Freezing Temps | 61 New Cases | 128 Elevated | Crab Feed | Covid Testing | Hire Triathletes | Six Hit | Kid's Night | Housing Survey | John Madden | 2022 | Expensive Home | Sierra Snow | Ed Notes | Hee Haw | Biloxi Days | Yesterday's Catch | Sagan Foreboding | Neck Tats | Fastest Thing | Dem Lunacies | Tahja Children | Privilege | Ferndale | Koko Taylor | Working Poor | Weimar USA | Commie Lucile | Vital Services | Drug Policy | Letterpress Exhibit | Trent Video | Low-Power Radio | Albion Train
LIGHT COASTAL RAIN and interior mountain snow will quickly fade as the morning progresses. Thereafter, freezing temperatures will be probable Thursday morning, and again Saturday morning. A winter storm will then materialize late this weekend into early next week and aid in widespread heavy precipitation and gusty winds. (NWS)
61 NEW COVID CASES (since last Thursday) reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
Hwy 128 update
There's a better website for highway information at: https://roads.dot.ca.gov/?roadnumber=128&submit=Search
I just checked and found no restrictions on 128. You can use the same link to check on 1 or 20 or other state highways. There are no restrictions on Hwy 1 in Northern California.
I've also been checking the river at Navarro Beach every few days and can report that the sandbar is wide open and discharging freely to the ocean. There's a website with a chart of the recent and forecast Navarro river level and flow rate at: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=nvrc1
At 3 PM Tuesday the river level at the gauge 5 mi. upstream from the ocean is 9.5 ft. and the forecast is for steadily diminishing level through at least next Sunday at 3 AM. The flood level is 23 ft. and there is no flooding likely unless the sandbar channel is closed up, which it won't be in the immediate future due to high flows keeping the channel open.
Also I learned that CalTrans raised the level of the pavement in the stretch beginning at mile post 0.18 to reduce the chance of sandbar-caused flooding. They put at least 6 inches of new pavement overlay on it.
Rain and water table update
My 7-day rain total through Monday was 5.18 inches near the Y on Little River Airport Rd. 3 mi. from the coast and 600 ft. elevation.
The season total here since July 1 is 22.07 inches as of Monday 12/27 at 4 PM.
The water table has been rising for the past few weeks. Yesterday it was at 265" measured from the well cover to the water surface. That's up 20" from my lowest reading in over 30 years, 285 inches on Oct. 25. (Because this is a distance from the top to the water surface, a lower number means a higher water level.)
The NWS forecast says we should have some sun Wednesday afternoon, mostly sunny Thursday and fully sunny on Friday and Sunday, which is New Year's Day. Next rainy system expected to arrive Sunday night. Looks like it's going to be mostly wet for the near future.
Happy New Year,
FREE COVID TESTING
It’s not as convenient or rapid as an at home test kit, but free Covid testing is still widely available all around the county. This includes testing centers as well as a blue bus that travels around the county all week. Here is the current info from the county website: mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-testing
SIX VEHICLES STRUCK AND ONE PERSON INJURED After Driver Flees Law Enforcement In Willits Safeway Parking Lot
First responders were on the scene of a series of six traffic collisions and a moderate injury that resulted from a driver fleeing law enforcement in the Willits Safeway parking lot near the intersection of South Main Street and Franklin Avenue Tuesday, evening.
MENDOCINO COUNTY HOUSING SURVEY to guide Supervisor Ted Williams in advocating for public interest. "I'd like to understand where and how you want housing development to change": surveymonkey.com/r/GXKBXHR
NFL HALL OF FAME COACH, BROADCASTING ICON JOHN MADDEN DIES AT 85
Hall of Fame coach and broadcasting icon John Madden died unexpectedly Tuesday morning, the NFL announced. He was 85
"On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Virginia, Mike, Joe and their families," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every major network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
"Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football. He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others. There will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today."
Madden was only 32 when then-Raiders owner Al Davis hired him to coach Oakland in 1969. Before leaving the sideline for the announcing booth in 1978, Madden led Oakland to a 103-32-7 regular-season record and a victory in the 1977 Super Bowl.
Oakland never had a losing record under Madden, winning seven division titles and making the playoffs eight times.
Madden was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, 28 years after coaching his final game.
But he had gained even more fame as an analyst on NFL telecasts and for the football video game that bears his name -- EA Sports' "Madden NFL." Some players who have graced the Madden cover have struggled the following season, spurring the fan myth of the "Madden curse."
INITIAL REPORTS from a County Employee new to Mendo's $5 million Crisis Residential Treatment Center but experienced with centers elsewhere in California maintains that an existing home could have been remodeled for less than $1 million. The new building appears to have been built in a rush and on the cheap despite its expensive price tag. Our source says it won’t stand up under the stress and hard usage of handling psych patients. Our source predicts the building will become a maintenance burden on the County and while it’s under repair it won’t be able to house clients.
THOSE MICHIGAN YOBBOS accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer say they had no such plan, that it was instigated by federal informants. “Dan” who infiltrated the group, paid for gas, food and lodging for militia-style weekend training. When the five accused yobs said they weren't interested in strenuous weekend camo games, Agent “Dan” suggested major felonies, like snatching the governor. Agent “Dan” picked up an easy $50 grand for hanging out with these fantasists while encouraging them to commit serious crimes in the name of Trumpian patriotism. “Dan” was laid off when he pled guilty to slugging his wife after a night out with other degenerates for group sex, a neat statement of the kind of quality people the feds are hiring these days.
CALL ME OLD SCHOOL, but the federal government shouldn't be paying FBI creeps to get dumb guys in serious trouble. I bring it up because we know, as confirmed by January 6th, there are millions of fascist-minded people out there — lots in Mendo County fer shure — who think kidnapping governors and otherwise carrying out Trump's treasonous agenda only awaits the Orange Oracle's okay, which we can probably expect in 2024 when Michelle Obama defeats him again and he again claims election fraud.
SO, YOBBOS, try and understand that the tough-talking gun guy who showed up outta nowhere who's encouraging you to commit felonies as your patriotic duty is a federal agent paid to set your dumb ass up.
I TAKE it all back as I pretend anyone but me cares. Turns out Jimmy Garappollo sprained the thumb on his throwing hand last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, sprained it in the first half, hence, probably, his horrendous throws in the second half that led to the Niner defeat.
SLANDER. I saw a reference to me on a Coast chatline as “slandering Bruce Anderson.” I wrote to the woman who'd libeled me to ask her if she would deign to provide some evidence, any evidence, that I'd slandered her or anyone else. Lately. She declined and, consistent with the passo-aggresso style of Mendolib, wished me a merry christmas.
I'VE ALWAYS TRIED to avoid maligning, gratuitously, the innocent and even the guilty. If I'm factually incorrect, I print the correction. But in my long experience in this profession, if newspapering is a profession — David Muir? Scott Simon? David Brooks? — most of my alleged libels are simply my opinions about Mendo personalities that make them and their friends unhappy. These appear in print, meaning that their targets, if truly libeled, could sue. I've got a drawer full of demand letters from lawyers demanding that if I don't print a retraction for this or that statement they would sue me. I have always reprinted the alleged libel, which happened to be true in the first place, and the lawyer had to go away because truth is not a crime. (Yet.) Slander's another matter. Like most people I probably slander, on average, a dozen or so people a day in, for instance, vigorously expressed verbal opinions of the three journalo-clowns listed above and whatever other esel (Boontling) pops up on my mind screen. Or in my face.
LOCAL MEDIA being a chaste affair, the bracing opinions often expressed in Boonville's beloved weekly seem to surprise and even shock people who are unaccustomed to adult exchanges of views. And, of course, our population has a much higher percentage of straight-up candy asses than ever, meaning people easily offended. (cf for local ref the Fort Bragg name changers.) I doubt the lady who casually libeled me on the MCN chat line was aware that she was doing what she'd libeled me for doing.
THIS BUMPERSTICKER spotted on a beat-up grey Chevy parked on North School Street last week: “What would Herb Caen say?”
I DON’T THINK Ukiah would want to know, while I wonder if Herb ever visited Mendocino County, well within the Chron's circulation area back when newspapers ruled the media roost, securely perched above radio and television. Hold it! Herb did indeed visit Mendo, and fairly often, too. He was a great friend of the late Charlotte Maillaird and was her frequent guest at the Maillaird's Yorkville ranch. He also stayed occasionally at the Heritage House near Mendocino. I have a vague memory of a macabre para Caen wrote about watching the Mendocino Fire and Rescue people retrieve a drowned man as he ate his breakfast from the warm security of HH's dining room.
BILOXI DAYS: THE DAY I COULDN’T GET MYSELF FIRED
by Mark Scaramella
It was a routine day at the office in the early 70s at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. I had been transferred to the job of Organizational Maintenance Squadron Commander a few months earlier from Field Maintenance Squadron Commander when Sergeant Johns, the senior enlisted man in Field Maintenance, had asked his long time patron — and my top boss — Colonel Emery Taylor to move me to Org Maintenance as his last act of revenge on the flight line maintenance group before he retired after 30 years in the Air Force.
During his final tour of duty in Field Maintenance (before retiring) Sergeant Johns and I had found ourselves on the losing end of an ongoing battle with our sister squadron (Org. Maintenance) which was overstaffed and underworked while we in the specialized maintenance/repair shops were understaffed and overworked.
Despite our frequent gripes from the shops, Maintenance Control continued to dispatch our limited specialists to the well-staffed flight line to do ordinary gas station maintenance tasks (tire alignments, aeleron adjustments, canopy cleaning, engine run-ups, etc.)
As a 20-something young lieutenant, I had no real business being put in charge of Field Maintenance in the first place, but the Air Force was short of maintenance officers at the time (most senior maintenance officers were in Vietnam), and suddenly being put in charge Org. Maintenance was quite a surprise to both Org. Maintenance and me. But the grizzled and burly Johns had convinced Colonel Taylor (as I later learned through a mutual friend) that only Lieutenant Scaramella could “fix” Org. Maintenance. Johns had also demanded the transfer as a reward for this 30 years of service. To put it mildly, I was not welcomed warmly at Org. Maintenance — even then, I had a well-deserved reputation of being a frequent critic of their inadequate training and poor management.
The Air Police had caught and detained an Org. Maintenance flightline airman with an open bottle of wine going into the barracks. Booze in the barracks was a no-no. When I got the Air Police report, I summoned the airman to the Squadron Commander’s office to face the “charges.”
Sergeant Johnson was Org. Maintenance’s First Sergeant. Johnson was a tobacco chewing old enlisted bureaucrat with a distinct southern drawl who accompanied the airman into my office and sat to the side of the “hearing” spitting globs of green goo, chaw, if you prefer, into a rusty coffee can he had placed on the floor as usual as I quizzed the airman.
The First Sergeant is supposed to be the airman’s “representative” in these hearings, but in practice Johnson took a vague “what’s good for the Squadron” stand and didn’t concern himself much with justice for the “accused.”
My predecessor in Org. Maintenance was another young lieutenant named Terry Spratlen who was overbearing and officious and basically an asshole. Chief Johns hated him and his flight line boss Chief Warrant Officer Rowland. Instead of Spratlen’s arrogant and clipped military style interrogation, I preferred a more conversational tone.
After a few friendly questions regarding the circumstances of the airman’s booze citation, he admitted that he had been driving drunk as he had begun consuming the contents of the bottle at a friend’s house, continued drinking in the car, and, when stopped by the Air Police, on his way from the car to the barracks, the bottle was almost empty. I told the airman that he was then guilty of a much more serious crime than just booze in the barracks. But, I said, if he accepted Restriction to Barracks for 20 consecutive weekends (signing in every 15 minutes) as punishment for the Booze in the Barracks charge, I’d forget about his drunk driving confession. He grumbled, asking, “Can’t you just fine me?” I said no, he probably needed the money (and he’d have trouble spending it while on restriction). He reluctantly agreed, signed the papers, and that should have been the end of it.
But Sergeant Johnson was pissed. After the airman was dismissed, Johnson angrily accused me of tricking the airman into his drunk driving confession by being friendly and cordial. He insisted that the weekends on restriction was excessive punishment for the airman, and then brought up a whole rasher of other unrelated pent-up complaints about my three-month tenure as Organization Maintenance Squadron Commander — too flexible in enforcement of uniform rules, re-assignments of some flight chiefs, the use of sign-ins to enforce restrictions, my insistence that rules and orders be explained rather than just issued, etc. He said that he wanted to speak to Colonel Taylor about getting the airman’s punishment reduced and, he added, “get a Commander in here who’s not playing games with the men.”
Rather than blustering about insubordination, I said, “Fine. Let’s go up to Colonel Taylor’s office right now.”
Sergeant Johnson called what he thought was my bluff and we got in my car and headed off for Colonel’s Taylor’s office a few hangars down the street. On the way I started thinking out-loud about who might replace me. There was the dork Major in Mainteance Control, the nerdish Avionics Squadron Commander, a grounded pilot on temporary assignment, the occasional drunk who was the Maintenance Checkflight pilot… an unattractive bunch, especially when considering that maintenance people don’t like working for pilots who tend to blame maintenance people for pilot mistakes or minimize pilot errors which can cause a lot of extra work for the maintenance crews, if not aggressively resisted.
(Aside — One time a Lt. Colonel pilot came storming into my Field Maintenance office and threw some aircraft forms on my desk.
“That’s not funny!” he shouted. “What’s not funny?,” I asked. He angrily flipped some pages and pointed at the last maintenance discrepancy which read, “Evidence of hydraulic leak in nose wheelwell.” The “corrective action” block which my hydraulic specialist had filled out read, “Evidence removed.”
I stifled a giggle.
“This is serious!” he shouted.
“Well, sir, there is a maximum allowable leakage in hydraulic systems,” I said. “He probably just wiped down the area to see if it was leaking and how much,” I added, “but I agree that he could have phrased it better.”
“I want him fired,” insisted the Lt. Colonel, “that system was leaking!”
“I’ll take care of it, sir,” I replied.
After the Lt. Colonel left, I called the Hydraulic shop chief and told him to improve his shop’s forms entries.)
Back to the story…
When we got to Colonel Taylor’s office, his secretary said the Colonel was busy and we’d have to come back or wait 20 minutes or so. We sat on the hard couch to wait as the Colonel’s secretary busied herself with her papers.
As we waited I rehearsed what I’d say to the Colonel — that Sergeant Johnson disagrees with my decision in this case and that he wants me fired because I’m not doing a good job as Squadron Commander. I never really wanted the job so I’d say I agreed with the First Sergeant that I should be moved up to an easy staff job in Quality Control or Maintenance Analysis or Records or Logistics Plans.
As the minutes passed, Johnson, occasionally leaning over the couch’s arm-rest to sort of drool/spit his green gooey gobs of wet tobacco into his spit-can, apparently changed his mind, presumably after considering the unattractive alternatives — much as he disliked me. “We don’t need to see the Colonel, ma’am,” he told Colonel Taylor’s secretary. “You can cancel our appointent.”
We drove back to my office in silence.
For the rest of my two-year Org. Maintenance tenure, there were no more major objections from Sgt. Johnson. But if there had been, I was perfectly prepared to try to get myself fired again.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 27, 2021
KELLY BLISS, Portland, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI.
WAYNE BROWN, Clearlake/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DAVID CALVO, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
SAVANNAH ELDER, Fort Bragg. Battery, contempt of court.
CARLOS FLORES, Ukiah. Vandalism, resisting.
DYLAN HURT, Covelo. DUI.
MARCO JACKSON, Fort Bragg. Under influence, concealed dirk-dagger.
JAMES MCGARY, Elk. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JARED SCHUMAKER, Willits. DUI.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I know many good, hardworking people with lots of tattoos. I'm glad we've reached a place in society where people with a lot of ink don't even stand out. But seriously, based on mugshots, if you did a Venn diagram of “people with neck tats” and “drug dealers,” the drug dealer circle would be almost entirely within the neck tat circle. Statistically speaking, having a neck tat doesn't mean you're an illegal drug dealer, but boy is the fraction higher than it is for the not-drug-dealer population.
DEMS EDUCATION LUNACIES WILL BRING BACK TRUMP
by Matt Taibbi
Terry McAuliffe lost the Virginia governor's race by saying, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach." If that was no gaffe, Democrats have a lot more significant losing ahead
On Meet the Press Daily last week, Chuck Todd featured a small item about the 23 Democrats not planning on running for re-reelection to congress next year. Todd guessed such a high number expressed a lack of confidence in next year’s midterms, and his guest, University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato, agreed. “This is just another indicator that Democrats will probably have a bad year in 2022,” said Sabato, adding, “They only have a majority of five. It’s pretty tough to see how they hold on.”
On the full Meet the Press Sunday, Todd in an ostensibly unrelated segment interviewed 1619 Project author and New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones about Republican efforts in some states to ban teaching of her work. He detoured to ask about the Virginia governor’s race, which seemingly was decided on the question, “How influential should parents be about curriculum?” Given that Democrats lost Virginia after candidate Terry McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach,” Todd asked her, “How do we do this?”
Hannah-Jones’s first answer was to chide Todd for not remembering that Virginia was lost not because of whatever unimportant thing he’d just said, but because of a “right-wing propaganda campaign that told white parents to fight against their children being indoctrinated.” This was standard pundit fare that for the millionth time showed a national media figure ignoring, say, the objections of Asian immigrant parents to Virginia policies, but whatever: her next response was more notable. “I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” Hannah-Jones said. “I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies or science.”
I’m against bills like the proposed Oklahoma measure that would ban the teaching of Jones’s work at all state-sponsored educational institutions. I think bans are counter-productive and politically a terrible move by Republicans, who undercut their own arguments against authoritarianism and in favor of “local control” with such sweeping statewide measures. Still, it was pretty rich hearing the author of The 1619 Project say she lacked the expertise to teach, given that a) many historians agree with her there, yet b) she’s been advocating for schools to teach her dubious work to students all over the country.
Even odder were her next comments, regarding McAuliffe’s infamous line about parents. About this, Hannah-Jones said:
We send our kids to school because we went our kids to be taught by people with expertise in the subject area… When the governor, or the candidate, said he didn’t think parents should be deciding what’s being taught in school, he was panned for that, but that’s just a fact.
In the wake of McAuliffe’s loss, the “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach” line was universally tabbed a “gaffe” by media. I described it in the recent “Loudoun County: A Culture War in Four Acts” series in TK as the political equivalent of using a toe to shoot your face off with a shotgun, but this was actually behind the news cycle. Yahoo! said the “gaffe precipitated the Democrat’s slide in the polls,” while the Daily Beast’s blunter headline was, “Terry McAuliffe’s White-Guy Confidence Just Fucked the Dems.”
However, much like the Hillary Clinton quote about “deplorables,” conventional wisdom after the “gaffe” soon hardened around the idea that what McAuliffe said wasn’t wrong at all. In fact, people like Hannah-Jones are now doubling down and applying to education the same formula that Democrats brought with disastrous results to a whole range of other issues in the Trump years, telling voters that they should get over themselves and learn to defer to “experts” and “expertise.”
This was a bad enough error in 2016 when neither Democrats nor traditional Republicans realized how furious the public was with “experts” on Wall Street who designed horrifically unequal bailouts, or “experts” on trade who promised technical retraining that never arrived to make up for NAFTA job josses, or Pentagon “experts” who promised we’d find WMDs in Iraq and be greeted as liberators there, and so on, and so on. Ignoring that drumbeat, and advising Hillary Clinton to run on her 25 years of “experience” as the ultimate Washington insider, won the Democratic Party leaders four years of Donald Trump.
It was at least understandable how national pols could once believe the public valued their “professional” governance on foreign policy, trade, the economy, etc. Many of these matters probably shouldn’t be left to amateurs (although as has been revealed over and over of late, the lofty reputations of experts often turn out to be based mainly upon their fluidity with gibberish occupational jargon), and disaster probably would ensue if your average neophyte was suddenly asked to revamp, say, the laws governing securities clearing.
But parenting? For good reason, there’s no parent anywhere who believes that any “expert” knows what’s better for their kids than they do. Parents of course will rush to seek out a medical expert when a child is sick, or has a learning disability, or is depressed, or mired in a hundred other dilemmas. Even through these inevitable terrifying crises of child rearing, however, all parents are alike in being animated by the absolute certainty — and they’re virtually always right in this — that no one loves their children more than they do, or worries about them more, or agonizes even a fraction as much over how best to shepherd them to adulthood happy and in one piece.
Implying the opposite is a political error of almost mathematically inexpressible enormity. This is being done as part of a poisonous rhetorical two-step. First, Democrats across the country have instituted radical policy changes, mainly in an effort to address socioeconomic and racial disparities. These included eliminating standardized testing to the University of California system, doing away with gifted programs (and rejecting the concept of gifted children in general), replacing courses like calculus with data science or statistics to make advancement easier, and pushing a series of near-parodical ideas with the aid of hundreds of millions of dollars from groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that include things like denouncing emphasis on “getting the right answer” or “independent practice over teamwork” as white supremacy.
When criticism ensued, pundits first denied as myth all rumors of radical change, then denounced complaining parents as belligerent racists unfit to decide what should be taught to their children, all while reaffirming the justice of leaving such matters to the education “experts” who’d spent the last decade-plus doing things like legislating grades out of existence. This “parents should leave ruining education to us” approach cost McAuliffe Virginia, because it dovetailed with what parents had long been seeing and hearing on the ground.
The complaints of most Loudoun parents I spoke with about curriculum were usually double-edged. The first thing that drove many crazy was the recognition that whatever their kids were learning in school, it was less and less the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Kids were coming home showing weird deficiencies in obvious areas of need, forcing parents, and especially working mothers, to devote long evening hours to catching their kids up on things like spelling and multiplication tables. “I grew up laughing at the idea of homeschooling. I thought that was an idea for religious kooks,” one mother told me. “But after a while, I caught myself thinking, ‘I’m doing all the teaching anyway, why not just cut out the middleman?’”
Parents talked incessantly about the lowering of standards in Loudoun, whether it was the dropping of midterms and finals in 2015, or the school’s new “Retake Policy,” which not only set an arbitrary floor of 50% on all “summative assessments” (the word “test” has been mostly out of use for at least a decade there, apparently because it puts too much pressure on students), but automatically allowed students to retake tests if they scored below 80%. The rule also required teachers to accept a humorous euphemism called “late-work.”
School bureaucrats are motivated in almost every case to not only avoid giving bad grades, but to pre-empt efforts to track children as ahead or behind by slotting them in certain classes. In a phenomenon replicated in other parts of the country, kids in Loudoun take the same math classes all the way through their junior years in high school, when they’re finally allowed to take advanced courses. As a result, students who are ready for calculus sit in the same classrooms as students still struggling with pre-algebra, putting teachers in a nearly impossible bind — how do you design “summatives” for kids on such different levels? — and all but guaranteeing that the bulk of kids don’t learn much, or near enough.
Some version of this dysfunction story is going on in districts all over the country. If you drill down into reasons, they usually come down to local bureaucrats discovering that lowering standards and eliminating measurable forms of achievement works as a short-term political solution on a variety of fronts, from equity politics to dealing with parent groups, teachers’ unions, and public and private funding sources.
Given these pressures, some policy moves are understandable, but even though most school systems get dealt impossible political hands, they routinely screw things up far worse than they need to. The usual pattern involves taking the easiest way out over and over, building bureaucracies full of institutionalized cop-outs and do-overs that mass-produce undereducated kids, angry parents, frustrated teachers, and too many prospering “STEM camps” and and private consultancies that offer (and usually fail, after collecting a fee) to pick up the slack.
In Loudoun, a lot of these issues would have hovered below emergency levels, were it not for two developments: pandemic closures that allowed parents to see what their kids were and were not being taught, and an outside “Equity Assessment” that gave parents a look into both their schools’ bizarre finances (a $500,000 no-bid consulting contract?) and the slew of wild plans about to be implemented in the name of “equity.” As noted in the “Culture War” series, these latter ideas included everything from the elimination of standardized testing to a proposed ban on criticism of school policy (at work or at home), to the formation of an anonymous nonwhite-only kid snitch network. In a crowning insult, the horrified reaction to these new plans was billed in papers like the Washington Post as parental resistance to “forcing students to learn about race.”
Historically, both parties have cranked out unsuccessful education reforms, from George Bush’s No Child Left Behind to Barack Obama’s $4.3 billion “Race to the Top” (which EdWeekjust quietly noted showed “no positive impact”). Only the current iteration of Democrats, however, is dumb enough to campaign on the idea that parents should step aside and let the same “experts” who’ve spent the last fifty years turning the American education system into a global punchline take full charge of their kids’ upbringing.
The arrogance of this position is breathtaking. There is a debate to be had over whether public education, as New York put it after McAuliffe’s loss, is “a public good in which the citizenry at large is the essential stakeholder, or a publicly provided private benefit for children and their parents.” But the strategy of the educational establishment has been to put off the debate by denouncing as conspiracy theory the very idea that a discussion is even needed.
Worse, the rhetorical stall usually involves this argument that parents lack the moral and intellectual standing to be part of the conversation. Even the Indian and Asian families whose lives often revolve around their kids, and whose children made up over 70% of gifted programs in Loudoun before recent changes phased out the old race-blind admissions process, are being told by blue-checks and cable pundits that their concerns are imaginary, a manufactured Fox News invention.
These attitudes aren’t merely unpopular, they’re repellent to the point of making people want to sprint in a rage to the nearest ballot center to vote against them. People will certainly do that next year, and if nothing changes, in 2024 as well, even if Donald Trump is on the ticket — that’s how repugnant these concepts look up close, no matter how many pundits try to deny it. The Biden administration seems to understand this, recently unveiling a plan to boost parent “engagement” when a new poll showed Democrats’ lead on the education issue shrinking from 20 to 7 points. “Parents’ voices are critical to the success of our education system,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in the voice of a man reading a hostage note, adding, “They are our children’s first, and most influential teachers.”
This half-baked piece of P.R. writing, a pale copy of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s “Parents Matter” slogan, won’t work at all unless the administration follows up by sending a thousand of their party’s most dedicated educational cultists on a long fact-finding trip to Greenland. You can sell voters on a lot of policies, but “We know how to raise your kids better than you,” will never be one of them. Even a competent government wouldn’t survive making this claim, let alone this one.
PEOPLE OF PRIVILEGE will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right.
— John Kenneth Galbraith
My father, my mother were sharecroppers, if you know what that means. They were people that lived in the country on a cotton farm and this is what we did as us kids grew up. We grew up workin' in the cotton field, pickin' cotton, choppin' cotton, or gardening--hogs, cows, chickens, and all this kind of carryin' on. But it was a good life, growin' up in the country, it was one that I enjoyed, one that I always remember and refer to. In a lot of ways I miss that. But we was a poor family. We was a family that, you know, my father and mother, they didn't have nothin', but they always said, "Money is not everything. What's really's important if a family has love. Where there is love, there's richness," and I always felt very rich because we had a family of love. And even right today, without my mother and father, I have a family here with my daughter, my son in-law, my two grandkids--now I got a brand new great grand-baby in the family--and, I mean, it's plenty love. We still don't have nothing, we still poor, but we loves each other and we have each other to embrace. And I feel very proud of that, because there's a lot of people that I meet out here on the road…
I talk to people. People come up and talk to me. I was down in Charlotte, North Carolina just a week ago, and this lady came up to me and she say, "Could you sing a song for me?" she say, "And I don't know what to tell you to sing." She say, "I just know that I'm very depressed." She say, "I don't have nobody." She say, "I don't think it's nobody in the world really loves me or care about me." She say, "So if you could just find a song that might would help me," she say, "I would appreciate it." So I did this song, "I'd rather Go Blind." When I finished, she came over to me and she was cryin'. Now, I didn't know what to sing. I was gonna sing "I'd Rather Go Blind" anyway; even if she hadn't said nothin' to me, I was gonna do this song. She came over to me and the lady was cryin' and she say, "That song that you sung, it fitted my predicament," she say, "and it really touched my heart." She say, "How did you know that's what I wanted you to sing?" And I told her, I said, "I didn't know what you wanted me to sing, but every song that I do, I try to do something that will reach out to someone, touch someone, because this is how I feel, and this is how I want it to be."
In other words, my career, my singin', a lot of people ask me, "What is the blues? What does your music mean to you?" To me, my music is like a therapy. My music is healin', you know? It's healin', it's therapy, it's encouragement. I try to sing the type of songs that make people happy. I try to sing a song that's gonna touch somebody, to make them look up, pep up, feel good about themselves, encourage them--have a lyric that will encourage them in some way or another--and that's what this song did to this lady. And I was so touched by what she said, how I made her feel, until I almost had tears in my eyes, because I feel good when I feel like I have did somethin' to help somebody--if it's no more than make them feel happy or feel wanted, or feel loved, or feel that somebody, somewhere, really care for them. And these are the type of things that keep me going strong, keep me influenced with my fans and with younger people and older people.
I'D RATHER GO BLIND
Something told me it was over
When I saw you and her talkin'
Something deep down in my soul said, 'Cry, girl'
When I saw you and that girl walkin' around
Whoo, I would rather, I would rather go blind, boy
Then to see you walk away from me, child, no
Whoo, so you see, I love you so much
That I don't wanna watch you leave me, baby
Most of all, I just don't, I just don't wanna be free, no
Whoo, whoo, I was just, I was just, I was just
Sittin here thinkin', of your kiss and your warm embrace, yeah
When the reflection in the glass that I held to my lips now, baby
Revealed the tears that was on my face, yeah
Whoo and baby, baby, I'd rather, I'd rather be blind, boy
Then to see you walk away, see you walk away from me, yeah
Whoo, baby, baby, baby, I'd rather be blind…
— Ellington Jordan, Billy Foster
"THE IDEA that the poor should have leisure has always been shocking to the rich. In the early nineteenth century, fifteen hours was the ordinary day's work for a man; children sometimes did as much, and very commonly did twelve hours a day. When meddlesome busybodies suggested that perhaps these hours were rather long, they were told that work kept adults from drink and children from mischief.
When I was a child, shortly after urban working men had acquired the vote, certain public holidays were established by law, to the great indignation of the upper classes. I remember hearing an old Duchess say: 'What do the poor want with holidays? They ought to work.' People nowadays are less frank, but the sentiment persists, and is the source of much of our economic confusion."
— Bertrand Russell, ‘In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays’ (1935)
In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays is a 1935 collection of essays by the philosopher Bertrand Russell. The collection includes essays on the subjects of sociology, philosophy and economics. In the eponymous essay, Russell argues that if labour was equitably shared out amongst everyone, resulting in shorter work days, unemployment would decrease and human happiness would increase due to the increase in leisure time, further resulting in increased involvement in the arts and sciences.
DEMOCRACY IS AS FRAGILE NOW AS IT WAS DURING MY FATHER’S TIME IN WEIMAR GERMANY
by Patrick Cockburn
In Berlin in 1927, my father Claud Cockburn experienced a peculiarly depressing Christmas day when he shared his dinner with a dog. I was thinking about this last week as an antidote to gloom over the advance of the Omicron variant and the prospect of further restrictions on the way. Irritating complications hindering my family’s Christmas plans appeared trivial by comparison.
After leaving university, Claud had won a travelling fellowship from Queen’s College, Oxford, which he believed would give him just enough money, when supplemented by meagre journalistic earnings, to live in Berlin for a couple of years. But as Christmas approached at the end of the first year, he realised that he had miscalculated and, moreover, he had to feed not only himself but a dog left in his care by his girlfriend Berta who had gone to Vienna for the holiday period.
“It was a horrible Christmas for the dog,” Claud wrote later in his memoir In Time of Trouble, “because just at that time I had run entirely out of money and was living chiefly on expectations of a cheque from the United States that never came. To begin with, the dog fed fairly well because the butcher round the corner always had a pile of scraps – offal, bacon rind and the like – which he gave me free when I bought meat for myself.”
But on Christmas Eve, when everybody Claud knew had left town for the holiday, he found distressingly that he had only just enough money to buy a couple of drinks and some tobacco.
“Feeling very low mentally and morally, I went round to the butcher and told him that I myself was, of course, invited to go to eat my Christmas dinner with friends and therefore did not wish to buy anything for myself but was anxious that the dog should have a particularly good Christmas dinner. The kindly butcher made up an unusually large and nasty-looking parcel of scraps, which I took home and cooked.”
The dog watched the preparation of his Christmas meal with satisfaction. But the next day at noon, when he saw Claud carefully dividing the mess into equal portions and putting one half of it on his own plate, his disappointment and indignation knew no bounds. “At first, he watched me with an expression of sheer incredulity,” wrote Claud. “Then when he saw me actually digging my fork into that portion of his dinner which I had reserved for myself, he got up on his hind legs, with his forepaws on the table, and threw back his head howling in astonishment and despair.”
My father was good at telling funny stories about his frequent bouts of impoverishment as a young man in Germany and France in the 1920s. They served to raise his spirits at the time, as they did mine in less dire circumstances a century later.
But there is another far more menacing parallel between Weimar Germany, when my father was living there, and the state of Britain and America today. The comparison has often been made in the past, using the 15 troubled years of the Weimar Republic between 1918 and 1933 as a shorthand to suggest that a democracy is fragile and failing, and at risk of being replaced by authoritarian rule.
In Britain, a shambolic government stumbles as it vainly seeks to cope with crises which are partly of its own making. Boris Johnson is a symptom as well as a cause of a deeper rot in the British state. His inadequacy as prime minister was long concealed by two fallacies: these were that he had first “got Brexit done” and had then brought Covid-19 under control through mass vaccination. Only in the past few months has it become clear to the public that neither claim is true and that the Johnson government, mired in scandal and indecision, does not know how to deal with them.
Britain may resemble Weimar in terms of government incapacity and division, but it is in America that the stench of Weimar has become overwhelming. The great weakness of German democracy in the 1920s was that several political parties, many state institutions and a large portion of the public felt no loyalty to the republic, or believed in its legitimacy, or were prepared to defend it.
Much the same toxic pattern is now visible in the United States where democracy is facing a potentially terminal crisis, the gravity of which is frequently underestimated by non-Americans. What is happening does not fit in with their image of the US, whose divisions they usually underestimate. Donald Trump came closer than they – and many Americans – realise to reversing a free presidential election last year. Since then, the Trump-controlled Republican Party has been taking over the electoral apparatus in state after state to make sure they do not lose again in 2024. The mid-term elections in 2022 – when district boundaries will be gerrymandered in favour of the Republicans – will give them greater control of state legislatures and the appointment of electoral officials who oversee the counting of votes. This will help them to win swing states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona which they lost in 2020.
A conservative majority in the Supreme Court may well throw the final decision on electoral matters to the states, who will choose the winners pretty well regardless of the true popular vote. By rejecting the well-authenticated presidential election results, the Republicans are already following in the footsteps of authoritarian regimes and populist demagogues displacing democracy elsewhere in the world. Not even the founders of the Confederacy contested the validity of the vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860, even though his election was the reason for their secession from the Union.
Another ominous similarity between America and Weimar is the legitimisation of political violence by Trump and his supporters, whose fanaticism is often fuelled by fear that they are being displaced by non-whites. “You’re the people who built this nation,” Trump told a rally, some of whom went on to storm the Capitol on 6 January this year. “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country any more.”
As was shown repeatedly during his presidency, there is nothing rhetorical about Trump’s call to arms. America is more divided than at any time since the Civil War, with little sign that President Biden is capable of leading a counter-attack in defence of democracy. His appeals to national unity sound limp and disengaged from the reality of the threat. This is despite the fact that he may go down in history as the last freely elected president of the United States.
Claud returned to Berlin in January 1933 when he witnessed the final days of the Weimar Republic. He found that “Storm Troopers were slashing and smashing up and down the Kurfuerstendamm [the main avenue in the city centre], and there were beatings and unequal battles in the city streets”. He reflected that he was just the sort of anti-Nazi whom these same Storm Troopers might like to beat to death, and took the train to Vienna 24 hours before Hitler became Chancellor.
(Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso).)
MEDICAL CARE IN AMERICA, A DISCUSSION (Coast Listserve)
Commenter 1: Dr. Fraad analyzes how a for-profit healthcare system has led to the death and drug overdose epidemic in the U.S. She names the 5 forces that contribute to this and what we need to do to stop capitalism for the health of everyone.
"We have to stop capitalism particularly in health care, where it's literally killing people but also in its push for profit: outsourcing and dispossessing people to the point where they're hopeless and look for drugs to ease the pain." — Dr. Fraad
Marie Tobias: The Profit motive is incredibly powerful. There are thousands of places where the exchange by people of goods and services in the name of profit make perfect sense and are perfectly appropriate. Vital services are not among these places. When people's lives hang in the balance, there is no exchange, the seller simply has the buyer by the throat and can extort almost anything.
Commenter 2: Marie, Remember when I said my wife's best friend's father was a billionaire?
Do you know how he became a billionaire ?
He was the VP for Sigma Health and decided he could do better.
He got on the phone and in 24 hours raised $11 million with only his OWN NAME as collateral.
He used it to start an HMO and in 5 years turned that initial $11 million into $250 million and today, over a billion.
Yes. HMO's, which won't pay to have an infected leg treated, but will pay for its cheaper amputation.
I had a long talk with him about the future of healthcare, one of my reasons to exit the healthcare field. The offer from HCA Columbia for $21k/yr was the final straw for my decision to leave and salvage my education in medical electronics into the computer field. Hewlett Packard paid me almost triple over any salary I had received working in the healthcare industry
Marie Tobias: One of my very best friends was a Doctor working for Kaiser Permanente. When it became indelibly clear to her that the perfect Kaiser Patient, avoided all medical service until their late 50s then died of a massive heart attack or end stage cancer from pure neglect and a system that promoted massive profits on the poor care of it's patients, she had to leave, she literally couldn't honor the Hippocratic Oath and serve in their HMO.
Every day, people step up and buck the system, but it is geared to profit, the boards are picked to serve the stockpayer, and the stock payers reward the dirty rotten bastard who gets them the biggest return on their investments, and if that means lawlessness, skullduggery, killing people, and even burning down Democracy, sobeit. We are in the endgame. Democracy will either shake off the threat of global Oligarchy or succumb to it. Which is not yet certain. But I know what I'll be fighting for with my last breath.
Commenter 2: EVERY interview I had at a hospital started with the same opening line.
"Our hospital doesn't have any money", followed by a sob story about how they could only pay me a poverty wage, but they'd make me the Director !, meaning by giving me a supervision and management title, they wouldn't have to pay me overtime on the poverty salary.
My last offer was for $63k/yr as a radiology imaging engineer in San Francisco. Yes, San Francisco, where $110k/yr is considered lower middle class and is the MINIMUM salary you need to afford an apartment and car. I told them that maybe if they weren't treating uninsured illegals that their hospital may be fiscally solvent and I wasn't living in a tent on the sidewalk to see that Mrs. Lopez and her 5 god blessed children receive medical care. I would LITERALLY walk over the bodies of Mrs. Lopez's children before I worked in SF for $63k/yr.
The offer for the same position offered to me by HCA Columbia for $21k/yr in Miami cemented my decision to leave the medical field. Yes, HCA Columbia, owned by former Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, whose company was fined $1.46 BILLION for Medicare fraud, and I was to work for a YEAR what Rick Scott made in an HOUR because , "It would look real good on your resume that you worked for US ! " and that "It's cheaper to live in Miami".
So when I got a job as a fracker paying $130k/yr with a company vehicle and a company paid motel room with kitchenette, I got lectures from the California "progressives" that I shouldn't have worked for the evil fracking corporations but return to health care as it would "make me feel good about myself."
These lectures were always received from California educated entitlement "progressives" who lived on some sort of unearned income.
Let the whole system collapse. I owe it NOTHING and will not live in poverty to "help others."
Marie Tobias: This is exactly what I was talking about, if you think a hospital charging insured patients $300 for a $2 spinal tap wasn't just solvent but making insane money, think again. I had 2 doctor friends working Bay area ERs, and in spite of the endless gang banging and collateral damage, the folks who owned the hospital were doing just fine when you add in local and state subsidies.
It was and is a scam. Rape the employees, rape the patients, rape the taxpayers and cakewalk to the bank...
We fix the system by making it a public service operating under strict guidelines. In fact we establish several public corporations, run like businesses, but not for profit but the public good. Every quarter the CEO generates a report and every tax payer is a shareholder and gets the report. Services that are essential to the health and function of the society must have a baseline resource that ensures every citizen receives the basic necessary resources to thrive and contribute to society. Health and WellBeing. Education. Basic Nutrition and Food Quality. Financial and Economic Health. Defense, Security, Law Enforcement, and Home Protection. Civil Rights. Government Integrity and Accountability. Religious Protection. Commerce Protection. Public Information Protection. Housing.
What we want to avoid is making the movie Elysium into a reality. And that's kind of where we're heading.
THREE LETTERPRESS PRINTERS WALK INTO A SHED: The Renegade Letterpress Work of Felicia Rice, Theresa Whitehill, Zida Borcich
A Definition of Letterpress: A form of relief printing that traditionally uses hand-set or machine-set metal type. Images are also printed from raised surfaces, such as linoleum and wood blocks, or wood and metal plates. The raised surfaces are inked and then pressed into the paper, resulting in a palpable three-dimensional texture in the sheet.
Partners Gallery presents an exhibit of three guest artists taking place at the gallery in the historic Beacon Building in Mendocino in January and February 2022. The books, broadsides, and job work on display of these letterpress artists reside in the realm of book arts—a genre that encompasses all things BOOK. Each artist explores a different approach to letterpress, a medium born in the 1450s and in danger of extinction when these artists entered the field almost 50 years ago.
Felicia Rice’s collaborative artists’ books, Theresa Whitehill’s letterpress poetry broadsides, and Zida Borcich’s commercial job work embody a love of craft, a dedication to art, and a passion for communicating. As renegades, their work reflects perspectives on the radical technical, cultural, and political shifts of the 20th and 21st centuries.
About this Collaboration Between Three Letterpress Artists
Felicia Rice lost her home, her entire life’s work (over 40 years of fine press publishing), and all of her irreplaceable letterpress equipment in the Santa Cruz Mountain fires in 2020. When Felicia relocated to the Rice family home in Mendocino, in which she planned to resume printing in a tiny shed on the property, Theresa Whitehill and Zida Borcich showed up to welcome Felicia back to the community, celebrate her work, mourn her loss, and support her literal rising from the ashes. These three women are all connected to each other through the art of letterpress. This is an exhibit in triptych about an art form, about resilience, about love of a rare craft, about climate change and sorrow and friendship and beauty and stamina.
This exhibit kicks off BAM! Book Arts Mendocino! —a concurrent festival of book arts on the Mendocino coast throughout January and February 2022. Full listings at www.tinyurl.com/BAM-2022
Show dates: January 6–March 6, 2022
Second Saturday Receptions:
- Saturday, January 8, 5–7 pm: Meet the Artists
- Saturday, February 12, 4:30–5 pm: Talk by Peter Koch, CODEX Foundation
- Saturday, February 12, 5–7 pm: Meet the Artists
Partners Gallery is located in the former Beacon Building at 45062 Ukiah Street, Mendocino. It is open Thursdays-Mondays, 11am-5pm. For more information, call 707-962-0233 or visit www.partnersgallery.com.
Felicia Rice: https://movingpartspress.com/
Zida Borcich: https://studiozmendocino.wordpress.com/
Theresa Whitehill: https://theresawhitehill.com/
BAM! Book Arts Mendocino!: https://tinyurl.com/BAM-2022
Codex Foundation: https://www.codexfoundation.org/
THE LATEST FROM DISAFFECTED COP, TRENT JAMES
GIVE LOW-POWER RADIO A HAND UP
Hi. Marco here.
Unlike high-power noncommercial so-called public radio stations, low-power ones like KNYO-LP get nothing for free from the government, no annual six-figure CPB grants of treasure, no priceless permission to reach farther than a few short miles in any direction.
And unlike high-power commercial radio stations, low-power ones like KNYO-LP are not permitted to sell advertising. We can't simply accept money in exchange for saying nice things about a business or service and never permitting anything to be even implied on the air against them, much less said, however true. For if advertising were allowed, it might cut a microscopic amount out of the money flow of established high-power stations, and the broadcasting industry effectively controlled the FCC, rather than the other way around, to write this into the law that allowed low-power stations in the first place.
So a low-power radio station is a special kind of underdog. Radio is pretty cheap to do, but it's not free; there's rent (it's mostly rent) and water and electricity and music publishers' fees, and so on. I'm asking you to help out your local low-power station with a year-end donation of some money to keep operating.
*Go to https://knyo.org and poke the big red heart, think about what it would make you feel best to give, and do it.
I'm grateful that the people who run KNYO let me do my show there. I've been there for nine years now, after almost 15 years at KMFB, which is no more, as you know, and four or five years, on and off, on KMEC, which also is no more. I don't mind not being paid to prepare all week for, and then put on, my eight-hour all-night show every Friday night, because at KNYO no-one, not even the manager, is being paid. Everyone is there purely for capital-R Radio. If it's no trouble for you to help the station, please help, preferably with money, see above*. If you'd like to do a show on KNYO, you can, either from the studio on Franklin Street or, with remarkably cheap equipment, from anywhere you have reliable internet service. It's easy and fun. Email email@example.com (Bob Young) and start the ball rolling. Maybe you want to play your niche record collection. Maybe you have an idea to do something with radio that no-one's ever done before. The medium's possibilities certainly have not been exhausted. There is no radio station anywhere where the radioperson is more free to fly.
Have a happy new year. Send me what you write on any subject and I'll read it on the radio Friday night. And don't forget to smile with your bottom teeth.