- Cloudy Cool
- Stone Forward
- Stocks Halted
- Offshore Quake
- Green Pickets
- Virus Updates
- Quiz Timechange
- AV Village
- Stocked Up
- Pot Reparations
- Remains Found
- Snyder Response
- Election Diseases
- Park Management
- Ed Notes
- Old Vic
- Yesterday's Catch
- Great Friends
- Bernie Marquee
- Zunes Interview
- Joe Kaufman
- Foodie Magazine
- Cooking Lessons
- Around 1970
- Joe Brando
- Nice Bernie
- Honoring Women
- Moderate Extremists
- Facebook Friends
- Almighty Crimes
- Joe Simon
- Filthy Lucre
- Found Object
CLOUDY AND COOL conditions will persist today with light rain across the mountains of northern and eastern Trinity County. However, some sun will break out along the coast later today. Warmer, drier and sunnier conditions are expected Tuesday through Friday, followed by cooler and showery conditions over the weekend. (NWS)
STOCKS HALTED FOR 15 MINUTES AFTER S&P 500 DROPS 7%
9:40 AM ET 3/9/20 | Briefing.com
The NYSE has halted stock trading for 15 minutes after the S&P 500 triggered a circuit breaker by falling 7.0% in the opening minutes of action. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 7.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite is down 6.9%.
The S&P 500 energy sector is down a whopping 19.3% amid a 21.5% drop in oil prices ($32.42, -8.85) after Saudi Arabia launched a price war with Russia. The other ten sectors are down between 4.6% (consumer staples) and 9.0% (financials).
U.S. Treasuries extend their ongoing rally, driving yields sharply lower to unprecedented levels. The 2-yr yield is down 29 basis points to 0.30%, and the 10-yr yield is down 28 basis points to 0.43%. The U.S. Dollar Index is down 1.4% to 97.65.
FEELING IT! Offshore quake felt around Fort Bragg a little before 8pm.
USGS: “A magnitude 5.9 earthquake was reported Sunday evening at 7:59 p.m. Pacific time 60 miles west of Fortuna, centered off the North Coast in the Pacific Ocean. The earthquake occurred 62 miles from Eureka, 65 miles from Myrtletown, 68 miles from Arcata and 70 miles from McKinleyville. No tsunami warning was issued for coastal areas, and no damage was reported. Thousands of people on the USGS website reported feeling weak to moderate shaking from the Oregon border to the San Francisco Bay Area, some as far inland as the northern Sierra foothills surrounding Chico.”
Preliminary local anecdotal reports:
- "5.6 earthquake felt in Ferndale, long & strong"
- "Strong and long in Surfwood"
- "5.9 86 km west of Petrolia"
- "It was a right on the fault line according to the USGS."
FILIGREEN FARM on Anderson Valley Way here in Boonville always has something interesting going on, some intriguing project underway that's visible to passerby, the latest being the re-model of Buster and Velma Farrer's farmhouse only feet from the roadbed behind the first lime-green fence I've ever seen, perhaps the very first lime-green fence in all of vast America!
But it works, at least to my perhaps aesthetically challenged eye. Moreover, I think Velma Farrer would be pleased with her long-time home's re-do, given her tropical interim in pre-Castro Cuba where, as in all the Mediterranean, color ran riot. I never could reconcile the shy, demure Velma with old Havana, or with crusty Buster for that matter.
NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE
EXPANDED AVAILABILITY OF TESTING
On Friday, March 6, 2020, LabCorp and Quest announced that they are now testing for COVID-19. This means that private physicians now have the ability to order COVID-19 tests directly through these commercial medical laboratories.
Mendocino County Public Health is also continuing to work with the local healthcare system to identify high risk individuals to test through California’s Public Health laboratory system.
Whether a resident is tested through a private, commercial lab or through Mendocino County’s Public Health system, “When a test result for COVID-19 comes back positive it is a mandatory reportable disease with the requirement of immediate verbal reporting through the County’s Public Health Department,” explained Dr. Noemi Doohan, County Health Officer. “This is mandatory reporting regardless if I order the test through our Public Health lab or a clinician orders a test through a commercial lab. If a test result comes back positive, Public Health will be actively involved with each case.”
We are currently aware of two Mendocino County residents who have been tested for COVID-19 since Friday, March 6, 2020. One hospitalized patient was tested expeditiously through the Public Health laboratory system, and test results came back today as negative. The second Mendocino County resident is pending test results through the commercial laboratory system, and their health care provider is in direct communication with Mendocino County public health.
At this time, there are ZERO confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mendocino County. However, we are preparing for a possible pandemic of COVID-19 as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
In light of more expansive community transmission of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide, Mendocino County Public Health is taking steps to prepare for the possibility of cases in our community in the near future. As more tests become available through the commercial medical laboratories, the number of COVID-19 tests in process will be prescribed by individual medical providers. When any of those test results come back positive, Mendocino County Public Health will be actively involved in containment and mitigation follow up.
Noemi Doohan, MD, PhD, Mendocino County Health Officer
Contact: Joy Beeler
NOT YET IN MENDO: The coronavirus death toll in the US climbed to 21 Sunday after two new deaths were reported in Washington state. Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday morning that four million coronavirus tests should be available by the end of the week. Fauci said that the US may soon implement widespread quarantines as Italy and China have done and warned high risk groups — including elderly people and those with weak immune systems — to avoid traveling. Trump praised his administration's efforts to curb the outbreak on Twitter, writing: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus. We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend. VP is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!”
TEN FOOT POLES
BOONVILLE QUIZ MOVES UP AN HOUR. After deliberations at the highest level, it has been decided that the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz will begin at 6pm starting this week, Thursday, 12th March, at Lauren’s Restaurant.
This will allow folks to get home earlier (the Quiz will end at approximately 8pm) and also, for some, the option to come to eat dinner and play the Quiz straight from work rather than going home first. We shall see how this works for a few weeks and welcome your comments. Hope to see you there. Cheers,
Steve Sparks, The Quiz Master
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE - WEEKLY UPDATE for 03/08/2020
Calendar events for the next two weeks hosted by The Anderson Valley Village as well as events in our community at large.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us:
ASSIGNMENT: UKIAH — POT REPARATIONS, FOR CRIMINALS ONLY
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Let’s trace the lives of two imaginary locals through the past 40 years.
We’ll start with JOE, a fourth generation Ukiahan who graduated from UHS back in the late ‘70s, did a couple years at Sonoma State and came back to work in the family hardware store.
He married a local gal, Heather; they had a couple kids, bought a home in Oak Manor, fixed it up and sold it in 2005 to buy a bigger house with a yard for the dog.
The store went out of business and Joe caught on with Friedman Bros. For a few years both he and his wife worked second jobs so they could put away money for the kids’ college fund. They’ve never taken a real vacation.
Joe and Heather have paid taxes on their home and car for many years. He coached Little League, and Heather volunteers at the library and the Ladies Garden Club on West Clay Street.
Now look at another resident:
KENNY grew up in Oklahoma, quit high school, briefly worked at Walmart and lived with his parents.
He had a six year old he never sees with a woman he hardly knows. He moved to Laytonville in 2005 to work in the marijuana biz. He grew good weed, some of which he sold; the rest he traded for cocaine which he also sold but mostly inhaled. He transported pot and coke back to Oklahoma and made big money.
He had multiple girlfriends and multiple children he rarely saw; the moms were on welfare and his five kids went to Laytonville schools.
Kenny spends winters in Costa Rica and Hawaii in houses he’s purchased from pot profits. He drives big pickup trucks he purchases with cash in San Jose. He only grows on BLM parcels, pays no property taxes and zero to IRS.
He rents a big house in the hills outside Laytonville and employs vagabond trimmers at $20 an hour to prepare pot. He’s been arrested and prosecuted but Public Defender lawyers saw to it he never did more than a year in county jail.
Got the picture? Got a feel for these Mendo residents?
In a recent Daily Journal story reporter Curtis Driscoll outlined a plan approved by Supervisors called the Mendocino County Cannabis Equity Program. It’s itching to give money to people, especially those like our fictitious Kenny.
For many years people like you and me have assumed those who transport, deal and consume illegal drugs to be criminals.
Now they’re victims.
Now they deserve money and services from county taxpayers to compensate for pain and suffering caused by the war on drugs. Growers and dealers like Kenny will be rewarded by guys like Joe.
The new Cannabis Equity Assessment “…found that criminalization of cannabis and the overall war on drugs had harmed community members… and made it harder for them to be a part of the cannabis industry or recover from cannabis policies that have harmed them.”
Those eligible for compensation “have engaged in or are currently engaged…in (marijuana) cultivation” Also eligible: “Any woman, person of color, LGBTQ individual who has worked in, or currently works in” the pot industry, along with those who experienced sexual assault, exploitation, etc. It goes on.
Anyone who is “homeless or has suffered loss of housing as a result of cannabis enforcement” is in line for assistance, as are those “arrested and / or convicted of a nonviolent cannabis offense” or were subject to asset forfeitures. There is money available (starting at $100,000) plus fee waivers and other considerations.
It’s uncertain what rewards will be bestowed on those who have “suffered” from state, local and federal drug laws. The county web page is vague.
But though the details are fuzzy, the intent is clear: Favorable treatment and financial rewards are to be handed out, and criminals are first in line.
Many got rich breaking laws, avoiding taxes and sponging benefits and services from the rest of us. Now we’re required to apologize and provide reparations?
Penalizing those who have worked hard, obeyed laws and paid taxes so we can subsidize illegal drug dealers borders on surreal.
Dear Friends, we indulge the follies of a political class that promises to lead society, but now comes a plan so preposterous, with a strategy so misguided, that we wince.
If I were a county supervisor I would burn with shame to tell constituents I think it’s good policy to take money from hardworking citizens and give it to a criminal class composed of outlaws, thieves, drug addicts, drug dealers, environmental exploiters and tax cheats.
“I’m spending your money wisely,” I would have to say. Do our supervisors believe such lies?
And please don’t tell us the money comes from the state or from a grant or from the feds, as if it drops out of the sky. All government money comes from its citizens, straight out of our wallets, purses and checkbooks.
Making taxpayers scrimp and save and go without in order to fund a program giving money to people who have done nothing but leech society’s blood for 40 years is a shot to the jaw for every law-abiding citizen in Mendocino County.
Another new program giving cash to meth users has been intro’d by Scott Weiner (D-CA). So, says TWK, start using meth, quit, and they‘ll give you money, but never take meth and get nothing. Tom Hine is going back to bed.
ms notes: No need to fret too much, Tom. The program application is as complicated as the the pot permit application and "Kenny" hasn't got much of a chance of even filling it out successfully, much less getting the permit which would qualify him for anything under the program, much less getting any money from it.
HUMAN REMAINS FOUND: Recovery underway
A Fort Bragg man who read Cold Case Mendocino’s article about the November 2018 disappearance of Lewis Compton searched the area where law enforcement had recovered his vehicle. On Saturday, March 7, down a steep embankment from where the missing man had parked the vehicle, the man, a former schoolmate of Lewis Compton, located “a skull, shoulder bones, and human leg bones”. Law enforcement is on-site today conducting a thorough search of the area.
IN RESPONSE TO C. T. ROWE
C. T. Rowe's articles chronicling his disputes with the Anderson Valley Land Trust contain numerous inaccuracies. Rowe’s Part 4 of 17 quoted from both his and our (Steve and Janet Snyder’s) easements, and in the process leapt to some wholly inaccurate conclusions, particularly on the subject of property use restrictions.
In reference to storage of his RV on his property, Rowe quoted the partial sentence: “The dumping, release, burning of non-vegetative wastes, permanent storage, or other disposal of wastes, refuse, debris, motorized vehicles or hazardous substances are prohibited,” conveniently leaving out the critical remainder of that sentence which goes on to read, “provided, however, that vehicles, building materials, machinery or agricultural supplies required for uses that are permitted on the Property may be stored in the Residential Zones and Orchard Zone.”
C. T. Rowe has never been to our property or he would have seen that our motorhome, pursuant to the restrictions of our own easement agreement, was never parked outside a designated Residential Zone. His own RV, conversely, was stored in his Agricultural Zone, where it was not permitted. The AVLT never asked him to remove his RV from his property; it simply requested that he move it into one of two existing Residential Zones (totaling six acres). Further, when he did not want to move it, he was given the option of bringing his easement into compliance by creating a third Residential Zone, as permitted in the easement. He chose to pass on that legal option as well.
We also noted that he made assumptions about details in Barbara Goodell’s easement, which he admitted that he hadn’t fully read. His accusations of her supposed improper use and violation of the easement over her property are unfounded.
These are but a few of Rowe’s untrue rants against the AVLT and its former and current board members, all volunteers. A conservation easement is a complex legal document designed to ensure that land can be protected in perpetuity from development or other forms of degradation. These easements can provide federal income tax benefit to the donor. Those charged with oversight of these legally agreed-upon easements, like AVLT board members, have a responsibility to make sure those restrictions are enforced. Since Rowe has chosen to write this long diatribe against the AVLT and its former and current board members, it would behoove him to have his facts straight and present them accurately.
Steve and Janet Snyder
MIKE VANDEMAN WRITES:
What Is a Park?
Almost no one understands what a park is. Most people think it is a human playground. A park is simply wildlife habitat. It's the presence of native wildlife (all non-human, non-domesticated species - plants and fungi as well as animals) that makes a park a park, since that is exactly what makes it attractive to humans. It follows logically that the protection of native wildlife and habitat must be the park management's top priority.
Current East Bay Regional Park District management has been allowing invasive plants to take over large areas of the parks, destroying habitat and turning the parks into biological deserts, compared to what they were in the past. They have also fragmented the parks with too many trails, made the trails unnecessarily wide, and allowed bicycles on unpaved trails, massively expanding the human footprint (the distance that people can travel in a given amount of time) and the amount of erosion.
So success shouldn't be measured by the number of people in the parks, but by what visitors and staff learn about conservation biology and how much they put it into practice. Read any textbook on conservation biology, and it will tell you what to do (hint: you won't find trail-building, mountain biking, camping, or "fuel load" reduction/clear-cutting among the recommendations; instead of clear-cutting the parks, we should employ infrared detectors to instantly detect fire). Otherwise, you will wake up a decade from now (or tomorrow) and wonder where all the native animals went.
MEASURE B was an urgent public reaction to the increase of crazy people on the streets of Fort Bragg and Ukiah. In Willits they kept it indoors, or at least aberrant public behavior wasn't as alarmingly prevalent in Willits as it was and is in our two largest towns where drugs and enabling “services” are seldom more than a block away.
BECAUSE police are our de facto mental health providers, it wasn’t surprising that then-Sheriff Tom Allman's indefatigable campaigning to actually do something about the ever greater number of unaddressed, free range mentally ill people got a five-year, half-cent sales tax increase passed to house and treat Mendocino County’s awry citizens. The Sheriff meanwhile managed to also get the funding for a new wing added to the County Jail which will house the criminally mentally ill, many of them, presumably, driven only temporarily batshit by drugs.
BUT NOTHING’S SIMPLE, especially in an expert-heavy county like Mendocino. An 11-person oversight committee dominated by people who are entrenched obstacles to effective public policy was installed to monitor the Measure B project. And they’ve stalled it going on three years now although the county paid mightily for a how-to guide called the Kemper Report that recommended a “continuum of care” consisting of a crisis stabilization unit; a residential treatment center; and a psychiatric health facility.
FOR WHOM? Crisis stabilization means, basically, people tweaked out of their skulls or otherwise deranged. They’ve got to be locked in while they catch up on their sleep, which may take a month. The residential treatment center, also a locked-door facility, would house Mendocino County’s most intractable cases, those persons presently housed in distant facilities for preposterous amounts of public money — upwards of $800 a day or more for up to two weeks at a stretch, the treatment consisting of a mercenary MD specializing in advanced quackery who merely juggles the patient’s failed medication before sending the doomed soul back to Mendocino County where the process repeats itself. These hopelessly lost souls could stay in Ukiah close to family and friends in a local treatment center at a big savings to the county. And the “psychiatric health facility” is a third lock-up for people arrested in the act of flipping out, which we used to have but Mendo being Mendo it was ill-managed as its helping pros, unable to cope with the more volatile crazed, too often had to rely on the Ukiah Police Department to restore order while the pros locked their office doors and took shelter under their desks and Pill Identifier dictionaries.
MORE FORMALLY, “The CSU would be a locked facility and provide a location in which sheriff’s deputies, hospital emergency personnel, and mental health workers could transport people in need of a safe, secure place for up to 24 hours. … The CRT would provide a place for people to remain voluntarily for up to a month while receiving mental health and/or addiction treatment. … The PHF would be a long-term psychiatric facility for people with more intense mental health issues where they could receive the treatment they need over the course of several weeks.”
ALL THREE could be housed in one building, hence former Sheriff Allman’s suggestion that the old Howard Hospital in Willits be rehabbed to do it. A combination of nimbys and a failure to consult Willits have shot that site down, although nostalgics still bring it up as a longshot.
SO FAR, however, nothing has happened toward the sensible housing and care of what seems to be more and more people running off the rails. Philosophically, no one wants to consider that the rails themselves may be 5150, that maybe our society is organized in a way that drives people nuts. But it should be obvious by now that the rails are imploding, that the wheels are coming off the whole show, and the walking wounded are everywhere.
BUT in the Mendo microcosm, it shouldn’t be all this complicated. We’re not talking about mental health care for all that many people, although Mendo manages to piss away $20 annual millions on purely alleged mental health treatment apart from anything Measure B might do.
ALL THREE STAGES of care could be housed in one structure and staffed with kindly, patient individuals who have a calling, even a gift, for working with difficult people. The average cop is a natch, as is the average emergency room doctor and nurse. If the Measure B oversight committee had been heavy on them instead of government donut eaters and volunteer blah-blah artists, Mendocino County would have effective mental health treatment on the way to getting done. But here we are, dead in the rising waters.
HAPPY TRAILS OLD VIC!
I was given Vic in 2000 from the Ratcliff Ranch in Gualala. She'd been a dressage jumper for their teenage daughter when I got her at age 12. She was the smallest horse who ever owned me, and the biggest surprise. She wound up being one of the best horses I ever had and she gave me nothing but fond memories. Funny how pleasing she turned out to be with no expectation at all. Thank you to all the kind folks who helped with Vic's passing on leap year Saturday 2020: Josh Jordan, Jed Adams, Ernie Pardini; and Floriane and Jeane at the stables. Thanks also to Aurora and Arturo Bucio for arranging and assisting me with her burial in a timely, professional, respectful, caring manner, and to Greg Ludwig for saying "yes" without a moment's hesitation, in providing an easily accessible burial spot for internment. I had the old girl for 20 of her last 32 years - the longest relationship of my life and one of the most satisfying! Vic always did what I asked of her… a one-of-a-kind really good mare. She'd been in a few Point Arena Parades, Garberville Rodeo, regular picnics out to the Point Arena Lighthouse, the Whale Bar in Point Arena, and even the Blue Room Bar in Garberville. The old girl got around! Thanks, old Vic, for a nice long ride. Happy trails!
Here's an AVA article I wrote about her back in 2015: "A Horse Walks Into A Bar"
With much appreciation to all you kind souls,
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 8, 2020
JOSE ARELLANO-VILLAGOMEZ, Guernville//Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.
MARGARET ARTLIP, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, disobeying court order.
KELLY GREGORY, Redwood Valley. Fugitive from justice.
BRANDON HANSON, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, child endangerment.
ALAN HOGAN, Willits. Failure to appear.
RAY HOPKINS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KYLE RODE, Eureka/Ukiah. Vandalism.
PATRICIA STONE, Philo. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.
JONATHAN THOMASON, Sacramento/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KEVIN TURPIN, Fort Bragg. Brandishing, failure to appear, probation revocation.
GREAT GOOD FRIENDS
I watched President Trump’s town hall meeting on Thursday. Over his left shoulder there was a brunette back there with a smile on her face and she was one of the prettiest things I've ever seen.
President Trump is due for a haircut, the back of his hair looks like a rooster tail and he needs a trim. But that's small compared to the great things he's been doing and will do.
Two of my great good friends who will be my friends for ever, Tony Pardini and Bobby Mayberry stopped by for a visit yesterday. We talked for about four hours on my porch about people we have known and loved who have gone away. They are great guys and I appreciate them coming by.
God bless Donald Trump.
PS. I got a close look at Nancy Pelosi when she was on TV the other day making a bad comment about President Trump and how he's handling the corona virus. When I was in Japan on the docks in Ukiska there were wharf rats as big as house cats. Nancy Pelosi reminds me of one of those wharf rats with a brown wig on.
I hear that cruise ships can't dock in California with passengers from other countries. Gruesome Newsom takes credit for that but it's a government rule, not a state rule, even though he will try to make it look like it is.
Proposition 13 did not pass and none of us wanted to pass. But if Gruesome Newsom does not like that it didn't pass he will pass it anyway because our votes don't count with him, just like with the death row people. We voted it down and he voted up. That's what we have to look forward to.
STEPHEN ZUNES - HEROES AND PATRIOTS, MARCH 5, 2020, KMUD RADIO
Stephen Zunes is an American international relations scholar specializing in the Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, and strategic nonviolent action. Hear his thoughts on Trump's foreign policy and current activities in the Middle East.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE: WWW.HEROESPATRIOTS.ORG
Heroes and Patriots is a program about national security, intelligence and foreign policy. The show is streamed live the first Thursday of each month, 9-10 a.m. at KMUD.ORG
MARCH SMALL BITES: Local Food News for Mendocino County
The cold north wind causes me to bundle up inside even as the bright sunshine calls me outdoors. We need rain to bring this emerging spring to full fruition, so by all means hang your laundry outside, wash your car, and put a little rain-dance in your step as you haul out the lawn furniture or tackle other "sure to bring precipitation" projects. Re-roofing? Go for it, I say.
Spring is welcoming all sorts of new activities. Fort Bragg Restaurant will highlight the excellent cuisine of the north coast next week. Perhaps you are spring cleaning your body and want to try some bitter greens. Melissa Mancinelli shared her dandelion salad recipe to put some zing on your plate. The latest issue of Word of Mouth is out now and is chock full of all sorts of ways to grow your personal health this season. Pick up a copy now to begin your own spring cleaning.
Word of Mouth Magazine
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
That’s pretty much what we had when I was a youngster. Everybody walked to work in the plant c1826 that made axes and machetes. We walked to the grocery store on Main Street, to school, to church, to the post office, to the hardware store, to the bank, to the shoe store. It was all right there; we didn’t have a car most of the time because we didn’t need a car. NHRR ran a train into town 3 days per week. Then around 1970 the plant closed, and the RR tracks were ripped up. An indoor shopping mall was built in what had been a gravel pit on the edge of town. That’s when everything changed. Even tho I was pretty young the thing that bothered me most is when they began cutting down the apple orchards.
BERN, BABY, BERN!
A FORMER AIDE TO BERNIE SANDERS TELLS A STORY about the old days, when the little-known House Independent used to crisscross Vermont holding town hall meetings.
“It was morning to night, and we’d hit every corner of the state,” the aide recalls. “They would go on and on. I’d say to him, ‘Bernie, it’s okay if we leave a little bit on the table in some of these places. But he wouldn’t hear of it.”
Popular democracy to Sanders is a relationship where everyone gets a chance to be heard. Even though the aide worried that Bernie wasn’t optimizing his use of time, he admired his dedication. “At the end of the day, he’s a good man,” the aide says. “He cares about poor people. How many people really care about the poor?”
But as Bernie’s popularity and influence grew, it seemed all he wanted to do was scale up the regime of town meetings.
“It’s like the Steve Martin movie, The Jerk,” the aide says. “He’s born in a shack. Then, when he hits it big, he builds a shack-mansion.”
In the 2020 presidential campaign, Sanders has done fantastically well. Even after a disappointing Super Tuesday, when Joe Biden surged past him in Texas, Massachusetts and Minnesota to re-seize frontrunner status, Bernie remains very much in the hunt. Heading into contests in states he won in 2016, such as Washington and Michigan, the self-described “Democratic Socialist” at this writing trails Biden in estimated delegates, 670-589. He’s behind, but no one with his politics has ever been this close to the presidency.
But Rolling Stone spoke to multiple current and former Sanders aides who worry the Senator’s personality — he’s phobic about personal confrontation and retains traces of an inferiority complex from his days as an Independent straggler — might lead him to miss a chance at history. They say the campaign, which declined to comment for this story, has, among other things, declined to aggressively confront Joe Biden on issues like Social Security, trade, and the bankruptcy bill.
“Bernie is conflict-averse,” says Matt Stoller, who worked for Sanders for two years. “His staff has always had real trouble getting him to criticize any Democrat by name.”
“Bernie is always better on the counterpunch, on the rope-a-dope,” says Mark Longabaugh, who was chief strategist for Bernie’s 2016 campaign. “When he lands, it’s usually a counterpunch, like ‘I wrote the damn bill.’ It’s hard for him to go on the attack.”
“I always said, if he learned anything from 2016, it’s that in order to win the nomination, to beat the political establishment, you have to take it from their cold, dead hands. You have to go to war with these people,” the longtime former aide says. “But Bernie is acting like he’s running for State Senator in Burlington.”
As a result, even as a staggered Democratic Party political establishment scrambled all year to undercut him, openly signaling a willingness to overturn voter will at this summer’s convention in Milwaukee, Sanders seemed content to keep giving the same speech he’s been giving for thirty years, what some current and former aides affectionately call the “Berniefesto.”
The 2020 primary race is not over. The delegate gap is not that big, Sanders has favorable states upcoming (Michigan will be a key test), and a March 15th debate in Arizona will test Biden, who’s struggled to use all his time in earlier contests. Elizabeth Warren blew up Mike Bloomberg’s candidacy in thirty seconds of a January debate. Bernie should be able to do the same to Biden, a man who leads with his face in verbal combat. But he’ll need to step out of his comfort zone, and soon.
Springfield, Virginia, a chilly February 28. Three hours before Sanders is set to speak, a crowd of seven or eight thousand huddles in an entrance line. There is nowhere to park for a half-mile out. The World Bernie Tour is here.
“Baby Yoda!” a salesman of Bernie merch cracks with a smile, when asked what his top-selling product is. A t-shirt showing a small green alien Bernie, telling all THIS IS THE WAY, has been a popular meme on the 2020 campaign.
For years now, mere conferral of Bernie’s presence creates a box office event. Bill Clinton reached this rare air, as did Sarah Palin of all people, and Barack Obama. Donald Trump is the standard-bearer: If Led Zeppelin sold time-share, it might approximate what Trump rallies look like today. But Bernie is a political star in his own right.
Sanders is an anti-showman. Obama sold looks and verbal brilliance, Palin was Roseanne, and Clinton tried to mate with his crowds. Bernie is an old man talking about Medicare. In an era when America is tired of the bullshit, the absence of a come-on is a smash hit.
“Ice, Ice baby!” says Wilson Johnson, a third-grade teacher from Woodbridge, Virginia. He’s nailing Vanilla Ice in Bernie voice. “I think the one percent doesn’t deserve all the oyce!”
Sanders supporters often tell stories about frustrations with the system that led to epiphanies. In Virginia, one described a lifetime of seeing corruption working for the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture. Another told a story about the devastation that $40,000 in student debt wrought in his life. Everyone has a story. “I had a major surgery last year,” said Fabio Moreiera, of Fairfax. “My insurance company told me for about six months, yeah, we’ll cover it, we’ll cover it. Three days before I got the surgery, they said, ‘oh, it’s not going to be covered.’”
The stories cut across demographics. Bernie crowds, in contrast to reporting clichés, are full of ex-conservatives (and also former non-voters). You’d never guess that a campaign with this reach would be capable of losing anywhere by thirty points or more. But it happened, both that same night in South Carolina, and days later in this same state.
While Sanders barnstormed across the country in what one staffer describes as “the rock concert,” the tectonic plates of the 2020 primary shifted. Tongue-tied, Iraq-war-supporting Joe Biden crushed Bernie in South Carolina, blowing past poll expectations with a 48.4-19.9% primary victory. Two nights later, Biden proved South Carolina was no fluke, winning nine states in devastating fashion, including an amazing 53%-21% rout in Virginia.
Overnight, Sanders went from clear frontrunner to a candidate with a major problem. With rival Democrats no longer doing him the favor of fracturing the field — Pete Buttigieg and Amy “Snow Woman” Klobuchar both threw in with Biden after South Carolina — the Sanders trajectory looked like it might end at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, unless he found a way to expand beyond his base.
The Sanders campaign earlier this year suggested Bernie was about to go after Biden on Social Security and other issues in an Iowa debate, but Sanders ended up in a dispute with Elizabeth Warren instead. As understandable as this was — Bernie had to respond to Warren’s charges that he’d told her a woman couldn’t win — it mirrored a year-long pattern of reluctance by Sanders to engage “Scranton Joe.”
Ask people in and around Bernie’s orbit why this is the case, and you’ll get some depressing answers.
“I think Bernie likes Joe Biden,” says Longabaugh.
“I think Bernie has a really hard time going negative,” says Stoller.
“So much of what informs his relationship with people like Biden,” says the longtime former staffer, “is that experience of being the lone independent and outsider. Back then, if any one of those people treated him with respect, as a colleague, that was enough to ingratiate them with Bernie.”
The former aide sighs. “He doesn’t like Rahm Emmanuel, he doesn’t like Hillary Clinton,” he says. “But he’s okay with Biden, because Biden is nice to him.”
What’s troubling about this is that Biden has long been a central figure in building the modern, corporate-dominated model of the Democratic Party Sanders spends so much time deconstructing.
Biden led cheers for the Iraq War and repeatedly lied about that record (“Yes, I did oppose the war before it began,” he said just last year). On many occasions he’s expressed willingness to cut Social Security and voted for the insidious bankruptcy bill. He championed NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, helped write the atrocious 1994 crime bill, and even bragged that George Bush’s infamous Attorney General John Ashcroft got the idea for the PATRIOT Act from him.
Bernie has gone after some of this, but even on issues like the Iraq invasion, where Biden has an extensive record of damning statements, he’s let his rival off the hook, propping up Biden’s weak excuse of being deceived by Republicans.
“Joe and I listened to what George Bush, Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld had to say. I thought they were lying. Joe saw things differently,” was the strongest statement Sanders could muster, in a recent debate.
Bernie is now using more confrontational language like “Which side are you on?” with regard to Social Security, but it may be too late. (Why did he wait until after Super Tuesday to feature an ad about Biden’s Social Security record?) For most of the campaign, on key issues like this, Bernie seemed anxious to pick “a line of attack that will bring the least amount of blowback” from within the Democratic Party, as Stoller puts it.
Reluctance to cut the cord with Democrats who are “trying to put a bazooka to his head” is part of what finally disillusioned the unnamed longtime aide, who notes that Bernie’s unwillingness to engage people like Biden is “self-sabotaging, but also selfish. It’s not comfortable for him to call out people he likes, but it’s not about him anymore… He has millions of people who’ve put their hopes in him.”
There is a legend being circulated now in the press that the Sanders campaign was somehow sunk by “negativity,” that online rancor and divisiveness placed a ceiling on Bernie’s rise. That this is transparent pundit gaslighting is made clear by the trajectory of Warren. Having built her brand as a progressive years ago by attacking none other than Joe Biden over the bankruptcy bill, Warren as a presidential candidate holstered those attacks against her onetime chief intraparty rival, stressed “unity”, and — got crushed at the polls. If you want to see where a progressive platform without aggressive distinctions goes, it’s proven to be nowhere.
However, as Longabaugh points out, attacking rivals in a multi-candidate field can have unpredictable results.
“People don’t realize how hard this is, standing onstage with someone and sticking a shiv in,” says Longabaugh. “I actually think Bernie has played this pretty well,” Longabaugh says. “He may find it easier to draw contrasts with Biden in a two-way race.”
The reluctance to engage strongly with Biden speaks to the larger issue of Bernie’s attitude toward the Democratic Party. Sanders clearly sees the Party’s flaws and rails against its susceptibility to corporate influence, but has trouble understanding that the current leadership will never truly accept him and his message, unless forced. He’s been reluctant to use his mass appeal as a cudgel, preferring to focus on making a case to the public — a strategy that has served him extremely well, but still.
“You gotta weaponize this shit,” says the longtime aide. “You’ve got to go to these people in the party and say, ‘You can either accept it, or be killed by it.’” The aide notes there’s an obvious example of how to use a populist pulpit. “Trump is crazy, but there are things you can learn from him.”
Sanders staffers speak of the Senator with great admiration. Even those who’ve parted on bad terms indicate that at one time or another, they would have have taken a bullet for the man. All are amazed by the size of the movement he’s been able to build.
The issue is converting phenomenon into victory. There is a passionate debate within Bernieworld over the best way to get there. Drawing stronger contrasts with Biden is only part of the picture.
Some for instance wonder if the candidate has done enough on the inside. The “rock concert” has been miraculously effective in building popular support despite a near-total absence of institutional or media backing, but that doesn’t preclude “walking and chewing gum at the same time,” as one source puts it.
Bernie could have been on the phone every day for the last four years, back-channeling figures like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and even Barack Obama even as he blowtorched traditional Democrats like Biden on the trail. Would that have produced a different result?
Others wonder about the mechanics of a presidential run: Did Sanders do enough? He raised a ton of money, hitting $50 million per month, a massive sum for this kind of candidate. Did he spend it in the right places, in the most delegate-rich regions and media markets? Was/is there enough focus on who will serve as delegates? Was/is enough attention being paid to questions like the bureaucratic structure of the Milwaukee Democratic convention?
Sanders himself clearly views his campaign as an effort to rescue and restore the Democratic Party, at least as he understands it — the party of F.D.R., and the working-class voters it traditionally represented, dating back to his youth. He’s been burning up air miles in an effort to replace the corporate-funded political model with one backed by a movement of millions of people. As he put it to Rolling Stone four years ago, “Our future is not raising money from wealthy people, but mobilizing millions of working people and young people and people of color.”
Some part of Sanders seems to hold out hope that something is left over in the DNA of the Democratic Party from those F.D.R. days, something that can be saved and restored. He seems to have a nostalgic fondness for it, as he seems to for Biden himself.
But this version of the Democratic Party that now has Biden as its face wants to bury him. They’ve smeared him as a racist, sexist dupe for Putin, an amateur and back-bencher who doesn’t understand power and can’t “get things done.”
By getting as far as he has, and raising as much money as he has, Sanders has already demolished half of that argument. To finish the job, he has to show he understands the difference between doing well and winning, against an opponent who pathetically, insultingly beatable. For all of the institutional obstacles before him, despite the wall of media sycophants and the waterfall of fresh Wall Street money against him, Bernie should be offended to be losing to the likes of Joe Biden. But he’s running out of time to get angry.
(This article is by Matt Taibbi, who writes for "Rolling Stone." Eleanor Cooney picked it out of "Reader Supported News" (RSN), with Sunday's date. Thanks, Matt; thanks Ellie! "Bern, Baby, Bern" is my contribution. Taibbi's article gives info I've been curious about and hints at a drastic question: Does Sanders have a thing for losing? After a lifetime of public service, has he been marginalized for too long to visualize himself as President? Does he have personality traits (like kindness, gratitude, compassion, etc.) that disqualify him? Jesuses get crucified. I hate to say this, but the animal in us is still so strong, a leader of men and women must have some beast in him to be selected as chief. He must also be a warrior. He (or she) must be capable of doing harm. That's why politicians often sound fierce and angry while they're campaigning. 'When Elizabeth Warren annihilated Bloomberg in half a minute, she showed precisely the killer instinct we demand (sad but TRUE!) from our leaders. Is secular-Jew Sanders too "Christian" to git 'er done? Jesus Christ, I HOPE NOT!
SCARED OF SANDERS PRESIDENCY, WALL STREET DEMS DOUBLE DOWN ON MODERATES
Prominent Wall Street Democrats have been hatching strategies to ensure their presidential nominee will be a moderate, while also turning their attention to down-ticket candidates in congressional races as a "hedge" against that possibility, people involved with the efforts told Reuters.
IF WE LIVE LONG ENOUGH, we are unlikely to die without having at least considered what it means to bring a new life into being. Whether or not you have children, whether you want to have a child, or dread it, or both, whether you feel confident in your desire never to procreate or find that you are not able to procreate, at some point before you reach the end you will have navigated the question of whether or not to be a biological parent. If you are reading this sentence, it is almost certain that at some point, perhaps as you are making toast in your pajamas, or taking a bus to work while looking out at the great right angles of a city block, or dancing barefoot, or lying awake at night with the pillow hot against your cheek, the modern fantasy of choice and control will whisper to the age old fantasy of "self" knocking about your brain that having or not having a child is a decision. And you will make it. Or you won’t. Or you will feel — with rage, or sorrow, or relief — that it has been made for you. But the fantasy of choice quickly begins to dissipate when we acknowledge that the conditions for human flourishing are distributed so unevenly, and that, in an age of ecological catastrophe, we face a range of possible futures in which these conditions no longer reliably exist.
— Meehan Crist, "Is it OK to have a child?" (London Review of Books)
WHEN WE READ in the Bible books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, etc., that they (the Israelites) came by stealth upon whole nations of people, who, as the history itself shows, had given them no offense; that they put all those nations to the sword; that they spared neither age nor infancy; that they utterly destroyed men, women and children; that they left not a soul to breathe; expressions that are repeated over and over again in those books, and that too with exulting ferocity — are we sure these things are facts? Are we sure that the Creator of man commissioned those things to be done? Are we sure that the books that tell us so were written by his authority?
It is not the antiquity of a tale that is an evidence of its truth; on the contrary, it is a symptom of its being fabulous; for the more ancient any history pretends to be, the more it has the resemblance of a fable. The origin of every nation is buried in fabulous tradition, and that of the Jews is as much to be suspected as any other.
To charge the commission of things upon the Almighty, which in their own nature, and by every rule of moral justice, are crimes, as all assassination is, and more especially the assassination of infants, is a matter of serious concern. The Bible tells us that those assassinations were done by the express command of God. To believe therefore the Bible to be true, we must unbelieve all our belief in the moral justice of God. For wherein could crying or smiling infants offend? And to read the Bible without horror, we must undo everything that is tender, sympathizing, and benevolent in the heart of man. Speaking for myself, if I had no other evidence that the Bible is fabulous, than the sacrifice I must make to believe it to be true, that alone would be sufficient to determine my choice.
— Tom Paine, “The Age of Reason” (1795)
IF THE VIRUS…
Corona and Money
Daney Dawson wrote (Coast Listserve):
If the virus can live up to 12 hours on metal surfaces, think about the coins that circulate in the community, and how many hands they have been through in any time period, and disinfect hands after handling money. Just a thought…
Thanks, Daney, that reminds me: disease contagion isn't like the way if a zombie in a dream touches you you're doomed to become a zombie. It's more like poison, where a smaller dose is less likely to cause a problem, like ozone, say, or WD-40, or iocaine powder. Your natural defenses against the chemically hazardous, biologically virulent and even radioactive natural world do a fine job on the tiny amounts of nastiness in everyone's everyday life, allowing most of us to live until we're so miserable from the ravages of simply being old that we don't even want to anymore.
That isn't to say that you don't get diseases from other people — you do — but rather that if you touch your face after you touch something somebody else touched, who touched something somebody else touched, who touched something a contagious person who coughed into the air above his hands touched, it's not anywhere near as much of a dose as if the plague guy skipped all the chain of middlemen and middlecoins and middleshoppingcarts and gas nozzles and doorknobs and so on and instead stuck his tongue up your nose or tried out harmonica in the music store just before you did, or spat in your ice cream. Nor is it as much of a problem as if they locked you in a cruise ship with thousands of other people who are old and feeble and with compromised immune systems anyway, creating a big bioreactor to maximize mutually infecting each other. There's lots of difference between these things.
Also using antibacterial soap is not the greatest idea, because the lastest newsworthy epidemic is not caused by bacteria but by a virus. A regular bar of soap is fine and doesn't just breed tougher-to-kill bacteria the way triclosan-drizzled soap does. And regular vodka or rubbing alcohol isn't enough to sterilize the harmonica. If you really want to kill a virus, you have to use 90 percent (180 proof) whether it's ethyl alcohol or methyl alcohol, and soak the harmonica long enough to ruin it. Harmonicas might as well be cheap and disposable, like kazoos and pennywhistles and Chinese American flags and electric guitars (which are just as good as $5,000 electric guitars; blindfolded experts have trouble telling the difference).
And one of the big reasons winter is disease season is that everything's cold and germs last longer out there in the cold. It's always winter in your refrigerator and the fridge at the store.
I'll close with recommending to constructors that restroom doors should always open outward, away from the restroom, and they should just push open from that side with a knee or elbow or foot or the bumper on your wheelchair without your needing to grab anything. Otherwise, you go in the bathroom, shut and lock the door, do your business, wash your hands, and then on the way out you grab the thing you and everyone else in the world contaminated on the way in. Also, sad fact, studies have shown that most people don't wash their hands, regardless of where their hands have just been.