Light Showers | 17 Cases | 2 Deaths | Kid Vaccinations | Faulkner Park | Trees & Weed | Turkey Run | CPR Class | Mr Wrong | Open Studios | San Francisco | Ed Notes | Trash Talk | JDSF Management | Treesitter | Yesterday's Catch | Disguise Kit | Celebrating 215 | Rathering | Oregon Bound | Parasite States | Jazz Club | Forgotten Students | Gun Class | Cell Schwarming | Hell Garden | Pete Ports | Firm Views | Comfortably Numb | Billionaires | Fallen Yankees | Manchin Mansion | Hypocrite Obama
COOL AND MOIST conditions continue today with light showers possible along the North Coast. Warm and dry conditions will build in by Thursday into the weekend. The interior can expect clear skies while the coast will see a return of coastal stratus. (NWS)
17 NEW COVID CASES and two more deaths reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
TWO MORE MENDO COVID DEATHS
Two Mendocino County residents recently have passed away from COVID-19. Our thoughts are with all of their family and friends.
Death #93: 63 year-old man from the Willits area; not vaccinated.
Death #94: 62 year-old man from the Willits area; not vaccinated.
Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to think about the ways they are protecting themselves and their families from COVID-19. When in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people over age 65 (or over age 50 with certain health conditions) should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster to improve immunity. If you have questions about boosters or vaccines in general, speak with your doctor, or call Public Health at 707-472-2759. To find the nearest vaccine clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health website at: www.mendocinocounty.org/covid19
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MUST ACT Before Any Faulkner Park Tree Cutting
by Kathy Bailey
Friends of Faulkner Park addressed the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning, November 9, 2021, about the PG&E plan to cut down many, many trees, including 52 old growth redwoods, at Faulkner County Park outside Boonville.
Steve Wood and Cyd Bernstein outlined the PG&E plan, explained how important the park is for our community, and asked the Board to ensure no trees are cut at the Park.
In response, Fifth District Supervisor Ted Williams informed the Board that County staff had met with PG&E and would be meeting again with them this week. According to Williams, there is an agreement that PG&E will not cut any trees at Faulkner Park without County “consent.” County CEO Carmel Angelo then added that this agreement is in writing. Third District Supervisor John Haschak then asked whether this “consent” meant consent from the Board of Supervisors? The answer was “Yes.”
As Tuesday morning’s discussion was happening under the “Public Expression” segment of the Board¹s agenda, to receive any such Board consent, they would have to put the issue on a future agenda for full consideration. The Board would have to propose a specific action, and the public would have the opportunity to comment on their proposal. Our recommendation will be to not cut any trees at Faulkner Park.
Friends of Faulkner Park wishes to thank Supervisor Williams for his continuing attention to the PG&E plans and our concerns. And a special Thank You to Supervisor Haschak for clarifying that the full Board will have to act on this matter before any trees are cut.
We will continue to advocate for no tree cutting at Faulkner Park, and implementation of alternative fire safety practices, either extra strong wires, or undergrounding the wires for the roughly one-quarter mile distance through the Park, which is the alternative we strongly prefer.
It will be important to keep a careful eye on what’s happening at the Park. There are a number of reports from other counties where PG&E has apparently failed to honor its agreements.
SIGNS COME DOWN at Faulkner Park. Park saved from PG&E?
PG&E & ‘POT HOLES’
by Mark Scaramella
PG&E was back on the Supervisors’ firing line again on Tuesday regarding their “timber harvest without a timber harvest plan,” as Supervisor Williams described it. (Back in 2019 PG&E took serious flak from the Board when they described how great they planned to handle their (badly botched) first round of Public Safety Power Shut-offs. We all saw how well that went — for five long days and they couldn’t even get their website to work.
Steve Wood, a neighbor of County-owned Faulkner Park outside of Boonville and a couple other Anderson Valley locals pointed out how bad the PG&E clearcut plans are for the picturesque Faulkner Park, concluding “We will not accept the cutting of any of those trees.” Wood said PG&E could easily either underground the lines there, or upgrade them to more fire-resistant versions.
Supervisor Williams asked CEO Angelo to confirm that PG&E has agreed to not cut any trees on Faulkner Park without the Board of Supervisors approval. Angelo said her facilities staff did indeed have such a written promise from PG&E.
Williams then suggested that the Board set up a “PG&E Moonscape” ad hoc committee (later softened to a PG&E vegetation management ad hoc) to work with other counties and the state and PG&E to address the larger problem of PG&E’s reckless vegetation management program which has seen huge swaths of perfectly good trees whacked and chopped down without any real oversight, leaving dangerous, ugly slash on the denuded ground. Supervisor Glenn McGourty quickly agreed and Chair Gjerde so directed.
* * *
The latest cannabis problem with the County’s new on-line permit portal was discussed at some length.
Ukiah Daily Journal contributor Karen Rifkin wrote about the problem on Tuesday in uncharacteristically harsh terms:
“It is unclear whether [Cannabis Program Director Kristin] Nevedal is under the supervision of the CEO or the board. There is no transparency into how this program is being run and managed and it feels like it is happening in a black box with very little involvement from the public and very little stakeholder input and it is negatively impacting the [cannabis] community. ‘There has been a great deal of confusion in every step of the process.’ said Cannabis Alliance chief Michael Katz, “from the announcement through the implementation all the way to now when the portal is closed and for us not being fully certain which of the applicants will be able to work to completion and which of the applicants will be denied because they currently have incomplete applications as of when the portal closed. At this point we have no idea what criteria are being used—which of the hundreds of applicants will be able to work towards completion and which will be denied their permits. Despite the imperfections in the system, perfection seems to be a requirement for our applicants and the cannabis program seems to be actively trying to remove folks who are trying to be compliant despite an ever-changing and confusing program’.”
Supervisor Haschak suggested an ad hoc committee on the subject of the portal problems and Supervisor Glenn McGourty agreed, but added that he didn’t want to get into the larger cannabis issues because it’s too time consuming and he is already dealing with the Board’s strategic plan and the County’s upcoming “change of leadership,” an apparent reference to the planned retirement of CEO Carmel Angelo, whose highly compensated contract ends in October of next year, but many speculate that she could bail sooner than that with whatever paid time off she has accumulated.
The cannabis discussion arose when Supervisor Haschak pulled a state cannabis grant application item from the consent calendar which has a tight deadline. Former Supervisor John McCowen called in to say that he still thought the County needs to do another EIR and then move forward with a permit program, as he advocated prior to retiring from the Board. County Counsel Christian Curtis said that could take years and cost upwards of $1 million.
Soon after California passed Proposition 64 back in 2016 — five years ago now — legalizing marijuana cultivation and use in the state, Humboldt County turned the program the pot program policy questions over to their Planning Commission and staff. Mendo’s Supervisors, lead mainly by former Supervisor McCowen along with an off-again/on-again push from long-time pot grower Supervisor Dan Hamburg, decided that the Board itself should venture into the cannabis permit program swamp, thus triggering a slo-mo unfolding mess which Humboldt County mostly has avoided, a mess that includes large swaths of time wasting, mind-numbing, repetitive marijuana minutiae that rightly should be the purview of planning people.
In the run-up to last year’s pot permit program train wreck which saw the Board ultimately withdraw the permit-driven proposal they spent days and days on, the Board asked the Planning Commission to work on it. The Planning Commission, a more deliberative and less political body than the Supervisors, duly refined the program as requested but sensibly recommended that the Supervisors should limit the size of pot grows to two acres (up from their preferred one-acre).
The Board then proceeded to ignore even that sensible recommendation and stood firm on their original idea to allow pot growers to grow on up to 10% of their parcel size on grounds that that smaller grows were not economically viable (and would not produce sufficient pot tax revenues for County).
Immediately two well-organized referendum campaigns quickly gathered signatures for referenda that would either toss the Board’s expanded program entirely or re-instate the Planning Commissions’s two-acre limit. When one of those referenda qualified for the ballot next year, the Board immediately withdrew their expanded permit program proposal, returning Mendo to square one again: the broken program that nobody likes.
In other words, if Mendo’s supervisors had simply done what Humboldt did (and as we strongly urged, ahem) and assigned the pot permit program development to the Planning Commission and staff at the outset (or even later), the Board, and especially Supervisor McGourty, would not have to snivel and whine about how much time the pot program is taking, time which the past and current Boards have only brought on themselves, and which has brought Mendo to the untenable situation it remains wallowed in.
In the end, instead of even mentioning their own Planning Commission, the Board decided to set up yet another cannabis ad hoc committee but which will only be responsible for drafting an agenda item for a future full board workshop, neither of which were scheduled for any time certain, but certainly not this year.
Does this sound like more of what dug Mendo into this ever-deepening “pot hole” in the first place to you?
To add insult to injury, during the discussion, the Board asked their newly promoted “Cannabis Program Director” (formerly “manager,” but with no changes of duties-just a raise in salary) Kristin Nevedal to chime in with an status update. Unfortunately, Director Nevedal’s audio feed was badly garbled and mushy, much worse than the rest of the meeting’s audio, so we — along with the cannabis permit applicants and whoever is left of the cannabis tolerant public which the presentation was supposedly meant for — were unable to understand, much less report on, most of what she said. And nobody in the meeting even bothered to notice or pause the meeting to improve Ms. Nevedal’s audio, even though the Board said again and again that they needed to communicate with the public better regarding the pot permit program.
Ms. Nevedal’s garbled, mostly inaudible report provided a good metaphor for the larger mess that Mendo’s cannabis program has become.
CPR TRAINING IN BOONVILLE
Do you need an AHA CPR card? AV Fire Department offers CPR instruction for the public and for first responders. Call 707 895-2020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a class.
AV OPEN STUDIOS REPORT: We had great turn-out. Hope everyone made it to a couple! Thanks again, Yoriko Kishimoto
RITTENHOUSE. The New Yorker published an interesting piece on the young gunslinger that explains a lot about how he came to shoot three men during a BLM riot in Wisconsin. Raised by a single mother, EMT's and cops were the boy's role models as an otherwise unsupervised high school kid. There are worse role models, certainly, lots of them. The boy seemed to think he was doing good that night — helping maintain order and, if called upon, providing some basic EMT services. From all accounts, he wasn't a junior fascist, just not clear on what he saw as his mission. I doubt anybody, including his lawyers, will try to argue that Rittenhouse should have been armed, but the film of the event, assuming what we see is all of what occurred, makes it clear that the three men he shot were intent upon hurting him, and two of them were also armed.
NEAR as we can tell, the county's annual budget is somewhere between $300 and $400 million, a big hunk of it going to salaries, and employee benefits which include a generous retirement guarantee. A recurring prob with the county budget, and all public budgets for that matter, is that no one seems able to put a precise number on it. Up through the early 1960s, elected people especially, would promise to spend public money as carefully as they spent their own money, and until the recent past upper end county and other public bureaucrats didn't make nearly the money they make now. A package of better than $300,000 a year for Ukiah's phantom city manager to "manage" a town of 16,000 people? How did this happen? Well, as anybody knows who regularly attends public meetings the elected people are so chummy with the people they allegedly supervise that the elected people now consider themselves part of the "management team," and what teammate would deny team members… Well, $300 grand a year when the money isn't coming out of their own pockets, that the money the elected people are paying the people they theoretically supervise has become an abstraction, not real money at all, and certainly not money belonging to the elected people.
I REMEMBER writing that at high tide the water in San Francisco Bay was washing up and over the Embarcadero's retaining walls, that the water level in the Bay seemed to be higher every year. Several times, as I shuffled back and forth to the ballpark from the Ferry Building, I'd jump back from the outside of the promenade to the dry side of the walk. And just last week, it was announced by the Port of San Francisco, that SF will need to elevate portions of the Embarcadero as much as 7 feet as “a shoreline defense strategy.” So, class, it's not only the poor places of the world likely to suffer even more from the warmed globe, but some of Frisco's most valuable real estate — on filled land all the way to Kearney Street, by the way — can become uninhabitable, and will anyway, experts say, in the next big earthquake.
CALFIRE ERRORS AT JACKSON STATE FOREST
We need the Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) mission now, more than ever. CalFire has made serious mistakes, but they are still the best suited to manage JDSF. The initial intent for JDSF when it was established was to do scientific research on a working redwood forest to provide the basis for demonstration so forest landowners could better manage their forests. The overriding problem we face in redwood forestry is that most forest landowners are disconnected from their land, and from working their land. To this vast majority, forest management is an abstract concept relegated to licensed professionals, loggers, self appointed experts, media, academics, teachers, government regulatory agencies, forest environmental activists, forest certifiers, etc. This vast majority includes large and small private redwood forest owners, and the general public that owns JDSF. The latter being the largest population of redwood forest landowners in California. Our problem is huge. Being disconnected from the land, and from working the land, forest landowners are limited in the ability to verify, to question, and discuss what they read and hear about redwood forests, and forestry. This is at the heart of the impasse we are having regarding the debate on whether forest management decreases, or increases fire risk, and our debate about carbon sequestering. There is more than one science based view here. JDSF is in the ideal position to address our problem, and that was their mission from the beginning. This does not mean that JDSF has the definitive “settled science” on redwood forest management because science is never settled, and inquiry, confirmation, skepticism, discussion, and experimentation is always necessary in science, or there is no science.
CalFire has made two mistakes in the management of JDSF. The first has been a long term inadequate program of outreach and education that leaves landowners with the impression that logging is all that happens at JDSF. This can be, and needs to be corrected. Outreach and education is a fundamental part of the JDSF mission. Forest landowners are interested in learning about what is going on in their forests. But they need the qualified JDSF staff to demonstrate, explain, and discuss what is going on there. This does not happen on its own.
The second mistake by CalFire has been a failure to take aesthetics after logging seriously enough. There is no valid excuse for this. Forest landowners expect to see an appealing looking forest immediately after logging, and this is entirely possible. That being said, remember, the only people who don’t make mistakes are people who don’t do anything. And CalFire management of JDSF has been doing a lot of good things.
Management of JDSF has over the years been exceptionally good. There have been many accomplishments from dedicated and high quality staff. CalFire has taken a cutover forest and converted it into a world class working forest, with an unmatched range of recreation opportunities that are enjoyed by many. Important studies of redwood silviculture, fish, watersheds, wildlife, carbon sequestering, etc. have been conducted. Innovative silviculture has been tried, and applied. Ideal Coho Salmon habitat has been fostered and created. CalFire needs credit for this. Who else could have done this better? Who else could do better moving forward, when we know much more needs to be done?
George Hollister, Chair of the Jackson State Forest Advisory Group
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 9, 2021
BRETT HAYES, Covelo. Domestic battery.
JESUS HERRERA, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, trespassing.
CHRISTOPHER KEYES, Eureka/Ukiah. Under influence, resisting.
LAWRENCE LAWSON, Covelo. Felon-addict with firearm, controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person, stolen loaded weapon, county parole violation.
JENNIFER LINA, Fort Bragg. Criminal threats.
JAMES MILLER, Ukiah. Controlled substance, county parole violation.
LILIANA NARANJO-ALCARAZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
NORMAN WHITE, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
TOWARD A REVOLUTION IN THE CANNABIS REVOLUTION: Marijuana 25 Years After Prop 215
by Jonah Raskin
Who hasn’t heard the quip, “History is written by the victors”? Whether it’s true or not has been debated for decades if not longer than that. More to the point, how do we separate the winners from the losers? Who, for example, has won and who has lost the War on Drugs, which has always been from the get-go a war on people, families and communities. No speaker at the podium popped that crucial question at an all-day event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage in 1996 of Prop 215, the Compassionate Care Act, which ushered in the era of legal medical marijuana.
Prop 215 also seemed to drive a nail in the coffin of the Drug War, which Nixon initiated in the early 1970s and that every president, including Clinton and Obama, fueled for the next fifty years, Thanks, guys. I’m glad I voted for you. You turned out to be no better than Bush I and Bush II.
The celebration took place at the General’s Residence at Fort Mason in San Francisco, which is federal property. That meant that there were no signs for the event. Marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is still illegal with the feds, and so advertising for anything related to marijuana is also illegal. No signs of any kind were outside the building. Inside, I did not see anyone smoking marijuana and didn’t smell it either, though marijuana passed from hand to hand, quietly, surreptitiously. A woman I had never seen or met before, and who said she lived and grew weed in Humboldt gave me several ounces which I took home. I haven’t tried it yet. I will. It’s part of my research.
The program for the event, which was sponsored by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), listed the names of 76 deceased opponents of the Drug War: activist Dennis Peron; lawyer and SF D.A. Terence Hallinan; and Mary Rathbun famous for her pot-laced brownies.
The 25th anniversary celebration wasn’t helpful about what’s happening right now in the world of cannabis, though there were some references to the booming black market. Nor was it especially helpful about what will happen, though NORML usually insists that federal legalization is around the corner, only to be proven false. The event was helpful about the run-up to 215: how organizers organized all across the state, knocking on doors and gathering signatures; and the split between the pro-cannabis faction and the pro-hemp faction, though that split was deemphasized.
The speakers, all 38 of them, were survivors of the Drug War. They described Prop 215 as the flower, if we can call it that, “set off a revolution” in the world of cannabis. When I objected to the use of the word “revolution — because it’s abused and over used — to a longtime 79-year-old pot activist she said, “Maybe it wasn’t a revolution, but it was revolutionary.” She added, “After the passage of 215 we didn’t know how to take the movement forward. We trusted the government and we didn’t have our own alternative to their program.”
Prop 215 had many unintended consequences. In fact, it did not end the war on marijuana. Raids, arrests, prosecutions and incarceration went on for years. They still do. In California after 215 there was no coherent state-wide policy for legal, medical marijuana. Instead, it was left to every county and municipality to develop its own rules and regulations. Oakland opened its doors to cannabis, but the Central Valley did not, for the most part. The whole state was a crazy patchwork of conflicting policies that could be described as feudalistic.
Another unintended consequence was the creation of the pot dispensary which is nowhere mentioned in Prop 215. Before 215 there was Peron’s Cannabis Buyers’ Club which helped men and women, too, with HIV/AIDS, but there were no dispensaries. In the absence of clear guidelines, the cannabis marketplace turned into a wild west with legal and illegal businesses. In rural areas, many cultivators continued their outlaw ways, while a minority obtained licenses and adhered to new rules put in place.
Speaker after speaker explained that in the early and mid-1990s, it looked bleak for marijuana activists and the marijuana cause. The DEA refused to reschedule cannabis and insisted it had no medical value whatsoever. Also, the federal government shut down its own Compassionate Access Program which allowed patients with glaucoma to have legal access to cannabis. Brownie Mary was arrested and prosecuted for making her famous edibles and the San Francisco police raided Peron’s Buyers Club in the midst of the campaign.
But then the picture changed decisively thanks to Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, who had learned her chops from the civil rights movement, and also thanks to big donations from George Soros and George Zimmer of the Men’s Warehouse fame. Garry Trueau’s Doonsebury pro-cannabis cartoons helped immensely.
“We all made history,” Ethan Nadelmann, the founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, said. Valerie Corral, the founder of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, described history “as a moveable feast” and explained that the efforts of many activists were unacknowledged. Tom Amminao, a former SF supervisor and state assembly member, told the audience, “we are standing on the shoulders of many people,” and “we are connected to other movements.” He called out gay rights and immigration reform. Jim Gonzales, who co-managed the 215 campaign, reminded listeners that the cannabis laws were used to incarcerate Black and brown people. That pattern continues.
During a break in the program I talked with a protege of Dennis Peron who grows heaps of marijuana in northern California and who does his best to sell his crop. I’ll call him MM. It’s not easy these days to find buyers for marijuana. “There’s a glut on the market,” MM told me. “Those who are buying, buy sight unseen and unsmoked. All they want to know is whether it was grown indoors or outdoors, in direct sunlight or in a greenhouse. That’s crazy.”
MM added that there was very little affordable medical marijuana. Patients have been the big losers. “What we have now are big industrial operations,” he said. “They are not environmentally sustainable.” I also talked to Aaron Keefer (that’s his real name) who cultivates craft cannabis, which is certified organic, at Sonoma Hills Farm. “With 215 we had a sea change,” he said. “People who were ill, benefitted and it also helped people overcome their fear of marijuana. Prop 215 was about compassion.”
Keefer added that Prop 64, which legalized adult or recreational use in 2016, was “a way to funnel money to the government.” No agricultural product is taxed more heavily than cannabis. Indeed, cannabis is overregulated and over taxed which has led to an expanded black market. In the future, Keefer thinks that companies like Coca Cola will get into the cannabis industry. “What will save small growers and farms like Sonoma Hill will be direct sales. “The spirit of 215 didn’t reach 64,” Keefer said. “But when 215 passed it felt like a ‘get out of jail free” card. There was, indeed, cause for rejoicing. Now there needs to be a revolution in the cannabis revolution that brought about 215 and 64 in California and the legal marijuana industry, from Oregon and Washington to Massachusetts and Maine.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of Beat Blues, San Francisco, 1955.)
“VERNON EVANS (with his family) of Lemmon, South Dakota. Leaving grasshopper-ridden and drought-stricken area for a new start in Oregon or Washington. Expects to arrive at Yakima in time for hop picking. Live in tent. Makes about two hundred miles a day in Model T Ford.”
RED STATE DEPENDENCE
I’m fine with people leaving California. I too dislike much about California. But saying red states are more free due to lower taxes is ridiculous. Most red states receive much more from the federal government than they contribute. Blue states subsidize their low tax rates. Look it up.
Maybe it’s time that red states (highest COVID death rates, scarce medical care and lowest graduation rates) became fully free from the federal gravy train. That would lower federal taxes (maybe even blue state taxes) and cut government.
For true freedom, we should change the Constitution to allow one vote per person, apportion Senate seats based on population and create a federal voting standard. Those changes would promote true freedom. I wonder why red state representatives never talk about those issues.
I used to think talk of secession was insane. I wonder what would happen if we allowed a 20-year experiment whereby red states could live on their own income, with their own constitution. I suspect it wouldn’t be pretty. Sorry, no moving to blue states.
SOME HAVE SUFFERED MORE, THE FORGOTTEN STUDENTS
Hopefully, as more Americans of all ages get their vaccinations and there are some positive signs that fewer are getting sick, perhaps this dreadful pandemic may finally be coming to an end here. However, while many young people can be confident, others have suffered by only being able to participate in remote education. The best and brightest students, who already read a lot, haven't suffered as much as the less able of their peers. Education is a two way street requiring some focus and motivation by both student and teacher. It is encouraging that schools have reopened. Less students, especially the poorest and least favored, will lose hope and drop out.
Aloha to you in Mendoland. I am checking in to say hello and vent my frustration on the conditions of confinement here in prison. First off, having to live with another man is out as soon as I can get a single cell in here. Imagine this, living with your brother in a bathroom. Believe me, even if he was your best friend you would hate him after a week. Since I am completely turned off on the gay thing, I am basically miserable like this. The bad part is the institution forces us to take a celly so when I get a single cell they will write me up and take away my privileges. But I don’t care; it’s better than living like this. It’s shitty, gross.
Anyway, I hope you all are balanced with all the good stuff at home. I send my love and respect.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
It costs about $10,000 per day, per ship, to keep those container vessels operating off the coast of California waiting to be unloaded, and that’s just for fuel, not paying the crew and other expenses. The man ultimately responsible for untangling the logistical mess, for getting the ports working, the containers offloaded, and the trucks rolling, is Pete Buttgieg, US Secretary of Transportation. Well, yesterday, Pete released a statement:
“At the Dept. of Transportation we will be working hard to guarantee paid parental leave for all Americans. It’s the right thing to do.”
So there there it is, Pete is working on the problem.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.
I'll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?
There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.
Just a little pinprick.
There'll be no more aaaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it's working, good.
That'll keep you going through the show
Come on it's time to go.
There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.
— Roger Waters
LAMENT OF A LOU GEHRIG, JOE DIMAGGIO YANKEE FAN
by Ralph Nader
Another World Series – the twelfth in a row – without the New York Yankees, the richest franchise in the Major Leagues. The reason for this fall of the once formidable Yankee baseball dynasty is not difficult to discern. It is inept, smug management starting with the 23-year reign of General Manager Brian Cashman, to the amiable but overwhelmed manager, Aaron Boone. Against other baseball managers, Mr. Boone is out of his league. Competitors with far less money – think Tampa Bay – have teams that have run circles around the Yankees with better, faster, younger talent and greater drive to win.
Until recently, the Yankees’ management strategy has been self-defeating. For years they traded their minor league talent for over-the-hill, injury-prone MLB stars. Some trades worked out, but most loaded the Yankees’ treasury with huge financial obligations for very little return on the field. The result is that they strip-mined their farm teams and rejected the historic winning formula of growing their own talent that brought them 27 World Series championships until 2009. Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter, and scores of others made their way to the fabled stadium directly from Yankee Triple A teams.
Although recently, the Yankees are respecting the importance of their farm team players – Aaron Judge is an example – their trading acumen is almost non-existent. Just this year, two players on the Boston Red Sox’s – Eovaldi and Whitlock – gave the Yankees fits. These former Yankees were traded to Boston for no talent in return.
Moreover, the Yankees have been hobbled with so many injuries that their radio broadcasters, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman started a regular Injury Report. True, it included players from other teams, but the Yankees seem to win that dubious race with missing games totals. Our LeagueOfFans.org has vainly tried to seek an explanation of this unprecedented injury epidemic but to no avail. Our letters have gone unanswered. (See: “When It Comes to Injuries MLB Teams Remain Clueless” A League of Fans Special Report.)
The Yankees have set another record. No baseball team announcers on radio have to narrate so many advertisements, not even close. Not only are these torrents of commercial pitches between innings and within innings of play, but I’ve heard ads by one announcer stashed inside the description of an ongoing play. Each significant move it seems – homers, calls to the bullpen, double plays, stolen bases are “brought to you” by some corporation. Kia brings you homers; Geico brings you change of pitchers. It is so irritating to listeners that one wonders why the advertisers pay top dollar to irritate the listeners and ruin their potential customers’ enjoyment of play on the field. No comment from the Yankees’ head office when such an inquiry was made.
Here’s our list of just some of the leading irritating advertisers:
- Geico Insurance
- Barnes Law Firm
- Kia Auto Dealers
- “Drive-by Jeep”
- Mutual of America Financial Group
- Spectrum Mobile
- Nissan auto mfg.
- Centric Brakes
- Chock Full o’Nuts coffee
- Indian Point Nuke
The sports media seems to fall all over the Yankees. The post-game meeting between Aaron Boone and the reporters exhibits an all-time low in patsy questions. Here’s one: “How did you feel watching Stanton’s home run?” Never any criticism, challenge or revelation by these reporters clutching their pads and wondering why there is reduced coverage in the media of their submissions. (At the least, asking why Boone took out Domingo German, pitching a no-hitter with one out in the 8th inning after giving up a double with a lead of 4-0. German’s successor proceeded to give up five runs in a 5-4 loss. Afterwards, German told a reporter he was feeling stronger in the 8th than earlier in the game.)
The New York Times sports editors, infatuated with European soccer and its managerial jostlings off the field, cut back Major League Baseball coverage, with few exceptions, to a column of tiny print conveying scores and upcoming games. Forget the box-scores or the reporting on yesterday’s games. No time for the nation’s pastime for still millions of fans.
What should fans do? Demand a changing of the guard by the Steinbrenner brothers whose father would not have tolerated such unsuitable management, quite apart from his public outbursts. The Yankees are not keeping up with the rising youthful talent on other teams, many of them spectacular Hispanic “super-stars” in their early twenties. Historically, Yankees also have been very tardy recruiting Black players and the team has lost out from that indifference.
The biggest surprise in this saga of a fallen baseball empire has been the reticence and the passivity of the Yankee fans who made the Bronx cheer a mark of their displeasure from the stands. They have been given losing teams shaped by failing management that also overcharges their fans. From their homes, bars and vehicles, they are treated as advertisement bait with the play-by-play of the game as a secondary consideration by the Yankee profiteers.
Gone are the days of Mel Allen when the ads were only between innings, when players suffered very few injuries despite inferior safety equipment and field conditions (as with no helmets, gloves or padding on the walls) and fans were more respected. Sure, there is now free agency for the players, but how about some relief and smart leadership from new management for the Fans, especially those bypassed lower-income aficionados.
Fans of the Yankees, arouse, you have nothing to lose but your team’s losses as far as you can see.
BARACK OBAMA HAS A NERVE PREACHING ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS
by Kate Aronoff
Hundreds of people thronged the corridors at Cop26 on Monday, trying to make it into an event in one of the Scottish Event Campus’s drab plenary rooms. Passing by, I asked a man in the crowd what all the commotion was for. He responded with one word: “Obama.” The former president still maintains his rock star-ish appeal. His speech proved the biggest draw of the conference so far. But what should we make of it in the cold light of day?
Much of his message was directed at young people, whom he praised as both “sophisticated consumers” and the source of the “most important energy in this movement”. He was clear: it’s up to all of us – but especially young people – to come together and keep the planet from warming beyond 1.5C. “Collectively and individually we are still falling short” he said, in the kind of grand, sweeping tones that built his career. “We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis. We are going to have to do more. Whether that happens or not to a large degree is going to depend on you.”
Who precisely is “we” in this scenario? The young people who were children when Obama took office did not clear the way for a 750% explosion in crude oil exports, as he did just a few days after the Paris agreement was brokered in 2015. Nor did they boast proudly about it years later, as ever-more research mounted about the dangers of continuing to invest in fossil fuels. Speaking at a Houston, Texas gala in 2018, the former president proudly took credit for booming US fossil fuel production. “Suddenly America is the largest oil producer. That was me people,” he boasted jokingly to an industry-friendly crowd. “Say thank you.”
The UN-backed 2021 Production Gap Report found that world governments are now on track to produce double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than is compatible with keeping warming below 1.5C. Obama’s approach to boosting gas and renewables simultaneously, which he dubbed the “All of the above” doctrine, still appears to be a guiding principle of the Biden administration.
Young people also didn’t use the US Export-Import Bank to direct $34bn to 70 fossil fuel projects around the world. Neither did they deploy the National Security Administration to surveil other countries’ delegations at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009. And they have not joined other wealthy nations at the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks to keep conversations about the enormous climate debt they owe the rest of the world off the table.
Obama’s rhetoric mirrored the approach of the United States at countless climate talks. Where it tends to collapse the vast differences between and within countries, to avoid all but the most symbolic discussions of “common but differentiated responsibility”, as it says in the UNFCCC.
The global north is responsible for 92% of excess carbon dioxide emissions since the dawn of the industrial age. The United States alone is responsible for 40% of those – a fact its negotiators in Republican and Democratic administrations alike have long sought to obscure. “If equity’s in,” said top Obama-era climate negotiator Todd Stern at climate talks in Durban, South Africa in 2011, “we’re out.
Obama speech day was also, less glamorously, loss and damage day. Climate-vulnerable countries continue to demand real financial commitments to support them rebuilding from the damages that rising temperatures are already causing. His administration is one major reason why that’s been so difficult. “There’s one thing that we don’t accept and won’t accept in this agreement,” Stern said while negotiating the Paris agreement in 2015, “and that is the notion that there should be liability and compensation for loss and damage. That’s a line that we can’t cross.”
Obama wants to continue to make lofty speeches, which are ultimately campaigning for a return to his version of business as usual – better than Trump but utterly ill-equipped to take on the climate crisis. And he can’t help but take a swings at the left. “Don’t think you can ignore politics … You can’t be too pure for it,” he scolded. “It’s part of the process that is going to deliver all of us.”
Plenty of young people did get involved in electoral politics, of course. They knocked on doors and made phone calls for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. He enjoyed the support of 60% of voters under 30, partly for his commitment to a $16.3tn green new deal climate programme.
To hear Obama tell it, if enough people come together to raise awareness about the climate crisis and consume smartly, they will change enough hearts and minds to keep warming below 1.5C. That would be a lot easier if Obama, in his time as leader of the free world, hadn’t made the task so much harder for all those inspiring, passionate young people.