Another Hot One | Coyote Visit | Rainfall Totals | Memorial Weekend | Joe Manske | Union Soldiers | Ed Notes | Confederate Soldiers | Modic Masthead | National Scandal | Fumbled Legalization | Yesterday's Catch | Elk Garage | Reporter's Alert | Young Fauci | Comments of the Week | Naomi's Clay Feet | Rivers of Angst | Old Branscomb | Picking Grapes | D-Day Boys
HIGH PRESSURE will continue to promote mostly clear skies and hot inland valley temperatures today. Tomorrow will start a very slight cooling trend as high pressure gets pushed eastward. Some isolated spots of coastal clouds will be possible this morning, with more widespread coastal clouds forecast for the back half of the work week. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S HIGH TEMPS: 104° Ukiah (3pm); 103° Yorkville (4pm); 101° Boonville (1pm); 61° Fort Bragg (3pm).
NEW SIGHT outside our door this evening. A coyote was wandering around our yard. Only one I have ever seen on the coast. We did see one on Highway 128 just before the Sonoma County line. Quite a thrill! (Larry Wagner)
As you may have noticed, the month of May contributed zero precipitation to our totals. Monthly figures for the 2020-21 wet season (Oct-Oct) thus far:
Boonville (16.5" total)
Yorkville (21.3" total)
IRV SUTLEY WRITES:
A brief Submission to the AVA on Memorial Day
I am going to spend some of the hours of this Memorial Day going over books, photographs, and letters concerning my parents’ best man, Joseph Manske, who was the engineer-gunner on plane number 5 of the Doolittle Raid on Japan (18 April 1942). Joe Manske had been 21 years old for four days on the day of the Raid and was a sergeant at the time. Manske later would later retire as a colonel. I remember when he visited us in Marin in the 1950s, Manske and my father would take me along to see some of their WW II fellow airmen living in the Bay Area, some within mere miles of Arnold Drive in Sonoma County, the Nimitz highway in Alameda.
Colonel Manske was always with his eye on the gas gauge (nervously it seemed to me) offering to fill up the gas tank in my father's car. No doubt in my mind now that this was an unconscious reaction from the Raiders having to take off 10 hours early from the aircraft carrier Hornet and running out of fuel over China — most forced to bail out as the B-25B's ran out of fuel or crash landing on the Chinese coast.
Manske and my dad served with the 95th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group, at McChord Field, Washington. First operational group in the U.S. to operate the B-25 Mitchell bombers before Pearl Harbor. This unit supplied a majority of the 80 Doolittle Raiders and the mission's Army Air Corps support staff. My father who was a first sergeant at time of the Raid and who later retired in 1946 as a Chief Warrant Officer in 1946, followed the Raiders' careers and several times attended their annual reunions.
All the Army aircrews, the Army Air Corps support staff as well as the Naval personnel who got them within striking distance of the Japanese Empire are now deceased.
Private I. Sutley E-1 1976961 USMCR (Seven years, Eleven months in grade) MOS 0311
MEMORIAL DAY was commemorated at Evergreen Cemetery, Boonville, Monday, beginning precisely at 11, ending 40 minutes later with a color guard gun salute. Some fifty persons — veterans, wives and locals showing their support for veterans, made up the audience for several spoken recollections by Valley veterans, who included Patrick Ford (Marines); Kirk Wilder (Army); Hans Hickenlooper (Marines); Ray Langevin (Navy); Tom Condon (Army); Kirt Frost (Air Force); Greg Sims (Navy). Val Hanelt informed us of some of the older military graves in the Cemetery: Christopher Columbus Huffaker (1842-1911) obtained by his grandson Jim Wellington a few years ago. He was in the 30th Kentucky Infantry and a Civil War Veteran. And there is John Lewis Estes of Custer’s 7th Cavalry, who eluded Custer’s last stand to live out his days in the Anderson Valley. Among attendees was Sheriff Matt Kendall, whose roots in Mendocino County go back to his pioneer family who named Boonville ‘Kendall City’ before it was Boonville. Delicious sack lunches were provided by Love to Table, a volunteer group steered our way by Arline Bloom. “They have been making meals for the homeless,” Arline explained. “When they asked who they could cook for today, I suggested our Legion and families. That's where the lunches came from.”
I’LL BET I’m not the only local who can’t drive past the Memorial Day Flea Market without thinking of the late Carl Kinion, a regular at the market for years and, also, among the Redwood Empire’s elite blood donors, giving more of the life stuff than any other resident of this county, past or present. And while waxing nostalgic, it was Homer Mannix and Wayne McGimpsey who brought the fire hydrants to central Boonville.
STEVE SPARKS CONFIRMS that was indeed Natalie Matson putting a fresh coat of paint on the lamp posts in front of the old Buckhorn, about to be revived by Ms. Matson as Lauren’s at the Buckhorn. “Natalie has been putting in many, many hours at the old Buckhorn, sprucing it up and changing the look and feel in various ways. Hopefully, “Lauren’s at The Buckhorn” (L.A.B.), a combination of the best from Lauren’s and The Buckhorn, will be open in the next couple of weeks or so. Meanwhile, this is the final week for Lauren’s at the original location. The last night, after 25 years of operation, will be Saturday, June 5th. Hope to see you at the L.A.B. in the near future.”
MY FAMILY, a portion thereof, enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Company Kitchen, Philo, on Saturday night where Libby Favela was cooking in the same kitchen where she became regionally famous as the eponymous Libby’s Restaurant.
MARSHAL NEWMAN: ANOTHER ANDERSON VALLEY E-BAY POSTCARD
Camp Masonite Navarro. Early 1960s, maybe?
CURIOUS about how fast competitive cyclists can get from Cloverdale to Boonville? Coupla Sundays ago I passed a Coast bound, lycra-clad couple at Cloverdale’s Boonville turnoff, and exactly an hour later, their energy apparently undiminished, they zoomed through Boonville.
I'M FINDING that one big advantage of my senescence is re-enjoying movies I haven't seen in sixty years, such as The Last Picture Show. I remember liking it, but I didn't remember liking it as much as I did Sunday night when I watched it again. The whole cast is good, but Cloris Leachman was never better, and she was good in every thing she did.
AS MOST MOVIE FANS know the film is based on Larry McMurtry's East Texas hometown of Archer City, renamed Thalia in his book, The Last Picture Show, become the famous film, which he mostly wrote with director Peter Bogdanovich. The story of teenagers coming of age in the 1950s, although set in small town Texas, could be of teenagers almost anywhere in the United States at that time. I especially enjoyed a sequence where every place in town the teen football players went the day after a losing game they got insulted by adult fans. “Ya know, boys, tacklin' keeps the other team from scoring.” Etc.
WHICH REMINDED the garrulous old coot writing this of my high school football coach who said to me after one of many losses, “You know, Anderson, I hope I'm there when you get yours.” I know I irritated him — “Buck up, coachie, it's only a game” — but can you even imagine a high school coach these days wishing out loud for a kid's death? The young weren't cosetted back in the day. They seem punchy from being love bombed anymore.
McMURTRY, probably best known for Lonesome Dove, again put his dying home town on the map when he converted the mostly abandoned downtown into a series of bookstores, which became a mandatory stop for bibliophiles from around the world.
BIDEN honored the nation's war dead on Memorial Day by taking part in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, where he said Americans have long fought for “rule of the people.” “Democracy itself is in peril — here at home and around the world,” Biden said. Did he say, “here at home”? Are we looking at Civil War Two? Biden called the choas outside Air Force One a “struggle for the soul of America itself” – a recurring theme of his campaign and administration. And, spectacularly untruthful all his days, Biden called for “truth, founded on facts, not propaganda…” “Empathy is the fuel of democracy,” Biden said. “The soul of America is animated by the perennial battle between our worst instincts, which we’ve seen of late and our better angels. Between me first and we the people, between greed and generosity, between cruelty and kindness, captivity and freedom… We gathered at this sacred place in this solemn hour engaged in the most fundamental of undertakings: the right of remembrance. To remember those who gave their all in the service of America and the service of freedom and the service of justice.”
AND A TROPHY FOR YOU, SIR
Was it Andy Warhol who once said, “In the future everyone will have their name in the Anderson Valley Advertiser masthead for one week”? Now, I know you're a big fan of everyone getting a trophy so I propose that you put my name in the masthead for one week. Consider it a pandemic stimulus, i.e., I'll hightail it down to Redway Liquors, buy up an extra twenty copies, and ride into the sunset knowing that losers can finish first! Can't ya give this boring boomer one last moment of fleeting fame? Thanks, and don't forget to take it out the next week — this “trophies for all” thing could get out of hand, right?
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
RE MENDO'S POT PROGRAM: "The frantic years-long attempt to rescue a sinking pot licensing program has long since progressed past the old comparison of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Stupes have imported deck chairs, debated the merits of various deck chairs, and are frantically searching for more and different deck chairs. Meanwhile, the pot legalization program in Mendoland continues its inevitable Titanic descent into the depths of fumbled legalization.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, May 31, 2021
KEVIN BECKMAN, Lucerne/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
RICKIE CURTIS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
GUSTAVO FRANCISCO-PEREZ, Laytonville. DUI.
VICTOR GONZALEZ-POSADAS, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI.
ROBERT GOTT, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
MARISOL JACOBO-IBARRA, Longville, Washington/Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury.
CARLOS MAGANA, Ukiah. Domestic battery, protective order violation.
ANDREW MILLER, Windsor/Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, misdemeanor hit&run with property damage, reckless driving.
PABLO MORA, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
ANTONIO MUNOZ, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
ARTEMIO ORTEGA-REYES, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, probation revocation.
BRENDA POINDEXTER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SOPHIA ROZELSKI, Ukiah. Domestic battery, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
ARIANA WHITE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ERNEST ZASTE, Ukiah. Battery, failure to appear.
TO THE MEDIA: READERS NEED TO KNOW MORE
by Ralph Nader
Reporters at major newspapers and magazines are hard to reach by telephone. Today it is increasingly difficult to converse with them about timely scoops, leads, gaps in coverage, and corrections to published articles.
We started an online webpage: Reporter’s Alert. From time to time, we use Reporter’s Alert to present suggestions for important reporting on topics that are either not covered or not covered thoroughly. Reporting that just nibbles on the periphery won’t attract much public attention or be noticed by decision makers. Here is the sixth installment of suggestions:
1. China is where the Covid-19 pandemic originated and where the first casualties occurred. After a few weeks of blunders, lockdowns, and rigid quarantines, the Chinese economy and society seemed to recover. China has three times the U.S. population, but claims its fatality toll is about one percent of the U.S. fatality toll. Assume this is heavily undercounted. Even so, observers in China report the economy is bustling. Workers are back on the job, stores are filled with shoppers, and in-person schooling and meetings have resumed. Yet, the western press has not really reported in granular detail the difference in Covid numbers between the two countries. Just saying China is a command society is too facile. We have much to learn from the Chinese and by doing so we can establish the basis for closer cooperation between our two countries to prevent the next pandemic, whether from animals or a laboratory leak.
2. Have any reporters explained to us why over 300,000 Afghan soldiers and thousands of police, with modern U.S. equipment and training, plus U.S. naval and air cover, are losing ground almost everywhere to 35,000 Taliban with light weaponry and no air, naval, or radar defense systems? Americans have paid a heavy price for this forever war. They and the Afghan people, who have endured intense suffering, deserve detailed explanations of why the Taliban is such a challenge for foreign armies and the government of Afghanistan. Reporters need to go beyond the throwaway phrase “it’s the corruption.” Air cargo loads of $100 bills flown to Kabul from Washington often facilitate corruption, but there is far more to this story.
3. Media, explain this paradox: The Israeli government knows every street, alley, and building in tiny Gaza. It has this enclave under the most intense technological surveillance of any human population in history. It tracks who lives, works, moves, and the goods they buy. It collects DNA samples by family name and has loads of spies and informants. The U.S.-made Israeli aircraft pinpoint, with precision missiles, militants sleeping on known floors of apartment buildings. Yet, the Israeli military cannot locate in a timely manner the places where the garage-built, crude, inaccurate rockets are made and fired. Experts have said Israeli missile defense technology can respond to rocket launch sites in three to five seconds. What explains this contradiction?
4. The miasma of U.S. foreign aid programs merits media sunlight, especially given the lack of congressional oversight. This is an area of endless discovery. Enormous discretionary power regarding foreign policy has been given to the White House by Congress over the decades. What loans are quietly converted to grants at the insistence of lobbyists for foreign interests? How much of the foreign aid is used for purchases from U.S. companies and how much transfer of sensitive or top-secret technology slips through export restrictions under this rubric of foreign aid? The last and only GAO study on U.S. foreign aid to Israel was in 1978 and it revealed the astonishing latitude of pro-Israeli government administrations to give Israel special treatment.
A recent article by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes that “U.S. law is clear: all countries receiving U.S. aid must meet human rights standards, and countries violating these standards are liable to be sanctioned and ineligible for U.S. funding…” But “when it comes to Israel, additional conditions do not apply and general human rights laws are almost never adhered to.” (See: Bringing Assistance to Israel in Line With Rights and U.S. Laws, May 12, 2021).
How many taxpayer dollars are going to fund unlawful activities in recipient countries? Whatever happened to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 1996 declaration before a joint session of Congress signaling the end of prosperous Israel’s need for U.S. aid programs to the standing ovation of the solons? How have foreign aid priorities helped despots and ignored areas abroad that have incubated local epidemics of new viruses and bacteria which could spread around the world?
5. The vast proportion of NASA’s $24.7 billion budget is outsourced to corporate contractors. Each year, NASA is shrinking from the agency it once was – now corporatizing entire space programs and their crews to outfits run by Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and others. Soon it will so diminish its in-house technical capacity that it will largely become a dispensing and consulting agency with Congress listening to the “private” space industry’s commands and preferences. This is certainly worth a look-see.
6. Our country is increasingly being overrun by invasive species. Numerous reports have been written about what is happening in the Everglades and foreign beetles and other insects destroying billions of trees and Asian Carp in the Mississippi River. Southern ant colonies, killer bees, etc. send investigative alarms. How weak and underfunded are the sentinel agencies such as U.S. Customs and other agencies looking out for such invasions that already cost our economy tens of billions of dollars a year?
7. Getting through by telephone to your members of Congress, government agencies – local, state, and federal, and large corporations that boast about their customer service is beyond frustrating. It is a calculated blockade. Call a Congressional office and you get voicemail with options that go nowhere. This was the case even before Covid-19 gave them an excuse. As far as responding to substantive letters, forget it.
Voicemail, instead of a receptionist operator, used to be a no-no a few years ago. At the budget-depleted IRS and most government agencies, it is so difficult to find a human being that many people tell me they don’t even try anymore.
Once upon a time you could, at least, get a secretary to the CEO or President of large corporations. Try it now.
As reporters, you don’t experience the frustration because as media you get through, though you may not like the reply. Getting through to public officials is exercising our constitutional right to petition our government. This problem is worse than before the internet age. An email is no substitute for person-to-person exchanges on the spot. I’ve suggested this story, with examples to numerous editors and reporters who invariably say it’s a great idea and then drift away. In fact, I’m making this encore proposal because the first time in this series it was suggested it produced no takers. Shutting out the people has another name in many foreign countries, doesn’t it?
8. Why are the majority of U.S. $100 bills circulating in foreign countries and not in America? How successful are North Korean and other counterfeiters in manufacturing them? Just how much is the export of $100 bills fulfilling official government policies or facilitating corporate crime. There used to be a $10,000 and $1000 bill which were discontinued in 1969 to fight undetected criminal transactions. Is cryptocurrency becoming the means of replacing expanding counterfeiting? What are the operating government counterstrategies?
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 Anybody that does not believe in a creator denies reality. Keep going back in time, everything came from somewhere, t=0. Mr. Tekapo does not have a clue about origins, and is missing much without faith that something created it all. Call it God, the Creator, whatever.
The leading physicists believe in a scientific God, because they cannot explain the origin. How do you explain a singularity which is impossible?
Not in the workings of God. Who knows maybe the singularity is God.
I feel for folks that have no purpose. People whose egos are so large and fixed that they cannot acknowledge that something or someone is bigger than themselves.
 What’s really fascinating to me is this notion that everybody alive shares a common ancestry from two individuals, a man and a woman, Adam and Eve in the Bible, a topic that’s been bandied about for a while by scientists. No idea where it stands now but some geneticists said a while back that the most likely place for these ancestral people was somewhere in east Africa, maybe 150,000 years ago. And this idea also, that humanity didn’t always struggle to scratch a living out of the dirt, a time before farming, idealized as the Garden of Eden. The Bible talks about a transformation of human consciousness before the expulsion from the Garden. Not an exact parallel but archeologists refer to a Great Leap Forward, a huge transformation when people became behaviorally modern, evidenced by an enormous flowering of technological innovation and artistry around 50,000 years ago, maybe the time when modern language took shape.....
 Last week, I saw a family at a state park popular with the young urban types looking for an escape from the added 20 degrees from asphalt and poured concrete.
Four with dog. 2 parents, 2 small children. Mom had the obligatory “curated” arm tattoos and 80’s era plastic framed glasses.
Dad had the obligatory beard and the careful but modish eyeglasses one typically finds on an architect or fashion house haunter.
The dog, of course, was a French bulldog.
They were masking up between bites and sips.
Nobody around them.
Everything about them is a carefully crafted message of conformity.
The slavishly stylish brand.
 I have been sick 4 times since the start of the pandemic, the first time was covid so after that we returned our kids to daycare. And everyone knows that if you have kids in society you’re gonna get sick. It does kinda make me wish I was able to hide at my house with them because I wouldn’t have got sick at all. But then again I would have lost my house to the bank so it’s a Catch 22. Although this year I’m gonna get the flu shot for the first time ever, nothing to do with covid, just kids are germ bags
 The tragedy of European settlement in America is not what happened to facilitate it (rather than a gruesome genocide it was primarily importation of smallpox, large livestock, gunpowder and steel weapons to the hemisphere that made it happen). The tragedy is what Europeans have turned the Americas into since… tragedy is comparing many native American cultures to the present one.
We’ve trashed the place during our stewardship period, and all our precious, precarious edifices are teetering just 500 years on, to the point that health of the land and many human lives upon it are in question.
NAOMI OSAKA is a brilliant tennis player. Unfortunately, she is also an arrogant spoiled brat whose fame and fortune appears to have inflated her ego to gigantic proportions. How else to explain her extraordinary decision to announce she will no longer participate in media press conferences, supposedly to protect her mental health? Petulant Osaka was fined $15,000 for refusing to appear in front of the media during the current French Open Roland-Garros tournament, and a joint statement from all four Grand Slam organisers said she will face 'more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions' if she continues her boycott. Of course, given that she earns around $6,000 an hour, Osaka will recoup this fine while she sleeps tonight, rendering the fine utterly meaningless. What's not meaningless is her frankly contemptible attempt to avoid legitimate media scrutiny by weaponizing mental health to justify her boycott. What Osaka really means is that she doesn't want to face the media if she hasn't played well, because the beastly journalists might actually dare to criticize her performance, and she's not going to 'subject' herself to 'people that doubt me.' And the problem with the French Open is that it takes place on clay, her statistically weakest surface, so she probably won't win it, and when she loses, she'll be asked why she isn't as good on clay. In other words, she has no problem with the media lauding her undeniable brilliance with a tennis racket, right to the point they say anything negative, however reasonable and fact-based, because then they're damaging her mental health. This is straight out of the Meghan and Harry playbook of wanting to have the world's largest cake and eating it, by exploiting the media for ruthlessly commercial self-promotion but using mental health to silence any media criticism.
DAVE ZIRIN: This treatment of Osaka should be a wake up call. Players, their unions and their allies need to wake up and get a strategy for how to deal with this burgeoning backlash and not surrender the ground gained in the last year. It might even mean walking off the court.
THREE RIVERS OF ANGST
by James Kunstler
Does Memorial Day 2021 seem an unusually grim lull between spring and summer this year? Here in the northeast, rain pounded the lakes, ballfields, and barbeque circles all weekend with the additional insult of a steady fifty-degree chill that hardly changed from noon to midnight all weekend. Anyway, the holiday is always freighted with that hush of battlefields strewn with the dead — no smiling Santa Claus, no pastel Easter eggs, and the skeletons aren’t in the mood for dancing.
Even the military looked tarnished this year with a battle royale raging over the new imposed strictures of Critical Race Theory poisoning the ranks, and the fishy spectacle of Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, an exemplary officer, getting drummed out of his post as Commander of the new Space Force for publishing a book about all that. His firing provoked the consciences of retired generals and admirals who denounced the Pentagon’s new tilt into Marxist political activism as an existential threat to the nation — and that didn’t seem like such an exaggeration, either, considering how an America led by transsexual gunnery sergeants might meet its future foes on the fields of war.
Memorial Day also marks one year since the sacred transfiguration of George Floyd from repeat felon to patron saint of social justice, but the remembrance of all that seemed a bit wan now that officer Derek Chauvin stands convicted of murder and the Floyd family has been elevated into the financial one-percent with a $27-million settlement for the loss of George’s earnest existence. Meanwhile, America could not fail to note the 36-percent increase in the national homicide rate since that mournful afternoon in Minneapolis.
Three rivers of angst flow out of Memorial Day 2021, and it is possible to imagine how they will meet later this year and join in a mighty flood of woe over the country. The first is the toxic stream of Wokery saturating just about every institution in the USA from the armed services, to the DOJ, to education both public and private, to organized sports, to the corporate C suites and, of course, to the transmission of current events in news and social media.
Despite the torrents of mendacious narratives and fogs of gaslight deployed in this campaign, a substantial chunk of the public resists suffocation and has finally begun to fight back, especially at the grass roots local level against the dogma-driven school boards out to cancel Western Civ. Expect this to ramp up as the spring semester closes out and the schools must set the terms for resuming classes in the fall. The kids themselves are bucking the mask mandates while the parents tangle with the more vexing problems of Woke racist curricula and insane sexual propaganda. It’s going to get ugly.
Another stream of angst is the River of Covid-19. The tide has just turned on the question of where it came from, namely, the Wuhan Lab, but it’s hard to game-out both what we might do about that concerning the CCP’s role in it — plus, the roles of Dr. Fauci and our own National Institutes of Health — and whether the depraved administration of China Joe Biden can even acknowledge the facts. That is to say: the whole sorry episode looks like an act-of-war but carried out with America’s foolish willing collaboration.
But then a whole raft of really deadly additional questions overrides even the quandary of who’s responsible, and I refer to the future course of the disease itself, whether another wave comes back, what new variants might emerge, and the extremely spooky issue of what the long-term effects of the experimental vaccines might be. Since the news media is so untrustworthy, and these are such troubling threats, it will be very hard to locate the truth about the medical concerns.
There’s a ton of rogue commentary on the Internet about all this, and a lot of it comes from legitimate and credible doctors. But the highest official US medical authorities are crippled for now and the public is left to sort out what’s real and what’s not on our own. An aggravating factor is that so many people have been roped into taking the vaxes that they might not want to even hear about any serious problems discovered with them. One extremely worrying narrative lately surfaced is the idea that Covid-19 itself wasn’t the prime bio-weapon deployed against the world, but rather the vaccines will deliver more death than the disease. Not saying I subscribe to that theory, but it’s out there to chew on.
The third stream of angst is the big muddy river of economy-and-finance. For the moment, it’s the one drawing the least attention because the equity markets continue levering up-up-up reassuringly on ZIRP and the gold market goes mostly sideways, and Bitcoin dances up and down like the jester it is. The unemployment numbers are still grim, along with the perverse effect of jobs going unfilled due to federal relief packages. A lot of businesses wiped out by the lockdowns just aren’t coming back, and despite all the “liquidity” sloshing around stocks and bonds, there isn’t much capital really available for people who went bankrupt and need it to start up anything again. Lurking in the background to all this is the surreal government spending of “money” created from up the Federal Reserve’s wazoo on a Ponzi scheme for the ages that shows signs of ending as all Ponzis do: in ruin. Only in this case for an entire nation. We’ll end up either with no money or plenty of worthless money. Take your pick.
These days, one can only observe that the fiscal management of the Biden admin looks like just about the most reckless and clueless of any regime in US history. All of a sudden, a $10-trillion annual budget, including all the special “rescue” plans? Come on, man…. The deluge from this river of angst might easily overtake the rising waters of the other two as we stand watching on the levee of summertime. Just offstage of all this is the quirky playing-out of 2020 election audits. Gawd knows what the nation will do when faced with genuine proof that Mr. Biden is in office less than legitimately. That’ll bring on the equivalent of a five-hundred-year flood, fer sure, when angst turns to real misery.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
by Paul Theroux
I met Angel Barragan under a tree on a side street in Huayapam. Like Pedro, he was in his mid-30s and some of his story was the same -- the desert crossing at Altar to Sasabe, for example. But in his case he was in a large group, 102 men and women, and because of the size of the group it was cheaper -- an $800 down payment, then more after he arrived and began earning. His younger brother was with him. This was 2006.
“What made you decide to go?”
“To make money,” Angel said, and smiled as though at my simplicity of mind, too dim to grasp this obvious point. “There is no money here.”
“You crossed with a lot of people,” I said. “That must have been hard.”
“It was five days and nights from the border to Tucson,” he said, remembering and looking grim. “We had brought one day of food so we went for days without food. A coyote raped one of the women -- well, she couldn't pay the money, so she offered her body.”
He considered this and became silent.
“We ate a lot of cactus,” he said, using the word nopales. The pads of the nopal, prickly pear, can be eaten raw or cooked with a taste -- people say -- like green beans.
“And you all survived?”
The idea of 100 people plodding across the desert was hard to imagine -- a stream of them, filing on a path through the hot gravel and spiny cactus and mesquite -- but none of them were apprehended by the Border Patrol, so Angel said.
“No one in our group died,” Angel said. “But along the way we saw dead bodies just lying on the ground. Dead from thirst. Not buried.”
“Did you see snakes?”
“During the day, yes, many,” he said. “There are always snakes in the desert.”
The deal is this: the group assembled by the coyote, or a syndicate, was headed to work on a farm in Huron, California, to harvest lettuce. All of them like indentured servants. Huron, in Fresno County, with a population of about 6,000 at the time of Angel Barragan’s residence, was the city with the highest proportion of Latino or Hispanic people in the United States -- 98% -- most of them migrants, working in the fields, a great proportion undocumented.
“Harvesting lettuce, we got about $400 a week. It cost us around $180 a week for room and food and expenses,” he said. “It was very hot, sometimes over 100 degrees. It was no better later in Santa Rosa picking grapes -- we got about $1100 every two weeks.”
“How much did you send back home?”
“Nothing. After paying rent and food, I had so little left over. See, I was still paying off the coyote.”
“What was the name of the vineyard in Santa Rosa?”
“The company was called Star Wines,” he said. “I could pick 150 boxes of grapes a day. I was in a group of eight guys, most of them from Puebla and Oaxaca. If we picked more grapes than normal we got extra money. We often picked 12 tons a day.”
I questioned this: eight tons was 16,000 pounds of grapes. But he insisted the figure was accurate.
“The company would drive us three hours away in a truck to the vineyards,” he said. It is 200-odd miles from Fresno to Santa Rosa so this sounded right, but checking later, I could not find a vineyard called Star Wines; maybe I had misunderstood him.
[Ed note: It could have been Esterlina Wines, based in Healdsburg and which has a vineyard in Anderson Valley. Estella is Spanish for Star.] “Because of chemicals on the vines we had to wear special suits” -- hazmat suits -- “and boots. So it was very hot. But the pay was good. I could send some money home. I could earn in a week in the US what would take me a month and a half here. But still it wasn't enough.” He reflected on this. “Finally after eight months when I paid the coyote in full I came back here. There was no point staying if I couldn’t earn extra money.”
“How did you come back?”
“In my friend's pickup truck,” he said and brightened remembering a detail. “As we were crossing the desert we saw the Border Patrol in a helicopter.”
“So you are staying here?”
“I'd like to go back -- for the money. Some other people have gone to the states from Huayapam. But they been gone so long I don't think they're coming back. For the past six years I've been trying to build a house here. I have children in school -- and you know it costs money for children to be educated in Mexico.” He had a son, Roman, who was 16 and two daughters, Diana 12 and Michelle 11.
He itemized the amounts: 10,000 pesos for books, uniforms, paper and pens for the three children -- that was $550 -- and extra for sports equipment. Tuition was 15,000 pesos for each child for a school year. The Mexican government helped a little with a stipend: every two months 2000 pesos to keep the kids in school under a plan called the Program of Opportunity. It was a struggle and Angel Berrigan’s pay in his job as a handyman in Huayapam was just enough to support the family, but there was nothing left over and he wondered whether he would ever finish building his house.
MEMORIAL DAY, 2021
The D-Day photo below pictures U.S. Army soldiers who were among the very first wave of some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces who landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region.
Nazi guns were waiting for them. Machine guns. Mines. Artillery gun emplacements. Mortars.
These American soldiers faced almost certain death.
Look at their faces.
Look deeply into their faces. What do you see?
O brave young warriors!
O vast army of ghosts moving in a long slow death march!
My heart opens to you.
Heaven grows brighter with your young silvery faces.
The bugle blows. The great drums pound. And your mothers flood the fields of the farms and channels of the city streets all across America with their tears.
When the telegrams come, your mothers break the dinner dishes. They tear at their dresses. First they scream. Then they cry.
They cry and cry.
For the rest of their lives, everyone will speak to them in whispers.