Belltower: Some news items

In the Dec. 30, 2015, Mountain Democrat Publisher Richard Esposito wrote a long dissertation about technological change as part of his first message as newly installed county Chamber of Commerce president. What caught my eye was an item about the first computer housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965. I worked my way through college in the […]

A good, safe choice

The Mountain Democrat would like to congratulate Ed Manansala, Ed.D., on his new role as El Dorado County’s superintendent of schools. He’s impressed us since he joined the El Dorado County Office of Education in summer 2013. When he first spoke to the Mountain Democrat, Manansala told our reporter, “This little county office is known for […]

Something to Think About: Who owns the moon?

In November President Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, allowing asteroids and the moon to be commercially mined for minerals and materials by anyone who wishes to do so. This opens the way for entrepreneurial space miners to launch a modern-day Gold Rush … if they can come up with the capital […]

The Weekly Daley: What a start to the new year

Whew! It didn’t take long to go from Happy New Year to Crazy New Year. The president announced Tuesday that he intends to rework gun control laws through Executive Order with the probable result that only “outlaws will have guns,” if you believe all the GOP candidates. Law-abiding citizens will be subjected to expanded background checks […]

Charles Krauthammer: Space — The visionaries take over

Fractured and divided as we are, on one thing we can agree: 2015 was a miserable year. The only cheer was provided by Lincoln Chafee and the Pluto flyby (two separate phenomena), as well as one seminal aeronautical breakthrough. On Dec. 21, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, after launching 11 satellites into orbit, returned its 15-story booster […]

My Turn: EID raises salaries and your rates

On Dec. 14 the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors voted 3-2 to raise General Manager Jim Abercrombie’s salary by 10 percent ($18,000) and Chief Counsel Tom Cumpston’s by 8.7 percent ($15,000). Including pension and other benefits, Abercrombie’s new total compensation is about $298,000 per year and Cumpston’s is about $277,000. Abercrombie’s subordinate, HR manager […]

My Turn: The other side of the street

Reading “Reflections from the Sidewalk” by Marcia Brim expressing her objections to abortion, I was struck by her effort to be a calm voice, rejecting inflammatory language and respectfully listening to those who believe in a woman’s right to control her own body. While you project a calm and reasoned voice, there are other Christians […]

California Rambling: No pizza, no fries

Ski and snowboard instructors at El Dorado County’s Sierra at Tahoe are no longer emphasizing pizza, fries and floating leaves to describe skiing and boarding positions. Instead, they’re using specially sculpted slopes to teach skiing and snowboarding, intuitively. For years ski instructors would describe the triangular shape of a slice of pizza to instantly communicate […]

John Stossel: 2015

Terrorism! Crime! Deadly storms! Hillary Clinton! We reporters focus on bad news, but at year’s end, let’s remember what went right. 2015 was a better time to be alive than most any prior point in history. The rich got richer. Some people think that’s a problem, but why? Do rich people sit on their piles […]

The Rural Life: Lights out, spirits up

“Oh, no!” <groan> That’s me when the power goes out. Not quite grief-stricken, but close. One minute all is as it should be, and the next my life lurches to a halt. Usually I’m working at my computer— happy, industrious — and then, abruptly, I’m not. I’m decommissioned, stranded without the tools of my trade. Bereft. […]

The weekly Daley: Predictions of resolutions

It’s day one of the new year, the first of January, 2016. It’s a fine day to ponder the annual full slate of possible resolutions and to consider another load of predictions for the year. New Year’s resolutions have confounded me for at least the past five decades. Way back when, I might have resolved […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: New beginnings are fun

It is that time of the year when I think about what I want to add to my life or subtract from my life. Most of the time, even years have been better than odd years in my life. Feeling better physically is my ultimate goal in 2016. I am still recovering from a stroke […]

More gun laws wrong response to massacre

Almost all mass murders committed with guns prompt calls for tougher gun laws. The problem is, in pretty much every recent mass shooting in America, any newly proposed gun control law would not have stopped the crime, even if perfectly enforced. In this month’s horrific attack in San Bernardino, the guns were legally purchased, then […]

The Democratic-chronicles: It’s a wrap

Year end is upon us and it is a good time to look back on 2015. In many ways this has been an extraordinary year with major changes to our social fabric, both positive and negative. Let’s start with the positive changes: The world finally got it right as the United Nations Conference on Climate […]

My Turn: Hydrogen fallacy

Regarding the Nov. 6 Mountain Democrat article “The future is in the driveway,” some basic technicalities should be surfaced before we jump into this technology. It should be pointed out that there are some major environmental, cost and practicality issues associated with fuel cell-powered vehicles. Fuel cell vehicles require gaseous hydrogen as their energy source. […]

Charles Krauthammer: Food fads: Make mine gluten-full

When the federal government’s 1980 “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” warned about the baleful effects of saturated fats, public interest activists joined the fight and managed to persuade major food companies to switch to the shiny new alternative: trans fats. Thirty-five years later, the Food and Drug Administration finally determined that trans fats are not just […]

The balancing act: We are out of control

At the Dec. 15 El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting item 40 on the calendar corrected an error made by the CAO’s Office in the annexation by El Dorado Hills Fire, the wealthiest district in the county, of Latrobe Fire, one of the poorest. The Board of Supervisors unanimously supported the annexation on June 10, 2014, […]

Mark Shields: Democrats’ third-term blues

History tends to make Democrats nervous about the 2016 White House election. They know that since 1951 and the ratification of the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which limits a president to just two four-year terms — there have been seven elections in which the party that has held the presidency for eight […]

Belltower: Newspapers of the West and the Oregon Trail

I was shocked to learn that Hawaii’s first newspaper predates California’s first newspaper — by a lot. It was actually a student newspaper written in Hawaiian with somewhat of a slant provided by the missionaries. It was printed at the first high school west of the Rockies. The high school was called Lahainaluna and the newspaper […]

The weekly Daley: Same day, new traditions

Christmas is most of all about tradition. The most common American tradition holds that each home has a Christmas tree and colored lights and a wreath on the front door. Stockings are hung by the chimney or the faux mantel or the bookshelf or whatever stands in as a chimney. There might be any number of […]

Something to think about: Santa says …

It’s Christmas Day. Santa has already swooped down the chimney, left his gifts and flown back to the North Pole. The cookies and milk have been consumed and Santa is beginning a well-deserved vacation … and diet. This year, as he does every year, Santa left the Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries some new words — […]

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

By Francis P. Church, first published in the New York Sun in 1897. We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of the Sun: Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends […]

Charles Krauthammer: Legacy or bust

Earlier this month, Barack Obama gained the second jewel in his foreign policy triple crown: the Paris climate accord. It follows his Iran nuclear deal and awaits but the closing of Guantanamo to complete his glittering legacy. To be sure, Obama will not be submitting the climate agreement for Senate ratification. It would have no […]

Publisher’s Ink: A Merry Christmas

On Friday, Dec. 25, the Mountain Democrat will be completing its 164th year as California’s oldest newspaper. This time next year the Mountain Democrat will celebrate 165 years of publishing in El Dorado County. A short news article appearing on Dec. 21, 1895, carried a Christmas message to readers. Reading it, one gets a sense […]

My Turn: A heartfelt thank you

How does one thank the benefactor, philanthropist, working parent, youthful donor, sponsor or supporter properly? When grateful hearts search for the proper expression of thankfulness, words escape or seem inadequate. Such is the quandary of the Pollock Pines-Camino Community Center Association. Through numerous and very generous donations, the Pollock Pines-Camino Community Center Association, a 501(c)3 entity, […]

California Rambling: Christmas arrives early in the Sierra

El Dorado County’s ski areas unwrapped an early Christmas present this autumn, experiencing their best start in a decade. “So far, it has snowed at least once a week,” said John Rice, general manager at Sierra at Tahoe. Rice shares an “optimistic” outlook for this year’s ski season with Kevin Cooper at Kirkwood and Cassandra […]

John Stossel: Pretend answers on terror

I wish I were as confident as many politicians and news commentators. They know what America should do about ISIS and terrorism. Donald Trump, who says he can feel terrorism “like I feel a good location … I have an instinct for this kind of thing,” says he would “bomb the s—” out of ISIS strongholds, […]

My Turn: Police worn body cams debate continues

The use of body cameras by police departments have come to light as a new form of accountability across the nation, as a result of multiple deaths and alleged cases of excessive use of force by police. The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Mo., was one of the first incidents and sparked the black lives matter movement […]

Women in the military break the penultimate barrier

The U.S. military is now an equal opportunity employer. Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently announced that all military jobs will be open to women, even dangerous combat roles from which they were previously blocked. “They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Mr. Carter said at a Pentagon news […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Has the art of compromise died?

Compromise is a dirty word in the U.S. Congress. None of the congressional members is devoting any realistic time or energy to try to “work things out.” As soon as the president proposes a bill, the Republicans automatically oppose his recommendation. The debates are black and white. There is no gray area of conversation. When the […]

The weekly Daley: Letters from Santa

Dear CNN, Fox, NBC, et al, I don’t think I can keep Donald driving your ad campaigns for another decade. I know what he’s doing for your bottom line and I understand you’d love it to continue forever, but no-can-do. On the bright side, there’s always somebody else or something else waiting in the wings. […]

Charles Krauthammer: Why take the Trump stunt seriously?

So how exactly does this work, Donald Trump’s plan to keep America safe from Islamic terrorism by barring entry to all Muslims? He explained it Tuesday on TV. The immigration official will ask the foreigner if he’s a Muslim. “And if they said, ‘yes,’ they would not be allowed in the country?” Trump: “That’s correct.” […]

The Democratic-chronicles: A moral outrage

Although there is universal condemnation of the latest mass murder in San Bernardino, and thousands of articles and editorials extant, I am compelled to add my voice to the swelling chorus decrying America’s penchant for guns and refusal to enact any reasonable measures of safety from firearms. While I am sure that I cannot add […]

My Turn: Loved ones with dementia: preparing for the holidays

Maude sat in her comfortable chair and looked at the crowd gathered around her. Sounds of holiday music playing and children running through the home echoed in her ears. “Who are these people? Why are they in my house?” Maude became upset and anxious. People she didn’t recognize kept speaking to her and asking questions […]

Belltower: The USS Missouri

As a sailor who spent eight months on an aircraft carrier, I have always been fascinated with battleships and their big guns. During the week my daughter got married in Hawaii I visited the Arizona Memorial, of course, but I also got to tour the battleship USS Missouri. The only other battleship I had seen […]

The balancing act: Open government

Sixty-two years ago Ralph M. Brown, a legislator from Modesto and later Fifth District Court of Appeals judge, wrote the Brown Act — now called the Open Government Act. Brown in the preamble said, “The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to […]

Mark Shields: The ‘revenge’ of Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor is rightly known as an American author, storyteller and humorist who hosts the weekly radio variety show “A Prairie Home Companion,” in which he gives his fictional hometown report from Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.” Obviously, all children […]

Something to think about: The impossible dream

In these times of jump starts, when Thanksgiving is eclipsed by Christmas and Black Friday is pre-empted by Christmas sales that start on Thanksgiving as a sort of pre-Black Friday, I was heartened by the announcement from REI, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Home Goods that their stores would be closed on Thanksgiving so their employees […]

The weekly Daley: Protecting the rights of non-flying terrorists

More than 700,000 Americans are on a no-fly list or a terrorist watch list. A huge number of them, allegedly, are totally innocent and should never have been put on such lists. They have the same names or similar names of terrorists or others whom we should not let on an airplane. Or they simply […]

Total recall a total waste of time

At least seven elected El Dorado County officials face a possible recall next year — all five county supervisors, the auditor-controller and the district attorney. Four of them were re-elected or elected to their positions last year; three are up for re-election next year. What could these seven have done to inspire this proposed clean sweep? […]

U.S. behind the curve on radicalization

Evil reared itself last Wednesday morning at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. That’s when heavily armed husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik made their way into Mr. Farook’s office holiday party and unleashed terror. By the time the shooters fled, 14 were dead and another 17 wounded. It was the […]

My Turn: Meeting the transportation challenges of tomorrow

This past summer was Lake Tahoe’s busiest tourist season in recent memory. With the economy rebounding and major population growth projected for nearby metropolitan areas, this summer is also a harbinger of change. We must be prepared to meet the challenges of increased visitation in the future. Lake Tahoe has growth caps. But Reno, Sacramento, […]

My Turn: Reflections from the sidewalk, part 2

Oh, was she ever mad. A staff member who works at the El Dorado Arts Council, located next to Stem Express, had enough of protesters on the sidewalk. She tore into us as she walked up and down the picket line, snapping pictures of each one. We were ignorant fools who were harming not only StemExpress […]

California Rambling: The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas songs are heard in every shop during this season of giving. One of the most familiar is the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” It’s a cumulative song, meaning that each verse builds upon the previous verse(s). We all know the gifts given by “my true love” in the song, starting with a partridge in a pear tree […]

The Rural Life: Not even a mouse

What is the true magic of Christmas? Making us think mice are adorable. Mice are not adorable — not in your pantry, or under your sink or burrowed into that overcrowded closet in your spare room. They are, frankly, a pestilence when they want to get cozy with you. And yet … there’s hardly a […]