- Catching Up
- Hurst Fire
- Navarro Breach
- Palace Sale
- Ed Note
- Bridge Activity
- Pineda Packing
- Panthers Thumped
- Good Reading
- Little Dog
- MCDH Question
- Yesterday's Catch
- Seismic Mystery
- Ramen Substitute
- Evil Denial
- Weedy Reading
- Culture Decline
- Corrupt Congress
- Hightower Censored
- Bush Legacy
- Another Defeat
- Buckey Walter
- Marco Radio
Our "water year" began hopefully, with an inch-and-a-half of rain during the first week of October. But then it went completely dry for nearly seven weeks. It was strange hiking in the woods in mid November, past desiccated mushrooms, with all the dry leaves and twigs snapping underfoot. Paradise was incinerated during this interval.
The rain finally returned on November 21, and since then another seven inches have come down. We're playing catch-up. The National Weather Service forecast this week:
"Cool and dry conditions can be expected Sunday and Monday, with episodes of light rain, mountain snow, and gusty southeast winds expected Monday night through Wednesday morning. Dry conditions are expected Thursday and Friday, with more rain possible late in the week and early next week."
Along with a...
"Freeze Warning in effect from midnight tonight to 9 AM PST Monday.
* Low Temperatures: upper 20s to lower 30s
* Locations Include: Gasquet, Arcata, Eureka, Fortuna, Fort Bragg, Point Arena, Boonville, Comptche
A Freeze Warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely. These conditions will kill crops and other sensitive vegetation."
FIRE ON HIGH GREENWOOD
by Ken Hurst
At 5:50 in the early morning of Friday, November 16, 2018, my wife woke me up to say the house was on fire and we had to get out quickly or we would die. We ran outside and asked where it started. Joanadele said, "It seemed to be coming from the porch."
Suddenly, I remembered our cat named Zychiatrist, a name that my wife's mother Joan Bloyd liked. My grandson Collum from Aptos (a bit south of Santa Cruz) named the cat Zike, a more masculine name.
I was only in boxer briefs and an old sweatshirt. My wife was in her nightgown. She had immediately phoned 911 to get the firefighters. I went back into the house to save our cat. No luck. Then I went in again and got scorched in my face and could see the flames licking up the stairs from the guest room. So I got out of the second story of the house and ran by our main house below that we actually lived in most of the time. It was old but had been refurbished recently. It had a beautiful dining nook made of madrone that Rich Bloyd built. Above the madrone it was glass all the way around. Tom Jones did the remodel of the lower story house with logs supporting the guesthouse above, held steady in the air over the canyon. It was a great view.
I went in my boxers and sweatshirt to wake all the neighbors. Joe and Monica Rubin, then to the old Andy Fish place, and the Kilkers’ and Dr. Apfel's house. But the only response I could get was from Anne Fashauer’s house. I think it was her husband Van, who told me, "What do you think you're doing out here, boy?" I said, "I'm trying to alert my neighbors because there is a house fire not far from here."
With my blackened and scorched face and minimal sleeping outfit, I thought I probably looked like a full-blown nut.
I went back to the fire and saw the firefighters from Anderson Valley and Elk fire departments were magnificently gallant in fighting that hot, hot fire. Fire Chief Andres Avila was sitting in a lawn chair with a map directing the battle. Olie Erickson was #2 guy, organizing the other firefighters to follow the Chief’s directions.
Anderson Valley Fire brought five or six engines full of water and Elk brought one water tender. They were suppressing the fire in its tracks with water and calm courage.
For example, Chief Avila was sitting near a barrel of kerosene. Kerosene isn't supposed to explode, but still the big barrel was changing shape.
Olie Erickson was standing next to me and said, "I'm glad you're over here.” I said, "I'm glad you're here." Olie said, "I hope it's true that the kerosene doesn't explode."
Then firefighter Don Gowan gave me a pair of Levis to get my boxers and legs covered. But I couldn't get them past my knees. I said sadly to Don, a big guy himself, "Are these your Levis?" He said, “No, they’re George's.” My wife asked for them. They fit her fine, if a little large. Don also gave her sweatshirt.
Then some kind of missile burst out of the flames on fire. It was a propane tank that Lauren Bloyd had just set up for our outdoor barbecue. We never used it because I wasn't sure how to use it. But Olie and some other guys were on top of it in a split second with a fire truck and a tender full of water. It had started a small fire on both sides of the dirt road which they extinguished quickly.
We lost both houses and a garage full of chainsaws and tools. We did save our old pickup and two cars.
Don Gowan took us to Joe Gowan’s house to make necessary calls and calm down. Don and Joe are always so nice and soothing. Then we went to the Red Cross and got some advice and a small check at Laura Bayham's house. Laura was very tender with us.
Firefighter Regine Boudoures was so thoughtful about our cat. She said, "I promise to bring her food and water every evening." The first evening we went to check on her food, my wife thought she could see the cat’s pawprints in the area. The next evening Olie showed up to check on that cat also. That was wonderful because it was such a sad time and we thought all that was left of our cat was our memories.
We stayed at the Super 8 Motel in Ukiah for five nights. My sister Dana and her family came down and took us to a Mexican restaurant. Then Bill Long, Anderson Valley High Achool Class of 58, in the running for the best all-around athlete ever at the high school, arrived. He and his wonderful and beautiful wife Amelia with three suitcases and stayed for two nights when we really needed them.
Then I dropped by to visit one of my oldest and best friends, Sam Prather. He offered me a beer or a Coke. I said, beer, and he brought us both Cokes. He said, "Christine Clark wants to talk with you and Joanadele. She wants to help you out." Christine Clark is giving us a very generous rental rate in a beautiful old home that is her summerhouse. It was built in 1910 on Indian Creek. Almost 27 years later it was rolled on logs on a dirt road from Indian Creek to Navarro's Fairhills area, a beautiful location.
Last weekend my daughter Daisy and her husband Chris Boger and kids Collum and Sylvia arrived. Chris brought a tent and rain suit and flashlight. He said cats are nocturnal and we will see his eyes with a flashlight. But it was raining like hell and I said I had had no rain gear, so Chris went to check by himself at dusk.
He came back very excited and said, "I saw the cat's eyes. At first it scared the shit out of me because the cat had climbed onto limb and looked as tall as mountain lion. Then I realized what happened and I went closer and he meowed a few times. But you guys have to come to actually get him. He won't come to me."
We were very happy and excited to hear that. We went to get the cat after the rain had eased somewhat. I think the cat just stayed near the the area where the house was.
Joanadele brought the small rope that the cat played with. It avoided us for hours but finally to it game to play with the rope and we had him. He was thin and coughing and nervous. So we were worried about him. But after a week he was running and jumping all over the place.
Brad Wiley came by yesterday with a box of fruit. Fortunately, we were recently re-insured and we are now thinking we will rebuild on our old homesite. Our mood improved when we got our cat back, finally!
Thanks to my son-in-law and all the firefighters — our heroes in our loss.
Marshall Newman tells us: The river gage suggests the sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro River breached early this morning [Saturday]. A sudden 1.5+ feet drop in level while it is raining is a bit unusual.
FORECLOSURE SALE SCHEDULED FOR PALACE HOTEL IN UKIAH
The Ukiah Daily Journal reports that a foreclosure sale of the Palace Hotel has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 21 at the “main entrance to the Mendocino County Courthouse” at 100 N. State St. after the long-time Bay Area owner missed a large payment deadline.
FRIDAY NIGHT at the movies. We sat down to see what we could find on NetFlicks as I recalled someone saying that The Kominsky Method was worth 90 minutes out of the only life we'll ever have. Starring Michael Douglas and Allan Arkin it was stupid and vulgar, even by prevalent flimic standards of stupidity and vulgarity. We lasted ten minutes with Kominsky. Back to the NetFlicks menu where we lit on Handia, a genius film in the Basque language about a real life 19th century giant named Miguel Arteaga, whose brother tours Europe to exhibit the giant to save the family farm back in the Basque country of Spain. A beautiful and poignant story all the way, and the best movie I've seen in a long time. If you're not moved by it there's something seriously wrong with your emotional equipment.
PS. The Coen Bros Ballad of Buster Scruggs is also highly recommended with a couple of vignettes you won't forget. Pollyannas should stay clear.
JIM GIBBONS WRITES:
Can't help but reply to your latest fitness comment in Off the Record (Nov. 21). No, I'm not going to challenge you to a push up contest, I pretty much stopped doing them when I stopped running a little over two years ago.
My new routine is less than yours, and my six-pack abs are now a two-pack plus mini keg, not quite 140 pounds yet, so I'm still skinny (everywhere but my belly). Sad, I know, but the good news is I either ride my bike or walk on days I don't play ping pong or go to yoga classes. Your "Chinese Thinker," by the way, is what we yogis call "plank." Good ab workout. We do it both on our hands and forearms. How long can you hold it? This week I set a personal record of three yoga classes. I don't have the discipline to do it at home, but if I pay in advance I feel inspired to go.
I'm also still plugging my book and working slowly on getting my running book out by spring when I plan to return to Cal to visit friends and family. I have another reading coming up Wednesday at the local library that "banned" my book. Four women and me, all members of the Hawaii Writers Guild, will be reading from our published work. If it weren't for the encouragement of the Guild and the AVA I'd probably still be without a published book.
RAINBOW OVER NOYO
(photo by “@saltnsun,” via MendocinoSportsPlus)
CALTRANS' GEOTECHNICAL INVESTIGATION includes use of a helicopter next to the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge
For information about how the Albion Bridge Stewards keep watch over Caltrans' geotechnical investigation that includes use of a helicopter next to the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge see Terrence Vaughn's Mendocino TV link.
Caltrans and its subcontractors will continue the geotechnical investigation of the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge with the use of a helicopter this week. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 20 minute delays.Also the lead mitigation work with soil capping (using crushed rock/gravel and permeable fabric) below Salmon Creek Bridge will continue this week.
FORT BRAGG METH DEALER WITH ILLEGAL GUN
On Friday, November 30, at approximately 9:20 a.m., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies contacted Luis Pineda, 26, of Fort Bragg in the 17700 block of North Highway 1 in Fort Bragg.
Deputies knew Pineda was on active probation with a fourth amendment waiver and subject to search and seizure.
As deputies approached Pineda, Pineda kept his right hand concealed in his front sweatshirt pocket and would not remove it after deputies gave several directions to Pineda to do so. With Pineda’s failure to comply, a deputy took hold and control of Pineda’s right hand.
As the deputy removed Pineda’s hand from the sweatshirt pocket, deputies observed a 9mm semi-automatic pistol fall from the front interior of Pineda’s sweatshirt.
Deputies conducted a further search of Pineda’s person and found he had a pistol holster concealed beneath his sweatshirt, which hung from around his neck.
The holster contained a pistol magazine loaded with live 9mm ammunition. Deputies also found 1.0 gram of methamphetamine in Pineda’s possession.
Upon further examination of the pistol, deputies determined the pistol was loaded with live ammunition and found the serial number had been purposely obliterated.
Deputies performed a drug evaluation on Pineda to determine if he was presently under the influence of a controlled substance.
As a result of that evaluation, deputies determined Pineda was presently under the influence of a central nervous system stimulant.
Based upon the aforementioned circumstances, Pineda was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on charges of:
Possession a controlled substance while armed with a firearm. Under the influence of a controlled substance while armed. Possession of a stolen firearm. Carrying a concealed stolen firearm. Possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number. Possession of stolen property. Violation of probation.
He is being held in lieu of $35,000 bail.
THE REDWOOD CLASSIC basketball tournament is on in Boonville. The Boonville boy's team was down 8-1 after the first quarter against Tule Lake. Both teams had lost badly in their first round games. A fan was overheard muttering, "I better leave. If I watch any more of this I'm going to cry." Final score: Tule Lake 56, Anderson Valley 28.
LOVELY RIDE THROUGH THE REDWOODS this afternoon - and 128 is just about to flood stage at the Hwy gate too.
(Photo by Kathy Wylie)
I just felt like penning a short note of appreciation for what you do with the Anderson Valley Advertiser. I have never been to Anderson Valley but some times over the last 15 years a few copies of your fine publication have made their way into my hand. To be honest, I'm not sure how that happened, although it is possible that they come from my friend Aaron Cometbus who sends good reading material my way and who I also believe once wrote a column for the AVA possibly under a pseudonym. But again, I'm not sure about that.
What I am certain about is that every issue makes me think, Wow, this is great and there's nothing else like this. Even though I've never been there it makes Anderson Valley and Mendocino County come alive for me and makes it very "real," while also bestowing an almost mythic status to the goings-on in your neck of the woods.
A few weeks ago my friend William Milverton in San Francisco, a fellow AVA fan, sent me a copy of the September 19, 2018 edition and once again while reading it while traveling from Incline Village, California, to Orient New York I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, especially "Assault At Sunrise," "Meeting Of Minds," "Off The Record," and the classified ads. There's personality to the writing and evocation, qualities sorely missing in most contemporary news reporting. Having a few minutes to spare, I felt compelled to commend you on your long-running and always enjoyable and stimulating newspaper.
Incline Village, Nevada
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Got my flag out today to mourn the loss of Bush, but Skrag walks by and says, 'Patriotism is for pigs, LD, and you're a dog!'"
THE FIGHT TO SAVE COAST HOSPITAL
Stonewalled by Bob Edwards—what you can do
You can contact Bob Edwards at email@example.com and ask him about his answers to my questions. Namely, why did he deny that the Mendocino Emergency Physicians Group used the hospital's EIN #, bury the HCAHPS patient survey report by labeling it confidential, and deny that staff morale is at an all-time low. MCDH is categorized as a Public Charity and a 501(c)3. As such, it is answerable and accountable to the public. At this point in time, MCDH is a community hospital in name only.
Let's get involved and reclaim it. I'm certain the newly elected board members will make a positive difference, but they cannot do it without the support of community members. The next MCDH Board of Directors meeting is this coming Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7pm. This will be the last meeting before the new members are seated.Let's show up in record numbers and voice our concerns. Hope to see you there.
A Healthy Hospital Supporter
* * *
BUT JADE TIPPETT SAYS....
Re: Mendocino Emergency EIN Issue
To all concerned:
Since none of the hospital critics took the time to dig any deeper into this issue, I did. I contacted Kelly Danna (firstname.lastname@example.org), CFO of VEP healthcare, the umbrella corporation for Mendocino Emergency Physicians Medical Group. She contacted their accounting firm who investigated with the IRS and responded with the following:
We called the IRS about the multiple EIN issue with Mendocino Emergency Physicians Medical Group, Inc. It appears that the wrong EIN has been used since the initial return in 2011. Per my call with the IRS, their best guess is that since the name is so similar, there could have been a mix up when you initially received the EIN which is why this number was used in the initial return. They have updated their records and will have someone from the IRS go in and update all of the prior returns to be filed under the correct EIN and we will use this number going forward.
Stephanie Davis, CPA
Senior Accountant, Tax
Feel free to contact them yourselves to verify. Turns out it was an IRS error. Everyone was operating in good faith and no money went to the wrong place. I told Margaret Paul all of this information, verbally, at the end of a hospital meeting several months ago. I have no idea why she's continuing to pursue it.
I have to reiterate that this caustic narrative about the hospital, is really a serious part of the problem. How people can think they are supporting the hospital by spreading it is beyond me. Do your due diligence before making accusations, and don't expect over-worked hospital employees do to this for you. I was able to get to the bottom of this one with a total of about an hour's research and a couple of respectful and congenial phone calls and emails.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 1, 2018
DREW ERSLAND, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear, disobeying court order, probation revocation.
CARLOS FLORES, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
SALVADOR FREASE, Tulalip, Washington/Redwood Valley. Domestic abuse, taking vehicle without owner’s consent, failure to appear.
BRENT HARDING, Kelseyville/Ukiah. Community supervision violation.
JEREMIAH HEILIG, Willits. Under influence, trespassing.
GLENN JENKINS, Willits. Driving without license, suspended license (for DUI), paraphernalia, failure to appear.
CRYSTAL LOCKHART, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, criminal threats, probation revocation.
PHILLIP LOPEZ JR. Ukiah. Parole violation.
JACOB PARMELY, Ukiah. Parole violation.
LUIS PINEDA, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, concealed stolen weapon, under influence with loaded weapon, receiving stolen property, stolen loaded weapon, probation revocation.
TREVOR SHUSS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
SCIENTISTS PUZZLED by mysterious earthquake that rumbled around the world
CLIMATE CHANGE DENIALISM: Don't Republicans have children?
From the Washington Post interview with President Trump:
TRUMP: One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including — just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty.
And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with.
Number two, if you go back and if you look at articles, they talked about global freezing, they talked about at some point the planets could have freeze [sic] to death, then it’s going to die of heat exhaustion. There is movement in the atmosphere. There’s no question. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it — not nearly like it is.
Do we want clean water? Absolutely. Do we want clean air to breathe? Absolutely. The fire in California, where I was, if you looked at the floor, the floor of the fire, they have trees that were fallen, they did no forest management, no forest maintenance, and you can light — you can take a match like this and light a tree trunk when that thing is laying there for more than 14 or 15 months. And it’s a massive problem in California.
[JOSH] DAWSEY: So you’re saying you don’t see the —
TRUMP: Josh, you go to other places where they have denser trees — it’s more dense, where the trees are more flammable — they don’t have forest fires like this, because they maintain. And it was very interesting, I was watching the firemen, and they’re raking brush — you know the tumbleweed and brush, and all this stuff that’s growing underneath. It’s on fire, and they’re raking it, working so hard, and they’re raking all this stuff.
If that was raked in the beginning, there’d be nothing to catch on fire. It’s very interesting to see. A lot of the trees, they took tremendous burn at the bottom, but they didn’t catch on fire. The bottom is all burned but they didn’t catch on fire because they sucked the water, they’re wet. You need forest management, and they don’t have it...
* * *
(See also Paul Krugman on the "depravity" of climate change denialism in the NY Times)
...Denying climate change, no matter what the evidence, has become a core Republican principle. And it’s worth trying to understand both how that happened and the sheer depravity involved in being a denialist at this point.
Wait, isn’t depravity too strong a term? Aren’t people allowed to disagree with conventional wisdom, even if that wisdom is supported by overwhelming scientific consensus?
Yes, they are — as long as their arguments are made in good faith. But there are almost no good-faith climate-change deniers. And denying science for profit, political advantage or ego satisfaction is not O.K. When failure to act on the science may have terrible consequences, denial is, as I said, depraved.
...climate denial actually follows in the footsteps of earlier science denial, beginning with the long campaign by tobacco companies to confuse the public about the dangers of smoking.
The shocking truth is that by the 1950s these companies already knew that smoking caused lung cancer; but they spent large sums propping up the appearance that there was a real controversy about this link.
In other words, they were aware that their product was killing people, but they tried to keep the public from understanding this fact so they could keep earning profits. That qualifies as depravity, doesn’t it?
In many ways, climate denialism resembles cancer denialism. Businesses with a financial interest in confusing the public — in this case, fossil-fuel companies — are prime movers.
As far as I can tell, every one of the handful of well-known scientists who have expressed climate skepticism has received large sums of money from these companies or from dark money conduits like DonorsTrust — the same conduit, as it happens, that supported Matthew Whitaker, the new acting attorney general, before he joined the Trump administration.
But climate denial has sunk deeper political roots than cancer denial ever did. In practice, you can’t be a modern Republican in good standing unless you deny the reality of global warming, assert that it has natural causes or insist that nothing can be done about it without destroying the economy.
You also have to either accept or acquiesce in wild claims that the overwhelming evidence for climate change is a hoax, that it has been fabricated by a vast global conspiracy of scientists.
Why would anyone go along with such things? Money is still the main answer: Almost all prominent climate deniers are on the fossil-fuel take.
However, ideology is also a factor: If you take environmental issues seriously, you are led to the need for government regulation of some kind, so rigid free-market ideologues don’t want to believe that environmental concerns are real (although apparently forcing consumers to subsidize coal is fine)...
Indeed, it’s depravity on a scale that makes cancer denial seem trivial. Smoking kills people, and tobacco companies that tried to confuse the public about that reality were being evil.
But climate change isn’t just killing people; it may well kill civilization. Trying to confuse the public about that is evil on a whole different level.
Don’t some of these people have children?
And let’s be clear: While Donald Trump is a prime example of the depravity of climate denial, this is an issue on which his whole party went over to the dark side years ago.
Republicans don’t just have bad ideas; at this point, they are, necessarily, bad people.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF MARIJUANA CULTIVATION
Salmonid Restoration Federation
A compendium of respected journal publications on the subject of Environmental Impacts of Marijuana Cultivation in Northwestern California Watersheds, provided by the Salmonid Restoration Foundation, based in Eureka, California.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I disagree that Trump is a stooge. All I ever expected from him was a 4 to 8 year respite from our decline. Like the last few good Emperors did for Rome.
They could not stop the decline, and they had absolute power. How can Trump stop it?
As a people, we are unrealistic, delusional, and hypocritical. We have become more immoral than moral. And, we are a lazy and spoiled people. And narcissistic. Like the Jews in the desert when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, we would rather be dancing nekkid around the Golden Calf, drinking it up and having an orgy than being responsible, mature people.
We will be replaced by better people. Maybe Asians. Who knows. Whichever, you don’t see the Chinese wasting their time on such weighty issues as whether to legalize pot. Or which pronoun to use.
Trump can’t fix our stupidity.
OPEN UP THE CLOSED, SECRETIVE CONGRESS
by Ralph Nader
Following the mid-term elections, progressive citizen groups have to advance an agenda that makes Congress work for all Americans. The first step, however, is to acknowledge that Capitol Hill has walled itself off from the people, on behalf of corporate autocrats.
Currently, Congress is open for avaricious business, not for productive democracy. Congress itself is a concentrated tyranny of self-privilege, secrecy, repressiveness, and exclusive rules and practices. Congress fails to hold public hearings on many important matters and too often abandons oversight of the executive branch, and shuts out citizens who aren’t campaign donors. (See my new book, How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress at ratsreformcongress.org.)
Having sponsored in the nineteen-seventies the bestselling book ever on Congress – Who Runs Congress, I have a frame of reference for the present, staggering institutional narcissism of the Congress as the most powerful, though smallest, branch of our federal government.
It would have been rare in the sixties and seventies for major legislation to have moved to the floor of the House and the Senate without thorough public hearings with witnesses from a diverse array of citizen groups being given a chance to come and testify.
In the past two years, the Republicans sent the tax escape and health care restriction legislations to the floor, without any public hearings at the Committee level. The “tax bonanza for the corporate and wealthy” passed into law, while the “take away health care for millions of people” bill fortunately lost by one vote in the Senate.
Cong. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee sent five bills to the House floor, without public hearings, that were meant to usurp the state courts’ traditional jurisdiction and weaken your rights to have your day in court before a trial by jury were you wrongfully injured. This vicious attack by Goodlatte’s corporatists on vulnerable victims was blocked by the Senate Democrats.
U.S. Supreme Court nominees before the Senate used to face days of public hearings with many valuable witnesses. For three decades, the Senate Judiciary Committee, under both Democratic and Republican control have shortened the hearings and markedly cut back on witnesses permitted to testify. Knowledgeable people with adverse information about the nominees were kept from testifying – their requests often not even acknowledged.
The signs of Congressional closeouts are everywhere. Years ago, Congress excluded itself from the great Freedom of Information Act. This arrogance fostered a breeding ground for abusive secrecy, covered up were such conflicts as members of Congress speculating in stocks with their inside information, corruption inquests before House and senate Ethics Committee. Even using taxpayer money to settle credible accusations of sexual assault against sitting lawmakers were all covered up.
The orgy of self-privilege knows few boundaries – being wined and dined and journeyed on fundraising junkets by lobbyists who donate dollars to their campaigns in return for legislated bonanzas or immunities is normal business practice. The Senators and Representatives give themselves generous pensions, health insurance, life insurance, and other goodies while denying or failing to provide tens of millions of people those protective benefits and coverages.
Members of Congress get special favors from an airline industry that gives you the back of its omnipresent, fee imposing hand (except for Southwest Airlines). Our survey of every member of Congress which aimed to publicize the details of these commercially provided privileges was ignored by every member of Congress. (See my “Letter to Congress re: Airline industry influence”). Also, nobody knows what favors the banks give them, while these subsidized firms gouge their customers with outlandish fess, penalties and ludicrously low interest rates on savings.
If you’ve ever wondered why the nearly $5 billion you pay annually to support 535 offices in Congress does not produce supervision of the sprawling wasteful executive branch Departments such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, and State, the FDA and others, it might just be that the corporate donors are in effect paying their recipient solons to look the other way and let their passive Committee staff slumber.
An increasing number of the staff assigned to each member and their well-budgeted Committees are coming from the so-called K Street lobbying business. A little on-the-job experience helps them deliver the goodies to their former corporate employers, before rejoining them for lucrative salaries.
This corruption of the professional Congressional staff motivated Michael Pertschuk, the great chief of staff for Senator Warren Magnuson’s powerful Senate Commerce Committee, to write the recent book titled When the Senate Worked for Us. He chronicled the days in the sixties and seventies, when professional staffers played critical roles in passing consumer, environmental, worker, and other life-saving legislation.
The heavy concentration of power in the top two rulers of the Senate and the House has stripped Committee chairpersons of much of their power to address urgent necessities and diversify and decentralize internal Congressional power and activities.
Then there are the daily irritations. Regular people trying to call members of Congress or Committees find their switchboard increasingly on voice mail during working hours. Substantive letters from constituents are not even acknowledged much less given the respect of a reply. Calls to Senators or Representatives or their top staff are often ignored if you are not a campaign contributor.
These increasing plunges into dictatorial misuses of the sovereign power we have delegated to members of Congress are not universal. There are minorities of good-faith lawmakers objecting, but their power is too little to overcome the Congressional Corporate complex that has seized our Capitol.
As I’ve written many times before, it is not as hard as we think to break the corporate grip on our Congress. Creating a people-driven Congress starts with organizing Congressional Watchdog Groups that represent the broad left/right voter support for long overdue changes and reforms, in every one of the 435 Districts. See my book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think (especially pp. 144-145), where the civic summons to your Congressional lawmakers is presented for powerful face-to-face series of citizen controlled meetings back home.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
CREATORS WOULDN'T DISTRIBUTE HIGHTOWER'S COLUMN this week criticizing Digital First, GateHouse
Jim Hightower's column "Free the free press from Wall Street plunderers" was not distributed this week by his distribution agency, Creators Syndicate, due to fear of offending Digital First Media (owner of The Willits News, Ukiah Daily Journal, and other Mendocino and Lake County papers, along with about 800 newspapers across the country) and GateHouse Media, two of the biggest media chains in the US — and big customers of Creators Syndicate. As Hightower puts it in his column:
"The buyers are hedge-fund scavengers with names like Digital First and GateHouse. They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product — then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper."
Donald J. Trump is a disgraceful liar. George H.W. Bush was a smooth, accomplished, polished liar. I regret his passing. I hoped he'd live long enough to die in a prison hospital -- or shower room. That the Bushes will have to face their crimes is unlikely but not impossible. Poppy Bush murdered Latin America and started on the Middle East, both in the successful pursuit of MONEY. W finished the murdering of the Middle East and took the prize. The awesome wealth he covered his rich cohorts with did not come from Middle Eastern oil or other riches. It was money stolen from American taxpayers, the biggest pool of dumb money in the universe.
(Don't get me wrong. I rail against money all the time, but I love it. Send me some. Money hasn't been a good idea, but it's probably an inevitable one. It lines up too well with our brain's design to be overlooked. I do hate our obsession with it. It went instantly from a convenience in human interactions to The Thing Most Wanted, which is flat stupid. It's such a common malady that we don't censor millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires for having ridiculous piles of it. We honor and envy them. Sick! (as someone might tweet).)
From Daily Kos:
The news this morning is full of praise for George H. W. Bush. He was once right about one thing, before he quit being right about even that.
By 1980, the 56-year-old Bush had been a Congressman, U.N. ambassador under Nixon, chair of the Republican National Committee, and Director of the CIA under Ford—with a few breaks in which he sat on the board of banks and ‘institutes’ always ready to give a Republican politician a soft landing outside of D.C.
He decided to run for president years in advance and carefully attended every possible event to lay the groundwork, expecting to simply out-hustle his main rivals in the traditional wing of the party, including Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and John Anderson.
When it came to upstart Ronald Reagan, Bush regarded him as a dangerous outsider to the party. Reagan campaigned on a platform of racism, talking about imaginary “welfare queens” who deliberately had more children so they could use the money provided them by hard-working Americans to buy a Cadillac.
Reagan derided government not just as part of the problem, but the source of the problem, promising to slash regulations and run America “like a business.” He blasted environmental concerns, denied that acid rain was a problem, scoffed at efforts by Jimmy Carter to encourage conservation, threatened to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency, and promised to open public lands to more drilling.
And Reagan ran on a radical new economic policy, one that said if only America would do more to reward rich people the money would “trickle down” to the poor. He promised that his policy would generate so much money that he would within a year produce the first balanced budget since 1969.
It was on the economics issue in particular that Bush stood up to Reagan. He declared the Laffer Curve — the napkin scrawl on which so-called supply-side economics was founded — to be a joke. He said flatly that the proposal to cut taxes for those at the top as a means of promoting the economy “will not work.” Most notably, he re-labeled Reagan’s mystical promise that allowing the wealthy to pay less in taxes would actually generate greater revenue “voodoo economics.”
...Bush won five more primaries, but the southern states were solid for Reagan racism. He had, after all, run not just on a platform of kicking lazy blacks off of welfare but “restoring” an American vision with racism at its core. Reagan would go on to open his general campaign by appearing in Neshoba County, Mississippi, site of the infamous murder of civil rights activists and a deadly church bombing by the KKK, to state flatly “I believe in states’ rights.”
By May Bush was so far behind that he dropped out, surrendering the race to Reagan. And that was the end of his career as a “moderate Republican.” Because in July, Reagan selected George H. W. Bush as his vice-president. With that the man who had coined “voodoo economics” became a supply side adherent. The man who had run on ratifying the ERA, became an opponent. And on the racism, well, Bush had never really fought that in the first place...
"The new civil rights act was passed to protect 14% of the people. I'm also worried about the other 86%." — George H. W. Bush, explaining why he voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
That vote was just one of several where Bush followed other Republicans down the road that had been laid out for them to capture the South through supporting white supremacy. Bush campaigned for Congress in both 1964 and 1966 with opposition to the Civil Rights Act—and particularly the public accommodations regulations that would allow African Americans to eat at the same restaurants and sleep in the same hotels as whites—as the centerpiece of his campaign.
And if Bush claimed to support the Equal Rights Amendment, it didn’t keep him from being incredibly condescending to Democratic candidate Geraldine Ferraro when they met in debate before the 1984 election.
Though Ferraro kept her cool and answered questions with confidence, Bush was dismissive toward her throughout the evening, and ended the event by declaring “I tried to kick a little ass.” Following the event, the campaign provided “We kicked a little ass” buttons to commemorate the event.
Anyone thinking that maybe it was just the pressure of running for Congress in Texas, or the responsibility of supporting Reagan’s agenda that kept Bush from expressing more equitable positions, got disabused of that notion in 1990, when then-President George H. W. Bush vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990.
That bill would have set clear standards by which litigants could sue over both racial and sexual discrimination. It had been passed following a series of Supreme Court decisions in which Reagan-appointed justices whittled away at the protections of the 1964 law. The one that Bush had voted against. The 1990 bill passed the Senate with 65 votes, including the votes of 10 Republicans, but following Bush’s veto it never became law.
People for the American Way accused Bush of trying to please “Jesse Helms, David Duke and their followers in the ultra-right-wing of the Republican Party." And there’s no doubt that he did. George H. W. Bush wasn’t Donald Trump. But he was all too much like the rest of the Republican Party in the presence of Donald Trump. Bush knew better. He knew that supply-side economics was “voodoo,” but he supported it anyway because it gained him votes.
He knew that women were the victim of sexism and oppression, but he threw away his support for the EPA and joined the old boys club when he thought it was the right political move. And on racism, Bush had a long, sorry history of fighting against civil rights.
Rather than lionize Bush, let’s hear from a lion:
“He is more interested in appeasing extremists in his party than in providing simple justice for working Americans.” — Ted Kennedy
AMERICA IS HEADED FOR MILITARY DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
"Still, sober strategy and basic honesty demands a true assessment of the military situation in America’s longest war. The Pentagon loves metrics, data, and stats. Well, as demonstrated daily on the ground in Afghanistan, all the security (read: military) metrics point towards impending defeat. At best, the Afghan army, with ample U.S. advisory detachments and air support, can hold on to the northernmost and westernmost provinces of the country, while a Taliban coalition overruns the south and east. This will be messy, ugly, and discomfiting for military and civilian leaders alike. But unless Washington is prepared to redeploy 100,000 soldiers to Afghanistan (again)—and still only manage a tie, by the way—it is also all but inevitable."
STONEWALLS & MEMO OF THE AIR
Margaret Paul's description closely matches every interaction in print or by mail or email or in person I have ever had, going back thirty years now, with anyone in the office (or proto-office) at KZYX or on the board there. Or with the Fort Bragg public access teevee channel in the 1980s. Or with the cable company itself, when I was trying to put a radio station on the cable. Any board, really. It's so frustrating how unassailable these entitled [insert paragraph of swear-words here] are, how dug-in they are the instant they parasitize a project that they had nothing to do with conceiving and building and making, and that they have no deep understanding of nor talent nor passion for, just how to get in charge and start sucking money out of the system for themselves and their friends, and stay there for fricking ever.
Ahem, IN OTHER NEWS: Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio tonight!
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio tonight (Friday, Nov. 30) on KMEC-LP Ukiah and KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, live from 325 N. Franklin, next door to the Tip Top bar. The heater will be on the whole time, so expect that, should you decide this is the night to wander in and expose yourself. After 9pm, please.
Deadline to email your writing to be read on the air tonight is around 6pm. If you're not done by then, send it anyway whenever it's ready and I'll read it next week.
Tell your friends about Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, and 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. Also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org
Some bonus tracks, for while you wait:
Go home, Amazon, you are drunk.
And the humiliating death agony of Barney, who I didn't even know existed until after I'd seen Death To Smoochy (highly recommended).
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com