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MCT: Tuesday, December 24, 2019

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JUST IN: DALE KEE is a life-long resident of the Anderson Valley who, two days before Christmas, makes his home underneath a bridge on Lambert Lane, maybe a hundred feet from the comfortable accommodations of the Boonville Hotel. A wizard with small engines, Dale has lost the Boonville cabin he'd sheltered in for many years. And, this afternoon (Monday, 23 December), following an apparent complaint from a nearby resident, Sheriff's Department Sgt, Luis Espinoza, also a native of the Anderson Valley, informed Dale he also had to vacate his creekside campsite. Temperatures are expected to be freezing overnight. Any help readers might offer, can be routed through the ava at 707 895-3016.

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COOL AND DRY conditions are expected through this afternoon, with interior valley clouds and fog lingering through the morning. Light rain and mountain snow will spread across Northwest California this evening and persist through Wednesday morning, with some light snow accumulating above 2,500 feet. Most dry and mild conditions are expected from Thursday through most of Saturday. (NWS)

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PATRICK KALFSBEEK has died. Known locally as the bee guy, Patrick, 57, lost his legs at age 16, not that his handicap seemed either to slow him down or dim his unfailingly merry spirits. We met him when he appeared one day to ask if he could place a small number of bee hives to the rear of our acre. He said we had “a great spot for bees. They’ll love it here.” And they did, apparently, judging from the quality of the honey Patrick gave us the very next year. Sam Prather down the road also took a few hives as did other locals who, I’m sure, were as beguiled by this evanescent farmer from Arbuckle as we were. We saw Patrick only three weeks ago when he stopped in with gifts of honey, persimmons, tangerines, and almonds and, as always, refused to take so much as a dime in return. He looked thin and drawn, and it occurred to me that Patrick may have been saying goodbye, but this was a man utterly without self-pity, and he was as jolly and as bright as ever, and when Patrick’s sister called Monday morning to say he was gone ….. well, the news hurt. “I’ll have the hives back pretty soon,” he’d said as he drove off that last day, smiling like he always did.

Patrick Kalfsbeek

Patrick Ray Kalfsbeek (57) of Arbuckle, CA passed away on December 20th, 2019. He was born April 5th, 1962 in Woodland, California to Marian and Raymond Kalfsbeek.

Patrick is survived by his mother Marian Kalfsbeek; his sisters Terry Lamoree (Butch Lamoree), Suzanne Kanner (Tom Burns), Polly Okamoto (George Okamoto), Jennifer Kalfsbeek (Dave Holland); and his nieces and nephews Ryan Kalfsbeek, Benjamin Kanner, Oliver Kanner, Jason Kanner, and Sierra Reading.

He is preceded in death by his father, Ray Kalfsbeek and brother, Tim Kalfsbeek.

Patrick was ferociously independent and driven to accomplish anything he set his mind to. He was a jeweler, organic farmer, and beekeeper; a passionate entrepreneur, who concentrated on craft, source, community, and stewardship.

Anyone who has met Patrick will always remember his sky blue eyes and charming smile. He loved his family greatly, and truly admired his mother.

A man who could quote Dostoevsky and cook you the best leg of lamb you’ve ever had,

Patrick lived every day by loving the people around him and never taking experiences for granted. By doing so, he was an inspiration to all.

Patrick Kalfsbeek was the founder of OutWest Apiary, which will continue to thrive in his legacy.

A Celebration of Life for Patrick Kalfsbeek will be held at the Arbuckle Golf Club on Sunday, December 29th at 11:30am.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your favorite charity in Patrick's honor.

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Robert ‘Bob’ Cummings was laid to rest with full Military Honors in Arlington National Cemetery located in Arlington, Virginia on December 4, 2019. Bob was a retired US Navy Pilot who served in three wars (WWII, Korean War & Vietnam) during his 23 years of service to our Country. He was the proud pilot of a variety of different airplanes and helicopters that took him on many missions and adventures. Bob was born on March 3, 1924 in Mendocino, California and passed away on October 7, 2018 in Ukiah. Bob lived a very full life and as an active member of the community, he invested nearly 20 years as part owner in The Green Barn, one of the most popular restaurants in Ukiah in its time. Bob is survived by his wife of many years, Doreen Cummings, their eight children, and many grand children and great-grandchildren.

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FRIENDS of the late Christine Lopiccolo have installed this memorial to their friend at the Navarro tree where she died last year, one of whom remarked, “Funny thing is, when I stood there, I felt something like she was here with me.”

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ANDERSON VALLEY'S newest restaurant opens in the Farrer Building, central Boonville. Uneda Eat in Boonville began with a soft opening Friday and Saturday December 20-21 and 27-28. We will be open for our regular winter hours (Wed-Sat 3-8ish) after the new year on Thursday January 2nd. We are interested in supporting local purveyors (quail, produce, etc.)! You can reach us at or 895-2222.

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ON MONDAY the Supes predictably punted on the Measure V question of enforcement of the voter-approved measure declaring standing dead trees to be a public nuisance — in spite of County Counsel’s clear declaration that MRC was most definitely NOT exempt from the measure which passed back in 2016 and is just now being considered for possible enforcement.

BUT NOT BEFORE coast enviro Beth Bosk broke her own record for most ejections from County meetings, obtaining her 111th heave-ho when Board Chair Carre Brown angrily told Bosk she was outta here following Bosk’s second shouting interruption of the Board’s discussion.

IN THE END, the Supervisors voted 4-1 to turn the enforcement question over to an ad hoc committee of John Haschak and Ted Williams — after Williams amended his ad-hoc committee motion to include a requirement that the County’s Code Enforcement staff look into a pending complaint about MRC’s tree-poisoning practice and report back in around 30 days (depending on the Board’s 2020 meeting schedule).

FOR THEIR PART, MRC rep John Anderson said they stood by their three-year old position that they are exempt from Measure V’s injunction against acres of poisoned, inflammable trees left in the upright position, implying that MRC would go to court should Mendo try to enforce the Measure. Anderson added that MRC is already doing “the best we can” —whatever that means — to avoid poisoning as a junk tree removal strategy where possible.

WHAT THE BOARD SHOULD HAVE DONE was to demand that MRC “voluntarily” offer a plan to mitigate the nuisance and then the County could evaluate it and perhaps negotiate further improvements before deciding to go to court.

THAT OPTION remains, theoretically. But MRC clearly won this round because they successfully avoided having to do anything at all by simply postponing enforcement indefinitely using a version of the timber industry’s tried and true old method of “talk and cut” which could now be called “talk and squirt.”

ALONG THE WAY to the 4-1 vote, Supervisor Dan Gjerde took an entirely uncalled for shot at Supervisors Williams and Haschak, accusing them of “grandstanding,” adding, “Why are the two new supervisors determined to be in the minority? They are just looking for an opportunity to be outvoted. Supervisor Williams refused to support this before, and now he’s looking for an opportunity to be in minority again.”

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS replied, “I would prefer to be in majority. We have only asked that Code Enforcement follow up on the pending complaint. We need it to work on this. The ad hoc is still necessary.”

GJERDE backed off: “Good. That [the inclusion of the ad hoc committee] was not part of first motion.”

HAVING DELIVERED his insult — perhaps in reaction to Williams having taken the lead on several important actions recently, including a few in Gjerde’s district — Gjerde voted for Williams’s motion as it passed 4-1 with Supervisor McCowen being the only Supervisor willing to go on record as having no problem with MRC’s tree-poisoning practices. (Mark Scaramella)

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Mendocino County Undersheriff Matthew Kendall, Monday, Dec, 23, 2019 will step in to Sheriff Tom Allman's position after he retires. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

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THE OAKLEY ATTACK is described kind of by this press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office: “On December 20, 2019 at approximately 6:30 p.m., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies received a call for service regarding a physical altercation in progress at a residence in the 5000 block of Albion Little River Road in Little River.

After Deputies arrived on scene the involved parties were separated and an investigation was initiated. During that investigation, Deputies learned the altercation resulted from a civil dispute over property.

A 32 year-old adult male arrived at the location in order to return property to the resident, Anthony Oakley.

Deputies reviewed video footage of the incident and observed a verbal confrontation quickly ensued between Anthony and the adult male after he arrived at the location.

The confrontation escalated when Anthony’s father, John Oakley, and the adult male became entangled in a physical struggle that led to the adult male being taken to the ground.

While John pinned the adult male to the ground, the adult male was struck repeatedly in the head by Anthony with several strikes being delivered by both hand and foot.

The adult male was transported from the scene to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital by ambulance due to injuries sustained from the assault.

In addition to several minor injuries to the adult male's face, Deputies determined he sustained a severe laceration to the right side of his head that would require suturing.

Deputies arrested Anthony and John Oakley as principals to the listed charges as the battery resulted in serious bodily injury and the adult male was kicked in the head several times.

Both Anthony and John Oakley were booked into the Mendocino County Jail where they each were to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.

A READER sends the following pictures and this comment about the Oakley arrests: "These pictures were taken last night. Father and son jumped this man. Father was on top, holding the victim's head up with his hair, while the son, hit and kicked him in the face. These two men are dangerous!"

JASMINE WILSON ADDS: “Last night Chris and I were over at Anthony’s picking up my belongings he’s held from me for a year after a court order was established and John jumped out of the bushes across the street and attacked Chris and held Chris on the ground while Anthony repeatedly kicked and punched him in the face. Chris did not swing once and was not the aggressor. John and Anthony both had knives on them, and Chris had nothing. I tried to tell Anthony to stop and he turned around and threatened to hurt me if I didn’t back off. All the while, Ashlynn was inside the house watching from the window. If you see these two around town and they give you some made up story trying to make them sound like they were doing what was deserved, it is not true. This is fucked up and people should know the truth about these two. They are facing two felonies one being assault with a deadly weapon. They got out on bail, so please watch out for these men. They are not safe to be around.”

ANOTHER READER sent along this note: “Mr. Oakley is an x-EMT for the Albion-Little River Fire Department. Also on that department list was recently convicted murderer Andrew Crowningshield. And the Chief of that Department was Ted Williams."

John, Anthony Oakley

COUPLA COMMENTS would seem to be in order: Supervisor Williams, in his capacity as volunteer firefighter can't be responsible for the off-duty behavior of his fellow volunteers. Oakley senior must have been a valuable volunteer given that he was or is second in command of the Albion department. Young Crowningshield shot and killed his ex-wife in a domestic tragedy having nothing to do with his work elsewhere. All of this said, I was surprised to see the Oakleys bail set at a mere $30,000. You hit someone in the head with a blunt object hard enough to injure him as bad as this guy was injured, you're either trying to kill him or you don't care if you do. I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.

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Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

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"Then again, you don’t need to believe in God to know there’s a devil."

—Matt Tyrnauer.

A nice movie about a nice man.

If there were a mad scientist capable of forging an android that embodied everything that I detest in this world, that android would be Roy Cohn.

He helped spawn the McCarthy hearings, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump.

He was a Jew who hated Jews:

He once said about the Rosenbergs, "I would have pulled the switch myself."

He was a homosexual who hated and persecuted homosexuals.

He denied to his grave that he was dying of AIDS.

He was more vicious than Eliot Abrams, a bigger liar than the Clintons, and more evil than Henry Kissinger.

As an atheist, I usually avoid the word "evil," but in reference to Roy Cohn, it's difficult to find an alternative.

Why watch a movie about such an appalling human being? Because it's fascinating to see the connections between Roy Cohn and some of the disasters that plague us today: Trump, Russiagate, rampant corruption, smug liars, and a right wing media all can be attributed to Mr. Cohn. One should know where all these demons come from. And, as unpleasant as it may be, one needs to know that human beings as vile as Cohn exist.

Available from Netflix.

—Louis Bedrock

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‘WE BETTER DO OUR JOB’: Sonoma Supes set to take action on Rodota trail homeless camp

Faced with an unrelenting homelessness crisis on the eve of Christmas, Sonoma County supervisors on Monday will decide whether to shovel nearly $12 million into potential solutions for the growing west Santa Rosa homeless encampment that has confounded city and county leaders for months.

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Dearest Editoria,

I am once again endeared by your endurance and unrestrictive publishing of everyone’s comments (except those that have had some barriers imposed, which were alluded to a while back — actually quite a surprise to me) and especially the ones from “Professor Cosmos” (whose hyperlinked name on self-generated postings goes to a page stating “This site can’t be reached (“cosmic-pluralism-studies-academy”) and Louis Bedrock.

What kind of bitter blather is this? Nah, I don’t expect an answer to that rhetorical question, only I thought better of him when he provided those translations of poignant prose in my early days of reading the AVA (only a few years past, alas).

As the end approaches (inevitable in all our lives), I am ever more gratified for the opportunity to opine in the comments section, finding the assembly of unrestricted polemic prose to be a real aid to the tongue sharpening necessary for careful criticism of government practices I have the pleasure of delivering on our local community radio station, where the exercise of journalistic authority and editorial control is based largely on the precise use of responsible language meeting the standards of the lily-livered “Democrats” who virtually “own” the “community radio” station.

With all my love and admiration,

Betsy Cawn

Upper Lake

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The town square with a few cafes and an outdoor space in the summer used to be the place you could bump into neighbors or friends and it was a natural way to do it. I was in Mexico for about a week 10 years ago and liked how they had the small town arranged. Your home was completely private with no front yard but the town square had no cars, big verandas with multiple tables (and no pressure to order and get out as fast as possible) and a large green space in the middle with benches and the kids could run around. I hope America’s future looks like this as suburbia withers. There’s a book The Third Space that defines this well —

“The demise of community as a social construct is re-examined in this book using the lens of Ray Oldenburg’s concept of third place to view contemporary issues of alienation, loss, safety, mobility and sense of place. Third places are the spaces where we interact with people and society outside of home and work, and are vital in creating a sense of place and community.”

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Born Richard Alpert, he returned from a trip to India as a bushy-bearded, barefoot, white-robed guru and wrote more than a dozen inspirational books.

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DICK CLARK COUNTS DOWN the Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show Top Ten for Christmas Week 12-22-58

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Saturday, January 4

Manchester Community Center

The Crab Feed will be a bit different this year. It will be a sit-down dinner and limited to 200 people. Hors D'Oeuvres from 5 pm to 6 pm. Dinner begins at 6 pm. As usual, there will be both silent and live auctions. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by contacting Susan or Gary LP at (707) 882-1750 or emailing

Get your tickets now for the January 4, 2020, all-you-can-eat Crab feed. The crab season is open now in Sonoma County and will open in Mendocino at the New Year. This guarantees the freshest and best crab. Call 882-3425 and leave a message for tickets. We'll return your calls.

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In case you have not yet heard, I am running for County Supervisor. Today the announcement became official, with the press release having been sent out this morning. My website is active now too: And I plan to connect with people here on Facebook too.

I'm humbled and energized by the steady stream of kinds words, endorsements, and contributions over the last week—ready to get to work!

Our community needs purposeful development and economic revitalization that reflects the realities of a rapidly changing world. As Supervisor, I will bring my knowledge and experience to the table to advocate for growth while protecting our agricultural lands and open space, spur economic development while supporting local businesses, and ensure a sustainable environment that contributes to a thriving Mendocino County.

Leadership for the Whole Ukiah Valley

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Presiding Judge Ann Moorman announced judicial assignments for 2020. Primary judicial assignments are typically reviewed and modified every two years, however with the retirement of Judge John Behnke and appointment of Judge Victoria Shanahan, new judicial assignments are necessary for 2020.

Effective January 2, 2020, Departments A and H will manage vertical felony calendars from arraignment through trial. Judge Keith Faulder will remain in Department A and Judge Carly Dolan will preside in Department H. Judge Victoria Shanahan will preside over all misdemeanor proceedings and traffic infraction trials in Department B.

Judge Cindee Mayfield will move to Department C to preside over family law matters. She will continue as the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Department as well. Assistant Presiding Judge Jeanine Nadel will continue to sit in Department E presiding over all civil matters, probate, small claims, unlawful detainers, and conservatorships. Judge Nadel also presides over Adult Drug Court.

Judge Clayton Brennan will continue to preside over civil, criminal, and family law matters at our Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg. Commissioner Basner will continue to decide all matters falling within AB 1058.

In addition to her duties and responsibilities as Presiding Judge and advisory member to the state-wide Judicial Council, Judge Ann Moorman will manage juvenile delinquency and dependency matters in Department G. She will also preside over Behavioral Health Court and Family Dependency Drug Court.

Judge Moorman also announced that the Executive Committee of the court will be comprised of Judges Moorman, Nadel, Faulder, and Dolan.

The revised calendar plan will be available on the court’s website on December 31, 2019:

For more information contact:

Kim Turner

Court Executive Officer

100 N. State Street, Room 303

Ukiah, CA 95482

(707) 463-4664

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My husband and I went to see some Christmas lights. What an embarrassment downtown Santa Rosa was. Not only was there not much in the decorations department, but Fourth Street has many closed and empty storefronts, which made it uninviting and, truth be told, scary.

Upon leaving, we headed out on College Avenue and saw three tents being set up under the overpass, along with carts of garbage. It was only 6:30 p.m., and quite a bit of traffic was still out. Looks as though Joe Rodota Trail is expanding to downtown.

And, while I’m at it, something needs to be done with that concrete monstrosity that’s being called a town square. An empty parking lot has more personality.

Deborah Colyer

Santa Rosa

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 23, 2019

Barry, Beers, Green, Hodges

WILLIAM BARRY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

MICHAEL BEERS, Ukiah. Burglary, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)


JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Lilly, Magdaleno, Moore, Ousey

MATASHIA LILLY, Willits. Elder abuse.

GERARDO MAGDALENO, Boonville. Community supervision violation.

TRAVIS MOORE, Fort Bragg. Vandalism, community supervision violation, county parole violation, resisting.

KRISTO OUSEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

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by Norman Solomon

Seeking "a more positive future" for the wealthy…

For the United States, oligarchy is the elephant -- and donkey -- in the room. Only one candidate for president is willing to name it.

Out of nearly 25,000 words spoken during the Democratic debate last Thursday night, the word “oligarchy” was heard once. “We are living in a nation increasingly becoming an oligarchy,” Bernie Sanders said, “where you have a handful of billionaires who spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections and politicians.”

Sanders gets so much flak from corporate media because his campaign is upsetting the dominant apple cart. He relentlessly exposes a basic contradiction: A society ruled by an oligarchy -- defined as “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes” -- can’t really be a democracy.

The super-wealthy individuals and huge corporations that own the biggest U.S. media outlets don’t want actual democracy. It would curb their profits and their power.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post editorialized that the agendas of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren “probably would fail at the polls and, if not, would carry extreme risks if they tried to implement them.” The editorial went on to praise “the relative moderates in the race” -- Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar -- for “offering a more positive future.”

But “a more positive future” for whom? Those “moderates” are certainly offering a more positive future for the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos, who usually ranks as the richest person in the world. He wants to acquire even more extreme personal wealth beyond his current $108 billion.

The Washington Post‘s routinely negative treatment of Sanders, which became notorious during his 2016 presidential run, remains symptomatic of what afflicts mass-media coverage of his current campaign -- from editorial pages and front pages to commercial TV news and “public” outlets like the “PBS NewsHour” and NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.”

The essence of a propaganda system is repetition. To be effective, it doesn’t require complete uniformity -- only dominant messaging, worldviews and assumptions.

Prevailing in news media’s political content is the central, tacit assumption that oligarchy isn’t a reality in the United States. So, there’s scant interest in the fact that the richest three people in the USA “now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the U.S. population combined.” As for the damaging impacts on democracy, they get less attention than Melania Trump’s wardrobe.

Now, as Sanders surges in Iowa and elsewhere, there’s a renewed pattern of mass-media outlets notably ignoring or denigrating his campaign’s progress. Like many other Sanders supporters, I find that disgusting yet not surprising.

In fortresses of high finance and vast opulence -- with no ceiling on the often-pathological quests for ever-greater wealth -- defenders of oligarchy see democratic potential as an ominous weapon in the hands of advancing hordes. Media outlets provide a wide (and shallow) moat.

For mass media owned by oligarchs and their corporate entities, affinity with the “moderate” orientations of Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar is clear. Any one of them would be welcomed by corporate elites as protection against what they see as a hazardous upsurge of progressive populism.

While Buttigieg has emerged as a sharp corporate tool for the maintenance of oligarchy, Joe Biden is an old hand at such tasks. Meanwhile, ready to preempt the politician-intermediaries for plutocracy, Michael Bloomberg is offering a blunt instrument for direct wealthy rule. Estimated to be the eighth-richest person in the United States, he was urged to run for president this year by Bezos.

During the next few months, Bloomberg will continue to use his massive class-war chest to fund an advertising onslaught of unprecedented size. In just weeks, he has spent upwards of $80 million on TV ads, dwarfing all such spending by his opponents combined. And, with little fanfare, he has already hired upwards of 200 paid staffers, who’ll be deployed in 21 states.

If Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Bloomberg win the Democratic presidential nomination, that would be a triumph for oligarchy in the midst of rising grassroots opposition.

Right now, two corporate Democrats are the leading contenders to maintain corrupted business-as-usual at the top of the party. As the executive director of Our Revolution, Joseph Geevarghese, aptly put it days ago, “Almost every problem facing our country -- from runaway greed on Wall Street, to high prescription drug prices, to locking kids in private detention facilities, to our failure to act against the climate crisis -- can be traced back to the influence of the kind of donors fueling Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden’s campaigns for president.”

While uttering standard platitudes along the lines of making the rich and corporations “pay their fair share,” you won’t hear Buttigieg or Biden use the word “oligarchy.” That’s because, to serve the oligarchy, they must pretend it doesn’t exist.

(Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched independent Bernie Delegates Network. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

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[1]This discussion reminds me of a story I hard when I was very young.

A tramp is trudging through an icy suburb one Christmas Eve. He’s attracted to a brightly lit window and wanders over to see what’s what.

He finds a happy family decorating their tree, laughing & eating, singing…the general picture of happiness.

He thinks to himself “All I ever wanted was a dry warm place to sleep and a decent meal occasionally. Perhaps I set my sights too high?”

[2] I believe we are witnessing the unraveling of the US Government. The collapse of it is on the horizon. Party politics have degraded to outright gang warfare. One party controls the House. The other controls the Senate. Each plays an important role in the Impeachment and potential Conviction process. The gang that controls the Senate accuses the gang that controls the House of rigging the hearings. Then the gang that controls the House will accuse the Senate controlling gang of rigging the trial. This will keep going throughout 2020 and it will infect the elections. I think that we’ll be seeing lawfare tactics employed to fight in the courts whatever the outcome will be. We’re headed to a constitutional crisis of epic proportions. I don’t pretend to know what happens then, but I just know it will not be pleasant.

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South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign left out more than 20 high-profile fundraisers from a list of bundlers it released last week.

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by James Kunstler

Last year, a local guy started renovating a restaurant on Main Street that has been shuttered for at least fifteen years. He’d retired from the army and started a company that made a fortune clearing landmines in faraway lands where US nation-building plans went awry. Wasn’t that a ripe business opportunity?! He’s from here and loves the village and married his high school sweetheart — and would like the place to come back to life.

He’s partnered up with another guy who intends to open a bistro with a bar, a fireplace, and supposedly a boutique distillery operation in the back. That would give some people in town a reason to leave the house at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, when the day’s work is done — people like me who work alone all day. It could also give the citizens of this community a comfortable place to talk to each other about their lives and the place where we all live, and what we might do about things here. That’s called local politics.

I’ll refrain from tossing off judgments about the exterior treatment for now. Draw your own conclusions. I haven’t seen the inside and there’s butcher paper taped up on the windows while they finish in there. It looks like they’ll open early in the new year. There hasn’t been a comfortable public gathering place on Main Street in a long time. There’s a “tasting room” at a local small brewery down the block, but it’s hardly bigger than a couple of broom-closets and the New York Liquor Authority has an asinine regulation that literally forbids comfortable seating in such a designated establishment. Stools only. And only a few of those. What kind of culture does that to itself?

Ours apparently. When you get down to it, the sickness at the heart of our nation these days is the result of countless bad choices, large and small, that we’ve made collectively over decades, including the ones made by our elected officialdom. The good news is that we could potentially move in the opposite direction and start making better choices. However deficient and unappetizing you think Mr. Trump is, and how crudely unorthodox his behavior, that equation is what got enough people to vote for him. The strenuous efforts to antagonize him, disable him, and get rid of him by any means necessary — including police-state tactics, bad faith inquisitions, and outright sedition — have prevented the nation as a whole from entertaining a realistic new consensus for making better choices. In fact, it has achieved just the opposite: a near civil war, edition 2.0.

All the people of America, including the flyovers, are responsible for the sad situation we’re in: this failure to reestablish a common culture of values most people can subscribe to and use it to rebuild our towns into places worth caring about. Main Street, as it has come to be, is the physical manifestation of that failure. The businesses that used to occupy the storefronts are gone, except for second-hand stores. Nobody in 1952 would have believed this could happen. And yet, there it is: the desolation is stark and heartbreaking. Even George Bailey’s “nightmare” scene in It’s a Wonderful Life depicts the supposedly evil Pottersville as a very lively place, only programmed for old-fashioned wickedness: gin mills and streetwalkers. Watch the movie and see for yourself. Pottersville is way more appealing than 99 percent of America’s small towns today, dead as they are.

The dynamics that led to this are not hard to understand. The concentration of retail commerce in a very few gigantic corporations was a swindle that the public fell for. Enthralled like little children by the dazzle and gigantism of the big boxes, and the free parking, we allowed ourselves to be played. The excuse was “bargain shopping,” which actually meant we have sent the factories to distant lands and eliminated your jobs, and all the meaning and purpose in your lives — and cheap stuff from Asia is your consolation prize. Enjoy…

The “bones” of the village are still standing but the programming for the organism of a community is all gone: gainful employment, social roles in the life of the place, confidence in the future. For a century starting in 1850, there were at least five factories in town. They made textiles and later on, paper products and, in the end, toilet paper, ironically enough. Yes, really. They also made a lot of the sod-busting steel plows that opened up the Midwest, and cotton shirts, and other stuff. The people worked hard for their money, but it was pretty good money by world standards for most of those years. It allowed them to eat well, sleep in a warm house, and raise children, which is a good start for any society. The village was rich with economic and social niches, and yes, it was hierarchical, but people tended to find the niche appropriate to their abilities and aspirations — and, believe it or not, it is better to have a place in society than to have no place at all, which is the sad situation for so many today. Homelessness in America runs way deeper than just the winos and drug addicts living on the big city sidewalks.

I’ve written a ton about the bad choice of suburbanizing the USA and all its subsidiary ill-effects, and yet it’s a subject so rich that you can hardly exhaust it. It has produced an entropic wasting disease on our country so complex in symptoms that all the certified PhD economists and sociologists of the Ivy League and the land-grant diploma mills can barely diagnose the illness, or calculate the pain it has caused. Not a small part of this is the utter and abject absence of artistry expressed in the places we’ve built since 1945.

Our Main Street flaunts that boldly. The 1960-vintage post office looks like a soviet lunch-counter — or, more specifically, the box that it came in. What were they thinking? The video store looks like a muffler shop. The graceful four-story hotel that stood at the absolute center of town, and burned down in 1957, was replaced by a one-story drive-in bank. The façade re-doos of the 1970s and 80s display a mindboggling array of bad choices in claddings, colors, proportioning, and embellishment.

It’s as if the entire world of aesthetics had died in the canebrakes of the Solomon Islands in 1944, and afterward nobody realized that something in America had gone missing. It’s particularly dismaying when you see the efforts that earlier generations made to instill some beauty in the things they built, with a few examples still standing for all to wonder at and dote on.

The damage done can be undone. It’s really a question of what it might take and that’s a big question because it will almost surely take a shock to the system. That shock could come as soon as the next two weeks — as not a few observers have predicted — in the form of a gross financial dislocation. The ongoing mysterious action in the “re-po” markets suggests that some kind of black hole has gaped open in the banking cosmos and is sucking literally hundreds of billions of dollars into an alternative universe. Guess we’ll have to stand by on that. The shale oil orgy is probably peaking, and the after-effects of that will be pretty harsh, but it might take a couple more years to play out. The weak leg of the stool these days seems to be our politics, the dangerous deformities of which I set forth in this blog regularly. (Some readers object to hearing about it, of course, for reasons I must regard as peevish and specious.) Most likely, the shocks will come in combinations from banking, from the rest of the actual economy, and from these deadly “gotcha” politics.

You can see the humble beginnings of change around here, or at least an end to some of the practices and behaviors I’ve described above. The K-Mart shut down last March. It left the town without a general merchandise store — besides the Dollar Store, which sells stuff that fell off a truck somewhere in China. But the chain stores will have to go down if we’re ever going to rebuild networks of local and regional commerce and bring Main Street back to life. And you must be aware that chain stores are going down by the thousands all around the country, the so-called retail apocalypse. These things have to die for a new economic ecosystem to emerge, and it looks like the process is underway. I hope the fast food joints are next. At least we’re getting a new independent bistro in town.

The landscape around here is composed of tender hills and little hollows that precede the Green Mountains of Vermont, ten miles down the pike. Apart from its stunning beauty, it’s not bad farmland, either, and the rugged topography lends itself to small scale farming which is a good thing because that’s the coming trend. I maintain that farming will eventually become the center of the next economy here as life in the USA is compelled to downsize and re-localize. We could make a few things again, too, because a river runs through town with many hydro sites — waterfalls where small factories once stood — and that river leads to the mighty Hudson four miles downstream. The Hudson can take you around the world or deep into the interior of North America via the Erie and Champlain canals that run off the Hudson.

For the moment though, the country faces that set of convulsions I call the long emergency, with politics at center stage just now. The locals, myself included, have strung up the colored lights and set out the effigies of Santa and his reindeer. I love Christmas, the trappings, the music, and the sense that we’re obliged to bring some enchantment into our lives when the days are shortest and darkest. I doubt we can Make America Great Again in the Trump sense, but we can reanimate our nation’s life, and re-enchant our daily doings in it, and learn to care about a few things again.

I’ll be putting together my usual vain and starry-eyed Forecast 2020 the following Monday, with a regular blog in between on Friday. Merry Christmas, readers! And thank you for being here!

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

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On January 10, 11 & 12, 2020 the 28th Professional Pianist Concert will hit the stage with three concerts featuring nine different pianists at the Mendocino College Center Theatre in Ukiah. Performers letting the keys fly this year are Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Wendy deWitt, Barney McClure, Frankie J, Tom Ganoung, Elizabeth MacDougall, Ed Reinhart and Charlie Seltzer. The musical styles range from classical to jazz, boogie-woogie to Cuban, Broadway to ragtime…..each performance will be different!

This utterly fun and stimulating series features the finest regional pianists on stage in a living room environment throughout the performance trading stories and melodies with two pianos on stage to accommodate impromptu collaborations. The event is an annual sellout because of the diversity, quality in a multitude of styles of music and humor that takes place throughout the evening. A special sculpture art show benefitting fire victims featuring Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegel will also be on display at the Mendocino College Art Gallery throughout the weekend…not to be missed!

Friday, January 10th at 7:00pm will feature Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Elizabeth MacDougall, Ed Reinhart, Barney McClure, Frankie J and Charlie Seltzer. Saturday, January 11th, 7:00pm performance features Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Wendy DeWitt, Tom Ganoung, Elizabeth MacDougall, Barney McClure and Ed Reinhart. Sunday afternoon’s 2:00pm performance will include Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Wendy deWitt, Charlie Seltzer, Tom Ganoung, Frankie J and Elizabeth MacDougall. No two concerts are the same, so if you love piano and piano music, enjoy more than one performance.

The concert benefits the Ukiah Community Concert Association, Mendocino College Recording Arts & Technology Program and the Allegro Scholarship Program. Tickets are on sale at Mendocino Book Co. in Ukiah, Mazahar in Willits and online Tickets are $20 general admission and $30 "I ‘Wanna’ See the Hands" limited seating. For more information call (707) 463-2738.

Sponsors are Sparetime Supply, Ken Fowler Auto, Savings Bank of Mendocino, Flow Kana, Yokayo Ranch, Mendocino College Recording Arts, Willits Furniture Center, Waterman Plants, K-WINE/MAX, KOZT-The Coast and KZYX/Z. Wine & refreshments will be provided by Ukiah Community Concert Association. The Center Theatre is at 1000 Hensley Creek Rd in Ukiah. There will be autographed CD's by the artists for sale in lobby.


  • Spencer Brewer- Contemporary Classical & Original Compositions
  • Elena Casanova- Cuban Classical & Jazz, Classical
  • Tom Ganoung- Originals, Rock, Classical
  • Frankie J- R & B, Soul, Gospel
  • Elizabeth MacDougall- Classical
  • Barney McClure- Outrageous Jazz
  • Ed Reinhart- Boogie-Woogie & Blues
  • Charlie Seltzer- Broadway & Show tunes
  • Wendy deWitt- Boogie Woogie & Blues

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  1. Craig Stehr December 24, 2019

    ~Swami Sivananda Instructs~

    The Jiva (Individual Soul) melted in the fire of Jnana, kindled by Sravana etc., is cleansed of all impurities and shines by himself like burnt gold. The Atman is the sun of knowledge that rises in the Akasa of the heart, destroys the darkness of ignorance, permeates and supports all, shines and makes everything shine. That actionless Paramahamsa who has given up the limitations of direction, place, time etc., who worships and attains the Atma which is all-pervading, eternal, bliss, spotless, and which destroys cold etc., becomes all-knowing, all-pervading, and immortal.

    • Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

      Who started the fire?

      • Craig Stehr December 24, 2019

        The Fire Department started the fire as a training exercise. ;-)

  2. chuck dunbar December 24, 2019

    The following lovely little piece seems to me a nearly perfect Christmas Eve message. It’s from a short essay, “Top Ten,” by Kerry Hudson, in the The Sun, January, 2020. The essay highlights ten graceful, meaningful events/thoughts/quotations chosen by the author that, I infer, have influenced his life. It includes this well-known quotation, the final sentence of “The Great Gatsby,” as #9: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

    But #10 is the one I wanted to leave folks with today:

    “The Make-A-Wish-Foundation always struggles for funds. Always. Abby’s big brother, Ethan has her same congenital, progressive (and fatal) disorder. When he was young, his wish was to have a horse. Even before he had the words, driving by a field with a horse made him wild with glee.There’s never enough money to get all the children their wishes; always the clock runs. To be on the list means they’re going to die. There’s never enough. Ethan’s wish had been registered for years; the family didn’t expect to get it anytime soon. Then they did. A horse farm up north was having a pony sent down. The owners asked only that whenever Ethan tired of it—or if…you know—that they be contacted so they could have the pony sent back. Children all over the area suddenly were getting their wishes.”

    “Here is why: A girl in Charlotte, North Carolina, had risen to the top of the list. Bone cancer. Her death was imminent. Her wish? Her wish, there in her final days, her wish for anything she could think of in the whole wide world? Her wish was that all the other children on the list would get their wishes. She died. Donations flooded in. Her name was Hope Stout. She lived to be twelve and one-half years old.”

  3. James Marmon December 24, 2019


    “Sonoma County supervisors on Monday approved a plan to address the county’s largest homeless encampment, agreeing to spend $11.63 million in an effort to chip away at the 200-plus-person trail camp that officials have for months labeled a public health emergency.

    The action represented the most significant response by the Board of Supervisors to address a camp that’s overtaken the county-owned Joe Rodota Trail in west Santa Rosa.

    The plan calls for at least two sanctioned encampments featuring indoor and outdoor shelter and services — at a cost of more than $2 million — and leveraging another $5.5 million to acquire existing housing”

  4. Lazarus December 24, 2019


    Hey Mom, “That’s John Candy”

    “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman…”

    As always,

    • Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

      With bucket and scoop in hand to pick up his droppings?

  5. Harvey Reading December 24, 2019


    Good riddance to Xmas decorations. They are annoying.

  6. Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

    BUTTIGIEG OMITS 20 HIGH-PROFILE BUNDLERS FROM CAMPAIGN (actually the snapshot below the text)

    Is that B at home, as a child?

    The democrats are no better than their supposed opposition, especially with the likes of B (including Biden) running. We are being brainwashed by a lousy circus that lacks even entertainment value.

    Gee, when is the next “debate”? The dems oughta be able to squeeze in several dozen of those putrid exhibitions before the first primary.

    • Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

      At this point, I’ll be writing in Alfred E. Neuman. An imaginary cartoon character is better than than the reality from which we are directed to choose.

    • James Marmon December 24, 2019

      “…people who hate capitalism tend to assume there is some kind of model without a serious tradeoff, which some significant portion of the populace would rather not have. They conflate imperfection with malice and assume that if we remove the malice, everything will be fine. They assume the reason bad things happen in a capitalist system is because capitalism is, inherently, a tool used by some (unspecified) evil people to punish the majority. This shows a profound lack of understanding of how complex dynamical systems work.”

      -Exquisite Corpse

      • Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

        “…which some significant portion of the populace would rather not have…”

        The brainwashed portion, plus an insignificant in numbers, but powerful portion, known as the ruling class. The latter are they who have most of the wealth and spend a little of it to promulgate psychological warfare against those of us who comprise the lower orders of humanity. In your case, for them, it was money well spent.

        Now, the rulers have CRISPR, which simplifies their work. We will seek relief from genetic and other disorders and leave with a whole new outlook, that of the willing slave.

        • James Marmon December 24, 2019

          Harv, besides ‘death to humanity’ what model of government do you recommend? BB Grace asked you that a couple of years ago and to this day you still have not answered her question or enlightened any of us on what direction we should be moving towards. You keep hoping we will all commit mass suicide but you’re short of any meaningful solutions or models.


          • James Marmon December 24, 2019

            “Mob Rule” is not acceptable. Thank God America is a Rupublic.


            • Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

              Now you’re making no sense at all, James, my boy. Democracy is not mob rule except to fascists and other conservative morons.

              By the way, who is this god person?

              And what is a rupublic? The e and u keys are fairly well separated so the spelling must have been intentional. Or are you copycatting my technique of intentional mispelling? I had thought you might be above that. Even so, I’d be ever-so-flattered if that’s what YOU were doing dear boy.

              Nitey, night.

          • Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

            Humanity will do itself in, and soon, hopefully before we infect the rest of the universe or even spread beyond this planet, gutted as it is by human stupidity and greed. I wish the species was smarter, but you’re born into what you’re born into, my fascist fellow species member.

            What BB asked–if indeed she did ask, and I do not recall the question–is immaterial. She appeared to me not exactly one with a great deal of sense.

            I have stated, on more than one occasion, James, since your memory seems faulty, that I prefer socialism. It would be a great improvement over fascist kaputalism. And, fascist is the correct descriptor if you recall the attempted coup against Roosevelt by fascist bidnessmen during the depression. They were very stupid though, since they asked Smedley Butler, retired Major General in the Marines, to be their military commander. He went to congress and spilled the beans. The fascism of kaputalists has only increased since then. Oh, and always remember, U.S. kaputalists just loved Hitler. Some so much that they continued doing bidness with him after the U.S. declared war on him.

            Save your fascist BS for the suckers, James. And, do try to improve your memory. It’s obviously faulty, and you’re no spring chicken, you know. By the way, does your fearless leader’s poop stink? I’m just curious and figure you would know since you’re behind him with your little bucket and scoop.

            • Harvey Reading December 24, 2019

              Prescott Bush, yes, of THOSE Bushes, was notable for his continuing to deal with Hitler long into the second war.

  7. John Sakowicz December 24, 2019

    Nice photo of Dick Clark today, with the “Christmas Song Countdown”.

    My mom went to high school with Dick Clark — A. B. Davis High School in Mount Vernon, New York.

    He was an average student.

  8. H.H.Heller December 24, 2019

    Emerging from Santa Rosa

    Macy’s execs could turn their inhospitable, and useless fortress into an empty canvas to be transformed into much more needed housing for the customers they no longer have.

    I pledge to shop at Macy’s online for one year for a quid pro quo

  9. George Dorner December 24, 2019

    Something must be in the air this holiday season. First, I find myself agreeing with, and even admiring, Louis Bedrock’s take on Wretched Roy Cohn. Then James Kunstler abandons his usual demented political rant for a touching word portrait of his home town. What next? Jerry Philbrick’s apologies for his past ravings?

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