- Medical Fraud
- Osorio Story
- Postal Rape
- Burgle Attempt
- Justice Racket
- Little Dog
- Albion School
- Forestville Killer
- Public Access
- Halfway Done
- Eric Resigns
- Arrest King
- Welsh Verdict
- Yesterday's Catch
- Buzzing Hive
- Grin Reaper
- Gardens Appreciation
- Hemingway Music
- New Cars
- Civic Engagement
- Huff on TrumpCare
- Noyo River Review
- Cannabis Banking
- High Water
- Retirement Agenda
- GJ Deadline
- Housing Action
- Married Priests
- Acting Workshops
- Choral Concerts
- Marco Radio
- Roaming Charges
A PALER SHADE OF GRAY
by James Kunstler
If you seek to know why this country is in so much trouble, check out the lead reports about the health care reform bill in today’s New York Times, WashPo, and CNN. You will find there is no intelligible discussion in any of them as to what’s actually ailing US health care. All you get is play-by-play commentary about which political tag-team is “winning,” as if this were a pro wrestling match — with an overlay of gloat that the Republicans fell oafishly out of the ring in the early rounds.
Of course, an issue even larger than the health care fiasco is this society’s tragic and astounding inability to discuss anything coherently in the public arena, and that might possibly be traced to the failures of education in our time and its effects on the current crop of editors and news producers — people who grew up hearing that reality was just a constructed “narrative” and that one narrative was as good as another.
So, you would surmise from reading the papers (or their web editions) that the health care problem was simply a matter of apportioning insurance coverage. That is what the stage magicians call misdirection. Any way you cut the dynamics of health insurance, as practiced in the USA these days, it is nothing but racketeering, literally a conspiracy between informed players to swindle uninformed “patients.” The debate in congress (and the news media) is just about who gets to be swindled.
This is almost entirely due to the hocus-pocus of pricing for services. For an excellent dissection of all this, I urge you to read Karl Denninger’s comprehensive manifesto, How To Permanently Fix Health Care For All, which he posted one month ago. You have to wonder whether anybody in congress happened to read this, because the debate has been devoid of any of the crucial points that it addresses.
The way it works now, the so-called “providers” (doctors, hospitals) refuse to post the cost of any service, and then charge whatever they feel they can extract, subject to an abstruse and dishonest ceremonial “negotiation” with the insurance company. The result: hospital and insurance executives get paid multi-million dollar salaries, doctors get to drive fine German cars, and the patient gets financially ass-raped, kicked to the curb, and eventually stuffed into the bankruptcy courts.
ObamaCare did nothing to fix this. It just added more victims to the rolls and upped the price of admission for a personal financial ass-raping, so that an insured individual could go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy and end up getting dunned for thousands of dollars — or even more if one of the hosptial’s favorite cute scams is applied, such as calling in an out-of-network anesthesiologist to knock you unconscious (in which state you are unlikely to inquire whether he/she/zhe is in-network or out).
Under the current system, a hospital can bill you $5,999 to stitch up a cut finger, mitigate a bee-sting, or wind an Ace bandage around a sprained ankle, and you’re sure not to learn the cost-of-treatment until the postman drops off the incomprehensible “explanation of benefits” from the insurance company that states in bold print on top “This Is Not a Bill,” but actually is a report of your own incipient financial ass-raping.
But judging from the news reports this day, none of these issues is actually on the table in the congressional debate. I don’t believe the editors of The New York Times are necessarily “in bed” with the overpaid hospital CEOs and the insurance company fraudsters. They are simply putting up a defense of their previous psychological investment in Democratic Party ideology — in the shibboleth that ObamaCare was unquestionably a great thing because it was created under the magically empowered 44th president.
I can believe that both Democratic and Republican law-makers are not only in bed with the medical fraudsters of all categories, but are performing a particularly odious form of sadomasochistic bondage-and-discipline sex in exchange for payoffs. Note, too, that none of the aforementioned major media have reported what the medical and insurance lobbyists have paid to their rent-boys and doxies in the US capitol.
Wouldn’t you like to know?
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
22-YEAR OLD FATHER KILLED IN FORT BRAGG TIMBERING ACCIDENT.
The cold and sad facts surrounding the death of 22 year-old Alex Osorio, a 2013 graduate of Fort Bragg High School, have been reported in local outlets.
And Scully was struck by the human tragedy: the loss of a man so young, so full of promise and hope, father of a baby girl.
Since details were not available at press time for this edition, the AVA will run Scully's report in next week's (May 10) edition. In the meantime, he relays the following from Heather Baird:
This young local family needs OUR help.
Alex Osorio, 22, a graduate of FBHS, died in a tragic local logging accident and leaves his beloved infant daughter, Ezra born April 3, 2017 and her adored young mother, Mayari Aguayo.
Donations may be made through PayPal or be mailed with the notation: MCCF Misfortune Fund.
MCCF Misfortune Fund c/o
Mendocino Coast Children's Fund
P O Box 1616
Mendocino, CA 95460
ODD OCCURRENCE at the Boonville Post Office the other day. A local woman appears at the counter to say, "This absolutely must reach another Boonville box by tomorrow. The destination is about ten feet from the counter. Postmistress Collette says, "You want the guarantee insurance, too?" The customer says yes. Postmistress Collette says, "$27 for overnight delivery, $27 for the guarantee." Customer, with a shrug, says, "It is what it is."
AND A SECOND odd occurrence down the street at architect Steve Wood's office where in the late hours one night last week, a burglar, maybe two, climbed the fence and tried to break in, giving up after being unable to gain entrance, but maliciously squirting glue in Steve's door lock before departing.
THIS IS the first reported Boonville burglary, or attempt at a burglary, in a long, long time. Those of you who live in places where burglaries are commonplace, and attempted burglaries draw yawns from the police, please know that there is one little town where burglaries aren't common and attempted burglaries are fully investigated.
OF COURSE there are people who think our on-line Catch-of-the-Day feature is unfair to the bustees who are, after all, merely accused of breaking the law or have been picked up for not paying a fine. I think catch of the day is riveting, as do a clear majority of our readers. Those faces of our friends and neighbors are so brilliantly photographed the guy who takes them is Mendocino County's supreme practicing artist.
WE GOT a lot of flak for Man Beater of the Week, which we will soon revive. There were people, women especially, who didn't think it was funny. But we were trying to make the point that the unlikely perps were guilty of what? A slap in the face of some boor who had it coming, that a few years ago a cop, if he was even called, would simply warn the combatant not to do it again and drive on?
YEAH, YEAH domestic violence is no joke, and "men" who do it ought to be severely punished. But the way these phony busts are "adjudicated" is a sentence of the County's even phonier and mandated, "anger management classes" taught by… Well, the last time I checked, the costly classes were presided over by the kind of seething "liberals" who are so angry themselves you expect any time to read about them shooting up a Starbucks.
I'VE SUSPECTED the County's racket-like justice system forces people into these phony anger management classes simply as a revenue source, along with inflated fines, outrageously expensive traffic tickets, unreasonably costly parking tickets, and all the rest of the fees and fines set by people with plenty of money to pay them.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I was going to meet my old girlfriend across the street at Lizbby's Mexican Restaurant right here in Boonville but I had guard duty and couldn't make it. Nice of her to send me a e-card, though.”
ALBION SCHOOL - A NECESSARY SMALL SCHOOL
Albion at one point had 4 little red school houses. Today the Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) still has 3 one-room school houses (Elk, Comptche and Albion). There are about a dozen one room school houses in California. According to the CA Education Code if as many as 5 pupils residing in the district would be required to travel more than 10 miles one way from a point on a well-traveled road nearest their home to the nearest other public elementary school, that school would meet the requirement for a “necessary small school.” MUSD's “necessary small schools” received more funding for their small schools than the K-8 received. This was before MUSD decided that they can make more money being funded as a basic aid school district. MUSD now keeps the money from local property taxes and receives the state basic aid funding. There is a chance that these small schools get closed. When the enrollment at the Greenwood School in Elk dropped a great preschool opened. The Albion community wants to create a Montessori Preschool/K-3 program. We are asking you to support this child-centered, mixed-age setting. Parents of 15 preschoolers and 9 school age children invite you to attend the school board meeting Monday, May 8 at 6 pm at the new Albion School and speak up. If you cannot attend, write a letter to all MUSD trustees.
- Jason Morse <email@example.com> Superintendent
- Michael Schaeffer, Board President, Comptche michaelS@mcn.org
- Jessica Grinberg, Board Clerk, Mendocino firstname.lastname@example.org
- Charlie Acker, Board Member, Elk email@example.com
- Kathy Wylie, Board Member, Albion firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mark Morton, Board Member, Caspar email@example.com
- Emily Symonds, Student Trustee firstname.lastname@example.org
–Annemarie Weibel, Albion
SURVIVALIST ACCUSED OF 2004 JENNER KILLINGS OF COUPLE SLEEPING ON BEACH
by Kurtis Alexander & Sarah Ravani
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday it had solved one of the Bay Area’s most enduring mysteries, accusing a Forestville survivalist with a history of violence of committing the August 2004 slayings of a young engaged couple as they lay in sleeping bags on a beach in Jenner.
Shaun Michael Gallon, now 38, shot Lindsay Cutshall, 22, of Fresno, Ohio, and her fiance, Jason Allen, 26, of Zeeland, Mich., with a .45-caliber Marlin rifle at close range as they slept on secluded Fish Head Beach near the mouth of the Russian River, said Sheriff Steve Freitas.
The couple had been working that summer at a Christian youth camp along the American River in El Dorado County, and had gone on a three-day sightseeing trip up the coast which would have taken them through Forestville. Investigators say Cutshall and Allen didn’t know Gallon, and it’s unclear whether they might have had an earlier interaction with him.
“We believe this is a random crime and there is no connection between them,” Frietas said.
The sheriff said the break in the case arrived tragically on March 24, when Gallon allegedly killed his younger brother in Forestville, shooting him multiple times. The mother of the two men called for help, saying 36-year-old Shamus Gallon had been shot with a rifle at the home where the family lived on the 9800 block of River Road.
She reported that Shaun Gallon had left the house — which is about 20 miles east of Jenner — with the rifle and driven away in his minivan, officials said. Shaun Gallon was apprehended that day, accused of a slate of charges including murder and booked into Sonoma County Jail, where he remained Friday without bail.
It wasn’t Gallon’s first serious brush with the law. He was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting an arrow at a man in Guerneville, just west of Forestville, on Jan. 27, 2009. Gallon, described by investigators in that case as a survivalist, served a three-year sentence — spending some of his time at San Quentin State Prison — after wounding James McNeil of Monte Rio.
McNeil was sitting in a parked convertible on Mill Street when an arrow came through the soft top of the car and grazed his head. After deputies determined the arrow had been shot from the balcony of a nearby home, a SWAT team went inside, but Gallon had already fled. He surrendered a little more than a month later.
Sonoma County court records reveal that Gallon amassed a long and varied rap sheet, with convictions in his 20s for resisting arrest, weapons possession, theft, drunken driving and hunting abalone without proper paperwork.
The Sonoma County public defender’s office, which is representing Gallon, declined to comment Friday.
On his Facebook page, Gallon posted about world conflict, weapons, martial arts, protests and conspiracy theories. On Feb. 27, he posed in camouflage with a homemade spear, writing, “Check out this nice spear I made.”
In some photos, he wore a cape with half of his face painted black, in others he wore a gas mask, and in one he donned a purple shirt with a turquoise bandana around his head and a black mask over his eyes. He wrote, “I’d been hanging out with the indians, hunting.”
Shaun Gallon was a “person of interest” in the early investigation of the Jenner case, but he could never be definitively linked to it, Freitas said. But he said that after Shaun Gallon allegedly killed his brother, he made statements that indicated “he had information on the (Jenner) killing that no other person could have known” besides the killer.
“We have located evidence corroborating his statements,” Freitas said. “We are confident we have Jason and Lindsay’s killer.”
The sheriff said the rifle used in the killing of Shamus Gallon had not been used in the Jenner homicides.
After Freitas spoke at a news conference in Santa Rosa, the parents of the slain couple released a statement saying they were “extremely pleased that our children’s murderer is in custody where he belongs. We praise the lord for his capture.”
“When we at times wondered whether this day would ever come, the detectives in particular wouldn’t allow us to lose hope,” they said. “We want to thank our lord and savior Jesus Christ for sustaining us and our families throughout this journey. We know we have miles to go before this case is closed.”
The two were killed sometime after nightfall on Aug. 14, 2004, and before sunrise Aug. 16, officials said. Their bodies were found in their sleeping bags on Aug. 18. They were both shot in the head. Cutshall and Allen were killed just weeks before they were to return to the Midwest to get married.
Detectives on the case have pursued a number of possible motives in the killings — from sexual assault to murder-suicide, all of which were ruled out.
A timeline of the couple’s last days was established based on sightings of the two victims and photographs from their camera.
Police said that on Aug. 13, 2004, Cutshall and Allen left the Christian youth camp, Rock-N-Water, in Coloma (El Dorado County), where they were working as river guides for the summer. They visited San Francisco the next day, where photos showed them at Golden Gate Bridge and on Alcatraz. Then they headed north for the Sonoma coast.
“I think there’s a lot of joy and happiness that it’s been resolved,” Freitas said. “This shocked the community of Jenner and Sonoma County.”
Jason Allen, left, of Michigan, and Lindsay Cutshall, of Ohio, are shown at their wedding shower in May 2004 at the home of Jason's parents, Bob and Dolores Allen, location unknown. Allen, 26, and Cutshall, 23, two soon-to-be-married Christian camp counselors, died almost instantly when they were shot in their heads in their sleeping bags on a remote Sonoma County, Calif., beach, authorities said Friday, Aug. 20, 2004, as dozens of officers joined the hunt for the killer.
(San Francisco Chronicle)
ELIZABETH SWENSON WROTE:
To Rex Gresset
Re: City meetings on line—
It is true that over the years your writing skills have improved. But not getting facts correct is something you need to work on, unless like some people in our national government, you prefer to stick with “alternative” facts.
The latest information you twisted to fit your argument against Linda Ruffing, et al, is that city meetings were not seen on-line until recently. That is just not true, here is a little history: The city council and planning and many other meetings were recorded and played on channel 3 beginning in the 1990’s — before on-line was available. Starting in about 2005 the meetings began to be on line and in fact they are still available on line in a few different places. What is relatively new in the last 5 years is that the meetings can been seen on-line live, which began in 2013. If you are interested is seeing any of the city meetings before MCTV was destroyed by The Footlighters in 2013, go to Archive.org and under category type in "Mendocino Coast." I haven’t checked recently, let me know if there is a problem.
While it is true the city council meetings were poorly attended for many many years except when certain issues came up — historically that was often around land use, just as today. Some say the poor attendance was because people could sit at home and watch the meeting. Indeed some people would watch the meeting and come down to town hall in their slippers to comment on something they just noticed on tv of city council. Almost all the city council meetings MCTV recorded up to June 2013 were watched on line by hundreds of people according to the stats that were available from mcn.org.
* * *
REX GRESSETT WRITES:
My dear Elizabeth,
Sure the meetings were on line from the advent of the internet if you knew where to look. You just had to dig a little. I am sorry if you thought I implied otherwise. I really thought there had been continuous improvement in internet access to the council and committee meetings and a correspondingly increased interest in the affairs of the city.
I am distressed to have upset you. I realize having read your amazingly clarifying remarks that after all nothing has changed in the city council. How could I have failed to understand there is not a whit more interest or involvement or concern than ever there was.
I used to wonder if the citizens that watched at home in their slippers were so enormously contented with the political theater provided to them, that they stayed home eating peanuts or so disgusted with contrivance and crude manipulation that they declined to be a part of the farce. Your incisive analysis got right to the heart of it. All the happy campers that used to watch the meetings in their slippers have now simply decided to show up in person. Thank you for making that clear to me.
I notice that you do not dispute that Linda Ruffing routinely manipulates the council, stacks the deck, makes her agenda the city agenda. Or that the city council provides nothing in the way of direction, declines to lead, and has no plan other than what the city manager spoon feeds them.
That is the substance of my contention. Deal with that if you want to have a discussion. A resort to pettiness is not a discussion.
* * *
ED NOTE: Before there was on-line, or maybe it was in the early stages of on-line but not many people were adept at negotiating cyber-space, Fort Bragg City Council meetings were televised by the local non-profit that then did the revelatory grunt work. One night, when Dominic Affinito appeared before the Council, Fort Bragg got a good look at him live, and was so appalled at what they saw, Affinito, who'd had his way with the town via the totally city-underwritten infrastructure at his Glass Beach development, among other City gifts he received from an utterly corrupt city council, Affinito was finished. TV was his downfall. He came off as the thug he was. His fatal televised appearance was soon after Affinito had physically attacked Dan Gjerde in City Hall, and the City itself was run by Affinito errand boy, Gary Milliman. How corrupt was the City Council? Old fashioned corrupt, no interest loans from Affinito to the City Council etc. Gjerde led the reform charge at great peril to himself. There was never a definitive link between Affinito and the Fort Bragg Fires of '87, but then-DA Susan Massini let the statute of limitations run on prosecuting the prominent Fort Braggers responsible, and when she left office and retired to Oregon, the twenty boxes of evidence in the case, which included the results of both the FBI and ATF investigations, disappeared. Some of you Fort Bragg old timers may remember Kenny Ricks, dead of an acrobatic suicide the Sunday before he was to appear in San Francisco to address a federal grand jury. It was an acrobatic suicide Ricks is alleged to have achieved by placing a shotgun between his legs and pulling the trigger with his toe. He was one of the '87 arsonists paid by the responsible persons to set the fires. The entire saga and its cast of characters was more diverse, more interesting than Twin Peaks, and the people involved one way or another are still terrified by those events, still assume that bad things could happen to them if they talk about them.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN asks the only relevant question we've heard re the alleged roll back of ObamaCare:
"What is the celebration? It can't pass in the Senate. It hasn't even gone to the Senate. It's like claiming victory in a football game at the end of the first quarter or the half or something. For the life of me, I don't know why they put themselves in a position where they're clapping each other on the back for getting something halfway done. The American people want a product. We're not even there and it's not even likely to be there. Now we have this picture, this bus ride, this big hoopla."
After consulting with my family and medical professionals, I have decided to resign my seat on the Anderson Valley Unified School District Governing Board effective at the end of the last regular Board meeting for the 2016-2017 school year (currently scheduled for June 29, 2017). On Monday, I will notify our district and our county’s Superintendent of Schools of my effective resignation date. Education Code 5093 dictates that a special election consolidated with this year’s general election will ultimately fill my vacated seat.
I encourage community members interested in service on the Governing Board to contact Board President Richard Browning (email@example.com) or Superintendent Michelle Hutchins (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’m truly sorry. I tried, but I won’t do this anymore.
Anderson Valley Unified School District Governing Board
THOMAS SANDERS ON A RECORD-SETTING PACE FOR MOST ARRESTS IN 2017
AND HER DEFENSE WAS…?
AND IT TOOK THREE DAYS, WHY…?
From The DA's Office. — A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations just after the noon lunch hour this afternoon with a guilty verdict against Jennifer Anne Welsh, age 38, of Santa Rosa.
Welsh was found guilty by jury of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of methamphetamines, a misdemeanor. Outside the presence of the jury, the defendant had earlier also admitted driving without a valid license, driving without insurance, and driving with an expired registration.
The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence and argued the circumstances and law to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Luke Oakley. The investigating law enforcement agencies were the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Justice toxicology laboratory in Sacramento. The CHP, DOJ, and Mr. Oakley were supported at trial by the District Attorney's own investigators. The judge who presided over the three-day trial was Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 5, 2017
ASHLEY AVALOS, Willits. Failure to appear.
KEVIN CRUNK, Santa Rosa/Willits. DUI-drugs.
SALVADOR JARA, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, Under influence, protective order violation, witness intimidation.
BRANDON LAWSON, Willits. Court order disobeyance, failure to appear.
DAVID LOCK JR., Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, battery on peace officer, resisting.
GARY MUELRATH, Clearlake Oaks. Grand theft, obtaining someone else’s ID without permission, conspiracy, probation revocation.
KELLY STANTON, Ukiah. Probation revocation, resisting.
AARON WEAR, Willits. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.
by Manuel Vicent
Translated by Louis S. Bedrock
Like cheerful overconfident mosquitos taunting the spider, we exchange secrets through SMS, e-mails, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Instagram in the belief that this abundance of images and words, many reckless and awkward, most stupid or banal, leaves our electronic devices and settles randomly in a cloud.
People naively believe that our secrets, confidences, thoughts, and opinions are safe in that celestial storage room, pure and uncontaminated, when in reality that cloud is a gigantic computer located beneath the ground where humanity, like a swarm of cheerful and overconfident mosquitos, finds itself more entrapped every day.
In that computer are saved all the messages we emit with our digital gadgets and which the large media companies, the power elite, and the police use at their convenience. The secrets of our lives are hijacked and are available in that spider web, because the confidentiality agreement is an absolute fallacy.
This is nothing more than a robbery and, at the same time, a real threat.
Imagine that, instead of bits, our letters and written documents were stored in a huge storeroom. We’d have to be idiots to believe they would be well protected there and no one would read them, use them, or resell them.
Social webs have become virtual physical webs similar to those of the most dangerous spiders that trap our thoughts in order to transform us into victims of some predator.
But there’s something even worse. If within a thousand years that digital cloud disappeared because of climate change, or if the great universal computer were bombed, humanity, without its memory, would have to return to the Neolithic Age, begin with cave paintings, and eventually invent pencil and paper.
THE 40th ANNUAL JOHN DRUECKER MEMORIAL RHODODENDRON SHOW
Here’s a little peek inside this incredible event and our first spring visit to the Botanical Gardens since the Festival of Lights, brought to you by your intrepid reporters, Keri and Kaye.
If you didn’t make it to this, we’ll show you our visit and our favorites and encourage you to visit this magical natural kingdom by the sea and tell us what YOU liked best.
Our first glimpse of the wonders to come was when we saw the giant water lily pond covered with plump pink buds poking their persistent little noses through the heavy dark leaves – this was just at the entrance to the parking lot.
We found a parking spot where lush, blue-green pines crept along the center divider as ground cover.
Rhody’s Café was open and we enjoyed some goodies and joined the happy people enjoying the perfect day in the perfect place.
My own 30 plus year love affair with the Gardens began in my first year living on the coast. I had a dollhouse and miniature shop on Hwy 20, I was a miniature plant artist and when I came to Fort Bragg, I met a woodsman who’d always wanted to build dollhouses, so we joined forces and opened a shop. One of our first customers brought us tickets to the Gardens, and I have been in love ever since.
I just found a picture of one of my favorite birthday parties, it’s November, 1992 and we are eating and laughing. We’re out on the bluff by the cliff house at dusk; the staff at the Gardens helped us with a cart to carry our feast.
Another natural wonder, look up from your mobile devices, and observe the colorful, excited and happy people, both young and old following the paths that lead with differing levels of skill and stamina. Kids and parents from all around the world running and excitedly laughing at the beauty and fun of an unspoiled natural world. We feel so honored to see so many happy smiling families and people strolling through the glory of our local treasure. See you there soon.
'SO FEED ME am-mu-ntion, keep me in the Third Division.' I like this song when I need music inside myself to go on. I love all music, even opera. But I have no talent for it and cannot sing, I have a perfect goddam ear for music, but I can't play any instrument by ear — not even the piano. My mother used to make me play the cello. She took me out of school one year to learn the cello, when I wanted to be out in the fresh air playing football. She wanted to have chamber music in the house.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS AND OLD CARS GONE?
In my state, new cars are almost all I see.
Or new or newer looking cars.
And why are the new cars so ugly?
With new cars the manufacturers don’t have enough length to produce graceful lines and curves but they try to do it anyway and it ends up making the cars look like they have body damage; especially at night time.
The mid sized SUVs look like they’ve been rear ended.
For the first time in the history of automobiles, dirty cars look better than clean shiny ones.
IT’S ABOUT BRINGING YOUR CONGRESS BACK HOME, CITIZENS!
by Ralph Nader
The large marches, in Washington, DC and around the country, calling attention to importance of science and focusing on the calamitous impacts of climate change had impressive turnouts. But the protests would have been more productive if they concentrated more – in their slogans and signs – on 535 politicians to whom we have given immense power to influence policies relating to those issues, for ill or for good.
I’m speaking of Congress.
Congress cannot be ignored or neglected simply because we know it to be a corporate Congress, or a gridlocked Congress, or a Congress that is so collectively delinquent, or perk and PAC addicted, or beholden to commercial interests, or self-serving through gerrymandered electoral districts where they, through their party’s controlled state government, pick the voters to elect them.
Sure, there are probably 100 good legislators on Capitol Hill. But many of these progressive elected officials fail to effectively network with citizen groups, or organize left-right coalitions back home into an unstoppable political force. Issues that invite such left/right consensus are numerous, including raising the federal minimum wage, protecting civil liberties, tackling government waste and corruption, advancing solar energy, reforming the corporate tax system, full Medicare for all (with free choice of doctor and hospital) and a crackdown on corporate crime and abuses against consumers, workers and communities. Polls show big majorities behind these and other much needed redirections and reforms.
All these improvements in the lives of all Americans have to go through Congress. Sure, some efforts can be partially achieved by self-help and state/local governments. But for a national, comprehensive change movement, it is the Congress, which must be effectively and forcefully instructed to act in the public interest.
The big business lobbies haven’t given up on Congress, have they? They’re swarming over the Senators and Representatives to get the power we’ve given these lawmakers regularly deployed on the behalf of the crassest, most avaricious and harmful demands of the business bosses.
The most successful “citizen lobbies” focused on Congress do not bother with major marches and demonstrations. Groups like the NRA and AIPAC focus, with laser-beam precision, on each member of Congress. They know their background, their strengths and weaknesses, their key advisors and friends back home, their physicians, their lawyers and accountants, the social clubs they belong to, the kinds of hobbies and vacations they pursue. The NRA and AIPAC advocates personally know the lawmakers’ staff, sources of their campaign contributions, their concerns about possible primary challengers, what kinds of well-paying positions members of Congress seek after retirement or defeat.
With this face-to-face lobbying, threats of primary challenges and ample campaign contributions, these groups have gotten their way in Congress to an amazing degree, given their relatively small numbers of supporters.
Here is some advice: Get to know your two Senators and Congressperson personally and on your terms. It’s easier to do this with a comprehensive agenda of long-overdue reforms which can give you broad-based left/right support in your state. Then issue a formal Summons (a draft is in my new paperback, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think) for your Senators and Representatives to attend YOUR town meeting on YOUR agenda of changes and advances.
Every Congressional District has about 700,000 men, women and children. Most Districts have community colleges and/or universities. All have the necessary one percent of serious citizens working together to focus majority opinion directly on members of Congress. Often what is required is less than one percent, or say 2,000 people, working collectively as Congressional Watchdogs for 5 to 10 hours a week and raising enough money for two full time offices each with two staff.
The fruits of such efforts are numerous and immensely important to our country, our children and their children, not to mention the world.
To expedite and increase the ratios of success, such Congressional Watchdog organizations require study, discussions, and some training sessions with easily available material in bookstores or on the Internet. Just consider how much serious input goes into hobbies by millions of Americans all the time. Consider participating in this very important “civic hobby” achieving a better life for the people with “liberty and justice for all.”
Sign up for my free weekly column, which often elaborates on citizens and their Congress, at Nader.org.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, layer and author of Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN ON THE TRUMPCARE DISASTER:
“The narrow, party-line passage of TrumpCare today in the House is a disaster for the availability and quality of health insurance for my constituents and for our neighbors and families all across the country,” said Rep. Huffman. “TrumpCare will take away health coverage from 24 million Americans, gut coverage for mental health and other essential benefits, increase premiums 25-29% on average in each of the next two years, threaten funding for special education services in schools, impose an age tax on seniors, and it will once again allow discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes.”
“At its core, TrumpCare is a massive tax break for the wealthiest of Americans, with the Republican Congress playing the role of a ‘reverse Robin Hood’: robbing health care from millions of Americans in order to hand out $600 billion in tax breaks to our country’s richest people and largest corporations. The Trumps, Kushners, and Kochs do not need this assistance from Congress. You know who does? The families across my district – and across the country – who rely on Medicaid, and on the health insurance that they purchase, to keep their families healthy and to recover from health crises.
“Want proof that Republicans know this is a bad deal for the American people? Look no further than the fact that they drafted it to exempt themselves from TrumpCare’s lost protections, and that they will very likely still be protected from the consequences even when their own states decide to eliminate protections.
“While Trumpcare’s passage in the House today is a hard loss, there is a long road ahead before this becomes law. We have our work cut out for us, and we will need to keep up the impressive level of engagement that made it so difficult for President Trump and Congressional Republicans to even have this vote today.”
Rep. Huffman slammed TrumpCare for its dangerous consequences that would harm children, families, and seniors, including:
Higher Costs: Trumpcare would force families to pay higher premiums and deductibles, increasing out-of-pocket costs. On average, Trumpcare would increase out-of-pocket health costs (including premiums, deductibles, and other copays) for a Marketplace enrollee by $3,174 in 2020, when the new program would go into effect. Individuals with incomes below 250 percent of poverty would see their costs increase by $4,815.
Less Coverage: According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Trumpcare would result in 24 million Americans losing their health care coverage over the next 10 years. Specifically, CBO estimates that, if the GOP bill were enacted this year, 14 million Americans would lose their coverage by 2018, 21 million would lose their coverage by 2020, and 24 million would lose their coverage by 2026.
A Devastating Age Tax: TrumpCare forces Americans aged 50-64 to pay an “age tax” - to pay premiums five times higher than what others pay for health coverage, no matter how healthy they are.
Stealing from Medicare: Trumpcare steals $175 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund, shortening the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by three years. Trumpcare also ransacks funds that seniors depend on to get the long-term care they need.
MacArthur Amendment: The MacArthur Amendment completely guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive Essential Health Benefits and the community rating rules, which prevent insurers from charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums based on their health status. This will make it all but impossible for millions of Americans fighting illness to afford the coverage they desperately need.
Upton Amendment: All independent experts have said that the $8 billion in the Upton amendment to help people with pre-existing conditions is laughably inadequate.
The Republican health care bill was opposed by leading health groups including the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Children’s Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, AARP, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Catholic Health Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, March of Dimes, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, American College of Physicians, and America’s Essential Hospitals.
NOYO RIVER REVIEW PUBLICATION CELEBRATION
On May 14th, join the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference and Flockworks at a free event celebrating the publication of the 5th annual Noyo River Review—a literary journal of poetry, fiction and nonfiction—featuring prizewinning writing from the 2016 Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference and juried visual art from Mendocino County artists. This festive reading will be held at Odd Fellows Hall, on Ukiah and Kasten Streets in Mendocino from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00p.m., with food and drinks provided. Writers will be coming from the Bay Area and beyond to read their work that was chosen for the Noyo River Review.
The event will be hosted by Susan Bono, Editor, and features writers Brenna Silbory, Anne Da Vigo, Hunter Gagnon, Natasha Yim, Devi Laskar, Frieda Feen, Terri Nicholson, Mary Beth O’Connor, Valerie Stoller, and Laura Burke reading selections of poetry, non-fiction, and a wide range of fiction—including short fiction, novel excerpts, and young adult fiction—from the Noyo River Review anthology.
“It will be a lively and varied program,” says Susan Bono. “What amazes me is the distance people are willing to travel—from Eureka, Sacramento, Los Altos, Orinda, Oakland, Milbrae, San Rafael—to read their work that is published in the Noyo River Review. It’s a tribute to the community we build at the conference.”
The Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference is a vibrant, interactive gathering of aspiring writers and award- winning authors in a three-day immersive workshop held this summer from August 3rd to August 5th, in Mendocino, California.
This year, on August 5th, the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference keynote speaker will be Michael Krasny: author, scholar, professor of literature, award-winning journalist, and the host of KQED/NPR's “Forum with Michael Krasny.” The registration fee for the three-day conference, which includes most meals, is $575 before June 30 and $625 thereafter. MCWC is proud to offer more than twenty scholarships aimed at rewarding merit and encouraging diversity in our conference community.
Scholarship submission deadline is May 15th, 2017. For more information, visit www.mcwc.org or email email@example.com
PD: POT BANK II
EEL RUNNING HIGH AND FAST
California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) warn water enthusiasts of colder and higher river stream flows this spring and summer. Higher flows from record rainfall in many parts of the state and continuing snowmelt this spring, are expected to last longer and be higher than in several years. Swift water can create treacherous conditions for all recreationists — waders, swimmers, paddlers, boaters, anglers and hikers cooling off at the water’s edge. Enthusiasts are encouraged to take extra precautions when in or near the water.
In California’s high water years, recreational boating fatalities related to swift water conditions more than doubled on state waterways when compared to similar conditions during low water years. According to DBW annual boating accident statistics, 48 California residents lost their lives in swift water conditions during the state’s high water years of 1993, 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2011 combined. During the state’s drought or low water period of 2012-2016, accident statistics confirm that 23 fatalities occurred in swift water conditions.
“The month of May traditionally marks the beginning of California’s recreational boating season,” said DBW’s Deputy Director Lynn Sadler. “To increase the chances of survival in cold, high water, it is critical that water enthusiasts exercise extra caution and awareness. We urge boaters and water enthusiasts to study the outdoor conditions and stay safe.”
“With the most snowmelt in decades, we ask those enjoying the outdoors to be careful near mountain streams, rivers and reservoirs. Water flows can fluctuate as snow melts faster on warmer days, so always be prepared for a change in conditions,” said Ed Halpin, PG&E’s senior vice president of generation and chief nuclear officer.
Flows along the Eel River are running higher than the season’s norm, due to a wet spring. PG&E’s Lake Pillsbury and Van Arsdale Reservoir are both currently spilling but are expected to cease by mid-May.
Below are some water safety tips:
Know The Water
Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.
Cold water also reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature, and causes impairment that can lead to fatalities.
Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out of these water conveyances, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides and fast moving water.
Know Your Limits
Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool — people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface — this is especially the case with this year’s high runoff following years of drought. Drought-stricken forests and storm-driven landslides have filled rivers with submerged trees and rocks. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are recommended.
Wear A Life Jacket
Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket can increase survival time. Need a life jacket? Many locations across the state allow you to borrow a lifejacket for the day or weekend. Learn more at www.BoatCalifornia.com.
Whitewater Rafting And Paddling
Most California rivers are fed by the mountain snowpack, so they are cold year around. Even on warm, sunny days, rafters and paddlers must be prepared to deal with the water temperatures. The dangers increase as water temperatures decrease below normal body temperature (98.6 degrees F).
Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Do not assume that someone is watching them. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
LIKE, WE'RE SO BROKE BUT WE GO ON PRETENDING FOR YOUR SAKE
May 10, 2017 Board of Retirement Meeting Agenda
Please visit http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/retirement/meetings.htm to view the agenda and supporting documents.
PSST! WANNA BE IGNORED? SIGN HERE
Court Extends Deadline to Apply to Serve on the Next Grand Jury
The Honorable Jeanine B. Nadel, Chair of the Grand Jury Recruitment/Selection Committee has extended the deadline to submit applications to serve on the 2017/2018 Grand Jury to May 19, 2017. The 2017/2018 Grand Jury will be sworn in at the end of June, 2017 (date to be announced).
Service on the Civil Grand Jury is an excellent opportunity to learn about the inner workings of government, while providing a valuable service to the community. The 19 members of the Grand Jury serve for one year and are empowered to investigate the operations of county, city and district governments; provide civil oversight of local government departments and agencies; and respond to citizen complaints. The Grand Jury sets its own agenda and meeting schedule. Much of the work is performed in small committees allowing for considerable flexibility in the work schedule and meeting locations.
Grand Jurors are compensated $25 per full panel meeting, $10 per committee meeting and committee attendance at public meetings. Please note that mileage is reimbursed at the current County of Mendocino rate and there is free onsite parking. Prior to being nominated, each qualifying applicant is interviewed by a Superior Court judge. Training for Grand Jurors will be provided.
To serve as a Grand Juror, the following requirements must be met:
- At least 18 years of age
- United States citizen
- Resident of Mendocino County for at least one year
- Sufficiently fluent in written and spoken English
- or commission during the term
- Not presently holding a public office
- Not personally active in any campaign of a candidate for elective office
Applications and related information are available on the Internet at: www.mendocino.courts.ca.gov/general_info/operations/grandjury.asp. The application may also be obtained in person at the Superior Court, 100 North State Street, Rm. 303, Ukiah or by calling the Grand Jury at (707) 463-4320. For more information contact: Kim Weston, Administrative Assistant , Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino 100 N. State Street, Room 303, Ukiah, CA 954825 (707) 467-6437
LOW FAT POTATO CHIPS
Report from a Housing Action Team Member
by Benj Thomas
Ukiah, CA – When Healthy Mendocino led the effort to generate a community health needs assessment, it was not surprising that the housing shortage emerged as a major focus. In June 2016, community leaders formed five Action Teams, each with a goal of addressing a major contributor to community health issues. The five teams are Childhood Obesity and Family Wellness, Childhood Trauma, Poverty, Mental Health, and Housing. In monthly meetings since the initial planning session, the Housing Action Team, chaired by MaryLou Leonard, has articulated its goals and reached out to engage a broad group of stakeholders and leaders.
Much of our Team’s early work has focused on framing the housing issue. Initially, we focused on low- and moderate-income housing and shelter for the homeless. But we soon realized that the housing crisis in Mendocino County is not limited to the lower end of the housing market. The shortage of housing at all price levels has created a huge logjam in the region’s economy, with consequent problems for employers and job-seekers, and thus for all County residents.
One of our goals is to create new opportunities for citizens to learn about local housing issues and become part of the solution. In the past, public reaction to the housing shortage was limited. Many were aware of the problem, but there were few opportunities for meaningful public discussion of potential remedies. The obstacles to increasing housing stock were known: the shortage of available land zoned for housing, the low return on investment as perceived by contractors, and the high cost of permits and utility hook-ups. Even the Lake County fires worked to block local construction.
In the last two or so years, however, the housing crisis has moved to the front burner―not just in Mendocino County but across California―and the heat has been turned up. While homelessness helped to galvanize public attention to these issues, there is growing recognition that local employers and organizations, both public and private, also have serious housing concerns. Community leaders in and beyond the Housing Action Team are meeting regularly to discuss the issue and determine what to do about it.
We have acknowledged the problem; but what can and should happen next is pretty complicated. Here are some of the questions that in my view need to be answered:
Can we continue this discussion with open minds, committed to the best solution for all in our community?
Can we find a balance between managing inevitable change and preserving the quality of life in our towns, cities, and countryside?
Given the current political climate, can we obtain the help we need from either the state or the federal government to impact the crisis?
Can we agree on/mandate/legislate changes that will reduce the cost of permitting and utility services for construction? Should we?
Can we agree to changes in established policy around zoning and land use that will facilitate desirable growth?
Do we as a community agree to commit public funds or other incentives that will be required to create more low-income housing?
Are we as a community cognizant of the true cost of insufficient and sub-standard housing, costs incurred in public health expenditures, emergency services, education and public infrastructure?
These are just some of the questions our communities will need to discuss and resolve. To help generate and inform the public discussion and stimulate action, the Housing Action Team plans at least one public forum in the next year where community members can share factual information and candidly discuss all the issues and options. A productive model of a housing forum took place in Anderson Valley in February, led by a Housing Action Team member.
Benj Thomas, a former two-term member of the Ukiah City Council, is a member of the Healthy Mendocino Project’s Housing Action Team. More information about this and other Action Teams is posted on HealthyMendocino.org. New members are welcome.
For information on Healthy Mendocino or to schedule a presentation, please contact Patrice Mascolo, Healthy Mendocino Coordinator, at 707-467-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BETTER TO MARRY THAN TO BURN
In England Catholic Bishops urged to review celibacy rules
In a recent issue of the Guardian there was an article about the shortage of priests in England and Wales and that the celibacy requirement is contributing to a shortage of priests. It should noted that celibacy is a matter of church discipline rather than doctrine, and Catholic priests were often married up until the 12th century. Catholic bishops in England and Wales are being called on for a national commission on the ordination of married men. The Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) is renewing its call for a national commission of bishops, clergy and laity to discuss ways of solving the shortage of priests. In 2016, 25 men entered training for the diocesan priesthood as compared to more than 150 in 1985 plus there is a very advancing age profile towards retirement of serving priests. Cardinal Nichols, leader of the church in England and Wales has said he sees no reason for a change. In 2016, it was announced than a third of the 62 Catholic churches in north Wales would close by 2020 because of a shortage of priests under the retirement age. In Greater Manchester more than 20 churches would close and about 100 parishes would merge. Pope Francis has suggested a new openness to the idea of married priests. The next synod in October 2018 will discuss the decline in vocations. Celibacy may be discussed. It should be noted a shortage of priests is not a problem in many parts of the world. As a sidebar, I would offer a few comments, Europe is becoming much more secular and that affects the number of persons who attend Sunday worship. An increase in priests will not bring these people back to the church. Also, the shortage of priests could well be resolved by the ordination of women. Women played an important role in the life of Jesus and the early Christian churches and certainly would be a long overdue positive action in our world of today.
In peace and love,
Workshops for Actors
New York City theatre director and educator, Stephanie Cunningham <http://www.stephanieccunningham.com/> will teach two workshops for actors—An Introduction to Shakespearean Text and Contemporary Scene Study—beginning the weekend of May 13th, at the Mendocino Theatre Company. This is a great opportunity for local actors to work with a NYC professional. To find out more, please visit the Mendocino Theatre Company website <http://mendocinotheatre.org/workshops/>.
A student discount is available; please phone Pamela, 707-937-2718 for details.
OF UNICORNS & GIFTS OF FLOWERS
Redwood Community Chorus Concert
Mendocino Presbyterian Church, May 12th and 13th
Exciting and harmonious musical forms are used in the upcoming concert by the Redwood Chorus, one of the oldest community choral groups on the Mendocino Coast. These musical forms are heard in both the opening number, We Dance, by Dominic DiOrio, and in the Medieval fantasy, Unicornus Captivatur, by Ola Gjeilo, which closes the concert. Unicornus is based on a series of Medieval chants, but is not liturgical. Jenni Windsor conducts this special Mothers' Weekend program, together with the Chorus’ new accompanist, pianist Robin Knutson."
The Latin text of Unicornus Captivatur describes how The Unicorn has been captured and presented to the royal court in the hunter's snare. However, the Unicorn frees itself and heals its wounds with a viper's venom.
The Redwood Chorus spring concert will be held at the Mendocino Presbyterian Church on Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m., repeated on Saturday, December 13 at 2 p.m. The program includes "Distant Land," a song written by John Rutter following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the release of Nelson Mandela. Three songs feature the poetry of James Agee, Emily Dickinson, and the Robert Burns classic, "My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose." Poetic pieces about big skies and flight are included, together with a lovely Shaker Lullaby, “Here Take this Lovely Flower.”
The public is invited to join the Redwood Chorus at the Mendocino Presbyterian Church for this wonderful celebration of Spring. It's a perfect treat on Mother's Day Weekend. Admission is free. A donation is requested.
TOMORROW’S DAILY NEWS
Memo Of The Air- Good Night Radio: Cinco De Marco.
Tomorrow (Friday) night: my fifth Cinco de Mayo show since leaving KMFB and moving to KNYO, and my 996th Memo of the Air show, all told, will be by live remote from away, /not/ from 325 N. Franklin, next to the Tip Top bar, so if you were planning to arrive there and play music or talk about your project or diagram the circumstances of your bogus arrest, make that next week, when you can just show up any time after 9pm, waltz in like you own the place, head for the lighted room in the back and harrumph or clear your throat and compel my attention away from whatever it looks like I'm doing.
This Friday's show is already shaping up to be what they used to call a sockerooni. That was a sort of sticky salty-sweet pastry rolled into balls and usually served with meat or fish, but in this case it goes with anything, really. Stories from friends who are far away (Rich Alcott, Alex Bosworth, Ezekiel J. Krahlin) as well as from currently local writers like Scott Peterson, Rex Gressett, Jay Frankston and more. (Looks like a sausage-fest. You can trust me to take steps to rectify that.) (Wait... Penny Skillman. There, see?)
9pm to 4am every Friday, 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, including midnight to 3am 105.1 KMEC-LP Ukiah (or knyo.org or TuneIn.com). Or wait till Saturday night, get the recording from http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and enjoy it that way. "Go on, squeeze the wheeze. Many people like to." -Firesign Theater, which is what I'll present this time before I sign off. Here's a description of the exact play, to give you an idea of what to expect: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/AudioPlay/IThinkWereAllBozosOnThisBus
(The deadline to email your work for me to read it aloud on the air is a somewhat fuzzy 5:30pm every Friday night, so there's still plenty of time for you to get something in tonight. If you're sending it from Ukiah, say that and I'll read it after midnight so you can hear it on KMEC. Send plain text in the body of an email, no images or big files. And thanks!)
ROAMING CHARGES: THE END OF THE AGE OF PROTEST
by Jeffrey St. Clair
Here’s an expurgated version of my Earth Day talk at the Humboldt Anarchist Bookfair, scrubbed for popular consumption of all the crudities, vulgarities and fisticuffs that are the customary fare at such gatherings….
It’s delightful to be here in Arcata on a sunlit day in Humboldt County, where the air is enlivened by the restorative scent of the Redwood Country’s most invigorating agricultural product. I just returned to the Northwest from a deflating week in Indianapolis, a city whose nightly soundtrack throbs to the shrieks of police sirens, as cops rush to put the street hassle on black teenagers selling weed in crumbling neighborhoods. Indy’s the city of my birth and I still have an affection for it, though it’s a tougher and tougher love to maintain as the decades roll by and the town remains encased in some of the most venomous prejudices of 1950s America.
On the flight back, I was poking through an unjustly neglected novel by the greatest Hoosier of them all (give or take Oscar Robertson), Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The book is Deadeye Dick and it is set in a Midwestern town, a lot like the Indianapolis of my youth, after the city has been blitzed by a neutron bomb, that emblematic weapon of the Cold War which was designed to inflict maximum damage on living beings and leave all of the mansions, bank vaults and oil refineries standing pretty much intact.
Alas, Vonnegut didn’t live to see Donald Trump become president, but, as a seasoned observer of Manhattan’s flim-flam capitalist class, he knew all about Trump and the toxic appeal of his post-fascist brand of politics. Kurt had seen it all before, from the KKK-ruled sundown towns of the Midwest to the firebombing of Dresden. In Deadeye Dick, Vonnegut observes that “the Dark Ages, they haven’t ended yet.” Note that he didn’t say, “We have entered a new dark age.” Instead, Vonnegut was remarking on the continuity of a vicious style of American politics, which only gets darker and darker as the faint glimmer of the Enlightenment recedes farther into the past.
Vonnegut’s joke, which like most of his one-liners cuts sharply to the core of a profound truth, can help us orient ourselves in the time of Trump, who seems like a scary new beast, with his twitchy microhand fluttering over the nuclear button. In fact, what Trump has done is to the reveal the Beast that has always lurked in the anterooms of American power, sucking the blood and mining the bones of the Earth.
A few days ago, the carbon dioxide readings at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawai’i cracked 410 parts per million, an all-time record and a frightening one. On Earth Day, climate marches took place in cities across the world. Trump’s policies didn’t drive the spiking CO2 levels, but they did propel tens of thousands onto the streets for a few hours of fun. Where were those people during eight years of Barack Obama, an oil and gas man of some distinction? Where were they during eight years of Bill Clinton, one of the greatest environmental con men of our time?
Has Trump finally shattered our illusions, so that we can see clearly the forces—economic, political and technological—that are plunging the planet toward a man-made heat death? Is he, in fact, a kind of clarifying agent for the real state of things?
One can hope so.
Except one mustn’t hope.
As Kafka, the High Priest of Realism, admonished his readers, “There is hope. But not for us.”
Hope is an illusion, an opiate, an Oxycontin for the masses.
Instead of hope, we need a heavy dose of realism. A realism as chilling as reality itself.
Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha instructed us that the world is suffering, and indeed it is. He also advised us that the cure for suffering is empathy, especially for those living beings—among which I would include redwood trees, sea coral and saguaro cacti—which have no defense against the forces that are inflicting that globalized torment.
That’s where we come in. Defenders of the Earth need to abandon all hope before entering the fray. Hope is a paralytic agent. Hope is the enemy.
The antidote is action.
Action, however, is not marching in a parade a couple of times a year, featuring puppets, vagina hats and signs printed up by the Sierra Club©.
Action is not taking selfies with a celebrity in the back of a police wagon after a designer arrest.
Action is not typing your name on a MoveOn e-petition or voting for Jill Stein in safe states like Oregon or California.
Action is standing arm-in-arm before water cannons and government snipers on the frozen plains of North Dakota. Action is hanging from a fragile perch 150-feet up in Douglas-fir tree in an ancient forest grove slated for clearcutting, through howling winter storms. Action is chaining yourself to a fracking rig in rural Pennsylvania or camping out in the blast zone at a Mountain Top Removal site in the hills of West Virginia. Action is intervening when police in storm trooper gear are savagely beating a defenseless woman on the streets of Portland. Action is jumping into the Pacific Ocean with a knife in your teeth to cut the vast trawler nets ensnaring white-sided dolphins and humpback whales. Action is stopping bad shit from going down, or trying to.
The time for protests is over.
Protests will not prick the conscience of the unmasked beast called Donald Trump. Trump has no conscience to arouse, no shame to trigger, no remorse to cultivate. Trump is a full-frontal menace, that dangerous object in the mirror that is closer than it appears. It is the old threat, coming at us faster than before and from all directions at once. An unchained beast that will not be moderated by regulations, social conventions or appeals to common decency.
We are witnessing the wet-dream of Steve Bannon—the Trump Whisperer—made manifest: the dismantling of the regulatory state. This new reality compels us—for those who are willing to look—to confront the shedding of another illusion, an illusion that mainstream environmentalists have been marinating in since the 1970s, when our most progressive president, Richard M. Nixon, cynically created the modern environmental regulatory state in order to split the anti-war movement, pacify the Left and smother a much more radical defense of the natural world.
The green regulatory state–as personified by the EPA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and the BLM (Bureau of Livestock and Mining), as well as thousands of laws, administrative rules and regulations, the meaning of which can only be divined by lawyers, lobbyists and professional environmentalists—has not slowed the decimation of native forests, the extirpation of wildlife or the poisoning of our air and water. It has simply codified and systematized the destruction, allocating the looting to a coterie of well-connected corporations large enough and shrewd enough to navigate the legal labyrinth for their own bloody profits.
At the same time, the creation of the regulatory state effectively neutered the once potent environmental movement as a real threat to the System. As their budgets swell, often fattened by the largess of grants from foundations linked to the fossil fuel industry, the big DC-oriented conservation groups—who many years ago Alex Cockburn and I dubbed Gang Green—become more and more complicit with the political fool’s gold of neoliberalism. Try finding a lobbyist from NRDC with callouses on their hands and a trace of mud on their boots.
As Trump begins the demolition of the regulatory state, we begin to see how hollow many of Gang Green’s alleged environmental victories of the past—from coal mining and air quality regulations to endangered species protections and new national monuments—really are. They are being wiped out with a slash of the pen.
As my old boss David Brower used to say: “When we win, it’s only a stay of execution, when they win it’s forever. Thus we must be eternally vigilant.” These days the corporate environmental movement is vigilant about only one thing: claiming fake victories in their sustained barrage of fund-raising appeals.
But the days of the laptop environmentalists are numbered. Trump is creating a battlefield where professional conservationists will fear to tread, a direct, face-to-face confrontation with the machinery of ecocide.
And we know who will rise to the call. The ones who always have in the past: the indigenous, the altruists and the anarchists. Those are the ones who will fight as if their lives depend on the outcome, because, of course, they do.
If we are to believe the Sociobiologists, such as E.O. Wilson, the altruistic gene may only be present in three percent of the human population—may their gene pool increase! But, hell, that’s still three times as many people as the one-percenters who are running the show! If you want hope, there’s a microdot to swallow.
Small, scruffy and unruly as it is, we’ve seen the power of our movement in the past. When our backs are—often literally—against the wall, when the battle lines are clear from the immobilizing fog of liberal rhetoric and free from the timid advice of professional compromisers. We’ve seen it emerge from the Lacandon jungle to say enough is enough and overtake the streets of Seattle to shut down the World Trade Organization. We’ve seen grandmothers and housewives expose the toxic crimes of Love Canal and corn farmers shut down nuclear power plants. We’ve taken the international timber industry to its knees on its home turf, blocked strip mines, pipelines and river killing dams. We’ve thrown monkey-wrenches big and small into the gears of the System. It has been done and it will be done again and again. No grant applications or protest permits needed.
As Ed Abbey used to say: there’s no battle more important, no fight more fun waging, no comrades more trusty-worthy than those in the trenches with us when we rise up together in defense of life on earth. To crib a line from Leonard Cohen: “we may be ugly, but we’ve got the music.”
So draw a line and take a stand—almost any place will do, since the whole shebang is under threat—and let loose an old battle cry so that others will know where to come join you: Earth First!
* * *
+ Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton share many personality traits, none more puissant than a lack of moral conscience that borders on the sociopathic. Neither Trump nor Clinton ever admit to any taint of personal culpability. Fault always lies with others–or, in absence patsies, with the stars themselves. This week Hillary was back out on the road on her No Apologies Tour, promoting her as-yet-unwritten book, that casts blame on everyone except herself: Comey, Wikileaks, Putin, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Julian Assange, the media and Trump. She even had the temerity to call herself part of the “Resistance” to a man that she–and only she–helped to elect. Resistance to truth is more like it.
+ A week in the life of Bernie Sanders: praise Trump’s approach to North Korea, defend Ann Coulter, attack the UN for being too tough on Israel, refer to the IDF’s human rights crimes in the Occupied Territories by using air quotes.
+ Make way for the Sanders’ two-step. Here’s Bernie’s self-serving defense for signing a letter condemning the UN for being too harsh on Israel. Make sense of it at your own mental peril:
“I didn’t write that letter. I signed on to that letter. It’s not a letter I would have written.”
+ HRC can’t see her own faults and the Sandernistas can’t admit Bernie’s. No wonder he’s hired on as a shill for the still-Clintoneseque DNC that rigged the 2016 primaries, even to the point of agreeing to work as a political errand boy for the Senator from Citibank, Chuck Schumer.
+ We’ve come to the point where having a nuke is the only way to keep from getting nuked by the US.
+ This week the US Air Force provocatively launched an unarmed ICBM missile from Vandenberg Air Base in California out over the Pacific Ocean. I hope North Korea lodges a protest at the UN and a demand for sanctions….
+ The Justice Department announced this week that it will not seek federal charges against police officers in Baton Rogue involved in the killing of Alton Sterling. Let’s revisit this dreadful case. In the early morning of July 5, 2016, two police officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, accosted Sterling outside of the Triple S Food Mart. Sterling, who was selling CDs outside the store, had allegedly been involved in an altercation a few minutes earlier. The police hurled Sterling onto the hood of a nearby car, threw him to the ground, where he was penned down and then shot in the chest multiple times by one of the police officers. The shooting was captured on a cellphone camera. The footage leaves little doubt as to the culpability of the officers. The failure of the Justice Department to file charges in the case is evidence of the the cold hand of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions at work…At least 393 people have been killed by police since January 1, 2017, a number certain to rise as police realize there will be no consequences for their murderous tactics.
+ Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get more depraved, now comes news from Flint that more than 8,000 people are facing eviction from their homes for refusing to pay bills for toxic water that they can’t safely consume.
+ Don’t weep for ObamaCare, it was an insurance industry scam from the beginning. Take it from the Man himself, Barack Obama: “I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors.”
+ Paul Mosley is a particularly repulsive member of Congress from western Arizona, whose primary mission in Washington seems to be aimed at making the lives of the poor even more miserable. This week Mosley offered his jaundiced view that public education should be a privilege not a right. “Education used to be a privilege,” Mosely piously lectured the Arizona Capitol Times. “People used to believe getting an education was something you had to be privileged to get, that you had to work hard to get.” These jerks would nullify every “right” except the “right” for whites to bear arms…
+ This winter Trump’s White House handyman Jared Kushner offered to officiate the wedding of MSDNC’s morning lovebirds, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzesinski. The couple turned down the opportunity to be united in holy matrimony at Mar-a-Lago, instead opting for an engagement weekend in the Antibes. This will be Morning Joe’s third marriage. The former congressman once voted to ban LGBTs from adopting children. He’s a real family values man. As for Jared, is there anything he won’t do? Change the cat litter perhaps?
+ Ben Carson is off to a running start at dismantling the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson believes that the main problem with low-income public housing (i.e., the Projects) is that the conditions in these rat-infested firetraps are much too relaxing. So Carson is intent on making these federal slums much less comfortable, to the point where the unfortunate inhabitants might prefer sleeping on park benches and sidewalks. The problem, according to Carson, is that good-hearted bureaucrats have been showing the downtrodden too much misdirected compassion, creating dependency on having a roof over their heads. There’s no constitutional right to a warm and dry hovel to rest your weary bones. Don’t worry, Dr. Ben, I’m sure there’s a federal contractor out there who, for the right price, will construct beds made of nails and glass for your cardboard shacks…
+ Her poll numbers slipping, British Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the alarm that the EU is meddling in the her upcoming snap elections in an attempt to tilt the field toward the pesky insurgent Jeremy Corbyn. Perhaps Ms. May will make an emergency call to Vladimir Putin with a request that his cyber-crew intervene to even the playing field?
+ Since the election of Trump, there has been a record surge in the number of illegal Israeli homes built on Palestinian land. Since the end of January, the Israeli government has announced plans for 11,000 new homes for Jews in the West Bank, has retroactively legalized 4,000 other homes in the West Bank and announced plans for 15,000 new homes in East Jerusalem. They call these people settlers, which is a much more palatable word for home invaders.
+ If S&M is your thing, you can get your kicks at nearly any border crossing in the US. Every day, more than 750 people are denied entry, often arbitrarily, into the US and another 850 people are tagged as potential security threats and subjected to intrusive searches, often amounting to a kind of full-body fondling. Customs agents have almost dictatorial powers at the border and act with legal impunity, even harassing US citizens, especially of the journalistic and activist variety, on their reentry into the states by demanding the passwords to unlock their cellphones, computers and i-Pads. Even cancer patients, returning to the US for chemotherapy treatment, have been interrogated for as long as four hours. The trends are getting more malign every week.
+ I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan and have been since I lived in DC and Baltimore in the 1970s and early 1980s. Camden Yard is the most beautiful stadium in the Major Leagues and Orioles fans, most of them working class people, have stuck with the team through some lean decades. For the past few years though, the Orioles, a small market team with a limited budget, have been very good indeed, with much of their success attributable to a fleet-footed centerfielder with incandescent skills named Adam Jones, who the Seattle Mariners let slip from their grasps in one of the worst trades in baseball history. This week the Orioles were playing their bitter rivals the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, where Jones was repeatedly taunted with racist epiteths. Red Sox fans also threw bags of peanuts at him as he tracked down fly balls hit toward the Green Monster.
Despite its liberal pretensions, Boston has a rancid history of racism, which explodes in public from time to time, most notoriously during the period of court-ordered busing to integrate city schools in the mid-1970s and 1980s. For 60 years, the Red Sox were owned by the Yawkey family, whose stern patriarch Tom Yawkey privately vowed never to field “a n—-r” on his team. The old bastard kept his word for many years. The Red Sox were the last team to start a black player, Pumpsie Green in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Red Sox were the last profession sports franchise in Boston to field a black player, including the Boston Bruins NHL team. Even Red Sox players have been subjected to racist jeers from Boston fans. In January of this year, Red Sox pitcher David Price told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that racial slurs were shouted at him from Red Sox fans last year while he was warming up in the bullpen. It’s long past time to rename the offensive Yawkey Way, which runs between Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street at the entrance to Fenway Park, Pumpsie Green Way or perhaps the more ecologically minded Pumpsie Green-way.
+ Even Bill Russell, the legendary center for the Boston Celtics, endured racist slurs from Boston basketball fans and has continued to be treated by the city as something of a second-class citizen. As Celtic player and longtime broadcaster Tommy Heinshon noted: “Bill Russell won 11 championships for Boston and the city named a tunnel after Ted Williams.”
+ Five states now have only one functioning abortion clinic: Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. In the past 10 years, more than 300 onerous regulations on abortion rights have been enacted across the country, nearly crippling unfettered access to abortion in dozens of other states. Yet, Nancy [Net Worth $48 million] Pelosi pronounced this that abortion is “fading” as a political issue for Democrats, even as right-to-lifers close in for the final kill. This is typical Pelosi palaver. Rich women can get abortions, even if they have to fly to other states. Poor women can’t. Hence, no problem…
+ The state of North Dakota has declared itself the first “protester disaster area” and now has its hand out for an infusion of federal money to pay for its violent suppression of indigenous people trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will no doubt spring a leak in a few months despoiling rivers and wheat fields and prompting a new plea for federal cleanup money. Demanding federal money to subsidize the armed goons who attacked grandmothers and kids at Standing Rock is like Exxon submitting a bill for the bar tab of Captain Joseph Hazelwood after he drunkenly rammed the Exxon Valdez into Bligh Reef, spilling 11 million gallons of Alaskan crude oil into Prince William Sound. Naturally, these jack-booted conservatives are implacably opposed to federal handouts of any kind … for poor people.
+ The fascist femme fatale of France, Marine Le Pen, apparently plagiarized passages from the speeches of her conservative rival François Fillon during the closing days of the French presidential elections. Her supporters called the word theft nothing more than a “small” loan. Le Pen was hers, the text wasn’t.
+ The Arctic Ocean, and with it the entire planet, seems to have passed the point of no return. A recent report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program suggest that even under the rosiest scenario for reducing carbon dioxide emissions under the Paris Climate Accords, which Trump wants to yank the US out of, sea levels will rise by .52 meters over the levels in 2010. If, as seems more likely, carbon dioxide emissions continue to puff along at current trends, the seas will rise by at least .74 meters. End game.
+ Let them eat cupcakes, washed down with giant Slurpees! Trump’s Department of Agriculture, now helmed by Sonny Perdue (who once held a prayer vigil for rain in drought-striken Georgia), is weakening nutrition standards for school lunch programs. No word yet on whether ketchup will once again be reclassified as a vegetable as it was under Reagan.
+ So you want to move to Portland, where another day brings another cop riot? This week the Rose City was aflame after the commissioners abruptly rescinded a permit for the traditional May Day rally and then sent their military-clad police goons in to violently crackdown on the demonstrators, a crowd which included many women, children and disabled people. Two days earlier, however, these same police allowed a neo-Nazi group to prowl through Portland’s streets without a permit, spewing racist chants and harassing blacks and Hispanics on block after block. The police protected these tender neo-Nazi marchers from angry anarchists. Reportedly, Hipsterville’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, who is marketing Portland internationally as a kind of pot-friendly Whitetopia, then commissioned three TriMet buses to safely transport the white power dregs back to their starting point.
+ Anarchists who break a few shop windows get charged with terrorism, oil companies that shatter entire towns in Oklahoma get billions in new subsidies…
+ Ernest Hemingway, who suffered dozens of concussions during his rambunctious life, may have suffered CTE, the degenerative brain disease that now ravaging through the ranks of former football players. Perhaps Papa wasn’t as hard-headed as we thought he was…
+ On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on students protesting the bombing of Cambodia at Kent State University, killing four students–Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krauss, William Schroeder, and Sandy Scheurer–and wounding ten others. Most people are familiar Neil Young’s song “Ohio.” More obscure, but equally moving, is Harvey Andrews’ “Hey Sandy,” recorded a few weeks after the massacre.
+ More proof we are in the grip of another Cold War: UFO sightings are at an all time high.
+ Donnie: “Why was there a civil war, Daddy? Why?”
Fred: “How many times have I told you not to talk with a silver spoon in your mouth, Donald!”
+ Trump don’t know much about history
Except what he learned that time at Scientology
But he does know that one and one make three
And what a hugely great world this could be…
(Humblest apologies to the great Sam Cooke)
+ Alexander Cockburn and I saw Gatemouth Brown perform shortly before Katrina destroyed his home. Breaux Bridge Rag is one of my favorite Brown songs, which he sang, played guitar and fiddle on that night in Oakland. The farther we get away from the Blues, the less we hear songs about how one bad night can land your ass in jail and turn your entire life upside down. They don’t even make prison films anymore, though all of our prisons are overflowing. We increasingly live in a fantasy world and have to dig back to the voices of the past to find any kind of sonic map of the treacherous terrain we’ve entered, those maps preferably engraved on vinyl…
What I’m listening to this week…
Trombone Shorty: Parking Lot Symphony
Jeb Loy Nichols: Country Hustle
Jimmy Greene: Flowers: Beautiful Life, Vol. 2
Mark Lanegan Band: Gargoyle
Ray Davies: Americana
What I’m reading this week…
Bertolt Brecht: War Primer
Walter Scheidel: The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality
Bruce Sterling: Pirate Utopia
China Miéville: “It is depressing to have to point out, yet again, that there is a distinction between having the legal right to say something and having the moral right not to be held accountable for what you say. Being asked to apologise for saying something unconscionable is not the same as being stripped of the legal right to say it. It’s really not very fucking complicated. Cry ‘free speech’ in such contexts, you are demanding the right to speak any bilge you wish without apology or fear of comeback. You are demanding not legal rights but an end to debate about and criticism of what you say. When did bigotry get so needy?”
(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: email@example.com or on Twitter @JSCCounterPunch. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)