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Off the Record (April 22, 2020)

BERNIE GOES FROM VIABLE TO PATHETIC: "Today I am asking all Americans, I'm asking every Democrat, I'm asking every independent, I'm asking a lot of Republicans, to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse to make certain that we defeat somebody who I believe, and I'm speaking just for myself now, is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. I will do all that I can to see that that happens Joe [Biden] And I know that there is an enormous responsibility on your shoulders right now, and it's imperative that all of us work together to do what has to be done. Not only in this moment, but beyond this moment, in the future of this country."

SPEAKING for myself, Biden, given his horrific record, and his obvious senility, is insupportable. It's not enough to vote for Biden simply because he isn't Trump, but that’s what us lib-labs are being asked to do. The Democrats do this every election cycle. You have to vote for our candidate because he isn't the other guy. Trump is undoing himself, but I don't find him any more repellant than Biden or any other big shot Democrat you might name. I kinda liked Warren, actually, and might even vote for Biden if she were the vp pick. But she won't be because she's "too far to the left" for the Democratic shot callers who, basically, are the same billionaires pretty much who also support Trump except for an array of depraved show biz celebrities. Anyway, things are moving so fast in the direction of serious chaos there might not even be an election. The Joint Chiefs might be running the show by November. PS. It's our plutocratic system that puts up people like Biden and Trump. Jeez, I thought everyone knew at least that much. 

HAVING been through a medical exam where a doctor tested my remaining cognitive abilities, the medical man said, "You passed." Hoping the pathos wasn't audible, I asked, "With flying colors?" He paused, "You did fine." I really wanted flying colors, and not those faded, hanky-looking Tibetan peace flags you see around hippie enclaves. I wanted high praise that I was fully capable of my duties at Boonville's beloved weekly! The senility exam was pretty basic — count backwards from twenty, mom's maiden name, fill in the hours on a blank clock, ass from elbow. But watching Trump's press conferences I wondered if he (or Biden) could manage a passing grade?

THE OTHER DAY, we asked County Auditor Lloyd Weer, “If the schools are closed and reduced under a limited “distance learning” approach with a significantly reduced ADA, do they still need their full property tax allocation? Wouldn’t their budgets be reduced in accordance with the three months (approx) closure? Can’t the county juggle these allocations under the circumstances considering that other revenues are probably going to be substantially reduced?”

WEER replied, “Yes, interesting times for sure. Currently, under the Teeter Plan method of Property Tax Apportionment, the Counties must distribute to all agencies (County, Schools, and Special Districts) 100% of the secured property taxes billed. No apparent wiggle room here. I believe relief from this requirement would have to come from the state legislature or the Governor himself. More to come on that soon I hope.”

DEPT OF NO SURPRISES: Obama has asked the Democrats to unite behind Joe Biden via a 12-minute video released Tuesday morning. You could almost hear the orgasmic sigh of deep relief from the national Democratic Lib-Lab as Obama, lying through his famous pearlies, said that Biden represents "the right kind of leadership guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace." Put a fork in US. We're done.

TRUMP seems ever more delusional and generally out of control. Last week he launched into a Queeg-like rant about how the media are persecuting him. Which most of them are, of course, but we've got a CRISIS going here, Donny. Suck it up and quit whining about the New York Times and Rachel Maddow. But Trump can't help himself, He is now certifiable. And if you don't think that deranged monologue was evidence enough that the president is nuts, Tuesday he came right back out and accused a bunch of governors of "mutiny" for resisting his "total authority," elaborating incoherently with, "Tell the Democrat Governors that 'Mutiny On The Bounty' was one of my all-time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!" 

SAFEWAY, UKIAH, last Wednesday was out of a lot of stuff — tomatoes, toilet paper, macaroni (except for those fancy noodles in little boxes from Italy.) Most shoppers, and there weren't very many, wore masks. Some wore masks and surgical gloves. I was admonished by my checker to "keep your social distance, please sir." I was about four feet from a large man with a cartload of vodka and a stack of frozen meals. I wondered if all that alcohol gave the guy a kind of built-in disease repellant. The checker was unmasked but wore gloves. A couple of kids outside the store wiped down each cart. A more or less normal-looking guy walked in with a leashed pit bull and was told to leave, which he did, protesting, "This is my comfort animal." A friend of mine told me she avoids Safeway "because there's always something crazy going on there," which is why I prefer it, that and that it's unionized. Friend says she shops at the Co-op and Albertsons.

MANY YEARS AGO, I was chatting with an uncle when I happened to mention that Albertson’s was owned by Mormons. Unc became quite agitated. He jumped to his feet, and fairly shouted, "Goddamit, are you sure about that, Bruce?" I was sure about lots of things at a young age, sure about nothing in my dotage. Unc continued to rage. "I hate those bastards. I've always shopped at Albertson’s. Jesus Christ, I hope you're wrong about them owning that place. I've spent thousands there!" He explained that his first job in Arizona was in a little town controlled by Mormons. "They were always sneaking around spying on me," Unc said. He liked a drink, Unc did, and he was a two-pack-a-day man. The Mormons certainly wouldn't have approved of him.

BERNIE said Wednesday it's "inappropriate" not to vote for Biden. I guess it's appropriate to vote for a guy who is obviously senile and politically is barely to the left of Trump, if he is to the left of Trump. And Elizabeth Warren came out for Biden Wednesday, and, like Bernie, after campaigning against him as Trump Lite. Rubbing it in big time, Warren said, "In this moment of crisis, it’s more important than ever that the next president restores Americans’ faith in good, effective government—and I’ve seen Joe Biden help our nation rebuild. Today, I’m proud to endorse Joe Biden as President of the United States.” 

UH OH. A “cascading series of events” is disrupting the US food supply chain in a way which could impact millions of Americans, so says a guy who knows, Tom Vilsack, former Secretary of Agriculture. Virus outbreaks have forced processing plants to close and supply is redirected away from major consumer sources such as closed restaurants and schools. "You start ending school lunch programs, universities shut down, food service shuts down… At the end of the day you've basically got a tremendous amount of the overall supply of food having to be redirected,” Vilsack said.

SO, MR. WIZARD, what would you do about the homeless camp vexing the City of Ukiah? As I've said many times, people unable or unwilling to help themselves can't be negotiated with, much as you don't negotiate with three-year-olds. Contrary to the virtue-signaling helping professionals and non-profit brigades who live off human misery, it is not humane to leave the walking wounded unsheltered. For their own good, and for the welfare of the much larger community, the collected Hastings Avenue people should be moved outtathere to the Ukiah Fairgrounds, as per the City of Ukiah's wishes. At the Fairgrounds they can be safely housed. But, you say, they won't go. Of course they won't go because in any supervised context they can't huff dope and drink themselves into daily stupors. Or act crazy. So you arrest the people who won't go and park them at the County Jail. Or in a hospital if they're certifiable. Problem solved. Until the next camp appears. Repeat process as many times as necessary. Call me naive, but I really don't understand why the homeless "problem" is so perplexing. Sorry to impose the habituals on the cops, but supplying the necessary impetus is what the cops are for, and what they've been doing on a daily basis with zero help from this county's inept authorities.

SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS: Ideas for local economic recovery? Shopping local is more important now than ever. What can we do to support local businesses in a period the IMF head foresees as the worst global economic downturn since Great Depression? No matter one's perspective on the health emergency response, the economic impact is very real. The County will see substantial losses in sales tax, transient occupancy (bed) tax and potentially property tax, so unless state or federal programs backfill lost revenue, county services will be negatively impacted. (I highlight this to temper suggestions of local tax cuts in a time we might be forced to substantially reduce services just to balance the budget.) The county is contracting with West Business Development Center to assist with small business loans (debt isn't a solution, but might buy time). Ensuring those eligible for unemployment are assisted where necessary is crucial. Helping businesses with online commerce and curb-side for non-essentials when orders allow? What else can we do to help, both local government and as community?

INTERESTING story in the current New Yorker on Doc Fauci, and are we ever lucky to have this guy to offset the steady flow of misinformation from our dear leader.

EXCERPTS: “Fauci has long supported the development of an alternative: a universal influenza vaccine, which would provide lasting defense against all strains. ‘Similar to tetanus, a universal flu vaccine probably would be given every ten years. And if you get one that is really universal, you can vaccinate just about everyone in the world…. I have been saying for eight, ten years that we should make a list of microbes and try to develop a vaccine for one thing — usually that last one — and it’s a waste of time. Every time we get hit, it is always something we didn’t expect. So instead of predetermining what it is you’re going to prepare for, make universal platforms….. I give the appearance of being optimistic. But, deep down, I just do everything I possibly can, assuming that the worst will happen, and I’ve got to stop the worst from happening’.”

JACOBIN bills itself as a radical left mag, but get this craven bullshit: “Still, if Biden and Democrats of his generation could cravenly sell out their principles for political expediency and pretend to be something they’re not once, they can do it again, only for the good. For the first time in a long time, the direction things are heading mean the politically expedient thing is also the right thing to do. And if they’re as desperate as they claim to find out how to get young, left-wing voters on board, they’re now being expressly told how to do it. The ball’s in their court."

DON’T BUY IT, young, left-wing voters. Cave now and you'll be caving the rest of the way. November's a long way away, and Trump will beat Biden if there's an election. Build a left alternative to these vampires. The Democratic Party under people like Biden, Pelosi, Schumer and the rest of them is only a stutter step different than the lunatic presently at the power levers.) 

ROUGHLY 22 MILLION Americans have filed unemployment claims in the four weeks since the plague closed large parts of the U.S. economy, with more layoffs to come. The weekly unemployment numbers from the Department of Labor showed an additional 5.2 million Americans filed claims last week. Just under 17 million workers applied for aid in the three weeks ended April 4. Before the pandemic swept across the nation in March, the largest number of Americans to ask for unemployment benefits in a four-week stretch was 2.7 million, back in 1982. “It might take until mid-May or longer before we see claims declining,” University of Michigan labor economist Daniil Manaenkov told The Wall Street Journal.

THE LA TIMES says its ad base has evaporated, vanished into the coronavirus mists, with a bunch of people being furloughed this week. The paper said it will also suspend 401(k) contributions for non-union employees.

MEANWHILE, at America's last newspaper of any consequence, a slew of our outlets have closed and circulation is down a bunch. Ad base? What ad base? The ava depends mostly on subscriptions and stand sales.

THE PLAGUE has begun a terrible, open-ended series of unpredictable events, and when the top guy encourages his legions of camo-clad diabetics to go full-on lawless, well, here we go. Added to looming "civil unrest" as food banks run out of food, supply lines break down and at least twenty million people have no money or hope for relief, Mendocino County is going to be a good place to be in the months to come. 

THE AVA COMMENTED RECENTLY: “We gather that Supervisor Williams doesn’t think CEO Angelo’s self-designated title of ‘incident commander’ is leadership enough.” 

WILLIAMS REPLIED: “My concern is not about the CEO’s leadership. With all due respect, I believe the public expects the board to step up in this time of disaster. It’s easy to place blame for any fallout on the CEO, but the buck stops with the Supervisors. We ended another meeting before lunch. What’s our economic recovery plan? What are we doing to ensure businesses get help with loan paperwork and individuals get help with unemployment filing? If scaled up testing is key to protecting life and the economy, considering our testing is low per capita relative to neighboring counties, why aren’t we talking about action? What has the board done to proactively recruit for a qualified public health officer, knowing our interim officer had a pre-agreed end date, with new job, house, family and life in San Diego? Bed tax, sales tax and likely sales tax will be impacted. How will we balance priorities given the loss of revenue? There is plenty of policy work for the board to engage in now, work that doesn’t place demand on already overwhelmed staff resources.”

SUBSEQUENT to the above, in an on-line comment, Williams wrote: “Carmel and I actually have a good working relationship. She understands my job is to represent the people and I understand I’m a huge pain in the ass.”

SAD that the guy feels it necessary to apologize for simply doing his job. The prob, Supervisor, is your four colleagues are not particularly competent to do the people's business, and your CEO has anger management issues, periodically going off on underlings to summarily fire them without explanation. Must be a swell work environment at the upper levels over there on Low Gap.

PLAGUE BLIPS: Erik Frampton, 46, was hired as a temporary worker at a refrigerated morgue trailer in New York City after his art framing business shut down. Frampton explained how the morgue operation had run out of body bags and space, causing the bodies to rip through temporary bags or bed sheets. "Almost all of the remains still have their tubes in them, especially the ventilator connections. Most of the index fingers clearly read 'Covidean'," he said. The job pays $75 an hour. Frampton said they write a check for your first day, in case you don't come back.

IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, home state of the distinguished Elk journalist, Paul McCarthy, armed demonstrators chanting the state's motto, “Live Free or Die” showed up on the Governor's lawn to demand the lifting of the state's quarantine. McCarthy seems to have chosen exile.

A LOT of the demonstrations around the country to "Re-Open America" have been fomented, or certainly influenced, by Alex Jones of InfoWars, a lunatic website popular with remedial readers which, truth to tell, I thought was a comedy show when I first looked in. Nope, it's true American fascists yearning to put their boots to millions of faces, especially dark ones.

LOTS OF RE-OPEN DEMONSTRATORS have been chanting "Fire Fauci," as if his caution was arbitrary, that medical science's most visible spokesman had pulled off a national hoax. "Can't fight ignorance," as me dear old mum used to say. Wrong, Mum. If we don't fight it, we die. "Viva, Fauci!" 

THE PRIMARY take-away from the excellent PBS documentary on the Roosevelts is can't miss obvious — how far the quality of American leadership has fallen. Here we are at a crucial juncture of our history and the political choice is between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

AMONG the millions of unexpected consequences unleashed by the virus is shortages of CO2, without which beer brewing is not possible. 34 of the 45 ethanol plants that produce this key ingredient have closed for virus-related reasons.


Looks like we won’t get a good hard shot of Bolshevism after all. Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race.

Well, why not? His work is done, his dreams fulfilled: The economy is in a shambles, most workers are unemployed and we’re short on toilet paper. America’s wealthiest socialist can now return to his three mansions in Washington and Vermont.

Bernie Sanders may be gone, but debris from the Comrade In-Chief’s campaign will surely linger. Unlike supporters of other candidates, those who gave their hearts and dollars to Bernie will wallow many years in joyful, agonizing, sweet despair.

His failed campaign is a triumph; his blue stickers will remain until they’re all that’s holding bumpers onto Priuses.

Yard signs will proudly stand, signals to the world that though the war is over, the tattered remnants of Bernie’s glorious fight lingers on in the bosoms of courageous Sandernistas.

To be a leftist is to live in romantic delusions. They love believing they are desperate, glamorous rebels locked in a mighty struggle against the forces of tyranny.

The blue Bernie posters are battle flags, and will soon become frayed relics reminding the world of a noble stand by a bold martyr in a valiant effort to bring Utopia to us all.

Did his campaign fail? Only temporarily, their hearts cry out, knowing history bends toward top-down government control over citizens happily subservient to program administrators who live 3000 miles away.

A Bernie sign is a proud emblem of that commitment, a display of unity among the first brave souls willing to surrender their freedom for security (and lots of free stuff).

The rest of us are merely relieved to know statues of Bernie won’t be erected around the country and that Ukiah won’t be re-named Sandersgrad.

by Tommy Wayne Kramer of the Ukiah Daily Journal

ED NOTE: Tommy Wayne Kramer's schizo column on Sunday describes Bernie as a Bolshevik but then rightly recommends a couple of local socialist upgrades — adequate funding for Ukiah-area firefighting and hazard pay for food store clerks. 

Kramer's a smart guy, and a very good writer. His Sunday column enlivens our intellectually entombed county like no other. I know he reads a lot so I'm recommending a crash course in the isms via Edmund Wilson's seminal primer, "To the Finland Station" where, if the columnist reads with the understanding he's capable of, he will conclude that Bernie, any other place in the world, would be a social democrat, placed comfortably in Franklin Roosevelt's Democratic Party and even more comfortably placed among the sensible sectors of today's Democrats. Which is why Bernie has again reverted to the tame precincts of mainstream liberalism as represented by Democrats.

FDR, some people still argue, saved American capitalism from real Bolsheviks of which Bernie is definitely not one. Comrade Kramer, if he reads with even half-attention, will learn the diff between a communist, a socialist, a fascist, a Bolshevik, a Menshevik and so on. A funnier version of basically the same primer is George Bernard Shaw's "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism…" 

Bernie in the Bolshie-Lenin-communist-socialist context, would be a Menshevik, the democratic socialist political party murdered unto oblivion by the Bolsheviks. 

These aren't distinctions without a real difference. They matter because, as our country descends into widespread chaos and the accompanying civil pain certain to ensue, life and death arguments over who gets what and how much will be back again with the same life and death intensity it was fought over during our Great Depression. 

THE EDITORIAL in Sunday's Press Democrat was titled, "Newspapers vital role in the time of coronavirus." I don't think so. Newspapers are too slow to keep up with events. It's all social media now, or on-line sources. The PD is the last place I'd think to look for plague updates, or even ordinary information.

WE AWAIT more complete coverage of that awful “One World: Together At Home” fundraiser for medical workers and the World Health Organization Saturday night by our resident music critic David Yearsley. But in the meantime, let’s just say we’ve heard better performances at local karoake bars than most of those alleged “stars.” Lady Gaga got off on the wrong foot by getting the rather simple chords wrong for ‘Smile.’ (Does anybody even care about getting harmonies right anymore? Compare it to Nat King Cole’s version if you dare.) Mick Jagger’s song selection, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” was, ahem, inappropriate; he should have retired years ago and his aging fans obviously can’t get no satisfaction no matter what he does; that goth kid who sang ‘Sunny’ could barely be heard (and the chords her accompanist played were off too — compare it, if you dare, to Bobby Hebb’s original, or Urbie Green’s amazing trombone instrumental version.). Elton John at least can at least still play a decent piano, but I had no idea why he sang at all. John Legend is over-rated to begin with. Eddie Vedder drowned himself out with his groaning reed-organ accompaniment. Stevie Wonder is still Stevie Wonder, but he’s getting old. Why, oh why, did Jennifer Lopez choose to sing that mawkish “People Who Need People”? At least two of the pianos were badly out of tune. It sounded like most of them were just winging it with embarrassingly underprepared renditions of whatever they performed. Camila Cabelo, the girl who sang the Satchmo standard, ‘What A Wonderful World,’ with Shawn Mendes, was the only really listenable singer in the bunch, but the tune is too schmaltzy and their slow ballad tempo so maudlin that it had no business in the lineup. (Satchmo could only pull it off because he was Satchmo.) Taylor Swift is pretty at least. If Mad Magazine was still around they’d probably have renamed it “One World: Shoulda Stayed Home Together” or something. Apparently, it doesn’t matter to modern audiences though: the thing reportedly raised almost $130 mil for a good cause. We wonder how much more could have been raised if the performers had taken it seriously, or if they even can. (Mark Scaramella)


[1] In small institutions like this, everybody knows who is responsible for what.” – BINGO. Back then, your local community hospital was a COMMUNITY hospital. Its Board of Directors was made up of the local bank president, local industry leaders, and a few senior doctors. If you were concerned about the care your mom was getting, you could go and speak with one of the Directors. And they’d take care of it. Now, your local hospital is owned by a for-profit chain out of Houston, responsible only it its shareholders. If you are concerned about the care your mom is getting, you get voicemail.

[2] If someone comes along to steal your pot, they are unlikely to want to kill you. They take the pot and leave. They want the pot. You can take preventative actions like checking people you hire and simply keeping a low profile to minimize the problem. When someone chooses to shoot at police, they are not looking to steal things. They are looking to hurt or kill. The police have little defense such a hiding out or being careful who they contact. They go into bad places in uniform as that is their job. The only defense against criminals who are hateful towards police is the surety that the police create of a heavy response. The outrage that criminals feel about getting burnt for their behavior is always funny. Criminals, as part and parcel of their defective thinking, seem to see themselves as heroes because they don’t restrain their self-indulgence and it always irritates them when they are treated as the petty parasites they are instead if the freedom fighters they see themselves as.

[3] People who are secure will reject universal basic income, people living hand to mouth will take anything at this point. Privilege will show in the comments, as they can afford the time to debate and present the what-ifs. Either way you’re held captive by a capitalist class of psychopaths.

[4] Truck drivers have become more important than neurosurgeons. Farmers are more important than Trump and Pelosi and anyone else who draws a government wage. The person keeping the coffee going at a Pilot truck stop, if it is open, is more important than the CEO of any corporation. And yet… Growing food whether on a large farm or in your backyard isn’t simple. The farm to market to dinner table system is complex and brittle. The same is true for the insulin that millions must have. We are accustomed to relatively instant gratification. That is also gone. The “center isn’t holding”.

[5] Just finished re-reading the Grapes of Wrath, and one of the scenes that struck me was when the big producers were slaughtering hogs and burying them, so they wouldn’t go to market and depress the price of meat. And Steinbeck wrote of the anger that was growing among the migrants who were starving and watching their children fall dead. They saw these pits being guarded by men with guns so they couldn’t get the food. And now we see reports over the last 2 weeks of immense amounts of milk being dumped down the drain, and chickens being slaughtered and buried, and vegetables dumped into pits, because the original buyers have defaulted on the orders, and no one has the brains to re-route the food to the food banks.

You can’t take all that milk and re-purpose it to cheese? You can’t sell it at a discount to the 1000 cars lined up at a food bank? The milk boards and government don’t want to see the milk price collapse? People aren’t going to forget what the gov’t really thinks of them.

One Comment

  1. Lee Edmundson April 23, 2020

    Dear Editor,

    I ‘m turning 70 next month.

    When I was 18, in 1968, I was arrested and had my right arm broken by Chicago’s finest at the Democratic Convention. I was “on charges” (one a felony) for two years before being offered a plea bargain, which I readily accepted. I was defended by the ACLU.

    In 1972 I was campaign manager for the first Afro-American candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for the district that encompassed my home town of Birmingham, Alabama, We were blown away in the McGovern debacle/Nixon landslide.

    Fast forward: in 2000 I had the distinct honor to ‘debate’ the late Alexander Cockburn in Town Hall in Fort Bragg regarding the forthcoming Bush v Gore election. Alec’s position was that there wasn’t a “dimes worth of difference between them” (borrowing a slogan from George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign). I argued there was a world of difference between the two on virtually every aspect of government. Check the record to see which one of us was on the right side of history on that one.

    I supported Bernie in the primaries of 2016 and held my nose and voted for Hillary in the general election.

    This cycle I supported Mayor Pete and then Bernie again, although Warren ran a close second.

    Now it’s “cookie time” as we used to say in military school.

    In my dotage, I have become more of a pragmatic realist. In the words of James Madison, “If all men were angels, no government would be necessary”.

    Joe Biden is not the ideal candidate. His VP selection will make a huge amount of difference in establishing the credibility of his candidacy, Nevertheless, he has my vote this November.

    “You can’t always get what you want” — Rolling Stones — “But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”. Just ask Ted Williams.

    Anyone touting voting for anyone but Biden — or suggesting sitting out the election this November — is merely a cipher for the Trumpublican Party.

    These are hard times, and the hardest decision we have to make is our vote for President. The fate of our Republic is at stake, nothing less.

    So please leave your Purity Tests at the door, close your eyes, hold your nose, and vote Biden for president this November.

    “But if you try sometime, you just might find…”. Our future is up to each and every one of us. Don’t blow it this time around.

    Solidarity Forever.

    PS: April 22nd was Vladimir Lenin’s 150th birthday.

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