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Off the Record (July 22, 2020)

JOE BIDEN, LEXICOGRAPHER: "I do think we've reached a point, a real inflection in American history. And I don't believe it's unlike what Roosevelt was met with. I think we have an opportunity to make some really systemic change." 

RECOMMENDED VIEWING. "McMillions," now playing on HBO, a fascinating deconstruction of the great Monopoly scam that took the hamburger franchise for millions. On a tip, the FBI bumbled its way to tracking down the perps, en route encountering some memorable characters. A second HBO production is called, "Bully, Coward, Victim: The Story of Roy Cohn." No one who knows anything about the ultimate scuzzball lawyer will be surprised by anything Cohn is shown doing in this film, but I was unaware until this doc that Cohn was as connected as he was to so many of the other people gnawing away at this country's foundations — big time criminals, Trump, show biz stars, and politicians of both parties. That a guy like Cohn can not only prosper but be celebrated, is one more indication that the final curtain is coming down.

EVEN HILLARY suspects that Orange Man is not leaving. She appeared on The Daily Show last week to warn that Trump might cling to power if he loses in November. "I think it is a fair point to raise as to whether or not, if he loses, he's going to go quietly or not." She went on to claim that Trumpers would probably try to sab the vote, and that the Rooskies might also pitch in to help keep Putin's favorite white man in office. 

SERIOUSLY, is it wholly bad that the schools are closed? Monitoring my grandchildren's functioning without time spent squirming in their classrooms, they don't seem to miss the alleged socialization that the edu-bloc claims is vital to the formation of the functioning American. Looking around the American room… socialization seems to have eluded a good slug of our citizens.

FEDERAL CONVICT Daniel Lewis Lee was executed last Wednesday night, his last words being, "I didn't do it." And maybe he didn't murder an Arkansas family of three that included a 9-year-old girl, but we do know that Lee suffered the added cruel and unusual punishment of having his execution delayed off and on until the Supreme Court finally voted 5-4 to kill him. Two more guys got the federal midnight needle after Lee.

A MAN NAMED Nick Cannon has rightly been fired by ViacomCBS for talking like a nut, live, reciting the Farrakhan catechism to another intellectual, a rapper called Professor Griff. Among other things, Cannnon described white people as “evil” and “'rapists” and as “true savages.” (Dude! Nobody's perfect!) Elaborating on the evil theme, Cannon explained, “Black people are the true Hebrews,” going on to recite tired anti-Semitic tropes about the Rothschilds running the world, that white people “are actually closer to animals, they're the ones that are actually the true savages. You can't be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people. When we are the same people who they want to be. That's our birthright. We are the true Hebrews.”' 

GARY GARRELS, senior curator at SF Moma, despite a groveling apology for his non-offense, has resigned. His crime? An obviously ironic aside during a meeting with artists when he said, “Don't worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white male artists,” going on to say that not to collect white male artists “would be reverse discrimination.” For this he dies?

TO THIS HERE philistine, the major prob with SF Moma is that its collection is wayyyyyy too heavy on trendo-groove-o dreck, as perfectly illustrated by that English hustler who arranged a bunch of thirty pound rocks in a V on the floor of one whole Moma room and called it something like, “Sierra Visions.” That fraud probably walked out the door with a cool mil, I'm sure.

155 CASES Of COVID in Mendocino County as of Tuesday last week, but so far no hospitalizations. So, resume school? Asking around among parents with school age children, I haven't talked with one yet who is even considering it, although one mom said she'd consider it if and when effective inoculation arrives.

NEVER HEARD of Bari Weiss, but I don't read the NYT, not out of disdain but because I'd rather not devote an hour a day to the lib-lab version of events, the audio version of which I get anyway via NPR while on my morning walk. But having read Weiss's whinging resignation from the paper, I don't feel like I've missed much. She says she was persecuted for her conservative views by her fellow hacks. The lady's awfully sensitive to criticism for a person with a major media platform, and her opinions seem to me ho hum-predictable, like much of the NYT and its audio arm, NPR. Maureen Dowd, on the other hand, is always interesting and a snappy writer, too. But the only national journalist I go out of my way to read is Matt Taibbi. All-in-all, and trying to be objective here, I think the Boonville weekly is indeed, “America's Last Newspaper.”

IN AN INTERVIEW with The Atlantic magazine (speaking of boring journalism), Dr. Fauci called White House efforts to discredit him “bizarre. Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that. When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president. I think the problem is too important for me to get into those kinds of thoughts and discussions. I just want to do my job.”

NO SOONER HAD WE NOTED the complete absence of the four current Supervisor candidates — Maureen Mulheren, Mari Rodin, Glenn McCourty, Jon Kennedy — from County affairs or board meetings that candidate Mari Rodin showed up on Tuesday with a major contribution to the public dialog by telling the Board (via Zoom) that they should do more to reach out to the “Latinx community” (i.e., Mexicans) concerning the virus situation. Of course, Supervisor/Board Chair (and former Willits Spanish Teacher) John Haschak enthusiastically agreed. Ms. Rodin didn’t offer any particular proposals beyond the substantial Spanish language materials and videos and announcements already being issued. Philo-based KZYX is doing their part too by broadcasting several Spanish language shows to their two or three Spanish-only listeners in the County. (Mark Scaramella)

I TRY to stay out of custody cases. Away from them, I mean, as a journalo-subject. The ones I've written up were egregious, in that one side was clearly the victim of the relationship, the other side just as clearly the villain. The ones I haven't written up were so lost in mutual contempt, so obviously psycho on both ends I came away almost happy that they'd found each other. But there’s often no story because the marital combat is of zero interest to anyone beyond the couple themselves, lost in their obsessive hatred for each other. Beyond sad for the children, of course, but not newspaper fodder.

MY BIAS is for the woman, maybe out of the unfashionable notion that men, because they're men, should take the high road and be forgiving, gallant even, that women, despite recent advances in legal equity, are almost always at a disadvantage, a double disadvantage if the man is wealthy and vindictive, the kind of lowdown fellow who not only grossly mistreats his wife however shrewish, but has abandoned his child except for an occasional manipulative message of the "Remember how much fun we had that time…"

THIS PARTICULAR WOMAN on the receiving end of bad male behavior grew up on the Greenfield Ranch. She remembers her childhood as idyllic, her adult life with the man she married less than idyllic, but she stayed with him for 16 years. Their child is almost 16 and sees what she sees, and she sees her father as the man who tried to weaponize her to launch against her mother, with whom the 16-year-old lives. By choice, because dad has a new wife and a new child and is, as they say, moving on without his first wife and first child and first life. (Hardly ironic that few custody cases involved adolescent children, is it?)

MOM wants sole legal custody, but a Contra Costa County judge, apparently trying to split the diff, awarded joint custody without asking the 16-year-old daughter her custodial druthers. Daughter went straight to mom in Ukiah with no objections from dad who maliciously refuses to grant mom full custody. Mom could use some help from the county's helping pros in sorting out her custody prob but, with the exception of a woman at the Youth Project, has been refused, summarily refused, impolitely, unprofessionally refused. 

NOT A BIG deal in the big world of much larger woes, but interesting to me as an example of bad judging. The daughter should have been asked who she wanted to live with, but dad went into court with an expensive and connected lawyer and comes away with the joint custody neither he nor his daughter want. Mom just wants him over, but to bring it off she needs to get her case in front of a Mendo judge, and she needs a Mendo lawyer to get there. We'll see.

ON THE SUBJECT of judges, like every other voyeur in the country I'm following the Ghislaine Maxwell case. Ms. M. is now in federal custody, and you can almost hear the global cheers that that custody is austere. And apparently incompetent, since it's the same custody that managed to lose Maxwell's boyfriend, or whatever he was to her, to suicide while on suicide watch. No need to rehash the charges against Maxwell because everyone knows the charges are varieties of pimping for her whatever, Epstein, master pimp to an international cast of Lolita-pervs. 

THIS WOMAN is already guilty of being rich and the daughter of a legendarily bad man, a bad media man worse than Murdoch, if that's possible. Ms. Maxwell has been denied bail on the grounds that she's a flight risk, which begs the question, Why was she in the U.S. when she was arrested? With her money she could have seriously hidden away some place beyond the U.S.'s extradition reach. Which she should have done because no way can she get anything like a fair trial in the context she's in. Ordinary pimps are in and quickly out of jail all the time.

BEFORE JUDGES at all levels are sworn in, they should be required to spend a month in jail, preferably a county jail, where they would instantly conclude, assuming they're more or less human, that the experience doesn't have to be as demeaning as it is. Maxwell's judge ought to spend a month in a federal iso cell, for instance, to get an idea of the circumstances he's ordering her into. A month or so in jail, would teach judges that a majority of their fellow prisoners don't require incarceration, that most of them are inside because they don't have the means to await judgement on the outside. Finally, judges might not be so blase about sentencing people, especially young people, to such long terms if they had first-hand experience of lock-up. Veteran convicts I've known have recommended short sentences for most offenses, but short, tough sentences — ten years, say, hard labor, no tv sets, mandatory class work. My late friend Danny Martin did lots of time in all kinds of prisons, and he said if being locked up had been a lot harder he would have tried to stay out.

FORT BRAGG'S MAYOR WILL LEE and councilman Bernie Norvell will run for re-election, but the council’s skilled and popular city manager, Tabatha Miller, is applying for work elsewhere. The mayor lists the town’s progress this way: “We have adopted a balanced budget 2 years in a row; hired an amazing City Manager; City Attorney; and Chief Of Police; completing the largest public works project in the history of Fort Bragg - Wastewater Treatment Plant at $18 million; developing the Mill Site Reuse Plan and LCP; Millions in grants; 60 units of housing with Danco; facilitated thousands of Covid 19 tests locally and many many other projects.” 

REQUIEM FOR THE NORTH FORK CAFE: “Well, the North Fork Café is history now. 26 years. I would like to say a few things to the community of Round Valley about it. The North Fork Café has always been a labor of love on the part of my dear partner, Denny Lopiano. He sank every bit of his energy and talent and heart into it from the very first day. He worked 60 hours a week, always cheerful, sometimes a little tired but always game to go on. His talent made it the warm, welcoming, delicious place that it was. He made it Covelo’s living room, a place to celebrate, socialize, harmonize, romanticize and generally live better. He welcomed everyone and anyone in to his generous arms. He trained up many people in the art of cooking and serving. He cooked his heart out and introduced us all to more good wine and beer than we can remember.


The North Fork has never been much of a money maker. Denny is more interested in people being happy than making riches. I too, helped out a little by working my job and being the steady ship through stormy financial waters. But we both did this because we felt that Round Valley needed the North Fork, needed a nice place to go, a place to listen to music, to play music, to chat, to dine, to have parties. Round Valley deserved the North Fork. Our community should have the North Fork. It was a place to be proud of, right here in our remote corner of the world, with so many wonderful people, but so many problems. It was a refuge and a reminder that life can be good. And we are certain that our community is with us right now, grieving the loss of our community hearth.

I think what saddens me the most about this is the fact that it is likely that nothing will replace those buildings. Three businesses, the heart of the commercial part of town, leveled. Every time a building in Covelo burns, it is not replaced. Gaping holes remain, vacant lots of weeds and trash. It says volumes that no one has either the resources nor the will to rebuild infrastructure in the center of town.

If there is one legacy that I would like to leave this place, it is this: I would like to see the town come together to raise up some new buildings out of the ashes. Invest in our town. This town deserves better than vacant lots. Our kids deserve better than an empty downtown. Don’t let the anger and depression and destructive impulses win. I have no idea how it can be accomplished, but I really do hope that Round Valley can turn this corner.”

— Tekla Broz, Covelo

ON LINE COMMENT on the loss of Covelo’s popular North Fork Cafe: "So sorry for Denny, Steve, Holly, and Dave Nixon, who purchased the old PO building, the Poli’s, and everyone else who lost their livelihood in this terrible fire. Fortunately no one was hurt. I just hope this doesn’t happen again, when will this stop? We definitely need to gather together as a community put our heads together to move Covelo forward. There are a lot of great and smart people in this town and it can and will happen. Covelo strong!"

MATT LEFEVER WRITES: Alright my friends, I finally did it. I started my own Mendocino County news site. After coaching from Kym and Paul, I'm going live. In the beginning, the rollout will most likely be slow and buggy but I appreciate your support and interest. Thank you to all those that have supported my posts and articles and I look forward to helping our community communicate across our vast country.

WE AGREE WITH AVA website commenters who suggest that if the County ends up buying the abandoned nursing facility on Whitmore Lane in South Ukiah, that at least part of it would make a cost-effective Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF/‘Puff’):

OF COURSE, this particular good idea would have to go through the Measure B Committee where, as we have noted before, good ideas go to die. (— ms)

PULL QUOTE I saw some warm and fuzzy somewhere: "Forget having a healthy dose of cynicism — trusting others could add years to your life, a study suggests. Men and women who believe in the kindness of strangers are likely to live longer." Trust but verify, as the sage advised, but still and all most strangers intend no harm. It's the people you know you should keep an eye on. Studies suggest all kinds of things because, it seems, there's endless money available to universities for them. How about a study of the obvious, that the curtain is ringing down on the old assumption of more stuff for more people forever? Recommended reading as a guide to the general disintegration  is Nathaniel West's great novel, ‘Day of the Locust,’ an apocalyptic vision of LA published in 1939 but works well as applied to the much grander slo-mo apocalypse unfolding now. The author described citizens whose eyes are "filled with hatred" whose collective disappointments culminate in the burning of the city. And top this as a description of the prevalent vibe: “Tod didn't laugh at the man's rhetoric. He knew it was unimportant. What mattered were his messianic rage and the emotional response of his hearers. They sprang to their feet, shaking their fists and shouting.” 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has perfectly described the global state of affairs. "Covid-19 pandemic has been likened to an X-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built. It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: The lie that free markets can deliver health care for all, the fiction that unpaid care work is not work, the delusion that we live in a post-racist world, the myth that we are all in the same boat."

"FARRAKHAN'S decades of virulent bigotry towards Jews, whites and the LGBT community has been documented at length by the Anti-Defamation League. Even the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center has declared him a 'deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay' extremist who leads an organized hate group." 

YES, YES, no argument there, but the Southern Poverty (sic) Law Center as "far-left"? More of a mainstream scam, I'd say, with a huge tomb of a corporate office and an endowment of millions piled up via scaring the credulous. The above description of Farrakhan is hardly breaking news. Ditto for the other hate groups catalogued by one of the richest poverty centers in the world.

AN ON-LINE PETITION is calling on Trader Joe's to end its "racist" branding of food products as Trader Ming's and Trader José's for products from other countries. The great cleansing has now spilled over into self-parody, as an academic crackpot somewhere is also in the news aiming at a re-boot of Adam's Apple as too gender-specific a ref to the phallocracy.

“I AM NOT among those mourning the passing of John Lewis, who unlike his fellow leaders of SNCC back in the Sixties who continued the fight against racial injustice, decided to join the system and do what was required of every new member of Congress, regardless of their color or their gender, genuflect to the Israel Lobby and pledge allegiance to Israel. Lewis did that, unfailingly, not being even able to bring himself to sign on to HR 2407, a bill sponsored by Betty McCollum (MN) that would protect Palestinian children that several other members of the Black Caucus have done.

Back in 2004, when Cynthia McKinney was running to regain her old House seat in Atlanta, Maxine Waters flew in from LA to campaign for her and I interviewed her there for my radio program. Where was her fellow Atlantan, John Lewis? Not to be found.”

(Jeff Blankfort)


(1) I note that the comments here regardless of position taken, are generally from intelligent people. However, that isn’t the case with the vast, vast majority of the public including the voter category. Most cannot name their two state senators. Most cannot locate a given country on a map. Most are clueless of who Churchill was and why he might be important. Most have zero idea of what communism is and its sordid history of massive deaths. Throw in what the Federal Reserve does or what inflation really is and there is no avoiding disasters upon disasters. Typically it takes some 1500 hours of training to cut and style hair (so I’ve read somewhere) but it takes zero training to become a parent. It takes zero intelligence to vote. Am I a snob? Do I give a damn? We are on a downhill run with a national collapse going on. There is no solution. The deal is done. The question is how bad the pain will get? I’m thinking really, really, really bad.

(2) Micro-Brew is up by 200%, and blackmarket too, but government Nanny State weed is obviously taking some sort of hit due to infrastructure changes needed to certify Safety for government workers making marijuana for profit. Non-profit growers are obviously not going to be taking a hit as they have steady clientele booked months ahead and on waiting lists. All in all I would say that COVID-19 has boosted industry sales and expectation of increased sales across the world one hundred fold, at least. Recreational drugs like marijuana are big time industries when lockdowns are instituted. Zero Hedge was uploading articles at the height that supported the recreation drug increase for industry. Slowdowns are temporary as sellers have to adjust sales to suit the climate, and environment. The modern law of armed conflict (LOAC)1 supports the following maxim: if enemy combatants can be put out of action by capturing them, they should not be injured; if they can be put out of action by injury, they should not be killed; and if they can be put out of action by light injury, grave injury should be avoided.

(3) Blaming the calamity that has been on the make for a few generations now on the orange man seems silly to me. The problems in this land are far larger than a single unlikely chief executive and his greatest faults are shown in his inability to change course, not his inability to maintain it. His few good ideas were the ones which were a large departure from business as usual in the post-WW2 era and they were the ones most kneecapped by the power centers and administrators. We are staring down the barrel of strife and hardship here at home, perhaps made into ethnic strife thanks to the rise of Wokeness and the victory the critical theory that forms the core of it in the universities and, now, the other power centers. His incompetence is a real fact but I believe it hardly matters relative the full picture. The most competent man alive wouldn’t have been able to keep the Titanic from sinking after it had already hit the iceberg. The tragicomedy is larger than suburbia, after all.

(4) I think Trump is a victim of his own success and counted heavily on the polls that kept saying he was going to lose. Melania always looked like she’d had it with him and who could blame her? She signed up to be the trophy wife and is now stuck with being First Lady and shielding her son from publicity. I don’t think we can escape and I don’t think it’s Trump’s fault this happened on his watch. He was good at what he did prior to the Presidency — sleazy real-estate deals, reality TV star whose only line was You’re Fired!, selling crap, cheating on his wife, going bankrupt, and having his face in front of a camera with ridiculous theories. This is a man who never held public office of any sort prior to 2017 and is being blamed for policies that were either put in motion or already in place before he came to office. And the more the media screams, the easier it is for the culprits who created this chaos to stroll away without blame.

(5) The pathologies are there for all to see, including a manhood that isn’t worthy of the name as witnessed by a seemingly endless parade of women claiming sexual abuse by powerful and not so powerful men, which inevitably leads to a question: where were the men in these women’s lives, you know, the fathers, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, that should have delivered knuckles and boots to the chins and nuts of those doing the abusing? It is an unbelievable dereliction, maybe historic, because when in history have we seen its like? Since when have sports coaches and movie-makers held such life and death power that they couldn’t be brought to heel by well-placed punches and kicks from outraged male relatives of these women? And what police force and judiciary worth their salt would dare prosecute such guys as protect their women-folk? A flapping-fish economy, a judicial branch that likewise isn’t worthy of the name as evidenced by a deluge of investigative malpractice, prosecutorial misconduct and a politically partisan judiciary that doesn’t even pretend to be objective. Is justice blind? Maybe, but not in a good way. 

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