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MCT: Thursday, August 27, 2020

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TEMPERATURES SLOWLY INCREASE through tomorrow then remain seasonably warm this weekend for interior valleys while marine cloudiness persists at the coast. (NWS)

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JUST IN: 3.5 quake in Willits (1:49am), strong enough to wake people up.

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THE CATEGORY 4 MONSTER made landfall at 1am Thursday with the strongest winds that Louisiana has seen since 1856 and warnings that the storm could rip apart buildings and penetrate up to 200 miles inland. The storm wreaked havoc in the town of Lake Charles early this morning after making landfall near Cameron, slamming into trees and buildings and collapsing a walkway at St Patrick Hospital as residents said their town was being 'destroyed'. Footage showed torrents of rain flying sideways past street lights in Lake Charles, and streets covered with water closer to the coast. More than 290,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas and Louisiana and the hurricane is now pushing inland while the Gulf Coast faces storm surges and 10 inches of rain coupled with a high tide. Laura is the most powerful hurricane to strike the US so far this year and its effects are expected to be felt in Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.

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Mendocino Public Health posted Wednesday @ 6:04 pm: "COVID-19 Daily Update – 8/26/2020

4 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mendocino County, bringing the total to 656. 

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AV HEALTH CENTER reports on Covid testing in Anderson Valley

Hi everyone, we got results from last Thursday’s (August 20, 2020) surveillance testing. We did 99 tests and 14 came back positive. The majority of people tested were agricultural workers and many came from out of county. Four of the positives reside in AV. We have contacted everyone and are working with the County on housing and isolation for people who need it. Meanwhile in the county, the death rate is catching up to the new cases that were identified in July and early August. Please stay safe, the mortality rate really is shockingly high for those who are most at risk.

(Health Center Facebook page)

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SUPERVISOR ALBERT RUDDOCK, PHILO (front, second from left), 1895

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Death Investigation After Two Vagrants Overdose Behind Ukiah’s Orchard Park

Phillip Idica

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To the Editor,

I appreciate your daily posting of the COVID chart. My question is, what is the status of people “released from isolation”?

If they are healed, or never had it in the first place, shouldn’t we subtract that number from the total to get a clearer picture of the problem?

Today, that would leave only 146 people actually involved with the virus.

Mike Kalantarian replies: 

The only official explanation we could find for that category:

Released from Isolation
Note: Recovered means the individual has been released from isolation

which isn’t terribly helpful, but seems closer to “healed” rather than “never had it in the first place.”

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 By Jim Shields, LCWD District Manager

I only have time for a very short report on our water shortage emergency because we literally just completed the repairs, installed new laterals in the filter vessel, loaded in 13.25 tons of new media, and then spent the last 48 hours breaking in the media with numerous backwashes. 

The Water Shortage Emergency Order will remain in effect for a short time longer until we can boost capacity in our storage tanks to safe firefighting levels. The important development is that we will be producing water with both filters operating as designed. 

The actual emergency lasted exactly one month, from July 25 to August 25. Our original estimation of installing the new laterals, loading the new media, and bringing the plant fully back on line within two to four weeks proved accurate. 

We had a good plan, that included issuing the Emergency Order, getting out reports and updates to the public keeping them informed on what was happening, monitoring compliance with the water conservation regs, completing our pre-repair work, and bringing in extra help to load the media this past Saturday — a great work crew of locals by the way. 

I want to remind everybody that under our current, permanent water conservation policy, no outdoor irrigation/can occur durring the hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Likewise, bulk water haulers are currently prohibited from taking water 7 days a week during the hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Speaking for the District, I want to thank our many customers and ratepayers who have been complying with the existing conservation order, we truly appreciate you. 

Many Hands Make Light Work

A solid crew was assembled last Saturday to help load several pallets of new filtration media (various special types of sand and rock) into the large filter tank pictured here… no small feat, as the entire tank had to be filled. The replacement of the filtration media was necessary to complete the repairs needed to bring the Laytonville County Water District treatment plant up to full steam again, after an equipment failure had forced the plant to operate at half capacity and implement district-wide water-use restrictions for the past few weeks. 

Top: Roland Spence; 

Middle (left to right): Steve Hencz, Dave Maurer, Jim Shields, Aaron Rodriguez, Carlos Diaz.

Bottom: Lucky, Mike Keating, Jose Bowden, and Jason Augustyniak.

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Supervisor Williams:

The bane of overflowing public trash in Mendocino has escalated in recent weeks. I initially assumed the excess volume might be the result of increased visitor takeout. The pickup rate was doubled and the days shifted, only to see the problem grow. Monitoring several cans, it has become apparent that much of the waste is household trash. In some cases, we have folks unloading multiple bags next to the cans, often at night.

The county is attempting to provide municipal services in an unincorporated area. It works if the system isn't abused. I'm at a loss. Albeit an exchange of problems, we might be better off with some of the cans removed for now. The situation is untenable.

We're hoping to try Sunday/Wednesday/Friday pickup. (Thankful for vendor's willingness to collaborate outside of contract.)

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The main road through the Anderson Valley to the mouth of the Navarro River, and up the coast to Fort Bragg, was originally called the Navarro Highway. It follows the approximate route of the present Route 128 and Route 1 through Mendocino County. Even earlier, the road followed the Navarro Ridge, to the north of the present alignment, instead of staying at the river level. By 1938, the last stretches of old winding roadway near the present location of Navarro were replaced by a straighter alignment, taken over from a disused logging railway line. (Ogle Collection, 2000-12-128b)

(A photo from our current exhibit "Wonacott the Photographer in Your Town." — Mendocino County Museum)

Dave Gowan Comments:

When the George Gowan family (Arthur/Cecil Gowan’s dad) drove their dairy cows down from Shelter Cove in 1901, they went all the way down to the mouth of the Navarro River. Guess what? No road inland there, back up to Navarro Ridge Road, then inland to Wendling, then Philo.

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JEFFREY AARON, Mendo Public Defender, has been in court twice, and is apparently going to court for a third time, with complaints about the DA's press releases on case outcomes. Aaron says the press releases mis-characterize courtroom events, almost all of them inevitably “won” by the prosecution because, and I hope the County's defendant community will forgive me, the defendant community is, before God and the rest of us, almost always straight-up guilty, and in many places in the world, China certainly, after offense number three he's simply jogged out behind the courtroom, bent over to receive a bullet to the back of the head, his kidneys marketed abroad.

OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM, as anybody knows who's been on the receiving end of it, isn't fair, reflecting, as it does, from the bottom tier of our class system from which the defendant community is drawn. Offhand, in my fifty years in the County, I can't remember a single person of means being found guilty of anything. Or even charged. But that's the case everywhere. The point? Tell your public defender to get your case into the media, and since the only media likely to be interested is the Boonville weekly, tell your public defender to talk to us about your matter. What do you have to lose? And with your lawyer talking to the media, you might even be helped by the attention drawn to your case. Hell, look at OJ. His lawyers were climbing over each other to get in front of the tv cameras.

THE PREVIOUS Mendo Public Defender, the late Ms. Mumbles-Twitch, refused to speak to us and, I understand, also swore her tongue-tied staffers to omerta on pain of, I dunno, no happy hour at Appleby's?

MR. AARON, Mendo's present Public Defender, has lost twice in court with his complaint about the DA's write-ups, and is probably headed for a third loss on basically the same complaint that has previously begged our question: Why doesn't the Public Defender write up his own versions? What's stopping him? We're all ears.

I'VE GOT a call in to Jan Cole-Wilson whose lawyerly abilities I've always admired. (Seriously. I'm not just buttering her up to get a call-back.) She's second in command to Mr. Aaron. I called her this afternoon (Wednesday), having never once in forty years ever getting a call back from the Public Defender's office — on the off chance she would talk to me about The People vs. Joseph Phillip Hart. I have the DA's presser notifying the public that Hart was found guilty of a "knife attack" which occurred under a Willits overpass back in early March. Hart got a jury trial that lasted 7 days, which means Cole-Wilson really went to bat for the guy. I want to know what her defense was. Simple question. I assume Hart pled self-defense, and I doubt the fight was with a vegetarian Gandhian. If she doesn't call back, I'll drive over the hill to have a look at the case file and let you know what I find.


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Your kid might not be clean elsewhere, but, by God, he’ll be clean and safe at Ukiah Unified!

According to a Ukiah Unified Press Relase on Tuesday:

“Classrooms are equipped with new wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers, and UUSD has 400 gallons of sanitizer on hand with more on the way. Hand sanitizer bottles will be available for all teachers and staff members, and every school site will also provide a personal hand sanitizer refilling station for staff. In addition to hand sanitizer dispensers, each elementary school classroom has a sink and soap dispenser.

“The district has spent $207,000 to provide new air purifiers for classrooms and other workspaces. It required two semi truckloads to deliver the 480 air purifying units. During the July 13 the school board noted that teaching and learning occur in many areas other than traditional classrooms and board members said that teachers will have purifiers in all of the areas where they instruct students.”

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On August 21, 2020 the Mendocino National Forest issued a Forest Closure Order No. 08-20-10 due to the August Complex burning 197,148+ acres to date. Our sympathies go out to all the properties owners, but at this time, the Mendocino National Forest is not safe to enter in the closure areas due to the complexity of the fire and the constant traffic from the fire crews, engines and other large pieces of equipment. Once it is deemed safe, the Mendocino National Forest will issue permission letters to property owners to enter the forest to retrieve their belongings or check on their properties. 

(US Forest Service Presser)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 26, 2020

Benitez, Brown, Dunay

GREGORIO BENITEZ-MEMBRENO, Santa Rosa/Hopland. DUI, no license.

BENJAMIN BROWN, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

JACKLYN DUNAY, Middletown/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. 

Eagleston, Gardner, Gonzalez

SARA EAGELSTON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ROBERT GARDNER II, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear.

MINDY GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance.

Miller, Morris, Perdue

SHANE MILLER JR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

DENA MORRIS, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

JERI PERDUE, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, disobeying court order.

Perry, Phillips, Secker

JARED PERRY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JODY PHILLIPS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.

NATHANIEL SECKER, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

Starnes, Whipple, Woodyatt

KEVIN STARNES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

DOUGLAS WHIPPLE III, Redwood Valley/Covelo. Pot possession for storage, paraphernalia, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)

MICHELL WOODYATT, Galt/Covelo. Controlled substance, taking vehicle without owner’s consent.

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BABYLON BERLIN/BABYLON AMERIKA: Netflix Series from Germany Resonates Here and Now

by Jonah Raskin

If you're still wondering if you’ll vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in November—that is, if Trump doesn’t sabotage the party before than—you might watch the Netflix series, Babylon Berlin, which is set in Weimar Germany in the late 1920s. Based on the novels of German author Volker Kutscher, it was originally broadcast on Sky Deutschland before moving to Netflix. 

After three seasons, I’m hooked, though I’ve read a ton of books and watched a lot of movies about the rise of fascism, a subject that has never lost its fascination for Communists, Fascists, liberals, pacifists and war mongers the world over. 

Babylon Berlin has echoes of Berthold Brecht, Kurt Weill, Lotte Leyna and their 1928 masterpiece, Die Dreigroschenoper, AKA The 3d Opera. But it breaks new ground by tracing in lavish cinematic detail the arduous descent of a large cast of characters, including cops and criminals, and cops who behave like criminals and criminals who act cops, into a surreal labyrinth of mass psychosis. Babylon Berlin wanders into the world of the occult, decadence and perversity. It’s sexy and it’s intensely political, too.

There are no big historical surprises in Babylon Berlin. Anyone who knows anything about the era in which the series takes place knows that the New York Stock Exchange will crash, capitalism will unravel in an unprecedented economic crisis, totalitarian regimes will rise from Europe to Asia, millions of people will be exterminated in death camps and the U.S. will bomb the shit out of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki all the name of democracy. 

Yes, Babylon Berlin oozes with cynicism, as only Germans who remember their own history can portray it on the screen. The series employs all the clichés that Hollywood has used for noir, horror films, love stories, and musical comedies but it juggles them, reinvents them and piles one on top of another until the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and manages to be both entertaining and educational. Babylon Berlin might be called musical melodrama, not musical comedy.

Wanna know how fascism came to Germany? Watch Babylon Berlin. Wanna look for analogies between then and now? Ditto.

Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Dorothy Hughes wrote marvelous noir mysteries but they never brought the darkness to the doorstep of the nation itself. Babylon Berlin builds on their artistry and goes beyond it.

In the large cast of complex characters there is hardly one consistently decent human being, though occasionally some of the characters, including a doggeded reporter and the daughter of a general, do decent things and try to prevent the rush to authoritarian rule and the end of civil rights and civil liberties. 

A young cop from Cologne who finds himself in the thick of corruption and murder, tries now and then to do the right thing, but when push comes to shove he often supports the regime, its lies and its flunkies. 

He also has a habit of arriving on a crime scene too late to prevent a murder or to apprehend the shooter or shooters. Okay, sometimes he does arrive nearly in the nick of time. The main characters have as many lives as the cat of clichedom who has nine of them. 

The partner of the cop from Cologne is a young woman who has survived in Berlin by becoming a sex worker, a trade she doesn't give up when she rises in the ranks of law enforcement. Hey, she needs the money for her ailing mother and prostitution is the ony way she can earn it fast. 

At one point the anti-hero from Cologne tells his son, who wants to become a Nazi, “I’m not on a side,” seemingly unaware that he has already been bought off and tainted. It’s not until series three that the name Hitler is mentioned, along with his book Mein Kampf.

Why have I watched all three seasons night after night? Part of the answer is the suspense. Another answer is that, though I know what will happen on the stage of history, I still want to see how the plot unfolds and which characters if any will be alive and their humanity not totally warped when the curtain finally comes down. 

There is some schmaltz, as the Germans would call it, plus oodles of the grotesque and the exotic. Many of the minor characters play major roles in the narrative. The acting is superb. The sets look authentic, the sound track is enthralling, and the costumes are great, though sometimes the film can seem like an ad for men’s suits and overcoats. Were social democrats and right-leaning politicians this well dressed? I doubt it.

The liberals in the film are largely ineffective, the Communists often irrelevant, and the old aristocrats and the veterans of the German military are the villains of the story who make the slide into fascism possible. By recreating the death of democracy and the rise of authoritarian rule in Germany in the 1920s, Babylon Berlin illuminates a fascinating historical period and offers clues as to what might happen in the U.S. if Trump is reelected and his pathologies are given free reign. 

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LEE REMICK in a promotional photo for Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

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On July 14, Mendocino County Supervisors McCowen, Gjerde and Brown, voted to authorize a cooperative service agreement with the federal USDA Wildlife Service agency to implement their lethal wildlife management program in our County. During that meeting, Wildlife Services made the unsubstantiated claim that the vast majority of their service calls result in technical advice on how property owners can take non-lethal actions to co-exist with wildlife.

Here are the facts: Wildlife Services generally divides their service work into technical and operational. Technical includes all phone consults, emails and providing brochures on options for addressing a conflict, and that is largely what they attribute to non-lethal. Operational is basically direct control, when a trapper actually goes out into the field to do a site visit, and that is generally for control/killing. As acknowledged by the Wildlife Services representative: when they trap a predator, the animal is killed 90 to 95% of the time. So this is how they likely make this claim that such a high percentage is non-lethal.

Below is the Wildlife Services operational data derived from WS trapper “incident reports” for Mendocino County from 1997 to 2017:

  • Mountain lion 181 killed, 2 freed
  • Black bear 261 killed, 8 freed
  • Coyote 4119 killed, 4 freed
  • Bobcat 112 killed, 22 freed
  • Gray fox 235 killed, 37 freed
  • Opossum 233 killed, 33 freed
  • Raccoon 868 killed, 47 freed
  • Spotted skunks 22 killed, 2 freed
  • Stripped skunks 1,287 killed, 9 freed
  • Squirrels (various) 65 killed, 0 freed

(From Table 3-7, pgs 139 — 140, DEIR)

As can clearly be seen from this data, lethal methods are used well over 90% of the time that a Wildlife Services trapper goes out in the field to deal with a human/wildlife conflict.

The Mendocino Non-lethal Wildlife Alliance (MNWA) is dedicated to non-lethal solutions to human/wild conflicts. Instead of sending a trapper out to kill the offending animal, a highly trained “exclusion technician” would go out on call, asses the problem and assist property owners in resolving the problem using deterrents and exclusion programs to protect property and livestock. Such non-lethal wildlife exclusion programs have proven more effective than senseless killing by Wildlife Services.

Killing of wildlife should be a last resort used only to protect human safety, euthanize rabid animals, or, when all other appropriate non-lethal methods of wildlife exclusion have been exhausted.

— MNWA steering committe, Rosebud Ireland, Carol Lillis, Don Lipmanson, Carol Misseldine, Jon Spitz

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by Dave Zirin

This is without precedent in the history of sports: The Milwaukee Bucks, arguably the best team in the NBA, have gone on strike, refusing to leave the locker room for game five of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic. Their decision stopped the sports world on a dime, and shortly after the news, the Milwaukee Brewers announced that the team would also skip tonight’s MLB game. The Brewers and Bucks are refusing to play in solidarity with the demand for justice for Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back seven times over the weekend by police in nearby Kenosha.

Immediately, the Bucks’ decision had a catalytic effect on the league. The remainder of the playoff games today, by decision of the players, have been canceled, including the game between LeBron James and the Lakers and the Portland Trailblazers. All NBA players are meeting this evening to discuss whether there will be a season. Call it a wildcat strike, call it an uprising, but whatever you call it, the actions of these athletes have repercussions far beyond sports. When LeBron James tweeted “FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT” in support of the Bucks players, he didn’t get love just from NBA fans. Future congressman Jamaal Bowman and Representative Ilhan Omar immediately endorsed his sentiment.

In addition to the police shooting of Blake, protests are calling attention to the white supremacist violence that has occurred in its aftermath. A 17-year-old Trump fanatic named Kyle Rittenhouse drove to Kenosha from Illinois last night and killed two protesters. Police let him roam the streets with an AR-15, only arresting him for first degree murder today.

Many NBA players feared that when they restarted the season in a Covid-free bubble in Orlando the games would distract attention from the nationwide protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd earlier this summer. For the players, after the shooting of Blake, it clearly became too much of a contradiction.

“At the end of the day, if we’re gonna sit here and talk about making change, then at some point we’re gonna have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility,” Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said Tuesday. “We’ve gotta take responsibility as well. Like, what are we willing to give up? Do we actually give a f—about what’s going on, or is it just cool to [have] ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the backdrop, or wear a T-shirt? Like, what does that really mean? Is it really doing anything?” The players were itching to do something, and now they have.

The strike stands in stark contrast to the hypocrisy and authoritarianism on display at the Republican National Convention. Trump’s party wants to push this idea that everything is fine in America, except for “anarchists” who are burning down “Democrat cities,” and a Black “invasion” of the suburbs. The pandemic is in the past and the police are heroes. These are obscene lies, but far too many of us feel helpless to say or do anything except shout into the wind, or try to burn it all down. The NBA players are showing that this is a wretchedly dysfunctional country, whose horrors make even the playing of sports too much for athletes to bear.

These are not the first athletes in history to point out the gap between how Black athletes are loved on the field and how they are treated off of it. The slogan of the 1968 Olympic Project for Human Rights was “Why should we run in Mexico City only to crawl home?” Bill Russell and the Celtics were a part of sitting out a game in Lexington, Ky., along with the St. Louis Hawks in the early 1960s in protest of the city’s treatment of black players.

There are other examples as well. But as the saying goes, in politics timing is everything. The timing of this strike by the Bucks and now the players of the NBA has the potential to turn politics inside out. They are posing the question that all great strikes pose—to political people who hate sports and sports fans who hate politics, and to white fans who love them on the court but are oblivious to Black lives when the final whistle is blown—“Which side are you on?”

It is a question that is now blaring from every corner of the media landscape. It’s a question all of us are going to need to answer.

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by Stephen Brehe & Jim Nelson

Will Donald Trump leave office if he loses the election? Many are wondering how he might bend the law to stay in the White House. The president frequently inveighs against “voter fraud” and says his opponents will steal the election with fraudulent mail-in ballots. Further, he refuses to say if he will accept election results.

Matters are so serious that a bipartisan think tank of 100+ current and former senior government and campaign leaders conducted matrix games on what could go haywire between the Nov. 3 election and the Jan. 20 inauguration. The Transitions Integrity Project concluded that there is “a high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape.”

Trump has at his fingertips secret emergency powers called Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADs). They are, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, “executive orders, proclamations, and messages to Congress that are prepared in anticipation of a range of emergency scenarios….” They only require Trump’s signature.

They were created during the Eisenhower era in case of a Soviet nuclear attack. Over time they have been expanded. PEADs are, as a government document describes them, intended “to implement extraordinary presidential authority in response to extraordinary situations.”

What powers do PEADs provide?

+ Detention of dangerous persons

+ Suspension of habeas corpus

+ Martial law

+ Search and seizure of persons and property

+ Declaration of war

+ Censorship

Go to the Brennan Center to learn more.

There’s plenty of reasons to think Trump might declare a national emergency and invoke these powers. There’s the on-going Covid pandemic. Most likely, however, a post-election political crisis would be the excuse. Civil unrest after a hotly contested election could be the trigger he seeks. He did not hesitate to deploy federal agents to suppress protests in Portland and threatened to do the same elsewhere. Things could get ugly.

While there are legal scholars who believe PEADs are unconstitutional, that remains to be seen. Therefore, it is important that “we the people,” as the Constitution states, speak out about these potential dangers. Unless we do, we could easily slide into the abyss that befell Germany in the 1930’s. The similarities are hauntingly similar.

Hitler came to power when President Hinderburg appointed him Chancellor of a coalition government on Jan. 30, 1933. The Weimar Republic, created after World War I, had provided for a parliamentary democracy, but its constitution had a fatal flaw. Article 48 stated that under certain circumstances the president could take emergency measures without the approval of the Reichstag, the German parliament. The convenient crisis took place Feb. 28, 1933, when the Reichstag burned down. No one knows who set the fire, but Hitler claimed it was the first step in a Communist revolution. Hitler convinced Hindenburg to invoke emergency powers and Germany fell from democracy into a totalitarian dictatorship in days.

What emergency powers were invoked under Article 48?

+ Arrest of enemies of the state

+ Suspension of habeas corpus

+ Censorship

+ No right of assembly Search, seizure, and confiscation of property

The rest, as we say, is history. Could something like that happen here? We like to think our democratic traditions would prevent us from collapsing like Germany. While history does not always repeat itself, it offers insights into the dangers that societies face. An unstable president with unlimited power are ingredients that have poisoned democracies before. As the philosopher George Santayana warned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

(The Very Rev. Stephen Brehe is the retired Dean of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Helena, Montana. Jim Nelson is a retired Justice of the Montana Supreme Court.)

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On Day Four it took almost two hours of filler and pre-recorded homilies about Father Joe before he was beamed up to the virtual Democratic cathedral and, in accepting the nomination, delivered his benediction and blessings for the lives and soul of the nation.

I know you have heard that Biden made “the speech of his life,” and maybe he did, as he hit the high notes of inclusiveness (“hope over fear…. It’s about winning the heart, and, yes, the soul of America…”) in promising, during his presidency, to end the racial divide, retool the economy, eradicate climate change, lower the cost of prescription drugs, defend Social Security, create five million new manufacturing jobs, reduce student debt, provide better health care, defeat the virus, stand tall against dictators, soak the rich, equalize pay for women, end discrimination, improve education, defend our troops, and stand tall against terrorism.

In the last fifty years, I have been hearing similar speeches from the presidential candidates of both parties, but for whatever reason, after four or eight years, most presidents leave office in disgrace, as will be the case with Trump.

A large part of the problem is that to get elected, candidates have to reinvent themselves as Olympian gods, part of a race that has slipped the bonds of earthly gravity, capable of feats worthy of King Arthur or St. Francis of Assisi.

In these four days of the Democratic national convention, the videographers of the Democratic party turned Biden into yet another celluloid saint, someone who gives his cell phone number to strangers, visits emergency rooms in the dead of night to comfort the afflicted, reaches out to stuttering school boys, and spends his days and nights working to cure hunger, cancer, and injustice.

Who wouldn’t want this Biden mounted on his charger, prepared to slay the Trump dragon, or benevolently running the country from being the curtains in Oz, despite Dorothy’s exchange with the Wizard (“I think you are a very bad man,” said Dorothy. “Oh, no, my dear; I’m really a very good man, but I’m a very bad Wizard…”)

The problem is that American federalism wasn’t designed as a prime-time monarchy to be operated from the top down; it was put together as a democracy that works best, in the hands of good men and women, from the bottom up.

Perhaps Biden is a good man? I have no way of knowing. But I can tell you this: American presidents, as they are currently schemed and packaged into office, make very bad Wizards. 

— Matthew Stevenson

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The persecution of the attorney Steven Donziger is a grim illustration of what happens when we confront the real centers of power, masked and unacknowledged by the divisive cant from the Trump White House or the sentimental drivel of the Democratic Party. Those, like Donziger, who name and fight the corporate control of our society on behalf of the vulnerable see the judiciary, the press and the institutions of government unite to crucify them.

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In Napa County, a wildfire alert meant for cellphones would not connect, because of a coding error.

In Sonoma County, similar alerts were sent to areas that required no evacuation, and linked to an evacuation map that was a year old.

And in Solano County, an emergency operations official missed a call to report for work because his phone was set to vibrate.

As fire crews battle a massive system of wildfires sparked by freak lightning storms, emergency officials are learning once again of the technological shortcomings of localized alert systems.

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by Paul Street

Not everything Trump says is complete horseshit. “The reason I’m here,” Trump opines, “is because of President Obama.” That’s true on different levels. Obama’s technically Black identity predictably helped spark an ugly white-supremacist reaction — a racist backlash that was ironic given Obama’s nasty habit of blaming Black folks for their disproportionate poverty and incarceration and Obama’s failure to undertake any specific federal programs to tackle the nation’s stark racial disparities. 

At the same time, Obama’s service to wealthy elites during his militantly neoliberal class-rule presidency helped feed mass cynicism about the effectiveness of voting and America’s supposed grand electoral “democracy.” It combined with the complimentary neoliberal awfulness of Hillary to help de-mobilize the Democratic Party’s majority progressive base so that Trump was able to squeak by with help from racist and partisan voter suppression and the ridiculous, democracy-flunking, right-leaning Electoral College. Trump didn’t win the 2016 election. The neoliberal Goldman Sachs and Pentagon Dems lost it. 

Thanks Obama.

full article:

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“No, it’s my night to be despairing. You get Thursdays.”

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As Hurricane Laura roared towards the southern US coast, the Republican national convention unleashed Hurricane Liar.

There were lies aplenty at the last convention in Cleveland four years ago but, in those innocent days, reporters were still reluctant to call a lie a lie. Donald Trump blew that up on his first day in office when he and his officials claimed his inauguration crowd was bigger than Barack Obama’s.

Now there is no getting away from the fact that Republicans are commandeering more than two hours a night of primetime television to lie and mislead so brazenly, frequently and shamelessly that there’s a chance the American public will simply be worn down into submission and untruth will be normalised.

As the New York Times columnist Frank Bruni noted, all conventions tell “extravagant fibs” but this one is “less a feat of pretty storytelling than an act of pure derangement”. Wednesday night was another opportunity to deny Trump’s record, deny the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and climate crisis, and deny reality itself.

Vice-President Mike Pence portrayed Trump as America’s saviour from Covid-19. “Before the first case of coronavirus spread within the United States, President Trump took the unprecedented step of suspending all travel from China,” he said, a false statement since there were several exceptions to the ban that still allowed tens of thousands to travel.

Putting on a patriotic show at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, scene of a battle that inspired The Star-Spangled Banner, Pence also avoided some brutal truths: no mention of Trump praising China’s early response, his constant downplaying of the threat, failing to deliver testing or protective equipment, waffling over face masks for months or ruminating about miracle cures. There was mention of the 180,000 death toll, the highest in the world by far.

Other lies came in the convention’s ongoing attempt to perform triage and rewrite not only history but Trump’s personality. Someone waking from a four-year coma this week would be gratified to learn the president is a Mount Rushmore-worthy paragon of dignity, humility and kindness and a grandmaster of geopolitical chess.

Kayleigh McEnany, who famously began her tenure as White House press secretary by pledging “I will never lie to you,” did just that from a different podium in the bleakly empty Andrew W Mellon Auditorium in Washington.

McEnany told a story of how she underwent a preventive mastectomy and how Trump called to see how she was doing. “I can tell you that this president stands by Americans with pre-existing conditions,” she claimed about the man who has worked tirelessly, in Congress and in court, to reverse the law that protects 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Perhaps McEnany’s closest rival as the most shameless defender of Trump’s mendacity is Kellyanne Conway, the outgoing White House counselor. She said: “For decades, he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men … For many of us, ‘women’s empowerment’ is not a slogan.”

Trump’s cabinet is dominated by men, he faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment (which he denies), he has frequently and publicly bullied female reporters and he mocked women’s appearance online. He has also packed the country’s courts with judges who threaten women’s reproductive rights and revoked protections against sexual assault and discrimination at work and school.

For good measure, Conway claimed that Trump had taken “unprecedented action” to combat the opioid epidemic. In fact he did not declare a national emergency, and fatal overdoses in 2019 increased more than 10% from 2016.

Sometimes it’s the little lies. Madison Cawthorn, the Republican nominee for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, who uses a wheelchair because of a car accident, commented: “James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.” No, Madison did not sign the Declaration of Independence.

Cawthorn later claimed he “ad-libbed” the line. “After speaking all of that truth... I was afraid the fact checkers were going to get bored. I wanted to give them something to do,” he tweeted.

And then there was Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence, who said: “I’ve watched President Trump charm the chancellor of Germany, while insisting that Germany pay its Nato obligations.” Charm? Over to Angela Merkel for whether she saw it that way.

Some of the deceit was wildly exaggerated scaremongering about what would happen if Democrat Joe Biden wins November’s election. Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee warned darkly: “If the Democrats had their way, they would keep you locked in your house until you become dependent on the government for everything.

“That sounds a lot like Communist China to me – maybe that’s why Joe Biden is so soft on them. Why Nancy Pelosi says that ‘China would prefer Joe Biden’.”

Sister Deirdre “Dede” Byrne, a retired army colonel, told viewers: “President Trump will stand up against Biden/Harris who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide.”

No, Biden and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris do not support infanticide. Even having to point that out somehow plays into the liars’ hands, like agreeing to a debate with a creationist or a flat-earther. Such is the current landscape of partisan cable news and wild west social media.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York recalled Trump’s impeachment, which has been largely forgotten at both conventions, and called it “illegal” – another Pinocchio.

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, got in on the act with a fake Abraham Lincoln quotation and a red scare: “This is not just a choice between Republican and Democrat or left and right. This is an election that will decide if we keep America America or if we head down an uncharted frightening path towards socialism.”

It was left to Pence to deliver perhaps the biggest lie of the night, so bold that it hid in plain sight in the Baltimore night. “America needs four more years of Donald Trump in the White House,” he said. Worth a factcheck, surely.

(courtesy The Guardian)

* * *



  1. James Marmon August 27, 2020


    California fires: State, feds agree to thin millions of acres of forests

    “Under the plan, California agencies and the U.S. Forest Service will use brush clearing, logging and prescribed fires to thin out 1 million acres a year by 2025 — an area larger than Yosemite National Park every 12 months, and roughly double the current rate of thinning, which already is double rates from a few years ago.”

    ‘log it, graze it, or watch it burn’

    James Marmon MSW

  2. chuck dunbar August 27, 2020


    An apropos review quote today from a newly released history of Hitler’s last, ruinous years:

    “Following Hitler’s lead, (Joseph) Goebbels treated the Germans like chumps to be duped. ‘There are so many lies that truth and swindle can scarcely be distinguished,’ he noted in his diary…’That is best for us at the moment.’ ”

    (From review of Volker Ulrich’s “Hitler: Downfall, 1939-1945”–in “The Lethal Final Years of a Liar, Tyrant and Braggart,” Jennifer Szalai, NYT, 8/27/20)

    • Douglas Coulter September 5, 2020

      To the tune
      Dem old cotten fields back home

      We was all a bunch of crying snowflakes sold on wars that just breed heartache
      While a new Riech was being formed
      Closed our eyes to starving neighbors said “they be fine if they just labour”
      While another page from the Bill of Rights is torn

      When dem politix get rotten civil rights is quick forgotten
      And a few FEMA camps are formed
      Board this train that’s bound for safety all your needs be met completely
      When that brand new FEMA camp becomes your home

      Wealth manufactures human suffering all they offer us is bufferin
      In a patent medicine made out of corn
      Once Haman owns the kings ear genocide machine kicks in gear
      Teach a brand new generation how to morn

      Soon as rich folks start agreeing hungry refugees commence fleeing
      Cramped up against our boarders quite forlorn
      As our new puppet dictator kills you now or kills you later
      Because every rose bush owns a batch of thorns

      The publics standing in the way of greater profits everyday
      So pledge allegiance to our god of scorn
      Prophets words often tend many people to offend
      And truth ends up treated worse than porn

      Our latest propaganda fear possesses all the peoples ear
      So come into where all the sheep are shorn
      Stack your clothing very neatly you can pick them up discreetly
      First delousing showers then assignment in the morn
      A song by Douglas Coulter AKA thegimprider

      Haman, Hitler, and Henry…Ford that is if you read history
      America built Hitler up to take out the Russians
      Why do we make this error again and again?
      Dictators are not weapons we can control.

  3. Lazarus August 27, 2020


    Election night 2020, no matter who wins…

    Be Swell,

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