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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Sept. 9, 2016

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YOU SEE a lot of comments like this one on the HumCo blogs: "Eureka People stay in your house and lock your doors, windows, barricade your property, Eureka is a bigger mess than its ever been, is this what its come to? Actually, all of Humboldt County is in trouble."

HAVEN'T been to Eureka in a while, but I have been to Garberville-Redway, and it's like a kind of over-populated homeless camp. Thanatoids everywhere, and an overall visual presenting the downside of the dope industry.

AS MEGA-GROWS proliferate in the hills of the eco-battered Emerald Triangle, even here in the Anderson Valley, where the love drug competes for land with the wine industry for every available inch, seems from here that what we have is the cultivation of land that once was, and still should be, timber and cattle and sheep. Both our thriving intoxicant industries are headed for major crashes. Legalization of dope will move it to the Central Valley for full-on industrial production, thus ruining the mom and pops still hanging on on the Northcoast. Three-buck Chuck being just as good as the wines going for thirty to forty bucks at Safeway, the smaller vineyards and wineries will be eaten by the Gallos and other of the big boys. The timber industry was real, the intoxicants are a passing fad.

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DAMIN PASHILK, the (alleged) arsonist who started the Clayton fire that burned much of downtown Lower Lake and surrounding areas, has been charged with setting four more fires.

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California's Best Undiscovered Pinot Noirs -- Anderson Valley

by Nick Passmore

There are only two kinds of Pinot Noir fans: those who’ve never heard of Anderson Valley Pinot, and those who love Anderson Valley Pinot.

There probably isn’t a local ordinance mandating the wearing of plaid in Anderson Valley, but you could have fooled me so ubiquitous are the shirts.

This region of wonderful Pinot Noirs two hours north of San Francisco – you just head through Sonoma and keep going – is very, very far, in style and style from the manicured, spa-studded luxury of Napa. These are dirt-under-the-fingernails farmers, and though I didn’t actually spy a John Deere cap, I felt sure I’d encounter one climbing off a tractor any minute. I was overdressed in my East Coast chinos and denim shirt. I wasn’t wearing plaid.

Anderson Valley’s appeal to Pinot makers is its cool climate. It facilitates the sort of elegant, restrained Pinot more akin to Oregon’s Willamette Valley or Burgundy than sunnier climbs [sic] to the south like Napa, Sonoma and Santa Ynez Valley, regions that tend to turn out bigger, riper, plumper wines. Okay if you like that sort of thing, but I prefer my Pinot to display its charms more subtly, to make its approach with more finesse: Anderson Valley Pinots do just that. They’re not about power and concentration, but sing of bright, fresh fruit with graceful harmony, at least when the winemakers get it right.

It’s easy to grow wine, lots of wine, in a warm climate, but if you want to make the best wine a particular varietal is capable of you need to go the most northern limits of where that particular grape will ripen. That’s what they’re doing in cool Anderson Valley.

It’s about 15 miles long, and runs to the northwest parallel to the coast till it opens to the Pacific just south of Mendocino.

The ocean is key here, providing cooling early morning mists that roll up the valley till they burn off as the day advances.

It’s a steep valley, the plush bottom land flanked by dense growths of monumental Redwoods and Douglas Firs still so prolific it’s easy to imagine the place 100 years ago when no one had thought of growing wine here and logging was king.

The logging industry died a painful death a while back but it has been replaced by a steadily expanding wine business.

Boonville, one of the small towns along Route 128 that runs the length of the valley, has the appearance of a not very prosperous farm town – the boarded-up Boonville Saloon and the hardware store that stepped right out of a Walker Evans photograph from the 1930’s present a face to the world so very different from glossy, upscale wine country elsewhere in the state.


Despite its remoteness the region’s Pinot potential has not gone unnoticed by big-time producers. Kendall-Jackson recently bought Copain, Napa’s Duckhorn operates Golden Eye Winery in Philo, Long Meadow Ranch purchased vineyards in AV, and, of course, the Champagne house Roederer has been making some of America’s best fizz here since the 1980’s.

Every May the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association holds the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. Part is a series of technical sessions involving legal, regulatory, grape growing and winemaking issues. I’m sure these are of interest, even vital import, to winemakers in the valley, but for me, less so.

However, there’s an extremely civilized and enlightening walk-around tasting. No jostling crowds, no winemakers extolling the virtues of their wine, no elbowing one’s way to the crachoir, just a quiet calm in which to consider the 35 Pinots on display. You can see my pick of the best at the end of this article.

The main attraction of the festival for the thirsty Pinot fans is the Grand Tasting held in several large tents in the middle of Goldeneye’s vineyards. Many dozens of wineries enthusiastically dispense their wines from tables interspersed with offerings of all kinds of local artisanal food. A band plays country music – yup, it’s that kind of a place – and despite the periodic torrential rain, everyone has a very jolly time.

Its distance from the Bay Area, and the twisty Route 128 you take from when you leave the main highway in Cloverdale, are why AV retains it’s rural, undeveloped feel.

It’s also the reason their wines are less celebrated a they deserve to be.

They don’t get many tour buses or limos full of over-served bridesmaids-to-be, but the visitors who do make the trip — and there were 800 tickets sold for the 2016 Grand Tasting — are serious, knowledgeable wine enthusiasts – they taste as well as drink.

Anderson Valley is a wine destination, not a party venue for day trippers on a binge.

Winemaking was bought to the Valley in the late 19th century by European immigrants; but Prohibition, the Great Depression and a climate too cool to make high-yield jug wine meant the industry had disappeared by the 1950’s. Modern winemaking returned in the ’60, when, first Dr. Donald Edmeades planted grapes, and later Tony and Gretchen Husch bought 60 acres near Edmeades and planted Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir in 1968. They crushed their first fruit in 1972 founding Husch Vineyards, Anderson Valley’s first winery since Prohibition.

Since then growth has been organic, with the distance from San Francisco limiting the world’s awareness of the wines, but growth there has been. In 1983 Anderson Valley became an AVA. In 2007 grapes sold for $2,000 a ton, by 2015 that had risen to $3,000, approaching Sonoma’s $3,500. In 2012 AV passed Napa in Pinot production.

Much of the appeal of Anderson Valley for me – apart from the wonderful Pinot (they also produce super, cool-climate whites, but that’s a subject for another day) is its small town charm.

Growing bored with the long, but no doubt fascinating, discussion of some proposed arcane regulatory change, I wander out and stroll down the almost deserted mid-day main street of Boonville.

It occurs to me that this is what Napa must have looked like 60 years ago, before the big money rolled in: no nail salons, no swank, Michelin-starred restaurants with month long waiting lists, no hostelries named Auberge something or other.

Romantic hokum you could well object, coming from someone who lives in the heart of Manhattan, but that doesn’t mean the place doesn’t hold a lot of charm for me.

Also, I like to think that the sort of people who chose to live in this beautiful, remote valley are just the sort of wine-for-the-sake-of-wine people who are going to make the brilliant, illuminating, transcendent Pinots I so cherish.

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My Winning Anderson Valley Pinots Noirs

Baxter Pinot Noir, Langley Vineyard 2014, $48 — Fabulous! Will evolve into a full-figured red-cherry beauty.

Cakebread Cellars, Two Peeks 2014, $42 — Round, soft and pleasingly accessible. Perfect for current drinking if not a truly great Pinot.

Copain, Wendling Pinot Noir 2013, $60 — Glorious! Almost Burgundian in its magical, illusionist combination of power and grace.

Donum Pinot Noir 2013, $69 — Warm and embracing. Perfect for current drinking.

Elke Pinot Noir, Donnelly Creek Vineyard 2013, $36 — Light on its feet, nimble, pretty and floral.

Expression Pinot Noir, Ordway Vineyard 2013, $50 — Surprisingly elegant for a wine so juicy and approachable, perhaps an appropriate description for Anderson Valley Pinots as a whole.

Foursight, Charles Vineyard Clone 05, 2013, $49 — A pure harmony of ripe red cherries, a subtle spiciness and a structure of steel filigree.

Fulcrum Pinot Noir 2014, $57 — Taught, angular and beautifully constructed. Flawless, excepting it needs five years to come into it’s prime.

Husch, Ferrington Vineyard 2013, $38 — Aromas and flavors of raspberries and blackberries just explode from the glass, followed by hints of wet earth complexity, what the French call sous bois, that will only intensify with time.

Knez, Estate Cerise Pinot Noir 2009, $38 — Plump, ripe and pillowy, a sensual delight.

Maryetta Wines Pinot Noir 2014, $38 — Pure refinement, with the under-stated lady-like grace of a 19th century aristocrat.

Pennyroyal Farm Pinot Noir 2013, $39. — Fuller and rounder than most of the 2013′s, perfect for drinking now.

Philo Ridge Vineyards Pinot Noir, Philo Vineyard & Ferrington Vineyard 2012, $36 — Full and mouth-fillingly rich, shot through with zig-zags of peppery spice. The added year in the bottle really pays off in comparison to the other wines in the tasting as the wine shows an uncommon degree of complexity, along with a nice balance of red Pinot Noir fruit and crisp PN grip.

(Forbes Magazine)

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THE MAJOR sent the following comment to Forbes. Forbes apparently discourages comments. They have a very strict comment policy with about a dozen rules (some reasonable, some arbitrary). They also require you to “register” to comment — which we did and then we got an email with a code to allow us to comment. Forbes allows comments via social media but none of the ones we tried worked; they just produced blank windows. (But that could be us: old guys are not exactly “social media” savvy.)

The Major commented:

“A very narrow review. No mention of the underpaid Mexicans who do the real work of grape growing and wine making, nor of their kids who make up almost 90% of the local student body. No mention of the huge amounts of pesticides and sulphur applied by most of the wineries mentioned, none of which are organic. No mention of the water table depletion and river dewatering that goes into the hundreds and hundreds of huge ponds that the thirsty shallow rooted vines require. No mention of the giant wind machines that keep most of the Valley awake on many spring nights to keep the grapes from freezing. No mention of the land speculation and housing shortage that the wine industry has brought to the Valley, making it very difficult for non-wine people (and workers) to own or rent a reasonable bit of shelter. No mention of the low-grade contempt the local wine industry is held in from most non-wine locals. No mention of the “poor us” attitude the wine industry takes whenever anyone is brave enough to complain about them on even minor matters. Otherwise: a great piece of ad copy writing! PS. Mary Elke, a nice lady featured in your piece, does not live in Anderson Valley, nor do the Cakebread owners, the Duckhorn owners, the French imperialists who own Roederer, the Jackson family descendants and most of the other larger vineyards and wineries. As long as they can get $40-$60 or more for a bottle of wine that costs — at most — $8 to produce, what do they care what the locals think?”

AND GOOD LUCK FINDING The Major’s comment at

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IN THE EARLY 19th century, England stored a large criminal population on decrepit ships anchored in the Thames prior to shipping them to the Brit's new penal colony in Australia. (Robert Hughes' wonderful book called The Fatal Shore memorably describes the settling of Australia by colonies of criminals, most of whom were shipped from England on the flimsiest evidence for the flimsiest of reasons. When the prisoners arrived, they were flogged for the most trivial violations, and I mean flogged. The guys they called "iron men" would take 200 lashes and spit at the feet of their flogger.)

FRISCO is thinking about stashing its homeless population on a reconditioned Navy ship, specifically surplus amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu, a small aircraft carrier complete with sleeping quarters, kitchens, medical clinics, offices and recreation facilities, carried 2,200 Marines, 2,500 sailors and 262 officers, totaling almost 5,000 military personnel working and living aboard the ship for months at sea.

HECK, why stop with the homeless? How about ordinary renters? Lots of room in the Bay to tie up these old boats and lease rooms to working people.

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THE FUTURE of newspapers is here. Brand-new, online, Mendo-based newspaper rolling out soon. Kate Maxwell formerly of Willits News, Sarah Reith formerly of the UDJ, Adrian Baumann, Kym Kemp. We understand it's a pot-centric publication funded by grower(s). Focus on the North County.

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I DON’T MEAN TO BE NOSTALGIC, but those days are kind of gone. Newsrooms have changed so much. First of all, they’ve shrunk dramatically. They’re more like insurance offices than like the old newsrooms. It was kind of a golden time, sitting around in smoky darkness just talking about editors and how they screwed up the headline on your story. It was a great thing. You had a drink or two and then you’d go home. The mass exodus from the newsroom to the bar — I doubt if it exists much anymore because there are no masses to exodus. Newsrooms are so small.

— Carl Hiaasen

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15th Ave. & California St., San Francisco — The victim received a phone call from a male suspect claiming to be her grandson. The suspect claimed he had been arrested after causing a bad car accident, and said he needed bail money. The suspect told the victim he needed $2000 for bail, at which time he gave the phone to a second suspect claiming to be the grandson’s attorney. The second suspect directed the victim to go to the CVS pharmacy and purchase $2000 in Amazon gift cards. The victim immediately went to the pharmacy and did as the suspect directed. When the victim returned home she called the suspect and supplied him with the gift card codes to pay for the bail. The next day the suspect called back and told the victim the bail had been changed to $3000, and demanded more money. The victim was directed to provide the suspect $3000 in Apple gift cards. The victim went to the mall and purchased Apple Gift cards in that amount and again provided the card codes to the suspect. The suspect called back again and informed the victim the other party involved in the car accident had died and the bail amount was now $1,000,000. The victim became suspicious and contacted her grandson, who told her he was fine and was never involved in a car accident. The victim realized she was scammed and immediately responded to Richmond Station to file a police report.

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Announcing Aging and Disability Coalition of Lake and Mendocino Counties

Disability Services & Legal Center and Community Care Management Corporation are announcing the formation of a regional aging and disability service and advocacy coalition. We are actively seeking community partners to participate in our efforts toward improving healthcare and supportive services for older adults and people with disabilities in Mendocino & Lake Counties. For information, contact Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) at (707) 462-4498. Supported by a grant from the SCAN Foundation - "advancing a coordinated and easily navigated system of high-quality services for older adults that preserve dignity and independence." For more information, visit

Kathy Johnson
Community Resources Specialist
Senior Information & Assistance Program
Community Care
Phone (707) 468-5132
301 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
(707) 468-9347

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Rich Culbertson: The Face of Public Radio, Mendocino County
Rich Culbertson: The Face of Public Radio, Mendocino County

Mendocino County Cannabis Hour, a KZYX call-in show hosted by Jane Futcher, Thursday, September 8, 2016 .

(Earlier in the show Ms. Futcher’s guests, Supervisor John McCowen and County Trash Czar Mike 'Mike the Maoist' Sweeney, and Mendocino County's most thoroughly re-invented personality, explained that they were against the medical marijuana cultivation initiative (aka Measure AF) for reasons which included that it did not require an environmental review, whereas the County’s ordinance will undergo environmental review.)

Caller “Mary” from Willits pointed out that Caltrans and Mr. Sweeney’s Fort Bragg Transfer station that’s been ramrodded through the process have had environmental reviews but there’s still a lot of environmental damage and that therefore there is a double standard being employed by the opponents of Measure AF:

“You talk about environmental impact. I think Measure AF does handle responsible stewardship of the land. It's not saying that they are not going to comply. I think jobs are imperative. The timber industry is gone, what are people going to do? You talk about environmental impact. Well, what Caltrans has done to Covelo Road, a salmon bearing creek. So there is a double standard that's being drawn here by the County Counsel, by the people like Mike Sweeney with your garbage industry taking acres and acres and destroying natural habitat on the coast. There are many issues but if the people of this county are trying to get themselves in compliance so that they can somehow support their families and provide medicine — we've got alcohol, we've got the pharmaceutical industry, the drugs that are being pushed on the kids — if people can provide their own medicine and their own self-sustaining, as the timber industry has done with natural resources. Tobacco, hemp, have been used throughout the world, China, Canada, people all over the planet are raising hemp and marijuana. Our area has been able to sustain cannabis as a black market as we know. Farmers are trying to get in compliance and there just has to be — the cost of jails, the cost of enforcement and meanwhile there's 10,000 plants — there's an article in the paper two or three years ago where there were 150 gardens in Yolla Bollies. Ten thousand plants, which is the cartels that are doing the extreme damage. Don't bother the mothers and fathers. If the people are choosing to put an initiative on the ballot —”

Futcher: “What's your question, Mary?”

Mary: “Okay, I think we need to allow and permit the people to have a voice.”

McCowen (referring to Measure AI a semi-competing initiative the County of Mendocino has put on the November ballot): “And the county process allows for that with public review and public hearings.”

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September 1, 2016

Subject: Mendocino County Medical Cannabis Cultivation Ordnance.

Dear State, Federal, Local Agencies And Interested Parties:

The County of Mendocino as the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act is in the process of preparing an initial study to evaluate the impact of adopting a comprehensive ordnance regulating the cultivation, transport, and sale of medical cannabis. The proposed ordinance seeks to establish local level regulation consistent with a variety of state regulations including the medical marijuana regulation and safety act and the cannabis cultivation waste discharge regulatory program administered by the North Coast regional water quality control Board.

The proposed ordinance will consist of Chapter 10A.17 of the Mendocino County code and chapter 20.242 of the Mendocino County zoning ordinance. The proposed ordinance applies to inland areas of the county. The coastal zone is not affected.

The environmental review is currently in the preliminary phase and we are seeking early consultation from responsible agencies, trustee agencies and interested parties.

You can find a complete copy of the draft ordinance at Please review these materials and provide input you may have regarding the potential for environmental effects in your area of expertise or interest. Your response is requested by September 19, 2016.

If you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Burks AICP planning manager with Laco Associates at 707/443-5054 or via e-mail at

Sincerely, Andy Gustafson, Chief Planner,

Mendocino County Planning and Building department

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by Jonathan Middlebrook

Voting for the actual text of a law makes bad law, because most voters won't read the legalese they're voting on. And even when we do read it, we'll have only the sketchiest (mis)understanding of what we're voting up or down, likely by nefarious design -- example: Proposition 13. In 1978, and now, it was a civilized idea not to tax fixed-income oldsters out of their houses. Forces other than taxes will put their houses on the market soon enough. Then, and now, it was not a good idea to apply the same principle to corporations' real estate. Corporations may be people, but they're people who do not die or market their re-assessable property so inevitably and promptly as human people do. Hence, over time, We the voting Peeps, have come to pay relatively higher property assessments/taxes than they, the corporatized peeps do. In 1978, We the P didn't notice that aspect of Prop 13. You of course know where I'm headed with this old news.

Come November we'll be voting on Measure AF, the “Mendocino Heritage Act,” all 60 pages of it. Spoiler alert: I have read the MHA (only once so far, but for this column I'm talking first principles). Measure AF is a lousy way to write a County ordinance. We elect supervisors (who should have paid staff) to do the nuts-and-bolts work of spelling out where butane can be used to manufacture commercial medical marijuana products, how high hoop building sidewalls can be, or whether “medical use is a principal permitted use [in] zoning districts SR, RR, AG, UR, RL, FL, TPZ, R-1, R-2, R-3, RC, C-1, C-2, I-1, I-2, P-1, OS, and PF, subject to the conditions and limitations set forth in this section,” ad the tedium of necessary regulatory detail.

Your voter info quiz: What's zoning district FL?

So I'm against Measure AF on principled grounds (proponents of AF may say “prejudiced grounds”). Yet, because I have courteous neighbors and good friends who are growers up here in Black Bart country, I feel the importance of saying that I'm not against cannabis cultivation, transport, etc. I truly wish my neighbors & friends well, as their industry moults into legalized adulthood and onto the radar of state and local taxing & regulatory authorities. Our Supervisors, having slow-marched for a year, now have a lot of work to do. They also have a relatively unpublicized measure on our ballots, competing with the artfully named “The Mendocino Heritage Act.”

With “artfully named” I'm pivoting into those weeds I love to browse: a language operation, how and what diction -— or 'choice of words' -- reveals and conceals. The Mendocino Heritage Act reveals a laudable, if fuzzy purpose. Of course we all want to do something with our “heritage.” Say put it on the hutch shelf next to Gramma's best teapot and Apple Pie -- But the initiative conceals less fuzzy matters: For example, in Sec. 6.22.060 - Limitations on Location for Commercial Medical Cannabis Activity, section (B)(1), the proposed Heritage Act amends County Code Chapter 20, Zoning Ordinance, so as not to allow “Commercial medical cannabis cultivation,” etc., “within six hundred (600) feet of any school or park.” OK, but that's a devious way to decrease the existing cannabis-grow school safety zone from its current 1000'. What experience with our current ordinance dictates the change? Would be interesting to hear our elected Supervisors discuss the change.

Other weedy stuff is more fun to lampoon: In section 6.22.010, "'Edible cannabis product' means manufactured cannabis that is intended to be used, in whole or in part, for human consumption, including, but not limited to, chewing gum.” Why specify chewing gum and not specify all-day suckers? In legislation, special mention usually indicates lobbyists at work. Will chewing gum again double our pleasure, double our fun, as it did, back in the day?

(Jonathan Middlebrook lives on the frontier between orderly government and spurious democracy . . . that frontier is not just on Black Bart Trail.--He encourages you to read Measure AF. Its 60 pages will not appear in our voter's handbook, though completely helpful Katrina Bartolomie in the Registrar's Office will snail- or email you a copy, free of charge. Read it, then think about the relationship between legislative & electoral process, and vote accordingly.

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Tonight, Thursday September 8th at 10:00 AM, in the City Hall conference room, the City's "Finance and Administration Committee" will discuss changes to the official Agenda for City Council meetings. Since 2012, The City of Fort Bragg has been getting away with the corrupt practice of putting items on the Consent Calendar, and then having that list passed at the very end of city council meetings. They have also been ignoring and/or skipping over the second Public Comment period, as formally announced on their official agendas. Come to City Hall tomorrow, Thursday at 10 o'clock, to set the City straight on how properly and transparently conduct their meetings.

(David Gurney)

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Are you prepared for the next disaster that could hit us here on the coast? Would you know what to do to protect yourself, your family and your community? Be prepared! Attend the FREE Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course offered by the Mendocino County Office of Emergency Service (OES). This 3-day class will be held at the Elk Community Center on three consecutive Saturdays in October: October 8th from 9-5:30, October 15th & October 22nd from 9-4.

Taught by a staff of trained CERT personnel, the CERT Basic Training is a fun and empowering way to learn disaster preparedness; survival skills; rescuer safety; team work; fire safety and suppression; basic disaster medical treatment; and light search & rescue. It will provide knowledge, skills and tools to help you support yourself, family, friends and neighbors in times of a disaster. After caring for loved ones, CERT members provide immediate assistance to victims, organize their neighbors at a disaster site, and give critical support to first responders.

All training equipment and materials are provided by the Mendocino County OES. You must attend all 3 days to be certified. Please bring lunch and beverage – local options available. Please contact the NCO Volunteer Network to register: (707) 462-1959 or email:  Our fire season is now longer and more intense than at any time in recent history; the San Andreas Fault is overdue for a major quake; the chance of flooding, tsunamis, pandemics, and even terrorist attacks have all increased. Electricity, land lines and cell phones could be down for days or weeks; gas lines could be leaking; you or your loved ones could sustain serious injury.

Many people believe they don’t need to take personal responsibility for any of these conditions because a local government or volunteer agency will be there to take care of them. Unfortunately, this is not true. Depending upon the severity and scope of the disaster, this could take hours, days or weeks. We need look no further than the recent Lake County fires where emergency responders were completely overwhelmed until sufficient mutual aid resources could be deployed. Learn the steps you can take to care for your loved ones and your community. Be prepared.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 8, 2016

Campbell, Edwards, Griffith
Campbell, Edwards, Griffith

ANNETTE CAMPBELL, Laytonville. Criminal threats.

SUNNY EDWARDS, Sacramento/Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

SHANNAH GRIFFITH, Novato/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Padget, Sheckells, Wright
Padget, Sheckells, Wright

RYAN PADGET, Laytonville. Drunk in public.

PATRICK SHECKELLS JR., Ukiah. Vehicle theft, probation revocation.

ALEXANDER WRIGHT, Lakeport/Ukiah. Under influence.

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You cannot sweep us homeless under the rug. We are those who were once where you are, and you will one day join us, as will everyone who is not part of One Percent. It's just a matter of time. But don't worry. One day every plaza and civic center in every city will feature a great big guillotine, and the wretched of the earth shall have their revenge. Even in Ukiah.

Homeless Avenger

No Home Town

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Crazy things are happening in this country of ours. I have never seen an election quite like this. The choices seem to be between a man who has mental (lets be nice) difficulties, and a woman who has sold out to the powers that be. As far as the electorate goes, there is no winner, only different degrees of losers. With Trump, there is no telling what madness will issue forth if he is elected. With Hillary, the one thing I know that she will do is to allow hundred of thousands more illegal immigrants into the country to the detriment of everybody who already lives here. That, along with allowing every Goldman Sachs-type company to continue with their activities of buying congressional legislation wholesale, will further send this nation into into a spiral of decline which will result in a world quite unlike what we have grown up in. All you have to decide as far as this election is whether you would rather be shot or hung.

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by Carmen Policy

My career started as a trial attorney and then morphed into a fantasy-like position as an NFL executive. During all of those experiences, I have had to make many decisions that carried critical consequences for clients, companies and sports organizations. The process never becomes easy or stress-free, but when challenges are constantly presented, you learn to handle them methodically. This year, I was confronted with one of the most important and demanding decisions that I have faced in years — whether I would allow my grandson to play football.

My wife, Gail, and my daughter Kerry asked to talk to me over coffee one morning in early April. I knew immediately something serious was brewing. They explained that my 8½-year-old grandson Nicholas had an insatiable desire to play tackle football for the Carpy Gang football team, which is part of a Pop Warner-type league in the Napa Valley where we live. Their initial reactions were totally negative.

They attempted to persuade Nicholas to repeat his experience with flag football and abandon the concept of a contact sport, as they were concerned about the risk of head injuries. A major household conflict developed but finally a compromise was struck: All three of them agreed to turn the entire matter over to me, and my decision would be final. Gail and Kerry knew that all of our eight grandchildren are extremely special in my eyes and I would do everything possible to keep our young athlete out of harm’s way.

Nicholas obviously believed that my love of the sport and his desire to play would weigh heavily in his favor.

I chose to apply a simple formula that I had developed over my career, before my daily routine revolved around community work and wine-making. I refer to my approach to decision-making as DARE:

Determine all knowable facts;

Analyze all the surroundings circumstances;

Risk evaluation must include every type of risk; and

Exercise good judgment in view of the above.

The first step I took was to check with doctors and knowledgeable people who understand and are involved in youth football.

Next I explored the rules that the league would play by and how its coaches are equipped to deal with the energetic and impressionable boys placed under their supervision. Coach Corey Beck, who leads the Carpy Gang, was professionally responsive as we sat down to analyze the structure of his program and the training he and his assistants had received. He explained how he became certified as a youth football coach through college- and NFL-approved organizations such as USA Football.

This coach knew what he was talking about and recognized the gravity of his responsibility, especially in light of the fact that his sons would be two of his players. In response to the potential risks, he outlined the league rules around protecting a young player’s health and endurance:

There are significant restrictions on contact during practice.

Coaches are scrupulous about eliminating serious size discrepancies among players.

Water breaks are mandated, players must wear helmets covered with soft padding for all practices, and kickoffs and kickoff returns are eliminated.

Each coach is thoroughly trained in CPR, and paramedics are at every game.

There are specific protocols governing any injury or appearance of exhaustion.

Then I weighed this against the rewards. Team sports in general and football in particular are phenomenal opportunities to build a young person’s character and teach some of life’s most important lessons — lessons I knew were important for my grandson. Coming from a privileged background offers no advantage on the playing field. Hard work, drive, discipline and a sense of commitment are the building blocks of success — which becomes very apparent very quickly.

You soon learn that a player with heart who helps his team compete and, we hope, win is to be respected and admired. These are principles and values not easily learned if young people spend all their time surfing the Internet or playing video games.

And, finally, there are risks involved with any active and competitive sport, just as there are risks awaiting them when they are on a bicycle, the school playground or even crossing a street.

When I announced my decision to approve the Carpy Gang program, Nicholas, of course, was delighted. Gail and Kerry were relatively calm after I explained my thinking, outlined my research and walked them through how I weighed the risks and rewards to reach the decision that ultimately carried the day. Knowledge definitely counts as we make lifestyle decisions involving our children, but you also need a dose of good luck as you let them live their lives and their dreams.

(Carmen A. Policy, an attorney, is the former CEO and president of the San Francisco 49ers.)

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by Dan Bacher

Over 20 people showed their solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) Wednesday by holding a demonstration outside of Citibank on Alhambra Boulevard in Sacramento from noon to 1 pm.

On Saturday, private security guards working for DAPL unleashed attack dogs on American Indian water protectors, drawing outrage from people throughout the country and world:

The protesters targeted Citibank because it is one of the financial institutions whose loans have funded the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Phil Kim, the event organizer, said, “We are here today to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Citibank is one of the primary funders of the DAPL and we are here to tell them to not fund this pipeline.”

“I’m here to protest the banks that are paying for the pipeline that is bringing the crude oil down the Missouri River to Texas,” said Carol Standing Elk, Lakota Sioux. “My relatives have gotten as far as they have because of prayer. They have a prayerful camp and a peaceful camp. We want the construction of the pipeline to stop.”

“We hope to open the opens the minds of everybody, regardless whether they’re yellow, white, red, brown, black or green. They all drink water and they all breathe air. The Standing Rock Sioux are standing up against the pipeline in a good way,” said Standing Elk.

After assemblying on the sidewalk outside the bank, the group walked into the bank, where Kim handed the bank manager a letter urging the bank to stop funding the pipeline. Standing Elk also briefly spoke about the urgency of stopping of the pipeline, in spite of threats by the clearly agitated bank manager that he would call the police and have the protesters arrested if they did not leave the bank immediately.

The group then returned to the sidewalk where they held an array of signs with slogans including “Dakota Access Pipeline Supports Dirty Oil & Climate Change,” “Honor the Treaties, Not Big Money, “ Keep It In The Earth,” “I Support Standing Rock, No DAPL, Peaceful, Prayerful Camp,” “Water Is Life,” “Oil Or Water?,” and “Water Is Sacred , No DAPL, Stop Funding It!”

“I’m happy people showed up today in support of the Standing Rock Sioux. It’s good to be here with like-minded people,” said Fiona Pulscamp, Navajo.

As detailed in a report just released by Food & Water Watch, the Standing Rock Sioux are not just up against the oil and gas industry and the federal government in their battle against the environmentally destructive pipeline that threatens the Tribe’s sacred sites.

“They are up against many of the most powerful financial and corporate interests on Wall Street, the profit-driven institutions that are bankrolling this pipeline plan and so many others like it throughout the country,” according to Jo Miles and Hugh MacMillan.

Seventeen financial institutions, including Citibank, Wells Fargo, and BNP Paribas,l have loaned Dakota Access LLC $2.5 billion to construct the pipeline. Miles and MacMillan also said banks have “committed substantial resources” to the Energy Transfer Family of companies so it can build out more oil and gas infrastructure:

Energy Transfer Partners has a revolving credit line of $3.75 billion toward expanding its oil and gas infrastructure holdings, with commitments from just 26 banks.

Sunoco Logistics has a credit line with $2.5 billion in commitments from just 24 banks.

Energy Transfer Equity has a credit line with another $1.5 billion in commitments from most of the same big international banks. To read the full article, go to:'s-banking-dakota-access-pipeline.

There are also 2 solidarity events in Sacramento scheduled on Friday: 11 AM at the Sacramento County Courthouse, 720 9th St. 12 PM at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office, 1325 J St.…

Court denies Tribe's TRO; decision on case expected by Sept. 9

On Sunday, September 4, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to “prevent further destruction of the Tribe’s sacred sites” by Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The U.S. District judge denied the TRO as requested by the Tribe.

“Today’s denial of a temporary restraining order against Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) west of Lake Oahe puts my people’s sacred places at further risk of ruin and desecration," said David Archambault II, Chairman of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “We are disappointed that the U.S. District Court’s decision does not prevent DAPL from destroying our sacred sites as we await a ruling on our original motion to stop construction of the pipeline.”

Thousands of people from more than 200 Native Tribes have joined the Standing Rock Sioux’s efforts to protect their lands, waters and sacred sites from harm during construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline. The Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Winnemem Wintu and other Tribes from California and the Klamath Tribes of Oregon have passed resolutions in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux while tribal members have traveled to the camp to join the defenders.

On the same day, “Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts,” Chairman Archambault said in a press release. “They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites. The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction.”

After the initial destruction Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline returned to the area and dug up additional grounds in the pre-dawn hours Sunday, Archambault said.

The motion sought to prevent additional construction work on an area two miles west of North Dakota Highway 1806, and within 20 miles of Lake Oahe until a judge rules on the Tribe’s previous motion to stop construction, according to Archambault. That motion is based on the Standing Rock Sioux’s assertion that it was not properly consulted before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fast-tracked approval of the pipeline project.

A decision on the case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is expected by September 9. If built, the 1,200-mile pipeline would carry a half-million barrels of crude oil across the Tribe’s treaty lands each day, according to the Tribe.

In a message on Tuesday, September 6, Chairman Archambault said, "Today, as we remain peaceful and prayerful, I feel we are turning the corner! As the injustices implemented on our indigenous rights and lands start to surface, eventually, this great nation will do the right thing and stop the pipeline from crossing our water

In other DAPL news, TeleSUR revealed that the shadowy security company G4S us is one of several private security companies “protecting” the Dakota Access Pipeline. The company is now under fire for providing services to Israeli prisons and settlements, expanding across the Middle East including Afghanistan and Iraq and operating juvenile detention centers and handling deportations from the U.S. For more information, go to:

* * *


* * *


To the Editor:

As U.S. Secretary of State, why did Hillary Clinton kill Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi? If you lived in Libya, it made no sense.

Money from Libya’s oil revenue was deposited by Muammar Gaddafi into the bank account of every Libyan citizen.

Gaddafi raised the literacy rate in Libya from 20 per cent to 83 per cent.

He built one of the finest health care systems in the “Third World.” All Libyans had access to doctors, hospitals, clinics and medicines—free of charge. If a Libyan needs surgery that is unavailable in Libya, funding is provided for the surgery overseas.

He raised the life expectancy of Libyans from 44 to 75 years of age.

Basic food items were subsidized and electricity was made available throughout Libya.

Muammar Gaddafi developed huge irrigation projects in order to support a drive towards agricultural development and food self-sufficiency.

Recognizing that water, not oil, would be the scarcest resource of the future, Gaddafi initiated the construction of the Great Man Made River, which took years to complete. Referred to as a wonder of the modern world, this river pumps millions of gallons of water daily from the heart of the Sahara desert to the coast, where the land is suitable for agriculture.

Any Libyan who wanted to become a farmer was and still is given free use of land, a house, farm equipment, livestock and seed.

Gaddafi vowed that his own parents, who lived in a tent in the desert, would not be housed until every Libyan was housed.

Under Gaddafi, Libya had attained the highest standard of living in Africa.

Gaddafi put up a communications satellite—the first in Africa—to bring the continent of Africa into the 21st century of technology. This also interrupted the massive fees that European companies had been charging the Africans.

He gave women full access to education and employment, and he has enabled women to serve in the armed forces.

Gaddafi started and financed the African Union to tie all of the Mother continent into an eventual body with a common purpose called the “United States of Africa.”

He was the first and only leader in the Arab world to formally apologize for the Arab role in the trade of African slaves. He acknowledged that black Africans were the true owners of Libya and proclaimed in his Green Book, “the black African race shall prevail throughout the world.”

Nelson Mandela called Muammar Gaddafi one of the 20th century’s greatest freedom fighters, and insisted that the eventual collapse of South Africa’s apartheid system owed much to Gaddafi and Libyan support.

So why was Muammar Gaddafi killed by Hillary Clinton?

Why, indeed? Could it be that Gaddafi threatened the power elites of the world, like Bill and Hillary Clinton? Gaddafi was a strong leader who did not kowtow to the power elites who rule the world. He was not their submissive little lap dog. His leadership philosophy was partly inspired by Islamic socialism, Arab nationalism, African nationalism and partly inspired by the principles of direct democracy. Eventually, Gaddafi embrace Pan-Africanism. Based upon a common fate going back to the Atlantic slave trade, Pan-Africanism aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity among all people of African descent.

What happened after Gaddafi was murdered?

After Clinton murdered Gaddafi, a power vacuum in Libya directly lead to the formation of those international terrorists known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. Now, Libya is an ISIS stronghold.

Killing Gaddafi made no sense either from the perspective of the welfare and wellbeing of the Libyan people nor from the perspective of the U.S. fighting and containing terrorism. No sense whatsoever. Clinton's order to murder Gaddafi almost seemed personal -- and it was.

In a nationally televised interview, Clinton actually boasted: "We came. We saw. He [Gaddafi] died." Then, she laughed hysterically for 3-4 seconds like a psychopath.


Is Clinton the person that I want as our next commander-in-chief? Hell no! That's why I'm voting my conscience. I'm voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party.

John Sakowicz


* * *


by Louis Bedrock

It is somewhat surprising that Harper’s felt the need to run a hit piece by Tom Wolfe on Chomsky in its August issue (here). True, such stuff sells well. But given that there are more than enough engaging antics to focus on in Cleveland and Philadelphia one might have thought that they would save the Chomsky bashing for a slow news period. It is a testimony to Chomsky’s stature that there is a publisher of a mainstream magazine who concludes that even two national conventions featuring two of the most unpopular people ever to run for the presidency won’t attract more eyeballs than yet another takedown of Noam Chomsky and Generative Grammar (GG).

Not surprisingly, content wise there is nothing new here. It is a version of the old litany. Its only distinction is the over the top nuttiness of the writing (which, to be honest, has a certain charm in its deep dishonesty and nastiness) and its complete disregard for intellectual integrity. And, a whiff of something truly disgusting that I will get to at the very end. I have gone over the “serious” issues that the piece broaches before in discussions of analogous hit jobs in the New Yorker, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Aeon (see here and here for example). Indeed, this blog was started as a response to what this piece is a perfect example of: the failure of people who criticize Chomsky and GG to understand even the basics of the views they are purportedly criticizing.

Here’s the nub of my earlier observations: Critics like Everett (among others, though he is the new paladin for the discontented and features prominently in this Wolfe piece too) are not engaged in a real debate for the simple reason that they are not addressing positions that anyone holds or has ever held. This point has been made repeatedly (incuding by me), but clearly to no avail. The present piece by Wolfe continues in this grand tradition. Here's what I've concluded: pointing out that neither Chomsky nor GG has ever held the positions being “refuted” is considered impolite. The view seems to be that Chomsky has been rude, sneaky even, for articulating views against which the deadly criticisms are logically refractory. Indeed, the critics refusal to address Chomsky’s actual views suggests that they think that discussing his stated positions would only encourage him in his naughty ways. If Chomsky does not hold the positions being criticized then he is clearly to blame for these are the positions that his critics want him to hold so that they can pummel him for holding them. Thus, it is plain sneaky of him to not hold them and in failing to hold them Chomsky clearly shows what a shifty, sneaky, albeit clever, SOB he really is because any moderately polite person would hold the views that Chomsky’s critics can demonstrate to be false! Given this, it is clearly best to ignore what Chomsky actually says for this would simply encourage him in articulating the views he in fact holds, and nobody would want that. For concreteness, let’s once again review what the Chomsky/GG position actually is regarding recursion and Universal Grammar (UG).

The Wolfe piece in Harper’s is based on Everett’s critique of Chomsky’s view that recursion is a central feature of natural language. As you are all aware, Everett believes that he has discovered a language (Piraha) whose G does not recurse (in particular, that forbids clauses to be embedded within clauses). Everett takes the putative absence of recursion within Piraha to rebut Chomsky’s view that recursion is a central feature of human natural language precisely because he believes that it is absent from Piraha Gs. Everett further takes this purported absence as evidence against the GG conception of UG and the idea that humans come with a native born linguistic facility to acquire Gs. For Everett human linguistic facility is due to culture, not biology (though why he thinks that these are opposed to one another is quite unclear). All of these Everett tropes are repeated in the Wolfe piece, and if repetition were capable of improving the logical relevance of non-sequiturs, then the Wolfe piece would have been a valuable addition to the discussion.

How does the Everett/Wolfe “critique” miss the mark? Well, the Chomsky-GG view of recursion as a feature of UG does not imply that every human G is recursive. And thinking that it does is to confuse Chomsky Universals (CU) with Greenberg Universals (GU). I have discussed this before in many many posts (type in ‘Chomsky Universals’ or ‘Greenberg Universals’ in the search box and read the hits). The main point is that for Chomsky/GG a universal is a design feature of the Faculty of Language (FL) while for Greenberg it is a feature of particular Gs.[if !supportFootnotes][1][endif] The claim that recursion is a CU is to say that humans endowed with an FL construct recursive Gs when presented with the appropriate PLD. It makes no claim as to whether particular Gs of particular native speakers will allow sentences to licitly embed within sentences. If this is so, then Everett’s putative claim that Piraha Gs do not allow sentential recursion has no immediate bearing on the Chomsky-GG claims about recursion being a design feature of FL. That FL must be able to construct Gs with recursive rules does not imply that every G embodies recursive rules. Assuming otherwise is to reason fallaciously, not that such logical niceties have deterred Everett and friends.

Btw: I use ‘putative claim’ and ‘purported absence’ to highlight an important fact. Everett’s empirical claims are strongly contested. Nevins, Pesetsky and Rodrigues (NPR) have provided a very detailed rebuttal of Everett’s claims that Piraha Gs are recursiveless.[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif] If I were a betting man, my money would be in NPR. But for the larger issue it doesn’t matter if Everett is right and NPR are wrong. Thus, even were Everett right about the facts (which, I would bet that he isn’t) it would be irrelevant to his conclusion regarding the implications of Piraha for the Chomsky/GG claims concerning UG and recursion.

So what would be relevant evidence against the Chomsky/GG claim about the universality of recursion? Recall that the UG claim concerns the structure of FL, a cognitive faculty that humans come biologically endowed with. So, if the absence of recursion in Piraha Gs resulted from the absence of a recursive capacity in Piraha speakers’ FLs then this would argue that recursion was not a UG property of human FLs. In other words, if Piraha speakers could not acquire recursive Gs then we would have direct evidence that human FLs are not built to acquire recursive Gs. However, we know that this conditional isFALSE. Piraha kids have no trouble acquiring Brazilian Portuguese (BP), a language that everyone agrees is the product of a recursive G (e.g. BP Gs allow sentences to be repeatedly embedded within sentences).[if !supportFootnotes][3][endif] Thus, Piraha speakers’ FLs are no less recursively capable than BP speakers’ FLs or English speakers’ FLs or Swahili speakers’ FLs or... We can thus conclude that Piraha FLs are just human FLs and have as a universal feature the capacity to acquire recursive Gs.

All of this is old hat and has been repeated endlessly over the last several years in rebuttal to Everett’s ever more inflated claims. Note that if this is right, then there is no (as in none, nada, zippo, bubkis, gornisht) interesting “debate” between Everett and Chomsky concerning recursion. And this is so for one very simple reason. Equivocation obviates the possibility of debate. And if the above is right (and it is, it really is) then Everett’s entire case rests on confusing CUs and GUs. Moreover, as Wolfe’s piece is nothing more than warmed over Everett plus invective, its actual critical power is zero as it rests on the very same confusion.

But things are really much worse than this. Given how often the CU/GU confusion has been pointed out, the only rational conclusion is that Everett and his friends are deliberately running these two very different notions together. In other words, the confusion is actually a strategy. Why do they adopt it? There are two explanations that come to mind. First, Everett and friends endorse a novel mode of reasoning. Let’s call it modus non sequitur, which has the abstract form “if P why not Q.” It is a very powerful method of reasoning sure to get you where you want to go. Second possibility: Everett and Wolfe are subject to Sinclair’s Law, viz. It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. If we understand ‘salary’ broadly to include the benefits of exposure in the high brow press, then … All of which brings us to Wolfe’s Harper’s piece.

Happily for the Sinclair inclined, the absence of possible debate does not preclude the possibility of considerable controversy. It simply implies that the controversy will be intellectually barren. And this has consequences for any coverage of the putative debate. Articles reprising the issues will focus on personalities rather than substance, because, as noted, there is no substance (though, thank goodness, there can be heroes engaging in the tireless (remunerative) pursuit of truth). Further, if such coverage appears in a venue aspiring to cater to the intellectual pretensions of its elite readers (e.g. The New Yorker, the Chronicle and, alas, now Harper’s) then the coverage will require obscuring the pun at the heart of the matter. Why? Because identifying the pun (aka equivocation) will expose the discussion as, at best, titillating gossip for the highbrow, at middling, a form of amusing silliness (e.g. perfect subject matter for Emily Litella) and, at worst, a form of celebrity pornography in the service of character assassination. Wolfe’s Harper’s piece is the dictionary definition of the third option.

Why do I judge Wolfe’s article so harshly? Because he quotes Chomsky’s observation that Everett’s claims even if correct are logically irrelevant. Here’s the full quote (39-40):

“It”—Everett’s opinion; he does not refer to Everett by name—“amounts to absolutely nothing, which is why linguists pay no attention to it. He claims, probably incorrectly, it doesn’t matter whether the facts are right or not. I mean, even accepting his claims about the language in question—Pirahã—tells us nothing about these topics. The speakers of this language, Pirahã speakers, easily learn Portuguese, which has all the properties of normal languages, and they learn it just as easily as any other child does, which means they have the same language capacity as anyone else does.”

A serious person might have been interested in finding out why Chomsky thought Everett’s claims “tell us nothing these topics.” Not Wolfe. Why try to understand issues that might detract from a storyline? No, Wolfe quotes Chomsky without asking what he might mean. Wolfe ignores Chomsky's identification of the equivocation as soon as he notes it. Why? Because this is a hit piece and identifying the equivocation at the heart of Everett’s criticism would immediately puncture Wolfe’s central conceit (i.e. heroic little guy slaying the Chomsky monster).

Wolfe clearly hates Chomsky. My reading of his piece is that he particularly hates Chomsky’s politics and the article aims to discredit the political ideas by savaging the man. Doing this requires demonstrating that Chomsky, who, as Wolfe notes is one of the most influential intellectuals of all time, is really a charlatan whose touted intellectual contributions have been discredited. This is an instance of the well know strategy of polluting the source. If Chomsky’s (revolutionary) linguistics is bunk then so are his politics. A well-known fallacy this, but not less effective for being so. Dishonest and creepy? Yes. Ineffective? Sadly no.

So there we have it. Another piece of junk, but this time in the style of the New Journalism. Before ending however, I want to offer you some quotes that highlight just how daft the whole piece is. There was a time that I thought that Wolfe was engaging in Sokal level provocation, but I concluded that he just had no idea what he was talking about and thought that stringing technical words together would add authority to his story. Take a look at this one, my favorite (p. 39):

After all, he [i.e. Chomsky, NH] was very firm in his insistence that it [i.e. UG, NH] was a physical structure. Somewhere in the brain the language organ was actually pumping the UG through the deep structure so that the LAD, the language acquisition device, could make language, speech, audible, visible, the absolutely real product of Homo sapiens’s central nervous system. [Wolfe’s emphasis, NH].

Is this great, or what! FL pumping UG through the deep structure. What the hell could this mean? Move over “colorless green ideas sleep furiously” we have a new standard for syntactically well-formed gibberish. Thank you Mr Wolfe for once again confirming the autonomy of syntax.

Or this encomium to cargo cult science (37):

It [Everett’s book, NH] was dead serious in an academic sense. He loaded it with scholarly linguistic and anthropological reports of his findings in the Amazon. He left academics blinking . . . and nonacademics with eyes wide open, staring.

Yup, “loaded” with anthro and ling stuff that blinds professionals and leaves neophytes agog. Talk of scholarship. Who could ask for more? Not me. Great stuff.

Here’s one more, where Wolfe contrasts Chomsky and Everett (31):

Look at him! Everett was everything Chomsky wasn’t: a rugged outdoorsman, a hard rider with a thatchy reddish beard and a head of thick thatchy reddish hair. He could have passed for a ranch hand or a West Virginia gas driller.

Methodist son of a cowboy rather than the son of Russian Askenazic Jews infatuated with political “ideas long since dried up and irrelevant,” products “perhaps” of a shtetl mentality (29). Chomsky is an indoor linguist “relieved not to go into the not-so-great outdoors,” desk bound “looking at learned journals with cramped type” (27) and who never left the computer, much less the building” (31). Chomsky is someone “very high, in an armchair, in an air conditioned office, spic and span” (36), one of those intellectuals with “radiation-bluish computer screen pallors and faux-manly open shirts” (31) never deigning to muddy himself with the “muck of life down below” (36). His linguistic “hegemony” (37) is “so supreme” that other linguists are “reduced to filling in gaps and supplying footnotes” (27).

Wowser. It may not have escaped your notice that this colorful contrast has an unsavory smell. I doubt that its dog whistle overtones were inaudible to Wolfe. The scholarly blue-pallored desk bound bookish high and mighty (Ashkenazi) Chomsky versus the outdoorsy (Methodist) man of the people and the soil and the wilderness Everett. The old world shtetl mentality brought down by a (lapsed) evangelical Methodist (32). Trump’s influence seems to extend to Harper’s. Disgusting.

That’s it for me. Harper’s should be ashamed of itself. This is not just junk. It is garbage. The stuff I quoted is just a sampling of the piece’s color. It is deeply ignorant and very nasty, with a nastiness that borders on the obscene. Your friends will read this and ask you about it. Be prepared.


QUESTION: I’d like to ask you about another of your detractors. When Bill Moyers interviewed Tom Wolfe on PBS, Wolfe accused you of subscribing to the “cabal” theory of capitalism. In Deterring Democracy you refer disparagingly to his description of the Reagan era as “one of the great golden moments that humanity has ever experienced.”

CHOMSKY: For people at his income level, that’s quite true. In my view, it was crucially responsible for — not 100 percent — the catastrophe of capitalism that just devastated the Third World in the Eighties. It was what they call the “lost decade” in the Third World. Tens of millions of people suffering and dying. In just the years 1980 to ’88, South African terror around its borders, supported by the United States, was responsible for about a million and a half people killed. If you count up the children who died of malnutrition as income levels dropped, you get a real monstrous toll. It’s bad enough what happened in the United States, if you look at any group other than the privileged. If you add all that up, it’s been a very ugly period. A person who could call that one of the golden moments in history… well, take Germany in 1939. A person who could call that one of the golden moments in history, we’d know what to think of him.

(This is from 1992, and Chomsky appears to have quoted him in a book in 1991. Is this where Wolfe's animosity stems from? Does it go back further?

Also, you asked why Harper's would publish something like this instead of something a little more relevant. Might Wolfe being married to one of the editors have something to do with it?)

(Wolfe married the former Sheila Berger, the art director at Harper's magazine, in 1978.)

* * *


* * *


Warmest spiritual greetings,

I'd like to do more...

Following a wild evening of consuming German beer and dancing with abandon to the music of a hot blues band at the Grant Street Saloon in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, I awoke in my travel inn room. Finally making it outside around 1:30 P.M., I was greeted by the sight of workers on scaffolds trimming the vines from around the windows of the Bohemian Club across the street. This was just too much to bear, so I ventured to Berkeley for a breakfast burrito and lots of coffee. Checked my post office box, and am pleased that there is now a subsidence of mail from the government. Due to having at last finished my 2014 income tax payments, wherein the federal government graciously dropped all late fees (informing me that this is a one time concession, because this is the first time I'd filed anything complicated, yet insisting that I pay the less than $50 in interest accrued on the late fees, because no mechanism exists for dismissing interest fees), and wherein the State of California significantly reduced my fine down to $51, also being a one time concession after my tax accountant badgered them for almost two years for originally asking me for six times what I actually legally owed, the upshot is that I am not receiving any more threatening letters from the Treasury of the United States of America. My guest stay at The Emperor Norton Inn is over at 11 A.M. September 19th. I want to do more in terms of radical environmentalism and the ongoing peace & justice movement on planet earth. I have sufficient money to just pack up and head for an airport. There is an infinity of creative possibilities for us to pursue. Following 40 years of frontlining with y'all, it is my view that we have only just begun. If this interests you, please respond with an offer, which must include a place for me to sleep, keep my two pieces of luggage, and so on and so forth. Thank you very much,

Craig Louis Stehr




  1. David Gurney September 9, 2016

    Correction on the announcement for Agenda changes by the City of Fort Bragg’s “Finance and Administration Committee.” The meeting did not get off to a good start, with serious Brown Act violations by the City for mis-announcing the time and place of this public meeting. It occurred on Thursday, but not in the conference room at City Hall, as published and distributed by the City in this Agenda: . Instead, it happened at Town Hall, a block away, with no notice of this change of venue posted on the City Hall door. More on the dismal performance by this city government in maintaining their corrupt position of putting the Consent Calendar at the end of their City Council meetings, in a future story.

  2. LouisBedrock September 9, 2016

    Correction: I did not write the article about Wolfe, Chomsky, and Everett. I submitted it. The article was written by Leander Roett who runs the blog,
    The blog is for and by linguists.

    The mistake is my fault as I did not make it clear in my submission that it was written by someone else.

    I did add the parenthetical note at the end.

    • LouisBedrock September 9, 2016

      Correction to correction: Piece is written by Norbert Hornstein who teaches linguistics at the University of Maryland at College Park.

    • Bruce McEwen September 9, 2016

      Much relieved to hear the correction. Whew, thought you’d strayed into remedial wisdom. A pity somebody who knows so much about language can’t write any better than that. It’s a subject I am much interested in, but that fellow’s sour, stilted prose makes it nearly impenetrable. (On the other hand I can spend hours re-reading the Life Of Rossini, whom I care nothing about, just to savor Stendhal’s style.) Mr. Everett made a discovery in the Amazon that there was an exception to a rule Chomsky made when he was in the first blush of youth — like John Lennon claiming “all you need is love” before he was old enough to realize what he really needed was body armor — and Wolf, a very vain novelist in the vein of some other prolix scribblers I could name, wants to beard poor old Chomsky as a vane rather than mistaken theorist. But, sure, Harper’s hasn’t been worth the cover price since Louis Lapham retired.

      • LouisBedrock September 9, 2016

        Ha, ha.
        I wrote to Mark yesterday that the only person that might read this article was Bruce McEwen.
        I strongly agree about Lapham. Ellen Rosenbush is the worst thing to happen to a magazine since Tina Brown ruined the New Yorker.

        • Bruce McEwen September 9, 2016

          Awfully sour of you old boy, to diminish the Mesdemoiselles so callously — one would think you placed ability over liberal identity politics in determining merit — you don’t seem to realize how cruel a place the publishing world has been for bossy little girls to grow up in (until our own more enlightened age arrived).

  3. Lazarus September 9, 2016

    A friend of mine was recently in Eureka. He confirmed the story of homeless wonderers taking over the parks, alleys and doorways. Could the Mendo be far behind. Ukiah has wonderers in every park I drive by, Willits parents are very cautious when taking their kids to play in the park…seems there’s a couple of guys (some say registered sex offenders), white van, parked around the City Park. The assholes are scaring Moms with their remarks and loitering…Cops say until they actually do something we can do anything. The dads are getting restless and angry, this will escalate if something legal isn’t done. Blame the dope, blame the mental health system, blame the courts…

  4. Whyte Owen September 9, 2016

    Happy to report that The Major’s comment was published by Forbes – the only one published.

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