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CLEAR, COOL CONDITIONS are expected across the area into Saturday with morning fog. Another round of rain and high elevation snow looks to arrive Sunday and persist through most of next week. (NWS)
10 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
JERRY PHILBRICK HAS DIED, passing away at his Comptche home in his sleep. A native son of Mendocino County, Jerry Philbrick was a logger and rancher, and among the most vivid personalities in this area. A man of fierce opinions forcefully expressed, 'Philbrick,' as he was universally known, was also an unusually kind and generous man who, for many years, did much private good for a wide range of people, especially young people involved in athletics.
by Marilyn Davin (October, 2018)
My curiosity finally got the best of me. After reading Comptche resident Jerry Philbrick’s almost weekly letters to the AVA I just had to meet him. How many people around here sign their letters with the tag line, “God Bless Donald Trump”?
So on a picture-perfect fall morning last week I hit the road to visit Jerry and Terry Philbrick at their home in Comptche.
When I asked Terry how I would know their house she said “You can’t miss it.” She was right. A couple miles down the Comptche-Ukiah Road after turning right at the fork with the post office and general store, I spotted Jerry’s bright-red pick-up and parked in front of a hand-painted sign that read “Jerry Brown Sanctuary City.”
I had definitely come to the right place.
After passing through the gate and walking up the path up to his house, Jerry came out onto his front deck to greet me. I have rarely been given a warmer welcome. Knowing nothing whatsoever about me (or my politics, for that matter) he gave me a bear hug after we stepped past a very protective Airedale and into the living room, which in many ways is a personal museum of both the many phases of Jerry’s working life and his diverse outside interests. Several rifles stood in one corner and a beam across the ceiling had spurs from his rodeo days. “I rode bulls in rodeos for 12 years,” he said. There were also pieces of specialized logging equipment from his many years working the forests. “I did everything in the woods you can possibly do,” he said. “I started my own logging business in 1961 and had 40 employees.” He said he stopped working just three years ago but still fills in when he’s needed. There was also football memorabilia from his years of both playing and coaching football locally. “I played my last game ten years ago when I was 72,” he said. “It was an alumni game that we lost to Fort Bragg, six to nothing. I felt fortunate to be able to still play the game.”
Jerry’s wife Terry joined us in the kitchen. Next July they will have been married 30 years. They married in Boonville. “She’s been chasing me around ever since!” he said. “With a spatula!” Terry laughed. In the way of tight-knit rural communities, they knew each other casually for years. But as in many budding romances, there was THE MOMENT, in their case at Mendocino Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg. They were on side-by-side gurneys; he had just had one of 11 knee operations and she had just delivered her daughter. They looked across at each other and something clicked. They’ve been together ever since.
As it turned out they are related, but not by blood. “His ex-wife and I have the same first cousin,” Terry said. They have ten grandkids between them. Jerry credits her with saving his life when he technically died in a medevac helicopter en route to Santa Rosa to treat his misdiagnosed acute pneumonia. His heart stopped beating before they landed and would have stayed that way had Terry not asked the medical crew to continue CPR. “He’s a logger and a tough guy,” she said, and after more CPR his heart started beating again.
After that scare Jerry said that his doctor asked him if he wanted to stay on the couch watching butterflies or again live an active life. He chose active and today he has a defibrillator embedded in his chest. It records data from his heart with a hand-held remote-control monitor that sends that data electronically to his doctor.
Jerry is fourth generation Mendo and has lived mostly in and around the Comptche area his whole life. His father’s grandfather, who moved there from Maine, fought in the Civil War. His great-grandfather’s wife was one of the first doctors in Mendocino. Over the years his large family acquired land in the Comptche area, which at one point grew to 12,000 acres. Most of it has been sold off over the generations though Jerry and Terry have 60 acres.
Their story is very much a family affair. His 95-year-old uncle lives across the street and still puts in a big garden every year on his property. Laughing, Terry said, “He still cusses up a storm!” Jerry’s 90-year-old aunt lives in Fort Bragg. “She’s beautiful,” he said. “If I didn’t know her and I saw her in a bar somewhere I’d jump right on her. She’s somethin’ else.” He also has a brother in Ukiah and a sister in Covelo.
Jerry wore a Trump hat, which he said his daughter sent him since “you can’t find one around here,” and psychedelic-looking mirrored sunglasses, a combination well suited to his all-around moderate political views. He was far more rational and thoughtful than most Democratic activists I’ve spoken with. “I know many Democrats, Truman and JFK are my idols,” he said. “There are decent Democrats and there are liberals; they’re as different as night and day. I invite anyone to come to come speak with me personally about it but nobody ever does.”
He said his relationship with Earth First! founder Judi Bari, who was nearly killed in 1990 by a car bomb in Oakland, a federal crime still unsolved, is a good example.
“Judi Bari and I hated each other but we were good friends,” he said. “We agreed to disagree.” He said he attended a county supervisors’ meeting where Bari tried to filibuster the meeting and made threats about her organization’s plans to interrupt local logging operations. “I stood up and said somebody else needs to talk. Then I said that if any of my equipment is damaged, or if one of my guys gets hurt, the shit’s gonna hit the fan.” Jerry said his comments earned him a visit from the FBI. “They blamed me for the bombing,” he said, still incredulous about that all these years later.
Jerry said he’s always been a Republican but became more conservative when he left the Navy; he thought the government neglected the service people who had risked their lives for their country and its freedoms. For him it was a matter of respect, a strong belief still today, a respect that extends to patriotic symbols like the American flag. “I stopped my logging truck in the middle of the road next to the local school because they didn’t have the flag up,” he said. “I walked into this classroom unopposed because of our freedoms,” he told the teacher, who said the students got in late and didn’t have time to raise the flag. “I said you’re the adult here, make them do it. Then she called our county supervisor and accused me of being a terrorist!” But he says that now the flag is up every day. “There are kids 24 years old who have only known liberalism,” he said. “When people attack the flag, the Constitution, and the Second Amendment it pisses me off.”
Jerry said that his relationship with the AVA began when publisher Bruce Anderson got wind of the Redwood Practical Shooters, a group of 30 or so that gets together for shooting tournaments. He said the paper labeled them “Camo Buddies,” which prompted Jerry to write a nasty response – which was printed in the paper, word for word. He said he was impressed with the unfiltered openness and has written for the paper pretty regularly ever since. “If somebody pisses me off I say ‘I’m gonna call Bruce Anderson,” Terry laughed.
About Trump, Jerry said that he supported him and predicted he would win from the day he announced his candidacy for the presidency. “He doesn’t take any crap from anybody,” he said. “He’s done a lot of good stuff, but the better he does the more liberals attack him.” Jerry said he sees the divisiveness of the country as a huge problem. “What would this country be like if the parties got along? We’d be the strongest country in the world.” He says he has mixed feelings about the size of the defense budget. “Couldn’t we take a little bit of that money and take care of our cities, attack crime here?” he asked.
Then there’s gun control. Nobody likes to see kids blown away in their classrooms, of course, and Jerry says he sees more school security as a possible solution. People leaving the military, for example, could be hired for school security. But basically he sees guns as a way to protect himself and others. He lifted one of his pant legs to show me a pistol in an ankle holster. Never having touched a pistol, I asked him what it was. “A Glock 40,” he said. “Terry carries a gun, too.” He asked me if I carry a gun. Nope. “How about pepper spray?” he asked. Nope to that, too. He encouraged me to consider it, for my own protection. He also thought of my safety as I said good-bye, complete with warm hugs from both of them. Jerry had noticed me tottering around, still recovering from a hip replacement, so he spotted me on the steps.
He never did ask me about my politics.
THURSDAY, FROM JACK'S VALLEY STORE
CORRECTION: The statement in yesterday’s (Thursday’s) Mendocino County Today commenting on Supervisor Mulheren’s declaration was incorrectly attributed to County Employee’s union rep Patrick Hickey when it was actually made by Andy Hilkey. Our apologies to both parties.
Those in fear who hope
The tiger will eat them last
Will still get eaten
Those who hope that Trump
Will wait to screw them over
Still get screwed over
— Jim Luther
NEW ADDITION TO THE AV HEALTH CENTER
Rick Cupples and Son are the builders. (Cupples is a graduate of AVHS and a member of the powerhouse basketball teams of the late 1960s.)
COUNTY COUNSEL PAY RAISE: THE PLOT THICKENS
by Mark Scaramella
As it turns out, on Tuesday after the Board violated the Brown Act by approving the County Counsel’s pay raise on the consent calendar (apparently on the advice of the County Counsel in question), later in the very long meeting at around 7pm at night they acknowledged the error and attempted to fix it.
Gjerde: “It has been brought to the Board's attention that we need to revisit a consent calendar item, consent calendar item 4c, that was the contract for County Counsel. To ensure compliance with the Brown Act, the board needs to revisit consent calendar item 4c and that is approval of an employment agreement between Christian M. Curtis to serve as County Counsel for the term of August 9, 2020 to August 8, 2024 including compensation effective December 26, 2021 in the amount of $192,136 annually and authorized to sign same. We inadvertently skipped one item in recording as to this item. In accordance with Government Code section 54953(c)3 on behalf of the Board of Supervisors I will briefly summarize the compensation and benefits for the public before we re-vote on this item. The compensation is $192,136 annually payable on a biweekly basis. Additionally, in December of 2022 to December 2023 the County will adjust the salary to ensure that County Counsel's compensation tracks 15% above the Assistant County Counsel classification and pay range but shall not exceed 15% of that range. The County Counsel's benefits include enrollment in the County retirement plan and with the benefits provided in the department head MOU and is eligible to enroll in the county's health and and life insurance benefits. Public comment has already been offered on this item and with this additional information entered into the record and stated for everybody with hearing impairments to understand, do we have a motion to approve item 4c?”
Supervisor McGourty so moved. Haschak seconded. The item was approved unanimously.
* * *
But in doing so they violated the Brown Act again, and they violated their own “Rules of Procedure.”
“Rules of Procedure:
Rule 26. Motion to Rescind
A motion to rescind any action or motion shall require four-fifths vote unless notice has been given at the previous meeting, either verbally or in writing. If notice has been given, the motion requires only a majority vote of all the members of the Board. A motion to rescind is not in order if action has already been taken which cannot be undone.
Rule 27. Motion to Reconsider
Any member of the Board who votes in the majority on a question, as well as any member who was absent, is eligible to make a motion to reconsider. A motion to reconsider shall be in order during the meeting at which the action to be reconsidered took place, provided members of the public in attendance during the original action are still present in the Board chamber. In all other cases, motions for reconsideration must be placed on a future agenda for action. Unless a member was absent, a motion to reconsider must be placed on the agenda for the next regular Board meeting. A member who was absent must place a motion to reconsider on the agenda for the next regular Board meeting after the regular Board meeting at which that member is in attendance. A motion to reconsider shall require a majority vote. A motion to reconsider, if lost, shall not be renewed nor shall any subject be a second time reconsidered within twelve (12) months, except by a 4/5th vote of the Board.”
* * *
To properly correct the consent calendar error, they have to rescind the earlier vote to approve the Consent Calendar with the County Counsel’s raise, then re-agendize the consent calendar without the County Counsel’s raise and re-agendize the proposed raise for reconsideration in accordance with Government Code with proper public notice and opportunity for public comment and in accordance with their own Rules of Procedure.
Of course this contorted procedural folderol isn’t the real issue; it’s just that it’s the only legal angle the public can take. The irony of the underlying situation, however, is impossible to ignore. Here we have County Counsel essentially attempting to illegally sneak a hefty pay raise for himself though the Board and the public by incorrectly putting the raise on the consent agenda only to find out that the very County Counsel the Board apparently wants to give a large pay increase to can’t even properly agendize his own raise! To the point that the Board had to embarrass themselves by revisiting the item to try to correct the County Counsel’s error, only to do that incorrectly too!
Further, we think the provision in the pay raise item which ties the County Counsel’s pay to 15% more than his own subordinate’s pay is also illegal, not to mention unethical. Essentially, this provision means that the public official can give himself a raise by giving his subordinate a raise which in turn would violate Government Code which requires all raises for government officials and department heads to be agendized and individually voted on in open session.
Of course, we do not know how the County plans to respond to our Brown Act violation/correct and cure notice. But if it turns out that they do the right thing and rescind and correct the consent calendar item and/or the 15%-more-than-the-subordinate provision, it would be the first time in Mendocino County history that a Brown Act complaint has been successful.
The last time a formal Brown Act complaint was filed against the Board of Supervisors was back in the Timber Wars days in the 1990s when three Supervisors drove to a Sacramento Board of Forestry meeting in the same car. The complaint alleged that because there were three supervisors (a quorum) in the car, the trip was a Board meeting which was not property noticed. At that time DA Susan Massini ruled that the Board had not “intended” to violate the Brown Act and therefore no corrective action was required. In the current case, there’s no such argument because by correcting the item later in the day, they admitted that they had violated the Brown Act. Now it’s just a matter of what is required to correct it.
JOHN MCCOWEN WRITES: Ironically, the State Constitution and forty years of case law protect the Sheriff (and the District Attorney) from the code section cited by Mr. Curtis. If Mr. Curtis doesn’t know this he’s incompetent. If he knows it and advised the BOS to the contrary he’s unethical. Since he couldn’t get the procedure right for approving his own pay raise it looks like he’s incompetent. But that doesn’t rule out that he’s also unethical.
* * *
GEORGE DORNER WRITES: Mr. Curtis dug up an obscure state law to harass the sheriff with a threat of personal responsibility for his department’s budget overrun. How much restitution has Mr. Curtis made toward his own department’s cost overruns? Maybe he needs this enormous and unjustified raise to pay off that debt.
RENTAL WANTED: Locally employed, mature writer seeking quiet, private parking place in Anderson Valley for 30-foot 2018 self-contained trailer to work on artistic projects. Please consider renting me a little slice of your “North 40.” I can pay a little cash, or am willing to negotiate trade for legitimate services. Call 707 272-3301. Please leave a message.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have predicted that US COVID-19 deaths will increase by 73 per cent to 15,600 a week by January 8, and that new cases will reach 1.3 million a week by Christmas Day. CDC projections show America will suffer up to 15,600 new Covid deaths a week as of January 8 - or 2,228 deaths per day - a 58 percent increase from 8,900 deaths currently being recorded each week, equivalent to 1,285 deaths a day. Another CDC prediction estimates that between 620,000 and 1.3 million Americans will have been diagnosed with Covid by the week that ends on December 25 - Christmas Day. That represents a 55 per cent leap from the 840,000 cases that have been recorded over the last week.
THE MENDOCINO BOOK COMPANY called yesterday to ask if we had any copies of ‘Mendocino Noir’, the ava's steady seller of local true crime stories. Nope, plumb out, but there are a few copies available via Amazon, unfortunately for those of you who prefer to buy books from independent book stores. ‘Behind The Green Curtain’ and ‘The Mendocino Papers’ are still easily obtained via independent book stores. (Ed note: The author is unhappy with this hastily composed tome I called Mendocino Papers and plans to re-write it. Forewarned is forearmed, he says.)
THE BLURB for Mendocino Noir: “The lessons in these true crime stories from Mendocino County are numerous: Don't step away from your Fort Bragg property or your neighbors may log your trees. Be careful of short people with bad parking skills. Those capable of animal cruelty are dangerous to humans as well. Murder, corruption, and arson, amusing misbehavior and dire offenses, this collection of tales relates the more disturbing, bizarre, and appalling crimes in Mendocino's recent history. The biggest lesson? When bad people and civic irresponsibility coincide, as they often do here, vast Mendocino County becomes a dangerously unpredictable place.”
THE KENNEDY PAPERS: The National Archives has published more files online having to do with the assassination. They have been sequestered since 1997, when the government concluded its investigation into JFK's death. And, from first reports, there's nothing new in this latest release, most of which is about Oswald in Mexico where he visited the Russian embassy to ask about a visa to return to Russia. This stuff was confirmed years ago, and why it was “top secret” is simply one more indication that the “top secret” stamp is over-applied. There are still assassination files Biden says he will release next year.
RE SHERWOOD OAKS, an on-line comment: I live in an area that houses many traveling doctors and nurses. I have met at least three who came here to work at Sherwood and quit due to the workplace environment and patient care. One stated she wrote numerous letters of concern which resulted in a hostile work environment. Seems over the past 5-6 years it’s gone downhill because you never heard anything bad before. Also If a big corporation can provide this coastal town a place for our elderly or rehab help so be it. Better than having to travel to Santa Rosa, or further with less contact. Our options are limited here.
AV FOODSHED: Put Time And/Or Money Where Your Values Are
As 2022 approaches AV Foodshed is looking at more and more ways to increase the resiliency of local food production in Anderson Valley. We’re continuing our support of a farmers’ market, farm stands, local food in our markets and restaurants, our local farmers, educational workshops, and more. We welcome more participation in our organizing committee. Let us know if you are interested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate, please go to avfoodshed.com and press the donate button—donations are tax deductible. We look forward to seeing you at a future local food event soon!
THE SKUNK, FOUR COMMENTS (MCN chat line)
 I have some questions and viewpoints here. I thought that for a railroad to claim eminent domain it must first have a working railroad so shouldn't the tunnel have been restored along with service twixt Fort Bragg and Willits first? Or is it enough to declare the repair and reopening of said line as imminent? I personally would like to see the Willits/'Fort Bragg train improved and the steam train running again. I would like to see a fully functioning roundhouse at both the Willits and Fort Bragg depots and upgraded service yard and barns. I would further like to see the hotel and restaurant expansion at the depots. Certainly such developments are not unprecedented as anyone who has taken train trips will have noticed. I would even like to see cargo loading and unloading facilities at both depots and even Northspur. It would mean increased tourism traffic for the coast without increasing vehicular traffic over highway 20; perhaps even reducing it somewhat. It means more jobs here as well. People might want to come over to do a day of sport fishing out of Noyo or take a hike or bike along the coastal trail or just picnic on the headlands. Accommodations for overnight or longer stays would be possible and even predictable. . Which brings up another issue: the privatizing of the coastal beach access, the coastal trail, and the headlands, I believe that is illegal by State and/or Federal statute already. I must leave the determining of that to you legal eagles out there. Sincerely yours,
 The railroad hasn't connected with Willits in over thirty years. Way before the tunnel collapsed the tourist excursion went to Northspur and back, about half way to Willits -- I don't believe it made a non-stop trip to Willits. Does anyone know when it stopped being used as a railroad between FB and Willits?
 I believe freight hauling of lumber on the Skunk line ceased in the early 80s, but I’m pretty sure they hauled some freight up until around 2000. it’s been used as a passenger train between Willits and Fort Bragg since then up to 2013 when the first tunnel collapse happened. I think it’s mostly been an excursion train to Northspur since then. It’s been a tourist attraction since its beginning, as well.
There were negotiations going on for a lot of years. Georgia Pacific kept backsliding on the necessary toxic cleanup. They offered the property to FOrt Bragg for $50,000,000.00 and then out of the blue let Mendocino Railway have it for $1,300,000.00 while Mendocino Railway now claims federal exemption on rail related cleanup. It will ultimately come out about the collusion between GP and MR but the town will still suffer as a result.
When my 34-year-old son was about three he and his mom would buy a ticket to the Company Ranch stop (you could do that). (The whole ride to Northspur and back got a bit boring for a three-year-old.) They would ride the train -- with him jumping up and down with joy -- through the tunnel, along the river, for the twenty minutes to the Ranch. Then the train would stop just for them to get off. The conductor would put down a step so they could disembark, make sure I was on the way with the car so he wasn't stranding them in the woods, then start the train back up for the rest of the trip to Northspur. We'd have a nice picnic by the river before driving home. We all loved it. It was an inexpensive E-ticket ride.
 To clean up some of the discussion on the Fort Bragg rail service history, I believe this is accurate:
Sierra Railroad Company bought the Skunk Train out of bankruptcy in 2003, they formed a federally regulated railroad, as were all the preceding companies.They named it Mendocino Railway.
Although never profitable as far as I can tell, the Mendocino Railway has operated continuously.The Skunk Train tunnels have collapsed more than once during these 18 years, and many expensive repairs have been made. Since maybe 2015 there hasn’t been a repair that allowed rail service through Tunnel 1.The company has submitted requests for grant funds from the federal railroad funds at the Department of Transportation to do a complete repair there.Without that repair, the utility of the 36 mile rail line is lost, and no freight service is possible.They are supporting the railroad with short excursion trips from each depot.You can get more information about their plans from Robert Pinoli at Skunk Train in Fort Bragg.
The Press Democrat continues to publish the ravings and spin of disgruntled lake house owners associated with the Lake Pillsbury Alliance without fact-checking or moderating their claims. The Potter Valley Project and its dams are an enormous liability and certainly not one local water ratepayers should consider taking on. This is exactly why the Two-Basin Partnership’s (now failed) plan to take over the Potter Valley Project included the removal of Scott Dam.
Dams do not last forever, nor are aging dams cheap or efficient to operate. Ratepayers and the public should not be fooled into thinking that spending money on 100-year-old dams is a good investment. There are less expensive solutions that could maintain water supply in the Russian River without taking on the risk. Raising Lake Mendocino, a dam-free diversion, investments in conservation and groundwater recharge are cheaper, more sustainable and more reliable solutions to our water needs.
Don’t be fooled by cries to “save Lake Pillsbury.” These are simply the calls of privileged vacation house owners hoping someone else will pay for a dam that no one can afford and only they want.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 16, 2021
BRUCE DORAN, Rohnert Park/Ukiah. Burglary, stolen vehicle.
NOAH HARRISON, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
RAFAEL MALDONADO-MATA, Willits. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, suspended license, evasion, parole violation.
PETER ROSE, Point Arena. Mandatory supervision sentencing.
CHARLES WHIPPLE, Covelo. Ammo possession.
LARRY WOLFE, Ukiah. Parole violation.
THE TWO PATHS OF DOS PASSOS
by Paul F. Petrick
The carnage of World War I produced a cohort of writers unlike anything before or since. These “Lost Generation” novelists are still studied today. This year alone saw Ernest Hemingway given the Ken Burns treatment and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) enter the public domain, paving the way for it to become as ubiquitous among high school drama productions as it is among high school literature classes. Another novel entering the public domain this year (but with considerably less fanfare) is Manhattan Transfer (1925), an early work by John Dos Passos. Unlike his peers, Dos Passos is a lost member of the Lost Generation, his work receiving scant critical attention a century and a quarter after his birth. And no great novel is less known than Dos Passos’ Midcentury (1961), the 60th anniversary of its publication having gone unnoticed.
Dos Passos’ final completed novel, Midcentury is much more than the forgotten novel of a largely forgotten novelist. It is the completion of a personal and literary arc that began when Dos Passos published the trio of novels on which his reputation rests, The 42nd Parallel (1930), 1919 (1932), and The Big Money (1936). These novels were republished under the single title U.S.A. and the combined volume made Modern Library’s list of best English-language novels of the 20th Century. Revolutionary in form and substance, U.S.A. was written in a gritty, realistic style, combining fictional and nonfictional elements to describe the last century’s first three decades. Frequently described as “kaleidoscopic” or “panoramic,” U.S.A. featured a decentralized plot of disparate narratives interspersed with montages of newspaper headlines, news reports, and advertising copy, alongside mini-biographies of noteworthy personalities. Critics correctly identify U.S.A. as Dos Passos’ magnum opus, but mistakenly identify it as a trilogy rather than a tetralogy.
Written decades later, Midcentury is stylistically and thematically similar to U.S.A.’s original installments. Together, the four volumes form a labor-centric history of America from 1900-1960. Politics, however, differentiates Midcentury from U.S.A.’s three synoptic novels. Until the late 1930s, Dos Passos’ politics were radical without being communist. He joined numerous left-wing causes celebres from the Sacco and Vanzetti defense to the republican side of the Spanish Civil War. In Spain supporting the latter, Dos Passos experienced a moment of great clarity. It was not that he became disillusioned with the communists who came to dominate the republican forces in Spain. Dos Passos was always wary of communists. Rather his eyes were opened to the extent the noncommunist Left was willing to excuse communist atrocities in pursuit of power.
“Idealism without ethics is no compass,” Dos Passos observed in Midcentury. And so Dos Passos’ writing subsequently took on a more conservative character. The literary establishment noticed and the reviews of Dos Passos’ novels changed along with his political affiliation. Dos Passos answered his critics in the form of Midcentury. The New York Times recognized it as such stating, “Seldom does a writer retrieve a long-lost reputation at a single stroke.” The narrative portions of Midcentury read like something out of The Enemy Within, Robert F. Kennedy’s account of the U.S. Senate’s investigation of labor union corruption. The tales of union violence and intimidation against rank-and-file members recall the tactics used by Big Business and Big Government to thwart labor organizers in U.S.A.’s earlier novels. In the intervening years, the World War II economy swelled the ranks of organized labor, making unions rich, powerful, and attractive to organized criminals looking for new areas of exploitation after Prohibition’s repeal. Instead of protecting workers, Big Labor joined their oppressors.
“It never occurred to the right thinkers that the resentments they fanned up among the underprivileged might become the sinew of new oppressions,” remarked Dos Passos in Midcentury. That is the story of Dos Passos’ U.S.A. cycle. Astute reviewers have observed that while Dos Passos’ politics changed, his underlying sympathies did not. Dos Passos championed the working man, whom the powerful conspire against throughout all four novels. His admiration for the radical Industrial Workers of the World labor union was a constant. As was his embrace of America’s founding principles. When one political path did not lead to his desired destination, he took a different route.
It is lamentable that Dos Passos is not around to capture the zeitgeist of the recent past. No one was better at chronicling events still in the rearview mirror. Instead, we can only wonder what Dos Passos might have written about the fall of Big Labor in the private sector, its rise in the public sector, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Big Business and the Cultural Left. Who would merit a mini-biography in a sequel to Midcentury? I nominate Dos Passos.
(Paul F. Petrick is an attorney in Cleveland, Ohio.)
PURGATORY & OTHER PHANTOMS
Several decades ago I spent a fair amount of time pondering the meaning of life and where all this was headed to, and in the course of that journey I also considered what was the biggest threat to human life. It became clear to me that the most likely end of the line for humans here wasn’t a nuclear war or an act of nature, it was the tinkering with the genetics of plants and animals. This belief was what got me to take the Mendocino GMO ban and present it to the Lake County board of supervisors within weeks of it being released, with the word “Mendocino” swapped-out with “Lake County”.
The proposal didn’t get adopted, but it did start a whole chain of events in motion that had a profound effect on Lake County politics for years to come, everything from getting one of our best supervisors ever elected to setting the stage for another GMO ban attempt a few years later. I am extremely proud of the work that came out of that process, we put on the most compelling, comprehensive and professional presentation ever put before the Lake County BOS, and we got the needed three votes only to see it fall apart on the second reading due to one gutless and self-serving supervisor.
Sadly it seems my fears were well-founded, as it appears the entire Covid crisis is a prime example of everything wrong with the “Science” community, who almost certainly brought us this disaster. A very simple and basic rule I have always tried to live by is to NEVER be more impressed with what I knew than what I didn’t know, as only an arrogant fool would do. From what I can tell with my direct experience with these people, is there are an awful lot of arrogant fools in the scientific community, like the guys who built and ran Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Back in September I wrote a piece for my daughter the immunologist that you ran called “Blind Faith”, it was my warning to her not to fall into the cult that surrounded her in the scientific community that I KNEW was willing to take ANY risk in the name of research. I constantly challenge her on the subject and have scored some minor wins, but feel as though in the long run I’m doomed to fail changing either her mind or public opinion. Twice I have very nearly been killed by doctors, once by trying to cure my appendicitis with an enema and once by insisting I continue taking a drug that I was showing obvious signs of a severe adverse reaction to.
The result of my appendix issue was the doctor at Kaiser in Sacramento burst my appendix and sent me home after telling me not to come back for 24 hours-advice that would have killed me within hours for certain if I had followed it. As it was I got peritonitis, spent four days in the ICU and the next 14 months recovering, and have had a damaged immune and thyroid system ever since. The pain during the event was so severe I had an out-of-body experience, I was above the table looking down on myself and saying “It’s OK, he’s down there where the pain is, but I’m up here where its safe”.
The drug reaction was almost as bad, I visited hell for three whole days. I had a fever of 104, my entire body was covered with itchy red bumps including inside my mouth, I was projectile vomiting and dry-heaved for two entire days. I had extreme vertigo and could only barely crawl on my hands and knees, and also had extreme diarrhea. But none of that was even CLOSE to the pain in my brain, which felt like a red-hot steel rod had been shoved through my skull and was being moved around inside it. This was after I had begged the doctor not to use that drug and to give me another medication I had safely used before-but what did I know, I was just an uneducated peasant.
I don’t even want to go into what doctors have done to my family members, its too painful and far to long, suffice to say that between my father being a drunk and my mother’s doctors being grossly incompetent pricks they managed to kill her, and thats just one example.
So when I saw that you had done something I felt was out of character and inexplicable I became concerned, as I have for some time looked to you for your guidance on matters of substance and had always respected if not agreed with your viewpoints. But this year I saw what I thought was an odd perspective on the Covid epidemic, as your usually nuanced view was replaced with a full-on assault on the unvaccinated. As I have mentioned before I have had both my shots and for almost two full years I played by their rules, but now I’m done with it. I have never encouraged anyone not to get the shot, and have tried hard to get some at risk persons I know and care about to get vaccinated, so when people try to put me in one of the two boxes (vaccines cause autism or “I believe everything Pfizer tells me”), I find it more than annoying as I don’t buy either storyline.
Thats why I sent you the email, to attempt to nudge you back into your normally robust and well-measured level of healthy skepticism. As I have stated before its hard to find any heroes in all this, take for instance Fauci. He tells us masks don’t work and then says you MUST wear them-then says he lied to us because we were so dense that we would buy all the N-95 and surgical masks so none would be available for medical workers, a “noble” lie. He then tells us herd immunity would develop when 60% were vaccinated, then said it might be 70%, 80%, or 90%+ before that happened, right now Ireland has a 95%+ vaccination rate and they are having a major outbreak-as are MANY other highly vaccinated nations. Fauci AGAIN told us we were too dumb to understand the truth and we needed to be bullshitted on the subject to get us to take the jab-and don’t even get me started on his outright lies about funding gain-of-function research in China, no sane person should be defending that obviously self-serving bullshit.
It turns out that vaccines only have brief period where they can slow the transmission, this appears to be one area where natural immunity is far superior-but the NIH isn’t even studying it and neither is the FDA, which is largely funded by drug company fees. About 50 million Americans are confirmed to have had Covid, though the actual number is more likely around three times that, AND EVEN FAUCI HAS NO EXPLANATION AS TO WHY THEY NEED TO BE VACCINATED as he ADMITTED on CNN. Fauci has done an excellent job of making my point about the science cult that's never wrong and never admits mistakes while they arrogantly tell you if you doubt anything they say you are an imbecile.
The same goes for kids, show me ONE study that shows children are at higher risk from Covid than the regular flu-so why is your governor telling kids they need the jab right away and then says it can wait until next autumn? That's ‘science”?
That’s what concerned me about your response, I asked in that email chain many legitimate questions, not because I am pushing an anti-vaccination narrative but because no one is addressing them even with bullshit answers. Instead of discussing the points I brought up you went on a weird straw man tangent which ignored them all, it surprised, startled and saddened me.
I just want some answers, holy shit-is it too much to ask that someone explain why it is 2 years into this the countries with the best hospitals and most vaccines are doing FAR worse than in Africa where a TINY amount of people are vaccinated or have decent medical care? The disparity is so huge the age differences and lack of fat people don’t even come close to explaining it-and the scientific community is stone silent on it.
Why do we HAVE to trust ALL the words of the same people who brought us this plague? Where is the accountability? Why does “science” only matter when huge profits for the drug companies are on the line? Why do people who reliably question the government and special interest groups just fall into line and accept everything at face value from know liars and thieves? Remember that last year 100,000 died here from an opioid epidemic that was fired-up by the same people who have made tens of billions in the last year from Covid-THESE are people to have blind faith in? Count me out, I don’t want to play the game anymore, and don’t accept the box people are trying to put me in that's as idiotic as the partisan bullshit this entire debate has devolved into.
Look at Europe to see where we’re headed, riots in multiple countries every single day over covid restrictions with no end in sight, all of which our MSM ignores because they don’t want any here to get any ideas-their job is to placate, not educate. Even at 100% vaccinated this disease will still be with us-but remember how they told us “take the shot and life will return to normal”? Apparently “normal” means getting boosters twice a year and carrying a vaccination card with you everywhere or one of Bill Gates digital vaccination files that he’s been pushing for years because he knows it will make him rich(er). Fuck that, this crisis has turned into the biggest enrichment opportunity in history for the billionaire class already, which gets ignored as does the huge mental and physical health (obesity) issues the crises has spawned AND NONE OF THIS HAD TO HAPPEN!
I wish you would join me on the middle ground where facts, an open mind and reason still matter and the partisan taint hasn’t poisoned everything, or at a minimum just avoided the subject as much as possible-that's my Christmas wish!
Have a merry Christmas and a great new year,
Grants Pass, Oregon
ED REPLY: I disagree with everything you've stated or implied, but I'm printing your letter and responding to you because we go back a ways.
1. The meaning of life. If we're doomed as a species, as seems more and more likely, it will be from a combination of catastrophes already underway, including the unwillingness of millions of the un- and under-informed to vaccinate against this, or later, viruses.
2. You have a smart daughter. You should listen to her, especially if she's a working immunologist.
3. Your unfortunate experiences with the medical profession are, obviously, the exception, not the rule. I had a near death experience myself ten years ago; it was doctors who saved me. (When I woke up in the ICU at St. Mary's there was a gaggle of nuns passing by, and I wondered why the Catholics had allowed me into purgatory.)
4. I'm flattered you appreciate my occasionally “nuanced” views on this or that while I'm simultaneously surprised at your retro covid views. If I had the authority I would make vaccination mandatory and sequester persons who refused. I'm old enough to remember a kid in my neighborhood imprisoned in an iron lung by polio. Americans — the whole world — celebrated when the great Dr. Salk came up with the antidote (and never made a penny from it). America has since lost its way, but people then had the sense to trust science and trust the medical profession. What happened? (The internet, primarily. I loved that New Yorker cartoon of a guy sitting on the commode with his laptop as he shouts to his wife, “Honey? Guess what I just found out about covid!”)
5. Dr. Fauci, despite being vilified and having his life constantly threatened, has done the best he can in combating a complex, shape-shifting virus. Reasonable people understand the evolving circumstances he's had to function in — beginning with suffering the Orange Idiot as his boss — and admire him for his courage in carrying on. I admire him without reservation.
6. The anti-vaxx riots in Europe? That entire continent is presently reeling from covid's latest incarnation; the rioters are the more energetic soul bros of the same fools who oppose vaccination here. In Europe, though, the anti-vaxxers are a smaller minority than they are here because Europeans are better educated than Americans, generally speaking of course.
Merry Christmas and happy new year to you, Phil. Here's hoping you come to your senses in 2022.
JEFF BLANKFORT: Earlier today I unfriended a long time FB friend who I have actually met and worked with who early in the Covid pandemic decided it was a hoax and became an anti-vaxxer. I told her as I have told others that while I believe she has a right to hold whatever view she wishes on the subject but that (a) neither she nor I was qualified to pass judgment on the issue and (b) if she chose to post her comments on Covid on my FB page I would unfriend her.
Yesterday, after learning of cruel comments she had posted to a woman FB friend of hers who had just had major surgery, a double lung transplant, unrelated to Covid, and was in the hospital, I went to her FB page and was outraged to find that she had linked her opposition to the vaccine to her work on behalf of Palestine where she lives which has been quite good.
However, as everyone going to her page sees, she encircled and made part of the logo of an American pro-Palestinian organization, Al-Akba Awareness Project, of which she lists herself as co-director, an anti-vax statement that was totally out of line because in no way can she claim to represent to the public the opinions of any segment of Palestinian society on this issue. It is something that neither she nor anyone else has a right to do.
She has more than 4900 FB "friends" and just under a thousand followers which include, without a doubt, a number who will read this comment.
No, she never did post her anti-vax position on my FB page but as of this morning, as of a few moments ago, she has one less FB "friend" and one less "follower."
TOFFS AND TOUGHS
THIS IS THE MAILING OF A PARTY that has lost both its mind and its soul. The Party of Trump, is in the process of self immolation... and they are intent in taking the world down with them. Staunch Republican after Republican, have abandoned this "Shit Show in a Dumpster Fire" -- George Conway (Kelly-Anne's Husband and cofounder of of the Lincoln Project)
To a person, every Republican, willing to put America First, committed to service with integrity, dedicated to actual conservative ideals, The Constitution and Democracy, and isn't simply brain damaged, has either run away from the Republican Party like their hair is on fire, or been forced out with extreme prejudice because they will not support, fathomless dishonesty, totalitarianism, fascism, criminality, subversion, outright treason, and sedition. This is a party that clearly saw it had no future (the trends pointing to its demise were irrefutable), so their answer is to pitch democracy in the latrine and flush. We need to hold these political criminals accountable, and their crimes are innumerable.
We need to address the monied criminals behind the scenes, paying for this destruction of our republic in the name of their personal wealth and power. We need to go after people who've used media and public information, to brainwash a significant segment of the population, radicalizing people and dividing our nation. We need to go after the Foreign Powers who've been using these resources to destroy democracy on a global scale. We need to make this conversation loud, and public, and so clear that even the slowest wit, and most deluded can't deny a new day has dawned, and there is zero tolerance for bull pucky.
It's time for hard medicine in extra-large economy quantities.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The Kepler space telescope expected to find ~50 “earth-like” planets. It found (maybe) one, possible two but their signatures could just as easily be ‘noise’. Kepler’s major discovery was that our sun is on the extreme right side of a normal distribution of similar stars in terms of solar activity (i.e., it is extremely “quiet” as stars of its type go). Might this have some bearing on the existence of life here on earth?
Further, Earth’s moon is an unusual satellite in terms of its size relative to its planet. It keeps the earth’s rotation stable. Without the moon, our earth would at random times change its axis of rotation. Climate would be radically affected to the point where only the simplest microbes could survive.
There hasn’t been discovered any essential reason why our planet has the amount of water it has. It might have been fully covered with water in its formation, thus preventing the generation of an advanced technological species. Or it might have received little to no water from comets in its formation. Was this accidental that it received just the right amount of water for life to arise?
It was unusual that Jupiter stopped its inward migration toward the sun in the formation of our solar system. Most giant gas planets continue their inward course & assume a very close orbit around their stars (“hot Jupiters”) closer in than the orbit of Mercury. The existence of Saturn at just the right distance out from Jupiter stopped Jupiter in its tracks from continuing its inward migration, which would have thrown the earth & the other rocky inner planets out into the void.
We live in a tight “Goldilocks zone” where liquid water is possible on the surface. This also allows plate tectonics & a recycling of the elements essential to life (the Carbon cycle). Enabling the circulation of the core & mantle, the earth becomes a giant magnet which prevents the solar wind from stripping the earth of its atmosphere & protecting its biosphere.
The presence of the gas giants outside the inner planets may very well act as a kind of barrier to the incursions of most comets & meteors from encroaching on the inner planets thus fostering the evolution of advanced forms of life.
When you combine all these improbabilities, it becomes unlikely in the extreme that there are “trillions” of intelligent species out there (& no a bacterium is not intelligent). In fact we may be the only intelligent species in our galaxy. This doesn’t prove anything about God, because a kind of self-selection bias (the Anthropic principle) is at work here, but it does mean that the earth is almost certainly a special place in the cosmos.
TOP COVID HOST NATIONS & HUNTING GROUNDS
THE REAL DISINFORMATION AGENTS: Watch as NBC News Tells Four Blatant Lies in a Two-Minute Clip
The same corporate outlets that most vocally profess concern over disinformation are the ones spreading it most casually. NBC's Assange report is the perfect case study.
by Glenn Greenwald
The war on "disinformation” is now one of the highest priorities of the political and media establishment. It has become the foundational justification for imposing a regime of online censorship. Around the world, new laws are being enacted in its name to empower the state to regulate discourse. Exploiting this cause, a small handful of billionaires are working in unison with Western security state agencies — under the guise of neutral-sounding names like The Atlantic Council — to set the limits of permissible thought and decree what is true and false. Corporate media outlets are attempting to rehabilitate their shattered image by depicting themselves as the bulwark against the rising tide of disinformation....
LITTLE RASCALS STAR ALLEN HOSKINS KEPT HIS PAST A SECRET
by Susan Minichiello
The first Black male psychiatric technician who worked at the Sonoma Developmental Center — a man named Allen Hoskins in 1956 — had a secret past unlike any of his colleagues or friends.
As a toddler, Hoskins embarked on an acting career that spanned hundreds of performances in the “Our Gang” films between 1921 and 1931, also known as “The Little Rascals” in TV syndication. The franchise began as silent films and later transitioned into “talkies.”
His character, Farina, was often poorly dressed with hair in pigtails and was criticized by some for perpetuating racial stereotypes, which Hoskins remained unapologetic for during his lifetime.
After a stint in the Army and a string of odd jobs, Hoskins moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles in the 1950s. He came to Sonoma County in 1953 “to redecorate a Windsor motel which became the Cottage Grove Convalescent Home,” according to an obituary story in The Press Democrat. During that time he met his wife, Franzy. He lived in Kenwood and Santa Rosa until the mid-1960s.
A member of the NAACP, Hoskins was quoted in The Press Democrat in 1965 for a story about lack of adequate housing for minorities in certain areas of Santa Rosa, including Wright and Stony Point roads.
“I don’t understand why the white community doesn’t open it up,” Hoskins said. “There is plenty of housing in the area, but for some reason or other our people don’t seem to be able to get in.”
He was also involved in the arts while living in Santa Rosa as a member of a local theater group and owner of a photography studio on Santa Rosa Avenue.
Hoskins later moved to Oakland, where he worked for the Alameda County Chapter of the Association of Retarded People, a national organization that is now known as The Arc.
He didn’t like to speak publicly about his past as a child star, but toward the end of his life he opened up in media interviews about his experience as a film actor.
“Those were the only roles a lot of Black actors could get, and jobs were scarce,” Hoskins said to the San Francisco Examiner in 1978 about his performance of Farina.
A year later, he spoke to the Associated Press about fond memories he had of playing Farina, a closely guarded secret he kept from friends for most of his adult life.
“The gang was unique, well-integrated, ahead of its time,” Hoskins said of “Our Gang.” “There was nothing else to compare with it in its day. I’d fall into a bucket of feathers; a white kid would fall into a bucket of feathers.”
Hoskins was inducted in the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1975. He died cancer in 1980 at the age of 59.
(Courtesy, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat)