BIDEN'S GUN CONTROL PLAN — Buy your gat at WalMart. According to White House press releases, VP Joe Biden is considering a range of gun control proposals — including an option of working with stores like Wal-Mart to close the so called “gun show loophole” so that more weapons could be bought in retail outlets, the idea being that Wal-Mart and other major gun retailers might have an incentive to back closing the loophole which allows people to bypass background checks if they buy firearms at gun shows or via private sales. The NRA opposes new restrictions on gun ownership and insists that the best way to deal with the issue of gun violence is to put armed guards in all schools. Jay Carney, White House press secretary, said that Biden was overseeing a process engaged with a variety of stakeholders to look at gun violence. “They include gun owners and groups that represent gun owners.” Sheriff Richard Stanek, who attended one meeting at the White House, told the Washington Post said that Biden “wanted to talk to us about the assault-weapons ban, automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines. He added that the meeting also included extended discussion of mental-health issues, violence in video games and films, and the poor quality of information contained in databases used to conduct criminal background checks before issuing gun permits. According to the White House, “soon after” the meetings are complete, Biden will pass his task force's recommendations to Obama, who will then issue a set of proposals for tackling gun violence.
AN ANTIBIOTIC-resistant gonorrhea has been detected in American patients. A study released Wednesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association announced it had found nine patients with a strain of the sexually transmitted disease immune to the last remaining effective oral antibiotic. This confirms the fears of both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization who warned last year that untreatable gonorrhea, the world's second most common STD would soon become a reality. We haven't seen the clap-stats for Mendocino County lately, but STDs have been a problem here ever since the Big Naked Pile days of the early 1970s.
A SERIOUSLY GOOD restaurant in Ukiah? Believe it, and this is it: the Walter Cafe seems almost lost in the squat anarcho-jumble of North State Street (next to the Day's Inn). This place is seriously good. I had no idea what to expect when a Ukiah friend and I, on her recommendation, went there for dinner Tuesday night. I think the structure used to be a pizza place where the Ukiah Fat Heads met to celebrate Rush Limbaugh, but Ukiah, before and after dark can be disorienting, and there were no residual Limbaugh vibes. You enter through the Sushi bar, which caused me to suspect it was a Sushi place, a suspicion re-confirmed by a jolly greeting from an Asian guy functioning as maitre 'de. It was about 5:30 but the place was already busy. Seated, an Hispanic waitress handed us what seemed like five pounds of menus including a booze list that has got to rival the White House's; everything from quality single malts to expensive wines and Boonville Beer. I'm not a decor guy. I'm a sit down and eat guy. But looking around the room… Well, I'm going back in the daylight for a closer look. I was reminded a little of my house. There was a display case filled with dolls, one of those decorative Thai elephants, and what may have been an antique gumball machine. The menu was equivalently eclectic. There was everything from steak to sushi and a bunch of Italian and Mexican dishes, too. Whoever does the cooking has been around, for sure. We ordered too much, six dishes, but the tab was only 60 bucks. My friend said the breakfasts at Walter are “outtasight.” Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Service is fast and pleasant. Great place — as good as anything in San Francisco.
THURSDAY (Jan 10) the B of A, an organized criminal enterprise, will be recruiting Mendocino-Fort Bragg people for a commercial, the idea of which seems to be to retrieve and re-burnish their tarnished public image. I wonder if the producers of this thing realize that the Mendocino Coast, while thespian-rich, is also home to a large population of bank-hostile persons. Call the Coast Chamber of Commerce for casting-call venues.
HUNG CHOW called into work and said, “Hey, I no come work today, I really sick. Got headache, stomach ache and legs hurt, I no come work.” The boss, John, replied, “You know something, Hung Chow, I really need you today. When I feel sick like you do, I go to my wife and tell her to give me sex. That makes everything better and I go to work. Why don’t you try that?” Two hours later Hung Chow called again. “I do what you say and I feel great. I be at work soon. … You got nice house.”
DEPUTIES from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to room #178 at the Discovery Inn [in Ukiah] for a reported shooting on January 5, 2013 at about 6:10pm. Upon their arrival they learned a guest at the Inn had exited her room to discover a Hispanic male adult rummaging through the inside of her vehicle parked in the Inn parking lot. The victim confronted the Hispanic male, later identified as Baraquel Simon Ruiz, and grabbed his body to remove him from inside her vehicle. A brief struggled ensued and Ruiz began walking away from the victim. The victim yelled at Ruiz who then produced a small caliber handgun from his waistband. Ruiz pointed the handgun towards the victim and fired 2-3 rounds, which struck the passenger side of the victim’s vehicle. Ruiz then fled the scene on foot. Deputies were able to identified Ruiz as the shooter from a photo lineup with the victim. Ruiz was wearing a black beanie style hat, a black “puffy” style jacket and black jeans at the time of the shooting. Sheriff’s Detectives responded to the shooting scene and are continuing investigations into the incident at this time. Ruiz is still outstanding and should be considered armed and dangerous. A photograph of Ruiz is expected to be added to the “County’s Most Wanted” section of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office website (www.mendocinosheriff.com). If anyone has information on Ruiz’s whereabouts they should call the Sheriff’s Office tip line at 234-2100 or Sheriff’s Office dispatch center at 463-4086.
JUST IN FROM CRAIG: How enlightened do you want to be? This book answers every question in regard to Absolute Reality. Kashmir Saivism, The Central Philosophy of Tantrism, by Kamalakar Mishra. Rudra Press, 1999, ISBN 978-915801-79-4
THE PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: Enabling Obama’s Rightward Moves? By Norman Solomon
The failure of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stand up to President Obama on many vital matters of principle is one of the most important – and least mentioned – political dynamics of this era.
As the largest caucus of Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Progressive Caucus has heavyweight size but flyweight punch.
During the last four years, its decisive footwork has been so submissive to the White House that you can almost hear the laughter from the West Wing when the Progressive Caucus vows to stand firm.
A sad pattern of folding in the final round has continued. When historic votes come to the House floor, party functionaries are able to whip the Progressive Caucus into compliance. The endgame ends with the vast majority of the caucus members doing what Obama wants.
That’s what happened on the first day of this year, when the “bipartisan” fiscal deal came down. Widely denounced by progressive analysts, the bill passed on the House floor by a margin of 44 votes – with the Progressive Caucus providing the margin. Out of 75 caucus members, only seven voted against it.
Over the years, we’ve seen that President Obama is willing – even satisfied – to be rolled by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill. But that’s just part of the problem. We should also come to terms with the reality that the Progressive Caucus is routinely rolled by the president.
A two-step prototype hit the ground running in September 2009 when Progressive Caucus co-chairs sent a public letter to Obama on behalf of the caucus – pledging to vote against any healthcare bill “without a robust public option.” Six months later, on the House floor, every member of the Progressive Caucus wilted under pressure and voted for a healthcare bill with no public option at all.
Since then, similar dynamics have persisted, with many Progressive Caucus members making fine statements of vigorous resolve – only to succumb on the House floor under intense pressure from the Obama administration.
We need Progressive Caucus members who are progressives first and loyal Democrats second, not the other way around. When the party hierarchy cracks the whip, they should strive to halt the rightward drift of congressional legislation, not add to it.
In the new session of Congress, the Progressive Caucus – with 72 members – retains major potential. It often puts out solid position papers like the recent Budget for All. And its leadership includes some of the sharpest progressive blades in the House. Congressmen Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva just won re-election as caucus co-chairs, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee just became the caucus whip.
Still, none of the more than half-dozen Progressive Caucus leaders were among the seven caucus members who voted against the New Year’s Day fiscal deal – and more serious capitulation may soon be on the near horizon.
Early this month, right after the fiscal deal, the Progressive Caucus put its best foot forward by issuing a “Progressive Principles for the Next Deal” statement that vowed to “protect” Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits. But those programs will be in jeopardy before spring in tandem with votes on “sequestration” and raising the debt ceiling.
The results are likely to be very grim unless members of the Progressive Caucus are truly prepared – this time – to stand their progressive ground. Without an attitude adjustment, they’re on track to help the president betray Social Security and other essential parts of the social compact.
On a vast array of profound issues – ranging from climate change and civil liberties to drone strikes, perpetual war and a huge military budget – some individual progressives in Congress introduce outstanding bills and make excellent statements. But when the chips are down and minority leader Nancy Pelosi offloads presidential weight onto House Democrats, the Progressive Caucus rarely shows backbone with cohesive action.
What we have witnessed so far is surrender in stages – a chronic confluence of conformity and undue party loyalty, with brave talk from caucus members habitually followed by contrary votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. From the grassroots, progressives must mobilize to pressure every member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to let them know we will hold them accountable.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.)
EEL RIVER RECOVERY PROJECT Vision and Action Gathering January 20th. The Eel River Recovery Project welcomes members and the public to the 2013 Vision and Action Gathering at the Krishnayala Retreat Center on January 20 from 9 AM to 4 PM. The membership will decide whether to join the Eel River Task Force in the morning and committees will convene for Eel River recovery- related action in the afternoon. The Krishnayala Retreat Center is located south of Richardson’s Grove at 83900 Highway 271. For more information call 223-7200 or the Trees Foundation at 923-4377.