Symbols of America

“We’re not talking about calling in the guys from ‘Duck Dynasty.’”

From the days of our Founding Fathers, the bald eagle has symbolized America: bold, faithful, strong and determined. The Second Continental Congress in 1782 declared the Bald Eagle as the United States’ national symbol.

Over time, though, hunting, habitat destruction and the pesticide DDT brought the majestic bird to near extinction. By the mid 1960s fewer than five-hundred nesting pairs remained in the U.S. The bird was officially declared an endangered species in 1967. Conservation efforts were so successful that it was taken off the endangered list in 2007.

Benjamin Franklin did not share his colleagues’ admiration for the national bird.

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The Alexander Hamilton Irony Award

The lobbying and trade group National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) celebrated its 125th anniversary with the announcement of the Alexander Hamilton Award. The first recipient of this prestigious new award is a person who, in the NAM’s words, “Like no one in government has ever done, she has provided singular leadership and shown an unwavering commitment to modern manufacturing in America.”

The honoree is of course Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump.

Ms. Trump “embodies the collaborative spirit and relentless drive needed to solve manufacturers’ most pressing challenge,” demonstrated by her Ivanka Trump brand of apparel and fashion accessories. The Ivanka Trump fashion brand went out of business in July 2018, despite of being exempted from China tariffs. The award winner’s namesake clothing and accessories were manufactured exclusively by factories in Bangladesh, Indonesia and China.

You can’t make up this stuff.

The Changing Agricultural Economy

“This is amazing. I’m not afraid to touch the products without gloves.”

The 2019 wine grape harvest has been tabulated. The total value of the crop from the North Coast of California was down fifteen percent from the previous year. (Super-prestigious Napa Valley grapes did manage a four-percent price-per-ton increase.) California wineries crushed ten percent less tonnage than in 2018. That means 250,000 tons were left unpicked. Industry experts calculate that 50,000 acres need to come out of production for supply and demand to meet.

So what does this have to do with marijuana? you may ask. A lot if you’re a vineyard or winery worker.

Premium wine grapes thrive in the coastal climates of California: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. So does marijuana. Cannabis growers are poaching workers from wineries by using the underhanded methods of paying more — including health care and paid sick days — and providing better working conditions.

One marijuana grower put it thusly: “A lot of times in agriculture, the employees get used like a tool. ‘Oh, we’ve got to harvest so let’s bring in 20 people, have them work 10 hours a day and don’t come back tomorrow.’ They don’t care what your name is or how you get your groceries next week.”

That and less pesticide. Wine’s dirty secret is the amount of chemicals used in the vineyards. Cannabis, not so much.

Does this mean that eventually marijuana fields will be hip places to host wedding extravaganzas?

Internal Combustion Combusted?

Twenty-three states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the EPA’s revocation of California’s right to set its own automobile emission standards. The federal government is also fighting California over the state’s agreement with four auto manufacturers for more efficient mileage standards than required by the current administration’s recently-rolled back standards. The Justice Department, though, has just dropped its purported anti-trust investigation. (It’s a core tenet of the Republican Party that the federal government should be limited in its oversight of matters that can be handled by state governments… except when the Republican Party doesn’t like what a state government is doing. Then they want feds to take control. The same applies in Republican-controlled states if the Republicans don’t like what local governments are doing.)

This may soon be just academic, however.

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Rosenwald Schools

In the first part of the twentieth century, with Jim Crow in full effect in southern states, before there was any pretense of the equal in “separate but equal,” it was up to African-American communities to take on the responsibility of educating their children. (In the North, there was a pretense.) A half-century earlier, custom and law prohibited teaching slaves to read and write. Taxpayer funding for segregated public schools in the South mostly went to white kids; white schools received more than five times the per-student funding as black schools. (In Mississippi the ratio was thirteen to one.) African-American citizens paid taxes, but were effectively barred from voting.

A black educator and a Jewish business entrepreneur joined together to do something about it.

Mssrs Rosenwald & Washington
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Surfin’ Safari with Junior & Eric

The Beach Boys will be performing in Reno, at the Safari Club International Convention. Brian Wilson, creative genius behind the group, and long-time Beach Boy Al Jardine want their fans to know that they have no part in it. Brian tweeted, “This organization supports trophy hunting, which Both Al and I are emphatically opposed to.”

Keynote speaker at the gathering is the estimable Donald Trump Jr. Mr. Junior and his little brother Eric are noted trophy hunters. Unlike trophy wives, who are discarded when they reach a certain age, big-game trophy-hunters’ prey are killed.

Co-founder and cousin Mike Love owns the rights to the name “Beach Boys.” (Brother Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983; brother Carl succumbed to cigarettes in 1998.) Brian and Al do not perform with the touring group.

“There’s nothing we can do personally to stop the show,” Brian Wilson continued. so please join us in signing the petition at The petition reads:

“We the undersigned, pledge to stop buying or downloading all Beach Boys music, going to Beach Boys concerts, and purchasing any Beach Boys merchandise until the Beach Boys withdraw from the SCI Convention and publicly state their opposition to this sick ‘sport’ of killing animals for ‘fun.’”

Mike Love is in it for the money — and presumably the attention. He attended the inauguration of the current occupant of the White House in 2017. Love said at the time, “I understand there are so many factions and fractious things going on — the chips will fall where they may. But Donald Trump has never been anything but kind to us. We have known him for many a year. We’ve performed at some of his venues at fundraisers and so on.”