Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
by AVA News Service, September 24, 2016
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
— John Keats
LOTS OF QUESTIONS, NO ANSWERS
Letter to the Editor
Questions for the County Mental Health Trio:
Last night the Ukiah Mental Health Trio of Jenine Miller (MH Director), Tammy Moss Chandler (HHSA Director) and Camille Schraeder (Redwood “Quality Management Company” and “Community Services”) came to Fort Bragg. The event was not well publicized or the room would have been filled but many of those who came have ongoing front line experience with the Mental Health services our family member/friend DOES NOT have. Here are some questions that still need answers.
When someone needs a psychiatry appointment, why do you subject the person to an “Assessment” that takes two weeks AND to a 30-day wait for an appointment with a psychiatrist? The Assessment isn’t even done by a nurse or doctor.
Why would you put a Psychiatric Crisis Center in downtown Fort Bragg in the Bank of America building? What are your opinions on a person’s right to privacy and dignity?
Fort Bragg needs an Open Mental Health Medical Clinic one day a week, as we had before. Why do you respond with the suggestion of using a Clinician instead of a doctor or nurse? Mental illnesses are medical conditions and we don’t want a gatekeeper slowing the process of treatment with a doctor or nurse.
Why wouldn’t you tell us what psychiatrists are available in Fort Bragg, on what days of the week and where their offices are?
Why do you do nothing about family members being told to kick a gravely disabled loved one out on the street in order to be conserved and receive support and treatment?
Why is MCDH (Coast Hospital) so inferior to Adventist Health in treating patients in a psychiatric crisis, what can you do about it, and why don’t you do something like provide transportation to inland hospitals?
The County Mental Health Budget (online) is $27 million. Why do you always muddy the waters by saying, “No, it’s only $15 million and we have to submit paperwork to get it”? Well, submit the damn paperwork and shut up about it, and tell the truth that there is $27 million for Mental Health services and you only use $5 million of it to treat Adult Patients.
You made the point that 300 people in Los Angeles right now are awaiting placement in a psychiatric hospital so that’s why you have trouble getting timely placements for our people in psychiatric crisis. Isn’t this a perfect argument to vote YES on Measures AG and AH so we have our own psychiatric hospital and spend some of that $27 million here?
Why is the Patient’s Rights Advocate invisible again, now that you did not renew the contract of the independent Grace Fantulin RN?
Why did you take up so much of our time last night with your boring and mostly incomprehensible Power Point (slideshow)? Many people in the audience wanted to ask questions and get answers and that was cut short.
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UBER is now available in Ukiah, but not yet available in Willits or Fort Bragg. There are rumors of alternate cab service coming to the Anderson Valley, Mendocino County's most happening venue.
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SUPERVISOR WOODHOUSE remains among the missing, not missing exactly but housebound while the North County solon gets a grip on himself. Nice guy but perhaps feeling a bit overwhelmed with the obligations he's taken on with elected office.
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RECOMMENDED READING: Roosevelt and the Isolationists by Wayne Cole. Professor Cole isn't much of a prose stylist but his account of FDR's struggle to get America ready for the inevitable war with the fascisti is nevertheless fascinating, with lots of interesting portraits of the opposition led by, among others, the anti-Semitic Henry Ford and proto-fascist Charles Lindbergh.
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KPFA on the ropes? I tuned in occasionally as a high school kid in the early days of Pacifica, not that I understood much of the discussion, and tuned in a lot as I turned steadily leftward as a young man. I think KPFA peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the "left" still existed with enough force to actually prompt the government to undermine and even murder some of it. KPFA also seemed smarter, much better informed, far more articulate, amusingly ironic, much more literate. I find much of programming these days to be pretty tedious with pronounced crank tendencies. I put the great slide at the retirement of Larry Bensky and, before that, the crazy investment in a building and studios and the mound of debt that came with it. Of course when the "left" attempts a cooperative project you get lots of permanently aggrieved people who manage to conflate their personal misery (and nuttiness) with progressive politics, not to mention the inevitable opportunists, thus bringing down the whole enterprise. (KZYX right here in Mendo was immediately besieged by outpatients, a number of them full-time staff.) Overall, though, I think the prob with institutions like public radio and all the rest of established media is the neo-fact that everyone now has his own radio station, his own newspaper, his own program.
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ACTUAL NEWS. The privatized arm of Mendocino County Mental Health is opening a branch in downtown Fort Bragg in the Bank of America building. Fort Bragg's central city is becoming a kind of magnet for the walking wounded and their lushly paid helpers. The BofA, as clarified by Supervisor Dan Gjerde, "would be office space for Redwood Children Services and Redwood Quality Management. For several months Camille Schraeder has said the combined offices of Redwood Children Services and Redwood Quality Management will need elbow room in Fort Bragg. Recently, Camille Schraeder said RCS/RQMC made two attempts to purchase the Affinito building on South Franklin Street, but complications with the building's debt, among other things, caused the property to be beyond reach. At Thursday night's mental health forum, Camille Schraeder said she was planning for Redwood Children Services and Redwood Quality Management to locate into the Bank of America building's vacant office space."
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THE JOHN WOLFE case: Wolfe is the former Navarro man facing felony assault charges for attacking Ann Knight, also of Navarro, back in July. The DA, in the form of Kevin Davenport of Fort Bragg's Ten Mile Court, is rightly holding out for felony assault, while Wolfe hopes to bust down his vicious one-punch attack on the Navarro grandmother to a misdemeanor. Wolfe was in court again earlier this week but nothing has been resolved as the matter was again put over. Wolfe, fired from his job at the Boonville brewery, has moved with his wife to the Ukiah area.
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EDITORIAL ASIDE on tough guys, real ones and the kind who knock out women in Navarro and kill the unsuspecting with one punch in Laytonville. There's a world of difference between tough and vicious, a distinction these two tough guys don't seem able to make, probably because they've always walked lightly among men who would gladly take them on.
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NANCY SUTHERLAND makes some good points in her recent letter of opposition to the Sheriff’s mental health facilties initiative. The proponents of AG/AH (or the County, or both) should make it clear that the money derived from the half-cent sales tax would only be spent on facilities that are sized so that they can be staffed by existing mental health funding (or new funding separate from the General Fund). That seems to be what we’ve sort of heard from the AG/AH proponents so far (when they declared the County’s analysis to be “worst case”), but we have not seen it specifically addressed.
PROPOSITION 67 would ban plastic bags, and one more example of a ballot initiative put to the voters because our legislators are afraid of the "American Progressive Bag Alliance" (sic). We've all known old bags and lots of us have, from time to time, been in the bag, and every day we tie on a feedbag. But we seldom associate plastic bags with nationality or progressivism. The plastic bag lobby has outdone itself here with their patriotic effort to foul our fair land and waters with their deadly, forever product. The American progressive people opposed to banning plastic bags are — you guessed it! — the people who manufacture the things. YES on 67.
SURPRISING SEVERAL LOCAL SKEPTICS, the Anderson Valley Community Services District passed its first major hurdle last week when they voted unanimously to approve the first engineering and planning services contract with the Sonoma County civil engineering firm of Brelje and Race to conduct a comprehensive array of technical and cost planning and studies followed by preparation of numerous state required documents and environmental reports for a wastewater treatment system in downtown Boonville. The work will be done under a recently approved $500k State Water Resources Board grant and is expected to begin in October and be completed by about this time next year. "I anticipate that they will be getting right on this," said CSD Board chair Valerie Hanelt.
A separate but similar $500k grant for a downtown Boonville water system is "right behind this one," said Hanelt. The water system grant is more technically challenging because it involves an as-yet unknown number of test wells and other physical water tests (which can be expensive, depending on how many test wells must be drilled), and because the water system grant conditions require that the water system be built to firefighting standards that can provide for sprinklers in new buildings, and sustain higher volumes and pressures for fire engines and hydrants.
The district is in the process of finalizing a collection of frequently asked questions and answers about the two projects to be posted soon on the district website.
Asked if the water system might become too expensive to be approved by the voters in the service area because of the state requirement that the system not only supply drinking water but high pressure, high-volume firefighting water, sprinklers and hydrants, Ms. Hanelt said, "That's a moot point. The state requires it for the grant." However, she added, the state also requires that the ultimate system be "affordable," meaning that the base rate for a residential water and sewer service cannot exceed 2% of the monthly income of the property owners in the service area because Boonville is considered to be a very low income area. Apparently the state kicks in higher grant funding for the project if the estimated costs (including long-term financing) exceed the 2% per month threshold.
Anyone interested in the progress and status of the Community Services District's water and sewer system grant applications can examine the primary official documents and related information at the district's website: avcsd.org. (Click on "Water and Sewer Proposal for Boonville.") The District intends to keep the website current as the project moves forward.
ACCORDING TO AIRPORT MANAGER and CSD board member Kirk Wilder, a Little River based air service and car rental operation called "Air Galore" is planning to position a rental car or two somewhere in Boonville for pilots who get fogged out on the Coast and have to land inland. Air Galore owner-operator Mary Fairbanks told us Friday that she is in the process of recruiting a part-time rep for Boonville and that the rentals would be available to local non-pilots as well as pilots via a registration or as-available system. (For more info go to www.air-galore.com).
MARGE HANDLEY? MARGE HANDLEY
To the Editor:
A year ago I would have said that there wasn’t a chance that I would write a letter in support of medical cannabis. I always perceived that medical marijuana was a joke and just an excuse for potheads to get high.
I have been taking anti-inflammatories for 10 years because of severe joint pain. This medication is hard on your liver and your kidneys and it is prudent to get both checked on a yearly basis to be sure no damage has been done.
About six months ago, Jude Thilman from the Dragonfly Dispensary in Fort Bragg spoke at our Rotary Club meeting about the benefits of medical cannabis. After I heard her very persuasive presentation as to the benefits, I decided that I really had nothing to lose if I tried it. I stopped taking my medication to see if I really still needed it and within several days I could barely walk because of the pain and throbbing in my joints. I was able to get a prescription for the cannabis which is required, and went over to Fort Bragg and bought the cannabis tincture. She told me that there might not be a noticeable benefit for a few weeks. Exactly eight days later I woke up in the morning, hopped out of bed and suddenly realized there was no pain — no throbbing joints. I also convinced a friend who is suffering from Lyme disease to try it and she says she hasn’t felt this pain free in years.
The thing that I was unaware of until I heard Jude’s talk is that CBD tinctures are NOT psychoactive…one will not get high from this form of medical cannabis and I have been further educated lately to find that there is a group of women in Willits who are breeding a special plant that will be totally free of THC.
I see the emerging cannabis industry as something that can be a cutting edge industry for our community as well as the County. Let there be labs so testing can be done. Let there be dispensaries where people who are in pain can buy the product, but let it be legal and taxed and regulated like all other business and agricultural products, and let it bring legitimate jobs to our City.
Times change and new information becomes available. It is important not to get stuck in the past with perceptions that we have carried over from childhood.
I believe we have an opportunity to create an industry that will benefit society in many ways. One thing is for sure — if we don’t, someone else is going to and they will then reap the benefit of the jobs and sorely needed income to the City/County.
I want to make one thing very clear. I have never smoked pot or taken products that will make me high. I have no interest in that whatsoever. I think we should embrace medicinal cannabis and quit calling it medical marijuana. There is a difference.
STATE REGULATORS SOLICIT RULES INPUT FROM NORTH COAST POT ENTREPRENEURS
by Julie Johnson
North Coast medical marijuana entrepreneurs met with state regulators in Santa Rosa on Thursday for a brainstorming session aimed at soliciting local input before the state begins writing regulations for California’s medical marijuana businesses.
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act signed into law last year established just the skeleton of a system but did not codify the specific rules for cultivation, distribution, testing, quality assurance and a variety of other cannabis businesses.
Thursday’s meeting at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial building drew more than 200 people and was the state’s third in a series in cities across the state, from Redding to San Diego, to vet ideas with those already involved in the industry.
“People feel scared to get involved, but this is the community writing their future,” said Tawnie Logan, executive director of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance.
Lori Ajax, chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, said one theme emerging in the meetings is the concern about the potential for monopolies.
“A lot of small business people are asking, ‘How can the system help us compete with big businesses?’” Ajax said.
The regulations will create a licensing structure that has been missing since medical cannabis was legalized 20 years ago. The state expects to write the rules by the end of 2017 and begin accepting applications for licenses on Jan. 1, 2018.
Meanwhile, California voters will have the opportunity in November to vote on legalizing marijuana’s recreational use. Ajax said the state is moving forward with this process, while keeping in mind that legalizing recreational use could affect state regulations.
The state is developing five licenses — manufacturing, distribution, transportation, dispensaries, testing labs and cultivation — handled through three different state departments.
Businesses must first acquire permits from a local government. An-Chi Tsou, senior policy adviser at the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, said the law clearly gives California’s 482 cities and 52 counties the ability to determine what aspects of the industry, if any, can occur in local jurisdictions.
“If your local government doesn’t have a local ordinance, you cannot operate,” Tsou said.
Medical marijuana businesses are still banned in at least 60 percent of California, according to an analysis by the California Growers Association. Sonoma County and some of its cities permit dispensaries. Santa Rosa has so far taken the lead in broadening the types of activities allowed to include processing, manufacturing, distribution and cultivation businesses, and has begun issuing zoning clearances.
Tsou said that the state aims to create a system that won’t block people with criminal backgrounds out of hand. They are considering requiring an application to include a “letter of good standing” from a local government to help the state determine a person has been “rehabilitated.”
She said it’s likely the state will allow local governments to define “good standing.”
That raised alarms for many in the room.
“It’s easier to get a gun,” said Dona Frank, founder of OrganiCann dispensary in Santa Rosa, during a small group discussion. “Cities and counties, they’re going to determine that you’ve been rehabilitated?”
Ciaran McCarthy, manager of Sonoma Lab Works whose colleague Dennis Hunter was arrested in June after Santa Rosa police raided their Circadian Way facility, said he’s concerned people with convictions based on outdated laws will be barred from working in the field.
Hunter, who served time in federal prison for marijuana cultivation, was released from jail after the recent arrest and the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office has not filed any charges against him.
“All the folks who have risked it all to build this industry, does this prevent them from continuing in the field?” McCarthy said. Thursday’s meeting ran more than four hours, with people discussing topics in small groups, from general ideas to specifics on manufacturing.
Participants came from dispensaries, law firms, farms, laboratories and delivery services.
“We’re here to listen; both the state and the people in this room are potential customers,” said Tim Woodbury, director of government relations for Accela, a San Ramon-based software company that built licensing and inspection software in Colorado, where marijuana is legal.
For more information about the developing regulations and to provide input, visit www.bmcr.ca.gov.
(The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
SPEND THE NIGHT AT THE LIGHTHOUSE
The renovated Point Arena lightkeeper’s cottage is one of four at the Mendocino Coast lighthouse outpost now available for rent.
BRAIN NEEDED FOR MCDH WELLNESS FESTIVAL
Joe and Ruth Sparks wrote: Hi out there. Fort Bragg Rotary will have a “Brain Booth” to promote READ ALOUD 15 MINUTES at the MCDH Wellness Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15. There’s lots of valid information to reinforce the value of READ ALOUD but what we really want to find is a brain in a jar for display. Does any former med/science student have one? Could we borrow a brain for the day? Thanks!
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You can buy a brain-shape-and-size jello mold with brain-colored jello mix on the web. It shouldn't be too hard to find. I'll bet they have them at the local party store. Possibly also in a toy store or the science-and-telescopes store where Bank of America used to be, in Mendocino. Suspend it in some clear liquid that doesn't dissolve jello.
CATCH OF THE DAY,
Bailey, Blanton, Cook, Holston
SKYLER BAILEY, Willits. Court order violation, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JESSE BLANTON, Ukiah. Community Supervision violation.
NELSON COOK, Gualala. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
COREY HOLSTON, Sebastopol/Hopland. Vandalism, interfering with law enforcement communications, false ID, county parole violation.
Koski, Miles, Nesbitt, North
AARON KOSKI SR., Fort Bragg. Brandishing, criminal threats, probation revocation.
DAKOTA MILES, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JESSIE NESBITT, San Francisco/Willits. Parole violation.
MICHAEL NORTH, Fort Bragg. Possession of burglary tools, resisting.
Pike, Pulido, Renwick
GREGORY PIKE, Albion. Suspended license, failure to appear.
TRINIDAD PULIDO, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license.
DOUGLAS RENWICK, Arcata/Laytonville. DUI.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Contraction can be done in an intelligent manner so as to attain sustainable survival at a lower level of consumption.
A lower level of consumption does not mean “medieval” or “third world” … it just means a rational sacrifice of our unhealthy and unjust levels of consumption. Energy contraction leads to a healthier lifestyle and a new focus on “we” instead of “me.”
I never made more than $33,000 per year working. I started my own economic contraction ten years ago by learning to live simply.
After getting debt-free, finding an inexpensive place to live, learning skills, becoming part of a community of like-minded people (I support them, they support me… because we all think in terms of “we” not “me”), I now have my affairs in order …
I am now enjoying the benefits of energy contraction, so I am speaking from personal experience. It can be done. It does not require “capital” to produce wealth. I now consider myself wealthy… with a total of $15,000 annual non-taxable income… That is why I do not agree that the only two choices are to “Grow or Die”
I know how to live luxuriously within my means. Anyone can do it. Just takes some planning, an adventurous spirit, and self-discipline.
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE!
Three Phoenix police officers quit the force after a man claimed they forced him to eat marijuana found in his vehicle. Police Chief Joseph Yahner announced the news late Thursday, saying the officers’ “actions are appalling and unacceptable. This conduct is against everything that we stand for.” The three officers were identified as Richard G. Pina, Jason E. McFadden, and Michael J. Carnicle. Two of the men are under investigation over the incident, while a third is considered a witness. A fourth police officer, Jeff Farrior, was demoted for being aware of the incident but doing nothing about it, Yahner said. A 19-year-old man said he became physically ill after the three officers forced him to eat marijuana during a routine traffic stop on Sept. 13. The police officers’ videocameras were suspiciously turned off when the incident took place, Yahner said. They chose to resign rather than be fired.
IN ANY CASE
That which remains
--so little now--
would be sufficient
if it lasted.
— Ángel González
SURPRISE, SURPRISE, MORE BAD NEWS ON THE CLIMATE
In my letter of September 11th I deferred commenting on Asian typhoons that affect China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines have grown 50% stronger in the last 40 years due to warming seas. These giant storms have caused considered damage and one in China killed 229,000 people and destroyed 6m buildings, New studies published in Nature Geoscience showed that typhoons in the north-west Pacific intensified by 12-15% on average since 1977; categories 4 and 5 doubled and even tripled in some regions and was marked for those storms that hit landfall. The study was clear that future global warning as projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the UN would heat the oceans in the region and lead to more intense typhoons. I would comment that in the Spartly and Paracel Islands which consists of low lying small islands, reefs and bank which have been the source of conflict between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei their bases and the land mass may well be destroyed by rising seas and violent typhoons. The World Bank in a recent report stated air pollution is the fourth leading risk factor for deaths worldwide and air pollution costs the world trillions of dollars a year. It is estimated it costs the U. S. $45bn. According to World Health Organization air pollution now kills prematurely worldwide one in 10 people every year. As one who has to use an inhaler twice a day I can attest to the air pollution problem. More recent data has come up on the destruction of earth's wilderness and I shall defer comment to a later letter.
In peace and love,
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ENDORSE A NO POSITION ON MEASURE AF - THE HERITAGE ACT
On September 20, 2016, the Board of Supervisors adopted a No position on Measure AF – the Heritage Act for its lack of environmental review and public/community review process. The Board stated six specific reasons why they endorse a NO vote on Measure AF:
- Measure AF is not needed because the County is already drafting comprehensive regulations, subject to public review, that provide all state approved cannabis license types while balancing the needs of our local communities, the natural environment and our local economy;
- If Measure AF passes there will be no public review process to identify or mitigate significant environmental impacts;
- Measure AF reduces or eliminates setbacks from neighbors that have been in place since 2010;
- Measure AF eliminates the requirement for “wildlife exclusionary fencing” and eliminates all fencing requirements unless the garden is visible from the public right-of-way;
- Measure AF makes up to an acre of cannabis cultivation a principle permitted use in almost every zoning district;
- Measure AF allows thousands of new cannabis cultivators on new cultivation sites.
The Board’s “No on Measure AF” opposition statement is available on the Board of Supervisors webpage (link below).
Information and resources on local cannabis regulations are available on the new Cannabis Regulations page on the County’s website. Information and documents on cultivation, other industry permit types and cannabis measures on the ballot in November can be found online at http://co.mendocino.ca.us/bos/mendoreg.htm. The webpage will be updated frequently to provide the public with up-to-date information on the local regulatory process for medical cannabis. For more information, please contact the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441.
Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer
ROAMING CHARGES: More Pricks Than Kicks
by Jeffrey St. Clair
+ People seem excited about the debates on Monday. I find the anticipation inexplicable. The much-hyped standoff at Hofstra shows all the hallmarks of being a great dud on the order of the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight/tap dance. Trump will endeavor, probably with the aid an ample dosing of Prozac administered by the amicable Dr. Bornstein, to be on his best behavior and Hillary, her head stuffed to the brim with briefing books, will come off like a prolix Ph.D. student defending her dissertation on the subversive role of milkmaids in the agrarian novels of Thomas Hardy. A defanged Trump isn’t worth watching. And no one needs to endure another pedantic lecture on Smarty-Pants Power from Hillary Clinton.
+ Most presidential and vice-presidential debates are about the unexpected moments: Nixon’s face sweating like Niagara Falls, Gerald Ford’s bizarre blurt that there was “no Soviet domination of eastern Europe,” Reagan’s aphasia moment, Poppy Bush glancing repeatedly at his watch, Admiral Stockdale asking rhetorically why he was there, Al Gore stalking George W. around the stage like Freddy Krueger, and a punch-drunk Obama staggering through his first debate with Romney. In the end, none of these moments altered the course of the elections, as much as the media might want us to believe. Elections, of course, are decided by deep structural issues (and hackable voting machines).
+ Of course, there’s always a chance that Hillary, having rejected Charlie Crist’s genteel offer to loan her his podium fan, might over-heat again and collapse onstage. But do we really need to watch that live in the Age of YouTube?
+ This year with the two major parties in free-fall, it might have been different if Gary Johnson and/or Jill Stein had been permitted access to the stage by the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates. The CPD is not a commission, of course, but a corporation created and run by-and-for the Democratic and Republican Parties in order to preserve their increasingly fragile stranglehold on the electoral franchise. The League of Women Voters, which used to run the debates, apparently proved too demanding for either party.
+ Without Johnson or Stein on the stage, we are left with the unappetizing prospect of Donald Trump as the lone sorta-kinda-maybe-anti-trade-anti-war candidate. Deplorable. These non-debates are bound to deliver more pricks than kicks. They should be boycotted by anyone committed to real democracy or looking for true comedy.
+ That said, I went to see a glorious new print of Dr. Strangelove this week and it strikes me that with all the current national anxiety about the Russians, the Mine Shaft Gap must have widened. Perhaps we will get some new intelligence on this vital matter in the debate on Monday night.
+ It’s been 52 years since the premier of Dr. Strangelove, but the Russia Scare thrives. Earlier this week General Sir Richard Barrons, a former NATO chief, ominously warned that Russia could invade Europe in a mere 48 hours. Get ready for the remake of The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming, the Euro 2016 version, filmed in PanicVision.
(No one stopped to ask the generals, if the Russians could storm across Europe in less than two days, why then do we still need those 150 US nuclear missiles scattered across Belgium, Germany and Italy. Or have those all been re-targeted at France?)
+ In the 1950s, at the peak of a previous Red Panic, the editorial page of the Washington Post helped strap the Rosenbergs to their electric chairs for allegedly violating the (unconstitutional) Espionage Act. Now the Post’s editorial page wants to do the same to their own source, the man who helped them win a Pulitzer Prize, Edward Snowden. Can you spell: D-e-p-l-o-r-a-b-l-e?
+ The call to prosecute Snowden is predictable. As Alexander Cockburn and I reported in Whiteout, the Washington Post’s reputation as a fierce and unflinching journalistic enterprise is over-inflated, an aberration based on a few years at the end of the Nixon administration. But the fall of Nixon frightened the Post’s publisher Katherine Graham, who feared the paper had over-reached. It’s been in retreat ever since.
Here’s what we wrote:
In late 1974, after Nixon had been tumbled, Mrs Graham addressed the Magazine Publishers’ Association and issued a warning: “The press these days should be rather careful about its role. We may have acquired some tendencies about over-involvement that we had better overcome. We had better not yield to the temptation to go on refighting the next war and see conspiracy and cover-up where they do not exist.” She called for a return to basics. Journalists should “stop trying to be sleuths.” In other words: The party’s over, boys and girls! It’s not our business to rock the boat.
She repeated the message in 1988 in a speech to CIA recruits titled “Secrecy and the Press”: “We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know, and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.”
+ The more furiously the DC political and media elites try to gag, jail and bury Edward Snowden, the more emphatically they prove his point.
+ Oliver Stone’s new movie, Snowden, is worth paying the extortionate ticket price to view on a large screen in the company of a live audience. Kimberly and I went to see it at the theater in our little mill town of Oregon City, once a stronghold of the Klan in Oregon. It’s still a city of blue-collar people, featuring regular sightings of pick-up trucks with big American flags jammed into the tailgates and Trump lawn signs. This is Tanya Harding country, where people buy their beer at 7/11 and bitch about the craft brew Hipsters up in Portland. The Hilltop theater was about half-full, a bigger crowd than showed up for opening night of the deplorable “Ben-Hur” remake. (I was there for that one, too. I’m a sucker for all films featuring ancient Rome.)
Unlike Laura Poitras’s intimate documentary Citizen Four, Stone’s film is geared to a mass audience. As such, it has to quickly drill through the media mystification that has enshrouded Snowden for years. Stone does this by (surprise!) humanizing him. Snowden is restrained, quiet and slowly paced. It unfolds methodically, lacking the frenzy and cinematic hijinks of many Stone movies. This was a sound decision. Edward Snowden comes off as the quiet kid sitting in the corner of your Trig class who turns in his final exam before you’re really sure you’ve answered one question correctly. He’s not shy or a classic nerd. Just unassuming. He’s a believer in the System, but also someone who insists on figuring things out on his own. He puts his beliefs to the test. What Snowden ultimately figures out is that the System he believed in is no longer worth supporting. In fact, his own work for the CIA and NSA had been turned against the very constitutional values he believed his country stood for.
Oliver Stone gently leads his skeptical viewers on this twisting journey and by the time Snowden slips out of the NSA bunker in Hawai’i with his trove of damning documents hidden in a Rubik’s Cube, the crowd in our Oregon City theater was with him, erupting in an impromptu cheer as he cleared security. Give Stone credit. In an election year, he doesn’t flinch from making clear that the crimes that turned Snowden into a whistleblower were instigated on Obama’s watch at his orders. There are also subtle shots taken at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
+ This week, in an interview about the film, Stone said bluntly that “surveillance under Obama was worse than the Stasi.”
+ Bill Clinton should travel with a mobile Damage Control Unit. Whenever Bill goes out solo, he’s bound to find trouble–even when he’s not flying gratis on Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express” sex jet. Clinton is America’s most enduring megalomaniac, like a made-in-Taiwan Teddy Bear that off-gasses toxins when your child cuddles it.
Bill runs on hubris, but, unlike in the plays of Sophocles, others tend to take the fall for his over-arching pride. This week’s episode of “Bill Breaking Bad” occurred during an interview with CNBC. Here Clinton announced that his support for lowering the corporate income tax rate, anathema to most progressives, and offering a bristling defense of the Trans-Pacific Trade deal, which his wife claims to oppose. Of course, while this confession might have shocked the Clinton campaign staff, it came as no surprise to long-time Clinton watchers. Lower corporate taxes and free trade deals are the hallmarks of Clintonian neoliberal policies.
+ Bubba’s defense of the TPP only confirms what Clinton intimate Terry McAuliffe let slip during the Democratic Party Convention: that Hillary’s objections to the TPP were merely for show and that she would come out in support of the deal once elected.
+ With his foundation under scrutiny, Bill angrily announced that no one in his family had “taken a dime” out the foundation. Perhaps not a dime, but more like millions? In an important piece of investigative reporting by James Grimaldi at the Wall Street Journal, we learned that Clinton often used the foundation as a conduit for the vast sums of loot he was raking in for his speaking fees.
+ A report this morning from The Hill discloses that the Clintons have purchased a new house in Chappaqua, adjacent to their current home. It’s always a good time to buy a house when others are being evicted from theirs. It shows … empathy? Perhaps it was done out of necessity– a new pad for Bill’s “bimbos” in the wake of Colin Powell’s revelations? Whole lotta dickin’ going on, somewhere.
+ By the way, “bimbo” was first embedded into the Clintonian lexicon by Bill’s longtime advisor and friend Betsey Wright (a big time lobbyist and hard-core feminist), during the 1992 campaign, where Wright set up a team to stifle any more of Bubba’s “bimbo eruptions.” (Bimbo was originally a term used to describe men.)
+ Over at The Nation, Joshua Holland escalated the attacks on Jill Stein from the center-left with a nasty and sophomoric little piece trying to guilt-trip Greens and progressives for “wasting” their votes on Stein. Holland’s smear job set a record for the number of recycled clichés per column inch.
+ After supervising this shanking of Stein, Nation editors John Nichols and Katrina Vanden Heuvel sat down for a droll little chat with Bernie Sanders, where we learned that the senator is keeping busy by campaigning for Our Revolution, Inc. (ka-ching!) and HRC’s Counter-Revolution (ka-boom!) at the same time. Political schizophrenia?
+ Sanders probably has Nichols and Katrina on speed-dial, but Ralph Nader revealed during an interview this week on Democracy Now! that Bernie “hasn’t returned my calls in 16 years.” When Sanders sees Ralph’s name on the call-sheet, it must hit him like the ghosts of Xmas past, present and future all at once on the same speakerphone.
+ On Thursday, Bernie Sanders sent out a Tweet to his armchair revolutionaries drilling home the obvious: “Wells Fargo’s abuse of its customers is not an aberration.” Of course, one might say a similar thing about the Senator’s abuse of the Sandernistas by pimping for HRC & her pals at Well Fargo. N’est ce pas, Comrade?
+ Even so, the hypocrisy of Sanders’s statement paled next to that of John Podesta, who spent much of the week spreading the theme that “Trump would be a catastrophe for the climate.” Who is Podesta kidding? We are already deeply enmired in a climate catastrophe that 16 years of Democratic administrations, which he helped to pilot, have done nothing but enable and exacerbate.
+ Peter Lee asked me if liberals had forgotten that Hillary’s first major act as Secretary of State was to gut the Kyoto Protocols on climate change. I told him that if they ever understood it, the fatal knowledge was now suppressed so deeply into the collective unconscious of the Democratic mind as to defy years of therapeutic digging by Carl Jung.
+ You want more proof of what I’m calling “the Sanders Effect?” Since Bernie’s endorsement of Clinton, Hillary hasn’t once mentioned climate change during any of her prepared speeches on the campaign trail. She doesn’t have to. Who is there to hold her accountable, except Jill Stein and Amaju Baraka? Not the Sierra Club. Not NRDC. Gang Green is “all in” with her, despite Hillary’s well-documented record of being the person who helped to globalize the fracking craze.
+ To compound matters for Clinton on the environment front, a couple of weeks ago Hillary tapped Ken Salazar to head her transition team, the very same man who, as a senator and Secretary of the Interior, helped Big Oil kill the Gulf of Mexico. (For the grim details of Salazar’s culpability see my essay on the Deepwater Horizon disaster: “BP’s Inside Game.”)
+ Speaking of hot air, group think hysteria about the evil Trump seems to be the only fuel left in the Hillary campaign tank.
+ Gary Johnson is a free-market anti-regulation libertarian, yet his climate policy, which isn’t even really a climate policy, would prove more efficacious than Clinton’s. As a libertarian, Johnson would cut all federal subsidies to oil and gas companies, as well as end the depletion allowance, which rewards drillers with massive tax deductions for environmental destruction. In addition, Johnson, who as a high-altitude mountain climber has witnessed glacial melt up close, breaks with libertarian orthodoxy in supporting a carbon fee (libs hate the word “tax”) to impose an additional cost on air polluters.
+ Pricing is one way to influence fossil fuel emissions. In that respect, the Obama/Clinton approach has been a disaster for the climate, since they have both supported flooding the market with cheap oil and gas, in part to punish and destabilize oil-dependent rivals such as Venezuela, Russia and Iran. During a recent speech in support of Clinton, Obama bragged about bring the price of gas back to $2 a gallon, ignoring how this only serves to encourage gluttonous gas-guzzling. In theory, Johnson’s policies might increase the price of gas, curb consumption and marginally reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In say in theory, because when Johnson goes off the weed for too long he can say some crazy shit like this:”In billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future.”
+ At least Hillary is consistent on one issue, her unwavering support for the death penalty, and it’s a principle she applies unilaterally: here by gas chamber, abroad by drone.
+ If the soporific Tim Kaine has done nothing to boost Hillary’s sagging poll numbers, the running mates can at least commiserate as kindred spirits. Kaine is, as Eric Draitser shows in his piece for CounterPunch this week, a neoliberal, ultra-hawk, anti-choice homophobe and Wall Street money bag man. I wonder if Kaine met HRC on eHarmony?
+ Draitser had a busy week. He took a couple of hours off from diaper duty with the new kid (not sure if this was an excused absence) to interview political economist Rob Urie on the nature of capitalism, capitalism’s antagonistic relationship to Nature, and his vital new book Zen Economics.
Here’s what Mike Whitney has to say about Urie’s book:
“Rob Urie is the hands-down best political-economics writer of our time. Whether the topic is climate change, the bank crisis or the demonic Ms. Clinton, Urie never disappoints. He is a top-notch analyst with a keen eye for hypocrisy and a breathtaking grasp of history. Even better, Urie is crackerjack writer who knows how to cut through the mainstream baloney and deliver the goods. For that alone, he deserves a Pulitzer.”
+ Bono has called for Chris Rock and Amy Schumer to be deployed to Syria to slay ISIS with jokes. I’ve got a better war plan. Let’s drop Bono from 50,000 feet above Raqqa. He won’t make the sands glow, but the obnoxious imp will send most of the people below hightailing it out of town.
+ Variety magazine is reporting that the cast of West Wing will be reuniting to campaign for Hillary. Of course, that show was cancelled for a reason.
+ Sounds like Iran’s Rouhani is pulling the ripcord on Bashar Assad. In an interview on the eve of his UN speech, Rouhani said, for the first time, that the only long-term solution to the Syrian civil war is “political.”
+ The Iranian concession came a few days after US jets launched an air raid on the town of Deir Az Zor, striking Syrian Army troops. The raids killed more than 60 soldiers and left nearly 100 injured. Because Syrian Army position have a unique signature, distinct from the ISIS brigades besieging the city, the attacks struck many observers as a rogue mission launched by Pentagon generals angered by the ceasefire agreement struck between Kerry and Lavrov.
+ The odious Samantha Power couldn’t simply apologize for the atrocity, she had to make a bellicose speech deprecating the Russian ambassador, as if Putin made the Air Force do it. Ms. Power is the worst UN Ambassador since Jeane Kirkpatrick. And, yes, that includes John (I am the Walrus) Bolton.
+ A few days later, a medical convoy was hit carrying supplies into rebel-held Aleppo (Google Alert: Gary Johnson) killing civilians and aid workers and the ceasefire was kaput. Didn’t last a week.
+ The situation in Yemen seems to be unraveling faster than Syria. A new analysis by the Yemen Data Project concludes that one-third of the 8,6000 Saudi/US air strikes in the country have hit civilian targets, such as schools, bridges, hospitals, and mosques.
+ Worse, there are fresh reports that some of these airstrikes involve the use of white phosphorous bombs supplied by the Pentagon. This is the notorious incendiary weapon used to such devastating effect by the US in Vietnam and by the Israelis in Lebanon and Gaza. White phosphorous is a highly indiscriminate chemical agent capable of inflicting horrendous damage, especially in civilian areas. Hypocritically, the US accused the Taliban of war crimes for using white phosphorous projectiles in Afghanistan.
+ The UN now puts the death toll from the war in Yemen at more than 10,000, with at least 3,800 of the killed being civilians. These strikes are clear violations of international law, war crimes pure and simple.
+ Hedge fund managers aren’t hedging their bets for the election. They’ve gone “all in” for Hillary, pouring unprecedented amounts of cash into her Super PAC.
+ George HW Bush is the latest of the Kennebunkport clan to endorse Hillary. Eight years ago, John McCain honorably refused to be photographed standing next to W. This year Hillary is wrapping herself around a new Bush every week.
+ I may have discovered the real reason Trump refuses to release his tax returns. Apparently, his crack team of accountants used Arabic numbers, instead of Roman numerals, to calculate his less-than-advertised net income.
+ Mike Pence told ABC News this week that he would model his vice presidency after Dick Cheney, who he continues to “hold in very high regard.” Is it too much to hope that Pence will also take Trump, and his two loathsome big game killing sons, on weekly quail hunting expeditions, with Cheney-like results?
+ Last week, I reported on the pay increases awarded to the cop who strangled Eric Garner. This week comes news that Kenneth Boss, the cop who shot the unarmed Amadou Diallo 41 times, was named “Sergeant of the Year” for the NYPD by the Police Benevolent Association. In honor of this travesty, here’s a recording of Bruce Springsteen courageously playing his song “American Skin (41 Shots)” at Madison Square Garden in front of hissing members of the NYPD, who, proving their fascist bona fides, later staged a burning of Springsteen records.
+ Three high-profile police shootings in the last 10 days. Each senseless. Each depraved. Each completely standard procedure. There’s nothing new about those killings. As we show in our book Killing Trayvons, the violent, often lethal, suppression of black men is a policing strategy that goes back decades. I told my co-editor Kevin Alexander Grey that we should have printed 100 blank pages at the end of the book so that readers could record the victims killed by police nearly every day since its publication.
+ The difference, of course, is the reaction, which keeps getting more intense and militant after each killing. Black Lives Matter, which is largely unshackled by any dependence on the Democratic Party, is making a big difference. Kevin told me he believes another factor is that blacks now feel a sense of liberation by the waning of the Obama presidency. They no longer fear a political backlash from taking to the streets.
This makes a lot of sense to me. A similar phenomenon occurred in the final year of the Clinton administration. After nearly eight years of swallowing one betrayal after another, the Left finally erupted on the streets of Seattle to confront Clinton at the WTO, bringing the tradefest to a grinding halt. Similar protests broke out that year in DC at the World Bank and in Los Angeles at the Democratic Convention. Still no one called the white protesters who swarmed the streets of the Emerald City for five days criminals and thugs.
+ Back in the Dakotas, the massive protests against the Dakota Pipeline have only intensified. I got a message from Ruth Hopkins, a tribal lawyer and former judge, who told me that she and other activists are being called “terrorists.” I wrote her back saying “You know you’re making real progress when Big Oil’s thugs start calling you a ‘terrorist organization.'”
+ Fall has arrived in Oregon with a run of wet, blustery days and cool nights. There’s even a dusting of snow on the distant peaks of the High Cascades. For years, I’ve marked the first day of fall by re-reading one of the greatest poems in this, or any other, language, John Keats’s “To Autumn,” which is on the surface about the end of summer and at a deeper level a subversive attack on the enclosures and anti-gleaning laws that were starving England’s rural poor.
+ After 67 years behind the microphone, Vin Scully will announce his final Dodger home game this weekend. Pity the sanitized corporate-voice who has the unenviable job of taking the place of this titan, whose likes we will never hear again. Scully has a magical voice and a fluid, effortless gift of turning baseball games into narratives about life. As a Midwesterner, I’ve tried my best to resist Scully’s Hollywood charms, futilely. He’s just a little too smooth for my tastes. I preferred Jack Buck or the growling Ernie Harwell, who called Tigers games for so many years. Still Scully was perfect for LA. All those people stuck on the Harbor Freeway for hours, night after night, being soothed by the mellifluous sound of Vin’s voice, even as the Dodgers blew late inning leads to the hated Giants. You’ll be missed Vin, even by this die-hard Orioles fan.
What I’m listening to this week:
1/ Jenny Scheinman: Mischief & Mayhem
2/ Dawn Richard: Blackheart
3/ Jeremih: Late Nights: the Album
4/ The Paranoid Style: Rolling Disclosure
5/ Cannonball Adderly & Bill Evans: Know What I Mean?
What I’m reading…
1/ Ece Temelkuran: Turkey: the Insane and the Melancholy
2/ Donald Murray: Herring Tales: How the Silver Darlings Shaped Human Taste and History
3/ Seamus Heaney: Aeneid Book VI
Same Words Telling the Same Lies
Albert Camus: “Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble – yes, gamble – with a whole part of their life and their so called ‘vital interests.”
—Notebooks, August, 1937.
(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
WHY WE MUST REJECT BOTH THE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PARTIES
by Laurel Avery
I could not have been happier when Obama won the election in 2008. No president in my memory had ever had inspired as much hope as he had. The first African-American to be elected president in a country with a long history of racial injustice — what was there not to like about him? He was incredibly intelligent, ran on a platform I was enthusiastic about, and he had a fantastic sense of humor, in addition to having an equally smart wife and two gorgeous daughters. I shed tears of joy when he was sworn into office the first time.
Then, in 2011, after initially vowing to veto it, Obama signed into law the unconstitutional National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA states that anyone suspected of being associated with “terrorism” (even without evidence) can be arrested without charge and thrown into prison indefinitely, without right to a trial or an attorney — denied due process in a court of law. It was at this point that I sadly could no longer vote for him. The 2012 election was the first time since I had turned 18 that I had not voted for president.
As the years passed, I became increasingly disillusioned with Obama’s changes in policy. But I truly liked him as a person, so I had a really hard time wrapping my head around his actions. It was impossible for me to believe that this good man could have turned 180 degrees on so many things I believed he stood for. The man committed to increased transparency in government now presides over the least transparent government in U.S. history; he bailed out Wall Street while millions lost their homes, and not a single banker went to jail. Although I know much of the legislation he wanted to pass was unsuccessful due to a completely ineffective and obstructive do-nothing Congress, there were plenty more things he did without the consent of Congress that I found abhorrent, such as enacting his shameful drone strike program.
I could not comprehend how a man supposedly dedicated to making life better for all Americans was so staunchly working for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an investor rights agreement that essentially gives corporations free reign and ensures that the American people will pay for any business losses these multinational corporations sustain due to our inconvenient environmental regulations, among other things. Obama is doing his utmost to sell America down the river. How is this possible?
Although I will most likely be grouped with the tinfoil hat crowd, for the sake of my sanity, I have to believe this was how it went: Just after Obama was sworn in, and he and his family entered the White House for the first time, they took him aside, sat him down and said, “Ok, now that you’re president, this is how it’s going to be…” And the oligarchs that really run things told him how sad it would be to lose his gorgeous wife and daughters should he make decisions that went against the 1 percent. Yes, I know it sounds completely insane, but this is what I must believe in order to feel I have not completely misjudged this great man’s character.
Likewise, when I learned about Bernie Sanders’ platform and saw how impassioned he was to ensure all Americans had what the top 1 percent had been enjoying for decades, I was inspired to put aside my political apathy, and got excited to vote again. I was sure he was going to contest the obviously rigged primaries and the corrupt Democratic party that had opposed his candidacy from day one. Then he met with Obama (and who knows how many other top-level officials). All I can say is, the Sanders who went into that meeting was not the same one who came out.
No matter how many times Bernie may say how important it is to vote for Clinton to avoid a Trump presidency, anyone can see his heart isn’t really in it. He’s somehow been made a puppet for the establishment. We will never know what was said in that meeting, but I don’t believe he has endorsed Clinton willingly. Or at least I choose not to believe that. So what to do?
Our Constitution is in tatters and the people have no voice in government any longer because those voices have been drowned out by corporate money. We are being told we need to vote for one of two abhorrent candidates because they are the ones who will dance to the oligarchy’s tune.
Neither establishment party represents the interests of 90 percent of the population. While we were busy going about our lives, doing whatever we could to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads, corporate interests systematically infiltrated our government and took over.
Most people believe that at least some corruption is inherent in politics; but how widespread it is and how deep it goes has never been quite so obvious as it is now. The veil of illusion is being drawn from our eyes and we are finally beginning to see clearly what the wizard is doing behind the curtain.
The only way out of this mess is to reject the established system and build a new one. That can’t happen if we keep voting for one of the two major parties. They are just two sides of the same coin. The more the people abandon the Democratic and Republican parties and vote for a third party, the more quickly we will begin to turn this sinking ship around.
At a recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner Obama said, “My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration, that’s on the ballot right now,” he said. “And there is one candidate who will advance those things, and there is another candidate whose defining principle, the central theme of his candidacy, is opposition to all that we’ve done. There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter; it all matters.”
He is absolutely right. There is one candidate on the ballot who stands for all those things. It’s Jill Stein. It certainly is not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, who between them make a mockery of tolerance, democracy, and justice.
We Americans were raised to believe our country was a shining light in the world, an example for other countries to follow — that we stood for liberty and justice for all, not just for the wealthy elite. It is the dawning realization that this is no longer true (if indeed it ever was) that is making this election in particular so difficult.
We must mourn the loss of innocence that had us believe we lived in the most democratic country on earth. It’s time to move on, to see America clearly for what it is (and what it isn’t), and to know that we are the ones with the power to change it for the better. The only thing not possible is to enact change from within either the Republican or Democratic parties.
So I wish Obama well as he leaves the White House and hope that once he’s out of office he is more free to work toward those things the establishment made it impossible for him to accomplish when he was President. And I’m glad Sanders has left the Democratic party. I imagine he will keep fighting for us as an Independent, as he has done for the past 50 years — just not from within a corrupt party.
This election is not a horse race. You don’t get points for voting for who you think the winner will be. All your power is in voting for who you believe to be the candidate who best represents your interests, and that candidate is unlikely to be either a Democrat or a Republican. Vote third party. Remember, you only “throw away” your vote if you don’t vote at all.
THE NBA IS TRYING TO CONVINCE PLAYERS NOT TO PROTEST POLICE BRUTALITY ON THE COURT
by Dave Zirin
Four weeks ahead of the start of basketball season, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have issued a joint statement to all players in what appears to be an attempt to prevent the Colin Kaepernick–inspired anthem protests from hitting the courts.
The memo, signed by league commissioner Adam Silver and union head Michele Roberts, asks NBA players to contact the league or the union if they are looking for ways to make “positive change” in response to racist police violence. It assures players that “working together, [the league and the union] have begun developing substantive ways for us to come together and take meaningful action.” Without specifically mentioning the anthem demonstrations, it reads:
These ideas are based on the actions many of you have already taken or supported, including convening community conversations in NBA markets to engage young people, parents, community leaders and law enforcement in a candid dialogue.
Unlike the NFL, the NBA actually has explicit rules against anthem protests. Currently the rule book states that “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”
Rather than warning players against challenging the existing rules, the NBA is trying, as described by Matt Moore at CBS Sports, to “support the players, but also…prevent incidents that could harm their image or sponsor relationships.” They’re using honey instead of vinegar in their effort to maintain the court as a space where the league has political and commercial hegemony.
NBA players have their WNBA counterparts to thank for this. Over the summer, the legal office of the WNBA — on orders from the NBA — tried to fine players for wearing political T-shirts. When the players went public, refusing to pay the fines and refusing to speak to the media about anything other than issues pertaining to police violence, the fines were rescinded.
And the momentum is growing. Just this week the entire Indiana Fever team — players black and white — took a knee during the anthem in a playoff game against the Phoenix Mercury.
After the successful struggle of WNBA players, the league and the union have taken a different approach — reaching out instead of cracking down — to stop protests. But it doesn’t seem likely to work.
Several players have already expressed excitement at the prospect of joining in. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert said, “You best believe I’m going to take me a knee for the anthem.”
The NBA’s reigning Coach of the Year Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, said he expected NBA players to take some sort of stand on the issue and he would support them.
“No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, I would hope that every American is disgusted with what is going on around the country.… Unarmed black people are being killed indiscriminately around the country. And that’s what happened two days ago. That’s the message. That’s what matters. Everyone should be trying to do something, whatever is in their power, to help in that regard.”
Given the events of the last week, it’s hard to imagine that players for NBA franchises in Oklahoma City or in Charlotte won’t be inspired to take a stand.
Adam Silver and Michelle Roberts might be in a state of consternation in anticipation of the public response to the sight of protesting players, not just on every Sunday but potentially every night for six solid months.
But I think they would be wise to recognize that these are not normal times. Taking protest to the court is better for the NBA than if the players look at the world, recognize their economic contributions to cities around the country, hear the calls to boycott NBA cities like Charlotte, and choose not to play at all. The league needs to realize that many players today are driven by motivations beyond money.
They are saying, “No justice, no peace.”
(Dave Zirin is the author of Brazil’s Dance With the Devil You reach him at email@example.com)
THE HUFF REPORT
In August, I had the opportunity to spend the month traveling up and down the North Coast and connect with you all and hear about your priorities for the fall session of Congress. Each time I’m home, I am reaffirmed in my belief that the second district of California is the most beautiful in the whole country (a fact which I often brag about to my Congressional colleagues)!
These breaks in the voting schedule are the perfect opportunity to hear about your priorities and to brainstorm with you on how I can better serve you.
Continuing the Conversation on Preventing Gun Violence
Like you, I have been shocked and saddened by the constant stream of gun violence tragedies. But my grief turned to frustration when congressional leadership refused to even allow a vote on bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation.
I hosted a documentary film screening and briefing on advancing commonsense gun violence prevention legislation last month in Larkspur. With over 200 people attending, it truly was a full house. The film, “Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA,” examines the gun lobby and our nation’s gun violence crisis. Following the film, I spoke with community leaders about steps we can take to prevent gun violence tragedies in the U.S. and make our communities safer.
I also spent several days meeting with advocacy groups, law enforcement officers, and members of the community. Together, we can convince Congress to reduce the risks of gun violence.
Catching Up at a “Coffee with Your Congressman”
One of my favorite ways to catch up with my constituents is through regular “Coffee with your Congressman” meetings. Not only do I get to have a cup of the best coffee across the North Coast, I also have a chance to hear what’s on your mind.
Last month, I had the opportunity to talk to constituents at Red House Coffee in Weaverville and at the Geyserville Inn in Geyserville. These were productive discussions on a wide range of topics: depleted water storage in Trinity Lake, improving the quality and accessibility of health care for veterans, increasing the U.S. Forest Service's ability to more quickly and effectively implement forest projects. I’ll be sure to keep you posted about upcoming "Coffee with Your Congressman" meetings and hope to see you at the next one!
Health Centers Receive Much-Needed Federal Funds
Health centers across California’s North Coast provide essential patient care to many in our community who depend on their vital services. Recently, I was proud to announce that 14 local health centers were recognized for their high achievements in providing top-notch patient care, and were awarded $897,200 in federal funds to invest in current quality improvement systems and infrastructure and to improve primary care service delivery.
I’m grateful to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration for awarding this much-needed federal funding and I will continue to advocate for high-quality health care in our communities. Read more here.
Restoring the Trinity River
We still have a lot of work to do to restore the iconic Trinity River, and its naturally-spawning salmon and steelhead populations, back to the healthy levels that existed before the Trinity and Lewiston Dams were constructed. While I was visiting the area, I got a tour of the important work the Trinity River Restoration Program is doing on the ground – and in the river! This tour underscored the importance of working with the Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes, stakeholders and project leaders, as well as federal agencies and my colleagues in Congress to keep this program on track and restore the Trinity River’s salmon runs.
Recognizing environmentally friendly local businesses
Throughout my time in Congress, I have been regularly touring and recognizing outstanding sustainable local businesses and organizations with my Sustainable North Coast Certificate. Congratulations to the newest recipient: Six Rivers Solar!
For 36 years, the company has been helping citizens of Humboldt County make smart decisions when it comes to solar energy products while installing hundreds of solar systems in the area. I'm looking forward to seeing what this dynamic company accomplishes in the future.
The North Coast of California is an incredible place to live, and by working together, we can continue to make our community a little greener, safer, and a better place to live. Please don’t be a stranger- I’m always open to hearing your ideas on how to best serve you.
Contact me via Twitter, Facebook, email, or call one of my district offices, and we will continue to help to the best of our ability. And check out my new Instagram account to see photos from my Washington, D.C., office and across the 2nd district!
With Best Regards,
Member of Congress, CA-District 2
THE NEW COMMAND AT THE USAF
To the Editor:
There are disturbing aspects to the new command at the United States Air Force. I'll explain.
* * *
NEW USSTRATCOM COMMANDER -- GENERAL JOHN E. HYTEN -- A COMPUTER GEEK
General John E. Hyten just got confirmed by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee as the next USSTRATCOM Commander.
The USSTRATCOM Commander controls the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal -- the "trident" of land-based nukes, submarine-based nukes, and nukes carried by strategic bombers.
That's 1,481 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 741 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers, and another 2,570 non-deployed strategic warheads, and roughly 500 deployed and non-deployed tactical warheads.
Hyten is unusual insofar as he was never actually a launch officer. Instead, Hyten is a Harvard-trained engineer who came up through the ranks as a space forces, software development, automated systems, configuration management guy.
Meaning General Hyten thinks of a nuclear holocaust in the abstract.
I'm interested in knowing what General Hyten's qualifications are in the areas of nuclear disarmament negotiations, diplomacy, and conflict resolution.
* * *
NEW AIR FORCE CHIEF OF STAFF -- GENERAL DAVID L. GOLDFEIN -- A DRONE PILOT
Meanwhile, on July 21, former Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General David Goldfein, was sworn in to succeed General Mark Welsh as Chief of Staff, the Air Force's most senior uniformed leader. General Goldfein the first CSAF to have flown a drone.
Meaning that the USAF's top two head honchos think of war in the abstract.
The recent buildup of NATO forces, along with President Obama's $1 trillion to upgrade and "modernize" the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities, and Obama's refusal to agree to a No-First Use (NFU) policy, can only be viewed as provocations, and they are counterproductive in the struggle to de escalate tensions.
For both Hyten and Goldfein, the prospect of a nuclear holocaust may be nothing more than a war games exercise, just another exercise in remote killing. What would be an acceptable use of nuclear force? Would they recommend a tactical nuclear strike to take out North Korea's or Iran's nuclear production facilities, for instance?
John Sakowicz at www.kmecradio.org