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Mendocino County Today: Friday, August 5, 2022

Near Normal | Poultry Ribbons | FB Reunion | AVFD Event | Two Feathers | Caspar 1910 | JDSF Update | Search & Rescue | NOAA Down | Ed Notes | Analogue Magic | MCBG Event | Willfully Interrupting | Brockway Pleads | Great Day | Wokiah | Kwan Tai | Mystery Woman | Yesterday's Catch | Bus Stop | You Tell Me | Black Bart | Falling Crew | Passportization | Raider Tears | Electric Shock | Shots Booster | State Propositions | Peter & Orson | Burying Lines | New Swing | Impotent Media | Porrón

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ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS are possible again today as a low pressure system migrates off the North Coast. Trinity and northeastern Mendocino counties will be the focus areas again this afternoon and evening but all interior areas north of Highway 36 are still susceptible. Afternoon temperatures are forecast to return to near normal after today continuing through early next week. Typical summer coastal weather is expected with periods of coastal low clouds during the nights and mornings and partial sun is expected each afternoon. (NWS)

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BETH SWEHLA: What a great end to a super day! The poultry meat show was fantastic!

  • Jose Alvarez was the FFA Champion and the Overall Reserve Supreme Champion!
  • Nathan Burger was FFA Reserve Champion. Carmen Malfavon placed fourth. It was a great show and these members worked very hard raising their chickens.
  • In the Novice FFA Poultry Showmanship class Carmen Malfavon placed 1st, Nathan Burger placed 2nd and Jose Alvarez placed 4th.
  • Carmen went on the place second in Advanced Poultry Showmanship.

Great job by ALL!

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FORT BRAGG REUNION

The Fort Bragg High School-All School Reunion will be held August 20th at the McGuires Picnic Grounds off Bald Hill Road from noon until six PM. If you are a graduate of or attended Fort Bragg High School, please feel free to attend. Please spread the word. (Donations will be gratefully accepted to cover the costs of table rentals and Porta Potties).

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ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Thanks for coming to the party. The Lions Club really pulled out all the stops and put on a great BBQ, the Jeff Moss Cruise Control band played their hearts out, and the silent auction was packed with hot items!

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THERE AREN'T WORDS…

On Wednesday, August 3, 2022 at about 1:22 PM, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center was contacted by a concerned parent regarding their two missing children who were left in the care of Edward “Two Feathers” Steele, 32, of Ukiah, at a hotel in the 1300 block of North State Street in Ukiah.

Deputies responded to the area and attempted to locate Steele and the two missing children (two-year-old male and one-year-old male).

At about 3:55 PM, medical first responders were dispatched to an unattended child near the railroad tracks in the 300 block of Brush Street in Ukiah.

A concerned citizen had located a two-year-old child near the railroad tracks who appeared to be suffering from heat related symptoms. The concerned citizen was able to locate a passerby who called 911. The two-year old child was transported to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Hospital for treatment.

Based on the discovery of the two-year-old child, a search was conducted of the immediate area.

During the search, at about 4:20 PM, law enforcement personnel located the child’s one-year-old sibling deceased in the general area.

The cause of death is not known at this time and is pending forensic autopsy which is scheduled for Friday, August 5, 2022.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Detectives assisted by Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office Investigators, Ukiah Police Department Detectives, and Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force Agents began a joint investigation into the circumstances of the child’s death.

Edward Steele

Edward “Two Feathers” Steele has been identified as a person of interest in this investigation.

Steele is believed to have information concerning the two children prior to their discovery on Brush Street.

At this time, Steele’s whereabouts are unknown and it is believed that he is avoiding law enforcement contact.

Steele is a Native American male, 32-years-old, standing approximately 6 feet tall, weighing 185 pounds, with short hair. He can be further identified by a distinctive 4-inch tattoo of two vertical feathers on the left side of his face.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information concerning Edward Two Feathers Steele and his possible whereabouts to contact our dispatch center at 707-463-4086.

During this investigation, investigators learned that at approximately 4:50 AM on 08-03-2022, a male subject accompanied by two young children were identified as walking near North State Street and Ford Road. A concerned citizen reported the information to Sheriff’s Office Dispatch but neither the male subject nor children were located upon deputies’ arrival.

A check of the area was conducted that morning with negative results. Investigators believe this was Steele and the two children. They were last seen walking southbound on North State Street from Ford Road.

Investigators are asking business owners to review any exterior surveillance camera footage from 4:30 AM through 7:00 AM on morning of Wednesday, August 3, 2022.

Investigators are asking that any activity depicting an adult male either carrying or walking with small children be reported to the Sheriff’s Office by calling 707-463-4086.

These businesses include:

Any businesses located between the 900 block and 1500 block of North State Street in Ukiah.

Any businesses located on Mazzoni Street in Ukiah.

Any businesses located east of the Brush Street/North State Street Intersection through the 300 block of Brush Street in Ukiah.


TWO COMMENTS: 

(1) Covelo connections. These dirtbag men killing women and babies. Women quit hanging out with scumbag dudes. Dudes work on yourselves and have something to offer. What a waste of everything tragic situation. What does anybody expect given the atmosphere he was raised in as well. And these poor little boys damn. Getting dragged around by somebody who was supposed to be taking care of them to have this happen. Mamas of kids laying down with men that have fleas. Even if you’re just “hanging out” with scumbags you’re still being a horrible example. Ancestors are reeling while the alive turn a blind evey.

(2) Just look at this guy – you know he wakes up everyday trying to be the toughest baddest guy on the planet. What a pathetic life when all you value is looking as tough as u can. Man what a waste of life. Then there are people who would give anything to wake up healthy everyday but God decided to give this dirt bag enough health to be a dirtbag everyday. Hey family of this dirt bag – look real close. This is a perfect example of what you are not supposed to spend your life trying to be. He gets to look as mean as possible and that’s about as valuable to society as the pile of shit my dog leaves in the yard every morning.


UKIAH MAN IDENTIFIED AS THE PERSON OF INTEREST IN INFANT’S DEATH BOOKED FOR MURDER

32-year-old Ukiah man Edward Two Feathers Steele has officially been booked for murder on the same day he was named as the person of interest in the abandonment of a two-year-old and the death of a one-year-old child. …

mendofever.com/2022/08/05/ukiah-man-identified-as-the-person-of-interest-in-infants-death-booked-for-murder/

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CASPAR MILL AND THE TOWN OF CASPAR c. 1910. 

View of Caspar Mill and the town of Caspar looking north. Millworker houses sit on the bluffs overlooking the mill and the General Store is the prominent building to the right. (Gift of Emery Escola, Photographer: Perley Maxwell)

Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino: Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. Pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting place and building that make up the Mendocino Historic District.

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LOGGING IN THE JACKSON DEMONSTRATION FOREST STILL ON HOLD During Removal Of Trees Cut Last Year

by Mary Callahan

After months of delays, logging crews are about ready to reenter Jackson Demonstration State Forest to collect cut timber, but there won’t be any new trees felled in the foreseeable future.

Workers will haul out cut logs — about 100 truckloads worth — that were stacked last year while logging was underway in the Chamberlain Creek area north of Highway 20, near the forest’s eastern edge.

But for now at least, the area will be spared the whine of chain saws and the outcry of demonstrators.

The 48,642-acre expanse of forest, which stretches across much of central Mendocino County, has been the site of numerous protests aimed at protecting some of the area’s oldest and largest trees.

No one has formally declared a moratorium on logging, as had been requested by activists. But work in four partially cut timber harvest plan areas remains on hold pending ongoing discussions about the future of the more than 70-year-old demonstration forest.

That includes development of an interim management plan that state Sen. Mike McGuire expects to reflect a transition toward a forest mission newly focused on climate mitigation and wildfire resilience, he said.

It also should account for ongoing government-to-government consultations among Cal Fire; the California Natural Resources Agency, of which Cal Fire is part; and sovereign tribal nations, notably the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, for whom the forest holds sacred value as an ancestral home and ceremonial site.

No trees have been cut since the end of January, when all logging stopped to account for the seasonally observed nesting season of the federally protected northern spotted owl, State Forest Program Manager Kevin Conway said.

The most controversial harvest site near the coastal community of Caspar remains a haven for hikers and bicyclists. All timber operations there have been suspended since June of last year, when protests in the woods made it unsafe for loggers to proceed, Conway said.

Cal Fire also has withdrawn three contentious timber harvest plans filed for areas of the Jackson forest in 2020 and ’21.

The long, unexpected pause means demonstrators who were prepared to go back to the forest in April to stand in the way of loggers have been instead engaged in “a lot of aware presence” among the trees, said Michelle McMillan, a leader in the movement.

“But as for now no logging means no dawn patrol, so we have very well-rested activists who hope they’ll have no reason to be out in the forest,” McMillan said.

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot has remained personally involved with collaborative discussions with stakeholders and is intimately familiar with the details, said McGuire, D-Healdsburg.

“I believe he is committed to changing the focus of the demonstration forest and modernizing its mission,” he said.

The Jackson forest was established in 1949 to serve as a living laboratory where sustainable forestry practices could be developed, tested and exhibited following close to a century of clear-cutting through much of the North Coast’s famed redwood groves.

The largest of nine California demonstration forests, which total 72,000 acres, the Jackson forest also offers research opportunities. One project has been collecting data for decades. The globally recognized study in the Caspar Creek watershed involves water quality and stream flow, riparian plant and animal communities, sediment loading and related topics.

Additionally, the forest provides jobs and economic opportunity in a region whose once robust logging, milling and wood products economy has diminished with the supply of available trees.

Recreational activities — including camping, hiking, cycling and horseback riding — are supported but are by law defined as secondary to timber production.

Timber sales generated an average $6.6 million a year between 2011 and 2020, supporting operations throughout the nine demonstration forests.

A little over two years ago, however, residents escaping pandemic-era isolation by flocking to the coastal woods near Caspar began seeing redwoods along the trails marked for harvest, setting off alarm and scrutiny of timber harvest plans around the forest.

State Forest Program Manager Conway and others said the approach to the harvest was measured and based on forest management rules that allow for the strategic removal of trees to maintain overall forest health by lessening competition for sunlight, water and necessary nutrients.

But a coalition of veteran forest defenders joined by younger activists driven by a planet in crisis rose in protest to halt the logging as well as other timber harvests.

Bolstered by global and state initiatives supporting land-based climate change mitigation, they argued that the state-owned forest should be converted to a carbon bank, and its trees left to capture and store atmospheric carbon.

Demonstrators took direct action, taking up residents in platforms built high in the largest trees and blocking roads into disputed harvest sites. The situation near Caspar forced Cal Fire to stop logging mere days into the harvest there, due to public safety concerns, Conway said.

They closed ranks with tribal representatives, including Coyote Valley Band Chairman Michael Hunter, in acknowledging the tribe’s long claim to the land later taken by European settlers.

By executive order issued in June 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom established provisions for government-to-government consultations aimed at seeking opportunities for co-management and tribal access to natural lands in recognition of historic displacement of Indigenous people.

Hunter began those consultations earlier this year but declined to comment on their status Wednesday.

Conway, Jackson’s forest program manager, in spring hosted a series of community meeting/tours in the forest featuring different speakers to convey Cal Fire’s perspective on the forest, its mission and its timber harvest practices.

Conway said this week Cal Fire is still “trying to take steps to move forward to complete the (four) plans that we already have under contract.”

The redwood and Douglas fir logs being removed over the next few weeks are from a 737-acre timber harvest plan located about 12 miles east of Fort Bragg, about 40% of which had been completed before logging was halted, Conway said earlier this year.

The trees will be limbed and trimmed and taken to mills to be processed as wood products but are being hauled from the forest primarily to reduce wildfire fuels, Cal Fire said.

The state has provided $10 million to the demonstration forest budget this year to offset losses from timber sales.

In the meantime, McGuire, whose North Coast district includes the forest, said he anticipates the release soon of some form of interim management plan to replace an existing model he has described as “antiquated.”

“From the very beginning, I’ve been the one that said I’m not confident that the current demonstration model is demonstrating anything of substance,” he said, “and I think that the Natural Resource Agency has taken a real leadership role over the past many months on a potential refocus of the demonstration forest on climate and wildfire resilience.”

(The Press Democrat)

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THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE directs each county to establish a method for or team for search and rescue. Mendocino County like every other county has assigned this as the responsibility of the Sheriff. 

The Mendocino County search and rescue was honored to receive the Blue Ribbon Award from the Redwood Empire Fair Board of Directors.

I would like to thank all of our volunteers who work countless hours serving their communities as well as the Redwood Empire Fair Board and CEO Jennifer Seward for their recognition of these incredible people.

— Sheriff Matt Kendall

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NOAA WEATHER RADIO STATION WNG-720 AT LAUGHLIN RIDGE IS OFF THE AIR…

The NOAA Weather Radio transmitter WNG-720 at Laughlin Ridge, broadcasting on a frequency of 162.55 MHz, is off the air. Restoration time is unknown at this time. Neighboring transmitters that service some of the broadcast area include KIH-30 on a frequency of 162.55 MHz (serving Mendocino County). We apologize for this interruption and will have service restored as soon as possible.

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ED NOTES

THE PICTURED BLACK 2022 ROLLS ROYCE carefully backed into a diagonal parking place at the Redwood Drive-In about 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, the 2nd of August. Three men emerged from their high end vehicle, one of them a very large, fit-looking man who appeared to carry a pistol secreted in his inside breast pocket. “I'm pretty sure that bulge in the big guy's jacket was a gun,” said the intrigued local woman who snapped the photos. The big guy and another man waited outside while a third man entered the Drive-In, which is where our scant story ends because we couldn't find anybody who knows who they were or why they stopped at the Redwood Drive-In. A second passer-by said he thought they looked “like those guys from Reservoir Dogs.” Drive-In proprietor Ricardo Suarez said he usually takes a break about that time every afternoon but certainly would have otherwise noted the unusual (for Boonville) tableau. “Once in a while someone will back in,” Mr. Suarez said, “but not very often.”

Gormley Statue

STUDENTS at the Imperial College in London have complained to college authorities that this pile of steel blocks represents an erect penis which, seems to me, would only occur to people with penises on the brain. The artist, Sir Anthony Gormley, says his eyesore of a sculpture is called “Alert,” and is intended to portray “a human squatting.” I don't see either one, but then I've always agreed with Soviet Premier Kruschev who famously denounced a Russian abstract as “dog shit.” Well, not all modern art, of course. I'm not that big a philistine, but this kind of Richard Serra stuff? Gormley, though, described his pile of metal this way: “Through the conversion of anatomy into an architectural construction I want to re-assess the relation between body and space. Balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches and surveying the world around it, the attitude of this sculpture is alive, alert and awake,” he wrote. Which is actually funny because it does no such thing. But as Gore Vidal pointed out, “Lack of talent is no longer enough.”

LOOKS WHO'S TALKING. Dick Cheney, ring leader of the most destructive presidency in American history, says in a campaign ad for his mostly lamentable daughter, that Trump is the worst ever. “In our nation's 246 year history there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our Republic than Donald Trump.”

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT functions as press agent for the Northcoast's wine industry, as does the paper's favorite congressman, Mike Thompson. In a recent story by Bill Swindell, Swindell tells us that the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allocate $5 million more to research on the effects of smoke taint on wine grapes. Swindell doesn't tell us who introduced the would-be legislation, but it originated with Thompson, of course, and doubly of course House Speaker Nancy “China” Pelosi, will sign off on it. Both Thompson and Pelosi are in the wine business.

GOVERNOR ENABLER, aka Gavin Newsom, is primed to sign a new bill that will allow more state-run drug-taking sites to pop up in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. Newsom seems unaware that Frisco's new DA is trying to shut down the first attempt at the scheme after watching it turn into a squalid, crime-ridden addict camp.

I PASSED ALONG this para from the Washington Post to Boonville’s Superintendent of Schools, Louise Simson, who promptly responded below:

“America’s schools are in crisis, with some districts facing tremendous staffing shortages as the fall creeps closer. “I have never seen it this bad,” the executive director of the School Superintendents Association said. “Right now, it’s number one on the list of issues.” While it’s unclear precisely how many classrooms are without teachers, local reports indicate shortages ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. In Houston, Texas, alone, the five biggest districts are all saying that anywhere from 200 to 1,000 positions remain unfilled. The Washington Post reported that experts attribute the crisis to a number of factors, including pandemic burnout, low pay, and a newly virulent school culture war that has left many educators feeling unappreciated. Districts are employing a number of band-aid fixes, from higher wages to ballooning class sizes. And some areas are getting creative, ranging from a four-day school week to having veterans with zero teaching experience lead classrooms.”

SUPERINTENDENT SIMSON:

We are in much better shape than many school districts. We do have two staff members out on leave. We have reached out for retiree and long-term subs to support these leaves. One of the challenges is that our upper level math courses will be delivered in a computerized format with an educational services company due to a year-long half-time leave. However, there is a credentialed teacher responsible for the student while they are on-line and the student can ask for immediate help and a teacher “takes over” their screen to support their learning. Is it ideal? No. Are we going to give kids a rigorous and robust education, yes.

I am also delighted to announce that retiree, Kim Campbell, is rejoining the district in a limited. capacity with a new 7th-12th grade writing focus. We will be using our Wednesday advisory period for EVERY student to complete a required writing prompt EVERY week. This will be collected and each one read by me, and 20 samples read and graded by Kim. My belief is if you can create a well written and thoughtful written composition, you will be successful in college and career. This is also a spot check for me on student input, achievement, and areas of growth and concern. I AM SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS EFFORT. Kim is creating the prompts and expectations for each assignment. 

We are also delighted to welcome our dual enrollment English Teacher from Mendocino College! Her bio is below:

Ginny Buccelli, MFA

English Professor, Mendocino College

I was a first-generation and non-traditional college student. My mother managed to finish high school on time, but my father dropped out to run off and join the circus (true story). I was raised by my grandparents who never believed they were smart enough for school. As you can imagine, this had an impact on my view of my own scholarly pursuits. I tried attending college directly out of high school and hated it. I tried a few more times, but life choices and family responsibilities didn’t mix well with college pursuits. Once I was really ready to dive in, I was more successful. 

I earned an Associate of Arts degree from Santa Rosa Junior College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Sonoma State University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Antioch University-Los Angeles. During grad school I taught as a substitute teacher for the Petaluma City School district. 

I began working at the community college level in 2007, reading English placement essays, then running the English Department Writing Center at Santa Rosa Junior College. I transitioned into the classroom as an adjunct professor (often referred to as a freeway flyer) there and at Contra Costa College. I taught in the Gateway to College program from 2013-2014 at SRJC before I accepted a full-time position at Mendocino College in 2014. 

Looking forward to welcoming students back on August 15. 

— Louise Simson, Superintendent, AVUSD

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FIRST FRIDAY AT THE LARRY SPRING MUSEUM - 8:30 PM start

The Universe Is Not A Computer! 

First Friday August 5, Wu Li Leung performs analogue magic in Spring Commons.

Music and Fire in the Commons. Telescopic Moon Viewing, (weather permitting).

Live sound and multi-projector experience: Hierophanies, Origins, Repetition. Mixtapes for sale.
8:30 PM start

Enter through the gates beside 225 E Redwood, Fort Bragg. Entrance by Donation.

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MENDOCINO COUNTY BOTANICAL GARDENS — ART IN THE GARDENS, August 6 & 7

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NO MORE MISBEHAVING AT PUBLIC MEETINGS

by Jim Shields

Don’t be surprised if sometime in the very near future you hear the presiding oficer at a local government meeting announce, “This meeting will come to order or we’ll toss you and your behind out!”

Governor Gav Newsom’s desk has a new bill on it passed by the state Legislature Monday, Aug. 1, that would modify the Brown Act, the 1953 state law that requires open meetings, including the right for the public to address local government officials during meetings. Current law allows city councils, boards of supervisors, school boards, water boards, etc., to boot out people for “willfully interrupting” proceedings, but state Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) said the law needed to be updated “to include a more precise definition of that behavior.” 

The Devil is always in the details.

If Newsom signs the bill into law, which he’ll certainly do says I, local governmental bodies will have broadened authority to show the door to disruptive and misbehaving miscreants and kooks who flip out at meetings.

According to Cortese his bill, SB 1100, “aims to protect local officials from harassment and verbal abuse.” 

Without a doubt, “harassment” and “verbal abuse” are Devil’s details difficult to artfully define in the hurly-burly of politics and governing, especially in today’s socially uncivil times. I can also tell you that attendance at union meetings back in my day, were not the place to be for the faint of heart or those easily upset or offended by gruff speech.

Specifically, Cortese’s proposed law would clarify “willfully interrupting” to mean “intentionally engaging in behavior during a meeting of a legislative body that substantially impairs or renders infeasible the orderly conduct of the meeting.” 

The bill also mandates local officials to issue a warning to participants to “curtail their disruptive behavior” before removing them or clearing a room. 

Cortese explained he introduced the bill in response to “verbal attacks” last year on the mayor of Los Gatos. Protesters used anti-LGBTQ and anti-vaccine rhetoric during meetings, made personal comments about the mayor’s son and then demonstrated outside her home. 

“She came under very aggressive attacks over not only policy issues there, but they became very much ad hominem attacks against her and her family ... over issues that really weren’t in play before the town council,” Cortese said. 

The law also was certainly in response to COVID-generated disruptions when local officials made decisions on stay-at-home orders, mask-and-social distancing rules, vaccine requirements for schools, and mixed/inconsistent practices in the application of all of the foregoing rules to businesses and restaurants. 

Cortese’s bill is co-sponsored by the California State Association of Counties, which includes Mendocino County, and the Urban Counties of California. 

Oh, one other thing.

You can bet that constitutional watchdogs such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the First Amendment Coalition (FAC) will challenge this bill if Newsom signs it into law on grounds that it would have a “chilling effect on First Amendment rights.”

Anyway, you’ve been warned, so behave your misbehaving self at meetings, or else.

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Water Supply, Drought, Wildfires And Climate Change On The Minds Of Folks

Accordung to a poll just released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), “Californians are most likely to name water supply and drought, followed by wildfires and climate change, as the most important issues” now facing the state.

I’ve always foud PPIC’s polling approach to be pretty much independent and nonpartisan.

Here’s hughlights of the poll conducted in mid-July.

• Nearly nine in ten likely voters say candidates’ positions on the environment are important—and 45 percent say they are very important—in voting for governor in 2022. Fifty-nine percent approve of Governor Newsom’s handling of the environment, with partisans divided. 

• Sixty-eight percent of Californians say that the supply of water is a big problem in their part of California. Strong majorities also feel that neither the state and local government nor people in their part of California are doing enough in response to the drought. Forty-five percent say they have done a lot to reduce water use recently in response to the drought. Seventy-seven percent say climate change has contributed to the current drought.

• Forty-five percent of Californians say that the threat of wildfires is a big problem in their part of California. Majorities say that they are at least somewhat concerned about the threat of power shutoffs to prevent wildfires where they live. Three in ten have a great deal of confidence in the government’s readiness to respond to wildfires in their part of California. Seventy-six percent say climate change has contributed to the recent wildfires. 

• Sixty-nine percent of Californians say that the effects of climate change have already begun. Eight in ten Californians say that climate change is a very or somewhat serious threat to California’s future economy and quality of life. A strong majority favors the state government making its own policies, separate from the federal government, to address climate change. Support for the state’s climate change policies is deeply divided along party lines. 

• Fifty-eight percent of Californians say the condition of oceans and beaches is very important to California’s future economy and quality of life. Majorities say that plastics and marine debris are a big problem on the coast near them. Overwhelming majorities favor wind power and wave energy projects and building desalination plants. A strong majority oppose allowing more oil drilling off the California coast. 

• Forty-four percent of Californians are upset about the current rate of inflation, and 55 percent say that recent gas prices have caused them financial hardship. Overwhelming majorities favor developing renewable energy sources over expanding oil, coal, and natural gas production. Forty-nine percent have seriously considered getting an electric vehicle. Forty-nine percent approve of President Biden’s handling of environmental issues.

(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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BROCKWAY PLEADS

The process that began Monday morning of selecting jurors to hear the evidence against defendant Robert Henry Brockway III, age 35, generally of the Mendocino Coast, came to an abrupt end Wednesday afternoon just after the lunch hour.

Robert Brockway

While the jurors were on the lunch break, the prosecutor and defense attorney worked to hammer out a disposition that would be acceptable to both sides instead of continuing towards a two-stage trial (guilt and then sanity) that was expected to last two-and-a-half weeks.

With the potential jurors waiting downstairs in the jury assembly room, defendant Brockway admitted by guilty plea the second degree murder of Jimmie Mathis Mooneyham back in October 2020.

Jimmie Mooneyham

The defendant also admitted by guilty plea burglary in the first degree, wherein he admitted entering Mr. Mooneyham’s residence to commit a felony assault on Mr. Mooneyham with a sword.

A residential burglary occurs when a person unlawfully enters a residence with the intent to commit larceny or, as in this case, enters a residence with the intent to commit a felony therein.

To effectuate the defendant’s change of plea, defendant Brockway was required to withdraw his previously-entered dual pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

By agreement of the parties, the defendant will be sentenced to 21 years to life in state prison when he returns to court on September 9, 2022 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department A of the Ukiah courthouse.

The stipulated sentence is the maximum allowed by law for this combination of guilty pleas.

The law enforcement agencies that investigated the case are the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Justice crime laboratory in Eureka, the Department of Justice DNA laboratory in Redding, and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.

The prosecutor who was prepared to present the People’s evidence to the jury once selected was District Attorney David Eyster.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder accepted the defendant’s change of plea Wednesday afternoon and is expected to impose the agreed-upon life sentence in September.

(DA Presser)

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* * *

WHO DARES SAY UKIAH ISN'T WOKE?

Six months after the adoption of the City of Ukiah’s Equity Action Plan, the Diversity and Equity Committee is already celebrating numerous accomplishments in its implementation:

Implemented a new mobile-friendly ADA-compliant website that includes language selection www.cityofukiah.com;

Celebrated diversity and inclusion in the community by issuing proclamations for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage, Older Americans, Pride Month, Juneteenth, National Immigrant Heritage, and Disability Independence Day;

Developed and implemented new forums and distribution lists to share all board, committee, commission openings, and employment applications to achieve broader reach to our diverse community;

Implemented a new employment recruitment portal to improve accessibility to City of Ukiah employment opportunities for all;

Expanded the Movies-in-the-Park program to bring movies into more neighborhoods;

Added inclusion questions to all board, commission, and committee applications

City Staff has also formed a multidisciplinary, mid-management team focused on developing a plan to improve recruitment, retention, and promotion practices. City Staff and the Committee have also partnered to create an employee diversity, equity, and inclusion training plan.

“Culture change isn’t easy or quick, but it’s possible. We must become aware, curious, practice, and accountable. I am proud of the dedication and hard work of the Committee and City Staff; we already see success,” said Traci Boyl, Committee Liaison. For more information, visit www.cityofukiah.com/equity or contact Traci Boyl at 707-467-5720 or tboyl@cityofukiah.com.

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* * *

NOT EVEN CLOSE, ANDREA

On Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at 8:23 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were on routine patrol when they conducted a traffic stop in the 4400 block of Sunnycrest Drive in Ukiah.

The Deputies contacted the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle. The driver provided the Deputies with her name and date of birth, but had no legal identification with her. A records check indicated the driver was clear all systems; however the Deputies suspected the driver was providing a false name.

They requested the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center provide them with a driver's license photograph for the name provided for comparison. The Deputies received the photograph and observed it did not match the driver.

The Deputies confronted the driver about providing a false name. The driver admitted she provided the name of her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend. She then provided a different name and date of birth and claimed it was her real name. The Deputies utilized their Mobil Data Terminal (MDT) and searched the name in the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office system and found inconsistencies with the second name she provided. Again, Sheriff's Office Dispatch provided a driver’s license photo and again the photo did not match the driver.

The Deputies developed probable cause to believe the driver provided them with another false name.

They arrested the driver and located a personal use amount of methamphetamine and a methamphetamine pipe in her possession.

The Deputies continued their investigation and they learned the second name the driver provided was the name of a real person.

The Deputies were ultimately able to identify the driver as Andrea Gonzales, 36, of Ukiah, and a records check revealed she was wanted on an out of county felony warrant and five Mendocino County misdemeanor warrants.

Andrea Gonzales

Gonzalez was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail for Felony False Impersonation Of Another, Misdemeanor Possession Controlled Substance, Misdemeanor Possession Drug Paraphernalia, the out of county felony arrest warrant and Mendocino County Misdemeanor Warrants. Gonzalez was to be held on a No Bail status.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, August 4, 2022

Belden, Fuentes, Leskiwauer, Yoast

JAMES BELDEN III, Ukiah. Domestic battery, controlled substance, probation revocation.

ANDRES FUENTES-LUCERO, Ukiah. Battery.

MANUEL LESKIWAUER, Grants Pass, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance, no license.

JAMES YOAST, Redwood Valley. Failure to appear.

* * *

* * *

YOU TELL ME

Sitting here at 1:08 in the morning in the quiet common room at Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California.  ISKCON's founder Srila Prabhupada is comin' through the SONY headphones chanting 16 rounds (108 times per round) of the Maha Mantra.  You tell me, O materialistic postmodern global civilization and its discontents: What is there that I need right now that I do not have? 

Craig Louis Stehr

* * *

TODAY IN OLD-WEST HISTORY -- On today’s date 145 years ago, Friday, August 3, 1877, notorious English-born American Old-West outlaw Charles Earl “Charley” Bowles (1829 - unknown), also known as Charles Bolton, but best-known as “Black Bart, The Gentleman Bandit” or “Black Bart, The Poet,” held up a Wells Fargo stagecoach in Sonoma County California.

After looting its contents, Black Bart left behind the first of his only two authenticated poems inside the otherwise-empty Wells Fargo strongbox.

I’ve labored long & hard for bread,

For honor, & for riches, 

But on my corns too long you’ve tread,

You fine-haired sons of bitches.

—Black Bart

Black Bart perpetrated 28 robberies of Wells Fargo stagecoaches across northern California between 1875 & 1883. Although he was only known to have left two different poems -- at his fourth & fifth robbery sites -- his poetry came to be considered his signature, thus ensuring his everlasting fame.

The undated Victorian-Era photograph depicts the moustachioed visage of Black Bart, The Gentleman Bandit.

* * *

* * *

PASSPORTIZATION

by Sadakat Kadri

Vladimir Putin recently decreed that any Ukrainian who wants a Russian passport can get one. More than 800,000 Donbas residents have already taken the plunge, the Kremlin says, and it’s an offer that may be hard to refuse. Russian citizenship is now required in many parts of occupied Ukraine to hold down a job and access services. Declining it can get you noticed, in a bad way.

The initiative has a history. Any foreigner with ‘spiritual and cultural ties’ to Russia became eligible for citizenship in 1999. Another law expedited applications three years later, and in 2008 Putin waged a war to defend new passport holders in Georgia. Kremlin-watchers call the strategy ‘passportization’, but Putin claims it’s normal. As he’s observed, Poland, Hungary and Romania have extended rights of dual nationality to millions of neighboring residents. When Russia first offered passports to Donbas residents in 2019, he claimed to be emulating those precedents.

The parallels don’t extend far. Even Viktor Orbán isn’t threatening to exterminate Hungary’s rivals. But passportization is a response to demographic concerns that are common to the region. As Putin routinely acknowledges in his addresses to the nation, Russia’s population has been on the decline for decades. Millions of young, productive and fertile citizens have emigrated westwards. Birth rates are low, and life expectancy is about as short as it gets in the developed world. There were almost a million excess deaths during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s population dropped more in 2021 than at any time since the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Putin’s fighting back. Two years ago he authorized dual citizenship. Like the governments of Poland and Hungary, he bumped up financial incentives to have children and invoked ‘family values’ to exalt heterosexuality and discourage abortions. And now it’s war. The attack on Ukraine – a state Putin insists is part of the motherland – is more than a land grab. It’s an effort to bulk up. Passportized Ukrainians don’t even have to speak Russian. They just need undefined ‘spiritual and cultural ties’.

According to many pro-war bloggers and talking heads in Russia, Moscow’s gain will be Kyiv’s terminal loss. Ukraine was a demographic basket case even before its current battle for survival began, and the cheerleaders say Putin’s latest move is a coup de grâce. Once Western states finally come to terms with reality, the argument goes, their own hunger for citizens will kick in. While Russia digests southern and eastern Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Romania will squabble over the leftovers.

The hypothesis isn’t entirely ridiculous. Belarus is about to streamline its naturalization procedure for Ukrainians. Significant economic sectors in Poland have become dependent on Ukrainian guest workers in recent years (the country’s xenophobes find them less objectionable than Africans and Muslims), and a small minority of extreme nationalists share the Kremlin’s contempt for the government in Kyiv. Western Ukraine was part of Poland until 1939, and they want it back.

Only one head of state is actively trying to dismember Ukraine, however, and Putin isn’t just being ultra-competitive. It’s easy to understand how rapid population growth can promote armed conflict: expanding societies are volatile, and young men desperate for limited opportunities are often violent. The urge to cannibalize that’s being generated by competitive demographic decline is darker. Potential fathers are being sacrificed, millions of women and children are being exiled, and once vibrant cities are being reduced to no-man’s-land. That isn’t merely miscalculated or counter-productive – it’s thanatotic – and yet, in Russia, Putin is more popular than he’s been for years.

That bodes ill for aging, underpopulated societies everywhere – including eastern Europe as a whole – but Russia looks singularly vulnerable. Most of the five million people who emigrated during the first two decades of Putin’s rule were under forty; almost all had university degrees (92 per cent) and a significant proportion had PhDs (14 per cent). Since February, hundreds of thousands more have bolted. And by Putin’s reckoning, critics who have stayed don’t even count. They are residents of Miami and the French Riviera ‘in their minds’, he thinks, because they can’t ‘do without foie gras, oysters or so-called gender freedoms’. True patriots, he says, should spit them out ‘like flies’. Supporters of the war won’t doubt that. In victory or defeat, Russia is going to be a shrunken place.

* * *

Ian Ross comments:

Aging and declining populations are a feature of most of the West together with China and Japan. All of these are reluctant to grant free access to immigrants because older populations are more conservative and that is where the votes lie, or in the cases where there are no votes influence the policies of authoritarian leaders. The latter believe that incentives are enough to reverse this trend but the Chinese abandonment of the one child policy has failed. Putin's version is slightly different in that Russian citizenship is a pre-condition for favorable treatment in the territories he wants to control. However the exodus from Russia, exacerbated by the Ukraine invasion, indicates that a Russian passport is also a means of repression. Only those in desperate circumstances would consider it - and there are a lot of them in Ukraine.

Let us not lose sight that the invasion objective was to reduce Ukraine to a fraction of its current size, leaving it as a landlocked lump surrounded by 'Novorossiya'. That has failed and the offer of dual nationality is unlikely to make any difference to all but the poor and aged on the frontlines who just want an end to all this. The great irony is that Putin has made Ukraine a nation state despite its dismal economic, judicial, political and social performance since independence. The West has a moral obligation to protect this against the inhuman aggression of an aggressive, purely geopolitical, agenda.

(My credentials to express this opinion are spending my working life in Russia from 1992 to 1998, and then visiting both countries on at least a monthly basis from 2003 to 2008. I have remained in contact with both Russian and Ukrainian friends to the present day. I have also read most what has been written about both countries since then.)

(London Review of Books)

* * *

* * *

ELECTRIC SHOCK

by Marilyn Davin

Remember in the not-so-long-ago past when America’s car makers very publicly cried foul over how electric cars would collectively toss them on the trash heap of history, to decompose alongside their horse-drawn buggy-maker predecessors?

Today they’re laughing all the way to the bank; history is an unpredictable prankster. Take Tesla, proud owner of around 70% of the U.S. electric-vehicle market. Tesla’s EV company reported a first-quarter 2022 profit of $3.2 billion, up from $438 million just a year earlier. American car companies are ramping up fast, chasing Tesla’s tail and hoping to claim for themselves a chunk of this latest technical gold rush. General Motors went so far as to pledge last month that it will stop producing gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035, just 13 years away. 

California is now home to 8% of EVs, compared with 2% nationally. Determining an EV’s purchase price is kind of like determining how much a dress costs; you can buy Gucci gold lamé or the latest sweat-shop import, fresh off a container ship from Southeast Asia. But, on average, according to Kelley Blue Book, an EV runs $56,437, about $10,000 more than its gas equivalent, though sales of high-end luxury models are growing fast and can cost $100,000 or more. And California taxpayers will pay you personally up to $4,500 to buy an EV─another perk for the rich, like generous state and local taxpayer-funded rebates for rooftop solar. EVs also cost more to operate─on average $10,360 annually compared with $8,691 for a gasoline vehicle, and charging an EV with the average 66 kWh of electricity is equivalent to 70 pounds of coal or 8 gallons of gasoline (about 20% of one barrel). 

So who’s buying these cars? In California 49% of EVs are purchased by high-income residents, a percentage that grows an additional 20% when mid/high-income young families are factored in. (An aside: California ranks #17 on ZipRecruiter’s list of average annual incomes at $66,157, roughly $10,000 more than the average EV costs).

Analysts interviewed by the New York Times projected recently that if every American switched to an EV, electricity demand would grow nationally by 25%. This is not a minor concern for California, home to the exploding EV market. According to the California Independent System Operator, California’s utilities currently operate 25,526 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 239,557 miles of distribution lines, two-thirds of which are overhead. California is additionally interconnected, transmission-wise, with all or portions of 14 western states, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and the northern portion of Mexico’s Baja California, through the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, which is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with technical safety standards for those far-flung transmission lines. California imports 33% of its electricity, about half of which is supplied by natural gas generators and about 10% of which is supplied by coal.

When an industry is making big money, our pro-business governments at all levels collectively turn a blind eye to uncomfortable questions, like where the juice to charge all those vehicles will come from and how it will make its way, travelling at the speed of light, to the distribution system that feeds your car charger. Our myopic emphasis on generation is unfortunate; generation is the easy part. Without a functioning electric grid to deliver electricity, generation is useless, whatever its source. As Americans we tend to think that someone, somewhere will work out whatever future problems inevitably crop up. The state’s electric transmission system is a poor choice for such blind optimism. 

California’s transmission system, born on July 13,1895, when the Folsom Powerhouse sent the first high-volume alternating current over long-distance transmission lines, is already under stress. According to a PowerOutage.US survey California tops the annual list of the most blackouts at 16,248, significantly higher than the second highest: New York at 12,830. If history is any indication, Californians would flip out and recall all its politicians at the notion of shouldering the cost of upgrading the state’s transmission system, even if it were possible given California’s interconnectedness with other systems throughout the West.

There’s nothing wrong with electric vehicles, whose owners are often passionate true believers likely to wrap this column around a piece of old fish destined for the garbage can. However unsexy this looming transmission issue may be, and however worrisome a cut-off of campaign contributions from auto makers may be to our elected officials, those who represent us need to pay attention to how skyrocketing sales of EVs could tank the electric grid, which in California already maintains slim reserves due to the state’s temperate climate. 

And tax dollars paid by everyone should not be turned into rebates for wealthy people who can afford to pay for their own toys; that money should instead be spent on upgrading facilities that benefit everyone.

* * *

* * *

QUALIFIED STATE BALLOT PROPS for November

State Propositions

According to Ballotpedia, the following propositions have so far qualified for the 2022 November ballot in California:

#1 Provides a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, including the right to an abortion.

#26 Legalizes sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California.

#27 Legalizes mobile sports betting and dedicates revenue to the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Account and the Tribal Economic Development Account

#28 Requires funding for K-12 art and music education.

#29 Enacts staffing requirements, reporting requirements, ownership disclosure, and closing requirements for chronic dialysis clinics.

#30 Increases the tax on personal income above $2 million by 1.75% and dedicates revenue to zeroemission vehicle projects and wildfire prevention programs.

#31 Upholds the ban on flavored tobacco sales.

* * *

IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD

Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles, grocery shopping. According to Peter, this is in Mexico, 1969 - thanks to Tom Anderson for this one.

In the course of their friendship, Bogdanovich tried to get Welles back into Hollywood and get financing for movies, albeit without success. In 1968, Orson Welles got in touch and suggested that Bogdanovich (known as a writer prior to his directing career) do a book-length set of interviews with him like the one that Bogdanovich had just done with director John Ford. The resulting book, “This Is Orson Welles” (which took a winding path to publication, in 1992, seven years after Welles’s death), is a classic of the literature of movies.

* * *

BURYING PG&E LINES

Many stories have been broadcast on this issue:

Excerpt from KCRA-tv in 2022:

May 13, 2022 — At the rate of $2.5 million per mile, it will cost PG&E $25 billion to underground 10,000 miles of power lines.

And, from Associated Press in July 2021

“SAN RAMON, Calif. — Pacific Gas & Electric plans to bury 10,000 miles of its power lines in an effort to prevent its fraying grid from sparking wildfires when electrical equipment collides with millions of trees and other vegetation across drought-stricken California. The daunting project announced Wednesday aims to bury about 10% of PG&E's distribution and transmission lines at a projected cost of $15 billion to as much as $30 billion, based on how much the process currently costs. The utility believes it will find ways to keep the final bill at the lower end of those estimates. Most of the costs will likely be shouldered by PG&E customers, whose electricity rates are already among the highest in the U.S.” 

So, meanwhile they estimate there about 8 billion trees within striking distance of their electric lines. I didn’t try to find the number of miles of line they have in total, but it seems it’s a huge undertaking 

Marilyn Boese

Fort Bragg

* * *

* * *

THE PRESS IS ALREADY WORKING OVERTIME TO ELECT TRUMP AGAIN

by Matt Taibbi

Negative media attention and the martyring effect of Internet censorship are the best friends Donald Trump ever had, but press antagonists are doubling down for 2024

“The 2024 Presidential Race Begins to Take Shape,” declared NPR this week, part of an early downpour of coverage. Eight hundred days from a vote, the world’s biggest analytical army is already working every angle to the election story but one: its own influence on the outcome. 

The press is going to elect Donald Trump again. They did it once, tried again four years later, and now they’re on the hunt a third time. They hate him, but they keep doing him favors, the latest being an attempt to kill off his biggest primary rival. 

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you likely noticed a sudden avalanche of center-left news offering left-handed praise of Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Reigning conventional wisdom weathervane Chris Cillizza of CNN came out with a DeSantis-heavy piece called, This is the best argument for Republicans to nominate someone other than Donald Trump in 2024, Vanity Fair went with DeSantis Splinters Never Trumpers, Politico opined that Liberals Should Welcome Ron DeSantis’ Rise,and famed Alfa-Bank hoaxer and New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins called the Floridian “Trump With a Brain” in “Can Ron DeSantis Displace Donald Trump as the GOP’s Combatant-in-Chief?”, leading a gleeful National Review to chirp, “The New Yorker Accidentally Makes Ron DeSantis Look Awesome.”

DeSantis was Satan incarnate with the same crowd about ten minutes ago, hammered for lockdown-averse Covid policies and for a “Don’t Say Gay” law that, in a minor detail, didn’t actually say not to say gay. Then, toward the end of June, stories began to circulate that DeSantis’ record gubernatorial fundraising efforts could be a springboard to a national run. 

That seemed to trigger the first in a series of manufactured campaign dramas of the “That Little Girl Was Me” type, beginning with apparent Democratic 2024 hopeful and California governor Gavin Newsom doing a DeSantis-aimed ad buy in Florida on the Fourth of July. Newsom, who has presidentish hair but not much else, wanted to pick a fight over who got to “own the word freedom.”

After this series of events, Trump began disappearing from Fox News broadcasts, a phenomenon conspicuous enough that the New York Times wrote a feature about it. Key passages:

On July 22, as Mr. Trump was rallying supporters in Arizona and teasing the possibility of running for president in 2024, saying “We may have to do it again,” Fox News chose not to show the event… Instead, the network aired Laura Ingraham’s interview with a possible rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida…

It also reflects concerns that Republicans in Washington, like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have expressed to the Murdochs about the potential harm Mr. Trump could cause to the party’s chances in upcoming elections.

By the end of July, both Democratic Party mouthpieces and the traditional GOP bureaucracy were open in their desire to run DeSantis in 2024 instead of Trump. Papers across the spectrum began commissioning polls and instantly began interpreting them as news that the public was in sync with these desires. This is from a Wednesday Post piece, “Trump is losing ground in the 2024 primary. Here’s why”:

Donald Trump leads in primary polls and is well-liked by his party — but his position is worse than it was a year ago… Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is gaining ground in primary polls, emerging as a plausible challenger…

The Post logic in claiming Trump’s 50%-24% poll lead won’t stick is that unlike 2016, when Trump had an “exclusive hold” on issues like immigration, he will face stiffer competition from DeSantis, who’s no softie on immigration himself. This conveniently forgets that leading Trump challenger Ben Carson in 2016 was proposing using drones on border migrants (“You look at some of these caves… one drone strike, boom, and… gone”). Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal came out for ending automatic citizenship for immigrant children, and even Jeb Bush pledged to stop “anchor babies.” The idea that Trump was the only Republican talking tough on immigration in 2016 is delusional.

We’re watching a replay of 2015-2016, when one establishment organ after another ran laudatory stories about establishment-approved Trump rivals supposedly seizing control of the race from twenty, thirty, forty points back. Who could forget MSNBC’s “Is Ted Cruz 2016's invisible GOP front-runner?”, or the Washington Post conferring the same “plausible nominee” moniker on John Kasich that’s now cursing DeSantis, or temporarily tumescent headlines like “Marco Rubio has surged to the front of the pack”? In 2015 a near-identical New York Times story about Rupert Murdoch’s “misgivings” about the “catastrophe” Trump ran to no effect, and the National Review published a massive “Against Trump” issue, in which editors and an all-star cast of Republican heavies railed against the “excrescences of instant-hit media culture.”

These efforts all failed, because none of these media figures — including all-powerful Fox boss Murdoch — could come to terms with the voting public’s changed attitude toward campaign press. In every previous cycle, if Mark Halperin of ABC said John Kerry was in a “strong position” to win the Democratic nomination, Kerry would win. If Sean Hannity gave a full-hour backrub to John McCain, McCain would be the Republican nominee. The campaign press really were kingmakers, once. 

By 2015-2016, things switched. In a snap, establishment press approval was a death knell. Trump didn’t win because he had the most sadistic immigration policy. He won because he had the most consistent disapproval of an increasingly hated Washington political establishment. The instant Republican voters saw blue-leaning media types like Chuck Todd doing primetime town halls with Rubio in Miami before the Florida primary, or the Times running stories like “John Kasich Sees Path to Nomination Despite Low Delegate Count” in breathless tones far beyond anything they’d written about, say, Bernie Sanders, they bolted. 

If pundits really wanted a Trump-free race, they would describe DeSantis as a fascist menace, a “Real Hitler, This Time” who itches to slit democracy’s throat and ravage its corpse. There would be campaigns to pressure Visa and Mastercard into refusing payments for Dreams of Our Founding Fathers, along with boycotts of Florida oranges, Dolphins highlights, Carl Hiassen novels, and anything else “Florida” that activists could think of. 

DeSantis, who’s no dummy, sees how fraught this moment is, which is why he told the cast of The View to go fuck itself when they invited him on. Why, the DeSantis people asked, would the governor agree to sit with people who’d bashed him as a “homicidal sociopath,” a “fascist and a bigot,” and “anti-black,” unless they wanted to hype him as a less horrible buffer against Trump, who would never in a million years get the same invite? (That fact alone makes DeSantis look like a fake to Republicans). By trying to confer pseudo-credibility on DeSantis, these outlets are destroying the Floridian’s credibility as an outsider, leaving Trump the only choice for the burn-it-down vote. 

The nihilist strain in American politics pre-dates Trump. It came in part from an establishment reflex that involved excluding “fringe” candidates and their followers. You could see it in 2000, when in an act of remarkable pettiness the Committee on Presidential Debates refused to let Green Party nominee Ralph Nader attend a Bush-Gore debate even as a ticketed spectator. In 2008, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were overheard muttering how debates should be restricted to a “serious and smaller group” (they were tired of having to debate Dennis Kucinich). On the Republican side Ron Paul supporters were regularly barred from events involving “legitimate” candidates like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (“I guess they’d rather have Huey or Dewey or Louie or whatever,” one booted Paul supporter complained to me outside a Newt event in South Carolina).

Suppressing the fringe became harder when it grew and started winning primaries. The distinguishing feature of Trump’s 2016 run was extraordinary media attention, which most analysts (including me, at one point) incorrectly assumed gave him an edge by allowing him to get his message out for free. But Trump’s candidacy only really took off when the press attention went sharply negative. The mechanism that launched him from small plurality to victory in the general was a coverage avalanche that conferred elite disapproval in massive doses. The more times outlets like fivethirtyeight.com incorrectly insisted Trump couldn’t be nominated because “voters are paying more attention,” or the Washington Post ran headlines like, “The three times Donald Trump demonstrated he was unfit for the presidency in last night’s debate,” the more he gained.

The legacy press is still in denial about these coverage strategies. They also still ignore evidence of a similarly impotent showing in the 2020 Democratic race. Efforts by outlets like Vanity Fair and New York to hype elite-approved candidates from Kamala Harris to Beto O’Rourke to Pete Buttigieg to Kamala again to Amy Klobuchar to Mike freaking Bloomberg all flatlined, as in zero-point-zero levels of voter response.

Meanwhile the consistent stories all season were the stubbornly high numbers of Weekend at Bernie’s act Joe Biden and hated media whipping boy Bernie Sanders. The most damning evidence of impotence that year was that Trump gained with black and Hispanic voters in 2020 after four years of relentless messaging about Trumpism as literal white supremacy. Even tiny shifts of this type in Trump’s direction would have been impossible if traditional media had anything like net positive legitimacy. 

Trump and Sanders both surged in 2016 when they described a country divided into a small corrupt establishment and everyone else, and declared themselves on the side of everyone else. The journalistic priesthood that’s spent the last 6-7 years denouncing these people and their voters has done the opposite, proudly aligning itself with the hated inside, celebrating credentialism, and worst of all, cheering a censorship movement that’s now proven to be an abject failure. 

That story is among the biggest taboos in media now. Trump deservedly hit an all-time low in approval after the events of January 6th, sinking to 34% according to Gallup, and the Trump era seemed over when he was removed from Twitter and Facebook shortly after. Instead, by almost every measure, Silenced Trump has only improved his electoral viability since. In his first two years in office, when Trump had the bully pulpit and the world’s most-watched Twitter account, he was under 40% approval most of the time, averaging 41% overall for his entire presidency. His lowest moments came after his own statements went viral. Now, although down from March, when he briefly hit 45.7%, he’s hovering around 42%, better than his presidential average — despite near-complete exclusion from “respectable” media. 

People like Trump don’t go away when zapped by Facebook and Twitter. Blue-check journalists just don’t see them as much, a dubious reportorial advantage. This new press that forgives its own mistakes but cheers lifetime bans for others needs to realize it’s achieving negative influence in the process. Failure to stare that dynamic in the face means they’re sure to repeat the error over and over, remaining in their beloved roles as gatekeepers, only in reverse. Now they’re constant threats to praise pols like DeSantis or Buttigieg out of contention. They’re kingmakers of suck, and after two election cycles, still don’t know it. Can they really keep it up for a third?

* * *

PERHAPS, WHILE DINING OUT RECENTLY, you've noticed restaurant staff pouring a stream of wine into customers' mouths from a large glass vessel with a sharp-pointed spout. 

The recipient tilts back their head and opens their mouth wide as a thin cascade of liquid arcs through the air into the back of their throat. There's a name for this strangely shaped pitcher: a porrón.

You might assume, if you're not familiar with the porrón, that it's simply the latest Bay Area restaurant gimmick, an heir to the same lineage as the caviar bump and the chambong. After all, it's become all the rage within a certain subset of very hip natural wine spots, like Shuggie's Trash Pie and Habibi in San Francisco, and Snail Bar in Oakland. Depending on the scene, it can come across as a pretty bro-y activity — the adult equivalent of a beer bong.

But before it became an obsession in the natural wine community, the porrón was an everyday fixture in many Spanish bars and restaurants....

— Esther Mobley

19 Comments

  1. George Hollister August 5, 2022

    Matt Taibbi:

    “Silenced Trump has only improved his electoral viability since. In his first two years in office, when Trump had the bully pulpit and the world’s most-watched Twitter account, he was under 40% approval most of the time, averaging 41% overall for his entire presidency. His lowest moments came after his own statements went viral. Now, although down from March, when he briefly hit 45.7%, he’s hovering around 42%, better than his presidential average — despite near-complete exclusion from “respectable” media.”

    Taibbi makes many good points, the one above is that Trump benefits from having his mouth muted. Also what is implied in the piece is that the approval ratings for media are worse than the ratings for Trump ever have been, much worse.

    • Cotdbigun August 5, 2022

      And now the worst rating ever at 38% by teleprompter guy.

  2. Michael Koepf August 5, 2022

    Ref. Redwood Drive-In Black Limo.
    Mendocino political insiders believe that was former Congressman, capo-de-capo, Doug Bosco, in town for a clandestine meeting with Supervisor Teddy-bowtie Williams for a discussion about Teddy-bowtie’s promising future.

  3. Marmon August 5, 2022

    “I’d like to extend a huge THANK YOU to the Media. The more you attacked me, the higher I climbed in the polls. ♥️

    When will you learn?”

    -Kari Lake for AZ Governor

  4. Chuck Dunbar August 5, 2022

    VIN SCULLY: “THE BEST BASEBALL ANNOUNCER EVER”

    Several brief excerpts from this fine man’s N.Y. Times obituary:

    “When the Dodgers opened their final regular-season home series of 2016, against the Colorado Rockies, Mr. Scully was honored at home plate. ‘When you roar, when you cheer, when you are thrilled for a brief moment, I’m 8 years old again,’ he told the crowd. ‘You have allowed me to be young at heart. I owe you everything.’”

    “‘Most play-by-play announcers partner with an analyst in the booth to chat about the action,’ Mr. Obama (awarding Scully the Presidential Medal of Freedom) said. ‘Vin worked alone and talked just with us. When he heard about this honor, Vin asked with characteristic humility: ‘Are you sure? I’m just an old baseball announcer.’ And we had to inform him that to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend.’”

    “I regard him as the best baseball announcer ever.” (Bob Costas)

    • Bruce Anderson August 5, 2022

      I consider Russ and Lon the best ever, then Bill King, then Joe Starkie. As a Frisco guy, I never heard Vin except in clips.

  5. Kirk Vodopals August 5, 2022

    Cheney is as stupid as Trump… Cheney should shut his dumb mouth. His criticism of Trump only increases support for Orange Douche. Remember what Trump said about McCain? Trump and the Qanon twits have deluded themselves into subscribing to the most idiotic political and societal beliefs this country has ever seen. Just ask Alex Jones about Sandy Hook. But they get a few things right now and again…including how hypocritical the war criminals like Bush and Cheney are

    • Marmon August 5, 2022

      Keep up the good work, stuff like this make Trump supporters even more determined. Like me, Trump never voted for either Bush or Cheney. We were both Democrats back then. Lumping Trump in with those two warmongers just excites his base.

      Marmon

  6. Chuck Dunbar August 5, 2022

    JUST AND DUE PUNISHMENT FOR ALEX JONES

    “Jurors Award $45.2 Million in Punitive Damages After Lawyer for Sandy Hook Parents Asks Them to ‘Stop Alex Jones.’

    A Texas jury on Friday decided that the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting $45.2 million in punitive damages, one day after rendering a $4 million award for compensatory damages.

    The jury announced both awards after several dramatic days in court that included testimony that Mr. Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of his misinformation-peddling media outlet, Infowars, were worth between $135 million and $270 million. ”
    New York Times, 8/5/22

    • Marmon August 5, 2022

      RE: MEAN MR. MUSTARD

      Chuckles, why are you being so mean? I feel sorry for him because he was just an entertainer. This could have serious implications for other entertainers such as comedians and actors.

      Marmon

      • Marmon August 5, 2022

        Anyone who took him serious should be held accountable, the rest of us just liked watching him and purchasing his testosterone supplements.

        Marmon

        • Chuck Dunbar August 5, 2022

          Your usual bullshit, James. “Just an entertainer” is an especially stupid comment. And if “the rest of us just liked watching him,” is how you live your life, that’s just sad.

          • Marmon August 6, 2022

            Alex Jones says his defamation trial was ‘CORDINATED AND RUN’ by billionaire George Soros

            Marmon

            • Bruce Anderson August 6, 2022

              Alex Jones said Sandy Hook was faked.

              • Steve Heilig August 6, 2022

                At least he’s consistent.

    • Chuck Dunbar August 5, 2022

      “Alex Jones Ordered to Pay $49.3M Total Over Sandy Hook Lies”

      “…Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for particularly egregious conduct, beyond monetary compensation awarded to the individuals they hurt. A high punitive award is also seen as a chance for jurors to send a wider societal message and a way to deter others from the same abhorrent conduct in the future…”

      Associated Press, 8/5/22

  7. George Hollister August 5, 2022

    “Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center was contacted by a concerned parent regarding their two missing children who were left in the care of Edward “Two Feathers” Steele, 32, of Ukiah, at a hotel in the 1300 block of North State Street in Ukiah.”

    What responsible parent would leave their 1, and 2 year old children with Two Feathers in the first place? It would seem there is more to this story.

    • Marmon August 5, 2022

      RE: GIVE US BLONDS AND BLUE EYES

      I bet these children were on CPS’s radar but because they were most likely Indian babies they ignored the risk, and most likely paid for the motel room. I don’t care for how the Government treated Indian children in the past, but it’s time to re-examine the Indian Child Welfare Act. One of the things I was targeted for by the county was because I was questing some of the decisions regarding Indian Children. The County is always in negotiations with the tribes, especially if they have a casino.

      Marmon

    • Stephen Rosenthal August 5, 2022

      I thought the same thing.

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