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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Marine Influence | 21 New Cases | Variant Names | Blossoms | Covid Origin | Quilted Bookshop | Weed v Wine | CHP 1930 | No More War | Troops Returning | Water Important | Fox | Hospital Furniture | Fuente Art | Water Wars | Flower Seller | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Oxymorons | Remember This | Ringo Photo | Marital Advice | Tax the Rich | Retirement Boom | Cat Killer | California Disasters | Bagman | Coffin Sound | Benghazi/Capitol | Kucinich Book | Industrial City

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RELIEF FROM THE HOT INLAND TEMPERATURES will begin today as high pressure moves eastward. Coastal areas will see a mix of clouds and sun today but onshore flow will increase over the next few days...thus marine influence will become more enhanced toward the weekend. (NWS)

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21 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County (since last Friday) yesterday afternoon.

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by William Miller, MD; Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital

There has been a tendency to name epidemics after where they were first discovered.  An example is calling the 1918 influenza pandemic the “Spanish flu”, even though likely evolved in the United States. It was named that because Spain was the first country to freely admit that they had cases, while countries like the US kept the fact a secret out of fear that it would give intelligence information to its enemies during World War I.  When it recurred in 1977 during the Cold War, we labeled it the “Russian flu”. 

One problem with this way of naming, beyond simply being inaccurate, is that a stigma is often associated with it.  This was used politically during the early part of the COVID epidemic to blame China by some who insisted on calling it the “China virus” or the “Wuhan flu”.  Use of such terms are felt to have fueled the recent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US.

The virus is scientifically referred to as SARS-CoV-2, which stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.  The number 2 distinguishing it from SARS-CoV-1, which caused the original outbreak of SARS in 2003.

As the SARS-2 virus has mutated, we now have several variants and true to our nature, we have labeled them as to where they were first identified, calling them the South African or Brazilian variant.  These names have carried all the same stigmas. 

Scientific naming of the variants hasn’t been very helpful either.  This nomenclature (the way of scientifically naming things) uses the location of the mutation on the viral genes.  So, the “United Kingdom variant” becomes B.1.1.7, South Africa’s variant is B.1.351 and the new variant recently identified in India is referred to as B.1.617.2.  Very confusing.

The World Health Organization has proposed a new system of naming these variants using letters from the Greek alphabet which it is hoped will help tell them apart more easily and reduce the stigma associated with them.  Thus, United Kingdom’s B.1.1.7 is now alpha, South Africa’s B.1.351 is now beta, Brazil’s P.1 is now gamma and India’s B.1.617.2 is now delta.  On a global scale, these four make up the most significant variants identified thus far.   Incidentally, the variant that comprised about 60% of all the COVID cases in California last winter, previously known as B.1.429/B.1.427, will now be referred to as epsilon

In the Miller Report of March 1st, 2021, we discussed how new strains of viruses develop through mutation and we compared the major new variants in terms of virulence, ease of transmission and resistance to vaccines.  All previous Miller Reports are now available for easy reference by going to my personal blog: 

In March, we did not have any knowledge about the delta variant which developed during the recent large outbreak seen in India.  Before we go into some specifics about delta, a review might be helpful.   Viruses such as SARS-2 are undergoing continual mutation as a strategy to evade the immune system.  This is seen with many viruses including influenza and HIV, for example.  Also, recall that on the surface of coronaviruses, there are so-called spike proteins which act as a key fitting into a lock on the host cell, thus allowing the virus entry into the cell.  If the spike protein mutates to become a better fitting key, then it is easier for it to take hold and cause an infection and the new variant is said to be more infectious/contagious.

Since the spike protein is also a primary site for our antibodies to attach, then mutations in the spike protein may help the virus evade the immune system.  These mutations are of particular interest to scientists.  They have major implications for vaccine effectiveness and are the reason we are identifying them as unique variants.  The delta variant, like the others, contains mutations in the spike protein.   

Delta appears to be twice as infectious as the original SARS-2 virus.  This means that during the ten days or so that a person with COVID is contagious, they will infect 5.2 more people on average compared with the original SARS-2 in which only 2.6 more people will get infected on average.  When I wrote about the other variants back in March, we didn’t have clear information about gamma (P.1) which is the main variant found in Brazil.  We now know that gamma is even more infectious, causing a concerning 6.8 new infections on average.  These numbers have serious implications for continued spread of this pandemic around the world.

Current vaccines are less effective against both delta and gamma.  However, the vaccines still do provide protection at a level of about 70% instead of the 95% we have come to expect with ones like Pfizer and Moderna.  One piece of good news is that even if a vaccinated person gets infected with either gamma or delta, they do not get as sick as they would if they had not been vaccinated.  Studies using convalescent serum (antibodies from a person who previously had COVID) have shown that these antibodies are even less effective.  In other words, vaccination is more protective against the new strains than having had an infection from one of the older strains.

The last big question is, “Do the new strains cause a worse case of the disease?”  For alpha, beta and epsilon, it does not appear so.  However, for gamma, is more lethal with an overall mortality rate of about 3-4% versus 2-3% for other variants.  Prior vaccination significantly reduces this lethality.  We do not have enough data yet to say whether delta causes a worse case of COVID or not.

Hopefully, this new nomenclature using Greek letters will make it somewhat easier to talk about the various new strains and in the process reduce the stigma associated with using place names.  It remains to be seen whether this new system will catch on or not.

(The views shared in this weekly column are those of the author, Dr. William Miller, and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher or of Adventist Health.)

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STEPHEN GLOVER: Did the Covid virus, which has already killed more than 3.5 million people and devastated the world's economy, escape from an internationally renowned laboratory (inset) in the Chinese city of Wuhan? For the best part of a year, the idea that it might have done so was treated with almost as much incredulity as the notion that the moon is made of cheese or that Stonehenge was built by aliens. Facebook even took down posts claiming the virus was man-made. The social media giant, which has cheerfully tolerated all manner of political mendacity over the years, drew the line at upsetting the Chinese government. As for the Western scientific community, it overwhelmingly rubbished the theory that Covid was man-made, and accepted Beijing's contention that it had somehow jumped from animals to humans. What was once regarded as a crackpot theory has become mainstream. In an interview last month, Dr Anthony Fauci, the widely respected director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed that a lab escape was 'a possibility'. He said he would back a second investigation by the WHO. Two weeks ago, 18 biologists, immunologists and other scientists criticised the WHO's findings in a letter to the journal Science, and called for a more thorough inquiry. Then, just over a week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became so sick in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a confidential U.S. intelligence report. Beijing claims the first Covid case was on December 8, 2019.

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Assessing water use…

Many letters say it takes six times more water per crop to grow cannabis than grapes. But what does this statement really mean? The Napa 9111 report, the source of this oft-quoted statistic, says it takes 250 gallons of water to produce a pound of cannabis flower. Further research revealed that a pound of cannabis yields about 900 joints. This divides out to about 3.6 gallons of water to grow the pot in a joint.  

Now let’s look at how much water it takes to produce a bottle of wine — including not just the irrigation water that was included in the Napa report but all the other water used to produce the wine: water for frost protection, cleaning tanks and floors, etc. According to the study “Mathematics of Sustainability,” published in 2018 by Union College, “It takes 872 gallons of water to produce a gallon of wine.” This means that producing a standard 750 milliliter bottle of wine requires 175 gallons of water.   

So, if a joint is roughly equivalent to a bottle of wine in terms of enjoyment (seems about the right ratio to me) then the wine uses 48 times more water than cannabis. As we go about drafting regulations governing these industries, let us look at the total picture.  

David Bannister

Santa Rosa

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CHP, 1930

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One of my Uncles skippered a minesweeper off southern France in 1944 in operation Dragoon, which was the allied follow up invasion a couple of months after D-Day. Around Marseilles, France.

Minesweepers were paired, my Uncle’s had been partnered since 1942, sweeping mines off New Jersey, the Bahamas, Galveston Texas . Later, north Africa, Italy. During operation Dragoon, and this is the only story my Uncle ever told of his WWII adventures, his partner minesweeper took a German 88 in its ammunition hold, exploding entirely on the spot. Virtually vaporized instantaneously before his eyes.

My Uncle went on to serve in the Asian theatre and clearing mines in China after the war’s end.

Another Uncle, whom I never met, died in Holland in late 1944 and is buried there.

My father was 4-F due to hypertension. He was rejected for service 3 times by the Navy and twice by the Army. After his latest rejection, he had his mother “pull some strings” with the local draft board, and was inducted into the Army. He served in the retaking of New Guinea and the Philippines. Contracted malaria and died a decade later due to its complications.

Point I’m trying to make is that there was a generation before us dedicated body and soul to stopping Nazism and Japanese racism and imperialism. They sacrificed and prevailed. They made a better world.

Since? Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq… no military adventure truly protecting our homeland interests (no, not even Afghanistan, after all).

No field commander wants their troops slaughtered in futile battle. No sane one, anyway.

Time to say, loud and proud, No More War. Ever again.

It is the highest and deepest tribute we the living can pay our many wars dead. And our surviving troops.

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THE RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH pulling into New York harbor with returning US servicemen in 1945 after VE Day.

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Dear Supervisors: 

May 31, 2021 (Memorial Day) — There is yet another meeting scheduled on June 2 to discuss cannabis expansion. So, it appears you can still save the county and your reputations by deciding to protect Mendocino County and not sell us out to big ag. The environmental situation becomes more dire every day and expansion of cannabis may push our rivers, streams and springs to a point of no return. Water (clean, potable water) is more precious than cannabis, gold, or imagined tax dollars. 

Our water is currently being syphoned, choked and poisoned. The Eel River fish count is proof, the dry wells are proof, our dying trees are proof. Drive to your favorite swimming hole and try to find enough water to dip a toe. Don’t let your kids drink the water with the poisonous algae. Please stop fiddling with imagined statistics and empty promises while your county burns. 

The $18 millions from the state should be used to produce an environmental study and provide real science for moving forward. Test our wells for quantity and quality of water. Then, write a new ordinance, hire and train more planners and enforcement personnel. Pay them enough to keep them here. Find out why Sonoma and Humboldt Counties are eating our lunch when it comes to protecting themselves. 

Hopefully, Sandra Mullen 

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Mendo Fox (photo by Tammy Durston)

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The public will have the opportunity to purchase chairs and tables that were declared surplus by the Mendocino Health Care District. This furniture was formerly used in the lobby of the Outpatient Building and is in good condition. The sale will take place on Saturday, June 19th beginning at 8 am and ending at 2 pm or when the furniture is gone. The location is the Neva Cannon room behind the District’s building at 775 River Drive. Cash or check only.  

Norman de Vall

Mendocino Coast Health Care District

Board Member

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IN 2018 LARRY FUENTE'S SCULPTURE “Mona” was on exhibit at the Mendocino Film Festival's headquarters in Odd Fellows Hall. 

Larry is easily Mendocino's most famous artist, featured on the cover as well as inside National Geographic Magazine, included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., and in many private collections. On July 4, 2020 a disastrous fire at Larry's studio/home destroyed Mona and all of Larry's possessions and creations, except for his amazing art car, “Mad Cad,” which firefighters managed to save by smothering it in firefighting foam. Larry survived without injuries. (Nick Wilson)

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A drought crisis has erupted in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border, with fish dying en masse and farmers infuriated that they have been cut off from their main water source.

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A Flower Seller on a Rainy Day in Tomitori by Takahashi Hiroaki

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WHEN CEO ANGELO locked retiring Supervisor McCowen out of his office on a bogus theft of county property claim, she followed that up with a covid lockdown of the Low Gap headquarters, thereby shutting all the Supervisors out of their offices. Everyone's been vaxxed, and it's past time for the entire leadership posse to get back to their offices and desks.

ANGELO also inadvertently revealed her assumption of how county government works when, asked by Supervisor Mulheren why the Adventist complex isn't being considered for a psych unit, Angelo replied, “It wouldn't be in the community's interest.”

UH, excuse me Ms. Angelo, but Mulheren is elected and you are appointed. It's for her and her colleagues to decide what's in the county's interest. 

THE LATEST ITERATION of the county's pot program is a belated attempt, and a logical enough one, to bring some order to the Green Rush. But it seems from here that whatever strategy is adopted at this point is futile because so many grows are already out there, meaning that a state of reefer anarchy will obtain for years to come, assuming that the market continues to make dope a lucrative enterprise.

YOU'VE had to have noticed by now that whenever you stray from mainline vocabulary on your magic box that the cyber grammarians swoop down to underline what they see as an error. My spiffy phrase above — “anarchy will obtain” — is not only the correct usage of “obtain” in the context, it's goddam elegant! (That's a joke, son.) I understand from some undoubtedly dubious source that the Mormons have the computer concession for prose do's and don'ts, which may explain the strict adherence to an elementary style guide serviceable enough for most computer messaging but unreliable for any deviation therefrom.

GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN, Trump's former National Security Advisor, has again established that he's a more or less functioning 5150. He's trying to take back his endorsement of a violent military coup in the United States — despite his comments being caught on video. No surprise that the whacked-out Flynn was addressing a Dallas QAnon conference when he was asked, “Why can't what happened in Myanmar happen here?” Flynn replied: “No reason. I mean, it should happen here.” After his comment was reported, Flynn rushed out to claim he hadn't said what he'd said. “Let me be VERY CLEAR,” he wrote. “There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort.” QAnon crackpots have cited the Myanmar coup as an example of how Trump could be reinstated as president.

AND THEN THE NYT reported that Trump is telling people he will be reinstated as president by August, after his original National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said a Myanmar-style coup “should happen.” The New York Times' Maggie Haberman wrote in a Tuesday tweet what Trump has been telling people, sharing a CNN report that has Trump supporters expressing favor for a coup that would put him back in power.

CRAZY is certainly the prevalent national vibe, and if the Trumpers were bold enough to mob Congress back in January… Well, if the camo buddies are gearing up for an attempt to restore Trump they're going to need a lot more brains and discipline than they've so far demonstrated. They're also going to need at least the tacit support of the police, the armed services and the intelligence apparatuses, which is highly unlikely. America may be bananas but we're not a banana republic. 

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Donnelly, Kloiber, Luna

JARID DONNELLY, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

ANTON KLOIBER, Fort Bragg. Attempted murder, mayhem, assault with deadly weapon not a gun causing great bodily injury, county parole violation.

STEVEN LUNA JR., Covelo. Burglary.

Malone, Mize, Noel

KRYSTAL MALONE, Fort Bragg. Vandalism.

JONNIE MIZE, Ukiah. Stolen vehicle. 

TAMI NOEL, Willits. Domestic battery.

Questoni, Trinidad, Waltrip

MARCIE QUESTONI, Petaluma/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

DON TRINIDAD, Concord/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.

JACOB WALTRIP, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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AVA Feb. 23, 2011: ANTON KLOIBER, 34 [in 2011], is in trouble. He's looking at a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and has already pleaded guilty to two felony counts of negligent discharge of a firearm during two exciting in-home episodes over the Christmas holidays. Kloiber's recent rampages also include charges of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, assault with a firearm, child endangerment, damaging a phone line and making threats, all stemming from his holiday season flip-outs, during one of which Kloiber fired a shotgun into an inside wall of his Piercy home during a dispute with his wife as debris from the blast hit the couple's 10-year-old son in the back. Kloiber also ripped a phone out of the wall, pointed the shotgun at his wife, hit her in the forehead with it, and threatened to kill her when she tried to take the gun away. DA Eyster, who seems to have had his tongue all the way into his cheek, commented, “I believe this case has a mental health component.”

Kloiber was convicted of negligent discharge of a firearm in August of 2011 and served 50% of a two year prison sentence at that time. Coincidentally, two weeks later, Flynn Washburne was convicted of Second Degree Robbery after robbing a Ukiah Bank and a Fort Bragg bookstore and served 85% of a 96 month prison term.

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“Does Memorial Day 2021 seem an unusually grim lull between spring and summer this year?”

Memorial Day is not solely about the military. Memorial Day is a time intended to… REMEMBER. To remember LOTS of things.

These days, we can reach back in our minds and hearts (if we are of sufficient pre-Woked-Up age) to remember the kind of Country we used to have. To remember the kind of people we used to be. To remember all the souls we’ve lost along the way. To remember and mourn all the values we’ve discarded along our way. To remember a Nation that was been blessed more than any other in human history and to reflect on how poorly we’ve maximized all those incredible blessings. And to remember how so many of us just ignore those blessings or take them all for granted or peddle some narrative nonsense on how we are somehow ‘entitled’ to them because we are so ‘special’. And if we ARE so special, was it not those very Blessings that were GIVEN to us and not something we did to earn such a lofty status?

“Despite the torrents of mendacious narratives and fogs of gaslight deployed in this campaign, a substantial chunk of the public resists suffocation and has finally begun to fight back…”

The way to ‘fight back’ is grounded in our ability to remember the best of who and what we were… and want to be (or become) again. The ‘torrents of mendacious narratives and fogs of gaslighting’ will be poured down upon us without end as we continue our journey groping our way through Today’s Conjured Darkness. And it is our response to that societal poisoning that will determine if we will exist as an America we want to be… or if the Name will live on like a failed brand but the ideals and foundation that defined the America We Want To Be are snuffed out and erased and buried under the weight of all those mendacious narratives and fog of gaslighting… and worse. 

When we take a wrong turn on the highway and head off in a wrong direction, the only way to get back to where we intended is to REMEMBER where we want to go. If we are to have a future worth living in, the only way to find it is to REMEMBER the kind of Country and People we want to be. That’s the enduring message of Memorial Day.

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I’M TALKING TO YOU. Every day means that you should bring in something to eat. If you have nothing to eat, your wife cannot cook anything for you. Look at her clothes. Many things rest on you. It’s a man’s duty to bring in the meat and clothes. You can’t expect the woman to do that. A woman must be treated well because she feeds you; she’s the only friend you have. Your mother and father can’t treat you better than your wife does. That’s the way I feel about my wife. She’s the mother of the whole thing, this life you have to go through, and you may have a long life. And you, my daughter, it is your duty to keep everything neat about your place. Keep yourself neat the way you were when I was raising you. Keep your husband’s clothes clean. Keep your fire going all the time. Don’t fuss at each other.

— Apache pre-marital advice from the father of the bride to both bride and groom. From “Geronimo” by Angie Debo, University of Oklahoma Press

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Earlier this year, the California State Teachers Retirement System issued an ominous statement: teacher retirements in California are projected to hit nearly record-breaking heights in 2021.

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THE FLOW IS CONSTANT. Words, pictures, numbers, facts, graphics, statistics, specks, waves, particles, motes. Only a catastrophe gets our attention. We want them, we need them, we depend on them. As long as they happen somewhere else. This is where California comes in. Mud slides, brush fires, coastal erosion, earthquakes, mass killings, droughts, et cetera. We can relax and enjoy these disasters because in our hearts we feel that California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom. Japan is pretty good for disaster footage. India remains largely untapped. They have tremendous potential with their famines, monsoons, religious strife, train wrecks, boat sinkings, et cetera. But their disasters tend to go unrecorded. Three lines in the newspaper. No film footage, no satellite hookup. This is why California is so important. We not only enjoy seeing them punished for their relaxed life-styles and progressive social ideas but we know we’re not missing anything. The cameras are right there. They’re standing by. Nothing terrible escapes their scrutiny.

— Don DeLillo, Players 

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Well, it's one kind favor I ask of you
Well, it's one kind favor I ask of you
Lord, it's one kind favor I'll ask of you
See that my grave is kept clean

It's a long lane, ain't got no end
It's a long lane that's got no end
It's a long lane ain't got no end
And it's a bad wind that never change

Lord, it's two white horses in a line
Well, it's two white horses in a line
Well, it's two white horses in a line
Gonna take me to my buryin' ground

My heart stopped beatin' and my hands got cold
My heart stopped beatin' and my hands got cold
Well, my heart stopped beatin', Lord, my hands got cold
It wasn't long 'fore they took me to the cypress grove

Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Have you ever heard a coffin sound?
Then you know that the poor boy is in the ground

— Blind Lemon Jefferson

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by Matt Taibbi

“The Division of Light and Power,” the new book by Dennis Kucinich, is an epic chronicle of American corruption

Dennis Kucinich has always been ahead of his time. It’s both his distinction and his curse. As a presidential candidate in the 2000s he was ridiculed for backing tuition-free college, single-payer health care, ending the Iraq war, withdrawal from NAFTA and the WTO, same-sex marriage, legalized weed, slashed defense budgets, and a long list of other policies later deemed uncontroversial. When that Kucinich said he would happily nominate a gay or transgender person to the Supreme Court, Jon Stewart guffawed: “Yes, yes, all rise for the honorable chick with dick!”

By 2020 most all of Kucinich’s positions were orthodoxy among Democratic voters, yet he remains an outcast to Democrats nationally. In fact, he’s been frozen out of blue-state media for the better part of a decade, and welcomed during the same time to a five-year stint as a Fox News contributor. What gives? If even the Washington Post concedes that their former object of ridicule turned out to be “the future of American politics” — the politics of their own readers — why does the national political establishment continue to keep him out of sight?

The answers can be found in The Division of Light and Power, Kucinich’s enormous new memoir about his time as the Mayor of Cleveland, and his battle against Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, or CEI. The book is a surprising tour de force on multiple levels. First, it should immediately take a place among the celebrated ruthless accounts of how American politics really work, recalling jarring insider confessionals like Daniel Ellsberg’s Secrets or Robert Caro’s illusion-crushing portrait of municipal politics, The Power Broker. Second, it’s very skillfully written. Kucinich, always a voracious reader, turns out to be a born writer, with a gift for pace and detail.

Third, The Division of Light and Power is prophetic. Critics will harp on the oldness of the story: most of the action takes place between Kucinich’s election to the Cleveland City Council in 1969 (at age 23!) and the end of his term as Mayor in 1979.

But Kucinich’s battle with CEI was also a powerful precursor tale, exposing all the major fault lines of modern politics. In the seventies, while most conventional party politicians were busy constructing the post-Watergate partisan realignment that would define the blue-red battle for a generation, Kucinich in Cleveland was forced to ask whether the whole two party system was a “rigged game,” a question that decades later inspired uprisings in both the Democratic and Republican Parties. The battle lines around CEI were not about Democrats versus Republicans, but rather around more nebulous definitions like the people versus the system, dependents versus independents, free-thinkers versus apparatchiks, etc. “Partisan labels were confining to me,” Kucinich writes, again predicting an attitude likely soon to be uncontroversial fashion.

Most themes of the modern debate over populism can be found it in this story of Cleveland’s effort to keep control over its own popular power company, Muny Light. Muny provided cheap electricity and would not sell itself to CEI, a corporate behemoth that would eventually become part of FirstEnergy. Kucinich before entering government never thought much about utilities or power companies. “Like most people, when I needed light, I’d turn a switch from ‘off’ to ‘on,’” he writes. Why did it matter which company owned the light?

It turned out to matter a lot, when CEI was engaged in systematic price-fixing and was trying to get rid of Muny in order to remove competition and artificially jack up rates. This was a macro version of what young Kucinich learned was the core trade of American politics: political tribute for monopoly business. As a “baby face” 23-year-old — Kucinich from this time looked like someone who’d have to sneak in to ride a roller coaster — the new Councilman kept noticing businessmen in fancy suits handing out tickets to Indians and Browns games hanging around his place to work. Who were they? One of the City Council clerks explained:

Each one of their companies needs a special license to operate, called a franchise, which is awarded by the city… Their business gets a franchise, sometimes for ninety-nine years. It’s a monopoly. No competition. Everyone has to pay for their service and there’s no choice, you pay what they charge…

Kucinich described a Cleveland City Council that correctly viewed itself as servants, in office to execute the needs of the financial interests that installed them. When he arrived telling a tale of having spent two years knocking on every door in his district, the members didn’t believe it, and kept asking questions like “Where’d you get your money to get elected?” or “Who put you here?” One after the other, they welcomed him to the job, telling him there were “legitimate ways” to make money once there, that “you’re on the inside now, not on the outside,” and that the world generally could be his, if he followed one rule. “All you have to do,” one attorney-legislator told him, “is play ball.”

He learned the racket: “You gotta vote right.” Many of the things the Council voted on turned out to be cons and guaranteed profit schemes that directly transferred cash from voters to donors. For instance, an “urban renewal” bill that was pitched as a multi-million-dollar cleanup for one neighborhood but was actually a scam to force thousands of homeowners to take out high-interest-rate private bank loans to repair their properties.

Just like the modern U.S. congress, which annually buys tens of billions in overpriced and unneeded military equipment, or doles out billions in dubious overseas business loans, or quietly approves regulatory relief and tax holidays for monopolistic interests, the Cleveland Council “voted the right way” across party lines, and got its rewards.

Only a few were disappointed. Kucinich described one member weeping into his port wine at a Monday night council meeting at a local tavern. “I voted right. I didn’t ask for much,” he told Kucinich. “All I want is a little ice cream.” With a little imagination one can imagine a back-bencher in the current House looking at Nancy Pelosi or Richard Burr or Bob Corker or Diane Feinstein or any of a number of other members who managed somehow to massively increase their net worth in office, and wondering why he or she, too, couldn’t get a little of that “ice cream.”

The Division of Light and Power is a physically massive book — size-wise it reminds me of Bill Greider’s Secrets of the Temple, so big Rolling Stone editors used to gift each other free lunches if any of them could manage to shoplift it — but Kucinich drives his labyrinthine political conspiracy tale with the speed of detective fiction, using a clever structure. His presidential platform in 2004 was the size of a playing card; here he tells an epic in brief, dense, action-packed chapters of a few pages each. The singular focus on the battle with CEI eliminates the stream-of-consciousness drift that infects a lot of memoirs by politicians, people used to being listened to no matter what comes out of their mouths.

How rigged was the game in Cleveland? CEI manufactured Muny blackouts before holidays, blatantly defied federal laws requiring CEI to provide backup power in case of such blackouts, refused to allow Muny to build lines through its territory to obtain backup power from other utilities, used bought-off pols to help artificially lower the valuation of Muny, and even used its power as an advertiser to obtain editorial review authority over local radio copy involving the company.

Because the decision about whether or not to keep Muny was a no-brainer for any Cleveland resident without a larger financial interest in the deal — as Muny didn’t pay dividends or giant packages to executives, it was able to offer rates 20% below CEI, low enough that Cleveland crafted its pitch to outside businesses around its low energy rates — CEI needed to blast cash at institutions to win allies for its cause. When that didn’t work, it appeared to use its influence to get rid of critics, like WERE radio host Steve Clark, fired after reporting CEI had asked the state for a rate hike in the same year it was reporting a $40 million profit.

Kucinich protested the firing of Clark in a speech in the City Council, concluding, “Tomorrow, it could be you.” He noted the reaction of the remaining press corps:

News reporters covering the meeting were a sketch of supine immobility, a confession of the futility of expression without independence.

Kucinich expresses some sympathy for people who either gradually or suddenly sell their souls away in this fashion, understanding that people lose themselves in countless ways in and around politics, but can’t take the step himself. After getting elected Mayor in 1977, Kucinich resists smear campaigns, a recall attempt, every conceivable kind of financial squeeze, and even an assassination plot in refusing to sell Muny Light.

As financial judgment day approaches, he appears to flash back to the absolute poverty of his childhood, spent in a household where he could literally hear pennies being counted at night. “Bill collectors don’t faze me,” he writes, as he describes the moment when Cleveland’s notes start coming due. “Bill collectors visited our apartment with such frequency that I assumed that they were relatives.” He understands the catastrophe of default, but he can’t sell; he’s worried about the city, but also his soul. The book is packed full of references to his Catholic upbringing, including a poem his sixth-grade teacher Sister Leona scrawled on a blackboard called “The Minute,” about the momentary tests of conscience forced on every person:

But it’s up to me to use it,

Give account if I abuse it…

Just one tiny minute,

But eternity is in it.

Kucinich’s wry two-word summation of the consequences of choosing default over sale — “Citizen Kucinich” — effectively represent the end of the book. An abrupt fast forward twenty years later shows the long-forgotten Kucinich presented with a resolution by a Clinton-era Council, expressing its “deep appreciation” for having refused to sell an asset that later ballooned in value, saving the city $300 million. He’s given a second act and elected to congress.

A few years ago, the sports site The Ringer would do one of many retrospectives on that second act of Kucinich’s, which played out in a vaguely similar way to the first. He ascended, briefly attracted the notice of the political establishment thanks to his ability to generate buzz on his own, and was discarded just as quickly when party leaders realized he was guilty of the worst crime there is in American politics, i.e. he was serious. The Ringer tried to lay out in more generous terms the reasons conventional wisdom abandoned Kucinich again, noting that he’d moved on to Fox after his exile from blue politics, aligning himself with the same “kooky” politics that brought us Donald Trump:

Kucinich clashes with the network’s partisan affiliations, but he also happens to echo its fondness for “deep state” conspiracy-mongering and fact-contrarianism.

Kucinich was called a “kook” in the early 2000s for embracing gay marriage and universal health care. More recently he wins the moniker for talking about how money from banks and weapons-makers controls American politics, how the news media is a mouthpiece for corporate interests, and a dozen other things that are uncomfortable but true. In The Division of Light and Power Kucinich uses the term “rigged system” to describe what he’s up against. This is a taboo word in modern media, which associates the “rigged game” with Trump and Bernie Sanders. But the book is 700 pages of proof of the comical extent of how rigged American politics can be, and is.

The people who deny this are the kooks, not Kucinich, who’s simply making an observation a lot of Americans aren’t ready to accept yet. Once again, he’s too early. In the book he described Cleveland residents who tried to divine their way out of poverty by studying the numbers rackets crooks offered them as false hope. “On the streets,” he wrote, “people bought dream books to try to discern the winning numbers in their sleep.” The people who tune in to CNN and MSNBC (and Fox, too), still wanting to believe in the rectitude of establishment political heroes, are lost in the same way. In another fifteen years, after the partisan political debate — what Kucinich in our interview calls the “Punch and Judy show” — loses even more legitimacy, and the brokenness and corruption of institutional America becomes uncontroversial truism, pundits will be probably be writing apologies to this politician again.

In politics, phoniness often wins. In literature, not so much. Fifty years from now, no one will be reading Battle for the Soul or What Happened to understand our politics. The Division of Light and Power meanwhile is a journey into the typhoon of American corruption and stupidity. The presidency may never have been Kucinich’s legacy, but this book will survive him, and there’s nothing kooky about it.


* * *

City of Workers by Hans Baluschek


  1. Eric Sunswheat June 2, 2021

    RE: US kept the fact a secret out of fear that it would give intelligence information. (William Miller, MD; Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital)

    -> May 19, 2021
    Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, and Amy Beck, an associate professor of pediatrics, also at UCSF, wrote a commentary for Hospital Pediatrics that accompanied the two studies.

    They wrote, “Taken together, these studies underscore the importance of clearly distinguishing between children hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 found on universal testing versus those hospitalized for COVID-19 disease.”

    The studies demonstrate, they said, that reported hospitalization rates “greatly overestimate the true burden of COVID-19 disease in children.”

  2. George Hollister June 2, 2021

    Matt Taibbi describes Dennis Kucinich’s rigged politics, and the deep state. My only exception with Kucinich’s observation is that what he describes is not modern, but has existed throughout history anytime government is given or takes absolute power, in part or whole. This reality begs the question, why advocate for giving government even more absolute power? But that is exactly what Kucinich, and friends do.

    Will the light ever come on?

    • Harvey Reading June 2, 2021

      Obviously you know nothing of Kucinich. And, Taibbi is about as reliable a source as you are.

      Did you place the light switch in the “on” position?

  3. Cotdbigun June 2, 2021

    We finally have proof how crazy these Trump supporters are with their haphazard connections to events and reality. In Ed notes today it’s reported that that New York Times’ Maggie Hagerman tweeted that super reliable CNN said that Trump supporters said that ……….
    Now that’s what should be called Reliable Sources , oops , it already is.

  4. Harvey Reading June 2, 2021


    Three and a half million out of 7 or 8 billion aint a very big proportion.

    Remember, folks, the medicos are the same ones who brought you a cure for “restless leg syndrome”, and peddled plenty of antidepressants to you as well. Why should we trust them now?

  5. Harvey Reading June 2, 2021


    That water war has been going on for decades, throughout the Klamath River system. The farmers always win, because the kaputalist system is rigged for the benefit of peddlers, and natural resources be damned!.

  6. Harvey Reading June 2, 2021


    They also need to learn to shoot.

  7. Harvey Reading June 2, 2021


    Of course it can. Up the taxes on wealthy scum living in the goofy state.

  8. Marmon June 2, 2021

    I miss having a president who took pride in our country.


    • Bruce Anderson June 2, 2021

      Boo hoo, Marmon. Suck it up.

      • Marmon June 2, 2021

        How do I respond to this without being censored.


        • chuck dunbar June 3, 2021

          January 5th– a real moment of pride and honor for America, caused mostly by the “president who took pride in our country.”

    • Chuck Wilcher June 3, 2021

      Yeah, we all miss Obama.

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