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Mendocino County Today: December 26, 2020

Troughs & Ridges | Wrede Arrested | Blufftop Structure | Grim Mood | Frothy Pacific | Mendo Gems | Rocky Coast | Federal Aid | Christmas Morning | Chinese Food | Cargo Ship | Skyjack Mystery | Downed Redwood | Forest Management | Yesterday's Catch | Point Arena Pier | Chinese Meddling | Scandia | Society Collapsing | Good Fight | US Demolition | Credibility 101 | Expeditionary Force | Radical Jesus | Bachelor Days | Fire Meditation

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A TROUGH WILL GENERATE SHOWERS, a few coastal thunderstorms and high elevation snowfall this morning. Drier conditions are expected later today through tonight as a ridge builds. Another trough will approach on Sunday bringing wrap around precipitation into primarily Mendocino and Lake counties by Sunday evening. (NWS)

YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL: Boonville 1"; Yorkville 1.8"

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Shayne Wrede of Fort Bragg appeared Friday in the Booking log after being booked for murder on the day before Christmas. We assume it was for the apparent fatality mentioned in Thursday’s brief press release (below). We await the follow-up press release.

Shayne Wrede

Wrede was convicted and spent time in prison previously for his participation in a 2008 home invasion robbery at the home of Paula Deeter, former Fort Bragg medical marijuana dispensary owner and former candidate for Fourth District Supervisor.

PREVIOUSLY: On Thursday, December 24, 2020 at approximately 6:30 AM Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a reported traffic collision with a fatality in Caspar. During the initial scene investigation it was determined a shooting had occurred in the city of Fort Bragg which soon thereafter resulted in the traffic collision fatality in Caspar. Sheriff’s Detectives were summoned to the scene and are conducting follow-up investigations, which are still ongoing at this time. Sheriff’s Detectives are working with the Fort Bragg Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and California Department of Justice Criminalist Division. A press release will made public when more information becomes available at the conclusion of the investigation.

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House On Bluff

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NANCY BENNETT, a committee member and the owner of Cowlicks Ice Cream parlor, said that she spoke to several of her fellow business owners downtown and the mood was grim. “They feel that if they don’t have the tourism this winter, they’re not going to make it,” Bennett said.

Committee member Robert Jason Pinoli said that he believed “the governor’s order is wand-waving at best” and that “the city is where we are today because people didn’t listen to stay-at-home orders.” I think that if we start sending the message that we’re closed then we are going to be closed,” he said. “And we’re going to continue to lose more and more businesses in downtown Fort Bragg.”

(From a report by Fort Bragg Advocate reporter Robin Eply on the Visit Fort Bragg Committee meeting, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020.)

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Mendo Bluffs

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by Tina Caputo

With more than 3,800 square miles of rocky coastline, ancient redwood forests, and charming towns to traverse, Mendocino County is brimming with wonders that even some locals have yet to discover. Most folks who’ve spent time in this region have strolled along the lanes of Mendocino Village, taken a trip back in time aboard the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg, and meandered along the Highway 128 Wine Road in the Anderson Valley. Why not venture beyond your go-to spots to add new favorites? Here are 10 of Mendocino County’s most enchanting, lesser-known attractions.

Wild Fish, Little River

Wild Fish offers more than just romantic ocean views. Tucked behind a gas station/post office, the tiny, candlelit restaurant serves terrifically fresh and expertly prepared sustainable seafood dishes. Working with local organic farmers and seafood purveyors, owners Liz and Kelvin Jacobs showcase the region’s bounty through dishes such as bouillabaisse studded with wild-caught fish; roasted whole rock cod; and Fortunate Farm greens.

Fog Eater Café, Mendocino

Billed as “California cuisine with a Southern twang,” this hip Mendocino dining spot dishes up organic vegetarian fare combining the fresh, plant-based ethos of Northern California with the lip-smacking flavors of the deep South. We’re talking vegan pimento cheese, pickled deviled eggs, biscuit sliders filled with fried green tomatoes, and seasonal pies. Wash down all that Fog Eater goodness with a glass of natural wine or a low-ABV cocktail.

Pacific Star Winery, Fort Bragg

Drink in magnificent ocean views at Pacific Star, the only winery set along Mendocino County’s coastal cliffs. Located 12 miles north of Fort Bragg, Pacific Star pairs its wines with crashing waves, and maybe even a glimpse of a passing gray whale. Time your visit for a bonfire Saturday, when guests warm themselves around the fire pit while grilling BYO vittles over the Traeger grill.

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, Ukiah

Take a drive along twisty Orr Springs Road, past Orr's Mineral Hot Springs resort, and you’ll find a remote oasis at Montgomery Woods, one of Mendocino’s lushest and loveliest redwood forests. Find your zen with a soundtrack of birdsong as you walk the serene, two-mile-long Montgomery Trail and marvel at 300-foot-tall coast redwoods—one of which was once believed to be the world’s tallest tree.

Vichy Springs Resort, Ukiah

Historic Vichy Springs Resort is home to North America’s only “Vichy" mineral baths—named for the Vichy waters of France. The resort’s naturally carbonated spring water originates six miles underground and is driven to the surface by expanding carbon dioxide. Some say the warm, bubbly water has magical effects, leaving bathers with a feeling of incredible peace and tranquility. Along with mineral baths, the resort includes 700 acres of walking and hiking trails, an Olympic-size pool, and a country inn.

Thatcher Hotel, Hopland

The former Hopland Inn has been reborn as the Thatcher Hotel. While the hotel is grand and stately on the outside, its refreshingly modern interiors are outfitted with minimalist furniture, hardwood floors, and concrete sinks. The 18-room property includes an absolutely gorgeous wood-paneled library, a historic bar, a gallery showcasing rotating art selections, fire pits, and—some say—a resident ghost.

The Bohemian Chemist, Philo

Newly opened at the Madrones, this Art Deco-inspired spa and apothecary specializes in skincare products and treatments made with one of Mendocino’s most famous sun-grown specialty crops. No, not wine grapes—cannabis. Choose from four different skincare treatments, including the CBD Facial—a rejuvenating experience that provides anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits without any psychoactive effects.

Bohemian Chemist

Smith Story Wine Cellars, Philo

This family-owned operation features delicious (and surprisingly affordable) Anderson Valley and Sonoma County wines—and even some interesting German imports when tariffs allow. Pop into the newly opened Smith Story Weingarten, a dog-friendly patio for tasting and lounging. Smith Story also offers a cool collection of vintage wine and cocktail glasses, plus paintings, poetry books and cookbooks. You may even be able to meet Lord Sandwich, the lovable winery goldendoodle.

Disco Ranch Specialty Market, Boonville

Planning a picnic at one of Mendocino’s fabulous beaches, parks, or wineries? Then boogie on down to Disco Ranch, a must-stop shop for Spanish-style gourmet goodies. Along with snacks like chorizo, black truffle potato chips, and freshly made Spanish tapas, the market has a fantastic selection of international and local wines.

Lauren’s Good Food, Boonville

A local favorite, Lauren’s is the kind of place that invites you to slide into a comfy booth and enjoy some solid home cooking with a local beer or bottle of Anderson Valley wine. The menu features an eclectic array of comfort food, from sesame noodles to one of the best chicken pot pies around, with Mexican fare taking center stage on Mondays.

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Mendocino Coastline

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Fort Bragg City Manager, Tabatha Miller

As we near the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays, I am looking at what the next year will bring. I suspect many of us are looking forward and not backward this year. Monday, December 21, Congress passed a 5,593-page, $2.3 trillion bill, which the L.A. Times indicated was thought to be the largest single piece of legislation in Congressional history.

The bill includes approximately $900 billion for COVID-19 relief, which many Americans have been waiting for months to receive. So there is COVID aid coming. While this is not necessarily city news, it is assistance that should be available starting in the New Year and may help our neighbors, businesses or even ourselves survive this next year.

The headline was the $600 per adult and $600 per child stimulus payments. Those payments are phased out for higher-earning individuals and families. Estimates for when these funds will start to be paid range from next week to the middle of January. This accounts for approximately $166 billion of the $900 billion aid package.

The second most anticipated aid was for workers receiving unemployment benefits. The bill provides an additional $300 per week as a federal subsidy to state benefits, through March 14, 2021. The bill also extended the time that workers can collect state and federal unemployment benefits to 50 weeks and includes aid for self-employed, gig workers and others in nontraditional employment who traditionally do not qualify for unemployment benefits. The jobless aid is estimated at $120 billion.

Funding for small businesses includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans, set-aside funding for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders, funding for nonprofits, local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters. There is also $20 billion for new Economic Injury Disaster Loans grants for businesses in low-income communities and $4.5 billion for Small Business Administration debt relief and lending enhancements. $15 billion is dedicated to funding for entertainment venues, including theaters. In total, $325 billion is allocated for small businesses.

Federal funds of $25 billion will support emergency federal rental assistant programs which will likely be distributed by state and local governments. Similar to the city’s Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program, which converted federal HOME grant funds to COVID rental assistance, these dollars will provide households impacted by COVID-19 with assistance for past-due and current rental payments and utility bill assistance. The city will certainly keep our residents apprised of additional rental and utility assistance programs as funds are released.

Schools are to receive $82 billion for emergency education relief funds. The transportation industry, including transit agencies, airlines, airline contractors, airports, State Departments of Transportation, the motor coaches and Amtrak will receive $45 million. Nutrition and agriculture programs were allocated $26 billion and include additional funding for programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, along with direct payments and loans to farmers and ranchers and funding for local food supply chains, including food banks.

Child care secured $10 billion in emergency funds to be provided to state and local governments through the CCDBG programs, with $250 million set aside for Head Start providers. The US Postal Service will receive forgiveness of a $10 billion CARES Act Loan. $7 billion was allocated for expanding broadband to low-income families, funding telehealth programs and other broadband infrastructure programs. Community Small lending banks are known as Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions received $12 billion to help low-income and minority communities withstand the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Finally, $55 billion will fund vaccine procurement, distribution and testing, tracing and COVID mitigation programs. Funds were specifically set aside to target high risk and underserved areas, including communities of color. An additional $14.5 billion will fund mental and physical health needs in underserved and rural communities, including communities of color and Indian Health Services.

Here at the city, we all wish the community, our residents and businesses the best this holiday season. Happy New Year!

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by Jonah Raskin

I did what Americans Jews are supposed to do on Christmas. I ate Chinese food. Not alone, but with three other members of my family: my two younger brothers and my sister-in-law who was born in Mexico and raised in a religious Roman Catholic household. I've often gone to St. Mary's in San Francisco with Adelina on Easter Sunday, but in many ways she's more Jewish than anyone else in the family. She's the one who wants to celebrate Hanukkah every year. She also always wants to celebrate Three Kings Day, which falls on January 6 next year and that commemorates the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. Any excuse for a party, especially with dancing. 

To eat Chinese food with my family I drove to San Francisco in the rain. Not a problem. Only drizzle and light traffic. The food arrived late. My brother, Daniel, who picked up the food from Koi Palace in Daly City, said there was a long line and that most of the customers were Chinese.

After he arrived, we ate in the garage beneath the house where my brother, Adam, and his wife, Adelina, live at Ocean Beach, a neighborhood that has recently become a destination for Russian immigrants. We all wore masks, except when we were eating and drinking, both hot tea and tequila, and we also did the social distancing thing. The food was mostly vegetarian, in deference to Adam who never eats meat. There was one spicy chicken dish with peanuts and there were potstickers and a noodle dish.

Why Jews traditionally eat Chinese food on Christmas is a subject that has been written about and discussed for decades. You might have heard of it.

Some say it's because Chinese restaurants are always open on Christmas, and because Jews don't have anything better to do on Christmas than eat chop suey, wonton soup and fried rice. Another story has it that the Lower East Side, the old New York neighborhood where Jews lived for decades, was next to Chinatown and therefore convenient. Also, there's no dairy in Chinese cuisine. In the old days and in observant families today, Jews would not mix meat with dairy. With the exception of pork and shellfish, a great deal of Chinese food appeals to religious Jews, as well as to Jews who don't attend synagogue or observe Jewish holidays. Dishes like wonton soup are nearly identical to Jewish style chicken soup with kreplach, which are boiled dumplings filled with meat or vegetables. 

In my own family, we celebrated Christmas with a tree and presents in the 1940s and 1950s. When I was growing up, we did not go to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas, though my father had two friends who were Chinese and who owned restaurants. We ate at one of them on Sunday afternoons because we loved wonton soup, egg rolls, spare ribs and steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions. Also, because going out gave my mother a day off from cooking for her husband and three sons. 

My brother, Adam, explained midway through the meal in the garage that there are three kinds of Jews: those who proclaimed their Jewish identity at every opportunity; those who hide it or deny it; and those who neither proclaim nor conceal, but who are so obviously Jewish there is no need for either. Adam considers himself so obviously a Jew that there's nothing to be said on the subject, though he can also pass for Turkish and Egyptian, a Buddhist and a Muslim, which comes in handy when he works as a private investigator or PI. He's a kind of Jewish Everyman.

As usually, we didn't talk about Israel. What's there to say that hasn't already been said a zillion times before? I don't have anything new to say on the subject. We did talk about food and about restaurants, including Sammy's Romanina Steakhouse in New York, and Moishes in Montreal, where Adam went to college and that was founded by Moishe Lighter, an immigrant to Canada from Romania.

At our Chinese feast on Christmas this year, Adam had the last words, which weren't in English, Yiddish or Hebrew, but in Spanish, which he speaks like a native and that he translated as, "We will help one another." Isn't that what families are supposed to be for, and don't we all belong to the family of humanity that inhabits the planet?

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Ship Off Mendo Coast

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by Mark Scaramella

It happened on November 24, 1971. Soon after the take-off of a Northwest Orient 727 in Portland, Oregon, a man wearing a business suit and dark sunglasses, later misidentified as "D.B. Cooper" (he bought a ticket as Dan Cooper) opened his briefcase to show a flight attendant what looked like a bomb.

'Cooper' calmly demanded $200,000 and four parachutes to be delivered to him when the plane landed in Seattle. In Seattle the passengers were released, the ransom and parachutes delivered.

Demonstrating a basic understanding of aircraft operations, Cooper told the pilot to head for Mexico at the slowest possible speed. He also ordered that the plane not go above 10,000 feet (the elevation above which oxygen is usually required) and that the landing gear remain down and the flaps lowered to a 15 degree angle, and the cabin remain unpressurized.

About 40 minutes after takeoff the tail door/rear steps dropped down and Cooper parachuted into the air over the heavily forested Oregon wilderness in the Columbia River basin with the $200,000. 

He was never to be seen or heard from again.

The sheer audacity of the hijacking, along with Cooper's apparent successful get-away despite hundreds of FBI and other investigations and several books over the next 45 years, turned the case into a legend and one of the most closely watched mysteries in modern crime.

The numbered bills Cooper got away with have never turned up except for $5,800 in a few deteriorated bundles found by a young boy playing on a riverbank in Oregon, a tributary of the Columbia — a discovery that lead to more speculation about the case and how it got there (including a theory that it was planted as a red-herring by Cooper, and the boy was tipped off somehow to go there and look!).

Almost five months after Cooper's hijacking, a man named Richard McCoy Jr. was caught after a similar hijacking near Utah (this time getting $500k). Given the similarity of McCoy's caper to the D.B. Cooper hijacking, McCoy was identified as a prime suspect to be D.B. Cooper. 

McCoy denied being Cooper but he was convicted of the second hijacking and subsequently killed by the FBI after he escaped from prison and fired at the G-Men attempting to recapture him in August of 1974. 

Asked if he was D.B. Cooper, McCoy famously said he didn't do it because he would have asked for $500,000, not a paltry $200,000. Also, McCoy supposedly didn't fit the description given by the flight attendants, and DNA recovered from a tie and tie clasp left on the plane by Cooper didn't match McCoy.

To this day, the case remains officially unsolved and the FBI has said they've finally closed the case unless new information comes to light.

There have been several theories proposed for the case besides McCoy.

Our favorite, but the least likely, is that there never was a D.B. Cooper and that the whole caper was dreamed up by the flight crew.

An obvious possibility is that the hijacker has simply eluded authorities and may have died of natural causes by now, having not spent the money.

There's a very plausible theory that when Cooper jumped out of back of the plane the winds aloft blew him into a frigid reservoir, where he got tangled up in his chute and drowned, never to be found.

The latest theory, and one which we find the most intriguing, is that D.B. Cooper was one Robert Rackstraw as presented in Thomas Colbert's recent book “The Last Master Outlaw: How he outfoxed the FBI six times but not a cold case team” — and other outlets.

Colbert has amassed dozens of indicators and circumstantial evidence that point at Rackstraw, including a coded “confession” Colbert claims to have discovered. 

A youtube interview with Colbert about his findings and his book is at:

And his book has been summarized on line:

But the Rackstraw as Cooper theory — including Rackstraw as possible CIA informat who wasn't investigated — has its own convoluted backstory as told extensively in the Hollywood Reporter.

"Has the Mystery of Skyjacker D.B. Cooper Finally Been Solved? A TV Newsman's Obsessive Quest:

Here's the FBI's take on the case:

Suspect Robert Rackstraw died in 2019 in Oregon.


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by Tom Smythe

The forests of today are a lot different than the forests of 170 years ago on the North Coast. Back then there were more hardwoods, perennial grasses and fewer conifers confined to patches of old-growth timber.

Native Americans cultivated the grasses and hardwood with burning to promote acorn growth and remove dry grass so new shoots could spring up. Fire also prevented brush and conifer encroachment into the grasslands.

Herds of elk and deer were plentiful and grazed the grasses down and moved on.

Native Americans used trees, acorns and grasses as fuel, food and building materials. The frequent low-burning fires kept fuel loads down, and thick bark on old-growth conifer protected them from being destroyed.

All that changed when “modern civilization” found this paradise. Sheep were introduced into these luscious grasslands in the latter half of the 19th century and grazed off the perennial grasses that kept conifer in check and controlled erosion, allowing other woody perennials — in the form of conifer, hardwood and brush — to take over with only annual grasses for grazing.

Control burning stopped by the 1950s, or became too dangerous, too expensive or used so infrequently that it provided little protection against fuel build up and fire.

Logging prior to and immediately after World War II created second-growth timber covering larger areas, crowding out oak woodlands with lower canopies and higher stand densities. These stands now have huge fuel buildup on the forest floor, and uneven age management provides trees of all sizes to perpetuate good ladder fuels.

In the latter half of the 20th century people moved into the wildland with large, relatively unchecked development.

Hence the perfect storm of recent fires in Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma and Trinity counties that “management” over the past 170 years or so created.

We talk about control burns but density of houses, air quality, costs associated with biological studies, standby equipment, liability etc., make it impractical to achieve any reasonable dent in fuel load.

Landowners will thin around their homes where they can, but the costs on a larger scale with hand work are high, and there’s nowhere to go with the thinned biomass.

We will continue to have housing in wildland because the development is relentless. We have to build to house people. We want single-family dwellings. Unless we change the norm with extremely high-density housing in cities, it will not remain the same. We will continue to have significant communities in the wildland or wildland interface. Trees, grass and brush grow, even without as much rain as before.

The most logical answer to treat fuel loads on a large scale is to promote and subsidize biomass plants.

Yes, they take water, and they produce emissions, both from burning oil and wood, but they are considered carbon neutral, and the alternatives are too expensive and less likely to achieve the desired result.

It may take an influx of government subsidies, but it is really the only answer in the short term. Short term is 30-40 years.

Build them in proximity to the fuel sources. Make them small as possible, with a short span of use. Once fuel is treated in an area, keep it reduced with understory burning, grazing or low use of herbicides. Promote growth of larger trees with thicker bark, and concentrate timber management in areas without people.

The current methods aren’t working, and after a couple more years of millions of acres burned, it may not make a difference. But it is the best way to reduce catastrophic fire on a large scale in our near future.

(Tom Smythe is a consulting forester. He lives in Laytonville.)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 25, 2020

Elms, Gomez, Hoaglin, Maynard

CHRISTOPHER ELMS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

FRANCISCO GOMEZ JR., Vallejo/Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

GARRIE HOAGLIN, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

Sanchez, Stevenson, Wrede

SAMUEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

KENDRA STEVENSON, Laytonville. DUI-drugs&alcohol causing injury, felony hit&run resulting in death or injury.

SHAYNE WREDE, Fort Bragg. Murder, county parole violation.

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Point Arena Pier

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by James Kunstler

And so, on Christmas morning, having suffered the night visitations of vexing spirits — or was that just the strange interaction of Zyprexa and Zolpidem — Joe Biden woke up (in a manner of speaking) to find himself transformed. He was no longer dogged by the prospect of being president of the US, but, rather, was convinced he had become the provincial plenipotentiary of a Chinese overseas possession known as Golden Wok West, where CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping can order up any asset for take-out. What a relief, Joe thought, as they brought in his morning meds. Here, now, was a one-horse pony of a different color, Joe mused, chugging down his 5mg of Haldol.

Ol’ Joe went to bed on the blessed silent night fretting that soon he’d have to answer to all those caterwauling losers about to be tossed from their McHouses and apartments after nearly a year of nonpayment. But no, the shabby dwellings would now just become the property of the People’s Liberation Army, as that very fine organization prepared to sort things out in the flea market once known as America.

Was there anything left of value? Wasn’t that a puzzlement? The former so-called Yang-kees had squandered all their laid-up treasure turning their continent into a demolition derby — six-laners lined by muffler shops, chain stores, and fried food shacks — and when all their financial resources were used up, they’d borrowed so much more money that all the certified public accountants who ever lived could not keep up with the compounded interest calculations if they worked double-shifts until the end of time. In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.

Now, all that was left for Joe Biden to do was to sign some paperwork and, maybe three times a week, emerge from his basement to smile and explain to eager members of the inquisitive news media why he preferred General Tso’s Chicken over Hunan Beef. At least that’s how things seemed to shake out in Joe Biden’s brain on Christmas morning as Dr. Jill helped him to the bathroom….

Then, there was the Golden Golem of Greatness, a.k.a. President Donald Trump. He arose from his rococo bed in Mar Lago unmolested by spookish visitations, but, rather, faced with some rather stark decisions about how to proceed with the possible takeover of the USA by agents of China. There was some sentiment among his advisors to send out US marshals and start arresting hundreds of persons suspected of gaming the recent election by means of ballot fraud and fiddling with Dominion vote tabulation machines. Or, other advisors countered, he might just tough it out until the great showdown in Congress January 6, when Vice President Mike Pence would preside over the touchy matter of which electoral delegation was worthy of pitching its votes one way or the other.

All this was a procedure that few Americans actually understood, but it did follow the recondite passages in the constitution regarding disputed elections… and it had been trotted out a couple of times before — 1824 and 1876 — in our now longish history of operating as a republic. It would require the state legislators of various swing states to search their very souls as they appeared to defy the official vote tabulation, and therefore some sense of the democratic underlayment to this complex business of legitimizing government. But the language of the constitution did, in fact, leave it up to them.

Half the nation would howl and commence to torching whatever was left to destroy in cities owned by Democratic Party mayors and governors — who would just stand by and let it rip. The 2018 Executive Order 13848 provides a justification for contending with foreign interference in a federal election (and its unfortunate potential after-effects, like rioting and looting). Ironic, I’m sure you are thinking, after Mr. Trump’s antagonists pressed that same foreign interference stratagem falsely back in 2016, and used it as a bludgeon to beat him about the head for four years. But perhaps there is something to it this time, and maybe the foreign power in question this time is China, not Russia. Where’s the evidence? You might prepare yourself to see it. I think it’s coming. This was a hard enough year, of course, without completely demolishing what little remained of America’s battered Christmas spirit. But that will be over in a few hours. And now that you’ve opened your meager presents, and gone through the other ritual motions of the holiday, the nation’s mood shifts from nervous repose to a determined resolution of this disgraceful affront to our honor. Are you ready for it?

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

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by Kirkpatrick Sale

Twenty-five years ago, when the high-tech Second Industrial Revolution had just begun, I made a bet with an editor from Wired magazine that global society led by the United States would collapse in the year 2020 from a confluence of causes created by modern technology out of control.

It would be, I said, a mix of ecological disasters including earth overheating and polar ice melting, political disintegration including failed states worldwide and uprisings in major cities, and economic chaos including insurmountable debt and a stock-market crash and depression. He said, “We won’t even be close,” and slapped down a $1,000 check on my desk. Though a tidy sum in those days, I matched it and we settled on a mutual editor friend as the arbiter, to make the call when the time came.

That time, the end of the year 2020, has now indeed come. Who wins?

As to ecological disaster, the evidence is ample even though the response to it has been negligible. The ten hottest years on earth have been between 2005 and 2020, with 2019 the hottest ever recorded and 2020 very close. That means ice melting at a record rate, with significant loss at glaciers around the world, in Greenland, and at the poles, with ice going three times as fast in the last three years in the Antarctic as just ten years ago and the Arctic in what a scientist at the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University has called a “death spiral.” The U.N. climate panel, which puts the blame for global warming on “greenhouse gasses,” says these must cease by 2030, a goal that not a single major country is capable of meeting.

Add to this the assault on the world’s oceans through acidification and overheating, including 60 per cent of the world’s fisheries fished to capacity and 33 per cent overfished, and the extinction of species at a rate that one scientific team in 2017 said offers “a dismal picture of the future of life,” and it may fairly be said that an ecological collapse is well underway if not yet quite complete.

As to political disintegration, take first the alarming state of the world where no less than 65 countries are now at war and there are said to be 638 other conflicts (involving separatist militias, armed drug bands, terrorist organizations, and the like) now raging. An annual index of “fragile states” that came out earlier this year found 24 countries at a “high warning” level, 22 at an “alert” level, 5 at “high alert,” and 4 “very high”—amounting to 30 per cent of the world’s governments being equivalent to failed states. And that was before the pandemic hit, a catastrophe that has added almost all third-world and a few developed countries to that list.

But the really interesting case of political collapse is right here. The inability of our political institutions to cope with the coronavirus for a year, and the spread now at record levels, and then the inability of the nation to hold an election without at least the strong suspicion of fraud, has certainly undercut a confidence in national government that has grown increasingly meager in the last few decades anyway. In the Wall Street Journal recently Gerald Seib pointed out that “this year’s election can be seen as the culmination of a two-decade period of decline in faith in the basic building blocks of democracy”—quite an obituary for a system once happy to proclaim its virtues around the world.

Add to that a general feeling that the Federal government just isn’t working, or as the Pew Research people put it, only 17 per cent of Americans trust the government “to do the right thing just about always.” It seems clear that loyalty to a cause or a race or an ideology is far greater than loyalty to the state, no longer quite seen as legitimate, and many commentators these days suggest that some form of separation, even a civil war, is inevitable. Political collapse, then, if not here would seem to be just around the corner.

And lastly the underlying depression that we have been in since March—despite the frantic gyrations of a central bank-fueled stock market—is just one sign that the American economy, like those of most of the Western world, is foundering. And no wonder: it is straining under the weight of a national debt of at least $27 trillion and national unfunded liabilities of more than $100 trillion, with a GDP of just $21 trillion to manage it with. But we have plenty of company—the world’s debt was a staggering $258 trillion at the start of the pandemic, some 320 per cent bigger than the world’s GDP, meaning we’re all living in a pipe dream unable to pay the piper.

And there’s still a few days left in a year that has exposed the weaknesses of the world system as never before.

(Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of twelve books over fifty years and lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.)

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The record of history — if there is such a thing in the future — will record that the high point of the American Experiment was the decade of the 1950s. Sure, there was the ugliness of racial injustice and bland conformity. But it also was the decade of the peak of middle-class American prosperity and national civility. And there was something else, too. A sense of HOPE reigned supreme. Hope that you and your kids could succeed. Hope that Tomorrow will be better than today. The hope born of a belief that as a Nation we stood for something special and we were on the right track. Little did we know that the Dark State (which had already long existed) had well-planned the demolition of the USA beginning with deindustrialization and propaganda programs for our youth and other hidden attacks on Americans and then coming soon… the murder of an American president.

The removal of JFK was the undeniable turning point for the Nation and for the loss of the sense of HOPE when the Nation fully went off the disappearing rails and began a long slow-running derailment and wreckage (just as the real American railroads were being erased and consolidated into nothingness). From that moment forward, the demolition project was on in full effect. These days, we are simply getting to the End Game of this long project of self destruction and loss and erasure of National spirit.

The complete demolition of the Christmas spirit… of OUR spirit — and the theological and spiritual underpinnings of the Christmas season, is the climax-shot of all this foreplay if you know what I mean. That’s when the very last of the air is let out of the American psyche balloon and myth of Exceptionalism and then fear and confusion and rootlessness emerges in the aftermath to soon consume the Nation completely thus finishing the Grand American Demolition Project.

Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners once said, “Be kind to the people on the way UP, because you’re going to meet the same people… on the way DOWN.” To which his pal Norton replied, “How true! Happens to me every day in the Sewer”. To that, we could all say, happens to us every day living in The Great American Swamp.

So the lesson for 2021? Be kind.

* * *


Until Trump said it,
I assumed it might be true.
Now I’m sure it’s not.

—Jim Luther

* * *

* * *

DAVID SEVERN WRITES: "As a Christian you might want to read this."

The Forgotten Radicalism of Jesus Christ: First-century Christians weren’t prepared for what a truly inclusive figure he was, and what was true then is still true today.

* * *

As Francis patiently modeled for his girlfriend's Etsy store, he reminisced fondly about his bachelor days.

* * *


The deer were bounding like blown leaves 
Under the smoke in front the roaring wave of the brush-fire; 
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught. 
Beauty is not always lovely; the fire was beautiful, the terror 
Of the deer was beautiful; and when I returned 
Down the back slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle 
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine, 
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in the folded storms of his shoulders 
He had come from far off for the good hunting 
With fire for his beater to drive the game; the sky was merciless 
Blue, and the hills merciless black, 
The sombre-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them. 
I thought, painfully, but the whole mind, 
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.

— Robinson Jeffers


  1. Stephen Dunlap December 26, 2020

    I agree with David Severn. I have become very disappointed with many of my Christian friends and their angst & anger towards others instead of reaching out to them in peace. There is a lot more to life than politics my brothers & sisters.

  2. George Hollister December 26, 2020

    I don’t necessarily agree with everything Tom Smythe is saying in his narrative to support the need for biomass plants, but he is essentially correct. The proposal faces a fierce headwind though, that requires our dominant city based society to change its philosophical, and faith based perception about the human role in our forest, and wild land environment.

    • Harvey Reading December 26, 2020

      I believe you have some “faith based” notions yourself, George, influenced by dominionist religious beliefs, and overfed by the lunatic-fringe propaganda tanks on the right.

  3. Harvey Reading December 26, 2020

    Shootin’ Irons, Fireworks, and Coffee Roasting; a Report from Cowpie, WY

    Over the weekend and earlier in the week, we had a couple of light snows, maybe half an inch total, but it stuck around until around Tuesday. On Monday, the dirt roads locally were covered and the weather was cold, so it was possible to drive the dirt roads without making ruts and splashing mud all over the undercarriage. On Monday and Tuesday, it was kinda slushy, so my traveling companion had to make do with four circuits of the block (one mile) for his only daily outing. By Wednesday, he was getting antsy. Every time I would head for the bedroom, he would follow, expecting me to don my boots and take him for a ride.

    Wednesday dawned, clear and warm, with most of the snow gone from the paved streets, and even most of it gone from the graveled streets in town, so, a little after noon, off we went to check out the roads south of town. The “main” road was clear. It was also clear of the washboards that overuse during the covid summer had wrought. The county had managed that feat…just in time for the cow-hauling trucks to pick up a small part of Wyoming’s tiny overall contribution to the beef produced in the country (about one or two percent of the national total–look it up).

    The “secondary” dirt road that branches off the “main” dirt road a few miles south of Cowpie was clear and dry, too. The snow had been just enough that its melting compacted the inch-or-two deep layer of fine, silt-like dust that had accumulated over the summer, meaning that we were not followed by a cloud of dust as we traveled about 13 miles to the east, in a fruitless search for antelope to view and at which to bark, for my companion.

    On Thursday, aka Christmas Eve, we traveled a shorter distance down the “secondary” road and were rewarded with a nice herd of about forty antelope, close enough to the road that Diamond was able to bark to his heart’s content at them, as they grazed and, as usual, gazed and wondered at the odd being in the cab of the truck who was making such a racket. The “hunt” had been successful and we turned around to head for home.

    On the way back to the “main” road, I spotted a flat-bed truck parked along the north side of the road. A target with some weird drawing on it was set up about fifty yards to the north and a guy wearing hearing protectors was getting something from the cab. We rode on.

    That evening, at about nine thirty, I heard an awful booming racket. WTF, I wondered, then stepped out onto the back porch to be assaulted by the visual and aural display of skyrockets and cherry bombs. “Hey, you a–holes!” I shouted as loudly as I could, “this is Christmas Eve, not New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July. Cut the noise!” I went back into the house as the noise died down. I left a phone message at the Town Hall number asking where the hell the town clowns were as well as asking if town government had missed the message sent to them on election day, as two of their favorite council members running for reelection had been ushered from office…the mayor would have been sh-t-canned too, except there is no recall for mayors in Wyoming, and he has two more years left in his term of office.

    The next morning, Christmas day, my dog friend and I went out for a another ride, me figuring that most people would be stuffing themselves at home. Apparently they were, since we saw almost no traffic on the main street of Cowpie, and none on the dirt roads. I did note that the target to the north of the road was still set up. It was effen glorious out, even if we saw no antelope. I spied some grazing about three hundred yards from us at one point, but dogs have crummy distance vision and these guys weren’t moving, so he didn’t get excited.

    On the way home, we stopped at the target that had been set up the day before. I wanted to see what the picture on it was. After exiting the truck, I first noted about two dozen .223 shell casings, meaning the idiot probably had an AR. The target itself had bullet holes strewn randomly about, a few of them actually hitting within the six-inch area where they were supposed to be, which is typical for AR users (even at only 50 yards)–they’re not only litterbugs, but tend to be lousy shots as well, any NRA propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding. The target looked like it had cost some money, having a metal frame complete with legs driven into the ground for support. I don’t know if the guy thought he would leave it permanently (which is littering on Bureau of Land Management property) or just was disgusted with his shooting. I know I would be the latter, but then, I wouldn’t give two cents for an AR. The picture on one side of target was a poorly done head and neck shot of what appeared to be a deer or elk. On the way back to our little truck, I spotted a .223 casing with the bullet still attached. I picked it up, saw no indentation on the primer suggesting it was a dud, and took it with me. Maybe some fine day I’ll give it to someone with a .223.

    Today, the day after Xmas, I roasted coffee. I’ve been drinking the junk since the early 70s, so it’s just another bad habit. I never frequented coffee shops but drank plenty at work, cafes, home, and restaurants over the years, so became hooked. It angered me that the coffee barons got away with creating the 13-ounce pound in the early 70s. Other food barons soon followed suit, to the point that I believe it’s impossible to even get a true half-gallon of ice cream now, and most things come in “slightly” smaller quantities–for a greater unit cost. And don’t get me started on toilet paper, where square footage has been dropping since about halfway through the first decade of this century. They short us on everything because of their greed.

    It also angered me that ground coffee went stale after a few days, even if stored in the freezer. So, shortly after moving here, I started buying green coffee beans from a vendor in Oakland. The beans keep a good, long time and are fairly cheap if bought in 20-pound lots. I roast it, about weekly, using a Milwaukee heat gun (plus a so-far-unused spare), directed at a colander containing about a cup of beans, mounted atop the large pot it came with, and stirred with an ancient stainless steel cooking spoon. Best done outside, unless you like lots of smoke in the house.

    So far no response from town guvamint.

    • Harvey Reading December 26, 2020

      Third sentence, first paragraph, strike “Monday and”. NEVER edit your own writing…sorry.

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