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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, June 18, 2014

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GOOD NEWS from the First Appellate District Court. Mendo Superior Court judge Ann Moorman's 2012 ruling that state rules disallowing vineyard owners to help themselves to the Russian River and its tributaries for frost protection were invalid has been reversed. The growers had packed the judge's courtroom to whine that the state rules, designed to protect the few fish left in the river, were too onerous.

ALTHOUGH the state had allowed vineyard owners to essentially write their own plans for taking the water, the local wine industry, with typical arrogance, demanded no interference, arguing, basically, that they were responsible people who could be trusted to protect the river despite several spring fish kills for lack of water when numerous vineyard people all pumped at once on frost mornings.

THERE ARE ROUGHLY 60,000 acres of vineyards in the Russian River watershed, of which better than two-thirds are planted within 300 feet of salmonid habitat.

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ASKED ABOUT THE STRETCH of rough road between Boonville and Philo, CalTrans' inimitable Phil Frisbie replied: "Hello Bruce, I appreciate every opportunity to answer questions about non-bypass issues :) Caltrans ground off the top layer of asphalt along 128 between Philo and Boonville because it was failing and we received a number of public complaints about the ruts collecting water when it was raining. We have done the same thing along 101 just south of Hopland and on 20 in Nice while waiting for paving projects. We have a paving project scheduled for next summer, but we are currently working to expedite it for late this summer. The project must get past environmental review, then go out to bid and be awarded, and if it is not too late in the season it may be repaved this year. Let me know if there is anything else I can help with. Sincerely, Phil Frisbie, Jr. Public Information Officer for Lake and Mendocino Counties, Web Content Administrator Caltrans District 1"

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ON JUNE 14, 2014 at about 6:48pm Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were summoned to a residence in the 32000 block of Pearl Drive in Fort Bragg, California regarding a physical fight between a male and female. Upon arrival Deputies contacted Susan Brown, 50, of Fort Bragg, at the residence and located an adult male a few hundred yards west of the residence on Pearl Drive. Deputies learned Brown and the adult male were involved in a dating relationship. The adult male arrived at the residence earlier in the evening to obtain some personal belongings. While at the residence both individuals became involved in a heated argument. It was alleged the adult male had assaulted Brown by striking her in the head with the palm of his hand. It was reported Brown then obtained a folding pocket knife and attempted to stab the adult male repeated times. The adult male received minor injuries from Brown’s alleged knife assault however Deputies observed a healing injury on his right leg, which he claimed was from Brown stabbing him with the same pocket knife a few weeks earlier. During the investigation Deputies observed Brown to be intoxicated and further determined she was the primary aggressor of the domestic violence incident. Brown was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and probation violation and transported to the Mendocino County Jail to be held in lieu of $35,000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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KPIX TV, The Maze — Haight Ashbury (1967)

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JEFF COSTELLO points out that the original Mack the Knife lyrics had the bite that later translations didn't:

(Original lyrics, from Weill/Brecht's "Three Penny Opera":

The Ballad of Mack the Knife/ "Moritat" - original lyrics

(Trans. from German by John Willett):


See the shark has teeth like razors

All can read his open face

And Macheath has got a knife, but

Not in such an obvious place


On a beautiful blue Sunday,

See a corpse stretched on the Strand

See a man dodge around the corner...

Mackie's friend's will understand.


And Schul Meier who is missing

Like so many wealthy men:

Mack the knife aquired his cashbox

God alone knows how or when


Jenny Tyler turned up lately

With a knife stuck in her breast

While Macheath walked the embankment,

Nonchalantly unimpressed


Where is Alfred Gleet the cabman?

Who can get that story clear?

All the world may know the answer,

but Macheath has no idea


And the ghastly fire in Soho,

Seven children at a go---

In the crowd stands Mack the knife, but

He's not asked and doesn't know


And the child bride in her nightgown,

Whose assailant's still at large

Violated in her slumber---

Mackie how much did you charge?

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How Is It Doing After Measure A?

June 9, 2014


While researching Measure A issues, the Grand Jury discovered that historically the General Fund has not paid the County Librarian’s salary and benefits as required by law. The salary is estimated at $1,280,000 for the period of 1998 through 2013. Instead the County Librarian’s salary was paid by the Library budget.

Three years ago, the Board of Supervisors passed, and the voters approved an ordinance on the ballot as Measure A, which levied a 1/8% sales tax for the Library.

What has been the result? There is bad news and some good news.

The bad news is that the County Administration, hungry for money, immediately started charging the Library for indirect support. Some of these charges are legitimate; some are not. All expenditures of the Library are carried on the County books as coming from the General Fund, when in fact, many of these expenditures are paid by dedicated revenue. Dedicated revenue is property tax and the Measure A sales tax. The County does not properly account for the Library’s dedicated pro-rata share of the property tax.

The Library’s defense of its funds generated great tension between the Library, the Chief Executive Officer, and the Board of Supervisors. After a closed personnel session on March 25, 2014, the County Librarian and the Library’s Administrative Services Manager II were no longer employed. This loss of professional knowledge and financial expertise has added unneeded and unsettling tension to the operation of the Library.

More control over the Library and its funds is shifting to the Chief Executive Officer, contrary to state law and county code. The County Free Library is a Special District. The County labels and manages the Library as if it were a department. The tight control of the Chief Executive Officer has prevented the Library from spending its dedicated revenue for the enhancement of its services, especially in information technology.

The good news is that, because of Measure A, the libraries are open full time, the collection is increasing, new equipment has been added, children’s librarians are back, and the bookmobile has added new stops.

The Grand Jury urges the Board of Supervisors to honor their constituents’ steadfast love for their libraries. The Grand Jury recommends that the Board of Supervisors proceed in accordance with the law in an open and transparent manner. Recruitment of a permanent County Librarian should begin immediately.

The Board of Supervisors should actively work with the Library Advisory Board to ensure the County Free Library is better able to serve all the residents.

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Ukiah, California… June 17, 2014

On June 9, 2014, the Mendocino County Grand Jury released a report titled “The Mendocino County Free Library: How Is It Doing After Measure A?” In the summary section, the report claims that some of the County’s charges are legitimate, while others are not. The report elaborates on its claims in the “Facts” section about its investigation.

In response to the Grand Jury report’s allegations, the Mendocino County Auditor-Controller Meredith Ford imparted “The Mendocino County Grand Jury report on the Library, issued on June 9, 2014, states that County Administration is charging illegitimate costs to the Library for indirect support. Interviewing the County Auditor would seem the most logical first step for a report like this, and I was not interviewed. The Library's ‘costs of doing business’ are legitimate incurred expenses, like any other Non-General Fund department. Even after reading the entirety of this report, I am still mystified as to why they would be deemed illegitimate."

Board Chair John Pinches also had the following to say: “I have personally reviewed the Library’s budget documents and it is pretty clear that they are getting a real deal on its A-87 costs. The biggest concern is flat revenues for the property tax increment that goes to the Library.”

The County Executive Office has 60 days to respond, and will address the claims made in this report.

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My young son asks me: Must I learn mathematics?

What is the use, I feel like saying. That two pieces

Of bread are more than one's about all you'll end up with.

My young son asks me: Must I learn French?

What is the use, I feel like saying. This State's collapsing.

And if you just rub your belly with your hand and

Groan, you'll be understood with little trouble.

My young son asks me: Must I learn history?

What is the use, I feel like saying. Learn to stick

Your head in the earth, and maybe you'll still survive.

Yes, learn mathematics, I tell him.

Learn your French, learn your history!

Bertolt Brecht

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On June 17, 2014, the County of Mendocino and the Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA) received approval from the Board of Supervisors for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Negotiations formally began on September 3, 2013, and included a series of nine bargaining sessions. DSA was among the first four bargaining units to take a 10% reduction on July 25, 2010, in response to the economic crisis facing the County.

The current MOU adopted by the Board of Supervisors largely extends the prior agreements, and the 10% reduction with no enhancements to benefit or salary levels in the contract. DSA joins the County’s Management, Attorney, and Confidential bargaining units in accepting a contract with no salary or benefit enhancements. The term covers the 1-year period since the expiration of the prior agreement on June 30, 2013.

“Our unit recognizes the County’s financial hardship.” stated Deputy Craig Walker, DSA’s president. “We understand the Board’s emphasis on reserves and stabilizing the County’s financial position. Now that progress has been made in all these important areas, we look forward to the next round of negotiations.”

“Our Deputy Sheriffs work incredibly hard and deserve so much more than the County is able to afford,” County CEO Carmel Angelo stated. “I appreciate DSA’s professionalism throughout these negotiations. Nobody’s happy with the financial situation, but the County cannot return to the past practice of spending money it doesn’t have.” (Mendocino County CEO Press Release)

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SMEDLEY BUTLER was a Marine Corps general much admired for his ferocity and perhaps even more admired by radicals for his candor about the true function of the American military. Butler wrote a famous booklet called War Is A Racket based on a series of lectures he delivered around the country from 1935 to 1937 as spokesman for the American League Against War and Fascism. His terse explanation of the American entry into World War One is the best there is:

"An allied commission came over from Europe shortly before the war declaration to see the President. (Woodrow Wilson). Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what the head of the commission told the President: 'There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We owe you American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters five or six billion dollars. If we lose the war, and without the help of the United States we must lose, we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money. And Germany certainly won't pay it back, so…" So America mobilized a million troops.

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Cardin, Carte, Garibay, Jones, Klopp, Garcia
Cardin, Carte, Garibay, Jones, Klopp, Garcia

DAVID BALANTINE, Pinoleville. DUI. (Photo not available)

JACK CARDIN, Ukiah. Meth, revoke probation.

JAMES CARTE, Ukiah. Petty theft.

EDUARDO GARIBAY, Antioch. DUI, driving on a suspended license.

BYRON JONES, Laytonville. Domestic violence.

STEVEN KLOPP, Philadelphia. Shoplifting.

PEDRO LOPEZ-GARCIA, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

McCauley, Mitchell, Rexrode, Sharpe, Slater, Zaccaria
McCauley, Mitchell, Rexrode, Sharpe, Slater, Zaccaria

SAMUEL McCAULEY, Sacramento. Arrested in Willits for failure to appear.

SHANOA MITCHELL, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

ALAN REXRODE, Fort Bragg. Under the influence of a controlled substance. Revoke probation.

EVAN SHARPE, Ukiah. Arrested in Willits for drunk in public.

IAN SLATER, Klamath. Revoke probation.

DIANE ZACCARIA, Ukiah. Meth, revoke probation.

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ON JUNE 14, 2014 at about 3:30am Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were summoned to the area of Talmage Road and Babcock Lane in Ukiah, California regarding an anonymous report of a female being chased by a male subject. Upon arrival Deputies located an adult female at a business located at the intersection of Talmage Road and Hastings Road. The Deputies noted the adult female appeared very upset and observed she had abrasion injuries to her lower legs and arms. The adult female reported she had been physically assaulted by her boyfriend, Randy McCormick-Blake, 34, of Ukiah. The adult female told Deputies she and McCormick-Blake were arguing at a friend's home earlier in the evening. The argument was escalating so the adult female walked to the Talmage Bridge where she attempted to sleep for the night. The adult female fell asleep for a short period before being awakened by McCormick-Blake grabbing her by the neck. McCormick-Blake started choking her and slamming her face into the ground several times, causing her to lose consciousness during the incident. When the adult female awoke she was able to flee from McCormick-Blake. The adult female started walking westbound on Talmage Road when she noticed McCormick-Blake running up behind her position. McCormick-Blake caught up to the adult female and pulled her to the ground and attempted to drag her into a nearby vineyard. The adult female managed to free herself and ran to the nearby business. Deputies observed abrasion injuries to the adult female's neck, arms and lower legs allegedly caused during the physical assault. The adult female was later transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. Deputies located McCormick-Blake sleeping under the Talmage Road Bridge and he was subsequently arrested for felony domestic violence battery. McCormick-Blake was booked into the Mendocino County jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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by Dick Meister

Fred Ross, who was named to California's Hall of Fame on Monday (6/16) by Gov. Jerry Brown, was for more than a half-century one of the most influential, skilled, dedicated and successful of the community organizers who have done so much for the underdogs of American society.

Yet most people have undoubtedly never heard of Ross, a tall, gray, lean man, a quiet but fiercely committed man who died in California in 1992 at age 82.

He purposely stayed in the background, seeing his job as training others to assume leadership and the public recognition that accompanies it. And train them he did, hundreds of them, including farm worker leader Cesar Chavez.

Cesar Chavez and Fred Ross
Cesar Chavez and Fred Ross

Chavez was a typical Ross trainee:­ a poor, inexperienced member of an oppressed minority who was inspired to mobilize others like him to stand up to their oppressors.

“Fred did such a good job of explaining how poor people could build power I could taste it,” Chavez recalled.

Chavez was among the Mexican-Americans living in California's barrios in the 1950s that Ross, then with Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation, was helping form political blocs to demand improvements in the woefully inadequate community services provided them,

Ross' approach was, as always, to get people to organize themselves, and he sensed correctly that young Chavez was “potentially the best grass-roots leader I'd ever run into.”

Within just a few years, the small organizations formed by the residents of particular barrios joined into a potent statewide group, the Community Services Organization, headed by Chavez.

A few years later, Chavez founded what became the United Farm Workers union. It was the country's first effective organization of farm workers precisely because it was built in accord with Ross' principles ­ from the ground up by Chavez and other farm workers relying heavily on such non-violent tactics as the boycott.

Ross had started out to be a classroom teacher after working his way through the University of Southern California in 1936. But he could find no teaching jobs in that dark year of the Great Depression. He took other public work, eventually managing the federal migratory labor camp near Bakersfield, California, that novelist John Steinbeck used as the model for the camp that had a central role in “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Fiction though it was, Steinbeck's account was accurate. Conditions in the camp were deplorable. So were the conditions imposed on the migrants by the local growers for whom they worked.

But the migrants organized themselves to win better living and working conditions, thanks to young Fred Ross. He went from cabin to cabin and tent to tent “every morning after daybreak,” encouraging camp residents to form the organizations that helped improve their conditions.

Ross had found his life's work. He would become a full-time organizer, a task he described as being “a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire,” Never was Ross paid more than a marginal salary, sometimes no more than room, board and expenses, but never would he falter.

His goal was “to help people do away with fear ,­ fear to speak up and demand their rights, to push the people to get out in front so they could prove to themselves they could do it.”

Ross left the migrant camp to work with the Japanese-Americans on the West Coast who were herded into internment camps during World War II. Ross, then with the American Friends Service Committee, helped internees win release by finding them jobs in the manpower-short steel plants and other factories in the Midwest that produced vital war materials.

After the war, he returned to southern California to help African-Americans and Mexican-Americans fight against housing and school segregation. They fought effectively, too, against police brutality and elected Los Angeles' first Hispanic City Councilman.

Ross also worked in Arizona, helping Yaqui Indians get sewers, paved streets, medical facilities and other basic needs that had been denied their communities.

Ross' most ambitious and probably most satisfying work came during his 15 years of training hundreds of organizers and negotiators for the United Farm Workers from the UFW's inexperienced and long oppressed rank-and-file members.

Ross kept at it for virtually the rest of his life, ­ organizing grass-roots campaigns for liberal politicians, joining his son Fred Jr., a highly regarded organizer himself, in the national campaigns against U.S. policies in Central America, and working with anti-nuclear and peace groups.

It was not until just four years before his death, when Alzheimer's Disease struck, that he finally stopped.

Fred Ross was an organizer's organizer, a trailblazer, a pioneer. He was -- and he remains -- a vitally important model for those seeking to empower the powerless and to truly reform, if not perfect, this imperfect society.

“Fred fought more fights and trained more organizers and planted more seeds of righteous indignation against social injustice than anyone we're ever likely to see again,” noted Jerry Cohen, formerly the UFW's general counsel.

“He was a giant,” said filmmaker, playwright and former UFW activist Luis Valdez. “He was an uncommon common man.”

Dick Meister, a longtime labor and political journalist, is co-author of "A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America's Farm Workers" (Macmillan).

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by Jim Wright

Tragically, all we’ve fought for in Iraq, all that 4,500 American lives were shed to gain, is on the cusp, potentially, of vanishing.
 --Mitt Romney, “Ideas Summit,” 6/13/2014

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All we fought for in Iraq.

All we fought for in Iraq is on the cusp of vanishing.

That’s what Mitt Romney says.

We fought for. We fought for. We.

Oh, so it’s we now, is it, Mitt?

I must have missed you over there, but it was a busy place. We. The guy who helped set up “pro-draft” rallies and yet somehow managed to avoid service in Vietnam is upset about losing what “we” fought for? We.

Yeah, fuck you, Mitt.

And you’re all welcome to quote me on that.

Somebody stepped into my office yesterday and asked how I felt about it. He wanted to know how I felt about “losing” Iraq.

How do I feel about losing all we fought for?

I don’t know.

First, I’m going to need somebody to explain to me exactly what it was that we were fighting for.

What was it? What is it that we gained, according to Mitt Romney? And what is on the cusp of vanishing? What is that? No, really, somebody please explain it to me.

Because I’d love to know.

The Wikipedia says Operation Iraqi Freedom started on the 20th of March, 2003, which is just another reason why you shouldn’t believe anything you read in the Wikipedia (don’t, just don’t). That’s not correct, the war began a day earlier. See, I was there on the night the war really started, at precisely 2200 hours, on the 19th of March in the Northern Arabian Gulf. I was there when US Navy SEALs and Polish GROM stormed the MABOT and KAAOT oil terminals a full day before Saddam Hussein discovered that his time was finally up. In point of fact, I had arrived there four months before, a few days before Christmas in December of 2002. From the day of my arrival (and before that really) to the day the war started, and for months after, I was a Navy intelligence officer working in support of the invasion force. There’s not much I don’t know about the events leading up to war and the aftermath of the invasion.

Well, not much except for that one little detail.

All these years later, and I still don’t know why.

Oh, I mean, I know what they told us, sure, Saddam Hussein attacked America on 9-11. Right? That’s what they said, that’s what the Commander in Chief told us. Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda, remember? The son of a bitch and his stinking nation of terrorists attacked us. The Iraqis had it coming. And Georgie Boy was going to finish what his daddy started. Hooray! Right? That’s what they said.

Except those of us in the professional intelligence community looked at each other and thought, wait, what? How the hell did we miss that? Saddam and Osama bin Laden are working together? Buwah? But Rumsfeld, he had his own little extra-constitutional intelligence outfit staffed with his simpering cronies who he paid to blow smoke up his pinched grey ass until his colon resembled beef jerky and he sure didn’t have much use for us – after all, we were just the military he had.

Ours, as they say, is not to reason why, ours is to but do and die, right? At least that’s what Rummy told us and you know, you go into war with the Secretary of Defense you have, not the one you’d like to have. And if Rumsfeld says he’s got the real scoop, it must be true? Right? Sure, that justifies his contempt for us, sure it does.

Except, Rumsfeld’s little masturbation fantasy turned out not to be the case.

But hey, never mind that, Saddam Hussein was threatening us anyway, wasn’t he? Sure he was, in fact, that’s the first time you heard the phrase “Weapons of Mass Destruction” isn’t it? The bastard had nukes and germs and war gas and he was just itching to use them on America, wasn’t he? Heck we even had pictures of “mobile weapons labs” to prove it, isn’t that what Colin Powell told the UN and the world? And by damn Saddam had been buying Yellow Cake uranium from Niger, right? Colin Powell wouldn’t lie to us, would he? He was a hero, a general, he wouldn’t send his comrades into war on a lie now would he?

Except all that turned out to be bullshit too, and Colin Powell was either a dupe of staggering proportions or he was the kind of Soldier who would fuck his buddy right in the ass without so much as a reach-around and I’ll leave it up to you to figure which one is worse.

But by the time we figured out we’d been ass-raped by Colin Powell, we were shoulder deep in Iraq, Baghdad was burning, Iraq’s army had thrown down their weapons and taken off their uniforms and had melted into the population, Saddam had vanished and his sons were dead, and the President of the United States had already declared victory from the deck of an American aircraft carrier.

And so, the objective became … what?

Hearts and minds and freedom and democracy and nation building and magic bunnies who fart sunshine and rainbows.

Unfortunately, it turns out we’re real good at the blowing shit up part, not so good at the magic bunnies part.

Which in retrospect, shouldn’t be all that surprising — given that in order to build a civilization it helps if you actually have some vague familiarity with the people involved. Needless to say, we didn’t. And we didn’t care. To America, they were all little brown towelheads, sand niggers, raggedy-assed camel jockeys who ought to be grateful to America for burning down their shitty country. Sunni? Shia? Turkman? Baathists? What’s that? What do you mean they hate each other? They’re all Muslims aren’t they? They’re all Aayrabs, right? What do you mean they hate each other? And it all fell apart, disintegrating into insurgency and murder and bloody civil war – just exactly as anybody who actually knew something about the region and its people and its history could have told you it would. We lost less than a hundred soldiers in the actual war, the “peace” cost us nearly 5000 more. And the Iraqis? Who the hell knows? A hundred thousand? A million? It’s impossible to tell.

And it turns out that freedom and democracy and magic flying bunnies were as elusive as Iraq’s supposed WMDs – or Colin Powell’s honor.

So, what was it again that we were fighting for?

They had no idea what we were fighting for, those saber-rattling Chicken Hawks, the cowardly connected wealthy weasels who’d managed to avoid serving in their own war, who kept their children out of uniform, but just couldn’t wait to send us into one of their own making. They sent us off with parades and marching bands and cheering crowds … and brought the bodies home in secret, hidden away from the TV cameras and the public.

They had no plan and no idea what we were dying for, but they assured us what the war wasn’t about – it wasn’t about religion.

Oh no, sir, we weren’t fighting to eradicate Muslims, it wasn’t about Islam.

The Evangelical Christian religious extremists who started this war told us it wasn’t about religion.

Heh heh, riiiiiight. And Vietnam was really about containing communism. Sure.

Maybe they should have had Colin Powell tell that whopper to the UN, but he’d quit by then and was suddenly as invisible to America as those flag draped metal boxes arriving at Dover Air Force base in the middle of the night.

Americans who a few years before had been proudly waving their little flags as Johnny marched off to war were suddenly all shifty-eyed, they slapped a $5 dollar made in China magnet on the bumper of their giant gas-sucking SUVs, Support Our Troops, and with sardonically raised eyebrows complained to each other over the pumps about the immorality of a war fought for oil.

But that wasn’t true either, was it?

Iraq’s oil fields, the ones we fought and died to preserve on orders from the White House, the off-shore terminals the SEALs and the GROM risked their lives to save on that night back in 2003, the precious Iraqi oil that was going to pay for the war and pay to rebuild the country we’d blown up, well, that oil is nowhere to be found today, is it?

So, tell me again, what exactly is it that’s on the “cusp of vanishing?”

I mean it sure isn’t peace.

It’s not freedom for the Iraqi people, despite the war’s idiotic name.

It sure isn’t regional stability.

It’s not the end of terrorism or the near universal hatred of America in the Middle East.

And now that Halliburton and KBR and Blackwater and Dick Cheney have made their billions and cashed out, it isn’t even about long term economic investments and American business.

Hell, it’s not even about cheap gas.

So, go on, enlighten me. Because even though I was there, I’ve got no goddamned idea what it is that we’ve lost in Iraq beyond the 4,487 men and women we shipped home in metal boxes, beyond the 32,223 wounded and maimed, beyond the trillions of dollars we spent in our rage and our drive for revenge and our lust for blood.

Today, John McCain and Mitt Romney and the rest of the conservative war machine are railing against the President.

McCain stirred from the yellow fog of his bamboo cage and proclaimed in his best Old Man Yelling At Clouds voice, “We won Iraq! Obama lost it!”

Really Johnny Walnuts? Tell me, what did we win? And what have we lost? Please be specific, because I’d really like to know.

We no more “won” Iraq than McCain’s own father “won” Vietnam.

McCain claims he “predicted” the sectarian violence now tearing Iraq apart. Really? Where the hell was clairvoyant John McCain back in 2003 when he voted along with the rest of them to send us into war? And later, where was his great predictive ability when Iraq began tearing itself apart? I guess he was at a Dixie Chicks concert, he must have been out in the lobby ordering a plate of Freedom Fries when his pal George W. Bush let Iraq disintegrate into civil war.

And so here we are.

The same old motley cast of characters, the warhawks and the chickenhawks and the billionaires and the simple-minded saber-rattlers and the same old hate-filled pundits, they just can’t wait to jump back into Iraq.

Mitt Romney, John McCain, one who never served and one who damned well ought to know better, men who both wanted to be President of the United States and who both lost to Barack Obama, they just can’t wait to send other people’s kids back into the meat grinder.

Here’s my question.


Why, John McCain?

Why, Mitt Romney?

Why, conservatives?

This time you fuckers goddamned well tell me why.

What’s the goal? What’s the objective? Is it to end terrorism? Is it to enforce peace at the muzzle of a gun? Is it it to make defense contractors rich? Is it for jobs? Or is it for magic flying bunnies who shoot rainbows and cheap gasoline out of their little assholes to the sound of Yankee Doodle Dandy?

Or, or, is it just because you hate Barack Obama?

That’s it, isn’t it?

It is.

You sons of bitches one and all, you simpering capering madmen, this time at least have the courage to face the cameras, to look into America’s eyes, and tell them that their sons and daughters will be dying because you John McCain, because you Mitt Romney, because you Dick Cheney, because you Donald Rumsfeld, because you George W. Bush you lying bastard, because you conservatives hate Barack Obama and for no other reason. Go on, tell us, go on. Wave your little flags and beat your fleshy chests, roll out the marching bands and tell us just how many more American soldiers should die. Go on, put a number on it. Ten? A hundred? Fifty four thousand? How many of us have to die? How many more bodies will it take to satiate your mindless hunger for blood and revenge? How many more American lives are worth your insane hatred of the president? How many? How much further into debt should we drive our nation, another trillion dollars? Two? Ten? A hundred? Put a price on it you insane sons of bitches, go on, give me a number, write me a check. Tell me how much you’re willing to pay, show me the goddamned money. How many more years? How many? One? Five? Another decade? Fifty? What is it? Don’t wave your hands and make some vague prognostication, give me a number, how many lives, how much money, how many years? You look us in the eye and you fucking tell us.

Sure, let’s go back to Iraq.

Oh, yes, let us do that.

I’ll dig out my uniform and strap on my pistol and gird up my sword and ride into battle yet again.

Just so long as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and every single one of those powdered, Botoxed talking heads at Fox News are in the vanguard. That’s right, you cowards, you put on a uniform and you lead the charge this time around. The Koch brothers and Mitt Romney can pay for it, every goddamned penny, we’ll bleed them until they’re dry and then we’ll pull the gold fillings from their teeth to pay for it right along with the rest of their Wall Street cronies. You fuckers got rich off the last one, you can damned well pay for this one. And when you run out of money, we’ll take your blood, fair’s fair.

Strap John McCain into the cockpit of an A-4 Skyhawk and let him fly air cover.

If he gets himself shot down and taken prisoner again, well, you know what? Fuck him, leave him to the enemy because frankly his hate and bile and raging insanity have done more damage to this country than Bowe Bergdahl ever did.

The terrorists can keep him.

You want to go to back to war? No problem, this time, you go first.

Back then, as an officer, mine was not to reason why.

But this time, well, this time I’m a civilian. And as a citizen of the United States, this time I demand to know why.

So, you saber-rattling sons of bitches, you look me in the eye, and you tell me.

Peace love and understanding tell me

Is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom

But Lord knows there's got to be a better way
War, what is it good for
Absolutely nothing…
— Edwin Starr, “War” 1969

(Jim Wright is a retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer. “Nowadays I live in Alaska where I spend most of my time working in my woodshop or fishing. I occasionally consult for the Military. I have delusions of becoming a full time writer — or conquering the universe, whichever is easier... You can email me, your future ruler, at, be sure to put “Stonekettle Station” in the subject line or else my moat monster will eat your messenger and make a funny origami hat from his skin.”


* * *



Despite an innate, slightly wacky optimism, it's hard anymore for me to stay upbeat about my world, from its out-of-control continents and regions, many of which we've groomed and poisoned for the profits violent conflict delivers, to the out-of-control merchant class in America -- my country, right down to this street I'm on.

For a while my unreasonable optimism found nourishment in the Internet. I said lots of times, “The Web is the new wild card in world affairs. Bestowing on everybody with computer access a portal to most of humankind's current knowledge is an act that cannot be calculated. Now the ONLY certainty is uncertainty, and that's a totally dynamic condition for existence to have, totally dynamic and totally unpredictable."

That still reads good, doesn't it, but my certitude gets anemic as I see Our Masters getting control of the Net. I have to wait for ads all the time, and routine things that used to be instantaneous no longer are. It's all slowed way down, and it's all surrounded by commercialism. I feel the hand of the Bosses, that huge, stifling, smothering, degrading hand.

So I have this nutso, involuntary optimism going hungry, and pot -- POT -- is the current hors d'oeuvre. It's galloping toward legality (where it isn't already), toward even wider acceptance and, I'd bet, near-universal use.

The current order of things cannot remain unchanged. Pot has irreversible effects on a person: you're way more likely to laugh than fight; the complex of personality traits once called “hip” thrives on pot; unimportant shit tends to stand naked before the stoned eye and thus, without its costumes, has much less authority; Authority itself tends to look silly, often the best look for Authority, and Ellie claims (I haven't fully digested this, but I think I agree) that pot makes things more real, not less. A stoned world, even a spottily stoned world, will not resemble the straight one closely.

I don't subscribe to the Lists anymore. I have stuff I must do, and listservs are time-eaters. If you have anything to say to my comments, please forward them to me at my personal email address.

Mitch Clogg, Mendocino


  1. Jeff Costello June 18, 2014

    RE Mack the Knife: It’s also worth nothing that the original music, being about a serial killer, was not happy, swinging, or upbeat like the popular Bobby Darin version.

  2. Jim Updegraff June 18, 2014

    An interesting fact about Smedley Butler: He was a birthright Quaker and one might say in the 30’s he returned to his roots.

    Another interesting fact: His father, who was a Quaker, was a long time U. S. Congressman. He was the Chair of the subcommittee that oversaw the Marine Corps’budget which certainly didn’t hurt Butler’s career.

  3. Rick Weddle June 18, 2014

    re: Twixt Iraq and the Hard Place…
    Some may recall Powell’s first reaction to W’s hinting at war in Iraq. The general was clear that a U.S. invasion there on whatever pretext would surely end with us “…owning…” the place. THAT was a good call, gen’l. I do so recall. Within days, Powell had done a 180 and was on board with all four feet, getting along by going along. Who can guess what sticks and carrots brought him around? And nobody seems to have noted that as a result of these bits of dunderbolt ‘reasoning,’ we again commenced bombing the living shit out of our vaunted ‘Cradle of Civilization.’ If there are not ‘decorations’ for such lunacy already, with the little colorful ribbons and medals, I’m gonna strike a few up for these bastards. Maybe a John Phillip Souza-style anthem to their Dishonor with too much brass and spirited meter, to memorialize the venal, evil little alleged minds that gets us into these warcriminal messes…frequently.
    Losing what ‘we’ve’ gained in Iraq? Gen’l Butler put it clear enough, with numbers and names: IT’S THE MONEY, VIRGINIA.
    To CWO Wright, thank you very much for this article so full of horsepower…today a writer, tomorrow, the universe…heh

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