Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022

Cold Rain | Golden Ratio | Longest Day | Native Month | Yesterday's Rainfall | Pet Hansel | AVUSD Updates | Boonville Skatepark | Symphony Concerts | Logging | Watershed Lab | Casa Verde | Ed Notes | Soft Tacos | Local Vets | County Openings | Libraries Survey | Scott Dam | Mushroom Season | Massini Failed | Yesterday's Catch | Marco Radio | Milk Truck | Cannabis Crop | Health Hazard | Batshit Party | Old McDonald's | Constitutional Sheriffs | Punk Accountants | Robert Morris | Hiking Buddy | Bifurcated World | Ukiah Farmers | Being Human | Many Hammers | Ukraine | Folly

* * *

A COLDER STORM SYSTEM will bring more rain, mountain snow and gusty southerly winds to the area today. Rain and snow showers are expected to continue Monday and Tuesday. Drier weather is expected by mid to late week. (NWS)

* * *

* * *

TODAY is the longest day of the year.

* * *

* * *

YESTERDAY'S RAINFALL: Mendocino 0.79" - Fort Bragg 0.67" - Covelo 0.51" - Yorkville 0.36" - Laytonville 0.33" - Leggett 0.32" - Boonville 0.23" - Ukiah 0.18"

* * *


Hansel is sweetie pie who wants to be best buds with everyone he meets. This young, handsome dog will benefit from basic obedience training, which will help build up his confidence. Hansel needs some work on his leash manners, but he is an eager student and a very quick study. He loves his toys, and wants to show them off to anyone and everyone! Hansel was mellow when we brought him in the Meet & Greet room, where he crawled onto the couch and took a little nap! We think he would enjoy the company of a canine friend in his new home. Hansel is 1 year old and 50 pounds. 

To see more about Hansel, and our other dog and cat guests, head to

For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453. 

* * *


Dear Anderson Valley Community,

Congratulations to boys soccer!

It was a wet game with a 5 to 0 victory against Mendocino. Final game will be Wednesday with the opponent to be determined at home! Time and details to be sent out in a future email. Congratulations to the team and coaching staff.

It was great to see so many families attend the Halloween Parade at the elementary school on Monday. You never know how much those things mean until you experience them again, after having to miss them in the Covid era. I don’t know if you caught the Disney Princesses at the site, but here is the pic below! The Boy’s Soccer playoff is today against Mendocino at 2:00 p.m. at AVHS.

Just a reminder, set your clocks back one hour! This is the wonderful time of year, where you get the luxury of an extra hour. I am a 4:15 a.m. daily riser, so the Spring forward is always a tough one for me.

I also want to share some information from the Health Center about RSV. There are numerous attachments relating to the symptoms of this virus and what to look for. Please take a moment and review.

Tuesday was a good staff development day. The curriculum pilots at elementary school for language arts are well underway. The discussion at both sites also dove into how to support our students with “Just in time” scaffold support, while still covering grade level content to shore up learning gaps post-pandemic. The high school also delved into grading philosophies and purpose of grades with retiree Kathy Borst, and discussed a block schedule. We need to add some longer classes into our length of day in order to provide opportunities for our students to have experiential science labs that can not be conducted in a short one hour period. Staff are working on a revised scheduled solution for next year to make sure our graduates are prepared for college and beyond.

I read the 225 writing responses that the students craft every week at the Junior/Senior High. Some of our upper grade students are elegant writers. Some of our younger students that missed that critical Covid year are still working on basic mechanics. Please support your students with reminding them to use full sentences, capitals, and end mark punctuation. This loss of writing mechanics is also hugely impacted by the texting culture that embraces abbreviations. We are seeing improvement in the writing, and I am grateful to Kim Campbell for creating this program.

The Measure M oversight committee met last Tuesday. We are grateful to the members for their time and diligence. Drawings for the science labs, septic system, and the original library high school wing are underway.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Sincerely yours,

Louise Simson, Superintendent, Anderson Valley Unified School District, Cell: 707-684-1017

* * *

* * *


Symphony of the Redwoods opens its 2022-23 Season with a large-scale full symphony orchestra concert on Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 13 at 2:00 pm at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg! Preconcert lecture one hour before each concert. These concerts will feature guest conductor Dana Sadava. Known for her elegant technique and broad expressive range, Ms. Sadava enjoys a varied career as a conductor of opera and symphonic music. The musical selections Danzon #2 by Marquez, and Brahms' Symphony #2 featuring horns and a full brass section. This opening concert will also feature our own brilliant flutist, Kathleen Reynolds, in Mouquet's Flute de Pan. Tickets at, Out of this World in Mendocino and Harvest Market in Fort Bragg. 

More information at

* * *

* * *


Greetings! Did you know that the Mendocino coast is home to a world-renowned outdoor laboratory? Located just inland from the town of Caspar, The Caspar Creek Experimental Watersheds have hosted researchers from across the nation and abroad. Studies have resulted in a wealth of scientific papers detailing the natural hydrologic processes and the effects of forest management on the streams and ecosystems they support. Want to learn more and see what is behind the gate in the headwaters of this unique watershed? 

Join Us At Our Open House Celebrating 60 Years Of Research

Saturday November 12th, 11 to 3

Come meet the staff and scientists.

Follow signs from Fern Creek Road to the Caspar Scales.

Walk, ride, explore (limited vehicular access).

Hosted by your neighbors at the US Forest Service Research Station and JDSF.

Cancel if rain.

* * *

Carignan being hand harvested at Casa Verde Vineyard in Redwood Valley! Planted in the early 1940's, these vines are almost 80 years old. Planted in sandy-clay loam soil, the vines are dry farmed and organically grown. Alongside Carignan, you'll find Grenache, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Colombard.

* * *


REPUBLICAN QUESTION: “Seriously, can anyone name a well-run Democratic city?” Yes, Fort Bragg and Willits, and most rich suburban towns and cities surrounding American cities. (cf All of Marin County)

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST. The magas and the rest of the Republicans will be hopelessly split between DeSantis and Trump. If Trump wins out, Newsom will thump him in the general election which, of course, Trump will claim was rigged. If DeSantis gets the Republican nod, the hardcore magas won't vote. DeSantis and Newsom will run about even, but DeSantis will win. But let's take the positive view and assume there will be an election, that the nukes will still be in their silos. It's all headed so fast in an ominous direction that there's no predicting six months from now, let alone two years.

I'M VOTING YES on both local tax measures, fire and libraries, although the county's fire brigades better bird dog the supervisors to make sure the money raised goes to firefighting. But, but, but… Are you saying the supervisors can't be trusted to do the right thing? Watch them in action and report back on this question: Should these five people be responsible for 342 million annual public dollars?

I POPPED into the Ukiah Library the other afternoon, my first visit in a couple of years. I'd heard complaints that it had become a kind of bum oasis, that it wasn't particularly safe for vulnerable people, that the bathrooms were not only fetid but inhabited by menacing lurks. Etc. Untrue. It's as pleasant a multi-purpose space as could be hoped for, quiet and tidy and clean and still designed around books. Vote Yes on Measure O.

TALMAGE, a true story. I think the year was '88. A portly thief named Jack Ward, a kind of Fagin figure to a half-dozen sub-crooks, presided over an office of scammers and loafers as County Superintendent of Schools. The old state hospital dairy at Talmage had been converted to the headquarters of Mendocino County's lead educator. No expense had been spared. After all, it was for the kids. A major advantage of the site to the edu-experts working there was probably its distance from the actual children they purportedly served, although the monthly board meetings were heavy on slobbery rhetoric about how “dedicated” the agency was to the educational task. 

Board members, not so incidentally, received a nice stipend and access to lush health care benefits, the net effect of this attractive monthly responsibility being that the board serves as an auto-Yes adjunct to whomever happens to be functioning as superintendent. That job has recently belonged to Michelle Hutchins, the first capable, honest person to hold the job since Lou Delsol. I expect the agency to revert to mercenary form when she leaves in January. 

I liked Delsol, and he seemed to enjoy our visits. I introduced myself by telling him I knew his brother Plaza in Ukiah, so we had him in common. We swapped pleasantries and talked about nothing in particular for an hour or so each random visit. But I couldn't help but notice that even when I dropped in on him unannounced, Delsol's desk was clear, the telephone never rang, no one popped through the door to remind him he had to be somewhere else. And I always got a weird, Moonie-like hit off the people at the Talmage headquarters — everyone seemed to be walking aimlessly around the heavily carpeted premises with their coffee cups and medicated smiles on their faces. Ever see Last Day at Marienbad? That was the vibe at Talmage. 

Anyway, I'd been covering the agency for Boonville's beloved weekly for several years, having become interested in it after seeing the “services” MCOE delivered to the Anderson Valley where the agency had hooked up with a crook based in Philo, one of many facts about the agency I'd delivered so emphatically I wound up in the County Jail for a month. So one day I was sitting in Boonville mulling over the pure indignity of all this when I decided enough was enough. 

I CALLED TALMAGE. A woman answered with professional office aplomb. Yes, hello. I would like to speak with Mr. Ward. “Whom should I say is calling?” I thought about a pseudonym, but confessed the Beast of Boonville was on the line. “Please hold, Mr. Anderson. I'll see if Doctor Ward is in his office.” Put the fat bastard on immediately, I didn't say. After what seemed like whole minutes, the secretary returned. “Dr. Ward is not in his office, Mr. Anderson. Can I take a message?” Yes, thank you. Tell him I'm on my way over the hill to place him under citizen's arrest, and only wanted to make sure he'd be there before I made the trip. “Uh, I will tell him you called.” A few minutes later, an under-Sheriff named, I think, Berle Murray, long retired, called. “Hello, Bruce. What are you up to today?” I explained that I was on my way to Talmage to arrest the Superintendent of Schools. “Why?” Murray asked. I explained that Ward was the ringleader of an ongoing criminal conspiracy. “Well, Bruce,” Murray said, “I know for a fact that he isn't in the office today, so you can save yourself the trip.” 

I consoled myself with a vision of a bunch of fat guys running for their MCOE-funded cars. But more realistically, Ward and his gang probably laughed and went on with their primary work of signing over “surplus” school property to themselves.

* * *

Soft Tacos at Boonville General Store

* * *


Ukiah, CA Each year we come together as a nation on Veterans Day to honor and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of brave Americans who have served our country in uniform. Now more than ever, our veterans need our support. In a time when our country is divided on many issues, we can all agree that those individuals who risked everything to protect our country and our way of life deserve support and gratitude. 

That is why this year, Mendocino County is joining our colleagues across the nation in launching Operation Green Light for Veterans, an initiative designed to shine a light on the service of our veterans and their families. As part of Operation Green Light for Veterans, Mendocino County is illuminating the Veterans Memorial buildings green beginning on November 7th through November 13th, and we encourage individuals and businesses to join us by changing one light bulb in the entryway of your house or business to a green bulb. By shining a green light, we let veterans know that they are seen, appreciated, and supported. While this event is focused on the week of Veterans Day (November 7th-13th), we encourage individuals to continue to shine the light year-round. 

Operation Green Light is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the resources available to veterans and their families. Here in Mendocino County, we are proud to serve approximately 7,000 veterans through The Mendocino County Veterans Services Office. Throughout the year, our county staff are busy connecting our veterans to earned benefits, helping them manage employment needs as well as helping them find veteran peers who can assist with the transition back to civilian life. Veterans and family members can learn more about available services at The Mendocino County Veterans Services Office. This Veterans Day, join us in shining a light of hope and support. Join Operation Green Light and let’s turn Mendocino County green for our veterans. 

“I am proud to have the opportunity to work with our Veterans by assisting them with accessing earned benefits and services. This Veterans Day, we honor their sacrifices, patriotism, and bravery by participating in OPERATION GREEN LIGHT,” shares Stephen White, Master Sergeant (retired), USAF and Mendocino County Social Services Deputy Director Adult & Aging Services. 

Mendocino County Veterans Services Office may be contacted for services and supports at (707) 463-4226. If you would like information on Mendocino County Department of Social Services, Veterans Services Office, please visit

(County Presser)

* * *

* * *

LIBRARY SEEKS PUBLIC’S FEEDBACK; Survey ‘will be active through Nov. 30’

by Justine Frederiksen

From now until the end of the month, Mendocino County residents can submit feedback to the county’s library system regarding what services they use the most, and what changes they might like to see implemented.

During the Nov. 2 meeting of the Ukiah City Council, Melissa Eleftherion Carr, branch manager of the Ukiah Library, addressed the board during the period devoted to public comments to let residents know that they can submit such feedback by filling out the library’s strategic plan survey, “which will be active through Nov. 30.

“We welcome input to best refine our library services, programs and collections, as well as ways we can improve,” Carr said. “As a public library, we really want to hear from everyone who is interested in having their voice heard.”

Carr said that printed forms can be filled out and submitted at the Ukiah library, or other county branches, or can be filled out online here:

“Whether you are an active library user or not, we really want to hear from you and work with our communities to ensure we reflect their diversified and unique voices,” Carr said.

Also this month: On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Mendocino County voters will be asked if they want to support a one-eighth of a cent sales tax called Measure O.

According to the voter information pamphlet, the tax “shall be used for maintaining and improving services at the existing libraries, upgrading and expansion of facilities, services, and collections; and extending branch library services to the unserved and under-served areas of the county.

The revenues collected from this tax shall be used only to supplement existing expenditures for public libraries and shall not be used to supplant existing funding for the support of public libraries.”

An argument in favor of Measure O was submitted by Carolyn Schneider, chairperson of the Citizens Committee for the Library Initiative 2022, and states that “Measure O will make the current 1/8 cent (sales tax allotment for libraries) permanent and add another 1/8 cent, together raising $4.2 million per year, 40-percent of which will go for capital repairs and improvements.”

There was no argument against the sales tax submitted for the voter information pamphlet.

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

* * *


related: "As Relicensing Looms, Aging Dams Face a Reckoning"

* * *


by Rachel Schnalzer

Death cap. Pine spike. Shaggy mane. Hideous Gomphidius.

No, these aren’t the names of punk bands from your local high school — they’re just some of the mushroom varieties that grow in Northern California.

Mushroom season is underway in Mendocino County, home to roughly 3,000 mushroom varieties (500 of which you can safely eat!). In other words: If you needed an excuse to make the 500-mile journey from L.A. to Mendocino’s stunning stretch of coastline, this is it.

In this edition of Escapes, you’ll find a few ways to embrace the cottage-core vibes of mushroom season and become a fungi expert.

Become a mushroom expert

Why do mushrooms love Mendocino so much? What’s the difference between an amber-staining Agaricus and a gemmed Amanita? And what’s so special about mushrooms, anyway?

You’ll receive a crash course on all things fungi if you attend one of the many mushroom tours offered throughout Mendocino County this month and beyond.

The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, home to more than 160 species of mushrooms during the fall and winter months, is a great place to start your mushroom education. Every Monday from Nov. 14 through Dec. 26, naturalist and mycologist Mario Abreu will lead guests on a two-hour “mushroom walk” around the grounds. On the tour, guests will learn how to identify different types of mushroom and hear mushroom lore.

Reservations are required. Tickets cost $15 per participant and include gardens admission for the day. Note: There is no tour on Dec. 5.

Can’t make one of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens’ mushroom walks? Other Mendocino institutions such as the Stanford Inn, Brewery Gulch Inn and the Jug Handle Creek Farm and Nature Center also host mushroom education programs.

Eat your fill of mushrooms

After learning the ins and outs of Mendocino’s mushrooms, you’ll likely be hungry and eager to sample the region’s wild bounty yourself.

Here are a few places where you can find mushroom-forward dishes around the county right now:

Harbor House Inn: The Michelin-starred restaurant includes candy cap mushroom ice cream on its sample menu.

Fog Eater Cafe: Find fried blue oyster mushrooms on the menu at this vegetarian restaurant. The Mendocino Village spot also hosts a special Mushroom Dinner on Nov. 10.

The Bewildered Pig market: Stock up on “medicinal mushroom cookies” on your way through Philo, Calif.

The Stanford Inn: A perfect jumping-off point for experiencing mushroom season, this inn offers a “medicinal mushroom breakfast” and a mushroom tasting menu for dinner. More info on the inn’s mushroom programming here.

Ride the Mushroom Train

If you enjoy traveling in Northern California, chances are you’ve heard of Fort Bragg’s Skunk Train, a staggeringly photogenic rail route through the redwood forest that dates back to the 1800s.

On Nov. 12, the famous Skunk Train will transform into the Mushroom Train in honor of Mendocino’s mushroom season. The train will whisk passengers through the giant trees, beginning at Fort Bragg Depot and ending at Glen Blair Junction. Guests will get the chance to try mushroom dishes, taste wines, enjoy s’mores around a campfire and more.

Reservations are required. Tickets cost $150 with a $50 additional whiskey upgrade, with proceeds benefiting MendoParks.

(LA Times)

* * *

IN OCTOBER OF 1998, some 24 years ago now, then senior Deputy District Attorney Myron Sawicki wrote the following remarkable letter to the Editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser in support of candidate Norm Vroman who was running against incumbent DA Susan Massini. It bears repeating. Vroman won by a small margin.

To The Members Of The Coastal Community: 

The summer of 1987 is a period that very few coastal residents will ever forget. That was the time when Fort Bragg was plagued with a series of arson fires that consumed a couple of restaurants, the courthouse, and the town's only library. It was a crime that deeply impacted the local community.

The citizens rightfully demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice. However, the case was stalled through a series of delays and was ultimately dropped. The result was no justice for these crimes. At the time the community demanded answers but none was forthcoming. The District Attorney gave a variety of excuses and blamed practically everyone except herself. She said the fault lay with the US Attorney, the federal agents, the Fort Bragg Police Department, and the County Board of Supervisors. She even tried to blame Congressman Frank Riggs when he tried to help with the situation.

The Fort Bragg Advocate newspaper very eloquently presented the community's position in its October 1989 issue that had a cartoon showing the District Attorney turning her back to a town that was burned to the ground. Along with the cartoon was an editorial stating that the DA should forget about any re-election chances with the Coast if she fails to prosecute the case.

The net result was that she dropped the ball and turned her back on the community. 

I know because I was the prosecutor assigned to assist in the investigation of that case. I bear witness to what was done. For years I have declined public comment about the case because I did not agree with the DA's action, but I could not speak the truth while in her employment. I am now free to speak my conscience and let the people know how the DA has failed them.

In this election, the people have the opportunity to make a choice as to who should be the next District Attorney. My choice is Norm Vroman because I want to prevent another debacle like the Fort Bragg arsons from ever happening again.

Myron Sawicki

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, November 5, 2022

Blake, Curtis, Daniels, Franks

STEVEN BLAKE, Covelo. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15%, reckless evasion.

JAMES CURTIS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ROBERT DANIELS, Fort Bragg. DUI, probation revocation.

WILLIAM FRANKS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Johnson, Lopez, Magana

SHAWN JOHNSON, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, mandatory supervision violation.

JUAN LOPEZ, Willits. Controlled substance, forgery, bad checks, false ID, county parole violation, resisting.

LUIS MAGANA-ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Murphy, Torres, Vargas

LINDSAY MURPHY, Fort Bragg. Narcotics for sale, paraphernalia, contempted of court, offenses while on bail.

DAVID TORRES, Ukiah. Domestic battery, willful cruelty to child/possible injury or death.

JOSE VARGAS-ENRIQUEZ, Ukiah. Ammo possession by prohibited person.

* * *


“We're all self-saboteurs to one degree or another. When one sees a fellow self-saboteur sabotaging himself particularly spectacularly, one feels a form of envy.”

Here's the recording of last night's (2022-11-04) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA):

Thanks to Hank Sims for tech help, as well as for his fine news site:

Thanks are due the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which always provides about an hour of each of my Friday night shows' most locally relevant material without asking for anything in return, going back decades. Further, thank tiny bravely struggling KNYO itself ( It'll be such fun for you to find the hidden red donation heart there and help the station out with a Jackson or more. Or buy some naturally healthy KNYO hot sauce. (“It's toasted!”)

Besides all that, at 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:

This ten-year-old girl put a spell on you because you're hers. Stop what you're doing and watch out; she is not lying.

Burning Man from the air.

And summoning the dramatic, clumsy dead.

P.S. Email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio next Friday night. If it's full of swears, that's no problem, I just have to wait till after 10pm to read it.

Marco McClean,,

* * *

* * *

AMERICAN CANNABIS FARMERS are growing an awesome wave of legal green that weighs some 2,834 metric tons, according to the Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report 2022.

There are now 15 states where adults can go into a state-licensed store and buy legal cannabis. Those 15 states now support 13,297 active legal cannabis farms, which in turn support farm families, communities, and tens of thousands of full-time workers.

Yet this legal crop is missing from USDA reports on agriculture. That's a significant omission with real implications. Americans want to end the Drug War and move consumers to a legal, taxed, and tested crop. Voters and community leaders need production, price, licensing, and crop value data to measure our progress. Regulators in some states cannot supply the most basic fact about their cannabis markets: “How much pot did you grow?” To find the answer, Leafly estimated it for the second year in a row.

The story in 2022 is all about rising production and falling prices. As the legal harvest continued to ramp up in legal states, the average price of cannabis fell over the past twelve months, yielding an adult-use cannabis crop worth $5 billion in wholesale value.

That makes legal cannabis the sixth most valuable crop in the US. Only corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, and cotton bring in more money on a wholesale basis.

Farmers grew 24% more metric tons of adult-use cannabis this year, compared to the year measured in the 2021 Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report. To get a sense of the volume of the past year's cannabis harvest, 2,834 metric tons would fill nearly 15,000 dump trucks lined up end-to-end for up for 45 miles.

We’re only counting the 15 active adult-use states, not the dozens of medical-only states, or crops grown to supply the illicit market. That total number would be about 3 to 5 times larger.…

* * *

* * *


I think there are Republicans with integrity still around but they’re being drowned out or drummed out of the party because they don’t toe the Trumpian party line. That’s not to say the Democrats as a whole are even remotely competent, because most of them aren’t, but they aren’t completely batshit crazy like the Republicans.

* * *

* * *


by Jessica Pishko

This fall, weeks after members of the Arizona far-right group known as the Yavapai County Preparedness Team announced they were forming a watch group to guard ballot drop boxes in shifts, they welcomed a guest to their regular biweekly meeting. 

Wearing a brilliant purple collared shirt and a black cowboy hat, Richard Mack stood before rows of chairs in the church gymnasium, a black-and-white picture of Jesus with the crown of thorns over the basketball hoop. Mack leads a network of sheriffs across the country – the so-called constitutional sheriffs movement – who believe their powers supersede those of the president and the Supreme Court. Under his leadership, they’ve embraced the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and are pledging to use their positions to do something about it. 

“There are millions of people in our country who call our Constitution evil,” he said, on the verge of tears. He said it was “part of their scheme to destroy America and replace our Constitution with their socialistic agenda.” 

Mack emphasized his view that Democrats are intentionally lying about the security of the election. “It just goes on. And they keep getting away with,” he spread his palms in frustration, “murder.”

“This whole thing is the greatest crime ever committed against the American people,” he concluded. “And all we want and all we are asking for is that every county sheriff look at what happened in his county and make sure that we don’t fall prey.” 

At the early October meeting, most attendees and leaders, male and female, wore an exposed sidearm. They donned the black-and-yellow T-shirts and caps of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia whose leader and several members have been charged with sedition over the Jan. 6 insurrection. The Yavapai County Preparedness Team – which claims to be the largest existing Oath Keepers branch but says it’s split from the national group – is run by Jim Arroyo, a loud man of retirement age with a trim white goatee who was an Army Ranger and has a passion for disaster preparedness.

“Everybody is worried about civil war,” Arroyo said at the October meeting. “All we do is threat assessment.” During a session on home medicine, attendees discussed the use of mushrooms as a healing elixir. Arroyo spoke in a bullish way about the need to protect oneself from a nuclear attack. He provided examples like sealing off doors and windows with plastic. A woman in front of me took notes on the iPhone Notes app under the headline: NUCLEAR.

Over the last couple of years, the group – just like Mack’s sheriffs – has gravitated toward a new mission, animated by conspiracy theories spread by Trump and glorified in the film “2000 Mules.” The theories, which have never been proven, assert that left-wing groups stole the 2020 election by stuffing absentee ballot drop boxes with a flood of fraudulent votes. 

Now, they’re preparing to do something about it: Far-right groups have made an intense, concerted push to monitor absentee ballot drop boxes. And they’ve found a growing group of staunch allies: sheriffs who’ve appointed themselves election police. 

To be clear, sheriffs do not have authority over elections, which are run by county recorders or other local officials. Once there is a criminal complaint, sheriffs, as law enforcement officials, can sometimes investigate these violations, which are sometimes felonies carrying prison time. 

Two weeks before Mack’s visit, the Preparedness Team had welcomed Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes, who championed the fact that he’d worked with local election officials to put cameras near ballot drop boxes. 

“You have put your trust in me to provide public safety,” he told the group. “I am going to be available and accessible to you all the time.” 

The specter of coordination between legitimate law enforcement – which has the backing of law, courts and taxpayer-funded weapons – and militia-inspired vigilantes raises increasing concerns about voter intimidation heading into next week’s midterm elections and beyond. It also hints at a schism beyond repair. As Arroyo said: “This nation is divided. … That is leading to civil unrest and will eventually lead to a civil war.” 

Such groups are facing some pushback as Election Day nears. After voting rights groups filed a lawsuit against groups in Yavapai County over drop box monitoring, the Preparedness Team told ballot watchers to “stand down” and officially ended the program.

But armed vigilantes were also spotted patrolling a drop box in Mesa, Arizona. 

And Mack’s outreach is going far beyond groups that are armed to the teeth. Recently, he did a virtual event with the California Federation of Republican Women to advise members on how to talk to their sheriffs. “Take a plate of cookies,” he said. “Don’t do donuts because that’s too stereotypical. But cookies, that definitely have nuts in them.” Preferably walnut or pecan, he added.

How Sheriffs Embraced the Big Lie

Mack’s national influence stretches back to the 1990s, when he became a leading figure against gun control. In 2011, during Barack Obama’s presidency, Mack found himself inspired. As a former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, he wanted to start a movement: to recruit and train sheriffs to a special kind of ideology, one that says the local sheriff has the power to overrule federal and state authority to defend constitutional rights.

So Mack created the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. And until at least 2014, he was also a board member of the Oath Keepers. While Mack continued to be associated with Oath Keepers members, he left the board and said it was because he opposed the group’s use of violence.

The so-called constitutional sheriffs movement is rooted in a far-right ideology promulgated by the virulently racist Posse Comitatus movement, started by a White supremacist named William Potter Gale in the 1970s. A core tenant of Posse Comitatus was a reverence for county-level law enforcement, specifically elected sheriffs. According to the ideology, a sheriff could interpose – or block – federal and state laws, so long as those laws were deemed “unconstitutional.” Posse Comitatus ideals spread throughout the West, inspiring sovereign citizen and militia movements.

Mack’s group fizzled out in the years after Obama left office. He had a heart attack and asked for financial help on GoFundMe.

But then came the pandemic. The mask and later vaccine mandates that came with it reinvigorated Mack and his association, increasing the number of trainings and members. Then came Biden’s election. Mack began touring the country, bringing new recruits to his cause. “They were converted,” Mack proclaimed at one event, talking about a group of sheriffs he trained. 

The ARISE USA tour (also sometimes called the “Resurrection Tour“) brought together anti-vaxxers, tax resisters, FBI haters and election deniers under one metaphorical roof. The tour’s tagline: “to unify the ninety-nine percent of the American population against the one percent in government who no longer represent the people.” 

As part of this tour, Mack inflamed fears about election integrity, supporting the false idea that the 2020 election was rigged. A baseball hat distributed at a sheriffs association event in 2021 read “#Unrig” across the front. Crowds at the rallies wore Make America Great Again hats and waved Trump 2024 flags. At one rally during the summer of 2021 in Battle Mountain, Nevada, I was startled by a sign that said, “America was raped. 11-3-20,” in white blocky paint.

The tour ran out of money and Robert David Steele, a well-known anti-vaxxer and one of the tour’s main organizers, died of COVID-19 in August 2021. But Mack – a devout Mormon who started as a beat cop in Provo, Utah – has found new relevance in promoting a narrative that the 2020 election was stolen and that sheriffs were the ones to prove it.

He has also inspired other sheriffs to join far-right election groups, as well as state Republican committees, grassroots far-right groups and local militias. 

In Arizona, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb and his own far-right sheriffs group Protect America Now partnered with True the Vote, a group with a history of spreading false voter fraud claims while also enriching its insiders. Together, they produced a video in which Lamb fans the flames of the Big Lie and tells viewers to submit complaints to their county sheriff. The website directs people to “nominate your Sheriff to be a part of” If they do, they get a form letter, signed by Lamb, to send to their sheriff. The letter, which I obtained through public records requests, encourages sheriffs to “be ready to enforce the law and protect our constituents from any form of illegal activity” and offers “much needed grant resources to help you secure the voting procedures in your county with equipment, personnel, and increased citizen communication.”

An attached page includes “election integrity recommendations” like “increased patrol” around ballot drop boxes and increased video surveillance of drop boxes accessible to sheriffs on a daily basis. Sheriffs are encouraged to send community members to a national hotline run by True the Vote to report suspicious activity that will be “routed and tracked for follow up.” Finally, the document points out that sheriffs have “control in their county” – “When other areas of government breakdown our local Sheriffs step in to make sure the law is enforced.”

In Johnson County, Kansas, Sheriff Calvin Hayden requested that deputies be permitted to handle the transportation of ballots; this was rejected by county leaders. He has also continued to investigate claims of election fraud and told a small assembly in the fall: “I’m so sick and tired of hearing, ‘You’re hurting our democracy. You’re hurting our democracy.’ We don’t have a democracy. It’s a constitutional republic.”

In Wisconsin, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling conducted a criminal investigation into allegations that some people in nursing homes improperly voted; he argued that members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission should be charged with crimes. Inspired by Schmaling, the Republican-led Legislature passed a bill earlier this year making it a felony for nursing home employees to interfere in the voting process. No charges were ever filed and there was no evidence of fraud. The Democratic governor vetoed the bill. 

Then there’s Dar Leaf, sheriff of Barry County, Michigan. 

In the weeks following the 2020 election, Michigan descended into political chaos. Trump invited Republican legislative leaders to the White House to see whether they’d stop the certification of Biden’s victory in the state. Republican election bureaucrats in the state’s most populous and most Democratic county held up the results there, threatening to take away the votes that swung the state to Biden. And a group of Republican fake electors talked about camping overnight in the state Capitol to swing the state’s electoral votes to Trump.

Into that chaos stepped a man with a badge and a gun: Dar Leaf of Barry County, a rural square of land outside Grand Rapids with just over 60,000 residents. Leaf – who is ruddy, squat and speaks with a strong Midwestern accent – was particularly drawn to the conspiracy theories that had bolted through conservative politics. 

He was a key figure in early COVID-19 denial rallies and appeared at one with members of the Wolverine Watchmen, some of whom were later convicted in a failed plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

In December 2020, Leaf filed a lawsuit questioning the use of “disposable pens” (Sharpies, to be exact), giving official credence to a debunked internet conspiracy that election officials were attempting to invalidate votes for Trump by giving presumed Republican voters Sharpies to use. This was quickly thrown out by a federal judge. Last year, he chased another popular conspiracy theory by sending a private investigator and a deputy from his office to question local election officials about the possibility that Dominion voting machines had been tampered with to alter votes. 

One of Leaf’s targets, Rutland Township Clerk Robin Hawthorne, told me the investigator asked her “a whole bunch of questions” about how the voting machines were programmed. The investigator told her the Sheriff’s Office planned to interrogate all the election clerks in the county in search of vote manipulation. Hawthorne was baffled by the line of questioning; Trump had easily won the county by 2 to 1. Other election clerks asserted that there was no way to manipulate votes using those machines. At least one clerk later said the investigator took one of the voting machines.

I requested Leaf’s emails for 2021 and most of 2022 under public records law and found he’d had frequent contact with Mack, of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The sheriff’s conversations with Mack show the deep influence of conspiracies about elections and their own political and policing powers. 

Leaf and Mack, for example, shared a number of emails about a theory that the Electronic Registration Information Center – an interstate database used to confirm voters’ addresses – is part of a Democratic plot to control elections. (This has been thoroughly debunked.) In response to one email forward about the center, Mack responded, “Dar, I am not sure about this. We should discuss this and common law juries.” 

A common law jury, in a nutshell, is an idea popular with sovereign citizens – people who believe they are exempt from federal law – holding that the people, led by county sheriffs, can summon posses and enforce the law as vigilantes. It’s essentially a shadow system used by sovereign citizens to justify militia rule and has no relation to the American legal system. 

(When I asked Mack via email about this exchange over common law juries, Mack said, “I do not approve of them.”)

In another note to Mack, Leaf included a presentation called “The American Sheriff: At the Common Law,” co-written by Brent Allan Winters, a self-styled “American geologist, Bible translator, common lawyer, author, and teacher of comparative law.” Winters supports the theory of common law juries. The PowerPoint even compares Leaf, as sheriff of Barry County, favorably to King Alfred the Great because of his unique ability to summon a posse of volunteer recruits.

Leaf sent Mack regular updates about the potential for voter fraud, mostly relying on conspiracy-laden information. One email forward was entirely composed of various articles about alleged (and debunked) U.S. vote manipulation by Italian groups, compiled by a power grid consultant. 

Mack and Leaf also corresponded regularly about the ARISE USA tour, for which Leaf was a speaker. In one email, Leaf – whose email signature ends with the quote, “A great leader knows when to lead and when to get out of the way” – asked Mack about the views of tour organizer Steele, who touted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In response, Mack wrote: “Robert said several dumb things and yes, he tries to explain the difference between Zionists and Jews. He said Jews are good people and that Zionists are not and that they have a subversive agenda.” Mack then offered to “back” Leaf in any sort of public backlash.

Leaf wouldn’t comment for this story, but in the course of fulfilling my public records request, he called to tell me that he was handling the request personally because of the sensitive nature of the investigation. In addition to the emails, he gave me a PDF titled, “Power of ‘No!,’ “ a quasi-historical justification for what’s known as nullification, the (illegal) process by which some far-right sheriffs believe they can disobey federal law. While the presentation casts nullification as rooted in august figures like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the theory was primarily used by Southern states and counties to explain why they believed they could continue Jim Crow laws and segregated schools despite federal laws and Supreme Court decisions stating otherwise. The goal of the presentation is to explain how nullification is less violent than the alternative: out-and-out revolution. 

In two presentations Leaf gave me – both by a Michigan lawyer named Carson Tucker – the history of the sheriff is presented as dignified, rooted in Anglo-Saxon law (including the Bible), and inherently concerned with “keeping the peace” through whatever means necessary, including the recruitment of a posse. (Tucker has also represented Leaf in some of his failed vote fraud investigations. He did not return a request for comment.) 

According to The Detroit News, Leaf and others are now subjects of “an ongoing investigation into the unlawful movement of tabulators outside of the jurisdictions of election clerks in multiple counties” by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. According to Nessel’s office, the plot included removing Dominion voting machines to a secret location, where they were disassembled and used to perform “tests.” While no one has been indicted yet, Nessel is requesting a special prosecutor to consider criminal charges against Leaf and other Republican politicians, including the GOP’s candidate running against Nessel, Matt DePerno, who rose from obscurity after questioning the 2020 election results in Michigan and later getting Trump’s endorsement. 

Last week, the all-Republican Barry County Board of Commissioners decided to revoke funding from the Sheriff’s Office because Leaf continues to pursue election-related claims instead of hiring another detective to investigate violent crimes, as other leaders have suggested. Leaf has assigned one of his two detectives to “election fraud” full time; only one detective is working on all other crimes. Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Julie Pratt described the situation in the Sheriff’s Office this way: “If you’re not driving or no one is driving the bus, I don’t know how the passengers can feel safe and secure.” When I asked Mack about concerns that Leaf was ignoring other investigations for his quixotic question, he chuckled and hung up.

Leaf says the state investigation is simply confirmation that he is on the right track: “We’re ready for the battle,” he said on the website of Mack’s group. 


* * *

* * *

THE FINANCIER: Robert Morris, America’s Original Bailout Czar

by Ray Raphael

There were no second or third choices. Everyone knew that only one man could possibly save the failing nation. Like him or not, and many did not, members of Congress begged the richest man in the country to reverse the worst financial crisis in American history.

The year was 1781, and a Continental dollar could not buy a penny’s worth of goods. Unless suppliers and lenders could be persuaded to accept Congress’s money or credit, there would be no beef or flour for the troops, no powder for their guns. Soon, no army, and in the end, no nation. The American experiment with independence, just five years in the making, would be no more than a brief episode in the history of the British Empire.

Before coming to the rescue, Robert Morris pushed Congress to grant him powers that no president has ever enjoyed. He could handle all money without oversight, dismiss any government worker at will, import and export on the nation’s tab, negotiate with and borrow money from foreign governments on his own accord, run the Navy, and simultaneously continue to build his private fortune. But he did come through. Merchants who refused to deal with a floundering Congress were willing to do business with “The Financier,” as he was called both at home and abroad. They wouldn’t accept Continental currency, but they would take “Morris Notes,” treasury bills backed by his own personal credit. If the government couldn’t pay, Morris himself promised he would.

Why don’t we know this man?

Born in Liverpool in 1735, Morris came to the colonies at the age of twelve and apprenticed with Charles Willing, one of Philadelphia’s leading merchants. At age fifteen, while his boss was traveling abroad, the young clerk cornered the Philadelphia flour market, thereby inducing scarcity and raising prices. Consumers were upset, but Charles Willing, upon his return, praised the eager young clerk for his entrepreneurial spirit. Morris was only twenty-two when Thomas Willing, Charles’ son, took him on as a partner.

The timing was perfect. Britain had just challenged France to a war of empire for the North American interior, and war meant opportunity. Morris enhanced his fortune by importing military stores, consumer goods, indentured servants, and even slaves, while exporting commodities from American farms. He also engaged in privateering, government-sponsored piracy on French commercial vessels.

Morris had no political views to speak of, other than the simple belief that “commerce should be perfectly free, and property sacredly secure to the owner.” But pre-revolutionary turmoil in the 1760s and early 70s interfered with free commerce. British officials placed constraints on trade, while American patriots responded by boycotting British goods. Although none of this was good news for Robert Morris, the war that followed was. Again, Morris profited by filling wartime needs, this time in an official capacity. As a delegate to the Continental Congress and chairman of the powerful Secret Committee of Commerce, he was charged with keeping the supply train flowing. Working tirelessly, Morris purchased goods for the Continental Army — often from the firm of Willing and Morris. A conflict of interest? Certainly, but soldiers were fed, clothed, and armed. Morris was more a procuring agent than an impartial referee.

Morris’s peers, for the most part, were pleased. John Adams, fond of assessing the character and utility of delegates to Congress, wrote of Morris: “I think he has a masterly understanding, and open temper and an honest heart. He has vast designs in the mercantile way, and no doubt pursues mercantile ends, which are always gain; but he is an excellent member of our body.”

George Washington’s admiration for Morris went far beyond that, for without Morris’s direct assistance on several occasions, Washington would have had no army. On the last day of 1776, with the terms of enlistment for his troops about to expire the next day, a desperate commander-in-chief jotted an urgent note to Morris: “Tomorrow the Continental troops are all at liberty. If it be possible, sir, to give us assistance, do it— borrow money where it can be done—every man of interest & every lover of his country must strain his credit upon such an occasion.” To which Morris responded the next day:

I am up very early this morning to dispatch a supply of fifty thousand dollars to your Excellency. You will receive that sum with this letter but it will not be got so early as I cou’d wish for none concerned in this movement except myself are up. I shall rouse them immediately. If further occasional supplies of money are necessary you may depend on my exertions either in a publick or private capacity.

By the end of 1776, Congress was relying on Morris shamelessly. He served not only on the Secret Committee of Commerce, but also on the Committee of Secret Correspondence, which communicated (sometimes using invisible ink) with foreign merchants and diplomats, and the Marine Committee, charged with creating an American Navy and distributing the goods obtained by American privateers. When some delegates wondered why they were not better informed about certain business of the Secret Committee of Correspondence, the Committee, in the persons of Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris, replied: “We are of opinion that it is unnecessary to inform Congress of this intelligence at present because Mr. Morris belongs to all the committees that can properly be employed in receiving & importing the expected supplys.”

For better or worse, Robert Morris managed to make himself indispensable. When Congress fled Philadelphia on December 12, 1776, to escape the reach of an advancing British army, it left Morris behind to procure supplies and finance the army. He packed a wagon train loaded with his valuable possessions, ready to depart at a moment’s notice should the need arise, and then conducted the various affairs of the nation by himself. He ordered salt sent to the countryside, purchased clothes for soldiers, rigged boats with guns, commandeered wagons to evacuate the city — all the sundry, on-the-ground decisions that had to be made in a time of crisis. While delegates at Baltimore did no more than talk, Morris acted. On one day alone, 23 of his letters were read on the floor of Congress to the refugee delegates, who formally approved the “care of the public business as signified in Mr. Morris’s letters.”

Morris profited personally, even while serving the public good. “It seems to me the present opportunity of improving our fortunes ought not to be lost especially as the very means of doing it will contribute to the service of our Country at the same time,” he wrote to his agent in France. In addition to the no-bid contracts he issued to himself, he dispatched numerous privateering vessels, many of which returned with lucrative prizes. He also engaged in what we would now call a kickback scheme. He and Benjamin Harrison, a business associate and paymaster for the army in Virginia, entered a pact that played to their mutual advantage: Harrison would send business Morris’s way, charging the Virginia government an extra two percent, while Morris would let out Congressional contracts to Harrison, also at a two percent premium. Morris did not seem to find anything improper about this arrangement.

Even so, Morris hankered to get back into the private sector, where he could shop the “good bargains” in “inland speculation,” which promised huge profits. He also hoped to take advantage of wartime shortages by accumulating scarce commodities and jacking up prices. “What think you,” he wrote to a business associate, “of buying up in your state all such prize goods (not perishable) as sell cheap and laying by awhile?”

After leaving Congress in 1778, however, this practice landed Morris in trouble. Ordinary citizens in Philadelphia did not appreciate the “forestallers,” “engrossers,” and “monopolizers” who profited at their expense, and on October 4, 1779, distressed by a 50% rise in food prices over the previous ten days, a large crowd assaulted Morris, whom they deemed responsible, and some of his gentlemen supporters. Morris and company retreated to the three-story brick home of his lawyer, James Wilson, and proceeded to fire on the crowd, killing five men. In the days following the “Battle of Fort Wilson,” as it was called, Morris was forced to hide inside his town house, too scared to light a candle at night.

By 1781, when Robert Morris assumed command of the government and the economy, more people resented the man than liked him, but that did not stop Congress from groveling at his feet. Things were that bad. Congress had lost all its credit: suppliers refused to advance it any goods or accept its currency as payment. Morris’s credit, on the other hand, was perfectly sound, so Congress created a special office — “Superintendent of Finance” — and asked him point-blank to take charge of the government’s affairs. He agreed, but only if he were allowed to run the show on his own. Congress had little choice but to agree. One prominent politico from Pennsylvania commented wryly:

The business of that august body has been extremely simplified, Mr. Morris having relieved them from all business of deliberation or executive difficulty with which money is in any respect connected, and they are now very much at leisure to read dispatches, return thanks, pay and receive compliments, &c. For form’s sake some things go thither to receive a sanction, but it is the general opinion that it is form only.

“The Financier.” Those two words, definite article and noun, uttered together, invariably inspired awe, whether from admiration or fear.

The lynchpin of Morris’s plan for recovery was a national bank, capitalized by private investors, which would extend credit to the government. In this manner, wealthy men would assume public debt, and once they did, they would make sure the government did not fail. The bank would operate without any restraints. There would be no limitations on the type of investments, no restrictions or regulations, no time limit for the charter. To keep operations secret from “national enemies,” the books would be closed. One person alone would provide oversight: “the officer who is appointed to manage the monied interests of America,” that is to say The Financier, Robert Morris. Although the very notion of such an institution flew in the face of prevailing republican ideology, it took a mere nine days for Congress to approve the Bank of North America — even less time that it took Henry Paulson to garner Congressional approval for the 700 billion dollar bailout in the fall of 2008.

While the national bank helped the flow of credit, its notes were too large and issued too infrequently to function as the nation’s only currency. That’s why The Financier created “Morris Notes,” drafts of $20 to $100, redeemable in specie, signed by himself and watermarked “United States.” Morris’s own signature was key, for he vowed if the government couldn’t make good on the notes, he would: “My personal credit, which thank Heaven I have preserved throughout all the tempests of the War, has been substituted for that which the country had lost.” Starting in November of 1781, “Morris Notes” superceded Continental currency in common business transactions. The bad news was that people placed more trust in the financial viability of a single individual than they did in the solvency of their government; the good news was that this particular individual, who had profited greatly from the war, was willing to stake his fortune on behalf of a bankrupt nation.

By mutual consent, Robert Morris and Congress terminated their relationship on November 1, 1784. Morris, with his bank and his notes, had adverted the crisis, but he never garnered the one power needed to place the United States on a firm financial footing: national taxation. That would come a few years later, with the new Constitution.

“The pursuit of riches,” Thomas Willing once jotted in his diary, is “the proper object of a reasonable man” — and once freed of public burdens, Morris was free to act reasonably once again. He monopolized tobacco exports to France, thereby driving down the price of tobacco here in America and angering southern planters, to whom he owed no more allegiance. With ships he had once used for privateering, he opened American trade with China and India. He invested freely and often, and he usually came out ahead.

In 1789, President George Washington offered his good friend and patron the post of Secretary of the Treasury under the new Constitution. This time Morris declined, for others could now handle the job. He preferred to pursue riches the unfettered way.

Like other capitalists in the New Republic, Morris saw the greatest opportunity in western land speculations. In 1795, relying on credit, his immodestly-named North American Land Company purchased 6,000,000 acres in seven states: New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The venture promised to return “at least four, but I believe ten times” the original capital, he told potential investors. It was a speculator’s millennial vision, profits beyond imagination. But as Morris searched for takers both in America and abroad, he found there were too many schemes such as his, and they could not all be capitalized. He failed to attract sufficient funds to pay back his original loans, and for the first time in his life, Robert Morris found himself unable to meet his outstanding obligations.

By the fall of 1797, the former Financier was “besieged with creditors,” not just figuratively, but literally. Secluding himself within his country estate, he braced for their charge. Some tried to enter by subterfuge. Others gathered and made a fuss at the gate.

Finally, on February 14, 1798, an angry creditor convinced a local sheriff to enter the house, seize Morris, and escort him to the Walnut Street Gaol.

For more than three years Robert Morris languished in jail, confined (except for privileges of the yard) to a room with doubled-grated bars across the windows. Years earlier, when the nation was bankrupt, he had stepped forward to bail it out; now, nobody reciprocated. Friends like George Washington might have helped if they could, but his debts were just too vast: $2,948,711.11, by final tally. The Financier had fallen from the richest man in America to the poorest.

So ended Robert Morris’s chance for inclusion in the national pantheon of founders. His life story, with its wretched ending, was not to be celebrated, no matter what The Financier had done before. Riches to rags is not the American way.

In his stead we have Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s second choice for Secretary of the Treasury. Think “finances” and “founder” in the same synaptic moment, and Hamilton’s name automatically appears. But throughout most of the Revolutionary Era, Hamilton was considered a prodigy, not a powerhouse. It was only after the reign of The Financier that Hamilton gained such renown by implementing the nationalist policies first pushed by Morris. Americans ever since have given the closer full credit, the starter none.

Ironically, Robert Morris’s final and inadvertent contribution to public affairs ran directly counter to the thrust of his life’s work. Before Morris went to jail, the federal government, although empowered to pass legislation regulating bankruptcy, had done nothing about it. To men in power, the term “debtor” connoted poor farmers — but if The Financier could be imprisoned, who among them was really safe? In 1800, Federalist Congressmen pushed through a bill that allowed a debtor to be set free, pending the approval of two-thirds of his creditors, and under that law Robert Morris, age 67 and spent, was finally released.

(Ray Raphael’s most recent book, Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation, features Robert Morris as one of seven lead characters. His thirteen previous books include the bestselling A People’s History of the American Revolution; The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord; and Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past.)

* * *

* * *


by Caitlin Johnstone

The US is preparing to station multiple nuclear-capable B-52 bombers in northern Australia in what the mass media are calling a “signal to China,” yet another example of Australia’s forced subservience as a US military/intelligence asset.

“Having bombers that could range and potentially attack mainland China could be very important in sending a signal to China that any of its actions over Taiwan could also expand further,” Becca Wasser from the Centre for New American Security think tank told the ABC.

“This is a dangerous escalation. It makes Australia an even bigger part of the global nuclear weapons threat to humanity’s very existence – and by rising military tensions it further destabilises our region,” tweeted Greens Senator David Shoebridge of the incendiary provocation.

A new Australian Financial Review article titled “Australia’s alliances in Asia are a tale of two regions” candidly discusses the Biden administration’s recent sanctions geared toward kneecapping the Chinese tech industry in what the author James Curran correctly says “is unambiguously a new cold war.” Curran describes the impossible task Australia has of straddling the ever-widening divide between its number one trading partner China and its number one “security” partner the US, while Washington continually pressures Canberra and ASEAN states toward greater and greater enmity with Beijing.

“ASEAN countries, as much as Australia, have much at stake in resisting the onset of a bifurcated world,” Curran writes.

But that bifurcation is being shoved through at breakneck pace, using both hard and soft power measures. Australians have been hammered with increasingly aggressive anti-China propaganda, and as a result nearly half of them now say they would be willing to go to war to defend Taiwan from an attack by the mainland, with a third saying they’d support a war against China over the Solomon Islands.

recent Cambridge study found that this hostility toward China has been on the rise in recent years not just in Australia but throughout the “liberal democracies” of the US-centralized power alliance. But what’s interesting is that public opinion is exactly reversed in the much larger remainder of the Earth’s population, with people outside the US power cluster just as fond of China as those within that power cluster are hostile toward it. This relationship is largely mirrored with Russia as well.

“Among the 1.2bn people who inhabit the world’s liberal democracies, three-quarters (75%) now hold a negative view of China, and 87% a negative view of Russia,” the report reads. “However, for the 6.3bn people who live in the rest of the world, the picture is reversed. In these societies, 70% feel positively towards China, and 66% positively towards Russia.”

The report finds that in the “developing” world, approval of China is higher than approval of the US:

“For the first time ever, slightly more people in developing countries (62%) are favourable towards China than towards the United States (61%). This is especially so among the 4.6bn people living in countries supported by the Belt and Road Initiative, among whom almost two-thirds hold a positive view of China, compared to just a quarter (27%) in non-participating countries.”

The report finds that while Russia’s approval has plummeted in the west, it maintains broad support in the east despite the invasion of Ukraine:

“However, the real terrain of Russia’s international influence lies outside of the West. 75% of respondents in South Asia, 68% in Francophone Africa, 62% in Southeast Asia continue to view the country positively in spite of the events of this year.”

I first became aware of the Cambridge study via a Twitter thread by Arnaud Bertrand (who is a great follow if you happen to use that demonic app). Bertrand highlights data in the study showing that US-aligned nations’ opinion of China began plummeting not after the Covid outbreak in late 2019, but after 2017 when the US began ramping up its propaganda campaign against Beijing.

Apart from the fact that the USA’s immensely sophisticated propaganda machine naturally focuses primarily on where the world’s wealth and military firepower rests while pushing its global agendas, and apart from the fact that those in Belt and Road Initiative countries apparently believe they benefit from their economic relationships with China, the disparity between the “developed” and “developing” worlds in their perceptions of the US and its enemies may also be partly explained by another thought-provoking Arnaud Bertrand thread, which I will quote in its entirety here:

A puzzling observation in today’s world is that almost no Western leader has laid out a positive vision for the future. 

Take Biden for instance. His big vision is “democracies vs autocracies”. Meaning his vision for the future of the world is conflict. How positive is that?

Contrast this with China: between “national rejuvenation” and “common prosperity” at home and the “global security initiative” as their vision for improved international relations; everyone is very clear on the journey they’re embarked on.

This is a key, if not the key reason why the “West” has no chance in hell to convince the “rest” to join them. 

There’s simply nothing to join! Except conflict, I guess, but you join a conflict to fight for a vision – for a better world – the conflict itself cannot be the vision!

This reminds me of what George Kennan, the architect of the cold war, wrote: to win he said that America had to “create among the peoples of the world generally the impression of a country which knows what it wants, which is coping successfully with the problems of its internal life and with the responsibilities of a World Power, and which has a spiritual vitality capable of holding its own among the major ideological currents of the time” 

Does America give this impression today?

Even in my own country, France. Ask any French person what Macron’s vision for the future of France and the world is, what the grand plan is, and you’ll get very puzzled looks. “Reform the pension system so we have to work longer?”

The truth is there’s nothing, nada, rien! 

What we have essentially in the West are political operators. They think their jobs are to get reelected and to attempt to move whatever metrics the electorate cares about: GDP, unemployment, debt levels, CO2 emissions, etc. Actual leaders have gone extinct (or gone East).

It’s actually quite sad, really speaks to the levels of intellectual decrepitude in the West today. The time of the Enlightenment, the big revolutions is well and truly gone. We’re stuck with our mediocre operators.

It’s also why this is such a dangerous time. A positive vision brings confidence, it brings hope, it motivates, it makes people look forward to what’s to come. The West has none of that today. 

The future is scary, the dominant feelings are fear and anger.

And when there’s a lot of fear and anger, these feelings need to be directed somewhere. And our operators certainly don’t want it to be them! So it’s China, Iran, all those “foreigners” who “hate our freedom”. 

Perfect recipe for a very bad conflict… 

Please, don’t get fooled!

Bertrand’s musings echo a recent quote by Professor Jeffrey Sachs at the Athens Democracy Forum: “The single biggest mistake of president Biden was to say ‘the greatest struggle of the world is between democracies and autocracies’. The real struggle of the world is to live together and overcome our common crises of environment and inequality.”

Indeed, we could be striving toward a positive vision for the future, one which seeks “common prosperity” and “improved international relations,” one which works to remedy inequality and address the looming environmental crisis. Instead the world is being bifurcated, split in two, which history tells us is probably an indication that something extremely terrible is on the horizon for our species unless we drastically change course.

It’s worth keeping all this in mind, as nuclear-capable bombers are deployed to Australia; as NATO weighs moving nuclear weapons to Russia’s border in Finland; as the Biden administration goes all in on economic warfare with China regardless of the consequences; as Russia accuses the US of “lowering the nuclear threshold” by modernizing the arsenal in Europe into “battlefield weapons”; as the Council on Foreign Relations president openly admits that the US is now working to halt China’s rise on the world stage; as China declares its willingness to deepen ties with Russia on all levels.

We could have such a wonderful, healthy, collaborative world, and it’s being flushed down the toilet because an empire is using its leverage over the wealthiest populations on our planet to work toward dominating all the other populations. This stupid, insane quest to shore up unipolar planetary domination is costing us everything while gaining us nothing, and it’s going to be the poorest and weakest among us who suffer the most as a result.


* * *

Ukiah Farm Crew

* * *

THE ESSENCE OF BEING HUMAN is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. 

— George Orwell

* * *

* * *


With an electricity grid heavily damaged by Russian missiles, emergency workers in Kyiv are considering a total blackout that would require the evacuation of three million residents.

Ukrainian regions make contingency plans in case they fully lose electricity.

A judge who sentenced volunteer fighters to death in occupied Ukraine is shot in an apparent assassination attempt.

The Wagner mercenary group opens a center in St. Petersburg, signaling broader mainstream acceptance.

Ukraine says Russia is blowing up civilian ships in Kherson to stop the Ukrainian military from using them.

Amid a forest of Ukrainian flags, soldiers honor a fallen comrade with vodka.

Iran’s foreign minister acknowledges that drones were sent to Russia, but says it happened before the war.

Moscow is pouring new conscripts to the front line to try to halt Ukrainian advances.


* * *

'Tis a Folly to be Wise (1929) by Don Blanding


  1. Marmon November 6, 2022

    And just like that, the Paul Pelosi homeless illegal alien BLM gay pride right wing attacker story disappeared as if it was never a big deal.


    • Bruce McEwen November 6, 2022

      Your homophobic slip is showing. You and Kuntsler were the only ones salivating salaciously for the details of a homoerotic assignation, you sick puppy.

    • George Dorner November 6, 2022

      Actually, the AVA ran a well researched article on the subject by Ms Casidy, and there seem to have been no further developments. Which means you will rant about the subject for the next six months.

  2. Cotdbigun November 6, 2022

    We all saw the picture with the BLM and gay pride flags in the dudes yard, but to mention what we saw gets your panties wadded up Bruce ? Why the hissy fit ? He didn’t mention the hippie sticker. I think the point that you missed is that most violent alt-right extremist mega maga evildoers don’t have that kind of signage in their yard. Just something to ponder and not necessarily cause for an outburst, try to calm down a tad brother. Considering your background, I’m sure you know of something calming or just Tai-chi or Yoga. Peace

    • Bruce McEwen November 6, 2022

      DePape didn’t have a yard in Berkeley, he was living in someone else’s garage in Richmond, Master Baiter.

      • Bruce McEwen November 6, 2022

        You and your fellow Trumpophiliacs get your info from the rumor bloggers about DePape’s political orientation. But the judge had to ask about his financial situation and place of residence before appointing the public defender to represent him. And incidentally, I have never taken or espoused the view that DePape was one of your tribe; the howls of outrage are all coming from you, Kunstler and Marmon in your desperation to defend your own psychotic adoration of Don Trump.

  3. George Hollister November 6, 2022

    DePage is at least a single bubble off plumb. I am sure in Berkeley social circles he would be described as eccentric. A guy that creates his own reality, and “history starts all over again everyday”.

    • Bruce McEwen November 6, 2022

      Thousands just like him go through the Mendocino County courts every year.

    • Bruce McEwen November 6, 2022

      Are you gonna fish or cut bait? Try throwing a hula-popper at that bigmouth over there, George, you might get a bite!

  4. Chuck Dunbar November 6, 2022


    I took note this week of the letter by the Willits area area resident who had been helped, following a car accident, so kindly by the deputy sheriff who arrived at the scene. She reported he had helped her keep calm through the shock and aftermath of this event and had arranged for her dog to be taken care of. Of all the AVA news that day, this letter of thanks stuck in my memory.

    And now my wife and I have our own thanks for two coastal deputy sheriffs. Last night we attended the Caspar Hit’n Run event, fine comedy and many laughs. But as we came out to my wife’s car, parked on the street by the Jewish Community Center after the performance , we noticed a piece of concrete and a car jack on top of the car’s roof, an odd thing for sure. We then noticed that the windshield had been smashed, and the hood was scratched and damaged. Across the street was a man acting strangely and who seemed a likely suspect, but he disappeared inside the building after cursing at me.

    Soon two deputies arrived, took my information and went inside the building to talk to the man. They emerged in a few minutes, with the man in cuffs, under arrest. He was saying, as they placed in him in their vehicle, “Why are you arresting me, I didn’t do anything?” The deputies reported he had confessed to damaging the car and was going to jail. Both deputies (one I knew from his former service as a Ft.Bragg PD officer for 20 years), were efficient, kind and thorough. Their work at the scene was done so well and so professionally. It was something to admire, the kind of intervention that marks every day in their lives, the normal routines of keeping the peace that not many of us could do.

    So, our thanks and gratitude to these brave deputies. We are fortunate to have them in service to our communities.

    • Marmon November 6, 2022

      Make sure that you vote for the law and order party (Republicans) on Tuesday.


      • Harvey Reading November 6, 2022

        I already voted, about two months ago. Most of the little ovals on my ballot were left blank when I finished. “Neither” party is worth a dime, fasciocrat or fasciuglican. Either would be tickled to drive us to our doom. Neither is suited for leadership, especially trash like Trump or Biden.

      • George Dorner November 6, 2022

        Indeed, the party of insurrection must be really interested in “law and order”.

  5. George Dorner November 6, 2022

    Neither counties nor sheriffs are mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The Posse Comitatus Act is not part of the Constitution. So what basis is there for the Constitutional Sheriffs movement?

    It is rumored that our own Sheriff Matt Kendall is a member. Whether or not this is true, I hope he can explain this phenomenon in the pages of the estimable AVA.

  6. Bruce McEwen November 6, 2022

    In Edinburg last night the Guy Fawkes revelers go out of hand and hurled Molotov cocktails at the firemen who responded to over a thousand fires. Global warming appears to be heating up even in winter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *