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Letters (December 9, 2020)

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Recently, a commentary paragraph in the AVA was shown to me by a family that is upset, embarrassed and angry over the misinformation of a relative who doesn't even live in Boonville (she only comes through a few times a year) that made the paper in a very discouraging way. I attached the paragraphs for your reference: 

Please be careful with your words when you speak about others. Be careful who your source is and confirm that the facts are true before you make public the “news” you think you have.

Regarding the data in the paragraph about Lacy Ross:

In the first place, the “bomb” wasn't a bomb, it was a firework, and the charges were reduced from “bomb” to “firework". It could have been a firecracker, or an illegal firework, (the family doesn't know the details) but definitely NOT a bomb. That word stirs up all kinds of emotions in people and none of it positive!

Second, the “child” in the car was NOT the same daughter as the one that was allegedly involved in the hotel incident. She has more than one daughter.

Third, this person doesn't even live in Anderson Valley, so what was the source that indicated this person was from here and warranted a paragraph of notoriety in the AVA ("press-release quality crime report"?? what is that?)? That one paragraph can damage the reputation of several family members who do live in this valley with good reputations. This can affect how they get service from businesses, or treated by others who only read the paper and don't hear firsthand what the truth and full story really is. This can affect future employment and other work these family members might need in the future in this valley.

What was the source of this misinformation? Who was spreading lies and misinformation? That's slander and as a reporter and newspaper, that is plain disrespect and unethical practice.

So what is the paper going to do about this situation? Run an apology? Make a comment similar to mine? How will the AVA heal the wounds inflicted on this family who only want to live quietly in this valley and serve others (some of them do a lot of work for this community)?

Name Withheld


ED REPLY: No one here wishes Ms. Ross ill, but her history is her history, including her latest arrest as described in the Sheriff’s Department’s press release, not conjured by the Boonville weekly. It’s a chasm-sized stretch for her relatives to fear community reprisals, especially from this tenuous collection of vague affinity clusters strung along 128 between Yorkville and Navarro, which some call community.

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Esteemed Editor:

Thank you Wes Smoot for your story about the wagon road origins of Highway 128. Please tell us more about its route between Yorkville and Navarro.

Joan Bloyd told me that it took all of a mid-June day to go from the Cloverdale train station to Floodgate Ranch where her father held a summer camp for polite young ladies from Pasadena. Walter Gschwend drove the four mule wagon, Joan reported.

I can still find pieces of the McDonald to the Sea highway inside the whole length of my highway fence here in Navarro, macadam, wooden culverts and black and white redwood posts to mark them. Also there's a two hundred foot piece of the old wagon road, a cut in the side hill about twelve feet wide that avoids the swampy spot at the Ingram Ranch's piece of the current highway.

And know that the wagon road came up the hill from the Greenwood turnoff and right through the middle of Edmeades' barn when it was the Hamar Olsen Ranch, too wet half the year to drive across the low ground in front of Day Ranch where the current 128 runs. Heading north you can still see this right-of-way through the oaks and pines on your left before the Husch Vineyard entrance if you slow down to 45 miles an hour.

Brad Wiley


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Mr Eyster:

The entire county is watching. The citizens of Covelo are frightened. There is only one main paved road in and out of this cursed valley of genocide and death. This type of callous murder and death has been the normal since the 1850’s between the County of Mendocino and the families who were victims and survivors of the 1850-1870s forced relocation to Covelo, Round Valley. Nome Cult Farm: AKA- The Rez, Reservation.

There has been bitter family and tribal feuds ever since then because many of these tribes were born enemies of eachother before being forced to live together on the locked reservation which was more like an internment camp where indians were subjected to cruel punishment, starvation and no abilities for self improvement as the genocide and oppression continued into the 1960s in Mendocino County.

There is now a Cartel which has moved into town bringing with them methamphetamine, weapons, cocaine and opiate and heroine derivatives. The stolen weapons being brought into Covelo is arming some of the worst criminal elements while the drugs are doing some serious damage to the young people and old people of Round Valley just alike. The Valley needs some real Law Enforcement and not just bullshit eradication efforts aimed at asset forfeiture dollars. Some real patrol amd investigative work, even a local Sheriffs Substation in Covelo at the Rangers Station. Start serving the warrants for the criminals already wanted in the area. The time is now, the hard drugs, human smuggling prostitution is making Covelo a very dangerous place to be, mix this with people who are not well educated or very smart to begin with and we are left with a looming disaster! Please prosecute these men to the maximum amount of time the law will allow. The next generation is watching and learning and the problem will pass on to the next generation of Round Valley thugs and criminals.

Name Withheld


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The 2020 presidential election should be called a draw. President emeritus Trump will hunker down at his Twitter post in the Oval office.

President Select Biden will attend to affairs of state from a pup tent in the Rose Garden.

The respective veeps will stand at parade rest until needed. Meanwhile the Kung Flu Pandemonium will expand exponentially to totally consume its prey base.


Don Morris

Ghost Town/Willits

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I'm a newspaper reader and one of my complaints is “bad newspapers.” In the past 30 years that I have been sending letters to the AVA I have never whined or complained. I either have solutions or new ideas. The score against me is around 250 to 0. If people would pay attention to my suggestions, Hale’s Grove would have a population of 25,000 instead of 1, if that.

Here is an example: I don't like candidates for the Board of Supervisors nominating themselves. I want them to “be” nominated. Last time in the Third District we had around 10 candidates self-nominated. “Hat Check” seemed to be the lesser of the evils, spent a large amount of money on advertising and he won.

Two months before the primary I wrote to the Willits News. I gave them a list of five intelligent and informed local people. I asked the Willits News to contact each of these people and ask them to suggest names of those who they thought would make good supervisors. Publicize the answers. When you get the same names from several respondents you come up with people who should be nominated. Do you think any newspaper in Northern California would do this? Hell no! Too much trouble. Wasn't their idea. Etc.

If there was a Mendocino weekly paper it would be highly profitable. Advertising revenues would set records. Look at the Willits Weekly. It would be a fat paper that could be sold for very small amount or free. Each community would be given all the space they need. Do you think the present County newspapers would go for this idea? Hell no! Better to continue with bad newspapers. (AVA excepted, of course.)

Ralph Bostrom


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So cafes are no longer tolerable hangout places for me during the pandemic. Some independent cafes in Marin have been allowing indoor seating but are unappealing to me either because of unfriendly baristas or a couple of overanxious college-age male baristas I had to endure. I figured they might have been on speed. Then there's a cafe that for some reason (I asked but forgot why) charges a tax on their coffee drinks. Starbucks at Safeway is an option as there is almost never a line. But wandering the aisles browsing merchandise while drinking coffee is pretty sad.

Fact is that before the pandemic began in March I was coming to the conclusion that hanging out at coffee houses and reading, usually a newspaper, no longer holds any appeal. Starbucks has accomplished a transformation of turning cafes from Bohemian places to mainstream ones.

That means that now there are a lot of people in cafes engaging with their laptops and smart phones who either have no interest or no capability of socializing with strangers.

I began hanging out in coffee houses during the early 90s in my late 20s. In the 90s and 2000s there were some cafes and periods where I enjoyed hanging out. In the mid-90s there was a rather bohemian cafe in downtown San Anselmo staffed mostly by teenagers where one or two nights a week there was live music. For example, Drake High School jazz musicians. It was open until 10 PM. That spot was taken over years ago by a cafe that has a bourgeois clientele and shuts down at 6 PM.

In downtown Fairfax I hung out at an independent cafe where around the start of the Iraq war into 2003 I had felt some sense of kinship with some regulars in some of the teenage and twenty-something staff. That lasted about six months.

Less than 100 feet away, from about 2004-2008, there was a bookstore/café where I went for iced lattes and to read the paper and sometimes buy inexpensive books. On Sunday nights jazz musicians performed there. I attended a number of times even though I don't normally listen to jazz.

I never felt a part of the community there which was epitomized by my relationship with the middle-aged male owner who never learned my name even though I was a regular customer and always addressed him by his first name. I never did fit in in Fairfax but before I owned a car it was the most appealing destination by foot or bus.

Even after getting a car I still found myself going to Fairfax because when on large doses of psychiatric medication my feelings told me that I did not belong in Fairfax were much harder to access than after I went off them several years ago.

I can always stay home all the time, not to conform to covid restrictions but because there is no better place to go.

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo


Pulling out onto the Sir Francis Drake Blvd. from my complex an hour ago (last Wednesday morning) I thought this is like a freeway. Certainly there is a freeway level of traffic volume on Drake Blvd. from Butterfield to the hub.

I have a San Anselmo history book by a local local author named Barry Spitz in which he writes that in the 60s there was a plan by Caltrans I think to build a freeway from Terra Linda over Fawn Drive into Sleepy Hollow north of the San Anselmo border and the freeway would have gone west where Van Winkle Drive is now towards White’s Hill and the San Geronimo Valley.

I think that would have prevented a lot of the high-end residential development in Sleepy Hollow built in the 1960s. But in the long run it would have lessened traffic on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. through San Anselmo (a lot, I believe).

For example, traffic on weekends going to Point Reyes on the Sleepy Hollow freeway would have avoided Drake Boulevard.

I also imagine that the Sleepy Hollow Freeway idea was rejected so that the high-end residential zone north of the town border could be built since it is such an ideal sheltered and bucolic little Shangri-La for affluent and wealthy people to live in plus it was a lot of money to be made for the developers.

PPS. In Orinda where I grew up there is also a very high-end sheltered residential zone named Sleepy Hollow!

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Dear AVA & Co., 

I hope you all are doing okay. Just finished reading Steinbeck's ‘East of Eden,’ Penguin Classics. Most of the book takes place in this area where the author was born and raised around 1902.

I'm hoping that I will get to hear the whole Nutcracker on the radio this year what with all the theaters close into the pandemic. I figure there is a good chance.

I have no cards to send again this year and they are still making black and white photocopies of any cards that come in to prisoners.

We all expect everything to gradually get better now that Trump is departing. Biden will appoint parole commissioners and I'm already trying to get the staff here to file the papers necessary for an April hearing.

Happy holidays!

Paul Jorgensen


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Dear AVA,

I just got the most amazing poetry book written by our own Peter Lit. These poems touched me deeply, much as a great novel makes you say “I felt that but never said it.” 

I recommend this book, Poets Are Always On Time. You can get it on Amazon.

This is the perfect Christmas gift.

I know Peter because I was fortunate enough to perform at his famous Casper Inn in its heyday.

By the way did you know that Peter picks up hot food from a Caspar restaurant and delivers it to 15 of his neighbors every Friday and has done so for 9 months? On one trip, as he was opening his trunk, he was asked by a curious local cop what he was doing and he said with his usual salty humor, “I am on a mission from god.”

I had no Idea that he was such an amazing local poet .

Stay safe.

Rosie Radiator (AKA Bess Bair)

San Francisco/Dos Rios

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The Willow Avenue Christmas Sale.

Held in their beautiful Victorian home, the Coates would empty the rooms all the way back to the kitchen and fill each room with amazing handcrafted items. Artists were able to display their work in the perfect setting and atmosphere for Christmas. Attending each year we began to know and look for that particular craft or art. For me, it was always the Christmas ornaments. In my mind, there’s nothing more beautiful than a small felt stocking decorated with the tiniest of cross stitching created by Peggy Ross. Some of my friends zeroed in on those butterscotchery caramels. Reminiscing the other day, we recalled one evening sitting on the front steps, when a friend made the mistake of opening a bag she had purchased as a gift, offering us “a piece.” We ate the whole bag! She had to go back in and buy another one!

Dear Debbie Coate, and your lovely cadre of friends —the ones who helped set up, tirelessly baked cookies, filled crockpots with cider, brewed pots of coffee, tallied and bagged the purchases — we just want to say, “You have no idea the magic you created for us. Those memories will live on forever. Thank you.”

Gail Richards


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On Nov. 5, I attended a public workshop to review the proposed Mendocino County Oak Tree and Oak Woodlands ordinance, an ordinance intended to prevent the wholesale clearing of oak woodlands to plant cannabis. While I support its intent, it is so poorly written that even my tree-hugging, environmental-crusader friends will likely take issue with it. The Planning Commission will hear public comments on this item Dec. 17. I hope after reading this column, you will be inspired to participate in that meeting.

In short, if you own property in the unincorporated part of Mendocino County, the ordinance would require you to plant between eight and 16 oak trees on your property for every one that is cut, whether you own two acres or 200 acres, whether you have room on your property or not, whether the soil is right for oaks or not. It seems this ordinance was based on the belief that the more trees that are planted, the more likely one is to survive. Clearly, the ordinance was developed in a bubble rather than in collaboration with foresters, land managers, or anyone else who understands how to plant and protect trees (though apparently, some experts were brought in after the fact). I can tell you that county staffers did not get stakeholder buy-in; that is, they didn’t take the time to ask Mendocino County farmers and those of us in real estate how this might affect the local economy and housing market.

It’s not as though our local bureaucrats had to start from scratch. In Napa County they have a far more reasonable oak tree ordinance. Two or three oaks must be planted for every one that is removed, and the new trees can be planted within the county wherever it makes sense, either on the property where trees are removed or off-site. Clearly, the folks in Napa County understand that each property is unique, and that flexibility is key. And they reward property owners who take action that aligns with the county’s overall vision. For example, if a property owner completes a publicly beneficial project, he only has to plant two trees for every one removed rather than three.

The proposed Mendocino County ordinance not only misses the mark on protecting oak trees, it does so in the most expensive, bureaucratic, and burdensome way possible. It’s as though misguided staffers who were supposed to create a reasonable ordinance to limit the conversion of woodlands to marijuana cultivation instead saw an opportunity to halt land development countywide. As written, the ordinance represents nothing more than poorly considered and poorly executed overreach.

There are so many things wrong with this ordinance, I hardly know where to start. Generally speaking, it is full of squishy definitions that make it almost impossible to know how to comply, and the permit process is discretionary, which leaves compliance up to two individuals’ interpretations, one after the other, because the permitting process involves not only county personnel but also the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Probably one of the most frustrating elements of the proposed ordinance is its lack of common sense. It is unclear whether specific exemptions exist for creating defensible fire spaces or pruning trees away from homes, businesses, or utility lines. It is unclear what happens if property owners have to remove oaks because of sudden oak death and cannot afford to replace the trees. The ordinance includes an exemption process, but for sudden oak death, for example, you have to hire a qualified professional to certify that the trees are, in fact, diseased. According to my sources, even if sudden oak death is present, you may have to go through the full permit process required for any tree removal, and that permit is estimated to cost about $2,500 plus $1,000 per tree.

Check back next week when I share more information about the damaging details of this ill-conceived proposal. To read the ordinance for yourself, visit If you’d like to review some common sense recommendations, you can review our proposed changes at If you are concerned about this ordinance, please share your thoughts with the Mendocino County Planning Commissioners and the county supervisors. I hope to see you at the Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 17.

Richard Selzer, Realtor


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Is the church above our Supreme Court? Again I ask, Why? So much to ask with so few answers.

On the evening news recently it was announced that our Supreme Court voted in the majority not to impose a maximum capacity on churchgoers. Why?

Reduced numbers in theory reduces new covid 19 infections. Knowing this, why is the Church population untouchable?

Maximums for bars, gyms and dance halls are and should be eliminated for the sake of their and others’ health. Is there anyone out there who believes the churches are immune from covid 19? Why do pastors and priests encourage all to come indoors? Wake up all you who runneth over with blind faith. It's not working. I have seen extremely large numbers of churchgoers enclosed side by side with no masks singing their little hearts out. Look at those factual reports large and small. Church attendees are followed by Pray, pay and obey. But they will not keep death away from your doorstep. Ask your God, my God, why? Good church people are not saved. When you have the true answer to why thousands of good people who are allowed to die send me a short note.

Gran says, We are not going indoors to our church but we are sending cookies. We pray for those who do.

Gramps says, Fools rush in where wise men (and women) fear to tread!

Gran said, Not nice. True but not nice. 

I said, Eat your peanut butter cookies, take a pull on that special cold medicine and say a prayer and go to bed.

God bless America, the Donald, peanut butter cookies and Jerry Philbrick. love you, Gran.

Old and Angry


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To the Editor:

I see comments online about Covid and I am horrified by the comments beginning with, “old people” die of the flu. Is anyone, anywhere, protesting for the group “old people”?? Anyone in front of court house, with signs that “old people’s lives matter”? Anyone in our country that is censoring blatant statements that somehow group “old people” as exspendable lives, that get other diseases, so why stop our lives and stay home, for “old people”?

I find the hypocrisy of our times, that if you were to put “white” or “black” or “latino” in a sentence stating “dying of the Flu”…and ask, so why is society staying home, because of Covid? it would seem very discriminatory. And it is sometimes that way too. But the label “old people” is considered a appropriate discrimination, ok to say, ok to write, against a group of humans??

SARs is Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, much more lethal and this strain, much more contagious. And Covid, affects all ages and races, because a virus does not discriminate against a race or age, but attacks where there is weakness. And birth defects, diabetes, heart and lung issues, will be it’s pathway. Genders, age and nationalities, are not in this virus’s mission.

How can uneducated Americans, comment that because the flu kills, that Covid is no different and life should not be changed (only altered), to kill or lessen the virus??

Knowledge is power, older people deserve life as much as anyone. And can people please stop stereotyping comments on a horrible disease that can kill anyone? Including the lives of some hospital staff and possibly their family members? Undiagnosed defects exist in many bodies, young and old.

Empathy, is a virtue. Practice empathy and make comments, unprejudiced. Become educated.

Catherine Lair


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I am old and retired but… Just imagine if Johnny Pinches was back in the seat for the 3rd district again. Likely, his “one paragraph ordinance” would be something like: “Mendocino County will NOT charge any fees or permits, as our county earns plenty of sales taxes at the use end of all small businesses that we support to flourish. That said, there are State Regs re this particular product that safeguards and protects the environmental concerns via CEQA and the State Water Board. And they are the appropriate entities to oversee such concerns.” BOOM

Frankly, I am exhausted just following the 1st and 2nd district Supes over their careers these 40+ years. Both are sooooooo busy making no-sense. Unable to protect their homes, friends, and bank accounts. There would be no grapes if they had to follow “rules” they have created for that other businesses. Or what about the millions of public funds spent on a new courthouse that has never actually been built. Or now, the Measure B funds, that could have created positive mental healthcare in communities all around the county, not just in Ukiah. Will it ever actually be built? What about the walk & bikes to school programs? Millions awarded to the county, via the BOS, that never actually paid a dime in making safe crossings for kids, much less a bike lane, or a safe way to walk to school. I miss Johnny being on the Board, with his eye on the spreadsheets and common sense way he would tell his fellow board members: “AW, common....It’s Nut Cuttin’ Time!”

PS. what do you think of letter from Emmy Good in current issue of “Willits Weekly” on page 2? (Reposted below)

She was one of the originals who supported Measure B, because being a business owner right on the center of town, she was aware that the need was not for “transients” or “transplants w/troubles” but for many generations of locals who were needing support while recovering from alcohol, drugs, trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, Etc. and came to the realization that creating such a warm and sunny place could create wellness for the entire community, in a way that could be sustainable. The CEO and heads of Ukiah “services” still has this “gauntlet” concept in: “You have arrived from elsewhere, and such, we must treat you as broken/fix/and or directly expunge via control, in order to protect our communities.” Hence everything on Orchard Street now. When originally Measure B was all about, finally, creating a warm hand to extend to help neighbors. (Much like Richard & Fiona did when creating such a beautiful spot out of an old storefront into the Pt Arena library, for a fraction of what the County planners would have made the public pay.

Myrna Shaffner


Ted Williams responded: Measure B is largely an embarrassment. I'm not here to justify the execution of what was promised, but on the 15th we'll share current ownership of the various tasks. There won't be much left for the eleven member committee to recommend.

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To the Editor: 

Almost two years ago, I made this 3 minute presentation of a vision for a Mental Wellness Center to be located at the old Howard Memorial Hospital site in Willits, to the Measure B Oversight Committee which as tasked with creating and coordinating mental Health services here in Mendocino County using funds approved by the taxpayers. 

Here we are having spent a great deal of money on reports, architects, coordinators, and so far, nothing on much-needed services. I want the board of supervisors and the oversight committee to know that the public still cares. 

This is the 2/2020 Original 3-minute vision, a work in progress. Still a good idea. What do you think? 

As I entered the old Howard Hospital, I experienced a wave of feelings. Many family members and friends' lives were helped and saved here. This old building is lled with loving memories and such potential. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see how clean and well-kept the building is. Over 30,000 square feet of space on over 3 acres that have been beautifully maintained. I took about 60 photos as 

we studied the map, remembering so many of the rooms and imagining what could be there now. 

First, we would like to think of this as the Howard Memorial Mental Wellness Center, offering a wide range of professional services and activities that promote good mental health. Residential programs are ideally suited to this property. There are 14 bay- windowed rooms with bathrooms. 

Good mental health begins with good health which begins with good nutrition. Classes in cooking, nutrition, supplements, and diet can be here. The kitchen has the potential to become a culinary arts training program in addition to feeding staff, clients, visitors. The Seabiscuit Cafe could offer healthy food to go. 

There are conference rooms for meetings and support groups that could be used for needs from young folks to seniors. There is plenty of room for services for those who are dealing with substance abuse, depression, psychological needs, homelessness, unwed mothers, abusive situations and more. 

Because of a lack of time to expand on these exciting ideas for using this space to promote wellness, here is just a list of intriguing thoughts. 

A variety store, a thrift/craft shop, where items made by clients can be sold, hair salon /barbershop, classes in knitting, crocheting, handicrafts, use of herbs and growing herbs on site, cleansing and detox programs, relaxation techniques, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong, juggling, meditation, dance and movement, drama groups, music, and art therapy, computer skills classes, a game room for quiet games, ping pong and small pool table, library, and more. 

Just think about what makes you happy and healthy. This is a kind, caring community and we can – with the help of Measure B funding, county support and perhaps state matching funds – do something very special right here in Willits, which may give people a reason not to bypass this town and opportunity. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Emmy Good



  1. Zeke Krahlin December 10, 2020

    To Catherine Lair re. “Why so callous about old people?”:

    Thank you for your insightful post. I believe the problem we have, is with Christian dogma so often overriding, distorting or watering down the laws of our land, because America has utterly failed to keep separate, church and state. Trump’s favoring the fundamentalists on every level has only worsened the situation, including his “Religious Liberty” executive order…allowing these zealots even more “freedom” of their “rights” to discriminate and persecute select minorities, based on long outdated, superstitious and ignorant notions…as well as continue to rule over women’s lives, especially regarding abortion (but not limited to just that). These Jebus wingnuts often play the victimization card to their advantage. Anyone with a brain larger than a pea can see through this, but since a huge body of our politicians are Christian themselves, they allow this anti-democratic juggernaut of a steamroller to crush most attempts at civilized progress from flourishing.

    Such mean-spirited religious doctrines are what have given birth to white supremacist movements which the FBI now declares the greatest danger to our beleaguered nation. As a consequence, it was inevitable that Nazism would rear its ugly head once again, this time under what is today called Trumpism. Anti-science, anti-intelligence, anti-literacy, and anti-anything-that-gives-us-hope-happiness-and-inspiration are the mark of this beast. Sad to say, the Democratic Party is not immune to the powerful influence of religious fanatics…just less so than the opposition. Yet still strong enough to cripple many of our democratic ideals. To put it mildly:

    We have a fight on our hands.

    • Douglas Coulter December 10, 2020

      That we have given every non profit control of public health, what do you expect! A private citizen cannot open a hospital or a public school due to bureaucratic rules. Separation of church and state died when government gave priority to Adventist Health, and Jim Jones religious cults.
      How many government grants did Jim Jones get…including his land in Ghianna? Hello AVA! Do that math.

  2. Pat Kittle December 11, 2020

    “Trump’s a Nazi” is always good for a laugh.

    Trump gave Israel everything it ever wanted (more than any previous US president) short of outright war with Iran, and Trump tried to give Israel that too. Israelis are so fond of Trump they even named a village in his honor — in the Golan Heights, territory stolen from Syria, with Trump’s official approval.

    Obama’s greatest achievement was an agreement with Iran, which Trump immediately sabotaged, as demanded by the neocon Jews he surrounded himself with and is so eager to please.

    But never mind all that — “Trump’s a Nazi”!
    I realize mocking Christian Bible-thumpers is kosher here at the AVA — but criticizing Jewish Talmud-thumpers?? That’ll likely get you censored — ask me how I know.

    (Will the censor surprise us and allow this perfectly legitimate comment?)

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