Wednesday, 05 October 2022

Opinion

Though it hasn’t yet hit the streets and shopping malls, a prominent Republican lawyer in Sacramento recently submitted to the Attorney General a potentially explosive initiative that could guarantee Republican control of the White House for the next generation.


The measure, benignly entitled the “Presidential Election Reform Act,” would radically change the way California counts its electoral votes in presidential elections.


In order to get elected President, you need 270 electoral votes. With 55, California has far more than any other state in the nation. To put it in perspective, California alone has more electoral votes than most of the rest of the western states combined – Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.


Instead of the “winner take all” method that currently awards all 55 California electors to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes, this Republican proposal would give just two electoral votes to the top vote-getter. The other 53 electors would be given to the winning candidate in each of California’s 53 congressional districts.


What would be the result of this modest-sounding change? Well, in the 2004 election, George Bush was the top vote-getter in 22 Congressional districts in California. That means he would have gotten more electoral votes in California than John Kerry got for winning Illinois or Pennsylvania.


In other words, it’s a clever partisan maneuver designed to appear like “reform,” while ensuring the election of Republican presidential candidates.


The Republicans even think they’ve figured out how to make this little stink-bomb smell good. They argue it will force presidential candidates to campaign in California because they can’t take the state – which has reliably voted for the Democrat in the last four presidential elections – for granted.


That sounds good – and it’s the same logic that led the Legislature to move up the date of the presidential primary to February 8 next year. But it’s a smokescreen.


The fact is, people have been unhappy with the electoral college for a long time. Since 1889 there have been nearly 600 proposed constitutional amendments on the subject of the electoral college introduced in Congress – more than on any other subject.


Following Richard Nixon’s narrow, 500,000-vote win in 1968, a proposed constitutional amendment calling for direct popular elections passed the House, but failed in the Senate.


More recently, there was a lot of talk about reforming the electoral college after the highly controversial 2000 presidential election, when George Bush became the first president in 112 years to lose the popular vote, but win in the electoral college.


But if the goal is to get the candidates to campaign in California, the simplest way to accomplish it is to eliminate the electoral college altogether. Since California has more voters than any state, candidates will have to campaign here.


Direct popular elections would give California voters a lot more say in choosing our president. After all, under the electoral college system, a California voter has significantly less electoral clout than a voter in less populous states. California has more than 650,000 people for every electoral vote. In Wyoming, though, there is one electoral vote per 168,000 people.


If the goal is to get rid of the “winner take all” system used in California, let’s get rid of it

everywhere. That’s the only fair way to do it.


But the hidden agenda of the proponents of the Presidential Election Reform Act isn’t fairness. It’s not even to increase California’s clout in the presidential election process.


Their goal is to ensure partisan Republican control of the White House. It may even be to continue the ill-conceived and disastrously managed war in Iraq.


So beware the next time you see one of those friendly paid signature gatherers on the street. Read the fine print. Ask questions. Then keep on walking. The best way to stop the Republicans’ latest cynical ploy is to keep it from getting on the ballot.


Mike Thompson represents California’s 1st Congressional District.


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

The facts in the Bismarck Dinius-Russell Perdock boating accident case, which involved one of our finest off-duty sheriff's department deputies and the unfortunate Weber-Thornton family, brings to mind an incident I experienced last Fourth of July.


Six persons, including myself, embarked from Highlands Harbor by boat to watch the City of Clearlake fireworks. We were presented with a spectacular display of pyrotechnics that evening from a spot on the lake where the show was just overhead.


As we were heading back home, traveling at an estimated 20 knots, we had a near miss with a boat towing a teenaged kid on a disabled jet ski. We came within a few feet of hitting the kid on the jet ski as it had no lights at all and the boat towing the jet ski was poorly lit with only a dim bow light. Needless to say, we were all very shook up by this near miss.


What might have happened had we hit the boat and/or jet ski? Would the Sheriff's Boat Patrol have been unequivocally able to determine the cause? Could we have been erroneously charged? Fatalities would likely have occurred. It is a sure bet that the operator of our boat and myself would have been ejected from the vessel upon impact as we were standing nearest to the bow of the boat. The effects such a collision would have had on the passengers of the other boat and jet ski that had crossed our homeward path would also have been devastating. Thankfully, we will never know what might have transpired.


Despite attempts every year by local, state and federal legislators to create new ordinances and laws to keep us safe and sane, officials who set these standards and the agencies assigned to enforce these laws can never be sure that all scenarios will be covered by any legislation. There will always be "special circumstances" that do not fit into a specifically prescribed legal category. Let's face the fact too that not all laws are well written to begin with. Many laws are eventually modified by additional legislation, scrapped entirely after experience flushes out their follies or high court rulings.


Sometimes, family wishes and extenuating circumstances must be taken into consideration despite the letter of the law due to the inadequacies of legislation and the inability to consider the unforeseen, personal circumstances of innocent human error. The real question is if justice will ever really be served if this case is prosecuted. Sometimes the families of victims would prefer closure instead of a long, drawn out court case.


It would appear that the Dinius case may be one that requires consideration as an "incident of unusual circumstances."


If the family of the deceased Lynn Thornton and Deputy Perdock all agree that this unfortunate and tragic accident was just that, why can't the District Attorney's Office drop the case? I have no knowledge of the Thornton family's feelings in this matter nor Deputy Perdock's viewpoint. I would offer my condolences to the affected parties at this time though. It is a miracle that no one else was killed.


I realize that District Attorney Jon Hopkins has a difficult job to do regarding this case and I do not envy him, but surely all persons involved have suffered a great deal already. It would be nothing short of devastating to all involved to prosecute either party for an unfortunate event that was truly a tragic, uncontrollable accident.


The big picture here and the real issue is that new standards and equipment need to be required by the Coast Guard and/or our local and state officials. With all the new lighting technology and long-life batteries that are now available to the general public, it would seem that the flare gun and small, dimly lit, inadequate running lights should be a thing of the past. The standards currently used for visual location of stranded vessels and normal boating traffic must be updated and lighting redesigned. Call it the Lynn Thornton Maritime Bill in honor of this innocent victim.


A few years ago, I experienced the helpless feeling of being in a boat that was broken down on a moonless night in the middle of Clear Lake. The water was very choppy and our running lights would not work. The emergency flares were found to be damp and the batteries of our flashlight soon ran low. We were luckily rescued by a "Good Samaritan" in a passing vessel that towed us to shore, but this scenario could have easily gone sour, too.


It is time that all recreational boating vessels be required to carry emergency strobe lights that have a long-life battery and/or backup power that is independent from a vessel's primary operating systems. The old maritime emergency technology has been around for almost a century. Flares are not always dependable and they are also highly flammable. Standard marine batteries are still behind the times. Brighter, larger and more visible running lights with backup solar power or another type of reserve battery system should also be required.


In addition, solar-powered channel markers and shoal markers should be mandatory on Clear Lake too. This would be a sure-fire method of reducing the nighttime dangers of disabled vessels and the normal nighttime travels of all boating traffic respectively. This proposal would be a reasonable, fairly low cost way to insure the safety of all boaters and is surely overdue in all of the inland waterways of America.


Let's not prosecute the unfortunate victims of outdated maritime safety laws and lighting requirements. We must demand safer, updated standards of our legislators and boat manufacturers.


Author Kevin Engle has been a resident of Lower Lake for the last decade and grew up boating, scuba-diving and fishing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


{mos_sb_discuss:4}

The infrastructure to attract retired seniors to Lake County is already in place, the board of supervisors heard on Tuesday.


Would somebody please give me a map?


As a retired senior with some physical disability and a chronic illness, I'd really love to know where the facilities are.


I know there are golf courses, but I'm not interested in golf and wouldn't be able to play it anyway, for both physical and financial reasons.


I know there's a public swimming pool somewhere, but I gather it's only open in the summertime. Is there bus service that would get me there from the Northshore?


I know there are libraries and I am, thankfully, still able to drive to one. But where is the bookmobile for those who are not so fortunate?


There is a nice little art gallery in Lakeport and some pretty decent amateur theater from time to time. Are there any traveling shows or any simple entertainment in other areas, like Readers' Theater?


The city of Clearlake has a pretty snazzy community center, but I didn't notice any recreational facilities there for seniors or anyone else. The county's other senior centers don't look so snazzy. I believe the one in Clearlake Oaks is open only for lunches. I know the one in Lucerne, near me, is usually open only until mid-afternoon, and never on Sundays.


Is there any air-conditioned place in the county that's open in the very hot late summer afternoons for a cooling off respite? The city of Chicago established some of those centers after 700 people died in a heat wave a few years ago. Would it be so hard to take some preventive action here?


Am I on totally the wrong track here? Is the goal to attract only those affluent seniors who can afford air-conditioning and their own boats? Whose main interests are golf and gambling? Who will never become disabled or unable to drive?


If that's the case, just tell me and I'll go away.


Besides, why are we so anxious to attract seniors? Why aren't we focused on attracting businesses that will employ productive young people at a decent wage? Silicon Valley is the richest area in California. I bet some of those folks would love to cash out and come here, if there were jobs here.


Sophie Annan Jensen lives in Lucerne.


{mos_sb_discuss:4}

 

I am writing to express the gratitude of a grieving family. We are from all over these great United States, but we are grounded in California. Our grandmother raised four generations right in Clearlake. The branches of our tree may stretch for miles and miles, but our roots have always been right off Highway 29 – For as long as I can remember, anyway.


And so it goes, people leave and start families, visit less and less, letters are a rarity and holiday cards become the common means of communication. That does not mean, in any way, that the bond is broken or even cracked. It does not make relationships less valuable. It does, however, make the guilt and regret more profound when you lose a leaf from your tree. Especially when your loss comes too soon and so unexpectedly.


Leah Leister was my cousin. I have beautiful memories of my childhood visits with her, where my sisters and parents would pack into a car and drive eight straight hours for a week of catching up. I love all of my family, but Leah and I were bound by a sisterhood. Too young to join the rest of the commotion, and not really caring that we were missing it. We had so much else to do than talk about uncle so-and-so or great aunt what’s-her-name.


As we got older, we settled for letters and visits that came only every few years, but we always kept in touch. We always knew what the other was doing. Always. She was so full of dreams. She always talked of bigger and better things. She was so ready to begin her life. When her son was born, I only heard a stronger motivation for a change.


And then she was murdered.


I was able to attend one court proceeding. I drove from Oregon and sat in the courtroom next to Amy, Leah’s mother. I held her hand when Leah’s attacker looked Amy in the eyes and laughed and mouthed the words “you’re next.” I was with her when an officer of the court told us there was nothing that could be done to stop the accused from threatening her. There are laws, however, that protect the accused from being threatened by victims.


It was then that I first tried to block out Leah from my mind. I didn’t really believe there would be any justice and it hurt so bad to see my family tormented. Not just Amy, but everyone. I can’t even comprehend what her son lives with. Or her grandma, my Aunt Joy. How does a person make sense of that? I’d rather not deal with something so painful and since I live so far away, I could do that. I’m sorry to say that is exactly what I did.


I hear things from time to time through the grapevine. I begin to grieve and again just file it away. Too hard to deal with.


Then I hear from my mother that it’s over. He’s guilty. He’s going away for life – no parole for him. Ever. That is it. I can’t bury it any longer and I grieve. I’m still grieving. I think I always will.


So, I read an article by Elizabeth Larson that tells of Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff’s tireless effort. I think of the detectives that won't let Leah’s case go. I think of the jurors who hugged my family when it was finally over. I think of it every day. I will not ever be given the words to tell those people what that means to my family. All of us. Not just those in Lake County, but every one of us. I was not able to be there for Aunt Joy or Amy or William, but this community was. You didn’t know then and I don’t think you ever will really know what that means to me and her extended family.


I realize murder happens every day. Death is a part of life. My family isn’t the only one that grieves. Yet this community has made me feel as though they were personally taking care of my family for me – a and those who could not be there. How do you thank someone properly for that?


Thank you to the district attorney. Thank you to the detectives and police who did their part. Thank you to the group of peers that made up the jury that did the right thing.


In the end my cousin has been honored. She may never be able to live out all her dreams, but her dreams will never be forgotten.


Leah Leister was my cousin. I miss her and I love her.


Candie Johnston lives in Madras, Ore. Johnston's cousin, 26-year-old Leah Leister, was murdered in her Clearlake apartment in March 2002. More than five years later, on June 27, 2007, Edward James Munoz was convicted of Leister's murder. He is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff prosecuted the case, persevering in the case's prosecution despite a hung jury in a previous trial in late 2006.


{mos_sb_discuss:5}

I was driving by a local business area the other day and noticed the sprinklers operating with significant water running off into the gutters. Having just watched the Weather Channel’s presentation on drought in the mid-south, I was reminded of how precious our water resources are.


Having been a landscape contractor myself, I know how difficult it is to design systems that are always “perfect” when it comes to the controllability of the ratio of how much water is needed to how much is applied. New technologies make these problems less difficult to solve.


I want to take this opportunity to encourage the county to consider what types of voluntary and mandatory water conservation steps can be taken to insure that the quality and availability of our water resources is maintained.


A panel of landscape contractors could make suggestions for technologies that could be required as code to insure that sensors, timers and other automatic monitoring technology be utilized on new projects with the possibility of additional credits to homeowners and businesses for the retrofitting of existing systems considered.


Any increased costs to implement these types of systems would not substantially affect competition if everyone was required to use them. Anyone that’s driven by a water system functioning in a driving rainstorm can testify to the waste unmonitored systems can produce.


Even our groundwater is precious. Well systems should have some sort of guidelines and safeguards to insure that people with these types of systems are not lulled into thinking they have unlimited access to these resources simply because they’re not paying to city water companies.


Once again, I know this infringes on the time-honored feeling that individual ownership entitles one to unlimited use of natural resources but this is an obsolete philosophy given the realities of limited resources.


A second concern is that despite the county’s progress with recycling a significant amount of usable resources are still being sent to the landfill. Construction materials that might be recycled at the landfill gates free of cost might give our commercial contractors a way of getting rid of their waste and allow subcontracted handling companies to re-market these materials at reduced costs to citizens unable to purchase new materials.


Additionally, it seems that many of our resorts and communities are not required to recycle at all but still dump all their garbage plastic bottles, cardboard and all together with nonrecyclable trash. These gaps in our system need to be addressed by making tenants and/or resort owners responsible for the same efforts at recycling the rest of the populace is now required to participate in.


Finally, we need to make more of an effort to provide additional locations for people to get rid of common hazardous waste materials i.e., batteries, light bulbs, electronics equipment, etc. so they aren’t tempted to “hide” these items in their regular landfill wastes. My wife and I very much appreciate the plastic bag recycling cans out in front of a number of our more progressive food markets. The recycling of plastic bags and bottles must be at the forefront of our efforts.


In the same way that public and commercial trash receptacles are located outside businesses and public areas for trash we need to begin to allow the concept of having more public receptacles for specialized and separated wastes creep into our social consciousness even if it requires more and more cans.


The results of these efforts will be felt for generations and the need for them surpasses any reticence we have about the visual impact these extra facilities might have in our immediate surroundings. Personally, I’d rather see an abundance of garbage containers wherever I go than imagine that these materials are being deposited onto and into our lands and water systems.


Budgeting and planning for the appropriate amount of workers and resources needed to keep our communities clean and safe and our disposal and recycling systems effective are part of the greening and sustainability movement we are embracing.


Yet we should not expect that county government will do all these things for us as citizens we have the ability, without much of the red tape to take the lead in these efforts. But that’s an issue for another commentary.


James BlueWolf lives is an artist and writer. He lives in Nice.


{mos_sb_discuss:4}

When we are made to question our allegiance to a political party, to wonder why it seems to make little difference at times whether the House or the Senate is controlled by Democrats or Republicans, we fall back on the old illusion that our disappointment has everything to do with the personal qualities or shortcomings of individual politicians, and like fools keep hoping, at every election, that the right people will appear, to rescue this nation. It is true enough that a handful of politicians are actually sincere, and believe in and attempt to uphold the Constitution.


The truth appears to be, however, that the principal forces at play in government are not at all ideological, but a matter of class and economics. Having initially modeled this system of government on the Roman Republic, the so-called founding fathers set up two legislative bodies: the House of Representatives, which was to represent the people as did the Roman Assembly of Citizens, and the Senate, which exactly as in Rome was designed as a chamber elected by and for the elite.


The elite, of course and as in Rome, was to have the final say on matters of the state, while the will of the people was to be symbolically represented by Congress, presumably to appease the populace on matters of little importance. This is why America was called a republic, as in Rome, and not a democracy, as in Greece.


The system appeared to change in 1913, when the American people were given the right to vote for their Senators, and both the House and Senate were to represent ordinary citizens. It is also in 1913, prior to the change in the election process of the senate, that a powerful group of finance capitalists (better known as bankers), J.P. Morgan, Paul Warburg and John D. Rockefeller among others, created, without the proper Constitutional amendment and with the help of their ally the Senate, the Federal Reserve, a private monopoly that allowed them and allows their successors to control the US government.


"Give me control of a nation's money supply, and I care not who makes its laws" accurately boasted Mayer Rothschild, another finance capitalist.


After having thus taken ownership and control of the nation and no longer needing absolute power over the Senate, this small elite of bankers allowed the people to vote for their Senators, throwing them a few symbolic crumbs that were to make them believe they had acquired more representation and greater power, just as their power had been taken away by the Federal Reserve and they were too elated and distracted to see what had been done to them.


Are we, incidentally, to naively believe that some of the founding fathers did not plan this from the very beginning, having given this elite of finance capitalists total control over the Senate, until they no longer needed it because they had finally achieved their goal, which was to take control of the monetary system?


Kennedy, who unlike other Presidents refused to be a puppet in the hands of this elite, was assassinated before he got a chance to do what he wanted: to restore the gold standard for our monetary system, thus threatening the profits and control of the private bankers who own and run the Federal Reserve and the artificial creation of an actually worthless paper money, a currency that is only as good as the paper it is printed on.


Our political system, like the governments of all nations throughout history, is therefore seemingly torn between serving the elite that controls the world's wealth, and appeasing and controlling the populace that could become a threat if it was better informed. There is not much chance of this happening, as the elite needs an under class to exploit and to frighten the middle class, and a vastly ignorant and easily conditioned middle class to consume its entertainment and its junk, its bread and circus, and to unknowingly support its agenda, lead by deception and disinformation.


Bankers, or finance capitalists, are the hidden elements who control history, who finance wars and revolutions, decide who wins and who looses through the management of supplies and demands, the control of currency values, and even create or manipulate social movements and civil unrest when it is to their advantage.


They have no ideological loyalties, and neither do the key politicians they own: political ideologies are primarily meant to control the naïve and emotional populations by dividing them along mostly fictitious or irrelevant ideas, for the only practical ideas that matter to the highly pragmatic, opportunistic and level-headed elite are profit and power.


If you think this sounds like another absurd conspiracy theory, ask yourself why Hitler never attacked and invaded Switzerland, the banking center of the world and a very easy, very close and very tempting target ... was he the type to respect international treaties and national boundaries and sovereignty?


Could it be that he was financed by international banks just enough to be fooled and used by them, as the predictable psychopath he was, to redraw the map of the world and alter the power play, not to mention facilitate the brutal crushing of a rapidly burgeoning international movement of worker

solidarity, as was also achieved by the first world war? Fifty million lives was apparently an acceptable loss for an elite whose fortunes also soared beyond all expectations as a result of that war.


Our government, like all governments, is putting on a show of political theater for us, the easily fooled, easily distracted and now apparently heavily medicated populace, while the actual conflict is, once again, between public interest, the welfare of the nation and its people, and private interest, the power and extreme wealth of a very small elite.


Need I say who wins the battle every time? This will go on as long as we accept being trained to worship dominant power and to admire wealth, as our forefathers did under the monarchy, and to fear and demonize the poor and all who question might and greed. It will also go on as long as we ignore

the real dynamics of power, and believe in ideologies, in the right and left "good cop-bad cop" routine, that has been allowed to insult our intelligence far too long and is becoming insufferable to some.


Today it is often said that corporations seek to rule the world ... they have been given the same rights as a person, while being shielded from a person's responsibilities, for this very reason. But corporations, like politicians, only do the finance capitalists' bidding and are pawns in their power games. Corporations are today's "villains", decoys that are useful to implement the banking elite's agenda of the new world order, of globalization, but whose power will be taken away as soon as they have served their purpose in this agenda, and under the pretence of freeing the populace from their apparent corruption of government and abuse of such power.


Finance capitalists, who came up with the idea of a banking monopoly, of central banking, to control the state, perhaps as early as two thousand years ago or more, an idea later espoused by Marxists and Capitalists alike, ultimately do not want a free market but a highly regulated economy that could be called capitalist in the sense that it does not threaten their private capital, but prevents, to a large extent, the creation of too many new and independent (free from loans) fortunes outside of their circle of power, of a new elite that would ignore the rules of the ancestral game and would be apt to want to reform and change the world. This is why the on going globalization agenda appears to be communist to some and fascist to others, because it is neither.


These people do not want our solutions to the world's problems. They need to keep the problems in place to maintain the world's conflicts in ideological and divisive terms, and to offer, when strategically appropriate, their own solutions, that will profit them exclusively in terms of ever more profit and power. Consequently, do not expect any real and holistic solutions to global warming, to global pollution, to human suffering in the third world, or to the exhaustion of resources, to be implemented when they should, today.


If a third world war is deemed to be more profitable by this small circle of finance capitalists and apt to fulfill their long term goals, the world will be, once again, thrown into the pits of hell ... and many will be convinced to hate and fear the newly created enemy, as countless generations have done. But if, at some future date, global warming or some other issue is thought to be helpful in implementing a timely policy of new regulations, it is what will happen, seemingly for the benefit of the people of the world and of the environment.


There is no other solution to this condition of the control and enslavement of the world by a small and extremely discreet, well educated and very clever banking elite but an emergence of the truth, which can be obtained and expanded through research ... The important point is not in finding out names, but in understanding the strategy ... the names are ultimately completely irrelevant.


One only has to look at what has been done by banking monopolies to acquire control over governments and policies, and connect the historical and contemporary dots, so as to no longer fall in the trap of believing the many historical, social, ideological and cultural fairy tales that the media and the educational systems feed us, and perhaps no longer be as a pawn in this elite's games, particularly in times of war, when the consequences of being fooled are truly tragic.


Raphael Montoliu lives in Lakeport.


{mos_sb_discuss:4}

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