Letters to the Editor 12/23/2009
by Letters to the Editor, December 23, 2009
GREENHOUSE SUMMIT GAS
Can anyone with some economic expertise inform me about how much (in round figures) gasoline, airplane fuel, energy, cop overtime, the use (or non-use) of many thousands of toilets, vandalism, etc. and the resultant huge carbon footprint costs our planet and ultimately its inhabitants (human and otherwise) due to the idealistic and fervent reactionism surrounding the Copenhagen Climate Summit by the hundreds of thousands of protesters who — well meaning as usual — will have little or no ACTUAL EFFECT on the outcome of a rather specious summit conference? Will it equal, say, the trust fund monies that apparently paid for so many comfy jet airplane trips to Denmark?
Perhaps these protesters should have stayed home and given their plane fares, hotel expenses, etc. to some needy local charity or cause. As long as humanity uses the green ethic to continue business as usual (with a few minor tweaks here and there) — i.e., basically untrammeled population growth and recreation of the natural world in our own images — summit conferences and mass protests thereof may eventually become luxuries.
THE OTHER TASTING ROOM
The 6th Annual Emerald Cup at Area 101 in Laytonville went off without a hitch —
no negative incidents, no parking problems, no law enforcement intrusions, just 600 people in a festive atmosphere in the pouring rain pulling together to pull it together.
#1 was Cotton Candy Kush grown by a lifelong grower, unlike last year's winner who was a first time grower.
Three women were in the top 10. Last year's #3 winner died of cancer after his crop placed #3.
His wife went on to grow the “sugaree” after he died and placed #5.
A woman also won the prize for best photograph.
At the pre-party Friday nite, an excellent new full-length film, “Cash Crop,” was shown, featuring Area 101's Tim Blake, Sheriff Tom Allman, Dr Courtney, his wife Kristen and her mother, Dan Hamburg, Lorraine Ahlswede formerly of the SB420 ID card program, myself and several other locals.
Rolling Stone Magazine is expected to do a major Emerald Cup story in a coming issue.
SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY ISN’T
Back in October super-adventurer Michael Fay arrived in Caspar for a talk about his recent transect (a fancy word for a hike) through the redwoods, from Oregon to Big Sur. His presentation coincided with National Geographic Magazine's feature story written by John Bourne on the redwoods in that month's issue.
As dwellers in some of the remaining stands of coastal temperate rain forest in Mendocino County, we found Bourne’s convivial portrayal of the Pacific Northwest timber industry in its present incarnation detestable. Whatever his good intentions may have been, Bourne scarcely could have provided more favorable coverage to the corporate chameleons who currently seek to maximize their profits at the expense of our local ecosystems. Fay's advocacy of this corporate greenwashing campaign, portrayed throughout Bourne's article, is equally disturbing. In Caspar this agenda was on full display.
The main thread of the story is Michael Fay’s politically misguided, essentially pro-industry line, which maintains that “better managed” forests can provide “high-quality lumber” while actually preserving forest ecosystems. Despite their newfangled paens to “sustainable forestry,” the timber industry's goal in this area remains fundamentally unaltered, even under the green-washed auspices of companies like Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) and Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC): to turn forests into a commodity, so as to accumulate profits in their own coffers and those of distant banks. Altruistic notions of jobs for locals and clean rivers for fish factor in only to the extent that they benefit the company’s public images. Their PR operations have grown far more sophisticated under the direction of the Fisher Family than they were under the stupidly brazen Maxaam and Georgia Pacific multi-national timber firms in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The carefully crafted “green” image of HRC and MRC rests largely on the image they have cultivated with help from their chief forester, Mike Jani — a man invoked in Bourne’s piece as a model proponent of the new politics of sustainable forestry. Notably, Jani is known to many forest defenders in Santa Cruz as “The Butcher of Butano,” in connection with his role in the liquidation of the final 4,000-acre tract of unprotected residual old growth redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains while serving as chief forester of Big Creek Lumber Co. in the early to mid-nineties. Jani accomplished this feat in spite of Santa Cruz County’s logging regulations, which are perhaps the most stringent in the country. This sort of bureaucratic acumen makes Jani an ideal representative of a pair of firms that seek to maximize their profits while maintaining the appearance that they are complying with the loophole-ridden standards for “sustainable timber harvesting” set by the Forest Stewardship Council (of which Jani happens to be a director).
The massive swaths of ecosystem to which MRC has laid waste during its decade-plus “stewardship” of Mendocino County forestland provide the clearest testament to the dangers inherent in a greenwashed timber industry. As the Redwood Coast Watershed Alliance and other local activists have copiously documented, MRC has fragmented and eliminated thousands of acres of redwood and conifer forest via dozens of clear-cuts, including in sensitive (and now significantly more polluted) river ecosystems of the endangered coho salmon.
We find equally disturbing the complex schemes to financialize the redwoods and other forest ecosystems, whereby large swaths of wooded land are sold as “carbon offsets” to major polluters like the coal industry. These “carbon markets” do not meaningfully protect forests, nor do they transparently address the problem of global warming and industrial pollution. You'll hear more about these carbon offsets in the near future as financial giants like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase are very excited about them, eager to press National Geographic's staff in their service.
Michael Fay's desire to provide jobs for timber workers at the same time that forest ecosystems are preserved is admirable. However, the corporate application of his ideas will invariably lead to the further destruction of what little is left of the vitally important remaining wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. After all, corporations are profit-generating machines by their very nature — never forget that their primary legal responsibility to their shareholders is to turn the largest profit possible, not to support local economies and healthy ecosystems.
Will Parrish / Darwin BondGraham
Laytonville / Navarro
To the Editor:
The County teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, yet our Board of Supervisors approaches serious budget cut-backs as if they were virgins considering a serious affair: they flirt with cost cutting notions, they talk these ideas into confusion, and then put off a decision for six months, knowing full well that our local economy is not likely to have some wonderful rebirth in the next year unless the price of pot miraculously soars like a phoenix to $10,000 a pound.
A few examples: At last week’s Board of Virgins' meeting, John McCowen moved to eliminate our two lobbyists in Washington. Dave Colfax, while admitting that the idea had merit, was concerned that McCowen had not been specific about what it was the lobbyists had failed to do in Washington. Supervisor Smith admitted that it was hard to measure their actual performance. McCowen's motion was defeated 3 to 2. The Supes agreed to think about it again in six months.
Next, an apparently sponsor-less proposal to increase the Clerk of the Board's salary by 35% was removed from the Consent Calendar for further review. The Clerk had already promised to take voluntary time off for, oh yes — the next six months — to avoid overrunning her budget. While the clerk's supervisor, CEO Mitchell, had placed this item on the Consent Calendar without making the requisite recommendation, he wiggled around quite nicely by saying that her current salary was “in line” with other counties.
We have many county employees who have been voluntarily working less than full time for six months or more to save the county money. If the county hasn't yet collapsed due to work left undone during this time, then should we conclude that the county government was really overstaffed? (I won't hold my breath waiting for an answer — as to whether it has indeed collapsed — from Tom Mitchell.)
I repeat an idea discussed during the campaigns of Dolly Brown and Paula Dieter in 2008: Namely — to reduce all salaries to a maximum of $85,000 until the economy recovers. This is double the median income level for a family of four and should not cause impoverishment. Another cost reduction suggestion, now current: that the Sheriff's staff be cut by 4 or 5 deputies should not even be considered. They are working at the same staffing level they had 30 years ago! We cannot afford any less protection from the drunks, the druggies, the zombies, and the criminals in our towns, on our highways and working our pot gardens.
James F. Houle
GREAT SPEECH, BARACK
US President Obama’s speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize was a good one. One based in the realities of the way the world is and not in a fantasy of the way we might think the world should be.
But what the President’s speech, a justification for war, says is the Peace Prize is a dubious one, the goal of world peace an impossible one. Remember, what the US and Obama define as “evil in the world” can in other cultures be defined as divine. This has been the “truth” of humanity and war from the beginning. It is a reality we will never escape. The Nobel Committee likes Obama because of his commitment to “international engagement” and move away from US “unilateralism.” But remember, The Great War, WW1, was fought because of “international engagement.”
So one would have to question how reality based the Nobel Committee is on the subject of peace, or war for that matter. And for how much longer must the Committee mock itself and the fantasy of peace? It is time for the Nobel Committee to retire the Peace Prize to the dustbin of history, and maybe replace it with a Humanitarian Prize. Because what we see now is the Peace Prize could just as well called the War Prize.
George A. Hollister
Coastal residents — including fishermen, divers and gatherers — have joined together to protest the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI). There is plenty of reason to protest.
Jim Martin, vice president of the Salmon Restoration Federation, the Recreation Fishing Association and a member of the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission, has pointed out many of the foibles of the MLPAI. Special interest groups, unaccountable to elected officials, dominate the process. Key policy decisions are made by private foundations rather than the public. And, at a time when the state is broke, Martin asks who will pick up the tab to police a large number of underwater parks.
Cindy Arch, a longtime ocean preservation leader, is also disturbed that the MLPAI is being funded “by the charitable arms of huge businesses.” She foresees aquaculture (farmed fish) as a real possibility for the coast if the initiative isn’t stopped.
Author, activist and businessman John Lewallen’s critique is perhaps the most devastating. He sees the MLPAI as a diversion from the real prize — offshore oil. He reminds us that while it was during the George W. years that the possibility of drilling off the Mendocino coast reemerged, the Obama administration has done nothing to reinstate a moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Lewallen’s concern was recently amplified by the appointment of Catherine Reheis-Boyd to the MLPAI’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, a group of “knowledgeable and highly credible public leaders” selected by Governor Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Resources, Mike Chrisman. Reheis-Boyd is president of the Western States Petroleum Association.
I urge everyone in Mendocino County to become familiar with the MLPAI and the process currently underway for the area from Point Arena to the Oregon border. A good place to start is with Frank Hartzell’s excellent series that ran in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News last summer. Additional information is available on the Albion Harbor Regional Alliance website at albionharbor.org.
The juxtapostion of “Gimmee Shelter” (Scaramella/McEwan) and the quotations from Sinclair Lewis' “Main Street,” supported by my recent reading of George Orwell, lead to the following conclusion: social activism on behalf of a better future for everybody is incompatible politically and psychologically with a sense of entitlement.
“Main Street” is one of the greatest political novels ever written. The heroine, Carol Kennicott, is intelligent, cultivated, and sensitive. Unfortunately, she thinks this makes her more important than other people. The result for Carol is personal misery and an inability to work for realistic improvements in her environment. It is only when Carol gets off her high horse and accepts her commonality with the other citizens of Gopher Prairie that she can escape from intense unhappiness and contribute to a more egalitarian future through pursuing achievable goals such as raising open-minded and enquiring children, and contributing tolerance and aesthetics to her dreary and provincial town.
The connection between “Main Street” and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors who have such such cruel and insensitive attitudes towards homeless people is that like Carol Kennicott, they need to get over their sense of entitlement. While I expect that Supervisors Colfax and Smith didn't vote for Bush, what difference does that make if they don't understand that homeless people are not inferior to them, only less lucky?
The author of the December 2 column “Off the Record” wrote eloquently that socialism is necessary for human survival and prosperity, but the psychological advantages of leftists not kidding ourselves that would be achieved through socialism are also important. Chez Panisse's Edible Schoolyard is a fine charity, and as a gifted home chef, I would like to believe in the Slow Food movement as political activism, but what difference does it make if one cooks seafood stock from scratch if children are hungry for bread? As George Orwell wrote in “Looking Back on the Spanish War,” when he criticized the “yogis of California” [Christopher Isherwood, etc.] for placing a greater value on “change of heart” than a change in the economic system: “The damned impertinence of these politicians, priests, literary men, and what not who lecture the working-class socialist for his 'materialism!' All that the working man demands is what these others would consider the indispensable minimum without which human life cannot be lived at all. Enough to eat, freedom from the haunting terror of unemployment, the knowledge that your children will get a fair chance, a bath once a day, clean linen reasonably often, a roof that doesn't leak, and short enough working hours to leave you with a little energy when day is done.”
Until these demands are met, everything else — even literature and delicious food — is superfluous, and comfortably situated leftists, such as myself, will live in a state of perpetual self-delusion.
Sheer torture it is to remember
what's at last burned down to an ember
but that blow to the heart —
all intention apart —
Strikes hardest that day in December.
Pebbles Trippet writes (Dec.16) that “LSD,'shrooms and marijuana — all central nervous system expanders — fueled the peace movement. It was our oil. Would anyone disagree?” Well, frankly, yes, unless Pebbles is ready to concede that it also fueled the death of the movement and led to many who became addicted, psychologically, if not physically, to act as if fighting for the right to take those “central nervous system expanders” trumps all the other political and economic issues facing our society today. It doesn't. That twisted choice of priorities was also alive and well during the 60s and 70s, exemplified by that decade's leading charlatan, Tim Leary.
But Pebbles may have been tripping too much at the time to realize that the fuel of the movement came not from the dopers but from those who were most endangered by the Vietnam war on the home front, the young men facing the draft and their families and friends. When Nixon shrewdly decided to end the draft, the movement deflated like a New Years' eve balloon on January one. Sure, marijuana and acid were around, as were psychedelic mushrooms, but no serious activist made taking them a priority and one of the movement's problems at the time were having to deal with those who did.
In the adjoining letter, Bob Wilkinson is still hung up on the notion that Iraq was a war for oil when there has been no evidence, quite the contrary, that it was. Unless it was a war for oil for China, for Russia, for Malaysia, for Angola, because those are the ones who have signed the big contracts with Iraq's oil ministry after a two-day auction earlier this month. He would be closer to the truth if he thought it was war orchestrated by the neocons for their favorite country, Israel.
He's also still hung up on the notion that Al Qaeda is a CIA front — which is almost a guarantee that he has never set foot in the region and knows nothing beyond the superficial about its peoples nor its history. Bob, the US does have enemies out there, enemies that have arisen in response to US imperialism, cultural, as well as militarily. And they are not always nice guys. By pretending that every attack against the US is a false flag operation (and, yes, such operations DO take place), it appears, you are simply projecting the willingness of most Americans to allow themselves to be routinely reamed by the system without showing the least sign of resistance on to people you know nothing about and who refuse to be patsies.
Finally, somehow I missed Tim Stelloh's piece comparing Amy Goodman with Ann Coulter which is simply ludicrous, particularly when he seems to infer that Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader and Barbara Lee are simply liberal-left mirror images of the likes of Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, and Dick Cheney, as if the relative power of those ultra right wing kooks compared to the trio of liberal leftists as well as their contrasting public records are irrelevant. It isn't that Kucinich, Lee, and Nader couldn't stand to be asked more than the usual softball questions by Amy or anyone else, but what, aside from Lee's general subservience to the Israel lobby, would you expect to uncover?
I also take issue with Tim when he lauds praise on Noam Chomsky whose name at this point in time I have no problem besmirching. Chomsky has been for some years and proudly so, the most important defender of the pro-Israel lobby within the ranks of the liberals and the left, not by praising it of course, but by going out of his way to dimiss its influence on US Middle East policy. To do that he has had to distort the history of US-Israel relations to such a degree that anyone who has actually studied the subject, as have I and others, might have legitmate reasons to question his motives as well as his intellectual honesty, particularly when he has also openly opposed the boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement designed to put global pressure on Israel.
Several years ago, I decided that he had to be challenged and I wrote an article: “Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict. I think AVA readers will find it enlightening.
Tim Stelloh replies: “Uncover” isn't a word we can use with good ol' Amy, as that would assume she (still) practices the respectable craft of investigative journalism. Yes, occasionally she'll feature the reporting of somebody else, but investigative journalism isn't what she does. She's a host. She does news from the left, for the left, that, much of the time, seems little more than PR. That's fine, but that's why I called her an ideologue (like Coulter). Both she and Coulter bag on the “mainstream media” with the same holier-than-thou glee for not covering the stuff they think the MSM should cover or for being complicit in the crises of the day. That's why I called her smug. That was my only point of comparison — 13 words in an 800 word essay about the MSM. To be clear, I agree with our esteemed editor, who pointed out last week that Goodman isn't a lying, raving fascist like Coulter. She's just overly-earnest, painfully dull and a terrible interviewer. To get back to the point, I don't want Goodman to try and “uncover” anything. I want something much more basic: a thorough, probing interview instead of drab asskissery. Re: Chomsky. I was talking about media, not Israel. But we appreciate the self promotion.
GOODWILL AT THE GRANGE
Tremendous thanks goes out to all who participated in making this year's Holiday dinner at the AV Grange a wonderful success. The goodwill and generosity of this community is truly heartening, and this event was a lovely expression of that. There are too many people to name but Thank you to all of the table and chair haulers and the kitchen and dining room setter uppers, the decorators that transformed the Grange to a warm and cozy setting, to the chefs who cooked the main dishes, the carvers, the servers, the 4-H elves/tree-trimmers, to Lynn Archambault and Bill Taylor for playing piano, to the AV Chorus for singing, to all those who helped Clean up and break down the tables and chairs, to those who brought greenery, and set up the lighting. And a final thanks to Diane Paget and Suzie Miller for all of their help in organizing this beautiful community event. Happy Holidays and New Year to all!
RUN OVER BY THE P.O.?
Letter to the Editor:
Excuse me, I lost my glasses and haven’t been able to read your paper causing three nervous breakdowns. Yet as Nietzche has said “Without focus there is no direction!”
The other day I was at Low Gap and State street when the light turned green and the green man said it was my turn to cross. No I am not talking about Sheriff Tom Allman. Mendocino County is such a green place. Just ask Captian Fathom!
Anyway, I was damn near run over by a silver truck, and I had the pedestrian right of way. When I looked up and glared at the driver, I realized it was my ex-parole officer by a number of years.
Big D.H. actually looked handsome at 35 miles per hour, dead on and I mean dead on!
He took one look at my sorry ass and told me to get out of the way, and I thanked him.
Some things will never change now will they?
PS. Carry the word, keep an eye out, and move on.
CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
Here is one for your “memo of the week” — no mention of the COMMUNITY.
Taylor: Lakeport officers respond to letter over debate
Written by Norman Taylor
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
It has come to the attention of the Lakeport Police Officers Association (LPOA) that at least one political candidate who was invited to the Lake County Law Enforcement Candidates Night has raised concern about this event not being open to the public. It is the position of the LPOA that it is proper for this event to be closed to the public. To explain our position I would like to let some things be known about how and why this event was planned.
Several of the Lake County law enforcement associations were individually approached by candidates for sheriff and district attorney. Those candidates requested to address the associations during association meetings with the desire to solicit a political endorsement.
Realizing that it is common for political candidates running for the offices of sheriff and district attorney to ask for a political endorsement from all of the county’s law enforcement groups, we joined together to create a group association meeting that would streamline the endorsement request process. This event will be focused on the issues most important to people employed in the law enforcement field in Lake County, so the candidates' comments will be specific to the group.
The LPOA is proud to be working with the other law enforcement associations in Lake County to produce a venue which will create a fair environment for candidates to solicit the associations for their individual support.
Norman Taylor is president of the Lakeport Police Officers Association.
LINK TV's program “Mosaic,” a digest of news clips from stations in the so-called “Middle East,” took time out from the usual sturm und drang to present, from Al Jazeera, a report on a goat beauty contest in Saudi Arabia. A crowd of men, sharply dressed in white robes and red-checked kaffiyehs, paid close attention as the judges scrutinized the animals, while an English voiceover of the Arabic commentary explained the proceedings.
“This is a beauty contest for these special goats. These are Syrian goats, introduced to our country by our Syrian brothers. They are primarily judged by the shape of their heads. The ideal head is round, with big eyes. It is preferred that these goats be black to dark brown, and with narrow waists. These goats command high prices, often even larger than the dowry for a beautiful woman…”
At this point I almost fainted from laughter. Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world named after a particular family, may have more problems than we might think. It is clear that the House of Saud is becoming too inbred, at least.
Humor Uber Alles!
HO HO HO
I'm streaming on a Wide Christmas,
just like on public radio.
With cell towers glist’nin’
and children pissin’
their names and weblogs in the snow.
I’m streaming on a Wide Christmas
with every twitter that I write.
May your text be smarmy and snide.
And may all your Christmases be Wide.
Don Morris, “Holiday Classics”
NOT ENOUGH JOBS
As you point out every chance you get, those who forecast a rosy future are probably wrong. The problems run deep. The hour is late! There are no painless solutions. Most leaders in all fields, not least journalism, instinctively avoid facing facts that erode faith and long-held belief systems. You identify with the claim that the impact of illegal immigration on the economy is “neutral.” That's the widely publicized point of view pushed by business and ethnic groups. Enclosed are other ways of looking at aspects of American mythology — immigration, diversity and the workability of democracy under crowded conditions. Alas, real solutions will require waking up to facts and reality. As for the effort to “create jobs,” President Obama has said that “150,000 additional jobs are needed each month just to keep up with the growing working population.” A critic asked why then “are we giving out 160,000 new green cards and temporary work permits each month to working age foreigners?” Add to this thousands of illegals and the term “neutral” becomes absurd.
Richard van Alstyne
PS. Senator Feinstein and many others say that immigration is what made this country great! Here is another view. The pity is that about the time European-based birth rates stabilized and began to care for the environment, Congress changed immigration policy to open the flood to prolific Third World hordes.
HO! HO! HO! We’re on the go as stimulus bucks flow to the Big Biz Show.
Obama-care will clear the air and make it fair for Medicare to cover those who decompose.
Got Osama on the run, visible in the noonday sun. Drones aloft will wipe him out giving way to a US rout.
Peace on earth, good will toward men, or Obama bombs will fall again.
Joe Don Mooney
PS. Norman Mailer said, “Fighting a war to fix something makes about as much sense as going to a whorehouse to get rid of the clap.”
PPS. A sign outside a Willits glassworks: “Christmas special! Custom blow jobs, sliding scale.”