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MCT: Monday, October 5, 2020

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THE PERSISTENT AND STRONG upper ridge of high pressure will maintain very dry conditions with generally above normal temperatures in the interior through about mid week. Coastal areas will remain mild with periods of fog and low clouds. Smoke with reduced air quality will persist over portions of the interior through mid week. The smokey air may spread over coastal areas on today and Tuesday. A significant cooling trend is expected toward the end of the week...with rain likely into the weekend. (NWS)

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NINE MORE COVID CASES in Mendo on Sunday bumping Mendo’s case count to 1,005. A couple more "South County" (Anderson Valley + Hopland) cases appeared.

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AUGUST COMPLEX, California's largest wildfire, has just surpassed one million acres. Spanning seven counties, it has now burned for 49 days but stubbornly remains only 54% contained.

CAL FIRE'S morning updates:

North Zone

Today the August Complex North Zone began operations as two separate geographic areas. The dividing line between the Northeast Zone and the Northwest Zone is along South Fork Mountain through Pickett Peak to State Route 36, crossing SR 36 between mile post 55 and 56, continuing north following the South Fork Trinity River. Two zones will provide more supervisory personnel, increased oversight and improved the effectiveness of fire resources. Crews who have been working in the Ruth Valley will be the same to preserve that continuity.

Northeast Zone – Yesterday, northwest surface winds allowed smoke to clear over the western lake portion of the fire. As the smoke “lid” was lifted, coupled with high temperatures and low humidity, fire activity increased along the perimeter north of SR 36. As those northwest winds interacted with the terrain over the east fire perimeter, southwest terrain driven winds carried spot fires over Forest Road 35 to the east towards Round Mountain and the area where Shasta, Tehama and Trinity Counties intersect.

Fire crews will be assessing and providing structure protection in Wildwood and Platina. Those communities remain under an Evacuation Warning and should be prepared to leave immediately if an Evacuation Order is issued. Firefighters will look for opportunities to safely engage the fire above FR 35.

Crews will continue constructing dozer lines above SR 36 north of Forest Glen and on both sides of the South Fork Trinity River. Multiple contingency lines utilizing forest roads and old fuel breaks northwest of Post Mountain to South Fork Trinity River are being improved. On the east fire perimeter, crews will hold and improve all existing control lines to keep the fire from spreading further beyond of SR 36.

Northwest Zone - Personnel were reallocated from the South Zone to areas near Ruth Lake and the northwest area of the fire. Below South Fork Mountain, the fire has been slowly backing down towards containment lines to the northwest. Where crews cannot directly fight the fire due to terrain or safety concerns, they are using indirect techniques such as anchoring to road systems and using dozer lines for containment well ahead of where the fire is currently burning. Near Zenia the fire crossed existing dozer lines, but progress is being made to contain the fire’s growth with hose lays and crews.

Residents are not permitted entry into evacuated areas until the Sheriff lifts the orders. Public safety officers continue to enforce roadblocks for firefighter and public safety as well as property protection.

Smoke will again have an influence on today’s weather. Temperatures will remain 10 to 15 degrees above normal and relative humidity values will fall into the teens over the mid-slopes and ridges. Winds will not be as strong as yesterday and there will likely be variability with the terrain driven winds.

For more information on the North Zone, call (530)-628-0039.

West Zone

CAL FIRE’s unified team and the U.S. Forest Service are engaged in a coordinated and collaborative response to take suppressive action on the August Complex, which has been reconfigured into four zones, to effectively provide a response for the communities at risk. Due to resource draw down throughout the state, CAL FIRE’s Incident Management Team requested the California National Guard to assist with fire suppression efforts and as a result of CAL FIRE’s request, 138 National Guard personnel are assigned to the incident. Additionally, resources from across the state of California as well as Montana, Texas, Washington and New Jersey have been assigned to assist on the August Complex-West Zone. The August Complex-West Zone has burned 129,299 acres, peaking at a span of 266 miles of fire line to date, and is 55% contained with approximately 1,600 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground.

Today, temperatures remained high with low humidity and poor recovery predicted overnight. The fire burned persistently with north, north-west winds and wind gusts driving smoke and embers back towards firefighters as they worked to reinforce containment lines, identify any hazards, build indirect lines for firing operations, insert hose lays to support fire lines and protect structures. Crews were successful in performing firing operations, which helped secure a corner portion of the fire, resulting in strengthening the containment line outside the community of Covelo. Fire activity continued to burn into the wilderness area at a southeast direction near Redrock. Assistance continues on the August Complex – North Zone. Incident Commanders are actively monitoring the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, which is part of the August Complex – North Zone.

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by Jim Shields

Back when Tom Allman was Sheriff, he would periodically appear at Board of Supervisors meetings and weigh in on the now officially certified failed Pot Ordinance.

At different times he told the Supes that growers “are laughing at you” due to the botched, non-enforced Ordinance. He equated the chaos surrounding it as creating a “County of Marijuana” instead of the County of Mendocino.

A couple of years ago, Allman spoke of 12 unsolved murders that were linked to marijuana. So just about everybody, with the exception of those County officials who are responsible for the unworkable Pot Ordinance, have been aware that violence has long been a byproduct of the unenforced Ganja Fiat.

Finally, there’s another County official besides me speaking out on the Ordinance that has never been enforced by the County.

This past Monday Sheriff Matt Kendall posted on Facebook a thought-provoking piece that pounds all the round pegs into the pegless round holes of the Cannabis Ordinance.

In less than a week’s span, North County communities experienced two separate invasions by heavily armed hardened criminals who felt perfectly at ease plotting and carrying out pot robberies that could have easily ended with multiple deaths of victims, including cops responding to the crime scenes.

Kendall says, “If the wildfires in our County being the worst in recorded history wasn’t distressing enough, crimes like the one that occurred yesterday, Sept. 27, 2020, also reflect some of the worst criminal activity our County has seen … Recently we learned of an incident where fire personnel have been threatened, intimidated and ordered by illegal marijuana growers to water their marijuana crops with water tenders, which have been dedicated to the fire suppression efforts. There has also been theft of water supply systems that have been put in place to draw water for fire suppression efforts in the field, thus cutting response times to get more water to the fire lines. Even more concerning to me, as we further investigate the kidnapping and robbery case which began on the Covelo Road, we learned these men were planning on murdering deputies if they were discovered and detained. These subjects were not residents of Mendocino County, coming from the state of Nevada and Riverside County California. However, they were drawn here by the lure of easy money. Monies that are funding the problems we are experiencing now. We see this time and time again. People from outside of Mendocino County and well outside of the law are continually drawn here like a moth to a flame. The suspects, in this case, were equipped with military-grade weapons, and body armor. They had planned to open fire on deputies with these weapons. Our brave men and women who serve Mendocino County aren’t paid to be murdered. I will not stand by and allow this to happen. I fear robberies, murder and constant threat to human life will become the new normal for Mendocino County if we don’t try to address the problem now. I have grown weary of hearing marijuana is a victimless crime. If this were true, we would not be dealing with murders and robberies clearly tied to marijuana. We can clearly see criminals lured by greed, and greed, in turn, leads to a marked increase in violence. Anything causing this much violence must be stopped.”

As someone who has spent his entire professional career working under two different regulatory frameworks (airline transportation and now public water utilities), I can tell you there are only two basic components to any regulatory scheme. There is a cohesive system of regulations and the means to enforce them. They fit like hand and glove. You can’t have one without the other. Yet, that has been the very situation this County has been in since the Cannabis Ordinance was enacted nearly four years ago.. The hand and the glove have never fit.

Just two weeks ago, Dennis Slota, former head of the Mendocino County Water Agency, addressed the Board at its meeting where the Pot Ordinance was once again under consideration.

Slota advised the Supes:

“We are aware of Humboldt growers moving to Mendocino County because Mendocino County does not enforce it’s Cannabis Ordinance. Humboldt County uses active enforcement based on evaluation of Google images, followed up with field inspection. … The contrast with Mendocino County’s lack of enforcement of a complaint-based system is striking and fiscally irresponsible. Many citizens decline to complain about a cannabis neighbor due to fear of retaliation. A majority of these complaints could be identified by active enforcement. It should not be the citizen’s obligation to enforce the law.”

Confirming Slota’s statement, Kendall’s Facebook post said, “I can’t count the number of calls we receive from residents in our rural areas who are tired of being intimidated and are tired of sheltering in their homes while armed subjects roam vast areas of the county protecting their crops. Gunfire is heard all night in the rural areas within our county. It is being used as a constant warning to anyone who would venture out of their homes in the evening and night.”

As one letter-to-the-editor writer pithily summarized the current situation:

“This cannabis season in Covelo has been an explosion of illegal cannabis cultivation in Covelo because: 1) Humboldt does a great job of enforcement and drives all the illegal grows to Covelo because Mendocino has no enforcement infrastructure like Humboldt (sophisticated satellite imaging and active pursuit of enforcement) to perform enforcement; 2) Mendocino County has no coherent cannabis permitting process.”

Ellen Drell, of the Willits Environmental Center, in a recent letter-to-the-editor urging the Supervisors to enforce the current ordinance, commented, “Though County voters supported legalization, they didn’t want cannabis to be the next “gold rush’ at the expense of the County’s environment — our open spaces, unpolluted night skies, shared rural values, or the health of the County’s wildlife and the survival of salmon and steelhead in our streams.”

Now we have Sheriff Kendall making the same points, with the same emphasis on enforcement.

Hopefully the Supervisors are receptive to the Sheriff’s spot-on analysis of their failed, unworkable, deliberately un-enforced Pot Ordinance that has resulted in this crisis. It’s time for all the talking to stop and the action to begin.

As Kendall put it, “I know our Board of Supervisors agrees with me that all Mendocino County residents deserve a better quality of life. I’m asking each of you to contact your Supervisor by reaching out to them on social media or just tag them in a comment. Let them know you stand with us in wanting all of us to live in a safer community.”

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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LOG CROSSING is from my photo collection book "Mendocino Inspirations" (available exclusively at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino 707-937-2665 or for easy ordering online go to

Log Crossing (photo by Malcolm Macdonald)

This may resemble a Tolkienesque setting for hobbits and such, but it's actually a log I cross over the Albion River to check for the perpetually wayward cattle. I have been known to text a message before crossing, like, "Someone needs to know in case of slippage or falling."

Always good to make sure to text back upon safely returning from the dark woods.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill by a North Bay state legislator to create a Mendocino County wine-label designation.

Our support back in May of 2019:

Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Letter of Support for Adoption of Conjunctive Labeling for the Mendocino County Wine Industry

(Sponsors: Supervisors McCowen and Williams)

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Horse-powered Thresher in Elk

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AV BREWING is now serving draft beer, with the purchase of a meal from Boon Dogs!! We are open Friday-Sunday from 11am-5pm. Food and draft available from 12pm-5pm 

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer

I’m not stupid but I am incompetent, though hardly more than the average person, which is worrisome.

My problem is I don’t know anything about how the world works. A short list of things that bewilder me would include almost everything, but let’s get specific:

I don’t understand how an airplane flies, or a bird. I have no idea how a radio sends voices through the air, nor how old telephones did it with wires and poles. I can’t rebuild a carburetor, I can’t play poker and I’m not sure where the fusebox is.

I understand nothing digital, nor what a low pressure system is on the weather channel, and I also don’t know how the TV works that carries the weather channel. How does paint come out of spray cans? How does the oven get hot and stay at 325 degrees? Be grateful it wasn’t up to me to invent bread because we’d still be chewing hardtack.

What is a transistor and why is it important, unless it isn’t. Maybe digits took over. How do Apps work? I never knew ROM from RAM or a floppy disk from a hard drive. I know how to type but never learned to change a ribbon.

I know nothing about grammar. I don’t know an adverb from a gerund, can tell you nothing about an adjective or a pluperfect pronoun, and could no more diagram a sentence than diagram the interior of King Tut’s tomb. I don’t know what iambic pentameter is, or isn’t. My understanding of satire is hazy.

When it comes to math I can spell the word Algebra. After that, nothing, including long division, astrology and geometry. I can’t do Instagram or read a sonogram or send a telegram. I do know a gram of cocaine isn’t very much.

I’ve no clue how a vacuum cleaner sucks cigarette butts off the living room rug and I couldn’t put half a sentence together on how air conditioning blows cold air at us.

On a De-Evolutionary Index Scale I’d rate myself as functionally incompetent, unable to care for myself or others unless everything is provided for me, including a bib at feeding time and big buttons to push for heat and air conditioning.


And be assured I’m smarter, more knowledgeable and better-read than today’s college grads, which means they are even higher (lower) on the Stupid Meter.

My Point: Here in the midst of a national election, smug TV commentators and sharp newspaper columnists tell us that smart people, which is to say college educated people, all vote for one Presidential candidate. Stupid people, without at least a bachelor’s degree, vote for the rube who appeals to their stupidness.

Remember, media noise will keep telling you I’m real smart and have impeccable skills in choosing political candidates because I spent four years in college.

Meanwhile, ignorant oafs, farmers and factory workers in Nebraska and Kentucky will trudge to the polls to “vote against their own interests.” Why?

Uneducated dullards often don’t understand the need for adult men and little girls to share public restrooms. Lacking college degrees, they sometimes go days without pondering gender fluidity, and are rarely paralyzed by guilt from racist acts their ancestors never committed. Many don’t yet realize America is a failure.

Plumbers, roofers, mechanics, bookies and ranchers are too stupid to know what’s good for themselves, but teachers, poets and social workers are smart, and well understand which side of the bread the butter’s on. Right now they’re busy helping themselves to another loaf, with jam.

College grads learn to think like other college grads, which means they don’t learn to think at all. Almost no one I know with a degree has much knowledge beyond a smattering of the superficial. They look for government jobs because they’re timid and insecure, then happily spend entire careers going to meetings with other smart people.

Many hold jobs where it’s impossible to determine if they do a great job or a lousy job. A terrible teacher gets by because what do third graders know? A lousy therapist whose customers keep committing suicide goes undetected so long as she shows up looking grieved at their “Celebrations of Life.”

But if you are a lousy roofer you will be sued, chased down the road and made to eat shingles. A bad NASCAR driver will never get to be a NASCAR driver.

A terrible poet will be laughed at but the New Yorker will still print his silly poems. The worst social worker in Mendo County will merely be tied with all the others.

Instead of being educated, most college grads are simply credentialed. A diploma tells us they have completed Diversity Studies programs and are sufficiently Woke to be unleashed on society with degrees in Sociology, Modern Dance, or Artistic Theory.


1) You’re on a sinking yacht in the middle of Lake Mendocino, with an island a half mile away. Who might best help you to safety?

A) A Harvard linguistics professor

B) A retired Green Beret officer with two combat ribbons

2) Which three people would you hope to find living on the remote island?

A) An art historian, a film critic and the San Francisco mayor

B) A construction worker, a plumber and a comedian

3) You have to hack across 50 miles of jungle to get back to Ukiah. Who would you choose?

A) Someone with a Master’s Degree in Interpretive Dance

B) A logger

Now that you’re home and we know how smart you are, go mail in a few ballots.

(Tom Hine lives with TWK, his pet monkey. He purposely left doctors and lawyers off the “educated” list; they’re beyond such categories, plus he’s married to one.)

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Steam Donkey Operator

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CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER. Trump's doctors announced Sunday they'd given him a steroid and put him on oxygen, but his main medical man, Sean Conley, said Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed as early as Monday. So how sick was he? Dr. Conley said Sunday afternoon that there was some confusion over Trump's condition because Chief of Staff Mark Meadow's comments making Trump sicker than he really is were misunderstood. "The Chief and I work side-by-side," Conley said of Meadows. "And I think his statement was misconstrued. What he meant was that 24 hours ago, when he and I were checking on the president, that there was that momentary episode of a high fever. And that temporary drop in the saturation, which prompted us to act expediently to move him up here [to Walter Reed]. Fortunately that was a very transient, limited episode. A couple hours later he was back up, mild again. I'm not going to speculate what that limited episode was about so early in the course. But he's doing well. Over the course of his illness, the president has experienced two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation. We debated the reasons for this and whether we'd even intervene. As a determination of the team, based predominantly on the timeline for the diagnosis, that we initiate dexamethasone."

 YEAH, YEAH. WHATEVER. When Trump faked work via Twitter on Saturday he looked fine. And today, Sunday, as several thousand Magas gathered outside the hospital to wish him well, Trump, again looking un-plagued, did a limo drive-by to wave to his supporters before returning to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed.

THAT CONSTANT flow of big trucks on 253 and 128 are hauling boulders to a road embankment project out on Highway One in the Westport area, a project similar to the seemingly endless embankment-bolstering work on 253 a mile or so east of Boonville last summer.

TO SOME PEOPLE the ava is like kryptonite, apparently so hazardous to their mental equilibrium they shudder at the very mention. Or sight of. To others it's half-kryptonite, half-irresistible, a dangerous journalo-drug to be avoided but also habit-forming. But the deadbeats who hate and fear it still can't keep themselves from having a look, which has now resulted in the Anderson Valley Market placing the paper behind glass where Kim, Betty, Irene, and Keith sell it only on request because too many people were picking it up and reading it without buying it, rumpling it up so bad as to make it unmarketable.

SOMERSET MAUGHAM wrote a wonderfully droll short story about two Englishmen assigned to a remote colonial post deep in the jungles of Borneo where it took the London papers six months from publication day to reach them. As I recall the story, the older of the two was so offended by the junior man's impertinent interception of the older man's subscriptions that the older man murdered the younger.

OVER THE LONG YEARS, I've confronted a couple of people about stealing my work product which, by the time it gets to AV Market is jointly owned by me and them. One woman, no longer with us, was a locally notorious mooch and all-round deadbeat, now presumably scamming in heaven as she did on earth. Her nickle-nosing became something of a local legend. And occasionally hilarious, as the day she asked Jack Clow at Jack's Valley Store to sell her half a package of cookies. Jack stared back at her in disbelief. I thought his head was going to explode before he shouted, “Out. Get out of here and don't come back!” Undeterred, she came back, this time to complain about his laundromat. That time, Jack didn't hesitate before opening fire. “Why don't you take your goddam laundry down to the river and beat it on the goddam rocks!” When I confronted her one afternoon at Boont Berry Farm, where her considerable bulk was blocking foot traffic just inside the door, her anteater's nose plunged into my paper, I said, “Excuse me, but I hope you're going to pay for that.” She had the nerve to reply, “Pay for what?” My newspaper, I said, Mine and Mr. Cohen's (Boont Berry's owner) newspaper. “Pay for this?” she snarled. “Are you kidding me? Never!” And with that she stuffed it, crumpled unto ruin, back in the rack, turned her back on me and gobbled a handful of Mr. Cohen's grapes she'd helped herself to. 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, October 4, 2020

Camarillo, Flores, Hill, Johnson

ESTEBAN CAMARILLO, Willits. Switchblade, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

MIGUEL FLORES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, under influence.

JOHN HILL, Ukiah. Forgery, getting credit usig someone else’s ID, bad check.

CURTIS JOHNSON, Portland/Laytonville. DUI.

Nuno, Proctor, Sellmer

ALAN NUNO-PADILLA, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Transporting/giving marijuana to a person over 18, suspended license, false ID.

RODNEY PROCTOR, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. 

JACOB SELLMER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, paraphernalia. 

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Why do you think the Net has become such a clutter? When I try to read something, the screen hops and jumps as different, often animated-with-sound interruptions shoulder their way in between the paragraphs and around the borders.

Advertisers record your clicks. Whenever a "click-bait" distraction "works,"and you click on it, it clues them to a possible interest you have and sales they can make. The relentless posters of stuff (not all of it junk; all of it distracting) get "credit" simply because they grabbed your attention, and merchants reward them.

The Net is a system out of control. Government authorities can turn it off, but--short of that--the content is too diverse and slippery to be controlled.

How dangerous is that? How dangerous is it that Glenn Greenwald, say, is no longer welcome at most news and public-information sites? It's this dangerous: A well-informed electorate is democracy's sole defense against an amoral, almost all-powerful ruling class. The crap screaming for your attention drags you away from useful attention to current events.

As to Greenwald, it's because he's "off the reservation." The media Establishment lets us stray a little, but if we become a real challenge to the "story du jour," if we search for and/or supply Truth, when it is inconvenient to the Establishment and goes against the direction of today's propaganda (there's a lot of reason for me to suspect the story of "bounties" paid for dead American troops in Afghanistan as a Russian initiative--or anybody else's), when the truth threatens what our largely hidden oligarchs want us to believe, then it's time to get some cleavage, or makeup, or celebrities or gossip up there, quick, to get our attention away from the spectacle of Julian Assange, Ed Snowden, Chelsea Manning, or any other tellers of dangerous truth, enduring solitary-confinement hell and many other sadistic practices. Guantanamo remains, no matter what.

Putin murders (we are told); Saudis murder. We Americans murder, too (consider our drone carnage), but we prefer that proxies do it, and we find confinement and induced insanity to be just swell ways to shut people up.

America is not wholly given over to evil and crime to assure its interests. We're a long way from that. There are legitimate policies to advance our concerns for "security" and our need for trade, but the degraded type of person who is well paid to undercut principle at the command of the rich and ruthless is around in greater numbers than ever and controlling my screen to the point of driving me mad.

Please jump in here--anybody--except trollers and rightwing wisecrackers. (I'll read rightwingers if they have something to contribute.)

Help me out here: At the moment, the only news person I can think of who does not put out BS--even and especially among my faves--is Amy Goodman. Some news outlets, like avaaz and RT, are worth looking at, because they are generated in, like, Russia or the mideast, so they don't exhibit U.S. propaganda, but I use generous pinches of salt because they resort to lies, too. I read with an eye to kernels of truth.

Jes' sayin'

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Church On Coast

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I am still somewhat astonished that people can seriously think the Obama was anything but a middle-of-the-road conciliator in the overwhelming majority of his policies.

Aside from the ACA, which Congress passed and he signed, which was a highly laudable effort to provide insurance and healthcare to some of the millions of the uncovered in the US, even if imperfectly done, he was clearly a centrist policy wonk.

The only thing divisive about Obama was that he was of mixed-race parentage. He wasn’t a bully, he didn’t name-call or try to humiliate opponents, and he presented himself as a someone who took the job he had seriously and intelligently, even if I disagreed with many of his policy decisions. Calling him the “Great Divider-in-Chief reeks a bit of simple racism.

If you were going to blame the Trump presidency on anything, I’d suggest it was the DNC machine insistence on pushing the highly unlikeable Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

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TRUMPERS AND ARCATA, an on-line comment:

Food for thought… My wife, daughter, granddaughter and myself we’re in this Trump support parade, With my daughter driving and my 12 year old granddaughter sitting in the passenger seat. And let me say, the turnout of participants and the support driving through Fortuna Eureka and McKinleyville was incredible. About 25 of us drove through Arcata which was an entirely different story. For a town which touts itself on its diversity and inclusiveness it really showed his true colors. Besides being 100% immune to being flipped the bird now, and hearing many people wishing death upon our President we were all called racists over and over. While driving through the all inclusive farmers market our truck was accosted we were spit at. A 50 something aged grown woman flipped off my 12-year-old little girl and called her a racist pig, While a 50 something grown man tried to rip the flag out of my wife’s hand while telling her to go fuck her self. The icing on the cake was the young lady who told us that Arcata wasn’t OUR town and to get the fuck out of there. Reminder, none of these people know us. The vile Bias and bigoted hatred Spewing from their distorted faces was absolutely unforgettable. Also, I may not live in Arcata but I have had a job for the last 21 years in which I provide a very essential service for this community and I do it with a smile and love in my heart No matter how many BLM, we believe or Biden signs They have in their yard. But I can’t promise this, and I’m sorry to all the entrepreneurs in Arcata. I will never spend another dime in the city of Arcata again. Please, let’s not forget we are all human and should treat each other as such.

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I am sheltering a friend who evacuated from his Oakmont home because of the Glass and Shady fires. Since he recently visited friends in San Francisco, we thought it a good idea for him to get a COVID-19 test. After spending over an hour online and on the phone, I have determined that it is totally impractical to get tested here in Sonoma County.

The earliest appointment available was five days away, and the results wouldn't be available for almost a week thereafter. We might as well wait two weeks to see whether he or I develop symptoms.

It has now been over six months since we began practicing restrictions to combat the virus. For all the blather the Sonoma County Health Services Department spews out about testing, they have, as yet, evidently not actually developed a practical method of delivering and administering such tests.

Unfortunately, the complete inadequacy of our public health systems exposed by the virus appears to include the federal, state and county governments. Your tax dollars at work ... or not.

Doug Yule


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by Eric Foner

It seems like ages have passed, not just nine months, since the all-consuming public issue in the United States was the impeachment of Donald Trump. The trial was a giant anticlimax, of course, its proceedings lacking witnesses, its outcome predetermined. That Trump remains in the White House reminds us that there is almost no way of unseating an American president, even one manifestly unfit for office. Apart from a cumbersome process outlined in the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, whereby the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can oust a president who becomes physically or mentally incapacitated, the only mode of removal – other than an election – is impeachment.

The constitution provides that a majority of the House of Representatives may impeach (that is, indict) the president for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” A trial then takes place in the Senate, where conviction and removal requires a two-thirds vote. As on numerous other matters, the constitution is frustratingly opaque when it comes to details. Most people think they can recognize treason and bribery when they see them, but what constitutes a high crime or a misdemeanor? In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton described impeachment as a political process, not a criminal one – a way of punishing “an abuse or violation of some public trust.” But generally, Congress has assumed that impeachment requires the president to have violated a specific law. The Constitution says nothing about the way an impeachment trial is to be conducted, other than that the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides. History shows that impeachment is a blunt instrument. The threat of it led Richard Nixon to resign, but all three presidents tried before the Senate have been acquitted.

In contrast to the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998, which arose from a sexual escapade, that of Andrew Johnson 130 years earlier involved some of the most intractable problems in American history. How should the nation be reunited after the Civil War? Who is entitled to American citizenship and the right to vote? What should be the status of the four million emancipated slaves? As Brenda Wineapple shows in The Impeachers, Johnson’s problem was his failure to rise to the challenge of Reconstruction after the Civil War.

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, Johnson, the vice president, succeeded him. Like his predecessor, Johnson started out at the bottom of the social ladder. As a young man he was an indentured servant. But while in Lincoln early deprivation sparked open-mindedness, political dexterity and fellow feeling for the downtrodden, including slaves, Johnson was not only stubborn and self-absorbed, but incorrigibly racist. During the Civil War he came to embrace emancipation, but mostly because he believed it would liberate poorer white farmers from the tyranny of wealthy planters, whom he called the slaveocracy. His sympathy didn’t extend to the slaves themselves.

Johnson didn’t lack for personal courage. As a senator from Tennessee he remained loyal to the Union and continued to occupy his seat after his state seceded in 1861. Appointed military governor by Lincoln, he won plaudits in the North for denouncing secessionists as traitors and taking vigorous action against them, jailing local officials and newspaper editors. The Republican Party nominated him as Lincoln’s running mate in 1864 in the hope of attracting a large cadre of white Southerners who opposed secession.

When Johnson became president, Congress was not in session – in the peculiar political calendar of the 19th century, a Congress did not meet until more than a year after it was elected – and for several months he had a free hand in developing Reconstruction policy. He seized the opportunity to set up new governments in the South controlled entirely by whites. These abolished slavery – they had no choice – but enacted a series of laws called the Black Codes to define the freedom African Americans now enjoyed. They had virtually no civil or political rights, and all adult black men were required to sign a labor contract with a white employer at the beginning of each year or be deemed a vagrant and sold to anyone who would pay the fine. Abandoning his hatred of the slaveocracy, Johnson handed out pardons indiscriminately to wealthy Confederates who asked for them and ordered that land the federal government had allocated to former slaves be restored to the previous owners.

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There is a war going on in our current information ecosystem. It is a war of propaganda, emotional manipulation, blatant or unconscious lies. It is nothing new, but is reaching a new intensity as our technology evolves. The result is that it has become harder and harder to make sense of the world, with potentially fatal consequences. If we can’t make sense of the world, neither can we make good decisions or meet the many challenges we face as a species.

Today Facebook and Instagram hire psychologists to get us hooked; our feelings and opinions are used to generate cash for the very few, while creating a state of distraction and chronic addiction for many. Bad actors with with multiple, overlapping motivations pollute the information ecology for political and financial gain. In the market of attention, we are playing zero-sum games that have a few winners and a lot of losers.

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  1. john ignoffo October 5, 2020

    Thanks for the Sartre quote yesterday. When Mr C. Hedges recently repeated it, I naively assumed it was his own. My AVA education continues.

  2. Marshall Newman October 5, 2020

    Regarding today’s “Eds Notes:” It is a puzzle why President Donald Trump and his spokesmen and spokeswomen are such lousy liars. They lie so often, you’d think they would be more adept!

  3. Stanley Kelley October 5, 2020

    I have listened to Amy Goodman voicing some bullshit about a matter I knew something about. That meant I couldn’t trust her on matters I knew little about

    • Joe October 5, 2020

      While much of public radio is funded by the public there is other money flowing into it from special interests both private, political and government just like in any other part of American society. Follow the money and you will understand the narrative .

    • James Marmon October 5, 2020

      Just like I posted yesterday, he said “politicizing” Covid was “the new hoax”, watch it again. And of course the little clip you showed was taken out of context. The sentences before and after will be more enlightening if you care to seek truth. Oh by the way, I have a bridge for sale if you’re interested.


      • James Marmon October 5, 2020

        Another thing, Trump was the first official to recommend face coverings. That went against the Surgeon General and CDC guidance at the time. Check it out, April 1, 2020. Two days later both the CDC and Surgeon General change their guidance and recommended folks use cloth coverings.


        • Marshall Newman October 5, 2020

          He also said, several times, covid would just “disappear.”

          • James Marmon October 5, 2020

            He also gave us hope by doing so. Whether it was a false sense of hope or not, it kept us going. Masks do the same thing, there’s no science saying they work but people feel safer with them on. Try thinking this thing through Mr. Newman, a sense of hopelessness and panic would have been the worst thing for this Country no matter what political party you belong to.


          • Harvey Reading October 5, 2020

            Except that only idiots believed the orange hog, James. His bellowing did nothing at all to, “…keep us going.” At best, it provided minor comic relief, except among his cult followers, his moronic true believers. Try thinking it through, James…

    • Douglas Coulter October 6, 2020

      The hoax is mr Orange Hog, as the return of OJ Simpson, dominator of all thing media. I remember 2 years OJ hogged the nation news. The orange hog has done it world wide and no one seems to notice what is missing?
      So far AVA has been my only scorce local. Jewish news and The Intercept.
      There is shit going down on planet earth and we watch this clown juggle bad.

  4. Joe October 5, 2020


    When I look at the Influenza illness statistics on the CDC website nothing seems to jump out at me as the 2019-2020 year looks very similar to previous years at this point. As a matter of fact 2019 with 61,099 deaths vs 2020 with 21,909 deaths it looks like it could wind up a similar total when all is said and done. Of course there are all sorts of numbers out there being constantly revised but this is worth looking at;

    Considering the CDC data I would have to conclude that regarding the White house flu gate – “Some folks got the flu”

    and even more astounding is the fact that- “Some folks gave other folks the flu”

    It is possible that history may look back on 2020 as the year when a bad flu season propelled by hyperbolic political bullshit destroyed America .

  5. Lazarus October 5, 2020


    The 49ers needed something, maybe that mojo green?

    Be Swell,

  6. Joe October 5, 2020

    RE Ayn Rand; Is Mendocino already an “anti-economy” ?

    “Many people have their own theory about the way the world should work, but few combine it with action. Today on The Corbett Report we explore the writings of Samuel Konkin, and how his central idea, agorism, combines the theory and practice of freedom through counter-economic action. Agora! Anarchy! Action!”

    More on Konkin, a leftist libertarian;

  7. Joe October 5, 2020

    Scandinavian countries all have market economies and are not socialist countries by definition.

    The Scandinavian countries all have far-left parties. Almost nobody votes for them. At the last Norwegian election the Socialist Left party got 6% of the vote. Denmark’s Socialist Party got 4.2%. The Finnish Communists received 0.25%, while Sweden’s Communists only managed 0.1%. Scandinavians don’t want to try Marx’s ideas.

  8. James Marmon October 5, 2020

    “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

    -Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
    9 min. ago

  9. John Robert October 5, 2020

    Failed Pot Program
    Failed Measure B initiative

    How is it that the CEO Carmel J. Angelo still has her overpaid Job?
    Fire the do nothing slouch!

    • James Marmon October 5, 2020

      Don’t forget about the failed privatized mental health system that the Measure B tax is having to supplement.


    • Mark Scaramella October 5, 2020

      I don’t disagree with the general tone of Mr. Robert’s suggestion. But I don’t blame her for either of the failures mentioned. She’s overpaid and way too much of a micromanager and puts loyalty over competence and blocks the Supervisors from even trying to do their job, and more. Which would be more than enough reason to at least let her contract lapse when it comes up soon. But neither the Supervisors or the Supervisor-elects have even the slightest inclination of doing that or anything else to exercise their elected duties.

    • Bruce McEwen October 5, 2020

      “Fire the do nothing slouch!” –?

      Please. That’s callow and bordering on rude.

      Let’s try something more urbane.

      How ’bout his one: “Retire the busybody sauerpuss, the misnamed Caramel of the Angels, give her her Golden Parachute, and show her over the taffrail.”

      OK: Your turn.

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