, Harry Browne. Boy, pretty pathetic response, as all one had to do was click on the link and cast a vote. Oh well.
I don't believe I ever mentioned this ideology quiz here before, as I was fooling around with it long before I started this blog. I took this Selectsmart Ideology Quiz a few years ago and passed it around via some e-mail lists. It's changed a little since the first time I took it. I had it bookmarked for a long time and then noticed one day the page was gone. A shame, so I thought, but then saw the new quiz on the new page mentioned on today.

This quiz is interesting because, based on how you answer all the questions, it classifies you as not only liberal, conservative or libertarian ( plus others, like "Radical"), it also has qualifiers added to each of those. For instance, I scored Paleolibertarian this time just like I did when I took it before. It then lists the other categories you fit in with from closest to furthest. For example, here's how I scored today:

#1: Paleo-libertarian
#2 Left-libertarian
#3: Radical
#4: Libertarian
#5: Paleoconservative

#6: Third Way
#7: Centrist
#8: Conservative
#9: Neoconservative
#10: Liberal

So, I scored as a Paleolib with Leftlib being my runner up (which surprises me) and I'm furthest away from being Liberal. Funny thing is, that order can change just from changing one answer from Yes to Not Sure. I took that quiz three or four times years ago when I was playing with it and each time the order would change at least a little, although I think I scored Paleolib for number one except maybe once despite my different answers. My answers seemed to always change a little depending on what mood I was in at the time.

I didn't notice this morning whether they still had a link to a page of descriptions of the various ideologies. Seems to me they used to have something like that on their page. But, if you fill in the blank with your e-mail address, they send you your score with links to web sites that supposedly reflect the different ideologies. Whatever. Take the test and see how you do and let us all know in the comments section

Monday, December 26, 2005

My Favorite Day

YESSS, it’s Over!

I hate Christmas. Always have, so this is probably my favorite day of the year. Christmas is over and the entire Holiday Season not far behind.

I shouldn’t really be too happy as the signs of Christmas will be around for a few more weeks. For some reason people insist on leaving their damned Christmas lights and trees in place for a week or two after it's over. To me that’s more rude than not taking down campaign signs after an election.

I’ll never understand why any rational adult would willingly take part in Christmas. That was one of many advantages of being single back in the good ol’ days. I could pretty much ignore Christmas and the rest of the so called holidays. Sure, I still had to suffer through the long shopping lines when all I wanted to do was make a quick beer run. The mail was screwed up and I had to look at all the Christmas lights everyone had up but, for the most part, I could ignore it and even make some overtime by working on Christmas Day.

Still, at least one or two well meaning people would always come by my place cause they felt sorry about me living alone and "not having a Christmas". They’d bring some small gift and the worst part is you had to say thank you and be Christmasy with them just to be polite, even though you were pissed. That used to really burn me up, despite their good intentions.

It has gotten better over the years. Fewer and fewer people are doing Christmas lighting and it seems fewer are buying Christmas trees. Not sure about the trees, though. Maybe not as many people are putting the trees in windows where everyone can see them, as a security precaution? I’m sure about the lights. I remember back in the sixties I could look up the street I lived on and every house seemed to have lights up. Now, it seems like less than half the households put up decorations. Whether that's due to people worrying about their energy bill, or a sign of a growing disinterest in Christmas, that's a good thing and let’s hope that trend continues.

Last but not least, it’s great that all those Christmas TV specials went by the wayside. Not only were they a nuisance, apparently people actually watched them so the networks kept producing them. Some years ago I read that the ratings for those shows plummeted so they had to drop them for lack of sponsors. Congrats to all for the lack of interest. May this be a sign of more good things to come.

Hopefully, more and more people will lose interest in Christmas. Maybe some day it will get as much attention as some of the other not- celebrated- much holidays, but I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime. Probably to my dying day, I’ll have to suffer through that miserable period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day known as The Holidays.

But for today, I can happily say, It's over!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Libertarian President?

Interesting conjecture here where the author predicts a libertarian winning the Presidency in 2016. Forgive me for being a bit skeptical, having been jaded by involvement with the Libertarian Party for over a decade. I'm used to losing,and losing big time. Then again, the author isn't saying the Libertarian Party, as we know it today, will necessarily be the one winning the office. He predicts some change in the other political parties as well.

I am somewhat offended by his suggestion that President Bush has been promoting libertarian ideals. I guess he is right, though, with the examples he mentions. It's not so much what Bush actually means, in his speeches, it's how other people perceive those remarks. His references to a Bush speech mentioning "freedom" and "liberty" are a bit off, as that's just Bush doublespeak, but overall, I understand pretty much where he's going with this as, again, he's referring to public perception to what Bush is saying.

Where the author and I seem to agree is that individual liberty is the one value most people share in common. Thus, the Libertarian Party being the only party that can claim that as its binding principle, is the one party that will finally bring enough of the various factions of people in this country together to put a libertarian in the White House. He suggests it will happen. Being the skeptic, I'm not so sure, but he makes a decent case. I wonder if I'll live long enough to see if he's right?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Protestor Protests No Coverage

In my inbox this morning via the Redwood Peace and Justice Center e-mail list was an e-mail sent to John Driscoll, environmental issues reporter for the Times- Standard. It was sent by one, Kim Starr, apparently one of the folks involved in the anti- logging protests down by Nanning Creek near Scotia. Kim seems bothered by the fact that the Times- Standard isn't giving them the coverage they want, and asks for more coverage of their protests in the future.

Just speaking for myself, I say NOT! Not saying it might not be news of interest to some people. I'm sure those participating in the action might want to see a picture of themselves in the paper but, to me, seems we've been there and done that. I've lived up here over thirty years and I'm sure most would agree, we've seen our fair share of these anti- logging protests. It gets old. It's no longer newsworthy to most of us, I would think. That's not to say people might not want to discuss such issues, I'd just rather have something more interesting in my morning paper.

That said, I suppose it's at least as newsworthy as the obligatory, day(s)- before- Christmas- shopping story that so much of the main stream media feels it has to run within a few days of Christmas each year. So, since the Times- Standard ran this story today, I guess the Nanning Creek protestors are entitled to one day of coverage, once a year, if the local papers have the space to fit it in. So, you have my permission, Times- Standard, but just for one day. Sorry, I didn't read the Christmas shopping story and likely won't read the Nanning Creek Protest story, either.

Friday, December 23, 2005

New Chief P.O. For Humboldt

Not exactly breaking news but Doug Rasines has been appointed the new Chief Probation Officer for Humboldt. I knew and worked for him when he was Superintendant of Juvenile Hall, as well as his predecessor, Bill Burke, who moved to take the same position for Marin County.

What I'd like to know is what happened to their predecessor, Dave Lehman? He was Chief P.O. for quite a few years and seemed to just disappear. Don't recall seeing anything in the paper about him leaving. Last I heard, he'd been appointed to the State Parole Board, or some such, but I thought that was just something he did on the side. Maybe I got that wrong and it was some permanent job change? You'd think if he had moved on there'd had been a lot of fanfare with the county pols and media (unless he left under less than favorable circumstances?).
This story caught my eye this morning. Sure seems at odds with the idea most of us have of illegal immigrants and those south of the border sucking this country dry. Looks like some of the Mexican folks are better off financially than I am. I would of thought Americans would be crossing the border to do shopping in Mexico for Christmas but I guess it's the other way around.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

PATRIOT Act Extended

I was surprised to see the PATRIOT Act had been extended. I guess I wasn't paying enought attention as I thought the extension had been defeated. Then I realized it had just been extended for six months as opposed to the four years which was originally proposed.

I won't comment here on the merits, or lack thereof, of the PATRIOT Act itself. The one thing that most should find troubling about this whole issue is the number of both citizens and legislators that don't seem to have any concerns about the Act in the first place. Since the War On Terror is likely to last decades to possibly centuries, PATRIOT Act supporters are essentially saying it's ok to to infringe on our liberties for our lifetimes and perhaps even generations to come.

Don't think they're saying that? I'd submit that by dismissing criticisms of the Act and being so determined in going forward with extensions of the Act, that's exactly what they're saying and are tossing the "freedoms" they're so concerned about defending out the window.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: Our freedoms aren't threatened by anyone outside our borders. The only ones that can (and do) threaten America's freedoms are its citizenry and its government.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

California Wellness Stats

The Sacramento Bee's Dan Weintraub has some charts available on his December 21 California Insider showing how the state has fared over the last few years in a number of areas. Crime, tracked from '94 until present comes first. Looks like violent crime has declined recently with property crimes rising slightly.

Next, he tracks Poverty and Air Pollution since 2002, Home Ownership and Welfare Cases since 1996. You'll have to scroll down past a few other entries to get to the chart on Welfare Cases.

Overall, it looks like some improvement just by the appearance of the graphs but, when you think about it, statewide statistics might really mean nothing to people living in the different areas of the state. One city or county might well have high crime rates while the next one might not and that's what really matters when you live somewhere. Not how well the state's doing as a whole.

Besides, you know what they say about statistics.

Picture Test

Just seeing how easy it is to add a picture to my blog. Let's see if this works. Yep, it looks like it worked but it was supposed to end up underneath the text. Oh well. That's a picture from the front page of the Times- Standard showing a tree, that fell during the storm, being removed.
Good to see at least one one ballot initiative isn't going to make it on to the ballot next election. I guess they'll be trying for the election after that, though.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More Reforms?

Speaking of campaign finance and general government reform, a couple articles in the paper today talk of even more efforts to clean up politics:

This one talks about creating a citizens assembly that will be formed to come up with some workable ideas for reforming state government. A couple state assemblymen want this group to work on ideas such as independent redistricting and proportional representation, to name of couple of issues. I wonder if they'll include Instant Runoff Voting? It will be interesting to see if anything useful comes from this. I don't have a lot of faith that creating what amounts to a new 160 member committee will accomplish much.

This one talks about a proposal pending with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors dealing with publicly financed elections. I don't have much faith in that idea, either. In fact, I see no benefit at all from this one, especially after reading the short story I've linked to here. Looks to me like a candidate has to have support from a significant segment of the voter population to be eligible for funding. The candidate has to raise something like $25,000 from 250 people to qualify for public funding and then they get more and more money, based on some scale, as they raise more money. So what's the point?

Seems to me it comes down to the better known candidates, the ones with the most support and thus already a financial advantage, getting an even bigger financial advantage because they can get more money from the public than their lesser known opponents because they raised more money in the first place. Unless I'm reading it wrong, that doesn't make any sense at all. Why not just let the candidates do the same fund raising they'd do under this plan and just leave out the public subsidies? Either way the higher profile candidates with the most money maintain their advantage.

This is just more of the same of this campaign finance reform stuff that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It doesn't accomplish anything in the short or long run and just ends up making it a bigger hassle for candidates to run for office. It probably has something to do with this thing we have about democracy and that old politicians are a bunch of bums so let's elect a different set of bums and we'll fix the problem...mentality. I'm not against trying to make things work better, but I think many of these reform proposals, if not an illusion, might just make things worse.

In closing, maybe a bit off topic for this post, but a neat quote on voting that someone named Bob Evans made in a comment on my hearthrob, Ilana Mercer's blog. I've said the same thing using a lot more words. Wish I'd wrote this:

"What’s more, the process of voting (or democracy in general) normally results in less freedom, not more. After all, the underlying goal of the voting process is to legitimize or justify power (the “right” to initiate force) — not to denounce it or expose how it will be used to wrong others."- Bob Evans

Monday, December 19, 2005

Eureka Greens Oppose Community Rights Initiative?

I was surprised to see, on the agenda for the Eureka Greens' January meeting, under Endorsements, item d says, "Position in opposition to Humboldt Coalition For Community Rights Initiative". Unless I'm mistaken, that's the one that will prohibit corporations from outside the county from contributing to local elections, or some such.

Strange. I would think something like that would be a shoo- in for most Greens. I believe that would put them at odds with the county Green organization, although I can't be sure. Of course, maybe it's just on the agenda in order for them to discuss it but it looked to me like the supported all the other items on the Edorsements list.

Maybe they're frequenting this blog, checked my hard hitting commentary and decided that, if I oppose something, they should too? It will be interesting to see what comes of that. Doesn't look to me like they post minutes of past meetings on their blog yet so I made a comment that maybe they should. I also asked what their reasoning might be in opposing that initiative.

Looks like the Eureka City Council is considering making room for both the Eco Hostel and the Hampton Inn Suites, as opposed to just choosing one over the other. Kinda nice that everybody might end up happy. Or will they? We really need to get away from this sell trinkets to tourists mentality that pervades around here, at least in some circles.

I read in one paper recently one of the Eureka City Coucil folks saying that local hotels have an average 57% occupancy rate. That seems surprisingly high, at least for much of the year. I wonder what the minimal occupancy rate is for a hotel/ motel to break even and how low they need to go to go under? We can't just keep building one hotel after another.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Eureka Reporter Leads T/S With TV Guide

One of the reasons we've subscribed to the Times- Standard over the years is to get the weekly TV guide that comes each Sunday. Naturally, the Eureka Reporter would want to have one as well if they wanted to stay competitive. So, a few weeks ago, the Reporter sent out its first TV Spotlight.

I was happy enough with the old Times- Standard TV guide but decided to try the Spotlight and see if it had any advantages over the Times- Standard. First observation was that the Spotlight was pretty big and I thought that made it a little unwieldy for making a quick check of TV show while laying on the couch but I let that go. Then I noticed something not so good: Unless I missed it, they didn't have any channel numbers listed. All they had was station designations like CBS, A&E or Disc. I usually can't remember channel numbers for those stations off the top of my head, with the exception of the History Channel. I pointed the lack of channel designations out to the wife and she said, "that's pretty lame...".

So, I wait until today, eager to see if they fixed that snafu and, if nothing else, to grab the good ol' trusty Times- Standard TV Guide which, for some reason, either wasn't included in last Sunday's paper or I'd misplaced somewhere. I'd needed it last week to figure out what channels everything was on.

I go through the T/S this morning and find that they've followed the Reporter and are now using the Select TV guide, having replaced the old TV guide they used for years. Damn, says I. I liked the older one but I guess this will have to do. It looked like the Reporter's Spotlight. Same size, anyway. I open it and first thing I notice is it also doesn't have channel listings, either, except for six channels starting at 3 and ending at 29. All the rest are just letters and names. Sheesh. Things never get better do they?

So I go out to look for the Reporter and find it on the sidewalk. With the rain, the paper was a bit wet and almost unusable despite the plastic wrapper. Thankfully, the Reporter had made changes. Now the Reporter has numerical channel designations on the daily TV tables so you know where to turn. Let's see if the T/S follows their lead and makes the fix as well. Still, the old T/S guide that was 8.5" x 11" was a lot handier to deal with.

Kudos to the Reporter for the fix and roasts to the Times- Standard for following the Reporter and changing their TV Guide in the first place. If it ain't broke, don't try and fix it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Another Commentator In Trouble

I wasn't happy to see Doug Bandow, of the Cato Institute, outed and resigning (under pressure, I assume) for receiving undisclosed payments from people who's clients he wrote favorable commentaries about. That's the latest one I've heard about, the last being Walter Williams(?) who was paid by the feds to write or comment favorably on certain fed policies, the specifics of which escape me.

That said, while I find it at least a bit disturbing that a writer I respect is found to be in the payroll of someone he comments favorably on, is there really a problem with getting paid for writing? Heck, I wish someone would pay me for all my hard hitting commentaries. Of course, then I'd probably have to worry about deadlines and all and it wouldn't be as fun. I could use the money, though.

But, seems to me, if someone writes something that they actually believe, what's wrong with getting paid for it? I know it certainly has the look of impropriety but, if he or she really believes in what they're writing should we really care about the money? It would be one thing if someone altered the facts to deliberately fool people but if the facts are as a writer believes them to be, what's the big deal?

I suppose it's natural for most folks, myself included, to want disclosure but might I suggest we should be debating the facts of the commentary in question as opposed to whether the writer was paid for the comments? I can't help but admire the other guy mentioned in that Business Week article, Peter Ferrara. He says he's been paid to write commentaries on people he wrote favorably about before and he'd do it again as long as he believes in what he's writing. You don't see much of that non PC candor around anymore.
Speaking of writers, looks like local letter writer, Chris Wennerholm, isn't interested in starting her own blog. I e-mailed her yesterday and suggested she check out my blog and consider starting her own. No response at all and don't know if she even came here to check this blog out. Probably that old partisan polarization I notice so much, especially from the Right, nowadays. If you're not pretty much completely on their side, you're the enemy.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Salzman Makes Headlines

Was it just a slow news day? I can't imagine why the State Attorney General's decision not to prosecute Salzman for writing letters to the editor under assumed names qualifies as a headline story in both the Eureka Reporter and the Times- Standard (photo of the headline viewable at the link). Maybe it's just one more way of getting a dig in at Salzman now that the matter will be dropped? In fairness, I guess a lot of people, myself included, were interested in the outcome of that affair. Making a headline story out of it, though?
Finally got to see what one of our local right wing commentators looks like. Chris Wennerholm (I have no idea if she's any relation to local LPer, Will Wennerholm) had another piece published in the Eureka Reporter today. The guest opinions in that paper seem to always have an accompanying photo. With the first name, I used to be under the impression she was a guy but something I read somewhere straightened me out.

I might well agree with some of her comments but I find her blind nationalism and partisanship frightening. She's one of those My Country Right or Wrong types, or so she gives the impression. Someone needs to get her to start her own blog. Maybe I'll suggest it as I continually get e-mails from her forwarded to me by a local LPer in Fortuna. From the amount of mail she sends out Chris seems to have a lot of time on her hands.

If Chris did decide to put up a blog, it would be interesting to see which one I would find more disturbing. Could she beat the current winner on my Scariest Right Wing Blogs List, Patriotic Mom? Patriotic Mom is your stereotypical, blind nationalist, War Party, christian gal. I check her blog every day and do indeed find it disturbing but, no, I don't leave nasty comments. Can Chris beat her? Start a blog, Chris, and let the games begin!

PS: I don't really have a list of SCARY blogs of any kind, but, of the blogs I visit every day, Patriotic Mom is the most bothersome to me.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Be Very Afraid?

Interesting letter to editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal that was forwarded to me this morning. The writer recounts his experience of a raid of his property by the Drug Enforcement Agency. While the writer correctly attributes the increasing danger we face to the War on Terror, I'd beg to differ a little. The attacks on our liberties and the increasingly aggressive actions of law enforcement are nothing new. They've been going on for quite some time under presidents and congresscritters from all sides of the aisle. They certainly may have seemed to increase their tempo under the Bush Administration but they've been building up momentum for much longer than that.

That more and more average folks are becoming aware of the danger is a good thing. Whether they've become aware too late is another question altogether.
Kind of along that same line, James Wilson, of the Independent Country blog, had a piece published on this morning. He writes of why, as a libertarian, he considers himself as being both on the left and right. While I might want to quibble about what he describes as liberal and conservative values, that would be an exercise in futility as that argument might never end. Suffice it to say he makes a good point and describes pretty much how I feel, although I'd prefer to describe myself as being neither to the left or right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

LP of CA Gears Up For 2006, Already?

I was actually disappointed to find, in my inbox this morning, an e-mail stating the Libertarian Party of California has found a full slate of candidates for the 2006 elections, at least for the North Coast. Ted Brown, our statewide candidate recruiter, does a miraculous job each election of rounding up candidates all over the state. Local Green Party babe, Kaitlin Socopi- Belknap, commented to me some time ago she was impressed with how many candidates the LP manages to find. Well, for the most part, the credit belongs to Ted Brown and his hard work.

Of course, this doesn't mean the candidates will just show up on the ballot. They have to either pay filing fees, gather a certain number of signatures, or, come up with a combonation of filing fees and signatures- each signature being worth a certain amount toward the filing fees. I forget the cash value of an individual signature but it varies with the office being sought.

It is nice to have a libertarian to vote for come election time, but it has it downsides as well. Getting the candidate on the ballot can be a real hassle to me, since up here it's pretty much up to just me. It takes time, money and a lot of work to do the signature gathering. I was kinda hoping no one would want to run this next time around so I could pretty much sit out the pre- election hassles. Oh well. We'll see what happens.

Some of the volunteer candidates may just end up being paper candidates. That can be a bit of a disappointment for people going out and gathering signatures but we've been fairly lucky up here to have candidates that are fairly active and actually show up for candidate forums and such. I've done some candidate web pages for other LP candidates around the state, off and on, and have been struck by the inability of some of our candidates to even come up with issues they want to run on. Had one guy who just wanted me to link any issues on his web page to the generic LP CA issues web page and didn't want me to put any background info on his page. You know, the stuff nearly any candidate has on a campaign web page: "I'm a father of four kids and have been practicing medicine for 25 years.....". If someone can't even come up with the basics, why bother running.

But, like I said, we've had fairly decent LP candidates up here since I've been with the Party. Here's who's looking at running next year:

1st District, U.S. Congress- running against Mike Thompson - Joe Farina from Woodland. I believe he's run before for one thing or another so at least he has experience. I've certainly heard his name before.

2nd District, State Senate- currently held by Wes Chesbro, who I believe can't run for this office again because of term limits - Our very own, Verne Skjonsby, who recently, unless I'm mistaken, won one of the seats on one of the Arcata School Boards and prior to that won a seat on the Board of some recreation district in Arcata.

1st District, State Assembly- running against Patty Berg- Tom Reed, out of Cloverdale. Never heard of him but past LP State Assembly candidate, Ken Anton, told me Reed had called him to talk a bit about running for that office.

We'll see how this shapes up and whether they can get on the ballot without paying filing fees. What I'm curious about is what Chesbro is gonna do, assuming I'm right about him being term limited out. Will he try to run against Thompson in the primary? I wonder.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Just What Is Bush Really Like?

I try not to comment on Bush much since there's more than enough people doing that already, but I found this interesting article on Bush and the goings on in his inner circle. The author, Bruce Bartlett, is a conservative commentator that used to be the head honcho at the National Center for Policy Analysis. I understand he got canned from there for being too critical of Bush.

The picture he paints of Bush is a bit different than the impression I've been under. I've always felt, since at least a few months after he was first elected, that Bush isn't much more than a stuffed shirt. Seems to me he doesn't really have strong opinions on political issues but simply defers to advisors in his inner circle and goes along with whatever they say to do. The fact that he supposedly doesn't read newspapers, among other things, reinforces my feelings. I think that's also why he doesn't do well expressing himself and defending "his" policies. He doesn't have strong, well thought out personal feelings on issues so he only responds to questions with answers he's been provided with by staff.

Maybe Bartlett and the writers of the Newsweek article he refers to are right. Or, maybe we're both right and Bush is a mix of the two. Either way, I'll be glad when he's gone. Unfortunately, his successor, whoever it might be, won't likely be much of an improvement, if any improvement at all.
BTW: Interesting blog here that has polls where you can vote for the candidate you feel each party should nominate for their next presidential choice. Polls are on the right as you scroll down. Thanks to James Wilson's Independent Country blog for the heads up. James screwed his blog up by trying to change the template and looks like he screwed it up big time. I think he needs to start over again at this point

Monday, December 12, 2005

We're Running Out Of OIL!!!

At least a lot of people claim we are. I don't know about that. Found some statistics in an article up at today that, if accurate, are pretty reassuring in that we aren't anywhere near to running out of oil or any other form of energy in the foreseeable future. This guy's commentary, while a bit lengthy for my attention span, shows how much energy we supposedly have in reserves and how much is used each year on the planet. I hope his figures are right. The figures are at the beginning so you don't have to read the whole thing.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

CHP To Patrol Eureka

Why do I find this bothersome? I should be happy that an overworked police department gets a little help. I guess it's because now we have to worry about getting nitpicked for vehicle violations once the CHP starts frequenting the streets of Eureka. I guess I'll have to fix those lights on the trailer I'm always dragging around.

It makes me wonder, too, about whether there's some problem within the Eureka Police Department that causes them to be continually short on manpower. It seems we've been hearing for quite some time that the department is understaffed. Some in the department claim that it's because people leave for departments with better pay or benefits. I'm sure that's true in some cases but might some just find the work environment there not to their liking? I know one cop that worked for Eureka that switched to Arcata and then to other agencies. When I asked him about leaving EPD, he replied along the lines of, "I was glad to get out of there...". He didn't elaborate, but I was surprised. He seemed like a gung ho EPD type from what little I'd known of him.

This also makes me wonder if other departments are going to try to get in on the CHP gravy train? I thought I'd heard that Arcata PD was short staffed as of late. Are they going to be asking for help soon? What will this lead to in the long term, although this CHP assistance is supposedly temporary? Truth be told, local agencies have always been able to get help from other agencies. You'll hear them on the radio referring to it as an "agency assist". I guess its just the suspicious, conspiratorialist libertarian in me that wonders if this is some scheme to increase funding or manipulate financing for the local cops.
In other news, one of my favorite editorial writers, Steve Greenhut of the Orange County Register, was awarded the Thomas Payne Award by the Institute for Justice. The Institute for Justice is a kind of libertarian oriented ACLU type group. They award the Thomas Payne Award to journalists who advance individual liberty through their craft. In this case it's certainly well deserved. Congrats, Steve!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Geist Might Have Competition...

assuming she decides to seek another term on the Board of Supervisors. Haven't heard anything as to whether or not she'll try to stay on but it seems to me most supes usually do. So Pat Higgins, a businessman/ biologist (?) by profession, wants to run against her. He says Geist has, "run to the center, politically..." which he thinks is a mistake. Makes one wonder just where in the political spectrum Higgins lies? I suspect he's even more left leaning than Geist or he wouldn't bring it up as an issue. Seems to me we have a fairly left leaning Board of Supervisors as it is and I'd just as soon it doesn't move any further to the left.

Maybe this is another collective (no pun intended) effort by the Left to take yet more control of the county? If we see Local Solutions endorsing Higgins, it just might be.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Protestor's Protest Arrests

Yet another letter to the editor in the paper from a Petrolia resident. This one taking exception to the arrest of protestors during the last two anti- war demonstrations in Eureka. Boy, Petrolia must have more lefties per capita than Arcata. You don't see letters from Petrolia in the paper very often but, when you do, it seems they're always left leaning, to say the least.

That said, civil disobedience isn't exclusively the domain of the Left. The writer properly points out that there was a pro logging protest at the courthouse some time ago where logging trucks took up parking spaces they weren't supposed to park in and the police looked the other way. I wonder if perhaps arrangements had been made by the demonstration organizers to accomodate the parking of those trucks, though? She also has a point that some of the anti war demonstrators were given tickets for what I felt were questionable offenses. One that comes to my mind being a girl ticketed for riding a bike on the sidewalk during the demonstration at the military recruiting offices. Hmmm... I didn't know it was really against the law to ride a bike on a sidewalk.

Where the writer misses the mark is where she said civil disobedience is protected by law. Not quite, says I. civil disobedience, by its very nature, is breaking the law, isn't it? Standing on the sidewalk outside the courthouse with a sign protesting something isn't civil disobedience. When someone demonstrates and intentionally breaks the law, that doesn't mean they should be just ignored and let to continue that behaviour. As long as someone protests within the law, their speech is protected, as it should be. If they break the law, they get arrested. Free speech is one thing but to paraphrase an old saying, "You can't cry theater in a crowded fire house...". Ok, poor example, as that's not what these folks were arrested for but, if you don't want to get arrested, obey all the laws. If you deliberately break the law in order to get arrested and make a point, don't whine about it later.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Supes Pass Gay Marriage Resolution

The Fredster is wrong again. I thought the Board of Supervisors would stuff the Gay Marriage resolution away in some corner to avoid having to vote on the subject but they voted to support it. Just as well, as I'm more than sympathetic to the issue. I wondered how Rodoni would vote on it. Looks like he took the Arnold approach and used the "people voted for Prop 22...I must represent my constituents..." argument. That's actually the safest way out of that can of worms although, as I've said many times, just because the people voted for something doesn't make it right.

Whether it's proper for the Supervisors, or a city council, to vote for such empty resolutions in the first place bothers me the most but I won't lose any sleep over them passing this one.
Speaking of the Education- Industrial Complex (as I did yesterday), Sacramento Bee columnist, Dan Walters wrote a nice column today on some studies that supposedly show how much higher education helps our economy. Well done, Dan! He's been putting out some good stuff as of late. I especially like his closing paragraph.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Another School Closes

Looks like yet another local school will be shutting down due to declining enrollment. I'm actually surprised that district officials are refering to this as a "reorganization" or merger, rather than a closure. I would expect them to call it a closure if only to help generate the notion that the schools are in crisis.

Meanwhile, on the state level, lobbyists for the Educational- Industrial Complex will be hitting up the state for yet another increase in education spending. Who'd a thought they'd be doing that again so soon? Or, maybe they never stopped?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Eco Hostel and Trees Don't Mix

Why do I find this amusing? From an article in today's Eureka Reporter on why the Eco Hostel, proposed for the Eureka Waterfront, wouldn't be a good fit for at least one location in Arcata:

"We looked at a slope of land off of 14th and Union,..… They’ve got a lot of big old trees (and) we have to have solar access.”

Saturday, December 03, 2005

In Defense of Wal Mart

Not much to say today so, in honor of Chris Kerrigan's recently resurrected campaign against Wal Mart, I thought I'd just direct everyone to today's Wall Street Journal where they have a commentary on Wal Mart. Not much a fan of the WSJ, anymore, although they still offer some good commentary. Over the last few years they've become so War Party oriented that I don't read it as often as I used to.

I posted a response to this editorial. Wonder if they'll publish it? They haven't always accepted my comments but they did at least once before. Check the links at the bottom of the commentary for responses and, perhaps, add your own.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Hostel Fight Goes On

This week's North Coast Journal has a niece piece on the controversy over the Eco Hostel vs. Hampton Suites issue. It's written by our very own Hank Sims (You still with us Hank?). Well done. I'm still not really happy with either proposal.

One thing I've seen mentioned, not only Hank's story but other commentary as well, is that HSU President Rollin Richmond supports the Eco Hostel. Duh... and so what? Who cares what Richmond thinks? He's just an educrat and it makes perfect sense he'd support any extension on the Education- Industrial Complex. Nothing personal towards Richmond, I just don't see why his position gives his opinion any weight.

The fight over these two projects goes certainly beyond the merits, or lack thereof, of either proposal. This is more a fight between the Left and whatever other powers are in the fray. Seems to me more of a conflict between polarized sides that oppose each other simply because they're on different sides. I'll go out on a limb and say I lean towards the side of the anti Arcata contingent, as Sims alludes to. While the attempt of the Left to gain power in Eureka worries me, I don't want the Right to gain any more power, either. We need more Libertarians around here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Ice Age Looms

Ahhh, the good old days. Few remember back in the sixties (or was it the early seventies?) the talk was we'd be entering another ice age as opposed to the current hype over global warming. I still remember seeing an illustration on the front of the Orange County Register showing some port back east blocked with ice. A dreadful look into the future we were told.

It was good to see yet another voice in the wilderness suggesting a new ice age might be forthcoming. Global warming alarmists take heed!