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GUSTY WINDS will decrease this morning and rain will move east out of the area by afternoon. Another storm system will bring more gusty south winds, showers, and a chance of thunderstorms to the region on Tuesday. The wet and stormy pattern will persist through the remainder of the week.
AS THE NEXT SYSTEM in this never ending series of storms systems to impact our region moves through, very strong wind gusts have been reported with reports of over 80 mph on coastal mountain ridges and in excess of 50 mph on the coastal plain. These winds are decreasing rather rapidly early this morning as the low moves north of the region and the cold front moves inland. Rain has spread over the region as a strong atmospheric river impacts the California coast. However, the main aim of this river is toward central California, south of our area, and widespread flooding concerns are rapidly becoming less of a concern. Rain may actually be over for the entire region by the afternoon. This will mean only small rises for the main stem rivers and creeks, however with the Navarro, Russian, and Garcia rivers already running high, flooding is possible again. But as for small stream flooding, the threat should pretty much be over by this afternoon.
(National Weather Service)
STORMS SLAM HIGH SCHOOL SEPTIC SYSTEM
Dear Anderson Valley Community,
We look forward to welcoming your students back tomorrow. These storms have been horrendous. I hope you are safe and well.
The septic system at the high school has failed. This is the last thing I needed on this district’s plate. But in the word of NASA pioneers, we are just going to work the problem. I have ordered porta-potties and we are going to make it work until we get this repair in process.
As a person of eternal hope, I bought a Power Ball ticket today, promising the clerks a $10,000 bonus if we won, with the intention of a full septic repair at the high school. Am I a hopeful person, Yes! Am I a realistic person, Yes! I just have to fix this. It will take about five or six weeks weeks and cost about $300,000. Hang in there… Will your kids have to use porta-potties? Yes. Will they get a good education, Yes.
I am looking forward to seeing your kids tomorrow.
Louise Simson, Superintendent
Anderson Valley Unified School District
Every Student • Every Possibility • No Matter What
RAINFALL SINCE CHRISTMAS (past 15 days): Yorkville 20.36" - Boonville 15.24"
HWY. 128 IS STILL CLOSED DUE TO FLOODING between Hwy. 1 and Flynn Creek Rd. The Navarro River flood level has fallen below the 23 ft. flood stage, reading 19.16 ft. at 8:15 PM Sunday night. It's possible Caltrans will be able to clean it up and get the road open by late morning, but the river will be on the rise again by that time, and possibly require closing 128 again at nightfall. The predicted crest is 22.5 ft. at 2 PM Monday, and that's 6 inches less than flood stage. But the level is forecast to be down from that a little, 22.2 ft by 5 PM when it's getting dark. The river should continue to fall overnight to 17.1 ft by 8 AM Tuesday. My hunch is that Caltrans will let 128 stay closed until Tuesday morning in consideration of public safety. https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=nvrc1
HWY. 1 IS STILL CLOSED AT THE GARCIA RIVER BETWEEN MANCHESTER AND POINT ARENA with the level at 8.18 ft. at 8 PM Sunday night. The NWS Garcia forecast chart shows a crest at 10.4 ft. coming Monday at 1 PM, and not falling as low as 6.5 ft. until 8 AM Wednesday, when it begins rising again. That indicates Hwy. 1 will be closed at least until Wednesday morning and possibly until Thursday morning. https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=grcc1
NOAA WEATHER FORECAST for Sunday night calls for about 0.60" of rain by morning with WINDS TONIGHT REACHING 29 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 45 MPH FROM 1 AM UNTIL 6 AM.
With winds that high and the ground saturated we can expect new power outages and delays fixing existing ones.
That's all for now,
YOU THOUGHT it was windy where you were…Steve Heilig notes: “Pablo Point, a peak just north of the city of Bolinas which sits at an elevation of 937 feet, recorded the strongest wind gusts in the Bay Area during Wednesday night’s storm at 101 mph, according to the National Weather Service.”
CITY OF POINT ARENA DECLARES EXISTENCE OF LOCAL EMERGENCY
The City of Point Arena has issued a Declaration of Local Emergency in response to ongoing storm events. It is forecasted that additional and continuing storms related to the series of atmospheric river systems threatens Point Arena by bringing heavy rainfall, widespread flooding, strong winds and wind gusts, falling debris, downed trees and extensive power outages.
Additional significant winter weather events are projected to impact Point Arena and the region into next week. Significant additional rainfall is forecast for the region along with moderate to high winds. Recent rainfall has left the soil very saturated making it more likely that trees will fall. Residents should be prepared for prolonged power outages and road closures.
Please avoid all nonessential travel as hazardous weather conditions will likely result in further downed trees and powerlines, as well as localized flooding. Do not attempt to drive through flooded areas, assume that downed powerlines are still energized, and stay out of the way of first responders and work crews.
Point Arena City Hall will be open from 9am to 4pm each day with full power until overall power is restored. Residents are encouraged to visit City Hall to charge electronics, use the internet, and receive storm updates. City Hall phone lines are down but calls can be received at 707-353-0004 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Emergency Declaration ensures the City's eligibility for State and Federal disaster assistance and funding for recovery efforts.
Paul Andersen <email@example.com>, City Manager
ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE DEPARTMENT: When in doubt, assume a line is electrified. When the ground is wet, stay at least 100' feet from a downed line. Don't exit your vehicle if you come upon lines in a road way and don't attempt to drive over the lines. Remember that fallen trees can conceal power lines.
Be safe and stay off the roads if you can!
WILLIAMS ZERO-SUM GAME
Robert Deutch: Here’s a question for Ted Williams and other board of supervisors. When can we expect to get hazmat collection visits to the coast? And why don’t we have a CRV buyback station on the coast anymore? I believe these two issues are contributing greatly to dumping of garbage and waste in our community. Board of supervisors should solve this problem!
Ted Williams replies: Having traveled to places in the world favoring universal trash service and seen the lack of roadside dumping, I think we're going about trash all wrong. We pay for abatement, monetarily and environmentally.
The new vendor is working on state permitting for operation. I understand it took about a year in another county. Hard to believe, the level of bureaucracy, but I see their diligence. The issue is government regulation and policy.
Recycling has fallen apart in California (and America) because countries in Asia have decided they don't want our waste. We were feeling good about recycling when in fact our recyclables were being shipped across the ocean using fossil fuels to places like China. This change has had a cascading impact.
The county could use your county tax dollars to subsidize CRV pickup, but it would leave something else in worse shape, for example, roads.
Most of the $356 Million county budget is earmarked for specific purposes. What remains covers mandated services like Sheriff, District Attorney, Public Defender, ...
The public could institute another tax, but given local economics, I don't think it would be supported.
The puzzle of state mandates and local revenue paints a startling future. While mandates, deferred maintenance and expectations have grown, revenue in real terms has been flat:
FIGURING OUT THE COUNTY’S FINANCES
by Jim Shields
Let’s see, back in February of last year as about-to-retire CEO Carmel Angelo was farewell addressing from various media platforms, she traced her county government career as one of stark contrasts. As pointed out last week by the Anderson Valley Advertiser’s Mark Scaramella, Mike Geniella reported last February, “As she prepares to step down, Angelo said she is especially satisfied that the county, facing near bankruptcy in 2010, is today on firm financial footing with $20 million in reserves in the face of an annual operating budget of $340 million. ‘I leave knowing the situation today is much healthier than when I was appointed CEO in 2010,’ said Angelo.”
Since then, the Board Of Supervisors has discovered the financial footing is about as firm as standing on a tub of Jello.
Goodbye $20 million in reserves, hello $6.1 million deficit.
There were delays in closing out the county’s books for the past fiscal year, and a required outside, independent audit is not quite completed yet.
Likewise, the shoot-your-own-foot consolidation of the Treasurer-Tax Collector/Auditor-Controller offices, has turned into the messy shotgun wedding that some experienced government financial-types predicted it would be.
Here’s a suggestion for the Supervisors.
No matter what one may think of former CEO Angelo’s management style, she is recognized by most of us who follow these things, as being a proficient and very knowledgeable budgeteer. She knew and knows the budget process. There was certainly some disagreement over her handling and representations of budget matters, but she knew her figures, she knew budget math.
So why not bring her back, either in person or via Zoom, and talk to her.
The Supes and their staff could then dialogue with Angelo and see what she has to say about this current unsettled financial situation the county now finds itself in since it doesn’t appear that “the situation today is much healthier than when I was appointed CEO in 2010.”
Should be a good meeting if it happens.
Might find out what happened that caused things to change so much in such a short time.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
THE ANDERSON VALLEY SENIOR CENTER’S popular annual crab feed is Saturday, January 21. Happy hour at 5:30, dinner at 6pm, at the Apple Hall at the Fairgrounds. Festivities include raffles, a silent auction and a no-host bar. The featured Crab Meal this year will cost $60 which includes salad, fresh bread and dessert. An economy spaghetti dinner option will be $20. It’s a benefit for the Senior Center which does a lot more than their wonderful weekly lunches and dinners. Tickets can be picked up a the Senior Center itself or at AV Market, Lemons Market in Philo or from any Senior Center Board member. Call 707/895-3609 for more info.
HOSPICE OF UKIAH SERVES US LOCALLY
To the Editor:
Why are you waiting?
Maybe your doctor has told you Mom can’t have Hospice until she gives up cancer treatment. Maybe you are in denial about the seriousness of her condition. Maybe your culture dictates that the family takes care of their own. Maybe no one has even suggested Hospice could help relieve mom’s pain and your distress.
On Friday, before the New Year Weekend, Hospice of Ukiah took three referrals from desperate families asking for Hospice right away. Nancy (not her real name) tearfully told me that her mom had finished cancer treatment and was dying — her doctor had told her she was now eligible for Hospice. With only one nurse on duty over a major holiday, 17 people on our waiting list and a number more cases pending, this was bound to lead to a very stressful weekend for the family. We triage our referrals and try to get to the most critical first, but there is only so much we can humanly do. Nancy’s was not the only desperate call that Friday.
It is true that Medicare rules require that people give up life extending treatment and have a six month prognosis of death to be eligible. However, this is not true of Hospice of Ukiah.
The truth is that, if Hospice is involved earlier, we can do a lot to alleviate the pain and stress of both patient and caregivers. When things become critical, we are already part of the medical team and on the scene as caring friends. Hospice of Ukiah is not about helping a person to die — it’s about helping them make the most of the life they have.
When there is a life threatening, serious illness in the family, we hope that people turn to us for help. Hospice of Ukiah is here, without bureaucratic barriers, for everyone in our community.
Janet M. Denninger, Administrator
Hospice of Ukiah
When the wind works against us in the dark,
And pelts the snow
The lower chamber window on the east,
And whispers with a sort of stifled bark,
‘Come out! Come out!’—
It costs no inward struggle not to go,
I count our strength,
Two and a child,
Those of us not asleep subdued to mark
How the cold creeps as the fire dies at length,—
How drifts are piled,
Dooryard and road ungraded,
Till even the comforting barn grows far away
And my heart owns a doubt
Whether 'tis in us to arise with day
And save ourselves unaided.
— Robert Frost
CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, January 8, 2023
JUAN DAVILA-ESQUIVEL, Covelo. Unauthorized entry of dwelling without owner’s consent, controlled substance.
JC GREENBUSH, Laytonville. Fugitive from justice.
DANIEL KORNEGAY, Redwood Valley. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15%.
FRANCISCO LOPEZ-AGUILAR, Ukiah. DUI.
RONNIE SALAMONE, Willits. Battery, trespassing. (Repost with current mugshot.)
JEROME STUTSMAN, Ukiah. Pot cultivation of more than six plants, armed with firearm in commission of felony.
LEROY TREVINO, La Mesa, Texas/Ukiah. Fugitive from justice.
JUAN VELASCO-CUEVAS, Willits. Reckless driving.
PURTY SOON after we stored our things in the cavern it began to darken up and thunder and lightnin' so the birds actin' up was right about a storm comin' in. Directly it begun to rain and it rained like all fury too. And I never seed the wind blow so. It was one of these regular summer storms. It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside — and lovely. And the rain would thrash along by so black that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby. And here would come a blast o'wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale underside of the leaves. And then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along and set the branches to tossin' their arms as if they was just wild! And next, when it was just about the bluest and blackest… Pfffffft! It was as bright as glory! And you'd have a little glimpse of treetops aplungin' about a way off yonder in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see before. Dark as sin again in a second. And now you'd hear the thunder let go with an awful crash. And then go rumblin' and rumblin' and tumblin' down the sky towards the other side of the world, like rollin' empty barrels down stairs where it's long stairs and they bounce a good deal. You know? “Jim, this is nice,” I says, “I wouldn't want to be nowhere else but here.”
— “Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
NINERS: ALL SYSTEMS GO
by Eric Branch
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t get the top seed they coveted, but they did accomplish a secondary objective Sunday: They didn’t get a top player injured.
The 49ers finished the regular season with 38-13 victory over the woebegone Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium, a rout that allowed them to remove blue-chippers such as left tackle Trent Williams, pass rusher Nick Bosa and linebacker Fred Warner when they were leading by three scores early in the third quarter.
The game marked the return of two key offensive weapons, All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Elijah Mitchell, and it featured little attrition. Backup linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (neck), a core special-teams player, was the only 49er who didn’t finish the game because of an injury.
The 49ers (13-4) will enter the postseason on their first 10-game winning streak since 1997 and about as healthy as they’ve been since September.
Perhaps the only discouraging news Sunday: The Eagles (14-3) retained the conference’s top seed, which comes with a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, with a 22-16 win over the Giants.
The 49ers will host the Seahawks or Green Bay (which will play Detroit on Sunday night) in the wild-card round next week. Seattle beat the Rams 19-16 in overtime moments after the 49ers’ game ended. If the Packers win, they travel to Levi’s; if the Lions win or the game ends in a tie, the Seahawks will play the 49ers for the third time this season.
On Sunday, the 49ers battered Arizona (4-13) by scoring the final 24 points in the final 34 minutes. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy improved to 5-0 as a starter and became the second rookie in NFL history to throw at least two touchdown passes in six straight games, joining the Chargers’ Justin Herbert (2020).
Purdy, who was replaced by Josh Johnson with 12 minutes left, completed 15 of 20 passes for 178 yards with two scoring tosses to tight end George Kittle (4 and 1 yards) and another on a 21-yard screen to running back Christian McCaffrey.
Mitchell has spent most of his second NFL season rehabbing. But he looked ready for the playoffs Sunday in his first game in more than a month.
After playing in only four of the first 16 games due a sprained MCL in each knee, Mitchell had 55 yards on five carries and scored on tackle-busting runs of 5 and 6 yards.
It was an encouraging outing after Mitchell was activated from injured reserve Saturday and suited up for the first time since he was injured in a win against the Saints on Nov. 27.
With the 49ers leading 21-13 early in the third quarter, Mitchell began the second-half takeover with a 37-yard sprint down the right sideline that was followed a snap later by his 6-yard scoring run.
Meanwhile, Samuel also returned Sunday after an extended absence.
Samuel, who had missed the previous three games with a sprained ankle and knee, had a limited role. He caught two passes for 20 yards (three targets) and had one carry for four yards.
CALIFORNIA HISTORICAL LANDMARK 164
Indian Arrow Tree, Maple Creek Road, Half Mile East of Korbel
Site of treaty between coast and mountain Indian tribes
Hist. Lndmk. No. 164
High Noon Lioness Club 1938
This site is said to have been used by Indians to commemorate an important peace treaty. In memory of the treaty, each tribe, upon passing, was supposed to have shot an arrow into the bark.
Marc DiSalvo and Malinda Zelazo sent us this photograph [above right] which was taken in 2001 when the inscription was easier to read.
We were unable to locate a bear flag plaque for this landmark.
(California Office of Historical Preservation)
MY CHRISTMAS WASN’T LIKE YOURS
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
How was my Christmas? Have a seat and I’ll tell you all about it.
WEATHER: There I was, knee deep in the frozen tundra of North Carolina, watching the icicles grow and the vegetation die in temperatures that got all the way up into the low 20’s on balmy afternoons. Neighbors called it the coldest winter they could remember.
On the plus side of the freeze wave, I never realized polar bears could be so playful. Who knew they do somersaults and play tag with penguins?
And who knew six-packs of beer freeze solid and their aluminum containers split wide after just a few minutes left on the front seat of the car while you watch football at a neighbor’s house? And who knew how funky your car would smell when the sun came out and everything thawed and the wife went to the store? (“Remember to pick up some beer, sweetheart!,” I shouted as she backed out of the driveway.)
PARADES: I should say “Parade” singular, because there was only one, but it’s probably still going. I’ll look out the front window and check.
In California it’s known as “The Festival of Red & Green,” but in the south it’s still Christmas, and the parade begins in mid-December and goes until the kids have to be in bed. It starts again the next morning after the cotton is shucked, the chickens are milked and other chores are complete.
Seriously, it’s a string of floats, ponies, marching bands, pickups, cheerleading squads, church assemblies, aluminum siding sales reps, military marching ensembles, 18-wheelers, political candidates, children’s singalong choirs, cops, sheriffs, the entire service staff at Bob’s Muffler Shop, high school football teams, teen queens in convertibles, and everyone else in the county who didn’t have to be at work that day. It goes for miles and/or hours, whichever take longer.
SHOPPING: Charlotte, 25 minutes north, is a shiny new big city polished to a charm-free veneer that boasts being a grand shopping empire, which it is. There are malls in Charlotte that make Coddingtown look like Dollar General; we spent four hours in the gaudiest of them and I spent not a nickel.
I paused briefly at a rack of t-shirts and they were $170 each, excessive at best and maybe $3 better than t-shirts at Ukiah’s JC Penney.
GIFTS: We also exchanged gifts and performed other transactions on Christmas morning. Such fun. One gift:
Wife Trophy has been without a dog since spring, 2022, and the barely scabbed wound grieves her still. Lucas, aware of her loss, knows a digital program (ChatGPT) that creates automatic writing and related magic that produces artwork on command.
Being master of both these arts, Lucas “wrote” and “illustrated” a book with a press run of a single copy for an audience of one. He dreamed up some chapter titles, prodded the artificially intelligent robot typewriter with instructions, then gazed in pleasure as the words pored forth. Next he gave the automatic artwork xerox machine a few ideas for illustrations.
Lo and Behold: His book was underway, and completed in a few minutes.
It was unwrapped Christmas morn, and the dear wife was instantly smitten by its concept and content. She opened it, began reading, and from that moment the world ceased to exist, immersed as she was in poetic descriptions of Golden Retrievers’ beautifully described traits of loyalty, devotion and faithful protecters.
And the illustrations! Golden Retrievers and Brontosauruses in Santa hats decorating a tree; Santa guiding eight tiny Golden Retrievers, one with a red nose, across star-flecked skies.
Her heart sang, her spirits soared, her eyes glistened and she turned to me. “Thank you,” she said quietly. “It’s wonderful. Beautiful. And Lucas, the illustrations are perfect. Thank you.”
Translation: My lovely wife thinks I personally wrote the words and paragraphs that make up the heart and soul of this epic book, a volume she already cherishes and to which I lent precisely nothing in bringing to life.
Because every word came from a machine with no more heart than a cabbage, no more soul than a Democrat. I was and remain speechless, and have not yet been able to bring myself to spoil her dreamy reveries.
But may she find solace to fill the empty heart her dog left behind. And may she find joy and appreciation of my brilliant writing talents in her new book.
At least until she reads today’s column.
(At some point during my long cold sleepless winter nights I must confront the realization that my many columns, hewn as they’ve been from my sweat and imagination, have in the end been runners-up to a mechanical writing machine. Tom Hine and his invisible assistant, TWK, now plunge into 2023.)
On this day in Mendocino history…
January 8, 1973 - The results of a guessing contest were announced at the Mendocino Hotel. The contents of a jar of coffee beans that had been on display for two weeks were laboriously counted out by three judges. The total number of beans in the jar was 11,829, which included two beans which were thrown at “sitters-bye,” who offered “helpful suggestions” to the bean counters.
The Beacon announced the contest in December. “In the lobby of the Mendocino Hotel is an odd shaped jar which looks like an escapee from some far away chemistry laboratory in Transylvania or Guatemala. What it is doing there in that 100 year old landmark is bringing back a touch of the good old days to good old Mendocino. Inside that jar is an unknown quantity of Colombian coffee beans, roasted just the other day in a new coffee roasting establishment called Thanksgiving Coffee Company. To publicize the opening of this unique shop the owners have filled this jar to the brim with beans, sealed it with wax, and are asking all to enter this contest following the great American tradition of guessing about everything.”
“The three judges, Vic Biondo (local bon vivant), Alphonse Riede (of Alphonse’s) and Mervin Gilbert (of the Mendocino Beacon) managed the job of counting between, over, and through a dinner served by Hotel manager Neil Hebron. Alphonse, a veteran bead-counter, officially led the tally with 7,529 beans (a personal record).”
According to Paul Katzeff, owner of the Thanksgiving Coffee Company, 420 guesses were received, with the most distant entry coming from Cincinnati, Ohio. “Guesses ranged from 202 beans to “1.2 x 10 to the 6th power” (whatever that is).”
First Prize went to Max Forseter of Philo with his guess of 11,777. He won 30 drinks from the Thanksgiving Coffee Company’s Menu - all at once, or over the months to come. Mary Kittredge of Mendocino with a guess of 11,727 won one pound each of fresh-roasted Columbian, Java, Mexican, Costa Rican, and French Roast coffees for her second place showing. “An exciting tie for 3rd Prize set nearby tables buzzing. 12-year-old Naomi Ginsberg of Albion and A. H. Assocs. of Green St., San Francisco, both guessed 12,050, and both will get a 4-cup drip coffee maker and a pound of coffee.”
(Life in Northwest Nowhere, by Mervinius (Mervin Gilbert) — a Collection of cartoon strips that appeared in publications in Mendocino, Fort Bragg, and San Francisco, capturing the spirit of the back-to-the-land movement of the Mendocino Coast in the late 1960s and early 1970s. $15. www.kelleyhousemuseum.org)
THE BUSYBODY BLUES: LOOKING FOR SOBRIETY IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
by Paul Modic
I have a friend in his mid-seventies who still drinks two or more big drinks every night and I thought I would offer him an opportunity to dry out. I called him yesterday in the afternoon as the rain was steadily falling and when the conversation turned to drinking I saw my opening.
“Buzz,” I said, “I want to offer you to stay in my guest house for a couple weeks, you can set up your drums and keyboard and…”
“No,” he said, knocking down the idea without equivocation, like I knew he would.
“We could even have an intervention,” I said, “and…”
He interrupted me again and said, “Well, if there was a woman involved, if I were in a relationship with someone who I could really relate to, and she asked me to stop drinking I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
“At least I get points for offering,” I said. “Well, we’ve pretty much given up looking for a woman.”
“Hey, speak for yourself,” he said.
“What, you’re out there looking?” I said. “Not me, I have no prospects, hey we had a good run, right? So why do you drink?” (I had read recently that even two drinks a day could be difficult for someone in their seventies to process.)
“It helps me pass out,” he said. “Every day I think I want to quit.”
(Yeah, I wanna save my old buddy Buzz, I do have a hero complex, to which you might say, “Dude, just save yourself!” But for what, to leave a good looking corpse?)
So Buzz won’t make a move, a change, unless there’s a nice understanding woman involved and I can relate, if I had one interested, and supporting me in any kind of life endeavors, I’d probably look back and think how was I able to live before, like this?
“Well, you’d want someone younger, right?” I said.
“Not necessarily,” he said.
“I dunno,” I said, “Two old people together, you’d probably just end up taking care of each other with all your senior issues.” (Though technically I am also old I don’t include myself in that subset because of the “Peter Pan Syndrome,” ie, living in the woods too long.)
“That could be good,” he said.
Okay, he turned me down and I probably didn’t even get points for offering but it got me to thinking: what if I created a situation for Buzz in which there were women involved? I can certainly see the prejudice against men: this year I invited two Facebook “friends” to drop by and both of them, a seventy year old woman and an eighty year old man, refused for the same reason: I am a dude.
The geezer would just rather spend any spare time with women and the woman doesn’t want to jeopardize her relationship with her younger guy by having a random visit with the likes of me. (I ran into her this summer in the Chautauqua parking lot, we were having a conversation, but then her handsome guy came out of the store, said he was heading to the car, and she dashed off mid-sentence after him.)
So how would it work? How would I find a woman to tell Buzz that she loved him and ask him to stop drinking? Damn, this is starting to sound like an intervention—stay tuned.
“Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
NO justification needed AZ. The reality is that a majority of doctors under 50 (coming out of med school since the mid 90’s) tend to be spineless pussies who can’t stand up to MBA corporate admin people, esp MD/MBA completely soulless corporate types, and just follow orders. Most are too timid or afraid to tell the nazis to go to hell and then go out on their own and break the ties with corporate medicine, or, I should say medical health care (‘medicine’ itself if a fascinating and endlessly interesting science based endeavor, but ‘medical health care’ is now a morass of lies, scams and endless hustles disguised as policies, procedures and drugs, one ‘must have to live,’ pushed on people with minimal, if any, informed consent).
I understand the issue of med school loans and family expenses preventing doctors from being responsible to their patients (I was from a working class family and owed 6 figures right out of med school). But myself and many other MDs have found that the public is very supportive of doctors who are independent of corporate entities (e.g. hospital systems) and do not push unnecessary hospitalizations and hospital procedures and aspire to tell them the truth about issues like fake vaxxes, highly toxic metal implants, and drugs with myriad side effects. I have seen that personally.
AMERICA’S THEATER OF THE ABSURD
The 15 rounds of voting it took to install Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House is part of the carnival of folly that passes for politics.
by Chris Hedges
Our political class does not govern. It entertains. It plays its assigned role in our fictitious democracy, howling with outrage to constituents and selling them out. The Squad and the Progressive Caucus have no more intention of fighting for universal health care, workers’ rights or defying the war machine than the Freedom Caucus fights for freedom. These political hacks are modern versions of Sinclair Lewis’s slick con artist Elmer Gantry, cynically betraying a gullible public to amass personal power and wealth. This moral vacuity provides the spectacle, as H.G. Wells wrote, of “a great material civilization, halted, paralyzed.” It happened in Ancient Rome. It happened in Weimar Germany. It is happening here.
Governance exists. But it is not seen. It is certainly not democratic. It is done by the armies of lobbyists and corporate executives, from the fossil fuel industry, the arms industry, the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street. Governance happens in secret. Corporations have seized the levers of power, including the media. Growing obscenely rich, the ruling oligarchs have deformed national institutions, including state and federal legislatures and the courts, to serve their insatiable greed. They know what they are doing. They understand the depths of their own corruption. They know they are hated. They are prepared for that too. They have militarized police forces and have built a vast archipelago of prisons to keep the unemployed and underemployed in bondage. All the while, they pay little to no income tax and exploit sweatshop labor overseas. They lavishly bankroll the political clowns who speak in the vulgar and crude idiom of an enraged public or in the dulcet tones used to mollify the liberal class.
Donald Trump’s seminal contribution to the political landscape is the license to say in public what political decorum once prohibited. His legacy is the degradation of political discourse to the monosyllabic tirades of Shakespeare’s Caliban, which simultaneously scandalize and energize the kabuki theater that passes for government. This burlesque differs little from the German Reichstag, where the final cri de coeur by a mortally ill Clara Zetkin against fascism on August 30, 1932, was met with a chorus of taunts, insults and jeers by Nazi deputies.
H.G. Wells called the old guard, the good liberals, the ones who speak in measured words and embrace reason, the “inexplicit men.” They say the right things and do nothing. They are as vital to the rise of tyranny as are the Christian fascists, a few of whom held the House hostage last week by blocking 14 rounds of voting to prevent Kevin McCarthy from becoming Speaker. By the time McCarthy was elected on the 15th round, he had caved on nearly every demand made by the obstructionists, including permitting any one of the 435 members of the House to force a vote for his removal at any time, thus guaranteeing political paralysis.
The internecine warfare in the House is not between those who respect democratic institutions and those who do not. McCarthy, backed by Trump and far-right conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, is as morally bankrupt as those trying to bring him down. This is a battle for control among con artists, charlatans, social media celebrities and mobsters. McCarthy joined the majority of House Republicans in support of a Texas lawsuit to void the 2020 Presidential result by preventing four states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia — from casting electoral votes for Biden. The Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit. There isn’t much in the Freedom Caucus extremist positions, which resemble those of Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany and Fidesz in Hungary, McCarthy doesn’t embrace. They advocate greater tax cuts for the wealthy, further deregulation of corporations, a war on migrants, more austerity programs, champion white supremacy and accuse liberals and conservatives who do not line up behind Trump of treason.
“I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it,” McCarthy said in audio posted to YouTube by a Main Street Nashville reporter in 2021. Pelosi, for her part, called McCarthy a “moron,” after he said that a possible renewed mask mandate was “a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.” This is what passes for political discourse. I yearn for the time when political rhetoric was geared to the educational level of a 10-year-old child or an adult with a sixth or seventh-grade education. Now we speak in imbecilic clichés.
This political vacuum has spawned anti-politics, or what the writer Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics,” which “personalizes and moralizes issues and interests instead of clarifying them.” Junk politics “maximizes threats from abroad while miniaturizing large, complex problems at home. It’s a politics that, guided by guesses about its own profits and losses, abruptly reverses public stances without explanation, often spectacularly bloating problems previously miniaturized (e.g.: [the war in] Iraq will be over in days or weeks; Iraq is a project for generations).”
“A major effect of junk politics — its ceaseless flood of patriotic, religious, macho and therapeutic fustian — is to pull position after position loose from reasoned foundations,” DeMott noted.
The result of junk politics is that it infantilizes the public with “year-round upbeat Christmas tales” and perpetuates the status quo. The billionaire class, which has carried out a slow motion corporate coup d’état, continues to plunder; unchecked militarism continues to hollow out the country; and the public is kept in bondage by the courts and domestic security agencies. When the government watches you twenty-four hours a day, you cannot use the word “liberty.” That is the relationship between a master and a slave. The iron primacy of profit means that the most vulnerable are ruthlessly discarded. Supported by Republicans and Democrats, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to slow economic growth and increase unemployment to curb inflation, exacting a tremendous cost on the working poor and their families. No one is required to operate under what John Ruskin called “conditions of moral culture.”
But the second result of junk politics is more insidious. It solidifies the cult of the self, the amoral belief that we have the right to do anything, to betray and destroy anyone, to get what we want. The cult of the self fosters a psychopathic cruelty, a culture built not on empathy, the common good and self-sacrifice but on unbridled narcissism and vengeance. It celebrates, as mass media does, superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and an inability to feel guilt or remorse. This is the dark ethic of corporate culture, celebrated by the entertainment industry, academia and social media.
The essayist Curtis White argues that “it is capitalism that now most defines our national character, not Christianity or the Enlightenment.” He assesses our culture as one in which “death has taken refuge in a legality that is supported by both reasonable liberals and Christian conservatives.” This “legality” ratifies the systematic exploitation of workers. White excoriates our nationalist triumphalism and our unleashing of “the most fantastically destructive military power” the world has ever known with the alleged objective of “protecting and pursuing freedom.”
“Justice, under capitalism, works not from a notion of obedience to moral law, or to conscience, or to compassion, but from the assumption of a duty to preserve a social order and the legal ‘rights’ that constitute that order, especially the right to property and the freedom to do with it what one wants,” he writes. “That’s the real and important ‘moral assessment’ sought by our courts. It comes to this: that decision will seem most just which preserves the system of justice even if the system is itself routinely unjust.”
The consequence is a society consumed by excessive materialism, pointless soul-destroying work, suffocating housing developments closer to “shared cemeteries” than real neighborhoods and a license to exploit that “condemns nature itself to annihilation even as we call it the freedom to pursue personal property.”
The billionaire class, for the most part, prefers the mask of a Joe Biden, who deftly broke the freight railway unions to prevent a strike and forced them to accept a contract a majority of union members had rejected. But the billionaire class also knows that the goons and con artists on the far right will not interfere in their disemboweling of the nation; indeed, they will be more robust in thwarting the attempts of workers to organize for decent wages and working conditions. I watched fringe politicians in Yugoslavia, Radovan Karadžić, Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tudjman, dismissed by the political and educated elites as buffoons, ride an anti-liberal wave to power in the wake of widespread economic misery. Walmart, Amazon, Apple, Citibank, Raytheon, ExxonMobile, Alphabet and Goldman Sachs will easily adapt. Capitalism functions very efficiently without democracy.
The longer we remain in a state of political paralysis, the more these political deformities are empowered. As Robert O. Paxton writes in “The Anatomy of Fascism,” fascism is an amorphous and incoherent ideology. It wraps itself in the most cherished symbols of the nation, in our case, the American flag, white supremacy, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Christian cross. It celebrates hypermasculinity, misogyny, racism and violence. It allows disenfranchised people, especially disenfranchised white men, to regain a sense of power, however illusory, and sanctifies their hatred and rage. It embraces a utopian vision of moral renewal and vengeance to coalesce around an anointed political savior. It is militaristic, anti-intellectual and contemptuous of democracy, especially when the established ruling class mouths the language of liberal democracy but does nothing to defend it. It replaces culture with nationalist and patriotic kitsch. It sees those outside the closed circle of the nation-state or the ethnic or religious group as contaminants who must be physically purged, usually with violence, to restore the health of the nation. It perpetuates itself through constant instability, for its solutions to the ills besetting the nation are transitory, contradictory and unattainable. Most importantly, fascism always has a religious coloring, mobilizing believers around rites and rituals, using sacred words and phrases, and embracing an absolute truth that is heretical to question.
Trump may be finished politically, but the political and social decay that created Trump remains. This decay will give rise to new, perhaps more competent, demagogues. I fear the rise of Christian fascists endowed with the political skill, self-discipline, focus and intelligence that Trump lacks. The longer we remain politically paralyzed, the more certain Christian fascism becomes. The January 6 mob assault on the Capital two years ago, the polarization of the electorate into antagonistic tribes, the economic misery afflicting the working class, the rhetoric of hate and violence, and the current dysfunction in the Congress is but a glimpse of the nightmare ahead.
THE US EMPIRE is getting everything it wants out of the war in Ukraine. It claims out of one side of its mouth that this was an unprovoked invasion that it never wanted, while admitting this war is giving it everything it ever wanted out the other side. The US did not just luckily stumble into a happy coincidence that just happens to advance all of its longstanding geostrategic agendas against a longtime geopolitical target. It deliberately created this situation, and only a baby-brained idiot would believe otherwise.
Putin isn't waging this war because he thought it would be a nice idea to grab a bit more land, he's waging it because he assessed that he'd need to fight off NATO aggressions in Ukraine at some point and it would be easier to do it now than later. People say "Hurr hurr, if the US provoked this war to advance its own interests then Putin's an idiot for falling for it," but anyone who's ever played chess knows strategy is often about forcing your opponent to choose between two bad options, either of which benefit you.
There's still this notion in some anti-imperialist factions that Putin is a brilliant strategic wizard who is outfoxing the empire in a game of 5D chess, but really he's just fighting on the back foot against a far wealthier, far more powerful foe, and it's costing his nation dearly.
Whether Ukraine "wins" this war or not is irrelevant to the fact that the US empire was for relatively little cost able to create a massive sinkhole for Moscow to pour its energy and attention into, freeing up the imperial machine to focus on turning the screws on China.
— Caitlin Johnstone
GOD WAS DISCREDITED with the same religious fervor with which he had been praised before. Out in the playground, there was a brief flowering of national genius in disorganized abandon. One thinks of Mayakovsky, Esenin, Alexander Blok, the Constructivists, Malevich, and of course, the young Prokofiev. Then the school bell rang, and the refreshed children filed back into the classroom to find the icon replaced by a red star, the benign picture of the Little Father, Nicholas II, by the portrait of V. I. Lenin, and the lessons started afresh with the same hermetic sealing against the intrusion of doubt. Everything had changed but the manner, yet the manner was all important. Even the spirit of the confessional, of mea culpa, mea maxima culpa was deflected from the ornate robe of the priest to the frost bitten ear of the commissar, but the spirit reigned on unchanged. We heard it with painful regularity as the brilliant composers and the magnificent writers confessed their errors of judgement to lamentable hicks like Andrei Zhdanov, and the inquisition of the people, with its condemnation of bourgeois values, continued round the clock among the potted palms and table-runners of the most bourgeois of proletarian societies, stinking of pious hypocrisy and self-righteous indignation, of ignorance and vodka.
— Peter Ustinov, “Dear Me”
THAT OLD CLICHE that the only two things certain in life are death and taxes needs an amendment, at least if you're an American. Something else is just as certain and inevitable. Namely, the U.S. budget for military and intelligence agencies will increase every year no matter what, the U.S. is, and for decades has been, the largest military spender in the world by far. The statistics are by now familiar. The U.S. spends more than the nine highest-spending nations combined that come after it. Of all the world's military spending, if you aggregated it all from every nation into one pile, 38% of it is from U.S. spending.
And it's not as if the U.S. spends so much more on its military because it has more than anybody else. Of the world's top ten military spenders, the U.S. also spends the second-highest share of its gross domestic product, just after Saudi Arabia. What's most impressive is how inventive and resilient is this web of a multi-tentacle war machine, which Dwight Eisenhower, 61 years ago, dubbed the “military-industrial complex”. No matter what is going on in the world, they always find — or concoct — reasons why the military budget must grow no matter how inflated it already is.
— Glenn Greenwald
UKRAINE, SUNDAY, 8TH JANUARY
Cease-Fire: On Jan. 5, the Kremlin announced a 36-hour cease-fire in Ukraine to mark the Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Amid continued attacks, Ukraine’s leaders dismissed the idea as cynical posturing by an untrustworthy enemy.
New Equipment: The Western allies’ provision to Ukraine of infantry fighting vehicles signals their support for new offensives in coming months.
Sexual Crimes: After months of bureaucratic and political delays, Ukrainian officials are gathering pace in documenting sexual crimes committed by Russian forces during the war.
Adapting to Survive: The war has taken a severe toll on Ukraine’s economy. But it has also pushed Ukrainians to restructure parts of the economy at lightning speed.
WHY PEOPLE LIKE ME LEFT CALIFORNIA TO PURSUE THE AMERICAN DREAM IN MONTANA
by Kevin Frazier
Last year, when I graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Law, I was fortunate to have two job offers. One was a Big Law job at a firm in San Francisco. The other was a judicial clerkship on the Montana Supreme Court in Helena, Mont. The firm job offered greater pay, better benefits and more career stability. But for my fiancé and me, the choice was easy.
We packed up our spot in the Richmond District, got on Interstate 80 and headed for Big Sky country.
Like many other former Californians who have made the trek out of the Golden State since the start of the pandemic, we left our home in pursuit of the American Dream along what I call the “Zoom Trail” — the routes opened by remote work and COVID-induced restlessness.
The Zoom Trail, like the Oregon Trail before it, promises something at the heart of the American Dream: a belief that a better future exists for you, your family and your community. For many, big cities have lost their luster because the problems they face and the solutions they propose land somewhere on the spectrum between foolish and futile.
In San Francisco alone, headlines inspire few people and instill little optimism. You can only read about the cost of public toilets or another delayed, over-budget transit project so many times before you wonder if big cities are up to the task of realizing their immense potential.
The same ingenuity, desperation and persistence that motivated people to head west over 150 years ago is now driving Californians to the mountains of Montana and beyond. From 2021 to 2022, Florida, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, South Dakota and Montana had the largest percentage population growth rates, according to the Census Bureau.
Former Californians I meet in Montana share common complaints about what led to their move. Folks are tired of working harder, but facing higher rents. They’re unwilling to get another education credential but still remain vulnerable to being a victim of the next tech layoff. And, people are fed up with advocating for better policies while knowing their vote will likely mean little in cities where political machines still exist. Whenever I hear these complaints, I find myself nodding along.
Personal and communal progress in California does not come easily. Some will argue that people have the wrong perception of California. And in some ways that pushback is correct. After all, California is on the verge of surpassing Germany as the fourth-largest economy in the world. But perceptions and aspirations are rarely the stuff of hard facts and white papers. What matters is that many Californians feel stuck. According to a 2022 Public Policy Institute of California survey, just about half of Californians believe the state is headed in the right direction. For those who don’t, that sentiment is what can lead to a Zillow search for a new landing pad at the end of the Zoom Trail.
For their part, long-time Montanans will tell you that their state isn’t exactly what pop culture has led the rest of the country to believe: a place where grit alone can determine your fate, but enough technology exists so that you can continue to binge your favorite shows. The state is home to problems of its own — many of which are made worse by the seemingly endless arrival of Zoom Trail migrants.
For example, housing has become unaffordable for locals unable to make Bay Area wages by working remotely. And, just as Californians feel uninspired by politicians who spend more time on Twitter than discussing meaningful policies, many Montanans have become pessimistic about any policy solutions to their biggest issues. As two former mayors of Bozeman recently summed it up: “If we woke up tomorrow to 1,000 brand-new housing units, they would be snatched up by same people who are snatching them up today: 20 percent would go to wealthy people from Bozeman who can afford to move up or invest; fifty percent would go to wealthy newcomers; and the remaining thirty percent would go to out-of-state investors.”
Where Californians see a state with opportunities yet to be discovered, Montanans are watching other people realize dreams at their expense. The tragic irony is that the “plundering” Californian and the “powerless” Montanan each crave the same thing — a frontier.
Land free of constraints (real and perceived) has always been the setting for the American Dream. Going back to the first European settlers, the pursuit of this dream has always led to disastrous consequences for the people that already called that place home. Today, the relentless pursuit of a frontier by those privileged enough to take such risks is once again having a negative effect on locals.
It’s not lost on me that by moving from the Bay Area to Helena, I contributed to the forces displacing locals and disrupting communities. I can conjure up all sorts of justifications for why my move was different, was justifiable, was necessary, but my story is no different than any other pioneer’s story — we’re all looking for an opportunity to prosper, to contribute, to have an impact.
So if the pursuit of the frontier is inevitable and inherent, can that pursuit ever be something positive for the collective community? Can we strive to make a difference without stealing opportunities from others?
The answer can and must be, “Yes.” But rather than looking for new places to settle, can our local and state governments, private entities and nonprofits provide people with the sense that, through hard work, risk-taking and collaboration, they can achieve big things exactly in the place they already call home?
Americans should not have to cross state lines to feel like their contribution matters. What if we had a modern Civilian Conservation Corps that could offer everyone the opportunity to collaboratively build up their cities and hometowns? What if Service Saturdays — days filled with local service projects — became the cultural norm? What if we revived democratic participation by making citizen assemblies — in which individuals are randomly selected to evaluate policies and set priorities for legislative bodies — a normal part of our political system?
People crave purpose, community and, frankly, impact. Those desires and ambitions moved me and millions of others to new places. Rather than give everyone a U-Haul gift card to move to a state of their choice, we ought to examine how we can bring the frontier — and its opportunities and promise — to every neighborhood.
(Kevin Frazier resides in Helena, Mont., where he works as a judicial clerk.)