Dry Day | 19 Cases | FB Testing | National Guard | Anytime Saloon | House Passes | Replacing Lee | Highway 128 | Richardson Grove | Conjunction Fairy | Zittleman's Groceries | Big Signal | Yesterday's Catch | Windom Place | Air Travel | Leverage/Deploy | Mannix Building | Reparations | AV High | Moderate Rot | Boonville Garage | Strange Winter | Quake Damage | Qualified Leaders | Chinatown 1913 | Social Security | Kary Mullis | Future Trump | Voter Drive | Tabloid History | Disappointing Date
DRY WEATHER is forecast through tonight. The next chance for rain will arrive Wednesday afternoon and evening. Some showers may linger Thursday morning, however precipitation is expected to wind down through the day. Wet weather will likely return on Friday and then persist through the weekend. (NWS)
19 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendo on Monday, bringing the total up to 2425.
COVID TESTING IN FORT BRAGG
The traveling OptumServe testing team will be offering its weekly free testing every Tuesday at Fort Bragg’s Veteran’s Hall, 360 N. Harrison Street.
It is recommended to pre-register at LHI.CARE/COVIDTESTING before arriving Tuesday morning at 9:00 am for a test. LHI will issue you a Patient ID number. Please bring your assigned Patient ID number with you on Tuesday morning. Test are first come, first serve.
In order to keep testing available in Fort Bragg, the number of tests conducted must meet the capacity available therefore, let’s ensure we meet the required numbers. For questions related to this information, please call the Mendocino County COVID Call Center at (707) 472-2759, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm.
REDWOOD EMPIRE FOOD BANK IN LINE FOR EXTENDED NATIONAL GUARD ASSISTANCE
Gov. Gavin Newsom is considering a request from 19 state lawmakers for a one-year extension of the California National Guard’s deployment to food banks in need of another boost in personnel amid the pandemic, which has also heightened the demand for food distribution.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES passed a bill early Monday evening that would increase Americans' stimulus checks to $2,000 - as Trump had demanded. Democrats used a fast-track procedure to get the bill through, meaning two-thirds of the House needed to sign on. And did. Will it get through the Senate? Ask Mitch.
CITY COUNCIL VACANCY: "Qualified candidates must reside in Fort Bragg City limits, be at least 18 years of age, and registered to vote in the City of Fort Bragg."
APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE FOR CITY COUNCILMEMBER APPOINTMENT
Applications are currently being accepted for the City Council seat vacated by William Lee on December 31, 2020. This is an opportunity to serve Fort Bragg, without investing the time and expense of campaigning. City residents interested in this opportunity may apply by completing an application. The application is available in English or Spanish on the City’s website or may be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (707) 961-2823. The appointment term is just under two years and will expire after the November 2022 election.
Qualified candidates must reside in Fort Bragg City limits, be at least 18 years of age, and registered to vote in the City of Fort Bragg. The five-member City Council serves as the legislative body of the City and is responsible for setting policy, adopting the annual budget, adopting laws, determining services to be provided and the funding levels, and appointing citizens to its advisory boards and commissions. Councilmembers receive health benefits for themselves and their dependents and a $300 per month stipend, plus an extra $100 per month when business of the Municipal Improvement District is discussed.
Application materials are due to the City Clerk by Friday, January 29, 2021. Application materials may be mailed to the City of Fort Bragg, 416 N. Franklin Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, placed in the drop box to the left of the entry to City Hall (416 N. Franklin Street), or emailed to June Lemos, City Clerk, at email@example.com. The City Council anticipates reviewing applications and conducting interviews the second week of February 2021, and swearing in the new Councilmember on February 22, 2021.
ALONG HIGHWAY 128
SAVE RICHARDSON GROVE
Despite the recent heartbreaking court decision that allows Cal Trans to widen the 101 through the ancient Redwoods grove, the Richardson Grove coalition will not stop and is moving ahead with all legal options.
Our new legal options are not promising and we know that in order to save these Redwoods we need massive public support.
These trees have been protected by local folks for years and we need you to do it again.
You can help us to reach out to several other organizations that could be more supportive such as the Save The Redwoods League, the Siscone Tribal Council, Senator McGuire, and Governor Newsom.
It is also important that Supervisor Fennell and Supervisor Bass hear from their constituents.
If you write to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors be sure to thank them for their recent positive changes in policy. If you are close to any of these folks please let them know with an email, call or better yet a written letter that you want and need them to help to save these trees. This will really help.
For an excellent detailed account of the history and current situation read Tom Wheeler’s work at firstname.lastname@example.org
We need to reboot the grassroots approach with powerful personal contacts from you before we mount a more wide spread organized email campaign.
We will keep the AVA posted with info on actions.
These trees have been protected by local folks for years and we need you to do it again.
Thank you from the Richardson Grove Coalition
- Supervisor Fennell is at email@example.com
- Supervisor Bass is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Senator McGuire is at email@example.com
- Governor Newsom is at https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/
- Save the Redwoods is at www.savetheredwoods.org
- Board of Supervisors Is at humboldtgov.org/167/Board-of-Supervisors
- Siscone tribal council is at firstname.lastname@example.org
- To donate go to email@example.com
NIGHT LIGHT OF THE NORTH COAST CONJUNCTION: SATURN OVERTAKES JUPITER
by David Wilson
Racing around the sun like slot cars on an elliptical track, Earth was on an inside line and coming around fast. Jupiter and Saturn were in view ahead. Jupiter was taking a much wider line, and Saturn was lazily rounding the bend still farther out. Earth would overtake them. Again. The race has been on for billions of years, and Earth never tires of lapping her bigger sisters. This time it appeared she would lap them both at the same time, and for a moment Earth, Jupiter and Saturn would line up in cosmic formation.
Or close enough. It is called a great conjunction when Jupiter and Saturn align closely as seen from Earth. This happens fairly frequently, about every 20 years. But rarely do the two great gas giants appear in such close proximity to each other as they did for us on December 21, 2020: it had been almost 800 years since they last appeared this close together in a visible part of the sky. Chalk up something good for the year 2020.
For weeks I waited with the rest of the world for it to happen. Saturn had trailed Jupiter across the sky all season. At the great conjunction she would finally appear to overtake the larger planet. This time, the event would be on the winter solstice. Morrigan Crowl and I planned to do a shoot together to commemorate the rare event.
Instead it clouded over, and then rained. Thank you, 2020. (But the comet back in July was great, I admit).
The next day, December 22, 2020, the skies were beautiful. But in the slot car race of the planets, Earth had already lapped the gas giants, and now the smaller dot of Saturn was ahead of Jupiter. The solstice had passed as well. Yet still it was magnificent. So it was that out beneath a starry sky, in a world illuminated by the waxing moon, Morrigan and I created an image in homage to the rare winter solstice great conjunction.
To read previous entries of “Night Light of the North Coast,” click on David’s name above the article. To keep abreast of his most current photography or purchase a print, visit and contact him at his website mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx.
PRESSER FROM THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE:
Upper Lake District Ranger Frank Aebly issued a communications use lease for the Big Signal Peak communication site project in Mendocino County on the Mendocino National Forest on December 24, 2020. This lease allows the installation of an additional wireless communications tower at an existing telecommunication site on National Forest System lands.
Forest Engineer Shannon Pozas says, “This project will contribute to the existing telecommunications infrastructure on Big Signal that is an integral part of the agency’s goal of providing quality communication access to all Americans.”
The project is located approximately 18 miles northeast of Willits, California and is adjacent to the Sanhedrin Wilderness. The telecommunications services provided at this site will contribute to the safety of the surrounding communities. The Mendocino National Forest worked in collaboration with Mendocino County Emergency Services to reach a solution to provide this communications site while not interfering with existing county emergency operations and maintenance.
Mendocino Forest Supervisor Ann Carlson adds, “Issuing this lease will bring important internet services to rural communities, like Covelo and Laytonville, during a time when telework and distance learning for families is ever more important due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Project implementation may occur immediately.
AND ELICITED these two responses:
 I smell bullshit!!! What they are really saying is they are going to put up 5G death towers. Do some research and you will see the danger of 5G technology. While we have been under house arrest (lock downs) since earlier this year they have been erecting these death towers everywhere, even the most rural areas. We will be living in a giant microwave oven. So many people will get sick and they will say it’s covid! Get ready for those forced vaccinations, and the vaccination passport if you want to go anywhere. Want to buy food for your family, show your vaccination card! Shelter lines stretching around the corner… Welcome to the new world order!!! The great reset is here! Will you comply???
 5G causes murder hornets! Earth is a flat chemtrail! Study it out!!!!
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 28, 2020
NICHOLAS HALVORSEN, Fort Bragg. Elder abuse with great bodily harm or death. (Frequent flyer.)
ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
PENNY MCAFEE, Potter Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs, petty theft with priors, suspended license.
KEVIN PIKE, Willits. Battery on emergency personnel, resisting.
NATHAN VARGAS, Las Vegas/Dos Rios. Attempted murder, robbery, kidnapping for robbery/rape, use of weapon during felony, and several related special allegations and enhancements. (Booking photo not yet available*)
*Background: Nathan Vargas was the ringleader of the home invasion pot robbery back in October who tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the chin but didn’t succeed and was sent to the hospital at the time for treatment of his self-inflicted gunshot wound. Apparently, Nathan Vargas is now out of the hospital and has been returned to Mendocino County to face the multiple felony charges against him. Bail was set at $1.4 million.) See: www.theava.com/archives/137151
AIR TRAVEL in the U.S. over the Christmas weekend was the highest it’s been during the pandemic. It’s still much lower than last year: About 3.8 million people passed through airports from Dec. 23 to Dec. 26, compared with 9.5 million over the same days in 2019. (NYTimes)
Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that California has opted in to the federal COVID-19 Pharmacy Partnership. At no cost to the state or local government, CVS and Walgreens will administer the Pfizer vaccine to residents and staff in long-term care facilities. Starting today, CVS and Walgreens will start with nursing homes, which will take an estimated 3-4 weeks, and then vaccinate staff and residents in assisted living, residential care and other long-term care facilities.
“Vaccinating those most vulnerable among us is critical to fighting this virus,” said Governor Newsom. “By leveraging CVS and Walgreens resources, we can effectively deploy vaccines to residents and staff at our long-term care facilities, which are at higher risk of Covid transmission – and do it at no cost to the state or local government.”
The program will enable counties to leverage CVS and Walgreens pharmacy staff to administer the vaccine more broadly with pharmacy staff going directly to care facilities. Skilled Nursing Facilities will receive vaccine from staff from CVS and Walgreens. Approximately 499 nursing homes will be provided vaccine by CVS and 357 by Walgreens. The vaccines will be administered by pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and nurses. Pharmacy technicians are participating under a recent waiver by the Board of Pharmacy that requires appropriate supervision under California law and specialized training.
Let's begin with our pea brain governor way up there in that ivory tower in Sacto.
Slavery began in the late 1800s. Let's admit that it was wrong and horrific in many cases.
Moving forward I see a lot being done in a great number of areas, slower than we like but moving.
I see a great number of blacks driving better cars, wearing better shoes with lots and lots of bling that I cannot afford. No complaints, I'm getting on just fine.
I would not take anything away from those who work hard, take care of their kids and make them get an education. It has been said before but perhaps we should try just a little harder to instill the importance of an education. That would solve a lot of today's problems. This majority if not all young perps are not doing well or even going to school.
We all need to work hard to educate the youth of today. How about graduation allowing protests that burn our flag, burn and loot and tear down statues as our seated adults do not do their jobs and should be held accountable.
If you dig further into that pea brain but not too far because you'll come out the other side due to size. Mr. Big Shot Great Potentate, what are we doing about all (or some) of the American Indians who had their ancestral land stolen, who were lied to, beaten and shot on a daily basis by our government? Where is your investigation that could give credence to some kind of compensating favor to surviving Indians? I see and hear nothing! Why?
So far the only thing in the superficial cauldron of flash and promise is all hat and no cattle!
What about the ancestors of Chinese who were held in captivity back in the 1850s gold rush? Beaten and starved and worked to death in most cases with little or no pay.
Wait a minute. Backup the bus: what's on tap for the few ancestors of the American/Japanese they put out in the hot concentration camps in the Arizona desert? Their jobs and businesses were stolen with no replacement from you or your ilk after the war. Why?
And now you want to look at financially helping the ancestors of black slaves?
Why just the black persuasion? American Indians, Chinese, Japanese must also be considered if the black folks are getting something or anything. Give it some thought. It would appear on the surface our great grandiose flimflamer is attempting to stay afloat on a champagne diet with a beer income.
Gran says: Send them all here to our ranch house. We’ll give them an extra batch of peanut butter cookies. Yell out back, tell the twins, Frick & Frack, to get out of the irrigation ditch and put their clothes back on. There hasn’t been any water in the ditch for the last three months, not that they would know the difference. And tell Betty Sue her Pa is looking for her. Oh my! No water?
Love you, Gran.
God bless America, the Donald, Betty Sue, Jerry Philbrick
Mad -- You Think!
NEERA TANDEN & ANTONY BLINKEN Personify the “Moderate” Rot at the Top of the Democratic Party
by Norman Solomon
Sometimes a couple of nominations convey an incoming president's basic mindset and worldview. That's how it seems with Joe Biden's choices to run the Office of Management and Budget and the State Department.
For OMB director, Biden selected corporate centrist Neera Tanden, whose Center for American Progress thrives on the largesse of wealthy donors representing powerful corporate interests. Tanden has been a notably scornful foe of the Democratic Party's progressive wing; former Sanders speechwriter David Sirota calls her “the single biggest, most aggressive Bernie Sanders critic in the United States.” Who better to oversee the budget of the U.S. government?
For Secretary of State, Biden chose his longtime top foreign-policy adviser, whose frequent support for U.S. warfare included pushing for the disastrous 2011 military intervention in Libya. Antony Blinken is a revolving-door pro who has combined his record of war boosterism with entrepreneurial zeal to personally profit from influence-peddling for weapons sales to the Pentagon. Who better to oversee diplomacy for the U.S. government?
Standard news coverage tells us that Tanden and Blinken are “moderates.” But what's so moderate about being on the take from rich beneficiaries of corporate America while opposing proposals that would curb their profits in order to reduce income inequality and advance social justice? What's so moderate about serving the military-industrial complex while advocating for massive “defense” spending and what amounts to endless war?
Unless they fail to get Senate confirmation, Tanden and Blinken will shape future history in major ways.
As OMB director, Tanden would head what the Washington Post describes as “the nerve center of the federal government, executing the annual spending plan, setting fiscal and personnel policy for agencies, and overseeing the regulatory process across the executive branch.”
Blinken is ready to be the administration's most influential figure on foreign policy, bolstered by his longstanding close ties with Biden. As staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden chaired the panel's mid-2002 crucial sham hearings on scenarios for invading Iraq, Blinken helped grease the skids for the catastrophic invasion.
Overall, purported “moderates” Tanden and Blinken have benefited from favorable mass-media coverage since their nominations were announced several weeks ago. Most of the well-documented critical accounts have appeared in progressive outlets such as Common Dreams, Democracy Now, The Daily Poster, In These Times and The American Prospect. But some unappealing aspects of their records have been reported by the mainstream press.
“In her nine years helming Washington's leading liberal think tank, Neera Tanden mingled with deep-pocketed donors who made their fortunes on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and in other powerful sectors of corporate America,” the Washington Post reported in early December. “At formal pitches and swanky fundraisers, Tanden personally cultivated the bevy of benefactors fueling the $45 million to $50 million annual budget of the Center for American Progress.”
The Post added: “As OMB director, Tanden would have a hand in policies that touch every part of the economy after years spent courting corporate and foreign donors. These regulatory decisions will have profound implications for a range of U.S. companies, dictating how much they pay in taxes, the barriers they face and whether they benefit from new stimulus programs.”
Blinken’s eagerness to cash in on the warfare state -- when not a formal part of the government's war-making apparatus -- is well-documented and chilling. In a healthier political culture, Blinken's shameless insistence on profiteering from military weapons sales, as spelled out in a Nov. 28 New York Times news story, would have sunk his nomination for Secretary of State.
As for Tanden, in recent years her Center for American Progress received between $1.5 million and $3 million from the United Arab Emirates, which is allied with Saudi Arabia in waging a long and murderous war on Yemen. CAP refused to back a Senate resolution calling for the U.S. government to end its military support for that war. On a range of foreign-policy issues, Tanden has shown dedication to militarism again and again and again
By many accounts, progressive organizing was a key factor in preventing the widely expected nomination of hawkish Michele Flournoy to be Secretary of Defense. (RootsAction.org, where I'm national director, was part of that organizing effort.) Last week, the withdrawal of torture defender Mike Morell from consideration for CIA director was a victory for activism led by CodePink, Progressive Democrats of America, Witness Against Torture and other groups.
During the first weeks of 2021, such organizing could be effective in helping to derail other nominations. High on the deserving list are Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom “Mr. Monsanto” Vilsack, a loyal ally of corporate Big Ag, and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines -- whose record as former deputy director of the CIA included working to prevent accountability for agency personnel who engaged in torture, as well as crafting legal rationales for drone strikes that often killed civilians.
Such deplorable nominees don't tell the whole story of Biden's incoming team, which includes some decent economic and environmental appointees. “There's no question that progressive focus on personnel has led to far better outcomes than when Obama put a corporate- and bank-friendly Cabinet together with little resistance,” The American Prospect's executive editor, David Dayen, correctly pointed out last week. At the same time, none of Biden's high-level nominees were supporters of the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign or are fully in sync with the progressive wing of the party.
The brighter spots among Joe Biden's nominations reflect the political wattage that progressives have generated in recent years on a wide array of intertwined matters, from climate to healthcare to economic justice to structural racism. Yet, with few exceptions, Biden's current policy positions are destructively corporate, deferential to obscene concentrations of wealth, woefully inadequate for meeting human needs, and zealously militaristic. It's hardly incidental that the list of key White House staff is overwhelmingly dominated by corporate-aligned operatives and PR specialists.
Wishful thinking aside, on vital issue after vital issue, it's foreseeable that Biden -- and the people in line for the most powerful roles in his administration -- will not do the right thing unless movements can organize effectively enough to make them do it.
(Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of many books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
And bring on the post-holiday dark winter of gray skies, lonely winds and endless cold. I love all three of those things in principle, but I can feel there’s going to be a downturn in the general American psyche this year. A collective seasonal depression begins for the nation. The things to look forward to have passed, and we’re left with…blah.
Soon, even the enthusiastic and empowered Biden voter bloc (or especially them?) will come to be disaffected by the choice they were given and the lack of something good to be found there. More businesses down, more freedoms willingly given away, the likely shocking number of vaccination side effect horror stories that will seep out and then be softly quashed by the msm…spring may feel good for a few days as the air smells refreshingly hopeful, but people will not feel fulfilled and rejuvenated as they once did.
Or…hell, maybe it’s that I lost the fantasy football championship yesterday and I’m feeling a bit pessimistic this morning. Either way, get some sun (where you can find it), exercise (where you can do so without getting hypothermia), and take your vitamins. Gonna be a strange winter.
LESSON NOT LEARNED
Since the Great Depression, all national emergencies have been run by qualified federal emergency personnel, except during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, when Michael Brown ran it unsuccessfully until a qualified U.S. general took over and quickly guided it to a be a successful operation.
In the COVID-19 crisis, 50 governors and a U.S. vice president were given the duty to manage the crisis, and none of these politicians had any in-depth experience in emergency operations, and it ended up an out-of-control operation to this day.
One should know that in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, China and Japan, where emergency personnel were in charge of the COVID-19 crisis, they had less than a combined total of 15,000 die from this virus, while in the U.S. we have had over 330,000 deaths. And those forenamed nations gained control of this virus more than seven months ago, while COVID-19 is still out of control in the U.S.
Lesson: Never again put politicians in charge of a national emergency.
Ronald Brent Hippler
The majority of Social Security recipients live at or under the poverty level. The added income will help with groceries and medications. Those previous hardworking citizens need help too. Those on this guaranteed income paid into the system. It is not a handout. My many friends just received their cost-of-living notice, which is 1.3% come January 2021. The increase for many came to $5 more per week. Welcome to the real world.
Your Social Security “friends” must be in the top 1%. You must know by now that everyone’s income is not equal. Please stop and think before you accuse all of being lazy and greedy.
IN DARKNESS VISIBLE
by James Kunstler
The signals from the political establishment to Donald Trump ring pretty clear now: get thee hence, thou big-bottomed orange menace to order and sanctity! Has ever a president been lonelier at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? Lincoln’s “team of rivals” in the drear winter months of 1864 seem downright chummy in retrospect and, of course, poor Richard Nixon stayed swozzled on scotch whiskey during the darkest nights of Watergate, when he reputedly wandered the West Wing halls conversing with portraits of his predecessors.
The other power centers of America, especially the news media, insist that there is no evidence of fraud in the recent election and it’s time to get on with the hallowed ceremonies of transition. The post-Christmas suspense is killing them. Mr. Trump will not be moved to declare that he lost the election — probably for the excellent reason that he really didn’t, if there had been anything like an honest tally of the ballots. They hear murmurings of martial law and the Insurrection Act, and it all sounds to them like an imperial Nightmare on Elm Street. They can hear the tinkle of their lucrative perquisites shattering in the creases of their temporal lobes.
It’s said in the alt.media that the president wishes to exhaust all the formal alternatives before possibly moving onto the novelty steps of contesting this final act of the four-year coup against him, which brings us all the way to January 6, when the electoral college slates are toted up in the House chamber, Vice President Pence presiding. One popular fantasy has the Veep tossing out “certified” votes from states where irregularities were starkest in favor of alt.slates submitted by Republican-majority state legislatures — with Hieronymus Bosch-style Antifa chaos to follow all over the land. Sounds like a low percentage deal to me, but then… what’s actually at stake here?
Not to be too melodramatic, but something kind of like a Manchurian Candidate situation. How okay is it, actually, for Joe Biden, with a record of accepting large sums of money from China’s intel apparatus, to move into the Oval Office, especially after they laid the Covid-19 trip on the world? No problemo, the DNC and its vast network of apparatchiks answer. There’s no evidence of Ol’ Joe colluding for pay!
Oh, but there’s plenty of evidence, and quite a bit of it is in the public annals already, what with Hunter B’s laptop having been partially dissected since, at least, October, and a great tangle of slime-trails clearly revealed in the email logs and his corporate memoranda. And one must wonder if there is additional evidence in John Ratcliffe’s DNI files — you know, the place where every electron of recorded information ever transmitted on the Internet sleeps. You might have forgotten that something a little screwy is going on there, since the ODNI was supposed to issue a public report on the election (and its adumbrations) by December 18 and the fateful report was indefinitely postponed for reasons so far unknown.
Maybe the president’s antagonists are acting super-anxious to get rid of him — and constructing yet another media campaign to agitate public opinion — because there is evidence that other persons in government, persons of both parties, have been importuned by CCP largesse to perform services in recent years, not to mention other incriminating highjinks they’d hoped would fade harmlessly into history with tags such as the Clinton Foundation, the Open Societies Foundations, Skolkovo, Uranium One, the Maidan Uprising, the Steele Dossier, the Mueller investigation… you get the picture… a vast sepulcher of unholy rot where the Deep State has tried to entomb its most shameful secrets, including now the dark deeds of Election 2020.
Problematical, also, is the likelihood — in the event that he actually does concede and agree to exit the scene — that Mr. Trump will transition into post-presidential life with a bale of secret knowledge so huge, reeking, and damaging to his enemies, gathered over four years of access to the nation’s intel files, that not a congressman, senator, or high-up bureaucratic lifer will be left standing as the information dribbles out strategically in the months-to-come of the as-yet hypothetical Biden-Harris (or Harris-Biden) Administration. Imagine what Ol’ Joe, Kamala, Nancy, Chuck, perhaps even “Cocaine” Mitch and the rest of the Beltway gang are fretting about as they chug down their midnight Zolpedims. The Golden Golem of Greatness is not fading away from the Swamp crime scene no matter which way this thing turns out. And don’t forget, he is not exactly alone. Tens of millions of extremely pissed-off Americans are standing-by pretty quietly, for now, from sea to shining sea, behind him.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
NOT E.P. THOMPSON’S PEOPLE;
Or, Life at Fuckingham Palace: On The Crown Seasons Three and Four
by Jonah Raskin
The Brits didn’t always adore their kings and queens. Mary Queen of Scots lost her head on February 8, 1587, and King Charles I lost his on January 30, 1649. King Edward VIII and his wife, Wallis, cavorted with Nazis and engaged in treasonous behavior, though they were only exiled after Edward abdicated. These days, the monarchy is one of the few things that the Brits have to cluck about. Brits can’t seem to get enough of the royals, though they’ve heard the same stories over and over again.
The December 28, 2020 issue of People magazine has a cover story about the “real” Princess Kate, wife of Prince William, and mother of their three children. It depicts Kate, her husband and kids as just another close-knit family that shops at the Sainsbury supermarket near their country home in Norfolk. People magazine casts royalty as exalted and at the same time as down home.
The royals aren’t just another family, as The Crown, the popular Netflix series amply demonstrates. They are wealthier and more powerful than the garden variety British family. If The Crown is to be believed, the royals are also much more venial and hideous than ordinary Brits. They don’t behead anyone these days, but they punish those who don’t toe the line. Personal lives and personal happiness don’t matter. The bloodline does. The show must go on.
When I watched the first two seasons of The Crown, I was reminded of my life in England in the 1960s when I never stood as “God Save the Queen” played in movie theaters. Watching seasons three and four I asked myself, “What would the British historian E. P. Thompson think of the series? I believe that he might say there’s too much tabloid history, and too much about the sex lives of Philip, Charles, Lady Di, Camilla, Princess Margaret and Princess Anne, though there’s nothing X-rate about Fuckingham Palace. Thompson would probably say that there’s not enough about class conflict and especially not enough about the British working class, how it was made and how it helped to make the nation.
The author of books about Blake and William Morris and a classic about British workers, Thompson helped to popularize “history from the bottom up.” Jesse Lemisch apparently coined that phrase in the early 1960s in an SDS pamphlet. The Crown is the antithesis of history from the bottom up. Indeed, it’s history from the top down and with very little “down,” though there are plenty of servants who scrape and bow, but don’t have names or lives of their own.
Thompson might say that to understand the British monarchy one also has to understand its “subjects.” After all, there can’t be kings and queens without commoners.
The series occasionally places working class Brits front and center. It treats Welsh miners sympathetically, but working and middle class folk mostly appear as extras. They’re on screen to show how popular the royal family is with “the public,” as Queen Elizabeth II calls the people of England.
Season three depicts Princess Margaret and LBJ together and suggests that they’re both cut from the same crude cloth. Margaret calls the royal family an “endangered species,” and endangers herself.
Season four is probably the best so far. It pits Queen Elizabeth II, who can be tough as well as compassionate, against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, who is as nasty and as reactionary as any royal. The relationship between the two women culminates near the end of season four when Thatcher asks the Queen to dissolve parliament. That she will not do. “I’m protecting democracy,” Elizabeth says. She’s also protecting her family, her image, and the status quo.
Season four concludes with the Conservative Party in mutiny against Thatcher, and the end of her eleven-years at Ten Downing Street, during which time she aimed to beat the working class into submission and remake Britain as an imperial power by going to war in the Falklands. Prime Minister Harold Wilson has some of the best lines in the series. “Everything is political,” he says. “When people are angry they throw stones at their leaders.” In The Crown, the people are rarely angry with their leaders. They don’t throw stones at Fuckingham Palace, Parliament, or 10 Downing Street. The media does that metaphorically.
The series suggests that the Brits love fairy tales, even when they’re “fractured,” to borrow a word from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. It also suggests that the Brits will suffer fops like Prince Charles if they can relish feisty, glamorous royals like Princess Di, who suffers from bulimia. Time after time, we see her kneeling in front of a “throne”—a toilet, that is—and puking her guts out. One wonders if the producers, writers and directors of The Crown intended viewers to link the throne on which Elizabeth sits with the throne in Di’s bathroom. I hope so.
Season four ends with D’s face on the screen. We know what’s coming next: the lovers, the car crash and the deification of a young woman who married a prince and didn’t live happily ever after.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)