- McCowen Resignations
- Stanford Rape
- Obamacare Scam
- Plastic Ocean
- MSP Praise
- Faulder & Keegan
- Local Court History
- Bypass Video
- Yesterday's Catch
- NBA Streaker
- Inevitable Clinton
- Bernie & Beethoven
SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN resigned from everything but his Board seat last Tuesday after his colleagues delivered what McCowen called “a slap in the face” concerning his and Supervisor Tom Woodhouse’s work on the County’s Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee. Aggrieved, Supervisor McCowen had considered their committee work complete and ready for the Board to review, but the specifics of his complaint were left unclear as McCowen referred to unspecified comments from a previous board meeting when he said his colleagues “would not be surprised” by his resigning from his other committees after the vote to turn it over to General Government.
SUPERVISOR CARRE BROWN seemed to be the driving force for turning the marijuana regulation preparation task over to her own General Government Committee because, she said, they had a tight timeline to meet the state requirements to have an ordinance in place by early next year and running it through too many committees while still holding the necessary public hearings would take too long.
SINCE the new rules treat growers who apply for permits as “farmers” doing “agriculture” (if they meet extensive and expensive state and county rules and permit requirements), it’s possible that Supervisor Brown, who sees herself as the Farm Bureau/Ag Supervisor and who certainly has her share of pot growers in her Potter Valley consituency, now thinks she ought to have more to do with the new regulatory/taxation process. (Supervisor Brown might also see a water angle with the process, but that’s just speculation.) At last count there were only 58 applicants for permits under whatever the new rules look like, but even that small number requires the County to have a whole new series of fees, zoning and taxation regs (on top of the cultivation rules that previously existed) in place on schedule.
FOR HIS PART, Supervisor Woodhouse was happy to be free of the pot reg drafting committee saying it “wasn’t fun” dealing with self-interested, greedy pot growers, apparently even the ones who were willing to come forward and get County/state permits to grow their pot.
A POLISHED lawyerish woman on the County’s staff named Sarah Dukett — who clearly has her act together and knows her subject matter — seems to be the lead staffer in the reg-writing process, as she introduced a draft set of regs to the Board that she claimed no one had previously seen.
SO EVEN though McCowen had gone to some trouble to submit a comprehensive list of the marijuana ad hoc committee’s accomplishments last week, Ms. Dukett's draft doesn’t seem to have derived from the McCowen/Woodhouse committee. McCowen has been slaving away on the County’s various pot rules for years and would seem to be a legitimate expert on the subject and it’s not hard to believe he’d be miffed to have the subject taken off his agenda at this late date.
BUT TO QUIT all the other committees he’s on seems like an overreaction. Maybe things will calm down as the process proceeds.
THE RAPE HEARD ROUND THE WORLD, an on-line comment: "No one gives a whit about the victim in this case. They can't, or it least it's difficult to, since her anonymity has been preserved by the court, as it should be. All that's left for them is their tabloid-and-talk-show-cured internet outrage, and an online target for their comments section venom. Turner, the rapist, is the perfect villain for soft, fat, angry American contempt. I am in no way excusing his behavior or sanctioning the relative leniency of his judicial sentencing, but the commentigentsia is far more interested in letting the Internet know how angry they are at the rapist then they are in making changes to prevent future rapes. Bravo, Internet Echo Chamber; you've done it again."
EVERYONE with ordinary human sympathies feels for the young woman assaulted by the Stanford necrophiliac. And her own statement about the crime is simply brilliant. She has definitely been heard from. And we'll probably hear directly from her when she's ready to be heard from directly.
WE AGREE that the judge should go. Like the perp, he's a Stanford guy and by definition a privileged person who meted out a wrist slap of a sentence to another blonde suburban beast, probably out of fond recall for his own easy slide through higher ed.
ORDINARILY, rape is an automatic 2-4 years in prison, not six months in a county jail that sees the perp out in three months. 2-4 years is the statutory minimum. In this circumstance the punk should have gotten a lot more time, which might have sent a message to the rest of the frat heads at "the prestigious university" where, according to a news report, there's an average of a rape a week.
THE STANFORD CASE has again brought seething class resentments to a boil. Class privilege is driving much of the anger over this depressing event, one more depressing event in a daily deluge of them, so many that the deluge numbs us to many of them. If the victim hadn't been so extraordinarily articulate, she would have simply been one more victim of a justice system terribly skewed to money and influence.
IN THE ONGOING DELUGE of anger at the judge and the perp, there is of course the predictable political cash-in by opportunists like Joe Biden who took precious time out of his busy schedule doing nothing to write a minor masterpiece of false feeling in the form of an "open letter" to the victim. When I saw the front page Chronicle headline announcing Biden's croc tears, I flashed back to that creepy visual of Biden caressing the wincing wife of some White House big shot as he whispered perv-drenched endearments into the trapped woman's ear. I'll bet Biden knows a thing or two about rape. Scott Simon of NPR, who long ago established the national standard for generalized fraudulent emotion was, of course, almost weeping with indignation.
SO, WE HAVE the usual national hypocrisy festival complete with vows from our cash and carry elected cadres to stop rape. Of middle-class white girls especially. I had to laugh at the Press Democrat's bold editorial called "Rape is rape, not '20 minutes of action’." That was the rapist's psychopathic father who said that, but I personally have yet to meet a single person who (1) reads Press Democrat editorials and (2) wouldn't read one even if it announced that the entire editorial staff had suddenly died from reading their own prose.
THE SILLIEST COMMENT I saw was in the SF Chron, sillier by the day with wayyyy too much fluff by prose-handicapped columnists. This one was a guest commenter whose title was, "The other reason for Brock Turner's short sentence." The other reason? He'd get assaulted in the county jail, maybe even sexually assaulted. Not a chance. Most people are doing only a few months in a county jail. They just want to do their time and get out. They are unlikely to risk a much longer sentence by attacking an infamously famous person. Anyway, jails are pretty well managed these days. The hard cases are kept separate from the catch-of-the-day people, with the vulnerable — crazy people, mainly — being confined to their own unit. Real bad guys of the assaultive type are housed in isolation cells. A criminal like the now world-renowned Turner would also be held in isolation simply because jail staffers have enough to deal with without lawsuits on top of their nearly impossible jobs. The worst thing about county jails is noise, followed closely by boredom. Food isn't all that bad and there is a lot of lively conversation, livelier than, say, you'll find anywhere during Pinot Fest.
OBAMA CARE is one of the great smash and grab crimes ever foisted off on Americans, which is saying a lot considering that our owners and their elected gofers are always thinking up new ways to rip us off. The insurance combines wrote Obama Care and we get the IRS sicced on us if we don't sign up. The Democrats are hailing this breathtaking rip-off as one of Obama's signal accomplishments, along with wiping out thousands of women and children who happen to share a house with an alleged terrorist when Obama's drone strikes.
A YOUNG BOONVILLE working guy we know makes about thirty grand a year. His Obama health insurance costs him $300 a month with, get this, a $5,000 deductible! And this scam will likely cost him more because the insurance carriers can raise rates whenever they feel like raising them. Not to mention the co-pays if he ever actual needs professional medical attention.
HERE'S SOME MORE bad info for you. The Ellen McArthur Foundation reports that by 2015 there was more plastic than fish in the sea. About one third of all plastic produced winds up in the ocean, the McArthur study found. Every minute, tons of plastic leaks into the ocean, which is equivalent to a garbage truck dumping it in every minute.
UNSOLICITED praise for Paul McCarthy's wondrous blog, MendocinoSportsPlus. The indefatigable Elk journalist gets up a truly amazing volume of mostly local news and information every day, including all events great and small from the Mendocino Coast, from passing ship traffic, to videos of school graduation ceremonies, breaking police news, the weather, and, of course, local sports all the way down to coed softball. If you don't send this guy a few appreciative bucks, give him an attaboy when you see him around. I check in with MSP at least a couple of times a day.
KEITH FAULDER'S election as Mendo Superior Court judge is bad news for Ukiah murder "suspect," Dr. Peter Keegan. A few days after Keegan bludgeoned Mrs. Keegan to death, his wife of thirty years, the doctor hired Faulder, a first rate criminal defense attorney. The doctor said Mrs. Keegan had died from a bathroom fall, so why would he hustle out and get himself the top legal gun in the County? (Because he did it.) The Faulder hire is only one piece of evidence against the healing professional in a tsunami of evidence pointing straight at him. Unaccountably, Mrs. Keegan's murder remains unprosecuted five years later although her official cause of death reads "homicide." Doctor Keegan was the only person alive in the Keegan home when the sun came up, a fact that would eventually rouse suspicion though at first it magically didn't.
WE THINK KEEGAN has gone on unprosecuted because DA Eyster, an excellent courtroom attorney himself, has been afraid to take on Keegan and Faulder, as if it's the DA's decision to decide life and death matters and not a jury's mandated responsibility. Any capable defense attorney is likely to inspire "reasonable doubt" in the mind of a juror or two, but that's no reason for DA Eyster NOT to let a jury decide if they think Doctor Keegan murdered his wife.
MORE LOCAL COURT HISTORY
by (retired) Judge James Luther
Thank you for Bob Dempel’s article about Judge Manning and the old Sanel Justice Court in Hopland. Like Mr. Dempel, I have listened to Judge Manning’s sentencing lecture. In the early 1970s I appeared with my client in the Judge’s living room to enter a Guilty plea to Driving Under the Influence. I remember some of the Judge’s words: “Well, sometimes we all like to have a little fun and have a few drinks, and that’s OK, but it’s dangerous to then go out and drive a car. You could hurt someone. So be very sure you don’t ever do that again.” Followed by a lot of elaboration on that message and, eventually, pronouncement of judgment with a fine and probation. His attitude was empathetic and counseling rather than judgmental. He was one of several exceptionally good judges among the non-lawyer justice court judges then sitting in Mendocino County. Another was Judge Collins in the Little Lake Justice Court up in Willits before whom I once tried a misdemeanor jury case. I never appeared before them but at least got to meet Judge Carver who sat in Laytonville, Judge Storer in Fort Bragg, Judge Reynolds in Mendocino, Judge Slavens in Point Arena, and Judge Mannix in Boonville, and my impression of them was that they knew and acted as though they were expected to be well-respected judges in their communities and so they were.
Mostly part-time and usually presided over by lay judges, the justice courts in California had a long history. Established even before statehood by the Constitution of 1849 and first known as “justice of the peace courts,” there were about 600 of them still operating in their small individual judicial townships in the early 20th Century. Twelve of them were in Mendocino County. (See the attached chart, “Mendocino County Justice Courts in 1919.”) While a superior court in each county handled the “big” cases, California’s justice courts had jurisdiction over the traffic and criminal infractions and misdemeanors, small claims, and small civil cases. Some of them also conducted felony preliminary hearings. The counties had to pay most or all of the expenses to operate their justice courts. Because of that and because the county supervisors knew their counties’ local territories and the needs of their local populations for access to justice, the decision to operate — or to close — a particular county’s justice court was legally up to the board of supervisors in that county.
In 1930, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors closed the justice courts in Potter Valley and Westport.
In 1969, the Board closed the justice court in Elk.
As Mr. Dempel noted, in the mid-1970’s the law changed to require that all justice court judges in California had to be lawyers licensed to practice law. So after the elections of 1976 there were no more lay judges in Mendocino County.
In 1982, the Board closed the justice courts in Mendocino and Hopland.
In or just before 1990, the Board consolidated the justice courts in Ukiah and Willits into a single two-judge judicial district. Court sessions continued to be held in both Ukiah and Willits. Because it contained more than 40,000 residents, the new district became a municipal court district called the Mount Sanhedrin Judicial District.
So by 1994 in Mendocino County there were five justice courts, each with its own judge, one sitting substantially more than half-time in Fort Bragg, and the other four sitting part-time in Covelo, Point Arena, Laytonville, and Boonville (the justice court in Yorkville had earlier been moved to Philo and then to Boonville). There was one municipal court with two judges both sitting full-time in Ukiah and Willits. To hear the felonies, probate, family law, juvenile, large civil and the other unlimited jurisdiction cases, the County’s one superior court now had three judges, all sitting full-time in Ukiah.
That year, 1994, by constitutional amendment, all the justice courts in the state were abolished and became municipal courts, each with its own full-time judge. In Mendocino County, the municipal courts then held court in seven locations: Covelo, Point Arena, Laytonville, Boonville, Fort Bragg, Ukiah, and Willits.
By the end of 1996, a statute had been enacted scheduling two of the seven new municipal court judgeships in Mendocino County to be eliminated — one in 1998 and the other in 2000 — leaving five municipal court judges continuing to hold court in the seven existing municipal court locations.
In 1998, another constitutional amendment granted the judges in each county the power to unify their separate superior court and municipal courts into a single superior court and to elevate all their municipal court judges into superior court judges. Within two months the municipal court judges and the superior court judges in Mendocino County voted to do that, making them all superior court judges. (By 2001, the judges in all 58 California counties had voted to do the same.) So in 1998 Mendocino County’s seven municipal court locations became seven branch court locations of the Mendocino County Superior Court.
After 1998, the state rather than the counties controlled the funding of California’s trial courts. So whether to operate or close an outlying court in a county was no longer a question for its board of supervisors to decide; instead from then on it was a decision for the judges in that county to make.
In the early 2000’s, the judges in Mendocino County closed the branch courts in Laytonville and Boonville.
In 2009, the judges closed the branch court in Willits.
Last year, the judges closed the branch court in Covelo.
Today there are no more justice court judges or municipal court judges in California. There are only superior court judges. In Mendocino County, there are eight superior court judges. Seven of them sit in Ukiah, and one of them sits in Fort Bragg. The Fort Bragg judge also travels to Point Arena to hold court there, three days every year. Court is no longer held anywhere else in the County.
* * *
Mendocino County Justice Courts
Justice of the Peace / Constable / Judicial Township
C.V. Jones / Grover King / Potter Valley Township, Potter Valley
J.C. Hurley / Joe Weselsky / Ukiah Township, Ukiah
E.M. Whitney / J. M. Whitcomb / Little Lake Township, Willits
G.R. Redwine / W. H. Ries / Round Valley Township, Covelo
F.A. Whipple / Bert Johnson / Ten Mile River Township, Fort Bragg
C.M. Walker / C. J. Buchanan, Jr. / Cuffey’s Cove Township, Elk
J.W. Kingren / W. A. Kirkland / Arena Township, Point Arena
George E. Furniss / J. E. Branscomb / Long Valley Township, Laytonville
George M. Roach / A. B. Snider / Westport Township, Westport
W.T. Wallace / A. L. Patton / Big River Township, Mendocino
F.H. Brown / George E. Reilly / Anderson Township, Yorkville
James Clendenin / A. H. Adams / Sanel Township, Hopland
* Source: California Secretary of State, Roster of State, County, City, and Township Officials, October 1, 1919.
WILLITS BYPASS GETTING CLOSER TO REALITY
by Hank Sims
Someday soon, Humboldt drivers coming from or going to points south will shoot right around the Mendocino County town of Willits by default, avoiding its legendarily traffic-clogged streets. Some people have been waiting for this for literally 50 years or more; others deplore it as a destructive, unnecessary project. But it’s just about built.
There is no set-in-stone date for the bypass’ grand opening. A couple of months ago, the Willits News reported that Caltrans is shooting for September, but that construction contracts technically run through November. So who knows.
It’s getting close, in any case. Check out this video Caltrans District One shot yesterday. The driver drove slowly, but speeded up the video in post-production to approximately simulate a passage through the bypass at a legal and safe 55 miles per hour.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 11, 2016
BASILIO ANGUIANO, Ukiah. Under influence, resisting, probation revocation.
HUGO BARAJAS, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
SHANNON BARDEN, Covelo. Under influence, suspended license, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
WILLIAM CANIDA, Point Arena. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
EDWARD ESQUIVEL, Willits. Burglary.
GERARD LARVIE, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, probation revocation.
RAFAEL MALDONADO-MATA, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, criminal threats, probation revocation.
TYLER MAUPIN, Garberville/Ukiah. Unlawful registration, controlled substance, receiving stolen property, suspended license.
JAMES MORAIS, Potter Valley. Probation revocation.
INESSA NELSON, Ukiah. Domestic assault, resisting,
DANNY RAY, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
KRISTOPHER SPARKMAN, Boonville. Petty theft, failure to appear, probation revocation.
NIKO STEFFEN, Willits. DUI.
TOPLESS COURT-INVADER WITH ‘TRUMP SUCKS’ PAINTED ON HIS CHEST STORMS NBA FINALS
The ‘Trump Sucks’ guy charged on to the court during Friday night's playoff basketball game between the Warriors and the Cavs. The NBA, and its courtside announcer-shills, pretended it didn't happen. Viewers were neither shown nor told what had happened. We didn't see this picture until Saturday morning. Not that we approve of drunks and random nuts running on to the fields of play, but sparing us viewers the occasional disruption assumes that ball games are somehow apart from the real world. The NBA did let us see Draymond's famous kick to Adam's pills and last nights almost-fight between Draymond and LeBron. The Trump Sucks guy was the first political streaker we've seen in years, and had undoubtedly paid a small fortune to get into the auditorium. Oh, and one more minor beef: How about an occasional close-up of interesting fans. During the Giants telecasts we get them. Granted, baseball has a lot more time between plays but basketball draws some real doozies. Let's see one occasionally for our End of Days memory book.
EVERYBODY KNEW that the awful day would come when the Queen of Chaos, the Empress of Ineptitude, would become the Democratic Party’s “presumptive” nominee.
It did last Tuesday. Wall Streeters, Cold Warriors, “humanitarian” interveners, Zionist settler supporters, and other assorted miscreants can now rejoice!
Add to that list those who think that, at last, little girls can grow up thinking that the “glass ceiling” is gone – as if it wasn’t already by 1984, when Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro to run as his Vice President.
Even the most retrograde right-wingers understand this: how else to explain the Sarah Palin cult? It is only liberal ladies of a certain age that are married to their nonsense.
In truth, Hillary’s problem has never been that she is a woman; it is that she is the woman she is.
But compelling evidence and sound arguments are useless in the face of ideologically fixed ideas; and so, the Gloria Steinem types are happy too. However, for everyone whose moral compass is sound and whose head is screwed on right, this final “super Tuesday” was, and always will be, a day of infamy.
Blame those infernal super-delegates, the potentates of the lesser evil party. The Clintons helped make them what they are; now Hillary is reaping the rewards.
Blame Donald Trump too. Thanks to him, Hillary — though broadly, deeply, and justifiably despised — is bound to become the next President of the United States. Only divine intervention can stop her now.
This spells trouble ahead, just as surely as would the prospect of a President Trump. The difference is that that Trump only has a theoretical chance of becoming President, while a Clinton presidency is all but inevitable…
BERNIE & BEETHOVEN
by David Yearsley
When Bernie Saunders informed Rolling Stone last year that he “really loves music” and that his tastes were “eclectic,” I believed what he said. In his short interview with the magazine there was no evidence of the insidious focus-grouping, algorithmning, and playlist-consulting that went into the fabrication of Hillary Clinton’s musical image. In spite of these subterfuges, all knew that hers was a transparent campaign to glom onto young people’s music and thereby pull the sonic rug out from under the Vermont senator’s pre-disco feet. She wasn’t hugging her opponent according to the usual Clinton choreography. She was trying to take him down. As her handlers might well have predicted, however, the ploy had the opposite effect, coating the now-presumptive candidate in yet another layer of smarmy establishment glaze.
In contrast to these dance floor triangulations and their essential corollary (never let a Clinton hug you, on the parquet or off it), Bernie’s listening habits appear forthright and honest. The first and only composer he mentioned to Rolling Stone was Beethoven. Bernie wagged his iPad, stating, rather than boasting, that the composer’s complete works were on the computer, implying that he listened to the stuff regularly. The eclectic element of his musical proclivities came by way of Motown — the Temptations and the Supremes, hardly the up-to-date fodder doled out by Hillary and her DJs.
As for Beethoven, Bernie didn’t offer particulars on which monuments and lesser-known corners of the massive oeuvre were among his favorites. One doesn’t plow through 138 opus numbers and some 200 lesser WoOs (Werke ohne Opuszahl — works without opus numbers) of an evening or even a long bus ride across Iowa.
Does Bernie get fired up by Beethoven’s Fifth before a stump speech? After a tough day on the campaign trail does he go in for a late string quartet or a songful stretch of An die ferne Geliebte? Or is it the bombastic idealism of the Ode to Joy that floats the Bernie boat?
Such ruminations make me think that a Bernie & Beethoven interactive board game could be fun. Which of Ludwig Van’s hits plays when your birkenstocked little figure lands on the “Presidential Campaign Announcement” square; or that for “Debate Night”; or the “Smoke Filled Room” or “Rollover Beethoven: Concession Speech.”
As a playlist propaedeutic for this good clean form of family fun we start with some general inquiries into what might be the Vermont senator’s favorites. And to hone in these we begin by fitting musical tastes to political image. Of course, the relationship between a politician and his or her musical affinities is often unpredictable, even oxymoronic. Who would ever have thought that the ruthless Dick Nixon, the best presidential pianist ever to tinkle the ivories, was such a soft-focus Romantic at the keyboard, as his first “concerto” confirms. The same goes for Donald Trump’s admitted fondness for Michael Jackson’s greatest hits.
Beethoven is an odd, maybe even ill-advised champion to embrace. His is the music of the symphony hall in whose foyers are engraved the names of the one-percenters and corporate behemoths. Yet this apparent contradiction only seems to confirm the honesty of Sander’s musical inclinations, since Beethoven is unlikely to send anything but an elitist message out to the masses, though Obama’s 2008 declaration of devotion to the Bach cello suites offers precedent. Perhaps as a result of the presidential embrace these unlikely works are now experiencing a global renaissance.
Nonetheless, if we allow Bernie’s avowed political views to guide us through the Beethoven catalog we might land first on the third Symphony — the “Eroica.” As the title declares this is heroic music animated by outsized striving against the gravest of forces: Beethoven the Battler, Bernie the Battler. The symphony was originally dedicated to Napoleon, then First Consul of France and a symbol progressives like Beethoven of anti-autocratic, even democratic ideals. But after learning that Bonaparte had crowned himself Emperor in 1804, Beethoven flew into a rage and declared: “Now he too will tread under foot all the rights of Man and indulge only his ambition … [and] become a tyrant.” In one of the most famous acts of music history, Beethoven then supposedly grabbed the score to the symphony and, according to his student Ferdinand Ries, tore off the title page. Yet we know that Beethoven retained huge admiration for, and later lamented the death of, the Frenchman, often described as diminutive, but in fact at least a couple inches taller than Beethoven.
Whatever the historical truth and political meaning of the symphony, the bottom line is this: through the work the composer is heard to speak truth to power. Therefore it can count as Bernie’s theme song each time he passes “go.” The Vermonter, still sporting wild Beethoven hair, marches to the dais emblazoned with the red, white and blue of liberté, fraternité, and egalité to the slashing opening chords ofEroica, its first movement, like Bernie himself, militantly refusing to follow tidy classical paradigms, instead sallying forth into the face of intense opposition and launching its own epic campaign against the ranks of evil. Bernie tears the cover off of Hillary’s pseudo-populism to reveal the Queen of Wall Street in her rampant monarchic splendor. And after the excitement of the confrontation, the symphony’s celebrated funeral march can intone the aftermath of the California Primary.
Or what about another of brace Beethovenian heroism from a few years later: the overture he composed for a Viennese production of Goethe’s tragedy Egmont. In this scenario transposed to the Democratic National Convention, Bernie is the Dutch freedom fighter resisting Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Duke of Alba, the ruthless oppressor. The hero does not survive, and even his beloved takes her own life. But what resolve in the face of insurmountable odds! Like Bernie’s own struggle, the work troubled by dark and foreboding clouds from the start. But in the end the music triumphs: even if the protagonist dies, his message reverberates far into the future.
But come the end of July in Philadelphia I fear not a real clash of enemies, not a Waterloo moment, but a more sinister of closing of ranks. Instead of Egmont queue-up Wellington’s Victory, a work commemorating the allied forces’ victory in 1813 over the French at the Battle of Vitoria in Spain. Originally commissioned for a mechanical orchestral machine, Beethoven expanded the piece into a full orchestral maneuver, even equipping the work with simulated musket and artillery fire. Bernie is no pacifist and when it comes to routing Trump, he’ll light the cannon’s fuse himself.
Wellington’s Victory was a huge hit in its day, though subsequent music historians pilloried it as nothing but debased pandering: mere depictive battle music, rather than the sublime abstractions of the symphonies: it is about men in action rather than about music itself. Yet at the Viennese premiere in 1813 it was paired with another warhorse of the heroic style, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, suggesting that both works are animated by the same musical ideology: Beethoven the symphonist and Beethoven the tub thumper were not as different from one another as many would like. Wellington’s Victory has been banished from the concert hall since its fiery heyday in the Napoleonic Era. Now it is mostly to be heard in outdoor concerts like the Battle Proms in Britain, events where fighter planes do tricks and historic bloodbaths are reenacted.
Into the bloody tableau Beethoven worked in popular militaristic songs such as Rule Britannia — another tactic that earned the disapproval of later commentators. He was forbidden from weaving in the Marseillaise, however, since that revolutionary tune was banned in Vienna. Certain things cannot be said at the rituals of empire, be that empire Hapsburg or American. Certain things cannot be said or sung when the shooting war begins.
After the rockets of Philadelphia have glared redly and died, Bernie will return home to Vermont with his laptop in tow and perhaps then click on Beethoven’s late quartet, op. 135, the last large-scale work he finished the year before his death. The score of the final movement is titled “The difficult decision”; Beethoven then asks “Must it be?” and answers the question: “It must be!” The soul-searching of the slow introduction gives way to sprightly music that ends in a light-hearted, even humorous vein. Perhaps it was all a joke: especially that bit about the Super Delegates.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at email@example.com)