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- Prop 58
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BOONVILLE WATER & SEWER ENGINEERING GRANTS OFFICIALLY IN PLACE
Good News! We have finalized both Planning grants. The $500k Clean Water (aka Sewer) Grant was funded in October and the $500K Drinking Water Grant just came through at the very end of December. The State has assigned Francine Fua as our Project Manager for both projects. David Coleman is the Brelje and Race (B&R) engineer managing the Clean Water project and Jack Locey is the B&R engineeer for the Clean Water project. They have a two year time frame to finish planning unless we need to extend for some reason. The billing system is in place and Joy Andrews, our CSD Manager, is processing claims and bills. When the engineers are ready to present findings that we can discuss we will plan a Boonville Planner meeting. We anticipate having the first one in the Spring and will invite all, Sheri Miller from the State Water Resources Control Board (the local permitting agency) as well as Mendocino officials. Nothing else to report at this time… We will let you know any developments and give you plenty of advance notice of the meeting. We probably will be meeting on a Thursday evening.
Val Henelt and Kathleen McKenna, Board members, Anderson Valley Community Services District
THE ELECTION JUST PAST, with its overlong ballot, contained Prop 58, which repealed the English-only instruction mandated in 1998 by Prop 227. The back and forth on the issue is the work of political demagogues with zero knowledge of how language might best be taught. The expert opinion we read said English-only is the way to go. (BTW, the ava got a whole lotta requests for our recommendations from people who didn't want to read all the initiatives, meaning we had many more votes than the one we're allotted.)
THE MIGHTY AVA recommended a NO vote on 58 because we think it's obvious that the mastery of English, the lingua franca of much of the world and absolutely necessary for any hope of reasonable success in our own frazzled country, however you might define success, that the language of instruction, K-12, is essential, and by mastery I don't mean the Spanglish most Mexican kids graduate with from Mendocino County high schools.
I HAD NO IDEA what Prop 58 meant for the Boonville schools — a roughly 80% Spanish-speaking student body — so I asked our superintendent, Michelle Hutchins, who stepped in here after years of edu-sloth heavy on the intellectual fuzzy-warm, as is the fashion in the public schools these days, especially the Mendocino County schools. Ms. Hutchins is smart and pleasant, qualities I wouldn't say prevail in the Emerald Triangle schools, at least in my experience, although I admit I tend to bring out the worst in edu-admin circles.
TAKE IT AWAY, MICHELLE:
"Prop 58 legitimizes practices that have existed in AVUSD since before my arrival. Pre-K through second grade provides primary language instruction in Spanish or English, depending on the language spoken in the home.
"The new law now allows parents the ability to chose which program they would like their child taught in. We are attempting a Spanish immersion program this school year in science funded by a grant to grades 2 & 3.
"The elementary school has a part-time Spanish teacher working with the upper grades to continue the Spanish instruction. We are exploring how to maximize on the bilingual nature of our school population with the challenge of being a small school district.
"Bilingual teachers are hard to hire and many of our teachers with these skills are close to retirement, which makes sustainability of these programs not only challenging but concerning.
"That being said, it is a unique opportunity to grow up with another culture and language, so the cultivation of bilingual opportunities will continue to be explored.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I see the boss is talking about bilingual education, like he knows what he's talking about. Me? I've been bilingual for years. Check this: ‘Bow wow, cabrones.’ Or this, ‘Woof woof. I'll have the huevos’."
DIDN'T SEE Trump's press conference last Wednesday but I did listen to it on the radio. One doesn't need the visuals for a press conference, especially Orange Man's appearances before a baying media out to get him over an obviously manufactured allegation of Trumpian sordidness that allegedly occurred during a Trump visit to Russia. What self-respecting journalist is going to sit in a mob like that jumping up and down like a third grader trying to get the teacher's attention?
THAT ALLEGATION was dreamed up by a real perv, or a team of pervs, employed by Anglo-Brit "intelligence" agencies, apparently. And it was so far out that it wasn't even remotely plausible. Say what you will about him, Trump knows how to handle a media mob. He gets right out in front of it and fires right back at the animals peppering him with Gotchas. (The only respectful question came from, of course, a man from the BBC.) I had to admire Orange Man's performance. He made the media look like the pathetic putzes they are.
ALL THE TALK about fake media is hilarious. Strictly speaking, it's all fake, all false, really, because it's all owned by very wealthy individuals whose primary purpose is the promotion of their interests, and that's as true of the New York Times as it is of Fox News. You gotta know who owns it or you're not reading accurately.
LOCALLY, the purpose of newspapers is to walk a fine line between terse accounts of local events and advertisers, meaning the only inflammatory opinion is found on the letters page, and even that better not be too inflammatory or advertisers will flee. The Ukiah Daily Journal and the new Willits Weekly, the first chain-owned, the second a start-up owned by two brave women, do a good job covering events arising from their communities. The chain-owned Advocate-Beacon, on the Mendocino Coast, seldom prints anything likely to disturb anyone, and restricts content of letters to the nambo-pambo parameters of received opinion. The South Coast is served by the Independent Coast Observer. It tries, but also lives in abject fear of its readers and advertisers. There are several on-line papers, the best of which, by far, is Paul McCarthy's "Mendocino Sports Plus," a unique mix of information ranging from ship traffic to high school ball games. Maestro McCarthy also has a wonderful sense of humor which enlivens much of what he presents. Farther north, I admire the on-line reporting of Kym Kemp and the work at Lost Coast Observer. I read all these sources every week, Mendocino Sports Plus every day.
AND THERE'S KZYX, which I hear only in snatches but what I do hear seldom makes me go out of my way to tune in again, except for Jeff Blankfort's program every other Wednesday if I'm near a radio. Mendo Public Radio has always been disappointing, especially in its avoidance of local talk on local issues. (The people they've had who were good at hosting it wound up on the station's lengthy enemies list. BTW, I have the distinction of being on that list even before the station went live. Hold your applause, please.) I've been an off and on member of the station from the beginning simply as a community thing I thought I should do but, after the last two smart people they hired at KZYX fled in horror last year at what they called the "toxic personalities" dominant at the station's slovenly Philo headquarters, I'm waiting to see if the new guy and his revolving door directors (some of them also toxic) can at least establish a reasonable level of civilized operation before I pony up another fifty bucks.
TAKEN TOO SOON
Thank you for re-running — all these years later — the wonderful piece by Eric McMahon, “They Said I’d Never Make a Fortune” (AVA, 1/4/2017). Superb writing; a delight to re-read. Sadly, we lost McMahon a dozen or so years ago at age 49. It’s not fair that such talent as McMahon and Clay Geerdes are taken from us too soon. (For readers who don’t go back that far, Geerdes was a major contributor in the early days of the Anderson Anderson Valley Advertiser.)
Keep on keepin’ on.
THE GREAT SNOW OF 1989
Below is a photo of "White House West" on Ten Mile Ranch on the Mendocino Coast of California which is ten miles from the Noyo River in Fort Bragg. It was taken in February 1989 and the snow melted off by noon.
A happy time was had by all on the Ranch and elsewhere in Mendocino County and no injuries were reported except I almost fell out of my sleeping loft retrieving my camera after sliding open the curtains to my windows downstairs and discovering the white stuff. I was living in the former hay loft of the barn to the right in the photo and the loft had a sleeping loft accessible by ladder. Stores on the Mendocino Coast reported they were sold out of film in record time. A few years later there was an exhibit in a gallery in Fort Bragg of snow photos taken that day on the Coast. I exhibited a framed copy of the photo below which may still hang in the "Big House" as most Rancheros call it. But that name sounds too much like a prison. Yes, snow is a drug for me. But so far it's still legal in the USA. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Cluny, France (Formerly Ten Mile)
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 15, 2017
ANGELINA CANTARONI, Ukiah. Controlled substance, smoking-injecting device, failure to appear, probation revocation.
KYLER CASEY, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
KEVIN GRAHAM, Willits. DUI-Suspended license, court order violation.
BRETT GRAY, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
CLINT GUNTER, Ukiah. DUI-suspended license.
PERRIN HOAGLEN, Covelo. Probation revocation.
ALEJANDRO JACOME, Covelo. DUI.
DANIEL NEAL, Fort Bragg. Burglary, receipt of stolen property, controlled substance.
ALAN POLLICK JR., Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
RICHARD RICHARDSON, Ukiah. Harrassing-threatening phone calls, criminal threats, parole violation.
CASEY ROBINSON, Fortuna/Ukiah. Controlled substance, smoking-injecting device.
TASHINA TILLMAN, Willits. Under influence.
JOSHUA TURNER, Springfield, Oregon/Ukiah. County parole violation.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS JR. Willits. Second degree robbery, probation revocation.
JANICE ZEHER, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
GOING, GOING by Philip Larkin. (January 1972)
(For Gualala Redwoods Timber and all those that defend the destruction of our environment)
I thought it would last my time -
The sense that, beyond the town,
There would always be fields and farms,
Where the village louts could climb
Such trees as were not cut down;
I knew there'd be false alarms
In the papers about old streets
And split level shopping, but some
Have always been left so far;
And when the old part retreats
As the bleak high-risers come
We can always escape in the car.
Things are tougher than we are, just
As earth will always respond
However we mess it about;
Chuck filth in the sea, if you must:
The tides will be clean beyond.
- But what do I feel now? Doubt?
Or age, simply? The crowd
Is young in the M1 cafe;
Their kids are screaming for more -
More houses, more parking allowed,
More caravan sites, more pay.
On the Business Page, a score
Of spectacled grins approve
Some takeover bid that entails
Five per cent profit (and ten
Per cent more in the estuaries): move
Your works to the unspoilt dales
(Grey area grants)! And when
You try to get near the sea
In summer . . .
It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast;
Despite all the land left free
For the first time I feel somehow
That it isn't going to last,
That before I snuff it, the whole
Boiling will be bricked in
Except for the tourist parts -
First slum of Europe: a role
It won't be hard to win,
With a cast of crooks and tarts.
And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There'll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.
Most things are never meant.
This won't be, most likely; but greeds
And garbage are too thick-strewn
To be swept up now, or invent
Excuses that make them all needs.
I just think it will happen, soon.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Obama knows Americans forget their history. How convenient to be followed to the White House by someone so bizarre, that the people will reap praises on him and eventually blame all the fallout on Trump. Always have a scapegoat, Hillary or Trump, because presidents really hate to admit their failures. Bernie shone too much light on them, better sink his boat.
TEN MILLIONTH REASON ORANGE MAN IS PRESIDENT
A month or so back the University of Pennsylvania’s English Department hauled down a portrait of William Shakespeare that had hung in a hallway probably since the week the University of Pennsylvania opened. Shakespeare, the most towering figure in all the English language, brought down.
The picture was replaced by one of Audre Lorde. You are perhaps less familiar with her achievements in the world of literature. She describes herself as “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” (Tommy Wayne Kramer)
ATTENTION KZYX & Z MEMBERS
Candidates for KZYX BOARD needed.
District 3-Willits, Laytonville
District 4-Fort Bragg & Coast
At Large- In County or contiguous Counties
Deadline for applications Jan. 30
IMPORTANT: Unless there is at least two candidates for any Board seat,
there will be no membership vote requirement.
For more info: Call 707 895 2324 M-F, 9-5
or kzyx.org or POBx 1 Philo, CA, 95466
AIN'T IT THE TRUTH (yuk from MSP)
BELLEVUE’S CITY SERVICE
More than 3 million of New York City’s 8.5 million residents are foreign born — more than the entire population of American’s third-largest city, Chicago — and of these 3 million, three quarters of a million are “undocumented” immigrants, people without a legal right to be here and who are now subject more than ever to fear of deportation. Part of the nation’s largest urban healthcare system, Bellevue Hospital handles nearly 670,000 non-emergency clinic visits, and nearly 116,000 visits to its emergency rooms each year. Approximately 80% of those it serves are either uninsured or poor enough to be covered by Medicaid.
While millions of residents benefit from public institutions such as Bellevue, undocumented New Yorkers provide, among their other gifts, practical benefits essential to New York’s survival. “Although illegal immigrants broke the law by illegally crossing our borders or overstaying their visas, and our businesses broke the law by employing them,” former mayor Michael Bloomberg has said, “our City’s economy would be a shell of itself had they not, and it would collapse if they were deported.”
As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world, and at Bellevue more than 100 languages are translated, among them Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, Bengali, French, Spanish and Haitian Creole.
David Oshinsky writes: “Doctors and patients communicate on dual telephones through an interpreter trained in the nuances of regional dialects… The directional signs that guide visitors through the hospital are multilingual — the destinations now include a Muslim prayer room and a clinic for survivors of political torture.”
In one of the strongest sections of his book, “Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital,” David Oshinsky tells of Bellevue’s response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. After Hurricane Irene spared New York in August 2011, Bellevue, whose electric generators were on the 13th floor while the fuel pumps that supplied them were in the basement, took precautions, and “encased the fuel pumps behind ‘submarine doors’ of steel and rubber to withstand water damage from a future event.”
Sandy would be the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean with a diameter approaching 1,000 miles. And it hit New York City full-on on October 29, 2012, arriving at high tide on the night of a full moon. The damage from South Jersey to the eastern tip of Long Island was catastrophic, but the densely populated parts of lower Manhattan fared even worse. The storm surge of a major hurricane adds four to six feet to the East River; this one measured fourteen feet — an unfathomable event.
When the hospital become flooded and its elevators went out of service, the staff began carrying patients down stairwells lit by medical students and residents holding flashlights. Interns were dispatched with oxygen tanks to the beds of every ventilated patient, mechanical IVs were converted to “subcutaneous injections,” and prescriptions filled by flashlight were taken by medical student runners to various floors. The National Guard arrived and together with doctors, nurses, medical students, technicians, and secretaries, they passed five-gallon jugs of gasoline hand-to-hand until the jugs reached the back-up generators on the 13th floor. If the jugs stopped moving and the generators died, so would patients.
But no patients died. The bucket brigade staved off disaster and all 700 patents were saved — including surgical patients, alcoholics, drug addicts. Hundreds of psychiatric patients locked up on the 19th floor criminal psychiatric ward who were chained together at the ankles, wore orange jumpsuits, and were surrounded by a phalanx of police. As one staff member recalled, “This being Manhattan, deliveries of pizza and Chinese take-out food never flagged.”
Jay Neugeboren, ‘Take Me To Bellevue,” (Courtesy, the New York Review of Books)
Rachel Roach wrote to Marco McLean:
You should be ashamed of yourself for making fun of the subject that has greatly effected millions of children and taken many life's.
* * *
I don't intend to make fun of unfortunate people -- nor was the website at the link making fun of you. Of course someone who has had a personal tragedy might not have a sense of humor about it, or of perspective -- anybody, even I, can understand that -- but vaccines have protected millions of children and adults from suffering and death, it's a measure of how very good a job they've done that it isn't in the front of all our minds how horrible things were for so many before we had vaccines.
I've been in conversation with a distressingly large troop of people on the subject for years, and in general I find that the argument for the anti-vaccination point of view is hot-headed and confused, and relies on personal anecdotes and outlying cases, and anti-vaxxers often buttress their arguments with articles from websites that also take chemtrails and homeopathy and aura-fluffing "energy work" seriously, and/or are in the business of selling magical herbal or crystal or essentially oily cures or other placebo treatments as an alternative to real medical science, so it's hard to take them seriously -- except -- in the absence of people with a sense of humor willing to speak up for reason, they succeed in persuading many parents not to vaccinate, and so endanger the undeniable progress that's been made. Outbreaks of long-preventable diseases occur when a critical number of parents decide not to vaccinate their children. Folk-propaganda and religious campaigns against vaccination are a serious danger to public health.
If you don't want to do a lot of reading, here's an article with a single powerful graphic that makes my point. On the left side is a list of the horrendous U.S. disease scourges pre-vaccination (polio, diptheria, measles, etc.); on the right are the numbers of people who even catch any of those diseases anymore. Thanks, vaccination. http://tinyurl.com/zaf2s68
This short article addresses the objection to vaccines that "diseases would be going away on their own because of better hygiene and sanitation":
(It includes a graph showing when measles dropped from disaster levels to close to the bottom of the chart. I'll give you a hint: It wasn't at the introduction of the flush toilet or the shower bath or the electric light or refrigeration or the employees-must-wash-their-hands rule in restaurant bathrooms; it was directly after the measles vaccine.)*
*Here's Roald Dahl's urgent plea to vaccinate, now that you can, and so not subject your child to dying of measles the way his little girl Olivia did.
Here is a simplified history of vaccines:
And here's a slightly longer article about the history of vaccines. It's a fifteen-minute read, and worth it.
I also want to point out: a surprisingly common objection to vaccines that I hear is that overuse of antibiotics creates a threat of even more virulent disease. That's true. But vaccination doesn't work the same way antibiotics do. While you can overdo anything, and you can be allergic to anything, vaccination is not breeding more virulent bugs. The threat now comes from ignorant people banding together to follow frauds like Dr. Wakefield, who is directly responsible for real pain and suffering and death by his deliberate campaign to steer people away from progress.
I was tactless. I saw something funny, and it reminded me of something else, and I said it, and I hurt your feelings. Sorry. Maybe my cable internet troubleshooting story will help you out at some point.
(From WisdomOfChopra.com, the Deepak Chopra tweet generator: "Eternal stillness is at the heart of self-righteous mysteries.")
WHO'S CRAZY & WHO'S NOT
Nick Wilson: Time for an MCN web forum to replace listservs.
Really, folks, email listservs go back to the seventies, long before there was a public Internet, let alone the World Wide Web that people today think of as "The Internet." The listserv is an archaic, inefficient and obsolete technology in the 21st century. Even the spelling listserv (not listserve) is a quaint relic. The heated and extended discussion of vaccines and autism on the Announce list is the perfect example of why the email listserv format should be abandoned by MCN and replaced with a web forum. Users would then log on to the MCN forum website and see a list of topic threads that they could click on to read, or simply ignore in favor of event announcements, lost puppies, etc. If a user wants to post a new topic then he or she could create one on the forum. That way nobody gets their email flooded with messages they do NOT care about and do NOT want to read or have to delete so they can see the remaining relevant ones. And there would be no need to try to segregate announcements and discussion into separate listservs, which clearly does not work as intended. In addition, web forums have an archive, so if someone later on needs info that was posted to the forum a week or a month or a year earlier, then they can simply do a search in the forum archive to pop it up, with no need to ask other users to find it and post it again for them.
* * *
Peter Reimuller: I like the current format just fine. Works for me. I get to see who is crazy and who is not.
* * *
Ann Kyle Brown: I concur. It is part of what make our community truly great and small town. Suspect, it’s here to stay. Best show in town. Warmest of regards
* * *
Nick Wilson: Reading the few posts opposing my web forum proposal, it looks like those writers think I'm proposing killing the listservs period. No, I'm proposing that we replace them with the web forum format. They would continue to fulfill the community benefits that people cite for keeping the listservs. Peter Reimuller could still check the forum to see who's crazy and who's not. Ann Kyle Brown could still enjoy reading and participating in community affairs.
I can only suppose that those who oppose replacing the listservs with web forums have never used a web forum and don't understand how they work. All of the reasons people have given for staying with the old listserv format would work just as well, only better, in a web forum format.
The only difference is between the force feeding of the listserv and the voluntary reading of the web forum, and the fact that posts to a web forum stay there for ready access and reference later, eliminating the need to quote the previous part of the thread. Web forums are automated processes that can run on MCN computers just as easily as the listservs. Another point is that web forum users could receive a single daily email that lists and links to all of the active threads. Now I am absolutely sure that there are some list posters who enjoy force feeding their stuff to everyone on the list, including the many who don't care what that poster has to say and don't want to read their posts.
I think people are just stuck with their old, habitual ways and resistant to trying a newer, better, more efficient way of sharing and discussing information and opinions in the community.
THE PRINCE OF ALIENATION
by Tom Cahill
Forward by Tom Wolfe
A hundred years from now when historians write about the 1960s in America, they wont write about it as the decade of the war in Vietnam or of space exploration or of political assassinations . . . but as the decade when manners and morals, styles of living, attitudes toward the world changed the country more crucially than any political events . . . all the changes that were labeled, however clumsily, with such tags as "the generation gap," "the counter culture," "black consciousness," "sexual permissiveness," "the death of God" …the abandonment of proprieties, pieties, decorums connoted by "go-go funds," "fast money," swinger groovy, hippie drop-out pop Beatles Andy Baby Jane Bernie Huey Eldridge LSD marathon encounter groups stone underground rip-off … the whole idea of American life that gushed forth when post war American affluence finally blew the lid off…"
I wrote "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" and waited for the novels that I was sure would come pouring out of the psychedelic experience … but they never came forth. I learned later that publishers had been waiting, too. They had been practically crying for novels by the new writers who must be out there somewhere, the new writers who would do the big novels of the hippie life or campus life or radical movements or the war in Vietnam or dope or sex or black militancy or encounter groups or the whole whirlpool all at once. They waited, and all they got was the Prince of Alienation . . . sailing off to Lonesome Island on his Tarot boat with his back turned and his Timeless Cape on, reeking of camphor balls. Tom Wolfe "The New Journalism," 1973.
Tom Wolfe pegged me to the proverbial "T" from the Tarot boat--a flimsy collapsible sailing canoe called a Folbot that I named "Mahayana" with which I sailed some of the Seven Seas alone and all the way to the Timeless Cape and the camphor balls of the vintage costume portrait studio my wife, Sedonia, and I operated in San Francisco and later at the end of Main Street in the village of Mendocino from 1970 to 1980. One thing Wolfe missed is how American politics has affected me the past half century and right up to this very day when recently I had to seek psychological intervention because of Election 2016 and especially "Pizzagate" that followed. I have three great-grand children and the thought of any one of them kidnapped and sexually enslaved--upsets me to put it mildly. The FBI claims one hundred thousand children disappear in the USA each year. An organization very deep in the bowels of the Central Intelligence Agency call "the Finders" may know the whereabouts of some of these kids.
I wasn't born a crazy, radical, hippie. I had a lot of help getting here over the years. My mother passed her bipolar gene on to me but I haven't had a problem with manic-depression in almost twenty years. PTSD is my biggie. My first major trauma occurred while I was still a very impressionable teenager with an Above Top Secret clearance in US Air Force Intelligence in Germany in the late 50s. I had a job so boring but important that I was threatened with a court martial if I nodded off which I did frequently regardless of how much sleep I had the night before. I had to go through seamless reams of paper looking for certain codes dealing with weather reports around the Soviet guided missile test range at Kapustin Yar in Siberia. I had to look through hundreds perhaps thousands of messages before I found one I could plot on a map before me.
I would feel like a kid at Christmas when I found a code I could work with. But in a few minutes it was back to the monotonous torture of looking for another weather code. Why couldn't the Department of the Air Force have given me an F-86 Saber to fly like I wanted--very unrealistically of course since my math was worse than my vision. But I would have been happier as a janitor emptying the ashtrays on a B-50. Hey, it was those John Wayne movies that influenced me as a kid growing up in New Jersey across from Manhattan. Early childhood programing works wonders for Church and State.
Several guys in our 6910th Special Communications Squadron cracked-up and had to be medically discharged. So when I showed signs of stress like irritability, I was sent to see an Army psychiatrist at the big military hospital in nearby Landsthul. Captain Rich wrote out his report as I waited, placed it in an unsealed envelope and told me to give it to my commanding officer. On the train back to Zwiebrucken, I of course read the short report.
"Despite coming from a broken home, Airman Cahill seems reasonably well-adjusted. I recommend two weeks R & R," wrote the doctor. "R & R" is of course a simple code in use since at least WW II meaning "Rest and Recuperation."
In retrospect, I would have reported, "Despite coming from a broken home, Airman Cahill is reasonably well-adjusted but because of his imagination and immaturity, he has been kept on his present job too long and should be transferred to some work less responsible and stressful."
All kinds of BS circulated through our offices abut how important our work was, how the fate of the free world depended on us mostly teen-agers. Among other things we were told if the Russians invaded and threatened to capture us, we would be shot by our own Air Police. When I think back to those stories, it pisses me off how the Air Force manipulated us. I received a college education on the GI Bill but then I got into another career field that turned out to be BS--journalism.
In January 1957. I was 20-years-old and had been a radio traffic analyst with a weather specialty for about a year and a half. I was also very "gung-ho" and pleased that I had been entrusted with a Top Secret Eider clearance. But the Air Force took advantage of my good nature and willingness to do any shitty job. In retrospect I figure I had been kept on this job at least six months too long. I was used up but the Air Force had no replacement for me yet so I had to soldier on. In basic training we used to march to the cadence of "We came here to shoot down Migs, all we do is pile up gigs. And now at the ripe young age of 20, I was turning sour, going to seed, my mind rotting away.
In July 1957, more than six months after the psychiatric exam, I was ordered to report to another office on Monday morning 0800. At that place and time, I learned I had been transferred to the "Goon Platoon" for two weeks. The Air Force had no room at any of the air bases for our squadron so we were at an Army base in Zweibrucken near the Saarland. The Goon Platoon was comprised of mostly soldiers on their way to or returning from the stockade which is a military jail. I was the only airman since we were usually much better behaved than the GIs who like us were mostly teen agers or not much older.
An Army sergeant showed me how to operate and maintain a large lawn mower that was self-propelled. All I had to do was steer it. He told me what area I was to mow, what time to show up for work and what time I could knock off. I never saw him or any other supervisor again. I felt like I was being punished but at least I was a trustee and I was so desperate to get away from my work as an analyst, I didn't complain. In basic training we used to march to the cadence of "We came here to shoot down Migs, all we do is pile up gigs." And so it goes . . .
On Wednesday my immediate commanding officer homed in on the noise of the mower, and told he could fix it so I could return to our "shop" the next day. "No thank you sir, I'll finish my term," I responded. Now I really felt like I was being punished or at least shamed. But the sky was unusually clear for summer in western Germany, and I was working in bathing suit and brogans getting a nice tan on the job. No one was supervising me but anyone concerned always knew where I was by the sound of the mower.
I never distinguished myself in the Air Force but at least I served my time and even received a Good Conduct Medal. Wow! Six months after the Good Platoon, I was offered a third stripe or a six months early out, not a discharge because I had to serve four more years in the inactive reserve. But I could go to college a semester earlier than I planned I didn't hesitate over the choice. Fuck John Wayne! The only uniform he ever wore was on the silver screen yet you'd think he and Ronald Reagan won WW II by themselves. Reagan was in the Army but served his time in Hollywood making training films.
Compared to horror stories of other veterans, mine doesn't even register on the Richter Scale. But the goon platoon hurt me when I really wanted to do well for my country. The next big trauma for me occurred a few years after I was separated from the Air Force. 1960 was the first time I voted in a presidential election. I voted for John Kennedy even though I didn't like or trust him. To me he was "lace curtain Irish" with a flannel tongue while I was "shanty Irish" from literally near the railroad tracks on which trains fed Manhattan and hauled away the trash on the return trip. And both ways, the smell was impressive. Long before the Clean Air Act, the snow was always grey in Jersey City. Now because The Donald and others have driven the price of real estate so high in Manhattan, Jersey City is being gentrified.
First "Spaghetti" the kids pony, then the children themselves warmed me to the President. Then the way he handled the Cuban Missile Crisis finished the job. By the Fall of 1963, I was a Kennedy man. And in the morning of November 22, I was busy gathering my photo gear. I was working on a statewide magazine published in Austin for the rural electric cooperatives of Texas which LBJ helped organize in the Thirties when he was a rare-for-Texas New Deal Democrat. That morning I already had a White House press pass and one of the electric coop directors was going to set me up a photo shoot of the Kennedys at a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Austin that night. Early afternoon the news from Dallas hit me like a locomotive. My first thought was the KKK or the John Birch Society killed the President.
Next morning I learned at least one thing the police and media got wrong about the assassination was the weapon the shooter allegedly used when I watched on TV a Dallas County Deputy Sheriff hold up an Italian-made Manlicher Carcano 7.65 mm carbine a guy my age named Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly used. I owned one just like it and knew it's sordid history and reason Italian soldiers called it the "Humanitarian Rifle." (1) It was a vintage weapon designed in the late 19th Century, (2) it had a very slow bolt action, (3) short barrel for close-range fighting (4) was poorly manufactured and (5) in a book a friend had, it was listed as the worst small arm used in WW II by any combatants.
So from Day Two, I've been a "Conspiracy nut"--a term coined by the CIA and used by the corporate-owned media that like legislators doesn't dare cross "Capitalism Invisible Army" as Buckminster Fuller called the spy agency.
Over the course of the last half century, I have come to agree totally with former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura who once said, "If you can get away with killing a president, you can get away with anything." From Vietnam to Election 2016, it's been one outrage after another, one of my favorite "false flag attacks" being the attempted sinking of the USS Liberty. This occurred during LBJ's "watch" in 1967 when one USAF B-52 was within THREE MINUTES of nuking Cairo. But that's another story for another time.
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Here I present my nomination for the all-time worst POTUS ever…
"All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are." — H.L. Mencken