Comments by bilwil

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Posted on October 18 at 11:05 p.m.


Let me see if I can make this clearer than I've already tried to do.

You haven't read MY criticisms of The Independent's policies because, although numerous, they were not published. Do you deny that Nick Welsh promised during the News-Press "meltdown" that this paper, unlike that one, would publish all criticisms of it? Do you deny my story that not until I sent letters documenting the unfortunate history of my failed attempts to the Mayor and City Council members did The Independent then pick from their circular file one of the mildest to publish? (I have no way of knowing whether there was a direct connection between these events, but one council member called to sympathize and without my knowledge a copy of that letter appeared on my Facebook page.)

Do you understand that the only reason you are reading my criticisms now is that they appear in this forum - because they've never been allowed to appear in "Letters"?

But you are not happy to see this view, so you name me a "Troll." You would have seen it long ago had The Independent not suppressed it.

You may not care that a publication named The Independent avoids all notice of significant actions and events that reflect poorly on the political party it previously touted. I do care. And numerous criticisms of this policy are among those I've sent which have never seen the light of day - except here.

So, yes, I've taken advantage of the opening and will hope these contributions are not removed by Nick Welsh's moving hand.

As author/journalist Chris Hedges said in a recent talk, "Since I worked at the New York Times some time ago, the parameters the media allow for discussion or even reportage have consistently narrowed. They now resemble Dorothy Parker's critique of Katherine Hepburn's acting: It ''covers the range from A to B.'"

As I see it, this is what The Independent now represents, to its shame.

William Smithers

On Endorsements 2014

Posted on October 18 at 3:41 p.m.

Ms. Partridge,

If you value the reputation of the publication you head, and you would like its name to be something other than meaningless, the time has come to replace the editor with someone who would truthfully embody that name and who would restore the reputation The Independent had when the News-Press started going down in flames of journalistic irresponsibility.

You are certainly aware that, under Nick Welsh's guidance, many criticisms of the paper's policies have not been published, as was promised by him doing the aforementioned "meltdown."

You are certainly aware that your publication has ignored addressing significant actions and events that reflect badly on the political party Welsh told us to vote for: massive spying on us all as revealed by Edward Snowden; continuing of US torture practices initiated under George Bush; and very notably in my view, the editorial failure to stand up for fellow journalists who are threatened with government prosecution for not revealing sources .

If these are your policies and you are proud of them, please tell us so prominently in this publication.

If they embarrass you, as I think they should, please do something about it. Otherwise some of us have no choice but to turn away from a publication whose name,in our opinion, has become something of a joke.

William Smithers

On Endorsements 2014

Posted on October 17 at 5:36 p.m.

Yeah, dude, that's why an Independent staffer sent me a private email: "Good for you Mr. Smithers."


On Endorsements 2014

Posted on October 17 at 4:16 p.m.

Rereading The Independent's rationale for its decision re Measure P is actually a startling experience. It's as though it were written by an adolescent who has rushed through his homework.

The “real” reason for Measure P is cyclic steam injection, whose primary environmental threat is air pollution??!! And this threat has been obviated by county supervisors who've written regulation limiting its air pollution??!!

My God, even an attentive child using Google would have found reports of the contamination of an entire lake in Canada caused by the leaking wells of steam injection drilling; and would easily have discovered reports of the Chevron supervisor sucked underground and boiled to death in a Kern County steam injection drilling operation; and would have discovered the Bakersfield Californian's report of the three-day volcano of rock, oil and material resulting from a steam injection drilling that was conducted without a permit.

Even an attentive child would have mentioned acidizing as a technology dealt with in Measure P, and done simple research to find that the procedure makes significant use of hydrogen fluoride, one of the most dangerous chemicals in existence, whose very touch to the skin can, if not treated, cause death.

Even an attentive child would have taken trouble to acknowledge the known nine percent failure rate of the casings of NEW high-intensity wells in PA and TX, a rate rapidly escalating as the wells age, and would have considered how earthquakes might affect this rate in the county through which the Hayward Fault runs.

It's seems to me that the Independent's published rationale re Measure P is the result of an internal struggle between editor and other Independent personnel.

The extraordinary and peculiar naivete of the No on P rationale, combined with other experiences I've previously mentioned with editor Welsh, are leading me to suspect that something strange and untoward is happening with his character, with the way he functions, and that others on the staff know this and are uncomfortable about it.

Whether or not that is true, for some time The Independent has stopped being a publication a liberal mind can turn to find discussion, or even mention, of significant actions or events that reflect badly on the political party the publication has previously touted, not even when members of its own profession face governmental repression.

That may be the saddest part of all.

William Smithers

On Endorsements 2014

Posted on October 16 at 11:02 p.m.

Re Nick Welsh's disreputable recommendation to vote No on P:

Recently, someone mentioned here that Welsh has been “going over to the dark side,” an evaluation that hits the nail on the head for several reasons.

Welch scurrilously rigged The Independent's recent poll on this subject by labeling a “No” vote as “Keep oil companies in Santa Barbara.” Any ethical poll organization would have laughed this labeling out of the room, since a “Yes” vote would have nothing to do with eliminating current drill permits.

Further, before executing the cheap poll trick, Welch had tipped his hand by lying that fracking had never occurred in the county and never apologized for or retracted the lie. In the same column, he sneered at the success of Water Guardians' signature-gathering as having been accomplished by “unknowns” or some such appellation.

When I called Welch out for the poll trick here, I received an email from an Independent staffer: “Good for you, Mr. S. I'm glad the propaganda is not rubbing off.” So we can see there's trouble in Paradise.

From my viewpoint, however, Welch's moral slide began much earlier. During the News-Press “meltdown,” The Independent announced that, unlike its crosstown rival, it would always publish criticisms of itself. But when in recent years I sent numerous letters criticizing Welch - who had promoted Obama's election – for not mentioning any of the president's execrable actions since - spying on citizens, murder of innocents abroad, government intimidation of journalists, etc. - these were never published UNTIL in exasperation I sent a record of this behavior to Mayor and City Council members, following which one of the mildest earlier criticisms miraculously appeared online, but none since.

My attempts to reveal this history to other publications were met with silence.

In the heated discussions re Measure P, its opponents, though never referring to the vast sums Chevron and other oil companies have devoted to denigrating the proposition, always jump on any contribution made to a Measure P supporter.

I don't see them now accusing Nick Welsh of being influenced by oil company ad money as the cause of his recommending “No” on Measure P.

I don't know if he has been so influenced. I don't know in general what has happened to him, but what I think is that this guy is sliding into slime.

William Smithers

On Endorsements 2014

Posted on October 3 at 3:28 p.m.

The Measure P poll as presented is fraudulent and anyone who says it is not supports deceit.

There is plenty of opportunity here and elsewhere to discuss the implications of Measure P, which would ban in Santa Barbara County the specific high-density drilling procedures of fracking, cyclic steam injection and acidizing.

A poll presenting a “choice” that misrepresents an opinion as to a consequence as a known fact is a deceitful use of the practice. It is, in fact, a prime example of the use of a “poll” to rig the answers to support a given point of view.

This fraud is not an accident. It's Editor Nick Welsh's shady attempt to give credence to his previously stated view of Measure P when he sneered that it was brought into being by a bunch of unknowns.

Of course in that same column he stated, falsely, that fracking has never happened in Santa Barbara; Venoco has owned up to doing it in 2009-2010. And he said that fracking will never happen in Santa Barbara; preposterous on its face since no one knows the future. (A reputable journalist might report that the shale configurations in this area make the usual fracking difficult, but not impossible should a small oil company find a “sweet spot” that it thinks it could profit from drilling into.)

There might be a whistle blower inside The Independent. Re my accusation of fraud, a staffer emailed me, "Good for you, Mr. S. Glad the propaganda isn't rubbing off.”


On Poll a Fraud

Posted on August 8 at 3:26 p.m.

Having grown up in Richmond, VA in the 1930s, and so having witnessed the practices of bigotry over many years, I've been able to view the changing language bigots use to attack those who'd uphold the rights of racial, ethnic, religious and/or political minorities.

At first they called them “hippies,” “commies,” and “n-lovers.” Later it was “extremists.”

After the nation saw on TV the horrors they'd committed during the Civil Rights Movement, bigots, realizing that national opinion had turned against them, began using the phrase “politically correct,” hoping to shame as cowardly those who shared a majority view.

That - like the other ploys - not having worked too well, bigots now throw the word “racist” at (1) those who call them out for their denigration of minorities and (2) those who seek to defend and support the social, political rights and legitimate aspirations of minorities.

This time, bigots hope, they can intimidate others by calling them what they themselves are.

The instances are fully on view here.

William Smithers

On Attorney, Activists Defend Voting Rights Lawsuit

Posted on July 26 at 7:08 p.m.

It's disheartening to read of Angela Merkel's weak, pathetic objections to the repeated revelations of US spying on her personally and on her country's businesses and government hearings.

I assume she believes, even though at present Germany may be in much better shape economically than we are,.that any effective retaliation would leave Germany "shut out of the loop" by US intelligence,

I would dearly love to see Germany offer asylum to Edward Snowden; that would shove the stick exactly where it ought to go.

William Smithers

On Germany Awake, America Asleep?

Posted on July 15 at 5:51 p.m.

If you would like to know more about the methods, and effects, of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), including opinions from Cornell University's Professor of Engineering Tony Ingraffia (named "a pioneer in fracture mechanics"), Los Alamos Planning Committee Chair Chris Wrather and Santa Ynez water company president Bob Field, please take a look at this half-hour television interview:

William Smithers

On State Seeks Public Input on Oil and Gas Well Stimulation

Posted on July 12 at 7:43 p.m.

The PR onslaught of the oil and gas industries is underway and we can expect much more.

For a view by Cornell University's Professor of Engineering Tony Ingraffia, a "pioneer in fracture mechanics," and by Los Alamos Planning Committee Chair Chris Wrather and Santa Ynez Valley water company president Bob Field, please take a look at this half-hour television interview:

William Smithers

On Extremists Block Path to Energy Independence

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