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Off the Record (March 2, 2022)

THERE’S MORE OPPOSITION on the streets of Moscow to the Russian invasion of Ukraine than there was in the US over the regime change operation in Libya or the bombings of Syria or Somalia or the proxy war on Yemen or wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at any time under Obama or Trump, which tells you something about the Russian character. And our own. — Jeff St Clair

MIKE GENIELLA:

My thoughts are scattered on a cool, gray Saturday morning. I meant to stay local and write about the sentencing of the so-called “red-bearded burglar,” and offer up remarks on the approval of yet cannabis dispensary in our community. I also planned to share musings about the leadership changes ahead for Mendocino County government, and how District Attorney David Eyster is poised for a fourth term, only the second time in local legal history.

Another time.

My mind today is scrambled by what is going on in Ukraine, and how the brave people of that nation’s capital of Kyiv are still resisting despite being outmanned and outgunned. I was deeply moved by the photo of a young Ukrainian couple who hurried up their wedding, and then grabbed their weapons to help defend their homeland.

CNN reported that Ukrainians Yaryna Arieva and Sviatoslav Fursin rushed their wedding and got married to the sounds of sirens blaring the Russian invasion. Straight after their wedding, they both joined the local Territorial Defense Center to help efforts to defend their country.

These “patriots” are taking to the streets to help their fellow citizens repel Putin’s invaders. They are not whining about Covid restrictions, or vaccination requirements at cross border crossings between the U.S. and Canada.

Locally, we bitch about the landscaped bulb outs on Ukiah’s newly completed downtown street improvement project, saying they make the turns onto side streets cramped and rubber marked.

We gawk at low water levels in our reservoirs, but there are folks who continue to leave sprinkler systems on in local orchards and vineyards for winter frost protections.

Those situations pale in comparison to what is going on in Ukraine today, where outmanned forces are holding on to their capital after resisting an overnight onslaught.

Ukrainians woke up Saturday morning to find their city transformed by war, according to the New York Times.

”There were sandbags in the streets, burned-out cars, and lines at sites distributing guns. The metro had stopped running, its stations now used solely as underground bunkers. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the fate of the nation is ‘being decided right now.’ He posted a video of himself at daybreak Saturday, unshaven, on the capitol's streets appearing resolved to remain in Kyiv even though Western officials have warned that Russian plans to capture or kill him.”

Hillary Clinton, in some quarters the much-reviled former Secretary of State who won the popular election count but lost the Electoral College vote to Putin sympathizer Donald J. Trump, wrote this week that she believes the fighting in Ukraine is more than just another war halfway around the globe.

It is a democracy vs autocracy battle, Clinton contended. The Atlantic magazine, which published Clinton's essay on the subject, used this introduction:

”Ukraine is one flash point in a larger global struggle between democracy and autocracy — one that stretches from the steppes of Eastern Europe to the waters of the Indo-Pacific to the halls of the U.S. Capitol.”

Here is the link: theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/republicans-ukraine-putin-xi-trump-democracy/622898/

May the freedom fighters prevail in Ukraine.

REMEMBER that old Cold Warrior, George Kennan? He came out of retirement to correctly deplore Bill Clinton's support for pushing NATO east: “I think it is the beginning of a new Cold War. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. NATO expansion was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs. What bothers me is how superficial and ill-informed the whole Senate debate was. I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don't people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. We are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime." Enter Putin and the Gangster State.

WATCHING the coverage of Ukraine over the past three days, I've been surprised how many of the television experts are clearly winging it. Thus inspired, I'll wing it myself from the global affairs desk here in Boonville, secure in my ignorance that I know at least as much about Putin and his invasion of the Ukraine as Wolf Blitzer and Rachel Maddow. 

IF UKRAINE can hold off the Russians for another few days, Putin, assuming he hasn't gone nuts, will have undermined his own murderous kleptocracy at home in Mother Russia where many influential and everyday Russians have publicly opposed the invasion. Any puppet regime Putin might install in Ukraine will have sabbed itself, unable to justify the suffering Putin has inflicted on Ukraine. And Putin can't possibly occupy Ukraine because it's too big. Signs that he's beginning to crack are Putin's gratuitous threats Friday aimed at Sweden and Finland that he'd attack them if they joined NATO. The next day he rattled his nukes. Even Putin's Chinese soul bros ‘abstained’ from supporting him in Friday's UN vote. Poor Old Joe's puppeteers are playing it just right, I'd say, but if Putin has gone full Queeg and attacks one of the NATO countries, this catastrophe will become a mega-catastrophe, a full-on Black Swanner with unpredictable but dire consequences. (Wolf, Rach, how'd I do?) 

THERE, THERE, my dears. NPR's cringe-inducing story last week aimed at helping Americans “stressed” by the unfolding Ukraine crisis prompts the ava to offer free hugs to any KZYX member who needs consoling.

SUNDAY, this message from “Richard” at <bitcoin.mendocino@icloud.com> appeared on MCN's fervid chatline: “Bébé Lapin is the first retailer in Mendocino to accept bitcoin. As more retailers, pubs, restaurants and B&Bs on the coast join in with accepting bitcoin alongside traditional U.S dollar payments we will continue to put Mendocino on the map.”

ARE THERE that many suckers in Mendo for this guy to gull? David Gurney put it truly: “Bitcoin is a high-tech Ponzi scheme that burns unfathomable amounts of energy. A risky venture to say the least. Stay away from Bitcoin!”

SIGNIFYING NOTHING, but social media was agog as February 22, 2022 came and went. All the numbers lined up as 2.22.22. A full Twosday isn't in the cards for another two centuries — 2.22.2222.

FISH AND WILDLIFE? A reader says, “I heard they changed their name because other Law Enforcement types were calling them the FaGs and they didn’t like it. I don’t know. I think they changed their name because they’re now doing more fishing and gaming for pot busts than protecting wildlife.”

SOLAR GUY: I work in the solar industry. Our company has been in business here locally for 20 years. We mainly focus on residential solar, but do install smaller commercial arrays as well. We have been helping people switch from natural gas to all electric in their home. Our company has solar, electrical, hvac & plumbing licenses, so we can do all the work without subcontracting. By supporting residential solar you are supporting local businesses and local families. Big Utilities like PG&E have been lobbying to get rid of residential solar. They want to build huge solar arrays out in the desert then sell you back the power. Why do they want to do this? To keep control of their monopoly. If they get their way they won’t pass along savings to PG&E customers they will charge them more & more & more in the future like they always have. PG&E is ticker symbol PCG on the NYSE. They are publicly traded and really only care about profits and their shareholders. They could care less about you and I. Just look how they’ve handled the fires and now the tree removal this winter. These guys are scumbags and by removing residential solar they would be putting thousands of California residents out of work including many people in our local community. Don’t support Big Utilities and $PCG instead support local businesses and local families. Roof top solar along with a backup battery, electric heat pump instead of a gas heating & air conditioning & electric heat pump water heater instead of gas water heater is the future! Get away from gas and get into all electric homes! Thank you for your continued community support. We look forward to working on your next project!

THE SIR FRANCIS DRAKE HOTEL, an institution on Powell in San Francisco for nearly a hundred years, has been renamed as The Beacon Grand following a large-scale re-do. While circumnavigating the globe between 1577 and 1580, Drake landed in Marin where he was well-received by Native Americans when he dropped anchor at what became known as Drake's Bay. The historical re-write brigades have decided Drake's life as a state-sanctioned, sea-going brigand five hundred years ago disqualifies him from having his name attached to landmarks and institutions like high schools and hotels. Hey! What about the binary oppression represented by Adam and Eve? Let's re-write it all, right back to the beginning!

FROM SPY ROCK to rock millionaire. One day some years ago, I was standing in Boont Berry Farm chatting with Karen Espeleta who’d just introduced me to her teenage daughter, a very pretty girl even beneath what seemed like several pounds of nose rings and, as I recall, a purple Mohawk. As a right minded youngster, the fashionably-accoutered lass had about as much interest in me as in any other tiresome adult acquaintance of her mother’s, until Karen mentioned that I was a good friend of Lawrence Livermore a regular contributor to the AVA. The kid stared at me. “You, you know Lawrence Livermore? she stammered at the pure improbability of the relationship. That was my first awareness that LL had become a truly famous person, known to avant garde teens everywhere. Now I pick up the Sunday Chron and there he is denying that he’s just sold his record company for thirty million dollars! Out of the parched hills of Laytonville to big time show biz, and whaddya know? Livermore, for those of you deliberately out of the know like me, brought us the Green Day band and several other lucrative punk bands that generate millions of dollars in sales to young people. LL lives in New York these days, far from the hostile venue of the North County where he put out the pioneering and uncompromising ‘zine, the Lookout.

IN THIS PARTICULAR branch of the media it’s prudent to maintain enough upper body strength to repel the occasional reader who, as has happened, strides into the editorial offices looking to fight. And/Or to waylay the editor at assemblies of semi-leftwing idealists sworn to “Ghandian non-violence.” The non-violent are always the most violent people any journalist encounters, this one included. Why, one turbulent night in Garberville a gaggle of eco-hags gathered in a circle to pray that I died on my trip back to Boonville. God has made no creature so terrible as an old hippie gone mean.

A READER WONDERS: “Mendofever this morning. LaTrail White, part of an armed stick of crew that terrorized a Mendocino family, including a juvenile, had all his charges dismissed locally in a mass plea deal, then he goes on to recently murder a man in Oakland. Does DA Eyster have some explaining to do in this case? After all, he was poised to put a woman away for raising chickens, but this perp got a walk. Plea deals, the easy way out for lazy prosecutors?” 

ANOTHER READER on the same case: “Yes, well, it’s nice to see what sentences these guys actually got. 304 days for 1st degree armed robbery and assault w/ guns?!! Why even catch anybody anymore if we give them such light sentences? No wonder the shitbags are laughing at us all and running wild…indeed. Hog-tie them all, only next time don’t hold them for the police. The police and the courts are not doing their job…”

A MAN NAMED EDMONDS was caught and hot-tied by neighbors of the home invasion he and five other Bay Area mopes failed to pull off at the Black Oak Ranch subdivision near Laytonville. These particular career criminals are of the prevalent type who always get caught, but as I understand the case, there were insurmountable probs in nailing them with proportionate sentences because invaders and invadees were intertwined in ways that were impossible to rationally de-intertwine. 

OVERALL, I think Eyster is an excellent DA. Mendo, unlike neighboring Humboldt, has a reputation among the Defendant Community that if you commit a serious crime you will be prosecuted. There is somewhat of a revolving door at the County Jail among people so incompetent they should be locked up for their own safety, the walking misdemeanor types. But that revolving door exists everywhere as American society unravels, producing more and more Thanatoids, people unable to cope, people overwhelmed and defeated by life in the capitalist casino rigged against them.

THE LOCAL CASE that mystifies me is this one: Angel Guzman of San Jose had been sought on attempted murder charges arising out of Covelo when, about 2am one December morning in Albion not three months ago, he and two other guys pictured below, attempted to murder Chris Brown of Albion as he slept. They mostly missed as Brown returned fire. Guzman's truck was found at the top of Brown's driveway. Guzman managed to escape, but Jose Aguilar and Roberto Chavez-Sousa — were found hiding in the nearby woods and arrested. 

Guzman, Aguilar, Chavez

THIS EVENT — a near death experience for Mr. Brown who managed to escape serious injury with only a grazing wound to the back of his head — went from curious to curiouser when Aguilar and Chavez-Sousa went to court on attempted murder charges, bail having been set at $750,000 each. And walked out of court, the free-est attempted killers in the annals of Mendo attempted murder. 

DA EYSTER explained that charges were not filed against the two “pending further investigation. We couldn’t determine which guy did what,” Eyster said. “It’s not clear which guy shot the gun.” 

SO WHAT? If fifty guys had appeared at Brown's house and only one of them fired a shot at him, isn’t normal procedure to arrest all of them and charge all of them for conspiracy to commit a major felony?

BUT THE DA said he couldn't hold someone “until you know who did what and I can’t charge a lesser crime because they might plead to it and get off on the less serious charge.” Eyster said neither of the men had criminal records, and that a third man “might have been involved.” 

HMMM. Jose Aguilar and Roberto Chavez-Sousa show up at Chris Brown's house at 2am, shoot and wound him with a grazing shot to Brown’s head, and are soon thereafter found hiding in a nearby wooded area. Guzman managed to get away,  leaving his truck in Brown’s driveway. Aguilar and Chavez-Sousa are booked into the County Jail on attempted murder charges with bail set at $750,000, but when they appear in court they're released without charges while the episode is “investigated.” 

I DON'T GET IT. If two (or three) people show up at two in the morning, shoot and wound a man assumed to be unknown to them as they wake him from his sleep with at least one gunshot aimed at his head, run off when their target returns fire but leave their vehicle in the victim's driveway, how is it possible that both the apprehended Aguilar and Chavez-Sousa aren't held as suspects to determine which of them tried to murder Mr. Brown in his sleep? I thought under state law (and common sense) that whoever is with a shooter during an attempted murder that person is also assumed to be as guilty as the person who did the shooting. 

SOMETHING is very, very off in this one. Oh hell yeah, I'm sure the perps will be available for further questioning, perhaps being kind enough to zoom in from Michoacan to explain, “Guzman’s truck did it.”

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT, in a vain but transparently failed attempt to be woke-cool, published a “think piece” the other day describing white people who complained about the Super Bowl half-time show as racists, the standard indictment these days of any white person who comments negatively on Black affairs. Super Bowl half-time shows have always been celebrations of vulgar idiocy whomever was featured in them, but as popular culture descends to new depths of depravity, celebrating people who've made millions from piping criminal recommendations into the empty heads of young people are directly responsible for the radical increase in a lot of the gun violence in this country. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog are major enemies of their own people. Featuring them is sanctioning violent crime which, as we know or should know, is suffered disproportionately by Black people. (Why, thank you, Reverend Anderson, for breaking it down for us.) But double seriously, has anybody polled black people over the age of forty for their opinions of rap “music”? 

Quanah Parker

RECOMMENDED READING: the remarkable Quanah Parker and the Comanches who, when you saw them massed on a full moon night on the ridge overlooking your homestead, you knew you were about to be dispatched to the other world unless, of course, you were a woman to be carried off and Indianized like Parker's mom. Here in Mendo, the prevalent notion is that Native Americans walked around talking like sages, never lifting a warring finger against neighboring tribes, but in reality, after you'd hunted and gathered enough to last the cold months, for recreation you raided your neighbors. As is often pointed out, no Indian, including Parker's mom, ever ran away to be a white person, but lots of white persons preferred to stay on with their adopted tribes. A fascinating book on Parker and the Comanches who, unlike other tribes made their livings solely by murder and pillage, is “Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History” by S. C. Gwynne.

HI MY NAME IS AL and I'm 62 years old single no dog no cat. I live in a 20ft motorhome and I am trying to find another place to live for me and my motorhome being I have to move from where I am living right now. I had injured my shoulder in the past and now it's giving me trouble that worries me that has me seeing the doctors. I am in need of another place to live and to recover from my hurt shoulder, a simple place to live a little while longer. I can pay some rent. Help... 707-409-4147 Al Nunez <allymotocat@gmail.com>

MR. NUNEZ is hardly alone in his simple, modest request for a place to park his home. Many long-time residents of Mendocino County find themselves in a similar predicament.  

CRAIG STEHR suffered a heart attack on Thursday in his room at the Voll Motel, Ukiah. He was taken to the Adventist Hospital where he received a pacemaker. Craig, in his middle 70s, left us an understandably high anxiety message on Saturday saying that the hospital, a for-profit business with a three-hospital monopoly in Mendocino County, wants Craig out before he's fully recovered from his major medical event. The Adventists, self-alleged Christians, want him out because he's indigent, but not totally indigent with a small social security income which also comes with MediCare. Understandably, Craig wants to stay in the hospital until Wednesday when he expects he will be strong enough to care for himself in his room at the Voll. Instead, he's been threatened with eviction and referred to Building Bridges on South State Street where he would get some help, in theory anyway. As of Sunday night we don't know where Craig is, but we've left a message for a County mental health guy to look in on him at the Voll to assess him for permanent housing in Ukiah. 

MARK HAYDON, former county traffic engineer, commenting on MendocinoNewsPlus facebook page on the CEO’s $170k per year pension: “For me at the County, they took 7.3% of my Gross for Retirement and matched 24%. That means, out of every $100 I grossed, $7.30 came from me and $24 came from the taxpayer (on top of salary). This, and the fact that County Workers only work about 10.5 months of the year (after taking paid vacation, paid sick leave, paid personal leave, paid Covid leave and approximately 11 paid holidays), is why our County has no money for services. For most County Departments, at least $0.70 from every dollar budgeted goes directly to payroll and employee benefits. Look at what a County Supervisor collects after they are voted out.”

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] Vlad attacks– 22:22 02/22/22. SloJoe wakes up and says, “Gotdang them Russkies, I knew it. Bring me a double scoop of Double Dunker on a sugar cone, and get me that football fella with the skirt.”

[2] Everyone, can’t be a pot farmer.

Well, everyone can grow their own…

Marijuana should be so cheap, and it should grow everywhere! You should be able to buy a quart ziplock of fine flower at the Farmer’s Market, for $20.

It’s a weed! People are growing great Indica everywhere! Probably calling it “Humboldt”… 30 years ago, “Humboldt weed” was grown in garages and backyards in Yuba City…

Plant some “public pot” today! And then, go get a real job.

The environmental degradation, the sheer volume of crime and chaos, and the stupidity of the average pot farmer, are completely shocking!

Remember, the real estate price runup, the ridiculous rents, were caused by weed grower’s profits, and drug dealing by Mexican Cartels investing their cash in small town California.

40,000 unoccupied houses in San Francisco alone! Just sitting there…

And: pot farming caused huge wine/vineyard operations, which were then sold to “investment groups,” and then the former wine people started lending real estate money to, you guessed it, pot farmers!

The growing of marijuana in California is a phenomenon that California hasn’t even started to understand, and the idiots elected to public offices, are unable to grasp what is staring them in the face…

Get to work, and don’t waste your time planting weed this year…

It will take generations, to clean up the mess that “small farmers” have created, in Northern California…

AND: One more corporate weed farm was just approved outside Middletown (Lake County), in an area where there will probably not be sufficient water to get started…

Envision a world where Lake Berryessa is dry to the bottom, people can’t live outside of Woodland because the water table has been so badly depleted, and fires have burned every tree in the state. Imagine running the Bay Area with no hydroelectric, and little water. Imagine Agriculture in California, at a standstill, because the water has been cut off.

Go visit Ukiah.

This is where you are headed.

[3] Mendocino County has made the legal cannabis problems worse not better, they are consistently making more rules as they can’t enforce the ones they already have.

Mendocino County blames the state for the too many regulations, and a “unworkable program” But Mendocino county is still trying to pass more restrictions on legal cannabis cultivation. The newest restrictions talked about were a ban on water Hauling and a ban on cultivation in RR 5 zoning

How could they even talk about more restrictions when they can’t handle the restrictions they already have?

There is actually no respect for the cannabis industry on a county level. They just thought they could get tax money and that was all they cared for.

The county wasted months trying to jam through an ordinance last year that effectively would have turned the Industry upside down, it was going to push all the cultivation off the family farms and onto AG land.

Now they complain at all the work they did, but they actually just wasted everyone’s time.

[4] AND THEN THERE'S US. And then there's the United States, in which the coronavirus has brought out a whole new range of pathologies going far beyond the purely medical. You might have expected the mRNA vaccines to solve the problem of dealing with a pandemic in a liberal society. Unlike lockdowns and social distancing, vaccines don't require that individuals make sacrifices for the common good. Being vaccinated does reduce your chance of infecting others, but the big reason to take your shots is that they reduce your personal chance of getting severely ill. That is, vaccination is even less problematic than mask-wearing, which is something you do primarily to protect others and only secondarily to protect yourself. Vaccination is something you do mainly out of self-interest. But anti-vax sentiment, fed by medical disinformation, caused a drastic slowdown in the pace of US vaccinations by June 2021, just in time for the deadly onslaught of the Delta wave. Many Republican politicians and, even more crucially, rightwing media figures fiercely opposed vaccine mandates, then turned to attacks on the science behind the vaccines and the medical experts urging Americans to get their shots. And opposition to vaccines became a badge of conservative political loyalty.

The effect has been dramatic. As of November 2021, 91 percent of Democrats had received at least one shot, versus only 59 percent of Republicans. In vaccine terms, the US is practically two countries: blue states have vaccination rates comparable to Western Europe, while red states lag far behind. So if we're comparing the ability of political systems to cope with a pandemic, it makes an immense difference whether you consider New York or Texas to represent America. 

— Paul Krugman, Covid's Economic Mutations

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