Monday, February 28, 2011

Sen. Dick Durbin's personal note to me

Another from the "I'm a reporter so the Dems must think I'm in with 'em" file: A personal note to me from Sen. Dick Durbin.

Dear Tim Hearden,

As Assistant Majority Leader, it’s my job to make sure Senate Democrats have the votes to stop extremist legislation. Things are about to get really busy around here.

Last week, House Republicans voted to defund health reform, eliminate money for reproductive care, slash nutrition for poor women and children and gut resources that keep our air and water clean. This is not cutting fat. These are bones – programs that keep our middle class standing.

Thanks to our Senate majority, we can stop their radical agenda. But with 23 seats up in 2012, compared with 10 for Republicans, we have a fight ahead. A net loss of four seats, and we lose our firewall.

Midnight Monday marks a crucial FEC deadline: All eyes will be on the DSCC’s fundraising numbers. $50,000 will help show that we can defend our Democratic firewall. Your donation now reflects our biggest strength – more than 90 percent of the DSCC’s donations come from grassroots supporters. [ ... ]

Republicans won the House by promising to focus like lasers on creating jobs. They have yet to put forward any job-creation plans – or explain how taking away health care, attacking women’s rights and targeting middle class families achieve this goal.

As long as we have our Senate firewall, Democrats can stop their radical legislation. But the GOP and its special interest friends are already on the attack. After the Citizens United decision, corporations are free to spend whatever they like in support of their preferred candidates. And attacks on working men and women by Republican governors weaken the Democratic base. Wisconsin is only the most recent example.

That makes what you do this minute all the more important. 90 percent of the DSCC’s donations come from grassroots donors who give $200 or less. Every dollar you give helps strengthen Democrats – and fight Republican extremists. Please act now to protect our Senate firewall. [ ... ]

From my seat in the Senate, I’m doing everything I can to stop the radical Republican agenda. But I can’t do it alone. What you do now matters. Help defend the firewall. Our future – our nation’s future – depends on it.

Sincerely,

Sen. Dick Durbin

Now I'd considered unsubscribing from these Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fund-raising letters, but then I thought, "What the heck. What a great way to keep track of what they're telling their supporters." Maybe I'll just keep posting their messages and see how long it takes somebody at the DSCC to stumble across my blog and figure out what I'm doing.

It's interesting that Durbin and his cohorts seem to be so focused on just clinging to their slim majority in the Senate rather than gaining seats, considering that someone from their own party is in the White House and is about to launch a re-election bid. Come to think of it, I don't see Barack Obama's name anywhere in the letter. Nothing about continuing the good work that Obama is doing; it's all about the extremist Republicans.

Interesting, indeed.

Siskiyou water fights the topic of radio show

Scott Valley, Calif., rancher Craig Chenoweth and Mark Baird, president of Scott Valley Protect Our Water, were guests on the Sunday morning radio program "We The People" on Redding's KCNR 1460 AM.

They discussed the California Department of Fish and Game's requirement of special incidental take and streambed alteration permits for irrigators in the Scott and Shasta valleys, which the Capital Press has covered extensively.

According to the show's Web site, Chenoweth will be a guest again next Sunday, starting at 8 a.m.

The site is here, where you can listen to archives as well as a live stream when the show is on.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vilsack pressed on GIPSA rule

From the California Cattlemen's Association:

Last week, during a House Agriculture Committee hearing about the state of the U.S. farm economy, Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) questioned United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack about a timeline for completion of an economic analysis regarding the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule.

Vilsack responded by saying that he did not have a definite timeframe in place for completion of the economic analysis of the proposed rule, being conducted by USDA Chief Economist Joseph Glauber, Ph.D., and that the more than 60,000 public comments submitted were still being "categorized and reviewed" by the department which is "interested in getting this process completed as appropriately and quickly as possible."

Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) also asked Vilsack if the department would go through a notice and comment period on a completed economic analysis before moving forward on a final rule. Vilsack replied that he would need to consider the request internally before responding.

CCA was among a number of industry groups and more than 100 members of Congress who asked USDA to conduct a more thorough economic analysis prior to considering advancement of the proposed rule and will continue to monitor the situation closely to support CCA’s position opposing the insertion of additional government intervention between willing buyers and willing sellers in the cattle market.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Good movie alert

We just watched a 2002 British TV version of "Hound of the Baskervilles," starring Richard Roxburgh as Sherlock Holmes and Ian Hart as Dr. Watson. We had recorded it on one of the Encore channels this week.

It was one of the better versions of the film I've seen, with plenty of solid performances and none of the buffoonery of the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce vehicles. If you have a chance to see it, I would recommend it.

The Encore Web site shows it's playing again Monday, April 4 at 9:20 a.m. and 6:20 p.m., and Thursday, April 14 at 12:20 p.m., all on Encore Mystery. As they say in TV land, check local listings.

The debate was about philosophy, not ideology

A little more than three years ago, a columnist in a leading newspaper trade journal gave what amounted to marching orders to local newspapers with regard to global warming. It's interesting to look back on in light of the running debate I had this week with Redding Record Searchlight editorial page editor Bruce Ross, for reasons I'll explain in a minute.

Here's what I blogged on Aug. 31, 2007, in a post titled "Aaah, to heck with objectivity":

Have you ever wondered what life looks like from atop an ivory tower? Try looking at the advice some columnists in trade journals give to the executives who work in the industries the journals cover.

One such example is a missive from one Steve Outing, whose bio says he's been writing columns for the newspaper trade mag Editor & Publisher for about the last 10 years. I'm left to wonder what else he is doing or has done, but it doesn't say.

In a nutshell, Outing believes newspapers ought to abandon all objectivity when it comes to global warming. In a column aptly titled "Stop the Presses," he writes (under a New York dateline):

I've been thinking a lot about climate change (aka, global warming) a lot lately. (Haven't you?) Having kids, I'm concerned about what kind of world my generation is leaving them, of course. And I'm mulling over what I can do, to "do my part" (ride my bike to work more; my family bought a hybrid car; teach my kids green habits; etc.).

I've also been thinking about the newspaper industry and global warming. And frankly, I don't think newspapers are doing enough. Indeed, newspapers' fabled commitment to "objectivity" has been a detriment to efforts to combat global warming.

The industry still has a lot of power to influence people. How about if newspapers abandon their old way of doing things when it comes to the issue of global warming, and turn their influence to good? It just might be that through this issue alone, newspapers revive themselves to some extent. Editors are shirking their responsibility to improve our world, in my view, so let's change that.

Outing goes on to call for a return to "advocacy journalism" and refers to those who question global warming as "flat-earthers." He says newspapers ought to "Develop a Behavior-Change Campaign That Encourages Action," hold contests, track consumers' habits, collect ideas for auto makers and put the whole campaign "on the front page and on the homepage."

The columnist seems to think that this kind of campaign will "revive newspapers." But one could argue that a campaign en masse to influence Americans on a major issue of our time has already been tried -- with disastrous results for newspapers.

For good or ill, newspapers and their counterparts in the electronic media have thrown everything they could think of at the War on Terror in general and the Iraq war in particular. They've trumpeted the plight of combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, revealed top-secret information about the conduct of the war with seemingly little thought of the consequences, bombarded the public with pictures from Abu Ghraib, reported every claim of civilian deaths at the hands of American soldiers and heralded every negative or questioning remark by a Republican lawmaker as a breakthrough of historic proportions.

For all that trouble, all they could muster in terms of influencing sentiment has been a healthy national impatience with the level of progress in Iraq, or lack thereof. The mildest nonbinding resolution to bring the troops home still requires weeks of debate in Congress, A serious attempt at cutting off funding for the war is at this point politically unworkable. The leading Republican presidential candidates for 2008 still boldly advocate staying the course in Iraq and in the War on Terror, and the leading Democrat has yet to find a consistent voice on the issue -- much to the chagrin of her base. President Bush even proposed increasing the number of troops in Iraq, and his wish was granted.

Meanwhile, newspaper readership is in freefall. True, there are many factors that have contributed to the declines in circulation at many of the nation's largest newspapers. But there is no question that reporting on the war -- and its inability at times to jibe with what readers are hearing from loved ones who are over there -- has hurt newspapers, so much so that editors have complained to AP about the tone of its coverage.

One could maybe argue that an aggressive (or even advocacy) press is justified in Iraq regardless of the fallout because, after all, people are dying. But now the E&P's Mr. Outing wants to mount a similar campaign of outrage over an issue like global warming -- a phenomenon for which the cause, impacts and even existence are far less universally accepted than he and the other gatekeepers of conventional wisdom care to admit? Even further, he wants to devote front-page space to telling people what to buy and where to live and belittle as "flat-earthers" anyone who resists? Can anyone say "industry death wish"?

In my view, practicing this kind of "advocacy journalism" is (rhetorically at least) sort of like being a suicide bomber. You may take a few people out, but you'll kill yourself in the process.

A little more than three years later, we're still in Iraq (and Afghanistan), the science behind global warming has largely been called into question and readership of most general-circulation newspapers is still declining rapidly. One paper near me has lost nearly half its paying customers in the past 10 years. Even Editor & Publisher itself is struggling to stay afloat and nearly shut its doors last year. Yet many of these publications still stubbornly stick to the old script of telling the rest of us what to think and how to live.

From where I sit, my running conversation with Bruce had very little to do with the political views of radio guests and everything to do with our differing philosophies about the role of media in today's society. At a risk of oversimplification, I tend to lump what we loosely think of as news media into two main camps: one a cadre of elites that still see themselves as the same gatekeepers of public knowledge, opinion and morality that they thought they were 40 or 50 years ago; and the other having the goal of mainly arming their audiences with information so they can make their own judgments and decisions. Practitioners of the former include journalists, many of whom are old enough to remember their profession's zenith at Watergate. Practitioners of the latter include journalists but also citizens who disseminate information by posting on Facebook and Twitter, forming AgChat networks, sending text messages, holding meetings and going on talk shows.

I have a hunch that's why some media outlets feel so threatened by the tea party -- not because the movement may be conservative, but because it bypasses the gatekeepers and disseminates information to the public.

I believe the old gatekeeper model is doomed to failure, for any number of reasons. For one thing, people resent it in this information age. Perhaps more importantly, this thing we call journalism has long been a sort of jack-of-all-trades-and-master-at-none proposition, and is becoming even more so as news outlets are cutting their staffs. Even at a specialty paper like the Capital Press, each commodity that we cover has its own unique terminology, nuances, regulations and science. It feels like I've learned more in the last two years than I did in the previous 20, and I'm still only scratching the surface.

So for me to presume to dismiss or ridicule someone who's spent a career studying a given issue based on five minutes of my own research would be utter foolishness. It wouldn't even qualify as an outrage; it would just be silly. I might be skeptical of what someone says, but skepticism is not expertise, and neither is blind adherence to my own preconceived notions. In my view, they shouldn't be presented as such.

Why is the United Nations interested in north state water?

What's this all about? From Redding.com (hat tip: a commenter named RS)

A United Nations expert on water rights is coming to the north state on Sunday to hear about McCloud residents' successful campaign against Nestle.

Catarina de Albuquerque, a U.N. independent expert on the right to water and sanitation, will listen as representatives from the McCloud Watershed Council and Winnemem Wintu tribe explain how they defeated an attempt by Nestle to obtain local water for their bottled water products.

The meeting will take place at 3 p.m. at a campground off Gilman Road, just past the McCloud River Bridge.

Not jumping to any conspiracy-theory conclusions, mind you. But why would the United Nations care about a local business's attempt to access local water and the local opposition the effort generated?

Friday, February 25, 2011

CCA: Speak out on Williamson Act

From the California Cattlemen's Association:

Last Friday, both Assembly and Senate Budget Committees voted to overturn the recommendations of their budget subcommittees and approve the Governor’s budget proposal to delete the $10 million state General Fund appropriation and repeal the local option adopted last year in Senate Bill 863 whereby counties could receive additional revenue from a 10 percent reduction in the Williamson Act landowner’s contract benefit.

CCA is requesting that legislators revisit this decision. While deletion of the funding would result in a general fund savings for the current year, rolling back SB 863 provides no general fund savings and hinders the ability of many counties to continue to provide 90 percent of current Williamson Act savings to contracting landowners. Thus far, eight counties that participate in the Williamson Act have implemented this program and it is estimated that another eight to 12 counties are considering implementation this year.

The repeal of the SB 863 program undermines the eight participating counties (Tulare, Kings, Merced, Madera, Mendocino, Stanislaus, Yolo and Shasta) and prevents others from considering its use. The ultimate result would very likely be mass county nonrenewals this fall.

If you have not already done so, please write your Williamson Act letter today and submit it to CCA to deliver to lawmakers on your behalf. You may fax letters to (916) 444-2194 or e-mail them to Dawn Clover at dawn@calcattlemen.org. A sample letter can be found on CCA’s Web site by clicking here.

Cottonwood meeting to discuss cattle health

From the University of California's Ag and Natural Resources event calendar:

Date: February 25, 2011

Time: 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Sponsor: Tehama and Shasta Counties

Location: Shasta Livestock Auction Yard, Cottonwood, CA
Event Details

Cattle Health Workshop February 25th

The University of California Cooperative Extension will host a cattle health workshop on Friday February 25th starting at 5 PM at the Shasta Livestock Auction Yard in Cottonwood. Dinner will be prepared by Vic’s Branding Iron courtesy of Intervet Schering-Plough and Pfizer Animal Health

The program will highlight the latest in pink eye research by Dr. John Angelos of UC Davis. Following Dr. Angelos’ presentation will be industry discussions with technical service veterinarians from Intervet Schering-Plough and Pfizer Animal Health. Also included will be presentations on treating pink eye by Extension Veterinarian Dr. John Maas and local veterinarian Dr. Bill Gray, interpreting the amended Williamson Act by Wayne Stevens of the Shasta County Assessor’s office, and presentations of local research from Shasta and Tehama County Farm Advisors.

The event is sponsored by the University of California Cooperative Extension, Intervet Schering-Plough, Pfizer Animal Health, Tehama County Cattlemen’s Association, and the Shasta County Cattlemen’s Association.

Mark your calendars to attend this FREE workshop. For more information please call Josh Davy at the Tehama County Cooperative Extension Office at 530-527-3101 http://cetehama.ucdavis.edu/, or Larry Forero at the Shasta County Cooperative Extension Office at 530-224-4900 http://ceshasta.ucdavis.edu/.


I'll be covering a similar workshop today in Willows. You can read about it in next week's Capital Press.

What if there's a shutdown?

Been poking around at federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and others whose work is pertinent to ag to find out what would happen if the government shuts down next week because of a budget impasse.

Either the government doesn't know yet, or they're not telling.

Pete Lucero, spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento, said the Interior Department is still evaluating what a shutdown might do.

"We're awaiting guidance from the department on how to conduct operations during a shutdown," Lucero said.

These discussions are ongoing, he said. But agency officials are trying to remain optimistic.

"We're actually expecting there will be some kind of agreement prior to March 4," he said, "but in the event there isn't, we're in discussions on how we might proceed through a shutdown."

Interior spokeswoman Kate Kelly had nothing to tell me about shutdown plans as of yesterday, and I have yet to hear back from the USDA, whose spokeswoman is checking with the Forest Service, the Farm Service Agency and other arms of the department on my behalf.

More on this as we get closer, I'm sure.

Rancher thanks LaMalfa, Nielsen

Etna, Calif., rancher Jeff Fowle penned an open letter of thanks to far Northern California's two state lawmakers, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen and Sen. Doug LaMalfa, for keeping some pressure on the Department of Fish and Game over its requirement of special irrigation permits in the Scott and Shasta valleys.

He observes:

For more than 30 years the farmers and ranchers of the two valleys have been voluntarily improving water efficiency, installing fish screens, replacing push up dams with permanent, fish friendly structures and incorporating bypass flows into their diversion structure designs. All of these actions were done proactively to address potential impacts to salmonids. In addition, landowners along the two rivers have installed fencing to better manage grazing in riparian areas and have voluntarily stabilized banks and planted native vegetation to improve the habitat.

In the 80’s, the Department wanted us to put in fish screens they designed and we did. Then they wanted us to replace our push up dams with permanent rock weirs and we did. They then requested a bypass flow at the point of diversion and we obliged. Then they wanted assurance we were diverting our adjudicated water right and we are water mastered. Now they want me to pay $200 a year for a 1600 permit and $10,000 to $15,000 for a 158 page permit that says I am diverting with approved mitigations and the Department can take my water when they want to? I say hell no!

The recent re-interpretation of the Fish and Game code 1600 is merely another attempt by the State to assume more control over small business, ignore private property rights and follow the beck and call of a few elitist activist groups whose desire is to see our two valleys depopulated and returned to a “natural” state. If the Department is successful in implementing the 158 page permit in combination with requiring a 1600 permit simply to exercise a water right, the repercussions throughout the state will have a devastating impact.

He writes later:

To think, this all started nearly 30 years ago with the listing of the Spotted Owl. The timber industry was shutdown, unemployment jumped, communities died, schools began to deteriorate due to the lack of a tax base, forests have become too dense, tree diseases are rampant, catastrophic wildfires have ensued, tax dollars are wasted in efforts to fight fires, forest wildlife no longer have quality habitat, evapotranspiration has climbed, surface flows have decreased due to increased evapotranspiration increased and tree density and so now, it is time to eliminate the farms and ranches, surely that will fix the problem.

It is time to stop this short-sighted nonsense and approach the management of our natural resources with common sense. Modern forestry, farming and ranching practices can and will return our county to one that is environmentally healthy and economically viable, provided the onerous regulations, misguided permits are eliminated. Further, the puppet strings that are controlling the Department, held by the elitist environmental groups, must be cut.

You can read his entire letter here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reps: Turmoil highlights American 'weakness'

From the Congressional Western Caucus:

Today, Western Caucus Chairman Stevan Pearce (R-NM) and Congressman Don Young (AK-At Large) released the following statements about how the continued turmoil in the Middle East – and the escalating situation in Libya – will affect America’s energy security, economy and energy prices:

“The last six weeks of unrest in the Middle East and Africa, most recently in Egypt and Libya, has cast a spotlight on the Obama Administration’s failed energy policies and has further reminded Americans of our dangerous dependency on unstable, foreign sources of oil. As analysts are warning Americans to prepare for escalating gas prices that could easily reach over $4.00 a gallon, President Obama needs to be reminded of the nation’s abundant resources here at home – both onshore and off.

“With consumers paying roughly 50 cents more a gallon than a year ago, we need immediate action by this Administration to unlock access to our nation’s plentiful resource base. Alarm bells should be going off at the White House, as oil is now at a price not seen since the recession began. With so much at stake for American families and small businesses across the U.S., it’s time to encourage and support access to all sources of domestic energy.

“With estimates by a recently released economic study by Northern Economics that the development of oil and gas resources in Alaska’s Arctic outer continental shelf (OCS) could produce almost 10 billion barrels of oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – creating an annual average of almost 55,000 new jobs and a total of $193 billion in government revenue for the next 50 years – it’s clear that we need a drastic change in U.S. energy policy. Together, the thousands of good-paying jobs and increased energy security that will be created by accessing America’s resources – from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the West -- could provide a significant countermeasure to the concerns raised by current events in the Middle East,” said Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce.

“While Moammar Gadhafi is threatening to blow up oil pipelines, our President is telling the American people we don’t need to develop our natural resources. Instead, we are going to warm our homes by sunlight and use a few Duracells to power our cars. That’s easy to say from the comfort of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but it’s a little harder to swallow if you are an everyday American trying to support your family through this brutally cold winter. Due to regulatory delays and uncertainty, Shell had to forgo their 2011 exploratory program in Alaska and late last year the Administration issued a moratorium on offshore leasing that was destined to have dire effects on the economy. We are forcing the United States closer and closer to third-world status with this incredibly closed-minded approach to energy development. As gas prices rise higher and higher this year, and the American people are not in fact able to fill up their tanks with sunshine and a smile, I hope that this President will wake up and stop putting the extreme environmentalists before the good of this country,” added Congressman Don Young.

UC reminds of oak toxicity potential

From the California Cattlemen's Association:

After a few warm weeks throughout the state this winter and the news of more winter storms on the way, CCA wants to pass on information from the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) that is important for cattle producers to be aware of.

According to an article from John Maas, DVM, published in the January 2008 issue of the California Cattleman magazine, there are more than 50 common species of oak trees in California all containing some levels of the chemicals that can cause problems in cattle. Maas says oak buds, young leaves and fresh acorns have the highest level of toxins. Many oak trees in California have already began to bud in the warmth of early spring. As seen in past years, the threat of cold weather, especially snow in the foothills, can cause these buds to fall off trees and into the hay or forage on the ground, and subsequently may be eaten by livestock, causing a wide variety of cattle health problems.

To read the article in its entirety click here. You may also learn more about this problem and how you can best avoid it by contacting your local UCCE Livestock Farm Advisor.

Public Lands Council: Block 'Wild Lands' designation

From the Public Lands Council:

The Public Lands Council (PLC) Executive Director Dustin Van Liew said blocking funds to implement the Department of the Interior’s “Wild Lands” Secretarial Order 3310 (the Order) and halting payments authorized under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) are encouraging signs members of the U.S. House of Representatives are listening to the concerns of public lands ranchers. These funding limitations were attached to H.R. 1, a continuing resolution (CR) approved by the U.S. House of Representatives to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. The CR has now moved to the Senate for consideration.

Last month, PLC submitted a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar voicing opposition to the Order, which directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to designate areas with wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as “Wild Lands” and to manage them to “protect” their wilderness values.

“Shifting the BLM’s focus from multiple-use management to management for wilderness characteristics, as the Order would do, presents a threat to the longstanding multiple-use activities on public lands, including livestock grazing,” Van Liew said. “The Order would have far-reaching negative effects on public lands ranchers and the communities that rely on a thriving ranching industry. The administration should not be allowed to make decisions of such magnitude without getting input from local stakeholders or Congress’ consent.”

With regard to EAJA, Van Liew also said Representative Cynthia Lummis’ (R-Wyo.) amendment is a win for livestock producers.

“For years, radical environmental extremists have abused EAJA to fund petty lawsuits designed to bring down the public lands livestock grazing industry and other multiple-use industries,” Van Liew said. “As it stands, ranchers impacted by these suits must pay crippling legal fees to defend their land, business or way of life against the lawsuit. At the very same time, their own hard-earned money is being used to help pay the attorney fees for the very groups attacking them. It’s a true injustice.”

The Lummis amendment would put a six-month moratorium on all payments from EAJA to give Congress the time to study the issue and make necessary changes. Van Liew added that, while there has been no real oversight of EAJA, the cost to taxpayers reportedly exceeds $37 million in payments to radical environmental groups, many whose net worth exceeds $50 million.

“While the CR is not a done deal and still faces tests in the Senate before it can be sent to the President, it is encouraging that the House has included these two critical funding limitations,” Van Liew said, “PLC encourages the Senate to retain both the block on funding to implement the Order as well as the halt on EAJA payments.”

The PLC's partner organization, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, also applauds the House's amendment to deprive the Environmental Protection Agency of funding to regulate dust and impose Total Maximum Daily Load regulations on states around the Chesapeake Bay. States Colin Woodall, the NCBA's vice president of governmental affairs:

“I hope the activists turned government officials at the Environmental Protection Agency were listening to the very clear signal sent by the U.S. House of Representatives that enough is enough. Our elected leaders are growing weary of defending this agency that appears to be determined to put farmers and ranchers out of business. Burdensome, job stifling regulations are never a good thing. But when you have a struggling economy on the verge of a rebound, government overreach is definitely not a way to stimulate job growth and economic recovery. On behalf of U.S. cattlemen and women, I commend Representatives Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) for leading the charge against overregulation and in support of economic growth in rural America and throughout the country.

“As a cattle rancher, Rep. Noem understands that dust is a part of farming and ranching. It seems like a no-brainer but apparently EPA officials haven’t stepped off the city sidewalks lately. We are thankful Rep. Noem’s commonsense and knowledge of the agricultural industry prevailed in the House over attempts to regulate family farmers and ranchers out of business. Regulating dust on a farm or ranch is like regulating flour in a bakery. Quite simply, it is ridiculous. Almost every farm and ranch in the country would be found noncompliant for going about their everyday activities ranging from driving a truck on a gravel road or moving cattle from one lot to the next. We all need to stop and question EPA’s motives since it is well known that scientific studies have never shown, whatsoever, that agricultural dust at ambient levels causes health concerns.

“Representatives Goodlatte and Rooney, both from states where agriculture is extremely important, understand the need for peer reviewed science before you impose regulations that would cause for sale signs to become a frequent occurrence on farms and ranchers across the country. Rep. Goodlatte’s amendment to stop funding for EPA to implement its TMDL rule for the Chesapeake Bay, which is based on flawed scientific assumptions, could also prevent the model from becoming a template for other watersheds. EPA’s data was even proven inaccurate by another agency in the same administration. One would think that contradiction would encourage EPA to take another look. Rep. Rooney’s amendment would protect cattle producers in Florida from EPA’s extremely detrimental, scientifically indefensible nutrient criteria rule. Both of these rules, if implemented, will cost cattle producers millions of dollars in compliance costs, financially devastate state economies and erase thousands of jobs.

“We hope these amendments don’t stop with the U.S. House of Representatives. We urge the Senate to follow suit if they plan to stop government overreach and job stifling regulations.”

Van Liew told me yesterday his organization has reached out to senators about the "Wild Lands" designation, adding that Western senators have voiced concerns about the program. He noted several letters written to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, including one from the Idaho delegation and another from the Western Caucus.

"We're optimistic that the Senate will be on board with both of these issues," Van Liew told me. "Specifically our Western senators have voiced opposition to the Wild Lands order. The EAJA funding is a little less certain at this point, but they do from the West on the Senate side realize there's an issue there.

"We need to have a period where Congress can look into the payments -- the amount of payments, where they're going and how that fits in with the overall budget concerns for the country," he said.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Obama to Israel: Drop dead (literally)

OK, the headline's a little over the top. But this is what happens when the U.S. president turns his back on one of America's staunchest allies.

All of the sudden, it's open season.

Here's a little dime-store political punditry for you: My hunch is that President Obama could host 10 more prayer breakfasts and start quoting Bible verses left and right and not undo the damage he's done to himself with evangelicals with this and other decisions he's made in the past week.

'They want to turn human beings into livestock'

On this week's radio show, "We The People," activist Michael Shaw picked up where Michael Coffman left off with regard to Agenda 21, the United Nations' so-called sustainable development initiative that critics say would abolish private property as we know it.

Shaw said he believes efforts by the United Nations and others to remove human beings from rural areas is working; he notes that there are about half the number of ranchers in America today than there were 20 years ago. As people continue to be pushed into urban areas, it will be the animals who will roam free and the people will be in cages, in the form of "smart" communities, he said.

While areas like far Northern California have little voice in their state capital or even in Washington, the true battleground for implementation of Agenda 21 is with local government, including special districts and school boards, he said. The first community that rejects so-called "sustainable" planning principles could set a trend, he said.

You can listen online here. The Web site for Agenda 21 is here.

USCA: Ranchers still 'wrangling the recession'

From the United States Cattlemen's Association:

Ranchers from across the country will converge in Washington, D.C. next week for the U.S. Cattlemen's Association's "Ranchers Wrangling the Recession" Washington, D.C. Fly-In 2011. State leaders representing a variety of regions within the U.S. will be in the nation's capital advocating for ranchers' best interests during a packed schedule of meetings.

Producers from California, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, Virginia, Texas, and Wyoming will arrive in D.C. on February 28 and will spend the following days speaking to agency officials and their respective elected representatives about issues vital to the cattle industry. Specific issues that will be addressed include continued discussion on establishing competitive and transparent markets within the industry, country of origin labeling, current trade policy, animal health concerns with regard to Foot and Mouth Disease and the domestic and international safeguards currently in place, animal disease traceability program updates, and support for Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) reform.

The producers will be discussing these issues with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as with their state's Senators and respective regions' Representatives.

USCA President Jon Wooster noted, "U.S. cattle producers play a key role in pulling this country out of the recession, and getting on the right track towards economic prosperity. Key legislation and federal policies dealing with country of origin labeling, competition in the marketplace, and the prevention of the introduction of foot and mouth disease could be the difference between agricultural poverty and prosperity."

The fly-in will wrap up with a Wednesday, March 2nd Capitol Hill reception. For more information about the fly-in, or specific media based questions, please contact Kelly Fogarty at 202-870-3342.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snow in Redding on Thursday?

The National Weather Service predicts it's likely, with accumulation of less than a half-inch during the day and another half-inch Thursday night. In fact, the weather service predicts an outside chance of snow for Red Bluff.

Kathy Hoxsie, the weather service's warning coordinator in Sacramento, told me today that she expects this persistent parade of weather systems to last at least until early to mid-March. Then once we dry out a bit, another week or two of storms could arrive in April or early May, she said.

Here is the February and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for Redding and other selected California cities, according to the NWS. Totals are as of Monday:
Redding: Month to date 3.42 inches (normal 4.16 inches); season to date 20.93 inches (normal 22.29 inches)
Sacramento: Month to date 2.06 inches (normal 2.70 inches); season to date 13.12 inches (normal 12.54 inches)
Stockton: Month to date 1.68 inches (normal 1.89 inches); season to date 10.49 inches (normal 9.44 inches)
Modesto: Month to date 1.89 inches (normal 1.82 inches); season to date 9.39 inches (normal 8.67 inches)
Salinas: Month to date 2.48 inches (normal 1.87 inches); season to date 9.92 inches (normal 8.69 inches)
Fresno: Month to date 1.02 inches (normal 1.56 inches); season to date 10.90 inches (normal 7.09 inches)

The voters and public employee unions

Rasmussen Reports has a lengthy and very useful poll out that gauges voters' comfort levels with public employee unions. The upshot:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters agree more with the Republican governor [of Wisconsin] in his dispute with union workers. Thirty-eight percent (38%) agree more with the unionized public employees, while 14% are undecided.

A more telling sign of public mood with regard to Wisconsin can be found by looking at unaffiliated voters.

Public employee unions have long been strong supporters, financially and otherwise, of Democratic Party candidates, so it’s no surprise that 68% of Democrats support the union workers in the Wisconsin dispute. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Republicans and 56% of voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties side with the governor.

Meanwhile, I still keep getting notes like this one from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which still thinks I'm a supporter and not a reporter (or it thinks the two are one and the same):

Tim Hearden,

Here’s the latest from Wisconsin: Democrats are continuing to stand up to Gov. Scott Walker and the radical Republican agenda, and people from all over are voicing their solidarity with Wisconsin’s teachers and other workers. But Walker is pushing back hard. The billionaire Koch brothers have even gotten involved – busing in tea party protesters.

I wanted to make sure you had the chance to sign our petition.

I never underestimate the ability of Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot. But judging from the Rasmussen poll, one has to wonder if the Democrats haven't put themselves on the wrong side of a very important issue in the minds of voters during a national fiscal crisis. People don't like leaders who shrink from the challenges of their times, nor are they in much of a mood to see endless pictures of public employees playing the role of union thugs and crashing the doors of statehouses. I have to wonder if these images won't be remembered come next year's elections.

Red meat exports boost trade balance

From the U.S. Meat Export Federation:

The U.S. balance of trade received a $4.24 billion shot in the arm courtesy of the red meat industry in 2010, according to statistics released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Record-high export values for beef ($4.08 billion) and the second-highest total on record for pork ($4.78 billion) fueled the trade surplus.

“The United States agriculture sector not only is feeding much of the world, but it’s an important source of jobs and revenue for our country,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF.

The U.S. beef industry exported 2.35 billion pounds valued at $4.08 billion in 2010, increases of 19 percent in volume and 32 percent in value over 2009. Beef exports exceeded imports by 605.1 million pounds and $1.155 billion in value.

Similarly, U.S. pork exports increased 3 percent in volume to 4.23 billion pounds and 10 percent in value to $4.78 billion versus 2009 totals. Those exports exceeded imports by 3.4 billion pounds and $3.58 billion in value.

Only U.S. lamb had an export deficit. Exports of 23.5 million pounds valued at $20.6 million compared with imports of 126.2 million pounds valued at $490 million.

Total U.S. red meat exports in 2010 were valued at $8.88 billion, 19.4 percent higher than the previous year and 4 percent higher than the previous record set in 2008.

That $8.88 billion in exports supports an estimated 107,000 U.S. jobs, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calculations, with every billion dollars in U.S. agricultural exports supporting approximately 12,000 American jobs.

“The value of U.S. red meat exports can be measured in many ways,” Seng said. “For example, in 2010, the incremental value of beef exports equated to $153.09 for every steer and heifer processed. For hogs, the incremental value of exports was $43.72 per head.”

Another way to measure the value of exports, Seng said, was the return on investment that it provides for the taxpayers’ support of USMEF’s proactive efforts to support exports in 80 countries around the world. Of USMEF’s $35.3 million budget, just over half ($18.4 million) came from USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, with the balance coming in the form of support from the beef, pork, corn and soybean industries and USMEF members. An additional $24.3 million was contributed by international third-party organizations that USMEF partners with in its market development activities.

A recent independent study conducted by IHS Global Insight, Inc., for USDA found that for every $1 expended by government and industry on market development, U.S. food and agricultural exports increased by $35. Based on that formula, the collective $59.6 million that USMEF drew from all of its funding sources in 2010 created a $2.1 billion benefit for U.S. red meat exports.

“The decision by our legislators to invest in programs like the Market Access Program creates a multiplier effect that boosts exports, creates jobs and keeps the U.S. agriculture sector vibrant and profitable,” said Seng. “That $18.4 million investment USDA made in the U.S. red meat sector through USMEF in 2010 will pay dividends in American jobs for years to come.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Poll: Reagan most influential

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Just in time for Presidents Day, a Rasmussen poll found that a plurality of Americans consider Ronald Reagan the most influential president in the last 50 years.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 37% of American Adults consider Reagan the most influential president in the last 50 years. John F. Kennedy is a distant second with 21%, closely followed by Bill Clinton who earns 19% support. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just five percent (5%) say George W. Bush was most influential, followed by Lyndon B. Johnson (4%), Jimmy Carter (3%) and Richard M. Nixon (2%). Bottoming out the list are George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford with one percent (1%) support each. Barack Obama was not on the list since his presidency is not yet over.

My take: Reagan may hold a special place in Americans' hearts, but considering the advancement of government control and authority at all levels in the past two decades, the notion of whether Reagan's principles had a lasting impact on the American people is at best an open question.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

CCA president attends White House event

From the California Cattlemen's Association:

California Cattlemen’s Association President Kevin Kester, a rancher from Parkfield, Calif., was in our nation’s capital yesterday to represent California beef producers at a White House event focused on lasting conservation of the outdoor spaces that power our nation’s economy, shape our culture and build our outdoor traditions.

The event was centered around the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which was established by President Obama on April 16, 2010, when he charged the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation strategy based on the priorities of American communities. CCA has been involved with the initiative’s evolution from the beginning to ensure that the perspective of landowners remains paramount in the discussion.

CCA officers and staff attended meetings throughout the state last year to share comments and concerns about the initiative and represent ranchers and their outstanding stewardship of our national resources and open spaces.

According to the Obama Administration, this initiative seeks to reinvigorate our approach to conservation and reconnect Americans, especially young people, with the lands and waters that are used for farming and ranching, hunting and fishing, and for families to spend quality time together.

According to Kester, the initiative provides opportunities for private landowners to share their perspective to help Americans interested in the outdoors realize the importance of ranching and private property ownership to land management in our state and across the country.

“Family ranches steward both public and private land across California and the entire nation, contributing to local economies and creating healthy landscapes that support their families and benefit the public,” Kester said. “By keeping land in agriculture production and avoiding decision-making aimed at centralized designation that reduce management of our nation’s lands, we are ensuring the future of American traditions, keeping space open for all to enjoy and providing wholesome nutrition for all Americans. CCA appreciates the Administration’s continued invitations to participate and hope to see this initiative foster the types of partnerships necessary for farmers and ranchers to continue the admirable work they have done for our country for generations.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin: What it all means

Michael Walsh nails it on the head at National Review Online's The Corner:

Wisconsin is the Spanish Civil War of our own Cold Civil War, the testing ground for the combat to come in 2012. The Left understands this, which is they why are pouring their Organizing-for-America Lincoln Brigades into Madison; they know that if they lose there, they will lose the larger war. That if the coercive power of the public-employee unions can be broken in Wisconsin, with its history of homespun (as opposed to Alinsky) progressivism, it can be broken elsewhere.

This isn’t just a fight about the teachers’ union, or even about the pusillanimous Democratic legislators who, like the hapless Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo, have fled the jurisdiction. This isn’t even really a fight about labor unions. It’s a fight about the nature of our federal union, and which is to be master: Barack Obama or the Constitution that he swore (twice!) to uphold.

Put another way, the Wisconsin standoff brings us front and center to perhaps the defining question of our time: Who runs the country -- the people and the leaders they elect, or a ruling class of professional bureaucrats and the government-funded activist organizations with whom they work in tandem? How this question is answered in the coming months and years will determine whether America is to continue to be rooted in liberty.

Are conservatives against motherhood?

Redding.com's Bruce Ross noticed my post the other day on Michelle Malkin criticizing Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, focusing on this section of Malkin's column:

As part of her "Let's Move!" anniversary celebration this week, Mrs. Obama rolled out a new breastfeeding initiative because "kids who are breastfed longer have a lower tendency to be obese." She made her assertion to an invitation-only group of handpicked reporters who were barred from asking questions about her scientific conclusions. It's not healthy to challenge Super Nanny, you see.

After the Internal Revenue Service carefully studied and rejected an advocacy push to treat nursing equipment as a tax-deductible medical expense last fall, the tax agency suddenly reversed itself in time for the first lady's new public relations tour. The surgeon general has also issued a "Call to Action" to pressure private businesses to adopt more nursing-friendly environments to combat childhood obesity, all while denying that government is intruding on personal decisions. "No mother should be made to feel guilty if she cannot or chooses not to breastfeed," Surgeon General Regina Benjamin asserted, while laying an unmistakable guilt trip on moms and moms-to-be.

So, what do studies on breastfeeding and babies' weight actually say? Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D., research director of George Mason University's Statistical Assessment Service, points out that the literature is inconclusive or demonstrates that the health advantages of bosom over bottle are short-lived:

"Indeed, there is little evidence that using formula causes obesity. There is a correlation between formula use and obesity among babies and children ... though this correlation is not consistent in all studies. Some of these studies show a relationship in only some demographics and not others. Others show that the disadvantage of bottle-feeding and/or formula mostly goes away by the time a child is about 4 years old.

"The result is that we cannot discover whether breastfeeding is correlated with obesity because infant formula or bottle feeding leads to subsequent overeating or disposition to being overweight, or whether those parents who breastfeed are also more likely to offer their children green beans instead of French fries. Despite weak evidence, there is a lingering conviction that formula causes obesity among pediatricians and the press; if anything, the study about infants should make us reflect more carefully on this conclusion."

Bruce comments:

The beautiful part is that the first lady (following the lead of the activist group Moms Rising) had an event promoting a tax write-off for breastfeeding accoutrements, an issue on which the IRS has recently reversed itself.

I can actually see the IRS' original point --- that for tax purposes, breast milk is more like food than like medicine. But it caused a fuss among breastfeeding promoters and the agency came around.

Now, in a normal universe, I'd think conservative pundits would be railing against heartless IRS bureaucrats and in favor of family-friendly tax cuts. But by gum, if someone named Obama is for it, then Michelle Malkin and Co. must certainly be against it.

You can read Bruce's post here, along with nearly a dozen reader responses.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Outrage in Wisconsin

Would you leave your children to the care and teaching of individuals who lie to their employers that they're sick so they can shut down schools, take part in what amounts to an illegal strike and storm the state Capitol in a violent rage?

As for me, I wouldn't.

And make no mistake -- this problem is not confined to Wisconsin. Wait until your state's governor or legislature proposes serious cuts in education, and the same things will happen in your state. President Obama's minions will see to it.

Low snow levels in NorCal

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After an unexpected spring break, winter is back in session in far Northern California. Light snow has been falling this morning along the Sacramento River in central Redding, though the ground is too wet for any to stick.

Here's Redding's seven-day forecast, according to the National Weather Service:

Today: Showers. High near 41. South southeast wind between 5 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Tonight: Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. Light and variable wind. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Friday: A 40 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 49. Calm wind becoming north northeast between 5 and 8 mph.

Friday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36. North northeast wind between 3 and 7 mph.

Saturday: A 30 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 50. North northwest wind between 5 and 8 mph.

Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 37.

Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 50.

Sunday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38.

Washington's Birthday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 53.

Monday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36.

Tuesday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 52.

Tuesday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36.

Wednesday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 51.

A winter storm warning is here. Chain requirements are in effect on many mountain roads; if you're in the area, you can listen to continuous Caltrans radio updates at AM 1610.

Poll: Neither party wants enough cuts

From Rasmussen Reports:

Most voters don’t think President Obama’s proposed $3.7 trillion federal budget includes enough spending cuts, and despite House Republican plans to cut substantially more, a plurality of voters don’t think the GOP goes far enough either.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters say, generally speaking, that the president’s budget proposal cuts government spending too little. Ten percent (10%) say it cuts too much, while 26% say his budget cuts about the right amount. (To see survey question wording, click here).

While congressional Republicans are criticizing the president for not cutting enough and are planning much bigger budget cuts, 40% of voters say, generally speaking, that the changes proposed by the GOP also cut government spending too little. Twenty-eight percent (28%) say Republicans want to cut too much, while 18% think their planned budget cuts are about right. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.

Republican voters are even more critical of the legislators from their own party. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Republicans say the changes proposed by congressional Republicans cut too little, a view shared by 41% of voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties. Forty-six percent (46%) of Democrats think the GOP wants to cut too much.

While voters by and large are serious about addressing the dangers posed by a runaway budget deficit, it appears they don't think their leaders in Washington -- of either party -- are very serious. That could spell primary trouble for a great many members of Congress next year.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ag career day points the way

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California State University-Chico's College of Agriculture held its eighth annual career fair for students today, and 35 vendors participated -- up from 27 a year ago, fair coordinator Susie Funk said.

"It seems like more jobs are coming available and more internships," she said. "We have several new companies this year that have never been here."

Students walked around the pavilion at the university farm and talked to representatives of seed companies, nut growers, poultry farms, the USDA's veterinary services office and other industry representatives.

"I think it's great," said student Jessica Cook, 21, of Santa Rosa. "It gives us an opportunity (to meet prospective employers). It kind of forces us to go out, too."

For more details about the event, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Michelle Obama's 'junk science'

Michelle Malkin today skewers Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, and uses a study done in the Pacific Northwest as ammunition. (Hat tip: Laura Ingraham)

Take another East Wing pet project: leaning on private businesses to print expanded front-package nutrition labels warning consumers about salt, fat and sugar. The first lady's anti-fat brigade assumes as an article of faith that her top-down designer food labels will encourage healthier eating habits. It's a "no-brainer," Mrs. Obama insists.

However, the latest study on this very subject -- funded by no less than the left-wing Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- confirms other recent research contradicting the East Wing push. A team led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School's Eric Finkelstein, published in the peer-reviewed American Journal for Preventive Medicine, found that mandatory menu-labeling in Seattle restaurants did not affect consumers' calorie consumption. "Given the results of prior studies, we had expected the results to be small," the researchers reported, "but we were surprised that we could not detect even the slightest hint of changes in purchasing behavior as a result of the legislation."

Will the first lady and her food cops be chastened by the science that undermines their spin? Fat chance.

Chico State's sheep and goat day draws hundreds

From the California State University-Chico College of Agriculture:

California State University, Chico College of Agriculture hosted Sheep and Goat Educational Day and Sale on Feb. 12 at the University Farm.
The day included educational workshops, a trade show and a sale of lambs and goats.

“More than 550 guests attended the Sheep and Goat Educational Day, making it one of the largest in attendance the event has had,” said Celina Johnson, an assistant professor of animal science.

The educational workshops included nutrition, reproduction, project kid and lamb selection, lamb and meat goat showmanship, lamb and meat goat fitting and a California State Fair Quality Assurance Program. Participants were able to attend up to four workshops.

CSU, Chico Stock Dog Association demonstrated herding sheep with their dogs.

After the workshops were over, attendees were given the opportunity to purchase lambs and goats for their own fair projects. The sale featured 10 meat goat wethers and 60 club lambs, including 10 lambs raised by the CSU, Chico Sheep and Goat Unit. The lambs’ sale price averaged $330 and the goats’ price averaged $280.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Obama wants to boost funding for NPR

From Matthew Shaffer of NRO's The Corner:

As Byron York reports over at the Washington Examiner, NPR just sent Pres. Barack Obama a thank-you press release. His proposed budget includes “$451 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for the two year advance appropriation for FY 2014.” That’s “an increase of $6 million over FY 2013 funding.”

The increase is a bit surprising for three reasons. First, after NPR fired Juan Williams, many Republicans vowed to try to defund NPR entirely, and many liberals joined in decrying NPR’s act. Second, Obama claimed he would be looking at discretionary spending with green eye shades. Third, NPR, whatever its virtues, isn’t exactly essential for keeping people off the streets (it’s better for keeping commuting yuppies happy). Those facts combined to create an expectation that NPR would face budgetary pressure. In the press release, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller made the boilerplate argument that in our current economic difficulties, her company is more important than ever.

One possible factor in Obama’s desire to increase funding for NPR: His donors overlap with theirs substantially.

So are we really to believe that a media organization that would thank the president publicly for his funding proposal could be trusted to cover said White House objectively?

Government radio, indeed.

Why is the Tea Party Express thanking journalists, too?

In response to my post last week, a former colleague and Facebook friend e-mailed to remind me that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee isn't the only organization sending its fund-raising mail to reporters.

He recently received this from the Tea Party Express:

This week, we here at the Tea Party Express unveiled our first four U.S. Senators we are targeting for defeat in the upcoming congressional elections - as we work to add on to the gains we made in the 2010 Midterm Elections.

The first 4 targets for defeat were: Dick Lugar (R-Indiana), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan).

Some media outlets said we were mean to attack these people because they are respected so much by some of their fellow Senators. Others said we could never raise enough money to be victorious. Other media outlets just said that we were right-wing extremists.

We've heard these attacks before from the media, right? It's what all the "journalists" kept saying about us last year - and we proved them wrong over and over and over again.

Well, it's time to prove them wrong again. And so as this week comes to a close we are asking for your help. Let us show the media that we certainly CAN raise the money to be successful, and that we are starting right now, so that we can have the resources necessary to obtain victory on Election Day.

We're fighting for our country - and we're committed to the constitutional principles as laid out by our Founding Fathers. It's our duty to preserve freedom and pass it on to the next generation, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

So they're sending appeals for help in invalidating the news media -- to members of the news media. To quote a former editor, isn't that special?

The point is, these groups are big-league, national organizations with millions of supporters' dollars passing through their fingertips. Wouldn't you think they could employ people to make sure their donor lists and press lists don't get mixed up?

Sheesh.

Klamath Basin meeting agenda set

From the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council:

DRAFT AGENDA
KLAMATH BASIN COORDINATING COUNCIL MEETING

February 24, 2011, 9 am
Running Y Conference Center, Klamath Falls, Oregon

1. Introductions and review agenda.

2. General public comment.

3. Approve summary from December 15, 2010 KBCC meeting (Ed Sheets).

4. Review status of implementing the Hydroelectric Settlement (Tim Hemstreet).

5. Status report on Power for Water Management Program

a. Klamath Basin Power Alliance formation
b. Communications plan.
c. Eligibility for power program.
d. Federal power program.

6. Status report on development of Klamath Fisheries Restoration and Monitoring Plan
(Klamath Fish Managers).

7. Review KBRA implementation.

a. Funding for Klamath Basin activities in FY 2012 Budget (Laidlaw).
b. Discuss KBRA budget review (Sheets).
c. Review workplan and schedule for implementing Restoration Agreement
(Sheets).

8. Status report on Interim Technical Advisory Team (Sheets).

9. Review status of draft Drought Plan (Drought Plan Lead Entity).

10. Discuss status of draft FACA charters for Klamath Basin Advisory Council and
Technical Advisory Team.

11. Discuss communications and outreach plan (Ed Sheets, Craig Tucker and Glen
Spain).

12. Public comment period.

13. Discuss next steps for April 7th KBCC meeting in Fortuna, California.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Obama wants to 'strengthen' United Nations

Perhaps -- just maybe -- one for the "Michael Coffman Ain't So Crazy" file.

Politico reports:

Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, will argue in a major address Friday evening that the U.S. should “strengthen” — not “starve” — the world body.

The address is the first in a series of speeches — to continue this spring — making the case to the American people for why the U.N. matters to national security, and detailing how it is being improved. The ambassador will be speaking to the World Affairs Council of Oregon, in Portland.

“The U.N. provides a real return on our tax dollars by bringing 192 countries together to share the cost of providing stability, vital aid, and hope in the world’s most broken places,” Rice plans to say, according to prepared remarks.

“Because of the U.N., the world doesn’t look to America to solve every problem alone. … We’re far better off working to strengthen the U.N. than trying to starve it — and then having to choose between filling the void ourselves, or leaving real threats untended.”

Global governance, anyone?

9th circuit to hear Delta smelt suit Tuesday

From the Pacific Legal Foundation:

NEXT TUES.: 9TH CIRCUIT ORAL ARGUMENT IN PLF’S COMMERCE CLAUSE CHALLENGE TO DELTA SMELT REGS

February 15, 2011 – 9:00 a.m. (PST) court docket

WHERE: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Courtroom One, 95 7th Street San Francisco, CA 94103.

WHAT: Oral argument in PLF’s constitutional challenge to the federal government’s Delta smelt regulations (Stewart & Jasper Orchards v. Salazar). This lawsuit presents a constitutional challenge to the Delta smelt "biological opinion" that led to draconian cutbacks on pumping into the main water system serving the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys represent three San Joaquin Valley farmers hard hit by the federally mandated water cutbacks (http://www.pacificlegal.org/Page.aspx?pid=902).

PLF argues that the federal government lacks constitutional authority (under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause) to issue regulations on the Delta smelt, a fish found only in California and without commercial value.

Access PLF’s briefs in the "case resources" column (http://www.pacificlegal.org/Page.aspx?pid=900).

WHEN: Tuesday, February 15, 2011. Oral argument will be held during the court’s 9 a.m. docket.

WHO: PLF attorney Brandon Middleton will present oral argument on behalf of PLF’s clients and constitutional cause of action.

It's official: U.S. meat exports break records

The U.S. Meat Export Federation has the details here. The upshot:

December statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) confirm that 2010 was the best year ever for U.S. beef export value. A final total of $4.08 billion breaks the pre-BSE high from 2003 of $3.86 billion by more than 5 percent and exceeds the 2009 total by nearly $1 billion. Total volume was 1.067 million metric tons, an increase of 19 percent over 2009.

Pork export value posted the second-best year on record at $4.78 billion, falling just 2 percent short of the 2008 high and besting 2009 by more than 10 percent. Total volume was 1.918 million metric tons - an increase of 3 percent over the previous year.

USMEF spokesman Jim Herlihy told me this morning that overseas consumer confidence in American meat has been growing, and the U.S. has been benefiting from some misfortunes facing some of its competitors, including foot and mouth disease in South Korea, drought in China, unfavorable weather in Australia and restrictions on beef exports from Argentina.

For more on this, check CapitalPress.com later this week.

The UN and global governance: What Michael Coffman actually said

After Michael Coffman's keynote speech Thursday for the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference, media reports -- mine and others -- mostly glossed over his lengthy segment detailing what he sees as the global aims of environmental true-believers. Lest we let any misconceptions linger, it's fair to take a closer look at what he said.

Coffman started by asserting that much of the nation's current cultural divide can be traced back to two men in the 18th century -- John Locke, the English philosopher who believed property was a natural right, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the French writer who heavily influenced the French Revolution and was "the father of European socialism," according to Coffman. Put another way, we're in a "battle of worldviews," with one side believing rights come from God and the other thinking they come from government, he said.

America's Founding Fathers believed that the purpose of government was to preserve private property, Coffman said. Thomas Jefferson was one who believed strongly in distributed government, which necessarily makes government less efficient, he said.

Today you hear calls for government to be more efficient, but "the only way government can be more efficient is to take your liberty away and put it in the hands of bureaucrats," Coffman said. "That's exactly what's happening."

Private property
Why are private property rights so important? Because according to recent data, Americans' average annual income of $45,000 was well above "socialist" Europe's $34,000, while the income in former communist countries was just $2,000 a year, Coffman said.

"The amount of regulation determines your gross domestic product and the average income of your citizens," he said. "It's a striking relationship, one we need to be aware of because we're struggling with more and more regulation." In the U.S., some 50,000 pages of new regulations are introduced each year, he said.

After a trip to France during the revolution there, Thomas Jefferson believed "Washington would become oppressive" if it followed the French model, Coffman said.

"He knew what was going to happen," Coffman said. "He could see the day we're living in today and realized Washington ... would become venal and oppressive and it's happening before our eyes."

All of this leads to the modern environmental movement, whose leaders mostly hold to the collectivist idea that private property is evil and have embarked on a slow, decades-long offensive against property rights worldwide, he said. Here, Coffman noted that he doesn't believe every environmentalist thinks private property is evil, but many of their groups' leaders do. And he said these people don't make up a large segment of the population, but they're present in many vestiges of power around the world -- particularly in the United Nations.

This worldview in the 1960s and '70s led to the creation of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other regulatory vehicles to control what happens on both public and private land nationwide, he said. In 1973, the Adirondack Park Agency was created in upstate New York, which "gave a state agency total control absolute control over anything that could happen in the park" which included public and private lands in a huge swath of the state. That became a model for similar land-use-controlling agencies around the world, Coffman said.

The United Nations
This brings us to the U.N., and specifically its Department of Economic and Social Affairs' Division of Sustainable Development. Its core document is Agenda 21, which Coffman characterizes as a 40-chapter document that spells out how every human being is going to be controlled. Here's how the UN's Web site describes it.

Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.

Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by more than 178 Governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 3 to 14 June 1992.

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, to monitor and report on implementation of the agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. It was agreed that a five year review of Earth Summit progress would be made in 1997 by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in special session.

The full implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Commitments to the Rio principles, were strongly reaffirmed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 August to 4 September 2002.

Each section of the document is available for reading online. Coffman notes that it uses phrases that we've all heard, such as creating a "green economy" and "decoupling" environmental impacts from the use of natural resources and economic growth.

"A nation can't survive without the use of natural resources," he said.

Coffman said a working document of the EPA speaks of "amending national policies to achieve international obligations." A Cllinton-era document, Sustainable America, was based on Agenda 21, he said.

'Central principle'
"This now has become the central principle of every federal agency of the United States," Coffman said. "You're dealing with a mentality ... meant to put you out of business. Every federal agency is in the loop."

Coffman argues evidence of environmental leaders pantheistic worldview can be found in the UN's Global Biodiversity Assessment in the 1990s. Christopher Woodward of Suite101.com explains:

Section 11 of the GBA states that there are too many people in the world living at too high a material standard, and offers two options for how to address this. The first option is for most human beings to live as “peasants”, which would allow for a population of 5 to 7 billion people. Alternatively, the GBA states, that “a reasonable estimate for an industrialised world society at the present North American material standard of living would be 1 billion."

Under Section 12, the GBA condemns Christianity by denouncing the “western worldview” for its “denial of the sacred attributes of nature which became firmly established with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious traditions” It contrasts this with the "traditional worldview" where humans see “themselves as members of a community that not only includes other humans, but also plants and animals as well as rocks.... People are then members of a community of beings -- living and non-living. Thus rivers may be viewed as mothers. Animals may be treated as kin."

The GBA also attacks property rights stating that they should be “usufructual.” The concept of usufructual rights was established during the Roman Empire and meant that everything is owned by Caesar, who distributes the right to use property by permit.

"What can we do to heal America?" Coffman said. "We need to expose the progressives in Congress and in the legislatures and let people know who they are. They are extremely dangerous.

"They literally do not know what it takes to put food on the table," he said. "You cannot convince them of anything ... They want to do good. They don't want to do evil. But they are doing evil by the bucketfuls. They're destroying American society as we know it."

'Crazy'
Sound crazy? Nadine Bailey, the logging conference spokeswoman and a long-time acquaintance of Coffman, thought so when she first heard him speak about these issues 15 years ago. In fact she used the word "crazy" during her introduction of Coffman on Thursday. But she doesn't think it's crazy anymore after seeing the way things have turned out, she said.

As for me, whenever I hear folks talking about global governance or a new world order, I tend to start thinking, "Much easier said (or feared) than done." World government? Try telling that to the protesters in Egypt who've grown violent over the mere hint of foreign interference. North American Union? Heck, the most weak-kneed immigration bill in Congress sparks so much controversy that there's little hope one will get passed anytime soon, whatever its benefits for ag. Shoot, they're having trouble keeping the European Union together, and that's just one continent.

On the other hand, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that there are like-minded bureaucrats at all levels who dream of more power and more control, that a good number of them reside at the U.N., and that environmentalism is one of their favorite tools. The fruit of their labors is self-evident. The fact that Michael Coffman has spent a career meticulously documenting these labors and warning others of their dangers is to me simply an example of a citizen taking part in the political process.

For his part, Coffman hasn't been hiding behind his book. Over the past week he's attended numerous community meetings, done radio interviews, talked with people face-to-face and backed up his arguments with facts. People will get another chance to see and hear him at tonight's Redding Tea Party meeting at 6 p.m. at the Bonnyview Baptist/Destiny Fellowship Church.

One can agree or disagree with his conclusions, but to simply chalk him up as another conspiracy theorist would smack of intellectual laziness at best.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chico State to host ag career day

From the California State University-Chico College of Agriculture:

California State University, Chico College of Agriculture will host the 8th annual Career and Internship Fair for students and alumni on Feb. 16 at the University Farm Pavilion. The Career and Internship Fair begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m. Thirty-five companies will be on hand to recruit students, including Monsanto, Agri Beef, Pathway to PCA, Dow AgroScience, Rabobank, E & J Gallo, Driscoll’s and Harris Moran Seed Company.

Whether students are looking for a summer job or a career path, the Career and Internship Fair has been a proven success in connecting student jobseekers with potential employers from a broad range of agricultural occupations. Simmie Stayer, a senior majoring in animal science, learned about JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding Company at the Career and Internship Fair in 2010 and ended up spending her summer and part of the fall semester interning at the company’s Colorado feed yard. “The internship helped me figure out what I want to do in my career,” Stayer said. “I’m looking forward to going back to JBS Five Rivers as a management trainee when I graduate.”

Part of the continued success of the Career and Internship Fair is due to the preparation and capability of the CSU, Chico students who attend. Joshua Green, research assistant with Monsanto, said his company has had success in finding summer interns at the Career and Internship Fair. “The Chico State students have been among the greatest interns we’ve had the pleasure to work with,” Green said. “We’ve found them to be bright, capable, hard working and able to pick up new tasks quickly.”

For more information about the Agriculture Career and Internship Fair and the registered companies visit www.csuchico.edu/ag/resources/career-fair.shtml or contact Susie Funk at 530-898-4262.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Turtle Bay, energy hogs?

Hey, I thought the Turtle Bay Exploration Park was super-conscious about conservation and the need to save the planet?

So why was the air conditioner on in their classroom through most of yesterday's panel discussion on the state of the timber industry -- in mid-February?

What, are they getting a cut rate in their City of Redding utility bills?

'I feel free'

Dun-dun-dun-duhdun-dun.

From Fox News:

Cries of “Egypt is free” and “Hold your heads high, you’re Egyptian” rang out as protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square shot fireworks into the sky, hoisted shoulders onto their shoulders and fell to kiss the ground. Strangers hugged each other and families posed for pictures in front of tanks, while some just stood in stunned disbelief.

"I'm 21 years old and this is the first time in my life I feel free," Abdul-Rahman Ayyash, born eight years after Mubarak came to power, said as he hugged fellow protesters in Tahrir Square.

Um, how free can you be when the military runs your country?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sunny day, outlook at logging conference

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It was another balmy day Friday at the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference in Redding, Calif., as people walked around the equipment expo, watched logging sports exhibitions and attended seminars at the Redding Convention Center and Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

At one panel discussion this afternoon at Turtle Bay, experts saw a ray of hope that things will improve for the beleaguered timber industry, which has seen two of its worst years since World War II.

Here is the schedule for Saturday, the final day of the conference and expo.

7:00 a.m. Truckers Seminar

Redding Convention Center 2nd Floor Lobby

4 Units ProLogger Credits

9:00 a.m. Exhibits Open

8:00 a.m. – 11 a.m. “Fleet Truck Regulations and Enforcement”, Repeat of Friday’s Presentation

Redding Convention Center Room 125

Panel discussion presented by Loggers Association of Northern California. Facilitated by Kathleen Mead of the Air Resources Board (ARB), followed by discussion on the Enforcement of Regulations.

2 Units ProLogger Credits

9:00 a.m. Backhoe Rodeo

Redding Convention Center South Parking Lot

Can you dig it, or can you balance it? That is the question that contestants from far and wide will answer. Join us as we watch experienced operators fight against time and gravity to take home the prize money. Thanks to Sponsor Axner Excavating for this popular event and for securing sponsors to keep this event growing.

10:00 a.m. Truck Driving Skills Competition

Redding Convention Center West Parking Lot

11:00 a.m. Wild Things, Wildlife Show

Redding Convention Center 2nd Floor Lobby

Wild Things, Inc. was founded in 1987 for the explicit purpose of housing and caring for displaced wildlife and educating the public with a message of conservation and appreciation for natural wonders.

11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Logging Sports Exhibition

Logging Sports Arena, Convention Center SouthParking Lot

2:00 p.m. Wild Things, Wildlife Show

Redding Convention Center 2nd Floor Lobby

Wild Things, Inc. was founded in 1987 for the explicit purpose of housing and caring for displaced wildlife and educating the public with a message of conservation and appreciation for natural wonders.

3:00 p.m. Raffle Drawing

Redding Convention Center 1st Floor Lobby

3:30 p.m. Gates Close

Trio feted at logging conference

Three timber industry stalwarts were given awards at the 62nd Sierra Cascade Logging Conference this week in Northern California.

The Logger of the Year is Harold Kiper, 83, the owner of Kiper and Kiper Logging in Squaw Valley, Calif. He has been a contract logger in the central Sierras for almost 60 years, and is "still going strong," say conference organizers. He and his wife, Mary, have been married for more than 60 years and have two sons and nine grandchildren.

The Roy Derek Berridge Award goes to Sherry L. Crawford of Seiad Valley, the owner and office manager of a logging company since 1979. She's had numerous school and civic leadership positions through the years and has been a member of the USDA's Resource Advisory Council since 2001. She's been married 44 years and has four children, 21 grandchildren and two adoptees coming.

The John Jarrett Award recipient is Buzz Eades, a lifelong logger and past president of the logging conference who is now its Logging Sports Show co-chairman. He and his wife, Murial, just returned from China, where their son is a missionary.

Congratulations to Harold, Sherry and Buzz.