Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category
“As we grow older, the world becomes stranger,
The pattern more complicated of dead and living;
Not the intense moment, isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment;
And not the lifetime of one man only,
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.”
— T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets (East Coker)”
I TURNED 51 A FEW DAYS AGO. Passing into my fifties has made me take stock of where I am in life, and where I’ve been.
I think back to me at 18 years old, and for all the tumult of being that age, my life stretched before me with seemingly limitless, even frightening, promise. I had not yet known failure of any significant scope. I had yet to have my heart broken. I was going to change the world, dammit, and I wanted answers, and clear ones at that. Read the rest of this entry »
By Robert Michaels
HONESTLY, I HAVEN’T READ Darwin’s “Origin of Species.” Nor have I delved into dissertations within the scientific community. But I have my senses, all six of them.
The Earth teems with an abundance of things we can see, taste, touch, hear and smell. And we have a common sense at our disposal to discern what is true and what is false.
When we look at a building, common sense tells us there was a builder. When we behold 19th-century impressionism, we determine there was a master painter. When we read a famous literary work, we don’t speculate — we know there was an author who penned the book.
It’s only when we consider the origin of the universe that we deny intelligence. Is it possible that here man commits intellectual suicide? Read the rest of this entry »
I OPEN WITH A MARVELOUSLY APT QUOTE from one of my favorite commentators on the political scene.
“House GOP willing to raise the debt limit, and all they’re asking is for Obama to repeal the 20th century. That sounds fair …” — Tea Party Cat
From there it is just a short journey to the powerful message to the Republicans from Eric Cantor. An inspiring highlight of that message was obviously Cantor’s ringing written appeal to his boys in the legislative trenches, “Working middle class families deserve a government that is working for them, not against them.” Read the rest of this entry »
“The question is not whether we need to act. The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.” — President Obama
IN HIS WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS TO THE NATION just prior to his recent trip to Africa, President Obama doubled down on man-caused global warming (MCGW) as the top issue facing the nation. These thoughts, echoed in his poorly received speech in Germany, were also seconded by renowned global warming alarmist Al Gore.
With Team Obama and the former MCGW doyen on board, what could possibly go wrong with this scenario? The MCGW crowd is giddy with excitement as years of efforts to wreak economic havoc may come to fruition — that is, if common sense does not prevail.
Fortunately, some level of common sense seems to be emanating from the New York Times, of all places. Read the rest of this entry »
GEORGE MONBIOT WROTE TUESDAY AT ALTERNET: “It doesn’t matter how many windmills or solar panels or nuclear plants you build if you are not simultaneously retiring fossil fuel production. We need a global programme whose purpose is to leave most coal and oil and gas reserves in the ground, while developing new sources of power and reducing the amazing amount of energy we waste.”
In short, if we don’t stop taking petroleum materials out of the ground, our efforts at alternative energy amount to tilting at windmills. It is not climate change that is our nemesis, but a catastrophic climate collapse. Read the rest of this entry »
EVER SINCE BARACK OBAMA WAS NOMINATED in 2008 as the Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States, his staunchest critics have implied that he had the makings of a dictator wannabe. Even once he was elected those admonitions were not taken at all seriously, and the liberal media ridiculed and demeaned anyone who dared suggest the new president was anything other than the young “messiah” of the Democrat Party.
There are some of us who saw then what the press is finally starting to see now. Back then we were dismissed and ridiculed as racist or delusional, or both.
Now, however, after several years of being told we were wrong about the president’s authoritarian streak, the liberal media are finally starting to consider that this president may be the megalomaniac we thought he might be. Read the rest of this entry »
AT 12:01 A.M. TUESDAY, the federal government began shutting down all non-essential functions because Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund further operations unless President Obama sabotaged his signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, that was duly passed by Congress, signed into law by the president, upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court and ratified by a referendum of the people in the form of last year’s election — and that is, as you read this, beginning to fulfill the promise of affordable health insurance for millions of Americans who previously went without it.
That’s right: Republicans are shutting down the government so that our health care system can resume bankrupting the sick.
It is vital to understand that Republicans’ big fear is not that Obamacare will result in death panels and communism, but that it will prove popular, that it will work and be seen as the vast improvement over the previous regime that it actually is. Read the rest of this entry »
TODAY A NEEDLESS AND RECKLESS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN CONTINUES. There is no reason for us to be in this situation. Our government is closed because 40 or so radical tea party Republicans refuse to vote for any funding bill that doesn’t delay or defund the Affordable Care Act. This is a fight they’ve lost nearly 50 times in Congress, in a national election, and in the United States Supreme Court. Keeping the government shut down because Democrats want to make sure people can buy affordable health insurance is a thoughtless disregard for responsible governance and the people we serve.
Democrats have compromised. I agreed to support a measure that included $72 billion in annualized across-the-board spending cuts to keep the government open. The Senate passed this legislation multiple times before the government closed, but this wasn’t enough for the tea party wing of the House Majority — for them to vote for any measure, the Affordable Care Act had to be defunded or delayed. Read the rest of this entry »
THERE IS A HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT IRONY embedded in the notion that ours is an “information rich” society. It is that one of the most crucial problems facing American society today is our lack of understanding of the fundamental economic realities of our time and our land. That lack of connection with reality is the source of great confusion when the public is confronted with crucial choices.
Following some data on our current plight, I will introduce some startling findings concerning the striking disparity between public perception and reality about our society’s distribution of wealth and, most dramatically, their preferences. Read the rest of this entry »
I HEAR COMMENTS SOMETIMES FROM MY CONTEMPORARIES that kids today don’t know the meaning of discipline, that there is currently an epidemic of parents spoiling their children, and so on.
While contemporary parenting probably falls short in some ways, it is worth understanding that older people have been lodging similar complaints about the supposedly easier lives of the Younger Generation since the earliest days of civilization — perhaps even before there existed lawns that kids needed to get off of — and it has always been anywhere from a wild exaggeration to complete nonsense. Read the rest of this entry »
IF POLICY DECISIONS ON BUDGET ARE TO HAVE ANY MEANING, it is essential that we assess them against a backdrop of the economic realities being addressed. So it is with the recent GOP House vote to cut $39 billion from the government food stamp program.
If you’re wondering a bit about that, wonder no longer. Rep. Steve King of Iowa has nailed the realities and justifications and fixed his sights on the real problem, according to an Aug. 28 article by Alan Pyke of ThinkProgress (“Congressman: People Without Jobs Are Like Lazy Kids Who Need to ‘Step Up’”):
“Speaking in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday, after arguing that there are over 100 million Americans not even trying to find work, King said, ‘If you had six kids and a third of your kids would say, “I’m not doing the chores, mom …” If any of them say I refuse, I’m not gonna participate, I’m not gonna contribute to the American GDP, pretty soon those kids would be on the “you get to eat after you do the work,” not just in hopes that you might one day do the work.’ After a brief diversion into immigration reform, King added, ‘I wanna see more Americans step up.’” Read the rest of this entry »
ON MANY ISSUES, I’M PRETTY FAR to the left of the current iteration of the Democratic Party. But I’m really more a “just society economic populist” than a “lefty,” per se.
I’ll just mention where I stand on a couple of issues, and why.
I’m for deregulating the border — no more fences, certainly no walls, no patrolling the border. Or let’s say we assign the same number of agents to the Mexican border as the Canadian border. Read the rest of this entry »
By Dennis Lund
THE CITY OF PORTLAND, OREGON, always a great place to visit, offers many wonderful pleasures for the visitor and a few for the short-term business traveler.
• The Benson Hotel, with its stately lobby, has hosted every president from William Taft to George W. Bush (Obama stayed there as a candidate);
• Fresh local seafood is available at Jake’s Crawfish Grill, which has been in continuous operation since 1892;
• And surprisingly excellent barbecue is available at ’Podnah’s, an upscale, trendy Texas-style rib joint located a bit uptown. All three are highly recommended if you are planning a future trip. Read the rest of this entry »
WHEN INSOMNIA STRIKES, I sometimes go to sleep with C-SPAN on the television. I just close my eyes, half-listen to a litany of politicians making long, arcane speeches on the floor of the U.S. Congress and wait for insomnia’s spirit to break. I sometimes forget to set the “sleep” function on the TV, so it is on all night, and I shut it off when I awake the next morning.
This is what happened the morning of September 11, 2001. Sometime before sunrise that morning I half-awoke to a grave and shaken voice on my television saying they were “obviously monitoring the unfolding events in New York …” Before sinking back into sleep I made a groggy mental note to turn on the news when my alarm went off. Read the rest of this entry »
By Suzanne Kleiman
FIRST OF ALL, CHICKEN LITTLE, the sky is not falling. But the Chicken Little obsession with global warming — or climate change or whatever the alarmists are calling it these days — is harming us today, and will hurt us in the future.
Yes, climate change occurs every single day. No two days are alike. The world has gone through at least five major ice ages followed by five warming periods. Humans had nothing to do with those. Humans probably have an impact now on climate change, but it is small in comparison with the huge forces of nature — solar activity, volcanic eruptions, orbital variations, etc. — that have a direct impact on our weather. But by spending lots of money on something over which we may or may not have much control, we are misallocating resources today at the expense of prosperity tomorrow.
That lost prosperity — read: jobs and standard of living — might have led to a better quality of life for everyone in the future, including a cleaner environment. Read the rest of this entry »
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATORS ON THE ASSEMBLY AND SENATE are not working in any law-abiding citizen’s best interests when it comes to gun regulation. My previous article (“Open letter to the Legislature: Don’t pass draconian gun laws,” Aug. 30) listed the most recent bills being considered for that day. The reality is that there are a number of bills that will be considered by the Senate and Assembly in September, each designed to take a small portion of our Second Amendment rights. It is well past time for us to contact our representatives and protest loudly: Enough, no more anti-gun laws! Read the rest of this entry »
By Steve Young
ON THURSDAY NIGHT, AFTER THE REGULAR MEETING of the Benicia Planning Commission, city staff and a consulting firm will conduct a scoping session for the Environmental Impact Report on the Valero Crude-by-Rail Project. The purpose of that meeting is to determine which environmental issues to address in the EIR.
Speaking as a private citizen rather than as a member of the Planning Commission, I believe there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the report. Read the rest of this entry »
Theater review by Elizabeth Warnimont
Special to The Herald
MALCOLM COWLER HAS BEEN A PART OF Orinda Starlight Village Players for several years, appearing in more than 30 productions and more recently trying his hand as director. Cowler is a natural in the director’s chair, as evidenced by the creative and gripping “And Then There Were None” from last summer. Cowler wrote and directed that play, adapted from the Agatha Christie tale of the same name. This month he has created an original piece, “Escape to Bedlam,” that incorporates three short stories by Edgar Allan Poe into one cohesive narrative, appearing on the Starlight stage now through Sept. 28.
“Bedlam” is structured around Poe’s “The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether,” in which the author, while traveling in southern France, decides to visit a local madhouse about which he has heard some intriguing rumors. In Cowler’s piece, two of the asylum staff relate stories from their own past during his visit, thus incorporating the two other classic Poe tales. Read the rest of this entry »
By Dennis Lund
TOUCHING ON SEVERAL SUBJECTS that drew my attention during recent travels:
Voter ID laws have been a recurring subject in the news, with two diametrically opposed factions represented: Republicans trying to ensure election integrity with ID requirements and Democrats crying “voter suppression.” With recent events in Kansas, those favoring voter ID may have to reconsider their position:
Aaron Belenky is one of three “aggrieved voters” who joined an ACLU-filed lawsuit against newly enacted Kansas voter ID laws. His case is noteworthy as to the severity of these “oppressive” laws: It seems Mr. Belenky, new to Kansas, went online to register to vote. The process could not be completed until he presented proof of citizenship in person — an apparently daunting task, as reported by AP: Read the rest of this entry »
IN WHAT IS TRULY AN INSPIRED APPROACH to the subject of climate and its varied manifestations, an educational approach has appeared on the American scene that promises to prepare the young for the kind of decisions that a puzzling and potentially dangerous future will require.
In March 2012, following a path laid down by Louisiana, Texas and South Dakota, a bill overwhelmingly passed the Tennessee legislature that mandated the following: “The purpose of this act is to enhance and improve the environmental literacy of students and citizens in the state by requiring that all environmental education programs and activities conducted by schools, universities, and agencies shall …”
This was followed by a long list of general and noble educational objectives with which it would be difficult to differ, emphasizing a balance of perspectives and respect for different ideas, and closing with: “Not be designed to change student behavior, attitudes or values.” Read the rest of this entry »