Cooler Temps | 124 New Cases | 58th Death | Smoky Light | Doug Elliot | Produce Exchange | Another THP | 1885 Locomotive | Ed Notes | Volleyball Match | Planning Commission | Yesterday's Catch | Healdsburg Development | Free Speech | Otter Photos | Disinformation Story | PA School | Stranded Americans | Faith Unmasked | Education Dilemma | Texan Safety | Afghan Costs | Messy Retreat | Teddy & John | Comments | War Aged | Cuomo Ouster | Top Prospects | Nominee Rahm | Oil Derrick | Dog Me
SEASONABLE TEMPERATURES will occur across the interior through mid week, while coastal areas experience nightly stratus development followed by afternoon clearing. Thereafter, a warming trend is forecast to occur across the region with the approach of the weekend. (NWS)
124 NEW COVID CASES (since last Friday), and another death, reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
MENDOCINO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH has been notified of another Mendocino County resident who has been lost to the COVID-19 Virus. We send our condolences to her family and friends.
A 41 year old Willits woman has been confirmed as Mendocino County's 58th death. At this time Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to exercise caution when placing themselves in situations that could expose them to COVID-19, especially considering the new more infectious Delta variant. Mendocino County Public Health asks that you follow all CDC and CDPH guidance’s at this time. Vaccination, masking and social distancing remain the best options for combating the Covid-19 Virus.
The individual in question was not vaccinated.
DOUG ELLIOTT: Longtime valley resident Doug Elliott passed away at the end of July in Texas, where he was staying with his son John and family. He died peacefully after a brief time in hospice care, with John at his side. Doug survived his wife Bev by barely four months, and passed just days before what would have been their 67th anniversary.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT OUR FIRST FREE COMMUNITY PRODUCE EXCHANGE tomorrow (Tues) from 5-6, in the community park! Everyone is welcome! Come drop off and/or load up on homegrown produce. Hope to see you there!
BOUNDARY CREEK 1-21-00130-MEN
The Trail Stewards are asking that we protest yet another planned timber harvest. This one would impact the Fort Bragg water supply, and--more importantly--no further harvests should be undertaken until we have a thorough public conversation on what true harvest sustainability means. Below, you will see the letter I sent. You can copy it or write you own. Make sure your subject line says: Boundary Creek 1-21-00130-MEN
The addresses are listed below. If you would, add a cc to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am contesting this harvest plan for the following reasons:
1) Water drafting is listed as 5,000 to 10,000 gallons a day from April 1 to November 15 while the plan is under operation--a maximum of 2,190,000 gallons/summer. This is a substantial amount of water to be drawn from a watershed bearing endangered Coho salmon, which is also the water source for the town of Fort Bragg. In the midst of a state-wide drought emergency, this is not acceptable.
2) We are categorically against all timber harvest on state-owned forest lands until a broad-based, mediated public dialogue is undertaken with all stakeholders present, a new environmental impact report for the ongoing management plan is approved, and a new management plan is put forth.
Norma Watkins, PhD
Fort Bragg, CA
A FREQUENT COMMENTER on Redheaded Blackbelt is often right bleeping on. Take it away, Mendo Momma:
“There is housing available, the rents are so astronomically high no one can afford them. Even in the new income based housing lowest the rent can go is $800 a month. If you’re working minimum wage you’re going to barely scrape by. Agreed it’s a substance abuse issue too and many other issues. Nothing new. We had the Kemper report, the Marbut report, we had all those other ‘studies’ going on for years; this is not a secret. It’s been going on for way too long. We need working solutions. And as far as a response from the county or board of supes, good effing luck. Get ready for the circle blame, the shift conversations loop away, loop away. Blame shifting shifts the heat of that hot potato no one wants the 3rd degree burns!!!”
VARIOUS PERSONS, elected and non-elected, have offered viable, or at least partly viable local responses to homelessness. The nut of the prob are the intractable, voluntary and “non-reimburseable” homeless — the drop-fall drunks, the drug-addicted, marginals of various descriptions, all of whom, before America lost its way in 1967, were placed in state hospital programs. State hospitals being no longer affordable, we're told, I'd say that the intractable homeless should be required to live in tiny house compounds, county-run trailer parks as suggested by former supervisor Pinches, or jailed as the last alternative to continue permitting them to destroy the Ukiah watershed and civic Fort Bragg. But Mendo Momma is right: our county's government donut eaters, all 31 agencies of them, laughably describing themselves as a “continuum of care,” will never, can't ever, because they all get paid regardless, do anything at all about drunk, drug addled, crazy people destroying public spaces.
POOR OLD JOE. Jill Biden's press secretary is demanding that Fox News apologize for a Fox & Friends host's Sunday comments that partially blame the first lady for the Afghanistan crisis. Rachel Campos-Duffy claimed Dr. Biden should have “loved her husband” enough to tell him not to run for president in 2020. Campos-Duffy described the president as “mentally frail” as lately exhibited by his staggeringly incompetent response to the Afghanistan crisis.
DOPE WATCH, an on-line comment: “Why would anyone sell their pounds for less than $1600? is my point. Dispensaries sell ounces for $300 so as a capitalist living in a capitalist country, if ya ain’t gettin' paid properly for your product there's a whole nation that is more than willing to pay for dank Humboldt goodness @ $1600. Corporations want our weed for way less than $1000. Corporations control all the dispensaries and a high majority of distributors and the legal side in California is forced to fall prey to them setting bulk prices. Meanwhile, in the not legal market across every main street in the U.S.A. people love Humboldt dankness. They are willing to pay $250 to $400 an ounce provided you find the right distributor, lol. Fuck Legal! I know plenty of people who have 16 friends, who also have 16 friends and so on and so on.
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE (And why not?) Wisconsin Sheriff says inmates will be called “residents” and “those in our care” to maintain the “dignity” of criminal while in jail. In an attempt to make a “change in philosophy,” a Wisconsin prison will now refer to its offenders as “residents” to “humanize and respect” them.
DREAMED last night that Biden had worked out a deal with 3rd District supervisor John Haschak for an exchange program with the Taliban to occupy Covelo under Sharia Law on a one year, renewable contract basis, but the Taliban backed out, saying the psycho-social nexus presented by Round Valley was “not of this world.”
IF YOU'VE LOST TRACK, Mendocino County is in its 4th covid surge. And if you never knew Mendocino County has two public health officers. Health Officer Number One is Dr. Coren; Health Officer Number Two is Dr. Doohan, who takes our pulse from San Diego at a hundred grand a year. Why two? That question propels one down endless halls of locked doors.
AS OF MONDAY MORNING, the Boonville Fair was on. The nice lady who answered the phone at the Fairgrounds office said, “They haven’t shut us down yet.”
BUT THEY MIGHT. 5th District Supervisor, Ted Williams (native of Comptche, fyi) said Monday he was checking with Dr. Coren, the county’s health officer, as to the status of the Fair.
WE, AND THE FAIR, live in hope. The banners are up, the zinnias are planted, the parking lot’s 19 handicap slots are empty, football season has commenced. All we need now is the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Ferris Wheel.
THE BOARD of the Anderson Valley Volunteer Firefighter’s Association has made the difficult decision not to offer the Hamburger Booth at the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show. We have participated in the Fair for countless years as a way to add to our funds to support the AVFD volunteers and as a way to contribute to the atmosphere of the Fair. We base our decision on the fact that the number of Covid cases are on the rise in our county. Our primary responsibility is to be able to respond to the needs of our community and by participating we would be putting our volunteer’s health at risk. With this decision the Association will look to other means to raise funds.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: Girl’s Volleyball has spiked into action mostly on the road, but locals will be able to see Coach Kendra McEwen’s formidable squad here at home against Fort Bragg on Wednesday, September 1st, 5:30pm. Futbol, coached by Adrian Maldonado, will be at home on Wednesday, September 15th against Tech, all home games start at 4:30pm. Coach Toohey’s revived football team kicks off against South Fork at South Fork on Friday, October 8th.
UH, seems like Ms. McEwen has resigned as volleyball coach, which is unfortunate, to say the least because she’s a truly excellent coach. Former coach Flick McDonald has stepped in to succeed Ms. M. whose statement follows:
To AVUSD Superintendent Simpson and all parties concerned: please accept this letter as notice of my resignation as volleyball coach at Anderson Valley High School effective immediately.
This morning I received a call from the superintendent informing me that the district would sever our working relationship if I did not take down a post I put on my personal facebook page yesterday. This is what the Post says:
‘I just finished probably getting the most covid exposure I've had during this whole pandemic, coaching a volleyball game at Clearlake high school. Not a single mask on their team, coaching staff, or even the refs, and probably five masks total in the half-full stands. No hand sanitizer, no airflow. About 98 degrees in the gym and even when I opened the doors myself, the refs close them -- said there is glare on the ground. Keeping it classy, Lake County. Jesus. My whole team will be getting tested, that's for sure. I'm so mad, sad, and disappointed.’
I also commented, ‘I'm totally shocked. It's like the admin/adults are not even trying. In my coaching experience (through this whole pandemic!) I found the kids to be incredibly good at following protocol if you just set it, and get them used to it! It's not that hard!’
I wrote the post after leaving the game feeling compromised because I'm pregnant and I have trained myself and my team to be very careful about keeping ourselves as safe as possible from covid exposure. I kept the privacy settings set so the post is not public and used grammar and sarcasm I would not use more publicly, but it's a small community and word spread fast. Though what I said was honest, in retrospect, I realize that the post probably caused alarm that led to unnecessarily charged yet likely productive publicity about the shortcomings in our volleyball program’s safety protocol in this difficult time when operating a sports program at all is a valiant effort.
My first call in the morning was from the principal who is a friend of mine telling me firmly to not post on social media about things related to student health and safety, and to instead call him. I pointed out that I did call my primary superior, the athletic director, and that the post was actually about my health and safety too. I said I'm not comfortable with only being allowed to share things that paint the school in a positive light. But it is true that I did not give him the chance to respond first, before going public with my anger and accusations.
I was then called by the superintendent who threatened to fire me if I did not take the post down. I said, it's nice to meet you, but I am disappointed to feel reprimanded rather than supported. She apologized for that, and told me I should know I would always be supported to take my team and leave a context that feels unsafe. I asked, How I should know where the line is; what counts as dangerous? I have not been given guidelines. I assume the other school would enforce masking and that their gym would be well ventilated, especially considering that the same school had to cancel a contest seven days prior to this due to four of their volleyball players getting exposed to covid in a classroom. But even the officials showed up unmasked and they said it's not required in that county.
When I explained to the superintendent that I have not received any official information from the district about safety protocol or expectations regarding covid-19 and that I have personally designed our safety practices and purchased our own masks and sanitizer for my team this whole time, she informed me that there are masks and test kits available for us that the district has. This is the first I've heard of this. She offered to have a meeting with me as soon as today, because I have been included in no meetings, no e-mails, not even pointed to CIF guidance, which I have accessed online but all of which looks to me to be outdated. I assumed that our school, state and conference officials have been working to develop these guidelines and that I would receive them soon. Instead of assuming, I should have spearheaded an effort to bring together the authorities to develop very clear protocol and make all expectations explicit well before the games got started.
Prevention can’t happen after the fact. The conditions at yesterday's game were unsafe. I have confidence that the district will do what it can to make sure that future contests won't pose the same threat, especially when we play across county lines where health and safety mandates may not be the same as ours. I would be happy to provide input to developing those guidelines based on my years worth of experience coaching during this pandemic. But for my own health and safety I must resign from the position. I hope that someone else will step in because those 25 athletes who have worked so hard to play safely deserve a season. Perhaps without a pregnant coach, the risk-benefit analysis can afford them a little more gametime than they could get with me.
It has been an honor,
Kendra McEwen, Philo
OUR NEW SUPERINTENDENT, Louise Simson, asked for comment, replied: “We thank Coach McEwen for her service and dedication to our students and families. We wish her all the best and send good wishes and health to her with the upcoming arrival of her child.”
HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, Jim Snyder, reports that 7-12 enrollment combined is 230 students. ”We only have one ‘new’ staff member this year at AVHS. She's not new to us, but has returned after working at the Elementary School. Gabrielle Visco, who was the AVHS Librarian, then moved to the Special Education teacher at the Elementary, has now joined our staff. She is teaching Special Education."
VOLLEYBALL COVERAGE from the Lake County Record-Bee: "Cougars notch first win, Cards go to 2-0"
Agenda for the 9-2-21 Planning Commission
Dear Interested Parties,
The Staff Report(s) and Agenda for September 2, 2021, is posted on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
Please contact staff with any questions.
— James F.Feenan, Commission Services Supervisor, My Direct Line: (707) 234-6664, Main Line: (707) 234-6650
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 23, 2021
LEARTIS CARADINE, Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale, parole violation.
ENRIQUE NUNEZ-DAVILA, Covelo. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen vehicle, probation revocation.
JESSICA OLIVER, Ukiah. Vandalism, offenses while on bail.
EDWARD RAMOS, Stockton/Ukiah. DUI.
TENSION OVER NEW DEVELOPMENT RISES amid water scarcity in Healdsburg
by Mary Callahan
The way Healdsburg City Council member Brigette Mansell sees it, the drastic water conservation measures already required of those who live in Healdsburg make it obvious the city needs to stop and think about how much more it can grow.
Development of luxury housing and hotels that cater to tony visitors and part-time residents — who may not be as invested in the community’s well-being — defies logic, she says.
Mansell, a former Healdsburg councilwoman and mayor, and other like-minded residents support continued efforts to provide affordable housing in the town.
But with more than 500 planned and prospective units in the pipeline — more than half of which would be sold at market rate — they want the city to suspend water hookups until officials have a more realistic grasp on balancing water supply and demand.
“Don’t be building something you cannot show you have water for,” Mansell said. “We don’t feel confident in our water security.”
Mansell said large projects currently in the works, like the Mill District and North Village — both combined housing and hotel developments — were authorized in part because of an erroneously rosy supply outlook contained in the city’s 2015 Urban Water Management Plan, which is required to be updated every five years by state law.
Mansell, who sat on the dais when a unanimous city council approved it, said the document prepared by a well-paid consultant failed to account for the kind of severe drought currently plaguing the region, as well as the unprecedented regulatory restrictions that have strained local supplies more than ever before.
Last month, she launched a petition drive calling for an emergency moratorium on water hookups until a new update to the plan is approved. She’s gathered more than 500 signatures so far.
“We want to stop adding to our water system, stop hookups — any new hookups that are nonessential — stop until we have a plan for the future,” Mansell said. “We’re only asking what the state is asking for our town, which is a viable plan that shows that we can in fact supply the businesses and residents of Healdsburg.”
Others in town are seeking detailed accounting of water demand by project component, development timelines and hospitality water use data.
“If we don’t any water, then you can’t hook up stuff. It’s a pretty simple principle,” said Healdsburg resident John Faulkner. “And if you’ve ever gone over to look at Lake Sonoma, if you look at Lake Mendocino, it’s a total freakout. People don’t grasp how dire this is.”
Healdsburg Utilities Director Terry Crowley and other city officials said it’s not clear that what Mansell terms “a pause” would have the desired effect even if the city could legally withdraw from development agreements that have already been negotiated.
None of the projects in the works will require a significant number of hookups until late 2022 or ‘23, so the amount of staff time that would be invested in a moratorium for short-term savings would take away from other efforts that could save much more water, they said.
Crews broke ground at the start of the year on 41 low-income rental units on the south end of town in the Mill District, for instance. Thirty-nine luxury homes ranging in price from about $800,000 to more than $5 million will be constructed in the first phase of market rate housing, but the specific plans for those aren’t approved yet, Crowley said.
A 53-room luxury hotel, commercial space and another 120 homes — mostly market-rate condominiums and about 30 middle-income rental apartments — have been envisioned as part of the project, as well, though they could take a decade to build.
The project also is to include a rain capture system and a purple pipeline to carry recycled water through the development once the city is able to fund a system to transport reclaimed wastewater into central Healdsburg, City Manager Jeff Kay said.
City officials also cast doubt on petitioners’ assertion that the city could easily deny already approved water hookups based on the drought emergency, a move Kay said would require findings of “an imminent threat to public health” under state law.
“These are agreements,” Mayor Evelyn Mitchell said. “These people have received entitlements. For us to go back on that would be very difficult and potentially very costly. But I don’t think we need to do that, and we’re not planning to do that.”
In addition, developers are only bringing forward the affordable housing projects badly sought and required under state and regional building allocations because they’re required in exchange for permission to build the resorts and higher-end homes that bring in profits, Kay said.
Any new homes and resorts, as well as higher density housing, also must be built to state standards that make them more water- and energy-efficient than older homes and buildings, city officials said.
“We would lose lots of affordable housing,” if a moratorium were passed, Kay said. “I think that’s a practical outcome that we need to be honest with ourselves about. Affordable housing is not, for the most part, a stand-alone project that would proceed.”
“We’ve got two crises, and we need to find a way to work on both of them,” he said.
Concerns voiced by Mansell and her allies echo those raised around Sonoma County over the past several months, as the region’s landscape has grown increasingly parched and water supplies, alarmingly scarce.
Many local residents have wondered why cities continue to build new housing even as they impose water-use restrictions on existing residents. Climate scientists also warn of more extreme and frequent droughts to come.
“You can grasp the big picture pretty easily,” said Healdsburg resident John Faulkner, who is aligned with Mansell.
The debate they raise also reflects continuing tensions particular to Healdsburg, a one-time farm town transformed over the past 20-plus years into an upscale Wine Country destination that has priced out many who might have found homes there not long ago.
In part, that’s due to a 2-decade-old growth-management ordinance that limits new housing to 30 units a year, except in the case of lower-cost, affordable and multifamily dwellings. But the cachet and desirability of Healdsburg has also driven up prices and brought tourists in droves.
Locals have seen housing prices skyrocket and boutique hotel rooms multiply, along with high-end restaurants whose workers, finding Healdsburg too expensive, generally must reside elsewhere.
Now, after two years of critically low rainfall that have turned the Russian River watershed into ground zero for California’s drought, Healdsburg is operating under a 40% systemwide water conservation mandate with additional cutbacks to come.
Lake Mendocino is at the second-lowest level it has ever been and shrinking week-by-week. And the city, despite having some of the oldest, most senior water rights in the Russian River watershed, has recently been ordered to stop drawing any more water than is necessary to meet its residents’ basic health and safety needs. That amount is still being determined in negotiation with the State Water Resources Control Board, though the state’s default level is 55 gallons per capita per day.
Right now, residents are instructed by the city to use 74 gallons per day or less. Last year, they used, on average, 160.
But most had plenty of room to cut back, Kay said. The city’s traditionally high water-use patterns put Healdsburg’s per capita rates near the top of Sonoma County cities — with per person consumption about 1 1/2 times historical use in most other cities.
And data shows residents collectively cut their use by 46% in June of this year, compared to the same month last year, after the city set a 40% conservation rate.
Commercial use has only declined by 3% over last year, though it’s down 16% from 2019 — pre-COVID. While hotels account for only about 3% of the town’s water use over all, Mansell and others find it hard to imagine guests paying well over $1,000 or even $1,500 a night or folks visiting second and third homes worrying about how long their showers are or even appreciating the fact there’s a drought in the first place.
“It’s bad enough that people purchase homes in Healdsburg and then just rent them out, or they become vacation homes here, and they don’t become part of the community,” Faulkner said. “But the other thing is all these enormous projects that the city council has OK’d? We don’t have any water.”
Retired history professor Tyra Benoit moved to Healdsburg after the 2017 Tubbs fire destroyed her Santa Rosa home but has reviewed a video recording of the 2015 council meeting at which her new town’s water management plan was discussed.
Even though the region was near the end of a drought then, the consultant, she said, “made it sound like we’ve got plenty of water.”
“It seems to me that it was kind of like paper water — it looks good on paper, but it’s not real,” Benoit said.
Crowley said the plan as written in 2015, during what was then among the most serious droughts in history, reflects the best information the city had at the time — data from what had been the worst drought ever, 1975-to-77, analysis of population growth and change water use behavior.
But the current drought is proving to be unprecedented, Crowley said, with two of the three driest years on record (depending if the rainfall figures come from Ukiah or Santa Rosa), warming temperatures that have contributed to loss of moisture, rising populations and state-imposed restrictions on key water rights in the Russian River never before put off limits.
He said the updated Urban Water Management Plan now being drafted will account for what’s now understood about life under climate change and the more extreme conditions it creates, as well as the kinds of conservation efforts and mitigations the city will have to face going forward.
A public workshop on the plan is scheduled for Monday evening, with council action likely around October, Crowley said.
Mansell said she hopes the city takes a good, long look at the long-term implications before approving it.
“It’s not going well up here,” she said, “so why do we keep thinking that we’re going to get out of this in another year?”
* * *
RE HEALDSBURG'S OPPOSITION to new development, a reader writes: First it was “whaddabout my view” then it was “whaddabout neighborhood character” then it was “whaddabout too much shade” then it was “whaddabout parking” and now it's “whaddabout water.” Make no mistake, this is no more or less than NIMBYism in its latest incarnation. “I favor affordable housing, but” is roughly equivalent to saying “I'm not a racist, but” because in the case of a NIMBY you can be completely assured that no matter what they are currently concern-trolling about, the core issue is that they don't want more housing, especially housing for “those” people, being built. At least, not in their neighborhoods. The proof of this is that when you meet the current objections of the NIMBYs on a given development they will simply move the goal posts and raise some other issue that absolutely has to be addressed before the development can continue. They never run out of reasons. Ignore them.
ARTISTS’ CO-OP features Sea Otter photos by Pat Toth-Smith thru Sept. 6
Visit in person & online as you marvel at the lively ventures of Sea Otters off the Monterey shore seen through Pat’s intimate lens. Open daily from 11-4, at Kasten & Albion in Mendocino. Ph 707-937-2217.
A READER WRITES:
I found this article from the recent Harper's issue fascinating. I thought you might, too, so am passing it along in case you hadn't already read it. It basically characterizes the organized efforts to curb “disinformation” on the internet as a centrist project waging a turf war by established gatekeepers like the NYT to regain disputed territory encroached on by upstarts like Zuckerberg. It's a nicely argued and somewhat persuasive piece.
NOTICE, there are two sets of hostages in this phase of what looks like an engineered US collapse: the thousands of stranded Americans who can’t get out of Afghanistan thanks to the history-rockin’ ineptitude of “Joe Biden,” Tony Blinken, and General Mark Milley, and the millions of We-the-People back home whose minds are hostage to the narratives concocted in a shadowland of sinister governance. Welcome to a week of throwdowns and showdowns, a force majeure of mind change.
A strange paralysis in the Pentagon has prevented the use of US power to clear an escape corridor to Kabul’s airport and establish order in the facility — this, after the tactically mystifying decision to abandon the US Bagram military airfield, a good twenty miles outside of festering Kabul, and surrounded by more easily-securable empty desert. Britain and France managed to get their nationals out last week, only to be rebuked by American brass for “making us look bad.” That helped, I’m sure.
And then how long can the stranded Americans even stay hidden and alive? They have to eat. Either they come out of their hidey-holes and get to some market, or they would (theoretically) have to send some Afghani servants to fetch them supplies, But, what Afghani in his right mind would want to be caught in service to the Americans by the Taliban? That quandary must have a pretty short time-horizon on it. Standing by to see how it works out….
— James Kunstler
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Interesting take on the future of education and the rise of homeschools. After other “careers”, I got a teaching certificate. During student teaching, I had to observe other teachers. While there are many, many excellent teachers out there, I was shocked to see that even when an “outsider” was sitting in their classrooms, Two out of three teachers achieved almost NOTHING during the hour I observed. One (ironically, a teacher I had in school) literally read the paper during the entire class with me sitting the back taking notes. Can’t say I entirely blame him….at the time, many years ago, things were already going south and I can’t imagine his clientele were interested in biology.
Even in good schools/classrooms there is much wasted time but let’s face it how many homeschools will do better? How many parents are able to provide adequate instruction in science or math beyond fourth grade? There is a skill to teaching and even folks with the knowledge can’t always explain it in an understandable way.
I do believe you’re right that there will be new models of home schooling and the network idea will fill in some holes like the science/math thing.
There are no easy answers but it’s clear to me that we’ve got to do something to improve education for all or we’re going to keep losing ground on almost every front. Democracy will thrive only among an enlightened populace.
A TEXAN'S TAKE
IN OTHER NEWS: ODDS AND INS: Why most Texans won't get the vaccine! It took 3 decades for them to start wearing seatbelts. I can just hear some Texan saying back then, CIRCA 1959, “The Gumment don't have no bidnez in my bedroo..er, ah. Car! If'n they want to tell me what I can do in my own dadgum car, then they can take up the payments on that sucker!” Then add, “Nobody wants to be trapped in a smashed up car. We'd rather take our chances on being thowed into the next county, but there's no way that's even possible if we're wearing them damned seat belts. That's not safety. That's a death sentence. If they want to kill us, they can jest send me to Huntsville.” And then, “Next thing ya know, they'll be taking our guns away from us if we let 'em get by with this nonsense! What they're missing is that some people jest need killing! That don't take no brain surgery to figure out...or, rocket scientifics...That's my say-so.
P.S. If I get in a bad wreck, I wanna be thowed clear! That's just Kennygarden Logic!
WHAT ELSE DON'T WE KNOW?
by Maureen Dowd
As President Joe Biden watched Kabul descend into hell, did he think of his beloved William Butler Yeats?
He is the poet Biden recited as a teen to conquer his stutter. And Biden has quoted Yeats before while talking about the Middle East.
“The Second Coming” eerily sprang to life in the president’s helter-skelter exit from Afghanistan, a land that still prizes falconry and falcons flying in widening gyres.
When Yeats writes about darkness dropped in the sands of the desert and a slouching “rough beast” with “a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,” he could be describing the Taliban. Anarchy loosed upon the world, a blood-dimmed tide, and the worst, full of passionate intensity.
Biden did the right thing getting us out of there. But he did it badly.
Wynken, Blynken and Nod, as some in military circles are derisively calling Jake Sullivan, Tony Blinken and Biden, consider themselves foreign affairs savants. Yet even Democrats can’t defend them and are convening hearings.
The pandemonium drew comparisons to some of the worst debacles in modern American history: the fall of Saigon and the Bay of Pigs. A baby hoisted over razor wire into the arms of a Marine. Afghans clinging to the wings and landing gear of an American jet as it took off, then plunging to the tarmac; later, human remains were found on one of the wheels. A 17-year-old Afghan soccer player falling to his death off the side of a plane.
Women’s rights vanished with the crack of a Taliban whip. The Wall Street Journal said some Taliban commanders were commandeering young women to be brides for Taliban fighters. The story captured the heartbreaking moment for young women who had never lived under Taliban rule. A young researcher, caught by surprise at the fall of Kabul, was working last Sunday in a short skirt. Trapped at the office as the Taliban closed in, she thought about wrapping herself in a curtain before a friend arrived to escort her home.
Allies expressed their furious sense of betrayal, with British lawmakers raging against Biden in Parliament. Biden’s abrupt unilateral path was “throwing us and everybody else to the fire,” said one. It was another hard lesson about getting tied up with the Americans for the British, who enabled George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to execute their spurious, attenuated occupations of Muslim countries.
Americans are not built to occupy feudal countries under scorching suns halfway around the globe. Even the British long ago had to face the folly of that — in particular in 1842, when some 17,000 British and Indian army soldiers, wives and servants were killed as they tried to retreat through the snowy mountains to Jalalabad.
The idea that we were going to turn Iraq and Afghanistan into mini-mes of Jeffersonian democracy was always an arrogant miscalculation, driven by macho hubris, not national security. If we stayed for a century — installing corrupt, larcenous puppets, listening to generals lie about turning the corner, surging, and wasting trillions — we couldn’t do it. (Gen. David Petraeus, please stop talking.)
But how could we leave the tens of thousands of Afghans who helped and trusted us to the tender mercies of the Taliban? A U.N. report warns that the Taliban were hunting down people who worked with America or NATO, as well as their families, and threatening to kill them.
Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary, looked flummoxed when the New York Times’ Helene Cooper pressed him on why they did not have a good plan to save the Afghans desperately clawing to get into the airport.
The greatest military on earth is now dependent on “diplomacy with the Taliban,” as Cooper posed it, to save the people who risked their lives helping us. Austin and Gen. Mark Milley seemed to have bungled the whole thing. They did not inspire confidence in that news conference, which aired even as some Afghans in the military fled their country in American aircraft and the Taliban were seizing American guns, helicopters and trucks.
Donald Trump could have made safe and orderly passage a part of his deal when he negotiated his 2020 “surrender agreement,” as his former national security adviser H.R. McMaster called it in an interview with Bari Weiss.
We all know Trump is a terrible deal-maker. Biden could have told the Taliban he was not abiding by Trump’s fatally flawed deal and renegotiated it to avoid this pell-mell disgrace.
But Trump and Biden were so impatient to get out, their screw-ups merged into strangulating red tape.
The State Department dawdled for months in getting visas for Afghan allies, and as the Taliban seized cities, towns and provincial capitals, it neglected contingency planning for a possible evacuation.
Still, it is enraging to watch a parade of dunderheads preen on cable — anchors and generals and chatterers — the same people whose cheerleading ensnared us in 20 years of quicksand in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We didn’t know 9/11 was coming, even though we should have. We didn’t know Jan. 6 was coming, even though we should have. We didn’t know the Potemkin government in Afghanistan that we’d propped up for two decades would fall in two seconds, even though we should have.
What else don’t we know?
(Courtesy, the New York Times)
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 If the Afghan citizenry is not ready and willing to take up arms and defend their own country, then what is the point? The USA cannot prop up puppet governments for all of eternity. We need to get out of the worldwide policing game and at least start to try and look after our own turf here at home. I know, I know…..like this will ever be the case given everything going on at the Homefront, but one can hope. I take a strict isolationist stance and think we should just hunker down and enjoy our final years and let the rest of the world simply fall apart however it wants.
 Thousands of American citizens, thousands more Afghani translators/helpers that have been trying for years to get out, all of them stranded with the US impotent, its massive military and civil service bureaucracy with its legions of workers unable to cope.
Contrast the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and its orderly columns which looked a model of efficiency in comparison to this fiasco. This after 20 years and all those many billions? A handful of illiterate turbaned farmers in sandals did this?
What does it mean? Maybe this, it means that for the people that purported to be our superiors the disgrace and discrediting is complete, their right to rule based on merit and ability a complete lie. For decades they’ve been but empty suits, a parasitic over-class governing by intimidation and bluff and bluster, self-enrichment their only motive.
So, what follows? That’s the hard part. History can be instructive in these matters but every place is different as is each succeeding era. So we can talk about “regime change” but regimes don’t change according to pre-set trajectories and time-lines. There’s talk about societal “resets” pushed on us by individuals on high, and I think the time is nigh for exactly that, but I think the re-set won’t be one determined by a few magnificently wealthy men in opulent quarters.
The Afghanistan debacle may be the precipitating incident for a cascade that follows but I don’t think that Washington will be at the center of it. As in Afghanistan, the US government and America’s governing elite will be bystanders, overwhelmed by events. And they will find something out as did previous regimes in other countries, that people have power if other people listen and obey. But without that, there’s no power.
 I am old enough to have seen the country suffer through numerous crises, political, economic, and natural disaster, but to me they always were of the “this too shall pass” variety. Of course the chaos in Afghanistan will pass as well; we just don’t know the timeframe or what the body count will be, but before it is over most of the media will lose interest, just as the border crisis has faded from awareness for most.
What is different with this crisis is just how in your face it is as to the facade of American power projection and as concerns the almost incomprehensible incompetence of our military and government leadership. Hundreds of billions a year for the military and intelligence agencies, yet they didn’t see this coming. How could they not have any plans for the evacuation of Americans and our Afghan allies? How could they not even know how many Americans are there? Being they assumed the Taliban would eventually take over, where was the plan to disable American planes and other equipment left behind when they did? Why weren’t they working 24/7 on the Visa’s for our allies in the months leading up to the troop withdrawal, and at least quietly getting their families out of the country in anticipation of a collapse? None of this is rocket scientist stuff.
What all this tells me is that the rot from within is pretty far along. We may have more weapons and more advanced technology than anyone else, but it is all smoke and mirrors when it comes to real power. No doubt the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, and other bad actors see all this, and they likely know more than us common folk can possibly know.
I’ve long been a believer in the “long emergency” concept, and we’ve been in the midst of it no doubt, but now I can see a rapidly unfolding general collapse when some innocuous event begins to spin out of control. No different than a majestic tree that has stood for centuries falls suddenly. The bark we see on the outside looks healthy but the inside has slowly been rotting for decades.
 Back at the time of Katrina, I was vacationing in Canada and can recall sitting in my hotel in Quebec City just staring at the TV incredulous at the profound ineptness of the federal govts response, or lack thereof. How could a country of 300 million people be unable to muster a cohesive response for days on end? How could we be unable to evacuate hospitals or at a minimum bring in adequate supplies to them? How could we not muster enough helicopters and boats to rescue people off of the roofs of their homes? Get enough food and water into that convention center, and maybe some portapotties too? Big as Katrina was, it was just a regional event. I knew then the federal govt could in no way manage a national emergency.
During the Obama years the corruption in the upper echelons of the FBI, Justice Dept, State Dept, and more became increasingly evident and since then we’ve come to the point that they barely pretend otherwise.
Then comes along the pandemic and we learn the hard way that despite all the money thrown at pandemic planning in years prior, there weren’t any plans at the federal level, or at least none that made any sense. And we saw that States and cities also didn’t have anything one might call a plan either. They didn’t even know how many working ventilators we had, let alone where they were, nor what was available for stockpiled supplies. That it came as a surprise to them that the just-in-time production system could not magically give them everything they wanted spoke volumes concerning their incompetencies. How could it have been a surprise to public health officials that most of what they use everyday was produced overseas?
Now we have the debacle in Afghanistan. I have absolute respect and admiration for the troops, but the lack of leadership and the lack of even the most basic competencies will now needlessly cost many lives of the ones we leave behind. The same goes for the intelligence agencies and the administration. It is painfully apparent there weren’t any plans for dealing with the fall of the Afghan govt. No plans for evacuating Americans or our allies & their families., No plans to disable the Blackhawks and other high value military hardware before the Taliban seized it. No plans on where to take those that do get evacuated. No plans to rapid process the exits of our Afghan allies & their families. No plans for anything of consequence.
As much as I might wish it weren’t so, I have no faith in any branch of our govt. to protect the interests of the American people or our allies. It is as if the US has become a shell of a country that has rotted from within. Our institutions have failed us, and they don’t seem to care. We are truly on our own.
 Not everybody uses cannabis, not everybody drinks alcohol, not everybody takes pills, not everybody uses heroin, not everybody gambles, not everybody sucks the glass D, pick your poison. But this fake idea that if you're affiliated with cannabis you're going to be rich beyond your flat billed cap is a pipe dream at best. Show me the successful cannabis farmer and I will show you a lot of money that goes to the feds and their counterparts below. The struggling folks at flophouse farms tell the true tale. Running into the woods as the LEOs show up. Hungry, exploited, lost, no education or real skills, wasted time, wasted youth, when the game's over that is their truth.
RUSSIAN SOLDIER BEFORE AND AFTER WWII
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF CUOMO: LESSONS LEARNED
by Ralph Nader
The resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo invites comparisons, historical context, and proposals for the future.
First, the comparisons: Former President Donald J. Trump must be chuckling. As the worst sexual predator to rule the White House, he must be wondering about the “weak” (his word) loser who quit while protesting his actions were innocent. Trump, the rapacious, super sexual assaulter, physically pushed women around, boasted about his prowess, and bragged about his seizures of women’s private parts. He also paid hush money to prostitutes in violation of campaign laws during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Yet the Democrats, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), hounded Senator Al Franken out from the Senate before his requested investigations by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics began its inquiry for alleged sexual harassment. Franken’s actions were not Trump-like by any measure and occurred before Franken even ran for office. The women who worked for him, past and present, voluntarily came forward to vouch for Franken as a Senate champion both of women and of consumer rights.
When I presented Senator Gillibrand with a detailed letter indicting Trump and asked for her to take action, she did not reply, nor did nearly one hundred other Democratic women members of Congress in the House and Senate who had this letter personally delivered to their offices. (See letter here.) Forget the men there. No one disagreed with the letter. Some staff to whom the letter was personally delivered teared up in frustrated anger. “It’s all up to Nancy Pelosi,” some would say, for any House investigation to commence.
But Trump knew how to intimidate, unleash torrents of vicious internet messages by his backers, and relentlessly go after his opponents by name with wide media coverage. So, for these lawmakers and the #MeToo movement activists, the worst received the least of their relentless demands. Trump got away with his despicable, violent actions while his lawyers are obstructing, with tactics of attrition, several tort lawsuits now underway against him by his victims.
Second, the grim history: Perhaps the greatest regular form of violence between humans has been men beating up on women. For millennia this has been the case, with violence against children a close second. It is still ongoing everywhere, though the lights are starting to shine into this infernal darkness. But in an unusual reversal at long last, on the ladder of accountability, those in positions of visible power – political, economic, and academic as well as those in the media’s eye, are feeling the most ferocious demands to immediately quit their jobs and pay damages to avoid the additional possibility of prosecution.
Top media executives, corporate bosses, leading politicians, prominent sports coaches, and others at or near the top of their institutions, were tossed out for sexual harassment – not punished for any serious violent corporate crimes or for pushing illegal, murderous wars – but for believed allegations of behavior ranging from actual felonies to 1950s type non-consensual flirting with subordinates.
From women never being believed over the centuries, if they dared to protest, there are those few who have gone public against “celebrities” with accusations who are now being immediately believed.
Some proposals: Governor Andrew Cuomo fell from favor for doing far less than what many in the New York State Legislature have been doing with impunity forever. Rampant occupational and physical sexism has been brutish and punishing, often connected to deals requested by commercial lobbyists, and overall an accepted part of Albany’s state legislative culture. Behaving lawmakers have not blown the whistle on their seriously misbehaving colleagues. There are simply too many consequences for their doing so, in addition to the penalties confronting the whistle-blowing victims themselves. As one long-time observer commented: “The scene was worse years ago, but it is still ugly and rancid today.”
Cuomo went out with a semi-mea culpa resignation address to the people of the State of New York. He could have brought the whole legislature’s tolerance of violent exploitation against women down with him. Moreover, by demanding due process in any impeachment proceedings in the state legislature, Cuomo also could have helped stem the tide of “conviction by accusation” without having due process such as cross-examination, and other rules of evidence in a judicial-type forum.
What does Governor Cuomo want to hide? What other scores do politicians want to settle with him?
The great civil rights and human rights advocate, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, long argued that giving the worst offender their due process is what confirms the rule of law. Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic were given independent counsel and formal trials even though their known mass slaughters of innocents were legion.
The captured Nazi butchers tried at Nuremberg in 1945 could have been immediately executed. Instead, their trials and convictions expanded international law, along with the principle that saying “I was just following orders,” does not exonerate.
Influential American politicians rarely lose their positions of power over their most destructive decisions. Consider the more than one million plus innocent Iraqi victims of the lying, destructive, criminal war against Iraq, which George W. Bush and Dick Cheney perpetuated with complete immunity to this day.
Presently, Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, Gillibrand, and other Democrats who demanded Cuomo quit, are not demanding the resignations of the dangerous Republican governors of Florida and Texas. These men, facing a surging contagious Covid-19 pandemic, cynically cite “individual freedom” to boastfully oppose or undermine long-proven, life-protective measures. For instance, they oppose local school board mask mandates threatening to sue, defund, and otherwise keep local officials from obeying state laws that override these homicidal politicians’ executive orders.
Flouting CDC standards, Governors DeSantis (Florida) and Abbott (Texas) are knowingly and ideologically increasing preventable fatalities and disease, causing hospitals to fill up and health practitioners to wring their hands over staff shortages and deceit at the top. These governors meet the standard definition of negligent manslaughter. Those deadly crimes, remarkably, still do not match the accusations against Cuomo for these Democrats.
Rather, it is almost always some bigoted words, some bullying personal mistreatment, or some minor but personal misuse of funds – not the huge waste and corruption in their administration – that produce expulsion.
The Cuomo ouster was a lost opportunity to start cleaning house in a more lasting manner in the Albany sex pits while sending a message to all state capitols to stop these hothouses of sex-crazed men, away from their homes, and sometimes willing to satisfy their personal lust through craven lobbyists working deviously against the interests of the people.
WILL SENATE DEMOCRATS STOOP TO CONFIRMING RAHM EMANUEL AS AMBASSADOR?
by Norman Solomon
When President Biden announced late Friday afternoon that he will nominate Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan, the timing just before the weekend was clearly intended to minimize attention to the swift rebukes that were sure to come.
The White House described Emanuel as having “a distinguished career in public service,” but several progressive Democrats in Congress quickly went on the attack. “This is a travesty,” Rep. Mondaire Jones tweeted. “Senators of good conscience must not vote to confirm him.” Another African-American representative, Cori Bush, said that Emanuel “must be disqualified from ever holding an appointed position in any administration. Call your Senator and urge them to vote NO.”
The response from Rep. Rashida Tlaib was pointed: “If you believe Black lives indeed matter, then the Senate must reject his appointment immediately.” Tlaib accompanied her tweet with a link to an article that The Nation magazine published in the fall of 2018, when Emanuel was nearing the end of his eight years as Chicago’s mayor, with this sum-up: “The outgoing mayor's legacy will be defined by austerity, privatization, displacement, gun violence, and police brutality.”
All three congressmembers mentioned Emanuel’s responsibility for the notorious cover-up of the Chicago police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. For 13 months, during his campaign for re-election in 2015, Mayor Emanuel’s administration suppressed a ghastly dashboard-camera video showing the death of McDonald, an African American who was shot 16 times by a police officer as he walked away.
After Emanuel emerged as Biden’s likely choice for the ambassador job a few months ago, longtime Chicago journalist and activist Delmarie Cobb wrote a scathing assessment of his mayoral record. While mentioning that Emanuel “closed 50 public schools in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods,” Cobb also pointed out that “he closed six of 12 mental health clinics in these communities.” She added: “Now, who needs access to mental health care more than Chicago’s Black and brown residents who are underserved, underemployed and under constant threat of violence?”
Emanuel’s dreadful record as mayor of Chicago was in keeping with his entire career, spanning several Machiavellian decades that included stints as a member of Congress, a high-level aide for Presidents Clinton and Obama, and an investment bank director using his connections to make $18 million in two and a half years. Emanuel cemented his reputation as a combative and powerful player in the Clinton White House, pushing through policies that harmed the working class and people of color, including the NAFTA trade deal, the infamous 1994 crime bill and punitive “welfare reform.”
That Biden has now chosen Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. envoy to Japan -- the world’s third-largest economy -- is, among other things, a distinct presidential middle finger to the constituency that gave him the highest proportion of support among all demographic groups in last year’s general election: Black voters.
High-profile corporate Democrats were quick to lavish praise on the Emanuel nomination. Both of the Democratic senators from Illinois helped lead the testimonials. Dick Durbin said in a statement that Emanuel “has a lifetime of public service preparing him to speak for America.” Tammy Duckworth chimed in, saying that his “years of experience make him well suited to represent the United States of America in this important role.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blew hazy blue smoke to an absurd degree, declaring: “In the House and, indeed, across the nation, Rahm Emanuel is known and respected by all for his relentlessness and track record of success. His great experience, from the U.S. House to the White House, will serve our nation well, as he works to deepen one of our nation’s most important alliances, champion American interests abroad and advance regional security and prosperity.”
After the nomination announcement, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that “the Biden administration is apparently willing to spend some domestic political capital with an Emanuel nomination,” and the newspaper noted that “progressives mounted a drive to block the nomination of Emanuel.” That drive, being coordinated by my colleagues at RootsAction.org, has already generated several thousand individual constituent emails to senators urging them to oppose the nomination. As RootsAction co-founder Jeff Cohen told the Sun-Times, “the #RejectRahm/‘NoToRahm’ campaign has virtually organized itself.”
A coalition of 20 organizations, mostly national while including several Chicago-based groups, has launched a grassroots campaign so that every senator will hear from constituents urging a “no” vote on Emanuel. In June, 28 victims and relatives of victims of police violence in Chicago released a joint statement, along with a poignant video, denouncing Emanuel and decrying the prospect that he’ll be rewarded with an ambassador post.
Despite the pressure for party-line conformity, Democratic support for the nomination could fracture in the Senate. Replying to letters from constituents urging him to oppose Emanuel for ambassador, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley -- who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- seemed responsive.
“I have heard from Oregonians who are concerned about certain aspects of Mr. Emanuel’s record during his tenure as Chicago’s mayor, in particular his administration’s response to the tragic shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager who was killed by Chicago police in 2014,” Sen. Merkley wrote. He added that “at a time of a national conversation about police accountability and combatting systemic racism, there is so much more that we can and must do to address racism and discrimination in our law enforcement practices. … Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should Mr. Emanuel’s nomination come before the Senate for consideration.”
Merkley is one of 11 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will convene a public hearing with Rahm Emanuel before voting on his nomination. Whether Merkley and other senators will be open to preventing an Ambassador Emanuel from going to Tokyo is unclear at best. But it’s possible.
(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.)
DOG ME AROUND
How many more years, have I got to let you dog me around
How many more years, have I got to let you dog me around
I'd soon rather be dead, sleeping six feet in the ground
I'm gonna fall on my knees, I'm gonna raise up my right hand
I'm gonna fall on my knees, I'm gonna raise up my right hand
Say I'd feel much better darling, if you'd just only understand
I'm going upstairs, I'm gonna bring back down my clothes
I'm going upstairs, I'm gonna bring back down my clothes, do them all
If anybody ask about me, just tell'em I walked out on
— Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf)