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Arnold "Bohemian Grove" Schwarzenegger Calls for Transparency in Government!

by Dan Bacher

In the most absurd episode yet in the bad action flick that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has starred in since being elected Governor in 2003, the "Fish Terminator" on Saturday morning spouted off about the need for "transparent" government in his weekly radio address.

"Ever since I became Governor, I have pushed to make California government more transparent," Schwarzenegger claimed. "Now, I don’t have to tell you that this is a time of deep recession, all around the world."

"It is more critical than ever that government be held accountable for every dollar it spends, that it live within its means, and that it show total transparency at all levels: at the local level, the state level and the federal level," said Schwarzenegger.

It's time to pull the plug on the war against drugs

Viewpoints: It's time to pull the plug on the war against drugs
Special to The Bee
Published Sunday, Sep. 05, 2010

Sunil Dutta, Ph.D, is a lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department. These are solely Dutta's personal opinions.

Any strategy that has been tried for 40 years, cost almost a trillion dollars, led to numerous murders and horrendous violence, ruined millions of lives and destabilized nations needs to be re-evaluated. Unfortunately, despite the failure of our "war on drugs," our drug policy debate remains stagnant and mired in fear-mongering. Empirical evidence supporting alternative policies is disregarded or is the subject of vicious politically motivated attacks.

The war on drugs has overwhelmed the justice system and empowered street gangs who finance their activities by drug sales. It has resulted in corruption, lost productivity, environmental destruction, a lack of respect for law, a skyrocketing incarceration rate, destruction of families and a hit to taxpayers' pockets. There is no evidence that things will get better if we continue to follow the same failed strategies.

The logic behind our drug policy is punitive deterrence, which assumes that targeting the drug supply through aggressive law enforcement will deter drug use by making drugs scarcer, more expensive and riskier to buy. However, more than three decades after declaring war, passing stricter laws and packing our prisons, drugs are cheaper, purer and more easily available, and use has not been reduced.

My Veterans For Peace response to the President‏ - John Reiger

As President of the local chapter of Veterans For Peace, I submitted this response to Obama's speech as a letter-to-the-editor to the Sacramento Bee.


The President announced the end of "combat" operations in Iraq, but there really haven’t been many real combat operations for U. S. Soldiers this whole year - and we still lost more than 40 soldiers in 2010. The remaining 49,700 troops are supposed to be in non-combat roles, but as Veterans For Peace President Michael Ferner points out, "Non-combat troops is simply the latest in a long line of military euphemisms meant to obscure painful reality."

Meanwhile the pointless death, injury, and maiming of American soldiers continue in Afghanistan, and it gets worse every year. And for what? To prop up a corrupt government in a place with no strategic importance to America? Afghans have resisted outside interference for thousands of years. Our efforts will be no more successful than the Russians, the British, the Persians, the Greeks... Time to end the pointless sacrifice of young American lives.


Yours for a better tomorrow,
John C. Reiger

Ocean Access Protection Fund Now Taking Online Contributions

by Dan Bacher

The recently formed Ocean Access Protection Fund (OAPF) announced on August 31 the launch of its online contribution program through, allowing this division of United Anglers of Southern California (UASC) to collect online contributions for legal challenges against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative as well as future threats to recreational access to ocean and coastal waters.

The new site was designed to make it easy for individuals, fishing clubs and businesses to make secure contributions to the OAPF using major credit cards or Paypal. “Contributions to the OAPF will be used solely to support legal action against the MLPA and other policies that restrict recreational fishing access to California waters,” said Steve Fukuto, UASC president, in a press release.

While the OAPF is being spearheaded by UASC, Fukuto said it will be representing the interests of anglers, businesses and others frustrated with the MLPA implementation process across the Southern, Central and North Central California regions.

The OAPF was created to support legal causes of action against policies that do not recognize the conservation efforts of fishermen and impact recreational anglers’ access to the ocean, according to Fukuto. The MLPA Initiative, a process ridden with conflicts of interests, mission creep and the corruption of the democratic process, is the first project being undertaken by the organizers of the fund.

Salmon Water Now Releases the 'Bullies of Westlands' Video

September 2010 has been designated as “Salmon Month" by the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. To celebrate salmon month, SalmonAid ( will be sponsoring a month-long series of exciting events, creating an opportunity to educate the public about what has gone so terribly wrong with California’s once bountiful salmon runs.

"Salmon Water Now could not let Salmon Month start without adding our two-cents to the educational process," said Bruce Tokars, the relentless producer of Salmon Water Now videos. "So we have a new video, actually, two new videos."

“Bullies of Westlands” is Salmon Water Now's answer to the reason that wild salmon in such dire shape. The video runs 20:44 minutes and is available on Vimeo uninterrupted and in two parts on YouTube.

"You knows a bully when you see one," said Tokars in introducing his latest video. "They use their strength and power to get their way or to influence an outcome."

Tokars said a bully can be a person, or an organization. "In California’s on-going struggle over water, the biggest bully of them all is the Westlands Water District on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. We believe that in the last couple of years, the once mighty runs of wild salmon have been decimated by the self-righteous bulling tactics of the Westlands Water District," he stated.

This Salmon Water Now video looks at the words and deeds of Westlands, the "Darth Vader" of California water politics, as they push for more and more water to be shipped south of the Delta to irrigate subsidized crops on selenium-laden soil that should have never been irrigated.

The Hangman by Maurice Ogden

The Hangman - 1964 Animated Version of Maurice Ogden's Powerful Poem

    You may well remember this poem from your high school days (if you are of a certain age) and it is something to which those in a liberal education environment were exposed. It seems somehow to have been lost in the rush to follow curricula perhaps considered more modern, which is a great shame. The poem in its simplistic power is easy enough for ten year olds to take in the ramifications of its message..

    This marvellous animation, a real blast from the past, is the 1964 animated version of the poem, created by Les Goldman and Paul Julian. Herschel Bernardi is the narrator. The film was a co-winner of the Silver Sail award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 1964.

    The story is quite simple as it the somewhat dated animation techniques (which do give it a real flavor of its time and place however). A hangman who arrives in a small town and begins to execute its citizens one by one. As each citizen is led to the gallows, the rest are afraid to object out of fear that they will be next. Ultimately there is nobody left in the town apart from the Hangman and the poem's narrator. The narrator is then executed by the hangman as there is no one left who will defend him.

    The poem is about about acquiescence to the state when it begins to oppress others. Some though that Ogden was referring to The Holocaust, others yet thought that he was delivering a metaphorical critique of McCarthyism. If he indeed wrote about anything specific it is not necessary to know the absolute specifics as we must interpret the work for our own time. With that in mind, the poem has lost none of its powers.

    "Dead," I whispered. And amiably
    "Murdered," the Hangman corrected me:
    "First the foreigner, then the Jew...
    I did no more than you let me do."

Libertarian Paradise of Somalia

Thom tells the Tea Partiers, "...just move to the libertarian paradise of Somalia. No pesky big government bureaucrats, very low taxes, and everyone is free to own all the guns they want." Isn't that exactly what the tea baggers want?

Thom Hartmann's blog

Libertarian Paradise of Somalia

In some big triumphs this year, the tea party movement has had successful wins against long-time Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), Tea Partier Trey Gowdy won over "reasonable Republican" Rep. Bob Inglis (SC), and now it looks like Senate candidate Joe Miller (R-AK) will beat current Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in one of the biggest political upsets of the year. As President Bush's former speechwriter Michael Gerson points out today, the Republican party now faces an uphill struggle to rein in the "untested ideology" of these new candidates that is "clearly incompatible with some conservative and Republican beliefs" and may prove "toxic to the GOP." Today on ABC's Top Line, RNC spokesman Doug Heye embraced the radical far right views of GOP candidates like Miller saying, "we embrace whatever candidate needs to do to win." While Bush's speech writer Michael Gerson calls the libertarian tea party concepts of eliminating social security and other social safety net program as untested, in fact the tea party ideology has been tested. If you'd like to check it out, just move to the libertarian paradise of Somalia. No pesky big government bureaucrats, very low taxes, and everyone is free to own all the guns they want.

No On 18 Chairs Are Optimistic After Water Bond Delayed

by Dan Bacher

The lack of support by Californians for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's water bond spurred the Legislature last week to delay the vote for this measure from the November ballot to 2012. This is a great victory for all of those opposed to the construction of the peripheral canal around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The bond funded the infrastructure needed to build the peripheral canal and new dams. Due to overwhelming opposition to the bond by fishing groups, environmentalists, Indian Tribes, labor unions, family farmers and Delta residents, the Governor will leave office without setting in place the infrastructure for the canal that he has so relentlessly campaigned for over the past three years.

"With the Legislature's vote to delay the Water Bond until the 2012 ballot, it is clear that both the contents and price are unpopular with voters," according to a news release from the No on 18 Campaign. "Now members from both houses, across party lines, have seized the opportunity to start the discussions necessary to craft a proposal that will truly ensure California has a secure, safe and reliable water supply for all Californians and our fragile environment."

A bi-partisan coalition of legislators worked hard to prevent AB 1265 from passing, knowing that the water bond “would not get better with time,” according to the No on 18 Campaign. Assemblymember Jared Huffman, who led the charge in the Assembly to pass last year's water package, was a vocal opponent of now delaying the bond.

Legislators of both parties, including the entire Delta delegation of Democrats Mariko Yamada and Joan Buchanan and Republican Bill Berryhill, joined Huffman in the Assembly. Twenty-two assembly members stood firm with the many environmental, fishing, tribal, labor and consumer groups opposing AB 1265.

Environmental Leader Calls For MLPA Official’s Resignation

Environmental Leader Calls For MLPA Official’s Resignation

by Dan Bacher

On July 21, a prominent North Coast environmental leader called for the resignation of an oil lobbyist who serves as a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) to implement Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

Judith Vidaver, Chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition based in Mendocino County, asked for the resignation of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, in her public testimony several hours after over 300 Indian Tribal members and their allies peacefully took control of a BRTF meeting to protest the violation of sovereign Tribal gathering and fishing rights under the MLPA.

"OPC respectively and regrettably requests that Catherine Reheis-Boyd voluntarily step down from her position on the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF)," said Vidaver. "Oil and water do not mix - as we are daily being reminded by the disaster spewing in the Gulf. Mrs. Reheis-Boyd's position as President of the Western States Petroleum Association and her lobbying efforts to expand offshore oil drilling off the coast of California are a patent conflict of interest for which she should recuse herself from the BRTF proceedings which are ostensibly meant to protect the marine environment."

"OPC does not believe Mrs. Reheis-Boyd can provide unbiased, objective and science-based recommendations regarding placement and sizes of MPAs-especially if she may be privy to confidential oil industry information regarding areas of the coast of interest to the oil/gas industry," stated Vidaver.

Legislature Delays Schwarzenegger Water Bond Until 2012

The California Senate and Assembly on August 9 passed Assembly Bill 1265, a measure that would delay the controversial water bond, Proposition 18, until November 2012.

The $11.14 billion measure, coauthored by Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) and Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), will move next to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk for his signature.

The water bond, a virtual festival of pork, funds the infrastructure to build an environmentally destructive and enormously expensive peripheral canal and new dams. The delay in the bond means that the massive campaign by fishermen, environmentalists, Delta farmers, California Indian Tribes and labor unions has succeeded in preventing Schwarzenegger from putting in place the infrastructure for the canal, estimated to cost $23 billion to $53.8 billion, before he leaves office.

"At the end of last year, the Legislature made history by approving the first major investment in our water infrastructure in almost half a century," claimed Cogdill, who authored the legislation initially authorizing the bond for voter approval. "Mindful of the current economic slowdown, I support the move to give voters more time to understand this critical investment and give the state's economy more time to rebound."

Schwarzenegger Appointee Is Off The Fish and Game Commission

by Dan Bacher

The Sacramento Bee and several corporate environmental NGOs conducted a desperate, last minute effort to pressure the California Senate to confirm Don Benninghoven, a Schwarzenegger appointee, as a Fish and Game Commissioner.

However, widespread opposition to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative by an unprecedented coalition of fishing groups, Indian Tribes, seaweed harvesters and environmentalists forced the Senate leadership to do the right thing and deny Benninghoven's confirmation. In a big victory for environmental justice, the Senate failed to confirm Benninghoven by Wednesday, August 4.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who chairs the Rules Committee, declined to schedule a confirmation vote because of the massive opposition to Benninghoven's confirmation, combined with his reluctance to confirm long-term appointees chosen by the lame duck Governor.

During the past several months, thousands of recreational anglers and their supporters voiced their concerns about Benninghoven's lack of independence and objectivity as a member of the Fish and Game Commission, especially throughout the process of implementing Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative.

"We are so pleased that recreational anglers from across California responded with letters to Senate President Darrell Steinberg decrying Don Benninghoven's bias in the MLPA process," said Bob Fletcher of the Sportfishing Association of California and former Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Fish and Game. "And we are pleased that the State Senate listened to Californians who love to fish and who love the ocean as much as anybody."

In August 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Benninghoven to the Commission at the last minute to vote on a proposal to close areas within California's North Central Coast region to fishing and seaweed gathering. Just prior to his appointment, Mr. Benninghoven had served on the panel that designed the closures, the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF), a body dominated by oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corrupt corporate interests.

No on 18: Repeal, Don’t Delay the Water Bond

No on 18: Repeal, Don’t Delay the Water Bond

by Dan Bacher

The No on Proposition 18 campaign on Friday announced its opposition to A.B. 1265, a Schwarzenegger administration backed bill to postpone the $11.14 billion pork-filled water bond from this November's ballot to 2012. The Legislature will vote on postponement on Monday, August 9.
The announcement was made the day after Food & Watch Watch released a ground-breaking report revealing who's really behind the water bond.

The bill, pushed by agribusiness interests, southern water California agencies, oil companies and corporate water privatizers, is sponsored by Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Asssemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore).

"A vote for A.B. 1265 is a vote for the water bond," said Jim Metropulos of the Sierra Club California. "Legislators should do what's right for California and vote down this attempt to delay the measure - not try to hoodwink voters by postponing it for two years."

Bad development: Sac County's new general plan means sprawl on steroids

Bad development
Sac County's new general plan means sprawl on steroids

By Mark Dempsey
This article was published on

Sacramento County, California's poster child for bad development practices, is about to approve its general plan, a document that is supposed to guide future development. The plan promises to deliver ever more sprawl.

Our region's premier environmental organization, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, notes that it would likely open as much as 20,000 acres to outlying "greenfield" development, even though the county already has enough infill land for the next 20-plus years. Greenfield development is consumerism on steroids and the worst kind of sprawl, increasing both commutes and costly infrastructure.

The plan also ramps up our region's dependence on foreign oil. Aren't we supposed to be getting off this stuff? U.S. domestic oil production peaked in the early 1970s, and no amount of drilling offshore or in Alaska will return us to that peak. In 1971, the U.S. imported 30 percent of its petroleum at less than $2 per barrel. Currently, we import nearly 70 percent of our petroleum at roughly $80 per barrel.

Sam Seder: Mosque at Ground Zero: That's Bullshit

Tell is like it is Sam! We miss you on Sacramento radio.

Shame on ADL for opposing Mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero

Shame on ADL for opposing Mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero
by Rabbi Michael Lerner

The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) publicly opposes the construction two blocks from Ground Zero of the Cordoba House (also known as Park 51), which the planners imagine as hosting a range of activities similar to those offered at the 92nd Street Y, and including a Mosque at which Muslims could worship. The plan, supported by Mayor Bloomberg, is opposed by some who have consistently used the attack on the World Trade Center as justification for war and fear+hatred of Muslims.

ADL leader Abe Foxman presented the position of this organization that claims to oppose discrimination by reading a formal statement that seemed to be a perfect example of "shooting and crying" (first you attack brutally, then you cry about how sad it is to be put into this difficult position, often blaming the victims for having "forced" us to attack them). The key to that statement was this:

"Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain - unnecessarily - and that is not right."

This kind of argument is deeply mistaken. It was not "Muslims" or Islam that attacked the World Trade Center, but some Muslims who held extreme versions of Islam and twisted what is a holy and peace-oriented tradition to justify their acts and their hatred. We see the same thing happening in the name of Christianity (many of those who justified the war in Iraq were Christians who felt they were acting from a Christian ethical perspective) or in the name of Judaism (the immoral behavior of some of the settlers who use Judaism as their cover for stealing land and destroying the olive trees of their Palestinian neighbors). Just as we would rebel against others dismissing Judaism or Christianity, or prohibiting Jews and Muslims from constructing our holy places of worship or community centers where we wish because some of those who had suffered from the immorality of some Jews or some Christians had decided that it was painful to them to see the presence of these institutions near the site of previous suffering, so we reject this claim.