Interior Warming | Titus Memorial | Found Dead | Play Structure | Mill/Skunk Chat | Muchowski 60th | Ed Notes | Laundry Dance | Noyo Harbormaster | Colonel Wingnuts | Help Wanted | County Finances | Navarro Estuary | Night Out | New Courthouse | Falleris & Friend | Annotating Mo | Cassiopeia Skyfish | Jivan Om | Yesterday's Catch | Immense Accretion | Jim O'Donnell | Bostrodamus | Hayride | Dump Biden | Sadie Milliken | Endless Prosecution | Try Again | More War | Hoop Dreams
INTERIOR TEMPERATURES WILL WARM above normal this weekend and remain above normal early next week. Low clouds and patches of fog will blanket coastal areas night and morning hours, followed by clearing during the afternoons. (NWS)
35-YEAR-OLD MAN FOUND DEAD IN UKIAH VINEYARD — Death Investigation Underway
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Captain Greg Van Patten confirmed that on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, a dead man was found in a vineyard between Ukiah’s Norgard Lane and Plant Road. Captain Van Patten identified the decedent as 35-year-old Ukiah resident Justin Michael Malugani. At this point in the death investigation, a medical emergency or possible overdose appear to be contributing factors. There are no obvious signs suggesting foul play, Captain Van Patten told us, and an autopsy with a blood alcohol/toxicology analysis is slated for next week.…
ELIZABETH JENSEN: A great big thank you to Robert Lane for reviving one of the most well loved structures at our dear AV Community Park! With the help of donated lumber from two generous local wineries, he was able to create a safer play space for our kids.
Here’s to many NEW imaginary adventures for our littles, setting sail to far off lands from our humble little town of Boonville! Stay tuned for more! How can you help? If you have an interest in improving our local park or have resources that could help us make improvements, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Call me at 415-713-3833 or email email@example.com!
THE OLD MILL SITE (MCN Chat Line exchange)
So the City has a lawsuit, spending our money to try to get imminent domain on part of the Mill site.
Who is this really going to benefit if they win. No one as far as I can see.
Plans were developed years ago when Dan Gjerde was a Council Member with all kinds of grandiose ideas and plans for low impact and not much water usage etc and lots of homes etc. Nothing ever came of it after tons of meetings.
The land will continue to sit vacant and no development at all. I think it is a waste of the City's money to pursue a law suit even if they win because nothing is going to happen soon enough to save our town with housing, more medical services etc. Those who are opposed should go back 20 years ago and see the plans that were developed.
We all want the toxic waste cleaned up.
Let's ask how soon that will happen by the new owner.
We need to look forward to more than just tourist supporting us by imposing more taxes to support our City and County.
We need jobs and housing and some type of industry.
Noyo Harbor is like Disneyland and most of those businesses are in the County not City so tax dollars go to the County.
I just hope we can move forward and I would love to see the Tunnel open again and be able to take the train to Willits.
* * *
As far as the owners of the train are concerned, none of this has anything to do with anything. Their interest in all this is twofold: Get the rail line hooked up to the big railroad in Willits, so they can connect with it for hauling freight to the coast and build the garbage burner. The freight will include bringing in garbage to burn and possibly coal to ship to the orient from Wyoming.
The garbage burner is not zero emission. It will produce toxic fumes, a small amount, but very toxic fumes will be released into the air. The net impact will be to set Fort Bragg's future as a dirty industrial town, like it has been hirtorically with the mill.
* * *
Alan, I am one of the owners of the train and it is clear you know nothing about what interests us.
Your information on the newest gasification processes is wrong. It is not yet ready for market but if we're successful we could remove landfill waste in an environmentally friendly way. This could be one of the best things for the environment, yet because people are against us on other issues all they do is see the bad. And please know that we only added a facility as a possible item on the Mill Site because a former City Manager asked us to.
Finally, we have zero connection with the "Wyoming coal train". The idea of unit coal trains making there way to Fort Bragg and then being shipped (you think container ships from Noyo Harbor or Soldier Bay, really??) is preposterous. You are repeating false rumors.
PS. Thank you Jay for your post. Well said.
VP Business Development
Sierra Railroad Company
* * *
My circumstances aren't dire. You are reading too much into what I said. I was merely trying to point out that I am not one of the entitled individuals that you and Mr. Hart are attempting to paint me as. You both are much closer to that designation than I am.
So let's agree to leave each other alone. We are obviously of a different political leaning with different views on life. But I don't think of myself as a hero. I only attempt to open doors that others may want to ignore because of potential short sighted gains or are afraid that their pants might get pulled down.
With regards to Mendocino Railway and its parent corporation(s), I would suggest that you do a little more personal investigation rather than taking them at face value as the town's savior. They have and are turning people's lives upside down as we speak. Eminent domain takings of corporations that want to cooperate because it is good for their bottom line is one thing.
But when it extends to the citizenry and the citizen that is affected either doesn't have the financial resources to spend the 100k or so that it would cost to take it through the legal system to fight it, or, as in the case of John Meyer who is barely hanging on to make it to court when Mendo Railway has Eminent Domained his 23 acres with the far fetched claim that the railroad is going to use all of that property for railroad purposes, it becomes clear that Mendocino Railway is part of a larger trend of corporations taking private property based on a loophole in the system.
These properties will be land banked until the dust settles and then they will enter the marketplace again with profit margins well exceeding 100%.
Private corporate infiltration into communities is widespread. Fort Bragg is only now starting to see the first consequences of catering to them. Private corporate grooming organizations such as Citygate, (where Mr. Hart got his training, and where some of the newer city positions are coming from, ((police Chief?)) or similar organizations), that help tie private industry to city infrastructures while taking advantage of eminent domain loopholes and by inserting the appropriate corporate trained individuals into the proper positions who in turn ally themselves with the private corporate structure. This practice and long term planning will ensure that Mendocino Railway and its parent corp(s) will get a tithing on most everything that goes on in Fort Bragg in a very short period of time while the city infrastructure falls into complete decay.
* * *
It is amazing how you can take a bit of information - to impress everyone with your research and add credibility - and then you make up absolute false points. If you don't know they're false then you're careless, and if you know that they're false because they support your overall cause that is awful.
Citygate Associates was an amazing company that was led by Bill Carlson who was one of the most respected leaders in city management in the state.
The second in command was Dave DeRoos who has a specialty of helping municipalities and other public agencies that are having management problems. We occupied the second floor of the League of Cities Building.
Our company managed the California Redevelopment Association representing the 350 largest cities in the State and I served as the legislative analyst for several years. Back then, this was the main way cities tried to rebuild and address blight. While putting myself through USC getting my masters of public administration, I took a paid internship with them.
I did good work and they hired me. I then went on to our private practice where I revitalized downtowns across California. I accomplished dozens of projects up and down the state helping downtowns get back on their feet or compete with the big box retailers. I thought I c ould use this background to some good here in Fort Bragg since it is the exact type of community that I helped in my previous career.
I worked for Citygate up until my brother called me at my SF apartment in 1999 and asked me to come join him. I am extremely proud of the work I did in the 1990s for Citygate and it is insulting to some great people for you to call them a "corporate grooming center". You are so far out there in your hate or paranoia that you don't take the time to understand something before spewing it out as truth the community.
I think another one of your lies was us being an out-of-state oil owned company. The problem is you got the wrong Sierra Energy. Oops, wrong company. But you never corrected that we weren't the hedge fund, Koch Brothers, oil spewing company you made us out to be. Meanwhile, I've been stuck dealing with your falsehood for the past 9 months.
It is easy for you to keep throw this crude at people yet the moment I make one knock back at you for your house size (which is more than twice the size of mine, for what its worth) you get all taken aback that someone might say something about you. I have tried to take the high road for all these months while you continuously lie or make careless misstatements.
And what is shocking to me, is that you won't even take one minute to ask me about it. In a town of 7300 people, you have had an open invitation to discuss your concerns. Instead you trespass, harass, peak in windows, speak with workers who have no idea of how you'll use the conversation, and pretend you're some crusader fighting the good fight. Look I know I may make missteps or pick an approach that won't work, but I am here speaking openly, sharing information, and I will look you in the eye and stand behind my statements. When you get it wrong, you just say we're covering it up and jump to the next attack.
* * *
You probably believe what you say. And that's ok. It's gotten you over 400 acres of our community at fire sale prices. Doesn't make you right or noble or better than anyone in the community. Just makes you and other corps like you slicker than the citizenry you steal from. By the way, what about John Meyer? How do you justify that? I know you justified Lenora Shea by claiming to clean up a homeless camp and got the property for about 25 cents on the dollar because the family couldn't afford to object to the eminent domain. That will come back to bite you as well. Get off your holier than thou high horse Mr. Hart. You are dealing with real people, not numbers.
BUM FIRES, like the hay bales deliberately set ablaze just north of Ukiah this morning (Thursday), and several prior closer in to town, reminded me of that fascinating book that was big back when people still read books, ‘Wisconsin Death Trip.’ A little too macabre for many tastes, but for those of us who take our reality straight, or who are merely jaded, it's a fascinating history of recorded deaths, many of them unnatural, and arson fires in rural Wisconsin, circa late 19th century. Several of the arsons are retaliation by transient farm workers against employers they felt had cheated them. What we have in Mendocino County, especially inland, are fires set by homeless people angry at being rousted, or just plain angry, or carelessly loaded beyond caring.
SPELL CHECK underlined “rousted” as misspelled. So I googled it, and google doesn't have it listed as a word anywhere in its vast dictionaries, and not the first time I've wondered about google's reliability.
SHALL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN! Searching KZYX's on-line personnel roster for signs of the apparently disappeared Hispanic man recently hired as “News Director,” I saw the name, Eddie Haehl. Mr. Haehl functions as “production director,” whatever that entails, but he's got to be descended from the way-back 5th District supervisor, Ed Haehl, after whom Haehl Street in Boonville is named, and somehow also related to retired Ukiah attorney, Dan Haehl. Patriarch Ed Haehl made his home in Yorkville, I think. Back to the missing Hispanic “news director.” I've written to Ms. Durlin, station manager, asking her where he went, not that I expect to hear back. Mendolib disappears people regularly, always, of course, out of purest motives.
BACK TO THE FUTURE. Eyes only, Boonville. The school district's main office has been moved back to the high school where our dynamic superintendent, Louise Simson, will function as both superintendent and high school principal. Which is the way it used to be, and always should have been because a small district like ours doesn't need both positions, especially given Anderson Valley's declining, tiny and mostly docile high school population. As I recall, it was Phil Crawford, aka Wobbling Eagle, who cajoled his school board into separating the two functions, with him in his own office at the Elementary School where he wouldn't have to see or even hear a person under the age of 60. Superintendent Eagle may have been clinically nuts, a sad fact Boonville belatedly realized, and soon departed for two larger school districts where he managed to immediately unite students and staff in massive walkouts. When W.E. became a major media case for sabotaging public ed wherever he went, the state finally lifted his admin credential. Prior to him, the Boonville superintendent was a guy named Peterson who often locked himself in his office to down a fifth of whiskey, such was the stress of the job. Ms. Simson is clearly made of sterner stuff, and it's reassuring to have her in the dual job.
A CDC study reported in The Guardian, strengthens the case for organic farming. The study found that more than 80% of its urine samples contained glyphosate, the weed-killing, cancer-linked chemical found in products like Roundup. The Chron's ace wine writer, Esther Mobley, concluded that “in light of health concerns, more and more wineries are seeking alternative and natural methods.”
WE LIVE IN HOPE. The vineyards of Anderson Valley, most of them, are annually basted in chemicals with unknown long-term consequences for our flora, fauna, rivers and streams. And frogs, which have mostly disappeared from The Valley floor. Remember how after the rains thousands of tiny frogs hopped and bopped along Anderson Valley Way, so many of them locals would conscientiously try to steer around them, crying out as they went, “Good luck, Froggy. We're with you, dear little amphibs!” Not quite, but you get the point. The effects of chemical compounds on the hazmat-suited guys you see applying the stuff? We'd probably rather not know.
NEW NOYO HARBORMASTER FOCUSES ON IMPROVEMENTS
by Mary Benjamin
Before becoming the Harbormaster of the Noyo Harbor District, Anna Neumann worked as a crew member for a commercial fishing vessel, gathered tidal data for a non-profit, and even spent time as a driving instructor in Mexico. She earned a master’s degree in Fishing Policy from Oregon State University while working as a skilled fillet worker at Princess Seafoods.
Neumann’s long-time connection to the ocean is obvious, and her background knowledge and experience in differing aspects of the fishing industry are a bonus. Her life in Fort Bragg is established, and her sincere desire to be a positive agent of change on behalf of local fishermen and state policymakers is borne from her observations during her own time in the industry. In order to move into this arena, she needed that master’s degree. She explained, “I saw a huge disconnect between what policymakers were saying about what was happening with the fisheries and what was actually happening at the fisheries.” She added, “We don’t often see policymakers walk the docks.” She said there are no bad guys. It appears that Sacramento policymakers have the best of intentions, but very few of them have any working understanding of commercial fishing. “At meetings,” she said, “both sides seemed to talk past each other,” as if they spoke different languages.
Since she came on board in September of 2021 and finds herself as an administrator who manages the marina, supports the local commercial fishermen, and works to restore the infrastructure of her harbor district. It’s about honoring Noyo Harbor’s history, strengthening the economic and environmental health of the fishing industry, and tying together the people who work in that industry to the community that benefits from the hard work of dedicated, local fishing families. All of Neumann’s experiences play into her challenges as a harbormaster. She knows the fisherman, has worked directly with the public, understands government policy, and has connections to non-profit groups that can be of help to her goals.
How well the harbor district flourishes will depend on the friendly and supervisory goodwill that Neumann extends to all who enter the fishing village and her commitment to finding funding from grant sources. Moreover, she must attend to needs large and small, from rusted-out cleats to keeping hoists available, from assigning marina slips to overseeing fish sales at the docks, from dealing with abandoned boats to making Grader Park available for the annual Salmon BBQ. She can’t neglect warped boarding either. Fifty years of wear and decay of the infrastructure is noticeable to anyone.
Neumann’s challenges are many, and all of them are inherited. The Noyo Harbor District is its own jurisdiction and must determine its own funding. There is a board of five commissioners, two appointed by Fort Bragg’s City Council, two appointed by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, and a jointly appointed chairperson. The harbor district’s budget is mostly dependent upon marina slip rentals and taxes from businesses with docks on submerged tidelands. A little funding comes from property taxes via the county. Neumann noted that she relies on launch fees during a strong recreational fishing season when “every day the parking lot will be filled.” A small parking fee is charged as well.
Neumann has a very small staff of four people to assist her— an administrative assistant, a full-time maintenance crew of two, and one part-time maintenance worker for the weekends, and has divided her daily routines into two cycles determined by the weather. Good weather days require constant marina management as boats come and go. Windy days are dedicated to grant writing, office work, and overseeing maintenance projects. A few times a week, you can find her on-site by 5:00 a.m. helping unload drag boats until 8:00 a.m. She maintains office hours from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. She is a whirlwind constantly spinning through the North and South harbors.
Neumann does have a priority list based on the 2019 Marina Re-Development Plan and the 2019 Community Sustainability Plan. The recommendations in both documents are hefty, and the expense of meeting all the goals is well over ten million dollars. Also, each plan has its own focus and purpose. In general, both plans specify specific additions, upgrades, and refurbishments within the entire area owned by the district. The Marina Re-Development recommends a three-year plan to revitalize physical aspects such as the replacement of docks, another dredging of the harbor basin, repairs to the harbor’s wave wall, construction of a fuel dock, facilities for hazmat disposal, and new laundry and bathroom facilities.
At this time, Neumann is concentrating on acquiring grant funding for the removal of abandoned boats, the construction of a new fish cleaning station, upgrades to Grader Park to make it more amenable to group rentals, and replacement of old cleats and pile hooks for tsunami preparedness. The Coastal Commission will need to approve plans for a fuel dock once environmental studies are completed. Neumann also has mooring base reconstruction in her sight which would include electrical safety upgrades.
The Sustainability Plan focuses on the long history of commercial fishing which needs support to remain a viable economic center. It notes all the items listed in the Marina Plan, but its viewpoint is that of the local fishermen, most of whom operate their small vessels as the family business. Economic, environmental, and regulatory changes have deeply affected the industry in the past ten years or so. For example, the canceled salmon season of 2008-2009 left local fishermen and their families without income for five months, waiting for federal disaster relief.
Neumann takes comfort in local fishery management to prevent overfishing of multiple stocks of other good-eating fish. She is pleased that the Noyo Science Center has taken over the use of the Carine building and will open the Slack Tide Cafe. She said, “They do a great job of communicating the needs of the ocean community. I’m excited to see them expand and what they can bring into the marina.” She also points to the non-profit, sponsored urchin removal project employing local divers. Purple urchins are the primary predators of the kelp beds. The urchin population has exploded, and they have been chomping their way toward eliminating kelp altogether.
Neumann said, “Kelp is a basic part of the ecosystem. There’s a nursery ground and habitat for juveniles. If we don’t get some kind of kelp recovery back, then I think that’s going to trickle down the food chain to potentially reduced rockfish stocks and lingcod stocks.” These fish have become a vital resource for local fishermen who could not suffer from the loss of more fish popular with the public. Everything is interconnected.
Neumann has the background of experience and education to act on the needs of a smaller fishing fleet still working out of the Noyo Harbor. To uninformed outsiders, it may seem of no critical consequence whether the fleet sustains a successful industry or doesn’t. The Noyo Harbor may be small, but it is an all-weather port, one of four main fishing ports between San Francisco and the Oregon border. It is also the only harbor of refuge between Bodega Bay and Humbolt Bay. It ranks in the top ten commercial ports in California, and 43% of the marina’s slips are occupied by commercial vessels.
One of Neumann’s goals is to connect the local community with local fishermen. She points out that there is a fish market in the South Harbor every second Saturday of the month. Neumann said, “It’s a great opportunity for them to come out and meet fishermen. We have a great local connection to seafood. They can often buy fresh fish directly from the docks. It’s a great way to know your fishermen, know that your food is coming fresh, and help support small families in the meantime.” Neumann recommends the public watch for flyers posted around town advertising independent fish sales on other Saturdays. Neumann commented, “I feel there’s a missed connection between a community that loves to eat fish and fishermen who love to sell fish.”
Neumann is also an ardent fan of Fort Bragg. Growing up in the foggy coastal town of Morro Bay has acclimated her to Fort Bragg’s typical climate. She said, “I love this community. It’s beautiful and tiny and you know everyone. Folks are nice and they’re helpful, They’re actually interested in how your day is going. It’s just a really unique, small-town up here.” Being a dedicated harbormaster brought her thoughts back to the concerns of the local fishermen. “We need to make sure the infrastructure is there to meet their needs. We’re supporting our friends and neighbors in the most basic way they’re making a living.” In spite of all her duties, she will definitely not be sidelining fostering community support for its hardworking fleet out on the waters and the harbor it comes home to.
(courtesy, the Fort Bragg Advocate)
HELP WANTED IN CASPAR
Basic yard work and maintenance.
One day per week, 4-5 hours @$25 per hr.
Bill 707 961 6127
ON LINE COMMENT re County Finances
So just how bad are county finances? Worse than thought so says Supe Williams. And who was last in charge of our county finances? The last CEO, the current Board? And if they can threaten all department heads with the overages of their departments per State Law (like the Sheriff was threatened) then why isn’t anyone attempting to lay the mismanagement of county finances at the very feet of the ones in charge? Hmmmm? Why?
FORT BRAGG: National Night Out on August 2nd! Enjoy free food, music and fun for the entire community with the Fort Bragg Police Department at National Night Out 2022 on Tuesday, August 2nd at Bainbridge Park.
ON LINE COMMENT Re: New Courthouse/Train Depot Site by “Izzy”:
From the provided elevations, it looks like a larger version of the sterile box of a building that will be left behind. Wonder what will actually happen to that – the old PO on Oak St is still sitting empty (behind a chain-link fence), as is what’s left of the Palace Hotel. The historical Train Depot would have made a better model to emulate. That will probably become a trendy lunch spot for all the new local foot traffic, and foot-sore travelers off the Great Redwood Travail. Unless the lights go out first. “Exciting”, eh?
ANNOTATING SUPERVISOR MULHEREN
by Mark Scaramella
(based on Supervisor Mulheren’s County matters facebook post):
Mulheren: “During the Budget discussions this year [in June] the Board voted to use $4.6 million in ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] funds to reduce the $7.7 million health plan deficit. We all agreed that we couldn’t ask our employees to take on that expense along with inflation that we are currently experiencing and the benefits team is currently undergoing the process of looking for a different health fund that would balance the costs of the claim without putting the burden back on our employees. Because each employee’s health plan is different I don’t know off the top of my head the savings experienced by each employee but the simple math is $4,000 per employee last year. That would have been a huge hit in people’s wallets. We still have an estimated deficit of $3 million for this year that we need to figure out how to pay for.”
MARK SCARAMELLA: Has anyone ever asked why the health plan is so expensive? Why so many employees are suffering such (sometimes) costly health problems? And why the County’s pathetic and silly “wellness” program doesn’t even try to address it?
Mulheren: “Each month the CEO Report lists unfilled positions in each department. The Board asked staff to change/add more recruitments especially for hard to fill positions in the Sheriff’s Office and Social Services…”
ms: “Each month”? No, last month the vacancy chart was not in the report. Nobody expressed any curiousity about why it mysteriously disappeared from the CEO Report at the same time that the Board’s June request for a list of funded and unfunded vacancies was suddenly moved to a closed session discussion. We will take the word of the Supervisor that somebody named “staff” was “asked” to do something about recruitments, but without more particulars or a date certain the request will probably fade into obscurity like the other stuff the Board “asks for” but never gets.
Mulheren: “This is coming out of the pandemic and the ‘Great Resignation’ where many people retired and others quit their jobs to change career paths.”
ms: Not really. Nice try to shift the blame away from the Supervisors. But in Mendo people are quitting because of bad management, low pay, stress and over-work. Blaming it on the “great resignation” is a lame excuse for the Board not addressing the problem for lo these many months.
Mulheren: “We know that housing costs are high here and there isn’t much available stock. I expect the Bella Vista project on the south end of town [Ukiah] will be coming forward at the end of the summer to Planning Commission but it will take years to build those houses.”
ms: “Years”? We doubt it’ll happen at all, given the history of Garden’s Gate and Lover’s Lane, et al, lost in the giant morass of planning processes and paperwork and an undertaffed planning department. A responsible Supervisor would be asking why it takes “years” and what can be done to speed things up, not taking it as a given.
Mulheren: “I’d like to think about what we can do to improve morale within the agency. [“Agency” unspecified.] It’s very hard to attract employees if you can’t keep the ones you have happy.”
ms: The Supervisor has to “think about” how to improve morale? She might try listening to her own line staff? Or figuring out a way to raise pay to at least keep up with inflation? You might be surprised how much a fair wage improves morale.
Mulheren: “HR [Human Resources] has many leadership and wellness incentives and right now.”
ms: “Leadership incentives”? “Wellness incentives”? If the health plan problems are as bad as the Supervisor says, maybe they should re-think the “wellness incentivies,” not to mention the entire wellness program, which from what we’ve heard is silly and ineffectual.
Mulheren: “I’m reading one of the books about leadership, it’s about how they changed the culture of hierarchy of leadership on submarines.”
ms: Oh yes, very appropriate. Please educate us on the valuable lessons from under the sea, and which ones you’re putting into practice.
Mulheren: “Shifting government culture can be a challenge but I think we can get there if we can get past the ‘we’ve always done it this way’.”
ms: Supervisor Mulheren could start by listing the some of the things that they’ve “always done this way” which should be examined and reformed. We can think of several — starting in the Planning Department and Human Resources mentioned above — but we doubt the Supervisor is serious about changing any of them or taking in any new suggestions.
Mulheren: “What more can we do for recruitment?”
ms: Mendo could start by having their [ironically] understaffed Human Resources department provide the Board with a list of positions in recruitment and how long it takes/is taking to recruit and employ a new employee. At present Mendo uses a state-run employment service called the “Merit System Services Program” for most Social Services recruitments and hires.
Lots of Mendo job classifications have to go through this time-consuming, extraneous, out-of-county drill, most of them in Social Services which happens to have one of the highest vacancy rates: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/hr/cgi-bin/specs.pl
Who decided which classifications must be run through merit systems? Mendo could start by simply reclassifying those jobs to eliminate the merit systems process, especially in those “hard to recruit” positions Supervisor Mulheren is worried about. It is a ridiculously time-consuming and sluggish process which, among other problems, requires applicants to wait for weeks or months to find out if their application is being processed, much less if they’re being hired. If a job applicant has to wait weeks or months to find out the status of their application or even if they’re going to be hired, guess what they’ll generally do?
Mulheren: “I love the work Social Services is doing to share the stories of people working there.”
ms: We do too. But when those “stories” involve bad working conditions, management has to do more than “share” them.
Mulheren: “What can we do to recruit more law enforcement officers?”
ms: Good question. We know that Sheriff Kendall has some good ideas. Have you bothered to ask him?
Mulheren: “Each year the departments bring forward their position allocation tables yet there is little movement on ‘old’ positions. This is the way it’s been for decades. What’s it going to take to shift that culture?”
ms: Probably more leadership and fewer “leadership incentives.”
Mulheren: “I’ve heard from employers that when potential businesses check our economic data the amount of employees the County has is a turn off, when the Government is one of the largest employers.”
ms: Funny, Camille Schraeder hasn’t complained about that. (If we have to explain that somewhat obsure observation, we’re already beyond rational discussion of this problem.)
Mulheren: “We sit at around 1100 employees and about 1400 positions. Many of those vacant positions are law enforcement, and Social Services/Behavioral Health/Public Health where we are reimbursed essentially from State and Federal dollars and the departments have minimal effect on the General Fund.”
ms: More accurate distinctions are required from the Supervisor here. First, we need to see the list of funded and unfunded vacancy and which funds their pay comes out of that the Board asked for last month but which got buried in closed session. Then the Supervisor needs to understand that “law enforcement positions” are not “reimbursed essentially from the state.”
Mulheren: “Then we have smaller departments like Ag, P&B [Planning and Building], Assessor, ATTC which are essential functions and ‘revenue generators’ that we need to build capacity in our General Fund.”
ms: 1. ATTC is the Board’s acronym for the newly created Auditor-Treasurer-Tax Collector position which the Supervisor should at least spell out when discussing and not assume that everyone’s paying even the slightest amount of attention to such things. 2. You don’t need to “build capacity in your general fund,” Supervisor. You need to collect taxes.
Mulheren: “I can’t imagine which department could withstand personnel cuts, but as I’ve said during meetings, we need to pay the people that are doing the work…”
ms: Then do it.
Mulheren: “Maybe that means getting more creative with the position tables, changing minimum requirements, open to suggestions.”
ms: Ok. Here’s a creative suggestion, albeit somewhat obvious and repetitive: Pay them more.
Mulheren: “I want to note that recruitment across the Country is a challenge right now, this isn’t just a Mendocino County problem. What can we do differently?”
ms: Asked and answered.
GREETINGS, JIVE-O MUKTOS
God Realization and the Implosion of Postmodern Earth and its Inhabitants
Very warmest spiritual greetings, As Jivan Muktas, we realize that we are not these bodies nor these minds. One's true self is the Eternal Witness. Woke up today at a fashionably late 11AM at the Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California USA. Following morning ablutions, performed the voluntary trash & recycling chore, and then headed out to the Ukiah Co-op. A cup of their fine organic coffee washed down an egg salad sandwich, enjoyed in the air conditioned cafe. Ambled onward to the Ukiah Public Library to read all of the horrifying news that's fit to print in today's New York Times. It is all a global insane chaotic self destructive crazy suicidal destruction scenario, detailed seven days per week.
I am seeking others to form a direct action oriented spiritual group. I have $1500, good health at 72 years of age, and am clear in mind and pure of heart. What are we waiting for? Thanks!
Craig Louis Stehr
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 14, 2022
KATLYNN ANDERSON, Ukiah. Under influence, unlawful display of auto registration.
JAMES EADS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
FRANKLIN PATTY, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, county parole violation.
GINA ROYBAL, Santa Rosa/Fort Bragg. Taking vehicle withouit owner’s consent.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
You will recall that a few days ago my wife and I ate at a booth in the Edison Diner and that a woman of an estimated 400 pounds with huge tattoos sat at a table very nearby. To describe this woman I tried with only minimal success to employ the descriptive powers of Edith Wharton who, in her novel The Age of Innocence, wrote the following about an obese woman:
“The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon. She had accepted this submergence as philosophically as all her other trials, and now, in extreme old age, was rewarded by presenting to her mirror an almost unwrinkled expanse of firm pink and white flesh, in the center of which the traces of a small face survived as if awaiting excavation.”
SUSIE'S BLUE BAR & OTHER HACKS & HIJINKS
I am disappointed at never having been to Nantucket. In his book "Fresh Air Fiend" Paul Theroux paddled himself to Nantucket. I regret never having been to a sing-along messiah. The crooked straight, the cooooked straight, and the rough places plain.
With two or three words typed on your computer you may get all of the pornography you can stand. It goes on and on. In pre-revolutionary Cuba you could see pornography live in a theater for one dollar. On and on it goes with a cast of thousands, a larger cast than football, basketball, baseball and hockey combined. Pornography is America's number one spectator sport. Gabrielle Garcia Marquez saw Hemingway on the other side of the street in Paris. He shouted out "Maestro!" Hemingway shouted back "Adios amigo." I have read Sherwood Anderson but I did not know she was a female.
As I mentioned four months ago, Vladimir Putin will have two be dealt with in Russia. NATO is scared that Putin has nuclear capabilities and will use them. Putin knows he can get away with destroying cities and killing children.
It used to be that a writer of books spent more money for cigarettes while writing the book than he got paid from the book sales.
I have read for "briefly noted" in the New Yorker each week. About 200 year, 2000 every 10 years, and I've never seen one I would like to read. Once in awhile a child is born with a pigtail. The most recent was a girl in Missouri. The tail was cut off.
Mr. Biden has very low approval ratings. I ask those who criticize him what exactly he has done? What do you need him to have done differently? Who do you suggest? Would you rather have his job? I thought he screwed up the departure from Afghanistan by advertising that he was going to leave in advance. Ron Desantis says schools in Mendocino County have a drag queen story time each day. Question: What is the meaning of the word "naive"? Answer: people who are influenced by Bruce Anderson's writing about Mike Sweeney (32 years), Mike Thompson and friends (31.5 years), Richard Shoemaker, Richard Johnson, David Colfax, Dan Hamburg, Jared Hoffman, Mike McGuire and Jim Wood.
I thought a tricky basketball idea. Each team would have four players who pass, dribble and shoot and one player who is kind of a goalie whose job it is to retrieve all the balls that were shot whether or not a ball went through the hoop and pass the ball to a teammate. The four players would have red bands around their heads so that the goalie can easily see them. This will result in more shooting attempts. The goalie is in a better position to see balls in the air and get under the hoop quicker.
There are now 13 judicial districts, up from nine. There should be 13 justices. You didn't like my idea to trade for Fidel for Clarence Thomas 25 years ago.
Adventures in the copra trade. Copra has always been a big part of the South Pacific economy. Copra is a coconut product. The island of Cebu in the southern Philippines is covered with coconut palms. Cebu city is probably the largest copra port in the world. The waterfront, about two blocks long, has a about a dozen piers. There are always several ships loading coconut copra including bulk coconut oil. Across the street from the piers are almost exclusively bars and their hostesses to service hundreds of seamen day and night. It's a very competitive business with more girls than customers. The girls have to hustle in order to get a date for the night. I can't tell you what the girls say about each other to get an "edge" because it will never pass Marquess's moral code to be printed in the AVA. Some of the bars have a printed list of names of girls working there posted outside the door. One bar is called "Susie's Blue Bar." Everything is painted a hideous dark blue and all the girls wear costumes of the same color which barely covers their private parts. Enterprising Susie also has an old bus which slowly runs up and down the waterfront street named "Susie's Blue Bus" painted the same dark blue. There are two or three girls on the bus you can make "arrangements" with, plus a cooler stocked with a dozen cans of San Miguel, Philippines' national and only beer. South of Cebu is the island of Mindanao. Next we come to a "pineapple port" (canned) named Bugo. It's about 10 miles from the town of Cagayan de oro where there is a large night fish market. The fish have to be sold right away. No refrigeration. One block square. Crowded and smoky oil lamps on tables of many varieties of fish. Wooden tables piled high with fish. At a kiosk I found a copy of the international issue of Time magazine in Bugo. There is a dock for one ship in one building made entirely out of bamboo. A nightclub. It looked like the operation elsewhere. Scantily clad hostesses and several rooms are in back. Once you went back with a hostess you found out that all of the entertainers were transvestites. All sex was oral. In the Philippines they are called "billy boys." When we had loaded some pineapple for Oakland we found two of our crew members tied to a palm tree. They must have drunk too much San Miguel and misbehaved. We stopped in Manila to pick up several wicker baskets with handles. Mangoes for Hong Kong. Thousands of them. Many families live on junks in Hong Kong harbor. If your ship anchors in the harbor and the gainway goes down, teenage girls come aboard without a word and head for the showers. They know where they are. When they are finished they quietly leave. Food in Hong Kong may have the same name as Chinese food in the United States but it's not the same. Once I was on a ship in New York headed for Curacao. We ran into a big storm off New Jersey. A lot of birds were blown out to sea and about 50 of them landed on the ship. The crew did everything they could think of to keep those birds alive. Every kind of seeds, water, etc. But when we reached Curacao they were all dead.
That reminds me of another trip to Curacao. I got on a tanker in Stockton loaded with jet fuel in Martinez for Hawaii. We discharged in Pearl Harbor, then went to Venezuela and loaded Arctic diesel for Newfoundland (not Annie Proulx side) and Labrador. Going up to Goose Bay we were directly behind an icebreaker but managed to cause a huge break in the bow. That's not a good place to break down. So everything was pumped out and we were sticking up in the air. We slowly made our way down to a shipyard in Curacao. After getting patched up we went back to Stockton where we started.
I forgot to mention that a prisoner of war camp was built during the war in Curacao and it was converted into an entertainment location named Camp Allegro. Girls are recruited from Central America for three months, then sent back home. Then another group is recruited for three more months.
GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING SHOULD DUMP BIDEN And Clear The Path For A Better Nominee In 2024
by Norman Solomon
Pundits are focused on Joe Biden’s tanking poll numbers, while progressives continue to be alarmed by his dismal job performance. Under the apt headline “President Biden Is Not Cutting the Mustard,” last week The American Prospect summed up: “Young people are abandoning him in droves because he won’t fight for their rights and freedom.” Ryan Cooper wrote that “at a time when Democrats are desperate for leadership -- especially some kind of strategy to deal with a lawless and extreme Supreme Court -- he is missing in action.”
Yes, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema team up with Republicans to stymie vital measures. But the president’s refusal to issue executive orders that could enact such popular measures as canceling student debt and many other policies has been part of a derelict approach as national crises deepen. Recent events have dramatized the downward Biden spiral.
Biden’s slow and anemic response to the Supreme Court’s long-expected Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade spotlighted the magnitude of the stakes and the failure. The grim outlook has been underscored by arrogance toward progressive activists. Consider this statement from White House communications director Kate Bedingfield last weekend as she reacted to wide criticism: “Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party. It’s to deliver help to women who are in danger and assemble a broad-based coalition to defend a woman’s right to choose now, just as he assembled such a coalition to win during the 2020 campaign.”
The traditional response to such arrogance from the White House toward the incumbent’s party base is to grin -- or, more likely, grimace -- and bear it. But that’s a serious error for concerned individuals and organizations. Serving as enablers to bad policies and bad politics is hardly wise.
Polling released by the New York Times on Monday highlighted that most of Biden’s own party doesn’t want him to run for re-election, “with 64 percent of Democratic voters saying they would prefer a new standard-bearer in the 2024 presidential campaign.” And, “only 26 percent of Democratic voters said the party should renominate him.”
A former ambassador to Portugal who was appointed by President Obama, Allan Katz, has made a strong case for Biden to announce now that he won’t run for re-election. Writing for Newsweek under the headline “President Biden: I’m Begging You -- Don’t Run in 2024. Our Country Needs You to Stand Down,” Katz contended that such an announcement from Biden would remove an albatross from the necks of Democrats facing tough elections in the midterms.
In short, to defeat as many Republicans as possible this fall, Biden should be seen as a one-term president who will not seek the Democratic nomination in 2024.
Why push forward with this goal? The #DontRunJoe campaign that our team at RootsAction launched this week offers this explanation: “We felt impelled to intervene at this time because while there is a mainstream media debate raging over whether Joe Biden should run again, that discussion is too narrow and lacking in substance -- focused largely on his age or latest poll numbers. We object to Biden running in 2024 because of his job performance as president. He has proven incapable of effectively leading for policies so badly needed by working people and the planet, including policies he promised as a candidate.”
It’s no secret that Republicans are very likely to win the House this November, probably by a large margin. And the neofascist GOP has a good chance of winning the Senate as well, although that could be very close. Defeating Republicans will be hindered to the extent that progressive and liberal forces circle the political wagons around an unpopular president in a defense of the unacceptable status quo.
While voters must be encouraged to support Democrats -- the only way to beat Republicans -- in key congressional races this fall, that should not mean signing onto a quest to renew Biden’s lease on the White House. RootsAction has emphasized: “While we are announcing the Don’t Run Joe campaign now, we are urging progressive, anti-racist, feminist and pro-working-class activists to focus on defeating the right wing in this November’s elections. Our all-out launch will come on November 9, 2022 -- the day after those midterm elections.”
With all the bad news and negative polling about Biden in recent weeks, the folly of touting him for a second term has come into sharp focus. While the president insists that he plans to run again, he has left himself an escape hatch by saying that will happen assuming he’s in good health. But what we should do is insist that -- whatever his personal health might be -- the health of the country comes first. Democratic candidates this fall should not be hobbled by the pretense that they’re asking voters to support a scenario of six more years for President Biden.
It’s time to create a grassroots groundswell that can compel Joe Biden to give public notice -- preferably soon -- that he won’t provide an assist to Republican forces by trying to extend his presidency for another four years. A pledge to voluntarily retire at the end of his first term would boost the Democratic Party’s chances of getting a stronger and more progressive ticket in 2024 -- and would convey in the meantime that Democratic candidates and the Biden presidency are not one and the same.
(Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of a dozen books including "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State," published this year in a new edition as a free e-book. His other books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)
ON THE POLITICAL EFFICACY OF TRUMP'S ENDLESS PROSECUTION
As more and more effort is spent trying to put Donald Trump behind bars, he keeps growing politically. Is it time to wonder if there's a connection?
by Matt Taibbi
Wednesday night was meant to be the grand primetime finale of the January 6th hearings, but those have been postponed. MSNBC’s Ali Vitali, when asked the reason, answered in classic fashion. “Look,” she said. “You have to infer that the reason for that is they’re getting new cooperation, not least of which from former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone…”
Do we? Have to infer that? From George Nader to Michael Cohen to Hope Hicks to Michael Flynn to Don McGahn to Alexander Vindman to Cassidy Hutchinson to a long, long list of others, we’ve been repeatedly told the key Bearer Of Secrets had turned states evidence, and the “John Dean moment” was here. Do you remember the New Yorker article from the summer of 2018, “Allen Weisselberg, the Man Who Knows Donald Trump’s Financial Secrets, Has Agreed to Become a Coöperating Witness”? The one containing the line, “Allen is the one guy who knows everything”?
No? Neither had I. But it happened, another moment crumpled up and thrown at the bottom of what in the rearview mirror now looks like an enormous mountain of lost opportunity, a Giza Necropolis of spent political capital. Getting Trump indicted has seemed just around the corner for six long years now, but the action of every final showdown always unfolded like a Kafka novel, where the punchline of the Land Surveyor’s valiant and entertaining search for justice was that it never got him over even the first in a thousand lifetimes of the obstacles it turned out he needed to best to reach the center of the Castle.
This still feels like that. Is this really the end, or barely just starting?
I’d planned to live-blog the hearings this evening over an introduction of the six-year history of the “We’ve definitely got him now!” show. Hearings are off, but it’s all worth reviewing anyway, especially since other events are conspiring to answer the question of just what all these years of efforts have won Democrats politically? Which seems to be, not much.
The Endless Prosecution not only failed to win Trump’s accusers the public’s loyalty, it apparently achieved the opposite, somehow swinging working-class and even nonwhite voters toward Republicans in what even Axios this week called a “seismic shift” in American politics.
Democrats six years ago were presented with a unique opportunity, one so obvious even Donald Trump figured it out. The electorate was angry, beaten down, and willing to listen to anyone with a real plan, and instead of providing one — the obvious project would have involved throwing over some key donors for a while, then ripping off the populist politics of Bernie Sanders to re-sell them with slicker packaging — party leaders spent all their currency trying to sue, indict, impeach, remove, or jail Trump.
It’s an extraordinary story that’s gotten almost no attention, even as the Endless Prosecution has become a permanent feature of American life. Trump has become America’s Goldstein, increasingly invisible yet still always conniving to overthrow “democracy itself” through a succession of ever-bolder and more desperate schemes. Why, just recently he tried to call a White House support staffer who was “in talks with the January 6th panel,” meaning even at this late date he is seeking to obstruct justice still! Yet somehow he always escapes the promised reckoning, even as he lives high on the hog, right in our midst.
People have forgotten how long this has been going on. You can go back to November of 2016, when a group of six members of the Electoral College signed on to an effort to “deny Trump the presidency but also to undermine the legitimacy of the institution” in a hope of stopping Trump by getting 37 Republican electors to convert. Or, go back and read the December 15, 2016 Vanity Fair article, “Democrats are Paving the Way to Impeach Donald Trump,” which described how a series of legislators including Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, and Chris Coons introduced a bill requiring Trump to divest himself of foreign holdings, with the failure to comply constituting a constitutional violation. We heard over and over that he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which led groups like ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.Org (the site should have a jazzier name now, like StillImpeachingDonaldTrumpNow.Org) to push this as one of the first impeachment angles. When Trump was inaugurated, we heard promises to pull out all the stops to reverse the election, with none other than Michael Moore appearing in MacPherson Square to say, “I will not tolerate this again,” a scene highlighted by the Washington Post in a piece called, “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.” The first mention of Trump’s name next to the word “president” in that paper was in conjunction with impeachment.
Texas Democrat Al Green made one of the earliest efforts to impeach for “Inciting Hatred and Hostility” and got 66 votes, then there was an idea about impeaching over relationships to China (which provisionally granted Trump 38 trademarks, including for an escort service!), followed by Senator Angus King suggesting Trump be impeached for appearing to ask Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn (after which now-long-deceased John McCain said matters had reached “Watergate scope and size”); then there was talk of setting up an “impeachment clock” after Trump fired Comey, and articles were prepared by congressman Brad Sherman over obstruction of the Russia investigation as far back as July of 2017 (this idea would resurface over and over).
Next came an effort to remove him for failure of “moral leadership” after Charlottesville, followed by an effort to impeach for “undermining the independence of the federal judiciary” and “the freedom of the press,” all of which overlapped with a half-official, half-media-driven campaign to remove Trump as unfit under the 25th Amendment. Then it was emoluments again, then hearings on the Stormy Daniels matter, and high-profile interrogations of close aides like Michael Cohen that were hyped as the long-awaited Dean moments, except they never led anywhere.
When the Mueller Report was released, efforts to remove Trump actually stalled for a hot moment, with a depressed Steny Hoyer saying, “Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point.”
Then, after another lull following the momentum-cratering testimony of seeming hospice escapee Robert Mueller, and still one more downer after a judge threw out the DNC’s “collusion” lawsuit against Trump, Julian Assange, and the Russian state, the impeachment game moved seamlessly to Ukrainegate. That scandal ate up a year or so of our lives beginning in the fall of 2019, followed by a succession of congressional and litigious efforts to get access to Trump’s finances that among other things led to the Supreme Court case, Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, which failed to deliver again as the court passed on separation of powers grounds.
Then in the last year of his presidency there was new talk of removing Trump over his failure of leadership during the Covid crisis, for his infamous interview with Bob Woodward in which he said he “played down” the danger of the virus for political reasons, then for alleged pre-interference with the mail system, then for inaction over “Bountygate,” just to name a few pursuits. Then came the actual election, which set in motion the series of seemingly far more serious events leading to the current series of investigations: Trump’s denial of election results, his alleged interference with vote counts in places like Georgia, and his role in the January 6th riots, all of which seemed serious enough that the New Yorker was able to write with a straight face two weeks ago, “A Potential Criminal Prosecution of Donald Trump Is Growing Closer.”
For the moment I’d prefer to bypass entirely the question of which of all those offenses Trump was actually guilty (my guess would be some, including some of the serious ones, but then you’d also have to send cops in the other direction over similarly serious matters like the sham Russiagate probe), and just look at what all of this has accomplished politically. The “Boy Who Cried Wolf” factor is so massive that some would-be Trump detractors in the center-right may have blown off even the more alarming elements of the January 6th story (like the “You heard him, Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it” testimony by Hutchinson) on general principle. The Cry Wolf phenomenon gets worse every time national media overreacts to what any decent editor should recognize as relatively minor historical events. The New York Times for instance pulled out its ALLIED ARMIES LAND IN FRANCE font for the recent Trump-grabbing-steering-wheel story that turned out to have about nineteen holes in it.
This has been going on for so long, most Americans would feel odd, as if a limb were missing, if this were to end. Trump’s been out of office for two years but both the news media and Trump’s political enemies seem determined to keep him at the center of American life, not just as a media character but as a real political threat.
The January 6th hearings do feel climactic. However, as they’ve progressed, it’s been manifestly obvious they’re not having the desired effect politically. This week saw the release of a stunning New York Times/Siena poll showing Democrats now have more of a foothold with white college graduates than with nonwhite voters. The major shift was with Hispanic/Latino voters, where Joe Biden’s net approval rating has declined by 71%, going from a +40 rating to -31 since January of 2021.
There are polls showing Trump ahead of Biden in a theoretical matchup by five points or more, with Trump crucially holding his support levels throughout the January 6th hearings. A more amazing poll involved the American Federation of Teachers, which for the first time in a gazillion years showed members of a teachers’ union trusting the GOP more than the Democrats on education, an enormous swing that is impossible to blame on any combination of Tucker Carlson and Chris Rufo’s Twitter account. These numbers feel more like the result of years of ceding issues like education to Republicans while resources and energy get thrown into the Endless Prozess.
Regarding the Times poll, the “why it matters” analysis in Axios, which described a “seismic shift,” told most of the story:
We’re seeing a political realignment in real time. Democrats are becoming the party of upscale voters concerned more about issues like gun control and abortion rights. Republicans are quietly building a multiracial coalition of working class voters, with inflation as an accelerant.
Rather than try to deliver more and reposition themselves as a party taking on donors and the Washington permanent state, Democrats tightened those relationships and pushed all their chips on what looks to casual audiences like an effort to outlaw the opposition. Maybe Trump the individual deserves it, who knows. But political parties ultimately are about persuading voters, and these prosecutions have proven time and again not to be persuasive. A message keeps getting sent that so long as Trump exists, support is owed, not won, and that message loses votes, making this entire thing a net minus politically if Trump is not jailed and perhaps even if he is.
A friend who worked on the Hill for years insists the city was ruined by Game of Thrones. Everybody with a political job in the capital thinks of his or herself as a soldier in a thrilling bloodsport, instead of a pawn chipping away for incremental improvements somewhere. The Trump show is six years of thirtysomething Dems in gingham and power dresses gunning to be Arya killing the Night King. They think 80 million Trump supporters will collapse into ice cubes if they get him. It doesn’t work that way. You have to win in 50 real states, not Twitter.
WAR WITH IRAN
The United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, responsible for military fiascos, hundreds of thousands of deaths and innumerable war crimes in the Middle East, are now plotting to attack Iran.
by Chris Hedges
The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia are plotting a war with Iran. The 2015 Iranian nuclear arms accord, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Donald Trump sabotaged, does not look like it will be revived. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is reviewing options to attack if Teheran looks poised to obtain a nuclear weapon and Israel, which opposes U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations, carries out military strikes.
During his visit to Israel, Biden assured Prime Minister Yair Lapid that the U.S. is “prepared to use all elements of its national power,” including military force, to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. function as a troika in the Middle East. The Israeli government has built a close alliance with Saudi Arabia, which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks and has been a prolific sponsor of international terrorism, supporting Salafi jihadism, the basis of al-Qaeda, and such groups as the Afghanistan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.
The three countries worked in tandem to back the 2013 military coup in Egypt, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew its first democratically elected government. He has imprisoned tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, on politically motivated charges. The Sisi regime collaborates with Israel by keeping its common border with Gaza closed to Palestinians, trapping them in the Gaza strip, one of the most densely populated and impoverished places on earth.
Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has conducted an ongoing campaign of covert attacks on Iranian nuclear sites and nuclear scientists. Four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, presumably by Israel, between 2010 and 2012. In July 2020, a fire, attributed to an Israeli bomb, damaged Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. In November 2020, Israel used remote control machine guns to assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist. In January 2020, the United States assassinated Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, along with nine other people including a key figure in the anti-ISIS coalition, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. It used an MQ-9 Reaper to fire missiles into his convoy, near Baghdad’s airport.
If similar attacks had been carried out by Iranian operatives inside Israel, it would have triggered a war. Only Iran’s decision not to retaliate, beyond lobbing about a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq, prevented a conflagration.
On July 7, Iran informed The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it is using IR-6 centrifuges with "modified subheaders.” The declared purpose of the enrichment process at its underground facility at Fordow is to create uranium isotope enriched up to 20 percent—far below the 90 percent enrichment levels necessary to create weapons-grade uranium. Under the JCPOA agreement, enrichment levels were capped at 3.67 percent.
Israel has allocated $1.5 billion for a potential strike against Iran and, during the first week of June, held large-scale military exercises, including one over the Mediterranean and in the Red Sea, in preparation to attack Iranian nuclear sites using dozens of fighter aircraft, including Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.
The 2016 Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Barack Obama provides a 10-year, $38 billion military package for Israel.
Israel and its lobby in the U.S. are working to scuttle negotiations with Iran to monitor its nuclear program. The preparation for war mirrors the Israeli pressure on the U.S. to invade Iraq, one of the worst strategic decisions in U.S. history.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in testimony before the British Iraq war commission, offered this account of his discussions with George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas in April 2002:
"As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this."
Saudi Arabia, which seeks to dominate the Arab world, severed ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by protesters following Riyadh’s execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi Arabia, with Chinese help, has built a plant to process uranium ore and acquired ballistic missiles. Saudi Arabia signed a series of letters in 2017 with the U.S. to purchase weapons totaling $110 billion immediately, and $350 billion over the next decade.
A war with Iran would be a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. It would spread swiftly throughout the region. The Shiites across the Middle East would see an attack on Iran as a religious war against Shiism. The two million Shiites in Saudi Arabia, concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern province; the Shiite majority in Iraq; and the Shiite communities in Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey would join the fight against the U.S. and Israel.
Iran would use its Chinese-supplied anti-ship missiles, rocket and bomb-equipped speedboats and submarines, mines, drones and coastal artillery to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, the corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil and liquified gas supply. Oil production facilities in the Persian Gulf would be sabotaged. Iranian oil, which makes up 13 percent of the world’s energy supply, would be taken off the market. Oil would jump to over $500 a barrel and perhaps, as the conflict drags on, to over $750 a barrel. Our petroleum-based economy, already reeling under rising prices because of the sanctions on Russia, would grind to a halt.
Israel would be hit by Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missiles. Hezbollah’s store of Iranian-supplied rockets that allegedly can reach any part of Israel, including Israel’s nuclear plant at Dimona, would also be deployed. Strikes by Iran and its allies on Israel, as well as on American military installations in the region, would leave hundreds, maybe thousands, dead.
In 2002, the U.S. military conducted its “most elaborate war game” ever, costing over $250 million. Known as the Millennium Challenge, the exercise was between a Blue Force (the U.S.) and the Red Force (widely considered as a stand-in for Iran). It was meant to validate America’s “modern, joint-service war-fighting concepts.” It did the opposite. The Red Force, led by retired Marine lieutenant general Paul Van Riper, conducted a swarm of kamikaze suicide boat attacks and destroyed 16 U.S. warships in under 20 minutes.
When the war game was reset, it was rigged in favor of the Blue Force. The Blue Force was given access to experimental technology – including that which doesn’t exist such as airborne laser weapons. Meanwhile, the Red Force was told they weren’t allowed to shoot down the Blue Team’s aircraft, had to keep their offensive weapons in the open and could not use chemical weapons. Even then, the Blue Force could not achieve all of its objectives as Riper unleashed a guerrilla insurgency on the occupying forces.
Why shouldn’t Joe Biden be feted by the murderous regime of Saudi Arabia and the apartheid state of Israel? He and the U.S. have as much blood on their hands as they do. Yes, in 2018 the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the assassination and dismemberment of my friend and colleague Jamal Khashoggi. Yes, Israel assassinated Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. But Washington has more than matched the crimes carried out by Israel and the Saudis, including against journalists.
The imprisonment of Julian Assange – who released the collateral murder video showing U.S. helicopter pilots laughing as they shot to death two Reuters journalists and a group of civilians in Iraq in 2007 – is designed to destroy Assange psychologically and physically. The corpses of civilians, including children, piled up by Israel and Saudi Arabia, who do much of their killing in Gaza and Yemen with U.S. weapons, don’t come close to the hundreds of thousands of dead we have left behind in the two decades of warfare we have perpetrated in the Middle East.
In 1991, a U.S.-led coalition destroyed much of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure, including water treatment facilities resulting in sewage contaminating the country’s drinking water. Then followed years of U.S., U.K. and French airstrikes enforcing a “No Fly Zone” along with crushing sanctions they imposed via the U.N. From 1991 to 1998, these sanctions alone were estimated to have killed 100,000 to 227,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, although the exact figures have been the subject of much dispute. The U.S. “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign of Iraqi urban centers during its subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003 dropped 3,000 bombs on civilian areas, killing over 7,000 noncombatants in the first two months of the war.
By one estimate, the U.S. has been responsible for directly or indirectly killing nearly 20 million people since the end of the Second World War.
Israel and Saudi Arabia are gangster states. But so is the United States.
“There are few of them,” Biden, reacting to Democratic lawmakers who have criticized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, told Israel's Channel 12 news. “I think they're wrong. I think they're making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend and I make no apologies.”
The angst about Biden’s not holding the Saudis and the Israelis to account on this visit is risible, as if we have any credibility left that allows us to arbitrate between right and wrong. The idea that Biden and the U.S. are brokers for peace was eviscerated long ago. The U.S. offers shameless support for Israel’s right-wing government, including vetoing U.N. resolutions that censor Israel. It refuses to condition aid on a respect for human rights even as Israel launches repeated murderous assaults against the civilian population in Gaza, labels Palestinian NGOs as terror groups, expands illegal Jewish-only settlements, carries out aggressive housing evictions of Palestinian families and mistreats Palestinian and Arab-American citizens at points of entry and within the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The idea that we represent and promote virtue illustrates the self-delusion that accompanies our moral and physical degeneration. The rest of the world, which recoils in repugnance at whom we have become, does not take us seriously. They fear our bombs. But fear is not respect. They no longer envy our hedonistic mass culture, tarnished by mass shootings, social inequality, the decay of our infrastructure, dysfunction and a Grand Guignol-style of politics that has turned civil and political discourse into a tawdry burlesque. America is a grim joke, one about to be made worse when the Christian fascists, bigots and conspiracy theorists take control of the Congress in the fall, and I expect, the presidency two years later.
The U.S., along with Israel, makes war on Muslims who, with an estimated 1.9 billion adherents, comprise nearly 25 percent of the world population. We have turned many in the Muslim world into our enemies. The Muslim world does not hate us for our values. It hates our hypocrisy. It hates our racism, our refusal to honor their political aspirations, our lethal attacks and military occupations and our crippling sanctions. Muslims express the rage felt by Guatemalans, Cubans, Congolese, Brazilians, Argentines, Indonesians, Panamanians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Filipinos, North and South Koreans, Chileans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans – those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” They too were slaughtered by our high-tech military machine and subjugated, humiliated, forced to accept U.S. hegemony and killed in our clandestine torture centers or by CIA-backed assassins.
No one is held accountable. The CIA blocked all investigations into its torture program, including destroying videotape evidence of interrogations involving torture and classifying nearly all of the 6,900-page report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that examined the CIA’s post-9/11 program of detention, torture and other abuse of detainees.
Biden goes to Saudi Arabia and Israel as a supplicant. As a presidential candidate, he called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and vowed to make it “pay the price” for Khashoggi’s murder. But with the rising price of oil, Biden is whitewashing the murder, along with the humanitarian disaster the Saudis have caused in Yemen, imploring the Saudis to increase output, a plea Prince Salman has rejected. Similarly, Biden is weak in Israel, powerless against the expansion of Jewish settlements and assaults on Palestinians, and unwilling to move the U.S. Embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, a move by the Trump administration that violates international law. Biden’s staff was reduced to pleading with the Israelis not to embarrass him as they did during his 2010 visit as vice president. During his 2010 visit, Israel announced it was building 1,600 new Jewish-only houses in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The Obama White House angrily condemned “the substance and timing of the announcement.”
How can the U.S. bar Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from a summit of the Americas in Los Angeles and embrace the Saudi regime and the Israeli aparatheid state? How can it decry the war crimes of Russia and unleash industrial violence on the Muslim world? How can it plead for the 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, living in Xinjiang, and ignore the Palestinians? How can it justify another “preemptive war, this time against Iran? The duplicity is not lost on most of the world. They know who we are. They know that in our eyes they are unworthy. Our inevitable demise on the world stage is cheered by the majority of the planet. The tragedy is that, as we go down, we are determined to take so many others down with us.