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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, May 27, 2017

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Tony Pardini, Anderson Valley

Press Democrat Honors 8 Redwood Empire High School Students As Athletes Of The Year

by Lori A. Carter

Eight local athletes with exceptional skills, stats and smarts have won this year’s Press Democrat All-Empire Athlete of the Year scholarships.

Chosen from almost 150 nominees submitted from high schools in Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Marin and Mendocino counties, these students exemplify the hard work and dedication it takes to be among the best athletes and student-athletes in the region.

The eight overall winners — four girls and four boys from large- and small-school categories — won $500 college scholarships from The Press Democrat for either their athletic prowess or academic success.

Shayleena Britton, Round Valley

“These young men and women represent our best and brightest. Their accomplishments — in competition, in the classroom and in their communities — are an inspiration to all of us,” said Press Democrat Sports Editor James Barger.

The scholarship winners in the athlete category are basketball player Hailey Vice-Neat of Cardinal Newman and three-sport stars Jack Newman of Analy, Riley Goff of Kelseyville and Fort Bragg’s Lucas Triplett.

Student-athlete winners are Santa Rosa senior runner Luca Mazzanti, Round Valley basketball and volleyball player Shayleena Britton, three-sport athlete Tony Pardini of Anderson Valley and three-year Montgomery varsity tennis player Margherita Andreassi, the group’s only junior. The scholar-athletes all had perfect or nearly perfect grade-point averages, and many took multiple honors or Advanced Placement courses.

Lucas Triplett, Fort Bragg

Nominations for the 23rd annual awards came from schools that compete in the North Bay League, Sonoma County League, the North Central Leagues I, II and III and the Small School Bridge League.

A team of editors, columnists and reporters reviewed the nominees and selected the winners from a strong group of candidates that included athletes from almost every sport. The nominations included information about each athlete’s sporting and academic achievements, their hobbies and interests and their involvement in school and community activities. The eight top winners received $500 scholarships to use as they begin their college sports and academic careers.

The youths plan on attending colleges and universities including Boise State, West Point, UC Davis, Sonoma State, San Francisco City College and Santa Rosa Junior College.

(story and photos courtesy The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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TWO PEOPLE WERE KILLED early Friday morning when their vehicles collided head-on just north of Willits on Highway 101, the California Highway Patrol reported.

According to the CHP, a man driving a 1994 Ford Bronco was heading north on Hwy 101 north of Reynolds Highway around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning, May 26, when he unaccountably turned into oncoming traffic.

After the Bronco crossed over the double yellow lines, it hit a southbound 2008 Dodge Ram pick-up truck head-on. Both vehicles then caught fire with their drivers trapped in their seats.

A man came upon the scene shortly after the collision and began to help all five passengers of the pick-up truck exit the vehicle as he saw the fire spreading.

'Due to his quick thinking and expediency, all five passengers from the Dodge were safely rescued,' the CHP notes. 'Unfortunately, the driver was trapped in the vehicle as it became fully engulfed and he suffered fatal injuries.'

Until his family can be notified, the driver of the pick-up truck is only being identified as a Eureka resident, and his passengers were a 43-year-old Eureka woman, a 24-year-old Eureka man and a 19-year-old Eureka woman, all with major injuries, and a seven-year-old boy from Fortuna with minor injuries.

All five were transported to area hospitals by ambulances responding from Ukiah, Willits and Laytonville.

The driver of the Bronco was also trapped and died in his vehicle. His city of residence was listed as 'unknown.'

The CHP notes that while the cause of the collision is still under investigation, "it appears impaired driving may have been a factor."

The accident, to clarify, happened near the intersection of US-101 & the Reynolds Highway in Willits.

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by Mark Scaramella

It’s a given among local law enforcement that at the time of his death, Mendo DA Norm Vroman, the accidental anarchist, was being investigated by federal authorities for marijuana and gun-related crimes. The allegations certainly fit Vroman’s libertarian prosecution policies. But at least one former Vroman lawyer we know insists that the rumors were simply politically motivated gossip by federal officials who didn’t like Vroman’s loose pot and gun policies.

Whatever investigations were underway, they ended when Vroman died in September of 2006 after suffering a heart attack in his driveway. He was also right in the middle of a heated re-election campaign, having become the most talked about DA in the state, if not the country. Here at the Boonville weekly, we were always big Vroman supporters, and were flattered when Vroman said our support won him his first election as DA. (We are assumed to influence a strong 20 or so percent of the Mendo vote, an influence on the wane with the rise of multi-cyber communication vessels.)

After a long and varied legal career, which began in Southern California and spanned more than 40 years, Vroman, age 69 when he died, was elected Mendocino County’s DA in 1998 in a come-from-behind runoff win over the incumbent DA Susan Massini. Vroman mounted a strong get out the vote effort combined with a concerted campaign focusing on Massini’s many failings, including her mishandling of the Bear Lincoln case, her mysterious failure to charge and prosecute the criminals responsible for the Fort Bragg fires in the late 80s. Then there was her high profile, anti-union prosecution against Carpenters’ Union reps at a school site where they were carrying out their legal union work, plus bitter, politically-motivated, retaliatory firings of staff attorneys, including present DA Eyster who Massini had removed from the office at gun point on a Friday afternoon. Vroman was re-elected relatively easily against Massini and Al Kubanis in the 2002 primary without a runoff.

Most observers credited Vroman’s come-from-behind win in 1998 to votes from the Coast which were heavily in his favor, particularly in Fort Bragg, where anger at Massini lingered for her failure to prosecute the brazen arsonists responsible for the infamous Fort Bragg fires of '87.

But by 2006 a number of Coast residents who voted for Vroman in 1998 and 2002 had been estranged by Vroman’s blanket disqualifications of Ten Mile Court judge Jonathan Lehan and Vroman came in surprisingly low in the 2006 DA primary. As far as I know Vroman never fully explained why he filed the blanket recusals of Lehan, although he did say that Lehan didn’t adequately control his courtroom and didn’t know the law, an opinion held by many others who’d come into contract with Lehan in court.

After a few weeks, instead of replacing Lehan in Fort Bragg, then-Presiding Judge Eric Labowitz reacted by putting a retired judge in Lehan’s courtroom to take the cases after Lehan was recused while Lehan continued to handle civil and carryover cases.

Lehan was appointed Ten Mile judge when his predecessor, Judge Heeb, flamed out in a scandal involving the judge's infatuation with a chronic offender whose affections the judge rewarded by lenient legal treatment. Lehan himself, always protected by his fellow judges, was the object of formal complaints for continually exposing himself to female court staffers. But his pals on the Ukiah bench, led by the late Judge Ron Brown, transferred Lehan to low profile duty in Ukiah until the scandal subsided. Our superior court, in our opinion, has always protected its friends and allies.

Over time, Vroman's blanket challenge tactic backfired politically because more and more coast people and cops were inconvenienced by having to take their cases to inland courts to avoid Judge Flasher, and backfired legally because the DA’s one peremptory challenge was used up on Lehan and thus not available for the next judge who may have been assigned to the case.

As a result, Vroman came in second behind Fort Bragg attorney Meredith Lintott thus leading to a runoff which never happened after Vroman’s untimely death. Lintott, it might be recalled, was initially hired into the DA’s office by former DA Susan Massini and was one of the few Massini-holdovers before she quit to go into estate planning then declaring her candidacy for DA.

The one word that best describes Norm Vroman as DA is “independent” — independent of judges, of Supervisors, of cops, of the CHP, of parole officers, the IRS, etc. Vroman’s critics saw his independence as stubbornness and uncooperativeness. But it was an independence born of self-confidence from his years of experience and reverence for the US Constitution and his occasional unshared reading of the document, one of which cost him two years in the federal penitentiary for failing to file tax returns. Vroman’s self-confidence was also a large reason that he was as accessible as he was. Although he’d listen to people who wanted to lobby him one way or another, he had strong opinions on cases and people and it was hard to get him to change a decision he’d made once it was announced.

The DA’s office was generally well-run under Vroman who took a hands-off approach to individual cases once they were charged. Vroman made most of the initial charging decisions every morning as the cases arrived at the DA’s office, after which they were turned over to individual prosecuting attorneys. Vroman was proud that he’d developed and instituted an office procedure manual and implemented a large scale upgrade of the DA’s office technology (computers, cameras, recorders, etc.) as well as getting many of his deputy District Attorneys to take weapons training on the shooting range at the Ukiah Gun Club. (Vroman was a self-described “gun nut.”)

Vroman was Mendocino County oriented, to the point that he had begun to annoy many of his former pot-growing supporters. Vroman didn’t want to make Mendo into a pot-exporting plantation and didn’t think Mendo “caregivers” should be growing pot for large outside "patient" markets like San Francisco's. He also prosecuted some high profile “medical” pot cases which the single-issue pot people found to be too aggressive.

The Ralph Freedman Fiasco was a good example of Vroman’s independence. While some of the credit for staying on that case goes to his former deputy Myron Sawicki, Vroman was the one who decided to step in and take action when it was obvious that the Supervisors were not going to do the right thing and get rid of their hot-headed Child Support Services Director. In closed session, Vroman told the Supes if they didn’t do something about Freedman, he would. They didn’t, he did — and a few months later a young female employee said Freedman had groped her and the Supes finally had to dump him. Vroman eventually lost Freedman’s criminal harassment jury trial, but that wasn’t the point. He forced the Supes’ hand and made it clear they’d better not let that kind of thing go on in the workplace.

Vroman was refreshingly direct and blunt personally but unfailingly polite. For example when asked why bail amounts seemed low he’d simply reply that bail was to insure that a person would appear in court, not a form of financial punishment. He could also be an hilarious witness. Cross-examined by a hostile attorney he replied literally to all her questions.

"How did you communicate with him, Mr. Vroman?"

"In English," Vroman replied.

Vroman got a bad rap early in his tenure when some members of the local therapy community didn’t like the way he handled domestic abuse cases, which just happened to have the effect of lowering their caseloads and pay days because Vroman didn’t think “anger management” classes did any good. In fact, Vroman’s domestic abuse prosecution record was better than Massini’s and, after the flurry of objections — fanned, of course by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat which always endorsed his opponent and took every opportunity to find fault with Vroman — passed, there were no more complaints of that nature.

While Norm Vroman certainly acquired his share of critics over the years, especially in his second term, as any DA will, he had the respect of most of his staff and was never a guy to be taken lightly, personally or legally — as the Supervisors, the Auditor (he staunchly defended his budget) and some local judges discovered. And while there were a number of individual issues and cases that people could certainly disagree with Vroman on, Mendocino County had a sensible, reasonable person sitting in the DA's office. That hasn't always been the case.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Never served myself, but I respect the people who have. There are a whole bunch of vets here in the Anderson Valley, and here's one dog who'll be throwin' salutes this weekend.”

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Or, A review by Marylyn Motherbear Scott

produced by Mendocino Theatre Company

Those ors divide less than they subtly link.

from the Prologue.

OR, by Lix Duffy Adams; directed by Betty Abramson —

MTC's second play of the season, runs through May 28.

I will not purchase slavery

At such a dangerous rate

But glory in my liberty

And laugh at love and fate.

— Aphra Behn

Belying the serious subjects that present themselves in this fast-paced comedy full of engaging characters and delightful dialogue, Or, is many things. At least two. Or, more!

Playwright, Liz Duffy Adams, brings Aphra Behn to life for all of us who missed her during our introduction to Female Authors in the curriculum of our Women’s Studies Courses. Aphra Behn, the first female playwright of the Restoration era, steps onto the stage at the Mendocino Theater Company with her rhymes and rhetoric, letting the world know that it is good, even pleasurable, for women to make their way into careers and to be self-sufficient. It was the beginning of a golden age.

And so the play begins — a woman sits, parchment resting on her lap, a quill in hand. She is in her formative years, lovely, elegantly dressed, suggesting a deliciously undefined past era. The stone walls of debtor’s prison surround her. She reads aloud from the document she is writing to her employer, her “adored king” who has failed to pay her for her work as his spy. Thus, the plot thickens right at the start.

This is our introduction to Aphra Behn. Local favorite Nicole Traber plays Aphra with a presence that must come from a deep resonance with the character. Aphra’s singularity of intention teaches us about what it takes to achieve success in a man’s world as she takes up the quill no matter the distractions that are in her path. Traber does not get to play the game of multiplicity that the other actors do; but inhabits the stage for the whole play, managing with charm and humor, the fast-paced interaction with all six Co-stars.

Director Betty Abramson made strong choices, first in the casting of characters. She had a unique challenge in summoning seven characters out of three actors; but that’s the way it was written. Taking up the farcical elements of in-and-out the doorways with occasional glances out a window and down a stairwell, Betty highlights the intention of the playwright in making either/or placements. It’s funny and ever-so-smart.

And yet, it is a sexy play. King Charles II is enamored of Aphra and of theatre. He enters masked, having paid her debt, and seduces her into his keep. He is willing to patronize her without the ultimate “pay-off” which she refuses for reasons you can discover when you see the play.

King Charles is played by Kerel Rennacker, a newcomer to the Mendocino stage. I can tell you that the King is a darling, and Aphra finds his amorous advances appealing. Mr. Rennacker also plays the unappealing Jailer, as well as Aphra’s controversial ex-lover, double agent William Scot. Each role Rennacker takes up is done with a certain precision of characterization and he handles the comedic element with dexterity and aplomb. One suspects a Shakespearian inclination.

Dividing herself into an awesome threesome Pamela Allen fully embodies each role, amplifying the comedic proportions with a blink of her twinkling eyes. As Nell Gwynn, a renowned actress of the times, known for her “breeches part” (playing the part of a boy), Nell Gwynn was also known for her beauty and her flair for comedy. Pamela Allen gives us what must have been Gwyn’s irresistible appeal, as well as some of the most edgy lines in the play. There’s more to Gwyn than all of this, but you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Pamela Allen also appears as the crusty Cockney maid who takes care of business without a second thought, unless a second is needed. Her dour aspect surprises us by revealing another side that’s as sharp as a well-honed blade. The third incarnation? the distracted Lady Davenant, manager of one of the most financially successful in London, and ultimately producer of Aphra Behn’s work.

The dialogue of this engaging play is a lilting song, lively and literate, leaping up out of sudden and sweet sonnets, blank verse in iambic pentameter, and couplets. And so it is revealed, Aphra Behn is a poet focused on her desire to be a playwright. It’s the year 1660. The theaters had previously denied woman actors, let alone playwrights, and now have reopened. A new sense of freedom has invigorated society.

Framed in this way, by the language and syntax of the Restoration period, the play nonetheless borrows more modern expressions that make the commentary contemporary. Dialogue flashes forth for an instant of recognition, then sinks in as we ride the hilarious waves of social and political intrigue. Without making it ponderous, issues of choice, women’s choice in particular, relationships, polyamory, marijuana and more are bandied about in a raucous staging that jumps in and out of the bedroom and an armoire, into the beautiful writing room of Aphra Behn.

Diane Larson, set designer, is at the top of her game with this simple, yet elegant set. There are undeniable prop touches that create resonance with the era — differing quills (in jail and in her writing room), the appealing floppy leather bound writing book, the clay pipe. Overall, the set sets the tone — the lightness of color, pastel touches, simple columns that are temple-like and make some very funny moments seem almost sacred.

There ’tis!

MTC offers a charming, funny, farcical look at a very precious history (herstory) and a relevancy that, in these times in particular, may have meaning for us all.

Book seats for the coming weeks. It’s so good it may have sold-out houses, through May 28.

For tix, Call (707) 937-4477

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THE REAL SARAS singing group will perform at the Greenwood Ridge Tasting Room on Friday, June 2 from 7-10pm. $10 cover. Local food or purchase from Mendocino Heritage Pork Col. Local wines available from Greenwood Ridge Vineyards.

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ASSUMING the meeting will lead to the preservation of the fine murals at the Ukiah Fairgrounds, the fair's board of directors is having second thoughts about painting them over. Mendocino County's cultural legacy being as skimpy as it is, the artifacts we do have should be treasured, not blithely destroyed by temporary officeholders who can't appreciate them. A Ukiah man, William French, has led the charge to save the murals, and all praise to him.

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SMART train to Larkspur ferry, which also will require a bus connection, appears just around the corner.

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by James Kunstler

A most curious feature in the current low state of American politics is the delusional thinking at both ends of the political spectrum. Both factions have gone off the rails mentally, and the parties they represent race toward oblivion like Thelma and Louise in their beater car. More ominously, there are no new factions with a grip on reality even beginning to form anywhere in the background — as in the 1850s when the Whigs foundered and the party of Lincoln segued into power.

To see the Democrats go on about “Russian collusion” you would think we were watching a rerun of the John Birch Society in its heyday. Americans who have done business in Russia as private citizens are being persecuted as though they were trading with the enemy in wartime. Newsflash: we are not at war with Russia, which, by the way, is no longer the Soviet Union. It is one of many European countries that Americans are entitled to do business in — even in the case of General Mike Flynn accepting a $20,000 speaking fee from the RT news company. Has anyone noticed that Ben Bernanke routinely takes $200,000-plus speaking fees in many foreign countries whose interests are not identical to ours and no one is persecuting him?

Likewise, the insane idea that it is malfeasant for high public officials to speak to Russian officials, or for the president to share sensitive strategic information with them, especially about genuine mutual enemies such as the various Islamic jihad armies. Since when is that beyond the pale? Well, since January of this year when the Democrat Party ordained that members of the Trump transition team were forbidden to speak to Russian diplomats at the highest level. Do you suppose that, in the hothouse of Washington, incoming foreign policy officers of Obama’s government had no conversations with foreign diplomats between the election of 2008 and Obama’s inauguration? The idea is laughable.

Even more disturbing to me personally, as someone who registered as a Democrat back in 1972, are the disgraceful and dangerous ideas emanating from the university world, which is universally dominated by the Left. For example, the recent movement on several campuses to re-segregate student housing by race — in the name of “diversity and inclusion.” This is a species of doublethink that would make George Orwell gasp, and I have yet to hear of a college president or dean who dares to object. The sanctioning of this deranged hypocrisy is shaping a generation that could easily turn into political monsters when they eventually come into power — and that coming-to-power may coincide with much more desperate economic conditions on the road ahead.

Not long ago, the Dem-Progs’ mouthpiece The New York Times ran a front-page story (a video, actually, on their Web edition) titled A Gender Fluid Mother’s Day, featuring a man pretending to be a woman reading to children. Notice that The Times’ official link actually says “mothers-day-gender-drag-queen-story-hour.” I didn’t make this up. It’s part of the newspaper’s long campaign to erase the boundary between the sordid and the normative, and to ram it down the public’s throat as good medicine. Doesn’t the newspaper of record have better things to devote its front page to? Are there not other issues of public life more urgent than valorizing drag queens? And to what end are they campaigning for this? A utopian extinction of sexual categories?

The party of the right, the Republicans, have made themselves hostages to the marginal personality of Donald Trump, who prevailed over a cast of Republican empty suits in the pathetic and appalling primary contests of last spring. The Republican party has not demonstrated that it has the dimmest idea what is going on “out there” in the very flyover districts its minions and flunkies pretend to represent, or that they believe in anything not cynically calculated to bamboozle the economically immiserated classes left behind by their deliberate asset-stripping approach to the public interest. Since the very get-go of Trumptopia, it appears that the Golden Golem of Greatness will finally sink the Republican Party — or perhaps just drown it in Grover Norquist’s famous bathtub.

My own guess is that in last-ditch desperation, the Republicans will not just abandon the president but actively join his adversaries on the other side to drive him out of the White House. And then, rightly, wrongly, or foolishly, you will see the immiserated former working class actually take up arms against the government for toppling their hero, and that will be the end of the fake faux-financialized economy that ought to be the real news you’re not reading about in The New York Times.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page:

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Party like it's 999. (was Re: for your consideration)

Daney Dawson Wrote:

"When it comes to EMF issues, one of the most frequently heard phrases is "There is no evidence to support EMFs having health effects" or simply, "There is no conclusive evidence." This is completely wrong; there is an enormous body of evidence out there, but public and even academic awareness seems to be very poor. Therefore, we will be presenting a list of papers and odds ratios which either show serious effects or are considered important papers on the subject which we have collected over the years. This page will be updated regularly."

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Marco here, Daney.

I just read elsewhere: "Dave Witlock has not taken a shower in over twelve years because, he says, 'No one did clinical trials on people taking showers every day. So what’s the basis for assuming that that is a healthy practice?'” He's right. In fact, there's scientific and historical evidence going back thousands of years to show how deadly water can be. Tens of millions of people have drowned in its liquid form, or were horribly burned by its gaseous form, or were hit over the head by or impaled on its solid form. Water, Jesus, scary. And soap is toxic in any amount. If you can smell a thing, that's molecules of the substance entering the inside of your head and interacting with your blood. And if you wash your hands with soap and then touch food, it's getting into you that way, too. And there's dish soap, and saddle soap, and special expensive handmade especially smelly aromatherapy soap. It's crazy how permeated our lives are with water and soap, which is made of fat. Our very bodies are mostly water and fat already. The magnificent human brain is nearly all fat.

Nonetheless, unless something goes wrong with the plumbing I take a shower every day, or every other day, anyway, always with soap, and I change into clean underclothes in case I get hit by a car and have to go to the hospital, or maybe I might meet somebody who it'd be good if they had a high opinion of me and I wouldn't want them to wrinkle their nose and think I just slept in my work clothes and never took them off. You pick what to care about, and weigh the relative benefits, and go forward. I just saw the episode of The Dresden Files where a man miles from the sea was killed by a demonic spell that filled his lungs with seawater. I just choose not to live in fear of extremely unlikely, however scary-sounding, things like that. And next month when the new genetically modified bright pink pineapple comes out, I'm going to try that. It sounds interesting.

Speaking of which, I'll be in Fort Bragg for the show tonight. It's my 999th weekly Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show, and consider this a general invitation: I hope you tune in and get a kick out of it. You can come in and and play your musical instrument, too, if you want to, or talk about your project. You're very welcome any time tonight after 9pm. Just stride confidently into the KNYO storefront, 325 N. Franklin, next to the Tip Top bar. (Open the door first.) And head for the lighted room in back and get my attention away from whatever it looks like I'm doing. If someone else is there with me, or I'm on the phone, no problem, we'll figure it out. There's a couch, and sometimes there's even a popcorn machine.

Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio. Every Friday night 9pm to about 4am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP in or near Fort Bragg, including midnight to 3am on 105.1fm KMEC-LP in or near Ukiah. Or anywhere, really, via or

Marco McClean

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Get your Waffle On at the Mendo Street Fair Tomorrow

Time to Waffle up Mendocino.

Scully Power Waffles

Launching 05.27.2017

Kasten and Little Lake.


10.00 am.

Be there.


Black tie optional.

— Andrew Scully

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 26, 2017

Garcia, Hernandez-Sutherland, Logsdon, Magana

MARIA GARCIA, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

MIGUEL HERNANEZ-SUTHERLAND, Willits. Vehicle theft, vandalism.

BRADLEY LOGSDON, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, suspended license.

CARLOS MAGANA, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, disobeying court order.

Maxwell, McGregor, McNamara, Nicks

MATTHEW MAXWELL, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, false imprisonment.

ROY MCGREGOR, Fort Bragg. Disturbing the peace.

DALE MCNAMARA, Santa Rosa. Failure to appear.

DAVID NICKS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, loitering, probation revocation.

Staser, Vivero, Whitley


FRANK VIVERO, Willits. Parole violation.

AARON WHITLEY, Eau Claire, Wisconsin/Willits. Drunk in public.

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A reasonable man might ask this reasonable question: How in god’s name do you lose an election to Donald Trump? The answer is simple, nominate somebody more hideous.

Republican empty suits? Other words that come to mind: farcical, lamentable, contemptible. That such pissants should actually contest the nomination is too awful to contemplate. SENATOR Cruz? Good grief, this guy should be in a personal injury practice or, at best, a Hollywood divorce lawyer. But a Senator?

And this isn’t even considering Trump, a bull-shitting con-man with three marriages, six bankruptcies, failures in a business that not even illiterate mafiosi could screw up. Imagine, with this garbage CV Trump won the primaries. But, Jesus H Christ, the Democrats spat out something worse. Hard to imagine, almost impossible to pull off, but the Democrats did it.

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by Christian Kiefer

Author Denis Johnson died of liver cancer Wednesday, May 24 at the age of 67. Johnson made a career of defying readers' expectations, writing fiction, poetry and reportage that was often as unsparing as it was unconventional.

"Denis was one of the great writers of his generation," said his publisher. "He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was."

“It was raining. Gigantic ferns leaned over us. The forest drifted down a hill. I could hear a creek rushing down among the rocks. And you, you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you.”

That’s the ending of Denis Johnson’s “Car-Crash While Hitchhiking.” I would stand on Anton Chekhov’s table and proclaim that short story is the finest ever written, a perfectly balanced piece of fine sculpture made out of the detritus of a postlapsarian world. But that was, after all, the literary world of the man who wrote the story collection “Jesus’ Son” — the landscape left to us after we got kicked out of Eden and had to make our way through the wreckage we had made. And yet there was often a sense in his writing that Johnson, who died May 25 at 67, could feel the grace and light shining through that wreckage and that he wanted to show us a way through to that grace and light.

I loved the man even though I didn’t know him for a particularly long and in most ways — perhaps important ways — I didn’t even know him well. Ours was a relationship based on the correspondence of two writers — a patient master and a fumbling apprentice. That I knew him at all had to do with the writing of my second novel, much of which takes place in north Idaho. Somehow I figured out that DJ lived up, and so I fired off an email to him through his agent, fully expecting to receive no response. And for a long long time — several months — that’s exactly what happened (or didn’t happen). Then an email appeared from “DJ” apologizing for the delay — due, as it turned out, from having contracted some kind of terrifying illness when in the Congo researching the book that would become “The Laughing Monsters,” and then offering to help however he could.

It was kindness, pure and simple, for he was often at the Michener Center for Writers working with the manuscripts of novelists, and I offered him nothing but a constant drain on his time. And yet he gave me what time I asked for, patiently answering questions about Idaho and his own research for his Vietnam War novel “Tree of Smoke” (which won the National Book Award in 2007), and being, in general, exactly the guy you’d hope he would be: kind, patient, responsive, polite, wonderful. He also wrote several poetry collections, as well as plays, and his generosity showed in his collaborations with San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts and its resident theater company, Campo Santo.

Ah, and another memory: this of reading “Train Dreams” out loud, in its entirety, to Pam Houston as Pam drove us over the spine of the Rockies one dark summer night. How can that voice be gone from the earth? How is it that such a voice ever graced this planet at all?

I’d been thinking about him this week as a friend and fellow novelist had finished reading “The Laughing Monsters” and we’d been discussing it some. I see now from my email that I’d not heard from DJ since May of last year, when he told me — in response to the news that my father was undergoing chemotherapy — that he’d had two-thirds of his liver removed the previous December. “Chopping out the cancer that developed from Hepatitis C,” he’d written. “Cancer and hepatitis both gone now. Getting a little writing done.”

Thank you for coming down here among us ridiculous people, my friend. We’re in that rain with you, under those gigantic ferns, and we always will be. The creek rushes among the rocks. The forest drifts down its hill. We really didn’t expect you to help us any, but you did nonetheless.

(Christian Kiefer is the author of the novel “The Animals” and the novella “One Day Soon Time Will Have No Place Left to Hide.” He lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada with his family.)

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The important thing about home schooling isn't getting away from school. It's getting back into your home. 

by Denis Johnson

I really do look around at times with a little surge of bewilderment, even mild panic, at finding myself here in the middle of the dropout’s dream, and it’s teaching the kids at home that makes it all happen. Right at this moment, while other parents are starting the day’s work and other kids the first week of school, I’m in my ragged bathrobe drinking tea and writing these very notes, and lounging on one couch while my daughter Lana, wrapped in an afghan on another, reads a French-Indian War novel called “Flame-Colored Taffeta” and my wife Cindy and son Dan play chess … and when, in the interest of being specific for this article, I wonder out loud what time it is, nobody seems to know.

It’s hard to recall the moment just yesterday when Dan’s struggle against mathematics, waged with subtle strength, with a deadpan face and a deft, not quite deliberate obtuseness, made me feel like killing him. The tears and terrors are fewer now than when we started this experiment, but it’s still hard to imagine a public school teacher exciting this kind of stubborn and personal resistance over mere lessons — to rules and bossing, yes — but to decimal points? The laws of science feel less important when it’s just Mom delivering them in the living room. Even after three years, there’s still something not quite right about it: She doesn’t bring the weight of a massive modern public institution to bear on the process of conveying that it’s time to review math. (Most of Dan’s disgust yesterday was with the repetition, the reviewing. Just as I once did in the soul-stifling, uninspiring government schools, he wants to provide the answer, forget the lesson and move on.)

As parents with home-based occupations, we’d always had at least a little time for at least a fumbling interest in the kids’ schooling. First we were in the volunteer phase down at the school — Cindy was anyway, heading over there twice a week to help out. I’d seen plenty of school in my life and didn’t go around those places any more. Cindy’s volunteer period ended when we moved for a few months to Iowa City, where we’d been told we’d find “the second-best schools in the country,” and she found it was just a lot of keeping quiet and forming two lines, and decided that maybe the kids had to go school, but she didn’t.

We were back in our country-style North Idaho school district hardly a month before, my hands trembling with rage, I was firing off letters to the local papers:

My family and I just read about the sweep-search of the Sandpoint Middle School. Cops and dogs locked the children down for three hours while they combed through lockers and belongings. They found a pistol and a bag of marijuana, not a big haul, but the principal was satisfied that he’d managed to “send a message.” Wow! That’s some message! My kids go to Mt. Hall Elementary about 50 miles north, and they heard it all the way up here. A couple of questions: What language is that message in, exactly? And one my son Daniel asked: “How come they didn’t just use the intercom?”

We’d been wondering about alternatives anyhow, if only because the bus stop was five miles from our house, and the school was 13 miles from the bus stop. We’d asked around vaguely about home schooling — who do you apply to for permission to do that? It turned out that Idaho is one of several states where education isn’t compulsory. Hey, you don’t even have to Just Say No. All you do is quit putting the kids on the bus.

Then the canine squad searched the local high school, and found a joint in a car. Would they get around to searching the grade school our kids attended? No. But a police sergeant brought a dog around and introduced him to all the kids. And you can bet there wasn’t any discussion of the Fourth Amendment with the pup, Fido, Sparky, I really didn’t care what his name was. I just didn’t want him included in my children’s education. I didn’t want them taught to sit still for suspicionless searches.

I wrote more letters to the local editors, actually the same letter in many moods — funny-sarcastic, terrified-hysterical, insane-obscene — then we took the kids out of school.

Did we have any doubts? Nothing but doubts. I’d taught elementary school for a year in my 20s, but in addition to getting some classroom experience that wouldn’t apply in this situation, I’d only proved to myself unassailably that I wasn’t qualified to teach children anything. Daniel and Lana were willing and curious, but a little confused. Cindy didn’t know where to start either, so we agreed to start anywhere.

And we did. We started getting up later and hanging around together and Cindy and I tried to teach Lana and Daniel, formerly of the third and fourth grades, what the professionals were teaching over at Mt. Hall Elementary. We began by spending about three hours at it every weekday, using a first- through eighth-grade mail-order curriculum from the Calvert School, a correspondence outfit that’s been in business for a century. I didn’t like it any better than real school, and pretty soon I wasn’t helping much. In fact before long it began to seem to me not only possible but maybe even desirable and perhaps even wonderful that our children would develop into ignorant savages.

To anybody curious about the essentials of home schooling, I’d say that’s the key attitude: a willingness to fail utterly at doing what the schools do. Because what the schools do is stop the children from doing what the children can do.

Within a year, none of us really cared any more what the professionals were teaching. What we’ve derived in the way of a system continues to evolve, but I’ve just conducted a survey among the participants, and here’s how things presently stand:

Everybody has to be up by 8 a.m. on weekdays, and sometime before lunch the kids have to do their chores (laundry, dishes, dog food) and complete one lesson each from the Saxon Math curriculum. The kids presently don’t seem to know how many Calvert School grammar lessons they’re expected to do per week. Two? Three? It’s three, actually, but the irregularity makes it easy to skate. Once a month or so I put them to work writing an essay, using examples from a college textbook, the only thing handy. Sometimes they finish, and sometimes I forget I ever assigned it. Three days a week we drive to town for singing lessons, dancing lessons, tae kwon do. In the winter they go skiing every Friday.

On their own, Daniel and Lana each read four or five books a week, mostly fiction, although they’ve both picked up enough Greek and Roman mythology and American history to make me feel ignorant. Lana wrote a weekly newsletter for a year or so and volunteered at a private dog shelter until it closed. They both use the Internet a lot, Daniel searching for free games and Lana corresponding with key-pals and looking for bargain books she never actually buys.

What about friends their own age? The kids have to work at their friendships now, using the phone and mail and arranging visits. They don’t see their comrades every day. Some days they don’t like that, most days they don’t seem bothered. But the question of friendships touches on a larger and vaguer question. Just as people used to ask me how much my Great Dane weighed and how much he ate, people invariably ask about home schooling — “How will the kids be socialized?” When in turn I ask what it means to be socialized the answers vary wildly, but everybody seems to agree that there’s no better way to get it done to you than to be tossed into a kind of semi-prison environment with a whole lot of other persons born the same year you were.

I question that now. After three years learning at home, Daniel and Lana seem sociable in a way I wouldn’t have hoped for. They don’t convey the impression I usually get from kids, and must have given to my own elders, that they’re pretending, wishing — as I certainly did — that grown-ups didn’t exist. They live in the same world we, their parents, live in. They look us in the eye. We’re counted among their friends.

When I asked the kids this morning what they like about home schooling, they said “incredible freedom” and “lots of leisure.” Lana mentioned being able to spend time with me and Cindy. What about the drawbacks? — “Can’t see our friends every day.” “People act like we’re odd.” “They make me feel alienated.” “People always say, ‘So! When are you going back to school?'” This last is something I often notice too — the expectation that every experiment must end.

I don’t want it to. It’s changed all of us, and speaking just for myself, I’d be hard put even to find the language to talk across the gap to the person I was before.

Like somebody who’s finally through with a hopeless marriage after far, far too long, I get a little sideways when I talk about it, and I’m not sure my perceptions of the institution can be altogether trusted. But I’m finding it takes a long time to get loose of school, and it’s time well spent.

We started out anxious about whether we could match what the schools give. We ended up with totally new heads — wanting to match nothing, none of it, desiring only to wallow in this tremendous relief at no longer having to participate. Man! — it’s like the Church in the 14th century. And we’ve gone pagan.

From a place on the sidelines, out of the fray, I think I’m starting to see School for what it is: unbelievably deep-rooted, so all-pervading as to be beyond our powers to take it in, and almost 100 percent bogus.

School! A lot of my confusion as a human being would have cleared right up if I’d met just one person, among my educators, who didn’t act surprised that I hated it, and them.

Daniel and Lana always got along fine in school, as a matter of fact, and really didn’t mind it very much. Of course, I think this is a much better way for them to live, and they think so too, otherwise we’d send them back. But maybe I’m the one who’s getting the most out of this arrangement. I feel like I’m finally getting shed of the classroom. I’m the one who needed to get away. The most important thing about home schooling is that it isn’t School at all. It’s Home. Well into middle age and happier than ever in the world, I’m finding that this is what I needed to close up the last really big gash in my past — to belong to a family that has nothing to do with School, that lives apart from School, safe and protected from School.

(Denis Johnson is the author of a collection of short stories, "Jesus' Son," and five novels, including "Angels," "Fiskadoro" and his latest, "Already Dead: A California Gothic." His last piece for Salon, "Jungle Bells, Jungle Bells," was about a monsoon-plagued Boy Scout campout in the Philippines.)

* * *


This week we speak to the lead football scout for Bleacher Report, former football scribe at Sports Illustrated, Doug Farrar. We talk about his extensive scouting of Colin Kaepernick as well as how a blackballing works in the NFL.

We also have an extended clap-back at Stephen A. Smith for his ugly remarks about Michael Bennett -- plus, Bennett's response. Finally, I have some choice words about Robert Mueller's appointment to investigate Donald Trump, by looking at his time overseeing the investigation of the NFL.

Also: I'm going to be on this trip to Cuba in October, leading a tour with the Nation Magazine. See below! If interested in being a part of it, there is information!

In struggle and sports, Dave Z.

* * *

MORE UNNERVING is the presence in the Cabinet-level agencies of a seemingly new position, "senior White House adviser."

Some Hill sources believe these new officials are reporting directly to Steve Bannon, who is fast achieving mythical status as the empire's supreme villain. On the surface, Bannon is just another vicious ex-hippie of the David Horowitz/Michael Savage school, a former Grateful Dead fan who overswung the other way to embrace a Nazistic "culture first" alt-right movement. Everyone from Time magazine (which called him "the great manipulator") to The New York Times (which called him a "de facto president") is rushing to make him into a superempowered henchman of the extreme right, a new Roy Cohn – fitting, since Cohn himself was one of Trump's first mentors. But whether he's Cohn or just a fourth-rate imitator with a fat neck is still unclear.

— Matt Taibbi

* * *


by Andre Breton

In the scrolls of history mummified ibis

One step for nothing as one claws up the sails mummified ibis

What goes out by one wing comes in again by the other mummified ibis

If the development of the child allows him to free himself from the spectre of dismemberment of the body’s location mummified ibis

It will be too late to put an end to the partitioning of the soul mummified ibis

And by you alone on all its facets mummified ibis

With everything that no longer is or waits to be I regain the lost oneness mummified ibis

Mummified ibis of no choice through what comes to me

Mummified ibis that wants that everything I can know contribute to me without any distinction

Mummified ibis that makes me equally tributary of evil and good

Mummified ibis of fate drop by drop where homeopathy has its say

Mummified ibis of quantity becoming in the shadows quality

Mummified ibis of combustion that leaves in every cinder a red spot

Mummified ibis of perfection that calls for the ceaseless fusion of imperfect creatures

* * *


by Jeffrey St. Clair

The doorbell rang on a dreary afternoon in late February. On the porch, huddling against a lashing Oregon rain, stood my friend Javier (not his real name). “Something has happened, Jeffrey, and maybe you can help,” he said. “We don’t know what to do.”

I’ve known Javier for five years. He and his family live across the river in King City, where he runs a small landscaping business. Javier is from Oaxaca, Mexico. He came to Oregon in 1992 as a touring musician, playing keyboards and guitar in a salsa band. He is now married and has two teenage boys, both born in Oregon. Javier is not a US citizen. He doesn’t have a green card.

The story Javier tells is harrowing. Earlier in the day, two vans carrying migrant workers bound for the fields of the Willamette Valley were pulled over by four black SUVs outside of the small town of Woodburn. ICE officers, dressed in black military gear, ordered all of the passengers out of the vans at gunpoint. The men and women were ordered to lay facedown on the ground. Each of them were then cuffed and searched. Their wallets taken and examined. One by one, the workers were told to stand. Then their photographs were taken on iPads. They were asked their names, date of birth, place of birth and whether they were US citizens. Those who said no were asked to show their green cards and work visas.

After thirty minutes of interrogation, the ICE officers released about half of the workers and told them they were free to go. However, eleven men were placed under arrest, placed in ICE SUVs and taken away.

“Jeffrey, four of these men go to our church,” Javier told me, his voice quavering. “I know them. These are good men. None of them have ever been in trouble before. All of them have kids here and family that depend on them.”

Javier told me that most of the workers had immigrated to the U.S. in the last few years. They came not from Mexico, but from Guatemala and Honduras. “Things are bad there, very bad,” he said. “They were fleeing violence that made it impossible to live there.”

The men worked in flower fields, planting and harvesting tulips, daffodils, irises and dahlias in the rich alluvial soils of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Arduous, back-breaking labor done in miserable conditions for miserly wages and no benefits.

“No one knows where they are or why they were taken. They aren’t criminals. They are hard workers. The families are scared. We don’t know what to do.”

I didn’t know what to do either. In fact, I felt as helpless at that moment as Javier. Except I wasn’t trapped in his impossible, even Kafkaesque predicament. Javier couldn’t inquire about the fate of his friends without placing himself and his family in extreme jeopardy.

I gave Javier the phone numbers of two Oregon lawyers who specialize in immigration cases and told him to call Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, the fearless immigration rights group based in Woodburn. Then I called ICE.

The ICE field office in Portland confirmed that arrests had been made in Woodburn earlier in the day. The agent I spoke to described the raid as a “targeted enforcement operation.” She told me that the ICE officers had warrants for two men who had prior arrests on their records. If there were only two warrants, I asked, why were 11 people detained? She refused to answer that question. I then asked about the detention of Javier’s four friends, none of whom had criminal records. She said that most of the detained men had been transferred to an ICE detention jail in Tacoma, Washington, nearly 200 miles north on I-5. The Northwest Detention Center is a notorious private prison run for ICE by the GEO Group, formerly known as Whackenhut, where inmates have lingered for years without hearings and others have been viciously been by guards in retaliation for complaining about the horrid conditions in the facility.

I found out later that the ICE raid had missed its targets, two Mexican men with drug trafficking convictions. Sonia Sanchez, an immigration rights lawyer I talked to, said that the warrants were probably used as a pretext to stop any vehicle thought to contain fieldworkers in the valley. “They don’t need much of an excuse to stop you or arrest you,” Sanchez said. It later emerged that only three of the men detained in the Woodburn raid had any criminal record: one had committed a domestic battery, two others had been cited for drunk driving.

By the next afternoon, I had tracked Javier’s friends to the Northwest Detention Center and received their case numbers. As Javier had told me, none of the men had any arrests or convictions on their records. Despite Trump’s repeated claim that the ICE raids sweeping the country are only targeting those with criminal rap-sheets, 8 of the 11 men seized by ICE in Woodburn were cited only for illegal entry into the United States. They now face deportation back to Guatemala and Honduras, leaving their families in an agonizing limbo.

“How could this happen, Jeffrey?” Javier asked. “What did they do to deserve this?”

I had no answer then. I still don’t.

Roaming Charges

+ To Finland Station! A fascinating survey by Democratic pollster John Zogby reveals that Trump voters see themselves has having much more in common with Russia than China (39% to 17%), Saudi Arabia (33% vs. 18%) or Egypt (32% vs. 26%). The only bad news for Trump himself is that his own supporters think Mexico is a better ally for the US than Russia by 40 to 28 percent margin.

+ Rand Paul is attempting to force a senate vote on Trump’s big weapons deal to the Saudi head-choppers. How many Democrats will join him?

+ Trump, the non-interventionist, has killed 225 civilians in Syria in the last month, a new record. It will go higher.

+ On the very same day Trump whined that he was the victim of the biggest “witch hunt” in US history, his Saudi hosts arrested two women for … WITCHCRAFT.

+ The Atlantic magazine, now under the helm of Iraq war fabulist Jeffrey Goldberg, celebrates the sale of weapons to Saudi head-choppers as a progressive jobs program and encourages more of the same.

+ Leave it to the FBI to target Jared Kushner for backdoor meetings with Sergey Kislyak and mysterious interactions with the CEO of a Russian bank , while letting the little slumlord skate on his predatory treatment of the poor tenants in his housing projects…

+ The new number two of the Democratic Party in Florida is a woman named Sally Boynton Brown, who is working under the new party chair Stephen Bittel, a billionaire real estate developer and owner of a dredging company. In her first meeting with party activists, Ms. Brown pretty much demonstrated why the Democrats can kiss Florida goodbye in 2018 and 2020.

As reported in the Miami New Times, Brown told the aghast activists that the party should abandon issue-oriented politics because most of the voters who issues, such as single-payer health care, don’t bother to vote anyway and when they do tend to vote on “emotions” not reasons. “This is not going to be popular, but this is my belief of the time and place we’re in now: I believe that we’re in a place where it’s very hard to get voters excited about ‘issues,’ the type of voters that are not voting,” Brown said.

Brown also advised the party stalwarts that the Democrats should hotly pursue corporate money from big time polluters such as Florida Power and Light. “It’s not so much about the money controlling the conversation; it’s about the people controlling the conversation,” Brown pontificated. “And right now, unfortunately, we live in a system where you have to have money to work the system.”

It’s not just Trump voters the new Democrats view as being deplorables, it’s their own base!

+ You can take the monuments out of the Confederacy, but you can’t take the Confederacy out this monumental menace to life, liberty and the pursuit of highness….I mean happiness.

+ A really flimsy story in the Washington Post postulates that Big Jim Comey was suckered by an email allegedly fabricated by Russian tricksters into seizing control of the Hillary Clinton email investigation last summer. If true, it’s yet more proof that Comey should have been canned for incompetence. Maybe the Russians are also responsible for all of the wrongful convictions based on the manufactured evidence at FBI crime lab …

+ The night before the congressional election in the Big Sky state between the intemperate Trumpite Greg Gianforte and the Singing Cowboy Rob Quist a skirmish erupted in Bozeman between Gianforte and Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, who was trying unsuccessfully to get Gianforte to comment on the CBO’s scoring of the GOP’s so-called health care bill. Here’s a transcript of what transpired when Gianforte snapped and attacked the reporter:

Ben Jacobs: …the CBO score. Because, you know, you were waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill and it just came out…Gianforte: Yeah, we’ll talk to you about that later.Jacobs: Yeah, but there’s not going to be time. I’m just curious—

Gianforte: Okay, speak with Shane, please.

[rumbling, crash, louder crash, more rumbling]

Gianforte: I’m sick and tired of you guys!

Jacobs: Jesus chri—!

Gianforte: The last guy that came in here, you did the same thing! Get the hell out of here!

Jacobs: Jesus!

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing! You with The Guardian?

Jacobs: Yes! And you just broke my glasses.Gianforte: The last guy did the same damn thing.

Jacobs: You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here.

Jacobs: You’d like me to get the hell out of here, I’d also like to call the police. Can I get you guys’ names?

Unidentified third man: Hey, you gotta leave.

Jacobs: He just body-slammed me.

Unidentified third man: You gotta leave.

When the Gallatin County sheriffs arrived, reporters from Fox Newsbacked up Jacobs’s account of the scuffle. Gianforte was later charged with assault. In the end, Gianforte’s felonious pugilism didn’t alter the outcome of the race, as he corralled about 50 percent of the vote.

If representing Montana in Congress doesn’t prove to be Greg G.’s forte, I’m sure Linda (WWF) McMahon will be happy to give him a post in the Small Business Administration.

+ A gas station attendant in Butte, Montana, was pestered by an NBC reporter about the news that GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte had “body slammed” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. “Sounds like my kind of politician,” she quipped, wryly.

I’m sure that the good people of Montana, many of whom I know well, are a little tired of the international press corps descending on their state for the first time since Caruso sang at the Opera House in Butte asking condescending questions of the “natives” like anthropologists in the dark forests of Sarawak.

At least Gianforte had the, uh, fortitude to commit assault-on-journalist by himself, instead of sending in one of his goons the way Trump does. That’s the difference between Montana & NYC and may indicate that Gianforte won’t be a solid Trump vote in House….

+ There’s something a little bit wimpish about Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs calling the police after his tussle with Gianforte at a GOP BBQ in Bozeman. All he had to do was write the incident up. Not sure Jacobs would have lasted long reporting on death squads in El Salvador or even the much less hazardous assignment of dodging concussion grenades and “rubber” bullets on the streets of Seattle for four days during the WTO.

That said, I wish someone would have body slammed Judith Miller back in 2001/2. I suppose someone in the Bush White House wanted to body slam Miller too, but not in the Montana variation….

+ In 1981, West Virginia lawyer John Rogers, a Harvard graduate, was challenging Senator Robert Byrd in the Democratic Primary. During a contentious press conference, Rogers snapped at persistent questioning from a television reporter and slugged him in face, decking the journalist and leaving him with a black eye. A largely unrepentant Rogers explained his political pugilism this way to the Washington Post: “Here was the dilemma. Am I going to spend five minutes on TV explaining to this guy that I’m not nuts? Then I would look like Nixon saying, ‘I am not a crook.’ I guess in retrospect I proved I was nuts. I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do. I was never much of a fighter, but my best punch was a sucker punch.”

+ Trump’s Navy is conducting operations in disputed waters in the South China Sea. So much for that China “Reset”….

+ Old GOP health care bill would kick 24 million poor people off their insurance plans. New health care bill would only kick 23 million poor people off of their insurance plans. It’s the return of Compassionate Conservatism!

+ Atmospheric CO2 levels since the last Ice Age…

+ Yes, They Can! 25 obsequious Democrats voted for the Let’s Increase Cancer By Rolling Back Pesticide Restrictions Bill.

+ I wonder if Trump had the guts to inquire of the Hippie Pope about how the Church dealt with the likes of Galileo and Giordano Bruno and other mouthy scientist types?

+ The sadistic performance artist formerly known as Alex Jones trotted out a new routine this week. Shortly after the Manchester bombing, Jones snarled: “And less than 24 hours after President Trump finishes that speech, a big bomb goes off at a pop star’s rock concert bombing a bunch of liberal trendies. The same people, god love ’em, on average who are promoting open borders, bringing Islamists in.”

Most of Jones’s conspiracy tales only make sense after a few tokes of crystal meth. My friend Dick Reavis, a longtime CounterPuncher and an excellent reporter, told me this story about Jones and his gang. “A few years after the blaze at Mt. Carmel, Jones claimed that one of his followers found the incendiary device that started that fire. Because my book, the Ashes of Waco, cast doubt on the FBI version of events, Jones and his crew trusted me. They lent me the device that they had found. It was charred but I was able to dismantle it and what I saw resembled, not an incendiary grenade, but a battery. I found a number on an inner part and called EverReady. The device was a battery!”

+ Since it gained statehood, Utah has sold off more than 54 percent of its state-owned public lands.

+ The barbaric sheriff of Milwaukee County, David Clarke, who is supposedly on his way to a new post at Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, apparently plagiarized 47 different passages in his Master Thesis “Making U.S. Security and Privacy Rights Compatible” at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In Clarke’s defense, he was merely following the Doris Kearns Goodwinstylesheet….

+ This week the New York Times ran a ludicrous piece of revisionism by Mark Moyar under the title “Was Vietnam Winnable?” Of course, the Vietnam War was winnable–by the North Vietnamese, as Ho Chi Minh and General Giap decisively demonstrated.

+ A few days after the appalling terrorist attack in Manchester, a crowd gathered for a memorial outside of the arena where the blast occurred and soon erupted spontaneously into a version of Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” If a similar attack had happened in Tulsa, the crowd would have probably started singing some horrid chorus of Toby Keith revenge doggerel.

+ The Synths Behind the Curtain…an Oral History of Electronic Music in East Germany.

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Heart of the Congos (40th Anniversary Edition) by The Congos

Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse by Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio

La Saboteuse by Yazz Ahmed

Truth, Liberty & Soul: Live in NYC by Jaco Pastorius

El Hombre Sin Sombra by Mikel Erentxun

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River by David Owen

Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture by Chip Colwell

The Death Penalty by Jacques Derrida

Splitting the Atom

PG Wodehouse: “I was reading in the paper the other day about those birds who are trying to split the atom, the nub being that they haven’t the foggiest as to what will happen if they do. It may be all right. On the other hand, it may not be all right. And pretty silly a chap would feel, no doubt, if, having split the atom, he suddenly found the house going up in smoke and himself torn limb from limb.”

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: or on Twitter @JSCCounterPunch




  1. heilig May 27, 2017

    Denis Johnson’s “Already Dead” is set on the Mendo coast, where he lived for a time. Any of his books are worth a read. R.I.P.

    • Bill Pilgrim May 27, 2017

      Yes. Let us now praise men like Johson who bequeath a measure of beauty that will remain.

      And let us not praise men like Brzezinzki, who passed away last night; the dark Godfather of al-Queda whose wicked grand strategy is greatly responsible for the ongoing chaos, destruction and death in several areas of the world.
      May he lie in state…seven feet below an Afghani outhouse.

  2. Lazarus May 27, 2017

    Thanks for the remembrance of Norman Vroman. I knew him during his years in Willits. He owned a ranch north of town, hired local guys to work for him, I liked him. You’d of never guessed he was once a judge in those days…He never forgot a friend. I was leaving the court house after jury duty, he saw me, ask me to his office for a chat, I never expected that. He did have his haters though, the law and order at any cost crowd in particular, RIP Norman…
    As always,

  3. George Hollister May 27, 2017

    Good piece on NORM VROMAN.

  4. Jim Updegraff May 27, 2017

    Giants: ugh! Atlanta took the Giants 2-0 Cain pitched who took the loss pitched a good game – 2 runs of which only one was earned. The Giants bats went silent – no runs and only 4 hits.
    The A’s whipped the Yankees (and Tanaka) 4-1. Manaea went 7 innings no runs and 4 hits. a’s batters did the job.

    • George Hollister May 27, 2017

      SF is second from the bottom in total runs in MLB for the season, just ahead of KC. Hard to believe these two teams played each other in the World Series just a few years ago. Hard to believe both are recent WS champions. Oh well, when was the last time the NY Yankees had a good team? They’re supposed to be good every year.

      • Bruce Anderson May 27, 2017

        Trade Belt for a starting pitcher, any starting pitcher. His throw from left field yesterday, short left at that, was pathetic. Jeez, even at my age I woulda had the guy at the plate!

  5. Harvey Reading May 27, 2017


    So true. And another thing. I don’t see those democwapic whiners and blamers of their problems on the Russians doing anything to rid the country of the electoral college, which, like the senate, is nothing even resembling this democracy notion we hear bandied about so much from the nooze media and gasbag politicians (including a now-former prez, name of Obama).

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