Since 2012, racist pig Doug LaMalfa has represented, California's first congressional district in the northeastern part of the state. With a PVI of R+11, it isn't easy for Democrats to make much headway there. Trump beat Biden in the district 56.4% to 41.1%, Trump's second strongest showing in California. On the other hand, 2 years earlier, the district voted to elect progressive Kevin de Leon to the Senate over conservative Dianne Feinstein by almost 20 points and two years before that backed Kamala Harris for the other Senate seat 59.7% to 40.3%.
The district encompasses all or part of 11 counties, from Democratic-leaning Butte and Nevada counties (respectively the biggest and third biggest counties in the district) to GOP strongholds like Shasta, Placer, Tehama and Siskiyou, the only other counties with significant numbers of voters. Two of California's most politically and socially backward counties-- Lassen (R+45) and Modoc (R+40)-- are both in the district as well, reliably doing their backward thing, from backing Trump with 74.5% and 71.2% to voting to secede from California. Both counties' populations subsist on welfare from more productive parts of the state and California would be better off without them, although the best outcome over the secession battle would be for the people to go live in Idaho or Utah or wherever they consider best for them and leave the counties for people who would appreciate them. Most Californians would love Lassen and Modoc but just don't want to go live among the primitive, uneducated bigots.
And one of their leaders, Congressman Doug LaMalfa has been trying to appeal to their worst instincts by releasing incendiary videos of himself bulldozing Hmong immigrants' marijuana grow sites. Kyle Jaeger wrote that when the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office asked for help eradicating the unregulated cannabis greenhouses in May, LaMalfa, who has consistently opposed marijuana reform legislation in Congress, immediately jumped at the chance to politicize the the police action. "Videos released by his office," wrote Jaeger, "show a self-satisfied congressman climbing into a bulldozer and helping to bring down a large white canopy where the marijuana was being grown. 'I love the smell of diesel power in the afternoon. It smells like victory,' LaMalfa said in one clip, an homage to a classic line in the 1979 war film Apocalypse Now." That was offensive, probably purposely so, to the Hmong people living in Siskiyou.
“Sometimes the best solution is large diesel powered equipment,” LaMalfa said. “We must stop the human trafficking, the pollution, and the organized crime that is pervasive in these grows. The illegal pesticides and fertilizers that permeate the marijuana plants don’t go away once the plants are sold or destroyed. I’m working with the county and pressuring the federal government for more assistance from law enforcement to help clean up.”
To that end, the congressman has given no less than eight House floor speeches in recent years urging the federal government to provide additional resources to help states get rid of illicit marijuana grows. And he’s also filed legislation to to give resources to law enforcement to eradicate illegal marijuana grows on public lands, increase fines and penalties for such cultivation and establish a fund to restore land damaged by that activity.
This week, LaMalfa introduced an amendment to spending legislation for the 2022 fiscal year that would transfer “$25 million from the Environmental Programs and Management enforcement activities account to the National Forest System account for enforcement and remediation of illegal marijuana trespass grow sites on federal lands and for the clean-up of toxic waste and chemicals at these sites.”
So the bulldozer stunt, while eccentric, is very much on brand for LaMalfa. One of the videos concludes with him exiting the machine and flexing his arms in a display of triumph for killing some plants.
Writing for Politico yesterday, Alexander Nieves reported that "Outdoor grows are illegal in that county and often lack sewage systems and other environmental safety measures. But advocates for local farmers say the timing of the videos-- weeks after law enforcement officers fatally shot a 35-year-old Hmong man during a mandatory wildfire evacuation-- is problematic, as is the congressman's language... In a statement given to the Sacramento Bee, an attorney for the Hmong growers said LaMalfa’s statement 'sounds like a divisive message that's likely to inflame the tensions instead of making them better.' Most Hmong Americans came to the United States as refugees in the late 1970s in the wake of the Vietnam War. Thousands of Laotian Hmongs fled to Thailand after the war before resettling in the United States after being persecuted by the Laotian government for their perceived support of the Americans. There are roughly 330,000 Hmong Americans living in the United States, primarily in California and Minnesota, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Racial tensions are already high in Siskiyou County, where crews for weeks have been battling the 26,000-acre Lava Fire. Hmong farmers have accused firefighters of refusing to put out blazes that approached cannabis grows. Law enforcement officials countered that farmers blocked access roads and threw rocks at approaching firefighters."
Currently there are 3 Democrats trying to take on LaMalfa next year, Max Steiner, David Peterson and Rob Lydon.