Thursday, October 27, 2016


Inundation Zone of Proposed Dam: San Joaquin River Gorge

Note: The Fresno Bee coincidentally stopped publishing my letters to the editor around the time I started opposing a dam at Temperance Flat, a dam that the Bee wholeheartedly supports, so unfortunately every now and then I'm going to include what might have been a letter to the editor in this space.

     According to Fred Vanderhoof, chairman of the Fresno County Republican Party, a bully is going to harass farmers, business men and pastors if Hillary Clinton is elected, a bully with two terrifying faces: regulation and socialism. This bully will tear our constitution and all of our cherished rights to pieces.
     I started to wonder what this bully actually looks like. Perhaps Mr. Vanderhoof is referring to the bully who prohibits child labor, sweatshops, job discrimination and exploitation, the bully who puts the breaks on wall-street greed, the bully who stops polluters and corporate malfeasance.
     Could this bully also look like police officers, firemen and teachers? These people, after all, get paid by state and local governments, with hefty support from the federal government. What about the soldier, the postal worker, the social worker, and all the others who labor for the federal government? Bullying socialists all?
     I'm not sure exactly what Mr. Vanderhoof means because Republicans often use a type of doublespeak that contains one level of meaning for insiders and another for those easily frightened by the bogeyman.
     Mr. Vanderhoof wants to get government off our backs, I guess. I'm also guessing that he means that taxpayers should stop propping up farmers with subsidies and businessmen with grants, and that the public should never provide funds to build more dams (which primarily benefit farmers) on public lands. We must stop socialism to make America great again!
     Sadly, one of Mr. Vanderhoof's points is already moot: Water diversions are killing off an offending species of fish—only one delta smelt was found in the wild in a recent scientific survey. I'm sure Mr. Vanderhoof is aware that most of the rivers in the Valley are dead, mainly because the government built numerous dams, and eighty percent of the water is diverted to the farmers. Someone should explain to Mr. Vanderhoof that you can't kill a fish (or a whole species) more than once.
     The government, if Hillary is elected, will even bully our gentle pastors. How is this possible? Mr. Vanderhoff doesn't say, possibly because the separation of church and state effectively keeps religion and government away from each other most of the time. Is this Mr. Vanderhoof's code for the possibility that the "bully" government might allow gay marriage and keep Roe v. Wade, even though this might offend some pastors? Or is he concerned that the government might keep some fanatic pro-lifer with Judeo-Christian beliefs from blowing up Planned Parenthood? Unfortunately, Mr. Vanderhoof's language is incendiary but lacks specificity.

San Joaquin River Gorge: Temperance Flat Dam Inundation Area

     Do industry or business or religion ever intrude into our lives? Wasn't it the unrestrained greed allowed by deregulation that resulted in the recent economic meltdown, which has made it harder for just about all of us? In Mr. Vanderhoof's world, do businessmen ever rip people off or exploit them? Do pastors ever intrude into our bedrooms to tell us how we can love or what to do with our bodies? Haven't water diversions for farmers killed most of the rivers and destroyed our ecosystems? Haven't their chemicals polluted our water and air? Mr. Vanderhoof can't seem to decide whether government is a bully or a cancer: Does he ever see the need to regulate toxic chemicals that cause real cancers and other health problems?
     Mr. Vanderhoof fails to mention that the very people he wants to protect from “bully government” have often created the need for regulation through their criminality, their lack of civic responsibility, or their intrusiveness in our lives. He also fails to mention that socialism has propped up many of these same people in different ways, including subsidies and grants. I hope voters can see through Mr. Vanderhoof''s deceptive, byzantine code and vote for Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, a man who has truly revealed himself to be a bully.

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