Opinion Columns

The end of the nightly homework ritual

April 24, 2014 — 

Once our children enter school, the almost nightly ritual of helping them with their homework begins. For generations, parents across the country have sat down at the kitchen table with their children nightly and performed this ritual.

Granted, there are times it has been a pain for both child and parent. Nonetheless, helping our children with their homework has become almost a rite of passage for both.

Learn more »

Bundy standoff is a Fox News’ costume drama

April 23, 2014 — 

One thing about that mangy posse of anti-government crackpots camped out at Cliven Bundy’s place in the Nevada desert: Most don’t know a thing about cattle ranching.

See, it’s calving season across most of the country. No rancher worthy of the name is going to run off, leaving his cows to fend for themselves, while he fights somebody else’s battles. Particularly not some deadbeat who refuses to pay his grazing fees and who claims that the same laws that apply to every other rancher in the United States don’t apply to him.

Learn more »

Will Obamacare’s losers outvote its winners in November?

April 23, 2014 — 

When it comes to the politics of Obamacare, there’s really only one question that matters: How many Americans are benefiting from the new health-care system, and how many are hurting? Problem is, we know more about the first part of the question than the second.

Obamacare’s advocates have pushed hard against Republican attempts to highlight Americans who have been particularly hard hit by the new law.

Learn more »

General Motors a victim of circumstances in failure of ignition switches?

April 22, 2014 — 

News reports recently noted that failure of ignition switches in some General Motors cars caused catastrophic events. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has been grilling GM CEO Mary Barra on its whys and wherefores.

But the committee, made up largely of lawyers and/or politicians who lack an understanding of the process by which parts and sub-assemblies get into automobiles, were less than satisfied with her testimony.

Learn more »

Move it or lose it

April 22, 2014 — 

You know how your life can pass before your eyes in a minute? Last week, motivated by the warm weather and spring in my garden, I decided to do pruning and cleaning up.

There I was, at the top of an 8-foot hill in my backyard, clipping away, when I stepped on a green pine cone. It rolled and away I went, pitching forward, crashing through bushes, hitting a stone wall and landing in a dry bed of river rocks. I am 70 years old.

Learn more »

It Takes a Village Idiot

April 21, 2014 — 

Learn more »

Fracking: Find an indisputably clean method

April 21, 2014 — 

When a city like Carson, home to one large oil refinery and next-door neighbor to another, hard by the junction of two major freeways and site of both a Cal State campus and a Major League Soccer stadium, slaps a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing because of environmental questions, you know fracking of California’s vast oil and gas reserves is no sure thing.

Carson’s current city fathers and mothers, not around when most of those land-use decisions were made, are essentially saying “basta,” Italian for enough.

Learn more »

BriarPatch takes steps to reduce single-use bags

April 21, 2014 — 

BriarPatch Co-op Community Market is set to become the first grocery store in western Nevada County to adopt a policy of charging 10 cents each for large, single-use paper grocery bag.

The charge will go into effect today, Earth Day, bringing the community-owned grocery store in step with the most forward-thinking food co-ops and stores in the state.

Learn more »

Supervisors should compromise on pot cultivation ordinance

April 21, 2014 — 

Tomorrow, April 22, the Nevada County board of supervisors will have the opportunity to adopt a new, reasonable and workable medical marijuana ordinance already proven to have the support of thousands of Nevada County residents. They should simply do so.

The county’s current Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance doesn’t work because it is too restrictive. But it passed under “urgency” on May 8, 2012, with the board acknowledging it was flawed and stating they would address it again sometime in the future.

Learn more »

Keeping retail dollars from heading down Highway 49

April 21, 2014 — 

There’s been a lot of discussion recently in western Nevada County about how to keep the retail dollars spent by people like me from leaking out of the county.

A study conducted a couple of years ago concluded that the county loses $200 million annually in retail sales to Auburn, Roseville and other cities in the region, decreasing local tax revenue and presumably the quality of life.

Learn more »

What is the difference between a journalist and a blogger?

April 17, 2014 — 

I have a funny joke for our readers.

What is the difference between a journalist and a blogger?

Learn more »

How we devalued the ‘R’ word

April 16, 2014 — 

At the risk of angering somebody like MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, I sometimes used to joke that I only look white. Actually, I’m Irish. Meaning basically that I wasn’t raised to think the man in the big house had all the answers or deserved all the power he’d inherited.

It was in that spirit that I recently challenged Rep. Paul Ryan’s remarks about the shiftlessness of African-Americans. From the 17th century onward, I wrote, “virtually every negative stereotype applied to our ‘inner city’ brethren today was first applied to Paul Ryan’s (and my own) ancestors. Irish peasants were called shiftless, drunken, sexually promiscuous, donkey strong but mentally deficient. They smelled bad.”

Learn more »

Include love in political policy, debates

April 16, 2014 — 

Was Jeb Bush right to insert love into a political debate? Such was the gist of a question I was asked on talk radio in response to the former Florida governor’s assertion that some immigrants come into the United States illegally as an “act of love.”

It would be trite to echo the Beatles and say, “All You Need Is Love.” It would also oversimplify and obscure rigorous policy differences. But it also could be a start.

Learn more »

Retiring judge endorses Tice-Raskin as successor

April 15, 2014 — 

In the following open letter to the public, Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling endorsed United States prosecutor Robert Tice-Raskin as the person most qualified to replace him:

Dear Nevada County Voters,

Learn more »

Hillary leans on Bill and Barack to sell presidency

April 15, 2014 — 

Recently Hillary Clinton gave what appeared at first to be a rambling and unfocused answer when asked to name the proudest achievement of her four years as secretary of state. The short version is, she doesn’t have one. But Clinton’s words make a lot more sense when seen not as a nonanswer to a specific question but as an effort to lay the foundation and establish a theme for a presidential campaign.

The occasion was her appearance on a panel discussion at the Women in the World meeting in Manhattan. It was pretty easy going; the moderator, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, asked softball after softball. (Sample: Noting Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, Friedman asked: “What have you learned from her?”)

Learn more »

What are the progressives so afraid of?

April 14, 2014 — 

Michele Spencer, in her Other Voices piece on April 4, states that everyone knows “that something is going seriously wrong in this country …” and cites the “growing income gap between the top 1 percent and the rest of us is likely evidence of the underlying problem.”

Boy, has she hit the nail on the head, but is entirely wrong as to the impetus of that gap.

Learn more »

Plenty of reasons not to trust state government

April 14, 2014 — 

Californians don’t trust their state government. That’s nothing really new, but right now there’s as much cause for distrust as ever before in modern times.

There is, of course, the scandal that sees three indicted or convicted state senators under suspension after accusations of political corruption, gun-running and/or perjury, all refusing to resign.

Learn more »

It Takes a Village Idiot

April 14, 2014 — 

Learn more »

Obamacare turns out to be positive experience

April 14, 2014 — 

I have been reading a lot of conjecture and rumors lately regarding our nation’s new health-care system. For instance, a recent writer went so far as to say that doctors were refusing to take on new patients with Obamacare.

The true fact is that many doctors are not taking on new patients no matter what kind of insurance they have. There are just not enough primary care doctors, especially outside of major cities. More about doctors and Obamacare later …

Learn more »

It’s time to find out what the candidates are really made of

April 14, 2014 — 

Except for last Thursday’s district attorney duke-out, the three candidate nights held so far in Nevada County have been relatively bloodless affairs, hardly in keeping with the full-contact politics favored by most partisans in the county.

The League of Women Voters means well, and there is enlightenment to be gained by having all of the candidates for an office respond to the same set of questions. But the unfailingly polite and bend-over-backwards fairness of these forums takes the spark out of the politics.

Learn more »

It takes a village idiot

April 11, 2014 — 

R.L. Crabb cartoon

Learn more »

Piecemeal immigration changes likely this year

April 11, 2014 — 

The grand compromise on immigration passed by the U.S. Senate 10 months ago is now all but history, despite talk from President Obama and other Democrats about “comprehensive reform.”

For comprehensive immigration reform, as it’s understood in Washington, D.C., means granting undocumented immigrants some kind of pathway to citizenship. Only a very few Republicans are willing to allow this, no matter how arduous and long the path would be.

Learn more »

Secret sauce behind opponents of a minimum wage hike

April 10, 2014 — 

There’s a heated debate going on in Congress and many state capitols this spring over raising the minimum wage. One of the key players — and a vocal opponent of wage increases — is the restaurant lobby, led by the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

So, when the Restaurant Association holds its lobby day in Washington, D.C., in late April, topping its agenda will be this: to stick a fork in the proposed federal minimum wage increase.

Learn more »

What our community should know about the Day of Silence

April 10, 2014 — 

Everyone who has been in high school knows how difficult it is to deal with peer pressure.

The Day of Silence provides an escape from the pressure.

Learn more »

The killing, jailing of journalists continues

April 10, 2014 — 

Journalism is not a crime. This is the rallying cry in demanding the release of four Al-Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt. Three of them — Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed — have just passed their hundredth day of incarceration. The fourth, Abdullah al-Shami, has been in jail for more than six months. They have been charged with “spreading lies harmful to state security and joining a terrorist organization.” Of course, the only thing they were doing was their job.

Anja Niedringhaus also was doing her job as a photographer for The Associated Press when she was murdered last week in Khost, Afghanistan. She was covering the preparations for Afghanistan’s national election and was sitting in her car with AP reporter Kathy Gannon when an Afghan police officer opened fire, killing Niedringhaus and wounding Gannon.

Learn more »

Time for bipartisan drought-coping measures

April 9, 2014 — 

The recent letter proposing pipelines to bring water to California was intriguing, although I disagree that building more dams is “insane.”

Investing in infrastructure to bring water from as far away as Alaska and North Dakota to “fill California reservoirs,” as the writer suggests, would be economically pointless without expanding existing storage capacity.

Learn more »

End of discussion

April 7, 2014 — 

Regarding my letter of Feb. 28, I seem to have stirred up a “hornets’ nest” or struck a nerve with liberal Democrats who are blind to the truth regarding President Obama’s lack of transparency and dishonesty with the American people and also his abuse of power.

I would like to respond to Connie Barker who questioned, “if Obama was so powerful and dictatorial, why can he not get Congress to do anything?”

Learn more »

Suicide: An increasing public health concern

April 7, 2014 — 

“You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated.” — Maya Angelou

Learn more »

‘All politics is local’

April 4, 2014 — 

Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Tip O’Neill first used the phrase “All politics is local” in 1932. It became a common phrase in U.S. politics after he rose to the speakership. O’Neill served in the House of Representatives for 34 years, beginning in 1952 and including 10 years as speaker.

He was obviously well liked by his Massachusetts constituents. Americans generally like their elected representatives. They might not like the other guy or gal’s representatives. Maybe that’s just human nature?

Learn more »

Did I miss something?

April 4, 2014 — 

When did we convene a Constitutional Convention? What’s happening to our nation? I can remember when the U.S. Constitution was revered and respected. Now it is reviled and persecuted by those who have sworn an oath to protect and defend it and the people it represents against all enemies, foreign and domestic!

Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated, when speaking to Egyptian officials in 2012: “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa, that was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary … It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done …”

Learn more »
View 20 More Stories in Opinion Columns »
Back to Top