- Enforcing Legalization
- Touring Cubs
- Lost Coast Hiking
- 900 Suicides
- Zell Family Portrait
- Protest Exhibition
- Little Dog
- Cannabis Crimes
- Lake Issues
- Big Sur
- Yesterday's Catch
- Homeless Distinction
- Decadent Democrats
- Dylan Thomas
- The Empty Hive
MENDO POT ORDINANCE ENFORCEMENT:
A Nod Is Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse
by Jim Shields
Two weeks ago, we ran a story on Calaveras County’s current marijuana dilemma.
Calaveras, which like Mendocino County is rural, and not heavily populated, has recently legalized ganja leading to an explosion of mega-grows mostly from an invasion of outsiders. As the story pointed out, “Calaveras is an economically depressed county of 45,000 residents, a former mining and timber region, had an established pot growing tradition. And last year, after the devastating Butte Fire scorched vast areas of the county, destroying 860 houses, its Board of Supervisors plotted a comeback by seeking to monetize the thriving local marijuana culture by taxing and licensing for-profit cultivation. The pot explosion has been a challenge for local law enforcement. After the Butte Fire, illicit growers — mostly non-residents — parked battered trailer homes on burned out lots and planted pot farms, many siphoning water from streams and dumping pesticides. Calaveras, however, is poised to become a less pot-friendly place. The Board of Supervisors now is considering reversing course and banning all commercial marijuana farms, complaining that the county’s cannabis business experiment is bringing in unwanted outsiders, rogue growers and environmental degradation.”
Sounds a lot like some of the same things that have occurred here in our county. Is there a potential lesson to be learned from the Calaveras experience?
Clearly, unless the county begins to take action — as in enforcing its own ordinance, and the sooner the better — the small family pot farmer’s existence is at peril because they won’t be able to survive in a marketplace dominated by illegal mega-growers. In a sense, history will repeat itself when in the 1950s and 1960s Corporate Ag swallowed up the old family farms in the Midwest.
There were quite a few social media comments (sent along to me by my daughter) on last week’s column regarding the unchecked proliferation of mega grows and the passive ineffectualness of the County’s enforcement of its ordinance. I’ll share some of those postings with you.
I also talked to a handful of small business owners in the north county this past week. I asked them for their opinions on what’s been occurring with local legalization, and if they thought it could have any possible financial impact on their businesses. I agreed not to identify them or their businesses.
Social Media Postings
“This is right next door to my Aunt’s house and she is not happy. She's been living at her peaceful home for 30 years and now all this is placed right where she can see it from her front porch. The noise of the pumps, filters and fans are constant day and night. I get where the industry is going but come on, where is the respect of your neighbors? I don't understand how they are allowed to grow next to the creek that flows to Harwood Park and then into the Eel River.”
“Exactly. It's not fair at all! A quiet country lane now has a huge grow site right on the road. Kids aren't allowed to ride their bikes down the road anymore because of all that's going on. It's total disrespect for the people that have lived there for years! Thanks for sharing.”
“This guy gets away with anything!!”
“It sucks bro. Sorry to hear about this. My neighbors are doing the same thing. They don't give a f*** about anyone. Hope all is well. Let's hang soon.”
“Sad story. It's getting out of hand.”
“I believe they have also started a pad for a plant distribution shop. Right down the road as well is a huge greenhouse. They don't even live here anymore.”
“The same group has also tried to apply for a "general store" type of biz up Spy Rock. Also has caused a major eyesore well within 100 feet of the road and neighbors.”
“I miss the comfort of the black market … the good old days of fly overs and great prices, family love and outlaw atmosphere … it's going to keep getting worse …”
“Unfortunately being legal also means being available for all to grow. Small business and big business. I wish we could separate the two but this is how our society is currently set up. The current situation we find ourselves in is just a symptom of a larger sickness called capitalism. It's the US's bread and butter and our favorite excuse for terrible behavior.”
“I’m not a big supporter of marijuana but I’ve never really had a problem with what you’d call the little growers. In fact, some of them are my friends or we’re friendly to each other because our kids go to school together and play sports and socialize. So I understand the predicament that some of them are in right now. They’re kind of in a rock-and-a-hard place as far as becoming legal with everything. Then you have all the big-scale pot people who I have a real problem with. Most of them are real new here and have no roots or ties to Willits. They are out there in the hills growing jillions of plants and doing God knows what to the land and the creeks, but not much is being done to them to stop them from what they’re doing. It’s still against the law I believe to plant and grow on a huge scale like that, but they seem to have no fear of being raided. I would say the old growers pretty much have supported my business and others that I’m aware of too, but I don’t think I’ve ever got a dime from the ‘Mr. Bigs.’ If they knock the little guys out, I don’t think that’s going to be a good thing for any of the businesses here.”
“As far as my business is concerned, the future of it anyway, I don’t know where this whole thing (legalization) is going. It seems like things are actually worse than they were before. I don’t track ‘Oh, this is a marijuana dollar, and this is a regular dollar,’ but I know that a certain good percentage of those dollars come from growing marijuana. Once the timber industry went down, a lot of people who you would think would never grow pot, started doing it, just to survive up here. They’d lived here their whole lives and wanted to stay, and what other real options did they have but to do the same thing the hippies had been doing all those years. I can’t criticize them for doing that because I probably would have done the same thing in their shoes. I agree that these ass***** with their huge grows and those ugly greenhouses everywhere are the bad guys in the picture. They need to go because they are bad news. Totally destructive, totally anti-social, they’re actually criminals, so the powers that be, starting with the Sheriff, needs to totally clamp down on them. At some point you have to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and that’s it for them.”
“I honestly don’t know what effect any of these laws (legalization) are going to have on what I do. It could be a great thing or perhaps something a lot less. It’s too early to reach any kind of conclusion other than it appears to be pretty much chaos. I’m somewhat surprised that not many growers have applied for permits. But then again I’m not all that surprised because this is all new and a lot of times people are reluctant to change their way of life and how they make a living. Basically what is happening is that marijuana is now a business, a legal business. But one one problem is that you have people whose approach is to take an illegal approach when there is chaos in the legal process like we have here. The county is responsible for ending the chaos because they are the main ones who created it with way they went about writing the new marijuana rules. I know I don’t understand them, and I’m not alone.”
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These were all some pretty insightful observations, don’t you think?
Why is it that so many folks can see and understand what’s going on right now, but no one in the county seat sees a damn thing?
Reminds me of the old saying, “If you find a turtle sitting on top of a fencepost, you know he didn’t get there by himself.”
(Jim Shields is the editor and publisher of the Mendocino County Observer, and also manages the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM.)
AT THE CHANDELIER TREE OUTSIDE GARBERVILLE
THE LOST COAST TRAIL is highly recommended as the best semi-wilderness hike you can get in NorCal. I bring it up because acquaintances who have a couple of teenagers are thinking about doing it. I also bring it up because the guides I've read aren't clear about the either the dangers or the difficulties of both routes. And doing either of these hikes with kids is impossible unless the young 'uns not only really want to do it, but are in good enough shape to manage it. Ideally, to really, really enjoy the experience you should allot yourself three or four nights out. My Lost Coast hikes were forced marches with one night spent under the stars. Both were physically grueling but there's nothing like the human-free vistas of sheer cliffs rising from the sea to the forests.
HIKE ONE is straight down the beach. It the tides are right, you get to truck along ocean's edge on hard-packed sand. If you catch an incoming, well, does anyone enjoy making their way through a foot of sand for five or six miles at a stretch? There are lots of inviting places to camp, doubly inviting because they offer zero amenities. Both routes, you carry all the stuff you'll need, which requires planning if you take your time and sleep out three or four nights. (My knees are now steroid-dependent preventing me attempting the Lost Coast again, but if I could find a mute young person to pack food and drink, I might consider another go.)
HIKE TWO is an actual trail high in the King Range above the ocean. It's up and down the whole way, and stunning vistas the whole way. It's also about thirty miles to get to Usal from the trail head, while the beach slog is a little less than twenty. Both routes have plenty of spring water but it's prudent to carry one of those magic filters. Usal, incidentally, is kinda wild these days, with lots of undesirables who drive in from Highway One and aren't there for a nature experience. To get away from them is simply a matter of hiking a mile or so back up the trail. The debauchees don't go anywhere they can't drive to.
I've done it twice on both trails, one of which is not a trail but a straight slog down the beach from either Petrolia or the lost suburb of Shelter Cove. Starting from the Petrolia end at the mouth of the dying Mattole River is the wiser because walking north to south you have the wind at your back. The beach hike is very dangerous. If you haven't consulted the tide tables, well, you'll find yourself, as we did, skittering around sea boulders on an incoming tide to regain the beach to continue slogging south towards Shelter Cove.
THE TRAIL-TRAIL in the mountains is a tough trek but at least you won't have to worry about getting swept out to sea.
THE LOST COAST isn't lost anymore, never really was, but it's far enough from the pavement that you really have to want to be there, which means you can walk for miles without seeing anybody but your companions.
IT IS BEST ATTEMPTED when you are in good physical shape. Given the physical challenge plus the dangers of the waves, it is not a good hike for young children. All but the sturdiest of dogs will experience something between hardship and injury.
I can't recommend this trail for people who have never backpacked. If you are considering this for your first backpacking trip, you might be happier if you go for an easy overnighter somewhere safer first (i.e. no intertidal zone hiking, reserve the possibility of turning back). This gives you an opportunity to test your gear and make sure you've got everything you need. Most importantly it will let you see if you are physically and mentally prepared for the hardships of backpacking. The same applies for any friends you might bring along, especially if you're leading a group of inexperienced hikers. Nothing ruins a good backpacking trip like a hysterical hiking companion.
The old creaky knees—
This is not the best walk for people with knee or joint problems. Hiking poles can help you to avoid falls, strains and sprains on the unstable rocks. On this note, most people appreciate keeping their pack weight down due to the unstable walking surfaces. If you have the ability to go ultralight, this is the trip to do it.
A LETTER to the New Yorker makes an important distinction re Mendocino County's lead maniac, Jim Jones, objecting to this assertion by another writer: “Jones persuaded more than 900 people to commit suicide.”
"IN FACT, a third of the victims were children, who were doing as they were told, and some were too young to understand death, let alone suicide. Many of the adults drank the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid under duress, even at gunpoint, and two who refused to do so were shot. Lumping together all the victims simplifies the concept that Aviv so carefully explores throughout the rest of the piece: the incredible susceptibility of the human mind to suggestion, and the difficulty faced by — and bravery required of — those who resist it."
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
50 YEARS OF PROTEST PHOTOS in 50-year-old gallery - http://m.sfgate.com/art/article/50-years-of-protest-photos-in-50-year-old-gallery-11264894.php
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Everything's kinda tamped down anymore. The 4th used to be fireworks everywhere. Not anymore. These guys let me light off a few of these Black Snake things but that was it. I mean really, Black Snakes? The most boring so-called fireworks ever? Not even a sparkler?”
BRAINLESS POT CRIMES: The Jack Of Hearts Episode
by Jim Shields
I received several reports this week of a pot-related watershed crime out west of Branscomb in the Jack of Hearts Road area. For some reason there haven’t been any official reports on this incident, but here’s what I’ve been told by sources, who as they say, are informed.
Sometime towards the end of May, grower-renters at a property on Jack of Hearts Creek Road allegedly stole a truck and trailer and bought a large quantity of bagged potting soil/grow mix and hauled it to the property.
According to one source, “The very sketchy bridge over the creek collapsed when they tried to cross it, sending the truck and trailer into the creek where it spilled some diesel from the tank and sent a pulse of sediment down the creek … along with a petroleum odor. The story is that the perps then stole a local contractor’s Caterpillar tractor to try to pull the truck and trailer out of the creek. That failed, but then apparently they decided to bury another vehicle that was on the property (stolen? maybe) and promptly got the tractor stuck in the hole they were digging. That's the story from the grapevine here. Both Fish & Wildlife and the Sheriff’s Office were out there to investigate. Clean-up still pending. Word is no more contamination is occurring. Perps fled and have not been identified or captured, last I heard.”
* * *
Traffic Stop Lands 108 Pounds of Ganja
On Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at about 0007 hours, a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy was on routine patrol in the area of School Road and Central Avenue, McKinleyville. The deputy observed a vehicle with an unreadable rear license plate and attempted a traffic stop. The vehicle initially failed to yield to the deputy’s lights and sirens. The vehicle eventually pulled to the side of the road after the deputy followed it for about one mile. As the deputy approached the vehicle, driver Sharon Patrice Erickson, age 47 of McKinleyville was contacted. A strong smell of marijuana was detected coming from inside the vehicle. It was determined Erickson was on formal probation and was driving on a suspended license. A search of Erickson’s vehicle was conducted per her probation terms. 108 pounds of marijuana and a hand held scale was located.
Erickson was later booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility (HCCF) for obstructing or delaying a peace officer, possession of marijuana, driving on a suspended license, failure to provide proof of insurance, failure to have required lighting equipment and violation of probation. Erickson is being held without bail.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
(Courtesy, the Mendocino County Observer)
PD: FOURTH OF JULY PROBS at Lake Mendocino: Flooding, staffing, and louts.
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HEADS UP, WATER BABIES!
Two dogs die due to toxic blue-green algae after swimming in Napa pond
Toxic cyanobacteria (a.k.a. “blue-green algae”) is a real threat to mammalian health. http://kron4.com/2017/06/30/2-dogs-die-due-to-toxic-blue-green-algae-after-swimming-in-napa-pond/
Read more about Lake County recreational water conditions: https://www.facebook.com/ClearLakeWaterQuality/?hc_ref=SEARCH
Report a bloom and learn about the state’s “Harmful Algal Blooms”page: http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/
If you depend on Blue Lake or Clear Lake surface water resources for your household water usage, you might want to make sure to have a backup supply on hand, in case there is an incident that requires the shut-down of your local water system. We have a long, hot summer ahead —take it easy, have fun, but keep your children and animals safe!
Betsy Cawn, The Essential Public Information Center, Upper Lake
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HAS THE SLIME INFECTED THE NAVARRO?
David Severn Writes:
With a minimal investigation there is some evidence that what we are seeing might be the toxic cyano-bacteria or blue green algae.
I don't know.
What Does It Look Like?
The most common HABs in the Adirondacks are called freshwater blue-green algal blooms. Blue-green algae is referred to as cyanobacteria and naturally occurs in lakes and streams. Cyanobacteria can expand into a harmful algal bloom under certain environmental conditions that allow it to take over other algae. Some of these conditions include too much sunlight and warmer temperatures, calm water, and excess nutrients. Once a harmful algal bloom grows, it may last for a few hours or weeks.
The problem with identifying harmful algal blooms is that they can appear in different forms. Since multiple types of algae can be present in a body of water, sometimes it's hard to tell toxic algae apart from harmless ones. Just to be safe, it's best to stay away from discolored water and blooms.
ABOVE BIXBY CANYON, September 12
I am up here in the golden fields at the top of Big Sur, on one of the highest hills, over the ocean, the long wheat grass is gold-yellow up here, its tares blow in the wind, I sit cross-legged, naked under the hot sun.
Homer the Dog has made himself some shade under a bush, he is full of tares and burrs, and the flies bother him, he’s panting… . It’s early afternoon—a high noon—way down below, westward, the blue-gray sea fading into a vague horizon of clouds; a car creeps like an ant on the highway. I think I could wander this way the rest of my life—a small knapsack, sneakers, an old Navy CPO shirt, khaki pants, a small knife, a bottle opener, a nail clipper, a pencil & pad, a book, all I have… . So to India one day.
The wind blows thru me, over the hills.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 4, 2017
MARCELINO BAUTISTA, Potter Valley. Pot cultivation, possession for sale, refusing to leave, armed with assault weapon, conspiracy.
RANDALL CANEPA, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CHRISTINA DONAHOO, Willits. Controlled substance.
ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Parole violation.
CINDI EAGLE, Mariposa/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
NATHEN MARTIN, Willits. Under influence, probation revocation.
TYLER MINER, Willits. Probation revocation.
VINCENT RAMON, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, criminal threats with intent to terrorize, probation revocation.
AMBER RICETTI, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
JEREMY VALDOBINA, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Hey Now! We should have better ways of separating out the actual down-on-their-luck don’t-really-want-to-be-there homeless and help them work their way out. There are many ways you can get kicked to the curb and once there it’s a steep climb back to anything! Our compassion gets burned out by the abusive idiots in the bunch but there are also many homeless that deserve basic respect and help. And honestly, there but for the grace of our local (now crumbling) economy it could be many of us!
I can tell those who are new to the concept of Marcobiotics that it's a great way to live and stay well, and it isn't as hard to follow and it's nowhere near as expensive as the less enjoyable and way more expensive and ultimately inferior diet systems. Here's a short guide. It's not complete, but it's enough to cover the basics:
There are three basic foods:
1. Spaghetti with tomato sauce (a good kind, never Prego) and three to five Italian-style meatballs from the frozen food section. (They come in a big bag, enough for a week or more at less than a dollar a day. Johnsonville brand is noticeably more meatly porkish, and if you like that, then fine.) Put frozen meatballs directly into a 2-quart pan half-filled with water, boil the water, break an okay-gesture of spaghetti into it (last joint of thumb overlapping last joint of index finger), boil 6 minutes (still a little chewy), drain it and dump it into a big bowl with the sauce. Add cayenne pepper and grated Parmesan if you have it.
2. Salad. It can be just iceberg lettuce and any vegetable oil and vinegar, but it's better if you do it right and that only takes two minutes more: cheap lettuce; bagged spinach; maybe kale; onion; yellow or red bell pepper; sliced radishes; celery; black or kidney beans; garbanzo beans (be careful not to get those disgusting little white beans); tomatoes and black olives and avocado if you have them. (Dressing: mixed olive/canola oil, the cheapest white vinegar, smashed and chopped garlic, cayenne pepper and chunky salt.) (Also if you have corn chips, crumble them into the salad.) (Cold chicken or rice or hard toast are also good crumbled in a salad.)
And 3. Maybe a fried egg or a hard-boiled egg or an omelet every once in awhile. Bulk-section baked wasabi peas, or toffee peanuts, or hot-sauce cracker mix. An orange from the fridge. Lemonade made with part of a lemon and ice and two or three packets of Sweet-Mate or Equal or any other not-sugar. Or sugar.
And other things: Checkered vanilla ice cream/orange sherbet. Microwaved chicken corndogs with mustard and pepper. Special occasion: a Jenny's Giant Burger (north end of Fort Bragg). Saltine crackers and colby/jack cheese. Salt and vinegar potato chips. (Or a microwave-baked potato with cream cheese.) Self-rising crust frozen Safeway Select pizza (break it in half, still frozen; put half in the fridge and half in the toaster-over on 425 for 25 minutes or half an hour. Safeway-brand diet grapefruit soda timed-cold from the freezer, in a mason jar 2/3-full of ice (drink it, then chew up all the ice). A Dollar Store bag of Fruitastic bubble gum. Salted hard almonds. A whole disk of Mexican Abuelita chocolate smashed into chunks with the butt of a big knife. An unbroken brick of Oriental flavor ramen, flavor packet, and enough water to cover it in a pyrex or microwave-safe ceramic pot/bowl; put in 700-900 watt microwave oven for 10 minutes, pour in a handful of frozen peas, add cayenne pepper, eat it with a fork like spaghetti and peas... yum. A real treat: a Denny's BLT with extra everything.
Oh, right, I almost forgot: a mason jar full of hot water and one tea bag when you get out of bed, and two to four hours after you get up you become hungry and make something to eat (see above). So -- one or two medium-size meals a day and, on a radio show night, crackers and an apple and another mason jar of whatever kind of tea that's left there and, if you're not too tired when you get home, another bowl of spaghetti and meatballs before you go to bed.
And that's Marcobiotics. It's surprisingly cheap to eat like this, and most of it is very nutritious comfort food. And then you're 58, reasonably energetic, a hair short of 6 feet 2 inches, you still have all your own teeth, fall asleep easily and wake rested, and you weigh the same approximately 165 pounds you weighed when you were in high school.
RALPH NADER: THE DEMOCRATS ARE UNABLE TO DEFEND THE US FROM ‘MOST VICIOUS’ REPUBLICAN PARTY IN HISTORY
by Jon Schwarz
The Democratic Party is at its lowest ebb in the memory of everyone now alive. It’s lost the White House and both houses of Congress. On the state level it’s weaker than at any time since 1920. And so far in 2017 Democrats have gone 0 for 4 in special elections to replace Republican members of Congress who joined the Trump administration.
How did it come to this? One person the Democratic Party is not going to ask, but perhaps should, is legendary consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
Nader, who’s now 83 and has been been based in Washington, D.C. for over 50 years, has had a front row seat to the Democrats’ slow collapse. After his bombshell exposé of the U.S. car industry, Unsafe at Any Speed, he and his organizations collaborated with congressional Democrats to pass a flurry of landmark laws protecting the environment, consumers and whistleblowers. Journalist William Greider described him as one of America’s three top models for small-d democratic activism, together with Saul Alinsky and Martin Luther King, Jr. Meanwhile, the 1971 “Powell Memo,” which laid the groundwork for the resurgence of the corporate right, named him as a key enemy of “the system,” calling him “the single most effective antagonist of American business.”
But of course Nader has been persona non grata with the Democratic Party since his 2000 Green Party candidacy for president. George W. Bush officially beat Al Gore in Florida by 537 votes, with the state’s electoral votes putting Bush in the White House even though he lost the national popular vote. (In reality, a comprehensive, little-noticed study released soon after 9/11 found that Gore would have won Florida if all disputed ballots had been recounted.)
Democrats excoriated Nader, who received over 97,000 votes in Florida, for handing the election to Bush. Since it’s impossible to rerun history, there’s no way to know whether Gore would have won without a Nader candidacy. He certainly might have, but it’s also possible that — since the Nader threat noticeably pushed Gore to take more popular, progressive positions — Gore would have performed even worse in a Nader-less election.
In any case, it’s now undeniable that the Democratic Party has significant problems that can’t be blamed on Ralph Nader in 2000. In a recent interview, Nader provided his deeply-informed, decades-long perspective on how U.S. politics got to this point:
JON SCHWARZ: I’m interested in the history of the Democrats caving, being more and more willing to do whatever the right wants, for the past 40 years. Take the recent stories about Jared Kushner. Whatever the ultimate underlying reality there, I think it’s fair to say that if a Democratic president had appointed their son-in-law to hold a position of tremendous power in the White House – if Hillary Clinton had appointed Chelsea’s husband Marc Mezvinsky – and stories had come out in the Washington Post and New York Times about him trying to set up a back channel with Russia, he would have been out the door before the day was over.
RALPH NADER: Do you want me to go through the history of the decline and decadence of the Democratic Party? I’m going to give you millstones around the Democratic Party neck that are milestones.
The first big one was in 1979. Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, and who ran the House Democratic Campaign treasure chest, convinced the Democrats that they should bid for corporate money, corporate PACs, that they could raise a lot of money. Why leave it up to Republicans and simply rely on the dwindling labor union base for money, when you had a huge honeypot in the corporate area?
And they did. And I could see the difference almost immediately. First of all, they lost the election to Reagan. And then they started getting weaker in the Congress. At that time, 1980, some of our big allies were defeated in the so-called Reagan landslide against Carter, we lost Senator [Gaylord] Nelson, Senator [Warren] Magnuson, Senator [Frank] Church. We had more trouble getting congressional hearings investigating corporate malfeasance by the Democrat [congressional committee] chairs. When the Democrats regained the White House [in 1992] you could see the difference in appointments to regulatory agencies, the difficulty in getting them to upgrade health and safety regulations.
The second millstone is that they didn’t know how to deal with Reagan. And the Republicans took note. That means a soft tone, smiling … You can say terrible things and do terrible things as long as you have [that] type of presentation.
[Democrats] were still thinking Republican conservatives were dull, stupid, and humorless. They didn’t adjust.
RN: Increasingly they began to judge their challenge to Republicans by how much money they raised. You talk to [Marcy] Kaptur from Cleveland, she says, we go into the Democratic caucus in the House, we go in talking money, we stay talking money, and we go out with our quotas for money. …
As a result they took the economic issues off the table that used to win again and again in the thirties and forties for the Democrats. The labor issues, the living wage issues, the health insurance issue, pension issues. And that of course was a huge bonanza for the Republican Party because the Republican Party could not contend on economic issues. They contended on racial issues, on bigotry issues, and that’s how they began to take control of the solid Democratic South after the civil rights laws were passed.
Raising money from Wall Street, from the drug companies, from health insurance companies, the energy companies, kept [Democrats] from their main contrasting advantage over the Republicans, which is, in FDR’s parlance, “The Democratic Party is the party of working families, Republicans are the party of the rich.” That flipped it completely and left the Democrats extremely vulnerable.
As a result they drew back geographically, to the east coast, west coast and so on.
And that created another millstone: You don’t run a 50-state [presidential] campaign. If you don’t run a 50-state campaign, number one you’re strengthening the opposing party in those states you’ve abandoned, so they can take those states for granted and concentrate on the states that are in the grey area. That was flub number one.
Flub number two is what Ben Barnes, the politically-savvy guy in Texas, told me. He said, when you don’t contest the presidential race in Texas, it rots the whole party down … all the way to mayors and city council. So it replicates this decadence and powerlessness for future years.
When they abandoned the red states, they abandoned five states in the Rocky Mountain area, and started out with a handicap of nine or ten senators.
You may remember from your history, the two senators from Montana were Democrats, Senator Church from Idaho was a Democrat, Senator Frank Moss, great consumer champion, Democrat from Utah. Now there’s almost nobody. The two senators from Wyoming are Republican, the two senators from Montana are Republican [John Tester, the senior Montana senator, is a Democrat], the two senators from Utah are Republican. I think the Democrats have one seat in Colorado. Then you get down to Arizona and that’s two Republicans.
So they never had a veto-proof majority even at their peak in the Senate. And of course later when they weren’t at their peak it cost them the Senate again and again. And now they’re in a huge hole, with the debacle in the Senate races in 2016, they’re facing three times as many Democrats up for reelection in 2018.
The [third] millstone is they decided to campaign by TV, with political consultants influencing them and getting their 15-20 percent cut. When you campaign by TV you campaign by slogans, you don’t campaign by policy.
Next millstone, the labor unions began getting weak, weak in numbers and weak in leadership. They began shelling out huge money to the Democrats for television. And as they became weaker they lost their grassroots mobilization on behalf of the Democrats.
The Democrats began the process of message preceding policy. No — policy precedes message. That means they kept saying how bad the Republicans are. They campaigned not by saying, look how good we are, we’re going to bring you full Medicare [for all], we’re going to crack down on corporate crime against workers and consumers and the environment, stealing, lying, cheating you. We’re going to get you a living wage. We’re going to get a lean defense, a better defense, and get some of this money and start rebuilding your schools and bridges and water and sewage systems and libraries and clinics.
Instead of saying that, they campaign by saying “Can you believe how bad the Republicans are?” Now once they say that, they trap their progressive wing, because their progressive wing is the only segment that’s going to change the party to be a more formidable opponent. Because they say to their progressive wing, “You’ve got nowhere to go, get off our back.”
And this went right into the scapegoating of the last twenty years. “Oh, it’s Nader, oh, it’s the Koch Brothers, oh, it’s the electoral college, oh, it’s misogyny, oh, it’s redneck deplorables.” They never look at themselves in the mirror.
RN: Republicans, when they lose they fight over ideas, however horrific they are. Tea Party ideas, libertarian ideas, staid Republican ideas. They fight. But the Democrats want uniformity, they want to shut people up. So they have the most deficient transition of all. They have the transition of Nancy Pelosi to Nancy Pelosi, four-time loser against the worst Republican Party in the Republican Party’s history.
If you put Republican politicians today before the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and “Mr. Conservative” Senator Robert Taft, they’d roll over in their grave. That’s how radically extremist, cruel, vicious, Wall Street, militarist the Republican Party is. Which means that the Democrats should have landslided them. Not just beaten them, landslided them in legislatures around the country, governorships, president and the Congress.
But no, it’s always the scapegoat. Maybe Jill Stein, the little Green Party, they took Pennsylvania and Michigan from Hillary the hawk.
JS: Democrats seem to have internalized the Republican perspective on everything involving the military.
RN: [Another] millstone is they could never contrast themselves with the Republicans on military foreign policy – because they were like them. They never question the military budget, they never question the militarized foreign policy, like Hillary the hawk on Libya, who scared the generals and ran over [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates who opposed her going to the White House to [push for] toppling the regime, metastasizing violence in seven or eight African countries to this day.
So they knocked out foreign and military policy, because they were getting money from Lockheed and Boeing and General Dynamics and Raytheon and so on. Even Elizabeth Warren when she had a chance started talking about maintaining those contracts with Raytheon. Here’s the left wing of the party talking about Raytheon, which is the biggest corporate welfare boondoggle east of the Pecos.
[Another] millstone is: Nobody gets fired. They have defeat after defeat, and they can’t replace their defeated compadres with new, vigorous, energetic people. Labor unions, the same thing. They [stay in positions] into their eighties no matter how screwed up the union is. You don’t get fired no matter how big the loss is, unlike in the business community, where you get fired.
The last millstone is, they make sure by harassing progressive third parties that the third party never pushes them. I’m an expert on that. They try to get them off the ballot. We had twenty-four lawsuits in twelve weeks in the summer of 2004 to get us off the ballots of dozens of states by the Democratic Party. Whereas if we got five percent, six percent of the vote they would be under great pressure to change their leadership and change their practice because there would be enough American voters who say to the Democrats, “We do have some place to go,” a viable third party. They harass them, they violate civil liberties, they use their Democrat-appointed judges to get bad decisions or harassing depositions. Before [third parties] finally clear the deck one way or the other it’s Labor Day and they’ve got an eight-week campaign.
There are some people who think the Democratic Party can be reformed from within by changing the personnel. I say good luck to that. What’s happened in the last twenty years? They’ve gotten more entrenched. Get rid of Pelosi, you get Steny Hoyer. You get rid of Harry Reid, you get [Charles] Schumer. Good luck.
Unfortunately, to put it in one phrase, the Democrats are unable to defend the United States of America from the most vicious, ignorant, corporate-indentured, militaristic, anti-union, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-posterity [Republican Party] in history.
End of lecture.
DYLAN THOMAS: How Horses Drink and Gallop
by Manuel Vicent
(Translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
Before writing his first verse, sixteen-year old Dylan Thomas began working as a reporter for the local newspaper, The South Wales Daily Post, in Swansea, a city to the south of Wales, where the poet was born in 1914. Very early on, he began to show indications of what was to come.
At that tender age, during one winter’s day while he was blowing on his chilblains, he entered the habitual tavern. The windows were steamed up from the vapor of alcohol. With his eye scornfully half-shut, he commented to a colleague,
—The first duty of a good reporter is to be well received in the morgue.
One supposes that right after tossing out this sentence, he lit a cigarette and, with his elbows on the bar, he downed a pint like a young man he was, setting forth into the ocean of beer in which he would sail for his entire life—until he ended up shipwrecked.
It’s possible that in the middle of the noiseless tranquility of that region of Wales, interrupted only by the cry of the gulls and the mooing of cows, there occurred a crime from time to time to kill the tedium; however, this was not the normal crop offered by this land of farmers and fishermen, with riding cliffs stretching from high grasslands filled with apple trees and cornfields.
Only the sea was violent; however, during the occasions when the poet and Caitlin McNamara—the girl he married in 1937, had not even a penny in their pockets, they wound up feeding themselves exclusively on cockles, which floated to the surface during low tide among the bitter seaweed.
They ate cockles and later he would leave his woman by herself and go to the tavern to sing Welsh songs arm in arm with the sailors; songs, which years later, during his drunken sprees in New York when he was far away from home, would fill him with nostalgia.
At the age of twenty, Dylan Thomas, the easy-going son of a teacher of literature in a grammar school, whom one always saw with notebooks protruding from the pockets of his coats, abandoned journalism filthy scribbled and published his first poems. These poems were hardly more than a collection of explosive images forged with words that no one had ever put together before then. They collided into one another with a violent rhythm:
“By scummed, starfish sands
With their fishwife cross
Gulls, pipers, cockles, and snails,
Out there, crow black, men
Tackled with clouds, who kneel
To the sunset nets, ...”
With these poems, he won the Poetry Book prize and this was the first door of glory through which he passed that wasn’t the door of a bar.
It’s still a mystery that has not been solved how this scruffy young man with an air of wickedness, who was famous for the amount of beer he guzzled, suddenly became a star similar to the new heroes of song with his verses as his only weapon. After World War II, his voice began to be heard on the BBC.
This radio station that had for many years battles lost or won, suddenly established a lyrical front: a poet reciting into a microphone phantasmagoric, broken verses in which he represented young man; at other times, a coward; a hero; a lover; an adulterer; a given daily reports of bloody himself as an actor in various incarnations: sometimes he was an angry wretched thief; a plagiarist—but in the interior of every personification his poems resonated with a whiplash of surrealistic images that were always unexpected.
With his poetic chats on the BBC, Dylan Thomas became a legend. He was the first to use the media to display, in an act of exhibitionism, his frightful despondent soul, which like some filthy, unhappy creature, was bleeding from all its seams.
In fact, he was adored in life and destroyed by success. Very soon after his death, which occurred in New York in 1953 when he was 53 years old, hordes of devoted fans began arrive in Swansea on pilgrimages. In his house in Laugharne, The Boathouse—which was converted into a museum, they acquired postcards, plates, trays, thimbles, towels, and coasters with his name and there were even merchants who made a lot of money by selling vials of supposed drops of the poet’s sweat.
But the relic which was most successful right from the start was a beer mug with the face of Dylan Thomas printed upon it, a cigarette dangling from his lips, when his nose had not yet become a red bulb and his eyes didn’t have a glassy look.
The fact that this mug was the preferred souvenir of his admirers poses a dilemma that splits the biography of our hero: Was the great fame that accompanied him in his life due to his being a great poet or a magnificent drunk?
Many believe that you can reach the soul of this poet much quicker by drinking beer from one of those mugs than by reading his verses. But not everyone believes this is true. A young Jewish kid named Robert Allen Zimmerman, who rummaged around New York strumming the guitar, changed his name in homage to the poet after reading his poems, and from then on, was called Bob Dylan.
“Shall gods be said to thump the clouds
When clouds are cursed by thunder,
Be said to weep when weather howls?
Shall rainbows be their tunics' colour?”
Success arrived when he began to give readings in New York in locations packed by a thousand astonished listeners standing before that figure who put words in the mouths of fish, trees, flowers, children, and animals in his piece, Under Milk Wood. Every round of applause was followed by a drinking spree. At parties, when he was surrounded by women, he would suddenly proclaim, —I see rats climbing the walls.
The girls would scream and he would take advantage of the game by hiding between their legs.
He made three trips to New York, each with renewed clamor and accelerated destruction. But on the fourth trip, the horse could no longer handle it despite the cortisone injections provided by Doctor Milton Feltenstein. One day in November of 1953, he wound up exhausted.
In the façade of the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street in New York, there is a plaque that recalls that it was here where Dylan Thomas was overcome by delirium tremors after a party; and that from here he was taken to Saint Vincent Hospital, where he died three days later.
It happened in one of the rear rooms while he was in the arms of his mistress, Liz Reitell. The cadaver was returned to Laugharne and during the burial, his wife Caitlin danced drunkenly upon the coffin to avenge the abandonment to which Thomas submitted her and their children.
There’s a sentimental Dylan Thomas tour that has converted the dives and taverns where he used to get drunk into temples. Wherever the poet moved his bones—whether in some pub in SoHo or Greenwich Village, The Antelope, The Mermaid, or some of the sacred taverns of London, or in Brown’s Hotel in Laugharne, there’s always a devoted fan with his elbows on the bar to speak of his glory.
The mythology of the movies was his sustenance. Marilyn and Charlotte clinked glasses with him. Suddenly, the public saw him as a flesh and blood star who offered himself as a sacrifice: a man who threw himself off the cliff from the high peaks of his poems, and they adopted him as a creature who symbolized the arrival of a new era.
But success did not offer him a way out. He was devoured when he and Stravinsky conceived an opera about Ulysses. Dylan Thomas took the lead and, with his feet, sailed on ahead of the return to Ithaca.
(Drawing by Fernando Vicente)
THE EMPTY HIVE
O, the dull, unnamed need to make some kind of home / A home out of the life lived, out of the love spent
It's a classic formulation / We are supposed to “make” homes out of blossoming aspirations and love / Before busting them up in resignation and defeat / divorce.
But poetry starts building when love starts dying; it erects its structures durably on emptiness / Brokenness and regret are aesthetic necessities: they turn the broken home into the great poem about the broken home -- / This is the empty hive in which I live.
I write lest I think / Lest I think of the reasons why I write -- / Boredom, fear, vanities / Falsified desire; / Also love.
But I also live in conscious pursuit of my own chills and fever, animal sex, passions and betrayals / Chiefly in order to make song of them.
It would seem, then, as if there is a zero-sum choice between perfection of my life, or of my work / And so, because I will someday be writing poems about you, I seek to know everything about you: the location of the cups in your cupboard, the mirrors on your walls, and the dresses in your closet; / The origins and importance of trinkets you collect on trips; / The books in your library.
The years lay open before us / A book of fresh, blank pages / All I know after four divorces and seven children? / Strong feelings are the stuff of art.