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Mendocino County Today: Friday, Aug. 18, 2017

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by Bruce McEwen

At long last, first thing Wednesday afternoon, we finally got an overview of the Jeffery Settler murder in Laytonville last November 11th.

As prosecutor Josh Rosenfeld led lead investigator Matt Croskey through the interviews he had with all seven defendants, it became clear how each minimized their own involvement, and pointed the trembling finger of guilt at their co-conspirators, mostly at “the heavy,” a kind of homicidal volunteer, who offered to show these aggrieved trimmigrants how to deal with an allegedly greedy grower.

The late Jeffrey Settler with his kids

Of course this “incident,” as it is being called in the euphemistic vernacular of the courthouse, happened a few days after Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana. In fact, the same day as the vote, on November 8th, Mr. Settler had told his foreman, a Mr. Geurts, to pay $500 each to Zachary “Zack” Wuester, Gary “Cricket” Blank, Fred “Freddy” Gaestel, Said “Richie” Mohamed, and Gary “Giggles” Fitzgerald and tell them to get off the property.

The five went to Garberville, partied hearty until the money was gone then went back to get what they felt they were owed.

During this time, the summer of 2016, the news was rife with stories of growers’ abuses, sobering revelations about how wealthy growers were abusing low-level workers, especially young women, forcing them to be sex slaves and that sort of thng, so it was not all that shocking to discover that a young single mom had come to Settler’s grow, and shortly afterwards her boyfriend was sent packing and this woman, Amanda Weist, was soon sleeping with Mr. Settler, while Settler’s children and their mother were (perhaps seething over the arrangement) living at the Cottage Motel in Laytonville.

Wuester, Fitzgerald, Mohamed, Kane

So these five guys came back on November 10th and were drinking at Wheels Pub — a trimmer’s bar; only growers frequent the more well-known Boomers — and they hatched a scheme to go up to Settler’s grow and – well, it depended on who you asked. Some wanted to give Jeff a good ass-kicking, others wanted bloodshed. Gary “Cricket” Blank was especially pissed-off. He would end up by his own admission doing at least “ten percent” of the stabbing orgy Jeff Settler died from.

Strange, but it wasn’t really Michael Kane’s fight. And though he reportedly did “90%” of the stabbing, he had never worked on Settler’s pharm or had any wages coming.

Gaestel (pre-arrest), Gaestel (after arrest), Blank, Wells

They all played the part of the innocent dupe when they told their own story to Detective Croskey, but the cross-referencing of the other statements put the lie to all these sadly homespun alibis.

For instance, Richie Mohamed said all he did was go along to get some of his old clothes back, and while the others were putting the boots, fists, knives and hatchets to Settler, he was in the kitchen making himself a hot-dog. The others, however, all placed him as the one who had used the bolt cutters to cut the lock and open the gate, then joined the team of four who took up ambush positions on either side of the door, while Giggles went up and knocked.

The group sent Giggles to go knock on Settler’s door because he was on favorable terms Amanda. She recognized his voice and opened the door, then the two on each side — all four, Richie included, rushed in and over-powered Settler, all four of them falling on him — of course, each version of the story leaves the teller out of this part! — except Mr. Geurts’s who, having been forewarned by Amanda to run for his life, went into the nearby woods and watched the robbery from the cover of the trees.

The “incident” went down at about 4:30 in the morning, pitch black, except that when Geurts — who was sleeping in the nearby garage — heard Amanda scream, he flipped on a light and opened a garage door, flooding the area in light and “freezing” everybody in the scene.

Only one of the seven suspects wasn’t at the scene during what is being called the “incident” and that was Freddy Gestel, who stayed at the bar, Wheels, and gave the killers his car, along with arming Kane with a Fiskers hatchet out of his trunk. Michael Kane used this instrument to hit the back of Settler’s head saying, “you piece of shit!” and then the other four fell upon him kicking, punching, stabbing until, as the others were loading up the marijuana, Michael Kane in a coup de grace, drove the blade of a knife into Jeffery Settler’s throat.

This is an overview of what was disclosed in court — we’ll have more details in the print edition, but there was a separate jury trial for a Mr. Maxstadt underway for attempted murder on a police officer, and we hope to bring the readers some particulars on that case, as well.

UPDATE: On Thursday, it was announced that Wuester, Fitzgerald, and Mohamed had plead guilty or no contest to participating in the forcible robbery of Settler and are now expected to testify against the remaining murder defendants: Kane, Gaestel, Wells and Blank.

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ON LINE COMMENTS regarding Tuesday’s 3-1 Board of Supervisos vote to put both inland ambulance services and County-wide dispatch out to bid:

(1) re: FALCK. Why are the county supervisors so keen on outsourcing everything but their own jobs? Falck laid off almost its entire staff in Petaluma after they gobbled up a competitor. So now the current dispatchers, who are county residents and know the rural areas, will likely lose their jobs, too. Falck must have done some heavy romancing. I wonder how this came about. I’m glad you’re looking into it. I would like to hear a response from the board as to why they ignored safety personnel and why they are turning their backs on local workers yet again. We need new management who realizes that privatization of services is not the way to keep this county viable. They have paved the way to higher unemployment and higher costs for services again and no one seems to care. Sounds familiar, eh?

(2) The AVA is probably right on this one. But there has to be more to the story.

(3) Hard to believe we’re privatizing again, the smoke barely cleared from Ortner. We apparently need to make David Cay Johnston required reading for supervisors. (I think it was his book “Fine Print” that tells the story of municipal water being privatized in a California town — Boulder Creek, if I remember right — and how that fiasco played out. Not good, and there are many other examples in his book of similar privatization nightmares. You would think people would learn, but that appears to be a very slow process. All his books I highly recommend.) Anyway, kudos to Supervisor McCowen for resisting this madness.

(4) Croskey should have recused herself (actually she should resign) and they should have waited for Gjerde to participate in such an important issue. Smells like a back room deal to me, in other words, follow the money. Supervisors McCowen and, to a certain extent, Gjerde, seem to be the only ones who have the best interests of the residents of Mendo County at heart and are not rubber stamps. The Supervisors are never held accountable for their actions because they are secure in their reelectability. Exhibit A: Grand Jury findings that are critical of their decisions but are openly condemned and ultimately ignored. Maybe it’s time for DA Eyster to look into this and the Ortner debacle.

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WAS RUFFING PUSHED or did she jump? I'm guessing the Fort Bragg City Manager was pushed then, assured of a soft landing, jumped her leap with some version of a golden parachute. "Look, Linda, if you'll leave voluntarily we'll bump your pay up so you'll make almost as much retired as you made on the job." So she jumped and the Council announced it as a voluntary act, voting 5-0 to "accept" Ruffing's resignation.

THE AGREEMENT TO LEAVE, promises to pay Ms. R until January 12th, 2018 whether or not she stays on the job through the first two weeks of January. She also gets a three percent pay increase effective back to July 23 and a one-time bonus of five percent of her base pay (without benefits), which was $143,375 in 2016. She will also receive six months severance pay. In other words, a deal non-publicly employed Americans can only dream of.

WHAT HAPPENED IN FB, I think, and speaking from 50 miles away in Boonville, although I follow Fort Bragg events because it's my favorite place in all the Redwood Empire, is that a smart woman got hired to run the place, and found herself with a cringing, dithering city council. So she said to herself, "These people are paying me a lot of money to take care of business, but if I wait for them to do anything the whole show will go down the tubes." Ruffing, who hardly lacks for confidence, proceeded to make some very bad decisions which, natch, were signed off on by her captive city council. One of those very bad decisions was to bring in a triple-dipping retired cop from LA as chief over the solid local guy John Naulty. (I saw that one of FB's idiot libs even claimed that the people complaining about the LA guy were racists because he's Hispanic!)

MY MEMORY of the Scott Mayberry matter is that after the shooting death of his long-time friend Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino he needed some time off, which is understandable because he and Naulty had shot and killed the marauding Oregon tweeker who'd murdered Del Fiorentino that awful day. Ruffing demanded that Mayberry be cleared by a City-selected psychiatrist before returning to the job while Mayberry insisted he was fine. He then resigned and went to work for the DA's office while Ruffing proceeded to shaft Naulty for the chief's job, bringing in a guy from Los Angeles beholden to her.

THE SALE of the Old Coast Hotel to the irresponsible management of Hospitality House was the second blunder, and a blunder Fort Bragg's commercial center will be damaged by for a long time. In a laughably one-sided report by Dan Young on KZYX this morning (Thursday) Young asserted that more than twenty Ruffing supporters had turned out to speak for her at Monday night's meeting of the Fort Bragg City Council, not mentioning that two people spoke in favor of her removal and not mentioning that Ruffing's supporters were tipped off that her job was on the line and showed up in unimpressive numbers.

THEN REPORTER YOUNG (a new name to us) turned the mike over to Ruffing who sounded bewildered that she was somehow being blamed for recent controversies. She sounded like someone who'd just happened at an accident scene.

RUFFING'S SUPPORTERS are making it all sound as if Ruffing is a martyr to "old Fort Bragg," code for "backwards-yearning rightwingers," unlike us NPR groove-o trendos. Old Fort Bragg is in the way of us, the people who feed the hungry and the poor, the people who applaud the appointment of an Hispanic police chief, the people who represent the good and the true, The people who love Hillary!

I THINK FORT BRAGG PEOPLE, old and new, simply saw that their town had been hijacked by cash and carry "liberals." The last council election was a kind of badly needed revolt to put sensible people back in charge.

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Todd Johnson

UKIAH, Wed., August 16. -- A Superior Court jury returned after 30 minutes in deliberations this morning with a guilty verdict against Todd Allen Johnson, age 41, of Redwood Valley.

Johnson was convicted of a charge of battery, a misdemeanor, said crime occurring on February 13, 2017. Battery is defined in the criminal sense as the unlawful and unwanted touching and application of force against another person.

After the jury was thanked and excused, the Court made a separate finding that the evidence presented had been sufficient for the defendant to also be found in violation of an earlier grant of probation. Johnson had previously been convicted in August 2016 of misdemeanor criminal threats and misdemeanor battery. He was placed on a 36-month grant of informal probation and ordered to obey all laws as one condition of probation.

Both the new case and the probation case were continued to Friday (August 18th at 1:30 p.m. in Department G) for pronouncement of sentences.

The attorney who prosecuted the two cases for the People of the State of California was Deputy District Attorney S. Houston Porter. The investigating law enforcement agency was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. The Hon. Rick Henderson, retired judge of the Mendocino County Superior Court, presided over the two day trial that spanned three days.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Every year about this time I start seeing those goofy dog cartoons that say, "The dog daze of summer." Well, here's one proud canine who always has his wits about him!”

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LOCAL ELECTION CLARIFICATION: Anderson Valley School Board upcoming election. According to the County Elections Office spreadsheet on local elections incumbents Natalie Matson and Kerri Sanchez have not refiled to continue as School Board Trustees. Former trustee Eric Arbanovella resigned in July. That means there are three seats up for election on November 7: Two long-term (Matson and Sanchez seats) and one short-term (Arbanovella). By the August deadline resident deputy Craig Walker has filed for one of the two long-term seats and Saoirse Bryne filed for the short-term seat. So for now Deputy Walker and Saoirse Bryne will join current and returning board members Richard Browning and Wynne Crisman starting in January. It’s not clear at this point who will appoint the fifth trustee: County Supervisors, County Board of Education or the AVUSD Board itself. But either way, the fifth position will be appointed from whoever applies between now and January 1, 2018.

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IN THE ANDERSON VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT Board, incumbent Kirk Wilder has decided not to return as a Trustee and no one has filed to fill that seat. Incumbent Kathleen McKenna will continue as a trustee in the other seat up for election in November and will joint current trustees Joanie Clark, Valerie Hanelt and Paul Soderman in January. As far as we know, the Board of Supervisors is the appointing authority for the Community Services District so they will presumably select from whoever applies between now and January 1, 2018.

CSD TRUSTEE KATHLEEN McKENNA WRITES: Since Kirk Wilder is retiring from the AVCSD board after 14 years of service and no candidates have filed for the November elections, there will be a vacancy on the board starting in December. The vacancy can now be filled by appointment. Directors typically spend from 5-10 hours a month on CSD business. In addition to the monthly board meeting (3rd Wed @ 5:30), directors are expected to serve on at least one subcommittee. Information about the district can be found at Interested persons should apply to the County Board of Supervisors. Contact Joy Andrews (895-2075) for details.

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GAZING OUT my office window thinking grand thoughts, I watched a couple of trailer jocks maneuver around each other to get at the gas pumps. I don't get it. Put all your stuff in a fifty-foot tin box then drag it all over America? Eventually, a couple of wheezes emerged to totter off into the Redwood Drive-in.

In their seventies, I guessed, but they moved like they were 105. And they wore neo-golf outfits that made them look clownish, at least to me. Their wives, presumably, were less ridiculous-looking but were gender-neutral. If not for their hairdos, they could have been their husbands.

A little later, I was looking at photographs from contemporary Italy, small town Italy. The women were matronly but definitely women, the old guys, sitting on plaza benches, wore suits, battered, dark suits. Everyone looked happy, content, not like people who were about to stuff fifty feet of tin with their household belongings and drive it all over hell.

CHP in Boonville

THEN TEN UNIFORMED, armed motorcycle cops peeled off 128 and drove into the drive-in oasis. They were from Santa Rosa. I asked one guy why they were in Boonville. "Training run," he explained.

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The North Coast People’s Alliance (NCPA) and the California Nurses Association (CNA) are planning a rally to voice support for the Healthy California Act (SB 562) and to encourage the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to approve a resolution in support of SB 562.

The public is invited to join NCPA and CNA members on Tuesday, August 22 at 8:00 a.m. outside the Humboldt County Courthouse at 825 5th Street in Eureka. The demonstration will include several speakers. Afterwards, attendees are encouraged to proceed in to the Supervisors’ chambers for their 9:00 meeting, to share stories with the Supervisors and encourage them to pass a resolution in support of SB 562.

“The barrier to Single Payer isn’t cost, it’s politics,” says Kathryn Donahue, a registered nurse and member of both NCPA and CNA. “The vast majority of the public are in support of single-payer healthcare. We can’t wait until next year. This delay is morally wrong and politically motivated, and will cost many lives. Healthcare delayed is healthcare denied.”

The North Coast People’s Alliance evolved from Northern Humboldt for Bernie, a grassroots campaign that helped to secure a local landslide victory for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. After the primary, NCPA was formed as an organization meant to empower ordinary people to become more engaged in political processes. NCPA is not aligned with any political party; rather, it serves as a place where progressives of all party affiliations can work together on issues that transcend partisan politics.

The California Nurses Association is an organization of registered nurses and one of the nation’s fastest growing labor and professional organizations in the U.S. with more than 86,000 members in hospitals, clinics and home health agencies in all 50 states.

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LAWRENCE IN ARABIA by Scott Anderson, brother of Jon Lee Anderson, the fine New Yorker writer. All most of us know about this odd genius is derived from the movie saga, Lawrence of Arabia, which I recall only as repeated scenes of Bedouins, led by a white Englishman, riding around the desert on horses and camels blowing stuff up. The fascinating story of why Lawrence was in Arabia and what he did there brings clarity to both Lawrence's personality and the complicated pre-World War One politics of the Middle East, which we live with and they die of today. Among his formidable gifts, Lawrence was a natural but untrained military wizard, linguist, possessed almost super-human physical stamina, and was fearless and ferocious — all in a 120 pound package arrayed on a couple inches over five feet. (The book's sub-title sums up the Lawrence period — "War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East.")

THE GENERAL VS. THE PRESIDENT: MacArthur & Truman at the Brink by H.W. Brands. The megalomaniacal MacArthur won Korea then lost half of it when, out of what he seemed to believe was his own infallibility, he ignored intelligence reports that the Chinese were massed and poised to attack at the Yalu. MacArthur was certain they wouldn't. They did. And China entered the "U.N. Police Action," with nearly disastrous results for US and our Korean allies. (The clearest history of the Korean War I've read is David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War.) The General vs The President concerns itself with the great struggle by Truman to retain civilian control over the military. To do that, Truman, in a highly controversial move that nearly cost him his presidency, removed MacArthur from his Far East command and propelled the popular general all the way into retirement. Hero of two world wars, MacArthur was one of the most revered persons in the world when Truman took him on. However, the great general was better viewed at a distance. When he made a tentative run for president himself, Americans were put off by his superciliously arrogant personality and, as he'd promised in his famous Old Soldiers Never Die speech to Congress, MacArthur soon faded away. General Eisenhower had the gift of the common touch. Wildly popular with ordinary Americans, Ike was easily elected to two terms.

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Excited about SMART's official start next week? Here's what to know

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 17, 2017

Bingel, Chiles, Fruge, Marin

SHANTAL BINGEL, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI.

CHRISTOL CHILES, Fort Bragg. Threats to commit crime resulting in death or great bodily injury; burglary; brandishing or exhibiting any deadly weapon other than a gun in a threatening, rude, angry manner; trespass: refusing or failing to leave land, real property, or structure of another, not open to public; probation revoked; contempt of court: disobey court order/etc.

MEGAN FRUGE, Willits. Domestic battery.

ERIBERTO MARIN, Auburn, CA/Ukiah. Suspended license which was suspended for drunk or refusing chem test, maximum speed violation, failure to appear.

Ross, Sanchez, Smith

BENJAMIN ROSS, Auburn, Washington/Little River. Stolen vehicle, receipt of stolen property.

DULCE SANCHEZ, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JENNIFER SMITH, Fort Bragg. Vandalism, trespassing.

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I regard many sources of “journalism” to be corporate tools, and most journalists to have shit for brains, yet I am still shocked at the across-the-board incomprehension in the press today. They are all trying to sell us the notion that our atrocious president is the cause of the rise of right wing radicalism, when it ought to be obvious that he is merely one of its byproducts.

The right wing assholes duking it out with left wing assholes in Charlottesville yesterday weren’t there hollering because Trump told them to; they were there because the system has hosed them so comprehensively that there is no foreseeable path for their situation to be ameliorated. Voting for Trump, like brandishing swastikas, was just another way for them to express their impotent rage.

Not to be indelicate, they are generally more comfortable with weapons and with the idea of violence than liberals are. I find them more loathsome than the left but, if I were a betting man, I would not bet on the lefties in future skirmishes.

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Most of the political violence during the last year and a half has been initiated by the Left.

But they squeal loudly, hysterically, when given their own medicine.

Simply put, the Liberals are mindless pussies. Show them a gun and they’ll start to denounce it as the symbol of phallic dominance, and then go into a diatribe about male insecurity and latent homosexual tendencies.

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"Free" Speech, Fear And The Primitive Human Brain-- the intrinsic dangers of social hierarchy.

It is illegal to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. The idea of fire creates intense fear deep in the primitive human brain known as the Limbic System, or emotional center. The “Fight or Flight” reaction is activated causing a stampede, resulting in injury and death. Similarly “Hate Speech” can activate the emotional centers of the primitive human brain. “Hate speech” can be understood to be as intrinsically dangerous as shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater.

Neuroscience studies have shown that both in brain activity and behavior, people place higher importance on social status than money. When concerned about social status the brain’s emotional center, in the limbic system is most active. Brain activity in the emotional center is also strongly correlated with a person’s commitment to social status, for example, strong belief in racial superiority and economic inequalities.

In the US, social status and race are often intertwined. African Americans are often assumed to be less worthy and White individuals are often assumed to be more worthy. This greater status attached to white skin is learned at a young age and continually reinforced by US culture. Furthermore, research has shown that those who believe in white supremacy and the negative stereotypes of blacks, view a rise in the social status of blacks as threatening, activating their limbic–emotional center. Those who are committed to racist ideas of social superiority can also feel threatened during times of social unrest and instability, again activating emotional arousal in their primitive brain. This is particularly important in today’s neo-fascist politics tied to white supremacy.

Many countries have passed laws against “Hate Speech” because they recognize that such speech incites violence or prejudicial actions: Canada, France, Germany, England, Australia and many others. One needs only to look at the hate speech of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan or the German Nazi party to see this obvious reality.

Ask yourself why we cannot shout fire in a crowded theater but we can shout out hate speech anywhere? Millions of working people of all colors and nationalities are seeing corporations move their jobs oversees or out of existence through automation. Vast numbers of people are insecure about their lives and the future for their children. Hate, fear and anger are a primitive brain response which clouds the mind’s ability to see how much more we are alike than different.

Dr. Nayvin Gordon


PS. Dr Nayvin Gordon is a Family Physician who has written many articles on Health and Politics. He can be reached at

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Seeking Nominations for the 14th Annual Mendocino County Art Champion Awards

The Arts Council of Mendocino County is now seeking nominations from the entire community for the 14th Annual Mendocino County Art Champion Awards. Art Champion Awards will be made in the following four categories: Business Champion for the Arts; Individual Champion for the Arts; Artist Champion; and Educational Champion. Nominations are due by September 8th. The awards will be presented before the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors in October. A public reception to honor the Art Champions will immediately follow the awards presentation.

The Art Champion awards are annually presented in October to coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month. National Arts and Humanities Month is a coast-to-coast collective celebration of culture in America, dedicated to giving millions of Americans the opportunity to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives and encourage them to begin a lifelong habit of active participation. To learn more about National Arts and Humanities Month, visit the website for Americans for the Arts at or the website for the California Arts Council at

Last year's arts champions were: Savings Bank of Mendocino County (Business); Debbie Bowles of The Fat Tail Quilt Shop in Laytonville (Individual); Elliott Little (Artist); Pavlos Mayakis (Educator), and SPACE (Arts Organization).

To submit a 2017 Mendocino County Art Champion nomination form, to review the award criteria, or to see a list of past winners, go to the website of the Arts Council of Mendocino County at

You may also request to receive a nomination form by email or mail by calling 707.463.2727.

The 2016 Mendocino County Arts Champions receiving recognition last October.

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Good advice on SF1st (Alt-Right Wants Photo Op Of Battle Royale With Golden Gate Bridge As Backdrop And The Left Should Not Give It To Them):

As San Francisco braces for an invasion of unknown size of alt-right and white nationalist factions a week from Saturday, one vital thing still does not seem to have gotten through to those on the left and those who believe that fascism must be met with loud, angry anti-fascist resistance: You are giving them what they want by showing up.

It may seem insane, and antithetical to all that the Bay Area represents to many of us, to allow and implicitly condone the presence of groups who spout racial hatred like those who showed up to rally in Charlottesville last weekend. But they are coming, they have a legal right to gather, and while protest of various creative kinds should take place, battles with sticks, shields, and pepper spray should not. The sooner the passionate foes of racism and fascism understand this, the better off this country will be.

Perhaps the liberal youth of 2017 needs to be reminded that the most powerful images of the civil rights era came out of acts of passive resistance that were met with violence and rage...

Rob's Comment:

An article on "virtue signalling" in last Sunday's NY Times is, well, timely:

We all want to be good. But often, what we want more is for others to know just how good we are...Do these people really care deeply about the issue du jour? They probably aren’t, after all, out volunteering to solve the problem. What if they’re motivated, above all else, by simply looking like people who care?

…This sort of ostentatious concern is, according to some diagnoses, endemic to the political left. A writer for the conservative website The Daily Caller wrote this summer that virtue signaling ‘‘has been universalized into a sort of cultural tic’’ on the left, ‘‘as compulsive and unavoidable as Tourette’s syndrome.”

There are plenty on the left who might agree. It’s not difficult to find, in conversations among progressives, widespread eye-rolling over a certain type of person: the one who will take a heroic stance on almost any issue — furious indignation over the casting of a live-action ‘‘Aladdin’’ film, vehement defense of Hillary Clinton’s fashion choices, extravagant emotional investment in the plight of a group to which the speaker does not belong — in what feels like a transparent bid for the praise, likes and aura of righteousness that follows…

That doesn't mean not going to public demonstrations on this or any other issue. What many of us object to is the notion that opposing the alt-right means taking clubs and pepper spray and fists to wage literal battle in the streets with the neo-fascists. That will only lead down the violent, dead-end path taken by the Weather Underground in the 1970s.

I've written about this ultra-left political tendency before: Black bloc: White punks in black and Risk-free rebellion by BART protesters and If you have to wear a mask...

(Rob Anderson, District5Diary)

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California confronts its Confederate past as monuments are abruptly removed

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"I HAVE A FOREBODING of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance."

— Carl Sagan, who died in 1996 long before the advent of social media.



  1. Craig Stehr August 18, 2017

    The Situation

    The worldly whir spins
    Faster and faster and faster
    Going nowhere like a spinning top
    Driving everybody into a condition
    Possessed by frantic, manic, and panic.
    Stop identifying with the body right now.
    Stop identifying with the mind right now.
    Presto, you are free from postmodernism!

    Craig Louis Stehr


    • LouisBedrock August 18, 2017

      “The mind is what the brain does.”

      Marvin Minsky,

  2. Bill Pilgrim August 18, 2017

    re: Online Comments of the Day.
    There are also millions of liberals and progressives who’ve been “hosed” by the system – who’s ability to earn a decent living and some economic security has been decimated by the neoliberal model that dominates. But we rarely see them blaming colored people for their plight. Many are educated enough and savvy enough to recognize that the entire economic infrastructure has been rigged by and for a small number of… white guys.

    • LouisBedrock August 18, 2017

      Trump is right. Stop the hypocrisy.

      Let’s tear down all of the statues of our Great White Fathers:
      Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton–and the rest of the slave owning Virginia Mafia.

      And of Teddy Roosevelt. And of all the Generals.

      And of Elvis Presley.

      • Bill Pilgrim August 18, 2017

        The remade Mount Rushmore:

        Frederick Douglas, Thoreau, Eleanor Roosevelt and…and…Jerry Garcia?

        • burnunit August 18, 2017

          ………..and Jerry would have been the first one trying to tear down his own statue!

        • LouisBedrock August 18, 2017

          Could we squeeze in Joseph Heller and Edna St. Vincent Millay? And I hereby confer American citizenship upon William Butler Yeats so he might be included on the mountain–even if the mountain does not encompass Ben Bulben.

      • Harvey Reading August 18, 2017

        Praise Allah! An idea whose time has come, in fact, one long overdue.

      • Jeff Costello August 18, 2017

        Without Elvis Presley, Trump wouldn’t know what to do with his hair.

  3. Harvey Reading August 18, 2017

    I’m waiting for the spiel from the Southern Baptists…

    • LouisBedrock August 18, 2017

      Jesus loves you, Harvey Abdul Reading.

      —Abdul Latif Bedrock

      • Harvey Reading August 18, 2017

        “…this I know…for the Bible tells me so…”

        • Harvey Reading August 18, 2017

          “…little ones to him belong…they are weak but he is STRONG…”

          Pretty much sums up every belief system on the planet as far as I am concerned.

  4. Scott Peterson August 18, 2017


    The taxpayers of Fort Bragg have a golden opportunity to get something done about the Old Coast Hotel situation at the Fort Bragg City Council meeting next week. The following information is taken from the annual filings of that particular nonprofit:

    Homeless People Fed in 2011 vs. 2016 = 37 / 32
    Homeless People Sheltered in 2011 vs. 2016 = 22 / 21
    Hospitality Center Revenue in 2011 vs. 2016 = $233,252 / $1,091,302
    Average Cost Per Person in 2011 vs. 2016 = $7,906 vs. $41,181

    All of that information is publicly available here: And it’s been there since Ms. Ruffing has been the City Manager. The fact that City Council members never bothered checking this information, and never held the City Manager’s feet to the fire for it is a teachable moment for the City of Fort Bragg.

    MCHC board members had no way of realizing what was happening. Why? Because MCHC’s president — Lynelle Johnson — has been hiding that information from them. Look at the Form 990s for 2015 and 2016. On Schedule O at the end, it says ‘No review [of this form] was or will be conducted [by the governing body]’. Seriously.

    There are 1.5 million nonprofits in the US today. Less than forty of them have ever had that policy written into their Form 990s. Five of them are in Mendocino County. Three of those have Fort Bragg addresses. Only one of them has that policy today. That’s the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center.

    If one good Fort Bragg citizen can’t confirm this information, bring it to the Fort Bragg City Council meeting next week and say something about it during the public comment session, nothing will change.

    Scott M. Peterson

  5. George Hollister August 18, 2017

    Despite all that is said about Mexicans taking jobs, jobs going overseas, and the system shafting workers; there is more opportunity now in Mendocino County, and the USA, for anyone who wants to work, and can pass a random drug test than there ever has been.

    Locally, good jobs are going begging in manufacturing, transportation, construction, retail, fire fighting, and forestry. The local problem is a lack of housing. But housing is not a limitation everywhere in the USA. Americans have always been ready to move to where the opportunity is, and that is exactly what they are doing. But the move is not West, but South and East.

    So why the complaining? Good jobs are going begging that do not require a college degree, just a good work ethic. A high school level ability in math, reading, and writing is an added plus. Vocational training is a plus as well.

    • LouisBedrock August 18, 2017

      Could you show us some classified advertisements for these jobs?

      • BB Grace August 18, 2017

        Could you provide what it is you would accept as a job that’s good enough for example?

        Your own career was good enough working at a public school afforded you home ownership, international travel, art, music, theatre, books, subscriptions, movies, concerts, all medical, getting out of jail and an addiction, goodness knows what else.

      • George Hollister August 18, 2017

        The mill in Ukiah has had a sign out front for so long, it has gotten rusty. Starts at $13 with 401K and health benefits. They expect and want you to advance. Passing a drug test is a requirement. MRC has been looking for people to work on their road crew as well. What is happening is good workers are being stolen from other construction companies, and government. CALFIRE needs fire fighters. Passing a drug test and getting through their version of boot camp is part of it. The pay and benefits are good. Foresters, and loggers are needed. Foresters need to have a college degree, loggers don’t and loggers make more money. Truck drivers are needed everywhere. Drug testing is part of the deal, and a Class A license. Pay starts at $20 an hour, plus overtime pay for hours over 8. Construction is facing a shortage all over the country, including here. Try to find someone to do almost any kind of construction work. You will wait, and you will pay.

        The big problem for many employers is the drug test requirement. Another big problem is finding people who are proficient at eight grade math. If you have to learn to read a tape, and have trouble with basic math, it is tough. Same goes for retail positions.

        There is active competition for quality workers. Those workers with a work ethic, can pass a drug test, and can function with eighth grade level education are highly sought after. Workers are more than ever able to find where the best work environment is, and get a job there. Companies and government agencies that provide a positive work environment have the advantage. Those with a poor work environment, are SOL.

        The biggest limitation for employers is finding people who show up to work on time, are reliable, do what they are instructed to do, want to better themselves, get along with their coworkers, are honest, and are committed. A functional knowledge of basic math, and the ability to read and write are a bonus.

        Talk to any employer. They will all tell you the same thing.

        Mexicans, illegal or otherwise, find this labor market to be heaven, despite not knowing English. Employers find Mexicans to be a God send, because they come equipped with a good work ethic. Minimum wage for Mexicans? Hardly. Look who is at the consoles, happily running the mill in Ukiah, making very good money with benefits.

        • Harvey Reading August 19, 2017

          You jerk, $13/hour is about what $2/hour was in 1970, not enough to live on then, and surely not enough to live on now. It ls sh*t wages, hardly enough to pay an employee’s costs of transportation.

          It’s difficult for bosses to find slave labor, as it should be, since slavery was made illegal the 19th Century. I listen to workers, not bosses. The boss class is for as*holes like you, who conveniently lie on a regular basis to keep working people in bondage.

        • LouisBedrock August 19, 2017

          “Talk to any employer. They will all tell you the same thing.”

          Can you offer any serious documentation for your many absurd claims?

    • Harvey Reading August 18, 2017

      Hollister, you are so completely full of sh*t that your drivel must be experienced, in black and white, to be believed. You really ought to be ashamed for the utter falsehoods that your peddle. But then, your type knows no shame.

      • BB Grace August 18, 2017

        How about giving me an example Mr. Reading? Could you provide a genuine example of your own shame?

        • Harvey Reading August 18, 2017

          Whut skool you went, ma’am?

      • George Hollister August 18, 2017

        Another part of what is going on that makes no sense at all, is getting a student loan to go to college. Unless the student is in a curriculum that offers an automatic high paying job upon graduation, going into debt to go to college is, as Forest Gump would say, stupid. The best advice to any student going to college is avoid student loan debt, and don’t buy the BS from your high school councilor. Student loan debt can, and too often is a mill stone hung around the neck. There are good paying jobs out there, for those willing to work, that pay enough to pay for your college. And the work, in itself, will make you a better person. Also, don’t forget the military as an option.

        If Ukiah had housing, it would be a good place for young people. There is work, and there is a college where those who wish to improve themselves can take night classes to improve math and communication skills. Ukiah needs to improve trade school opportunities. The housing issue is a big one.

        In the midst of all the Trump-Sanders negativity based on what was going on in the USA about 20 years ago, it needs to be pointed out, that times have changed, mostly due to demographics. Here in Mendocino County there may end up being some young families seeking employment due to changes in the pot economy. Hey, the work is there people. The opportunities are better than I have ever seen around here. If you own your own place, or have a secure rental, you are rich.

        • Harvey Reading August 19, 2017

          More bullsh*t Hollister. Yeah, times have changed, since the early 70s. Real wages have plummeted. Only a right-wing as*hole like you would peddle the lies you peddle, albeit with an extremely pompous air. You give me the impression of someone born to relative affluence, who tends to look down condescendingly upon us commoners, ever peddling the lies about what great opportunities there are, if only we make the struggle. Well, Georgie boy, go f*ck yourself. Working people have had a bellyful, and we know our real enemies. They include jerks like you.

        • LouisBedrock August 19, 2017

          Absolute bullshit for which he offers no documentation.

          George thinks he’s Jehovah and by merely uttering, “Let there be jobs”, there are abundant decent paying jobs.

          There are few good jobs anywhere these days. Technology and globalization of capital have outflanked labor’s ability to organize and demand decent working conditions.

  6. LouisBedrock August 19, 2017

    “Your own career was good enough working at a public school afforded you home ownership, international travel, art, music, theatre, books, subscriptions, movies, concerts, all medical, getting out of jail and an addiction, goodness knows what else.”

    Not a bad biography of me by Grace, although I wish she had included the trips on THC, mescaline, and LSD; the parties, the demonstrations, and the rock concerts. Sex was pretty good too despite the brush with STDs. As we used to say, “It’s better to have Herpes than to have never loved at all.”

    While Grace and her inbred family and friends were donning white sheets, threatening and spitting on black children who wanted to attend all white southern schools, or organizing lynchings, my friends and I partied, got an education, demonstrated, and tried to change the world. We ultimately failed but, Hell, that’s why there are Churches, police forces, and the National Guard: to assure we fail.

    Some highlights of my life were being accepted to the English Literature Graduate Program at The University of Pennsylvania, although ultimately I could not attend because I couldn’t afford the tuition; getting an MA from Temple in Adult Ed and Applied Linguistics—I graduated “With Distinction”; and the frustrations and joys of my many teaching jobs.

    Most of my fellow Hippie friends went on to have careers as lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, accountants, and social workers; some died in accidents and some died in Vietnam.

    There are things I wish I had not done; things I wish I had done better; and things I wish I had done. Nevertheless, I’ve come out OK. As I’ve written before, this is due more to luck than to wisdom.

    Grace’s luck has not been as good as mine; therefore, I shall stop demeaning her. “There, but for fortune, …” I dislike her, but I recognize that what she’s become is not her fault. I just drew better cards.

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