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Mendocino County Today: September 15, 2012

UNFORTUNATELY FOR EVERYONE but the judges and the sight impaired, the only people in the County who want a new County Courthouse, it seems that the new “facility” has been taken off the Maybe Never list and put back on the Probable Likely list.

WHY IS THE AVA OPPOSED? The old Courthouse is perfectly serviceable and is also essential to what's left of central Ukiah's mercantile viability. We also understand, and this is unconfirmed at this point, that the new Courthouse will not be anywhere near large enough to contain all the functions of the courts presently housed in the old Courthouse. Which means, and this is also pure speculation, that a handful of wealthy people have bought, or will buy, surrounding parcels, build office space on them, and lease back this private office space at the usual usurious rates to all the offices presently housed in the middle of town. (The new Courthouse will either be two long blocks south of the present Courthouse or about a mile northeast.)

WHAT WILL THE THING look like? Despite a lot of rah-rah about “award-winning architects” — there being no person over the age of 18 left in this country who couldn't be described as “award-winning” — the new Courthouse will be a very large eyesore along the design lines of the now abandoned Willits Courthouse. Count on that.

ASSEMBLYMAN JARED HUFFMAN has long claimed he was once a member of the USA Volleyball Team of 1987. He wasn't, and Huffman, already anointed as our next Congressman, says it's all “petty politics” that his fudging of his sports history from a quarter century ago is being brought up just to embarrass him. Huffman, however, has now made the true record of his sports prowess much clearer, as in, “Like I wasn't exactly on the team but I worked out with them a lot.”

VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RYAN claimed as a 20-year-old he ran a marathon in just over three hours, a very good time for anyone of any age. (Ahem. The editor of this fine and much beloved newspaper managed to finish three marathons in just under four hours, which isn't too bad given my advanced age at the time.) A 20-year-old ought to be able to cover the 26 miles in under four hours, but this guy not only couldn't do it, he lied about his time.

A READER WRITES: Australian Gun Law Update Here's a thought to warm some of your hearts.... From: Ed Chenel, A police officer in Australia: Hi Yanks, I thought you all would like to see the real figures from Down Under. It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by our own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars. The first year results are now in: Australia-wide, homicides are up 6.2%, Australia-wide, assaults are up 9.6%; Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44% (yes, 44%)! In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300%. Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not
 and criminals still possess their guns! While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady 
decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically
 upward in the past 12 months, since the criminals now are guaranteed 
that their prey is unarmed.
 There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and 
assaults of the elderly, while the resident is at home.

 Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety
 has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was 
expended in 'successfully ridding Australian society of guns.' You
 won't see this on the American evening news or hear your governor or
 members of the State Assembly disseminating this information.

 The Australian experience speaks for itself. Guns in the
 hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control
 laws affect only the law-abiding citizens.

 Take note Americans, before it's too late!
 Will you be one of the sheep to turn yours in? 
Why? You will need it.

WHAT DO YOU CALL a guy who knows forty-eight ways of making love but doesn't know any girls? A consultant.

CHP REPORT: Barbara Jones, 52, of Ukiah was driving her 1999 Kenworth with semi trailer eastbound on Highway 253 a few hundred yards from Highway 101 near Stipp Lane. Ms. Jones slowed to about 25 mph as she approached two bicyclists riding single file along the eastbound edge line of Highway 253. As the bicyclists approached a wide dirt turnout Ms. Jones moved her vehicle to the left and onto the double yellow center lines and slowly started to pass the bicyclists. The first bicyclist (a man) thought the second bicyclist had yelled for him to stop, and he did. The second trailing bicyclist (Madeline Anderson, 21, of Ukiah), wasn't able to stop behind the first bicyclist. So bicyclist Anderson moved to the first bicyclist’s left and up against the right side of Ms. Jones’s semi-trailer. Ms. Anderson then lost her balance and fell to her left and into the path of the sem-trailer’s right rear dual trailer wheels. Those right rear dual wheels then ran over Ms. Anderson’s left leg, knocking her to the ground. Ms. Anderson was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with major injuries.

THE DRIVER of a water tanker was injured after his vehicle drove into a construction zone on Highway 253 and down a hillside. According to the, Ron Levy, 64, of Fort Bragg lost his brakes for an unknown reason while heading eastbound on Highway 253 at around milemarker 13 at about 1:40pm. Levy's two-axle truck hit a parked construction vehicle, then went over the north side of the road and down the embankment about 200 feet. An unknown amount of diesel fuel was spilled and a clean-up crew responded to the scene. Levy was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center for treatment of moderate injuries.

THE BUFFALO FIELD CAMPAIGN is based in West Yellowstone, Montana, and works to protect the last free-ranging wild herd of Buffalo in the United States. These bison fled to the Yellowstone area in the 1800's to escape the mass slaughter that nearly wiped out their species. Sadly, these animals are still subject to harassment, quarantine, and even slaughter at the behest of Montana livestock interests. The Buffalo Field Campaign West Coast Road Show comes to the Mendocino Community Center, 998 School St., Mendocino on Thursday September 27 at 7:00. Music probvided by local singer/ songwriter Chris Skyhawk and Native American singer Goodshield Aguilar, and stories to bring back the wild buffalo from activist Mike Mease. Admission is sliding scale $5-$25, please come and show your support for these iconic animals. — Chris Skyhawk,

The Longest Trail — Saturday September 15, 2012
Rainbow Ag, Ukiah. Sometimes The Longest Trail will lead you where you might not expect to go. After the journey on this trail, you will think you have ridden horseback to the top of the tallest mountain and looked into the vast expanse of space and touched the stars. You will know you have been to a different place and you will wonder why you aren’t saddle sore and dusty. Saturday Sept. 15, 2012 will mark the official release by The Biscuit Press of The Longest Trail, the most recent book from long time Willits resident, Roni McFadden. The event will be at Rainbow Agricultural Services at 235 Perkins Ave, Ukiah at 4:00PM. Come visit with the author, have your book signed and ask questions about her experiences and life on The Longest Trail. Don’t miss this chance to travel to a far different time and place and be back in time for supper. The Longest Trail carries us through a spellbinding new work by local author Roni McFadden. As a young teen McFadden left behind the confusion and pain of her unhappy preteen years and headed up. Here she tells how she went up- up onto horses, up the road to a man who could help her, and up the mountain, to where she could see clearly and breathe deeply. And then up to another place where only some can go. As she travels The Longest Trail, Roni evolves from a girl stumbling along treacherous and twisted paths to become a strong young woman who knows where she is going, how to get there, and understands she will continue to have help along the way. Her route took her over The Longest Trail, through life, until she arrived here, now.
 Spending all of her teen years in the high Sierras riding horses and managing pack trips on horseback, Roni learned about animals, people and life. In the time since then Roni has continued on The Longest Trail, adding the wisdom of another 40 years to her perspective as she recreates those years on the pages of The Longest Trail. As you travel with Roni McFadden in this fascinating book, you will know the joy and fear; the grief and humor; and the beauty and wonder which she experienced in the high country, in Altadena, and all along the way as she journeyed to this time and place by way of The Longest Trail. Roni is also the co-author of Josephine — A Tale of Hope and Happy Endings. Roni’s love of horses has been constantly fed by her work with equine veterinarians for the past 23 years. That work provided the story so sweetly told in this lovely book for children and grownups alike. This book is beautifully illustrated by local artist Sierra Gaston. Josephine is available at some local stores, as well as online and at Books will be available at the Rainbow Ag store.

CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED British guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson will give a solo acoustic performance at Cotton Auditorium, 500 Harold Street, Fort Bragg, Friday, September 28 at 8 p.m. Thompson is one of the most distinctive and iconoclastic virtuosos in rock history. A founding member of the British folk-rock group, Fairport Convention in the '60s, Thompson's phenomenal guitar playing and songwriting has garnered him many honors and awards over the years, including a Grammy nomination in 2011 for his CD "Dream Attic." Rolling Stone Magazine has distinguished Thompson as one of the top 20 "guitarists of all-time," and in Nashville last week, Bonnie Raitt presented Thompson with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the show. Advance tickets can be purchased at All That Good Stuff in Boonville and Doors open at 7 p.m. This concert is a fundraiser for KZYX and the Fort Bragg-Otsuchi Student Exchange Fund. For more information call 937-3180.

PROFILES in Decadent Cowardliness — Two Conventions, by Ralph Nader

The Republican and Democratic Conventions are mercifully over but their corrosive impacts on our democracy persist.

First, did you know that taxpayers helped fund these conventions at a level of $100 million for logistics and police sequestrations of demonstrators in Tampa and Charlotte and an additional $18.2 million each for general convention expenses?

The two party duopoly obviously controls the honey pot in Congress. That corporate welfare is what they enacted in spite of the fact that the party’s convention committees are private corporations that should pay for their own big political party and their many smaller social parties with plentiful food and drink. No third party – Green, Libertarian or others – received any taxpayer money for their conventions this year.

Second, the Republican and Democratic Conventions have jettisoned their original purposes which were to resolve the contest for the presidential nomination and work up a platform. Both functions are now decided beforehand, setting the stage for a choreographed theatrical event of political pomposity and braggadocio. On the periphery are the omnipresent corporate lobbyists and their parties of free food and drink.

Did they ask you the taxpayers to foot so much of this bill? Silly question for an oligarchy greased by a plutocracy.

Taking these conventions at face value, one is shocked by how they are scripted right down to every line of every speech vetted by the politicos. Clint Eastwood’s spontaneity that so angered the GOP operatives was the exception.

The Republicans put three themes in just about every speech. Tell your personal story, recount your humble beginnings, and describe how you pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps. Show the people you’re human or at least humanoid, not corporatist. Keep heralding small business so you don’t have to talk about Big Business which has bad vibrations these days around the country. Also, praise, praise, praise Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as family men with family values. Imagine Republicans telling the press that the convention was to “humanize” Romney and give the voters a warm, fuzzy feeling about their candidate so as to forget that his campaign is a clenched-teeth mouthpiece for Big Business.

The Democratic Convention evokes pity. They too had similar scripts at the podium – narrate your humble, hardworking family lines, talk incessantly about jobs so you won’t have to talk about wages. Especially muzzled was the willing Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, who, since 2009, has been given the back of Obama’s hand on “card check organizing rights” and on an inflation-adjusted minimum wage. His staged remarks even withheld any mention of a $10 minimum wage (See H.R. 5901 bill “Catching up with 1968”) and the raiding of worker pensions by corporate raptors.

The repetitive over-wrought praise of “el Presidente” in every speech became mawkish, reminding one of the “politics of personalism,” present in many countries with underdeveloped political institutions. Michelle Obama found no time for mentioning the Obama family and America’s mission to grow and consume nutritious food and keep fit to avoid the ravages of obesity. She was too occupied gushing over her aggressive drone commander’s touching nightly reading of letters from Americans about their problems.

The mass obeisance ended when the commander-in-chief himself sprung onto the stage to speak the language of hope, meanwhile avoiding addressing the number of undesirable conditions that need his attention at this singular opportunity.

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, trying to be sympathetic, was looking for some significant specificity:

“What I was mostly looking for were big proposals, big as health care was four years ago. I had spent the three previous days watching more than 80 convention speeches without hearing a single major policy proposal in any of them. I asked governors, mayors and legislators to name a significant law that they’d like to see Obama pass in a second term. Not one could. At its base, this is a party with a protective agenda, not a change agenda…”

Fortifying Brooks’ observation was Obama’s recounting of the differences between the Democrats and Republicans. They are almost all defensive in nature. Defend social security, Medicare, and abortion from the Republican offensive. The Democrats are not on the offensive – getting tough on: corporate crime, consumer gouging, bank abuses, corporate tax avoidance and evasions. They are not on the offensive fighting for worker’s safety and labor rights or minimum wage increases or helping the poor earn more and pay less.

Even when Obama mentioned climate change – a recent no-no in the Democrat’s lexicon – his words were defensive, namely “climate change is not a hoax” he did not elaborate.

This defensive attitude against the cruelest, most ignorant corporate-indentured, anti-worker, war mongering Republican Party in history is also seen in the debates and programs of Democratic Congressional and state candidates.

Being on the offense with an agenda standing for and with the people who economically are being driven, along with their country, into the ground by unpatriotic global corporations and their political minions, should be easy. Unless, that is, the Democrats want to continue dialing for the same corporate campaign dollars.

Playing defense explains why veteran Democrat members of the House of Representatives tell me that the party is going to lose the House again to the likes of John Boehner and Eric Cantor. The Democrats cannot even defend the country from Republicans who think Ronald Reagan was too moderate and unelectable today.

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.)

One Comment

  1. chewsome September 15, 2012

    “(The new Courthouse will either be two long blocks south of the present Courthouse or about a mile northeast.)”

    Ah… err… please check your compass or GPS at the front desk, something with the directions is upside down or inside out and be sure to flush twice… darn haywire.

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