Front Approaching | KZYX Ukiah | Coast Respite | Canine Adoption | Cost Overrun | Harvest Party | Mendo-Lake Audiology | Agnes McNabb | Ed Notes | 12th Strike | Yesterday's Catch | Cannabis Curiosities | Courthouse Square | Fatland Tour | Frankentea | Not Legal | Avoid Chains | Beach Returned | Millworker Housing | PlumpJack March | 1935 Lawmen | Drummer Boy | Senate Sponsors | Coast Dems | Just Wash | Moderate Alarm | Cold Coffee | Afghanistan Verdict | Resist Ignorance
DRY WEATHER will continue today. A cold front will approach the area tonight and move onshore Monday. This front will bring rain to the area, with the heaviest totals in Del Norte and northern Humboldt counties. Below normal temperatures are expected Monday and Tuesday, with a return to near normal temperatures later in the week. Frost is possible in some interior valleys Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. (NWS)
CITY OF UKIAH APPROVES 90-FOOT ANTENNA DOWNTOWN FOR PLANNED KZYX MOVE
Mendocino County Public Broadcasting acquiring property on West Clay Street
by Justine Frederiksen
The city of Ukiah has approved a permit for a 90-foot antenna to be placed on West Clay Street as part of a plan by Mendocino County Public Broadcasting to move its main studio for KZYX&Z from Anderson Valley to downtown Ukiah.
However, Zoning Administrator Craig Schlatter said during a hearing Sept. 23 that before approving the permit he was adding conditions to ensure the landscaping surrounding the equipment planned for 390 W. Clay St. would “appropriately screen the fenced-in tower such that it is not visually noticeable from the sidewalk.”
“As you’re walking down Pine Street… you really shouldn’t see the tower and you shouldn’t see the fence,” Schlatter said. “And that may not happen overnight, but that’s the goal: lush trees surrounding that tower.”
“Absolutely, we’d be happy to have that included as a condition,” said Tom Dow, chair of the MCPB board of directors, who had contacted neighbors of the property prior to submitting the permit application in the hopes of mitigating any concerns. Dow added that landscaping hadn’t been included previously because it didn’t seem appropriate as the property is still being acquired.
While explaining the project during the Thursday hearing, city planner Jessie Davis noted that the applicant “took it upon themselves to engage neighboring residents to identify their concerns,” which resulted in “relocating the (90-foot) tower approximately 27-feet to the south,” which would allow existing large trees to further hide it from view.
Davis said the applicant also changed the proposed fencing type from “chain-link with vinyl flaps to wooden fencing,” which he described as being more aesthetically pleasing.
Dow also explained during the hearing that the antenna was not a broadcast tower, adding that he was “at fault for not identifying this specifically as a Station Transmission Link antenna, which is a low-power signal that goes out to a high-power transmitter, in this case on Laughlin Peak. So we’re not actually broadcasting, and that’s my mistake for not being a better radio engineer.”
When Schlatter asked for more details about the generator proposed to be added to the site, Dow said the capacity is 20 KW, and he estimated the size to be five-feet wide by three feet high. “We could look at an enclosure, or placing it between the two buildings … which would mitigate the noise to a degree.”
Dow added that the generator “would only be running during a power outage,” describing such outages as “far more common in Anderson Valley than in Ukiah.”
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
CRISIS RESPITE IN FORT BRAGG GAINS SUPPORT
by Malcolm Macdonald
State Senator Mike McGuire and Assembly member Jim Wood have endorsed the plan for a crisis respite facility in Fort Bragg. Item 5e on the September 28th Board of Supervisors' agenda addresses the recommended action of annually spending $240,000 of Measure B funds over a four year period to contribute to the operation of crisis respite services in the City of Fort Bragg.
The letter of support from the state senator and member of the assembly was originally sent to Fort Bragg's Mayor, Bernie Norvell, on September 20th. It has been forwarded to the Supervisors as part of the supporting material for the September 28th meeting.
McGuire and Wood's correspondence states, “We are writing to you in support of Fort Bragg’s request for funding from the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Oversight Committee [Measure B Committee] to establish a Crisis Respite Facility and Services Center that will serve residents of the Mendocino County Coast. As you have pointed out, there is currently only one Crisis Respite program in Mendocino County, which is located in the greater Ukiah area. Another is under construction that will also be located in Ukiah. Not only is accessing either inland Crisis Respite both difficult and impractical for coastal residents, it creates major obstacles to establishing the essential ongoing relationship between clients and the post-crisis team that is vital for recovery.
“We agree that the Crisis Respite that Fort Bragg is proposing will offer a safe, comforting environment for individuals who are experiencing a temporary mental health crisis that may be severe but not life threatening. We think it is significant that the respite would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide immediate services and support to an individual in crisis without the need for admission to a psychiatric hospital.
“The success of Madrone House, the inland Crisis Respite has demonstrated how well this approach works, and we concur that offering a Crisis Respite Facility and Services Center located in or near the City of Fort Bragg would have enormous benefits for coastal residents. Furthermore, funding the establishment of this kind of facility seems like just what the voters had in mind when they passed Measure B.
“Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to show our support for the project.”
This coastal crisis respite will be located at 516 Cypress Street, Fort Bragg, on the hospital campus now run as Adventist Health Mendocino Coast. As such it is only a few hundred feet from the emergency room (ER). In the past it has served as an office for orthopedic surgeons, a human resources (HR) office, and in 2010 it was re-zoned to also accommodate the housing of ambulance crew members on multi-day shifts. As such, no change in zoning regulations is needed to convert to a crisis respite facility. Adventist Health has promised a new home for the ambulance crew.
On August 26th, the board of directors of the Mendocino Coast Health Care District, in a unanimous 5-0 vote, approved a sublease between Adventist Health and Redwood Community Services (RCS) for the 516 Cypress property. A day earlier, the Measure B Committee approved the funding expenditure for the coastal crisis respite project by an 8-0 vote.
Fort Bragg Mayor Norvell has been the guiding force behind the project. He pushed for the involvement of Redwood Community Services (RCS) as the service provider, ultimately agreeing with the decision to start with a crisis respite program which could build to a fuller scale crisis residential treatment facility in a few years.
Though services such as this have long been on the mind of many coastal residents, the root of the current plan dates to early in 2020 when a coastal citizen invited an expert in crisis residential treatment facilities to speak to a group that included Fort Bragg City Council members Norvell and Morsell-Haye, Supervisor Ted Williams, the chair of the coast healthcare district, Adventist Health (AH) administrators Jason Wells and Judson Howe, and Dr. Ace Barash, from AH's Howard Hospital as well as a member of the Measure B Committee. Supervisor Dan Gjerde was invited, but chose not to attend.
That February 3, 2020 gathering took place at 516 Cypress Street in Fort Bragg. The meeting proved a catalyst. The citizen who organized it brokered a mutual introduction between Mayor Norvell and Camille Schraeder, the major figure behind Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC) and RCS. Despite some early mutual wariness, these two, Norvell and Schraeder, deserve major credit for continuing to move the crisis respite project forward.
The overall annual operating cost for this 24/7/365 crisis respite program is projected at $600,000. The $244,000 from Measure B would cover the cost of Medi-Cal Match, non-billable services, those with commercial insurance or Medicare, and those with no insurance. It is projected that Medi-Cal or other funding sources will pay the remaining annual operating cost of $360,000. Over the next four years, additional funding streams will be explored, including grants, to sustain the program in the long run.
BIG OVERRUN PREDICTED FOR JAIL EXPANSION PROJECT
by Mark Scaramella
In a harbinger of looming fiscal disasters to come, the proposed Psychiatric Health Facility now being considered for the old nursing home on Whitmore Lane in South Ukiah, Item 5c. on Tuesday Supervisors Agenda says:
“Discussion and Possible Action Including Acceptance of a Presentation Related to New Jail Facility Including Update on Timeline for Completion and Construction Costs; and Direction to Staff Related to the $3.6 Million in Estimated Additional Funding That Will be Necessary to Award Construction Contracts for the Project. (Sponsors: Executive Office and Sheriff-Coroner)”
The jail expansion project has been in the works since 2013 and has received unanimous support over the years because it addresses housing for the growing population of mentally ill. Mostly paid for by state grant funds, it is supposed to be a separate new wing specifically designed to hold mentally ill inmates. When Sheriff Allman was trying to get what became “Measure B” for a new Psychiatric Health Facility passed, critics said he had carefully avoided discussing the apparent overlap between the jail expansion and his proposed PHF.
But Mendo voters, alarmed at the increase in deranged persons on the County's streets didn’t seem to care, voting overwhelmingly for Measure B on the grounds that many of Mendo’s many street crazies — the drug-addled and unwanted non-reimburseables — would somehow be dealt with. Unfortunately, they weren’t. And the new jail wing won’t do much about that either since the drug-addled and non-reimburseables won’t be housed there either unless they have committed a crime.
The state of the art expansion project was designed by the same outfit now developing preliminary plans for the County’s Measure-B funded Psychiatric Health Facility, CEO Angelo’s personal favorite and very expensive consultants, Nacht & Lewis of Sacramento.
The County then assigned the jail expansion project to another expensive Sacramento-based Construction Management firm called “Vanir Construction Management,” which got a little over $1.5 million for management of the project which was originally estimated to cost about $26 million, including a comparatively small County match.
When Vanir got the construction management job the County announced that “Vanir will be responsible for managing costs and risks for the project by keeping it on time and budget.” Vanir was also expected to “pick a cost-effective design, market the project to regional construction firms, track construction issues, and other building processes.”
Mendo’s grotesquely over-complicated construction processes make it difficult to determine who’s responsible for what. The $5 million “Crisis Residential Treatment Faciity” now being built for the private business presided over by Camille Schraeder on Orchard Avenue in Ukiah — a simple four-bedroom house that somehow exploded into a $5 million project — Mendo first hired Nacht and Lewis to design the platinum-plated project (complete with electric vehicle charging stations), and then hired a construction management outfit which in turn hired a contractor, adding layer upon layer of costs to what should have come in well under $2 million.
In February of 2017 Nacht & Lewis architect Eric Fadness told the Board of Supervisors that the County would be on the hook for about $1 million in matching funds, “but it could go up to about $2 million,” he added with a cavalier vagueness.
Now Nacht & Lewis is coming back before the Board with the bad news that the project is overruning by at least $3.6 million — and that’s after the design is scaled back significantly to remove several original parts of the expansion on which the project was sold.
Mysteriously, there’s no mention of Vanir in Tuesday’s presentation by Nacht and Lewis.
The presentation says that the project, after being downscaled, is now expected to cost almost $30 million. But the presentation’s numbers are, as is typical for these things, jumbled and unclear.
Nacht and Lewis says that the increase has something to do with increased “hard costs” (construction), soft costs (fees, testing, extra equipment), contingencies (design/estimating and construction management), “escalation” and “Geographic Market Factor.” But they don’t explain how much each of these categories impact the added cost. “Soft costs” (presumably including the cost of Nacht & Lewis and Varin) were estimated to be about $6 million back in 2018 and we don’t see any new estimates for them.
Part of the increase may be attributable to recently received contruction trade bids, but if so, they are not mentioned.
The apparent reason for the presentation to the Board is to 1) get the board to rubberstamp the downscaling of the gold-plated project in an attempt to reduce the overrun, and 2) figure out how to handle the increased local costs.
As usual, the CEO’s pre-canned presentation leaves the Board with no options. They obviously can’t abandon the project. They probably have to accept the downscaling to partially mitigate the overrun (unless the Sheriff wants to keep some of it), and they have to try to find some way to fund the overrun.
At no time during the period of design and management was the Board ever warned of possible problems or cost increases, although according to the Nacht & Lewis timeline the County has rubberstamped a series of local match increases since early 2017.
Originally, the Board was told that Mendo would have to contribute just $1 million in matching funds. Then in April of 2018 the County forked over another $1 million, In “FY 19-20” they approved another half a mil, and the following year they added another $250k for an “all electric heat pump system.”
Now all of a sudden they’re being asked to find another $3.6 million.
GROWING OLD IN MENDO
This Is About Hearing Aids. I just got news that has floored me and left me in tears. I'm 87 years old, disabled, hard of hearing, and live on nothing but Social Security, so I am classified as poor. I need new hearing aids. So I went to an Audiologist in Ukiah seven months ago, got a hearing test, told them I can't afford to pay but am covered by insurance. Of course I gave them the details. Remember: this was seven months ago. Today I get news that my insurance doesn't qualify and I'll have to find a provider that takes my insurance. My insurance is United Health Care. I am covered by Partnership. They had told me on the phone before I ever went there that they took Medicare. Now, seven months later, when the aids were due to finally be delivered to me, they tell me I need another provider. What kind of way is that to treat old people? Why in god's earth didn't they check the details of my insurance before they even tested me? So, since I don't want anyone else to have to go through this, I plead with you, if you need hearing aids, do NOT, EVER, go to Mendocino-Lake Audiology, on South Dora Street in Ukiah. I repeat: Never go to Mendo-Lake Audiology! Because they will promise you aid and comfort and then seven months later, drop you down a dark hole! I am devastated.
— Ellie Green
I WONDERED where The Valley's thriving colonies of feral pigs had gone. Hadn't seen so much as a loner in the deep hills, but I knew they must, like all the wild things, be suffering for lack of water, what with all the streams and springs dried up. I wasn't surprised but certainly share Ernie Pardini's dismay when a pack of the missing beasts — four-footed rototillers — turned up at his place: “I've put a lot of time and effort into keeping my yard nice this summer and my youngest daughter was to get married in it this Saturday. This morning at 4:30 I walked out my back door, got into my work truck and headed out. When I came home today I couldn't believe my eyes. Sometime during the night a herd of hogs had rooted up my whole yard including the beautiful vegetable garden in back. I'm not a vengeful man but if you have a pet pig it probably would be a bad idea to take it for a walk past my house anytime soon. The wedding has been moved to the fairgrounds so all is not lost.”
AND then a tame pig complaint from Albion: “Who’s missing their pigs on Albion Ridge?!? C road behind “the farm” — please come get your pigs out of my garden , they will not be run off.”
WORK HALF THE YEAR on a garden and then this? Every gardener everywhere comisserates.
ANOTHER TOILET PAPER SCARE? The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach currently has 62 cargo ships waiting to dock. The port normally moves 40 percent of containers in the U.S. but now there is a huge backlog of ships waiting to dock. The backup is attributed to a combination of peak a shipping period and a pandemic-induced buying boom and labor shortage. These two ports serve as the entry point for a third of imports into the US, and are the main import point for goods coming from China. Meanwhile, FedEx announced that about 25 percent of packages going into its shipping hubs, like the one in Portland, Oregon, are being diverted. The hubs are operating with 65 percent of their usual staff as the shipping company struggles against the national labor shortage. Costco announced Thursday it was bringing back limits on purchases of items like toilet paper, paper towels and bottled water. Transportation problems are causing delays in deliveries to stores despite suppliers having enough stock. Pandemic-driven port congestion and labor shortages have forced retail chains including Costco to spend more on transportation.
FURTHER PROOF that critical thinking ability has abandoned local media lies in this headline from today's Press Democrat. The accompanying story is a cynical fantasy spun by state senator McGuire, Congressman Huffman and ancillary Democrat-dominated elected bodies up and down the Northcoast. Why this manufactured coal train hysteria is being whipped up by the Democrats is not yet known, but we suspect it has something to do with the Democrat's ownership of the abandoned rail line.
AND FORMER CONGRESSMAN BOSCO and friends also own the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, stenographer to press release reporting from the paper on this non-existent coal train chugging through the Eel River canyon and other fantasies pegged loosely to McGuire's chimerical Great Redwood Trail.
“…McGuire estimated the North Coast could one day see as many as four trainloads of coal, each a hundred cars long, per day, with four empty trainloads returning. He reached the estimate using current commodity prices to calculate how much coal a company would have to ship to meet a minimum return on investment that would be demanded by federal railroad regulators before they would approve such a venture, he said.”
APOLOGIES for the constant repetition, but it would cost billions to rehab the track through the Canyon when any scheme to move coal from the east through Eureka makes no economic sense when there are other ports on existing rail lines.
IN TIME, we'll either see what the scam is here or it will simply be forgotten, as so much is routinely forgotten on the Northcoast, where history starts all over again every day and you are whatever you say you are.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT not only functions as steno for elected Democrats, it loyally touts the industrial wine industry in language fostering the delusion that the industry is all pluses for the northcoast. Of course the paper derives large ad revenues from the booze biz and, imo, a social and ecological disaster for the areas it has occupied and now dominates.
I loved this headline from the PD: “New study confirms less water usage in vineyard can result in better grapes…” Grapes were dry farmed for a thousand years, weren't they? But leave it to the PD to reassure their wine padrones that the industry is at least thinking of less profligate water usage.
KEN BURNS' latest documentary is an absolutely fascinating eight-hour series on Muhammad Ali, arguably the single most renowned figure of the 20th century and, to radlibs like myself and my Sixties comrades, easily the single most attractive character of the 20th century. We were instantly drawn to him while jock world marveled at his unrivaled — previously unseen in boxing— athletic gifts.
THOROUGHLY despised by white America in his first years on the national scene for what seemed to be his outrageous vanity, his “I am the prettiest fighter ever” gimmick that Ali admitted he got from the famous wrestler of the 1950's and early sixties, Gorgeous George, annoyed people no end. But the posturing led to multi-million dollar gates.
ALI then doubled down on the hatred by refusing to fight in Vietnam, a stance that cost him four years and millions of dollars when he was in his prime. I confess I thought when Cassisus Clay became Muhammad Ali and claimed to be devoted to a crank cult like the then-Black Muslims (still a racist, anti-Semitic cult) it was a scheme designed to sweeten the pot, get the suckers to pay lots and lots to see his fights. Nope, he was a sincere convert and, as he lived on, a true man of principle. And then a revered world figure.
BURNS doesn't pull his punches. He tells the whole Muhammad Ali story, including his at times terrible cruelty, especially towards Joe Frazier whom he maligned as “White America's Champ.” Frazier never forgave Ali for years of undeserved insult.
THE CLIPS from the Ali-Frazier fights are hard to watch. They almost killed each other. Twice. And I remember the “rope a dope” fight in Zaire with heavily favored George Foreman when Ali took a terrific beating before coming back to knock Foreman out. No one, including apparently his cornermen, knew Ali had planned to absorb a half hour of terrible punishment as Foreman punched himself out.
ALL THE BEATINGS he took over the years probably caused the Parkinson's that made Ali's last years so painful, and it was always hard to see this remarkable man suffering like he did. The sharks around him had kept him fighting way too long, but in his prime he was truly the greatest fighter ever, and smart, funny and principled into the unique person he was.
LIKE MOST OF BURNS’ DOCUMENTARIES, “Muhammad Ali” is a fairly comprehensive life-to-death examination of its title character, and all the basic tenets you’d expect are there. What’s fascinating, and makes the documentary so watchable, is the various throughlines Burns posits, starting with Ali’s fighting skills. Nearly every one of Ali’s professional fights is shown, many times without any commentary outside of the live radio announcers. At several points, various talking heads discussed why Ali was so unique as a boxer, from the way he employed dance to the way he peppered his jabs.
69-YEAR OLD THIEF PLEADS GUILTY
With his jury trial scheduled to get underway next Monday (9/27), defendant Kevin Aubry Seltenrich, age 69, of Sonoma County, instead waived his right to trial on Friday morning and changed his not guilty plea to guilty of having committed robbery in the second degree.
As background, the defendant entered the Rite Aid store in Fort Bragg on July 6th and demanded money of a clerk, threatening that he had a gun and would use it to shoot her if she did not give him money.
Responding to Rite Aid’s 9-1-1 call, the Fort Bragg Police Department began canvassing the nearby area looking for the distinctively-appearing thief. Within five minutes, defendant Seltenrich was found in a nearby alley hunkered down, counting the stolen $1,333. No firearm was ever located.
Defendant Seltenrich also admitted Friday morning a sentencing enhancement charging that he had suffered a Strike conviction for bank robbery in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in October 2017.
To resolve his case and avoid a far greater punishment, defendant Seltenrich stipulated to a 10 year state prison sentence and waived all of his pre-sentence credits from July 6th through October 8, 2021, the date now set for formal sentencing.
According to the District Attorney, defendant Seltenrich is a career criminal who has suffered at least 12 prior convictions, 11 of which are Strikes within the meaning of California’s voter-modified Three Strikes law.
In addition to the Strike admission mentioned above, the defendant has also suffered the following felony convictions:
Three separate felony bank robbery convictions in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in April 2009;
Felony escape from custody in the District Court for the Northern District of California in April 2009;
Felony bank robbery in a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California in December 1984 [for which he served 20 years];
Two separate felony robberies in the second degree in the Alameda County Superior Court in 1982;
Three separate felony robberies in the second degree in the San Francisco County Superior Court in 1977; and
Felony robbery in the second degree in the San Francisco County Superior Court in 1973.
Robbery is characterized by current California law as a violent felony so any work or good time credits the defendant may attempt to earn towards his early release from state prison on state parole supervision shall be limited to no more than 15% of the total sentence that will be imposed, meaning the defendant should be required by prison authorities to serve 8-and-a-half years.
When asked why he did not hold out for a full Three Strikes sentence against this defendant, the prosecutor said he did not believe it was a good use of taxpayer dollars to pursue what could have been a state prison sentence of up to 85 years to life against a 69-year old defendant reportedly in failing health.
“Should he survive the commitment, I expect that the eight plus years — the real time that this thief will have to actually serve in state prison — should be sufficient time to make clear to this defendant and others that robbers in Fort Bragg will get caught, they will be prosecuted, and they will end up in state prison,” said the prosecutor.
At some point this defendant will also be required to answer to a federal judge for having violated his federal supervised release by committing the July Fort Bragg robbery.
The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence underlying the defendant’s robbery conviction and Strike admission were the Fort Bragg Police Department and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.
The prosecutor who has been handling this case and would have presented the evidence to a jury had the case gone to trial is District Attorney David Eyster.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman accepted the defendant’s change of plea Friday morning and either Judge Moorman or Judge Carly Dolan will preside over the sentencing hearing on October 8th.
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 25, 2021
ASHTYN DAVIS, Ukiah. DUI.
DANIEL ELIGIO, Philo. DUI.
KEVIN GUERRERO-SAHAGUN, Ukiah. DUI.
TEVIN HOAGLEN, Covelo. Failure to appear.
OLITA NAREDO, Redwood Valley. DUI.
KRISTO OUSEY, Ukiah. Criminal threats, contempt of court. (Frequent flyer.)
SHARON SMITH, Willits. Defrauding/acquiring someone’s ID, conspiracy, probation revocation.
PALOMO VALDEZ-CEJA, Ukiah. Diversion of state waters while cultivating marijuana, probation revocation.
When California approved medical marijuana in a public vote in 1996, no one asked about growing the marijuana. Did the illegal growers comply with environmental laws? Did growers use pesticides, and where did they get their water? The law also allowed individuals to grow their own cannabis in a limited quantity. Neighbors didn’t complain about the odor.
Fast forward to “legalizing cannabis” and making it easier to buy. Liberal Sonoma County supposedly couldn’t wait to legalize the growers and get a piece of the sales in taxes. The state is the greediest. Suddenly there is massive pushback by residents to even selling cannabis in their city. In Santa Rosa, where industrial zoning should allow processing of cannabis, residents are complaining.
So why do growers and resellers want to be legal if the price has gone down substantially since legalization?
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Just returned from an epic two week road trip from Georgia to Cody, Wyoming, Yellowstone and Jackson Hole and back. Several observations:
1. Most people we came across were not masked up; even employees at hotels and restaurants. Our upscale lodge at Jackson Hole had a notice posted that you couldn’t enter without a mask. Fully 75% were not masked and I believe 15% more were just too chicken to rebel.
2. America is a vast and beautiful country. No wonder China wants our farmland. The fruited plain in Middle and Western America was ripe with harvest and a butt load of beef on the hoof. Corn was being harvested, hay and alfalfa was being baled. It was a beautiful thing.
3. America doesn’t run on Dunkin’..it runs on fossil fuels. Farmers are farming on tractors, truckers are trucking. As long as the spigot is open America is open for business.
4. Jackson Hole is a shit hole. the Tetons are beautiful but stay away from town. Nothing but cheap souvenir shops and expensive art galleries, although there were a couple of awesome craft breweries. We were asked to leave a shop because we refused to wear a mask. My husband was about to don his Wyatt Earp hat and pull his six shooter before I could hustle him out. He does not go quietly!
5. And finally, America is fat. We traveled through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and Wyoming and marveled at the fat people we came across at restaurants, rest stops and hotels. It’s almost as if they were being fattened up for slaughter. Imagine that!
Thanks for reading this far. One reason we didn’t fly out West is that my husband refused to leave his guns behind. Our truck was well equipped with AR15, shot guns, Glocks, .45…and plenty of spare ammo. In fact we took a 1 hour detour in order to avoid Illinois, We were unable to completely avoid it as we had to cross the Mississippi somewhere, but we were able to cut our time from one hour to ten minutes.
I vacillate between despair for our country and encouragement when I encounter the thousands of normal folks out there who just want to live their lives in peace. Can we?
MARIJUANA, AN ON-LINE COMMENT: It is a common misconception that marijuana was “legalized”. It was not, not really. What did happen is it was regulated and taxed in an attempt to deliver it to corporate and state control and profit. We were only allowed 6 plants under certain limited conditions. In this situation those conditions were not met and so even 4 plants becomes illegal. It is confusing to many because our group denial is so very strong that still many - even (perhaps especially) the media insists that we “legalized” cannabis and so we are more free and progressive and such crap. The repeated public insistence has led to much confusion. We did not ”Free Mary Jane” or ourselves. We handed an already existing multi-billion dollar industry (built by the underground public) to the corporate investors and the already-rich investment brokers while starving out the little people. And we celebrated this obscenity.
CALTRANS TO RETURN SACRED BLUES BEACH PROPERTY in Mendocino County to Three Local Tribes with deep Cultural and Ancestral Ties to the Land
Sacramento, CA – Today, historic action was taken when for the first time in state history, land managed by Caltrans and owned by the state of California will be returned back to local Native American tribes with ancestral and culture ties to the land.
SB 231, signed by Governor Newsom today, will allow the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to transfer the Blues Beach property located in Mendocino County to a non-profit organized by local tribal governments – Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Round Valley Indian Tribes, and Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians.
“This is a historic day. Returning this land of cultural significance is not only the right thing to do, but it will also lead to enhanced stewardship, historical preservation and protection of sacred sites at the Blues Beach property,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “Now that Governor Newsom has signed the legislation, we will now advance critical conversations between leaders from the three Tribes and Caltrans on a management plan for the Blues Beach property.”
The Blues Beach property is approximately 172 acres of land owned by Caltrans, which acquired most of it through the Federal Scenic Easement Program decades ago. The property is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. Its popularity and remote location has also led to challenges for the local community: Illegal encampments, cars getting stuck on the beach, an abundance of trash, and most critically – damage to Native American cultural sites.
Senator McGuire has been working with local Tribes and community members since 2019 to acquire this property, which has deep cultural significance to the native people of Mendocino County. Caltrans was interested in transferring the property, but under current state law, the Agency does not have the ability to transfer land to Tribal governments.
“This has been a tremendous partnership between the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Round Valley Indian Tribes, and Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians,” Senator McGuire said. “This bill wouldn’t have been signed without the leadership of the three Tribal Chairpeople: Chairwoman Melanie Rafanan, President James Russ and Chairman Michael Hunter. We will continue to work with each of the Tribal governments, neighbors of the property and the coastal community on the upcoming management plan.”
SB 231 will grant Caltrans the authority to transfer the property of Blues Beach in Mendocino County to the qualified non-profit run by the three local Tribes and enter into a Master Planning agreement.
The nonprofit is being organized by the Tribes for the purpose of environmental protection and cultural preservation. In addition, SB 231 prohibits commercial activity on the property and requires continued public access to the beach sunrise to sunset.
FARMWORKERS HEADING TO PLUMPJACK WINERY VINEYARD TO PROTEST GOV. NEWSOM
by Kim Rodriguez
California farmworkers are heading to a winery owned by the company Gov. Gavin Newsom founded as they continue to protest his veto of a bill that would have made it easier to vote in union elections.
The planned stop at PlumpJack Winery vineyard on Saturday follows a United Farm Workers march on Thursday to the pricey French Laundry restaurant in Napa County, where Newsom celebrated a lobbyist's birthday in November as he was asking other Californians to avoid indoor gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Elizabeth Strater, director of strategic campaigns for The United Farm Workers, said about two dozen marchers participated in the French Laundry demonstration. The union expects more people to join its planned march from the French Laundry to the PlumpJack vineyard.
Strater said organizers felt “a lot of anger and a huge sense of betrayal” after learning the governor vetoed the bill. During a contentious recall election that threatened to oust Newsom from office, the labor union backed the first-term governor.
Newsom founded PlumpJack, a wine and hospitality company, in 1992. He is not involved in its management. He placed his assets, including his stake in the company, in a blind trust after he won election as governor in 2018.
Newsom this week vetoed Assembly Bill 616, a measure that would have allowed farm workers to cast ballots by mail in union elections.
Newsom in a veto message wrote that the bill had “various inconsistencies and procedural issues related to the collection and review of ballot cards.” He pledged to direct his administration's labor agency to continue working on the concept.
“Significant changes to California's well-defined agricultural labor laws must be carefully crafted to ensure that both agricultural workers' intent to be represented and the right to collectively bargain is protected, and the state can faithfully enforce those fundamental rights,” he wrote.
Groups advocating for farmers and growers like the California Farm Bureau and the California Fresh Fruit Association applauded Newsom's decision to veto the bill.
“This bill would have stripped agricultural employees of the right to an impartial, secret ballot election,” according to a press release from the California Fresh Fruit Association.
Before the bill's veto was announced, The United Farm Workers had just begun a 260-mile march to Sacramento from Tulare County to urge the Democratic governor to sign the legislation. After the group learned of the veto, they redirected their march to the Napa Valley restaurant.
Former labor leader Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, on Thursday evening wrote on Twitter that restaurant owner Thomas Keller sent food to the farm workers protesting the veto.
“Pure class & the respect our Farmworkers deserve,” she added.
MENDO LAW ENFORCEMENT, 1935
UNDER THE DARK SHADE of a towering oak near the Dunker Church lay the lifeless form of a drummer boy, apparently not more than 17 years of age, flaxen hair and eyes of blue and form of delicate mould. As I approached him I stooped down and as I did so I perceived a bloody mark upon his forehead… It showed where the leaden messenger of death had produced the wound that caused his death. His lips were compressed, his eyes half open, a bright smile played upon his countenance. By his side lay his tenor drum, never to be tapped again.
— Antietam, Pvt. J. D. Hicks, Company K, 125th Pennsylvania Volunteers
KEEP US IN POWER FOREVER (Coastal Democrats)
Mendocino County Redistricting Commission
Virtual Public Workshop On Oct 7 At 6:15 Pm
October 7 Club Meeting: 6:15 pm
In Lieu Of Our Regular Meeting
Please Join Us At The Virtual Mendocino County Redistricting Advisory Commission Public Workshop
Watch the Commission Workshop — 6:15 pm http://www.youtube.com/MendocinoCountyVideo
The Census Data for Mendocino County has arrived!
For the next ten years, many decisions that affect our daily lives will be impacted by the boundaries of our Supervisorial districts.
Population has increased in all of the districts except District 4.
Our Club includes District 4 (Gjerde) and District 5 (Willliams)
The new 2020 census data per supervisorial district MAP:
District Boundaries Will Change!
Here are some of the criteria.
- Population: Geographic boundaries should provide even distribution of population between districts.
- Community of Interest: a group of people in the same geographically definable area who share common social and economic interests. Ex: geography (rivers, coast, forest), unincorporated or city, place-based issues like tourism, agriculture, fishing, fire, environment.
MODERATION? Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm.
— Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison
LIKE ORDERING PIZZA
by Thomas Meaney
Before Afghanistan, the US Air Force had no armed drones in its arsenal. Since 2001, ever increasing numbers of ever more sophisticated devices have been used to map enemy positions and conduct strikes – against al-Qaeda and ISIS militants, against Taliban fighters and, inadvertently or not, against Afghan and Pakistani civilians. Two decades of war have left around a quarter of a million people dead and the country largely returned to Taliban rule.
In parts of the Western media that have barely bothered with Afghanistan for years there are calls to enter the fray once more, to re-eliminate ISIS and fight the Taliban (an enemy of ISIS) back to at least a draw, since, after all, the status quo was “sustainable” and coalition forces hadn’t lost a soldier in more than a year, until August, when they tried to exit. (The casualties had been low because the Taliban agreed last year not to kill US forces in return for Trump’s promise of withdrawal; Afghan military casualties, by contrast, remained steady.)
Westerners who now wish to distance themselves from the attacks and desperate scenes at Kabul airport have mentally displaced the two decades of mayhem that led up to this.
Unlike the Soviet departure from Afghanistan in 1988-89, no major power is elated by the American departure. In China, Schadenfreude on Weibo has given way to regret that the US will soon no longer be mired in a hopeless conflict.
Fashionable commentary about possible links between the Taliban and the Uighur Muslims appears to be baseless: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the new leader of the Taliban, has all but offered to send the heads of China’s enemies to Beijing in a box, and dangled the prospect of copper mining and mineral extraction before its patron-in-waiting.
In Tehran, Moscow, New Delhi and even Islamabad, governments are more worried about the further implosion of Afghanistan: as far as they’re concerned, it’s 1996 all over again. For Pakistan, the Taliban have long been an asset, promising “strategic depth” against India, but they have also been a risk, as the violence of their homegrown offshoot threatens enrichment schemes dear to Pakistani elites, such as China’s Belt and Road project to connect Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea. Only Erdoğan’s Turkey, which can now amply grant at least one wish of its electorate — that Afghans be kept out — and which can increase its fee for keeping Europe Afghan-free, has more to gain than to lose.
American occupation has made the Taliban more disciplined fighters — with new elite battalions such as the Red Unit – and above all a more media-savvy organization. Video footage from Kabul airport may dominate online, but a different set of images moved events. These were small videos, captured on phones earlier this summer in borderland provinces, showing Taliban forces taking over Afghan border posts, the soldiers calmly handing over their weapons without a fight.
In the larger towns and provincial capitals where the Afghan army did not simply abandon its posts, the resistance evaporated after initial skirmishes and crossfire. The Sher Khan Bandar crossing fell on June 22; Taloqan and Kunduz (for the second time) fell on August 6; Puli Khumri fell on August 10; Ghazni and Herat fell on August 11; Kandahar on August 12; Lashkargah on August 13; Mazar-i-Sharif on August 14 and Jalalabad on August 15. As the Afghanistan analyst Adam Weinstein put it, the Taliban effectively “weaponized the prisoner’s dilemma.” Few regular army units wanted to be singled out for vengeance as lone resisters. The notion that Afghan troops, completely reliant on US air support, could forestall the Taliban was the cover the Biden administration hid behind to manage the exit. (After all, how could the generals object? Hadn’t they praised the capabilities of the Afghan army for years?)
The real war in Afghanistan was waged far above ground. In the early days of the conflict, an Allied patrol would need to draw fire before calling in air support, but by the end, as the rules of engagement relaxed, it was only necessary to have a sense of where a Taliban position was to radio in a drone or a fighter jet. “It got pretty ritualistic,” a former US Marine pilot told me last week, “like ordering pizza.”
European chancelleries have responded with horror to the apparent contraction of American resolve (the German tabloid Bild Zeitung ran a panicked headline claiming that the Taliban now has more weapons than a NATO state). But the reality may be more bleak. Although Biden played populist tribune for a day (a role he has been itching to perform for decades), dismissing the elite consensus about the war and ignoring the appetite of the military-industrial complex, his decision hardly signals the end of the forever wars.
In 2009, when he dissented from Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan, it was less in the cause of devolving America’s global projection of force than of refining it. Biden wanted over-the-horizon capability then, and he wants something like it now. The killing of 13 US Marines at Kabul airport has not diverted that desire: a reduced US troop presence will provide fewer targets for local militants, Biden has argued, and those militants will be “hunted” for retribution by more remote means. Biden was even more sanguine than Obama about the promise of drones and special forces to fight America’s enemies. He isn’t so much the undertaker of the war on terror as its McKinsey consultant.
The Taliban nearly eradicated heroin production in Afghanistan in the 1990s, but the Allies did everything in their power to push poppy cultivation into Taliban-held territory, and then, by destroying supply elsewhere, to raise prices. They have made the Taliban appear a better prospect to many Afghans than a government that was a byword for crookedness.
The departing president, Ashraf Ghani, who in the 2019 election won the vote of 2.5% of the population, who wrote his dissertation at Columbia on state failure, and who fled Kabul in a chopper (according to some sources, with piles of cash onboard), has now joined the ranks of Washington’s failed proxies: Ngô Đình Diêm, Ahmed Chalabi, Nouri al-Maliki, Hamid Karzai.
The corruption of the Afghan government is dwarfed only by that of the American operation itself, which constituted a massive wealth transfer to US defense industries.
Will the Taliban behave? They have entered a very different Kabul – one with beauty salons and shopping malls – from the one they left twenty years ago. In the interim, they have developed the ambition to run a state, which will require a basis of legitimacy outside their own constituency in the country, and international support of some kind.
In the first days after they took Kabul, the Taliban made a show of paying respects to Shia Afghans on the holy day of Ashura, taking questions from female journalists at press conferences, relaying their offer of an amnesty to the opposition despite having apparently executed some Afghan soldiers earlier in August, and setting up checkpoints to counter spoiler attacks, which were not long in coming (IS and its local affiliate IS-K are major liabilities for the core of the Taliban leadership that wants to take the reins of what passes for the state).
Meanwhile, several of the old players have resumed their original positions. Ahmad Massoud, son of the Lion of the Panjshir Valley, wants to reboot the Northern Alliance, while his press attaché, Bernard-Henri Lévy, has compared the fall of Kabul to the fall of Rome to the Ostrogoths. The ruthless Afghan Uzbek commander Abdul Rashid Dostum flew back from hospital in Istanbul to call for war on the Taliban. Navy Seals brandished copies of Clausewitz on Fox News, and Rory Stewart and George Packer wondered if America can still regain its soul.
Afghan contractors and co-operators have been consigned the fate of the Hmong of Vietnam and the Harkis of Algeria. And, just as before, the women and girls of Afghanistan are foremost among the war lobby’s playing chips. They face violence from every quarter and their weaponization by the West – as a post-hoc justification for invasion and now as an argument for continued occupation – only exposes how irrelevant the long-term future of Afghan women has been to the US project.
The improvements in their health and education under the US occupation – as under the Soviet one – are incontrovertible. But to cheer on such progress in a Potemkin state is to lead people to the slaughter. There is talk of an effort on a par with that performed after the collapse of Saigon in 1975 to shelter refugees in coalition countries. But an exodus has been going on for years, and today taking in refugees isn’t the symbol of Western largesse that it was in the 1970s. “A simple way to take measure of a country,” Tony Blair once said, “is to look at how many want in — and how many want out.” That verdict came some time ago in Afghanistan.
(London Review of Books)
FIGHTING BACK AGAINST THE AGE OF MANUFACTURED IGNORANCE: Resistance is still possible
by Henry A. Giroux
The genocide inflicted on Native Americans, slavery, the horrors of Jim Crow, the incarceration of Japanese Americans, the rise of the carceral state, the My Lai massacre and George W. Bush's torture chambers and black sites, among other historical events, now disappear into a disavowal of past events made even more unethical with the emergence of a right-wing political and pedagogical language of erasure. For example, the Republican Party's attack on the teaching of "critical race theory" — labeled as "ideological or faddish" — denies both the history of racism as well as the ways in which it is enforced through policy, laws and institutions.
For many Republicans, racial hatred takes on the ludicrous claim of protecting students from learning about the diverse ways in which racism persists in American society. For instance, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida stated that "There is no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory. Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money." In this updated version of historical and racial cleansing, the call for racial justice is equated to a form of racial hatred, leaving intact the refusal to acknowledge, condemn and confront in the public imagination the history and tenacity of racism in American society.
Across the globe, democratic institutions such as the independent media, schools, the legal system, certain financial institutions and higher education are under siege. The promise, if not ideals, of democracy recede as the barbarians who breathe new life into a fascist past are once again on the move, subverting language, values, courage, vision and critical consciousness. Education has increasingly become a tool of domination as right-wing pedagogical apparatuses controlled by the entrepreneurs of hate attack workers, the poor, people of color, refugees, immigrants from the south and others considered disposable.
A Republican Party dominated by the far right believes education should function as a tool of propaganda and pedagogy of oppression, rightly named "patriotic education." Dissent is defiled as corrupting American values and any classroom that addresses racial injustice is viewed as antithetical to "a Christian and white supremacist world where Black people 'know their place'." Banning instruction on "critical race theory" has become the new McCarthyism. Noam Chomsky argues that any reference to the history of slavery, systemic racism or racial injustice now replaces "Communism and Islamic terror as the plague of the modern age." Chomsky may not have gone far enough, since GOP extremists argue that the threat of communism has simply been expanded to include CRT, Black Lives Movement and other emerging protest groups, all connected and viewed as updated forms of Marxism and part of an international communist-global conspiracy. The Red Scare is alive and well in America.
Under the influence of a number of Republican governors in Florida, Texas and other red states, the cult of manufactured ignorance now works through schools and other disimagination machines engaged in a politics of falsehoods and erasure. DeSantis has signed into law a number of bills that require public universities to conduct "annual surveys of students and faculty to assess their personal viewpoints." This is a form of ideological surveillance parading as educational reform. It gets worse. He has also put in place the implementation of "state-mandated curricula that would include 'portraits in patriotism' that celebrate the US governing model compared with those of other countries and teach that communism is 'evil.'" James Baldwin was right in connecting the long durée of economic and racial injustice to the legitimating power of ideas and education. Baldwin wrote: "It must be remembered — it cannot be overstated — that those centuries of oppression are also a history of a system of thought."
Right-wing attempts to demonize and discredit teaching about racism in public schools echo Donald Trump's claim that teaching students about racism is comparable to the claim "that America is systemically evil and that the hearts of our people are full of hatred and malice [and] is at odds with" students receiving a patriotic, pro-American education" To this end, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has introduced the "END CRT Act," based on an utterly false description of CRT. He writes, "By teaching that certain individuals, by virtue of inherent characteristics, are inherently flawed, critical race theory contradicts the basic principle upon which the United States was founded that all men and women are created equal."
Cruz and other right-wing political operatives have little or no understanding of CRT as a disciplinary field that attempts to understand how the law sanctions racial inequality through large and small aspects of structural racism. They ignore any work by prominent Black scholars, ranging from Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois to Angela Davis and Audre Lorde. Those who attack CRT have nothing to say about its origins and the work of late Harvard professor Derrick Bell, who is credited with being the founder of critical race theory as an academic discipline. There is no room for complexity among critics of CRT, just as there is no attempt at either a critique of structural racism or the actual assumptions and complex knowledge that make up CRT's academic body of work.
The underlying message of CRT is to dismantle forms of structural racism in order to create a more fair and just society. This idea of justice and struggle in the service of an expanded notion of democracy is precisely what Cruz, Steve Bannon and other right-wing political operatives oppose. History is too dangerous for them; critical pedagogy is a threat and justice is expendable in order to distort CRT for political purposes. It would be hard to invent this display of ignorance and crass opportunism.
In this instance, education becomes a site of derision, an object of censorship and a way of demonizing schools and teachers willing to critically address matters of racism and racial inequality. Right-wing politicians use education and the repressive power of the law as weapons to discredit any critical approach to grappling with the history of racial injustice and white supremacy. In doing so, they attempt to undermine and discredit the critical faculties necessary for students and others to examine history as a resource to "investigate the core conflict between a nation founded on radical notions of liberty, freedom, and equality, and a nation built on slavery, exploitation, and exclusion." The current attacks on critical race theory, if not critical thinking itself, are but one instance of the rise of apartheid pedagogy.
The conservative wrath unleashed against critical race theory is an example of manufactured ignorance parading as a form of "patriotic pedagogy," which in reality is central to the conservative struggle over concentrated economic and political power and control in shaping civic culture. Manufactured ignorance is crucial to upholding the poison of white supremacy. This is a form of apartheid pedagogy, which functions to whitewash history, undermine dissent and engage in the erasure of historical memory regarding the long legacy of racism in the United States. Apartheid pedagogy freezes history, turning it into a propaganda machine for the manufacture of ignorance.
As C. Wright Mills made clear in "The Politics of Truth," in an age when the architecture and language of the social disappears and everything is privatized and commodified, it is difficult for individuals to translate private into public issues and see themselves as part of a larger collective capable of mutual support. The erosion of public discourse and the onslaught of a culture of manufactured ignorance "allows the intrusion of criminality into politics," as Elisabeth Young-Bruehl has put it. As Coco Das has mentioned, America has a Nazi problem that has emerged with renewed vigor, and one lesson to be learned from the current assault on democracy regards the question of what role education should play in a democracy. As Wendy Brown observes, democracy cannot exist without an educated citizenry. It "may not demand universal political participation, but it cannot survive the people's wholesale ignorance of the forces shaping their lives and limning their future."
Education has always been the substance of politics, but it is rarely understood as a site of struggle over agency, identities, values and the future itself. Unlike schooling, education permeates a range of corporate-controlled apparatuses that extend from the digital airways to print culture. What is different about education today is not only the variety of sites in which it takes place, but also the degree to which it has become an element of organized irresponsibility, modeled on a flight from critical thinking, self-reflection and meaningful forms of solidarity. Education now functions as part of the neoliberal machinery of depoliticization that represents an attack on the power of the civic imagination, political will and a substantive democracy. It also functions as a politics that undermines any understanding of education as a public good and pedagogy as an empowering practice that can get people to think critically about their own sense of agency in relation to knowledge, and their ability to engage in critical and collective struggle.
Under Trumpism, education has become an animating principle of violence, revenge, resentment and victimhood as a privileged form of identity. Political illiteracy has moved from the margins to the center of power and is now a crucial project that the Republican Party wants to impose on the wider public. As the philosopher Peter Uwe Hohendahl has noted, the real danger of authoritarianism today lies "in the traces of the fascist mentality within the democratic political system."
This suggests reintroducing how the cultural realm and pedagogies of closure operate as an educational and political force by enacting new forms of cultural and political power. We must therefore raise questions about not only what individuals learn in a given society but what they have to unlearn, and what institutions provide the conditions to do so. Against an apartheid pedagogy of repression and conformity, there is the need for a critical pedagogical practice that values a culture of questioning, views critical agency as a condition of public life, and rejects voyeurism in favor of the search for justice within a democratic, global public sphere.
Such a pedagogy must reject the dystopian, anti-intellectual and racist vision at work under Trumpism and its underlying nativist pathologies, thrill for authoritarian violence and grotesque contempt for democracy. Against gangster capitalism and the Trumpian worldview, there is the need for educators and other cultural workers to provide a language of both criticism and hope as a condition for rethinking the possibilities of the future and the promise of global democracy itself. At the same time, it must struggle against the concentration of power in the hands of the few who now use the instruments of cultural politics to function as oppressive ideological and pedagogical tools.
This is a crucial pedagogical challenge for individuals to become critical and autonomous citizens, capable of interrogating the lies and falsehoods spread by politicians, pundits, anti-public intellectuals and social media, all while being able to imagine a future different from the present. The will to refuse the seductions of false prophets, neofascist mentalities and the lure of demagogues preaching the swindle of fulfillment cannot be separated from learning how to be self-reflective, self-determining and self-autonomous. But there is more at work here than learning how to be self-reflective — there is also learning how to turn memory into a form of collective resistance, to connect ideas to action. Learning from history is crucial in order to fight the ghosts of the past as they emerge in new forms. Vincent Brown brilliantly captures this insight in his observation:
I'm interested in looking to the past to understand the ongoing processes that have shaped our world. The predicaments in which we find ourselves derive in part from the history of colonial conquest, slavery, imperial warfare, and the inequalities that resulted. Our struggles for freedom and dignity emerge from that history. By understanding it, we might discern the scope, force, direction, and likelihood of the changes ahead — and be guided in our decisions by the example of our ancestors. Many people have the idea that the past is over because its events and its actors may be long gone. But processes of transformation — their motivating forces and legacies — are continuous; they connect the past, present, and future.
Theorists and activists as different as social critic Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and historian Andrew Bacevich argue that racism, militarism, white nationalism, materialism and sexism, among other social problems, can no longer be explained away through the language of neoliberal capitalism, which has become synonymous with massive inequality, staggering poverty and the looting and destruction of the public sphere and social state. Both agree that the current historical conjuncture is in the midst of a legitimation crisis that demands a new language and support for the unfolding revolts that have spread across the United States in the wake of racialized state violence. Yet rage and massive demonstrations do not fully explain the challenge of addressing the crisis of consciousness that has produced the mass following that defines Trumpism — code for an upgraded neofascist politics.
The urgency of such calls to acknowledge and support such uprisings often say too little about the need to develop forms of popular education that speak to people's needs and promote an anti-capitalist consciousness that allows them to see the interconnections among racism, economic inequality, militarism, patriarchy and ecological destruction. Nor do they address the need to expand the public's understanding of the social contract so that political and personal rights are joined with economic rights.
Nor do they call for a massive pedagogical campaign needed to deconstruct the regressive notions of freedom and self-interest at the heart of neoliberal ideology. The overarching crisis facing the United States is a crisis of the public and civic imagination, and this crisis, at its core, is educational. Such a crisis suggests closing the gap between educational/cultural institutions and the public by creating the ideas, narratives and pedagogical relations necessary for connecting the shaping of individual and collective consciousness to the conditions necessary for individuals to say no, to understand the causes of systemic violence and to free themselves from the social relations put in place by neoliberal capitalism.
At issue here is the urgent need to acknowledge and think through the connections among politics and education, on the one hand, and power and agency on the other. Central to such a task is developing the intellectual and ethical capacities to address the question of what modes of address, interventions and institutions are necessary to get people to think, debate and share power while being able to imagine a future free of injustice. At the heart of such a challenge is the need to produce a public imagination that enables people to define themselves beyond the regressive neoliberal notions of a raw self-interest, market-based notions of individualism and commodified conceptions of personal happiness. This suggests reclaiming a democratic notion of the social by analyzing and legitimating the political, social and economic connections and supports that provide the conditions for enacting a sense of meaningful solidarity, community, dignity and justice.
Politics follows culture, and culture is the bedrock for creating the habits, sensibilities, dispositions and values crucial to democracy's survival. Democracy needs a formative culture to sustain it. Theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, John Dewey, Paulo Freire and C. Wright Mills have argued that democratic conditions do not automatically sustain themselves and that democracy's fate largely rests in the domain of culture — a domain in which people must be educated critically in order to fight for securing freedom, equality, social justice, equal protection and human dignity. Institutions, however democratic and just, cannot exist without critically engaged citizens willing to defend them. Democracy is always unfinished, and the formative culture that sustains it must be aggressively nurtured in the systems of schooling and the broader educational culture.
Education should be the protective site where individuals can learn to fight for the values of justice, reason and freedom while also learning how to connect personal worries with public issues. Education is always about a struggle over agency, identity, power and our hopes for the future. Critical pedagogy, in particular, should not only shift the "way people think about the moment, but potentially energize them to do something differently in that moment, and how to link [their own education] to … an active engagement of one's critical imagination, and political activism, not in terms of electoral politics but as active engagement within the public sphere."
If the civic fabric and the democratic political culture that sustain democracy are to survive, education must once again be linked to matters of social justice, equity, human rights, history and the public good. Education in this sense must free itself from the technocratic obsessions with a deadening instrumental rationality, a regressive emphasis on standardization, training for the workplace and the memorizing of facts. It must also educate students and others to fight against the closing down of public and higher education as critical sites of teaching and learning. To make the political more pedagogical, education must affirm in its vision and practice the interdependence of humanity and must embrace hope against a paralyzing indifference.
Education is not just a struggle over knowledge, but also a struggle about how pedagogy is related to the power of self-definition and the acquisition of individual and social forms of agency. More specifically, education is a moral and political practice, not merely an instrumentalized practice for the production of pre-specified skills. The task of education is to encourage human agency, refresh the idea of justice in individuals and recognize that the world might be different from how it is portrayed within established relations of power. The late Roger Simon added to this vision of critical pedagogy, writing that the goal of teaching and learning must be linked to educating individuals "to take risks, to struggle with ongoing relations of power, to critically appropriate form of knowledge that exist outside of their immediate experiences and to envisage vision of a world which is 'not-yet' — in order to be able to alter the grounds upon which life is lived."
Matters of education are crucial to developing a democratic socialist vision that examines not only how neoliberal capitalism robs us of any viable sense of agency, but also what it means to think critically, exercise civic courage and define our lives outside the pernicious parameters imposed by the veneration of greed, profit, competition and capitalist exchange values. Education is a place where individuals should be able to imagine themselves as critical and politically engaged agents. In a time of tyranny, education becomes central to politics. Educators, public intellectuals, artists and other cultural workers need to make education central to social change and in doing so reclaim the role that education has historically played in developing political literacies and civic capacities, both of which are essential prerequisites for democracy.
A primary question here concerns what education should accomplish in a democracy: How might it function as a form of provocation and challenge, rooted in a vision and pedagogical practice that takes individuals beyond the common-sense world they inhabit and empowers them to refuse the identifications imposed by others? How might critical pedagogy be used to alter the ways in which individuals relate to themselves, others and the larger world? How might the narratives educators and cultural workers use to shape their cultural work speak to people in a language in which they can recognize and realize themselves as informed and engaged citizens?
Without a pedagogy of identification and recognition, pedagogy too easily becomes both alienating and a form of symbolic and intellectual violence. As João Biehl has argued, "subjectivity is the material of politics," which gives credence to the question of what kind of subjectivity is possible when one's voice is unrecognized and "no objective conditions exist for that to happen." Without making education meaningful in order to make it critical, cultural workers run the risk of creating educational spaces where individuals have no voice and are relegated to zones of precarity and social abandonment in which they face oppressive conditions in which their own voices cannot be translated into action.
There is more at work here than affirming the critical function of critical pedagogy that enables individuals to break the power of common sense. There is also the crucial issue of opening up the space of translation, developing modes of meaningful identification and building bridges of understanding and relevance into the pedagogical practices used in the service of social change. Matters of identity, place and worth are crucial to developing the formative cultures necessary to challenge the threats waged by authoritarian movements against the ideas of justice and democracy and the institutions that make them possible. Any pedagogy of resistance must conceptualize and enable the conditions in which people can learn the capacities, knowledge and skills that enable them to speak, write and act from a position of agency and empowerment.
Stuart Hall has rightly argued that politics must be educative, that is, it must be capable of "changing the way people see things." Education as empowerment must be able to take on the task of shifting consciousness in order to enable individuals to narrate themselves, prevent their own erasure, address the economic, social and political conditions that shape their lives, and learn that culture is an instrument of power. For this to happen, people have to recognize something of themselves and their condition in the modes of education in which they are addressed. This is both a matter of awakening a sense of identification and a moment of recognition. Any viable notion of critical pedagogy has to be on the side of understanding, clarity, persuasion and belief. Education in this instance is a defining political fact of life because it is crucial to the struggle over critical agency, informed citizenship and a collective sense of resistance and struggle. As a political project it must press the claims for economic and social justice and strengthen the call for civic literacy and positive collective action.
Rethinking the future suggests making critical education central to politics, functioning as a transformative force that enables people to address important social problems and the modes of resistance needed to defeat them. Such a future is impossible without a politics committed to the understanding that a substantive democracy cannot exist without informed and critically engaged citizens. James Baldwin was right in stating, at the end of his essay "Stranger in the Village," that "People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster." At the heart of Baldwin's message is that the condition of a country's morality and politics can be judged by the degree to which education becomes a central force in producing a political culture and public imagination that expands the notion of freedom, social justice and economic equality as part of the long march towards a democratic socialist future.
At a time when the fascist ghosts of the past have once again emerged and the monsters are no longer lurking in the shadows, we must reclaim the public imagination and develop the mass educational and political movements that make such a future possible. Forces of resistance and radical collective movements are once again on the march, and it is crucial to remember that education opens up the space of translation, breaks open the boundaries of common sense and provides the bridging work between schools and the wider society, the self and others, and the public and the private.
Against the dictatorship of ignorance and the destruction of the public imagination is the need for a politics of education that interrogates the claims of democracy, fights the failures of conscience, prevents justice from going dead in ourselves and imagines the unimaginable. This is an educational politics that not only connects agency to the possibility of interpretation as intervention, but also illuminates the forces that make people unknowable, and both make visible how social agency is denied and where in time and place it is least acknowledged.
There is also a need to develop a more comprehensive view of oppression, political struggle and ongoing efforts to align progressive movements. Such movements must be willing to embrace an alternative vision for change that includes the destruction of the ideological and structural foundations of neoliberal capitalism. At stake here is not only the recognition that capitalism and democracy are at odds with each other, but also that neoliberal capitalism has morphed into an updated form of fascist politics. In this instance, any viable notion of resistance must address specific crises ranging from mass poverty and staggering inequality to the destruction of the environment and systemic racism as strands of a larger general crisis threatening society as a whole.
As democratic socialist congressional candidate Nina Turner makes clear, "good ideas are not enough — we need to marry our ideas to power." Radicalizing the public imagination suggests viewing democracy as part of a project that can be both recovered and radicalized through the combined struggles for emancipation, social justice, economic equality and minority rights. Central to such a challenge would be adopting a common agenda dedicated to developing a vast educational movement in defense of public goods. Any struggle against the dictatorship of ignorance will not only have to take matters of education seriously in the effort to address the current crisis of consciousness but will also have to bring diverse movements together to build a common agenda under the rubric of creating a critically engaged populace willing to fight for a democratic socialist society.
For any progressive movement to succeed, it must overcome its differences and be unified. That means that under the banner of democratic socialism it must connect a range of issues extending from free health care, free education and a living wage to canceling student debt, protecting workers' rights and supporting the Green New Deal. All these issues should be fought over within a broader concern for political, personal and economic rights, which suggests defunding the military-industrial complex and increasing provisions of the welfare state. All these struggles must be connected to the larger fight for racial and economic justice, social equality and radically improving "the material conditions of working people," as Turner says.
Making education central to social change is fundamental for any mass movement of resistance to succeed. If popular consciousness is to be shifted, people need to learn from the trajectory of history, develop an anti-capitalist consciousness through diverse modes of institutional and popular education and rethink the politics of fundamental change. This means recognizing and convincing a larger public that only democratic socialism can provide secure jobs, protect lives, affirm the common good and establish the life-giving institutions and functions that serve basic needs and provide the conditions that ensure dignity, freedom and security for everyone.
Ignorance has become willful, in that it is now a right-wing political project in the service of a fascist politics, manufactured and conscious in its pursuit of creating new forms of mass illiteracy. As such, it is no longer merely about the absence of knowledge but a depoliticizing project aimed at eliminating the critical faculties and modes of agency crucial to a democracy. As such, ignorance has lost its innocence and has become lethal. In doing so, it has produced a cultural apparatus that denies reason, truth and social responsibility. We need to recover and reframe the discourse and purpose of education as an empowering political project.
Malcolm X was right to say, "Education is a passport to the future," and he added to this insight, making the notion of education political, when he wrote: "Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action."
The language of critique, compassion and hope must be collective, embracing our connections as human beings and respecting our deeply interrelated relationship to the planet. Any affirmation of the social must ensure that public services and social provisions bind us together in our humanity as human beings. Capitalism has proven that it cannot respond to either society's most basic needs or address its most serious social problems. The pandemic has exposed neoliberal capitalism's criminality, cruelty and inhumanity. It has become clear in the age of plagues and monsters that any successful movement for resistance must be not only for democracy and anti-capitalist; it must also be anti-fascist. We owe such a challenge to ourselves, to future generations and to the promise of a global socialist democracy waiting to be born.