Nunes and water – where does the rain come from?

nunes_congress_071217

On Wednesday, July 12, our Congressman Devin Nunes took to the floor of the House of Representatives and made a fool of himself (again – remember Russia, anyone?) (and of us, for electing him to office, repeatedly).  Here’s the video.

Nunes was speaking in favor of House Resolution 23, the GROW Act (it passed the House). In it, he chastises the left and environmentalists for letting 92% of water entering the Delta flow out into the Pacific Ocean. An ocean which, he says three times, is allegedly rising due to global warming. In his comments, perhaps meant as sarcasm (it’s not clear whether he was being sarcastic or if he actually believes this), he wonders why anyone would want to add water to already rising seas. At this point, we could devote time to explaining the hydrological cycle to Mr. Nunes, and how all that water had to come from the Pacific Ocean to begin with, before any of it “flushed” back out past the Golden Gate bridge. That, however, is for another time. Perhaps the Congressman’s 6th grade science teacher can send him a reminder.

During his time speaking to a nearly empty House Chamber (hear the echo in the video? but, in his defense, most speeches made before the House are to a near-empty chamber), he held up a photograph of a woman scooping water out of a tank on her patio, because her home has no water. Nunes doesn’t explain how this bill will help her, but chastises the left, as if it’s somehow their fault. He does not credit the picture, which is from this article, originally by Fresno Bee writer Andrea Castillo, which appeared July 30, 2015, at NewsDeeply. He also fails to explain how this project will help her, since her problem is due to dropping water tables under her home in East Porterville. Those water tables are recharged by rain and the Tule River. Delta water does not make it’s way to East Porterville, and increased storage in other parts of California will not raise the aquifer under her home. As far as I can tell, he simply found a poignant image unrelated to the bill before the House, to create a touching photo op.

In his comments, Nunes makes reference to “supposedly severe drought”, and then realizing he should amend that, says “and it was, no question, a severe drought, but…” and then made his comments about letting 46 million acre feet of water be “flushed” out into the ocean. An ocean that is rising due to global warming. He wants to know why anyone would want that. I suppose we should give credit where credit is due, and acknowledge that Nunes has finally come around to accepting that the drought was (is – we’re not certain that our very wet season this year means it’s over) real, and not a machination of evil Democrats in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Progress, even if only baby steps.

I don’t know if more storage is the solution to water shortages or not. I do know that ever-increasing farming of what is essentially a desert has to take into consideration the inherent difficulties in balancing the need for irrigation with the need to protect and preserve delicate ecosystems throughout the state. One doesn’t get to ignore the other, and users have to recognize the needs of all those effected by both drought and abundance.

In an email sent out by Congressman Nunes on Friday, he continued his attacks on environmentalists and Governor Brown. Here’s that email:

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, in an attempt to convince California lawmakers to renew the state’s dysfunctionalcap and trade program, Governor Jerry Brown called climate change “a threat to human existence.” He instructed lawmakers that their vote on cap and trade would be “the most important vote of your life” and warned of a future “horrible situation that you’re going to see mass migrations, vector diseases, forest fires, [and] Southern California burning up.”

Since the “environmentalists” are forcing California to dump millions of acre-feet of water into the ocean supposedly to benefit the smelt, a three-inch baitfish, I have to wonder whether some of this water might be useful for putting out Brown’s cataclysmic fires.  

You may be curious what you can do to avoid such a terrible fate. Conveniently, some academics published an article this week recommending four measures people can take to avoid the global warming apocalypse: have less kids, don’t drive cars, don’t fly on planes, and don’t eat meat.

As environmental extremists continue subjecting us to their absurd doomsday predictions and their preposterous “solutions,” I’m going to have a bite of a gift sent to my office by Rep. David Valadao: smelt-themed cupcakes.”

Included in the email was a picture of cupcakes, with gummy fish garnished on top of the frosting.

Why the “scare quotes” around environmentalists? Are people who value naturally operating ecosystems, and yes, even a 3″ fish, scary to Nunes? Perhaps. An educated constituency is dangerous for many Republicans.

While Nunes has (apparently) accepted the idea of a drought, he hasn’t accepted the overwhelming consensus that climate change is real, and driven by human activity. Anyone who believes in the science is, in his mind, an “environmental extremist”.  One baby step forward, but lost in the rearward march of right-wing denial.

We really need to begin considering alternatives to Devin Nunes as our representative. He’s not serving the needs of his constituents, and it’s time to elect someone who will. He’s up for re-election in 2018. Let’s get some fresh perspectives to represent the 22nd District.

 

Image credit: Screen capture of CSPAN via YouTube, as posted by Representative Devin Nunes

Nunes overruled in House vote

Devin_Nunes,_official

Yesterday, Devin Nunes voted “AYE” on the Hartzler Amendment, a part of the National Defense Authorization Act.  According to The HillThe amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was filed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). It would make it so “funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to provide medical treatment (other than mental health treatment) related to gender transition to a person entitled to medical care.”  This would have had the effect of removing  access to existing medical treatments for a specific group of military personnel and their dependents.

The amendment failed, with a vote of 209 in favor to 214 opposed (with 10 not voting).

Nunes voted in favor of this spiteful amendment, but fortunately cooler heads prevailed (who would have thought we’d be saying that about THIS Congress??) and overruled him. Transgender service personnel will continue to receive the medical care they and their dependents need and deserve.

Locally, The Source LGBT+ Center is available with support and resources for transgender individuals and their families and friends.  The Source is open Tuesday through Friday, 3pm to 6pm at 208 W. Main, Suite B (downstairs), Visalia. (The Montgomery Square building)

Phone number 559-429-4277

Web page http://thesourcelgbt.org

Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thesourcelgbt

If you want to call Nunes’ office to express your disappointment in his vote, the Visalia number is 559-733-3861

Image: United States House of Representatives

Pride Visalia 2017 – Historic Site, Historic Event

ruben_perez

In 1852, white settlers* built a small fort along the banks of a creek, and started the community that would become Visalia. Used during the Civil War by Union soldiers, dispatched to keep southern sympathizers in Tulare County ‘under control’, the fort eventually faded from the community.  At some point, the grounds became a lumberyard, which served the city and surrounding region for decades. Today, the property is part of the Arts Consortium, and it recently hosted another historic event.

Visalia’s first Prides were held a long time ago, and the local LGBT community has celebrated many events, on and off, over the years. You may have heard that this was the “first” Pride in Visalia, but what is meant is this was the first pride festival hosted by The Source LGBT+ Center. It was also probably the first Pride event to be noticed by the wider community, and was certainly the largest ever held here.

On June 24th, 2,000 people attended Pride Visalia. Two local television stations covered the event, and the Visalia Times Delta printed articles and posted pictures and videos from the festival online. In total, local print media carried four articles about the festival. Local radio stations interviewed the organizers, and the nation’s leading LGBT magazine, The Advocate, posted pictures from Saturday’s event on their website (shared on Facebook over 2,000 times). Facebook tells us that overall, posts about Pride Visalia reached 100,000 people.  Two billboards, one on 99 near Pixley and one in Tulare, heralded the festival to thousands of passerbys.

Five live bands and DJs entertained the crowd. Forty vendors and organizations set up, with nine options for food on site. Nobody went hungry or thirsty, or lacked for information on community resources. Government agencies, local churches, and various non-profits and retail vendors tabled at the event.

Two sets of Drag Queens (and Kings!) entertained the crowds, and the kids got a big kick out of those family-friendly shows. Check out the Visalia Times Delta’s pictures here for a look at the fun.

County Supervisor Amy Shuklian was selected as one of two Grand Marshals for the festival. The award states “Pride Visalia Grand Marshal In Appreciation for Outstanding and Dedicated Service to our LGBT+ Community June 24, 2017”.  I (Jim Reeves) was honored to be selected as the other Grand Marshal. The Source LGBT+ Center’s Executive Director Brian Poth presented the awards at the main stage.

Also held during the festival was a wedding. (News media called it a “gay wedding”, but I just call it “a wedding”) A couple who have been together 14 year tied the knot, with their two young daughters doing duty as flower girls and ring bearers.

Overall, a fantastic turnout, both by the community and local organizations. Corporate sponsors made it possible to bring a top-quality event to Visalia. Between them and the kind donations of cash and effort by so many, the festival was a huge success. And not a single incident requiring security or police response was reported.

Next year Pride Visalia 2018 promises to be even bigger and better!

 

* one wonders what the native Yokuts thought of the newcomers and their strange structure. 

No Room At The Inn

No-Vacancy

Here’s a conundrum… what do you do when you have a big political event coming up that lasts a couple of days? It’s in a foreign country, there’s a pretty decent lead time to work out the details, and you have to plan for a large entourage. This is a big deal, so you can’t have things go wrong… after all, you represent the President of the United States! There will be leaders from the top twenty countries in the world (hence the name, G20), and you represent number one. Things have to be perfect. What do you do?

Well, apparently, if you’re the Trump team, you forget to book hotel rooms in Hamburg.

Yeah. The Trump team waited too long to book rooms for the American delegation and their support staff.

I can just imagine the panic that must have taken hold when the people charged with setting things up started to see the “no vacancy” returns on Trivago and Hotels.com*. Fortunately, the city of Hamburg stepped in to rescue the hapless Americans, and it appears the delegation will be staying at the Senate guest house. Officials are not admitting it, but Buzzfeed reports sources will confirm only that “a summit delegation” is staying there. At least this way the leader of the free world won’t have to stay in Berlin and chopper in first thing in the morning.  (or maybe she will. Angela Merkel is heir apparent to that title since Trump is unwilling, or more correctly- unable, to fill those shoes)

This is what happens when you don’t staff government offices.  The Trump team has yet to fill literally hundreds of jobs that became vacant on January 20. It’s clear “hotel booker” must be on that list.

I shudder to think what may come out of this meeting. The political pros from around the world are going to clean Trump’s clock, and Putin holds the key to wind it.  We’re rewarding him for meddling in our elections, hacking our computers, and letting him off for invasions by letting him come to the G20 meeting at all, and then granting him a one-on-one meeting with the President of the United States. Trump may think he is a world-class negotiator, but hotel real estate deals are several orders of magnitude below this level of discourse. He has no clue, and he’s not the kind of a man that would even realize it. He’ll walk out of there telling us he ‘won, won,won’, but the only real winner here will be Putin.

I think we owe someone in Hamburg a big favor. It will be unfortunate if their only reward is a free night in a Trump hotel somewhere.

I picked those at random. I don’t actually think the US government uses such services and I’m not endorsing either, they just popped into my head first.

 

2A supporters stung by shooting in Alexandria

00000randpaul

The right wing in this country has a problem. The very thing they’ve been hyping (urging, threatening, promising, hoping for) has finally happened. A man used a gun to strike out against government tyranny. What do they do now,  as reality sinks in?  From preliminary reports, it looks like it was someone from the left who decided the government had gone too far, and acted out Paul’s Tweet. The 2A crowd has, for years (especially the last eight), been threatening to take up arms against a government they don’t like. Since Sarah Palin and Donald Trump’s threats that “second amendment people” might act to change the results of elections, and of the “second amendment remedies” suggested by Sharon Angle, the rhetoric of violence has floated around the right-wing echo chamber for years, always prodded along by Fox, the NRA, and the gun lobby. Rand Paul and people like him simply never thought THEY would be the targets.

This creates quite the conundrum for those caressing their AR-15s as they keep an eye out for the black helicopters. How could it be that a liberal snowflake was the one that actually carried out the mission they’ve been preparing for all these years? He can’t do that! Didn’t he know that’s their gig?

If this wasn’t such a tragic incident, it might be funny. Especially the way some on the far right are twisting themselves into pretzels to blame the attack on President Obama.  Just how that’s supposed to work, I don’t know. Trying to make sense of right-wing-gun-nut “thinking” will just cause a migraine, so best not to try.

So now we wait for the FBI and the Capitol Police to complete their investigations. Cable news will fill hundreds of hours of air time with promises not to speculate before the facts are in, as they go right ahead and speculate anyway.

Some will engage in gallows humor, reporting “Congratulations, USA! It’s been “0” days since your last mass shooting!” (already seen on Twitter)

The fact that another mass shooting occurred only hours later in San Francisco will get some air time, but not much.

Other western nations will again wonder just what in the hell is going on in America? Why do we continue to allow these massacres to happen? I suppose we should remind them that twenty first graders were not too many to sacrifice to “shall not be infringed”, so why would anyone expect that anything will ever change?

Will this incident create an environment where those that have long prodded the hornet’s nest will tone down their rhetoric? Especially since the first sting was to their own kin? I suspect not, but we can hope. They will most likely continue to spout their wackery, and blame Hillary or Obama or the UN or the New World Order or…  whatever comes next down the pike from Fox, Breitbart, and Bannon.

Of course I condemn the violence, and hope those injured make a rapid and complete recovery. Kudos to the security team that jumped into action to protect the assembled crowd, their actions no doubt limited the carnage that might otherwise have ensued.

I also send my appreciation to the dispatchers, policemen, firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders who leapt into action with the first panicked 9-1-1 calls. Their actions to protect and serve will always be under-reported, and under-appreciated.

Image: Senator Rand Paul’s Twitter feed.

 

One year after Orlando – the massacre at Pulse still reverberates

orlando_vigil_01

It’s only been a year. The deadliest mass shooting in US history was also the largest single attack against LGBT Americans, surpassing the arson fire at New Orlean’s UpStairs Lounge (which killed 32 patrons on June 24, 1973).  Orlando’s Pulse nightclub was holding Latin Night when terror struck. Forty nine died, many from the Puerto Rican community surrounding Orlando. Word began spreading quickly after news of the attack broke. The LGBT community, like the nation at large, was in shock.

Here in Visalia, The Source LGBT+ Center, barely open for a month, organized a vigil within a few hours. Hundreds attended Sunday evening, filling the sidewalk and spilling onto Main Street. Leaders of several faith traditions and churches from the area led the crowd in somber remembrance, prayer, and a time of silence. The Visalia Times Delta asked for some words on the day, and I submitted this article: Fear Will Not Win.

In the year since, we’ve tried to move on, remembering Pulse, refusing to give in to fear, and working even more intensely to protect and serve our community.

In the days following the attack, we never suspected that a year later we would have to again worry about the rights and freedoms won in difficult battles being ripped away, this time by our own government. An administration hostile to our community has taken power in Washington, D.C., and in a few short months has tried to undo as much of the progress we’ve made as they can.  A year after Orlando, we’ve felt compelled to change some of our annual Pride Parades to Resist Marches.

A year after Orlando, and almost five years after Sandy Hook, we still have not addressed the issue of easy access to weapons of mass destruction by anyone with the money to purchase them. Congress even made it easier for individuals with mental health problems to buy guns. The body count, even when it includes 20 first graders, or 49 young adults at a nightclub, is not yet high enough.

The Pulse Nightclub will remain a footnote in history to most, but it will remain in our memories as a stark reminder that no matter how much progress we’ve made, the hatred held by some can still rise up and kill. Sometimes it’s a religious or political fanatic with a gun, and sometimes it’s a church with a doctrine of hatred against the LGBT community preached from the pulpit.

We’ll remember The Pulse today. We’ll always hold it in our thoughts. We’ll always remember that the LGBT+ community has come a long way, but still has far to go. The horror of that night in Orlando will always be with us, but it will not be allowed to cower us, slow us, or diminish our resolve.

One year ago. Today. Fear will not win.

Image: The Source LGBT+ Center leads a candle light vigil on Visalia’s Main Street, June 12, 2016.

Supervisor Shuklian honors LGBT+ Center

bos_060617_crop

Amy Shuklian, representing District Three on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, made a presentation at Tuesday’s Board meeting to recognize the first anniversary of The Source LGBT+ Center. During the “Supervisor’s Matters” segment, she presented a proclamation honoring the center and it’s accomplishments.

In one year of operation, The Source has welcomed over 2,000 walk-in visitors to the center, provided training and referrals to interested individuals, organizations, and governmental bodies. Experiencing ever increasing demands for it’s services, the center recently doubled it’s space at it’s downtown Visalia location. In a recent 24 hour national fundraising campaign, The Source LGBT+ Center placed second in a group of 95 similarly sized LGBT groups, winning an additional $5,000 over and above the more than $12,000 raised by local donors. Brian Poth, Executive Director, thanked Supervisor Shuklian for her support of the Center and it’s mission, noted the widespread support in the community for it’s mission and efforts, and invited the entire Board of Supervisors to attend the upcoming Pride Visalia, to be hosted by The Source LGBT+ Center on June 24.

Here is the text of the proclamation, signed by Supervisor Shuklian:
RECOGNIZING THE SOURCE LGBT+ CENTER ON ITS ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

WHEREAS, the Source is the only LGBT center in Tulare County and is celebrating its one year anniversary; and

WHEREAS, it has served thousands of Tulare County residents by providing resources,recommendations, referrals, and education services to citizens and organizations; and

WHEREAS, the SOURCE LGBT+ Center has partnered with high school and college GSAs to deliver such resources and has also provided training to public agencies such as the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office; and

WHEREAS, since its inception the center has held community meetings, provided training sessions to local government agencies to educate them on how they can better serve the LGBT community, tabled at numerous public events, and welcomed well over a thousand visitors to the downtown Visalia center; and

WHEREAS, driven by demand for its services, the SOURCE LGBT+ Center recently doubled its community center’s size.

It is an honor to recognize the SOURCE LGBT+ Center on its one year anniversary and recognize the month of June 2017 as LGBT Pride month.

June 6, 2017
Amy Shuklian, District Three

Image: Brian Poth, left, Executive Director, The Source LGBT+ Center; Amy Shuklian, Supervisor District Three; Nick Vargas, Board President The Source LGBT+ Center;  June 6, 2017  taken at the Tulare County Board of Supervisor’s Chambers, Visalia