Mild Weather | 148 New Cases | Another Death | New Fence | Interim CEO | Sun Rays | Museum Curator | Schoolkids 1923 | Ed Notes | Camp Cook | Craigmire | Dirty Jobs | No Sympathy | Truth Mouth | PO Trouble | Johnson Sisters | Sheriff Quarantined | Chilly Wolf | Monarch Mural | Walmart Greeter | Mo Report | Roy Baldecchi | Parallel County | Elevator Desks | Slow Down | Socialism Scary | Weed Webinars | Yesterday's Catch | Israeli Crime | Worthless Signs | Pandemic Censorship | Octopus | Not Over | PA Beautification | Saving Baseball | Boycott Bayer | Senate Control | Blank Faces | NATO Responsible | Indian Executioner | Tat Crime
RIDGING AND LIGHT VARIABLE WINDS this morning have kept stratus to a minimum. Patchy fog could form in low lying areas but expect mostly clear conditions before late morning with high clouds approaching from the South. Another mild weather day for Northwestern California. (NWS)
148 NEW COVID CASES and another death reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
ANOTHER COVID DEATH IN MENDO: #114
January 27, 2022 — A Mendocino County resident recently passed away with COVID-19. Our thoughts are with their family and friends.
Death #114: 80 year-old man from the North Coast area; vaccinated with comorbidities.
Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to consider the best ways to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. When in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 booster to improve immunity. Boosters are available for everyone age 12 and older. If you have questions about boosters or vaccines in general, speak with your doctor, or call Public Health at 707-472-2759. To find the nearest vaccine clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health website at: www.mendocinocounty.org/covidvaccine
BEST NEW BOONVILLE FENCE, EVER!
Appointment of Assistant Chief Executive Officer Darcie Antle as Mendocino County’s Interim Chief Executive Officer
After serving as Chief Executive Officer for the past 12 years, Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo will be stepping down as she retires on March 19, 2022. With Ms. Angelo’s retirement, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, to appoint Assistant CEO Darcie Antle as Interim CEO, effective March 20, 2022.
Ms. Antle has served as Assistant Chief Executive Officer for Mendocino County since May 30, 2021. Previously, Ms. Antle served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer from 2017 to 2021, is also currently the Mendocino County Disaster Recovery Finance Director, and has worked to create a Fiscal Unit within the Executive Office to support departments and divisions with financial reporting and budgeting.
Outgoing CEO Carmel Angelo stated, “Mendocino County experienced multiple disasters including wildfires and the pandemic from 2017 on. Ms. Antle has been instrumental in response and recovery efforts. Mendocino is fortunate to have Ms. Antle at the helm.”
Prior to onboarding with the County of Mendocino, Ms. Antle served as the Regional Director of Operations for the Northern California Network of Adventist Health and the California Medical Group where she managed the revenue cycle and oversaw strategic operations for physician groups across Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma counties. In addition to experience, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science Degree in Health Care Services from St. Mary’s College (MS, HSA).
Antle has been an instructor for both Mendocino College and Mendocino County Office of Education. Antle is an active member of the community and has served on numerous boards and commissions, and is a past president of the Rotary Club of South Ukiah.
Mendocino Board of Supervisors Chair, Ted Williams, stated, “I would like to take a moment on behalf of the Board to thank CEO Carmel Angelo for her years of dedicated service and, in particular, the honesty and integrity that she has brought to her work for the County. Her shoes will be hard to fill, but we're very glad that she has left us with someone as talented and competent as Darcie Antle to handle things during this time of transition. Based on both our own experience and the fact that she learned under Carmel, we know that County finances are in good hands.”
“I would like to express my appreciation to CEO Angelo for her years of public service. I have had the opportunity to work closely with her since the 2017 wildfire disaster. Her energy and commitment to the County are to be admired. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve Mendocino County at a higher public servant level. I look forward to working closer with the Board of Supervisors and the Department Heads.” Ms. Antle stated regarding her appointment.
Recruiting for Museum Curator. Apply by February 15, 2022.
The Museum Curator performs professional curator services in support of the County Museum, including: designing and coordinating various exhibits; developing marketing materials; managing artifact donations and conservation; developing and maintaining budgets related to exhibits and projects; collecting, documenting and preserving donated items and supervising museum staff. Performs other duties as assigned.
Salary: $28.48 - $34.62 Hourly / $2,278.40 – $2,769.60 Biweekly
For more information and to apply: governmentjobs.com/careers/mendocinoca
A YOUNG MAN committed an act of random kindness on me Thursday morning at Mosswood Market by paying for my breakfast. I can think of several hundred more deserving Boonville people, and I hope my ancient, rheumy eyes expressed my thanks to him, my radiant smile being concealed by a covid mask. If there's a logic to random beneficence am I now, for karma's sake, committed to commiting my own random act of kindness? Will advice for Craig Stehr do?
CRAIG STEHR seems increasingly desperate to leave Garberville where he's been staying with Earth First! archivist, Andy Caffrey. Craig's been tuned in to the ava for many years, and certainly not the first person to seek and perhaps even find comfort in our welcoming pages. I have a faint memory of meeting the man years ago at the Anarchist Book Fair in San Francisco. A presentable dude amid the slovens at that crowded event, I remember thinking, "This guy doesn't look nuts," but crazies dress normal as a clinically delusional local once wrote. I was aware of Craig from his odd letters-to-the-editor, and had assumed, correctly, that he was only tenuously tethered to reality. Craig says he has a social security income, which ought to get him a permanent berth at one of Ukiah's fleabags, the aptly named Voll Motel, for instance, where he's stayed before. But rather than just go there, Craig, a Catholic gone terribly astray into the American nut cult version of Hinduism, apparently wants divine intervention to get him there. All he needs is a room, and if he can get himself to Ukiah there's helping professionals galore, 31 agencies of them, to flesh out his government income. The guy's no kid. I think he's about 70, not an age one wants to be unmoored in, as he says, "post-modern America." If you can hear this, Craig, it's Uncle Bruce at the ava urging you to return to the true church you were raised in, return to the inclusive embrace of the Church of Rome and the true Christains of the Catholic Worker who, I believe, still maintain a farm in the Greater Bay Area where you would certainly be welcome. Er, check that — everyone has to work and you seem labor-averse, but it's a thought. Well, hell, can't say I didn't try.
JUST IN from the AV Senior Center: And the winner is… local guy Justin Rhoades! CONGRATULATIONS, and thank you to everyone who purchased tickets. We’ll be having another great raffle again soon! Enjoy your four primo tickets to the Warriors game, Justin.
THE EERILY sunny, dry days roll on, daily reminders the drought continues, and the summer of '22 promises fires and dry wells.
SPORTS TALK. My fave player is Niner's safety, Jimmie Ward. I wish the telecasts focused more on the defensive backs, but the only time you see them is on passes, especially long ones where they get beat. But Ward seldom gets fooled, and he's a genius at reading offenses. The punt he blocked in Green Bay was no fluke. Ward saw an opening and he came flying in to turn the game for the Niners. I'm picking the Niners by a touchdown on Sunday. Jimmie will stifle the blonde beast, Cooper Kupp.
FORT BRAGG gets it done! FB has built truly affordable housing before, most notably at Mora Village. And now the town boasts The Plateau, 79 units built by an Arcata outfit and, I think, largely grant-funded. Mendo, County of? Nada. Nothing but talk, talk, talk.
CHUCK DUNBAR: “Mark Scaramella has it right. The praise heaped on Carmel Angelo by the BOS members is disgusting, but not unexpected. If they really called it straight and recounted even some of the badly mishandled issues on her watch, they’d be criticizing themselves for letting her go on year after year in her crudely dictatorial ways. It’s disheartening and does not speak well for our future.”
PRANAMS ALL ROUND!
Enlightenment in the End Times
Pranams to everybody in postmodern America,
I am sitting here looking out of the front window of the Local Flavors coffee shop in Garberville, California on a sunny winter day. Identified with the light of lights always shining in the heart chakra, knowing that I am not the body nor the mind, I read the North Coast Journal article about the struggling Southern Humboldt county economy. The cannabis industry, which is failing due to a number of factors, is being squeezed for the last possible tax dollars to keep the county from making drastic cuts.
Meanwhile, I wish to leave here and go elsewhere, in order to seriously continue participating in our divine anarchistic response to this crazy disaster of a postmodern civilization. I wish to do this particularly in view of the implosion of the global ecology, beginning with the melting out of the Antarctic ice sheets.
Can Anybody Pick Me Up In Garberville, Ca Or Offer Me Community Space If I Arrive On A Bus Or Plane, Or Will You Please Just Donate Money?
I am offering my sincere ongoing participation, as an alternative to rotting in the quagmire of samsara! Peaceout.
Craig Louis Stehr
Telephone Messages: (213) 842-3082
A READER WRITES: I have no sympathy for Craig Stehr. According to your AVA archive he has reported that he has received at least two sizable inheritances, one of unspecified amount from his Catholic Priest Uncle in 2000, and another in 2014 for $150,000 after which he told AVA contributor Steve Heilig in 2015 that he had $150k in the Mechanics Bank in San Francisco. What did he do with that money? Instead of investing in a modest home somewhere where house prices are affordable, or even just leaving it in the Mechanic’s Bank and drawing it out frugally like the monk he wants us to think he is, he proceeded to blow it on a relatively luxurious (for him) vacation to Hawaii from where he sent his usual navel-gazing letters about how he had finally been “self-realized” there with the filthy lucre he inherited. Now he wants people to donate to him because he’s so enlightened and clutters up your pages with his unreadable religious BS? (Doctrinaire religious tracts of any kind have no place in the AVA or any other secular newspaper for the general public.) I have no first hand knowledge of it, but James Marmon says Stehr has a drinking problem too. Stehr in his many notes to the AVA has not denied that. So, sorry, Craig, no money from me.
PS. From your archive in December of 2018:
MIND WATCHING ON WAIKIKI
Warmest spiritual greetings to everyone, We have just concluded the Saturday evening BBQ at the Plumeria alternative hostel in Honolulu, with winter visitors arriving steadily, plus tonight's comfortably cool Pacific trade winds. Over at Waikiki Beach there are hula dancers performing on a stage next to a huge decorated Christmas tree with a crown of native flowers at the top, ukulele players at the base, and an international crowd singing the choruses in Hawaiian.
I am in my room with my onyx beads watching the mind. I am sitting on the bed watching thoughts arise and dissipate. And that's all! … I will henceforth exclusively watch the mind, witnessing thoughts as they arise and dissipate.Craig Louis Stehr, Honolulu, Hawaii
Craig Stehr has sat on his bed (he seems to sit a lot) now he has to sleep in it. Too bad he has no bed because he blew it on a multi-year Hawaiian mind-watch. He has no one to blame but himself.
THE PHILO POST OFFICE, an on-line comment:
What is up with the Philo Post Office? I went to renew our no charge business PO Box and because I don't have a Philo address on my driver’s license the guy won't let us renew and wants us to pay even though they don't deliver mail to our business. I explained to him that I just work there and am on the account as the contact and he says it doesn't matter, I need to live in Philo to renew the PO Box for the business I work for and don't even own. He then asked me if anyone who works there has a Philo address that he can use, which makes no sense, I'm the main contact and am the only person who has permission to renew the box. I've been renewing this PO box for 13 years with no issues. Has anyone else had this issue?
MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF MATT KENDALL IS HOME QUARANTINING AFTER TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall is quarantining at his home the rest of the week after testing positive for COVID-19, he told us today over the phone. Staying busy on Zoom meetings, Sheriff Kendall said his energy is good, and his biggest symptoms were a scratchy throat and a positive COVID test. Speaking to why he wanted to publicly address his COVID-19 positive test, Sheriff Kendall said, “I’m a public official, I don’t let there be a vacuum of information. People deserve to know why I’m out for a week. This is not something to be ashamed of.”...
MONARCH MURAL PROPOSED FOR PLAZA - Artist Danza Davis recently completed a mural at Ukiah High
by Justine Frederiksen
As many communities across California celebrate a large boost in the numbers of Monarch butterflies that returned to their winter homes recently, Ukiah may soon celebrate a small gathering of this endangered species making the city’s plaza their permanent home.
“This is special because it is in such a public setting in downtown Ukiah,” said artist Danza Davis, a Mendocino County native who lives in Potter Valley, referring to the mural she designed that depicts a large Monarch butterfly, caterpillar and cocoon, which may soon be painted on a blank wall in the Alex R. Thomas Jr. Plaza downtown.
The project began last year after former Ukiah Mayor Juan Orozco joined many others across the country in a pledge to “raise awareness and encourage preservation of the Monarch Butterfly.” After the Ukiah City Council adopted the Mayors Monarch Pledge, city staff report that “the Mendocino Arts Council raised the funding for the mural and formed a selection committee to consider all submissions,” with the mural suggested by Davis chosen to be presented to the city.
“The message of this mural is particularly resonant with me,” Davis said. “My goal with my artwork is to share a love of science and nature. This mural depicts narrow leaf milkweed, likely the most important milkweed species for Monarchs in California, and the eradication of milkweed is one of the main reasons for the plummeting number of Monarchs. Plants and animals have evolved complex relationships, and Monarchs have become a prime example of how important it is to make space for native species in our landscapes.”
Last summer, Davis worked with Ukiah High School students to complete a mural at the campus. See more of her work on Instagram @danzadavis.
The next step for the plaza mural is for it to go before the city’s Design Review Board, which will consider whether to recommend the project to the Ukiah Planning Commission.
The DRB will meet virtually on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 3 p.m. Watch and attend at this Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/99290711966 Or call Toll-free: 877 853 524; meeting ID: 992 9071 1966; Passcode: 406876.
Also at the Thursday meeting, the DRB is expected to:
• Review “a Major Use Permit to allow phased development of 1117 Commerce Drive,” with Phase 1 facilitating “construction of a 7,733 square-foot concrete masonry structure for the repair, maintenance, cleaning, and detailing of automobiles exclusively associated with Fowler Automotive.”
• Review “a Major Use and Site Development Permit to allow for construction of an addition to an existing Dental Office Building at 772 South Dora Street.
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN (From her weekly Update):
I did three rounds of homeless trash pick up from the Brush Street Triangle. I’m also getting a lot more interest from the community. If you’d like to help please reach out to me. My contact info is below.
Over the weekend I spent time studying the agenda and on Saturday afternoon I went to Todd Grove Park to meet with a couple of constituents about some challenges that they are having with a County department. These types of conversations give me opportunities to think about how we can become more transparent and proactive as an agency.
The NCRA transition to the Great Redwood Trail Agency will open up more opportunities for access, environmental repair and fish access through collaboration. It’s a very exciting project to be a part of.
5c) Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Chief Executive Officer or County Administrative Officer Model for the County of Mendocino (Sponsors: Supervisor Mulheren and Supervisor Gjerde) Recommended Action: Approve Chief Executive Officer or County Administrator Officer Model for the County of Mendocino. CEO Ordinance - draft 1.22 CAO Ordinance Org Chart 2021_1 v2 1-24-22 Schafer Correspondence Attachments:
No action, to be brought back at a meeting in February so Supervisors McGourty and Haschak have more time to review the item and bring forward their thoughts.
5d) Supervisors’ Reports Regarding Board Special Assignments, Standing and Ad Hoc Committee Meetings, and Other Items of General Interest
Gjerde report - met with Treasurer/Auditor departments and discussed vacancy issues and workload (recommend that budget ad hoc works with them on this), and challenges with the software system (recommends the IT ad hoc works with them on that issue)
* * *
Carmel has brought millions of dollars in to the County and built statewide relationships that are immeasurable. I hope that in her final weeks as the CEO the community and those within the agency will take some time to wish her well and thank her for her accomplishments.
SAME-SAME. BETSY CAWN: In Lake County, the Chief Administrative Officer has wielded her authority deftly since stepping into the position after heading the county’s Department of Social Services for decades and proving herself to be a master of the county’s mystifying budget process and machieavellian management tactics, filling the vacuum left behind by the outgoing incompetent CAO (Perry) who fell on his sword after bungling the administration of the county’s OES between 2012 and 2015. The current CAO has been conducting the orchestration of county operations under various department heads whose independent authority must capitulate to her authority; on more than one occasion the job of “Interim Director” has been held by her after forcing the departure of the former incumbent.
Empire building, palace intrigue, and obfuscation of decision-making processes have become the hallmarks of the County administration using a flock of new “ad hoc” committees with no accountability to the public, typically yielding fiats and edicts of compliance (“or else”) with abruptly announced necessities such as the hiring of a highly specialized consulting firm to “re-organize” the Community Development Department or separating the Department of Water Resources from the Department of Public Works, after adulterating the Department of Public Health (pushing out a very competent director) and taking direct control of the formerly separate Human Resources department.
Making good use of the California State Association of Counties “leadership institute” for aligning the fealty of “at will” department heads that remain (several key individuals retired after the 2016 regime change), removal of easy access to public information safeguards the fiscal fiefdom draped in civility and superficial congeniality. Individual elected officials with their own “agendas” and huge pocketbooks of discretionary spending allowances ($100K/district) appear to have long leashes, if not actual autonomy, and blithely announce their busy calendars at each regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
But the paucity of reporting on results of their heralded busy-work leaves the public wondering what, in fact, is being done other than attending meetings in venues most often not accessible to the mere tax payers and voters allegedly being “served.”
Cock-ups like the commercial cannabis licensing (with heavy-handed taxation), glorifying the county’s long-standing rejection of precautionary principles, accompanied by the frustrations of stalwart law enforcement agencies (thanks to Prop. 40, among many communal errors of the Newsom era), leave us at the mercy of rhetorical phantasms such as our “Vision 2028” and the insistence on “rebranding” the county.
Soon enough our beknighted communities, ravaged by social and economic ills will be “revitalized” — again — by renewed “enforcement” of codes and regulations, and auctioning off of tax defaulted properties (thousands of them) abandoned by private and public property owners. And all those failed pot operations will leave behind them further landscape-scale modifications that will become new environmental hazards unremediated by restoration activities.
Facing the multiple concurrent disasters of the day and unmitigated hazards (now multiplied by massive forest devastation and hugely increased wildfire perils) with autocratic disregard and deliberate indifference, every action guarded by procedural compliance with County Counsel’s advice, to achieve the latest incarnation of government wishful thinking — our new “Blue Zones” program of super healthy “life styles” — while the privileged in-group gambols on the playing fields of equestrian parks, golf courses, and waterfront promenades, is folly enough. But to call the psychodrama of county administration “management” reveals the absence of coherence in the remains of the day.
SLOW THE DAMN CARS DOWN, CITY OF UKIAH!
25 mph on every street. More police that actually ticket speeders! Speed cameras on north and south State street. Car culture is out of control in Ukiah and throughout the U.S. T.V. ads encourage speed and unlawful behavior. Ukiah City Council, get some political will and make the city safe for pedestrians, cyclists and take on Climate Change at the same time. BTW, there's a Climate Emergency. (L.S.)
DON’T FORGET YOUR DOOBIES!
Upcoming Cannabis Program Webinars
The County of Mendocino Cannabis Program will be hosting three webinars in the month of February. Please save the dates and watch for our upcoming emails with registration links and details for the following dates:
February 9, 2022 - County of Mendocino Cannabis Program Update
February 16, 2022 - Local Equity Entrepreneur Program Update
February 23, 2022 - Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program Update
Please note that all above referenced webinars will require registration and will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (PST).
Additionally, if you know of anyone who may not currently be on our Canna Note distribution list please share the following information with them:
To receive updates and information related to the Mendocino Cannabis Program (MCP) please sign up for Canna Notes through the County's e-notification system. To sign up please go to https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/enotification, then select "Canna Notes" under the "News" section, scroll to the bottom of the page and click submit.
Mendocino Cannabis Program Staff
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 27, 2022
RICHARD ASHLINE, Ukiah. Parole violation.
JOAQUINA CASTRO, Vancouver, Washington/Willits. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, harrassing, threatening or obscene phone calls, annoying calls to 911.
ALEXANDRA ELIZARRA-RAZ, Ukiah. DUI, no license.
BENJAMIN GAYSKI JR., Willits. County parole violation, probation revocation.
JASPER LEGGETT-WANT, Covelo. Evasion.
CRYSTAL LOCKHART, Ukiah. Burglary.
SHEILA LOCKHART, Novato/Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
SAMUEL VALENTIN-ONOFRE, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI.
IN THE US THEY TALK about the polarization of society, and lately there have been polls quoted frequently about the significant percentage of society on both left and right who think political violence is justified, and who don’t really look at their political opponents as being fully human. It’s like that in other places as well, for lots of the same reasons, like the manipulation of our minds by the powers-that-be.
In the case of the settler-colonial state of Israel, a significant element of the Jewish population there has been mobilized to commit constant, daily human rights abuses against Palestinian individuals and communities, in their various roles as part of the Israeli military, as state-subsidized settlers, or as “volunteers” in towns and cities across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, burning down fields and destroying people’s homes.
You’ll almost never hear the word used in the US corporate or “public” media, but East Jerusalem, like the West Bank and Gaza, are illegally occupied territories, not recognized by the UN as part of Israel, but as places occupied illegally by the Israeli military, and besieged. The home that was destroyed the other day in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem was done so illegally, by an illegal, occupying power called Israel.
Similar actions carried out by Israeli authorities have very recently led to uprisings of Palestinians throughout the region. At the same time as this home demolition, the UN agency that is tasked with looking after the welfare of the Palestinian refugees has drastically cut their funding for those refugees, in response to their own budget being drastically cut. The suffering of the Palestinians in the camps, already unbearable, appears set to get much, much worse. Combine that with the ongoing Israeli atrocities against Palestinians, and we can be sure there will plenty more news of major unrest coming out of Palestine in 2022.
— David Rovics
THE FOLLY OF PANDEMIC CENSORSHIP
More and more people are forgetting why free speech works
by Matt Taibbi
Earlier this week, in the latest in a series of scolding campaigns, a Britain-based group called the Center for Countering Digital Hate gave a sneak peek at a research report on Substack to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Both outlets came out with their scare pieces this morning. From The Guardian:
A group of vaccine-skeptic writers are generating revenues of at least $2.5m (£1.85m) a year from publishing newsletters for tens of thousands of followers on the online publishing platform Substack, according to new research…
Imran Ahmed, chief executive of CCDH, said companies like Substack were under “no obligation” to amplify vaccine skepticism and make money from it. “They could just say no…”
The Post, citing “some misinformation experts say” — the pandemic version of “people familiar with the matter” — added:
These newer platforms cater to subscribers who seek out specific content that accommodates their viewpoints — potentially making the servicesless responsible for spreading harmful views, some misinformation experts say.
If these stories sound familiar, it’s because this same Center for Countering Digital Hate two years ago tried to pull the same stunt with The Federalist, using NBC to ask Google to crack down on them. Humorously, and typically — this happens a lot with these stories — that effort ended in fiasco. The piece NBC ended up writing boasting of the success of its “Verification Unit” in getting the site demonetized, entitled, “Google bans two websites from its ad platform over protest articles,” turned out to itself be misinformation. The Federalist was never banned, only warned, and the issue was its comments section, not its articles. Google had to issue a statement:
“The Federalist was never demonitized.”
Substack is home to tens of thousands of writers and over a million paying subscribers, quadruple last year’s total of 250,000. The sites range from newsletters for comics enthusiasts to crypto news to recipe ideas. Like the Internet as a whole, it’s basically a catalogue of everything.
Still, panic campaigns in legacy press consistently focus on handfuls of sites, and with impressive dishonesty describe them as representative. I was particularly struck by a recent Mashable article that talked about a supposed “backlash” against Substack’s “growing collection of anti-trans writers,” which seemed to refer to Jesse Singal (who is no such thing) and Graham Linehan and — that’s it. Substack is actually home to more trans writers than any other outlet, but to the Scolding Class, that’s not the point. The company’s real crime is that it refuses to submit to pressure campaigns and strike off Wrongthinkers.
Substack is designed to be difficult to censor. Because content is sent by email, it’s not easy to pressure platforms to zap offending material. It doesn’t depend on advertisers, so you can’t lean on them, either. The only real pressure points are company executives like Hamish McKenzie and Chris Best, who are now regular targets of these ham-fisted campaigns demanding they discipline writers.
The latest presents Substack as a place where, as Mashable put it, “COVID misinformation is allowed to flourish.” The objections mainly center around Joseph Mercola, Alex Berenson, and Robert Malone. There are issues with the specific critiques of each, but those aren’t the point. Every one of these campaigns revolves around the same larger problem: would-be censors misunderstanding the basic calculus of the freedom of speech.
Even in a society with fairly robust protections, as ours once was, the most dangerous misinformation is always, without exception, official.
Whether it’s WMDs or the Gulf of Tonkin fiasco or the missile gap or the red scare or the twenty-year occupation of Afghanistan, the worst real-world disasters always turn out to be driven or enabled by official falsehoods. In the case of Afghanistan (and Iraq, and Vietnam before both), the cycle of war disaster was perpetuated by a sweeping, organized, and intricate system of official lying, about everything from the success of missions to the efficacy of weaponry to the political devotion of supposed allies. The only defense against these most dangerous types of deceptions is an absolutely free press.
People know authorities lie, which is why the more they clamp down, the bigger their trust problem usually becomes. Unfortunately, censors by nature can’t help themselves. Our official liars are always trying to learn from their errors. For instance, film of wounded, suffering, or dead American boys, as well as of the atrocities we committed, not only resulted in pressure to end the Vietnam War, but probably prevented future invasions of countries like Nicaragua, as voters recalled the sickening “quagmire.”
Military officials saw this, and when they finally got to go to war again, they banned the filming of coffins and instituted an embed system that closed off the bulk of adversarial reporting. Of course, that was not enough, because organizations like Wikileaks found ways to sneak out forbidden pictures. So, the powers that be imposed much tougher penalties on whistleblowers going forward. Instead of letting the Daniel Ellsbergs of the world write books and give lectures, the new reality for people like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden is permanent exile or imprisonment. The jailers seem quite proud of this, but the unofficial pseudo-ban on Assange coverage has only added to the impression of a not-free, certainly not trustworthy system of media.
Instead of seeing the root causes of this atmosphere of rapidly declining trust, officials keep pushing for even more sweeping campaigns of control, most recently seeking to make platforms like Google and Twitter arbiters of speech.
I’ve used Substack to show the amazingly diverse range of speech deemed unallowable on private platforms, from raw footage of both anti-Trump protests and the January 6th riots, to satirical videos no one had even seen yet, to advocates and detractors of the medication Ivermectin, to a Jewish tweeter’s pictorial account of Hitler’s life, to a now proven-true expose about the president’s son. The latter case is on point, because the widely distributed story that the New York Post’s Hunter Biden report was Russian disinformation was the actual disinformation. If the fact-checkers are themselves untrustworthy, and you can’t get around the fact-checkers, that’s when you’re really screwed.
This puts the issue of the reliability of authorities front and center, which is the main problem with pandemic messaging. One does not need to be a medical expert to see that the FDA, CDC, the NIH, as well as the White House (both under Biden and Trump) have all been untruthful, or wrong, or inconsistent, about a spectacular range of issues in the last two years.
NIAID director Anthony Fauci has told three different stories about masks, including an episode in which he essentially claimed to have lied to us for our own good, in order to preserve masks for frontline workers — what Slate called one of the “Noble lies about Covid-19.” Officials turned out to be wrong about cloth masks anyway. Here is Fauci again on the issue of what to tell the public about how many people would need to be vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity,” casually explaining the logic of lying to the public for its sake:
When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent. Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, “I can nudge this up a bit,” so I went to 80, 85.
We’ve seen sudden changes in official positions on the efficacy of ventilators and lockdowns, on the dangers (or lack thereof) of opening schools, and on the risks, however small, of vaccine side effects like myocarditis. The CDC also just released data showing natural immunity to be more effective in preventing hospitalization and in preventing infection than vaccination. The government had previously said, over and over, that vaccination is preferable to natural immunity (here’s NIH director Francis Collins telling that to Bret Baier unequivocally in August). This was apparently another “noble lie,” designed to inspire people to get vaccinated, that mostly just convinced people to wonder if any official statements can be trusted.
To me, the story most illustrative of the problem inherent in policing “Covid misinformation” involves a town hall by Joe Biden from July 21 of last year. In it, the president said bluntly, “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations,” pretty much the definition of Covid misinformation.
It was bad enough when, a month later, the CDC released figures showing 25% of a sample of 43,000 Covid cases involved fully vaccinated people. Far worse was a fact-check by Politifact,which judged Biden’s clearly wrong statement “half true.”
“It is rare for people who are fully vaccinated to contract COVID-19, but it does happen,” the site wrote. They then cited CDC data as backup. “The datathat the CDC collected before May 1 show that, of 101 million people vaccinated in the U.S., 10,262 (0.01%) experienced breakthrough cases.” Politifact’s “bottom line”: Biden “exaggerated,” but “cases are rare.”
Anyone paying attention to that story will now distrust the president, the CDC, and “reputable” mainstream fact-checkers like the Pew Center’s Politifact. These are the exact sort of authorities whose guidance sites like the Center for Countering Digital Hate will rely upon when trying to pressure companies like Substack to remove certain voices.
This is the central problem of any “content moderation” scheme: somebody has to do the judging. The only thing worse than a landscape that contains misinformation is a landscape where misinformation is mandatory, and the only antidote for the latter is allowing all criticism, mistakes included. This is especially the case in a situation like the present, where the two-year clown show of lies and shifting positions by officials and media scolds has created a groundswell of mistrust that’s a far bigger threat to public health than a literal handful of Substack writers.
About that: here’s the lede of a BBC report about an incident that took place in December, called “Australia police arrest quarantine escapees”:
Australian police have arrested three people who broke out of a Covid quarantine compound in the middle of the night.
The Howard Springs centre near Darwin in the Northern Territory is one of Australia’s main quarantine facilities for people returning to the country.
Police said the trio scaled a fence to break out of the facility.
Officers found them after a manhunt on Wednesday. All had tested negative to Covid the day before.
Although I’m very much not a fan of Dr. Joseph Mercola’s, the fact that the CCDH wants to shut down articles like his “The Unvaxxed May Soon Be Shipped to Quarantine Camps” — which among other things contains passages about the Australian program — shows how little they understand about how media audiences think.
As is the case with the Assange story, the paucity of information in mainstream press about the serious draconian measures in places like Australia and Germany has already massively heightened distrust in those outlets and in official reassurances. The “nothing to see here” attitude about the potential downsides of authoritarian policies has reached sick joke status (see Russell Brand’s hilarious but depressing take on the Australia situation here). As the Substack folks themselves pointed out today, our society has a trust problem, and attempts to sweep it under a rug only make things worse.
Censors have a fantasy that if they get rid of all the Berensons and Mercolas and Malones, and rein in people like Joe Rogan, that all the holdouts will suddenly rush to get vaccinated. The opposite is true. If you wipe out critics, people will immediately default to higher levels of suspicion. They will now be surethere’s something wrong with the vaccine. If you want to convince audiences, you have to allow everyone to talk, even the ones you disagree with. You have to make a better case. The Substack people, thank God, still get this, but the censor’s disease of thinking there are shortcuts to trust is spreading.
Lastly, while the Postcertainly has its own problems in this area, the Guardian editors should puke with shame for even thinking about condemning anyone else’s “misinformation,” while their own fake story about Assange’s “secret talks” with Paul Manafort in the Ecuadorian embassy remains up. Leaving an obvious hoax uncorrected will tend to create a credibility problem, and you compound it by pointing a finger elsewhere. This is a lesson in this for health authorities, too. Clean your own houses, and maybe you won’t have such a hard time being believed.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
-You have the right to receive emergency care at any licensed facility with an emergency room.
-You have the right to be treated until your emergency medical condition is stabilized when you go to a hospital emergency room.
-You have the right to be informed by the hospital of your right to receive emergency services, without regard to your ability to pay, prior to being transferred or discharged.
- You have a right not to be transferred from an emergency care facility against your will.
It would also be highly unethical to refuse to treat the unvaccinated, or not treat them. It would open hospitals up to lawsuits under federal law (EMTALA) as well. In essence, they are legally bound to treat until the condition is stabilized.
Probably better to just continue masking up, ordering takeout where you can eat in a safe environment, get your shots if you can, and not act like this thing is over, like we've been doing over, and over, and over again for the past 2 years.
BASEBALL HARMED ITSELF MORE THAN BONDS EVER DID
by Jim Litke
Whatever harm Barry Bonds did to baseball pales in comparison to the damage baseball inflicted on itself both at the time and since. So say what you will about the steroids era, at least the games were still worth watching.
You can't say that about baseball today, assuming it's even available on a TV set where you live. The sport's popularity is buckling faster than the knees of a hitter fooled by Clayton Kershaw's curveball. The national audience for last season's World Series — roughly 12 million viewers — was less than half what it was barely two decades ago. A friend tried to put the best face on that vanishing act by saying baseball has become a "regional" game; that's just another way of saying it's on the road to becoming a niche sport.
If you drew up a list of things that would make baseball better tomorrow, reckoning with its past would be lucky to make it. Yet it might help explain how we got here.
Bonds and a few of his juiced fellow travelers — notably Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, whose eligibility on the writers' ballot for the Hall of Fame ran out this year as well — put on a fireworks show that pulled the game out of a rut dug when owners canceled the remainder of the 1994 season after players went on strike. People on both sides of the labor-management divide got rich, which is why nobody bothered to ask where all the pyrotechnics came from.
In case you haven't heard, we're already eight weeks into another lockout and there are precious few signs it will be settled before the scheduled start of spring training on Feb. 16. Even if camps open by then, there isn't nearly enough time — let alone will — to make improvements to the product on the field. And the game desperately needs overhauling.
Most pitchers only know how to throw two pitches anymore, fast and faster. Hitters have become a procession of strikeouts, interrupted by the occasional solo home run. No one bothers to run the bases anymore. If it looks as though players are simply standing around, that's because most of them are.
"This is a game designed to be played by nine men, not two," is how Theo Epstein, the boy-wonder former general manager who ended World Series championship droughts in both Boston and Chicago, said last summer.
Epstein is currently leading Major League Baseball's latest effort to examine how and where the game could be tweaked to help lure back longtime fans and attract a new generation. The plan is to avoid the kind of short-term fix that steroids provided last time.
"No one is looking to reinvent the wheel here," Epstein said in the same interview. "This is the greatest game in the world and we want to preserve the essence. A lot of this is restoring the game to the way it's historically been played."
Tradition was baseball's strong suit for a century or so — until suddenly it wasn't. Fans alienated by the truncated 1994 season and lost World Series that year stubbornly stayed away from ballparks upon baseball's return. At least at first. But then, in short order, Bonds and Sosa and Mark McGwire began routinely launching baseballs where none had gone before and people flocked back to watch. Baseball didn't just get its mojo back — remember the Nike ad, "Chicks dig the long ball"? — suddenly it was hip, too.
Now, of course, we know what fueled that rocket ship. There's still no reliable number for how many players used performance-enhancing drugs, but Bonds and the rest of the inflatable sluggers so dominated the screen that nobody thought to look at the players in the background. For every slugger like Rafael Palmeiro who got busted while cashing in the big bucks, there were plenty more Ryan Franklins, then a 32-year-old journeyman reliever just trying to make one more paycheck.
No matter, the owners paid them all and looked the other way because they kept the turnstiles spinning. Drug testing with penalties for positive tests began in 2004 and though Bonds always beat them, three years later not a single team offered the 43-year-old slugger a contract even though he was still one of the best hitters in the game.
Around the same time, Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball" detailed the growing analytics movement that ultimately made defensive shifts commonplace, and more strikeouts meant more pitches and longer games with even less action in between.
Restoring the game, if that's even possible, would be a lengthy effort and there's no guarantee it would resonate with younger fans.
"There's a lot more consensus on the direction of where the game should go," Epstein said about the results of a fan survey. "A lot more balls in play, a lot more athleticism, a lot more action."
If MLB is serious, that effort will require a ton of investment and abandoning the kind of short-term thinking that got baseball in this mess in the first place. The game's power brokers should know by now that guys like Bonds, who turned the ship around, don't come along very often.
JUSTICE BREYER TO RETIRE
After 27 years of praiseworthy public service on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his retirement from the court, which will reportedly take effect this summer after the Supreme Court’s current term ends.
California-born Stephen Breyer’s surprise retirement has sent conservative politicians in Washington, D.C. into a terrified tailspin in their knowledge that the possibility of the Republican Party winning a majority in the U.S. Senate in November has now just come to an end. Too bad for them.
Due to the historical pattern of the incumbent U.S. President’s party losing congressional seats in the first mid-term election after that president takes office, combined with the numerous announced retirements of incumbent Democratic U.S. House members, recent redistricting, and extreme congressional gerrymandering by blatantly racist Republican state politicians, it’s probably unlikely at this point that the Democratic Party will be able to maintain their narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives after November’s general election.
However, all of the time and public tax dollars wasted by racist GOP politicians in Republican-controlled red states (whose blatantly discriminatory and illegally gerrymandered congressional political maps are being torn up by one court after another) will not have any appreciable impact whatsoever on the outcome of U.S. Senate races in 2022, because statewide U.S. Senate elections can’t be gerrymandered since all voters in any state get to vote for or against their state’s U.S. Senate candidates.
What will impact the 2022 U.S. Senate elections is the fact that the current 6-3 partisan Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade prior to this November, which will spell certain political doom for anti-Choice Republican U.S. Senate candidates across the country, not just in swing states or in Democratic-controlled blue states.
Even red state Republican candidates have much to fear this year from what is sure to become a historically large voter turnout in November by women furiously focused on protecting their right to choose from misogynistic male GOP jurists and from right-wing religious extremist Republican politicians who are personally obsessed with controlling, regulating, and restricting female sexuality at the point of a gun.
The Republican Party is going to have some explaining to do to its criminal corporate donors and to its fascist foreign sugar daddies (like Russian kleptocrat Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabian despot Mohammed bin Salman) when 2023 dawns on at least several red states inaugurating Democrats as their new Governors, etc.
In fact, Justice Breyer’s retirement along with the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade by the current U.S. Supreme Court prior to November will probably result in multiple red states becoming swing states just in time for this year’s general election, not to mention those flipping to blue states in time for the 2024 presidential election (like Texas and Ohio for instance), which will hand a 2nd four-year term in the White House to President Joe Biden & Vice President Kamala Harris.
Maintaining their current slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is likely to be a heavy lift for the Democratic Party this year. However, don’t be shocked if the redirection of American voters’ attention towards the U.S. Supreme Court come election time will make fools out of those in the corporate media who have already mindlessly handed victory to the GOP in 2022, without a single vote having been cast yet! “Conventional Wisdom” isn’t wisdom after all, y’all. It’s simply groupthink.
"I GAVE A SPEECH, as one does, as one ages, to a room of students of the theatre, of film, of the performing arts. They shone with ambition, but I soon found myself annotating virtually every sentence I uttered, and this is not terribly comfortable: It badly alters the flow of things. They looked at me blankly when I mentioned Tennessee [Williams], and I had to throw out the play titles, at which they nodded their heads and murmured the names of Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. That was their reference to Tennessee Williams. It seemed not to matter that a man, a person, had written the play that became the film that became something they did in a scene in a class. There was no line of succession. They did not know who Julie Harris was or Bette Davis or Harold Clurman or the Group Theatre and Lee Strasberg was a building where you could take classes.
Now it is alarming to be old, and nothing makes a person feel quite so old as to talk of one's influences and of things that he feels are important and to have several hundred blank faces look at you with bewilderment. I don't want to annotate everything, and I think there is a serious lack of investment or intention toward this thing, this art, this craft to which you aspire. I think you have to know more than what is current and 'hot,' to use a loathsome word. I think you have to be familiar with the foundation of the work and understand it's what you're standing on."
—Mike Nichols/Interview with James Grissom
NATO BEARS SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE UKRAINE CRISIS
Russia’s insecure geographical position and history of invasion was completely disregarded by NATO as it triumphantly marched eastward after the Cold War, even to Russia’s very borders. NATO’s pronouncements that great power spheres of influence are so yesterday and that the alliance’s open-door policy allows each nation to choose the countries with which it wants to associate are mere blather that deny the historical realties of international relations. The reason Putin also has threatened to send Russian troops to Cuba and Venezuela is to dramatize the U.S.’s continuing sphere of influence over an entire global hemisphere—the Western Hemisphere—since 1823 and show that the United States would not appreciate hostile troops, alliances, or nuclear weapons anywhere in this region.
FACE TATS, on-line wonderment
(1) I'm curious..what comes first, the neck/face tats or the criminal behavior?
(2) I keep wondering that myself.
(3) That’s a chicken and the egg question. My experience has been the tats come after the degradation of the person’s honesty, if they ever had any to begin with.
A TATTY SELECTION from the past few months of "Catch"