Journalism

On the announcement of departure of UC Merced's second chancellor

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

A member of the Badlands Journal editorial board was asked by a UC Merced student for a meeting so that he could learn more about the campus where he is going to college. The request was received the day Chancellor Steve Kang announced he would depart the campus at the end of the next academic year.

 

We thought, rather than having coffee with the student and attempting to tell that story in an hour or so, we would do two things: first, refer him to an audio tape made in the classroom of UC Merced historian Gregg Herken, a member of the founding faculty of social sciences, humanities and art at the campus, and who directed the production of a laughable bit of bobcatflak called The Fairy Shrimp Chronicles: An informal history of the founding of UC Merced. The students of that class learned how to write history as propaganda and suppress vital information, useful skills if they seek careers in the University of California system.

 

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The Empire Mello-Roos mess

Submitted: Aug 01, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Those vaguely worded ballot measures can come back to haunt you.

We've noticed, driving around Merced and Stanislaus counties these days, that everything seems to be owned or controlled by bankers somewhere else. We wish we had a prize -- an award for real and sustained public service -- to offer J.N. Sbranti of the Modesto Bee, whose great coverage of complex financial issues in this area that has been shining a strong light since the speculative real estate boom began to go soft. We've appended a brief history of the Orrick law firm (from its website) below because the name Orrick has been associated with public bonds in California for a very long time.

Badlands Journal editorial board

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Bastille Day thoughts

Submitted: Jul 14, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The word "recession" has outworn its shoplife in the US Supermarket of Empty Flak. We are in a prolonged economic depression the severity of which has not been experienced in 80 years and so has been largely forgotten by the living.

Elderly, white, self-righteous harridans lecture county boards of supervisors on their sacred duty to throw the homeless beyond the county line. We hear the echoes of history even as our leaders do their very best to deny history, which at this point is our only faint possibility of a means of learning what time it is.

We in the Valley, like no doubt people all over the nation, are hunkering down, focusing on local issues, trying to forget a world out there that has turned on us. Our political leaders have honed to a fine edge the rhetoric of blaming the state and federal government for everything while in Washington they are alarmed at states asserting states' rights, as in the case of Arizona. The California state Legislature is a rotten stew that blames lesser jurisdictions for the state's problems.
Despite the severe rational limitations of "putting a face on the enemy," there are in fact forces beyond the political economic imagination of the ordinary citizen that are playing important, very nasty roles in our contemporary history. Below are two articles that discuss some aspects of these macro forces. They are not exhaustive treatments of the subject. That will await historians in future generations. But we believe the authors accurately name some of the historical forces at work now.

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Three bars across for Denham?

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

This article, written two days before the Primary Elections, suggests something that only campaign finance reports not yet published can verify. It might explain how two candidates went into the last weekend of the campaign for the 19th Congressional District essentially even, and one of them won by 10 points the following Tuesday. The thesis is that the candidate to whom one Indian casino donated heavily defeated two candidates who expressed the view that another tribe in the vicinity ought to have a "fair hearing" on its application to build an "off-reservation" casino on Highway 99, a site more advantageous than the casino that funded the winner. This logic in turn rests on at least two other assumptions. First, it assumes the sprawling district, which includes the central Sierra and parts of three Valley counties, is in any sense politically coherent other than its dominant Republican registration. It assumes the Republican electorate of the district can be swayed by the largest quantity of political propaganda. And it assumes that slot-machine players from metropolitan areas in Central California have become major players an election regardless of how far out of their thoughts that campaign was at the time they dropped the money in the casino.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

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Not a boondoggle!

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Boondoggle -- a trivial, useless or wasteful expenditure, usually of public funds.

In the current economic climate, critics have suggested that high-speed rail is a boondoggle. They couldn't be more wrong. The lack of funding may slow down the project, but it will eventually become a reality.
Projects of this magnitude must not be stopped by economic cycles. Our economy will rebound and one day high-speed rail will be an important part of California's transportation mix.

At first we were reassured by these wise, confident words from the McClatchy Co.'s Fresno outlet. We also dismissed the cynical comment that Fresno won't call this project a boondoggle right up to the time some other Valley city is chosen for the site of the heavy maintenance yard. Virtually every city along the proposed routes are bidding for that yard because it would appear to be the most tangible benefit in the whole project.

Why, in fact, "high-speed rail will be an important part of California's transportation mix." Who or what power would ordain it to come into existence? Who is it that even wants it? Isn't it the same small group of leaders that believed to fervently against reality that the speculative housing boom would never bust? Isn't it the same group of brainwashed leaders who always say the same thing at the same time and hope to hoodwink the citizens into believing unison means truth?

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The U.S. Department of Westlands

Submitted: May 26, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

We were deeply gratified that on the same day it announced a truly rotten federal court decision on the Delta pumps, one that will cause more damage to the endangered spring run of salmon and more economic damage to residents of the Delta and the Pacific Coast commercial fishery, the McClatchy Company’s Fresno outlet chose to run the long piece on revolving doors in resource regulatory agencies. We replied below to this act of self-righteous, hypocritical publication that becomes blatant propaganda considering its timing and place.

 

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

5-25-10

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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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