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TRUMP IMPEACHMENT: SENATE VOTES TO PROCEED WITH TRIAL
Divided chamber finds process constitutional during emotional day as Democrats recount Capitol attack
by Lauren Gambino
A divided US Senate voted to proceed with the historic second impeachment trial of Donald Trump after an emotional opening day in which the prosecution argued that the former president was singularly responsible for inciting the deadly assault on the US Capitol while the defense warned that the proceedings would further cleave a divided nation.
After nearly four hours of debate in the same chamber that was invaded by pro-Trump rioters on 6 January, the Senate voted 56 to 44 on the question of whether there was a constitutional basis for putting an impeached former president on trial. Six Republicans joined all Democrats in a vote that undermined one of the central pillars of Trump’s defense.
Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office, and the only president in American history to be impeached twice. But the assault on the Capitol, an event that one House impeachment manager called the “the framers’ worst nightmare come to life”, shook the nation and the world as loyalists to the former president stormed the seat of the American government in an effort to prevent Congress from formalizing Joe Biden’s victory. Though they ultimately failed, the domestic attack left five people dead and America’s commitment to a peaceful transfer of power tarnished.
Republicans’ near-uniform opposition to holding a trial strongly suggested that there were not enough votes in the chamber to convict the de-platformed, one-term president even after he brazenly sought to overturn his election defeat with baseless claims of a stolen election. At least 17 Republicans would have to join all Democrats to find Trump guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. A conviction would allow the Senate to disqualify him from ever again holding office.
Last month, only five Republicans joined Democrats to defeat an attempt to dismiss the impeachment charge as unconstitutional. Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican of Louisiana, was the only member to switch his vote, leaving open the possibility that some lawmakers could yet change their minds.
Republicans have largely coalesced around the argument that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, thereby avoiding entirely the question of whether the former president committed an impeachable offense for his role in inciting the Capitol riot. But the view has been challenged by constitutional scholars, including the leading conservative lawyer Charles Cooper, who argued that the claims were unfounded.
Citing these scholars, writings by the nation’s framers and historical precedents, the House impeachment managers warned that allowing Trump to escape punishment would establish a “January exception” for presidents to betray their oaths of office.
House Democrats opened the trial with a chilling and dramatic video of the Capitol siege that threatened the lives of the former vice-president, Mike Pence, members of Congress, and everyone working in the building that day. The video pulled from the extensive visual recordings from rioters, reporters and witnesses to create a reel juxtaposing the president’s incendiary speech to supporters at a rally near the White House with scenes of mayhem and violence on Capitol Hill. There, Trump encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol to make their voices heard before lawmakers certified Biden’s victory.
The cries and chants from the video echoed through the chamber, where just over a month ago rioters sat in the dais and swung from the balcony. It concluded with a tweet from Trump, sent only moments after the building was secured on 6 January: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our constitution? That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” the congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the leader of the House Democrats prosecuting the case, told the silent chamber, after playing the video. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing.”
In their rebuttal, Trump’s defense team argued that the impeachment trial was not only unconstitutional but would “open up new and bigger wounds across the nation”.
Accusing Democrats of abuse of power, Trump’s lawyer David Schoen said the party was fueled by their “hatred” of Trump and their determination to see him impeached. He played a video compilation of Democratic politicians calling for Trump’s impeachment as early as 2017.
“This trial will tear this country apart, perhaps like we have only seen once before in American history,” he said, warning: “If these proceedings go forward, everyone will look bad.”
The trial will resume on Wednesday with the main arguments over the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection”. Prosecutors have promised to present new evidence to prove that Trump was “singularly and directly responsible” for the Capitol attack.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that the president’s claims of voter fraud and his fiery rhetoric to the crowd on 6 January were figures of speech protected under the first amendment. In pre-trial briefings, they emphasized his instruction that the crowd march “peacefully” to the Capitol.
Trump, who left Washington for his Mar-a-Lago resort on the day of Biden’s inauguration, has refused a request by Democrats to testify voluntarily at his trial. It appears unlikely that the House managers will call witnesses, appealing instead to the collective memories of the senators who lived through harrowing afternoon.
Concluding the Democrats’ argument for the day, Raskin offered an emotional and deeply personal account of his experience that day. Still grieving the loss of his son, who had died by suicide just days before, the former constitutional law professor brought his family to work with him, eager for them to witness “this historic event - the peaceful transfer of power in America”.
When the riot erupted, they were separated. His daughter and son-in-law hid in an office, fearing for their lives, Raskin recalled, his voice quivering. When it was all over and they were reunited, his daughter said she never wanted to return to the Capitol, a place known as the People’s House.
“Senators, this cannot be our future,” he said through tears. “This cannot be the future of America.”
MENDO’S VACCINATION CLUSTER-BLEE
(From Tuesday Morning’s Supervisors meeting)
by Mark Scaramella
Supervisor Ted Williams asked if there was “general board support” for “publishing on a daily basis how many vaccines had taken place by provider.” His colleagues all agreed.
County Budget Officer/Deputy CEO Darcie Antle, however, did not:
“We are establishing a connection with our clinic providers and we can certainly work with them to get that data. It's not going to be this week but it is a goal that we can do. That's the goal of the state once they moved to this third-party administrator. If we can get our data lining up and matching with them and making sure that our clinic providers are reporting into ‘TERIS’ (?) -- We are reporting into ‘TERIS’ then we should be able to get to that report as well as "vaccine finder" which is another software that the state has out there for us to enter into the data inventory but it has not been distributed out to our clinics. We began working with them yesterday to get them signed up into Pathfinder (?). But again we can manage what you are talking about. But give us a few weeks and we will get there. Maybe it will not be every day, but we can do it, you know, three times a week or something to that effect.”
Williams volunteered to simply call the clinics and hospitals and ask how many they vaccinated and provide that easily obtainable info to Public Health. “A few weeks is a long time,” said Williams. “We have 90-year-olds driving across the county in some cases three or four hours and waiting in line because there is a panic about they’re not going to get a vaccine. Just being able to show the data that we are increasing [vaccinations] and we are applying everything we get from the state and the situation will only get better— I think it will reduce some of that stress. I would rather not wait a few weeks. I don't want to put undue pressure on staff, I know there is a lot of number one priorities and this may not be the top number one priority. But I'd be willing to take it on.”
Supervisor McGourty agreed with letting Williams do it by himself, “I like the idea of a daily update but I don't want our staff to be distracted or stressed.” (How a dozen phone calls a day might “stress” the poor dears was not discussed.)
Williams accepted the task, whatever it turns out to be: “OK.”
Supervisor John Haschak then asked a question many Mendolanders have asked: “With all this talk about ‘sign up genius’ and ‘my turn’ and ‘vaccine finder’ and ‘vaccinate Mendo,’ I hear people asking, What do I do? Is there a phone number? What's the simplest way to sign up for a vaccine?”
Mendocino County’s high-paid Public Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren launched into another of his rambling non-answers: “Your group will contact you and we are keeping track and they are telling the vaccine events for the people coming in so that for example when it was teachers, the schools put together lists and prioritized them whether it was going to be face-to-face teachers for the younger people first versus maintenance people were all along. But they gave us those lists. It's happening with other workgroups as well. Some of the agricultural employers are also doing that. Where it begins to break down is over 75 age groups. We are trying to get going, I think it is working, the Adventist Hospital and the various clinics can search their own electronic medical records and pull out lists of people that may be eligible and they would call them in and have them come to their events which happen pretty regularly. The exception is those people who are patients of physicians who don't distribute the vaccine and don't intend to distribute the vaccine. We have encouraged them to put their lists together and send them over to Adventist Health clinic and they have agreed to invite them to their clinic. It takes a little bit of time to get those list together. If we have an open clinic or an open event and people just stream in there will be a lot of disappointment. if it’s an event at the fairgrounds elderly people are going to have a problem getting there and getting across to the appropriate place. We are trying to provide those people who are eligible for the vaccine by virtue of their age and those go to their medical providers and medical providers should be calling them in when they are eligible and those who are at risk and are eligible because of their employment, their employers will bring them in. So that's how we are trying to do it. There is a call center line if all else fails — not if all else fails but it's 472-2663. but it's probably best for folks to call their provider and be patient — if they are members, or if their providers are not clinics or the Adventist health clinics and hospitals -- those entities will be calling up their patients who qualify and they are getting that off of their electronic medical records.”
Instead of saying, “That’s not an answer, Doctor,” Supervisor Haschak replied, “Ok.”
Anna Stockel, public comment: “The disclosure of information is very frustrating. I am happy to hear what was discussed in the meeting but not with the result. The board of supervisors complained endlessly about the state not disclosing data but quite frankly Mendocino County is not doing much better. I tune into these meetings to get more information. I find it disappointing that Dr. Coren's report is straight out of the national news and he never has a professionally formatted report with graphics. It seems like he is just winging it every meeting. I am not a doctor, but I could have given the same report. I also don't understand why the CEO or Dr. Coren are not on the phone trying to get vaccines to Mendocino County. It doesn't seem like he has any involvement whatsoever. Supervisor Williams is and has been carrying most of the load on Facebook. He hit the nail on the head with his earlier comment on this. We all appreciate his efforts. But it is still difficult to get answers to specific questions. I almost fell over listening to this meeting and hearing that daily updates to the public would be a distraction to staff. I don't know what you're thinking! I have seen questions from people in their 70s and older who don't know how to get vaccines going unanswered. This seems to be a job for Mendocino County Public Health. Why did they not disclose the Fort Bragg restaurant outbreaks for many days until they had already been dealt with and the restaurants were reopened? We needed to hear that information as soon as you heard it. Vaccination information should be available to us in the same format as the graphic that come out with the patient data every day. We need a stacked bar graph to see who is getting vaccinations and whether they've had one or two and by what demographic. We want to see high risk and front-line workers, but we also want to see the demographics that are keeping us in the purple tier and keeping local Mendocino business owners closed and keeping our students out of school. And a last question I can't get answered: How is all this information being given to the people who don't have access to Zoom and Facebook and the Internet? I can't get answers to that either. It's been a exercise in frustration trying to find out what's going on.”
There were then a few moments of silence, perhaps in inadvertent tribute to prior boards from the 50s and 60s who would have demanded proper answers to pertinent questions about an ongoing crisis. Then more silence, and more silence…
Finally the Board Clerk announced: “This concludes public comment for this item.”
Board Chair/Supervisor Dan Gjerde, without even the usual minimal courtesy of “thank you for your comment,” chirped up with, “Okay! All right! Well, that takes us to item 5d.” None of the other Supervisors said a word.
SHULTZ WIDOW, FAMILY save Mendocino County old-growth redwood forest in $24.7 million deal
by Guy Kovner
San Francisco socialite and civic leader Charlotte Mailliard Shultz and her family have agreed to a $24.7 million deal protecting a nearly 15,000-acre ranch that includes old-growth redwood forests in southern Mendocino County.
The Mailliard Ranch, which contains the largest coast redwood forest left in private family hands, lies west of Highway 128 in the Anderson Valley between Yorkville and Boonville and has been owned by the Mailliards since 1925.
Save the Redwoods League, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that has been protecting redwood forests since 1918, announced the deal Tuesday securing three conservation easements which prevent subdivision and development of the entire 14,838-acre property, regardless of future ownership.
Calling Mailliard Ranch “an exquisite place,” league president Sam Hodder said in a statement that its protection had been a “decadeslong priority” for his organization, which has protected more than 216,000 acres of forest in 66 state, national and local parks and preserves.
The Mailliard family retains ownership of the land and will be allowed to continue selective timber harvesting of second-growth trees.
“The old growth built San Francisco twice, so there isn’t a lot of redwood — true old growth — left in the area,” Larry Mailliard, general partner of the ranch, said in the statement.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
PUT DOWN THE BROOM, ARTEMIO
On February 6th at about 7:55 PM, Ukiah Police Officers were dispatched to Motel 6, located at 1208 S. State St., regarding a male subject who was disturbing patrons at the motel and who refused to leave the property. A UPD Officer arrived and was directed to the location of the male subject. The Officer contacted the male, who was actively sweeping the dirt using a broom with a broken metal handle. The male was subsequently identified as Artemio Ortega-Reyes. The Officer observed Ortega-Reyes displayed symptoms of being under the influence of a stimulant. Ortega-Reyes was uncooperative, argumentative and refused to put down the broom. The Officer removed the broom from Ortega-Reyes’ possession and attempted to determine why he was on the property. Ortega-Reyes continued to be argumentative and follow the Officer’s lawful directions. Ortega-Reyes became confrontational and assumed a fighting stance. For officer safety reasons, the Officer attempted to detain Ortega-Reyes. Ortega-Reyes actively resisted the Officer. The Officer radioed for additional officers to assist, while attempting to subdue Ortega-Reyes. During the altercation the initial Officer suffered a broken hand and another Officer sustained an injury as well. Ortega-Reyes was ultimately taken into custody and a subsequent search of his pockets revealed suspected methamphetamine and a pipe used for smoking methamphetamine.
EMS arrived at the scene to access Ortega-Reyes’ injuries as well as the Officers’ injuries. Ortega-Reyes was treated at UVAH for minor injuries and was later booked at the MCSO Jail for the above-mentioned violations. Both Officers were also treated and released from UVAH.
The Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) Mission Is A Needed Public Value
This is in response to Sakina Bush in the February 9 AVA regarding management of JDSF.
JDSF is a 50 thousand acre State forest between Fort Bragg, and Willits. We are blessed to have this unique working forest in our county. The challenge in all our forests today is how to manage these forests to accommodate numerous interests.
The welcomed accommodation of people using the forest for recreation is another vital and worthy challenge. There are more varied opportunities for outdoor recreation on JDSF, including the use of trails, than anywhere else in Mendocino County, maybe Northern California. The logging is done carefully, and sustainably in a way to attempt to accommodate everyone. Often trails for horse riding, biking, and hiking are on logging skid trails, and haul roads. The JDSF mission is a difficult one, but in my view very possible, particularly if all forest users work together. Aesthetics, particularly where there is high recreational use, is an ongoing and important challenge. The JDSF model, and demonstration of forest management is our future.
The timber harvesting provides distinctive opportunities to manage fire risk that all landowners, and land managers can learn from. There is a need for experienced staffing, road maintenance, policing, outreach, etc. Timber sale income pays for that, and is the sole source of revenue to cover on going management expenses. We should be grateful for that.
I am a member of the California Board Of Forestry appointed Jackson Advisory Group (JAG). The JAG is advisory only. We are a diverse group that represents small forest landowners, industrial forest landowners, loggers, foresters, fish and wildlife interests, academics, recreational interests, and environmentalists. Our primary mission is to advise on the consistency of proposed harvesting with the JDSF management plan, and on other issues when we are asked to. The management plan accommodates a diverse group of interests represented by the people appointed to the JAG. We operate under the Brown Act, and generally make recommendations based on the consensus of the group. The public is notified of our meetings, is welcome to attend, go out in the field, provide input, and participate in discussion. The interested public's input on how to make management better is always welcomed. This is a unique approach to managing a public forest. We should be grateful and proud.
All the issues brought up by Ms. Bush, and more, have been discussed at JAG meetings, and will be discussed in the future. There are experts on staff at JDSF, or work doing research at JDSF, or are on the JAG that can speak with knowledge on these issues.
We have a long way to go in improving forest management, and JDSF is a critical part of that important journey. What JDSF is doing is new, and better methods of forest management are continually being tried, and evaluated. Our future in forestry is necessarily one that meets the interests of wood fiber consumers, local economies, recreation, fire risk, and the environment. By working together, we can do this, and make our forests a better place for everyone.
AFTER NEARLY an hour of irrelevant, stumbling, beside-the-point, unfocused, and downright cringing discussion, the Supervisors voted 3-2 to continue Mrs. Barney's contract, Gjerde and Williams, capitulating to the cadre of hysterics and crackpots in their districts, dissenting. (Not surprised at Silent Dan's vote but I thought Williams had more backbone than he demonstrated today. I can't remember the Supervisors ever fine-combing a contract, and never one this small.)
IT WAS A DEPRESSING HOUR. The contract for 15-17 thousand annual dollars for Liz Barney to function as an occasional public info officer for the Sheriff's Department managed to slur the otherwise perfect work record of Mrs. Barney until County Counsel Christian Curtis, whose wandering opinions could be a stand-in act for Professor Irwin Corey, finally put it bluntly: "We don't consider political speech a factor in awarding contracts."
THAT'S RIGHT, and Mrs. Barney's private political opinions are her own. If they impinge on her job performance that would be grounds to not consider her for public work. But there is no evidence she's been other than a model employee, scrupulously keeping her political opinions to herself.
THIS WAS ALWAYS a clearcut matter of free speech. Is a person entitled to her opinions unrelated to her work? Of course. Why is this even up for debate? Answer: Because a handful of “liberal” bigots made Mrs. Barney an issue after one of their many snoops broke into Mrs. Barney's Parler account to find opinions contrary to their opinions. The snoops were especially distressed, they claimed, by a Parler opinion that masking was ineffective in containing covid. Science says masking is effective, but millions of Americans believe otherwise, just as delusional as local libs who think the Democratic National Committee is a liberal entity.
MARK SPRINKLE, once upon a time of Ukiah where he made his way as a truck driver, has been in state prison for a quarter century, which most people who know his story would say is out of all proportion to the offense he was convicted of — 90 seconds of the sexual touching of three naked girls, all under age, who'd disrobed in his car as part prank and, I think, part revenge scheme orchestrated by Sprinkle's ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend's voluptuous teenage daughter was the lead prankster. The Pope himself could not have resisted this “child's” attractions.
SPRINKLE'S EX was a kind of tweeker gang girl in Ukiah's thriving tweeker community. When Sprinkle refused to marry her… Well, hell hath no fury etc. and etc. It was during a recorded call from the County Jail that Sprinkle admitted he'd touched mom's virginal daughter and her two friends, one of them a ten-year-old the two older girls were supposedly baby sitting. Mom triumphantly ran to the cops with her recording, and the cops, jubilant they'd nailed a man they regarded as an ongoing irritant, charged Sprinkle as a chomo. A jury of his non-peers duly convicted Sprinkle who'd turned down an offer of 3-5.
I'VE READ the transcript of that incriminating phone call and I'd say it was inconclusive. Did Sprinkle touch the girls? For years, even when it cost him parole, he said he hadn't. Guy keeps himself in prison when all he has to do is issue the slobbery remorse that will free him? Maybe he didn't do a minute and a half of nubile breast checks. But when Sprink finally said he did touch the girls the parole board said he was insincere.
A FEW YEARS AGO, I talked with DA Eyster about the Sprinkle case. Mendo is unique in that its top law enforcement people are accessible, including the top-top guy, the DA. Eyster quickly produced a thick file labeled “Sprinkle,” going on to say that Sprinkle was a chomo. I argued he obviously wasn't and isn't a chomo in the lurk-around-the-children's-playground sense, that his conviction was for a one-off episode, not a pattern or history of pervery. Eyster subsequently dispatched an assistant DA to Sprink's parole hearing to argue against his release, the assistant DA's trip to Chino conveniently coinciding with an expenses paid rendezvous with his wife at a fancy foothills b&b. Hey, it's Mendo, Jake.
BUT SPRINKLE has again been turned down for parole, just after also being slam-dunked by Mendo Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield, the latter slamming the petitioner with no indication she knew anything at all about his case, and cared less that she was dooming a now 60-year-old man to another five years sleeping in a lower bunk at Chino State Prison.
ROBERT C. SMITH, of the Mendo Public Defender's Office, wrote what seems to me a brilliantly irrefutable appeal for Sprinkle, but all for naught.
DON'T GET ME STARTED on the appellate courts, but in my experience with the Frisco branch, those sumbitches should be driven naked into the Pacific. The decisions I've read outta there, including one of mine, wouldn't pass an elementary logic class, although these frauds scatter a lot of bullshit legal citations that make it appear they've done some research. Anybody with even residual humanity who looks at the American justice system comes away shocked. Sprinkle's only one of thousands of gross injustices, but for now he's Mendo's Number One vic.
WHICH REMINDS ME: You know how at election time there'll be fifty of these loafing appellate court bastards up for automatic re-election? Without a word who they are or what their records are? In California they're almost all "liberal" appointees out of the Democrat Party. Vote NO on all of them.
AVA, Feb. 2012
MENDOCINO COUNTY DA David Eyster recently dispatched his ace prosecutor, Paul Sequiera, to Mule Creek State Prison for a parole hearing, Mark Sprinkle's parole hearing. Eyster seems to think that Sprinkle is too dangerous to be let out of prison after 16 years on a “child molest” conviction, the facts of which have been exhaustively discussed in this newspaper. Sequiera's presentation included a brand new accusation; that years ago, when Sprinkle was still in the Mendocino County Jail, he had tried to find someone to murder his prosecutor, Beth Norman. Ms. Norman, who is still with the DA's office, had offered Sprinkle 3-5 if he would plead guilty. He refused to plead and, as it always does, the local justice system maxed Sprinkle out big time. Sequiera, incidentally, pulling out all the stops, told the parole board that Norman herself would have attended the hearing but she was afraid for her life! Pure bullpucky that one. After all these years as a prosecutor she's suddenly afraid? I think it's more likely that she still hates the guy on such a visceral, unreasoning level she's managed to retroactively traumatize herself. Ms. Norman doesn't strike me as a person afraid of much of anything, and she's certainly prosecuted persons far more dangerous than Sprinkle, a non-violent offender. Sprinkle still insists he is innocent, and boy o boy has he paid for his insistence because he has again been denied parole, this time for five years before he can even apply for another hearing. Sprinkle's crime? Three girls suddenly took their clothes off in his car. Sprinkle soon commenced a busy 90 seconds of gyno-explorations. That was the essential allegation Ms. Norman took to a jury, and that was the allegation the girls themselves testified to in court. Two of the girls were, to put it mildly, sexually precocious. The third girl was a ten-year-old the other two were supposedly babysitting. The leader of the sudden disrobe was, in effect, Sprinkle's step-daughter. Sprinkle had been engaged to her mother, a heavy drug user with a long history of unsustained child molest accusations against the serial men in her turbulent life. There is every indication that Mom, bitter because Sprinkle had wisely refused to marry her, put her daughter up to entrapping Sprinkle. That daughter, Natasha, at the time of the alleged molest, had just turned 14. With the body of a 20-year-old pole dancer, and regularly seen late at night at the truck stop north of Ukiah, Natasha was not sexually inexperienced. The afternoon of the alleged molest, Natasha had shouted, “Let's race!” and soon all three girls were nude in Sprinkle's car west of Ukiah on the old Masonite Road. The girls subsequently testified that they had indeed voluntarily disrobed, and that Sprinkle had not asked them to take their clothes off or in any way coerced them into doing it. What ensued, of course, is the core of the dispute that got Sprinkle a total of 45-years-to-life. The girls said Sprinkle “touched their privates.” One of them referred to her reproductive organs as “my pubes.” That was it. No “full body penetration,” in the charming phrase of law enforcement, no violence, no threats of violence. Sprinkle has always insisted he didn't even do the 90 seconds which has won him life in prison, and this guy is a child molester in the grand tradition of the crime? The guy stalking the schoolyard? The internet porn perv? Humbert-Humbert? Two of Sprinkle's jurors signed affidavits that if they'd known Sprinkle was going to get 45 years for this extremely dubious crime, they would not have found him guilty. Sprinkle had been in more than his share of trouble before the alleged molest. He was one of these guys who'd drive by the cops and flip them off, and he was a fixture in the Ukiah area's tweeker, lowlife community. Local cops were jubilant at his disproportionate sentence for the alleged molest. Whatever his after-hours life, Sprinkle had always been employed and, except for his drug adventures and low-intensity crimes — he set a dumpster on fire and was convicted of arson — he'd always been a contributing citizen as a long-haul truck driver. In February of 2012, Mark Sprinkle is no longer a young man. His drug days are, presumably, behind him. He has not gotten in trouble in prison where his record has been almost perfect. He's now 52 years old and in poor health, often hospitalized for severe asthma attacks. There is no opposition to Sprinkle's release from his alleged victims who, incidentally, cannot be found, at least by me and I've looked, and looked hard. Why our DA would go out of his way to keep this man in prison is absolutely mystifying. Sprinkle's continued incarceration is certainly not in the public interest to pay to keep in prison at a time when truly dangerous people are being released every day, many of them right here in Mendocino County. In fact, under the new state sentencing guidelines, persons locally convicted of bad stuff up to and including felony assaults, will do their time in the leisurely confines of the Mendocino County Jail.
From Mark Sprinkle in June of 2012
Deputy DA Beth Norman knows as well as I do that the lies keep coming in order for a few people who, for personal reasons, feel Mark Sprinkle must die in prison. To be honest, I feel as though I was forcibly retired at the age of 35 with full (if unpleasant) benefits. There are a large number of old men in here with me who feel the same way. For all of you taxpayers who continue to pay for this miscarriage of justice, my incarceration to date has cost you well over $1 million with no end in sight simply to satisfy a couple of vindictive women from my past. I have also heard about DA Sequiera’s comfort and pleasure at a very nice Bed & Breakfast in the foothills to produce lies at my most recent Board hearing. There are tax dollars hard at work; Mendocino County has abundant funding to pay for a little revenge.
FULL STORY: argonaut360.com/argonaut/ArgonautJUNE2012websm.pdf [Scroll down to: “A Man, A Pontiac And Three Naked Girls”]
Short Version: Off the Record (Dec. 19, 2018) [Scroll down to Sprinkle items]
AV VILLAGE ZOOM BOOK CONVERSATION: “Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Harari
This Wednesday February 10th, 3 PM
The book is still Yuval Harari's book “Lessons for the 21st Century” and we will read Part II, pages 85-157. If you are interested please contact Lauren for more details email@example.com
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 434 337 6734
One tap mobile: +16699009128,,4343376734#,,,,,,0#,,490940# US (San Jose)
Dial by your location: +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 434 337 6734
Need help navigating Medicare Healthcare? There are Free weekly unbiased webinars (usually on Wednesdays at 9:30 am) with Senior Advocacy Services: https://senioradvocacyservices.org
Click here for the calendar and sign up info for upcoming Webinars (also on our calendar): https://senioradvocacyservices.org/event-calendar-public/
They will also be doing a special presentation geared to our area on Monday, March 8th - click here for details: https://andersonvalley.helpfulvillage.com/events/1300
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 9, 2021
JACKIE AMASON JR., Chino/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, paraphernalia, more than an ounce of pot.
MCCLEAN BEYER, Garberville/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
CODY MARTIN, Ukiah. Sexual penetration, foreign object, etc., victim unaware of nature of act.
MICHELLE PERRY, Lakeport/Ukiah. Battery on peace officer, resisting.
CHERRI ROBERTS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
KEVIN SHAW, U(kiah. Domestic battery, damaging communications device, probation revocation.
THE HIGH SPEED RAIL BOONDOGGLE
by Randal O’Toole
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg wants to make the United States the “global leader” in high-speed rail. That’s like wanting to be the world leader in electric typewriters, rotary telephones, or steam locomotives, all technologies that were once revolutionary but are functionally obsolete today.
High-speed trains, in particular, were rendered obsolete in 1958, when Boeing introduced the 707 jetliner, which was twice as fast as the fastest trains today.
Slower than flying, less convenient than driving, and far more expensive than either one.
Aside from speed, what makes high-speed rail obsolete is its high cost. Unlike airlines, which don’t require much infrastructure other than landing fields, high-speed trains require huge amounts of infrastructure that must be built and maintained to extremely precise standards.
That’s why airfares averaged just 14 cents per passenger-mile in 2019, whereas fares on Amtrak’s high-speed Acela averaged more than 90 cents per passenger-mile.
Highways require infrastructure but not this level of precision. While a four-lane freeway costs about $10 million to $20 million a mile, California ended up spending $100 million a mile building its abortive high-speed rail line on flat ground, and it predicted building in hilly territory would cost at least $170 million per mile.
In 2009, President Obama proposed that the United States build 8,600 miles of high-speed rail lines in six disconnected networks in the Northeast, South, Florida, Midwest, California, and the Pacific Northwest.
Without ever asking how much this would cost, Congress gave Obama $10.1 billion, which (after adding $1.4 billion of other funds) Obama passed on to the states. Except in California, no one expected that these funds would produce 150-mile-per-hour bullet trains, but they were supposed to increase frequencies and speeds in ten different corridors.
Now, more than ten years later, what has happened with those projects? One corridor saw frequencies increase by two trains a day. That corridor and two others saw speeds increase by an average of 2 miles per hour. Three other corridors actually saw speeds decline by an average of 1 mile per hour. Four corridors saw no changes at all. The one corridor that saw both frequencies and speeds increase also saw ridership decline by 12 percent.
Effectively, the $11.5 billion was all wasted.
We now know, based on California’s experience, that constructing true high-speed rail in all of Obama’s 8,600 route miles would have cost well over $1 trillion. Unlike the 48,000-mile Interstate Highway System, which cost about half a trillion in today’s dollars but was paid for entirely out of highway user fees, none of the cost of building high-speed rail lines would ever be covered by rail fares. In fact, fares won’t even cover operating costs on most if not all proposed routes.
Rail advocates want to ignore the dollar costs and instead argue that we should have high-speed trains because they are climate friendly. But building high-speed rail releases thousands of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for every mile.
Even if operating the trains produced fewer emissions than planes, and there’s no guarantee that it would, it would take decades to save enough to make up for the construction cost—and the rail lines must be effectively rebuilt, releasing more carbon dioxide, every 20 to 30 years.
China has built 22,000 miles of high-speed rail lines and that construction has helped put China’s state railway nearly $850 billion in debt.
Since this debt is unsustainable and many of the high-speed rail lines, says a Chinese transportation economist, are “bleeding red ink,” the country has slowed its construction of new lines....
Far from getting anyone out of cars or planes, both air travel and highway travel are growing much faster than rail travel in China.... (emphasis added)
At this point further development isn’t being driven by passenger demand or climate goals, but Beijing’s addiction to using carbon-intensive infrastructure to stimulate a rapidly slowing economy. Countries like the U.S. and U.K. that have shown a chronic inability to get high-speed rail built have much to learn from China’s ambition and execution — but China could learn from the more cautious approach to megaprojects seen elsewhere. Further building out the network at this point will prove a costly boondoggle.
AN HONORABLE LEGACY
I just read the news that the Fireman’s Fund buildings and property have been sold.
After my graduation from University of California, Berkeley I got my first job at the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. headquarters in San Francisco. I was very impressed with the company’s history that started in 1863 in San Francisco — particularly the management and the people I met.
At the time, I believe it was the only major company in America that started on the West Coast before spreading to the East Coast, Canada and internationally.
What impressed me most were stories of the company’s reaction immediately after the earthquake in 1906, as well as the great fire that burned out its main office and destroyed all documents. Officials set up tables on Market Street and started paying anyone who claimed to have had insurance — even if fire destroyed the house and insurance documentation.
No one could dare imagine a process like that working today. It demanded real integrity from all parties involved. This unique integrity and caring for customers and employees existed during all my career with the company.
It once insured a portion of the Golden Gate Bridge. While I was its member, I recall that it provided insurance for those building the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. It was also one of the major insurers for Hollywood.
It was a great company which lost its independence when it was acquired by American Express in 1968.
JOAN DIDION in 1970 on a particular kind of American looniness that sounds awfully familiar these days. She was talking to the leader of an apocalyptic earthquake cult:
"…secret frontiersmen who walk around right in the ganglia of the fantastic electronic pulsing that is life in the United States and continue to receive information only through the most tenuous chains of rumor, hearsay, haphazard trickledown. In the social conventions by which we live there is no category for people like Brother Theobold...most of whom are young and white and nominally literate; they are neither the possessors nor the disposessed. They participate in the national anxieties only through a glass darkly."
…and (after watching seven biker movies in a row):
"I suppose I kept going to these movies because there on the screen was some news I was not getting from The New York Times. I began to think I was seeing ideograms of the future. To watch a bike(r) movie is finally to apprehend the extent to which the toleration of small irritations is no longer a trait much admired in America, the extent to which a nonexistent frustration threshold is seen not as psychopathic, but as a 'right'."
"…maybe you need to have sat in a lot of drive-ins yourself, to have gone to school with boys who majored in shop and worked in gas stations and later held them up...who grew up absurd in the West and Southwest, children whose whole lives are an obscure grudge against a world they think they never made. These children are, increasingly, everywhere, and their style is that of an entire generation."
- Joan Didion, 'Notes Toward A Dreampolitic,' 1970
JEFF BLANKFORT: Paul Robeson, who was a friend of my parents, has been one of the most significant inspirations in my political life. One of my unforgettable childhood memories was of him coming into our bedrooms and singing lullabies to both my sister and I before we went to sleep.
THE NFL PATTED ITSELF on the back with a spot bragging that the league is donating $250 million “to combat systemic racism.” And that doesn’t even count the millions it paid to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid for keeping them unemployed.
If you don’t think it’s racism that’s keeping Kaepernick out of The League, tell me what you think would have happened to Brady had he taken a knee in protest.
Kaepernick and Reid sat out this season, but Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown suited up and were covered in glory in the National Football League of Second Chances.
And the 49ers announced they have re-signed Josh Rosen, whose resume now includes this: 1,000th washed-up quarterback to sign an NFL contract since Kaepernick “retired.” (Scott Ostler, SF Chron)
“YOU MUST KNOW that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Doc – “Wealthy towns with good schools, by contrast, have people who cannot afford to go against the grain for social reasons.”
And are they not the communities that have the most influence?
We walk around outside un-masked freely in my area too, but go into a store? Not so much. I forgot my mask once walking into the grocery store and made it all the way back to the milk section before people started staring at me. I realized why and hurried back to my car to grab it. That’s the social reasons you’re talking about. And you’re right.
And even the impoverished and backwoods folks have their own versions of that need for social acceptance. The game is too far along for a great awakening where, say, suddenly it’s announced that enough people are vaccinated and people can choose to live freely again.
I wish everyone had the resources to move to another state if it fit them better…but upwards of 40% of the workforce is now either forced onto the dole or now under-employed, when they used to be able to think past next month’s bills.
PAPERING OVER THE ROT
by Chris Hedges
The death spiral of the American Empire will not be halted with civility. It will not be halted with the 42 executive orders signed by Joe Biden, however welcome many are, especially since they can, with a new chief executive, be immediately revoked. It will not be halted by removing Donald Trump, and the crackpot conspiracy theorists, Christian fascists and racists who support him, from social media. It will not be halted by locking up the Proud Boys and the clueless protestors who stormed the Congress on January 6 and took selfies in Mike Pence’s Senate chair. It will not be halted by restoring the frayed alliances with our European allies or rejoining the World Health Organization or the Paris Climate Agreement. All of these measures are window dressing, masking the root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed. The longer wealth is funneled upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal, who put Biden into office and whose interests he assiduously serves, we are doomed.
Once an oligarchy seizes power, deforming governing institutions to exclusively serve their narrow interests and turning the citizenry into serfs, there are only two options, as Aristotle pointed out — tyranny or revolution. The staggering concentration of wealth and obscene avarice of the very rich now dwarfs the hedonism and excesses of the world’s most heinous despots and wealthiest capitalists of the past. In 2015, shortly before he died, Forbes estimated David Rockefeller’s net worth was $3 billion. The Shah of Iran looted an estimated $1 billion from his country. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos amassed between $5 and $10 billion. And the former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was worth about a billion. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are each at $180 billion.
The new wealth comes from a cartel capitalism far more concentrated and far more criminal than any of the cartels built by the old robber barons of the 19th century. It was made possible by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton who, in exchange for corporate money to fund their campaigns and later Clinton’s foundation and post-presidency opulent lifestyle, abolished the regulations that once protected the citizenry from the worst forms of monopoly exploitation. The demolishing of regulations made possible the largest upwards transference of wealth in American history. Whatever you say about Trump, he at least initiated moves to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other Silicon Valley monopolists, none of which will happen under Biden, whose campaign these corporations bankrolled. And that has to be one of the reasons these digital platforms disappeared Trump from social media.
The new robber barons peddle the classless identity politics of the Democratic Party to deflect attention from their stranglehold on wealth and power, as well as their exploitation of workers, especially those that make their products overseas. Corporations such as Walmart have 80 percent of their suppliers in China. These corporations are full partners in China’s state-controlled capitalism and suppression of basic labor rights and wages, where most Chinese workers make less than $350 a month and toil in Dickensian conditions.
There is no political will among the ruling elites to defend the rights of Amazon workers who are aggressively blocked by the company, the country’s second largest employer, from forming unions, work all night in drafty, COVID-19-infested warehouses or deliver packages for $15 an hour, which leaves thousands of Amazon workers dependent on food stamps. Likewise, this is no political will among the elites to defend the rights of workers in China, often forced to work 100 hours of overtime a month in sweatshops for as little as $2 or $3 an hour.
History has repeatedly illustrated the dire consequences of extreme social inequality. It foments revolutionary ferment, which can come from the left or the right. Either a leftwing populism that smashes oligarchic power takes control or its counterfeit, a rightwing populism, built on the poisoned solidarity of hate, racism, vengeance and violence — and bankrolled by the hated oligarchs that use it as a front to solidify tyranny. We are barreling towards the latter.
The soaring levels of social inequality are laid out in stark statistics that are reflected back to us in the pain, despair and suffering afflicting perhaps 70 percent of the US public. The wealth of US billionaires has increased to over $1.1 trillion since mid-March 2020, when the pandemic began to ravage the country, a nearly 40 percent leap during the past 10 months. The total wealth of America’s 660 billionaires, $4.1 trillion, is two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans. An additional eight million Americans were recently classified as “newly poor” as the poverty rate increased 2.4 percentage points from June to December 2020. It is now at 11.8 percent, although many economists argue that the official poverty rate of $26,500 for a family of four masks the fact that perhaps half the country lives in real poverty.
The official poverty rate for Blacks has climbed 5.4 percent to 23.6 percent just between June and December, but again is probably at least twice that number. Blacks, along with Hispanic and Native American people, are also dying from COVID-19 at almost three times the rate of white people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, despite the fact that many Blacks work in the health care industry they are being inoculated at percentages far below those of whites. In Maryland, for example, Black people make up 30 percent of the population and 40 percent of the health care industry yet account for just 16 percent of those who have been vaccinated. Since the beginning of the pandemic, landlords have filed more than 227,000 evictions in just the 27 cities in five states that the Princeton Eviction Lab tracks — and that is with a national eviction moratorium. Twelve million renters, who owe an average of $5,600 in back rent and utilities, now face being thrown out of their homes. By the end of 2020 there were an estimated 50 million food-insecure Americans, up from 35 million in 2019. One in four households with children, according to a report from Feeding America, experienced food insecurity in 2020.
The response by the ruling oligarchs is the equivalent of tossing coins from their gilded carriages to the despised masses. The Democrats have proposed raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15, but not until 2025. Biden has actually called for reducing the proposed third stimulus check — a $1,200 check for eligible adults was issued last spring and a $600 per person check was issued earlier this month — from $2,000 to $1,400. The oligarchs have bristled at even these meager responses. Larry Summers, Clinton’s treasury secretary who orchestrated the Wall Street bailout in 2008, called the $2,000 checks — crumbs compared to the trillions handed to Wall Street speculators —- a “serious mistake.” Elon Musk, now one of the two richest humans, said that a second “government stimulus package is not in the best interests of the people.”
The response by a morally bankrupt ruling class are symbolic, given that we are enduring the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and an estimated one-third of all Americans are struggling to pay their bills. It illustrates how woefully disconnected the elites are from the lives of those they dominate.
Unless families receive regular monthly payments of at least $2,000 until the pandemic ends; unless the country has access to universal health care, especially during a national health crisis; unless the nation radically pivots from fossil fuels to halt the looming ecocide; unless the crippling debts that are draining the bank accounts of American families are reduced or forgiven; unless there is an unassailable moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; and unless manufacturers at home and overseas are forced through stringent trade agreements and labor laws to pay decent wages, abide by strict labor regulations and permit independent unions, the oligarchs will only accelerate their pillage.
The class warfare is global. Not until workers in sweatshops in China, Mexico, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh are lifted out of poverty will the American working class be lifted out of poverty. This class war is the real fight, which corporate-owned media platforms and bankrupt liberals refuse to discuss.
“In a real sense all life is inter-related,” Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
Liberalism, which Rosa Luxemburg called by its more appropriate name — “opportunism” — is an integral component of capitalism. When the citizens grow restive, or when capitalism goes into crisis as it did in the 1930s, liberals ameliorate capitalism’s cruel excesses. Franklin Delano Roosevelt correctly said his greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism.
But capitalism, Luxemburg argued, is an enemy that can never be appeased. Liberal reforms, such as the New Deal legislation, are used to temporarily stymie organized resistance and then later, when things grow quiet, dismantled to reinstitute capitalist slavery. The history of capitalism illustrates this constant seesaw between liberal reforms and unregulated, capitalist exploitation. The last century of labor struggles in the United States, which has seen unions largely obliterated, and the advent of neoliberalism, austerity, rampant militarism and deindustrialization amply prove Luxemburg’s thesis.
Fascism is the result of a failed liberalism. With liberalism corrupted, as it has been in the hands of the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton, all self-identified liberals have left to peddle is cloying appeals for tolerance and civility, shorn of economic justice. This politesse, which epitomizes the Biden White House, fuels an animus towards the ruling elites, along with the feckless liberals and the liberal values they purport to defend.
The elevation of women, people of color and those with different sexual orientations to managerial positions in the oligarchic state is not an advance. It is a species of corporate colonialism. It is branding. It is the substitution of cultural politics for real politics.
When the Belgian colonizers could no longer openly exploit the Congo, they installed the corrupt and compliant puppet Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, after, of course, assassinating the courageous independence leader and first prime minister Patrice Lumumba. Mobuto, who embezzled between $4 and $15 billion during his bloody dictatorial reign, served his colonial masters until the end. Expect the same prostrations before corporate power from the diverse appointments in Biden’s cabinet and, should it be required, the same state repression.
The political, cultural and judicial systems in any capitalist state are centered around the sanctity of private property. Laws and legislation are instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or, as Luxemburg writes, “those who have some property against those who have none at all.” This inherent bias in capitalist societies, however, becomes criminal once monopolies, from Wall Street Banks to Silicon Valley, seize the organs of power. These monopolists create, by abolishing regulation and oversight, as political economist Karl Polanyi writes, first a mafia economy and then, inevitably, a mafia state.
The Democrats and Republicans have legalized a level of greed and fraud that even heirs of the robber barons thought unsustainable. David Rockefeller’s “enlightened capitalism,” however self-serving, along with his call for a nation of stakeholders and his formation of the Trilateral Commission, have been pushed aside to license unchecked corporate pillage.
Bill Clinton and his two treasury secretary enablers, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, instituted a system of unregulated capitalism that has resulted in financial anarchy. This anarchic form of capitalism, where everything, including human beings and the natural world, is a commodity to exploit until exhaustion or collapse, is justified by identity politics. It is sold as “enlightened liberalism” as opposed to the old pro-union class politics that saw the Democrats heed the voices of the working class. Financial anarchy and short-term plunder have destroyed long-term financial and political stability. It has also pushed the human species, along with most other species, closer and closer towards extinction.
The more workers are dehumanized, as Polanyi notes, the more the ruling elites are morally degraded. Unheard-of wealth creates unheard-of poverty. “Scholars proclaimed in unison that a science had been discovered which put the laws governing man’s world beyond any doubt,” Polanyi writes of laissez-faire capitalists. “It was at the behest of these laws that compassion was removed from the hearts, and a stoic determination to renounce human solidarity in the name of the greatest happiness of the greatest number gained the dignity of a secular religion.” Workers, abandoned by the state, reach a point where they resemble more “spectators that might haunt a nightmare than human beings.”
The shipping of jobs overseas, where workers toil in conditions that replicate the worst abuses of the early industrial revolution, leaves those in the industrialized world unable to compete. A living wage, job security and benefits are replaced by the insecurity of the “gig” economy. This global market forces workers, whether in the Rust Belt or in China, to surrender before the dictates of their corporate masters. The bondage of the working class, at home and abroad, cannot be corrected by legal or legislative reform when the political system is hostage to corporate money and political office is defined by legalized bribery.
Global capitalism relentlessly searches the globe to exploit cheap, unorganized labor and plunder natural resources. This is its nature, as Karl Marx understood. It buys off or overthrows local elites. It blocks the ability of the developing world to become self-sufficient. At the same time, it strips workers in the industrialized world of good paying jobs, benefits and legal protections, pushing them into crippling debt peonage, which further swells the bank accounts of these global speculators. Its two unrelenting goals are the maximization of profit and the reduction of the cost of production, which demands that workers be disempowered and treated like prisoners. This global assault on the working class is fueling a global rage. And its visage, as we see among the white, dispossessed working class in America, can often be very ugly.
Apple, one of the most profitable companies in the world, is the epitome of “enlightened” global capitalism. WIRED reported that “employees at Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle have contributed nearly 20 times as much money to Biden as to Trump since the beginning of 2019. According to data released by the Federal Election Commission, which requires individuals who contribute $200 or more to a presidential campaign to report their employer, employees at these six companies have contributed $4,787,752 to Biden and just $239,527 to Trump.”
Employees at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, WIRED reported, are Biden’s biggest financial backers in Silicon Valley. They donated nearly $1.8 million, more than one-third of the money raised from employees of the six companies. Open Secrets, a campaign finance watchdog, found that contributions from Alphabet’s employees and political action committee to the Biden campaign collectively exceed those from any other company. Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, Open Secrets found, account for five of the seven largest donors to the Biden campaign on that basis.
Apple in China, however, treats its workers little better than 19th-century serfs. Jenny Chan, Mark Selden and Pun Ngai in Dying for an iPhone, chronicle the endemic labor abuses, including substandard wages and wage theft, long hours, union busting, a refusal to pay sick leave, unsafe labor conditions, a harsh work environment and pressure to meet quotas, that contribute to a high rate of worker suicides in factories that make Apple products. Workers are crammed into overcrowded dormitories next to factories “to facilitate high-speed, round-the-clock production” and are forced to put in as much as 130 overtime hours a month.
The disenfranchised white working class embraced Trump because he taunted and belittled the globalists and monopoly capitalists who destroyed their communities and their lives. For them, Trump’s vulgarity was a welcome respite from the cloying language of inclusivity and political correctness used by the oligarchs to mask the crimes of monopoly capitalism. The connecting tissue, in the United States, between these disparate, disenfranchised groups of white workers is Christian fascism.
Biden, a tool of global oligarchy, who naively intends to resurrect the ancien régime, is paving the way for a frightening despotism, one where voices of dissent, from the left and the right, are censored and all who refuse to accept the new global order are labeled as domestic terrorists and pounded into submission. Societal breakdown, which is looming, brings with it grotesque political distortions. Trump was a symptom of this breakdown. He was not the disease. This dystopian future, one that will probably end in the United States in a form of Christian fascism, has been bequeathed to us by the ruling global elites, who in another era would have been found promenading through the halls of Versailles or the Forbidden City.
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