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IN THE WAKE OF A COLD FRONT, scattered showers will linger through mid-morning for northern interior portions of our area, but otherwise expect a drying and clearing trend today with easing winds. High pressure will maintain partly sunny and mild conditions Saturday, before a weakening front approaches for Sunday. High surf and high astronomical tides will be the main items to monitor through the weekend. (NWS)
RAINFALL the past two days: Yorkville 0.6"; Boonville 0.5"
40 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Thursday, bringing total to 2801.
SECRECY AT MENDOCINO COAST HOSPITALITY CENTER
by Malcolm Macdonald
The Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center in Fort Bragg receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in government funding. That's tax dollars from the public. Yet, in these Covid times the Hospitality Center Board of Directors has not included the public in a single monthly meeting. If you go online and seek out the smaller special districts on the Mendocino Coast, you will find Zoom and/or teleconference links for all the meetings this writer is aware of. Some of those had glitches in their early attempts at such gatherings, but at the very least the effort was made to hold Recreation & Parks, Harbor District, or Healthcare District meetings with public input included. The Hospitality Center has seemingly gone out of its way to avoid the public. In effect, Covid-19 has given its board a smokescreen to operate undercover for ten months now.
Using the most recent tax records available, the Hospitality Center (HC) receives at least $400,000 in government funding annually. With that in mind, one might reasonably presume that the public would be apprised of HC board of directors meetings if not invited to them. A check of the HC website provides no clue as to when the HC board meets. As of January 4, their web pages hadn't advanced beyond a December 2020 activities calendar. That calendar uses the word “community” all over the place, but never to welcome the community as a whole, and certainly not to welcome the outside community to a board of directors meeting.
A look at the HC Facebook page doesn't give any hints about board of directors meetings either. When last the AVA broached the topic of the Hospitality Center in November 2020 it was to focus on the correspondences of the last two full time executive directors of HC. The “Hospitality” organization has been without an executive director since Carla Harris was let go on July 1, 2020. As noted in the November piece, Ms. Harris had some choice words regarding the HC board of directors. “They [the MCHC board] are out of touch with reality. They enable folks, they thing [think] they are above the law and don't event [even] reside in Fort Bragg. They have no clue how to help people out of homelessness and have no idea what it takes to run an efficient and effective nonprofit organization. They are a bunch of narcissistic arses with their heads burried [sic] so deep in the sand that they can't even see beyond their own bullshit.”
Her predecessor, Anna Shaw, echoed those comments. “I agree 100% with Carla Harris’s experience of the MCHC Board of Directors, specifically that ‘they are out of touch with reality, they don’t care about the community, and they are out of control. They enable folks, they think they are above the law and they don’t even reside in Fort Bragg. They have no clue how to help people out of homelessness and have no idea what it takes to run an efficient and effective nonprofit organization.’
“I was Executive Director for almost 8 years, I believe Carla’s tenure in that position was about 20 months. That’s nearly ten years total that the MCHC Board of Directors has mis-run this organization, as reported by the most senior staff.”
Well, lo and behold, word on the street is that Hospitality Center is replacing some of the current directors. The key phrase being, “word on the street.” You won't find any notice of it on their web page or Facebook page. Unlike the radio notices I have heard quite frequently advertising for applicants to fill a vacant Fort Bragg City Council seat, there appears to be no public media outreach to encourage coastal citizens to apply for the HC board.
If one digs down deep on the Hospitality Center web site, an application for a seat on the board can be found. Of course, by the time this is read by the general public HC Board President Carole White may have hand-picked her own favorites. It is worthy of note that since taking over the Old Coast Hotel site at 101 North Franklin Street in Fort Bragg not a single central business district owner has been added to the HC Board of Directors.
Fort Bragg business owner Jim Britt has voiced an idea for change at HC. He would like to see the organization move from a non-profit closed board of directors to a membership organization. In that scenario, HC could sell memberships. Britt has offered up an example in which coastal citizens could pay a $25 annual membership fee and businesses $100, with both membership classes allowed to vote as board members. Britt maintains such a change would only require a board resolution filed with the California Secretary of State's office, and that the corporate 501(c)3 status would otherwise go unaltered. According to Britt, this new structure would allow residents of the coast and particularly Fort Bragg to feel more involved and invested in the operations of the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center. Britt feels that this style of board should include a city employee and a member of the police force. Britt states that the advantages of public ownership of HC would not only include the infusion of public money, but also that public ownership would bring quicker and more effective resolution to problems that HC leadership has ignored for too long.
FORT BRAGG WINTER SHELTER PLANNING
On November 23, 2020, the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) issued a press release with the title “Coast faces prospect of no Winter Shelter this year” (Attachment 1). The challenges of securing adequate venues, hiring staff and complying with COVID guidance were cited as reasons MCHC may not be able to operate the Winter Shelter this year.
SHELTER THE PLAQUE IN PLACE
How can “Mo” find a “new location” for the whorehouse plaque other than where the whorehouse was? How about embedding it in the city’s sidewalk closest to where it was to begin with? Seems like that would eliminate future property ownership issues and it is a “public location.”
Too simple, I guess.
WE HOPE we were not the only viewers who noticed when last Tuesday’s Closed Session Agenda Item 9c, CEO Angelo’s cozy proposal to buy Richard Selzer’s Realty Offices next door to the Schraeder's operation on Orchard Street, was postponed without action being taken according to a brief report out of closed session by County Counsel Christian Curtis. Readers may recall that CEO Angelo had hoped to reward her Ukiah realtor friend Richard Selzer with a “market rate” buyout of Selzer’s office complex at 551 South Orchard Avenue in Ukiah near the newly purchased Best Western motel, now being converted into a glorified 50-or-so unit homeless shelter. Selzer didn’t like the idea of having an office building next to the people to be housed next door in the old Best Western Motel who are not potential clients (aka “homeless”). Angelo saw an opportunity to both mollify Seltzer while spending some of those millions of homeless/emergency dollars that Newsom and McGuire are forcing on Mendo (and lots of other places) to hurriedly convert Selzer’s building to more homeless housing and/or office space. (Nobody has announced their actual intentions for the building so far. One would hope that at least the plans and costs would be reviewed in public before the purchase, but it looks like the CEO is using the “property negotiations” Brown Act closed session ploy to keep the plans secret until after it’s all wrapped up.) We’d like to think that the new Board at least wanted to find out more about the cozy transaction before rubberstamping it. We’ll see if it re-apppears on a future agenda.
SPEAKING OF ORCHARD AVENUE BOONDOGGLES, what happened to the public meeting that was supposed to have been scheduled to consider “mitigations” and address community concerns surrounding the recent purchase of the former Best Western Motel cum homeless shelter operation, such as security, operational funding, staffing, police coverage and management of the facility and its residents? According to CEO Angelo’s CEO report of November 17, “Mendocino County HHSA will host another virtual community meeting in December to further discuss the project and gather additional community input.” As usual, that didn’t happen and nobody followed up. So far, the County has plans to install small kitchenettes in each room on an “emergency” basis, even though this was one of many known remodeling requirements back in October when the $12 million (and counting) “homekey” project was approved before any planning was done.
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: Update on pressure treated disposal: “Residents may bring up to 125 pounds of treated wood waste material per day. Businesses may bring up to 220 pounds of treated wood waste per month. $1 per pound for both residents and businesses. All staples, nails and screws removed. On our web page mendorecycle.org/HazardousWaste/SpecialItems we list all the specifics of rates and frequency to make it as clear as possible for now to the public.”
Joel Veikko Soinila: Per household that’s about four 4x4’s at 12 feet in length. For a business that’s only about 8. Our county, city and people who have the means to move this stuff need to collaborate and come up with a cost effective method to dispose of it. I’m working on a business model now, which seems impossible given people can’t afford the service. I routinely would take 2,000 plus pounds of this material to the dump for $125. Now you’re saying people are going to pay $2,000 for that same disposal? It’s not going to happen, what is going to happen is these materials will sit and leach into our groundwater. This needs to be a high priority item to find resolution ASAP. I’m more than happy to be involved in the solution. I’m working on getting the licensing I need to haul this now, it’s daunting.
Williams replied: The difficulty is the destination. The hauling didn’t break down. Acceptance at hauler’s destination became impossible.
THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEMOCRATIC HEADQUARTERS in Eureka was vandalized in broad daylight yesterday after an unknown person bashed in the building’s 4th-Street-facade window.
The break-in appears to be a blatant act of vandalism likely linked to yesterday’s terroristic raid on the U.S. Capitol Building in D.C. by Trump supporters.
Eureka Police Department spokesperson Brittany Powell told the Outpost that no items are believed to have been taken from the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee building.
“Officers responded and found that entry had been forced and items inside had been vandalized,” Powell said.
(Lost Coast Outpost)
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 7, 2021
SHANNON ARNOLD, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, trespassing. (Frequent flyer.)
ISIAH GARCIA, Napa/Ukiah. Burglary during emergency, domestic battery, disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, failure to appear.
WATCHING EVENTS UNFOLD Wednesday I again felt a feeling that I last felt on September 11, 2001, a hollow feeling somewhere beyond sadness, a place on the borderline where despair begins. For the previous weeks I had concerns about January 6, a date that the President had all but circled in red sharpie. My concern grew when the President returned to Washington a day early. Then came the warning letter signed by all the former Secretaries of State. It was clear that something bad was brewing and it was set for January 6.
As had the 9-11 story, the story from the Capitol unfolded like some poisonously deformed flower. First banal bits about before with a smattering of the terrible now followed by an unbearable onslaught of nothing but NOW.
Here are my thoughts on where to go from here.
This was a premeditated attempt perpetrated by the President to throw havoc into the electoral procedure, the procedure that was about to declare him the loser of the 2020 election. The aim was to overturn the election. That the attempt was planned and executed so poorly is certainly our collective good fortune. This was sedition. It cannot be ignored.
Today, the President needs to be removed from office. I was encouraged to see the Vice President stand up to the President, but his duty is not yet done. He needs to meet with the cabinet and invoke the 25th Amendment, removing this dangerous President from office.
(Bob Abeles, Boonville)
MOST OTHER LONGTIME DEMOCRACIES have much shorter lags between an election and the transfer of power. In Britain, a new government usually takes office the next day. In Canada, France, India and Japan, it happens within a few weeks. (NYT)
NEIL SHEEHAN, DEAD AT 84
Neil Sheehan, a reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who broke the story of the Pentagon Papers for The New York Times and who chronicled the deception at the heart of the Vietnam War in his epic book about the war, died Thursday. He was 84.
Sheehan died Thursday morning of complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his daughter, Catherine Sheehan Bruno.
His account of the Vietnam War, “A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam,” took him 15 years to write. The 1988 book won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.
Sheehan served as a war correspondent for United Press International and then the Times in the early days of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the 1960s. It was there that he developed a fascination with what he would call “our first war in vain” where “people were dying for nothing.”
As a national writer for the Times based in Washington, Sheehan was the first to obtain the Pentagon Papers, a massive history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam ordered up by the Defense Department. Daniel Ellsberg, a former consultant to the Defense Department who had previously leaked Vietnam-related documents to Sheehan, had copied the papers and made arrangements to get them to Sheehan.
The Times’ reports, which began in June 1971, exposed widespread government deception about U.S. prospects for victory. Soon, The Washington Post also began publishing stories about the Pentagon Papers.
The Pentagon Papers looked in excruciating detail at the decisions and strategies of the war. And they told how involvement was built up steadily by political leaders and top military brass who were overconfident about U.S. prospects and deceptive about the accomplishments against the North Vietnamese.
Soon after the initial stories were published, the Nixon administration got an injunction arguing national security was at stake, and publication was stopped. The action started a heated debate about the First Amendment that quickly moved up to the Supreme Court. On June 30, 1971, the court ruled 6-3 in favor of allowing publication, and the Times and The Washington Post resumed publishing their stories.
The Times won the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1972 for its Pentagon Papers coverage, and the paper’s editors praised Sheehan for his central role.
“We are all particularly proud of Neil Sheehan for the tenacity, knowledge and professional ability that contributed so pivotally to the whole project,” said A.M. Rosenthal, then the managing editor of the Times, after the Pulitzer was announced.
The Nixon administration tried to discredit Ellsberg after the documents’ release. Some of President Richard Nixon’s top aides orchestrated the September 1971 break-in at the Beverly Hills office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to find information that would discredit him. The White House called the secret unit the “plumbers,” since its role was to stop leaks.
For leaking the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was charged with theft, conspiracy and violations of the Espionage Act, but his case ended in a mistrial when evidence surfaced about government-ordered wiretappings and break-ins.
After the publication of the Pentagon Papers stories, Sheehan became increasingly interested in trying to capture the essence of the complex and contradictory war, so he set out to write a book.
“I tried to tell the story of what happened in Vietnam, and why it happened,” he said in a 1988 interview that aired on C-SPAN. “The desire I had is that this book will help people come to grips with this war. ... Vietnam will be a war in vain only if we don’t draw wisdom from it.”
Sheehan thought his book about the war could be best told through his account of an officer he had met in Vietnam. John Paul Vann was a charismatic lieutenant colonel in the Army who served as a senior adviser to South Vietnamese troops in the early 1960s, retired from the Army in frustration, then came back to Vietnam and rejoined the conflict as a civilian helping direct operations in a variety of roles.
Vann was convinced the U.S. could have won the war if it had made better decisions. To Sheehan, Vann personified the U.S. pride, the confident attitude and the fierce will to win the war — qualities that clouded the judgment of some on whether the war was winnable.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, told an audience at a 2017 screening of a Vietnam documentary that he never understood the full extent of the anger against the war until he read “A Bright Shining Lie,” which showed him that all the way up the chain of command “people were just putting in gobbledygook information, and lives were being lost based on those lies and those distortions,” according to a New York Times account.
The war had a deep effect on Sheehan’s outlook.
“It transformed my thinking and I think the thinking of my whole generation,” Sheehan told The Harvard Crimson in a 2008 interview. “We believed in authority figures and what they told us. And it turned out they were wrong or lying to us.”
Once Sheehan launched into the project, the intense and driven writer found it dominated his life.
“I was less obsessed than I was trapped in it,” he said. “I felt a great sense of being trapped.”
Neil Sheehan was born Oct. 27, 1936, in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and grew up on a dairy farm. He graduated from Harvard, and worked as an Army journalist before joining UPI. After he left Vietnam, he worked for the Times in Washington as a Pentagon reporter and later at the White House, before leaving the paper to write his Vietnam book.
Early in the research for “A Bright, Shining Lie,” Sheehan was involved in a near head-on car crash that broke multiple bones and put him out of action for months, but writer friends urged him to continue his book project.
He and his wife, Susan, a writer for The New Yorker, sometimes struggled to make enough money to pay the family’s bills while he was working on the book. He combined fellowships with occasional advances from his publisher to get by.
Sheehan wrote several other books about Vietnam, but none with the ambitious sweep of “A Bright Shining Lie.” He also wrote “A Fiery Peace in a Cold War” about the men who developed the intercontinental ballistic missile system.
Susan Sheehan, who lives in Washington, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for general nonfiction for a book on the crippling effects of mental illness.
The couple had two daughters, Catherine Bruno, and Maria Gregory Sheehan, both of Washington and two grandsons, Nicholas Sheehan Bruno, 13, and Andrew Phillip Bruno, 11.
PLANET OF THE HUMANS MOVIE SUPPRESSION
“Green” billionaires behind professional activist network that led to suppression of “Planet of the Humans” documentary. The Michael Moore-produced ‘Planet of the Humans’ faced a coordinated suppression campaign led by professional climate activists backed by the same ‘green’ billionaires, Wall Street investors, industry insiders and family foundations skewered in the film.
THE THREE WHYS
There are various opinions as to who initially developed the "Three Whys" theory, which is intended to uncover the cause and effects of events. This is how the White House breach might be viewed:
The event: Trump supporters violently breached the capitol building.
Why #1: Why did they do that?
Because the President fueled the anger of millions of Americans who feel they have been economically left behind and disenfranchised in today's capitalist society.
Why #2: Why do those Americans feel that way?
Because the middle class has been virtually destroyed as the nation's wealth is increasingly concentrated in an ever-smaller percentage of uber-wealthy Americans.
Why #3: Why has that happened?
Because both political parties have equally pandered to the rich, and by extension to corporations with neither sovereignty nor social responsibilities.
Conclusion: Trump was the match, not the cause.
PRESIDENT TRUMP MUST BE REMOVED from office. As soon as possible. Either through new emergency articles of impeachment, which would have the additional benefit of barring him ever for running for the presidency again. Or, my preferred option, through the 25th Amendment on the grounds of his obvious mental instability. There can be no other appropriate response to the utterly horrific scenes we all witnessed at Capitol Hill yesterday. I honestly couldn't believe what I was watching as the rioters - or 'domestic terrorists' as many are calling them - broke through the flimsy police cordon and raced into the Capitol building. I even saw one police officer pose for a selfie with a rioter. We were watching an attempted coup in real time, perpetrated by violent, racist extremists in the name of Donald Trump. They were exemplified by what I finally concluded was the most hideous image of all - a rioter arrogantly brandishing a confederate flag inside the Capitol, somewhere it had never been flown before, not even during the Civil War. Four people died in the mayhem including a female rioter who burst through a window into the Capitol building and was shot by a police officer. Trump's tolerated such horrendous people before, refusing to properly condemn them after incidents like Charlottesville because he craves their votes. Now he's stood full-square behind them as they committed an atrocity in his name - and praised them to the world. Such a person should not be President of the United States for a second longer.
— Piers Morgan
SPROUTS -- Kids activities at the Botanical Gardens
From: "Roxanne Perkins (Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens)"
Get outside and learn with SPROUTS!
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is offering a series of self-guided activities for kids and parents to do together. Activities include birdwatching, nature therapy, whale watching, pulley systems, getting to know trees, and more. All activities will be available in English and Spanish.
Birdwatching is this month's Sprouts activity! Check out binoculars and a set of bird ID cards at the Gardens.
Keep an eye out for FREE Sprouts Tickets that the Gardens will be donating through local schools and nonprofits! Without Sprouts Tickets, regular admission applies — please reserve tickets in advance at gardenbythesea.ticketspice.com/mcbg-admissions (be sure to use that locals discount).
Learn more about Sprouts: gardenbythesea.org/education/sprouts
Learn more about birds at the Gardens: gardenbythesea.org/about/birds-in-the-gardens/
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
“Republicans had better stop shouting fraud …”
Indeed – it seems to me as a middle-of-the-road type, that Donald Trump made three critical (and seemingly fatal) mistakes:
(1) Obviously, he saw the pandemic as a losing proposition, but if he had grabbed it with both hands and been out-front combatting it, he would have won easily, I expect.
(2) He claimed months ago that if he lost the election then it would only be because the election was rigged – I’m not certain that this type of self-assured arrogance went down well with the 10-20% in the center who could have been persuaded.
(3) And he attacked mail-in voting (despite the pandemic), rather than embracing it and encouraging it, as the Democrats did.
The 40% or so who would always vote for Donald Trump were locked in, but the three factors above almost guaranteed he wouldn’t get the support of the 10% or so he needed for victory. They were big mistakes in my view.
BTW – I don’t think the Georgia Democrat candidates are “far left”, by most criteria … in any other Western democracy they would probably be seen as moderate and centrist (maybe center-left, maybe center-right – but not by any real stretch as serious lefties).
I don’t recall them ever demanding the end of private property and capitalism, rounding up and shooting the ruling class, and for the proletariat to seize the means of production …
THIS IS A LEARNING PLACE. You see things you didn’t see growing up. I had a little deer, a fawn, in my bathtub. It had been killed by a car—not mine—and I picked it up. I was living at the time with a full-grown commune hippy, a woodland hippy. She was like the Chinese: if it’s edible, eat it. Good thing it was a fawn and not a covid bat. (She did cook me a skunk, I swear. I’ll come back to that.)
So, anyway, there’s this dead fawn. I don’t remember the cleaning & skinning. I was just the surgical nurse for that part. She was the surgeon. What I remember is the mostly unmarred animal in the tub. All of its parasites were legging it, ticks and fleas in clear relief against the white enamel, the poor darlin’ going from sadly dead to disgusting. You could almost hear them. “HEY this sucker’s DEAD! I’m outa here.” Seems like fleas and ticks like their blood warm. Or, ship rats: “Stay if you want, this baby’s sinking! Titanic, my ass. This tub’s about to be The Invisible.”
It’s that way in the West Wing, right now. (East Wing and Middle Wing, too, I bet.) People with nice offices are boxing their stuff up and Ubering the hell out of there. Get out of the way!
As for the Fukdum-in-Chief, I notice with interest how his appearance has changed like a picture of Dorian Gray. The Net and social media are all over it. He’s never been more present in my TV, an adoration of different views of his mug, all now unrelievedly evil. Wonderful! Smiling or frowning, he is Beelzebub, the dark-dumb prince.
Will he pardon himself? Does the bear rise in the east? Is not this speculation silly? Of course he’ll pardon himself, but as Dorian discovered, the time for that has passed. That train has left the station, that horse is out of the barn, the goose flown. Too late, Don.
And as for the commotion he started yesterday, it gave me a feeling of personal violation, the backpack-wearing, bullhorn-toting brats from the suburbs, swarming the capitol like ticks and fleas on a dead fawn, at once scary and disgusting.
I’m from Baltimore, and D.C. (“Deesee,” as we called it) was just a short ride down the parkway, within range of school field trips. (“That’s the National Cathedral, that’s the Smithsonian, that’s Congress, that’s the White House—hurry along, class.”) Washington in World War 2, a magical time except for all that bad shit.
Brats, earnest QAnon people, dead USAF ladies, clots of ugly, noisy people in the halls and tunnels of democracy, of my extended home, alma mater of my citizen-consciousness, shitting all over everything, soiling my rotunda, the flight from the WH and desecration of the Capitol intimately and indecently—Dorian Grayly—connected.
All right, the skunk. I’m all indignant about yesterday, and you want to know about roast skunk.
It tastes good, okay? You don’t believe it? Fine, but I’m telling you it tasted not just good, it tasted better than any meat I ever ate or ever will eat—deep, deep red and fatless, not even slightly like chicken or prime beef. It was ideal meat, Platonic meat. Believe it or not. Suit yourself.
THE COUP IN DC: WHY IS ANYONE SURPRISED BY TRUMP’S FASCIST POLITICS?
by Anthony Dimaggio
As I write this, pro-Trump protesters have stormed the U.S. Capitol building seeking to impose Trump’s attempted coup on America. Trump’s hand in stoking the coup is apparent on multiple fronts. He’s been disseminating and mainstreaming baseless electoral fraud conspiracies for months – years really. He encouraged these protesters to head over to Capitol Hill. Once the attacks on and invasion of the Capitol began, he refused to condemn them. And then in his first address to the nation, he poured more fuel on the fire by continuing to traffic in electoral fraud conspiracies. To be perfectly clear, this is not only a coup effort, but one that is being directed by the President of the United States.
How did we get here? And why is any of this a surprise to the legions of fascism deniers in the U.S. who have long insisted that the U.S. is not falling into authoritarian politics? Nothing about what’s happened in the capital should be a surprise to those who have taken a sober look at the rising fascism that now characterizes American politics.
Trump told the nation that he would not accept the results of an election he lost before a single ballot was counted on election day. And he has been leading an effort on countless fronts to overturn the results for the last two months, in the states, in the judicial branch, in Congress, and now in the streets.
The President was caught trying to extort the Georgian Secretary of State by threatening criminal prosecution if he refused to manufacture 11,780 votes, thereby handing Donald Trump a “victory” in the state. This was the second time in a year and a half – the other being the Ukraine scandal – in which Trump tried to extort a political official for electoral gain. Trump’s coup also includes his demand that Congress and Vice President Mike Pence hand Trump the presidency, rather than certifying Biden’s win.
Trump’s dealings with Pence, Ukraine, and the Georgian Secretary of State reflect a fiefdom-style politics in which other political leaders are deemed little more than a means to an end for the President’s personal political aggrandizement. Trump views his interactions with others as an opportunity for personal profit and as instrumental to achieving his own ends. But with this attempted coup, Trump’s politics extend beyond simple corruption and clientelism. His attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election represent a fundamental threat to democracy itself. Because of his conspiratorial propaganda, more than three-quarters of Republicans believe that the election was marked by “widespread voter fraud.” And many are now taking to the streets and engaging in violence and terrorism to overturn the election. Considering recent events, there’s just no way to know how bad this is all going to get moving forward when it comes to the survival of the republic.
Sadly, this fascist threat has been consistently downplayed every step of the way. Being intimately familiar with the mainstream academic work on fascism and the professors who produce it, I can confidently say that there are few American scholars who are willing to openly call Trump a fascist, and even fewer scholars who are willing to publicly claim that the U.S. political system contains elements of fascism.
American journalists have also been squeamish about the “fascism” designation when it comes to their reporting on Trump. A review of the Nexis Uni academic database reveals that from Presidential election to election – from November 8, 2016 to November 3, 2020 – the terms “fascism” or “fascist” appeared in relation to “Trump” in a total of 627 articles in the “paper of record” – The New York Times. The terms “authoritarian” or “authoritarianism” were far more common, appearing in 1,807 articles, or roughly three times as often as discussions of fascism, in relation to Trump. The least offensive and less incendiary terms “populist” and “populism” were far and away the most common in relation to Trump, appearing in 3,422 articles, or nearly five-and-a-half times as often as the fascist/fascism labels . To summarize, U.S. journalists have routinely avoided attacks from the right by avoiding calling Trump a fascist, while deterring discussions of fascism in American politics.
The U.S. has a long history of denialism when it comes to recognizing the dangers of fascistic politics, at home and abroad. We can look back nearly a century to the writings of Sinclair Lewis for a recognition of the “It Can’t Happen Here” willful denialism that has long characterized U.S. political culture.
U.S. discourse is defined by simplistic “fascism-not fascism” and “authoritarian-not authoritarian” binaries, which do a massive disservice to our understanding of the threats to republican governance and democratic electoralism. These dichotomies are not geared toward a good faith discourse on the fascism-authoritarianism question, because they are almost never followed by serious journalistic or scholarly engagements with the available evidence regarding whether the U.S. is slipping into fascistic or authoritarian politics. Rather, these binary frameworks are often used in derisory ways to reject out of hand the use of the fascist classification in U.S. politics. These binaries prohibit any coherent, nuanced, or thoughtful discussion of the matter, since these approaches, by design, cannot recognize that authoritarianism and fascism are real until they are fully consolidated and mature features of U.S. politics. And now that this seditious insurrection has spilled into the streets, the moral bankruptcy of fascist denialism is on display for all to see.
Henry Giroux deals thoughtfully with the authoritarian-fascism question by recognizing that the U.S. contains elements of both neoliberal and fascist politics. In other words, it’s not an either-or choice between the two. One can call our political system neoliberal fascist, neofascistic, creeping fascist, para/proto-fascist or whatever. Regardless of the qualifier that we choose, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fascist politics that is embraced by this administration. Prior to the attempted coup at the Capitol, there was already an alarmingly long list of transgressions from the Trump administration:
+ Trump’s militant and ritualistic contempt for basic notions of truth, facts, and evidence-based scientific and medical reasoning, coupled with a blind and cultist public devotion to the president via the admission of nearly two-thirds of his supporters that there is nothing he could do to lose their support.
+ Trump’s white nationalist politics and blanket demonization of Mexican immigrants as “drug dealers, criminals, rapists,” and as a national security threat. This xenophobia is clearly racist in orientation, considering Trump’s contempt for darker skinned immigrants, alongside a preference for white immigrants – as evidenced by his marriage to a white first-generation European.
+ His (failed) attempt to use the military to put down Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters, which faced stiff opposition from military leadership. Trump’s interest in using security forces to suppress dissent was hardly abstract, considering his administration’s use of police state-style undercover federal officials and unmarked vans to abduct BLM protesters, and Trump’s own gassing of non-violent protesters in Lafayette Park outside the gates of the White House, which allowed the Bible-toting POTUS to clear away onlookers as he secured a photo op in front of St. John’s Church.
+ His circumventing of Congress and governing by executive order, via the illegal confiscation of taxpayer funds for his wall, coupled with the declaration of a “national emergency” to justify his illegal actions. This use of funds was never authorized by Congress and represented a blatant abuse of the constitutional principle of checks and balances.
+ Trump’s introduction of a needlessly punitive and destructive child-parent separation policy against unauthorized immigrants. This was coupled with his reliance on concentration camp-style mass detainment, which was characterized by dangerous overcrowding, children imprisoned in cages, and the denial of basic needs such as soap, toothpaste, and medical treatment to detainees.
+ His radical crackdown on legal immigration to the U.S., which was cut by a staggering 50 percent during Trump’s term, coupled with the growth in unauthorized immigrant arrests and detainments by 30 percent compared to Obama, and by more than 100 percent compared to George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, despite comparable levels of deportations under Obama and Trump.
+ Trump’s (failed) attempt(s) to have immigrants “gassed, electrified, and shot” in mass and to illegally shut down immigration in total at the Mexican border. These orders were ignored by horrified officials at the Department of Homeland Security, who he promised would be pardoned for their illegal acts if they were ever prosecuted.
+ His propagandistic and baseless demonization of the Democrats for “stealing” the 2020 election, coupled with his own (failed) judicial, state-based, and congressional efforts to pull off an electoral coup by repealing the outcome of the election. This strategy involved nearly 60 lawsuits attempting to overrule state electoral results, and meetings with more than 300 state legislators across nearly a half dozen battleground states in which Trump schemed to overrule popular votes that favored Biden.
+ Trump’s faux Social Darwinian disaster politics, which embrace a “herd immunity,” survival of the fittest philosophy that has actively sought to infect Americans in mass with a killer virus, despite Trump’s own access to cutting edge life-saving Covid drugs and treatments to which the vast majority of Americans have no access. This “let it be” approach, one recent Columbia University study concluded, may have resulted in an excess of deaths that is 60 percent higher than what would have been expected had the federal government and states seriously responded to the crisis.
+ The paranoid and delusional eliminationist rhetoric Trump has embraced against his political enemies, portraying them as a threat to national security that needs to be snuffed out, and as recently reflected in his demand that the Justice Department arrest and prosecute top Democrats including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton based on false conspiratorial claims that they tried to undertake a coup against his administration. There is more than a bit of irony and projection at work here, considering Trump’s own relentless efforts over the last few months to initiate a coup against the incoming Biden administration.
Anyone who looks at this list and concludes that this was business as usual, or who is surprised about what happened in Washington D.C., is engaged in an act of delusion of epic proportions. Considering these developments, it is increasingly absurd to refer to Trump’s politics as anything less than fascist. The path forward is increasingly clear. This president needs to be impeached and removed from office as soon as possible. Trump needs to be charged with treason, for his role in orchestrating this attempted coup. Anything less sets a dangerous precedent for future attempts to overthrow what little is left of American democracy.
(Anthony DiMaggio is Associate Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He earned his PhD from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and is the author of 9 books, including most recently: Political Power in America (SUNY Press, 2019), Rebellion in America (Routledge, 2020), and Unequal America (Routledge, 2021). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
CAPITOL INVADER dressed in fur pelts and a bullet proof vest is Brooklyn Supreme Court judge's son and the guy who stole Pelosi's lectern is married to a doctor (and has string of drug convictions)
The looter who smiled for a photo as he made off with Nancy Pelosi's lectern has been named as Adam Johnson. He is a furniture maker and stay-at-home dad to five children. His wife is a doctor, according to local reports.
A second rioter, Aaron Mostofsky, was pictured outside the Senate Chamber dressed in fur pelts and a bullet proof vest and carrying a wooden walking stick; he is the son of Shlomo Mostofsky, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge.
Other key figures in the riot include Richard 'Bigo' Barnett, 60, who entered Nancy Pelosi's office. Barnett boasted that he “wrote her a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk and scratched my balls.”
Another of the mob was Tim Gionet, an online personality known as ‘Baked Alaska’ who is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist who was involved in the far-right Charlottesville rally in 2017.
ACTING US ATTORNEY for DC Michael Sherwin on Thursday said “all options are on the table” for charging members of the pro-Trump mob, who could now face up to 10 years in prison for “injury of federal property” under the president's executive order signed in June. “We are looking at all actors here. Not only the people who went into the building,” Sherwin said during a press conference on the mayhem. When asked if the president could be included in the probe, he replied: “We're looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role and the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they're going to be charged.” The president, who has spent weeks falsely attacking the integrity of the election, had earlier urged his supporters to “fight like hell” and protest Congress’s formal approval of the results in yet another failed attempt to stay in power. As a sitting president, Trump cannot be charged with any crimes until he officially leaves office on January 20 when Biden is inaugurated, however authorities can still open a case and conduct an investigation. It comes as DC Police released photos of at least 36 suspects who scaled the Senate and House Chambers, ruined statues, fired tear gas and smashed buildings on Wednesday in chaotic scenes.
FACEBOOK IS BLOCKING TRUMP’S ACCOUNT at least until the end of his term. “We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Mark Zuckerberg said. (NYT)
REAL CONSPIRACIES NOT FICTIONS from 2007-2020 Robbed, Poisoned, and Killed the Working Class
by Dr. Nayvin Gordon
Conspiracy theory: an attempt to explain harmful or tragic events as the result of the actions of a small powerful group.
1) The Libor conspiracy of The Banking System defrauded hundreds of millions of people from 2003 to 2012.
2) The conspiracy of executives at VW (Volkswagen) and Fiat-Chrysler fraudulently sold millions of polluting cars all over the world.
3) The 2020 Covid-19 conspiracy of silence and death: the President, his cabinet, the intelligence agencies, and Congress lied to the nation while they kept the truth secret from 330 million US citizens.
• BANKER’S CONSPIRACY ROB THE PLANET
Major U.S. and international bank executives and bank regulators rigged the London interbank offered rate (Libor) to increase their profits. An estimated $800 trillion in financial products are linked to the Libor rate including mortgages, student loans, and credit cards. Manipulating the rate upwards robbed millions of people of billions of dollars in inflated loan cost over the years. The American banker “Mr. Birkenfeld pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.”
• AUTOMAKERS CONSPIRACY TO POISON THE PLANET
VW and Fiat-Chrysler CEO’s, executives and engineers, found that making less polluting diesel engines was difficult and expensive so they conspired to install software to falsify emission results. Between 2009 and 2015, 11 million cars worldwide had computers that gave a fraudulent reading on emissions control testing, allowing 10 to 40 times more smog-causing nitrogen oxides to be emitted—poisoning people’s lungs around the world.
“A Volkswagen engineer was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan to 40 months in federal prison, and two years of supervised release, for his role in a nearly 10-year conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators ...”
• COVID-19 CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE AND DEATH
11/2019 — The US Select Committee on Intelligence, the National Security Council and the White House were informed about the potential for a possible new pandemic. This information was kept secret from the American people.
Jan. 24, 2020, the Senate Health Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a closed-door briefing on the Covid-19 outbreak. The subjects of the meeting were kept secret.
According to the Washington Post march 20, 2020, “US intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and Feb about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread.”
2/7/20 Chinese President Xi Jinping talked by phone with Trump about the dangerous new virus.
Between Jan 29 and Feb 29, 2020 the New York Times did not write a single editorial about the developing pandemic.
February 28, 2020, Trump accuses the Democrats of politicizing the deadly coronavirus as “their new hoax.”
The tapes published by author Bob Woodward, clearly reveal that President Trump admits to lying to the public about the dangers of Covid-19.
This was a conspiracy at the highest levels of government to keep silent about the threat posed by the virus which will soon have claimed one half million American lives.
Eliminating conspiracies requires social transformation designed to prevent the emergence of any “small powerful group.” A society of equals, no rich or poor, no powerful or weak, no exploiters or exploited no social hierarchy—a militantly egalitarian society of social, economic, and political equality for all.
THE MOMENT you realize you’re in too deep…
MISUSE OF STATION RESOURCES and Inappropriate Lobbying by a Station Staff Person
January 7, 2021
To the Board, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting (KZYX-Z)
RE: Staff Use of Station Resources for Lobbying a Slander Campaign
Members of the Board,
I respectfully request that you, as the governing body of the KZYX-Z, investigate the formation of a petition and the recruitment of the signers of that petition by a paid staff person. Alicia Bales, Program Manager and second in charge, has launched a slander campaign against an employee of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. (MCSO).
Specifically, Ms. Bales has used her paid staff position to foment a bias against the MCSO in general, and specifically a staff person of the Sheriff's Office who has been falsely accused of racism by Ms. Bales. The personal social media account of the employee was trolled by Ms. Bales and filtered through her controlling mindset which brings her the attention she seeks. She has not only publicly maligned the Sheriff's Office employee in writing, but now, Ms. Bales had called on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to defund the Sheriff's Office.
Ms. Bales has a pattern of trolling individuals' private, personal social media accounts to select targets whom she believes to be racist. This is not the first time she has used her position to do so.
Ms. Bales was the President of the Mendocino Environmental Center, the umbrella non-profit for KMEC-LLP radio. Before she moved to her current position, Ms Bales removed a sitting board member who posited information on their PERSONAL social media page that Ms. Bales trolled and then, declared the person a “racist” which was not the case. It is not within the job description of a paid KZYX employee to spend their time trolling social media to "hunt" for racists. By the way, KMEC radio is off the air and the Mendocino Environmental Center where Ms. Bales served as the last President, has closed. She left the Center with no board, website, budget, volunteers or staffing in place. The broadcasting license sits in silent limbo.
Finally, the General Manager, Marty Durlin is permitting Alicia Bales to “search” for perceived racists and use the station’s resources to do so. This calls into question Ms. Durlin’s understanding of public radio guidelines, policies and best practices.
Thank you for immediately addressing this matter.
PS. Respectfully, I omitted to say that the Board should conduct a side-by-side comparison of the signers of the petition against the membership roster to understand if Ms. Bales used her position to recruit station donors to assist her slander campaign.
ON TRUMP, THE CAPITOL, AND THE DIVISION ERA