Mendocino County Today: Monday, Jan. 30, 2017
by AVA News Service, January 29, 2017
LAST WEEK we reported that County Ag Commissioner Chuck Morse had resigned. Morse is the guy who was famously praised by Supervisor Dan Hamburg for having done something about the wind fan problem in Anderson Valley. That "something" was a single phone call to Roederer’s Arnaud Weyrich who explained that the wine grape people had to keep a thousand or so Anderson Valley residents wide awake from midnight to 8am every Spring to protect their grapes. Or, as Philo grape grower Ted Bennett famously put it, "My grapes are more important than your sleep." Good job, Chuck.
MORSE'S RESIGNATION just happened to coincide with the roll-out of the County’s newly expanded medical pot cultivation rules, and we speculated that Morse was retiring to avoid being involved in that particular branch of local “agriculture.”
THIS WEEK we read in the essential Willits Weekly that we were probably right. Morse told the Willits Weekly’s Mike A’Dair, “The communication I’ve had with the cannabis community [sic] has been really positive. A lot of people have their own perception of that community — let’s say they get painted with a broad brush. But my experience has been positive. I’d say it bodes well for the County. It really does.”
A’DAIR added, “Morse acknowledged that administering the new cannabis program will be challenging. ‘It’s a lot, obviously. It has been very time consuming to try to launch this. But if you look around at other counties that are doing this, all the people involved are working hard. There’s just a lot of time required, and there’s no getting around it.’ Asked to predict how the next year would go, Morse was upbeat. ‘It’s gonna be nothing but change. Everyone has to realize that for the next two or three years, that’s the gig. And let’s go!’”
TRANSLATION: (to interim Ag Commissioner Ms. Diane Curry): "Good luck! It's all yours. I'm gettin' outtahere while the gettin's good!"
LOUISE MORRIS, the woman who replaced re-invented communist, airfield arsonist and unindicted car bomber, Mike Sweeney, as the General Manager of the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority back in September, has also announced her departure “for greener pastures,” wherever those pastures may lie. She was only in the job for five months, having previously done conservation and trails work for the Mendocino Land Trust.
ACCORDING TO Mike A’Dair, also in the current Willits Weekly, Ms. Morris “had many glowing words” for MSWMA. “I think Mike Sweeney built a really wonderful organization here, and I look forward to passing the torch to the next person who will take the organization into the future. MSWMA is a great organization and it plays a really important role in rounding out the necessary solid waste functions here in Mendocino County.”
AS A MATTER of objective fact, the cunning Sweeney, created his own public agency by nudging aside the County's existing garbage office and, with the help of public officials like Richard Shoemaker, Dan Hamburg, John McCowen and a handful of other public bureaucrats who throw their own money around like manhole covers while spending public money like there's no tomorrow, all the while inserting each other into the cush public jobs, Sweeney's self-created agency took over a few minor trash-related functions for roughly three times the public money they should cost. Think of Sweeney's MSWMA as a kind of trash equivalent of Mendocino County's fleet of heavily subsidized ghost buses, about $15 a passenger in state and federal kickbacks per annual rider. (The same people run the County's ghost buses.) Sweeney, allegedly, is retired, but he was probably breathing down this woman's neck every day to make her job twice as difficult as it need be.
MS. MORRIS’s tenure coincides with the last few months of the long-drawn out dispute between Solid Waste of Willits and the County where she was thrust into the center of a heated controversy involving former Supervisor Tom Woodhouse (who totally wigged out in office and had to resign), current Supervisors Dan Hamburg and John McCowen, Mike Sweeney and Solid Waste of Willits owner Jerry Ward, all of whom have egos the size of an 18-wheel garbage truck. The dispute even erupted in a shouting match at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting with Dan Hamburg trying to out-shout Jerry Ward over the earth-shattering question of whether or not coastal trash bins need covers and who should pay for them — to give just a small taste of what Ms. Morris had to deal with.
THEN WE READ Ms. Morris's effusive comments about MSWMA and Sweeney — so effusive that we suspect she just wants out — NOW — without poisoning the recruitment for the next victim, er, General Manager any more than it already is.
A WEEK OF ODD COMMUNICATIONS. A woman calls from Ukiah. "The reason I'm calling from a pay phone," she begins, "is because my neighbor is trying to kill me." I ask her if she's called the Ukiah Police. "Yes, but they don't believe. They don't understand that my neighbor has converted my apartment to an alternate reality, that my furniture is making fun of me." I suggested she drag a couple of her chairs outside in the cold. "Maybe that would make them a little more respectful," I said. I asked her if there was anything she specifically wanted me to do. "Not really. I read your paper, so I thought I would call you." I wished her luck.
IT'S PRETTY CLEAR we hear a lot from the Go Fast community, the meth people on, like, day four without sleep, and often mental functioning is already forever impaired from drug abuse. Many of these calls are so garbled it's impossible to deduce any meaning from the word salad being dumped on my head. This one guy called twice. He said there was some kind of conspiracy that had singled him out for special persecution, but it specifically involved Coast attorney Jone Lemos and Ten Mile Court judge Clay Brennan. I listened for a long time, occasionally trying to wedge in a question to clarify the exact nature of the man's beef. Exasperated, I finally said in a voice bordering on shout, "Please write down the facts as you understand them and e-mail them to me." He said he would, then resumed accusations of "treason" against Ms. Lemos and the judge, probably the grandest complaint against either of them they've heard. I rather enjoyed a brief reverie of Coast attorneys and Judge Brennan, backs pressed up against the rear wall of Fort Bragg City Hall, blindfolded, smoking a last bazooka, a firing squad of Fort Bragg cops waiting for that final Ready, Aim, Fire! Darned if I didn't get a lengthy e-mail as incoherently unfathomable as the man's verbal communication. That was two weeks ago. Silence, since.
LOCAL MINISTERS, preachers or whatever designation the Godly prefer, should do a much better job organizing funeral services. The County's mortuaries do their part but it is up to the ministers to conduct the service. I've been to two recently, and many more over the long years, where it's painfully obvious the minister has spent little or no time preparing what he's going to say. He, and it's always a he, just gets up there and wings it, then, when he's exhausted his meager supply of pieties, he asks anyone who wants to say something to come forward and say it. Even with a standing room only crowd spilling out of the Apple Hall in Boonville, the crowd is inevitably caught by surprise, at a literal loss for words because no one of them had expected to speak. Why doesn't the minister arrange beforehand, from the deceased's many relatives and friends, a list of five or six people to memorialize the departed? If people had a week or two to prepare they'd do fine, but impromptu is tough, even for people accustomed to addressing large gatherings of people.
AMONG my many regrets is not speaking up at the funeral of one of my cousins, a pioneer lesbian named Charlotte Anderson. Her service was in Healdsburg, where she'd lived for many years. As a little kid, I was very fond of Char, as we called her, because she was not only very kind to children, she was always up for a ball game, always had time to play catch, throw a football, shoot hoops, read us a story. On a day seared into my memory, our family had paid a visit to her family. As I understood years later, my cousin had "come out," as they say, and I can't even imagine how my uncle took that news, but in 1950, or even now, he would not have taken it well. So, there's my cousin, who held the women's javelin record at Cal for several years, sitting around with five or six masculine-looking women who were teammates and, I belatedly figured out, sister Sapphists. My little brother blurted out, "Mom, how come all these ladies look like men?" My mother promptly clapped her hand over his mouth as she fairly hissed in his ear, "Shut up, goddammit. Don't be rude." Char taught and coached for many years in Santa Rosa high schools. I'd see her at family functions where she was always friendly. But she was a registered Republican and, well, I'm not, and often found myself in political arguments with Char's pugnacious, long-time partner, Phyllis. "Well, well," Phyllis would say, "here's Mr. Communist." In her worldview, there were Republicans and communists. I'd explain that actually I was a kind of half-assed liberal but thought of myself as a green socialist, but Phyl, as she was known, wasn't buying any mealy mouthed distinctions. Charlotte, after a brief illness, died at her home on the Russian River in March of 2009. She was 78. There was a well-attended service for her in Healdsburg where she'd been an active and popular figure. Men and women spoke, many of them gay, but not a single person so much as hinted at the central fact of Charlotte's life and how brave she'd been to live her life, from the time she was a teenager, without disguise or subterfuge, and living her life, especially in the 1950s, took real courage. I'll always regret not speaking up.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “My cousin, Haji bin Woof, just got here from Dogistan. I wanted to play some Fetch, but he said, ‘We don't play games in Dogistan. It's a serious place. Trump thought I was a terrorist. Wouldn't let me outta the airport for a week’.”
On 01-28-2017 at approximately 8:15am, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Officer were on uniformed patrol in the area of the Sherwood Valley Casino parking lot in Willits. When patrolling the area, Deputies observed two subjects rummaging through a vehicle that was parked at the location. The Deputies contacted the subjects who advised they were searching for their personal property in the vehicle. One of the subjects, Michael Voris, 23, of Roseville, stated he was the owner of the vehicle but could not provide satisfactory evidence of ownership. During the investigation, Deputies searched the vehicle associated with the two subjects. The Deputies located what appeared to be a home-made "billy club" in the front passenger area of the vehicle. Voris was placed under arrest for Possession of a Billy Club. Voris was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on $15,000 bail. (Booking photo not available.)
* * *
ANOTHER CRIMINAL MASTERMIND
On 01-26-2017 at approximately 10pm, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were on uniformed patrol in the area of Meadowbrook Drive and Sherwood Hill Drive in Willits. Deputies observed a motorist in the area and identified the driver from prior contacts as Rudolph Esquivel, 55, of Willits.
The Deputies knew Esquivel to be on active parole and Sheriff's Office dispatch confirmed his parole status along with his driver's license status being suspended. Based on this information, the Deputies made contact with Esquivel after he parked his vehicle on Meadowbrook Drive. During a search of Esquivel's vehicle pursuant to the conditions of his parole, Deputies located controlled substances, metal knuckles, and drug paraphernalia. Sheriff's Office dispatch contacted Esquivel's parole officer who placed a hold for the violations of Esquivel's parole conditions. Esquivel was placed under arrest for Parole Violation, Possession of Metal Knuckles, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Driving on a Suspended License. Esquivel was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no-bail status due to the parole violations.
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 29, 2017
Bassett, Dennison, Dereskericius
EASTON BASSETT, Covelo. Drunk in public.
CLORISSA DENNISON, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
DONNA DERESKERICIUS, Mendocino. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
Esquivel, Gray, Hendrix
RUDOLPH ESQUIVEL JR., Willits. Metal knuckles, meth, paraphernalia, suspended license, parole violation.
BOBBY GRAY, British Columbia, Canada/Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
RONALD HENDRIX, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
Jones, Kester-Tyler, Liebig, Lockett
REMINGTON JONES, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
DEVIN KESTER-TYLER, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.
ASAAD LIEBIG, Ukiah. Under influence, paraphernalia, resisting.
WILLIAM LOCKETT, Willits. Domestic assault, probation revocation.
Moreno, Parker, Thomas
STEVEN MORENO, Santa Ana/Ukiah. Honey oil production, pot sale, possession of more than an ounce of pot.
MICHAEL PARKER, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
ROBERT THOMAS, Berkeley/Ukiah. Burglary, probation revocation.
MAKING THE INTRODUCTIONS
1954, Milledgeville, Georgia
There had been a great deal to do to get ready for them because they didn’t have anything of their own, not a stick of furniture or a sheet or a dish, and everything had had to be scraped together out of things that Mrs. McIntyre couldn’t use anymore herself. They had collected a piece of odd furniture here and a piece there and they had taken some flowered chicken feed sacks and made curtains for the windows, two red and one green, because they had not had enough of the red sacks to go around. Mrs. McIntyre said she was not made of money and she could not afford to buy curtains. “They can’t talk,” Mrs. Shortley said. “You reckon they’ll know what colors even is?” and Mrs. McIntyre had said that after what those people had been through, they should be grateful for anything they could get. She said to think how lucky they were to escape from over there and come to a place like this.
Mrs. Shortley recalled a newsreel she had seen once of a small room piled high with bodies of dead naked people all in a heap, their arms and legs tangled together, a head thrust in here, a head there, a foot, a knee, a part that should have been covered up sticking out, a hand raised clutching nothing. Before you could realize that it was real and take it into your head, the picture changed and a hollow-sounding voice was saying, “Time marches on!”
This was the kind of thing that was happening every day in Europe where they had not advanced as in this country, and watching from her vantage point, Mrs. Shortley had the sudden intuition that the Gobblehooks, like rats with typhoid fleas, could have carried all those murderous ways over the water with them directly to this place. If they had come from where that kind of thing was done to them, who was to say they were not the kind that would also do it to others? The width and breadth of this question nearly shook her. Her stomach trembled as if there had been a slight quake in the heart of the mountain and automatically she moved down from her elevation and went forward to be introduced to them, as if she meant to find out at once what they were capable of.
THIS ONE WILL BE FUN
Auditions for Gloriana's Musical Theatre 100 Years of Broadway!
Celebrate the history of Broadway and our great heritage of musical theater in this marvelous showcase of over 100 years of Broadway! Directed by Patrick Gomes, music direction by Kevin Green. Auditions will be held Friday, February 3rd and Saturday, February 4th from 5:00 - 7:00 at Eagles Hall Theatre in Fort Bragg. This is a concert/revue-style show, with limited dialogue. Please prepare any song for your audition. Sign up here:
Rehearsals will be on Mondays and Thursdays.
Performances run April 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30.
Please direct all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
MODERN BOURGEOIS SOCIETY with its relations of production, of exchange, and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.
— Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
THIS STAMP WON’T STICK
Jim Smyth’s stories in the London Review of Books about the suspicion he incurred visiting East Germany reminded me of the time I was arrested in Texas at the height of the McCarthy era. I was on 24-hour leave from my ship, the SS Oslo, which was tied up in Houston. In those days merchant seamen didn’t need passports, just ID cards, but special rules applied during the McCarthy years; we had to sign and carry with us a chit, on which was written: “I undertake not to overthrow the government of the United States by force.” I forgot to take mine with me when I went window-shopping in Houston, and because there were no pavements there, I was the only pedestrian, so I suppose I drew attention. To compound the crime, I was in the uniform of a foreign power (i.e. the UK), presenting a clear threat to the state.
A police car about the size of a small fishing vessel pulled up alongside me and two tall policemen got out, wearing high heels and enormous cowboy hats. They asked for my chit, which I’d forgotten, then my seaman’s card, which I’d also forgotten, and finally asked if I had any other form of ID. I did, but hesitated. Would they be more likely to jail me if I showed it, or if I didn’t? With some anxiety, I handed over my membership card for the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
They reacted as if they’d swallowed scorpions. I was bundled into the car; one of the men sat close enough to shoot me if I tried to escape, but far enough away to avoid contamination. They drove me back to my ship, frogmarched me onto the gang-plank, and told me never to set foot in Texas again. I never did.
Fabian Acker, London
PHILIP ROTH wrote in the Times Book Review that “The Plot Against America” was not intended as a political roman à clef. Rather, he wanted to dramatize a series of what-ifs that never came to pass in America but were “somebody else’s reality”—i.e., that of the Jews of Europe. “All I do,” he wrote, “is to defatalize the past—if such a word exists—showing how it might have been different and might have happened here.”
Last week, Roth was asked, via e-mail, if it has happened here. He responded, “It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary President like Charles Lindbergh than an actual President like Donald Trump. Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist. The relevant book about Trump’s American forebear is Herman Melville’s ‘The Confidence-Man,’ the darkly pessimistic, daringly inventive novel—Melville’s last—that could just as well have been called ‘The Art of the Scam’.”
American reality, the “American berserk,” Roth has noted, makes it harder to write fiction. Does Donald Trump outstrip the novelist’s imagination?
Roth replied, “It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type — the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist — that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.
“I was born in 1933,” he continued, “the year that FDR was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”
Roth retired from writing at seventy-seven, but, given Trump’s threats to muzzle journalism that is critical of him, what role does he see for American writers of today?
“Unlike writers in Eastern Europe in the nineteen-seventies, American writers haven’t had their driver’s licenses confiscated and their children forbidden to matriculate in academic schools. Writers here don’t live enslaved in a totalitarian police state, and it would be unwise to act as if we did, unless — or until — there is a genuine assault on our rights and the country is drowning in Trump’s river of lies. In the meantime, I imagine writers will continue robustly to exploit the enormous American freedom that exists to write what they please, to speak out about the political situation, or to organize as they see fit.”
Many passages in “The Plot Against America” echo feelings voiced today by vulnerable Americans — immigrants and minorities as alarmed by Trump’s election as the Jews of Newark are frightened by Lindbergh’s. The book also chronicles their impulse of denial. Lindbergh’s election makes clear to the seven-year-old “Philip Roth” that “the unfolding of the unforeseen was everything. Turned wrong way around, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as ‘History,’ a harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”
Asked if this warning has come to pass, Roth e-mailed, “My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”
Judith Thurman, The New Yorker
WHERE DO I SIGN?
To the Editor:
I want to bring to your attention to a small matter that probably has a large impact on Mendocino’s lack of representation in state government.
I, like many rural residents, do not have a polling location, instead we have ‘vote by mail’ system. While I was filling out my vote ballot, and checking all the instructions to see that I had done everything properly, I kept seeing “sign your envelope” — yet despite many searches, could not find the place to sign! Without the signature, my votes are automatically trashed. Finally I found it — and I realized that this was the first election that my efforts and votes would be counted.
Please, please, please: Bring this printing matter to the attention of the state or whomever it is tasked with overseeing how the ballot mailer is formatted. Either a note on the envelope flap saying “Signature location is under here” or some other obvious instruction is needed.
I am sure Mendocino and other rural counties in California are not represented due to the fact that the signature location is hidden. I totally get why it is located in a concealed place — but please tell us in the instructions — where that place is.
Maureen McIver, Ukiah
JAPAN, CURIOUSLY, DOES NOT HAVE SWEARWORDS in the usual sense. You can insult a Japanese person by telling him that he has made a mistake or done something foolish, but the Japanese language does not have any of those blunt-instrument epithets—no ass face, no fuckwad—that can take care of the job in a word or two. The Japanese baseball star Ichiro Suzuki told The Wall Street Journal that one of the things he liked best about playing ball in the United States was swearing, which he learned to do in English and Spanish. “Western languages,” he reported happily, “allow me to say things that I otherwise can’t.”
— Joan Acocella
NANCY PELOSI SAYS SHE'S FOR SINGLE PAYER.
Then why hasn't she co-sponsored the single payer bill in the House (HR 676)?
Please take a moment today, give her a call and ask her why. (DC office: (202) 225-4965. San Francisco office: (415) 556-4862)
Nancy Pelosi, you say you are for single payer.
Why don't you co-sponsor HR 676?
Let us know what she says.
See our most recent story on Nancy Pelosi here:
Onward to Single Payer
–Single Payer Action
TIP OF THE ICEBERG
At 11:59 am eastern (Jan. 20), the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming. (Motherboard) Also purged were references to LGBT rights, civil rights, and health care from the site’s “issues” section.
Epipen Fraud Exposed
Remember the outrage when Mylar boosted the cost of its life saving Epipen to $600?
After public outcry, Mylar brought out a generic epinephrine injector for $300, along with a program to assist low income patients. The generic Epipen is the exact same injector with a different label.
Mylar also paid Medicare rebates. The problem was Mylar improperly misclassified Epipen as a generic and not a brand-name product, so instead of a 23 percent rebate to Medicare, Mylar only paid 13 percent, which cost the taxpayers as much as 90 million dollars from 2011 to 2015. (my calculation)
Mylar was investigated by the Justice department, and is currently involved in negotiating a settlement payment of $465 million, for misclassifying the Epipen. With negotiations ongoing, Mylar issued a misleading press release, saying the issue was settled and all potential liability issues had been resolved (not true), in order to protect the stock price of the company.
Senator Chuck Grassley asked the SEC if the agency is looking into whether Mylan misled investors in announcing a settlement. Grassley asked, “why it (Mylar) released such a strongly worded press release knowing that a finalized settlement did not yet exist and given the apparent SEC investigation.” Mylar declined to testify at a Nov. 30 Senate hearing looking into the matter.
Mylar gouged the consumer and the government, under public pressure offered up a “generic” Epipen which costs what the old Epipen cost before the price hike, got caught lying to Medicare, and lied about a settlement in order to encourage investors to buy their stock. Thus, protecting the fortunes in stock and stock options owned by Mylar’s executives.
In plain English, Mylar executives are exposed for lying and cheating for personal gain.
Medicare is not allowed to negotiate lower drug prices by federal law. Drug costs are about 10 percent of all Medicare spending, $646 billion in 2015. (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services)
If the Trump administration is serious about identifying government wasteful spending, maybe they should start by allowing the fed to negotiate drug prices?
Wait, there’s more. CVS drug stores now sell an epinephrine auto-injector for $109.99, called Adrenaclick, for which you still need a prescription.
That’s 1/6th the cost of the $600 Epipen, which costs $8 to make. (Mercury News) Even at Adrenaclick’s $110 dollar price, there’s a ton of profit. This is how capitalism is supposed to work.
That said, there still needs to be a government “cop on the block” to protect consumers from fraud, especially to monitor consumer safety. One only need to recall the 1960s Thalidomide tragedy, which the United States Food and Drug Administration (now FDA) prevented by not allowing the drug to be sold here. Thousands of babies in Europe and Canada were born without arms or legs, when this drug was prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness.
One courageous government employee, Frances Kelsey withstood pressure from drug companies and her bosses, to prevent the drug’s approval within the United States. One has to wonder if she could withstand that kind of pressure, today? Imagine a scenario where she would be forced to go public with her doubts, under our inadequate whistleblower protections?
The current political meme is: Government bad — private sector good. Nevertheless, government still has a vital role to “Promote the General Welfare.” (Preamble to the Constitution)
Now that the GOP controls the reins of government, that’s something we need to help them keep in mind.
Tax Amnesty for the 1%
Fortune 500 companies hold profits totaling $2.4 trillion, in offshore tax havens. Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) estimates the avoided taxes on that stash amount to $695 billion.
I was watching Charlie Rose interview vice president Mike Pence, when Pence revealed the GOP strategy to give hundreds of billions in tax cuts to mega corporations, like Apple, Microsoft, Safeway, Nike, American Express, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and many others.
Pence referred to this giant tax avoidance scheme as money “trapped” abroad (his word). We’ve seen this play before.
Under the Bush administration, Congress passed a tax amnesty program, which was sold as an economy boosting “jobs creator,” that shoveled about $300 billion to many of these same corporations, by cutting their tax rate to 5.5%. Instead of investing in the economy, “The 15 companies that benefited the most from a 2004 tax break for the return of their overseas profits cut more than 20,000 net jobs and decreased the pace of their research spending.” (Wall Street Journal)
“About 92 percent of it (tax amnesty) went to shareholders, mostly in the form of increased share buybacks and the rest through increased dividends.” (New York Times) Share buy backs generally increase stocks prices, nearly all top corporate executive compensation packages include shares of company stock, often worth millions.
Expect to see Congress pass another tax amnesty program, as Republicans claim that those repatriated profits will boost the economy and create jobs. If past is prologue, for every dime, 9 cents will go toward lining the pockets of the 1 percent.
This from the party which pretends to recoil in horror, when the word amnesty is used?
Jeff Konicek, Laytonville
THE TRANSITION TO TOTALITARIANISM
To the Editor
Capitalism maintains a very tenuous relationship with the classical principles of democracy. By its nature and structure, it is a zero-sum game, producing by design winners and losers. Unchecked, as it has been in the United States since the mid 1970s, it reaches a stage in which the ratio of losers to winners is no longer tenable. At this critical stage, the State must either reform and reorganize in order to rein in its unstable inequities, as we saw happen here in the 1930s with FDR's New Deal, or it must revert to totalitarian rule, as witnessed in certain European locales about the same time.
As we have now entered that critical stage again, and have seemed to tip to the right this time, it may be a good time to discuss how a totalitarian state operates and what constitutes its needs.
The totalitarian state values and rewards blind loyalty, but because it essentially represents the few controlling the many, it absolutely at a minimum requires acquiescence. Those who withhold acquiescence must be branded traitors and enemies of the State, thereby subject to State retaliation. In its extreme forms, this retaliation can manifest in corporal means, such as imprisonment, beatings, or even executions. These extremes, however tend to be as likely to incite stronger resistance as they are to quench it.
Much more efficient and effective are a State's attacks on the material well-being of those who refuse. When threatened by its enemies, the totalitarian State can and will freeze and then seize private assets. History tells us that, in fear of losing what we already have, in fear of losing our ability to provide for the basic needs of our children, most of us will fall into line and accept things as they are. Most of us will cling to what we have and hold on to our material security, at the expense of our humanity if necessary.
We have, of course, a boundless capacity for rationalization, so we won't frame it that way in our own minds. Later we will say that it was a matter of survival, that we did what we had to, that there was never a choice.
But that's not true. It may be a hard choice, but it remains a choice that each of us must make, first as individuals, then ultimately with mutual support and in solidarity.
Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
There are many decent people living in our urban areas, and here’s what they’re up against. We hired an Hispanic woman about a month ago; she was working out pretty good, in on time every nite and adjusting to this 3rd shift schedule, which isn’t easy, ‘specially in the beginning. The noise of the presses and chemical residue in the air, which drives many new people out, didn’t seem to bother her too much. I was assigned to show her around, show her the ropes so to speak, and got to know her a little bit. She told me she had 4 kids and was living with this dude.
About a week in she showed up with 2 black eyes. I asked her what happened; she told me she fell down the stairs at her house. I left it at that, thinking its really none of my business. Then one night a few weeks ago she didn’t show up. We called, what happened? Turns out her car was stolen out of the parking lot where she lives. We arranged to get her a ride in with another employee. Several nights later she was waiting for her ride with 4 little kids because the dude she lived with got arrested, was in jail, and there was nobody to watch the kids, 4 little kids. We brought the kids in and made them as comfortable as we could in our break room. Well she found somebody to babysit the next day and that’s where things stand now.
Civilization in our urban areas has basically collapsed. An honest person trying to make a living doesn’t have a chance in hell.
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S BOMBASTIC HANDLING of the media reminds me of my Uncle Itsy.
Every night, Uncle Itsy would go out onto the street with a pea and three little cups. He’d take out the pea, shuffle the cups and take bets on which cup the pea was under.
Every night he came home with a hundred bucks in his pocket.
Finally I asked him how the suckers never managed to pick which cup had the pea under it.
“I make such a show of shuffling the cups around that they never notice that pea is hidden in my hand.”
— Willie Brown
AMERICA IS 5150
Where is the place for art in a society of stupid slobs who’ve had their sensibilities deformed by the mass media of the Totalitarian Corporate State?
In a society beat down by Mediocrity and Ugliness, where is a social space for Beauty, Quality, and Peace?
America has perfected Anti-Art in every aspect of society, an artless society is a very sick society.
America failed me with its;
its crap food
its mean greedy destructive health care system
its unsafe fat road hog gas hog cars
its planned obsolescence
its Disney/Hollywood propaganda
its over rated over paid celebrity cults
its belligerent cultural supremacy
its barbaric domestic policies
its imperial foreign policies
its endless military madness
its vulgar uncivil “culture”
America has failed itself and the world
America is a failed state that leads the world in the race towards Armageddon
American Imperialism has destabilized the entire world and in the process created conditions where Terrorism Thrives
America is #1 in its death wish for Earth and all Earthlings… "who needs to get all worked up about the here and now when Heaven awaits!"
America is a rude wellborn entitlement brat Narcissist bully
America makes the Mafia look like a boys choir
America would rather Blow up the whole sand box than Share or Play Fair
America is every Overbearing Wealthy Jerk you’ve ever met
America is a Heavily Armed, Intoxicated Ego Maniac
You wouldn’t want America moving in next door, wouldn’t want your daughters dating his sons!
America is an open air free range Insane Asylum
America is too ARROGANT to HEAR or SEE or LEARN
America is developmentally retarded
America is too busy WASTING RESOURCES to notice it’s DYING
FROM PIPELINES TO REFUGEES, EVERYTHING TRUMP DOES IS CONNECTED
by Kate Aronoff
Donald Trump is the fossil fuel industry’s puppet, and he’s spent the first few days of his administration doing its bidding. A former ExxonMobil executive is en route to become the country’s top diplomat, and the Centers for Disease Control has cancelled a long-planned conference to discuss the impacts of climate change on public health. And now, thanks to a presidential memorandum, the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines have been brought back from the dead.
Trump has sided with TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, since as early as 2011. Talking to the rightwing Toronto Sun, he praised the then prime minister Stephen Harper for championing the project scientists have deemed a “carbon bomb”.
TransCanada, in turn, flirted back. “Anytime someone is going to talk about the practical benefits of this $7bn project, regardless of what people think of Mr Trump, it’s a good thing,” said a company spokesperson. Now, he’s virtually acting as their spokesman-in-chief.
The fights against those projects symbolized everything Trump and his cabinet appear to stand against: indigenous communities, working people, scientists, college students and more, all coming together to take on corporate interests and the governments that support them. Now, they’re being punished.
Most unnervingly for Trump, we won. The Keystone pipeline was rejected by the Obama White House in 2015 after a lengthy fight, and the Dakota Access pipeline – just over a year later – was denied an army permit needed to complete the final leg of construction.
Trump’s move to reverse victories feeds into his overall implicit goal: centralizing money and power in the hands of as few people as possible, freeing markets at the expense of people. Republican leaders and the corporate interests who fund them rarely work within the kinds of issue silos that progressives tend to, segmenting concerns about the climate off from those about mass incarceration and labor rights.
Take the Heritage Foundation, the rightwing thinktank from which Trump’s team lifted their draconian “skinny budget” proposal. The White House is now promising $10.5tn in cuts over the 10 next years, to be achieved by gutting everything from welfare to public transportation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
And Heritage’s Blueprint for a New Administration contains all sorts of proposals that have translated into White House action: rolling back Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), promoting so-called “school choice” programs, opening federal lands to privatization. “The next President’s budget,” they write, “should prohibit all federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.”
As the fossil fuel industry’s puppet, Trump is also Heritage’s and the Koch brothers’. And it’s not that Trump is being duped. It’s just that – as a one-percenter himself – he’s had their interests (his interests) at heart all along: to extract as much as possible from working people and communities of color in the name of profit.
The left doesn’t need issue silos, either. For one, they’re flat wrong. Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines are racist by design, cutting through sacred indigenous land in order to line the pockets of executives and investors like Trump, who, as recently as 2015, held $250,000 of stock in TransCanada, and still has thousands invested in the Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
The climate crisis those pipelines and Trump’s other proposals threaten to drive forward are already helping to force refugees out of places like Syria, exacerbating droughts that have fuelled conflict there.
As resources become scarcer, more people will be criminalized and imprisoned, making way for the wealthy to keep consuming as much as they do now. And the types of Wall Street executives Trump has appointed to his cabinet could stand to make a fortune off the climate crisis, like they did after the Great Recession. The right is the most organized and unified force in America right now. The people opposing them might take a page from the people who killed the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines the first time around and catch up, leaving the silos and single-issue fights behind.
(The Guardian of London)
THE ANTI-VACCINATION CRANKS HELD A KIND OF FESTIVAL OF THE IGNORANT AND THE UNINFORMED THE OTHER DAY IN FORT BRAGG. IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT MENDOCINO COUNTY IS A HOTBED OF THESE DANGEROUSLY IRRESPONSIBLE CRACKPOTS.
On 1/29/2017 12:49 PM, Alan Haack wrote:
"Or, the kids could just get sick for a couple days, and develop a natural immunity." Thank you Doug. That is exactly what went on for years and it worked just fine. Common sense. I worry that these toxic vaccines have, in addition to crippling and killing children, now developed a stronger strain of measles.
* * *
Marco McClean Replies: Alan, you don't have to worry about that, because that is not how vaccines work. A vaccine is not like an antibiotic. Antibiotics are poison for microlife. They're very useful and have saved millions of lives, but when society overuses antibiotics, bugs not specifically susceptible remain to grow and multiply and spread. When you don't properly finish a course of antibiotics, you've killed the easy bugs and left alive their tougher companions.
A vaccine, far from being toxic, is a harmless irritant that stimulates the body's natural defenses against a bug. Here, from LiveScience: "Your vaccination in years past against something similar — perhaps H5N1 — far from breeding mutations, can still provide marginal protection. While scientists debate the degree of protection, the consensus is that yearly flu shots, particularly when started as a child, leaves the body better equipped to fight the flu in general."
And, by the way, I forgot more than my bag yesterday. Instead of going to the antivax dog-and-pony show I went to fix a crippled old woman's computer for her, and wasn't successful, and another thing I realized when I found I'd lost my clothes bag was that there was a nontrivial but existing fix for the computer right in the room and I didn't think of using it. And thank Christ I forgot to put my electric toothbrush in the bag before I even carried it out of the house, so I didn't lose that. Those things are expensive and it still has many years on it because I manage its charging cycle properly. There's a silver lining to every cloud.
I'm always a little scatterbrained on Saturdays, being exhausted, having been up all night the night before reading and yammering at full speed and trying to do the best job I can on the radio. It's been like that for twenty years. In the early and middle '90s, before that, there was the paper, which was even more exhausting on the last two days of the push to get it finished and laid out, then the print and delivery run. Though I was in my thirties then, it took its toll. And then I'd go on the round of my various day jobs and start all over again. Two or three times in all the years of printing my paper I made the mistake of forgetting to stick the dropcaps on (the big ornate letters at the beginning all the articles). And I'd sometimes forget to update the folios (the date and issue information at the top outside edge of each page). But, see, now those papers are like the inverted-Jenny stamp, particularly valuable and sought after by collectors. Too bad none of them are rich, because I still have a couple of those. Somewhere.
Another effect of this life schedule is it's especially easy for something to make me cry on a Saturday. A show or a song or really anything. But this sort of thing has been going on most of my life, so if I write a review of a play I went to on Saturday night, say, I just take that into account and pan it.
Speaking of which, I think about how exhausting raising children must be for people. Much worse than any ordeal or hardship in my very fortunate life. And how sad when children suffer and die from diseases that science, working with nature, has provided protection from, because a critical number of parents let a few persuasive nutcases influence them not to take advantage of that protection. But 40% -- four in ten -- of US births are unintended, meaning their parents are like, Wha? How'd that happen? so, you know, Alan, you mentioned scatterbrains.
BREAKFAST WITH SHIVA
Greetings from the 4th Dimension
Spent the morning at Shiva-Murugan temple in Concord, CA, with the South Indian priests officiating with milk abhisheka at the Sri Vinayagar (Ganesh) murti, and then the waving of lights at the murti of Murugan with-the-vel-weapon, who is the head of Shiva's army, and then more waving of the lights and incense at the battle goddess Durga's murti. And then the priests went down the line saying prayers in Sanskrit, or perhaps in Tamil, well wishing each one of the Shiva bhaktas in attendance. The head priest put sacred ash on each forehead, and women devotees in colorful saris came around with trays of turmeric paste and red kum kum powder, applying it to the agni chakra on each attendees forehead. And the children danced about the temple room, and the priests handed out fruit and flowers to be taken home, as more families arrived with prasadam food which is served downstairs, while everybody is chanting, or saying prayers in a variety of languages, or singing songs to Ganesh. The South Indian community and the rest of us present are having a significantly deep group spiritual experience, and a wonderful time! This has nothing at all to do with postmodern America's edginess, or the recently inaugurated Donald Trump presidency or its agenda, or the boring mundane depression of everyday life, as the Republicans promise to "drain the swamp" amidst the new administration's disturbing lack of any ecological awareness whatsoever, as well as the elimination of the imperfect national health care plan without a defined alternative, and last but not least, the imagined emergency to construct a southern border wall to keep Mexicans in Mexico, who have been successfully crossing that political border for centuries, since after all, the southwest was once a part of Mexico, and they are just behaving naturally in their bioregion as always.
Hey Shiva Shankara Bhole Hare Hare Mahadev!
Smiling through, Craig Louis Stehr
HOOPA, YUROK & KARUK YOUTH LEAD STANDING ROCK SOLIDARITY EVENT, WELLS FARGO ACCOUNTS CLOSED
by Dan Bacher
Arcata, Calif. – On January 28, youth from the Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok Tribes led scores of Humboldt County residents on a march and prayer gathering to highlight Wells Fargo’s financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline project (DAPL).
Participants, including those on horseback, sang, chanted and closed their accounts in strong opposition to Wells Fargo’s continued support of the contested pipeline project that has become an issue of national interest, according to a news release from organizers of the gathering.
This prayerful gathering came just three days after President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum intending to reinvigorate DAPL, and also coincides with Standing Rock’s call for a “Day of Global Prayer.” Live video from Prayer Actions around the world can be seen at globalprayeraction.org.
Hoopa Tribal member Patricia Joseph, who founded the California Kitchen at the Oceti Sakowin Camp and, with a dedicated team, fed as many as 2500 people per day, closed her long-standing bank account at Wells Fargo.
“Today I closed my Wells Fargo account because I can’t support a financial institution that is funding the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Patricia Joseph. “The project not only wreaks havoc on our mother earth, but would violate tribal sovereignty and treaty rights – and threaten the drinking water for thousands of people.”
if completed, DAPL would carry as much as 500,000 barrels of fracked Bakken crude oil per day under the Missouri River. Wells Fargo, along with 16 other banks, has been a leading institution fueling the project by contributing $120 million to the project loan that warranted the construction to begin.
“DAPL and the oil industry have been endangering the environment harshly for way too long,” said Lacey Jackson, True North Organizing Network Community Leader and a senior at Hoopa Valley High School. “Clearly, major banks fund the oil companies. Divesting from Wells Fargo and other oil company sponsors is a way to protect our environment from corporate plunder.”
Last summer, Native youth ran more than 2,000 miles and called for widespread, prayerful support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop DAPL and “kill the black snake.” The response resulted in an historic gathering of more than 280 Native American Tribes and tens of thousands of water protectors, who traveled from around the world and organized camps along banks of the Missouri River, according to the release.
Hundreds of Northern California residents, including leaders and youth from the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk, Quartz Valley, Winnemem Wintu, Round Valley, Pomo, and Wiyot Tribes participated in the historic gathering.
“The line was drawn in Standing Rock and now it is time for people everywhere to stand up together against corporate greed,” said Annelia Hillman, Yurok Tribal member, mother, and community justice advocate. “We have the power to empty their wallets. We want Wells Fargo to know they are not welcome in our community anymore.”
Dozens of young people, many who still attend high school in Humboldt County, spent months camping and demonstrating against DAPL in North Dakota. Today’s youth-led action provides a public platform to “bring the fire home” and continue resisting the pipeline locally.
“I’m doing this today because people need to realize that there are more priorities in life than just money – we can’t survive in this world without clean water,” said Shannon Albers, an 18-year-old Yurok Tribal member and water protector. “Water is a very spiritual element, and we need to preserve it for future generations.”
Organizers of Saturday’s event urge the public to refuse doing business with the 17 banks that contributed to the $2.5 billion transaction that financed the bulk of DAPL. Banks include Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, BayernLB, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, DNB ASA, ICBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mizuho Bank, Natixis, SMBC, Société Générale, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, TD Bank, and of course, Wells Fargo.
"This thing we call the black snake is not just this physical object that is the pipeline, it is this dark greed that is coiling itself around these people who are funding, building and protecting this pipeline,” said Malija Florendo, Yurok youth leader and dedicated water protector. “We are here taking action to cut this snake off, at its source."