Sunny Day | 36 New Cases | Christmas Cookies | Indian Creek | Ed Notes | Philo 2001 | Grand Conjunction | Tebbutts Backyard | Country House | Yesterday’s Catch | Greenwood Ridge | British Bumblers | Vaccination Line | Unstimulus | Kirby Hall | Innocence Project | No Sense | Knicks Again | Media Defamation | $600 Cake | Holiday Train | Thin Slice | Not Reality | Diversity Training | Sleepy Dems | Globetrotters v Generals | Second Coming | Baby Cake | Slander Bales | REO Speedwagons | Thomas Hayfield | Made This
ANOTHER DRY, SUNNY AND PLEASANT DAY is setting up, with increasing southerly winds and some clouds for tomorrow. Thereafter, a storm system is forecast to move across the region during Christmas Day. Widespread moderate rainfall will be likely with that storm, as well as heavy mountain snow across Trinity County. Another round of rain may occur Sunday and Monday. (NWS)
36 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Tuesday, bringing the total to 2292.
A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS COOKIE STORY: COOKIES TO KODIAK
by Cat Spydell
Christmas Cookies. Just the thought of warm freshly-baked cookies gives one a cozy, fuzzy holiday feeling. That’s what I was thinking when, a couple of days after Thanksgiving, I realized that soon Christmas would be upon us. We have a small “core group” of five people who live here or nearby and see each other regularly and are considered part of our “safe” household — as safe as one can be —during these unusual times. So that meant planning the next holiday get-together.
Thanksgiving had been lovely. We sat on comfortable couches and chairs in the living room, spaced apart, near a blazing woodstove fire and shared a huge traditional Thanksgiving feast that Diane cooked. She and Morris live across the creek, so we gathered in the tall Philo A-frame “community” house here at our property we call Dragonwood, and it was such a nice gathering. I agreed to clean up afterward, and that proved to be tricky, I realized as I made bone broth for the dogs with the turkey carcass for the third time (it was vegetarian Hell). It took a total of three weeks to fully put Thanksgiving to bed. Deciding to make Christmas simple this year, instead of a big complicated meal, I thought, Christmas cookies! We will sit around, exchange gifts, and decorate and eat Christmas cookies and drink hot chocolate on Christmas day.
What could be easier?
Soon I started thinking about this idea after all the participants had agreed to attend if possible, including my daughter Cassidy and her dad Mike, who live in Comptche in what we consider “our other household.” I had quit cooking when the kids became adults and am very rusty in the baking department. Since moving to Philo last year, I hadn’t quite mastered the propane oven. All my cookies I had attempted baking were perfect on top and burnt crisps on the bottom. I decided to sacrifice myself to sugar by baking multiple trays of cookies to perfect the process. I bought the easy “cut-and-bake” cookie variety; I was not trying to impress anyone by pulling out Aunt Margaret’s old-timey drop cookie recipe. I just wanted some damn sugar goodness to share for Christmas. Finally after a few attempts, I nailed it: Let the dough get to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, put cookies in oven for 10, not 14, minutes. Turn off oven. Let cookies sit in oven 3 more minutes. Remove cookies, let sit again. Transfer to cold plate. Viola! Perfection.
The only downside to my Christmas plan was that I am missing my 27-year-old son Kodiak. When his sister and I moved back to Mendocino County after a long absence last year, he stayed in Los Angeles, with his great job, gorgeous girlfriend, cool roommate, nice car. He is settled, which is what a parent of course wants, but being over 500 miles apart has been emotionally challenging. Kodiak, though born in Comptche on Marsh Creek Road in the middle of winter in a small cabin, is now a thriving city dweller. Staying put made sense.
We can Zoom on Christmas, I told myself. Then it hit me: If I baked him cookies and shipped them to him, he could virtually join our holiday bash and still get cookies, and hot cocoa, on Christmas — with us! I was pleased with this plan and set it into action. Knowing Christmas was on Saturday, I reasoned that if I got the cookies in the mail by Monday, he’d get them by Friday. My daughter, who loves to bake, could get the cookies made and decorated, and I would wrap them up to ship them. Bam.
Cassidy and I were supposed to connect on Sunday in Comptche to bake the cookies, but she ended up stuck in Fort Bragg. On Sunday, I instead found out some interesting news: That Christmas was on Friday, not Saturday. That put a crimp in my Christmas cookie plan: one full shipping day less than I had calculated. I complained to my friends in a chat group that I had screwed up the holiday dates and wasn’t sure I could get cookies to Kodiak on time.
“Just have him go buy some, it’s so much easier,” one said. “He can eat Oreos, it doesn’t matter what kind he has,” said another. While technically true, and yes, simpler, I hadn’t cooked for Kodi in a year, since he came to visit last Christmas. I wanted to bake them “with love” (or at least have his sister do it). I wanted to add hot cocoa packets and marshallows and give him a gift box, not just something to eat, but a gift from the heart. I was determined to get him Christmas cookies that were just like what we would be having. I didn’t have ingredients on hand to make cookies myself, so Monday morning, determined, I set out on my adventure to make Christmas cookies happen for my son in Los Angeles by Thursday, Christmas Eve, the last day to receive mail. It would happen, Hell or high water.
I decided to start at Lemons Market and then go on up to Boonville to the Anderson Valley Market in hopes that I could complete my shopping list in the valley. As I drove down the ridge on Philo-Greenwood, holiday carols played on the radio and the solstice sunlight danced through the trees. I stopped at NorthWest Oil where Chris helped me out by putting $20 bucks worth of gas in the tank for me. We started shooting the breeze and he asked me what I was up to. I explained I had made Christmas simple by having a cookie decorating party and that I was on a mission to get some cookies for my son in Los Angeles to have with us via Zoom. Somehow when I explained it, it didn’t sound simple. He sagely explained that if Lemons and the Boonville store didn’t have cookies, likely one of the bakeries would. Here I was at step one of my adventure, chatting with a wise man who was kinda like the Scarecrow to my Dorothy as I traversed Oz in pursuit of sending cookies to my previous home for the holidays. Good advice, I agreed as he sent me on my way to my next stop.
At the Philo post office, there was a package waiting for me, ironically from my son with everyone’s Christmas cards and a gift. While there, I asked about the Christmas week shipping policy with the clerk. He gave me a shipping slip and ‘promised’ the cookies would be there by Thursday, for $7.75. I told him I would be back tomorrow, he said be here by 3 p.m. “Can you ship them today?” he asked.
“I still have to bake them!” I replied. The super-nice postal clerk was like the Tin Man, showing me the ropes.
Next stop. Lemons. Lo! While they weren’t on the shelf yet, I found an unpacked box in the cooking aisle full of packages of mini-marshallows, and on the shelf I found a box of envelopes of hot cocoa, and yes, even cookie frosting. I loaded up my cart and looked for instant cookie mix or the cut-and-bake variety, but couldn’t find either. After a brief chat with the friendly ladies at the market about baking cookies for my son in LA, I was ready to continue my quest. Onward!
I stopped briefly in Boonville at the Anderson Valley Market, and while they had similar items to Lemons in the baking aisle, the cut-and-bake cookies eluded me still. (I did pick up a bag of kitty treaties for my somewhat spoiled calico feline, Athena). The nice clerk with a mane of beautiful red hair and I wished each other happy holidays as I purchased the treats and left. Because I was close to the 253, I made a last-second decision to do a Hail Mary run to Ukiah. Safeway would likely have what I needed.
The drive to Ukiah revealed a stunning display of sparse winter landscapes full of shadows. A bright sun darted behind dramatic dark clouds that graced the otherwise blue sky. Usually a trip to Ukiah is a Big Deal. Gas, Safeway and Walmart, a quick fast food stop, and sometimes other errands too. Today, I was focused, like an Olympian who had trained for the big event, or, like Dorothy focused on getting back home. I found the correct simple-to-use cookie dough: 2 for $6 at Safeway, easy, refrigerated sugar cookie dough. I bought four, three sugar and one chocolate chip for good measure (does Kodiak even like sugar cookies?).
Last stop: Dollar Store to buy stuff to mail the cookies in: parchment paper, a shipping envelope, a cookie tin, two new baking pans, and some plastic baggies (I was thinking for the marshmallows but they had another use).
Driving home, the sunset in the solstice sky illuminated the hills with magical light, and I was amazed by the stunning beauty of our area once again. Somewhere far above, Saturn and Jupiter were doing a danse fantastique in the night sky, creating a replica of the Christmas star. Finally, after traveling many miles, I made it back home. I built a fire in the A-frame, preheated the oven, got all the ingredients sussed, and began my baking. Remembering that it was Cassidy who was supposed to actually bake the cookies, not me, I had to calm my nerves and just go for it, pulling up memories of myself as a mom who used to bake and make meals for her family every weekday night for two decades.
The cookies turned out great. Decorating them, not so much. I forgot to buy a “piping nozzle” for the frosting, but YouTube quickly showed me it was serendipitous that I bought the plastic baggies. I emptied the frosting into the baggies, cut off the tip, and squeezed. I also discovered I actually suck at decorating Christmas cookies. But my heart and soul was fully in it by now. By midnight, and remember my adventure in simple Christmas cookies started at 11 a.m., Kodiak had a care package ready to go full of cookies, hot cocoa, mini-marshmallows, and a couple lottery tickets I picked up at Lemons with my leftover two dollars, thrown in for good measure.
Tuesday morning I got up and went to the post office, and had my packing slip filled out and $11 in my wallet, ready to pay my $7.75 shipping to get the cookies there by Thursday. On my way out of the property I stopped by and borrowed a twenty-dollar bill from Morris. “They said it was about eight dollars, but just in case, I don’t want to waste a trip,” I explained. I didn’t have a lot of cash left, having been on a cookie-making shopping spree.
At the post office, I handed my $10 bill to the clerk and was told, “$39.55.”
Even with Morris’ twenty, I didn’t have enough on me. Apparently the previous day it was $7.75. Now, it was way more. Damn! All that effort, just to screw it up at the last moment? I didn’t even have my bank card on me. Now what?
Right then, and there are witnesses, a Christmas miracle occurred.
Desperate, as someone was now behind me in line, I reached into a side pouch of my purse and pulled up $8 I didn’t know I had. Then I reached in and found my change had fallen out of my wallet and was accumulating in the bottom of my bag. Finding another $1.55, miracle money appeared to cover the fee to give my son his Christmas cookies. According to the post office slip, the package will arrive at his house Thursday by 3 p.m., and if it doesn’t, I will get a refund. But I know those cookies will get there, and instead of store-bought Oreos, my son will get food prepared by his mom who misses him, and hasn’t been able to see him since February of this year. It is officially the longest we have ever been apart. This is his first Christmas away from family, and while his life is good and he has a tribe of people to rely on, there is something special about sharing food with family over the holidays, even if the journey to get it there involves a lot of steps to make it happen on those winding country roads.
NO OBITUARY has appeared for Cecil Ball, a long time resident of Boonville who died recently after a long illness that confined him to his home where he was cared for by Mark, his eldest son. Mr. Ball was an Army veteran of World War Two and was among the first American troops to occupy Japan following Japan’s surrender. A member of the Jehovah Witnesses church, Mr. Ball was a retired millworker. His wife, Benita Ball, preceded him in death. He is survived by sons Mark and Clayton.
TO THE DAILY DELUGE of annoying terms, I’ll add “history buff.” It’s too dismissive, as if a non-academic person interested in history is unserious about what happened before he occurred. There are lots of us “history buffs” with a special interest in Mendo history, and there are plenty of local historians — Ernie Branscomb and David Heller, to name two whose work I see posted here and there, and several on-line that are fascinating such as Kate Mayo’s “Shadow of the Cahto.” Like them, and like many Mendo people, I read whatever I can find about local history, and I’m here today to recommend a monograph called, “Ranching Near Laytonville, 1902-1907 — The Beal Family in Mendocino County, California” by Blanche Beal Lowe (Excerpt below). From her memoir, Mrs. Lowe gives us the best account I’ve seen of a young family carving out a self-sustaining living from a few hundred acres of unpromising land just south of today’s Laytonville. These people, right down to their youngest children, worked, mom hardest of all, and the work they did is described in such detail it can often serve as a how-to manual. The Beals worked up enough capital to move to Palo Alto where two of the children attended Stanford, then a free university, having been thoroughly prepared for higher study at Ukiah High School, and all of them, became well known in various professions.
“W.C. FIELDS by Himself” gets off to a funny start with his famous remark, “My family was poor but dishonest,” and goes on in interesting detail for four hundred pages. He’s the only comedian of the old Chaplin-Keaton times who always makes me laugh. The book is written by the great man’s grandson, not himself, but grandson says he’s faithful to the material left to the family by Fields.
RECEIVED an excited e-mail about the stars from the vivid Tom Cahill, formerly of Fort Bragg, presently in self-imposed exile in France. “I’ve been waiting for this all my life!” he said, “Jupiter and Saturn are going to be in conjunction today, the very winter solstice of 2020.” I’m content with a nightly moon, if there is one, but Tom’s life-long yearning for this rare heavenly occurrence heralds, to the mystically inclined, great events which, I’d say, may be in disastrous motion given the catastrophic daily news.
OVERHEARD IN UKIAH: Young man: “I finally had to file a sexual harassment complaint about him.”
Young woman: “Hah! Now you know how it feels.”
Young man: “Not as good as I’d hoped.”
A BRIT’S reaction to covid travel and freshly imposed trade restrictions: “We have never been anywhere in the world where we haven’t been asked to leave.”
YIKES: Preliminary math suggests that we’re likely to see more than 3.2 million total deaths this year, which is a 15% jump from 2019. It would mark the largest single-year percentage leap since 1918, when 116,516 US soldiers died in World War I and 675,000 Americans died in the Spanish Flu pandemic. Deaths rose 46 percent in 1918, compared with 1917. Mortality rates might go even higher for 2020 once all fatalities from this month are counted. COVID-19 has so far killed more than 319,000 Americans this year with many more expected over the next week as coronavirus deaths surge this month to record highs with the national seven day average now at more than 2,600 a day. December is on track to become the deadliest month of the pandemic.
THE CONJUNCTION, A READER WRITES: “It’s extremely significant in the symbolic world of astrology….especially Vedic astrology from India….which is ancient in its origins. Movements of planets in our galaxy reflect the occurrences and events in the world as a whole. It’s not causation. It’s a reflection of the whole. Movements of planets in our galaxy move through the 12 constellations at different rates of speed. Because of that, it was 800 years ago when Saturn and Jupiter moved into the constellation of Aquarius for a Grand Conjunction that is happening this week. So this event is quite rare and powerful.
Jupiter and Saturn are the largest planets in our solar system….Saturn with its rings and Jupiter with its moons…. and both planets represent the most powerful social, political and religious themes of humanity. This conjunction is a powerful event that can be seen with the naked eye. I read that it is possible they were together at the time of the birth of Christ…albeit probably in a different constellation. When they conjunct, it is very very bright because Jupiter is so large and bright. So together they look like one large unique star. And to occur on the solstice is quite profound…..the shortest day of the year when the light is at its lowest point.
In astrology each planet represents certain areas of life. In Vedic astrology, the time period leading to the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn has symbolized the disappearance of Dharma. Dharma is a Sanskrit word which represents cosmic law, right action, social order and universal truth. Dharma is the law, virtue, goodness, morality and truth. Especially truth. You might equivocate Dharma with Righteousness, Virtue, Integrity, Goodness. When Dharma is at it’s lowest, people abandon these things and act out of greed and selfishness. When dharma is low, it is difficult to know what is right and what is true. Entropy and confusion dominate. The world seems to be in a state of chaos. As we all have seen over these last many years is clearly a shadow over Dharma. The culmination is these two major planets approaching the Grand Conjunction on December 21 quite profound if you understand the ancient symbolism. Also, these giants in the sky move from the constellation of Capricorn into the constellation of Aquarius. This is a major shift of theme and energy.
You can see the results of these planets traveling in Capricorn over the past 4 years, especially with adding Pluto to the mix; the earth and its inhabitants have been going through a powerful time of chaos, disturbance and upheaval and darkness…adharma. On December 21 these planets both moved into Aquarius….the peak has finally arrived….a shift is in progress. It is possible that more critical events will occur after, for a year or so …..but this conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is the culmination and as they move apart, the profound darkness that has taken over our social, political, religious and communal life should slowly diminish at least for a while. In other words, it is possible there will be a turn of the corner and the light can begin to increase. There is a warning however that further events of darkness can manifest for a while longer.
Certainly this past year has been a mind-blowing expression of corruption, untruth and chaos….the lowest point of dharma we have ever experienced with the political disintegration and the pandemic. And it ain’t over yet!
I could tell you more about Jupiter and Saturn and their movement from capricorn to Aquarius….but I’m sure that is TMI.
I doubt too many people know about these symbolic representations…..they are, of course, excited by the rarity of the event. It is quite exciting. We saw it briefly last night. Maybe with a telescope tonight we will see it more clearly. Let’s hope it is the Bright Star of radical change.
SO I DROVE UP TO THE COUNTRY HOUSE to experience some semblance of Christmas week. In the Bay Area we are not allowed to have a fire in our fireplaces, which I fully support because my City home is surrounded by millions of people and the country place barely has 1100.
I actually was on KGO radio saying that, “There is a difference between places like broken axle Oklahoma and areas like where I live in Boonville, California.” I actually got the host to agree with me. I finally realized that this had never occurred to him.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 22, 2020
SUSAN BROWN, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
JEFFREY FRENCH, Willits. Grand theft, controlled substance, false personation of another, dumping in commercial quantities, suspended license, conspiracy.
PETE KAVANAUGH, Hopland. County parole violation, failure to appear.
JEREMIAH LUNA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
MARIO PARRA, Oakland/Ukiah. DUI.
ADAN RODRIGUEZ, Redwood Valley. DUI with priors.
MELODY SCROGGINS, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
THEODORE WATTS IV, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
BORIS JOHNSON IS AS INCOMPETENT AS GENERAL HAIG AT THE SOMME: The Price Is 50,000 Unnecessary Deaths This Year
by Patrick Cockburn
On 1 July 1916, the British Army attacked the German front line on the Somme in an ill-planned and over-ambitious offensive. Advancing soldiers were slaughtered by machine guns and artillery fire as they tried to struggle through unbroken barbed wire. The battle was to go on for 141 days, but on the first day alone the British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead.
The man primarily responsible for the greatest disaster in British military history was General Sir Douglas Haig, whose over-optimistic planning under-estimated enemy strength and ignored lessons to be drawn from failures in earlier battles. Inspired by wishful thinking, Haig assured sceptical subordinates that the British would soon break the German line and he had five cavalry divisions waiting to exploit their victory.
A little over a century later, Boris Johnson has been facing the equivalent of a war in combating the Covid-19 epidemic. As with Haig at the Somme, he has shown over-confidence and poor judgement during the battle, leading to Britain suffering a greater loss of life than it might have under a more competent leader.
Nobody knows how many more British soldiers would have survived if Haig had not been the ultimate decision maker at the Somme, but in Johnson’s case one can be more precise about his lethal influence. On 29 May, the former chief scientific adviser to the government, Sir David King, said that, “40,000 excess deaths could have been avoided if the government had reacted responsibly”. It locked down late, lifted restrictions too early, haphazardly ignored expert advice, and failed to learn from mistakes made during the first wave of the epidemic in the spring. It thereby guaranteed that there would be a second wave of infection, as bad or worse than anything experienced earlier in the year.
“I don’t have sympathy for the government making the same mistake twice,” says a scientist on the Sage advisory committee, quoted in a report by The Sunday Times Insight team. “We told them quite clearly what they needed to do for it [the lockdown] to work…They don’t do that. It has been wishful thinking all the way.” The report estimates that Johnson’s refusal, contrary to the views of the most senior members of his own government, to introduce stricter measures in September had already led to between 7,000 and 13,000 additional deaths by mid-December.
The latter figure is increasing by the day and is likely to jump sharply because of a loosening of restrictions during Christmas, something that could have been avoided if Sage’s firm advice for a “circuit-breaking” lockdown on 21 September had not been rejected by Johnson at the last moment. The estimate for excess deaths in Britain caused by government failings during the first and second waves of the epidemic now total about 50,000 people, adding together the estimates from Sir David King and The Sunday Times report, a number that will inevitably increase in the coming months.
The stellar career paths of both men towards high office, despite a notable lack of ability and accomplishment in each case, is a depressing illustration of the unchanging grip on power of the British social elite. Unsurprisingly, Johnson and Haig have personality traits and patterns of behaviour shaped by their upbringing and geared to furthering their ambitions. These include complete self-confidence stemming from a sense of entitlement and great skill in gaining and keeping power, though in my opinion, not in using it.
Another part of this skills set is the ability to control subordinates who may have greater abilities and knowledge than their boss. In the battle of the Somme, the organisation of the offensive was in the hands of General Sir Henry Rawlinson, the commander of the 4th Army, who had strong misgivings about Haig’s unrealistic plan to break right through the German front line.
But Haig over-awed Rawlinson, whom he had saved from the sack after he had made a mistake in an earlier battle. He therefore went along with his commander-in-chief’s deluded views, even when he knew they were likely to produce failure. Johnson has a similar controlling relationship with his cabinet.
Not sacking ministers and subordinates, who would have lost their jobs because of scandal or incompetence in any other government, is seemingly a lever of power to which Johnson is particularly attached. The price paid for this approach during a year of crisis is repeated poor decision-making and operational incapacity when efficiency is most needed.
The serious failings by the Johnson administration is too long to list: they include minor errors – such as allowing sports fixtures like the Cheltenham Festival, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, to take place, when the rest of Europe was closing down – to putting a non-public health professional in charge of the vastly expensive test and trace system, with calamitous results. Despite £22bn being spent on this system, a Sage report says that it has had marginal impact on the infection rate, and it seems it is therefore as useless as Haig’s cavalry divisions at the Somme.
In one significant respect, perhaps Johnson’s record is worse than that of any other British government in times of grave crisis because the stench of alleged corruption is growing by the day. Shady dealings over procurement contracts have now reached a level previously associated with the Middle East. An investigation of those contracts that have been made public by The New York Timesrevealed that out of nearly $22bn spent, “about $11bn went to companies either run by friends and associates of politicians in the Conservative Party, or with no prior experience or a history of controversy”.
It seems that a shadowy VIP fast lane was used by politically well-connected companies to win profitable contracts, while other companies without those connections were shut out from the process. Companies in Britain already in the business of manufacturing PPE got no answer to their calls, while companies with no experience of doing so were given contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
The Conservative benches in future parliaments are likely to be filled “by hard-faced men who look as if they did well out of the epidemic”, to adapt the saying of the Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin about the House of Commons after the First World War.
Haig and Johnson both did or are doing great damage to their countries in times of devastating crisis. Heavy loss of life was inevitable in both 1916 and 2020, but their ineptitude as leaders ensured that the casualties were higher and the misery worse than it needed to be. They should not be forgiven.
Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso). Courtesy, CounterPunch.org.)
MITCH McCONNELL’S IDEA OF A BAILOUT BILL: The new spending shouldn’t be confused as a ‘stimulus’ bill. It won’t stimulate the economy much, if at all. A stimulus requires significant net new spending. Most of the deal is just a continuation of past spending levels, and in some notable examples it’s a reduction in spending levels. The same can be said for the companion legislation to keep the US federal government funded. That’s another $1.4 trillion. But that too is just continuation spending. Nevertheless, we hear from the mainstream media it’s a $2.3 trillion total spending package, the second largest in US history (the first largest being the past March Cares Act which the same media keeps misrepresenting as a $3 trillion package).
For the record, the $3T Cares Act amounted only to $1.4 trillion actual spending that got into the US economy. More than $1 trillion in loans initially earmarked for medium and large corporations, and 11 financial markets, never got spent by the Federal Reserve. In addition, $650 billion of the $3T was actually tax cuts for investors and businesses. That’s mostly been hoarded. The only actual spending that got into the real economy and GDP was the $500 billion for income checks and unemployment benefits for workers, plus $525 billion in loans and grants for 5 million of the 31.7 million US small businesses, plus another $100B or so to the Federal Reserve’s ‘Main St.’ lending programs and less than $100B for other Fed lending. So the much touted March Cares Act actual spending was less than half the media’s reported $3T.
— Jack Rasmus
GIVING TUESDAY – SUPPORTING THE INNOCENCE PROJECT
From: Thanksgiving Coffee Company <email@example.com>
On selected Tuesdays from September – December 2020, we have committed to donating 10% of all sales from all of our coffees on that day to an organization working to advance racial justice.
Today, we’ll be supporting the Innocence Project
‘The Innocence Project, founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardozo School of Law, exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.’ (from innocenceproject.org)
Today, 10% of your purchase will be donated to the Innocence Project.
Please join us supporting the work of this organization.
Buy Coffee + Support Racial Justice
Stay tuned for more about our efforts to support and amplify the movement for racial justice! #BlackLivesMatter
The team at Thanksgiving Coffee Company
MAKES NO SENSE
I have to agree with Suzanne Cochran that it makes no sense to shut down businesses that go overboard to follow instructions and clean everything between customers — this would include outdoor dining — and yet leave everything open, such as markets and department stores, that let people wander around and touch everything without anyone cleaning up after them.
William (Bill) Millard
REPUBLICAN “RED SLIME” MEDIA WILL BE SUED FOR DEFAMATION
Trump can get away with slandering people while he’s president.
But the right-wing media companies supporting his lies about the election are facing serious defamation litigation by companies that produce voting machines. Antonio Mugica, who heads a company that makes voting machines, has a good defamation case against those slandering his product.
Ben Smith in Monday’s NY Times:
…Last month, Mr. Mugica initially took it in stride when his company’s name started popping up in grief-addled Trump supporters’ wild conspiracy theories about the election.
“Of course I was surprised, but at the same time, it was pretty clear that these people were trying to discredit the election and they were throwing out 25 conspiracy theories in parallel,” he told me in an interview last week from Barbados, where his company has an office. “I thought it was so absurd that it was not going to have legs.”
But by Nov. 14, he knew he had a problem. That’s when Rudy Giuliani, serving as the president’s lawyer, suggested that one voting company, Dominion Voting Systems, had a sinister connection to vote counts in “Michigan, Arizona and Georgia and other states.”
Mr. Giuliani declared on Twitter that the company “was a front for SMARTMATIC, who was really doing the computing. Look up SMARTMATIC and tweet me what you think?”
Soon his company, and a competitor, Dominion — which sells its services to about 1,900 of the county governments that administer elections across America — were at the center of Mr. Giuliani’s and Sidney Powell’s theories, and on the tongues of commentators on Fox News and its farther-right rivals, Newsmax and One America News.
“Sidney Powell is out there saying that states like Texas, they turned away from Dominion machines, because really there’s only one reason why you buy a Dominion machine and you buy this Smartmatic software, so you can easily change votes,” the Newsmax host Chris Salcedo said in one typical mash-up on Nov. 18. Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business reported on Nov. 15 that “one source says that the key point to understand is that the Smartmatic system has a backdoor.”
In an era of brazen political lies, Mr. Mugica has emerged as an unlikely figure with the power to put the genie back in the bottle. Last week, his lawyer sent scathing letters to the Fox News Channel, Newsmax and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear his company’s name — and that they retain documents for a planned defamation lawsuit.
He has, legal experts say, an unusually strong case. And his new lawyer is J. Erik Connolly, who not coincidentally won the largest settlement in the history of American media defamation in 2017, at least $177 million, for a beef producer whose “lean finely textured beef” was described by ABC News as “pink slime.”
…Now, Mr. Connolly’s target is a kind of red slime, the stream of preposterous lies coming from the White House and Republican officials around the country.
“We’ve gotten to this point where there’s so much falsity that is being spread on certain platforms you may need an occasion where you send a message, and that’s what punitive damages can do in a case like this,” Mr. Connolly said.
Mr. Mugica isn’t the only potential plaintiff. Dominion Voting Systems has hired another high-powered libel lawyer, Tom Clare, who has threatened legal action against Ms. Powell and the Trump campaign. Mr. Clare said in an emailed statement that “we are moving forward on the basis that she will not retract those false statements and that it will be necessary for Dominion to take aggressive legal action, both against Ms. Powell and the many others who have enabled and amplified her campaign of defamation by spreading damaging falsehoods about Dominion.”
These are legal threats any company, even a giant like Fox Corporation, would take seriously. And they could be fatal to the dream of a new “Trump TV,” a giant new media company in the president’s image, and perhaps contributing to his bottom line. Newsmax and OAN would each like to become that, and are both burning money to steal ratings from Fox, executives from both companies have acknowledged.
They will need to raise significantly more money, or to sell quickly to investors, to build a Fox-style multibillion-dollar empire. But outstanding litigation with the potential of an enormous verdict will be enough to scare away most buyers…
OAN and Newsmax have been avidly hyping Mr. Trump’s bogus election claims. OAN has even been trying to get to Newsmax’s right by continuing to reject Joe Biden’s status as president-elect. But their own roles in propagating that lie could destroy their businesses if Mr. Mugica sues.
The letters written by lawyers for Smartmatic and Dominion are “extremely powerful,” said Floyd Abrams, one of the country’s most prominent First Amendment lawyers, in an email to The New York Times. “The repeated accusations against both companies are plainly defamatory and surely have done enormous reputational and financial harm to both”…
“They have a very good case,” another First Amendment lawyer who isn’t connected to the litigation, the University of Florida professor Clay Calvert, said of Smartmatic. “If these statements are false and we are taking them as factual statements, that’s why we have defamation law.”
Fox News and Fox Business, which have mentioned Dominion 792 times and Smartmatic 118 times between them…appear to be taking the threat seriously.
Over the weekend, they broadcast one of the strangest three-minute segments I’ve ever seen on television, with a disembodied and anonymous voice flatly asking a series of factual questions about Smartmatic of an expert on voting machines, Eddie Perez, who debunks a series of false claims.
The segment, which appeared scripted to persuade a very literal-minded judge or jury that the network was being fair, aired over the weekend on the shows hosted by Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, where Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell had made their most outlandish claims…
Mr. Mugica said he had taken worried calls from governments and politicians all over the world, concerned that Mr. Trump’s poison will seep into their politics and turn a Smartmatic contract into a liability.
“This potentially could destroy it all,” he said.
Mr. Mugica wouldn’t say whether he has made up his mind to sue. Mr. Connolly said that he has “a lot of people watching a lot of videos right now,” and that he’s researching whether to file in New York, Florida or elsewhere.
I asked Mr. Mugica if he’d settle for an apology. “Is the apology going to reverse the false belief of tens of millions of people who believe in these lies?” he asked. “Then I could be satisfied.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
This year — maybe more so than any other — we all need to have a great holiday season. Not just for the usual warm-hearted corny reasons, but as an act of defiance. Defiance against what? Defiance against the attacks that have been waged on us all year by a virus but even more so by all the many little dictators around America who think it’s their job to micro manage our lives down to the smallest detail. They tell us to sit home, not see our loved ones, and be miserable. How nice of them. We’ll do that just as soon as we see THEM sitting at home, not seeing their loved ones (and side interests), and sitting at home miserable. And that will be never.
So, maybe you’re not all that into the holidays this year or in general. Well, make a big change this year. Celebrate the living hell out of them. Send a big message that we’ve had enough of being bullied, dominated, abused, belittled, talked down to, and told who the damn “experts” are that we are supposed to bow down to and wash their feet and turn our lives over to.
Special holiday greetings back to our blog host [Kunstler] who is one who still values his audience, still seeks truth, still allows honest feedback, still knows how to put “the words” together, and still (as I) seeks a true and modern passenger rail system for America. If they can conjure trillions upon trillions to bail out the Wall Street Bastards, they can do the same to finance and build a good rail system to compensate us for putting us all through a Year from Hell. Get to it, “Public Servants”.
SIROTA PREDICTS THAT BIDEN WON’T BE ABLE TO WORK WITH REPUBLICANS
“The idea that the opposition is going to be a loyal, or honest, or principled opposition is… the Republicans have taught us that they won’t be,” Sirota said. “So the idea that Biden is relying on that, it’s just… It’s mind boggling, it’s just not reality”
— David Sirota
DEM v. REPUB ENERGY: No Contest
by Ralph Nader
The Republican and Democratic Parties have been evaluated in many ways but not often by the standard of sheer energy levels. Compare the ferocious drive by Trump, Republican Senators and Representatives, Attorneys General, and Governors in promoting, with baseless allegations and buckets of lies, overturning the presidential election. Of the more than 50 election lawsuits filed by Trump’s Republican allies, almost all of them have been promptly thrown out of court.
The wildly frivolous efforts by Trump and his cronies have provoked a rare public letter, signed by over 1,500 lawyers, including past presidents of bar associations, urging disciplinary proceedings against the lawyers representing craven Republican operatives in their attempted electoral coup. (See: lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org)
Even after the Electoral College voted on December 14, 2020, to declare Joe Biden the winner, the Trumpsters are continuing their reckless fanaticism. Extreme Trumpster Congressman Mo Brooks (D-AL) plans to lead a move on January 6, 2020, to demand that the House and the Senate refuse to certify the Electoral College decision.
Now let’s go back to the George Bush/Al Gore presidential election in 2000, where there were real shenanigans. It all came down to Florida’s electoral votes, notwithstanding Al Gore winning the national popular vote by about 500,000. Thousands of people were prevented from voting because they had names similar to the names of ex-felons who were purged from the voting rolls. Ari Berman’s Nation magazine article, “How the 2000 Election in Florida Led to a New Wave of Voter Disenfranchisement” reports: “If 12,000 voters were wrongly purged from the rolls, and 44 percent of them were African-American, and 90 percent of African-Americans voted for Gore, that meant 4,752 black Gore voters—almost nine times Bush’s margin of victory—could have been prevented from voting.” According to Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, “The felon lists were compiled by Database Technologies Inc., now part of ChoicePoint Inc., an Atlanta-based company. In 1998, DBT won a $4 million contract from the Florida secretary of state’s office to cross-check the 8.6 million names registered to vote in the state with law enforcement and other records.” Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s brother Jeb Bush was Florida’s governor during this horrendous disenfranchisement.
There were also deceptively confusing ballot designs in three Florida counties that tricked voters into voting for the wrong candidates.
And there was the judicial coup d’état stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, led by Republican Justice Antonin Scalia that blocked the ongoing statewide recount ordered by Supreme Court of Florida which would have awarded the state and the election to Al Gore.
Democrats meekly accepted this whole sordid episode, apart from their lawsuit. Vice-president Al Gore, presiding over the U.S. Senate rejected pleas from House Democrats to challenge the Electoral College certification. Al Gore had already accepted arguably the most blatantly, politically partisan Supreme Court decision “selecting” George W. Bush on December 12, 2000.
The 2004 presidential contest, between George Bush and John Kerry, came down to the swing state of Ohio. By 118,601 thousand votes, the Republican Secretary of State awarded the state to Bush/Cheney. There were, in the days before the election, claims of Republican skullduggery, including voting place irregularities, obstructions of voters, and flaws in proprietary software used in the vote-counting process. Kerry’s vice-presidential running mate, Senator John Edwards begged Kerry not to immediately concede and to wait for more revelations. But Kerry threw in the towel the day after the election.
Civic leaders in Ohio took their concerns about electoral wrongdoings to the veteran lawmaker, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who held public, unofficial House hearings on the subject. It was too late to change anything, but the hearings did cast a shadow over the GOP which the establishment Democrats quickly forgot about.
In 2009, the Fox Television-driven launch of the Tea Party movement, having more than 350,000 engaged volunteers, roiled the back-home town meetings of Republican members of Congress and secured a clenched-teeth grip on the House of Representatives with some three dozen true believers. This small cohort, self-named the Freedom Caucus, had an outsized veto over Rep. Speaker John Boehner and eventually drove him to resign.
The seventy or eighty Progressive Caucus members in the House have scarcely generated a ripple with their demands on the House Democratic Leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Energetic, demanding Democratic resisters in the House hardly exist, whether on overdue anti-corporate crime legislation, labor law reform to remove barriers to organizing trade unions, fundamental corporate tax reform, corporate-managed “free trade,” or runaway militarism.
The Progressive Caucus could not even broaden the Impeachment proceedings last November/December to include the well-documented daily violations of the Constitution by Trump (See: December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197). There was little significant energy in the Democratic ranks when Obama won the White House and the large congressional majorities in the House and Senate in 2009-2010. The weak Democrats didn’t rollback many Bush actions and continued Bush’s foreign and military policies.
What accounts for the difference between the two parties? Well, the Republicans are really into their trilogy – get more tax cuts and subsidies, get even less regulatory law enforcement and keep the war machine humming. The rank-and-file Republicans also slam the Democrats on abortion, judicial nominations, immigration, and being soft on crime.
The Democrats have to themselves the bread-and-butter family economic issues, worker and environmental injustices, and addressing the meager public services, and our crumbling infrastructure. These issues should really fire up the Democrat Party base. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is controlled by smug, entrenched people living in the exclusive top one percent. Why should they exert themselves? Especially since lassitude invites more campaign money than ever before.
The national civic groups have many progressive agendas but can’t find congressional sponsors that make up a determined force on Capitol Hill. When they can find somebody like Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to introduce a bill, it is largely ignored and becomes a one-day news story release.
A junior Representative from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, through sheer willpower built a powerful political base. He toppled two Democratic House Speakers Jim Wright and Tom Foley, took over the House of Representatives in 1994, and became the House Speaker in 1995.
Senate tyrant Mitch McConnell defies red and blue state governors, mayors, federal and state lawmakers, social service groups, and overwhelming public opinion by blocking the stimulus-relief legislation for months.
What Democratic Senators or Representatives have this energy level?
It was Kevin Phillips, the big business-aware, Republican strategist and writer who years ago provided the apt metaphor: “Republicans go for the jugular, and the Democrats go for the capillaries.” It is beyond troubling that the Democrats haven’t increased their level of energy to confront the worst, cruelest, most corrupt, GOP in history. The delusional Trumpist Party didn’t lose control of any state legislatures, held the Senate, nearly retook the House, and didn’t lose one House Republican incumbent.
Just under 400,000 votes, in the six battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, gave Biden his Electoral College victory! Democrats wake up!
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
— William Butler Yeats (1919)
ALICIA BALES CAMPAIGN TO DEFAME
Introduction: Alicia Bales is program director at KZYX, Philo, a publicly-funded, tax exempt fm radio station. Ms. Bales is leading a slander campaign to defame Liz Evangelatos Barney, a social media public information officer who works in this capacity for the Sheriff’s Department. *
* * *
December 22, 2020
My letter is in response to the slander campaign against Liz Barney by Alicia Bales. Alicia “Little Tree” Bales was the former Mendocino Environmental Center president where I was a board member. She, along with Naomi Wagner, who names herself as the current board president without an actual election, cried “racist” to a then MEC board member after he posted on his personal Facebook page a theory about the Mexican Cartel and the rash of fires going on a few years ago.
The theory posited by the board member was that the Cartel may have played a role in starting fires to destroy marijuana crops and thus, remove competition. The board member did not emphatically say this was a fact. This person was/is extremely knowledgeable about the Mexican cartel and growing marijuana in our County having been a grower for many years and was expressing an idea on his personal Facebook page.
Bales and Wagner launched a campaign to remove the “racist” person from the MEC board. He eventually removed the FB post and was forced off the board and labeled a “racist.”
On December 2, 2020, the AVA ran a story about six Mexicans living in Round Valley who tortured and executed Traci Bland and Kyle McCartney. Traci and Kyle, who were white, were kidnapped, tortured and killed. The six defendants are known as the Covelo Six with the head of the group led by a woman. All six had extensive criminal pasts. One member, Samson Musellini Little Bear Joaquin’s criminal past includes being arrested and charged with domestic violence battery after allegedly attempting to choke and hit his pregnant partner. The AVA’s article writes: “Perhaps the most troubling detail revealed in the charging document are counts six and seven asserting the Covelo Six ‘willfully, unlawfully, with the intent to cause cruel and extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion and/or for sadistic purpose’ inflicted great bodily injury on both Bland and McCartney.”
Who made Alicia Bales the “racist police” for Mendocino County? Where is her outrage over this serious crime committed on two innocent people? To naively think that the Mexican Drug Cartel isn’t active and present in our County is arrogant, ignorant, and stupid.
Ms. Bales: You need to publicly apologize to Liz Barney for your own racism and sexism. BTW, using your old CB handle “Little Tree” doesn’t make you a Native American. You insult indigenous people everywhere.
P.S. To the Editor: You might want a reporter to look into KMEC Radio being off the air and the MEC completely shut down. MEC owns the broadcast license for KMEC. Funny how the “board” doesn’t see this as a problem. Are you listening Ms. Wagner?
REO SPEED WAGON, through the years
THE THOMAS HAYFIELD IN WINTER
Today’s subject is the Ukiah Valley, more specifically John Thomas’s hayfield in winter.
We are standing just east of the Perkins Street Bridge and the Russian River.
We are looking south, across the field, in the direction of the old Thomas family farmhouse at the end of Gobbi Street.
A line of valley oaks grow near the farmhouse.
The valley oaks are magnificent.
The sturdy trunk of the valley oak may exceed 10 feet in diameter and its stature may surpass 100 feet in height. The “Henley Oak”, in Covelo — in Mendocino County — is the tallest known North American oak, at 153 feet.
I love painting valley oaks, especially in winter. The branches of the valley oak have an irregular, spreading and arching appearance that produce a profound leafless silhouette in the clear winter sky.
I also paint the mistletoe growing on the oaks.
Mistletoe attach themselves to their host valley oak by a ball-like structure called the haustorium, through which they extract water and nutrients from the host tree. The etymology of the word corresponds to the Latin word “haustor” meaning “the one who draws, drains or drinks”.
A multitude of mistletoe balls growing high in the ancient valley oaks are one of my favorite subject to paint.
Returning to the subject of today’s painting, the South Ukiah Little League Field is just beyond the old Thomas family farmhouse.
For more than 100 years, the Thomas family grew pears. They were famous for them. But growing pears wasn’t economically viable with globalization, so the orchard was bulldozed about 10 years ago.
Timothy and orchard grass, and alfalfa, are now grown for hay. John Thomas has to grow something to keep his family’s water rights. Once it was pears.
Now, it’s hay.
One of the first rules of California water rights: “Use it or lose it.”
* * *
NOTES FOR A PROSE POEM
Looking out on the bitter view of the mortal flood plain, I remember the pears that grew here — who would waste a hundred years of labor on this orchard, only to bulldoze it, pile up the trees and burn them, then plant hay?
Who, for fear of cheap pears from China, gave up the orchard’s life?
Bartlett and Bosc pears? Comice, French Butter, and Seckels?
Let me not allow you to cravenly deny it, John Thomas!
You loved your orchard in springtime — a wild bloom of a billion-billion tiny white blossoms. The blossoms looked like popcorn. And the bees were mad for them.
Losing the orchard was a precious loss. We have not that many precious losses to bulldoze and burn, and still be allowed to stay on this land.
God will not allow it, John Thomas.
— John Sakowicz