Mendocino County Today: Saturday, June 3, 2017
by AVA News Service, June 2, 2017
COUNTY OF MENDOCINO ANNOUNCES CANNABIS CULTIVATION PROGRAM UPDATES
On May 4, 2017, the County of Mendocino launched the Cannabis Cultivation Program. Since that time, the County has been actively working on streamlining the permitting process. The following steps are required to submit an application for processing:
1. Applicants must make an appointment with the Department of Agriculture to submit a cannabis application package, including proof of prior cultivation.
2. The Department of Agriculture staff will review the Initial Cannabis Cultivation Application and complete an Initial Application Review Checklist
3. Applicants must sign the Initial Application Review Checklist and take it to the Treasurer/Tax Collectors Office to make a payment of a non-refundable application fee
4. Applicants must submit proof of payment of the application fee to the Department of Agriculture. Once proof of payment has been verified by the Department of Agriculture, applications will be accepted for processing
Please note that the Treasurer/Tax Collector’s office will not receive payment for any cultivation permit application fees without having evidence of the completed and signed Initial Application Review Checklist from the Department of Agriculture.
Also, the County activated a Cannabis Information Hotline (1-844-421-WEED (9333)) for all cannabis related inquires, questions, and/or to be directed to the appropriate department associated with the inquiry. All interested parties will call one number for cannabis related inquiries. This hotline includes options on how to register cannabis complaints, where to apply for permits, where to pay cannabis related taxes, information regarding the building permit process, as well as general information regarding the County’s Cannabis Cultivation Program. “Having one central point of contact for cannabis related questions will greatly assist those who are in need of clarification or assistance with the program; we are extremely pleased to be able to offer this service,” commented Chief Executive Officer, Carmel J. Angelo.
Please note that permit applications are only being accepted for cultivation sites within zoning districts of the Inland Zoning Code. The current permit program does not address cultivation in the Coastal Zone. No more than two permits may be issued to a person or entity pursuant to section 10A.17.070 (D) of the Mendocino County Medical Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance.
For all information and resources related to the County’s Cannabis Cultivation Program, please call 1-844-421-WEED or the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441 or visit: http://www.mendocinocounty.org/cannabis
Released by: Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer
JUDY WAGGONER-ISBELL'S MEMORIAL GATHERING:
Lisa Kuny writes:
On May 26th my beautiful, caring, funny, crazy, giving, mother passed away. She left us here to be with her son Bobby Dean, her mother Catherine, father Ern, and so many other people we have loved and lost. She was not just a mom. She was a wonderful friend to so many. The best wackiest Gramma to her grandkids that were her life. She was a caring sister/mom to her many brothers. She was an aunt and great aunt helping raise her great nieces. Whom she loved very much. Kids were her life. She never passed judgement on anyone. Even those that did her wrong.
June 24th please join our family in CELEBRATING her life like she would want! A gathering of family and friends. Please come prepared to smile and chat and laugh. If you have pictures of Judy please bring them to share for the day.
Mom requested only a couple things on her day.
No black!!! She hated black! Its a sad color!
If you didn't bring her flowers when she was alive... Save your money and don't bring them now. (in lieu of flowers I am setting up a fund for the Anderson Valley FFA program in her name. She was very proud of the things her grandkids accomplished in this program)
Celebrate with wonderful food and drink!
So that being said. ...
June 24th, 3 pm at the Grove/Amphitheatre area at the Navarro Store.
Bring your favorite dish or two to share. There are favorites my mom would enjoy so if you're willing to make one please PM me.
I know it will be a wonderful day.
Thank you all.
Kuny and Waggoner family.
A Brief History of Building and Planning Codes In Mendocino County
Presented to Coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors on May 26, 2017
by Norman L. de Vall, Board of Supervisors (ret.)
- 1962 — The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the first wave of back-to-the-landers to Mendocino County. Numerous bridges and buildings were being de-constructed providing ample materials for owner-builders. At the AboriginE Mill in Caspar you could get a pick up truck of “shorts” for $5.
- 1963 — Mendocino County codified the first building codes. Inspectors noted violations and the first Red Tags were issued. Permits were easy to get, costs were low, and most violations went un-noticed. Land Use violations did not exist.
- 1972 — Proposition 20 passes and creates the California Coastal Act and The legislature had until 1976 to implement the new law.
- 1973 — President Nixon states that the urban centers had reached their maximum density and urged those who could to move to the Hippies now followed the Beatniks but with fewer tools, skills or books but the building boom was on.
- 1974 — The County was coming under increasing pressure from citizens groups to end or at least control the proliferation of back woods building. The Mendocino County Properties Owners Assoc. (MCPOA) was formed out of Manchester and later Frank Creasy’s MCA, Mendocino County Associates
- 1974? — The commune Morning Star was bulldozed in Sonoma County.
- 1974? — The Board of Supervisors was now confronted with hundreds of Owner-Builders and seated the Building and Land Use Reform Committee (BLUR). Owner-Builders argued for rationalization of design, codes, use of compost privies, non-grade stamped lumber, outbuildings and approval of communes.
- 1974 — Bruce Levine became a candidate for 5th District Supervisor stating that Owner-Builders should all turn themselves in forcing the County to negotiate. This met with little or no support. Ted Gallitti was re-elected.
- 1975 — The Board of Supervisors realizing that non-code structures continued to proliferate seated BLUR II. Supervisor John Cimolino, 4th District, was again committee chair. And again hundreds of Owner-Builders attended the meetings and again the codes were not compromised.
- 1976 — Proposition 20 is codified which now requires Mendocino County to develop a Local Coastal Program.
- 1976 — The Board of Supervisors recognizes they must develop a General Plan. Sup. Gillette appoints citizens to MAGPLAC the Mendocino Area General Plan Advisory Committee. But does’t provided any maps to the Committee.
- 1976-77 — Non-Compliance Testing was initiated. Owner-Builders who had been Red Tagged were requested to cover the roofes of their structures with sand bags to test their strength. None failed.
- 1977 — The 1929 Subdivision Map Act allowed subdivisions until 1972 to be created by Deeds of Trust. Mendocino County was now required to have compliant General Plan. Mendocino County thus created the term: “legal non-conforming parcel” and now recognizes those parcels created before 1973.
- 1978 — The Supervisors direct staff to resolve the General Plan challenge by creating one acre parcels throughout the county.
- 1978 — The County is sued by Warner Chabot, itinerant carpenter, for lack of compliance with CEQA. Warner is not represented by an attorney. All Mendocino County judges recuse themselves and Lake County Judge John Golden is appointed to hear the case by the Judiciary Council. The County presents the incomplete General Plan in a number of cardboard boxes before the Court. Judge Golden orders the County to cease any subdivisions, lot split, use permits, variances, or boundary line adjustments.
- 1978 — The Board of Supervisors establishes the Land Use Law Enforcement Unit in the County Counsels Office (LuLu in CoCo) and hires Roland Fellman as Chief Building Inspector. Feldman installs one was mirror glass overlooking the Permit Counter in Ukiah and wants to arm building code inspectors. MCPOA and MCA attempt to get a list and address of everyone on AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children). Dennis Denny, Director of the Social Services Dept. denies the request.
- 1979 — The Board initiates the Building Code Violation infraction ordinance with a $100 a day penalty. Reaction is immediate. A referendum quickly is approved. The Board breaks the law by neither withdrawing the ordinance or putting it on the balance. Supervisor de Vall sues the Board. The Court overturns the ordinance.
- 1979-80 — Annon Forrest becomes the prime advocate for Class K and meets with then governor Jerry Brown. With his support Class K becomes state law to be implemented by counties and cities as they wish. Mendocino County implements Class K with the rationale that it will help meet the requirements of the Housing Element of the General Plan.
- 1980 — The Board of Supervisors implements Clean Slate which allows: Density violations, Owner-Builder architecture, and non-grade stamped lumber, but requires meeting the current codes for electrical, plumbing, enviro health, and mechanical. Numerous Owner-Builders comply. Others who did not are now confronted with violations.
- 1980 — Roland Fellman leaves his position without notice. The permit records in the Fort Bragg office, up to 1973, go “missing”.
- 1980-81 — Mary Adamson is sued by the City of Santa Barbara for having more than five surnames at the dinner table. She appeals to the State Supreme Court which rules in a narrow 4-3 decision that the Rule of Five, ordained in 23 counties and cities is unconstitutional. Chief Justice Rose Bird wrote the majority opinion thus making communes legal.
- 1982-84 — The County makes progress to complete the General Plan and Local Coastal Program. The Citizens Advisory Committee seated to develop the plan for the Town of Mendocino receives little support from Staff, the Planning Commission or BoS. Many towns people feel the same today as the next version of the Mendocino Town Plan goes to the Coastal Commission next month.
- 1982 — Clean Slate terminates after 18 months. The County does not initiate any serious code compliance program for the next twenty years.
- 1983 — The Court accepts the rewritten General Plan. The LCP nears completion. Vacation Home Rentals are permitted throughout the coastal zone.
- 1984-2008 — Code compliance is complaint driven. Code enforcement remains a responsibility of the Chief Building Inspector.
- 2008-2017 Code enforcement becomes its own division of the Planning and Building Department.
- 2016 — Proposition 64 passes. The County sees the revenue raising opportunity to require compliance of all violations on parcels applying for a marijuana permit. Mj inspectors will be required to report any/all prospective violations seen by them. The balance of the county will remain complaint driven.
- 2017— The County objective is to resolve violations rather than raise revenue - except for Mj grow parcels. Permits costs are to increase to cover the costs of additional personnel and hearing officers.
- It remains unclear if the nearly contracted “Hearing Officers” (attorneys or retired judges) will hear cases as infractions or misdemeanors.
- It is rumored that a husband and wife attorney team in Ft. Bragg has applied for the hearing officer position.
- Summary: We can be assured that Code Compliance will remain high on the Boards agenda. Fees and fines will increase to cover the costs of compliance. Enviro Health concerns and requirements are reaching new levels requiring ever more expensive equipment, installation and maintenance.
- People should have the same rights as land and houses should be allowed to be legal non-conforming.
- (Note: This history is drawn from memory and probably contains some errors re dates and details. Please contact Norman with your suggested corrections, additions or errors. email@example.com)
LITTLE DOG SAYS, Size-ism. Every time I turn around someone's hanging a dismissive adjective on me — little; small; tiny etc. One yobbo even referred to me as "diminutive." Hey! Napoleon was 5'4", and seriously, ever meet a smart big dog? They're kinda like high-rise pick-ups: the bigger the dumber.
REDUCING RISK IN THE FINAL RAID SEASON OF UNREGULATED CANNABIS
by Hezekiah Allen
I have mixed feelings about the summer season. Sure, I love the beautiful weather, the river and the coast. But… growing up in Southern Humboldt County—an area that is completely dependent on commercial cannabis—the summer means another thing: raids.
For decades, law enforcement has taken para-military action every summer in communities like mine throughout California. Armed, sometimes masked officers would show up—sometimes hanging from helicopters, and often kicking down doors or cutting gates—to eradicate cannabis plants. Sometimes these officers took on multinational criminal organizations and their equipment and tactics may be warranted. But often this enforcement was aimed at hard working family farmers like mine.
The public didn’t really know the difference, and one size fits all enforcement continued. And we continued to be in hiding, some of us afraid, anxious or ashamed, all of us keeping our mouths shut about what we did.
This was the shadow we lived in. A shadow caused by a public that had been systematically misinformed over decades and law enforcement that destroyed crops and seized assets with impunity. Now, times have changed. Public opinion has evolved. The voters, the legislature and law enforcement all agree: regulation is the future. This is the final raid season before the implementation of regulations for commercial cannabis.
Now, with the coming of regulations, it is the hopes of me and my community that enforcement will give way to inspections, that raids will give way to appointments.
A lot has changed since I was growing up. Cannabis policy reform has continued forward built on the solid foundation of Proposition 215. The passage of the MCRSA and the AUMA together provide the supplies we need to build the next level, but that all has to wait until 2018.
As hard as our team is working in Sacramento to make sure the regulations will work for you, so to do you have to work hard to make sure you are following the rules as they come online.
This is going to be a long and challenging raid season. And it is not going to get any easier in future years. One of the hardest things I do is take phone calls from business owners or farmers that have lost their crop or inventory–or worse–been arrested or had friends and family arrested. There are a few questions I ask that shape my response to those calls. The following is simply my perspective on this coming raid season.
Stay safe out there. Have courage!
Some observations about the coming season
Enforcement is starting early: Often enforcement picks up later in the summer, late July or August. This year enforcement seems to be picking up much earlier, with widespread reports of law enforcement activity reported in late May.
Enforcement is getting more complicated: There are more agencies. Action is taking place for more reasons. Enforcement used to be more simple. It is getting a lot more complicated. There are several agencies, enforcing different rules. Growing up all I needed to know was it the sheriff or the feds? These days the Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as code enforcement and other state and local agencies are pursuing various enforcement activities–and are only sometimes coordinating with one another.
So are the violations: as more agencies enter the cannabis enforcement space, the complexity of the charges is also increasing. Cultivation, trafficking, conspiracy and a few other common charges are now complemented by hundreds of fines and violations, both existing and proposed.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk
Compliance has to be a line item in your work plan and/or budget. This doesn’t mean it has to be a big cost. The same way you plan your travel schedule around the harvest and your budget includes the annual cost of supplies, you now need to start figuring in compliance. Many cottage, specialty and small businesses can’t afford consultants and attorneys and will need to embrace a do it yourself approach to compliance.
Local Government: Get your permit or application in to the county. If none are available, tell your county supervisor what you are doing and where you are doing it.
Board of Equalization: Get your sellers permit!
Water Board: Get your wastewater waiver (North Coast and Central Valley)
Department of Fish and Wildlife: Get your 1600 “lake and streambed alteration (LSA) agreement”
Grow other crops too.
Store more rainwater and use conservation irrigation practices.
Stay small. Start with a modest and humble proposal and grow together with your community and awareness and acceptance of commercial cannabis increases
Be a good neighbor.
Guns are tools not toys.
Loud noises should be kept to daytime hours.
Shared access roads should be well maintained in coordination with your neighbors.
Shared access roads are not racetracks. Vehicles are tools not toys. Drive accordingly.
Dogs should be well trained and well cared for. Take steps to avoid them getting out and bothering neighbors.
Keep other animals and livestock well cared for and ensure they don’t get into waterways or neighbors gardens or yards.
(Courtesy, The Redheaded Black Belt/Kymkemp.com.)
COASTIES DISCUSS POISON HEMLOCK
 To the community, There is dangerous Poison Hemlock growing in our area. Yesterday I learned from my friend Dan Barrett, who first read about this on Facebook. He was subsequently alerted by his neighbor Brent Andersson that this plant was growing on Dan's property. His description of it sounded like something at the back of my place. I checked out a couple of websites, and a photo site, and sure enough it's growing at my place. Here's my best information about it. It slightly resembles Queen Anne's Lace. There are photos of it at https://images.search.yahoo.com/ Additional data can be found at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/menu.homegarden.html and also at https://www.ars.usda.gov/pacific-west-area/logan-ut/poisonous-plant-research/docs/poison-hemlock-conium-maculatum/ DO NOT try to clear this without researching very carefully, and definitely not without a respirator and gloves. Breathing the fumes from cut or broken stems can lead to illness or death. This is a seriously dangerous plant. Follow recommended procedures. This plant's been growing at the back corner of my place for many years....it's pure luck I didn't try breaking a branch off with my bare hands. Hope this information is helpful.
 Dear RR & Community, Poison hemlock is definitely a persistent nuisance in the moist coastal lushness. For years I have hand-grubbed the noxious stinkers out by the roots, usually (but not always) wearing gloves, being super conscious of thorough handwashing after. If you eat the carrot-like root or the lacy foliage, of course you will be sickened. Just a whiff of the stinky stalk is unlikely to lay you low.
 It is in the Umbilliferae family, looks like a flowering carrot. It is ubiquitous all over the country in damp wild places, on roadsides etc. good to be able to identify it.
 Various black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on it and the larva & adults retain the poison. In a Euel Gibbons book ("Stalking the wild asparagus", I think), he says wild Licorice root is edible, the picture and description was identical to Hemlock, but he says to avoid the ones with purple spots on the stem (his epitaph was "died of natural causes"). Sometimes plants in that family hybridize so it's best to avoid them all. I followed his recommendation w/o knowing the risk, and lived. At least I think I'm alive, so I guess I am, but maybe all you people are denizens of the 3rd Bardo. If you are, please clue me in so I can get on w/ it.
To the Editor:
Greetings and salutations. I am writing to mention a issue near and dear to my heart. Here at the Mendocino County Jail, my uncle Greg Caudra sits in a wheelchair. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) he should be accommodated since this is a county facility but instead whenever he is transported to court he’s forced to get out of his wheelchair, sit on the dirty floor of the transport van and then upon arrival, at the courthouse be allowed to resume sitting in his wheelchair. This is a clear and conscious violation of the ADA laws. My uncle’s left leg is severely injured all throughout from hip to ankle and makes it impossible to walk or even bear any weight due to a car crash. Is it right to subject a man to sit in dirt on van floor? Not to mention a van completely devoid of safety mechanisms to begin with such as seat belts but then my uncle has the secondary risk of cracking his head against one of the metal bench seats. What’s wrong with this picture you know? I must say this is so uncool and such mistreatment must be brought to light.
Simon Thornton, Ukiah
UDJ REPORTER OFF THE RAILS
"On Monday, May 29th, at about 12:40 am, UPD officers were dispatched to a residence in the 1100 block of Elm Street, for a report of a male subject who had unlawfully entered the residence and was now being detained.
Upon arrival, officers found a male adult holding down a male subject on the floor inside the residence. Officers detained the subject in handcuffs and placed him in a patrol car, so they could begin their investigation.
The male subject was identified as Erick O’Donnell, a 27-year-old Ukiah resident. Soon after having O’Donnell sit in the back of a patrol car, he got up and attempted to flee while handcuffed. Officers quickly restrained O’Donnell and he was safely secured in the backseat of the car.
During the subsequent investigation, officers learned that the male resident was asleep in his bedroom, while his girlfriend was asleep in another bedroom. The male resident woke up to what he thought was his dog barking and found O’Donnell inside his room. The male resident had no idea who O’Donnell was or why O’Donnell was inside his residence. The male resident yelled at O’Donnell to get out of his house. As the resident got up to deal with O’Donnell and O’Donnell went toward the resident, who was able to wrestle the intruder to the floor. The resident’s girlfriend awoke, saw what was happening and called the police.
Luckily, the residents were not harmed. O’Donnell was placed under arrest for unlawful entry into a residence, prowling and resisting arrest. O’Donnell was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center for a medical clearance. (Ukiah Police Department)
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 2, 2017
Baltazar-Jimenez, Caradine, Desai, Gibson
JOSE BALTAZAR-JIMENEZ, Fort Bragg. DUI, suspended license.
DARRELL CARADINE, Fort Bragg. Vehicle theft.
MILIND DESAI, Ukiah. DUI with BA over 0.15 with priors for second and third convictions.
JESSE GIBSON, Redwood Valley. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
Logan, Long, Rozek, Shealor
JOHN LOGAN JR., Manchester. Domestic assault, false imprisonment, evidence destruction, probation revocation.
RICHARD LONG, Rio Rico, Arizona/Ukiah. Vehicle theft.
ZACHARIA ROZEK, Willits. Vandalism, Probation revocation.
AUSTIN SHEALOR, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, disobeying court order, probation revocation.
Tullos, Venturi, Wallace
JUSTIN TULLOS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
JOSEPH VENTURI, Ukiah. Community supervision violation.
JANET WALLACE, Ukiah. Drunk in public, failure to appear.
by Robert Creeley
When I know what people think of me
I am plunged into my loneliness. The grey
hat bought earlier sickens.
I have no purpose no longer distinguishable.
A feeling like being choked
enters my throat.
SCULLY'S POWER WAFFLES!
Do you lack vim and vigor? Feeling low on energy? Rough night? It is time to the spring back into your stride and Power Up with Scully's Power Waffles. After our wildly successful launch down on Heider field last Saturday we will be rolling out for our second edition up at the Masonic Lodge during the first Friday event in Fort Bragg from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight. We will be bringing a limited edition waffle in honor of the occasion. And it will be glorious. The pleasure of your company is requested.
Scully's Power Waffles
Special First Friday Edition
Fort Bragg Masonic Lodge
428 North Main Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Friday June 2, 2017
Five o'clock to seven o'clock pm.
Andrew Scully, Mendocino
KZYX Does It Again
On April 26 of last year, I wrote a letter to you about the mistake Mendocino County Public Broadcasting — KZYX — made hiring Lorraine Dechter as General Manager. You told me, ‘Sit on it for a year and see what happens.’ So I did. Then on November 28, I sent you a piece about the mistake it’d made hiring Jeffrey Parker as Dechter’s successor. You told me, ‘Give the guy six months then update it.’ So I did.
It’s not that Dechter and Parker are bad people, but they were definitely big hiring mistakes. As pointed out in my first letter, Dechter’s under-qualification is obvious on public Form 990s for nonprofits she’s run before. It’s even worse for Parker. He’s managed only one nonprofit, and it got revoked by the IRS for not filing any Form 990s. I reported that in the piece I sent you in November.
Over a one-year time period, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting reported a net asset loss of $82,060. That’s more than half of its net worth. And it’s reported in Form 990s that aren’t reviewed by the board of directors before filing. Who signs them? The General Managers that should never have been hired in the first place — Dechter and Parker.
Well, I just got their latest Form 990 from the Registry of Charitable Trusts. It’s stamped received February 21, 2017 and signed by Mr. Parker. For the seventh year running, it’s got the same policy about reviewing Form 990s written right on it: ‘NO REVIEW WAS OR WILL BE CONDUCTED.’ The worst news of all is on the depreciation schedule. Normal wear-and-tear has zeroed out the value of leasehold improvements and equipment. The only thing left is a collection of ‘recorded material’ valued at $87,314. Which is very odd, since year before last it was only worth $22,169 — and nothing has been added since then.
I didn’t write any more letters to you about Dechter and Parker’s job performance at your request to give them a chance. It’s too bad they both let you down.
Scott M. Peterson
ED NOTE: Well, kind of. You ripped both of them at length and in dubious detail about three minutes after they'd arrived. I thought, and think, Ms. Dechter was a good manager, but she quickly discovered that the real authority at the entropic institution had long ago been seized by people who undermined her at every turn. Parker is probably similarly stymied. I think both are capable people. Given the Mendo givens, KZYX can't be reformed; it was poisoned in the well. Truly public radio can be found due north at KMUD or, closer to home, KMEC and KNYO.
MARIJUANA REFORM BILLS ADVANCE IN SACRAMENTO
California NORML Press Release
Marijuana Reform Bills Advance in State Legislature;
Citizens Lobby Day in Sacramento June 5th
–Dale Gieringer, Legislative Director, (510) 540-1066, California NORML, www.canorml.org
(Via Olivia Allen)
by James Künstler
“This is one of the things I find funny about the radical Left protests on campus…. You want to have it both ways. You want to be a fledgling member of the elite and a champion of the underprivileged. So, how narcissistic can you get? You want to have all the benefits of having all of the benefits, and you want to have all the benefits of having none of the benefits, because just having all the benefits isn’t enough for you.”
— Jordon Peterson, University of Toronto Psychology Professor
“The empire could no longer afford the problem of its own existence.”
— Joseph Tainter on the collapse of complex societies
The extraordinary thought disorders of this moment in history are equally distributed across the political spectrum. They’re an inevitable product of what Sigmund Freud identified as the discontents of civilization, but they grow especially acute as that civilization enters an economic crack-up zone. The craziness is equally distributed while the nation’s wealth is not. The old middle, or center, is imploding both economically and psychologically, concentrating distortions of reality at each end, Left and Right.
The disordered thought in Trumpism is as self-evident as (a) covfefe, though it came into being out of the authentic pain of those classes that bear the brunt of accelerating collapse. The thought disorders among Trump’s adversaries interest me more, because they emanate from the far more educated ranks of society, the place where rational leadership is supposed to spawn. If you can’t depend on those people to think straight in difficult times, then it raises the question of what exactly is the value of an advanced education?
For instance: the incredible new idea put out by CNN that it is verboten for officials in the government — the president especially — to meet with the Russian ambassador to the United States. I’ve asked this question before, but obviously it needs to be repeated in the face of this persistent nonsense: why do you think nations send diplomats to other lands if not to meet with and communicate with government officials? Since when — and why — are we shocked that a US president would meet in the White House with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister? Did previous presidents not meet with Russian diplomats? Did incoming officials in earlier election transitions never meet with Russian diplomats on the way to assuming their duties? And if they did meet, what do you suppose they talked about? The Baltimore Orioles pitching prospects? The newest fusion cuisine? Or serious matters of mutual geopolitical interest? Do American diplomats in Moscow avoid meeting with Russian leaders? Why do we even bother to send them there?
Whether it is a misunderstanding of reality by the educated people who work on Cable TV news, or a malicious twisting of the public’s credulity, it is producing a grievous breakdown in collective coherence with the potential of causing enormous political mischief in American life. The Dem/Prog “resistance” may think that it is taking a bold stand against a rogue government, but it is only making itself look dangerously unreliable as a supposed alternative to Trumpism.
Otherwise the Dem/Prog Left is dissipating its political and cultural energy in a species of quixotic agit-prop campaigns against reality and ultimately against the project of civilization itself. For instance, the crusade to erase any firm notions of American manhood. Case in point: the front page story on Friday’s The New York Times website: How to Raise a Feminist Son.
For children to reach their full potential, they need to follow their interests, traditional or not. So let them…. Offer open-ended activities, like playing with blocks or clay, and encourage boys to try activities like dress-up or art class, even if they don’t seek them out, social scientists say. Call out stereotypes. (“It’s too bad that toy box shows all girls because I know boys also like to play with dollhouses.”)
In case you’re wondering why pop culture is so saturated by and preoccupied with comic book superheroes it’s because American men are no longer permitted to enact the petty heroics of everyday life, including the ability to support a family by working for a living. (What a quaint idea, I know!) So there is nothing left for them but absurd grandiose fantasies of what it means to be a man. Destroying the boundaries between sexes, and denying that biology even enters into the matter, will only make it more difficult for this nation to navigate through the straits of extreme economic distress.
Second case in point: The trend this year among college students demanding new racially segregated dormitory arrangements, in the name of “inclusion and diversity.” It’s one thing for 19-year-olds to be confused but quite another, and more interesting, that adult college deans go along with this deranged hypocrisy — and so far, I have not heard of a dean or college president willing to oppose this arrant affront to reason. The ultimate victim of all this nonsense is the truth, or course. If you think that truth doesn’t matter, you’ll be very disappointed with the way things turn out in Covfefe Land.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patrion Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
HELISEXUAL Someone who is sexually attracted to helicopters.
Person A :"I sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter ever since I was a boy I dreamed of soaring over the oilfields dropping hot sticky loads on disgusting foreigners. People say to me that a person being a helicopter is impossible and I'm fucking retarded but I don't care, I'm beautiful. I'm having a plastic surgeon install rotary blades, 30 mm cannons and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles on my body. From now on I want you guys to call me "Apache" and respect my right to kill from above and kill needlessly. If you can't accept me you're a heliphobe and need to check your vehicle privilege. Thank you for being so understanding.
Person B : "It's alright I accept that you're a helisexual"
Person C : "I'm not a heliphobe!"
INFAMY AT SEA: ISRAEL’S ATTACK ON THE USS LIBERTY, 50 YEARS LATER
by Jeffrey St. Clair
In early June of 1967, at the onset of the Six Day War, the Pentagon sent the USS Liberty from Spain into international waters off the coast of Gaza to monitor the progress of Israel’s attack on the Arab states. The Liberty was a lightly armed surveillance ship.
Only hours after the Liberty arrived it was spotted by the Israeli military. The IDF sent out reconnaissance planes to identify the ship. They made eight trips over a period of three hours. The Liberty was flying a large US flag and was easily recognizable as an American vessel.
Soon more planes came. These were Israeli Mirage III fighters, armed with rockets and machine guns. As off-duty officers sunbathed on the deck, the fighters opened fire on the defenseless ship with rockets and machine guns.
A few minutes later a second wave of planes streaked overhead, French-built Mystere jets, which not only pelted the ship with gunfire but also with napalm bomblets, coating the deck with the flaming jelly. By now, the Liberty was on fire and dozens were wounded and killed, excluding several of the ship’s top officers.
The Liberty’s radio team tried to issue a distress call, but discovered the frequencies had been jammed by the Israeli planes with what one communications specialist called “a buzzsaw sound.” Finally, an open channel was found and the Liberty got out a message it was under attack to the USS America, the Sixth Fleet’s large aircraft carrier.
Two F-4s left the carrier to come to the Liberty’s aid. Apparently, the jets were armed only with nuclear weapons. When word reached the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara became irate and ordered the jets to return. “Tell the Sixth Fleet to get those aircraft back immediately,” he barked. McNamara’s injunction was reiterated in saltier terms by Admiral David L. McDonald, the chief of Naval Operations: “You get those fucking airplanes back on deck, and you get them back down.” The planes turned around. And the attack on the Liberty continued.
After the Israeli fighter jets had emptied their arsenal of rockets, three Israeli attack boats approached the Liberty. Two torpedoes were launched at the crippled ship, one tore a 40-foot wide hole in the hull, flooding the lower compartments, and killing more than a dozen American sailors.
As the Liberty listed in the choppy seas, its deck aflame, crew members dropped life rafts into the water and prepared to scuttle the ship. Given the number of wounded, this was going to be a dangerous operation. But it soon proved impossible, as the Israeli attack boats strafed the rafts with machine gun fire. No body was going to get out alive that way.
After more than two hours of unremitting assault, the Israelis finally halted their attack. One of the torpedo boats approached the Liberty. An officer asked in English over a bullhorn: “Do you need any help?”
The wounded commander of the Liberty, Lt. William McGonagle, instructed the quartermaster to respond emphatically: “Fuck you.”
The Israeli boat turned and left.
A Soviet destroyer responded before the US Navy, even though a US submarine, on a covert mission, was apparently in the area and had monitored the attack. The Soviet ship reached the Liberty six hours before the USS Davis. The captain of the Soviet ship offered his aid, but the Liberty’s conning officer refused.
Finally, 16 hours after the attack two US destroyers reached the Liberty. By that time, 34 US sailors were dead and 174 injured, many seriously. As the wounded were being evacuated, an officer with the Office of Naval Intelligence instructed the men not to talk about their ordeal with the press.
The following morning Israel launched a surprise invasion of Syria, breaching the new cease-fire agreement and seizing control of the Golan Heights.
Within three weeks, the Navy put out a 700-page report, exonerating the Israelis, claiming the attack had been accidental and that the Israelis had pulled back as soon as they realized their mistake. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara suggested the whole affair should be forgotten. “These errors do occur,” McNamara concluded.
* * *
In Assault on the Liberty, a harrowing first-hand account by James Ennes Jr., McNamara’s version of events is proven to be as big a sham as his concurrent lies about Vietnam. Ennes’s book created a media storm when it was first published by Random House in 1980, including (predictably) charges that Ennes was a liar and an anti-Semite. Still, the book sold more than 40,000 copies, but was eventually allowed to go out of print. Now Ennes has published an updated version, which incorporates much new evidence that the Israeli attack was deliberate and that the US government went to extraordinary lengths to disguise the truth.
It’s a story of Israel aggression, Pentagon incompetence, official lies, and a cover-up that persists to this day. The book gains much of its power from the immediacy of Ennes’s first-hand account of the attack and the lies that followed.
Now, decades later, Ennes warns that the bloodbath on board the Liberty and its aftermath should serve as a tragic cautionary tale about the continuing ties between the US government and the government of Israel.
The Attack on the Liberty is the kind of book that makes your blood seethe. Ennes skillfully documents the life of the average sailor on one of the more peculiar vessels in the US Navy, with an attention for detail that reminds one of Dana or O’Brien. After all, the year was 1967 and most of the men on the Liberty were certainly glad to be on a non-combat ship in the middle of the Mediterranean, rather than in the Gulf of Tonkin or Mekong Delta.
But this isn’t Two Years Before the Mast. In fact, Ennes’s tour on the Liberty last only a few short weeks. He had scarcely settled into a routine before his new ship was shattered before his eyes.
Ennes joined the Liberty in May of 1967, as an Electronics Material Officer. Serving on a “spook ship”, as the Liberty was known to Navy wives, was supposed to be a sure path to career enhancement. The Liberty’s normal routine was to ply the African coast, tuning in its eavesdropping equipment on the electronic traffic in the region.
The Liberty had barely reached Africa when it received a flash message from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to sail from the Ivory Coast to the Mediterranean, where it was to re-deploy off the coast of the Sinai to monitor the Israeli attack on Egypt and the allied Arab nations.
As the war intensified, the Liberty sent a request to the fleet headquarters requesting an escort. It was denied by Admiral William Martin. The Liberty moved alone to a position in international waters about 13 miles from the shore at El Arish, then under furious siege by the IDF.
On June 6, the Joint Chiefs sent Admiral McCain, father of the senator from Arizona, an urgent message instructing him to move the Liberty out of the war zone to a position at least 100 miles off the Gaza Coast. McCain never forwarded the message to the ship.
A little after seven in the morning on June 8, Ennes entered the bridge of the Liberty to take the morning watch. Ennes was told that an hour earlier a “flying boxcar” (later identified as a twin-engine Nord 2501 Noratlas) had flown over the ship at a low level.
Ennes says he noticed that the ship’s American flag had become stained with soot and ordered a new flag run up the mast. The morning was clear and calm, with a light breeze.
At 9 am, Ennes spotted another reconnaissance plane, which circled the Liberty. An hour later two Israeli fighter jets buzzed the ship. Over the next four hours, Israeli planes flew over the Liberty five more times.
When the first fighter jet struck, a little before two in the afternoon, Ennes was scanning the skies from the starboard side of the bridge, binoculars in his hands. A rocket hit the ship just below where Ennes was standing, the fragments shredded the men closest to him.
After the explosion, Ennes noticed that he was the only man left standing. But he also had been hit by more than 20 shards of shrapnel and the force of the blast had shattered his left leg. As he crawled into the pilothouse, a second fighter jet streaked above them and unleashed its payload on the hobbled Liberty.
At that point, Ennes says the crew of the Liberty had no idea who was attacking them or why. For a few moments, they suspected it might be the Soviets, after an officer mistakenly identified the fighters as MIG-15s. They knew that the Egyptian air force already had been decimated by the Israelis. The idea that the Israelis might be attacking them didn’t occur to them until one of the crew spotted a Star of David on the wing of one of the French-built Mystere jets.
Ennes was finally taken below deck to a makeshift dressing station, with other wounded men. It was hardly a safe harbor. As Ennes worried that his fractured leg might slice through his femoral artery leaving him to bleed to death, the Liberty was pummeled by rockets, machine-gun fire and an Italian-made torpedo packed with 1,000-pounds of explosive.
After the attack ended, Ennes was approached by his friend Pat O’Malley, a junior officer, who had just sent a list of killed and wounded to the Bureau of Naval Personnel. He got an immediate message back. “They said, ‘Wounded in what action? Killed in what action?’,” O’Malley told Ennes. “They said it wasn’t an ‘action,’ it was an accident. I’d like for them to come out here and see the difference between an action and an accident. Stupid bastards.”
The cover-up had begun.
* * *
The Pentagon lied to the public about the attack on the Liberty from the very beginning. In a decision personally approved by the loathsome McNamara, the Pentagon denied to the press that the Liberty was an intelligence ship, referring to it instead as a Technical Research ship, as if it were little more than a military version of Jacques Cousteau’s Calypso.
The military press corps on the USS America, where most of the wounded sailors had been taken, were placed under extreme restrictions. All of the stories filed from the carrier were first routed through the Pentagon for security clearance, objectionable material was removed with barely a bleat of protest from the reporters or their publications.
Predictably, Israel’s first response was to blame the victim, a tactic that has served them so well in the Palestinian situation. First, the IDF alleged that it had asked the State Department and the Pentagon to identify any US ships in the area and was told that there were none. Then the Israeli government charged that the Liberty failed to fly its flag and didn’t respond to calls for it to identify itself. The Israelis contended that they assumed the Liberty was an Egyptian supply ship called El Quseir, which, even though it was a rusting transport ship then docked in Alexandria, the IDF said it suspected of shelling Israeli troops from the sea. Under these circumstances, the Israeli’s said they were justified in opening fire on the Liberty. The Israelis said that they halted the attack almost immediately, when they realized their mistake.
“The Liberty contributed decisively toward its identification as an enemy ship,” the IDF report concluded. This was a blatant falsehood, since the Israelis had identified the Liberty at least six hours prior to the attack on the ship.
Even though the Pentagon knew better, it gave credence to the Israeli account by saying that perhaps the Liberty’s flag had lain limp on the flagpole in a windless sea. The Pentagon also suggested that the attack might have lasted less than 20 minutes.
After the initial battery of misinformation, the Pentagon imposed a news blackout on the Liberty disaster until after the completion of a Court of Inquiry investigation.
The inquiry was headed by Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd. Kidd didn’t have a free hand. He’d been instructed by Vice-Admiral McCain to limit the damage to the Pentagon and to protect the reputation of Israel.
The Kidd interviewed the crew on June 14 and 15. The questioning was extremely circumscribed. According to Ennes, the investigators “asked nothing that might be embarrassing to Israeland testimony that tended to embarrass Israel was covered with a ‘Top Secret’ label, if it was accepted at all.”
Ennes notes that even testimony by the Liberty’s communications officers about the jamming of the ship’s radios was classified as “Top Secret.” The reason? It proved that Israel knew it was attacking an American ship. “Here was strong evidence that the attack was planned in advance and that our ship’s identity was known to the attackers (for it its practically impossible to jam the radio of a stranger), but this information was hushed up and no conclusions were drawn from it,” Ennes writes.
Similarly, the Court of Inquiry deep-sixed testimony and affidavits regarding the flag-Ennes had ordered a crisp new one deployed early on the morning of the attack. The investigators buried intercepts of conversations between IDF pilots identifying the ship as flying an American flag.
It also refused to accept evidence about the IDF’s use of napalm during the attacks and choose not to hear testimony regarding the duration of the attacks and the fact that the US Navy failed to send planes to defend the ship.
“No one came to help us,” said Dr. Richard F. Kiepfer, the Liberty’s physician. “We were promised help, but no help came. The Russians arrived before our own ships did. We asked for an escort before we ever came to the war zone and we were turned down.”
None of this made its way into the 700-page Court of Inquiry report, which was completed within a couple of weeks and sent to Admiral McCain in London for review.
McCain approved the report over the objections of Captain Merlin Staring, the Navy legal officer assigned to the inquiry, who found the report to be flawed, incomplete and contrary to the evidence.
Staring sent a letter to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy disavowing himself from the report. The JAG seemed to take Staring’s objections to heart. It prepared a summary for the Chief of Naval Operations that almost completely ignored the Kidd/McCain report. Instead, it concluded:
that the Liberty was easily recognizable as an American naval vessel; that it’s flag was fully deployed and flying in a moderate breeze; that Israeli planes made at least eight reconnaissance flights at close range; the ship came under a prolonged attack from Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats.
This succinct and largely accurate report was stamped Top Secret by Navy brass and stayed locked up for many years. But it was seen by many in the Pentagon and some in the Oval Office. But here was enough grumbling about the way the Liberty incident had been handled that LBJ summoned that old Washington fixer Clark Clifford to do damage control. It didn’t take Clifford long to come up with the official line: the Israelis simply had made a tragic mistake.
It turns out that the Admiral Kidd and Captain Ward Boston, the two investigating officers who prepared the original report for Admiral McCain, both believed that the Israeli attack was intentional and sustained. In other words, the IDF knew that they were striking an American spy ship and they wanted to sink it and kill as many sailors as possible. Why then did the Navy investigators produce a sham report that concluded it was an accident?
Twenty-five years later we finally found out. In June of 2002, Captain Boston told the Navy Times: “Officers follow orders.”
It gets worse. There’s plenty of evidence that US intelligence agencies learned on June 7 that Israel intended to attack the Liberty on the following day and that the strike had been personally ordered by Moshe Dayan.
As the attacks were going on, conversations between Israeli pilots were overheard by US Air Force officers in an EC121 surveillance plane overhead. The spy plane was spotted by Israeli jets, which were given orders to shoot it down. The American plane narrowly avoided the IDF missiles.
Initial reports on the incident prepared by the CIA, Office of Naval Intelligence and the National Security Agency all reached similar conclusions.
A particularly damning report compiled by a CIA informant suggests that Israeli Defense minister Moshe Dayan personally ordered the attack and wanted it to proceed until the Liberty was sunk and all on board killed. A heavily redacted version of the report was released in 1977. It reads in part:
“[The source] said that Dayan personally ordered the attack on the ship and that one of his generals adamantly opposed the action and said, ‘This is pure murder.’ One of the admirals who was present also disapproved of the action, and it was he who ordered it stopped and not Dayan.”
This amazing document generated little attention from the press and Dayan was never publicly questioned about his role in the attack.
The analyses by the intelligence agencies are collected in a 1967 investigation by the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations. Two and half decades later that report remains classified. Why? A former committee staffer said: “So as not to embarrass Israel.”
More proof came to light from the Israeli side. A few years after Attack on the Liberty was originally published, Ennes got a call from Evan Toni, an Israeli pilot. Toni told Ennes that he had just read his book and wanted to tell him his story. Toni said that he was the pilot in the first Israeli Mirage fighter to reach the Liberty. He immediately recognized the ship to be a US Navy vessel. He radioed Israeli air command with this information and asked for instructions. Toni said he was ordered to “attack.” He refused and flew back to the air base at Ashdod. When he arrived he was summarily arrested for disobeying orders.
* * *
How tightly does the Israeli lobby control the Hill? For the first time in history, an attack on an America ship was not subjected to a public investigation by Congress. In 1980, Adlai Stevenson and Barry Goldwater planned to open a senate hearing into the Liberty affair. Then Jimmy Carter intervened by brokering a deal with Menachem Begin, where Israel agreed to pony up $6 million to pay for damages to the ship. A State Department press release announced the payment said, “The book is now closed on the USS Liberty.”
It certainly was the last chapter for Adlai Stevenson. He ran for governor of Illinois the following year, where his less than perfect record on Israel, and his unsettling questions about the Liberty affair, became an issue in the campaign. Big money flowed into the coffers of his Republican opponent, Big Jim Thompson, and Stevenson went down to a narrow defeat.
But the book wasn’t closed for the sailors either, of course. After a Newsweek story exposed the gist of what really happened on that day in the Mediterranean, an enraged Admiral McCain placed all the sailors under a gag order. When one sailor told an officer that he was having problems living with the cover-up, he was told: “Forget about it, that’s an order.”
The Navy went to bizarre lengths to keep the crew of the Liberty from telling what they knew. When gag orders didn’t work, they threatened sanctions. Ennes tells of the confinement and interrogation of two Liberty sailors that sounds like something right out of the CIA’s MK-Ultra program.
“In an incredible abuse of authority, military officers held two young Liberty sailors against their will in a locked and heavily guarded psychiatric ward of the base hospital,” Ennes writes. “For days these men were drugged and questioned about their recollections of the attack by a ‘therapist’ who admitted to being untrained in either psychiatry or psychology. At one point, they avoided electroshock only by bolting from the room and demanding to see the commanding officer.”
Since coming home, the veterans who have tried to tell of their ordeal have been harassed relentlessly. They’ve been branded as drunks, bigots, liars and frauds. Often, it turns out, these slurs have been leaked by the Pentagon. And, oh yeah, they’ve also been painted as anti-Semites.
In a recent column, Charley Reese describes just how mean-spirited and petty this campaign became. “When a small town in Wisconsin decided to name its library in honor of the USS Liberty crewmen, a campaign claiming it was anti-Semitic was launched,” writes Reese. “And when the town went ahead, the U.S. government ordered no Navy personnel to attend, and sent no messages. This little library was the first, and at the time the only, memorial to the men who died on the Liberty.”
* * *
So why then did the Israelis attack the Liberty?
A few days before the Six Days War, Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban visited Washington to inform LBJ about the forthcoming invasion. Johnson cautioned Eban that the US could not support such an attack.
It’s possible, then, that the IDF assumed that the Liberty was spying on the Israeli war plans. Possible, but not likely. Despite the official denials, as Andrew and Leslie Cockburn demonstrate in Dangerous Liaison, at the time of the Six Days War the US and Israel had developed a warm covert relationship. So closely were the two sides working that US intelligence aid certainly helped secure Israel’s devastating and swift victory. In fact, it’s possible that the Liberty had been sent to the region to spy for the IDF.
A somewhat more likely scenario holds that Moshe Dayan wanted to keep the lid on Israel’s plan to breach the new cease-fire and invade into Syria to seize the Golan.
It has also been suggested that Dayan ordered the attack on the Liberty with the intent of pinning the blame on the Egyptians and thus swinging public and political opinion in the United States solidly behind the Israelis. Of course, for this plan to work, the Liberty had to be destroyed and its crew killed.
There’s another factor. The Liberty was positioned just off the coast from the town of El Arish. In fact, Ennes and others had used town’s mosque tower to fix the location of the ship along the otherwise featureless desert shoreline. The IDF had seized El Arish and had used the airport there as a prisoner of war camp. On the very day the Liberty was attacked, the IDF was in the process of executing as many as 1,000 Palestinian and Egyptian POWs, a war crime that they surely wanted to conceal from prying eyes. According to Gabriel Bron, now an Israeli reporter, who witnessed part of the massacre as a soldier: “The Egyptian prisoners of war were ordered to dig pits and then army police shot them to death.”
The bigger question is why the US government would participate so enthusiastically in the cover-up of a war crime against its own sailors. Well, the Pentagon has never been slow to hide its own incompetence. And there’s plenty of that in the Liberty affair: bungled communications, refusal to provide an escort, situating the defenseless Liberty too close to a raging battle, the inability to intervene in the attack and the inexcusably long time it took to reach the battered ship and its wounded.
That’s but par for the course. But something else was going on that would only come to light later. Through most of the 1960s, the US congress had imposed a ban on the sale of arms to both Israel and Jordan. But at the time of the Liberty attack, the Pentagon (and its allies in the White House and on the Hill) was seeking to have this proscription overturned. The top brass certainly knew that any evidence of a deliberate attack on a US Navy ship by the IDF would scuttle their plans. So they hushed it up.
In January 1968, the arms embargo on Israel was lifted and the sale of American weapons began to flow. By 1971, Israel was buying $600 million of American-made weapons a year. Two years later the purchases topped $3 billion. Almost overnight, Israel had become the largest buyer of US-made arms and aircraft.
Perversely, then, the IDF’s strike on the Liberty served to weld the US and Israel together, in a kind of political and military embrace. Now, every time the IDF attacks defenseless villages in Gaza and the West Bank with F-16s and Apache helicopters, the Palestinians quite rightly see the bloody assaults as a joint operation, with the Pentagon as a hidden partner.
Thus, does the legacy of Liberty live on, one raid after another.
+ What we might call the Sputnik-Left is just as obsessed with RussiaGate© as the MSDNC crowd, as the laptops sleuths track the Deep State’s vaporous footprints down every tedious twist-and-turn in the plot to take down Trump. The Deep State has now been infused with the inviolate power once reserved for the Bohemian Grovers, the Bilderberg Gang, the Illuminati and the House of Rothschild. The internet bristles with the conspiratorial phrases “coup d’etat” and “regime change,” as the shadowy forces that really run the Republic are allegedly laying the groundwork to decapitate Trump. Both sides are feeding at the same trough of hallucinogens. On one side, Vladimir Putin is portrayed as a kind of Dr. Mabuse, whose diabolical powers of penetration and control of the Trump regime are almost telepathic. On the other, the Deep State stands poised to evict any executive who doesn’t follow its dictates to the letter. It’s gotten to the point where I get the impression that some on the Sputnik-Left would call for the waterboarding of Daniel Ellsberg or Phil Agee had they suspected them of leaking dirt on Trump and his gang of grifters about their dealings with Russia.
The Deep State is, in fact, so powerful that it has apparently even gotten to Putin, who suggested this week (perhaps at CIA gunpoint) that the cyber-meddling in the 2016 elections may have been the work of “patriotically minded” Russian civilians. (I’ve always thought that Putin should have seized credit for the election of Trump, even if he had nothing to do with it. Same for Ralph Nader in 2000. If they’re going to blame it on you anyway, you might as well bask in the acclaim and put the fear of god into them.)
I view the torrent of leaks that are now swamping Trump with the same giddy sense of schadenfreude I enjoyed when the DNC and Podesta emails made their dramatic appearance. The truth stings, for a while anyway. Trump is wounded, but not yet lethally. He will linger in office as long as he is useful to his own party and when he becomes a liability they’ll try to pitch him overboard. If Trump falls, there will be no need for a second Warren Commission to find the patsy. He will have doomed himself. (Trump is one of those rare individuals who can be both perpetrator and patsy simultaneously.)
As for the shadow government, omnipotent enemies are convenient creations that absolve the conspiracists of any responsibility for resisting the carnage that is taking place outside their own bunkers. Ron Jacobs recently said something very simple but very profound: the Deep State is the State. So it is and the malign work of the state drones on, day after day, unimpeded and almost unnoticed amid the white noise of sectarian cyber-feuding.
+ Slummin’ it, Obama-style, which seems to be the same haunted (by the victims of Obama’s drone strikes) manse where Black Sabbath used to hang out.
+ How Qusay Trump spent Earth Day: shooting prairie dogs during breeding season….
+ There’s no need to wonder what kind of society we’ve become. This kind.
+ In her endless quest to finger new scapegoats to blame for her embarrassing loss to Trump, Hillary Clinton has finally stumbled on some pay dirt. The emphasis is on dirt. Clinton is now blaming the DNC for her defeat. In a speech to tech moguls in California, HRC targeted the DNC’s deficient data ops for her loss.
“I set up my campaign and we have our own data operation. I get the nomination. So I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean it was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it — the DNC — to keep it going.”
Since the DNC as we know it (i.e., a corporate money machine that churns out neoliberal candidates) is largely a creation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, this is about as close as she will ever come to some introspection on her doomed campaign. But the aspersions struck a nerve inside the DNC. Andrew Therriault, the DNC’s former director of data science, returned fire at Clinton with a fusillade of tweets ending with this direct shot:
“DNC data folks: today’s accusations are fucking bullshit, and I hope you understand the good you did despite this nonsense.”
Therriault boasted that his shop in the DNC had slotted Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania as within the margin error, while the Clinton team fatally ignored their warnings and considered all of those states as sure things.
I suggest that they settle this dispute in a pay-per-view to-the-death cage match held at one of Sheldon Adleson’s casinos.
+ Let Them Eat Champagne Popsicles! Yes, Ivanka’s lifestyle brand tweet that Champagne Popsicles were the perfect way to celebrate the war dead on Memorial Day. I was slammed for bringing up this tone-deaf advice. My critics said I was playing in the gutter and not sticking to “the real issues.”
Of course, as we know from the French and Russian revolutions, it’s precisely this kind of pettiness in times of extreme deprivation which often serves to ignite the fuse of mass revolt. If you keep waiting for the “contradictions to be heightened” to the breaking point, you may well be sitting idle another 50 years–if the planet’s still here. There’s a reason every schoolchild knows “Let Them Eat Cake” and almost no one remembers the Tennis Court Oath.
* * *
My father, TH St. Clair, who died early Friday morning. He lived a huge, sprawling, adventuresome life that took him from the hollows of the Virginia Piedmont to growing up in inner city Indianapolis; from being a star athlete in three sports and a top student at Broad Ripple High School to the US Navy during the Korean War (where he developed a lifelong detestation of senseless conflicts and drafted one of the earliest internal reports urging the US to stay out of Southeast Asia); from playing centerfield in college under the GI Bill to the first night law school cohort (for working class students) at Indiana University and ultimately arguing an important civil rights housing case before the US Supreme Court. He was a voracious reader, gifted writer, avid birdwatcher & a stained-glass artisan, who began learning piano and Chinese after his retirement from the bar. His mind remained sharp and fully-engaged until the very last moments, when the Atavan and morphine kicked in to ease his final journey into the Bardo…It’s not every father, I assume, who can teach you to memorize a sonnet, field a ground ball, and see injustice and prejudice. We had the best kind of relationship: contentious (sometimes extremely so), long & loving.
END THE GREEDY SILENCE: ENOUGH ALREADY
by Ralph Nader
It is time Americans rise up against the corruption, inefficiency, and cruelty of our healthcare system and tell its corporate captors and Congress – Enough Already!
For decades other countries have guaranteed universal health insurance for all their people, at lower costs and better outcomes (President Truman proposed it 72 years ago in the US). When are we going to break out of this taxpayer-subsidized prison built by the giant insurance companies, drug goliaths and monopolizing hospital chains?
How long is Uncle Sucker going to pay through the nose for gouging drug prices, patient-denying health insurance companies and all the brutal fine print rules in consumer contracts whose trap doors are maddening tens of millions of Americans?
Deductibles, exclusions, waivers, co-pays, corporate immunities from injured patients, disqualifying changes in patients’ status and just plain stonewalling are just some examples of this cruel madness.
Not to mention the endless electronic bills with their inscrutable codes and unchallengeable charges – that is if you can get anyone on the phone to answer your questions. Billing fraud and abuses alone cost us up to $330 billion a year!
Why do we put up with “pay or die” drug prices? Why do we tolerate our fellow Americans dying in the tens of thousands each year because they cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time?
Do we know that the profiteering drug companies regularly are given a slew of handouts, including huge tax breaks, free drugs developed by our National Institutes of Health, and few restraints on their high pressure sales of dangerous and addictive drugs (eg opioids) or, together with their corporate middlemen, return the favor by charging Americans the highest prices in the world? Other countries put limits on such blatant greed and exploitation.
Groping for ever more profits, the big drug companies offshore production to less regulated labs in China and India, which amount to 60% of the drugs we buy and 80% of the active ingredients in all medicines sold in the US. Unpatriotic in the extreme!
Compounding these inhumane practices is a supine Congress, with few exceptions like Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D, TX), and state legislatures, misusing the power we entrusted to them. These legislators see large pharmaceutical companies as honey pots for campaign cash that work as hush money paid by hordes of drug industry lobbyists. So craven was the majority in Congress in 2003 that, when the drug benefits bill was passed, it prohibited Medicare from negotiating volume discounts for this lucrative corporate sales bonanza (Past Congresses authorized the Pentagon and Veterans Administration to bargain and they get lower prices as a result).
Despite the fact that these healthcare challenges have been dealt with more humanely and economically by other Western countries in the world, Americans are consistently told to tolerate an aggravating status quo. Scores of books, articles and television exposés highlight all the ways we’re pushed around, denied, excluded, harmed, overcharged and deceived, yet so many of these authors still maintain that our system of health insurance/healthcare can’t be replaced with a much better one? So these writers continue to advise us how to duck, slide and swivel our escape from a few of these commercials chains and scams.
In all the fine articles written to help consumers navigate Obamacare, Medicare, and private health plans, the authors trap themselves in this vast corporate cul-de-sac by never mentioning the way out.
That way is Single Payer or Full Medicare for all, everybody in, nobody out, with free choice of doctors and hospitals – at far lower costs, mortality and morbidity. These narrow reformers can’t escape their “it ain’t going to happen here” syndrome.
Really? Don’t they know that the public has long viewed Single Payer favorably (including a majority of doctors and nurses), even without political leaders standing up for it or mass media reporting this proven safe path.
The surrender to corporate tyranny infects the 113 members of the House of Representatives who have co-signed HR 676 to create full Medicare for all. They signed, but then gave in to a silent resignation by not fighting for it in Congress and back home.
When the companies and their apologists argue for a “free market” approach to healthcare, you can retort – what free market? Half the money coming to these companies is from the federal, state and local governments. Taxpayers also pay tens of billions of dollars for much of the discovery and testing of drugs. Tax breaks and loopholes in patent laws block generic drugs and distort the free market.
Drug patents are by definition monopolies. Concentration by mergers and acquisitions of hospitals, clinics and physician practices (note dwindling independent cardiology practices) raise serious anti-trust issues. Fine print contract peonage takes away the consumers’ freedom of contract, as do the daily buy and sell equations, so often rendered by third parties for patients. Corporate billing and other crimes are endemic. What free market?
Each of you can help the Single Payer movement build momentum. Ask your members of Congress in writing if they support HR 676 and, if not, demand their appearance in person at a town meeting arranged by people like you to answer why. If they refuse, peacefully picket their local offices.
Ask the newspapers, radio and television stations, including the culpable public radio and public television, when are they going to cover the basic full Medicare reform supported by tens of millions of their listeners and viewers?
Finally, go to the website SinglePayerAction.org to find out what other people are doing and what more you can do with your friends and co-workers.
One percent of you, together with popular backing, can make it happen, through a persistent civic hobby. Remember, you only have to turn around less than 450 members of Congress.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)