Mendocino County Today: Friday, July 14, 2017
by AVA News Service, July 14, 2017
A BELATED BUT SINCERE THANK YOU on behalf of the Senior Center and Historical Society boards to everyone who helped us raise money via our annual wine booth at the Sierra Nevada Festival.
It's hard to believe that the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is already a month in the past, and before any more time goes by, the boards of the Anderson Valley Senior Center and Historical Society have a lot of people to thank for helping us, once again, raise much-needed funding via our annual Festival wine booth. Of course, you can’t run a wine booth without wine, so a huge thank you goes out to the great folks at Navarro Vineyards and Pennyroyal Farms for the more than generous donation of the delicious and popular 2013 Navarro Zinfandel and Pennyroyal 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. We also want to thank our marvelous crew of volunteers who shrugged off the heat and the long shifts to greet each customer with a smile and make people want to come back for more. (The excellence of the wine helped, there, of course.) Finally, thanks to the folks of the SNWM Festival for facilitating our fund-raising efforts once more and for issuing all those volunteer passes so that everyone could come and go easily and enjoy the music, as well. So, to everyone who played a part, a belated but very sincere thank you for a job well done!
Jerry Karp, Boonville, For the Senior Denter/Historical Society
ANDERSON VALLEY is "discovered" by outside media on what seems like a weekly basis, the effect of which, or at least one effect of all the gush-gush advertising in the great world outside, is the conversion of lots of rental space to transient accommodations. We are advertised in the great world outside as "the unhurried Napa Valley." And we have a bunch of good, modestly-priced restaurants and umpty many tasting rooms to rival that particular hell hole.
I SUPPOSE the Walking Stomach sectors of the population find AV, especially put aside the shuffling mob scenes that are now Healdsburg, Sonoma and Napa, pretty darn enticing. Myself, I'd sleep under a bridge before I'd pay $200 for a room in some scented sheets spa, but then driving around all over NorCal eating and guzzling wine isn't my idea of a good time.
THE OTHER DAY there was a million dollar wedding at a local high end showcase of a place. Two Google execs were wed there. The food was catered by Quince, a fancy Frisco restaurant. Every place in the Valley was stuffed with Silicon yuppos in town for the big event.
ONE COUPLE in town for the wedding booked themselves into Blackbird Farm, the ridgetop ranch now owned by an LA-based edu-swindler named John Hall. Hall recently drove up to a neighborhood meeting in a chauffered limo, his driver togged out in old fashioned livery complete with cap. Hall, looking pointedly at his Rolex as if he were the world's biggest big shot, said he had "exactly thirty minutes" to listen to neighbor complaints about his alleged educational cum tourist rental operation. Silently absorbing a half-hour history of his bad neighborliness, Hall got back into his limo and drove off.
THE TWO WOMEN in Philo for the mammoth wedding who'd rented a Blackbird cabin for the weekend were, to say the least, unhappy with Blackbird, so unhappy they placed frantic 3am "Get us outta here!" calls for help. They said they couldn't sleep because the place was crawling with marauding insects, the bathroom was "filthy," and the place so dirty and vermin-ridden they absolutely had to get off the hill. Right now.
AND they fled to a hastily-arranged Boonville home where they'd been offered late-night sanctuary.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Hey! This babe on the left wants to get to know me. Hubba-hubba. Bring it on, honey. I'll take you next door for a Redwood Drive-in donut!”
DISTRICT ATTORNEY DAVID EYSTER, commenting on Rex Gressett’s recent Fort Bragg Notes column writes:
“Hey Rex … I candidly find little candor in the melodramatic story we all were told at the meeting (and your article seems to give some credence to) that former Police Chief Joe Mayberry, with “a tear in his eye,” long ago confided in others that the IN&S had come to town during his tenure and commandeered he and his police force against his will and better judgment. My memory remains – I was a young prosecutor back then – that Chief Mayberry instead reached out and asked for manpower help from the I&NS and they came to town in response to that invitation to simply support local police action. The majority of the community was supportive at the time (and less politicized than we seem to be these days). Always a straight-shooter and his own man, there simply is no reality in the assertion that Joe and his men were ordered about or otherwise commandeered by those he had invited to town. Chief Mayberry (or any chief for that matter) would have never allowed that to happen and, more importantly, it didn’t happen. Any doubt about this? Feel free to ask Joe’s son, Scott. He, along with others, can discount for you that which we heard … which it seems was only a revisionist story to fit the moment.”
LOUIS BEDROCK WRITES:
The last stage of Erik Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development is labeled “Maturity.”
“The most important event at this stage is coming to accept one’s whole life and reflecting on that life in a positive manner. According to Erikson, achieving a sense of integrity means fully accepting oneself and coming to terms with the death. Accepting responsibility for your life and being able to undo the past and achieve satisfaction with self is essential. The inability to do this results in a feeling of despair.”
At 72, I feel neither complete satisfaction with my life nor despair; however, I’m closer to the former.
In June, I attended the 54th reunion of my high school class. There were more names on the final page, the list of people who have died, than on the list of attendees.
Among old friends who have survived, I found that my ambiguous position in Erikson’s last stage of life was shared by many. Even among the most successful, there were regrets. A professor at USC rued several failed marriages; a successful attorney who had advocated for many progressive causes had recently lost an adopted daughter and wished he had had more children; a psychiatrist questioned the worth of his work and of his profession.
I’ve been more lucky than wise. I wound up at a job that was not the one I really wanted. Nevertheless, I persisted at it for twenty years, earned some recognition and success, and retired in 2010 with a decent pension and an insurance policy that, along with Medicare, has helped me through a couple of serious illnesses without leaving me bankrupt.
I have modest savings and own a small house around the corner from a lovely park where I can walk, jog, ride my bike, or watch soccer games and fast pitch softball.
I’m not clinging to a dead end job and living in a run down trailer in a run down part of town. I’m not an overweight drunk whose only recreation is drinking myself into a stupor then going home and typing and posting snarky remarks like a common troll. I’m not barred from seeing my grandchildren by my own children who know me for what I am.
I don’t badmouth my employer at every opportunity, blaming him for stifling my boundless talent.
“He has potential,” is a great thing for people to say about you when you’re 20. At 65, it’s pathetic.
At the end of Sophocles’ play, OEDIPUS REX, the Chorus reminds us,
—Therefore, while our eyes wait to see the destined final day, we must call no one happy who is of the mortal race, until he has crossed life’s border, free from pain.
My life is not over yet. It’s a good idea to keep in mind this admonition. Life seldom ends well.
But this morning, I’m not drunk, do not have a hangover, and I feel good. It’s a little warm for a bike ride, but I’m going for a walk in the park. For now, I’m alive, I’m healthy, and I’m grateful.
IS RUSSIA AN ENEMY?
Is this a true statement? Those who answer "yes" proudly depend on several of the following for their news & political opinion: NYT, WashPo, MSNBC, CNN, Daily Beast, Daily Kos, NPR, New Yorker, Atlantic, PBS, Salon, HuffPo, Democracy Now, Sam Harris Podcasts.
Phil Baldwin, Ukiah
PS. If you wonder about my chief sources, well, heck: Ukiah Daily Journal, AVA, Consortium News, Counterpunch, Antiwar.com, RT, Russia Insider, Dissident Voice, Press TV, MintPress, Black Agenda Report, 21st Century Wire, New Eastern Outlook. Yes, to counterbalance the 12 lefty anti-imperialist sites I do watch Tucker Carlson of FOX News & occasionally for opposition research I check out CNN's Anderson Cooper & MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
MOUNTAIN LION SIGHTINGS TO WOODLANDS WILDLIFE PLEASE
Woodlands Wildlife is tracking mountain lion sightings on a big map. If you sight a lion, please post on the list serve OR email WoodlandsWildlife@mcn.org include the date, time of day, and place. Within a few months we will have a comprehensive (I hope) map of where these guys are hanging out. We can then make it available for anyone to access.
Thanks for the help—
Ronnie, Woodlands Wildlife, Mendocino
RESCUED MENDOCINO HIKER IS BACK ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
Mendocino hiker is back on the Pacific Crest Trail after rescue
by Clark Mason
Days after being rescued by helicopter while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a Mendocino man set off again Wednesday recharged and ready to trek 1,100 more miles to the Oregon border.
Charles Brandenburg, 55, who was forced to summon help last week after becoming overheated and dehydrated, had to wait even longer when two search and rescue volunteers who were bringing him water were robbed of their radios by two gunmen along the trail.
Brandenburg, a veteran hiker, said he ran into trouble on the popular hiking trail between Mexico and Canada when temperatures spiked and he ran low on water in the mountains between Mojave and Tehachapi.
“It was 110 (degrees). It took everything out of me,” he said, adding that he was down to less than a cup of water. His silver, reflective umbrella and the sparse vegetation provided no respite from searing heat.
Brandenburg decided to activate a rescue device that allows him to send text messages to authorities.
“Normally I would have waited it out, but I hadn’t seen people for two days. I went ahead and pushed my SOS button,” he said in a telephone interview from a Sierra Nevada camp, where he went to resume his journey.
Initially, Kern County sheriff’s officials said rescuers would bring water to him within a few hours. But that changed after two search and rescue team members coming to his aid went down a wrong trail and were held at gunpoint by two men who took their equipment and escorted them out of the area.
Brandenburg had to wait until that evening before sheriff’s rescuers finally reached him. Fortunately, several others hikers encountered him before that and shared their water.
“I would have probably not made it. It would have been close. It was super hot,” Brandenburg said, adding that by the time the helicopter arrived, another hiker who had joined him was also showing signs of distress from the heat, cramping and vomiting.
A Kern County Sheriff’s spokesman said Wednesday that the two armed men were still at large and the investigation was ongoing.
Senior Deputy Tommy Robbins said it’s very possible the pair may have been guarding an illegal marijuana grow, but he wasn’t aware of any in the area.
The two armed men were the subject of a manhunt with SWAT team members that briefly closed down a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail before it reopened Monday.
Brandenburg’s ordeal and the robbery of the search and rescue workers made national news, as it’s extremely rare for rescuers to be assaulted. But last year, a volunteer rescuer searching for a missing hiker was shot and wounded in Northern California near the South Yuba River.
Brandenburg, who owns Didjeridoo Dreamtime Inn, a Mendocino bed-and-breakfast, and Mendocino Peace Pipes, which makes wooden pipes for smoking cannabis, considers himself an experienced hiker.
Last year, he spent more than two months hiking the Annapurna Trail in Nepal, which involved crossing the Thorong La mountain pass at more than 17,700 feet.
Brandenburg said he’d been wanting to hike the Pacific Crest Trail since he was 11 years old and heard about it from a motivational speaker — Eric Ryback, the first to complete the 2,650-mile trek in 1970 — who came to his school.
Brandenburg set off on the Pacific Crest Trail on April 30 near the Mexican border, hiking northward for almost 600 miles over six to seven weeks, when he decided to take a break near Mojave.
Not only would a hiatus help him wait out the melting snow pack and raging rivers and streams that have made hiking the Sierra Nevada portion more hazardous this year, but “I’ve found I really miss my wife too much to think about being away another four months,” he said in a Facebook post.
After a return to Mendocino to his wife, Mary, and a three-week break from the trail, he headed back on a bus last week to pick up where he’d left off.
On July 6, he hiked 19 miles on a 100-degree day and had no trouble. The next day, he hiked the same distance with about the same elevation gain, but the mercury jumped to 110.
“The second night I was a little dehydrated,” he said.
His plan was to get up early to make it 9 miles to the next water stop. But at 4:30 a.m., it was already 90 degrees and he was down to less than a cup of water.
He only made it a few miles.
“I sheltered in place,” he said, but the torrid, escalating heat was too much.
After activating his emergency device to summon authorities, two hikers happened by with extra water.
“They had me drink one liter. It made me pretty much better,” he said. Then another hiker joined them.
“We were trying to stay out of the sun. We really had very little shade,” he said. “It was high sun, little trees, not like our redwoods at home.”
It was in the afternoon, he said, that the sheriff’s official sent a text “that his men had been robbed at gunpoint on the trail and that we should all sit tight” until more help arrived.
Brandenburg said the helicopter took turns ferrying him and the hikers who were with him out. He finally touched down to safety at around 8:30 p.m.
Over the next couple of days he made his way by bus and hitchhiking to Kennedy Meadows, at 6,500 feet elevation and about 50 miles north of where he left off on the Pacific Crest Trail. The wayfaring spot was featured in the movie “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon, based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir about hiking the trail solo.
In a phone interview from the general store where hikers stop to get supplies and have packages mailed to them, Brandenburg said he was ready for the next phase of the journey.
“I’m all good now. I will be heading into the High Sierra tomorrow,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
Brandenburg expects to reach Oregon by early September before hanging it up for the year and coming back in 2018.
“It’s hours sometimes of misery, but then there’s times of bliss,” he said of the appeal of backpacking, adding that when it’s right, “you feel perfect, and you are in the most beautiful places in the world.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 13, 2017
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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The class of people now derided as “deplorable” weren’t always seen as such. They had the progressive wing of the Democrats speaking up for them and a robust union movement defending their interests. There used to exist a rough societal consensus as to a fair distribution of income and wealth. Non-White Americans, for all the depredations and indignities inflicted on them, were making progress.
And then, over the years and by degrees, this consensus was torn down. American Oligarchs, with justifications gladly provided by the Intellectual Class and with the administrative exertions of bi-coastal clerisies, threw great swathes of American workers overboard.
Both the progressive wing of the Intellectual Class and its conservative counter-part justified this gigantic betrayal by characterizing the Deplorables as obese racists and tattooed morons. These people never deserved the incomes they got in the middle decades of the 20th century, their living habits and educational and attitudinal deficiencies indicative of their general unworthiness. By this thinking, an economic re-set was long overdue.
To the extent that there’s a bit of guilt over this, the Intellectual Class also put out the notion that the backward classes merely “feel” left behind. Or that maybe they WERE “left behind” maybe because of a skills mismatch or maybe because of automation. But this left-behinded-ness was portrayed as an unintended consequence despite all the best intentions otherwise, i.e., too bad, so sad.
But NEVER do you hear that there was deliberate calculation over the years to achieve the very result of the demolition of worker incomes and wealth for the sake of elite well being.
ON CAITLIN JOHNSTONE & DAVID COBB’S ATTEMPT TO DESTROY THE GREEN PARTY
by Joshua Frank
Earlier this week we ran a piece by Yoav Litvin, in which he questioned why some Green Party members, including ex-presidential candidate David Cobb, who also served as Jill Stein’s campaign manager last year, would align himself with Caitlin Johnstone, a writer who openly calls for the left to team up with the racist far-right in order to fight the so-called “deep state.”
In this battle against the “deep state,” Johnstone has pleaded with the left to work with alt-right mastermind Mike Cernovich.
Trump-loving Cernovich, by any fair assessment, is a complete lunatic. But apparently Johnstone doesn’t think he’s too crazed or dangerous, writing:
“We lefties need to attack the establishment at every turn and circulate awareness of what’s really happening in the world, and when this means collaborating with the right wing, we should do it … Cernovich and I probably disagree on more things than we agree on ideologically, but where we do agree it’s absolutely stupid for us not to work together, because you can be damn sure the establishment Republicans and Democrats are working together to advance the agendas of the deep state … Cernovich and I can fight all day and all night over socialized medicine and whether white men really have it that hard. Until then that fight is a pointless waste of energy which distracts from the real clear and present danger posed by the deep state right now.”
Since when is her version of the overly-simplified “deep state” (which is apparently equivalent to the Illuminati in Johnstone’s mind) more important than tangible issues like capitalism, class dynamics, imperialism or the environment? Johnstone is emblematic of the left’s utter lack of political acumen. There’s no theory. No genuine ethos. No real organizing. Just a bunch of self-serving hot air. It’s the Johnstone-type of thinking that continues to ensure the left remains irrelevant.
Back to the disgusting Mike Cernovich, who hates gender equality and believes that white men are oppressed by big bad feminism. He’s tweeted that, “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love black women, slut shame them.” Fuck him. He doesn’t give a shit about women, class issues, climate change or the ugly side of capitalism. Cernovich even told Andrew Marantz of the The New Yorker, “I believe in strong borders, including keeping out Islamic terrorists. If people think that’s inherently racist, fine—but I’m an American nationalist, not a white nationalist.”
That’s a fine line there Cernovich, one David Cobb, by embracing Johnstone’s twisted, hollow politics, doesn’t seem to understand. In my book, calling on one group of people to be denied entry into the US based on religion (and no doubt the color of their skin and country of origin), is flat-out racist. I for one want no part of any organization or political ideology that supports racism either overtly or covertly. Apparently Johnstone, and Cobb by proxy, don’t think this is a big deal.
Don’t let them fool you: it’s a very Big. Fucking. Deal.
Ask yourself, is Cernovich the kind of racist white dude you’d like to be in the trenches with fighting the mysterious “deep state,” however that’s supposed to happen? I sure as hell wouldn’t. The guy is a creep, yet Johnstone believes it is “absolutely stupid for us not to work together.” If this is what passes for the left these days, I want no part of it. Luckily, I think there’s plenty that agree with me. Let’s hope others speak up.
We should never ally with women-hating, race-baiting assholes. This isn’t like calling for an alignment with civil-liberty loving libertarians on certain issues, which has plenty of problems — it’s closer to prodding the left to team up with disciples of The Turner Diaries. How is that even defensible?
Johnstone, who is Australian, admits she doesn’t understand the cultural/racial divide in the United States. That sure is an understatement. So why is Cobb, and many others, so ga-ga over Johnstone? Could it be that she echoes Kremlin talking points and bogus conspiracies every chance she gets, exciting leftists looking for easy answers to today’s complex problems? Ding Ding. Of course, there’s much, much more. Despite the overwhelming evidence that DNC staffer Seth Rich wasn’t murdered for releasing emails, Johnstone has stood her conspiratorial ground. She’s also written for 9/11 Truth sites, so one can assume she is at the very least sympathetic to their fruitless cause.
That’s about all I can take of this self-proclaimed “rouge journalist”. She’s not worth the energy.
The questions Yoav Litvin raised in his piece are important, but I think it’s even more vital to ask why certain Greens continue to align themselves with David Cobb who promotes Johnstone’s silly bullshit. Jill Stein has been in the game a long time, you’d think she’d smell a rat when she saw one. Apparently not.
Below are two pieces I wrote over twelve years ago, explaining why I left the Green Party and how David Cobb did his best to usher the Greens into irrelevancy. Seems to me that he’s up to his dirty ol’ tricks yet again.
I hope this time Greens finally tell Cobb he’s gone too far. They should have done it a long fucking time ago.
OCTOBER 9, 2004
I officially changed my voter registration and left the Green Party this past week. Or, more aptly put, the Green Party left me. Actually, they abandoned many of us last summer when they decided not to run a candidate for president.
Oh, I know what you are thinking: “They are running a candidate. His name’s David Cobb. Give the guy some respect!” My rejoinder: If David Cobb is a presidential candidate, then why have an oppositional party that is supposed to challenge the Democrats and Republicans at all? What good is it? For me, it is not that the legitimacy of Cobb’s nomination is suspect — although it is; Rather, what I find bothersome is the way that Cobb has chosen to run his insipid campaign and the cultish drones within the Green Party who refuse to acknowledge that Cobb’s bid is actually hurting the Party — and the Left — while aiding George W. Bush’s re-election in the process. Ignorance must be bliss.
As of August 31, the Cobb campaign had raised just a little over $100,000 — by far the least of any presidential aspirant. The Greens boast of having 600,000 members, but if each only gave Cobb’s campaign $1, he’d have six-times as much money as he does now. This is a clear indication that Cobb does not have even the majority of his own party’s backing, let alone substantial outside assistance. Nevertheless, Cobb still contends that he has reached “millions and millions of people.” Yet, the only polls that even include Cobb in their totals say he’s polling at around 0.05% nationwide. Last time I checked, such a number didn’t surpass the threshold for bragging rights.
Cobb insists that he is unconcerned with his vote count, though. In fact, he says the vote count is “one of the least important indicators of support” for his campaign. As the presidential hopeful explains, “In our first presidential campaign in 1996, Ralph Nader received less than 1% of the vote, and I think it’s safe to say that we did not become politically irrelevant afterwards.” But Cobb fails to mention that Nader’s 1996 (which Nader doesn’t even consider a presidential run because he didn’t campaign) bid marked the Greens’ first real stab at a Presidential election. They had nowhere to go but up.
The pack of Green Party members supporting Nader this year are also of no concern to Mr. Cobb, even though many are swiftly deserting the party to rejoin Nader’s camp. Popular East Coast Green Party member Howie Hawkins is running Nader’s upstate New York campaign, and Pacific Green Party stalwart Lloyd Marbet is supporting Nader in Oregon, not to mention California’s Green Party member Peter Camejo signing on to be Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate. None of this seems to phase Cobb, who surmises the traitors will come running back to the Greens when Nader is finished in November. Could Cobb be any more narcissistic?
Besides, Cobb contends, Nader is just a “cult of personality.” As Cobb relayed when I interviewed him, “When this election is over, I, thankfully, won’t be considered the Green Party’s ‘leader’ or figurehead. So if people simply ‘follow’ either Ralph Nader or David Cobb then they’re not following principles or being part of a movement.”
Cobb, no doubt, reveals just how bewildered he truly is. If the Left throws their weight into the bourgeois electoral ring, they better be prepared to come out swinging. That means somebody better be ready to represent the movement. After all, it isn’t the movement that stands behind a microphone. It is not the movement that debates other movements. No, it is one person representing that movement. Clearly, Cobb ain’t that guy. It also looks like the Green Party ain’t that party. At least not this election season.
Nevertheless it is not the Greens’ goal this year to challenge the political status quo. As Cobb admits, “I don’t have any goals for votes except for states in which we need a certain percentage to retain ballot access. In terms of tangible objectives, I want to register more Green voters, support local candidates, and retain ballot lines.” So Cobb just wants to register some Greens and maintain ballot lines. Forget challenging the two corporate war parties head on. Save that for four years from now when we are still in Iraq, and thousands more soldiers — not to mention countless Iraqis — are dead. We’ve got some school board positions to fill here. I guess Cobb has his priorities. I just don’t happen to agree with them. Cobb is basically admitting he doesn’t think the Green Party can run in local or national elections. I guess he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Besides, when has any social movement been successful when it lacked any type of leadership?
In a debate with Peter Camejo on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! , Cobb even went as far to say that the US can’t just “cut and run” in Iraq. Cobb informed me that he now regrets taking the same position on Iraq as both John Kerry and George W. Bush. “I knew saying those words in particular was a mistake the moment they left my mouth, and I have clarified my position ever since.” Glad he’s come clean. But while Cobb offered four long responses to other questions on Goodman’s show, he never did retract his gaffe.
The bottom line? Cobb has failed to step into the ring, let alone lace up his gloves. First, he ran for the nomination of the Green Party on what he called a “safe-state” approach, where he would not focus his energy on those states that could put pressure on Kerry. “And the way that I think we can accomplish both my primary goal and as well as the secondary is to target the very finite resources of candidate time and money into those states which I call the ‘safe’ states, or the states that are not in play,” he told the Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel.
What Cobb and most Greens do not realize is that they are inadvertently helping re-elect George W. Bush while giving Kerry a free ride. So who is surprised that Cobb doesn’t have much support, financial or otherwise? I mean, I always root for the underdog, but the Greens aren’t even in the damn game.
Ralph Nader, on the other hand, realizes that many on the Left have lost their spine, and Bush may win as a result. “It is a total loss of nerve,” Nader told Goodman in a recent interview.
“I mean, first of all, they didn’t ask anything of Kerry. They said to the voters in the close states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon … vote for Kerry, quote, ‘even though we strongly disagree with Kerry on the war and other issues,’ end quote. Well, when you don’t demand anything of Kerry, he gets worse. If you don’t make Kerry better, he gets worse. Because the corporations are demanding 24 hours a day. They’re not squeamish like the Left is. More important is that if the Left believes that their issues are compelling issues to the majority of the American people, they should be proud to pull Kerry toward them so he can get more votes. It’s as if they’re ashamed of their issues, like, ‘gee, living wage, that’s a very important issue, but it’s not a big vote-getter. Like full health insurance for all, that’s very important. We want to pull Kerry in that direction. It’s not like getting out of Iraq, where now a majority of people are saying it was a mistake to send the troops in, and 42% of the people want the troops back yesterday. Oh no, no, no. Don’t pull him into this issue; it’s not a vote-getter.’ This is the collapse of the Left … They have in effect put a figurative ring in their nose. They have said to the Democrats, ‘because the Republicans are so bad, we collapse. We’re going for the least-worse.’ When you don’t make any demands, when you engage in unconditional surrender, why should Kerry ever look back at you? Why should he give you the time of day?”
Nader was not talking about the Green Party in particular, but he might as well have been. The Green Party and the Left have collapsed, and whether Cobb admits it or not, he’s now at the helm of the sinking vessel. How could I remain a member of a party that is committing political suicide? I tried, but quickly found that there was no way I could stay afloat, let alone justify my party’s demise. That is why I jumped ship and swam safely to shore. Only to find that I was not alone.
FEBRUARY 25, 2005
The ashes of the 2004 election battle have finally settled, and sadly the Green Party is buried in the rubble still gasping for air. Even so, if you have heard any of the sordid mutterings from staunch Green loyalists, they are spinning quite a different tale.
Take prominent Green apologist Ted Glick, who has failed miserably at seeing the error of the Green Party’s choice to run David Cobb in 2004. “[Our vote total] was less than expected,” he recently spewed in an online missive, “but the fact is that the cumulative vote for all 14 ‘third party’ Presidential candidates on the ballot . . . was a little less than 1.2 million.” Apparently, to Mr. Glick, such a diagnosis somehow emancipates the GP’s own tepid performance—for no third party did exceptionally well.
Not sure if the Greens’ vote total was less than expected, however, David Cobb told CounterPunch during the “height” of his quest for the presidency that he had “no goals for votes.”
The Greens could and should have been vociferously opposing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they opted for a “smart-growth” (read: safe-state) strategy instead, where they’d stay well below the electoral radar. They should have been on the frontlines of the campaign scene, denouncing John Kerry and George Bush’s neoliberalism and their handling of the downward economic spiral, civil liberties infringements, and environmental catastrophes. Instead, the Green Party caved and, regardless of what Ted Glick and others claim, paid a steep price, getting pounded at the polls as a result.
David Cobb and his running mate Pat LaMarche earned a little over 118,000 votes on November 2, 2004. Even though only half a million people voted for Ralph Nader in 2004—a drastic decline compared to four years earlier when 2.8 million people voted Green—Nader still managed to garner five times as many votes as the GP on Election Day 2004, despite being vilified by professional leftists, Greens, progressives, and bemused Democrats.
Many still cite the drastic reduction in votes for Nader in 2004 as evidence of failure but it is wrong to compare his two runs in these terms. In the second case, Nader had no party to back him, and in the wake of the 9/11 “Anybody But Bush” hysteria, many who were with Nader in spirit decided to cast their votes for John Kerry in hopes of unseating Bush. Political expediency didn’t work, however.
An example of the ruin: In Minnesota, the Green Party has enjoyed major party status since 2000, but is now heading back to the political fringe. Cobb’s poor vote total disqualified the Greens from $400,000 in public subsidies and automatic ballot access in the state. Looks like they will have to start over from scratch in the state, as well as Connecticut, Montana, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Rhode Island, where the Green Party lost the presidential ballot access they had acquired during the 2000 election.
The Green Party didn’t fare very well in local races either, where Cobb and others claimed they would stay strong. Failing to show up, the Greens were outgunned all across the board by Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Independents and, yes, even Socialists in some cases. Regardless, many Greens still claim that they “grew” in 2004. Green Party members Starlene Rankin and Mike Feinstein of California wrote in Green Pages following their November butchering that:
“14 states ran the most Green candidates ever, and overall at least 431 Greens ran for office in 41 states … The Greens won 68 victories out of 431 races in 2004, including 12 City Council seats and 18 victories overall in California. There are now a record 221 Greens holding elected office across the US.”
Growing in numbers doesn’t mean growing in strength. Currently, the Green Party claims to have exactly 313,186 members in 22 states across the US. If this is indeed accurate, that means almost 200,000 of those members did not even cast a vote (let alone donate cash) for their party’s presidential ticket in 2004. How can Ted Glick and others claim that this was a “success?” Not to mention their “smart-growth” strategy did not even elect the man they hoped would win: pro-war Democrat John Kerry.
Despite this “growth,” sources at the Green Party headquarters reveal they are in dire straits financially. It isn’t likely that the Green Party’s DC office will have to close in the immediate future. Nevertheless if money doesn’t start rolling in soon, sources admit, it may well happen down the road.
What is interesting is that Green Party “think tanks” have recently received big bucks from significant Democratic contributors Richard and Marilyn Mazess of Wisconsin. According to the FEC the Mazess clique have given well over $50,000 to the Democratic Party since 2003. They contributed some money to the Green Party following the election in 2004 and they also tossed Ralph Nader several thousand dollars this past election—perhaps to cover their own Democratic tracks.
Nonetheless, two spanking new Green Party non-profits are now robust and thriving. The Green Institute, which is headed by ex-GP Operations Director Dean Myerson, and the Liberty Tree Foundation for Democratic Revolution, which is headed by ex-GP chair Ben Manski (both Cobb backers) have collected a combined $500,000 from the Mazess duo.
This raises questions as to which direction the GP will proceed in the future. How much influence will these “think tanks” have, especially if the GP itself continues to struggle financially? Will it be replaced by these non-profit careerists? Will fruitless “smart-growth” campaigns continue to be the failing GP strategy?
To no surprise, David Cobb is now on the Board of Directors at the Green Institute “think tank.” Akin to Theodore Glick, Mr. Cobb still claims his losing campaign strategy was a winner. Narcissism runs rampant indeed.
This is not to say that there aren’t spurts of dissension starting to pulsate within the party’s grassroots. A quest to take back the GP is already underway. Many Greens are coming together under the banner of the “Green Alliance” to shift internal power away from Cobb and others, and back into the hands of the membership. Green Party veteran Peter Camejo, who was Ralph Nader’s running mate this past election, is also contemplating the best way to mend the fractures currently leaking what little strength the GP has left.
Let’s hope that Camejo, the Green Alliance and other like-minded Greens can join forces and topple the current party “leadership.” If they aren’t successful, 2004 won’t be the worst election the Greens will ever endure.
(Joshua Frank is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
A CLARION CALL FOR OUR COUNTRY’S PILLARS TO DEMAND JUSTICE
by Ralph Nader
It is time for an urgent clarion call.
Given the retrograde pits inhabited by our ruling politicians and the avaricious over-reach of myopic big-business bosses, the self-described pillars of our society must step up to reverse the decline of our country. Here is my advice to each pillar:
1) Step up, lawyers and judges of America. You have no less to lose than our Constitutional observances and equal justice under law. A few years ago, brave Pakistani lawyers marched in the streets in open protest against dictatorial strictures. As you witness affronts to justice such as entrenched secrecy, legal procedures used to obstruct judicial justice, repeal of health and safety protections and the curtailment of civil liberties and access to legal aid, you must become vigorous first responders and exclaim: Stop! A just society must be defended by the courts and the officers of the court – the attorneys.
2) Step up, religious leaders, who see yourselves as custodians of spiritual and compassionate values. Recall your heroic forebears who led non-violent civil disobedience during the repression of civil rights in the Nineteen Sixties – as with the leadership of the late greats Martin Luther King Jr. and William Sloane Coffin. Champion the Golden Rule for those who don’t believe that ‘he who has the gold, rules.’
3) Step up, business people – large and small. Some of you are enlightened and motivated enough to stand tall against the cruel, monetized minds that are harming low-paid workers, cheating consumers, denying insurance to patients, avoiding or evading taxes, swindling investors and undermining communities across the country.
You have good examples from history, including those business leaders who recently quit the US Chamber of Commerce over the necessity to confront climate change or the 150 business leaders who issued strong support for the successful Legal Services Corporation for low-income Americans that Trump’s budget would eliminate entirely.
4) Step up, academic professors and teachers,and protect your students from politicians intent on undermining the public school system and turning its budgets into cash cows for commercial vendors. You can help the cause by demanding that practical civic skills and experience become part of the curriculum. You can demand that Trump’s increasingly bloated war budget not be funded at the expense of our children’s education and deteriorating physical facilities. You can point out waste and administrative bureaucracy to strengthen this already compelling University professors can establish active brain trusts to educate the public and rebut the avalanche of fake news and political insults.
5) Step up, doctors and nurses, in whose trust is placed the lives of millions of people. Polls show over half of you want full Medicare for all with free choice of physician and hospital. This should come as no surprise since it is much more efficient, eliminating much of the bookkeeping and lengthy billings that drain your time away from practicing healthcare. Above all,Medicare for all saves lives and prevents trauma and disease when people can afford early diagnoses and treatment.
Already prominent economists, business magnates like Warren Buffett and over 60 percent of Americans want single payer. Your strong voices together can sober up those politicians in Congress hell-bent on coarse pullbacks that will make the present situation even worse and more perilous. Imagine our elected, well-insured, representatives pushing a huge tax cut for the rich, at the expense of hospitals and clinics and big time reductions in Medicaid.
6) Step up, public relations professionals, who can take an active role in facilitating a public conversation on the need for important social services and reforms that improve their implementation.
7) Step up, veterans, including high-ranking military, national security and diplomatic retirees, who can advocate for waging peace instead of reckless wars of aggression and other armed force violations of US and international law. Some people incorrectly think that veterans monolithically support all military interventions. But no one knows the horror of war better than those soldiers who have fought them (A large majority of soldiers in Iraq wanted us to get out of that disastrous quagmire in a January 2005 poll).
Over 300 retired generals, admirals and national security officials openly opposed Bush/Cheney’s criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Veterans For Peace makes eloquent arguments for waging peace. Now is the time to learn from their experience, stand for smart diplomacy and avoid succumbing to provocations and the boomeranging impacts of Empire.
8) Step up, members of the media, both corporate and public. Give voice to the vast civil society and citizen groups that are vital to our democracy. They have long been practicing and strengthening democratic practices. Allow their voice of reason, sanity and evidence-based proposals to reach millions of Americans.
9) Step up, scientists and technologists. You must strongly organize against the corrosive effect of medieval myths about the natural world and habitat-destroying toxins pouring from unaccountable industry.Champion the necessity of science for the people, not for militarism and a global arms race.
Urge the restoration of the acclaimed, non-partisan Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in Congress that Newt Gingrich and his Republicans terminated in 1995, plunging Congress into ignorant darkness and costly, wrongful budgeting.
10) Step up, students. Show the country your earnest idealism, supported by knowledge and your hope for a brighter future.Fight for tuition-free education, reform of student debt gouging and for an ecologically-benign economy that will work for you and the planet. Really get out the vote for next year!
11) Step up, leaders of the vast number of charity and service clubs. Without a sense of justice, there will be less charitable resources for ever-increasing needs.
Many of you have the moral authority to speak truth to the power of the one percent, and resist attempts to diminish support to those vulnerable members of our society who most need it.
In times of crisis, routines must be replaced with urgent awakenings, bringing out the better angels and wisdom from these underachieving pillars of the American community. A few leaders can take the first steps and many more will follow your example. Stand tall in support of justice in these trying times.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
CALIFORNIA'S LOVE AFFAIR WITH BIG OIL: FROM MARINE 'PROTECTION' TO CAP-AND-TRADE BILL
by Dan Bacher
My long series of articles investigating the power of Big Oil in California, including my coverage of legislation brokered by Governor Jerry Brown to extend California’s cap-and-trade program past 2020, began at the Annual Legislative Fisheries Forum at the State Capitol in March of 2009.
As I listened to testimony from the public about the controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create “marine protected areas” in California, my ears perked up when John Lewallen, an author, longtime North Coast environmental leader and seaweed harvester, complained that an oil industry lobbyist, was strategically placed on the panel overseeing the creation of marine protected areas.
I was stunned. After he spoke, I asked Lewallen, a Mendocino County resident, “What’s the lobbyist's name?” He told me, “Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association. Look it up on the DFG website.”
I looked up her name — and saw that she was on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the North Central Coast, as well as for the South Coast. I was appalled by the fact that an oil industry representative with such an enormous conflict of interest was on a task force to “protect” the ocean, along with a coastal real estate developer, marina corporation executive and others with big conflicts of interests.
As it turned out, several months later Reheis-Boyd became the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and around the same time became the Chair of the MLPA Initiative South Coast panel after the previous chair left.
While state officials and corporate environmental NGO leaders touted the process as “open, transparent and inclusive” and saw no problem with having an oil industry lobbyist at the helm of marine protection in California, Tribal leaders, fishermen, grassroots environmentalists, and public trust advocates criticized state officials for allowing an oil industry official and others with conflicts of interests to oversee a process tasked with creating “marine protected areas.”
The worst fears of MLPA Initiative critics were realized in December 2012 when the Brown administration completed a series of “marine protected areas” on the California Coast that fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling, fracking, oil spills, pollution, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.
Then in August 2013, an Associated Press and FOIA investigation revealed that the oil industry had conducted over 203 fracking operations in waters off the California coast during a 20 year period, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd had served on the MLPA task forces fro the South Coast, Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.
Since that time, I have written many articles documenting the power of Big Oil and WSPA on this website and elsewhere. I've found that the state's appointment of oil and energy officials, as well as Big Ag interests, to serve on the state's regulatory panels and agencies has increased dramatically in recent years under the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations.
Western States Petroleum Association supports cap-and-trade
Now eight years late in the latest episode of Big Oil regulatory capture in California, Reheis-Boyd's organization, WSPA, backs Brown’s cap and trade legislation. WSPA and the oil industry collaborated with the Brown administration to craft language that has apparently been incorporated into Assembly Bill 398, brokered by Brown to extend California’s cap-and-trade program to 2020. www.dailykos.com/...
On June 28, In These Times revealed that leaked documents show that the Brown administration was promoting a cap-and-trade measure, not then yet a bill, laden with talking points that appear to be ripped near verbatim from a policy paper by the state’s influential oil and gas lobby.” (inthesetimes.com/...)
On July 10, Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced a legislative package that the Governor’s Office said “will launch a landmark program to measure and combat air pollution at the neighborhood level – in communities most impacted – and extend and improve the state’s world-leading cap-and-trade program to ensure California continues to meet its ambitious climate change goals.”
“The Legislature is taking action to curb climate change and protect vulnerable communities from industrial poisons,” said Governor Brown.
The bill is opposed by many environmental justice, consumer and conservation groups, although supported by some “Big Green” NGOs, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the California League of Conservation Voters and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.
Consumer and environmental justice groups oppose AB 398
Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch disagree with Brown’s contention that the legislation would “curb climate change and protect vulnerable communities from industrial poisons.” They oppose Assembly Bill 398, calling it “ a massive giveaway of billions of dollars to the oil and gas industry that fails to rein in one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in California.”
Both organizations are calling on state legislators to defeat the cap and trade bill, a measure that might go through the Legislature as soon as tomorrow.
"Jerry Brown calls climate change an existential threat, but this bill is a sell out to the oil and gas industry that does nothing to avert that threat,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker of Consumer Watchdog. “Brown and lawmakers who support this bill will be helping the oil and gas industry continue to pollute rather than slash their emissions."
Tucker said AB 398 creates “several exemptions” for the oil and gas industry and fossil fuel power plants from air pollution regulation by giving the Air Resources Board (ARB) total authority over their emissions. “It then straightjackets ARB’s oversight by requiring it to regulate only via cap-and-trade, prohibiting it from crafting meaningful greenhouse gas reduction goals," she stated.
“Governor Brown is once again favoring the oil and gas industry, giving it a pass to pollute for another decade,” said Adam Scow, California director at Food & Water Watch. “Legislators who care about public health and California’s future must reject this bill and instead demand polluters make real emissions reductions at the source.”
Tucker and Scow said that if the bill is approved, the oil and gas sector will see “immediate benefit in the form of reduced regulation.” Brown’s legislation pre-empts local air quality districts that regulate the biggest refineries in the state, preventing them from setting stricter emissions limits that polluters would have to meet.
“In addition, the legislation makes the cap-and-trade program, which relies on the issuance and sale of emissions ‘allowances,’ even more favorable to the oil and gas industry. The program would keep carbon emissions cheap by continuing to give hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of free pollution credits to the oil and gas industry," they said.
“The legislation also exempts the electric power industry from state taxes. The lost state taxes will be made up for with cap-and-trade revenue that would go into the general fund. That cap-and-trade revenue then will not be available to fund pollution monitoring or reduction programs,” Tucker and Scow concluded.
The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) also strongly opposes AB 398.
“California has some of the dirtiest air in the nation and environmental justice communities need stronger provisions to address our climate and air quality crisis,” the group said in an action alert. “However, AB 398 includes a horrible give away to Big Oil that ties the hands of our local and state regulatory authorities, preventing the Air Resources Board from enacting critical regulations that cut greenhouse gases directly at the source. It undermines – instead of enables – our state's ability to meet our 2030 targets under SB 32 and in essence overturns AB 197.”
Walker Foley, the Southern California Organizer for Food & Water Watch, urges you to call your CA Senator today and tell them to oppose AB 398.
Background: California oil lobby tops spending in 2015-16 session with $36.1 million
In spite of California's reputation as a "green leader, Big Oil is the largest corporate lobby in the state and exerts enormous influence over the Governor's Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies.
As usual, the California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million as of December 31, 2016.
The spending amounts to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day — over the last two years. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. “That’s enough money to buy 103,000 goats,” reported Stop Fooling California, stopfoolingca.org.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders this session
Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016, sixth among all lobbyists in the current session.
In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials while billionaire Tom Steyer's Next Generation Climate Action spent an unprecedented $7.3 million, almost 3 times the oil industry group’s expenses.
The spending by Steyer’s group helped propel the passage of Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in spite of strong opposition by the oil industry.
Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent $133 million in lobbying in California.
To read the complete report, go to: http://www.lung.org/local-content/california/documents/Oil-Industry-Lobbying-2016-update-4_1-31-17.pdf