NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Real Comcast Problem & Update

Britt Retherford wrote about Cash woes for local TV station in The Union, January 31, 2005. Negotiations with Comcast for money, services incomplete
Nevada County's lone public access television station fears for its survival if negotiations that are currently underway and that could keep the 10-month-old station afloat do not find quick a resolution, county officials say.

The viability of Nevada County TeleVision is pinned to receiving money from Comcast, the county's predominant cable service provider.
While this all interesting, the real story is that Comcast is having some bigger money problems than just funding local Cable TV access. The Air Force is balking about letting Comcast replace the coax cable coming from Yuba City to Grass Valley with a fiber optic cable. The rumor is that the Air Force believes Comcast is a security risk. The base has a new high security mission. The estimated cost is $4 Million to reroute the cable around Beale AFB. This rerouting will cause additional delays to the cable plant upgrade, more money pain for the Schools, and no broadband Internet for the rest of us, until the fiber optics in the ground? Anyone have a spare 4 Million?

COMCAST UPDATE (02/01/05):
Britt Retherford, Government Reporter at The Union has an update on the fiber coming across Beale AFB.
“...according to Terry McAteer Nevada County helped Comcast negotiate a $1 million deal last month to get the fiber cable routed through Beale.”
Steve Monaghan points out County saved Comcast big time:
It saved Comcast more like 2-3 Million if they would have had to re-route fiber around Beale...
If the County saved them that much, maybe they should be a little more generous.

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Beale's Economic Impact

Dave Moller, writes an interesting article in The Union, Beale grounded? - Closing of military base could cripple area economy, January 31, 2005
The specter of closing Beale Air Force Base is very real to those near it, and they are striving to save the $500 million economic engine that fuels eight Northern California counties.
No kidding!

I pulled my Other Voices about Beale’s economic impact today after 18 days in the Union's cue. They had space to print what other people were saying in out of town newspapers, but not enough space to print what locals were saying about local issues. Go figure. My edited thoughts from the withdrawn Other Voices: No Regional Plan B, or Local Plan A

The future can be uncertain, but an unplanned future can be down right scary. With Beale AFB on the tentative base closure list, the Governor has developed a plan to keep all California bases off the list. A tough job, as the Department of Defense plans to close one quarter of all current military installations. California has 7 bases or installations on the tentative list: 4 Marine, 1 Navy, 1 Army, and 2 Air Force. Beale is the only air base, the other Air Force installation is the Los Angeles Air Force Station.

Tim Johnson, Executive Director of the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation is a regional leaders working to save Beale AFB. His organization has committed $60,000 dollars to keep Beale off the closure list. This is their plan A, and it is their only plan. “We do not have a plan B,” said Johnson in the January 2005 Comstock’s Business.

Beale’s total annual economic impact on the region is $1.2 Billion. The specific impact on the local economy has not been calculated, but Nevada County is home to a large number of retired military personnel who use base facilities. The County is a strong tourism and recreation destination for base personnel, according to the Recreation Office. Also, local contractors support building projects on the base. It is clear our local economy will suffer if the base closes.

I find it interesting that Yuba-Sutter EDC has committed $60,000 to keep the base off the list. This is represents almost half of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council’s annual budget.

If the Air Force closes the base with all that open space, the roads, sewers and water plant becomes available for development. Beale City! In comparison, Yuba Highlands will only be a small suburb of Beale City. Are you comfortable not having a Plan B?

Wait! We do not even have a Plan A for our own economy, let alone a Plan B should Beale close. The Nevada County ERC is concerned that the community needs an economic vision. They are asking , what does the community want our economic components to be? Do we want a recreation and destination economy? A retirement community economy? A commuter bedroom community economy? A high tech manufacturing economy? Or, a balanced economy with strong components of each? It is a choice the community can make in defining the economy it wants to build and nurture. But, we need a vision with a plan to make it real.

The ERC Board approved a draft economic vision and a list of goals in December. Now they are looking for community input. What kind of community do you want to have? So far most economic visioning has been a list the things community leaders, and citizen groups, do not want in our community: traffic congestion, strong growth, big box stores, dense low cost housing. Where is the positive vision? Where is the vision we can build. Where is the plan of action?

With a positive vision, and a plan, we can effectively craft a workable strategy should Beale AFB be closed. Our own plan B. But, first we need our own Plan A.

Will it take the loss of Beale AFB to galvanize our community to action? Will it take a declining economy, papered over store fronts, closed restaurants, before the community starts developing a vision for an economy worth building? I hope we are smart enough not to wait. Let’s plan our economic future now, and not wait for it to overwhelm us with some nasty surprises, like a large development with 100,000 new neighbors, malls and superstores, only 30 minutes away on what used to be Beale AFB.

You can start by logging on to the ERC’s web log at Once you have reviewed the ERC’s vision and goals, please add your comments. Or, call the ERC (274-8455) and ask for a FAX or mail copy. It’s your future.
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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Another local blogger

Check out Grown Ups

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What kind of an economy do we want?

Here are some of my thoughts, which I shared with the Nevada County Community Leadership Institute when they asked: What kind of an economy do we want?

I would like to have a balanced economy, one that can weather economic down turns, by including multiple sectors: recreation, tourism, applied technology manufacturing, and construction. However, one has to be aware of local and global trends in defining an economic vision. For example, manufacturing jobs are going to the low cost labor regions of the world. With the rising California and Nevada County cost of living, especially housing, it is hard to compete in the global labor market. The combination of local housing costs, and a global trend in manufacturing, creates some major hurdles for a balanced economy.

Other trends will have a similar impact:
The California’s education system is not keeping up, with China, Japan and India. China now graduates twice as many engineers as the US, and they speak English as a second language. Most of our engineers only speak English. We have been the innovators, the designers and creators of products in our local applied technology cluster (some call it high tech, but it is really applied technology). Not much longer. This is a trend we must adjust too in defining a local economy. Professor Fountain, speaking at Rebound 2005, pointed out that the Sacramento region lost 5,000 high tech jobs in 2004; they moved to lower cost regions in the county and overseas. Without 5,000 construction jobs to replace them, the region would have suffered economically. Professor Fountain also pointed out the construction boom in the region is coming to an end, as building has outstripped available infrastructure. The loss of high tech and constructions jobs in Roseville and Folsum could reduce the high percentage of commuters now leaving Nevada County.

The construction industry contributes over 13 percent to the California economy. We were most fortunate to have a strong construction industry in Nevada County, most likely contributing more than the state average of 13 percent to the local economy. If our local government does not build new infrastructure: roads, sewer, water, power, telecommunications, and then our construction industry will soon grind to a halt also. Over the next five years, Nevada County could lose 10 percent, or more of the construction industry’s contribution to our local economy.

The other local trend that must be addressed is demographics. The over 60 population is at 22.6 percent. In 15 years, it will be 38.4 percent, f we hold our population at 92,000. In 15 years we will add over 15,000 more seniors to the over 60 population. If we grow to 110,000 it will be closer to 20,000. Think about the health care implications, the staffing demands on our hospital and doctors? Where will the health care workers live? Most staff and clerical workers do not make enough salary to afford houses that cost over $350,000. Think about the cost of housing in 15 years, at the current growth rate in housing costs? Larry Burkhardt at the ERC has some freighting graphs.

Given the above trends, the loss of applied technology jobs and a growing senior population, it will be difficult to maintain a balanced economy. Demographic forces alone will drive us toward a retirement community economy, with a demand for health and care services. Unfortunately service jobs are on the lower end of the salary scale. That means most workers will have to commute into the community. We will lose large chunks of our younger population, who go home to their families each night. Our grade schools will decline as young families continue to leave Nevada County. The cost of services will increase demands on local government, resulting in increased fees and taxes, as the private sector is unable to provide the needed services, due to increasing labor costs, and declining federal benefits. Millions or baby boomer are going be retiring in the next 15 years. There are not be enough young people in the labor pool to back fill the costs, thus federal and state benefits will have to decline.

I could go on and on. When defining an economic vision for Nevada County, I ask that NCCLI Study team consider both local and global trends. We live in a global world and must find our economic niche, or we will suffer the consequences of a failure to think, vision, plan and then act.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

National Debt Facts

The Skeptical Optimist has facts about the national debt. Steve Conover graphics can help the slowest among us understand we are not headed for an economic melt down. Click here.

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For conservatives only

Mike Hendrix is Spelling it out on Cold Fury. A three year summary of his postings on the Iraq war. This summary is worth your time, check it out.

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The Future of Newspapers

David Griner, The Union's Interim Managing Editor, has an interesting column on the future of newspapers in the 29 January issue. This is reminiscent of a discussion I carried on with Rich Somerville, the former Editor before he went seeking a less stressful life.

I shared some thoughts with David on his column and an idea how the paper could entice more readers online, thus increasing ads revenue for web site. After some additional thought, I have edited my original e-mail to David, removing some text and adding ideas, so I can share with you and get your feedback.

Last year, while doing some research for a book, I read the Salmon Idaho Recorder-Herald, from 1947 to 1987 on microfilm. I subscribe to the Recorder-Herald today, and it is nothing like what it was in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Today it is boring lifeless glop, with out any sole. Up until the mid 70s, the paper had “coming and goings” columns, written by locals in the communities surrounding Salmon, and by citizen reporters in community organizations. It was about school events, helping neighbors, out of town visitors, household accidents, and anything news worthy that happened in the neighborhood. These columns were about people, by neighbors, for the whiole community to enjoy. It was about building community.

None of those columns exist in the Recorder -Herald today. It is a boring newspaper. We all love to hear about what our neighbors are doing, it is human nature. That is why the corporate coffee pot is so popular, why we hang our in the local coffee shops, and gossip on the telephone. It is also it is why we find some of the blogs interesting, it is people sharing their views, troubles and successes.

The Union has an opportunity to entice more online viewers to The Union web site, by starting some neighborhood blogs, linking them to their main page. They should seek out some citizens journalists to moderate these neighborhood sites. In the process they would be creating the 21st century version of the neighborhood “coming and going” columns. We have some columnist from the neighborhoods, but they are more broadcast than conversational.

As blogs grow in popularity, more citizens “journalist” will become the trusted sources of the news. Fear is spreading among the old guard at the major newspapers, and they are attacking the bloggers. I think local papers have an opportunity to embrace the blog trend and create a more interesting newspaper.

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Beale AFB Update

KXTV News 10 is covering the Beale AFB story:
Col. Larry Wells said Beale has special qualities that make it an attractive base for the two aircraft.[Global Hawk and U-2] "We have a lot of airspace that's unencumbered," he said. "We don’t have any encroachment issues, no building right up to the base."

According to base supporters, the new Global Hawk is making Beale a target to other bases also fighting for survival. Reportedly, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington are making a pitch for the aircraft.
Can you guess which states have the strong Republican Senators, who are willing to fight for this long term mission? Do you think that Senator Boxer helped save Beale with her dispicable performance in the Rice confirmation hearings? Senator Feinestein may have some clout, but is it enough?

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Time for Aaron Klein to fess up

The Union editorial board writes it is Time has come for full disclosure, January 29, 2005
Sierra College trustees (specifically Trustee Aaron Klein) and administrators owe their shareholders - each one of us - an explanation. And not in the form of a three- or four-paragraph press release generated from days of closed-door meetings with lawyers and advisers. We're talking full disclosure. The who, what, when, where and ... most of all ... the why.

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Friday, January 28, 2005

Big Global Warming Update Part II

The lone Gaspe cedar, by Marcel Crok in the Canadan Financial Post, January 28, 2005
McIntyre and McKitrick draw far reaching conclusions from their research: "When the IPCC decides to base their policy on such studies, triggering the spending of billions of dollars, there should be more thorough checks. At some point, some one should have done an elementary check on the principal component calculations. This never happened and there is no excuse for this."
Yes, and California Air Quality Board and the Public Unilities Commission are pushing regulations that will cost each of us thousnads of dollars each year, and California’s economy billions. All, based on the IPCC report, which is based on a flawed IPCC study that no one checked before McIntyre and McKitrict took up the challenge. We need let our legislators know that they need to re-think the whole global warming issue and it's cost to Californians. It is time to get junk science out of politics.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Big Global Warming Update

Breaking the hockey stick by Marcel Crok in a Special to the Financial Post of Canada, makes a stronger case for questioning the Global Warming that is based on UN projections. Read the full story, as more scientist support Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics, and Stephen McIntyre, a mineral exploration consultant, who published the critique of Mann's hockey stick that the UN used to prove humans caused global warming.
Even Geophysical Research Letters, an eminent scientific journal, now acknowledges a serious problem with the prevailing climate reconstruction by Mann and his colleagues. This undercuts both Mann's supposed proof that human activity has been responsible for the warming of the earth's atmosphere in the 20th century and the ability to place confidence in the findings and recommendations of the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The political implication is a serious undermining of the Kyoto Protocol with its worldwide agreements on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The best part is Mann's refusal to cooperate in getting to the bottom of his errors and the discovry of Mann's computer program that only looked for data supporting the hockey stick. Real science, real global warming. Yea, sure!

Now the State of California is getting ready to tax us thousands of dollars to reduce the global warming caused by a faulty computer program. Are you ready for this?

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Beale AFB Update

The Beale Regional Alliance has been reorganized into six sub committees to better focus the save Beale AFB effort.

The Sub-Committees include:
Mission enhancement

Rumors are circulating that the DOD is investigating moving the Global Hawk mission to another base. The DOD has let a contract for two intrim data processing stations. One for Beale AFB and one for Langley AFB in Virgina. Could the folks in Virgina be trying to capture the Beale AFB mission? On a previous round of base closings, we let Texas steal the Electronic Warfare training mission, which was scheduled to be moved from Mather AFB to Beale AFB. Is Virgina doing the same this round, trying to capture the Global Hawk mission?

More base closing information can be found on the Save Beale Web site:

The Beale Regional Alliance meets the 4th Monday of every month from 11:30 to 1:30 to go over activities and strategies at the One-Stop Center. You can get on their e-mail list by sending a note, or giving a call to Brynda Stranix, Administrative Services Manager, Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation, 1227 Bridge Street, Suite, C, Yuba City, CA 95991, Direct (530) 751-8559 x103 (530) 751-8555 Fax (530) 751-8515 Bryanda’s e-mail is:

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Global warming is a computer error

A science article that appears today [01/27/05] in Geophysical Research Letters casts serious doubt on the oft-cited claim that global temperatures are warmer now than they have been anytime in the last 1,000 years.
A preview of the Geophysical Review story is at Tech Station Central.

The GR Letters article was written by Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, who demonstrated that the model, which was the centerpiece of the Third Assessment Report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001, shows a rapid global warming hocky stick, when lists of random numbers were used to represent the temperature data.

The UN reported rapid global warming in 2001 is just a computer error!

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More Pentagon’s New Map

Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of the Pentagon’s New Map has some advice for President Bush on the Middle East in the Feburary issue of Esquire: A Strategy of Making Everything Turn Put OK. This is a quick read, with some great insight!

Tom also has an interview by Jamie Glazov in Frontpage Magazine, which is available online. Click here to read some more insightful comments on globalization.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

NCCLI Looks at Local Economic Growth

George Boardman writes Let the debate begin Group asks how community looks at growth, January 25, 2005
A working group from the Nevada County Community Leadership Institute wants to collect thoughts like those into a report on what kind of economic development county residents want.

Their hope is that the final report, expected to be completed in June, will serve as a catalyst for community discussion of how growth should be handled.


The group plans to propose a series of development-related questions to the public, then summarize their responses in the group's final report.


So the group is proposing the following question to get the debate started:

What kind of local economy do we want?


Comments can be mailed to NCCLI, P.O. Box 1570, Nevada City 95959, or e-mailed to
The ERC asks similar questions on its web log at You are welcome to comment on the ERC Economic Vision.

You are also welcome to post your comments here. What kind of economy do you want?

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Monday, January 24, 2005

More Social Security Disinformation

DeBora A. Miller’s Wake-up call needed January 24, 2005, is more disinformation copied from a Democratic e-mail send to 3 million subscribers. I got one. If you look back through the letters to the editor, you will find some of the exact same phrases.
I wonder what it will take to wake up all of us middle-class Americans to the rip-off that is happening right now to the Social Security benefits that we have been banking on all these years as our employers extract that 7 1/2 percent from our wages every paycheck?

President Bush is endangering my retirement and the retirements of millions of Americans by taking the first step in his plan to dismantle Social Security.
According to the Bush Plan, the changes will not start until the plan is enacted and then only for new workers entering the work force.
Recently, White House sources revealed their plan to cut promised benefits to retirees by nearly a third. And these cuts are guaranteed - whether you opt in to the Bush plan or not.
Ah, those White House Sources. This is right out of the Democratic Party e-mail. We can all put words in the mouth of White House sources.
For those entering the work force today, that means more than a 25 percent cut in the retirement benefits they're counting on; for their children, it guarantees a 46 percent cut.
More disinformation from the Democrats. Reductions may be in the future for those entering the work force, BUT ONLY after Congress and the President have put a plan in place. Which will include a provision to invest a portion of their SS in investment accounts for over forty years.
We can't stand by and let George W. Bush and the Republicans cut our promised guaranteed retirement benefits - especially when so many of us are counting on Social Security to help us lead a happy, healthy life when we retire.
Social Security was a safety net, it was never intended to be a guaranteed retirement plan. Each of us are responsible for our own retirement plan, not the government who is only providing a safety net.

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Bush's Inaugural Speech

Bush takes the long view, he is thinking far into our future. Those sniping at him are short term thinkers, who are playing a political game that is not in our long term best interest.

Thomas Barnett, the author of the Pentagon’s New Map, on Bush’s inaugural speach.
I liked Bush's speech a lot. I liked how he focused on tyranny and oppression and freedom and liberty, and eschewed democracy and made a point about saying we don't seek to impose it on others in some culturally unrealistic way.

I liked how he pushed the big points and didn't mention the current details, which I don't think belong in such a speech, which is naturally written for the ages (and it was Mark Gerson's swan song).

Best analysis I heard was on "Here and Now" from presidential historian who said Gerson reaching for Declaration of Independence linkages, and I like that because it reminds us that U.S. is source code for current era of globalization and that we lead simply because we're just further along in this historical process.

I think it was right for Bush to talk mostly foreign affairs, because they have defined his presidency.

All in all, I found the speech very much in line with PNM's vision, and I think the criticism about it promising too much just misses the point of what that sort of speech is designed to do, plus I hate the logic that says, "if you can't do it all right away, then you shouldn't imply you're going to do it anywhere." That is an asinine slippery-slope argument that basically says, "perfection or hypocrisy--those are the choices."

Those are the choices alright--for non-action. And that's just not Bush. As I said in Esquire this month, the man's is the "just do it" president, and that's what we basically need at this point in history, even if he'll never be my first choice.
More from Barnett here.

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Global Warming: More politics than facts

Dr Chris Landsea, and major contributor to UN Climate Change assessments has with draws his support for future work, after the IPCC claims that global warming is contributor to hurricane intensity.

After some prolonged deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from participating in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized.


All previous and current research in the area of hurricane variability has shown no reliable, long-term trend up in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones, either in the Atlantic or any other basin. The IPCC assessments in 1995 and 2001 also concluded that there was no global warming signal found in the hurricane record.
Read his full letter here.

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BEALE AFB Update: Regional Alliance Meeting

Beale Regional Alliance meeting
Monday Jan. 24, 2005
11:30 a.m. - 1:30p.m.
Yuba County OneStop - Beckwourth Room
Lunch will be served.


Brynda Stranix
Administrative Services Manager
Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation
1227 Bridge Street, Suite, C, Yuba City, CA 95991
Direct (530) 751-8559 x103
(530) 751-8555 Fax (530) 751-8515

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pentagon’s New Map Update

Check out my PNM review in the Union Prospector today.
The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas P.M. Barnett
GP Putnam’s Sons

Barnett distills four themes: security, economics, politics and culture into a cutting edge vision of globalization. All are key to war and peace in the twenty-first century. He provides insightful analysis of problems the Pentagon faced once the Cold War ended. Who was the next great enemy, needed to justify new high tech weapons? What was the hunter-killer subs new mission, with the Soviet fleet rotting in port?

Barnett’s views languished until September 11, 2001, when the Pentagon got a new mission -- eradicate terrorism. A mission they were ill equipped to accomplish. Our armed forces can rapidly smash rogue armies in weeks, but are having trouble rebuilding nations which takes decades.

A brilliant thinker, Bartlett divides the world into the core, nations connected by trade and communications in the global economy. The disconnected nations, which he calls the non-integrating gap, are isolated from the global economy by religion, failed leadership and economic stupidity. The world is safer, once the core works to shrink the gap. I highly recommend this important public policy book. More information here:
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Social Security Facts?

Jim Groom what us to ge the Get the real facts on Social Security, January 20, 2005
The argument over Social Security is heating up and not too soon. The administration and fellow travelers are rallying around the flag of misinformation. One published a letter in The Union calling for all to search out the facts, yet this same writer was pushing an article from AEI, one of the largest conservative think tanks. American Enterprise Institute is one of architectural engineers of Bush's plan. What objectivity!
So Jim wants us to check out a web site run by The American Prospect, a magazine of liberal ideas and politics. This is supposed to be a objective site? I suggest you check out both sites, then give the President’s proposal a fair hearing. He is not willing to wait until SS has failed before taking action, he wants to fix it now. He is a true leader, looking ahead to the day when two workers are paying the SS for a single retiree. If SS for this retired person was $2400 a month, each worker would have to pay $1200 each. Will your children be comfortable doing that?

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Inaugural price and history

We have seen a plithora of letters complaining about the cost of the Bush Inaugural celebration. The losers always complain, so let’s look at the facts. Read the full story from the Washington Times.
But a review of the cost for past inaugurations shows Mr. Bush's will cost less than President Clinton's second inauguration in 1997, which cost about $42 million. When the cost is adjusted for inflation, Mr. Clinton's second-term celebration exceeds Mr. Bush's by about 25 percent. According to the Consumer Price Index, $42 million in 1997 is the equivalent of $49.5 in 2004.

The significant majority of funding for this year's festivities, including nine officials balls, are from private donations and tickets for events held by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a similar setup to fund raising Mr. Clinton used to underwrite his inauguration. Mr. Clinton had a record 12 balls in 1997.

A Jan. 20, 1997, story by USA Today estimated about $12.7 million of Mr. Clinton's inauguration was financed by U.S. taxpayers. Initial estimates indicate the District will foot about $17 million in security costs this year.
Security costs more when we are at war with terrorists. Let the loosers complain! But, do not let their complaining ruin your celebration of this historical event.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Foolish assumptions

David Briceno thinks Protectionism [is] key to economy, January 17, 2005
Protectionism pays off. It was protectionism that won 14 out of 18 presidential victories for Republicans between 1860 and 1932. And protectionism created the greatest economic expansion in this nation's history from 1865 to 1913. Republican free traders today forget that the Republican platform used to be projectionist from 1884 to 1944. That's right. Republicans used to be protectionists!


Protectionism has benefited America economically and politically in the past - and will most likely in the future.
Not! Protectionism may have worked when the US was an island nation, isolated by vast oceans and northern and southern boarders un-serviced serviced by efficient transportation networks. Protectionism cannot work today, with global connectivity supported by the Internet, FedEx and DHL airborne freight liners, and high speed container ships. We have become accustomed to year round fresh fruit from the southern hemisphere, affordable wide screen flat screens from Korea, and under $1000 computers from China. We are no longer self-sufficient, we must import oil, natural gas and electrical energy to sustain our economy and our quality of live. Protectionism will take us back to then 19th Century! Do you want to go there?

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The Red / Blue welfare map

Britt Retherford article on Red county, blue county, January 17, 2005
This map, which depicts the local vote for president in the familiar John Kerry blue shades and George Bush reds, gives the first real picture of the modern political polarization in the county. The pistol-shape outline of the county is clustered with spots of blues and reds, demonstrating that while Bush supporters have a strong hold on the "handle," several of the county's northern communities lean Democratic.
Sorry, the Union did not publish the red/blue map online. When I looked at map in the dead tree edition, I wounder how many past, current and future welfare candidate live in the blue areas. If we plotted welfare recipents by address, would most of them fall in the blue areas?

I am just wondering?

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Check out NC Transportation

The Governor's budget is going to have some long term impacts on Nevada County transportation and housing. Check out some related posts at NC Transportation

Base Realignment and Closure Background. provides some BRAC background, including a list of past closures. On the right is a link to the selection criteria published in the Federal Register, February 2004.

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

BEALE AFB: Mission Update

From UV in the UK, at the UV/America Conference.

Global Hawk will not be fully operation until 2008. The plan is to buy 50 total. Does this indicate overseas depolyment?
First operational USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk arrived in November at Beale AFB, Calif, and while the operational doctrine and plans still must be decided, the Vice Commander of the VIIIth Air Force says they will strictly control access by users seeking to use its services. ‘We have to. We are determined to get hold of this problem – a problem you can call ‘Global Hawk success,’ ’ BG Kim McKenzie told the conference. Steps being contemplated include ‘fully prioritised’ requests that will have been justified in advance. Additionally, ‘all new requirements that come up must now be fully funded before we accept them,’ she said. Finally, to qualify for a new application for the Ghawk, there must now be a pre-approved maintenance plan as well.

McKenzie said the VIIIth will be up and operational with the Global Hawk by 2008, although there will be some level of operation prior to that. And McKenzie left no illusions about the importance of the asset in USAF, despite horror stories about rising costs. ‘We fully intend to buy 50 of them,’ although she admitted current budgetary means for moving towards that number are constrained in the short term.
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Friday, January 14, 2005

A Message to Liberals

Diane Miessler sends a Message to liberals, in the January 13, 2005 letters to editor.
To my fellow liberals: I'd like to see less demonizing of the Right (many of whose core values I agree with) and more examination of institutional changes we could make toward a better-informed public.
However, I have issues with her third recommendations:
3) Resurrect the Fairness Doctrine we had in the 60s, where media broadcasting views from one end of the spectrum HAD to present opposing views. Remember when media dialogue was civil and reasoned? The Fairness Doctrine would balance extremist, polarizing views of Rush Limbaugh and the like.
I perfer to let the market decide, not the government. We now have the both left and right pundits on the air, and can choose with the tuning knob what we listen too. Even satellite radio has America Right and America Left channels. If no one listens, the channel, or program, will go away.
There's nothing to be gained by trashing the Right; there's much to be gained by ending our institutionalized ignorance.

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BEALE AFB: Get your updates here

We will be tracking the Beale AFB closing story until a final decision is made, and the region has heaved a sigh of relief, or launched plan B, the development of Beale City.

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BEALE AFB: Pelosi picks base duo

Daniel Witter reporter for Appeal-Democrat writes:
Former California representative Vic Fazio or former Clinton administration official Wade Sanders could serve on the federal commission charged with deciding which military bases will survive this year's cuts.


California lost 29 bases, 91,000 jobs and $30 billion since 1988. Although more than 60 bases remain, some believe the state will suffer more closures.
Will Beale AFB be next? Full story here.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Endangered Social Security?

Marilynn McSeveney is worried about Endangered benefits, letters to the editor, January 12, 2005
President Bush is endangering my retirement and the retirements of my two children and four grandchildren.

Well, to start with any changes to social security will not impact current workers. The changes will only apply to new workers entering the work force. Marilynn’s Social Security is safe.

Why the changes, because Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. It is a pay-as-you-go program. Taxes from working Americans go directly into the pockets of retired Americans. When the program was launched in the 1930s, there were 11 workers per retiree; today, the ratio is 3-1; in about 20 years, it will be an untenable 2-1.

Now lets suppose that Marilynn’s children and grandchildren are being taxed to insure that she and her neighbors have their full benefits. Will this be fair. No, so that is why the system must be reformed. Now!

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Monday, January 10, 2005

Number Ten, Washington Post Best Seller

This is an important book everyone should read.

The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas P.M. Barnett
GP Putnam’s Sons

Barnett distills four themes: security, economics, politics and culture into a cutting edge vision of globalization. All are key to war and peace in the twenty-first century. He provides insightful analysis of problems the Pentagon faced once the Cold War ended. Who was the next great enemy, needed to justify new high tech weapons? What was the hunter-killer subs new mission, with the Soviet fleet rotting in port?

Barnett’s views languished until September 11, 2001, when the Pentagon got a new mission -- eradicate terrorism. A mission they were ill equipped to accomplish. Our armed forces can rapidly smash rogue armies in weeks, but are having trouble rebuilding nations which takes decades.

A brilliant thinker, Bartlett divides the world into the core, nations connected by trade and communications in the global economy. The disconnected nations, which he calls the non-integrating gap, are isolated from the global economy by religion, failed leadership and economic stupidity. The world is safer, once the core works to shrink the gap. I highly recommend this important public policy book. More information here.

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

BLOGGING - Changing Our World

I just finished BLOG: Understanding the Information Reformation, by Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt is a conservative radio host, law professor, author, and blogger. He shows the connection to the Reformation, then covers blogging from the interplay between the Old Media, the Jason Blair scandal, the Swift Boat Vets, and Dan Rather attempting to feed us counterfeit documents damaging President Bush’s military record. New to blogging, Chapter 13 was the best, Hewitt gives new bloggers some pointers on how to start a blog, with a list of do’s and don'ts, plus some advice how to market it.

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Victor Davis Hanson

The Disenchanted American
Are we growing world-weary?
The civilized world who preach about "the law" and then seek asylum in their closed shops and barred stores when the nuclear Daltons or terrorist Clantons run roughshod over the town. In our own contemporary ongoing drama, China, Russia, and India watch bemused as the United States tries to hunt down the psychopathic killers while Western elites ankle-bite and hector its efforts. I suppose the Russians, Chinese, and Indians know that Islamists understand all too well that blowing up two skyscrapers in Moscow, Shanghai, or Delhi would guarantee that their Middle Eastern patrons might end up in cinders.
Read the whole column at Natinal Review Online here.

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State of Fear, a Global Warming Update

I gave my wife Michael Crichton, State of Fear for Christmas. She just finshed, and then lamented that it came to an end. “I love Michael Crichton’s books, and I am disapointed when they end.” We share books in the family, and I am next in line to read Crichton’s techno-thriller expose of the enviromental lobbists, and their wrong headed promotion of global warming. See my review in the March Republic.

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Hospital article questions

Hospital far from closing - Officials say finances bad, not ruinous, Dave Moller writes in the January 8, 2005 Union front page.
At Sierra Nevada Memorial, "the hospital is not in danger of closing, or even close to that," Cooke said. Fewer patients, declining insurance payouts and higher costs are the reasons for the hospital's woes, said Cooke and hospital CEO Tom Collier.
Well, I have a couple of questions? Why does the hospital have fewer patients, when the local population of seniors is expanding? It is one of the fastest growing population cohorts in the County. Are these new seniors more healthy and required less care? Or, are they seeking care outside the community, in Auburn, Roseville and Sacramento? If that is the case, as a hospital administrator I would want to know why?

As a newspaper reporter, I would be asking some second level questions. I might even seek out people who are going outside the community for medical care, and ask why. Could it be they are seeking lower cost, higher quality care? Are Auburn and Roseville medical care facilties considered better options, worth the drive? This second level investigation could be a more interesting story than some layoffs.

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Illegal toys at The Union

David Griner filling for the Editor, writes the Union Publisher is using That timeless leadership tool: the lawn dart, January 8, 2005
Sometimes, people ask what it takes to be the editor of a newspaper. Oh, it's a complex formula of experience, talent and good fortune, analyzed through a tireless selection process.

In our case, the publisher blindly lobbed a lawn dart across the newsroom, and I was the one lucky enough to find it embedded in my shoulder. Picking a president should be this easy.

David better watch out that dart could end up in his brain, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
After a recent serious injury caused by a lawn dart, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reissued its warning that lawn darts are banned and should be destroyed. Effective on December 19, 1988, CPSC banned the sale of all lawn darts in the United States. Pointed lawn darts, intended for use in an outdoor game, have been responsible for the deaths of three children. The most recent injury occurred last week in Elkhart, Ind., when a 7-year-old boy suffered a brain injury after a lawn dart pierced his skull.
Full story here

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bush Stole Another One

Ron Lowe thinks that Bush stole another election, Letters to the Editor, January 4, 2005
Cheating by Republicans was planned and widespread, especially with the new touch screen voting machines. Swing states like Florida and Ohio were targeted, and the machines were preprogrammed to change every fifth vote for Kerry to a vote for Bush.
Yea, they did it in precincts controlled by Democrats. How very clever of the Republicans, to steal votes right under the nose of those supicious Democrats.

Oh, by the way Ron, the Election was certified in Congress today. Time to stop worrying about who won the election.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Big global warming update

The Geologic Record and Climate Change By Tim Patterson at Tech Centrtal. Tim presents a good case for solar forcing of the earths temperture changes. Full article here.

In conclusion, the geologic record clearly shows us that there really is little correlation between CO2 levels and temperature. Although CO2 can have a minor influence on global temperature the effect is minimal and short lived as this cycle sits on top of the much larger water cycle, which is what truly controls global temperatures. The water cycle is in turn primarily influenced by natural celestial cycles and trends.
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Global warming /Tsunami Update

If you are worried about global warming causing an earth quake and resulting tsunami, check out Global Warming vs. Tsunamis? Tsunamis Win, By Roy Spencer at Tech Central Station.

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Monday, January 03, 2005


If you do not read the Sac Bee Opinion page, you may have missed this: Grass Valley publisher sparks an outcry, by Jeff Kearn’s a UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism student.
A group of liberals has begun a campaign to get rid of the man they say encourages divisiveness.

By Jeff Kearns -- Special To The Bee
Published 2:15 am PST Sunday, January 2, 2005

GRASS VALLEY - Politics in this old Gold Rush town long has been polarized, and as recent growth has exacerbated the situation, few have felt it more than Jeff Ackerman, publisher of The Union. The pages of his 141-year-old daily paper often smolder with attacks that reflect deep divisions in western Nevada County, where migration from urban areas is bringing new people, money and attitudes.
Check out the full article here, it is worth your time to read. It gives some insight to both Jeff Ackerman and his nemeses Eric Engle.

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Sunday, January 02, 2005


The missing dots in the Union’s What 2005 headlines to look like, January 1, 2005, from the Editorial Board.

It’s hard work to define a community worth having:
What's hard - and vastly more important - is to look at the coming year and try to figure out the headlines lying in wait for us.
I agree, looking ahead is hard work; it takes some reflection and ability to connect the dots. It is even tougher when you leave out some of the dots. Let’s look at the Unions dots, and some of those that maybe missing.
Here are some things to keep residents of Nevada County alert:

• The California financial mess. With the state budget shortfall at least $8 billion and growing, 2005 may be the most difficult budget year in state history. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's efforts to rein in spending to date have faltered. With the governor's budget plan due in January, even deeper cuts than have been predicted could impact Nevada County's schools, infrastructure and nonprofits.
Missing Dot: The County and City Housing Elements, which must meet state mandated affordable housing goals. Failing to act on the plan could result in local government being denied infrastructure and social service grants. Big savings for the state budget if local government does not comply with the affordable housing mandate. True, there may not be any money to grant, but local government must have checked all the boxes to be eligible.
• The vocal slow-growthers will be watching closely to see how Grass Valley handles the four large housing developments seeking annexation to the city. The City Council, with three new members, will have a hot potato in their laps with this issue. How it's handled could set the political tone for the county in 2005.
Missing Dot: The General Plan update, which will be just a contentious as the annexation process. Having failed to hold their seats on the Board of Supervisors, the slow grouters' will resort to the courts to constrain growth. We will see some legal challenges to any attempts to change the General Plan build out ceiling.

Missing Dot: We are loosing companies and families due to the lack of affordable housing. The Work Force Housing Team has defined the needs and a process, which requires building 25 to 30 homes at a time on high-density lots. Until the annexations are done, the land and infrastructure required for this type of development is not available. The economic and social survival of our community depends on a having affordable housing for the core workers, medical technicians, nurses, firemen, police and the workers required by a robust service and manufacturing sector.

Missing Dot: We have a new Board of Supervisors, with two experienced leaders to guide the early sessions. Some supporters of the newly elected Board members would like to undo some decisions made by the more liberal Boards, which was in power over the past ten years. This should only be done, in the context of moving forward, toward a positive vision of our future. We cannot go forward a future worth building, by looking in our rearview mirror.
• You thought 2004's tinder-box fire season was scary, wait till next summer. We stop worrying about the fire danger when the rains and snows come, but we shouldn't. The early snowpack measurements so far are below last year's at this time. Depending what the report is by spring, we'd better be sure that our firefighters are trained and ready to go. Remember San Bernardino ...
Missing Dot: Fuel load reduction, brush and grass weed eating, and building defensible spaces are as important as trained firefighters. Just as firefighters need training, so do home and property owner in fire safe practices. Removing the danger makes the fire fighter’s job much easier and certainly safer. In our neighborhood, we have experienced one downside to removing the fir and cedar saplings, buck brush and manzanita, as it has reveled more about our neighbor than we wanted to know. Now instead of a green screen, we see trash, junk cars and broken toys.
• After a flurry of concern about Nevada County's growing methamphetamine crisis following a succession of violent crimes and deaths, complacency has set in again. "Drug problem - what drug problem?" But don't be fooled - meth labs are cooking away and the ranks of users are growing day by day. Will it take another string of tragedies to stir the community into action instead of just talk? Stay tuned.
Missing Dot: What are we doing with the meth cookers we catch? Crime is down and the prison population is up in California. Is there a connection? Are we putting the meth cookers in jail, or just turning them back out on the street to start the process over again? How many meth cookers are return offenders?
• But lest we be labeled as predictors only of "bad" news, let us also anticipate beautiful mountain vistas amid clear skies and fresh breezes; energetic citizens with a smile and a helping hand for their neighbors; a heaping helping of music, theater and art; and public officials who offer us a vision to follow and then lead us there.
Missing Dot: Our public officials have not provided us with a clear vision for a future worth building, though Grass Valley is trying. Many officials and community leaders only tell us what they do not want the community to become: less growth, less traffic congestion, no big box stores, etc. The only sure method for creating a community worth having is to build it ourselves. That requires a positive vision, not a long litany of what we do not want our community to become. You cannot build a future worth having from a long list of negative pronouncements.

Missing Dot: The Economic Resource Council has started a vision process for economic development, which so far has been ignored by community leaders. It is an opportunity for the community to engage in a dialog about a community worth having, a community that has a robust economy capable of generating the revenue it needs to keep it’s infrastructure in good order, and a prosperous community which can support its nonprofit social service and art organizations. The ERC vision is posted at You are welcome to register and comment.

I am sure this is not all the dots that need to be on our vision. You are welcome to add more dots. Tell me what you think

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Tom Van Wagner does not like my 17 December 2004, Global Warming Other Voices and demands to know by What credentials? I write, January 1, 2005.

Well from under my rock, let me explain.
Mr. Steele, just what are your credentials that provide you with such surety of opinion?
Well I have not been to vaulted academic institutions, but I have studied the Sun as an amateur Radio Astronomer, and Amateur Radio Operator. I am an avid reader of science magazines, including Science, New Scientist, Discover, IEEE Spectrum and MIT Technology Review. If you read my book reviews in the Republic, you will see I read 3-5 science books a year, many on global warming issues. I just finished Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media, by Patrick J. Michael, a details analysis of the global warming deception. For a change of pace, I will be reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which exposes global warming fraud in a novel format.

Mr Van Wagner thinks I am wasting resources by calling for some common sense tax policy.
"coming up with hair-brain 'theories.' Cut taxes!"
It's your tax dollars. Should you be spending your tax dollars to fix problem without a workable solution?

There is no doubt that the earth is warming. It has been for a long time long before we started burning fossil fuels. The issues, is the contribution of CO2 to this warming and what we can do about it. Not much according to many highly regarded scientist, including Dr. Richard Lindzen a Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT and 17,000 other scientist, who signed a petition stating their views that human caused global warming is unlikly. A list of the 17,000 petition signers can be found here.
. . belief that human-caused activities are responsible, at least in part, for the rapid climate change underway globally.
The key words here are “in part.” Yes, CO2 does help keep the planet warm, but so does methane and water vapor. Both have a greater influence than CO2, yet nature is the major source of these gases. There is no “rapid climate change” And we can do little to stop what is occurring. Even the scientist at the Tenth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Buenos Aires, Argentina. December 6-17, 2004, concluded little can be done. Full Koyto implementation would only reduce temperture change by less then 1 degree C.

Even with out signing Kyoto The U.S. share of emissions, as a percentage of the world total, keeps dropping. Currently, it amounts to less than 21 percent of the total, a drop of about 30 percent from a decade ago. This according to a Pew Climate Data: Insight and Observations report. More on the Pew Report, By Duane D. Freese who reported on the COP meeting here
Dude, the Arctic is melting! Chill!
Yes, the Arctic is melting and we should all chill. It has been melting since the last ice age which peaked 15,000 years ago. It will take another 7,500 years for the Artic to melt. The melting started a long time ago, and will end after we are all long gone. In the meantime California insists on raising the cost of cars, trucks, home heating and lighting with legislative tinkering and punitive taxes, which will have zero impact on Arctic melting. The only impact will be on your wallet.

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