Off The Record (Mar 19, 2014)
by AVA News Service, March 19, 2014
THE CANDIDATES! The race in the June 3 primary for the job of Mendocino County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder will be contested for the first time in years. Registered nurse Robin Sunbeam this week announced she would run for the position against incumbent Sue Ranochak. Ms. Sunbeam told the Ukiah Daily Journal, “When I see an injustice, I feel like I must set things straight. As the recent historic bank settlements have demonstrated, the big banks have robbed us all. And there is something we can do on the county level to protect the public from predatory banksters.”
INCUMBENT RANOCHAK pointed out that her office has no investigative authority, that mortgage fraud and other crimes committed by banks should be referred to the District Attorney's Office. “The county recorder shall not refuse to record any instrument, paper or notice that is authorized or required by statute, court order or local ordinance that relates to the recordation of any instrument, paper or notice that relates to real property to be recorded on the basis of its lack of legal sufficiency.”
SUNBEAM SERVED as treasurer for the Move to Amend Coalition of Mendocino County, the advisory measure calling for an end to corporate personhood. Measure F was approved by 75 percent of the Mendo vote.
COUNTY AUDITOR-CONTROLLER, Meredith Ford, did not file for re-election. Assistant Auditor-Controller Lloyd Weer is unopposed to succeed her.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY David Eyster, Sheriff Tom Allman, Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Schapmire and 5th District Supervisor Dan Hamburg are also unopposed for re-election.
WARREN GALLETTI, presently a Ukiah Unified School District school administrator, is running for Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools. Galletti, a lifelong resident of Mendocino County, says, “I believe my education experience as a teacher for seven years in PE, Industrial Math, geography and ROP, 12 years as secondary principal of both a comprehensive and continuation high school, five years as athletic director, 22 years as athletic coach, and my current position as Director of Student Services for Ukiah Unified has prepared me to lead the County Office of Education.”
GALLETTI IS ONE of three candidates for the Superintendent's job. Paul Tichinin, the intellectual who has held the position for twenty years, is retiring. Tichinin has done us all a big favor. He's supporting his assistant, a hyphenate called Paul Jones-Poulton, so we all know who NOT to vote for for this non-job that pays more than $120,000 a year.
RECENTLY appointed Mendocino County Superior Court judges Jeanine Nadel and David Riemenschneider are running for election unopposed. Incumbent judge John Behnke also runs for re-election unopposed.
LOCAL BALLOT MEASURES include Measure K for a Brooktrails fire tax increase, Measure L for a $4 million bond measure for the Round Valley Unified School District, and Measure N for a $10 million bond for the Southern Humboldt Joint Unified School District.
“WHY THE EMPTY BALLOTS?” wonders Ukiah Daily Journal editor KC Meadows in Sunday’s editorial. “Of all the county offices potentially on the ballot, only one incumbent faces a challenger, the county clerk-assessor-recorder. Only one other race has candidates — John Pinches' 3rd District supervisor seat. And that, we suspect, is only because he is retiring. All the other elected offices in the county on the 2014 ballot: the district attorney, sheriff, Fifth district supervisor, two judges, county auditor, and county tax collector will be held by incumbents (with the exception of Auditor Meredith Ford who is retiring. Her assistant (Lloyd Weer) will slide into the seat, running unopposed.) Why is this? Are people so happy with the way our county government is running that they simply accept that those in office should keep their jobs? Are people just too busy to run for local elected office? Is it too much trouble? Is it too expensive? Do incumbents have too much advantage? Is it a job no one wants any more? (These are full time jobs that pay very well. It can't be that they don't pay enough.) We'd like to hear from you. Why is it that no one wants these jobs any more? … Together maybe we can figure this out.”
LET’S TAKE THEM ONE BY ONE. DA: You have to be an attorney to run for District Attorney and there are actually very few attorneys with the relevant criminal experience to do the job, and even fewer, if any, who have the name recognition to run county-wide. Running countywide for anything is tough, hence our permanent, and permanently overlarge, cadre of judges. If you do run for DA, it’s hard to get traction (e.g., support from other attorneys, especially) against the incumbent DA who has mostly done a good job. (If DA Eyster doesn't prosecute Peter Keegan for the murder of his wife, Susan, he'll go straight to the top of our Not Doing A Good Job roster.) And you can argue about Eyster's method of dealing with pot cases — basically, the DA sells misdemeanors, a policy unique in the state. But Eyster's accessible, and he's generally reasonable, and reason and a sense of proportion is what we want in the County's top law enforcement officer.
SHERIFF: Sheriff Allman is an excellent politician, he's nimbly eluded scandal, and his department and the County Jail function smoothly. Nobody could successfully take him on. Allman's quite popular with the voting public, a popularity he's achieved via his unique ubiquity. The Sheriff doesn't seem to miss a public event anywhere in the County, from Covelo to Gualala. Captain Greg Van Patten, we hear, is Allman's likely successor, with Deputy Jason Caudillo a possible candidate for the job down the line. Way down the line. The job is Allman's for as long as he wants it.
DAN HAMBURG, who comes with a whole carousal of lunatic baggage, could not hold public office any place in the United States but here in Wacky Central, the Fifth District of Mendocino County. Hamburg is unopposed for re-election. He shares his constituents’ general lack of interest in the actual operations of the County — he and they are Big Thinkers, speakers of truth to power far, far away. Taking him on means the Wendy Roberts Treatment from Hamburg's sleazy core supporters, all of them also active in the Northcoast Democrats, Mendo branch. Roberts lost to Hamburg 4,000 votes (roughly) to her 2,900 votes (roughly). She was vilified as a pawn of developers, although developers are non-existent in the Fifth District and hard to find anywhere else in the County. A liberal Democrat, Roberts couldn't beat back the lies about her fast enough to defeat Hamburg, a putative liberal in the same sense that Obama is a liberal. The Potemkin local branch of the National Women's Political Caucus — maybe ten members — also endorsed Hamburg over Roberts, neatly mooting the organization's ostensible purpose. Hamburg is a registered Green, a defunct political entity in Mendocino County, and when it wasn't defunct entirely a creature of the Democrats. Only in Mendo...
BOTTOM LINE: Fewer than half of eligible Americans bother to vote. The political apathy and hopelessness prevalent in the country also prevails here.
WHY WOULD HOLLY MADRIGAL think that endorsements from Congressman Jared Huffman, lame duck State Senator Noreen Evans and lame duck Assemblyman Wes Chesbro will help her become Third District Supervisor? Electoral support for these three is, as they say, soft to non-existent. Stop the next ten people walking out of the Ukiah Safeway and maybe one would recognize one of the unholy trinity. They are irrelevant to life on the Northcoast as life is lived on the Northcoast or anywhere else, just as the national apparatus of career officeholders like them is irrelevant to most Americans except as one more negative force in their lives.
PINCHES brought something special to the Board of Supervisors. Agree with him or not, he was a totally independent voice, and certainly independent of this flabby, pseudo-liberal stranglehold that the Northcoast Democrats have placed us in. He's going to be missed.
MADRIGAL is running against three men. One is former supervisor Hal Wagenet; then there's a real estate guy named Woodhouse; and there's Clay Romero, a machinist. As a supervisor, Wagenet attended meetings. Beyond showing up, we can't remember him doing much of anything at all beyond automatic support for the ongoing scam called the North Coast Railroad Authority. If Woodhouse has any ideas about County government he has yet to reveal them. Ditto for Romero, although Romero can at least say he works hard for a living and has made a business that supports him and his family.
COMMENTING ON Malcolm Macdonald’s report about the KZYX Board meeting, Mitch Clogg of Mendocino writes: “Mr. Macdonald pulls his punches regarding Sakowicz. Sack has sought to ingratiate himself with the AVA, with some success. It’s too bad. No news-reporting source is better suited to tar & feather this fraud than yours. It doesn’t matter that he’s sometimes on the right side or that he is downright lyrical in chanting the stock truisms of citizenship. He is a devious man, a quality blindingly visible in everything he does and says. His attention to the truth or falsehood of anything has only to do with expediency. If a lie will further his present position, that’s far more legitimate, to John Sakowicz, than any other version, including the true one. His oratorical antics, his self-congratulations often composed from nothing more substantial than wind, would be laughable, except nobody’s laughing. This, keen-edged humor, is a mode of delivering information at which the AVA excels. I’ll be delighted when the AVA stops allowing itself to be a megaphone for this creature.”
I DON'T THINK MALCOLM MACDONALD knows Sako, and The Goddess Herself will tell you we've devoted much space to all manner of KZYX opinions that don't coincide with Sako's. And a bunch of rip jobs on Sako himself by various Sako-bashers. But we agree with Sako, and the many other station dissidents, on the overall quality of the management of the KZYX operation. We've often been critical of him and have disagreed with him, but we think it's positively weird that KZYX's Moonie-like hardcore devotes a whole meeting to teeing off on the guy. That kind of thing, orchestrated by station management, is always ugly, and leave it to the libs to get behind it with real enthusiasm. We thought Sako conducted himself admirable restraint as the parade of whining feebs denounced him, not one of whom addressed a single issue Sako had raised. We'll continue to print Sako's opinions just like we print pro-KZYZ opinions. We even print announcements of their events when they send them to us. It's called a free press. Doesn't exist, of course, at KZYX or this entire discussion would be occurring there, not in the pages of the AVA.
LOST in the fog of the group stoning of John Sakowicz at the KZYX Board meeting in Fort Bragg, were the specific complaints Sakowicz itemized when it was his turn to speak after his eight fellow KZYX Board members took turns telling him he was outtaline for filing an FCC complaint. For the record, Sako told his fellow board members that:
• General Manager John Coate had meddled in recent elections by recruiting an opponent to run against Sako.
• The formation of the Community Advisory Board, which is required by the station’s own bylaws, had come too late.
• The station has a history of exclusion: the AVA, Beth Bosk’s New Settler Interview, Ukiah Daily Journal Editor KC Meadows, and Ukiah low-power FM station KMEC and numerous individuals from Mitch Clogg to Marco Maclean.
• The station’s finances are unnecessarily obscure. Budgets don’t match from one version to the next. It’s hard to track the station’s true budget. (And Sakowicz is the Board Treasurer.)
• The station does not conduct open hiring. Sako says the station should have invited former newsperson Christina Amistad to apply for the news position instead of simply announcing the hiring of Mr. Kiplinger and Ms. Flynn.
• Open lines has been canceled. It’s an important public forum. Without Open Lines the public’s rights to access to the airwaves are being violated. Open Lines should be restored.
AT NO TIME during the group flagellation of Sako did any Board member or Board candidate address these complaints (other than a few of the dissidents saying that Open Lines should be restored.)
PS. LIES. A lie is a deliberate falsification. Most everything else is simply error. Or opinion. Human beings are known to err. They're also known to have a variety of opinions on all subjects. For the purposes of your beloved community newspaper, if you want to accuse someone of lying, don't lie yourself by not sending the 'lie' along so the rest of us can group on it to determine if it is indeed a lie or merely an opinion you don't like or simply a mistake. Standards of literacy have fallen so low in this country that "lies" are often just opinions the accuser violently disagrees with. Send it and let us all decide. Of course there are professional liars — Fox News, national political officeholders and so on, but here in Lilliput's media there isn't much lying, although there are huge lies of omission at places like KZYX and the Press Democrat where whole areas of local public life are no-go zones.
GEORGE CUNBA WRITES: “A letter writer says all of his clothes and his cell phone were made overseas and implies that the flight of jobs was the result of our minimum wage laws. Low-skill, low-wage manufacturing jobs are gone forever. They are now done by desperate people in Third World countries who must work for their minimum wage — 20¢ an hour? The jobs we have left are those that must be done on-site. Walmart might buy its inventory elsewhere, but it can't export checkers, stockers and janitors. No one can export plumbers, chambermaids, salesmen, mechanics and all of the people who go to work every morning in the USA. You can be sure that their jobs would be gone, too, if some capitalist could figure out how to do it. These people must raise their families in America, not Indonesia, and they deserve a living wage that will provide them with the necessities of life — and yes, a few luxuries. Walmart can afford it.”
PEBBLES TRIPPET of Navarro, the legendary fighter for sensible marijuana policies, has been named contributing editor for Skunk Magazine, the spunky national publication discussing everything having to do with the herb. In the March issue of Skunk, Pebs offers an interesting interview with Tori LaChapelle, “nurse, mother, medical cannabis advocate, social media writer, and 'medical refugee conductor.'“
"THE PROBLEM with a notion of equality or social justice that's rooted in the perspectives of multiculturalism and diversity is that from those perspectives you can have a society that's perfectly just if less than 1 percent of the population controls 95 percent of the stuff, so long as that one percent is half women and 12 percent black, and 12 percent Latino and whatever the appropriate numbers are gay.” (Adolph Reed Jr.)
ON-LINE COMMENT REGARDING the missing Malaysian airliner: “Why are we still relying on primitive broadcast transponder technology and even more primitive radar to keep track of commercial aircraft? For years now we've had the technology for live system data communications between the aircraft and the base on the ground. This allows us to automatically check critical systems and forewarn the crew of developing problems. Indeed, we can even take over failing systems to assure the safety of the passengers and the crew. If we can have complete telemetry and control of a rover in Mars we should also have telemetry of commercial airplanes and ships on Earth. The technology is there, and not prohibitively expensive. But we need to set up monitoring servers worldwide that can be accessed securely by the control towers. This coordination starts with the U.N., and it should set out to do it.”
FROM MONDAY'S CHRON: "Three Asian American state senators - including San Francisco's own Leland Yee - are asking fellow lawmakers to shelve a measure aimed at allowing California's public universities to once again consider race in admissions. The idea behind the proposed constitutional amendment is to make more room for Latinos and African Americans, who have been falling behind in admissions in recent years…"
HMMM. Why do Asian students do so well out of all proportion to their numbers in our crumbling society? Is it because they are innately smarter than the rest of us? Or is it because the public schools in places like San Francisco are under-funded, under-staffed and over-studented in an ethnically balkanized society whose popular culture amounts to a kind of cultural cancer designed specifically to murder young people? Call me whatever, but if you know any Asians well enough that they'll speak frankly with you, especially Chinese immigrants, they will tell you that they know our society is totally apeshit and that they commit their lives inoculating their young against it, specifically by isolating, insofar as it's possible, their children from it.
THE FOLLOWING observation may apply here: As a rule, home-schooled young people, at least in my experience, are much less neurotic, certainly more pleasant during their keen teen years, and much better academically prepared than most of their publicly-schooled peers. Why? Because their parents, like Asian immigrant parents, know our popular culture is a killer. Of course we've all known some unusually strong young people who've somehow emerged whole from nutso families and terrible schools, but they're the exception.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Mendocino County Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, March 22, at 10:00 AM to noon at the Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, Fort Bragg. For further information contact the ultimate upstream swimmer, Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.
AN INFLAMMATORY STORY in a recent Chronicle begins, “San Francisco spends $165 million a year on services for homeless people, but all that money hasn't made a dent in the homeless population in at least nine years.”
A BIG HUNK of that money goes for salaries for the helping professionals, so-called, whose first loyalty is to their own long-term employment. The programs? A few shelters dominated by thugs and run by martinets who, themselves, tend to be troubled people. Over the years, several thousand badly damaged people have been placed in subsidized housing, but the country is falling apart faster than the half-assed, wildly inefficient programs run by San Francisco can hope to cope with.
I SAID “INFLAMMATORY” because at the mere mention of the homeless the comment lines light up with versions on the theme of “Shoot them all,” and that's the danger of a two-tier society, that its isolated-from-it-all owners, rather than pay their fair share of the social burden, passively unleash massive bad feeling. Or worse.
THE PROB, or one of them, is in the definition of “homeless.” In SF, as in Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Willits, the drunks, dopeheads and the harmlessly insane are now more numerous and difficult than the expensive strategies that try to help them — there are simply too many of them. (We had a homeless guy in Boonville for a number of years, but he got help, got sober and went indoors in Fort Bragg, his original hometown.)
BUT THERE are all kinds of homeless people, many of them hidden away, respectable people living out of their vehicles or even sleeping outside but still trying to recover after losing their work and whatever living situation they had. Shelters are too dangerous for the vulnerable, and the waiting lists are long for permanent housing.
USED TO BE, all persons unable or unwilling to care for themselves went straight into the bin. These are the people, now reinforced by the roving Pitbull Brigades, who are bad for public morale, who frighten the elderly, who ruin public spaces. But the Pitbull Brigades, estranged young people who lounge around all day panhandling and getting loaded, should not be lumped in with the serious street drunks, the hopelessly addicted, the insane. These people belong in the viable state hospital system that our corrupted political system will not fund because funding it means taxing the rich at a fair rate. The Pitbull Brigades? They should be given the option of a fenced tent camp in the Candlestick parking lot or jail.
THE REAGAN counter-revolution closed most of the state hospitals, including the one at Talmage, east of Ukiah. Local cops used to be able to park Mendocino County's chronic drunks and crazy people in that hospital. But today, only those persons who are thought to represent a clear and present danger to themselves and/or others get a berth in a lock-up hospital. At any given time, Mendocino County's chronic drunks and really, really crazy people are housed in the Mendocino County Jail, although a few of them occupy local public office. Jail, of course, is not a good place for a mentally ill person to recover him or herself. (The cops, by the way, are quite pleased with the new privatized County health system because, they say, they can turn over responsibility for a disturbed person to one of the privatized counselors and go on about their patrol business. The old system forced them to wait around until someone made a decision whether or not to take the patient to jail. If the decision is made to sequester the patient after a consultation with the privatized counselor, another cop is dispatched to do that.)
WAY BACK IN THE DAY, the fortunate were taxed at better than 90% of their big incomes. The figure of $100,000 a year, I vaguely recall, was the cutoff in 1950. I thought that until a reader wrote in with the specifics, which are: In 1950, individuals making over $200,000, and couples making $400,000 were taxed at 91 percent. The Tax Man spent it on at least a few of the basic, civilized amenities like state hospitals for the insane and the incompetent. Chronic drunks and the few pioneer dopers back then were also packed off to dry out and un-addict themselves. Can you even imagine any elected official these days demanding a return to 91 percent?
THE SYMPATHETIC HOMELESS are not the young people depicted in the Chronicle's photo accompanying a recent story on the increase in SF's homelessness. The people depicted, the Grunge and Pitbull people, annoy almost everyone. They are homeless by choice. They're out there because, undoubtedly, their families and the communities they came from rightly regard them major ass-pains. But if you're young, work-averse and terminally obnoxious, but you can get free meals in communities of any size all over the country, you can easily live rough. I confess, though, that if I were young and the choice was, say, stocking shelves at Walmart or wandering around the country with my sleeping bag, attack dog and nose ring, I'd probably choose wandering around the country.
THE PITBULL TRAVELERS flaunt their aggression, and they wreck public space for everyone else. The hoboes of yesteryear were, by and large, paragons of humility. And stealth. They had to be because the cops were always on them. But they didn't plunk themselves down in the street or a public park to menace passersby, and a lot of them really would work for food. Of course America was much less tolerant of aberrant behavior then and there were zero welfare programs outside church. You pretty much had to earn your way or starve.
WE GOT WHERE we are politically, and we'll get out politically. Maybe. Homelessness works nicely as a metaphor for the political entropy we've arrived at. How can any rational person listen to a speech by the president or congressman Huffman or the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (an especially lame group of intellectually impaired individuals for the past twenty years), and expect an intelligent, adequately funded, sustained movement to get people off the streets?
THE 99% MOVEMENT at least got millions of people thinking clearly about how unfair the present social-economic arrangement is. The task now is to get people to do something about it. I recommend, as a first step, voting NO on any person affiliated with either the Democratic or the Republican parties. (Except for Elizabeth Warren.) Any candidate, on the off chance one arises, who wants to tax the rich at the old confiscatory rates should be supported. Career officeholders of the Feinstein-Pelosi-Boehner-Huffman-Chesbro type have to go. Every single social-environmental-political problem we have, we have because of these people and the plutocracy that funds them.
ANOTHER INLAND MENDO PERV, with implications of internet pornography, has been arrested. This guy is linked to a Talmage couple charged with sexually abusing their five children. At the Boonville Road home of Walter Jesse Creed, 47, police have found “a large amount of child pornography,” and, police say, back in January, a young woman told police that her Talmage-based parents had not only repeatedly molested her themselves from the time she was 4 until she was 11 years old, they had allowed other adults, including Creed, to sexually violate her, too.
DONALD Dunakin, 61, and his girlfriend, Ina Selene Medina, 47, are the parents of the girl. They were arrested in January at their Talmage home on an array of mega-perv charges, including torture and sexual assault. Their five children have been placed in foster homes. According to the Sheriff's Office, Creed met Dunakin and Medina through online chat rooms. There are at least six child molestation cases pending in the local courts.
THE DEBAUCHING of children on the scale we now see, seems to have commenced in Mendocino County with advent of Do Your Own Thing-ism, circa 1966, a subset of which was the sexual exploitation of children. You'd hear the rumors, but there were few arrests, so maybe, hopefully, it wasn't as widespread as was often suspected.
THE INFAMOUS Tree Frog Johnson and Kenneth Parnell, were the best known of the local degenerates whose crimes were so spectacular they continue to draw international attention. I don't think Jim Jones rapes children but he certainly beat them.
PARNELL, to give you an idea of what those times were like, was able to enroll the child he'd kidnapped in Modesto, Steven Staynor, in schools in Point Arena and Mendocino with not a single person in authority making any effort to determine Parnell's relationship to the boy.
TREE FROG JOHNSON, who is black, appeared in Boonville in the middle 1970s with a small white boy named Alex Cabarga. The boy's Berkeley mother had turned her son over to Frog because she said Frog was the coolest man she knew and would be a good role model for the boy. Which also gives you some idea of the prevailing psycho-social vibe in those years. Frog molested quite a number of Boonville hippie kids before it occurred to the first-wave stoners that he was not a wholesome person.
(HISTORICAL FACT: In Boonville, Tree Frog lived on the Redwood Ridge property of Supervisor-to-be, David Colfax. Colfax always insisted he didn't know Frog was a criminal predator, and I believe him. It was the times. Weirdness was everywhere.)
WHAT DID THE BOONVILLE hippies do when they found out there was a monster in their midst? Of course they couldn't go to The Man, so they “shunned” Frog down the road to Albion where, natch, Frog attached himself to the hippies at the Whale School where he molested their children.
MAYBE the Albion dings finally “shunned” Frog, too, but the next we heard of him, Frog had kidnapped a female child as an age-inappropriate mate for the boy he'd come to Boonville with, the unfortunate Cabarga. Bay Area police soon nailed Frog and that was the end of him, buried deep forever in the state prison system.
THE CABARGA KID, who'd spent his formative years with this monster, managed to survive the experience, which included a long stay in prison and, I'm told, lives a normal life in San Francisco.
I ONLY had one experience with Tree Frog. I'd seen him around Boonville on an undersize motorcycle, the little boy riding pillion, one more odd visual consistent with the times. A friend had given me a step-van he'd outfitted like a camper much like the one Frog was eventually captured in by the Frisco police. The van was much more high maintenance than I had the patience or the resources for, so I placed a for sale ad in the beloved community newspaper, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which was even more beloved at the time because I still hadn't bought it.
FROG, accompanied by a long-hair I knew, soon appeared. The long-hair did all the talking as Frog walked around the vehicle kicking the tires and peering under the hood. Whenever I addressed the guy, he looked to the long-hair like he needed a translator. I thought maybe Frog was deaf or otherwise language- impaired. Frog didn't buy the thing, fortunately for me, because he was arrested in a step-van identical to mine right down to the exterior paint.
THE NEXT TIME I saw the long-hair I asked him, “What's the deal with that guy you brought by to look at my van? How come he doesn't talk.” The long-hair explained, “Oh, he just doesn't like straight people.”
A LITTLE LATE RAIN falls on Mendocino County, the lakes and ponds fill up, our outback governments suggest by their actions that the drought has ended. Well, half-ended. For now. Or isn't likely to re-commence until next winter, which may or may not be as dry as the last three winters.
THE WILLITS CITY COUNCIL has voted 4 to 1 to reduce the Willits water emergency level from Phase V to Phase IV, effective now, meaning a 25% cut for commercial and industrial users and a 200 gallon per day maximum residential use.
WILLITS’s two reservoirs presently contain 1,249 acre feet of water, “enough,” according the usual timely reporting by Linda Williams of The Willits News, “water to supply city customers for at least a year at 2012 normal usage rates.”
THE DANGER in a deceptively lush supply in another dry year is as Supervisor Pinches characterizes Mendocino County's water strategies: “When it rains everyone says we've got plenty of water. When it doesn't rain everyone says, 'What are going to do now?' "
PINCHES thinks we should develop and store more water on the assumption that there are going to be dry years, or long periods of dry years. We'll know by September if we're as flush as the City of Willits seems to think we are.
THE TERRIFIC DOCUMENTARY FILM by Alex Gibney about Julian Assange seemed irrefutable to me, but lots of people on the left assumed it was a kind of filmic hit piece. I thought it was brave and very careful, given that Assange had instantly become an internationally iconic figure. I was especially struck by Gibney's patient identification and testimony of the two terrified Swedish women whom Assange and his millions of allies had vilified as lying floozies. They were both great admirers of Assange who made the mistake of going to bed with him, during which Assange behaved badly enough for the women to complain to the police that Assange had assaulted them. Gibney reveals them as respectable persons who simply refused to endure the great man's abuse.
THE GIST of the film is that bad people, and in Assange's case maybe a bad and crazy person, can do great things. Ripping the masks off the international political thuggery that we know is routine but usually lack the specifics to verify is the great thing Assange has done. The film, however, is pegged to the huge contradiction at the heart of the guy; while he reveals the machinations and murders of governments, especially ours, he makes his own friends and employees sign secrecy oaths that they not say anything about him short of hosannas. Assange is so far removed from his own reality he doesn't see the irony. Or any ironies. He conducts himself as if he's infallible. Anybody who has a problem with his behavior, the problem is with the critic, not him. And he's rude, and he eats with his hands, and he's a major monologist, and he's a pig around women.
NOW WE HAVE WRITTEN confirmation that Assange may indeed be nuts. Andrew O'Hagan is a well-known writer, and a very good one. In the March 6th issue of the London Review of Books, O'Hagan describes, almost blow-by-blow, his recent experience as Assange's ghostwriter. The following paragraphs neatly sum up the aborted project:
“…Julian was getting a lot of flak in the press for making Wiki-employees sign contracts threatening them with a £12 million lawsuit if they disclosed anything about the organization. It was clear he didn’t see the problem. He has a notion that WikiLeaks floats above other organizations and their rules. He can’t understand why any public body should keep a secret but insists that his own organization enforce its secrecy with lawsuits. Every time he mentioned legal action against the Guardian or the New York Times, and he did this a lot, I would roll my eyes, but he didn’t see the contradiction. He was increasingly lodged in a jungle of his own making and I told Jamie it was like trying to write a book with Mr. Kurtz…
“He doesn’t understand other people in the slightest and it would be hard to think of a leader who so reliably got everyone wrong, mistaking people’s motivations, their needs, their values, their gifts, their loyalty, and thereby destroys their usefulness to him. He was always very solicitous of me when I was with him, but I could tell he responded much more to the fact that I like a joke than to the notion that I was a professional writer. The latter mattered to him for five seconds when he was trying to find a writer to work with, but it was the time-wasting, authority-baiting side that really kept our relationship alive. He thought I was his creature and he forgot what a writer is, someone with a tendency to write things down and perhaps seek the truth and aim for transparency…
“He runs on a high-octane belief in his own rectitude and wisdom, only to find later that other people had their own views — of what is sound journalism or agreeable sex — and the idea that he might be complicit in his own mess baffles him. Fact is, he was not in control of himself and most of what his former colleagues said about him just might be true. He is thin-skinned, conspiratorial, untruthful, narcissistic, and he thinks he owns the material he conduits. It may turn out that Julian is not Daniel Ellsberg or John Wilkes, but Charles Foster Kane, abusive and monstrous in his pursuit of the truth that interests him, and a man who, it turns out, was motivated all the while not by high principles but by a deep sentimental wound. Perhaps we won’t know until the final frames of the movie.”
THE ORIGIN OF BASEBALL
Someone had been walking in and out
Of the world without coming
To much decision about anything.
The sun seemed too hot most of the time.
There weren't enough birds around
And the hills had a silly look
When he got on top of one.
The girls in heaven, however, thought
Nothing of asking to see his watch
Like you would want someone to tell
A joke — “Time,” they'd say, “what's
That mean — time?,” laughing with the edges
Of their white mouths, like a flutter of paper
In a madhouse. And he'd stumble over
General Sherman or Elizabeth B.
Browning, muttering, “Can't you keep
Your big wings out of the aisle?” But down
Again, there'd be millions of people without
Enough to eat and men with guns just
Standing there shooting each other.
So he wanted to throw something
And he picked up a baseball.
— Kenneth Patchen
FOR NO OTHER REASON than it’s been a long time since anyone read Steve Talbot’s revealing article for salon.com about the Judi Bari bombing, we’re providing this link to the piece because it’s been deliberately ignored by the scammers still making a few bucks off the mythology surrounding the old girl. Talbot, for those of you who came in late, produced the original, non-propaganda version of Who Bombed Judi Bari, which aired originally on KQED out of San Francisco in 1991 about a year after the bombing.
WHY IS THE ABOVE ADVERTISEMENT FUNNY?
A reader responded: “It's an update on the Back-to-the-Land Movement. Return to the soil, get it?”