- B Updates
- ICE Compliance
- Tree Lighting
- Bridge Stewards
- Little Dog
- Kristofferson Sighting
- Ed Notes
- Yesterday's Catch
- Worthless People
- Fire Refugees
- Four Suits
- 80th Birthday
- Fire Preparedness
- Tosh Memoir
- Featured Artist
- Housing Bills
- Jewish Refugees
- Bush Legacy
- Shockingly Dead
- Moscariello Show
- Wildfire Vulnerability
- Miserable Life
- Uncle Bucky
- Found Object
SO FAR we can’t find any video of the November 28, 2018 Mental Health Treatment Act/Measure B Oversight Committee meeting. Based on brief reports in other places, the main recommendation coming out of the November 28 meeting was a proposal to add two new mobile outreach units to the existing three which now cover the County’s more rural locations such as north county (north of Willits), the south coast and Anderson Valley. The units try to help people with mental health issues before they become an emergency. They are not set up to be a crisis response unit, but could be in the future.
County Auditor Lloyd Weer said that the sales tax increment revenues from Measure B are running about $600,000 per month and are now up to well over $3 million. He suggested that the committee prepare its own budget and hire an "executive director." The committee will consider these suggestions at next month's oversight committee meeting.
The next day Sheriff Allman updated the Supervisors with similar summary information saying that they did not have a written report for the November 28 meeting so the Board would have to accept his oral report, such as it was.
Allman said that the Measure B committee heard from representatives of Adventist Health in Willits who operate the new Howard Hospital in Willits. Apparently they made a presentation about a six bed psychiatric health facility at the New Howard hospital facility. The Adventists in Ukiah are also working on a preliminary presentation about remodeling their old intensive care unit which was vacated recently when they moved into their new facility next door on Hospital Drive in Ukiah.
"We are continuing the conversation on old Howard Hospital," said Sheriff Allman. "And where we are going on it. No one has said no, and no one has said yes."
"The Redwood Quality Management facility idea on Orchard Lane in Ukiah is still progressing," the Sheriff added. "I don't want to misspeak on that, but Camille Schraeder gave a full presentation on this regarding the property which has been purchased and the need for funds to build a crisis stabilization unit that would follow the psychiatric health facility."
The Measure B Oversight committee’s next meeting will be December 18, one week early due to the holidays.
SHERIFF ALLMAN ALSO updated the Board on the status of his office’s compliance with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) rules and California law. Allman first read the County/Sheriff’s Office policy that they do not enforce federal immigration laws and they do not arrest people solely for immigration violations (although we’ve seen a couple of bookings where “illegal entry” is the only charge). Allman then ran some federally required statistics that must be reported to the local “governing body” (i.e., the Supervisors). In 2017 there were 4700 bookings. Of those, there were 31 requests from ICE to detain arrestees. Of those 31, 15 were arrested by ICE. Four were still in custody on Dec. 31. Seven were released to other agencies. And two requests were withdrawn. Allman gave a copy of the report to the Clerk of the Board. Allman noted that the stats overall show that ICE showed an interest in very few people arrested with immigration violations, less than 1% of the 4700. The Board had no questions.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT HOW THE ALBION BRIDGE STEWARDS keep watch over Caltrans' geotechnical investigation that includes use of a helicopter next to the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge see Terrence Vaughn's Mendocino TV link: mendocinotv.com/2018/11/30/albion-bridge-stewards-vigil/
Caltrans and its subcontractors are continuing the geotechnical investigation of the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge with the use of a helicopter this week. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 20 minute delays.
Caltrans is also continuing the lead mitigation work with soil capping (using crushed rock/gravel and permeable fabric) below Salmon Creek Bridge this week.
Annemarie Weibel, Albion
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “These commies won't give me Wednesday off to mourn H.W. Bush, a dog guy and a combat pilot at age twenty. Might cost me my job, but if the pinkos try to fire me I know all you people have my back.”
SOCIAL NOTE: Last Friday night at the Albion River Inn, Kris Kristofferson was a dining guest. Kristofferson owns property near Elk and in recent years performed in Mendocino to a packed audience on behalf of the continued funding of local and state parks. Readers might recall that the state official in charge of funding for parks said the state was out of money to fund parks, but shortly after Kristofferson’s charity performance, the state money miraculously showed up after the state official in charge confessed it wasn’t really missing in the first place. Naturally, in accord with public employment, can-do-no-harm rules, and she was replaced without censure.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT wondered recently: "Five years later: How has Graton casino changed us?"
I'll take a stab at this one. I'd say it's done more than its share to degrade what's left on Sonoma County; one more disproportionately large pair of ugly structures without even the architectural imagination to design them as cash registers.
Of course this added blight on SoCo's landscape adds enormously to the already congested traffic on nearby 101, but the enormity of the casino and hotel parking lots neatly accommodates late night drug deals, discount sexual assignations, and the low rent crime typical of even the grandest gambling palaces, and certainly characteristic of Mendocino County's joyless casinos. Some of us may recall that SoCo's residual environmentalists pointed out that this appalling project would be built on a wetlands, which it was, and that nearby Rohnert Park, itself a study in ghastliness, and perennially short of water, meant the casino's great gulping wells would further deplete the town's exhausted aquifer. And all of it erected behind a facade of a vague Native American legacy fronted by a white American of entirely self-alleged NA heritage.
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THAT ETERNAL brow-furrower, 'What to do with Ukiah's Palace Hotel?' is again occupying the distracted attentions of the town's government, whose startlingly overpaid apparatus is seemingly unable to bring off the simplest, most obvious civic task other than the maintenance of their own lavish headquarters on Ukiah's westside.
AS UKIAH GOVERNMENTS have come and gone, the Palace has remained abandoned and crumbling for almost forty years. Periodically, there's a flurry of promises that the latest owners are poised to get it up and running again. (The Palace originally collapsed in a blizzard of arsons and collapsed cocaine financing in the early 1980's, one of the arsons undoubtedly the work of Vince Sisco, also a principal figure in the Fort Bragg arson fires of 1987.) The once gracious old hotel, and still, even abandoned, primary among Ukiah's scant architectural gems, is presently in receivership. But the receiver doesn't have the money to rehab it or to tear it down, and here we are. And will be.
BUT WAIT! The brain trust at Boonville's beloved weekly has an idea. Take the money accumulating from the passage of Measure B, Sheriff Allman's planned mental health facility now being smothered in endless meetings because the County's helping pros see it as a threat to their sinecures, and invest it in the Palace as a combined psych ward and homeless housing project. Helping professionals could live on site in the view suites on the upper floors, along with a mini-Sheriff's sub-station on the ground floor next door to a revived restaurant and bar. The only investment capital we seem to have in Mendocino County is the Sheriff's Measure B fund. Invest it in the Palace we say!
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WITH THE ANNOUNCED DEPARTURE of Jeffrey Parker, the invisible manager at KZYX — like Major-Major in Catch-22, Parker's in when he's out, out when he's in — we have an opportunity to save the club-like, pseudo-public radio station a few bucks by combining the gm's redundant position with the program manager's redundant position into one grand redundancy. Kidding aside, neither job is a full-time position, obviously, since the on-air line-up is virtually unchanged over thirty-plus years. What's to manage? What's to program? Won't happen of course, and here we go, off for another of Mendocino County's patented "national searches for excellence" for a new manager… when whaddaya know, his excellency has been sitting right next to us all this time! KZYX has had what? Forty managers since its dubious founding by a transient hustler named Donovan? And an enemies list that goes back to the station's founder, and arguably the only legacy enemy's list in the County.
GIVEN the givens of the enterprise it's probably impossible to finally install a smart, personable, human-type person in the top KZYX job, although it's easy money at roughly 60 grand a year. The program manager gets around fifty, and we have over a hundred thou just to do whatever they do.
I'VE ONLY HEARD ONE of KZYX's Back to the Land interviews conducted by Kate Magruder and Sarah Reith, and that was the one with David Raitt. I thought it was interesting and hope to hear more interviews with the back-to-the-landers. Raitt told some good stories about his early adventures on Greenfield Ranch and, in his way, is probably fairly typical of the city people who fled the urbs in the late 1960s, early 1970s in that he came from a well-to-do family. Most of the hippies I knew got regular cash support from their home fronts, and most of them reverted to conventional upper middleclass jobs and related comforts when the hippie period ended. There was definitely a dark side to the counterculture. If I have one enduring memory of that time it was of a totally stoned young woman, so stoned she was unaware that her under-dressed child, a boy of about three she'd named 'Further,' was whimpering from the cold of the frigid winter air. I'll bet that kid grew up to become a hedge fund manager and a registered Republican.
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MONDAY AFTERNOON'S power outage caused techno chaos at the mighty ava although it lasted only an hour. Without sharing the tedious details, we had to short last night's postings and they were posted later than we like, and all-in-all another reminder how dependent we are on an ever more centralized technology we don't understand beyond a few basic computer moves.
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HERE HE COMES: Former Vice President Joe Biden hinted at how seriously he was considering a presidential run, calling himself “the most qualified” person for the job during a stop on his book tour.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 3&4, 2018
BRANDON BARRETT-ELLIS, Willits. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL BOONE, Ukiah. Disobeying court order.
MAURILIO CASAREZ, Fort Bragg. DUI with priors, suspended license, probation revocation.
ZEBULON COUTHREN, Willits. Failure to appear. (Frequent Flyer)
NEGIE FALLIS IV, Felon-addict with firearm.
BRANDON GIBONEY, Fort Bragg. Trespassing/refusing to leave.
TRAVIS HAWK, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.
JEFFREY KOSTICK, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
MISTY NICKERSON, Laytonville. Disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JASON PITTMAN, Point Arena. DUI.
CECELIA REEVES, Ukiah. Petty theft, controlled substance, disobeying court order.
DYAN RILEY, Mendocino. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
REALIA SPECIALE, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
AARON STILL, Willits. Probation revocation.
JOSHUA THOMAS, Covelo. Probation revocation.
RODNEY TUCKER, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting with larcenous intent, trespassing/refusing to leave, probation revocation.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS JR. Willits. Probation revocation.
MY HUSBAND sometimes consults me while he's writing a review. A hoarse shout will come over the partition, "Hey, how do you spell 'desiccate'?" But this is patently ridiculous, If I could spell desiccate I would long since have assumed my rightful place in the world of letters.
— Jean Kerr, 1955; from "One Half of Two on the Aisle Please"
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I don’t think that it’s WalMart and Happy Motoring that causes the problem as much as it is deeper stuff, like the breakup of families, the wholesale export of women into the workforce, gazillion of cheap illegal laborers, and the elite, who care more about themselves and their portfolio than they do anything else.
Where I live, in a mobile home park, I see several young men (20-40) in my neighborhood who are allergic to work. Several of them have skills, and could easily be working. But, they have no families to support, so they drink, and drug, and screw most of the time. They panic the last week of the month knowing that rent will be due in a few days, and set out looking for some sort of minimal work to make the rent.
I see the same types passing thru the law office where I work part-time. Shiftless, worthless people, men and women. The safety net keeps them from starving.
Sooo, I don’t blame cars and WalMarts. I blame people.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
I live in California, and have been frustrated with the homeless/vagrant problem in urban areas on the coast for decades. Not all the homeless actually want housing — some are not accurately termed "homeless", but are drug addicts or criminals. For those who do want housing, most cities don't have a good plan. There are no plans about how to build housing that is inexpensive to rent or buy, because it's inexpensive to build. Rather, cities and the state are focused on building more "standard" housing that is expensive to build, and then using violence or force of law to "force" property owners to provide lower rent units, say by charging higher rent for other renters. Or cities pass more and more property taxes so that homeowners, many of whom are already struggling to stay in their homes, are being expected to pay for housing for "the homeless", many of whom they can clearly see are drug addicts and criminals. A better solution, the one that is greatly needed, is to actually build housing that is inexpensive to construct, so it's inexpensive to buy or rent. Build SROs, grant more permits for boarding or lodging houses, which is the type of housing transients and low income folks have historically lived in, but which began to disappear around the early 20th century. Use the genius that too often only goes to creating new electronic gadgets, to find ways to create prefab or tiny homes and put them in places in the nation where it's less expensive to live.
AFTER A CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE, New and Old Homeless Populations Collide
ON MONDAY MORNING my boss, Mr. Carey, tells me I'll be a houseman, a very important job where I'll be out front in the lobby dusting, sweeping, emptying ashtrays, and it's important because a hotel is judged by its lobby. He says we have the best lobby in the country. It's the Palm Court and it is known the world over. Anyone who's anyone knows about the Palm Court and the Biltmore clock. Christ sakes, it's right there in books and short stories, Scott Fitzgerald, people like that. Important people say, Let's meet under the clock at the Biltmore, and what happens if they come in and the place is covered with dust and buried in garbage? That's my job: to keep the Biltmore famous. I’m to clean and I'm not talk to any guests, not even look at them. If they talk to me I’m to say, yes sir or ma'am, or no sir or ma'am, and keep working. He says I'm to be invisible and that makes him laugh. Imagine that, a, your the invisible man cleaning the lobby. He says this is a big job and I'd never have had it if I hadn’t been sent by the Democratic Party at the request of the priest from California. Mr. Carey says last guy on his job was fired for talking to college girls under the clock, but he was Italian so whaddya expect? He tells me to keep my eye on the ball, don’t forget to take a shower every day, this is America, stay sober, stick with your own kind of people, you can't go wrong with the Irish, go easy with the drink, and in a year you might rise to the rank of porter or busboy and make tips and, who knows?, rise up to be a waiter and wouldn’t that be the end of all your worries? He says anything is possible in America: Look at me, I have four suits.
ASSEMBLYMAN JIM WOOD WRITES: My first bill of the year, AB 38, addresses the wildfire crisis. One life lost, one home burned or one community devastated by wildfires, is one too many, and if there’s something I can do about it, I’ll go to the ends of the earth to do it. https://bit.ly/2StjMU3
COMING OF AGE IN BOHEMIA:
The Tosh Berman Story
by Jonah Raskin
They were a self-referential lot. Allen Ginsberg wrote about himself, Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs in Howl. Kerouac wrote about Ginsberg, Cassady and Burroughs in On the Road. Their wives (Carolyn Cassady), lovers (Joyce Johnson) and children (Jan Kerouac) churned out books about the founding Beat fathers. The latest in this ever-expanding cottage industry is Tosh: Growing up in Wallace Berman’s World (City Lights; $16.95), a memoir by the son and the only child of bohemian and Beat Generation parents who were also secular Jews. Tosh’s father, Wallace, was an experimental filmmaker and an assemblage and collage artist who edited and published the magazine, Semina. The Beatles put his picture on the cover of “Sergeant Pepper.” Dennis Hopper gave him a walk-on part in Easy Rider.
Tosh Berman’s mother, Shirley, who is still alive, was a dancer and a muse for Wallace (1926-1976) who was largely apolitical, though in true bohemian fashion he liked to shock the bourgeoisie. On one occasion, a bank commissioned him to make a work of art. On a document from the financial institution, Wallace superimposed an image of a woman performing fellatio and called it “Bank Statement.” In 1957, he was found guilty of displaying lewd and obscene material and fined $150. Tosh himself is only a tad more political than his father. “I don’t think I could have taken Vietnam,” he writes. “If nothing else the humid weather would have destroyed me.”
Tosh describes the life and times of an eccentric young man, his eccentric parents and their friends, many of them misfits and non-conformists, though some, like Dennis Hopper, had careers in Hollywood. Tosh also tells the story of an ordinary American boy who read comic books, loved Disney, adored Brigitte Bardot and wallowed in teen anxiety. Soon after he graduated from high school, he bought his first car, a white Datsun, with money from his parents. “I needed a car,” he writes in the chapter titled “Driving.” He adds, “I lived in the middle of nowhere.” In his case, nowhere was Topanga Canyon—North and East of Malibu, West of Beverly Hills. In 1969, Tosh’s favorite rock star, Neil Young, recorded an album in Topanga called, “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.” On the single of the same name, Young sings, “I gotta get away/From this day-to-day/Running around.” Tosh got away.
In his memoir, which covers the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, he offers a boy’s view of west coast bohemian and Beat Generation circles that gave him and young people like him a sense of belonging somewhere that wasn’t primarily abut making money and getting ahead. In the pages of his memoir, Tosh doesn’t grow up and doesn’t want to. Now 63, he says in an epilogue to his narrative, that he still feels “like the child in this book.”
Tosh is built on the back of simple declarative sentences. “My father Wallace Berman was an artist,” he writes at the start of his tale. “Or, should I say, he is an artist; though his body is not here anymore, his art is very much part of this world.” He gets older, but the sentences stay simple.
Tosh’s account of bohemia offers unique portraits of artists, writers, actors and filmmakers including Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell and Marcel Duchamp, one of the fathers of modern conceptual art. Tosh met Duchamp in 1963 in Pasadena, California, and, while he doesn’t provide new information about the artist, he describes his own feelings about the encounter. “It was my first lesson in how fame can affect other people,” he writes.
There would be many more lessons. All of them helped to educate Tosh about the nature of fame in the U.S. after World War II when men like Wallace Berman, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg could become legendary for their devotion to their art. Before Tosh reached his teens, he was a boy legend in bohemian circles. He was “Tosh” and didn’t need a last name.
He and his parents would have been at home in the first bohemia, which took shape in Paris in the 1840s and spread to New York and California. Henri Murger wrote about the first Bohemia in a series of articles for a literary journal in 1847 and 1848 that were later collected and published as Scenes of Bohemian Life. One of the bohemians that Burger portrays becomes a bourgeois success, one reason why Karl Marx found bohemians suspect.
Marx wrote about them with a mix of fear and loathing in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) in which he also noted famously that the important events in world history occur twice: “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” In Marx’s view, the Parisian bohemians tended to be “vagabonds,” “swindlers,” “tricksters” and “beggars.” Kerouac himself called Ginsberg and Cassady, “con-artists.” One-hundred-years before the publication of On the Road, a secret police agent got an invitation to the Marx household. He sent report to Prussia from London, England in which he described Marx as “the communist chief” who lives the life of “an intellectual Bohemian.” Marx’s apartment was “dirty and covered with dust,” the agent wrote. Kids toys were everywhere. Jenny Marx’s sewing was mixed in with Karl’s “manuscripts and newspapers.” The agent added that, “Intellectually spirited and agreeable conversation makes amends for the domestic deficiencies,” and “one even grows accustomed to the company.” For much of Tosh’s early years, the Bermans lived in circumstances not that different than those of the Marx family. “I remember being numb with cold because there was a broken window in my bedroom,” Tosh writes of a houseboat where he lived with his parents.
Tosh doesn’t condemn Wallace and Shirley and their friends, though some of them were drug addicts and petty criminals. Tosh says that his father was a shoplifter and at times “passive aggressive.” He also explains that his father “required a woman who would support his one-way route to art-life and not put restrictions on his time and his need for attention.”
I’m a generation older than Tosh, and, while I share some of his experiences, my parents, unlike his, were members of the Communist Party. The only famous people I met when I was a boy were lefties like Leon Bibb and Bella Abzug. When I was 22 and living with my 18-year-old-girfriend and our friends in an apartment in Manhattan, my father disapproved. “We’re not bohemians,” he said. “We’re Communists.” He identified with the John Reed who went to Russia and wrote Ten Days that Shook the World, not the John Reed who lived in bohemian Greenwich Village, nor the John Reed who followed Pancho Villa’s rebel army and wrote Insurgent Mexico.
In California in the 1970s, my parents became hippies. They’d enjoy Tosh’s story as well as the dozen photos of him in the book, nearly all of them by Wallace, who documented his son’s journey from boyhood to young adulthood. Tosh’s memoir might make his father more famous than he is. It will put Tosh on the map of the American counterculture that includes hipsters, beatniks, hippies and punks and who descended from Rimbaud, Verlaine and Heinrich Heine, the German Jewish bohemian, whose poems Marx published in his journal Forwards and helped spread his fame.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)
GILLY HALL FEATURED ARTIST AT EDGEWATER GALLERY
First Friday at Edgewater Gallery. Gilly Hall is Featured Artist for the month of December, Edgewater Gallery, 356 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, Friday, December 7, from 5 to 8pm. Gilly will do a brief presentation about her art at 6pm on First Friday. Light refreshments. Admission is free.
In her own words:
“I was born in San Francisco and grew up in Novato with a sheet metal working father and an artist, clown, comedian, entrepreneur as a mother. I have always been creative and producing art in a variety of mediums. In high school, I was active in the stained glass department and, as a senior, began cosmetology school. I was a licensed cosmetologist by the time I was 18. I now live here in Fort Bragg, raising my son and creating art. My husband is also an artist. We are a family of creators. Last year, I began making hoops and am now a member of Edgewater Gallery, beginning my professional career. My hoops represent the power of positivity. The trees bring me joy and life purpose when I make them. They are magical pieces of joy, passion and, most importantly, love.”
PRESSER FROM MCGUIRE
After holding two statewide housing hearings this fall and extensive meetings with stakeholders across California, legislators plan to overhaul the state’s approach to the housing crisis. Senators Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) have been working for months to develop comprehensive policy and funding legislation focused on housing that is affordable for seniors, nurses, teachers, veterans and low and middle income Californians.
The legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks as a series of bills. The first bill introduced Monday – SB 5 – is focused on funding that will build affordable housing for working families and seniors and revitalize neighborhoods in communities big and small in every corner of the Golden State.
Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, and McGuire, chairman of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, are partnering to create what they see as innovative programs that won’t rely on one-size-fits-all approaches, but will give communities of all sizes across California incentives to advance solutions that address the housing crisis.
“All across our state, from rural cities of the North Coast to the bustling suburbs of greater Los Angeles, every community is facing an affordable housing crisis,” McGuire said. “Our affordable housing bills will help working families and seniors live and thrive in the communities they call home by providing funding and innovative solutions to one of this state’s most significant challenges. Senator Beall and I look forward to continuing to work with residents and community leaders across California on this critical legislation in the months to come.”
One of the hallmark bills of McGuire and Beall’s housing legislation will launch an updated approach to the funding for local governments that was lost with the dissolution of redevelopment agencies – which at the time was the largest single source of funds for affordable housing. Beall and McGuire’s bill – The Affordable Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Act – will support affordable housing, transit-oriented development, strong neighborhoods, and resiliency from sea-level rise, while providing rigorous state oversight and tax payer protections to ensure that affordable housing construction occurs quickly and local governments are accountable for the expenditure of funds.
“When voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1, they sent a message to the Legislature that we are in a housing crisis, and that building more affordable homes is a statewide priority,” said Beall. “This bill supports their voice by establishing a replacement tool for redevelopment agencies through a state and local partnership funding mechanism to create affordable housing through all corners of the state. Its goal is to thoughtfully tackle housing by also alleviating poverty, creating jobs, and meeting our statewide environmental goals without impacting school funding. Today, we have an opportunity to establish a renewed partnership between the state and cities, with strict accountability measures, to ensure more affordable housing gets built.”
The affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization bill that Beall and McGuire are advancing will be part of a series of housing bills that will create inclusive neighborhoods by streamlining permitting and enabling strategic density without taking a one size fits all approach in communities, along with updating surplus property identification. The aim of the legislation is to be responsive to the needs of cities and counties, while creating desperately needed housing opportunities for hard-working Californians.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH'S LEGACY: WILLIE HORTON, DAN QUAYLE, CLARENCE THOMAS, IRAN-CONTRA
...He could have refused to run a race-baiting campaign against Ralph Yarborough in Texas. He didn’t. He could have stood up for old-line Yankee Republicanism against the rising, brainless fanaticism that entered the Republican Party with Barry Goldwater and blossomed rankly through the victories of Ronald Reagan. There is no evidence that he ever did anything of the sort.
He was wise enough in the ways of the world to know that the Iran-Contra “enterprise” was both a criminal act and a completely loony proposition. He actively turned off any attempt at public accountability for it. He could have replaced a giant like Thurgood Marshall with someone other than Clarence Thomas.
He could have picked someone else besides the puppy, Dan Quayle, to be his vice president. He could have beaten Michael Dukakis without hiring Lee Atwater. (Dukakis’s midsummer lead always was vaporous.) I don’t know what you say about someone who hires out the personal destruction of a political opponent, but “integrity” does not enter into the sentence.
As president, he is credited with bringing the Cold War in for a relatively soft landing and with running Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, both of which carried very little real political risk.
In 1990, he signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, which had passed the Senate, 91-6, and which had passed the House, 377-28, and thus was approximately as controversial as the annual Easter Egg Roll.
However, that same year, he vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990 because some of the prion-infected yelled “Quotas!” at him. And then there was the moment of political cowardice that ultimately ended up being fatal to him, and that made him most complicit in the descent of his political party into irrationality and, ultimately, madness.
You will recall that, in 1980, he’d said the last sensible thing any Republican has said about the snake-oil that is supply-side economics. He called them “voodoo economics,” and he was dead-right. But he signed on as Reagan’s vice president anyway and, by 1988, he was getting up at the Republican National Convention and butching himself up by borrowing an idiotic line from an Arnold Schwarzenegger film: Read my lips. No new taxes!...
Then, in a kind of mad irony, economics circumstances forced him to raise taxes just a little because he had been right about the voodoo all along. All the rising forces in the Republican Party he’d tried to appease by being something he was not, or by outsourcing the work to reptiles like Ailes and Atwater, roared to life against him...
He could have been one of the most powerful voices against the slide of Republicanism into movement conservatism, religious fanaticism, and irrationality in general. Maybe nobody could have stopped it...But he could have tried...
Charles Pierce (Esquire)
OURS IS A SHOCKINGLY DEAD VIEW of creation. We ourselves are the only things in the universe to which we grant an authentic vitality, and because of this we are not fully alive.
— Frederick Turner, anthropologist
OPENING ON FIRST FRIDAY (Dec. 7, 5-7 PM) of "Politic-OH! & More!" A group show featuring the works of Jaye Alison, Jaelin Mosscarille, Jaye Alison Moscariello, J Alison and J.A. Moscariello.
Showing selected works from the series' Politic-OH!, Land and Sea, The Narratives, Tutti Fruiti and Chase the Monkey.
At Art Center Ukiah (formerly Corner Gallery), corner of South State St and Church St., Friday December 7, 2018, 5-7 PM
All works are available for sale, lay aways happily offered.
Autographed copies of "Capture the Moon" and some limited edition prints also available.
Come one, come all! See the art, enjoy the music, and spend time with friends!
Contact: Jaye Alison Moscariello, 310-970-4517, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.jayesite.com
HOW VULNERABLE ARE WE?
(Kathy Wylie notes: This article is one of many published throughout the state about the recent Camp Fire and the 2009 Butte County Grand Jury’s warning about government's response to such fires.)
REBUILD PARADISE? SINCE 1999, 13 LARGE WILDFIRES BURNED IN THE FOOTPRINT OF THE CAMP FIRE
The town’s topography, climate and history leaves it vulnerable
Chris Folkman deals in catastrophic risk. As a disaster analyst, he builds models that simulate wildfires. So as he watched the horrific headlines of the Camp Fire unfold last month, he began researching and creating a map of the region’s fire history.
What he found left him speechless. Since 1999, 13 large wildfires had burned within the footprint of the Camp Fire’s 153,000-acre scar.
The history of fire in this dry, blustery region of Northern California has added emphasis to a difficult question raised by the destruction of last month’s historic blaze: Should Paradise be rebuilt?
Repeat natural disasters haven’t stopped human habitation in the past.
Despite the deadly October 2017 Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, whose footprint almost mimics the 1964 Hanley Fire, rebuilding efforts are underway in Santa Rosa. New Orleans resurfaced after Hurricane Katrina. And so on.
But whether we should live in such disaster-prone areas is the billion-dollar question — or $7.5 billion to $10 billion question, if you consider Folkman’s estimates on insured losses so far from the Camp Fire.
The blaze that decimated the Gold Country town of Paradise killed at least 88 people and destroyed more than 14,000 homes and businesses, both records for California.
“I think there needs to be a frank conversation about rebuilding and fire resilience,” said Folkman, a disaster analyst with RMS. “The good news is there are measures to be taken to make a house less susceptible to a wildfire. In the end, we have to face the fact that the climate is changing and a lot of houses are built in dangerous areas.”
Stay or go?
For a decade, Cindy Hoover has feared the Jarbo Gap winds. Ever since she plopped her fish in a mason jar and sat in gridlock as she tried to evacuate Paradise during the 2008 Humboldt Fire — which started east of Chico and eventually destroyed 87 homes — Hoover would pack her bags and have her keys, water and dog leash sitting on the counter when the winds started whistling.
“For 10 years I tortured myself with anticipation of what had just happened on Nov. 8,” said Hoover, who escaped the Camp Fire with her husband. “I escaped effortlessly only because I was ready, I always watched the weather, the wind and slept with my windows open smelling for the smell of burning vegetation.” The couple lost their house, and she’s not sure she will return after 45 years.
“I want to live in Paradise. It’s my home but I cannot live in a community that Paradise has become,” Hoover said. “This fire wasn’t a case of protecting homes, it didn’t have a chance.”
Casey Taylor does not share Hoover’s doubts. As a Paradise native, she can’t imagine living anywhere else than where her three-bedroom home built in the 1970s once stood. The executive director of Achieve Charter School already has contacted her insurance company and is receiving temporary housing help.
“I know our town leaders personally and they were committed to revitalizing Paradise before the fire, and even more now, to bring it back better than ever,” she said.
Cal Fire historical data shows that 42 fires larger than 300 acres have burned within the Camp Fire footprint since 1914. By sheer luck, the town of Paradise had largely been spared widespread destruction despite a century of close calls.
The Camp Fire was the eighth blaze Linda Luck has had to flee in California, including two others in Paradise, but it hasn’t scared her away. Her Grinding Rock Way home, built of cinder block and a tile roof, is damaged but still standing.
“Would I go back? Yes,” Luck said. “My husband built that house.”
She’s heard from neighbors who won’t be joining her; at one meeting, only seven of 60 residents said they’d return to Paradise.
“I’m hearing that from a lot of my friends. It terrorized them,” she said.
Sixty percent of new homes built in California, Washington and Oregon since 1990 have been developed in what’s known as the Wildland Urban Interface, according to Headwaters Economics, a Montana-based group that created the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire program. Folkman said that includes intermix — where vegetation and houses intermingle, such as in Paradise, and interface, where a concentration of houses abuts a forest or chaparral.
“The interface is really susceptible to very large losses because there tends to be a big cluster of houses,” Folkman said. “At the same time, it’s an extremely desirable place to live — it’s picturesque.”
Kelly Pohl, a Headwaters researcher, said Folkman’s map provides important information for communities that have been hit repeatedly by fire. Planners should consider that when asking whether there are certain areas people should not live.
“These recent disasters are really begging that question, and the answer probably is yes. There’s probably areas not safe in relation to wildfires,” Pohl said, referring to the historical map of fires in the Paradise area.
“I think that’s all really important information for communities to look at when deciding where to allow homes.”
That being said, such communities can be rebuilt much more safely and resistant to fire by designing subdivisions with good escape routes, fuel breaks and fire-resistant materials and design features, she said. A Headwaters study released Tuesday found negligible cost differences in adding wildfire-resistant materials and design features to homes.
Such measures are all the more critical as climate change extends fire seasons and brings less rain and drier vegetation. Burned acres per wildfire has doubled since the 1990s, and the fire season in the West averages 84 days longer than the 1970s, according to Headwaters.
The debate over whether it is safe to rebuild is not a new one for Butte County.
Over the summer of 2008, the Humboldt, Lightning and other fires burned about 100,000 acres in the Paradise region, more than 400 homes were lost or damaged and two people died. It could have been much worse, and it prompted the Butte County civil grand jury to issue a report.
“By some miracle, the Humboldt Fire incident did not cross the West Branch of the Feather River,” the jury reported. “Had this occurred, property damage could have been huge and thousands of lives could have been threatened in Paradise and the Upper Ridge.”
The panel recommended a moratorium on home building in fire-prone areas and specifically cited the general plan’s forecasting of 3,400 additional units, or about 15,000 people, in “foothill fire-prone areas,” including a 330-house development, which would have placed the homes on the canyon rim.
But in September 2009, the Butte County Board of Supervisors replied to the grand jury’s recommendation, calling it “not reasonable.” The supervisors noted building code improvements and fire prevention requirements for new housing.
Such land-use questions are being asked across the country and particularly in California, Oregon and Washington, where 84 percent of the wildland urban interface is undeveloped, according to Headwaters.
Butte County supervisor Doug Teeter — who lost his Paradise home to the Camp Fire, along with the homes of his mother and sister — wasn’t on the board when it rebuffed the grand jury report but said his community is safe to rebuild.
“Absolutely, it’s a ridge. I feel it’s defendable and the reconstruction will be to modern building standards,” Teeter said, adding the historical fire map is misleading as many of the fires listed burned in uninhabited areas. “When Paradise gets rebuilt, it’s going to have different standards. It’s got to have that.”
Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, who also lost her home, said Paradise has grown responsibly, mostly rural residential homes on large lots, not large subdivisions.
“They didn’t abandon New Orleans after Katrina, they’re not abandoning Hawaii although there’s a volcano going off, they’re not abandoning San Francisco despite the earthquake dangers,” she said. “Anywhere you go, there’s some risk of a natural disaster. We’re not going to abandon our town.”
(December 2, 2018 The Mercury News — also published in the Chico Enterprise-Record)
WHAT IT MEANS THAT HILLARY CLINTON MIGHT RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2020
by Norman Solomon
Twenty-five years ago — when I wrote a book titled “False Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Era” — I didn’t expect that the Democratic Party would still be mired in Clintonism two and a half decades later. But such approaches to politics continue to haunt the party and the country.
The last two Democratic presidencies largely involved talking progressive while serving Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The obvious differences in personalities and behavior of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama diverted attention from their underlying political similarities. In office, both men rarely fought for progressive principles — and routinely undermined them.
Clinton, for example, brought the country NAFTA, welfare “reform” that was an assault on low-income women and families, telecommunications “reform” that turned far more airwaves over to media conglomerates, repeal of Glass-Steagall regulation of banks that led to the 2007-8 financial meltdown, and huge increases in mass incarceration.
Obama, for instance, bailed out big banks while letting underwater homeowners sink, oversaw the launching of more missiles and bombs than his predecessor George W. Bush, ramped up a war on whistleblowers, turned mass surveillance and the shredding of the Fourth Amendment into bipartisan precedent, and boosted corporate privatization of public education.
It wasn’t only a congressional majority that Democrats quickly lost and never regained under President Obama. By the time he left the White House (immediately flying on a billionaire’s jet to his private island and then within months starting to collect giant speaking fees from Wall Street) nearly 1,000 seats in state legislatures had been lost to Democrats during the Obama years.
Thanks to grassroots activism and revulsion toward President Trump, Democrats not only won back the House last month but also recaptured one-third of the state legislative seats that had been lost while Obama led the party and the nation.
During the last two years, progressive momentum has exerted major pressure against the kind of corporatist policies that Bill Clinton set into cement atop the Democratic Party. But today, the party’s congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are still in a mode loosely replicating Clinton’s sleight-of-tongue formulas that have proved so useful — and extremely profitable — for corporate America, while economic inequality has skyrocketed.
As 2018 nears its end, the top of the Democratic Party is looking to continue Clintonism without the Clintons.
Or maybe Clintonism with the Clintons.
A real possibility is now emerging that Hillary Clinton will run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. On Sunday, the New York Times printed a Maureen Dowd column that reported: “Some in Clintonworld say Hillary fully intends to be the nominee—. And Bill has given monologues to old friends about how Hillary knows how she’d have to run in 2020, that she couldn’t have a big staff and would just speak her mind and not focus-group everything. (That already sounds focus-grouped.)”
Dowd provided a helpful recap: “After the White House, the money-grubbing raged on, with the Clintons making over 700 speeches in a 15-year period, blithely unconcerned with any appearance of avarice or of shady special interests and foreign countries buying influence. They stockpiled a whopping $240 million. Even leading up to her 2016 presidential run, Hillary was packing in the speeches, talking to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the American Camp Association, eBay, and there was that infamous trifecta of speeches for Goldman Sachs worth $675,000.”
A cogent sum-up in the column came from former Washington Monthly editor Charles Peters: “What scares me the most is Hillary’s smug certainty of her own virtue as she has become greedy and how typical that is of so many chic liberals who seem unaware of their own greed. They don’t really face the complicity of what’s happened to the world, how selfish we’ve become and the horrible damage of screwing the workers and causing this resentment that the Republicans found a way of tapping into.”
That’s where we are now — not only with the grim prospect that Hillary Clinton might run for president again, but more fundamentally with corporate allegiances still dominating the Democratic Party leadership. The only way to overcome such corporatism is for social movements to fight more resolutely and effectively for progressive change, including in the Democratic Party.
If you don’t think that’s a path to real breakthroughs, consider Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, winners of Democratic primaries this year who’ll be sworn in as members of Congress next month. (Compare those successes to two decades of Green Party candidates running for Congress and never coming close.) Whether or not Hillary Clinton runs for president again, Clintonism is a political blight with huge staying power. It can be overcome only if and when people at the grassroots effectively insist on moving the Democratic Party in a genuinely progressive direction.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.)
HOW POPPY BUSH’S BROTHER, “UNCLE BUCKY,” MADE A KILLING OFF THE IRAQ WARS
by Jeffrey St. Clair
Back in 1991, shortly after the depleted uranium-flaked dust had settled some from the first Gulf War, there was a minor tempest in the press over influence peddling by members of the Presiden George H. W. Bush’s family, including his son Neil and his brother Prescott, Jr. Both Neil and Prescott, neither of whom had proven to be exceptionally talented businessmen, had made millions by flagrantly trading on their relationship to the president.
Seeking to distinguish himself from his more predatory relatives, William Henry Trotter Bush, the younger brother of Bush Sr. and an investment banker in St. Louis, gave an interview to disclaim any profiteering on his own part. Indeed, he sounded downright grumpy, as if his older brother hadn’t done enough to steer juicy government deals his way. “Being the brother of George Bush isn’t a financial windfall by any stretch of the imagination,” huffed William H.T. Bush.
Well, perhaps being the brother of the president didn’t generate as much business as he hoped, but having the good fortune to be the uncle of the president certainly appears to have padded the pockets of the man endearingly known to George W. Bush as “Uncle Bucky.”
A few months before his selection as president, Bush’s Uncle Bucky quietly joined the board of a small and struggling St. Louis defense company called Engineered Support Systems, Incorporated (ESSI). Since Bush joined the team, ESSI’s fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better. This once obscure outfit is now one of the top Pentagon contractors. Next year its revenues will top $1 billion, nearly all of it derived from defense contracts with the Pentagon or with foreign militaries financed by US aid and loan guarantees. Even sweeter, most of these contracts have been awarded in no bid, sole source deals.
True to form, Uncle Bucky claims that ESSI’s amazing transformation has nothing to do with him or his nephew, the president. “I don’t make any calls to the 202 (DC) Area Code,” Bush sneered to the Los Angeles Times.
Uncle Buck’s characteristic modesty was swiftly undercut by statements made by top executives at ESSI, who seemed proud that their foresight in inviting Bush on board had paid off so handsomely for all concerned. “Having a Bush certainly doesn’t hurt,” chuckled Dan Kreher, ESSI’s vice president for industrial relations.
Uncle Bucky Bush is 16 years younger than his brother, the former president. According to Kitty Kelley’s gripping history of the Bush clan The Family, Bucky was raised “almost as an only child” by his aging parents Dorothy and Prescott Bush, the senator who traded with the Nazis. Bucky was a sensitive and precocious kid with a peculiar devotion to choral music. In fact, the highlight of his career at Yale University was his starring spot with Whiffenpoofs, an elite choir.
While his older brother headed to Texas to make his name in the oil patch, Bucky returned to St. Louis, the Gateway City where the original Bush fortune had been built. He settled into a modest career as an investment banker and corporate consultant. Then, with his nephew poised to seize the White House, Uncle Bucky was offered a seat on the board of ESSI, a military support and defense electronics firm. ESSI’s company prospectus describes it as “a diversified supplier of high-tech, integrated military electronics, support equipment and logistics services for all branches of America’s armed forces and certain foreign militaries.”
Shortly after the attacks of 9/11, ESSI positioned itself to win a series of lucrative Pentagon contracts that would catapult the diminutive firm into the top ranks of defense contractors. Within a few short months, the company’s shareholders were given the financial ride of their lives.
By the time of the Iraq war, ESSI was a brawny new player on the defense block. In the spring of 2003, ESSI acquired a military communications company called TAMSCO, whose prime activity was in developing military satellite terminals in the Gulf region and in US bases in Germany in anticipation of a US invasion of Iraq. After the ESSI buy-out, TAMSCO swiftly won contracts from both the Air Force and the Army for more than $90 million for the training of troops in the operation of the system and the installation of radar equipment in Kuwait.
Then Pentagon awarded ESSI a $49 million contract to remodel military trailers for use in Iraq.
In 2003, the Defense Department gave ESSI a huge deal to provide the Army with equipment to search for Iraq’s non-existent chemical and biological weapons. Part of this package included a $19 million contract to provide protective tents for US troops from chemical bombs. The tents didn’t arrive in Iraq until after it was evident to nearly everyone that the Iraqi military didn’t have access to such weapons. This didn’t stop the money from flowing into ESSI’s coffers and it didn’t stop ESSI’s executives from playing along in the grand charade. “The potential threat of our troops facing a chemical or biological attack during the current conflict in Iraq remains very real,” huffed Michael Shananan, the company’s former chairman.
As the invasion transformed into a military occupation of Iraq, ESSI continued to pluck off sweet deals. In late 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority, whose contracts passed across the Pentagon desk of arch neocon Douglas Feith, awarded ESSI an $18 million deal to engineer a communications system for the CPA offices, barricaded inside Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Its executives openly clucked at the likelihood for protracted war. “The increasing likelihood for a prolonged military involvement in Southwest Asia by US forces well into 2006 has created a fertile environment for the type of support products and services we offer,” gloated Gerald L. Daniels, the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Rarely has corporate glee over the prospects of war profiteering been expressed so brazenly.
But Daniels had a point. Even as things began to go sour for the US in Iraq, ESSI stood to make lots of money. One of its biggest no-bid contracts came in 2004 in the wake of mounting causalities in light-armored vehicles hit by roadside bombs. ESSI won a deal to upgrade the armor of thousands of vehicles in or bound for Iraq. The company’s annual report for 2005 forecast that ESSI might make as much as $200 million from this bloody windfall alone.
As the flood of new contracts poured in, ESSI’s stock soared. In January of 2005, it reached its all-time high of $60.39 per share. A few days before the stock hit this lofty peak, Uncle Bucky quietly exercised his option to sell 8,438 shares of ESSI stock. He walked away from that transaction with at least $450,000. The stock sale occurred a few days after ESSI announced that the Pentagon had awarded it $77 million in new contracts for the Iraq war and a few days before word leaked to the press that the company was under investigation for its handling of older Pentagon contracts. The timing of the trade was perfect.
In a February 2005 filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, ESSI discreetly disclosed to its shareholders that the inspector general of Pentagon had launched an inquiry into a series of contracts awarded to the company in 2002 for work on the Air Force’s troubled automated cargo loading machine called the Tunner.
While the company’s chief financial dismissed the probe as “routine” and assured investors that it would have “no effect” on ESSI’s fortunes, the Pentagon held to a more restrained assessment of the potential liability. Michael Wynne, acting undersecretary of Defense, said he had referred ESSI contracts valued at $158 million to the Pentagon’s inspector general because the deals “appear to have anomalies in them.” Many of the contracts were awarded on a no-bid basis and much of the probe appears to focus on the role Pentagon insiders played in steering the contracts to ESSI.
Much of the thrust behind ESSI’s sudden rise has been fueled by no-bid or source deals with the Pentagon. These no risk deals are part of a corporate strategy cooked up in part by non other than Uncle Bucky himself. In a profitable bit of self-dealing, ESSI hired its board member, Bucky Bush, as a consultant in 2002. Bush, who pulls in about $45,000 a year in director’s fees, was paid an additional $125,000 for his advice on ESSI’s buyout of other military contractors. The acquisition strategy outlined by Bush was to train the company’s appetite on the gobbling up of companies that held no-bid or sole source deals with the Pentagon.
In January 2005, ESSI spent $37.6 million to buy a New York electronics testing firm called Prospective Computer Analysis, Inc. In defending the purchase to shareholders, executives at ESSI emphasized that the company held “a lot of source contracts.”
A few months later, ESSI acquired Spacelink, Inc, a Virginia-based defense company, for $150 million. Spacelink, which supplies parts for military satellites and was poised to cash in on the $80 billion missile defense bonanza.
ESSI isn’t the only defense-oriented company to acquire the services of Uncle Bucky. The banker from St. Louis has also been retained as a trustee for the global investment firm Lord Abbott, one of the primary financial underwriters of Halliburton. Lord Abbott is both one of the top 10 shareholders in Dick Cheney’s former company, as well as one of its top mutual fund holders. It’s all in the family.
Uncle Bucky didn’t unload all of his ESSI stock. He still retained 45,000 shares valued at more than $2.5 million and used the profits from the sale to purchase a vacation home in Florida near his other nephew nourishing presidential ambitions, Jeb Bush.
Who knows if the Bucky will finally stop there?
Bucky Bush died on February 27, 2018
(This essay is excerpted from Mr. St. Clair’s book Grand Theft Pentagon. Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: email@example.com or on Twitter @JSCCounterPunch. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
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