Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Jan. 26, 2023

Does honesty matter in the public sphere anymore?

This was a question I began pondering—actually, I should say I resumed pondering—when I came across this news story today, from PolitiFact:

As he proposed to extend the state’s ban on mandates for COVID-19 vaccines and face masks, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lobbed a flurry of criticism at President Joe Biden and “the medical establishment.”

“They were not following the science,” DeSantis said at a Jan. 17 news conference in Panama City Beach. “Almost every study now has said with these new boosters, you’re more likely to get infected with the bivalent booster.” …

The governor’s press office responded to PolitiFact’s inquiry about the claim shortly after publication, citing two articles and three studies, two of which are not yet peer-reviewed. The most recent came from the Cleveland Clinic and was discussed in an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal.

Nabin Shrestha, an infectious disease physician and one of the study’s authors, told PolitiFact that the data did not find a link between the bivalent shot and a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. The early conclusion was the opposite of what DeSantis said: The dose is, in fact, effective in preventing infection.

In other words, DeSantis lied, pure and simple. Oh, by the way, DeSantis is the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

In second is Donald Trump, someone who—according to an analysis by The Washington Post—”accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency, averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day.

And do I need to even mention George Santos?

The three examples I’ve noted here are all Republicans. Well, Democrats engage in mistruths of their own..

I realize lying and politics are hardly new bedfellows; they’ve gone hand in hand since the beginning of civilized society. But in recent years—thanks largely to the president who averaged about 21 erroneous claims a day (which doesn’t even seem possible)—it seems we’ve reached a whole new level of dishonesty. Case in point: George Santos, despite lying about virtually everything, was seated on committees by the GOP leadership.

This is truly an epidemic of dishonesty. What’s even worse is that most people don’t seem to care—and that doesn’t bode well for our world.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

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Drumming Great: The PS Walk of the Stars Honors Hal Blaine, a Wrecking Crew Member and One of the Most Recorded Drummers of All Time

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The Girl Club: Meet Melissa Dollman, a Researcher, Archivist and Film Buff Who Loves the Retro Vibe

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Meet Melissa Dollman, someone who has created a future out of preserving the past.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Jan. 26, 2023!

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January 26th, 2023

Topics touched upon this week include girdles, space lasers, dung pellets, Lauren Boebert—and much more!

More News

At long last, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to allow some gay men to donate blood. According to The Washington Post: “Gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships will no longer be forced to abstain from sex to donate blood under federal guidelines to be proposed in coming days, ending a vestige of the earliest days of the AIDS crisis. The planned relaxation of restrictions by the Food and Drug Administration follows years of pressure by blood banks, the American Medical Association and LGBT rights organizations to abandon rules some experts say are outdated, homophobic and ineffective at keeping the nation’s blood supply safe. The new approach eliminates rules that target men who have sex with men and instead focuses on sexual behaviors by people, regardless of gender, that pose a higher risk of contracting and transmitting HIV, according to an official with direct knowledge of the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment. The FDA is expected to adopt the proposal after a period of public comment.

Rob Wheeler, the CEO of the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, has announced he is “stepping down as CEO and transitioning into an advisory role with The Center through March.” Read the letter to supporters here. No reason was given for the departure.

Is there more to the price spike for eggs than the avian flu … like, say, greed? CNBC says: “Large, Grade A eggs cost $4.25 a dozen in December, on average—a 138% increase from $1.79 a year earlier, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The industry narrative has largely focused on a historic outbreak of avian influenza—which has killed tens of millions of egg-laying hens—as the primary driver of those higher prices. But Farm Action, a farmer-led advocacy group, claims the ‘real culprit’ is a ‘collusive scheme’ among major egg producers to fix and gouge prices, the organization said in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. Doing so has helped producers ‘extract egregious profits reaching as high as 40%,’ according to the letter … which asks FTC Chair Lina Khan to investigate for potential profiteering and ‘foul play.’”

CBS News reports that very little is being done in the United States to combat wage theft: “If someone steals money from their employer, they could be guilty of a serious crime. But what if an employer takes money from their employee’s paychecks? There’s a good chance they’ll get away with it, a CBS News investigation found. Whether it’s paying less than minimum wage, withholding tips or pressuring staff to work off the clock, so-called wage theft siphons billions from Americans’ paychecks. Through extensive data analysis and interviews with local, state and federal officials, along with victims of wage theft across the country, CBS News found the systems designed to protect those workers often fail. CBS found that even when they win their cases, inconsistent enforcement and a patchwork of local, state and federal regulations means many victims are never paid a dime, while others are left waiting months or even years for a resolution.”

• The Washington Post headline is mortifying: “HIV at center of latest culture war after Tennessee rejects federal funds.” The details in the story are even more mortifying. A taste: “The tensions in Tennessee began in the fall, when Republican Gov. Bill Lee voiced disapproval of two HIV grant recipients spotlighted in conservative media—a task force on transgender health issues and Planned Parenthood. The conflict escalated late last week when the state announced that after May 31, it would no longer accept any money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, prevention and surveillance of HIV. State officials said they would continue to support HIV testing and prevention but would focus on first responders, victims of human trafficking and mothers and children. In contrast, the federal program prioritizes men who have sex with men and transgender people, particularly in communities of color, who are at greatest risk of HIV, according to federal surveillance data. ‘It’s pretty hard not to think that part of the motivation is to restrict funding to groups we don’t like and don’t want to support,’ said Wayne Smith, who runs a faith-based HIV prevention program in Knoxville that will lose about $10,000 for testing each year.” Eek.

• Antisemitism will be the topic of a discussion tomorrow (Friday) night at Temple Isaiah. From the news release: “Rabbi Steven Rosenberg will lead an informative discussion about modern antisemitism this Friday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 pm at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs. The discussion, in collaboration with the international education organization StandWithUs, will focus on battling the rising tide of antisemitism, including anti-Israel, antisemitic BDS campaigns and proliferation of Nazi imagery on school campuses, in local communities and at the United Nations. Joining Rabbi Rosenberg will be Gary Ratner, StandWithUs Senior Executive and Development Specialist, along with Carly Gammill, Director of the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism. … Antisemitic incidents continue to rise at an alarming rate in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) recent Audit of Antisemitic Incidents recorded 2,717 instances of assault, harassment and vandalism in 2021—an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase year over year. This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking them in 1979.”

• And finally … numerous members of the local music community will be lending their talents to an effort to get the late Les Michaels a star on the Palm Springs Walk of the Stars. From a news release: “The first event in the campaign will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 12:30-3 p.m. at the Arthur Newman Theatre at the Joslyn Center in Palm Desert, hosted by Gregg Marx, Daytime Emmy Award-actor and singer (“As The World Turns”) … and (Independent contributor) Bonnie Gilgallon. … Joel Baker and Wayne Abravenel will serve as musical directors. … The event will feature shared stories and remembrances of Les Michaels by 16 performers from his Cabaret Series, including singers Francesa Amari, Keisha D, Jaci Davis, Ruthann De La Vega, Jerome Elliott, Douglas Graham, Marcia Harp, Vicki Knight, Jeffrey Lesser, Rose Mallett, Frankie Mamone, Pat McCann, Thom McMorris, Earl Mitchell, John Spinks and Leslie Tinnaro.” The suggested donation for the event is $25. Learn more at

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...