- Light Rain
- Rain Totals
- Hops Sacks
- Mendo Drifting
- Masked CEO
- FB Letter
- Cottage Garden
- Blowout Adventure
- Yin Yang
- Beer Relief
- German POWs
- Meals Program
- Ed Notes
- Ukiah Howling
- Men Especially
- May Day
- Yesterday's Catch
- Transcending Catastrophe
- Scotch Broom
- Craig's Flush
- Nepalese Gurkhas
- Gallery Bookshop
- Seeking Tootreese
- Militia Woman
- Flawed Logic
- Piano House
- Assault Ban
- Tailor Strike
- Lockdown Protests
- Deepest Metro
- Flynn Case
- Burma Campaign
- FBI Entrapment
- Plague Rats
- Hill Interview
- Found Object
WIDESPREAD LIGHT TO MODERATE RAIN is expected today, with a few thunderstorms possible in Trinity County. A warming, drying trend is expected over the course of next week, with well above normal inland temperatures likely late in the week. (NWS)
MONTHLY PRECIPITATION for the 2019-2020 rain season, thus far:
- April 2020: 1.60" Yorkville; 1.05" Boonville
- March 2020: 1.84" Yorkville; 1.80" Boonville
- February 2020: 0.04" Yorkville; 0.04" Boonville
- January 2020: 4.76" Yorkville; 3.97" Boonville
- December 2019: 12.96" Yorkville; 7.28" Boonville
- November 2019: 3.12" Yorkville; 2.19" Boonville
- October 2019: 0.04" Yorkville; 0.07" Boonville
YTD (Oct 1 - Apr 30) TOTALS: 24.36" Yorkville; 16.40" Boonville
MENDO FLATTENS THE CURVE (But Remains Well Behind It…)
by Mark Scaramella
State agencies have been “urged” to take "immediate action" to “cut spending and identify savings in preparation for a years-long recession caused by the coronavirus,” according to a recent Sacramento Bee report. They've been directed to cut unnecessary travel both in and out of California, and cancel annual leave and vacation "buy backs.” Departments were barred from entering into new goods and service contracts unless they are coronavirus-related and they cannot make any cost-increasing changes to existing agreements. Agencies also were asked to "use discretion when filling vacancies" and to assess whether additional staff are needed for positions or whether there's flexibility in the existing workforce.
"The severe drop in economic activity is expected to result in a recession, significant decreases in state revenues, and significant increases in safety net programs," wrote Finance Director Keely Martin-Bosler. "The revenue decrease is expected to be immediate, affecting fiscal year 2019-20. Revenue decreases and cost increases are expected to last for several years."
About 3.7 million Californians have filed for unemployment insurance since March 12, Governor Newsom said Wednesday. The unemployment rate could top even the 12% experienced during the Great Recession. Fiscal experts and the Legislature have also warned of days ahead when California can no longer rely on the federal relief currently provided to help states navigate the enormous fiscal consequences of COVID-19.
Finance Director Martin-Bosler declared, “Now it is even more critical than before that state government be efficient, effective, and conducted in the most economical manner possible."
Sonoma State Economics professor Robert Eyler told the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors last week that “it may be 18 months before a recovery begins, and that would come only if the region can avoid the dreaded ‘double-dip’ recession that could result from reopening too soon and fueling a spike in coronavirus cases.” Eyler added that Sonoma County is up to a 15% unemployment rate. More is likely.
Fort Bragg City Manager Tabatha Miller has told the Fort Bragg City Council that she is planning employee furloughs, reduced office hours, outside contract terminations, and more.
Mendo’s own Social Services staffers are granting new food stamp vouchers to a a significant number of newly laid-off employees with few questions asked on the expectation that they’ll provide proof of lower earnings in the weeks ahead when they are not re-hired.
Despite occasional references to pending revenue declines, cost and salary increases and dismally unfocused “austerity measures” being considered, Official Mendo has yet to even attempt to deal with these obvious and severe economic effects of the lengthening virus crisis.
Where are the ad-hoc committees, the task forces, the leadership meetings, the surveys, the invitations for input, etc. that Mendo is so famous for? Where are the questions to County staff about the impact of the coming major revenue reductions for at least the next year?
Official Mendo seems content to let an unofficial, unaccountable and nearly invisible private (non-profit) organization — West Co. — work on amorphous plans for some kind of as yet-undefined phased re-opening of certain parts of the local economy with no deadlines, no priorities, and no specifics which means that Mr. Eyler’s dismal projections for Sonoma County will look optimistic for Mendocino County.
Even with the high-powered microscope we use to watch Official Mendocino County (it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it), we detect no sense of urgency, no appreciation of the extent of the problem, no range of scenarios being explored, no interest in even exploring likely “new normal” scenarios. What is the unemployment rate in Mendocino County? How many businesses are on the verge of closing or filing for bankruptcy? How many businesses have applied for TOT tax deferments? How many people have the now nearly totally shut down restaurant, wine, travel, lodging industries laid off? How many people and businesses are already late on their property taxes? What’s happening to the already beleaguered and frustrated legal cannabis industry?
Mendo has done fairly well in staying on top of the virus prevention and safety issues, but the County's failure to prepare for the coming financial impacts will not only make the obligatory cuts worse, it will move the Board into uncharted territory that will force their hand and require cuts in areas that might have been mitigated if they’d had an early start.
As we have said several times before, the Board could start by showing leadership and cutting their own salaries and perks. They should also go ahead and shut down the costly Juvenile Hall now. A hiring freeze should be implemented on top of a hard look at pending capital projects. The contract with the expensive Sonoma County-based Emergency Medical Services Agency needs to be renegoiated. Etc.
Surprisingly, not one of the four candidates for the two Supervisor seats opening up in January who will have to deal with the current board’s failure to deal with the plethora of painful financial decisions and their aftermath has uttered a peep of complaint or concern about what's about to fall heavily into their laps. Maureen Mulheren, leading candidate for Supervisor McCowen’s seat has instead been spending lots of time promoting a First Friday artwalk. Glenn McGourty, leading candidate to replace Supervisor Carre Brown, has done nothing in the last few weeks but promote an obscure article out of UC Davis about how wonderful Potter Valley grape growers are at saving water.
In a way, most of these people deserve what is about to befall them. But their financial planning failures have implications for the rest of Mendo as well.
Mendo may save the patient(s), but keeping the local economy and the County itself alive, even on scaled back life support, will require much more work — and soon.
PS. As an example of how little planning is being done, we noticed this brief exchange between Supervisor Ted Williams and a Coast businesswoman Friday afternoon:
Facebook Post: “Where do we send proposals for reopening our businesses?”
Ted Williams: “Until a more formal path is offered, firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll work with public health.”
Our well-informed Coastal Supervisor did NOT recommend that the questioner contact West Co. or any County staffer. He did not know when or if “a more formal path” will even materialize. All he could suggest is that a businessperson wanting to know under what conditions they might be able to open should send their request to the Supervisor, personally, and he’ll look into it.
By comparison, Sonoma County has already formed an economic working group working with a medical advisory group to “create best management practices” that would give a business that wants to re-open the ground rules under which they could do so safely so they can prepare for it.
CEO ANGELO WITH MASK
COMPARE MENDO’S OVERPAID LEADERSHIP’S pusillanimous posture with the Fort Bragg City Council which issued the following “Letter to Residents” on Friday:
Letter To The Residents Of Fort Bragg From The Fort Bragg City Council
This is a personal letter from the City Council to residents of Fort Bragg, California.
In the last two months we, the City Council, have been increasingly confronted with the most challenging decisions of our careers as elected officials.
Back when the state- and county-ordered Shelter-in-Place restrictions were implemented, none of us fully understood then (or even now) the personal, social, health, and economic implications of those decisions. Decisions we followed, but did not have any input in making. And while we are motivated, dedicated and proud that these decisions have kept our City residents safe and healthy so far, we realize there is and will be a lasting and heavy cost to the City’s economic well-being.
You may already know that the City’s economic health is entirely dependent on the economic vitality of our businesses, residents and visitors. Nearly half of the City’s General Fund income comes from sales tax and Transient Occupancy (hotel) Tax (TOT). This dependence on tourism is not unique to Fort Bragg, but may cost Fort Bragg more (and may last longer) than the impact to other California cities. This is because recovery is dependent on our small businesses surviving the Pandemic. Some City Councilmembers are business owners and are experiencing unprecedented losses.
Meanwhile, we have been meeting with our City Manager almost weekly, trying to plan for the future. It’s essential we do not completely deplete our City’s limited cash resources due to inaction. Since mid-March we estimated that the City’s General Fund is expending $425k more than it will receive in revenues.
Last year, we set aside a $490k Recession Reserve. These funds were likely depleted early last week and the City is now funding the shortfall with its Operating Reserve, which was $1.47 million and is projected to be $726k on May 6, 2020.
By the end of June, which is the end of the City’s fiscal year, we anticipate a total shortfall of $1.5 million, if no action is taken. Even making reductions now, the shortfall of $1.5 million will only be reduced to $1.4 million and hopefully stop the losses. The truth is we will not truly know the full financial impact of the shutdown for months or even years.
Our only option is to reduce spending, and that includes cutting and furloughing City staff positions without jeopardizing essential public safety services: police, fire protection, water and wastewater utilities. All the simple luxuries like travel, office supplies, etc. were already eliminated early on.
We are heartbroken having to make drastic cuts to protect Fort Bragg‘s future at the cost of City jobs. All our employees are dedicated, skilled, and hardworking residents of our community. They are people and families, many of whom some of us have known our whole lives. Yet, our mission must be to protect the City of Fort Bragg. It is our hope that our actions today will make Fort Bragg stronger so we can hire those individuals back and perhaps expand in the future.
Every city in the United States is grasping at straws to preserve their city’s vitality—we are not alone. We understand that many of our local businesses have already been faced with this same difficult choice between survival and closure, and sadly many of our residents are no longer employed. Our hope is that by preserving a minimum of reserve funds and essential services now, we will be in a position later to help our local economy recover, instead of pulling it down.
Mayor William V. Lee, Vice Mayor Bernie Norvell, Councilmember Teresa K. Albin-Smith, Councilmember Jessica Morsell-Haye, Councilmember Lindy Peters
An old fashioned tire blowout along 128 just outside Boonville today was pretty much the end and the beginning of our first trip away from home in a month. The spare was flat and calling AAA was going to be a big deal today, but an angel, swooped in and took me and the spare to the gas station in Boonville and back, then she directed traffic while I changed it. She is a volunteer firefighter in Anderson Valley. My goal was Petaluma for an employment possibility, which I missed in favor of buying new tires and brakes too!
That all said, it was actually good for both Linda and I to get out of the house and deal with the too real world again! We actually had laughs and fun and made a picnic next to traffic outside the nearest tire place, which was Ukiah. Linda is the best driver ever and the dogs had a blast with all the unexpected get outs and roadside FUN!
COVID-19 PHILANTHROPIC PARTNERSHIP WITH ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING CO.
by Megan Barber Allende Chief Executive Officer, The Community Foundation of Mendocino County
The spirit of philanthropy blooms across our county, evidenced by the response to our COVID-19 Relief Fund. Today we are excited to announce a new philanthropic partnership with Anderson Valley Brewing Company, which will contribute a portion of the profits from three of their local brews to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
When speaking with Kevin McGee, owner of Anderson Valley Brewing Company, he shared his family’s commitment to supporting the community, “We bought the brewery in December, in large part because of the history, and connection, and authenticity it has. We really want to get more involved, to be good neighbors and be part of this community. That is why I reached out to the Community Foundation to find a way to support the COVID-19 Relief Fund.”
The COVID-19 Relief Fund was created by The Community Foundation of Mendocino County to support basic needs of Mendocino County residents impacted by the pandemic.
To date the Foundation has released $70,000 in food relief countywide, and $100,000 for immediate financial assistance. We are continually pursuing funding opportunities to try and bring much needed support to those with the greatest need in our community, with our fire recovery efforts guiding the process on how to quickly and efficiently get support out to our residents. “I know that while Sonoma and the Bay Area often get access to resources, Mendocino County often is overlooked,”
Kevin tells me. “We saw this with the fires, so much of the attention goes to the Northbay but stops before it reaches here. That is another reason we wanted to find a way to focus on supporting Mendocino County. We really wanted to find a good non-profit partner to get involved with, and multiple sources told me the Community Foundation was the best in the area. So we looked online and found the COVID-19 Relief Fund, and it was the perfect fit for what we wanted to do.”
When asked what impact the brewery hopes to make with their contributions, McGee said “There are people far more versed on where the needs are and how to effectively disburse the funds, so we just want to empower them with our support. We trust the Foundation knows what the community needs, so we have chosen to support the Foundation to do this work.” Indeed, we have been working with our non-profit partners throughout the county to determine what needs exist. Food banks have seen their numbers double as families in need arrive in droves. Individuals without access to unemployment or stimulus payments are turning to local non-profits for much needed financial aid. Based on the current economic data about our county, it is possible that as much 55% of Mendocino County are not likely to have the resources to weather the financial impacts of this crisis. Which is why we rely on donors, such as the Anderson Valley Brewing Company and our lead donors, to help those with the greatest need in our communities.
“We plan to be here for a very long time, and we want to continue to support our community,” McGee tells me. “We are fortunate that our people are healthy and doing well, we just want to extend our good fortune to others in Mendocino County. That is why we are allocating a percentage of the proceeds from three of our popular beers — Boonville Gold, Hop Ottin’ IPA, and Poleeko Pale Ale — to support the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.”
McGee hopes others will join him in these efforts, “We are happy to share what we are doing, and it would be incredibly powerful to get other breweries on board to join us in raising funds for COVID-19 relief.” Mendocino County has long been home to generations of locals and newcomers alike. This dynamic blend creates the Mendocino County we love, rooted in history and inspired by authenticity. We are thrilled that our new neighbors at Anderson Valley Brewing Company are joining us in our mission to support a thriving Mendocino County through this pandemic and beyond, and we hope others will join in our efforts. If you take this opportunity to pick up on of these three brews, know that a portion of the profits will go directly into helping your neighbors and friends in need.
If you want to make a more substantial contribution, you can learn more about giving to the fund on our website.
To learn more about The Community Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Fund, visit us at: www.communityfound.org/covid19
RESOURCES: To learn more about The Community Foundation of Mendocino County's response to COVID-19, please visit us at: COVID-19 Updates Resources available to the non-profit community can be found on our website: Non-Profit Resources. Resources available to individuals/families can be found on our website: Individual Resources. To stay informed of developments in Mendocino County, we recommend following the County of Mendocino updates. To stay apprised of the latest information on the virus, we recommend following the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for preventing the spread of the disease. While we still do not know all the facts about COVID-19, the CDC has collected frequently asked questions on their website which may answer many of your questions.
GREAT PLATES (via Supervisor Williams):
"Great Plates Delivered” program – seeking partners
On April 24, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of a first-in-the-nation “Great Plates Delivered” program, a meal delivery service for California’s older adults.
I've been working with staff to ensure we attempt to participate. Not only does the program ensure nutritional meals to seniors, but it can allow some local restaurants to offset current pandemic losses. Margins are slim, with $66/day for 3 meals including delivery. I understand the contract will be between the county (or city) and participating restaurants. Whether terms are weekly or monthly is left to local government to decide. Local government will pay and seek reimbursement. The federal share is 75%. The state will cover 50% of the local share. There is a financial hit to local government (at a time we're struggling), but it's an important program. Yesterday, the state submitted a request for FEMA for funding extension to support the program beyond the 10th. An answer is anticipated by Monday. Interested restaurants are welcome to reach out to me and I'll make the appropriate introductions. If interested, please carefully consider whether you can prepare, package and deliver three qualifying low sodium, low sugar meals per day within the $66 budget. One restaurant from the town of Mendocino has stepped up, citing questions about financial model, but stating they would rather work and be part of the solution than sit idle. I need your help finding partners to cover all geographic areas.
ABOUT ONCE A WEEK, I get asked, "Why do you hate liberals?" I don't. I do, however, loathe the organized Democratic Party which, since FDR, has consistently betrayed liberal principles. Besides, I'm a socialist, not a liberal, but a lot of liberals would be allies for socialist programs like, for instance, Medicare for All which, and here's a typical lib betrayal, the libs like Obama and Biden, chose not to do, instead coming up with ObamaCare, which gave previously uninsured people the "opportunity" to buy coverage, and if you weren't buying you got fined. That perfectly describes the kind of liberalism we get from Democrats. Worse, overall, are the rich libs, who dominate the Democratic Party, making themselves the only alternative to the Republicans as if their group of plutocrats is superior, finally, to the even more vicious plutocrats clustered around Trump. Democrats do not, cannot in their present state, represent an alternative to the overt fascism the Trumpers are trying to bring off.
NO, I'd never vote for Biden. I see him as a lateral move from Trump, but I'm tending not to believe the sexual allegation against him because of its known circumstances, that Biden, just out of the lavish Senate gym and sober, was so far out of control, and feeling so impregnable, that he'd assault a young woman in a public corridor, at least public to the other degenerates in the Senate at the time, that he'd commit a rapid fire rape. Other women have come forward with accounts that Biden was inappropriately handsy with them… To me, Biden has the face of a man who will do anything and, politically, has.
SOME GREAT RUMORS floating around the web. My fave is the one that says Putin has loosed 500 lions on the streets of Moscow to keep everyone indoors. In China, many of the elderly believe that their government unleashed the virus to get rid of them. And in Spain, where walking your dog is a valid reason for being outside, people are renting their dogs to dogless shutins.
EYES ONLY, AV: Sid Frazer has been appointed Acting Principal at the Anderson Valley Elementary School for the remainder of this school year. Former principal, Stacy Anderson, is on a leave of absence.
I'M ALWAYS RELUCTANT to comment on local school matters, which is invariably like walking into the very viper's nest itself, but I'm certainly happy to see Sid at the helm where I think he should have been a long time ago.
GRAB SOME PINE, MEAT! That's a baseball ref for you puzzled non-sports fans. Mike Krukow says it about twenty times a game. Anyway, two dozen meat processing plants across America have been forced to close over the last two months while others have slowed output after workers got sick. Shortages of poultry, beef and pork have appeared around the country despite stores limiting how many hormone-laden chickens and feed lot beef patties each person can buy in order to prevent hoarding, hoarding having exacerbated the shortages. So far as I'm aware, no shortages yet in Mendo's big markets. Trump's invocation of the Defense Production Act to force plants to stay open won't kick in until the end of May, and look for massive worker resistance from the minimum wage people who do this grisly work. So far around 20 meat and poultry factory workers have died with another 5,000 hospitalized with the virus because they work at such close quarters and work at such a furious clip. If they were better known, the processes and conditions in these meat factories would makes lots more vegetarians.
HOWLING IN UKIAH
Coronavirus: Go outside and howl in Mendocino County
It began in Denver. The sounds then migrated across state lines and eventually reached locations all around the world. At precisely 8 p.m., the sounds of human howling rise into the air, strengthened by community collaboration. Residents on the westside of Ukiah decided to initiate the phenomenon between locals a month ago, and it has quickly caught on.
MAY DAY REFLECTIONS
On this May Day, the international day of the worker - I reflect on what we have won and how far we still have to go. Yes, we have worker safety and child labor laws, overtime pay and the weekend, for which we should all rejoice and thank our forebears for the sacrifice and courage it took to get them. But this pandemic has laid bare, if it was not already, the viciousness of the paradigm in which we all still attempt to survive. As Trump invokes the Defense Production Act to compel workers to return to meat packing plants but not a finger is lifted to compel Personal Protective Equipment, and the governors of these states threaten to withhold unemployment insurance from workers who refuse to comply, well one might be justified in asking, What has really changed?
I remember when I was running for county Supervisor the frustration I often felt on many issues.
Take, for example, affordable housing. Of course citizens are correct in asking their local representatives for ideas and active collaboration in solutions, but all solutions must be found within a very small and tight space allotted to us, when we have trillionaires who expertly stash away their wealth in unreachable accounts, then you end up with thousands, maybe millions of people homeless and under-insured. Does anyone really believe these two things are mutually exclusive?
I grieve for all of the suffering this pandemic is causing, but this current system is not worth the humanity we spend on it.
Happy May Day.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 1, 2020
KELLY GOODWIN, Laytonville. County parole violation.
ROBERT HUANG, Hercules/Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
LINDA REYNOLDS, Ukiah. Tear gas possession, failure to appear.
ORDINARY LIFE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC was already a catastrophe of desperation and exclusion for too many human beings, an environmental and climate catastrophe, an obscenity of inequality. It is too soon to know what will emerge from this emergency, but not too soon to begin looking for chances to help decide it. It is, I believe, what many of us are preparing to do.
— Rebecca Solnit
CRAIG STIMULATES HONOLULU ECONOMY
Happy May Day,
It's 4 A.M. on the First Day of May. Spent yesterday drinking beer with shots of French Absinthe at Downbeat in Honolulu's Chinatown, and did enjoy the sumptuous burger with a side of curly fries. As I drained the third can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, the manager says, "Hey Craig, we need to clear out of here. We're going to be raided!!!" Abruptly I dropped four ten dollar bills on the counter, the competition cooking channel that was on the bar television was turned off, the other customers quickly exited, and I shouted over my shoulder "See you later for the next chapter" as I went out the door onto Hotel Street. Ignoring several police cars with their blue lights on, and a glaring cop looking right at me, I headed for a bus stop nearby to get the hell out of there. This is the crazy social reality of Oahu under a wholly unnecessary politically ordered lockdown, which has fucked the Hawaiian economy and saved nobody's life from the COVID-19 molecule surrounded by a layer of fat. Meanwhile, the $1200 stimulus money is in my bank account, the SSA/SSI money arrived this morning as well, the SNAP benefits come in on the 5th of the month, my physical health is excellent, and my mind is basically calm. I am willing to leave Hawaii. The unfortunate policies of the politicians and the utter whackiness of Hawaii Five-O style law enforcement are difficult to ignore. Oh, of course I can hang out at Waikiki Beach and be happy. But that's not the point. Collectively, we have a spiritual mission here. And it is to that which I am referring, when I say that I am available for front line Divine Anarchy.
Craig Louis Stehr
Snail Mail: P.O. Box 235670, Honolulu, HI 96823
NEPALESE GURKHA OFFICERS, WW1
LET'S HELP GALLERY BOOKSHOP
During hard times we count on books, and Gallery Bookshop counts on us.
Become a member for only $35 per year. You'll get $10 credit for every $100 spent on books, access to galleys, and a birthday shopping spree. (Christie Olsen Day will even include a galley in any books you buy online while the store is closed).
Here's the link: gallerybookshop.com
Scroll down until you see "Become a Member."
Hope you'll join--and share this message with your lists.
Until we're together again, all best--
Norma Watkins" <email@example.com>
RICHARD T. JESKE, WHITE COURTESY PHONE, PLEASE
Re: Richard Tootreese Jeske
I am trying to reach this man who grows Tree Collards near where you live. He grows them for Sundial Seed Co. in Willits. I need to get in contact with him to ask him some questions about growing these collards. His name is: Richard Tootreese Jeske. If anyone can let me know his email address or his phone number, I would sure appreciate it.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Locking down a country was a ridiculous stunt.
“Social distance” is bullcrap too.
Yes … we think we understand you don’t like the pandemic. And no-one else likes it either. But the point is, without lock-down, social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine, the whole country could have been as bad as NYC.
Because these measures were effective, they are being attacked as “unnecessary” – the logic is deeply flawed. And to keep the numbers really low, masks are part of the future.
Along with more testing, continued social distancing, temp tests, hand-washing, and support for the isolated. All of this until there is a treatment or a vaccine.
CANADA BANS ASSAULT-STYLE WEAPONS
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the country is banning the use and trade of assault-style weapons immediately. Trudeau cited numerous mass shootings in the country Friday, including the killing of 22 people in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19. He announced the ban of more than 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms, including the AR-15 and other weapons that have been used in a number of mass shootings in the United States.
ARMED PROTESTERS demonstrate against Covid-19 lockdown at Michigan capitol
Hundreds of protesters, some armed, gathered inside Michigan’s state capitol on Thursday as state lawmakers debated the Democratic governor’s request to extend her emergency powers to combat coronavirus.
PROTESTERS ANGRY AT STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS GATHER NEAR THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY COURTHOUSE FRIDAY
As state and county governments seek to fight the novel cornavirus with laws designed to keep people apart, a small crowd of about 50 people gathered in front of the Humboldt County courthouse just before noon today to protest the orders.
SLOUCHING TOWARD RESOLUTION
by James Kunstler
The people of this land have enough trouble in mind — what with livelihoods, careers, businesses, marriages, hopes and dreams circling the drain in the new insta-depression — but let’s hope they have just a little attention left over for the whirlwind denouement of the odious RussiaGate affair, now finally shredding the last defenses of the Deep State’s rogue Intel forces after years of deceit, treachery, and juridical depravity. The beginning of the end is at hand in the malicious prosecution of General Michael Flynn, and, as that’s revealed for the criminal plot it was, all the other threads in this vast tapestry of sedition will unravel.
Why does that even matter anymore, you may wonder? Because so many of our current troubles are mostly due to the culture of pervasive dishonesty America retreated into to avoid the mandates and rigors of reality in the 21st century. It operated in every area of our national life from the racketeering in medicine and higher-ed, to the games we played with our national debt, to the stupendous grift of politics, the futile wars we prosecuted, the idiotic gender conflict and race hustling, and, most flamboyantly, to the lawlessness around the CIA, FBI, and Department of Justice during and after the 2016 election. This was the culture of Anything Goes and Nothing Matters. It has to be defeated if we expect to go on as a credible nation.
General Flynn had been an irritant to the Obama administration in his role as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He disagreed with a lot going on around him and he said so, especially the nuclear deal that was percolating with Iran. Mr. Obama canned General Flynn in 2014. Afterward, CIA chief John Brennan and DNI James Clapper put him under surveillance and played entrapment games with him, using some of the same shady characters (Stefan Halper, Richard Dearlove) who later showed up as RussiaGate players.
In early 2016, Gen. Flynn joined the Trump campaign as a foreign affairs advisor and that summer made the mistake of leading the “Lock her up,” chant to a delirious crowd at the Republican Convention. Perhaps he knew a thing or two about the activities of the Clinton Foundation. Perhaps he also knew what Jeffrey Epstein was up to. Then Mr. Trump shocked the world and won the election. Gen. Flynn was soon appointed incoming National Security Advisor. One can imagine the anxiety crackling through a Democrat-controlled Deep State on the verge of surrendering power to its enemies. The alarm bells that went off through the vast US Intel underground must have been deafening.
In a panic, the Intel Community set in motion a suite of operations to get rid of both Flynn and Trump. On December 29, late in the transition-of-power, President Obama lit up a diplomatic flare by confiscating country retreat properties in Maryland and Long Island owned by the Russian embassy and expelling 35 embassy employees, supposedly as payback for Russia “interfering in the 2016 election.” This prompted a conversation between incoming National Security Advisor Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. That cued the FBI to entrap General Flynn. The news media played along with the preposterous falsehood that high American officials should not communicate with diplomats posted to the USA. The shady gotcha interview about that with Flynn, conducted by FBI officers Peter Strzok and Joseph Pientka, has been dissected to death, so I’ll spare you that, except to say that it was carried out in obvious bad faith.
The court case over all that has dragged out for more than three years now, though anyone could see from the get-go that it was a malicious prosecution. (I said as much more than once in this blog years ago.) Presiding Judge Emmet Sullivan has overlooked flagrant misconduct by DOJ prosecutors, led by Brandon Van Grack. FBI Director Christopher Wray has concealed exculpatory evidence of FBI and DOJ misconduct that favored General Flynn for three years. General Flynn’s previous attorneys from the DC law firm of Covington and Burling — where Mr. Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder is a partner — represented Gen. Flynn poorly, and did so apparently on-purpose. In spite of all that, the case is unraveling thanks to the diligence of Gen. Flynn’s new attorney, Sidney Powell, who cuts through government bullshit like a samurai sword through tofu.
The case is now moving swiftly to a climax, perhaps due to William Barr appointing Missouri federal attorney Jeffrey Jensen to review the matter. Someone, perhaps new Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, has pried bales of previously hidden documents from FBI Director Wray’s sweaty hands. They amount to clear evidence of a scheme to lawlessly railroad Gen. Flynn. If Judge Sullivan doesn’t dismiss the case in another two weeks, he will look like a fool and a scoundrel. He probably cares about his reputation. Any fair reading of this case would have this judge cite the DOJ lawyers for criminal contempt at a minimum.
The question arises: why has Attorney General Barr allowed this to go on and on. My guess is that he thinks the best course would be for Judge Sullivan to be forced by the weight of evidence to do his duty and move to dismiss the case against Gen. Flynn. After all, the objective is to restore the rule-of-law, and that includes getting the federal courts to operate honestly and fairly. If Mr. Barr took the extraordinary action of intervening, it would signify that the court could not be trusted, and that will not restore the rule-of-law. The same applies to a presidential pardon.
In the background looms federal attorney John Durham who has been at work for year looking into the matrix of suspicious conduct around all aspects of the RussiaGate hoax, the greatest scandal in US history. Mr. Barr has been accused of allowing quite a few culpable DOJ higher-ups to remain in their jobs this whole time, including FBI Director Wray, despite the shade thrown on them by the drip-drip-drip revelations of their misdeeds. I think both Mr. Barr and Mr. Trump have resisted the temptation to intervene in order to 1) steer clear of malign RussiaGate collaborators in Congress and the news media, and 2) for reasons similar to the process involving Gen. Flynn — to reestablish the regular wheels of justice and faith in the system.
RussiaGate and all its subsidiary mischief amounted to a seditious conspiracy by several agencies of government against the chief executive. It was explicitly an effort to overthrow a president by illegitimate means. The conspiracy extended to members of congress, who are not privileged with immunity against felony crimes, by the way. The partial list of government officials, current or former, who may be subject to prosecution in these matters should include Barack Obama, Susan Rice, John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein, John Carlin, Mary McCord, Michael Atkinson, James Baker (DOJ), James Baker (DOD), Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates, Dana Boente, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Joseph Pientka, William Priestap, Bruce Ohr, Kevin Clinesmith, Robert Mueller, Andrew Weissmann, Aaron Zebley, Jeanie Rhee, David Lauffman, Senator Mark Warner, Senator Richard Burr, James Wolfe, Rep. Adam Schiff, Eric Ciaramella, Col. Alexander Vindman. Players outside government include Glenn Simpson, Nellie Ohr, Christopher Steele, Stefan Halper, Sidney Blumenthal, Cody Shearer, David Kramer. The following media figures might be named as unindicted co-conspirators: Dean Baquet, Martin Baron, Jeff Zucker, Andrew Lack, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Cuomo, Joe Scarborough, David Corn, David Ignatius, and Ari Melber.
Note: The New York Times has not covered this week’s developments in the General Michael Flynn case. So, there is no record of this epic injustice in the newspaper-of-record. Therefore, it is no longer the newspaper-of-record.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
GURKHA MARCHING, WW2
THE FBI’S FLYNN OUTRAGE
The newest Federal Bureau of Investigation documents in the case of former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn are stunning in themselves. But the totality of Mr. Flynn’s treatment shocks the conscience.
Mr. Flynn in 2017 pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to FBI agents about conversations he had with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Thanks to new documents the feds belatedly turned over to his attorneys, we know the FBI engineered this “crime.” Handwritten notes from former FBI counterintelligence head Bill Priestap, made before the bureau’s interview of Mr. Flynn, ask the following: “What is our goal? Truth/Admission, or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
One of the frustrations of the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative is that the evidence of law enforcement’s abuse of power keeps emerging in dribs and drabs. To grasp the outrageous conduct fully, the Flynn documents need to be added to what we already know. The overall evidence paints a scandalous picture: Having labored and abysmally failed in 2016 to build a case that Mr. Flynn was an agent of the Russians, the FBI and Justice Department changed gears—rifling through his communications, inventing a fake crime, and entrapping him on a “lying” charge.
The latest documents reveal the FBI was officially closing its Flynn case on Jan. 4, 2017. The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team spent 2016 checking “databases” for “derogatory” information on him, running down accusations that he had ties to Russians. They struck out, and the closing document admits Mr. Flynn “was no longer a viable candidate” for investigation. Then, suddenly, also on Jan. 4, FBI agent Peter Strzok sends a text saying: “Hey, if you haven’t closed [the Flynn case], don’t do so yet.” Mr. Strzok explained: “seventh floor involved”—a reference to FBI top brass.
What changed? In late December, Mr. Flynn spoke to Mr. Kislyak. Federal law gives investigators the authority to wiretap foreigners but also requires strict privacy protections for U.S. citizens with whom they speak. The Obama administration superseded those protections and “unmasked” Mr. Flynn in the days following his discussions. They later leaked the classified contents of the call to the press.
The snooping gained them nothing substantive. Mr. Flynn’s conversations were lawful and routine. So Justice Department and FBI officials instead manufactured the absurd theory that Mr. Flynn had violated the Logan Act of 1799, which bars citizens from engaging in unauthorized negotiations in disputes between the U.S. and foreign governments. No one has ever been convicted of violating the act. This week’s handwritten notes show that among the FBI’s hopes in interviewing Mr. Flynn was to “get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act.”
The real goal was to trap him. Remember, the FBI didn’t need to ask Mr. Flynn what he’d said to the Russian ambassador; they had a recording. The only reason for an interview was to coax Mr. Flynn into saying something at odds with that transcript. They worked hard at it. Then-Director James Comey has previously bragged that the FBI went around the White House legal counsel to make sure Mr. Flynn had no lawyer present.
This week’s documents include an email from former FBI lawyer Lisa Page debating ways for the bureau to get around its standard formal admonition against lying, suggesting agents just “casually slip that in” when talking to Mr. Flynn. A document from former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says that he urged Mr. Flynn to conduct the interview without a lawyer, and that the FBI deliberately dispensed with the admonition altogether.
The abuse then continued under former special counsel Robert Mueller. Mr. Flynn initially explained that he misremembered what he’d discussed with the Russian, a highly plausible claim. But Mr. Mueller’s lawyers pursued him to near penury and threatened to prosecute his son. He succumbed and agreed to a plea deal.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this week’s documents is what isn’t in them. The FBI expresses no concern that Mr. Flynn was “colluding” with Russia or otherwise threatening national security—supposedly the rationale for the FBI’s intrusive investigation. By this point, it just wanted a scalp, a means to keep its broader narrative rolling.
The FBI exists to investigate crimes, not to create them. Some might add this shameful behavior to the long list of the FBI’s “collusion” malfeasance: the surveillance-court abuse, the Steele dossier, the leaks. But the Flynn case is something different. This isn’t the FBI playing fast and loose with sources or the courts. This is law enforcement abusing its most tyrannical power—to strip citizens of their reputations, their livelihoods and their liberty.
The FBI’s treatment of Mr. Flynn lives up to Americans’ worst fears. Attorney General William Barr was right to order a review of the case. Now someone must be held to account.
(Wall Street Journal)
RATS KILLED DURING AUSTRALIAN PLAGUE, 1902
APRIL 2019 article from the NY Times regarding presumptive Democrat candidate Joe Biden's contribution to the annals of male chauvinism and the makeup of the current Supreme Court,
(Excerpts From Anita Hill’s Interview With The Times)
Anita Hill said she was not satisfied with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call expressing regret about the hearings in 1991.
Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times
April 26, 2019 — Anita Hill spoke by phone this week with The New York Times, reflecting on the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 that put a spotlight on sexual harassment and treatment of accusers.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who announced his presidential bid on Thursday, oversaw the hearings as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Biden called Ms. Hill a few weeks ago to express regret over what she endured. Ms. Hill discussed that call and her feelings toward Mr. Biden in the interview. Here are excerpts from that conversation, transcribed by The Times and lightly edited for content and clarity.
On first impressions of Biden and the consequences of the Thomas hearings
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, NYT Congressional Correspondent: I’d like to ask you about your interactions with Biden. If you could just walk me through — when was the first time you encountered him? I don’t know if you met him before the hearings? What was your impression of him then — and then as it ended?
Anita Hill, Professor At Brandeis University: The first time I met Joe Biden was really at the hearing. We had talked on the telephone prior to the hearing.
Stolberg: Did he promise you anything at that time in terms of the way he was going to conduct the hearing?
Hill: One of the things he did was to go over what supposedly would be the process and that was that I would testify first in the morning and then that Judge [Clarence] Thomas would have a chance to respond. As you know, that didn’t happen that way, and that was merely the first disappointment that I think I had — was that the process got swept up in [inaudible]. Thomas was able to offer a rebuttal before I had ever said a word, and there was an attempt by the Republicans to introduce my statement before I had a chance to present it.
Stolberg: I’m wondering what your impression was then of Biden going into the hearing and how it changed coming out of the hearing.
Hill: I think my impression going into the hearing was already disappointed with the fact that he had changed the process. That was how I went into the hearing. I was skeptical at that point and it didn’t change. It didn’t change because, again, I felt that over and over again there were negotiations going on with the Republican members of the committee that really diverted the process from what I thought had the potential to be a fair hearing of my concerns, as well as the concerns of the other witnesses who were not called to testify but who had information to share.
Stolberg: Did you feel that he lied to you about that?
Hill: I leave you to say whether he lied or not. What he told me turned out not to be the case. If you want to call that lying, that’s fine. I think, at the very least, I would say it was misleading.
Stolberg: In 2014, you told me that you felt he had done “a terrible job,” and I’m wondering if you can just elaborate on that.
Hill: I can elaborate on it by saying that [inaudible] as the chair, I think there were moments when he could have exercised control over the process itself, over the range of information that the Republicans were presenting. So, for example, when there was no objection when [Senator] Orrin Hatch started waving a copy of “The Exorcist” during the hearing. There was no response from the chair until well into a whole lot of things that had happened, including a press conference where Senator [John C.] Danforth brought forward a physician who had never interviewed me and accused me of erotomania.
Hill: And let me be clear about this, and I hope you’ll print this. This hearing and all of what went on was certainly about me, because I was the witness, and it was also about the other witnesses who wanted to testify and who were accused of all sorts of things from the Senate floor by the Senate — by the committee members in terms of their charges — but were not called to testify. But it is really about the debasement of the process.
Hill: The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for a person to sit on the Supreme Court in a lifetime appointment is especially a place where people want the process to have integrity. And what happened was that the process went completely off track, it was not managed well, there was no transparency; there was no clarity as to what information was being shared. And I will just say this: It set the stage — from 1991 — set the stage for what happened in 2018.
Hill: It set the stage for what people now think are sham hearings, which are supposed to be about truth and about finding the best people for positions for power, testing their character and fitness for those positions. But instead it set the stage for, “Let’s just make political choices that are aimed at more protecting our positions as senators.” More about protecting a calendar which they were saying over and over again, “We’ve got to get this done quickly because we want to move on.” It was more about that than assuring the American public that you have the right people in these offices and on the Supreme Court.
Stolberg: And do you hold then-Senator Biden personally responsible for all that?
Hill: I hold him responsible certainly for what happened in 1991, and to the extent that many of the same things that happened in 1991 followed in 2018, there is a connection. There is clearly a connection.
Stolberg: One of the big differences between your hearing and the Kavanaugh hearing [of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh] — and I assume that’s what you mean when were referring to 2018 — is that you actually had corroborating witnesses but they were not allowed to appear. And Biden has made the case throughout the years that they didn’t want to appear — he’s made it seem as though they didn’t want to appear. I wonder what you think of that.
Hill: I think you just have to refer to what those witnesses have said, or those potential witnesses have said. They have indicated they were ready and available and willing to appear, over and over again. They came into the process on their own; I didn’t invite them in. These were people I didn’t even know. So they came forward to testify on their own. I don’t see any evidence that they then said that they didn’t want to testify other than what we’ve heard from Senator, Vice President, now ex-Vice President Biden. I can only look at what I know and the fact that I heard from the witnesses. But let me just say this: One had to wonder, if he is correct, why they changed their minds about testifying. I would suggest that they changed their minds because they saw a flawed process where they weren’t going to be heard and they might end up being destroyed. I don’t know that that’s the case, but I think that’s a reasonable conclusion to reach — and he was in charge of the process.
Stolberg: You told me in 2014 that the net effect of all this was that it created a “he said, she said” situation which did not have to exist. I wonder if you still feel that way.
Hill: I feel that way. Again, let’s keep in mind that that hearing was an opportunity for the Senate to show how women who come forward to tell their story about experiencing harassment or sexual assault or rape, how they should be given a fair hearing. Very often what happens is that the people who are opposing them are in fact doing the same thing, trying to create a situation where it is one person’s word against the other. And so they’re trying to limit the amount of evidence that can be presented. This is not unusual. So let’s don’t think of this as just what happened to me in 1991. Let’s think about what is happening to women who are coming forward even today and how the Senate could have been a model for the best way to do this. It still remains a model for what many people — and I’m one of them — think is the worst way to do these kinds of hearings.
On receiving a call from Biden
Stolberg: Has he apologized to you?
Hill: Senator Biden and I have had a conversation, and I think he said to me exactly what he has said to the American public. And again, you can describe that as an apology, but what I’m more interested in is what are our leaders going to do in the future? What happens in the future?
Stolberg: When did you have this conversation?
Hill: It’s been a few weeks ago.
Stolberg: Did he call you?
Hill: We had a telephone conversation.
Stolberg: Do you consider it an apology?
Hill: Again, I keep saying this. The focus on an apology to me is one thing. But there needs to be an apology to the other witnesses, and there needs to be an apology to the American public, because we know now how deeply disappointed women all over the country were about what they saw — and not just women. There are women and men now who are just — really have lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence.
Hill: I’m hoping that all of our leaders are going to be looking at this and thinking about ways to move the country forward.
Stolberg: He last month said “to this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she showed by reaching out to us.” I wonder how you reacted when he said that to the public?
Hill: Well, right now I react the same way. I react to that by saying, “When the next instance occurs, can you come up with another way? When will you be able to come up with a way to address what happened in 1991?” Because we need leadership to take the mantle on this.
[Later in the interview]
Stolberg: I do want to ask you a little more about the phone call, because it has, after all, been 28 years. So I’m wondering: Did it come out of the blue? Were you surprised? Did he have an aide arrange it? How did it happen?
Hill: Oh, yeah. I was surprised when I was first approached that it would happen in that way. It was — somebody approached me about, would I accept a phone call. And again, you’re right, it has been 28 years, and I had in fact moved on, not necessarily expecting an apology and have moved on really, as I had said earlier to being forward thinking about accountability in the future. So we’ll see, I mean, there are some issues that are going to be coming up, whether it’s the Violence Against Women Act, or any number of issues that are going to be on the table around gender equality and just basic fairness. And I think we need to hold all of — everybody who wants to run for president today should have in their minds and on their agenda addressing the concerns of the women and men who have come forward in the movement that has occurred, the #MeToo movement, since 1991. Not just about 1991.
Stolberg: Did you express to him the things that you have expressed to me, on this phone call, about the shortcomings in the process and how you do hold him responsible?
Stolberg: And how did he react to that?
Hill: Well, you know, I think you can ask him those questions, I’d rather you ask him.
Stolberg: It sounds like you were left unsatisfied by the conversation.
Hill: I won’t deny that my sense of the conversation is also influenced by the whole series of events that have happened in the last few weeks since we talked. But I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, “I’m sorry for what happened to you.” I will be satisfied when I know that there is real change and real accountability and real purpose to correct the issues that are still there.
Hill: I guess if I have to look at them in the totality, what I’m still wanting to hear is a full understanding of how as a leader he will hold himself — and then be able to hold others — accountable for this behavior.
Stolberg: And by “this behavior,” you mean?
Hill: The kind of behavior that happened to me, the process that he was in charge of, the kind of personal behavior that he has been accused of. All of it.
Stolberg: O.K., so those accusations are troublesome to you, what Lucy Flores [Ms. Flores is the former candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada who said Mr. Biden touched her in a way that made her uncomfortable] and others have said?
Hill: Oh, absolutely. As I think it is to a number of people.
On the Kavanaugh hearings
Stolberg: That sort of brings us back, in a way, to the Kavanaugh hearings, and I wonder if you could just draw out for me a little bit more of the parallels that you see between these two hearings.
Hill: Well, one of the first things I would note is that there was no process in place in the Senate to address this issue, there was nothing. There was no rule — now that could be because the senators themselves do not hold themselves accountable. The Senate has no process for these kinds of claims. But in the Judiciary Committee, where we know that this has happened before and we know now with two examples how challenging it is for women who have a complaint to come forward, there needs to be a process. There needs to be something put in place. It needs to be thoughtful.
On Biden’s candidacy and comparisons to Trump
Stolberg: So you know that he is going to announce his candidacy for president. Do you think that his conduct in 1991 or since is disqualifying?
Hill: I don’t think that I am — Uh. I’m biased [inaudible] entirely to say whether everyone should think it is disqualifying. I’m really open to people changing, but it’s not enough to say, “I couldn’t have done anything then.”’ What I want to hear from him, and what I want to hear from all of the candidates, is that this problem that we are experiencing now, that we are more aware of than ever before, problems of sexual harassment and sexual assault, women’s integrity to protect their own bodies — that this is a big problem. This is a problem that should be a problem of major public concern. I want to know what every candidate is going to do to address it.
Stolberg: Would you vote for him?
Hill: If he can address this problem.
Stolberg: But he has not yet?
Hill: What we have is, we’ve got 20 people running already. So there may be better choices.
[Later in the interview]
Stolberg: So, it is possible that the situation will come down, in the end, to a choice between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and I’m wondering, what would you do in that case?
Hill: What would I do in that case? I don’t know what you mean.
Stolberg: Who would you vote for?
Hill: I don’t really have any control over that. But let me say this: What we should be doing in the interim is to make sure that whoever is the nominee differentiates him or herself from Donald Trump in respect to these issues.
Stolberg: Do you think it will be difficult for Biden to do that, given his history?
Hill: I don’t know. I’m willing to give him the chance. And I hope he will step up.