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COOL, CLEAR WEATHER will continue today with light rain expected along the coast by late Monday. Gradually warming weather is expected through the week. (NWS)
MIKE GENIELLA: In Mendocino County, the McFadden name is known for organic wine grapes, Blue Quail wines, herb products, and holiday bay wreaths, products from a Potter Valley agricultural showplace. Owner and entrepreneur Guinness McFadden is widely known in those circles. His eldest son, Guinness McFadden II, grew up on the farm but today he is making his own mark in the bluegrass country of Kentucky, where he and other family members own Blackwood Stables in Versailles, home of a Kentucky Derby winner. Young Guinness also is producing another winner: a fine barrel-strength toasted Kentucky bourbon. Happy holidays.
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Fancy came to the shelter over the summer… very pregnant! She had 6 puppies who are all in their new homes. Fancy has woofed goodbye to motherhood, and now it’s her turn!! For the past several months Fancy has been in a wonderful foster home, where’s she been a happy, playful girl. Fancy needs some leash work, as she pulls when she gets excited. Indoors, Fancy is calm and likes to cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and an available lap, watch a good movie and hog the popcorn. She likes other dogs once she knows them, but she will chase cats — so no felines in Fancy’s new home. Fancy is housetrained and looking for a family to call her very own. Fancy was more than likely used as a breeder dog, and now she deserves to loll around with guardians she loves, who love her right back. Fancy is 2 years old and 43 pounds.
For more about Fancy, head to mendoanimalshelter.com
If you can’t adopt, consider fostering. Our website has information about our Foster Program, on-going Dog And Cat Adoption Events, and other programs, services and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453. We wish our community Happy Holidays!
ALAN THOMAS (Boonville): Super proud dad today as son Sam graduated from Fire Academy. A truly beautiful and moving ceremony.
CHRISTMAS EVE CHURCH SERVICE
Christian Church Service and all are invited.
Time: 6 PM Date: Christmas Eve, 12-24-2022
Place: The Boonville Methodist Church, 13850 Highway 128, Boonville.
Boonville Methodist Church and Country Bible Church are hosting this for the entire Valley. Come join us for a time of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. There will be hymns, prayer, fellowship, refreshments, and reading of the Bible (the nativity account).
No admission and no offering will be taken. For information call Pastor Dave Kooyers at (707) 895-2325 or the Boonville Methodist Church.
SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE, 4TH DISTRICT: “The Board is currently a little split on whether or not Visit Mendocino should seek an increase in the Business Improvement District tax. In particular, the expansion of the tax to restaurants and tasting rooms is troubling.
At the meeting, Supervisor John Haschak and I both cautioned the expansion of the tax, especially to restaurants, would not be welcomed. If given no alternative, city councils could decide it is time to end the Visit Mendocino tax in their cities, especially if the restaurant tax is pursued by Visit Mendocino.
Lodging operators generally support taxing their guests in order to fund tourism advertising. If the lodging operators think Visit Mendocino is providing a good value, that's fine with me. Taxing their guests is their decision. However, I no longer feel the County budget can place tourism advertising as a top priority for scarce County general fund dollars. In order to balance next year's budget, I believe the board will need to end the County's more than $600,000 annual subsidy of Visit Mendocino. Visit Mendocino can continue their work without sparsely-dispersed County tax dollars and without a tax at local restaurants. Tourism advertising can be funded by visiting lodging guests.”
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE: Events Calendar
THE ELDER MAGNOLIAS OF UKIAH’S COURTHOUSE—A Living Link to the Town’s Beginnings
In the heart of Ukiah’s downtown stands the Mendocino County Superior Courthouse at the intersection of State Street and West Perkins Street. The courthouse’s broad concrete entrance faces east towards the Mayacama Mountains. A passerby could easily miss the entrance due to two large trees, tall and broad, that dominate the face of the building. The limbs reach wide and the leaves are dense creating a grove of shade at the threshold of the local criminal justice system.
Yesterday, Saturday, December 17, the County of Mendocino dispatched a tree-trimming crew with the expressed purpose to address structural weakness in one of those trees. Crews worked today to decrease the crown’s weight after a crack was found in its trunk along with veins of deadwood. A press release from the County of Mendocino announcing these efforts elicited passionate community feedback on social media imploring officials to do whatever could be done to save the tree.…
MENDO’S POT CROP, ON LINE COMMENTS
1) So the supposed #1 crop in the county and all the money dumped into it to “manage” isn’t even on the [Mendo ag] report. How?
(2) Because more than half of it was unreported income and therefore not reported to anybody but the growers buried barrels and safe deposit boxes. Timber owners who log pay yield taxes on the volume harvested reported quarterly. And that is why nobody should have any sympathy for whining growers complaining about permitting fees. They all know deep down inside that they are finally having to pony up taxes never paid for decades through permit fees today. The government is stupid but they are also vindictive so for all the growers still not reporting income, why do you think they hired 87k more IRS agents? Duh. Good luck with that, justice served, everybody will pay their fair share, one way or another.
KZYX AWARDED NEH MATCHING GRANT FOR BUILDING FUND!
This week KZYX received calls from the offices of Congressman Jared Huffman and Senator Diane Feinstein, offering congratulations for our grant award of $148,312 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant, to be matched by donors, is a significant contribution to the renovation project at 390 West Clay Street in Ukiah. It will help us to transform the larger building into modern, efficient studios to serve KZYX and Mendocino County into the future. Thanks to grant consultant Phoenix Trent and building Project Director Alexis Vincent for their assistance in putting the grant together.
We hope you will consider contributing to the match, which will result in a total of nearly $300,000, bringing us that much closer to completing a once-in-a-lifetime project for Mendocino County Public Broadcasting.
EYES ONLY, ANDERSON VALLEY:
(1) A mountain lion was spotted by a teacher Friday afternoon about 4:30 at the west end of the elementary school site, near the solar panels.
(2) Beautiful night time Christmas lights throughout downtown Boonville, and a real spectacular at the Deepend produced by Dave Evans of the Navarro Store.
(3) Our indefatigable school boss, Louise Simson, reports: “I am working with the Anderson Valley Housing Association to see what we can do for teacher housing. We have our next meeting 12/19. We have zoning on the high school already for a few units. This would allow me to attract some hot shot talent to the valley.”
A SPECIAL MERRY CHRISTMAS TO CAROLYN SHORT, Formerly Of Boonville
I FIND IT IMPOSSIBLE to sympathize with people who lost lots of money to that kid crypto hustler. The Democrats say they're going to return the millions in counterfeit dough funneled to them by Sam Bankman-Fried, son of Stanford faculty parents, raised royally but not adjusting well to his Bahamian jail cell. Ditto my lack of empathy for the people bilked by Bernie Madoff who never wondered how they managed to get the same 15 percent returns on their investments with Madoff. Bankman-Fried was widely touted as “the next George Soros,” a favorite target of the ignoratti who claim the old guy is plotting to take over the world's cheeseburgers.
ATTENTION WANDA TINASKY FANS. Wanda may or may not have been Thomas Pynchon, but if she wasn't, she sure went to a lot of trouble to insinuate herself as Pynchon, right down to her typewriter. Steve Howland notes that the Huntington Library will house the reclusive novelist's papers. Long-time ava readers will recall that we had been convinced that Wanda's wonderful letters-to-the-editor were the work of Pynchon when he was in and out of the Northcoast writing ‘Vineland,’ which was set on the Northcoast. We thought he was dashing off the Wanda letters as a kind of warm-up exercise before he got down to the task of serious lit. The late John Ross told me Pynchon had been renting a place in Trinidad, Humboldt County, in the late 1980s, but I never could find confirmation.
“The Huntington Library has acquired the archives of Pynchon a collection of typescripts and drafts of each of his novels, handwritten notes, correspondence with publishers and research which were prepared by his son, Jackson Pynchon, the museum announced on Wednesday. In all, 48 boxes packed with Pynchon’s writings will be archived and available to scholars at the library in San Marino by the end of 2023.”
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES has released 13,173 more unredacted documents related to the Kennedy assassination. Thousands more documents are still being withheld from public view.
A READER commented that he didn't give a hoot who killed Kennedy, but for the millions of us peeps shocked by the event and remain skeptical of the official version of who done it, the ongoing and highly suspicious drip-drip release of investigative papers held in secret since 1963 is big news.
OUT OF PURE DESPERATION, I'd taken a job as a long-term substitute teacher at San Luis Obispo Junior High School as a hurry-up replacement for the regular teacher who'd wigged out one day, locking the door to her classroom from the inside, removing all her clothes and dancing nude on top of her desk as she swigged from a bottle of whiskey until the fire department beat down the door to rescue her.
THE HARRIED school boss who'd hired me had memorably advised, “I don't care what you do in there, just keep them from roaming the halls.” “Them.” I've always laughed remembering that revelatory assessment of our nation's future.
I HAD NO IDEA, and less interest in teaching, let alone six periods a day shut up in a room with out-of-control 9th graders, who had driven my predecessor crazy. I simply entertained the unruly little bastards as best I could, which turned out to be more than good enough for the boss man who wanted me to stay on. So there I was that day in November of '63 swapping witticisms with 14-year-olds when boss man came over the intercom to say that the president had been shot and school was suspended as of right now.
AS A KENNEDY LIBERAL in those naive days, I was next to distraught, and hurried back to my tenement room to watch events on television, which I was doing the next day when Kennedy's alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was shot by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. “No way,” I thought. Something is seriously wrong here. And veered terminally wrong beginning in '67.
CALLAHAN: There's an old saying that goes, essentially: If you ran into a jackass in the morning, you ran into a jackass. But if you run into jackasses all day - well, you're the jackass. No better summation exists for Harry & Meghan's epic Netflix rant, the second and final part — excuse me, “Volume II” — having dropped Thursday morning. For all the literal and metaphorical soft-focus treatment, the oh-so-casual selling of their new lifestyle, the kind of freedom that can only be found traipsing barefoot through Big Sur beaches or picking fruit from a lush private garden or owning a private stable flush with horses, there is no mistaking the truth: Harry and Meghan are two very angry people, the common denominator of their many woes. Not for nothing, but there's been no shortage of horrible stories about Harry and Meghan: The alleged “what Meghan wants, Meghan gets” tiara tantrum; the report that Meghan made a postpartum Kate cry; that both William and the Queen reportedly had words with the gruesome twosome over the way they talked to staff; and the high churn rate of those said to be fleeing H&M's employ, sometimes in tears. To anyone wondering if Harry and Meghan ever considered that maybe, just maybe, they are the problem, the answer is a resounding “no.”
ON ANOTHER of these eerily warm summer afternoons we've enjoyed this month, I looked out my office window to see a portly figure taking photographs of my yard, a bare expanse normally not of interest to even amateur aesthetes. I thought at first maybe a street person had wandered in but then, looking closer, accompanying the mystery shutterbug was a very attractive blonde woman. Caramba! It was Mendocino County's lead law enforcement officer, the District Attorney himself! I was still wondering how he'd managed to lure the blonde to accompany him when I remembered…
WHEN I REMEMBERED that back in September I'd written, “Mike Geniella does an excellent job deconstructing Kevin Murray's miraculous escape from the consequences of his felonious rampage as a Ukiah cop. The logistics of Murray's escape were clumsily orchestrated by the DA, who lied about the availability of witnesses, and Judge Moorman, who lied about the genesis of her contradictory decision to, in her words, not let Murray think he was getting ‘a slap on the wrist’ as she slapped him on the wrist for crimes that would get anybody else serious prison time.”
EYSTER had replied: “This is from the victim’s attorney not his client. We [Bailey — DA's investigator Kevin Bailey] — called the attorney who said she’d call with her contact info and the victim/witness never called. When Bailey called the “witness” she told him to “Stop calling me.” And refused to give her location. AVA was suckered. Hate it when you’re suckered and especially suckered by Geniella who has his own agenda.”
THE DA was now in person sitting in the murk of what passes for our office, his lovely consort demurely looking on, announcing that I had called him a liar. I instantly tried to lay off “liar” on my colleague, The Major. “I wouldn't have put it that starkly, Mr. DA.” But The Major promptly denied writing it.
I'VE NEVER hesitated to take responsibility for my more inflammatory prose, but I honestly couldn't recall calling the DA a “liar.” Turns out I had, but in verb form, not that grammatical quibbling would get me off the hook. Eyster, I should say, was the perfect gentleman, but telling me in person I'd libeled him. Until the Murray matter, and even more recently the Waidilich matter, we've been on civil terms, and I think he's been a good DA, especially in that he makes reasonable charging decisions, unlike many Maga-oriented prosecutors in this state.
SO I'LL APOLOGIZE for “Liar,” but with this caveat: The woman witness, an alleged prostitute based in Sacramento, had said she was willing and even eager to testify against Murray early in the process but finally told investigator Bailey that it had dragged on so long she was no longer available, a fact confirmed by her attorney.
THE WAIDILICH CASE? He's accused of sexually assaulting an ex-girlfriend, an assault allegedly occurring while the defrocked Ukiah Police chief was in uniform. (Jeez. The guy's so overcome by sudden lust he rushes over to Jezebel's house and attacks her? Kinda reminiscent of that famous episode in Contra Costa County of two prosecutors, an older man and a much younger woman, whose lunch hour tryst involved ice cubes and ice picks! Kraft-Ebbing, white courtesy telephone, please.) Anyway, the Noble Waidilich case is a he-said, she-said matter, and why in hell it's taking months to resolve with a lot of back and forth with the State Attorney's Office is ridiculous, and particularly unfair to the former Chief who has lost his job over it. Why doesn't the DA just drop it for lack of credible evidence?
RE GENIELLA'S “AGENDA,” there isn't one. His reporting on the two police cases has been scrupulously accurate and fair.
LA GRANGE MINING OPERATION, Trinity River, Weaverville, 1910
SHERIFF’S HOLIDAY MESSAGE
As 2022 comes to a close and we begin to gather with family and friends, I hope everyone can appreciate the great things which have occurred in Mendocino County this year. During this season we receive cards and letters from a public who clearly supports us.
Many of the people serving at the Sheriff’s Office work nights, weekends, and holidays. Receiving this support reminds them of why they forsake this time with their families to carry out their duties. This is very humbling, and I wanted to say thank you for this. Our deputies, dispatchers, and professional staff have expressed to me the overwhelming appreciation they have for these kind gestures.
Normally in December I begin looking over statistics, personnel, budgets and start putting together a “where we are now” overview. My Undersheriff and I begin preparations for next year by planning new strategies to meet the needs of the communities within the county. We have completed some work that I think the entire county can be proud of, while we still have some hills to continue climbing.
I wanted to focus on a few samples of the data from recent years. In 2020 we had 11 murders, in 2021 we had 8, in 2022 we had 3 murders. We have made arrests for all of the murders committed in 2022 and the suspects are currently facing prosecution. Having 3 murders is still 3 too many, however it is much closer to zero than we were in years past.
The reduction in homicides allows us to continue working on cases which have yet to be solved. We still have many cold cases and missing persons cases which we believe to be homicides and we must continue working those. If we had no new crimes come into the Detectives bureau, we would still have many years of work to complete.
The dual response unit in which a well-trained mental health worker is partnered with a deputy sheriff is clearly paying off. In 2020 we took 95 investigations in which we were called to a subject in crisis due to a mental health issue. We began the dual response model in 2021 and that number dropped to 64 cases, and in 2022 we have taken 39 cases. This is a reduction of over 50%. This is directly related to the excellent dual-response partnership that serves our communities. We owe a big thank you to the Mental Health Technicians who have partnered with us as these are some truly caring and incredible people.
The reason we should rejoice in this is twofold. First the trained mental health technicians are clearly providing resources and meeting folks half way in order to prevent persons from digressing into crisis. They are building relationships with those in need and therefore are providing services based on a true understanding of the needs.
The second reason is we are not sending peace officers whose job is to investigate crimes into situations they are not trained to do. Sending people to complete a job they aren’t trained to complete isn’t fair to the public or the officer who is handed this task. This also allows deputies more time on the streets and in their beats to prevent crime.
Our coroner’s investigations took a steep rise over the past few years. In 2020 we had 472 coroner’s investigations which was an increase of 136 cases from 2019. In 2021 we had 475 coroner’s investigation and in 2022 we have had 395. Many of these cases were due to drug overdose or suicide. That is a tragedy by definition as I consider those types of cases to be truly preventable. We still have a few weeks left in 2022 and therefore I believe that number will continue to climb a little.
Quality of life issues such as homelessness and drug abuse continue to rise. Catalytic converter thefts are coming to Mendocino County. Much of this is due to legislation which removed penalties for these types of issues or re-defined them from felonies to misdemeanor crimes. There seemed to be little to no framework put into place after removing penalties which were previously handed down by the courts. I am uncertain what will occur with this situation until such a time that good framework is constructed.
We are continuing to see a high number of arsons. We had 18 arson investigations last year. That’s over one a month. That is a frightening thing when we have all lost so much due to the recent fires. We have to remain vigilant and continue to keep each other safe. Our preparations served us well this year and we had no loss of life due to wildfire. That being said, we will never be able to forget the incredible losses we have seen in the past, both in human life and in property and homes.
We are still seeing several robberies, mail thefts, package thefts and property crimes. Please pick up your mail daily. Don’t leave packages on your steps or porch and look out for your neighbors and their homes and property as well. If you see something, say something and we will all be a little bit safer.
Our Corrections Deputies continue to do great work serving the public and our inmate population. We have many saves of persons who have overdosed, or attempted suicide. They are continuing to keep a calm and well run facility while progressing in their careers.
Our Search and Rescue team has become an incredible force of well trained and talented people. They received the Blue Ribbon award this year at the fair. They have also been requested by name for some extremely difficult work. Their reputation for incredible work hasn’t gone unnoticed with our surrounding counties and throughout the state.
We have completed several new hires since June of this year. Our numbers are coming up slowly, however they are coming up. I am very happy to say we are doing much better than many counties with our personnel numbers in our Patrol, Corrections, and Dispatch Divisions.
We are working to bring on Sheriff’s Services Technicians to assist with many of the newly legislated duties our deputies are facing. State mandated data reporting is taking several hours of the day away from completing investigations, patrolling neighborhoods, and keeping the public safe. As we move forward in hiring these folks, they will be assisting with many of these duties which will allow more patrols at a time when personnel are limited.
We had a couple of very tough crimes this year. The human race has an incredible ability to do good and to do evil. Man’s capacity for cruelty at times is something I can’t wrap my mind around. Some of the crimes we have seen, I simply can’t take measure of. They test our resolve and faith. They affect all of us and shake our communities. We all have to come back together to heal from these events, knowing full well they will leave a scar. This scar should remind us to continue looking out for each other and to do things better than we did yesterday.
We solved these horrific crimes because of good relationships with our communities including our tribal communities who provided us with much assistance as they always do during times of need. I wanted to thank all of these folks who came to our assistance when we needed them most.
Mendocino County will always be a special place not only because of its beauty, however because of the people who live here and look out for one another. This is where our strength truly comes from.
As always thank you for supporting the men and women at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. These folks are our sons and daughters, neighbors, and protectors, thank you for remembering this.
Sheriff Matt Kendall
CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, December 17, 2022
LORENA CALDERONE-ALDANA, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
CESAR DELCAMPO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DEREK DAVIS, Covelo. Stolen vehicle.
MICHAEL DOMANOWSKI, Ukiah. County parole violation.
VANESSA ELIZABETH, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KENNETH EUGENE, Martinez/Ukiah. Domestic battery, controlled substance.
WADE FOSS, Gualala. Domestic battery, resisting.
JONATHAN HENDERSON, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.
JESUS HERRERA, Willits. Protective order.
PERRIN HOAGLEN, Covelo. Failure to register.
BENJAMIN HOFF, Ukiah. Controlled substance, mandatory supervision violation, county parole violation, failure to appear.
DAVID JOHNSON SR., Ukiah. Parole violation, unspecified offense.
BRITTANY KOHLMANN, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ANGEL MILLARES, Hialeah, Florida/Ukiah. DUI.
JUSTIN SPIKER, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JENNIFER SUMPTER, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for refusing chem test.
ELIZABETH VALLEY, Hopland. Under influence, bringing controlled substance into jail.
DEVIN WILDE, Willits. Suspended license for DUI, failure to appear.
SAVE SMALL SCALE AG
I came into Sonoma County Agriculture about 50 years ago in Alexander Valley and my wife’s family has been in Dry Creek Valley for over 100 years. When I started farming, 20 acres supported a family. Now it takes 40-plus. Many buyers have no interest in farming for profit. That’s why the ag element of the county general plan is so important.
The cottage industry needs to be protected so small farmers can produce enough income to sustain themselves, thus preserving open space and farmland. Sonoma County supervisors should support farmers and keep the land bountiful. Dairy, eggs, veggies, cannabis, grapes and all other crops keep our county beautiful and prosperous. Ag tourism fills hotels, rentals, restaurants and wineries.
I would like the supervisors to task the Economic Development Board to consider helping farmers reinvent themselves and keep their farms alive. We need to curb intrusive rules and regulations and develop a cohesive plan for farming to thrive.
The best way to keep open space is keeping agriculture viable. All ag products should be able to be sold direct to the public. The road map is the ag element of the general plan. Please take this into consideration as we develop this beautiful county together.
Noctilucent clouds — Just before sunrise, Oakland, CA 12.16.22. UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote: "Such clouds are very rare at this latitude (they are seen in the polar regions), and are the Earth's highest and driest clouds, forming in the mesosphere about 50 miles up."
The very suggestion that I am a Luddite offends me more than I can say, he said. I was the first to welcome the addition to cars of radioes and heaters. Unless an ad specifies “R&H,” I move on. Automatic transmissions (ALL automatic transmission). TV. Microwaves are marvelous! I stood atop one of the first-ever microwave towers. I came with the crane that erected it, near the Social Security building in Baltimore. I can’t remember why I was on top, nor the tower boss, but I asked him: After you turn this thing on, what would happen if I stepped in front of it? The tower boss said it would cook me, fast. I said huh. Whaddaya know. I’ve always felt a proprietary connection with the microwave oven. So maybe I miss the miniature electrified cityscape inside the radios of my early days—you have to admit they were magical—but I accepted the transistor quick enough. I could only be separated from my portable radio when I was in the army by my pawnbroker. (That $150 they paid us every month only went so far.) I’d borrow $30 to see me through to payday. When I got out, they gave me the usual C-note or so to get us away from the base and split, so I didn’t need to redeem the Emerson. There was money at home. Haha, I’d get another one; stick the greedy pawnbroker with a used radio, the 30 bucks long gone, haha. Drive my Ghia HOME!
So, no, I am no Luddite, but I’m damned if I can make heads or tails out of an Apple iPad (or I-Pad or crawdad or whatever). They sent it to me because I Served My Country. As well send me a plot in Arlington Cemetery. Just the pad—no instructions. I must say, it is an elaborate thing. The plain CATEGORIES of things it can do bend my mind. I try to escape a list, dazzled and perplexed as a kid in an FAO Schwarz store at Christmas. I swipe left, up, down, right. More lists. There’s no end! I don’t even know how to turn it off. It lies there now, near my bed, on. I say to myself, Mitchell, this thing is a wonder, a miracle of modern invention and design—look at it!—a thing of beauty. It will change your life. Right?
That’s what they said about the IBM electric typewriter. I’m all for advancement, progress, but did you ever use a “Selectric”? You’d have to go to secretary school. They were expensive as hell. I wonder how many met their fate at the business end of a sledgehammer.
Anyway, I’m absolutely not for returning to the twentieth century except maybe for French Fries and weather. The one was a matter of keen purpose and enjoyment, the other a shrug. Now that’s all topsy turvy. Weather gets top billing, and French Fries come with warning labels (nourishment<0, heart disease>safe).
So, no, I am not a goddamn Luddite. I’m just pro-sanity.
The Full Realization of the Inherent Emptiness of All Phenomena
Years ago, following my participation in a month long repentance at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage, California, (which featured reciting Buddhist chants in Chinese along with thirteen thousand bows), I asked Abbot Lau what his goal was. He said: "My goal is to allow the Dao to work through me without interference."
Prior to this, in the summer of 1994 at the Shivananda Ashram in Muni-Ki-Reti, India, the long time secretary of the Divine Life Society, Swami Krishnananda told me that: "It is difficult not to identify with the body and the mind, because the body itself is a reflection of the Divine Absolute." He encouraged everyone to chant: "I'm not the body, I'm not the mind, Immortal Self I am!" The swami left his body using his will power, by going into mahasamadhi, which was videotaped and is available at Shivananda online. Swamiji even sent out invitations to be with him, and foretold the day and time of his "going up".
Left the Building Bridges homeless shelter in Ukiah, California this morning and walked to the Ukiah Co-op, not identified with the body nor the mind. Gave the mind the panchakshara mantram Om Namah Shivaya to do. Following a caprese sandwich with coffee, ambled over to the Ukiah Public Library. Presently am sitting in front of computer #4 tap tap tapping away.
If you haven't read it yet, check out the latest issue of The Economist, which predicts the year 2023. Why don't we just say that it is not "warm and fuzzy". The future on the planet earth is predicted to be one insane hell. My new year's resolution is to "let the Brahmic vrittis take over".
Happy New Year~
Craig Louis Stehr
A READER WRITES: Eleanor Roosevelt to her daughter on her daughter’s wedding day: “Sex, my dear, is something a woman must learn to endure.”
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I can bear witness, I’ve seen it myself as a little kid, 17¢ a gallon during local ‘Gas Wars’, a station on every corner, Esso vs Sunoco vs Shell vs Texaco, my father filling up for $2, real, pure LEADED gasoline that didn’t gum up the works and gave your Ford flathead V8 engine maximum burnout power. What’s more, the attendant came out wearing a peaked cap and overalls sporting the company logo, pumped your gas, checked your oil – “You’re down a quart” — washed your windshield, and measured the air pressure in your tires. An ice cold coke in the machine out front cost you 10¢.
RAIDERS VS PATRIOTS WEEK...
BOB CANNARD GIVES UP THE GHOST AT GREEN STRING FARM
by Jonah Raskin
Bob Cannard hasn’t just been a superlative organic farmer, though he has been that. He has also been an advocate for regenerative agriculture, living close to the land, and banning all chemical herbicides and pesticides, like glyphosate, in California. His flagship farm and farm stand, Green String, which sits on the edge of Petaluma, recently announced it would shutter on Christmas Eve 2022. It’s a big loss for Bay Area shoppers who want quality fruits, vegetables and meats.
But a necessary change and perhaps a big gain for Cannard who is reportedly moving to Tehama County, where land sells for one-tenth of what it sells for in Sonoma County. At Green String, Cannard hasn’t paid himself a salary. He hasn’t been able to afford to do that, but he has had all his food for free. “I love what I do,” he told me. “No matter what kind of work it is, you have to love doing it or there’s no point.”
The son of a farmer, Robert Cannard, Senior, Bob grew up farming and gardening and learned from his dad that one could grow almost anything in Sonoma County including bananas. Ross Cannard carries on the family tradition, and supplies Alice Waters at Chez Panisse with farm fresh produce.
The soil at Green String nourished crops nearly year round, but the property offered very little water and in drought years the machine-made ponds dried up and water had to be imported by truck. Fred Cline at Cline Cellars subsidized Cannard and Green String for decades until financial challenges made that impossible.
Cannard grew organic grapes for Cline and wanted all vineyard owners to do the same. It was an uphill battle to persuade stubborn grape growers to change their ways.
Not long ago, I interviewed Bob on a property owned by Cline where he was cultivating herbs and olives as well as grapes. “We’re as far west as we can go; there are no more fertile soils to conquer,” Bob told me. “We have to grow soils as we grow food for humanity.” He saw fields and crops up close and he saw the big historical picture. He looked back to a time when redwood forests covered much of northern California, and he looked ahead one hundred years when, he predicted, much of northern California would be a desert.
He also remembered the ag practices in his own family in Kenwood when he was a boy. “We used Paraquat, Agent Orange, DDT and Malathion,” he said. “It’s amazing I survived. My brother got leukemia because of Agent Orange 204-5 T. We bathed in it.”
Bob wants weeds to co-exist with crops. “We need weeds in gardens,” he said. “Weeds protect the soil, harvest carbon from the air and grow nutrients.” He added, “Nature needs people and people need nature.” He regarded bugs and insects as a farmer’s friend. “Bugs are essential to plants,” he said. “They are not pests. They eat the old, the sick and the weak. Bugs are indicators of plant health.”
His decision to shutter Green String Farm suggests his awareness of his age, on the cusp of 70, and his health. Still good, but knock wood. “Nutrition is the best defense against illness and disease,” he told me. “I don’t go to doctors. I take responsibility for my own health. I’m in the sun when the sun is shining and I eat mineral-rich plants.” May the road ahead lead you to new, verdant pastures.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THREE WISE GUYS: the owl, the alligator and the turtle.
"Oh, ring, ring the yule log and sound the holy wreath. Open up the missile, too, and trim your crispness treeth." -Walt Kelly
Here's the recording of last night's (2022-12-16) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0519
Thanks to Hank Sims for tech help, as well as for his fine news site: LostCoastOutpost.com
And thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which always provides about an hour of each of my Friday night shows' most locally relevant material, going back decades. And tiny bravely struggling KNYO itself. Find KNYO's hidden donation heart and help the station out with a one-time holiday gift or, if you can, a recurring gift, from your own hidden heart. And/or acquire a concentrated vial of the new heart's-blood-red KNYO hot sauce, for vim and pep and vibrant health. ("It's toasted!")
New stories by Ezekiel Krahlin, Douglas Wayne Coulter, Tommy Wayne Kramer, David Herstle Jones, Paul Modic, Craig Louis Stehr admonishing us all to chant Hare Krishna to defeat the demons, the usual chapter each from books by Kent Wallace (Ong Tay) and Clifford Allan Sanders (No More My Echoing Song), poetry by the late Jim Harrison, the late Jorge Luis Borges (say phlegmily: cHAWR-heh LOO-ees BAWRc-hayss), and others not quite so late nor difficult to pronounce properly; also science, art, jokes, dreams, car repair advice (and an unsolicited plug for the knowledgeable staff of O'Reilly's Auto Parts of Rohnert Park), views from up close and from deep orbit of events of the small and big world, including the discovery, just this year, of the clitoris of the female snake. Apparently, for all the examination and chronicling and dissecting and titrating and milking of venom and all the trapping and releasing and tickling and probing and cross-legged blowing flutes at them and shaking them around in churches in Texas and daring them to bite us, it only just now, at the end of history (so far), occurred to anyone to really look down there. Certainly the snakes were not talking.
Besides all that, 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:
This movie of marionettes from 2004. In Wikipedia: "When a string attached to a moveable limb is severed, it is analogous to amputation; the individual loses the ability to use that body part. Once a string is cut nothing can repair it or bring back to life whatever it was attached to. If the head string is cut, it results in permanent death. Since nothing can reanimate a body part after its string is cut, repairs to injured individuals must be made using healthy, stringed parts. An unfortunate collection of poor people and prisoners is kept as a donor class. When a person of royalty or other social importance loses a body part, one is removed from a prisoner to replace it." Also, when people love each other and pull /down/ on their own strings, it lifts the other person up. And the impenetrable gate of a city is a horizontal bar braced up in the air to stop the strings of people coming in. To let people in, you /lower the bar to the earth/. It used to be you could watch this movie on the web, but I can't find it anymore. Maybe you can find a way to see it. Every library should have a copy. It didn't get enough attention. It's wonderful. All these years later I still cry every time I think about it. They briefly show us the real puppeteers working everything and that makes it even better, like the short part at the end of The Boxtrolls where we see the stop-motion animator at work as two characters discuss whether there might be someone out there somewhere controlling them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strings_(2004_film)
The 1979 blurry and weird Kate Bush Xmas Teevee Special. (complete, 44 min.)
An argument that Bong Joon Ho's Snowpiercer is actually the sequel to Willy Wonka. (The real Gene Wilder one, not the remake.)
The three witches.(including The Legend of the Xmas Witch, full movie, 100 min.) (via MissCellania)
And Evangelina brings in the lute.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
THE OUTSIDER is a man who cannot live in the comfortable, insulated world of the bourgeois, accepting what he sees and touches as reality. 'He sees too deep and too much,' and what he sees is essentially chaos. He is the one man who knows he is sick in a civilization that doesn't know it is sick.
— Colin Wilson (Art: Photograph by Rodney Smith)
THE RULING CLASS PROMOTES Identity Politics And ‘Anti-Wokeism’ For The Exact Same Reasons
by Caitlin Johnstone
It’s an interesting time for culture war red herrings in the shadow of the empire. There are no major electoral races currently underway. Government Covid regulations have been mostly rolled back. The empire is waging an extremely dangerous and continually escalating proxy war with Russia that should be getting a lot of scrutiny. If one didn’t know better one might expect this to be a time when the rank-and-file public would be doing a bit less barking and snarling at one another and a bit more at the people in charge.
But if one is reading this, one probably knows better.
The world is roaring toward multipolarity and the empire is doing everything it can to slam on the brakes, up to and including ramping up for a global confrontation with noncompliant nuclear-armed powers, and meanwhile the public is growing more and more disaffected with stagnant wages and soaring inequality even as concerns grow that we are headed toward environmental collapse.
So of course, at this crucial point in history, they’ve got everyone arguing about “wokeness”.
What “woke” means depends on who you ask. According to the original AAVE definition, it means “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination”. If you ask Ron DeSantis’ lawyers when they were made to define the term in court, it means “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.” Both of which sound entirely reasonable.
If you ask members of the rank-and-file right wing, though, the answers range from the incoherent to the insanely bigoted to the profoundly stupid. You’ll hear gibberish about “Cultural Marxism” (not a real thing), about communist conspiracies to give your child puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery, about a liberal plot to normalize child molestation and erase women as a gender, and about the agenda to deteriorate society and plunge western culture into chaos and disorder because it makes Satan happy. In my experience the arguments are often intensely emotional — hysterical, even— yet entirely lacking in substance.
You’ll also run into the occasional good faith actor who sincerely believes “wokeism” needs to be aggressively opposed because the obsession with racial and sexual justice is sucking all the oxygen out of the room for more important matters and being used as a weapon to ram through pernicious power-serving agendas. It’s this category that I am mainly addressing here, because I view the previous category as generally beyond redemption.
It is entirely true that identity politics are being used to ram through establishment-serving agendas and subvert real dissent. We saw a very in-your-face example of this in 2016 with the extremely aggressive push to elect America’s first woman president, when anyone who pointed out her horrifyingly awful track record on things like war and militarism was shouted down as a misogynist. The entire Democratic Party is essentially one big psyop designed to kill any attempt to redress income and wealth inequality, poverty, wars, militarism, money in politics, surveillance, government secrecy, police militarization and every other control mechanism designed to hold the status quo in place, while herding any revolutionary zeitgeist back toward establishment loyalism with false promises to make life better for women and marginalized groups.
But it is also true that pouring your energy into “anti-wokeism” serves the establishment in the exact same way as pouring your energy into identity politics.
Anti-wokeism — if you will permit me a somewhat counterintuitive turn of phrase— is identity politics dressed in drag. Fixation on fighting “wokeness” corrals people into mainstream establishment-serving frameworks in exactly the same way identity politics corrals people into mainstream establishment-serving frameworks. It makes sure the rank-and-file public stays busy barking and snarling at one another instead of the people in charge.
Does it not seem odd to you that half of the ruling class has been getting half of the population to fixate on identity politics while the other half has been getting half the population increasingly panicked about “wokeness”? Does it not seem a little too convenient how all the mainstream right-wing politicians are making anti-wokeism a major part of their platforms, how all the mainstream right-wing pundits are doing everything they can to make their audiences more panicked about how “woke” everything is getting, and how you’ve got Elon Musk talking about “the woke mind virus” in exactly the same way more liberal-aligned oligarchs champion social justice issues?
This is because both anti-wokeism and identity politics serve the same establishment agendas, entirely by design. The more people are fixated on the mainstream culture war, the less likely they are to decide they want to do things like defund the Pentagon or take back everything the rich have stolen from them. Time you’re spending yelling at the other side of the cultural divide is time you’re not spending eating your landlord as God and nature intended.
And of course by saying these things are used in the same way I do not mean to imply that “anti-wokeism” is equal in value to the struggle for social justice. It absolutely is the case that there are disadvantaged groups in our society who do need to be uplifted from where they’re at, and anyone who tries to stop that from happening is plainly in the wrong. What I’m pointing at here, rather, is the way lip service to racial and sexual justice is used to get people supporting a mainstream political faction that never does anything other than facilitate oligarchy, exploitation and imperialism, in precisely the same way right-wing hysteria about “wokeness” is used to do precisely the same thing.
So what is to be done about the culture war we’re being pushed into fighting with greater and greater force?
Well this is just my opinion, but the answer can perhaps be found in the famous line from the movie WarGames: “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”
That’s been my approach, anyway. I’ve found that getting too wrapped up in pushing or pulling any part of that debate does nothing but feed into it by increasing opposition (which is why this is likely the only article I’ll ever write on the subject), so I’m better off just focusing on attacking the actual power structure that our rulers are trying to divert us from attacking. If they’re pouring all this energy into sucking us into a culture war, the most inconvenient thing we can do to them is to keep our eyes on the prize and keep doing everything we can to hurt the agendas of the empire.
I see too many people getting drawn into this power-serving manipulation; there are indie media personalities who were calling themselves leftists not long ago but are now so fixated on fighting “the woke mind virus” that they’re becoming increasingly indistinguishable from conservative talk radio hosts on more and more subjects. It would be good if everyone whose heart is in the right place made sure their actions are, too.
PROJECT CENSORED: HUNTING THE TWITTER FILES
Journalist Matt Taibbi published a report based on thousands of internal Twitter documents. Taibbi demonstrated that Twitter’s decision to remove the Hunter Biden story was influenced in part by Biden’s campaign. Indeed, as Taibbi described, Twitter’s staff regularly fields phone calls from powerful people in government and acts upon their requests to moderate content. And it’s is not just Twitter. During a 2022 interview with Joe Rogan, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Meta (formerly Facebook) Mark Zuckerberg admitted that his company’s decision to moderate content — including the 2020 Hunter story — is sometimes based on recommendations from the intelligence community. Similarly, The Intercept reported in 2022 that the Department of Homeland Security regularly informs Big Tech’s content moderation practices… In any other country, the revelation that government and Big Tech collude to shape public discourse and democratic participation would make Americans irate, but the story has received little coverage.
Although they still try, the legacy media has found it impossible to frame the Twitter Files as a hyper-partisan story because the political duopoly, not one party, utilizes Big Tech to manufacture the consent of the people.
A truly independent press would privilege narratives that expose Silicon Valley propaganda, which has led users of all political ideologies to a delusional state of Stockholm Syndrome, where Big Tech exploits their labor, erodes their privacy, and manufactures their consent for the duopoly.
As whistleblower after whistleblower remind us: Big Tech’s oligarchs are rapacious capitalists who time and time again put profits over people. No entity should be moderating information in a democracy, and as the Twitter Files reveal, the unaccountable profiteers in Big Tech are no exception.
UKRAINE, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18TH
Rescuers have recovered the body of a one-and-a-half-year-old boy from the rubble of Friday’s Russian strike on a three-storey residential building in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih in Dnipro region, the region’s governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, said. In total, four people were killed in the attack on Kryvyi Rih, Reznichenko said. 13 others were injured by the attack, including four children.
Electricity has been restored in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and the region, its governor said, a day after fresh Russian attacks pitched multiple cities into darkness, cutting water and heat and forcing people to endure freezing cold. The mayor of Kyiv said the city’s metro system was back in service and that all residents had been reconnected to water supply a day after the latest wave of Russian airstrikes on critical infrastructure.
Russia’s defence ministry said its “high-precision” weapons hit parts of Ukraine’s military-industrial complex and energy and military administrative facilities on Friday. Ukrainian facilities producing weapons, military equipment and ammunition had been disabled, it added. Ukraine’s western allies have said the suffering inflicted by Russian airstrikes on freezing civilians constitutes war crimes, with the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, calling the bombings “barbaric”.
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Russia still had enough missiles for several more massive strikes and he again urged western allies to supply Kyiv with more and better air defence systems. “Whatever the rocket worshippers from Moscow are counting on, it still won’t change the balance of power in this war,” he said in Friday’s evening address.
Air raid sirens were reported across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, on Saturday. “Please go to the shelters!” Kyiv city’s military administration said on Telegram. Explosions were heard in the southern city of Odesa on Saturday morning, Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional military administration, said.
A 36-year-old man was killed inside his car after Russian forces shelled the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Saturday morning, the regional governor, Yaroslav Yanushevych, said. A 70-year-old woman was also injured after Russian troops struck a western district of the city with artillery and multiple rocket launchers, Yanushevych wrote on Telegram.
A Ukrainian military commander has said Russia may try to invade from the north, potentially around the anniversary of when Vladimir Putin first ordered his troops to invade Ukraine. In an interview with Sky News,Maj Gen Andrii Kovalchuk warned the fiercest fighting may yet come and appeared particularly focused on the possibility of Russian troops invading via Belarus on Ukraine’s northern border, in order to target the capital.
Russia’s campaign of strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure has largely consisted of air- and maritime-launched cruise missiles, but has almost certainly also included Iranian-provided drones, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence. In its latest intelligence update, the ministry also said Russia was likely concerns about the “vulnerability” of Crimea.
The Kremlin said Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, held meetings with armed forces commanders on Friday to discuss its military campaign in Ukraine during a visit to the operation’s headquarters. The Russian leader met his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, and chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov, and held “separate discussions with commanders” from different defence branches, it said.
The Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said it is “unrealistic” to expect Kyiv to come to an agreement with Russia to end the war. “War must end only with its defeat,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter, and said Ukraine would act with “required proportions of artillery, armored vehicles, drones and long-range missiles”.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said the latest round of EU sanctions against Moscow will just lead to an “exacerbation” of problems within the bloc. EU leaders agreed on Thursday to provide €18bn to Ukraine as well as the ninth package of sanctions aimed at ramping up pressure on Russia for its war in Ukraine. The latest measures blacklist nearly 200 more people and bar investment in Russia’s mining industry, among other steps.
A popular pedestrian bridge in central Kyiv has reopened today after it was damaged by Russian airstrikes on the Ukrainian capital in October, the Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, announced. The bridge, known in the city as the “glass bridge” or “Klitschko’s bridge”, connects the two central Kyiv parks of Volodymyrska Hirka and Mariinsky Park.
HOW DALLAS HOMEMAKER MARY FERRELL BECAME MAIN COLLECTOR OF JFK ASSASSINATION RECORDS
by Isabel Vincent
Mary Ferrell’s life changed forever on the day that John F. Kennedy died.
The 41-year-old mother of four, who was working as a secretary for a Dallas law firm, was standing a few blocks from Dealey Plaza where the 35th president was shot dead on November 22, 1963.
Listening to the radio moments after the assassination, Ferrell heard a description of the suspect, who was first characterized as a white male in his 30s and more than six feet tall, wearing a white shirt and khakis. A short time later, she was surprised when a 24-year-old wearing a brown shirt and brown trousers was arrested.
Lee Harvey Oswald, a US Marine veteran who had visited the Soviet Union, was apprehended less than two hours after the shooting.
“I remember my mother saying, ‘Something’s off here,’” Carolanne Burtchaell, Ferrell’s daughter, told The Post Wednesday from her home in Austin, Texas. “She instantly noticed discrepancies in the reporting. She never believed the stories, and her interest sort of snowballed from there.”
Ferrell, who died in 2004, devoted the rest of her life to assembling an archive of thousands of documents, newspaper clippings and books related to the assassination. Visits to Ferrell’s modest Dallas home became de rigueur for investigators and amateur sleuths who shared her view that “something was off” with the death of the young president.
For her daughter and other students of Kennedy, the National Archives’ release of nearly 13,000 documents related to the assassination on Thursday is testament to the dogged persistence of Ferrell, who befriended some of those close to the tragedy.
Marina Oswald, the Russian-born widow of the assassin, was a regular visitor to the Ferrell home after the assassination, said Burtchaell. George Mohrenschildt, a geologist and CIA informant who had befriended Lee Harvey Oswald and gave the lengthiest witness statement to the Warren Commission, was another guest, she said.
Ferrell became so influential in the community of JFK historians that two years before her death in 2004, a Boston-based financier started a non-profit to digitize her trove of documents.
Now based in Ipswich, Mass., the Mary Ferrell Foundation Inc has sued the federal government to obtain classified documents related to Kennedy’s death. In October, it obtained documents to a still-classified CIA operation that suggested the spy agency used Oswald for intelligence purposes three months before Kennedy’s death, according to a report.
“This is an extraordinarily serious claim, and it has profound implications for the official story,” author and JFK assassination expert Jefferson Morley told reporters in Washington earlier this month. “The CIA knew far more about the lone gunman than they are admitting even today. So this story deserves the closest possible scrutiny.” Morley is a board member of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, according to the nonprofit’s tax filings.
“I knew about Mary because she was thanked in the acknowledgments of all the books I read about the assassination,” said Oliver Curme, who started the foundation in 2002. “When I met her she was living in a one-story shot-gun house packed to the ceiling with books and papers at a time when an arsonist had been lighting fires in her neighborhood. So it was really important that we do something to protect her documents.”
Curme, who teaches a course on the Kennedy assassination at Brandeis University, told The Post he helped Ferrell’s family pay for an assisted living facility for her in exchange for the archive. When he met Ferrell, she was in her late 70s and in very frail health, he said.
But she was still seeking answers to the assassination, although she was never able to find “the smoking gun” evidence of who Oswald might have working for, or why the US government might have been covering up the assassination, Curme said.
He said that Farrell showed him several versions of one particular document relating to testimony Marina Oswald gave the Warren Commission about the rifle her husband used to shoot Kennedy.
“Mary showed me several copies of a particular document that had been requested by three different researchers that had Marina’s testimony about the rifle,” said Curme. “That same document at the three different times had slightly different wording and this was very problematic if you believed that there was a conspiracy involving powerful people who had access to the National Archives.”
In another instance, researchers were able to track down a transcript of the conversation that Kennedy’s vice president Lyndon Johnson had with J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the CIA, the day after the assassination. The call had been recorded, but when researchers tried to access the audio recording at the LBJ Library in Austin, they found that the 18-minute tape had been erased, Curme said.
For years, some historians believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was working for Russian intelligence, Curme said. Oswald was able to “miraculously” obtain a visa to visit the Soviet Union within 48 hours through the Russian embassy in Helsinki where the CIA allegedly had a deal with the KGB in the early 1960s, he said.
“There was a lot of concern that if any news came out that Oswald could have killed JFK on behalf of the Russians, it could have led to nuclear war,” Curme said.
Burtchaell, who was 21, divorced and raising two infants at the time of the assassination, said that her mother never believed the wild theories about the assassination, but she did suspect the US government was involved in some sort of cover-up and that Oswald did not act alone, her daughter said.
“It was never political for her,” Burtchaell, 81, told The Post. “She was a Republican, and she never believed many of the crazier conspiracies. She didn’t believe Lyndon Johnson ordered the assassination, for instance.”
Born in Nashville in 1922, Ferrell worked as a legal secretary into her late 60s. In the 1970s, she also worked in the administration of Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe in Houston. She had a photographic memory, said Curme, and could recall with uncanny precision the names of everyone connected to the case and even the place on the page of a book where people and events were mentioned. A timeline of everything Oswald did before the assassination was chronicled by Ferrell, he said.
Bill Ferrell, Burtchaell’s younger brother, said that his mother became obsessed and could be overbearing after the assassination.
“I didn’t get along with her very well,” said Bill Ferrell, a retired aircraft mechanic who now lives in Oklahoma. “I found my mother to be grandiose.”
Years after the assassination, Ferrell often traveled with her car salesman husband to conferences about the late president, her daughter said. “She was certainly the dominant character,” Burtchaell said of her mother. “My father wasn’t really an active participant in her research.”
Instead, Ferrell relied on Burtchaell’s younger brother James who lived with her in Dallas and managed a local restaurant. It was James who was dispatched to buy each edition of the daily newspapers after the assassination so that Ferrell could track the differences in the stories they printed about the event, Burtchaell said. On that first day, she began to compile every name ever mentioned. Her collection soon grew to more than 40,000 index cards. James died ten years ago, said Burtchaell.
And in an odd twist of fate, a grandson of CIA informant Mohrenschildt ended up meeting Burtchaell’s daughter at a community college in Dallas and marrying her. “It was such a freak accident, I could barely believe it at first,” she said, adding that Mohrenschildt knew the Bouviers, the former fist lady’s family.
“George knew Marina, he knew the Bouviers and he certainly knew Lee before the assassination,” said Burtchaell. “He spoke many languages, including Russian, and he encountered Marina while teaching English to Russians.”
Burtchaell herself said she was acquainted with Oswald’s mother. Before the assassination, she was a regular customer at the pharmacy where she worked in Dallas.
“My mother met with lots of different people,” said Burtchaell, who went on to work for IBM in Manhattan. “Her reputation was everything from being a complete nut to being brilliant. She just wouldn’t let the assassination go.”
In one of her last public speeches, Ferrell called on the federal government to be more transparent while urging her fellow researchers to continue digging.
“The answers to the questions that remain lie in the strength of our resolve to continue demanding the truth,” she said.
NEW LIBERALISM & ITS DISCONTENTS
by Alexander Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair
All through the 1980s and 1990s, professorial mountebanks like James Q. Wilson and Charles Murray grew plump from best sellers about the criminal, probably innate, propensities of the “underclass,” about the pathology of poverty, the teen predators, the collapse of morals, the irresponsibility of teen moms.
There was indeed a vast criminal class coming to full vicious potential in the 1990s: a group utterly vacant of the most elementary instincts of social propriety, devoid of moral fiber, selfish to an almost unfathomable degree. This class appeared in the form of our corporate elite.
Given a green light in the late 1970s by the deregulatory binge urged by corporate-funded think tanks and launched legislatively by Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy, by the 1990s, America’s corporate leadership had evolved a simple strategy for criminal self-enrichment.
First, lie about your performance in a manner calculated to deceive investors. This was engineered by the production of a “pro forma” balance sheet freighted with accounting chicanery of every stripe and hue, willingly supplied by Arthur Andersen and others. Losses were labeled “capital expenditures”; losing assets were “sold” to co-conspirators in the large banks for the relevant accounting period.
Later, using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, slightly more realistic balance sheets would be presented to the SEC and the IRS.
Flaunting the “pro forma” numbers, corporations would issue more stock, borrow more money from some co-conspiratorial bank, buy back the stock for the chief executives (who would further inflate its value by dint of bogus accountancy), sell the stock to the chumps and then finally bail out with their millions before the roof fell in, leaving pension funds like CalPERS holding the bag. The fortunes amassed by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are vivid illustrations of this technique.
The scale of the looting? Prodigious. This orgy of thievery, without parallel in the history of capitalism, was condoned and abetted year after year by the archbishop of the economy, Alan Greenspan, a man with a finely-honed sense of distinction between the degree of reproof merited by the very rich and those less powerful. When Ron Carey led the Teamsters to victory way back in 1997, Greenspan rushed to denounce the “inflationary” potential of modestly improved wage packets. Even though declared innocent by a jury of his peers, Carey was forbidden ever to run in a union election again. And so it goes now with the drumbeats about raising the minimum wage.
Where were the sermons from Greenspan or his successor Ben Bernanke about the inflationary potential of stock-option fortunes lofted on the hot air of crooked accountancy and other kindred conspiracies?
Let someone die in gang-banger crossfire in South Central and William Bennett will rush to indict an entire generation, an entire race. Where are the sermons from Bennett, Murray and the Sunday Show moralists about CEOs scuttling off with their swag, leaving their employees to founder amid wrecked pensions and destroyed prospects? A street kid in Oakland is in the computer by the time he’s 10. There are no “criminal propensity” profiles for grads of the Wharton or Harvard business schools.
You have to go back to Marx and Balzac to get a truly vivid sense of the rich as criminal elites. These giants bequeathed a tradition of joyful dissection of the morals and ethics of the rich, carried on by Veblen, John Moody, C. Wright Mills, William Domhoff, and others. But by the mid-1960s, disruptive political science was not a paying proposition if you aimed for tenure. A student studying Mills would be working nights at the soda fountain, while the kid flourishing Robert Dahl and writing rubbish about “pluralism” would get a grad fellowship.
Back in the 1950s, people were reading stuff about the moral vacuum in affluent suburbia by writers like Vance Packard and David Riesman. Presumably, inner loneliness soon became inner joy and there was nothing wrong with putting one’s boot on a colleague’s neck and cashing in. Where are the books now about these proving grounds for that great corporate criminal cohort of the 2000s which had come of age in the Reagan years?
In fact, it’s nearly impossible to locate books that examine the class of corporate executives through the lens of cool scientific contempt. Much of the current writing on CEO culture is published in magazines like Fortune, Businessweek or Forbes. And though there are a few authors — like Robert Monks (Power and Accountability) — who focus their attention on executive culture, nowhere will you find empirical studies on the sociobiological roots of the criminal tendencies of the executive class.
Why? The rich bought out the opposition. Back in the mists of antiquity, you had communists, socialists and populists who’d read Marx and who had a pretty fair notion of what the rich were up to. Even Democrats had a grasp of the true situation. Then came the witch-hunts and the buyouts, hand in hand. The result was that a Goldman Sachs trader could come to maturity without ever once hearing an admonitory word about it being wrong to lie, cheat and steal, sell out your co-workers and defraud your customers.
The finest schools in America had educated a criminal elite that stole the store in less than a decade. Was it all the fault of Ayn Rand, of the Chicago School, of Hollywood, of God’s demise?
* * *
Hope walks arm in arm with fear and so naturally, in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, liberal elitists like Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton admonished us, a la Roosevelt, that we have nothing to fear but fear itself and we must all pull together in the spirit of bipartisanship to bail out Wall Street. Wrong. We have many identifiable things to be frightened of, starting with a program designed to bail out the thieves running our financial system and then stick Middle America with a price-tag heftier than you can imagine. Why pull together with the licensed thug who just stole your money and then pledges to do it again to your kids?
When it comes to fingering the perpetrators, it is crucial to recall that the financial crisis is indeed truly bipartisan. What exploded in the late summer of 2008 was an economic credo that has been rolling along since the early 1970s: neoliberalism.
By all rights, this last crisis has brought us to the crossroads where neoliberalism should be buried with a stake through its heart. We’ve had thirty years’ worth of deregulation – the loosening of government supervision. This has been the neoliberal mantra preached by both major parties, the whole of the establishment press and almost every university economics department in the country. It is central to all the current disasters. And if you want to identify symbolic figures in the legislated career of deregulation, there are no more resplendent culprits than Phil Gramm and Robert Rubin.
Take Gramm first.
In 1999 Gramm, then a senator from Texas, was the prime Republican force pushing through the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. It repealed the old Glass-Steagall Act, passed during the Great Depression, which prohibited a commercial bank from being in the investment and insurance business. President Bill Clinton cheerfully signed it into law.
A year later Gramm, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, attached a 262-page amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill, voted on by Congress right before a recess. The amendment received no scrutiny and duly became the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed deregulation of investment banks and exempted most over the counter derivatives, credit derivatives, credit defaults and swaps from regulatory scrutiny. Thus were born the scams that produced the debacle of Enron, which boasted Gramm’s wife Wendy as a member of its board. She had earlier served on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1983 to 1993 and devised many of the rules coded into law by her husband in 2000.
Somewhat stained by the Enron debacle, Gramm quit the senate in 2002 and began to enjoy the fruits of his deregulatory efforts. He became a vice chairman of the giant Swiss bank UBS’ new investment arm in the US, and lobbied Congress, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department about banking and mortgage issues in 2005 and 2006. He urged Congress to roll back strong state rules designed to crimp the predatory tactics of the subprime mortgage industry. UBS took a bath of about $20 billion in write offs from bad real estate loans in 2006.
Long acknowledged as one of the most mean-spirited men ever to reach Congress, Gramm is a prime exhibit on any roster of the architects of the current economic mess. At the behest of the banking industry, he wrote the laws that enabled the huge balloons of funny money debt that exploded in 2008. The deregulatory statutes bearing his name prompted Wall Street’s looting orgy in subprime thievery.
But is he Exhibit A? No. That honor should surely go to Robert Rubin and to the economic course he set for his boss, the eagerly complicit Bill Clinton. Gramm has been the hireling of the banking industry. Rubin is at the beating heart of Wall Street finance, and he and Lawrence Summers were the guiding forces for financial deregulation at Clinton’s Treasury.
The Republicans hoped that the roof wouldn’t fall in on their watch, and that the crisis could be deferred to 2009 and then blamed on the Democrats. But their insurance policy was that if the roof did cave, as indeed it did, the rescue policy would be identical in either case. That’s why Obama collected more money than McCain from the big Wall Street houses.
The gang that successfully got out of Dodge in time was the Clinton-Rubin-Summers gang, just before the last bubble – the stock market bubble — burst in March of 2001. They knew what was coming.
For a full appraisal of the mechanics of the looting, it is useful to pull off the shelf Robert Pollin’s invaluable economic history of the Clinton years, Contours of Descent.
The second major component of Clinton administration policy in this area was supporting the successful repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall framework of financial regulation through the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, otherwise known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Dismantlement of Glass-Steagall, de facto and de jure, had been long in the making. Innovative financial market players were easily circumventing this old regulatory apparatus, with its focus on creating firewalls between segments of the financial services industry, and preventing commercial banks from operating in more than one state. But the point is that an alternative to both Glass-Steagall and complete deregulation could have been devised, through some combination of policies such as taxing speculative financial transactions and establishing lower reserve requirements for loans that finance productive, as against speculative, investments. But the Clinton administration never considered such an approach. Quite the contrary. The 2001 Economic Report of the President, the last one written under Clinton, was unequivocal in dismissing Glass-Steagall and touting the virtues of financial deregulation:
‘Given the massive financial instability of the 1930s, narrowing the range of banks’ activities was arguably important for that day and age. But those rules are not needed today, and the easing of interstate banking rules, along with the passage of the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 have removed them, while maintaining appropriate safeguards. These steps allow consolidation in the financial sector that will result in efficiency gains and provide new services for consumers.’
Moreover, Robert Rubin, a major Clinton administration force behind Glass-Steagall repeal, was also among the first to benefit personally from it, in moving from his Treasury position to co-direct the newly merged investment/commercial banking conglomerate Citigroup. Under any reasonable interpretation of Glass-Steagall, the former commercial bank Citicorp and the former investment banking firm Travelers would not have been permitted to merge.
Amid the embers of the meltdown on Wall Street — one of the most devastating in the nation’s history — as Lehman went broke, as Merrill Lynch was swallowed up by Bank of America and AIG tottered to the Fed, begging bowl in hand — the orchestrators of the collapse insisted that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” The system requires blind obedience.
Over the past quarter century, the US manufacturing economy went offshore. Lately the so-called New Economy of the “Information Age” has been moving offshore too. Free trade has left millions without a decent job or the prospect of ever getting one above the $15 an hour tier.
Below a thin upper crust of the richest people in the history of the planet the rest of America, in varying degrees of desperation, can barely get by. Millions are so close to the edge that an extra 25 cents per gallon of fuel is a household budget-breaker.
Wages have stagnated. Decade after decade the bargaining power of workers has dwindled. We’ve seen the macabre spectacle of American-based workers ordered to train their overseas replacements before being fired.
Bipartisan ruses like the Clinton-inspired exclusion of energy and food costs from the measures of “core inflation” ensure that social security payments don’t keep up with real inflation, which – if you take in the soaring costs of groceries and fuel for heat and transport – is double the official rate. In the same way, real employment – now officially just above 6 per cent – is actually around 12 per cent.
The system is in dire trouble and nowhere is it more balefully manifest than in present and scheduled Pentagon spending, a figure barely mentioned in these days of crisis. Stick it to the imprudent homebuyers, not to the arms manufacturers and their gigantic pigsty, seeping its sewage across the planet.
But then, as the cranky German in the British Museum liked to point out, the capitalist system is always in crisis. Crisis is integral to the system. In too many ways, over the past twenty-five years, brooding on its own crises, the left has forgotten this. In the low contour of radical ideas and of radical political organization since the rise of the Clintons, we now suffer the consequences.
(This is excerpted from An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents. The late Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch. Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink co-written with Joshua Frank. He can be reached at: email@example.com.)