- Coastal Preservation
- Iowa Results
- Nazi Chat
- Board Tendencies
- Self Medicating
- Walton Book
- Local Enterprise
- Rainbow Pete
- Cancer Support
- Cart Man
- CPS Group
- Weed Bill
- PG&E Dirty
- Yesterday's Catch
- Wildland Firefighters
- American Pickers
- Raven Watch
- Going Solo
- China Crashing
- Library Events
- Rhododendron Class
PROTECT THE COAST!
Please sign the petition on this web site to stop the possible ousting of the California Coastal Commission's Executive Director Dr. Charles Lester. We want to see our coasts protected for future generations.
Not only are Willits and Ukiah getting more fast food joints and hot sheet motels. Fort Bragg is also getting more of the above mentioned businesses. Franchise businesses have been and will continue to line up on either side of Highway 1 next to the ocean unless the community speaks up. Fort Bragg has Safeway, Denny's, Round Table Pizza, CVS, Rite Aid, Dollar Store, and Taco Bell. The city of Fort Bragg put out for bid the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Hare Creek Mall with the Grocery Outlet as an anchor. The deadline is February 19.
IN IOWA: CRUZ TRUMPS TRUMP, SANDERS IN VIRTUAL TIE WITH CLINTON
As of about 11pm Monday night, according to the AP live results, with all but one of the 1681 precincts reporting, Senator Ted Cruz was declared the winner of the Iowa Republican caucus, beating Donald Trump by about 28% to about 24% with Marco Rubio close behind at about 23%. Cruz won eight delegates to Marco Rubio’s seven and Donald Trump’s seven in what was described by CNN as a “bitter defeat” for Donald Trump.
In the Democratic caucus race, with all but eight of the 1681 precincts reporting, Senator Bernie Sanders was essentially tied with Hillary Clinton, with Clinton gaining 696 votes and Sanders at 692 votes, but Sanders was a tad behind in the delegate count, 21-22 in favor of Clinton. (O’Malley got 8 votes and no delegates.)
However, according to the Des Moines Register late Monday night, “Democratic caucus results in more than a dozen precincts [at the time of this post] are missing. The Iowa Democratic Party reached out to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Monday asking for their help in tracking down the missing results. IDP Executive Director Ben Foecke sent an email to both campaigns with a spreadsheet of contacts for temporary caucus chairs. The campaigns are directing those people to dial into a hotline to report their results. The Iowa Democratic Party released a statement early Tuesday saying the campaigns are not directly reporting results to the party. But they are helping find temporary caucus chairs of a ‘small number of outstanding precincts’.”
Doug Chouteau ripped your reporting of a recent Mental Health Board meeting at the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC). Demanding an apology for being likened to a Nazi. Fortunately, there’s a video at Mendocino TV showing who made that comparison. It was board member Dina Ortiz. At minute marker 52:03. For reasons unknown, you apologized. Throwing good reporting under the bus. Leaving this reader scratching his head. Particularly in light of the bizarre aspects of MCHC’s government. In my view, you and Mr. Chouteau should be looking in that direction. For example:
- MCHC Bylaws, Article 3 – Associations: “We reserve the right to associate, cooperate and to affiliate with people of faith.” And Qualifications for Directors: “Directors of the Board of Directors will adhere to these by-laws in personal life and behavior. Failure to do so and/or immoral, unethical sinful, illegal or shameful behavior or activities shall be just cause for dismissal by the remainder of the Board.” Doesn’t that sound like a religious organization? Funded by Mendocino taxpayers?
- MCHC Bylaws, Article II, Section II – Composition of Board of Directors: “An advisory board of unspecified number shall be appointed by the Board of Directors. Advisory Board Members are non-voting members of the Board who act at the discretion of the Board of Directors on an advisory capacity.” AB 2755 outlawed non-voting board members on non-profit boards. That law went into effect on January 1, 2015 – ten months before these bylaws were passed. And Board Vacancies: “Treasurer and Secretary’s term length shall be at the discretion of the Board of Directors.” i.e., no term limits for whoever handles the money.
- MCHC Contributors. This is where it gets really interesting. I asked MCHC for their most recent tax return. What they gave me was a twenty-five page tax return for 2013. Which is four pages longer than what got filed with the State. The additional pages list two contributors. One is identified as the Kathleen Kohn Fetzer Family Foundation in Virginia. For $10,000. But there’s no such entity there. A foundation of that name was registered in Colorado back in 1999. But it’s been delinquent since 2010. And there’s no record of that foundation operating in California. The other contributor is Ortner Management Group. For $95,239. Ortner is a for-profit company that’s only been around since 2011. And obviously very profitable with a contribution that size.
- MCHC Grants. MCHC’s Federal tax return accounts for $413,162 in total grant funding for 2013. But their State filing declares $673,917. For a difference of $260,755. At $250,000, Ortner is the biggest single grant maker here. And according to all the declarations I could find, MCHC has never conducted an independent audit. Maybe it’s time for that to happen.
- MCHC Meeting Minutes. I asked MCHC for any and all board meeting minutes where bylaws and conflict of interest policies were approved. What I got were four excerpts where most of the meeting minutes had been whited out. There are no indications of who attended those meetings, who took the minutes or any other business that was conducted. Making MCHC look more like a secret society than a public charity.
- MCHC Conflict of Interest Policy. The only thing MCHC provided in response to my request is one page of an employee handbook. Putting the kibosh on conflicts of interest for MCHC employees – but not for directors and officers.
- MCHC Control. MCHC is controlled by two husband-and-wife households. Bill and Sue Gibson – who are reported as such on the 2013 tax return. And Gary and Lynelle Johnson, who aren’t. The tax return declares ten voting board members. But it only identifies eight of them.
- MCHC Meetings. Only by squinting at Agendas, can you get any idea of when MCHC’s meetings are. They appear to be the third Thursday of every month, at 9:00 am. That’s not doable for working folks. And according to the Bylaws, regular board meetings can be held without notice. So good luck finding one.
I understand Mr. Chouteau’s concerns about MCHC’s expanding – and highly questionable – operation in Fort Bragg. But any apologies should be coming from MCHC’s management, not you.
Scott M. Peterson, Mendocino
PS: You can see more nonprofit nonsense at my weekly video comic strip, Mendopia.
ED REPLY: The Chouteaus were clearly characterized as Nazis. Ms. Ortiz, a long-time employee of the County's mental health apparatus, i.e., a person well paid to do good, hauled out the Nazis to characterize the Chouteaus’ opinions critical of the Hospitality House operation, in which Ms. Ortiz and the County has a vested interest. Malcolm followed up by characterizing the Chouteaus’ remarks as "Trumpism wrapped in the National Socialist Worker's Party," and said that the Trumpism/fascism "has seemingly reared heads (sic) in Fort Bragg," going on to misapply pastor Neimoller's famous rhetoric in the context of the real Hitler, thus twice damning the Chouteaus as fascists. Which they aren't. (Mendocino County's free-range dope heads and drunks are hardly militant anti-fascists. Neimoller was operating in a context where real anti-fascists risked their lives against real fascists. Neimoller is mis-invoked in the no-risk context of contemporary America.) A day after the offense had appeared in print, I edited out all the hysteria re fascists in the on-line version of Malcolm's piece but, in the flurry of production day, did not see them until they appeared in the print paper. If I had seen the inflated insults prior to publication, as I should have, I would have called Malcolm and, I'm sure, we could have worked out a more reality-based edit together. But it was too late; I'd failed to do my job. I apologized to the Chouteaus and apologize to them again here. Mrs. Chouteau, incidentally, denounced me as a "pussy" for not "firing" Malcolm. I told her I couldn't fire someone for a mistake I made. I suggest to you, Scott, that you brush up on your reading skills. One irony here unnoted by either side is that the cops throughout the County routinely run warrant checks on whomever they stop, and those whomevers include many transients. If that maniac who broke into the Fort Bragg woman's house three weeks ago and nearly stabbed her to death had come to the attention of law enforcement prior to his murderous rampage they would have arrested him as a fugitive wanted in Montana. (I wonder how many free meals he enjoyed at Hospitality House.) I'll add that in my opinion the problem with all the Hospitality House-style programs everywhere in our doomed land is that they simply enable addicted persons to pursue their public self-destruction. The old state hospital programs at least provided respite plus real opportunities for people to pull themselves together. We need to revive the state hospital system, not that there's much chance for effective charity in the present political context.
OPIODS? Stoners absolutely love them, legitimately hurting people gotta have them. But if we have a pharmacy right here in Boonville at our clinic, dopers have to be kept out of it, hence a lot of bureaucratic time spent keeping them out. And in a country that spends much of its waking hours under the influence of one drug or another, it isn't easy securing the prescription larder, let alone accounting for missing pills.
AS FOR BOARD membership, something odd happens when otherwise rational people get elected or appointed to local boards, which are pretty much self-selecting to begin with as The Nice People work to keep everything Nice, i.e., rolling blandly along without external realities intruding, e.g., the Health Center is broke, Boonville students don't learn how to read, write and do a few simple calculations, cigarette smoke is bad for you but pot smoke somehow isn't, the wine industry is a major net negative for every aspect of life in the Anderson Valley, Public Radio Mendocino County is public radio and not a private club, and so on. The reality function is the exclusive preserve of Boonville's beloved newspaper.
THANK YOU, Boonville. Thank you, Nice People. The paper, with a martyred sigh, says it will continue to help wherever it can. But seriously, why do otherwise rational people go all authoritarian on us the instant they get a teensy taste of power?
THE SUPERVISOR'S MARIJUANA Ad Hoc Committee — McCowen and Woodhouse — held an open meeting in Willits to talk about the County’s Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance. Which got us wondering, Do these two Supes smoke dope? I seriously doubt McCowen does. Woodhouse? He looks like a guy who has enjoyed a toke or three. Gjerde does not seem to be a person at all prone to altered states of consciousness. I'd peg Carre Brown as a manhattan, gimlet - maybe martini - style occasional social drinker. Supervisor Hamburg has been loaded on marijuana for so many years you could probably smoke him and get high. Used to be, the Supervisors did all their business at the bar of the Palace Hotel. Those boys, and they were all boys, knocked back straight shots of whisky, but, reading the history of Mendocino County I'd say they were more clearheaded about the public's business than these latter-day tokers and teetotalers. Here at the ava a mild form of dipsomania prevails. Except when it doesn't. We go for the big bottles of Evan Williams in the 1.75 liter bottles which, in American calculations, is almost a half-gallon. Ol' Ev is a good, cheap whiskey. Blindfolded, you'd have a hard time telling it from Jack Daniels, and it sells at CVS for the extremely modest price of $16 a bottle or, at Lucky's for $18. Lasts us a couple of weeks.
TODD WALTON'S new book Buddha in a Teacup: Contemporary Dharma Tales (on sale: February 9th, 2016). This lovely little volume consists of 42 short tales set in contemporary American, each a parable springing from the author's meditations on fundamental aspects of Buddhist dharma as those teachings apply in the world today. Some tales are humorous, some sad, some erotic, some mysterious — all linked and balanced by themes of mindfulness, compassion, generosity, kindness, and love. Todd will also be reading at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino on 2/20.
KEEPING UP with the Khairzadas. The Laytonville family featured in last week's paper as they appeared in court on charges their Laytonville rug and rock shop also functioned as a non-sanctioned marijuana store, have opened a brand new rug business a block from the County Courthouse in Ukiah. The new enterprise is called, "Gems And Rugs From Around The World."
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AT ANOTHER FRONTIER of local free enterprise, this one at Real Goods in Hopland, "Real Goods is sponsoring the launch of Emerald Pharms, the world's first solar-powered medical marijuana dispensary, which will open next month in Hopland, California, the gateway to the Emerald Triangle…"
A SPECIAL ATTABOY with a Good Guy cluster goes to Pete Richardson, formerly of Rainbow Construction, builder of some of Ukiah's foremost public structures, and formerly also of the Mendocino County Jail where he landed after numerous DUI convictions. Always a likeable guy and a talented construction man, Pete lends his spare bedrooms to young guys who have been rendered homeless by drink and or/drugs. Pete's is an in lieu of a functioning local government option since the County has basically nothing for people trying to get themselves going again.
NEW INLAND CANCER SUPPORT GROUP
The Ukiah office of the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County is offering a new support group that will begin meeting from 12:00 to 1:30 pm on Friday, February 19th at the CRC office located at 590 South Dora Street in Ukiah. The Metastatic Support Group, offered free of charge to both men and women, will be held weekly for 5 weeks. This group will be limited to 8 participants who are diagnosed with stage IV advanced cancer. Please call Nancy Johnson, CRC Support Services Manager at 467-3828 to register or for more information.
This group is made possible through the generous support of the Grace US Foundation and will be facilitated by Joan McDowell, who has received training in council facilitation at the Ojai Foundation. Joan brings a commitment to bringing deep attention to creating and sharing a circle based on the Way of Council method.
QUITE A TREK: FREMONT TO EUREKA WITH SHOPPING CART!
We managed to get photos Sunday of an intrepid traveler headed from Fremont, CA to Eureka - pulling a shopping cart! That's a distance of 301.1 miles (as the crow flies). He was heading into a stiff northwest headwind south of Elk about 1:30 pm. According to our calculations, he was more than halfway to his destination when these photos were taken - the distance from Fremont to Elk is 180.3 miles.
We first became aware of this journey from a scanner report Saturday and MSP posted: "MSP'S 'Won't Last Long Doing That' Department : Transient Pushing Shopping Cart In Middle Of Ca-1. The scanner and the CHP Traffic 'incident' page reported (3:47 pm) a 'transient walking with a shopping cart in the middle of the roadway' on Highway 1 approximately two miles north of Manchester. The dispatch from the scanner said 'Golden Gate CHP (Sonoma County) informed us of this individual - he's heading from Fremont north to Eureka'."
(Courtesy, Mendocino Sports Plus)
MOTHER SEEKING TO CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS who have been unfairly discriminated against by officials from CPS Mendocino. Please send contact information to email@example.com.
MEDICAL POT REGULATION BILL sent to Governor Brown
OUR NON-PUBLIC PUBLIC UTILITY
More blah, blah, blah from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. about how non-solar consumers are being treated unfairly by selfish solar consumers, and darn it, that's not fair. PG&E spends billions of dollars on insane executive compensation, shareholder dividends ($800 million a year), non-stop lobbying and advertising before they even consider their virtually fixed annual profits, which are derived by nothing more than a confusing formula they hand the California Public Utilities Commission which furrows their proverbial brow and then rubber-stamps rate increases.
Not satisfied with that level of gouging, they recently persuaded the CPUC to take funds away from clean-energy Community Choice Aggregation organizations like Marin Clean Energy. And now they want to bleed out the solar industry because they paid too much for their long-term contracts. PG&E is a dirty company practicing dirty politics (never forget San Bruno) delivering dirty energy for a planet that needs less of everything they offer. The message from Paris was clear: It's time to lead, follow or get out of the way. PG&E should simply do the latter and let the rest of us make progress against climate change.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 1, 2016
BRIAN COHRAN, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
MONALISA DURAZO, Covelo. Failure to appear.
VINCENT TINTO, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JUAN TORRES, Treasure Island/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
BASIC WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER ACADEMY GRADUATES 21 CADETS
February 1, 2016 — Friday evening January 29, 2016, was the culmination of 10 weeks of intensive training for the 21 graduates of the 2016 Basic Wildland Firefighter Academy, sponsored by CalFire and Mendocino County Office of Education. They were honored in a graduation ceremony held in the Ukiah High School Cafetorium, attended by 330 family and community members.
All graduates successfully completed 180 hours of firefighting training at the CalFire Howard Forest training center. Each graduate earned 12 certifications provided by CalFire to qualify for the application process to be a seasonal firefighter in Mendocino County for the upcoming 2016 fire season.
The ceremony began with bagpipes accompanying the graduates into the cafetorium followed by remarks by Mendocino Unit Chief Rowney of CalFire. In addition to honoring the graduates, Division Chief Dale Barnett was recognized for his many years of service to the program and the community with a commemorative plate presented by Dennis Aseltyne, Career Technical Education Director at MCOE.
The graduates consisted of a combination of adult students and high school seniors. The majority are local from Mendocino County with a few coming from as far away as Lassen County and Yolo County. The graduates are: Armando Arellano, Matthew Basich, Bryce Bazzani, Justin Christensen, William Derickson, Joseph Gradek, Keith Henry, Cooper Johnson, Adam Kile, Steven Knolle, Jordan LaMarr, Jeremiah Martin, Justin Martin, Nathan Mitchell, Devon Morgan, Marty Pinches, Jr., Reed Rasmussen, Cliff Robinson, Wyatt Silva, Trenton Williams, Tanner Young.
The partnership of CalFire and Mendocino County Office of Education has produced and certified more than 100 seasonal local CalFire firefighters in the past four years. During the 2015 fire season, 100 percent of the graduates were offered jobs in the fire service and made a significant difference in a season filled with many extreme fire events in our region.
For more information on the Wildland Firefighter Academy, or other Career Technical Education opportunities, contact the CTE office at 467-5123 or visit the MCOE website at www.mcoe.us.
HAUL OUT YOUR COOLEST STUFF
History Channel's American Pickers Show Coming To California
Like I said on the phone, I’m reaching out from History Channel’s The American Pickers. We’d love it if you’d be able to get the word out there about our upcoming visit to California.
The American Pickers, Mike and Frank, are heading to California in March and we're looking for leads throughout the region, specifically interesting characters with interesting items and lots of them! We'd love to spread the word in your area.
I’ve attached a press release and photos, and hope that you can feature American Pickers in your paper and on social media. We are trying to get the word out as soon as possible because we will be in the area throughout the month of March, so the sooner people with collections reach out to us the better. Please make sure people who are interested reach out to us on our phone number 1-855-OLD-RUST (653-7878), or our email, which is AmericanPickers@cineflix.com
My contact info is below, so please don't hesitate to call me with any questions. Thank you so much for your time and help! Looking forward to hearing from you!
Sincerely, Tamar Herman, Casting Associate
American Pickers on History Channel
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American Pickers To Film In California
Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and their team are excited to return to California! They plan to film episodes of the hit series American Pickers throughout California with filming scheduled for March.
American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique ‘picking’ on History. The hit show follows Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques--from motorcycles, classic cars and bicycles, to one-of-a-kind vintage memorabilia.
As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank continue their mission to recycle America by rescuing forgotten relics and giving them a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about American history along the way.
American Pickers is looking for leads and would love to explore your buried treasure. They are on the hunt for characters with interesting and unique items. Some of what they look for: vintage bicycles, toys, unusual radios, movie memorabilia, advertising, military items, folk art, pre-50’s western gear, early firefighting equipment, vintage musical equipment, automotive items, and clothing. They are always excited to find things they’ve never seen before and learn the story behind it.
If you or someone you know has a large, private collection send us your: name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-old-rust.
RICK WEDDLE WRITES:
Raven Report: [This was first for Ed, who's a Raven Clan member from Alaska, but it's sort of interesting in general, in an Autobahn Society kind of way...]
Irving comes by Sundays early, picks up the trash from these little apartments, and takes away the rubbish in his truck. He rebags the cans before he leaves, and treats the birds to the last of his bbq chips, dumping the bag's contents in the parklot. The ravens and seagulls are becoming regulars at this, and after Irving leaves, I can stand at the blinded, darkened kitchen window and watch them at work on the feast. Ravens are known chick-stealing bandits and opportunists, and gulls are regarded around the docks as air-rats sometimes, and they're roughly the same size, the gulls with a slight edge. Neither is willing to really risk direct conflict, not so much to avoid the fight as simply not wasting a minute doing anything besides consuming chips. They'll feint and threaten and dodge like the Big Throwdown is On, then both parties go directly to Busy Eating Chips. It's kind of humorous, and doesn't seem likely to last long, so tolerant and all. But they keep at it and as the chips disappear, any real motivation for conflict goes also, so the birds, too, are up and away. This group is maybe 3, 4 gulls tag-teaming (2 on the ground, 2 in the air making racket), and 8, 10 ravens. Something the ravens are doing catches my eye. At first I don't get it. A raven lands, strolls up to a chip and grabs it up, like you'd expect, then does something unexpected...he picks up the chip, sure enough, then instead of taking it off where he can enjoy it and gloat over it on top of a phone pole as the gulls would, he walks over to ANOTHER chip, places the 1st one on the 2nd one and picks them BOTH up...and walks over to a 3d chip...and so on, until he's got a good handful of chips in his chops before he flies off! And the other ravens are doing this, too! It's kinda spooky. Next, they'll be pushing little shopping carts around...
THE IOWA CAUCUS IS A CLASSIST & AGEIST FARCE
by Paul Street
In Iowa, as across the nation, lots of people work during the early to middle evening, after the traditional dinner hour. Tow-truck drivers. Nurses’ aides. Nurses. Resident emergency room doctors. EMTs. Hotel receptionists. Cops. Security guards. Second-shift production workers. Custodians. Retail clerks. Waitresses. Dishwashers. Butchers at the grocery store. Chicken-shacklers at poultry-processing plants. English as a Second Language night instructors. Telemarketers. Cab drivers. Bus drivers. Activity coordinators at retirement homes. Librarians. The people who rent out ice skates at the rink in the Coralville Mall. I could go on.
Many of these folks would seem to be precisely the sort of working class people one might expect to gain from the enactment of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ progressive domestic social agenda, including a significant increase in the federal minimum wage and single-payer (Medicare for All) health insurance. But most early evening workers can’t participate in the Iowa presidential Caucus pitting Sanders against the corporate Democrat Hillary Clinton next Monday night. There’s no federal or statewide Election Day law requiring employers to let those workers participate in the “beloved Iowa political ritual.” The prime-time workers who want to Caucus have to ask for special permission (so their bosses can find replacements) and give up lost wages to go sit and stand through hours of political deliberation.
How many of these wage- and salary-earners are there in Iowa? It has to run well into the tens and thousands, perhaps the hundreds of thousands. It’s not insignificant. Capitalism moved untold millions of workers off the standard day shift (9 am to 5pm) eons ago.
Ain’t it strange? The national media celebrates and obsesses over the great grassroots democratic moment that (supposedly) is the Iowa presidential Caucus. Reporters are swarming across the state to capture and reflect upon this purported grand exercise in popular self-governance. Political commentators wax eloquent and practically teary-eyed about the noble quadrennial exercise in hearing “the voice of the people.” And, if I might use one of Senator Sanders’ more annoyingly repeated phrases, guess what? A vast number of Iowans on evening work shifts are effectively excluded from the cherished event.
It’s another among many reminders (e.g., the Democratic Party’s unaccountable presidential convention “super-delegates,” the “deeply undemocratic structure of the Senate, and the preposterously authoritarian Electoral College) that not all of the barriers to democracy in the U.S. are simply reducible to contemporary campaign finance. Wage labor, employers’ reluctance to grant time off for “voting” (well, caucusing), and the absence of state laws requiring time off for workers to join in the presidential candidate-selection process (such as it is) combine here to disenfranchise a large number of largely working class citizens.
Even some workers who work a “normal” day shift (say, 9 am to 5 pm) or the graveyard shift (10 pm to 6 am at the local giant Procter & Gamble plant here in Iowa City) avoid the Democratic Party Caucus for an interesting reason. They don’t want to have to deal with the bossy and mostly middle- and upper-middle-class professional people (including lots of know-it-all professors in Iowa’s many college towns) who tend to dominate the two-plus hour-long Democratic Caucus proceedings.
By the Way…
Another group of people who often can’t or don’t want to participate in the Democratic Caucus are old and/or sick people who don’t feel they have the stamina and/or mobility required for the prolonged proceedings.
Republican Caucus Actually More Accessible
It might interest those who wonder how and why the plutocratic Republicans (do not take that term to mean that the Democrats aren’t also plutocratic) do as well they do with working class people that the Iowa Republican Caucus is much more accessible to folks without the time, inclination, or ability to hang around for hours with politicos. At the Republican Caucus, people vote on individual ballots, and results are tabulated and announced. Then, other official state and county business begins, including electing delegates to the county convention and voting on platform plans for that convention. People don’t have to stick around for the official business.
The Democrats have a more complex and time-consuming process. After the rules are explained at a caucus, people hear speeches on behalf of the presidential candidates. Voters break up into groups based on whom they back for president. Individuals stand in different parts of the room based on whom they support, and uncommitted voters have their own group, too. The group numbers are counted. Groups must have at least 15 percent of the total number of attendees to be considered “viable.” Those in groups that aren’t viable — likely to happen to plenty of Martin O’Malley supporters — and uncommitted voters may then realign and join another group. Groups are counted again. This process continues until all remaining groups are viable. Only after all this, which can go on for some time, do the Democrats attend to other official party business that “voters” (well, caucusers) are free to skip.
Caucus Turnout Record: 16 Percent — That’s Right, 16 Percent
Thinking about this problem the other day, I did a Google search on “caucus turnout.” I ran across the following depressing findings:
“The biggest and most important difference [between states that select their presidential convention delegates through primaries and those that use caucuses] is voter turnout. Put simply, turnout is much, much lower in states that hold caucuses and tends to be less representative of the general population. Researchers at Harvard’s Kennedy School took a closer look at primary election turnouts in a 2009 study. The authors found that presidential primaries have notably low turnout relative to general elections, something that is particularly true for states with caucuses. In 2008, the most recent election without an incumbent president running, in the 12 states where both parties held caucuses, the average turnout was just 6.8 percent of eligible voters. While primaries tend to have higher rates of turnout relative to caucuses, average turnout is considerably lower than general elections, particularly for primaries held toward the end of the primary season.”
“The Iowa caucus had a record-breaking turnout that year, but even then it only reached 16.3 percent of eligible voters. The researchers provide a stark summary of their findings:
‘In percentage terms, Iowa’s turnout was hardly earthshaking — only one in six of the eligible adults participated. The Democratic winner, Barack Obama, received the votes of just 4 percent of Iowa’s eligible voters. Mike Huckabee, the Republican victor, attracted the support of a mere 2 percent of Iowa adults. Nevertheless, the 16.3 percent turnout level was not only an all-time Iowa record, it was easily the highest percentage ever recorded for a presidential caucus, and about eight times the average for such contests.’
“Because a caucus is an event hosted and run by political parties, attendance is more than just casting a vote. In fact, the process can take several hours as state parties deal with party business and people have the opportunity to give speeches to try and persuade voters to back their candidate. In contrast, a primary more closely resembles a regular election–you show up to a polling location, ask for your party’s ballot, then cast your vote.”
That’s incredible. The all-time record Iowa Caucus and national presidential caucus turnout was 16 percent in Iowa in 2008. Average Caucus turnout is around 7 percent. Iowa Dems gave Obama his great Iowa boost with just 4 percent. Huckabee got his little moment with 2 percent. Pathetic.
Can’t Go to the Party Even I Want To…
I live in a purplish, presidentially semi-disputed (though perhaps now more blue than red) state (Iowa). While living here (since 2005), I’ve never been able to act on the advice of left “strategic voting” advocates who tell me to hold my nose and vote “for” the Democrat’s corporate-neoliberal presidential candidate (Obama in 2008 and 2012) to block the terrible Republican contender. Never having bought into the notion that voting is the most important way to bring about progressive change (I am much more impressed by the urgency and relevance of social movements beneath and beyond the quadrennial election spectacles), I always “waste” by vote on a third party candidate. The notion of me actually poking a presidential ballot for the vicious warmonger and arch-neoliberal Wall Street tool Hillary Clinton next November is unthinkable. No amount of liberal or progressive Democratic name-calling – “spoiler,” “Nader,” “sexist” (false, Hillary is no progressive friend of women) – is going to fix that.
What about the semi-populist New Deal liberal Bernie Sanders (no “socialist,” democratic or otherwise) – could I vote for him as the “lesser evil” against the Republican Party? Maybe, perhaps, for what that’s worth. Or maybe not, for reasons I’ve explained at great length on this and other left venues. I guess I’ll cross that bridge if and when I come to it. It is very unlikely I’ll have the option, however, as Sanders himself acknowledges . Let’s face it: the notion of the corporate-neoliberal Democratic Party letting a self-declared “socialist” become its presidential nominee is pretty damn far-fetched.
One thing is clear: I don’t have to agonize much about what to do on Caucus night. I’m scheduled for work – well, for paid work (employment ) – between 2 and 10 pm that day. I couldn’t Caucus even if I wanted to. (Maybe I should have told the Bernie and Hillary campaigns that before they sent a small forest’s worth of campaign materials to my mailbox).
It’s a chilling realization: I’m disenfranchised as far as the great “democratic” Iowa Caucus is concerned – along with tens of thousands of fellow workers (at least I’m not alone). Think about it!
1 As Left Business Observer’s Doug Henwood notes in his recent volume on Hillary Clinton, the authoritarian and imperial, fake-progressive, “Hillary is a symptom of a deep sickness in the American political system, produced by the structural features designed to limit popular power that James Madison [and Alexander Hamilton and John Jay – P.S.] first mused about in The Federalist Papers and that the authors of the Constitution inscribed in our basic law. Those inhibiting Constitutional features include the division of power among the branches, judicial review, and the deeply undemocratic structure of the Senate, all supplemented with a variety of schemes over the decades to limit the franchise. Add to that the quasi-official status of a two-party Congress, the ability of the rich to buy legislation and legislators, and the gatekeeping role of the [corporate] media and you have a system that offers voters little more than the choice of which branch of the elite is going to screw them…While it’s sometimes fashionable to complain that our democracy has been taken from us, things have always been pretty much this way.” D. Henwood, My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency (OR Books, 2015), 7.
2 Sanders said the following after a meeting with Obama in the White House last week: “I’m not saying we can do what Barack Obama did in 2008. I wish we could, but I don’t think we can.”
3 A student of mine once observed that equating work with employment is like equating sex with prostitution.
(Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
One of the lessons of Jon Krakauer’s book ‘Into the Wild’ was that a person can’t live by themselves and their own efforts indefinitely. No matter how bad-assed that person is they will have a bad day, and in the wilderness, that’s game-over. [*] A ‘Society of One’ is not resilient enough to survive indefinitely.
Expanding the lesson; Jared Diamond wrote about the settling of Iceland as being one of the purest cautionary tales about taking Libertarian ideals too seriously… Consider; a thousand or so Viking free-holders and chieftains of roughly equal means and resources fleeing the tyranny of King Harald. They set up an intentionally minimalist republic ruled by a yearly council with little in the way of common institutions or infrastructure, in a land that was 40% forested and had wide swathes of stable grassland.
200 years later, their descendants were starving, living in thrall to 5 remaining warlords, on a treeless island, with no boats (no timber), pastureland rapidly disappearing due to overgrazing, who literally went begging to the Norwegian crown to take them over to stop the killing and bring essential supplies (and new blood).
Fast Forward to Now; a number of rich-folk conveniently *unaware* of how much of their wealth depended on the collectivist organizations (with all their lawyers, guns & money) to gain and maintain that wealth – let alone give their wealth a context in which to be wealthy. Seeing that ‘wealth’ threatened they suddenly find common-cause with Libertarians and their rationalizations. Well, that’s healthy.
So you want to have your cake and eat it too? Sure, whatever you say *princess*…
[*] Jon devoted an entire chapter reviewing the examples of those who tried and died testing this theory out, and Jon’s a guy who does his research. I know that for an eye-witnessed fact.
GROUND CONTROL TO CAPTAIN ZHOU XIAOCHUAN
by James Kunstler
Why would anybody suppose that the Peoples Bank of China might want to tell the truth about anything that was within their power to lie about? Especially the soundness of any loan portfolio vested unto the grasp of its tentacles? Of course, most of what China has done in speeding toward the wall of financial crack-up, it learned from watching US bankers slime their way into Too Big To Fail nirvana — most particularly the array of swindles, dodges, and frauds constructed in the half-light of shadow banking to hedge the sudden, catastrophic appearance of reality-based price discovery.
When so many loans end up networked as collateral in some kind of bet against previous bets against other previous bets, you can be sure that cascading contagion will follow. And so that is exactly what’s happening as China’s rocket ride into Modernity falls back to earth. Like most historical fiascos, it seemed like a good idea at the time: take a nation of about a billion people living in the equivalent of the Twelfth Century, introduce the magic of money printing, spend a gazillion of it on CAT and Kubota earth-moving machines, build the biggest cement industry the world has ever seen, purchase whole factory set-ups, and flood the rest of the world with stuff. Then the trouble starts when you try to defeat the business cycles associated with over-production and saturated markets.
Poor China and poor us. Escape velocity has failed. Which raises the question: escape from what, exactly? Answer: the implacable limits of life on earth. The metaphor for all this, of course, is the old journey-into-space idea, which still persists in the salesmanship of Elon Musk, the ragged remnants of NASA, and even the nightmares of Stephen Hawking. Get off this messed-up home planet and light out of the territories, say Mars. Of course, this is a vain and stupid idea, since we already have a planet engineered to perfection for all the life systems associated with the human project. We just can’t respect its limits.
So now, that dynamic duo, Nature and Reality, the actual owners of the planet, have showed up to read the riot act to the renters throwing a wild party. The fourth and perhaps ultimate financial crisis of the last twenty years begins to express itself in terms that only the raptors and vultures can see from on high. George Soros, Kyle Bass, and the other flocking shadow banking scavengers prepare to short the living shit out of the old Middle Kingdom. The immortal words of G.W. Bush ring in their ears: “This sucker is going down,” and they are sure to win big by betting on the obvious. Trouble is, this sucker could go down so much further than they imagined, that whatever fortunes they gain from its descent will be foiled by the destruction of the very economic system needed for them to enjoy their gains.
For instance, when banking systems go down, governments usually follow, and when governments go down, societies often unravel. It doesn’t take a great effort of imagination to see China’s one party politburo leadership machine lose the respect of its governed masses, and then its control of events, followed by a Great Struggle among the regions and factions to restore some kind of order. And when the smoke clears there will a whole lot of nearly worthless concrete and steel, and a vast loss of notional wealth, and China will be lucky to land back in some approximation of the Twelfth Century.
It must be interesting for China to watch the horrifying disintegration of America’s political party structure currently on view, with the mad bull called Trump rampaging across the land and the designated inevitable Mz It’s-My-Turn hijacking her collective for the greater glory of Goldman Sachs. The last time China got the vapors politically — the so-called Cultural Revolution of the 1960s — the country went batshit crazy. Surely some of the ruling party remembers that with requisite terror.
Or maybe this is China and the USA’s Thelma and Louise moment. Pedal to the metal, they drive into the abyss of history holding hands. Remember, audiences loved that!
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The third World Made By Hand novel is available! The Fourth and final is complete and in production for May 2016 publication.
Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting Jim’s Patreon page! patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler?ty=h
Seed School in a Day — A Seed Saving Workshop At the Ukiah Library
Saturday February 20th, 10:00-4:00pm
Seed School in a Day will offer a comprehensive yet accessible overview of the science, business, and craft of seeds. This course is for gardeners, farmers, and anyone interested in rebuilding a vibrant regional seed system for our community. This event is appropriate for teens and adults. Space is limited and pre-registration is required by February 17th. Call 707-463-4490. This free event is sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.
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A PBS/POV Documentary, Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin
On Wednesday, February 3rd at 5 pm, in honor of Black History Month, the Mendocino County Library, Ukiah Branch, is hosting the PBS/POV documentary, Brother Outsider, which explores the life and work of civil rights and LBGT activist, Bayard Rustin.
Rustin was a pacifist, an experienced organizer, an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., and openly gay. Because of the homophobia in the Civil Rights movement (and in the country in general), Rustin’s honesty about his sexuality was considered a liability and he voluntarily remained in the background. Nevertheless he advised Martin Luther King on the nonviolent strategies used in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956 and was a central organizer for the March on Washington in 1963. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Brother Outsider, a PBS/POV documentary, was created by filmmakers Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer.
Following the screening, Lorraine Dechter, General Manager of KZYX, will moderate a discussion of the film. All PBS/POV documentary screenings at Ukiah Library are food-friendly. Please feel free to bring your dinner or snacks.
Rhododendron Basics with Dennis McKiver (American Rhododendron Society, Noyo Chapter President) Saturday, February 20 or March 19 10:00am to 12:00pm in the Gardens Meeting Room at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Learn to identify and care for Rhododendrons growing in your yard. Our cool coastal climate, acidic soils, and mild winters allow many beautiful cultivars and species to thrive. Dennis McKiver - president of the American Rhododendron Society’s local chapter - will teach proper planting and plant medium, fertilizing, pruning, as well as disease and pest control. Expand your collection by learning to choose the right hybrids and species for your area while touring the Rhododendron Collection at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
Dennis McKiver has been growing and collecting Rhododendrons since 2001. His collection has over 1,000 hybrid and species Rhododendrons.
Class cost: $20 non-members; $10 members and Master Gardeners Includes Gardens admission for the day!
Class size is limited; sign up by phoning in your payment at 707-964-4352 ext. 16 or reserve your spot in person at The Garden Store at MCBG.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
18220 North Highway 1. Fort Bragg
707-964-4352 Ext 16.