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COLD AND CALM weather will persist through most of the week. Wednesday will bring light showers to the north coast along with light mountain snow to interior mountains. (NWS)
RAINFALL SINCE CHRISTMAS: Yorkville 30.32" - Boonville 22.15"
ALL CLEAR ON 128 AND 1; NO MORE FLOODS [MCN-Announce]
Thanks to several folks who posted thanks to me on the Announce list yesterday.
I took the day off Sunday and failed to send out an update that both Hwy. 128 and Hwy. 1 were reopened by mid-morning Sunday. Hopefullly y'all are hip enough to check the information links I've been including in my updates over the past several weeks, so you knew the roads were open.
The weather geeks all say that the atmospheric river series is over with and we're shifting to fair weather pattern Tuesday, with a chance of showers Wednesday, and then clearing Thursday through Sunday if not longer. Yay! The storm door has closed, at least for a while.
I expect there will be no more flooding of Hwys. 1 or 128 in the foreseeable future, so I won't feel any need to keep posting updates.
Hopefully now that the storms are done the beaches at Big River, Noyo and Little River will be reopened after the rocks and logs left by the storm waves and extra high tides are cleaned up. I was asked if Navarro Beach is open, but I haven't been there to check in a few days. A few days ago access was blocked by big driftwood logs near the entrance to the beach proper.
It's going to be colder at night because we're no longer going to be under overcast night skies that keep the heat from radiating out into space.
So stay warm and safe. See y'all around campus.
Signing off for now,
COUNTY TAKES OVER CREEKSIDE SINKHOLE
Due to the continuing deterioration of conditions at the Creekside Cabins RV Park and Resort, the County of Mendocino has dispatched a contractor to work with Caltrans and various other State and local agencies to provide temporary, short term, ingress and egress to allow residents of the park to safely relocate from the area. The County has not received any indication that the conditions will be abated by the property owner and will pursue the matter separate and aside from this response.
Mendocino County Social Services and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office will be on-site in the coming week to talk with residents about this temporary ingress/egress response. This will include discussions on eligibility for assistance programs that may be available to them.
The County continues to encourage the public to avoid the area so that County staff, resource agencies and contractors can perform any needed work and provide assistance safely.
MENDOFEVER: The County of Mendocino Public Health Department issued a press release today saying they are “investigating concerns for the health and human safety of the residents at Creekside Cabins and RV Resort resulting from the large sinkhole that emerged on December 30, 2022.”
For over two weeks residents have not been able to drive out since the road collapsed.
The County is concerned about “whether the septic tanks have been reached for required monthly processing and whether there has been appropriate garbage disposal and retrieval.”
They cite a list of other concerns in the attached press release.
The county said it provided the landlord Teresa Thurman with several contractors that could address both temporary access and permanent repairs. And, they said, she made an agreement with one of those contractors who met with Caltrans to start work.
However, according to an earlier press release from the County, “[T]he property owner declined to engage their chosen contractor.”
AN ON-LINE COMMENT FROM MENDOMAMA: That bridge to replace it with an adequate culvert and the environmental impact reports will cost a million dollars. Yet, if they are so concerned excatly where are they going to put these residents? There’s a housing crisis in the county. Rentals are out of everyone’s reach. Being forced to live in a hotel long-term is not a solution either. The cost of living in a hotel, you’re looking at $3,000 plus a month. Even with a voucher, even with the government paying for it. Truly, is that a wise use of fees? There are no easy answers here.
ON LINE COMMENT: Yeah, but they’re going to do effing nothing. A bunch of kerfuffle. Lots of talk and they’re going to go in and drag everybody out because they’re going to pull Public Health Emergency for sanitation issues. At the end of it all nobody wins. The low-income residents are left on their ass. None of them are important enough for anybody really big to care about it. Yeah, the county has resources to do it, they probably have a culvert big enough in the yard laying around right now to fix it. Own all the equipment. Couldn’t they pull an emergency permit? Sure they probably could. But no. They’re going to circle talk and do a bunch of what ifing… Meanwhile all the residents suffer and the situation sadly continues to deteriorate more by the hour.
AFTER THE STORM
The air is full of after-thunder freshness,
And everything rejoices and revives.
With the whole outburst of its purple clusters
The lilac drinks the air of paradise.
The gutters overflow; the change of weather
Makes all you see appear alive and new.
Meanwhile the shades of sky are growing lighter,
Beyond the blackest cloud the height is blue.
An artist's hand, with mastery still greater
Wipes dirt and dust off objects in his path.
Reality and life, the past and present,
Emerge transformed out of his colour-bath.
The memory of over half a lifetime
Like swiftly passing thunder dies away.
The century is no more under wardship:
High time to let the future have its say.
It is not revolutions and upheavals
That clear the road to new and better days,
But revelations, lavishness and torments
Of someone's soul, inspired and ablaze.
— Boris Pasternak
AV UNIFIED NEWS
Dear Anderson Valley Community Members,
We are very excited to offer two district-wide dinner opportunities to gather parent/guardian suggestions and create additional awareness about graduation, college and career. Both events will be held at the Junior/Senior High School Campus:
ELAC Joint Dinner–Thursday, February 16 at 5:30 p.m.
Join us for a light dinner so we can learn more about your thoughts for areas to consider for improvement for our district. A light dinner will be provided. This is primarily a parent/guardian event, but if you need to bring your young student, we will have some activities available. First half hour is social time, and then a meeting to hear your thoughts. The meeting will be conducted in Spanish with English translation available.
Graduation, College, and Career Fair, Tuesday, February 28 at 5:00 p.m.
This evening is intended for students and families primarily grades 6th grade through 11th grade, but others may attend. Both English and Spanish sessions will be offered.
A light dinner will be served
There will be a presentation on the minimum graduation requirements for high school, and the problem with F grades as it relates to graduation/deficiencies.
Learn about free dual enrollment college opportunities while your student is still in high school.
Plan early for your student and learn about the A-G academic requirements for students attending colleges and universities.
Preliminary information about scholarship process and opportunities.
Learn about our CTE pathways and what that means.
Learn more about how to engage your students in activities early in their school career, so they have meaningful experiences for their college and career applications.
Break out discussions with representatives from:
• Mendocino College, Cal State Sonoma and Santa Rosa Junior College
• Union trade organizations about apprenticeship programs
• Local Fire and Wildlife Services regarding opportunities
• Local nursing mentoring programs with Adventist Health
• And additional organizations as they respond.
This is a new event for us, and we are excited to begin the graduation and college and career discussion sessions early.
Please Attend. This Is Important.
Call your site office to make a reservation for both of the events:
Elementary School (707) 895-3010
Junior/Senior High School (707) 895-3496
Come join us for fellowship and to plan next steps to your students’ success!
Louise Simson, Superintendent, Anderson Valley Unified School District
GENERATIONS currently showing at Partners Gallery in Mendocino. A tribute to Bill Brazill and his Alumni of Photographers! Congratulations to all!
A collection of the works of this amazing, talented group of photographers! Lucille Lawrence, Willow O’Feral, Nik Zvolensky, Gabriel Berent, Rihanna Gallagher, Justin Lewis! And of course Bill Brazill!!
Show continues to February 6th! Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the artistic talent of multiple generations of our beautiful community!
Thx, Carol Zvolensky
FREE FAMILY ART NIGHT
Saturday, January 21, 3pm-4:30pm
The Mendocino Art Center hosts a free family art night for children of all ages with Julie Karlonas! Stop by the Art Center and make window clings and enjoy refreshments. All materials will be provided. The art night is a preview of Julie’s “Art with Julie” six-week art sessions packed with exciting art projects specifically designed for children, ages 2 to 15. New classes start February 22.
More information on “Art with Julie”: https://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/youth-arts
Mendocino Art Center
45200 Little Lake Street at Kasten Street, Mendocino
STICKING WITH PACIFIC
RE: Pacific Internet
I, too, have been with Pacific Internet from my online beginnings. They, at times, have issues, but during office hours, they generally answer their phone. And if they don’t, they have always called me back.
The email situation you wrote of has been an ongoing issue for months. I have suspected that the problem emulates downstream somewhere, i.e., from the myriad of servers through which the data travels.
We’ve all experienced a piece of mail lost for several days/late, and eventually, it miraculously gets delivered.
I have no way of confirming, but I also suspect they pay a fee for the myriad of servers the data uses. And at times, those providers have issues that adversely effects everyone upstream, which may or may not be the fault of Pacific Internet; it’s complicated.
But I also believe Pacific Internet is slow to confirm when there is an issue. Customer service would get significantly improved by a simple message that “we’re having a problem” getting placed on their answering service as soon as possible.
When frustrated by Pacific Internet’s outages, I’ve asked friends and family about other internet providers. Unfortunately, the reviews aren’t great for anybody. It seems everybody has issues. And the biggest of the providers seem to be the worse.
I’m sticking with the Pacific Internet. Generally, an actual person will answer the phone or call me back.
My home internet is Pacific. I hang in there because I don’t want to deal with ATT or Xfinity, and the constant upselling and increasing charges and terrible customer service they offer. But Pacific does seem to have more and more problems lately. I’d love to hear from them about what’s going on. People understand when small local companies have problems. What becomes frustrating is no communication.
I appreciate that someone answers when I call, or gets back to me if I leave a message. I don’t have to wait hours on hold. I have been with them since 1992. I want to support local companies. Pacific has always been good about technical support. I had to gave up on them for my business account though.
— k h
30TH ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL PIANIST CONCERT THIS WEEKEND
This weekend, January 21st and 22nd, the 30th Professional Pianist Concert will once again hit the stage with two exciting concerts featuring eleven different pianists at the Mendocino College Center Theatre in Ukiah. After two years of COVID closure, the artists will take the Ukiah stage by storm once again, bringing their signature flair, finesse, humor, irreverence, and the sheer joy of sharing their talent that has wowed audiences for three decades. This utterly fun and stimulating series features the finest regional pianists on stage in a living room environment. Throughout the performance they trade stories and melodies with two pianos on stage to accommodate impromptu collaborations. The event is an annual sellout because of the diversity and quality of music in a multitude of styles, and the humor that takes place throughout the evening.
Performers letting the keys fly this year are Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Wendy DeWitt, Barney McClure, Frankie J, Tom Ganoung, Chris James, Elizabeth MacDougall, Ed Reinhart, Ben Rueb and Charlie Seltzer. The musical styles range from classical to jazz, boogie-woogie to Cuban, Broadway to ragtime.....each performance will be completely different!
‘Lost and Found’, a special assemblage sculpture show featuring artists Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegel, will also be on display at the Mendocino College Art Gallery throughout the weekend.
Saturday, January 21st at 7:00pm will feature Spencer Brewer, Wendy DeWitt, Chris James, Frankie J, Elizabeth MacDougall, and Barney McClure.
Sunday the 22nd at 2:00pm will include Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Tom Ganoung, Ed Reinhart, Ben Rueb, and Charlie Seltzer.
No two concerts are the same, so if you love piano and piano music, please consider enjoying more than one performance!
The concerts benefit the Ukiah Community Concert Association, Mendocino College Recording Arts Club and the Allegro Scholarship Program. Tickets are on sale at Mendocino Book Co. in Ukiah, Mazahar in Willits and online at www.UkiahConcerts.org. Tickets are $25 general admission and $30 "I ‘Wanna’ See the Hands" limited seating. For more information call (707) 463-2738.
Sponsors are Fowler Auto Center, Sparetime Supply, Savings Bank of Mendocino, Ukiah Community Concerts, Willits Furniture Center, Waterman Plants, K-WINE/MAX, KOZT-The Coast and KZYX/Z. Wine & refreshments will be provided by Ukiah Community Concert Association.
The Mendocino College Center Theatre is at 1000 Hensley Creek Rd in Ukiah. There will be autographed CD's, music and books by the artists for sale in the lobby.
A READER WONDERS: Whatever became of Todd Walton?
Stopped by one of those “little free libraries” near the somewhat gentrified section of south Caspar (where the old Highway One once meandered) and picked up a spoken word recording of his (including a very enjoyable short story, “I Steal My Bicycle.”). Seems like he was contributing fairly regularly to the AVA until about 5-6 years ago. Any idea why he stopped and his whereabouts?
ED REPLY: As I dimly recall that in one of our lean periods we had to reduce his miniscule pay to even fewer peanuts. Gracious fellow that he is, he decided to go off on his own with, I think, his own website [underthetablebooks.com]. So far as I know, Todd's still on the Coast.
MEET RYAN MURRAY WITH SYMPHONY OF THE REDWOODS!
Symphony of the Redwoods launches into 2023 with a concert on Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, January 29 at 2:00 pm at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg.
This concert will feature auditioning conductor, Ryan Murray. Mr. Murray will present a preconcert lecture prior to the concerts at 6:30 PM on Saturday and 1 PM on Sunday.
The program opens with Ballade in A Minor, Opus 33 by Samuel Coleridge Taylor. The piece is a romantic example of the composer’s early style.
Next is the Concerto in E Minor by Edward Elgar featuring Adelle-Akiko Kearns on the cello. Ms. Kearns is a highly in demand performer who exhibits “beautifully sensuous cello playing.”
The concert finishes with Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius. Full of grand, heroic melodies, the Symphony paints magnificent pictures of the rugged Finnish landscape.
Tickets are available at Out of this World in Mendocino, Harvest Market in Fort Bragg, Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5592569) and at the door. Get them while you can!
Please call the office at 707-964-0898 if you have any questions.
ON THE ROAD WITHOUT JACK, 2011
by Stella Maris
While I’m driving back from the coast to 128, my mind (what’s left of it) is in free fall, landing occasionally on fertile ground where the sprinkling of my thoughts take root and, in time-lapse photography, make a story-picture-tale by the time I reach my front gate, thirty minutes later.
This on-the-road unbidden meditation comes upon me frequently. The drive is on autopilot, the nattering voices of NPR fade; a story I was momentarily interested in recedes. My mind time travels. I, who have not much imagination, conjure scenarios, colorful characters, and gripping plots. These must have been in the back seat all the while and now they emerge and invade while I’m driving; I welcome them. The known road is a ribbon unfurling. In a half hour I’ve written in air rivaling the great novelists – Tolstoy, Dickens – where all questions of the universe are explored and solved in less than 380 pages.
This free time yields so many thoughts, ideas, and sketches, sometimes I pull over to write something down, a code word or two that will refresh my memory when I’m home and can write in full. Often those scribbles on the backs of envelopes or torn pieces of grocery bags I hold to the dashboard seem, at the moment, recorded for all time, but they are less decipherable than any Egyptian glyph later when I attempt translation.
I’m a writer, you see (really, I am, I have a hat that says so!) I write all the time: grocery lists, letters to friends, random jottings, much like drool, a spot here and a spot there and none of it amounts to much more than a mess. Then there are the 3:00 a.m. flashes of brilliance where I jolt awake and in the dark, write down a line which I am convinced is of such magnitude that tomorrow, when I release it upon the world, riots of peace and happiness will ensue. In the morning when I can hardly fathom my cryptic swirls, I greet the new day struggling to remember that great 3:00 a.m. stroke – vapor. As with a fragmented dream, it’s gone, lost to what repository, I know not.
While driving, I frequently have those silent conversations the Self and Mind engage in – definitely uninvited. Mind brings up many subjects Self does not want to hear. How is it that great decisions in one’s life are made? Are they not a compilation of many minute inflections, reflections, and refractions? How do these things happen to us, this life? What’s it all about, Alfie?
When I moved here full-time twenty years ago (and five part-time before that) I wrote to my friends in the city. Here I am, I said, in the Land of No – no doorbells, no neighbors within sight or hearing, no noise, no need to lock your car, no mail delivery, no UPS or Fed-Ex delivery either, no curtains, no, no, no. The complete privacy and quiet were paid for by long drives to town and isolation. Everything’s a trade-off, a compromise. Twenty-five years ago it was my time to really be with Nature, to live in the cycle of the seasons, to slow down from the frenetic concrete city pace and walk in the yielding country dirt.
Now my notes to city folk are more along the lines of Land of No, No More – I’ve had it with tick bites, spider bites, poison oak, chopping kindling, constant dust in summer and mud in winter, never having a clean car, driving an hour or more to shop, having to drive much farther for certain services and on and on. And no, this isn’t the entire gripe list.
Trouble is, when I fall in love, I mean really, really fall in love, it’s usually a forever thing. I made a list of pros and cons and the cons won out. It goes back to that decision-making dynamic, about how one arrives at an important decision – one that changes one’s life, yet again.
If you’re drawn to the country, go to it. You will learn there, you can be there. We should all move towards what we seek. The City, that seductive place, calls me now. So here’s how it could shake out – I could move to the city and feel once again strangled, but this time the cast is different. I’m much older and have grandchildren; I want to be part of their lives. It’s more immediate – that growing up business – one day they’re in first grade and months later they’re asking for the car keys. I want to go water those flowers. I want to laugh more and walk more (even though the ground is not dirt underfoot) and I want to have someone beside me who walks and laughs. I’m drawn back to the City and I will have something to learn there. I have never stopped loving it and that love is long.
My country place gives me the time of my life. The list of what will wrench my heart to leave is long, longer than the con list against staying. I cannot easily leave the bower of Nature, the trees who talk and sing and lift their arms in praise of sky; I cannot unlearn the language of ravens, forget the scents of throbbing forests, the perfume of the ocean, or cutting lettuce and eating it twenty minutes later.
I’ll be driving again the hideous 101, but south to north now. Perhaps those constant characters of mind will ride in the trunk this time and emerge as I’m turning onto Hwy. 128. Will they be strident? Will they whisper? There’s really no map on this journey, sometimes the signposts are shrouded in fogs of memory, a miasma – the jumble of years, solitude and silence, uproarious laughter and forgetting – twenty-five year, no regrets. Balzac said solitude is fine, but sometimes you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Monday, January 16, 2023
VERONICA FABER-CASTILLO, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
ANTHONY PINOLA, Ukiah. Domestic battery, criminal threats.
AUGUSTIN POLETTO, Eagle Point, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI.
NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
by Paul Modic
A few years ago my doctor asked me what I had to look forward to and when I told him nothing he said that’s just sad. When I told someone recently that I didn’t have a bucket list he seemed to “give me points” for that, like it was a positive thing?
Maybe bucket lists (kick the bucket, get it?) are like New Year resolutions, fun and inspiring to make but that’s about it. Maybe I should try anyway?
New Year resolutions publicly announced may be like marriages, I’ve heard that the more people (witnesses?) you have at your wedding the more chance of success it has.
Aren’t resolutions admitting there’s something wrong with you, something you don’t like, like an addiction that is harming you? (Maybe we should have fun making some for our friends, I can think of one for Esteben right now.) Most of us are weak and a few positive and hopeful words won’t make any difference, yet I should try, right?
Okay here’s my New Years Resolution/Bucket List all in one (and in my defense I blame it on the drugs—I only think I could actually do it when I’m high): I want/resolve to do a daily one minute morning dance hello live to my Facebook friends (and then delete it immediately), have it catch on with people responding by busting their own moves, and become a local Youtube sensation, cementing my quirky credentials and getting more attention.
(Another day, another cuppa coffee, another bowl of cereal, and then the rest of the day wondering what to do. Yesterday I took a fifteen minute walk to the river, stopped at the cabin on the way back up, organized a few things for the yoga studio, and then watched a great game which we won! Those gladiators of the gridiron, what does it all symbolize? Who knows, who cares, it’s just another fun distraction like Netflix, music, or sex, to name a few...)
It is telling when Israel’s closest allies in Washington and Europe and American Jewish leaders voice concerns over formation of Israel’s most openly racist, right-wing government, StandWithUs’ Michael Harris is ready as ever to accuse its critics of antisemitism — in this instance, Palestinian law students who object to having pro-Israel speakers at UC Berkeley’s law school, similar to Jewish groups like Hillel that oppose having supporters of Palestine speak on the UC campus.
Harris is listed as “Community Contact” for the North Bay chapter of StandWithUs, which is not questioning the new Israeli government’s likely actions, i.e., annexation of the West Bank and escalating violence against Palestinians.
In a statement a week earlier on its Facebook page, StandWithUs’ indifference to the dangers posed by the new Israeli government were made clear: “As a new Israeli government is sworn in, StandWithUs reaffirms our support for Israel and respect for Israeli democracy. StandWithUs is a nonpartisan education organization that does not endorse or oppose any Israeli political leadership.” It just exists to silence Israel’s critics.
CALIFORNIANS APPROVED BILLIONS FOR NEW WATER STORAGE. WHERE IS IT?
by Kurtis Alexander
In 2014, during the throes of last decade’s drought, California voters approved billions of dollars for infrastructure that would catch and store much-needed water from winter storms. The hope was to amass water in wet times and save it for dry times.
Nearly 10 years later, none of the major storage projects, which include new and expanded reservoirs, has gotten off the ground.
As the state experiences a historic bout of rain and snow this winter, amid another severe water shortage, critics are lamenting the missed opportunity to capture more of the extraordinary runoff that has been swelling rivers, flooding towns and pouring into the sea.
The seven dedicated storage projects funded by voter-approved Proposition 1 remain in various stages of planning. Many are big ventures, including the proposed Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley that would be California’s eighth largest reservoir. Such efforts require years of design, permitting and fundraising and are not easy to build. Still, some say progress has been too slow given the dire need for water.
“We’re in a climate emergency and we need to start acting with some urgency here,” said Adrian Covert, senior vice president of public policy for the Bay Area Council, which advocates for businesses in the Bay Area. “When you’re talking about storage projects and dams, they are going to last 100 years and you want to get it right and caution is appropriate. At the same time, you have to deliver results.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom has weighed in, too, pledging to expedite the construction of new storage facilities by providing additional funding and removing “permitting barriers,” not unlike his predecessor Jerry Brown who similarly tried to accelerate the work.
This month, California’s Republican congressional delegation, including Rep. David Valadao of Hanford (Kings County) and Tom McClintock of Elk Grove (Sacramento County) expressed concern about the lack of storage, sending a letter to Newsom and President Biden urging a boost in capacity in light of the recent precipitation.
The barrage of atmospheric rivers that has pounded the state since late December has yielded near-record amounts of both rain and snow.
As much clamor as there has been for more storage, however, water experts warn that it may not be the panacea that advocates profess, specifically reservoirs. Constructing reservoirs is expensive, meaning the water they sell may be cost-prohibitive for some, while the increase in water supply is likely to be small and not worth the money given California’s increasing aridity.
With the warming climate, the state is not only seeing more intense droughts, alongside more intense storms, but more of the precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow. Snow has historically provided a second wind for reservoirs, melting after the wet winter season and giving the lakes an additional hit of water.
“Storms like this (current bout) just don’t come that often so you can’t always expect to fill your storage,” said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center. “What you want is reliable supply and this (type of storage) is not very reliable. You don’t know when you’re going to fill it.”
“There are better ways to improve your water supply,” he said.
Proposition 1, which passed with 67% voter approval, authorized, $7.1 billion of bond funding for water projects, the largest chunk of which was earmarked for storage, about $2.7 billion.
Two new major reservoir proposals were initially selected to receive bond money, but one of the projects on the San Joaquin River didn’t get enough to move forward, leaving the 13-mile-long Sites as the biggest venture. Others include the expansion of two reservoirs in the Bay Area, Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County and Pacheco Reservoir in Santa Clara County. Most of the remaining initiatives seek to store water underground by replenishing aquifers.
A small water recycling program on farmland in Sacramento County and the enlargement of Los Vaqueros are expected to be the first to receive final checks from the state, perhaps this year. For other projects, including the Pacheco Reservoir, it could be several more years.
The length of time it has taken to select and finance these efforts was largely intentional. To win broad support for the bond measure in 2014, Prop. 1 put several conditions on the funding, including a requirement that the storage projects show “public benefit,” followed by an elaborate process to rank that quality. It took three years just to gather applications.
“Any large-scale water storage project is complex and requires a high degree of planning, engineering, construction, significant financing, and coordination with existing water infrastructure and operations,” said Paul Cambra, spokesman for the California Water Commission, which is in charge of awarding the bond money.
The proposition also is funding just a fraction of each project, meaning even after the cash is doled out, proposals will move forward only if and when additional money is secured.
Advocates of the $4 billion Sites Reservoir say they’ve lined up their remaining financing — about $875 million is expected from Prop. 1 — but the balance relies on a mix of still-pending federal funds and commitments from statewide water agencies. Some water agencies have worried that the price they’ll have to pay for future reservoir water will be too high as project operators seek to recover their costs.
The cost of building reservoirs has skyrocketed as new reservoir sites have become trickier to engineer. The best spots have been taken by the state’s existing 1,500 reservoirs.
A best-case scenario would have Sites Reservoir up and running just after 2030. According to the state, the expansion of Pacheco Reservoir could be finished at about the same time while the extension of Los Vaqueros could come a year sooner.
While completing the Prop. 1 projects would bring considerable storage — an estimated 2.8 million acre feet of water capacity — it’s a relatively small amount given the state’s total capacity.
California’s existing reservoirs can store 43 million acre feet of water, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. An acre foot of water is about enough to supply two households for a year.
Additionally, the actual amount of water the projects would hold would be far less because the reservoirs wouldn’t consistently fill.
The Prop. 1 reservoir proposals, according to Jay Lund, director for the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, in the end may amount to a 1-2% increase in water supplies.
Lund and others say the real promise of the ballot measure may be in its prescription for underground water storage. The idea of channeling runoff during wet periods into aquifers where cities and farms can pump it out is generally a lot less expensive than building reservoirs and has greater potential.
The amount of underground space currently available for putting water may be three times the state’s total reservoir capacity, according to one estimate.
There are several means of stockpiling water in aquifers, from simply spreading water across fields and letting it soak in to injecting the water through deep wells. Treated wastewater and stormwater caught in cities can be fed to aquifers, as can floodwater.
Prop. 1’s earlier rounds of funding aided a smattering of water projects that weren’t necessarily designed for storage but help put water underground. The money dedicated specifically for storage is planned for large groundwater projects in Kern County, Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire, with the first expected to come online in Antelope Valley in 2026. Similar projects are in the works independent of the bond money.
Recognizing the benefit of aquifer storage, the California Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board on Friday promoted their recent efforts to help landowners divert excess flows from Mariposa Creek in Merced County into the ground. The project targets floodwater like that produced in recent storms.
“Trying to recharge our aquifers, that is where our greatest storage opportunity lies,” said Heather Cooley, director of research at the Pacific Institute, a water research center in Oakland. “This is not easy to do and it’s not fast, but that’s the direction we need to head.”
(San Francisco Chronicle)
THE PRIMARY COMPLAINTS about Gen Z ultimately boil down to "They refuse to work shitty jobs for shit pay" and "They're too nice to people who are different". Which says just as much about the quality of the older generations as the quality of the new one.
I'm always yammering on here about what it's going to take to turn this human catastrophe around, but sometimes I think it might turn out that all that needs to happen is for all us old assholes to age out and leave the world in better hands than our own.
— Caitlin Johnstone
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Let me be brief. The MSM-deep state wants Joe out. It has to be after the end of January so (god forbid) Kamala can run for two terms. That won’t happen. The Dems candidate will be Newsom, the ultimate used car salesman. He has Pelosi, the DNC and Silicon Valley all behind him. They would love Trump to split the Republican Party, assuring them victory in 2024. Trump is a malignant narcissist and the odds of him keeping the Republicans fractured are great.
WHO WERE THE AFGHANS HARRY KILLED?
by Patrick Cockburn
The furor over Prince Harry’s much-criticized remarks about his role as a helicopter pilot in the war in Afghanistan in 2012 reveals more about his critics than they do about him. Much of the abuse is hysterical or attention-grabbing, but it stems also from British amnesia about the failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In his book, Harry writes that “Afghanistan was a war of mistakes, a war of enormous collateral damage – thousands of innocents killed and maimed and that always haunted us.”
In reality, these mistakes should have done a lot more haunting back in Britain where the futile British military intervention in Afghanistan, mostly in Helmand province, is fast vanishing from public memory.
A self-destructive national illness
No nation likes to dwell on its failures, but the refusal in Britain to recognize and learn from past mistakes has become an ever more self-destructive national illness. Its worst symptom is shallow boosterism, the pretense that Britain holds trump cards in its hands and knows how to play them, that peaked under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss last year. But the venom with which Harry’s fairly sensible comments about his war in Afghanistan has been treated show the strength of the public taboos against any realistic assessment of Britain’s ability to make war.
There is a touch of naivety in Harry’s account of flying an Apache helicopter on combat missions, but he has some interesting thoughts about what he was doing. He writes that “my goal from the day I arrived was never to go to bed doubting that I’d done the right thing, that my targets had been correct, that I was firing on Taliban and only Taliban, no civilians nearby.”
But experience in Afghanistan and Iraq showed time and again that people targeted by Western airpower in the shape of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones and ground-to-ground missiles were often not those whom the pilots and air controllers thought them to be. Instead of Taliban or Islamic State fighters, they might turn out to be the tribal enemies of the provincial governor or to be farmers trying to fight off predatory gunmen sent by the local police chief. A prime recruiting sergeant for the Taliban was the civilian loss of life inflicted by misdirected air strikes.
Harry says that he killed 25 Taliban, but I doubt it very much. When the real impact of air power on civilians on the ground in northern Iraq – where the air war was very like that in Afghanistan – was investigated by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal in 2016-17, they found a vast disparity between military claims and the actuality. In a study of 150 air strikes, called “The Uncounted” and published in The New York Times on 16 November 2017, they “found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the [Western] coalition.”
For all their claims to be able to distinguish between soldiers and civilians, modern air campaigns depend just as much as in the past on uncertain intelligence about targets. In one residential area outside Mosul city, the Western air forces claimed that they had killed only one civilian in or near the town of Qayara and the Iraqi air force said it had killed nobody. It turned out that there had been 40 air strikes on this area which had killed 43 civilians, of whom 19 were men, eight women, and 16 children aged 14 or younger. In about a third of fatal air attacks, Islamic State fighters had been near to the civilians, but in half the cases none had been present.
Abuse of Harry has focused at times on the false claim that he boasts about killing 25 Taliban or that he breached some arcane military code by giving a figure for enemy dead. He evidently believes that he knew who he was shooting at and, in the age of Apache helicopters and laptops, this is verifiable and time-stamped: “I could always say precisely how many enemy combatants I’d killed,” he says.
In reality, Harry could do no such thing because, accurate though modern weapons may be, they still depend on identifying the right target. If Harry is correct about all his targets being Taliban, this implies an exceptional level of accurate intelligence. Yet at least he thought about what he was doing, though “in the heat and fog of combat, I didn’t think of those 25 as people”. He makes the notorious analogy between the dead Taliban and chess pieces removed from the board. “I’d been trained to ‘other-ize’ them, trained well. On some level I recognize this learned detachment as problematic. But I also saw it as an unavoidable part of soldiering.”
He is surely right about this, though not quite in the way that he means. Armies commonly lie or deceive themselves about the number of civilians, as opposed to enemy combatants, they are killing. They seldom admit candidly to themselves or others why military occupation so frequently provokes armed resistance. In the lead-up to the British Army’s arrival in Helmand in 2006, one intelligence officer noted tartly that “there is no war in Helmand, but there will be if the British Army goes there”.
It is not as if the dismal facts about the direct British military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan were a secret. One retired British ambassador said that the worst mistake on the part of the British government he had witnessed during his entire diplomatic career was the military intervention in Iraq, while the second worst was the British intervention in Helmand. The core reason for each intervention was the priority given to convincing the United States that the British were an ally America could rely on.
Who were the Afghans Harry killed?
This at least provides a rational motive for sending small and inadequate British armies to Basra and Helmand, where they encountered a hostile, well-armed local population.
Much of what went wrong for Britain in these wars has been meticulously investigated by high-quality government or parliamentary reports. Designed to kick the topic into the long grass, the reports by and large succeeded in doing just that. Good news though they are for historians, the lessons they point to are routinely disregarded. Among the important of these is the conclusion that the attempt by the US and Britain to fight wars by relying largely on airpower does not work. If it did, the Taliban would not be in power in Kabul today.
Harry’s account of his time in Afghanistan might have usefully fueled discussion about the British military record in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no sign of this in the rush to demonize Harry for “letting the side down.”
Two interesting questions will probably remain unanswered. Who were the Afghans Harry killed? And how many joined the Taliban because their relatives and friends had died?
(Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso). CounterPunch.org)
TO MINIMIZE SUFFERING and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law — a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security.
―Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz
IT IS NOT A BAD FEELING when you’re knocked out. It’s a good feeling, actually. It’s not painful, just a sharp grogginess. You don’t see angels or stars; you’re on a pleasant cloud. After Liston hit me in Nevada, I felt, for about four or five seconds, that everybody in the arena was actually in the ring with me, circled around me like a family, and you feel warmth toward all the people in the arena after you’re knocked out. You feel lovable to all the people. And you want to reach out and kiss everybody—men and women—and after the Liston fight somebody told me I actually blew a kiss to the crowd from the ring. I don’t remember that. But I guess it’s true because that’s the way you feel during the four or five seconds after a knockout.
But then, this good feeling leaves you. You realize where you are, and what you’re doing there, and what has just happened to you. And what follows is a hurt, a confused hurt—not a physical hurt—it’s a hurt combined with anger; it’s a what-will-people-think hurt; it’s an ashamed-of-my-own-ability hurt … and all you want then is a hatch door in the middle of the ring—a hatch door that will open and let you fall through and land in your dressing room instead of having to get out of the ring and face those people. The worst thing about losing is having to walk out of the ring and face those people.
— Floyd Patterson
UKRAINE, MONDAY, 16TH JANUARY
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the dynamics of the war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” are positive, with everything going according to the defense ministry’s plan.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday said Russian forces had captured Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region the previous day, after several days of conflicting reports over whether the town had fallen under Russian control after months of fierce fighting.
Ukraine has not conceded defeat in Soledar, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying Sunday evening that “the battle for Soledar, for Bakhmut, for the whole Donetsk region, for the Luhansk region continues without any respite, without any stop.”
Ukraine is reeling from a major Russian missile attack on the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine on Saturday in which 30 people were killed after an apartment block was hit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday evening that a rescue operation continued as debris was cleared at the site of the strike.
AMERICA THIS WEEK
On Walter Kirn’s apparent home in the heart of Christian Nationalism, the bizarre Biden papers episode, and the latest Twitter files kerfuffles
by Matt Taibbi & Walter Kirn
Matt: Welcome to America This Week. I’m Matt Taibbi.
Walter: And I’m Walter Kirn.
Matt: Now, Walter, you’re in New York right now. But you’re not where you usually are, which apparently is a hotbed of Christian nationalism. Is that right?
Walter: Well, that’s right. I woke up last week in Livingston Montana, my home, to find out courtesy of the New York Times Magazine in an early edition which usually comes out on Sunday, that I live in a near theocracy, hard-right, Christian nationalist state. Only recently Montana had a Democratic governor,
Matt: And a “ticket splitting tradition”, I think that was the word. They used a very strange construction it was, “long been one of the most politically independent states, and it has a tradition of ticket-splitting.”
Walter: Right. Well, we’ve got a Democratic senator. Jon Tester. We recently had a Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, who got term-limited out. Part of the argument in the piece is that we have added a Republican representative, but that’s because we used to only have one congressman in Montana until recently because of our low population. But having added population mostly from the East Coast and the West Coast, I might add, we got another representative who represents the eastern half of the state. His district was carved out of the eastern part of the state, a place of prairies, ranches, and so on, which has always been traditionally the most conservative part of the state.
So, the argument is somehow that having added a Republican representative, we’re taking a hard right turn. And having elected a Republican governor, we’ve had Republican governors. Now, let me add, I’ve lived here for 32 years, or lived there, I’m in New York right now, but we’ve had Republican governors for about half that time, and Democratic governors for about half that time. Apparently without me knowing it, because I haven’t looked outside recently, we have a near Taliban-like situation in Montana, which is really weird because as I say it’s millionaires from the coasts, and billionaires even, even people like MBS from Saudi Arabia who’s building a compound in Montana.
Matt: They mentioned somebody who sold a tech company and is worth 1.5 billion and has now moved to Montana.
Walter: I think that’s our governor Greg Gianforte. Part of the argumentation in this piece is that because our governor is an evangelical Christian we are now under a medieval state with a pope-like leader or something.
This piece put together artfully a bunch of quotes from an old Republican lady found at some gathering who said, “if you’re coming to Montana, you’d better be Christian” and a few ballot initiatives that had a conservative flavor and a few other comments to make it seem as though we’re being ruled by Jerry Falwell himself.
Matt: Is Jerry Falwell dead?
Walter: Yeah. I think he is. I think he is part of that generation of evangelicals that seems to have passed away pretty completely, but Montana’s going to give them a run for the money, apparently.
The funny thing is that having lived there for 32 years, this is now about the third cycle of ‘Montana as militia threat’ that I’ve watched in the press. In the nineties around the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, there was something called the Patriot movement and the militia movement. And it was usually located in Montana because, for readers of the New York Times, you can pretty much set any scary trend in Montana without anyone checking on it. It’s harder nowadays because there are direct flights to Bozeman and there didn’t use to be.
Matt: Don’t you think this is a classic example of how human interest stories make it into the pages of publications like The New York Times? It’s probably because there are rich people who either work at The Times or have friends at The Times who themselves have moved to Montana, for all of the obvious reasons, right? They want to get away from how crap New York is suddenly. And other cities that have issues these days. And so they’re fleeing to states like Montana. It was Idaho a while ago. Remember the nineties? The Great Migration of Rich Californians to Idaho?
Walter: Well, yeah. So there’s an even easier answer, Matt. It’s because of the show Yellowstone. The show Yellowstone was in the lead of this piece as though somehow this Kevin Costner’s soap opera can be quasi-related to this ostensible far-right move. So I think the answer to why they’re doing this is search engine optimization. They now have a quasi-legitimate link to Yellowstone, Kevin Costner, et cetera.
Matt: They even talk about the Costner character’s decision to run for governor as if it were a real political decision.
Walter: Oh my Lord. It’s like deciding that the universe is taking a far-right turn because of Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy.
Matt: Right. Yeah. Baron von Har Conan.
Walter: But accompanying the text of this piece, and even more damning in the eyes of the person who knows nothing about Montana, were a bunch of photographs that were absolutely completely manipulated and filtered in the way of like dystopian campaign ads. They put dark filtering on them, and they showed things like some kind of a Republican meeting in a hotel ballroom or something, but filtered so as to look like some satanic pageant.
Matt: There’s a photo of a flag that says “God guns and Trump” that I swear had to have two filters on it.
Remember the great journalism controversy of, what was it, 1996? When was it? Newsweek who darkened OJ on the cover? Wow. I forget which magazine it was that made OJ blacker on the cover.
Walter: Well, I’m going to come out and accuse them of racism for using darker filters to suggest evil.
Matt: Well, look they’re clearly trying to contrast with Yellowstone, which paints this incredibly attractive picture of what the landscape of Montana looks like. It reminds me of the scenes from the Oliver Stone movie Nixon, when he remembers his childhood, which was all in black and white. And it was him waiting for I think one of his relatives to die of TB. I can’t remember which one it was. But it’s so over the top, this piece and I’m guessing it doesn’t have too much to do with reality. But obviously, you tell me, you live there.
Walter: Well, yeah. Here’s the reality about Montana. I hate to have to counter such a ridiculous alarmist piece, but I will anyway, for those who can’t actually get to the state. It’s a somewhat libertarian politically mixed-up state with a history of big union organizing. The far-right state of Montana actually gave us the wobblies, the workers of the world in Butte, Montana, which was an old mining town. We’ve got a ranching and agricultural component to our economy and a population that’s traditionally pretty conservative in the same way. Everything across the Great plains having to do with ranching is pretty conservative. As I’ve said, we retired a Democratic governor recently. We have a Democratic senator.
Matt: He ran for president, right? Bullock?
Walter: Yeah, he did briefly. He was in one debate. Yeah. He ran, he did. He ran for president.
Matt: Yeah. I remember talking to one of his staffers. They sounded nice.
Walter: Yeah. We just legalized marijuana, which for a Christian nationalist state is a little peculiar. I live in a town that is probably as liberal as any town I’ve ever lived in, frankly. Livingston, Montana Community food resource center, community this, community that. It’s a place of incredible civic engagement and the old style ‘share the burden’ ethic. We have a town, a university town, Missoula, which was a nuclear-free zone for a while, I believe. It was and has got some of the most liberal, liberal arts departments in the country including a famed creative writing program. We also have a state constitution, which was mentioned in the piece that is probably the most liberal state constitution in the United States. People can get back to us on that, the real wonks. But I don’t think that’s an overstatement. This is cited in the piece, the State constitution, which guarantees the right to a healthful environment and makes all sorts of privacy guarantees as well. Strangely, it was written in the seventies.
Matt: Oh, well, that’s suspicious.
Walter: Yeah. But there are some people who don’t like it, and they were quoted in the piece, and they haven’t liked it forever. But in any case, you wonder what the motivation is for painting a whole state as some Leni Riefenstahl hive of potential nationalist rebellion.
Matt: What can you say at this point? Go ahead.
Walter: There always has to be a center of evil in the United States, right? For a while, it was northern Idaho, like you say, which did genuinely have some Christian white supremacist compounds as it were. But so now I guess it’s Montana’s turn in the stocks. But more than that, I think the piece was a lifestyle piece gone wrong. Everything about it was exotic. Even if I were Marxist, I’d want to move to Montana after I read this piece. It looked unreconstructed and wild and full of characters and conflict and so on.
Matt: Who would want to move to that when you can live in an identical suburban milieu which has the same nine chain stores that every other town in America has, and live next to neighbors who have the same opinions as each other, and have the same “Hate has no home here” sign on their front lawns.
Walter: Well, we have those signs too. We have all the espresso drinks and all, you know. But, one thing that is unique about Montana is it’s one of the only states without a Fortune 500 company headquarters. Montana is probably among the very least corporate states in the United States. And so, its politics tend to be very flavorful without that dull corporate filter on them. A journalist for the New York Times can come out and probably get someone to say almost anything, you know, talk about flat Earth or aliens hiding in volcanic caverns and sell any vision of the place. But, if there were not a hit TV show, and more than one because the Yellowstone show has now spawned prequels which are hits too, right? There would probably be no reason to go after Montana. And if you’re going to talk about nascent theocracies in the United States, let’s start with Utah. Let’s start with Mormon, Utah, and even Mormon, Nevada, and Arizona. But well
Matt: They had the show about that, right? They had the HBO Bill Paxton vehicle. What was that one called after I forget?
Walter: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. The one about the polygamist husband
Matt: Yeah. And he was like gulping down all the Viagra because he couldn’t keep up. And then of course Wyoming has Long Meyer, right? Or had Long Meyer?
Walter: What about Wyoming’s far-right turn? We got rid of Liz Cheney, darling of the moderate Republican establishment. The truth is that the West is politically up for grabs almost constantly. You can paint any portrait of it you want. Now though, I’m going to have to, on my trips to New York City, probably defend myself, and tell people I’m okay. Allay their worries about their safety.
Matt: But people will immediately understand that you’re just hiding that you moved there to be with your chapter of the knights of whatever.
Walter: 32 years ago, I knew this hard right turn was coming, and I’ve been biding my time.
Matt: One more note about this, because it drives me nuts. The latest trend in what newspapers, like The Times and the Washington Post care about is basically anything outside of their sensibility is suspect. I mean, they made this explicit with those ridiculous Taylor Lorenz pieces about how conversations could be going on in Clubhouse that might perhaps not be monitored. And they’ve gone on in a hundred different ways to go after any place that isn’t strictly like a protectorate of the modern media bubble, which is the opposite of what you’d want to do if you were trying to widen your audience. Why would you do that as a journalist, as a writer? Why would you go and look to do a hit piece on a whole state? It doesn’t make any sense for a media organization that’s floundering. I don’t get it.
Walter: Let me be serious for a moment. Do you remember a couple of years ago when Georgia was in focus as a place of insufficient liberalism and there were threats that Hollywood would pull out some of its productions from Georgia if they didn’t amend their state laws? I think a similar kind of blackmail might be happening here with Montana. Montana is a state that is suddenly the home to the most successful Hollywood productions going. And there are a lot of those people back in Hollywood, back in Los Angeles and in New York, the homes of the entertainment industry, who could probably be persuaded that it’s a little iffy to keep producing this stuff in a state of resurgent Christian nationalism. So I don’t think it’s out of line to suspect that this may be an attempt to discipline Montana politically by threatening vaguely that it might not get the Hollywood money and the entertainment and media money that it’s been getting if it doesn’t shape up a little.
Matt: It’s just so obnoxious. It’s so far outside what I would think of as the mission of a news organization, but whatever.
Walter: It’s a feature article. It’s neither fish nor fowl this piece because it’s in the magazine, not the newspaper. That’s what allows for the big scary pictures. one shows a
Walter: Right. A roadside cross in a rearview mirror.
Matt: Yeah, I saw that one.
Walter: Talk about metaphorical complexity, the backwardness of the rearview mirror plus the scariness of the nighttime illuminated cross with shades of the Ku Klux Klan,
Matt: And, it’s gaining on you, right? It’s ridiculous that the picture was as over the top as the scorched baby at the fire scene.
Walter: I mean, I’m surprised the photographer didn’t go out and light the cross on fire. There was so much they left on the table with that picture.
Matt: Wouldn’t you love to put some sodium Pentothal into that crew and find out if any of them had that thought?
Walter: Oh, yeah. Well, apparently the photographers and the writer of that piece escaped unharmed. The weird thing about that is that the writer, Abe Streep used to be at Outside Magazine and there was a time when Outside Magazine was thinking of relocating to Livingston, Montana and he seemed excited at the time about the prospect, but no longer would he be I would wager. Anyway.
Matt: Right. Well, anyway, okay. We should move on because there’s another ridiculously interesting story that broke this week. The leaking of the story that Joe Biden’s got classified documents in his Corvette, which is in a locked garage. There are so many angles to the story that are unlikely but also probably pretty transparent that it almost boggles the mind that this story is out there. What’s your interpretation?
Walter: Well, I want you to count the ways in which it seems unlikely first, because I’ll add to the list.
Matt: So, okay. We just went through a nearly identical story, which you and I mistakenly thought was going to be the biggest story in the world for a long time, which was the raid on Mar-a-Lago in the home of Donald Trump, because he was keeping classified records at his house. And we were told everything, from these were nuclear secrets that were going to be sold to the Russians or whatever to God knows what else, sources and methods, they brought out every conceivable law enforcement cliche to describe the nefarious intent in that story. But now we have a basically identical story about classified records that Joe Biden has apparently stored incorrectly for six years. And the interesting part isn’t even the story, it’s where does it come from?
And the first time I saw it was in a CNN story, which quoted the familiar source familiar with the matter, who explained that the US attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, has been briefing Merrick Garland. So you can read into that what you want, but it sure looks like the Democratic Party is pulling a Frank Pentangeli on Joe Biden, and essentially saying, dude, the clock is run out on your presidency. You’re out. Somebody else is going to run. And you might want to do the honorable thing. And if you don’t, this is going to get worse. That was my read on this. And who this came from seems pretty clear to me. But obviously we can’t really talk about that too much because it’s not reported. So I don’t know. What are your thoughts?
Walter: So, the first documents were ostensibly discovered at something called the Penn-Biden Center, which is described as a think tank. And in certain articles, it’s also said that it’s funded by the Chinese to a large extent, by Chinese money. They were supposedly found by his lawyer who he uses as a janitor, apparently, to clean out his old offices. And they were supposedly found before the election, a fact not reported until rather recently.
Matt: Yeah, it was on the fourth. So they could have put this out beforehand. And who knows what that would’ve meant?
Walter: Yeah. So, we’re to believe that everybody was surprised by the discovery of these documents. We’re to believe that the lawyer came across them for some reason, not Joe, and certainly not the FBI. The FBI so far hasn’t been needed apparently. And, one of the big defenses of Biden has been that he’s cooperated completely. It hasn’t required the FBI raiding him to have him turn these things over.
Matt: Oh, the montage of all the people talking about the difference in reaction, the comedy factor is just through the roof on this. But anyway, yeah, go ahead.
Walter: From the right, it’s pointed out that the vice president has no right to have documents at all, or take them with him, of any classification status. And that it is at least theoretically true that President Trump has declassification powers. But that aside, so then we’re also to believe that once these documents were found, there’s this ongoing honor system in which Biden’s people are allowed to keep discovering new ones or something. I mean we just had a special counsel appointed yesterday to cover this topic. Now on special counsels, they aren’t that special anymore. Okay? We’ve got three going right now. Once you get to three special counsels operating simultaneously, they’re no longer special. What is it about our system that causes us to have special councils whenever something needs to be investigated?
Matt: I think it’s the widespread expectation that bureaucracies are too corrupt to investigate themselves.
Walter: Yeah. But the special councils are appointed by the bureaucracies. I mean, let’s think about this. The same people who raided Trump and then appointed a special counsel, are the people who found Biden worthy of the Special Counsel. This is all emanating from one Department of Justice, the whole thing. And whatever pretense it might be making to even-handedness, it still all goes back to Merrick Garland, the same guy who doesn’t like Trump and was appointed by Joe Biden. But the most curious aspect of this whole thing has been that the corporate mainstream media, the elite media as it were, has so far done everything it can to not notice Joe Biden’s deficiencies, to speak well of him in the most embarrassing situations, to compare him favorably to Trump in every instance, that media is the one that is somewhat aggressively bringing out this evidence against Joe Biden, which is the most absurd element of the whole thing. Are they trying to get their credibility back?
Matt, you’ve called for a truth and reconciliation movement to heal the damaged reputation of the press. Maybe this is their own self-appointed way of pretending objectivity, but they’re also totally schizoid because at the same time, they’re bringing out the evidence they’re working as fast as they can to minimize, rationalize, and contextualize its severity.
Matt: They just don’t know how to stop being political animals. And you can’t do this job if you’re constantly making calculations about the political impact and how that’s going to affect what words I use or where I put something in the piece, like in what paragraph? That’s not journalism. It’s something else. It’s politics, which is why the MSNBC Face page or the CNN Facebook page is basically indistinguishable from the news page of the DNC. Fox’s is a little different from the RNC page because they don’t use the exact same headline and lead format that you see with the Democrats on MSNBC. But they have completely wedded themselves to the idea that what they do for a living is politics. And that the narratives really depend on what they’re trying to achieve that day. As opposed to just putting the stuff out there and letting audiences deal with it, which is what they should do it feels like to me.
Walter: To jump to a loftier level on this, they see everything as politics because philosophically, they believe that to be the case. I mean, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool, let’s not say a Marxist, you believe that history is an evolution toward the total state. A god-like, governmental situation. And so every story and every chapter of events leading up to that is by definition a political event. I think what we have in many cases are philosophers of reality who believe that language itself, maybe even mathematics, has a political dimension. And certainly, all news does, and there is a mega narrative or a meta-narrative of progress toward this complete state that will end history. And to jump out of that process or pretend to be objective, is somehow a fantastic imaginative notion. We can’t leave politics. Everything is politics. And I think that the press is increasingly made up of people who are saturated with that view.
Matt: Yeah. That’s true. It’s just unfortunate because we were raised, I think, with the enlightenment concept that the role of a free press is to inform the people who then make better decisions, right? And so our responsibility ends with informing the people. We don’t have to take responsibility for what decisions they make or don’t make which vastly simplifies the exercise for us, even though it’s still a very hard job the going away from that, right? What they’re basically saying is, we don’t think the enlightenment concept of government and politics is functional. We have to do more, to bring us closer to the withering away of the state or whatever it is, right? By keeping people away from ideas that are detrimental and heightening ones that are favorable, which I think is the reason that they’re so convinced, not to be self-referential about this, but the New York Times gave me a hard time after the first Twitter file story -- their construction was my fan base had changed because I was skeptical of the theory of collusion between Trump and the Russians. So, it was immaterial that that skepticism was warranted and correct. What they saw was that this was a political decision to align myself with different people, which is in their mind, a significant thing, which I think is the lens through which they perceive everything now.
Walter: They’re not concerned with causes, only with effects, and these effects have for them the status of causes. Would you not hope that your fan base would change when you’re reporting on the truth of various matters changes? Of course it would. I mean, back in the seventies when Watergate happened, I saw a lot of Republicans become Democrats or at least become embarrassed Republicans. In other words, I think the Washington Posts’ fan base may have changed, or a better thing would be the St. Paul Pioneer Press’s fan base changed somewhat, because as the Republican paper reported on these Nixon scandals Democrats maybe started reading it or whatever. In any case, if we’re to judge everything by who it pleases and who it displeases, who it attracts, and who it repels, and if you are to keep your fan base constant, Matt, that means that you have to always adjust your reporting so that it pleases and displeases in the same proportion, the same people.
Walter: You’re never to discover anything new.
Matt: Right. Yeah. You can’t do that and have that align with reality in any way. Things are always going to be fluid. And to take the example that you just used, remember Bob Woodward was a Republican, right? When he first started doing that story, I don’t think the story made him happy when they first discovered it. That whole story would never have come to light had Woodward not been at that hearing to hear James McCord, the last person questioned by the judge at the Watergate burglar’s arraignment answer under his breath that his profession was Central Intelligence Agency. If Bob Woodward doesn’t hear that and doesn’t do the right thing and say, “holy shit, that’s weird. Let’s keep looking, let’s dig it into this a little bit,” then Watergate never becomes a thing. It never goes on, because nobody else covered it.
In fact, even after they started doing that story, everybody ignored that story for a long time. And the Post was all by itself with everybody saying, what are you guys doing? Nobody believes this. But that’s the job. If you’re following what the facts are, your audience is going to change.
Walter: To me, the greatest tribute to your integrity, or any journalist’s integrity, is that they would offend their old fans with new reporting. When they say your fan base changed, what they mean is that old fans peeled off and perhaps new fans were attracted. In other words, change occurred and change is uncomfortable. I’m sure you would’ve loved to keep your old fans and get new ones rather than have to trade off. I’m sure you would’ve loved to stay in the good graces of the New York Times about everything. You just couldn’t because you followed the facts.
Matt: I think a lot of us were in the wilderness for a long time. I have a speaking agent, which I had that relationship dating back to I guess the late 2000, around 2010, maybe a little bit before that, but the minute this whole Russia thing happened, I stopped getting invitations, and this was before I had my little Me-Too fiasco. Everything dried up and all the little ancillary benefits of being in the club. From getting ridiculously overpriced book deals to
Matt: Awards you probably don’t deserve. I won the National Magazine award for making fun of Mike Huckabee basically, right? A piece that I didn’t do any reporting at all except interview the guy. But all of those go away. And they’re not really subtle when they start taking these things away from you, in letting you know what the reasons are. And suddenly some of those things are coming back now for me, but they’re coming back from a different direction, and I’m supposed to say no to it. Because I guess what I’m supposed to do is wait forever to be brought back into the same old club that kicked me out. I mean, you know what all this is too, right? I think a lot of reporters have been through this thing. It’s a system of rewards that you’re supposed to be very responsive to.
Walter: Well, so I go back to New York publishing to my first jobs at Vanity Fair, Spy Magazine, then Time Magazine, the New Republic, and Harper’s magazines, all very liberal places. I mean, Spy Magazine was making fun of Donald Trump before anybody else in the country had heard of him. We practically helped make the guy a national figure through our satire of him in the 1980s. And so I’ve been associated with all these places, and even more relevant, I had a literary career, or have one as a writer of novels, novels sold through independent bookstores, which are extremely progressive and liberal in their character. If you go into one, you’ll see that almost anywhere in the country. And, in my literary career, I’m associated with universities, small journals like I say, independent bookstores, and probably the most liberal elements of American culture.
Somehow, I made the mistake of stumbling into the political world, particularly when I started writing for the New Republic and Harpers. And in those magazines I tried to make, as a resident of Montana, as a guy who grew up in Minnesota, as someone not of inherited wealth, I tried to make the establishment understand that there was a world out there, and I was tolerated as some kind of licensed outsider. But, as we said earlier maybe last week or a couple of weeks ago, it was with this Russiagate thing that I left the reservation entirely because I simply couldn’t sign on to a story of alleged fact that I knew in my bones and in my head to be made up. They required too much of us as far as staying in the club.
And I’ve lost jobs since then. I’ve lost friends, yeah. Opportunities. I mean, I had one guy call me up call up my wife, during COVID, because I evinced some skepticism about Dr. Fauci, to ask what was wrong with me, to suggest that maybe had a psychological problem that needed tending to. And that was just one example. And just lately, Matt, probably this is true of you too, I’ve noticed the establishment has softened toward me just slightly as things like the Twitter files, your work not mine, have come out and really proved, I think that a lot of the club message was utter bullshit. And they’re seeking very tentatively some redemption and a little bit of reconciliation with those who wouldn’t go along with their excesses. We’ll see if that continues.
Matt: There is the softening, but it’s very slow, and they’re going to forget all sorts of people to bring back. I mean, I think about people like Thomas Frank. The just an excellent writer who’s never been anything but a very earnest devoted old school liberal. And he wrote a book early in 2016, in time to be published for the 2016 election. I think it was Listen, Liberal, right? Yeah. That predicted a lot of the problems that the party was going to have. And he predicted with perfect accuracy that they were not reaching the kind of people that they needed to reach in order to win this election. And he was basically never in again, invited into a green room, never showered with the kinds of ridiculous benefits that a writer of that stature usually gets. He’s in the wilderness, and there are all sorts of people like that. There is a punishment that comes with not playing the game the way you’re supposed to. And all he did was just be accurate. He thought he was helping like, “Hey Democrats, this is what you need to do to try to get more votes.” And that was not welcome, apparently. So there’s a lot of that.
Walter: It’s a punishment, but in my case, it doesn’t hurt very much because being out in the wilderness is a great opportunity. It allows you to establish new frontiers and in the media from the Substack that you run to all sorts of ventures that are big and profitable and flourishing. We’ve created something new. And, when you call for truth and reconciliation, Matt I think of you as a nice guy because I’d rather have truth and forgetfulness. In other words, truth, and cancellation. I want to cancel them back, frankly. I’m an Old Testament kind of guy when it comes down to it. They didn’t want me. Well, I don’t want them, and I don’t need them anymore.
Walter: We started off on this whole digression because we were noting that the mainstream media had suddenly seemingly turned on Joe Biden or started reporting unfavorable facts when it doesn’t happen.
Matt: Another Catholic.
Matt: But what’s that all about? It can only be a couple of things.
Walter: There’s a boss above Joe Biden, apparently, because they seem always to do the bidding of some boss. There must be a new one.
Matt: Right. And I wonder who a boss above Joe Biden who lives in the Chicago area might be, I mean if we’re being speculative about the whole thing.
Walter: Isn’t that interesting that Chicago should be the seat of American justice suddenly? The place where crusading prosecutors come from?
Matt: Right. And who are informing Merrick Garland about the affairs of Joe Biden and about documents that are in a Corvette in a garage, and at the University of Pennsylvania. That seems a little odd to me, but whatever. It seems to me, that this is a scene from a mafia movie. They’re telling the president that if we want to make something of this, we can and you should do the right thing. You should step aside and let somebody else carry the ball in 2024. Why do they need to do that? I’m not sure.
Walter: I mean could they not have sent this message privately, Matt? I mean, why would they damage their brand and their party in general by sending this message publicly?
Matt: My guess is that his inner circle is not going along with the plan. There have been a number of stories that have felt like shots fired across the bow. These speculative tales in the Washington Post. Like, who’s going to be the better replacement for Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, or Kamala Harris, these quote-unquote reader stories. If you know how Washington works, it’s somebody from some office who calls you and says, “Hey there’s this thing that a whole bunch of us are talking about, and we’d love it if you wrote a piece” and you’re given the number of maybe one or two people who might go on the record, and you create a story out of it.
And there were a bunch of them about who might be a better choice than Joe Biden in 2024. My only guess is that the Biden camp wasn’t responsive to that, and this is happening. I guess it could all be on the up and up, and they just discovered that these documents have been mishandled for six years. And that had to be relayed to Merrick Garland who suddenly had to go public with it. I mean, I suppose that’s in the realm of possibility,
Walter: But, there are all kinds of 4D chess theories about this discovery of documents. One is that it will give the appearance of even-handedness to the Justice Department, that Joe Biden will resign, and then they’ll turn to Donald Trump and say, you who did the same thing can’t run. Fair is fair. We purged our own, and now you Republicans have to do the same. I don’t think that will work, frankly.
Matt: Why would that work?
Walter: I’m just telling you all the 4D chess theories break down on examination.
Matt: Adam Schiff and the DNC both thought it was beneath the dignity of Twitter to allow a picture made by somebody who calls himself Peter Douche and identifies himself clearly as a parodist, they didn’t want that up. But, that’s what Biden’s going to look like in 2024. His tongue is going to be hanging out. He won’t know where he is. But that might win.
Walter: Why does Schiff want it taken down? Is he now the patrolman for the entire party? The go-between? I mean, what does he care?
Matt: The sheer quantity of requests from Schiff’s staff to take down all sorts of things is pretty comical. There was a staffer who basically said this is a deep fake first of all. And then when he was told that this doesn’t violate our policy, because any sensible person would recognize that this is both humor and clearly altered they waited, and then the Schiff staff sent a letter back saying, yes, but there’s a slippery slope concern here.
Walter: Which is what? That if we start allowing caricature, we’ll end with what demonic portrayals of people?
Matt: Fake assassinations. I mean, who knows, right? Maybe that’s what they’re saying. But we know what they’re really saying, which is we just don’t want this unflattering picture that Donald Trump thought was funny because Trump retweeted this. And, Twitter had the backbone to say “no” in this case, but they did deamplify a whole lot of other stuff, which was pretty bad. But anyway, the news that the party has turned on Joe Biden I think is pretty significant. And especially since this is usually right around the time that the presidential campaign officially starts in public. Usually right around the end of the first month of that two years out period.
Walter: If the nominee is going to be Biden, he barely campaigned last time, so why would he need to start now? It’s normal that the campaigning starts now. But in Biden’s case, he won the presidency barely leaving his home. So, it suggests that they want a more normal campaign season this time that they would start now because certainly Trump’s going to start campaigning and DeSantis will too. And, if the Democratic nominee is indeed Biden or is set to be Biden, we can accept him to start sometime in October 2023 or later.
Matt: That’s too late though, that’s too late. The candidate now has to declare at least.
Matt: No, not legally. It’s state by state. I’m not sure what the actual deadlines are, but he declared very late last time, and it was roughly, April from here, so like four months from now in the cycle right? The candidates are going to start jumping in February in numbers.
Walter: Well, I think that clears the whole thing, frankly. They can’t, I think, looking at Joe Biden make any solid bets, even on his survival, until the real campaign season. So to forego the ability to launch other campaigns in time is probably not something they want to do.
Matt: Wouldn’t it be great if you were in suspended animation by the time, I mean that’s not a nice thing to say, but it would be a funny movie subject to imagine, it would be like Donovan’s brain, right? It would be a disembodied Biden brain that would just glow a little bit in a jar. And it would be that against DeSantis. They would have debates where DeSantis would say things and the brain would just glow. You wouldn’t hear what it said.
Walter: Matt, that’s not farfetched at all. I’m waiting for the first national candidate who pretty much just comes out and says, I do whatever the AI tells me, and I have the best AI.
Matt: Max Headroom.
Walter: Absolutely. I want a guy who, and it’s inevitable, who just comes out and says, “listen every time I’m asked a question, I type it into my AI, and it gives me an answer, and I read it as eloquently as I can. And that’s my edge. I have no human feelings, no preexisting prejudices of any kind. I do exactly what the world’s leading machine tells me to do”
Matt: I have a completely ethereal existence, right?
Walter: Yeah. Yeah. They’ve got to try it.
Matt: Maybe we should start a campaign like a write-in campaign for the actual Max Headroom, oh, no, he’s Canadian. He can’t be. That actor is Canadian.
Walter: Chatbot Joe, chatbot Joe. In fact, I think Joe could run as long as he’s alive and able to speak as the AI candidate and say, “it’s been brought to me that I have no memory left. I don’t know what I have in my garage. I’m not aware of my surroundings, but I am very good at repeating what comes into my earpiece. And what comes into my earpiece is state-of-the-art AI opinion and policy. And so I’m going to do that and may the best creature win.”
Matt: Wouldn’t it be great if they fitted him with a few funhouse effects so that his arms could occasionally move?
Walter: Dude, it’s already like that. It’s been established that he spends a lot of his time at a White House set, right? And sometimes in the windows, you’ll see weird things that aren’t the outside view of the White House, like golf courses and stuff like that. So an AI green screen president is absolutely possible, I mean, if it’s not happening now and they’re keeping it a secret, it will be happening by April.
Matt: Oh, man. I can’t, it’s just so funny that we’re joking about this, but not really. And that we’re probably years past the point of actual horror about something like this, right?
Walter: Well, yeah. I mean, I’m a schizoid character. I keep the horror in one half of my brain. I’m permanently horrified. But at the same time, I’m permanently fascinated in some absurdist way by our politics. And I think that a president who runs on the notion that he has no humanity, thus no racism, thus no gender bias, et cetera, has actually surpassed human history and is now a complete channel for a Google bot.
Matt: It would be like that original AI psychiatric diagnosis program. Remember Eliza?
Walter: No. How scary.
Matt: This was like back in the eighties, and there were no effects or anything. There was just a little prompt, and Eliza would say like, “how are you feeling today?” And then you would say, “like, well, I’m feeling a little blue, because this happened.” And then Eliza had a range of responses and would say things like, “well, how does that make you feel?” Or, “Have you tried talking to your mother?” Or whatever. It was like that was the primitive attempt at human AI.
Walter: Well, what I’m talking about
Matt: That would probably win.
Walter: You know? I’m talking about Peter Sellers in Being There plus Max Headroom Equals winning major party candidate.
Matt: I like it. We have to work on that, and maybe we can officially get it to run.
Walter: Actually, Matt, we could make it a character on this show. All we have to do is come up with a crude animated picture of who this person might be, and then feed stuff into the commercial AI’s questions.
Matt: I love it. And let’s register it for the New Hampshire primary, New Hampshire and Iowa to start with. And let’s see how we do from there.
Walter: Does it say in the constitution that a presidential candidate has to be human?
Matt: I don’t know.
Walter: I think they have to be born and have an age.
Matt: I’ve seen genuinely crazy people on the line to register. There was a guy who was convinced that unlocking the power of hydrogen in the oceans was the solution to all of America’s problems. He runs for president every four years, or he did for a long time. I don’t know if you have to be a person or not, but I love the idea. Let’s figure it out. And maybe if there’s somebody in the audience who knows something about creating the animation and the AI and everything, let’s do it.
Walter: We could just project it on my face. I’m an American citizen, I was born long ago enough, and I’m not a felon, so you could just project this whole thing, on me.
Or find a guy on the street in Montana who has some ambition. Well, I think we’ve wrapped it up.
Matt: Yeah, we’ve wrapped it up. We’ve wrapped it up. I love it. All right. Well, Walter, I’ll see you next week, and thanks for coming on, and let’s do this thing. Let’s capture the White House.
Walter: I want to put it up in debate against them. And I’m sure it will win, frankly, because from what I’ve seen of this AI it has absolutely the same dull plodding artificial quality that the actual politicians do, but to a higher degree.
Matt: Ah, I love this idea. This is the funniest idea ever. I cannot wait to make it happen. All right. I’ll see you next week and thanks to everybody. We’ll see you then.
Walter: See you, man.