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Off the Record (April 19, 2017)

THIS PHONE MESSAGE was left on the office nut screener: “Hi, my name is Kellee Bradley. I'm the public relations manager for John L. Scott real estate in Seattle, Washington. I'm just a little bit flummoxed (laughs) — an article came up in my Google Alerts today from your paper in California of all places. It talks about art. And how we sponsor a room at the Seattle Art Museum. And then it accuses us of, of basically plundering art. And this article is by a man named David Yearsley. And it's called Artists of Empire. I don't know why he singled us out. We do have a couple of galleries at the art museum. (For what offended Kelleeeeeeeee, go to [])

KELLEEEEEE’S young voice continued: “His [Yearsley’s] quote said ‘John L. Scott is a real estate giant which has devastated much of the Puget Sound and continues to play a leading role in suburbanizing what little is left of it.’ It's kind of defaming and there is no reality in what he is saying. I'm wondering if — I just want to get some clarification from you guys to make sure that you really understand what it's saying. I just want to be clear that you do understand that he is throwing darts at us and he has no basis. We are a small regional real estate company in the Puget Sound area. But our founder was a patron of the arts and he sponsored a couple of galleries and art museums. Anyway, if you could call me back. My name is Kellee Bradley. My phone number is 425 210 7677. And before I send this off to our legal department I just wanted to make sure you guys were aware of and give you the benefit of the doubt and perhaps ask you not to defame us. Thank you.”

DAVID YEARSLEY REPLIES: “Almost twenty years on and the ‘Artists of Empire’ reappears in America’s Last Newspaper in the Age of Google Alerts. What a world!

Meanwhile, the Puget Sound looks more and more like the LA Basin: ghastly burbs, malls, high tech campuses, homeports for aircraft carriers and Trident subs. Did John L. Scott’s gang play a role in the transformation of one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world into what it is now? Only the most myopic and delusional would argue otherwise. Do those who profit from the destruction of the natural world often fund worthy projects with their takings — from art museums to universities to opera houses to animal shelters? Yes. Do these charitable deeds let the benefactors off the moral hook when the final reckoning comes due, and not only the mortgage but also the whole subdivision is underwater? Hardly. As for Google: I typed in some relevant words just now: “urban sprawl/ John L. Scott” etc. —and got this from the New York Times:

“IN THAT 1993 piece from the Real Estate section of the Gray Lady a representative of John L. Scott urges more building, forests and fields be damned.

Then there’s today’s featured listing on the John L. Scott website. It’s a condo (the AVA staff will laugh — bitterly perhaps — at the name of the complex: “Sonoma Villero”). The “municipality” is Bothel: the name itself is incriminating enough, conjuring as it does the worst nightmare of suburbanization. There in front of the “property” is the John L. Scott sign staked to the heart of the once pristine place. Amazing what developers, the automobile, and the real estate machine can ruin in a few short years.

“WHOEVER buys this condo will have to do a title search. A thorough, historical investigation that went beyond the Manifest Destiny-version all homebuyers are required to undertake would discover blood on those lands, and on many subsequent hands since it was expropriated, clear cut, and then sprawled over with the help of, white courtesy telephone (or even an occasional Google alert), the John L. Scott Co.

A LAYTONVILLE geezer got home invaded last week. On April 11, 2017 at approximately 7:00 AM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a 911 call of a gunshot victim at a residence in the 100 block of Mill Road / Woodruff Road (which parallels Highway 101 north of Laytonville) in Laytonville. Deputies and medical personnel arrived and met with a victim who was a 63 year-old adult male. The victim reported that earlier in the morning, at approximately 6:00 A.M. three to five unknown African American adults males entered into his residence by smashing a sliding glass door. The male suspects were armed with handguns and they held the victim at gunpoint while demanding money and marijuana. The male suspects ransacked the residence searching for the sought after items and at some point pistol whipped the victim and shot him in the arm while trying to determine the whereabouts of the money and marijuana. The male suspects ultimately disabled the victim's vehicle and left in an unknown direction in an unknown vehicle. Taken during the robbery was approximately $7,000 and several firearms. After the adult suspects fled, the victim was able to get to a nearby residence to request assistance as the suspects had also disabled his phone line. The male suspects were described to be African American adult males, slim build with unknown height. They were described as being between the ages of 18 and 30 and were not known to the victim. The victim was transported to an undisclosed hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries from the gunshot wound and the pistol whipping. Anybody with information related to this case or who observed persons fitting the suspect's description in the area around the time of the robbery are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office by calling (707) 463-4086, or the Tip Line at (707) 234-2100.

THE COUNTY’S freshly drafted pot cultivation rules are doomed to non-compliance. To become legal, i.e., exempt from raids except for federal strikes, growers will need to submit business plans, pay taxes, comply with OSHA standards, sign up for Workman’s Comp, insure themselves, and so on. In other words, the pot deadbeats will have to operate like any other small business burdened by all of the above. The whole local pot reg show is perfectly designed to ensure that mega-grows of the corporate type will soon dominate the Mendo gro scene, and those outsiders are gearing up to do just that every place in the county.

MENDOCINO SPORTS PLUS, in high dudgeon, wrote: "Not to be picky — but the Fort Bragg City Council just issued a proclamation that included 'honoring' the notorious racist & Yankee-killer ‘General Braxton Bragg.’ I thought honoring Confederates was politically incorrect? Is observing General Robert E Lee's birthday coming next? The South shall rise again!"

THE SOUTH done rose. Look who's president. Anyway, I guess you could call it ironical that the man who pounded the South (and Braxton) into submission, the truly great Ulysses S. Grant, was at Fort Humboldt just to the north of Braxton's assignment to Mendocino where he oversaw the final relocation of area Indians to Covelo. A few years later, Grant pounded the bejezzus out of Bragg and the rest of them, in the Civil War. (Grant and Braxton may also have been classmates at West Point, too. The Civil War split a lot of Civil War generals. Much as I admire Grant — his memoirs ought to be required reading; he was a wonderful writer. Away from his family in Humboldt County, Grant fell into the bottle, pulled himself out, lost money in a series of failed businesses, went on to win the Civil War and became a two-term president, his whole history that of a man of real experience, real mettle.)

I THINK it's safe to say that while Bragg wasn't a liberal in any known sense of the term, he doesn't seem to have been any Simon Legree, either. But looking at any of these people through a modern lens can lead to the snow flake-ism that's currently all the rage among the spiritual Stalinists holed up on college campuses. History boils down to what people did what they did, and our history is our history.

FROM the scant record available, we know that General Bragg's assignment to what became Fort Bragg was to protect the Indians from the crooks and rapists preying on them up and down the Mendocino Coast and everywhere else in California. Bragg herded the remnant Indians of Mendocino County over to Covelo by what is now the Branscomb Road, through Laytonville, and kinda southeast into Round Valley where they were more easily preyed on because they were now in one place. At least that's the version of early Mendo that sticks with me.

YEARS AGO I got into an argument with a resident of Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit. This guy was heavily into Aryan Bro social views which, at one point, he supported with an admiring reference to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was regarded by the media of the day as "the fiercest man in America," which is a large claim in this ferocious country, especially in Forrest's day when ferocity was a way of life for many people.

SO, with this AB guy, and in my dual responsibilities as life lib-lab and self-appointed corrector of wrong history, I pointed out that Forrest, founder of the KKK and a slave trader, not to mention his role in the massacre at Fort Pillow, died a liberal, deeply lamenting the race-obsessed part of his life.

ARYAN BRO didn't believe me so I sent him a Forrest bio proving that the old boy died regretting a life lived in error. AB wrote back to say he was going to have me killed, but our exchanges at least seemed to make him realize that historical fact and popular myth are often at odds. Hey, Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize when he had, what? six wars going? So, against all the evidence, our former president is now widely considered the next best thing to the Prince of Peace.

LOTS OF PEOPLE will remember Braxton's coffee shop in Fort Bragg, but I couldn’t for the little life left to me recall the proprietor's name until several readers remembered for me — Michael Berenz. It was always fun to buy a cup from Berenz, which he served with a flourish of dips and bows to the classical music he always had playing.

MSP ASKS THE LOGICAL QUESTION: Shouldn't they have thought of this before it opened? “Caltrans will install business logo signs along the Willits bypass in May, according to City Planner Dusty Duley” as reported by The Willits News. All you really need to know on any freeway anywhere in America is a billboard announcing, “Negative Food Values, Hot Sheet Motels, the usual spiritual desolation, the usual despairing people. More of the same Next Ten Thousand Miles.”

A REVIEW of Mendocino County’s long troubled CPS Unit by a team from UC Davis agrees with our Grand Jury that CPS “is in a state of crisis.”

MENDOCINO COUNTY’S Family and Children’s Services is in a state of crisis, and has been for several years. Despite this prolonged crisis state, there is still no unified vision among leadership, staff, the Board of Supervisors, and community partners about how to address the factors that perpetuate the crisis. Suggestions from one segment of the organization are frequently met with resistance by the others, and key decision-makers are consistently in conflict about where to begin addressing the agency’s challenges.”

THE COUNTY’S RESPONSE? We’re no worse than any other agency trying to cope; we need more money and staff and training and supervision to “enhance permanency practices” by “behavioral-based case plan language… safety mapping … evidence-based visitation … permanency roundtables … align data outcomes with contract deliverables with community providers … identify trends of substantiations, demographics, etc. …”

TRANSLATION: We’re overwhelmed by the consequences of the obvious social collapse that has engulfed helping agencies everywhere. We don’t know what to do so we hide behind obfuscating language. Despite its reputation as some kind of rural progressive paradise, not to mention the large number of “liberals” employed in the helping professions and at the County’s many non-profits, a large number of local children are being raised in a way that ensures a new generation of criminals and incompetents.

I THOUGHT I heard on Cowboy Cal's radio show on KZYX last week “ that the Hispanic population of Fort Bragg was "between 35 and 40 percent. Seemed wayyyyy too high so, checking around, the true figure seems be about 20-30% (depending on whose numbers you use. (The 2016 census for Boonville says Mendocino County’s most happening community is about half Hispanic.)

THE ENTIRE IMMIGRATION discussion seems stuck between the Build The Wall people and the Deport No One brigades. I find it hard to believe that anyone, even the most benighted sectors of the Deplorables, take the Wall fantasy seriously, and it seems almost but not quite as starry-eyed of the Sanctuary City types not to address the obvious fact that more than a few people ought to be deported. We don't need Trump to tell us we have our share of bad hombres right here in Mendocino County. They appear every day in Catch of the Day — the wife beaters, the petty crooks, the dope sellers.

THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT alerts Immigration to the bad guys housed at the County Jail, but from there it's up to Immigration whether or not to pick them up for deportation. That seems like a sensible policy to me. But the Nobody Gets Deported stance seems as nuts as the Wall.

THE NEW ELECTRONIC MEDIA makes the spread of misinformation a lot easier. It's clear just from my crude investigations in the Anderson Valley — talking with the immigrants I see regularly — that they now factor FEAR into their daily lives, a fear of course shared by their children, a fear spread by tweets and Facebook. From time to time, mini-panics occur when someone, sometimes as a joke, says La Migra is grabbing people at local markets or at random off the streets. (The black jump suits La Migra togs out in were obviously designed by some closeted goose stepper, and a lot of the people wearing them are in them because they’re too dumb or too crazy to be cops.)

AT THIS POINT in our accelerated history, it's not possible to know how far Orange Man will take his bluster, but it's bad enough that it has already caused the widespread anxiety it has among the many decent, hardworking people who are as rooted in our communities as the rest of us are.

MENDOCINO COUNTY is famous for its laissez faire attitude toward anything to do with agriculture, which is about 90% grapes. Roederer’s former manager in Anderson Valley, Michel Salgues, told us frankly that they’re here because the industry here is virtually unregulated, especially compared to heavily regulated France. Mendo was the last County to prepare a General Plan and then only after the County was sued for not having one. Mendo is still the only rural county in the state without a grading ordinance, much less a riparian ordinance. Noise and other giant nuisances? Not only does the “right to farm” law exempt Mendo ag from nuisances, but when The Major filed his suit to try to curb the frost fan noise, the County (not the growers) demanded that The Major put up a $1 million bond to even be allowed to file his suit. Water regs? The County has never — repeat never — said word one about water use or rules for legal crops — even in severe droughts. Labor laws? Pesticide restrictions? Rangeland conversions to grapes? Giant traffic snarling wine events on rural roads? Waste emissions from wineries? You name it, Mendo not only allows it, but encourages it. Basically, if you wanna grow grapes and make wine, Mendocino County does not care how or where you do it. (Oh, there are a few state rules that apply, but they’re primarily paperwork requirements that have nothing to do with the growing of grapes or the making of wine other than making sure that only those with lots of money to begin with can join the Great Grape Rush. When loggers complain that they’re heavily monitored and regulated, they really are. Grapes? Free pass pretty much.

NOW MENDO WANTS TO impose complicated rules on pot growers, many of them the same people who have operated without rules for decades. You have to register and pay lots and lots to be legal — minimum registration fee around $100k — after which you fall under Mendo’s protective legal umbrella.

AGENDA ITEM 5c on Tuesday’s (yesterday’s) Board of Supervisors agenda:

“Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Presentation on the Development of a Cannabis Compliance Unit within Planning & Building Services.”

Ignoring the ridiculous wording of the item — “action regarding presentation”? — the idea of enforcing “compliance” with the County’s complicated pot cultivation rules borders on oxymoronic.

“ON MAY 4, 2017 the County’s Cannabis Cultivation Program, authorized through Chapters 10A.17 and 20.242 of Mendocino County Code, will become operational. In preparation, the County continues to invest significant time and effort into development of a permitting program, led by the Agriculture Department, which is expected to experience heavy demand for service. The permitting program is being developed in conjunction with a working group that includes various representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Planning and Building Services, Executive Office, Treasurer - Tax Collector, County Counsel, Air Quality Management District and the Division of Environmental Health. Unpermitted cultivation is expected to include two primary groupings, with different paths toward resolution for each. Trespass and large-scale cultivation will continue to be handled as a criminal matter by the Sheriff’s Office. Smaller scale cultivation which is prohibited by the County’s Cannabis Cultivation Program will be addressed by code enforcement staff within Planning & Building Services (PBS) using administrative citations, abatement processes, and/or civil court…” (our emphasis)

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE. First, this black and white compliance breakdown fails to even mention enforcing the rules for permitted growers who try to push or expand their practices beyond what is permitted.

SECOND, “abatement” (i.e., pulling up pot plants) only applies to grows in areas where they are not permitted. Say someone is permitted to have a 4,000 square foot grow but they have 6,000 square feet of garden, spread out over who knows what kind of configuration. A neighbor complains (and only in the worst cases would a neighbor complain because very few Mendo neighbors will complain when this unwieldy mess gets going) which is the only conceivable way a violation will be noticed. So the neighbor complaint comes in and the finger pointing among “various representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Planning and Building Services, Executive Office, Treasurer-Tax Collector, County Counsel, Air Quality Management District and the Division of Environmental Health” would begin. Who’s supposed to enforce what?

Third, “civil court”? Oh please. A neighbor is going to take his pot growing neighbor to court because the pot grower is violating some aspect of his permit?

“IN COLLABORATION with County Counsel and your Board [ah yes, always good to throw in a bit of ass-kissing for the Supervisors], PBS [Planning & Building Services] staff have prepared for this role over the last 16 months. Preparation included contracting with a local expert in code enforcement who has been reviewing and developing internal procedures, hiring a new supervisor for the code enforcement unit, and developing new tools, including administrative citations, administrative penalties, and expedited abatement processes. The final step to prepare for operation of the Cannabis Compliance Unit will be to hire two new code enforcement officers, for a total of seven full-time code enforcement officers (which includes Trent Taylor [retired Ukiah Police Captain] as a contract manager currently). Human Resources is expected to provide the department with an initial list of candidates the week of April 17; a related and still open recruitment for candidates will close on April 20. This unit will have resource assistance as necessary from the Executive Office and work in partnership with law enforcement and the Agriculture Department. Additional detail, including a flow chart and an organizational chart can be found in the attached memo.” (—Mark Scaramella)

WILL PARRISH, our ace investigative reporter, has relocated to Santa Cruz. Will has begun to catch on with larger circulation magazines, including The Nation, and a larger venue closer to the Bay Area is a handier locale to write from. He promises to re-appear in our pages from time-to-time.

PURE SPECULATION on my part, but any young writer specializing in environmental matters, who also lives in Mendocino County, will inevitably find him or herself pulled into a dreary circle of aged "activists" who are, to put it mildly, dispiriting. They fasten on the young and idealistic like serial flights of vampire bats, and Will was constantly besieged by them. To save himself, Will did the smart thing — he got clear outtahere, as many smart, ambitious young people before him have done

ANOTHER BOOK ON JIM JONES? Yes, and a good one, too, although I'm only a coupla hundred pages in. "The Road to Jonestown — Jim Jones and Peoples Temple" by Jeff Guinn, who is also the author of an excellent bio of another Mendo Old Boy, Charles Manson.

AS HE DID with his Manson bio, Guinn digs deep into the early life of Jones where the author finds a wacky mom, a disabled vet of an ineffective father, with the three of them comprising an impoverished family struggling through the late stages of the Depression in a small, rural social milieu of puritanical fundamentalists. But it was the stable Indiana community of Lynn that tolerated mom — she smoked and swore in public, and took on a lover into the bargain, shocking her easily shocked neighbors — and took in and fed little Jimmy.

APOLOGIES for the maudlin, much abused term, but the Indiana town nurtured the budding psycho in the best sense of that awful word, taking him into their homes while mom was at work and his disabled dad spent his days playing cards at the pool hall. Precociously intelligent and skillfully manipulative of adults, Jones, despite his home life, really did grow up in idyllic circumstances.

THE AUTHOR has tracked down a number of people who remember Jones as a child and as a young man, learning that not only his mother but neighboring women of the pious sort combined to instill in Jones his "specialness" as he grew into the amphetamine-fueled monster he became.

JONES REALLY GOT ROLLING in Mendocino County, deftly parlaying his sociopathic gifts into outback political power by appearing to be all things to all people. He was a socially conservative church man to inland Republicans, a "socialist" progressive to Mendolib (as then constituted in pioneer hippies and the minority of liberals already in place in the county)

JONES'S RISE in Mendocino County coincided with LBJ's Great Society programs. Suddenly there was lots of loosely monitored federal money for the care and rehabilitation of dependent people. Jones parlayed care homes into a small fortune in real estate and ready cash, accomplishing it by installing white parishioners in Mendocino County's nascent social services bureaucracy. The Jones-ites in the Welfare Department signed up Jones's imported black parishioners for the available array of benefits whether or not they qualified for them. Jones’ imported black funding units that Jones had gulled into relocating to Redwood Valley became both Jones's war chest and an advertisement for the People’s Temple as a pioneer multi-ethnic church and force for social good.

THE MESSIAH, as he privately implied himself, soon outgrew Mendocino County and re-established himself in San Francisco where he was quickly embraced by The City's liberal shoguns, and the rest, as they say, is history.

HOW'S THE THIRD DISTRICT SUPERVISOR APPOINTMENT PROCESS GOING?Writing in the April 13 Willits Weekly, reporter Mike A’Dair attempts to provide an update. Former third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse resigned almost four months ago now and we still don't know if he will ever be replaced by the governor and his tardy, slo-mo appointments staff. So far the applicants include former Willits City Councilperson (and former Third District Supervisor candidate) Holly Madrigal, Willits schoolteacher and Teachers Association President John Haschak, Willits School District Trustee Georgeanne Croskey and Willits resident Skip Lucier (brother of former Third District Supervisor Tom Lucier (who was a better undertaker than supervisor). A’Dair interviewed some of the applicants who told him that they have now been interviewed two or three times in the last couple of months, most in person in Sacramento. Former Third District Supervisor John Pinches submitted to a couple of phone interviews. Pinches told A’Dair, "Probably the most important thing they asked me was, Had I ever done anything to embarrass the governor?" Another Willits resident and applicant, Mike Horger, also underwent two telephone interviews. Other applicants include Ellen Drell and Clay Romero, "but there could be more," added A’Dair, continuing "Pinches said he had heard there were 14 applicants for the position and Haschak said he understood there were somewhere between 15 and 20."

UNREALITY was celebrated across the country last Saturday by the hallucinogenic Democrat Party. As Trump dispatched a large segment of America's nuclear fleet for Korea, the loyal opposition demanded to see his tax returns! Priorities anyone?

LOCALLY, Democrats of the Cargo Cult type will assemble at Cotton Auditorium to hear Congressman Huffman…. talk….. about….. nice people … … Sorry, I got dizzy there for a minute, blanked out. The mere mention of the Congressman’s name induces a kind of narcoleptic seizure. I think I'm ok now. Where were we? O yes, Congressman Huffman. He appears this week for one of his monarchical visits to Mendocino County. You sign up on-line to see him answer pre-written lob ball questions prepared for him by either his staff or some automaton from the local Democratic Party.

HUFF, looking earnest as all heck, will rattle off a series of Party talking points — the Russians cost "us" the election; the mega-bomb dropped on ISIS in Afghanistan was wonderful because it didn't kill any civilians, which we know because our intelligence community is the best in the world; ditto for the Tomahawks on Syria; "I co-sponsored Bernie's phony single-payer bill but, heh heh, like, you know, we hadda modify it to insurance industry specs" etc.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "Get Out," a kind of liberal litmus test. If you don't think it's funny, or true, you flunk. It's a good one, so good I'm surprised it got made.

UP PERISCOPE, YELLOW SUBMARINE. Blue Meanie Alert! The following message appears on the coast listserve, "Can anyone tell me why Mendocino County needs a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)? Also known as a sound cannon, it is used for crowd control. It is on the consent calendar on an upcoming BOS meeting, which means that unless a Supe pulls it off of the agenda it is passed automatically without discussion."

SURE ENOUGH, ITEM 4G on Tuesday's agenda is "Approval to Purchase a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) in the amount of $7,300 from FY2015 State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) (Budget Unit VT15, line item 862239); and add item to the County's approved fixed assets."


CURSORY RESEARCH confirms that LRAD may be used for crowd control by directing an excruciatingly loud noise at protesters, demonstrators or rioters. But it also may be used as a communication tool to assist with search and rescue or emergency communications. Since even the possibility of a riot, the only possibility ever in Mendocino County, passed without incident in 1990 at the Redwood Summer demo in Fort Bragg, this device is clearly desired for humanitarian purposes.

THE LIST SERVE PARANOIDS, of course, routinely assume evil intent, but never their own, which, over the years, has been considerable. According to the Office of Emergency Services (OES, the same people who send comprehensive updates during severe storm events) is that the LRAD would be used by OES, the Sheriff's Office, and the Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team during search and rescue operations and during emergency situations.

LRAD IS LIKE A BULLHORN ON STEROIDS but can be used to communicate across much longer distances. Of course, it can also be used to blast collections of… But can anyone remember a time when the local Sheriff's Office resorted to violence to subdue a crowd?

DON'T CRY FOR ME, UKIAH. Late Friday afternoon. Ragged pedestrians singly or in clumps shuffle along State Street like survivors of some terrible battle, some of them still screaming at nothing in particular. A still young tattooed woman with dead eyes is at the court clerk's window discussing her legal history. "I don't remember these two," she says, pointing a long list of arrests and imprisonments. Al Kubanis, attorney, has a Trump sign in the window of his State Street office, the only visible political statement anywhere in town, including the somnolent Mendocino Environment Center, hours noon to like whenever. Two cops are questioning the walking wounded in Alex Thomas Plaza, site of so many police calls the Ukiah PD ought to consider placing a sub-station there. Down the street, the still imposing but much decayed Palace Hotel is in receivership. The receiver says he can borrow $2 mil to fix it up against potential annual earnings of a quarter million; if he gets the loans and partially resuscitates the Palace it would re-open just in time to find the downtown deserted. He may not be aware in this town of civic cross purposes that the judges are building themselves a new county courthouse three long blocks to the east, and Ukiah's hazy leadership has paid a consultant to ratify their notion that an "upscale" hotel, in the same neighborhood as the Palace, is a good idea. Meanwhile, the city manager says he could use an assistant city manager to keep this Swiss watch of civic functioning ticking right along.

A NEW YORKER review of a book called "Locked In" by John F. Pffaf sorts out some of the prevalent myths about crime and incarceration. There are presently 6.7 million people in our prisons, public and private. If all the private jails were closed, the author says, there would be no noticeable bump in crime. Most people are locked up for relatively short periods — four years on the average — and it is politically ambitious DA's responsible for putting them there to wow the wowsers that they're "tough on crime." Non-violent drug offenders do not swell the prison population, but lots of black people are in prison for violent offenses committed in and around the drug trade, and this happens because young black men are "deprived of a faith in their own upward mobility." 95% of cases are plea bargains: "Nearly everyone in prison ended up there by signing a piece of paper in a dingy conference room in a county office building." (cf Mendocino County.) Most career criminals "age out" of the prison merry go round around age 40.


(1) Yes, the collapse is under way, Trump’s foot is on the gas pedal, and it’s sad to see everyone who knows about collapse prep instead of trying to prevent it.

As William Gibson said about the future “it’s already here, just not evenly distributed.”

I drove past a deserted strip mall that should have been redeveloped and then a new one built instead, just up the street, and without a single store selling a durable good. Everything was restaurants, coffee, massage, pet grooming, or a gym.

We continue to make tragic and wasteful choices. It’s the worst thing about “free market” and command economies, alike. The bad choices are simply different.

I’ve come to conclude that in America, even the looting would not be good on Doomsday.

(2) All of the concern of the moral horror in Syria by Hassad reminds me what Gore Vidal said, that Americans prefer a moral issue instead of a real issue.

What bothered me was the amount of talk show types who loved to see them Tomahawks go flying out. A certain part of America has never met an airstrike they didn’t like.

‘It’s showing the world America is strong again!’ One guy said on the radio. ‘We’ve got the best technology in the world, the best weapons, and we wiped out that base. Every missile hit its target.’(No, they didn’t). I guess this is the Tom Clancy contingent, and you got to hand it to Tom…he knew his audience. ‘And our sailors firing the missiles…God bless ’em.’Yeah…’we don’t want to fight, but by jingo if we do…’

I remember a short story I wrote some years ago where a farmer lives in a world made by hand, and the president, on the run, crashes on his property. Seems like America has no more economy or oil because it got ruined in a war with Russia. The farmer is angry. ‘Invading Russia was a pretty goddamned stupid thing to do.’ The president admits he had faulty advice. I only hope I’m not being a prophet.

Meanwhile, since we drifted to Moon landings, United Airlines overbooked a flight, and in order to get four UA employees to the final destination, passengers were yanked off the flight, including one Chinese doctor who had to be dragged out, crying he had patients waiting for him. I mean, cops dragging this poor SOB down the aisle. James Kunstler has said a lot about the decline of travel, and here’s a real example of us collapsing into soup. The stupid, fucking airline overbooks as a standard policy, then collars passengers who’ve already paid, and why can’t the idiot executives who make this policy wonder why UA might have a PR problem? They propose to gave those bumped 800 dollars in travel benefits…I say nothing but cold, hard cash. I hope that doc sues them for a mint. It’s an example why I never fly. The service is crappy, planes are crowded, delayed (and you want to experience madness, imagine being cramped on a runway for two hours), and you have to face security like you’re a mouse and they’re the cats.

It just is insulting and disgusting to see this guy hauled away. It’s only a sample of what corporate America thinks of us. You get the idea no one is in charge anymore.

(3) Blunder Land. Some may view the Hillary team’s electoral college miscalculation as the mother of all blunders. After all, it gave Mr. Blunderbuss himself the presidency, and so the nation was doomed, or so they thought. The blundering health care bill has been buried, just as we may be sooner than we think by baleful toxins. And of course the major issues of the day like limited resources, growing populations, and climate change are buried also, with a dangerous insouciance. But wait. Here come the brass hats. They’ve treated Syria to a tumult of Tomahawks, and “the mother of all blunders” has just enabled the dropping of “the mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, in an effort to make Nangarhar look more like Nebraska. Will the brass hats and the Brobdingnagian Bashibazouk avoid the big, military blunder, like Bush into Iraq? Who knows? Anything can happen in Blunder Land.

(4) There appears to be a vast bulk of Americans that while never bothering to ever serve in the armed forces themselves are more than willing to babble on about how “we” should bomb some backwater crap hole “into the Stone Age”, or turn some Middle Eastern sandpit into “a parking lot”, all the while neither they nor theirs lift a finger to do any of the dirty work. Why, even at last week’s church service, two of the very few “men” that attend were thumping (or should I say Trumping) their chests at the show of “not going to take it anymore” that they feel resulted from another useless expenditure of ordinance in Syria. I guess I missed the part where war for profit was slipped into Christian Doctrine. IMHO, as the state of decay quickly encroaches upon the Americans lifestyle, there are far too many Mindless Minions that will support any war or any death dealt upon anyone other them in order to keep the Fat & Happy motoring, cellphoning and partying into oblivion. It has become Us or Them in the vilest sense of the word and it simply cannot end well, though end it must.

(5) Most people don’t want to drive when they get really stoned and experienced stoners can drive pretty good anyway. Only those who don’t indulge and consequently don’t know what they are talking about imagine impaired driving and weed to be a problem. Pot smokers drive slower, too. Harvey Reading fleshes it out with a real life experience:

Re: Pot smokers drive slower, too.

Yeah. Back in about 1975, I lived about a mile south of the Sonoma city limits, at the terminus of a dead-end road. One fine early morn (about midnight), I ran out of beer. I’d also been smoking some very good “dope” as we sometimes called it then (“weed” was something you mowed or pulled). So, with the great good judgement I possessed, I hopped into my Cortina GT and drove into the town, where I knew a liquor store would be open.

Now, I had been drinking and driving since I was 19, so I wasn’t worried about the effect of the beers I’d drunk. But, for some reason I’d never had an occasion to be driving while stoned.

Since mine was the only vehicle moving on Broadway, I realized that extreme caution was called for and resolved to do nothing that would make me stand out in any bad way as I traveled north toward the plaza. I scanned constantly for cops, and did my best to drive under the speed limit, which was 35 miles per hour, I think. Feeling very good about my efforts, I finally glanced down at the speedometer. The needle hovered just a little below the 5 miles per hour line.

It was the last time I ever drove stoned. Unfortunately, it was not the last time I ever drove drunk, but it took another 14 years to get caught.

One Comment

  1. Rick Weddle April 24, 2017

    re: re-developing abandoned strip-malls…
    I believe the current legislative structures favor ‘development’ of the sort where fresh ground is broken and fresh pavement and ‘improvements’ are installed, a definition of ‘progress’ that requires massive exploitation/outlay of resources, and a dubious promise of yet more Petro-powered traffic. You will notice even MAINTAINING these new segments of ‘infrastructure’ goes neglected, once they are in place. And it is generally the practice to give incentives and tax-breaks to these BigBox Projects, so that they are not even EXPECTED to make a profit for 10 years or so, if at all. Accounting acrobatics can show ‘profit’ on company books during this ‘grace period,’ even while BoxMart is draining and ending local economies, even if they close the doors, write everything off, and walk away… So. There IS a way to get lots of $omething for Nothing whatever! It’s still called ‘theft’ in some quarters.

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