Letters for March 19, 2015
On hens and hypocrites
Re “Caged hens are far from happy” (Guest comment, by Bradley Miller, March 12) and “Frustrated by the noise” (Letters, by William Martin, March 12):
Bradley Miller laments the limitations of Proposition 2—an attempt to reduce animal suffering on California farms, now being implemented. William Martin protests the local noise impacts of car racing at the Silver Dollar Speedway.
Miller and Martin are addressing two forms of consumption: the consumption of animal foods, which carries with it both suffering for animals and costly environmental impacts—and the consumption of fossil-fuel-driven entertainment, which is indefensible, both in terms of noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
But, while the working-class family—out for Big Macs and a night at the Silver Dollar Speedway—is certainly having an impact, I’d hate to think that the rumbling of stock cars might be drowning out the inner voice of affluent, enlightened, liberal types as we consume many times what the working-class family consumes.
It’s tempting to inflate the Speedway into an outsized problem—after all, it’s a loud and made-to-order symbol of waste. But, fine dining—with nicely pressed tablecloths, candles and the trendiest animal-foodie extravagance—along with perennial fossil-fuel-driven road trips and vacation flights to God-knows-where, have a considerably greater impact than the Speedway—even on demolition derby night.
More on the hens
Re “Caged hens are far from happy” (Guest comment, by Bradley Miller, March 12):
Six years ago, California voters were right to overwhelmingly pass Proposition 2, the historic animal welfare ballot measure. The law, which requires more space for hens, calves and pigs, unsurprisingly came under very heavy attack from the animal agribusiness industry.
Last week, however, a group calling itself the Humane Farming Association also came out to criticize the measure. This group doesn’t appear familiar with Prop. 2, nor does it seem to have ever met an animal welfare improvement it liked. That’s why it’s opposed other important California animal protection laws and has never passed any law relating to the confinement of animals anywhere.
During the Prop. 2 campaign, all sides agreed the result would be a de facto conversion to cage-free egg systems. Perhaps this is one reason UC Davis’ economic analysis stated that it would “eliminate the use of cage systems for laying hens in California.”
The good news is that many egg producers and retailers are following Prop. 2 and have gone cage-free. Food retailers and egg producers should heed those words and honor the outcome of the democratic process. All retailers and egg producers in California should go cage-free.
Editor’s note: Ms. Fearing is the former deputy director for policy for the Humane Society of the United States and manager of 2008’s Yes on Proposition 2 campaign.
‘It’s about the buck’
Re “A critical pitch” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, March 12):
Congrats, Chico, you have the honor of being the latest community to have your child’s future held ransom by big union money. It always makes me snicker when I hear the mantra “We’d rather be teaching” because it’s not that at all. It’s “We want more, and more, and more!”
It’s astounding that a union that is more than happy to collect nearly $300 per day for some of its staff has a problem with paying the substitute for your child the same. Why, you ask? Because that teacher hasn’t succumbed to the almighty union. You see, it’s never about the kids; it’s about the buck. We hear about the concessions their union made when times were tough, yeah I get it. The entire world suffered through this.
Let’s not forget, if teacher pension funds weren’t invested in the dot.com bust and put into bonds, their retirement wouldn’t be billions in the red. Go ahead, Chico [Unified], throw more money at the teachers union. Ask cities like Stockton, Vallejo, San Bernardino and even San Jose about how they’re having to cut services like police and fire to pay for underfunded pension programs.
If the teachers really cared about the kids, this stuff would be handled during the summer, but then they wouldn’t have your child’s future to hold hostage.
Fun with titles
Hillary Clinton, SECRETary of State.
Stephen T. Davis
Fan of the zingers
Re “Good question” (Letters, by Stephen T. Davis):
If anyone has ever sung your praises, I have not read it, so I would like to take this space to do so. Despite anything else that is published in the letters to the CN&R, you always have that one line that typically makes me smile. I so enjoy your intellect and wit. Please keep it up! Thank you so much!
About that letter
Re “Crossing the line” (Editorial, March 12):
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) wrote: “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” I guess this is one of those times for me.
Wikipedia defines treason as 1) “the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one’s sovereign or nation” and 2) “[A] citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the parent nation.”
Clearly, the action of the 47 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in opting to discredit the efforts of America’s duly elected president, and negotiate directly with the country of Iran (a nation their former revered president labeled as being in the Axis of Evil), in my mind meets all aspects of the commitment of treason.
We can only hope that when the bombing and invasion occurs, as being promoted by our “allies” in Israel, that these brave 47 senators make certain their children and grandchildren are with the initial wave crossing into Iran.
I fear our country is on the verge of a political collapse and never-ending, nonwinnable war. If this be “patriotism,” I want no part of it!
Once again, if you were capable of seeing the truth, the speaker by law could invite anyone he wanted to. It was far more despicable for the left to shun a world leader’s speech.
Even your dictator claims not to listen and simply read the transcript. Think for a second if President Obama had been working with Congress this would not have happened. The clown has no idea how to work in the system and pulls the macho-dude routine to hide his weakness. We learned since then that his great plan is a nonbinding resolution instead of a treaty, so he can go around Congress yet again.
Even card-carrying commies should know nonbinding means Iran is not bound to do anything if it chooses not to. Meanwhile, rumor is that Obama has freed up over $40 billion in frozen assets just to get them to talk. A nonbinding resolution could be stopped by the next president. He is trying to ensure some type of legacy by sneaking in back-door deals to say “Look what I did” that are bound to fail. The other crowning deal, Cuba, has just offered Venezuela help in fighting us.
Those Senate Republicans who signed and sent a letter to the Iranian government in which they under-evaluated the authority of the president of the United States of America are, in my opinion, more Confederate than conservative. They seem to be still fighting the Civil War.
Snapshot of the library
Re “Drop in the bucket” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, March 5):
We were distressed to read that some City Council members gave such a low value to our local library. It seems that the city manager, Mark Orme, has a more appropriate view of the importance of this great institution.
We say institution because the library system, throughout American history, has always held a place of value and reverence for the societies it has served.
A trip to the library last week showed tutors teaching math to young students; fathers and mothers reading to their young children; library staff conducting an after-school story and crafts period; retired folks reading periodicals and newspapers; and all available computers being used by every segment of our community. This is just one small snapshot of an afternoon.
It was particularly disappointing to hear the council members state that the library was just like every other community organization providing services. We beg to differ. The sheer number of users of library services and their importance to a wide spectrum of our citizenry disprove such a statement.
If a drop in the budget bucket can preserve such valuable and necessary drives then by all means, let it happen. Please, please keep the library open for one and all.
Tim and Jennifer Heck
Damn lying liars
I am not entirely disappointed when reading one governmental official after another has been lying about their official email communications. We are lucky to live in a country that supports freedom of information requests and empowers the public to learn about its public officials.
The purpose is to remind our government that transparency is not an option; it is required. In one day, Hillary Clinton gets caught trying to hide her public records by using a personal email account. Gen. Petraeus pleads guilty to lying about his emails and records. The Lois Lerner IRS debacle is an insult to anyone above a third grade education. Records were requested, she claims that her hard drive crashed and she threw it out. Now we read that an investigator recovered 80,000 of her “lost” emails.
The good news? They were all caught. Clinton’s political career is over. Lerner lost her position. Petraeus owned up to his dishonesty and resigned. Maybe some jail time would be good for all of them.
Fracturing, not fracking
Aside from being the favored expletive of Starbuck and Adama (shameless Battlestar Galactica reference), fracking is also an increasingly prevalent practice in the United States that comes with a whole host of consequences, including but certainly not limited to lower fuel prices and earthquakes in areas that have never before experienced seismic activity (e.g., Dallas, my hometown).
I’m not going to argue a position on fracking here, though I’m sure you can all guess from my concern with the terminology to which side of the issue I lean. What I argue instead is that the use of the cutesy, slogan-y, jingly word “fracking” to describe the process of hydraulic fracturing—or the intentional fracturing of the Earth’s crust by forcefully pumping a mixture of drinking water, chemicals and sand into a well until rock cracks and crumbles and (the oil men hope) crude is released—obscures the issue and dumbs down the debate (the oil men, who probably coined the damn term in the first place, surely do hope).
I argue that the use of the word “fracking” should be discontinued in favor of the more descriptive term “hydraulic fracturing,” particularly by my fellow opponents of the practice.
History, on repeat
In 1904, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power issued a statement concerning L.A.’s water: “The time has come when we shall have to supplement the supply [of water] from some other source.”
In 1905, in an interview with William Mulholland, then head of LADWP, author and Owens Valley resident Mary Hunter Austin told Mulholland that the Owens Valley died when it sold its first water right to the city of Los Angeles and that the city would never stop until it owned the whole Owens River and all of the land in the valley. “By God,” Mulholland reportedly said, “that woman is the only one who has brains enough to see where this is going.”
According to Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner, in 1913, at the celebration of the first water to come down the Los Angeles Aqueduct into the San Fernando Valley, Mulholland delivered a short speech. “There it is,” he said. “Take it.”
Currently, Los Angeles is offering top dollar per acre-foot to anyone willing to sell their water allotment here in the Sacramento Valley. L.A. is also reportedly investing in the proposed Sites Reservoir here as well. What do you know, history really does repeat itself.
Perspectives on abortion
Abortion discussions typically examine how far into pregnancy abortions should be allowed. Arguably, human embryos aren’t materially different from those of other animals until they start thinking and talking—18 to 24 months after they’re born. Further, since their brains still haven’t finished growing, and since their capacity to form enduring long-term memories doesn’t begin until at least age 3, one could argue human infants haven’t surpassed the cognitive abilities of other animals even then.
Nevertheless, most would never dream of legalizing extinguishing the life of toddlers. Those who love, babysit and financially support them—parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and others—would endure heartbreak and wasted time and money. Further, such would dangerously desensitize society to the sacredness of human life that’s essential to its function.
Stopping the gestation of an unborn child, however, that’s never even been seen by others, wouldn’t have such an impact. The person most likely to be affected is its mother. Accordingly, until the umbilical cord is cut, any decision to terminate the pregnancy should lie exclusively with her. However, if she births the child against the father’s objection, he shouldn’t have to pay child support.