Interior Warming | 18 New Cases | Vaccine Mandate | Second Thought | Flex Alert | Vanishing Reservoir | Richard Johnson | Railcar Turnaround | Proposed Names | Night Out | Bear Woman | Hotel Cecille | Mr. Ukiah | Galaxies Aplenty | Stealing Water | Carlson Hotel | Bear Radio | Covid Hotspot | Arson Arrest | Yesterday's Catch | Well Fail | Hunting 1906 | Pacification | 911 Call | Tax Cheats | Last Ulysses | Walking Highway | Colonel Shaw | Vaccine Aristocrats | Reagan Tax | Sally Gearhart | At Ease | American Way | Republican Intransigence | Avoid Plague | Powell Memo
TEMPERATURES ACROSS INTERIOR portions of northwest California will steadily warm during the week, with high temperatures in the low 100s probable by Friday afternoon. Conditions will then cool during the weekend into early next week. Otherwise, showers will dissipate across the region this evening. Additional thunderstorms may occur across the interior mountains Thursday and Friday. (NWS)
18 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
ON MANDATING COVID VACCINATION
by William Miller, MD; Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital
This week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all California state employees will be required to either be vaccinated or be tested twice weekly for COVID. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that it will extend this mandate to all health care employees in the state. While Governor Newsom, who is facing a recall election, may have been politically forced to allow people to opt out of vaccination by getting twice weekly testing, that is not the best strategy for putting this pandemic behind us. Here is an argument for why mandating full COVID vaccination makes sense.
First, some relevant facts. According to the CDPH website, in the past six months 99% of all new COVID cases in California have been in unvaccinated persons. The number of daily new cases in the state has jumped from about 1,000 per day at the start of July to now over 10,000, with hospitalizations on the rise as a result. Currently, 62% of the approximately 36 million Californians ages 12 and above are fully vaccinated, with an additional 9% being partially vaccinated and 29% being unvaccinated.
Against the previous variants, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 95% effective in fully vaccinated people, meaning that 1 out of 20 who are vaccinated still will become symptomatic if exposed to COVID versus 1 out of 3 in unvaccinated persons. Partial vaccination only conferred about 60% effectiveness.
The new variant, delta, is roughly twice as contagious meaning that the doubling rate for cases is about twice as fast. An unvaccinated person who now has a greater than 50% chance of contracting COVID if exposed. It also appears to be more virulent, meaning causing worse illness. Previous variants cause hospitalization rates of about 12% while twice as many, or about 24%, of people who get delta require hospitalization. Currently, it is the dominant variant in California, the US and around the world, comprising about 83% of new cases in our state.
Fully vaccinated persons with Pfizer and Moderna appear to still be 88% protected from developing symptoms if they get infected with the delta variant, while the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines may be less effective in preventing symptoms. However, while the rate of preventing symptoms is lower against the delta variant, all of the vaccines remain effective at preventing progression to more serious illness and death. Vaccinated persons who become symptomatic may be contagious, suggesting that the vaccines may become less useful over time in curbing the pandemic if new variants are allowed to develop. Currently, from a strategy of protecting oneself as well as the population at large, vaccination remains a very powerful strategy.
The explanation for the change between the previous variants and delta is natural selection. With every surge of new cases, there are tens of thousands of people reproducing hundreds of millions of new copies of the virus. At that rate, there will be a lot of errors in the replication of the viral genetics, called mutations. Most mutations are basically duds. However, when we are talking about large numbers of people getting infected during a surge, then there will be gradual changes in the virus that will lead to its ability to evade the vaccines. Unless nearly everyone is vaccinated, there will, over time, be a selection for those viruses that are resistant to the vaccine. When that happens, the effectiveness of the vaccines may drop to significantly to the point where we are back to having an unprotected population.
These vaccines are safe and effective. They are not experimental, do not cause infertility, do not implant you with a tracking device or any of the other myriad arguments against the vaccines that end up amounting to nothing more than unfounded opinions, rumors, and fears.
When it comes to people who are still undecided or flatly against vaccination, we have probably gone as far as we can with strategies of educating, cajoling, and offering financial incentives. It seems to this author that the only next step that will be effective in getting us to the level of vaccination that will put this pandemic firmly behind us may be to mandate that everyone gets vaccinated before a surge in unvaccinated people leads to some new strain that renders the vaccines ineffective. It is at least worth further discussion.
You can access previous Miller Reports by visiting www.WMillerMD.com.
(The views shared in this weekly column are those of the author, Dr. William Miller, and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher or of Adventist Health.)
FLEX ALERT ISSUED FOR WEDNESDAY ACROSS CALIFORNIA
by Kathleen Coates
California’s electric grid operator has issued a statewide Flex Alert from Wednesday because of higher-than-normal temperatures in inland Northern California.
The California Independent System Operator has asked consumers statewide to conserve electricity from 4-9 p.m. The operator is expecting increased use of air conditioning to strain the state’s power supply.
The agency is urging residents to pre-cool their homes by setting the thermostat to as low as 72 degrees and to use major appliances before 4 p.m. Blinds and drapes should be drawn to keep the cool air inside.
Once the alert kicks in, the agency asks residents to turn off unnecessary lights, delay using major appliances until after 9 p.m. and to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits.
Reduced electricity use during a Flex Alert can prevent further power interruptions or emergency measures such as rotating power outages, the agency said.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
RICHARD (RICH) ARNOLD JOHNSON
A resident of Novato, Richard Arnold Johnson died of kidney failure on July 22nd.
Born in San Francisco on December 26th, 1939, Richard moved to Marin County when he was 6, and was thereafter a true son of Marin where lived until his passing last week. He was among the last classes of Larkspur-Corte Madera School graduates to receive their diplomas in the open air dance floor of Larkspur's Rose Bowl. Richard was a graduate of Drake High School's class of 1957 where he was a member of the golf team and went on to become the sports editor of the College of Marin newspaper, the Mariner.
During a 30-year career in the title business, Richard became Chief Title Officer of Western Title Insurance Company, San Rafael, where he met his wife Debbie. They were married in 1978 at Carmel and were inseparable for the next 43 years.
Richard was fascinated by history, especially the histories of San Francisco and Marin County, and was a lifelong fan of Stanford football, the 49ers and the Giants. He was a lifelong golfer and enjoyed get-away weekends in Napa, Carmel and Lake Tahoe.
An affable, witty man enormously popular with lifelong friends back to his childhood in Corte Madera, Richard is survived by his wife, Deb, two children, Scott Johnson and Kelly Johnson, grandson, Jay (JJ) Fallon (Erikka), and greatgranddaughter, Ava. He was preceded in death by his parents, Mary and Leonard Johnson and his brother, Alvin (Al) Johnson. No services will be held, but family and close friends plan to gather to remember their years with their loyal friend. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association.
OLD FRIENDS DIE and with them go whole universes of shared experience. My oldest friend died last week. We met in 1945, Rich and I, in my memory the day the war ended when we were allowed for the first time to walk together two blocks to Mario Shenone's market where all the Shenones spoke Italian and swept the floors with sawdust. We both remember church bells and sirens on that great, celebratory day. We attended the same elementary school in Corte Madera and graduated from the eighth grade in a matriculation ceremony at the open air Rose Bowl dance floor in Larkspur. Rich went on to Drake High School in San Anselmo, I went over the hill to Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. We often laughed that we felt like Rip Van Winkle, born and raised in one seemingly unchangeable world that soon became a series of startling worlds as the world pummeled us and we grew older then old, him fighting valiantly his last years to defeat a series of physical blows including the loss of a leg and, finally, kidney failure, nursed the whole way by his saintly wife, Deb, without whom he'd have been gone years ago. Socially conservative Rich was politically liberal; we saw Lenny Bruce live twice in North Beach, Rich probably the only golfer in America who could make that claim. The guy never ate a fresh vegetable. We'd all laugh when he'd open his cheeseburgers to carefully remove anything that didn't look like meat and cheese. And he smoked. And he drank a lot of wine. For a guy with so many bad habits it was a minor miracle he was 81 when his abused body finally gave it up. His father, Leonard Johnson or, as his friends called him, Roach, was a warehouseman, a subset of Harry Bridges' powerful Longshoreman's union at a time San Francisco was a labor town, but hardly a liberal town except for Bridge's Longshoremen. Mr. Johnson often told the story of the day that Bridges himself offered Leonard a ride to the bus stop. Now, of course, the union chief and the boss ride in the same limo. Rich's mother, Mary, often fed us insatiable Anderson brothers, smiling as we wolfed down her neighborhood-famous griddle cakes. Rich and his brother, Al, were light eaters, and finicky about their food. We pounded down whatever was put in front of us. I've always thought I am probably the only one left who remembers the tense run-up to my brother's big Catholic wedding at St. Raphael's in San Rafael. Our side of the wedding party, including Rich, were surprised when the Catholic side said our close black friend, Robbie Harvey, could not participate in the ceremony. We won't participate either, then, our side announced. Harv, gracious all his days, settled the matter by assuring the Catholics that he was pleased simply to attend. From youth to the onset of decrepitude goes by fast for all of us, but we were always in touch, Rich and I, through the tumultuous years. Never an optimist, Rich said to me one day last year, “Did you ever think we'd last long enough to see the end of the world?” Almost to the end, my oldest friend was lucid as, it seemed to me, the medical profession steadily removed his body parts, whittling away at him as he spent more and more time in the emergency room and hospitals but never losing his laughter at the irony of it all. The last time I spoke with him it was almost like we were children again when we'd say, “See you tomorrow,” and there were decades of tomorrows. A month ago, I said, “Talk with you soon, Rich,” and then he was gone, taking a big part of me with him.
RE-NAMING FORT BRAGG
by Marco McClean
Proposed new names for Fort Bragg (CA):
If people who don't even live in Fort Bragg get a say, then this might as well be opened up to the entire internet, where the result will converge on Fortbraggy McFortbraggyface. So, no.
Choose one and/or add a few of your own. Keep 'em coming!:
• Lindy Petersville (top choice so far)
• The Palms (a close second) (and with real climate-improved palms added)
• Glass Beach (with fresh glass added, to refurbish it to historical wet shinyness)
• Pudding Creek (Mix, Topping, and so on)
• The Pudding
• Jenny's Giant Burger (CA)
• Bowling (and bring the bowling alley back)
• Noyo River, Cliffs, Point, Port, and so on
• Porno Bluffs, by the Sea, and so on (deliberate keming)
• Point Felicity
• Felicity Bay
• SweetJesusTexas (CA)
• Fireworks (Bunyan, Salmon, Toy Ride, and so on)
• Port Adventist Hospital
• Fort Brag
• Port Swag
• Port Melo
• Point Pomo
• Who Cares
• Point Pomo
• Fo gg
• Fo g
REMEMBERING THE BEAR WOMAN of Laytonville, an on-line comment: “The bear woman a Laytonville was not harmless she was dumping 6000 pounds of dog food around her house every month. She not only fed bears but fed everything including hundreds of other wild animals. she threatened to kill the fish and game biologist, game wardens and the government trapper. She also threatened to kill and burn down her neighbors houses who complain to fish and game about chronic bear problems. Because of this lady over 150 bears died during about a 20 year time. She didn’t help bears by feeding them she created bears that were chronically imprinted on humans for a food source and caused hundreds of incidences with her neighbors of bears destroying their property, killing their poultry and livestock and destroying their veggie gardens and fruit trees. This lady owned the only gas station in Laytonville and her daughter and son in law would defend her because it was all about they’re inheritance. She was worth a lot of money and didn’t care about her neighbors. This was not an old lady feeding Tweety birds! Thats the truth. There's an old saying, A fed bear is a dead bear, if you feed bears human food you’re condemning them. This woman had no common sense.”
OLD TOWN’S NOT THE SAME
by Bob Dempel
That’s the name of a song which reminds me of Ukiah. I needed to visit an appliance store on the north end of town. When we finished leaving a cooler for repair and turned south, I immediately knew we were in trouble. I forgot that the town’s fathers were tearing down State Street. No sooner did we get to the first stop light, the traffic slowed to a stall of about around 10 inches per-minute.
But on the bright side, since I was the passenger, I was able to look at the Ukiah I had forgotten about, since I graduated from Ukiah High School 65 years ago. What caught my eye was the Palace Hotel, with all of its history, elegance, and glamor. My grandmother spent the last years of her long life living on the third floor in an apartment on the north-east corner.
I remember the Palace as a young kid of 6 or 7. I was allowed to walk around town by myself visiting all three of the 5 and 10 cent stores. At a specific time, I would meet my mother at the Palace, who had been shopping for our weekly groceries. If I had been good all week, she would give me 10 cents to buy something with.
The Palace was owned and run by F. Walter Sandlin, known as Mr. Ukiah. If anything was going to happen in Ukiah, Walter was involved. By the way “F” stood for Francis, a name he never used. His avocation was that daily he would purchase 6 or 7 birthday cards. I was one of the lucky people on his birthday card list. Every year for at least 40 years I received a birthday card from Walter Sandlin with just a short-personalized note in his handwriting. Somewhere along my 50th birthday, I received a card with a personal note saying, “Happy Birthday and many more.” This was Walter’s way of saying this was the last card. And indeed, it was; he died soon after. My next birthday when I did not get a card from him, I really knew he was gone. Walter still lives in my mind. A bridge is named after him on Highway 101 at the Mendocino-Sonoma County line. What a tribute to a great Ukiahian. Think of him when you travel south.
The Palace, among other things, had a large lobby, stuffed chairs, and an elevator (probably the only one in town) at that time. As a kid you would feel safe in the lobby. The counter was always staffed. Walter was always somewhere around. You could go down the hall to the west and use the men’s restroom. It was the first men’s room I ever saw that required you to pay to use the stalls. The urinals were free but lord, if you needed to do number two, you needed a nickel.
Hotels then always had a restaurant and bar. In the 40s drinks were still 50¢ in the Black Bart Bar. You could get a meal special for 85¢ in the Palace Café. In the 50s a nice large meeting room was built. It was THE place to have your business meeting. The bar was moved around so the large meeting room could be built.
I remember in 1954 a group of Sophomore school girls organized an invitation only night dance at the Palace Hotel. By chance, I and my current squeeze were invited. I was a senior and my squeeze was a junior. At that time, I had never heard of the word cotillion. Ukiah was a wee bit too small for a full-fledged social event, but the girls in the class of 1956 were well educated about growing up in high society. The invitation list was kind of like a Who’s Who at that time in high school. We had had our proms and school dances in the high school, with teachers as chaperones making sure we didn’t dance too close or try to cop a feel.
This dance at the Palace was completely different. The door was bodyguarded by a guy named Mr. Big Shot, with a clipboard. He had a clipboard so you knew he was important. Your name had to be on his clipboard list. He questioned me at length as to how I got invited. Mr. Big Shot, later in life, was one of the most disappointing schoolmates I ever knew. He spent his life selling toilet paper. I remember in gym class someone lit the waste paper can on fire and I went to bat for Mr. Big Shot, telling Mr. Tully, our PE Teacher, it was not him. It wasn’t until many years later that he finally owned up to setting the waste paper can on fire. That’s probably why he was doomed to selling toilet paper for the rest of his life. Every time I do number two, I think of him.
Beside the bar and café, the Palace had a dress shop run by Suzie Cox, Kings Office Supply Store, Berman’s Men’s shop, Ukiah Travel Agency run by Walter’s son, Palace Barber Shop run by a Mr.Sandkulla, and a beauty shop run by Mr. Tully’s beautiful wife Del.
My heart breaks when I look at the Palace Hotel and how it looks today. Then I think about all of the possibilities that the building and property could have become. In my lifetime travels I have eaten, drank, and slept in hotels of the same vintage as the Palace. No one in Ukiah has stepped forward to resurrect the Palace. Come south to see the old Thatcher hotel we have in Hopland and how it has been remodeled (for the umpteenth time).
In Ukiah, the town fathers are spending gazillions on State Street. Next time I am in Ukiah I will remember to turn left when I visit my appliance store. And remember the yellow painted steel posts, and not back into them. Mark would not be happy.
And the appliance was working, no charge. I guess that is what friends are for.
REPORTS OF WILLITS WATER THEFT REHASHES ENFORCEMENT DILEMMA - STEALING WATER IS A LOW-LEVEL OFFENSE
On the afternoon of July 25, 2021, Mendocino County Sheriff deputies and Fish and Wildlife officers responded to Bechtel Creek in Willits regarding reports of two men pumping water out of the waterway.
The reporting party described the suspects as two men filling multiple water tanks in an unmarked truck with no plates.
MCSO’s Public Information Officer Captain Greg Van Patten told us the suspects were not located but the responding deputies found the location where the water theft likely took place a one-quarter mile from Williams Ranch Road on Muir Mill Road in a roadside turnout.
MENDOCINO THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS...
A reading of THE BEAR by Anton Chekhov this Thursday, July 29, 7:00 PM on KZYX & KZYZ 88.1 FM (Fort Bragg); 90.7 FM (Philo); 91.5 FM (Willits & Ukiah) and streaming online @ kzyx.org.
"It's inconvenient to shoot in a room, let's go into the garden."
Mendocino Theatre Company's READING ON THE RADIO series continues this Thursday, July 29th at 7:00 PM with a reading of THE BEAR, a joke in one act by Anton Chekhov. Written in 1888, THE BEAR is one of Chekhov's many "farce-vaudevilles"...little theatrical "jokes". It's fast-paced and lots of fun!
Smirnov (Mark Friedrich) is determined to collect the debt owed by Elena Popova's late husband; Luka (Bob Cohen) is determined to help Mrs. Popov leave her self-imposed mourning, and Elena (Gina O'Feral) is determined to remain chaste and inaccessible as revenge for her late philandering husband.
Will love, life, and seduction win out over stubbornness and self-deception? Will it all end in a duel...or a wedding? Tune in to KZYX on July 29th, at 7 PM to find out!
IN LAKE COUNTY, two local fires (of five total) were set by deliberate actions of arrested parties. There could be further arrests for the others. But this is news from CalFire about the one that happened here on July 23. We're overwhelmed with fruitcakes -- a helicopter with a load of water was unable to drop on the Clearlake Oaks structure fires Sunday evening, because there were insufficient law enforcement personnel available to keep the lookie-loos away, therefore increasing the hazards for firefighting personnel.
(Betsy Cawn, Lake County)
* * *
CAL FIRE LAW ENFORCEMENT MAKE ARSON ARREST
St Helena - Resources were dispatched to the area of Ogulin Canyon Road in the community of Clearlake, California for smoke seen on the hillside at approximately 7:20 PM on Friday, July 23, 2021. Upon arrival to the area, firefighting resources confirmed there was a fire and began searching for access to the fire. CAL FIRE aerial resources were the first to arrive at the fire and were successful in holding it in check until the first ground resources found access at approximately 8:10 PM. The fire burned approximately 1/3 of an acre. CAL FIRE Law Enforcement officers arrived at the fire shortly after the ground resources and began investigating the origin and cause of the fire. During the course of the investigation, a suspect was identified, and an arrest warrant was issued for the suspect. On Monday, July 26, 2021 Charles William Cartwright, a 54-year-old resident of Clearlake, was located and taken into custody without incident and booked into the Lake County Jail.
CAL FIRE was assisted by Clearlake Police Department, Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Lake County District Attorney’s Office, Lake County Fire Protection District, and North Shore Fire Protection District.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 27, 2021
TIMOTHY ELLIOTT, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, unlawful display of registration.
MATTHEW FAUST, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
RONALD HOEL, Redwood Valley. Metal knuckles, parole violation, failure to appear.
RYAN PEPERA, Ukiah. Controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, felon-addict with firearm, suspended license for DUI.
DANIEL PEREZ, Manchester. DUI.
TASHEENA SHANNON JR., Redwood Valley. Controlled substance.
MAX URBINA, San Jose/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR WELL
Like any resource, well water can run out if not monitored and managed correctly. It’s unlikely a well will permanently run out of water. However, there are 9 things to consider that can cause your well water to reduce or go dry.
by Stewart Bowen
The pacifiers were sold one to a package. I asked for a dozen—maybe $20 worth back then. “That's a lot,” the clerk said. “You don't know this baby,” I told her.
Bill H. was one of our senior engineers, and a good one. It was his name on the original patent for SMDC (Shielded Mild Detonating Cord), now used in virtually all military aircraft for emergency egress, among other things. He was part of the reason I ended up working for Explosive Technology (ET). We went clear back to the early 60s, shortly after ET had been founded by three people from the Stanford Research Institute. He was one of my customers at Wyle Labs, the hazardous test facility where I worked previously. Besides being a competent engineer, Bill was something of a character. Between marriages, in his Middle Aged Crazy Years, he turned into a pretty good double of another Bill—Buffalo Bill during his later years when he was doing his road show. Flowing gray hair down to his shoulders, full white beard, boots, jeans, over-sized Western belt buckle. But I thought the leather vest, complete with fringes, was a bit over the top. He spoke with a wry drawl and seasoned his speech with country colloquialisms. Once, when ET was competing for a coveted contract against bigger companies with name recognition. he described our position as “sucking hind tit.”
I liked Bill. But he had at least one annoying habit, at least in my eyes. He liked to bitch—about everything. Kvetching. Is that the Yiddish word? He would stroll into my office in the early morning, cup of coffee in hand, and plunk himself down, uninvited, at my small conference table. I might be in the middle of something. It didn't matter if Bill wanted to unburden himself. This was a too-regular occurrence.
Back to the pacifiers. I removed them all from their individual bubble-packs and tossed them into a shallow tray. I put the tray in the drawer of my conference table—at the ready. It was only two days before he dropped by. He had a fresh complaint about something or somebody in the company. I let him get warmed up before I opened the drawer and took out the shallow cardboard box. I extended it across the table, saying “Here, have one of these, maybe it will help… No, take two!” Bill looked down, blinked, looked again. A slightly pained expression came over his face and he slowly got up. He left without a word—and without a pacifier.
I had hoped for a rueful smile or a half-chuckle. I felt a little bad, but not too bad. Our friendship survived, but he stopped dropping in every other morning.
PAYING FOR THE BEZOS SPACE TRIP
By all reports, Bezos has been obsessed with space for 30 years, and spent a small fortune — a pittance to him, it is to be noted — almost but not quite getting there.
After his billionaire rival, Richard Branson, pulled a similar stunt 10 days ago, you’d have thought from the media coverage that Branson had landed on the moon and discovered cold fusion in a crater.
The coverage of the Bezos fling was about as exciting as this cat meme, and all he got for his troubles in the end were enough penis jokes to last 10 lifetimes....
Yet as ridiculous as Bezos’s space coffee break was, I still get occasional pushback when I refer to people like him and Branson, who pay almost nothing in taxes annually, as “tax cheats.”
They aren’t cheating, I am told, but are playing by the laws as they find them. Change the laws if you don’t like them!
Well, that right there is the thing. Most of us aren’t billionaires who can afford to adopt the kind of powerful politicians who can rewrite the tax codes in our favor.
What do you call a system where rich people pay Congress members to do just that? I call it cheating, and sleep like a baby at night.
If I slip a few Benjamins to the home plate umpire so he will expand the strike zone for my pitcher during the game, I am cheating, and that is this....
— William Rivers Pitt
THE LAST PHOTO OF ULYSSES S. GRANT
This picture shows Ulysses S. Grant reading a newspaper on the porch of his cottage in Mount McGregor, New York. The photo caption stated that it was the last photograph of the general taken just four days before his death. Grant had recently moved to the cottage from New York City following advice from his doctors in hopes that the cooler dry air in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state would provide him some comfort.
Fighting his battle with throat cancer had taken a toll on the former President and “Unconditional Surrender” hero of Fort Donelson. Grant, always the fighter, committed himself to finishing his memoirs to provide for his wife Julia and his family. With the help of Samuel Clemens, known more famously as Mark Twain, Grant would complete his two volume memoir before finally succumbing to the cancer and dying in the early morning hours of July 23, 1885.
DOWN THE HIGHWAY
Well, I'm walkin' down the highway
With my suitcase in my hand
Yes, I'm walkin' down the highway
With my suitcase in my hand
Lord, I really miss my baby
She's in some far-of land
Well, your streets are gettin' empty
Lord your highway's gettin' filled
And your streets are gettin' empty
And your highway's gettin' filled
Well, the way I love that woman
I swear it's bound to get me killed
Well, I been gamblin' so long
Lord, I ain't got much more to lose
Yes, I been gamblin' so long
Lord, I ain't got much more to lose
Right now I'm havin' trouble
Please don't take away my highway shoes
Well, I'm bound to get lucky, baby
Or I'm bound to die tryin'
Yes, I'm a-bound to get lucky, baby
Lord, Lord I'm a-bound to die tryin'
Well, meet me in the middle of the ocean
And we'll leave this ol' highway behind
Well, the ocean took my baby
My baby stole my heart from me
Yes, the ocean took my baby
My baby took my heart from me
She packed it all up in a suitcase
Lord, she took it away to Italy, Italy
So, I'm walkin' down your highway
Just as far my poor eyes can see
Yes, I'm a-walkin' down your highway
Just as far my eyes can see
From the Golden Gate Bridge
All the way to the Statue of Liberty
— Bob Dylan
THE VACCINE ARISTOCRATS
Then there was the educated Texan from Texas who looked like someone in Technicolor and felt, patriotically, that people of means — decent folk — should be given more votes than drifters, whores, criminals, degenerates, atheists and indecent folk — people without means.
— Joseph Heller, Catch-22
On This Week With George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday, a bafflegab of Washington poo-bahs including Chris Christie, Rahm Emmanuel, Margaret Hoover, and Donna Brazile — Stephanopoulos calls the segment his “Powerhouse Roundtable,” which to my ear sounds like a Denny’s breakfast sampler, but I guess he couldn’t name it Four Hated Windbags — discussed vaccine holdouts. The former George W. Bush and Giuliani aide Hoover said it was time to stop playing nice:
”If you’re going to get government-provided health care, if you’re getting VA treatment, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, anything — and Social Security obviously isn’t health care — you should be getting the vaccine. Okay? Because we are going to have to take care of you on the back end.”
Brazile nodded sagely, but Emmanuel all but gushed cartoon hearts.
“You know, I’m having an out of body experience, because I agree with you,” said Obama’s former hatchet man, before adding, over the chyron, FRUSTRATION MOUNTS WITH UNVACCINATED AMERICANS: “I would close the space in. Meaning if you want to participate in X or Y activity, you gotta show you’re vaccinated. So it becomes a reward-punishment type system, and you make your own calculation.”
This bipartisan love-in took place a few days after David Frum, famed Bush speechwriter and creator of the “Axis of Evil” slogan, wrote a column in The Atlantic entitled “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough.” In it, Frum wondered: “Does Biden’s America have a breaking point? Biden’s America produces 70 percent of the country’s wealth — and then sees that wealth transferred to support Trump’s America. Which is fine; that’s what citizens of one nation do for one another… [But] the reciprocal part of the bargain is not being upheld… Will Blue America ever decide it’s had enough of being put medically at risk by people and places whose bills it pays? Check yourself. Have you? I’m vaccinated. I think people should be vaccinated.”
But this latest moral mania — and make no mistake about it, the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” PR campaign is the latest in a ceaseless series of such manias, dating back to late 2016 — lays bare everything that’s abhorrent and nonsensical in modern American politics, beginning with the no-longer-disguised aristocratic mien of the Washington consensus. If you want to convince people to get a vaccine, pretty much the worst way to go about it is a massive blame campaign, delivered by sneering bluenoses who have a richly deserved credibility problem with large chunks of the population, and now insist they’re owed financially besides.
There’s always been a contingent in American society that believes people who pay more taxes should get more say, or “more votes,” as Joseph Heller’s hilarious Texan put it. It’s a conceit that cut across party. You hear it from the bank CEO who thinks America should thank him for the pleasure of kissing his ass with a bailout, but just as quickly from the suburban wine Mom who can’t believe the ingratitude of the nanny who asks for a day off. Doesn’t she know who’s paying the bills?
The delusion can run so deep that people like Margaret Hoover can talk themselves into the idea that Social Security — money taxpayers lend the government, not the other way around — is actually a gift from the check-writing class.
In the last decade or so I had the misfortune of watching this phenomenon rise within both parties. After 2008, the “We’re pulling the oars, so we should steer the boat” argument dominated the GOP. Offshoots of Ayn Rand-ian thinking about ubermenschen producers and their dubious obligation to society’s masses of parasitic looters provided talking points both for TARP recipients (who insisted America needed to be invested not just in their survival but their prosperity) and the Tea Party.
Remember Rick Santelli on CNBC, calling for a referendum on whether or not we should “subsidize the losers’ mortgages” or whether we should “reward the people who carry the water, instead of drink the water”?
The same thinking long ago started to dominate “New Democrat” messaging. Ending “welfare as we know it” was a major initiative of Clintonian politics, and no matter what your feelings about welfare as a policy might be, there was something extremely creepy and moralistic — I might even say paternalistic and racist — about the rollout of the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” and its attendant reforms. Rather than simply cut welfare, Clinton made a great show of making welfare moms jump through hoop after hoop just to get their miserable TANF checks, a national shaming ceremony that recalled a triangulating Third Way version of Cersei’s Walk of Atonement in Game of Thrones.
By the time I wrote The Divide in 2009-2010, during a period when companies and executives who’d committed fraud in the hundreds of millions were routinely getting off without even a warning, the welfare bureaucracy had been rebuilt and revamped — supposedly as a fraud-deterrent, but also to make sure check-takers were living up to the standards of puritanical rectitude demanded by check-writers in both parties.
A program in San Diego, “Project 100%” or P100, sent city workers unannounced into the houses of welfare applicants and had them literally rifling through women’s underwear drawers with pencil-ends, in search of sexy clothes, extra toothbrushes, or other signs of a cohabitating boyfriend (for a woman on public assistance must have an empty bed and boring undergarments).
Another version of this attitude popped up in the arguments for smoking laws, which were favored more by Democrats, who among other things argued the public shouldn’t have to bear the health costs of those with bad habits.
In the pre-Trump years, there was by tradition a split in public messaging. I’m embarrassed to say I was part of this phenomenon, but it was real: blue-friendly pundits like me snickered at the uneducated, while the National Review crowd sneered at the irresponsible poor. Then Trump came along, and the media and political landscapes were re-ordered. Now there was no philosophical or political split among America’s wealthiest and most educated people. Both strains of snobbism — one looking down on the unschooled, the other looking down on an economically parasitic underclass — fused, putting wealthy America’s pretensions under the same tent for the first time.
It’s no longer surprising to see people like Frum — an incomparable villain in liberal circles even ten years ago — cheerfully identifying himself as part of the “Blue America” that’s “had enough.” Like Rand’s famous Atlases, they all want to go on strike. American politics is no longer an argument about supply-side economics, or war, or big vs. small government. It’s about check-writers versus check-takers, the book-learned against the dolts.
The former group, the people who say they’re paying the bills, have spent years now trying to let the rabble know there’s a limit to both their patience and their generosity. They’ve made it clear there are limits to how much speech freedom they’ll confer, how much political choice or right to assembly will be permitted, how much ignorance will be allowed to fester. The news landscape has become writer Thomas Frank’s dreaded “utopia of scolding,” with every screen full of finger-wagging Rahms and croaking Brian Stelters telling us how “fed up” they are with others’ inadequacy. This approach not only will fail, it already has, over and over.
SALLY MILLER GEARHART, a feminist, lesbian activist and prominent opponent of anti-gay policies whose writings included a classic of lesbian science fiction about a women-only society, much like the one she later founded in Northern California, died on July 14 in Ukiah, Calif. She was 90.
JAMES MARMON WRITES: The AVA just cancelled my subscription a few minutes ago, I hope you're all happy.
WEBMASTER MIKE KALANTARIAN REPLIES: At ease, James. Your current AVA account is alive and well — nothing's changed. We were cleaning out old expired Paypal accounts, and didn't realize Paypal would then send out the cryptic note you received (not adequately explaining what was actually happening). Sorry for the confusion!
JOE BIDEN'S RELAPSE: Can the president shake off his fantasies about Republican leaders?
Biden still claims that Republicans "know better." But as one critic says, the time for magical thinking is over
by Norman Solomon
For a while, President Biden seemed to be recovering from his chronic fantasies about Republicans in Congress. But last week he had a relapse — harming prospects for key progressive legislation and reducing the already slim hopes that the GOP can be prevented from winning control of the House and Senate in midterm elections 15 months from now.
Biden's reflex has been to glad-hand his way across the aisle. On the campaign trail in May 2019, he proclaimed: "The thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends." A year and a half later, the president-elect threw some bipartisan bromides into his victory speech — lamenting "the refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another," contending that the American people "want us to cooperate," and pledging "that's the choice I'll make."
But the notion of cooperating with Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy was always a fool's errand. That reality might as well have been blinking in big neon letters across the Capitol dome since January, as Republicans continually doubled down on complete intransigence. By early March, when the landmark American Rescue Plan squeaked through Congress, Biden had new reasons to wise up.
Passage of the $1.9 trillion measure, Biden said, "proves we can do big things, important things in this country." But passage also proved that every Republican in the House and Senate is dedicated to stopping this country from doing "big, important things." The American Rescue Plan got through Congress without a single Republican vote.
As David Dayen, executive editor of the American Prospect, pointed out at the time, many of the major gains in the rescue package were fundamental yet fragile. While purported "free-market solutions" had been set aside, crucial provisions were put on a timer to sunset: "We have the outline of a child allowance but it expires in a year. The [Affordable Care Act] subsidies expire in two years. The massive expansion of unemployment eligibility for a much wider group of workers is now done on Labor Day weekend. There's a modicum of ongoing public investment, but mostly this returns us to a steady state, with decisions to make from there."
Whether progress can be sustained and accelerated during the next several years will largely depend on ending Republican leverage over the Senate via the filibuster and preventing a GOP congressional majority from taking hold in January 2023. The new temporary measures, Dayen notes, could all be made permanent, "with automatic stabilizers that kick in during downturns, and Federal Reserve bank accounts for every American to fill when needed. We could ensure that federal support sustaining critical features of public life remains in place. We could choose to not build a pop-up safety net but an ongoing one."
The obstacles to enacting long-term structural changes will be heightened, to the extent that Biden relapses into a futile quest for "bipartisanship." This year, the GOP's methodical assaults on voting rights — well underway in numerous states controlled by Republican legislatures and governors — could be somewhat counteracted by strong, democracy-oriented federal legislation. That simply won't happen if the Senate filibuster remains in place.
Yet Biden, even while denouncing attacks on voting rights, now seems quite willing to help Republicans retain the filibuster as a pivotal tool for protecting and enabling those attacks. During a CNN town hall last week, Biden said he favors tweaking the Senate rules to require that a senator actually must keep talking on the floor to continue a filibuster — but he's against getting rid of the filibuster. Eliminating it, Biden said, would "throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done." On voting rights, the president said, he wants to "bring along Republicans who I know know better."
Many activists quickly demolished those claims. "This answer from Biden on the filibuster just doesn't make sense," tweeted Sawyer Hackett, executive director of People First Future. "Republicans aren't going to wake up and 'know better' than suppressing the vote. The filibuster encourages them to obstruct and our reluctance to end it emboldens them to do worse."
The response from the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Sherrilyn Ifill, was aptly caustic: "What are their names? Name the Republicans who know better. This is not a strategy. The time for magical thinking is over."
As Biden slid into illogical ramblings on CNN to support retaining the filibuster, the implications were ominous and far-reaching. In the words of the Our Revolution organization, Biden "refused to support doing what must be done to secure voting rights. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he continues to entertain the possibility of getting 10 Republican votes for voting rights. Back here, in reality, precisely zero Republicans voted in support of the For the People Act, and there is no reason to expect that to change."
When Biden became president, the Washington Post reported that he had chosen to place a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the most prominent spot inside the Oval Office, as "a clear nod to a president who helped the country through significant crises, a challenge Biden now also faces." But Biden's recurrent yearning not to polarize with Republican leaders is in stark contrast to FDR's approach.
Near the end of his first term, in a Madison Square Garden speech condemning "the economic royalists," Roosevelt said: "They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred." But now, in his recurrent search for cooperation, Biden seems eager for his Republican foes to like him. It's a ridiculous and dangerous quest.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."
THE POWELL MEMO (AKA the Powell Manifesto)
In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell, “Might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice… in behalf of business interests.”
Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy...