Journalism

Has McClatchy DC reporter joined Pombo campaign?

Submitted: May 18, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Below, find a complex defense of former Rep. Richard Pombo, Crooked Cowboy-Tracy, currently running for a congressional seat far from his residence and home of his family's real estate business. McClatchy's Fresno and Modesto chain outlets have been covering the fund-raising efforts of Pombo, state Sen. Jeff Denham (endorsed by retiring Rep. George Radanovich), and two more Republicans and a brace of Democrats running far behind. Unlike Pombo and Denham however, the four in the rear of the race actually live in the district they are seeking to represent. And to make it more complicated, Radanovich places third in contributions at this time.

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Falling in tall spring grass

Submitted: May 09, 2010
By: 
Bill Hatch

 

Yesterday I found myself standing in rich, dense grass as high as the tops of my rubber boots in the middle of a cow pasture. I got so engrossed in staring at the snow on the tops of the mountains in Yosemite and the whole visible Sierra range that my partner asked if I was OK. There was a steady breeze as soft as a horse’s sigh blowing across what’s left of the entire grasslands in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley of California, smelling of running creeks, sweet grass and cows.

It rained last week. It’s due to rain next week. The ranchers won’t need to move the cows out of the Valley up into the Sierra for some time. Yet, when summer comes, the sun will suck all the moisture and color out of this grass and the area where I am standing and the hills east of it will turn khaki.

The national herd size hasn’t been so low in 60 years; beef prices are at historic highs; and the vast majority of these native grassland pastures are not irrigated. Looking west to the Valley floor, we could see huge almond orchards in the distance and the rooftops of mega-dairies. Both commodities, the top two in this region, are in serious economic trouble and, dragged down by the collapse of the speculative real estate boom, farmland prices are beginning to fall.

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"Man-made" droughts and other absurdities

Submitted: May 05, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Investor's Business Daily's recent portrait of the "man-made drought" in California is written in the idiotic tradition of that rag, which claimed last summer that the great British physicist who suffers from muscular distrophy, would be dead if he had been taken care of by the British National Health Service. Of course, he had been and credited the Service with keeping him alive.

IBD's Monica Showalter, who sees things that aren't there, writes: "On a springtime drive through the Central Valley, it's hard not to notice how federal and state governments are hell-bent on destroying the state's top export — almonds — and everything else in the nation's most productive farmland."

Assuming intent, what exactly would "federal and state governments ... hell-bent on destroying the state's top export -- almonds -- and everything else in the nation's most productive farmland" look like? We who live up here a hundred or so miles and a world away from Showalter's flakroom, do not see this. What we see is a 130-percent snow pack after three years of light rain and state and federal government water resource agencies raising weekly the estimate of how much water they can deliver for agricultural and metropolitan use.

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Tem vergonha

Submitted: Apr 08, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

Evidently, in addition to every other absurd, tasteless outrage against political life here in the Valley, now we have a hissy fit between two third-generation Portuguese immigrant princes, calling each other names. Devin Nunes, a Republican from the largest dairy county in the nation, learned a six-syllable word the other day and started calling Dennis Cardoza, a Democrat who represents the second-largest dairy county in the nation, a "to-tal-i-tar-i-an." Cardoza took Nunes to the cowshed, replying, "Ele no tem vergonha," ("He has no shame") although between the two, Nunes would know a lot more about the inside of a cowshed than Cardoza ever did. Nunes serves on the House Ways and Means Committee; Cardoza serves on the House Rules Committee. Both have teamed up to help Westlands Water District and the Friant Water Users Authority to circumvent any ways, means or rules standing between them and water from the San Joaquin Delta and the San Joaquin River. They are both in their fourth terms.

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Big slobber sound

Submitted: Apr 04, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Big Mama McClatchy is lecturing us on doing our due diligence as citizens to prepare to vote in the June primary. Mama warns us against all the campaign flak that will be coming at us and urges us to consider carefully the serious issues facing us and to be sure to learn what each candidate's position is on these vital questions of the day.

Since we can't trust anything the candidates will be telling us on TV, in mailers, newspaper ads and on billboards, let alone in person, our minds automatically turn to Big Mama's stable of sage political analysts for the truth about what the candidates stand for.

However, we are frustrated now and, Badlands Journal suspects we will remain frustrated with Big Mama's coverage of the candidates in the June primary elections, because all it amounts to is a sports report on the candidates' fund-raising abilities. It's like batting averages in the Cactus League. It is a ridiculous substitute for political journalism. 

Yo, Big Mama, before you start lecturing voters on learning about the issues and how the candidates stand on them, take your own advice -- describe the issues and report how the candidates stand on them. At least quit drooling over all those big campaign media budgets. All we hear right now is a big slobber sound.

Badlands Journal editorial board

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Republicans declare World War III in Cardoza's congressional district

Submitted: Mar 24, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

McClatchy's Big Eight

We didn't like this McClatchy article, "Health care overhaul: Tallying winners and losers." But we had to admit covering the results at the final bell of the year-long session of the free market for votes in the White House and Congress as if it were a wrap up article of a day's race card at Pimlico made some sense. But we had some bones to pick with it because for many ordinary readers, it will probably go down as pretty much the last word on the issue. We hope we get through the political campaign season without violence in the Valley.
The idea that Rep. Dennis Cardoza of Annapolis MD should get a few roses for his act on this bill is ludicrous. In a completely cowardly way, he refused to hold any town meetings on the bill last summer. He was stupid enough to crawl into the stinking bedsheets of water politics with Rep. Devin Hunes, Tulare Raver, and get politically sapped for his bad judgment. And he waffled on the bill until the last minute, like the proverbial "deer in headlights" pontificating sanctimoniously about proper House process and the suffering of members his own family all the way to the vote he had to make for the bill to avoid a future in the House broom closet if the Demcrats hang on this November. We think his vapors were authentic. People who spend their entire political careers denying the reality of history have a hard time dealing with historical situations.

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Bob Baker's Newsthinking: a great book

Submitted: Mar 21, 2010
By: 
Bill Hatch

I can't too highly recommend the latest edition (or any edition you can find) of Bob Baker's classic book on the news writer's craft: Newsthinking: The Secret of Making Your Facts Fall into Place.

 

I recommend it to everybody: working news writers, unworking news writers, editors, columnists, bloggers -- even publishers -- and perhaps most of all to readers of journalism. Whatever your relationship to the craft of journalism is, reading Newsthinking will increase your enjoyment of it.

 

Yes. Enjoyment. After reading Newsthinking, whether you write news, edit it or just read it, you'll have an appreciation for this highly disciplined, dramatic craft.

 

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UC Merced and the Merced Sun-Star: Historical amnesia on speed

Submitted: Mar 20, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Some rightwing Anglos out at UC Merced recently posted a racially offensive video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDWAJYFi3UA). It's a cartoon featuring a semi-bald Anglo with a snotty British accent interrogating a female Chicano student, with no accent, involved in trying to start a Chicano Studies Program at the limping U. The Brit gets the best of the staged argument (sic). The Chicano students are stereotyped as entitled, racists themselves, who want their own program now just because they want it, and as incapable of arguing why. There was nothing "intelligent," "spirited" or "responsible" about the video dialogue between the two cartoon characters, despite what is said by an unnamed "university representative."

Since a Chicano Studies program is, by definition, about people of Mexican descent who are American citizens, the question why the Chicana doesn't wish to "identify as an American citizen" is purely bogus, displaying the classic rightwing combination of ignorance and racial hatred. Chicano means Mexican-American, and there is quite a history behind the origin of the word. But that history would be beyond the Little White Men on Campus and it gives UC Merced administrators and Chicano elders of influence on the campus a shuddering case of the vapors -- a disease that turns guts to mush.

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Facts beneath our feet

Submitted: Feb 04, 2010
By: 
Bill Hatch

Last Sunday, I listened to a roundtable of learned talking heads on Meet the Press instantly agree with the assertion one of them made that of course the federal government could not actually create jobs.

Later that afternoon, I went out for a walk in Merced. It is difficult to walk anywhere in my neighborhood without seeing the familiar stamp in the sidewalk that reads either "WPA 1940" or "WPA 1941."

WPA stands for Works Progress Administration, one of the keystones of the New Deal. During the Great Depression the federal government created a great number of jobs. Chances are that if you are of a certain age, you will remember your father talking about his Civilian Conservation Corps or WPA job or work in other government programs. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, from all walks of life, were in fact employed by the federalgovernment to do work they already knew how to do but for which money was lacking due to the collapse of credit.

The Central Valley Soldier Settlement Act gave preferred rights to qualified veterans of WWII to purchase farm land irrigated by the Central Valley Project, funded by the federal government, along with low-interest loans from the government and banks That created much work for many people for years. Today, military expenditure in the US is more than the rest of the world combined. The resource wars are employing many people in the most resource-wasting activity known to man: war. 

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