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Mendocino County Today: Monday, June 27, 2022

Slight Cooling | Michael Nissenberg | Duff Home | Trashy People | MTA Rates | Naulty Retirement | Fish Caught | School News | Bike Shop | Elvis Movie | Chain Drag | Sierra Trip | Summer Day | Ed Notes | Street Artists | Tax Money | Kaisen School | Old Howard | New Settler | Sales Tax | Blackberry Festival | Homeless Problem | Yesterday's Catch | PA High | Ukraine | PG&E Negligence | Welcome Billboard | Reading Pepe | Right Tool | Our War | Catholic Supremes | NATO Expansion | Bottled Water | Living Proof | Unlimited Tolerance | Hot Outside | Changes | I Worried | Guernica | Supreme Procession | Christian Fascists | Repeat

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SLIGHT COOLING is expected for some areas today as a disturbance moves into the Pacific Northwest. The interior cooling trend is forecast to mostly continue through the rest of the week and into the upcoming weekend. Coastal areas will continue to be seasonal, with periods of marine stratus and fog. (NWS)

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MICHAEL NISSENBERG

Michael Nissenberg was born to Irv Nissenberg and Lillian Stang on November 15, 1946 in the Bronx, NY. He passed away peacefully at home on June 9, 2022 with his wife at his side. 

He grew up in the Bronx until his family moved to New Jersey when he was a teenager. After high school he joined the Air Force. He then worked with computers in a retail setting in Manhattan until moving to the West Coast in 1971. In 1972 he moved to Anderson Valley where he lived in the Deep End until he purchased his property on Greenwood Ridge in 1975. In 1979 Kathy joined him. In the 1970’s and 1980’s Michael was involved in a number of political issues especially environmental causes. He and Kathy had a small textile business for a number of years

Michael is survived by Kathy MacDonald, his wife of 43 years, his sister Joanie of Ashland OR, his stepdaughter Sheri, and grandchildren Michelle and Steven, all from Los Angeles.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Anderson Valley Health Center or the Elk Volunteer Fire Department. A celebration of his life is planned for later this summer at the Greenwood Community Center in Elk.

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William Wallach Duff Home, Boontling Hotspot

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AS OF FRIDAY AFTERNOON, “Some people are absolute pigs. Hendy Woods bridge gravel bar is covered in garbage,” but then kudos to a guy named Cody for cleaning it all up.

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DAVID EYSTER: “L and I made a quick trip out to Fort Bragg late Friday afternoon to help celebrate the latest retirement of FB Police Chief John Naulty ... Definitely one of the real good guys!”

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AV UNIFIED NEWS

Dear Anderson Valley Community,

I hope this message finds you well and you are keeping cool in the heat. The students that are enrolled have been enjoying summer school. The circus camp at the elementary school has been extremely popular, and we are delighted that the middle schoolers are able to access that instruction as well. It is imperative that if you have not already done so, you return the permission slip so that your child can participate in these events. I want to take a moment to thank the staff members who stepped up to create this learning and experiential activity over the summer. One of our key goals for the future is to increase school engagement through opportunities such as these experiences in arts and music. We have a dance group, magic show, field trips for climbing walls, etc… on the books for the remainder of the period.

Planning for next year is well underway with curriculum pilots in ELA at the elementary, and Science and Math at the Junior/Senior High School. You will be learning more about the pilots as information develops. We have a trauma-informed practices trainer coming in on August 11th and a school security resources officer scheduled for training our staff in September. In addition, we are managing some construction and painting projects at the high school and on-going deep cleaning at both sites. Lots to do.

It is imperative as we move forward into our coming year that we rebuild the parent/guardian engagement that was such an integral part of Anderson Valley in past decades. The elementary site has welcomed parents back for assemblies. and we look forward to rebuilding partnerships with parent volunteers supporting driving athletics, boosters, etc… at the Junior Senior High. The small staff alone CAN NOT deliver quality athletics and educational enrichment without the volunteering of time from our parent/guardian community. We just don’t have the manpower to make it happen.

If your student is enrolled in the Junior Senior High School, please mark your calendar to have at least one adult member of your family attend the mandatory dinner on August 18th at 5 p.m. We will have the opportunity to connect with others and review the changes in the eligibility requirements for sports play, the middle school cell phone policy, the dress code, the driver license policies and much more. We look forward to seeing you. Again, your child may not play in any sport unless an adult from your family attends this gathering.

We will also be having a presenter from MCOE do a little bit of show-and-tell on some of the drug products that students are currently engaging in throughout the county. I think this is powerful information for all parents/guardians to have as you work with your teens on making positive choices.I am a strong believer that we are “better together” and the way to raise student achievement and outcomes is by working in partnership with our school and parent guardian community to ensure that students ARE working hard to create the best outcomes for their future as possible. We are looking for a Mariachi band for the event, so if you know anyone, please have them contact my email at lsimson@avpathers.org.

The district office will be relocating to the high school counseling area effective this Tuesday. There may be a small disruption in our communication availability. Please do not hesitate to reach out via email or my cell phone and we will address any issues that you may have. We are delighted to have the district office staff augment the staff at the high school to create more supervision and support for our hardworking Junior Senior High staff members and students. 

Looking forward to the year ahead!

Take care,

Louise Simson, Superintendent

Anderson Valley Unified School District

707-684-1017

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TOM ALLMAN: Over the past two years, I have reminded myself how much fun, and rewarding, riding my bike is. Making time to ride has improved my quality of life. In doing so, I have learned that Dave’s Bike Shop in Ukiah has a fantastic inventory and as of today, has their largest inventory of bikes EVER! 

John Misinger is a brilliant bike mechanic who has really helped me along the way. 

If you are thinking about getting a new bike, or your current bike is in need of a tune-up, stop in and ask questions. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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RENEE LEE: Review of ‘Elvis’

1) Different than I thought it would be.

2) Austin Butler did an outstanding job of portraying The King. 

3) I learned a lot of things about his early childhood and his musical influences that I didn’t know about as I only remember him in old black and white movies or the unfavorable media snapshots of the disaster he was in the final years. 

4) I cried even though I knew the inevitable.

5) It wasn’t Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Pro tip: go pee before the movie. It’s nearly 3 hours long. 

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ON THE ROAD with a Deepender: The family and I just returned from a quick backpacking trip. Got up at 3 am last Tuesday and drove 8 hours over the Sonora pass. Beautiful drive. Dropped into Bridgeport in HWY 395 and headed south to the Green Lake trailhead. Made the 3 mile hike to green lake and found cold lake water and lots of mosquitoes. Got up the next morning and headed down the mountain straight for the hot spring. Had it all to ourselves… Overcast and slightly breezy. Hopped in the car and zipped through the Carson Valley and into the Disneyland that is South Lake Tahoe. Why I stop there every time is a mystery. You can’t even access the lake in some parts without paying a fee. Spent one night in a hotel then headed home to Paradise (the Deep End). 

— Kirk Vodopals

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Four Kids and a Dog Enjoying the Sun, 1939

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ED NOTES

A FRIEND sent me a best-selling book called ‘Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis’ by J.D. Vance, a guy whose origins are in the white underclass, meaning a fragged workingclass family characterized by instability exacerbated by drug and alcohol abuse and a child-like lack of impulse control. Vance is saved by his stable grandparents, especially his no bullshit grandmother, and four years in the Marine Corps.

A SMART, AMBITIOUS GUY, he draws all the wrong conclusions from his formative years in the underclass, becoming wealthy by lawyering for Silicon Valley tycoons and, lately, as a Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate out of his home state of Ohio. 

I SAY he draws the “wrong conclusions” because his family, like millions of poor families in this country who exist in a state of generational deprivation, would at least have a shot at stable lives if there were neo-New Deal liberal programs that made their lives easier. Vance, though, like his Republican soul bros, assumes that his people are hardwired to failure, that if he can lift himself out of poverty and despairing assumptions, they can, too.

THE BOOK accurately portrays the low life he grew up in, but the author comes off as a smarmy prig. No surprise he winds up with the fascists. His campaign for the Senate is heavy on authoritarian recommendations to take over public institutions from universities to KZYX, er, public media generally. “We should seize the institutions of the left, and turn them against the left,” he says, making the usual deliberate fascist argument conflating liberalism with “the left” as if conservative American libs are a gang of Bolsheviks. On their best, most idealistic days, Vance's “institutions of the left” are about as “left” as Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party.

THEY'RE HERE, the fascists, and they have a bunch of smart, able candidates and officeholders like Vance and DeSantis, both of them sons of the white workingclass, while our side has… No one. (Newsom maybe.)

GREEN DAY MUSICIAN Billie Joe Armstrong proclaimed “America” and said he was “renouncing his citizenship” because of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn federal abortion protections. Armstrong, 50, said, “There's too much fucking stupid in the world,” which is hardly confined to this country and may be even more prevalent in England where Armstrong said he plans to become a resident. Armstrong's own intelligence could stand some fortifying. A passionate backer of President Joe Biden, Armstrong filed paperwork last year to run as a Republican in the 2024 presidential election.

GREEN DAY, if you came in late, was assembled deep in the Mendo outback, Spy Rock, northeast of Laytonville, by Larry Livermore, also a pioneer 'zine guy with his memorable ‘Lookout,’ also the name of Green Day's first band called the Lookouts. 

TRE COOL, Green Day's drummer, aka Frank Edwin Wright III ,”was born December 9, 1972 in Frankfurt, Germany, making him the youngest member of Green Day. He grew up in the Mendocino mountains in California with his dad and his two older siblings. His dad, a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, decided to move the family there to insulate them upon his return to the United States. Tre's closest neighbor was none other than Lookout! Records owner Lawrence Livermore, who also owned the punk band the Lookouts. At age 12, Livermore recruited Tre to join The Lookouts, and that's when Livermore gave him the name of Tre Cool (“Tre,” a common nickname for someone named with a “III” is pronounced like “tres,” the French word for “very”). After Green Day's first tour around the country (following the release of ‘39/Smooth’), John Kiffmeyer decided to leave the band. Looking no further than Gilman Street, Billie Joe and Mike recruited Tre, who was already a five-year veteran of the Gilman Street scene.” (internet sourced) 

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The Mendocino Free Enterprise, 1977

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READ MY LIPS: ‘NO MO’ TAXES’

by Tommy Wayne Kramer

Here we go again because here they come again with their hands out and palms up, looking for more money because they spent all the other money. 

County supervisors want us to open our hearts, but mostly our wallets, to fund what they say are critical services. We’ve heard that pitch before. 

We pay taxes to have safe, secure places to live. We want cops on duty, fire fighters available around the clock and roads in good shape. We want water to flow when we turn the tap and lights when we flick the switch. 

Sewer systems? Trash pickup? Streetlights? Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

But what’s the smart, sneaky idea among government agencies? Absorb the tax money and spend it on dubious programs and lavish salaries, then go back and ask for more money if citizens want the basics. 

Before we hand another suitcase of cash to county supervisors to fund more vague programs, a few questions: 

1) Where did the money go to fund the Bullet Train? All we know for certain is it didn’t build a high speed rail line between Sacramento and Los Angeles. Last count? A billion bucks, and all we got was a hole in the ground. 

2) Let’s ask about gasoline taxes for highways that we pay out by the millions, and getback bicycle lanes, rail trails and stretches of Highway 101 through Mendocino County hardly improved in a 100 years. Still two lanes, just like 1930, into Hopland and out of Willits. 

3) Where has the money for Measure B gone? It was to fund treatment centers, help cops with mentally ill criminals and a secure lockdown facility. The Measure B committee never says, but will soon hold a meeting to count the many millions of dollars collected but never spent. 

4) We pay a cash recycle fee for aluminum cans and plastic or glass bottles. Every sixpack, every Coke bottle. The promise was the money would be refunded at government-sponsored redemption centers. But those centers are gone. The state still charges redemption fees, but has disappeared the recycle centers. 

5) Local politicians, using local dollars provided by local citizens, bought and renovated a local motel for the exclusive use of nonlocal homeless people. Cost was around $11 million. Why do politicians need more money if there’s money for stuff like that? 

6) If money is so tight how was the county able to pay two (2) redundant Covid Health Advisory Officers to accomplish approximately nothing? One even had the cheek to move to San Diego and cash her checks from there. 

7) The promise that a tax increase for roads (passed a few years ago) would fix roads. Instead the city used the money for a (surprise!) Downtown Streetscape Plan. Voters had no say in the project and funded it unwittingly. 

IDEA: How about tax money is first spent on cops, parks, roads and water, after which we ask voters for tax hikes to fund employee seminars in Florida, consultants, lavish-for-life public employee pensions and 30% raises for city administrators? Shall we vote on a tax to ensure Ukiah’s City Manager gets paid more than California’s Governor? 

Roads are frivolous add-ons when it’s time to spend tax money. But why make travel budgets and seminars a top priority, then wait to see if there’s cash left over for police and fire services? If not, demand an increase in taxes. 

Dear readers, this is what they do and are doing and have done for many years: Tax the pants off citizens, spend the money on pet projects and favored groups, and shrug off the spending needs we assume are priorities. 

But priorities for you and me aren’t the same priorities for our state and local politicians. Otherwise we wouldn’t have to pay more taxes every few years to take care of schools, streets, clean water or public safety.

Library Bailout II

The library tax is another funding drain that should come from taxes already paid. Instead, it’s spent on commuter trains from Santa Rosa to San Rafael. Oops. No it isn’t. They closed that railroad too (no riders) but kept the money. Now they’ll use any leftover money on a ridiculous, dead-end Rail Trail. 

Vote the library tax down. Libraries are appendages that have survived from long-gone centuries when they were the place to go for reading matter. No longer. 

Have you heard about Kindle books, iPods and Smartphones? They are the future; libraries are sooo yesterday. 

Keeping a library as a rest stop for homeless drifters is an expensive luxury that social services should absorb. A new tax will saddle future generations with even bigger burdens, the cruel joke being no one will know what the word “library” means or where to find one. 

Dewey Decimal System? Ha. It’ll get lumped in with Esperanto, Morse Code and protractors.

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Kaisen School, Melburne/Comptche

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OLD HOWARD HOSPITAL TO BE DEMOLISHED

To the Editor:

I have been asked many times, “What is going to happen to the Old Howard Hospital”? We have not had an answer because we’ve had it listed for sale for years and had no interest at all, even though we have dropped the price to less than half the appraised value. The vandalism and things that happen to a vacant building have taken a toll, and now we must do something. The overhead of taxes, maintenance, and security is becoming a financial burden. The Willits PD or the Fire Department is called at least 3 times a week. Last week the Fire Department was called out and found a man in the attic lighting matches.

We have had an environmental assessment done and put out a Proposal for Bid for environmental remediation and demolition. The Board received the bids last week and with a unanimous vote on a motion made by Mike Howard, decided that we have to move on. It breaks my heart to do that, but with every passing year, the building becomes more uninhabitable. Our money could be so much better spent with philanthropic work than propping up a building that is rapidly deteriorating.

I have truly tried to find a good fit for someone to have a reason to buy the building and a Mental Health Facility would have been the perfect solution in so many ways, but it was not to be.

After the building is gone, we will still own the property and have control over what happens in that space. I am hoping that we can find something that will be a beloved asset for our community like the hospital has always been.

Margie Handley, President Frank R. Howard Foundation

Willits

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COMPLETE SETS OF NEW SETTLER INTERVIEW packed in 4 medium priority mail size boxes available, as well as two smaller collections (the sagas of Dr. William Courtney and Tom Balance). I need help identifying associations and individuals interested in acquiring them.

— beth bosk 707.937-5703 nsi@mcn.org

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SUPES DROP WATER SALES TAX; Will Go Ahead With Fire Tax

by Jim Shields

As they say, all’s well that ends well, and that sums up Tuesday’s (June 21) Board of Supervisors meeting where a decision was finally made ending the Great Sales Tax War.

Quick background on sales tax issue:

• In 2011 Friends of the Library groups sponsored a ballot measure, approved by 75% of the voters, that established a 1/8 cent sales tax dedicated to libraries. The measure called for the tax to sunset in 2027.

• Just recently the Friends of the Library qualified a citizen’s initiative for the November ballot that would increase the library sales tax to ¼ cent upon the 2027 sunset of the 2011 1/8 cent measure. A major selling point has been that even though the sales tax support for the library would increase by 1/8 cent, the total sales tax would actually decrease because the Measure B Mental Health sales tax would decrease by 3/8¢ from the current ½ cent rate.

 • In late May, Supervisors Ted Williams, Glenn McGourty, and Mo Mulheren introduced a 3/8 cents sales tax to fund local fire departments and a resurrected county water agency.

• With Measure B being reduced to 1/8 cent, and the proposed library tax at ¼ cent, the BOS proposed 3/8 cent sales tax would result in a 1/8 cent overall increase to the County’s sales tax rate.

At Tuesday’s session, Board Chairman Williams announced at the outset of the sales tax discussion, that he was disinclined to put the measure on the ballot unless all five Supervisors agreed to do so. Since Supes John Haschak and Dan Gjerde have opposed the proposal, especially the water tax, from its inception, there was little doubt that some kind of compromise was in the offing.

Williams made it clear that he wanted Board unanimity on a decision that would avoid a divisive public battle over competing sales tax proposals. Williams needs to credited for making this move because it was the right thing to do. Enough said.

There have been several other twists to this scenario.

While a sales tax for the benefit of local fire departments is generally supported by taxpayers, the same backing is not found for the proposed water tax, especially when talk turns to a general public perception that the County has done a less than poor job of crafting any cohesive, coherent water policies. 

When you couple those public reservations with concerns raised by Supervisors Gjerde and Haschak about the potential usage of water sales tax funds, it points to a rocky road ahead for voter approval. 

In a recent memo to his colleagues, Gjerde warned, “It is going to hurt the causes the taxes are intended to help. A countywide water sales tax, for example, is going to bring intense scrutiny to the intended beneficiaries of the water tax. Voters throughout Mendocino County will question why they are being asked to pay a water tax, when the agricultural interests served by the Potter Valley Irrigation District pay virtually nothing for their irrigation water … It is going to divide our communities. To be clear, the Board of Supervisors politically and financially supports the efforts by the Potter Valley Irrigation District, the Inland Water and Power Commission and others who are attempting to retain reasonable water diversion rights from the Eel River to Potter Valley and Lake Mendocino. But support has its limits. Ultimately, the debate over a flawed and unwelcome water tax will trigger devastating political division within Mendocino County, while setting back the very cause the water tax was intended to help.”

In response to Williams signal for a re-worked tax proposal, Gjerde and Haschak ended up proposing a slimmed down one-quarter cent sales tax that would fund only fire departments and the county’s Fire Safe Council. The water portion of the sales tax was dropped.

While it took some convincing to bring McGourty and Mulheren aboard, the Supes finally and unanimously approved the compromise. Near the end of the meeting, McGourty said he felt “kind of betrayed” by the turn of events. 

Mulheren, who a week ago, cobbled together a water tax plan that was essentially unworkable due to mostly structural defects, including a bloated “technical advisory” committee, was upset that her colleagues had not paid closer attention to her proposal.

The quarter-cent sales tax, if approved by voters, would be effective in both the unincorporated areas of the county as well as the cities. 

The tax would be a general tax, so it would only require a simple majority of votes to pass. Most likely the measure would include an “intent” provision or a non-binding resolution stating it’s the Supes intention the funds will be spent on fire services.

If the measure were a specific tax dedicated solely to fire services, it would require two-thirds voter approval.

The quarter-cent sales tax would generate $4 million to $4.8 million, annually.

The tax proceeds would be split 90 percent for local fire departments and 10 percent for the Fire Safe Council.

If approved by voters, the tax would be in effect for 10 years and then sun-setted, unless renewed by voters.

The deal is also contingent on the county securing another source of funding, that’s not a tax, for a water agency and other water related issues. Supes Gjerde and Mulheren agreed to serve on a special committee that would bring a finished product back to the Board on July 12.

If both the Library tax measure and the Fire tax proposal are approved by voters in November, the sales tax rate would remain at the current 5/8 cent rate.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, observer@pacific.net, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)

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ED NOTE: Covelo! (used to go, haven't been in years, but it was a great event then, and I'm told it's a great event still)

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BILL KIMBERLIN: In the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, there was a homeless problem. Somewhere around 200,000 people were on the streets with no place to live because either their housing was destroyed or condemned.

However, within a few months the problem was partly solved. Golden Gate park and many other city owned lands were used to build temporary housing.

Dolores Park—then Mission Park—cottage camp, opened November 19, 1906 and closed October 22, 1907.

Apparently, the current mayor and supervisors can't figure out the answer to current problems with the homeless. Some version of this could still be done today.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, June 26, 2022

Augustine, Blakesley, Escamailla, Farias

ANDREW AUGUSTINE, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.

DUSTIN BLAKESLEY, Ukiah. Protective order violation, failure to appear.

DANIEL ESCAMILLA, Ukiah. Parole violation.

LITTLEFEATHER FARIAS-VANSICKLE, Willits. DUI.

Gomez, Grivette, Haug

CARLOS GOMEZ, Ukiah. DUI.

DARYAN GRIVETTE, Ukiah. Bad check.

DUSTIN HAUG, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance.

Hoaglin, Miller, Zaccaria

KAYLA HOAGLIN, Ukiah. Bad check, offenses while on bail.

BENJAMIN MILLER, Laytonville. DUI, child cruelty-infliction of injury, resisting.

DIANE ZACCARIA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-drugs&alcohol

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The New and Beautiful Point Arena High School, 1938

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UKRAINE, SUNDAY, JUNE 26

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country needs a more modern air defence system after a weekend of attacks on the capital Kyiv, as well as the Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Lviv regions.

Russia has effectively defaulted on its foreign-currency sovereign debt after the grace period for the payment deadline expired on Sunday.

Leaders from the G7 have had their first day of meetings, in which four nations backed a ban on Russian gold – although it is unclear whether there is yet a consensus.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend a round of talks with the leaders of Sweden and Finland, as well as NATO on Tuesday ahead of the summit in Madrid, his spokesperson says.

NATO leaders are expected to urge Erdogan to lift his veto over Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance.

Sasha Petrova, Al Jazeera

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CAL FIRE REPORT BLASTS PG&E’S ROLE IN DIXIE FIRE - ‘Prolonged response’ was ‘a direct and negligent factor in the ignition of the fire’

PG&E wants Californians to believe that it was a “prudent operator” in the events leading up to the 2021 Dixie Fire, the second-largest wildfire in state history.

Cal Fire says otherwise in its final report on the fire released last week.

No surprise there. Since 2017, PG&E, a two-time felon, has been ducking responsibility for a staggering 31 wildfires, burning nearly 25,000 structures and killing more than 100 Californians.

The utility acknowledges that it took 10 hours — 10 hours! — from the time a 65-foot Douglas fir fell and contacted one of its power lines for one of its workers to arrive on the scene.

“The prolonged response to the initial outage and fault that occurred at 6:48 a.m. was a direct and negligent factor in the ignition of the fire,” investigators said in the Cal Fire report. “Had PG&E arrived on the scene earlier, they could have detected the fault … before it had time to ignite a receptive fuel.”

PG&E’s response?

“There was no indication of an emergency until our troubleman arrived at the scene soon after the fire had started. Consistent with our policies and standards, the troubleman worked diligently for hours to get to the site, including after being turned away by a county road crew, and fought the fire heroically by himself before Cal Fire arrived.”

So it comes down to this. On a hot July day in the midst of California’s wildfire season, in an area that Cal Fire noted that several wildfires had ignited in recent years, PG&E’s “policies and standards” allowed for a 10-hour response to a potential fire risk to be called “prudent.” If a county road crew blocked a worker’s way, Californians just have to live with the result.

That’s hardly comforting to Greenville residents who had their town pretty much destroyed by the ensuing blaze. All told, the Dixie Fire burned nearly 1 million acres, 1,300 structures and more than half of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The cost of fighting the Dixie Fire was $637 million, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, the most costly wildfire to combat in U.S. history.

PG&E says in the aftermath of the Dixie Fire that it has taken steps that could have prevented it from starting, including heightened inspections of its electricity system and improved vegetation management, “state-of-the-art weather forecasting” and artificial intelligence to better forecast dangerous weather patterns and wildfire hazards. It is also planning to use intentional power shutdowns in high-risk regions, which begs the question of why the utility didn’t take the steps before the Dixie Fire.

The delayed response isn’t the only point of contention between PG&E and Cal Fire in the report.

The utility insists that the tree that started the fire was “alive, vital and growing vertically at the time of the failure.”

But Cal Fire said in its report that the tree in question was “damaged and decaying” when it fell and contacted the PG&E transmission line.

In April, PG&E avoided criminal prosecution in five counties for the Dixie Fire as part of a settlement agreement in which the utility admitted no wrongdoing. PG&E agreed to pay about $55 million over five years in civil penalties and payments and expedite a program for victims of the fire to receive compensation for damages.

All told, the utility’s actions do nothing to restore the lost trust that has plagued PG&E for more than a decade.

(Bay Area News Group editorial)

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JEFF BLANKFORT: 

I have been reading Pepe Escobar for some time, once wondering if he was a real person, or a computer generated figure by the right whose positions on every issue reflect an admiration for authoritarian governments as long as they are opposed to the USA and an absolute lack of concern, of empathy for people, not just the powerless, who are beaten and jailed for dissenting against those regimes, but ordinary people who get trampled on in conflicts such as are now seeing in Ukraine today.

Escobar will never tell his readers that Putin has embraced and has, in turn, been embraced by every dictator on the planet, including those who are Washington's allies and that he is supported, from everything I have read, by every right-wing, every neo-fascist party in Europe as well as by that wonderful democrat in Hungary, Victor Orban. That's the company in which Escobar is clearly at home.

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WESTERN OFFICIALS ADMIT UKRAINE IS CRAWLING WITH CIA PERSONNEL

by Caitlin Johnstone

The New York Times reports that Ukraine is crawling with special forces and spies from the US and its allies, which would seem to contradict earlier reports that the US intelligence cartel is having trouble getting intel about what's happening on the ground in Ukraine.

This would also, obviously, put the final nail in the coffin of the claim that this is not a US proxy war.

In an article titled "Commando Network Coordinates Flow of Weapons in Ukraine, Officials Say," western officials inform us of the following through their stenographers at The New York Times:

As Russian troops press ahead with a grinding campaign to seize eastern Ukraine, the nation’s ability to resist the onslaught depends more than ever on help from the United States and its allies — including a stealthy network of commandos and spies rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training, according to U.S. and European officials.

Much of this work happens outside Ukraine, at bases in Germany, France and Britain, for example. But even as the Biden administration has declared it will not deploy American troops to Ukraine, some C.I.A. personnel have continued to operate in the country secretly, mostly in the capital, Kyiv, directing much of the massive amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces, according to current and former officials.

At the same time, a few dozen commandos from other NATO countries, including Britain, France, Canada and Lithuania, also have been working inside Ukraine.

The revelation that the CIA and US special forces are conducting military operations in Ukraine does indeed make a lie of the Biden administration’s insistence at the start of the war that there would be no American boots on the ground in Ukraine, and the admission that NATO powers are so involved in operations against a nuclear superpower means we are closer to seeing a nuclear exchange than anyone should be comfortable with.

This news should surprise no one who knows anything about the usual behavior of the US intelligence cartel, but interestingly it contradicts something we were told by the same New York Times not three weeks ago.

“American intelligence agencies have less information than they would like about Ukraine’s operations and possess a far better picture of Russia’s military, its planned operations and its successes and failures,” NYT told us earlier this month. “U.S. officials said the Ukrainian government gave them few classified briefings or details about their operational plans, and Ukrainian officials acknowledged that they did not tell the Americans everything.”

It seems a bit unlikely that US intelligence agencies would have a hard time getting information about what’s happening in a country where they themselves are physically located. Moon of Alabama theorized at the time that this ridiculous “We don’t know what’s happening in our own proxy war” line was being pushed to give the US plausible deniability about Ukraine’s failures on the battlefield, which have only gotten worse since then.

So why are they telling us all this now? Well, it could be that we’re being paced into accepting an increasingly direct role of the US and its allies in Ukraine.

The other day Antiwar’s Daniel Larison tweeted, “Hawks in April: Don’t call it a proxy war! Hawks in May: Of course it’s a proxy war! Hawks in June: It’s not their war, it’s our war!”

This is indeed exactly how it happened. Back in April President Biden told the press the idea that this is a proxy war between the US and Russia was “not true” and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “It’s not, this is clearly Ukraine’s fight” when asked if this is a proxy war. The mainstream media were still framing this claim as merely an “accusation” by the Russian government, and empire spinmeisters were regularly admonishing anyone who used that term on the grounds that it deprives Ukrainians of their “agency”.

Then May rolled around and all of a sudden we had The New Yorker unequivocally telling us that the US is in “a full proxy war with Russia” and hawks like US congressman Seth Moulton saying things like, “We’re not just at war to support the Ukrainians. We’re fundamentally at war, although somewhat through a proxy, with Russia, and it’s important that we win.”

And now here in June we’ve got war hawks like Max Boot coming right out and saying that this is actually America’s war, and it is therefore important for the US to drastically escalate the war in order to hand the Russians “devastating losses”.

So the previously unthinkable idea that the US is at war with Russia has been gradually normalized, with the heat turned up so slowly that the frog doesn’t notice it’s being boiled alive. If that idea can be sufficiently normalized, public consent for greater escalations will likely be forthcoming, even if those escalations are extremely psychotic.

Back in March when I said the only “agency” Ukraine has in this conflict is the Central Intelligence kind, empire loyalists jumped down my throat. They couldn’t believe I was saying something so evil and wrong. Now they’ve been told that the Central Intelligence Agency is indeed conducting operations and directing intelligence on the ground in Ukraine, but I somehow doubt that this will stir any self-reflection on their part.

(caitlinjohnstone.com)

* * *

* * *

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE US SENATE ratified NATO eastward expansion in May 1998 (in violation of the promise made to Gorbachev that it would not) NY Times columnist Tom Friedman called George Kennan, the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union and arguably America’s greatest expert on Russia.

Kennan’s opinion:

"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 lighthearted 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. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime. And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia. Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the Nato expansionists] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong."

* * *

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Something along the lines of “tough times create hard men; hard men create easy times; easy times create soft/lazy men”. We are living proof. What an incredible opportunity we had as a nation to make the world such a better place, contributing to all. Instead we are a bunch of crazy, sadistic, moronic, deviants the likes of which the world has never seen. Remember when we were proud to be Americans and we could hold our heads up high whenever we traveled to less fortunate places in the world? Not anymore. Most of the people out there absolutely hate us. We start more wars than all the other countries combined and the world (and many of us here at home) are SICK OF IT.

* * *

CAROL MATTESSICH:

Fascists In Our Midst: All those tasked in our society with interpreting the world around us forgot, as philosopher Karl Popper wrote in ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies,’ that “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

* * *

* * *

CHANGES

by Herb Caen

"Where do you run?" The question was propounded by the editor of one of San Francisco's most distinguished underground newspapers, and as I struggled to sort out the language, he amplified: "I mean, where is your turf, man, your terrain?"

The editor was a presumably clean minded young man, about 24, who happened to be wearing a very dirty shirt. Not revolting, more a symbol of revolt, I should think. His hair and manner bristled, and he couched his question in the faintly hostile tone characteristic of what may or may not be the New Left. The matter has been explained to me by a Berkeley psychiatrist: "The reason the New Left shouts down a Ted Kennedy, say, is really quite simple. They drown him out for fear he might say something with which they could agree. That they could never bear."

"Where do you run?" Well, it was a good question. The reply I tried to put together sounded vapid: "Oh, you know, the north side of town, I guess." I've never been asked that question before. "Uh— North Beach. Telegraph Hill, Russian, Pacific Heights, downtown." Pause. Then, too brightly: "I get out to the park once in a while. The zoo. The beach."

There was a silence and we regarded each other across a chasm. Not a communication gap exactly. It's just that we live in two different worlds in the one world of San Francisco and the realization grew on me that I was running in a pretty constricted circle.

We were on his "turf," a hamburger and coffeehouse near 14th and Valencia in the Mission. The Mission. What did I know about that? To me it was a vast and even mysterious section of old Irish and Spanish families with an uncommon number of churches. Tree shaded streets, some of them quite pretty. Desolate valleys and old frame houses and a large black population.

"Rather a conservative part of town," I ventured remembering the sturdy god fearing native San Franciscans I'd encountered in the Mission over the years. "Not anymore, man," said the young editor with finality. "All sorts of wild and beautiful things are happening in the Mission. Lots of Hashbury people make it here now. Communes all over the place. Whole new scene."

It was only 20 years ago that one of my mentors, the late Joseph Henry Jackson, talked daily about "the singular homogeneity of San Francisco." (He lived in Berkeley which might have had something to do with it.) He had me convinced that the people of the Marina cared desperately what happened in the Mission and vice versa. "San Franciscans are one people, bound together by their devotion to the city and each other," he would say with pride. As he headed for the East Bay hills.

Forgive me, Joe Jackson, but San Franciscans no longer know their city. Put it down to fear or apathy. They go to Hunter's Point about as often as they go to Cypress Point at Pebble Beach, which is never. Car doors are locked, they circle around the Fillmore; in the past they at least used to go "slumming" to the Jazz joints there. In Pacific Heights rent-a-guards patrol apartment house entrances. On the mansions are iron gates, barred windows…

"It's a sick scene, your part of town," said the young editor equably, "but we will change all that after the revolution." The words "what have you been smoking, buddy?" crossed my mind, but then I remembered Susan Sontag's conclusion that America (read San Francisco) "is in its prerevolutionary stage." It's young versus old, tradition against outright rejection of same. The editor's dirty shirt is a symbol as are bare feet and costumes (castoffs) instead of straight clothes. ("Cheap is in! And the merchants are nervous.) Pot? It outsells Pall Mall.

"A revolution is unthinkable," I said, picking up my hamburger. "The establishment won't give up without a fight. The streets will run with blood." I bit fiercely into the burger to underline my conviction, but the young editor was unruffled. "It will be peaceful," he said. "We are winning already. Our people are moving in everywhere. We will take over by sheer force of numbers. We will just be there. Money will be out of the window. One big commune. Right now we are handing out free pictures in your part of town. Beautiful. Don't buy pictures, get them free. We are turning on the world." He displayed a photo of a little girl smoking pot. "How old is she, maybe eight? They are starting at six now. Your values are dead. What do you think of ours?"

I finished my hamburger and arose. "Not bad at all," I said. "Really an excellent hamburger." He gave a tiny smile as I left and that was something of a victory. I forgot to tell you — the New Left is humorless, maybe because they think the joke is on the rest of us. But who gets the last laugh?

* * *

* * *

THE WOMEN OF ‘GUERNICA’

by Anne Wagner

Guernica was bombed by the Nazi Condor Legion on the afternoon and evening of April 26, 1937. It was a Monday, market day in the Basque town. News of the attack reached Picasso through a report published two days later in the communist newspaper L'Humanite. The lead article — "Mille bombes incendiaires lancees par les avions de Hitler et Mussolini" — was accompanied by a photograph of two women lying dead in a street. Not, however, a street in Guernica: the photo records an attack in another Spanish city. The reader isn't told which one. And it's the generalities provided in the accompanying caption: "Ci-dessus, quelques femmes — des meres sans doute — abbatues au cours d'un bombardement." Female victims were mothers, "sans doute." How could it be otherwise when the bearing of children defined a woman's role? At a moment when the damage wartime violence inflicted on innocent victims became a Republican leitmotif, women are assumed to be mothers and mothers cannot — and should not — die alone.

Picasso's painting was intended to take sides in the same combat. Yet the image it offers did not develop "sans doute"; instead its composition was transformed through rapid revisions, not merely of particular details, but of the painting's overall spatial logic and dramatic force.

(London review of books, August 17, 2017)

* * *

* * *

FASCISTS IN OUR MIDST

Supreme Court rulings, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, herald the ascendancy of Christian fascism in the United States.

by Chris Hedges

The Supreme Court is relentlessly funding and empowering Christian fascism. It not only overturned Roe v. Wade, ending a constitutional right to an abortion, but ruled on June 21 that Maine may not exclude religious schools from a state tuition program. It has ruled that a Montana state program to support private schools must include religious schools. It ruled that a 40-foot cross could remain on state property in suburban Maryland. It upheld the Trump administration regulation allowing employers to deny birth control coverage to female employees on religious grounds. It ruled that employment discrimination laws do not apply to teachers at religious schools. It ruled that a Catholic social services agency in Philadelphia could ignore city rules and refuse to screen same-sex couples applying to take in foster children. It neutered the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It watered down laws allowing workers to combat sexual and racial harassment in court. It reversed century-old campaign finance restric­tions to permit corpor­a­tions, private groups and oligarchs to spend unlim­ited funds on elec­tions, a system of legalized bribery, in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. It permitted states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. It undercut the ability of public sector unions to raise funds. It forced workers with legal grievances to submit their complaints to privatized arbitration boards. It ruled that states cannot restrict the right to carry concealed weapons in public. It ruled that suspects cannot sue police who neglect to read them their Miranda warnings and use their statements against them in court. Outlawing contraception, same-sex marriage and same-sex consensual relations are probably next. Only 25 percent of those polled say they have confidence in Supreme Court decisions.

I do not use the word fascist lightly. My father was a Presbyterian minister. My mother, a professor, was a seminary graduate. I received my Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. Most importantly, I spent two years reporting from megachurches, creationist seminars, right-to-life retreats, Christian broadcasting networks and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with members and leaders of the Christian right for my book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America,” which is banned at most “Christian” schools and universities. Before the book was published, I met at length with Fritz Stern, the author of The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the German Ideology, and Robert O. Paxton, who wrote The Anatomy of Fascism, two of the country’s most eminent scholars of fascism, to make sure the word fascist was appropriate.

The book was a warning that an American fascism, wrapped in the flag and clutching the Christian cross, was organizing to extinguish our anemic democracy. This assault is very far advanced. The connecting tissue among the disparate militia groups, QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-abortion activists, right-wing patriot organizations, Second Amendment advocates, neo-Confederates and Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol on January 6 is this frightening Christian fascism.

Fascists achieve power by creating parallel institutions – schools, universities, media platforms and paramilitary forces – and seizing the organs of internal security and the judiciary. They deform the law, including electoral law, to serve their ends. They are rarely in the majority. The Nazis never polled above 37 percent in free elections. Christian fascists constitute less than a third of the U.S. electorate, about the same percentage of those who consider abortion to be murder. 

This flagrant manipulation of law was displayed in two of the most recent Supreme Court decisions, where those who support this ideology have a six to three majority. In overturning Roe v. Wade, the court, in a five to four decision, argued that states have the power to decide whether abortion is legal. The same court conversely came down against “states’ rights,” in striking down strict restrictions on carrying concealed firearms.  

What the ideology demands is law. What the ideology opposes is a crime. Once a legal system is subservient to dogma an open society is impossible.  

Blow by blow autocratic power is being solidified by this monstrous Christian fascism which is bankrolled by the most retrograde forces of corporate capitalism. It looks set to take control of the U.S. Congress in the midterm elections. If Trump, or a Trump-like clone, is elected in 2024, what is left of our democracy will likely be extinguished.

These Christians fascists are clear about the society they intend to create.

In their ideal America, our “secular humanist” society based on science and reason will be destroyed. The Ten Commandments will form the basis of the legal system. Creationism or “Intelligent Design” will be taught in public schools, many of which will be overtly “Christian.” Those branded as social deviants, including the LGBTQ community, immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims, criminals, and those dismissed as “nominal Christians”—meaning Christians who do not embrace this peculiar interpretation of Bible—will be silenced, imprisoned, or killed. The role of the federal government will be reduced to protecting property rights, “homeland” security and waging war. Most government assistance programs and federal departments, including education, will be terminated. Church organizations will be funded and empowered to run social-welfare agencies and schools. The poor, condemned for sloth, indolence, and sinfulness, will be denied help. The death penalty will be expanded to include “moral crimes,” including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft, as well as abortion, which will be treated as murder. Women, denied contraception, access to abortion, and equality under the law, will be subordinate to men. Those who practice other faiths will become, at best, second-class citizens. The wars waged by the American empire will be defined as religious crusades. Victims of police violence and those in prison will have no redress. There will be no separation of church and state. The only legitimate voices in public discourse and the media will be “Christian.” America will be sacralized as an agent of God. Those who defy the “Christian” authorities, at home and abroad, will be condemned as agents of Satan.

How did the historians of Weimar Germany and Nazism, the professors of Holocaust studies, the sociologists and the religious scholars manage to miss the rise of our homegrown Christian fascism? Immersed in the writings of Hannah Arendt, Raul Hilberg, Saul Friedländer, Joachim Fest, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Theodor Adorno, they never connected the dots. Why didn’t church leaders thunder in denunciation at the grotesque perversion of the Gospel by the Christian fascists as they sacralized the get-rich-with-Jesus schemes of the prosperity gospel, imperialism, militarism, capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry? Why didn’t reporters see the flashing red lights that lit up decades ago?

Most of those tasked with reporting on and interpreting history, social movements and religious beliefs have failed us. They spoke about the past, vowing “Never again,” but refused to use the lessons of the past to explain the present. It was not ignorance. It was cowardice. To confront the Christian fascists, even in universities, meant career-canceling accusations of religious bigotry and intolerance. It meant credible threats of violence from conspiracy theorists who believed they were called by God to murder abortion providers, Muslims, and “secular humanists.”

It was easier, as many academics did in Weimar Germany, to believe that the fascists did not mean what they said, that there were strains within the movement that could be reasoned with, that opening channels of dialogue and communication could see the fascists domesticated, that if in power the fascists would not act on their extremist and violent rhetoric.  With few exceptions, German academics did not protest the Nazi assumption of power and the wholesale dismissal of their liberal, socialist, and Jewish colleagues.

Although my book was a New York Times best seller, Harvard told my publisher it was not interested in my appearing at the school. I gave a lecture on the book at Colgate University, where I had earned my undergraduate degree, organized by my mentor Coleman Brown, a professor of ethics. I held a seminar, also organized by Coleman, with the professors of philosophy and religion after the talk. These professors wanted nothing to do with the critique. When we left the room, Coleman muttered, “the problem is they do not believe in heretics.”

I was asked in 2006 to speak at the inauguration of the LGBT center at Princeton University when I was the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies. To my dismay, the faculty facilitators had invited representatives from the right-wing Christian student group who see any deviation from heterosexuality as a psychological and moral abnormality. Christian fascist pastors in Texas and Idaho, who have driven countless young people struggling with their sexual identity to suicide, have called for the execution of gay people as recently as a few days ago.

“There is no dialogue with those who deny your legitimate right to be,” I said, looking pointedly at the LGBTQ students. “At that point it is a fight for survival.”

The faculty member organizing the event leapt from her chair.

“This is a university,” she said to me curtly. “Your talk is over. You can’t say those kinds of things here.”

I sat down. But I had made my point.

All those tasked in our society with interpreting the world around us forgot, as philosopher Karl Popper wrote in The Open Society and Its Enemies, that “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

These scholars, writers, intellectuals, and journalists, like those in Weimar Germany, bear much of the blame. They preferred accommodation over confrontation. They stood by as the working class was stripped of rights and impoverished by the billionaire class, fertilizing the ground for an American fascism. Those who orchestrated the economic, political, and social assault are the major donors to the universities. They control trustee boards, grants, academic prizes, think tanks, promotion, publishing, and tenure. Academics, looking for an exit, ignored the attacks by the ruling oligarchy. They ascribed to the Christian fascists, bankrolled by huge corporations such as Tyson Foods, Purdue, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Warehouse, attributes that did not exist. They tacitly gave the Christian fascists religious legitimacy. These Christian fascists are an updated version of the so-called German Christian Church, or Deutsche Christen, which fused the iconography and symbols of the Christian religion with the Nazi party. The theologian Paul Tillich, the first non-Jewish German professor to be blacklisted from German universities by the Nazis, angrily chastised those who refused to fight “the paganism of the swastika” and retreated into a myopic preoccupation with personal piety.

Victor Klemperer, stripped of his position as a professor of Romance languages at the Technical University of Dresden when the Nazis came to power in 1933 because he was Jewish, mused in his diary in 1936 what he would do in post-Nazi Germany if  “the fate of the vanquished lay in my hands.” He wrote that he would “let all the ordinary folk go and even some of the leaders…But I would have all the intellectuals strung up, and the professors three feet higher than the rest; they would be left hanging from the lamp posts for as long as was compatible with hygiene.”

Fascists promise moral renewal, a return to a lost golden age. They use campaigns of moral purity to justify state repression. Adolf Hitler, days after he took power in January 1933, imposed a ban on all homosexual organizations. He ordered raids on homosexual clubs and bars, including the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin, and the permanent exile of its director, Magnus Hirschfeld. Thousands of volumes from the institute’s library were tossed into a bonfire. This “moral cleansing” was cheered on by the German public, including German churches. But the tactics, outside the law, swiftly legitimized what would soon be done to others.

I studied at Harvard with theologian James Luther Adams. Adams was a member of the underground anti-Nazi Confessing Church in Germany led by the Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. Adams was arrested in 1936 by the Gestapo and expelled from the country. He was one of the very few to see the deadly strains of fascism in the nascent Christian right.

“When you are my age,” he told us (he was then 80), “you will all be fighting the Christian fascists.”

And here we are.

The billionaire class, while sometimes socially liberal, dispossessed working men and women through deindustrialization, austerity, a legalized tax boycott, looting the U.S. Treasury and deregulation. It triggered the widespread despair and rage that pushed many of the betrayed into the arms of these con artists and demagogues. It is more than willing to accommodate the Christian fascists, even if it means abandoning the liberal veneer of inclusiveness. It has no intention of supporting social equality, which is why it thwarted the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. 

In the end, even the liberal class will choose fascism over empowering the left-wing and organized labor. The only thing the ruling oligarchy truly cares about is unfettered exploitation and profit. They, like the industrialists in Nazi Germany, will happily make an alliance with the Christian fascists, no matter how bizarre and buffoonish, and embrace the blood sacrifices of the condemned. 

(chrishedges.substack.com)

* * *

by Paine Proffitt

26 Comments

  1. Marshall Newman June 27, 2022

    Looking at “Catch of the Day” above, I wonder if “bad” hair begets bad behavior, or vice versa.

  2. gordon van zee June 27, 2022

    best paper on the planet

  3. k h June 27, 2022

    Tearing down Howard Hospital in Willits is a waste. Leaders will realize it many years later.

    It would have been the perfect location for the county psychiatric treatment center. If that’s off the table because the county wants to put it in a quiet residential neighborhood in south Ukiah (DUMB) other potential uses remain: a centrally located county emergency operations center, a temporary emergency shelter for residents in case of fires, a regional conference center or a Redwood Country visitors complex. Someone with vision could convert it to nice cohousing or age-in-place senior apartments like Brookside in Ukiah.

    • Lazarus June 27, 2022

      If Ole Howard is such a great place, why have there been no takers?
      The thing is a Hodge podge of bad additions, unimaginative remodeling, and cheap modular structures.
      There have been lookers, but everyone says the same thing, the building is junk. It would cost too much to make it usable. And if that were to happen, it is still an unremarkable 100-year-old teardown. Scrape off the site, and build some badly needed housing.
      Using it for any human habitat is a bad idea…Ask around.
      Laz

      • k h June 27, 2022

        The advantage of the Howard Foundation doing something with it is that (I assume) they already own the land (based on the letter above). If someone else has to buy the land AND pay to tear everything down, then pay to rebuild, repave, relandscape, etc, it drives the cost way up. Paving alone could be a million dollar investment.

        Not that many local developers have the wherewithal to pay millions for a tear down in a small town, then spend tens of millions more on a rebuild, go through the public permitting process and all the environmental requirements, and then wait for 10-30 years for the investment to pay for itself.

        Maybe the foundation and the county can talk about a public private partnership for lower cost housing. The county could help fund a tear down and rebuild, get mandated lower cost housing, and collect more property taxes. The foundation would have a long term rental income and could pay back the investment over time.

        Reduce, reuse, recycle used to be the way. But we don’t seem to be following that code nowadays. Although the city of Ukiah did turn an old elementary school into their civic center and it’s a fine addition to the downtown.

        Don’t know, really. Just musing about all the lost buildings and creative opportunities that we squander and regret later.

        • Lazarus June 27, 2022

          Willits needs housing for professionals, middle income, and the working poor. The views from the site are great, and there is a City maintained park boarding the street below. Multiuse housing would be the answer. But don’t expect the County to get involved with this.
          There’s a lot of talk about why the PHF did not happen there, but the developers and others think the County realized it was a money pit and moved on. The County owns Whitmore Lane, and even with the over 20mil estimate, Whitmore is a better deal than Ole Howard would have ever been.
          Be well,
          Laz

          • k h June 27, 2022

            How could it be more of a money pit than Whitmore Lane? The county rented the dormant care home in 2020 for $31,550 a month. They bought it for 2.2 million in August 2021. Then the roof collapsed. It is now 2022 and the estimates are it will cost $20 million dollars to retrofit.

            How could a working hospital facility that was in use until a few years ago cost more than that to utilize for psych patients?

            I agree Willits needs housing. I don’t expect much from the county when it comes to leadership or vision.

            • Mark Scaramella June 28, 2022

              Interesting exchange, but moot now. Mendo is committed to Whitmore Lane. I think parts of Old Howard are probably salvageable, but parts of it are indeed too old. Same with Whitmore Lane. It was a — what? — 90 bed nursing home and now they want a 16 bed PHF? And they plan to pay $20 million (a self-fulling prophecy-estimate that need not be anywhere near that much). Supposedly Not the Least (Nacht & Lewis) will present their inflated numbers soon when we’ll see what the overcharge will be and maybe what the condition is and how much can be salvaged. OSHPOD is expensive, but the only reason they’re planning for an oversized 16-bed facility is for financial reasons, Mendo doesn’t need 16 beds according to the Kemper report..

              • Marmon June 28, 2022

                Profit, sell beds to other counties. The Schraeders are probably looking ahead on getting a license to run the thing. If anyone thinks the County or the Schraeders are going to want some outsiders involved in Mental-cino’s number one money grab you need to be placed in one of their facilities.

                Marmon

                • Marmon June 28, 2022

                  The Schraeders have been having a hard time competing against Adventist Health’s Adult Mental Health services that are being provided here in Lake Co. The bed thing is a big deal and will give them a big leg up in eventually contracting with Lake County for adult care.

                  Marmon

            • Lazarus June 28, 2022

              Whitmore lane got acquired with Covid money. For a moment in time, it served as a facility for Covid patients.
              But comparing the economics of Whitmore and Old Howard is flawed. The majority of the mentally ill patients seem to be in Ukiah. Primarily among Ukiah’s rather obvious homeless population. And what might seem a minor issue would be the transportation of the patients from Ukiah to Willits. The ambulance service can barely handle the day-to-day duties they have now. And that’s only one strike against Ole Howard.
              Another reason is that Ukiah is the County Seat and the center of political power and money within the County.
              And then there’s, Willits did not want the PHF. The government did not want it, the police did not want it, the Fire Department did not want it, and many of the Willits citizens did not want it, and the issues it was sure to bring. One, two, three, and your out.
              Be well,
              Laz

  4. chuck dunbar June 27, 2022

    ED NOTES:

    “THEY’RE HERE, the fascists, and they have a bunch of smart, able candidates and officeholders like Vance and DeSantis…”

    Our sagacious editor nailed a brief description of Vance, yet another more able guy than Trump, but expertly hopping onboard his train and spouting a similar message.

    DeSantis was ably profiled in last week’s New Yorker (June 27th issue) by Dexter Filkins, a distinguisher reporter. I had known only a little about this guy, but now know more, none of it good. He is a smart, well-educated, driven, aggressive, politician, lacking in soul and ethics. And, like Trump, he is basically a fascist. Filkins note that he has often been described as “Trump with a brain.” His politicization of Covid—and refusal to employ common safety measures in Florida—cost that state many lives.

    A quotation regarding DeSantis’ lack of concern for public interests and feedback: “Those who work closely with him say that he is unique in his disregard for public opinion and the press. ‘Ron’s strength as a politician is that he doesn’t give a fuck,’ a Republican consultant who knows him told me. ‘Ron’s weakness as a politician is that he doesn’t give a fuck’…”

    Another Republican consultant, Stuart Stevens, who advised Romney’s presidential campaign, noted that DeSantis is following Trump’s playbook. “To me, Ron DeSantis is a fairly run-of-the-mill politician who will do anything to get elected…The problem is what the Party has become. It’s a race to the bottom.”

    These are both scary guys who just want power and privilege–again, like Trump–and do not seem deeply moved to serve the country and the people. God save us from them. We deserve–and desperately need–better leaders.

    • Bruce McEwen June 27, 2022

      No fear of either replacing Trump: the lowest common denominator of the Republican Party is viciously suspicious of any glimmerings of intelligence: “a race to the bottom,” says it all and the Democrats are no better in the swamp creatures they choose to run, because the two parties are virtually indistinguishable in their refusal to change a system that rewards their duplicity so lavishly!

  5. Stephen Rosenthal June 27, 2022

    “We deserve better—and desperately need—better leaders.”

    Do we? It was either Mark Twain or H. L. Mencken who wrote, “Every people gets the government they deserve.” Pretty prescient, in my opinion.

    • chuck dunbarc June 27, 2022

      There’s surely some truth to that, Stephen, but it also makes me shudder at the implications and consequences of that viewpoint…

      Despite the bleakness of it all, I am trying hard to look on the hopeful, brighter side…

    • Marshall Newman June 27, 2022

      We deserve better. Whether we get better is another matter.

  6. Stephen Rosenthal June 27, 2022

    Re Fascists in our Midst: Can’t help recalling what my grandmother, Bubbe Rosenthal, used to say – “Goyem, phooey!”

  7. Marmon June 27, 2022

    RE: COMMUNIST AMERICA

    “The Biden Administration is undermining our democracy by weaponizing law enforcement to go after political opponents, believing the “end justifies the means.” These are characteristics of a dictatorship/banana republic—not a democracy.”

    -Tulsi Gabbard 🌺

    Marmon

  8. Kirk Vodopals June 27, 2022

    Chris Hedges just got an annual subscription from me… I should have done it sooner, particularly at the moment that I saw Trump holding a Bible

  9. Marmon June 27, 2022

    The Supreme Court is 3 for 3.

    Guns, Life, and Prayer.

    Thank you President Trump!

    Marmon

    • Bruce McEwen June 27, 2022

      “And all you little heathens who ain’t Christian can just go wait in the hall while we have our prayer.”

      A return to those happy days! America Made Great Again — praise the Lord and pass the Wonder bread!

    • Marshall Newman June 27, 2022

      Terrible.

      • Bruce McEwen June 27, 2022

        Yes, all across the country the avaricious and their ignoramus minions are gloating exultantly.

  10. Bruce McEwen June 27, 2022

    The lowest common denominator of the Republican Party is Trump’s base, the seven million lazy stupid callous louts that the big boys at the top of the heap use to hold on to wealth and power. They will soon be in charge it looks like and quotes from the likes of Tulsi Gabbard will replace Mark Twain and Grandpa McEwen as the most quoted eminence in America.

  11. Bruce McEwen June 27, 2022

    This religious fervor, the parallel Hedges so deftly draws, between Hitler’s Germany and America’s Trump, this emerging fanaticism is the same monstrosity Voltaire and Swift were up against in the Eighteenth Century, and the satire they developed were used to fight it; the idea being that since it was coming from the immutable powers that be, a monstrosity that grew a hundred new heads for every one you swatted off, a cutting form of ridicule was needed because people were afraid of being laughed at. One of the most effective pieces was Swift’s “Modest Proposal” and his work forestalled some clever fascists (before the word was in use) from foisting brass coins on the Irish. Voltaire ridiculed the fanatics until they broke Le Barre on the wheel, cut off his hands (he was a poet critical of theological platitudes), ripped out his tongue and burnt his still breathing body in a public square (much the way Jim would like to me disposed of) and he left the country for asylum in Geneva.

    • Bruce McEwen June 27, 2022

      I say, you are so right my good man when you perceive the recurrence of this phenomena, the surges of Christian enthusiasm — like WOW (word over the world) back when the Jesus freaks were so cute even Dylan converted (go figure, eh Grandmother Bubbe?) to the faith but I have never been persuaded the missionaries ever really believed any of it themselves even though they could swear an oath through their teeth as sincerely as Terry Thomas or Bert Lancaster.

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