Off the Record (August 5, 2020)

FORT BRAGG has extended its eviction moratorium until September 30th on a 4-1 vote, Bernie Norvell dissenting. It's probably not safe to assume the county will also extend its moratorium on evictions but, given the grim economic news, many more Mendo people will not be able to pay rent and we think the supervisors should act to avert as much local suffering as is within their power to avert. Congress's delay in enacting additional national bailout assistance adds another layer of anxiety to that millions are already feeling as they watch the ship of state heading for the rocks, its captain crazy, his crew drunk. 

IF CONGRESS doesn’t act to extend an extra $600 in weekly benefits for unemployed Californians, state legislators say they’re ready to jump in to help. The expanded federal unemployment benefits, which began in April, are set to expire Friday. That will reduce the average jobless payment in California to about $338 a week. (Mendo rent averaging $1200 a month…) The House passed a coronavirus relief bill in May that would extend the $600 weekly checks through Jan. 31, but the Republicans propose to cut the aid to $200 a week.

RESPONDING to a report of a vehicle parked in the northbound lane of the Albion Bridge, early the morning of July 27th, a CHP officer soon found the body of 72-year-old Michael Joseph Reilly beneath the bridge, an apparent suicide. Reilly was a resident of Albion.

MORE AND MORE TALK about Trump not leaving office. And more and more looking like even an equivalently unfit character like Biden poised for a landslide victory in November because even hardcore Trumpers are deserting their orange hero. 

LAST WEDNESDAY, Attorney General Barr refused to answer a House Judiciary Committee question about the authority of a sitting president to move the election date. Barr replied, “I haven’t looked into that question, under the Constitution.” Asked if he believed the election will be “rigged,” Barr said he had “no reason to think it will be” but claimed there is a high-risk that mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud.

WHICH IT WON'T. Think about the mail ballot process then try to figure out a way to corrupt it. It might be possible to swindle a Mendo school board election where a hundred votes can determine an election outcome by applying for ballots in the names of non-voters or even non-existent voters. You've got the ballots. Then what? Think about the logistics of even minor voter fraud with all its hassle of collecting the ballots, forging signatures to them and sending them in. Imagine doing that several million times for Trump. Not possible. In the recent history of elections in this country there has been almost no detectable mail-in fraud. What there has been is a few individuals voting for deceased relatives on the basis of, "It was his dying wish." 

THIS ISN'T TO SAY there won't be trouble. There's a shortage of poll workers, which means lots of people probably won't be able to vote in person, and a big covid-caused mail-in vote will take time to count, with that delay resulting in the Trumpers jumping up and down with their pre-programmed suspicions that Orange Man is being jobbed. 

ACCORDING to federal law (and Wikipedia), Trump can’t cancel, postpone, or move the November election—even by executive order stating a national emergency or martial law. It’s a decision only Congress could make by altering the federal statute passed in 1845 that agreed states should appoint their electors in the first week of November. In the most extreme scenario in which the electoral college doesn’t vote in November, Trump’s term would still expire on Jan. 20, 2021 at noon—and the control of the presidency would go down the line of succession. 

MARCO McCLEAN remembers Peter Wells: “Peter Wells wrote a play called Blue Dove, about the life of Krishnamurti, and put it on in the metal building Gloriana moved to for awhile on North Franklin when Cotton Auditorium was being renovated.

That was 2002. He didn't haggle about paying the various techies and support people; he offered decent money, promptly paid what he promised to pay, and he was relaxed and patient about the whole process, his first play, which involved a lot of people, and the play came off without a hitch, was educational, interesting, and moving, and filled the seats for the whole run. None of that is usual for a self-production.

He put it on again in other places later on, I heard. I don't remember whether it ever got recorded on video but it probably did. That would be a great thing to show on Vimeo or YouTube. If you know anything about that and have a connection with the family, please suggest it. Speaking of family: condolences to Peter's kids about his death.”

WESTPORT FIRE DEPARTMENT FUNDRAISING. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Westport Volunteer Fire Department is unable to sponsor its main fundraising activity -- the Annual Barbecue -- this year. To help fill the fundraising gap, Mountain Mike's Pizza in Fort Bragg and Ukiah has agreed to make a generous contribution to the Westport Volunteer Fire Department from the proceeds of sales during the first four Saturdays in August. Enjoy great Mountain Mike's food on August 1, 8, 15 and 22 and help support the Westport Volunteer Fire Department, which provides year-round initial 911 emergency response service for medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, traumatic injuries and fires in a response area covering roughly 108 square miles on the Northern Mendocino Coast. Pizza, salad and sandwiches can be ordered ahead for pick up or delivery by calling Mountain Mike's in Fort Bragg at 964-9999. Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

EVERY MORNING you wake up and say to yourself, "No way can it be crazier than yesterday." And then it is. One morning last week we learned that Trump is taking medical advice from Dr. Stella Emmanuel who runs the Fire Power Ministries in a strip mall next door to her clinic in Houston. The doc was born in Cameroon and did her medical training in Nigeria. On her Facebook page she says she's a "Physician, Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Deliverance Minister, God's battle axe and weapon of war." She says her church is against "'unmarried couples living together, homosexuality, bestiality, polygamy, etc," with no explanation what's covered under etc. Lots, undoubtedly. She goes on to say that her "attitude toward demonic forces has been described as cut-throat, a warrior to the core." She is also a "wealth transfer coach" and believes "you can be saved, anointed, fire branded and wealthy too." 

FOR YOUR PERSONNEL FILES: We've had many, many questions on the theme of, "Where's McEwen? I miss his court reports." So do we. It happened that the stars aligned in such a way that America was struck by plague on the same day that McEwen got married, departing the turbulent world of Mendo crime and punishment, our star reporter set sail on the presumably less turbulent Sea of Love with, as it happened, Ms. Marilyn Davin, also an ace reporter for Boonville's beloved weekly. McEwen's marital voyage coincided with the abrupt closure of the courts, but now that the new rules of social distance and masks have taken hold, and some cases are being heard in semi-public, we expect McEwen to return to his beat.

REX GRESSETT is our most controversial contributor, and certainly our most passionate in his zeal to defend what he sees as the best interests of Fort Bragg. The editor has occasionally intervened to remove gratuitous insults from Rex's piping hot prose, but overall we think his opinionated reporting offers a perspective often shared by many people affected by Fort Bragg government.

A SCULPTURE representing Sir Francis Drake no longer stands by the bay at Larkspur Landing, and Drake High School will soon be renamed as will, presumably, everything else related to the 16th century pirate. The city of Larkspur, in a 3am take-down of the splendid 30-foot-tall replica, explained its removal: “The removal is in response to planned demonstrations to tear down or demolish the statue this Thursday in a way that is potentially unsafe. Removing the statue is intended to promote public safety while preserving the statue so that dialogue about its future can continue.”

(Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

WE HAD to kill it to save you. I'm sorry to see the statue go. I've enjoyed trudging out to it on occasion and always thought it a welcome departure from Marin Art — seagulls and pelicans, largely. And unless I knew beforehand that the sculpture was supposed to be Drake, I'd have guessed Don Quixote or a generic conquistador. Anyway, it was real art by a real artist for an artless time and, natch, it had to go.

APPLYING contemporary standards to historical figures seems a fool's game to me, and lazy too. Curious about Drake? Read up on him. No, he wasn't a Shakespeare-era Fred Rogers, but his stay in Marin, from the only account that exists — his — he was a big hit with the Indians, who helped him repair his boat and entertained Drake and his crew for several months. Unlike Columbus, Drake didn't murder his hosts and seemed genuinely fond of them, marveling at their strength and the beauty of their women. Knowing Marin, the Drake sculpture will probably be replaced with a decaf latte in a giant pink cup.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING, the Frontline documentary on Info Wars and its lunatic star, Alex Jones. More alarming yet are his millions of followers, including Trump. Jones comes off as clinically hysterical, but he's no dummy, having parlayed totally unfounded grand conspiracies, underlain by his opinion that America is governed by Satan-worshipping pedophiles, with Hillary Clinton as master puppeteer, into a multi-million dollar fortune marketing camo gear and "male enhancement" pills. 9-11, Jones says, was an inside job because government is an inside job via which the pedos are trying to take over. (You have to wonder at people obsessed with the sexual violation of children, as we saw locally in the Fort Bragg Satanist hysteria of the early 1980s. Talk about pervs!) 

WHEN I first saw Jones on Youtube, I thought he was a comedian, but as one of the talking heads in the film points out, it used to be that people talking crazy were isolated, that every town had a couple of them but they were avoidable and without influence. (Mendo seems to have a nut surplus, beginning with the anti-vaxxers on through any number of crackpot therapies and unsupported world views. Our loons are mostly liberals, more or less, but Jones appeals primarily to young men, a number of them right here in the Anderson Valley.) But with the internet, the Info Wars lunatics are in touch , politically active and on the march. Basically fascists, the loons are being organized via people like Jones and now constitute a movement with Trump, a Jones ally, at the head of it. But even Jones was forced to admit that his adamantly evil insistence that the Sandy Hook child-slaughter was not only wrong, his wrongness had been caused by what he described as one of his periodic psychotic breaks. Not that his confessions, forced out of him by the courts, seemed to shake his dumbkopf legions.

THE LATEST GOVERNMENT stats report that the economy shrank at a frightening 33% annual rate in the April-June quarter — by far the worst quarterly plunge ever as coronavirus has shut down businesses, throwing tens of millions out of work. I get the impression that my fellow citizens generally don't get how seriously disastrous the entire Trumpian nexus is. Trump didn't bring on the plague but he's made it worse, and he's also exacerbated existing divisions in our student body to the point where civil war doesn't seem like dark fantasy anymore. Fascist movements like the Proud Boys are growing, gun and ammo sales are way, way up, and I see speculative articles here and there wondering how loyal the armed services will be in the crunch. 

AND EVERY DAY Trump adds to the tension. Just this morning he suggested delaying the November election until "people can properly, securely and safely vote," as if he cares about anything other than holding on to power. Trump tied his suggestion to delay the election to his complaints about mail-in voting, which he has repeatedly complained will lead to vote fraud. But only Congress can delay elections, and there's an abundance of studies showing very little voter fraud in the United States via mail-in voting.

GROWING POT IN HUMCO: "I crossed my fingers last year and grew with my county permit and no state license. I hired AgDynamix to help with the permitting process. They dropped the ball and my state provisional expired in April. After a last minute scramble for me to study and get the remaining application paperwork submitted, it took the state 4.5 months to process it and reinstate my provisional license mid-September. I have a small permit and a very tidy property with no environmental damage, so I felt like a very small target and went for it. Now I’m back on track with county, state , and CDFW. The whole process is a shit show! With all the red tape, I have to pay over $8,000 to replace a $300 rusty culvert on my driveway and replace a newer and functional culvert, without a road over it, and “upgrade from 12″ to 18”. Feels a bit like extortion. The only reason I’m still in the game is because I’m stubborn, found a clean qualified property, and had a few family members to take a loan from. A few years back Estelle or John Ford (Humco Supervisors) were at those public meetings telling everyone to sign up and get permitted. “It’s not that hard… you can fill it all out yourself.” 

THE MENDOCINO COAST still has relatively few confirmed cases, but a large portion of the COVID-19 related deaths in the county at Sherwood Oaks in Fort Bragg, the only nursing home on the coast, which is having a very hard time getting people to work there, with many of their regular employees quarantined.

Sherwood is being visited and inspected regularly by state health officials, as recently as Wednesday (July 29), and got approval for how they're handling things, according to a Sherwood Oaks public announcement.

By all accounts I have heard, they are doing their best and the people working there are heroes. Patients are in various forms of isolation and must be going through something terrible.

People still making light of this (I did see two smug young maskless goofballs in the tiny store I was in yesterday, smirks clearly visible as they were death-stared by a couple of ladies I would not mess with in a million years), this is the kind of hell on earth you are responsible for.

Yes you. Simple public health precautions - mask wearing - are beyond you. Enjoy your freedumb. You will be paying for it for a very long time. (Chris Calder)

BILL CLINTON was in full-triangulation mode at John Lewis’s funeral, invoking cancel culture and dissing black power movement in one sentence: “When he could have been angry and determined to cancel his adversaries, he tried to get converts instead. He thought the opened hand was better than a clenched fist.” (This is, of course, a largely accurate description of Lewis’ timid and accommodating political career and a major reason for his split from Stokely Carmichael and the other radical leaders of SNCC.)

I challenge you to detect the differences between Clinton’s eulogy for John Lewis and the speeches he gave after Nixon and Reagan died. Like Obama, there’s really only one Clinton speech, he repeats endlessly, occasionally re-arranging the order of the platitudes of compromise and capitulation… — Jeffrey St. Clair

MARC LUCAS is the man who prompted Saturday's prolonged standoff in Albion. 

Lucas

Lucas, who poured gasoline on himself, brandished what turned out to be a pellet gun and threatened self-immolation, was finally subdued when a heads-up firefighter drenched him to immobility. 

NANCY PELOSI got off an unfounded, unelaborated upon slam at Dr. Birx, Trump's coronavirus task force coordinator, simply because the doctor works for Trump. Birx responded by saying,  "I've never been called pollyannish, or non-scientific, or non-data driven. I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of using data to implement better programs and save lives." 

DR. BIRX pushed back on a misconception that the virus only inundated urban landscapes, like the former epicenter New York City, and not other rural regions. "To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus. If you're in multi-generational households, and there's an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you're positive, if you have individuals in your households with co-morbidities. This epidemic right now is different and it's more widespread and it's both rural and urban."

A FORT BRAGG READER NOTES: "I go to the Food Bank every week and I know a few others who do, plus several people who work there. My impression is that there has not been much of an increase in traffic since the start of COVID. I've been going every week the whole time. The Fort Bragg Food Bank is in a different situation than Ukiah's in a lot of ways, Ukiah's being on the 101 corridor of course, but it might also be that the Food Bank here was already serving a large part of the vulnerable population. It's not unusual at all here to have people mention in casual conversation that they are going to or have gone to the Food Bank as clients. I'm not sure that's true in Ukiah. Plus I get the impression that the enhanced unemployment $$ has made a big difference here, partly because of all the under the table work (not talking about pot) available. That's how I've made it. In some ways, Fort Bragg has had a 'gig' economy for a long time, if hauling things to the dump can be a 'gig'. Also, a large part of the population is Hispanic. There are plenty of Hispanic people who come to the Food Bank. But, grossly generalizing, I think more Hispanic people will make it under conditions where some white people start going off the rails. But I have no clue about Ukiah…" 

A THOUSAND AMERICANS A DAY have died from coronavirus over the last week as the $600-a-week unemployment insurance for the living ended Friday, meaning increasing desperation for millions of working people. Meanwhile, the ineffective duopoly argue big bailout numbers, so big one has to wonder where the value of all this pretend money ends. The Republicans are holding out for a trillion more, the Democrats want three trillion. Prediction: We'll get $1.5 tril, not enough to slow the great unraveling, which now includes millions of eviction notices for people unable to pay rent.

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

 [1] Fantasy and mania run rampant in the delusional republic, no more so than in the bastions of higher – cough – learning where derangement of emotion and disorder in logical processing mark the scholar and philosopher and self-proclaimed thought leader.

You can see it on the telly, in such shows as Amanpour’s gab-fest where self-congratulating participants laud themselves and the people that led the US and much of the world into this historical cul-de-sac where rules of nature and of such minor considerations as the march of history and its lessons are proclaimed to be suspended for no reason other than their inconvenience. Realty’s logic is iron-clad but its means are devious. If disease plagues the thought processes of an increasingly unfit “thinking” class, with the concept of a “borderless world” as one of its manifestations, Reality has the solution. It’s called the coronavirus. You hear about natural selection? This is natural selection. Most severely affected right now are the underclasses, those serving the physical needs of the intellectual, you know, people like farm workers, people in meat plants, but as economic and societal disruption spread, it becomes a matter of who has the means to provide for himself and his family i.e. guys with practical skills and not only that but means of self-defense, i.e. fire-arms. And intellectuals have got a severe deficit in both these departments. It’s a lesson of history, one of those buggery things that you see dotted throughout the written and archaeological record, elites are upended when they fail to get a clue. 

[2] America used to have a healthy and robust hobo culture. If you couldn’t get a job or find a way to get by in one place, you just hopped a freight and went somewhere else. Along the way you met lots of other nice folks just like you hoping to get by. Get a meal here or there. Sleep in a barn. Swing a broom a bit. Then move on.

Today, the rail lines have been decimated and the freights that do run carry what’s left of that cheap labor crap from that Land of the East. Today’s freight trains have been militarized and they run too fast to catch up to when you’re running on foot. That destroyed an entire successfully-working American culture.

If we’re really going to Make American Great Again, we’ve got to bring back the rail lines and hobo culture. Soon, we’ll ALL be hobos without jobs and places to live. Millions of us will need a way to beg a meal somewhere and to move about after our homes have been foreclosed on, our cars repossessed, our bank accounts seized, our credit cards cancelled, and our smartphone battery goes dead and we throw the damn thing into the ditch along the tracks.

Hobo Culture is America’s 21st Century Future. Get out those old hobo and railroad songs. Find your old harmonica and brush up. Tear some holes in your shirt and pants and socks if they don’t yet have any. Who says we don’t have a future?! We are Woke And We Are Broke™! Happy days are here again!

[3] There is a lot of misinformation about Muir. John Muir kept a journal for more than 50 years and recorded what he saw. By the time he arrived in California in 1868 the Yosemite Indians had already been removed during the Gold Rush. John Muir had nothing to do with it, and they weren't removed for the purpose of creating a national park. In 1868 the California Indians had suffered through nearly a 100 years of Spanish missions, European diseases, and genocide during the Gold Rush. Muir had nothing to do with that, and he could be excused for thinking that these Indians looked like a downtrodden people. Also, in his book "Travels in Alaska" he traveled by canoe with members of the Tlingit tribe, and wrote many positive things about them. If he was blindly racist about American Indians in general, then why would he praise this tribe? Also, Muir never said that wilderness should only be for white people. California had very few black people until World War II, and even now only 6% of the state's population is black. In the 1960's the Sierra Club started the Inner Cities Outings Program, which takes inner city minority teenagers on backpacking trips into the wilderness. About 15 years ago I assisted a leader on one of these outings into the Emigrant Basin Wilderness. The kids loved it. I think John Muir is being unfairly maligned.

[4] I have a hunch there will be no Bonaparte ruling in the US of A. There is one thing the Americans share with the Russians, and that is abhorrence of Bonapartism, and military rule in general. (Remind yourself that Trotsky meekly accepted his exile to the Kazakh steppe by Stalin in 1925, in preference of toppling him in a “bonapartist coup”, even though the Red Army he created was still very much loyal to him). The near American future is a dense fog, but a day in Brumaire with a junta led by a Corsican likely will not emerge out of it to save the day. The Democrats will sweep in November, (as abhorrent as the idea is), and after some wrangling the Great Imposter will disappear into one of his estates, heavily guarded but without his Twitter account. And that will be that. The riots will abate in exchange of a wagon of promises by the Dems to remake the U.S. into a Nanny-State-In-Toto. Open borders, universal health care, forgiveness of student debt, defunding the military, and reparation will be on the wagon, maybe even surtax on the rich (albeit calibrated to cause only a shrug.) There will be intense infighting among the Dems, with the GOP completely sidelined (I predict one or two assassinations of some leading GOP figures, after which the Republicans will become the Clueless Party of the Rich on the style of Mitt Romney). The “moderate” Dems will try to re-fashion the more inane planks of the platform which will likely cause new mob urban entertainment. Obscure “Grey Eminences” from the Deep State will run the show with little success. Biden and his heiress-apparent will be largely irrelevant. No counter-revolution will take place, because the Trump base is incapable of organizing around a political program and the fringe militia illiterates appeal to no outsiders. Trump himself sits in the WH only as a witness to the fact that the right-of-center politics in the US collapsed and have no substantive ideas beyond exciting the anti-social part of the electorate. If the Czech president Zeman estimated a one-seventh of the Czech electorate as brain-damaged, in the US it must be a majority. So, in my reckoning, there will be no counter-revolution. The U.S. will simply collapse as just another “granfaloon” (as Kurt Vonnegut predicted).

[5] I love salmon too. I store all of my water from the rainy season in water tanks. I have donated tens of thousands of dollars for creek restoration in my watershed. If you’re worried about water and fish, quit eating beef and supporting the wine industry. Those industries are way more harmful to our watersheds than cannabis. All water for cannabis farms should be stored from the rainy months and liquid fertilizer should be banned for the dry months. Those two steps would make cannabis harmless to the watersheds. Snitching should be a last resort, it’s cowardly!

[6] Re: Congressman Huffman: Even in the time of COVID-19 we cannot get our act together under this duopoly system except for illegal wars and their promotion of bad medical insurance and private companies wanting a tap into public education funds. All with an eye of course of taking the next round of campaign contributions.

U.S. Representatives voting for more military funding when accountability of taxpayer funds is virtually nonexistent. It is now 60% of the entire federal discretionary budget projected with the debt to consume your entire income taxes by 2030 by one Lt. Col.’s estimate.

Then they voted for $3.8 billion a year minimum to the Israeli state so they can put a knee into the neck of people whose lands they want for themselves and bulldoze their homes with little consequences from anyone not to mention killing and maiming protestors.

They voted for Land and Water Conservation funding only when tied to extreme profiting off the offshore drain America first of its resources oil and gas.

They voted for insurance companies to strip seniors of Medicare funds and needed care after a lifetime of work. Try for example to get good known effective treatments for diseases and they side with $300 a pop pillmakers and vaccine makers known by the FDA to place contaminants tumorgenic in with them.

Yes it’s really a mess. We see the rebellion against us and it is not in the streets, it’s in D.C. with their bad Acts. Vote third party with principles and values that are like yours. And give them some time and money at least they are out in front with all the People.

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