- DACA Ending
- Smoky Air
- Annihilation Option
- Little Dog
- Big Club
- Yorkville Social
- Blackbird Violations
- FB BBQ
- Bed Tax
- Comptche Arts
- No Clases
- Modern School
- Leadership Mendocino
- Strike Team
- Plea Bargaining
- Prop 215
- Empty Pedestals
- Yesterday's Catch
- Red Cross
- To Hell
- Hurricane Lessons
- Amazon Foods
- Why Trump
PRESIDENT TRUMP has decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, sources have confirmed. Two sources close to the president told Politico on Sunday that he made his decision after an afternoon meeting with his aides. DACA is an Obama-era initiative that grants work permits to more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country by family members as children. There will reportedly be a six month delay before the repeal is enforced. The official announcement regarding the decision is expected to come Tuesday.
SMOKE AND HAZE from the wildfires in Northern California and Southern Oregon continue to impact air quality in Mendocino County. A persistent High-pressure over California along with north winds has transported smoke from these wildfires into Mendocino County. The forecast suggests the high pressure will influence our air quality for most of this week and the next. Above normal temperatures contribute to higher pollutant levels. Currently air monitors show particulate matter concentrations in the ‘Moderate' to 'Unhealthy' ranges for parts of Mendocino County. This may continue for most of September until the fires are out and cooler temperatures return with southwest winds. Residents are advised to limit prolonged heavy outdoor activity where possible.
(Mendocino County Air Quality Management District.)
US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE James Mattis has raised the threat of the “total annihilation” of North Korea in the aftermath of an early morning hydrogen bomb test by North Korea. In a terse statement outside the White House on Sunday afternoon, Mattis said that Trump had been briefed on each of the “many military options” available during a meeting with national security heads. “We made it clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, South Korea and Japan, from any attack and that our agreements with our allies are iron-clad,” he said. He said that the US had the ability to implement a “massive” and “overwhelming” military response as one of its many available options in the wake of the 100-kiloton bomb test, which caused a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. “We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country — namely North Korea,” he said, “but as I said, we have many options to do so.” He then left without answering any questions. President Trump was not seen during the announcement.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “We trust you people to do the right thing, but look what you've done. You've placed the fate of the entire world in the hands of the two craziest two-footers in it!”
“IT’S A BIG CLUB, and you ain’t in it.”
– George Carlin
CODE ENFORCEMENT, MENDO STYLE
Property Owner: Pathways in Education (aka Blackbird Farm, 18601 Van Zandt Resort Road, Philo)
Parcel Numbers: 026-392-21, -22, -23, -24, -25, -30, -31
Zoned: TP (#24 zoned FL)
Date: August 15, 2016. Case #BI_2016-0075
“You are hereby officially notified as the owner of record for the above referenced property that the following structures and/or uses have been found to be in violation of Mendocino County Building and/or Zoning Codes:
- Unpermitted grading of access roads.
- Unpermitted grading/excavation activities.
- Unpermitted remodel and failure to obtain a certificate of occupancy before use as an Assembly Barn.
- Yurt #1 — Unpermitted structure, restrooms, and deck. Lack of approved heat source — Unvented gas heater observed.
- Yurt #2 — Unpermitted structure, restrooms, and deck. Lack of approved heat source — Unvented gas heater observed.
- Hoop House #1 — Unpermitted structure being used as a cook area with extension cords for electricity running to it.
- Hoop House #2 — Unpermitted structure.
- Unpermitted zipline and platform.
- Unpermitted storage containers.
- Improper fuel and battery storage in the storage container area.
CODE VIOLATIONS: (Cited: Building code re: grading, use & occupancy, construction, remodel, repair, County Code re: remodeling requirements. Mechanical Code re: appliances and venting.
CORRECTION ACTION REQUIRED:
- STOP ALL UNPERMITTED WORK.
- Stop use of Barn as assembly area and of all other unpermitted structures until all permits and Certificates of Occupancy have been obtained.
- Immediately remove gas heaters from both Yurt buildling.
- Within thirty (30) days of the date of this notice or by September 12, 2016, obtain building permits for all the unpermitted structures and grading/excacating activities.
- Immediately implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) as directed by the Planning and Building department to address the unpermitted grading.
- The fuel storage and battery stoarge issues have been turned over to the Mendocino County Environmental Health Dept., which may take further action.
- Withing thirty days of the sate of this notice, or by September 12, 2016, obtain a permit for the zipline and platform or remove them from site.
- It is your responsibility to immediately contact the Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Department upon abatement or the above noted conditions.
PENALTY: At this time there are no civil penalties associated with this Notice of Violation. If you do not obtain compliance within the time alloted, this Notice of Violation (NOV) and any Violation Fees may be recorded against the title of your property and you could be subject to criminal prosecution, a civil lawsuit and a declaration of a public nusiance which could result in formal administrative abatement of the violations.
DUE PROCESS: If you do not complete the corrective actions above within the alloted time period civil penalites could be imposed and This Notice of Violation and any penalties will be recorded against the title of your property. You will be required to demonstrate to the Issuing Officer that the violations have been corrected within the time period indicated. You may also present any evidence, in writing to the Issuing Officer indicating your opposition to this Notice of Violation.
Sean R. Flanagan, Code Enforcment Officer
707-0234-6678, email: Flanagans@co.mendocino.ca.us
* * *
ED NOTE: It’s been over a year now since the above “Notice of Violation” and demand for “immediate” corrective action was sent to Blackbird Farm, Philo. The Planning & Building Services file for Blackbird Farm contains no evidence of follow-up by Planning & Building. Blackbird has filed no opposition, no response. No follow-up from the County after the “immediately” or “within 30 days” deadlines. No action taken whatsoever. When the AVA asked for a copy of the Notice of Violation from which the above was typed, Code Enforcement Office Lisa Washburn simply supplied it without objection or comment — even though on its face the violations are major and it’s been over a year with no action by the county.
BLACKBIRD’S NEIGHBORS report that all the buildings and structures mentioned as being in violation continue to be used without modification, including the use of the unsafe zipline by student campers and the rental of the unsafe Yurts via airbnb.
AND YOU WONDER why some pot growers are expanding their operations and facilities without permits, thus generating numerous neighbor complaints that go un-acted upon?
VACATION RENTALS NEED TO PAY TAXES
We were amazed at how much the county is losing in taxes each year for the lack of enforcement of bed taxes on vacation rentals. Bed tax, officially known as the transient occupancy tax or TOT, is charged at hotels, motels and resorts and anyplace where people stay temporarily. As the vacation rental business grows among ordinary folks with an extra room or a cabin out back, the collection of the bed taxes has been lagging behind. According to a recent report to the county supervisors, as of two years ago the county had lost something in the range of $1 million in bed taxes on unreported vacation rentals. The county is discussing putting limits on vacation rentals and we agree with the 45-day ban they passed as of Aug. 1. Housing is hard enough to find in this county without absentee property owners scarfing up housing and then holding it for expensive part-time vacation income. The other sector that isn’t paying is private campgrounds. With what facilities like KOAs charge for their cabins and full RV hookups, they can afford to turn some of that over to the county. The county plans to put that idea on the ballot next June and we see no reason not to support it. We are glad to hear that many of the property owners contacted by the county recently have paid up, but it looks like the county needs to do more to educate property owners, limit vacation rentals entirely, and track down the rentals that are operating under the radar. It’s frankly not fair to the hotels and motels that do pay, to have competition out there getting a free ride. And, even the smallest top floor room in an Air B&B home, is charging enough to pay the 8 percent tax.
(K.C. Meadows. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)
COMPTCHE CELEBRATES THE ARTS & WINE, SEPT 23, 2-6
We invite you to share a day of Art, Wine & fun in Comptche at the Community Hall on the Comptche/Ukiah Road 1/4 mile East of the Store. Each autumn we gather local Wines & neighboring Artists to celebrate Comptche and benefit our Community Hall. Everyone is welcome. Mark your Calendars & make a plan to join our festivities on a late September Saturday. Call Lynne Zickerman, Coordinator, for questions 937-3362
AND THESE ARE THE TEACHERS?
I've never understood why "Buses Only" has to be in Spanish for the little darlings but now. I do.....
Even the "teachers" & "administrators" have a difficult time with "clases" (sic)
Your tax dollars at work?
Chan Lee, Horticultural Consultant to the Stars, Philo
WHATEVER EXCITEMENT was generated for local students in the initial rush of Back to School Fever is long since past and in fact was extinguished by mid-morning on the first day. Now comes endless drudgery and boredom until next June, which will take eight years in teenage time. Burdened by heavy backpacks, surrounded by dull instructors and forced to bury their noses in books that cause frontal lobe paralysis, yet another generation of kids is being mistreated and abused. By us. No matter how bad you think it is, it’s worse. I recently strolled over to Pomolita Middle School to inspect the grounds. I have personally visited medium security prisons with a more inviting ambience. Go check it out. It’s definitely worth a walk around the campus, although the word “campus” is misleading. Pomolita is not a lush, leafy, inviting place. It is, in fact, mostly harsh pavement with some cheap trailer-style boxes joined end-to-end at its western edge. Classrooms, I guess…
— Tommy Wayne Kramer, Ukiah Daily Journal
* * *
HERE IN BOONVILLE, circa 1955, Anderson Valley Unified abandoned its graceful old high school for the medium security prison architecture in which our nation's future is confined for 12 years, emerging at the other end with minds as uncluttered as when they began.
AS FAR BACK as the Acropolis, the assumption was that learning is enhanced by the aesthetics it takes place in, that learning was central, that the school was a crucial community institution that reflected the priorities of everyone who lived in it. Beauty being a primary value to be instilled in young savages, care was taken with the "learning environment."
THE PIONEER FAMILIES of Anderson Valley, for instance, like pioneer American families everywhere, erected modest but beautiful schools, many of them the one-room affairs like the one we have in Anderson Valley, lately preserved as a museum.
SIMPLY entering a modern school is a dispiriting experience. Long, unadorned hallways with maybe an idiot cartoon character placed here and there, cancer-causing materials comprising a kind of desensitization chamber, not a single sight that might so much as hint that there's intelligent life anywhere on the premises. The modern school is a kind of house of the dead where a young person's every instinct screams, "Get me out!"
LEADERSHIP MENDOCINO, which seems your basic oxymoron given the civic functioning of our beloved home place.
THE GUALALA Dust Bowl Softball League features a team called the “Rednexicans,” further evidence that race relations, at least here in Mendocino County, are copacetic.
THIS ANDERSON VALLEY STRIKE TEAM has been assigned to night shift. This picture is from Friday night on the Helena Fire outside of Weaverville.
RECOMMENDED READING: In the current Atlantic, "Innocence Is Irrelevant" by Emily Yoffe. "For most of its history, the United States relied on the trial system to administer criminal justice. Not anymore. We live in the age of the plea bargain — and millions of Americans are suffering the consequences."
THIS ARTICLE substantiates via stats and irrefuted argument that district attorneys are meting out justice in this country as public defenders sign off on whatever punishment the DA comes up with. That's certainly the way it works here in Progressive County where, fortunately for our miscreants, we have a sane and mercifully-disposed DA dealing mostly with misdemeanors committed by people who ought to be locked up for their own safety. The DA works with our Potemkin public defender who stays in office by staying within her budget, meaning she's always up for Let's Make A Deal, which is cheaper than going to trial and hiring outside experts. Her staff turns over so fast the DA is typically dealing with some kid just out of law school. (And there's talk of further dumbing down the BAR exam!) There's also an overcrowded county jail and an overcrowded state prison system, all of it adding up to an overwhelming necessity for plea bargaining.
DA MASSINI EXPLAINS PROPOSITION 215
AVA News Service, December 1996
In December of 1996 former KZYX talk show host (the late-) Ed Kowas — himself a former judge who had moved to Mendocino from the midwest — invited then-District Attorney Susan Massini to be his guest on his “On The Record” show. Proposition 215, California’s groundbreaking medical marijuana initiative had just passed. But the legal ramifications were unclear. Kowas asked DA Massini what a person who wanted to use the medical marijuana defense would have to do to avoid prosecution under the Proposition 215 guidelines.
* * *
Kowas: You have said that the marijuana initiative thus far provides an affirmative defense. That means that a person can allege that at trial as the reason they may have, technically, violated a law. When that happens, in my view, the system has failed. Because in my view that is something that should be nipped in the bud. If there’s going to be a successful affirmative defense, that should be found out clearly in advance and either prosecution dismissed or prosecution not brought.
Massini: Exactly. I agree.
Kowas: So. Let’s use this forum to tell somebody who feels they have a legitimate type situation. They have a legitimate illness. And they have asked their physician to prescribe it. The physician has prescribed it. What should they do in terms of preparation, by that I mean paperwork, letters, affidavits, that would allow them to present that to you in the event they were charged or arrested for it. That they would be able to come to you and say here’s my file, here’s my evidence. I have prepared for this moment in order to stop prosecution. What should be in their file? What do you want?
Massini: Firstly, I want people to be clear that it is still illegal to operate a vehicle or be in public under the influence of marijuana. Prop 215 is not a defense to being found with this stuff. Now, let’s talk about those things you consider it [Prop 215] a defense to. All that would have to happen is either you, you could wait until you’re appointed an attorney, if you have an attorney, or if you are charged with a crime and if one is appointed to you, then that attorney can represent you, come to my office with your medical file, the proof that you have been diagnosed as having a condition that needs some treatment and that the doctor has recommended and then that will be considered. So you need to have your doctor in line with agreeing that his name… the doctor has to be, um, in agreement. You just can’t come to me and say, “Well I went to a doctor and he said it was OK to use it.” That is not going to be sufficient.
Kowas: Alright. Did you just indicate then that if somebody is arrested for possession of marijuana, and they feel they have this defense, they can’t talk to you until after they have an attorney? They can’t somehow nip this in the bud?
Massini: Yes, they can.
Kowas: Pardon the pun.
Massini: Of course. Yeah, I know. That was very funny. Yes they can. I’m just suggesting that sometimes… it’s oftentimes… An attorney knows what I need to know. A lay person doesn’t know what I need to know, necessarily. And I don’t want to have people find themselves in a position where they are simply incriminating themselves more by coming to talk to me. I think that would be counterproductive and not fair. That’s the ony reason that I said that. That if they wanted to wait for an attorney that it would always be wise. And um, there are just so many technicalities that you have to learn over the number of years over how you can present evidence, what evidence is admissible, those kinds of things, but I don’t want people to just kind of walk in my office, and kind of lay it all out there and then find themselves, that they have just exposed their, for example, medical history and it really doesn’t qualify. A defense attorney could evaluate that. And then they could bring that to me. That’s the only reason. I’m not trying to confuse or make things even more convoluted. I’m just trying to make things fair and clear, so that we can move forward without causing people any more problems than they have already had.
Kowas: Ok. Can’t we make some progress? It sounds like you are making this possibly unnecessarily adversarial when we already have an overcrowded system. I mean, we’ve got smart people out there. These people file TROs, and lawsuits, and argue themselves in court, and get themselves arrested… they know the law. We’re talking about a reasonably sophisticated group of people…
Massini: Absolutely. Well, not exactly.
Kowas: …who can understand how they can prepare for a commonsense approach once their neighbor calls and reports them and a police officer comes out. Should they have a file ready?
Kowas: Should they open it up for the police officer?
Kowas: Or maybe they should wait for somebody on a higher level? They want to avoid going to court. They want to avoid an actual arrest. They want to avoid, very possibly, there being an incursion by the feds. Once there was an arrest there would be an official file. They would have access to it and they could find out who the doctor is and go hassle the doctor. They want to try and work with this on a goodwill, commonsense basis.
Massini: Well. Number one, the police officer isn’t in a position to make that evaluation. They are not going to avoid being arrested, under the, for the most part. There may be some situations. But the police officer isn’t in a position to evaluate whether the medical records are sufficient to create a defense. That’s not their job. Their job is to see whether or not that the person has violated the technical portions of the law. And um, developing… or deciding whether a murder or a homicde was done in self defense, or was justifiable, or whatever… that may be the end result, but that is not up to the police officer to make the determination at the time of the investigation. They get all the statements… And I think it would be very important for the person to tell the officer at the time, and make sure, that it’s included in the report that they are using, or they are growing, or they have in their possession, their marijuana for medical purposes. Because if that’s not told to the police officer, then it’s going to appear, or could appear, like, “Oh! Gee. I’ve got this arrest now, maybe I should use that medical marijuana defense.” But if you tell the officer right up front, that will be included in the report and then it will be part of the information that will come to me. We’ll trigger the concept that that will be a defense at the time of whatever hearing, if we ever have a hearing, and if there is a defense attorney involved, I can then, or my deputy can then, approach the defense attorney and say. “Listen, your client says that he was, he or she was, using this marijuana for medical purposes. Do you have the material available so that I can review to see if this is a legitimate defense so that we can get rid of this case before it goes to court?” There are all those kinds of things that we can do. So that I think is the best advice, that if truly you are using it for medical purposes and you do have the records and you do have a doctor who will be able to come forward and say that they recommended it and have their name used and I know that there are doctors who are willing to do that so that’s not any problem, and that there are medical records to back up the kind of medical condition that you have and that the doctor has evaluated you and said this is the kind of medical condition that could benefit from marijuana, then that could be presented.
Kowas: Ok. So we’re making some progress now. You’re saying that a person should, if a police officer comes up to them and asks for a consensual search. That as that progresses they should clearly get it across to the police officer that they have a right to, that they have an affirmative defense, that they have a right to have it in that arrest report so that…
Massini: Oh yes.
Kowas: …when it comes to you, or your deputy, that would be presented to your deputy, and the deputy would be alerted that this is a possible affirmative defense, and that will then trigger a special type of investigation…
Kowas: …in which the person has asked to come in to the District Attorney’s Office and explain to the deputy what information they have.
Massini: Well, I’m certainly not going to call up the defendant and ask him to come down and talk to me. And, I mean…
Kowas: No. They would have the right to call you and say they’d like to come down and talk to you and bring their file.
Massini: Yes. Yes.
Kowas: Okay. Is there a possibility that the system could reach a level high enough such that, again, I’m talking about the absolute white case, not a gray area case…”
Kowas: …in which a person has all of the qualifications for it and wants to avoid an embarrassing situation. Is there the possibility that they would be able to get assistance… let’s say from whoever… I don’t think Redwood Legal Services could, but let’s just say that there’s somebody prepared to help them put this file together… that they would be able to, on a pre-emptive basis, go to Alan Van Stralen [a deputy DA] or whoever, and call and make an appoitnment or whatever…?
Massini: No. No.
Kowas: And on a particular date…
Massini: No, no, no no no.
Kowas: And bring in a file and say…
Massini. No. No.
Kowas: That makes too much sense?
Massini: No. That makes, um, I mean… No.
Kowas: Why not? I mean…What we’re trying to do…
Massini: Because, number one, Alan is already so busy. Alan is already so busy… He is more than a full time attorney over there working his little tail off. He does not need a line of people, that he then has to sit down and evaluate the medical records and then call the doctors on a pre-emptive strike, in case they happen to, for some reason, get arrested, some time in the future… That is a burden that I don’t intend to put on any deputies.
Kowas: Well, is there anybody in your office that would do that? You’re saying the only reason he’s not going to do it is because he’s too busy?
Massini: Well, it’s also silly. It’s all so silly.
Kowas: Why is it silly:? It seems to me… Let’s just say that I had cancer. And it was recommended to me. And I wanted to do that. And I definitely did not want to get arrested. I would want to take preventative steps.
Massini: Well, now, under what circumstances do you think that you would be arrested if you had cancer? And in the privacy of your own home were smoking some marijuana to do whatever the doctors say it will do? Under what circumstances do you think that you could possibly be arrested with the marijuana on you?
Kowas: Oh! I think very easily! Let’s just say I’m going from the doctor’s office which is somewhere on Highway 101 and it’s the marijuana bust pot highway patrol day, and I have a taillight that’s out and the officer wants to search the car, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with…
Massini: Well, if the officer wants to search the car, why would you be foolish enough to say, ‘Sure, go ahead’?”
Kowas: Because of the fact that we want to do things right. If you don’t want to search… I don’t know. I’m fishing around here.
Massini: Well you don’t have to have a… If an officer asks you, “May I search your car,” and you’re silly enough to say Yes, knowing that you have marijuana in your car, then you get what you deserve. We’ll deal with it after later.
Kowas: But if you’re legitimately carrying marijuana… We’re just not getting to the point on this thing. If I’m legimately, if the citizen is legimately…
Massini: No. What you’re doing is asking to create a scene. And, I don’t, or asking to create an incident so that, and I think that would be very counterproductive to someone who has cancer, and is already under a great deal of stress.
Kowas: I think it’s a lot more stressful to fear that you’re in violation of the law, when, in fact, you’re not. If you could get some kind of a clearance on this thing. I don’t know. Maybe Sheriff Tuso is even willing to do something.
Massini: Yes. Ask him. See if he’s willing to do anything.
Kowas: The multi-million dollar bureaucracy ought to be in a position so that people who are already in a very frail condition, whose judgment is not all that good, whose lifestyle is not going to be enhanced by the fact that they might get arrested, and they fear being arrested… It seems like it could extend a little distance here in order to give insurance on a case-by-case basis. I don’t think you’re going to have a whole long line of people…
Massini: Oh yes you would! In Mendocino County you would have a whole line of people. I guarantee it. And if you don’t think so then you’re not being real.
Kowas: Why don’t we try it?
Massini: No. I don’t think so. You can ask Sheriff Tuso if he’s willing to try it. They are the officers who do the arrests. Perhaps he could have a whole list of people who weren’t allowed to be arrested for marijuana. Then he could pass it around to his deputies. Then they wouldn’t even need to get arrested!
Kowas: Ok. All right. Well. We’re out of time here.
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 3, 2017
ANDRE ARI, Clearlake/Ukiah. Willful cruelty to child, loaded firearm in public.
LAUREL BELDEN, Ukiah. Harboring a wanted felon, under influence.
LUIS CHAVEZ, Philo. Misdemeanor Hit&Run with property damage.
RICHARD CHRISTENSEN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SKYLER DOTY, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ALICIA ELLIOTT, Covelo. Probation revocation.
CODY FURLINE, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.
TAMMY GILCHRIST, Willits. DUI, misdemeanor hit&run, suspended license (for DUI).
RANDOLPH GUEVARA, Ukiah. DUI, no license probation revocation.
MELISSA HOPLOCK, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
BENITO LOYA, Woodridge/Willits. DUI with priors, suspended license.
JERRY MEAGHER, San Mateo/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ANTONIO OROZCO, Ukiah. Receiving stolen property, failure to appear.
ZARCHARY RABY, Redwood Valley/Willits. DUI, suspended license, resisting, probation revocation.
ROLANDO RUIZ, Ukiah. Under influence.
ROBERT SALES, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JENNA TARANGO, Orland/Ukiah. DUI.
CHRISTINA TORRES, Hopland. Under influence, probation revocation.
WATER VANSANT, Ukiah. Saps/similar, probation revocation.
KENNETH WHIPPLE, Covelo. Community supervision violation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I suggest that those who believe in the purity and correct political stances of the Red Cross and their own preferred sky-god[s] continue to do so. Yes, believe more harderer, if you please. Don’t remove yourself from flood plains and continue with the refining of deadly chemicals in these “convenient” locations. Soldier on by paving the place over with concrete and asphalt to facilitate a titanic herd of automobiles and automotive dependency. Rebuild! Hope! Pray! These are the only reasonable responses to our looming predicaments and will mitigate them handily. (Okay, [almost] enough snotty sarcasm.)
Seriously though, our regional NPR station’s president, micro-manager and ideologically-rigid blowhard of the first order, shut down regular scheduling to have a 50 grand fundraising day for the Red Cross. (This guy also believes everything he reads in the New York Times and is a *raging* Russophobe… not that there’s anything wrong with that… well, maybe there is.)
Let’s just have a little look into what has happened to the massive amount of funds for Harvey Flood Relief that Le Croix-Rouge has raked in, shall we? (…Along with a few other instances that reek of dead fish.)
TO HELL WITH REALITY! I want to die in music, not in reason or in prose. People don't deserve the restraint we show by not going into delirium in front of them. To hell with them!
LITERARY CRITICISM OF VERY BAD POEMS: Part II of III
by Louis S. Bedrock
The Starspangled Banner
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
(“Oh, say can you see…” Are you serious?
Does dawn have a late light?
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
(Uhh, what is the antecedent of “What”?
Hailed? Like a taxi?
“Last gleaming” Oh no! Does that imply it will never gleam again?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
Antecedent of “whose”?
I wouldn’t call the stripes broad. The stars on the flag are not bright.)
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
Why two question marks when one would have sufficed?
Gallantly streaming? WTF?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
I suppose they did. But who cares?
This is the most dreadful doggerel
Oh, say does that starspangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Starspangled? Give me a break.
All of the brave and the free were murdered by European-Christian vermin.
EXCITING FALSEHOODS tend to do well in the perpetual referenda, and become self-validating. A search for almost any “alternative” theory or belief seems to generate more links to true believers’ pages and sites than to legitimate or skeptical ones, and those tend to dominate the first few pages of results. For instance, beginning in the ’90s, conspiracists decided that contrails, the skinny clouds of water vapor that form around jet-engine exhaust, were composed of exotic chemicals, part of a secret government scheme to test weapons or poison citizens or mitigate climate change—and renamed them chemtrails. When I Googled chemtrails proof, the first seven results offered so-called evidence of the nonexistent conspiracy. When I searched for government extraterrestrial cover-up, only one result in the first three pages didn’t link to an article endorsing a conspiracy theory.
— Kurt Andersen
THE WORST PART is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself.”
WE RISK BEING THE FIRST PEOPLE in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so 'realistic' that they can live in them.
CAN THE POLITICIANS HEED THE LESSONS OF HURRICANE HARVEY?
by Ralph Nader
Hovering Hurricane Harvey, loaded and reloading with trillions of gallons of water raining down on the greater Houston region—ironically the hub of the petroleum refining industry—is an unfolding, off the charts tragedy for millions of people. Many of those most affected are minorities and low-income families with no homes, health care or jobs to look forward to once the waters recede.
Will this tragedy teach us the lessons that so many politicians and impulsive voters have been denying for so long?
The first lesson is that America must come home: we must end the Empire of Militarism and of playing the role of policeman of the planet. Both of these habitual roles are backfiring and depleting trillions of taxpayer dollars that could be better used toward rebuilding our country’s infrastructure, strengthening our catastrophe-response networks and preparing for the coming megastorms like Hurricane Harvey. A projected trillion dollars being spent by Obama, and now Trump, just to upgrade nuclear weapons will only spur another arms race with Russia and China. This money could be more productively spent protecting Americans from immediate threats, such as natural disasters from man-made climate change.
Politicians must stop overstuffing a bloated military budget and leaving our country fiscally unprepared to handle mass epidemics and mass megastorms. In short, will they stop leaving our country defenseless against the prospects of huge levels of mortality and morbidity?
Second, Congressional and White House deniers of man-made climate disruption must renounce their dogmatic ignorance and confront the reality in the scientific warnings about the accelerating wrath of a provoked natural world.
Last month, I asked Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe—who has called climate change a “hoax”—what level of evidence would change his mind about climate change. He has not replied yet. But that is the question that should be asked of all Trumpsters, including the voters who share their disregard: Just what series of climate events – what piles of scientific measurements and documentations now in the Arctic, the Andes, Antarctica, Greenland, the Maldives, etc. – could change their minds?
Third, our elected officials must accept that continuing to waste trillions of dollars on corporate subsidies, bailouts, giveaways and lack of enforcement of costly crime—crony capitalism—further weakens our country’s capacity to foresee and forestall omnicidal disasters.
Enough, also, of the Congressional Republicans starving the IRS budget so it cannot collect more of the many billions of dollars in uncollected global corporate taxes. These Republicans don’t seem to connect the size of deficits, which they detest, with uncollected tax revenue, now estimated by the IRS to exceed $350 billion a year.
Maybe someone should finally write a book entitled “Listen, Voters.” It could start by asking why enough voters keep electing politicians, who sweet talk them, only hook up with corporations and an ideology of corporatism that adversely affects the very voters who put them into office, along with many other Americans. If these voters, who so often vote against their own interests, do a little homework before Election Day, they can easily separate the fakers and the sell outs from the real candidates, who may not have silver tongues and corporate backing, but have a consistent record of being on the side of the people.
Voters need to be more demanding if they are to break the chains of a rigged electoral system that deprives them of choice, of voice and, most importantly, of the sovereign power they possess in our Constitution.
The August 29, 2017 Washington Post paused from its extensive coverage of the destruction in Houston to laud the “Flood of Courage” in its lead editorial. It wrote of the “massive – and inspiring – volunteer rescue response…With nothing more than their own courage, good people ventured into the rushing gullies and culverts, risking their lives to save others in the unrelenting rain.”
While Trump tweets and hopefully reconsiders his earlier cruel budget cuts for FEMA and other life-saving federal agencies – such as the Centers for Disease Control and the EPA – the people are swinging into action on the ground. May they swing into wise and just action in the next elections – both as new candidates and, high horizon, informed voters. For there is a much better America to be had.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
I STOPPED BY the new Amazon-owned Whole Foods store to see what had changed. In addition to a few discounts — organic apples went from $2.99 to $1.99 per pound — I noticed a big display in the middle of the produce section. “Farm Fresh,” it read. “Just Picked.” What agricultural product was this ad for? Amazon Echo — a wireless speaker. Presumably Amazon grew the electronic devices on a nearby farm and, once ripe, harvested them off the vine and shipped them to the produce aisle in my local Whole Foods.