The Rural Life: Rewiring your brain

Sometimes in life, things intersect in a way that makes you sit up and take notice. This recently happened to me. It started with some spectacular nature programs — the BBC series available on Netflix. My husband and I love them, and have so far zoomed through “Life,” “Life on Earth,” “Nature’s Great Events” and more. We […]

California Rambling: Trick or Treat

I can’t remember us ever pulling a trick if we didn’t get a treat when we were kids. I don’t suppose that happens much today, either. Kids just go to the next house when a neighbor runs out of candy or turns off the lights. Some things about Halloween never change, though much has. Halloween used […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Are you a saint or a sourpuss?

In his book “Joy Is My Compass,” Alan Cohen writes, “The difference between a saint and a sourpuss is that the sourpuss sees his daily interactions as a nuisance, while the saint finds a continuous stream of opportunities to celebrate. One finds intruders, the other angels. At any given moment we have the power to […]

It’s about time

It’s not easy to invest in El Dorado County. Traffic impact mitigation fees, regulations (some in and some out of the county’s control), local opposition to growth and a permitting process that, at times, can test anyone’s patience don’t exactly shout, “Yes, bring your new commercial development here!” The Mountain Democrat would like to give developer Leonard […]

The Weekly Daley: Some stuff you just can’t make up

Ben Carson thinks the U.S. Department of Education should “monitor” radical language and thought on college campuses. And if found, that campus should lose all federal funding. What a great idea. Keep our young people on the straight and narrow, untroubled by conflicting philosophies, super buttoned-down and headed for Wall Street with a Bible under […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: Do Republicans eat their young?

This is a rhetorical question but I have to ask: Do Republicans eat their young? Of course they don’t; they are generally nice people who really care about kids and puppies. But of late they have begun to eat their elders. With the rise of the Tea Party a new dynamic has infused the politics […]

My Turn: Déjà vu all over again

Back in the 1980s, when I lived in Crown Village, we learned that apartments were planned for the southwest corner of Francisco Drive and El Dorado Hills Boulevard. Having seen the influx of apartments in Cameron Park, many of us in El Dorado Hills did not want that to happen here. A successful grassroots effort […]

Krauthammer: Game over

I repeat: Unless she’s indicted, Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. I wrote that six weeks ago, amid fevered dreams of a Clinton collapse and a Joe Biden rescue. That those were a mirage is all the more obvious after Tuesday’s debate. The reason, then as now, is simple: Clinton has no competition. She’s […]

The Balancing Act: Another survey

County executives are at it again. After the Board of Supervisors and chief administrative officer spent about $200,000 last year on a witch hunt and other diversionary tactics that pulled people away from the county’s real problems, now the board has hired another consultant, Laree Kiely, founder of the Kiely group, for another study. The contract must […]

Belltower: A famous flying boat and remote-control lawn rebates

I always enjoy reading Larry Weitzman’s writeup of the Capital Airshow. He always takes great photos as well. This year his mention of the C-5 Super Galaxy, with its wingspan of 223 feet and length of 247 feet, caught my attention. Before visiting my aunt and cousins in Portland, Ore., we stayed overnight in McMinnville […]

The Weekly Daley: A mostly, actual debate

The odds-makers probably got it pretty close to right-on regarding the Democratic debate Tuesday night. Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb, seeming somewhat muddled, didn’t do very well — not horrible, just not very well. Martin O’Malley came out a little weak but gained traction throughout. He did repeat the mantra of having clean electricity by the year […]

Head-shaking headlines

Newspaper readers across the country have undoubtedly been shaking their heads at recent headlines — record breaking murder rates in Chicago, Middle Eastern violence and presidential election fodder have dominated above the fold. All those news topics, while worthy of editorial space, will have to wait. The Mountain Democrat would like to address some if its […]

Something to think about: The Sweetest Day

The Sweetest Day has been on pre-printed Hallmark calendars for years. Until this August, I had no idea what it was supposed to celebrate or why such a holiday made it to Hallmark calendars when other national days like National Pizza Day, Feb. 9, or National Tequila Day, July 24, did not. After researching this […]

My Turn: Allow teachers to protect their students and themselves

One of the revelations that surfaced from the Umpqua Community College Massacre, the worst in Oregon history, was that the deranged gunman, (I join others in refusing to name the killer giving him desired publicity) carried enough rounds of ammunition to kill dozens more. What stopped him? He decided to kill himself when confronted with […]

Charles Krauthammer: Another massacre, another charade

There’s the cycle of poverty. There’s the cycle of violence. And then there’s the cycle of gun talk. It starts with a mass shooting. Gun-control advocates blame the deaths on gun-control opponents, who argue, in turn, that none of the proposed restrictions would have had any effect on the incident in question. The debate goes […]

My Turn: Tracking America’s suicide

Amidst a plethora of sensational news reports elbowing each other to seize first place in America’s national consciousness, there is a story that has lurked beneath media radar that teaches us much more about the status of our country than school shootings, Russian bombings in Syria, Iranian perfidy, Hillary Clinton’s makeover attempts, and Republican candidates’ […]

My Turn: 17th Amendment and big money in politics

It’s a common refrain these days; “We need to get special interests and big money out of politics!” But of course no one offers solutions that don’t obviously violate the First Amendment. Despite what some may feel, Citizens United was actually a good legal decision for a problem that was never meant to occur on […]

John Stossel: Escaping tyranny

North Korea is called the “worst place on earth” for good reason. Thousands of people are tortured. Some North Koreans eat rodents to try to survive, and many starve anyway. In winter, they freeze. No one but the dictator has any true freedom, and no one is allowed to leave. One person who understands that […]

The Rural Life: We is us?

Much has been said about the messages of Pope Francis during his recent visit here. Liberals feel validated by his defense of immigration and his concerns over climate change. Conservatives are gratified by his emphasis on the traditional family and the sanctity of life at every stage. For me, what lingers is what has inspired […]

California Rambling: Auto Shop

The slang used by teenagers 50 years ago mostly described relationships, fashion, insults and cars. Today’s socially connected teenagers have lots of words about relationships, but very few about cars. I discovered this when compiling a list of teen slang (then and now) for my high school reunion. I couldn’t find a single word now […]

The Weekly Daley: Let’s make an ‘art of the deal’

As happens occasionally, I have come into possession of a plain brown envelope and its contents come straight from the NSA, you know the National Security Agency, the people who record all our phone calls and stuff. The following is a recorded phone call between two well-known American politicians who thought they were using “secure phones” […]

Do the Democrats Have Debate Envy?

We know it seems way early, but people are talking presidential politics like it’s January 2016 rather than early fall 2015. Walk through a crowded room and it’s almost impossible not to hear the names Fiorina, Carson, Bush, Trump, Cruz or Walker waft by. And the latest Elon University poll of North Carolina voters finds […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Happiness comes from within

Diane Dreher’s book “The Tao of Inner Peace” has the following quote: “The way of peace begins with self-acceptance. To seek peace outside is to leave it behind. “Because of the Taoist principle of oneness, when we accept ourselves we naturally accept others. Without self-acceptance, people see life as a constant struggle, making war on […]

My Turn: The Sierra Club has become a front group for its donors’ financial interests

One of America’s most respected environmental nonprofits has traded in one kind of green for another. Some of the Sierra Club’s board members and most important donors have put the almighty dollar before Mother Earth by encouraging the organization to engage in activities that bolster their bottom line. In a new report, the Energy & […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: Brickbats and Trolls

It is not surprising that those who write to pick a bone with me outnumber those who agree with me by a wide margin. If I were to only see the online posts and letters to the editor I would feel like a blue dot in a sea of red. Yet people continually ask me […]

Charles Krauthammer: Obama’s Syria debacle

“Russia hits Assad’s foes, angering U.S.” — Headline, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1 If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin. Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the […]

The Balancing Act: Extortion under the color of law

In February of this year I wrote a column entitled “More County Mischief” wherein I explained the failure of the county to follow the The Mitigation Fee Act, which was codified in the California Government Code as sections 66000-66008. It had two purposes: one of which was to restrain local agencies from imposing development fees […]

Something to think about: More than love

October is one of my favorite months and this year it’s a little more special since my friend Noel is getting married today. The dress is fitted and the flowers prepared. The sheepdog, Finn, is groomed and his tux as Best Dog is waiting for him. Guests have made it into town. Tonight is the […]

The cult of victims

The world has enough real problems without declaring everyone a “victim.” Bill Clinton says Hillary is a victim of a right-wing conspiracy. Lindsay Lohan, when jailed for driving drunk and breaking parole, says she’s a victim of cruel and unusual punishment. Michael Sam says his NFL career would have gone better had he not come […]

Belltower: The Southeast Alaska way of life

Ships and my wife don’t get along. She says she can get seasick standing on a dock. When we visited my cousin Kathy, who is two days older than I, we learned about Bonine, which is an anti-seasick pill that won’t make you sleepy like Dramamine. Her husband Rob praised it as a cure for […]

Mark Shields: Has Anybody Thanked John Boehner?

Has anybody bothered to thank House Speaker John Boehner for Pope Francis’ even coming to the United States? Let history note that it was Boehner, as a lowly second-term member of the House minority, who in 1994 organized a petition to then-House Speaker Tom Foley requesting that Pope John Paul II be invited to address […]

U.S. economic-freedom ranking slips

The release of an index measuring world economic freedom should be cause for celebration in America. After all, freedom is what we’re all about, right? But the results of the Fraser Institute’s latest Economic Freedom of the World report show the United States continuing a troubling decline in economic freedom. The latest data, for 2013, […]

The weekly Daley: Just another day in politics

Republican from Utah, Jason Chaffetz wept openly during the House of Representatives hearings on Planned Parenthood earlier this week. If the $500 million that is spent on Planned Parenthood every year had been spent on cancer research, his father and mother might be alive today, he said. His anguish appeared to be sincere and from […]

My Turn: Rural Tourism is Essential to California’s Economic Future

Tourism is everyone’s business in California. As the nation’s largest tourism economy, the industry is a major pillar of California’s success with more than $117.5 billion in direct travel spending last year. This supports more than 1 million jobs and generates nearly $9.4 billion in state and local tax revenues. Millions of travelers explore California’s […]

Charles Krauthammer: Double suicide: the presidential campaign of 2015

Meanwhile, on the Democrats’ side: • They are running a presidential campaign decrying wage stagnation, income inequality and widespread economic malaise — as if they’ve not been in office for the past seven years. • Their leading presidential candidate is 27 points underwater on the question of honesty and is under FBI investigation for possible mishandling of […]

Publisher’s Ink: Newspaper editors of special note

Time marches on and after 164 years the Mountain Democrat named Noel Stack its newest editor. She becomes the 20th person in our history to hold that title. Having worked with Noel these past six years, I’ve come to appreciate her talents and newsroom savvy. I selected her knowing she’ll move our newsroom forward in […]

California Ramblings: Outdoor World

Why would anyone need camouflage underwear? I asked myself that as I stood surrounded by displays draped with camouflage shirts, pants, coveralls, jackets, long johns, knit caps, T-shirts, sweaters, ghillie suits, vests, gloves and hats in the hunting apparel department of Bass Pro Shops’ new Outdoor World in Rocklin. Clearly, Johnny Morris knows something about […]

John Stossel: Government here to help

Government wants you to think it helps you at every turn. Every time you make a decision, a purchase, government wants to be there, looking essential. But it’s a trick. Most government “help” creates new problems. Students once went to private banks to get college loans. Banks, since they had their own money on the […]

My Turn: Meeting the aquatic invasive species challenge at Tahoe

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are one of the most serious challenges facing Lake Tahoe. They continuously threaten to damage its unique environment and famed water clarity and degrade the world-class recreational experiences residents and millions of visitors enjoy each year. Fortunately, Tahoe is a national leader in fighting AIS, with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: A stroke can create a good student

Shortly after my stroke occurred on Nov. 20 of last year, I realized I was suddenly a different person physically. The right side of my body was weak and numb. An electrical tingle went from my wrist to my ankle 24 hours a day. Also, my right arm and leg felt like they were wrapped in […]

The Weekly Daley: Dr. Carson’s litmus test

Mahometans, Hindoos and infidels, oh my! One of the Right’s new darlings du jour is Dr. Ben Carson. For supposedly being some kind of world-class pediatric neurosurgeon, the guy is pathologically challenged when it comes to having anything approaching a 21st century brain. Sure, he was born in the 20th century, and he has persevered, […]

Voters want truth from all candidates

A year from now, the presidential campaign will be in full swing, headed down the home stretch toward Election Day. And what will that final approach look like? At this point, most people still don’t expect current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, the flamboyant billionaire and reality TV star, to be the Republican nominee. On the […]

My Turn: Going back to school with ease

Fall has arrived and another school year is under way. Amid the excitement there’s often a little stress too, which can apply as much to parents as kids, especially in the case of families who need to keep their kids gluten-free. I remember when our son was diagnosed as having a gluten sensitivity. I was not surprised […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: Obama’s Legacy

From the perspective of a historian it is much too soon to opine on Obama’s legacy. Recently this subject came up in a discussion with a learned friend. While we agreed that it was too soon to memorialize Mr. Obama, we began to recount his successes, the burdens he carried and the obstacles he overcame. […]

Charles Krauthammer: Putin’s gambit, Obama’s puzzlement

Once again, President Obama and his foreign policy team are stumped. Why is Vladimir Putin pouring troops and weaponry into Syria? After all, as Secretary of State John Kerry has thrice told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, it is only making things worse. But worse for whom? For the additional thousands of civilians who will […]