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MILD TEMPERATURE with occasional periods of light rain will occur through Monday morning. A significant rain storm will then impact the region Monday afternoon through Tuesday. Torrential rainfall rates and strong south winds will occur as a result. After Tuesday, additional rounds of wet weather will continue during mid to late next week. (NWS)
SAVE CAMP ONE
Camp One in Jackson State Forest is being logged. Many trees are still standing, and your action may help save them. Many of us local folks on the coast and inland camp along this stretch of the Noyo River have done so for many years. If you love to camp there to enjoy fishing and swimming under fine redwood trees, then you better contact the Jackson Demonstration State Forest and Cal Fire office at (707) 964-5674. This area is part of the Redtail Timber Harvest Plan. The road into Camp One is already closed. You may wish to contact Governor Newson and Wade Crowfoot, the California Secretary of Natural Resources. While you’re at it, tell them to consult with the local tribes before they fall one more tree.
To all who in this festive time of year have gone out of your way to put up holiday decorations, be it so much as a single bow on a light sconce, a wreath on a door or putting your Christmas tree where it can be seen from the street, thank you.
One of the joys my wife and I have, between Thanksgiving and Twelfth Night, is driving around in the evening looking at the decorations people have put up. Some stunningly elegant in a stark white simplicity, some elaborate computer-controlled extravaganzas complete with synchronized music on short-range FM channels.
Well done, everyone. Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah.
NANCY GALBREATH, 93, currently resides at Aegis Assisted Living in Moraga. She would love to hear from her Anderson Valley friends.
MISSING BAY AREA MAN FOUND DECEASED IN HUMBOLDT REDWOODS STATE PARK
The three-day, multi-county search for 24-year-old Berkeley resident Angel Fulgado ended tragically yesterday afternoon when he was found deceased in his vehicle within the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.…
by Mark Scaramella
The Patient complained of fatigue and an irregular pulse with some light-headedness. After evaluation by very friendly local EMTs, he declined an ambulance ride and was driven to the Adventists Hospital in Ukiah and admitted to the emergency room at the maw of the vegetarian cult (as the elderly driver described it) a little before 9pm Wednesday night. A pretty young nurse took some vitals. Things were said to be “normal,” despite the Patient’s suggestion that the nurse feel the Patient’s pulse. The Ukiah Police were on scene in the intake area attempting to deal with some, er, problems, probably two or three drug/5150 cases. Next the Patient was escorted into a hospital room amidst shouts from down the hall: “HELLLLLLLP!” several times a minute. “HELLLLLP MEEEE!” The Patient gathered that the hospital was pretty full with various respiratory case patients, although the Patient didn’t see much of that or any associated hurly-burly. Another, older nurse (who happened to be a former cop from Fresno who moved to Ukiah a few years ago to become a nurse) came in and grumbled, “We’ve got some squirrelly ones out there tonight.” The Hispanic housekeeping lady stopped in to say, in an almost shocked tone, that one of them had “run away from the police!” which she apparently frowned on. She said they were “patients” whom she and the staff were familiar with, then rolled her eyes. Although the Patient was reportedly admitted with an irregular pulse (i.e., irregular heartbeat) he was not immediately hooked up to the heart monitor by the bed, but was instead given an EKG after 8 or 10 wires were pasted to his chest. No doctors had seen the patient; apparently an as yet unseen doctor had ordered the EKG. The EKG tech came back and said it didn’t show what they wanted, so another one was done. It didn’t show much either. The former cop-nurse came in again and took a blood sample, very efficient. A male nurse came in and took another blood sample, not so efficient. A urine sample was taken. An attractive young woman ER doctor finally came in after about 2 hours to say it looked like atrial fibrillation. But the test results were not back yet. She said she’d be back later to discuss it. She ordered another EKG. When she came back she finally decided to hook the Patient up to the heart monitor which immediately showed what the Patient had already felt at 8pm: an irregular pulse/heart rate. Which of course explained the symptoms of fatigue and wooziness. More time passed. Finally the ER doc returned to say she had consulted with a cardiac specialist and it probably wasn’t atrial fibrillation after all, and the medication she had ordered was canceled. She then suggested an alternate medication which is supposed to keep the heart from speeding up too much. Between each staff visit was about half an hour. The Patient had arrived at about 9pm and was released a little before 2 am when the waiting room noise had slackened off even though there were still a couple of dozen people and their famillies waiting for processing. The nice check-in/check-out lady called Taxi-707 and it arrived about 2:20 in the morning and the Patient was dropped off in Boonville about 3am, $140 lighter, with an appointment to pic up the meds on Thursday and visit the Adventists cardio “institute” on Hospital drive to have a digital heart monitor glued on for two weeks, after which, supposedly, they may know more about the problem. The Patient was given an appointment for a cardiac specialist in mid-February. The first of the two meds that were ordered had been canceled too late, so the Myers Pharmacy had it ready anyway. The Patient explained to the very helpful pharmacist that the first med, “Eliquis,” had been canceled, but not before being told that Eliquis was a usurious $400 a month. The second med was only $27 for a few dozen pills, so the Patient picked that up. After two weeks with the heart monitor, about the size of a car key fob, it is to be removed and mailed somewhere where its records will be downloaded and reviewed at the mid-February appointment by the Ukiah cardiologist who won’t be back from vacation until January to deal with a backlog of other heart cases. Dr. Google says the Patient might a candidate for a pacemaker. Who knows? The Patient remains fatigued and a bit woozy, but semi-functional, below 100%.
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Tuesday to announce it had found the trial defendant not guilty as charged.
Antonio La Piccarella, age 32, generally of the Willits area, had been facing a misdemeanor charge of driving a motor vehicle in the Calpella area on October 23, 2021 with a blood alcohol .08 or greater.
The law enforcement agencies that provided witnesses who testified during the trial were the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Justice crime laboratory in Eureka.
The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Chandra Caffery.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Victoria Shanahan presided over the two-day trial.
BILL KIMBERLIN: When I was a kid my brother and I would get so excited when our family was going to Boonville for the summer. It was almost as good as Christmas, very close. I will be going up tomorrow for the Christmas holidays, and I still get a tingle from long ago.
A FRIEND told me he keeps 75 dollars in a savings account for the laughs he gets at his bank statement. “Interest accrued one cent. Low activity fee $5.”
LESS AMUSING is the 8.7% cost of living raise us geezers got for our Social Security as inflation was simultaneously reported at at least 8.7, meaning a loss for us of at least 8.7 percent.
IT'S AMAZING how three rogue Mendo cops — two only accused, not convicted — out of a hundred doing their impossible work every day with unblemished professional aplomb bring out the cop bashers as expressed by this on-line comment: "How do I avoid travel and business in Mendocino County? A fascinating story, and one has to wonder as to the plaintiff’s primary occupation… Bad cops assembled in a tight region, cities paying off claimants and ex-officers… Does this stuff happen everywhere? Cops should be able to provide footage and documentation of any and all on-duty encounters with citizens, for their own legal interest. Forcing someone to have sex with you when they are disabled or in a physically weakened condition or economic position should carry a long sentence… Threats of physical harm or prosecution from an LEO, or hell, just any deficiency in professional policy and procedure, should be reported without delay. Cops should be aware that there are cameras and recording devices almost everywhere… If this happened to you, how would you respond?"
BUT, BUT, BUT... we're a lean, mean killing machine, Miss Manners, as jarheads react to the news that the US Marine Corps are urged to stop calling instructors “sir” and “'ma'am” to be more gender inclusive and avoid being “offensive” by woke academics. The recommendation came in a recently completed academic report from the University of Pittsburgh, which was commissioned by the Corps in 2020.
FOR YOUR APOCALYPSE FILES. The superintendent of the tiny Anderson Valley school district tells me she's just ordered more Narcan.
THE OTHER NIGHT at the Chase Center, home court of the San Francisco Warrior's basketball team, play was stopped while Draymond Green complained to the referees that a foul-mouthed fan's insults had crossed the line, which means that not only was Green verbally assaulted but everyone sitting near the fan was also forced to listen to the creep. I was at a Warrior's game at the Oakland Coliseum one night when Mike Riordan jumped into the stands and slugged a guy in the mouth, which is the most efficient way to handle offenders, but lately the refs have simply kicked them out of the arena. I remember reading about a belligerent psycho who was banned from every arena in the country!
STEPH CURRY: “It was a distraction in terms of how long it took to handle the situation,” Curry said. “But Draymond showed composure in terms of letting everyone know what was going on. I’ve heard it’s happened a couple of times here in terms of fans saying wild stuff. I know it’s happening around the league. You want there to be some swift action around it.”
MENDO GUY WRITES: 19 yrs ago I was hooked on meth. I got busted, did about 3 months in the graybar hotel while I waited for a bed to open in Singing Trees. Did 6 months of inpatient there and 18 months of Drug court. Guess what? IT WORKED!! I’ve been clean and sober since January 2004. Drug court and inpatient is the ticket IMHO.
LET'S HOPE MINAL SHANKAR'S optimism is shared by Ukiah's bureaucrats. Ms. Shankar is the young woman who has set about reviving the long abandoned Palace Hotel in the center of our county seat. The best way Ukiah could help is to get out of her way when the Palace project kicks off in 2024, about the same time as our Superior Court begins to erect its new eyesore headquarters near the foot of Perkins Street in an internally lavish structure housing only them.
SO, CLASS, as an ambitious, idealistic young woman rehabs a stately landmark that once co-anchored a stately County Courthouse in the center of Ukiah, our over-large contingent of overpaid and underworked judges will move three blocks south, leaving the County Courthouse mostly abandoned. One large structure is revived, another dies, downtown Ukiah suffers. Only in Mendo could such a lack of civic planning occur.
LOCAL AUTHORITY — the county supervisors and the Ukiah City Council — such as it is, will say, “Well, golly, the state is building the new County Courthouse so there's nothing we can do about it.”
BY “THE STATE” is meant the State Judicial Council, another nest of overpaid lawyers funded out the exorbitant tickets and fees we all pay in traffic violations and court costs. It was this self-sanctioned San Francisco agency, assisted by the usual roll over of local authority, with a big helping hand from Northcoast Democrats who magically got title to the land off Perkins Street where the new County Courthouse that nobody wants will go. That land was owned by the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad but somehow is now the property of the publisher of the Press Democrat, Doug Bosco, a former Congressman who emerged from several terms in office a millionaire. Although the existing County Courthouse has served us well for more than a hundred years, and could be redone for half the expected cost of the new glass and steel monstrosity, it will become the new semi-abandoned hulk in the center of Ukiah.
MALCOLM MACDONALD: After another sell out, copies of Mendocino History Exposed, my collection of eclectic local stories, are back on the shelf at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. If you can't make it into their wonderful store on the corner of Main and Kasten Sts., give them a call at 707-937-2665 or check out the easy to use website for remote ordering: gallerybookshop.com. Add my novel, Outlaw Ford, to your holiday gift list to see how the real life shooting horse incident described in Chapter VIII of Mendocino History Exposed provided a catalyst to full length fiction.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will open the commercial Dungeness crab fishery statewide on Dec. 31, 2022. Fishing Zones 3-6 (all areas south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county Line) will open under a 50 percent trap reduction on Dec. 31, 2022 at 12:01 a.m., with a 64-hour gear setting period to begin on Dec. 28, 2022 at 8:01 a.m.
This trap reduction will help reduce risk of entanglement as humpback whales continue to migrate to winter breeding grounds. Commercial Dungeness crab vessels operating in Fishing Zones 3-6 must understand and comply with the restrictions by reviewing the CDFW Declaration (PDF)(opens in new tab). Any commercial Dungeness Crab vessel fishing in or transiting Fishing Zones 3-6, regardless of fishing location, is subject to the 50 percent reduction and must have at least half of their valid buoy tags for the current fishing season onboard and available for inspection by CDFW at all times until the trap reduction is lifted.
Fishing Zones 1 and 2 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties) had been delayed due to poor meat quality results but recent tests (PDF)(opens in new tab) indicate crab are ready for market. The fishery will open on Dec. 31, 2022 at 12:01 a.m., with a 64-hour gear setting period that will begin at 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2022.
“Our department appreciates the ongoing partnership and input from the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and the numerous researchers and federal agency partners that inform the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Through this partnership, CDFW has conducted four risk assessments this season and coordinated the collection of the best available science to protect whales while providing fishing opportunity for this iconic fishery.”
CDFW is continuing the temporary recreational crab trap restriction in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6 due to presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement from trap gear. The recreational crab trap restriction for Fishing Zones 1 and 2 was lifted on Nov. 28, 2022. The recreational fishery has been open statewide since Nov. 5, 2022, allowing crabbers the opportunity to harvest Dungeness crab in advance of the commercial fishery. CDFW reminds recreational crabbers that take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is still allowed during a temporary trap restriction.
Available data indicate whales remain in Fishing Zone 3, particularly in waters around Point Reyes and the Farallon Islands. As a result, Director Bonham is also issuing a Fleet Advisory for Fishing Zones 3-6 and reminds both the commercial and recreational fishers to avoid setting gear in areas where whales are transiting or foraging and to follow best practices, as described in the Best Practices Guide (PDF)(opens in new tab).
CDFW anticipates the next risk assessment will take place on or around Jan. 18, 2022, at which time Director Bonham will re-evaluate the commercial trap reduction and temporary recreational crab trap restriction in Fishing Zones 3-6.
For more information related to the risk assessment process, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page or more information on the Dungeness crab fishery, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab. For more information regarding the 2022-2023 commercial Dungeness crab season, please see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)(opens in new tab).
(Fish & Wildlife presser)
Leaving a restaurant in Railroad Square recently, a young man approached two couples near us and screamed obscenities at them. He punched one of the men, then went after the other couple. As we were trying to move toward our car, the man turned his attention to our group with aggressive actions and language.
As we tried to avoid him, he stole my hat and took off, with me in pursuit. Halfway down the block he ducked into a restaurant, coming out as I arrived. An altercation ensued until the restaurant manager and a good Samaritan stepped between us and the man took off down the street. My wife retrieved my hat from inside the toilet of the women’s restroom inside the restaurant.
It was apparent this man had mental or substance abuse issues. I do not understand where the millions of dollars allocated to people in need are going. This type of incident is the reason we no longer go to San Francisco to shop and eat. Is Santa Rosa going down the same rabbit hole as San Francisco? It appears so.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Friday, December 23, 2022
RENEE DAWSON, Ukiah. DUI.
JOHN FETZER, Tiburon/Ukiah. DUI.
ISIAH GARCIA, Napa/Ukiah. Domestic battery, protective order violation.
RANDY GIBNEY, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
AARON HARRINGTON, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
DANIEL HEBERT, Los Gatos/Ukiah. DUI, suspended license.
VICTORIA IDICA, Ukiah. Burglary, forgery.
CODY LADD, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
ZACHARY LAWSON, Ukiah. DUI with at least four priors, suspended license, county parole violation.
JOSE PLACENCIA, Fort Bragg. Fighting in public, concealed dirk-dagger.
RANDY SAINE, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, disobeying court order.
SAMUEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, protective order violation, parole violation. (Frequent Flyer)
RYAN SANTANA, Ukiah. Oral copulation w/victim under 10 years of age, sodomy with victim under 10 years of age.
PAUL SCHOCK, Philo. Controlled substance, disobeying court order, failure to appear.
CHAD TURLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, saps or similar weapons.
KEVIN WORLEY, Ukiah. Controlled substance, concealed dirk-dagger, failure to appear.
RE: CATCH OF THE DAY
Someone commented in these pages a while back about these photos. He/she said that something had changed, that these photos were now sharper, somehow more human, worth noticing (my memory is not entirely clear, hope I got the gist of it).
So, the photos today caught my eye, and I’ve gone back several times to take a better look. They are really kind of extraordinary. Only one or 2 appear to be downtrodden, downcast, and one disgruntled, annoyed. In several can be seen a tad of a smile. Many appear solemn, serious, but not really dangerous in aspect, looking right at the camera lens—“Here I am, as I am, an arrested person, but not ashamed and not all is lost.” And looking right at us as we momentarily survey the work of our deputies in their efforts to keep us safe—and God bless them for this hard work.
One wonders who the photographer at the jail is. Is he or she a novelist or poet who tells a short, true tale with photos? What is said by our mystery photographer to the subjects posing before they go to a cell? Maybe a word of encouragement or respect: “This is going to work our for you, make the best of it, this is not a terrible place, please don’t lose hope.” Or, “Take your time, show me who you are, how your mother might see you.” Or, perhaps just comments on the weather or a pet or makes a sweet little joke, something that helps the poser-arrestee feel better in the moment?
MEMO OF THE AIR Good Night Radio Xmas show all night Friday night! (Includes the San Francisco Mime Troupe's A Red Carol.)
Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA XMAS show is about 7pm. If you miss that, send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week. There's always a next week.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via KNYO.org. Also the schedule is there for KNYO's many other even more terrific shows.
Any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night I'll put the recording of tonight's show there. And besides all that, there you'll find a collection of fun information to stuff yourself with until showtime, or any time, such as:
This is science. This shows a good way science should be taught. Kids are stimulated to think of how things work, and imagine what uses the knowledge can be put to. (via TYWKIWDBI) (In other news, they're planning to retire the International Space Station. And by retire, they mean apply a tiny amount of retro thrust and knock it down to disintegrate harmlessly over the sea.) https://www.reddit.com/r/interestingasfuck/comments/y2kjmi/experiment_on_the_chinese_space_station_during_a/
Here's another I like. He learns and adapts and guesses and changes course; it gets more and more interesting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5wnTy_FhdM
You want more like that? Here, look: measuring the tiniest forces. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXoZQsZP2PY
And look up Sabine Hossenfelder's YouTube lecture series. And Physics Girl. And Vi Hart's math and music videos. Simone Giertz The Slo-Mo Guys... There's so much, so many great, quirky, enthusiastic teachers. Suggest someone I haven't mentioned, who you admire.
LIVING IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, not far from Dana Point, I wanted to share a bit of historical information to fellow surfers. It is a little known factoid that the term "Cowabunga" was derived from the Acjachmen Indians that lived in the vicinity of San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point when Mission San Juan Capistrano was established in 1769. Soon, after the mission was established, and cattle hides became a thriving economic resource for the mission, they were being sold to Yankee trading ships that would anchor in the cove behind what was later named, "Dana Point." The mission's indian workers would throw the dried hides off the cliffs to the sailors on the beach, who would gather them up, and row the hides out to the waiting ships at anchor. The hides were then sailed back to the east coast to be made into shoes and other leather goods. At the time, the hides were referred to as "California Dollars" because each one was worth about one dollar. When the Indians would cast the hides down to the sailors, and a sailor caught one well, the Indians would yell, "Cowabungs" referring to a well-caught cow hide. Years later, when surfing came to Dana Point, and the rest of the California coast, the term "Cowabunga" caught on as a word for "Wow, you caught that wave...what a great ride, I'm stoked!" So, being stoked goes back in history..."Cowabunga!"
“WOODY GUTHRIE taught me how to hitchhike and how to ride freight trains. You don’t get on a freight when it’s in the station - the railroad bulls will kick you off. You go about 100 yards or maybe 200 yards outside to where the train is just picking up speed and you can trot alongside it. You throw your banjo in an empty car, and then you throw yourself in. And you then might go 200 or 300 miles before you stop. Then I would knock on back doors and say, ‘Can I do a little work for a meal?’ Or I’d sing in a saloon for a few quarters. In six months I saw the country like I never would have seen it otherwise.” - Pete Seeger
The above quotation reminded me of Lecil Travis Martin who is better known as “Boxcar Willie”.
A country music singer who sang in the old-time hobo music style complete with dirty face, overalls and a floppy hat, “Boxcar Willie" was originally a character in a ballad he wrote, but he later adopted it as his own stage name.
Born in Texas, “Boxcar Willie" joined the United States Air Force in 1949, and served as a pilot and flight engineer for the B-29 Super Fortress during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
In Lincoln, Nebraska, he was once sitting at a railroad crossing and a fellow that closely resembled his chief boom operator, Willie Wilson, passed by sitting in a boxcar. He said, "There goes Willie." This inspired him to pull over his car and write a song titled, "Boxcar Willie.”
In San Jose, California, he attended a talent show as "Boxcar Willie" and performed under that name in public for the first time. He won first place, a $150 prize and a stage name that he would use for the rest of his life. That was his part-time vocation, however. He was still in the Air Force and had been flying daily missions.
He later became a Flight Engineer on KC-97L aircraft in the 136th ARW in the Texas Air National Guard, including air refueling flights around the USA and overseas in Germany. In 1976, he left the Air Force and became a full-time performer. One of his first national appearances was a win on the Chuck Barris television program, The Gong Show.
“Boxcar Willie" went on to become a star in country music, selling more than 100 million records, tapes and CDs worldwide. In 1981, he achieved a professional landmark by being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry as its 60th member.
HOW NOT TO SAVE DEMOCRACY
by Nicolas Guilhot
Last spring, the Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin, a member of the January 6 Committee, was spotted with a copy of Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae. It was the new Princeton, translated by Josiah Osgood, which comes with a new title, How to Stop a Conspiracy: An Ancient Guide to Saving a Republic. “I’m getting ideas from wherever I can,” Raskin said.
According to Sallust’s account, Lucius Sergius Catilina was a morally corrupt yet charismatic figure who refused to concede defeat at the ballot box. A member of the Roman oligarchy burdened with debt, he surrounded himself with a crew of louche characters; he fomented riots and assembled an armed mob to march on the Capitol and burn the Senate. The coup was thwarted in extremis but the republic was in danger.
Will the January 6 Committee’s report help save the American republic? In 63 BC the Roman senators took exceptional measures to ensure their enemies were politically (and militarily) defeated. Today, their counterparts seem less interested in political victory than in taking the (ostensibly) neutral stance of an historian. Their model isn’t even Cicero – who as consul led the efforts to suppress the Catiline conspiracy – so much as Sallust.
Sallust claimed to write with ‘a mind free of political partisanship.’ The chairman of the select committee, the Democratic congressman Bennie Thompson, has repeatedly said that the investigation “is not about politics. It’s not about party. It’s about the facts, plain and simple.” The committee’s Republican vice-chair, Liz Cheney, warned her audience not to be “distracted by politics.”
The expectations regarding the committee’s final report seem to be that history will succeed where politics has failed. Many people hope that the report – “an indispensable record of an attempted coup that failed but ... threatens to recur” – will help to neutralize Trump: if people can be made to see that the attack on the Capitol on 6 January, 2021 was the culmination of a plan long in the making, they will rally in defense of the institutions in which they have lost trust.
But is saving democracy a matter of setting the historical record straight – let alone of leaving politics behind in the name of “facts”?
The assumptions guiding the committee’s work are symptomatic of current thinking about the crisis of democracy. It is often assumed that what threatens democracy are wrong ideas. In this view, 6 January was not a consequence of decades of neoliberal policies, deindustrialization, rising wealth inequality and white supremacy, but of fake news: to wrest victory from the jaws of electoral defeat, Trump “was willing to entertain and use conspiracy theories,” as Cheney put it. “We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.” Saving democracy then becomes a matter of establishing historical facts. If truth prevails, it will bridge political divides and unite people.
Yet the notion that conspiracy theories pose a unique threat to democracy rests on shaky foundations. Hannah Arendt once suggested they were the logic behind totalitarian movements: people who imagine they are the targets of a conspiracy tend to organize themselves as a real counter-conspiracy in response. But if authoritarian movements rely heavily on conspiracist rhetoric, it does not necessarily follow that such movements are brought into being by conspiracist beliefs. No serious historian has explained the rise of Nazism or Fascism as the result of conspiracy theories.
The January 6 Committee’s work is further complicated by the fact that, while it seeks to invalidate conspiracy theories, it is simultaneously trying to shore up the idea that Donald Trump sat at the center of “a sprawling, multi-step conspiracy.”
Providing evidence of a conspiracy is notoriously difficult, especially of one that has failed: the task is not only to collect facts but to establish the intent that threads them together. A conspiracy, François Guizot once wrote, is by definition an “intellectual reality.” Unless it is consummated, it is never exhausted in facts.
This is not to deny the difference between real plots and paranoid fantasies, or to suggest that Trump and his cronies weren’t pursuing a real plot. But you cannot expect a painstaking exercise in separating wheat from chaff to have the persuasive power of an undisputable truth.
After conducting more than a thousand interviews and churning out millions of pages of documents, the committee is failing to convince. Historians with no sympathy for Trump have challenged the notion that 6 January was an attempted “coup.” Commentators are skeptical and some are suggesting it’s too little too late. The public at large seems largely indifferent. This doesn’t mean people don’t care about democracy – only that democracy, or at least the current American version of it, has left them by the wayside.
If the January 6 Committee members are to take any idea from Roman history, it should be that what threatens democracy is not erroneous beliefs or fake news but a social and economic crisis that political elites are incapable or unwilling to address. In Sallust’s lifetime, imperial overreach had created a vast military proletariat, disenfranchised and burdened by debt, while the senatorial oligarchy was unwilling to question its own privileges: it is from this decaying soil that Catiline emerged.
This is also the reason Sallust may not be such a good model: his professed detachment as an historian concealed a conservative agenda. He had no sympathy for the corrupt oligarchy that ruled Rome but was unsettled by the populist reaction. A member of the propertied classes and a former politician suspected of embezzlement, he sided with the old elite and chose the defense of the status quo. His portrait of Catiline was meant to stigmatize the most radical social demands. He played loose with the facts and tinkered with chronology: we will never know for sure whether Catiline, before opting for insurrection, wasn’t merely a populist politician rather than a criminal bent on staging a coup. Writing a “non-partisan” history of conspiratorial “facts” was the ideological dressing for a program to perpetuate the social and economic status quo.
The contemporary obsession with fake news and conspiracy theories serves a similar purpose, deflecting attention from the social ills that allow such theories to gain traction and politicians like Trump to use them.
As important as it may be to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the 6 January insurrection, the future of democracy ultimately depends on the availability of a transformative political vision that people can support. It may well be that Trump ends up being defeated. Yet, just as Catiline’s defeat didn’t prevent Caesar’s declaring himself dictator for life twenty years later, nothing guarantees that Trump’s end would be enough to save American democracy.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats say they want to do good things but they're lying and Republicans say they want to do bad things and they're telling the truth.
— Caitlin Johnstone
“MANY SAID I WAS RUTHLESS in the ring. How I'd stand over a fellow who was down and clout him again as he tried to rise. How I would get behind an opponent staggering back to his feet and flatten him with a sucker punch as he turned to face me.
I did those things and more. And did them well. Why shouldn't I have been adept at such tactics? I had learned all those tricks from men who flattened me again as I struggled for footing. Or threw brain-shaking sucker rights as I turned groggily to face them. It was part of the rules - or lack of rules - through many of my ring years.
I've been beaten into a coma in rings. I've been knocked down too often to remember. I've been knocked out. That happens to everybody if he lives in a jungle long enough. But I never lost a fight on a foul. Nor was I ever thrown out of a ring for not trying.”
- Jack Dempsey
DEMOCRATIC PARTY FANTASIES ABOUT 2022 MIDTERMS POSE PERIL FOR 2024
by Ralph Nader
The Democratic Party can’t cease congratulating itself about the mid-term elections results defying the pundit’s predictions of a red wave. (Newt Gingrich even predicted that Herschel Walker would win the Georgia senate race without a runoff.) This is a self-serving, self-destructive standard by which Democratic operatives measure their performance. They need to unfailingly look into the mirror and list their losses.
First, they lost the House of Representatives to the worst Republican Party in history. The GOP is corrupt, lying, and violence-prone. It opposes policies supporting labor, consumers, patients, and children. It favors the greed of its corporate paymasters over vital community protections and necessities. A GOP House means the end of any Biden-proposed legislation for the next two years.
The narrow margin (GOP 222 Dems 213) between the House Democrats and the House Republicans was provided by two debacles – the election of two GOP candidates who were part of the partisan crowd rushing Congress on January 6, 2021, and the boomeranging of the New York State Democratic Party’s redistricting plan.
Instead of netting four or five more seats in the House from New York, the Democratically controlled legislature overreached in its re-districting exuberance, leading to a 4 to 3 court overturn and the appointment of a special master to redraw the map. The new map produced a net GOP gain of 4 House seats.
Those two failures made the difference in the House of Representatives, turning all the committees and control of the House floor agendas over to probable Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his cronies, bent on political revenge, not protecting people’s interests.
Early causes weakening the Democratic Party were in 1979 when it started taking corporate PAC money big time and in 2011 when it cut an unwritten deal with the GOP that was beyond the pale in its legislative cowardliness. The deal, to secure GOP support, was that every dollar added for the social safety net had to be matched by a similar increase in the bloated military budget.
The pernicious influence of corporate PACs leads to capitulation by the Dems, such as giving the Pentagon tens of billions of dollars more for the military budget than the White House requested. By a House vote of 350-80 Democrats and Republicans expanded the current bloated military budget by another $45 billion, more than even the Generals requested. Moreover, the Democrats joined with the GOP in this deficit spending without even trying to pay for this $45 billion by restoring any of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for big business. The Congress has yet to provide adequate funding for public health necessities and Covid-19 responses in the U.S.
If the Party has to beg the GOP for aid to needy children, for instance, it is not likely to go into the districts of Republican leaders, such as former Speaker John Boehner’s backyard in Ohio. It reached a point in 2014 when the Democrats did not even field an opponent to Boehner, thus freeing him to help his GOP buddies with his unused campaign money.
There is little indication the Democrats have turned up the heat in low-income Bakersfield, California, the hometown of Kevin McCarthy. Compare this with junior member Rep. Newt Gingrich, who built, from scratch, a revolt that toppled two Democratic House Speakers, Jim Wright (by resignation) and Tom Foley (electoral defeat by Gingrich’s hand-picked opponent) before Gingrich took over the speakership in January 1995.
Another causal blunder is the ceding of huge territory in the U.S. over the decades to the GOP – now dubbed the red states. In an Electoral College system of presidential elections that has led to the ceding of the White House even to GOP losers in the popular vote (e.g., G.W. Bush and Trump).
By abandoning the mountain states and North & South Dakota, a virtually uncontested GOP started out with 8 to 10 surefire Senate seats in states which used to have Democratic senators when the Party was more of a true national Party.
Other self-inflicted wounds include refusals by the Democrats, when they do win, to roll back bad Republican passed laws as well as health, safety and economic regulations or de-regulations benefiting big business over all the people. Stripping down the IRS enforcement budget that could catch the plutocracy’s evasions, undermining the Postal Service, still run by Trumpster Louis DeJoy, not getting out of the Bush/Cheney illegal wars of aggression, and Bush/Cheney shielding Wall Street crooks from proper regulation of the financial industry, which led to its collapse, were some of the Democratic Party’s self-defeating permissions for these GOP disasters. (Note when Obama became president, his administration failed to prosecute the Wall Street looters.)
The Dems invariably decline to roll back outlandish subsidies, giveaways and bailouts initiated by the GOP and often expand them. Nor do they hold hearings on the corporate crime wave, corporate welfare binges and other critical “let the people know” events to build support for corporate law and order actions.
It isn’t as if citizen advocates and civic organizations have neglected to advise, warn and urge the Democratic Party to win by standing for the people with authentic policies, messages, strategies, tactics, rebuttals and pithy slogans. (See winningamerica.net).
The Democratic Party won’t even come up with memorable slogans and is constantly outnumbered by fabricated GOP accusations that put the Party on the defensive against the likes of Trump and Trumpster Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). The Dems are so unorganized and leaderless that Taylor Greene could say with impunity about the January 6th assault at a Republican gala in New York City last week, “I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, we would’ve been armed.” Where are the Democrats that are needed to move to censure this violent inciter against our national legislators?
Heading into a perilous 2024 election on a cascade of self-anthems is not an auspicious forward path. The Party is facing a disaster in the Senate. Twenty-three Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats) are up for re-election with only 10 Republican senators mostly all from safe states. If the Dems could barely keep the Senate in 2022 when these odds were reversed in their favor, what do you think their chances are, with the same old, tired campaigns, for keeping the Senate in 2024?
These are the same campaign consultant regulars who have brought the Party to ruin in winnable election after election. Still, they get retained and place a cocoon around their candidates. These consultants make sure their regular corporate clients are not upset.
Again, the National Democratic Party has to set aside the champagne and rigorously face its disastrous failures, when they should be landsliding the GOP. They can start with the two dozen civic leaders who volunteered to provide the path to victory in a July Zoom conference. They were largely ignored by the Party’s corporate-conflicted political media consultants (losers who are expecting to be retained for 2024). (Again, see winningamerica.net).
STEVE HEILIG: “Hapless” Paul Whelan was court-martialed for multiple crimes and lies and discharged from the Marines for bad conduct, then wound up in Russia with shady contacts and activities (he was also a big Trump fan). He was arrested with $80k in mysterious cash and was apparently trading in confidential info. Griner was caught with a gram of hash. Poor judgement on her part indeed, but while the “trade” may have been a bad deal and bad optics, at least the right American was freed.
"I sit on the terrace reading about the torments of Scott Fitzgerald. I am, he was, one of those men who read the grievous accounts of hard-drinking, self-destructive authors, holding a glass of whiskey in our hands, the tears pouring down our cheeks...When Fitzgerald drops dead, I burst into tears, as I wept over the account of Dylan Thomas's death. This morning I cannot remember anything that occurred after dinner."
~ The Journals of John Cheever
SANTA & SATAN
by James Kunstler
Santa… Satan…? Notice, they’re spelled similarly. Weird, a little bit…
The Santa we know came from a mashup of ancient pre-Christian Teutonic and Norse folk figures (Wotan, Odin) with the 4th century Greek bishop, St. Nicholas, a humble giver of gifts to children. That evolved in 19th century Anglo-America, with help from Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, and Clement Moore, into the jolly fat man in a fur-lined cloak, chortling merrily amid the platters of roast goose and baskets of sugarplums.
And then, of course, the Santa character was retooled and stylized by the big advertising mills of mid-20th century Madison Avenue into the red-suited icon who functioned as a cosmic delivery-man to suburban houses where the little ones dwell, efficiently distributing Red Ryder BB guns and Barbie Dolls from sea to shining sea out of his reindeer-powered express vehicle, circling the entire globe in a single breathless night of glittering snow and shining stars, plangent with countless wishes from little hearts.
Strange to relate, in some corners of Europe, St. Nick acquired a traveling companion named Krampus. The two went from house-to-house in the dark hours of St. Nick’s name-day (Dec. 6) interrogating children as to their conduct. Dark and hirsute with horns, cloven hooves, and a darting red tongue, this monster acted the “bad cop” of the roving pair, badgering the little ones about their naughty or nice doings, and whacking them with a birch rod if he didn’t like their answers. If especially displeased, he stuffed kids into a basket for transport to Hell.
A Krampus-like character reemerged in America this pre-Christmas week in the figure of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, who flew halfway around the world in a US government-issue magic sled to meet up with his chum, the new Santa Claus, “Joe Biden,” alleged current president of our land. Mr. Z, still tricked-out in his wartime olive-green togs and scrufty beard, was here to lecture the boys and girls of Congress about being naughty or nice vis-à-vis “democracy” in his distant land, lately under a siege of angry bears. Ukraine did nothing to make the bears angry, you understand. They just lumbered in from the forest one day and started busting stuff up, as bears will.
Ukraine has already received many gifts from Santa’s workshop, formerly known as the USA, toys much more impressive than any Red Ryder BB gun, for sure: howitzers, Javelin missiles, Stinger missiles, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), Phoenix Ghost tactical drones, Switchblade tactical drones, Puma surveillance drones, Vampire anti-drone systems, Mi-17 helicopters, Harpoon coastal defense systems, and much more. (How did Santa fit it all in his sack?)
Mr. Z and fellow officials of the bear-besieged country have also received plenty of “walking-around money,” much of which has walked-around so far and wide in the world as to park itself in sundry obscure bank accounts, real estate investments, or just plumb vanish into thin air. It wasn’t enough, Mr. Z complained upon arrival here. You must pony-up more… or else! And you must punish the bears harder!
“Joe Biden” promised another fifty-billions of dollars to Mr. Z’s bear-extermination project, with the further objective of dethroning the king of all bears, the wicked Putin, who glowers at the world from the mouth of his faraway Kremlin Cave. Then, in Congress Wednesday night, before a coast-to-coast TV audience, Mr. Z tuned-up our elected boys and girls in the great House chamber, forked tongue darting, to tell heart-wrenching tales of bear-provoked terror. He played them like the very keys of a harpsichord — a trick he has performed before with an interesting twist on Ukrainian television. The elect of our land stood and cheered, ready to proclaim Ukraine the fifty-first state. Mr. Z stole a smooch from the ruler of Congress, the winsome Ms. Pelosi, and then disappeared in a puff of smoke that left a tang of sulfur wafting on the stale air.
To underscore his seriousness, and using his secret powers, Mr. Z arranged for a bomb-cyclone storm to roar out of the North Pole a few days after his departure to give Americans a little taste of what it’s like to sit in the cold and dark at Christmas time — because the USA is such a blessed land as to have no problems of its own, and needs to be reminded about the sufferings of the less fortunate. And so it goes this Yuletide of 2022 in our charmed and exceptional country. The elves at Clusterfuck Nation wish you all a merry little Christmas!
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, 23 DECEMBER
Russia’s ambassador to Washington has compared the state of US-Russia relations to an “ice age” and warned of a “high” risk of a direct clash between the pair.
A Russian official has warned Moscow may cut oil output next year in response to price caps on its crude and oil products introduced by the EU and G7.
Putin tells Russian defence industry to up its game for Ukraine war
President Vladimir Putin has told Russia’s defence industry chiefs to up their game to ensure that the Russian army quickly gets all the weapons, equipment and military hardware it needs to fight in Ukraine.
Putin made the comments during a visit to Tula, a centre for arms manufacturing.
“The most important key task of our military-industrial complex is to provide our units and front-line forces with everything they need: weapons, equipment, ammunition, and gear in the necessary quantities and of the right quality, in the shortest possible timeframes,” said Putin.
“It’s also important to perfect and significantly improve the technical characteristics of weapons and equipment for our fighters based on the combat experience we have gained.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
As an Aussie watching from far far away… It seems America now has a tradition firmly rooted:
1. Every generation starts a pointless war.
2. Work hard to convince everyone ‘who matter$’ that its a great Idea.
3. End it all in failure many years later after enormous expenditure in men and material.
4. Spend years afterwards trying to explain the unfathomable.
SADIO MANE, a Senegalese soccer star, earns approximately $10.2 million annually. He gave the world a rude awakening after some fans were flabbergasted when they saw him carrying a cracked iPhone 11. His response was awesome:
"Why would I want ten Ferraris, 20 diamond watches, and two jet planes? I starved, I worked in the fields, played barefoot, and I didn't go to school. Now I can help people. I prefer to build schools and give poor people food or clothing. I have built schools and a stadium, provide clothes, shoes, and food for people in extreme poverty. In addition, I give 70 euros per month to all people from a very poor Senegalese region in order to contribute to their family economy. I do not need to display luxury cars, luxury homes, trips, and even planes. I prefer that my people receive some of what life has given me."
NOTES ON A FRIDAY NIGHT
A few delirious reflections at a crazy month's end
by Matt Taibbi
Sitting in a hotel bar in San Francisco, going through what’s become a nightly “remembering to eat” ritual. As readers here know, this has been a crazy month, during which time I lost track of a lot of things. I’ve been an absentee father during the holidays, which is contemptible, and also remiss when it comes to responsibilities to subscribers to this site, omitting to even take time to explain basic things, which I’ll try to do now.
Once again today we did not publish the written America This Week, which frankly will have to stay on hold for at least a little while longer. Also once again, I’ve abused the patience of podcast partner Walter Kirn, who’s been a great friend during this time and deserves better. We will do another makeup episode early next week, and I’ll announce the details as soon as I can.
The reason for all this of course is the Twitter Files story. This last week saw the FBI describe Lee Fang, Michael Shellenberger and me as “conspiracy theorists” whose “sole aim” is to discredit the agency. That statement will look ironic soon, as we spent much of this week learning about other agencies and organizations that can now also be discredited thanks to these files. Selfishly I may release some of that information in the morning, to be done with it so I can be fully-present Dad on the actual holiday.
A group of us spent the last weeks reading thousands of documents. For me a lot of that time was spent learning how Twitter functioned, specifically its relationships with government. How weird is modern-day America? Not long ago, CIA veterans tell me, the information above the “tearline” of a U.S. government intelligence cable would include the station of origin and any other CIA offices copied on the report.
I spent much of today looking at exactly similar documents, seemingly written by the same people, except the “offices” copied at the top of their reports weren’t other agency stations, but Twitter’s Silicon Valley colleagues: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, even Wikipedia. It turns out these are the new principal intelligence outposts of the American empire. A subplot is these companies seem not to have had much choice in being made key parts of a global surveillance and information control apparatus, although evidence suggests their Quislingian executives were mostly all thrilled to be absorbed. Details on those “Other Government Agencies” soon, probably tomorrow.
One happy-ish thought at month’s end:
Sometime in the last decade, many people — I was one — began to feel robbed of their sense of normalcy by something we couldn’t define. Increasingly glued to our phones, we saw that the version of the world that was spat out at us from them seemed distorted. The public’s reactions to various news events seemed off-kilter, being either way too intense, not intense enough, or simply unbelievable. You’d read that seemingly everyone in the world was in agreement that a certain thing was true, except it seemed ridiculous to you, which put you in an awkward place with friends, family, others. Should you say something? Are you the crazy one?
I can’t have been the only person to have struggled psychologically during this time. This is why these Twitter files have been such a balm. This is the reality they stole from us! It’s repulsive, horrifying, and dystopian, a gruesome history of a world run by anti-people, but I’ll take it any day over the vile and insulting facsimile of truth they’ve been selling. Personally, once I saw that these lurid files could be used as a road map back to something like reality — I wasn’t sure until this week — I relaxed for the first time in probably seven or eight years.
Something tells me the coming year is going to be a better one. Happy Holidays, everyone. Enjoy your loved ones, ignore the rest, and see you all again soon.