Off the Record (Aug. 14, 2019)

THE DELUGE of opinion at the announcement of the suicide death of international cho-mo, Jeffrey Epstein, ran almost unanimously to, "He was murdered," and "The Clintons got him." Epstein now moves to the very top of the Grassy Knoll Roster, which begins with the Kennedy assassination and Lee Harvey Oswald, winds on through 911 and the collapse of Building 7 before disappearing into the far reaches of mass paranoia that includes vaccination and contrails as government conspiracies, the same government that can’t protect the most high profile prisoner in the world.

I'VE BEEN FOLLOWING what I can of a highly amusing on-line dispute raging on the MCN chatline. From what I can gather, two bellicose gents, posting under pseudonyms, are accused of threatening other posters with violence. One of the alleged victims of the threats, Mr. Gurney, who himself has threatened our star courtroom reporter, Bruce McEwen, apparently is now so worried for the safety of himself and his wife, he has complained to the Fort Bragg police. As a veteran threat-catcher, serious threats don't come in writing or crank calls. Someone seriously intent on doing harm, does it, or tries to do it, without prior notification. These keyboard warriors are just a lot of movie talk. 

LOTS OF COMPLAINTS from non-dopers that Ukiah's Sundays in the Park is no longer a family event because of all the weed-eaters puffing away. It is, ahem, unusual that a City-sponsored event in a City-owned park would sponsor a musical smoke-in, but how about the trauma inflicted on little Bobby and Debbie when they see gramps and gran shaking their ancient booties to the sounds? And I wonder why parents take their kids to these grisly spectacles in the first place, unless it's to accustom them to the aberrant behavior that now comes with the civic experience.

WHAT THIS COUNTRY needs is some serious industrial sabotage. I read an account by a 74-year-old man, like many Americans in their golden years forced to work, with this old boy employed at a vast, treadmill of an Amazon plant on the East Coast. He said his duties required him to walk 14 miles a day! So he quit and got on with a fast food outlet, your basic lateral employment option. Objectively considered, Amazon is evil, forcing thousands of people into the worst kind of rote dehumanization for not enough money to do more than pay rent and eat bad food. There are thousands of creative sabs out there, and here's hoping Amazon experiences some serious monkey wrenching.

SUDDENLY, the federal government announces it's going to execute six men off the fed's death row, where they've languished for years. Do they have it coming? Absolutely, but their executions should be public, not via midnight needles. The rationale for capital punishment is its alleged deterrent value which, as we all know as citizens of one of the most violent countries in the world, is of no value. Short of doing away with capital punishment altogether, the rational strategy, executions by government should be carried out with the blessings of the victim's family and, preferably, by a family member. And in public. Failing that kind of personal involvement, a masked executioner, in full view of interested citizens — half-time at a Super Bowl would be perfect — should do the vengeance in lieu of The Lord, who famously said He had the exclusive franchise. If executions are being done in the public's name, the public has the right and the obligation to see what's being done.

WHITE NATIONALISM. I have a hard time taking it seriously, although lots of the boys and some of the girls in the back of the classroom, the remedial readers, seem to feel imperiled by darker people. And in Europe there's a strong white push-back against immigration from the Moslem countries. Governor Newsom said the other day there are more than 70 potentially lethal “hate” groups that the state and federal authorities are “monitoring.” Meanwhile, the most high profile prisoner in the world, Mr. Epstein, manages to commit suicide in federal custody, but who’s counting the contradictions?

HERE IN BOONVILLE, there are a couple of uninstructed characters who drive around with confederate flags flying, the infamous symbol for treason and slavery they seem to think represents them. Ask them about their allegiance and they sputter about "heritage" and "our way of life." Dudes! Fewer than ten percent of Southerners owned other people, and I seriously doubt your ancestors were among the planter aristocracy. But in the U.S. are we talking a real movement capable of more than an occasional mass shooting? Call me Mr. Pangloss, but unless my eyes are as treacherous as the rest of my failing body parts, there are now millions of genuinely affectionate, loyal, inter-ethnic relationships in this country where there were virtually none prior to, say, 1965. Most white Americans aren't about to sign up for "white nationalism." 

ANDREW YANG, the tech entrepreneur whose platform consists primarily of a stand for universal basic income, became the ninth Democrat to qualify for the upcoming September debate in Houston, joining mega-hack Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, empty suit Beto, wobbling Kamala Harris, and the glibly vague Cory Booker. They all spent this week at the Iowa State Fair pretending to like corn dogs.

NO SURPRISE that the SMART train is entering a death spiral, announcing last week that it would have to extend the "temporary" sales tax, which has so far sustained it. Will the voters pour good money after bad? Probably. The thing is there and it even runs from San Rafael to Santa Rosa, neatly evading major population centers as it goes. Used to be that two trains each way ran from San Rafael to Eureka, with a connecting line running from Willits to Fort Bragg. Used to be we could do stuff, too.

THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL is now and forever discussing permanent solutions to local homelessness affecting, county-wide, according to the Marbut Report, about 200 people, many of them drug and alcohol addicted. The nut of the prob is what to do with people who, in the days before America lost its way, were placed in state hospitals until they recovered themselves. Ukiah, and Mendocino County, will be discussing the homeless prob for years to come, the discussion led by people paid to discuss it, a major disincentive to practical solutions. When you have a small army of "helping professionals" who make their livings off dysfunction, and leadership that doesn't lead, the dysfunction, here, there and everywhere, is going to continue. 

IS IT just me or is the Ukiah Safeway staffed by unhappy people, strikingly unhappy people. I understand the alienation of labor and sympathize with it, but Safeway workers seem to be unhappy beyond the usual misery standard, not even delivering the pro forma, eyes-averted, "How are you today?" Just down the street at the Ukiah Co-Op, the workers are all smiles, virtually dancing at their tasks.

MASS HYSTERIA. Turn on the news and someone is sobbing something like, "My god, I can't even go shopping without worrying I'll never come home again." Thousands of people fled New York’s Times Square in panic one day last week when backfiring motorcycles caused the mob to stampede. Your chances of getting shot on the street, while greater than in most countries, are about as likely as getting killed by a piano falling on your head. Look at it this way: England got bombed every day and night for an entire year during World War Two, and not so much as a public snivel! Suck it up, America!

PG&E has not publicly estimated how often or severe the shut-offs will be this summer as the globe warms and walls of flame devour California where power decisions are made by a handful of wealthy individual shot-callers sitting in the fire proof executive suites at PG&E. If ever existed a stronger argument for PG&E at last becoming a publicly-owned utility, name another one.

ADDING MAJOR INSULT to likely mass injury in the hot, hot, hot summers to come, PG&E says, “It’s good that local governments are talking about all these things, because that’s what we’re encouraging people to do,” said company spokesman Jeff Smith. “But in terms of being able to provide advance information — this many customers are likely to be affected, or this many of any particular county or it’s going to happen this many times per year — it’s just impossible to predict.”

FRONTIERS OF FREE ENTERPRISE: The Press Democrat was predictably thrilled: "The traditionally hidebound North Coast premium wine sector had held the emerging cannabis industry at arm’s length, especially in Napa County, because of the stigma of stoners [sic] as well as state and federal regulatory concerns. 'We jumped into the cannabis world. Will it work? I’m not sure. But we are willing to take that chance,' said Corey Beck, the chief executive officer and winemaking boss for The Family Coppola, which includes the iconic Geyserville winery."

THE MENDOCINO REDWOOD COMPANY is a lot like Trump, in that they create trouble for themselves where trouble need not exist. (It's Saturday afternoon and Trump just seconded a tweet that the Clintons did in Epstein.) Back to MRC. For instance, take the case of the venerable Anderson Valley business, Frank's Firewood. Frank and his small crew of well-paid workers used to be able to take commercially un-viable trees off MRC's vast Mendo holdings and render them as fire wood. Then MRC began poisoning their unwanted trees instead of allowing locals in to harvest them, thus complicating Frank's business because Frank would not pass on poisoned firewood to his customers. In the relative halcyon big timber days prior to the Fisher Family's assumption of Mendo's forests, even L-P and, before L-P, Masonite, allowed locals to not only take firewood but hunt! It's as if MRC deliberately alienates local public opinion — everyone from gyppo loggers to tree huggers is united in their contempt for the company and its owners, the Fisher family of San Francisco. As another oligarch, Charles Hurwitz, famously put it to a gym full of his workers whose pensions he'd just ripped off, "He who has the gold, rules."

Frank's Firewood

FLYNN WASHBURNE posted the following note on his Facebook page late last month: “A little O'Henrian twist at the ol' 6 today. [Washburne works at the Motel 6 in Ukiah]. Three of the cleaning crew called in sick so they could go see El Yaki, not knowing they [the band] would be staying here. The maid shortage resulted in their rooms not being ready so now there's a bunch of tired, angry banda musicians milling around the lobby. D'oh!”

THOUGHT presidential hopeful Andrew Yang did pretty well in the first round of debates among Democratic candidates, but then he revealed himself over this weekend as, uh, not quite fully wrapped when he suddenly was awash in tears at, he said, the thought of his young son being gunned down in a mass shooting. On the subject of child murder, Yang and his fellow hopefuls have yet to broach the subject of our role in the starvation and bombing of Yemeni children, not to mention the much longer-running oppression of Palestinians of all ages by the neo-fascist Israeli government. That subject is also unlikely to be mentioned by our prospective leaders, unless it's to pimp for even more billions to the Netanyahu Gang.

COUNTY TO PAY FOR PG&E’S FAILURES

Last Tuesday, after listening to various back-up generator options the County is considering for when PG&E shuts everyone off, Supervisor Ted Williams, after agreeing with sending a letter to PG&E asking them to appear before the Supes as soon as possible to answer several Mendo-related questions. 

However Williams had a few other items he wanted addressed:

"I think we should come up with a total for what this will cost us for PG&E's voluntary shutoffs. We should include in that letter a request for financial assistance for the actual cost.”

Supervisor McCowen: This is of course a problem created by PG&E and it has many ramifications and we are looking at another one [backup generators and electrical system modifications). Given that PG&E is in bankruptcy and that it would be a planned outage rather than an emergency, I don't think we will get a very positive response to any letter we send them requesting that they pay for the cost that not only the county and every individual and business is in line to have additional cost based on this misnamed public safety power shut off. It really has nothing to do with public safety -- it endangers public safety. I am reluctant to start throwing a lot of money at this. We do have emergency generators for some of our most critical operations. The $46,000 that is being discussed for five generators is a rental for three months only. I don't know if that includes the cost of the cables and so forth that would be necessary. I understand it is included in the $46,000. But then we would have to have presumably county staff or other qualified people connect them and reconnect them each business day so we could shut the doors. We would have cables running through the hallways. Most offices would only be accessible by people stepping over these cables. I'm not sure if going through all of this is worth it when we don't yet know how many of these events we are going to have or what the duration will be. There have been very few declared in the state so far.”

Board Chair Carre Brown: "I do support Supervisor Williams wanting to include an estimated cost for this county. For any PSPS that will occur. I think it is important to include it. And yes PG&E is in bankruptcy court but I think it's important to identify the cost to counties and other businesses throughout the state and within their territory what it's going to cost. So we have two supervisors who are going to be bringing forward an agenda item. We have to think out of the box with what's going on. PG&E cannot tell us where the blackouts are going to be because we have no information on their grid. It could be at a place three hours away that you have no electricity from so to speak. That's very poor planning on their part. But it's something we need to work on. I'm also concerned about water supplies and restrooms as we go into this and I hope to hear information back at some point in time.”

Supervisor John Haschak: “I agree with Chair Brown and Supervisor Williams in including this in a letter to PG&E even though they are in bankruptcy of their own making. It's just very unfortunate that we have to spend over $100,000 to be to deal with this mess. But at the same time when you think about all the people who don't have $100,000 or $1,000 to buy generators and keep their business going or keep their home safe, that's the real outrage here. Just looking at the $100,000-plus that we are going to have to spend for this, if we don't have it, like you are saying, with the extreme use of technology at this point, if we don't have this then we would see lots of people who are just not able to do their jobs. So just as a functioning entity of the county we need to proceed with this — unfortunately.”

Brown: “I want to look at other county facilities and vulnerable populations. And at our veterans facilities and locations. This is something we need to think out of the box about and be very serious and have estimates and information.

County staffer Steve Dunnicliff said that the generators would not be hooked up with wires running through the halls and that county staff would not be walking around the wires but would have to deal with the switching.

The board decided to bring an item back on an upcoming agenda to deal with the additional questions for PG&E.

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK

These recent mass killings are another major sign that the country is in deep deep decay on the deepest existential-cultural level. 

No worries of course, I’m sure most of the media and the ‘American public’ will attribute this all to being just “some evil lunatics”, and fail to recognize the horror of the societal conditions that are incubating and hatching these lunatics. 

Example: The Liberal media have already and automatically taken this and spinned it into their Biblical Good vs Evil story around gun control… A grand narrative where the professional, prosperous, technocratic elite once and for all succeed in regulating gun control with their algorithms against the heathen horde that are the ‘conservatives’! Of course, Let’s just ignore the fact the even if it’s made so that people can’t get guns anymore (practically impossible) there are other means like gasoline and semi-trucks and homemade explosives (you can actually but the chemicals and components at your local hardware store for a few hundred bucks) to do a “mass killing”.

“When inward life dries up, when feeling decreases and apathy increases, when one cannot affect or even genuinely touch another person, violence flares up as a daimonic necessity for contact, a mad drive forcing touch in the most direct way possible.” – Rollo May That description seems accurate for the majority of America. Frightening stuff, just drive around town and experience the fury people express when you take more than a second to get moving at a green light. So what are we to do when faced with the seemingly unchangeable reality of this country?

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