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SHOWERS and isolated thunderstorms, along with gusty winds, will spread across the area today as another low pressure system approaches the region. Yet another storm system will impact the West Coast during the second half of the week.
An occluded front is presently moving ashore from near Cape Mendocino into Mendocino County.…
A Flood Watch continues in effect through this afternoon for Mendocino and Lake counties.…
Snow levels are presently averaging around 4000 feet.…
Winds are presently increasing across the area, with the highest speeds over the ridgetops. Expect winds to continue to increase in the lower levels and along the coastal headlands. A wind advisory remains in effect for portions of the area through the afternoon.
After a bit of a lull in the weather tonight, the surface pressure gradient is once again forecast to tighten ahead of the next storm system. A period of stronger winds are forecast from Wednesday afternoon potentially lasting into Thursday night as low-level strong winds persist. Rain and mountain snow will pick up again as well as the parade of Pacific storms continues to buffet the area.
(National Weather Service)
HIGHWAYS 1 AND 128 STILL CLOSED AS OF 2 PM MONDAY
The Navarro River crested at 24.17 ft at 12:15 PM which is more than a foot above flood stage. It is forecast to be 21 ft. at 5 PM today so it's very unlikely that Caltrans will reopen 128 today. Maybe tomorrow if we get lucky. https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=nvrc1
The Garcia River was at 10.5 ft. at 11 AM and won't be low enough to reopen Hwy. 1 before tomorrow at the soonest. There is no published flood stage or what level means water over the highway, so it's hard to know. The NWS Garcia chart shows high levels staying above 7 ft. through 1/13 where the forecast ends. Does that mean Hwy. 1 will be closed that long? I don't know. Anyone in that vicinity know what level floods the highway? https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=grcc1
We're getting a brief break in the rain today, but the atmospheric river will resume raining on us tonight for another period of daily rain through Wed. 1/18, at least. Over 7" of rain forecast over the next 9 days, with Wed. 1/11 being the wettest at 1.44". Wind gusts up to 43 mph are forecast from 1 AM to 6 AM tonight, meaning probably more trees down., but "only" about .75" of rain through 10 PM Tuesday.
That's the latest that I know of.
Stay warm, dry and safe at home, if you can!
* * *
BOB VANCE UPDATES: We received notification at 11:35 am Monday that 1 is open at the Garcia.
MOUNTAIN VIEW ROAD FATALITY
PG&E HAS INSTALLED several backup generators at the sub-station located at the intersections of Grove Street and Walnut Street.
The generators will provide power to the majority of the City of Fort Bragg California in the event the main transmission line is damaged during the current weather event.
On January 7th, PG&E ran several tests which required these generators to be ran and shut off several times over the course of the day. There are currently no further tests scheduled. This means if the generators do turn on, they are providing power to the city and infrastructure such as the police department, hospital, and water treatment plant.
If operating, those that reside in this area can expect to hear large generators running until power can be restored to the main transmission line.
Thank you for your understanding,
(Fort Bragg City Presser)
LAKE MENDOCINO 103%
WELCOME 2023, STORMS AND ALL
by Anne Fashauer
I’m sitting in my office on Monday morning, the 9th of January, enjoying the electrical power. We have had power through most of the storms but it’s been more off than on for the past 48 hours. It is nothing compared to my friends farther out on Greenwood Ridge, who have been out of power for days.
I can remember being without power a lot as a kid. The Elk side of Greenwood Ridge always gets its power on last, it seems, now, and then. The worst was after the big wind storm we had in the late 1970’s, when we were without power for two weeks. At that time almost everything in the house was electric except for the wood stoves - a small, pot bellied stove in the kitchen and a large wood stove in the living room. We used that as our cook-top when the power was out, heating up soups and stuff slowly as the day wore on. We also had oil lanterns and candles and flash lights. We had a water tank above the house so we could flush toilets when necessary. I do remember as that two week outage dragged on we emptied our freezers and took everything to my aunt and uncle’s down the road who had power so we didn’t lose everything.
Like many folks, we do have a generator, so we can plug in the wood stove in our house and get the blower running so we have heat. I had friends who spent Christmas week in Buffalo without any heat - I don’t think they do wood heat back there as much and I guess people don’t have generators either? We can plug in a few lamps and appliances as necessary, so it’s not terrible. The worst is losing hot water and having to heat water on the stove for washing. We haven’t gone as far as a whole house generator, but I can certainly understand the appeal of one.
We had a good Christmas with our visiting family and rang in the New Year with friends. Overall, the holidays were quite enjoyable this year - my plan to get into the spirit worked. Now the rest of the year looms and January often feels like a let down after all of the festivities of December. To combat this, I’ve signed myself up for a 30/30 challenge with the cycling club in Vancouver a friend hooked me up with. TaG Cycling is a coaching platform as well as a physical training center. They do online and in-person classes and you can also sign up for group rides and personal training. I just use them in the winter months for indoor virtual rides and I think they do a good job. Their 30/30 challenge is to ride every day for 30 days, January 2 through 31, for at least 30 minutes. Every day there is a Zoom ride scheduled and you can join in it at the scheduled time or use a link for the recording for the following 24 hours or you can ride outside or on your own. It gets me moving in the morning, provides exercise and gives me something to look forward to.
I hope you are staying dry, have power or a good work-around, and are also enjoying the New Year.
More photos at: mendocountry.com/annes-blog/2023/1/9/welcome-2023-storms-and-all
AV FIRE CHIEF AVILA reports that the Anderson Valley has been relatively unscathed by the series of recent storms, but with more to come, the Chief and his selfless crew remain on full alert.
THAT TERRIBLE single vehicle rollover on 128 last week near the Elementary School involved long-time Signal Ridge residents, Bill Allen and Nancy McCloud, who had to be extracted from the wreckage with the Jaws of Life apparatus. Nancy suffered minor injuries but Bill remains hospitalized outside the county. The couple’s daughter, Olivia Allen, is at the family home with her mother.
AS SCHOOL RESUMES, it resumes with septic system problems at the Elementary School. Superintendent Simson has ordered up Porta-Potties.
WE’RE FORTUNATE to live in a community with so many angels, one of whom, a modest man who would cringe at the recognition, initials BW, has delivered crucial assistance to a local family in dire need, assistance not readily available from the agencies funded to provide it.
THE EDITOR HAS COVID. It kicked in big time Friday morning, diagnosed and medication obtained the same day. People who visited the ava this past week should get tested. Apologies to you all. And deepest thanks to all of you in the undeterred minority whose good wishes cancel out the much more numerous who would prefer… Last Friday began uneventfully. Did my morning exercise regimen of 350 push-ups in five sets of 70 each, then forty-to-fifty minutes of a double-time walk on AV Way. Out the door for San Anselmo by 9 but on the road south suddenly began to feel weak and woozy, it not occurring to me it could be the onset of the dread covid. By the time I reached marvelous Marin, all I could do is stagger through the door and fall down on my bed, my saintly wife and daughter attending. No appetite, no power, less energy, wicked cough, body aches — the full plague monte. Cordoned off in one of the castle’s rear rooms, saintly wife and daughter leave nourishment at my closed door. I’m enrolled in One Medical, an on-call medical service in lieu of the shuffling old medical man of my youth who would arrive smelling of alcohol and smoking unfiltered Camels. “You’ll be alright, sonny. Just a touch of the flu.” I’ve always preferred him, but here we are in a different, but not better, time. Via One Medical a prescription for something called Paxlovid arrived which, after three sleepless nights, has begun to reverse symptoms enough to prop me back up at my work station, feeling grateful for medical science. I expect to be non-toxic by Friday. Thank you again to all you well-wishers.
ACCESSORY USE DWELLING; SHORT-TERM LEASE
Email if interested in this short-term rental. I am showing it this weekend
This Fort Bragg city limit accessory use dwelling is furnished to work, write, or get away from the city for a few months and live simply.
This studio is rustic with green vibes and great ambiance. French doors overlook your own private fenced yard.
There is a comfortable queen-sized bed, an armoire for clothing and a full bathroom. Great for a single dweller. But sorry, no pets!
Rent is $1000 per month. Utilities include propane for the new Rinnai heater, water and sewer, wifi, garbage pick up and electricity.
The kitchen is stocked with dishes and cutlery. There is a modest set-up with an utility sink, 2 burner restaurant-style hot plate, crock pot, and a medium-sized fridge.
Contact via email if interested in viewing. Thank you!
HELP JOHN MEYER
John Meyer is a young man living in Willits with his family. He owns 20 acres or so, land that he has planned to develop for his family to live and thrive. Sierra Railroad, parent company to the Skunk Train, has sued him to seize his property through a probably illegal eminent domain claim, for their own use for the Willits-FB Skunk Train operation. Meyer his fighting back legally, to defend his property from seizure, but the legal expenses have driven him to the verge of bankruptcy.
His case has bearing on what happens here in Fort Bragg, and Mendocino County, since the same company is attempting to foist their mega-development on our Noyo Headlands. It is important that Meyer not only win his case, but not be driven to the poor house in doing so. He needs public support to continue his fight to keep his property, and set a precedent for what is ethically, and legally, right.
So please, donate as much as you can to his Go Fund Me account to help him with his legal expenses. I personally vouch for the legitimacy of his appeal.
NAVARRO BY THE SEA: 1948 and 2002 (via Jeff Burroughs)
THE ‘THOUSAND YEAR FLOOD’ OF 1964
by Clay McGlaughlin
This December marks the 50th anniversary of the “Thousand Year Flood” in Northern California, which officially began on Dec. 21, 1964 — reaching its peak on Dec. 23 of that year and continued until early January 1965. Striking nine years almost to the day after a 1955 flood that was called “the disaster of the century,” the ’64 flood was caused by a deadly combination of weather events that dumped massive amounts of snow in the mountains, followed by warm rains that melted the snow and inundated local watersheds in a matter of hours.
“Prior to the main storm period, Dec. 19 through 25, minor rain events of November into early December had saturated the ground and increased the flow in the local rivers. In mid-December, a strong high pressure system was located between Hawaii and Alaska. … Around Dec. 19, the high pressure system weakened, allowing follow-on weather systems to move across the Pacific Ocean at successively lower latitudes before turning to the northeast and moving towards the west coast. A storm track 500 miles wide extending from near Hawaii to Oregon and northern California was established,” wrote Reginald Kennedy, service hydrologist at the Eureka station of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service.
“The combination of this very moist warm air, strong west-southwest winds, and orographic lift of the mountain ranges oriented at nearly right angles to the flow of the air resulted in heavy rain from Dec. 21 to 23. Today we use the term ‘Atmospheric River’ to describe this type of weather phenomenon. … A high pressure system built into the area northeast of Hawaii on Dec. 24 and cut off the flow of warm moist air to the west coast. The weather pattern then changed drastically as snow fell in the mountains with rain and hail at the lower elevations and along the coast.”
According to Kennedy’s research, during peak precipitation Whiskeytown Reservoir and Richardson Grove State Park reported more than 11 inches of rain in 24 hours. A total of 15 inches was reported at Ettersburg, 22 inches at Standish-Hickey State Park, and 17 inches at Gasquet.
The flood cut a huge swath of destruction across the North Coast, killing 29, causing millions in damage and cutting off entire communities from the outside world for months.
“I (saw) lots of acts of heroism during that time. Everybody was a hero back then,” said Jerry Hansen, 71, of Grizzly Bluff. His father, dairyman Arnold “Bud” Hansen of Ferndale, was a volunteer spotter on one of the U.S. Coast Guard helicopters commissioned to rescue people stranded in the Eel River bottoms area. The aircraft crashed on Dec. 22 in the stormy darkness after a day of flying people from their flooded homes to safer ground.
“My dad was a hero,” Hansen said in a recent phone interview, “but there were lots of heroes that also survived the ’64 flood. Everybody pitched in.”
Reports from the past
A 1965 report titled “Flood!” by Hugo Fisher and William Warne of the Department of Water Resources describes the event rather poetically: “With quickening pace the rivulets of water stream down the slopes of the mountains of the Coast Range and Sierra to swell into wild angry rivers. Combining forces, these raging torrents surge through the foothill areas and sweep relentlessly into the vulnerable valleys below.”
The California Department of Parks and Recreation described the flood as “the ‘greatest natural disaster’ ever experienced by the Pacific Northwest states. … The Eel, Smith, Klamath, Trinity, Salmon and Mad rivers were all long past flood stage that day and the next. Northern California’s Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, Siskiyou, Trinity and Sonoma counties experienced record water levels for the 20th century. … Floodwaters, laden with jammed logs and houses ripped from their foundations, roared across at least 16 highway bridges, destroying them all and leaving residents isolated for months.”
Kathy Hayes was 12 when the flood struck, stranding her family in a Ferndale Victorian, where they and the neighbors who had come to seek shelter had to continue moving upstairs to avoid the rising waters downstairs.
“It’s funny how people come together in times of need and do extraordinary things,” she wrote to the Times-Standard. “In our case, my family and our neighbors family worked together to round up all the cattle in the area to get them to high ground when the water was rising so that they would at least have a chance at survival. My father (John Miranda) and Mr. George Toste our neighbor took our plywood boat (at great personal risk) out of the shed and braved the rising flood waters to bring his family and his hired hand’s family to our location because they thought it would be safer. All of the food and supplies in our house became community property .. .and while she was still able (before the rising flood water prevented her from cooking) my mother cooked meals for everyone in the house. At that point, we were all just one big family trying to get through an enormously stressful situation.”
Hayes said that after her family was rescued and safely on dry ground, many Fortuna residents, some of whom they didn’t even know, donated clothing and Christmas gifts to her family and others.
“Most of all the selfless volunteerism of everyone from Law Enforcement, Civil Defense, Coast Guard Staff, Red Cross at times of extreme personal risk can’t be stressed enough,” she said. “Those of us that survived owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
Thirty-four counties in California were declared disaster areas, though Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, Siskiyou, Trinity and Sonoma counties suffered more damage than all the others put together. Flooding occurred from Yosemite Valley in the south to Nevada in the east and Washington in the north. Every river in Oregon hit flood stage as the deluge gained strength.
By Dec. 23, the water level had risen 46 feet higher than usual in Miranda, completely engulfing the village. The towns of Crescent City, Fernbridge, Holmes, Klamath, Myers Flat, Orleans, Paradise, Pepperwood, Redcrest, Scotia, Shively, South Fork, Stafford, Ti-Bar and Weott all suffered major damage, and several were never rebuilt.
Estimates of the financial losses on the North Coast topped $175 million.
As the waters slowly receded, they left “complete havoc” in their wake, according to Fisher and Warne.
“On many swollen streams in the North Coast, walls of water tore down highway and railroad bridges, overturned autos, smashed houses and farm buildings, and swept away entire villages. … Virtually the whole region from Scotia to Crescent City was isolated as the rampaging Eel, Mad and Klamath rivers and Redwood Creek made U.S. Route 101 impassable.”
They write that “(a)s the grim task of cleaning up the flood-stricken areas started, the death toll began to rise. Rescue workers used helicopters to probe the slowly receding rivers for victims and survivors. Hundreds of persons had been stranded for days without food or shelter in the flood-isolated valleys and foothills of the Eel River Canyon. Fog, rain, snow, and winds frustrated rescue efforts for areas which could be reached only by air and prolonged the misery of flood damage. As rescue operations swung into full scale, another storm whipped into Northern California with rains, snow, and hurricane gusts of wind. Rising rivers again forced an estimated 1,300 persons to flee for the second time. … Finally, on Jan. 6, residents of the northwest area were able to relax a moment to look back — and ahead — as the rivers began to fall and the weather forecast for only scattered showers diminished the threat of renewed floods.”
In the aftermath of the flood, the Humboldt Beacon reported a death toll of 29 people, with almost 1,700 injured. At least 4,784 homes, 374 businesses and 800 farm buildings were destroyed, according to compiled reports from the Statewide Flood Management Planning Program. About 80 percent of the county road systems sustained major damage, further complicating recovery efforts.
“Because of lack of transportation for logs and cut lumber, 4,000 workers are without jobs, and an additional 8,000 workers will be affected as more than half the lumber mills face closure. … Also hard hit was the dairy and livestock industry. Five thousand head of livestock were lost, thirty-five hundred of which were cows and calves. Pasture land was awash with mud and debris. Providing feed for the surviving cattle was a major problem, and sixty tons of hay and grain were flown to the area for the starving cattle,” the authors of “Flood!” wrote.
Catherine Mace, vice president of the Humboldt County Historical Society was a young mother living with her husband in Eugene, Ore., when the flood hit. Her grandparents were hosting a family reunion for Christmas 1964 but it wasn’t until around New Year’s that she was able to get south and see what happened in Humboldt County
“While the flood was huge here, it covered Oregon as well. You could not get north or south from Eugene on I-5,” she said. “When that started to recede and the airport became usable again, because it’d had water on it, then my grandfather took pity on us poor young ‘uns who were supposed to come down here. … We were having a family reunion. In time for New Years, it finally opened up where he (her grandfather) could drive up to Blue Lake, back on the North Bank Road and up to the airport to pick up us, so he got an airplane ticket and we flew into Eureka for the flood. It was amazing to see the logs on the beaches. There was water everywhere. When we flew into McKinleyville. It was absolutely wild looking … It was impressive when we got around here, the amount of logs, lumber and other stuff all over the beaches.
(Catherine said she heard more about the flood from her grandparents once she got to Humboldt County. She said:) They had checked with all of the relatives because my grandmother’s youngest brother was in Rio Dell and they were OK, but they were stuck. Another brother lived in Ferndale, he was the owner/editor of the Ferndale Enterprise, and he had taken a lot of pictures and written a lot of stuff (about the flood). Wendy, his niece, was going to school down in the Bay Area somewhere and she knew she couldn’t come home because the roads were closed. When it really hit, he sent a telegram to her saying, ‘Stay there, all is lost’ or something along those lines.
According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, “Tree-ring reconstruction in the Central Valley and sedimentary core sampling in the Santa Barbara Basin show cyclical evidence of severe droughts followed by ‘megafloods’ in California about every 200 years. The scientists studying these patterns link flooding to the 208-year Suess Cycle of solar activity; some think that we may expect another lengthy and costly flood in the first half of this century.” Even if future events don’t match the magnitude of the 1964 flood for another 1,000 years, lesser events still have the capacity for tremendous damage.
The Statewide Flood Management Planning Program estimates that “(t)oday, more than 7 million Californians, or one in five, live in the 500-year floodplain, and approximately $580 billion in assets (crops, structures, and public infrastructure) are exposed to flooding. This estimate does not include the impacts of future development, population changes, climate change, or costs due to loss of major infrastructure and critical facilities, as well as losses to State commerce.”
Fortunately, improvements in technology should give current residents more warning when flood conditions develop in the future. “Since the Flood of 1964, there have been improvements in technology, atmospheric and hydrologic models, and communication capabilities. Weather satellites, still experimental in 1964, have significantly improved weather forecasts. There have been significant improvements in imagery quality and sensor capabilities. Over the past 50 years the improvements made in the atmospheric and hydrological models has increased the skill of these models,” Kennedy wrote. “Though a flood similar to 1964 can occur again, the result of improved technology will provide more time for planning and taking necessary actions to mitigate the impacts from damaging floods.”
The full “Flood!” report from Fisher and Warne is available at http://tinyurl.com/18r.
BURN THE WAGON: Skyhawk Radio, Thursday 7pm
Please join host Chris Skyhawk for Universal Perspectives on KZYX on Thursday, Jan.12 at 7pm, he will be continuing the series: Late Stage Capitalism: What’s next? His guest will be Juan Red Hawk Dominguez; Juan has a podcast called: Burn the wagon, which highlights numerous Indigenous voices, in an attempt too burn the wagon of patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.
KZYX signal is 90.7/91.5fm and on the web at KZYX.org
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, January 9, 2023
TRINITY AMADOR, Willits. Under influence.
CRISTOBAL CUESTA-CASTRO, Covelo. Failure to appear.
JEREMY DALEY, Yucaipa/Willits. Appropriation of lost property, controlled substance, paraphernalia, criminal threats.
RITA LAVENDUSKY, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
JAKE LEWIS-KODY, Ukiah. Petty theft, paraphernalia, resisting.
PABLO MORA, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
AUSTIN SCHWEITZER, Lakeport/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen vehicle, reckless evasion.
ELIZABETH VALLEY, Hopland. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
READY TO MOVE ON
Seeking Others for Spiritually Sourced Direct Action
Following a delicious free meal at Plowshares in Ukiah, California, waited 45 minutes for the bus which did not show up; the schedule must have changed. Walked to the center of the Mendocino county seat, non-attached to anything at all. The body moves, and the mind has random thoughts attempting to make some sense out of the situation. But Brahman, the eternal witness, is silent. A mysterious force replaces the ordinary condition of the harried, cartoon-like postmodern individual. Realizing this is key to destroying the demonic and returning this world to righteousness. Am ready to roll out of haiku-spelled-backwards…am seeking others for spiritually sourced direct action.
Craig Louis Stehr
THE BIBLE, THE WHALE, AND RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
by Jonah Raskin
Looking for a story to read at the start of 2023? Let me suggest the Book of Jonah, which is short and pithy and that can be interpreted in many different ways. It has helped me enormously over the course of my lifetime.
For the last year or so I’ve been writing my memoir, which I am calling “Inside the Whale.” It’s a follow-up to Out of the Whale published in 1974, soon after I turned 30 and wrongly assumed that my life was over. Also by 1974, it was clear that the Sixties, that wild era that swept across bedrooms, streets, suites and auditoriums like the Fillmore West and the Fillmore East, had come to a conclusion. I didn’t want it to end. Doris Lessing, the British novelist who declined to be an icon for the women’s liberation movement, had told me in 1969, “You know this can’t go on much longer. It’s a rare time in human history.”
At first, I thought I’d begin my new memoir, Inside the Whale, with the sentence, “Call me Jonah.” But then I remembered that Kurt Vonnegut — whom I met in person a few times in California and New York — beat me to the punch. Lessing had introduced me to Vonnegut’s fiction. The whole time I interviewed Vonnegut in New York, he smoked cigarettes on the steps outside his apartment and later sitting at his kitchen table. “I’m committing slow suicide,” he told me. Each to his own personal version of the apocalypse, I thought.
“Call me Jonah” are the three words that Vonnegut uses to begin Cat’s Cradle, published in 1962. The novel introduced me, his fans and followers to the concept of the Karass, a tribe of like minded individuals, and to “Ice-9,“ the ultimate weapon which can freeze water instantly and lead to the end of life on earth. 1962 was a grand year for the apocalypse. Murderous Soviet missiles were pointed at Yankee America.
In the Sixties, many of us hovered between the apocalypse, which would isolate and destroy us, and the Utopian tribe which would connect us and save us. Apocalypse looms as large now as it did when Cat’s Cradle was first published, though in 1962 the world really teetered on the brink of nuclear disaster. Now we have 21st century disasters on the horizon. My college roommates and I at Columbia in New York were afraid we were doomed to die before we put on black robes and graduated.
In fact, my name had doomed me from birth and long before the nerve-racking Cuban missile crisis. A fourth grade school teacher told me, “I’m so sorry your parents named you Jonah.” From her point of view, the Biblical Jonah brought bad luck to the sailors on a ship bound for Tarvish. To save themselves they had to toss him into angry waters. Good riddance. All Jonahs were bad luck, that teacher insisted.
She didn’t know or didn’t remember that the Book of Jonah is often read on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, perhaps the most solemn day on the Jewish Calendar. Perhaps she was so fixated on the New Testament that she didn’t realize that Jonah is an Old Testament prophet. Maybe she hadn’t actually read the Book of Jonah, but only heard about it and didn’t understand that the Biblical Jonah is a divine messenger and a compelling storyteller who describes his own journey, which takes away from his destination and toward his destination, and by land and by sea.
He says: “The engulfing waters threatened me/the deep surrounded me;/seaweed was wrapped around my head./ To the roots of the mountains I sank down;/the earth beneath barred me in forever./But you, Lord my God,/ brought my life up from the pit.” In a way, he’s a Zen Buddhist who comes to accept the unacceptable, and also a Beat poet who discovers that the way to beatitude is first to descend into darkness and discover solitude. A kind of universal everyman and a shapeshifter, Jonah is also a survivor.
It’s not surprising that in The Invention of Solitude, his autobiographical meditation, Paul Auster, the Jewish fiction and non-fiction writer, explores at length the Book of Jonah, which he connects to the story of Pinocchio. In The Invention of Solitude, Auster describes the adventures of a sentient wooden puppet who becomes a real boy, and to Gepetto, the artisan who creates him. Like Jonah, Pinocchio lives inside an underwater creature, though he’s not alone. Rather, he joins the company of Gepetto and liberates him. Carlo Collodi, the pen name of the Italian writer, Carlo Lorenzini, who created the puppet and Gepetto, longed for the liberation of Italy from oppression. His puppet hero is political.
Auster suggests that sending Jonah to Nineveh would be analogous to “a Jew being told to enter Germany during the Second World War and preach against Nationalist Socialists.” Ouch. I don’t know of any American Jews who returned to Germany where they were born and raised and who then railed against Hitler.
But I have known several German-born Jews who escaped from Germany and came to the US where they volunteered to serve in the military and were promptly dispatched to the country of their birth. They could speak and read and write German and they provided essential help to the Allied war effort. I think of those German-born Jews as Jonahs.
Auster reads The Book of Jonah as a moral tale. Almost everyone who writes about it does that. “If there is to be any justice at all, it must be a justice for everyone,” Auster writes. “No one can be excluded, or else there is no such thing as justice.” That sounds very 60ish. Near the thick of his interpretation of Pinocchio, Auster writes,” it is only in the darkness of solitude that the work of memory begins.” Perhaps so, though that sounds more like Isaac Bashevis Singer than any Sixties luminary.
When one lives in the darkness of solitude, as I have lived, it can feel impossible to begin to remember. In my solitude, I could not retrieve my past or envision a future and so I felt trapped in the present. Therapy and meds, which were unavailable to the Biblical Jonah, pulled me out of my misery. So did meditation and yoga and my own spirituality.
Like Paul Auster, I have read, reread and pondered the Book of Jonah, though I am not a Biblical scholar and don’t know Hebrew. Still, the book has felt like a mirror and Jonah my destiny. My aunt Lily, who was born in Czarist Russia and who came to the US with her parents, read the Book of Jonah to me when I was a boy, and the Book of Daniel to my brother Daniel.
I have come to regard the Prophet Jonah as one of the Bible’s iconic outsiders who apparently has no family, no friends and no community. If he does have a family, friends and a community that information isn’t included in the Old Testament. He’s an outcast among the sailors on the ship bound for Tar shish who toss him overboard, and an outcast and an outsider for the three days and three nights inside the whale, aka a leviathan.
Outside the walls of the ancient city of Nineveh, he’s also alone, which is how Rembrandt sketched him in 1655, outside of the walls of the city solitary and in prayer. In 1621, Pieter Lastman, also a Dutch artist, depicted Jonah and the Whale in a surreal and colorful painting. In 1866, the French artist Gustave Doré sketched Jonah preaching to the Ninevites. Through the ages, the prophet hasn’t lost his popular appeal. In fact, he’s probably more popular now than ever before with at least half-a-dozen picture books for kids in English and Hebrew.
J. R. R. Tolkien translated it from Hebrew to English. Others have turned Jonah into an early Christian. Tolkien himself sermonized in a New Testament way: “The real point is that God is much more merciful than ‘prophets,’ is easily moved by penitence, and won’t be dictated to even by high ecclesiastics whom he has himself appointed.”
In the Bible story, when the Nineveh citizens repent and God saves them, Jonah is alone once more, and alone again when a worm eats the root of the bush that provides shade. It withers and dies. Perhaps Jonah isn’t alone at all. After all, he communicates with God and God with him, Like Ishmael in Moby-Dick, the book in which Father Mapple, an ex-whaler, gives a sermon on Jonah, Jonah is a quintessential loner, a fugitive and a survivor.
“As sinful men,” Father Mapple says, “it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah.” Mapple adds, "As with all sinners among men, the sin of this son of Amittai was in his willful disobedience of the command of God--never mind now what that command was, or how conveyed--which he found a hard command.”
He concludes “Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appall! Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness! Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonour! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation! Yea, woe to him who, as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway!"
The most difficult part of Father Mapple’s sermon is this: “if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves.” That’s what some psychotherapists today call “radical acceptance.”
It’s very challenging indeed to do that. I wonder if George Orwell succeeded in disobeying himself. In his long essay titled “Inside the Whale” he tells his readers, “Give yourself over to the world-process, stop fighting against it or pretending that you control it; simply accept it, endure it, record it. That seems to be the formula that "any sensitive novelist is now likely to adopt.” Orwell accepted the formula until he didn’t. In 1936 he went to Spain, a kind of Nineveh. He didn’t accept it but rather fought fascism and the communist emissaries of Stalin, too. That’s what Jonahs do. They go where they don’t really want to go, but know they have to go. What are you waiting for? Just go.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Today, no eggs whatsoever in the supermarket. Instead, a sign announcing “Supply chain issues.”
It was the same deal last week.
Fortunately on my way back from Town X on a fruitless mission to get the 4G flip phone that Verizon owes me, I remembered that I would be passing a spot where they sell eggs from a fridge in the backyard for $7/dozen. They still had two cartons.
My niece-in-law is convinced that a coyote has been ‘poaching” her flock. So, no eggs there.
Yahoo says this:
“If you’ve had trouble finding eggs at your local grocery store, you’re not alone. Stores around the nation are experiencing a shortage, and have for some time. The primary reason is a spreading avian flu, reducing poultry flocks while driving up the price of eggs. In Colorado alone, some 6 million chickens have been euthanized.”
Wow. Did all of those chickens really need to be killed? What happened to the corpses? Is this another plandemic to deprive us of real food?
HOW THE NFL PLAYED ITS FINAL WEEKEND WITH DAMAR HAMLIN ON EVERYONE’S MIND
by Ann Killion
Players and coaches on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals wore black shirts in warm-ups: the words Love for Damar, surrounding the number 3. The No. 3 on the 30-yard line at each end of the Levi’s Stadium field was outlined. The big screens before the game asked the crowd to applaud to support fallen Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin and for first responders.
Then the game kicked off. The players ran into each other at astonishingly high speeds. The blue medical tent on either sideline went up and down, as players went in and out.
Life in the NFL went on.
“It was something that was on my mind,” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. “When you see something like that, how horrific that moment was, it does put things in perspective. But you know you can’t go out there and play this game timid. If you do, that’s usually when bad things happen.
“It gave me an informed perspective. And allowed me to feel even more blessed to play this game.”
The 49ers played their final regular-season game Sunday and won for the 10th straight time, defeating the decimated Cardinals 38-13. The 49ers achieved their biggest goal of the game, which was — despite the activity of the blue tent — not having a bad injury day.
The 49ers will head into the playoffs relatively healthy. And like the rest of the NFL, with a sobering memory of Hamlin having his life saved on the football field last Monday night. As Warner said, the NFL now has an informed — gut-wrenchingly so — perspective.
It was an emotional final weekend all over the NFL, but nowhere more than suburban Buffalo. Emotions ran high there before the Bills-Patriots game in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills did a video tribute to Hamlin and honored their medical staff, which saved Hamlin’s life.
Then, on the team’s first play since Monday night’s game was stopped in the first quarter when Hamlin collapsed, Nyheim Hines returned the kickoff for a touchdown.
“That kickoff return was incredible,” said 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk. “It just seems like fate.
“I saw it in pregame on my phone and, honestly, it just lifted me up. It gave me motivation going out there.”
It was incredible. In a storybook kind of way.
“You could see the emotion,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, still wearing his “Love for Damar” shirt. “That opening kickoff was a special moment. For the league and for everyone to see. For just humans in general.”
The NFL, undeniably, can offer up these profound, uplifting human moments. What happened in Buffalo reminded me of the first game at the Louisiana Superdome after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In September 2006, Steve Gleason blocked a punt 90 seconds in to give the New Orleans Saints a lead in the building that had become synonymous with the town’s destruction.
It’s one of the reasons we are always drawn to the NFL, despite its toll on human bodies. (Gleason has been battling ALS for over a decade, a disease that NFL athletes have a four times greater chance to develop and die from than the average.) Despite the corporate machinations and the disposable human work force and the league hypocrisy and its cover-our-ass mentality.
The NFL pulls us together in a communal way like nothing else in our fractured society. And in the aftermath of one of the worst moments in league history, we saw a lot of the best it can offer.
We saw the torment of players in the moment and the love and caring between them in the aftermath. We saw the head coaches with their humanity laid bare; the Bills’ Sean McDermott told his Bengals counterpart Zac Taylor, “I need to be at the hospital with Damar. I shouldn’t be coaching this game.”
We saw the outpouring of concern around the country, pouring into a fund for toys that Hamlin started as a Pitt undergrad with the modest goal of $2,500. The fund — which we can assume will now also be used to help in Hamlin’s recovery — is now over $8.5 million, much of it in $20 and $50 donations. People wanted some way to show they care.
The NFL and its players have the ability to connect and inspire us. But, too often, the league seems to think it can fix the world with an (officially licensed) T-shirt or a slogan. Like stenciling “End Racism” in an end zone.
Roger Goodell, the commissioner who makes $64 million a year, has been largely absent during this emotionally fraught week. On Saturday, by which time the world was aware that Hamlin was responding to his family and that doctors were optimistic about his prognosis, Goodell posted a letter to the fans, in which he said the entire incident was “yet another reminder that football is family: human, loving and resilient.”
But Goodell has been mostly invisible. Even President Biden made it to the hospital in Cincinnati — where he had a previously scheduled trip — to lend support to Hamlin’s family.
Besides offering up T-shirts, every team in the league should have taken an onfield moment to honor their medical staff and the low-paid EMTs who are in the building ready to jump into action if their services are needed. The largely unseen but vital cogs of this violent machine.
Hamlin knows who the heroes are. He (and we assume his family and agent) created a shirt with the image of two hands making a heart and the words “Did we win?” That was Hamlin’s first communication when he regained consciousness.
His doctors told him that yes, indeed, he had won. He had won the game of life.
On Sunday, Hamlin tweeted an image of the T-shirt with this message: “We all won. I want to give back an ounce of the love y’all showed me. Proceeds of this shirt will go to first responders and the UC Trauma Center.”
He wasn’t the only one with the right perspective. After scoring a touchdown, Hamlin’s teammate John Brown came to the sideline and handed the ball to Denny Kellington, the assistant athletic trainer who performed CPR on Hamlin and restored his heartbeat.
Life in the NFL went on. As it always does.
FOOTBALL IS DEADLY, BUT NOT FOR THE REASONS YOU THINK
by Chris Nowinski
When Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during the N.F.L. “Monday Night Football” game earlier this week, it felt like the world stopped — both on the field, where emergency medical teams rushed into action and fellow players looked on in shock, and on televisions in millions of homes, where fans tried to make sense of what they had just witnessed in real time.
Just moments earlier the second-year Buffalo Bills safety had made a tackle on the Cincinnati Bengals’ Tee Higgins, causing his chest to collide violently with Higgins’ helmet. Cardiologists have speculated that the impact may have triggered commotio cordis, a rare condition that can occur when the chest wall is impacted during a narrow, vulnerable moment in the heartbeat cycle, which can knock the heart out of rhythm. Hamlin has made remarkable progress, but the condition can be fatal.
The episode has focused international attention on the physical dangers of football, with many parents wondering anew if they should allow their children to play and some fans questioning whether it’s ethical to support the sport at all.
As a former college football player and neuroscientist who has advocated better protections for athletes for the last 20 years, I am encouraged by the outpouring of support for Mr. Hamlin, a talented player and a role model, and for his family.
But as alarming as his injury was, the terrifying incident carries a secondary risk: It is focusing attention on a single, dramatic outlier rather than the chronic medical conditions that pose by far the greatest danger to players.
According to the National Commotio Cordis Registry, there are an estimated 15 to 20 cases per year nationwide, usually in sports like baseball or hockey when a fast-moving projectile connects with an unprotected chest. In football, where players wear lots of padding, an event like this is so rare at the N.F.L. level that it probably won’t occur again in our lifetimes. Meanwhile, chronic heart disease and the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries have robbed countless players of their health, their happiness, and even their lives, but do not receive the same medical or cultural attention because they happen away from the cameras.
Hours before the Monday night game, I learned that former N.F.L. offensive lineman Uche Nwaneri, who started 92 games at guard and center for the Jacksonville Jaguars, had died from a heart attack at the age of 38. Uche and I had been messaging on Twitter about our shared concerns about concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.). He had struggled to find his next passion after retiring, but had recently gained a dedicated following on YouTube commenting on football and pop culture, calling himself the Observant Lineman. He is survived by his wife Michele and two young daughters.
Young former N.F.L. players, mostly linemen, die from heart attacks or heart disease nearly every year. In addition to Uche, Shane Olivea died in March at age 40. Max Tuerk, age 26, died in 2020. Taylor Whitley, age 38, 2018. Jeremy Nunley, age 46, 2018. Nate Hobgood-Chittick, age 42, 2017. Rodrick Monroe, age 40, 2017. Ron Brace, age 29, 2016. Quentin Groves, 32, 2016. Damion Cook, 36, 2015. According to a 2019 study from Harvard University, N.F.L. players are 2.5 times more likely to have cardiovascular diseases listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death than Major League Baseball players.
Scientists believe N.F.L. players are at greater risk of heart disease because of the weight they gain, even when it is mostly muscle. Once players retire, it’s extremely difficult to lose the football weight, partially due to chronic pain from injuries suffered playing. (N.F.L. players ages 25 to 39 have about three times the rate of arthritis than the general public.) These men’s untimely deaths were a tragedy to their loved ones, friends, and former teammates, but the public was largely unaware.
Neurological disorders are also uncomfortably common among former N.F.L. players. Uche had recently invited me on his podcast. We planned to discuss how football players should interpret data from the Boston University’s C.T.E. Center study showing that around 90 percent of the more than 300 N.F.L. players they have studied since 2008 have had C.T.E., a neurodegenerative disease that is linked with the development of dementia and is caused in part by repeated traumatic brain injuries. While it is unlikely that those 300 N.F.L. players studied are representative of the total N.F.L. population, a separate analysis has suggested the minimum prevalence in N.F.L. players is 10 percent, more than 10 times what it is in the general population. Uche wanted his brain tested for C.T.E. upon his death, and his family is following through on his request.
Neurological damage from repeated head trauma may be behind the findings that N.F.L. players are three times more likely to die of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and 3.5 times more likely to die of Parkinson’s disease than Major League Baseball players. Death certificates tend to undercount dementia, but a survey published last year found that N.F.L. players in their 50s are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than the general population.
The risks N.F.L. players incur are not limited to their years on professional teams. C.T.E. risk is partially determined by the length of a player’s career — the longer one plays football, the more head impacts and traumatic brain injuries they are likely to suffer, the greater their risk. Therefore, this risk is also shared by college football players, high school, and even youth players, all of whom are exposed to the risk, the vast majority without any financial upside — and in the case of children, without informed consent.
I hope the football safety conversation that Damar Hamlin has inspired makes the game safer for young players who consider him a hero and want to follow in his footsteps. I also hope the public will focus on what we can influence, including how we manage risk factors for heart disease and when we introduce our children to tackle football. According to a study by the C.D.C., youth tackle football players average 389 head impacts a season. Perhaps we should Stop Hitting Kids in the Head and push for only flag football before high school. And perhaps those who profit off the sport should start to live up to their responsibility. The N.F.L. requires on average 30 medical professionals at each game. But while the risks do not end on the field, the medical care often does.
Damar Hamlin deserves every ounce of our attention, support and respect after putting himself at risk for our entertainment. Let’s keep talking about him, his family, his teammates, his city and the fans that have rallied behind him, and all the positives that he has inspired and represents, including the preciousness of life — even the parts of it that are not captured on camera.
(Chris Nowinski is a behavioral neuroscientist and founding C.E.O. of the nonprofit organization Concussion Legacy Foundation. An All-Ivy defensive lineman at Harvard University, he joined WWE, but his professional wrestling career was cut short by concussions.)
CONSPIRACY THEORISTS ARE MISSING THE REAL SCANDAL OF ABUSED POWER
by Patrick Cockburn
On 1 October 1963, the CIA station in Mexico City intercepted a phone call to the Soviet Embassy. Speaking in broken Russian, the caller said his name was Oswald and asked if there was any reply to his request for a Soviet visa made in person a few days earlier. After consulting a colleague, the guard on duty said that no reply had been received.
The CIA memo about the call is part of a vast trove of previously classified US government documents relating to the assassination of President Kennedy, made public just before Christmas in the teeth of objections from the CIA and the FBI.
In the case of Lee Harvey Oswald’s phone call, made seven weeks before he shot JFK dead, from the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, one likely reason for CIA secrecy is clear.
The JFK assassination
The CIA memo, written after the JFK assassination on 22 November, says that “this piece of information was produced from a telephone tap centre which we operate jointly with the office of the President of Mexico. It is highly secret and not known to Mexican security and law enforcement”.
Other secrets are more unsavoury, such as a plot to stage a false flag attack on the US naval base at Guantanamo harbour in Cuba. “We could blow up a ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” thereby providing an excuse for invading the island, reads a memo from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The enormous cache of 13,173 documents does not throw much fresh light on the assassination, either confirming or refuting the multitude of conspiracy theories doubting that Oswald acted alone and alleging he was an actor in a wider conspiracy. But what the documents, many of them previously released but in a redacted form, do do is to paint a fascinating picture of the nefarious activities of the US government that it was still eager to keep secret six decades later.
The justification for secrecy is invariably governmental concern that national security will be compromised, but the reality is fear that lies, dirty dealings, failures and blunders will be exposed. One memo says the US might “arrange for caches of limited Soviet-Czech arms to be ‘discovered’ in selected Latin American countries, ostensibly smuggled in from Cuba”.
Not very nice, of course, yet concealing these discreditable but ageing secrets is scarcely an adequate explanation for governmental secrecy. A more powerful motive may be the determination of state institutions to preserve their status as the keepers of the nation’s secrets, which are given mythological significance – even though most of them can be easily guessed by any reasonably well-informed person. Anything damaging this mystique must be avoided, eliminated or hidden from public view.
This explains the US government’s obsessive secrecy over material relating to Oswald and JFK in the 1960s and its similar obsession 50 years later to punish WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for releasing a trove of classified but not very secret government cables.
An angry letter
The recent releases by the US National Archive show the CIA, FBI and other agencies panicking as the news of the JFK assassination came through. They were all eager to show that they had Oswald on their radar, but had not done anything that might have motivated him to kill JFK. The FBI had routinely assigned an agent to monitor Oswald as a former defector to the Soviet Union, who had tried to interview Oswald’s wife. Oswald had then written an angry letter to the agent which the FBI later destroyed to hide it from the Warren Commission, appointed by President Johnson to investigate the assassination and which concluded that Oswald had acted alone.
I have always believed that the Warren Commission’s conclusions were correct and the conspiracy theorists are deceiving themselves and others by doubting them. The assassin who succeeds is usually one who acts alone and is prepared to die in order to achieve their aim. Any wider conspiracy is likely to be detected by the security forces because somebody will be indiscreet, insufficiently fanatical, or an informer. Conspiracy theorists often imagine a large conspiratorial organisation but this could not, in the nature of things, exist if it wanted to stay hidden and carry out its mission.
Although those who see conspiracies on every side from Pearl Harbour to 9/11habitually discredit their own theories by partisan selection of dubious evidence, real plots and conspiracies do exist. For instance, I arrived in Russia as a foreign correspondent in 1999 soon after four mysterious bombings of apartment blocks had killed 307 and injured about 1,000 people, sending a wave of terror across the country. Chechens were blamed for the attacks, much though they were to the advantage of Vladimir Putin who promptly began the Second Chechen War and took over as Russian leader from Boris Yeltsin a few months later.
Along with many Russians, I assumed from early on the Kremlin was behind the bombings, but I was convinced that whoever ordered them would have ensured that they would escape detection by acting at several removes from those, probably Chechen guns for hire, who had carried out the attacks.
The problem with conspiracy theorists is they assume conspirators are deeply evil and devious, but also naïve and simple-minded in hiding their tracks. It is these tracks that our theorist then identifies and which lead inexorably to the guilty parties.
Pundits frequently claim that our present era is peculiarly prone to conspiracy theories promoted by social media and by internet platforms. I doubt if we are seeing anything very new: our 17th century ancestors found no difficulty in believing in the Popish Plot without reading about it online.
The Catiline conspiracy
Demonising political enemies as plotters is an age-old and effective tactic. Historians still debate the reality of the Catiline Conspiracy in Rome in 63BC which Cicero claimed to have thwarted and saved the Republic. Many alleged conspirators were executed without trial, preventing any debate about the evidence against them.
A harmful consequence of conspiracy theories is that they lead people to ignore rational explanations. It has always appeared self-evident to me that Oswald was a left-wing supporter of Fidel Castro who killed JFK because his administration was attempting to overthrow the Cuban government – attempts amply documented by the latest batch of documents.
Fast forward half a century and Hillary Clinton blamed her defeat by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election on a conspiracy by Putin and the Kremlin. But reading any account of her dysfunctional election campaign makes clear that its failure was largely her own fault.
Sufficient attention is seldom given to one simple but compelling reason why people promote their conspiracy theories in books and news outlets, which is that they can make a lot of money out of doing so.
THEY DON'T JUST CALL DEMOCRATS "communists" and "Marxists" in order to attack Democrats, they do it to disappear the entire giant expanse of political spectrum that exists to the left of the capitalist imperialist Democratic Party. They want you to think that's as far left as it gets.
Democrats refer to themselves as "the left" for the same reason. Both mainstream factions work to shrink the Overton window into a tug-o-war between Republican capitalist imperialists and Democrat capitalist imperialists. Between two opposing factions of neoliberal neocons.
— Caitlin Johnstone
ARE THE NEW CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVES REAL?
by Ralph Nader
What follows is an encore for a column I wrote in 2018 for the new progressive Democrats elected to the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party won control of the House in 2018, and again barely in 2020. There was no response nor adoption of any of these power-enhancing suggestions from any of the novice legislators in those two election cycles.
I am now sending to the entering class of 2022 these helpful tools to strengthen both their efforts and those of the citizen groups in the halls of Congress.
The rapidity with which the Democratic Party’s political cocoon wraps itself around newly elected legislators, who arrive in Washington determined to change the culture and output of our premier branch of government, is beyond astonishing. Unlike the red-line-drawing so-called “Freedom-Caucus” among the House Republicans, who topple their leadership, or at least are power factors, the Democrats toe the line and surrender to their dictatorial leadership.
Until the quieted progressives form their own voting bloc, the national citizen groups will remain as powerless as the dominant corporate Democrats in Congress want them to be.
We shall soon know who, if any, of the progressives in the class of 2022 are serious about their pre-swearing-in determinations and strive to measure up to the yardsticks for empowerment.
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
In November, about 25 progressive Democrats were newly elected to the House of Representatives. How do the citizen groups know whether they are for real or for rhetoric? I suggest this civic yardstick to measure the determination and effectiveness of these members of the House both inside the sprawling, secretive, repressive Congress and back home in their Districts. True progressives must:
1. Vigorously confront all the devious ways that Congressional bosses have developed to obstruct the orderly, open, accessible avenues for duly elected progressive candidates to be heard and to participate in Congressional deliberations from the subcommittees to the committees to the floor of the House. Otherwise, the constricting Congressional cocoon will quickly envelop and smother their collective energies and force them to get along by going along.
2. Organize themselves into an effective Caucus (unlike the anemic Progressive Caucus). They will need to constantly be in touch with each other and work to democratize Congress and substantially increase the quality and quantity of its legislative/oversight output.
3. Connect with the national citizen organizations that have backers all around the country and knowledgeable staff who can help shape policy and mobilize citizen support. This is crucial to backstop the major initiatives these newbies say they want to advance. Incumbent progressives operate largely on their own and too rarely sponsor civic meetings on Capitol Hill to solicit ideas from civic groups. Incumbent progressives in both the House and the Senate do not like to be pressed beyond their comfort zone to issue public statements, to introduce tough new bills, or even to conduct or demand public hearings.
4. Develop an empowerment agenda that shifts power from the few to the many – from the plutocrats and corporatists to consumers, workers, patients, small taxpayers, voters, community groups, the wrongfully injured, shareholders, consumer cooperatives, and trade unions. Shift-of-power facilities and rights/remedies cost very little to enact because their implementation is in the direct hands of those empowered – to organize, to advocate, to litigate, to negotiate, and to become self-reliant for food, shelter and services (Citizen Utility Boards provide an example of what can come from empowering citizens).
5. Encourage citizens back home to have their own town meetings, some of which the new lawmakers would attend. Imagine the benefits of using town meetings to jump-start an empowerment agenda and to promote long overdue advances such as a living wage, universal health care, corporate crime enforcement, accountable government writ large, renewable energy, and real tax reform.
6. Regularly publicize the horrendously cruel and wasteful Republican votes. This seems obvious but, amazingly, it isn’t something Democratic leaders are inclined to do. Last June, I urged senior Democrats in the House to publicize a list of the most anti-people, pro-Wall Street, and pro-war legislation that the Republicans, often without any hearings, rammed through the House. The senior Democrats never did this, even though the cruel GOP votes (against children, women, health, safety, access to justice, etc.) would be opposed by more than 3 out of 4 voters.
7. Disclose attempts by pro-corporate, anti-democratic, or anti-human rights and other corrosive lobbies that try to use campaign money or political pressure to advance the interests of the few to the detriment of the many. Doing this publicly will deter lobbies from even trying to twist their arms.
8. Refuse PAC donations and keep building a base of small donations as Bernie Sanders did in 2016. This will relieve new members of receiving undue demands for reciprocity and unseemly attendance at corrupt PAC parties in Washington, DC.
9. Seek, whenever possible, to build left/right coalitions on specific major issues in Congress and back home that can become politically unstoppable.
10. Demand wider access to members of Congress by the citizenry. Too few citizen leaders are being allowed to testify at fewer Congressional hearings. Holding hearings is a key way to inform and galvanize public opinion. Citizen group participation in hearings has led to saving millions of lives and preventing countless injuries over the decades. Authentic Congressional hearings lead to media coverage and help to mobilize the citizenry.
Adopting these suggestions will liberate new members to challenge the taboos entrenched in Congress regarding the corporate crime wave, military budgets, foreign policy, massive corporate welfare giveaways and crony capitalism.
The sovereign power of the people has been excessively delegated to 535 members of Congress. The citizens need to inform and mobilize themselves and hold on to the reins of such sovereign power for a better society. Demanding that Congress uphold its constitutional obligations and not surrender its power to the war-prone, lawless Presidency will resonate with the people.
Measuring up to these civic yardsticks is important for the new members of the House of Representatives and for our democracy. See how they score in the coming months. Urge them to forward these markers of a democratic legislature to the rest of the members of Congress, most of whom are in a rut of comfortable incumbency.
ON MSNBC AND "AUTHORITARIANISM"
by Matt Taibbi
MSNBC opinion columnist Zeesham Aleem just penned the latest in what’s become a parade of hit pieces from mainstream outlets directed at me and other independent journalists. Even by the low standards of the genre, “How the populist left has become vulnerable to the populist right” is a humorous standout. It argues that after I spent a month detailing how the FBI, DHS, DOD, CIA and other agencies built a system for mass delivery of censorship requests to firms like Twitter and Facebook, I helped fuel a subculture that “could funnel people from leftism to authoritarianism.”
Here’s a brief list of talking heads at the network now claiming people like me, Glenn Greenwald, Tulsi Gabbard and Jimmy Dore are the ones guilty of funneling audiences to “authoritarianism”:
John Brennan, former Director of the CIA, now senior intelligence analyst at MSNBC
Frank Figliuzzi, formeer Assistant Director of Counterintelligence at the FBI
Asha Rangappa, former Special Agent for the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence
Nicolle Wallace, former Communications Director for George W. Bush
Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff of the CIA
Clint Watts, former FBI counterintelligence agent and MSNBC national security analyst
Chuck Rosenberg, former Acting DEA administrator and senior FBI official
Nayyera Haq, former Senior Director of the White House
Richard Painter, former Chief Ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House
Neal Kaytal, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States
Ben Rhodes, former National Security Advisor to Barack Obama
Barry McCaffrey, former U.S. Army General and Drug Czar, security analyst for NBC and MSNBC
Stephen Twitty, former Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army
Joyce Vance, former U.S. Attorney
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney
Glenn Kirschner, former Assistant U.S. Attorney
The right word to describe this brand of gall escapes me. The nerve? The bottle? The damned cheek? Both MSNBC and similarly foundering competitor CNN (which lost 19% and 27% of their audiences, respectively, last year) have been open for years now in their desire to serve as final revolving door destinations for the shadiest conceivable military and security officials. While MSNBC went after Brennan, Figliuzzi, and Bash, CNN scooped up James Clapper, Michael Hayden, and Steven Hall, among many others. The lists are so long, only an exceptional mind could keep track of them all. How many spooks fled to the Peacock?
Marky, Ricky, Danny, Terry, Mikey, Davey, Timmy, Tommy, Joey, Ronnie, Johnny, and Brian. And Brennan. John Brennan. MSNBC, you’re a joke.
THE POLICE GAZETTE
Growing up, when I was a little boy, my mother worked and my father worked. We were working-class people. I would stay with my grandmother during the day. She read the Police Gazette. That was the only magazine that she actually got. I had asthma, so when I had an asthma attack she would rock me in her rocking chair, which I liked, and would read to me from the Police Gazette. It was stuff like: "The sprawled body of the prostitute was found half naked…" That was my introduction to crime writing.
I have no idea why she liked that magazine. She died when I was eight years old and I never had a chance to ask her what the fascination was, and why that was the only magazine out of all the magazines on earth that she regularly read. She was a widow who lived in a very small town and I imagine that she got some sort of thrill from reading about this dark side of life. My father also had a certain attachment to the dark side of life. He had relatives up in the mountains who were basically from 'Deliverance' country. They were barely above the criminal classes. He would also go and talk to people in jails.
I also have a very vivid memory of something that may never have happened. I remember hearing about a man who had killed a woman on the sidewalk outside the bus station in this little Alabama town. I have a tremendously distinct memory of seeing her blood on the sidewalk. My mother assures me that that never happened, but I remember that image always being there — one of those iconic images that you just have in your head. My daughter saw a movie where they take out a doll's eye and blood flows out of it and she remembered that image for the longest time. It could have been something like that that I saw. It had a tremendous impact, even if it was a dream.
— Thomas Cook, novelist
FARTHER & FARTHER…
Israel has lurched dangerously to the right and is under the control of nationalistic and religious hard-liners. Business owners (and soon, perhaps, doctors) may refuse to serve LGBTQ+, non-Jews and anyone who upsets their religious sensibilities. After a change in their constitution, Itamar Ben-Gvir, convicted of “inciting racism,” is minister of national security. A settler leader who heads an ultraright religious party now oversees the West Bank.
What will happen to the over 3 million Palestinians there? With more illegal settlements planned on privately owned Palestinian land, can we all finally admit the two-state solution is dead? Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot or lying, and that includes our president. History has shown that nothing good comes when nationalism and religious fundamentalism go hand in hand. It’s Manifest Destiny Israeli-style, and what happened to Native Americans may well happen to Palestinians.
Yes, China, Iran and Russia are bad too, but we’re not sending them $10 million of our tax dollars a day. Jewish Voice for Peace writes that they’re “guided by … justice, equality and freedom for all people. We unequivocally oppose Zionism because it is counter to those ideals.” The new Israeli government makes that abundantly clear.
WE ARE IMMERSED in one of the most radical changes in American political life in decades, if not longer. Namely, one of the most significant and powerful factions in the United States, the Democratic Party and the left-liberals who support it, the faction that dominates Washington, Hollywood, media, academia and increasingly the largest sectors of corporate power, simply no longer believes in free speech, either as a societal value or even as a constitutional doctrine.
— Glenn Greenwald
YOU'RE NOT THE FIRST PERSON who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.
— J.D. Salinger
WHEN PEOPLE TALK listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling.
— Ernest Hemingway
UKRAINE, MONDAY, January 9, 2023
Fighting continues after a 36-hour Russian-proposed ceasefire — which Ukraine dismissed as a cynical ploy — ended overnight Saturday. Two people were killed and at least 13 wounded by shelling in the eastern city of Bakhmut during the proposed ceasefire, according to a Ukrainian official. Kyiv and Moscow carried out a prisoner exchange Sunday with a total of 100 soldiers returning to their home countries, according to officials in both nations. Ukraine has dismissed Moscow's claim that a large number of Kyiv’s soldiers were killed in a Russian attack last week in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine.