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SEASONABLE WEATHER will occur today across Northwest California, followed by a warming trend during early to middle portions of the upcoming work week. High temperatures will subsequently warm into the upper 90s to locally 110 by Wednesday across interior valleys. Otherwise, mainly dry weather is expected during the next seven days. (NWS)
Experienced private elder caregiver available. Fully vaccinated and frequently testing. I live in Comptche, so prefer to work anywhere between little River and fort Bragg. CPR certified, first aid, and background checked. 52 year old woman with lots of life and work experience. Loving and kind, honest, great problem solver, sober, experience with bathing, cooking, errand running, doctors appointments, etc. Available for overnights a few days per week. Also experienced with personal assisting, childcare, and home management. Please contact me with your needs, and let’s talk to see if we could be a fit. Referrals available after pre-interview chat. Please contact my via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Toby is pretty mellow (by Husky standards) but still an active dog who enjoys being outside. This handsome guy will need regular exercise. Toby is easy to walk on-leash and playful with stuffies. Toby is our longest-stay guest (not sure why) and we would love to see him find his forever home. Mr. T is 4 years old and 59 pounds.
For more about Toby, and to see all our canine and feline guests, visit mendoanimalshelter.com. For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
THE CHP REPORTS:
On August 11, 2022, at approximately 10:20 AM, Cherie Peck was driving a silver Chevrolet Silverado and traveling south on Sherwood Road, south of Lupine Way. For reasons still under investigation, the Chevrolet crossed over the double yellow lines into the northbound lanes, and then left the roadway while becoming airborne. The Chevrolet turned in a clockwise direction while turning to its right and collided with a tree [Ms. Peck died upon impact]. Sherwood Road was closed in both directions for just under two hours for the scene investigation and vehicle recovery. It remains under investigation whether or not drugs or alcohol were a factor in this crash.
The California Highway Patrol, Brooktrails Fire Department, and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department all responded to the scene. This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol – Garberville Area.
ON LINE COMMENT: In the spirit of learning, so we don’t repeat these tragedies…for the continuing education of one of our “local Dr.s,” who suggested the posted speed wasn’t too fast, and slow drivers may have been the problem… I’m postulating that crossing the yellow line, leaving the roadway, and becoming airborne was at least independent of driving too slow, and even might have been from driving too fast.
You can drive too slow everyday, for the rest of your life. You can drive too fast, one more time for the rest of your life.
GREAT DAY IN ELK, on Saturday, August 27
After a two year hiatus the Greenwood Community Center is inviting our coastal and inland neighbors to come celebrate the 46th Annual Great Day in Elk with us.
It starts with a parade down Highway 1 at noon and then the festivities move to the Community Center.
There will be the traditional grease pole with a $100 bill at the top, games and craft projects, sack races, a watermelon eating contest, craft fair, a raffle and Silent Auction.
The live entertainment is headed up by Tricia Godwin aka DJ Nutrishious and features Mama Grows Funk, The Real Sarahs, Jamie Apelido, belly dancing by "The Trillium Tribe" and the fabulous cake auction.
There will be food all afternoon including Focaccia bread out of the brick oven and Moroccan Lentil Soup, Hot Dogs.’ Caesar Salad with or without chicken as well as Homemade Tamales will be served out of the kitchen. The Civic Club offers Blackberry Sundaes and all kinds of cookies for dessert. From 4 to 7 Elyse and David from Itzakaya Gama in Point Arena will serve up Shredded Teryaki Chicken or Curried Tofu Salad Sandwiches with Cole Slaw, Japanese Potato Salad and Yuzu Sesame Salad.
Not to forget, Elk's famous Margaritas as well as beer and wine will be available all day.
All proceeds benefit the Greenwood Community Center.
The Great Day is a wonderful event for the whole family. So, leave the dogs at home, but bring all the kids and come celebrate with us.
CHECK THEIR PRIORITIES
To the Editor
Is it just me? I drove down Franklin Street in Fort Bragg this morning on my way to work and I couldn't help but take note of all the empty storefronts. And then I think, what is our City Council doing to address this? More “affordable” housing? Another dog park? Economically, this town is in the toilet. Residents go out of town for health care, veterinary services; looking for trailer rentals instead of apartments. Elections are happening soon. Be sure what the candidates are prioritizing for our town!
RE THE SKUNK, an on-line comment:
To call it a railroad is a little misleading. It has no connections to the US rail network nor does it even connect Willits to Ft. Bragg its original purpose. The condition of the tracks, bridges and tunnels are so deferred it only runs a few miles out of Ft. Bragg to a collapsed tunnel. On the Willits side it goes seven or eight miles on track downgraded to "exempt" restricted to ten miles an hour. The lowest standard that still allows a "railroad" to operate. The tracks are out of service (unusable ) for lack of maintenance beyond the eight miles out of Willits all the way to the collapsed tunnel near Fort Bragg. There is little money to be made hauling tourists and no connections for freight. The real profits are in land development. Follow the money. If the profits from land development were certain to be reinvested back into the railroad then I would be in favor of the Skunks "land grab".
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE Calendar of Events
AV UNIFIED UPDATE
Monday is the big day and we are excited to welcome students back to school! I want to congratulate the Elementary staff on a beautiful orientation evening last night. What's better than visiting a clean and inviting campus, eating a popsicle, re-engaging with friends, and getting over that first day nervousness of meeting your new teacher. I applaud Principal Cymbre Thomas Swett sweat and her staff for their “Get it done!” attitude. I received a picture of Miss Mimi vacuuming the day before because it had to get done. That's what we do in Anderson Valley. We get it done. It was great to see so many parents there.
The Jr./Sr. High school is expecting a huge crowd of parents for the Thursday athletics dinner. We are delighted to have such strong parent turnout anticipated for this event.
I want to take a moment to review our covid protocols. Test kits were sent home in the orientation bags and were available last night at the elementary. The State has discontinued our pooled testing. We really would appreciate everyone testing before they come to school on Monday. We will also have masks available. We know there are different beliefs and comforts around masking. Your choice, whatever it is, is a great choice. We will be infusing that into our school culture.
Have a wonderful weekend! We are so glad to have your students back!
AV HIGH SCHOOL UPDATE
A New Day has come to Anderson Valley... I want to share a post that we received on our communication site from a parent. “I applaud everything that is done for the success, well-being, and safety of my son. All of these boys deserve to know more about the place where they live, there are so many of them with a lot of potential, they just lack support and guidance to reach their goals. Thank you for helping my son to achieve it.”
I can feel our parents/guardians are also ready for a new day. We are expecting more than 175 of our parents, guardians, and staff to attend our dinner on Thursday, September 18th at 5. Terri Rhoades is cooking up a tasty meal. Remember, this is adults only. We will be serving in the cafeteria at 5:00 p.m. and eating there and out on the lawn areas, and then moving into the gym for the required presentation. I am so excited that so many of you are able to show your support for your students, coaches, and this community by being there. Translation will be provided.
The Staff are committed to seeking a renewal to a post-Covid High School culture and life. That includes the robust introduction of expectations and uniform consistency and execution of school policies. That includes dress code, drug prevention, introduction of more opportunities for after-school programming, increased mental health support, and a refresh of the school site so kids can be proud of and enjoy the place where they spend most of the day.
The last week before you open school is a crazy combination of administrative things like curriculum, networking with staff, and throwing trash in the dumpster because we simply don't have enough hands to get everything done. I'm proud of this District as they rallied together to put the finishing touches on for your student.
We had a group of students visit the site on Thursday who had not been there over the summer. As they walked around they got happier and happier and became absolutely giddy when they looked in and saw the large screen TVs that had been installed. You could just tell they were thrilled to be there. That's what we want. We want kids to be thrilled to be at school.
Here is a week at a glance for our staff, so you will understand what your student will be learning the first week about our new school culture. I am sending this to you so you can ask them specific questions about it.
Week at a Glance
AV Jr./Sr. High School
August 15, 2022
MONDAY, August 15–Welcome back!
Review expectations in the handbook during First Period (p. 5, 6, and 20-22).
Show students the Keystone Referral Link
Junior High Teachers bring students to the library for the check in/check out process daily.
Club Sign Ups in Breezeway
JH Tech in the library during 6th period - 8th grade 2:30-2:50 7th grade 3-3:20
TUESDAY, August 16.
Review Student handbook During First Period (p. 23- 27 - stop at dress code). Auto Mechanic students will receive passes to come to Dome C at 12:15 (4th period)
WEDNESDAY, August 17
Review Student handbook During Fourth Period (p. 27-30 - stop at electronic Dev. pol.) HS teachers, please remind students taking college auto mechanics to meet at the bus at 1pm.
THURSDAY, August 18
Review Student handbook During First Period (p.30-32)
Expectation Stations Periods 6 (JH) and 7 (HS)
Keystone will be on-site today. Athletics Dinner–5:00 p.m. All certificated Staff to Participate
FRIDAY, August 19
Review Student handbook During First Period (p. 23- 34)
MONDAY, August 22 (NOTE - if computers are early, this could happen during the first week)
Students Will Be Called To The Library By Class
Period 2 - Seniors (9:20-9:45ish)
Period 3 - Juniors (10:35-11:50)
Period 4 - Sophomores (11:40-12:05)
Period 5 - Freshmen (1:15-1:40)
Club sign ups will be in the breezeway! We are hosting a Photography Club, GSA, Hiking Club, Service Learning, Academic Support, Super Mario Brothers Gaming, and More. Get Your Kid To Sign Up! The more they have to do, the better! The clubs are for six week intervals and limited to ten per group. Clubs start Next Week.
My Mendo Auto Mechanics class starts Wednesday. I will go over with them the first day and Mr. Johnson will be with them as well.
See you monday! Please make sure your students are on-time and dressed appropriately!
Anderson Valley Unified School District
ONE SET OF BOOKS TOO MANY
by Jim Shields
By now most folks are probably aware that at the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting on August 2, Board Chairman Ted Williams made what appeared to be an astonishing statement about the County keeping “three different sets of books.”
That’s at least one set of books too many.
Here’s the gist of Williams comments, “I would like to ask my colleagues for support on direction to the CEO’s office to reach out to the state controller’s office to help us get our books in order. … I’m three and half years into a term. I worry, I’m coming up on the point where I can no longer use the excuse, ‘I’m new here.’ And yet in the three and a half years, I haven’t been able to get a credible financial report. I understand we have three different sets of books. They all differ. Why? … So how much accumulated error is there, and over how many years is it? Ten years? Is it thirty years? Is that why we have different sets of books, with different numbers? Because we never incorporate the outside audit findings? I think we have a financial crisis here, and we just don’t know how bad it is.”
On the different sets of books issue, I can tell you in my working career — which is roughly divided between the first half when I was international president of an airline industry union, and now as the head of a rural public water utility — I’ve always kept two sets of books, i.e., two systems of accounting: the cash basis and the accrual basis. For financial reporting purposes to state and federal agencies, my organizations always used the accrual basis as the official method or format, but the cash basis was a handy tool to quickly determine real-time income and expenses.
But that’s not what Williams was talking about.
Darcie Antle, recently promoted to CEO from the acting CEO position, responded to Williams, “I would agree with you. I’m not quite sure. I think a lot of the reason we have asked for a pause in the labor negotiations is that we don’t know. We don’t have a clear vision on what the books are, and where the finances are. And those discussions need to continue with the new Auditor-Controller.”
Third District Supervisor John Haschak’s take was the most on-point as he explained, “The County Budget has been the center of most discussions. People have asked me many questions. Are we really as broke as reported? How did this happen when we were supposedly flush with reserves? Why can’t the County hire more staff or at least pay the current staff decently? How did we end up with a $7 million deficit for the health care plan? What is happening with the combined Treasurer/Tax Collector/Auditor Controller position? What is the Board of Supervisors doing about this mess? … According to the money people, the budget is bleak. There is little spare money … The County’s health plan is self-funded. Costs rise due to the experiences and expenses of our employees. Medical costs in Mendocino County are high. The health plan had deficits of $3.6 and $4.0 million dollars in the last two years. This was not fully reported until a few months ago … The combined positions of Auditor/Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector (ACTTC) was not recommended by the people in those offices. I voted against it but the BOS passed it. So the question is how do we make it work now that that is the plan. The Board appointed Chamise Cubbison to the position since she was elected in the June election though normally she wouldn’t take charge until January. There have been staffing issues, problems with technology, loss of institutional knowledge, and lack of time for a complete review of how to structure the combined offices … I am proposing that we have a special Board meeting to work out these issues of communication and differing books. If we all aren’t on the same page, then we have real problems and the public deserves better. The Board needs to sit down with the Executive Office staff and ACTTC to figure out where we are financially, how we got here, and what is the path forward.”
Joining with Haschak’s commonsense approach to dealing with this quasi-alarming development, Norm Thurston, an auditor and former-Sheriff Tom Allman’s budget manager, offered this online advice:
“A message to the Board of Supervisors: If you want to get some factual information on the County's financial systems, you should talk to the one person who knows the most about those systems — Chamise Cubbison. Whoever is providing you with financial information now is not doing a very good job of it. To Chamise, I suggest you wander down to the Board chambers when they are discussing fiscal matters. Your presence may motivate our 5 supervisors to be more thoughtful before making unsubstantiated comments.”
Finally, the one person who should have been contacted first but was never given the courtesy of addressing the BOS at the August 2nd meeting, is Chamise Cubbison, Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax-Collector. By the way, it was a monumental blunder for the Supervisors (with the exception of Haschak) to consolidate the previously independent offices of Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax-Collector. One of the cardinal rules of financial management is you never eliminate internal financial controls, which is what happened when the Board combined the two offices. You weaken financial checks and balances when you do. As I said, it was a monumental blunder by the BOS that contributed to the creation of the current financial mess they’re in.
Here are excerpts from Cubbison’s memo to the BOS:
“It has been brought to my attention that the Board gave direction to staff to contact the State Controller’s Office about the County’s financial systems and that several false statements were made during today’s [Tuesday’s] meeting. I respectfully request that staff delay reaching out to the State until after a presentation is made to the Board on the FY 2020-21 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) and the FY 2020-21 Single Audit that is currently being finalized. Such presentation was already anticipated to be scheduled once the Single Audit is released … There has been no request to discuss the relationships between the County finance system, the ACFR, and the Budget Schedules since I became Acting Auditor-Controller or Auditor-Controller/Treasurer Tax-Collector until this week. No specific questions were brought forward other than to request a discussion of those areas of the financial system and why they do not all present information in exactly the same way. It seems very premature to sound alarms and contact the State when it is likely that perhaps those raising concerns simply do not understand how things are presented, and when given the opportunity to hear from the audit firm may understand better … In addition, there was a lot of misinformation discussed at today’s meeting, and no opportunity for rebuttal or open discussion. I would hope the Board would seek information directly before spreading rumors … The CEO’s office is responsible for managing the Health Plan, authorizing payment of all Health Plan payables, and reviewing various reports. It is unfortunate that the CEO’s office and the Health Plan consultants did not sound the alarm sooner on the growing deficit, but that is not because the information was not available … In closing, I respectfully request that there be a discussion and further education about the financial systems before the County reaches out to the State to request help in these areas.”
I learned a long time ago that problems just don’t happen, people make them happen.
And since people make them happen, people can make them un-happen.
Haschak, Thurston, and Cubbison are all saying the same thing. It’s time for everybody to get in the same room and get this problem solved.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, 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)
SUPER FORT BRAGG FILM WORKSHOP
Super Fort Bragg: a free, all-ages, Super 8 film workshop!
Saturday, August 20 at the Larry Spring Museum
Workshop 12 — 5 pm, Screening 8 pm
All equipment and materials provided. Everyone welcome!
Learn about Super 8 cinematography and eco-processing in this fun, all-ages workshop presented by the Larry Spring Museum and Echo Park Film Center Los Angeles.
Part 1: Workshop (Noon - 5 pm)
Using the classic home-movie camera, participants will explore the history and artistic applications of Super 8 filmmaking. This one-day workshop includes basic camera operation, filming techniques and hand-processing using local fruit, flowers, leaves and seaweed. No previous filmmaking experience is necessary. All equipment and materials are provided by EPFC.
Part 2: Screening (8 - 10 pm)
In addition to premiering the short films created in the afternoon workshop, the evening screening will feature new short films from EPFC international projects including The Sound We See: A Bukhara City Symphony.
Donations are welcome!
Anne Maureen McKeating
707 962 3131
“THE MOST HATED MAN on the Internet” is a Netflix documentary about a guy as vile as a guy can be, and a living example of an internet crime that should have been disallowed the instant it appeared. Of course I'd heard of “revenge porn” but wasn't curious enough about it to learn more, assuming it was simply more evidence of our society in free fall.
THEN I watched the doc about a depraved young Sacramento man named Hunter Moore, fascinated that he'd parlayed misogynistic voyeurism, much of it stolen, much of it mercifully excluded from this fine film about this uniquely evil little bastard, wondering why he'd been permitted for so long to monetize doing real harm to so many young women.
PREDICTABLY, millions of twisted young men worship Moore, even going so far to form fan groups that address him as “Father.” (Shades of Jim Jones!) Unsurprisingly, the authorities are slow, even reluctant to bring him down, but the valiant, heroically intrepid mother of one of his many victims finally gets him packed off to the federal pen because he and another moral monster had hacked into the phones and computers of many of his victims, and hacking is a crime.
MOORE is not interesting. Just another brash hustler who cashes in on his correct assumption that there are millions of oafs out there as stupidly and as casually cruel as he is.
MOORE'S girlfriend? Accurately described by one viewer as “a strung-out anorexic junkie who seems to have taken on the full weight of all his crimes and is physically and mentally punishing herself for them. Poor girl. I hope someone intervenes for her and gets her the help she deserves. I don't know what she was on but her slurring was getting so slow towards the end I thought the battery in my VCR was running out...”
THE HACKER seems genuinely remorseful, apologizing to one of his victims in court, but Moore was and is unrepentant, and if you, young fella reading this, have been one of his fans you better get yourself a humanity check because you're as sick as he is.
THE FILM is very well done, but I came away from it kinda scared, actually, that many versions of Moore are lurking up there in the ethers from where they pounce to eat the brains of the unsuspecting, maintaining sites that glory in sadistic, criminal behavior from animal torture to assaults on elderly pedestrians, every inhuman crime imaginable.
ALSO RECOMMENDED VIEWING is “The Anarchists” which, from its title, I expected to be a scholarly documentary on the founding texts and classical anarchist movements, including the American IWW movement once prominent in the timber industry of the American Northwest.
NOPE, it's about serial gatherings of mostly wealthy free enterprisers assembled in genuinely anarchic Acapulco, considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. These poolside anarchists bear no resemblance to the anti-capitalist early twentieth century tough guys who worked the woods and mills for 35 cents an hour for sixty hour work weeks. Capitalism has been very good to these predator-“anarchists” who, their lofty theorizing aside, don't want to pay taxes.
THE WOODS AND MILL OWNERS of the IWW era time would have fit right in with Jeff Berwick's sybarite “anarchists” at his farcical annual event in Mexico. Berwick, a Canadian, describes himself as an “anarcho-capitalist,” as that self-cancelling qv separates him forever from Bakunin and, say, Johann Most, “a bomb on his desk at all times,” as Lawrence Ferlinghetti admiringly put it about a famous American anarchist.
OF COURSE many of the latter-day Acapulco anarchists are Randians, heavily influenced by the crackpot Ayn Rand of The Fountainhead and other unreadable novels celebrating ruthless individuals who accumulate fortunes at great human and social cost that she saw as “supermen.”
THE MARTINI ANARCHISTS of the Berwick type are leavened by a few hippies of the gimmee-free everything-so-I-don't-have-to-work type who, predictably because of their drug habits, run lethally afoul of Acapulco's many drug gangs, the true government of the city.
THERE'S A LOT of wonderfully funny episodes of the unintended type in the series, one of which features a Bitcoin vending machine set up in a vegan restaurant. The machine, a ripped-off American ATM allows suckers to exchange hard currencies for Bitcoins until Interpol police confiscate it a few hours after it has been installed. There are also plenty of hilarious New Age riffs by stoned conference goers and lots of side dramas, including an unhinged veteran who promises “to make a coat out of hippie scalps.” But these three thousand or so “anarchists” aren't hippies, they're more like sated narcissists who don't like rules that directly impinge on them.
THERE ARE SIX total episodes. I'm waiting for episode five. Great stuff, and highly recommended by the mighty ava.
AS THE MILLIONAIRE anarchists cavorted on-screen, I thought back to the great 1935 strike in Eureka, partially led by a well known communist named Mickie Lima, born and raised in Arcata. American anarchists bitterly opposed and fought American communists at many labor showdowns, but there's no mention of anarchists or the IWW in the Eureka strike that I recall from the several books on that event. I don't think lefties of any genre were ever able to penetrate anarchic Mendocino County until, perhaps, Earth First! circa '88-'95.
LOCAL TRIBES ON OPPOSING SIDES IN FIGHT OVER SPORTS BETTING
by Phil Barber
California’s Sports Wagering Initiatives
What it would do: Legalize sports betting at American Indian casinos and licensed racetracks, tax 10% of profits, legalize roulette and dice games at casinos.
Who supports it: At least 28 California tribes. Top donors are five profitable tribes, including Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
How much has this side spent: $114 million
What it would do: Authorize online sports betting platforms to partner with gaming tribes to offer that type of wagering in California. Also tax revenue at 10%, along with large licensing fees.
Who supports it: Online betting companies like DraftKings and FanDuel, plus card rooms.
How much has this side spent: $142 million
Jose “Moke” Simon’s beard is more salt than pepper these days, but Simon, chairperson of the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians since 1997, still cuts an imposing figure.
On Wednesday, the former college football lineman looked resolute as he sat before a microphone in a joint gathering of the California State Senate and Assembly organization committees in Sacramento.
The purpose of the hearing was to present information on state ballot propositions 26 and 27, competing initiatives that would legalize sports wagering in California, in different ways, if passed in November.
Around half of California’s 109 federally recognized tribes support Proposition 26, which would legalize sports betting, but only in Indian casinos and a handful of year-round horse racing tracks.
But Simon spoke in favor of the competing measure, Prop 27, which would pave the way for virtually unlimited online sports wagering in this state.
Simon’s stance puts him in stark opposition to his fellow tribes, though he downplayed it Wednesday.
“I heard that today: ‘division.’ There is no division,” Simon told the senators and assembly members. “This is just an opportunity for one tribe to make a decision — a sovereign decision — on how they’re going to move their people forward. You know, it’s not always easy to do the right thing for your people. But when your people ask you to act, then you go to war, or you give your life if that’s what is needed.”
Watching recent advertisements on either side of the issue, the word “division” seems accurate.
“Who’s attacking Prop 27? Wealthy casino tribes who want all the money for themselves,” a narrator says in a Yes on 27 commercial released in early August.
Within hours of that salvo, the powerful tribes that form the backbone of No on 27 — including the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, who own the resort and casino in Rohnert Park — were calling the ad “shameful and despicable.”
The rancor goes well beyond words. The competing campaigns together raised more than $255 million as of June 30, according to Ballotpedia, a nonprofit, nonpartisan online “political encyclopedia.” That makes sports wagering the most expensive ballot issue in California history, eclipsing the nearly $225 million raised in the fight over Prop 22, which passed in 2020 and exempted app-based ride companies like Uber and Lyft from providing drivers with employee benefits.
The Prop 27 campaign is funded largely by online gambling companies like DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, which would be allowed to sign an agreement with a recognized tribe to offer those services in California, an arrangement used in other states, like Washington. The gaming companies are aligned with the state’s 83 card rooms, which are unaffiliated with tribal casinos and would be iced out of the Prop 26 framework.
It isn’t hard to understand why the spending has spiraled. The financial stakes are huge.
Bettors wagered more than $143 billion on sports in the 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, where that wagering was legal in 2021, according to the website sportshandle.com.
“There’s so much as stake,” said State Sen. Bill Dodd, a Democrat based in Napa and chairperson of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.
Dodd proposed legislation in 2020 that would legalize sports wagering in California. He ultimately removed it from consideration, partly in response to resistance from gaming tribes, but said he considers it superior to either of this year’s propositions.
The profits from sports wagering are potentially huge, and a percentage of that money would pour into state coffers.
California state revenues could reach “the tens of millions of dollars annually” if Prop 26, the casino sports wagering measure, passes, Anita Lee, principal fiscal and policy analyst for the Legislative Analyst’s Office, told the joint committee Wednesday.
Prop 27, the online measure, would bring in “possibly in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Lee said. It would also require tribes to pay a $10 million fee for a five-year license, then another $1 million each time it’s renewed. A licensed company such as FanDuel would have to fork over $100 million when approved and $10 million for each renewal.
“In my proposal, we knew the tax revenue would have meant close the three-quarters of a billion dollars for the state,” Dodd said in a phone interview.
The public beneficiaries are worthy causes. The fund established by Prop 26 would target K-12 educational funding. Prop 27’s fund would focus on gambling addiction and homelessness.
Dodd is not officially endorsing either proposition. But he makes no secret of his support for legalized sports betting.
“Literally hundreds of thousands of people are betting online, in this state, in the shadows,” Dodd said. “I think it’s appropriate to bring that out of the shadows, regulate it, tax it. It’s a safe place to do the betting. There’s help for those who can’t handle it well. And at the same time, the people of the state of California get tax revenue from it.”
Clearly, this is also an important issue for California tribes, which have generally suffered from high rates of poverty since being forced off of their native lands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
It’s no shock the majority of those Native American groups have sided with Prop 26, which would give them a bigger slice of the state’s gambling pie.
More surprising were the decisions of three smaller tribes to break away and endorse Prop 27. Two of them — Middletown Rancheria and the Big Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians — are in Lake County. The third is the Tachi Yokut Tribe, based on the Santa Rosa Rancheria in Lemoore.
Analysts say the in-person wagering of Prop 26 is likely to favor larger tribes with high-revenue casinos, while the three breakaway tribes could have an inside track to signing contracts with the national online gambling companies.
Neither Moke Simon nor Big Valley chair Phillip Gomez returned phone calls from The Press Democrat.
In fact, of the 10 North Bay gaming-pact tribes surveyed for this story, only two replied on the record. One, the Koi Nation, which has begun the arduous process of getting a casino built in the Shiloh neighborhood near Windsor, declined to comment, saying its sole focus was bringing that land into federal trust.
The only local tribe to speak to propositions 26 and 27 was the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, whose members have emerged as a leading voice in the Yes on 26 campaign, along with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians (Riverside County) and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (Yolo).
Graton Rancheria chair Greg Sarris framed his support as a moral issue, raising the notion that online gambling platforms can’t effectively prevent people younger than 21 from wagering.
“Prop. 26 will guarantee that children do not have access to gambling by limiting sports betting to Indian casinos and racetracks,” Graton wrote in a statement. “Prop. 26 will raise money for tribes that don’t have gaming and for tribes with smaller casinos. Prop. 26 will protect Indian Nation sovereignty.”
Sarris sounded disdainful of Prop 27, calling it “a threat to online gaming.”
“Prop. 27 pretends to help tribes by requiring businesses to partner with a tribe to offer sports betting, but this means a handful of tribes will be used by big companies (i.e., MGM, Draft Kings), while keeping customers of Indian casinos away by offering betting wherever the customer happens to be,” he wrote. “The funding promised by this proposition for homelessness and mental health will be a drop in the bucket, while the harm to Indian tribes will be immense.”
As of yet, there has been no open hostility among tribes on opposite sides of the sports-wagering rift. But Simon, who is also a Lake County supervisor, has certainly placed himself in an awkward position by breaking ranks.
He suggested to the state legislature that his small, marginalized tribe, which numbers about 250 members and resides on 80 acres of waterless land, simply doesn’t have many options for financial viability beyond the gambling industry. And that the future of that industry is on the computer.
“Being separated from your land is the most horrible thing you can do to an Indian person,” Simon told the committee this week. “And we were all separated here in California from our ancestral lands. And now it’s our opportunity as leaders to look at ways we can build our economies — not only strengthen for our economies’ sake, but also to look at purchasing back our land, to build housing, tribal programs. This is just one more step in that growth.”
After Simon’s 10 minutes, representatives from eight different tribes and two Native American alliances approached the microphone to count themselves in opposition to Prop 27. None stood to offer Simon support.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 13, 2022
NATHAN MOORE, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation, stalking and threatening bodily injury.
JASON MUSSO, Lucerne/Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ROBERT NUTT III, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
JORDAN ROWLEY, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
BREANNA TERKELSEN, Ukiah. DUI, resisting.
RYAN TRUEBA, Ukiah. Petty theft, concealed dirk-dagger.
FEDERICO TRUJILLO, Clearlake/Ukiah. Burglary, vandalism.
THE AVERAGE PRICE of California water on the “spot market” has risen by 58% in the last year, as reservoirs and aquifers drop and the drought persists. California water is now selling for as much as $2,000 an acre-foot, a record high.
— Jeffrey St. Clair
GOOGLE IS BETTER THAN KZYX
The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Which one of these animals is usually wrong?
I have a wonderful new idea. While people get their scoffs ready I will give the news. Elon Musk's mosquito water company is ready to take over the western third of the United States from the Mississippi to Hales Grove. Clean water filters are in place at Lake superior and Lake Michigan. The musketeer's fireproof system is ready. Fireproof trees and grass have been planted in strips throughout the vulnerable areas. The musk flood control system is in place. Arrangements have been made to drain floodwaters into man-made pits which will become lakes. Jeff Bezos has the remaining three great lakes and control over the eastern two thirds of the country. He is too busy with two new girlfriends, one for daytime use and one for nighttime use. Both Bezos and Musk expect to become trillionaires soon. Everyone needs water.
The reason Hutchins lost the election is she didn't follow my instructions to wire all the County schools so a summary of the Press Democrat news could be broadcast at 1 PM each school day followed by a civics lesson until 1:30 PM. By that time the graduating students will have received 1500 civics lessons.
Now I am going to present my new idea, hopefully it won't fall flat on its face like the rest of my new ideas have. I am pretty good at US history. I know something about literature and adventure stories. I have 40 Hamilton books stacked up unread. You only get one chance with Hamilton as the best books sell out and are never listed again. I know how to make a weekly profit betting on the horses. I know how to build a house from start to finish.
My real level of expertise is classical music which I got addicted to in 1943. I have listened to classical music at every opportunity since then for 80 years. You might get the idea that I listen to the programming on KZY&X. With the exception of Russell Piti on alternate Mondays who does a pretty good job with his program, I don't like Susan Juhl who thinks just because it is a composer's birthday his music is worth playing even though it is boring and unlikable. The same goes for Gomes who likes to show off what he knows about classical music, the result being many pieces played that nobody likes (done deliberately). They may go three programs without playing anything from the standard repertoire. Cohen and Black like to talk, talk, talk and I have trouble putting up with them.
Where does that leave me? Online. Specifically Google which specializes in streaming classical music. A few are only on Windows 11. I listen to classical music on 20 classical music stations. They all mostly play the standard repertoire. A few, like WQZR in New York mix in quite a few unfamiliar works but they are never boring and unlikable. One station, WCPE in Raleigh, North Carolina, wholesale their music to smaller stations. All stations display on the screen what is being played and usually what the last piece played was. They all will print on the screen future works that will be played later that day, but not a complete list so the listener has no idea what is coming up all afternoon and evening. A $25 headphone will give you very good audio.
My idea is to encourage four stations to print their afternoon and evening program lists on their webpage. There is plenty of room. Many stations place advertising on the page. Let's say we group KQAC Portland, WFMT Chicago (you will recall that is Studs Turkel's station), WRCJ Detroit and KMFA Boston. Or you might want to group KING Seattle, WQXR New York, WLRN Miami and WRTI Philadelphia. Get a pencil and paper, go over the list and see what's playing at each of the four stations. You may want to find Mozart concertos, you may be a Debussy or Ravel nut, you may turn up your nose at anything that is not Bach.
Since we're on Google it doesn't take long to switch between these four stations. You have the time that each of the works you want to listen to is on. You don't have to waste time on work you don't want to hear because it reminds you of a Republican personality.
Democrats could remain in control if they can convince voters in swing states that letting Republicans win would be disastrous. Never mind the usual tactics. Just "vote for Democrats" is sufficient.
NANCY'S TAIWAN JAUNT
Why does Nancy Pelosi have the right to put our country on the brink of another world war? Because she is speaker of the House, she has total power over her own decisions, regardless of the president and our military advisers.
Pelosi’s dangerous trip to Taiwan was paid for by those of us who pay taxes. I grew up during World War II and served in the Air Force in the Korean War. Wars scare me. Fortunately, those wars never brought fighting to our own shores. Things would be different in the future. This is not about politics. This is about who is putting the United States on death row because of her self-centered desires.
TRUMP WATCH: Trump has lashed out once again over the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago that uncovered classified material, calling the court-approved search a “hoax and scam.” “Like all of the other Hoaxes and Scams that they've used to try and silence the voice of a vast majority of the American People, I have TRUTH on my side, and when you have TRUTH, you will ultimately be victorious,” Trump wrote Saturday in a post on his Truth Social network. Trump is under federal investigation for possible violations of the Espionage Act, which makes it unlawful to mishandle classified information, including sharing it with people not authorized to receive it, a search warrant made public on Friday showed. FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago earlier this week and removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked as top secret, according to the Justice Department. Earlier on Saturday, a report claimed that Trump's attorney signed a statement in June that said all classified material held at Mar-a-Lago had been already been returned to the government. Trump's legal team gave the assurance after Jay Bratt, the Department of Justice's counterintelligence chief, visited Trump's South Florida beach club on June 3, the New York Times reported. Bratt met with two Trump lawyers to discuss the handling of classified information during the visit, the newspaper said.
LIKE TRUMP, HATE TRUMP, support Trump or oppose him, (and I like and support Trump) the FBI raiding the former President’s home puts us on an incredibly uncertain path. It appears that Lady Justice is no longer blindfolded or even holding a scale. Ask yourself if you’d support any adjudicative process run exclusively by your antagonists? If you think it wouldn’t happen to a public servant that you support or even to yourself, think again. We see too many real time examples of “domestic terrorism” being defined by Biden’s Department of Justice along politically partisan lines. Frustrated, even angry parents attending a local school board meeting? Domestic Terrorist. ANTIFA? NOT a domestic terrorist. Fly or wear a Betsy Ross era American Flag? Domestic Terrorist. Organize online the harassment of Supreme Court Justices at their homes and where they are seen in public? NOT a domestic terrorist. Life should be a two way street but it’s strictly One Way right now. Not good.
My sliver of hope is that there is actually something powerful and intuitive that justifies this unprecedented move. The weight of WHY this was necessary better be shared with the American people quickly.
— Adam Bartholomew
IN WEALTHY CITY, A MARXIST MAYOR WINS OVER VOTERS
by Evelyn Blackwell
GRAZ, Austria — That the conservative mayor would win yet again, and serve a fifth term, had been treated as a foregone conclusion in Graz, Austria’s second-largest city, a place where it’s not uncommon to encounter local residents proudly dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndls.
Elke Kahr, the leader of the city’s Communist Party, was equally convinced she would lose again to the slick heir to a trading dynasty who had led the city for 18 years.
So she was as surprised as the journalist who told her the election news last September: The Communists had emerged victorious, and she would be the next mayor.
“He was completely bewildered — and I thought it was a joke,” Ms. Kahr recalled of her election night conversation with the reporter at City Hall.
Newspapers across Europe started calling the city “Leningraz,” a moniker the new mayor smiles about.
“Yes, 100 percent, I’m a convinced Marxist,” Ms. Kahr said in her mayoral office, flanked by the used Ikea shelves with which she displaced the stately furniture of her predecessor, Siegfried Nagl, of the Austrian People’s Party, or Ö.V.P.
Ms. Kahr, 60, is now trying to “redistribute wealth” as much as her role allows her to, she said.
But that doesn’t mean that her Communist Party of Austria, or K.P.Ö., plans to dispossess the bourgeoisie or abolish the free market. Ms. Kahr said her goal was “to alleviate the problems of the people in our city as much as possible.”
To an outsider paying a visit, the city’s problems might not be immediately obvious.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Graz, his hometown, he strolls on clean streets past modern, affordable apartment blocks. But there are pockets of poverty, and plenty of people are struggling with rising prices and flat wages.
And for nearly two decades, Ms. Kahr, not without controversy, has dipped into her own pocket to help people pay for unexpectedly high electric bills or a new laundry machine. She’ll listen to a problem, ask for a bank account and transfer some money, usually capped at a few hundred euros.
During her political career, she has given away about three-quarters of her post-tax salary. Since becoming a city councilor in 2005, Ms. Kahr’s handouts have amounted to more than one million euros, or approximately $1,020,000.
Political opponents have accused her of vote buying, but “they’re free to do the same,” Ms. Kahr noted. “Besides, it’s not charity,” she added. “I’m simply convinced that politicians make too much.”
As mayor, her salary of about €120,000 after taxes is more than four times the national average, and the €32,000 she keeps for herself suffices. She rides the city’s buses and tramway, shops at budget stores and rents a modest apartment, overflowing with books and records, where she lives with her partner, a retired K.P.Ö. official.
Austria has a long tradition of socialism and has created an expansive welfare system. Health care is universal and universities are free.
But voters have largely shunned the Communist Party ever since Austrians had a front-row seat as the Soviet Union violently crushed a popular uprising in neighboring Hungary in 1956. The K.P.Ö. hasn’t won a national parliamentary seat in any election held since.
Graz, however, has been an anomaly: With the party’s focus on housing, charismatic Communists have sat on the City Council since the 1990s.
None have been as popular as Ms. Kahr.
Supporters and critics alike describe her as approachable, pleasant and a straight shooter. Constituents often compliment her for “not being like a politician,” but more like a social worker.
As mayor, governing in a coalition with social democrats and greens, she now has more influence to steer policies in directions she favors. So far, that has included capping residential sewage and garbage fees as well as rents in city-owned housing. She has made thousands more residents eligible for heavily reduced annual passes for public transport.
And she’s cut the marketing budget for the entire city, as well as subsidies for all political parties.
Kurt Hohensinner, the new head of the Ö.V.P. in Graz, dismissed these efforts as more symbolic than substantive. Predicting how the city would fare under Ms. Kahr’s leadership, he said, “Graz won’t suffer from communism, but from standstill.”
Notably, Ms. Kahr also canceled several prestige projects, including an Ö.V.P.-led proposal to give Graz’s 300,000 residents their own subway line.
Instead, the city will soon have a new office for social and housing services and more subsidized apartments.
Housing, Ms. Kahr says, is closest to her heart. It’s also the issue that built the Communists’ brand in Graz.
Fearing annihilation at the end of the Cold War, they opened a tenant emergency hotline, giving free legal advice on dubious rental agreements, looming evictions and the failure of landlords to return security deposits.
Poor and wealthy, left and right, called, and word of mouth spread: The Communists care. Often, Ms. Kahr answered the phone.
As mayor, Ms. Kahr tries to be a familiar presence on the city’s streets.
Jumping off the bus at Triestersiedlung, one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, defined by its 1,200 subsidized apartments, Ms. Kahr complimented the owner on her car, a rare Soviet-made Lada, then headed into the shaded courtyard of a social housing block.
The facades of the apartment buildings were freshly painted, and on this sunny afternoon, its low-income residents were basking on their recently constructed balconies. It’s a luxury most private apartments in Graz lack and one that Ms. Kahr pushed for as a councilor.
As she distributed raised flower beds so residents could grow their own tomatoes and herbs, one of them approached and lauded “Elke” for “still coming to visit us, now that you’re mayor.”
Ms. Kahr reminded the woman that she, too, had grown up there.
Given up for adoption at birth, Ms. Kahr spent the first years of her life at a children’s home. Just shy of her 4th birthday, she was adopted. The story goes she cheekily asked a visiting couple for a banana sticking out of their grocery bag; impressed by the little girl’s lack of shyness, the couple adopted her.
Her father, a welder, and her mother, a waitress-turned-homemaker, rented a shack in Triestersiedlung. They fetched water from a well and tended chickens, ducks and rabbits. Their toilet was an outhouse.
Some of her playmates lived in barracks left over from World War II and trudged through the snow in sandals.
“If you grow up in this social environment, you can only pursue a socially just world,” Ms. Kahr said.
Yet she never felt she lacked anything: She remembered devouring the books in the housing project’s library. On Saturdays, when the family visited the public bathhouse, little Elke splurged by maxing out her time in the tub to 30 minutes.
As a young adult she drove to rock concerts across Europe (she likes most music, she said, including socially conscious rap, “though Eminem, not so much”) and tracked down her birth mother, a farm girl. Her biological father was a student from Iran.
The meeting wasn’t to foster a bond, but “to tell her that, no matter the reasons for her decision, for me it was perfect,” Ms. Kahr said.
Rebuked for “speaking like a Communist” growing up, Ms. Kahr was 18 when she decided to find out why.
She looked up the party’s address in the phone book and headed over to the local headquarters.
“She was a godsend,” said Ernest Kaltenegger, her mentor and predecessor as the party’s local head. “Not like other young people who burn bright for a little while — she was serious.”
When the bank branch she was working at closed when she was 24, Mr. Kaltenegger persuaded her to become the second employee of Graz’s K.P.Ö. During a six-month study in Moscow in 1989, she followed the passionate debates there on reform, and believed that “they’d turn the corner.”
Two years later, the Soviet Union dissolved.
Ms. Kahr consoled her older comrades, and focused on her young son, Franz.
In the 1990s, Mr. Kaltenegger campaigned on installing bathrooms in all of Graz’s social housing apartments, and turned the Communists into a local political pillar. He later moved on to the state level on the condition that Ms. Kahr took over the Communist mantle in Graz.
She did, and got off to a stumbling start. Leading the party in the 2008 election, she lost half his voters.
But within five years, she had turned the Communists into the city’s second-strongest party. One likely factor in the party’s win last year was growing discontent in Graz over a construction boom that was snapping up the last plots of undeveloped land. In a K.P.Ö.-organized referendum in 2018, an unusually high voter turnout effectively blocked the rezoning of an agriculture school’s land, a memorable victory for the party.
Often, criticism arises not from Ms. Kahr’s work, but her unabashed embrace of ideology. For example, her admiration for the former Yugoslavia, a multiethnic and nonaligned state run by a dictator, shows a “historical stubbornness,” said Christian Fleck, a sociology professor at the University of Graz.
But constituents don’t seem to care, with her approval rating in June standing at 65 percent.
As mayor, she continues meeting regularly with people who need help, as she did when she was a councilor and logged more than 3,000 visits a year from single mothers, the unemployed or people in precarious housing situations.
Dragging on a cigarette, a vice she can’t surrender, Ms. Kahr reflected on why Communism failed elsewhere.
“It just depends,” she said, “on whether the leaders also live by it.”
(Courtesy, the New York Times)
THE MOTHER OF ALL RAIDS
by Andrew Neil
Those who've seen or spoken to Donald Trump this week say he's more energised and confident about a political comeback than at any time since he reluctantly left the White House in January 2021, falsely claiming to have won the presidential election.
Far from being cowed by Monday's FBI raid on his Florida home, he's buoyed up by the Republican party rallying behind him with one voice, boasting that even long-standing critics in his own party have publicly condemned the FBI and backed him.
The gerontocracy that controls the Democrats was hoping the FBI raid would discredit Trump and deter him from another bid for the presidency. They couldn't have been more wrong.
The raid has boomeranged badly on the Biden administration, making it more certain than ever that Trump will run again for the Republican nomination, more likely than ever to win it (indeed, as things stand, he's unstoppable) — and start the next presidential election race as likely favourite to re-take the White House in November 2024, whoever his Democratic opponent.
It's quite a week's work for the ancient bumblers at the top of the Democratic party machine. If you're partial to conspiracy theories you might even conclude that the Democrats have been secretly infiltrated by folks whose mission it is to give Trump a new lease of political life.
Of course, there's much we still don't know about what lies behind the FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence on Florida's swanky Palm Beach. It could be the Feds were in pursuit of documents devastating to Trump's hopes of reviving his political ambitions. But that remains to be established.
The Biden-appointed Attorney General, Merrick Garland, the government's chief law officer who approved the warrant for the search (which also had to be sanctioned by a federal judge), decided on Thursday it should be made public. Trump did not contest that, perhaps because it doesn't reveal much.
Last night the warrant was officially released. It disclosed the FBI removed 20 boxes from Mar-a-Lago including 11 sets of classified documents, some marked top secret.
That sounds serious but there are no details of what's in the documents and Trump says he declassified the material while still President, which was in his power.
Whether that was done properly remains to be seen.
The affidavit accompanying the warrant would be much more revealing since that would contain the reasons for seeking a warrant. But, so far, there are no plans to publish that, even in redacted form.
Since the raid, it has been suggested that Federal agents were investigating potential crimes associated with violations of the Espionage Act.
But America is still largely in the dark as to exactly why the Biden administration took the unprecedented step of raiding the residence of a former President, with dozens of agents scouring the property, including Melania Trump's bedroom, while others armed to the teeth stood guard outside.
(It wasn't clear who they thought might threaten them since Palm Beach, a billionaires' enclave, is not exactly renowned for even peaceful street demonstrations, never mind armed uprisings.)
Such heavy-handed tactics are unlikely to have been prompted by a desire to retrieve some historical presidential documents that belong in the national archives.
Now, it is true that Trump departed the White House with boxes of documents that should have been left behind to be archived, whether intentionally or because of the chaotic nature of his departure is not clear. And that is a felony.
A dozen boxes were returned almost immediately and negotiations continued about those that remained at Mar-a-Lago. Two months ago, the FBI asked if they could be put under lock and key while the issue was resolved. Trump's people complied. The lock was smashed in Monday's raid.
Just why talks were abandoned is not clear. If the emphasis is now being put on the top secret nature of the documents it's not obvious why the FBI waited so long to retrieve them. The Washington Post floated the idea that Trump was harbouring documents about America's nuclear weapons. Its story was unsourced and contained no verifiable facts, much less a motive to explain why the former President would want to hoard such material.
But its report was so dark and full of foreboding that you could be forgiven for thinking Trump had absconded with the presidential briefcase (or 'football' as it's known) containing the U.S. nuclear missile launch codes. Last night's revelations made no mention of nuclear secrets.
It's hard not to conclude that the raid was at least partly motivated by the fact that the Democrats are still scouring for evidence to link Trump to the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2021.
A Democrat-dominated congressional committee has held hearings this year which revealed some appalling things about the last days of the Trump administration.
But not enough to charge him with inciting the rioters, which is what the Democrats want because that really would kill off his political career.
Is it not possible that Trump absconded with damning evidence showing he was indeed stoking an insurrection from the White House? For Democrats such a prospect is enough to justify the FBI being as heavy-handed as it wants.
Support for this theory came only the day after the Mar-a-Lago raid when Scott Perry, a five-term Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, was intercepted while travelling with his family by three FBI agents demanding he hand over his personal mobile phone. He had no choice but to comply with their warrant.
Now Perry is a Trump fanatic who goes along with all the former President's nonsense about being cheated out of victory in the 2020 election. He was in regular touch with Trump in the dying days of his administration.
But even fanatics have constitutional rights, and what happened to Trump has added to a sense among Republicans that the FBI is allowing itself to become the law-enforcement arm of the Democratic party, traducing individual rights in the process.
After all, if the FBI can be high-handed with a former President and sitting Congress-man, what defences do ordinary Americans have?
Attorney General Garland was outraged by such suggestions, claiming the job of the FBI was to make sure nobody was above the law (unless, of course, you're Hillary Clinton with 30,000 official emails on her private email server and aides that took a hammer to her devices, or Joe Biden's son Hunter with a laptop full of incriminating material — neither of which the FBI has been much bothered about).
Republican hotheads didn't help rational debate by referring to the FBI as 'Biden's Gestapo'. But in recent years the FBI has forfeited its right to be regarded as above politics.
It went along with the long-running fake news that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, until the exhaustive Mueller report failed to find a scintilla of evidence, revealing it was essentially a hoax.
It gave credence to the notorious Steele dossier — another attempt to smear Trump with Russian links — which turned out to be a pack of lies.
And it omitted key facts and made false statements when applying for court orders to conduct covert surveillance on Carter Page, a Trump associate wrongly accused of involvement in the supposed Trump-Russia conspiracy.
After all that, it's not so much of a stretch for many Republicans to conclude that the FBI would go along with Democratic demands to investigate their political rivals.
As Friday's Wall Street Journal opined: 'There are plenty of reasons for Americans to take a don't-trust-but-verify attitude to the FBI. This isn't disdain for the rule of law. It's well-earned scepticism.'
Public scepticism about the FBI has been on the rise for years — and not just among Republicans. In a recent poll, conducted before the Mar-a-Lago raid, almost half of Americans said they no longer trusted the FBI. That is likely to be well above 50 per cent now.
More important, this past week will only exacerbate a debilitating cycle of reprisal and escalation between America's two main parties.
Republican minority leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, is already warning that if his party reclaims control of Congress in this November's mid-term elections 'we will conduct immediate oversight of the Department of Justice, follow the facts, leave no stone unturned. Attorney General Garland — preserve your documents, clear your calendar.'
It is, perhaps, an understandable response to recent events. But it is also deeply depressing.
It means American politics will remain dominated by the sound of adversaries ripping each other apart, using arms of the state whenever they can for added leverage, while the huge international issues to which the free world still looks to America for leadership — a revanchist Russia, a totalitarian China, an ailing global economy — will remain neglected and unresolved.
MR. KISSINGER SEES TODAY’S WORLD as verging on a dangerous disequilibrium. “We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to,” he says. Could the U.S. manage the two adversaries by triangulating between them, as during the Nixon years? He offers no simple prescription. “You can’t just now say we’re going to split them off and turn them against each other. All you can do is not to accelerate the tensions and to create options, and for that you have to have some purpose.”
On the question of Taiwan, Mr. Kissinger worries that the U.S. and China are maneuvering toward a crisis, and he counsels steadiness on Washington’s part. “The policy that was carried out by both parties has produced and allowed the progress of Taiwan into an autonomous democratic entity and has preserved peace between China and the U.S. for 50 years,” he says. “One should be very careful, therefore, in measures that seem to change the basic structure.”
Mr. Kissinger courted controversy earlier this year by suggesting that incautious policies on the part of the U.S. and NATO may have touched off the crisis in Ukraine. He sees no choice but to take Vladimir Putin’s stated security concerns seriously and believes that it was a mistake for NATO to signal to Ukraine that it might eventually join the alliance: “I thought that Poland—all the traditional Western countries that have been part of Western history—were logical members of NATO,” he says. But Ukraine, in his view, is a collection of territories once appended to Russia, which Russians see as their own, even though “some Ukrainians” do not. Stability would be better served by its acting as a buffer between Russia and the West: “I was in favor of the full independence of Ukraine, but I thought its best role was something like Finland.”
He says, however, that the die has now been cast. After the way Russia has behaved in Ukraine, “now I consider, one way or the other, formally or not, Ukraine has to be treated in the aftermath of this as a member of NATO.” Still, he foresees a settlement that preserves Russia’s gains from its initial incursion in 2014, when it seized Crimea and portions of the Donbas region, though he does not have an answer to the question of how such a settlement would differ from the agreement that failed to stabilize the conflict 8 years ago.
The moral claim posed by Ukraine’s democracy and independence—since 2014, clear majorities have favored EU and NATO membership—and the dire fate of its people under Russian occupation fit awkwardly into Mr. Kissinger’s statecraft. If the avoidance of nuclear war is the greatest good, what is owed to small states whose only role in the global equilibrium is to be acted upon by larger ones?
“How to marry our military capacity to our strategic purposes,” Mr. Kissinger reflects, “and how to relate those to our moral purposes—it’s an unsolved problem.”
Looking back over his long and often controversial career, however, he is not given to self-criticism. Asked if he has regrets from his years in power, he replies, “From a manipulative point of view, I ought to learn a great answer to that question, because it’s always being asked.” But while he might revisit some minor tactical points, on the whole, he says, “I do not torture myself with things we might have done differently.”
— Laura Secor, "Henry Kissinger Is Worried About ‘Disequilibrium’" (wsj.com)
ESPIONAGE ACT GETS INSTANT MAKEOVER
A law reviled by liberalism ten minutes ago is now Savior to All
by Matt Taibbi
I woke this morning to find the Twitter version of a block party, over the news that Donald Trump is being investigated under the Espionage Act.
Robert Reich: “How long until Trump tries to fundraise off of potentially violating the Espionage Act?”
The most mind-blowing of these tweets is this one by Reich, who should know better. If I were Trump, I absolutely would fundraise off being investigated under the Espionage Act. By pursuing him under this provision, the Justice Department just did Trump the mother of all favors, adding his name to a list of some of the most famous political martyrs in our history.
“Ellsberg, Hale, Winner, Snowden, Assange, and now Trump,” a source close to Julian Assange said this morning. “Incredible.”
Maybe Reich can’t see how this will play politically, or doesn’t care, but anyone thrilled at the prospect of trying to prosecute a former president under the Espionage Act has blacked out the recent history of this law. How much does this Act suck, and shame us all? Let’s count the ways.
The Espionage Act represents the evolution of a series of laws whose purpose is/was to criminalize unauthorized use of sensitive information. I wrote this after the indictment of Assange:
The indictment stressed Assange/Manning were seeking “national defense information” that could be “used to the injury of the United States…” [This] gave off a whiff of Britain’s Official Secrets Acts and America’s Defense Secrets Act of 1911, prohibiting “national defense” information going to “those not entitled to receive it…”
These laws were written in a way that contradicted basic speech protections… There was a way to read the Espionage Act that criminalized what the Columbia Law Review back in 1973 (during the Pentagon Papers controversy) called the “mere retention” of classified material.
If you want a clear portrait of the shift in establishment thinking about this, look at the attitude of the New York Times toward its own role in the history of the Act. In 1981, on the ten year anniversary of the government charging former Daniel Ellsberg with violation of the Espionage Act for taking the “Pentagon Papers” to the Timesfor publication, the paper’s former attorney in that case, Floyd Abrams, wrote an editorial celebrating the episode. He said it “stiffened the spines of all journalists.”
Thirty years later, the Timesran a very different essay. Written by attorney Gabriel Schoenfeld and entitled “Leaking the Pentagon Papers was an Assault on Democracy,” Schoenfeld argued “Mr. Ellsberg’s legacy is at best mixed,” as he was “still a rogue actor,” who “if the fundamental ground rules of our constitutional democracy are to be respected, deserves a measure of condemnation.”
Katie Halper and I asked Ellsberg about the Act around then:
They’ve learned to wield the Espionage Act, to criminalize whistleblowing… 9/11 comes along, and it’s ‘Constitution be damned.’ Since then we've had total surveillance of everybody, totally unconstitutionally… We’re not a police state, but we could be a police state almost from one day to the next… They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not… We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month.
The general public not long ago had sympathy for revealers of secrets like Edward Snowden, who disclosed the county had been the subject of an illegal mass surveillance program. They also had growing contempt for a security apparatus that awarded itself virtually unlimited power via pseudo-laws like the PATRIOT Act, the Office of Legal Counsel secret memosupposedly legalizing drone assassination even of Americans, and the Bush-era memo with the amazing Orwellian name, “Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees,” that unilaterally exempted the U.S. from Geneva convention prohibitions against torture.
When CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou revealed details about the program, what law was used to charge him? The Espionage Act. What “espionage” did he commit? Did he sell secrets to Russia, China, al-Qaeda? No. He talked to American journalists, including a network TV pair named Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito (remember those names).
Even as the government defined talking to American reporters as espionage, and even as Kiriakou went to jail for two years (the only CIA person ever to be jailed in connection with the torture program), the press backed the concept. “It took my lawyers a year to get CNN and MSNBC to stop calling me CIA-leaker John Kiriakou and to start calling me CIA-whistleblower,” he said.
Barack Obama was one of the most enthusiastic deployers of the Espionage Act, using it at least eight times to bring charges against people not for “espionage,” but for talking to the press. The list included Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, Donald Sachtleben, and Jeffrey Sterling, plus Kiriakou and Snowden. The AP wrote how the Obama administration “obtained the records of 20 Associated Press office phone lines and reporters’ home and cell phones,” while they also:
Secretly dogged Fox News journalist James Rosen, getting his phone records, tracking his arrivals and departures at the State Department through his security-badge use, obtaining a search warrant to see his personal emails…
Establishment attitudes toward “whistleblowing” shifted with Trump’s election. Director Laura Poitras, won an Oscar in 2015 for her documentary about Snowden, CitizenFour. Glenn Greenwald, the reporter with whom Snowden collaborated, won the Pulitzer Prize. Yet when Trump got elected, a new type of “whistleblowing” became common. High-level leaks about issues like the Trump-Russia investigation, seemingly all coming from senior intelligence officials or congressional sources, were an almost weekly occurrence, and none were prosecuted.
One that didn’t go unpunished involved NSA contractor Reality Winner, sentenced to five years under, you guessed it, the Espionage Act. What was different about her case? She wasn’t a former CIA director or a DNI, just an ordinary person. “It’s about low-hanging fruit,” Titus Nichols, Winner’s attorney, told me at the time.
Winner’s case came after a 2017 story in the Interceptentitled, “Top Secret NSA report details Russian hacking effort days before election.” They called it the “most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.”
The affidavit attached to Winner’s indictment charges her with having first “improperly” removed “national defense information,” then having “unlawfully” transmitted it “to an online news outlet.” The lead reporters on the Interceptstory, by a remarkable coincidence — like a remarkably remarkable coincidence — were Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito.
A military analyst named Daniel Hale couldn’t take being a drone assassin, disclosed details about his work, and got 45 months under the Espionage Act for his trouble. At sentencing he insisted his real crime was his work for the Air Force. “I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life,” he said.
The case against the onetime liberal hero Julian Assange boils down to one half-assed charge of allegedly agreeing to help (but never following through) source Chelsea Manning crack a hash to protect her identity, wrapped around 17 insane charges under the Espionage Act. I wrote at the time his indictment was “the work of attorneys who probably thought the Sedition Act was good law.” A list of the charges:
Count 1: Conspiracy to Receive National Defense Information. Counts 2-4: Obtaining National Defense Information. Counts 5-8: Obtaining National Defense Information. And so on. The indictment is an insane tautology. It charges Assange with conspiracy to obtain secrets for the purpose of obtaining them. It lists the following “offense”:
“To obtain documents, writings, and notes connected with the national defense, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense…”
The Espionage Act is an embarrassment that would make Marcos or Suharto squeamish, but it’s of course not completely impossible there’s an actual espionage offense in Trump’s case somewhere (just as obviously, no evidence of this has been produced). Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were tried under the Act for giving bomb secrets to the Soviets, as Michael Beschloss and Michael Hayden just helpfully reminded us. However, in modern times, the Espionage Act is more associated with talking to the Times, ABC, The Guardianand The Interceptthan with actual spying. The defendants are more often conscience-stricken heroes like Hale than villains.
That’s the problem with this law. “Information relating to the national defense” can essentially be anything the government decides, and they can put you in jail a long time for “mishandling” it, which in Assange’s case included merely having it. Trump or no Trump, if you think that’s okay, you’re an asshole. It’s totally un-American, which is why Robert Reich shouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump acts proud of being investigated for it. This law is more infamous than he is, and everyone but a handful of blue checks can see it.
ON THE SLIP ROAD
I have just returned from three weeks’ travelling around Britain to discover Mike Jay’s article in the June edition of the London Review of Books about the death of the very thing I had been doing all that time: hitchhiking. I hitched more than sixty rides and travelled well over a thousand miles. It may be that only 9% of motorists would pick up a stranger, but only once did I wait longer than half an hour for a lift. I am 24 years old and was picked up by people of all races, genders and ages, some as young as 18. As has always been the case, hitchhiking affords extraordinary conversations and chance encounters, which to my mind make it the best of all methods of transport. As one driver put it to me: “Kindness is still a currency.”
Mike Jay wrote recently in the London Review of Books about the heyday of hitchhiking in the 1970s. I didn’t hitchhike much: I usually had a car, and as a woman I didn’t regard the practice as entirely safe. On one occasion, however, when I was stationed at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, I wanted to go up Route One to buy some clothes. My VW was totalled and I probably looked kind of rough: I’d lost a tooth in the accident and the scars on my face were still fresh. Heading back, I got a lift from three construction worker types in a big stake-bed truck, who eyeballed me in a way I didn’t quite like. They asked where I was headed? Were they going past Quantico Marine Base? Yes, did I live in Quantico? Yes, I replied, I’m in the Marine Corps. They scooted over to give me a little more room and looked almost relieved when we stopped at the light by the main gate. I thanked them and got out. No one ever gave me any trouble.
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-08-12) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0501
Douglas Wayne Coulter showed up on his bike and alternated between playing his old and new songs and chatting about his life and concerns, for the whole first chunk of the show. He writes his own material and parodies famous music and does it all sincerely and rather well. His quirky opinions about what makes the world tick will challenge your deeply held beliefs and/or entertain you for other reasons, I’m sure.
Thanks to Hank Sims for all kinds of tech help over the years, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com
Thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which provided almost an hour of the above 8-hour show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return. Just $25 a year for full access to all articles and features (TheAVA.com). Then there's KNYO, which would be unironically jazzed to accept your help in the form of some money, but understands that times are tough. https://KNYO.org
Don't forget, you can always email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio the upcoming Friday night. And furthermore, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
Text-tones as dance moves. (via Everlasting Blort) (You might have to click the sound on.)
War dogs in gas masks.
This music makes me think of a bunch of kittens randomly darting around and falling over and crashing into each other, being frantic and cute, tagging in and tagging out like wrestlers, and randomly falling asleep for a few seconds here and there.
And I'm smiling my head off here. It’s not just the tongue technique. They’re all so precisely mechanically funny doing this. What a great group.
— Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
YEAH, BUT HOW'S THE CURRY, CRAIG?
Tour of Lord Sri Krishna's birth place: Mathura, India