Dry Day | Sandbar Breached | Comptche Detour | Church Clinic | Satisfied Customer | FB Shots | Long Lines | Supply Problem | Bent Slap | PA Testing | County Testing | Orgasmic Loan | Project Homekey | Wilma & Carolyn | 1971 Fair | Grants Available | Violence Denounced | Magritte 1939 | Ed Notes | Back Soon | Normal Gait | Yesterday's Catch | Pardon List | Pardon Line | Assassinating MLK | Stand Takers | Winter Encampment | Narrative Writer | Starter Pack | Conspiracy Addicts | Smoke Pollution | Spectacular Gracelessness | Snarl | Poor Health | Navalny/Assange | Rocket Science | Rethinking Biden | Found Object | Class War
DRY CONDITIONS WILL PERSIST across the region today into part of Thursday afternoon. Light shower activity will then become probable Thursday evening through Friday. A day of dry weather is expected Saturday, followed by additional precipitation Sunday and Monday. (NWS)
THE NAVARRO RIVER SANDBAR BREACHED early this morning, allowing backed-up waters to drain to the Pacific Ocean and ending several days and nights of shallow flooding of State Route 128. Here are several aerial photos showing the situation before and after the sandbar opened up.
— Nicholas Wilson
GEORGE HOLLISTER WRITES: As of 7:30 AM PST, the Navarro River is no longer flooding, and HWY 128 has been reopened. Thank God for that. This reminds me to mention that the late Ted Galletti recalled in his early life that the Navarro River mouth remained open year around. There was no seasonal sandbar blocking flow. This is the way it was. I have had others tell me the same. The sandbar blockage is something that has become normal, only in the last 40 or 50 years. To me this means two things: One, the seasonal blockage condition is something that likely comes and goes over time. Two, the habitat that is supposed to be protected by maintaining the sandbar blockage, and causing flooding, is an ephemeral one, and likely not worth protecting.
So, why not artificially open the sandbar? This seems to be in the best interest of everyone effected by the subsequent detour. Since I live in Comptche, and on this, can speak for people living here, having 128 detour traffic coming through Comptche has only a downside. It is a big P in the A. We get a rush of unsafe drivers either speeding, or poking along riding their brakes. The speedsters are trying to pass the slow pokes, and there is no where to pass, or pull over. Pedestrians need to be ready to bail into the bushes, or better stay home. There are also the fools coming from the coast who think Orr Springs Road to Ukiah is a good choice. “Hey let’s try this road.” Surprise, surprise. This heavy traffic also tears up the county road. The failure to artificially breach the sandbar is one of those brain dead things our California government does.
DA DAVID EYSTER:
Lots of older people (good!) and cars at the Adventist Church for the vaccination clinic on Monday. Seems organized and no vehicle accidents yet. Fingers crossed and thank you for the great weather. Heard they administered 500 shots. Wow! …
Didn't know about it ahead of time. I went out to put some things in the trash can and saw people putting out signs in front of the church early in the morning. Then people started showing up ... started as a dribble and then became droves. Plenty of folks in wheelchairs, with walkers, and with canes. Must have been word of mouth from Adventist health care providers. They finally shut it down somewhere around 3 o'clock. Given the statewide support you provide fire bases these days, you need to be up at the front of the line. I'll look into it tomorrow (Wednesday).
AVA CONTRIBUTOR BOB DEMPEL told us Tuesday that he was reasonably impressed with the recently semi-impromptu vaccination clinic at the Adventist Church in Ukiah where they efficiently and professionally injected him with Pfizer #1 and gave him a card for Pfizer #2. Dempel said that after some dedicated local research, his daughter found out about the church-cum-clinic and after being initially told that they were booked up, it turned out they had a little more than expected and after waiting a couple of hours Dempel got processed and vaccinated. Dempel was told that this was the fourth clinic they’ve held at the Adventist Church and that the vaccine injectors were off-duty volunteer nurses from Adventist Hospital who were pleasant and courteous.
NOW if Mendo can just figure out how to organize, schedule and register the vaccines, the vacciners and vaccinees from the various local delivery channels, there’s some hope that the “roll-out” will ramp up and smooth out. At least some progress is being made locally. (Mark Scaramella)
PHASE 1A - VACCINE SLOTS AVAILABLE IN FORT BRAGG tomorrow, Wednesday
This just went out to the vaccinatemendo.com list. I'm posting here to augment distribution.
We have slots open for Phase 1a vaccines tomorrow in Fort Bragg.
Various times are open between noon and 5:15.
You must be prepared to show identification (to meet the 1a criteria).
I'll compile the list in order responses are received.
There are 60 slots open.
Phase 1a is described at: mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations
TRACKING DOWN THE ELUSIVE VACCINE
by Tom Hine
When I got a call telling me to zip down to the hospital and get in line for a vaccination I did exactly as told.
About 90 seconds later I was wheeling along Clara Street and onto Hospital Drive, and immediately realized everybody else in Ukiah also got a call tipping them off, except their calls came three minutes before mine. They had a slight head start, and that was enough to turn the several acres between the railroad tracks and Pear Tree Plaza into the county’s biggest and fastest growing parking lot.
A rules-free, anarchic parking lot, to be sure. Cars were backing out of jammed medical office lots and right onto Hospital Drive, which already had no shortage of cars slaloming about. Everyone was searching for that elusive empty slot so they could begin the sprint to the hospital.
Cars were everywhere you’d expect them to be and quite a few places you wouldn’t. As I rolled around that final curve and onto the southbound straightaway some guy stopped his Toyota at a bad angle in a red-curbed zone and dashed across the 80-foot roadway, leaving his car door wide open behind him.
It was like one of those movies of a panicked populace that’s been alerted invaders from outer space will scorch the planet in five minutes, beginning with Ukiah. People were running wildly across the lawn. Is Elvis planning a concert in the front yard? I was running across the lawn too, having ditched my unlocked car at an office across the street.
I was quickly re-directed to an open air, second floor space above the pharmacy, and I waited there among scores of others in a haphazard line outside a clinic door. Because I had done the “zip” thing to get down here as fast as possible I had no jacket. It was shady and cold and I was counting heads and guesstimating that if it took, say, two minutes per person to administer a vaccine, I’d be well into advanced hypothermia by the time my turn arrived.
The good news was I was able to avoid dying from frostbite because they sent us all home. The bad news was I hadn’t been inoculated. Medicine all gone.
The next day a friend told me he’d been to the Fairgrounds for a shot (good news!) but had to stand in a long line (bad news!) that seemed to stretch from Carl Purdy Hall down to Hopland and back again. His vaccination came following a wait he estimated at around four hours.
A day or two later I got another call, this one on a Friday afternoon, with news that vaccinations were again available at the hospital. Knowing how long the line might be I used the bathroom, grabbed a candy bar, and drove on down. I quickly realized I was too late. It was as empty as the Ukiah Movie Theater parking lot.
There were plenty of parking places on both sides of the street, and no one was even milling around let alone racing about. I pulled over and walked across to inquire about upcoming times and places for vaccines, which is when I saw the line. I joined. It was impossible to tell how long the line was because it might have gone around the corner of the building, or in a door and down a hall. Or it might have been 50 feet long. Whatever.
I checked my watch; it was 2:45 p.m. I chatted briefly with a 31-year old guy ahead of me when the line took a sudden lurch forward. That’s when I discovered I was standing in a line that really was just a measly 50 feet long, including social distancing. A nice nurse-type lady jotted my information on a form, another took a temperature reading, I stepped inside a medium-size room and handed over my paperwork, was directed to Table 3, and rolled up my sleeve. Got the Pfizer version.
Out the door at exactly 3 p.m. Next, the mandatory short wait to make sure I didn’t break out in pustules and convulsions, and I left with an appointment for a follow-up shot. And, except for the fact the candy bar melted in my shirt pocket it was a glorious, thrilling day. A thrilling 30 minutes of a day actually.
But a corner was turned, a cloud had lifted and soon soon! I’d be free to move about the country.
There are probably 10-20 times as many people in the current high priority tiers than supplies. We find out just a couple of days before the supplies arrive. The vaccines cannot be refrozen, so confusion comes when people commit and then fail to show. We place calls for replacements, because the vaccine cannot be refrozen and only lasts 12 hours from initial thaw. Usually, we've been able to get a replacement within the tier. Sometimes we have to fall back to the next available tier, because that's better than wasting the vaccine.
I want to see appointments. First come first serve put 75+ year olds in a line outside for hours. For some in my district, the round trip drive was another four hours.
The core problem is lack of supply.
On Sunday, January 17, 2021 at about 4:25 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a domestic violence incident in the 27000 block of Oriole Drive in Willits.
Upon their arrival, Deputies contacted a 48 year-old male and Shaniquea Bent-Middleton, 32, of Willits. Deputies learned the couple was married and had children together.
Deputies learned the couple had been in a verbal argument when Bent-Middleton slapped the adult male in the face. Bent-Middleton then picked up a wooden stool and attempted to hit the adult male.
The adult male put up his arm up to protect himself and was struck in the forearm causing visible swelling and injuries to his arm.
Deputies arrested Bent-Middleton for domestic violence battery without incident.
Bent-Middleton was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
POINT ARENA COVID TESTING FRIDAY 1/22/2021 9AM to 11AM
There will be free COVID testing at the Veteran's Building/City Hall at 451 School Street this Friday January 22 from 9am to 11am. The testing is first come-first served.
Registration is required at http://lhi.care/covidtesting. No appointments are being taken but you will need a client number to test.
If you already have a client number be sure to bring it with you.
NOTE: This is not a drive-thru event. Please park on the north side of the building.
For any questions, call City Hall at 882-2122.
Paul Andersen, Deputy City Manager, City of Point Arena, 707-882-2122
MARCO MACLEAN NOTES:
“Re: the local federal PPP loan recipients. In FederalPay.org: $176,349 to Institute of Orgasmic Meditation, Philo, CA
Based on standard PPP eligibility rules, Institute Of OM LLC’s total 2019 payroll expenses were approximately $846,475 in order to qualify for the PPP loan amount received.
Unlike most businesses, Institute Of OM LLC’s PPP data does not report the number of jobs retained by their receipt of the Paycheck Protection Loan (some banks did not release this information from their loan applications). Without this data, per-employee payrolls for this company cannot be estimated.
Please join us for a Community Meeting about Project Homekey in Ukiah, Wednesday, January 27, 4 pm to 5:30 pm, by Zoom.
Project Homekey is a new housing project in Ukiah that will provide bridge and permanent housing for individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. The project is located at 555 South Orchard Avenue in Ukiah.
Please join us for a Community Meeting to learn more about this project and to provide input, ideas, and feedback to the program managers.
Your participation is welcome and encouraged!
To receive the Zoom link, please RSVP by email to: email@example.com
Questions? Call Megan Van Sant, Senior Program Manager, at 707-463-7733
WE RECEIVED the following note, which has embarrassed us: “Have I missed a paper or has there not been an obituary for Wilma Brink? I first heard she has passed just before Christmas. Nothing about Carolyn Short relocating to Sacramento either, are you forgetting about the old timers?”
I SAW WILMA on her lawn mower on Anderson Valley Way not long ago, and we received no notice of her passing. And for Carolyn Short to re-locate to Sacramento (where she has family) is like taking the Boon out of Boonville. More and more, we're a community of strangers.
THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF MENDOCINO COUNTY has $168,000 in available funding from its Field-of-Interest grant program. Field-of-Interest funds are established to make grants in specified areas of interest (e.g., the environment or human services), or specified geographical areas, or both.
Nonprofit organizations from throughout Mendocino County are invited to submit proposals online by 5 p.m. Feb. 26.
Since the shelter-in-place orders went into effect in March 2020, the Community Foundation has developed a dedicated COVID-19 Relief Program, which includes a focus on the nonprofit sector.
“To achieve this we have shifted our grant making programs this year, offering a Non-Profit Relief Grant to Mendocino County organizations experiencing increased demand or reduced funding as a result of the pandemic.
“Our traditional Field-of-Interest grant program is now open, with grants available from four different Field-of-Interest funds thanks to the Non-Profit Relief Program, the Community Resiliency and Disaster Preparedness Fund, the Environmental Education & Conservation Fund, and the ReLeaf Tree Planting Fund.”
Available funding includes:
-Community Resiliency and Disaster Preparedness Fund: total $100,000; grant range $1,000 to $10,000
-Environmental Education and Conservation Fund: total $10,000; grant range $1,000 to $5,000
-ReLeaf Tree Planting Fund: total $8,000; grant range $1,000 to $8,000
-Safety-Net Fund: total $50,000; grant range $1,000 to $5,000
Guidelines and a link to the online application are available at www.communityfound.org. Questions about eligibility, guidelines or the application may be directed to Amy Lutz, grants administrator, at (707) 468-9882 x104.
Field-of-Interest funds are created with a specific area of interest in mind, but anyone can contribute to these funds.
You can join with others who have a shared passion to help your giving go further together. In addition to the three funds accepting applications now, there are many more Field-of-Interest funds to choose from, representing diverse areas of interest such as the arts, providing basic needs, and promoting animal welfare.
For more information about applying to the Field-of Interest grant program or about how you can make a gift to any of the Field-of-Interest funds, visit www.communityfound.org.
MAYOR AND VICE MAYOR OF FORT BRAGG ISSUE STATEMENT DENOUNCING VIOLENCE
We, your mayor and vice mayor of Fort Bragg, CA, denounce the recent violence taking place in our country. Peaceful transfer of elected leadership is a core tenet of our democracy. As public officials, our oath is to protect the constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic. The attack on our capital was a direct assault on our democratic process and the constitution of the United States of America.
We recognize that our small community embodies a broad range of perspectives. The First Amendment is a bedrock value of this country that ensures everyone’s right to freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble. “Peaceably” is the operative word. In light of what happened in D.C. we, your mayor and vice mayor, denounce any form of violence. Committing a crime to make your point should never be the answer and we ask everyone, regardless of their personal politics, to choose peace over violence. Choose to look out for our community, your neighbor or even a stranger. Choose to make our community better.
As Dr. King taught us, a great nation is a compassionate nation. Let us take that notion to heart as we address our neighbors and seek to heal our community’s and nation’s divides.
Bernie Norvell Mayor
Jessica Morsell-Haye Vice Mayor
CAMELOT TWO! Starts tomorrow, right? Millions for the equivalent of a Super Bowl half-time show, unrelievedly vulgar. And stupid. And to think, for Roosevelt's final inauguration Congress allocated $20,000, which FDR said was way too much and so spent a mere $2,000 on the brief, dignified affair.
THE FIRES last night (Monday) in the hills east of Geyserville seem to portend a second consecutive dry year for us Northcoasters who've learned to live with the constant fear of breakaway blazes.
THE PPP handouts included some dubious paycheck protections indeed. Duncan James law office? Really? The guy's a multi-millionaire off that endless, and endlessly cynical, lawsuit between the City of Ukiah and the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. James ought to be able to cover his office paychecks out of his spare change. The Savings Bank of Mendocino, Scrooge McMannon proprietor, also gets a nice whack out of each locally dispensed PPP check, and not the only people getting handouts who otherwise scream, “Get Government Off Our Backs.” (BTW, Mannon's putting up another major eyesore building at the south end of Ukiah's big boxes near 101. The implied thinking in Ukiah seems to be, “Wot the hell? What's a little more visual squalor in a sea of it?”)
I KNOW two laid off workers at Camp Navarro whose paychecks weren't protected by the $150,000-350,000, Camp Navarro Stewards, LLC, Navarro, took in.
SPARE ME the conclusion of the pious letter from the Fort Bragg City Council that concludes, “As Dr. King taught us, a great nation is a compassionate nation. Let us take that notion to heart as we address our neighbors and seek to heal our community’s and nation’s divides. Bernie Norvell Mayor, Jessica Morsell-Haye Vice Mayor.”
KING was universally reviled when he was alive, and routinely vilified by the national media. The FBI's fruitcake founder, J. Edgar Hoover, spied on him and circulated tape recordings of King's private moments, while the Birmingham Police Department in King's hometown withdrew police protection from him while King's home was bombed and vandalized with his wife and children inside. Whether or not he taught us how to be nicer to one another seems an unresolved matter given that half the people in the country are so violently unhappy with the big picture that a representative sampling of them invaded the Capitol last week, some hoping to murder certain officeholders.
MY COLLEAGUE, The Major, read the above and said, “Better not use ‘fruitcake’ or people will say you're homophobic. And that probably qualifies as a micro-aggression which, as you know, I’m very sensitive to.” Major, I sez, I'm beyond caring, besides which I mean fruitcake in the wacky meaning of the term, not the sexual sense.
I WORKED for a guy in my youth who, like many white men of that benighted era, was a living, breathing compendium of retrograde opinions which, expressed today, would send cancel culture to the intensive care units. His fave slur was versions of “It's enough to drive me fruit!” He was perpetually on the road to fruit, but looking back I'm not sure if he meant “fruit” in its homophobic sense, given that homosexuals were then invisible.
ON A BACK page of the ICO, the intrepid Gualala weekly, there's a column under the hed, “Advertising is oxygen for local journalism,” going so far as to describe the paper's advertisers as “heroes.” The hed should read, “Advertising is cyanide for local journalism” because newspapers dependent on advertising must, of necessity, not say anything that might upset the local Rotary. In practice, that means newspapers leave out most of the news, and certainly leave out the most vivid opinion. George Orwell put it best, “Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”
ORWELL also said, “If a free press means anything at all, it means the freedom to criticize and oppose,” by which standard one wonders what some of Mendo's young reporters think they're about. A lot of what one reads and hears around here is by people who want to be loved, want local government to give them affectionate chucks under their uncomprehending chinny chin chins.
TRUMP VOWED 'we will be back - in some form' as he left Washington D.C. for the last time Wednesday, flying off on Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago to snub Joe Biden - then claiming credit in advance for the new administration's success. 'Have a good life,' he told a crowd of a few hundred supporters at Joint Base Andrews, after listing his 'achievements' in a speech which began after a 21-gun salute. In the front row, Ivanka Trump cried, while behind the maskless crowd chanted 'thank you Trump,' before the first family climbed the stairs to Air Force One for the final time. The military ceremony had the atmosphere of a Trump rally: Gloria was played as Air Force One taxied, and then the YMCA as Trump hugged and kissed his children. 'We love you. We will be back in some form,' he told the crowd of cheering supporters before signing off: 'Have a good life, we will see you soon.'
“Well, it has been 31 months since my stroke, on my walk today as people passed me I found myself fantasizing about having a “normal” gait - it reminded me for the first several months after my stroke, I would awaken, and just expect that I was going to walk normally, it took a long time before that expectation faded, although it still can have its moments like on my walk today. Obviously the life that I thought I would have is completely shattered. My lefthand still does not work, but somehow, the expectation that it will does not seem to be as strong as the walking thing. I don’t understand why that is. Just another of the MANY weirdnesses I have learned to accept. My stroke induced a Near Death Experience, which has suffused me with joy to know, absolutely KNOW! that we are infinite sacred beloved creatures! I have tremendous grief that more of you are not as aware of it……I also have great joy that my life has been an inspiration to so many of you, whether it was from the talks that I was giving b 4 CV hit us, the occasional FB post or the chance meeting at the market place. I think if we learn to joyfully, willingly pick up those crosses that are laid out in everyone’s path, then we become inspiration for each other. As we sing the song of the universe, The song ”WE Are All Just Waling Each Other Home, was taught to me at a men’s retreat some years back, and is poignantly beautiful when sung in a round. I love all of you! I created this PDF today, cuz’ I had nuthin’ better to do. It is a good mantra for the day.”
— Chris Skyhawk
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 19, 2021
JOSHUA BROWN, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, paraphernalia, suspended license.
JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, domestic abuse, use of tear gas. (Frequent Flyer)
DANIEL HOLMES, Ukiah. Domestic battery, evasion, probation revocation.
VICTOR LOPEZ-AYALA, Calpella. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
SETH MUSGRAVE, Laytonville. DUI.
MARIA PETERS-PICKETT, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
TRUMP’S PARDON LIST—SO FAR
Donald Trump used his final hours as president to issue a slew of 143 pardons and commutations of sentence to friends and allies as he prepared to reluctantly hand over power to his Democratic successor Joe Biden.
DID THE ELITES HAVE REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. KILLED?
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair
The most compelling argument against the existence of a vast conspiracy orchestrating the assassinations of Jack and Bobby Kennedy is that the brothers were never threats to ruling power. The Kennedys were card-carrying members of the global elites, ran in their circles, catered to their whims, administered their political and economic bidding. (Just ask Fidel Castro.)
With MLK, it could be a different matter. And with the infinitely more radical Malcolm X it certainly was. Whatever King’s actual function–and the Reverend was given a hard time as something of an Uncle Tom by radicals in the later Sixties–the ruling power construed him as a threat.
King was assassinated almost forty-six years ago, at just after 6 in evening, as he stood on a balcony of the Lorraine motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A single rifle bullet hit him in the jaw, then severed his spinal cord. James Earl Ray, a white man, was convicted of the killing and sentenced to 99 years. Ray was certainly the gunman.
But there are credible theories of a conspiracy, possibly involving US Army intelligence, whose role in the life and death of Martin Luther King was explored by Stephens Tompkins in the Memphis Commercial Appeal in 1993.
The Army’s interest in the King family stretched back to 1917 when the War Department opened a file on King’s maternal grandfather, first president of Atlanta’s branch of the NAACP. King’s father, Martin Sr., also entered Army intelligence files as a potential troublemaker, as did Martin Jr. in 1947 when he was 18. He was attending Dorothy Lilley’s Intercollegiate School in Atlanta and 111th Military Intelligence Group in Fort McPherson in Atlanta suspected Ms Lilley of having Communist ties.
King’s famous denunciation of America’s war in Vietnam came exactly a year before his murder, before a crowd of 3,000 in the Riverside Church in Manhattan. He described Vietnam’s destruction at the hands of ”deadly Western arrogance,” insisting that ”we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”
US Army spies secretly recorded black radical Stokely Carmichael warning King, “The Man don’t care you call ghettos concentration camps, but when you tell him his war machine is nothing but hired killers you got trouble.” Carmichael was right.
After the 1967 Detroit riots 496 black men under arrest were interviewed by agents of the Army’s Psychological Operations Group, dressed as civilians. It turned out King was by far the most popular leader. That same year, watching the great antiwar march on Washington in October 1967 from the roof of the Pentagon Major General William Yarborough, assistant chief of staff for Army intelligence, concluded that “the empire was coming apart at the seams”. He thought there were too few reliable troops to fight the war in Vietnam and hold the line at home.
The Army increased surveillance on King. Green Berets and other Special Forces veterans from Vietnam began making street maps and identifying sniper sites in major American cities. The Ku Klux Klan was recruited by the 20th Special Forces Group, headquartered in Alabama, as a subsidiary intelligence network. The Army began offering 30.06 sniper rifles to police departments, including that of Memphis. King was dogged by spy units through early ’67. A Green Beret unit was operating in Memphis the day he was shot. The bullet that killed him came from a 30.06 rifle purchased in a Memphis store. Army intelligence chiefs became increasingly hysterical over the threat of King to national stability.
After his Vietnam speech the major US newspapers savaged King. Fifteen years later the New York Times was still bitter when the notion of a national holiday honoring the civil rights leader was being pressed–with ultimate success–by labor unions and black groups. “Why not a Martin Luther King Day?” an NYT editorial asked primly. “Dr King, a humble man, would have objected to giving that much importance to any individual. Nor should he be given singular tribute if that demeans other historical black figures.” Give one of them a holiday and they’ll all be wanting one.
Within hours of King’s murder rioting broke out in 80 cities across the country. Dozens of people, mostly black were killed. On April 6 the Oakland cornered the Black Panther leadership and when one of the young leaders, Bobby Hutton, emerged with his shirt off and his hands up, shot him dead. Further police executions of Panthers followed, most notoriously the killing of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, as they slept, by the Chicago police, with FBI complicity, in December, 1969.
In contrast to Hutton, the Panthers and above all Malcolm X, slain in 1965, white liberal opinion, resentments at the disloyalty of the Riverside Church speech conveniently forgotten, has hailed King as a man who chose to work within the system and who furthermore failed to make any significant dent on business as usual.
In his last years King was haunted by a sense of failure. Amid a failed organizing campaign in Chicago he was booed at a mass meting there and, as he lay sleepless that night he wrote later that he knew why: “I had urged them [his fellow blacks] to have faith in America and in white society. They were now booing because they felt were unable to deliver on our promises. They were now hostile because they were watching the dream they had so readily accepted turn into a nightmare.”
As the radical journalist Andrew Kopkind wrote shortly after King’s assassination, “That he failed to change the system that brutalizes his race is a profound relief to the white majority. As a reward they have now elevated his minor successes into major triumphs.”
Forty years on, America is still disfigured by racial injustice. Militant black leadership has all but disappeared. To black radicals Obama’s sedate homilies and respectful paeans to America’s ladders of advancement available to the industrious are to the fierce demands for justice of Malcolm X and of King in his more radical moments, as Muzak is to Charlie Parker.
Obama is caught, even as King was. The moment whites fear he is raising the political volume, he’s savaged with every bludgeon of convenience, starting with the robust sermons of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose sin is to have reminded whites that there are black Americans who are really angry. “Damn America,” roared the Rev Wright. King was just as rough at Riverside Church in the speech that so terrified the white elites: “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”
Honesty of this sort from a black politician in America extorts due retribution.
(This article is adapted and expanded from a piece which originally appeared in the January 2009 print edition of CounterPunch. Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink co-written with Joshua Frank. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alexander Cockburn Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.)
ALLEGHENY WINTER CAMP
Take any Ohio pigsty in the wet weather, enlarge its dimensions to a hundred acres or more, make it everywhere as slimy and mortary as the worst pigsty of any dimensions, cover it with a thin layer of snow and trample this into the mud with thousands of feet til the dirty discolored whiteness only serves to show how nasty it is… soften the whole mass of mud and snow by a gentle thaw… put railroad track by the side of the area, and make its dirty freight cars and coal burning locomotives the only symbol of cleanly comfort anywhere visible… put a two story brick house in the middle of the mud, with muddy sentries pacing the muddy porch before the door… surround it with the dirt colored tents of many regiments, orderly pitched in the mire, with streets of the spongy soil made semi-liquid… put trenches along the rows of tents and make them gradually fill with the slipping mud from the banks… build wood fires in the mud, and set in kettles and pans on the burning logs to “cook” the abundant rations, tie up the poor begrimed horses in the swampy places to the rear of the tents, range the wagons to their rear, in still more unapproachable mire, cover the whole ground with the flower of Ohio’s and Indiana’s soldiers in discolored greatcoats and inexpressible inexpressibles and boots, scatter them everywhere, drearily stalking about in the mud, collecting on the little islands of comparatively solid ground, stretched out on the damp straw or damper ground that makes the floor of their tents, hovering like the witches in MacBeth around the dirty fires, everywhere listless, hands in their pockets, a dull stare in their eyes, nothing to do and unable to do anything; close in the old scene with the grand old Virginia mountains to the South, glistening in the spotless covering of purest snow, and crowned with the verdures of the pines, looking across the filthy camps and the clear Potomac toward the gentle knoll and rich marshes that stretch between on the Maryland shore; and then please to understand that you have before you the winter encampment of the Western Division of the Army of the Potomac.
— Whitelaw “Agate” Reid, Cincinnati Daily Gazette, near Cumberland, Maryland, January 1862
One out of three adult Americans have no trust in our mass media, according to a September 2020 Gallup poll. Sharyl Attkisson attempts to explain why in her new book, “Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism.”
Attkisson argues that we live in an Orwellian news environment: The major media outlets carefully filter information to make sure that journalists only present the “correct” view to their audience. Attkisson says reporters are so aware of this condition that they name it The Narrative.
I wanted to see who Attkisson reveals as the formulator of The Narrative, since she asserts there is a “Big Brother constantly revising ‘facts’ to fit the government’s ever-changing story.” In this book from Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author, I was expecting a deep dive into the corporate world to find the culprits. It turns out, Attkisson says, it’s the liberals — not the billionaires.
— Nick Lacata
Pepe Escobar is a well known conspiracy addict who continues to believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and although he pulled an earlier article containing a video hosted by Steve Bannon, featuring an interview with a disgraced wacko, Alex Jones referencing former general who claimed that the election results had been rigged for Biden by Democrat cyber thieves, he can't keep from seeing Trump as a victim and what happened in Washington last Wednesday as another 9/11. The following is what I commented on the Information Clearing House site:
Escobar apparently still believes that the election was stolen, despite court after court, including some presided over by judges appointed by Trump, considered the appeals of his lawyers totally lacking in merit. At least he is isn't using Steve Bannon and an Alex Jones quoting disgraced general claiming it was cybertheft by the Democrats, as he did in his most recent following the election. And, by the way, Trump's appointment of over 200 judges to lifetime positions who were recommended by the right wing Federalist Society could be and should be classified as a coup since his appointees will dominate the federal circuit for the next generation at the very least.
That he credits Biden, a serial liar and plagiarizer for having written The Patriot Act because Biden has claimed it would have had a genuine journalist checking into Biden's record in college about which he has been caught lying about almost everything. Since the DNC and the neocons wanted him in the White House, Sanders took such a dive in their "debate" that had it been a boxing match they would have held up both their purses.
As for Trump not getting a hearing because he has been banned by two privately owned social media sites, he has more opportunities to speak to the American public than anyone in the country and has for the past four years. Should he choose to do so, he can hold a press conference that would be covered by all the media where he wouldn't have to answer questions and he can get his fat ass on every commercial TV network or cable channel simply by picking up the phone and not just the channels he favors.
WILDFIRES HAVING DEVASTATING EFFECT on air quality in western US, study finds
Increasingly ferocious wildfires in the western US are taking a devastating toll on the region’s air quality, with wildfire smoke now accounting for half of all air pollution during the worst wildfire years, according to a new study. Scientists from Stanford University and UC San Diego have found that toxic plumes of smoke, which can blanket western states for weeks when wildfires are raging, are reversing decades of gains in cutting air pollution. While heat-related deaths have previously been predicted as the worst consequence of the climate crisis, researchers say that air pollution caused by smoke could be just as deadly.
IN JUST 12 MONTHS, Donald Trump's gone from a man heading for comfortable re-election to the worst president in US history with the lowest outgoing approval rating ever recorded. Tomorrow morning, in an act of spectacular gracelessness even by his very low standards, humiliated Trump will slink out of office and flee Washington without bothering to attend Joe Biden's inauguration or greet him for the traditional handover on the steps of the White House. I doubt the Bidens give a monkey's cuss if he's there or not. And nor should they, because Trump's presidency is ending in a blaze of shame and ignominy that threatens to contaminate anyone who comes within a hundred metres of him. As he leaves though, there remains the very important question of what should now happen to him. It's been a febrile debate that's raged intensely since the US Capitol riots on January 6 and been fuelled by the House of Representatives launching another impeachment charge at him, the first time any president has ever been impeached twice. His trial in the Senate won't take place until after he's gone, so it won't be an instrument to remove him from office. But what it can be is an instrument to hold him properly to account for what happened at the Capitol and to potentially bar him from ever running for president again. In my opinion, Trump should be convicted. — Piers Morgan
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
My daughter married a young Brit and they now have two children. At one point their oldest had a serious infection and he received excellent care. If not for the NHS the medical bills would have broken them. I’ve been an advocate for universal health care in America all my life and the point I was trying to make is that it’s becoming more and more elusive in the US.
Overall poor health is now common here. Young men who apply to join the armed forces are turned down b/c they can’t meet the physical requirements, are functionally illiterate or have a criminal record.
NAVALNY - ASSANGE
"High level officials from the United States, Britain, Germany and France, among others, have all made strident statements demanding Navalny’s release. Britain’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab called the dissident figure’s arrest “appalling”.
For all these supposedly concerned advocates of human rights there are only two words: Julian Assange.
Assange is languishing in a British torture-dungeon, persecuted by the American and British governments for the “crime” of revealing to the world the truth about illegal wars and war crimes committed by the United States and Britain.
In all of the years of Assange’s barbaric detention, there has never been a fraction of the official Western public outcry that has been expressed for Navalny. That’s because Navalny, unlike Assange, is a political asset for a Western agenda to undermine Russia."
— Finian Cunningham
by Larry Livermore
Like most people I know, I was less than thrilled when it became evident that Joe Biden was going to get the Democratic nomination for president.
That’s putting it mildly. I was depressed, disheartened, frustrated, angry, and bewildered. After several years of the worst president in history, I was sure America was ready not just for new leadership, but for a whole new direction. And what was at stake was not just the typical political back-and-forth, where a center-right party takes turns with a center-left party, but the fate of the country itself.
Many of my friends accused me of being hysterical and overwrought when, in 2016, I told them it was essential they vote for Hillary Clinton regardless of how little they liked her, that if Donald Trump managed to win the presidency, we might not get another chance to vote him out.
Thankfully my prediction didn’t come completely true, but we didn’t dodge that bullet by much. The mob of clowns, halfwits, and terrorists who stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election might have been successful if they’d been just a bit better organized, and we could be looking at a semi-permanent Trump presidency.
As I write these words we’re hours away from inaugurating – behind a wall of 25,000 troops – a new president, and millions of Americans, myself among them, are on the verge of letting themselves be cautiously optimistic. But our position is still precarious, and I don’t think anyone will feel free to fully relax until Trump is irrevocably and definitively gone.
But (to borrow a Bidenism), here’s the deal: as disappointed as I was when Bernie and Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg and half a dozen other potential candidates fell by the wayside, I’ve had to come round to accepting that not only would we have to “settle” for Biden, but that he may have been the only one who could accomplish what nearly all of us agreed had to be done: remove Trump from power.
Almost nobody was excited about Biden when the primaries began, and that didn’t change even as he knocked off one favorite after another. His march to the nomination was measured, methodical, plodding, and devoid of thrills, yet nobody seemed able to lay a glove on him. Everyone waited for him to knock himself out of contention with one of his famous gaffes, the way he’d done in previous contests, but it never happened.
By the time the general election came around, I, and millions upon millions of other Americans marched to the polls in much the same manner. It wasn’t as though we’d fallen in love with him, or imagined that we were on the threshold of a new and glorious age; we were simply fulfilling our duty. It was like doing the laundry or taking out the garbage: the kind of tasks we hardly get ecstatic about, but which will make our lives increasingly unpleasant and miserable if we don’t do them.
And yet… Biden has grown on me. Slowly, subtly, not to any great extreme, but enough so that I catch myself daring to think, “Yes, he might actually be able to do this.”
It’s an incredible redemption story, when you think about it, something we Americans have always been suckers for. Here’s a guy whose two previous runs for president ended in ignominy, and who had reached an age where you’d expect his role in public life to be mainly ornamental, and all of a sudden he’s got 81 million people – by far the largest total racked up any candidate ever – voting him into the highest office in the land.
The age thing feels particularly germane to me. I’m five years younger than him and in reasonably good shape, but no matter how many great ideas I’d like to think I have for reforming America, the idea of devoting myself to that job 24/7 for the next four or eight years is enough to make me want to lie down and take a nap. And on top of his age, Biden looks a bit frail and fragile, which makes me nervous, since I’m not fully convinced his vice-president is ready to step into his place should the need arise (though she too has been growing on me).
Does any of this matter? Ultimately, no. We rise or fall, sink or swim with Biden and Harris. There is no alternative. The revolution is not coming to save us, there will be no Bernie Sanders-led socialist putsch, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will make some glorious speeches and stir up a decent amount of controversy, but she doesn’t have nearly enough votes to enact most of her program into law.
And that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? There is a highly passionate leftist movement, but passions alone don’t win elections. If there were ever a time that the left should have been able to make great strides forward, 2020 should have been it, yet it didn’t happen. Bernie didn’t even do as well as he did in 2016. Trump actually increased his vote share in traditionally liberal strongholds like New York City, and among the ethnic minorities who had most to lose from his staying in power.
I have my theories as to why that is: New York in particular has suffered under one of its worst mayors in history. Bill de Blasio is almost Trump-like in his incompetence, laziness, and corruption, while entirely lacking Trump’s charisma. Unfortunately, he’s also (allegedly) a left-wing Democrat, so when things go wrong in New York (which they’ve been doing a lot lately), Democrats and so-called “progressive” causes get blamed, fairly or not.
Whether in New York or out in the heartland, the takeaway seems clear: Americans are not in the mood for radical change just now. If anything, they want a government that’s quiet, competent, maybe even a little boring. This practically infuriates some of my more radical friends (I have quite a few), but it is what it is. You can have a radical left turn in American governance or you can have democracy, but you can’t have both, at least not now.
There are those on the left as well as the right who are taking up arms and preparing for revolution and/or civil war, but as someone who came of age in the 1960s, when leftist gun-toters and bomb-throwers were far more numerous, I’m highly dubious that any such conflict would have a happy outcome. Our future would look more like Mad Max than a socialist workers’ paradise.
It’s unfortunate that Biden will have to devote so much of his energy to reversing the damage done by Trump before he can begin advancing his own causes, but maybe that will serve as an object lesson to those who so adamantly claimed there was “no difference” between the Democratic and Republican candidates in 2016.
There was a difference, all right, almost enough to destroy our republic. Hopefully those who are prepared to tear the Democratic Party apart over issues like Medicare For All vs. expanding and improving Obamacare will have learned that while the Democrats may not produce the exact health care program they want, the Republicans, if they regain power, will make sure tens of millions of Americans have no health care at all. Instead of Medicare For All, you could end up with Medicare For Nobody.
So whether your take on Biden is “hopeless centrist,” “could be worse,” “might not be that bad,” or “let’s give the guy a chance,” anything short of wishing him the best and hoping he can pull together the disparate strands of liberalism, centrism, and leftism into a concerted force capable of restoring some sort of decency to America is essentially a death wish. Trumpism and rabid right-wing Republicanism are not gone, they’re merely being held temporarily at bay. If Biden fails, we’re probably all going down with him.
Think you can’t find ways to cooperate with moderate and centrist Democrats? You’re not just the guy rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, you’re the guy who refuses to get into the lifeboat because you’re waiting for one with a more attractive color scheme. Biden may not be the sleekest, fastest, most attractive lifeboat, but he’s the one we’ve got. A few years from now there may be far more exciting options, but not if we – and our democracy – fail to survive the present crisis.
So I hope you’ll join me in sending your congratulations – wholehearted or grudging as they may be – to our new president, along with heaving a great sigh of relief that our long national Trumpmare has, at least for now, ended. We’ve been down so long, to paraphrase Richard Fariña, that almost anything looks like up. It’s tempting to believe things can only get better from here, but anyone born less recently than yesterday knows there’s no guarantee of that.
Hard times still lie ahead. America may yet come crashing down around our ears. But as long as there’s a chance to save it, we owe it ourselves to try. Godspeed, President Joe!
DON’T LET BIDEN ‘MAKE US THE DUPES OF OUR HOPES’
by Norman Solomon
At inauguration time, journalist I. F. Stone wrote, incoming presidents "make us the dupes of our hopes." That insight is worth pondering as Joe Biden ascends to the presidency. After four years of the real-life Trump nightmare, hope is overdue—but it's hazardous.
Stone astutely warned against taking heart from the lofty words that President Richard Nixon had just deployed in his inaugural address on January 20, 1969. With the Vietnam War raging, Stone pointed out: "It's easier to make war when you talk peace."
That's true of military war. And class war.
In 2021, class war is the elephant—and the donkey—in the national living room. Rhetoric aside, present-day Republican politicians are shameless warriors for wealthy privilege and undemocratic power that afflicts the non-rich. Democratic Party leaders aren't nearly as bad, but that's an extremely low bar; relatively few are truly champions of the working class, while most routinely run interference for corporate America, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex.
Rarely illuminated with clarity by corporate media, class war rages 24/7/365 in the real world. Every day and night, countless people are suffering and dying. Needlessly. From lack of social equity. From the absence of economic justice. From the greed and elite prerogatives cemented into the structures of politics and a wide range of institutions. From oligarchy that has gotten so extreme that three people in the United States (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett) now possess more wealth than the entire bottom half of the population.
Yes, there are some encouraging signs about where the Biden presidency is headed. The intertwined economic crisis and horrific pandemic—combined with growing grassroots progressive pressure on the Democratic Party—have already caused Biden to move leftward on a range of crucial matters. The climate emergency and festering racial injustice also require responses. We can expect important steps via presidential executive orders before the end of this month.
At the same time, if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, we should not expect Biden to be a deserter from the class war that he has helped to wage, from the top down, throughout his political career—including via NAFTA, welfare "reform," the bankruptcy bill and financial-sector deregulation.
How far Biden can be pushed in better directions will depend on how well progressives and others who want humanistic change can organize. In effect, most of mass media will encourage us merely to hope—plaintively and passively—holding onto the sort of optimism that has long been silly putty in the hands of presidents and their strategists.
Hope is a human need, and recent Democratic presidents have been whizzes at catering to it. Bill Clinton marketed himself as "the man from Hope" (the name of his first hometown). Barack Obama authored the bestseller "The Audacity of Hope" that appeared two years before he won the White House. But projecting our hopes onto carefully scripted Rorschach oratory, on Inauguration Day or any day, is usually a surrender to images over realities.
The standard Democratic Party storyline is now telling us that greatness will be in reach for the Biden administration if only Republican obstacles can be overcome. Yet what has led to so much upheaval in recent years is mostly grounded in class war. And the positive aspects of Biden's initiatives should not delude progressives into assuming that Biden is some kind of a class-war ally. For the most part, he has been the opposite.
"Progressives are not going to get anything from the new administration unless they are willing to publicly pressure the new administration," David Sirota and Andrew Perez wrote days ago. "That means progressive lawmakers are going to have to be willing to fight and it means progressive advocacy groups in Washington are going to have to be willing to prioritize results rather than White House access."
The kind of access that progressives need most of all is access to our own capacities to realistically organize and gain power. It's a constant need—hidden in plain sight, all too often camouflaged by easier hopes.
More than being a time of hope—or fatalism—the inauguration of President Joe Biden should be a time of skeptical realism and determination.
The best way to not become disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place. And the best way to win economic and social justice is to keep organizing and keep pushing. What can happen during the Biden presidency is up for grabs.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" (2006) and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State" (2007).)