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DRY WEATHER is expected through Sunday morning with cold nights and mild days. Light rain will return mostly north of Cape Mendocino Sunday afternoon into Monday, with additional light rain possible late Tuesday into Wednesday. (NWS)
BIG JUMP OF 30 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Thursday bringing the total to 1368.
CALIFORNIA IMPOSES OVERNIGHT CURFEW TO CURB CORONAVIRUS (Mendo too)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is imposing an overnight curfew as the most populous state tries to head off a surge in coronavirus cases
California issues 'limited' curfew amid COVID surge (10pm to 5am)
Order is for counties in the purple tier with widespread COVID-19 cases
California has issued a "limited," month-long curfew starting Saturday for counties in the purple tier with widespread COVID-19 cases.
During the overnight curfew period, Californians are still able to go to the grocery or drug store, get takeout from a restaurant or walk the dog, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's top health official.
CEO REPORT COVID ITEMS
COVID-19 Response and Statistics (as of Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020)
County employees have used the following Emergency Paid Sick Leave, Emergency FMLA (for childcare), and Advanced Sick Leave since the availability of the benefits on April 1, 2020: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) for Employee Personal use only:
• Currently on sick leave: 7
• Returned to work from sick leave: 83
• No longer County employed: 3
• Total employees: 93
FMLA (Family & Medical Leave Act)/EPSL (Extended Paid Sick Leave) for Child Care Reasons:
• Continuous leave: 3
• Intermittent Leave: 39
• Returned from FMLA: 23
• No longer County employed: 3
• Total employees: 68
Advanced Sick Leave:
• Total employees: 17
There has been an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases throughout California, particularly within the last 10 days. Mendocino County has also seen a rise in cases. Within the last seven days, our County’s case rate (average number of new cases per day) has jumped by 69%, bringing our total positive cases to date to 1,311. Because of this surge, Mendocino County Public Health was alerted by the State that our County has officially re-entered Purple Tier 1, or “widespread” COVID-19 community risk status, effective Tuesday, November 17, 2020. As of today, 41 of the 58 counties in California are now in the Purple Tier 1 as a result of the State’s revision. Please see the attached press release for details. Public Health will be releasing a revised Shelter-In-Place Order and gathering guidance to clarify changes around gatherings due to the Purple Tier.
WHO IS IT?
On November 4th, 2020, around 4:00 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to a suspicious circumstances on private property located in the area of the 11000 block of Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA. The reporting party discovered what he believed might be human remains on a remote property.
Upon arrival deputies searched the immediate area and located additional items of personal property, clothing and bones consistent with those of possible human remains. Based on the nature of the scene, animal activity was suspected of causing some of the disturbance leading to a larger search of the property. The remains were located in an advanced state of decomposition. Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Detectives were dispatched to the location where the investigation continued into November 5th, 2020. The human remains were subsequently collected and with an initial autopsy performed confirmed the remains were human. The case is currently being investigated as a possible suspicious death/homicide. Due to the advance stages of decay, identification of the decedent was not immediately possible and is pending DNA comparison and analysis.
At this time the decedent remains unidentified. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is requesting anyone in the area of the 10000 block through 15000 block of Low Gap Road, from September 15 through November 4th, who may have observed any suspicious activity or person(s) in that area, to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Investigations Bureau at 707-463-4421 or the MCSO Tip-Line at 707-234-2100.
NICOLE SMITH SHOOTING DEATH MYSTERY
The starlight shone upon the Mendocino Coastline in the early morning of November 19, 2017. Nestled in after an evening of laughter and dance, 32-year-old Nicole Smith and her family slept, not knowing that death approached.
At approximately 4:00 a.m., gunfire rang out, and bullets pierced the walls of the home. By the sun’s rise, Nicole Smith would be dead, and on the third anniversary of her murder, Nicole's family still seeks answers.
AVCSD WASTEWATER PROJECT ZOOM PANEL DISCUSSION
December 3, 2020 10:30am
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Board will be addressing questions concerning the proposed wastewater treatment system in Boonville.
Zoom meeting ID: 845 5084 3330 password: 048078
Or call in: 1 (669) 900-6833
You will have an opportunity to type questions using the chat box in Zoom. Alternatively, if you choose to only call in or cannot attend, you may e-mail your questions no later than 10:00am on December 3rd to firstname.lastname@example.org. Audio will be posted on website: www.avcsd.org/watersewer.php
Here are the questions and the Zoom info for the 12/3/20 meeting. Folks can submit questions by email, call in before the meeting, and also during the presentation. Our manager, Joy, will then pose the questions to the engineers during the Q&A after questions 1-7 are covered. We are typing up the whole presentation and we will send the AVA the transcript. We will post the transcript on the Water Project website and have it available for distribution. So if people can't make the actual Zoom meeting they can still get a transcript of everything that was said and see how concerns were addressed. We considered putting the audio on the website but were counseled that audios are very difficult to follow and a transcript would be better.
Questions to be addressed at the 12/3/20 Zoom meeting:
1. What is the proposed “MBR” system? Why are these being used world-wide instead of old-fashioned sewage treatment facilities?
2. Why is the State (Prop 1) picking up all the costs (no connection fee!) for this $16 Million project?
3. Why installing a municipal Drinking Water system alone does not solve our contamination and health issues.
4. Why rebuilding our burned buildings and dealing with our blight require Waste Water hook ups.
5. Why a Waste Water Municipal system allows you to develop your parcel to allow more housing density.
6. Why a municipal project is the easiest way to deal with increasing regulation of septic systems and leach fields in the future.
7. What would be the benefits to the Fairgrounds to site the project?
VIRGINIA SHARKEY AT PARTNERS GALLERY
Partners is now strictly online, and Ms. Sharkey's fine work can be found at this link: partnersgallery.com/online-exhibits/visual-metaphors-3
QUEEN SIZE MURPHY BED includes mattress. Good condition, must pick up in Yorkville. It’s heavy! Please call kristina @ 415/342-1540
MUSSELS, CLAMS, WHOLE SCALLOPS
Mendocino County has received results showing dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins in mussels. The naturally occurring PSP toxins can cause illness or death in humans. Cooking does not destroy the toxin. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising consumers not to eat sport-harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from Mendocino County. This is in addition to the Health Advisories for bivalve shellfish in Humboldt County and Sonoma County due to elevated levels of PSP toxins.
PSP toxins affect the central nervous system, producing a tingling around the mouth and fingertips within a few minutes to a few hours after eating toxic shellfish. These symptoms are typically followed by loss of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. In severe poisonings, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur.
This warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. State law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins.
You can get the most current information on shellfish advisories and quarantines by calling CDPH’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133 or by viewing the recreational bivalve shellfish advisory interactive map here: oehha.ca.gov/fish/ca-fishmap
For additional information, please visit the CDPH Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Web page here: cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DRSEM/Pages/EMB/Shellfish/Shellfish-Program.aspx
A MONTH AFTER FREEZES BEGAN…
UPDATE ON THE COAST WINTER SHELTER:
We have been hard at work for months planning for this year's Winter Shelter. We will have more details soon. But we are pleased to announce that at today’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors adopted an Urgency Ordinance to allow Temporary Group Care Facilities without a Use Permit in the unincorporated area of the coast. This will allow MCHC to utilize a facility outside of city limits for one month of this season’s Coast Winter Shelter. We appreciate the effort by Mendocino County Planning Department to assist us in overcoming this barrier.
While we have overcome one hurdle, we now urgently need the help of our community in finding the full complement of staff for this important service. While the part time position of Administrator and night time supervisors is temporary, they are critical to the success of this program to help the most vulnerable people among us experiencing street level homelessness, during the winter of this pandemic.
We have job postings on our FaceBook page, Website and other sites. Please share and help us find those special people.
PHILO-BASED ORGASM CULT UNDER FBI INVESTIGATION
A wellness company that was branded a 'sex cult' for claiming that female orgasms could be used to 'change the world' is under investigation by the FBI over allegations including sex trafficking, prostitution and violations of labor laws.
CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (CMA) officials were among the guests seated next to Governor Newsom at Jason Kinney's opulent and mask-less 50th birthday dinner at the French Laundry restaurant this month. Kinney's described in press accounts of the infamous meal as "a top California political operative and advisor to Newsom." CMA's CEO Dustin Corcoran and top CMA lobbyist Janus Norman both joined the dinner at the French Laundry.
PIETER ZATCO, aka "Midge," has been hired by Twitter to make Twitter hack-proof. Isn't "Midge" the infamous hacker who said he could shut down the whole world in thirty minutes? I'm assuming he meant the cyber-sectors of the world but still that's a lotta world given that the world's infrastructure runs on these mysterious ethers.
"THE SILENCE" is Don DeLillo's latest. It's a fast read at around a hundred pages based on a sudden takedown of cyber-world. The U.S. immediately goes dark. Name the disaster and it's on as everything from millions stuck in stalled elevators to coast-to-coast car crashes as stop lights go out. A couple flying home crash-lands, a guy watching a football game stares at the screen where the game has disappeared, a young guy goes deep with staccato explanations for what's happened — algorithmic governances; gravitational waves; sypersymmetries. DeLillo says his What If exercise was inspired by the empty city streets of the first covid shutdown. BTW, if you've never read “Libra,” DeLillo's re-imagining of the Kennedy assassination, if it was an assassination, it probably happened as DeLillo brilliantly describes it. (I recommend “Libra” with some trepidation that the combined forces of the Grassy Knoll Gang and the Building 7 Cadre will now inundate the Boonville weekly with The Truth About What Really Happened.)
WE'VE OFTEN NOTED, that for a small population of people, Mendocino County is more often in the national and even international news than seems mathematically likely. The unseemly notoriety descended on us in the 1970s when psycho-killers and soon infamous chomos, fitting right in with Do Your Own Thing-ism promoted by the counterculture, did their various things until finally suppressed in a blizzard of headlines. Jonestown was the capper of the period, word of which stunned the world on November 18th, 1978 featuring as it did, the amphetamine-driven psychotic, Jim Jones, once one of inland Mendocino County's leading citizens and foreman of our grand jury. Jones capitalized himself in Mendo via a series of government-funded care homes, and moved on to San Francisco where he seduced Big Lib — the city's Democratic Party — even faster than he'd seduced us rubes. Here in Mendo, people we all knew had disappeared — a produce guy at Safeway, a UPS driver, a gaggle of social workers. Jones would have loved the Cancel Culture, and would have had his entire congregation in Fort Bragg to get the town's name changed. Nobody played the race card better than this guy, played it right up to the day he cancelled his whole church.
HAPPENED to be in the always happening Navarro Store peddling my papers when the government appeared in the form of a very young woman from the home office in Ukiah checking the business for covid-adherence. “This looks great,” she said, scanning the covid-prepped premises. “You're doing fine,” and she was out the door, waving her Mendo ID as she departed.
MEDIA NOTE: "The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has partnered with KUKI-FM 103.3 - True County (https://kukifm.com/?pg=1013) to do a weekly live radio segment called 'Mendocino County In Focus' with long time radio personality Roe Edmonds. These 5 to 15 minute long segments with Sheriff's Captain Greg Van Patten highlight such things as public safety announcements, incident/event updates and Sheriff's Office services. The segments are scheduled for Fridays at the 8:00 AM hour. If you have any suggestions for topics to be discussed during a segment then please let us know in the comments section."
WHAT THIS COUNTY needs is a no-holds daily talk show. In these seething times all we get from audio is a lot of bum-nuzzling and self-promos from various county administrators and dreary personalities on KZYX. Used to be we had Ed Kowas in Fort Bragg and a couple of people in Ukiah who talked about whatever callers wanted to talk about.
A FACEBOOKER rightly wonders where the covid testing went: “I would appreciate an update about Covid testing now that the County has allowed the UCSF contract to lapse. We have gone from having easy and free testing to ?? just as families are traveling and the case numbers soar. Can the decision to drop easily available testing be revisited? Can the UCSF contract be renewed?”
SELF-GUIDED AUDIO TOUR OF THE 2020-2022 CLOVERDALE SCULPTURE TRAIL
See, Hear, Explore the 2020-2022 Cloverdale Sculpture Trail in the safety of your home. A self-guided, audio tour of the exhibit is possible through the use of Otocast’s free app.
The Cloverdale Sculpture Trail, established in 2003 is a year-round public art exhibit with sculptures changing every 12 months with the exception of 2021 due to the COVID-19. The Trail is designed to enhance the Cloverdale public environment and promote an understanding and enjoyment of public art and sculptures for Cloverdale residents and visitors.
To enjoy the audio guide download through Google Play or the Apple App Store the free Otocast app; this includes the Cloverdale Sculpture Trail among its guides.
The current sculptures are displayed on a map with directions to the locations if you are in or near Cloverdale. The tour includes sculptor information, an image of each sculpture and best of all, the audio comes from the actual artists describing his or her sculpture you are viewing.
This year we have added a new feature, you can select to hear the artists’ audio in English or Spanish.
After taking the self-guided tour select your favorite sculpture, then visit our website www.cloverdalesculpturetrail.org. and vote for your favorite to win the People’s Choice Award. Voting ends January 2nd.
Enjoy the experience of public art in Cloverdale.
OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
RE: "Request for Qualifications (RFQ) announces the intent of the County of Mendocino to seek services from qualified professional planning service firms and contractors for the purpose of providing Planning Services related to cannabis cultivation for Mendocino County."
I read the above RFP with great interest.
I'm curious, however. Why do we have county cannabis planning department? How many staff members does that department have? What do they do exactly? How much do they get paid? What is their department's budget line item?
And are they a waste of money, if the county is now contracting out for the work they should be doing themselves?
John Sakowicz, Ukiah
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 19, 2020
RAQUEL ARNOLD, Upper Lake/Ukiah. DUI.
JOHN COOK, Ukiah. Ammo possession by prohibited person, parole violation, resisting.
TIFFANY HERNLUND, Ukiah. Burglary, taking vehicle without ownern’s consent, stolen property, vandalism.
JESUS MACIAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
AMANDA NALLEY, Lakeport/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent.
JESSICA OSBORN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
DANIEL ROSAS, Clarksville, Tennessee/Ukiah. DUI.
GEORGINA YATES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear.
WHOSE LIGHT IS IT, ANYWAY?
by Williams Grimes
It’s difficult to imagine any juxtaposition between the Rod Serling’s ‘60s epic television series, “The Twilight Zone, and Don DeLillo’s new novel “The Silence,” but I have so found. The wellspring of this discovery is The New York Review of Books, the bi-monthly examination of literature and other forms of art. In successive issues is included a review by Andrew Delbanco of a new book, The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television which leads with the intriguing words “[the book]…demonstrates how the show’s punch-line-twist endings are actually the least reason for its enduring hold over the public imagination.” In today’s following issue is a review headlined on the cover as “Don DeLillo’s Apocalypses,” and titled inside ‘The Sense of an Ending” by Michael Gorra which begins with “The Silence is full of voices, a work of talky minimalism whose characters are all troubled by the absence of sound.”
So what’s the connection, Scotty?
After Delbanco takes us through Serling’s early life: born in upstate new work to a Jewish couple, his father a part-time inventor, his mother a housewife, Serling upon graduation from high school enlists in the army with hopes of “fighting the Nazis in Europe” instead is sent to the Philippines in 1945 where he becomes a paratrooper. Returning he lands a job at a radio station as a talk show host in Cincinnati where he begins writing short stories on the side until he decides to head to Los Angeles to write scripts for America’s new big thing: television.
Delbanco writes “His (Serling) and his eventual audience were indeed caught between the familiar past and an unknown future. They stood dazed in a no-longer-recognizable world, flooded with strange new technologies, vastly expansionist corporate or federal jurisdictions, and once-unfathomable ideologies.”
After finding jobs writing on a number of drama and comedic TV programs he comes up with the idea for The Twilight Zone” and sells it to CBS. It becomes a “monster hit” in TV biz lingo with themes of catastrophe, paranoia (DeLillo’s specialities in print) sci-fi, memory loss, and pop culture, with the main theme, according to the reviewer, “you are not what you took yourself to be,” and “you are not where you thought you were.”
In closing Mr. Delbanco writes with seeping pessimism, “We’re full-time where Serling expected us to live: on the edge of dysfunction, craving and dreading human contact, stalked by a menace that seems nowhere and everywhere.” And in conclusion “Don’t look for it (dystopia) in the Twilight Zone—-look for it in the mirror. Look before the light goes out altogether.
DeLillo, Bronx born, who after college became a copy writer at an ad agency, writes in The Silence, his eighteenth novel that ends with “all the light everywhere out,” but leaves no clue as to whether it will ever be restored. Delbanco’s “altogether” suggests light’s not all out. Not yet.
Martin Amis in this same publication in 2011 wrote, “DeLillo is the laureate of terror, of modern or postmodern terror, and the way it hovers and shimmers in our subliminal minds. As Eric Hobsbawm has said, terrorism is a new kind of urban pollution, and the pollutant is an insidious and chronic disquiet. Such is the air DeLillo breathes.”
From novels on the JFK assassination (Libra,) to a nuclear attack on the US (White Noise,) and to 9/11 (Falling Man,) DeLillo has “had an eye for iconic moments of violence,” Mr. Gorra writes in this review of The Silence.
In this slim novel there is an absence of violence, just dread that something is happening, has in an instant happened, but you don’t know what it is. Its epigraph cites a quote from Einstein which provides a clue to what’s to come though DeLillo leaves that for us to decide. “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
The story takes place in a New York City apartment as three people have switched on the TV to watch the 2020 Super Bowl game. Suddenly the screen turns blank, the lights go out. Out the window Manhattan is blanketed in black. Two others arrive and they talk and talk with no clue what has happened. Is it a power problem like PG&E’s in northern California? Is an emergent test managed by the Department of Home Security? Have the Chinese hacked our power grid? The dinner-to-be becomes cold, happily there’s enough Scotch to get by until….what? Light is restored and the game comes in with time still on the clock.
The book ends before the light comes back if it does.
LIGHT. The Life. The Next Normal?
THE LUNCH HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
So, Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a dinner party in Napa with about 12 people. He got caught going against everything he has been telling us to do (or not do) during the pandemic. Do you mean to tell me that he didn’t know how many people were going to be there and the political fallout he would have to deal with if he attended? With a slight smirk or grimace of pain on his face, he apologized for his actions. I’m sorry, but his apology smelled as bad as a case of rotting cheese. This is another case of “do what I tell you to do, not do what I do.” People should be getting fed up with his “I know what is good for you” attitude. Maybe it is time to start looking for his replacement.
ON LINE ANECDOTE OF THE DAY
I was in Walmart today and a lady basically ran past the front door lady who had to be like 75+ and when the lady tried to stop her and tell her that her kids who looked to be 5 and 7 years old, that they needed a mask she started screaming at the poor old lady "it's not a law, I know my rights" all while basically running away from this poor old woman. You could see the poor lady almost tear up and that she just didn't want to or have the energy to get into a yelling match with some idiot who didn't care about her own children's health. Sad really. She was off down the isles before I could say anything about it but multiple people were like "yo lady your kids need masks" and "do you not care about your children's health!?" We just walked around walmart calling her Karen and saying that we pray that her kids don't learn by example in this case. Sad. Walmart employees did nothing as far as I know. Parents who don't care about their children's well-being, If those kids get sick and die the parent should be charged with murder!! Masks help!! Masks work!! Wear them!! Period!! End of discussion!! If people would wear them maybe we wouldn't be seeing an increase of cases right now, but noooo!! Idiots!!
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
How about we set aside two or three days a week when not one person who acts stupidly goes outside their homes and lets the rest of us do our shopping and other chores without being endangered by the unwise?
How about we take all the unwise and let them hang out together in big closed rooms, tightly crowded so that they all get a good dose and then have them go back and close themselves off for a couple of weeks. Then the ones who are still living can come back out without spreading the virus to the rest of us.
Geeze, you people just don't understand taking responsibility for your behavior do you. Your philosophy is if you break it someone else should pay for it. Bunch of damned freeloaders who don't give a crap about anyone who is not them. Mini-Donalds.
FRIC OR FRAC? FRIC!
Too tired too!
We have taken Fric and Frac to task, to the end. Thank God! Looks like we will have Fric in the White House on the throne for the next four years. God help us!
I got my crap packed and see my bus coming just down the road. This bus don't stop in Milpitas or…! See ya on the other side, perhaps.
Before I board let me tell you just a few things that I'm sick and tired of, i.e. your going to be stuck with:
Black lives matter continually. "Just how much is enough," send me a card when it's over.
Teens peaceful protests seen by the mayor. "Broken windows, looting, burning, whatever we will burn."
Lawbreakers breaking the law on camera then complaining about being detained.
TV News showing police aggression against the black folks with no TV show time for white perps. They do exist, don't they? Apparently cracker news is just not a big seller! Without equanimity? Look that one up.
TV/radio covid 19 counts, the cases versus deaths over and over!
TV news showing the Republicans and Democrats constant fighting and verbal bashing each other most of the time. Oh my! Those poor legislators must be working overtime and weekends to get all those pressing bills passed. They surely need more money and more time off. Yeah right! If it were not such a travesty it could be… Can't say it! Or maybe in Boontling, Burlap it! Perhaps a new TV show! Had enough? Me too!
Wait just a minute:
Gran said, Old Doc Winters stopped by the other evening and wanted to know how long I have had this bad cough. He wanted to know if I've ever been bedridden. With great trepidation he was told, "Two times and once in a buggy." He blinked twice, wiped off his face with a small white hanky, grabbed up his small black bag and made it out the back door. He grabbed up a large bag of peanut butter cookies and said, "No bill!" I waved goodbye as he made a hasty retreat in his one-horse surry down the lane. More cookies Gran! The doc cleaned us out."
Love you, Gran.
God bless America, Fric, Doc Winters, Jerry Philbrick.
Over and out,
MICHAEL NOLAN OF COMPTCHE REMEMBERS:
Nightlife -- September 9, 1965. 2:30 AM. As the night manager of the Chicago Playboy club I was closing up. It had been a wonderful, hectic evening -- very crowded and exciting. The hottest jazz band of the era has just appeared in the hottest nightclub of the era -- but now that the crowd is gone, the employees have left, the house lights are off, the doors locked and I was making my last rounds to be sure that no one was still inside. And here comes a big colored guy walking down the hall toward me. I'm surprised to see him but even more surprised to see a travel chess board under his arm. I blurt out, "So you play chess?" He said, "Yes. Do you?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Do you want to play?" We set up the board on a desk in the receptionist area and played a long and hard fought game. When I got home Anne said, "It's really late. Where have you been?" I said, "Playing chess with Dizzy Gillespie." She said, "Oh sure."
by Matt Taibbi
First of all, apologies for being absent. As you’ll see, I’ve been busy, designing some new things.
When I first switched over to Substack, I had a vague thought of expanding. Ideas included hiring younger reporters to contribute investigative features, adding a video or multimedia component, and finally, using Substack to create a magazine-like structure in which the longer articles would be buttressed by weekly or monthly columns, cartoons, Q&A sections, and other (hopefully) funny or interesting items.
Beginning this week, I’ll be introducing most of these elements through a new newsletter called TK Weekly (which will probably be more like a bi-weekly, but call that part of the joke). Subscribers will receive this regular editor’s note in addition to the essays and reported pieces already being published on this site.
I’m not at the stage of hiring full-time reporters yet, but I’ve begun bringing in outside help on a few projects here and there, with the aim of eventually making this a space for writers, researchers, cartoonists, etc., to contribute material that might not have a home in mainstream outlets.
TK is typesetting and journalistic slang for “to come.” Yes, I know the last word is spelled with a “c.” There are several weird legends, all of which I hope are true, as to why “TK” came into use, the most plausible being that it’s a rare letter combo no one would mistake for intentional text. TK is what reporters insert when we expect to have something cool or necessary in the text, or have told editors to expect it, but don’t have the goods yet. For instance: “Exclusive quote from Senator TK” or “Goldman confession TK.”
At Rolling Stone, editors called memorably-written passages filled with trenchant observations “wisdoms.” As a result, liner notes to a draft sent back to me might read something like, “You need a wisdom here,” or “Wisdom TK.”
When I started to think about a more magazine-like format on Substack, in both my mind and in notes I started to refer to “TK Magazine” or “News TK” or “TK by Matt Taibbi.” Meaning, I planned to come up with a cool name like Private Eye or Black Mask or Matt Taibbi’s Daily Atrocity, or whatever. Instead, over time I just got used to TK, finding it both amusing and annoying. As it happens, these are two of the more important qualities in a logo.
As TK is a little like a child who was never wanted, I reserve the right (one all publishers claim) to abuse and humiliate my logo as needed for marketing purposes. That might mean sticking Santa hats on it at Christmas, surrounding it with black cats, fog, and pumpkins at Halloween, wedging a hideous sombrero on it on Cinco de Mayo, etc. A turkey with a T and a K in place of drumsticks is already being designed for the coming weeks.
As for the newsletter contents, here’s a list, with links to the first entries:
“Pandemic Villains.” A column highlighting the worst examples of companies and/or politicians taking advantage of the Covid-19 disaster to enrich themselves at the expense of others. The first installment looks at Allianz, the German financial giant that earlier this year reprised the role played by AIG in 2008, reportedly decimating the retirement funds of teachers, subway workers, Teamsters, bricklayers, health professionals, and a slew of other ordinary Americans through a complex longshot bet that would embarrass the worst horse-racing addict. See here for “Pandemic Villains: Allianz Global Investors.”
“Workplace Lingo.” Every field has its own language. The key to understanding how any organization works is usually to ignore what bosses say about how their offices or workplaces operate, and learn the on-site jargon. With military accounting, for instance, one could teach a college course just on the meaning of terms like “plug” or “unsupported adjustment” — it took me months to fight through the first layer of that language when I tried a few years back. At Substack, long-term plans involve dives into the language of private equity trades and congressional appropriations, as well as column-length glimpses into the jargon used by mental health workers, commercial pilots, land surveyors, and other workers. The first installment, “Workplace Lingo: One-Three-Five,” fits the latter category and takes a look at life inside the Social Security Administration. This is an idea that I’m going to develop more when the pandemic subsides and I’m able to spend more time physically visiting workplaces.
“Meet the Censored.” The campaign to clamp down on speech has been cleverly marketed. The headline “victims” of big-tech content moderation have mostly been figures unsympathetic to upper-class readers, like Alex Jones, the followers of QAnon, the writers of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, and Donald Trump himself. As a result, mainstream audiences mostly don’t care about even dramatic developments in this direction, which in fact impact people across the political spectrum. The most vulnerable are from the world of independent/alternative media, where the financial implications of such actions can be devastating. Examples range from the World Socialist Web Site to Reverb Press to Cop Watch. This site will regularly interview people in that latter category, with the first entry, “Meet The Censored: Ford Fischer” featuring a well-known shooter of protest footage, whose career raises the question: how can an AI-driven speech-regulation machine tell the difference between someone who’s covering extremist movements, and someone promoting them?
“Vox Pop.” The “man on the street” interview is a journalistic cliché with a long tradition. Typically, when a small town or an obscure city neighborhood makes national news, reporters will rush there, find the nearest warm body, coax out a hot take involving the Big National Angle they care about, then disappear without asking anything else.
We’ll ask people temporarily stuck in the geographical middle of national news phenomena what they do for fun, what’s the best way to cook a grouper, what they think of the DH rule, etc. — anything at all, before we get to the national issue at hand. In other words, we’ll try to at least sit through dinner before attempting to tear the interviewee’s clothes off. The first entry, “Vox Pop: Starr County,” interviews Oscar Gonzalez, from the county with the highest percentage of Latino voters in the country. Starr made news on Election Night thanks to some surprising results compared to 2016.
Some more news items on the way:
“The Mashup” will involve collaborations with various videographers. The first installment, a mini-doc produced as a companion to a longer written piece, should be out in the next week or so.
“S—t Public Defenders See” will rely on friends in the most overworked, underappreciated wing of the legal profession to tell us stories about commonplace lunacies of the criminal justice system. PDs, amusingly, chose the title of this rubric. Examples will include things like getting acquitted of a crime and still owing the state over tens of thousands in fees for pretrial monitoring and incarceration, paying for the DNA test used to convict you, etc.
“Fun with FOIA.” Out of respect to the taxpayer, I’ll try to confine FOIA searches to actually newsworthy matters, like, say, official correspondence between contract-awarding agencies and certain lobbyists. I can’t however promise my juvenile side won’t kick in occasionally and do something like ask the U.S. Navy to send all records of “collisions or encounters” with “whales, dolphins, or other cetaceans” (ok, I just did that). Incidentally, if any subscriber has done a FOIA search on anything at all, and wishes to share the results, I’m willing to publish anything in the public interest. I will also make requests on your behalf, if you’ve got a good query.
The last items on this week’s list fall generally under the category of what magazine people call “Front of the Book” material, i.e. the shortish pieces that fill the gap between the table of contents and the “feature well,” i.e. the main articles.
I grew up addicted to the records of comics like Richard Pryor and to humor/satire mags like Mad, National Lampoon, and especially Spy. They left me with a worldview I still have, i.e. that comedians and journalists are both vaguely in the truth-telling business, except comedians are better at it. When I went into the media myself, I saw the relationship was more profound than I’d guessed. A comic gets laughs by telling obvious truths that everyone is afraid to say out loud. Sadly, this includes people in the news business, who supposedly are paid to do that exact work, but mostly don’t.
If reporters had the guts to laugh at military propaganda, Bill Hicks couldn’t have collected paychecks doing bits about Iraq’s “Elite Republican Guard,” whom generals, anchormen, and news editors alike couldn’t stop hyping in the runup to the first Iraq War. We were repeatedly told America was taking on the vaunted “fourth largest army in the world,” against soldiers who, as Hicks put it, were “ten feet tall” and “shit bullets.”
Only, after a week of carpet bombing, the enemy being described on TV went from being, as Hicks put it, “the ‘Elite Republican Guard,’ to just the ‘Republican Guard,’ to ‘the Republicans made this shit up about there being guards out there.’”
The innovation of Spy, a creation of writers escaped from the tar-pits of weekly news magazine work, was that doing a good job gathering facts about something stupid or inane was better for the world, and for the collective psyche of readers, than doing a bad job writing about the “elite Republican guard” or whatever other absurd legends were being foisted upon the public.
So they put tons of effort into things like surveying the percentage of New Yorkers on the street who correctly knew the fastest way to Carnegie Hall (“Practice, practice, practice”). Or, they’d spend a month checking which consumer complaint was answered more quickly, the one to the Campbell’s Soup Company (soup “too gelatinous; couldn’t separate the little O’s”) or to Ralston Purina (“extreme flatulence after eating product; resulting embarrassment”). Getting serious people to answer unserious questions is a useful genre of journalism, by comparison. It can be satisfying for audiences used to being inundated with the opposite, i.e. unserious topics and transparent myths presented as serious news.
In that spirit, TK offers a few items.
“Know Your Biden” is a quiz — hopefully pretty hard — testing whether you can distinguish the memoirs of your new president from those of another world leader.
“TK Books” will sometimes be an earnest review of whatever I’m reading, but more often it’s going to be another reader-participation deal ripped off from the old Dictionary game, in which you have to guess if the passages presented are from a newly-released book, or whether I made it up. The first entry, “McConaughey or Not?” is a test to see if you can spot what’s a real passage from the Texan actor’s new book, Greenlights, and which passage is actually me killing time before the Patriots game.
“Comics Rate Journo-Humor” asks comedian Tim Dillon and Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman to give thumbs up or down on pun headlines, joke ledes and other press efforts at comedy.
We’ll also be dusting off Substack’s discussion tool for “TK Math,” a blunt ripoff of the old Celebrity Math series.
In “Ask the Experts,” a chemistry professor calculates how many cancers might be treated with a Trump-sized piece of Cesium-137.
I know a lot of you who subscribed did not sign up for pranks or charts or joke book reviews. So I won’t fill your email inboxes with this material. In the newsletter format, it’s voluntary — you can take it or leave it.
I’ll still be writing columns, commentary, and reported features, and you’ll get those by email. If and when we start including the bylined investigative work of other writers, which is coming soon, you’ll get that by mail as well.
The rest of it, however, from the more serious and reported (like the Public Defenders’ tales) to the silly (TK Math), I’ll just send as an annotated list. Each item will be linked and accessible to subscribers. The newsletter will also include extras that aren’t part of an editorial plan, but might be of interest, like for instance the text of a speech I gave to the Park Center for Independent Media, during its Izzy Awards ceremony. Just like a magazine, you can read it or not, it’s up to you.
Those of you who know my history know that I’ve always toggled back and forth between being an editor and a feature reporter. From the eXile to the Buffalo Beast to the ill-fated Racket, my preference is to write and edit different types of things, mostly serious but sometimes not. With non-traditional media at places like Substack becoming more popular, I want to use this space to experiment a little. If any of these features don’t work, I’m sure you’ll let me know, and we can tweak or yank them.
On the other hand, if you have an idea for a feature, or would like to contribute your own experience to something like the “Workplace Lingo” column, you can write to me or to email@example.com. In the meantime, thanks for your indulgence, and we’ll have more for you soon.
THE LABOR POOL
LIKE MOONLIGHT OVER WATER
by Anna Della Subin
We knew what she would wear. The white pantsuit was waiting for Kamala Harris to take the stage in Wilmington on Saturday night as the United States’ first female vice president elect. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white pantsuit when she was sworn into Congress in 2019; Hillary Clinton wore one when she accepted the Democratic nomination in 2016; Geraldine Ferraro wore a white suit when she joined Walter Mondale as his running mate in 1984; Shirley Chisholm wore white when she became the first Black woman to be elected to Congress, in 1968. The Democratic women in Congress dressed in white as a protest at Trump’s State of the Union addresses in 2019 and 2020. The tradition is usually traced to the suffragettes, in particular the 1908 Women’s Sunday march to Hyde Park, whose organisers urged women to dress in white to convey the high-minded purity of their intentions. But earlier than that, all-white clothing had been adopted as a political statement by the feminist, socialist, trade unionist and anticolonial activist Annie Besant.
Besant was already famous – for being the first woman, in 1877, to make a public statement advocating contraception; for leading tens of thousands of unemployed workers in protest in Trafalgar Square – when, in 1889, she had a religious conversion brought on by a book review assignment. After reviewing Helena Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine for the Pall Mall Gazette, Besant abandoned her atheism and joined the Theosophical Society.
The society’s headquarters were in India. Moving between occult and anticolonial networks in the cities of Benares and Madras, Besant began to dress in white saris draped over white lace dresses, with echoes of a Roman statesman’s toga, in what she saw as a sartorial union of Occident and Orient, white sandals on her feet. She came to believe she was an Indian soul only briefly lodged in a British body. ‘I went to the West to take up this white body,’ she remarked in a speech at Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, ‘because it is more useful to India, because it gives me strength to plead, and because it gives more weight to what I say’ – words that didn’t necessarily go down well with her Indian audiences.
White was the color of holiness, and for Besant, political power was inextricable from the sacred. As she rose to the most powerful leadership role in the Indian nationalist movement, elected president of the Congress party in 1917, many activists found it difficult to collaborate with her. She took her “marching orders” on the battlefield of liberation from a cabinet of ghostly advisers known as the masters, or the Great White Brotherhood. This nebulous bureaucracy of ancient, deified men in many ways paralleled the British colonial administration. Their physical bodies were too desiccated to make the journey, but they could meet their Theosophist contacts on the astral plane, travelling like moonlight over water. The masters might also send bossy letters, often written in crayon on rice paper. Among the cabal was Rishi Agastya, who was said to have been born out of a pitcher that several gods ejaculated into, and wrote some of the hymns in the Rig Veda. ‘Do not let opposition become angry. Be firm, but not provocative,’ the rishi urged Besant. ‘The end will be a great triumph.’
After the British government made several failed efforts to deport her, Besant was imprisoned for sedition in a hill station, causing a sensation in the press. The photographs show her wearing white as she languishes on a rattan settee.
Gandhi had taken an early interest in Theosophy, inspired by Besant, but he came to see occultism as profoundly undemocratic. “Any secrecy hinders the real spirit of democracy,” he said. But for Besant, the celestial would determine the form that politics on earth would take. “The heavenly world works out the facts; the shadows are thrown down here, and we call those shadows history,” she said, as she was making it. White was what you wore as you awaited a messiah, or when you became one yourself.
“We must become as the white light in which all colors are present,” Besant declared, “which distorts none because it rejects none.” It was the color worn by Jain monks and nuns, who would do no harm to any creature. But the white sari was also an ominous look, as it was what Hindu widows wore in mourning. Besant’s choice of dress was interpreted as funereal, a gesture of mourning for the damage British imperialism had wrought: from widescale “mismanagement,” violent suppression and cultural destruction, to the psychic toll of unfreedom, not only in India, but in Ireland (her mother was Irish) and across the colonized earth. (The widow’s white may also have been a sly comment on her own dissolved marriage, to the dour vicar Frank Besant, who had their children taken away from her in court.)
After the First World War and the 1918 flu pandemic, membership in the Theosophical Society rapidly expanded, as people worldwide looked for ways to contend with the magnitude of loss. A seaside neighborhood in Madras, Besant Nagar, was named in Besant’s honor; Kamala Harris’s grandfather, the civil servant P.V. Gopalan, moved there and would take long walks with Kamala along the shore.
(London Review of Books)
ANY CRISIS SETTING, including all the people who by rank are entitled to be there, is practically never the one where actual decisions are made. I began learning this truth as long ago as my first paid job in 1956, at the Adlai Stevenson for President headquarters in New York City. I observed what a physicist might call the law of the infinitely receding back rooms. This holds that as decisions are secretly made in a small room someplace, there will be ever more pressure from people desperate to gain admittance. When, because of this pressure, the size of the meeting has been expanded, the original little group will recede to a further back room for its quiet secret meetings, while continuing the larger one for show. But, word of the new back room will get out -- there will always be one person too vain not to let it be known that he is part of the innermost group. Then the process will be repeated and repeated.
These days, the handful of people responsible for any decision in Washington tend to keep trying to remove themselves to ever more inaccessible rooms. ... [And] in receding to privacy, public people can cut themselves off from specialists who might help them avoid monumental mistakes. Yet they are irresistibly drawn to the private huddle [because] after you have been inside the innermost club, speaking to others in the language of highly classified information, you can't help becoming scornful of of those not in the know. Since the outsiders inhabit an ignorant, lesser universe, they can't possibly be helpful. From the moment that thought takes hold, it is only a matter of time before someone is on a plane taking a cake to the Ayatollah Khomeini.
— Meg Greenfield, 1991; from "Washington"
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
“A true Feminism” presumes that females are intrinsically kinder, gentler, friendlier more humane than males, and frankly I consider that to be untrue, undemonstrated. There are profoundly kind, gentle, humane males. My late husband was the epitome of such a person.
In part my perception is based on my personal experience. There were my parents – both – hardly exemplary gentle, loving, kind people. And then in every one of the eight primary schools I went to (my parents moved a lot) it was never ever the lads who bullied me, (they simply ignored me) it was always the girls. Then as a working adult there were occasions/places of work where there was bullying (disguised as discussion) – by the females. I never had – and still don’t – any female friends (and cannot comprehend how one might).
And then there was Thatcher… surely she exemplified the fact that Power itself, the desire to have and hold Power, are a manifestation of socio/psychopathy. And females are as liable to these as are males.
NOT DIRE, FOR NOW: CALIFORNIA EXPECTS $26 BILLION WINDFALL DESPITE PANDEMIC
The good news: The recession California officials predicted in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic has not been as dire as they thought it would be, leaving the state with a $26 billion windfall heading into the next fiscal year.
The bad news: A reason for the unanticipated cash reveals the state’s stark economic divide. Pandemic-induced job losses have been concentrated among low-wage workers, who pay relatively little taxes to begin with, while wealthy residents have continued to make money and pay taxes, leading to much greater tax collections than officials predicted in early summer.
DONALD TRUMP & BARTLEBY THE SCRIVENER
Sarah Lyall in the NY Times:
…As the nation ponders the awkward case of Donald J. Trump, a president who will not admit that he has been fired, it is helpful to consider him through the experiences of other people, fictional and otherwise, who have been unable to accept the arrival of unwelcome developments in their personal and professional lives.
Is Trump like King Lear, raging naked on the heath and desperately hanging on to the increasingly diminished trappings of power even as they are stripped from him?
Or is he more like Bartleby the Scrivener, the inscrutable model of passive resistance who one day declines to do any more work or indeed leave the building, declaring: “I would prefer not to”?
Is he like Nellie, the character in “The Office” who installs herself at the desk of the regional manager when he is out of town and unilaterally appoints herself boss?
Or how about George from “Seinfeld,” who quits one of his many jobs in a huff, unsuccessfully tries to get it back, and reports to work anyway, as if nothing had happened?
Timothy Naftali, a history professor at New York University, said that one way to view Mr. Trump would be as a version of Miss Havisham, the jilted bride from “Great Expectations” who lives forever in the past, never taking off her tattered wedding gown even as her house decays around her. “He’s wearing the cloak of the presidency and he’s stuck in his room, getting dusty, while everyone else has moved on,” Mr. Naftali said.
When it comes to hanging on to an alternative version of reality, Mr. Trump has plenty of nonpresidential company.
There was Eteocles, a son of Oedipus in Greek mythology, who remained on the throne of Thebes, reneging on his promise to share it with his twin brother, leading to a battle in which they killed each other.
There was Gov. Edmund J. Davis of Texas, a Republican, who refused to leave office after losing the election of 1873, claiming that he had several months left in his term and barricading himself on the ground floor of the State Capitol. (The newly elected governor and his supporters installed themselves on the first floor, using ladders to enter through the windows.)
There was the Hiroo Onoda, the Imperial Japanese Army officer who would not surrender after the end of World War II, remaining in combat-readiness in the jungle for 29 years until his by-then elderly former commanding officer arrived and rescinded his no-surrender order…
CHANGE? HOPE? OBAMA MUST HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT JOE BIDEN!
by Alexander Cockburn (August 27, 2008)
“Change” and “hope” are not words one associates with Senator Joe Biden, a man so ripely symbolic of everything that is unchanging and hopeless about our political system that a computer simulation of the corporate-political paradigm senator in Congress would turn out “Biden” in a nano-second.
The first duty of any senator from Delaware is to do the bidding of the banks and large corporations which use the tiny state as a drop box and legal sanctuary. Biden has never failed his masters in this primary task. Find any bill that sticks it to the ordinary folk on behalf of the Money Power and you’ll likely detect Biden’s hand at work. The bankruptcy act of 2005 was just one sample. In concert with his fellow corporate serf, Senator Tom Carper, Biden blocked all efforts to hinder bankrupt corporations from fleeing from their real locations to the legal sanctuary of Delaware. Since Obama is himself a corporate serf and from day one in the US senate has been attentive to the same masters that employ Biden, the ticket is well balanced, the seesaw with Obama at one end and Biden at the other dead-level on the fulcrum of corporate capital.
Another shining moment in Biden’s progress in the current presidential term was his conduct in the hearings on Judge Alito’s nomination to the US Supreme Court. From the opening moments of the Judiciary Committee’s sessions in January, 2006, it became clear that Alito faced no serious opposition. On that first ludicrous morning Senator Pat Leahy sank his head into his hands, shaking it in unbelieving despair as Biden blathered out a self-serving and inane monologue lasting a full twenty minutes before he even asked Alito one question. In his allotted half hour Biden managed to pose only five questions, all of them ineptly phrased. He did pose two questions about Alito’s membership of a racist society at Princeton, but had already undercut them in his monologue by calling Alito “a man of integrity”, not once but twice, and further trivialized the interrogation by reaching under the dais to pull out a Princeton cap and put it on.
In all, Biden rambled for 4,000 words, leaving Alito time only to put together less than 1,000. A Delaware newspaper made deadly fun of him for his awful performance, eliciting the revealing confession from Biden that “I made a mistake. I should have gone straight to my question. I was trying to put him at ease.”
Biden is a notorious flapjaw. His vanity deludes him into believing that every word that drops from his mouth is minted in the golden currency of Pericles. Vanity is the most conspicuous characteristic of US Senators en bloc, nourished by deferential acolytes and often expressed in loutish sexual advances to staffers, interns and the like. On more than one occasion CounterPunch’s editors have listened to vivid accounts by the recipient of just such advances, this staffer of another senator being accosted by Biden in the well of the senate in the week immediately following his first wife’s fatal car accident.
His “experience” in foreign affairs consists in absolute fidelity to the conventions of cold war liberalism, the efficient elder brother of raffish “neo-conservatism.” Here again the ticket is well balanced, since Senator Obama has, within a very brief time-frame, exhibited great fidelity to the same creed.
Obama opposed the launching of the US attack on Iraq in 2003. He was not yet in the US Senate, but having arrived there in 2005 he has since voted unhesitatingly for all appropriations of the vast sums required for the war’s prosecution. Biden himself voted enthusiastically for the attack, declaring in the Senate debate in October, 2002, in a speech excavated and sent to us by Sam Husseini:
“I do not believe this is a rush to war. I believe it is a march to peace and security. I believe that failure to overwhelmingly support this resolution is likely to enhance the prospects that war will occur. … [Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons. … For four years now, he has prevented United Nations inspectors from uncovering those weapons…
“The terms of surrender dictated by the United Nations require him to declare and destroy his weapons of mass destruction programs. He has not done so. …
“Many predicted the administration would refuse to give the weapons inspectors one last chance to disarm. …
“Mr. President, President Bush did not lash out precipitously after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss a new inspection regime. He did not ignore the Congress. At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation. …
“For two decades, Saddam Hussein has relentlessly pursued weapons of mass destruction. There is a broad agreement that he retains chemical and biological weapons, the means to manufacture those weapons and modified Scud missiles, and that he is actively seeking a nuclear capability. …
“We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after…. [Biden confided to his colleagues that this would be a long fight, but was still for it.] I am absolutely confident the President will not take us to war alone. I am absolutely confident we will enhance his ability to get the world to be with us by us voting for this resolution.”
In step with his futile bid for the Democratic nomination, Biden changed his mind on the war, and part of his mandate will be to shore up the credentials of the Democratic ticket as being composed of “responsible” helmsmen of Empire, stressing that any diminution of the US presence in Iraq will be measured and thus extremely slow, balanced by all the usual imperial ventures elsewhere around the globe.
Why did Obama choose Biden? One important constituency pressing for Biden was no doubt the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party. Obama, no matter how fervent his proclamations of support for Israel, has always been viewed with some suspicion by the lobby. For half the lifespan of the state of Israel, Biden has proved himself its unswerving acolyte in the senate.
And Obama picked Biden for the same reason Michael Dukakis chose Senator Lloyd Bentsen in 1988: the marriage of youth and experience, so reassuring to uncertain voters but most of all to the elites, that nothing dangerous or unusual will discommode business as usual. Another parallel would be Kennedy’s pick of Lyndon Johnson in 1960, LBJ being a political rival and a seasoned senator. Kennedy and Johnson didn’t like each other, and surely after Biden’s racist remarks about “clean” blacks, Obama cannot greatly care for Biden. It seems he would have preferred Chris Dodd but the latter was disqualified because of his VIP loans from Countrywide.