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Mendocino County Today: October 4, 2013

MENDO PEOPLE TALK ABOUT OBAMACARE: “I went to, punched in some basic info on their 'shop and compare' page, and discovered that my family will most likely qualify for Medi-Cal come 2014. So hooray for that. This is no doubt a result of the ACA's slight expansion of Medicaid here in California. Previously, we made too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but too little to afford private insurance, so our family has been among the great uninsured for many years. We'll have to look into the details in the coming months to find out if Medi-Cal will actually work for us, but in the meantime, and on a personal level, I do appreciate the idea of gaining this option. (Note: in many of our more retarded sister states, like Texas, Republican legislators, with an assist from the Supreme Court, have rejected participating in any expansion of Medicaid. All you Red State people better wake up soon, before these predators legislate you right out of existence.) In the broader context, my wife and I were extremely disappointed with the handling and results of the political 'healthcare reform' scam of 2009. Trying to force people to purchase for-profit insurance is not the right answer. It will not bring healthcare costs down to any reasonable level and it will never cover everyone. So now we have a mandatory ever-so-slightly-less overpriced, inefficient, cruel and unjust system. Until enough Americans insist on a comprehensive National Healthcare program (such as HR 676) we will all continue to suffer.”

OBAMACARE. This young family is quite fortunate: “To be honest, my wife has really good coverage (we're all on it now) and I don't anticipate any issues. I suppose when more people have access to primary care / other physicians, it could be tougher to get in for an appointment. Not sure how that's going to pan out, though.”

RE OBAMACARE, another local family explains: “We are kind of ignoring it in a way too by just waiting to see what happens. There is so much I don't understand or maybe I don't want to understand. This country needs socialized medicine but not ObamaCare. I really don't know how the rest of the working poor are going to be able to afford it. We have been covered on the Healthy Families/Partnership of CA for many years due to our income — my husband is seasonal worker and I work three PT jobs without benefits. Healthy Families saved our bacon when my son had his knee surgery, and other follow up care. However, we never qualify during the summer months when my husband is working so we have to reapply every winter. We literally hold our breath in the summer hoping nothing happens. I relive the day of my son's injury and think two things: 1) why did this have to happen my kid, especially in his senior year? 2) thank God it happened in November when we were covered! I guess if he could've picked a good time to get hurt, he picked the best time. Now that both my sons are over 18, it's getting a little dicey. One is now 19 and they basically kicked him off of the plan and he is receiving CMSP — a very basic single adult plan through the county. He still sees his knee doc and they haven't sent people with bats to our house for payment yet so I'm assuming that they are covering it. My other son turned 18 last week and is a student at Mendocino College but he is still living at home. I am expecting a letter any day placing him on the same plan as my older boy but disqualifying my husband and me since we no longer have any minor children in the household. I honestly don't know what we're going to do. I'm a diabetic and I get my medications at the local clinic at an affordable price. So far I've been able to control my sugars without going on insulin but if I do have to go on insulin I don't know how we can pay for it. Essentially we are supporting two households with one son living in Santa Rosa and going to college there. So another monthly bill is out of the question.”

HONEST ABE talks about secession following his election in 1860: “My dear Sir— Yours of the 6th is received. I answer it only because I fear you would misconstrue my silence. What is our present condition? We have just carried an election on principles fairly stated to the people. Now we are told in advance, the government shall be broken up, unless we surrender to those we have beaten, before we take the offices. In this they are either attempting to play upon us, or they are in dead earnest. Either way, if we surrender, it is the end of us, and of the government. They will repeat the experiment upon us ad libitum. A year will not pass, till we shall have to take Cuba as a condition upon which they will stay in the Union. They now have the Constitution, under which we have lived over 70 years, and acts of Congress of their own framing, with no prospect of their being changed; and they can never have a more shallow pretext for breaking up the government, or extorting a compromise, than now. There is, in my judgment, but one compromise which would really settle the slavery question, and that would be a prohibition against acquiring any more territory. Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.”

WHICH BRINGS us to what James Fallows calls “False Equivalency,” the reigning misconception of corporate media's editorial writers on down to that annoyingly lazy cliché you hear all the time, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” To say that Congress, the whole show, is responsible for the current shutdown of the federal government is not true. The shutdown is the work of a minority of Republicans who want to roll back ObamaCare, which is already law, already argued and voted on. Everyone else in Congress, including the saner Republicans, recognize that fact. So, as Orwell famously pointed out, “There is truth and untruth, and so long as you know the diff you aren't nuts.” The Republicans responsible for shutting down the government aren't nuts in any clinical sense but they are terminally cynical and, of course, represent backwards and really, really, really dumb areas of the country. To stay in Congress they must “represent” their constituents even if it means bringing down our ever more precarious economy.

YOU CAN'T EVEN say the enemy is all of US because less than half of Americans eligible to vote even bother.

HERE IN ENLIGHTENED Mendoland, ground zero of rural progressives, cough-cough, there is a pwog consensus that ObamaCare is a giant step forward. It isn't. The best thing that can happen with ObamaCare, apart from MediCal's expansion to include struggling individuals and families, is that it might lead quickly to single-payer when it's obvious that ObamaCare is simply another great gift to the private industrial-medical complex. Broadly speaking, you can say that Congress as a whole, out of its usual deference to the wealth and privilege it is funded by, and serves almost exclusively, is that all of Congress is collectively responsible for ObamaCare, a huge, unworkable mess. They let the insurance combines and pharmaceutical corporations write ObamaCare and they, Congress, passed it into law. But this specific crisis, this particular shutdown of the federal government, is the work of a minority of Republican congressmen, not all of Congress. So when you hear on NPR the false equivalence that “Congress just can't seem to agree” you are being misled. There's truth and untruth here, and the truth is a relatively few Congress people representing America's incest districts are responsible for the shutdown.

ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY: There's been a lot of talk on-line about “socialized medicine” and now, as the implementation of Obamacare gets under way, Obama haters are doing everything they can to spread their typical fear and loathing about how America is headed toward certain doom because, with this cursed Obamacare, we have now embraced the evils of “socialized medicine.” I only wish. 

The Affordable Care Act is not even close to being “socialized medicine.” 

Under ACA, your premiums are paid to an insurance company, which is a private enterprise — not to the government. The doctors and other health care professionals who treat you are not government employees. The clinics and hospitals you would visit are private enterprises and are not government institutions. 

There's a world of difference between the health care systems of the US under ACA and say, England's or Canada's socialized systems.

 When people can no longer enrich themselves at the expense of another's misfortune — when the profit motive is removed and when a person can be healthy even if he's not rich; when a person can see a doctor or visit a hospital to have his life threatening cancer or his serious heart ailment treated or his broken leg set and never receive a bill for any of it — that's a pretty good thing.

 That's the way it's been in Canada since they passed the Canada Health Act of 1984. 

Check this out: “Canadians strongly support the health system's public rather than for-profit private basis, and a 2009 poll by Nanos Research found 86.2% of Canadians surveyed supported or strongly supported ‘public solutions to make our public health care stronger’.” A Strategic Counsel survey found 91% of Canadians prefer their healthcare system instead of a US style system. Plus 70% of Canadians rated their system as working either “well” or “very well.” When it's actually you and it's your health and maybe even your life that we're talking about (instead of some abstract, anomalous political pejorative) “socialized medicine” has a lot going for it.

 Maybe someday we'll be lucky enough to see it here in the United States.



ON OCTOBER 2, 2013 at about 10:52pm, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies initiated a traffic enforcement stop on a motorcycle for no license plate near the intersection of Boice Lane and North Highway 1 in Fort Bragg. Deputies contacted the driver, Taylor Haymes, 29, of Fort Bragg, who was found to be on active County probation with a probation term that he submit to search and seizure. Deputies conducted a probation search and located a small plastic bag containing a substance that field tested presumptive positive for amphetamine. Haynes was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and violation of probation and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on $10,000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)


UGLY INCIDENT in Redway Tuesday afternoon, as told to Kym Kemp of the always excellent on-line HumCo newspaper, Lost Coast Outpost. In the words of Sgt. Ken Swithenbank of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, “Some of the local youths chased a crowd of transients from in front of the liquor store with makeshift clubs….. Apparently more than one transient was struck, however no serious injuries were reported. None of the apparent victims wanted to give their names or officially report the incident to law enforcement.”

KYM KEMP takes it from there: “According to Elaine Olivas, who works in the deli of the Redway Liquor Store, the first she knew of the incident, ‘At least 6 or 7 initially of the traveler guys came running in to the store to call police.’ She said that they claimed that a man was being beaten with a bat. She allowed them to use her phone to call for help. ‘As tired as I am of the homeless and I do want them run out of the town,… this was excessive. The night before there were beer bottles thrown out of vehicle and a [homeless] man got injured.’ She said that after the ‘traveler guys’ came in to the store, the fight ‘started drawing a crowd — people started coming out of the bushes.’ After the police showed up, she said, then things seemed to calm down. But according to Sgt. Swithenbank, ‘There was another altercation about a half hour later where one of the locals was cut on the hand. Word was it was from a knife but it was never 100% verified. Tensions are high,’ Swithenbank says. KMUD planned to air interviews with witnesses on their Thursday night newscast. According to their Facebook site, ‘A group of people were attacked in broad daylight in Redway yesterday, we’ll hear from people who were there and say the random attackers were targeting homeless and telling them to leave town or else!’”

READING THE FERVID COMMENT LINES of HumCo's newspapers, and as Kym Kemp confirms, there is growing public support for vigilante action against “transients” who, in Humboldt County, seem to settle in for long stays, many of them attracted by the golden mirage of quick and easy money to be made in the marijuana industry. “Transients” of course is an elastic term that can include the mentally ill, the mentally challenged, the generally incompetent, scruffy individuals simply moving through, the homeless but trying, neo-bums, drunks, drug addicts, and even the fashionably grungy in the leathers and nose-ringed sense. But the cops have to grab vigilantes quickly, and Gallegos, the HumCo DA has to max them out. Ten years ago, a Garberville gang of whoevers beat a homeless guy to death. I'm guessing here, but I'll bet Tuesday's mini-mob of baseball bat fascists are former high school football players and miscellaneous “tough guys” who are strictly mob-action tough, the kind of people America used to see in lynch mobs. Now that there are more “transients” roaming the land than at any time since The Great Depression, and considering that Humboldt County has a large number of them in Garberville-Redway, Arcata and Eureka, on top of a large population of persons addicted to hard drugs, well, factor in angry public opinion and overwhelmed police departments, a bad harvest moon is rising over the Emerald Triangle this dope season.


LAURA MERRILL LEVY wrote last week: “Hi, I grew up in Mendocino and went to high school with Brian Tyrrell. Brian was killed and found in or near Montgomery Woods in the late 1980s. I see your paper coverd a lot of cold cases but I can't find any information on Brian's case. I don't believe it was ever solved. The case doesn't appear on the Mendocino County Sheriff’s website and isn't ever referenced. Do you have any information about the case? Thanks, Laura.”

DETECTIVE ANDY WHITEACRE of the MCSO told us he would investigate, and he promptly did, finding that the unfortunate Mr. Tyrrell died of hypothermia, not foul play.


POLLY KLASS, the little Petaluma girl kidnapped from her home in Petaluma and raped and murdered by Richard Allen Davis, would be in her thirties now. Her horrifying fate was in the national news last week on the anniversary of her death, a death that still shocks and dismays everyone in the country. The kidnapping and violation of a child is horrendous enough, but when a child is taken from her home in the middle of the night, the horror is multiplied. What was largely left out of the stories of the child's murder when we all learned how it had happened and who was responsible, was how the police of two counties bungled things to make the girl's death inevitable. Davis, a Native American with relatives living on the Coyote rez north of Ukiah, had stayed at Coyote off and on since his release from state prison. During one of those visits to the Ukiah area shortly before he kidnapped and murdered Polly Klass, Davis was arrested by the CHP for drunk driving and held briefly at the Mendocino County Jail from where he was soon released as if he were just one more drunk. At the time, the Mendo jail was breaking in a new computer system; jail personnel were still learning how to use it. They didn't know that Davis was on parole. If they had known Davis's parole status he would have been returned to San Quentin. As it was, he drifted back to Petaluma, apparently stalked the child and her mother, and soon took the girl from her home where she slept. A few hours later, Sonoma County deputies encountered Davis in the hills of a rural Santa Rosa neighborhood where he had zero business being. He'd gotten his car stuck, he said. The deputies called his vehicle plates in, but the technology of time failed to reveal that Davis himself was a convicted criminal. Davis was allowed to go on his way. Polly Klass, it is believed, was still alive, hidden in the brush near Davis's vehicle. A month later her remains were found just south of Cloverdale.


A READER WRITES: Regarding your item that the County can safely grant raises: As someone who follows local government, I was surprised to see you endorsing a 3-5% wage increase for the county employees. In the next breath you say that county revenues are still down. If the county payroll is $100 million then every 1% pay increase costs about $1 million. At that rate, a 3-5% pay increase without knowing where the money is coming from would soon put the county back in a deficit even before the next financial crisis hits. And the next financial crisis is only a matter of when, not if.” We agree the county remains on thin ice financially, but with the recent increase in county reserves, and the improved credit rating that has just been reported, it’s time for the county to start having a conversation about what can be done for the employees. If not an immediate pay increase, at least some portion of the increased reserves could be set aside for a year end bonus. Besides, nowhere near $100 million would come out of the County’s precarious general fund. That’s why it’s so frustrating that the union’s “leadership” hasn’t done the basic math on what a raise would cost and where it would come from.


ANOTHER READER WONDERS: Almost a million non-essential [federal] government employees were let go. Well, isn't that the problem, that there's that many non-essential employees?


JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES: Looting Our Public Pensions -- On KZYX, Friday, Oct 4 @ 9 am

With the looming bankruptcy of Detroit's pension system in the news, “All About Money” returns to KZYX on Friday, October 4, at 9am, Pacific Time, with a special edition show on the crisis in public pensions. Our first guest is Isiah J. Poole, editor of Our second guest is Lynn Parramore, senior editor at AlterNet. KZYX broadcasts can be heard live at 88.1, 90.7, and 91.5 FM in the Counties of Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, and Sonoma in northern California. We also stream live from the web at Listener call-in number is: (707) 895-2448. Questions can also be emailed before the show to:



BACKGROUND: A Sacramento man suspected of holding three men captive in a Fort Bragg apartment and torturing them for three days is due in Mendocino County Superior Court Tuesday for his trial. Shawn M. Lane, 24, faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse resulting in great bodily injury, false imprisonment, animal cruelty, making threats and failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge. Jury selection begins Monday. The prosecution and defense attorneys are expected to make opening statements Tuesday morning, and the jury should begin hearing witness statements the same day. The trial is expected to last four or five days, according to prosecutor Tim Stoen of the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office. Andrew Higgins of the Mendocino County Public Defender's Office represents Lane. They spoke with a 24-year-old Redwood Valley man who said he'd been beaten and held against his will for three days in an apartment, where he reported being hit with a wooden stick, a cane and a metal thermos, according to the FBPD. The man had bruises and small cuts, but refused medical treatment. Officers learned hat the suspect, identified as Shawn Lane, 24, was still in the apartment with two other people and served a search warrant. They spoke with Lane and two men, both of whom were allegedly being held there against their will. Both men, one of whom was 65 years old, reported that Lane had physically and mentally abused them. Officers found that Lane had an outstanding arrest warrant from Sacramento for custody time owed in an elder abuse case, according to the FBPD. Officers also learned during follow-up interviews that Lane had allegedly killed a cat in the apartment in front of all three men. The cat's remains were found buried a block from the apartment, according to the FBPD. A Mendocino County District Attorney's Office investigator assisted in the case. Lane is held at the Mendocino County Jail under $125,000 bail.

UPDATE: The Sacramento man, Mr. Lane, was found guilty Wednesay morning by a Mendocino County jury in the torture case.



On August 27, 2013, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint an ad hoc committee consisting of Supervisors McCowen and Hamburg to meet with members of the public and staff to research and resolve outstanding issues related to possible development of a Clean Energy Program in Mendocino County. The ad hoc is directed to return with an update to the full Board within 60 days of the appointment.

The committee met with County staff and various public representatives for the first time on September 19, 2013. The next scheduled meeting of the ad hoc is October 10, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will take place in the Farm Advisor’s Conference Room, located at 890 N. Bush Street, Ukiah.

— Carmel J. Angelo, Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer


INLAND MENDO PLAYS MUSICAL PONDS — aka “water, everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it” (except Johnny Pinches — if his proposal to change the relationship between Mendo and Sonoma counties regarding water works there would actually be some water to talk about.)

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED to attend the upcoming Water Forum “Water in the Ukiah Valley — A Community Conversation.” Sponsored by the Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission, the forum will be held on October 23rd at the Alex Rorabaugh Center. Refer to the attached flyer for details. We look forward to your involvement and participation. — Cordially, The Commission and Staff of Mendocino LAFCo



National Fire Prevention Week October 6 — 12, 2013

In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit is opening its fire stations to the public on Saturday October 12, 2013 from 10am — 2pm. You are invited to bring your family to any of our stations within the county and have a tour of the station and see how our firefighters live and work while on duty. Fire trucks and fire fighting equipment will be on display and firefighters will be available to answer any of your questions. Information on this year’s national theme, “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” will be available.

This is a great opportunity to meet some of our local firefighters and let them help you better protect your family. The “burn suspension” has been lifted but permits are needed and the public can pick up a burn permit while visiting the stations. Unit Chief Christopher Rowney wants to remind the public that permits are still needed until “Fire Season” is formally cancelled, when fuel and weather conditions are appropriate.

CAL FIRE Woodlands Fire Station will be participating in Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department’s “Open House” at Mendocino Fire Station located at 44700 Little Lake Road, Mendocino.

Visit the Fire Prevention Week website,, for safety tips, statistical information, and more.

Protect Your Family From Fire.

A LOCAL MAN went to the eyesore CDF bunker-station southeast of Boonville last week to get a burn permit only to discover that the new high-security facility complete with chainlink fencing and razor wire was empty, no one was there. The man took a quick tour around the unlocked, open buildings noting all the fancy new outfitting including a beautiful new kitchen and how easy it would be to load it up on a flatbed and then left, assuming he’d have to come back when someone was there to provide the burn permit.



by Larry Bensky

Every time Alex Rodriquez, the scandal and injury prone New York Yankees third baseman, dragged his wooden club to home plate last year, he was paid about $50,000 to do so. Every time a pitcher threw to him, that pitch resulted in about $8,000 spent on Rodriguez by the Yankees. For every time (about three in ten) that his at-bats produced a hit, that achievement was worth….$172,000.

His Yankee teammate, Robinson Cano, a five-time all-star, now wants to get out of Rodriguez’s low-rent district. He’s reportedly (at the age of 30) asking for a ten year contract for $310 million, about double what Rodriguez gets.

But such statistics — indeed almost any statistics — will not be on very many minds when the Major League baseball playoffs open in a few days.

Instead, millions of people will try to focus on the game. Or what those millions, most of them, consider to be the game: a sanitized, partially visible even that will come to them on a screen, a few miles or half a globe away from the action itself. Which is a great shame. Because if you know baseball, you know you have to be there.

On TV you usually can see only a tiny piece of the field, two or three players and an umpire. You have little idea of things like how a defense is set up. How big a lead baserunners might have. What status in their warmups bullpen pitchers may have reached. Who’s doing what in the dugout.

What you get instead is the cute and cuddly pictures. Hey, how old is that baby in team colors? How drunk are those babes holding up crude signs? How anguished does the manager look? Who has made it into the broadcast booth to have his ass kissed by the announcers, who are kissing whose ass in return?

Increasingly, the visual and verbal pollution have become unbearable. Even the lofty NY Times, not exactly a Marxist deconstructor of capitalist paradigms, recently thought fit to print a column of outrageous piece-by-piece analyses of how almost everything shown and said during a Yankees game was “brought to you by” some irrelevant corporate parasite (“The last walk was brought to you by Scufflefleisher Shoes, your key to comfortable locomotion!”)

All of the announcer/analysts show-biz chuckle-chuckle and advertising-based babble (including endless “promotions” for the team that has hired them) tend to overshadow, indeed often preclude description of, what players are doing. Much less how and why they’re doing it.

Which bring us to the upcoming playoffs. In which the A’s are unlikely presence, much less likely to win than the Red Sox or Dodgers, among others. But first a word about the players themselves.

If one wants to, one can find out quite a bit about them, statistically. As real human beings, as opposed to entertainment industry pawns, not so much.

For decades now, young men who get into profes­sional baseball have been raised as young men who might get into professional baseball. Meaning they get expert, often obsessional, coaching starting at a very young age. Their education is usually far behind their athletic development. Most who manage to attend college drop out before graduating, so as to not risk injury (especially pitchers) or “waste” years of earning potential. Hundreds of thousands play at some level. About 800 make it into the “big leagues.”

African-American players, now fewer than one in ten, these days tend to have the same class privileges as white players. The devastation of black community edu­cation institutions has affected sports facilities which require space and upkeep, so the smaller percentage of major league black players tend not to be inner city resi­dents. Latinos, on the other hand — about three out of ten major league players are Spanish speaking — tend to be from very poor backgrounds outside the US, and are susceptible to even more than the usual exploitations by agents and substance purveyors.

Whatever their backgrounds, they all watch TV sports programs, and learn to emulate the aw-shucks, low key personalities of the game’s best players. Among themselves they may be spirited, combative, funny. In public, dress your personality (even if long haired and bearded) in a suit and tie is the rule. And make sure your wife/girlfriend follows. As for boyfriends, not nearly yet.

What players have in common is what they’re required to do in order to succeed. This requires physical talents well beyond normal — you try even seeing, much less solidly hitting something thrown at you at 95mph from about 55 feet away. Or throwing something at a small target at that speed from the same distance and hitting that target effectively. Or making a split second, a very split second, decision whether something is coming at you at 95 or 75mph, and whether it’s being thrown at you in a straight trajectory, or with a “break.” Or which way to run to try to catch something that’s been launched 300 or so feet away in varying arcs, under lighting conditions ranging from straight-on sunlight to rainy drizzle night. You need a preternatural ability to focus on, develop, and use those abilities. Following fan noise, twitter gab, on-line, on-TV or on-paper punditry is a useless distraction. Players are aware that millions of people “follow” what they’re doing; most have media advisers/trainers/counselors who try to get them to realize that. None of that peripheral stuff really matters very often. A baseball player who requires a stadium full of screaming people, or a Facebook page filled with “friends” to inspire him is not usually going to last very long as a player at the major league level.

He certainly wouldn’t last very long with the A’s. That they have a shot at getting into, even winning, the World Series, as a typical A’s collection of solid, mid-level players with brilliant administrative and managerial work backing them up, is miraculous. Only three or four players, out of a 25-40 player roster qualify as outstanding: Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Bartolo Colon., and maybe Brandon Moss. On a second tier, there are those with good offensive capabilities, but weak on defense: Alberto Callaspo, Jed Lowrie, and Yoenis Cespedes. Then there are some who are good defensively, like Josh Reddick, Chris Young, and Eric Sogard, but haven’t hit well. And a whole bunch of other, interchangeable players who usually will neither help or disgrace the team.

Almost all the players, whatever their skill sets, are present because of management’s belief in two simple strategies. Working long at-bats, which tire the opposition’s pitching staff. And having left-handed batters face right-handed pitchers, and vice-versa (three of the A’s regular starters are switch-hitters, meaning that only 4-5 more lefties or righties are needed to stack such a lineup.)

But pitching is really where games are won and lost most frequently. And here again the A’s have a few simple strategies. Don’t walk people. Use all your strength to get through 6-7 innings, with around 100 pitches. Have three guys be ready for innings 7-8-9. Here, again, management has been brilliant. Having players like Sonny Gray, Dan Otero, and Jesse Chavez ready for major league work midway in a competitive season shows how good the organization’s coaching and management consistently are. For them to go far in post-season, however, two young and inexperienced pitchers, A.J. Griffin and Jerrod Parker, are going to have to show they haven’t been worn out by 200 + inning seasons. Tommy Milone and Dan Straily are going to have to get much more consistent. Brett Anderson may have to prove he’s 100% back after having missed a big percentage of the season. And Grant Balfour is going to have to find a way to not make the ends of games a worrisome adventure. That’s a lot to ask. Could happen. So could first round elimination.

“Following” such a team can be fun. But it requires patience and a certain amount of stoicism. Half the year they left so many runners on base it was ludicrous. Then they began to hit prodigious amounts of home runs. (Leading, of course, to suspicions of another substance abuse syndrome.) All three “closing” pitchers were sometimes lights out, sometimes watch out. They almost never bunt and hardly ever steal, though many of their players have the skills to do both.

And, of course, they play in a gloomy, usually half empty stadium, ridiculously expensive to drive to ($18 for parking), crowded and late-night cold by train. Food and beer are seriously boring and expensive; decent seats cost a lot, too. A group of 4 people can easily drop $200 or more per visit, which may be why the stands are usually sparsely populated, although 1.8 million admissions isn’t nothing. The owners are in the embarrassing position of claiming that Oakland can’t support major league baseball, and the team needs to move to Fremont or San Jose as part of a real estate bonanza. But what little reliable information exists (the finances of baseball are secretive, with huge profits deriving from tax breaks, subsidized stadiums etc.) shows that quite a bit of money is being made annually. Perhaps $10-$20 million a year. Plus the owners are sitting on an estimated resale value triple or more the $150 million they paid to buy the team in 2005.

None of this matters, of course, to almost anyone while watching a game. Being there is mostly about being a part of a culture. People in the stands tend to be, or think themselves to be, knowledgeable if not expert. They’re often rewarding to talk to, or to overhear. While at the game, they tune out the drivel/drone of meaningless statistics and lachrymose memories peddled by radio and TV announcers. They show a lot of spirit, and joy, and rarely are angry.

They’re into baseball. Whose nature, and beauty, can be subtle, undeniable, unpredictable, and complex. A lot of pop philosophy and psychology has been written about it, including the words of one admirer who, like a lot of us, played in his youth, and never lost his attachment to the sport, even while spending a lifetime as an elected official.

“Baseball is different from other games. Its strength is inherent, metaphysical. First, because the game has a singular and distinctive relationship to time. Only baseball, among all games, can be called a “pastime.” For baseball is above or outside time.... An inning theoretically can go on forever. The same is true of the game. Interruptions are generally limited to acts of God, such as darkness or rain, or to cultural, religious and quasi-natural occurrences such as curfew or midnight...Baseball is also played in a unique spatial frame. Other games are restricted to limited, defined areas, rectangular or near rectangular, floors or rinks. Not so baseball. Baseball is played within the lines of a projection from home plate, starting from the point out 90 degrees and extending to infinity. Were it not for the intervention of fences, buildings, mountains, and other obstacles in space, a baseball traveling within the ultimate projection of the first and third baselines could be fair and fully and infinitely in play.” — Eugene McCarthy (US Senator, D-Minn., 1958-1970, presidential candidate, 1968, 1972.)

Go A’s!

(Larry Bensky, who grew up in Brooklyn an avid Dodger fan, attended his first major league baseball game in 1946. He played hardball and softball recreationally for 40 years.



Wake Up America!

by Ralph Nader

SHUTDOWN — blared the Washington Post headline. None of the powers-that-be could stop a small faction of Republicans in the House of Representatives from shutting down many federal government operations starting on October 1.

Suddenly the powerful Business Roundtable and US Chamber of Commerce are powerless, along with 200 corporate trade associations, who see Uncle Sam as their big customer. Suddenly, the Republican dominated National Governors Association, together with Mitt Romney, the Party’s presidential nominee in 2013, are powerless. Also powerless so far are the allegedly sovereign people who want uninterrupted safety inspections, enforcement of labor and environmental laws, children’s nutrition and educational programs (like Head Start), student loan processing, veterans benefits, detection of epidemics, access to national parks, and inspections of nuclear power plants.

All of the above want the federal government to stay open. Most of them do not want to see 800,000 federal workers (out of two million) furloughed. It doesn’t matter to House Republicans. About 35 to 40 obscure, foot-stomping Republicans have scared the easily frightened House Speaker, John Boehner, and his curled-lip deputy, Rep. Eric Cantor, into doing what no foreign enemy since the British burned Washington in 1812 has been able to do. This cohort, representing the most cruel, ignorant, narcissistic Republicans in the Party’s history, has closed down much of the national government.

Usually lapdogs for big business or business lobbies back in their one-party dominated Congressional Districts, this small echo chamber in the House, assisted by some of their ilk in the Senate, have become “mad dogs.” These “mad dogs” do not obey their owners, they embarrass them and make our tepid economic recovery shudder. They shake foreign allies’ confidence in the super-power, whose lawless military Empire budgets are mostly untouched by the shutdown.

To make matters more calamitous, these “mad dogs” are also attempting to block the increase in the nation’s debt ceiling later this month that is necessary to pay for bills already incurred. Just the rhetoric by these ideologically inebriated Republicans is giving the stock marketers and the big business barons nightmares.

The ostensible reason for these “mad dogs” frothing at the mouth is Obamacare, or what is euphemistically called the Affordable Care Act, which does little to control the drug, hospital and insurance industry’s prices. These congressional canines bark daily that the American people are against “big government” Obamacare. They fail to point out that a solid segment in the polls consists of Americans who oppose Obamacare because they want full Medicare for all, or what is called single-payer — a far more efficient, accessible, cheaper and simpler system with better outcomes and opportunities for disease and injury prevention. Under single-payer, everybody is in, nobody is out, with free choice of doctor and hospital. (Visit

Why is this Republican faction — a minority in its own Party — so extortionately against Obamacare that they would shut the government down? The answer is simple: Obama. They do not like him. Moreover, these Congressional “mad dogs,” well paid and insured by taxpayers, prefer the present “pay-or-die” gouging marketplace that, according to a peer-reviewed study by Harvard Medical School researchers, takes the lives of 800 Americans each week who cannot afford health insurance to be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner (

The question remains: Why have all these power brokers suddenly become powerless, including all the business lobbies? One explanation is that hyped-up Tea Party activists can threaten primaries against moderate Republicans. In addition these “mad dogs” are in a feeding frenzy and cannot see any reality beyond their pack.

Most puzzling are the allegedly sovereign people, including federal employees, their families and the millions of workers around the country who extend or rely on federal operations. True, there are a few scattered protests around the country. In France, were the Parliament to shut down the government, the French would likely sack the Parliament. In Washington DC, the press reported an “eerie silence,” before and after midnight struck on September 30. And they might have added — around the country.
 How can this not embolden the “mad dogs” further?

It is one thing for America to be a nation of sheep, controlled by the multinational corporate supremacists who have no allegiance to our country other than to control it and ship jobs and industries to repressive regimes abroad. It is quite another matter altogether to be sheep led by “mad dogs” from uncompetitive Districts, whose sheepish voters brought them to Congress where they are exercising their slash and burn plundering.

Who is in charge here? Our Constitution opens with the words “We the People,” not “We the Congress” or “We the Corporations.” That is why people are deemed sovereign.

That sovereignty is in our hands only if we exercise it and challenge our wayward politicians. Time again for that oft-repeated but ignored cliché: Wake up America! (Easy first step — the Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121 or find your member of Congress’s email address at Tell Congress they are putting their own jobs at risk by allowing the shutdown to continue.

(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.)


  1. October 4, 2013

    An absolute necessity in watching post-season baseball is to turn the sound on your TV off. The motormouthed morons encountered there are laughable.
    This year TBS has introduced the pitch by pitch zapotron or whatever that takes about a third of the screen.
    I hope they don’t have all the games tied up.
    I am hoping for an A’s Dodgers series.
    Jim ArmstrongPV

  2. Pam Partee October 4, 2013

    According to figures that are publicly posted on the Executive Office’s website for May 2010,, the 10% salary reduction for all employees costed out in 2010 at $4.7M, and for SEIU represented line staff at $1.7M. That was before staff was reduced by 1/3. SEIU’s recent proposal was for 10% wage restoration over 3 years, starting at 3% in January 2014. Keep in mind that two-thirds of the line staff represented by SEIU are paid out of State/Federal funds, that $2.5M was returned to the State last year for unused service administration, and that this is the largest, least paid county employee group with the fewest benefits. Lower paid position line workers are having to struggle locally, while experienced line workers have left for better pay found almost anywhere;. I think the AVA could address the problem of keeping our county line workers rather than maligning their representation.

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