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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Call Homeland Security, There’s A Comedian Running Amok In The County

“Sheriff, Sheriff, come quick!”

“What is it a bank robbery? Murder? Huge gangland slaying? Sick people smoking medical marijuana?"

“No, no, one of your deputies is making fun of you.”

“Better git mah gun. Notify the SWAT team.”

Both the New Times and the Tribune are now reporting that the various civil case filings in the Hedges bugging case now indicate that not only were regular procedures for investigating a criminal case ignored, it’s now alleged that what was going on wasn't crime, it was comedy.

According to the Tribune, “ . . . interview with human resources employee Dori Duke . . .” “paint a picture of turmoil in the narcotics until triggered when Hoving promoted Donovan to lead the unit, against Hedges’ opinion that he was unqualified. Hoving later removed Donovan.

“Donovan told the sheriff that Hoving makes fun of the sheriff and takes credit for anything that goes right and blames him for anything that goes wrong,” the lawsuit complaint stated in its account of Duke’s deposition.”

Happily, over at New Times, the Shredder asks the key question at this point: “What I’d like to know is how much this inferiority complex-driven drama has cost taxpayers. Thanks to Hedges’ taping, we’ve already had to foot the bill for a county investigation, an Attorney General investigation – they decided against prosecuting Hedges – and defending the county against a multi-million-dollar lawsuit that’s pending, not to mention whatever it cost t have Hoving retire before he was ready.”

I think our own Barney Fife has a whole lotta ‘splainin’ to do.

Talk About Comedy

Is John McCain joking? Does he really believe that a young woman who’s served a couple of years as governor of a lightly populated state, (a state whose residents get nice oil royalty checks in the mail to make living with caribou a bit easier) is ready to be a heartbeat away from being President of the most powerful country in the world at a turning point in our history, a tipping point in the global balance of power, a country beset with nearly overwhelming problems caused by a reckless corporatocracy, lethal Neo-Con policies, grotesque incompetence and cronyism, (policies McCaine supported overwhelmingly, despite his pretending to Mavrickhood) and a heedless, sleep-walking citizenry? Or is this just a cynical political ploy to garner the anti-abortion, NRA, Revenge-for-Hillary vote?

On the other hand, it may be a great fit. McCain likes to shoot from the hip and Palin likes to shoot mooses. It’s a fun pairing, but the question remains: Is McCain serious?

Your Saturday Poem

This from “Sure Signs," new and selected poems by Ted Kooser (Poet Laureate of the U.S.)

Sleeping Cat

My cat is asleep on his haunches
like a sphinx. He has gone down cautiously
into an earlier life, holding a thread
of the old world’s noises, and feeling his way
through the bones. The scratch of my pen
keeps the thread taut. When I finish
the poem, and the sound in the room goes slack,
the cat will come scampering back
into the blinding, bright rooms of his eyes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, CA for August 29, 2008

Counting Bees

All summer I waited for them. Sitting in the bright yellow Adirondack chair under the striped patio umbrella in Kifani’s Corner, coffee mug in hand, I watched the blooming flower beds for a sign of them. Improbably dressed huge yellow and black bumble bees came to scramble among the sweet smelling lavender spears. And insolent flies, annoying in their persistence, looking for dog poo. And dozens of white butterflies dancing over the Four o’Clocks. And hummingbirds, playing kamikaze above the lemon tree while screeching at me to fill their little feeders. But no bees.

Granted the weather hasn’t been normal. A sudden day of 109’ temperatures left many plants in the yard fried to a crumbly crisp, followed by chilly June Glooms in what should have been a sunny August. So it’s understandable that the normal number of bees out foraging might drop a bit through sheer confusion. But bees are notorious workers who normally let nothing keep them from their appointed rounds.

Except now something is causing a mass disappearance of the bees. Billions of them dying off in something called “colony collapse.” And the die off is a huge problem. Notes Al Meyerhoff, former director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s public health program, in and Op-Ed in the L.A. Times, “Here in the U.S., the bee kill is a big problem. Domesticated bees were brought to the U.S. on the Mayflower. Today, they contribute at least $15 billion to the nation’s agricultural economy. For example, California’s $2-billion-a-year almond crop is completely dependent on honeybees from about 1.5 million hives for pollinations. This year, more than 2.4 million bee colonies – 35% of the total – were lost in the U.S., according to the Apiary Inspectors of America. Some colonies collapsed in two days.”

The culprit or cause is unknown at this point. Some point to the possibility of some new disease organism infecting hives. Others, like Mr. Meyers, suspect our factory farming’s focus on “monoculture” – instead of rotating crops which discourages settled colonies of pests, we grow the same crop year after year and as a result have to use stronger and stronger pesticides to control the rapidly evolving bugs who come to live and dine on a sure thing. Other scientists suspect the synergy of our overall pesticide use is finally catching up to our little buzzing “canaries in the coal mine” – while one particular poison may not be harmful, combine it with the pea-soup of pesticides and chemicals we’re awash in, and it can spell real trouble.

Whatever the cause turns out to be, the present loss of honeybees is sure to be costly to farmers – not enough bees available to pollinate the crops means fewer crops and higher prices for the consumer. And a true world-wide colony collapse would be a real-world catastrophe since bees and plants have co-evolved together in a perfect symbiotic dance – no bees, no flowers, no flowers, no food.

And who could imagine a world without flowers? Or the bee’s hum on a warm summer’s day? It would be an unbearable world without color and music.

In my little corner of the world, instead of dozens of bees humming in the bushes, I have only been able to count about six bees, sometimes seven or eight. That’s far too few for a summer in full bloom. I can only hope the mystery will unravel and have a solution.

In his Op-Ed, Mr. Meyers ended with a quote from Rachel Carson, whose book “Silent Spring” helped to transform the way most of us now view nature. In a 1954 CBS documentary, Miss Carson warned us that, “Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we now have acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature. But man is part of nature, and his war is inevitably a war against himself.”

And in that war, the fate of the small honeybee is intricately tied up with our own future. So perhaps counting bees is as good a way as any to be reminded of a powerful irony: It is the small things underfoot, unseen by us in our blind, self-important rush that will determine our own survival. By taking care of the tiny natural systems all around us, we are taking care of our own lives as well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

This 'n That

Addition to the August 26 posting, 'No Water! No Water Nowhere!", the press release about the upcoming WH2O water event, Sept 13, from 1 - 4 pm. at the Los Osos Community Center, add the "contact" name, Maria Kelly.

Regional Water Quality Control Board's regular meeting at Aerovista Place in SLO, on Sept 4 - 5, 200. Item #15 will be an update on the Los Osos wastewater project. It's suggested that you call the RWQCB office on Thursday to find out the agenda for Friday, since item 15 will be heard on Friday, but at this point nobody knows how the agenda will be arranged. So, call first, if you're planning on attending.

Uh, Oh, Ron Crawford's Mom gets into the deal with his new posting, "Unlike My Mom's Garden Club, Taxpayers Watch Doesn't Have A Website," over at www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lordy, The Land of Duh Keeps Getting Bigger

Story in the Tribune yesterday, “State issues guide to legal pot use.” Our AG Jerry Brown – who failed to show up at Mr. Lynch’s medical marijuana federal trial in L.A. – has how issued “guidelines "– which can be ignored any time local sheriffs or cops please, and totally ignored by the Feds any time – are a breathtaking example of hypocritical cynicism at work. Doesn’t get any finer.

First up, apparently the great sin of medical marijuana is – profit. Weirdly, profit is the driving force for the development of all our other drugs – grotesque, obscene, mind-boggling profit on drugs that regularly either kill, maim, or bankrupt thousands of people a year. But for medical marijuana, Sorry, no profit. That would be . . . bad.

So there goes any attempt at government oversight on quality control or potency regulation or product safety (not dosed with THC or rat poison. Not that FDA oversight has been any great shakes, lately.) Nope, having those kinds of things might require the grower make a profit to justify all that expense. And it’s clear that our AG doesn’t care about what happens to people using medical marijuana to alleviate their suffering. So some people might die because the weed was adulterated. So what?

So, none of that. Sick people prescribed medical marijuana for relief of their pain and various other symptoms, will be at the mercy of amateur “loving hands at home” (or in the back yard), “compassionate caregivers” who may not know bubkis about growing pot, but hey, since it’s all non-profit and simply a hobby, who cares? So long as there’s no profit involved, local police and sheriffs can – IF THEY WISH – leave them alone. Or not, depending on whether, say, a local police chief is in need of some political distraction and so whistles in the feds to stir up a few newspaper headlines. Then, those “compassionate caregivers” are sitting ducks for the Feds.

Sitting ducks because they’re required to register with the state. So at any moment they can be hauled away to federal court in L.A. where no truth, let alone the whole truth, will be used to slam them into federal prison – no questions asked, not a whisper of the term “medical” allowed.

So much for what is called a “road map” [that] would serve as a shield against the federal government, which has waged war against the state’s pot rules by conducting raids and mounting court challenges.” notes the Tribune. “Hopefully the feds will back off in instances where people are really following these guidelines,” [AG] Brown said Monday in a telephone interview.”

Hopefully? The Attorney General of the State of California decrees some guidelines that continue to set up citizens for federal punishment and the AG is “hopeful?” the feds won’t continue to destroy people? Hope?

For sheer cynical manipulation, Jerry’s phony “guidelines”are hard to beat. ESPECIALLLY since he was nowhere to be found during other medical marijuana trials.

So much for our War on Drugs, which in the case of medical marijuana, is simply a War on The Sick.

Well, hell, Let ‘em die. Jerry’s ass is politically covered. Local enforcement agencies’ get a free ride. And the feds have lists of ducks in a barrel they can go shoot any time they wish to jack up their conviction statistics.

American justice and compassion. Finest kind.

And the Land of Wow Just Got Smaller

Again, yesterday's Tribune reports that Cuesta Equipment out on Broad St. (across from the Airport) is closing. Dang! I loved that place. It was a treat to wander around in there gawking at the enormous array of unfathomable whazzits and kerdinkles and whatchamacallits and framisdamnises and doohickies and What the . . . .?s -- large, really, really large, small, tiny, row after row of them, stacked in bins, on shelves, hanging from the rafters. A dreamscape of cunningly wrought . . . stuff.

And 99% of the stuff was as unfamiliar to me as objects dug out of an ancient Chaldean tell -- stuff archeologist will someday also dig up and wonder at, turning the objects every which way in a puzzle -- religious icon? piece of art? fastener on a war chariot? Part of a toilet? What's a "toilet?" A religious ceremonial device, perhaps?

This was no "hardware store," selling dish pans and brooms. No sir, this was all about hardware -- really serious, build-big-stuff hardware! And as such, being there was as magical as being allowed inside an enormous cabinet of curios, free to wander about and gawk and wonder. I will miss it.



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CSD Elections Starting Now

Chugga-chugga, the CSD elections are starting and the candidates are sending out info on their campaigns. Any CSD candidates running, please send me info on your campaign events and I'll post it here. First up, Karen Venditti's shindig:

Kick-Off Wine & Cheese Party for Supporters
to Elect Karen Venditti -- Positively!

Friday, September 5, 2008, 5:30 - 7:30 pm. at the home of Keith & Beth Wimer, 1101 14th St. (last house on the left before Elfin Forest)

RSVP by Sept 3 (805) 704-7255, or email: Elect Karen Venditti (www.ElectKarenNOW.com)

Please bring a bottle of your favorite wine to share, and join us for tapas to kick off the campaign to elect Karen to the LOCSD board.

vote Venditti . . . Positively!
No Water! No Water Nowhere!

Press release on upcoming Stop Wasting Water, Y'all event. Please plan to attend, pluuuueeeze, pretty plllueeeeze?


PRESS RELEASE


WH2O, Water Health 2 Outreach
Contact: WH2O
Phone 805-534-9890
Email eventinfor@wateroutreach.org
PO Box 6576
Los Osos, CA 93412

WH2O Announces Water Conservation and Water Quality Event

“SAVING OUR WATER… ONE DROP AT A TIME” – The public is invited to attend a water conservation event, held on Saturday, September 13, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at the South Bay Community Center on Los Osos Valley Road.

Hosted by WH2O, a non-profit group of volunteers committed to preserving our future water quality and supply, this free event will provide information and inspiration on how we as individuals can conserve water and protect the future of our coastal communities. It will host a variety of exhibitors, including water purveyors, related businesses, and non-profit groups, such as SLO GreenBuild, Surfrider, Sierra Club, and ECOSLO. Displays and information will include indoor and outdoor water use, cost effective ways to reuse and reduce water usage, responsible purchases of appliances in the future, and local services and products that support water conservation. There will be many door prizes and a grand prize of an Envirocycle Composter valued at $189.

A potluck dinner and ice cream social will follow the exhibits from 4:45 to 5:45. At 6:00 we will screen the movie “FLOW” (formerly FLOW: For Love of Water), a documentary about the global water crisis and how humanity and water are inextricably interrelated. Noah Smukler will lead the discussion to follow.

This event is free to all but donations will be welcome to support future efforts. For a complete list of participants, please contact Karen Venditti at: kjvenditti@sbcglobal.net .
Gone MissingVille

Yesterday, got a packet of info from the RWQCB concerning their upcoming meeting Sept 4-5 for a Los Osos Wastewater update. Included in it was a nifty little pie chart and bar graph to the County’s recent “spin” mailer concerning the STEP questionnaires. I say “spin” because the county’s questionnaire had one key thing missing – cost comparisons – which made the data returned suspect. I mean, how can you approve or disapprove of something when you have no idea what it will cost in comparison to something else?

But here’s what the RWQCB labeled “Exhibit “D,” that I’d label The Smoking Gun:

Of 4,200 STEP Questionaires sent out, 1726 or 42% were never returned. While 288 or 7% had no preference answer, so they’d fall into the category of, Uh, Have No Idea What Their Opinion Is, which makes for a grand total of 49% of this community that was out to lunch on the most important issue their community faces. Gone missing.

Of the rest, 9% strongly support STEP, 8% somewhat support, 4% somewhat oppose, 16 % strongly oppose and 14% are undecided. All “opinions,” of course, based on critically missing information.

So it will be interesting to see how those numbers change when the EIR and final costs come out. Will the Strongly opposed and Somewhat Opposers suddenly see the light if it turns out STEP turns out to be waaaaayyyy cheaper than gravity? Will the Undecideds sudden decide that, aw heck, they’ll go with whatever system is more expensive? Or less expensive? Will the county’s final report also have critically missing information?

Well, here in NowhereVille, where over 42% of the citizenry are permanently out to lunch or have moved to France, the answer is, as always: Stay Tuned.

And Now, From The Land of Duh

All over the country, college presidents are pushing to have a national discussion about lowering the drinking age to 18 because they’re all concerned about binge drinking among underage college kids. Oh, and also binge drinking among of-age college kids as well.

So, here, apparently, is the logic. Many college kids under the age of 21 regularly risk jail time, death on the highway from DUI, arrest for DUI, a permanently screwed up record that could haunt them or even ruin up their whole future careers, Mom & Dad’s fury, possible expulsion from college in order to get hammered out of their skulls.

College presidents think that lowering the drinking age so that 18 year-olds can legally drink will help the situation. It will certainly help the student in question by REMOVING one risk – arrest for underage drinking – while leaving all the others in place. And that will solve the problem of college kids getting hammered out of their skulls.

What am I missing here?

Called the Amethyst Initiative, which is taken from the ancient Greek belief that, what? Plunking an amethyst stone in your cup would prevent you from getting drunk? Which, as everyone knows, works amazingly well, now doesn’t it? And the whole idea is that if you lower the drinking age, you can somehow create a culture of responsible drinking since the underage kids wouldn’t have to sneak around, they could have kegger parties right out in the open. Like they do now. But they wouldn’t have to get hammered because their drinking would be legal.

Again, what am I missing here?

We live in an alcohol/drug culture. This Bud’s for YOU. Can’t have a “good time” unless you’re drinking. Mummy & Daddy having a stressful life? Well, just hoist a few, pop a few pills, no problema. The national ad campaigns say “Drink Responsibly,” instead of “Why do you need to ingest a harmful, mood-altering, dangerous drug into your body and brain in the first place?”

It’s considered weird to have a special event – art show opening, concert, special charitable benefit – without offering a drug to people who apparently can’t do without it long enough to view some paintings, listen to some music or donate money to a good cause. And for many kids, a party isn’t a party unless you’ve vomited in the rose bushes, peed on some neighbor’s lawn and passed out in your dorm room. Comes with the territory of being an 18-year-old in a Drunk/Drug culture.

So until this culture faces its own actions and examines a set of very powerful cultural messages concerning the use of mind-mood-body-altering “drugs,” kids will watch and listen and learn and emulate. Legal or not.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Velvet Panzer

I first met Emily Polk when, as a SWAP (Small Wilderness Area Preservation) member, I was helping with a fund-raising, community outreach effort. We were gong to put together an exhibition of Emily Polk’s paintings and drawings, so another member and I went to her house to meet her.

As the founder of SWAP in 1970, Emily was a “legend” to SWAPish folk, but was also a much traveled, multi-talented woman of surpassing presence and relentless courtesy – every inch a Lady. Which is why every time I think about her, I have to smile.

In the late 60’s, after stumbling into what is now the Los Osos Oaks Preserve, Emily steamed up to Sacramento and into those dens of cigar-chomping, liquor-swilling iniquity, -- i.e. the offices of our elected representatives, that band of boozing Pols under the whip of the likes of Jessee Unruh. I know those old boys took one look at Emily and smirked that they’d just waltz that little old gal around a bit and they’d soon have her out the door empty handed.

They didn’t know Emily. Under that fa├žade of exquisitely polished manners, beat the heart of a Panzer Division Commander. And when Emily finished with them, those old boys were laying flat on the carpet with tank treads running up their backsides, wondering what the hell had just happened, while Emily walked out the office door, legislation in hand allowing for the formation of SWAP areas, including our own beloved Elfin Forest and the Oaks Reserve, among another other now-public places, saved forever.

Emily Polk passed away Aug 16, reports the Tribune. She was 98. God better look out.

Another Poem Especially Apt for a Work-A-Day Monday Morning

Once again, Kay Ryan from her book “Say Uncle.”

Dutch

Much of life
is Dutch
one-digit
operations

in which
legions of
big robust
people crouch

behind
badly cracked
dike systems

attached
by the thumbs

their wide
balloon-pantsed rumps
up-ended to the
northern sun

while, back
in town, little
black-suspendered
tulip magnates
stride around.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Full Metal Tropical Retard

Big flap from many quarters over the use of the words “retard” in the satirical movie, "Tropic Thunder.” Yesterday, I believe, Maria Shriver, Mrs. Terminator, had an op ed piece in the paper, and Becky Crowe of Nipomo sent in a letter to the Tribune, “ Say no to ‘R-word,’ saying that “Those who know [her daughter] would not equate the word “retard” with [her].”

Ms. Crowe noted that “The word hurts, even if it is not directed at a person with intellectual disabilities.” Actually, it’s one of those words that hurts only because it has been directed at a person with intellectual disabilities and/or then hurled at people to imply they have intellectual disabilities or any other intellectual or physical failings. Like the word “dunce,” which originally referred to the wrings of John Duns Scotus, of all people, “whose once accepted writings were ridiculed in the 16th century and now refers to one who is dull-witted or stupid.” (Interesting to note that next to dunce and dunce cap comes dunderhead in the dictionary.)

In short, “retard, retarded” was a perfectly good word, descriptive and useful in many ways – retardare, to slow up esp. by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment, impede, to delay academic progress by failure to promote, etc. and it isn’t until you get to the 4th listing under “retardation,” that you get to “less than normal intellectual competence usually characterized by an IQ of less than 70," and so forth. In fact, for years it was part of the professional lexicon of educators, medicos, re-hab specialists, appearing in their various texts and official forms. Until “political correctness” arrived – along with new information as to just how “unretarded” so many “retarded” people actually were – and it fell out of use. Oddly, a friend who worked for years with the profoundly handicapped children for the school district told me that the word has recently reappeared in some of the official paperwork. So, perhaps it’s back in its descriptive form again.

But no matter, used as a sling and an arrow, it is intended to be offensive. Ironically, the use of the word in “Tropic Thunder” is not directed at developmentally challenged people – it’s directed at a developmentally challenged Hollywood mind-set that milks tragedy and disability and human suffering for the Oscar gold, but . . . not too much . . . just enough to garner the prizes by demonstrating great acting chops, but without disturbing the great haircut and beautiful make up.

Interestingly, this movie and the ker-fluffle it kicked up certainly presented an opportunity to educate the public about a few things: Stereotypes blind us to a far more amazing reality on the ground, (what we are learning about our capacities continues to astonish); even when it hits its target, satire will likely have collateral damage for those looking for it; and mean people will always figure out a way to corrupt perfectly good words and use them as weapons to hurt other people.

It’s what mean “retarded” people do.

Oh, My God, Hide The Silverware! The Swiftys are BAaaaacccckkkkk

Newspaper notes that “Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who helped pay for the devastating attacks on the military record of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry in 2004, has paid for a television ad that assails Barack Obama over his ties to a founder of a violent radical group.

“Simmons, who is also a major fundraiser for John McCain, donated $2.87 million that a newly formed nonprofit group, the American Issues Project, has used for the ad, a report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission shows.”

Conflation and false conclusions, here we come. Again. Last time it was, among others, T. Boone Pickens shelling out his gazillions to fund the Swift Boaty Boys (now he’s drilling for ways to tap the taxpayers for his wind scheme, which will make him more gazillions. Also, if I understand correctly, he offered a reward of a million bucks if the “facts” in the Swift Boat ads he helped finance were wrong and when those facts were indeed proven wrong he reneged on the bet. So much for honor among thieves.)

So put on your Crap Hats and get ready for it to rain bull pucky.

Well, this election is a watershed moment in Corporate America, so this battle will get really, really nasty. And, no, it’s not about Freedom and Democracy or any of that ridiculous stuff. It’s about Money and who gets to stay at the trough until the last dog dies and the last bit of grub is swilled up and the husk of the country is left sucked empty and discarded. That’ll bring out the big hungry boys so this mud fest will get really, really vicious.

The only question is this: Are the American people dumb enough to fall for it . . . again? We’ll see.

Yes, Your Honor, I Promise To Tell The Half Truth, The Partial Truth and Nothing But Only Some Of The Truth, So Help Me God.

In this weeks Bay News (www.tolosapress.com) Editor Neil Farrel’s opinion piece, “Why No Compassion for Charles Lynch?” – Lynch was convicted in federal court for operating a legal medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay – in which Neil asks where, in this particular trial, “whole truth” went to. Notes Farrell, “How could the jury deliver a just decision when they were denied hearing ALL the facts? What would it hurt for jurors to hear that Lynch was not some sleazy drug kingpin but was instead a respectable, taxpaying businessman, operating in compliance with city and state law and in plain sight at a storefront in downtown Morro Bay? That doesn’t sound like a drug dealer to me.

“This is not Carlos Escobar, the infamous Columbian cocaine cartel leader (and terrorist). Charles Lynch is not the Mafia. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce.”

Indeed. Well, for all of you, I have two words: “Jury Nullification.” I refuse to serve on juries of cases dealing with drug use. (If there are other crimes, drunk driving, robbery, violence, whatever, yes, but drug use itself? No. Refuse.) Our “war on drugs” is one of the most incredibly insane wars we’ve every waged and the fact that it’s still going on in the face of both increased medical knowledge and facts on the ground means that the war isn’t about “drugs,” it’s about money, power, politics – lots of stuff but not “drugs.” And it makes about as much sense as putting people in prison who have diabetes – THAT’LL TEACH ‘EM NOT TO ABUSE INSULIN!!!

And For More On Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Glen Starkey’s latest New Times lead story, “May I have some more, sir?” in the August 21 New Times (www.newtimesslo.com) is a doozie. Prison rehab. Here’s Starkey: “Currently, nearly two-thirds of the parolees sent back to prison are sent back not because they were convited of a new crime, but because of a technical violation – usually a failed or missed drug test. Two-thirds of California’s prisoners have substance abuse histories, but because drug addiction – unlike alcohol addiction – is considered a crime and not a disease, we’ve created a revolving door in our prison system.

“Here, the experts say, is the crux of the problem. The CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] can only play the hand its dealt . For real change to occur, the people of California and their representatives in state government need to have the political will to change the justice system, fully fund rehabilitation programs for all prisoners, and lower the prison population by better assessing who should and shouldn’t be locked up. Only then will a bill like AB900 have a chance to succeed. Otherwise we should expect more of the same failed system.”

A failed system creating massive amounts of wasted lives and human suffering and – here’s the kicker – costing the taxpayers a bundle while doing nothing but costing taxpayers a bundle.

And there’s the sick irony. Ask the shrieking anti-tax types, let’s spend $6,000 per child in kindergarten forward to ensure their reading problems are caught early and fixed and any other learning disabilities are corrected for, and the answer will be NO!!!! But ask the same shrieking anti-tax types for $40,000 a year to keep a drug addict (who was dyslexic and started failing early in school because of it and wasn’t helped because there was no program to catch him as a kid) and you’ll hear SURE!!!! Pure nuts.

Starkey’s article is excellent. Check it out.

And Now Your Sunday Poem

Library of Congress’s sixteenth Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan, from her book of collected poems, “Say Uncle”

Don’t Look Back

This is not
a problem
for the neckless.
Fish cannot
recklessly
swivel their heads
to check
on their fry;
no one expects
this. They are
torpedoes of
disinterest,
compact capsules
that rely
on the odds
for survival,
unfollowed by
the exact and modest
number of goslings
the S-necked
goose is –

who if she
looks back
acknowledges losses
and if she does not
also loses.

Friday, August 22, 2008

God Bless The Child . . . .

Sheriff Hedges ducked a bullet, apparently. The “Attorney General’s Office won’t persue criminal case over eavesdropping incident in 2006,” sayeth the Aug 21 Tribune. Seems they don’t feel there’s “sufficient evidence to sustain any criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

As you remember, Hedges was accused of, well, uh, “eavesdropping,” “wiretapping,” “listening in on,” “videotaping and recording” “a meeting between former Chief Deputy Gary Hoving and Sgt. Jay Donovan.” The reason why those words are in quotation marks is because everyone was dancing around just what it was Hedges was accused of doing. Hedges said it was part of a criminal investigation within the department and whatever he did was perfectly legal. Mr. Hoving disagreed and sued Hedges in Federal Court on charges of violating his civil rights and due process & etc. And now, after a year-long investigation, the State of California declined to prosecute. And the full report on all this is buried somewhere away from public snooping, but will likely come to light at some point as Hoving’s federal case clanks along.

Which, come to think of it, holds a great deal of irony. It was claimed that Hedges was the one who ignored state law concerning the legality of medical marijuana and called in the Federal DEA boys to bust the Morro Bay Medical marijuana dispensary and put Lynch in the slammer. Lynch was later tried and convicted in federal court. The same court Hedges now faces in the Hoving matter. State says Lynch is “legal,” Feds say . .. Naw. State says Hedges is “legal,” Feds say . . . . ?

Well, Waltz me around again, Willy. Stay tuned. With the Federal case, maybe we’ll finally be able to find out just what the Sheriff was doing. And why he was doing it.

Gone Missing

Meanwhile, I’ve got a job for Sheriff Hedges. Seems that “The White House is missing as many as 25 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office, according to an internal White House draft document obtained by the Associated Press.”

How convenient, as The Church Lady would say.

Yep, the goon squad is dumping the e-and-paper trail prior to scampering out the door, betting maybe that the statute of limitations will run out, at least. No accountability for these boys.

Well, I say, put Sheriff Hedges on the case. He could “videotape” them, maybe eavesdrop some and get the goods in order to bring ‘em to justice.

Will It Never End?

First, the California state Supreme Court ruled that gay folks are citizens and as such deserve full rights as other citizens, including the right to get married. Next up, the L.A. Times reports that the same California Supreme Court determined that “Doctors may not discriminate against gays and lesbians in medical treatment, even if the procedures being sought conflict with physicians’ religious beliefs.

“In its second major decision advancing gay rights this year, the state high court ruled that religious physicians must obey a state law that bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

“The 1st Amendment’s right to the free exercise of religion does not exempt defendant physicians here from conforming their conduct to the . . . antidiscrimination requirements,” Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for the court. . . .”

And so the case can now go to trial and will likely open up an interesting can of worms.

The case stemmed when a doctor refused to perform an artificial insemination on a lesbian patient, citing religious ground for refusing to do so. The doctor claimed it wasn’t the “lesbianness” but the “unmarriedness” of it and that she would refuse artificial insemination for any unmarried woman. “Asked whether [Dr Christine] Brody would perform the procedure on a married lesbian, [the Dr.’s attorney] Pedrova said, “I don’t know.”

So likely that and other questions will come up at trial. Interestingly, the issue may be mooted somewhat since gay folks can now legally get married in Calif, so the “unmarriedness” of it all is, for now, off the table.

And that leaves us with the Lesbianness of it all. And we’re back to square one with religious scruples meeting the Hippocratic oath and the non-discrimination statutes in State law.

And what does a “religiously scrupled” physician do if their religion tells them that gay people are “abominations?” Tell the person who comes into the office, “Sorry, I don’t treat abominations. You’ll have to go down the hall to Dr. Jones. He takes abominations.” Does that violate their Hippocratic Oath?

And besides abominations, are Doctors allowed to refuse patients who, for example, smoke? As in, “Sorry, you smoke. There’s the door. I don’t accept patients who smoke.” Would that violate state discrimination law?

Or a doctor who believed in Zero Population Growth principles and refused to continue to treat a patient who wanted a third child? “Sorry, that’s one too many for the planet. There’s the door. Buh-bye?”

And since Doctors are human beings and human beings are human beings, there’ll always be the case of both doctor and patient looking at one another and saying, “Eeeuuuuuuu. You stink. I’m outta here!”

Hmmmm, as I said. Can of worms.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? How’s About A Gazillion?


August 18, 2008
Editorial The New York Times,

The Corporate Free Ride

Here is a crazy idea to address the United States’ gaping fiscal deficit: persuade corporate America to start paying taxes.
An investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that almost two-thirds of companies in the United States usually pay no corporate income taxes. Big companies, those with more than $50 million in sales or $250 million in assets, are less likely to avoid Uncle Sam altogether. Still, about a quarter of them report no tax liability either.
The G.A.O., which looked at tax returns from 1998 through 2005, does not tell us exactly how so many corporations managed to avoid the taxman. It simply notes that they were able to record sufficient expenses — salaries, interest and “other deductions” — to cancel out their taxable income.
We find it hard to believe that some two-thirds of American companies fail to turn a profit. What we find easier to believe is that corporations have become increasingly skilled at tax-avoidance strategies, including transfer pricing — overcharging their American units for products and services provided by subsidiaries abroad to artificially reduce their profits here.
The first place to look for money to close the budget deficit should be among the high-income individuals who have been treated so generously by the Bush administration. But corporate America has been getting a free pass for far too long. And the seeming ease with which corporations escape the taxman altogether compounds a fundamental unfairness in the American economy.
Even as corporate profits have soared — reaching a record of 14.1 percent of the nation’s total income in 2006 — the percentage of these profits paid out in taxes is near its lowest level since the 1930s.
It is a uniquely American paradox. This country’s corporate tax rates are among the highest in the industrial world, yet the taxes that corporations pay are among the lowest. With an enormous budget deficit and pressing demands for better health care and other social programs, America can no longer afford free riders.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A “Civil” Forum, But A “Religious Test”

It has long been a – dare I say “sacred?” – belief that there would be no “religious” test required for those who wish to hold public office. That belief was phony, of course. There have always been “religious” tests imposed on all our candidates. In a country that pretends to pride itself on separation of church and state, a nation that pretends to be civil and secular, it has rightly been said that no atheist or agnostic would ever get elected president.

But last night’s bizarre televised vetting by Pastor Rick Warren has set a new low in public discourse. And is a good indication of just how far this country has sunk in pandering to the “religious right.”

There the presidential candidates were, mouths wide open like horses waiting for the Vet to check their teeth, as Pastor Warren, before his huge audience in his huge evangelical Saddleback Church, asked them to explain how their religious faith played out in their daily lives. And instead of saying, “Sorry, Bub, but my religious life is between me and my Maker, none of your beeswax,” each candidate was falling over themselves to let the audience know that they had the “right kind” of religion (personally saved by Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, who washed their sins away, & etc. Thank God neither had said, “Well, Pastor Warren, I just recently became an Orthodox Jew.” The ceiling of the mega-church would have caved in, killing all contestants and audience alike.)

No, we now must make sure our presidential candidates take a public religious test to make sure they have the “right” religion because God knows the country’s still spooked by the spectre of Mit Romney becoming president, a man whom comedian Bill Mahr says “believes in magic underwear,” not to mention a man who belongs to a religious sect that is still tainted by the ghosts of anti-black religious doctrine and foundational beliefs in polygamy. Oooo, wrong sort of religion. A country filled with a good chunk of people who think Obama is a “muslim.” Oooo, wrong sort of religion. Nope, give us snake handlers every time

On the other hand, this public vetting was called a “civil forum,” and it was delightfully “civil” – no “gotcha” zingers, no yelling talking heads. Just the Pastor trying to ask open-ended questions and then letting the candidates answer how they would – Obama with his measured cadences and careful nuances; McCain with his “my friends” campaign trail sound-bites and folksy anecdotes.

Indeed, this quieter forum allowed the candidates lots of rope to go hang themselves. The result for me was a creepy revelation: That awful realization that McCain was simply a very old George Bush. It was as if Bush had been put into one of those Fast Forward Time Machines and out he stepped, twenty years later. There was the same swagger, the same false macho bravado --My friends, I’ll go to the gates of hell to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice! Shades of “We’ll smoke ‘em out! Dead or Alive!” This from a man who’d have trouble getting to the gates of JFK International, a man who’s clearly excited by war (the prospect of armed confrontation with Russia seemed to energize him into an aggressive posture, eyes blazing, talking about Georgia being a “lovely country” – a damsel in distress and in need of our armed rescue?), yet a man apparently unaware that his army, the real people who would actually be expected to go to those hellish gates, is stretched to the breaking point in a country that’s broke from warfighting. There also was the jokey, heh-heh, hail fellow, back slapping posturing and the meaningless political buzz word sound bites. Creepy.

But, the forum did allow McCain to make some of his positions absolutely clear: He is pro life, anti-choice, and he will appoint more Supreme Court members like Roberts and Scalia, men who would happily strike down Roe v Wade and didn’t think much of habeas corpus, and he would shun justices like Ginsberg and Stevens who supported the Great Writ that is enshrined in the Constitution. He would also support a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, thinks more private school vouchers will solve the educational crisis, and doesn’t believe in raising taxes, not even on the “rich,” but offered no information as to what he’d do about our dire financial situation. Presumably the Blood of the Lamb will take care of that.

There’ll be some upcoming Obama/McCain debates, which can test the debating skill of the candidates. But this forum – a civil one – despite the clear religious context -- was most interesting for allowing the candidates to speak their minds. Let’s hope the voters are actually listening to what they SAY and then will go back to check their voting records so they can be clear as to what they actually DID and then compare the two to get an inkling as to what they are likely to DO, should they get elected, and then, most important of all, go take a factual reality check – Turn off Fox News and check out some more credible sources of information – of what’s actually happening on the ground.

Or, better yet, get a copy of Andrew J. Bacevich’s new book, “The Limits of Power; The End of American Exceptionalism,” and or track down a transcript of his interview with Bill Moyers on Moyers’ recent PBS Journal ( www.pbs.org ). Bacevich has outlined the disease that is killing us as a country with stunning clarity and unblinking honesty. That interview was one of the most succinct, powerful things I’ve seen, ever. And naturally, will be seen by only a tiny handful when it should be mandatory viewing for the whole nation, certainly before November’s election.

Zelig Now Faces a Challenger

Months ago I snorted at the headline that our State Senator Abel Maldonado was trying to get his name listed on the Democratic ballot so he could run unopposed (except by himself) in the upcoming election since there was no Democratic challenger. The whole silly scheme reminded me of Wood Allen’s film, “Zelig,” about this time traveling character who kept appearing everywhere with everyone during every famous moment. Reminded me of Maldonado who makes sure he’s at the elbow of the powerful at every photo op. And in this case, if he had to pretend to become a democrat in order to get on the ballot twice, Oh well.

Well, pretty soon I noticed people out in front of the supermarket with petitions to get Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo on the ballot to run against Maldonado. Fitzgerald got enough signatures and now it’ll be a horse race, sort of. The money machine always favors the incumbent so it likely won’t be much of a horse race. But at least Zelig will now have to make more of an effort than just showing up for the cameras.

Lucky Atascadero

Biz Buzz in the Tribune, Los Osos FAMOUS Sylvester’s hamburgers, is going to open shop in Atascadero. So all you north county folks are in for a yummy treat! New place will be at El Camino Real and West Mall Ave and is scheduled to open in Oct. Get ready! Bring napkins.

And Finally, A Question For CA Voters in November

Comedian/actress/talk-show-host Ellen DeGeneres is supposed to be getting married to actress Portia de Rossi this weekend. The two have been together since December 2004. The wedding is supposed to be “small, intimate ceremony with only a few close friends and family.” Said DeGeneres, “It’s something that we’ve wanted to do and we want it to be legal and we are very, very excited.”

So, here’s the question for California voters. Are you mean enough to vote for Prop 8, which would take away Ellen’s right to marry the person she loves, and force her to get un-married?

Personally, I think that would be really, really mean. But, we’ll have to see where my fellow citizens fall on the Mean-O-Meter come November.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Call Your Insurance Agent! It’s The CSD Elections

The Tribune reports that candidates standing for the two seats for the Los Osos CSD are David B. Dugan, Maria Kelly, Marshall E. Ochyliski, Alon Perlman and Karen Vendetti. (Both Kelly and Vendetti are presently serving on the TAC)

I commend them for their courage and urge the winners to immediately hoik themselves down to their local insurance agent to take out a HUGE umbrella policy to guard themselves from being sued PERSONALLY by whoever claims to be a “member” of the Medean Taxpayers Watch. And I would urge them as their first vote in office, to make sure the District has lawsuit insurance for Board members in place as well.

Over at the Bay News,( www.tolosapress.com ) is Jack Beardwood’s story that “Tacker and Schicker Will Not Run Again,” in which CSD Board member Schicker states that she felt that, "the CSD would benefit by having a new ‘energized’ person on the board” and added, “I’m lucky I’m still alive, to tell you the truth.”

I’ll say. Here in MedeaVille, it’s a miracle ANYONE would stand for ANY office. So my hat’s off to those who have.

Also in Beardwood’s story, an interesting observation by CSD Boardmember Tacker that the CSD is dysfunctional, “it is being kept alive by the County and LAFCo[the Local Agency Formation Commission] to keep attorneys paid. The CSD is a buffer from litigation on the county. The contractors believe if the CSD is abolished they can sue the county. To keep the country free of the Tri-W debt is why we’re still alive.

“Asked if the CSD should be abolished, she replied, ‘I wonder why it’s in existence. I ask the question, ‘Is this our purpose to continue to pay the attorneys and continue to fight the Battle of Taxpayers Watch? Or is it our job to provide real services to the community at a reasonable cost?”

Ah, good questions all and one of the reasons I think we need a Truth & Reconciliation Hearing – civil and criminal liability immunity for all who tell the truth, instant court and jail time for those who lie – at which we may finally get a chance to find out just what happened to this community. Subpoena power for this hearing would go all the way to the Water Board in Sacramento to get some folks up there to ‘splain some emails, among other things. The hearing would be long but very, very interesting.

Meantime, we’ll just have to settle for CSD attorneys defending the community from Medea & Her Brood.

At any rate, good luck to the candidates and thank you for standing for election.

Speaking of ‘Splaining . . .

The Aug 14th Trib and again the editorial of the 15th concerned an ATV bill that would require parents to supervise kids under 16 while riding on Oceano Dunes in various off-road vehicles. Seems Doctors among others are getting sick of seeing kids coming into their emergency rooms with horrendous injuries caused by careless, inexperienced, poorly supervised and trained kids crashing out in the Dunes. You know, kids often so severely injured and whose parents may well have no insurance so the TAXPAYERS get to pick up the bill?

Anyway, this ATV Bill, which, of course, died in some committee, where most bills go to quietly die, was shot down, in part, because the State Parks folks estimated “it would cost between $9 million and $12 million [of tax money] to implement, with the biggest chunk of that going to train young riders [for free] who don’t already have safety certificates.”

??? The state has to cough up money to “train young riders who don’t already have safety certificates?”

When did it happen that if I want to get a drivers license, the STATE paid for my driving lessons? Was I not looking when that law passed? So what’s with this? The State has to pay to train young kids on ATV safety before they can drive off in a State Park and kill themselves and each other? What?

I have a modest alternative proposal: Go to the Oceano Dunes. If you own your own ATV equipment, before you get on the dunes you present the ranger at the entrance kiosk your certificate of proficiency (ATV operator’s license) and proof of medical insurance (just like you present your drivers license and proof of insurance when stopped by the police). If you rent the ATVs there, present same to the person running the rental business. No operator’s license, no proof of medical insurance, no ATV’s allowed in the park and if you’re caught riding on the dunes without same, great big massive fine and confiscation (just like is done if you’re driving around with no license and insurance.).

Ditto for any and all kids in the family. Kid has no certificate, no insurance, parents go to jail for endangering a minor. Or, better yet, jail time for child abuse.

And where to these folks get their operator safety ATV certification? Same place I have to go to learn to drive – Driving School, paid for out of my own pocket.

So, I don’t understand why this bill failed and what or why the State thinks it has to pay to safety train these kids. Let’s hope Maldonado, the bill’s sponsor, “who quietly withdrew it after he learned about the cost,” will rethink this.

Leeettttt the Sun Shine, Letttt the Sun Shine In . . . .

The Tribune, 8/15 again, notes: PG&E to buy power from 2 solar farms.” And the New Times (8/14--21) ,” Local Students may get a chance to study solar technology.”

Woa, nice lurch into the 21st century. PG&E has “entered into agreements to purchase 800 megawatts of power from two solar plants to be built on the Carizo Plain,” while “Atascadero Unified School district looks at partnering with solar firms,” to set up a training program that could lead to “. . . a lot of jobs, green collar jobs. I think we need to prepare our students to get into those jobs. It’s a growing industry and one we can’t ignore,” says George Galvan, trustee, Atascadero School Board.

Amen. Nice move. Now if the Sate and Feds can get moving on both power grids and systems and law changes that would allow homeowners to participate in making and selling electricity to that grid, we can start calling some of those Green Atascadero Graduates to come put solar panels on our homes so we can chug off into our Brave New World.

Karma Times Ten. OMG! I Take It All Back , Maybe

Few days ago I reported feeling a distinct schaden-freudenish glee at the plight Ed McMahon was in – house in foreclosure – because I thought it was karmic retribution for all the years he promised me millions pitching for the Publishers Clearing House and all the while giving MY nice money to other people.

Now comes the hideous headline in the Times: “Trump lends helping wallet to McMahon.” The Donald wants to buy Ed’s house and lease it back to him. Can you imagine The Donald as your landlord, comb-over shellacked in place, bursting into your house every month screeching, My Rent! You’re Fired! Gimme Rent! And pursing his guppy lips at you, pbloik-pbloik . . .month after month after month? Gaaagghhhh, it’s a karmic fate worse than death. Even Ed McMahon deserves better.

On the other hand, the Times story does go on to say that McMahon had listed his house for “more than $7 million but [it] dropped in increments, winding up this weekend at $4.6 million. McMahon purchased the house in 1990 for $2.6 million, according to public records."

Hmmm, let’s see. In a country seeing people literally being put out on the street, with people losing their jobs and homes, I buy a house for $2.6 and have to sell it in a distress, fire-sale type deal for $4.6 and walk away with $2 million smackaroonies.

Aw, Poor me.

On second thought, Landlord Trump may be karmic justice after all.

And finally, the Long View

When all seems so grim and scary, there’s a story by Randolph Schmid, AP, about skeletons uncovered in the shifting sands of the Sahara, of bodies buried when the Sahara was green and lush and strange creatures roamed the plains and forests and two sets of prehistoric people lived and died and were buried by those who loved them amidst flowers and jewelry and other treasured artifacts. Most touching of which was a woman buried with two young children, their skeleton fingers still entwined.

The bones being uncovered are of two distinct races of people living in the same general area thousands of years apart. The Kiffian peoples were tall (often well over 6’) hunter- fishermen. And thousands of years later, a shorter, slighter people, the Tenerians, appeared and had apparently added cattle herding to their hunting/gathering lifestyle.

Soon, time and weather erased all traces of their existence as the green Sahara turned into the desert we know today. And under the earth, the bodies lay until wind and time blew the sand away and like time travelers, they appeared once again to touch us lightly on our own shoulders – whispered reminders – as we were and are now, so shall you be.

Another reminder of how short our lives are, how fragile and fleeting history and memory are, yet these ancient’s all too human care and love for one another remains the timeless message.

A Note

Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on the sand, rise on wings;

to be a dog,
or stroke its warm fur,

to tell pain
from everything it’s not’

to squeeze inside events,
dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes.

An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held
with the lamp switch off’

and if only once
to stumble on a stone,
end up soaked in one downpour or another,

mislay your keys in the grass’
and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes’

and to keep on not knowing
something important


--Wislawa Symborska

Friday, August 15, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolusa Press, SLO, CA, for August 15, 08

The Ignorance of Bliss

The documentary playing at the Palm Theatre in SLOTown, “A Man Called Pearl,” is priceless. Pearl Fryar, a sharecropper’s son living in Bishopville, S.C., first decided he wanted to get the community’s “Garden of the Month” award – first time ever for a black man. Then, undeterred by “facts,” he continued working for years, his vision growing and expanding to become an extraordinary garden of amazing abstract topiaries that has become world-famous and is now a destination for tour buses.

It was a miracle of ignorance. As Mr. Fryar recounts, a horticulturalist came to see his garden to inform him that he thought it was impossible to do what he’d done with those trees, and Mr. Fryer fessed up to the camera that he likely made his trees do what he made them do because he didn’t know it couldn’t be done.

That observation reminded me of a similar encounter in my own life. Though I had been trained in painting and drawing, I had received no instruction in ceramic sculpture. Blissfully ignorant, I got what few books there were on the subject out of the library, plus a few general books on pottery. Then I set to work.

Several years later, I was teaching a summer Adult Ed class on ceramic figure sculpture at a local recreation center. As was the custom, I brought some of my work to put into the display case in the hallway as examples for the students to see what I was doing. One student, like the horticulturalist in the film, stared for a long time at a large bull and rider caught in a horrendous fall, the rider, legs and arm akimbo, flying off the bull while attached only by his one hand on the bull’s riding harness. The student asked what kind of armature I had used to create this highly improbable piece and I replied, “Didn’t use an armature. I just sculpted it then hollowed it out for firing.”

“You can’t do something like that without using an armature,” came the adamant reply. “Well, there it is,” I answered, and then proceeded to pick it up to turn it over for her inspection. She peered carefully into the hollowed out piece. Nope, no armature.

“It can’t be done,” she repeated.

At first I could tell she thought I was lying. But even after inspecting it, she was still convinced – despite the evidence of her eyes and hands – that the piece couldn’t be done.

Like the horticulturist in the film, so strong was her grip on her received wisdom that it was impossible for her to believe what she was seeing in front of her face. And for me, as for Mr. Fryar, I was lucky I had no paradigm when I started that piece, otherwise I would never have done it, because someone would have told me, It can’t be done. And I likely would have believed his reality, not my own blissful ignorance.

And, in truth, the fact the thing survived the kiln at all was also testimony to master potter Jerry Patrick, who supervised the firing. That, and sheer dumb luck.

And so it goes with so many of our human endeavors. The dreamers and fools among us don’t bother with such made up nonsense as paradigms. Since they don’t see the box they’re supposed to be thinking inside of, they are always thinking outside the box. And with sheer dumb luck, they create something improbable, even “impossible.”

For every person locked inside some slogan-created reality – global climate change is a myth, Iraq’s oil will pay for the war, offshore drilling will give us energy independence – there are a few people already operating outside any boxes of received wisdom or even received “facts.”

And thank goodness for it. Mr. Fryar’s life was hemmed round with societal chains forged long before he was born but still firmly, if subtly, in place. Free from “facts,” he created his own reality. I didn’t know any better and so was free to create an improbable sculpture. And as for that annoying kid in the classroom who refuses to color inside the lines? The one you’re convinced will end up in jail or on the streets? With luck, he will change the world.

Dreamers and fools always do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Nation Running On Stupid

From the L.A. Times, Aug 12, an article on new rules being rushed through by the Dept of Interior (gotta rape and pillage and get those building contracts signed before the Prez leaves office, make money while the sun shines) that would prevent the endangered species act from being “’a back door to climate change policy,’ the Interior secretary (Dirk Kempthorne) said.”

“In a statement Monday, the Interior Department declared that even if a federal action such as the permitting of a power plant would lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions, the decision would not trigger a federal review “because it is not possible to link the emissions to impacts on specific listed species such as polar bears.”

“The draft rules obtained by the Associated Press would bar agencies from assessing the emissions from projects that contribute to global warming and its effect on species and habitats.”

“The new rules were expected to be formally proposed immediately, officials told the Associated Press. ‘That would give the administration enough time to impose the rules before November’s presidential election. A new administration could freeze any pending regulations or reverse them, but that process could take months. Congress could overturn the rules through legislation, but that could take even longer.”

Well, just another reason why have absolutely NO confidence in anything this administration does or says . . . “ . . it is not possible to link the emissions to impacts on specific listed species such as polar bears.”

Uh, Secretary Kempthorn, take your chewing gum out of your ears, sit down and pay close attention. Polar bears require thick sea ice. Lots of it. They live on it all winter, far away from land and thus protected from land bears. Females den up in it to give birth. They stand on it to snare seals when the seals come to their regular breathing holes in the ice. While polar bears are great swimmers, if there are larger and larger gaps in the sea ice, the bears will drown while swimming to get to the other side of huge open areas. There are more and more large open sea areas because global warming (caused by combustion emissions, such as power plants) is causing the ice pack to melt earlier and results in larger and larger areas of open sea. It is predicted that in a relatively short period of time, there will be no polar ice cap.

No ice, no polar bears.

See? Simple.

But clearly, not for a nation running on (and being run by) stupid.

Thank Goodness, Then, There’s Some Smart In SLOTown

Tribune reports that the SLO City Council will meet tonight, Wed, Aug 13, in the city hall chambers at 7 pm. to hear from the public concerning a new ordinance to prevent “light pollution” from outdoor lighting. It would require lights (streetlights, security lights, etc.) on all new projects be designed to keep light shielded so it doesn’t uselessly spread light to neighboring areas and hence results in preserving our “night sky.”

More and more cities are moving in this direction and more and more lighting fixtures are being designed to be, not only more efficient, but work more efficiently because they’re directional. (Doesn’t make sense to light areas 50 feet up in the air when you’re trying to illuminate the ground, a sidewalk or parking lot.)

And with reduced light pollution, many neighborhoods will have a better shot at once again being able to see the night sky. (One of the benefits of living in my beloved Bangladesh by the Bay. When it isn’t overcast, we can still see the lovely stars since there aren’t streetlights all over the place.)

Nice, a town running on Smart.

Karma Strikes Again

Peter Y. Hono, Times staff writer, reports that Ed McMahon, Johnny Carsons’ former sidekick and pitchman for a wide variety of products, is being sued by a Huntington Beach lender to repay a loan. McMahon secured the loan with his house and he’s now in default and may lose his $4.6 million dollar home. Him and about a bazillion other folks, in the same boat.

Well, all I can say is Karma has caught up with Ed. Serves him right. For years he promised me a million bucks from the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. Sent me letters saying, Dear Mr. Ann Calhoun (Ed never could spell) YOU may be a winner. Year after year I waited for Ed to arrive at my doorstep with my money, but he never came. Instead he kept giving MY millions away to OTHER people.

Feh! Well, now Karma’s caught up with the guy. HOOOO-HA!BOOYAH!Yah!Yah!AAYEEEEEE!. Hop . . . hop . . . hop. . . fist bump!

O.K. I Know What You’re Thinking, That’s MEAN!

Yes, it is, mean as sin, but all perfectly natural.

Again from the Times, “Victory dance is only human – or is it?” an article noting that “Chimps do it. Gorillas do it. Michael Phelps does it too. . . . The exuberant dance of victory – arms thrust toward the sky and chest puffed out at a defeated opponent – turns out to be an instinctive trait of all primates –humans included, according to research released Monday. . . .

“Scientists from the University of British Columbia and San Francisco State University looked at thousands of photographs of judo matches taken during the 2004 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games in Athens, for such classic in-your-face victory moves as clenched fists, thrown-back heads and outstretched arms.


“The images of the 140 blind and sighted athletes from 37 countries revealed that Paralympic athletes blind from birth struck the same triumphant stance as sighted Olympic athletes. Since the blind athletes could not have learned the victory dance by watching others, the scientists concluded that the behavior was innate.

“They found that the dance was the same for all, regardless of what culture or country they came from. “ and that “This display of human pride and exuberance . . . closely resembles the dominance displays of chimps and monkeys, which also feature outstretched arms and exaggerated postures, researchers said.”

Interestingly, “ . . . researchers unexpectedly found that sighted athletes from individualistic societies, such as in the U.S. and Western Europe, tended to put on a brave front, outwardly appearing to stand tall in the face of defeat and shame, the report said.

“[researcher Jessica Tracy] speculated that the athletes were intentionally hiding their feelings – consciously overriding their innate urge to signal defeat – because losing is so stigmatized in their cultures.

“We have been taught that even if we screw up in live, to hide it,” she said.

“It’s just like politics in the West, she added, ‘It’s not OK to say, ‘Hey I was wrong.’”

Which inability, of course, leads to a Nation Running On Stupid.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shoot ‘Em Up

Ah, sometimes ya gotta laugh. August 10, 08, L.A. Times story by Richard A. Serrano. “Guns from U.S. equip drug cartels.” “U.S. weapons underwrite Mexican drug violence.”

Ah, yes, The Drug War that’s costing American taxpayers a bundle. “More than 90% of guns seized at the border or after raids and shootings in Mexico have been traced to the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Las year, 2,455 weapons traces requested by Mexico showed that guns had been purchased in the Unites States, according to the ATF. Texas, Arizona and California accounted for 1,805 of those traced weapons.

“No one is sure how many U.S. purchased guns have made their way into Mexico, but U.S. authorities estimate the number in the thousands.

“The body count, meanwhile, is rising. Since a military-led crackdown on narcotics traffickers began 18 months ago, more than 4,000 people in Mexico have died in drug-related violence, including 450 police officers, soldiers and prosecutors, as well as innocent bystanders, cartel members and corrupt officials, according to Mexican authorities.

Tom Mangan, a senior ATF special agent in Arizona, compared the flow to reverse osmosis. ‘Just like the drugs that head north,’ firearms move south, he said. ‘The cartels are outfitting an army.”

“More than 6,700 licenses gun dealers have set up shop within a short drive of the 2,000 mile border, from the Gulf Coast of Texas to San Diego – which amounts to more than three dealers for every mile of border territory. Law enforcement has come to call the region an ‘iron river of guns.” . . . .

“And while U.S. political leaders and presidential candidates have focused rhetoric, money and time on stemming the northward flow of drugs and illegal immigrants, far less has been said and done about arms flowing south, largely from states with liberal gun laws, into a nation where only police and the military can legally own a firearm.”

And, of course, each country wants more from the other: Mexico wants the U.S. to tighten gun laws in the border states (Bwa-hahahha. Notes the Times: “Arizona is a wide-open state for gun lovers. A license lets you carry a gun openly on the street or concealed. . . . Anyone with proper ID and a brief background check can leave with a firearm under his or her belt and reach Mexico in minutes.” . . . ) and the U.S. wants Mexico to be more vigilant in policing the borders cross traffic (Bwa-hahahahha).

Nobody in either country, of course, has stopped to ask: How’s the drug war working for ya? Interestingly, all this river of guns isn’t going south to deal with the sale of Tecate or Budweiser crisscrossing the border for beer addicts on either side of the fence, now is it? Nooooo. That’s because beer is LEGAL and while the medical and social costs of alcohol are high, they tend not to involve St. Valentine Day massacres. Americans discovered that weird, interesting correlation between shootouts and prohibition way back during the era of . . . prohibition.

Then promptly forgot the lesson learned.

Irony Time

Back to the L.A. Times again. “Recovery of condors in doubt.” Seems that hunters in the U.S. are still using lead bullets to go kill things and “poisoning from ingestion of spent ammunition in carcasses is so severe and chronic,” the panel concluded,” that condor recovery cannot be achieved do long as such lead exposure continues.”

“The National Rifle Assn. and other hunting groups have fought restrictions on lead bullets, which are cheaper than copper varieties.

“Last year California became the first state to pass a law prohibiting hunters from using lead ammunition within the condor’s 2,385-square mile range.

“Lead is banned for shooting big game, such as deer, antelope, bear and non-game species, such as feral pigs and coyotes. Smaller game, such as birds and rabbits, can still be killed with lead bullets.”

But enforcing the California ban is problematic; Too many hunters, too few Fish and Game rangers to enforce it. And “Poachers [who] kill large numbers of animals are ‘unlikely to comply . . . as long as lead bullets are easily purchased.’ the study found.”

But here’s the best part of this story, as we bid bye-bye to the condors. “But they [the study’s authors] noted that humans who ingest meat from deer and other game can suffer adverse effects from lead: ‘Removing lead ammunition is not only right for condors, it is right for other scavengers, and it is right for hunters and their families.”

Hahahahahah. The very hunters who are killing the condors are killing themselves and their families off at the same time. Lead is lead is lead.

Naturally, The National Rifle Association spokesman “declined to comment on the report.” Gee, wouldn’t ya at least think that they’d at least pretend to sorta kinda care about their members because they don’t want them to get sick and brain damaged from the dead lead-tainted critters they’re hunting and eating? After all, the NRA likes to portray itself as supporters of a family oriented traditional “sport.”

Oh, right. It’s the money, stupid.

On both stories.

And at home, our own little “war” brewing.

The Tribune reports that the fee-kiosk at the entrance to Montana de Oro state park is Baaaaaacccckkkkkk. Slap up a kiosk, charge a fee to get in, said fee to help offset the rising costs of running the park.

Last time that was tried, folks got up in arms. They wanted “free” parks for them, but wanted The Other Guy to pay for it. That’s the way it goes in our Privitized Republic where there is no longer any value in The Commons.

Assemblyman John Laird, representing a cross-section of Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara, has “introduced a proposal to his colleagues that would generate about $282 million a year earmarked strictly for state parks. He would like the Legislature to increase vehicle license fees by $10. In return, all of the state’s 278 parks would have free entry and maintenance backlogs could be whittled down.
“The proposal is currently on the table in budget negotiations,” Laird said. “It’s caught up in the dogma of whether it’s considered a tax. But we’re going to attempt to move it ahead because it’s revenue that gives direct value to the public by fixing the parks sytem.
“We’re slowly bleeding our park system to death.” He added. “If we can’t pull it off this year, it’s an item that will go to the ballot in 2010.”

Imagine, State residents each “taxing” themselves a piddly little amount to properly fund state-wide natural treasures for the enjoyment of all and preservation for future generations – a true Commons.

Unthinkable!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Well, Now, The Question Must Be Asked

You know how any time a woman runs for higher office, say like for the President, there’s all these snide remarks about how, Oh, she couldn’t possibly be President, she’s too emotional or flighty or suffers from raging hormones and in a fit of PMS would hit the red button and blow the world up, and so forth?

Well, now we really have to ask the unasked question: Are men fit for higher elective office? Or do they all have problems with their zippers, you know, a hormonal thing that renders them helpless slaves to raging erectile function that shuts off the blood supply to the brain. Talk about hitting the red button and blowing the world up.

So, once again, we get the sorry spectacle of some guy doing the weenie perp walk, humiliated wife and kiddies standing by his side, claming, Aw, My BAD! And pretending that what he suffered from was a “serious error in judgement.”

In this case, the weenie walker is Senator John Edwards. And it’s apparently clear that his “error in judgment” wasn’t referring to his affair in 2006, it was having an affair in 2006 and THEN deciding to run for president.

That’s not an “error” in judgment. That’s a grotesque, breathtaking, utter LACK of judgment. Not to mention a stunningly large supply of hypocrisy. I mean, remember the moving testimonials to his courageous little wife, who is battling cancer, the weepy parading of his dead kid during his recitations of how much he loved his family. His being asked about marital fidelity and saying, “It’s fundamental to how you judge people.” Ah, yes, it fairly touched the heart, it did.

Well, Mr. Edwards, meet Mr. Eliot Spitzer, meet Mr. Bill Clinton, meet Mr. . . . . .

And I gotta ask again: Are men fundamentally unfit to hold any high office because are they so subject to overwhelming, mindless zipper attacks at unpredictable times that they simply can’t be depended on to keep their eye on the ball . . . the nuclear one, that is?

And Now, It Must Be Asked, Part Duh

Mr. Bruce E. Ivins, the microbiologist who committed suicide when the FBI was closing in on him as being the anthrax killer, apparently suffered from various mental illness for years. From newspaper reports, he was under treatment for a bi-polar disorder, was suspected of possibly suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was on medications and was in therapy and group therapy, had co-workers reporting at least among themselves that he was disturbing, troubled. Yet he continued to work unhindered in a BIO WEAPONS LABORATORY with, apparently, no restrictions.

And no required annual urine testing, physical exams, psychological exams. Not even the kind that are required by airline pilots to make sure that they’re in good enough physical and mental health to be trusted with the lives of, oh, say three hundred people.

Yet there’s Mr. Ivins, with access to deadly biologicals, working for the government in a top secret agency, who slipped into madness with no one the wiser.

In an L.A. Times article, Senator Charles Grassley, is demanding a Congressional inquiry, stating that “The FBI has a lot of explaining to do.”

You can say that again. Add in the news report at the time that claimed that the anthrax sent out to various people at the time contained a substance that was used in Saddam’s germ warfare program, thereby attempting to link, in the public mind, the connection between Saddam and 9/11, then add in the fact that apparently ABC news, for one, was told that the anthrax did NOT contain that particular substance but failed to inform the public, all of which helped make the phony case for war, and yes, some serious questions do need to be asked. Like who was the news”source” for ABC’s anthrax report? Maybe the same “source” that was behind the forged letter that various CIA spooks are now claiming came from the White House, another phony “connection” between Saddam and 9/11?

Yep. Lots of questions.

And Now A Final Question for this Lovely Saturday Morning.

Out of the disgrace of Guantanamo, the disgrace the Bush administration has made of the Geneva Conventions, the disgrace the Bush administration has created with their Feith/Yoo cooked up, twisted legalisms justifying torture and the perversion of the Constitution, will it be the Military who will turn out to be the real heroes of this disgraced country?

Like the military tribunals and judges and lawyers who just finished trying Salim Hamdan, Osama Bin Laden’s driver and during that trial insisted on a minimum standard of justice, a minimum standard that this administration was willing to throw away in their gleeful rush to the “dark side.”

And, of course, the one Supreme Court justice who held the thin line for the sake of the Constitution against the four who would see it trashed in the heat of passion and fear and a general failure of cool judgment.

That Supreme Court ruling, ensuring that the minimum standards concerning habeas corpus still stood, was a repeat of the scene from the play, “A Man For All Seasons,” wherein Sir Thomas More’s future son-in-law, in his zeal to root out heretics, demands the laws be changed:

More: “Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”
Roper: “I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”
More: Oh? And when the laws law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

That’s what the American people were so willing to forget in their own rush to the dark side. It is their own safety that the Constitution protects.

And Finally, As I Began, I’ll Close With This Nice Saturday Aphorism

Every Saint has a past
Every Sinner a future.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mr. Murphy, Meet Mr. Packard. Mr. Packard, Meet Mr. Murphy.

If you picked up a copy of yesterday's(8/7/08) Bay News, there was a two-page white advertising insert Q&A and previously printed "advertorial"from Mr. Tom Murphy of The Reclamator.com. Also, there was an opinion piece from Harvey Packard, RWQCB, titled "Why NOT the Reclamator?" (www.tolosapress.com)

Mr. Murphy, meet Mr. Packard. Community of Los Osos, Meet Mr. Murphy AND Mr. Packard.

Hide the silverware!

Husna Valley, Look Out!

And if you picked up a copy of yesterday's New Times, the Commentary page by Trish Norman ("What's the rush? Aug.7,08) limms an interesting "project." Seems an Australian firm wants to drill!drill!drill! and pump oil out of an old field in Huasna Valley. Naturally, the residents are up in arms, with visions of dozens of oil trucks trundling up and down the local roads, noise, smells, etc. All to get a a small amount of oil which will be burned up in a second, thereby contributing to global warming but having absolutely NO effect on oil prices.

So, here's the question I have. Instead of rushing to give this firm permits to drill, why doesn't the County sugggest that instead of investing all that nice money into trying to wring possibly cruddy, useless "oil" out of an old field, that this Australian company invest all that nice money in constructing a solar array in the Hausna Valley? Nice, long term, clean, renewable energy? Something for the future, not just a messy flash in the pan?

Just asking.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

(1) Very Smart, (2) Stupid and Cruel and (3) Just Plain Stupid.

First up, Very Smart, the Op-Ed piece that appeared in the Aug 3 Tribune, written by Ellen Perryess, and Animal Services Volunteer (also known as saints.) She hits is all, dead bang, on the head. Posted with permission.


Animal Services is a mirror, it reflects our community’s commitment to the homeless companion animals of our County. The Humane Society of America’s evaluation of the SLO County Animal Shelter has given us -- as a community -- the opportunity to look into that mirror and many of us have found we don’t like what we see.

Sadly, rather than focusing on what we, as a community, can do to improve animal welfare, some have chosen to throw rocks at the mirror. But the reflection won’t change until we change:

Pet owners – Most of the dogs and virtually none of the cats coming to our shelter have id tags. Have an id tag and license on your pet and encourage your neighbor to do the same.

Landlords -- Currently, less than 10% of rental properties allow pets. Depending on the data source, the percentage of renters who actually own pets ranges from 62%-84%. Good pet owners make good tenants who are willing to pay more in deposits and rents. Consider renting to pet owners. See (http://www.padsforpets.net/) for more help.

All media -- Dedicate time and space to help educate the community. Without education we won’t develop the level of commitment needed to change the didn’t-see-don’t-know attitude about the homeless pet problems and solutions for our County. New Times, Charter, KVEC, Cat Country/96.1, KSBY & Easy-Ad are currently promoting homeless animals and are making a difference. But we also need to have consistent, regular stories and articles emphasizing what individuals can do to make a difference. We need to create a culture of change to become the County we want to be.

All County residents – We need to take responsibility to spay and neuter our pets and support developing a fully funded program to assist those who can’t afford to spay and neuter their pets. Whether you’re a pet owner or not, it’s in everyone’s best interest to reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs in our county.

This is not to say there aren’t problems at Animal Services. As a volunteer there for 8 years, I know there are problems. However, the substantive problems are ones that require a commitment from us, the residences of the County, to fix. We need to invest in animal welfare.

Shelter facility improvements (cattery, veterinarian clinic, more outdoor dog runs) require money.

If no inmates, or better-supervised inmates are to be used to clean the shelter, more staff needs to be hired.

Expanding shelter hours requires additional staff.

If you could save a life would you do it? You can save dozens if not hundreds of lives if you want to. This is a call to individuals, civic groups and businesses to be the change you want to see to improve companion animal welfare in our county. Regardless of who you are, you can make a difference. But if you choose to do nothing, you are a part of the problem. If you’d like to know about how to help, please contact me at ellen@asap.org.

We’ve started with Very Smart, now onto Stupid & Cruel.

The federal jury in L.A. returned a verdict of guilty for former Morro Bay medical marijuana distributor, Charles Lynch. He faces a minimum (remember those “tough on crime” federal minimum statutes – lock ‘em up, throw away the key?) of five years in federal prison. I would hope some sanity would prevail at the appeals level, and who knows when this case ever makes it to the Supreme Court, if ever.

Meantime, people suffering from various debilitating illnesses that are helped by a doctor’s prescription for marijuana, people who came to his Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers clinic, can just go on suffering. The Feds don’t care. Our local Sheriff doesn’t care either since it appears that he possibly initiated this bust, even though the Morro Bay clinic was duly licensed and operating under state law. And the American people don’t care. So long as it’s the OTHER GUY who’s doing the suffering, they’ll continue to vote for politicians who will continue to demagogue the cruel & stupid “war on drugs,” so the powers that be can keep pounding money down more rat holes.

Sadly, one of the jurors in Mr. Lynch’s case, was quoted in the Times as saying, “We all felt Mr. Lynch intended well, “[Kitty] Meese said. “But under the parameters we were given for the federal law, we didn’t have a choice.”

Uh, yes you did, Ms. Meese. It’s called jury nullification. Or simply tell the judge during voir dire that you refuse to serve on such drug cases. It’s the only right thing to do in the face of such cruel stupidity.

And, finally, Just Plain Stupid.

Bernann McKinney, a screenwriter with more dollars than sense, paid a South Korean company, RNL Bio,$50,000 to clone her dead pitbull,”Booger.” (The firm usually charges $150,000 for dog cloning, but is taking a cut since McKinney’s helping with publicitiy on the event.)

Apparently, McKinney was deeply attched to her dead dog, Booger, because he saved her life when some bigger dogs attacked both of them. When she was in recovery, Booger was her boon companion and helped her in many ways. The L.A. Times reports: “It’s a miracle!” Mckinney repeatedly shouted Tuesday when she saw the cloned Boogers for which she paid $50,000.

“Yes, I know you! You know me, too!” McKinney said joyfully, hugging the puppies, which were sleeping with one of their two surrogate mothers, both Korean mixed breed dogs.”

Uh, no, Ms. McKinney, your little Booger clones don’t know you from Adam. And they aren’t your beloved “Booger.” Booger, the dog you loved and shared your life with, the life experiences and relationships that made Booger the Booger that was, the Booger who saved your life, THAT Booger is dead as a doornail. What you have here are five very expensive cloned puppies who may or may not have health issues that go along with cloning, puppies who are about as blank a slate as puppies created the normal way, puppies with which you will have to build a relationship, puppies who will form their own little personalities, depending on their own unique life experiences, puppies who, at some time in the future, will die. Just like Booger.

But they’re not Booger. Not one of ‘em.

Which makes you a deluded nincompoop who’s $50,000 poorer. Or the owner of five dogs that cost you $10,000 apiece.

And, considering the essay I opened with, just think what $50,000 could do to help a whole bunch of un-cloned dogs waiting in dog pounds to die?

Very smart, stupid & cruel and just plain stupid. Not bad for a one day news cycle.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Save The Date

A Brief Head's up: There'll be a Town Hall/informational mixer/ meeting, Friday, August 22nd at the commnity center from 7 pm - 9 pm on various wastewater collections systems being considered for Los Osos. Since the collection system is the most expensive part of any sewer system, community members can come talk with the various experts and get more information.

I'll post further details as they come available.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, CA for July 31, 08


2+2=5

It’s official, now. We live in Fungible Fact Nation. Story in the July 13th, L.A. Times: “U.S. Census Bureau won’t count same-sex marriages. The federal agency plans to edit the responses of legally married gay and lesbian couples.”

Well, why not? Ronald Reagan once observed that “facts are stubborn things.” But then he also declared ketchup was a vegetable in order to make school lunches for poor children appear whole and balanced. And our own Dear Leader declares “Heck of a job, Brownie!” to a demonstrably incompetent hack, then gives fulsome praise and Medals of Freedom to incapable bunglers. The EPA deletes important data, then makes up a story as to why the data is deleted. Everyone snickers. Who needs facts? They’re annoying and get in the way of politically pleasant ideologies.

Notes the Times: “The U.S. Census Bureau, reacting to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and other mandates, plans to edit the 2010 census responses of same-sex couples who marry legally in California, Massachusetts or any other state. They will be reported as ‘unmarried partners,’ rather than married spouses, in census tabulations – a policy that will likely draw the ire of gay-rights groups.

“The Census Bureau followed the same procedure for the 2000 census, [before marriage was legal in California or Massachusetts] and it does not plan to change in 2010.

“Critics say the census plan will mask the records of legally married same-sex couples and therefore degrade the quality of the government’s demographic data.

“’I just think it’s bad form for the census to change a legal response to an incorrect response,’ said Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA law school that studies gay-related public policy issues. ‘That goes against everything the census stands for.’”

Gosh, ya think?

I can see the census takers now. They’ll have to cross their fingers when they take their oaths to faithfully and honestly record the information they are charged with gathering. And keep a goodly supply of Pink Pearl erasers on hand. But think of the creative opportunities. Does this administration think there’s too many Mexicans self-reporting that they’re, well, Mexican? That maybe the numbers could raise too many questions about illegal immigration and just who’s hiring all those south-of-the-border folks to run their giant corporations so their CEO’s can hob-knob with the Washington elite, including the President? No problem! Just tell the census taker to change the racial designation. Sorry, the Mexican box is full. We’ll make you Samoan.

And if we’ve got too many people showing up in low-paying, dead-end jobs, then we can just set a “poor people’s” quota and start bumping people up to the next income bracket. Heck, why stop there? The census takers can randomly start checking off the boxes marked, “Lawyer,” or “Brain Surgeon.” We can’t have too many of those. Increase their number in the census and the overall picture of the American economy starts to take on a rosy glow.

And since federal money often follows the numbers, lobbyists can begin to haunt the U.S. Census Bureau with their nice bribe --excuse me -- “contributions,” so as to make their case for mis-reporting in certain areas in order to use that incorrect data to start up the federal largess. For example, the data could show that in San Luis Obispo County, the Medicare payments are completely out of date and simply don’t reflect real costs, thereby causing Doctors to stop taking Medicare patients, who then have to go die in the streets. A few box checks here and there, and Voila! Problem solved.

Or consider the fate of Los Osos. All our enumerators need do is to record the “fact” that there isn’t a single piece of indoor plumbing in the whole town, that we’re a worm-ridden, rat-infested, sewage-flooded community of impoverished, uneducated dolts who spend all day on our sagging porches playing our banjos, and federal infrastructure monies will surely rain down on our Beloved Bangladesh by the Bay. Which would be a good thing.

So who needs facts? The loopy president of Iran came to New York to announce adamantly that there were no gay people in his country. Hey, same here. There are no married gay couples in the whole of California. Or Massachusetts. And we have the census numbers to prove it!