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Mendocino County Today: December 12, 2020

Off & On | 20 New Cases | Randall Hoover | Liz Said | Phresh Stop | Church Fire | Pot Mire | Richardson Grove | Gift Book | Redwood Grove | Hoy Retires | Chandelier Tree | Water Protectors | Fraternal Monarch | Willits Streetwalkers | Seagull Inn | Zodiac Code | Yesterday's Catch | Supreme Rejection | Freedom Force | Cemetery Gravestones | Negative Creep | Bullshit Party | Financial Implosion | Trumpty Tales | Test Results | PA Agenda | Desert Pool | Streetscape Update | Job Creators | Oldest Things | Thought Police | YouTube Ban | Illogical Healthcare | Oath Keepers | Deadly Food | Bad Dream

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A PERIOD OF DRY WEATHER will occur this afternoon, followed by a round of moderate rainfall tonight. Showers will continue to spread east across the region during Sunday, and then dissipate Monday. Additional rainfall appears likely Tuesday through Thursday. (NWS)

YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL: Boonville 1.05", Yorkville 1.36"

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20 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Thursday, bringing the total to 1931.

A new chart from Mendocino Public Health: "Mendocino County COVID-19 Case Breakdown by Zip Code"

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RANDALL K. HOOVER

Randall Hoover

Randall K. Hoover passed away suddenly on the evening of December 6, 2020. He was born December 15, 1956 to Lorraine and Buhl Hoover in Ukiah California. He lived a majority of his life in Calpella. He graduated Ukiah High School in 1975, and spent a year at UC Davis learning about vineyards, however he then came home and begin working at local community businesses. He met Nancy Prior in August 1981, and they were married August 28, 1982. Together they raised three children Jacob, Megan, and Laura in the Calpella area. Randy worked at several places in the community and everywhere he went he made friends. In January 1996 Randy and Nancy bought the Forks Ranch Market from Allen and Rae Prior. He worked at "The Store" from then on. He ran it like a well oiled machine, mostly, from ordering, to stocking shelves, to working the cash register, but more often than not you would find him behind the meat counter. He was always there to offer a smile and a joke. His kind demeanor and listening ear were always welcome when your day had been rough and you just needed to talk. He was a pillar in the community, he would help provide donations in any way he could, including providing meats to the first responders barbecue, the Willits Toy Run, local schools and many more.

He was heavily involved in Pop Warner football as a coach and also coached many local sports his children were involved in. In the last year he fulfilled his dream of becoming a vineyard owner, by buying a 26 acre parcel in Redwood Valley that was at one time owned by his great grandparents, the Gherlones. When his wife asked him why he would do this he said "It's my retirement plan, I'm just going to be out on a tractor putting around the vineyard all day." He was a devoted son, husband and father who loved his family and would do anything for. He was a loyal and loving friend who brought joy and smiles to anyone he was around. He is survived by his wife Nancy Hoover, his son Jake and his wife Holley, his daughters Megan and her fiancé Will and Laura and her fiancé James. He's also survived by his father Buhl Hoover, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends that he all loved. He is preceded in death by his mother, Lorraine Hoover and sister Sandy Pronsolino as well as many uncles, aunts and dear cousins. In Lieu of flowers Randy would love for donations to be made to any local charity of your choosing. Eversole Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.

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OVER THE TOP SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS by the Sheriff’s communications assistant drew the attention of KZYX’s Program Director Alicia Bales Friday morning:

Bales: “There was a social media post this week. It appears that one of the contractors in the Sheriff's office who manages their social media communications, someone named Liz Barney, has posted a number of extreme right wing conspiracy theories on her own social media page. One of these posts calls mask wearing a symbol of Antifa and says mask wearing for coronavirus has no medical value. Several of the posts claim that Trump actually won the presidential election and claim that this is a war and we are going to battle because Trump’s victory was stolen. The worst post calls for the assassination of Palestinian American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib by the Israeli Mossad. People who want to see these posts can find them on Liz Barney's page on Parler, which is sort of a new social media site. Her site is called AskForLiz. Although the Mossad part has been removed, it came to light because the Board of Supervisors is revisiting this person's contract to work for the county on Tuesday. I'm just kind of flabbergasted by the real problem of credibility for the department to have someone managing their online communications who publicly advocates these wacko right-wing conspiracies. Especially about public health right now. This is one of the things that is coming up that I think is fairly significant to grapple with.”

MS. BALES is also circulating the following, including a comment by Judi Bari's youngest sister, Martha Bari:

“Good lord! What is up with far right extremists in our county government?? Someone who works for the county, apparently running social media for the Sheriff's Department, posted shockingly racist things on her Parler account, and seems to believe mask wearing is a plot by ANTIFA. This person is employed by the county to do their public messaging? Her contract is being revisited by the Board of Supervisors next week.”

MARTHA BARI POSTED: "Disgusting and alarming at the same time!!”


ms notes: We attempted to look at these posts but Liz Evangelatos-Barney’s Parler page in question is by invitation only, you have to ask her for permission to get in. Which, to me, kind of mitigates the situation.


ED NOTE: Uh, having met Ms. E and talked with her in her professional capacity many times, and aware that she's married to the Sheriff's Department's Shannon Barney, I'm surprised by her violent political opinions, but so long as they don't impinge on her work with the Sheriff's Department, she's entitled to them, although she might want to revise her public desire for Ms. Tlaib's assassination. I find it ironic that Ms. Bales, of all people, a censor in her bones working for a lockstep lib radio station, complete with its legacy blacklist, whose programming does not and never has represented anything like the free speech they advertise themselves as, is in such high dudgeon. 


PARLER CEO SAYS IT’S NOT AGAINST THE LAW TO EXPRESS CRAZY OPINIONS.

The CEO of conservative-boosted social media app Parler on Tuesday responded to criticism that the platform could spread extreme opinions and misinformation, saying that “people say crazy things all the time” and “it's not against the law to have those opinions.” 

thehill.com/policy/technology/526473-parler-ceo-not-against-the-law-to-express-crazy-opinions

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CANNABIS LICENSING CHEAT CONVICTED

UKIAH - While California laws have in recent years evolved to allow for the licensed cultivation, distribution, sales, and use of cannabis, there are still those out there not willing to play by the rules and, instead, circumvent the legal marketplace in favor of the ever-present black market. 

Defendant Zachary Pierre Brown, 41, of Ukiah, had his day in court – again -- Wednesday. Brown was convicted by guilty plea on Oct. 23 and this week he was back in the Mendocino County Superior Court for his post-plea formal sentencing hearing. 

Brown

Brown stands convicted of maintaining a location for the unlawful cultivation of non-licensed (illegal) cannabis, a felony. Brown was placed on 36 months of supervised probation and ordered him to serve 180 days in the Mendocino County Jail. 

While on probation, the defendant cannot possess more than eight ounces of medical cannabis, assuming he has first obtained a written medical recommendation from a license California physician. 

In accepting probation, he also has agreed to a 4th Amendment waiver (search clause), testing, 200 hours of community service, a $2,000 penal fine, and other terms, and conditions. 

He will not be allowed to cultivate or otherwise be involved in the sales of cannabis -- legal or otherwise -- for the term of his probation. 

Brown was also ordered to have prepared and to pay for an environmental remediation plan to be presented to biologists with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Once approved, the defendant has been ordered to pay to have that approved clean-up plan executed to the satisfaction of the biologists at the Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

As documented by law enforcement and reiterated in the Probation Department’s sentencing report, Brown was operating a commercial plant nursery on Boonville Road, selling unlicensed cannabis clones for a profit to interested buyers. 

Operating under the name “Phresh Start,” the defendant told law enforcement that he did not like doing business with trimmers and marijuana bud dealers; that he would make more money by simply raising and selling starter plants (clones) in the black market. 

During the January 2020 search of the defendant’s property, 5,050 cannabis plants and 23 pounds of processed cannabis were seized. 

Law enforcement agents from the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, assisted by deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, wardens and environmental scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and soldiers from the California National Guard, obtained and served a search warrant to conduct an environmental investigation of the location relating to unlicensed cannabis cultivation. 

As anticipated during that investigation, the search party found multiple environmental violations of law all relating to the defendant’s on-site commercial and unlicensed factory operation. 

At the time of the search, the defendant was also still on an informal grant of probation, having been earlier convicted in the Mendocino County Superior Court of misdemeanor domestic battery and DUI. That probation was terminated Wednesday as unsuccessful and the defendant was ordered to serve an additional 40 days in the county jail for having violated terms of his probation, that violation time to be served consecutive to the cannabis time.

Brown was also convicted in the Mendocino County Superior Court in 2017 of a misdemeanor marijuana offense. He was on court probation for two years for that conviction, an informal probation that expired in March 2019. Less than a year later, he was back in hot water with the law because of his continuing involvement with black market marijuana.

The attorney who handled the prosecution of this defendant is District Attorney David Eyster. Mendocino County Superior Court Presiding Judge Ann Moorman sentenced Brown. 

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Fort Bragg Presbyterian Church Fire, 1978

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POT PERMITS GRIND TO A HALT

(Not that they were moving much in the first place…)

by Mark Scaramella

Last Tuesday, the Supervisors discussed a misleading agenda item having to do with declaring marijuana cultivation an agricultural activity. Growing grapes to produce an intoxicating alcoholic beverage is “agriculture,” but growing marijuana to produce a drug is not agriculture, according to state law. 

Not only is this idea a likely non-starter at the state level, but Mendo's spirits industry doesn't want anyone horning in on their monopoly of "agricultural" intoxicants. 

Grape grower/ag rep/Farm Bureau rep, outgoing Supervisor Carre Brown, voted no even to the idea of "exploring" the possibility of the love drug as agriculture. In the end the board voted 4-1, Brown dissenting, to have the planning staff "Look into the question" and pause all the other administrative pot permit-related staff activity.

But, since the subject was pot, the discussion rambled on for over an hour, mostly about the degree to which the permit situation has become hopeless. Supervisor Williams, as usual, had the least hope and, of course, Supervisor Haschak was the most hopeful, although even Haschak conceded that hope was about all there is at the moment.

Supervisor Ted Williams opened the discussion by declaring:

"Our pot permit process is not working. The ordinance that we have does not produce documentation that can be shared with the state to trigger issuance of a state license. Cultivators need a state license to cultivate in California statewide. In our county they are operating on temporary licenses, provisional licenses. These provisional licenses expire in one year. Maybe the state will extend the deadline, but it will take legislative action for that. So far that hasn't happened. Under the current model we have worked with staff to bundle up the documentation that we have and the state has said that it is insufficient to meet state CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] requirements. If we do additional review beyond what was called for in our ordinance we are not really sharing our work. We are getting this new work product but it's not quite right. It doesn't meet CEQA requirements. Supervisor McCowen was correct when he pointed out [months ago] that we would be better served with discretionary use permits similar to Humboldt County. Why do we have this problem and the rest of the state doesn't? About 84% of the state is on provisionals. But we have a unique problem because we have a high volume of legacy cultivators. And we have not done adequate site-specific review according to CDFA [California Department of Food & Agriculture — and why that agency is involved when cannabis is apparently NOT agriculture is beyond our limited knowledge]. Humboldt County has use permits which have generated documentation to meet state CEQA, unfortunately, if we were to staff up maybe to four or five times the planning staff we have today it would take more than a decade to bring our current queue into the legal market. We can't imagine the state extending provisionals long enough for that to happen. Our current ordinance is going nowhere and doing nothing for cultivators unless we litigate with the state and find that their interpretation of CEQA is wrong. Use permits creates a new problem too, a time problem. You can't get through it quick enough and it's a new expense. Treating cannabis cultivation as agriculture may be a longshot but we see other counties pursuing this direction and there may be some hope. The [cannabis] ad hoc thinks they should be explored but we don't know if it will be an answer. We would like to use planning staff time to research it and see if it would help us. Cultivators have asked if they can do CEQA on their own and submit directly to the state. We weren't sure. The ad hoc has resolved that question. CDFA agrees that they [cultivators] can do that. Essentially, instead of using the shortcut where the county shares the site-specific review that's conducted, the cultivator can work directly with the state and get a state license by providing a meaningful CEQA document. But we don't think that would cost less than $10,000 and there are estimates of as much as $80,000 per [cannabis] farm. There aren't enough consultants in the area. We have over 1100 in our queue and if they all rushed out on New Year's Day to get consultants it would create a backlog. CDFA calls this the nuclear option. They would prefer it not happen because they don't have staff to process these. Counties have local control and provide documentation to meet CDFA's CEQA requirements. They don't have staff dedicated to processing these. It would be a one off for Mendocino County because we don't have an ordinance that is workable for the state. In the big picture, we are at a standstill. There's no decision to make to pause [of exploring various options] because this effort is effectively already paused everywhere. It's like Humboldt County and Mendocino County are headed to San Francisco and Humboldt is moving 5 miles an hour and Mendocino County is moving to zero."

Supervisor Haschak, ever-optimistic in his dream of somehow salvaging Mendo's unworkable permit process, responded: "We are meeting with CDFA some more and representatives from [Senator] McGuire and [Assemblyman] Wood's office and we are looking and trying to continue on with these attempts at finding a pathway forward. The general consensus is to pursue all options no matter how futile including cannabis as an agricultural activity. We hope to get clarification tomorrow. We want to continue with the biologist review because it will help everyone in the long run. If we pause that now it won't help our relationship with the CDFW [Department of Fish & Wildlife]. We only pay for the work done, not a huge contract. Only as needed."

"The work" in this case is for "sensitive species reviews" which involves the County paying a couple of specialized biologists on an hourly basis to review each permit application one by one to determine its impact on sensitive species at each cannabis farm site no matter how small.

Williams: "I don't know if these sensitive species reviews will help cultivators get closer to a state license. I think they probably won't. But they already paid the county for doing this work. Of the approximate 272 permits we issued, 90 of them we skipped over this critical aspect in our own ordinance. This created a problem, when we tried to do this band-aid approach to meet the state requirements we skipped the sensitive species habitat review. So we made a mistake at some point and these cultivators are at risk of losing their right to cultivate."

Supervisor John McCowen, godfather of the existing broken ordinance, pointed out that hundreds of people came forward and paid for permits when the county ordinance was rolled out under a "mitigated negative declaration" (to avoid environmental review of each permit/site.) "Then two years later the state decided that they needed these sensitive species reviews. That wasn't provided in our ordinance. Nobody paid for that work to be done and it wasn't provided by the county. So the question is who if anyone should pay for this work and who shall conduct it? Staff raised this question previously and the board cut short that item without answering the question and giving guidance. Do we expect these applicants to go out and hire a consultant on their own? Do we expect them to do the work themselves? Would the county do it and they pay for it? That issue never got resolved and I think that's one of the issues recommended for deferral. I would like staff to determine if applicants already paid for the review that is now required by the state. So the question is should we pause the determination of who should pay for this work?"

Williams disagreed: "The applicants paid for the county to do that and that effort was part of the county permit."

Planning Director Brent Schultz: "We are doing sensitive species reviews for the current active applicants. It took a year to get that process approved by CDFW and we are getting through those now. We don't want to pause that. I can't do anything to speed that process up. I don't know if they will ever get back to us [approving the County's reviews]. It's going through their legal processes and requirements of their contract. The sensitive species reviews are happening. The problem is when we can't self check that off on the checklist, and send it to them, they can't do the biological studies and cover the cost and staffing. They want to hire two biologists and the current estimate is $238,000 a year and they don't have any funding for that."

Schultz continued, "The CEQA process is separate and requires 15-30 hours for each applicant and it could take up to 30,000 hours for all current applicants to get through. It's a multimillion dollar process. We would need 16-20 more planners to process those and then it would go on and on and on because whenever a cultivator changes his site [and they do it all the time] they would have to change that document. Maybe even the sensitive species review. We don't know. We don't have that experience with that process."

Haschak thought that maybe they could prune the 1100 number down to only those that are still active and really want the state permit and then only pay for the time they spend which might be less than $238k, adding, "But we still need the sensitive species review."

Williams added: "We don't know how we're going to meet their [the state’s] demand for site-specific CEQA. We asked CDFA what they would do to get these 1100 to an annual license. And they have no answers. Prop 64 and SB 94 and all the regulation has been focused on new cultivation in counties with land that's already disturbed and zoned as ag, commercial agriculture. We have a unique problem in that we have people who have been cultivating for decades. Getting them through the same process without state support looks impossible. But when we ask our state partners for guidance we don't get any answers. With unlimited time and unlimited budget we could probably figure out how to connect these dots. But when you look at the available time and the resources in our area and the funds we have to work with none of these paths work. It may be a long shot but treating it as ag may help us. But without having staff focus on that path, we won't know."

In an attempt to determine how much work might be involved in getting the existing applicants through the process, Planning Director Schultz and his staff had reviewed 20 permit applications at random and found that only two of the 20 would meet all the requirements given the current state of their applications (some of which are years old). Schultz added that he thought the 10% number was probably representative of the entire 1100 present applicants, some of whom have withdrawn, some of whom have changed, some of whom have provisional licenses, some of whom don't, some of whom are gone. Etc.

Williams concluded: "The County came up with a permitting system and gave cultivators and the public the impression that this is the hard part: You get your county permit and then you have to switch and figure out CEQA which is just a little extra work. But in fact being on the cannabis ad hoc for a few months I now understand that the state license is the big prize, that's the core. Our county permit is almost irrelevant. If you don't have a state license, you're not cultivating [legally] in the state. So we added a bunch of hoops on top of an already difficult process. We have people getting through our County hoops but none of that leads them up to getting that state license that they need. So the fee schedules, the zoning, the details, the rules — none of that will matter in a year if we have only illegal cultivation which is where we're headed unless... And I think that this is what Supervisor McCowen was pointing out, that the cannabis ad hoc committee has not come up with solutions, our state partners have not offered any. We have some long shots, but there is no clear path in front of us."

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RICHARDSON GROVE UPDATE:

Keep the emails coming! Earlier this week, we asked you to write to Supervisors Fennell and Bass to urge them to remove county support for the Richardson Grove Project from their 2021 Legislative Priorities platform. After passionate public comment at this week's meeting, they moved to continue the item to this coming Tuesday to allow for a longer discussion. That's good progress! 

We need people to continue to write to the Board, particularly Supervisors Fennell and Bass, to let them know that you love Richardson Grove State Park and that you don't support highway widening that threatens old-growth redwoods. Share why you feel passionately about the grove--perhaps you have a favorite memory of the park, or that when you hit the park after a long roadtrip you feel like you are home again--why you are opposed to the project, and politely ask that they remove support from the project from the document. (Enviromental Protection & Information Center, Redway)

Email: 

Virginia Bass vbass@co.humboldt.ca.us

Estelle Fennell efennell@co.humboldt.ca.us

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SPY ROCK MEMORIES:

Ever wish you could leave everything behind and go off to start a new life in the wilderness? Well, here's the story of an idiot who did just that. The adventures that followed were in turn hilarious, terrifying, preposterous, and poignant, but ultimately life-changing and, well, kind of inspiring. And look at all those Christmas trees on the cover! For those who celebrate, or for those who don't but like to get presents anyway, this might be just the ticket!

dongiovannirecords.com/products/625414-larry-livermore-spy-rock-memories

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Redwoods

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STEPHANIE STRATFORD-HOY’S 29 YEARS OF VOLUNTEER SERVICE

by Michelle Hutchins, County Superintendent of Schools

In December of 1991, retired teacher Stephanie Stratford-Hoy was sworn in as the newest member of the Mendocino County Board of Education at a time when controversy was swirling around the Mendocino County Office of Education. The elected county superintendent of schools, Jack Ward, was accused of mismanagement and racism and this public crisis made the work of the board intense and difficult. With this, as with so many subsequent challenges, Hoy provided a steady, thoughtful perspective, one that would become her hallmark during the next 30 years.

In 1995, Jack Ward resigned and Paul Tichinin assumed the role of county superintendent. This began a 20-year tenure during which Tichinin and Hoy worked together. Tichinin shared his recollections about Hoy in a recent interview.

She was a real advocate for special education and our Regional Occupational Program (ROP), now called Career Technical Education. During her tenure, MCOE was responsible for managing ROP (a duty that now resides with districts). Stephanie understood that college was not for everyone and that good vocational training enabled students to successfully enter the workforce.

She served an important voice for education in general, and for education on the coast in particular. She represented the region that includes Fort Bragg, where she had been a teacher, and she brought a wealth of knowledge about the issues that were important to coastal residents.

Although she was always reserved, Stephanie wasn’t shy about her positions. She was very committed to her beliefs and dedicated to helping students, especially those who were in some way disadvantaged. She was a creative problem solver who consistently worked to balance the needs of individuals with the needs of the greater whole. Her retirement from the board leaves a big void.

Hoy’s colleague, current board president Don Cruser, agrees. Cruser served on the board with Hoy for years and said Hoy was a mentor to him when he first joined the board. “She taught me how to run a good meeting,” he said, and then smiled, “I think I liked working with her so much because we so often agreed.”

Cruser said Hoy was detail-oriented and thorough, but what impressed him the most was the way she dealt with controversy. Years ago, one polarizing issue the board faced was whether to introduce a plant-based diet into school lunches in the form of “Meatless Mondays.” At the time, this was highly controversial and people made strong, emotional arguments on both sides.

“But Stephanie just sat back and listened. She maintained an open mind and served as a balancing force during the discussion. I don’t actually know what her personal opinion was, and that tells you something about her. Throughout her tenure, her decisions were unbiased. She was often the swing vote and that was a good thing.”

There’s often confusion about what school districts and their boards do, as opposed to what the county office of education does or what the county board of education is responsible for. Cruser was eloquent in his description.

He explained that people are often skeptical of bureaucracies, because they tend to feed themselves until they get too big. But in a county like ours, we have a lot of little school districts that simply don’t have the funds to provide their students with specialized services and resources. This is where the county office steps in. This is the best use of bureaucracy—to recognize the needs of all schools in the county and use economies of scale to make sure even the smallest districts can serve their students. For example, a one-school district cannot afford to hire a speech pathologist, but the county office of education can hire one and then coordinate the needs of all districts so every student has access to this critical service.

Cruser also mentioned a time when he was a teacher and had enthusiastically begun to organize a technology conference, only to find he was in over his head. He said, “I’ve always been grateful to MCOE for stepping in and taking it on. For years, MCOE hosted Technology in the Redwoods, and it was great.”

These are the kinds of endeavors Stephanie Stratford-Hoy supported for almost 30 years as a volunteer board member. We will miss her calm, rational presence and her deep knowledge and experience. I know I speak for all of us at MCOE and on the board when I wish her a happy retirement from the board. We look forward to honoring her legacy by continuing to advocate for educational excellence for all students in Mendocino County.

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ms notes: Not only was Jack Ward “accused” of “mismanagement,” but his friend DA Susan Massini was forced by the mountain of evidence from a financial audit to charge Ward with 29 separate financial crimes, some of which involved self-dealing, bogus travel expenses, and purchases from relatives, notably a $16k commercial printing press. In 1995 Ward plead guilty to one of those 29 felony charges, paid $24k in restitution, and spent two months in jail plus three years of probation and Ward was prohibited from ever holding public office again. But after he got off probation, Ward was hired by a SoCal Indian reservation as a school bureaucrat even though the “racism” he had been “accused of” had to do with steering local Indian Education programs to his personal friends. Paul Tichinin, Ward’s top assistant, running against two other MCOE managers to succeed Ward, later claimed that he and everyone else at MCOE knew nothing about Ward’s many crimes when he ran to fill Ward’s vacancy. These preposterous claims of deniability caused the late Ross Murray who was in attendance at an MCOE Superintendent candidates night debate to sharply observe: “Wow! It’s like trying to find a Nazi in Germany after the war.”

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IN A RECENT TRIBUTE to retiring Supervisor Carre Brown by the County’s freelance de facto press release writer Karen Rifkin we are informed of Supervisor Brown’s unspecified “advocacy” for Mendocino County on various statewide organizations, something that anyone who follows board meetings would know already because her main contribution to board meetings has been long, rambling summaries of those meetings and the topics they discuss, but never take any action on. We often wondered why Supervisor Brown was so dedicated in attending these seemingly pointless meetings since it takes a lot of time and effort and does little good. Then we read the following paragraph from Ms. Rifkin and it suddenly becamse clear:

“With the Ukiah Valley as a medium priority basin and no staff for the county’s water agency, she credits CSAC [the California State Association of Counties] for the role it took in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and in educating her and preparing her for the role she took in organizing other elected officials and districts to move forward with a plan. ‘If we hadn’t formed our own sustainable groundwater agency, the state would have come in and done it for us,’ said Brown, adding, ‘You want to make sure local government is not impacted negatively by any of the changes that come down from Sacramento’.”

Translation: As head of the Potter Valley Cheap Water Mafia Supervisor Brown realized it was her job to use her position as Supervisor to do everything possible to maintain the flow of cheap water to herself and her Potter Valley constituents, going so far as to set up a local agency packed with her fellow water mafia members (aka “elected officials”) to keep the state from meddling in Potter Valley water affairs [i.e., “local government”]. Otherwise, the state might go so far as to impose restrictions on vineyard water usage like they do on everybody else, especially pot growers. As far as we can tell she did that job quite well. Will her replacement Glenn McGourty continue in the grand tradition of Supervisor Brown? We assume so, because there’s no other real reason for him to have even run for the position. All we ask from Supervisor McGourty is that he spare us the long, boring summaries of these nebulous organizations and their pointless meetings unless there’s a direct Mendo angle.

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Fraternal Monarch Tree

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'MENDO HISTORIAN' comments on the Redheaded Blackbelt site: "Working girls still walking the 101 Corridor on the South Side of Willits, Willits Motels are full of them on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s a drugs and sex trade still very much alive South of the tracks in Willits, the strip is known locally as "Miracle Mile". The County Sheriff and Willits Police allow it to go on and continue in broad daylight. Nothing has really changed. Women are financially strapped, and men are strapped for sex. Unless there is human trafficking involved, there is no real problem, a fair exchange!"

ED NOTE: This may be wishful thinking by the commenter. We doubt that public prostitution on the outskirts of Willits is likely, especially given the much safer and private options for commercial sex assignations available electronically.

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* * *

CODE BREAKERS CRACK ZODIAC CODE

One of the longest-running mysteries in the “Zodiac Killer” saga has finally been solved after an international code-breaking team cracked the notorious “340 Cipher” sent to the San Francisco Chronicle 51 years ago. 

The letter has been puzzling authorities and amateur sleuths since it arrived at the newspaper's offices in November 1969, four years after the killer started terrorizing the Bay Area, killing at least five people. 

Half a century later three private citizen code-breakers from the United States, Australia and Belgium finally decoded a taunting message which reads: “I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me... I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me,” 

US cryptographer David Oranchak named the other code-breakers as Australian mathematician Sam Blake and Belgian software developer Jarl Van Eycke.

Investigators had hoped that the murderer, who has never been definitively identified, would reveal his name in the cipher, but were pleased nonetheless with the breakthrough.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9044635/Zodiac-killers-1969-cipher-finally-solved-51-years-sent-San-Francisco-Chronicle.html


How they did it:


Zodiac Killer's Cryptogram Finally Solved After More Than 50 Years — In His Own Creepy Words

One of the Zodiac Killer's most elaborate cryptograms has finally been solved 51 years after it was sent to The San Francisco Chronicle. The mysterious serial killer, who has never been caught, is believed to be responsible for at least five murders in the Bay Area in the late 1960s. He gained his pseudonym from creepy letters he sent to local newspapers, often including cryptograms.

The so-called 340 Cipher baffled observers for years but was finally solved by an international code breaking team from the U.S., Australia and Belgium, the Chronicle reports. It reads: "I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. … I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me." Unfortunately, it doesn't offer any obvious clues about the killer's identity but the FBI said it was aware of the breakthrough and its investigations were ongoing. One other cryptogram from the Zodiac Killer said, "I like killing because it is so much fun."

(SF Chronicle)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 11, 2020

Alford, Almeraz, Brown

JASPER ALFORD III, Willits. Parole violation.

ANDRE ALMERAZ, Riverside/Ukiah. Concealed weapon, loaded firearm in public, loaded handgun not registered owner, criminal street gang member with loaded firearm.

DAVID BROWN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Carrasco, Delossantos, Hickey, Kester

ALEXIS CARRASCO-MATA, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.

ANTONIO DELOSSANTOS-ROJAS, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, metal knuckles, probation revocation.

JODY HICKEY, Kelseyville/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, paraphernalia, suspended license for DUI.

ADAM KESTER, Willits. Burlary tools, concealed dirk-dagger, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Lopez, Rojas, Spitsen

JOHN LOPEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery, under influence, controlled substance.

MAURILIO ROJAS-AMADO, Paso Robles/Ukiah. DUI.

MARK SPITSEN, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, disobeying court order, probation revocation.

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U.S. SUPREME COURT REJECTS FAR-FETCHED TEXAS BID to void the vote in Pennsylvania and other battleground states

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Texas’ longshot legal bid to void the vote in Pennsylvania and three other battleground states on Friday, effectively ending the president’s chances to overturn the outcome of the election in court.

In a brief unsigned order, the justices said Texas lacked standing to challenge “the manner in which another state conducts its election.” Their decision cleared the way for President-elect Joe Biden to be declared the victor of the Electoral College vote on Monday.

The ruling, along with its terse rejection of another challenge to Pennsylvania’s results earlier in the week, also served as an unmistakable repudiation of the confidence with which the president and his party had boldly asserted that the justices Trump had installed on the court would ultimately choose loyalty to him over their sworn oaths to uphold the law.

Having previously declared the case “the big one,” he appeared to be lobbying the court via Twitter earlier in the day. “If the Supreme Court shows great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history, and our Electoral Process will be respected again,” he wrote.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who had earlier called the case a “seditious abuse of the electoral process,” said the justices had clearly seen through the legally questionable, partisan arguments behind the case. The court’s “swift denial should make anyone contemplating further attacks on our election think twice,” he said in a statement. “While these stunts are legally insignificant, their cost to our country — in misleading the public about a free and fair election and in tearing at our Constitution — is high and we will not tolerate them from our sister states or anyone else.

By deciding that Texas had no standing to sue Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan over how their elections were administered, the justices did not engage with the substance of arguments laid out by Texas’ filings, which were riddled with factual inaccuracies and conspiracy theories. But many of its claims had been previously rejected by judges in dozens of unsuccessful court challenges that Trump and his GOP allies brought in the past month.

inquirer.com/news/supreme-court-texas-case-trump-pennsylvania-election-ken-paxton-lawsuits-biden-20201211.html

* * *

FREEDOM FORCE?

Editor: 

So, a number of newly-elected Republican House members have decided to form a group to represent the values of “love of country, business and respect for God” and name themselves the Freedom Force. It is meant as a counter to the Democratic foursome ostensibly led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While none of these prescribed values is inherently bad, Republicans under President Donald Trump’s leadership have emphasized the worst aspects of each.

I thought love of country meant putting country over party, not continually pushing false notions that the election was illegitimate and looking for every possible way to invalidate and suppress voting (especially of minorities). Supporting business is fine but not at the expense of workers’ wages and right to health care. Respect for God seems only to apply to those who believe in Christianity.

How about some real freedoms such as freedom from fear of losing your job and thus your health care, and, most importantly, freedom from an authoritarian leader willing to punish those who speak out against him?

Somehow, I have a feeling the so-called Freedom Force doesn’t represent freedom much at all.

Chris Carpenter

Petaluma

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Navarro Ridge Cemetery

* * *

FOR A MONTH NOW, the Democrats have ceded the airwaves to Trump and some of the most lunatic lawyers in America, while Biden rolls out recycled cabinet picks no one, except a few K Street lobbyists, asked for or wanted. Meanwhile, Pelosi and Schumer can’t even get a tiny relief check to the 12 million people about to have their water and heat turned off or face eviction from their homes…

Biden is a politician who is unlikely to disappoint his followers for the simple reason that he has few truly devoted adherents and offers them little of substance. Mostly, he delivers on small things, tiny symbolic acts that serve to mask the broader betrayals of movements and aspirations he claimed to represent but never had any real interest in. Unlike Obama, idealism was never Biden’s calling card. His entire career he has sold a brutal brand of pragmatism behind a dental implant smile.

Few politicians in American history have been as programed by the System as Joe Biden, conditioned to the point where Biden eventually became a chief programmer himself, updating the operating system of the Republic every decade or so with new measures of austerity, imperial violence and domestic punishment. If the American brand of neoliberalism is approaching a crisis point, it’s a crisis that Biden himself, perhaps more than anyone else on the political scene today, helped bring about.

A divided government is Biden’s preferred political habitat. It’s why he wasn’t too deflated by the Democrats’ befuddling failure to retake the Senate and why he’s expending little energy (not that he has much to spare, apparently) on the Georgia senate races, which seem to be slipping away. This is precisely the situation Biden wants, where he can rationalize abandoning all of his campaign promises, meager as they were – on health care, the environment, infrastructure and student debt – and implement his long-desired austerity measures by saying he was forced to deal with Mitch.

Under Biden we’re set to experience four years (if he lasts that long) of negative creep, a steady recrudescence of the same policies – economic, social, environmental and military – which led us to into the very quagmire where nearly all of us are now inexorably sinking.

Predictably, Biden’s sterile roster of cabinet picks seem geared toward appeasing a mythical political center that no longer exists, if it ever did.

— Jeffrey St. Clair

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* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

The Supreme Court will not interfere with election results and Uncle Joe will take office on Jan. 20. Trump will continue efforts to question the results and delegitimize the Biden administration and further his aims, whatever they might be. The Republicans will be glad to be rid of Trump and try to move on from his spell. The next four years will see even more deconstruction of the ‘Republic’ and life will be even more tenuous for the public. Then, there will be a very serious implosion of the global financial system and all bets are off. To borrow a quote from Monty Python, “Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition.” Things stay the same, until they don’t.

* * *

“And from that day forward, not everything was about Donald Trump.”

* * *

COVID TESTS LAGGING: Slower Turnaround Times Creeping Back For Californians

Seven days a week, San Francisco’s public health laboratory operates until midnight. Workers are exhausted, their director says. And still, the COVID-19 specimens keep coming in their little plastic tubes, with test results expected quickly to help manage California’s alarming surge of infections. 

calmatters.org/health/coronavirus/2020/12/slower-covid-turnarounds-california

* * *

ATTN FOG EATERS

Point Arena City Council Meeting - December 15, 2020

pointarena.ca.gov/notices/2020-12-15-city-council-meeting/

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Las Vegas trailer park

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UKIAH STREETSCAPE PROJECT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

The replacement of all of the 50-100-year-old underground water and sewer infrastructure is nearly complete! Every building between Henry and Mill Streets now has brand new laterals, and the final connections to the main line are being made next week. The weather forecast shows a bit of rain, but we’ll be doing our best to keep on schedule. See below for important information regarding night work and temporary interruptions to water service in the area between Mill and Gobbi Streets. 

South Side: Church to Mill Street 

Wahlund Construction continues the installation of the water infrastructure between Mill and Clay, with “tie-ins”—connections—to the main line happening at Mill and Clay in the coming days. 

Important notice regarding night work on Sunday, December 13: 

Work near the intersection of Mill and State Streets will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday evening, with water shut-off to buildings on the west side of State Street between Mill and Gobbi Streets beginning at approximately 10:30 p.m. Work is expected to take approximately four hours, but could extend beyond that time due to unforeseen issues. 

Every effort is being made to minimize impacts to businesses and residents, and we apologize for any inconvenience this causes. Also, please note that this work is weather-dependent. Given the current forecast, we are expecting that the tie-in will proceed as planned; however, if it is raining heavily on Sunday, the tie-in will be rescheduled. 

No other night work is planned. More water connections will be made between Mill and Clay Streets. Service interruptions will be brief, advance notice will be provided, and every effort will be made to work around business needs. 

That's all, folks! Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Thanks,

Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah

300 Seminary Avenue, Ukiah, California 95482

w: (707) 467-5793

* * *

* * *

THEY’RE AMONG THE WORLD’S OLDEST LIVING THINGS. THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS KILLING THEM.

California’s redwoods, sequoias and Joshua trees define the American West and nature’s resilience through the ages. Wildfires this year were their deadliest test.

nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/09/climate/redwood-sequoia-tree-fire.html

* * *

* * *

THE YOUTUBE BAN IS UN-AMERICAN, Wrong, and Will Backfire

by Matt Taibbi

Start with the headline: “Supporting the 2020 U.S. Election.”

YouTube in its company blog can’t even say, “Banning Election Conspiracy Theories.” 

They have to employ the Orwellian language of politicians — Healthy Forests, Clear Skies, “Supported” Elections — because Google and YouTube are now political actors, who can’t speak plainly any more than a drunk can walk in a straight line.

The company wrote Wednesday:

“Yesterday was the safe-harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election… For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors.”

This announcement came down at roughly the same time Hunter Biden was announcing that his “tax affairs” were under investigation by the U.S. Attorney in Delaware. Part of that investigation concerned whether or not he had violated tax and money laundering laws in, as CNN put it, “foreign countries, principally China.” Information suggestive of money-laundering and tax issues in China and other countries was in the cache of emails reported in the New York Post story blocked by Twitter and Facebook.

That news was denounced as Russian disinformation by virtually everyone in “reputable” media, who often dismissed the story with an aristocratic snort, a la Christiane Amanpour.

That tale was not Russian disinformation, however, and Biden’s announcement this week strongly suggests Twitter and Facebook suppressed a real story of legitimate public interest just before a presidential election.

How important was that Hunter Biden story? That’s debatable, but the fact that tech companies blocked it, and professional journalists gleefully lied about it, has a direct bearing on YouTube’s decision now to bar Trumpist freakouts over the election results.

If you want a population of people to stop thinking an election was stolen from them, it’s hard to think of a worse method than ordering a news blackout after it’s just been demonstrated that the last major blackout was a fraud. Close your eyes and imagine what would have happened if Facebook and Google had banned 9/11 Truth on the advice of intelligence officials in the Bush years, and it will start to make sense that Trump voters in Guy Fawkes masks are now roaming the continent like buffalo. 

The Washington Post blasted Jill Stein’s “fairy tale candidacy” and had Josh Rogin write a slobbering blowjob profile of Evan “Never Trump Republican” McMullin just before the 2016 election, hailing his “steady personality, honesty, and work ethic” and gushing at the possibility that he might become the first third-party candidate to win a state since 1968. “That,” Rogin noted without irony, “might be his most successful covert operation.” Intelligence officers like McMullin have spent much of the last four years conditioning the public to accept the idea that aggressive steps need to be taken to stop “foreign disinformation” or “foreign interference,” in the media landscape most of all. A move to stop “domestic anti-democracy disinformation” on “both the supply and demand sides” (wtf!?) is a serious escalation of that idea. Signs pointed to this moment coming. This past August, the office of the Director of National Intelligence released an assessment that foreign countries were seeking to spread “disinformation” in the run-up to the election. In October, Virginia Democrat (and former CIA official) Abigail Spanberger piggybacked on that report and introduced a bill designed to cut down on “foreign disinformation.”

The law among other things would require that political ads or content produced by foreign governments be marked by disclaimers, and that companies should remove any such content appearing without disclaimers. It would also expand language in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requiring that any content intended to influence U.S. citizens politically be reported to the Department of Justice.

Stipulate that this is all above board, that there’s nothing odd about the Department of Justice monitoring political ads, or registering content creators, or permanent bureaucrats in intelligence agencies publishing their takes on which presidential candidate is preferred by conniving foreign adversary nations. The United States has survived a long time without such procedures, but sure: an argument can be made that any country has an interest in alerting its citizens to foreign messaging. Where it gets weird is when the effort to stamp out “foreign interference” is transferred to the domestic media landscape. Intelligence agencies, think tanks, and mainstream news agencies have been preparing us for this concept for years as well. 

This dates back to the infamous 2016 Washington Post story hyping PropOrNot, a shadowy organization that identified a long list of homegrown American news sites like Consortium, TruthDig, Naked Capitalism, and Antiwar.Com as vehicles for “Russian propaganda.”

California Senator Richard Blumenthal two years ago insisted the Russians in attempting to disrupt our lives “will use American voices. No longer the broken English, no longer the payment in rubles. They will become ever more astute in their attacks.” 

Think-tanks began hyping ideas about “domestic-origin disinformation” and foreign countries “co-opting authentic American voices.”

As time passed in the Trump years, we started reading on a regular basis that Russian propaganda efforts would be harder to detect, because they would be routed through people appearing on the outside, like Nexus 6 replicants, to be ordinary human Americans. In late February earlier this year, at the peak of the preposterous campaign to depict Bernie Sanders as a favorite of the Kremlin, David Sanger of the New York Times warned that Russians were purposefully sending messages through “everyday Americans” because “it is much harder to ban the words of real Americans.”

When The Bulwark, basically the reanimated corpse of Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, wrote some weeks back about Donald Trump holding a “maskless anti-democracy disinformation rally straight out of Vladimir Putin’s dreams,” that language wasn’t accidental. This was part of a P.R. campaign, years in the making, preparing us for the idea that domestic voices can be just as dangerous as foreign ones, and similarly need to be stamped out.

The YouTube announcement is the latest salvo in the fight against “domestic anti-democracy information,” and the first of many problems with it is its hypocrisy. Do I personally believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump? No. However, I also didn’t believe the election was stolen from Hillary Clinton in 2016, when the Internet was bursting at the seams with conspiracy theories nearly identical to the ones now being propagated by Trump fans.

Unrestrained speculation about the illegitimacy of the 2016 election had a major impact on the public. Surveys showed 50 percent of Clinton voters by December of 2016 believed the Russians actually hacked vote tallies in states, something no official agency ever alleged even at the peak of the Russiagate madness. Two years later, one in three Americans believed a foreign power would change vote tallies in the 2018 midterm elections.

These beliefs were turbo-charged by countless “reputable” news reports and statements by politicians that were either factually incorrect or misleading, from the notion that there was “more than circumstantial” evidence of collusion to false alarms about Russians hacking everything from Vermont’s energy grid to C-SPAN.

What makes the current situation particularly grotesque is that the DNI warning about this summer stated plainly that a major goal of foreign disruptors was to “undermine the public’s confidence in the Democratic process” by “calling into question the validity of the election results.”

Our own domestic intelligence agencies have been doing exactly that for years now. On nearly a daily basis in the leadup to this past Election Day, they were issuing warnings in the corporate press that you might have reason to mistrust the coming results.

Amazing how those stories vanished after Election Day! If you opened any of those pre-vote reports, you’d find law enforcement and intelligence officials warning that everything from state and local governments to “aviation networks” was under attack.

In fact, go back across the last four years and you’ll find a consistent feature of warnings about foreign or domestic “disinformation”: the stern scare quote from a bona fide All-Star ex-spook or State official, from Clint Watts to Victoria Nuland to Frank Figliuzzi to John Brennan to McMullan’s former boss and buddy, ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden.

A great many of these figures are now paid contributors to major corporate news organizations.

What do we think the storylines would be right now if Trump had won? What would those aforementioned figures be saying on channels like MSNBC and CNN, about what would they be speculating? Does anyone for a moment imagine that YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook would block efforts from those people to raise doubts about that hypothetical election result?

We know the answer to that question, because all of those actors spent the last four years questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s election without any repercussions. 

The Atlantic, quoting the likes of Hayden, ran a piece weeks after Trump’s election arguing that it was the duty of members of the Electoral College to defy voters and elect Hillary Clinton on national security grounds. Mass protests were held to disrupt the Electoral College vote in late December 2016, and YouTube cheerfully broadcast videos from those events. When Electoral vote tallies were finally read out in congress, ironically by Joe Biden, House members from at least six states balked, with people like Barbara Lee objecting on the grounds of “overwhelming evidence of Russian interference in our election.”

In sum, it’s okay to stoke public paranoia, encourage voters to protest legal election results, spread conspiracy theories about stolen elections, refuse to endorse legal election tallies, and even to file lawsuits challenging the validity of presidential results, so long as all of this activity is sanctified by officials in the right party, or by intelligence vets, or by friendlies at CNN, NBC, the New York Times, etc.

If, however, the theories are coming from Donald Trump or some other disreputable species of un-credentialed American, then it’s time for companies like YouTube to move in and wipe out 8000+ videos and nudge people to channels like CBS and NBC, as well as to the home page of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. This is a process YouTube calls “connecting people to authoritative information.”

Cutting down the public’s ability to flip out removes one of the only real checks on the most dangerous kind of fake news, the official lie. 

Imagine if these mechanisms had been in place in the past. Would we disallow published claims that the Missile Gap was a fake? That the Gulf of Tonkin incident was staged? How about Watergate, a wild theory about cheating in a presidential election that was universally disbelieved by “reputable” news agencies, until it wasn’t? It’s not hard to imagine a future where authorities would ask tech platforms to quell “conspiracy theories” about everything from poisoned water systems to war crimes.

There’s no such thing as a technocratic approach to truth. There are official truths, but those are political rather than scientific determinations, and therefore almost always wrong on some level. The people who created the American free press understood this, even knowing the tendency of newspapers to be idiotic and full of lies. They weighed that against the larger potential evil of a despotic government that relies upon what Thomas Jefferson called a “standing army of newswriters” ready to print whatever ministers want, “without any regard for truth.”

We allow freedom of religion not because we want people believing in silly religions, but because it’s the only defense against someone establishing one officially mandated silly religion. With the press, we put up with gossip and errors and lies not because we think those things are socially beneficial, but because we don’t want an aristocratic political establishment having a monopoly on those abuses. By allowing some conspiracy theories but not others, that’s exactly the system we’re building.

Most of blue-state America is looking aghast at news stories about 17 states joining in a lawsuit to challenge the election results. Conventional wisdom says that half the country has been taken over by a dangerous conspiracist movement that must be tamed by any means necessary. Acts like the YouTube ban not only don’t accomplish this, they’ll almost certainly further radicalize this population. This is especially true in light of the ongoing implication that Trump’s followers are either actual or unwitting confederates of foreign enemies.

That insult is bad enough when it’s leveled in words only, but when it’s backed up by concrete actions to change a group’s status, like reducing an ability to air grievances, now you’re removing some of the last incentives to behave like citizens. Do you want 70 million Trump voters in the streets with guns and go-bags? Tell them you consider them the same as foreign enemies, and start treating them accordingly. This is a stupid, dangerous, wrong policy, guaranteed to make things worse.

* * *

* * *

HOW OATH KEEPERS ARE QUIETLY INFILTRATING LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Depending on whom you ask, Oath Keepers is either “the last line of defense against tyranny” or an extremist militia. They describe themselves as a nonpartisan association of tens of thousands of current and former military, police and first responders who pledge to defend the Constitution and refuse to obey orders they consider unconstitutional. The Southern Poverty Law Center on the other hand lists Oath Keepers as “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today” and has kept tabs on incidents involving membersthat may betray the idea that the group is just about defending the Constitution. In 2010, for example, a man in Tennessee driving a truck with an Oath Keepers logo was accused in a plot to arrest two dozen local officials.

politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/09/oath-keepers-far-right-group-infiltrate-local-government-texas-443773

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* * *

SOMETIMES LIFE REALLY IS LIKE A BAD DREAM

by James Kunstler

When you think of the US Supreme Court, it’s probably the image of its august Greco-Roman façade, expressing the conjoined ideas of democracy (ancient Greece) and a republic (classical Rome). Or else, you might imagine the grand courtroom inside — always featured in drawings, because photos aren’t allowed — which is the ultimate performance space for the law of the land. But there must be quite a backstage area, offices for the justices and their clerks, and surely some kind of boardroom, or even a comfy lounge full of overstuffed leather club chairs, a fireplace, and a sideboard with the cut-crystal sherry bottle. Would you suppose that the nine justices, or, at least the two divisions of them, get together there and palaver informally over dockets and cases? I would.

Now imagine they are palavering over the current case at hand brought by Texas with what… eighteen other states now, plus the president, in for backup? Is the court really reluctant to take the case, as the media gossip says? Maybe. But if they do take it, would they eventually rule to not disturb the current disposition of the election — even as alleged to be rife with ballot fraud — out of fear of venturing into a constitutional wilderness, as other gossip has it? Maybe. But what happens then…?

Hey, whatever you think of Donald Trump, he has been POTUS for four years, with access to a whole lot of non-public information about his colleagues in government, including who among them have been playing footsie with the tentacles of China, and lots more. Accordingly, and prompted by four years of non-stop seditious harassment by a deranged Democratic Party, would you suppose he had a plan to meet some version of what played out on November 3? I would.

I would suppose, for instance, that Mr. Trump’s military intelligence allies saw, in real time on election night, all the packets of internet data that Dominion vote tabulation machines in the USA sent across the Atlantic to the Dominion server lodged in the CIA’s Frankfurt, Germany, cyberwarfare station. This, you understand, when those Dominion machines in the USA were forbidden by law to be connected to the Internet. If you’re a regular reader here, you will recall the recent report of a US Army special forces operation going into the Frankfurt CIA station directly after the election and seizing servers there. Assume that they underwent forensic dissection afterward. If you were President DJ Trump, would you suspect that the CIA might be playing dangerous games with you (and by extension, the nation)? Are you aware that China has a 75 percent investment stake in the holding company that now owns Dominion? Are there grounds to suppose that China somehow interfered in the election? With assistance from an eager Democratic Party and the CIA?

Would Mr. Trump, of all people, let such a thing stand? Especially considering the evidence that the putative “winner” of the election, Joe Biden, the kid from Scranton, PA, was up to his eyeballs, with the rest of his family, in Chinese funny-money? (Not to mention money from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, and other lands?) Note: information about this evidence gleaned from Hunter Biden’s forgotten laptop was deliberately suppressed in October by the major newspapers and cable news stations, with help from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, along with a claque of “fifty former and current intel officials” led John Brennan, who denounced the reports from The New York Post in a public letter as “Russian disinformation” — yet another seditious conspiracy among the swamplings.

Are you aware that in the weeks since the election there have been unusual movements of US military aircraft around the country, including C-130 “Hercules” troop carrier planes? And that the navy has two carrier groups out along the Pacific Coast and three strung along the Atlantic coast? That’s what I hear. Remember, the president cleaned house at the top of the Pentagon this fall, and probably not for nothing. Sounds like preparation for something… some extraordinary executive action to prevent the national security risk known as Joe Biden from being sworn-in as president — in the absence of anything else in a strictly constitutional way that would keep that from happening, like a Supreme Court decision that would order the rare passing on of the disputed 2020 election to the House of Representatives for resolution, with a strong statistical likelihood that the body would re-elect Mr. Trump.

These are the sorts of things I imagine the Supreme Court justices might be palavering about and weighing over their sherry in the comfortable back room of their august clubhouse. There is, of course, the likelihood that such a momentous decision to send the vote to the House would provoke a violent, batshit crazy response from the Democratic Party’s street warriors, BLM and Antifa — thus the C-130 flights perhaps deploying troops around the country. This time, expect the Black Blocs to get their asses kicked, and swiftly. Expect also a mind-blowing raft of arrests of political celebrities on charges like treason. Does it sound like a bad dream? Yeah, kind of does. But there it is.

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

18 Comments

  1. Eric Sunswheat December 12, 2020

    Walk, Bike,, e-Bike, Rail Bike, CA State Highways.
    Great Redwood Trail Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit.

    -> December 11, 2020
    Greetings Walk and Bike Friends,

    Will you help us a moment in creating safer and more efficient active transportation routes in Mendocino County?

    Caltrans is developing the first ever District 1 Active Transportation Plan, identifying locations on state highways throughout the entire District (Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, and Mendocino Counties) where pedestrians and cyclists need better infrastructure to encourage more safe and comfortable trips made on foot or by bicycle.

    Share your opinion on where improvements can be made to better serve all bicyclists and pedestrians using Caltrans’ online mapping survey (https://survey.catplan.org/) so people can locate the areas where they have concerns about walking or biking. The survey closes December 31, 2020.

    In peace,
    Sonja Burgal
    Walk & Bike Mendocino

    -> December 8, 2020
    Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit.
    SMART hosts listening forum on bike and pedestrian path

    The SMART Board of Directors is hosting a Listening Forum on the agency’s bike and pedestrian pathway on Wednesday, Dec. 16, part of a series to bring community members together to exchange ideas on how to best position the rail line for the future.

    The Zoom session is scheduled from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
    https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZctcOmtpj0iEtTTyEzwqDhbT_2qp8g3_Ute

    The Listening Forum will enable a dialogue where the SMART Board can hear from the public as well as others from all sectors of the broader North Bay community.

    Participation in these conversations will help shape the future of SMART as the area recovers from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

    MTC has provided financial support for SMART, which extended service to Larkspur and downtown Novato station in Marin County last year. SMART is also working on extending further north to Windsor in Sonoma County.

  2. Paul Andersen December 12, 2020

    Today’s Kunstler column proves how useless he is as a columnist. Dude is as correct as a broken clock. Surely you can find someone better.

    • chuck dunbar December 12, 2020

      “Does it sound like a bad dream?,” Kunstler asks us… More like the thoughts of a man on lots of hard drugs, getting way out there now. The man needs a tough editor to tell him he’s out of control and needs to get it together, stop the drugs, take a little break.

    • Stephen Rosenthal December 12, 2020

      I’m always glad to see a Kunstler article in the AVA. It saves me 5 minutes of reading time that I can use to do something else.

  3. George Hollister December 12, 2020

    Predictably, Biden’s sterile roster of cabinet picks seem geared toward appeasing a mythical political center that no longer exists, if it ever did. — Jeffrey St. Clair

    Jeffrey, it never did. There is no “if” about it. Look at history, please. The USA is, and always has been culturally heterogeneous. Anyone with an engaged brain, who travels around this great country can see it, if they wish to. Federalism was born because of our heterogeneous nature. The Electoral College exists because of it. We would all get along much better if we accepted this. What we see today is a majority of people who don’t accept this, and want to impose a cultural homogeneous society on everyone. This is where the problems of today are rooted. If you live in the Bay Area, or New York City and think the people in Mississippi are backward thinkers, remember, they rightly think the same of you. And they like grits, too.

    • Bob A. December 12, 2020

      Explaining his reasoning for supporting the use of electors as opposed to popular vote for selecting the President, James Madison wrote:

      “There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections.”

      The electoral college is and has been since its inception an inherently racist feature of our Federal system.

      • George Hollister December 12, 2020

        Racist? Really? OK, let’s replace Mississippi with Oklahoma, or Montana, or Nebraska, or the Dakotas, etc.

        • Bob A. December 12, 2020

          I don’t understand how changing the name of Mississippi has any bearing on the history of the electoral college, so I’ll stick with supporting my case for its inherent racism.

          At the time that Madison wrote, chattel slavery of Africans was a fact in the Southern states. These are the Negroes that Madison refers to. I think we can agree that chattel slavery based on race is racism in one of its most extreme forms.

          According to the census of 1780, slaves accounted for 34% of the population of the slave states. Suffrage was restricted to white males holding property, about 6% of the total population. At the time that Madison wrote, these facts put the southern states at an insurmountable numerical disadvantage in a national contest for popular votes. Using 1780 data, the numbers work out to 110,000 total northern voters vs. 76,000 southern voters. The disadvantage would also extend to the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives.

          This was a serious problem for the constitutional convention. Keeping in mind that the new constitution required nothing less than ratification by all 13 states, a solution needed to be found that would ensure ratification by the southern, slave holding states.

          Constitutional Provisions

          Article I, Section 2, prior to amendment 14 read, in part, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

          The 3/5 formula is the finger that tips the scale in the next two clauses.

          Article I, Section 2 Also mandated a census every 10 years and gave an apportionment 1 representative for every 30 thousand by the above formula.

          The apportionment of the House is set by this scale.

          Article II, Section 1 reads in part, “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress”.

          The apportionment of electors is set by this scale. It should be clear that these three clauses depend on each other and are designed to work together. This is the whole of “3/5 compromise” that helped to ensure ratification by making slavery a part of the constitution. Census, 3/5 adjustment for slaves, apportionment of House seats, electoral college.

          So, I stand by my point that the electoral college was, by design, an integral part of the “3/5 compromise” which institutionalizes chattel slavery in the US constitution, and so was racist feature of our Federal system.

          The electoral college remains with us, a sore that festers from time to time, lately more than ever.

    • Harvey Reading December 12, 2020

      George, the US has been fascist from its inception, a time before the word had been invented as a descriptor of an updated feudal system. The only reason FDR did what little he did was in an attempt to protect the “economic system” of the then-current robber barons. He accomplished that, in spades.

      Those scum loved fascism, loved Hitler and Mussolini, and even tried to implement a coup against FDR, one that might have succeeded had not a retired Marine major general, named Smedley Butler, blown the whistle on them in testimony to congress. Keep in mind that the ruling class was doing just fine during the Depression, with new cars rolling off the assembly lines right up to the beginning of the second war on the world.

      The fascists of today are committed to destroying the remnants of FDR’s half efforts…

      • George Hollister December 12, 2020

        At this point in time, I don’t know if there is a definition for fascism. To me, it is a socialist economic system begun by Benito Mussolini, and embraced by Adolf Hitler. A lot of what we do in this country follows the same recipe, and has for a long time. But certainly not in the beginning.

        • Harvey Reading December 12, 2020

          I beg to differ, George. This country has always been neofeudalistic, i.e. fascist; a champion of those with wealth. In the 19th Century and early 20th, the guvamint used the military to kill those who chose to organize and disagree, while the corporate fascists used the police and hired guns (e.g. Pinkertons, et al) to the same end.

          Now, they first enact unconstitutional laws, like FISA, USAPATRIOT. REAL ID, and various others to lock up indefinitely anyone who disagrees, all in the name of anti-terrorism. And, of course, the cops are there with their clubs and military paraphernalia to enforce such fascist edicts.

          You need to quit relying so much on propaganda blathered by right-wing BS tanks. I also suggest reading some history, or perusing the web for definitions of fascism. It describes the US to a tee, from the beginning…or did you forget about that little fascist and first treasury secretary, under Washington, named Hamilton, as one example?

          • George Hollister December 12, 2020

            So I suppose the ancient Romans were fascists, as were the ancient Babylonians, and Egyptians as well. Maybe even the Aztecs, Moche, Chimu, and Incas. It seems fascism has been, and still is pretty popular.

            I hope this is not supposed to be some sort of contest, to determine the most successful forms of historical governance. And hopefully all realize I am being sarcastic here. Hopefully.

          • Harvey Reading December 12, 2020

            George, the term is relatively new, as you know. But, what it describes is ancient, which is why learned people find its meaning difficult to pin down without using terms that were applied to earlier states, terms like extreme nationalism, dictatorship, monarchy, feudalism, etc.

            And why bother anyway? What it describes is as old as human civilization, perhaps even human existence before our so-called civilizing. It describes a large part of the reason the species never will amount to much, except in its own perception of itself…it will have squandered all its non-renewable resources (and probably the renewable resources as well) in its ongoing games of greed and power long before it achieves anything even approaching greatness. I mean, fifty years after landing on the moon, we’re still shooting off bottle rockets, including those of the robber baron who owns Space X, which to me is a bad joke by a bad robber baron, who also produces expensive “electric” cars, that actually run on natural gas and coal.

            I like the term because it only has two syllables, and includes in its hazy definition all that is bad about the nondemocratic human forms of governance, including our own, all the lying blather about us having a democracy notwithstanding; why even bother with the others when two syllables cover them all? Call them what they are: fascist to the hilt.

  4. Brian December 12, 2020

    Wildfires are du rigueur for this planet, and have been since the beginning. Fire is a natural element that you cannot suppress permanently. It will always find a way into an ecosystem. Wildfire science is not new, and it is not extensive. But it is out there. Climate and weather can drive a fire pattern, but the fire regime that we have built up in regions of this country are due to the suppression techniques that we have employed for decades. All too often these suppression techniques are shaped by public opinion, or human habitation. The Great Plains of the United States didn’t just grow as the grasslands, this was a vast area of actual forest that was burned by Native Americans for hunting. Some of the earliest settlers to California would say that the smoke and haze that settled over the state every year would not leave until the winter rains and snow. Fire is the most natural thing that can happen to this planet. It just is. We have to learn to live with it and stop allowing public opinion and newspaper articles to drive our fire policy. Because that’s how we got here. I encourage you to read any number of the books on wildfire science written by Professor Stephen Pyne and to be prepared to change your opinion, ever so slightly, on wildfires in America.

  5. Marmon December 12, 2020

    RE: CANCEL CULTURE

    Anderson should cancel Kunstler before Alicia Bales cancels him.

    Cancel culture (or call-out culture) is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – either online on social media, in the real world, or both. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to be “canceled.”

    Marmon

    • Stephen Rosenthal December 12, 2020

      Ignoring Kunstler has nothing to do with the cancel culture, or, if you prefer, left vs. right. Kunstler is the epitome of the boy who cried wolf, in his case writing the same thing over and over and over again, ad infinitum, from such an illogically biased perspective so as to become boring. There’s no there there anymore.

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